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Joschka Fischer in Washington

U.S.-Germany Bilateral Relations Are Solid

U.S. Secretary Colin Powell's Remarks After Bilateral Meeting With German Minister of Foreign Affairs Joschka Fischer with German Minister of Foreign Affairs. Washington, DC, November 17, 2003. Source: U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Public Affairs.

State Department Photo by Michael Gross

Secretary Powell: Well, good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. It has been my pleasure once again to host my colleague and good friend, Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer. We've had a very good discussion over lunch on the state of U.S.-Germany bilateral relations, which I think are solid. And the disagreements that we have had in the past, we are leaving in the past, as we move forward on discussing issues of mutual interest to our two countries -- the alliances that we belong to, NATO, as well as issues relating our relationship with the European Union.

I'll be leaving tonight for European Union meetings tomorrow, and I look forward to those meetings, and so I think we're moving in the right direction. Germany has been especially helpful with the alliance efforts, the coalition efforts in Afghanistan - a willingness to take on responsibility for a provincial reconstruction team in Kondoz, the very significant financial contribution from Germany toward the rebuilding efforts in Afghanistan.

And we also had an opportunity to discuss the work that Foreign Minister Fischer, joined by Foreign Secretary Straw and Foreign Minister de Villepin have been doing, with respect to the Iranian nuclear program, and I thanked him for those efforts. We'll have a chance to discuss that further with my other European Union colleagues tomorrow.

And so, Joschka, it is our great pleasure to have you here, and I invite you to say a word, and then we'll take a couple of questions.

Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer: Thank you very much. First of all, I conveyed my condolences and sympathy to my colleague, Colin Powell, about the death of American servicemen who were killed in Iraq. We were all so shocked about what happened with the Italian Carabinieri and about these outrages and terrible terror attack against synagogues during the Shabad in Turkey.

It reflects the situation of today, and we must cooperate very closely in the transatlantic family, and therefore we appreciate it very much that Colin is going to Brussels. We discussed the initiative now to move forward with the transfer of sovereignty in Iraq. We appreciate that step forward, and hopefully it can be broadened. And towards the UN, we discussed about the Middle East conflict, Iran, Afghanistan, the whole variety of crises. We are cooperating very closely, and we discussed about the transatlantic relationship.

Once again, it's good to be here in Washington, and have very close discussions with my friend, Colin Powell. Thank you very much.

Secretary Powell: Thank you.

Question: Minister, may I ask you -- two parts: First of all, do you think the U.S. is victimized by terrorism in Iraq? You spoke about terror on several fronts. Is terror a part of the problem?

And, secondly, what is your impression? Do you approve? Does your government approve of the changes in the tie line -- the timeline, the acceleration, et cetera? Will it meet international wishes?

Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer:Well, I don't know exactly whether I understood what you mean with the first part of your question. But definitely we have terrorism and international terrorism more and more also in Iraq. It happened there. I mean, the attack on the UN headquarter, on the International Red Cross, and the Jordanian Embassy, and also the terrorist attack on Italian soldiers and Carabinieri. I mean, it's quite clear.

And the second part of your question please?

Question: The second part: Does your government approve of the shifts in accelerating the takeover by Iraqis of their own country?

Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer: Of course, I think this is a very important step forward, that we'll have now a timeline for transition of authority and sovereignty to an Iraqi government. I think this could be very helpful. And what we can do, we will do to contribute to these positive development. And if the UN can play here, a role, I think this could be also very helpful.

Secretary Powell: I just might add a word. The Minister mentioned the UN in two of his references, and I have been in touch with Secretary General Annan within the last 24 hours to discuss the role the UN might play, and to inquire of him how he is coming along with respect to designating a new Secretary General's representative for Iraq, and we want the UN to play a role, and it is a part of our plan in moving forward.

Question: Mr. Secretary, could I ask about the UN role, what role you do envision the UN playing? And also, if I could ask about the recent tape that Saddam Hussein apparently issued, what concern that gives you that he is able to continue to issue these while the security situation is worsening?

Secretary Powell: UN Resolution 1511 and earlier UN resolutions provided for a role to be played by the UN, and I think Secretary General Annan and his staff are anxious to play that role. The problem we have had is security and concern for the welfare of UN personnel in Iraq after the tragic loss of Sergio de Mello and a number of other people.

But I think it's time now, with this new plan, for the UN to determine whether or not circumstances will permit it to play a more active role inside the country. And Ambassador Bremer and I have discussed this, and I know that he is anxious to cooperate with UN representation in the country, as we move forward. Whether any further UN action might be required as we execute this plan in the form of another UN resolution or not, that all remains to be seen, and we'll make a judgment on that as we move forward.

With respect to the tape, I don't think we have any confirmation yet, whether it is or is not Saddam Hussein. But as the President said yesterday, it's just more propaganda, will not influence us, one way or the other, as we go about defeating these terrorists, and defeating these remnants of his old regime, who are trying to deny the Iraqi people freedom, peace and security in their own land; they will be defeated.

Question: Mr. Secretary.

Secretary Powell: I'll have a German -- take a German.

Question: Did you discuss the French position, who say the transfer of authority doesn't go fast enough, it should happen by the end of the year? And do you have a joint position on that French position?

Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer: Well, I think Secretary will have the opportunity to change shoes directly tomorrow with Dominique de Villepin, so I am not an interlocutor between the United States and France.

Question: What's your opinion?

Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer: Well, I think first of all, it's an important step forward in the right direction, and what we can do to create a positive dynamic. And I think this is crucial and strengthens the legitimacy of this process of transferring sovereignty, which is now a move forward by the United States and agreement of Mr. Bremer and Governing Council. We should do, but to go into the details, I think press conference is not the right place.

Question: Mr. Secretary, did you discuss the attack in Istanbul, the terrorist attack in Istanbul?

Secretary Powell: Yes. As the Minister said, we express our regrets over the loss of life and extend our condolences to the family members of those who were lost and were injured, and we once again condemn terrorism in all of its forms, and the Minister laid out so many terrorist attacks we've seen in recent months.

And we know that the Turkish authorities are outraged and we are confident that they will do everything in their power to bring all of those responsible to justice, of this I have no doubt. I spoke to the Turkish Foreign Minister, Foreign Minister Gul, shortly after it happened, and the President has also made appropriate calls.

Question: Mr. Secretary -- I'm sorry -- Minister Fischer, primarily, as one of the people who went to Iran shortly before the October 31st deadline -- you've surely been watching that situation carefully -- what did you think of the U.S. assessment already that the IAEA report is "impossible to believe," and does the German Government share that assessment?

Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer: Well, first of all, I think it's very important that we are moving forward, based on realism, and realism must be based on transparency and these are the basic principles of the agreement, the three of us, the Foreign Minister of the United Kingdom, France and myself reached with the Iranian side in Tehran.

I think we are moving in the right direction, but we must go now into the details. It means full compliance, and this must be measured by the IAEO. So, if we are moving in the right direction, I think it's a good message, but it must be based, once again, on realism.

Question: But what about the reports? You didn't answer my question. What does the German Government think about the IAEA report issued by ElBaradei?

Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer: Well, we will discuss it now, I think, in a constructive way, and inside the Board of Governors. I mean, this discussion will not happen here on the press conference. It will happen and take place in the Board of Governors. But we are quite positive about the whole atmosphere, but once again, we must be realists.

Question: Mr. Secretary, the possibility of turning Iraq into some sort of formal NATO mission, formal NATO undertaking, is this possible? Is it desirable, sir?

Secretary Powell: I wouldn't rule out anything at this point. I know that NATO has discussed this and I've had discussions with NATO, but right now, I think it's premature to think about that. As we get further down the road on this new plan that we have, we could look at a variety of options, but I think it would be premature to rule that in or rule it out at this point. It's something to be discussed and thought about as we go forward.

Over to our European friends.

Question: Yeah. Are there any new expectations or suggestions with regard to Germany helping out in Iraq?

Secretary Powell: No. We had an open and candid conversation about it. Germany has made some offers with respect to some kinds of training that might be provided, but the German position is well known.

I don't know if you want to add anything.

Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer: Well, I mean, during the meeting of the President and the Chancellor in New York, the Chancellor made the proposal that we will be helpful in police training, we are helpful also in reconstruction. We have a small reconstruction team for water supply in Baghdad, and we are helpful also in humanitarian aid.

But in military terms, we are focused on Afghanistan and there -- I mean, we are the biggest, after United States, the biggest troop contributor. I think our troops are doing a pretty good job in Afghanistan, and we increased our engagement now with the decision to take over a provincial reconstruction team in Kondoz, and we will focus mostly on Afghanistan.

Secretary Powell: Yes.

Question: Mr. Secretary, EU Foreign Policy Representative Solana said that the Iranians provided "honest data" about their nuclear program. Does the Administration agree with that?

Secretary Powell: I wouldn't have gone quite as far. The Iranians have provided us a great deal of information. It confirms what the United States has been saying for some time and which we believe that the Iranian nuclear development program was for more than just the production of power, that it had an intent to producing a nuclear weapon, and I think that the information that has come forward establishes that.

For a long time, we were the only ones who were sort of pressing the case. I think that my three colleagues, the EU Three, played a very, very helpful role in going to Tehran on a couple of occasions and putting the facts before the Iranians and coming back with a very, very positive and productive result. But I don't think this matter is finished. I think we have to remain vigilant; as the minister said, we have to be realistic.

But realism means making sure that the Iranians tell us every single thing there is to know about what they have been doing with respect to nuclear developments of all kinds so that the international community can make an informed, comprehensive and full judgment as to what they have been doing and whether they have stopped doing the things that we have been suggesting for some time they were doing, that were inconsistent with their obligations and should cause all of us to have serious concerns about judging too quickly whether or not we have now received the full and complete story from the Iranians.

Thank you.

(Secretary escorts Foreign Minister.)

Question: Mr. Secretary, what do you think of the draft? What do you think of the -- wait, Barry. What do you think of the draft – the draft IAEA resolution?

Secretary Powell: IAEA resolution?

Question: Yes.

Secretary Powell: Or a proposed resolution?

Question: Well, their draft.

Secretary Powell: Well, whose draft? Whose draft?

Question: It's the German, French and --

Secretary Powell: We're examining it, and I'll have a position on it after my staff has finished (inaudible).

Question: Do you see al-Qaida fingerprints or earmarks, as the State Department likes to say, for what happened in Germany?

Secretary Powell: I don't know yet. I don't have enough information. I think that certainly it has all of the fingerprints one would expect of an al-Qaida operation, but I don't know whether the Turkish authorities are prepared to make that connection at this time. Thank you.

2003/1176 [End]

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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).