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 Home > News & Policies > October 2002

For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
October 26, 2002

Secretary of State Powell Discusses World Issues with Reporters
Press Briefing by Secretary of State Colin Powell
Inter-Continental Hotel
Los Cabos, Mexico

12:40 P.M. (L)

SECRETARY POWELL: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. President Bush has had two very successful meetings since his arrival here in Los Cabos. An excellent bilateral meeting with President Vicente Fox and I think most of you had a chance to listen in to the little press availability they had.

They discussed migration issues, trade issues, the situation in Iraq; just barely touched on the situation with North Korea; recommitted themselves to finding a way forward with respect to migration issues that both Presidents are so deeply interested in.

In the trilateral meeting with the Japanese Prime Minister and the Korean President, Mr. Koizumi and Mr. Kim and the -- excuse me -- and the Korean President was entirely devoted to the issue of North Korea. And you have received now a trilateral statement expressing the views of the three leaders with respect to the situation in North Korea.

And I would draw your attention to the fact that we are in close consultation not only with our South Korean and Japanese colleagues, but also with the Chinese leadership, as you know from the meetings in Crawford yesterday, and the Russian leadership. And we are all working together to make it clear to the North Korean leadership that the nuclear program that they have now acknowledged exists in violation of their agreements under the agreed framework and other agreements, must be dismantled.

I think this is not only the expectation of the three leaders referenced in the statement, but it is the expectation of the international community and we will continue to coordinate closely in the days and weeks ahead as we try to find a solution to this problem.

I'm prepared for your questions.

Q The statement talks about South Korean DPRK consultations and Japanese DPRK consultations. It says nothing about U.S. DPRK consultations. Could you address that?

SECRETARY POWELL: We have no plans right now for a meeting with DPRK. Mr. Kelly when he went over a few weeks ago, that was the beginning of dialogue following up from my initial meeting in Brunei with the North Korean Foreign Minister. But we have no meetings planned.

Both the Japanese and the South Koreans intend to continue with the consultations they have underway and both leaders reaffirmed today that during the course of those consultations the issue of enriched uranium capacity and production and technology will be uppermost on their minds as they go into these consultations -- and, in fact, until this issue is resolved, the other benefits from such consultations or the kinds of agendas they have been following will not be fulfilled.

Q Sir, a senior administration official told us on Air Force One this morning that the strategy will be to isolate North Korea. Could you characterize that isolation? Will it be political, would it be economic? And this administration has also said it will not reward North Korea for its bad behavior -- but if you're going to solve this diplomatically, won't it eventually involve some sort of negation similar to 1994?

SECRETARY POWELL: Well, North Korea has isolated itself by this action. We were all stunned when they acknowledged the information that we presented to them with respect to their uranium enrichment programs. The intelligence became available to us over the summer. We examined it very carefully, we shared it with our friends and made sure everybody knew we had a problem.

And when Assistant Secretary Kelly went in, as you know the story well, they acknowledged it after first denying it, and by that acknowledgement -- and once again, yesterday, by the statement they put out, which at no point in this rather lengthy statement did they say they were not doing it, and, in fact, even gave the impression toward the end that they felt a need to do it to defend themselves. So they have isolated themselves by their actions. And as a result, the entire international community, I think, is unified in applying pressure on North Korea to dismantle this program.

Now, how that pressure manifests itself I'm sure it will be political pressure, diplomatic pressure. There has not been any level of discussion yet with respect to economic pressure or other sanctions that might be applied. I think it's early for that.

This meeting at Los Cabos is the first opportunity for the leaders of the region to get together -- the Korean leader and the Japanese Prime Minister and the Korean President and the Chinese President -- it's the first chance for all of them to get together and discuss the issue. And the appropriate ministers, myself and my other colleagues, will be following up. I will be in the region about the second week in November and have a chance to review developments at that time.

Q Mr. Secretary. I'm sorry, on the issue of the resolution of this crisis, will it not eventually come down to negotiations similar to 1994? Even though you're saying --

SECRETARY POWELL: I'm sorry. I don't know how it will I don't know how it will resolve itself, but there's one thing that is absolutely clear. They violated agreements they had entered into. And so that violation has to be dealt with. You can't violate an agreement and then show up and say, we violated this agreement, what will you pay us for this violation in order to get out of the violation.

