Press Briefing Aboard Aircraft En Route To Shanghai
Secretary Colin L. Powell
Aboard the Secretary’s Aircraft
October 17, 2001
SECRETARY POWELL: Who wants first?
SECRETARY POWELL: I have been talking with my staff back in Washington and they have been in touch with both sides. The
Palestinian Authority put out a strong statement condemning the assassination. At the time they put it out it was still
an assassination attempt because the minister hadn’t died but he has subsequently died. So, it is a very serious
situation and I’ll make additional calls when I land. Our Consul General in Jerusalem is in direct touch as well as
Ambassador Kurtzer. My staff is following it in Washington. I have been in touch with some foreign leaders already –
Minister Fischer. I’ll be doing more calls when I get on the ground.
SECRETARY POWELL: Well, I’ll wait and see. I’ll get on the ground and get recommendations from my staff, get the state
of play and then I’ll make my judgments.
QUESTION: Are you hoping to close a deal with the Russians on this trip on ABM amendments so that it can get done before
the two presidents meet?
SECRETARY POWELL: I think we’re going to have good discussions and a number of things have been teed up for my
conversations with Igor Ivanov tomorrow night and for the president’s conversations with Mr. Putin on Sunday, but I
would not expect that we would arrive at closure on the strategic framework issues on this trip. But, certainly, we’ll
be moving the ball quite a bit further down the field before approaching Crawford in about three weeks time, I guess or
almost a month later.
QUESTION: Could you say anything about what is teed up? What do you mean by --
SECRETARY POWELL: We have had a number of meetings and exchanges with the Russians on the strategic framework and the
issues within the strategic framework. I don’t have anything that I want to announce tonight or say tonight with respect
to what they may be talking about on Sunday which you will hear from them.
QUESTION: We know that the last meeting with the Chinese was disappointing on proliferation issues. Are you going to be
talking with them on this? And, how do you expect to push them on this issue without their going to be a little bit more
productive on this ahead of the President’s visit there?
SECRETARY POWELL: Her question has to do principally with the November agreement of last year, and we have been in
discussions with the Chinese ever since my visit. Now what needs to be done to satisfy that agreement, the
grandfathering issue, the issue of export controls, and the issue having to do with our ability to waive certain
sanctions in order for them to go forward with the satellite purchases. We have not received satisfaction and, in fact,
as a result of that we imposed sanctions on one of their companies, as you recall, SEMAC, a few weeks back. There has
been no additional progress, and I am sure it’s something that I will find time to discuss with my Chinese colleagues.
SECRETARY POWELL: We talked about it before and sometimes you just keep working on a problem, keep chipping away and
ultimately you hope that you arrive at a solution. So, we’ll keep working on it but we have not abandoned the position
that we have taken because we think that the elements in an agreement are important. If they want to move forward with
respect to that kind of technology from us those conditions have to be met.
QUESTION: What concrete steps do you hope will come out of tomorrow’s terrorism roundtable among APEC foreign ministers?
SECRETARY POWELL: I think we will have a good breakfast discussion, and then as you know statements are being prepared
for the leaders. I think we’ll come out with a pretty strong joint statement that will reflect the cohesion of the
coalition, that it is standing together in this time of crisis. I have detected no weakening in the political commitment
that leaders have made. I think that the discussions at APEC both at ministerial and at leaders’ level will reflect that
and will be reflected in the statements that will come out.
QUESTION: Just to follow up, what will you be looking for in terms of contributions to the campaign against terrorism
and also toward a future in Afghanistan?
SECRETARY POWELL: As you know, every nation is making a contribution in a way that is appropriate for them. In some
cases it is just diplomatic and political support and in other cases it’s a contribution of military forces. The
Australians made a very strong statement by their commitment of military forces which Prime Minister Howard, I think it
was yesterday or today, I can’t recall, I’m losing what day we are in.
Most of the arrangements that we make like that are bilateral or within the NATO context. I don’t know that we have any
specific requests to put before any of the nations that will be here that we have not already put before them. I’m not
expecting any significant additional announcements of troop contributions or other elements of support that we are not
already aware of, but my Pentagon colleagues are hard at work while I have been traveling through south Asia. If
something comes up I will be sure to let you know.
QUESTION: Aren’t these statements already done? So what do you talk about? Similar to OAS and UN, etc?
SECRETARY POWELL: No, you would be surprised. You can get very intense discussions on the statement and whether or not
someone wants to make a modification or a change to the statement. Most of the diplomatic conferences I’ve gone to
involve not the whole statement, but a sentence in the statement or a word in the statement or the shaping of a
statement. I think we’ll have a chance to talk.
QUESTION: So you’re heading to East Asia. Months ago you were very confident that North Korea would come around, that
you would open discussions with them. That was more than four months ago. Do you expect that the issue will come up?
And, what do you suppose is going through the North Korean minds these days in four months without a response.
SECRETARY POWELL: I think eventually the North Koreans will respond in a way that will allow us to go forward because I
don’t think they have any other choice or future. Their economy doesn’t get any better. Their agricultural situation
doesn’t get any better. I cannot predict when they will make that decision and I cannot pretend to get inside the mind
of the leadership circle or the mind of Kim Jong Il. So we will have to wait and see.
