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 You are in: Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice > Former Secretaries of State > Former Secretary of State Colin L. Powell > Speeches and Remarks > 2001 > September

Statement at the Special General Assembly of the Organization of American States

Secretary Colin L. Powell
Lima, Peru
September 11, 2001

Thank you very much, Mr. President. Let me offer my congratulations to you on your election to be President of this most important meeting. And let me express also, my thanks to the government and the people of Peru for all the fine work that has been done in making this meeting possible and bringing this Inter-American Democratic Charter into being. I also express my thanks to all of my colleagues for their expressions of condolence, and I thank you for the resolution that was passed a few moments ago. A terrible, terrible tragedy has befallen my nation, but it has befallen all of the nations of this region, all the nations of the world, and befallen all those who believe in democracy. Once again we see terrorism, we see terrorists, people who don't believe in democracy, people who believe that with the destruction of buildings, with the murder of people, they can somehow achieve a political purpose. They can destroy buildings, they can kill people, and we will be saddened by this tragedy; but they will never be allowed to kill the spirit of democracy. They cannot destroy our society. They cannot destroy our belief in the democratic way. You can be sure that America will deal with this tragedy in a way that brings those responsible to justice. You can be sure that as terrible a day as this is for us, we will get through it because we are a strong nation, a nation that believes in itself. You can be sure that the American spirit will prevail over this tragedy. It is important that I remain here for a bit longer in order to be part of the consensus of this new charter on democracy. That is the most important thing I can do before departing to go back to Washington, D.C. and attend to the important business that awaits me and all my other colleagues in the administration, and all Americans. I will bring to President Bush your expression of sorrow and your words of support.

I thank all of you, and Mr. President, I hope we can move the order of business to the adoption of the charter because I very much want to be here to express the United States' commitment to democracy in this hemisphere. Terrorism, as was noted, is everyone's problem and there are countries represented here who have been fighting terrorism for years and have seen horrible things happen. It is something we must all unite behind. And we unite behind it as democratic nations committed to individual liberties, committed to the rights of people to live in peace and freedom in a way in which they and not terrorists select their leaders or define how they will be governed.

So I thank you for your expression of solidarity. I ask, Mr. Chairman, if it would be at all possible for the resolution to be moved forward for adoption so that I can be a part of the consensus.

Thank you very much.


Released on October 5, 2001

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