Secretary Colin L. Powell Remarks with Foreign Minister Mohammed Bin Mubarak al-Khalifa of Bahrain; November 11, 2001

Remarks with Foreign Minister Mohammed Bin Mubarak al-Khalifa of Bahrain

Secretary Colin L. Powell
Following the Gulf Cooperation Council Meeting
New York, New York
November 11, 2001

SECRETARY POWELL: Well, good evening, ladies and gentlemen. I just finished a very productive and very interesting meeting with the Gulf Cooperation Council, and I am pleased to have the Foreign Minister of Bahrain with me, who is chairing the meeting.

ItÂ’s a tradition at the United Nations General Assembly every year that the United States meets with the Council, and we exchanged views on the situation in Afghanistan, we exchanged views on the Middle East peace process. We also talked about the general situation in the Gulf region.

I expressed my thanks, once again, for the support we have received from the members of the Council, and told them that we were committed to fighting terrorism. The President was determined, as he said in his speech, to do all he can to remove this scourge from the face of the earth, and to remove the threat that it poses to civilization. And I told the members who were present that the President, as he indicated yesterday, was totally committed to doing everything we could to find a solution to the tragic situation in the Middle East, and we all took note once again of the President's important statement with respect to our vision to move forward until two states, Israel and Palestine, could live side by side in an aura of mutual security and mutual respect, and put the violence behind us.

And so it was a good meeting, and I know all of these gentlemen; we meet together on a regular basis, either in groups or bilaterally, and it was my pleasure to meet with them this evening.

Mr. Minister.

FOREIGN MINISTER AL-KHALIFA: Thank you, Mr. Secretary. Good evening, ladies and gentlemen. We had a very useful and productive meeting today with Secretary Powell. At the beginning of this meeting, we expressed to His Excellency our deep sympathy and condolences for the loss of life that took place on the 11th of September here in New York and Washington.

We condemned this terrorist act, which we believe even a wicked act. And we, being with the United States from that moment, cooperating to combat terrorism everywhere. We worked on the political level. We worked on the economical side to put pressure and to stop any assistance to terrorists or countries harboring terrorists.

Also, in the fields of exchange of information intelligence, we've been working together. Military cooperation, we are working side by side. We just wanted to reiterate what we have said on the 11th of September, our position: clear, in support and working together with the United States to defeat these terrorists, and to bring them to justice -- or, as President Bush put it, bring justice to them. This is one issue.

The second issue: we discussed the situation in the Gulf, and the security of the Gulf has great importance to the United States and to us. We discussed the situation concerning Iran and Iraq and the region, because they are important factors in the security of the region.

Also, we discussed the situation in the Middle East, and we were encouraged by the statement by the President with the General Assembly on Saturday, when he spoke about future cooperation between the two states of Israel and Palestine with secure border, and we work for peace and sovereignty in the region (inaudible), and to stop this deterioration and killing in the area, which we want to stop, and to start talking on the table of negotiation. We have each of them with us accepted or will accept, and we are encouraged by the statement of the President, that he would wish for the world and peaceful negotiation.

So that was an important development. We discussed them with the Secretary, and we always -- we at the GCC and the United States have a common regime, common strategy, and I hope we are carrying on for the future.

SECRETARY POWELL: Thank you. We have time for a couple of questions.

QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, I'm wondering about the timing of the Palestinian statement. Is this an effort by the Administration to placate -- or if you choose the word "please," that's all right, too -- the Muslim nations that we want to keep in the alliance? And what happened to the old idea that the US was going to leave it to the parties? You are coming out for a Palestinian State at the United Nations. It doesn't leave a lot of wiggle room for small countries to make their own decisions, does it?

SECRETARY POWELL: Well, both parties, both the Palestinians and the Israelis, have spoken of a Palestinian State at a point in the future, with mutually agreed upon boundaries and with mutually agreed upon conditions. So I don't think we have broken any particular new ground there, except that it was coming from the President of the United States and his current Administration, and he chose an international forum in which to do it, which I think is a powerful signal.

It is not a matter of pleasing or placating; it's a matter of moving forward. It's a matter of trying to grab that dream we all have of these two peoples finding a way to live in peace, justice and harmony with each other, and to put the violence behind us. And religion is as simple as that. It is not a matter of placating anyone or pleasing anyone. It's a matter of going forward and getting the violence behind us.

QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, (inaudible) positive in a couple of weeks, or a couple of months, or I hear two weeks, but people are asking about follow-up steps to take us really to maturation of what you're talking about. What steps, and what time frame are you envisaging, and how much is the difference between your policies and a Arab on the difference between terrorism on this global reach versus, in comparison to freedom fighters and occupation? How fundamental is this difference? How did it come across in your meeting with the GCC, and with Syria? And, of course, you met with Yasser Arafat earlier; how was that?

SECRETARY POWELL: Timing will ultimately be up to the two parties. It can't be forced. But I sense that there is a new urgency in the situation, that both sides realize that we can't continue as we have been in recent months.

And so I hope that there will be new energy toward getting into a ceasefire. This was the first step. Until the violence and the incitement go down and stop, then we won't get toward that vision. And I have seen some encouraging signs from both sides that this is well understood, and the United States will play a role in helping them go forward to achieve the ceasefire.

We can spend hours discussing the difference between what one person calls terrorism and another person calls freedom fighting, but for this area right now, this vision, we shouldn't waste our energy in that kind of dialogue. We should use our energy to get the violence down to nothing, so that we don't have violence, response, violence, response. We need to get back to the situation that we had not too long ago, where there was a level of confidence and trust between the two sides, if not harmony -- if not totally harmony. But at least there was a level of confidence and trust so that people can go back and forth and go to work, and that there was some hope that negotiations would lead to final status solutions.

And that is what we should focus on. And that was the theme that I used in my conversations with Chairman Arafat, with the Foreign Minister of Syria, and with everyone else I have spoken to today, to include my colleagues on the GCC.

FOREIGN MINISTER AL-KHALIFA: Well, I think we agree with the Secretary on this issue, and we are determined to keep peace in the region, to reduce the violence keep negotiations, to start on the right level, and that is our aim.

So really, we spoke both of us toward this aim. So the only way is to get people talking about peace, and then violence will end.

QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, first you mentioned the issue of the Palestinians in the sense of not needing the United Nations -- actually, sorry, what I am trying to say is, you mentioned the issue of Palestine while you go to the United Nations and you tried to prohibit the Security Council from issuing some statement of resolution on the violence. Some would see this as a double standard while you are calling on the United Nations to be an active participant in the battle against terrorism.

And Mr. Mubarak, when you mentioned the issue of Iraq and Iran, do you call on the United States to play any role, whether politically or anything, to solve the Iraqi issue? Is there a need, as some in the United States -- for an attack on Iraq -- claim? Is there a need for an attack on Iraq, as some claim in the United States?

SECRETARY POWELL: On the first question, I don't think it's a double standard at all. I think what we are trying to do is to keep the process moving forward, and the kinds of resolutions that have been introduced in recent weeks and in recent months, we did not feel would move the process forward, and that is why we argued against them. And we will examine every resolution that is put forward with seriousness and see whether or not we believe that resolution contributes to moving the process forward. And we will continue to take that position as the resolutions come before the Security Council.

FOREIGN MINISTER AL-KHALIFA: To answer your question regarding the Gulf, because this is an important issue to us in the region, no discussion is being raised using force against Iraq. We are speaking about how can we help Iraq to move from this situation by applying -- by implementing United Nations resolutions. So really what you are asking Iraq to do itself by applying, implementing the resolution, so the sanctions can be lifted.

So that is our approach in the GCC, not to take any action contrary to that.

QUESTION: Thank you, Mr. Secretary. A lot of your Arab allies, your European allies, Secretary General Kofi Annan, were pleased with the President's statement about a Palestinian State, but say they would like to see more, they would like to see a meeting with President Arafat and President Bush, and more fleshing out of the vision, more active engagement by the US. Is anything planned right now?

And why is it that President Bush would not meet with Yasser Arafat, would not even greet him for a few minutes? Some would argue that perhaps the time has come for more active engagement with the Palestinian leader.

SECRETARY POWELL: The President is actively engaged, I am actively engaged. We spend part of every day, the President and I, dealing with this issue. We are looking for opportunities to become more actively engaged. And in the days and weeks ahead, I think you will see us do more toward that end.

The vision that the President gave to the United Nations yesterday, we will add more to that as we go forward with additional ideas. And I am quite confident that in due course, as we move forward and as we see success, the President will have an opportunity to meet with Chairman Arafat. Thank you.


Released on November 11, 2001

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