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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 > August

Press Briefing

Secretary Colin L. Powell
Manila, Philippines
August 3, 2002

QUESTION:  Sir, the Iraqis have written Secretary General Annan, seeking a meeting with President Bush.  Can you comment on this?

SECRETARY POWELL: The Iraqis have constantly tried to find a way around their obligations with respect to inspections.  They have met several times now with Secretary General Kofi Annan and with Hans Blix.  They understand what is required of them.  There is no need for further clarification or discussion of a comprehensive approach.  The approach is clear and spelled out in appropriate UN Security Council resolutions.  Inspections arenít the issue; disarmament is the issue.  Making sure that they have no weapons of mass destruction and they did what they said they were supposed to do, but we know that they havenít, at the end of the Gulf War.  So the issue is removal of all weapons of mass destruction.  Inspections were an attempt to get into that question, and we should not allow the Iraqis to try to change the goal posts or to come up with a new comprehensive approach.  We have seen this game before.

QUESTION:  To follow up, Mr. Secretary, does that mean that you donít want new inspections in Iraq?

SECRETARY POWELL:  I did not say that.  What I said was rather clear. 

QUESTION:  It suggested that -- let me --

SECRETARY POWELL:  No, what I said was rather clear.  We have seen the Iraqis try to fiddle with the inspection regime before.  There have been several direct conversations between the Iraqis and Kofi Annan, and they understand what is required.  You could tell from language the Iraqis have now sent us, a request to UN, that they are looking for comprehensive review, they are looking for some way to get out of the clear requirement that they have.  The President has previously said that he supported inspections, but we have to understand clearly that the goal is not inspection for inspectionís sake.  The goal has to be disarmament and removal of all capacity for weapons of mass destruction.  Having said all of that within a UN context, the United States continues to believe that regime change will be in the best interests of the Iraqi people, people of the region and the world.

QUESTION:  Are you concerned, though, that if they do admit new inspectors, it will begin another long process, similar to what we have seen before, and that it may be more difficult to move against them militarily? 

SECRETARY POWELL:  We have not yet decided to make any moves militarily.  As we have said previously, the President does not have a plan on his desk, and I donít want to get into the hypotheticals of the future at this point.

QUESTION:  Mr. Secretary, I believe weíve reported that in the next round of military training here in the Philippines, that the Pentagon envisions American troops would operate at the company level and join Filipino forces on some jungle patrol.  Do you expect to discuss this kind of detail with President Arroyo today, and is that decision, the policy at the moment?

SECRETARY POWELL: I wouldnít expect us to get at that level of detail. That is more appropriately done between two militaries and the two defense establishments. I think that what is well known, however, is that as part of our future cooperation with the Philippine Armed Forces we will continue to assist them in training, perhaps at company level, for the purpose of enhancing their proficiency. It will go back to a more normal kind of military-to-military relationship, not quite the way the exercises that just concluded Ė not that level or tempo. And, no, there is no suggestion that our trainers are there for the purpose of accompanying them into active operations, but to train.

QUESTION:  Can you tell us whatís the state of your talks with Palestinians as when you --

SECRETARY POWELL:  First of all let me join with everyone else in condemning the bombing that took place at Hebrew University the other day.  I regret the loss of life and my sympathy goes to the families of those who were lost.  Nevertheless, it just means that we have to continue to try to find a way forward.  We have to continue to try to find a way forward, which is the vision that the President laid out in his 24 June speech, and that means that you have to talk to people.  We have been in constant consultation with the Arab leaders, with Israeli leaders, and I am hoping that it will be possible to meet with Palestinian leaders in the near future Ė Palestinian leaders who are willing to take action, who are vested with authority to deal with us as a way of moving forward.  Now, when that meeting might take place, and who would be available for such a meeting, I think I will have to wait until I get back to Washington and see what the state of play is on Monday.


QUESTION:  Mr. Secretary, there had been large demonstrations against your visit here.  Many Filipinos are saying that the U.S. is using this war on terrorism as an excuse, to their contention, to re-insert itself -- itís military presence, here in Southeast Asia.

SECRETARY POWELL:  The Philippines is a place where people are free to demonstrate, and that is in the nature of a democratic system.  I understand there were both demonstrations for the U.S. and against the U.S. yesterday, and there may be more.  But the fact of the matter is the United States is not interested in returning to the Philippines with bases or a permanent presence.  We are doing everything consistent with the agreement that we have with the Philippine government, and there is no attempt to roll the clock back.  It is not in our interest or in the interest of the Philippine government.  I was chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff when they made the decision to ask us to remove our bases at Clark and Subic.  At that time, it was disappointing to me, but it was a bold decision on the part of the Filipino people that they wish to have their sovereignty intact without foreign bases.  We respected that.  We went forward as friends, and the relationship has been restored, frankly, to a very, very sound footing. I look forward to discussing all these issues with the President in a few moments.

Thank you, I really have to go.  See you all later.

8:50 a.m.

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