of State Colin Powell
Italian Foreign Minister Renato Ruggiero
September 25, 2001
SECRETARY POWELL: Well, good evening, ladies and gentlemen. It's a great pleasure
to have had the opportunity to visit with my colleague, Foreign Minister Ruggiero
of Italy. He and I have formed a very strong relationship in the few months
we have been working together. We talk several times a week on the phone, and
it was a pleasure to have an opportunity for a little more in-depth discussion
I took the opportunity to thank the Minister, and in turn to thank Prime Minister
Berlusconi and the Italian people for all the solid support they have provided
to us in this time of crisis, and to extend my sympathy to those Italians and
Italian-Americans who were lost in the World Trade Center.
We had a good exchange of views on how to move forward as an alliance, how to
move forward as nations concerned about terrorism, and how to coordinate our
efforts. And I look forward to staying in regular touch with the Minister in
the days ahead.
So Renato, thank you for being here, and I invite you to say a word or two.
And then the Minister will take questions, because I have to be at another meeting
in about one minute.
FOREIGN MINISTER RUGGIERO: Thank you very much, Colin.
Well, as the Secretary of State said, we have a very good personal relation,
and we had a very good meeting today. I came here to reiterate the strong support
of the Italian people and the Italian Government for the American people and
the Administration for the tragic events, but also to say that our solidarity
is not just the solidarity of words or feelings, but that we are ready to participate
to every action that will be considered necessary by the North Atlantic Council,
including military operation in order to fight international terrorists according
to Article V of the NATO.
And we have expressed also in doing this position and explaining this position,
the support of the great majority of the Italian political forces to the American
people, the Administration and to the wing of the Italian Government to participate
to the NATO alliance with every possible action.
SECRETARY POWELL: Thank you, Renato, and I'll see you again soon.
FOREIGN MINISTER RUGGIERO: Thank you.
There are questions that you can ask?
QUESTION: Mr. Foreign Minister, exactly what -- when you say that Italy is prepared
to assist in any military operation, exactly what has Italy offered the United
States? What is it prepared to do exactly?
FOREIGN MINISTER RUGGIERO: Well, I mean, we are ready to offer to participate
to every action, including military operation, means that -- I mean, when the
moment will come, when there will be a decision to go into action, then we will
see what is needed at that moment.
And the American administration knows that among the NATO allies, Italy is a
country that is ready to go along, I mean, to what has been considered necessary
by the North Atlantic Council. So we will see what is necessary. We cannot say
now what it will be necessary. But we do not exclude anything.
QUESTION: Does that mean that you're ready to commit troops if necessary?
FOREIGN MINISTER RUGGIERO: Oh, yes. We are ready to commit everything, if they
QUESTION: Mr. Foreign Minister, could you say how long you think the European
Union countries would take to pass the swath of financial, security legislation
that is called for in the recent EU statements over the weekend? What kind of
time frame are we talking about?
FOREIGN MINISTER RUGGIERO: Well, I cannot answer to your question because really
we have not discussed the time framework. But what I can tell you, that there
is a strong will to go into that direction and certainly we will do all we can
to do as quickly as possible.
One thing, one message that was very clear from my conversation here in Washington,
is that the challenge we face needs a complex answer, not just a strategy based
on military action, but an answer based on political measures, on financial
measures, on legal measures, on economic measures. So we need a complex answer.
And so we will do all we can to give the financial aspects the priority that
those actions deserve.
QUESTION: (In Italian.)
FOREIGN MINISTER RUGGIERO: Well, what I can tell you is I mean in the conversation
I had up to now, I mean, the message that I received is that there is not yet
any clear idea of when and how military operation will be made.
QUESTION: Mr. Minister, is Italy's support -- would there still be support from
Italy if this were a broad campaign to potentially include so-called state sponsors
of terrorism like Iraq?
FOREIGN MINISTER RUGGIERO: No doubt. I mean, I do not want to mention one state
or another, because no one has mentioned one state or another. But certainly
our support will be a support for a long period of time, because we know that
this is not a challenge that can be resolved in few weeks or in few months.
And certainly, as it was even said by the General Assembly and by the resolution
of the Security Council of September 12, I mean the action has to involve not
only the terrorists and not only those who have backed terrorists, but also
the states that have been involved in backing the terrorists. So from this point
of view, there will be no limitations.
QUESTION: Mr. Minister, can you say whether your country has found any bank
accounts that have been frozen, any accounts that are linked to any of these
FOREIGN MINISTER RUGGIERO: As far as I know, I do not. I cannot give an answer.
I mean, I do not know. It is possible, but I do not know.