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07 September 2003

Powell, Rice Discuss Iraq, North Korea, Middle East, Terrorism

Article on September 7 talk show appearances

By Peggy Hu and David Anthony Denny
Washington File Staff Writers

Washington -- The state of efforts to secure and rebuild Iraq, recent six-party talks with North Korea, and the prospects for peace in the Middle East following the resignation of Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas were among the topics Secretary of State Colin Powell and National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice discussed during various talk show appearances September 7.

The United States wants the United Nations to play "a vital role" in Iraq, Secretary of State Colin Powell said on CBS's "Face the Nation."

The draft resolution on Iraq that the United States is discussing with its fellow U.N. Security Council members outlines "many areas we want the U.N. to work in -- with respect to electoral reform, putting in place an electoral system in Iraq, reconstruction, [and] humanitarian efforts," he said.

Powell noted that currently 28 or 29 other countries are providing troops to help secure and rebuild Iraq.

"This resolution would put an umbrella over that, making it a multinational force with a U.N. mandate, and hopefully that would encourage more countries to contribute troops," he said.

The United States also wants the United Nations "to work with the Coalition Provisional Authority, Ambassador Bremer, and with the Governing Council of Iraq to come up with a political process," Powell said on NBC's "Meet the Press."

"The resolution asks the Governing Council, the Iraqis themselves ... to come up with a plan as to how they want to resume control for their own government, their own country, and on what timetable. It seems to me that's the best way to do it," he said.

Speaking on ABC's "This Week," Powell stressed that the plan for Iraq's transition to self-government "should come from the Iraqi Governing Council," not from the United States or any other member of the U.N. Security Council.

"It is in the interests of the world, and it is certainly the goal of the United States to turn sovereignty back to the Iraqi people for their country and for their destiny as quickly as possible," he said on NBC.

On North Korea, Powell stressed on NBC that the United States seeks "the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula," not the invasion of North Korea or the overthrow of its government.

"Right now our policy is the denuclearization of the peninsula. And then there are many other issues we have that we want to engage our friends on with respect to North Korea -- these criminal activities it participates in, as well as a large army it maintains at the expense of taking care of its people, and its proliferation of missiles and other technologies that could be used to develop weapons of mass destruction," he said.

Powell said on ABC's "This Week" that right now "the first challenge before us is to get North Korea to say clearly that they are prepared to give up entirely their nuclear weapons program in a verifiable manner."

"[T]he only thing they've asked for from us, the United States, is some sort of security assurance," he continued. "Other items with respect to economic assistance, which they've asked other countries for, or other things that might be done as we move down this road, that's not on the table right now."

Speaking on Fox News Sunday, Rice defended the U.S. multilateral approach on North Korea.

"The six-party talks is a great forum for us, because what you had out of that was five states that were unified in their view that the North Koreans have got to give up their ... nuclear program, if they ever hope to enter the international community of states," she said. "The North Koreans had to have heard that message. They had to have seen that they are isolated on this front. We will see what they do. But anything that they do that continues to try and escalate this only deepens their isolation."

President Bush "has put in place a fundamentally strong strategy that gives us the best chance to get the North Korean program dismantled and to do it in a way ... where it cannot be reinvigorated the way that it was after the Agreed Framework," she added.

On the resignation of Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas, Rice said that "the next prime minister, whoever that is, is going to have to have the authority to unify the security forces and to fight terror or it won't be possible for the Palestinian people to move forward."

Powell and Rice said they were encouraged by the European Union's designation of Hamas as a terrorist organization.

"This is extremely important, because the Palestinian people are not going to get to statehood through Hamas, and they're not going to get to statehood through a Palestinian leadership that is not empowered," Rice said.

Rice noted that "the leadership of the Palestinian Authority, the prime minister and his team have been hamstrung by internal bickering," and called Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat "an obstacle to peace."

"[T]he focus here has to be on getting a Palestinian leadership that is capable and willing to fight terror," she said. "Nobody can ask Israel or any state to live in terror. And the Palestinian people need the Palestinian leadership to fight terror."

(The Washington File is a product of the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site: http://usinfo.state.gov)

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