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Secretary Powell Holding Meetings with Representatives of European Union, Russia and the United Nations

Aired April 10, 2002 - 05:01   ET


CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: And on the eve of Powell's arrival there, as I've said, there is new violence in Israel.

CNN's Jerrold Kessel joins us live from Jerusalem with more on today's bus explosion -- Jerrold.


And, indeed, a major explosion just outside the port city of Haifa. The commuter bus had just pulled off from a stop there picking up passengers when the blast occurred. According to a motorist in a car a couple back, this was morning rush hour just after 7:15 outside that busy port city. And the motorist just two back, two cars back, he reported, from the bus, said it was so deafening that it actually lifted the bus, the vehicle, off the ground, up in the air, he said a meter or two, several feet up into the air before it came crashing down again.

The latest casualty toll has been put at at least eight killed and 14 wounded, three of them in serious condition. And the reason they're not being exact is, they say, quite a gruesome scene there, that it's difficult to ascertain exactly how many bodies there are as some of the other people, eyewitnesses, were saying body parts were flying in every which direction on that busy highway just outside of Haifa.

Now, the Israelis are, as has been their wont, accusing Yasser Arafat by saying he has not come out and distanced himself, condemned terror, as had been demanded of him by President Bush and his, as he raised the new U.S. initiative at the end of last week. He has still not done that, said the Israelis.

But the Palestinians are angrily responding to that and pointing out that Yasser Arafat has been held in isolation by the Israelis as they have continued their military sweep in the West Bank in response, said it was mounted after that series of suicide bombings before this.

But one of the leading radical Islamic groups, Hamas, has claimed responsibly for this morning's bombing.


ISMAIL ABU-SHANAB, HAMAS SPOKESMAN: Israelis will face the same fate as Palestinians. We will not surrender. We will continue our resistance until Sharon fails.


KESSEL: That Israeli military sweep continuing this morning. The main focus continuing to be the Jenin refugee camp. That refugee camp, some 15,000 people had been resident there when the Israelis began their operation. They call it the real focus of Palestinian terror. They point out that dozens of suicide bombers have come out of that refugee camp and the fierce battles have gone on there for the last five days and have resulted in 23 Israeli confirms, soldiers confirmed dead. The Palestinians put the casualty figure at at least, around 150, at least 150 killed on their side. The Israeli Army estimates that may be an accurate figure of around 150, but difficult for exact count here because Palestinian ambulances and relief workers have not been allowed to reach many of the bodies in that refugee camp, where the fighting does continue.

The difference between the two sides is the Israelis say there are mainly gunmen who have been killed. Palestinians say mainly civilians. And while this continuing Israeli offensive goes on, the row continues with the United States of when it should be wound up and another row of whether the United States, specifically Secretary of State Colin Powell, should meet with Yasser Arafat. He says he will. Ariel Sharon, Israel's prime minister, has reportedly said that would be a tragic mistake -- Carol.

COSTELLO: And, as you know, Jerrold, Colin Powell is in Spain right now talking, and we want to get to that right now.

Thank you for that report live from Jerusalem.

Secretary of State Colin Powell's search for peace has brought him to Madrid, Spain. He's now holding meetings with representatives of the European Union, Russia and the United Nations. Powell is looking for help from those officials in creating a Palestinian state next to Israel. He's just held a news conference and let's listen in and hear what he has to say.

COLIN POWELL, SECRETARY OF STATE: Well, I'm hoping for success in my mission so it would be premature and rather hypothetical to speak about what other actions the United States might take, either alone or in coordination with our partners. That is not something we are considering right now within the U.S. government.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'll be very brief. Here we are.

QUESTION: Secretary Powell and other members, you've spoken a lot about the political track, about advancing political talks. Can you be a little bit more concrete? Is, do you have any ideas for some sort of political process, another Madrid conference, some sort of forum where you can bring together these leaders, something you can hold out in particular to the Palestinians to show them why they should cease-fire now?

POWELL: We are exploring different ideas and ways this might happen. It would be premature to announce any here this morning. But let me make the point that in the Mitchell Plan, and I'm pleased to be standing next to one of the authors of the Mitchell Plan, Javier Solana, its whole purpose was to get to a political discussion and negotiations. And we have been coming back from that purpose by putting in place first the need for security measures, cease-fires and the like.

What I have been saying in recent days is that we need to accelerate the political process closer to the cease-fire and the security apparatus that might be put in place, because I think the Palestinian people of the world, the Israeli people, should be anxious to get to a dialogue that will result in a negotiating process that will lead to a solution to this crisis.

I think we are all in agreement and I think the world is in agreement that it will not be a solution that will be produced by terror or that will be produced by a response to terror. This is not going to get us there. What will get us there are political discussions, and the sooner we can get to them the better.

Now, I have to speak to the parties in the region at greater length to see how they view this matter and to see how we can go forward. And in due course I am sure that we will let the whole world know what we believe is the proper way to go forward.

