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Press Availability With NATO Secretary General Lord Robertson

Secretary Colin L. Powell
Treaty Room
Washington, DC
February 20, 2003

(9:40 a.m.)

SECRETARY POWELL: Well, good morning, ladies and gentlemen. I have had the pleasure once again to receive the Secretary General of NATO, Lord George Robertson, and we've had a very good discussion following on the discussions that Lord Robertson had with President Bush last evening.

I had the chance this morning to again thank George for the superb work that he and his team, working with the United States team, and, frankly, the teams of many of the NATO nations, most of the NATO nations, in finding a solution to the problem we had with respect to providing support to a fellow NATO member, Turkey.

And I think we had a good outcome and I know that the Turks are pleased and we are certainly pleased, and it shows the vitality of the alliance and how we can find solutions to the most vexing, difficult problems. But what you need to find such solutions is a good leader, and George Robertson is such a good leader, and I thank him again for the hard work he and his staff put into this effort.

I also briefed the Secretary General on where we are with respect to Iraq and other issues. We also talked about Afghanistan, noting the work that has been done there over the past year plus in putting a society and a country and a government back together, and the continuing need there is now, will be, for military presence in the form of not only OEF, Operation Enduring Freedom forces, but the International Security Assistance Force.

And we noted that perhaps NATO can play a more active role as an alliance and not just member-nations of the alliance participating in ISAF. And so in the weeks ahead, we'll be exploring with Lord Robertson and his staff how best to accomplish this, and I'm very pleased that NATO is willing to play this more forward leaning role. And it's, once again, a sign of the vitality of the alliance and the continuing relevance of the alliance.

And so, George, it's a great pleasure to welcome you here, sir, and I invite you to say a word.

LORD ROBERTSON: Thanks very much, Colin. It's good to be here in the State Department and I like compliments and praise as much as anybody in politics or out of politics, but I want to place on record my thanks to you and to your people, both here and in Brussels, for the efforts that they put in, and indeed to those of the other nations who were determined to find a solution.

After some pretty tough talking and some strong opinions being raised, we got a result on Sunday night, late Sunday night, and we made a decision that led to a deployment yesterday of the protective measures for Turkey, and within a week the AWACS planes that defended America after the 11th of September will be flying over Turkey defending another ally under threat. That's what the alliance is about: strong and powerful in defense of the common interests and common values that we stand for. And I'm assuring everybody in the United States that the transatlantic link remains as strong as possible, that we can repair any damage to NATO's public reputation quite easily by the comments that are made and especially the deeds that are done.

As you say, Colin, Afghanistan is an area where NATO is now helping Germany and the Netherlands to mount the International Security Assistance Force, helping to bring peace and stability to that troubled part of the world, and the countries that are there just now, the Netherlands and Germany and to be followed on by Canada, are looking for more NATO support and that is something that the alliance will look to because we're interested in stability. And of course, Afghanistan has been for too long an exporter of trouble, instability, drugs and trafficking, and if we can help to reduce that threat to the whole of Europe, then NATO will play its part and do it strongly, too.

Thank you very much.



QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, is the aid package for Turkey still at an impasse? Has there been any give on either side since we last saw you?

SECRETARY POWELL: Well, as you know, we spent a lot of time over the weekend with our Turkish colleagues. I was with them till midnight last Thursday night and the President saw them on Friday, and then I reaffirmed to them yesterday morning in a phone call to the Prime Minister that our position was firm with respect to the kind of assistance we could provide with respect to the level. There may be some other creative things we can do, but the level was our ceiling.

And I know that they are in consultation now within their government, within their council of ministers, and I expect to hear back from them before the day is out. But I have nothing further to report, Barry.


QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, when do you expect a second resolution to be put forward, roughly what shape do you think it will take, and will it set any explicit deadline for Iraqi compliance?

SECRETARY POWELL: We are in close consultation with our friends in the Security Council and other nations around the world about continued Iraqi noncompliance with 1441. There was an article in the paper this morning that illustrated once again that they will take process and convert process into a way of avoiding their obligations under 1441, and we view this with great seriousness. It's the case we made last Monday at the United Nations that's what is wanted is compliance, and not necessarily more inspectors or more monitoring, because Iraq knows how to thwart those kinds of efforts.

And in the absence of such compliance, we believe that it is appropriate to put down a resolution in the very near future. I can't tell you exactly when we will do it, but it is not going to be in the far distant future, but in the near future.

And I think I will not discuss what the elements of the resolution will be until I've completed the consultation with our friends, and the same goes with respect to any timelines associated with a resolution.


QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, have you heard from Dr. Blix on what he is asking of the Iraqis vis--vis the al-Samoud II missile and other components related to it?

