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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 > 2002 > May

Briefing Following Meetings in Iceland

Secretary Colin L. Powell
En Route to Gander, Newfoundland
May 15, 2002

SECRETARY POWELL: We will keep it relatively brief, but I think it was a pretty productive two days with my NATO and other European colleagues, and coming after Monday, when we were able to announce the strategic offensive reduction agreement with the Russians, I think it made for a pretty good 48 to 72 hours in US-Russia-NATO relations.

Many words have been used to describe what we did with Russia yesterday -- historic landmark.  I think words of that kind are appropriate.  It really goes beyond the Permanent Joint Council kind of arrangement that was set up a few years ago, and never really lived up to its full purpose.  I think the new NATO-Russia Council, with specific areas that we are going to work on, and more areas to be added to that list, really gives us something to get our teeth into, and the Russians are very excited to do that as well.  In our discussions yesterday, we made the point that we have to get to work on these specific subject areas, like counterterrorism, air space management, crisis management, civil exercises, civil emergency exercises and the like, and start talking about these right away so that we have progress by the time we all get together in Prague.

The President is looking forward, of course, to signing the agreement with his NATO colleagues and with President Putin at the NATO-Russia summit meeting being held for the purpose south of Rome on the 28th of May.

We also had good discussions in the larger groupings that are now a feature of these NAC meetings.  The Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council, 46 nations sitting together talking about issues, and we loosened up the format this year, so it isn't just sitting there counting down 46 interventions, which can be an extremely painful process.  We kind of broke it up into panels, and then at lunch today we really got into a more open discussion, going back and forth.  I hope that in the future we will continue in that mode so that we can draw people out on what their concerns are, and we can get into greater levels of specificity.

We also had a good meeting this afternoon with Foreign Minister Zlenko of the Ukraine.  They of course are anxious to draw closer to NATO, but they have a longer way to go than the aspirants, or those nations that are not yet aspirants but are in the MAP program.  So I had good candid discussions with Foreign Minister Zlenko, not only in the Council format, but I had a one-on-one bilateral with him.

Foreign Minister Ivanov and I, as you know, continued our series of discussions, and now that the treaty is behind us, we'll be exploring new areas of cooperation.  I think what you might want to take away from all of this is that in the 16 months since the Administration came in, with the President promising a new relationship with Russia, and dealing with the thorny issue of the ABM Treaty, dealing with the thorny issue of missile defense, which so dominated our discussions last year, and going back to the President's May 1st speech at the National Defense University, where he put specificity to what we were trying to do on a strategic framework, and we managed to navigate our way through the ABM Treaty, getting the flexibility we need to pursue missile defense.  And guess what?  An arms race did not break out; quite the contrary.  We have now cemented what President Putin said on the day that we announced that we were leaving the ABM Treaty, and that was that this did not threaten him, and he was going forward for a new strategic framework with the United States to include reductions down to the levels of 1,700 to 2,200.  And we have accomplished that.

So I am very pleased at how we have been able to develop the Russian relationship.  The strategic issues are taken care of now.  Our missile defense is on its way.  The ABM Treaty will expire the middle of June. We have many other areas to pursue with the Russians -- economic issues, trade issues, accession to the WTO, helping them get rid of their inventories of weapons that they will no longer need, and there are going to be more of them they will no longer need as we go through this treaty period.  So I'm feeling pretty good about that relationship.

And something else that happened yesterday, the 15 to zero vote in the Security Council on the smart sanctions.  For those of you who have been banging around with me for the last year and a quarter, you remember that we sort of broke that logjam last summer with the Russians, when they said we'll work with you.  And then it took a long time to get it done, but we finally got it done, even bringing Syria reluctantly, and with some disclaimers as they voted yes.

And so far it has been I think a pretty good week, and I'm very pleased with this trip.  Now I'll take your questions.

QUESTION:  Mr. Secretary, you've seen the speech by Chairman Arafat.  He talked about restructuring his government; he talked about stopping terrorism against Israeli civilians; he talked about elections.  Do you have a comment?

SECRETARY POWELL:  I did see the speech.  I haven't read the entire text, but I read a pretty good piece of it off of the website in my holding room earlier today.  I'm encouraged that he would talk about reform in the same terms that we have talked about reform and others have talked about reform.  Ultimately, reform has to be done by the Palestinians.  We can help, we can encourage, we can press them, we can contribute to it.  But it is something that has to come from within if it's going to be real and if it's going to stick.  And I'm pleased that Chairman Arafat is speaking in these terms, and we stand ready to help with this process.

It has been part of our strategy ever since the President's 4 April speech, where he talked about the need for the Arabs to do more, for others to get involved, for the end of violence and terror.  But in that same speech, he also held out the prospect of the end of occupation, the end of settlement activity, and he has held out the vision of a Palestinian state.

And so we are going to continue moving on the road that the President put us on on the 4th of April, with all the ups and downs, with trips to the Middle East and all that comes with my going to the Middle East and coming back, and with all the setbacks that come along the way.  We are going to keep driving forward along the path that we started down on the 4th of April.

But tomorrow I hope to talk to George Tenet about his plans.  You may have noticed some reporting out of the World Bank today, where Jim Wolfensohn is committing himself again, not only to the rebuilding of Afghanistan, but he's also -- he did that today, but he has also reinforced -- I'm not sure if it was in the same report -- but he has reinforced to me his commitment to helping the Palestinian Authority and the Palestinian people.

So I am still encouraged, as I have indicated to you in recent days, that there are a lot of little pieces in play.  And I hope that we can keep building slowly toward that ministerial meeting that I have spoken of, and that will be another step, and then we'll see what comes after that, based on what the parties want to do.

As you have noticed, there are Palestinian and Israeli representatives in Washington this week.  We'll be talking to them.  So we'll see where this road takes us.

