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Colin Powell Reaches Out Allies Around the World

Colin Powell Reaches Out Allies Around the World

U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell says "he is trying to reach out as much as he can" to world leaders and convey to them "a message of openness and American interest." Source: Transcript of Powell On-the-Record Remarks to the Press February 1, 2001, in Washington File (EUR407), U.S. Department of State, Washington D.C.

Speaking February 1 on-the-record to reporters at the State Department, Powell pointed out that since becoming Secretary of State recently he has met with a series of Foreign Ministers from Europe, Asia and the hemisphere, as well as with the President of Rwanda. He was scheduled to meet later in the day with President of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Asked to define the new administration's vision for foreign policy, Powell said "you're going to see a strong sense of what President Bush has spoken about with respect to America being a powerful nation, but also a nation that will use its power with humility, recognizing that we are one of 180 nations. And that will be, I think, a fairly consistent theme."

Asked what areas of the world preoccupy him the most, Powell said: "I think we have to watch carefully what's happening with the Middle East peace process and how that unfolds over the next several days, and then watch the Israeli election. I think, of course, we have to look at the Gulf, and especially Iraq."

But he said "you can't just concentrate on one thing. There are just so many things going on. So at the same time that those might be uppermost in my mind today, I'm also mindful of the problems that exist in Africa."

Powell said he also wants "to begin working closely with our European allies and our friends in Asia as well. I'm going to try to help President Bush with his earnest desire to show coherent and consistent foreign policy across all the accounts."

On his travel plans, Powell said he will remain in Washington for the early part of February but said he may start traveling at the end of the month.

Asked if he planned to go to Kuwait for the tenth anniversary of its liberation from Iraq, Powell said he did not know whether he will be there or not. "There are a lot of, as you can imagine, a lot of claimants, a lot of places I'd like to go, need to go, and I haven't yet worked out a schedule," he said.

Following is the State Department transcript, as delivered: (begin transcript)

U.S. Department of State, Office of the Spokesman, February 1, 2001 (As Delivered)

On-The-Record Remarks to the Press by Secretary of State Colin Powell

February 1, 2001, Washington, D.C.

SECRETARY POWELL: (In progress) -- good meetings in Paris yesterday with President Chirac, and I'm looking forward to meeting him this afternoon. He gave a very interesting and impressive inauguration address which had a lot of elements in it, and I hope to follow up with him on those elements, some of the things he spoke about, the Lusaka Accord and some other issues, so I'm looking forward to meeting with him.

With respect to an interagency working group, we are establishing a system within the new Administration where we will have working groups--not terribly different from past patterns--but a lot of those working groups will be chaired once again by the State Department. And so surely we will look at any region that requires looking at any particular time.

QUESTION: Is Africa one of those?

SECRETARY POWELL: Yes.

Q: So there is -- you have set in motion the process?

SECRETARY POWELL: Yeah. But you seem to be asking a pointed question, and I'm giving you a general answer. (Laughter.)

Q: Perhaps there will be more of that. (Laughter.)

SECRETARY POWELL: You can pick any question you want, but I pick the answer. No, I will try to create a relationship where I will never take you down a wrong path or let you go down a wrong path if I can keep from going down a wrong path. And so we obviously are looking at the Congo, as we will with any other region, but there is nothing that you should be highlighting at this moment about our efforts. Okay?

Q: Mr. Secretary, what do you want to tell us sort of generally, off the record, before -- (inaudible) -- (laughter)?

SECRETARY POWELL: What do I want to tell you off the record before you --

Q: Before -- (inaudible) -- go off the record.

SECRETARY POWELL: No, I was going to just respond to whatever questions might be on your mind in this first session. We could do it privately off the record so you can ask me all kinds of strange stuff, but I would be delighted to do it on the record and you can ask me all kinds of strange stuff. I'll try always to be on the record. There will be occasions when background is more appropriate, and there will be, I am sure, some occasions when off the record would be appropriate, but for the most part I want to deal with you in a way that I'm speaking for the United States Government, speaking for the State Department, and I'm helping convey a message through you to the American people. I believe very strongly that I have that obligation, that responsibility, to talk to the American people about what we are doing in their name, what President Bush is doing with his foreign policy. And the way to do that is not just with us giving speeches, but to communicate through the media. And I'm not blowing in your ear. I want to help you do your job.

Q: On any basis, can you talk about any travel plans, and specifically the Kuwaiti tenth anniversary celebration?

