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Secretary of State Colin Powell
Turkish Foreign Minister Ismail Cem
Washington, D.C.
September 27, 2001

SECRETARY POWELL: Well, good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. It's been my pleasure to meet once again with my colleague from Turkey, Foreign Minister Ismail Cem. We have met many times over the last eight months, and I think that's a sign of the strength of our personal relationship, as well as the relationship between our two countries.

On this occasion, I was pleased to express to the Minister our deepest appreciation for the messages of condolence we received from the Turkish Government and the Turkish people over the events of 11 September, and expressed my condolences to him for the lives of Turks or Turkish-Americans who were lost at the World Trade Center. We both recognize it is a World Trade Center, and so many countries lost citizens in that terrible tragedy.

I was also pleased to express my appreciation to the Minister for the other support they have provided to us in this time of crisis -- over-flight support, and the support they have given to us in the United Nations and within NATO councils.

We do have a strong relationship with Turkey, and I know that in the days ahead, as our campaign against terrorism unfolds, we will be able to count on the support and active assistance of our Turkish friends.

So, Mr. Minister, it's a great pleasure to have you here again.

FOREIGN MINISTER CEM: Thank you, Mr. Secretary. Well, first of all, I want to say that the Turkish people feels deep in her heart the suffering of the American people. And just to summarize all our talks, we are together with the United States in this fight against terrorists.

Today, we had the opportunity of comparing our analyses, our views, and we tried to look into some areas of mutual interests or some particularities which will bear an effect on the composition and on the effectiveness of the coalition against terror. And I am very glad to see that the American Government is doing the utmost, first, to have a strong, effective coalition, and second, to bring this fight against terrorists to its end.

And, of course, terrorism does not have a religion. This is complete nonsense to call one or other of terrorist organizations, of referring to Muslims or to Islamic terrorism, or to Jewish terrorism or to Christian terrorists. That's one aspect which is of importance, of relevance. The second one is that terrorism does not have a geography. When we talk about terrorism and the bad that they do to people, it's not only that particular country, that particular region, but terrorism is present with its organizations, with its tools and means in Africa, in Asia, in Europe as well. And we should, in our fight against terrorism, we should always see that it's a global problem with which we have to deal in all geographies, in all continents, without any discrimination and with total solidarity.

I want to thank my American counterpart and the American people in this courageous fight that they are initiating against terrorists, because we have suffered a lot because of terrorism, and we know how valuable the American leadership in this field is for all humanity.

And I thank you, again, Colin, for this meeting.

SECRETARY POWELL: Thank you.

QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, as you all well know, with events in the Middle East and elsewhere, even though the United States is fully engaged in its war against terrorism, that other areas of US policy must go on. And what can you say to those that suggest that how US foreign policy is dictated and perhaps changed in the future will not suffer because of the US war against terrorism?

And, for Mr. Foreign Minister, as your country is deeply engaged in the Mid-East as well, how do you see the United States' engagement in the Middle East crisis and its ability to help mediate this conflict as essential to the US war on terrorism and maintaining a coalition of Muslim states and other states?

Thank you.

SECRETARY POWELL: Well, we don't have the luxury of only focusing on one problem. At the same time that we're mounting this campaign against terrorism, we're preparing for the President's trip to Asia next month, the APEC Conference; we're working with our NATO allies, our friends in the European Union in a variety of trade and other issues. As you know, we're deeply engaged in the Middle East. We continue to work on HIV/AIDS programs in Africa.

And so even though terrorism is a priority for us right now, I can assure you that we are able to cover all the other bases and recognize that the United States has global responsibilities, and a priority for a particular period of time on one subject does not mean we can ignore all the others. So I can assure you, we're hard at work across the entire spectrum of interests and issues that we have.

FOREIGN MINISTER CEM: Well, I have always advocated that US presence and involvement in the peace process is the decisive factor, and no other country can play such a role. And I am very much -- I am very content that, thanks to the insistence of my colleague, Colin Powell, this meeting between Shimon Peres and Arafat took place. I think it is essential for the composition and effectiveness of this coalition that we are trying to build up.

In fact, I was in Palestine and Israel three days ago and tried to speak with both parties, insisting for them to get together, to consolidate this declaration of cease-fire and to build upon that cease-fire a quest for talks, for negotiations and for peace. I think the US has a lot to do -- a lot to contribute to this process, and I am very happy that this is taking place.

QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, what is your reaction to the overture to Jesse Jackson that he should perhaps come to Afghanistan?

SECRETARY POWELL: I spoke to Reverend Jackson last night and again this morning, and he advised us that he had received this message from Taliban leadership. I said to Reverend Jackson last night, and then confirmed again this morning, that our position is rather clear as laid out by the President in his speech last week, and that is the Taliban regime knows what it must do and should do with respect to the presence of al-Qaida and Usama bin Laden, if in Afghanistan, and also with respect to the bases and facilities in Afghanistan. And, as the President said, this is not an issue for negotiation.

So Reverend Jackson is fully aware of our position and the strength of our position, and whether he does or does not accept an invitation -- whether one has been offered or not, and there seems to be some confusion about that -- is up to Reverend Jackson. But we have nothing to negotiate. They know what our position is.

QUESTION: You don't have any objections to him going?

SECRETARY POWELL: He is free to travel. I don't know what purpose would be served right now, since the position of the United States and the international community is quite clear. And so it's a matter for he and whoever he was speaking to over there to decide.

QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, just a few days ago the Taliban said they couldn't find Usama bin Laden; yet today, we hear that the message of the clerics has been passed on to him, that they would appreciate him leaving the country.

How credible do you find this now, and do you think that this is an attempt --

SECRETARY POWELL: How credible do I find which report?

QUESTION: Either.

SECRETARY POWELL: I can't -- I don't know how to handicap Taliban reports. I'm quite sure that whether they had found him or hadn't found him, knew where he was or didn't know where he was, he got the message.

QUESTION: Sir, do you think that this is an attempt by some in the Taliban to gain some sympathy from the United States to show that they are trying to take care of this?

SECRETARY POWELL: I don't want to speculate on what their motivations might be. What they ought to be motivated to do is to comply with what the President put on the table last Thursday night in clear, certain terms: to turn over Usama bin Laden, his top lieutenants; root out the al-Qaida network within Afghanistan; destroy the bases and let us have access to see that those bases have been destroyed.

Thank you.

QUESTION: Thank you.

END