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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 > December

Press Briefing On Board Plane En Route Bucharest

Secretary Colin L. Powell
Bucharest, Romania
December 3, 2001


QUESTION: How did it go with Sharon? Did you ask for restraint?

SECRETARY: It was a very very sober meeting. The President expressed his regrets and condolences over the terrible tragedy of the night before in both Jerusalem and Haifa. They went and sat down at the photo op, they had a good discussion and Prime Minister Sharon expressed clearly the need for Chairman Arafat to end the violence. He also made it clear that he recognized that they need to go forward eventually, find a way in to negotiations, and that he was committed to all the things he had been committed to before, that you canít move in that direction under current conditions of violence, nothing you have would not have expected him to say. He and the President engaged on this point, we all, as I did yesterday, have to remember there will be another day, and a day after, and a day after, and everybody has to keep that in its calculations as we move forward. That was pretty much it. Thatís all Iíd like to say on that matter.

QUESTION: Foreign Minister Peres.

SECRETARY: I donít know, Iím assuming that Mr. Peres will be there, I donít have any indications that heís changed his plans, but itís a very tense situation, so, if Shimon is there, weíll review where we are tomorrow, whatís transpired, and see what other actions the United States can help to try to get the violence down and let Mr. Peres know that General Zinni will be staying in the area, we remain committed to the vision that I laid out in Louisville, and the President laid out at the United Nations, and General Zinni is there, ready to help both parties engage toward a ceasefire. I will ask Mr. Peres his assessment of the situation and what his best estimate is of what will happen. Itís a little premature to guess what might happen.

QUESTION: What are you hearing from General Zinni?

SECRETARY: General Zinni has ideas that he was ready to put forward to the two sides as to how they could proceed, but for the time being, heís considering, continuing to study the situation, but he has got meetings with both sides at the moment, he may have by now, I havenít been in touch with my office in a couple of hours.

QUESTION: Do you have any, what else is the United States doing through the Arab allies, to try to pressure Arafat, do you have any confidence now that he is even capable or willing to comply with everyoneís requests?

SECRETARY: Weíre talking to Arab nations, and weíre also talking to European colleagues. I spoke to Kofi Annan last night, and Javier Solana, spoke to Prince Bandar, and my colleagues are speaking to others in the region. Bill Burns is on the phone, and our ambassadors are hard at work, all making the same point and saying the same message Ė that this is the time for Chairman Arafat to use all of his influence, all of his authority, all of his prestige, to bring these terrorist elements under control, because this is now not just an attack against Israel and innocent Israeli citizens, it is an attack against his very authority as a leader of the Palestinian people and as the leader of the Palestinian Authority, and itís a challenge we believe he must respond to. Consistent message we are delivering to him, I delivered it to him personally on Saturday night, I called him at 6:30 Saturday evening, shortly after it happened, and conveyed the message I just gave you in very direct and in no uncertain terms, I know that he is hearing it from a number of the Arab leaders, and I know he is hearing it directly from the European Union, Mr. Solana, and others who Iím sure are calling him as well.

QUESTION: But what about the issue, is he capable of complying?

SECRETARY: I believe he is capable of doing a lot more than he has done so far. I believe he is capable of doing a lot more than he has done so far.

QUESTION: (inaudible)

SECRETARY: He is going to do more, he is going to put 100% effort, he said this before, but I know that some of his Arab associates in the region are giving him suggestions of things he could do to demonstrate not only 100% effort, but results that should come along with 100% effort. (inaudible)

QUESTION: There are some hardliners in Israel who are saying Arafat is like Bin Laden (inaudible).

SECRETARY: I canít speak to every Israeli commentator. I think Prime Minister Sharon recognizes that Chairman Arafat is still the leader of the Palestinian people and Authority, and he has taken no action so far, nor do I expect him to take any action to go after Mr. Arafat directly, notwithstanding whatís some commentators may suggest.

QUESTION: Did you get some kind of understanding from the Israelis that they would give this a period of time before they unleashÖ.

SECRETARY: Weíve had no discussion with the Israelis about what they were going to do.

QUESTION: Did you ask for restraint?

SECRETARY: Weíve had no discussion with the Israelis about what they were going to do, and as youíve heard in statements that came out of the White House and Phil Reeker earlier today, and what I said on television, you understand that we are likely to (inaudible) a democratic nation. Prime Minister Sharon has an obligation to defend his nation, protect his people. He will have to make a judgment about what he should do, what the Israeli government should do, reminded that there will be a tomorrow, and a day after tomorrow, when we have to go back to a process that leads us out of this swamp.

QUESTION: Can you explain to us, since Crawford, itís been very difficult to understand how ABM is stuck?

SECRETARY: Who said it was stuck? Are you saying itís stuck?

QUESTION: Thereís no agreement, so it must be stuck. No bulldozers going to Fairbanks, ABM tests are coming up.

