of State Colin Powell
October 15, 2001
SECRETARY POWELL: Let me start by just mentioning that I was pleased to receive
word during the course of the afternoon that Prime Minister Sharon in his cabinet
meeting has made some decisions with respect to some pullbacks and some opening
of areas and I hope this will be seen as a continuation of the process we have
been trying to get started. The violence has gone down as the President noted
and now the Israelis look like they are responding to that. So lets hope
we have some movement here, but thats not what we are on this trip for
so I will throw it open to your questions.
QUESTION: Can I just follow up on that? I guess that Arafat is supposed to be
talking to Prime Minister Blair today in London, what are your expectations
from that in light of Mr. Sharons --
SECRETARY POWELL: Well, I hope that he will. Im quite sure he will reaffirm
to Prime Minister Blair that he is making every effort, that Chairman Arafat
is making every effort to get the violence down. He had a test last week when
he had the disturbance in Gaza and he responded to that test by controlling
the violence. So I hope he will reaffirm his commitment to a cease-fire, to
the Mitchell plan and do everything within his power and authority to get the
violence down and keep it down to the lowest level. We would all like to see
zero and I am sure Prime Minister Blair will encourage him in that regard also
and give the United Kingdoms commitment once again to the Mitchell plan.
Im pleased at how coherent -- the European Union and Russia and the United
Nations and the United States -- all together how consistent we have been as
a team in pushing the Mitchell plan as the way forward.
QUESTION: Can we talk about this trip, first of all, what do you hope to achieve
on it and/or is the trip itself the message?
SECRETARY POWELL: I think to some extent the trip is the message. I wanted to
come over and meet the President and the Prime Minister in Pakistan and India
respectively, listen to them and get their assessment of the situation in the
region as a result of the events of 11 September. A lot of things have happened.
President Musharraf has made some very bold and courageous steps to come into
this coalition of nations that are determined to fight terrorism. He has been
very helpful in providing us support. The Indian Prime Minister, Mr. Vajpayee,
has done likewise and Im very pleased that these two nations are aligned
with us in this campaign against terrorism, aligned with the entire civilized
world. This gives me a chance to listen to them, hear their assessment, hear
their concerns, see how we can be helpful. Im sure in both countries we
will have the chance to talk about the future of Afghanistan. As youve
been hearing and as youve been reporting, however things turn out there,
we want to be in a position to help the people of Afghanistan to finally be
governed by a government that represents all the people of Afghanistan and not
just one party or one group. I want to hear the assessment of these two distinguished
leaders and their associates, their perspective on this and any advice they
have for us. There are a wide number of, a large number of bilateral issues
that I will be discussing with each country and its leaders.
QUESTION: Would you say -- theyre both in the coalition, they are both
SECRETARY POWELL: Both are supporting us --.
QUESTION: But theyre not with each other, they are at complete odds with
each other, how concerned are you that that might interfere over one major issue?
SECRETARY POWELL: The issue of Kashmir is always a contentious issue between
the two nations and Im sure I will have a chance to discuss the Kashmir
issue with both of them and be able to reaffirm that we believe that dialogue
on Kashmir is important. We believe in maintenance of the line of control, exercise
of restraint is also very, very important, the avoidance of provocative acts,
which could lead to a conflict of any kind. And I hope we will all have that
as a mutual goal in our discussions.
QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, since the events, the sanctions against both countries
have been lifted --
SECRETARY POWELL: Some have.
QUESTION: Are you in any way going to discuss that, for example, what the limits
might be particularly with respect to military sales to Pakistan. Is that on
SECRETARY POWELL: Im sure we will discuss it. Right now there are not
huge proposals or programs that Pakistan has expressed an interest in. Those
really arent for action because if they had some, it wouldnt be
for action right now because of other sanctions that are in place with respect
to proliferation activities. So Im more than happy to discuss anything
that the President would wish to discuss, but thats not any area I think
we would really have any results.
QUESTION: I guess what Im really asking is that do you have a sense that
military supply or the resumption of a military supply relationship in on their
SECRETARY POWELL: I will wait and see. I dont want to pre-judge what might
be on their agenda. Im sure it will come up. There are some things we
can look at, others we cannot. Im sure it will come up also in India.
