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FOREIGN MINISTER VEDRINE: Ladies and gentlemen, good morning. Good morning to all. I must say that I am delighted to welcome here today in great friendship as usual my friend and colleague Secretary Powell. He was welcomed by the President of the Republic and then we had a meeting together.
I would like to first of all share my thoughts with the Americans who were affected and touched by the attacks exactly three months ago to the day today. We of course expressed our solidarity in the response against al-Qaida, and I think that we are very close to being successful. We will be and remain involved in the fight against terrorism. We will go on working together on many other issues. We will go on working together to try and construct a new Afghanistan, and go on working together in the Middle East and other places where there are major issues that we have to solve together. We will go on working as we have worked in the recent period; we will have our own proposals and work together in a feeling of friendship. I think that this trip to Paris by Secretary Powell was useful because we got extra information as to the current situation and what will happen in the coming weeks.
SECRETARY POWELL: It is a pleasure to be back in Paris and have an opportunity to share views with you of course, and of course with President Chirac.
As you noted, we had a good exchange of views on a variety of subjects. We talked about the Middle East, we talked about Afghanistan. I had a chance to brief the President and the Foreign Minister on my trip to Moscow. I regret that the time is quite short this morning because Im on my way to a commemoration for the three-month anniversary of the bombings of September 11 in London. I was pleased to receive from the President of the Republic his condolences and his thoughtfulness once again on helping to commemorate this three-month anniversary. So it is good to be back in Paris and after the translation we will have time for a question or two.
QUESTION: Christophe de Roquefeuille, Agence France Presse. A two-part question, first half Mr. Powell. Germany has taken on the negotiation and sponsored the negotiations as to the political future of Afghanistan. What is your opinion as to the proposed leadership role of Britain in the military force, and what is your assessment of what role France can play in this force and more generally in the reconstruction of Afghanistan after the Taliban? The second half of the question is for Mr. Vedrine, do you think that (inaudible).
SECRETARY POWELL: hank you very much.
I am pleased that the United Kingdom is willing to step forward and volunteer for a leadership role and I expect I will have a chance to discuss this with Prime Minister Blair and Foreign Minister Straw later on today. It is important to get a UN resolution in place as quickly as possible and then the roles of individual countries, those who will be leaders and those who will be willing to contribute forces to the international security force, can be worked out. The French have shown a willingness to participate in this activity. Mr. Vedrine and I have had a chance to talk about the reconstruction effort that will be required afterwards, and I am pleased that France plans to play a very active role in the reconstruction effort.
FOREIGN MINISTER VEDRINE: As to your first question -- and I do not want to diminish the German approach, they had a very active and a very good and inventive diplomacy over the last few weeks -- but can I just remind you that the Petersburg conference was actually a UN conference, so it was not only Germany, Britain, France or anybody else, or the U.S. It was the UN who was at the forefront of the political negotiations. Mr. Brahimi the Secretary Generals Special Envoy worked, and the political Afghan delegations were brave enough to find a political agreement. I think that we should always bear that in mind, and we should bear in mind the attitude of the Afghan people themselves to outline the future of their country.
As for the future of Afghanistan proper, of course France will go along with that effort and support the effort to build and rebuild a new country including at the security level, and there are a number of ways we can do that. As to the specific modalities, we are currently discussing with our partners and we should shortly be making decisions. As for the military courts, both the President and the Prime Minister have said that they do not support exceptional courts.
QUESTION: (inaudible) Do you feel that the United States is on a roll and now that the next step should be Iraq? Could you clarify the administrations thinking on Iraq?
SECRETARY POWELL: The President has made no decision as to what actions we should take in the next phase of our campaign against terrorism, nor has he received any recommendations as to what the next step should be and that specifically includes Iraq.
FOREIGN MINISTER VEDRINE: This is something that is very important from our point of view. Mr. Powell has unfortunately had a very busy schedule, ten countries in eight days, so he has to leave now.
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