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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 > 2004 > February

Remarks at UN After Liberian Donors Conference

Secretary Colin L. Powell
New York City
February 6, 2004

11:45 a.m. EST

SECRETARY POWELL: It's a great pleasure for me to be at the United Nations on this occasion when the international community comes together to show its support for the people of Liberia, and I am very pleased to have had the opportunity to be with Chairman Bryant, who is leading his people, leading the people of Liberia to a brighter future.

I noted earlier that the United States is fully committed to this effort, $200 million in the 2004 supplemental, in addition to some $90-odd-million already contributed to Liberia's efforts over the last couple of years, and over $245 million of U.S. money to UN peacekeeping operations.

And with peace in Liberia, and with progress in Cote d'Ivoire, and progress in Sierra Leone, progress in Sudan, progress continues on the -- between Ethiopia and Eritrea that's now on its way to settlement, the borders resolved, and some movement in Somalia, weve seen a number of conflict areas coming under control.

I think more and more leaders in Africa and throughout the international community recognize that we must end these conflicts to bring peace to the region so that development can begin. And I have conveyed to Chairman Bryant that President Bush is totally dedicated to this task, and that our efforts in Liberia are fully supported by the American Congress, as well as the American people.

And so, Mr. Chairman, I congratulate you for what you have been doing and for the work that is before you, and can assure you of full American support.

CHAIRMAN BRYANT: Thank you, Secretary Powell.

SECRETARY POWELL: Thank you, sir

CHAIRMAN BRYANT: Thank you. Thank you very much. We are grateful in Liberia for today. We're particularly grateful for the role that you and your government, President Bush, continue to play. This day is a great day for us. It marks a new beginning for us, and we assure you that the help you're giving today and everybody else in the world, who has rallied here today in our support, will be used to sustain the peace, to start a new Liberia where we can live at peace with ourselves and our neighbors and make our West Africa region a better place for everybody.

Thank you so much.

SECRETARY POWELL: Thank you very much.

QUESTION: Mr. Secretary --

QUESTION: Mr. Secretary --

QUESTION: -- you said a couple of weeks ago that while you have a good relationship with the French Foreign Ministry, you're about to have lunch with, you know, sometimes they get under our skin, and, likewise, vice versa. Do you have an allergy today or do you think things are looking up?

SECRETARY POWELL: I look forward to having a good conversation with Foreign Minister de Villepin. We have many things to cover. Last year, at this time, it was a difficult, it was a difficult time and we were not on the same wavelength.

This year, I think we are in agreement that what we have to do is work to help the people of Iraq build a democracy to transfer sovereignty to the Iraqi people as quickly as that is possible. And, as you know, our November 15th plan calls for that to be done by the 30th of June, and I'm sure Foreign Minister de Villepin and I will discuss that in considerable detail. We'll discuss the potential role of NATO in Iraq and a variety of other bilateral issues, and I'm looking forward to seeing the Minister.

QUESTION: You can go --

SECRETARY POWELL: Excuse me.

Andrea.

QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, why is the United States accepting the agreement, the plea deal, basically, in Pakistan? Why isn't the United States more concerned about this pardon of A.Q. Kahn, given what we know about his proliferation to Libya, possibly Iran, certainly, North Korea?

It seems as though we're sending the wrong signal to proliferators around the world. And he is the biggest.

SECRETARY POWELL: Well, the biggest is now gone, so I think that is a remarkable success.

QUESTION: Without punishment?

SECRETARY POWELL: The biggest is now gone, and so we don't have to worry about proliferation from Mr. A.Q. Khan or his network. And this is a success for the international community, for those of us who have been pressing all governments to go after these kinds of proliferators. And I'm pleased that President Musharraf realized that he had to do something about this network.

Now the action he took with respect to pardoning Mr. Khan is something that he felt it was appropriate for him to do and he has explained his position thoroughly. I expect to be talking to President Musharraf over the next several days to make sure that there is a full understanding of what the A.Q. Khan network has done over the years so that there are no remnants of it left, and then there's no possibility of further proliferating activities coming out of that network.