We think it is useful to have military to military relations with both of these
countries, giving them the opportunity to train their officers, their military
leaders in our schools and for us to send some of our folks to their schools
as well. There are many forms of military to military cooperation, seminars,
defense groups between our side and their side, visits of our senior leaders.
I will be pursuing that and Im sure equipment may well come up during
the course of the conversation.
QUESTION: How concerned are you about the level of anti-American violence in
India and Pakistan right now, in particular, the viability --
SECRETARY POWELL: Well, if anything I think it's shown a great deal of viability.
Not only did he make -- President Musharraf -- make a bold decision right after
the 11th of September, but he has stuck to that decision and made even more
courageous decisions since then. So he certainly feels that the government is
secure. Even though they have the demonstrations and they get quite a bit of
attention, and I regret any loss of life and I regret that there are those who
do not understand the tragic nature of what happened the 11th of September and
demonstrated against our response to this crime, those demonstrations seen to
be fairly modest for a country the size of Pakistan. They seem to be not anything
that is beyond the ability of the government to manage, control, and to let
people have the opportunity to demonstrate.
QUESTION: How concerned are you about your personal security and the fact the
opposition and the Taliban have called for strikes tomorrow because of your
SECRETARY POWELL: I feel quite safe.
QUESTION: Secretary Powell, could you talk a little bit more about the government
you foresee in Afghanistan, how that will happen, how you foresee that happening,
and what you foresee the role of the Unites States to be.
SECRETARY POWELL: Hard to say what will happen. I mean, theres a lot of
pressure on the Taliban regime right now. They have isolated themselves. They
have found that none of the nations surrounding them will be supporting that
kind of regime in the future.
So they are under a lot of pressure and unless they do something to relieve
that pressure, I suspect its going to cause a change. What we are doing
is staying in touch with all the various elements in Afghan society, all of
the political elements, the King, the Northern Alliance and many others, staying
in touch with all of them and we will also be discussing this with our friends
at the United Nations. I spoke twice in the last three days with Kofi Annan
about the situation.
Ambassador Richard Haass, who is the Director of Policy Planning for the State
Department, will be my personal representative examining alternatives with the
UN and other nations directly, bilaterally with other nations. Richard will
be going up there early this week to talk to some of the UN officials. Mr. Brahimi,
who is the Secretary Generals personal representative in Pakistan, has
been traveling and hell be in Washington later this week. So were
going to stay in touch with all the parties. Were going to work with the
UN and others to start to develop some ideas as to what we might have to do
and want to do if there is a change.
Clearly, it will require the international community to get involved and clearly
the United Nations, it seems to me, will be playing a leading role. No one government
will be able to drive what happens in post-Taliban Afghanistan with respect
to the new political regime or the new government who might come in. I think
the UN will be playing a key role. We will also, in that same light -- to continue
your question -- were also talking to our friends in the European Union
and bilaterally with other countries as to what kind of development programs
might be required to help these people who have suffered so greatly over the
last 20 to 30 years.
QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, how much influence will Pakistan have over the future
shape of Afghanistan, over the government of Afghanistan, will they have a veto
over the form of government that takes place there?
SECRETARY POWELL: If we truly are interested in a post-Taliban Afghanistan that
represents all of the interests of the various factions and elements of Afghan
society, then I think we have to listen to them, and no one nation to have a
veto over them. So its those nations who are in the neighborhood, of course,
that perhaps share a more direct interest in the outcome as opposed to someone
further away. But I dont think anyone would suggest any longer that they
should have a veto over Afghanistan with respect to the future government.
QUESTION: Will you talk to President Musharraf about how you can get nuclear
SECRETARY POWELL: Im sure that we will have a chance to talk about all
the issues with respect to nuclear weapons: safety, testing, proliferation,
all those issues that are well known to you.
SECRETARY POWELL: I know it has been reported in the Pakistani press and the
Indian press, but I have not heard directly from the government yet. Im
sure I might well hear about it tomorrow.
QUESTION: Could you re-pose the question please?
SECRETARY POWELL: The question was, the REBITA trust, r-e-b-i-t-a, which we
have listed, a charitable trust set up some years ago by the Pakistani government
but it does have direct links to the terrorist organization Al Qaeda, linked
to Al Qaeda, not because of its other worthy charitable activities, we added
it to the OFAC list, the second tranche last week.
