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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 Kenya

Secretary Colin L. Powell
Nairobi, Kenya
October 21, 2003


SECRETARY POWELL: I thought we had several very good days in Thailand at the APEC meeting and I know the President had very good conversations with a number of leaders, as well as his participation in the Leadership Retreat and also good meetings in the Philippines with President Arroyo, as well as his stop with President Koizumi in Tokyo. And, you know from Thailand, heíll go on to Singapore, Bali, Australia and then start heading back home. I broke off in the course, as you know now, to go to Kenya, where I will have an opportunity to meet with the Sudanese parties who are there.

Before seeing the parties who are participating in the discussions to move the peace process along, I will spend some time this evening with President Kibaki. He and I had some very good discussions a couple of weeks ago and weíll follow up on that.

Also, it gives me a chance to see our new Embassy facility. And it gives me a great deal of pleasure to meet with the people who are doing such great work out at our Embassies.

With respect to the Sudan talks, my principle purpose now is to keep the momentum going on these talks. Earlier in the summer things were lagging a bit and we pressed quite a bit. Senator Danforth, of course, has played a key role in all of this. But I want to give special credit to Assistant Secretary Walter Kansteiner and Jendiyah Frazier at the National Security Council, for following this so closely. I have made a number of calls over the summer to leaders both with the SPLM, as well as in Khartoum, to keep the process moving forward.

I think we were rewarded for all of our mutual efforts by the security agreement that they signed, entered into, on the 25th of September, which was really the major agreement that had to be entered into before you could go further. They had to work out how the military would be organized, how it would be commanded, what the responsibilities would be and what the composition would be. And then they have now moved on to the other issues -- power sharing and wealth sharing, power sharing meaning political power sharing. Who would the Vice President be, what role would Dr. John Garang of SPLM, who struggled for so many years, have in the new government? What would be the make up of the parliament? How would seats be distributed? What kind of transparency exists within the new government? Issues such as, the kind of law that would be applicable within the capital, finding a balance between Sharia, the desire for some kind of Sharia law enclave, as opposed to the needs of other citizens in the capital. Then there is also the wealth sharing, the discussions that have to take place and an agreement on wealth sharing, how would the oil revenues be distributed -- through the central government, directed at the regions, or passing through first the central government? And these are also being discussed now.

And then there are three other issues that deal with specific areas in the Sudan that will have to be dealt with. A place called Abyei -- thereís a discussion that it ought to be part of the Southern province -- and then there an issue with the Nuba region, and then there is another issue having to do with the Blue Nile area, the southern end of the Blue Nile.

And so those three issues have to be dealt with as well. So, here is a lot of work ahead. But, frankly we are getting closer. And the more difficult issues, the most difficult issues, security, have been dealt with. And now there is good faith being demonstrated by both sides and they have been in Kenya -- Richard will correct me if I get it wrong -- I think since about the 15th. This is an opportunity --

MR. BOUCHER: Iím not going to correct you, sir.

SECRETARY POWELL: Okay, thank you very much. Thank you, ladies and gentleman, thank you. So, this is an opportunity -- I know Dr. Garang and I know the Vice President, I know the individual who has played such a leading role, General Sumbeiywo of Kenya, a retired general. Retired Generals show up in the strangest places. But he has been playing the lead role as the mediator. Iíve talked to all of these gentleman over time and I know them, so I thought it would be useful, since I was passing through this way on my way to Madrid, that I would stop here and try to put some energy into the talks and see if I could help them get closer to a solution, but really to impress upon them that after 30 years of the most horrible warfare, and with the loss of two million lives, now that weíve come this far, letís finish it, letís kick it in, letís throw it into high gear -- or any other metaphor you choose to use -- but, letís not miss this opportunity and Iím pleased that they are meeting and in such a spirit of determination and seriousness.

I will convey to them the Presidentís desire to see this concluded as quickly as possible. And the President has followed this very closely since the first days of the Administration. And he is anxious to see it resolved and he, frankly, would look forward to -- let me just say he would look forward to seeing it resolved and recognize the achievement of it in an appropriate manner.

I will also convey to them that with complete and comprehensive agreement it makes it possible for us to review the various sanctions that are in place, and the various listings that are in place with respect to Sudan. If the Sudanese take other actions on counter-terrorism issues of interest to us, then that would also help us deal with these sanctions and listings in a comprehensive way as we move back toward normalization of our relations with the Sudan.

In addition to the comprehensive agreement we would also need some other things done with respect to some counter-terrorism concerns we have. Although I must say that over the last several years the Sudanese have been shown an increasing level of cooperation on counter-terrorism issues.

