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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

Press Briefing En Route to Bangkok

Secretary Colin L. Powell
Aboard Plane
October 17, 2003


SECRETARY POWELL: Sorry to interrupt the movie. Oh, it’s not the movie, good. Just thought I’d come back for a few moments to answer any questions you might have. Thank you for joining. This is always the longest leg. I look forward to good Ministerial meetings tomorrow, preparing for the President’s arrival. And then the Leaders Conference on Sunday and Monday, as well as it being a formal visit to Thailand, with all that that entails. The President has been looking forward to this trip. It ought to be pretty exciting once he gets to Thailand and has a chance to speak to the Thai Army troops and all the other things that he will be doing.

One of the shifts in this APEC meeting is to try to move APEC into a broader agenda that deals as much with some of the security issues that are facing the world, to sort of parallel what has been going on in trade and economic activity and investment activity, which has been the focus of APEC since its inception. We will be trying to make the linkage that these issues are not inseparable. When nations send their foreign ministers to come visit me and they say, “Gee, you know our economy is hurting. Why don’t you lift your travel ban?” I’d lift my travel ban if we could do something about security.

So we all have to work on terrorism, transnational threats, MANPADS, those are air defense systems that are loose throughout the world. All these kinds of issues are not separate and distinct from trade and investment and economics. It has to do with creating a better climate for investment. Business leaders will invest where they believe not only their investment is safe, but their property and their employees are safe. People will only go and tour in places and spend money in places where they feel that they are secure.

So, I think that we can make a persuasive case that this should be elevated in the agenda of APEC. We are calling these the Bangkok Goals, which expand upon the earlier goals, the Bogor Goals of APEC. We will see what kind of reaction we get to that. There are different points of view with respect to expanding the agenda of APEC, so I think it will be a pretty good meeting in that regard.

QUESTION: Just about APEC and trying to shift its agenda…


QUESTION: …expand its agenda. I thought, hadn’t they gone far, I thought you had managed to, at least you thought you had managed to, do that in Shanghai. But after 9/11, have they not gone far enough to…?

SECRETARY POWELL: We think that there is more that can be done. We have some specific goals that you will be hearing about and seeing in the next several days. So you are quite right, we have talked about terrorism and we have begun to talk about these transnational threat issues, but you will see it made more explicit and we will see if we can raise it up to a higher level of awareness and participation.

QUESTION: Can you be a little more specific about what you mean, is this like proliferation security…?

SECRETARY POWELL: Transnational threats, terrorisms, MANPADS, proliferation, weapons of mass destruction.

QUESTION: Could you say exactly what you are looking for APEC to do?

SECRETARY POWELL: Include it as part of their continuing agenda as they get ready for future conferences and make it part of the work plans of APEC from meeting to meeting in the course of the year. It’s not revolutionary but I just wanted to point it out, because you’ll hear it in the course of the next several days. There are some in APEC who say, “We know there is terrorism but keep APEC exclusively an economic, trade and investment forum, conference.” And, there are others who feel that to elevate security higher in the agenda is appropriate because you can’t separate the two.

QUESTION: Which countries are least likely to go along with you so far?

SECRETARY POWELL: I don’t think I want to identify anyone yet until I’ve had a chance to get the lay of the land at the Ministerial tomorrow. There are some, such as China, I’ll say, who will watch, approach this more cautiously than others.

QUESTION: Yes, the situation in Burma has not improved since this summer. I was wondering how much you are planning to press this both in APEC and also with the Thais, since it appears that the regional neighbors are more willing to turn more of a blind eye to this than the United States?

SECRETARY POWELL: It will be pressed both in bilateral meetings that I will be having and I am sure that the President will press it in his bilateral meetings. There is more that the nations of Southeast Asia can do. There was more that the recent ASEAN conference could have done, with respect to pointing out the failures of the regime in Burma to do what the international community expects it to do: to release Aung Sang Suu Kyi, let her participate in the life of the country, and restore the democratic process. They are trying to divert attention by discussing road maps that really do not serve the purpose of getting back to democracy and allowing this woman to be free, to speak out, and to represent the Burmese people in an open way. So, we are not satisfied with where we are on this issue and we will continue to press it.

QUESTION: Who is trying to divert the attention? The Burmese or ASEAN or…

SECRETARY POWELL: I beg your pardon.

QUESTION: Who is trying to divert attention? The world?

SECRETARY POWELL: No, Burma. I’m sorry Burma. We believe that there is more that the nations of the region can do to apply pressure to Burma.

QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, do you think you can achieve anything out here on the North Korea issue. And as we were leaving Washington -- whenever that was -- they were talking about making some kind of physical demonstration of their nuclear capacity. Do you have any idea what that was all about?

SECRETARY POWELL: The President looks forward to speaking to most of the members – or all of the members I guess are here – of the six-party group and he remains committed to finding a diplomatic solution. He remains committed to doing it in a multilateral forum, and the six-party talks are the way to go. And I know he is looking forward especially to speaking to President Hu of China,who has been in the forefront of our efforts to engage North Korea’s neighbors and North Korea in finding a solution, a diplomatic solution. I guess the word the North Korean spokesman, or whoever it was, used was “display” it. We have heard this word before. I think it is the same word that they used last year, and I don’t know what it means and they say things like this on a regular basis.

QUESTION: Can you give us – on Madrid – an update of what the contributions look like now, a brief update. Is it going – money?

SECRETARY POWELL: You’ve heard of the Japanese statement of $1.5 billion right away, and I know that they are looking at more that they can provide. I expect that we would hear that in Madrid. I really don’t want to put numbers in anyone else’s mouth. I have some sense of what individuals are looking at, individual countries are looking at, and some of international financial institutions are looking at, but I think it would be inappropriate of me to say what their actual contribution will be next month – next week. But, as I think I said yesterday, I’m more encouraged and optimistic than I was a week or so ago, and I think the resolution will help quite a bit, especially with the international financial institutions: the World Bank and the IMF.

QUESTION: China and Japan and some of the other Asian nations seem pretty upset about the American policy of talking down the dollar. That’s obviously not your portfolio, but how much of a factor is it when you are trying to expand the subject to other things that they have what seem to be some grievances about American policy on this score and opposition to what we are trying to do?


QUESTION: I believe Secretary Snow is viewed in Asia as trying to talk down the dollar?

SECRETARY POWELL: Secretary Snow, in his trip to Asia, and especially to China, spoke about our belief that currency should find their own level within an open market. And we believe in a strong dollar. And that’s as far as I will go into fiscal, financial or monetary policy.

QUESTION: (Inaudible).

SECRETARY POWELL: This is something that I am sure will be discussed in the course of the weekend but I don’t think it will be a major item of discussion since Secretary Snow has already taken up and sent out ahead of time, partially for that purpose.

QUESTION: Secretary Powell, you mentioned some other countries that feel as we do that security should more part of the agenda. Can you mention any?

SECRETARY POWELL: I think, without going down through the complete list of APEC countries…I think what I would rather do is go through my meetings tomorrow and get a better sense of the feel within the group and then I would be more than pleased to get back and talk to you again. I will have Richard talk to you again about sense of the group, because I really haven’t had a chance to engage with them directly on the issue.

QUESTION: Can I ask you about your good friend, Mr. Mahathir’s comments – theMalaysian Prime Minister – [addressed to Mr. Boucher] Does he know about these?

SECRETARY POWELL: What did he say?

QUESTION: He said basically that Jews run the world economically, but Islam will triumph?

SECRETARY POWELL: No, I have no comment on what Dr. Mahathir said. We are familiar with his outbursts.

QUESTION: I just wanted to follow up on Burma, you said they could do more. Is there something specifically you would like them to do?

SECRETARY POWELL: We will make it clear to them that we feel strongly that the international community should demand unequivocally the release of Aung Sung Suu Kyi and permit her to enter back into the civic life of the Burmese people. We believe that Burma should move quickly to put their people on the path to democracy. And that includes the release of Aung Sung Suu Kyi. And to the extent that we can encourage other nations in the region and around the world to speak that clearly, with respect to that issue, we will do so.

QUESTION: (Inaudible) at APEC?

SECRETARY POWELL: Say the rest – what did you think I said? Well, what did I say?

QUESTION: That you feel strongly that –

SECRETARY POWELL: Yes, we will make clear to – we have made clear to Burma before and we will make clear to our friends at APEC –

QUESTION: Are you looking for an APEC statement?

SECRETARY POWELL: I don’t know that we are. I don’t know what they are putting in a statement there, what they are working on, but you can be sure that as part of our bilateral discussions and part of our multilateral discussions we will make it clear that we feel strongly about this issue and believe that other nations should as well. It is a travesty how she has been treated over these many years after being given a mandate by the people of Burma to help lead them.

Alright, long trip. Take one last nap and get ready for bed.


Released on October 17, 2003

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