- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 9, 2002

Following are excerpts from an interview with Secretary of State Colin L. Powell at the State Department by reporters and editors of The Washington Times yesterday:

Question: The first year of this administration is now over. What are the three most important things that you see as the best achievements of this administration, foreign policywise?

Answer:
I think we have structured a very strong relationship with Russia. I think that the meetings that President Bush has had with President [Vladimir] Putin and the dialogue that has taken place between me and my colleague, [Defense Secretary] Don Rumsfeld and his colleague, and at a variety of levels, have positioned us for a very positive continuing relationship with Russia.
The way that Russia responded to the events of September 11th I think is reflective of that. The way in which we agreed to disagree on the [Anti-Ballistic Missile] Treaty after spending 11 months telling them where we were going, making clear to them that we were going there and nothing would deter us; is there a way we can do it together and is there a way that you can accept what we have to do? And at the end of the day, we agreed to disagree and the United States notified Russia that we were going to be withdrawing from the treaty. I notified Foreign Minister [Igor] Ivanov. He and I talked about it for two days. The president then called President Putin, and President Putin and I arranged the manner in which we would make all of these announcements. And guess what? The world did not end, an arms race did not break out, and there is no crisis in U.S.-Russia relations. I think that is reflective of the way in which we will be working together with Russia in the future.
And then the last piece of evidence I would give you for my assertion is the way in which we have worked through NATO-Russia working at 20 a lot of discussion, a lot of debate of what that was all about. But the fact of the matter is we came to an agreement with the Russians as to how we can pursue this dialogue at 20, and we are on a track to see if we can have it in place at the time of the Reykjavik [Iceland] ministerial [meeting]. I think that's a success.

China success
I think another success is the way we have ended the year with China.
Remember also, we came through the spy crisis. Hard to believe that we had a spy crisis with Russia. These things come and go. You get 48 hours and that's it. It's over. It's gone. You have a big spy crisis and everybody was writing, "That's it. It's over. We can't do anything with the Russians."
So, in a similar vein, we had the same thing with the Chinese with the reconnaissance plane crisis and the human rights crisis and the proliferation crisis. And so it looked like things were going to be in difficulty with China. But we came through that because there are things that both countries have to do with each other to be successful, that we have to do economically. So we encouraged Chinese economic development and accession to the World Trade Organization. I had a visit in the summer to Beijing that set the groundwork, I think, for the president's visit, which had to be abbreviated because of the terrorist attack; but, nevertheless, he was determined to go to Asia and he did go to Shanghai and had a good meeting with [President] Jiang Zemin and the others.
And I think we ended the year on a good note with China. And we have been working with them closely now, for example, on the India-Pakistan situation. Maybe we'll call Foreign Minister [Jiaxuan] Tang and have a good discussion, make sure our policies are, you know, at least understood. And they are supporting us, as I saw in the press reporting today. The Chinese are supporting the approach that the rest of the international community has taken; they're not trying to be a spoiler. And we saw the same thing as we got into the Afghanistan situation. All that comes as a result of us building this relationship over the last 11 months, 12 months now. But we never walked away from our commitment to human rights; we never walked away from the argument that if China really wants to continue in this vein with us, they have to do something about proliferation activities. We never walked away from the position that we don't think your political system is the right one for the 21st century.
And we trust that in due course, as your economic development continues and as you see what benefits there are of being part of a world that rests on the rule of law, it will benefit the Chinese people.
You want a third one? I can give you a third one. I think that we have also been rather successful in bringing the Europeans to a calmer level of concern with respect to the United States. There was a lot of concern earlier in the year that because we took some unilateral positions that were positions of principle for us Kyoto [climate treaty], for example that somehow the United States was going off into the wild blue yonder and leave Europe. We didn't.
And the president's speech in Warsaw, the president's participation in G-8 meetings, the European Union summit and at the end of the year, the president was able to pull this whole coalition together against terrorism. I think we showed the world that where it serves our interests and when it serves the interests of the world for us to be multilateral, to use the cliched term of art, we will be so. And when, on a matter of principle, we cannot join with others on a position as a matter of principle, we will stand on that principle. And I think the president has given to the international community a pretty good demonstration of who he is andwhat he is and what this administration is all about.
I could list other successes. I think we had a success with respect to our relations here in our hemisphere. There are some dark clouds now, Argentina being one, developments in Venezuela that I'm not happy with. But by and large, I think there have been quite a few successes, successes that will be built upon in the months and years ahead.
You haven't asked me about problems, but I would be delighted to shift, segue, right into problems.

