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Powell Outlines U.S. Goals for Iraq, Middle East Peace
Secretary of State urges nations of the region to embrace reform
The United States "intends to finish the work we have started" to rebuild Iraq and restore its sovereignty, Secretary of State Colin Powell assured the World Economic Forum in Jordan May 15.
Powell also affirmed that the United States "will not step back from our commitment to trying to find a solution to the Middle East's problem," and, on a broader regional basis, the United States will be "a friend for reform."
Regarding the Middle East peace process, Powell reaffirmed President Bush's commitment to a two-state vision, with "a Palestinian state that would live side-by-side, in peace, with Israel." The announced Israeli withdrawal from Gaza is an opportunity that should be seized, the secretary said, adding that the United States now is mobilizing the European Union and the United Nations to move forward on realizing the two-state vision.
On a broader note, Powell urged the nations of the Middle East to grasp the chance for reform. The United States cannot and will not impose reforms on any nation, the secretary said, but it can and will "reach out and create partnerships. ... [U]ltimately, reform has to come from within. It has to come from each and every nation of the region. ..."
"And in the G8 and in NATO, and in other international organizations, you have partners standing by, ready to help you," Powell added.
"The United States believes in this part of the world," the secretary concluded. "No one cares more that the United States of America, and no one stands willing to do more than the United States of America."
Following is the text of Secretary Powell's remarks:
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
Office of the Spokesman
(Dead Sea, Jordan)
May 15, 2004
Remarks by Secretary Of State Colin L. Powell,
At the World Economic Forum
Dead Sea, Jordan
SECRETARY POWELL: Thank you very much, Klaus, for that kind introduction, and good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. It's a great pleasure for me to be with you this afternoon. I'd like to congratulate you, Klaus, and your colleagues for preparing yet another extraordinary meeting of the World Economic Forum. I'm gratified to have been an early supporter of the concept of a World Economic Forum focused on this part of the world, and therefore pleased to be with you today. And I also would like to extend my thanks to His Majesty King Abdullah and Her Majesty Queen Rania, and all the people of Jordan for their extension, once again, of their well-known hospitality.
My friends, we're here to talk about the future -- as Klaus said, "in the spirit of optimistic pragmatism." We must always remember the past -- we must remember what has happened over the past year -- but we must admit that there's nothing we can do about the past except learn from it. We can, and we must, as you heard from His Majesty and from Jim, do something about the future -- all of us, working together, in partnership, hand-in-hand -- together. We have the power to shape a better future, to shape a better future for ourselves, for our families, for our children, for those who come after us. And posterity won't forgive us if we fail to take advantage of the opportunities that I see here before us.
At last year's conference, Iraq was at the center of our attention. It is again. To discuss Iraq with you, however, I must begin with a slight diversion. I must begin with a discussion of what happened at the prison known as Abu Ghraib. And for this discussion, let me, for a moment, take off my diplomat's suit and put back on the uniform that I proudly wore for 35 years, as a soldier of the American people, as a soldier in the United States army. What I saw in those pictures, and what you saw in those pictures, shocked me, as it shocked you -- it shocked all Americans. We were in a state of disbelief for days, as you were here, and around the world, as we saw what our young men and women had done. It was so inconsistent with the values that we uphold as a military, and the values that we uphold as a nation. It shocked us because we knew how it would affect the region. We knew the region would look at these photos, would look at what had happened, and say, "Is this the America that we believed in? Is this the America whose value system we have looked at and admired for so many years?"
We were deeply disturbed by what we had seen. It was so inconsistent with what I have seen during my years as a solider. For 35 years I had seen young men, young soldiers, die in battle to protect our principles, who had always fought with honor and integrity. We hold ourselves, and we hold our men and women in uniform, to the highest standard. Americans are indefatigable in battle, and we are compassionate in peace.
The United States helped to rebuild Europe, and parts of Asia, after World War II, after the Korean War. We've always gone through "rough patches" in the aftermath of these struggles. We've made mistakes, but we always succeeded. We always kept on track. We succeeded because America has an enormous capacity to do good; an enormous capacity to learn from its mistakes, and to move on.
Our many friends around the world share our anguish right now about the revelations of abuse at Abu Ghraib. I can tell you straight from my heart: we will deal with this. We will see that justice is done; we will make sure that any problems that we had within our system of command are dealt with. I want you to know that you are about to see American democracy in action. We are not hiding from what happened. The senior leadership of our Department of Defense has been before the Congress. The Congress wants to know what happened. Six investigations have been started by Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld. Don Rumsfeld made a trip earlier this week to Baghdad, and to that prison, to see for himself what the conditions were, and to make sure there was no confusion in the mind of any of our leaders there that we expected them to follow the highest standards of behavior with respect to those who are in our care, entrusted to our care. You will see, in the weeks to come, that we are a nation of justice, and the values that we have always held dear will be the values that we will follow to make sure that justice is done in this instance.
We ask at the same time that you not lose sight of the larger picture in Iraq. Today, thousands of American soldiers are building schoolhouses. They're shaking hands with young children. They're refurbishing hospitals. They're installing sanitation systems. Every day in Iraq, American soldiers, 18-, 19-, 20-year-old soldiers, perform thousands of acts of kindness and courage, just as they have done around the world in so many places, as they went to secure peace for others, to bring freedom for others. We're proud of these wonderful young men and women. We are proud of those who volunteered to go in service of their nation and to go in service of the cause of peace around the world.
