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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

Interview by Warren Strobel of Knight-Ridder

Secretary Colin L. Powell
Washington, DC
February 19, 2004

(3:00 p.m. EST)

SECRETARY POWELL: (In progress) it reinforces the constitutional and democratic process in Haiti. And President Aristide, is the democratically selected President of Haiti, and we are not interested in an outcome that would force him from power, require him to step down from power. Anything that happens in Haiti has to be done democratically and through constitution means.

We are working hard yesterday and today, and in the next couple of days, to put more urgency and energy behind the CARICOM plan. And my staff has been in touch with -- Assistant Secretary Roger Noriega has been touch with all of the appropriate parties: OAS, UN, Foreign Ministers of CARICOM, individual Foreign Ministers of CARICOM, as well as the Canadians.

I've been in touch twice in the last two days with Foreign Minister de Villepin, representing the Francophonie side of this equation, and they will join us in an effort to give a sense of urgency and accelerate parties accepting the terms of the CARICOM plan. And you might also want us to take a look at what Ambassador Foley said yesterday, and Adam can get that for you.

So we are still pushing a political solution. The whole international community is together on this, the international community unified in the belief that any suggestions about the use of police and military forces, particularly police forces -- nobody sees a military force appropriate at this time -- would have to come after there is a political settlement, political solution.

The Haitians have to resolve their political differences, and then I think the international community would rather poise then, I'd say, to help them train their police, put their police, and bring in international police personnel to augment some of the OAS police that are there now, and help the Haitians implement the political solution.

But this is the time for the opposition to recognize that whatever their legitimate complaints may or may not be, they will not be dealt with if they fall in league or get under the same umbrella with thugs, murderers, people who in the old days from the FRAP and the FAdíH, and these other people who are nothing by criminals and exploiters of the Haitian people.

And so we are in touch with political opposition leaders, Mr. Apaid and others, to make this point to them. And that's why there is a sense of urgency to get the opposition to realize this is the time to find a political way forward.

MR. STROBEL: You're not going to get involved in that? I assume there is a political agreement signed on with the U.S. that involved the police training or some -- any sorts of (inaudible)?

SECRETARY POWELL: It's just -- its something we would certainly consider. You said training, not sending in police.


SECRETARY POWELL: But we have money and resources and assets that might be appropriate to contribute to the effort. We've already said to the OAS that if they have to expand the mission they have their now, theyíre prepared to finance that expansion. And I think Ambassador Foley announced a grant of (inaudible) dollars.

MR. STROBEL: (Inaudible.) I thought we were just sending $500,000 for now.

SECRETARY POWELL: Yeah. I think it's a total of one million. (Inaudible.) I'd have to get the press release. I mean, I think I might have it. No, I'd have to log onto another site.

And so I think we're working hard at it. And it's important that this be done multilaterally. You read criticism in the United States, "just do something." But most articles stop short of saying send in troops, just do something, but nobody quite goes the next step because we've been there before, and the Haitians have to come up with a political solution. The international community is waiting to help them.

We're sending in, along with the OAS and the UN, humanitarian teams. But there is more than enough food in the country. There's fuel in the country. There's medicine in the country. There is not a crisis of supply. There are spot shortages in distribution because of the disturbances around the army -- around the island.

It's also not clear which cities are really under someone else's control. And the number of insurgents, if one can call them that, those people who are running around with guns -- the number is in the couple of hundreds. It's not as if there are thousands.

MR. STROBEL: Well, yeah.

SECRETARY POWELL: It's really -- it's not that large. You can't be sure. I can't -- I don't want to be too precise. But if you looked at the "Nightline" video last night, you didn't see a thousand people, I'm going to be up there. You saw two people on motorcycles and jeeps and things like that. And so we are watching it carefully. We don't want this to get out of control. And everybody is unified behind the strategy I just laid out to you.

MR. STROBEL: One last quick question or two. Is SOUTHCOM security, is that completed?

SECRETARY POWELL: Yeah. SOUTHCOM, in normal practice, sent in a survey team to take a look at the security around the embassy. And what might be required, but does not presage a departure or an arrival. It's merely a prudent survey work they do any time there is a crisis that starts to heat up a bit.