SECRETARY POWELL: No, I haven't heard anything today. As you know, the al-Samoud is -- he identified it and components such as engines and test stands and casting machinery and casting chambers and things of that nature -- are all prohibited items. They're not supposed to have them. And they are in the process, I think, of being positively identified and tagged. And I will wait to see whether Dr. Blix directs Iraq to take any action with respect to those specific items, but I haven't heard anything today.


QUESTION: Secretary Powell, as you know better than the rest of us, right now, the U.S. does not have the nine votes that would be necessary to pass a resolution. Is it a definite that the U.S. will submit a resolution, even if you think you don't have the votes? And how do you intend to win over at least nine, if not more members of the Security Council to persuade them that Iraq is not in compliance?

SECRETARY POWELL: Well, there's no resolution down so whether we have the votes or not is something of an academic question. We still believe that a resolution is appropriate. We're working on such a resolution. And we don't put a resolution down unless we intend to fight for that resolution, unless we believe we can make the case that a resolution is appropriate. And when we put a resolution down, we will then convey the argument to all the members of the Security Council as to why it is a proper resolution to support, and I hope we'll be able to achieve the support needed to pass it.


QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, today in the paper, some representatives of smaller countries on the Security Council are saying they actually wish they weren't in those seats right now because of the extreme pressure that the U.S. and other people are putting on. What can you say to that?

And I'm also interested in whether you agree with Lord Robertson that the sort of breaks and tensions in NATO can be easily overcome.

SECRETARY POWELL: With respect to the latter part of your question, I certainly do agree with George. I've been around this business for many years and I don't know how many times I have gone through wither NATO, the end of NATO, what comes next, the Warsaw Pact has gone away, why hasn't NATO? And voila, it's still here.

And I remember when I was Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, all the Russian generals would say to me, "Well, we got rid of the Warsaw Pact. When are you going to get rid of NATO?" I said, "How can we get rid of an organization where people keep applying to join?" And so it has gone from the 16 nations that we had, heading now to 26 nations, and it's a vibrant alliance which can deal with the kinds of problems that it just dealt with and it continues to be the single, the single organization that links the transatlantic community, North America with Europe. And it will continue to have value far into the future, and these problems come, they get dealt with by democratic nations working together, and they get put behind us and the alliance continues to move forward.

With respect to the elected members of the Security Council, there are always tough issues before the Council. All I ask of each of these nations is to weigh the facts, the weight the evidence, read Resolution 1441 again, and come to a considered judgment when it's time to vote. I believe that we should put trust in these countries, whether they are big or small. They all have sovereign rights to decide. We present our case. We don't threaten. We don't suggest that blackmail is in order. We present our case, and hopefully the power of our argument will persuade them to vote with us. But there are always difficult issues before the Council and this certainly is one of them

One last one.

QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, can you tell us what you expect to get out of the trip to Asia this coming weekend? How long after that do you think there might be a meeting with the North Koreans? And do you have a response to these articles of late that suggest that by not traveling more that you're somehow abdicating the job there?

SECRETARY POWELL: Yeah, I found that interesting over the period of the last ten days. Just for the record, I took 16 trips last year, 41 countries, and I also received a large number of visitors here, so I think I'm on the road a bit.

But I ultimately have to make the judgment of where my time should be spent. I am principal foreign policy advisor to the President and so I have to spend a goodly part of my time with the President, but I also have responsibilities to travel, and I do that.

But through the power of modern technology, the use of e-mail and telephones, that is another way to be in touch with the world without only living in an airplane to do so. So I think I have a right balance between phone diplomacy, diplomacy here in Washington and diplomacy on the road.

With respect to the trip coming up, I'm looking forward to conversations in Japan to thank them for the strong support that they have provided to the United States in a number of areas, but especially with respect to the Iraq crisis.

In China, I look forward to discussions with Foreign Minister Tang and other leaders. This, I think, will be the fifth time that I've met with Foreign Minister Tang in the last seven weeks, which I think is some evidence that we are in touch with our colleagues around the world.

And certainly the situation in North Korea will be a subject of considerable interest and discussion, but I cannot say to you now that we have found a way to arrange a meeting, a multilateral meeting, to consider the North Korean situation, but the United States and China does have a shared view that the North Korean nuclear program is not acceptable and that the Korean Peninsula must not have nuclear weapons. And that is a position that President Bush and President Jiang Zemin took publicly when President Jiang Zemin visited Crawford.

And then, of course, I think the highlight of the trip will be the inauguration of President Roh in Seoul next Tuesday, and I am very much looking forward to returning to Seoul for that occasion.

Thank you very much.

Released on February 20, 2003

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