SECRETARY: Iím sure I will have discussions with Foreign Minister Ivanov tomorrow, and again on Friday, and then again on Monday, with Foreign Minister Ivanov and President Putin, on all of the issues on our strategic framework, strategic framework agenda, strategic offensive weapons, how we (inaudible) not lose as we move forward the verification and transcurrency provisions of Start I and Start II, Iím sure weíll continue our discussions on missile defense. (inaudible) There is a clock ticking, as weíve said all along, that in due course (inaudible) constraints of treaty, they know that, we know that, and we are in conversations with them.

QUESTION: (inaudible) Iraq

SECRETARY: I donít know if they want to raise it or not, Iím pleased that we were able to get sanctions, beginning of last week, by a 15-0 vote, the Security Council, youíve heard me talk about this many many times, Iím pleased that this time we have a time certain to Ö.one of the things Iíll be talking to Foreign Minister Ivanov about, so that we can get this goods review list in place for that May deadline. With the Turks, Iíll have good discussions on European security and defense proposal, thereís been some movement that I want to talk to Foreign Minister Cem, and Iím sure weíll talk about all the regional activities, I have no specific ????, the way in which the sanctions were rolled over this time, should not cause them any particular additional economic problems.

QUESTION: Do you expect that some kind of agreement with the Turks, formal agreement with the Turks while youíre there, on their role in Afghanistan?

SECRETARY: No, Iím not expecting to do that because Iím not sure what you mean by a formal agreement, we havenít come to a conclusion yet, within the United States or within the UN, about what is going to be needed in Afghanistan. Our commander on the ground, General Franks, has no immediate need for other forces to come in, although there are quite a number of willing nations ready to send forces, and until the provisional government is in place, there is not a body in position to ask for international forces to come in, and the UN has not asked for international forces yet. But clearly, weíre thinking about this, weíre looking at the modalities of that, and what nations might contribute, but I am not on this trip coming to nail the Turks to a commitment or make a formal request, because itís not my place to do that. Iím sure it will be something that can come up in our general discussion, as it will most certainly tomorrow at the OSCE meetings, which Iím looking forward to, OSCE now starts to concentrate on the counter terrorism fight and a new level of energy this might need.

QUESTION: on Uzbekistan, friendship bridge

SECRETARY: The question is the bridge first, weíre coming along well in all of our discussions, and I would expect based on what Iíve heard from the Uzbeks, that the bridge would be open in the near future, I think itís a matter of days, I think itís within a matter of days, the security, and physical conditions, the security aspects have been looked at, security issues that the Uzbeks have, have to be taken into account the bridge seems to be okay, and with respect to how much aid we are providing to the Uzbeks, I donít have the number, Richard may have the number, everybodyís always trying to push it up, but I think weíve given them, weíve allocated a nice piece of change to them, we want to do more, but that we have our own premise, Iím pulling a number out of my head that might not be right, I know itís not that high in terms of direct aid, and there are other things that weíre involved in, weíre looking at (inaudible) exchanges, theyíre very interested in partnerships going on with us, so there are a lot of things going on, thatís just one piece of it.

QUESTION: (inaudible)

SECRETARY: Perhaps, there may be some things that we couldÖ.

QUESTION: I just want to clarify, does President Putin want the U.S. to come on every testing regime we want to do on ABM and lay it out for them and lay out for them and then have a discussion? And, are we reacting to that as some kind of veto and are we looking at that as too much influence and something we donít want to get into. And is it their concern that we do it that way so that one of these test bans doesnít become a system as soon as the test is done?

SECRETARY: We are very reluctant to get into an arrangement where every time there is a test we have to have a discussion about the test.. We know the tests will ultimately go beyond the constraints of the ABM Treaty..thatís what testing is all about.. And if you are going to go forward and create a missile defense that in and of itself is going to violate the ABM Treaty , the tests in due course will violate the ABM Treaty.. Itís a given. Weíre not going to violate the ABM Treaty. America does not violate its treaties.  (inaudible)

QUESTION: One of the problems is getting the food into certain parts of Afghanistan. How do you do that without the security forces on the ground to protect the humanitarian workers?

SECRETARY: The preference would to be to see if we can get a level of stability in the country so that the indigenous forces that are there, the Northern Alliance will provide the kind of zone security to get rid of bandits on the road at check points that will give the NGOs, world food program and others comfort that they can do south to Mazir-e-sharif with some amount of safety, not perfect safety. Now if that doesnít happen there will be a lot of interest and pressure in bringing in outside forces to do that. But by no stretch of the imagination can you consider a large enough force that people are going to try and contribute to secure all of Afghanistan to make sure every road is safe.. This is not a little place like Bosnia and Kosovo. Weíre talking Texas and thatís going to take an awful lot of troops and that is not going to happen. You may have some specific areas around Kabul , maybe up around the North where that may be necessary. But the first instance we think would be a lot better where you can get the Northern Alliance and other armed elements to put in place sufficient security so that the food can move. Weíve had some progress (inaudible).

Released on December 4, 2001

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