Powell Explains Elements of New U.N. Iraq
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
Office of the Spokesman
April 29, 2004
JOINT PRESS AVAILABILITY
Remarks By Secretary Of State Colin L. Powell and Danish Prime Minister Anders
Fogh Rasmussen After Their Meeting
Danish Prime Minister's Office
PRIME MINISTER RASMUSSEN: Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to this press
conference. I am happy to welcome Secretary Powell here in Denmark. We have had
a very fruitful and very useful meeting. I would like to point to three key
points from our meeting. First, I emphasized that Denmark has no plans to
withdraw our troops from Iraq. They are doing a very important job and should
continue. Foreign troops are still needed in order to provide stable and secure
conditions in Iraq. We owe it to the Iraqi people to assist them in building a
new and modern society. We owe it to the Iraqi people to protect them from the
terrorists and extremists who try to disrupt the democratic process in order to
install a new dictatorship. I expect the coming interim Iraqi government to
share this view.
I would also like to use this opportunity to express my heartfelt sorrow for the
high losses incurred by U.S. forces in Iraq, the latest being eight soldiers
killed in a blast south of Baghdad today. Your losses are all felt by us.
Secondly, I told Mr. Powell that many in Europe are seriously concerned over
Iraq and recent developments in the Middle East. And there is a feeling that
European views are not always taken fully into account. At the same time it is
my strong impression from talks with European colleagues, that Europe is ready
to look ahead to overcome past disagreements. It is recognized that we are
facing common and serious challenges, which Europe and the United States should
address together in Iraq, in the Israeli-Palestinian relationship, and regarding
political and democratic reform in the Arab world. In other words, the time has
come to join forces.
Thirdly, and following up on my second point, I urged our American friends to
continue to work actively for a strong U.N. role in Iraq. There are positive
lessons in Afghanistan to draw on. In this connection, I warmly welcomed the
recent close coordination between the United States and U.N. envoy Brahimi
regarding the future political process. I expressed my sincere hope that all
members of the U.N. Security Council will be prepared to show the necessary
flexibility in order to obtain a new U.N. resolution that can facilitate broader
international engagement in Iraq.
SECRETARY POWELL: Thank you very much, Mr. Prime Minister. And thank you for
receiving me on relatively short notice. I agree with you that we had a very
fine conversation and, I must say Mr. Prime Minister, I have had a wonderful day
here in Denmark. I thank you for your expression of condolences with respect to
the loss of life of our troops today and I thank you for the steadfastness that
you have shown on a personal level and a political level, and the Danish people
have shown for our work in Iraq. The presence of Danish troops in Iraq, and I
might add also, in Afghanistan, is a positive sign to the world that Denmark is
prepared to do what is required to bring peace, democracy, and freedom to
nations far away. None of us can be isolated from these troubles. None of us can
be isolated from tyranny. We all have to do our part, and Denmark has certainly
done its part in Iraq and in Afghanistan, and for that I am very grateful.
President Bush looks forward to receiving you later this month to have a
continued dialogue with you on these issues.
On the issues the Prime Minister raised, we had good discussions. I am confident
that we will be able to get a United Nations Security Council resolution of the
kind that the Prime Minister has suggested. I am confident that using Ambassador
Brahimi's plan, which he presented to the Security Council the other day, we'll
be able to go forward and put in place an Iraqi interim government by the end of
June. I am also confident that that government, along with the U.N. resolution,
that government will invite the coalition forces that are there now to remain
and to assist them as they consolidate their democracy and as they prepare for
elections that will result in a national assembly early next year. The weeks
ahead will be dangerous, they will be tough, because those who are against
freedom, those who are against democracy, will do everything they can to keep us
from attaining our goals over the next several months. They want to return to
dictatorship, they want to return to the oppression of the past, and we will not
let that happen and we will prevail. We regret the loss of every life, but these
are lives that are not lost in vain, but are lost in pursuit of a noble
objective, for a noble cause.
On the Middle East, we had a good discussion and as I said to the Prime
Minister, I look forward to continuing this discussion at the meeting of the
Quartet next week in New York -- with the United Nations, the European Union and
the Russian Federation and the United States. We will all sit down and exchange
views extensively on the Middle East situation and make sure that we take into
account the views of our European friends, our colleagues in the United Nations,
and especially our colleagues in the Russian Federation.
We believe that a new opportunity has been opened up by the initiative of Prime
Minister Sharon. Settlements are going to be removed from Gaza and the West
Bank. Palestinians have to prepare themselves to exercise political authority
over these settlements and to provide security in the Gaza areas. We can use
this initiative, even though it is a unilateral initiative on the part of the
Israelis, we can use it to get back into the Road Map process. As President Bush
has made clear, and as Prime Minister Sharon has acknowledged, none of the
announcements that you have heard or the unilateral decision that the Prime
Minister made with respect to unilateral withdrawal, prejudices final status
discussions between the two parties. Ultimately, the final status issues must be
mutually agreed upon by the two parties concerned, as provided for in the Road
Map. So I believe that rather than this killing the road map, as some have
suggested, this gives new life and meaning to the Road Map and gives us a way to
get into the Road Map.
I certainly agree with the Prime Minister on the need for enhanced dialogue
between the United States and Europe. We will have the opportunity for enhanced
dialogue with a G-8 ministerial meeting coming up in the near future, and then
of course the G-8 meeting, and then, of course, the U.S.-E.U. meeting and
finally, a NATO meeting, all over the next two months period of time when we
will demonstrate the strength of our transatlantic relations, either in the NATO
context or the E.U. or G-8 context. Mr. Prime Minister, again, thank you for
your hospitality and for receiving me today.
