of State Colin Powell
Irish Foreign Minister Brian Cowen
September 26, 2001
SECRETARY POWELL: Well, good morning, ladies and gentlemen. It has been my pleasure
today to host my Irish colleague, Foreign Minister Cowen. We just had a very
productive discussion and, in that discussion, I had the opportunity to thank
the Minister and his Prime Minister and the Irish people for the outpouring
of support that we received as a result of the tragedy on the 11th of September.
It meant a great deal to us to be joined by our Irish brothers and sisters in
recognizing the enormity of this tragedy. I especially want to thank the Irish
people for the day of mourning that they held on the 14th of September, the
Friday after the 11th of September. It showed a remarkable demonstration of
the love that exists between our two peoples and the solidarity that exists
between our two nations.
I also extended my regrets and condolences to the Minister for the loss of his
citizens at the World Trade Center, remembering once again that it is a World
Trade Center that was destroyed by these terrorists. I also made sure the Minister
understood that the President has a commitment to go after terrorism and to
go after these particular terrorists. It is a commitment that will be unwavering
and will be pursued.
I thanked the Minister as well for providing over-flight assistance to the United
States' efforts and that is deeply appreciative and a sign of the commitment
that they have made. As the Minister said to me, we have to go beyond just sentiment
to action. That is particularly appropriate, since Ireland will be in the Chair
of the Security Council beginning on the 1st of October, and we look forward
to working with the Chair as we pursue new resolutions that will assist us in
this struggle against terrorism.
Before introducing the Minister, I just might say a word about the Middle East
situation. I spoke this morning to Prime Minister Sharon, to Foreign Minister
Peres and to Chairman Yasser Arafat to get their perspective of the meetings
that were held this morning between Foreign Minister Peres and Chairman Arafat.
I am pleased that the meeting took place, I am pleased that some progress has
been achieved and that more progress is expected as security meetings begin
So we are at the beginning of a process that I hope will lead quickly into the
Tenet work plan and into the Mitchell process. This is a hopeful sign and I
hope that we can move rapidly through this process so that we can begin to see
confidence-building activities in the region, we can see a cease-fire that really
takes hold, we can improve the lives of the Palestinian people by opening things
up again, and ultimately get back to discussions that will lead to resolution
of the outstanding political issues.
And now, it is my pleasure to introduce my colleague, Foreign Minister Cowen.
FOREIGN MINISTER COWEN: Thank you, Secretary of State. My I first of all thank
the Secretary of State for meeting me and my delegation this morning, as we
prepare to take over Chairmanship of the Security Council on Monday next. I
intimated to the Secretary of State the profound sorrow and regret of the Irish
people at what had happened on September 11th and to assure him of our solidarity
May I also say that we have been greatly impressed by the resolve, obviously,
of the United States Government and its people, but also its restraint, its
methodical efforts at building an international coalition behind efforts to
deal with this phenomenon of international terrorism, which must be dealt with
comprehensively in all respects and in a multifaceted way. And to say to him
that, from our perspective, in terms of our bilateral relations, as members
of the European Union and now taking on Chairmanship of the Security Council
of the United Nations, that we will play our part to ensure that the resolutions
of the United Nations are respected and that they are implemented, and that
we will work with him and work with other members of the Security Council to
make sure that our Chairmanship is a success in that respect and a constructive
contribution to dealing with the phenomenon of terrorism, as we have seen it
portrayed in recent days.
QUESTION: There is great concern in Ireland that everything that happens from
now on should be specifically mandated by the United Nations. Can I ask you,
Secretary, do you believe that you have a mandate from the UN for action in
principle and in terms of the scope, or will you be going back to the UN for
a further mandate?
SECRETARY POWELL: As you know, we have been in touch with many organizations,
the United Nations, NATO, the Organization of Islamic Conferences, the Organization
of American States. So many international organizations have come together to
provide support and to give us opportunities to move forward in this campaign.
The campaign will have a political component to it, a diplomatic component,
financial, intelligence sharing, and there may also be a military component
to the campaign.
At the moment, notwithstanding all of the coalition building we have been doing,
President Bush retains the authority to take whatever actions he believes are
appropriate in accordance with the needs for self-defense of the United States
and of the American people.
We will be going to the UN for additional expressions of support through UN
resolutions but, at the moment, should the President decide that there are more
actions he has to take, he will make a judgment as to whether he needs UN authority
or whether he can just act on the authority inherent in the right of self defense
and consistent with our own laws and regulations and constitutional powers.
QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, the Taliban has today told Afghan people to return
home, on grounds that the United States will not attack, not having evidence
against bin Laden. What's your take on that?
SECRETARY POWELL: I am not going to comment on a Taliban statement. I haven't
heard the statement, and so I think I probably ought to look at it more carefully
before I make a comment on it.