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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 With Georgia President Mikheil Saakashvili After Meeting

Secretary Colin L. Powell
Blair House
Washington, DC
February 25, 2004

(3:30 p.m. EST)

PRESIDENT SAAKASHVILI: Well, we had just perfect meeting (inaudible) Secretary. I had a feeling that I would be meeting with somebody whom I've known only for the last hundred years. But of course, he's a great friend of Georgia. We have very good cooperation, especially in the fight against terrorism and security matters. Also, the main thing on democracy matters, and I think that Georgia is part of a lynchpin of the wider Middle East as well as greater Europe. And we are here among friends and we are proud to be among friends. I believe countries like Georgia can also greatly contribute to international fight against terrorism because we have people on the ground in Iraq and we are proud of it. And we are going to expand our involvement in Iraq.

SECRETARY POWELL: I'd just like to say to the President how pleased we are to have him here in Washington. He had very good meetings with the President earlier today and with other of my colleagues in the course of his visit. And as he said, I feel very much at home with him. I spent inauguration day with the President. It's a day I'll never forget, as he gave a new vision to the people of Georgia.

In our conversation today, we talked about further areas of cooperation. We talked about how we are both in touch with our Russian friends to let them know that this is not an area or place for competition but a place for cooperation. And I'm pleased that things are coming along so well.

I thank the President again for the contribution that Georgian troops are making to our efforts in Iraq and I look forward to more of them participating in that effort. And we're looking forward to the parliamentary elections that will be taking place next month.

So Mr. President, again, welcome. It's always a pleasure to see you.

PRESIDENT SAAKASHVILI: Thank you very much.

SECRETARY POWELL: Thank you again for the hospitality on inauguration day.

PRESIDENT SAAKASHVILI: Thanks a lot.

QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, the French Foreign Minister says an emergency force should go to Haiti immediately. How do you feel about that? And do you still feel Aristide belongs in power?

SECRETARY POWELL: Well, I haven't seen or heard the French Foreign Minister's statement. I spoke to him earlier today and we, I think, agree that a political process should be found to move forward. Anything that is done, we should do it in a constitutional way and we're examining all the political alternatives. I have not heard a statement about a force going in immediately without a political basis upon which to go in. And so I expect to be talking to Minister de Villepin again later today.

QUESTION: Mr. Powell, what role does the UN have in reference to Haiti? Are you going to talk to the UN about a possible security force? Do you need their permission, the Security Council?

SECRETARY POWELL: Members of CARICOM, foreign ministers of CARICOM, a number of them are in New York this afternoon. And they'll be discussing this with my representatives in New York as well as with other members of the Security Council. Whether it is appropriate for the UN to take action at this time or wait until there is a political process underway or political resolution in play that the UN can support I think is what they'll be talking about. And I'll just have to wait and see how those conversations go. Thank you.

QUESTION: Thank you.

* * *

QUESTION: (Inaudible) in Georgia. (Inaudible) in the fight against corruption.

SECRETARY POWELL: I'm very impressed by the President's commitment to fight corruption. You can't have corruption in a democratic society. People won't believe in a society if the people believe that their public officials are not honest in representing them. If a society does not rest on the rule of law, then you really can't have a democracy. The President understands that. He and I have spoken about it on a number of occasions. He discussed it with President Bush today. And I'm confident that under the President's leadership, the rule of law will be the rule of law for all Georgians and corruption will be rooted out. And I've also heard the Minister of Justice speak about it, and I know that is the President's personal commitment and we'll do everything we can to support it.

QUESTION: And (inaudible), excuse me, did you discuss any questions about financial assistance for Georgia?

SECRETARY POWELL: We discussed all of the issues of interest to both sides, financial assistance as well as other assistance we might be providing to our Georgian friends as they put in place this new democracy. It is really an exciting time in U.S.-Georgian relations and we're going to do everything we can to help the new government.

Thank you.

QUESTION: Thank you, sir.

QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, when can we know the exact dates of withdrawal of Russian (inaudible) from Georgia?

SECRETARY POWELL: I can't give you an answer. That's something that will have to be worked out between Georgia and Russia.

2004/199


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