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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL

Powell Address Reporters at U.N.

Aired September 25, 2003 - 14:34   ET

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

KYRA PHILLIPS, CNN ANCHOR: We're going to go to Colin Powell just getting out of a luncheon with Kofi Annan. Let's listen in.
(JOINED IN PROGRESS)

COLIN POWELL, SECRETARY OF STATE: ... as we have been all week long, and I'm pleased, and I think my colleagues in the P-5 are pleased, that we're seeing some convergence of views with respect to a new resolution, and we'll be working on language in the days ahead that tries to capture as much as that convergence as possible and to see what we are able to come to agreement on.

We also had a good discussion on the role of the secretary general and his representative in the political process in Iraq and how it should be captured in a resolution, and reference was made to the report that the secretary general gave to the Security Council earlier in the summer, which lays out some responsibilities that could be taken on by the secretary general. And of course, 1483 also laid out some responsibilities for the secretary general and his representative.

We also talked about the Middle East. And as you know, there will be a Quarter meeting tomorrow. We believe firmly in the concept of the road map, and it is still there, but we are waiting for the Palestinian side to determine the makeup of its new government so that we have a partner that we can work with.

So we'll review the situation tomorrow, and you'll hear a statement from the Quartet after our meeting tomorrow.

We took note of the situation in Liberia and pleased that we were able to get ECOWAS in and ECOMIL forces from ECOWAS in. The United States was pleased to play a role in that by providing offshore capability and some on-the-ground capability for a period of time.

Secretary general reported on the generation of a peacekeeping force to go in, and everything seems to be on track. And we believe the Liberian people now have a chance to build a better life for themselves through a new government coming in.

And then the final item we discussed was HIV/AIDS. As you know, there was plenary session on it earlier this week many of us spoke at. And the secretary general encouraged all of us and all the nations of the United Nations to do as much as they can to deal with this deadly threat, this disease that is killing millions and millions of citizens and orphaning so many children. And that's a brief summary of what we discussed at lunch.

Questions?

QUESTION: You met today with the Iraq Governing Council. Is there convergence of views upon a timetable? Are they working on a timetable? Do they take the same, to use the president's word, unhurried pace? Do they prefer an unhurried pace to make sure that democracy really works?

POWELL: We didn't specifically talk about a timetable in terms of weeks, months, or how many months. I think we did converge on the understanding that you did need a democratic political process that rests on a constitution and elections that flow from that constitution. And that's been a subject of some debate over the last week or so, but I think we all have a common understanding.

Remember that the resolution would invite the governing council to come up with a plan and a timetable, so I wasn't looking for a timetable today. Ambassador Bremer has suggested some time lines, and we'll wait and see how the -- what the resolution says and how the governing council responds to the invitation that will be in the resolution. I'm sure they're thinking about it, I'm sure they're working on it, but we didn't get into those details today, and it wouldn't have been appropriate.

QUESTION: Secretary Powell, in February 2001, you said that Saddam has not developed any significant capability with respect to weapons of mass destruction. What caused you to change your assessment?

POWELL: I didn't change my assessment. What I said was, at that time, three weeks into the administration when I was trying to get sanctions retained -- and we did succeed in getting sanctions retained -- I made that observation, but you say -- you will note that I did not say he didn't have weapons of mass destruction. And I think in that interview I also went on to say that it was important for us to keep the pressure on and for inspectors to be able to get back in and for sanctions to be kept in place.

He was a threat then. The extent of his holdings were yet to be determined. It was early in the administration, and fact of the matter, it was long before 9/11.

So a lot changed between February 2001, but I don't find anything inconsistent between what I said then and what I've said all along.

QUESTION: Can you respond to the Iranian foreign minister's remarks in The Washington Post today that he was ready to be quite transparent with regard to the nuclear program that has been such concern?

POWELL: They intend to be quite transparent?

QUESTION: That's the quote that's in The Washington Post.

POWELL: I can be nothing but pleased if that's what they intend to be and if that's what they actually do.

QUESTION: They have told us here in New York that they would like to take over the security arrangements...

POWELL: I'm sorry, start again.

QUESTION: The Iraqi leaders from the interim council, they have told us they would like to take over the security arrangements in Iraq, and they're meeting (UNINTELLIGIBLE). They came to that conclusion they would like you to draw back to bases and leave the security arrangement to the people who know it best, the Iraqis themselves. Is there anything wrong with that?

POWELL: We would, of course, welcome Iraqis taking over all of the security responsibilities. But an intention to take over those responsibilities without the capability of taking them over doesn't take you anywhere.

So until we build up the Iraqi national police force and Iraqi national army and the civil defense forces that are being created, the bulk of the security responsibilities will rest on the coalition forces.

But we are anxious to see other nations join in the stabilization force. And Ambassador Bremer and our commanders are working very hard, and a lot of work's been done in the last two days to accelerate the creation of national police forces as well as the national army.

You'll have to forgive me. I have to get some meetings.

PHILLIPS: Secretary of State Colin Powell addressing reporters there, just getting out of a luncheon with U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan and his representatives in the political process in Iraq. Talking about working on a new U.N. resolution. Also addressing Middle East and the road map to peace.

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