And that's our goal, number one, with respect to his accountability and this is a matter between Mr. Khan, who is a Pakistani citizen and his government. But it is a matter also that I'll be talking to President Musharraf about.

QUESTION: Just a follow-up, do you think that Mr. Musharraf did not know? Could Musharraf not have known?

QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, would you be able to talk about the damage that's been done to the U.S. diplomatic relations with the international community in the wake of the Gulf war before and after? What do you see that needs to be done to repair the damage to improve America's standing, both with our allies who weren't with us on the war and with the international community?

SECRETARY POWELL: I think we're doing very well with the international community, notwithstanding the premise of your question. Here in the UN over the last five or six months, we've passed resolution after resolution supporting what we are trying to do in Iraq. We are here for an important international conference to help Liberia. We've been engaged with our friends in finding a solution to the situation, troubled situation in Sudan, and we're close to that solution.

Congress has provided funding to assist with peacekeeping operations around the world. We've just announced that we're working with our friends in Asia to get the six-party talks started again to deal with the North Korean nuclear situation. So if you look at what we're doing, you will see that we are working with our friends and allies around the world. We had meetings last week with the new Secretary General of NATO, and NATO has made its top priority enhancing our capability to deal with the situation in Afghanistan. NATO is playing an important role there. NATO is now considering how it might play a role in Iraq. Secretary Rumsfeld is in Munich today talking to our NATO colleagues and other influential people in Europe.

So we're reaching out. I'm meeting with Foreign Minister de Villepin today. So rather than saying we have all these estrangements with our friends and allies around the world, I would say it's quite the contrary. We had a major disagreement last year. But, you know, disagreements come, disagreements go. And now we are all working together to press for peace and development and democracy and human rights around the world, and the end of regional conflicts and the elimination of proliferation.

Look what happened in Libya recently as a result of our working with the United Kingdom, or some of the initial steps that have been taken with respect to Iranian proliferation as a result of us working with European foreign ministers as well as with the IAEA. And so I think the record is really quite contrary to the premise of your question.

QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, last year, when you came here last year, you presented a case to the Security Council, the intelligence of which has been questionable and reviewed. Do you feel that you owe an apology to the Security Council now that we know what we know, or do you feel that you are owed an apology by those who provided you such intelligence?

SECRETARY POWELL: I don't think any apologies are necessary. As Director Tenet said yesterday, when he prepared the Intelligence Estimate that was presented to the American Congress in the fall of 2002, it represented a solid body of advice, solid body of information that had been collected by analysts and other sources, and it was from that national intelligence estimate that we drew the material that I presented here a year ago yesterday. Director Tenet was here with me. It represented the best judgment we could make at that time on Saddam Hussein's activities.

And what did we know then? And what did we present? We said that this was a regime led by a dictator who had every intention of keeping his weapons of mass destruction programs going, and anyone who thinks he didn't is just dead wrong. And there is no evidence to suggest that that was an incorrect judgment. He had used them in the past and it was clear if given the opportunity he would use them in the future if it served his purpose. We also knew that he had the capability. He had the people who knew how to do it. He had done it in the past. He had the infrastructure. He had the dual-use facilities. We knew that he was working on these matters. What we weren't sure of and what we didn't entirely, couldn't be absolutely sure, was the nature of his stockpiles. And so it's the stockpile question that we are still examining, and as Director Tenet said yesterday, the work is continuing.

And so the information that was available to us, available to other nations around the world, the intelligence base on which our decision rested was a solid intelligence base when we presented the case to the United Nations in September, the year before last and when the President took his action, and his action was totally justified by the information that he had, the intelligence he was provided, the record of this individual, and the one thing we don't have to worry about now is whether there are any weapons of mass destruction or a Saddam Hussein in Iraq to use them. They are both going to be gone now and we'll not have to worry about this. Now we ought to be worrying about -- now what we need to be worrying about is how quickly we can turn over sovereignty and let the Iraqi people build a democracy that we can all be proud of.

QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, (inaudible) to forgive Iraq's debt, but when you look at debt reduction when it comes to Liberia, it doesn't even seem to be on the table, yet we're looking at jumpstarting the country's economy. Do you think that debt reduction should be on the table for Liberia?

SECRETARY POWELL: There are a number of programs that deal with debt reduction, and obviously, we want to do everything we can to assist the Liberians as they get started. We're putting a lot of money into Liberia now. That's why we're here now. I'd have to talk to my colleagues in Washington with respect to what we might be able to do with debt reduction efforts for Liberia. And I'll be discussing this with Secretary Snow and others.

QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, your recent successes in North Africa and elsewhere on the continent, to what extent were they designed, wittingly or unwittingly, to undermine French foreign policy in those parts?

(Laughter.)

SECRETARY POWELL: It was not our intention to undermine the foreign policy of any of our friends. What we tried to do was to persuade all of our friends that our mutual interest would be served by policies that took on regimes like Saddam Hussein and pointed out to the world where there were nations that were proliferating weapons of mass destruction, and not hide from it, and point it out to the world that we needed to come together to fight terrorism. And those common policies, I think, are now gaining more and more currency, and more and more people are coming together recognizing that this is the way we should work.

And in no meeting that I ever sit in, or even late at night all by myself, did I sit around thinking, "How can I undercut some other nation's foreign policy?" Im responsible for my own, and to the extent that I develop that foreign policy for the President, his foreign policy which he executes in the name of the American people, to the extent that I can get friends and partners to join in on the President's foreign policy agenda, that's my job and that's what I try to do.

QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, could the June 30th sovereignty date slide, could be pushed back? Are you ruling it out?

SECRETARY POWELL: Right now, we're sticking with the plan, the 15 November plan of a 30 June turnover.

Now, Secretary General Annan has announced that he's sending a team in, and we are anxious for the team to go in, do its work and see what report they bring out. But right now, we are remaining with the 30 June sovereignty date based on the 15 November plan.

QUESTION: If they were to come back, saying, as Secretary General Kofi Annan has just said, that their conclusions and the consensus in Iraq is that the date should be moved, would you then be willing to move the June 30th date?

SECRETARY POWELL: Well, I don't want to get into what they might report and what we might do with their report. Let's wait and see what their report says.

And, of course, we would take whatever they say into account as we move forward, but for now we're sticking with the plan and the Governing Council is sticking with the plan. They're hard at work on the administrative law and hard at work at the other elements of the 15 November plan.

QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, what do you expect from France on the Iraqi issue?

SECRETARY POWELL: Well, I expect that Dominique de Villepin and I will have a good discussion. I am sure we will talk about the possibility of NATO involvement, and I am sure the Minister will have some ideas with respect to returning sovereignty and a timetable. But I wouldn't prejudge what we might discuss. I'm looking forward to a full and long discussion with the Minister over lunch.

Yes, sir.

QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, do you believe that the opposition in countries like France and Russia to the war may have been influenced by possible payments that were made by the Saddam Hussein regime --

SECRETARY POWELL: I have no idea, and I don't want to speculate about it. I assume in those countries there were legitimate points of view that were in opposition to what we were trying to do.

I hope that as people see that the United States and its coalition partners are working hard now to stand this country up so that it can be run by its own leaders, its own people, as quickly as possible, and that we're investing a great deal of money and we're taking -- we're taking risks with the lives of our young men and women and losing lives to do this, and the Iraqis are losing lives as we do this, I hope that in all of these nations that were opposed to us, or where there was strong public opposition, they will now recognize that we have eliminated a horrible dictator who filled mass graves and did other terrible things to humanity. He's gone. He's not going to be back.

And one can argue about what weapons were there, what weapons were not there, or who knew what when, but the reality is that now what we should be spending our energy and time focusing on is how to build this country into the kind of democracy that the people would be proud of, the region will be proud of and the world will be proud of.

Thank you very much.

2004/132

 


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