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Powell, Jordanian Foreign Minister Hold Press Conference

Aired April 28, 2003 - 11:38   ET


LEON HARRIS, CNN ANCHOR: We take you now for extra coverage to a live at the State Department this morning. You see Secretary of State Powell there on the right, along with the Jordanian foreign minister, Mr. Muasher, now addressing the press.
COLIN POWELL, SECY. OF STATE: Good morning, everyone.

It's my pleasure to host Foreign Minister Muasher of Jordan.

We had a good conversation. And as you might expect, we talked about the two topics of the day of greatest interest to us, and that was where we are in Iraq.

And now that, for the most part, the serious hostilities are over, although we have not yet finished cleaning up all the pockets of resistance, nevertheless you can see that our attention has turned to dealing with humanitarian needs. And I'm pleased that food is not a problem in the country. And we're hard at work at fixing the electrical grid and making sure that the people of Iraq have clean water and the other things needed for satisfactory daily life.

We will begin the effort of rebuilding the ministries. And as you know from the meeting taking place in Baghdad today, work is also under way to help the Iraqi people create a new government that will be representative of all the Iraqi people. So we discussed this issue in some detail.

And then, we moved to the Middle East peace process. And I reaffirmed President Bush's commitment to release with the other members of the Quartet the road map as soon as Prime Minister- designate Abu Mazen has been confirmed by the PLC, and we hope that will be in the next several days. And both the minister and I expressed our hopes that both parties, the Palestinians and the Israelis, will grab this new opportunity to achieve progress along the path to peace through the use of this road map.

So we're encouraged by this development, the transformation within the Palestinian Authority that will allow the Palestinian people to have a prime minister who can be a responsible partner working with Israel and working with the United States, members of the Quartet and the countries in the region, and leaders in the region, to move forward to our goal, which is to create a Palestinian state in the period of time that President Bush suggested, within the three- year period of time.

So, Mr. Minister, as always, it's a great pleasure to have had you here. MARWAN MUASHER, FOREIGN MINISTER OF JORDAN: Thank you, sir.

Let me thank Secretary Powell for this very productive meeting.

We discussed, of course, again, the two main issues on the region's mind: Iraq and the peace process. We emphasized the need to start a political process in Iraq that would lead to the formation of a credible and representative Iraqi government so we can get on with the process of rebuilding Iraq and the withdrawal of all foreign troops from Iraq.

On the peace process, I'm very encouraged by what I heard from the secretary about the president's resolve to get ahead with the road map. We are all looking forward to the time when the road map will be announced -- in a few days hopefully.

More importantly, I think there is serious work ahead of us in making sure that the road map is implemented at a very early time and in an honest manner that would restart the peace process that would give people hope that they can live in peace and security and that would get us to the time when a Palestinian state will be established alongside Israel, and where the occupation, again, the Israeli occupation, will end.

I look forward to working with the secretary on these issues. And I believe that the time has come in the Middle East to truly look at all the problems of the Middle East in a way that would end all conflicts there.

Thank you.

QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, is the U.S. -- are you getting support from European and Arab governments -- I could ask the minister, too -- on your -- what should I say? -- hopes for a transformation of the leadership of, frankly, a sidetracking of Yasser Arafat, bringing to the floor Abu Mazen? Is the U.S. alone on this or is it reinforced?

POWELL: No, I don't think we're alone. Clearly, we have been ahead of our European colleagues with respect to calling for transformation and leadership of the Palestinian Authority.

But I think I can speak for the members of the Quartet, and we say that we welcome the appointment of a prime minister who we believe can be partner to work with members of the Quartet and others in the region to move the peace process along.

Chairman Arafat is there, but I believe we need new, reinvigorated leadership of the kind that we hope Mr. Abu Mazen will bring to the table, the kind of that Mr. Fayad, the minister of finance, is bringing to the table.

And this is not the time to look back. It's a time to look forward and do everything we can to help the new prime minister.

QUESTION: Mr. Minister, is that something you have something (INAUDIBLE)? MUASHER: Well, the Palestinian reform process is that, a Palestinian process that is internal and that is ongoing. And we believe that the recent developments have been very encouraging. You have a new government, you have a prime minister with authority, and you have ministers that are authorized with going on with some very serious work both on security and finance, among other things.

We support the new Palestinian government. And we intend to work with it in order to make sure that the proper conditions are created on the ground that would help in re-launching the peace process.


