of State Colin Powell
September 14, 2001
2:15 P.M. EDT
SECRETARY POWELL: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. I will be brief today
because of time constraints, and I have a phone call coming in just a few moments.
So I will give you a short statement of just what we have been doing in the
State Department over the last 24 hours, take a couple of questions, and then
I regret I'll have to leave.
We continue to work hard to build the coalition that you've heard me talking
about for the last several days and to get this campaign plan in place. We talked
about it at the Cabinet meeting this morning. The President is very pleased
with the work that the Cabinet has been doing, and we can start to see the air
traffic system come back up, begin to see the relief efforts picking up speed.
We are very grateful for the resolution that has come from the Senate and the
support that the Congress is giving to our efforts. It shows the United States
as a nation, as a people, coming together in this time of crisis, and showing
our determination to move forward deliberately and decisively to deal with this
particular incident, as well as the broader threat represented by world terrorism.
I have been in touch with a number of officials in addition to the Cabinet meeting
and the very moving memorial service that we just had up at the National Cathedral
earlier in the morning. I spoke to the Foreign Minister of India, Mr. Singh,
and I was very pleased to receive an exceptionally strong statement of support
from the Indian Government. We had heard that previously, but he confirmed it
I have also had conversations with the Portuguese Foreign Minister, the Saudi
Foreign Minister, Moroccan and Tunisian Foreign Ministers, my colleague Foreign
Minister Tanaka of Japan. I'll be speaking to the Israeli Defense Minister in
a few moments, and I have a call in to the Syrian Foreign Minister. And this
will continue throughout the day for me.
But beyond that, we have instructed our ambassadors around the world to go in
and talk to their colleagues in those capitals to let them know how serious
we are about this and begin to set the stage for any other requests we might
have for them with respect to what we do as we go forward.
In addition, our regional assistant secretaries here in the State Department
have been inviting in ambassadors resident here in Washington to discuss the
situation with them and to receive any questions they may have and to pass on
any guidance that we have available to them.
As you know, we are waiting to hear from President Musharraf of Pakistan, and
I am quite encouraged that the Pakistani Government is taking this so seriously
and so deliberately. And our Ambassador is waiting for a reaction from them.
I might also say that I am pleased at the actions of the Australian Government
in activating the ANZUS Treaty as an expression of support, and a little similar
to what NATO did. But those alliances that we hold dear and have used so effectively
to keep us together as friendly nations over these many years, are now, it seems
to me, paying off as people come forward to help us.
I'm also pleased at expressions of support we have received from countries such
as Turkmenistan and Kazakhstan and others are coming in. I don't have all of
them on my list or in my memory, and Richard Boucher will, in the course of
the day, let you know who we have heard from and what kind of responses we have
received from them.
And let me just stop there and take a couple of questions before I have to make
a phone call.
QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, any indications of what the Pakistani -- whether you
get a positive response from Pakistan? You're going to call the Syrian; any
indications yet of their position?
SECRETARY POWELL: Yes. The Syrians, President Assad sent to President Bush a
very strong letter of support and efforts against terrorism. Now, of course
we have had a mixed relationship with Syria over the years, and in the course
of my conversation, hopefully, this afternoon, with my colleague, I'll pursue
the spirit of the letter that President Assad sent to President Bush and see
where that takes us.
QUESTION: And any indications from the Pakistanis, even though there is no final
SECRETARY POWELL: So far I am very encouraged, but I think it's best that I
do wait for a final answer.
QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, Indian media says that that government handed over
some maps to you today of guerilla camps and other training areas that Afghanistan
is said to be using.
Can you confirm that that's --
SECRETARY POWELL: I can't confirm it. I just don't know. Richard can chase that
down for you, but I can't confirm it here. It wasn't mentioned to me in my phone
call at about 9:00 or 9:30 or 10:00, whenever I had it, or about 10:30, I guess
it was, with the Indian Foreign Minister.
QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, we have heard a lot -- yourself and other Cabinet members
and officials say as we reach out to countries and ask for help, you're either
with us or you're against us. Now, of course we hope that all countries would
be with us, but if we ask for something from a country, we ask them to root
out terrorism in all its forms or to provide logistical or any type of other
support that we need for any eventual military response, if they decline, if
they say that they won't do what the US asks, what are the consequences for
"being against us"?
SECRETARY POWELL: I think we have to be careful as we go forward, and we intend
to be. We are talking with countries that are friendly to us and we will present
requests to them and see what they are able to do within their capacity and
within their political circumstances. But if we find a particular country, especially
those that might be serving as a haven or is a well known supporter of this
kind of activity, and they are simply unresponsive, and we deem that unresponsiveness
to be contributing to additional terrorism or to the fertile ground in which
terrorism thrives, then that will certainly affect the kind of relationship
we are going to have with them in the future.
I am not threatening so much as I am saying this has become a new benchmark,
a new way of measuring the relationship and what we can do together in the future
and what kind of support we can provide to you in the future across the whole
range of issues and activities.
QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, for the last two days you've been saying how important
you think it is that despite the events here, the tragic events here, that it
is still very, very important for the Israelis and the Palestinians to have
high-level meetings between Chairman Arafat and Foreign Minister Peres. Now
Prime Minister Sharon has now called that meeting off.
And secondly, you're speaking to the Israeli Defense Minister later. Are you
going to bring up his comments that were quoted in an Israeli newspaper this
morning in which he said that the disasters in New York and here were a catastrophe
for Arafat because the Israelis had killed 14 Palestinians since then and no
one had noticed?
SECRETARY POWELL: I don't know what we will discuss. I haven't seen those comments,
but I know him rather well and I'm sure we'll have many things to discuss. But
I won't prejudge what I might raise or what he might raise and announce it before
he raises it or I raise it.
I would still hope that a way is found for the Israelis and the Palestinians
to meet. When they meet is a judgment for them to make. We have two leaders
who have to judge their own interests. We believe a meeting is important to
get the process started. This conflict isn't going away and I don't think it's
going to be solved by continuing conflict between the two sides. So I hope that
conditions will present themselves soon so that a meeting can begin.
But I think it is also fair to say that the events of the 11th of September
have fundamentally changed the way in which people look at terrorism and acts
QUESTION: Secretary Powell, as your strategy to fight global terrorism begins
to take shape and as these international coalitions that you have been trying
to build solidify, it is obviously a very different war that you are preparing
to fight in that the enemy is not in one country. Could you explain this to
SECRETARY POWELL: Yes. I was raised a soldier and you are trained: there is
the enemy occupying a piece of ground. We can define it in time, space and other
dimensions, and you can assemble forces and go after it. This is different.
The enemy is in many places. The enemy is not looking to be found. The enemy
is hidden. The enemy is very often right here within our own country. And so
you have to design a campaign plan that goes after that kind of enemy, and it
isn't always blunt force military, although that is certainly an option. It
may well be that the diplomatic efforts, political efforts, legal, financial,
other efforts, may be just as effective against that kind of an enemy as would
military force be.
And the point the President made this morning is that the whole Cabinet is involved,
and we are going to use all the tools and weapons at our disposal to fight this
campaign and to win this war.
I only have time for one more, and I apologize.
QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, do you have a message for the Taliban?
SECRETARY POWELL: The message is: To the extent that you are providing havens,
support, encouragement and other resources to organizations such as the organization
headed by Mr. Usama bin Laden that is attacking civilization, that is killing
innocent people -- and I would give this message to any other regime and other
country that might be doing similar things --to the extent that you are doing
these sorts of things, even though we have not yet -- notwithstanding words
like "prime suspect," we have not yet identified Usama bin Laden as
the direct perpetrator, but we have a lot of evidence that is mounting which
will allow us to determine in the near future who it is.
But he certainly is the leader of that kind of organization, and to the extent
that governments such as the Taliban government in Afghanistan supports such
things, you need to understand you cannot separate your activities from the
activity of these perpetrators. And in our response, we will have to take into
account not only the perpetrators, but those who provide haven, support, inspiration,
financial and other assets to the perpetrators, as the President said in his
very first set of remarks some days ago.