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Remarks After Meeting with Hungarian Foreign Minister Laszlo Kovacs

Secretary Colin L. Powell
Washington, DC
October 3, 2003

(11:00 a.m. EDT)

SECRETARY POWELL: Good morning. I just completed a very successful meeting with my Hungarian colleague and friend, Laszlo Kovacs, and we discussed bilateral issues. I had the opportunity to thank the Minister for all the solid support that Hungary has provided to the United States during the campaign against terrorism around the world and the tangible support they have provided to us in Iraq and Afghanistan with troops.

We are very close to our Hungarian friends, and earlier this week I swore in our new Ambassador to Hungary, Mr. Burt Walker*, who will be taking up his duties in the very near future. U.S.-Hungarian relations are on a very, very sound footing. And so it was a pleasure to welcome my colleague and it's one of those very, very pleasurable meetings when the issues are easy, we have agreement on those issues, and we can celebrate the friendship that exits between our two countries.

So, Mr. Minister, welcome.

FOREIGN MINISTER KOVACS: Thank you. Thank you very much, Colin. A bit more than one year ago I came here as a newly appointed Foreign Minister of Hungary to convince the Secretary of State that Hungary is a faithful, close and predictable ally. Now, there was no need to convince him because we have more than one year behind us and Hungary proved itsa loyalty and its commitment to the joint struggle against international terrorism, as well as our commitment to the values, the shared values, in NATO and in the transatlantic community. We are very much for strengthening the transatlantic cooperation as a new member of the European Union, we do our best even inside the European Union that NATO and EU should cooperate closely and should not have any rivalry between the two.

And we discussed a number of bilateral issues. I've raised the issue of more U.S. investment in Hungary because that would certainly help to boost the Hungarian economy.

And I also raised the issue of Iraq, that we are cooperating closely. There are 300 troops in Iraq, Hungarian troops, and I explained and told to the Secretary of State that Hungarian companies are eager to participate in the reconstruction of Iraq and with our own experiences we are prepared to help the democratic development in the country.

SECRETARY POWELL: Thank you.

QUESTION: Sir, if things are so smooth, I thought I'd ask you about something else. The State Department is offering to help in the search for the person who leaked the CIA official's name. Can you say something about that situation? How might the State Department help?

SECRETARY POWELL: Well, we have been asked by the Justice Department, those who are conducting this investigation, to make ourselves available for any purpose that they have. We have been asked to take a look at our calendars and documents to see if we have any information that is relevant to this inquiry, and we obviously will cooperate fully with the Department of Justice in getting the answers that they seek, as the President has directed us to do.

So we are doing our searches in response to the letter we received yesterday, and make ourselves available. I'm not sure what they will be looking for or what they wish to contact us about, but we are anxious to be of all assistance to the inquiry.

QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, the initial reaction to the revised UN resolution has been somewhat cool from Secretary General Annan and also from France and Russia. What's your reaction to that?

SECRETARY POWELL: We think that it's a good resolution. We are anxious to hear from our Security Council colleagues. I talked to Dominique de Villepin, the French Foreign Minister, yesterday about it. I spoke to Secretary General Annan this morning, following up on some comments he made yesterday. And Ambassador Negroponte is meeting with the Secretary General this morning. And I've spoken to a number of other foreign minister colleagues.

And we are anxious to receive specific suggestions that they have in the hopes of getting as good a positive vote for the resolution as we can. But there are still some issues that relate principally to the speed at which one can transfer authority for the country from the Coalition Provisional Authority back to a responsible Iraqi government, and this has been a continuing debate.

We all have the goal -- turn it over as quickly as possible -- but we believe we have an obligation to turn it over to a responsible government that is able to handle that responsibility, and not just turn it over because two or three months have passed and we are anxious to remove the burden from ourselves. It is a burden that we picked up because we felt it was necessary to remove the Saddam Hussein regime for its violation of UN resolutions.

And for those of you who have not had a chance to read Mr. David Kay's report, I suggest you go to the CIA website -- it's quite easy to find -- and you'll find an unclassified version of his report which talks to the dozens and dozens of programs that they have uncovered dealing with weapons of mass destruction.

