Powell Outlines Results of Visit to Asia-Pacific

Published: Tue 31 Jul 2001 09:27 AM
Transcript: Sec. Powell Outlines Results of Visit to Asia-Pacific Region
En route to Canberra July 29, Secretary of State Colin Powell outlined what he saw as the accomplishments of his weeklong visit to the Asia-Pacific region, which included Japan, Vietnam, the Republic of Korea, and the People's Republic of China as well as Australia.
"I think I left a message of reassurance for everybody in the region that we're going to move forward in a positive way with China, we're open to discussions with North Korea and we're continuing to build on what we have been able to do in the last six years with Vietnam," Powell said.
In Australia, Powell and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld will attend the Australian-U.S. Ministerial Conference and take note of the 50th anniversary of ANZUS agreement and the 100th anniversary of the Federation of Australia. According to Powell, the United States will emphasize the vital role Australia plays in the region.
Powell said he expected to discuss the U.S. position on the biological weapons convention protocol again with Australian Foreign Minister Alexander Downer, noting that they have already had "a pretty sharp, strong exchange of views."
The Secretary also answered reporters' questions about various issues, among them: perceptions of U.S. unilateralism; U.S. expectations about re-engaging in a dialogue with North Korea; U.S. relations with China and President Bush's upcoming visit to that country; and other U.S.-China issues including human rights, the EP-3 incident, Taiwan, nonproliferation, and missile defense.
Following is the State Department transcript:
(begin transcript)
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE Office of the Spokesman Canberra, Australia) July 29, 2001
Press Conference by Secretary of State Colin L. Powell Briefing en Route to Canberra Australia July 29, 2001
SECRETARY POWELL: It's been a very busy five days. When you think of it, we've only been on the ground five days. We've been away seven but only five on the ground. I was just reflecting up in the forward cabin on what I've actually done during that five-day period and what you have accompanied me on.
First of all, I think it has been a very productive five days. I think a lot of ground, a lot of territory, has been covered, beginning with touching up the relations with our allies in the region, not that they need touching up because something is wrong, but just to show that those alliances are strong. I'm, I guess, the first senior Bush national security official to get to the region in the first six months so I thought it was important to stop in Japan and visit with the new prime minister, to have an opportunity the next day to meet with the foreign minister, to speak to some of the other government officials, and to reinforce our support for Prime Minister Koizumi's reform plans - his economic reform plans - and to also make sure there were no lingering problems associated with the Okinawan incident. I think that incident is behind us, but I assured the prime minister that as we went forward we would be especially sensitive to reacting quickly to any other incidents that come along. We're always willing to discuss how better to implement the SOFA but see no need at this time to reopen the SOFA. He agreed with that. So I thought that was a good stop.
On to Hanoi, where, in a rather remarkable two-day period, you could count them if you wish, but I think there were twenty or more countries, I guess 23, 24, 25, countries that were there in one capacity or another. It was rather amazing. First, all of the Southeast Asian countries, then to see the Russians there, the Chinese there, the North Koreans represented, the European Union coming in from far away to be a part of this larger gathering. That gave me an excellent opportunity to present the Bush Administration's vision for the region, that we would be involved, we would be engaged, have no fear about America's understanding of its role as a Pacific power, have no fears about the United States withdrawing. It was important for me to sit there and listen to all of the presentations from all of those who had come from so far to speak to the group. I got a lot out of it and learned a lot about their visions and their expectations of us. And then in the other meetings incident to ARF, the post-ministerial conference, as well as about ten individual bilaterals that I held, either long bilaterals or little pull-asides, taking the opportunity to meet with Ivanov for an hour, our seventh meeting, I think, in the last six months. All of that was very helpful. They all want us to be engaged in the Asia-Pacific region. I assured them that we would. I assured them that would include our continuing troop presence and our willingness to reach out to those nations we have had difficult relations with over the years, whether it's North Korea, China, or Vietnam. Two of the three cases we are moving forward in a positive way and in the third case, North Korea, we're looking forward to re-engaging in a dialogue with them as soon as they are ready to do so.
