of State Colin Powell
Interview with Paula Zahn on CNN
October 10, 2001
7:11 A.M. EDT
QUESTION: The Secretary of State is taking time out from his very busy schedule
to join us this morning. Welcome, sir. Good to have you with us.
SECRETARY POWELL: Thank you. Good morning, Paula.
QUESTION: Sir, let's talk a little bit about the concern the Administration
has over this latest taped statement from the al-Qaida network. Do you believe
it has a coded message in it?
SECRETARY POWELL: Well, I don't know. That's why analysts are looking at it.
But I think it is responsible on the part of CNN to shade that a little bit,
so we don't have it coming full force at us, and with the potential of perhaps
conveying some kind of message. So I congratulate CNN for taking that step.
QUESTION: On its surface, though, are you able to tell us what concerns you
SECRETARY POWELL: What concerns me the most is that there is still this terrorist
organization called al-Qaida that is at work but, at the same time, I am very,
very satisfied that the campaign President Bush has put together and is leading,
that has been joined by so many nations around the world, so many international
organizations, is correctly aimed at the heart of al-Qaida, to make sure we
rip this network up, not only in Afghanistan but wherever it is located around
the world, and that we get to the leader of this organization, Usama bin Laden.
But remember, it is also a campaign against all forms of terrorism. And that,
I think, is what has been especially useful in pulling the whole world together,
this recognition that terrorism is something we all have to attack wherever
it occurs throughout the world.
QUESTION: And, Mr. Secretary, as you have gotten through the first phase of
this campaign, a letter was sent to the UN Security Council reserving the right
to strike against other countries in the war on terrorism. And yesterday, Senator
John McCain was on the air here, where he says it is a possibility the US and
its allies could be striking Iran, Iraq, Syria and Sudan among other nations.
Can you comment on that this morning?
SECRETARY POWELL: I am not going to speculate on what might happen in the future.
I don't think that would be useful. The President has clearly said that the
first focus of this campaign is on al-Qaida and Usama bin Laden in Afghanistan
and in the other places where al-Qaida is located throughout the world. But
the President has reserved the right to follow terrorism to its sources. And
to those nations that harbor or provide haven to terrorists, they do so at their
risk. And that is where we have placed our policy, and I think it is on a sound
foundation. We will see what comes in the future.
With respect to that particular sentence in the letter that we presented to
the UN, it is merely a statement of policy that has been there from the very
beginning. The President reserves the right to examine what else might be necessary
to go after worldwide terrorism.
QUESTION: So if you believe the letter was routine, did you know that letter
was going out to the UN?
SECRETARY POWELL: I was aware that we were providing a letter to the United
Nations consistent with our responsibilities to do so under Article 51.
QUESTION: And are any other nations in the coalition concerned about what is
stated in this letter?
SECRETARY POWELL: Some nations were not expecting that particular sentence,
but it is not a source of any friction or problem with the members of the coalition.
QUESTION: So are there any weak links in the coalition this morning?
SECRETARY POWELL: No. None. No weak links. I think the coalition is in good
shape. People keep saying it is going to fracture, it's going to come apart,
it's going to get weaker. But, in fact, it has been getting stronger. More and
more people recognize that this is a threat not just against the United States
but against all civilized nations. And I am very pleased that in the four weeks
we have been working on this, the coalition has come together with expressions
Some nations can only give expressions of support. Others want to commit their
armed forces to the military part of the campaign. All are contributing with
respect to going after financial institutions that provide access to funds for
terrorists, and so many are contributing to intelligence sharing. So every member
of the coalition has a role to play. Sometimes, it is a very active role, including
military contributions. Other times, it is support within international bodies.
QUESTION: Mr. Boucher was hard pressed at a news conference yesterday to come
up with an example of support that has been given the United States from Arab
or Muslim nations since these military attacks. Can you name some countries
this morning, which have publicly stated or at least privately stated to you
their support for this ongoing campaign?
SECRETARY POWELL: President Hosni Mubarak stated his support for it yesterday,
and support is manifested in many ways. Many of the countries in the region
have provided us over-flight, have provided us access to facilities and bases.
So I think that's very, very important and that is certainly a sign of their
QUESTION: You will be traveling to India and Pakistan next week, and some Pakistani
officials have expressed some concern about a long campaign. What kinds of reassurances
does Pakistan need right now to ensure the stability of its government?
SECRETARY POWELL: I think the government is quite stable. President Musharraf
made a very bold and courageous decision to join the coalition and to work against
terrorism. He has paid something of a political price. There are demonstrations
in Pakistan. But those demonstrations are quite manageable and don't reflect
what's happening throughout the country. And I look forward to meeting with
him next week and reassuring him of not only the support of the United States,
but the support of the international community to the courageous steps that
he has taken and the path that Pakistan has put itself on.
And I also look forward to visiting India where I will have a chance to speak
to the Indian leadership, to Prime Minister Vajpayee, about the important role
that India is playing in the coalition as well.
QUESTION: Coming back to Pakistan for a moment, President Musharraf indicated
earlier this week that he was told this campaign would have a limited time span.
Is that the case?
SECRETARY POWELL: I don't know of such a conversation. I am sure he hopes it
has a limited time frame; everybody does. But it's not how long it is in time
but whether it accomplishes the mission we have for it. And the mission is to
do everything we can to destroy al-Qaida bases, to make sure that Taliban military
does not interfere with any of our operations, and to do the job that we are
intending to do, which is to rip up the al-Qaida network.
So it would be the wish of anyone to see it be a short campaign. But the more
important point is that it will be an effective campaign that will do the job
that is intended.
QUESTION: I know you've got to be careful about what you tell me now, but can
you share anything that you might be talking to the Indian Government about
next week in terms of the dispute over Kashmir?
SECRETARY POWELL: I am sure Kashmir will be a subject of discussion. But I think
I would prefer to have those discussions with the leaders of India and Pakistan
first. And then I'm sure I will have an opportunity to report on the results
of that discussion, those discussions.
QUESTION: We'll hold you to that and bring you back, maybe sometime next week.