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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 by John King of CNN

Secretary Colin L. Powell
Hyatt Erawan Hotel
Bangkok, Thailand
October 19, 2003


MR. KING: Thank you, Mr. Secretary, I want to start first with the Presidentís new overture today on North Korea. He says, no, he will not negotiate one-on-one a bilateral non-aggression pact, but he is willing to put it in writing Ė no hostile intentions, no intent to invade so long as it is a good document involving Russia, China, Japan and South Korea and, of course, North Korea would have to give up its nuclear weapons program. What if North Korea says no? Do you have to then go straight to the Security Council? Do you have to consider military options then?

SECRETARY POWELL: Well, there are a lot ďifsĒ and a lot of questions there, but let me approach it this way. The President has said all along that he has no intention of invading North Korea. We donít want to attack North Korea. We have no need to attack North Korea.

We entered into six-party dialogue with North Korea because we believed it was important for its neighbors to be included. The first meeting was held in Beijing a couple of months ago and all six parties, including North Korea, agreed that it was in the interest of the six parties to have a denuclearized Korean Peninsula. So we are trying to define the way forward. We are not going to have a bilateral agreement with the North Koreans because it involves more than just the United States and North Korea, and we saw what happened in the previous administration with a bilateral agreement.

We are also not going to have a treaty or non-aggression pact that requires Senate ratification. But we believe that there are models that can be looked at from the past that will allow us to find the kind of security agreement that would contain the assurances that North Korea should find satisfactory. Now, this will take discussion among the parties and we hope that North Korea will not say no when we finally get into discussions with them.

The fact of the matter is that North Korea is not gaining anything by being the possessors, if they are, of nuclear weapons or developing nuclear weapons. It doesnít help an economy that is in need. It doesnít feed anyone and it doesnít scare anyone. We donít like to see nuclear weapons in that part of the world, but at the same time we will not let the presence of these programs blackmail us or scare us into doing something that would not be appropriate to the situation.

MR. KING: But if the North says no, it will only take a one-on-one bilateral agreement with the United States, a non-aggression pact, at that point do you have no choice but to go to the Security Council?

SECRETARY POWELL: Well, it is not necessarily related to the Security Council. The Security Council issue has to do with North Koreaís violation of its obligations. So, it not only violated the agreements that it entered into with the Clinton Administration, it has violated agreements it entered into with South Korea some eleven years ago, and it has violated its obligations under a number of international agreements supervised by the International Atomic Energy Agency. So there are options available to us and to the international community in the presence of continued North Korean intransigence. I hope that the neighbors of North Korea, who perhaps have more influence in North Korea than we do, will be able to persuade North Korea that it is in their interest to find a solution this problem.

The President is committed to a diplomatic solution, a political solution, and the presentation he made to President Hu Jintao of China today, said to the President of China, please keep playing the essential role you had been playing in leading us along, serving as a convener of the six-party talks and participant in those six-party talks and the President said he is prepared to look at other ways, new ways, of providing assurances that have to be matched by verifiable end of North Koreaís programs. So, I think the President has taken a positive step forward and we will see how the other parties respond.

MR. KING: You are here at the APEC Summit and the draft communiquť talks about an agreement between these economies and in this region to dismantle terrorist groups. Obviously, we have seen over the past year the problem in this region. What are the teeth behind the words? They say they will dismantle. What, specifically, concrete steps --

SECRETARY POWELL: Well, concrete steps are being taken as we sit -- the arrest of Mr. Hambali here in Thailand. We have seen such a response to our terrorist, counter-terrorist initiatives over the past years because everybody now realizes it is not just a problem for the United States. What happened in Bali, whatís happened in the Philippines, whatís happened around the world makes it clear to everyone that this is an international problem and we have to come together. What is important at this meeting is that APEC, which has always been for the most part a trade and economic organization, is now going to extend its reach and start talking about security issues, whether itís proliferation of weapons of mass destruction or terrorist activities, because they are inter-linked. You canít have a thriving economy; you canít have tourism, a robust tourist industry if people are worried about terrorists. So security and a sound economy go together and thatís what I think is important this APEC meeting.

MR. KING: When you are in these conversations, and on the eve of them or during them a new bin Laden tape comes out and he says he will attack in Iraq. He says he will attack any countries that help the United States, does that discourage people from participating, whether it is, as you seek financial commitments or troops commitments for Iraq, or whether you seek commitments in this region to do more, does that scare people away Ė

SECRETARY POWELL: I know that it now encourages them. It might have scared them in the past but everybody now knows you are not immune, you canít hide from it, you canít walk away. He is a threat to all of us. And when you see these kinds of tapes it just reminds us that this kind of terrorist is still on the face of the earth and we have to come together and we have to do even more with the exchange of law enforcement information, intelligence information, the use of our military forces. We all have to come together. And that is going to be one of the messages coming out of this APEC conference.

MR. KING: Thank you for your time.



Released on October 19, 2003

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