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Interview by George Stephanopoulos of ABC's Good Morning America

Secretary Colin L. Powell
Kabul, Afghanistan
January 17, 2002

Aired 7:16 a.m. EST

MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: There are new reports out this morning that these warlords are blocking US military efforts to root out the Taliban and have essentially hijacked the new Afghan government.

SECRETARY POWELL: Well, I think we're the ones who are dominating Afghanistan at the moment. I think that Operation Enduring Freedom has been a tremendous success, and it continues, as General Franks and Secretary Rumsfeld have repeatedly said, we will stay here and finish the job until al-Qaida, the Taliban and the kinds of things you describe are no longer a threat to the Afghan people.

But Chairman Karzai is right. We have broken the back of warlordism. His authority is in charge. They have been here for three weeks. I think they are off to a pretty good start, and the United States will continue to help them through Operation Enduring Freedom, and so will the international security assistance force.

MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: Over the long term, is the United States willing to help extend the role of that international security force and actually join the international security force?

SECRETARY POWELL: We will always have a connection to the force and some part of the force in the sense that we are the enablers. I think it is unlikely, though, it would be necessary for us to have troops on the ground as part of that force, and that will be the case once Operation Enduring Freedom is over.

MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: Unlikely, but you're not ruling it out?

SECRETARY POWELL: Well, I don't know that I need to rule it out or in right now. I'm just stating the situation; that is, there are more than enough other countries that are ready, willing and able to be part of that security force, and we are cooperating with them, providing them enabling capabilities. And we'll continue to concentrate on Operation Enduring Freedom and going after al-Qaida and the Taliban.

MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: Sir, you're on your way to India in your mission to help reduce tensions between India and Pakistan. Just how dangerous is the situation between India and Pakistan now?

SECRETARY POWELL: Well, I think the situation has been very dangerous, and it continues to be dangerous. My most important desire and goal right now is to have both sides recognize that the way to move forward is with political and diplomatic actions and dialogue, and not let this slide into war.

MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: Finally, sir, several hundred United States troops are on their way to the Philippines to help train the Philippine military in their fight against terrorism. How is this different from the kind of incremental Vietnam-like missions that you have been very wary of over the course of your career?

SECRETARY POWELL: It's quite different. I mean, this is nothing like Vietnam. The Philippine Government has asked us to provide training to their forces so that they can conduct the kind of counter-terrorism operations that they feel they need to. The Philippine Government needs some assistance from us, and that is what our trainers will be doing. There is no intention for them to become active combatants. They are trainers. That is what the Philippines asked for, and that is what we have provided.

MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: Secretary Powell, thank you very much.

SECRETARY POWELL: Thank you very much, George.

Released on January 17, 2002

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