Diplomatic Challenge: Colin Powell’s Trip
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MARGARET WARNER: The Secretary had a full day in Madrid. First he joined U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan, the Russian foreign minister, and European Union officials in calling on the Israelis and Palestinians to pull back, and to cooperate fully with the Powell mission. Annan read the joint statement for reporters.
KOFI ANNAN: We call on Israel to halt immediately its military operations. We call for immediate Israeli meaningful ceasefire and an immediate Israeli withdrawal from Palestinian cities, including Ramallah, specifically including Chairman Arafat’s headquarters. We call on Israel to fully comply with international humanitarian principles and to allow full and unimpeded access to humanitarian organizations and services.
We call on Chairman Arafat as the recognized elected leader of the Palestinian people to undertake immediately the maximum possible effort to stop terror attacks against innocent Israelis. We call on the Palestinian Authority to act decisively, and take all possible steps within its capacity to dismantle terrorist infrastructure, including terrorist financing, and to stop incitement to violence. We call on Chairman Arafat to use the full weight of his political authority to persuade the Palestinian people that any and all terrorist attacks against Israelis should end immediately.
MARGARET WARNER: Pressed on how he plans to approach the parties when he gets to Jerusalem, Secretary Powell made clear he wasn’t ready to lay out his game plan.
COLIN POWELL: I think we are all in agreement, and I think the world is in agreement, that there will not be a solution that will be produced by terror or will be produced by response to terror. This is not going to get us there. What will get us there are political discussions, and the sooner we can get to them, the better. Now, I have to speak to the parties in the region at greater length to see how they view this matter, and to see how we can go forward. And in due course, I’m sure that we will let the whole world know what we believe is the proper way to go forward.
MARGARET WARNER: The Secretary was asked whether he considered the Palestinians’ armed resistance to the Israeli incursion in the territories to be terrorism.
COLIN POWELL: Violence of whatever form, whether one would call it an act of terrorism or an act of resistance, at this point is counterproductive. It does not lead to the vision that the Palestinian people have of a state where they can live side by side in peace with Israel. What we have to see now is an end to the violence, with whatever title you want to give to that violence, it’s violence nonetheless, and it is totally destabilizing the region and it is destroying that vision. And so our call today is for violence to end, and response to violence to end — the withdrawal from the current incursions that the Israeli government is conducting.
MARGARET WARNER: Several hours later, after a suicide bombing in Israel and defiant words from Ariel Sharon, Powell met reporters again with Spain’s foreign minister, Josep Pique.
REPORTER: Mr. Secretary, since you left Washington, Prime Minister Sharon has said that it would be a tragic mistake if you were to meet Chairman Arafat, and there has been another suicide bombing. Do you feel that your mission is now in jeopardy?
COLIN POWELL: One, I think my mission is not in the least in jeopardy. I am going to Jerusalem tomorrow evening. I look forward to my meetings with the Israeli leaders on Friday. And I believe it is important for me to meet with Chairman Arafat. He’s the leader of the Palestinian people, and I think the Palestinian people and the Arab leaders with whom I’ve met over the last several days believe that he is the partner that Israel will have to deal with at some point– he and the other leaders of the Palestinian Authority.
REPORTER: On the same subject, Prime Minister Sharon has just issued… has asked the United States not to push Israel too hard for an immediate withdrawal. He said, “I hope they know that Israel is struggling for its survival.” What is your response to that?
COLIN POWELL: I think the President spoke clearly. We understand the difficult situation that Israel finds itself in, but we believe that the best way to relieve this tension, the best way to move forward, and provide a solution to the crisis that we find ourselves in is for a withdrawal of Israeli forces, and the President has been reinforcing that home with you every day.