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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 > July

Roundtable With ASEAN Journalists

Secretary Colin L. Powell
Washington, DC
July 25, 2002

QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, yesterday we met and just chatted and how would be the rules. We will ask one question --

SECRETARY POWELL: You made a conspiracy? (Laughter.)

QUESTION: One person, one question. But (inaudible) to third round or more --


QUESTION: Third round. We each got -- each person wants three shots, no?


QUESTION: So we start. But thank you for the interview. Thank you very much.

QUESTION: Shall we just go ahead with it?


QUESTION: I get to do the first one. Secretary Powell, the violence in the Middle East still has escalated, and the peace process has been stalled. The Malaysian Prime Minister Dr. Mahathir Mohamed has advocated finding the root cause of the problem, the reason for their disenchantment, and the hatred there in order to move the peace process forward, and having UN peacekeepers stationed in the hot spots like Gaza and the West Bank to prevent further bloodshed. What is your -- the US position on this?

SECRETARY POWELL: We don't think it would work at this time. President Bush has put down a solid framework of how to proceed, and it begins with the end of terror activities; it begins with the end of violence directed against innocent civilians; it begins with we believe the transformation of the Palestinian community into more responsible actions on the part of its leaders. And it also involves obligations that Israel will have to meet.

As the President has said and we have said, Israel has to act in a way that recognizes the consequences of its actions when it undertakes an action such as it did yesterday morning, I guess it was. And as we move forward, Israel has to recognize that the occupation has to end, getting to some of the root causes; that the end of settlements has to take place. So Palestinian communities have to be opened up. But it is difficult for the Israeli side to move as fast as some might like them to if when they begin to open up, terrorists come back in.

So what we have to do is to condemn terrorism in all of its forms. And I know that Dr. Mahathir believes that, and condemns terrorism in all of its forms. It's a plague on the face of the earth. It cannot be seen as an acceptable way of trying to achieve a political goal. And those terrorists who undertake these kinds of acts are not only killing innocent civilians; they're really destroying the dreams of the Palestinian people to have a state. There is a plan out there; there is a way to execute this plan. It begins with the end of terrorism.

The United States will remain committed to working with the parties, working with our friends in what is called the Quartet, and working with the Arab nations and all nations around the world who believe in peace to see if we can not get this peace process moving forward. And we will not be deterred by acts of violence and acts of terror that come along. We are committed to trying to find as quickly as we can a way forward that will create a Palestinian state for the Palestinian people, a state that will live side by side in peace and security with Israel.

QUESTION: Does that include the dismantling of the -- the what do you call it?

SECRETARY POWELL: The settlements?

QUESTION: The settlements, yes.

SECRETARY POWELL: The settlement activity has to stop. Dismantlement is another issue that will have to be determined between the two sides as the state is created and what the boundaries of the state are and who is in the state and who is not in the state. There was a way designed at the end of the previous administration to deal with the settlement problem. And in due course, we will have to find a way to deal with the settlement problem in order for there to be coherence to the Palestinian state.

But yes, it is a major issue that will have to be dealt with, both the construction of settlements as well as what happens to the settlements that are there now when a state is created.

QUESTION: (Inaudible) the inquiry. (Inaudible) against the recent (inaudible) of -- why does the United States (inaudible), particularly in the Philippines, when there are (inaudible) more and more (inaudible)?

SECRETARY POWELL: Well, the Philippines welcomed us. We have experience in the kind of -- dealing with the kind of challenge they were facing from the Abu Sayyaf terrorists. And as a result of discussions with the Philippine Government, they asked us to assist in the training of their forces, and we were pleased to do that. And I think that training has paid off in terms of the effectiveness of the Philippine armed forces, who are operating where the terrorists are. And they have had some success. Unfortunately two of the hostages were killed in the recent operation, but then they had some success in capturing and killing in that incident at sea some of the leaders of this group.

But it is up to the Philippine Government to decide where they might want to receive support from. They may wish to cooperate with other Southeast Asian nations to obtain support in their efforts. But that is an answer and a question for the Philippine Government. We were pleased that they wanted to cooperate with us, and we're pleased to help them.

QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, what do you think of Indonesian Government priorities for example (inaudible) women? Should they clean up their human rights violations first, or should they (inaudible) in the war against terrorism? Could you also touch on the US Government plan to resume military-to-military cooperation?

SECRETARY POWELL: I don't think it's an either/or. I think that all nations and Indonesia must deal with terrorism, and must deal with terrorism through a combination of legal means -- in other words, going after illegal organizations and going after illegal financing. They need to improve their intelligence capability. They need to improve their law enforcement and police capability to go after terrorists. And they need to make a commitment as a nation to go after terrorism.

But they also, in the course of dealing with internal problems and the use of the military in dealing with internal problems, there is an expectation in the international community that human rights will be protected and preserved. We believe that for a military organization to have the support of its people, it has to show its people that it is defending the state, defending the people, but doing it in a way that is protective of human rights and human dignity. And we have had discussions on this with all of our friends around the world, to include the Indonesians.

With respect to our military-to-military relations with Indonesia, we are reviewing all those programs now, and I may have something to say when I'm in Indonesia.

QUESTION: Secretary Powell, the Free Trade Agreement that's now being negotiated between Singapore and the United States also is strategic in nature, and security (inaudible) confident economy. What role do you see the State Department playing to help to nurture (inaudible) the good fight?

SECRETARY POWELL: Well, with respect to trade agreements, they negotiated primarily with Ambassador Zoellick, the Trade Representative, and with the able assistance of other Cabinet ministers, such as Commerce Secretary Evans and our Secretary of Agriculture and others.

But the State Department plays an important role because the President's policy is free trade, open trade. More and more nations are gaining accession to the World Trading Organization, and multilateral free trade agreements, as well as bilateral trade agreements, such as we're negotiating with Singapore. And that really serves our foreign policy interests.

I am a great believer in free trade, not just as a trade expert, which I'm not -- but as the chief diplomat of the United States, it benefits our foreign policy for us to have open trade with other nations. And the more barriers we can get rid of, the more opportunities we can create to trade freely and openly on the basis of competition and who can produce the best product at the best price is in our national interest, and we believe the national interest of all the nations with whom we deal.

And so the State Department does everything we can to facilitate these kinds of agreements, working closely with Ambassador Zoellick.

QUESTION: Overall, what (inaudible) chief (inaudible)?

SECRETARY POWELL: This is a case where we have a country that we have very strong relations with going back many years. I have been there before, and since I was in the region, it was an opportunity to spend a brief period of time -- I wish it could be longer -- to exchange views with the leadership of Singapore at different levels and just to reaffirm to them how important we believe the good, strong relationship that we have is. And I'm sure they feel the same way.

QUESTION: Okay, Secretary, I have to ask about North Korea. And I think this issue will be a very hot issue because this morning North Korea expressed their regret to South Korea, which, South Korea, they understand that this is apology. And when you decided not to send Jim Kelly to North Korea, your Spokesman told us that that created the action in the Yellow Sea -- created the unacceptable atmosphere -- unacceptable action. That was what Richard told us.

But right now they apologize, and Japan and North Korea will begin to start the dialogue and then the North and South Korea will seem (inaudible) starting, heading to this dialogue. What is the US position? What good is US to the dialogue with North Korea? Do they support the bilateral with Japan and North Korea, and South and North Korea, just like before? What is your position? This will be a very big issue in Brunei, so --

SECRETARY POWELL: We have always supported dialogue between the sides and, as you know, we were anxious to begin dialogue again with North Korea, and we wanted to talk to North Korea about anything: proliferation and the size of their military and any other issues they wish to talk about, and as I've said previously, any time, any place. And we were about to begin those consultations again when we had this incident at sea which resulted in a loss of life.

