October 30, 2002

Secretary Colin L. Powell

Remarks With German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer
After Their Meeting
Washington, DC

SECRETARY POWELL: Well, good evening, ladies and gentlemen. It's been my pleasure to again host my colleague, Joschka Fischer. We've just completed a very full discussion of our bilateral relations as well as our alliance relations. We are both looking forward to the summit in Prague that is coming up where I'm quite confident we will extend invitations to a number of countries to expand the NATO alliance.
We also talked about the situation in Iraq and I updated the Minister on the work we are doing in the United Nations to obtain a resolution that is tough, puts the inspectors back in, and communicated to him our position with respect to the need for consequences in such a resolution. And the Minister, of course, expressed his opinion, and I'm sure he will in a moment here.
We reviewed the status of ESDP developments. We also touched on the Middle East briefly and we touched on Afghanistan and the full range of issues.
Whenever the Minister and I are together, we always have open, candid conversations, as befitting two nations that have been through much together over the last 50 years and are close allies and close friends.
From time to time, there are disturbances in the relationship, there are points where we have disagreements, and as befitting the kind of relationship we have, we are confident that in due course we will get over these disagreements and we'll find ways to resolve any differences that may exist.
So once again, Joschka, a pleasure to have you, sir.

MINISTER FISCHER: Thank you, Colin.
Thank you very much for the warm welcome. I am very glad to be here. And we discussed a wide range of issues and international affairs. We discussed about the war against terror and the situation in the Middle East, the situation with the resolution about Iraq and the Security Council. And we think and we agree that there should be found now an agreement and that all relevant resolutions must be implemented immediately by the regime in Baghdad so that Hans Blix and his team can start their job immediately.
There is a disagreement about possible military action, but nevertheless we are full supportive for the implementation of the Security Council resolution and the beginning of the job of Blix and his team.
And we discussed about the NATO summit. It's a very important summit about NATO enlargement. I informed my friend Colin Powell about the last EU summit. It's also a very important summit because this means that in Copenhagen in December we will open the doors for ten new members for the EU and this will create stability and peace in Europe. This is in our common interest.
We discussed about and analyzed the situation in the war against terror. We are fighting against ,side by side as good allies, against this terrible threat of international terrorism. So we have a lot of common issues to discuss. We are close allies, and I think that if there are differences and turbulences, we will discuss these problems inside the family.
Let me stress and let me underline how important the relations between the United States -- the relations to the United States are for the Federal Republic of Germany, and we'll never forget what the United States have done do liberate us from Nazism, to help to build up the German democracy, to defend us during the Cold War, especially Berlin. And thanks very personally to you, too, Colin. As a soldier, you contributed a lot to that and you know our country. And we'll never forget, also, the role of the United States in unification. Once again, thank you very much for that and for the warm welcome.

QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, I wonder if I could ask you to clarify what you said a few hours ago on a radio interview. You spoke of the inspectors needing months to do their job and you said the President will wait until they complete the job.
Are you foreclosing military action before the inspections are conducted and the reports come back?

SECRETARY POWELL: No. I think the clear impression that I was -- the impression I was trying to convey is that once the inspectors go in it will take some time for them to do their job. They won't be able to do their job unless Iraq cooperates. And if there is immediately non-cooperation on the part of Iraq, that, I think, is an absolute red line and that has to come back to the Council immediately. But it will take some time for the inspectors do to their job.
But we have to see whether or not Iraq will cooperate and permit the inspectors to do their job, and during that period, obviously, in execution of such a resolution, the United States and all member nations of the Security Council and of the United Nations will watch and see how the inspections are going and whether or not there is a level of cooperation with Iraq that suggests the inspections should continue.

QUESTION: But that will not handcuff, to use your word, the U.S.?

SECRETARY POWELL: No, there is nothing that we propose in this resolution or we would find acceptable in a resolution that would handcuff the President of the United States from doing what he feels he must do to defend the United States, defend our people, and defend our interests in the world.
But he is also anxious to pursue this matter through the United Nations. He has demonstrated that clearly with his speech on the 12th of September. I think we've demonstrated by the patience we have shown and by our willingness to listen to the views of others over the last six-plus weeks. But at no time will the United States foreclose its ability to act in its interests in accordance with its constitutional obligations to protect the nation and protect the people.
And I believe that with a little more hard work on the part of all concerned, we can find a way to accommodate the interests of our friends without in any way, as I've said before, handcuffing the United States.