We had to pull the Peace Corps workers back out of the countryside because that was dangerous. But we are conducting all diplomatic activity out there. In fact, our ambassador has been extremely busy.

MR. STROBEL: On Iraq, Kofi Annan has now spoken and he has said that he agrees with you, with the Administration, that you canít hold elections, good elections by the 30th of June, but that date should stay. I know that you and the President havenít made any decisions about what next. But it seems like the IGC is saying, IGC has to be one of the options. Can you talk about the pros and cons of that and what the other options may be for it (inaudible)?

SECRETARY POWELL: I donít want to give you a complete a lay down of all of the options. There are many. And I don't want to create too much speculation and confusion out there.

But I'm pleased that the Secretary General and Ambassador Brahimi came to the same conclusion that we did, that you really can't put the selection together by the end of June. And we should be looking, therefore, toward the end of the year or sometime early next year.

I'm especially pleased that they said, "Let's keep going to meet the date of 30 June." Everybodyís been anxious to see a change in the political situation so that Iraqis have sovereignty, whether it's sovereignty with an interim government or full government, but put them more in charge of their destiny. So we're definitely shooting for that 30 June date to transfer sovereignty -- to whom, to what.

Right now, there is Governing Council. That's certainly an option. It's an obvious option. It doesn't have as good a balance of the different factions in Iraq, as it might have. So another idea would be to expand it and widen its appeal.

And then there are other options that talk about well, perhaps, we should create some kind of a group that might determine, you know, a group of wise men or some group of elders brought in, a little bit like Afghanistan, but it doesn't quite fit like Afghanistan. There is no Loya Jirga system of such.

MR. STROBEL: Just a different culture?

SECRETARY POWELL: Yeah. But it's just a different culture, different nations. But, you know, should you just go with this kind of a body or should you find some way to make it a product of a group of respected people coming together, and then there are other models. And I won't go down every model, other than to let you know there are quite a few more, and we have handled all of them.

And we'll be doing this on a very fast track basis over the next several weeks because it is the next question to be answered. The administrative law is getting worked on now, and we're getting closer on that. There are still some issues to be resolved. And then after that, if we get the administrative law in place, then it's important for us to work quickly to give the Iraqi people a sense of what this transitional government will look like.

MR. STROBEL: Do you know (inaudible) if you could have an unelected sort of caretaker government there after June and you would not be able to save lives with probably with a very difficult situation? (Inaudible.) June 30th we have what some people may call that?

SECRETARY POWELL: We are sensitive to that. And that's why we're being very careful about the nature of the interim government, the authority and power it would have, because we would have over 100,000 American troops there, who would be under American command.

There will also be tens of thousands, maybe 200,000 Iraqi security forces -- police, the Civil Defense Corps, and some small numbers in their new army, and under whose command are they, and who answers what order. And we know what our guys do, they answer our orders.

But we now have a sovereign in the country that is not the CPA. So we will have to work out the linkages and make sure there are clear understandings between their new ambassador and the new embassy structure, and the transitional government and our military commanders on the ground and whatever UN representation might be there, whether it's the Secretary General's rep or something other than that.

So a lot of arrangements will have to be worked out. We're extremely sensitive to what you said at the beginning, Warren, that, you know, it will be different. And we don't want it to be a destabilized situation or a situation that be took in the wrong direction. And so a lot of work has to be done to make sure this is not the case.

MR. STROBEL: On North Korean six-party talks, are starting --


MR. STROBEL: (Inaudible.) What can United States offer the North Koreans -- what are you going to tell them about what you will help them if they do, in fact, do get rid of their nuclear weapons program, plutonium and uranium?


MR. STROBEL: And, sir, a second question. You have said publicly, I think, that you want this (inaudible) so thereís something (inaudible) to make it more worthy?

SECRETARY POWELL: Yeah. I'll start by saying that the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, which all six parties have agreed to already, Koreans and North Koreans have said that though as well. But the only way that can occur is to make complete, verifiable, irreversible manner, otherwise, you haven't denuclearized the Korean Peninsula and you're setting yourself up for the same problem that we inherited when we came into office.