And so, at this point, with the I mean, this is all of us together thinking in like manner, that we have to find a solution. But if you look at the statement, it says that North Korea is expected to dismantle this program. It doesn't say that we will do something beforehand. It says North Korea must dismantle this program. And so I think that answers your second question.

Q Do you see this week as the moment of truth on a resolution on Iraq? The U.S. apparently intends to bring this to a vote later in the week. And where do you think we stand?

SECRETARY POWELL: I think this is a very key week coming up. We have had intense discussions among the foreign ministers and among the permanent representatives of the Security Council in New York. Both sides have tried to understand the position of the other side, if I could break it into there are really two sides to this issue. And we have reached the point where we have to make a few fundamental decisions in the early part of next week and go forward. We can't continue to have a debate that never ends.

And so I've been in touch with my Foreign Minister colleagues this morning, once again -- French Foreign Minister, Russian Foreign Minister, the British Foreign Secretary. And also I had a brief word with the Chinese Foreign Minister this morning, who is here. And so we all agree that it is time to bring the remaining issues to a head for resolution, if possible. If resolution is not possible, then let's come to that realization and move forward.

So I think this is an important week. I can't tell you it will all be cleaned up this week, but we just can't continue to have a rolling debate without end.

Q So is it your sense that at the end of this week we will know whether it is a U.N. or the U.S. and its allies who will --

SECRETARY POWELL: No, I wouldn't go that far. We'll just say this is a key week coming up. We have -- we've listened, we have contributed ideas, we have heard ideas contributed by our colleagues. We're working in a spirit of -- it's an understanding that we have a common problem: Iraq has violated these resolutions, no question about it. Iraq must be held to account, no question about it. There must be a tougher inspection regime than the regime that they have previously frustrated and broke up. And I don't think there's any doubt the that threat of force and the threat of consequences as a result of continued violation and misbehavior must be there or we know that Iraq will not respond.

And so I think those are common elements that everybody agrees to. How to package it in a way that is satisfactory to all the members of the Council, that's what we're working on.

Q The senior administration official who briefed on the President's plane this morning said that the United States was looking for a condemnation of the North Korean action in this statement. I don't see any condemnation; it doesn't outline any particular action; it doesn't declare existing agreements null and void. And as you said, just that they will continue -- the other two parties will continue with their cooperation agreements with North Korea while making this an important part of it. Is this less than the United States was expecting?

SECRETARY POWELL: No, I really can't talk to that. This is a statement that we've been working on for several days, and it represents our position of what we wanted out of this conference, out of this meeting between the three leaders, Kim Dae-jung and Prime Minister Koizumi. So we're happy with the statement. And it reflects the current thinking not only, frankly, among the three, but I would say that if you talk to some of the other others, such as the Chinese and the Russians, this is close to what they would also sign up to.

I think we're also working to see whether or not a statement will come out of APEC, but I don't want to speak to that yet.

Q Were we looking for a specific condemnation?

SECRETARY POWELL: I can't talk to what the senior official might have said. I know that the statement that you have in front of you know pretty much reflects what I and my staff have been working on for the last several days.

Q Mr. Secretary, can you tell us a few more things on North Korea here? There's no specific reference in it to economic isolation -- which, of course, many in the administration have been talking about. Is it your understanding that China, Russia, or even Japan or South Korea will continue economic interchange while these discussions about the nuclear facilities go on? And I have a follow-up to that.

SECRETARY POWELL: I don't want to speak for the others. Let me just say that we are beginning we are in a beginning phase of this resolution, to find a resolution to this problem, and there are lots of tools that are available to us. And we want to make sure that we move deliberately, we move with patience, that we do not create a crisis in the region, but that we move with determination, that their program must be dismantled.

And so in the days and weeks ahead, as we see the response that comes from the North Koreans, in concert with all of our friends, we will come to judgments as to whether other actions are appropriate, either of an economic, political or diplomatic nature. I don't anticipate any military action or military moves.

We have said previously, and the President made this clear when he visited the region in the early part of the year, we have no intention of invading North Korea or taking hostile action against North Korea. Our position with respect to North Korea is clear. And Secretary Kelly delivered that position when he went to Pyongyang: if you will stop nuclear proliferation activities, if you will stop with these missile development activities, if you will do something about the large conventional force that hangs over the 38th parallel, then there are great opportunities for you to benefit from a willing world that wants to help you get out of the economic distress you're in and the poverty that your people are suffering under.

