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 You are in: Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice > Former Secretaries of State > Former Secretary of State Colin L. Powell > Speeches and Remarks > 2003 > May

Remarks With Bahrain's Crown Prince Shaikh Salman bin Hamad Al-Khalifa After Meeting

Secretary Colin L. Powell
Treaty Room
Washington, DC
May 21, 2003

SECRETARY POWELL: Your Highness, it is a great pleasure to have you back in the State Department, and I might say to the press that we have just had an excellent conversation which befits the excellent relationship that exists between our two countries. And I expressed to His Highness our thanks once again for all the support that Bahrain has provided to the United States, not only in this present moment of challenge and crisis, but over the years when others were not in a position or could not find themselves to be in a position to support us.

I also might take this opportunity to announce that the United States will be entering into discussions with his country on a free trade agreement. He met with Ambassador Zoellick earlier today and we expect an announcement from the White House any moment.

So, Your Highness, it is a great pleasure to have you here, and thank you for all your support.

CROWN PRINCE AL-KHALIFA: Mr. Secretary, it is a great pleasure to be here. I am very happy at the results of this meeting and of this trip. This is a historic time for the Kingdom of Bahrain, and I congratulate His Majesty on his tireless efforts to find ways to boost the economic relationship so that it can mirror the military and political relationship that our two countries have shared for well over 50 years. We stand in steadfast support for the war on terror and we welcome the longstanding relationship that we have with the United States.


QUESTION: May we ask our guest if --

SECRETARY POWELL: Yes, Barry. Go ahead.

QUESTION: Is there alarm in your country about al-Qaida?

CROWN PRINCE AL-KHALIFA: It is a reality that we live with. We are vigilant. We are aware of movements and we must do all that we can to disrupt the activities of that organization or any other organization that seeks to harm the interests of us or of our friends.

QUESTION: The situation with the two tractor trailers, there was a report today in The New York Times indicating that intelligence analysts, U.S. intelligence analysts, indicate that these tractor trailers, the only rational reason that they probably produced germs for biological weapons. Your take on that? And does this prove -- does this serve as a vindication for what you said before the UN regarding these tractor trailers?

SECRETARY POWELL: The intelligence community has really looked hard at these vans, and we can find no other purpose for them. Although you can't find actual germs on them, they have been cleaned and we don't know whether they have been used for that purpose or not, but they were certainly designed and constructed for that purpose. And we have taken our time on this one because we wanted to make sure we got it right. And the intelligence community, I think, is convinced now that that's the purpose they served.

"Vindication" isn't a word I would use. I think we knew what we were saying when we went to the UN on the 5th of February, and I was pleased to be the one to present the case. But this certainly is a good example of the kinds of activities that that regime was involved in for so many years, and which formed the basis of the UN charge against them that was contained in Resolution 1441. They were in material breach. They stayed in material breach. They did not do anything to fix the situation; and, therefore, they suffered the serious consequences that followed, and now the people of Iraq are liberated.

I am also sure that, as our experts continue to examine sites around the country, more information will be forthcoming as to Iraq's weapons of mass destruction programs.

QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, what used to be known as the Iraqi opposition is not happy, or at least some of them are making known they are not happy, by the one-month delay in the next meeting. Can you explain why that delay is necessary, and what response you have to them on this?

SECRETARY POWELL: I don't know that there was ever a fixed period in which we were going to put in place an interim Iraqi administration. I think Ambassador Bremer got over there, got on the ground, talked to a number of people over the last week or two, and came to the conclusion that this looked to be the appropriate timeline.

It might disappoint some people. It might make other parties pleased. What we have to do is do it right -- and not be in a hurry, but do it right -- so that we put in place a responsible government, a lasting government, a government that will be reflective of all the people of Iraq, and we should not be in a hurry. And that is the point the President has made repeatedly. We are there to do it right, however long that might take.

QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, has the Administration gotten any further in determining the authenticity of this tape that is said to be Al-Zawahiri?

SECRETARY POWELL: I haven't heard anything in the course of the afternoon. I don't know.

QUESTION: And what about the protest to the Government of Qatar in running -- with Al Jazeera running the tape?

SECRETARY POWELL: We think it was unfortunate that Al Jazeera ran the tape. All it does is heighten tension throughout the region allowing, terrorists to have this kind of access to the airwaves. I spoke to the Qatari Foreign Minister about it earlier today. I think they are taking some action, but it was -- it's too late. The information is already out there on that tape.

Do we know if it's an accurate tape? Is it not accurate? Who knows? But, in any event, it's heightening tension throughout the world and it spreads more hatred throughout the world, and I wish they had made a different editorial judgment about it.

QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, obviously, there is an increasing threat to American interests abroad. Every day the State Department seems to be putting out a new travel warning, warning Americans of the threat to American interests.

What can you say to Americans that are very concerned about their safety overseas, and what the U.S. Government is trying to do to eliminate their vulnerability?

SECRETARY POWELL: We are doing everything we can, working with host countries, to secure facilities to make sure that airports and other places of ingress and egress are screened, to know who is coming into a country. We tell our citizens traveling overseas to stay in touch with our embassies, to watch our websites, to follow our travel advisories, and to exercise caution as they go about their travels.

I would not want to see all travel shut down. I hope Americans will continue to travel, but that they will do it in a way that reflects the danger in the particular area they are traveling to with the warnings we have in that particular area. I am constantly reviewing these warnings to remove them as quickly as possible. I have an obligation to encourage travel, both by Americans to other countries, from other countries to America, but I also have an obligation to let Americans know of particular threats that exist in areas, and we will constantly balance that, and always in the direction of trying to remove any kind of a threat alert once the danger is passed, or there is no need for such an alert.

QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, the Saudis apparently have made a few arrests in Jeddah on the latest threat there. Have the Saudis told you or told the U.S. that what was planned was a 9/11-style attack, flying a plane into a building?

SECRETARY POWELL: I have only seen -- thatís speculation. I haven't heard directly from the Saudis myself yet, and I don't know if our intelligence and law enforcement people have or have not.

Anyone else? Everything good?

(No response.)


CROWN PRINCE AL-KHALIFA: Thank you very much.

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