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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 > March

Remarks En Route to Kuwait

Secretary Colin L. Powell
Released in Kuwait City, Kuwait
March 18, 2004

SECRETARY POWELL: Okay, Iíll take whatever questions you have. I donít think I need to make any more statements today. So, what do you want to know about?

QUESTION: Your meeting with President Musharraf.

SECRETARY POWELL: We had a good meeting and then followed it up with lunch and we covered a full agenda. We talked about Dr. A.Q. Khanís activities and I reinforced to President Musharraf that we wanted to have full access to all the information that they are gathering. And he assured us, assured me that he would. And also we had a discussion about, on suggestions about whether or not former members of the government knew about what was going on. We talked about that but I donít have anything to say about that publicly. We talked about the action along the Afghan-Pak border. He gave me a pretty detailed description, kind of almost soldier to soldier, of the battle thatís taking place there today, as we were sitting in his office, a continuation of the tactical action that started the other night. That has continued and more troops have been put in.

We talked about that. We also covered the India-Pak dialogue. Heís committed to it, and of course, Kashmir is uppermost in his mind. And I told him how pleased we were that it is a full agenda of items, though-eight different baskets of items. And theyíre approaching it in a rational way.

We talked a lot about economic issues in our meeting and at lunch. I donít want to get too deeply into this because I donít think youíd find it all that terribly interesting. But when you look at whatís happening in that part of the world, and it went to something President Karzai said when we were chatting yesterday. You put a Ring Road in Afghanistan and you make Afghanistan accessible to the south and to the north and trucks can now start traveling at high speed. And you look at how that can connect them to the other Central Asian nations if roads are put in. And if you look at what Pakistan is doing to improve its infrastructure capacity. And you look out 10 or 15 years or so, and if you can get peace in the region between India and Pakistan and [Afghanistan] living in peace with its neighbors. And start to imagine the kinds of transmission capability you might have for petroleum products and natural gas. It fundamentally reshapes the economy of that whole part of Central Asia and the subcontinent. Theyíre developing port facilities to start to take advantage of these opportunities. And so, it really shows how it is in everybodyís interest in that part of the world to achieve peace between countries that have been in conflict for too long, and there really is tremendous promise. And it should always come about. Youíll see an economic shift take place to that part of the world because of infrastructure development, because of open trading systems.

And we went from there to a discussion of how you have to educate young people, which you guys have heard me go on on this many times: how you have to educate young people to have the skills to participate in such a world. And thatís why you have to work with the madrases and to educate youngsters for skills, not just for faith-and, frankly, a distortion of faith.

So, really most of lunch was in that vein, since we really didnít have to talk about the potential for conflict and war or things of that nature. But, it was a good, solid, very very expansive conversation covering a lot of issues.

QUESTION: Still on Dr. Khan, Mr. Secretary, you say that you canít share details in public about the conversation, but do you had some questions about potential involvement by former or current officials. Did you receive an answer? Did that answer satisfy you? And did President Musharraf, who was Chief of Staff after í98 and Head of State after í99, talk to you about that report thatís been reported in the United States that the most of the activity took place between í98 and 2002?

SECRETARY POWELL: Most of what activity took place between í98 and 2002?

QUESTION: North Korean uranium.

SECRETARY POWELL: Oh. No, we didnít get into that detail. He gave me a summary of the relationship that A.Q. Khan had with those who were in authority over that period of time. But what I want to do is reflect on what he said to me and discuss it with some of my other colleagues back in Washington before I comment on specifics of it.

QUESTION: Quickly, in what he said, was there anything you didnít know?

SECRETARY POWELL: Yes.

(laughter)

QUESTION: All right. One more on A.Q. Khan, doesÖ

SECRETARY POWELL: Not that he was necessarily giving me something that others in my government donít know, but some of the things he said to me were new to me.

