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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

Remarks with Singaporean Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong

Secretary Colin L. Powell
Singapore
July 30, 2002

PRIME MINISTER GOH: Let me start the interview with a few words. The Secretary of State and I had a good discussion on challenges facing the US and the countries in the region. The biggest challenge is of course global terrorism, and we spent some time discussing that and reviewed the cooperation that Singapore and US have in fighting this global terrorism. We are very pleased with our cooperation and very pleased that the Secretary is here to reinforce the message that we should be finding ways to control global terrorism and to fight it and defeat it eventually.

SECRETARY POWELL: Well, thank you very much, Mr. Prime Minister, and indeed I would like to thank the Prime Minister for the strong support that Singapore has provided in the global campaign against terrorism, the recognition that terrorism is a threat to all civilized nations. And the Singaporean Government has met the challenge. They are working with us on a number of initiatives. One I might mention is the global shipping terror initiative, where we will inspect containers in Singapore, seal them, and then send them on to the United States, and thereby facilitate entry into the United States. And this is the first place we are piloting it in this part of the world. We're piloting it in other ports as well around the world. And this is reflective of the fact that Singapore has always been forthcoming with respect to these sorts of initiatives and in the level of cooperation they have provided to us.

I also expressed my appreciation to the Prime Minister for the work we have been able to do with Singapore in the UN as an elected member of the Security Council, and congratulated Singapore on the fact that they will be taking over Secretary Generalship of ASEAN next year. And we look forward to the invigorating leadership I am quite sure that Singapore will bring to that task, and the United States stands ready to work with Singapore as they take on those new responsibilities.

So Mr. Prime Minister, thank you for your hospitality. I look forward to seeing the Senior Minister in a little while. Thank you.

QUESTION: (Inaudible.)

SECRETARY POWELL: Well, we continue to follow the various statements that are being made by Pyongyang, and they continue to be positive. I understand there were some statements made earlier today with respect to how North Korea may be trying to introduce market mechanisms into their economy. So this is interesting. I will follow it closely. And we still do not have anything to say with respect to a meeting with the Foreign Minister. I'll make a judgment on that after I get to Brunei and have had a chance to consult with my other colleagues.

QUESTION: A question to you, sir. Can you tell me to what extent you think radical Islam is entrenched in this region? Was it simply an aberration that you discovered this plot earlier this year that members of al-Qaida were able to come to what is known as a very law-abiding country?

PRIME MINISTER GOH: Well, it took us by surprise. We thought this could be because of this (inaudible) by Muslims in Singapore who (inaudible) to them in a sense segregating themselves from the other communities. We did not expect that there were groups who were prepared to commit terror against (inaudible) and other Western interests. But Singapore has targets too in Singapore. So we were taken by surprise.

This was English-educated people in the secular schools who (inaudible) that minds could be influenced by (inaudible) teaching of Islam and how outsiders could now exploit their minds to create terror on the business of certain religions.

QUESTION: My question to you is about the US-ASEAN and anti-terror pact. Do you see it as a turning point in the fight against terrorism, and do you have any reservations about this pact?

SECRETARY POWELL: No, I think it is a good pact and I think it will make a contribution to our campaign against terrorism, and I'm looking forward to having further discussions about other initiatives we might take when I meet with our colleagues in Brunei tomorrow.

QUESTION: Thank you.

QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, I understand your country's been quite (inaudible) on the war against terrorism. Did you discuss that? And if you did, did you ask Secretary Powell to discuss this when he visits Indonesia this week?

PRIME MINISTER GOH: We discussed the situation in the region and of course Indonesia is a quite permanently discussion, so it's a general discussion and (inaudible) going to Indonesia where I think you would consider it advantage to Indonesia .

SECRETARY POWELL: We did discuss it at considerable length, and I look forward to my conversations with Mrs. Megawati and other officials in the Indonesian Government later this week. We have some ideas and some initiatives that we will present to them that I think will help them in their efforts in the campaign against terrorism.

I think they recognize the danger that we all face. I think that they have been cooperating more fully with us as time goes by, and I'm quite sure that Mrs. Megawati is committed to this cause.

QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, while the ASEAN has shown a commitment on anti-terrorism in cooperation with US, they also call for a relationship beyond anti-terrorism. So how would the US address on this call?

SECRETARY POWELL: I'm sorry, I didn't hear that.