And so we want it to be -- those are the code words -- "complete, irreversible and verifiable." It might begin with a freeze, but it can't end with a freeze. It can't be just a suspension. It has to be something that is linked right away to complete, verifiable, irreversible.

Now, the example I give my guys all the time is if you want a speeding train to go in the other direction, the first thing you have to do is stop it, then you get it going in the other direction. So you will be happy just with a freeze or a suspension. It has to be clear when that happens that it's going to be going in the other direction, all the way back.

We are prepared, and we said this to (inaudible) tell the Koreans as often as they want to hear it, that we have no hostile intent toward them. We have no intention of invading or in any way attacking them. And we're prepared to put this into a security assurance agreement at some appropriate time.

And I think the idea we have is even better than they may have expected at the beginning, when they were looking for something bilateral, "Hey, can do better than that. We'll put six people or a bunch of people signing this thing and verifying it, or, at least, validating it." Isn't that better? And so we hope that they will find that better.

Now, what they are anxious to know is, well, what happens next? Are there certain benefits that will come to us? They have these, you know, severe energy problems. They have a severe food problem. Their industrial base is only operating at 10 percent capacity, and 10 percent of their industrial base is operating.

This is not good. And so they have needs. And we have made it clear. I made it clear the first time I met with the North Korean Foreign Minister, you were there I think, werenít you?

QUESTION: I wasnít on that particular trip. (Inaudible.)


QUESTION: Yeah. (Inaudible.)

SECRETARY POWELL: I think it was Brunei -- yeah, I think it was Brunei. I forgot where we were, but somewhere in Asia.

When I said to him, "Look, we've got some concerns but we really do want to help you. My President says it all the time, he wants to help the North Korean people who are hurting. And that's what he wants to do, not attack you, nothing. But this has to come first."

And there are other aspects of their behavior that we're not happy about either. We'll take that up in due course. But it has to begin with the ending of its programs.

Now, we want to help them, but we can't reward them for doing something they should have been doing in the first place. And so we have made that point clear to them, too. And so I think there's a way forward.

Now, the other four parties in this, each have their own equity and their own approach to North Korea. The Japanese have the abduction problem. The Chinese are providing quite a bit of aid to the North Koreans every year and most of their fuel, and a lot of trade goes across the border and there is also a problem of the North Koreans going out through China. So they have their own equity.

And of course, the South Koreans have major equity because, you know, the whole issue of unification and family back and forth, all of that, every country comes to this with a slightly different perspective, as they should.

And then the Russians -- I think a pretty good statement came out of the Russian Deputy Foreign Minister today, Losyukov, who said that he sees the possibility of progress at this next meeting. He's usually the one who doesn't see the prospect of progress. So still encouraging.

So I think if we get there and get to work on this, we should be able to move the ball forward. I just don't want it to be another exchange of views like the trilateral one and the six-party one.

QUESTION: (Inaudible.)

SECRETARY POWELL: But on to your question though, I then want to see if we cannot regularize this in a way so it doesn't just become every six months we'll see if we have a meeting. There's a lot of work to be done at the outset of this effort. And so I would like to see working groups created that could stay in more regular session with each other. We'll see whether or not that's achievable next week.

QUESTION: A few other proliferation problems, one good, one bad. Libya. Are we close to lifting the travel ban? And on Iran, are you concerned that they really had, as some reports today, (inaudible) not giving the full monty, they're just (inaudible)?

SECRETARY POWELL: I would never use such language.

QUESTION: Wouldn't you?


SECRETARY POWELL: Did you hear that? That's good. On Libya, they are doing everything they said they would do. There have been a few points of debate, but I smile and reflect with my staff, this is such a difference from when we were trying to do this sort of stuff with the old Soviet Union, where we had to go look under every rock. And now the Libyans are running ahead of us turning the rocks over.

So they are doing what they said they would do. And we're very pleased with the progress. Ambassador Burns was over there two Fridays ago in London, met with the Libyans, and laid out for them how the political process would unfold. And as I've said to a number of audiences, once we have verified that they have done everything they said they were going to do then we'll start to respond.