>From Hanoi then on to - where did we go next, guys, Korea? - yeah, Korea, which for me is always like a mini-homecoming. I love going back to Korea. I've done a book tour there, I've lived there, I've served there, and I have many Korean friends as well as fond memories and to have the opportunity to reassure President Kim Dae Jung that President Bush supports his sunshine policy and then, particularly in the press conference that afternoon, to encourage the North Korean leadership and also encourage the Russians to encourage the North Korean leadership to move forward to have that second summit meeting in Seoul this year. I tried to leave the message that we were ready to meet with the North Koreans without any preconditions. We're just waiting for them to respond.
>From there, of course, into China and I was very pleased to be received at all the senior levels and, to use diplomatic phraseology, it was a good exchange of views. But it was more than that, it got us past the EP-3 incident, even though the payment issue is still out there, but that should be resolved in the near future. I think it got us past that, and allowed them to make sure that I had a clear understanding, which I did, of the one-China policy as they see it and allowed me to reinforce our one-China policy understanding as well based on the TRN and the three communiqués. I made it clear to them that President Bush wanted to engage, that there was a lot we could do in the economic field, the field of trade, in the field of trying to reduce the potential for regional conflicts by conversation and discussion and forums, such as the ARF Forum, where we get together and talk about things. I also gave the message at every level that we still have concerns. Our systems are different, but there are some universal features that should apply to both systems -- human rights and also proliferation, non-proliferation, and counter-proliferation interests and activities. They are very much looking forward to President Bush's visit and I was particularly impressed that they reinforced their view that America does belong in the Pacific, in the Asia-Pacific, region, and they welcome American presence in the Asia-Pacific region as a stabilizing factor which I felt it has been for all these many, many years. It was also an opportunity to introduce two of our new ambassadors, Howard Baker, have a chance to see Howard and Nancy Kassenbaum Baker for a bit and also Ambassador Sandy Randt, two stars in my judgment who will do a great job of representing us to those two particular countries.
Now on to Australia, which is just as an important part of the whole trip to celebrate the 50th anniversary of ANZUS agreement through the Australian-U.S. Ministerial Conference. It's also 100th anniversary of the Federation of Australia, and to make sure they understand we see the vital role that they play in the region. As you know, we weren't able to have this ministerial meeting last year so it is doubly important for both Don Rumsfeld and I to attend this one. I was in the region but Don really had to stretch to get all the way here and then get all the way home right away, but it's evidence of the seriousness with which we view our relationship with Australia, and Australia's role in the whole region.
Tomorrow we will discuss regional issues, global issues. We'll discuss defense cooperation and anything else our Australian colleagues would like to discuss. So I am very pleased with the trip. I think a lot was covered. I think I left a message of reassurance for everybody in the region that we're going to move forward in a positive way with China, we're open to discussions with North Korea and we're continuing to build on what we have been able to do in the last six years with Vietnam. I think we're off to a pretty good start on our Asian policy.
QUESTION: Have you heard from the Russians about their willingness to talk to the North Koreans and also, did you manage to convince Ivanov to move forward in any way on Iraq? And finally, what do you plan to tell the Australians on the issue of unilateralism and the weapons treaty, chemical and biological weapons?
SECRETARY POWELL: Let's see, where shall I begin? She took up three of you. What was the first one? No, I haven't heard back from the Russians. But of course the North Korean leader isn't there yet either and he won't be for another week, I think. I don't know. I didn't tell him beforehand I was going to say what I said in the press conference so I'm not sure what the reaction will be. I expect to be talking to Foreign Minister Ivanov right after I get home and we'll see if that may come up. On Iraq, we didn't discuss Iraq in any detail this time, passing conversations that our delegations had to work together over the next four-plus months to see if we can find a solution. They have very considerable commercial interests that they are worried about. And they also have a slightly different view on how to alternately end the sanctions through a monitor and inspection regime. Most of our time was spent talking about the strategic framework incident to Dr. Rice's visit that occurred a day or two later, and following up on the Putin-Bush meeting in Genoa. And I expect to talk to the foreign minister again this week. We also arranged a schedule of meetings for he and I to get together in September. He'll come down to Washington from UNGA.