If you all will recall in the early days of this Administration and coming out of the previous Administration, Sudan was a very, very hot topic with the Congress, evangelical and other groups and I think weíve been able to demonstrate to interested Congressional members and a number of other political -- a number of other parties who are interested in Sudan that we have tried very hard to solve the problem and we are getting closer. And so that is the purpose of my trip. And from there weíll continue on, in various ways, to finally get to Madrid.


QUESTION: I understand that they still have quite a lot of work to do but to mark your presence is it possible that they might, in fact, have some kind of interim accord ready tomorrow of some kind?

SECRETARY POWELL: Jonathanís question is will they have some kind of interim accord ready tomorrow. I donít know and I donít want to raise the level of expectation that there is a paper waiting. ďWalter of the JungleĒ will be waiting for me upon arrival to tell me what is going on. Iím not here to preside at a ceremony. Iím here to give energy to this process. Iím not looking for a ceremony to preside at. But, I hope they have made progress and I will celebrate whatever progress they have made. But I just canít, canít answer your question, Jonathan, because they are literally hard at work right now while we are traveling.

QUESTION: After 9/11 did the Sudanese provide intelligence on al-Qaida to the United States and what are the remaining counter-terrorism steps youíd like them to take?

SECRETARY POWELL: They have been cooperative and Ambassador Taylor, my first ounterterrorism guy, and Cofer Black, my new counterterrorism guy, are pleased. What Iíd like to see them do is what I asked Syria to do. And that is to expel Hamas and PIJ from having any presence whatsoever in Khartoum. That would be a nice step for them to take.

QUESTION: The issues as I understand them are still very difficult: wealth sharing, the politics, Sharia. Does the United States take a position on any of those issues, a recommendation on what they should do?

SECRETARY POWELL: There are difficult issues, but my assessment is that they are not as difficult as the issues we have solved in the course of the summer. And although we might be able to have opinions on some of these issues, we really, frankly just care to encourage them to find the answer, as opposed to us to say this is the right answer. So I donít want to get into this very delicate time of negotiation. I wouldnít, even if I had particular views of these issues, and I might have one or two, I would not try to impose them. Right now they have to come up with the answer and we are giving them all the assistance we can, giving them the pros and cons of different options. And I think that is the proper role for us to play.

QUESTION: It is my understanding that Garang had proposed and wanted, was demanding that during the six-year interim periodÖ

SECRETARY POWELL: During the what?

QUESTION: During the six-year interim period that Bashir be President for the first three years and that he become President for the next three years. And I just want to -- I think yesterday, that was -- the Vice President said that that was not acceptable. Is it your understanding that there has been an agreement for the SPLA to drop that, for Garang to drop that demand?

SECRETARY POWELL: No, thatís been an issue and I donít want to comment from here on what the outcome is because Iím not sure. But my understanding is that one of the alternatives that is being looked at is that they would find another way to solve this problem. Thatís all I want to say about it, because --

QUESTION: The alternative is to find another way?

SECRETARY POWELL: Well, at this altitude, to be blunt, I donít want to prejudge what is going on on the ground beneath me and say something that would not be accurate or would not be helpful to the negotiations. But there is a solution to this problem.

QUESTION: How do you perceive the U.S. relationship with Sudan improving if they reach some sort of agreement? Are there certain initial steps you would want to take or are prepared to offer Ė returning the Ambassador, debt relief for Sudan, and so forth?

SECRETARY POWELL: We are looking at the whole range of restrictions, sanctions, listings that exist with respect to Sudan and they are considerable. It isnít just -- there is a whole body of law that has come up over time with respect to Sudan. And if they continue to satisfy our counter-terrorism needs and if we have a comprehensive solution we made it clear to them that we would look at all of that. Iím not prepared at this moment to start telling you which ones might be the first to go.

I think you also asking, is, would we start to move to normalize relations, in the sense of having an elevated presence, a diplomatic presence in Khartoum, and certainly that would follow. I canít tell you right now at what pace and how quickly we would go up to a full return of Ambassadors and all that. But, yes, we would see a comprehensive settlement --- and hopefully with some more movement on our counter-terrorism concerns -- we would see this really opening a new day in our relationship with the Sudan.

QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, would we see American aid to the Sudan if this all came to pass?

SECRETARY POWELL: There would be -- once you start working your way out of the sanctions and restrictions, then opportunities arise and we are looking at ways in which we might be able to assist them with aid of one kind or another. Yes.

It really does turn a page, to use yet another metaphor, it really does turn a page and thatís -- it is so vital that we not miss this opportunity now. Weíre going to invest all we can into it with respect to our diplomatic involvement and our political involvement. And thatís what weíre doing.