QUESTION: Are you assuming that the Taliban will not be any party to what happens
after Al Qaeda is wrapped up? Are there any conditions under which the Taliban
might be part of a national coalition?
SECRETARY POWELL: Im not assuming anything. We are staying in touch with
all of the parties and we will see what develops. The current Taliban leadership
to me seems to have destroyed its country effectively and would not have a serious
claim to be part of the new government. But there are many people within the
Taliban movement who will still be there. They are not all leaving the country,
so I hope we will be able, the international community will be able, to put
together something that will appeal to all of the Afghan people. I dont
think of the Taliban party as a political entity, it doesnt seem likely
to me that it would have any kind of (inaudible) in the last five years.
QUESTION: Theres been a sense that the military operations have been waiting
for the diplomacy of the Northern Alliance wouldnt move because the Pakistanis
are upset. Is it one of your objectives on this trip to advance the ability
of military operations to evolve?
SECRETARY POWELL: No, I dont think anything is hung up. I think that my
colleagues at the Pentagon and General Franks and other activities and agencies
have been unfolding the campaign plan in a very deliberate way. It started out
with a fairly high, fairly intense bombing campaign going after their defense
systems and it will change shape, as I think Mr. Rumsfeld said on many occasions,
it will change shape. Sometimes you see things, sometimes you wont. So
Im not aware of anything thats hung up as a result of anything the
Pakistanis have said to us. It's quite encouraging to see the change in thinking
in the Pakistani government in the last several weeks with respect to the Taliban.
Theyve come to the judgment so many of us have that the Taliban is no
longer part of the future of Afghanistan.
QUESTION: The Indians are unhappy, they felt that they came in early with a
blank check vis-à-vis the anti-terrorism coalition and there was hardly
any acknowledgement of this in Washington.
SECRETARY POWELL: Ive acknowledged it at every opportunity. I stood out
in front of the State Department with my colleague Foreign Minister Jaswat Singh
two weeks ago. I stood in front of the State Department and right there expressed
the appreciation of the United States Government for the speed with which they
came out and all of the support that they have offered. I will certainly make
that point directly with the Prime Minister in two days time and try to convey
in every way I can that we are deeply appreciative of the fact that the Indian
government came forward quickly in an unconditional manner, I think is the word
they used. We are very appreciative of that and maybe in the course of this
trip well find specific things to talk about put more meat to that offer.
QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, what happens if the Taliban implodes before this transitional
authority or whatever you want to call it is in place?
SECRETARY POWELL: I cant answer that question directly. I dont know
whether -- I cant be a fortuneteller -- I dont know whats
going to happen to the Taliban. I dont know how much resilience it has.
I dont know how long theyre going to be there. Obviously you cant
think about the transitional effort or something coming in until youre
pretty clear that that which is there is going out.
QUESTION: So youre not clear about that?
SECRETARY POWELL: I have no way of knowing. I have no way of seeing the future
at this point, getting ready for the future. Really what it is is contingency
-- what were doing really is contingency planning, getting ready for the
possibility that sometime in the near future there could be a need to respond
to the collapse of the government -- if one can call that evil regime a government.
QUESTION: But are you concerned that the military action might be outpacing
the political action.
SECRETARY POWELL: That the military action might be outpacing the diplomatic
action? Not at this point. As youve noticed in the last several days,
weve picked up the beat with what we may have to do in a post-Taliban
world and thats why Ive got my staff hard at work working with other
members of the Administration. Weve discussed this with the President
and he has given us the charge to begin consulting and to make plans.
QUESTION: Are there any elements in the Taliban who have made overtures to the
United States Government to talk about the possibility of being included in
a post-Taliban or the next phase including the Foreign Minister there are reports
SECRETARY POWELL: Not that Im aware of. He hasnt called me. Thats
all that counts. I have not. I have not.
QUESTION: Why would you describe Musharraf as bold and courageous? Why would
you use those words?