What was your third one, Robin - on biological weapons? - unilateralism? I'm sure the issue of the biological weapons convention protocol will come up. The Australians are very much in favor of it. I've already had one conversation with Foreign Minister Downer. I don't know if Alexander wants to continue to have a further discussion about it, but I'm willing to do so. Alex and I had a pretty sharp, strong exchange of views, and I told him why we fully support the biological warfare convention but we have been saying for a long time that we didn't think it would be verifiable. The regime that came forward in this protocol was not something that so far we found would achieve its purpose or serve our needs. We have a huge biological and biotech industry and it would be hard to find a boundary who would be listed in such a protocol and who would not be listed. Once you list these large, large numbers of firms, then they become eligible for the inspection regime. Because we have such a vibrant large industry, it's hard to find a boundary and then we are opening up far more facilities for those kinds of inspections than other countries would have to, especially those we're most worried about.
So the nations we're least worried about would have the greater burden without any movement to an actual verification, as opposed to those who we should be most worried about but wouldn't have much to declare because they do it, not in their biotechnology industrial base but in places they keep hidden. So, all things considered, we didn't think it was a sound way to move. And we didn't just pull out. I'm willing to say boldly here that if this had been the previous Administration and they were faced with the decision last year they probably would have come to the same conclusion. I say that because it is the career bureaucracy that started telling me, within my first weeks here, that we have a problem and this problem is going to face you in a few months. It is an unanimous view of all the members of the interagency group that looked at this, we cannot go forward with this. Ambassador Malley, who is our representative, worked for me at the National Security Council thirteen years ago, so I have enormous confidence in him. He is a careerist and he's been studying this for years and so his judgment also meant a lot to me and I think we're well [inaudible] so. I'm sure Foreign Minister Downer and I want to talk about it some more tomorrow.
I'm sure there will be somebody at some point in an interview somewhere who will raise the unilateralist issue. I will give an absolutely persuasive case that is not the term to apply to us. If we were all that unilateralist, I wouldn't be seeing twenty-nine or thirty countries' representatives in five days.
QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, there seems to be a greater sense of urgency on North Korea. You talk about any time, any place to meet with the North Koreans; you talk about how important it is for the second Summit to occur before the end of the year; why the sense of urgency?
SECRETARY POWELL: The Koreans are anxious to not see the momentum stop and there's a concern that you would just sort of run into a flat period for a long period of time. And that would not be in the interests of President Kim Dae Jung's policy. The reason I have been rather forthcoming with respect [inaudible] to prepare to meet you as soon as possible without preconditions is I want to keep the ball in their court. There is no unusual urgency associated with it. We're continuing to live within the constraints of the agreed framework, although they still have to have IAEA inspections in due course, but that's a different treaty. And they have a moratorium on their launches, so it's not a sense of urgency dictated by "I'm being worried about something." I'm putting this kind of message out because I want to make sure they understand we're ready and not to give them a reason to think that we're not ready to engage. So that's the reason I've been sort of leaning forward saying "Do you want to talk, let's talk". They have serious needs. They're in very dire straits in my judgment and I want to let them know if they're ready to talk, we're ready.
QUESTION: Thanks, sir. A China question, if I may. It's been such a difficult relationship. There have been things that pop up all the time. They're still Americans. There are people with links to the United States, who are being held there. How confident are you that it's going to be smooth sailing, at least through October? Or are you concerned that something could pop up again?