Problem areas
Q: That's fine.
A:
We have some vexing problems that we have to deal with. The two that occupy an enormous amount of my time are, of course, the Middle East, the situation between Israel and the Palestinians, and most recently between India and Pakistan.
On the Middle East, we will stay engaged. The president has been engaged from day one, but we weren't drifting into this thinking that all it took was a special envoy going back and forth and everything is solved, or a summit meeting and everything would be solved. No, the first thing we had to do was to get security for the people of Israel, security for the people in the region, so that a cease-fire can come in place, and then we can find a basis to move forward to confidence-building and then negotiations to create a state for the Palestinian people, living side by side next to a Jewish state called Israel I have not lost that vision, that hope. The president laid it out in the U.N. speech that he gave in November. And I laid it out in my speech. Gen. [Anthony] Zinni has been acting on that vision and will continue to do so.
There are setbacks from time to time. One deeply disturbing problem that we have seen in the last several days is the ship that was captured by the Israelis. By the way, just as a former soldier, let me compliment the Israelis on a neat piece of work. But beyond that, it is deeply troubling to see the kinds of weapons that were being introduced into this volatile area.
And I think there is a heavy burden on Chairman [Yasser] Arafat and the Palestinian Authority to explain what they know about this and get to the bottom of this, because this is an escalation. And so we have seen some of the evidence and information and we are looking to receive more information and evidence. We have an Israeli team coming here tomorrow [Wednesday]. But this kind of action is condemnable and I do condemn it. And General Zinni raised it with Chairman Arafat the very next day.

Next phase
Q: I know that you are not talking much about what's next in the war on terrorism because, as far as we know, there have been no recommendations made to the president. But in terms of foreign policy, what kinds of things is the United States doing in this area, in your area, to prepare for the next phase?
A:
We're working with, obviously, my colleagues in the administration the Defense Department, George Tenet at the [CIA], and with [National Security Advisor] Condoleezza Rice and others, and especially now with Attorney General [John Ashcroft] and the Director of the FBI [Robert S. Mueller III]. It's all sort of one thing now. It's transnational. It's cross-border. We're working with the INS even more than we usually do.
And so, what we are trying to do in the foreign policy side is to help analyze where these terrorist cells are belonging to al Qaeda, who may be harboring them or providing haven, what countries, what groups. We have gone after banks, financial institutions. We have gone after these so-called charitable foundations who were essentially fronts for providing financial activity to these kinds of organizations.
And we are looking carefully at those countries that may be a place where these al Qaeda cells might find haven. And one that immediately comes to mind that's been mentioned particularly is Somalia, because it is quite a lawless place without much of a government and because of past affiliation with such activity. It's a place we're watching very, very carefully, as I said to another interviewer recently, not just because it's a weak, broken state. That's not a reason to go there. It's because terrorist activity might find some fertile ground there, and we don't want that to happen.
There are other nations that we're working with who have their own kind of terrorist problems. The Philippines has terrorist problems not quite the same, but the president made it clear to the American people and to the world that this is a campaign against terrorism throughout the world, not just al Qaeda. And so we're working with the Philippine government, we're working with the Indonesians and we're working with the Yemenis to see how we can assist them.
We're working with the Sudanese, a country we have had some great difficulties with. But ever since September 11th, and even before that, we had started to have discussions with the Sudanese and point out to them, "What do you get for this? What do you get for letting people like this hang out in the Sudan? What does it do for you, except bring down the condemnation of the entire world? It does not put one bowl of rice in front of anyone. And so let's start trying to move in a new direction."
The Sudanese have been somewhat forthcoming. Have I said, "Gee, the problem is solved"? No, we've got a major problem in the Sudan. But some new opportunities were opened up. And so part of the new front, as you say, is to work with countries like the Sudan not being naive, not being unmindful of the problems that exist there throwing in other assets, diplomatic assets, [former] Senator [John] Danforth and others, but at the same time, cooperating with them more than we had before on intelligence and law-enforcement activities and things of that nature.
And so we have not made any recommendation to the president yet, and the president has not made any decisions yet with respect to a military action in any other location. And there are other actions that are taking place in other locations, but they are of a diplomatic, political, financial, law-enforcement and intelligence nature.
Countries like Iraq always are subject No. 1. We know that they are a state sponsor of terrorism. It's been on our list for many years. But beyond that, we know that they are continuing to try to develop weapons of mass destruction, and so our strategy remains clear with respect to Iraq.
For my part of the portfolio, I am trying to make sure that sanctions stay in place and get better. And after a year of struggling with this, I can look at two achievements. One, the sanctions regime did not fall apart. We put it on life support. And we will have smart sanctions before this current period expires. We're working on the list with the Russians to get some satisfaction on the list, get satisfaction of what [U.N. weapons] inspectors must be allowed to do.
And then on other parts of our strategy with Iraq that don't have to do with the U.N., we still believe in regime change and we are constantly reviewing our plans, our intelligence activities, military options and other options with respect to regime change.

South Asian standoff
Q: I want to go back to India and Pakistan. How do you view the likelihood of conflict breaking out? Have you received any assurances from the Indians that they will not launch an attack?
A:
It is a very tense and dangerous situation. Any situation where you have forces that have mobilized and are in proximity to one another and are at something of a war footing is a dangerous situation. However, I still think there is every opportunity for a political and diplomatic solution. Both sides have said that they are desirous of solving this through political and diplomatic means.
A lot is going on. [British] Prime Minister [Tony] Blair just returned from the region and we have been in touch with his people this morning. I was delayed coming in because I was talking to [Pakistani] President [Pervez] Musharraf one of our regular phone calls discussing the political and military situation and talking about possibilities with respect to reaching a point where the two sides can say, "All right, let's start to de-escalate." We're not at that point yet, but I think there are some elements of progress that I have seen in the last several days that suggest to me that we still have time to find a political and diplomatic solution.