The Kay report also talks about a number of the issues that we have presented to the international community, I presented on the 5th of February in New York: missiles that exceed the ranges permitted by the UN that could go out to a thousand kilometers; unmanned aerial vehicles that they were developing; it describes in considerable detail the deception programs that the Iraqis had; and Mr. Kay documents the fact that they were doing everything they could to hide things from the UN inspectors who were sent in last year; and he makes the point that this is the beginning of a process, this is an interim report.

With respect to chemical weapons, there are hundreds of facilities that have to be looked at, 600,000 tons of munitions that they have to go through to see if there are any chemical munitions among them. He talks about the hard drives that have been destroyed. He talks about the possibility of laboratories where human beings were exposed to biological agents for testing purposes -- something we also talked about earlier this year.

And so I think one has to look at the whole report. Have we found a factory or a plant or a warehouse full of chemical rounds? No, not yet. But as he said, there is much more work to be done.

So I hope that as people examine the interim report, they will come to the conclusion that this was a regime that was determined -- whatever they had on hand at the moment -- they were determined to have the capability to develop chemical, biological and nuclear weapons, if allowed to do so, and it is clear that they never lost that intent. The programs were kept intact and they were just waiting to see if they could break out of sanctions, if they could break away from the constraints of the United Nations and start all these programs up again to build on top of that which they already had.

Mr. Kay also showed evidence of biological weapons elements such as botulinum, such as other horrible elements that the Iraqis were keeping hidden from the United Nations.

So I think it is clear that this was a regime that had not given up, had not abandoned, had not declared honestly to the United Nations what they were doing. And he is slowly uncovering it. It's one thing to talk about intelligence reports, another thing to talk about false declarations; now, we have people on the ground who are pulling it up, witness by witness, program by program, document by document. And as Mr. Kay said, Dr. Kay said, there's a lot more work to be done, and we look forward to his future reports and I congratulate him for the work that he's done so far.

To come back to the original question, I think it makes it clear that this was an evil regime that is no longer there. The people of Iraq deserve a better life and a better government, and we will work with our friends in the international community and the United Nations to provide such a government worthy of the Iraqi people.

QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, can I follow up? There are numerous other countries that the United States has said that are in the process of developing weapons of mass destruction: North Korea, for one; Syria, you've complained -- you've charged that they are developing chemical and biological weapons. This Administration went to war with Iraq, saying that the regime had weapons of mass destruction and it was an imminent threat to U.S. national security.

Are you still confident that actual weapons of mass destruction will be found in Iraq?

SECRETARY POWELL: Do you think vials of botulinum should constitute a weapon of mass destruction? Do you think missiles that are being developed outside of the requirements and restrictions of the United Nations that could carry such sorts of weapons out to a thousand kilometers, as we said we were aware, or that unmanned aerial vehicles are dangerous items that clearly suggested that this was a regime that was trying to develop more of these weapons, had these weapons, had used these weapons?

It isn't a figment of anyone's imagination that just 15 years ago they gassed and killed 5,000 people with sarin and VX at a place called Halabja I visited just a few weeks ago. They never lost that capability. They never lost that intent. And Dr. Kay, I think, has documented clearly the first line after his rhetorical question -- what have we discovered -- we have discovered, he says, dozens and dozens of weapons of mass destruction programs that had been hidden from the UN deliberately. And there are pictures in the unclassified version on the CIA website that shows the kinds of things that they were trying to keep hidden and away from inspectors.

And so there is no doubt about it. The difference here between Iraq and, say, other countries that we have concerns about is that Iraq was in direct violation of resolution after resolution after resolution, which called upon them to come into compliance. And Iraq is a country that has actually used these weapons. It was a danger. It was a danger to the world. How clear and present it was people can judge. We thought it was a danger to the world and had to be dealt with. That's what the United States did in concert with a willing coalition of nations and the Iraqi people are better off as a result, the region is better off, the world is better off, and we are even more convinced with the Kay report that we did the right thing.

Thank you.

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