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U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE PRESS BRIEFING ON MIDDLE EAST VISIT
Riyadh, 28th February 2001


U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
Office of the Spokesman
(Cairo, Egypt)
For Immediate Release
February 24, 2001

Secretary of State Colin L. Powell
Press Briefing Aboard Aircraft
En Route to Cairo, Egypt

February 23, 2001

SECRETARY POWELL:  Well good evening.  Thank you all for joining me. You have more people than I've got.  This is not part of your new trimmed down State Department when I see this group.  Glad to have you aboard and look forward to the opportunity of speaking to you as we go around on our various
trips, not only this one, but in the future.

Why don't we just jump into your questions rather than me give a statement?

Q: Iraq sanctions?  Domestically but still have some impact because of the
dual use challenges?

SECRETARY POWELL:  I think it's important to point out that for the last 10 years, the policy that the United Nations, the United States has been following, has succeeded in keeping Iraq from rebuilding to the level that it was before.  It's an army that's only one-third its original size.  And even though they may be pursuing weapons of mass destruction of all kinds,
it is not clear how successful they have been.  So to some extent, I think we ought to declare this a success. We have kept him contained, kept him in his box.

And, beginning with the oil for food program a few years ago, we became sensitive to the needs of the Iraqi people and found a way to give them the wherewithal to provide for the Iraqi people.  The oil for food program gives him a great deal of money, on top of which he smuggles quite a bit, which gives him an additional amount of money, that exceeds the amount of money he was getting ten years ago.

The difference now is that the UN regime keeps a lot of that money from being spent on weapons the way it was ten years ago, and so I think we need to turn the debate onto his actions as opposed to our actions.  He is the one who is not providing for his people with the money that the oil for food program and his smuggling is providing.  He is the one who is threatening
the region, not the United States.  United States citizens...

Q:  With all due respect, that's absolutely the same line we heard from the last administration, and meanwhile, sanctions become increasingly unpopular among people in the region, if we're going to go on....

SECRETARY POWELL:  Let me finish, let me finish.  I'll take all your questions.  The difference is that we can now make the case that all we're trying to do is not anything with respect to the welfare of the people of Iraq, it's the weapons of mass destruction we're after, and if he comes into compliance with the UN resolutions and the agreements he made at the end of
the Gulf War with respect to the UN obligations and if he does that and lets the inspectors back in, there is a way to get through this process.

What I'm going to be talking to my friends about in the region is that we are taking this heat that somehow we are affecting the people of Iraq, that somehow we are losing the support of Arabs in the street, as they are often called.  And if we are losing that support and it's affecting the whole sanctions regime, then I want to hear about that directly from our friends
in the region and let's exchange ideas about how we can make this sanctions regime a more effective and more directed to its sole purpose which is to constrain the development of weapons of mass destruction.

I think it's a case that can be made, I think it's a case that has a powerful message behind it, and it's a case I'll be making, and I'm going out to consult, not to lay down edicts.   I'm going out to listen to other ideas and bring those ideas back.  I'm going to share what I hear with my friends in Brussels, our NATO allies and our EU colleagues in Brussels, and then I'm going to come back and report all that to the President, and see what seems to be appropriate after further consultations with the United
Nations as well.

Q:  Did the bombing make your job tougher?

SECRETARY POWELL:  I think the bombing shows that we will not, in the process of looking at whether we should modify the sanctions regime, not overlook his bad behavior, and we will use military force where we think it is necessary.

This particular incident that got all of the attention last week, it was in response to his efforts, his activities in the no fly zone, around the no fly zone, which puts our pilots at risk.  We have always said we would respond to such activities, normally it's not noticed, in this case it was noticed and it became a very big story.  It was at the upper end of our scale of response, and if he puts our pilots at risk, we will respond.

If he does things which we think move in the direction of threatening his neighbors or in violating the terms of the agreements that came out of the Gulf War, we have prepared to respond militarily.  He should know that and he should understand that.

To the extent that it has made my trip a little more difficult because there's been some response in the region that was unfavorable, shall we say, or there's a bit of criticism -- in some places quite a bit of criticism -- over the fact that we did that, to the extent that makes my job and my work a little more difficult, well, so be it.  But it makes the point that we will not allow the negotiating track or whatever we're doing with respect to sanctions overcome what we're prepared to do militarily.  And if it means my trip is a little more difficult, I'm prepared to take on that added burden.

Q:  It may be legitimate to say that the no fly zones, especially the southern one, have outlived their usefulness.  Are you considering any changes in the way that you manage the no fly zones or the level of concentration that you put on them?