QUESTION: Mr. Foreign Minister, you've spoken about moving ahead with the road map, but also, that you would like to see more of a U.S. engagement, not only rolling out the (INAUDIBLE). Could you describe what kind of U.S. engagement you would like to see going forward?

And Secretary Powell, on North Korean, the North Koreans -- there have been some reports out through the Chinese that the North Koreans offered to scrap their nuclear program, not do any testing in exchange for security guarantees by the United States. Is there anything you can say on that?

Thank you.

MUASHER: Well, I think what we all want to see is tangible differences on the ground, differences that would indicate to Palestinians, in particular, that there is indeed hope that the peace process is finally relaunched and that their lives have changed. We would like to see Israel lift the curfews, stop demolitions of homes, and we would like to see and end to settlement activity. And we would like to see the security situation, also, stabilized. So these are the kind of early activities that we would be looking at to see whether we can indeed translate the road map into a tangible difference on the ground.

POWELL: The trilateral meeting that we held with the Chinese and the North Koreans last week in Beijing, I think, turned out to be quite useful. The North Koreans acknowledged a number of things that they were doing and in effect said these are now up for further discussion. They did put forward a plan that would ultimately deal with their nuclear capability and their missile activities. But they, of course, expect something considerable in return.

And so, we are studying that plan. We are examining it with our friends and allies. We're staying in the closest touch with the South Koreans, the Japanese, the Chinese, Russians, Australians, and others. And so, I think it was useful to get it all out on the table and see where we go from here.

They've never used the word "testing" -- you've suggested they threatened to test -- but they never used the word test. They said that it is the kind of capability that one can display in one way or another. And we're taking all this seriousness. And now that Assistant Secretary Kelly is back, we'll be spending quite a bit of time going over his notes and his impressions on what he heard.

Let me take this opportunity to thank the Chinese government for not only hosting this meeting, but being a full participant in this first multi-lateral session.

QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, have you asked the Jordanians in any manner to help work with the Syrians for moderation? And also, to ask for special policing and other type of army-type infrastructure to go into Iraq?

POWELL: No, it didn't come up in the course of the second party question. It didn't come up in the course of our conversation. And, I don't know if the minister wishes to say a word to that point.

With respect to Syria, we always discuss Syria when we are together. And as you know, I plan to travel to Syria in the not-too- distant future and have a full range of conversation with the Syrian leadership over issues that are on our minds and of concern to us, and that we have been speaking about rather openly in recent weeks. And I'm sure we'll have complete and comprehensive discussions with the Syrians.

POWELL: And I hope that in light of the changed circumstances in the region, not only with respect to what happened in Iraq, but with the likelihood that the road map is about to be placed down over the next several days, I hope that these two elements change circumstances in Iraq and the road map will have caused the Syrians to review all of their policies and give some consideration to changing those policies, which we believe have not been helpful in the past.

QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, there were reports over the weekend that North Korea actually told the State Department, on March 31, that it had begun this reprocessing, although the press didn't find out about it until a later date. And there are some allegations that the rest of the administration didn't find out about it, or other agencies. Can you address that?

POWELL: Yes, that's nonsense. Over a period of time, the North Koreans have made different statements about reprocessing and whether they are or not reprocessing. And we always examine those statements, and we try to determine the validity of those statements. And our intelligence community still cannot give us any validation or confirmation of what North Korea has said at various times and in various places with respect to reprocessing.

So what we were told on the 31st was shared within the administration. I'm not sure if everybody in the administration got it. But it isn't relevant, because it didn't seem to be anything that was terribly new or different from what we had been told on a regular basis over the last several months. It was not, in our judgment, anything that was particularly new or newsworthy.

Thank you.

HARRIS: Secretary of State Colin Powell there, wrapping up remarks, along with the Jordanian foreign minister, talked to the press this morning about their discussions about the Mideast peace process and the status in Iraq right now. And Mr. Muasher saying he's encouraged about the signals he's getting from President Bush, about wanting to go out and embark now in establishing peace with the Palestinians and Israel, and rolling out the so-called road map.

But we also heard Secretary Powell there talk about developments with North Korea. There are reports this morning in the wire services that North Korea has offered to end its missile program, sales of missiles overseas, as well as its nuclear program in exchange for a security arrangement with the U.S. Secretary Powell says that they have studied this offer that is coming from North Korea, and they said since what is being asked in return is quite considerable, they're going to take some time to look it over and consider the next step.


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