Weapons ship
Q: It sounds like you're accepting the fact that the weapons shipment seized by Israel was destined for the Palestinians.
A:
I don't know where else it might have been going. It was destined for the region. The Israelis have put forward a case that you all saw on television, just as I did, and they have given us additional information, and they will be giving us more information tomorrow [Wednesday]. And General Zinni presented that case, as much as he had of it, Sunday or Monday before he left to come back. And so it seems that I have no reason to believe that the ship was not heading to the region.
Q: But you're not specifying whether it might not be belonging
people are saying to Lebanon?
A:
Seems logical to me.
Q: And what about Iran? Nobody is saying very much. I mean, Iran was the shipper. How do you view that?

A:
Deeply troubling. It's entirely a new element that complicates an already complicated situation. And the best information I have, which comes from the Israelis, who got it all, is that it's clear from everything I've seen the shipment originated in Iran. Now, more information will be coming forward and the secrets of all hearts will be known when this one is over.
Q: With respect to India again, everyone is afraid that a conflict could become nuclear. Pakistan is more likely to resort to nuclear weapons because it's the weaker state militarily and more likely to lose a conventional war. Have you discussed with Mr. Musharraf the urgency of not resorting to nuclear weapons?

A:
Without buying into your statement of military strategy I have spoken to both sides about the dangers of sliding into a conflict in South Asia between India and Pakistan. We have had such success over the last four months in this war on terrorism and reshaping that whole region a new U.S.-Pakistani relationship, a reinvigorated U.S.-Indianrelationship, a new interim authority in Kabul [Afghanistan], the destruction of the Taliban, the destruction of al Qaeda in that part of the world. We haven't rounded them all up yet. There's a lot more work to be done. There is still al Qaeda and Taliban running around loose. But there is a new government in Kabul and it has an international security force and it also has the United States armed forces and others in the region
This is a remarkable change in the relationship of the Central Asian nations that is different than it was four months ago. This remarkable success should not be allowed to just be torn apart because of a war between India and Pakistan. So we have made it clear to both sides the strategic consequences of such a conflict. And they are both nuclear armed, and so there is always that possibility, and I think both sides recognize the seriousness of this situation and the seriousness of letting it become an armed conflict.
And so, yes, that message has been given to both sides clearly, to include the nuclear aspects of it.
Q: In the past, China has supplied Pakistan with nuclear and missile materials. Is China now trying to dampen down Pakistan?

A:
China is trying to dampen down the tension in the region in their meetings with President Musharraf and the conversations that I've had with Foreign Minister Tang and in the subsequent reporting I've seen, China is playing a responsible role in trying to reduce the tensions and not taking one side or the other. Everybody can see this. All of us can see that this serves no one's interest. And could one side or the other prevail in such a conflict? You've got to solve this diplomatically and politically, and that is the focus of our energy and attention. So far, we have prevented a conflict from breaking out.
Q: You said you spoke with General Musharraf just now. In fact, he's going to make a major address this week. Did you talk about this? Do you know what kinds of things he's going to say?

A:
Mm-hmm.
Q: And they are? (Laughter.)

A:
Please, please, a little discretion here.
Q: On background?

A:
No, he will give a speech and it will be an important speech. He and I have been we can talk about a couple of these. He understands the seriousness of the situation, and I will wait and see what he says.
Q: I was wondering if you could talk a bit about the future U.S. involvement in Afghanistan itself. There was a report this morning [Tuesday] that we had had discussions of an oil pipeline going through Afghanistan. How engaged is the United States going to be there, and does oil fit into the picture?

A:
We are going to be very engaged, as I think Don Rumsfeld and [commander of the operation] General [Tommy] Franks have indicated, we see many months of work ahead militarily. Beyond that, when Operation Enduring Freedom eventually ends that will be General Frank's judgment and his recommendation to the president we will continue to be engaged. We will have to help the Afghan government build an army, an army that is the right kind of army, not just a bunch of warlords thrown together. We will have to help them rebuild their society, help them rebuild an economy.
I am going to a reconstruction conference next weekend in Tokyo, where we will try to raise billions of dollars to help them with this effort. And as the president has said from the very beginning, there really are three parts to our Afghan strategy, perhaps more than three: One, fight the war and defeat al Qaeda and the Taliban; two, provide humanitarian assistance to the people of Afghanistan, and that is starting to go rather well now.
The third part is to help them to set up the new government, which we've done. And fourth reconstruction. And so we will remain engaged.
With respect to the oil pipeline, there have been many ideas over the years about a pipeline going through Afghanistan, and I am sure it is an idea that will surface again. And there are oil companies that have expressed interest in this previously, but I don't have any current information to [offer].

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