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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 > October

Interview With Rachid Jaafar of Abu Dhabi Television

Secretary Colin L. Powell
Washington, DC
October 16, 2003


MR. JAAFAR: Mr. Secretary, thank you so much for this opportunity. I'm going to make it brief. The first question is on Iraq. The U.S. has made a proposal to the United Nations Security Council on Iraq. How do you see the chances of this resolution succeeding?

SECRETARY POWELL: I think the chances are great and they are improving. I am confident there are enough votes to pass it in the absence of a veto, and all those with veto power said they will not veto. So I'm confident it will pass in the very near future.

We are trying to deal with some of the concerns and ideas that have been brought to us by some of the members so that we can get as strong a vote as we can, as large a vote as we can, because that gives a more powerful signal to the international community.

But a resolution will pass, and it will show to the people of Iraq that the Security Council, the international community, is coming together to show their support for what we're doing in that part of the world by trying to help the Iraqi people create a new government for themselves, a constitution, have elections, and provide a better life for their people.

MR. JAAFAR: There are some countries, namely Germany, France and Russia, they made -- it appears that they made some concessions. Is that happening in the United States?

SECRETARY POWELL: Well, they had some ideas and we were able to accommodate some of their ideas and not accommodate other ideas. And we've been in a period of intense negotiations for the past 48 hours, and I am pleased that we have seen some movement forward. Whether we were able to satisfy all their concerns, or they were able to accept all of our concerns, that's what diplomacy is all about, and we're hard at work on that. And I will have to let each of them make their decision over the next several hours as to how they will vote on the resolution.

MR. JAAFAR: Some observers see that the resolution contains a clause, the United States keeping -- staying in charge while giving the Iraqi National Governing Council a measure of sovereignty. Can we reconcile both tracks?

SECRETARY POWELL: Yes. I mean, when you're having a race, a relay race, you have to pass the baton off at some point. Well, you just don't do it once. There has to be a period when the new government stands up, it starts to function, it demonstrates its capacity to govern; slowly, we start to pass the baton to it, we start to encourage it and give it more authority; and then, once there is a constitution in place and when elections are held and it has leaders that represent the people, then they have their hands fully on the baton, we let go, we leave.

We don't want to stay in Iraq any longer than we have to. It is the Iraqis' country, not ours. And we think we have done a noble service in getting rid of a tyrant -- no longer a danger to people in the region, no longer a danger to any of the neighbors, no longer have to worry about weapons of mass destruction while we debate how many there were. We don't have to worry about them any more.

And now, it's important for us to stay the course. The United States is keeping its troops in place and it's spending a great deal of money to help the Iraqi people. I think this is wise of us. It's noble of us, if I may be so bold to say that. And when the job is done, Iraq will have its own leaders again, and the sooner that happens, the better for us.

What we can't do is turn it over before they're ready, because then we would be setting them up for failure, and nobody would gain as a result of that process.

MR. JAAFAR: If the resolution succeeds, like you hope, will that provide a greater political cover for other countries to join the United States in the rebuilding process?

SECRETARY POWELL: I hope it will give encouragement to those countries that are considering a financial contribution, a military contribution, or just to get more politically involved. Yes, that is my hope. I hope it helps the donors conference that we'll be having in Madrid at the end of next week to help the Iraqi people.

MR. JAAFAR: Mr. Secretary, I'll move, if you don't mind, to the Israeli -- the Mideast peace talks, and especially the Palestinian-Israeli track. There was a bomb earlier today that hit the U.S. diplomatic security convoy that brought back again memories of instability in that region. Some talk about the roadmap as a dead project. Some still see hope. Is there still hope to salvage the roadmap?

SECRETARY POWELL: Yes, there's hope. The roadmap isn't dead. It's there. It's waiting. It describes what both sides have to do and what they said they would do -- their obligations. But until the Palestinian Authority deals with this issue of terrorism, it's hard to get movement. So I spoke to the Prime Minister-designate this morning, Abu Alaa, Mr. Qureia, and encouraged him once again to get going with his government to get the political authority he needs and to gain control of all the security forces so they could deal with these terrorist organizations.

What happened this morning was a great tragedy, and I'm saddened by the loss of people who worked for me, who were my people, and I mourn for their families. But do you know what they were doing? They were trying to find and interview Palestinians who could go to the United States on Fulbright scholarships. They were trying to help Palestinians get an education and to learn more about the world and to prepare themselves to serve the Palestinian people. That's who was killed. That's what terrorism does. It kills those who are helping those most in need.

And that's why the Palestinian Authority, and all Palestinians, must reject this kind of action, because they not only killed innocent people today who were trying to help them, they're helping to kill the dream of the Palestinian people for their own state. The Palestinian Authority, Palestinian leaders, the Palestinian people must make a decision: Do we stay in constant enmity with Israel and others, do we constantly blame the United States and others, when the real source of the instability are the organizations that claim to be representing us but are not representing us by killing innocent people? They are holding us back. They are destroying us.

MR. JAAFAR: Mr. Secretary, one last question, because we are almost out of time. A government-mandated panel has found that there are some increasing feelings of hostility towards the United States in the Arab and Islamic worlds. What's the United States, and especially the State Department -- I saw the magazine Hi, your new magazine -- what is it doing to reach the Arab world, and do you have a message you want to convey to the Arab masses?

SECRETARY POWELL: Yeah, I thank you for that opportunity. We realize that there is an anti-American feeling in the Arab world, that a lot of it is generated by the frustration over the Palestinian-Israeli situation. And we are working as hard as we can to solve that. I understand that.

What I also want to communicate to your Arab viewers is the United States respects their faith, respects their culture, respects their individual countries, wants to have good relations with all of the countries in the Arab world, all the Muslim countries around the world. We also want to be an open, welcoming society. There are many Arabs living in the United States, or Americans of Arab and Muslim origin, who have made a home here, made a life here, and I hope that once we come through this period of intense unease about terrorist activity, and once we can see progress on the roadmap, the Arab world will realize that the United States wants nothing more than to enhance our relations with Arab nations, but especially with Muslims and especially Arabs in the region and throughout the world.

We will be successful at this in the long term. We have initiatives such as the Fulbright Scholarship Program that I mentioned earlier, the Middle East Partnership Initiative, where we're trying to help civil society in Arab lands. And our desire to improve trade with Arab nations, the Middle East Trade Initiative -- hopefully have a Middle East free trading zone in ten years -- all of these are initiatives to demonstrate to the Arab world that the United States comes with no enmity, we come with no anger, we come on a mission of friendship and hope to form stronger partnerships with our Arab friends.

MR. JAAFAR: Mr. Colin Powell, Secretary of State, thank you so much for your time. We wish you the best of luck.

SECRETARY POWELL: Thank you very much.


Released on October 16, 2003

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