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Interview With Phoenix TV

Secretary Colin L. Powell
Washington, DC
February 19, 2003

QUESTION: Good morning, Mr. Secretary.


QUESTION: Welcome back to our program. Thank you very much for joining us today.

SECRETARY POWELL: It's a great pleasure to be with you again.

QUESTION: We're privileged to be speaking with you prior to your trip to Asia.

The war with Iraq looks imminent. Why do you choose this particular time for your Asia trip?

SECRETARY POWELL: Well, I am looking forward to the Korean inauguration of a new president on the 25th of February, and since I was in the region, it was useful to stop in and spend time with my Chinese colleagues. I have excellent relations with my Chinese colleagues, especially with Foreign Minister Tang.

And it will give us another opportunity -- it will be the fourth time in the last month -- for he and I to discuss issues having to do with Asia -- the situation between the region and the D.P.R.K. and its nuclear programs. We will talk about our bilateral relationship and, of course, we will talk about Iraq.

The United States and China are unified in our desire to find a peaceful solution to the situation with Iraq, but the United States and China are also unified in UN Resolution 1441, which we both voted for as permanent members of the Security Council to see that Iraq gets rid of its weapons of mass destruction, that it is disarmed. And so far Iraq has not complied with the terms of 1441. Even though the inspectors have been able to go back in, Iraq continues not to provide the inspectors what they need to do the job and disarm Iraq, so this will be an opportunity for me to discuss this once again with my Chinese colleagues and point out to them that the United States feels strongly that we cannot just allow inspections to continue forever, and the answer is not more inspectors, the answer is Iraq compliance. And if Iraq does not comply, then the United Nations Security Council must consider whether or not other action is appropriate. And this will be a subject of discussion with my Chinese colleagues.

QUESTION: Let me ask you this question, which is being asked by everybody in this whole world, is the war with Iraq in weeks? End of February or early March?

SECRETARY POWELL: Well, you are assuming there is going to be a war with Iraq. We are hoping for a peaceful solution, but we cannot just wait forever. The President has made it clear that he feels the international community must come together to see that Iraq is disarmed.

If Iraq doesn't disarm with the help of inspectors then --


SECRETARY POWELL: -- military force will be necessary --

QUESTION: It's a matter of time when --

SECRETARY POWELL: -- but you're asking me -- no, no. You're asking me when a war starts and I'm trying to say that we hope a war does not start. But we must not be afraid of the use of force if that is what is necessary to disarm Iraq. It is only the presence of force, principally U.S. and the United Kingdom force in the region now, that provided the pressure that forced Iraq to --

QUESTION: Can you give me a timeframe?

SECRETARY POWELL: No. No. You're asking a question that, of course, you do not expect me to answer. When does a war start?

QUESTION: You have said that China has considerable influence with D.P.R.K. And what do the U.S. hope regarding China's role in defusing the crisis in the Korean Peninsula?

SECRETARY POWELL: Well, we think that China has a very sound policy with respect to nuclear programs on the peninsula and that policy is clearly that there should be no nuclear weapons on the Korean Peninsula. And President Jiang Zemin gave that information, that policy, to President Bush when he met with him at his ranch in Crawford. So we believe that working with the Chinese leadership and with other leaders in the region -- in Japan, in Russia, in South Korea, Australia, elsewhere -- we all have an interest in a denuclearized Korean Peninsula and that's why we believe it is appropriate for all of the regional powers to work together with the D.P.R.K. to show to the D.P.R.K. that a better future awaits their people, that we can help them with their economic development, that we have no intention, the United States nor any other nation in the region has any intention of invading or attacking the D.P.R.K. And we need the D.P.R.K. to step back from its nuclear programs so that we can step forward and help them with economic development, with feeding their people; and we hope that this can be done.

We understand that D.P.R.K. believes that they only should talk to us. We are prepared to talk to the D.P.R.K., but we believe it is more appropriate for it to be in a multi-national setting because other nations in the region are affected, not just the United States.

QUESTION: That's a question I wanted to ask you. The D.P.R.K. wants to deal with the United States directly, but the U.S. prefers to solve this problem in a multi-national framework. What's your strategy and approach to ending the impasse?

SECRETARY POWELL: Well, we will continue to discuss it with our Chinese colleagues and others in the region and we'll continue to communicate through various channels to the D.P.R.K. that the United States has not intention of invading it, the United States wishes to help it, the United States is interested in helping the people of the D.P.R.K. who are starving and that, ultimately, we know that we will have conversations with the D.P.R.K. We believe those conversations would be more effective and would provide a more lasting solution to the problem if they began in a multilateral framework and they included other nations.

QUESTION: Do you expect that China will ask for certain concessions from the United States in exchange for its help with DPRK, for example, with regard to the ongoing issue of U.S. arms sales to Taiwan?

SECRETARY POWELL: I would not expect we would talk in those terms. China and the United States when we talk to each other are two responsible, important nations that have a good relationship with each other and we tend not to talk in terms of concessions. We fully understand China's concerns about arms sales to Taiwan and I reassure my Chinese colleagues at every opportunity that the United States remains committed to our one China policy, the three communiqués, and we also have our responsibilities under the United States - Taiwan Relations Act; and we will always keep those elements in mind as we sell weapons to Taiwan. It will always be for defensive purposes and nothing that would provide a threat to China.


Released on February 19, 2003

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