of State Colin Powell
Egyptian Minister of Foreign Affairs Ahmed Maher
September 26, 2001
SECRETARY POWELL: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. It has been my pleasure
to host my dear friend and good colleague, the Foreign Minister of Egypt, Minister
Maher. We have had a good conversation, reviewing the situation in the Middle
East, in light of the developments of today, with a successful meeting between
Minister Shimon Peres and Chairman Arafat. And we will both be working closely
together to assist the Palestinians and the Israelis to move forward from this
And we have also had a good discussion of the events of September 11th , and
what we have been doing together since then. I expressed my appreciation to
the Minister and, through him, to President Mubarak for the strong words of
support and for the condolences we have received from the Egyptian people and
I, in turn, extended my regrets to the families of the Egyptians who were lost
in the World Trade Center.
And I also expressed my appreciation for the commitment that Egypt has made
to working with us as we move forward to deal with the scourge of terrorism.
Egypt, as all of us know, is really ahead of us on this issue. They have had
to deal with acts of terrorism in recent years in the course of their history.
And we have much to learn from them and there is much we can do together.
So I welcome my colleague and I look forward to continued cooperation with him,
his associates, and with the Egyptian Government as we move forward on this
FOREIGN MINISTER MAHER: Thank you, Mr. Secretary. It is always a pleasure to
meet with you, even in difficult circumstances. Because the message I brought
was a message of reiterating our condolences and reiterating our solidarity
-- the solidarity of the Egyptian people, President and Government with the
United States -- and our determination to work together in the fight against
As the Secretary said, we have suffered from terrorism, and it is only normal
that we should join any attempt to get rid of this scourge from which the world
has suffered and continues to suffer.
We are cooperating with the United States in many ways and we have discussed
this matter. We have discussed our opinions and we exchange ideas about the
best way to do that. We believe that the United States, as the government of
a country that believes in law and justice, will act on the basis of a case
-- a good case -- and I am sure they have a good case -- against the culprits
who committed this horrible crime of September 11th.
We also talked about the necessity of establishing an international consensus
around this fight, which is manifold and will take a long time. I explained
our ideas about the international conference, which is not a substitute for
the necessity to punish the culprits.
We also discussed the Middle East question and the role that the Secretary,
personally, and the United States Government have played in bringing together
the meeting that took place this morning between Chairman Yasser Arafat and
Shimon Peres, which was a promising meeting and development. And we both are
determined to continue to help both parties to reach the stage where they can
resume, after the implementation of the Tenet and Mitchell recommendations,
they can resume negotiations on the final status negotiations.
I come out of this meeting reassured, and our friendship, as I can report to
you, is as strong today as it has always been. Thank you very much.
QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, there are many people who are arguing now, in the Pentagon
or even on the Capitol, to have more targets, and specifically for a new military
campaign in the Middle East and other countries in the world. What do you think
SECRETARY POWELL: Well, I don't know about those reports. But what we are focusing
on is terrorism and going after terrorists, not only those who are responsible
for this event on the 11th of September, but who are responsible for other terrorist
activities of a global reach.
We are not using this as a way to punish nations indiscriminately. I can assure
you that President Bush sees this as a long-term campaign that he will pursue
with patience and perseverance, in close consultation with our friends and allies.
QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, with the new development in Gaza, would you like to
comment on this new security zone in the West Bank?
SECRETARY POWELL: We are in discussions with our Israeli colleagues about their
ideas for security. And I think with the progress that we have seen in today's
meeting and knowing that other meetings are coming up, that all issues in contention
such as this are available to be put on the table as these meetings go forward.
And we will be following that progress and taking a more active role as the
meetings begin to one follow the other.
QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, the President went to the CIA today and forcefully
defended the job that George Tenet has been doing. Do you feel that you are
getting the information that you need from him to do your job?
And, Mr. Minister, could you comment on how Mr. Tenet is viewed in Egypt and
the Middle East?
SECRETARY POWELL: From my standpoint, George Tenet is doing an absolutely outstanding
job. I consider him not only a trusted friend, but a great working colleague.
He is providing to the State Department all that I would expect from the CIA.
We have excellent relations between the CIA and the INR Bureau that does intelligence
here in the State Department. And I certainly share the President's judgment
that Director Tenet is doing a terrific job.
FOREIGN MINISTER MAHER: The only comment I would make about your question is
to tell you that George Tenet has many friends in my country.
QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, we have heard this administration say time and again
it is not into nation building in Afghanistan. But, clearly, if the Taliban
continues to stand in the way of bin Laden and the terrorist network, is the
US Government going to remove the Taliban or encourage other groups within Afghanistan
to go after the Taliban? If so, who fills the void?
SECRETARY POWELL: As our campaign unfolds, you will see we are going after the
al-Qaida network, we are going after Usama bin Laden. We are going to do it
in a way that is mindful of the suffering that is currently being inflicted
upon the Afghan people. And, hopefully, a better day is ahead for the Afghan
But, right now, I am not prepared to say, nor is the United States Government
prepared to say, how they might be governed in the future or what might be the
fate of the Taliban regime. As the President has said in his speech and as we
have said repeatedly, those who provide a haven or harbor this kind of terrorist
organization must be prepared to pay consequences for their actions.