QUESTION: Is the U.S. getting direct access at all to A.Q. Khan or are we basically just getting a readout from what the Pakistanis are getting? And on these meetings that you are having with young people and civil society folks, youíve done it before but it seems like thereís been an acceleration of it, youíre doing more of it. Is that true, and if so, why? Has there been some decision made in Washington about that? Thanks.

SECRETARY POWELL: I think Iíve just been trying to, as I travel around, see if I can generate more opportunities like this. I very much enjoy talking to young people. They usually go right to the heart of an issue. They usually have more candor than adults will. So, Iíve just been trying to squeeze out more time. Itís something Iíve done before. You may remember my great MTV appearance of some years ago, but that was in the United States. And Iíll try to do more of those as I go around. But it isnít anything thatís new or different, just when time presents itself, Iíll do things like that.

QUESTION: And do we have direct access to A.Q. Khan or are we just getting a fill from the Pakistanis.

SECRETARY POWELL: Weíre getting a fill at the moment. I donít think thereís been any direct access, at least not that I know of. But weíre getting information.

QUESTION: Can you talk a little bit about the significance of the designation of Pakistan as a Major Non-NATO Ally? How that came about? And why it did?

SECRETARY POWELL: There are a number of countries that we give that status to and it gives them greater access to excess defenseÖEDAÖexcess defense [articles] and property that we might have. In some instances it is more symbolic than practical. I donít know if Pakistan, whether theyíll be able to take great advantage of it. But it is just a sign of the strength of the relationship and there are a limited number of countries in the world who enjoy major non-NATO access, as it is called: MNNA.

Weíve been working on it for some time. It was approved within the Administration and weíll have to make a notification to Congress, so this seemed like a good time to make note of it publicly.

QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, you said he gave you a good detailed soldier to soldier description of whatís going on in south and north Waziristan right now. And itís been controversial in Pakistan, there was a pretty vicious editorial cartoon today in one of the papers, dealing with your arrival and the fighting there. First, can you give us any new details of further movements about troop movements? You said there were more troops. And, can you tell us if he told you whether they feel like theyíre getting any closer to Osama Bin Laden or al Qaeda leaders?

SECRETARY POWELL: On the second question, I donít have any information and I donít like to speculate on whether weíre closer, not closer, when weíre going to get him or weíre not going to get him, is he alive or is he dead. I just donít know. I donít think anybody really does know.

I saw the cartoon. But the people they are going after are terrorists. They are people who mean no good to Afghanistan and, if left alone, they will try to destabilize Afghanistan again and that is not in Pakistanís interest. And they essentially are trying to impose their kind of sovereignty over sections of Pakistan. So, this is a direct challenge to the leadership of Pakistan and theyíre going after these guys. And the action the other day triggered a larger action and now they are piling on today. What the results of the battle will be, weíll just have to wait and see. But he is serious about going after these individuals. He understands the threat they pose to his country and also to Afghanistan, which will affect his country.

QUESTION: Just one more on A.Q. Kahn. I know you have answered a lot of this. But, while you were standing next to Foreign Minister Kasuri today, he said A.Q. Khan enjoyed what he described as total autonomy which I took to mean autonomy from Pakistanís government officials at the time. Can you just respond to that specifically, since he said it in public?

SECRETARY POWELL: Iíd prefer that he were here to explain what he meant by autonomy. Obviously, A.Q. Khan was working with other agencies of the government to produce a nuclear weapon in the first place, and that had to be money that was passing through the governmental system to support all of that. And so he was not acting alone with respect to the development of the Pakistan nuclear weapon.

What he was doing with respect to proliferation activities, which is the issue at hand, I think that is what the minister was referring to: that nobody had given him any authority or participated in any way in what he was doing with North Korea and Libya and the others. I think that was the context of autonomy. What I have discussed with the President this afternoon was, One: the nature of the original arrangement with A.Q. Khan and what they do about this post-Pakistan weapon development period, when he was essentially pedaling this stuff around the world. And weíll continue to study this, we want to make sure we understand everything we can about it, get it all ripped up and pulled up.