I think perhaps the events of the 11th of September have caused them to slow down their decision process. As you know,
they are on a list of states that sponsor terrorism and I think things were slowed down by the events of the 11th of
September. I will look forward to the discussions that the President will have with President Kim Dae Jung. Maybe we
will get some better insight into North Korean thinking. As you know, they have also pulled back on some of the
commitments they have made to the South Koreans with respect to travel back and forth. There is something churning going
In dealing with the North Koreans it’s going to be a long-term, slow process but I think it has to move in a positive
direction because of the severe needs that exist within that country.
QUESTION: On a step from A to Z, if A in Afghanistan is this political vacuum that you fear and Z is some sort of
functioning parliament, whatever broad-based government you form, I’d like to know what you’re thinking about how you
get from A to Z?
SECRETARY POWELL: We may see a political vacuum immediately or sort of a deteriorating situation that leads to a
political vacuum. And I think what you are going to need, as I said before, is some sort of broad-based assemblage of
individuals and leaders representing all aspects of Afghan society who will come together with a common purpose and
perhaps using the position of the king as a rallying point and, from that, let them come up with some ideas of how they
wish to be governed in the future. Then use the United Nations as the facilitating body that will help them go back into
the country. Provide a sense of order and have the UN perhaps perform some interim role as they are organizing
themselves and gathering their strength and developing the capability they need to govern themselves.
It’s not something that the United States or any other nation is going to be able to dictate. I think it’s something
that we have to help them with, something that we have to help them get organized, support, and use international bodies
as has been used in the past in other situations, Cambodia, East Timor, not that those are models. This one is rather
unique. The UN has experience in doing this kind of thing and Mr. Brahimi is quite experienced in this regard as well.
QUESTION: On Chechnya, there have been a number of interesting statements, ambivalent developments in the past few
weeks. What do you expect you will be saying to Igor Ivanov tomorrow evening about Chechnya?
SECRETARY POWELL: I think we will be encouraging them as we have in the past to seek a political solution, to move
aggressively toward a political solution and to not think that it can be solved militarily. Once again to recognize that
even though we are anxious to work with them and we recognize that they have to fight terrorist activities in Chechnya,
they have to do it in a way that reflects a solid consideration of human rights and accountability for past atrocities
that we know took place. Not every Chechen who is in a resistance mode is necessarily a terrorist. We have to make some
distinctions and judgments and ultimately the only way it can be sorted out and brought to ground is with a political
QUESTION: You leave South Asia having wrapped up the framework for opposed help on government. What happens next in
specific terms? And, secondly, now can you reflect a little bit on Iran and say that they will be part of the coalition
or help you and the fact that you know have all the countries around Afghanistan playing a set role?
SECRETARY POWELL: What was the first question? You know, the military campaign will continue, and we hope that all the
pressure that is being brought to bear on the Taliban will produce results as soon as possible.
QUESTION: What’s next for you to do?
SECRETARY POWELL: For me to do? We are pushing in on all fronts. We are working on the military campaign. I’m continuing
to work with coalition members to see if there are more things that they can do and to encourage them to remain
steadfast and they are doing so. I will be also working with the United Nations with respect to the question asked
earlier about how we create a grouping that can come together. I will be spending time on the humanitarian issue because
winter is approaching. Ramadan is approaching. Also, thinking not just about humanitarian relief but beyond that, the
rebuilding of Afghanistan. Helping these people to reconstruct a life for themselves. This isn’t the United States going
in and nation-building with troops. This is helping the international community helping the people of Afghanistan to
create hopeful conditions within the country so that they are not vulnerable to this kind of a threat again in the
QUESTION: What about Iran?
SECRETARY POWELL: Iran has always been hostile toward the Taliban and as you know we have been in touch with them
through various channels and we are exchanging some ideas and information. I think you saw an administration spokesman
indicate that they have even indicated to us that they would be willing to perform and ready to perform search and
rescue missions. I don’t think that will become necessary because I can’t envision us needing it in that part of the
theater but that was an interesting statement on their part.
When you go from Iran and clockwise around Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Pakistan and come all the way around,
they are surrounded with no friends in that surrounding neighborhood as my Indian colleague liked to call it. I think
this has been putting incredible pressure on this regime. We are going after their money. It will be hard to find it all
but I’m sure that’s having an effect already. They are being subjected to a military campaign and we’ll just keep
QUESTION: Are there examples of what the UN has been able to do in the past?
SECRETARY POWELL: East Timor and Cambodia are examples of what the UN has done in the past but I would not say that is a
model that you would say, I would use the Cambodian model or the East Timoran model in Afghanistan. I think it is quite
different. It shows, East Timor, Cambodia, or you can go to Bosnia or Kosovo, you can look at all of the previous
The UN has quite a great deal of experience in going in and helping with this kind of a situation. Cambodia, they went
into absolute chaos. They had a king. I don’t want to give you the impression that we are going to take the Cambodian
model because there was a king there and there is a king here, and therefore that’s the model. I’m just saying there are
examples of the UN having successfully done this kind of thing in the past, and therefore they bring qualifications to
this kind of situation to do it again in the future. I’m not suggesting that any one of the countries I mentioned is a
model for Afghanistan.
SECRETARY POWELL: I think there probably will be a role for peacekeepers of some kind and that is part of our
Released on October 18, 2001