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Remarks After Meeting With Spanish Foreign Minister Ana Palacio

Secretary Colin L. Powell
Washington, DC
September 8, 2003

SECRETARY POWELL: Good afternoon. Minister Palacio and I have just had a good conversation. We discussed the situation in Iraq. I, again, thanked her for the strong support that the Spanish Government has provided, and especially the presence of Spanish troops.

We talked about the draft resolution that is now being considered by members of the Council. Members of the Council are coming up with suggestions and ideas, and as part of the normal process in developing such a resolution, they will all be taken into consideration.

Our ambassadors in New York are hard at work and they'll be having consultations today and tomorrow, and I'll be speaking to Kofi Annan later this afternoon.

We also talked about the developments in the Middle East, Prime Minister Abbas' resignation and Abu Alaa being nominated to be the new Prime Minister. And we hope that however it turns out, whoever the Prime Minister is -- and I would suspect it is going to be Abu Alaa -- that he will make a commitment to fight terrorism. I hope that he will be given the political authority, the security forces and the financial assets that are needed to undertake this task.

So once again, Ana, a great pleasure to have you here at the Department.

FOREIGN MINISTER PALACIO: Well, the pleasure is mine. And if I just can add a few words. I have -- we have discussed what came out of the Gymnich meeting of foreign ministers in the European Union, and especially my very positive impression vis--vis the resolution on Iraq.

I think that from this meeting in Lago di Garda came out very clearly that we have to face this responsibility of the international community, and we all are committed. And the European Union has a very clear interest, if only because when Turkey is a member of the Union, we will have a border with Iraq. So Spain, once more, reaffirms its commitment to the reconstruction and to the future of Iraq.

And we have discussed the Donors conference that will take place by the end of October in Madrid. And I would say that I was very glad about the decision, the political impulse to put Hamas on the charities, and some names of some Hamas leaders into the terrorist list of the European Union.

I think that once more, terrorism and peace cannot go together and that after -- especially after the Jerusalem terrorist attack, the last one, in August the 19th, the European Union had to take this step forward.


QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, Kofi Annan has suggested that the UN has experience of East Timor and Afghanistan and elsewhere to take the political and reconstruction role. Why won't the United States agree to let the UN take that over from Jerry Bremer?

SECRETARY POWELL: I think the UN has an important role to play, as the President has said, a "vital role," to play with respect to the reconstruction efforts and also with respect to the political developments that are ahead of us. And we are in close touch with Kofi Annan, and Sergio de Mello was doing an excellent working with Ambassador Bremer in moving the political process forward.

And so I think the UN should play a role. But should it the only role, to the exclusion of what the Coalition Provisional Authority has been doing and needs to continue doing in the future? No, that I couldn't agree to because I don't think it's in a position to do so.

And we are working closely with the Iraqi Governing Council and we have now created a cabinet -- they have created a cabinet -- and the resolution we have put forward puts the responsibility on the Iraqi Governing Council to come up with their transition plan as to how they want to regain their sovereignty and over what timetable.

And there is no reason that Ambassador Bremer and the Secretary General's representative cannot work together to help the Governing Council come up with that plan for submission to the Security Council.

SECRETARY POWELL: Mr. Secretary, are you planning to go to Geneva on Saturday for the meeting with the Secretary General, is it?

SECRETARY POWELL: I'm going to be talking to -- I'm going to be talking to Secretary General Annan about it in just a few moments' time. I know that he will be in Geneva for other meetings on the 12th with his representatives, and so we're looking at the scheduling aspects of it and what the agenda will be for the meeting. But I'll be talking to him about it in the next few minutes.

QUESTION: Have you given yourselves any deadline for this resolution that's going to be presented by the U.S. and the UN?

SECRETARY POWELL: No, we haven't. I think it's important to get a good resolution, one that enjoys, hopefully, unanimous, support of the Security Council. I think that is possible.

We have a common goal: to return sovereignty to the Iraqi people as fast as is possible, as fast as is practicable. And if we all keep our eyes on that common goal, it seems to me we should be able to get a resolution that will enjoy strong support and, hopefully, unanimous support. But we've set no artificial deadline on that process.

QUESTION: Mrs. Foreign Minister, Tayseer Alouni, the Al Jazeera reporter, was in Spain for two months before he was arrested. Is your department taking action to make sure that there is no undertones to his arrest?

FOREIGN MINISTER PALACIO: Well, first of all, may I just insist that this is a judicial decision and the government, of course, has to comply and to accept any judicial decision, and this one is not -- no exception.



(The Secretary escorts the Minister to her car.)

QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, how have your talks gone, and especially with the European Economic Union, as well as with the United Nations, concerning this development with Chairman Arafat, the new -- the resignation of Abu Mazen?

SECRETARY POWELL: I've been in touch with them all weekend long. I spoke to Foreign Minister de Villepin a few moments -- about an hour ago. I've spoken to High Representative Solana today. I've also spoken to Minister Frattini, the presidency of the European Union. And I've spoken to Nabil Shaath of the Palestinian Authority. I spoke yesterday to Silvan Shalom, the Israeli Foreign Minister.

So we're in close consultations, and now I want to go speak as well to Kofi Annan. And we're watching these developments. We have to see what political authority and what security forces will be under the new Prime Minister, which will permit him to do his job of representing the Palestinian people, but also dealing with the terror that has kept us from moving forward like we would like to move forward on the roadmap.

Thank you.

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