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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 After Meeting With Bulgarian Foreign Minister Solomon Passy

Secretary Colin L. Powell
Washington, DC
February 26, 2004

(4:45 p.m. EST)

SECRETARY POWELL: -- and I have just completed a very good meeting with my Bulgarian colleague, Solomon Passy, who is also serving as Chairman in Office of the OSCE.

He decided to take on these new responsibilities having served so well as a member of the Security Council, in which capacity he gave great support to the United States and to our efforts in Iraq and I want to thank you again for that and thank the Bulgarian people again for that.

We've covered the full range of bilateral issues between our two countries and then focused on some of the OSCE priorities. The United States is a committed member of OSCE and we will do everything we can to support the Chairman in Office's work during the tour of duty that he is now undertaking, and he's two months into this work.

And so, Solomon, it's a great pleasure to have you here. I invite you to say a word, and then we'll take a question or two.

FOREIGN MINISTER PASSY: Thank you, Colin. It's really a pleasure to serve in Chairman in Office of OSCE and I will be relying on your support because I will need the support of 55 member states and especially of our allies and friends.

This, in a couple of weeks, Bulgaria will formally join NATO, which will give another ground for cooperation between the United States and Bulgaria, and as we had the chance to discuss earlier last year, our relations are today in their best shape in the last century.

SECRETARY POWELL: Anyone?

QUESTION: Mr. Secretary.

SECRETARY POWELL: Yes.

QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, you spoke this morning about possible U.S. participation in a possible international assistance force for Haiti. Could you say whether you were talking about U.S. personnel, logistics help, equipment help, all of the above?

SECRETARY POWELL: We haven't decided on what assistance we might provide to an international force that would go into Haiti to help sustain a transitional government or a new political arrangement. But all options are there.

A number of countries have spoken in the same manner: Canada, CARICOM countries, France -- I spoke to Foreign Minister de Villepin again this morning and he reaffirmed that France is willing to participate once there is a transitional government there for this force to support.

But we haven't gotten down to the details of what support might be required and what the United States could do most effectively. We're still looking for a political solution. I hope that the parties in Haiti will examine their positions carefully. I hope President Aristide will examine his position carefully and judgments will be made as to what is best for the people of Haiti in this most difficult -- at this most difficult time.

QUESTION: Mr. Secretary.

You've said, you mentioned a transitional, that it may be a transitional government that we may be assisting. Is the U.S. now not so strongly in favor of Aristide staying in office? Are you thinking that perhaps if he would step down that the opposition would come into the political --

SECRETARY POWELL: He is the democratically elected president, but he has had difficulties in his presidency, and I think as a number of people have commented, whether or not he is able to effectively continue as president is something that he will have to examine. I hope he will examine it carefully, considering the interests of the Haitian people. But he is the democratically elected President of Haiti.

Bulgarian, yes.

QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, did you discuss the issue with the Bulgarian medical workers who are on trial in Libya and does the State Department intend to take any specific diplomatic efforts in supporting Bulgaria's position on that issue?

SECRETARY POWELL: Yes. Yes, we did discuss it. Minister Passy raised it and he has also written me on the subject. We've exchanged letters on the subject. We are deeply concerned about the medical workers. We have raised it in our conversations with the Libyans and we will continue to raise it, and hopefully, we can encourage the Libyans to resolve this humanitarian matter in the very near future.

QUESTION: Mr. Secretary. Thank you. Did the United States ask the British to spy on Secretary General Kofi Annan prior to the vote in the United Nations on the Iraq war, or were they aware of any spying or eavesdropping?

SECRETARY POWELL: I have nothing to say with respect to the activities of the United Kingdom. We never talk about intelligence matters of that nature in public.

QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, when you say that President Aristide has to -- is looking at his situation and making judgments, are you deliberately leaving the door open for him to quit? And do you want him to take the opportunity to walk through that door?

SECRETARY POWELL: I think my statement was pretty clear. I think it is a very difficult time for the Haitian people and I know that President Aristide has the interests of the Haitian people at heart. I hope he will just examine the situation that he is in and make a careful examination of how best to serve the Haitian people at this time; and I think my statement speaks for itself.

QUESTION: Mr. Secretary.

SECRETARY POWELL: Yeah.

QUESTION: After 1994, after the military intervention by the U.S., do you think the U.S. and other countries pulled out too soon? Do you think all the problems that have recurred since that time in Haiti are because of Aristide or is it because of -- maybe the international community bears some brunt as well for the problems?

SECRETARY POWELL: Well, the United States and the international community stayed for several years. A Haitian police force was created. I went down a year after the return of President Aristide and saw them being trained.

We spent a great deal of money on their training. Commissioner Kelly from New York participated in that training, supervised that training, and a lot of money was invested in Haiti to try to build up the proper institutions of government. But unfortunately, it didn't stay together.

Corruption came into play. Inefficiency came into play. Cronyism came into play. And then the whole political tapestry of the country came apart with elections that weren't proper and an election -- electoral crisis that was not resolved by President Aristide or the other political figures in Haiti. And so I think the international community tried very much to make a success of President Aristide's administration.

I know that as a private citizen at that time, I did everything I could to help President Aristide and his new administration.

Thank you.

2004/206


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