14 September 2001
Excerpt: Diplomatic Stage Being Set for Response to Terrorism
(Secretary Powell speaks about international coalition) (1900)
Secretary of State Powell has ordered all U.S. ambassadors to convey
U.S. resolve and possible needs in preparation to respond to terror.
"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," he
told reporters in Washington September 14.
Powell enumerated his September 13 contacts with leaders in North
Africa, the Middle East and South Asia regions. When asked by
reporters what would be the consequences of failing to assist U.S.
needs, Powell said he anticipated international support would reflect
the capacity and political situation of each country.
However, he warned, "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
Regarding the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians, Powell
expressed hope that their leaders would meet soon for talks.
Asked to comment about the Taliban regime of Afghanistan and indicted
terrorist Usama bin Laden, Powell said, the United States "will have
to take into account not only the perpetrators, but those who provide
haven, support, inspiration, financial and other assets to the
Following are excerpts from the Powell briefing containing his
comments about the U.S. response to terrorism:
SECRETARY POWELL: 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 this morning.
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
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
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'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
QUESTION: And any indications from the Pakistanis, even though there
is no final answer?
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
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 of terrorism.
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 us?
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.
(Distributed by the Office of International Information Programs, U.S.
Department of State. Web site: http://usinfo.state.gov)
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