SECRETARY POWELL: I've never been good at fortune telling, so I don't know what might pop up. I didn't think the EP- 3 would pop up. I didn't think the Hansen case would pop up with the Russians, but it's the nature of this business. Things happen. In terms of what I can see in the next several months, I see nothing on the horizon that would cause there to be anything but a good atmosphere for the President's visit. We will continue to talk about human rights, and as I said several times we will worry about individual cases - we are not ignoring individual cases, and we will communicate individual cases of concern to them. But I don't want to just leave it there. I want to talk about human rights. Otherwise, you are just always grinding out individual cases. They're important to do. We will do it. I may have a little bit of news for you - I will check, Richard, if I can tell you. Not China. [inaudible] The Vietnamese released Miss Ress. Didn't even know about that one, did you? She is the wife of [inaudible] American. She's Vietnamese and she was detained since the beginning of the year. Richard, if we can get the exact details for you. But we have been pushing that case because they had not been forthcoming enough with respect to Consular access, so we started pushing that one a couple of months ago and I started pushing it hard about a month ago and squeezing them for Consular access and letting her husband get a visa to go in and see her. And they started doing all that. Then they took a hard look at it. When I was in Vietnam the other day they said that they thought they would be able to process her out shortly and we just got confirmation in the last twenty-four hours that she's being released.
QUESTION: What were the charges against her?
SECRETARY POWELL: I'll give it to you. She did something that was considered inimical to state security, or something like that. We'll get the specifics for you. It'll take a little bit, but I don't see anything that would derail right now. They've got everything out of their system they wanted to talk to: Taiwan arms sales - is it our One-China policy - they got all their markers down. Got that all out of the way. Interestingly they did not make - now that I think of it on reflection - they did not press, except perhaps passing at one point all of the transit problems. They didn't focus on that at all. [inaudible] Taiwan. They didn't really press that one. Taiwan, One-China policy and arms sales were of concern to them. And the strong message was 'Let's not let Taiwan - let's not let this situation get out of control because it is not in anyone's interest. So, let's be careful of what we do. Let's talk to each other. Let's consult and let's make sure that everybody understands the volatility of the Taiwan issue.
QUESTION: On the non proliferation issues, on the non-proliferation talks with China, did you come away with the idea that they are looking for you to actually begin processing these satellite licenses, until they are going to move forward with some of their missile export control regimes? And can you talk about, is it turning into a quid pro quo at this point?
SECRETARY POWELL: The agreement we made with them last November was that, if they would do the things we thought were necessary, we would return to normal processing of these licenses. But one of the cases we brought to their attention is of such a nature that the waiver, some of the waivers that the President would have to issue in order to go forward in all the processing, would be difficult for him to do. It's not so much a quid pro quo, it's part of the process that's in place for the approval of these licenses.
QUESTION: Can you give us perspective on the input you had in terms of the American scholars, American [inaudible] scholars, in the run-up to whatever happened in China over the last week?
SECRETARY POWELL: They were aware of our interest in the cases. They also were aware of a great deal of Congressional and family interest in the cases. And of course the media had covered the cases quite extensively. So they came to the conclusion that it was wise to resolve these cases in a timely manner. But I don't want to speak for them or try to judge for you the judgments they made. They found it in their interests to resolve these quickly.
QUESTION: President Bush, largely to distinguish this administration's China policy from the previous one, often has used this expression "strategic competitor". I'm just curious if you can describe what that really means? What is the difference between this administration's policy and the previous one's [policy]?
SECRETARY POWELL: The previous administration sort of honed in on "strategic partner," which seemed to us to be a little bit too strong a statement for an emerging relationship with a country that really does not share our value system entirely, and where we still had some differences. And so I have been-I used "strategic competitor" when I first became Secretary to say there are areas that we have disagreements in and we may have interests that do not coincide, and we may find ourselves competing in the region. I didn't mean that in a warlike sense, it's just that, to sort of contrast from a "partnership." Subsequently though, in recent discussions, I've tried not to focus on a single label, because what I discovered is something that I really knew before and have now rediscovered, is that the relationship is so complex with so many different elements to it that it's probably wiser not to capture it with a single word or a single term or a single cliché. And then you try to shove everything that happens, everything that comes up, every incident, through the filter of that cliché or that statement. We may find a term in due course that will capture all of that, but I prefer to not use the language of a single term.
QUESTION: You say that you expect the payment issue for the EP-3 to be solved soon. Is that because you've sent them back a bill and the balance is due, or can you give us a bit of detail about that?