SECRETARY POWELL: In general terms, I'm pretty much fixed here for the early part of February because I'm the only one here -- (laughter) -- and this makes it hard to leave. Terrible things might happen if I left town. But I am looking toward the end of the month to see if I can then free up and start traveling. I note that the tenth anniversary is on the 26th of February. I don't know yet whether I will be there or not, but I am certainly looking at starting to travel toward the end of February. And there are a lot of, as you can imagine, a lot of claimants, a lot of places I'd like to go, need to go, and I haven't yet worked out a schedule. And I'll try to get it to you well in advance so you can plan your kids' birthday parties and soccer games around that.

Q: Exactly.

SECRETARY POWELL: I'll try to give as much notice as I can. I don't really have a good handle yet on the amount of travel I'm going to be doing. It will be a lot, but at the same time I feel that in these early weeks of the Administration I have an obligation to help the Department through the transition -- it's still the transition period -- get my new team on board, in place and on board, and to make sure that the Administration is working together closely -- the national security team -- to get our positions and policies in place. And then we're only two weeks into this, ten days into it or so, and we need to get that in place before I start going around the world to convey policies that we're still solidifying and putting in place. I think we're off to a pretty good start. The team is working very well.

Q: In your Senate testimony you talked about reviewing -- it must have been eight or ten different issues. Which ones are ripening the fastest?

SECRETARY POWELL: I think we have to watch carefully what's happening with the Middle East peace process and how that unfolds over the next several days, and then watch the Israeli election. I think, of course, we have to look at the Gulf, and especially Iraq. I've spoken about that previously. Those two immediately come to mind.

But I am of a view that you can't just concentrate on one thing. There are just so many things going on. So at the same time that those might be uppermost in my mind today, I'm also mindful of the problems that exist in Africa. And Congo, as you noted, was the first question.

I also want to begin working closely with our European allies and our friends in Asia as well. I'm going to try to help President Bush with his earnest desire to show coherent and consistent foreign policy across all the accounts. On any one day, one key might be up a little higher than another key in a particular country, but I think it's important for us to show coherence and consistency over time with respect to our relations to all countries. So I've been doing a lot in the last week, met with foreign ministers from Europe, met with foreign ministers from Asia, met with the foreign ministers here in our country, the foreign minister of Canada, the foreign minister of Mexico, the foreign minister of Japan, the foreign minister of Romania just left. The president of Rwanda yesterday. So I'm trying to reach out as much as I can and convey a message of openness and American interest in these regions. And you're going to see a strong sense of what President Bush has spoken about with respect to America being a powerful nation, but also a nation that will use its power with humility, recognizing that we are one of 180 nations. And that will be, I think, a fairly consistent theme.

Q: Do you see Iraq emerging as a problem in the short term again?

SECRETARY POWELL: Problem? Iraq is a problem for its own people. I think we have to keep reminding everybody that this is an arms control problem. They are threatening their neighbors. They threaten the children of the region with weapons of mass destruction. They can't project conventional power very effectively, so they're trying to gain strength by threatening the people of the region. They made a commitment to do away with these weapons, and I think the international community and the United Nations has to hold them to that commitment. And I'll be working with our friends in the region; the President will be working with our friends in the region and our friends in the United Nations to hold them to account for the obligations they made.

Q: Meaning allowing the inspectors back in?

SECRETARY POWELL: Hold them to account for the obligations they made. The obligations were not solely around inspectors. The obligations were to show to the international community that they no longer are developing these kinds of weapons and that they do not have them.

I've got to go up now.

(Simultaneous conversation.)

Q: When do you think you're going -- (inaudible) -- Clinton Administration didn't do in terms of Iraq?

SECRETARY POWELL: One thing I will not do is compare this Administration to the past. You watch what we will do and you can make the comparisons, but I'm not going to make the comparisons.

Q: Well, where can you put pressures on them?

SECRETARY POWELL: You will see.

Q: How realistic is it as a plan to take out Saddam through funding the rebel groups there at this point, in your estimation?

SECRETARY POWELL: I will make that judgment. I'm not going to make that judgment --

Q: Are you going to see the INC leadership in the next few days?

SECRETARY POWELL: It's not on my calendar at the moment.

Gotta go. Thank you.

(Simultaneous conversation.)

Q: (Inaudible.)

SECRETARY POWELL: The appointments are not mine to make. They are the President's. They'll be made in due course. The processing is careful in order to do what the President said to have the most solid, ethical administration possible, so we're being very careful. They're coming along. They're coming along.

Q: (Inaudible) -- in place by the end of the month?

SECRETARY POWELL: I would like to.

Thank you.

(end State Department transcript)

 

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Directeur de la publication : Joël-François Dumont
Comité de rédaction : Jacques de Lestapis, Hugues Dumont, François de Vries (Bruxelles), Hans-Ulrich Helfer (Suisse), Michael Hellerforth (Allemagne).
Comité militaire : VAE Guy Labouérie (†), GAA François Mermet (2S), CF Patrice Théry (Asie).

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