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3:30 pm EDT
SECRETARY POWELL: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. It has been my pleasure today to once again host my colleague and dear friend Lord Robertson, Secretary General of NATO. This occasion, I was able to thank him as the President did earlier on behalf of the American people for the strong support that we received from NATO in this time of crisis.
Within 28 hours after the events of September the 11th, NATO had acted, and NATO has continued acting in the four weeks since, providing strong support, not only in terms of statements coming out, but in terms of the invocation of Article V, and providing us the kind of support that we will see manifested later this week when NATO AWACS aircraft will be coming to the United States to help us with surveillance. NATO naval forces will be moving into the eastern Mediterranean to take up some of the slack. And individual countries within NATO work with us to assist us in dealing with the situation with respect to terrorism. Above all, with all of the NATO nations making commitments under the Article V invocation to give us over-flight rights and other things that have proven so helpful to our efforts.
And so I think these actions show the viability of the alliance, shows that the alliance is growing, the alliance has a role to play. More and more nations want to become a part of this great alliance, which has done such a brilliant job of preserving the peace, and which is finding new missions for the future that will make it as vital as it has been in the past.
And so, George, once again, welcome to the State Department. And thank you again for your support, sir.
LORD ROBERTSON: Thank you very much. It has been very good to meet with Secretary Powell today and to talk over the agenda that I have been discussing with President Bush, with National Security Advisor Rice, with the Vice President by video conference. These are critical issues at this time.
It is a defining moment for humanity now in facing up to these new and unconventional challenges, and we must be prepared to think unconventionally if we are going to deal with them. That is why the agenda of NATO is so focused at the present moment on this challenge, why NATO rose immediately to the events and invoked Article V for the first time in history, and why we have to follow that through in an operational and a practical way as well.
So our relationships, bilateral relationships as well as the collective strength of NATO has been called into action, and we will prevail.
SECRETARY POWELL: Thank you, sir.
QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, a quick question, Mr. Secretary.
We know about NATO's support. What do you make of the Islamic Conference? Is that somewhat less than the kind of support you would like?
SECRETARY POWELL: No, I was very pleased with the results of both the Arab League meeting and the Islamic Conference meeting. I thought it was a good statement. They deplored what happened on the 11th of September, indicated this is not the kind of behavior they would find favorable. It certainly doesn't reflect the faith that they all believe in. So, not at all. When one considers the kind of statement that might have come out, I find it was a pretty good, pretty fair statement.
QUESTION: Mr. Secretary? Is there anything, Mr. Secretary, you can say about the next stages beyond Afghanistan and al-Qaida, whether or not you would go, as there have been some suggestions about Southeast Asia, for instance? Can you talk about the kinds of steps that would be used there?
And to Lord Robertson, would NATO require any more knowledge from the US before it followed US moves into other geographical areas?
SECRETARY POWELL: As the President said, this is a campaign against al-Qaida and the al-Qaida network, which is located in many countries, and the head of al-Qaida, Usama bin Laden. But it is also a campaign against terrorism, wherever it may exist in the world. As the President also said, the first phase is directed against al-Qaida. And we will see what we are able to flesh out as a result of intelligence activity, as a result of law enforcement, and financial activities.
But there are no plans that are about to come down the pike with respect to the kinds of actions that you are suggesting in your question. We will take these things one at a time. And the President said, we are in this for a long time. We will be persistent, we will be patient, but we will be determined to not only get rid of the al-Qaida network but to deal with terrorism around the world, terrorism with a global reach that is a threat to all civilized, democracy-loving nations.
LORD ROBERTSON: I think that answers the question on behalf of NATO as well. The fact is that this campaign against terrorism is multifaceted. It's political, it's diplomatic, it's economic, it's financial. And countries who have got these cells within them are required in their own self-defense to deal with that at the present moment.
There is a sense of solidarity internationally at the present moment. And that must lead to these cells of terrorists being challenged. Because at the end of the day the survival of civilization may stand here as the biggest challenge for all of us.
SECRETARY POWELL: Thank you very much.
Released on October 10, 2001
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