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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 to the Press En Route to Madrid

Secretary Colin L. Powell
Aboard Aircraft
Madrid, Spain
October 22, 2003

2003/1078

SECRETARY POWELL: Okay, we will keep it short since dinner is on the way and the transcriber is sleeping. And youíre tired, youíre tired. Iím never tired.

On to Madrid, Iím looking forward to the Donors Conference. We will kick it off tomorrow morning with Kofi Annan making a presentation. I am very pleased that the Secretary General was able to rearrange his schedule so that he could attend. Heís got events back in New York on Friday dealing with UN Day, but I think he felt it was important enough to make the trip, come over and kick off the conference. I think that reflects the fact that we are coming together again after 1511 was passed last week. And then thereíll be a variety of technical discussions tomorrow, Ambassador Bremer will be there with members of the Governing Council and members of his team in order to answer questions, give a status report how things are going. And then on Friday, weíll have the major interventions from Ministers and other representatives who are attending. I think I am speaking on the afternoon-- well, no, Iím sorry, Friday morning, along with Secretary Snow.

Representation is still being worked out. I would guess that half the representatives will be at Ministerial level, not necessarily Foreign Minister level. Many countries are sending Development Ministers or Finance Ministers. For example, my British colleague this time will not be Jack Straw, but Mr. Benn, who is the Development Minister. So youíll see the different kind of mix, since it is a Donors Conference. Then a lot of nations will be represented at other levels, maybe reflecting what they are able to contribute or whether they are just there to provide a presence of solidarity, as opposed to actual money and resources. But, I look forward to a productive conference and then weíll head on home on Friday evening. Why donít I just stop there and see what questions you might have so we can keep it short?

(cross talk)

QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, I havenít done all the math, but there is this World Bank report, obviously, that says that millions and billions of dollars are needed. Is there going to be a shortfall when you gather up all the pledges?

SECRETARY POWELL: Letís define what that might mean, what the question might mean: will there be a shortfall? There will always be, I mean, I could go to any city in the country, in the United States I could go to any state and say, ďwhat do you needĒ and it will be a very large number.

The World Bank has come up with estimates of what Iraq will need over some period of time that go as high as $55 billion. That doesnít mean that we have to raise $55 billion between, with the $20 billion that we are asking in the supplemental and what this Donor Conference produces. It just sets a goal that we have to work toward. And it may take time to meet that goal and it may take additional contributions as we move forward. And weíll have to see how Iraqi revenues start to generate in a couple of years time after we make the initial investments that gets the oil infrastructure built in a way that revenues will increase.

So even though there is a goal out there I have never approached this as a goal that has to be reached between our $20 billion supplemental and the Donors Conference. There will always be a delta that we will be trying to close as best we can, but its not something that has to be closed right away, nor do I think anybody expects it to be closed right away. It was the estimate of the IFIs, the International Financial Institutions of the World Bank, as to what the overall need seems to be and it is a goal to which we will all be striving. And I hope that between our contribution and what comes out of the Donors Conference, people will see that weíve got a good leg up on satisfying that overall requirement.

QUESTION: The Administration, as we led up to the war, said in many instances that they expected the Iraqi oil revenues to pay for reconstruction. And now the American taxpayers are being asked to pay $20 billion, other countries presumably eventually $35 billion. Do you think the taxpayers have been taken for a ride here?

SECRETARY POWELL: No, I donít think theyíve been taken for a ride. I think the Administration has been candid. We all would have been delighted to see an immediate return to $20 billion a year revenues of the kind the Iraqis had some years ago. But, we found an infrastructure that was more damaged than we expected, and not as a result of the war, but as a result of 30 years of abuse by this dictatorial regime. I think the Administration has been candid, the President has been candid with the American people that these funds are needed, they serve a useful purpose and help us to solidify the success that we have had getting rid of this regime. And I think the President clearly has made that case to the Congress, since both houses have come in have that number or thereabouts and there is a discussion taking place with respect to the composition of it, whether it is loans and grants. Iíll let that debate play out on the Hill. But, the Congress certainly understands and I sense that the American people understand that this is a worthy investment.

QUESTION: Can you talk about Kofi Annanís presence at the meeting? Is he going to be able to open some pocketbooks that would not otherwise be open if he were not there?

SECRETARY POWELL: I certainly hope so. I canít predict that. I think most people, by now, have determined what they are bringing tomorrow or Friday. You have seen some public statements already from various countries as to what they are planning to do. And it is some significant contributions are being put forward: Spain, the United Kingdom, South Korea, a reference was made to what the World Bank and the IMF are thinking of doing. I donít want to speculate on a number because Iíll wait and see what the tally list looks like on Friday afternoon. But, I think Secretary General Annanís presence gives a signal to the international community that he endorses the conference, he endorses what is going on, he believes that he now has a proper role as circumstances permit under 1511. And I am very, very glad that he is going to be there. Whether it opens a particular pocketbook, I canít answer. I donít know what else Kofi might have been doing.

QUESTION: I just wanted to know if you were aware that Syria has announced that it is going to be represented at this conference and what you thought about the fact that there will be someone at least, I donít know how high, will be there from Syria?

SECRETARY POWELL: I donít know who it is. I mean it is quite a turnout, even if its not all at Ministerial. Iím pleased that theyíre there. Iím pleased that they voted for 1511. I havenít had a chance to talk to Foreign Minister Shara. I donít think heís coming, I donít think heís representing Syria. But, I am pleased that they are coming. Iím not sure what their intervention will say or what -- Iím not expecting a contribution.

