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CNN BREAKING NEWS

Powell, Annan Address Reporters

Aired November 12, 2002 - 17:29   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN Breaking News.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Secretary of State Colin Powell and Kofi Annan speaking to reporters.

COLIN POWELL, SECRETARY OF STATE: Kofi Annan here to the State Department. As usual, we've had a very good discussion of all the issues of the day. The Secretary-General was in town to receive an award from the U.N. association here, a well deserved award for his many contributions to peace and security around the world.

Today in our conversations, we spoke about the situation with respect to Iraq and I expressed my thanks to the Secretary-General for all the great work he did in bringing about the vote last Friday on U.N. Resolution 1441. I think it was a great cooperative and collaborative effort and he and I stayed closely in touch on an almost daily basis for the last two months.

I also extended my congratulations to the Secretary-General on the new initiative that he has put forward with respect to Cyprus, and I think it's an important initiative and I hope that both sides will study the initiative carefully. The initial response from both the Greek and Turkish and all parties in this difficult situation has been I think encouraging.

There are many difficulties ahead, but I think it's important that both sides take this opportunity with this new initiative to reach a solution to this most vexing of problems. We covered all the other issues that are on our plate to include the Middle East and a number of African issues, but rather than belabor each one, one at a time, let me just say it's once again a pleasure to have the Secretary-General here and invite him to say a word or two.

KOFI ANNAN, U.N. SECRETARY-GENERAL: Thank you very much. Good evening ladies and gentlemen. As the Secretary of State has said, we have had very good discussions and I would also want to congratulate him for the way he managed the process in the Security Council and also with capitols and I don't think it would have been possible without the effort and the leadership he provided.

Yes, we do have the resolution but it is a beginning. It is a beginning. We are looking forward to receiving a letter from the Iraqis by the 15th and then we will move on from there. Mr. Blix and the inspectors are ready to go, and as you know, they will be there. They will leave on the 18th of November and begin their work actively and I can assure you they are determined to do a good, professional job. On the other issues that we discussed, which range from African issues, conflicts in Africa to the Cyprus issue and other issues in Europe, I'm very grateful for the support we are getting from the government and the way I'm working with the Secretary of State. I think we'll take your questions.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Have you discussed the Cyprus issue, to both of you?

POWELL: Did we...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: To what extent? What did you discuss?

POWELL: We discussed it quite extensively. We haven't -- I haven't yet studied the initiative, some 130 pages and we'll study it very carefully but I don't want to get into any detailed comments on it now. It's more important for the sides to examine it carefully and enter into this discussion in the spirit of finding not problems but finding ways of moving forward, and finding a solution.

ANNAN: And I just spoke with both leaders yesterday, Mr. Claritus (ph) and Mr. Dentach (ph) and I appealed to them to take time to study the document, not to give me any quick reactions but come to me within a week. And once I receive their reactions, we will make a judgment how we carry the process forward.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. Secretary, can I...

POWELL: I'll be right there.

QUESTION: What's your assessment of the new Osama bin Laden tape? Are there State Department analysts working on that right now? And what do you know so far? And what are the implications?

POWELL: I really have nothing to say. We just heard it a short time ago, so I'm not prepared to comment on it. I'm sure it will be analyzed to determine its authenticity. But I have no reaction to it at this time.

QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, you've used the phrase "red line" as you negotiated a resolution. Is Friday a red line day and if it is, how so?

POWELL: Well, the resolution went into effect last Friday when it was passed by the Security Council. It is now binding. It is now in international law. Iraq is required to comply with that resolution. We put into that resolution this seven-day acknowledgement requirement to get an early indication from Iraq that they were going to cooperate this time and not try to frustrate the will of the international community. So we will see what they do this Friday and I'm sure the council is very interested in getting a response from Iraq. But I don't want to prejudge what the council might do or what the United States might do in the presence or absence of a positive statement on the part of the Iraqi government.

The expression made by the National Assembly today is not to be taken seriously. This isn't a real parliament. The only power that exists in the hands of Saddam Hussein. And we'll wait to see what he says.

BLITZER: Secretary of state Colin Powell fresh from his meeting with the U.N. Secretary Kofi Annan saying that Friday is a deadline, a deadline the Iraqis must comply, must at least acknowledge that they are ready to support the United Nations' Security Council resolution passed unanimously last Friday 15-0, a resolution that demands the return of those weapons inspectors.

Kofi Annan telling reporters that they do anticipate -- the U.N. does anticipate, a letter from the Iraqi government by Friday saying that those inspectors can return and that Hans Blix, the chief weapons inspector, expected to leave with the -- at least part of his team by November 18, to set the stage for the return of those inspectors.

One additional note -- the secretary of state declining to comment substantively on this latest reported Osama bin Laden audiotape, an audiotape railing against the United States and the west. The secretary saying that U.S. officials are still attempting to determine its authenticity. They're analyzing it to see if it, in fact, is really Osama bin Laden.

And we're going to have much more on this breaking story, what may or may not be in the Osama bin Laden reported audio tape. Is he still the biggest threat against the United States? And is Saddam Hussein just a distraction? We have much more coming up. We're going live to the White House when we return.

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