TRANSCRIPT EXCERPTS: POWELL, GERMAN FOREIGN
MINISTER ON IRAQ
(U.S., German governments in agreement on Iraq)
February 22, 2001
U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell and German Foreign Minister
Joschka Fischer said the U.S. and German governments are in full
agreement on the need to stop Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein from
acquiring weapons of mass destruction.
The U.S. and German governments are very much concerned about
"the immense security risk posed by the Iraqi government, both in
terms of the spread of weapons of mass destruction and of carrier
missiles," Fischer said when he and Powell briefed reporters in
Washington February 20.
"The source of the problem is in Baghdad," Powell said, and the
regime of Saddam Hussein should be called what it is -- "a regime
that is dictatorial, that does not mean well for the region, that
takes advantage of public opinion, that uses its people for
Fischer said the German government supported the U.S. and British
air strikes against Iraq February 16. "We understand the action our
allies had to take in an immensely difficult situation where they
have to make sure that they safeguard the lives of the Kurds as well
as of their own troops in those regions," he said.
Powell said expressions of concern about the military action
voiced by various Arab nations were fairly moderate, and that his
message during his coming visit to the region will be that the
United States is not the source of Iraq's problems.
Powell expressed the wish that Iraq would use its enormous
intellectual riches and natural resources for good purposes instead
"There is not a single Iraqi child who should be without a
book. There is not a single Iraqi person who should be without
health care. There isn't a single Iraqi person who should be
suffering, because there is more than enough money in the
oil-for-food program to take care of all of them," he said.
Following are excerpts related to Iraq from the transcript of the
(Begin transcript excerpts)
U.S. Department of State
Office of the Spokesman
JOINT PRESS AVAILABILITY WITH GERMAN MINISTER OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS
JOSCHKA FISCHER AND SECRETARY OF STATE COLIN L. POWELL
FISCHER: We discussed also about the situation in the Middle
East. And for us, the role of the United States in the Middle East
is essential, together with the parties on the ground. But I think
peace in the Middle East is in the common interest.
And we talked also about the situation in Iraq, and we appreciate
very much what we heard, that you are looking for a political
solution. And you underlined that indeed Saddam Hussein and his
policy, which tries to get the capabilities for weapons of mass
destruction and missile technologies, is the real reason, and that
the embargo policy is not directed against the Iraqi people, but
directed against that policy. So, in fact, we agree that we should
go ahead along these lines, but made also quite clear that there
will be no possibility for Saddam Hussein to threaten peace in the
region or in the international community.
Q: Minister Fischer, may I address you in German and also ask you
for a response in German, if I may? (In German.)
Through translator: By now you heard the statement of the US side
concerning the recent bombing on Iraq. Would you be willing at this
point to say that Friday's attack was both legitimate and
FOREIGN MINISTER FISCHER: (In German.)
Through translator: We talked about this issue at length, of
course, and we are very much concerned, as is the American side,
about the immense security risk posed by the Iraqi Government, both
in terms of the spread of weapons of mass destruction and of carrier
We do agree that it is necessary to get Iraq to comply with the
United Nations resolutions, all of them, and we listened with great
interest to what Secretary of State Powell said in this respect in
the briefing on this situation. We understand the action our allies
had to take in an immensely difficult situation where they have to
make sure that they safeguard the lives of the Kurds as well as of
their own troops in those regions.
Q: Secretary Powell, the US has put a lot of effort and time,
money, and risking American lives in patrolling the no-fly zones
over Iraq. Do you think the results have been worth that effort? And
as the Administration goes forward in looking at Iraq policy, do you
expect containment to be the bottom line still?
SECRETARY POWELL: Well, we're looking at every option in all
parts of our policy: the UN part of our policy which requires Iraq
to give up these weapons of mass destruction, and of course we have
our own policies with respect to Iraq where we believe a change of
regime would be in the best interest of all concerned.