QUESTION:  Mr. Secretary, can you talk a bit more about your meeting this morning with the nine applicants to join NATO in November?


QUESTION:  The meeting with the nine applicants for Prague?  Yes.  And also, if you can mention your meeting with Mr. Berlusconi this morning also.

SECRETARY POWELL:  Thank you.  I did meet with the Vilnius Nine.  I always look forward to that opportunity.  They all want in; they're all working hard.  They know that we will have a robust enlargement.  They wanted to know if I could translate robust into any other terms, and I said robust is robust.  Keep working.  Don't worry about who's in, who's out right now; don't start handicapping yourself or anyone else.  Just keep driving forward on your MAP, Membership Action Plan.  Keep doing what you know you have to do.

And I particularly underscored to them something that I underscored in the meetings yesterday, and that is -- and we all did, all of the NATO members did -- you don't stop working when you get the invitation.  You've got to keep working.  As you can see from the meetings we have, even after you become a member of NATO, you pick up obligations to perform, to improve your capabilities.  So you have started in a game that has no end with respect to the obligations that are placed upon you, both as an aspirant and as a member.

We also made the point, because there was debate about it, and some speculation about it, that many of us believe that once the invitation is offered, then you have to go forward with it.  You know, they are not on some kind of probationary status until protocols are resolved and all that.  There's still some debate, discussion about that.  But that's our position, the US position.

With respect to Mr. Berlusconi, we celebrated the strength of US-Italian relations.  We talked about the upcoming summit.  I thanked him for his efforts on resolving the Church of the Nativity problem last week.  He and I spoke three times in 24 hours, trying to break through on that.  Now we managed to solve it; the 13 are out.  I think the EU, within the next day or two, will resolve how they get moved on from Cyprus.  They seem to now have a common legal framework that all of the EU countries will be using, setting out the terms and conditions under which they've received their allocation of these 13 Palestinians.  At least six countries have now agreed to that.  But that's -- I ought to let the EU give out that answer, not me.

QUESTION:  Sir, when you talked to Foreign Minister Ivanov, did you discuss their proliferation with Iran?  And did you -- you said coming over that they needed more proof.  Did you bring any proof with you, or will there be other talks?

SECRETARY POWELL:  Foreign Minister Ivanov and I did talk about proliferation.  I always mention it, and I'm quite sure that President Bush will raise it again with President Putin, particularly with respect to Iran.  We have a difference of opinion.  We have a disagreement.  We have given them information, obviously not everything that we have, but enough to, in our view anyway, persuade them that there is a problem. 

They do not deny that they are selling things to Iran, but they tell us that they don't believe they are selling anything that individually or together should cause us to have the kind of concern that we do.  But we do have that concern, and it will be an item of continuing discussion.

QUESTION:  Did you get any clarification in your bilateral with Foreign Minister Zlenko on these accusations of the Ukraine providing weapons for Iraq or high technology?

SECRETARY POWELL:  We didn't discuss it.  This is the question about some reports that the Ukraine had been providing weapons to Iraq.  We didn't discuss it in today's meeting, because it has been discussed in diplomatic channels, and he and I have exchanged letters on this, as recently as last week.  So we have no evidence that they actually have done it.  There are some reports that there might have been agreements to do it.  And so they have assured us that it didn't happen, and so there was no need to mention it today.

He made a passing reference to it at the beginning of the meeting, suggesting that they were sensitive to our concerns, and I took note of the fact that he had responded to our concerns.

QUESTION:  Mr. Secretary, can you say anything about your reaction to President Carter's remarks in Cuba, and also about what the President -- President Bush is going to be doing next week in terms of the next round of your own Cuba policy?  The Administration's Cuba policy and  --

SECRETARY POWELL:  President Carter I have worked with many times over the years, and he speaks his mind.  He spoke his mind with respect to our policy, which he would like to see changed, but which is not going to change.  I think the President will reinforce that when he gives his speech, and I'm sure it will be a speech, though, that also offers hope and promise to the Cuban people. 

President Carter also delivered a straightforward, tough message to the Cuban leadership, and also a message of hope to the Cuban people that they could be living life under a democratic regime, and that democratic regime would be part of a community of nations in the Western Hemisphere, and would bring a better life to the people of Cuba.

So I think that President Carter gave a message to us and gave a message to the Cubans.

QUESTION:  If I could just follow up on Todd's question.  What about Administration policy, though?  Do you have some new things -- does the President have some new things in mind in terms of new controls on travel to Cuba and so forth?

SECRETARY POWELL:  I think it best I allow the President to announce what he has on his mind when he gives his speech next week.  It's safer that way.  (Laughter.)

QUESTION:  Are there any Middle East travel plans?  Not yourself.


QUESTION:  (Inaudible.)

SECRETARY POWELL:  I need to talk to George.  We've talked to him on Monday -- when did I leave?  When did we leave?  Monday.  Yes, I talked to George Monday morning.  And Richard Armitage had been talking to him yesterday and today, and I think George will have some plans for me to look at tomorrow.  And if he goes -- and I think he will -- it will be in the not-too-distant future.  I'd say within the week.  We're debating where exactly he should go.  It's more important to him to meet with the right people, as opposed to where he goes.  But he is going to be starting on this phase of our strategy, and his exact travel plans I do not have yet.

QUESTION:  Will anybody from the State Department accompany him?

SECRETARY POWELL:  We haven't made that decision.  We have been examining that specific question.  But I want to get a better handle on what George wants to take up first.  And if it's to broaden out the arms security and other transformation efforts, or things like that, then we might accompany him.  I'm sure he will be accompanied by our guys in the theater -- you know, Ron Schlicher.  You know them all.

QUESTION:  Thank you, sir.

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