QUESTION: The reason I was asking was because of this report about the money being in -- the money you would like for reconstruction. Youíre aware of this report, the $3 billion that is allegedly in Syrian banks. Now when --

SECRETARY POWELL: We have people looking into this. Iím not sure of the exact amount; I havenít heard a number quite that high, but certainly numbers of significant magnitude. And whether an opportunity will present itself over the next couple of days for either me or other members of the U.S. Delegation to discuss this with the Syrians or not, I donít know. We have people doing work with the Syrians directly.

QUESTION: Well, presumably you would like that money Ė to go into the

SECRETARY POWELL: Yes. Itís Iraqi money. And we would like it to go back to the Iraqi people. Whether that will be --.

QUESTION: I believe the Iranians have accepted an invitation to this conference. I was wondering if you will have a meeting with any of the Iranian officials during this period or whether their participation signals some greater coordination with the U.S. on this matter.

SECRETARY POWELL: I have no plans to meet with Iranian officials, thank you, though.

QUESTION: The only countries that we havenít heard from on donations are the Gulf countries and we understand that you have been on the phone, maybe even in the last week on so. Can you tell us a little bit more about whether there will be forthcoming and any numbers that you have heard?

SECRETARY POWELL: I have been on the phone. I havenít heard any numbers but we expect them to be forthcoming. In my conversations with them, I have given them some suggestions of what might be appropriate but I think Iíll keep that private until we see what they do.

QUESTION: Secretary Powell, when Zach Womp withdrew his loan amendment -- when Zach Womp withdrew his loan amendment to the Iraqís up in the House, which had considerable support, he did it expressing hope that the U.S., the White House would push very hard for complete debt forgiveness. He said no one should get a dime if the U.S. taxpayers arenít going to get a dime. Do you agree with him and how hard are you going to push?

SECRETARY POWELL: Mr. Womp had a Ė (inaudible) knew about that -- he was considering an amendment, but upon reflection did not offer it. Itís a very complicated issue. What we are working and doing right now is restructuring the old Iraqi debt. We are asking the debt holders in the international community, the Paris Club and other clubs, to restructure the Iraqi debt over a longer period of time and then see how we can go about forgiving it or in other ways making it a less burdensome to the Iraqi people. The worst thing to happen right now would be for us to start generating revenue only to see all that revenue go to debt service and old debt service or new debt service. That also impacts on the approach we are taking on the Congress that we want grants and not loans. Because if we come out with a position that says we want loans, then how could we go to the old debt holders and say restructure it but weíve got new loan burdens or debt burdens that weíre putting on the Iraqi people. So the approach that we think is best is we should provide a grant of $20 billion dollars, not a loan, and that we should work with all the debtors to restructure the old loans and point out to a number of them the source of these loans and whether or not the Iraqi people ought to be saddled into the future for these kinds of expenditures.

QUESTION: As a political matter, howís it going to look if there isnít complete debt forgiveness; If debtors have financed Saddamís regime are paid back even partially when American taxpayers who are spending for the benefits of the average Iraqi arenít paid back at all?

SECRETARY POWELL: Itís something we have to look at. We would try to persuade those who hold the debt to take a look at that debt and see what should be restructured and is a legitimate to be contented in the future or what perhaps should be forgiven because of the nature of it. The American taxpayers I think will be paid back for their grant by helping to create a stable Iraq and democratic Iraq thatís going to be living in peace with its neighbors and thereíll be a long term payoff for having that kind of a nation in that part of the world.

QUESTION: When weíre coming home on Friday night what are the standards that weíre looking at to say that this conference was a success. What makes it -- how much is it -- what is the level that makes it a successful conference for the U.S.?

SECRETARY POWELL: I donít have the specific number that Iím looking for. I think itís a success because just going in it has elements of success associated with it because of the turn out, the number of people that are coming. Iím pleased with some of the early donations that have been put down. A billion and a half dollars from the Japanese in a form of an immediate grant. Iíll expect that theyíll be doing more. And so Iím pleased with what Iíve seen so far. I think it will be a successful conference and perhaps we should have another conversation on Friday night and Iíll give you the rest of the answer.

QUESTION: How do you explain the fact that months after 1483 was passed and weeks after 1511 was passed you still havenít set up the international advisory and monitoring group, which seems to have left a pretty bad impression upon the European possible contributors to Iraqi reconstruction? What is going on here? Whatís the delay of , what was behind it?

SECRETARY POWELL: I think weíre talking about the same issue and I may be a day or two or three or four out of being current on it. And if I give it to you wrong Richard will fix it in a few minutes. But there was a debate about the special auditing function and it took us awhile to work our way through that. And thatís what -- that was the last issue with respect to the IAMB. My understanding of it last Friday was that they had been resolved -- Thursday? -- okay. My understanding was that it had been resolved, but why donít you give us a little bit of time to check. Okay?

QUESTION: Is there anything that could happen here in which you would not be credited to be a success?

SECRETARY POWELL: Let me think about that (Laughter). I donít know what you guys think the number ought to be in order to write your headlines but I think itís going to be a significant amount thatís coming forward. Compared to where we were a couple of weeks ago and what people were saying a couple weeks ago, I think itís going to be a fairly significant amount. Is it going to be $30 billion, no? Is it going to be $20 billion? Doubtful. What itís going to be? I donít know. But we will know soon enough.


Released on October 23, 2003

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