Q If I could just follow-up on that. Have you asked Pakistan or China or Russia to begin to delineate what kind of aid they or their countries might have provided to the North Koreans to get a fuller picture of it? And have they also given you any assurances about their continued aid, cutting that off?

SECRETARY POWELL: I don't know that I can answer the question with respect to who might have provided what in the past. In one direct conversation I've had on this subject with the President of Pakistan, he assured me, he said 400 percent assurance that there is no such interchange taking place now of any kind between Pakistan --

Q Now or in the past?

SECRETARY POWELL: I said now, yes -- or in the future.

Q But you did not refer to the past in any conversation?

SECRETARY POWELL: I didn't -- we didn't talk about the past. We're talking about now and the future. The past is a subject of intelligence analysis with sources and methods, and I don't want to get into who might have done what, when and at what point in history.

Q Mr. Secretary, you talked about the six weeks of diplomacy on the Iraq resolution and, yet, in the last 24 hours at least four countries that will have a vote on the Security Council -- Mexico, Russia, China and France -- have either opposed the resolution or resisted a public opportunity to embrace it. Can you tell us whether it's as bad as it looks publicly, or whether you can point to any sign of the progress that has been made in the last six weeks that would give any hope that this resolution might actually pass?

SECRETARY POWELL: A lot of progress has been made in the last six weeks. And I don't want to say that we're near a solution because it may evade us. But I think we have successfully narrowed down the differences to a few key issues. And if we can resolve these few key issues in the days ahead, then I think we might get a resolution that will be strong.

Everybody is committed to getting a strong resolution. A weak resolution would not serve the interest of the United Nations, it would not disarm Iraq, and I think it would be an abject failure. So I think everybody is committed to a strong resolution and we have narrowed down the differences considerably. It remains to be seen whether we can resolve those remaining differences.

Q What are the sticking points?

SECRETARY POWELL: How you characterize future Iraqi violations in the presence of a new resolution, how you characterize it and what happens once it has been characterized.

Q Mr. Secretary, what is the U.S. hearing from Mexico in regard to Mexico's position on the Iraq resolution? And what is Mexico hearing from the U.S. in regards to Mexico's impatience for moving on immigration?

SECRETARY POWELL: The President had a very good discussion with President Fox with respect to Iraq. As you indicated, Mexico is a member of the Security Council and President Fox understands how important we view this issue. And I'm sure the Mexicans are examining it very carefully. I stay in very close touch with Secretary Castaneda, and we've had a number of discussions in recent weeks about it. But I wouldn't prejudge now to say how the Mexicans might vote or not vote.

And they clearly have the same objective, the disarmament of Iraq. But I don't want to speak to how -- what vote they how they might vote.

Q And immigration?

SECRETARY POWELL: Migration? Yes, both Presidents came into office the beginning of last year committed to migration reform. They both remain committed and they reaffirmed that commitment this morning.

Nine-eleven clearly has slowed down the momentum, and we hope that as the effects of 9/11 pass and as we get back to a more normal life, and as we bring our homeland unto a firmer basis of security, we have a better idea of how to protect our homeland. And with the emergence of a homeland security department, I think that some of the concerns that Americans have and the Congress has had with respect to migration issues, we might be in a better position next year to deal with their concerns and to move forward with our migration agenda.

Foreign Minister Castaneda and I, Foreign Secretary Castaneda and I will be meeting in November with a binational commission and we will review the bidding at that time and see what we can do over the next year.

Q What can you tell us about Russia's use of gas in breaking up that hostage siege --

SECRETARY POWELL: I don't know the details of the military operation and police operation, so I don't think I'd better comment on it because I just don't know. I am glad that the crisis has been resolved but, at the same time, I regret the loss of innocent life.

And once again, it demonstrates that terrorism can strike anywhere and we have to be on guard. And that's why the leaders here at APEC are going to spend some of their time once again talking about terrorism. There's no country that is immune, there is no country that is not a potential victim of terrorism. And that's why it has to be an international crusade of the kind that President Bush launched after 9/11 and is now leading.

Thank you very much.

Q One more? Have the Chinese you said you spoke with the Chinese Foreign Minister. Have the Chinese indicated they don't really have any problem with the latest proposed U.S. resolution on Iraq?

SECRETARY POWELL: I think they are studying our latest proposals very carefully and I don't want to -- I can't go so far as to say they have no problems with it. But I think we are getting closer with respect to the Chinese position.

Thank you.

END 12:57 P.M. MDT