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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

Remarks Following Multilateral Press Availability

Secretary Colin L. Powell
Simba Lodge
Naivasha, Kenya
October 22, 2003


QUESTION: Can I ask on Iran, it is a little unclear given the Administrationís reaction so far, how to interpret the development yesterday? Is it welcomed?

SECRETARY POWELL: Yes, we do welcome the development. I spoke to Secretary Straw yesterday afternoon after the announcements were made and as he was leaving Tehran he called me, and we had a good conversation. We welcome this development, but as I said to Mr. Straw and as he knows, and as do Foreign Minister Fischer and Foreign Minister De Villepin, performance is what counts. And so weíll have to see exactly what the Iranians are prepared to do and what theyíre prepared to make available to the IAEA, but I appreciate the work of my three colleagues in Europe and it shows that we are all united in making sure that Iran does not have any nuclear capability that will develop, be able to develop a weapon. So, we welcome this development.

QUESTION: Does this mean then that the issue wonít go to the United Nations Security Council for the time being?

SECRETARY POWELL: I wouldnít go that far. We want to see what kind of performance we get. Because within hours Iranian officials were saying, were making other statements with respect to what suspension means and for how long. A suspension is just that: a suspension. And its for an interim period and we just want to see some performance before we make any judgments about how to proceed. But I think itís a welcomed development.

QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, there has been a lot of Middle East violence. Have you spoken to anybody in the Middle East?

SECRETARY POWELL: Not during the last several days, no. I spoke to, as you know, Foreign Minister Abu Allía last week and Foreign Minister Shalom. But, not in the last several days.

QUESTION: On what youíve just been doing, how confident are you that weíll actually be able to meet this end of December deadline?

SECRETARY POWELL: Iím pretty confident. They, in our private meetings, accepted the end of December date. And it was as much their date as it was a desire on my part to push for the date. There are some difficult issues ahead, but they have made considerable progress on the wealth sharing agreement, having to do with the allocation of revenues and some issues with respect to monetary fiscal policy and banking arrangements. I think thatís close to being consummated, that agreement. The difficult one will be the three conflict areas and Abyei will be the most difficult one there. Because there is a question as to, does it belong in the North, does it belong in the South, or belong with the North and South. But I think there are ways of solving these problems and I sense from both sides confidence that the problems can be solved and a commitment to solve them. Am so Iím pleased to report to President Bush that his invitation was welcomed for them to come to the White House as soon as a comprehensive agreement has been signed.

QUESTION: What makes you confident that if, and when, an agreement is reached that all this really means is a six-year pause in a long-running civil war? What makes this different than previous efforts?

SECRETARY POWELL: One, we will have a comprehensive agreement. I think it will be something that will be endorsed by the international community, the entire international community. And what I said in the plenary session is that we canít fail the Sudanese people. They are the ones that count right now. They are the ones who have suffered the longest: two million dead, three to four million displaced. And now is the time to make those difficult, not just negotiating decisions, but political decisions that would bring this conflict to an end. Negotiations have been going on for 10 years in this current round, and really we have seen quite a bit of progress in the last few months. So there is a momentum here that suggests seriousness of purpose and an understanding that this canít be won on the field of battle, it has to be won on the field of peace.

QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, did you suggest the December deadline of did they come up with the idea of a deadline?

SECRETARY POWELL: We were anxious to get a commitment to a time deadline so this didnít drift away. And with Ramadan coming up, sometime in December seemed appropriate to us. And so it was their suggestion that not later than the end of December was enough time to get done. And I think it is important that they came up with that date. They have a pretty good idea of the difficulty of the issues that are remaining and so they have an understanding of how much time it is going to take to solve these. With the period of Ramadan reducing the intensity of some of the negotiations, but there will still be some negotiations continuing through Ramadan. Okay.

Released on October 22, 2003

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