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Remarks With High Representative for Common Foreign and Security Policy of the European Union Javier Solana After Their Meeting

Secretary Colin L. Powell
C Street Entrance
Washington, DC
April 4, 2003

(2:50 p.m. EST)

(Press Corps singing "Happy Birthday" to Secretary Powell.)

SECRETARY POWELL: Thank you very much. You know how old I am, and that's enough of that. (Laughter.) Thank you very much. I'm appreciative.

And a great pleasure to see my good friend Javier Solana again, the High Representative of the European Union. And we were together yesterday for a number of hours and he is in Washington to receive an award from the East-West Institute, and I congratulate him for that.

And as we did yesterday, we reviewed the situation in Iraq with Operation Iraqi Freedom and we also have reviewed prospects for movement in Middle East peace and the status of the roadmap, and we're watching the work of Mr. Abu Mazen as he prepares himself to be confirmed as Prime Minister of the Palestinian Authority.

And we also discussed transatlantic relationships. We believe that yesterday's meetings in Brussels have helped to bridge some of the differences that exist, and I look forward to further such consultations and meetings.

So, Javier, welcome again.

MR. SOLANA: Thank you very much. And, Colin, you know how good it is to be 25. You realize that. (Laughter.) It happened to me a couple years ago. (Laughter.)

It is always a pleasure to be here and to have the opportunity of talking with the Secretary. We were today, as yesterday, together. We have continued today. And as he has said, the topics we have talked about have been well enunciated by him. I think the cooperation that was reinforced yesterday in the long session that we had in Brussels was very positive, and we have continued today talking about the Middle East and the transatlantic relations.

Happy Birthday, and thank you very much.

SECRETARY POWELL: Thank you very much, Javier.

QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, could you give us an idea of your views of the interim administration, how quickly it might be set up, the proportion; or if you want to be proportional about it, insiders, outsiders?

SECRETARY POWELL: All of these questions are under discussion within the administration. We have had several discussions this morning after I got back, Secretary Rumsfeld and myself, with Dr. Rice, and also in the course of the morning, with the President. We are anxious to move quickly now that the day of liberation is drawing near. I don't know when it will happen. But, certainly, we can see what's going to happen in the not-too-distant future, we hope.

And so we are hard at work on this issue. We want an interim authority that is representative of all the groups who have an interest in the future of Iraq. And as I have said on many occasions, we wanted to include those who are in the external opposition, who have worked so long and so hard and with such determination for the liberation of Iraq, but also individuals inside. And we are now putting together plans to structure that approach, and in due course we'll make it known to everyone.

QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, what about the timing? Do you think that a provisional government should be appointed before the country actually falls or there is a U.S. victory?

SECRETARY POWELL: Well, that is also one of the questions that we are examining now. And when we are finished our examination and are prepared to let everybody know what we are doing, we'll let you know what we're doing.

QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, what are your thoughts on the -- Saddam Hussein's appearance today on television, both the speech he gave, as well as the video that was seen of him walking around?

SECRETARY POWELL: I just caught a glimpse of it. I haven't had a chance to study it. And I have heard no reports on whether or not it is actually him, or whether it is accurate. I just don't know.

QUESTION: What is your guess?

SECRETARY POWELL: I have learned that it's wise to wait for experts to examine such things. I have no opinion on it yet because I really haven't studied it, and I haven't heard from our experts as to whether it might or might not be him, and when it might or might not have been shot. I just don't know.

QUESTION: Secretary Powell, what does that do psychologically? Does that help or hurt anything in our war? Is that some sort of --

SECRETARY POWELL: Well, we don't know what it is yet, and I really don't want to comment until we make a determination as to whether it was or was not him. Psychologically, it's not going to affect our efforts. Our troops know what they are there to do. They are there to liberate Iraq, and they will be successful in that mission. And whether he is there at the end or not, or found or not, is almost irrelevant. We are almost totally in control of the country and we'll be in complete control soon, and a better day is ahead for the Iraqi people.

QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, and also Mr. Solana, how much progress did you make yesterday on coming to a unified view on the role of the UN in post-war Iraq?

And also, Mr. Secretary, you had a meeting with your Russian counterpart yesterday. Did you get any clarification from him on the Russian role in this possible selling of military equipment to Baghdad?

SECRETARY POWELL: The purpose of our meetings yesterday was not to come to closure on the role of the UN, but to exchange views. Ultimately, that judgment will be made at the UN Security Council, and, of course, the Secretary General has to play a part in those deliberations and he was not there yesterday. I spoke to him a little while ago and gave him a report of our deliberations.

And so we are at the beginning of a process of dialogue, pragmatic dialogue, to determine what the appropriate role of the UN should be. The UN will be a partner in all of this. Everybody understands that. There is no disagreement about that. And as President Bush and Prime Minister Blair and Mr. Aznar said at the Azores summit, they expect the UN to play a major role as a partner in this effort. And we'll work our way through the intricacies of the role to be played by the UN in the days ahead.

With respect to Foreign Minister Ivanov, we did have a good conversation yesterday. We talked about the issue you made reference to with respect to equipment that might have been provided, and we have decided that it is best for our two intelligence services to finish their mutual analysis and discussion on this particular issue.

MR. SOLANA: I agree with the words of Secretary Powell. It was a good meeting. Of course, it was not a meeting, as he has said, to resolve all the problems, but we moved forward the idea that we have to continue talking and discussing the subject and taking a very pragmatic approach. I think it's as far as we can go today and we are going to continue working on that direction. But the UN will have, as the Secretary has said, a major role to play.


Released on April 4, 2003

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