SECRETARY POWELL:  We think both no fly zones continue to serve a purpose of protecting the people who live under those no fly zones as well as giving us advance warning of actions he might be taking directed against his neighbors outside of his boundaries.  So the no fly zones are staying in place.  But
we are always in the process of reviewing how to manage them, how best to fly them; and I would expect that Mr. Rumsfeld is undertaking that review as part of our overall review.

Q:  If you modify the sanctions, what are the risks there?

SECRETARY POWELL:  If the sanctions are modified, it won't be as a result of just America saying let's modify the sanctions.  It will be because we have been able to agree with our friends in the region and with our friends at the UN that the sanctions should be modified so that we can remove this hammer that is being used against us, suggesting that we are hurting the
Iraqi people, and we can make it clear that the sanctions directly relate to the provocation.  Now, that's what I'll be listening to arguments about and ideas on.

Q:  What if you take ideas out and there are some sort of sanctions, which, we'd also like you to explain what your ideas are about modifying sanctions.

SECRETARY POWELL:  I do have some ideas but I think it best I present those ideas to my interlocutors before I share them with the whole world.

Q:  What can you say to our Arab allies in the Gulf who want to see the sanctions lifted, but who want to contain Iraq?

SECRETARY POWELL:  Every conversation I've had on this subject in recent weeks, and I've had quite a few, with those leaders in the Gulf, the representative leaders in the Gulf and with my friends in the United Nations, recognize the danger that Saddam Hussein and his weapons development activities present to the region.

I haven't heard anybody say to me, no, he's a nice guy, he's not doing this, forget about it, remove the whole thing, because we want to welcome him back.  Everybody I've spoken to understands that this guy and his regime and his activities present a danger to the region -- not a danger to the United
States, a danger to the region, to the people of the region, to the children of the region.

What they are concerned about and what I have had presented to me and the frustrations I've heard are that we've got to take another look at how it is being done, because there is a belief, at least within a number of the Arab communities, that we are hurting the people of Iraq and we are not hurting the regime and the regime's activities with respect to improving its military capacity or developing weapons of mass destruction.

Because this is a consultative process, and because President Bush has made it clear to everybody that we're going to act after consulting with our friends, I'm going out to hear these arguments firsthand, in addition to just listening to representatives who have come and visited me which I've
appreciated, but I want to hear it firsthand.

Q:  Is there no danger that if you streamline sanctions that Saddam will be able to play it that he won, that he beat them down and forced the United States...

SECRETARY POWELL:  No matter what we do, he will claim some level of success.  But you can claim one thing, and the reality is something else.
And the reality in his situation is it's a sad, tragic case of a tribal leader trapped in a jail of his own making, protected by his security, with young people who are not benefiting from a world that is changing.  He pursues these weapons that will, at the end of the day, not bring him what he thinks they will bring him, and it's a tragedy that his nation's wealth is being squandered in this way.

So he will claim what he wishes to claim.  He will claim that Kuwait still belongs to Iraq.  He will claim that he is winning the mother of all battles.  Meanwhile, our economy continues to do well, nations around the world are enjoying the benefits of freedom, others are trying to figure out how to join this new world, and he sits there in his palaces, squandering the wealth of his people.

[unrelated material deleted]

Q:  On Iraq sanctions, is the primary key here refocusing the debate and perception about sanctions?  Or is the key actually refocusing the substance of the sanctions, perhaps in the form of new UN resolutions?

SECRETARY POWELL:  The key is to make sure that all of our actions, whether they are related with the UN, whether what we do with what's happening in Israel and Gaza and the West Bank, all of our regional activities, the bilateral relations we have with Egypt, with Saudi Arabia, with all the others, link it together in a regional framework. We can all come together
and then focus on Iraq and say to them, you will not be permitted to develop these weapons of mass destruction, and we are going to use the tools at our disposal to make sure that you are contained until you learn your lesson.
One of the tools at our disposal are sanctions, and to make sure that our sanctions policy is directed toward that end.

If there are aspects of the UN sanctions policy that are not directed toward that end and are frustrating our ability to hold the whole regime in place, then I want to know about that, I want to understand that, I want to hear that from our friends in the region and go back and discuss it with the Perm 5, discuss it with the President, discuss it with Kofi Annan, discuss it
with my NATO and EU colleagues, and to see if there's a better way to do it and not lose sight of our goal and our objective.

Q:  As I'm sure you've already heard from many within the Arab world, they're under tremendous pressure now since the Palestinian uprising began, just from their own people.  There's a direct link between the state of the crisis within the Palestinian territories and Iraq.  So how are you going
to -- do you have any ideas as to how to end the violence between Israel and the Palestinians?