We've already started to respond. We have a diplomatic presence in Tripoli, working out of the Belgian Embassy where we have our interest group, what's essentially, our people there now, and that will eventually go into something more permanent. We are preparing to send in survey teams, for example, to help these new Libyans examine their health care system, which apparently needs a lot of help, and we'll do that. And the whole issue of travel permits, sanctions, relief and all the rest of that is laid out in the plan. And we're anxious to move and move as quickly as we can, consistent with what they're doing.

But so far, I think it's a tremendous success for the United States, for the United Kingdom, for Libya and for the world. And the point I make is, you know, you can attribute it to lots of things: diplomacy, what happened in Iraq and they saw it, maybe -- maybe just Colonel Qadhafi sitting around in his tent one day and saying, "What has all this stuff gotten me? We've spent a lot of money. It's hidden. Everybody's looking for it. I can't eat it. I can't sell it. But I can't get any investment. Nobody will see me. Can't go anywhere. So what have I gotten for all this? What has it done for me?" And nobody seems to be scared. And so he said, "You know, might be better off without it."

And so he -- whatever all the factors were that went into his calculation, he made the correct strategic decision. And now he has received Prime Minister Berlusconi in Tripoli, Kurt Weldon, Tom Lantos. Delegations are lining up to go visit Tripoli. Tony Blair has received his Foreign Minister at Number 10 and has announced that he is hoping to visit Tripoli. This is a pretty good return on investment when all you've done is turned in a bunch of useless junk.


SECRETARY POWELL: Yeah. And I hope others will take a look at this and go, "Hmm."

QUESTION: And on Iran?

SECRETARY POWELL: Iran is -- is no terribly -- it's not a big surprise to me. We have been saying from the beginning of this Administration, and I would suspect that -- I haven't done the research, but the previous administrations had the same concerns, same intelligence, that the Iranians were developing nuclear weapons, or the programs to develop nuclear weapons, and we said it to the Russians and they told us don't worry about. We said it others and they said, "Well, we don't see anything."

And then the intelligence became better and informants showed up, started talking to the IAEA and others. And the Iranians were put in a position where they had to acknowledge the programs that they had previously not acknowledged. And the IAEA is now really digging in and the reason they're raising the question is because of two reports, one yesterday about -- or two days ago about centrifuge -- or designs. And then today, somebody said they found centrifuge parts.

I don't want to confirm any of that because it's not our stuff, but it doesn't surprise me because we have said all along there was more. And we told the IAEA as they were presenting all this information a couple of months ago, and I told my European Union colleagues when they were working with the Iranians in recent months, and I congratulate both groups, the IAEA and the EU 3 for what they did. But we said to them, "There's more. We're reasonably sure, quite confident there's more. Until we're totally satisfied that it's all been dealt with, we have to remain on guard." And I think the press reports of the last three days suggest that there is still more.

QUESTION: Can I ask a really quick one on Syria? Sort of a personal question. I'm going to Damascus in about three weeks, in about a week. I just wanted to ask you whether, you know, Syrian behavior on terrorism and on the border and an offer on this yesterday (inaudible) Times?

SECRETARY POWELL: They made another offer yesterday?

QUESTION: There was a report that (inaudible). --

A PARTICIPANT: I saw transcribed briefing but --

QUESTION: That they had made a secret --

SECRETARY POWELL: A secret approach?

QUESTION: A semi-secret approach (inaudible).

SECRETARY POWELL: We laid out clearly listed items that we felt they had to perform on. They've taken some steps, but they've been, for the most part, half-hearted. When I went there last May, and you may have been (inaudible) I donít know, essentially told them that you need to make a strategic choice in light of what's happened in Iraq, and one of your best trading partners is no longer the kind of trading partner it used to be. Now they'll be a democracy. And you really need to have a better relationship with neighbors going to be next to you, who are next to you, as well as the United States. And we'd like to move in that direction. It's got to be the following things. And we laid them all out. And at best, their steps have been half-hearted.

I told them at that time that it was not only a concern to the Administration, it was a concern to the Congress and they would pass the Syrian Accountability Act, which they did. And I will have to make judgments on how to apply that Syrian Accountability Act in the very near future.

QUESTION: Thank you, sir, and I hope they will.


Released on February 20, 2004

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