Secretary Colin L. Powell
March 26, 2003
(11:00 a.m. EST)
QUESTION: We are on air now. Mr. Secretary, thank you very
much, indeed, for joining us and welcome to Al Jazeera. Mr.
Secretary, the Security Council is meeting today amidst efforts
by some Arab countries. Do you think Washington will comply
if any resolution to that effect comes out?
SECRETARY POWELL: Well, I don't know that any resolution
will come out of the meeting. My understanding right now is
that is an open session and an opportunity for the various
nations to express their points of view.
So we will watch it carefully, but right now our policy is
to continue to prosecute this conflict until we can bring
it to a successful conclusion as quickly as possible and then
get about the task of rebuilding Iraq from all of the years
of devastation caused by Saddam Hussein's regime; and we can
start humanitarian supplies coming in and can get about the
process of providing a better life for the people of Iraq.
QUESTION: But Mr. Secretary, if the situation gets more complicated
and it moves to the General Assembly, what will Washington
SECRETARY POWELL: Well, I can't predict that it's going to
the General Assembly or what the General Assembly might choose
What we are going to do is to continue to prosecute this
conflict in order to bring it to an end as quickly as possible
and begin the process of putting in place a new authority
in Baghdad that will represent the views of all of the people
of Iraq and allow us to start using the wealth of Iraq to
benefit the people of Iraq.
So we are interested in concluding this conflict, not having
a pause right now or stopping right now, but concluding this
as quickly as possible so we can get on with the rebuilding
of Iraq and putting in place a better system of governance
-- a government that will live in peace with its neighbors
and not waste the oil treasure of Iraq on weapons of mass
destruction and suppression of the people of Iraq under a
dictatorial regime such as Saddam Hussein's.
QUESTION: So briefly, Mr. Secretary, can we say that the
United States will not respond positively to any call for
SECRETARY POWELL: We see no indication of such a call coming
out of the United Nations. We'll see what the United Nations
does, but right now we have set our course rather clearly.
We tried to avoid this conflict. We did everything we could
to get Saddam Hussein to comply. He did not. And under relevant
UN resolutions, we believe serious consequences had to befall
that regime. And now that the war has begun -- the conflict
has begun -- we are going to see it through to its conclusion
as quickly as possible, and a pause or a ceasefire would serve
no purpose at this time. It would merely delay the inevitable
and give Saddam Hussein some chance to believe that he could
avoid the serious consequences that he has caused to befall
his regime. And the sooner we finish this conflict without
a pause, quickly as possible, the sooner we get on to restoring
stability within the country, bringing the humanitarian and
healthcare supplies in, and providing for a better life for
the Iraqi people. A pause or a ceasefire will not lead to
a successful outcome that will allow us to begin rebuilding
QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, the areas that the American coalition
forces say they are under control like Umm Qasr and others
go through a vacuum of power which may disrupt the lives of
the civilians. What are you doing to manage the situation?
SECRETARY POWELL: We do understand that there would be a
period of disruption and that is why we have units coming
in behind the advancing units to begin to restore order until
we can put civilian authority back in place. But as you may
have noticed already in Umm Qasr, and you will see it increasingly
as more and more areas are secured, we are working to provide
humanitarian aid, restoring water service and doing everything
else we can to stabilize the situation and let the people
understand that they are in no danger.
We come to help them, not to oppress them. We come to give
them a chance for a better life, not to take away their freedom
or in any way harm them.
QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, we heard that there are some contacts
with your counterparts in the Arab world. Have you reached
any agreement on anything yet?
SECRETARY POWELL: I stay in close contact with all of my
colleagues in the Arab world, and I have conveyed to them
what our strategy is to conduct this war in as effective a
way as we can, doing everything we can to minimize casualties,
minimize damage to property; and I think we've done that very
well although there will be accidents that we do everything
to avoid, but nevertheless occur. So I've tried to make our
position clear, and we followed very closely the meeting of
the Arab League ministers the other day, and I followed their
activities closely and read the declaration that they issued.
But they also know that we are committed to completing this
conflict, finishing this as quickly as we can, and not causing
a delay or a pause that would merely give encouragement to
Saddam Hussein that somehow he could avoid justice and the
fate that he has brought upon himself.
QUESTION: Mr. Colin Powell, Secretary of State from Washington,
thank you very much, indeed, for joining us this evening.
Thank you, sir.
SECRETARY POWELL: You're welcome.