It seemed to us at that time that until we got that incident behind us, the atmosphere was not proper for our delegation to go to North Korea. In addition -- yesterday the North Koreans were suggesting we might have more incidents, and then today we see that they have indicated their regrets for the incident and we have seen announcements of dialogue with the North Koreans and the Japanese, North Koreans and South Koreans, and then perhaps even other meetings going back and forth. We welcome this. We think this is a positive development and we certainly support these discussions between North Korea and South Korea and North Korea and Japan, and we will stay in close touch with both sides. And I'm quite sure it will be a subject of considerable discussion at the ARF meetings in Brunei, and I look forward to those discussions.

QUESTION: And you're not thinking that the atmosphere is not changing in a bitter way, but you tend -- you're --

SECRETARY POWELL: No. Well you, as you know from watching this over many years, things have a tendency sometimes to go in spikes. I hope that what we have seen today is not a spike but a new attitude on the part of the North Koreans to engage once again with the South Koreans and the Japanese. And we welcome it. We'll see what happens next.

QUESTION: How about you? How about the US?

SECRETARY POWELL: I constantly am reviewing our policy and our options as developments warrant, and this certainly is a positive development, although at the moment we have made no decisions beyond those you know about with respect to a dialogue or a meeting. But I don't rule anything out. I'm just not ruling anything particularly in.

QUESTION: In Brunei, also?

SECRETARY POWELL: I have an open mind and nothing has been decided one way or the other.

QUESTION: Sir, I'm just wondering, this is -- (laughter) --

SECRETARY POWELL: Well, we won't get five -- what does he want? Six rounds of five.

QUESTION: We have plenty of time.

SECRETARY POWELL: No, no. I have to be somewhere for lunch.

QUESTION: Well anyway, this is your first trip to Malaysia in a long time for a Secretary of State, and I'm just wondering what you hope to achieve at this -- or gain from this trip. And is there any chance of President Bush visiting Malaysia because of our close relationship in terms of trade and investment?

SECRETARY POWELL: Well, we do have a strong relationship with Malaysia in trade and investment and a variety of other issues. I think we have a common view of the situation in that part of the world. I can't tell you if the President will be able to visit Malaysia any time in the near future. His calendar is quite demanding.

This is my first opportunity as Secretary of State to visit Malaysia. I've been looking forward to it. It's a very important country that occupies a strategic position and I am anxious to exchange views on the situation in the region, our campaign against terrorism, what opportunities might exist for more trade and investment in Malaysia. And since it is the first trip as Secretary of State, I will also be in a listening mode. I find it useful when I go out on these trips to bring a message of friendship, a message of support; where there are differences, if there are any, discuss those differences, but then listen so that I can hear the views of the people I'm visiting with and bring those views back to Washington to convey them to the President, Members of Congress, and to the American public.

QUESTION: Secretary Powell, I have a running bet with my editor (inaudible). What would make you resign from the State Department, and would you consider running for President or Vice President?

SECRETARY POWELL: I have no political plans and no plans to run, and I haven't had for several years, although the question continues to be asked. But I'm pleased to be an appointed official, and for some reason the press feels it is necessary every two weeks -- (laughter) -- to write a story about whether I am up or whether I am down, whether I'm in or whether I'm out, and whether I'm going to resign or whether I'm going to stay forever.

But I have no intentions to resign, no plans to resign. And I wonder why they continue to write the story every two weeks.

QUESTION: Sir, how do you see the assistance of our movement in Aceh, Irian or Papua? What would be your suggestion to the Indonesian government, and would the US support more deployment of troops for that region?


QUESTION: Indonesian troops.

SECRETARY POWELL: Indonesian troops? You know, what deployments are appropriate is a matter for the Indonesian Government to decide, not for the United States to decide for the Indonesian Government. We would always encourage reconciliation; we would always encourage finding peaceful, political solutions to these kinds of problems. When a nation believes that it is necessary to use military force or police power, we would also encourage that it be done consistent with the rules of that nation, the laws of that nation, and is consistent with internationally accepted standards of human rights.

But I am anxious to visit and hear the views of the Indonesian leaders as to the situation they face in the places you just described, Aceh and elsewhere, and come back with a better understanding of the challenge they face.

