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Sharon, Powell Hold Press Conference

Aired May 11, 2003 - 06:48   ET


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: We take you live to Jerusalem for a press conference. Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, Secretary of State Colin Powell.
ARIEL SHARON, ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER (through translator): Combating terrorism by the Palestinians would be the key to making progress in the diplomatic process in order to achieve security for Israeli citizens. And this would enable us to bring about a new reality and a better existence for the Palestinians.

I want to thank you, Mr. Secretary, for your very sincere efforts to lead to progress in the political process in our area. And I wish to express support and appreciation of President Bush and his willingness to invest efforts advancing his vision and bring about a better future for our area.

Now I'll say a few words in English with your permission.

I want to welcome my friend, Secretary of State Colin Powell, to Jerusalem. We held extensive (ph) discussions on the situation in the region following the coalition victory in Iraq and on the (UNINTELLIGIBLE) opportunity that has been created to advance the political process.

I repeated to the secretary our sincere wish to move forward in implementing the vision of President Bush from the 24th of June and our readiness to invest substantial effort in order to make progress and to not miss this opportunity.

We will (UNINTELLIGIBLE) with our Palestinians colleagues, and with the help of the Americans we will be able to achieve a settlement that will lead to peace.

A general war against terror by the Palestinians (UNINTELLIGIBLE) real effort to prevent terror is the key to progress in the political process. (UNINTELLIGIBLE) the security for the (UNINTELLIGIBLE) people will lead to Israeli measures that will create a new and better reality for the Palestinian population.

I want to thank you, Mr. Secretary, for your sincere efforts to advance the political process in the region. And I want to express my appreciation to the president of the United States, Mr. George Bush, for his leadership and willingness to invest time and effort in promoting his vision and giving the region forward (ph) a better future.

Thank you. And again, you are more than welcome (ph) here, and you know that you are my friend.

COLIN POWELL, SECRETARY OF STATE: Thank you very much, Mr. Prime Minister, for your warm welcome. And thank you for the hospitality that you have, again, extended to me and the members of my delegation.

I was pleased to have the opportunity to meet with the prime minister and a number of his ministers today, and we have had a full discussion, especially focused on the profound changes that have taken place in the region and the important moment of opportunity that we now have before us, as a result of our Operation Iraqi Freedom and the success we achieved in overthrowing that threat to the state of Israel and that threat to the world, in the person of Saddam Hussein, and in light of political developments within the Palestinian Authority that puts in place now a new prime minister, Prime Minister Abbas, who I'm looking forward to seeing later this afternoon.

President Bush on Friday, in a speech in South Carolina, added a new element to the strategic changes and to our vision when he outlined a broad regional strategy designed to help all the peoples of the region; as the president put it, quote, "to replace all hatreds with new hopes."

We find ourselves at an historic moment, but to seize this opportunity we need to move forward. We need to move forward with practical steps on the ground. President Bush has stated his personal commitment to implementing his vision, to implementing it through our road map to peace.

We welcome the positive steps, political steps already taken by Palestinian officials toward reform and toward peace. But we must also see rapid, decisive action by the Palestinians to disarm and dismantle the terrorist infrastructure. Without such action, our best efforts will fail.

I will speak with Prime Minister Abbas and his team later today about how to achieve this.

Progress will also depend on concrete measures by Israel to support further Palestinian reform efforts. Prime Minister Sharon and I spoke today about a number of specific actions Israel can take immediately to improve the situation in the West Bank and Gaza and help build an environment for peacemaking.

Our conversations, as always, were frank, productive and useful. I'm pleased that the prime minister has confirmed Israel's intention to take positive steps in the days ahead. We look forward to continuing these conversations in Washington when the prime minister visits with the president later this month.

Thank you very much, Mr. Prime Minister, for your friendship.

QUESTION: Mr. Secretary Powell, welcome to Israel.

POWELL: Thank you.

QUESTION: And with your permission, I would like to ask you, I've noticed that the administration is using all the time the term "a new Palestinian leadership."

Today there is a general strike in the territories as a protest for your not meeting with Arafat. Arafat is still considered among the Palestinians as the number-one leader of the Palestinians, not Abu Mazen. Adding to that, the fact that Yasser Arafat still control most of the security systems in the Palestinian Authority, and he controls most of the money. And more than that, the Europeans are still recognizing Arafat as the number-one leader, and they are meeting with him, and we see visits of foreign ministers of Europe coming to the Muqataa to meet with Yasser Arafat.