SECRETARY POWELL: Heres a President who saw this tragedy unfold and has
shown tolerance for the Taliban and who we called -- first we got in touch with
the intelligence director the day after September 11. On the 13th, I called
President Musharraf and I had a good conversation with him. I had talked to
him a couple of times before so we werent strangers. I said you need to
understand, Mr. President, and Im saying this to you in all friendship,
that we had a catastrophe here and we are going to respond to this catastrophe
and we need to know whether youre going to be on our side of it or not.
And it took him 24 hours to ponder that question, to consult with his leaders
and to make his own decision, a sovereign country making their own decision
-- not taking instructions from anybody. And he did that. He came back to us
and said we will work with you. We gave him some things wed like to see
them do and he agreed to all those things and considering where he lives, his
neighborhood, what his government had been doing in the recent past, I thought
it was a bold and courageous decision. He did it knowing there would be demonstrations.
He did it knowing there would be opposition. And I can think of no other way
to characterize that kind of political decision other than bold and it was courageous
in light of the circumstances.
QUESTION: Were you saying earlier that the US is going to resume military to
SECRETARY POWELL: No, what I said is I am willing to discuss whatever they want
to put on the agenda. If they want to talk about mil-to-mil, well talk
about it. It started out as a question of arms sales, thats still prohibited
by sanctions. It doesnt mean we cant talk about other kinds of --
QUESTION: Is that something were open to resuming? Military to military
SECRETARY POWELL: I have always been a supporter of military to military exchanges,
staff exchanges, commander exchanges. One of the finest programs weve
ever had in the foreign policy field is the IMET program (International Military
Education and Training) where we bring foreign students to our institutions.
I still remember fondly my days 34 years ago at the Command and General Staff
College and there were I think close to 100 foreign students in my class. About
six of them became Chiefs of Mission, Chiefs of Defense. I knew this major,
who was a major when I was a major. We essentially grew up together. That kind
of exposure early in their careers serves long-term American interests. The
year or two spent in the United States looking at our society, understanding
the nature of a military democratic society, I think this is a sound investment
in the future and we shouldnt let ups and downs in the relationships,
in the relations that come along from time to time destroy this long-term investment.
QUESTION: Is that something that requires congressional .
SECRETARY POWELL: Let me check. I think we are going to do something.
QUESTION: You know about this story that we had a chance to get Omar on the
first night? By Sy Hirsch in the New Yorker.
SECRETARY POWELL: Who said that? Sy Hirsch? No comment.
QUESTION: Thinking that Saddam was going to fall any day, and in the end he
didnt, are you ever concerned that the Taliban can hold on indefinitely
SECRETARY POWELL: Yes, thats a concern. We started going after the Al
Qaeda and I just cant see that far. Even though its been talked
about for years and years, we were never going to Baghdad. There was no plan
to go to Baghdad.
QUESTION: Yeah but the implicit goal was to bring it down.
SECRETARY POWELL: We hoped he would fall.
QUESTION: Yeah, but the same thing with the Taliban. You dont have a mandate.
You say youre not going.
SECRETARY POWELL: I cant see into the future unless Im the one doing
the future. In Iraq, I knew what I was doing -- kicking the army out of Kuwait.
But we never, notwithstanding all the speculation, the stories of the last ten
years, nobody every said to invade Baghdad.
QUESTION: Do you ever feel spooky about the similarities?
SECRETARY POWELL: No, I think they are quite different. I havent spent
a lot of time comparing the similarities.
QUESTION: No lessons from Iraq in dealing with this situation?
SECRETARY POWELL: Im sure you can always come up with lessons. I just
havent done it yet. Iraq is Iraq -- a wasted society ten years. Theyre
sad. Theyre contained. Theyre still fiddling with weapons of mass
QUESTION: Is Iraq next?
SECRETARY POWELL: No, were going from here to -- (laughter). The President
decided this a month ago and weve been following the Presidents
guidance ever since.
QUESTION: What did he decide?
SECRETARY POWELL: His decision was that in this campaign, we are focusing in
the first instance on Al Qaeda as it exists throughout the world, especially
its headquarters in Afghanistan headed by Osama bin Laden, but also (inaudible)
the same time that it is terrorism around the world that we are after. Thats
why we put the RIRA on the list of terrorist organizations, the FARC, the ELN,
JPN most recently. And he has said that those who haven will pay the consequences
of being havens.