Secretary of State Colin Powell
Interview with Paula Zahn on CNN
Washington, D.C.
October 10, 2001
7:11 A.M. EDT

QUESTION: The Secretary of State is taking time out from his very busy schedule to join us this morning. Welcome, sir. Good to have you with us.

SECRETARY POWELL: Thank you. Good morning, Paula.

QUESTION: Sir, let's talk a little bit about the concern the Administration has over this latest taped statement from the al-Qaida network. Do you believe it has a coded message in it?

SECRETARY POWELL: Well, I don't know. That's why analysts are looking at it. But I think it is responsible on the part of CNN to shade that a little bit, so we don't have it coming full force at us, and with the potential of perhaps conveying some kind of message. So I congratulate CNN for taking that step.

QUESTION: On its surface, though, are you able to tell us what concerns you the most?

SECRETARY POWELL: What concerns me the most is that there is still this terrorist organization called al-Qaida that is at work but, at the same time, I am very, very satisfied that the campaign President Bush has put together and is leading, that has been joined by so many nations around the world, so many international organizations, is correctly aimed at the heart of al-Qaida, to make sure we rip this network up, not only in Afghanistan but wherever it is located around the world, and that we get to the leader of this organization, Usama bin Laden.

But remember, it is also a campaign against all forms of terrorism. And that, I think, is what has been especially useful in pulling the whole world together, this recognition that terrorism is something we all have to attack wherever it occurs throughout the world.

QUESTION: And, Mr. Secretary, as you have gotten through the first phase of this campaign, a letter was sent to the UN Security Council reserving the right to strike against other countries in the war on terrorism. And yesterday, Senator John McCain was on the air here, where he says it is a possibility the US and its allies could be striking Iran, Iraq, Syria and Sudan among other nations. Can you comment on that this morning?

SECRETARY POWELL: I am not going to speculate on what might happen in the future. I don't think that would be useful. The President has clearly said that the first focus of this campaign is on al-Qaida and Usama bin Laden in Afghanistan and in the other places where al-Qaida is located throughout the world. But the President has reserved the right to follow terrorism to its sources. And to those nations that harbor or provide haven to terrorists, they do so at their risk. And that is where we have placed our policy, and I think it is on a sound foundation. We will see what comes in the future.

With respect to that particular sentence in the letter that we presented to the UN, it is merely a statement of policy that has been there from the very beginning. The President reserves the right to examine what else might be necessary to go after worldwide terrorism.

QUESTION: So if you believe the letter was routine, did you know that letter was going out to the UN?

SECRETARY POWELL: I was aware that we were providing a letter to the United Nations consistent with our responsibilities to do so under Article 51.

QUESTION: And are any other nations in the coalition concerned about what is stated in this letter?

SECRETARY POWELL: Some nations were not expecting that particular sentence, but it is not a source of any friction or problem with the members of the coalition.

QUESTION: So are there any weak links in the coalition this morning?

SECRETARY POWELL: No. None. No weak links. I think the coalition is in good shape. People keep saying it is going to fracture, it's going to come apart, it's going to get weaker. But, in fact, it has been getting stronger. More and more people recognize that this is a threat not just against the United States but against all civilized nations. And I am very pleased that in the four weeks we have been working on this, the coalition has come together with expressions of support.

Some nations can only give expressions of support. Others want to commit their armed forces to the military part of the campaign. All are contributing with respect to going after financial institutions that provide access to funds for terrorists, and so many are contributing to intelligence sharing. So every member of the coalition has a role to play. Sometimes, it is a very active role, including military contributions. Other times, it is support within international bodies.

QUESTION: Mr. Boucher was hard pressed at a news conference yesterday to come up with an example of support that has been given the United States from Arab or Muslim nations since these military attacks. Can you name some countries this morning, which have publicly stated or at least privately stated to you their support for this ongoing campaign?

SECRETARY POWELL: President Hosni Mubarak stated his support for it yesterday, and support is manifested in many ways. Many of the countries in the region have provided us over-flight, have provided us access to facilities and bases. So I think that's very, very important and that is certainly a sign of their support.

QUESTION: You will be traveling to India and Pakistan next week, and some Pakistani officials have expressed some concern about a long campaign. What kinds of reassurances does Pakistan need right now to ensure the stability of its government?

SECRETARY POWELL: I think the government is quite stable. President Musharraf made a very bold and courageous decision to join the coalition and to work against terrorism. He has paid something of a political price. There are demonstrations in Pakistan. But those demonstrations are quite manageable and don't reflect what's happening throughout the country. And I look forward to meeting with him next week and reassuring him of not only the support of the United States, but the support of the international community to the courageous steps that he has taken and the path that Pakistan has put itself on.

And I also look forward to visiting India where I will have a chance to speak to the Indian leadership, to Prime Minister Vajpayee, about the important role that India is playing in the coalition as well.

QUESTION: Coming back to Pakistan for a moment, President Musharraf indicated earlier this week that he was told this campaign would have a limited time span. Is that the case?

SECRETARY POWELL: I don't know of such a conversation. I am sure he hopes it has a limited time frame; everybody does. But it's not how long it is in time but whether it accomplishes the mission we have for it. And the mission is to do everything we can to destroy al-Qaida bases, to make sure that Taliban military does not interfere with any of our operations, and to do the job that we are intending to do, which is to rip up the al-Qaida network.

So it would be the wish of anyone to see it be a short campaign. But the more important point is that it will be an effective campaign that will do the job that is intended.

QUESTION: I know you've got to be careful about what you tell me now, but can you share anything that you might be talking to the Indian Government about next week in terms of the dispute over Kashmir?

SECRETARY POWELL: I am sure Kashmir will be a subject of discussion. But I think I would prefer to have those discussions with the leaders of India and Pakistan first. And then I'm sure I will have an opportunity to report on the results of that discussion, those discussions.

QUESTION: We'll hold you to that and bring you back, maybe sometime next week.

Thank you again for your time this morning, sir.

SECRETARY POWELL: Thank you, Paula.