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SECRETARY POWELL: Good morning, everyone. It's a great pleasure to have received my colleague, Shaykh Sabah from Kuwait. We had a good exchange of views. I expressed our appreciation once again for the strong support we have received from Kuwait since the events of the 11th of September, not only expressions of condolence but solid expressions of support.
We talked about the actions that the Kuwaiti parliament is now taking to expedite approval of additional international conventions, to ratify those conventions that will help in the campaign against terrorism. We talked about the situation in the region. We had a chance to talk about Afghanistan. We talked about the Middle East peace process, and how we are going at the moment, and the progress that may be ahead.
And we celebrated the strength of our bilateral relationship, and I always -- as I did once again today -- I always thank the Kuwaiti people for the great hospitality that they show to our young men and women in uniform who serve in Kuwait and stand side by side behind and next to the Kuwaiti people.
So my colleague, it is a great pleasure to have you here again, and I invite you to say a word to the press.
SHAYKH SABAH: I would like to thank you colleague, the Secretary of State, for this occasion, and also I would like to convey the greeting of His Highness, the Amir, which I have carried it to Mr. President, and the people of Kuwait, His Highness the Amir, now in the hospital. And he is extending his good wishes to the American leadership and the American people.
I would like to reiterate the position of Kuwait in support of the United States in this tragedy, and we have reconfirmed our solid understanding for the steps which have been taken by the United States to combat this evil which is prevailing unfortunately. And we have once again said that we are fully with the United States to see that this operation will be a successful one.
I would like to say once again that we are allied to the United States, and we will remain to be allies to the United States. We are very proud of this, because it will serve our both goals. And I would like also to tell you that the Government of Kuwait has taken certain steps to ratify the rest of the international treatment, which had been passed by the United Nations. And it is now in front of the parliament.
Among other steps which we have taken, that we have put all the charity organizations in Kuwait under complete control of the financial vehicles of Kuwait, like the Central Bank and the Ministry of Finance. We never had such kind of tight control, but now every charity activity will be under tight control of the government.
(Inaudible) the fact that this charity organization did not have before any illegal diversion of money to terrorist organizations, and it will not have the same thing.
SECRETARY POWELL: Thank you. I think I have to catch up with the President, so I only have time for perhaps one or two questions.
QUESTION: Real quick. I'll be quick, if I may. A lot of good -- a lot of important folk coming to the UN this weekend. Do you plan any talks that might move the Mid-East process along? Arafat will be there, Peres will be there. Because you spoke of some possible hope.
SECRETARY POWELL: Yes. I'm sure I will have conversations with a variety of people, not only my European colleagues, but my colleagues from the region, and I look forward to that. I am pleased that the Israelis have withdrawn from Ramallah, and I hope they will withdraw from the other villages in the near future. I hope that Chairman Arafat will continue to do all he can to end the violence, and I am very anxious to get back on the track we were on a few weeks ago, where we were starting to see serious discussions between the two sides with respect to cease-fire and non-belligerency.
So I am looking forward to the weekend conversations, and we will report on them as they occur.
One more, and then I do have to go.
QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, in the second phase of the military campaign when it comes, you spoke on previous occasions that al-Qaida in Afghanistan is not the only one that will be targeted. Are you contemplating to deal with Iraq after the growing threats of the bioterrorism now that you are seeing in this country? And also, after continued threatening statements by the Iraqi regime, recently by Mr. Tariq Aziz that Kuwait is still part of Iraq.
SECRETARY POWELL: Well, Mr. Tariq Aziz has been making these rather ridiculous and threatening statements for many years, so I take them all with a grain of salt. With respect to our activities in Afghanistan, that is our first priority. We must defeat al-Qaida. We must end Usama bin Laden's terrorist threat to the world, and deal with the Taliban regime, who has given them haven.
After that, as the President has said, and we have all said repeatedly, we will turn our attention to terrorism throughout the world. And nations such as Iraq, which have tried to pursue weapons of mass destruction, should not think that we will not be concerned about these activities, and will not turn our attention to them.
But first things first, as we have all said, and that first thing is the campaign that we have currently have under way against Usama bin Laden, al-Qaida and the Taliban.
Thank you very much. I have to run.
QUESTION: I wanted to ask you about the Kuwaitis' neighbor, the Saudis. With Ramadan fast approaching, are you satisfied that as the keepers of Islam, the Saudi Government is doing enough to make clear that this is a war against terrorism, and not a war against Islam?
SECRETARY POWELL: I think they are doing quite a bit. Their clerics have spoken out, they have spoken out. They have excommunicated bin Laden. They have identified bin Laden for what he is, and they did it many years ago. They took away diplomatic relations and ended all diplomatic contacts with the Taliban regime.
So the Saudis are very much a participating member of this coalition. They have responded to every request we have put before them. In recent days, you have seen further evidence of that as they have taken action to stop financial flows. So we are very pleased with the response we have received from the Saudi Arabian Government, and I am sure there will be more areas of cooperation that we will be discussing with them in the near future.
12:45 PM EST
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