SECRETARY POWELL:  That's another purpose of my trip, to speak to of course the Arab leaders -- I'm going to meet with Palestinian leaders and the Israeli leaders and make the case to them that the whole region is under an enormous degree of tension now, whether it has to do with what's going on in
Iraq, or what's going on in Israel and Gaza, the West Bank, and just stabilize this situation.

We must get the level of violence down.  It's easy to say, difficult to do, but it takes leaders and statesmen to step forward and to take responsibility and to speak to everybody in their part of that world, and say we have got to get the violence down, and we have got to get back to the
kinds of bilateral security and multilateral, in some cases, security arrangements that have been created over the last several years that have now been fractured and frayed.

We have got to also get some economic activity going back so that the Palestinian people can have the means to live, the means to put food on the table, and only when we have done these pieces, and they can't be seriatum, we have to sort of work on these three pieces: stabilization activities, lower the level of violence, and get economic activity together.  When we
get these three things moving again -- and it's going to take some time, when we get them moving again and we stabilize the situation, then we begin to see where we are.  By then we'll have a new Israeli government in place, and then we begin to see, where does the negotiation begin again?  And on what basis?  At what level are they ready to negotiate and at what level of negotiation?  It's not clear where we will start that.  There are some who are going to want to start at Taba, there are others who are going to want to start elsewhere, and we will have to see how to begin that negotiation.

There will be a negotiation again, there's no choice but to eventually move forward, because these two people will be living in this land together forever, and they have to find a way to do that.  America, the United States will play its role, and we'll play our role aggressively. President Bush will be engaged, I will be engaged, but there are some things that have to
happen first that I just described.

Q:  If I could just follow up very quickly, is it possible to reenergize the sanctions, to get the coalition back together as long as the violence in the Israel and Palestinian territories continues?

SECRETARY POWELL:  That remains to be seen, but it is my hope that it is possible.

Q:  How do you hope to persuade the Syrians that it's not a good idea for them to make billions of dollars by taking this Iraqi oil?

SECRETARY POWELL:  Well, one of the reasons for me to go to Damascus and meet with the President, I've never been there, and in the course of my experience, I haven't met with Syrian leaders, so I'm looking forward to the opportunity of meeting with President Assad, and I will make the same case to him.

We have to remember that Syria was part of the Desert Storm coalition, and I think Syria has reason to be concerned about Saddam Hussein developing weapons of mass destruction.  Damascus is a lot closer than New York.

[unrelated material deleted]

Q:  I just want to ask about the tightening of sanctions on materials to do with WMD.  That means -- how do you do this?  You have to have inspectors on every plane going into Iraq?  You have bodies all along the border between
Jordan and Iraq?  What are you going to suggest to the allies in the region on how this can be accomplished?  How do you do it?

SECRETARY POWELL:  The regime that's in place now and the way in which UN members and others have been following that regime have done a pretty good job of keeping out the major arms systems going in.

Part of what I'm also going to be looking at - I'm glad you asked it, Jane, because it gives me the chance to make another point.    I'll be speaking to the Syrians and the Jordanians and to others in the region how we do a better job of tightening access into Iraq.  If we are able, through this consultative process, at some point in the future to all come into agreement
that we should modify the regime, then I think part of that modification effort should also include how do we make sure we know what we're doing, how do we tighten what actually goes in.

Now, the other issue that will almost certainly come up is how do you ultimately get out of this?  Under 1284 I believe he has an obligation -Saddam Hussein - to let inspectors back in and let the inspectors do their job.  I think that part of this regime should be put the burden on him, that he'll have to stay under this regime, whatever regime it is -- the current one or anything that's modified -- until the inspectors are allowed in to do their job.

Q:  One point that's been made by a number of people is that you're considering easing up on $3 billion worth of so-called dual-use goods that are on hold in the UN committee.   Many of these things are things like refrigerated trucks, which you can use for milk or you can use for biological weapons. Is this one of the areas you are going to be exploring, how to make this more flexible and less onerous?

SECRETARY POWELL:  We're looking at what's being held back.  We're looking at the 1051 lists.  We're looking at all of that.  We're talking to the Sanctions Committee.  All of that is part of our consultation process.  But I'm not far enough along to tell you what we will do with a particular number of holes or a particular amount.  It may stay the way it is.  That will really be derivative of what we ultimately decide to do with all of our
friends.

Q:  Mr. Secretary, what about getting rid of Saddam?  Is that a necessity?
There are many in Congress that think a regime change is the salvation.

SECRETARY POWELL: That is a sense in the Congress that came down to us in a law, and we are providing support to the Iraqi opposition, and we'll continue to provide that support and constantly look at our efforts.

But at the same time, recall that is separate and distinct from the UN. It doesn't relate to UN activities.

(###)

Source: U.S. State Department
http://www.state.gov/secretary

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