So where exactly the United States see the new leadership, and how are you going to deal with these things that I mentioned?

POWELL: We see new leadership in the fact that there is now a prime minister where there wasn't one before. And we see a new dimension to this in light of the fact that he was approved in his position by the legislature of the Palestinian people.

Now, obviously it will take him as he gathers authority and as he moves in the proper direction.

We recognize that Mr. Arafat is still there, but the United States will not be dealing with him. We believe that Mr. Abu Mazen and some of the people that he has assembled within his cabinet to work on matters of security, to work on matters of finance, do give us new leadership to work with. And we will do everything we can to enhance his authority and his ability to get the job done and the ability of the members of his cabinet to get the job done.

With respect to what other nations might do and what various European and other foreign ministers might do, I am in close touch and contact with them. They can make their own decisions. But we have made it clear to them that we believe this is the time to invest in the new leadership. And I hope that, with the passage of time, my European and other colleagues will see the wisdom of acting in that way.

QUESTION: Mr. Prime Minister, do all the details in the road map have to be ironed out before you're ready to move ahead with it? Does Mr. Abbas simply have to say he will put Hamas out of business, or does he have to do it, before you move ahead?

SHARON: I think that we are used (ph) here for declarations, promises, talks, (UNINTELLIGIBLE) are actions that should be taken against the terrorist organizations like the Hamas, the Islamic Jihad, the Popular Front, the Democratic Front, and all the others and those security organizations that are involved in terror and use terror and cooperate with other terrorist organizations.

So, I think that the time of promises and declarations is behind us. What we expect are steps that should be taken -- real steps.

Thank you.

QUESTION: Thank you very much. Secretary Powell, are you satisfied with the humanitarian gesture that the prime minister presented to you? Is it enough? Do you think that Israel should do more?

And in that aspect, does the United States expect or demand from Israel a total removal of the illegal outposts in the territories?

POWELL: The steps that the prime minister mentioned to me this morning, I think, are very promising and very hopeful and shows Israel's commitment to begin this process and not lose this moment of opportunity. So yes, I'm pleased with what I heard from the prime minister earlier.

With respect to settlement activity and outposts, we did discuss these issues, and we'll be discussing them in greater detail in the days ahead, and we look forward to a full discussion of how to move forward on the issue of settlements and outposts when the prime minister visits in the near future.

QUESTION: Yes, I also wanted to ask the prime minister on the question of settlements.

You spoke a few weeks ago about being willing to make painful concessions for peace. Do you envision withdrawing from a number of settlements in order to create a state with provisional borders, or is this something that would have to remain unsettled until final status talks?

And do you reject the road map? Is it really no longer something that you want to follow? Are you following your own path now?

Thank you.

SHARON: It's about the Jewish towns and Jewish communities and outposts. I said very clearly and I repeated it many times that for genuine, durable, real peace Israel will be ready to make painful concessions.

I emphasize, as well, that when it comes to security, the security of the citizens of Israel and the security of the state of Israel, Israel will not be able to make any concessions nor any compromises when it comes to security, not now and not in the future.

The Jews are having one tiny, small country, though a country with many talents, but a tiny, small country. And that is the only place in the world where the Jews are having the right and the capability to defend themselves by themselves. And that is our duty, and we are going to preserve it.

Now it's about details. I think that because we (ph) have a very serious approach toward the coming negotiations, and I hope to meet these Palestinian leaders soon, though we have met already in the past, even here in this building, I think it's going to be a mistake if we declare now what are the concessions that we are willing to make. Once we'll do that, that will become immediately the start line of the negotiations. So one needs patience and, I would say, experience to conduct all negotiations, and I believe that along those lines I'll be conducting the negotiations.

Thank you.

QUESTION: Thank you very much.

COOPER: You've been listening to a press conference given by Secretary of State Colin Powell, as well as Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, detailing a little bit what they have been talking about over the last several hours this morning in Jerusalem, at the prime minister's residence. That Colin Powell will now be journeying to Jericho, to meet with the Palestinian prime minister, the newly appointed Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas.

Those meetings were originally supposed to take place in Ramallah. There are a couple of opinions about why they have been moved Jericho. But they will take place in Jericho. And we are anticipating another press conference with Mahmoud Abbas and Secretary of State Colin Powell, sometime around the 9:30 to 9:40, and, we of course, will bring that to you live.


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