QUESTION: Mr. Fischer, is Germany in line with Russia, France and Mexico in the Security Council? Do you agree with their position?
And Mr. Powell, is it true that the United States, it is upset with Mexico because their position on Iraq in the Security Council?
Can I have both comments, too?

MINISTER FISCHER: Well, we are -- we will be a member of the Security Council beginning with January the 1st, but up to now we are not a member of the Security Council. We have an interest of an agreement between the members of the Security Council because we think that if there is an agreement this will be a strong message to the regime in Baghdad if there is an agreed, common, unified position. Therefore, we hope that the members of the Security Council will find such a position to give a strong message and that then we think that Blix must start immediately his job and go into Iraq and do what he really has to do. This is our position.

SECRETARY POWELL: With respect to Mexico, President Bush and President Fox had good discussions about the Iraq situation at the summit, APEC summit meeting in Los Cabos. And no, we're not upset. We had good discussions and we're confident that Mexico will weigh this issue very carefully and will vote in a way that represents their interests.
And we hope that a case will be made that the resolution the United States put forward will be worthy of Mexican support. But that's a decision for the Mexican President to make. But no, we're not upset. We're talking to all of our friends in the Security Council and listening to different points of view.

QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, is the atmosphere still poisoned between Germany and the United States?

SECRETARY POWELL: I wouldn't say there is a poisoned atmosphere. I would say that we are two friends, two allies, that occasionally find ourselves with areas of disagreement and some rough spots. And as I think both Joschka and I have said, we don't hide from these disagreements, we don't pretend there are no rough spots. There are rough spots. But because we are friends and our two nations are allied, we will find ways to get these disagreements and rough spots behind us in due course.

QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, you have indicated that there is some agreement or approaching an agreement with the French in the Security Council. Are you approaching agreement on a two-resolution approach?

SECRETARY POWELL: We are working on one resolution and the approach that we're looking at would permit the Security Council to immediately convene in the presence of continued or new Iraqi violation of resolutions. And in that discussion that would take place when the Security Council convenes, the Security Council can choose to do what it chooses to do, whether that's another resolution or just a continued debate.
While that discussion and debate is taking place, the United States retains its full authority to do whatever the United States feels it might need to do to protect its interests. But there will be a period of time there while the situation is being examined for the Security Council to consider additional moves and for the United States to consider what is in its best interest.

QUESTION: Mr. Secretary --

QUESTION: Mr. Secretary --

SECRETARY POWELL: Yes, right. I'll come to you in a minute. Teri.

QUESTION: It seems that Russia has indicated it's starting to come to agreement, will be dropping some of its objections to the words "material breach" in --

SECRETARY POWELL: I'm sorry. A little louder, please?

QUESTION: Russia is dropping some of its objections to the text that we've seen clearly on the "material breach." What kind of reassurances is it asking from the US in exchange for coming further to your side on this?

SECRETARY POWELL: I think it's best that we let these diplomatic exchanges take place in a nice, quiet, diplomatic rooms.

QUESTION: Mr. Fischer, can you tell us whether you support the current efforts by the United States administration to get this resolution coming to an end?

MINISTER FISCHER: I cannot give any details about the present negotiation situation because we are not part of thee negotiations in New York. We support a unified position of the Security Council and we hope that especially the P-5 members can agree on a common approach.

QUESTION: Did you talk about the rough spots that your colleague just mentioned?

QUESTION: Mr. Secretary --


QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, will you recommend to the President to invite his opposite in Germany, the German Chancellor, to come to Washington, DC?

SECRETARY POWELL: Well, as you know, there is a summit meeting coming up in Prague in November and all of the heads of state and government will be there, and I'm sure they'll all have a chance to see each other at one point or another in the context of that summit meeting.
Thank you.

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