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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

Press Briefing With Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Syed Hamid Albar of Malaysia

Secretary Colin L. Powell
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
July 30, 2002

FOREIGN MINISTER HAMID: Thank you very much and I am sorry to keep you waiting. I really appreciate Secretary Powell visiting Malaysia and I think that it has been a very useful visit. We have always looked forward to the visit of the Secretary of State to Malaysia. He has had a good discussion with the Prime Minister, the Deputy Prime Minister, and myself. We covered areas of bilateral interest, regional as well as international interest. All and all, we think that the discussion has been constructive. We were very frank. We were able to exchange views that will deepen and strengthen further bilateral relations. The U.S. is an important partner in the development of ASEAN and Southeast Asia as a whole.

SECRETARY POWELL: Thank you very much, Mr. Minister and I thank you and the Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister for the hospitality that you extended to me and my delegation. And I agree with you fully that our conversations were thorough in discussing bilateral issues, regional issues and trade issues and a number of other issues that we have in common.

I have been looking forward to this visit for a long time and am pleased that I was able to stop here on the way to the ASEAN Regional Forum Meeting and I look forward to a subsequent visit here to spend more time and see more of the country. We are sorry that we kept you waiting and in the interest of time we will go right to questions.

FOREIGN MINISTER HAMID: Yes, please.

QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, have you yet made a decision on whether you will meet your North Korean counterpart in Brunei? And Minister Hamid, did the United States ask anything of you specifically or offer you anything specifically to increase your cooperation in the war on terrorism? And did they ask for the extradition of anyone you have in detention?

SECRETARY POWELL: I haven’t made a decision yet with respect to my North Korean colleague. We’ll make a judgment on that after I get to Brunei.

FOREIGN MINISTER HAMID: On the question of terrorism, I think this is one area where we have worked effectively and strongly with the U.S. and we are very happy with that relationship. And now we are looking at the specific areas of working together. I would not discuss what it is as yet, but we are looking forward to having something substantive between the U.S. and Malaysia where we can cover the region and where it will be a forum for discussion and for exchange of views, and I think it is very useful.

With respect to the extradition, we have agreed with the US that whatever – if they need for evidential purposes anyone in Malaysia, whom they need to interview or they need to discuss, they can go through the normal channels that we opened between ourselves and the US for this purpose.

QUESTION: Did your discussion with the Secretary this morning also touch on the Middle East issue? Would you like to share with us?

SECRETARY POWELL: Yes, we did discuss the Middle East in all three meetings, and I described to them President Bush’s vision as contained in his 24 June speech and his commitment to bringing into being a Palestinian state, hopefully within three years, living side by side in peace with Israel.

I described to my colleagues the efforts we have underway with respect to security transformation within the Palestinian community, with respect to our efforts to improve the humanitarian situation within the towns and villages of the occupied territories.

And I wanted to make sure they knew that the United States intended to remain fully engaged until the President’s goals for all the peoples in the region, for these two nations to live side-by-side in peace (inaudible) peace comes to a reality.

FOREIGN MINISTER HAMID: In our case, we always believe that the United States has got the biggest role to play in order to realize the hope of seeing a peaceful Middle East. I think the Middle East conflict was going to be resolved and I think the explanation and the information and the discussion that we had with Secretary Powell was most useful and productive and we are very glad to know that the United States remains fully engaged to see a peaceful resolution in the Middle East.

QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, I was wondering if you had discussed human rights issues and particularly with respect to the treatment of detainees who were being held without trial in Malaysia who are suspected of having ties to terrorist groups? And Mr. Foreign Minister, I wonder if you could comment on whether you see any difference between those detainees and the detainees the United States is holding at Guantanamo Bay?

SECRETARY POWELL: We did discuss human rights in each meeting in the context of our counter terrorism efforts. I made the point to all my interlocutors that we still believe strongly in human rights and that everything we do has to be consistent with universal standards of human rights. We talked about the ISA which the Malaysians have used for purposes I am sure that Minister would be better able to explain. And I also touched on the case of Mr. Anwar Ibrahim in my meeting with the Foreign Minister.

FOREIGN MINISTER HAMID: I think Malaysia places a lot of important to human rights. But I think in so far as exercising the universal standards of human rights at the same time looking at the national interests from the national perspective, we explained that we have never used the ISA for purposes of frustrating our political opponents. But it is used for purposes of ensuring that the peace and the stability of the country is protected. If anybody takes an action which will jeopardize our security, then we have to take action.

I think this type of exchanges and creating understanding is very good for us. With the United States’ position, we have got certain position that we hold. I think that it has been very friendly, we have reassured him that we believe in human rights, we believe in the rule of law, we believe in the independence of the judiciary but there may be differences at the end of it when those things are implemented on the ground. I think overall, we have no problem between ourselves in explaining the whole point of view. I think that’s all. Just one last question, and then we have to go.

QUESTION: Do you consider Anwar Ibrahim a political prisoner?

SECRETARY POWELL: Yes, as you know, we believe the (trial) was flawed. The Appeals Court has acted on the first charge and that is the end of the process as it is envisioned in the Malaysian law. But we have always felt that the (trial) was flawed, and we had a candid discussion about this matter. One of my associates met with his wife this morning as well, to express our interest and concern. Thank you.

FOREIGN MINISTER HAMID: Okay, thank you very much. We explained our position and our position should be understood in that way, according to the rule of law and our judicial process. Thank you.

SECRETARY POWELL: Thank you.



Released on July 30, 2002

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