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Joint Press Briefing with The P5 Foreign Ministers and UN Secretary General Kofi Annan (English-Language Portions]

Secretary Colin L. Powell
Geneva, Switzerland
September 13, 2003

SECRETARY GENERAL ANNAN: Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen. I hear you had a power failure in the room where we had intended to meet; we couldn't believe it because here also when we discussed Iraq we talked of the power shortages and water and all that, only to see that we have it in Geneva as well.

We've had a very good meeting this afternoon. The meeting with the five permanent members of the Security Council today enabled us to conduct a thorough review of the main issues of Iraq and to do so in a constructive atmosphere with the view to identifying the points of convergence.

A unified approach by the permanent members would make it easier for the Security Council as a whole to devise an effective policy. Consensus is essential and achievable but consensus is not enough. The Councils' approach must be coherent and well defined. We all share the aspiration to transfer power to the Iraqi people as soon as possible.

We discussed the security situation and I conveyed the concerns of the humanitarian community. As you know I met them here yesterday. I conveyed their concern and that it requires both adequate military deployment and a clear political horizon for the transfer of authority to Iraqi institutions.

Questions of future multilateral force authorized by the Security Council was also discussed. Discussions today were not intended, and I repeat, not intended to devise specific solutions. They will contribute to building consensus towards the future of Iraq including the definition of UN role.

We also had the chance to discuss the situation in the Middle East. The members reaffirmed their commitment to the Quartet's road map. The permanent members of the Security Council recognized that both sides have obligations under the Quartet's road map and must fulfill them and that it was essential to go ahead with the implementation.

The Quartet principals will meet in New York. We have agreed to meet in New York later this month to consider all relevant aspects of the issue and determine how best to help the parties move forward with the process.

We will now take your questions.

QUESTION: All of you between the French proposal for sovereignty and the US and UK positions and other positions in the meeting. And have you discussed the French proposal to send troops to Palestine and Israel in order to be above or between both sides? Thank you.

SECRETARY GENERAL ANNAN: No, we discussed all aspects of the issue and as I said we came here to have a frank discussion with the determination to continue the process in New York and all these issues have been discussed. The question of what we do in Middle East and the need, perhaps, to take bolder steps were also discussed. Would anybody else want to say something?

QUESTION: This is a question for the Secretary of State Mr. Powell. Which signals do you get from the other nine members of the Security Council for your draft resolution and which signals do you get especially from the German government. Thank you.

SECRETARY POWELL: We have received positive responses from everyone, but of course there are differences of opinion on different aspects of our draft resolution and you're well aware of those differences. Dominique de Villepin and I have discussed our differences and I've discussed differences that we have with Germany. The important thing is that we spent our time today looking for points of convergence and there are many, and we have gotten a better understanding of our views which we can communicate to our permanent representatives back in New York for them to pursue the work next week. It's also important - we thought - that we involve the other ten members of the Council, and will instruct our permanent representatives to do that as well. I am taking seriously all the comments that I receive from my colleagues on the Security Council. It is always the intent of the United States to listen to others and hear ideas put forth as we put our ideas forth and that's the way resolutions are developed. So I will leave this meeting encouraged with the points of convergence, but also recognizing that there's still some difficulties and differences that have to be worked out. What we're all committed to, as the Secretary General said, is to put authority back into the hands of the Iraqi people for their own destiny, for their own future as fast as is possible but do it in a responsible way.


QUESTION : (In French)

SECRETARY POWELL: Dominique and I had excellent discussions and we have learned enough about each others positions and I think both of us would say that there is a basis for our representatives in New York to undertake discussions next week to see if we can find a consensus.

For the UN official translation of the entire press briefing : http://www.un.org/apps/sg/offthecuff.asp?nid=484

Released on September 17, 2003

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