The fact of the matter is that both baskets, the UN basket and
what we and other allies have been doing in the region, have
succeeded in containing Saddam Hussein and his ambitions. His forces
are about one-third their original size. They don't really possess
the capability to attack their neighbors the way they did ten years
The danger he presents to the world is that he does pursue
weapons of mass destruction, against the agreements that he entered
into. So we will be talking with our friends in the region -- that's
the purpose of my trip this weekend -- and we are reviewing with the
Pentagon and all other parts of the US Government the full range of
options available to us. And we will be announcing our decisions in
Containment has been a successful policy, and I think we should
make sure that we continue it until such time as Saddam Hussein
comes into compliance with the agreements he made at the end of the
war. But we have to find ways to do it to not hurt the Iraqi people.
We are not after the Iraqi people. We don't want to hurt the Iraqi
people. But we don't want Saddam Hussein and his efforts to hurt the
people of the region or to threaten the people of the region. And
that's what it's all about.
Q: Mr. Secretary, John Diamond with the Chicago Tribune. Were you
surprised by the level of criticism from some of the moderate Arab
nations of the strike on Friday? Some of these nations you're going
to be visiting later this week. Could you summarize what you're
going to be telling them, given their strongly held views?
And, finally, since a big part of the US policy is to secure the
region, and since these are after all the countries in the region,
why are they -- you know, what is the purpose of a policy that they
are opposed to if it is, in part, to protect them?
SECRETARY POWELL: Well, I will make those points to them, that
the policy does exist to protect them. One of the reasons for our
presence in the region, and one of the reasons we fought the Gulf
War, was not just to kick the Iraqi army out of Kuwait, but to bring
a new sense of security to the region. And for the past ten years
they have enjoyed that security.
But there have always been neuralgic points associated with our
policy. The expression of concern that I received over the weekend
from various Arab nations in the region frankly was fairly moderate.
There were expressions of distress, there were some demonstrations
in streets, but overall I think the response was fairly
And the point we are making to our friends is that as long as we
are there and are flying these missions for the purpose, not of
aggression against Iraq, but to keep Iraq from being the aggressor
against its own citizens, in the north against the Kurds or in the
south against the Shiites. And as long as we believe that mission is
necessary, then we are going to protect our pilots.
And this particular mission was necessary to be conducted. It was
part of a routine scenario of missions that could be flown in
response to this kind of provocation, and we flew the mission to
take out command-and-control installations related to their air
defense system that threatened our pilots. And no President and no
Secretary of State is ever going to apologize for taking the
necessary action to protect the young men and women that we send
into combat. And I think I also can speak for the Secretary of
Defense and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff in that
And I will make that point to my friends as I go throughout the
region, and I will make the point that don't look at the United
States as the source of the problem. The source of the problem is in
Baghdad, a nation with enormous riches -- intellectual riches and
the riches that they have in the form of oil -- if only they would
use it for good purposes instead of bad purposes, evil purposes.
Now, we have to call this regime the way it needs to be called: a
regime that is dictatorial, that does not mean well for the region,
that takes advantage of public opinion, that uses its people for
propaganda purposes. There is not a single Iraqi child who should be
without a book. There is not a single Iraqi person who should be
without health care. There isn't a single Iraqi person who should be
suffering, because there is more than enough money in the
Oil-for-Food program to take care of all of them.
And the only thing he has to do and they have to do to get out of
this box and to bring all well to the region is to comply, with
respect to the UN sanctions anyway, to comply with the agreements
that were made at the end of the Gulf War.
Q: Secretary Powell, Minister Fischer opposed the Vietnam War,
opposed American missiles in Germany, he opposed the Gulf War, and
now you sit here with him and talk about missiles on Iraq. What do
you think of that?
SECRETARY POWELL: Amazing, isn't it?
SECRETARY POWELL: The world has changed. The world has changed
remarkably. When we went into the Gulf War, we have to remember the
Soviet Union was supporting us politically. Syrian and Egyptian
forces were with us. The world has changed enormously, and we are
not looking at the past; we are looking at the future. And the
future we see is a very, very bright one for those nations that
embrace democracy and the free enterprise system and those nations
that believe in the rights of men and women to pursue their own
The Minister and I share those values in spades, and as a result,
what is in the past is in the past. We are now the best of friends
between our nations, and I think the best of friends between two
Thank you very much.
(End transcript excerpts)
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