SECRETARY POWELL: No. Obviously we're reviewing the bill. Just as you go over your bills, I trust. We're looking over the bill, and in due course we'll respond. We had an agreement to pay certain costs and so the answer is not zero. It's what those costs are that we think we are obligated to pay is the issue. But I don't think this will be an extended problem or something that's going to be a big concern.
QUESTION: Your presentation on missile defense was the first time that the Chinese had heard what the Bush Administration plans-
SECRETARY POWELL: No, not really.
QUESTION: from a senior person. No?
SECRETARY POWELL: Secretary Kelly... [inaudible]
QUESTION: In any event, their replies, in their answers back, what seemed to be of most concern to them, the undermining of their nuclear deterrent, or the fact that, that Taiwan would get theater missile defense? And with which official did you discuss this most? Which official gave you most of the Chinese concerns?
SECRETARY POWELL: It was the major agenda item at lunch with Foreign Minister Tang, and I went on at some length. They listened and responded with a question or two. It was not an in-depth discussion. They really did not want to belabor the discussion with their side, other than to say, to make it clear to me that they do not think we are moving in the right direction, and they still think the ABM Treaty is at the cornerstone of strategic stability. But they're listening, and I would guess that their major concern is what it means to their strategic deterrent force. Obviously they're also always interested in what Taiwan might do or how it might become a part of this or not become a part of it. But I would say their first concern is their strategic deterrent force.
QUESTION: Do you expect them to go ahead very fast with their program of accelerating-
QUESTION: What can you share with us that would give us a sense as to why you might be optimistic that the relationship with China is back on track, beyond the fact that they've agreed to talk? That could just be a reason to stall, they're going to talk on the expert level, on the MTCR issues and also on the human rights discussion, but what gives you the reason that this is something that's moving in the right direction?
SECRETARY POWELL: Because I think they are very anxious to have a good and constantly improving relationship with the United States as they gain access in the WTO. They understand the importance of economics and trade. And all that you saw up and down that main street comes from being part of the international economic community. And the centerpiece of that trade and that economic world is the United States, the largest economy in the world, the biggest purchaser. Forty percent of their exports go to the United States. This is not a relationship you want to see soured. So they have every incentive, I think, to put it back on the right track with us. They were also anxious to get the EP-3 incident behind us. The way in which they handled these three cases. Here's a little color: in the meeting with Foreign Minister Tang, we had a good discussion of all of the issues. Then at the end of the meeting before we broke for lunch, it was Foreign Minister Tang who said, now here's what I think we agreed to do with respect to future cooperation and meetings. And he listed all of the things that we had covered in the narrative discussion. The experts meeting, the human rights meeting, they were all said in the course of the meeting but it was his desire to sort of list them. And then when he did that I said, well then, I'm going to make a point of announcing all of them this afternoon. And-I forgot, it wasn't in the joint press announcement, I said we should [inaudible] and then he said, we'll both announce them this afternoon. So they were anxious to show movement. And it's more that just, let's start talking again; it's talking in areas that we haven't been talking in a year or so. In the case of human rights, it was since the embassy incident. So I think this is an effort on their part to do more. I also think you've got to take a look at the Olympics. This 2008 Olympics is going to be a standard for them. A standard that they're going to have to rise to over the next seven years of what the world is expecting to see in Beijing in 2008. So for all these reasons I think they are very anxious to have a constantly improving relationship with the United States. And we are similarly inclined, because it is in our interest to have such a relationship.
QUESTION: You talked about the EP-3 incident being behind us. Are you confident now that incidents like this are behind us? Are there new rules in effect for this sort of - are there new rules in the game now?
SECRETARY POWELL: We continue to need reconnaissance. We continue to fly our missions. We have had discussions with them and said, you know, let's use proper rules when we're up there. And of course another agreement that came out is to have the MMCA meet next month, where they discuss this kind of thing. And so we've gone back to normal procedures where-stay away, don't put these 20 year olds in a position where something can happen. These are young people and they're good, but let's not press the envelope that way again. And so far, since we resumed reconnaissance flights, we haven't seen anything like the kinds of things we had been seeing before. So we're seeing behavior.
(end transcript)
(Distributed by the Office of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site:

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