PRIME MINISTER RASMUSSEN: We are ready to answer a few questions.
QUESTION: Secretary Powell, nobody questions the strength of the U.S. military,
but do you think there is room for improvement when it comes to winning the
hearts and minds of Iraqis?
SECRETARY POWELL: We always are trying just not to use our military force to
find a solution to a problem, but to appeal that it is in their interest to
cooperate with us, to work with us. I don't think that we have lost their hearts
and minds. I think most of the Iraqi people know what we are doing and want to
be a part of that. Most of the Iraqi people have said that they are glad that
Saddam Hussein and his regime is gone. Why wouldn't they be? He wasted their
treasure, he filled mass graves, he gassed his own people, he destroyed the
wetlands in the south, he suppressed human rights. He was the worst kind of
dictator who built palaces instead of schools and who destroyed his economy -
from being one of the most wealthy nations at the beginning of the 1980s, to one
of the most destitute nations at the beginning of this century.
QUESTION: So you don't think there is any room for improvement...
SECRETARY POWELL: I will get to it. So, let's just make sure we understand the
circumstances we are involved in. Most people want democracy and they want
freedom. The premise of your question is that they didn't - we don't have their
hearts and minds. What we don't have are the hearts and minds of the thugs, the
former regime elements, and the terrorists who have come to make trouble. We
won't win their hearts and minds. What we have to do is defeat them. We will
defeat them on the battlefield and we will also defeat them politically, by
putting in place an interim government, a government that is sovereign and
represents the interests of the Iraqi people. The Iraqi people, whose hearts and
minds we have, will see that these thugs and criminals are attacking the
government of the Iraqi people.
QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, we have just heard the Danish Prime Minister say that
he felt very bad about the heavy American losses - eight soldiers alone today.
At the same time, we see a New York Times poll saying that only 47% of the
American population now supports your effort in Iraq. Do you see any kind of
connection with the daily, heavy losses of American soldiers and the American
support going down?
SECRETARY POWELL: Obviously when casualties are going up, and April has been a
particularly hard month for casualties, people see this on their televisions and
they read about it in the newspapers, and they learn of losses in their own
community. That causes them to stop and think and
reflect: What are we doing? You can expect the polls to reflect that, but I
think as we get on top of the security situation, and I think we will, and as we
put in place an interim government, and as the U.N. gets more involved, and as
the reconstruction effort picks up, and as the American people see that Iraqis
are taking responsibility for their own future, then I think the polls will turn
in the other direction. For example, there are Iraqi officers, former regime,
who are now loyal to the new Iraq, who have stepped forward in Fallujah and have
started to organize units. So we now see Iraqi units that have organized
themselves to go in and help in the situation in Fallujah.
If we can solve it that way, I think the American people will start to see, and
people around the world will start to see, that Iraqis want peace, that Iraqis
do not want the kind of violence that is being perpetrated against them now by
these former regime elements, terrorists, and criminals who are taking advantage
of an insecure situation. I think the polls will then move in the other
direction. The American people understand what we are there for, know that what
we are doing is the right thing, and I think that they will support the
President over all.
QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, what would you put in the U.N. resolution in order to
convince other countries, for instance France, that the new Iraqi government is
having full sovereignty after June 30?
SECRETARY POWELL: The resolution, I hope, will contain elements that
would recognize that an interim sovereign government has been set up. I
hope that there will an element that talks about the need for additional
contributions to the military force, additional economic contributions, and
provide a mandate for the Brahimi plan and provide a mandate for the plan moving
forward especially toward elections to a national assembly early next year, a
transitional government and then a full government at the end of 2005, early
2006. Those are the elements in common that everyone is talking about. I think
there will be strong support for these elements.
You mentioned France. France and Germany, and the others who disagreed so
strongly with us last year, have indicated that they want to be part of this
reconstruction effort. They don't what to see us go back to the days of Saddam
Hussein. They know it is in their interest, as well as in our interest and the
interest of the Iraqi people, for us all to work together going forward.
The government will be given sovereignty. Obviously, because a large foreign
military presence will still be required, under U.S. command, some would say
well then you are not giving full sovereignty, but we are giving sovereignty, so
that that sovereignty can be used to say: We invite you to remain. It is a
sovereign decision. It is not that unusual. It happened in Europe where U.S.
forces remained for many years under U.S. command but with another sovereign in
charge of the country that we were in. The same was the situation in Korea for
many years. I think those kinds of arrangements can be worked out. I think
France and the other nations will recognize that we have given sovereignty when
they see an Iraqi president, an Iraqi prime minister, an Iraqi deputy president,
and a full Iraqi cabinet that is actually running the country and the CPA is no
longer there, and an American ambassador is there performing as American
ambassadors do everywhere else around the world.
PRIME MINISTER RASMUSSEN: One final question.
QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, some countries have announced their withdrawal from
Iraq. How does that affect the Danish position? Is there the need for more
Danish support for your cause in Iraq?
SECRETARY POWELL: We are disappointed that Spain decided that it had to
withdraw, and withdraw rather abruptly. Most of the nations of the coalition
have been as solid as Denmark has been, even during a month when things got
very, very difficult. They are all staying with it. So, we have lost a few, but
the many have remained and they remain firm in their determination to see this
through to the end. The Prime Minister and I did not have any discussion about
additional Danish troops, nor did the Foreign Minister and I. This is a matter
for Denmark to decide. I only can say that we are enormously pleased at the
contribution that Denmark has made in Iraq and in Afghanistan and the
steadfastness that they have shown.
Thank you very much.
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