My impression is that President Musharraf is serious about this. They are all taken aback by the fact that A.Q. Khan, a revered figure in Pakistan, now has clearly been identified, self-acknowledged that he had been using what he knew and what he learned and what he had developed in helping his own nation, to help nations that shouldnít have been helped. And no responsible government of Pakistan should have tolerated such thing and I hope they did not. I hope it was something that he was doing on his own. But we got to get all the facts.

QUESTION: Can you shed any light on the nature of the agreement that Foreign Minister Kasuri talked about regarding Pakistani prisoners at Guantanamo Bay and in Afghanistan? What exactly did you agree to on that?

SECRETARY POWELL: As you know, we have released a group and I think Iím going to not answer that one because Iím going to let Richard get whatever statement was issued in Washington by the Pentagon, or whoever was making the release since I've been on the road. And thereís some very nuanced points with respect to whoís been released and what we expect to have happen as some individuals will be released. Some will be released entirely with no further surveillance and charges. Others are in different categories and Iíd rather not answer off the top of my head.

QUESTION: Did Musharraf bring up F-16s and the possible purchase of those?

SECRETARY POWELL: The subject did not come up.

QUESTION: What do you say to people that say Pakistan has dealt with A.Q. Khan with kid gloves? The United States deals with Pakistan with kid gloves. Thereís a lot of skepticism that none of this will really come out and that the network - when you say "pulled up by the root, by the branches"- it will just get covered up. No one else will get punished. And you come here and you give them non-NATO, major NATO, whatever status.

SECRETARY POWELL: Thank you for that editorial comment in the form of a question. But, I just donít agree with you. We know a lot about this network. I can tell you A.Q. Khan is not giving anything to anybody anymore. We also know who was working with him. We know the channels that we being used. We know a great deal about it. We know a lot about what was going on at the facilities in Malaysia before the Malaysians acknowledged it all, and they found it. So A.Q. Khan, whatever the Pakistanis end up doing with him, is essentially secluded in his home and he is not going to be running this network anymore. And so, what we are really interested in is getting the network stopped and pulled up. Weíve done that and now weíre going to look for all parts of it.

But the one thing I know is there are no more centrifuges or designs or other components of nuclear weapons flowing out of the A.Q. Khan network. Now I think that is a major achievement. And it was accomplished by solid intelligence work on the part of our intelligence community and other intelligence communities and us letting the Pakistanis know more than they knew about what was going on and then working with President Musharraf and said "itís time to turn over the cards on this one" and having President Musharraf say "yes, youíre right" and stand up and face the publicÖthe Pakistani public with respect to Dr. Khan. They consider him a national hero. And they worked it out. Dr Khan acknowledged what he had done and is now in seclusion, he got a conditional amnesty. And the word conditional, they keep repeating that word, now whether it actually means anything or not, I donít know. Now, I donít know whether he will ever be subject to any charges or punishment and Iíll let the Pakistanis worry about that, and you all write about it. All I know is A.Q. Khan is not doing what A.Q. Khan was doing last year. And that is a major, major achievement.

QUESTION: What about the reward?

SECRETARY POWELL: What reward?

QUESTION: Major Non-NATO Ally.

SECRETARY POWELL: Itís part of a normal relationship we have with countries that we have military to military relationships with and we think it is sensible to do. It is not as if we are puttingÖyou know, we have been doing a lot with Pakistan. Over the last three years, we have helped them with debt relief, we have helped them with development assistance and economic aid, one of the largest programs that we have. We have helped them with their military needs. We have helped them with their educational needs with respect to trying to reform the madrases. We are doing a lot with them because we want to have a good relationship with Pakistan and a good relationship with India.

So, Major Non-NATO Ally status was something we have been working on for months and months and months and months. We were getting ready to send the notification up to the Congress and so I took this opportunity to make brief mention of it. Itís not a reward for A.Q. Khan, itís part of a continuing relationship and we have been doing things to demonstrate to the Pakistanis that we are good, solid, long term partners. The same relationship we want to have with India.



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