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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 with President Hamid Karzai of the Transitional Islamic State of Afghanistan After Their Meeting

Secretary Colin L. Powell
International Conference On Afghanistan
Intercontinental Hotel, Berlin, Germany
March 31, 2004

Secretary Powell with Afghan President Hamid Karzai PRESIDENT KARZAI: Ladies and gentlemen, greetings. It’s such a tremendous pleasure and honor to have my good friend and a real fine statesman, Secretary Powell, again together in maybe – how many days – 15 days time? Two weeks time? The last time was in Kabul; today we are in Berlin. I heard Secretary Powell had a very wonderful speech earlier: full of support for Afghanistan, full of commitment of the United States for Afghanistan. And the U.S. has announced an additional $1 billion dollars on top of the $1.2 billion dollars that was announced for Afghanistan earlier. This makes the United States the biggest donor to Afghanistan: in terms of peace building and in terms of reconstruction and in terms of the overall (inaudible) process in the country.

I must also say that the U.S. has given us this year around 300 schools and 378…Ambassador Khalilzad…clinics on top of those that are going to be built all over the country. So Secretary Powell, I thank you very much for the tremendous generosity that you have shown towards us, towards the Afghan people. And I thank you on behalf of all people. And please take a message from me back to the United States of extreme gratitude on that and thank President Bush, as well, please.

SECRETARY POWELL: Thank you very much, Mr. President, I will take that message back to President Bush and to the American people. I am very pleased to be here at this Berlin Conference to join delegations representing some 64 other nations and international organizations who have come together to show the commitment of the international community to the future of Afghanistan and to the welfare of the Afghanistan people. I expect this to be a successful conference. I think we’re going to get a significant total when we add up all the pledges that I’ve heard about so far. I think it shows that we have confidence in the leadership of Afghanistan, but above all we have confidence in the Afghanistan people. The Afghan people want to live in peace, they want to live in freedom, they want to live in a democracy. They are demonstrating that in so many ways, by the rebuilding that is taking place in Kabul, by their willingness to participate in the process of electing a new government as they register for the elections that will now take place in September. You see it in the mere fact that some 3 million refugees have returned to their homes, voting with their feet for the future of their country. They would not be coming home unless they had confidence in the leadership of the country, unless they had confidence that the international community would be there for them, unless they had confidence in the future of their own families to do that in a democratic Afghanistan.

I just want to assure President Karzai, and through him all Afghans, that the United States views this as a priority mission for us, NATO views it as their number one priority operational mission. The international community knows its obligations and we will meet those obligations. And I would like to extend my thanks to Chancellor Schroeder and to Foreign Minister Fischer and the German people for hosting this conference and showing once again how Germany is committed to the future of Afghanistan, not only by hosting this conference, but by the financial contribution that Germany has made, as well as the contribution of troop presence on the ground in Afghanistan. Thank you very much.

QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, by contrast, Iraq has had more civilians killed and bodies mutilated. Five Marines killed – what is your outlook for Iraq? Can this ever end?

SECRETARY POWELL: It sure can. We’re moving forward with the political process that you’re well familiar with. We have [a] transitional administrative law that has been agreed upon by the Governing Council. I just met a few moments ago with Ambassador Lakdar Brahimi, and he will be heading over soon to begin consultations with the Governing Council and with the CPA on the nature of the interim government that will come into place on the first of July.

The reconstruction efforts are underway, a great deal of money is now flowing into the country, and the economy will improve, oil is flowing, the revenues are going up from oil. So a lot of good things are happening in Afghanistan…in Iraq, excuse me…but we still have individuals in Iraq, left over from the old regime, terrorists who have come into the country and others within the country who don’t want to see Iraq become a democracy, who don’t want the people of Iraq to live in peace and freedom. And these former regime elements, these terrorists and others who are making trouble, will be dealt with and will be defeated. We regret the loss of any life and I express my condolences to the families of those who lost their lives to date. But those lives are lost in the cause of freedom and the Iraqi people will be free. It will happen. They will have a democracy and the international community will make that come about just as we are helping the Afghan people to achieve their democracy.

QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, regarding Cyprus. Turkey has made an eleventh hour appeal for you personally to become involved in the peace talks that are going on in Switzerland. We’re in Europe; Switzerland is close by. Do you have any plans to get involved directly in Switzerland?

SECRETARY POWELL: I’ve been involved rather extensively over the last 24 hours. This morning I have spoken to the Turkish Foreign Minister and the Greek Foreign Minister on the state of the discussions. I spoke to both of them yesterday and I spoke to Kofi Annan yesterday, and I spoke to Kofi Annan about two hours…three hours ago. And so I’m following the negotiations very, very closely, lending the United States’ good offices to all the parties. Right now, I think Secretary General Annan has got his finger on the pulse there, he has additional ideas to put forward and what I’ve been saying to all the parties is that this is an historic opportunity – it must not be lost. And this is the time for leaders to show flexibility and leaders to be willing to compromise for the greater good of the Cypriot people. And that is the message we’re conveying and it’s the message I conveyed again earlier this morning, as well as trying to put forward positions on the various outstanding issues that might help resolve those outstanding issues. At the moment I don’t have any plans to travel to Switzerland, and I don’t know if there’s a need to: Secretary General Annan is there with the Greek and Turkish parties.

QUESTION: Would you mind elaborating a little on the positions that you say …

SECRETARY POWELL: I think I will allow the negotiations to take place in Switzerland without commenting on them, because they are really going minute-by-minute, hour-by-hour. And I think it’s best to let any commentary about positions come from Switzerland and not from Berlin.

PRESIDENT KARZAI: Yeah, yeah, go ahead. Any questions? Afghan reporters, any reporters?

(cross-talk)

QUESTION: Mr. Powell, will the United States take more active role in the disarmament of militias.

PRESIDENT KARZAI: Good question.

(Laughter)

SECRETARY POWELL: We believe that DDR, as it’s called, has to be an essential part of the political process going forward. An armed population, where arms are not under the control of the state, creates a destabilizing situation. I was pleased to see on television last night tanks being taken to consolidation sites. So, in effect it is happening. It’s happening as a result of the efforts of President Karzai and his government and international communities supporting these efforts. So let’s get the tanks and artillery pieces and large guns into concentration sites and let’s continue the disarmament process so that, as I heard President Karzai say on many occasions, arms must be in the hands of the state and not in the hands of individual militias or those who are not answerable to the people through their democratically-elected government.

Thank you.



Released on March 31, 2004

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