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Remarks with Greek Foreign Minister George Papandreou after their Meeting

Secretary Colin L. Powell
Washington, DC
November 27, 2002

(11:25 a.m. EST)

SECRETARY POWELL: Good morning, ladies and gentlemen. I have just had a very fine conversation with my colleague, George Papandreou, Foreign Minister of Greece. We covered the usual bilateral issues that we always cover, but this morning we focused on the opportunity that is before us over the next two weeks with the possibility of a date, or a date for a date, with respect to Turkey's accession to the European Union, with the prospects of some movement forward on Secretary General Annan's plan for Cyprus. So a lot of pieces are coming together and we discussed this at some length -- Cyprus as well as European Union matters.

We also, of course, talked about Iraq and I thanked the Minister once again for the support that Greece has provided on the global war against terrorism. Let me take this opportunity again to express my admiration to the Greek authorities, the Greek Government, for what they have done in breaking the November 17th ring after many, many years of terrorism in Greece.

So, George, as always, welcome.

FOREIGN MINISTER PAPANDREOU: Thank you very much, Mr. Secretary. We had a very good conversation. The issues at stake are very important for the wider region. Europe is making an historic decision on the 12th of December, letting in ten new countries to the European Union, and hopefully we will be able to, with the help of Kofi Annan, get a solution on Cyprus. We are working towards the date of the 12th of December so that a united island could be welcomed into the European Union.

Of course, we also support the important decision that we will be making in the European Union about Turkey. Greece has been up front in saying that we would want to see a very positive message towards Turkey and therefore looking at a specific date for the beginning of accession discussions with Turkey and the European Union. This, of course, would be within the criteria that all candidate countries would have to fulfill, but I think it would be a very positive message and would keep, I would say, an important movement we are now seeing in Turkey for change, for deepening democratic institutions, human rights, and of course for the Cyprus problem.

Again, we have very much supported the UN resolution, the unanimous UN resolution and the work that Colin Powell has done to get this resolution, and are expecting full compliance for this resolution from the Iraqi Government and hope that there can be a diplomatic solution to this problem.

Thank you very much, Colin.

SECRETARY POWELL: I have only got time for one or two.

QUESTION: Do you expect any solution to the Cyprus problem by December 12, as you mentioned, sir, (inaudible) at the earliest?

SECRETARY POWELL: Oh, I do not know if we will have a solution or not. I think that the Secretary General has put down a plan that is now being looked at by all sides and I hope that both sides realize -- and I think both sides do realize -- that this is an historic opportunity to solve a longstanding problem, and the Secretary General has asked for a response by the 30th of November. I hope that both sides will respond in a way that allows the process to move forward. Then we will see what will happen over the next week to 12 days as to whether or not there is more progress that would fit into the progress that we hope to see made at the Copenhagen meeting.

QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, did you see the remarks attributed to Arafat's top deputy to the effect that the Intifada was a mistake?

SECRETARY POWELL: I just saw a press report on that this morning. I have not read it. I just saw the headline and so I cannot comment on it.

I believe it clearly was a mistake. It has not brought the Palestinian people any closer to a state of their own or to peace, and I think the sooner that terrorism and violence of this nature is ended, the more likely we are to move forward on the vision that President Bush laid out in his 24 June speech for two states living side by side in peace with each other.

QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, can I ask you about Prince Bandar and Princess Haifa? You were quoted as saying some things on your plane but you had not said anything on camera. What can you tell us about your understanding as to whether or not Princess Haifa inadvertently ended up giving money to two of the 9/11 hijackers? Also, what can you tell us about your relationship with Prince Bandar?

SECRETARY POWELL: I have known Prince Bandar and Her Royal Highness for close to 23 years. They are old friends of mine, as well as Prince Bandar being a professional associate for many years. As I said on the plane, I think it most unlikely that either Prince Bandar or Princess Haifa would knowingly provide money to individuals or organizations that were conducting terrorist activities.

You saw what the Prince and the Princess said in their interview yesterday, and I know that there are other agencies that are looking into this matter. So I think this matter should be looked into and hear from all sides and see what information and evidence there is before people rush and jump to conclusions as to whether or not something wrong has transpired or not.

We have a good relationship with Saudi Arabia. There are issues that we raise with them from time to time with respect to level of cooperation and some of the funding activities of non-profit organizations and individuals within the Kingdom. We work through these in the spirit of friendship as befitting the longstanding relationship that we have had with Saudi Arabia.

We have only got time for one more.

QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, is there a ban on your meeting, sir, with the Palestinians now? Did you delegate the meetings of the US Government to lower levels? Mr. Shaath is here. Are you going to meet with him?

SECRETARY POWELL: No, the reason we are keeping this press conference short is that Nabil Shaath, a friend of mine, is upstairs now with Mr. Armitage and I am going to go join the meeting. Thank you for that reason to end the press conference.

Thank you.


Released on November 27, 2002

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