QUESTION: I wonder if you could be a little more specific about Sudanís role in terrorism in the region. You mentioned Hamas and Islamic Jihad, but also theyíve been accused of being involved in actions in Egypt, I believe, and what is your sense of how they fit into the picture as we see it in the Middle East, in terms of their role on terrorism with groups, or the mosaic of groups, and what we would like them to do about it?

SECRETARY POWELL: In the almost three years that weíve been in office, weíve engaged them and have seen them become more cooperative, essentially moving away from some of their actions and patterns of the past. We think there is still more that they can do. We sense that they understand that it is in their interest and to their benefit to move in this direction. They have to determine at what pace and we will continue to apply pressure on them to go all the way. Because continuing to support terrorist activities, which cause problems in the territories or which would be inconsistent with having a good relationship with the United States, is not something they want to do. It is not in their interest. Wouldnít want to get any more specific on that, Steve, right now other than Hamas and PIJ.

QUESTION: The government of Kenya has chafed about our travel alerts. It certainly isnít good for their tourism industry. Are we talking with them about specifics, how they can shape up their record there and basically get a clean bill of health?

SECRETARY POWELL: One of the toughest challenges I have, not just of Kenya, but with countries around the world, is that I am responsible to American citizens to provide advisories or warnings as necessary, based on an objective assessment of the security in each one of these countries -- an assessment that is made on the basis of law enforcement information, intelligence information and what our Ambassadors and our security people in these countries tell us.

My bias is always to try and remove advisories and travel warnings. I want people to travel. I want people to see other countries and I want other countries to send their citizens to see us. And I told President Kibaki in our last meeting that I would always being biased toward removing restrictions but I am obliged to give warnings as warnings are necessary and appropriate. And we study them on a constant basis. The President will be, is made aware on a regular basis by our Ambassador of what our concerns are. I donít know that I have any more to say about it. That is the case. And the same thing in lots of countries: Indonesia, other places, Colombia. And I have an obligation to balance these two goals Ė one, more travel, more tourism. And two, give American citizens fair warning of the dangers associated with travel.

QUESTION: (Inaudible) Kenya?

SECRETARY POWELL: Kenyaís, the advisories and Iím not sure -- Richard can tell you whether it is a warning or an advisory or what-- but, the advisories we have in place, we reviewed just before President Kibaki visited on the State Visit. We knew it would come up. And we said to them we wanted changes as soon as conditions will allow us to change it. But it has to be based on an objective assessment of the situation on the ground. Iíd like to waive them all, Iíd like to get rid of all of them. But, I have to give American citizens warning. That is part of my statutory responsibilities.

QUESTION: (Inaudible)

SECRETARY POWELL: Two questions. You donít get two. What (inaudible) is this?

QUESTION: This war has been going on for almost half a century -- can you tell me, in your view, the two or three things that have changed, have made this possible? Is it 9/11, the attack in Afghanistan, what kind of things have changed the minds?

SECRETARY POWELL: Two million dead people; a country that wasnít functioning; an economy that was going down; the international community outraged at what had been going on; I think the willingness of the international community and the United States to engage in bringing the parties together; other countries in the region taking a more active role: Egypt, Kenya; all of the things started to come together. Oil wealth that now is available to the country, but they really need peace and stability to exploit that wealth in sensible way for their citizens. Many of these kinds of crises, after awhile, people start to wonder why they continue to move in this direction, why they continue to fight when it is clear neither side will ultimately prevail and a period of exhaustion sets and I hope that is what happened. Exhaustion and a realization that we can provide a better life by finding a solution for all of the people of the Sudan -- North and South, Christian and Muslim. Not that every problem has gone away or that it is going to be an easy path into the future.

We are going to need help from the international community. I think the UN will have a role to play. I think there will be a need for monitors and once a comprehensive agreement is reached, and I hope a comprehensive agreement is reached and reached soon, we will have to stay engaged. I donít expect that this Administration will stand back once a comprehensive agreement is reached. Iím pleased that we have come this far and now Iíd like to see it finished. The President and I discussed it over the weekend and he is also anxious to take advantage of this opportunity and the presence of all the parties in Kenya to advance toward the comprehensive agreement.

QUESTION: Have you told them that if they do get a deal that Bashir and Garang would be invited to the White House for some kind of -- you mentioned very early on, that the President would want to commemorate that event in some appropriate way. Is this one of the things that is --

SECRETARY POWELL: I chose my words very carefully.

QUESTION: But you wouldnít go to Khartoum?

SECRETARY POWELL: Iíve been to Khartoum.


MR. BOUCHER: Okay, thank you.

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