27 October 2003
Iraqi Reconstruction to Continue Despite Bombings, Says Powell
Calls on Syria and Israel to refrain from threatening each other
Secretary of State Colin Powell acknowledged that the series of terrorist bombings in Baghdad October 27 made for a "bad 24 hours," but pledged that coalition forces would move ahead with reconstruction plans and efforts.
Speaking to reporters after his October 27 meeting with United Arab Emirates Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Sheikh Hamdan bin Zayed Al-Nahayan, Powell urged the United Nations, the International Committee for the Red Cross and contractors to "make a considered assessment of their security situation," in deciding whether to stay in Iraq.
"[H]opefully," said Powell, "they can find it appropriate to stay. They are needed, their work is needed, and if they are driven out, then the terrorists win."
Addressing recent Syrian and Israeli threats against each other, the secretary said such statements "do not assist any of the parties in the region to try to move forward, and just heighten tension." He said the United States is encouraging both sides to lower both the military and rhetorical tensions and refrain from further threats.
He also said the United States is encouraging Israel "not to take any actions" which would prejudge the roadmap to peace with the Palestinians.
Powell was also asked about Iran's cooperation on anti-terrorism efforts, particularly its reported holding of al-Qaida members. He said Iran had been told that any such individuals held in custody "should be returned to places of origin for whatever justice might be appropriate, or turned over to us, if they choose to do that."
For his part, Deputy Prime Minister Al-Nahayan described the bilateral relations between the United States and the United Arab Emirates as "outstanding."
"We are very keen to make sure that the relationships between the two countries will always advance. We believe that our cooperation is very close and it's outstanding, both regarding Iraq and in Afghanistan. The cooperation and the coordination will continue," said Al-Nahayan.
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
Office of the Spokesman
October 27, 2003
Secretary of State Colin L. Powell
And United Arab Emirates Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Sheikh Hamdan bin Zayed Al-Nahayan
After Their Meeting
October 27, 2003
C Street Entrance
(4:00 p.m. EST)
SECRETARY POWELL: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. I've been very pleased to receive His Highness, the Deputy Prime Minister of the UAE, and we had a good, frank discussion. We talked about the strength of our relationship and we will continue to work actively to improve it. Assistant Secretary Burns will be participating in strategic discussions with the UAE in the very near future.
I also had the chance to thank His Highness for the support they have provided to our global war on terrorism, but most recently the contribution they made in Madrid, in addition to other contributions they have made to help the Iraqi people.
We also reviewed the situation in the Gulf generally, the work we are doing with the IAEA and our friends in Europe with respect to Iran's nuclear programs.
And we also had a chance to review the situation between the Israelis and the Palestinians, and I reaffirmed to His Highness the strength of the President's commitment to the roadmap, and we'll be working with both sides to get back on track on the roadmap as soon as we have a new government on the Palestinian side that we can work with.
In the meantime, we are in contact with the Israelis to encourage them not to take any actions which would prejudge any of the steps on the roadmap or prejudge where we might be going with the roadmap.
And so, Your Highness, it's a great pleasure to have you here. And once again, sir, welcome.
DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER AL-NAHAYAN: I would like to thank the Secretary of State for allowing me this opportunity to come here. I believe you, Mr. Secretary, covered all the issues that we discussed during our meetings. The bilateral relationships between our two countries are outstanding. We have the strategic dialogue going on, and we are optimistic pretty soon we will host a round of discussions in Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates.
We are very keen to make sure that the relationships between the two countries will always advance. We believe that our cooperation is very close and it's outstanding, both regarding Iraq and in Afghanistan. The cooperation and the coordination will continue. We are very proud of both and of this relationship, and we hope that the cooperation will reach the level that is desired by the leadership on both sides.
Thank you, Mr. Secretary.
SECRETARY POWELL: Thank you very much.
(The Secretary escorts the Deputy Prime Minister to his car.)
QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, would you take a question or two? You made some reference to Iran. What is your assessment of Iran and whether it is helping on al-Qaida? There are various conflicting accounts.
SECRETARY POWELL: I have seen a number of reports over the weekend that I'm trying to get clarified, with respect to what information the Iranians might be providing, I believe they said to the UN, concerning al-Qaida members who were in Iran, and may have been returned or are being returned. But I'm waiting to sort that out.
We have indicated to Iran that we thought that anybody that they have in custody should be returned to places of origin for whatever justice might be appropriate, or turned over to us, if they choose to do that.
QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, Syria threatened to retaliate against any future Israeli attack against Syrian territory. The Israeli cabinet responded defiantly. Are we seeing or witnessing increasing tension here, or are you doing anything to reduce it?
SECRETARY POWELL: We're encouraging both sides to lower the tension and lower the rhetorical tension as well. These sorts of statements do not assist us, do not assist any of the parties in the region to try to move forward, and just heighten tension. So I would encourage both sides to refrain from these kinds of rhetorical threats.
QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, with the latest bombings in Iraq this morning, do you think that the security environment is sufficient for you to be able to continue with the reconstruction at a decent pace?
SECRETARY POWELL: Well, today was a difficult day; the last 24 hours have been very difficult. We don't know if it's a spate, as a result of the beginning of Ramadan, or whether it is something that we'll see continue. But I know that our military authorities are hard at work on bringing it under control, and we're going ahead with our reconstruction plans and efforts. And we'll do whatever it is possible for us to do, subject, of course, to the security conditions.
But it's been a bad 24 hours. But as President and Ambassador Bremer said earlier, there are a lot of good things going on. And some days those good things are all you read about in the newspapers, and other days it's the tragedies that have been caused by remnants of the regime and terrorists, who, as the President said, don't want to see peace and freedom take hold in Iraq. And we will not let them defeat the forces of freedom or deny the Iraqi people the longed-for democracy and peace that they desire and deserve.
QUESTION: The ICRC, though, may be scaling back. Are you worried that U.S. contractors, NGOs are going to be pulling out?
SECRETARY POWELL: Yes, it's of concern to us. And we hope that contractors, NGOs and the ICRC and the UN will make a considered assessment of their security situation, and, hopefully, they can find it appropriate to stay. They are needed, their work is needed, and if they are driven out, then the terrorists win.
But they have to balance that desire to do the job and stay with their security needs. And I hope that they are in close contact with Ambassador Bremer and General Sanchez and our authorities in the region to see what can be done, if not necessarily provide them direct protection, but to provide them a safer environment in which to work.
(Distributed by the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site: http://usinfo.state.gov)
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