QUESTION: A question for Mr. Powell and Mr. Annan. Very clearly, acts of resistance in the occupied territories, not in Israeli, against the soldiers of occupation, not against Israeli civilians, is it terrorism for you and for you?

POWELL: What I would say right now is that violence of whatever form, whether one would call it an act of terrorism or an act of resistance, at this point is counterproductive. It does not lead to the vision that the Palestinian people have of a state where they can live side by side in peace with Israel. What we have to see now is an end to the violence. With whatever title you want to give to that violence, it's violence nonetheless, and it is totally destabilizing the region and it is destroying that vision.

And so our call today is for violence to end and response to violence to end, a withdrawal from the current incursions that the Israeli government is conducting as a way of moving forward with all of us united, the Palestinian people, the international community, the Israeli people all committed to a vision of two states, a Jewish state called Israel, a Palestinian state called Palestine, living behind secure, recognized borders in peace with one another.

And the violence that we are now seeing detracts from that vision, whatever title one puts on it.

QUESTION: May I follow up?


QUESTION: May I follow up?



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is a question for Minister Ivanov or for Mr. Solana? What's your idea of the chance to use embargo from a Union European over Israeli, Mr. Ivanoff? And for Mr. Solana, do you agree that I think some of the European leaders about in Europe two teaming in this phase over the crisis? Thank you.

IGOR IVANOV, RUSSIAN FOREIGN MINISTER: Well, I think that the answer has been given by my colleague, Mr. Powell to this question. Right now our main objective is really stemming from the joint statement is to stop violence, to achieve this end simultaneously together with this to start the political process of settlement (UNINTELLIGIBLE). We will do everything to make this mission work, this particular mission work, and in the current stage, we consider Mr. Powell's mission important and we all support it. Indeed, we have coordinated and agreed to the joint statement which, in fact, provides the secretary of state of the United States with a wide mandate to act on behalf of the international community in the interests of the settlement of the situation in this explosive region.

The issues of sanctions and other measures were not discussed today by us, but as was stressed we will maintain constant contact. We are interested in making the secretary of state's mission a success and will do our best to make sure that this great mission brings results. This is to the (UNINTELLIGIBLE) states of the region and to the international community, speaking of, I think it's premature to speak about any further success.

JAVIER SOLANA, EUROPEAN UNION: No, I don't agree. I think that there may be people that think that we will, Europe could have gone further. But I do think that we have done what we should in order to bring peace to a place which is very close to the interests and to the values of Europe. Thank you.

QUESTION: Mr. Annan, please. The secretary of state told us yesterday...

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Microphone, please.

QUESTION: ... he's making an effort, the U.S., to have Syria and Iran do what they could to restrain militia, to restrain activists, terrorists, pick your word. How do you feel about Syria's behavior? Is this something that you would support, that Syria and Iran should curb, try, do what they can to curb, particularly in Lebanon?

KOFI ANNAN, U.N. SECRETARY- GENERAL: No. I have in recent days and weeks been in touch with the leaders in the region, particularly with regards to the blue line which, as you know, was traced by the U.N. And I have spoken to President Assad, Prime Minister Hariri and President Lahoud and with Foreign Minister Peres about doing everything possible to keep the border quiet because no one wants to open a second front. And the leaders have given me the assurance that they are going to do whatever they can to respect the blue line. And the Security Council has itself indicted that these violations must cease.

I have not spoken to Iran recently on this specific issue, but we've had a chance to talk in the past. Thank you.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes? The last question, please?

QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, you talked several times about the destruction, the physical destruction of the Palestinian Authority. Can I ask both you and General Anan, what Palestinian institutions do you think...

ANNAN: We have only one general in the room. Only one general.

QUESTION: What Palestinian institutions do you believe need to be rebuilt, how soon and by whom?

ANNAN: Yes, that's a good question.

POWELL: This was a subject of discussion this morning. It's also a subject I discussed with the other Arab leaders I met in the course of the week. If we are going to move forward, there will have to be an authority to work with. There will have to be the tools of governance. There will have to be administrative organizations rebuilt that have been damaged or destroyed in recent months. There will have to be some sort of security apparatus that can control the populations and work with the Israelis.

I mean the whole purpose of the security arrangement were for the two sides to work with each other, exchange intelligence, exchange information and develop confidence between the two sides that they would act on such information to keep terrorist acts from happening and to control the violence.

And I have spoken to my colleagues here this morning and the other Arab leaders about the need for us all, all of us to be ready as we move forward to make the necessary investments of time, of money, of facilities, of resources, to reconstitute that part of the Palestinian Authority that has been damaged and destroyed in recent months. That's an essential predicate in order to move forward.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you very much.

COSTELLO: And as we can see, this conference is now wrapping up, this press conference. Mr. Powell, just to reiterate, says the United States is not considering sanctions against Israel, but the European Union is. On other matters, Powell repeated U.S. support for cease- fire monitors in the Middle East, and he says the monitors could include State Department or other government officials. Mr. Powell also says he has not set a departure date from the Middle East, adding he is prepared to stay for quite some time.


European Union, Russia and the United Nations>



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