QUESTION: At the ASEAN meeting yesterday, while they agree with the pact on anti-terrorism, they also call for a relationship beyond anti-terrorism between US and ASEAN.

SECRETARY POWELL: Yes. Oh, yes. I think it would be a mistake for us to focus ASEAN and the ASEAN Regional Forum solely on terrorism. There are many things we need to talk about -- economic issues, political issues, issues of poverty. I wouldn't just restrict it to that. It turns out to be the most important security -- regional security forum for this part of the world, but I think we can broaden this agenda and talk about other issues. And I have found that when this group of ministers get together, we seldom are constrained by a particular agenda.

QUESTION: (Inaudible.)

PRIME MINISTER GOH: Well, I think we've got to examine the basis for the US going to Iraq. We've got to look at the evidence, the reasons why they go to Iraq, because that's a very, very different problem and the implications of that move would be quite severe. So at this stage I think it's academic. It's an academic question at this stage.

QUESTION: Will the Secretary's anti-terrorism pact necessarily be an increased deployment of US troops to the region? Because I know this was one of the concerns that was raised at the opening of the ASEAN ministerial meeting yesterday. That's one.

And second of all, do you think that there is a need to balance this with the need to accommodate local sensitivities and particularistic approaches to anti-terrorism measures, given that many of these countries are predominantly Muslim?

SECRETARY POWELL: With respect to the second, let me start with the second part of the question. You always have to balance the actions that you're going to take and the military deployments you might take with all the sensitivities. The United States Armed Forces in these sorts of operations go where we are invited, and we go and try to be helpful to the nations that invited us to come in and help them. We try to do it in a way that is sensitive to their history, their culture, their traditions and their political systems and their political needs. I think we demonstrated that recently in the Philippines where we were invited in to help train Philippine troops, and I think we did it in a rather effective way, to the satisfaction of President of the Philippines and the people of the Philippines. And so that's the way we go about these missions, try not to be heavy-handed, try to go to help.

And the pact yesterday, to get to the first part of your question, does not in any way signal a sudden new deployment of US troops. US troops are in Asia, have been in Asia for many years now, and I think we have been a stabilizing influence in Asia. And for that reason, President Bush is determined to keep US troops in this region as friends, not as foes, not as aggressors, seeking nothing but to help our friends feel secure in their own countries as part of sometimes of alliance or just partners with the United States of America.

PRIME MINISTER GOH: Okay, one last question.

QUESTION: Mr. Minister, your government has said publicly that it favors resumption of a military relationship between Indonesia and the United States. Could you talk about why you think that's important and why it outweighs the human rights concerns that severed that relationship in the first place?

PRIME MINISTER GOH: Well, I cannot say it would outweigh the human rights considerations because human rights considerations are important for all of us and also for the US if we were to resume relations with TNI in Indonesia.

Why do we argue that military-to-military relations are important for Indonesia and the US? The reason is a simple one. In Indonesia (inaudible) hold the country together if TNI is breached and you have problems within Indonesia, the country could well break up. Indonesia does require the TNI to keep the place as one, as a group whole. And if President Megawati is to take action against the radicals, the President will require support of, of course, the police, and next the TNI. But the police is still fairly, shall we say, relatively weak compared to TNI in handling such conflict problems, so the President will need the support of TNI. But if you do not have the support from the US, the implication is TNI is not regarded as an instrument in this case of dealing with these radical terrorists. US could be (inaudible) on the TNI, find the TNI to be weak in handling problems to support the President.

And also, if you want to have influence with TNI in the longer term, you need to have relations. If you have no contact, you will not know the young colonels who become generals in the future. So we would support (inaudible) between TNI and the US Armed Forces.

SECRETARY POWELL: Excellent.

PRIME MINISTER GOH: Actually --

SECRETARY POWELL: The Prime Minister gave an excellent answer. The only p.s. that I might put on it is that there is not an inconsistency between military-to-military cooperation and abuse of human rights. As the Prime Minister indicated, if you get young officers, expose them to a military organization that is within a democratic political institution, such as the United States, then that rubs off on them. You can enhance human rights, you can improve human rights, by exposing them to the best examples of military organizations that are under civilian political control and have a commitment to the people and a commitment to human rights, and also a commitment to defend their nation. These are not inconsistent objectives or values.

Thank you.

PRIME MINISTER GOH: Thank you.



Released on July 30, 2002

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