QUESTION: Are you going to Aceh?


QUESTION: What are some of the brighter spots or the positive trends you see in Southeast Asia and (inaudible) in political and security trends?

SECRETARY POWELL: There are occasional tensions, but there is no threat of a regional war. The Southeast Asian nations have shown what is possible economically. They are coming through some of the financial difficulties that existed a few years ago. They are coming together in forums such as the ASEAN and ASEAN Regional Forum to discuss issues of common interest. And the campaign against terrorism has perhaps given a focus to the ASEAN meetings and ARF that might not have existed before.

And with that focus on terrorism, it also gives us the opportunity to focus on other things. There have been many changes that have taken place in that part of the world just over the last ten years, and not only financial ups and downs, but China emerging as a major economic power and the opportunity to be a power in other ways. And China's accession to the WTO, Taiwan's accession to the WTO. All of these create new opportunities. And to go to this part of the world now, to participate in these discussions gives me a chance to get a better sense of these opportunities and to hear the views of my Southeast Asian friends and other Asian friends as we sit and talk.

But I'm very optimistic about Southeast Asia. I'm very optimistic based on the fact that we have such good relations with all of these countries. I think they understand that the United States is an Asian nation, a Pacific nation, a nation that understands it has obligations in that part of the world, security obligations as a balancing wheel in Asia. And we will not step back from our security obligations in that part of the world.

But we have an obligation to help those nations that want to move down the path of democracy and free economy to do so and to give them all the support we can. And we have an obligation as well to do everything we can to enhance trade and economic development. And we have an obligation to be a good friend and to listen and to be mindful of concerns with our Asian partners.

QUESTION: Okay. Middle East. You explained to the world that you have to concede the security and political and then human assistance, a three (inaudible) to pile in together and you set up the task force, which Japan's included in this task force.

Would you explain, what do you expect Japan to do? Not only giving money -- we always put money at the last moment -- this is a bad behavior, I think.

SECRETARY POWELL: That's very good behavior.

QUESTION: What do you expect of us for this task force for the Middle East for this end to war against terror? We're -- also we're supporting a lot in the (inaudible), but you know, if something happened further, I don't want to quote, "You're right, all that," but even further, what do you further expect Japan to do, these kind of logistic exercises?

SECRETARY POWELL: Japan has been enormously forthcoming with respect to our efforts in that part of the world. And what's interesting about the Middle East is when we created the Quartet in Madrid a few months back, I think it was April, and it was essentially the European Union, the United States, the Russian Federation and the United Nations -- Japan is part of the United Nations -- but my Japanese colleagues made it clear to me that they wanted to play a more active role because they believed they had something to bring to the table -- not only money, but capacity and ideas. And Japan is an important nation.

And so I welcome the willingness of Japan to get involved in a variety of ways. And the experience that Japan has in recovery operations and reconstruction operations and building a new society -- all of that is relevant to what the Palestinians will be going through. And so one way to bring in that Japanese perspective and that Japanese capacity was through the creation of the task force, which includes now Japan, Norway, the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank. And Mrs. Kawaguchi has been very forthcoming in conveying her government's desire to play a more active role in the Middle East activity. Not necessarily in the nitty-gritty of negotiations and finding the peace process forward, but in contributing to reconstruction, humanitarian aid, and the experience of creating a modern, functioning democratic state.

With respect to other places such as Iraq, I've had no discussions with my Japanese colleagues about anything other than UN sanctions and the need for inspectors to go back in.

QUESTION: But the feeling -- you are feeling (inaudible) to the US ships in (inaudible)?

SECRETARY POWELL: The contribution that the self-defense forces have made was invaluable and it shows a new attitude on the part of the Japanese people that will allow their units to go into this kind of peacekeeping operation there. But I don't know of any other demands that anybody's thinking of placing on the Japanese government.

QUESTION: Thank you.

SECRETARY POWELL: Thank you. Bye-bye.

Released on July 26, 2002

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