Our heads bow, our hearts ache, over what a small number of them did at that prison. There's no excuse for that. But at the same time, take into account the magnificent work of so many of these youngsters, who have left their homes in America to serve in Iraq, to serve in other parts of the world where freedom has been at risk and is at risk, and their willingness to do this as members of a proud organization, the United States Armed Forces, and its representatives of a nation that does not seek dominion over anyone else. We seek sovereignty over no one else. The United States always comes to help, to lend a hand. To assist others on a path forward; to end poverty; to fight disease; to bring hope of a kind that His Majesty and Jim Wolfensohn spoke about, to any dark corner of the world. You will see our strength now. You will see how we respond to this challenge. You will see that the America that we asked you to believe in is still there. It is still strong. It is still the best hope for peace in this world, as we work with partners around the world.
We are moving ahead in Iraq to achieve the goals that we set out to achieve in the first place. Saddam Hussein is no longer in charge. His regime is no longer there, and they're not coming back. Instead, we're working with the people of Iraq, working with the United Nations, working with our coalition partners to set the way forward. Ambassador Brahimi has been back in Iraq for the last two weeks, working with leading figures throughout Iraq, working with the Coalitional Provisional Authority under Ambassador Bremer, working with us back in Washington, working with the Zone Associates at the UN for the purpose of implementing a plan that we fully support, a plan that would bring into being an interim government in Iraq, that would take over not later than the first of July. And this interim government would have a caretaker over it for the next six or seven or eight months, perhaps. But hopefully, by the end of January, 2005, this caretaker government would have put in place -- working with the UN and the rest of us -- conditions that would allow a free, fair, and open election resulting in a National Assembly, which can then -- in a representative way -- select a transitional government for the people of Iraq.
We hope that Ambassador Brahimi will finish his work in the next couple of weeks and identify individuals who will be the leaders of this interim government. We're looking for leaders who will be respected by the people of Iraq; who'll be accepted by the people of Iraq. And part of the Ambassador's work and our work is to make sure we've identified such individuals. Individuals who are honest. Individuals who are committed to democracy; who are committed to making sure that the past remains in the past and that Iraq will be moving forward towards freedom and dignity for every man and woman in the country. You can be sure that when those individuals have been found and Ambassador Brahimi has presented his report and his recommendation to the United Nations, the United States will be standing there with our Security Council colleagues, anxious to endorse the work of Ambassador Brahimi.
Over the last several days, I've had many conversations with members of the Security Council and I'm confident that it will be possible for us to bring forth a resolution that would endorse Ambassador Brahimi's work at the appropriate time. Yesterday there was a meeting of the G8 ministers in Washington, and we spoke of many, many things, but among the things we spoke of was how to make sure that we all come together and put the full weight of the industrialized world behind what Ambassador Brahimi is doing.
Beyond that, we had conversations about how, as part of this process moving forward, the selected members of this new interim government need to reach out, need to reach out here in the region, meet with the neighbors of Iraq, meet with other interested nations, to demonstrate to them that they are prepared to accept full sovereignty again, let them know what the agenda of this new government would be. And we all look forward to that day, that I hope is in the not-too-distant future, but certainly by the first of July, the 30th of June, the first of July, when Iraq has full sovereignty for its own people, and to set its own destiny, and to achieve its own dreams.
We are talking about the end of the Coalitional Provisional Authority. When Ambassador Bremer departs, having done a tremendous job under the most difficult circumstances, when he departs at the end of June, he will be replaced not by the American Ambassador who is coming in to set up our Mission, Ambassador Negroponte. Ambassador Bremer will be replaced by the Iraqi interim government. He will be replaced by a President and a Prime Minister and a Vice-President who are answerable to the people of Iraq. Ambassador Negroponte will be there to lead a large American diplomatic mission that will work in concert with the people of Iraq, in concert with the interim government, helping the interim government, using the resources that the American Congress has provided to us in the form of the $18 billion dollar supplemental, using those funds to help the people of Iraq reconstruct their sanitation systems and their oil infrastructure, build hospitals, build schools, provide educational material for young people, do all the things that are necessary to recreate a society and an economy that rest on the basis on freedom, and openness, and democracy.
Yes, our military force will remain as well, at the invitation of the interim government, we're sure. The security situation is such that it will be necessary for our troops to remain for some time. We know that the interim government will appreciate our willingness to go after these remaining elements of the old regime, to do something about these terrorists who have come to make trouble. But the one thing that will be clear on the first of July: those who are still fighting, those who are still trying to return Iraq to the past will no longer just be fighting the Coalition, they will be fighting their own people. They will be fighting their own leaders; they will be fighting those leaders who have stood up to say "Iraq must move forward." We must move forward down the path to democracy. We must find a way to put in place a government that rests on the individual rights of men and women, a government that is determined to live in peace with its neighbors.
We know that this will be a difficult task, and it is so important that all of us come together, and that we speak about it at this conference, how we can all come together to assist this interim government. To assist it in the next six or seven months as it performs its caretaker function, and also to assist the Iraqi people as they move to a transitional government, and then hopefully by the end of 2005, a permanent arrangement based on open, free and fair elections. I'm so pleased that the United Nations is playing a vital role, as we always wanted it to play in this process of moving forward. Mr. Brahimi is doing a magnificent job. We expect more UN personnel to get involved. Ms. Pirelli has done a good job in spreading the structure, the electoral system that the Iraqi people will need as they move forward.
We believe that the liberation of the Iraqi people after decades of tyranny provides an opportunity for Iraq, for the Iraqi people, to chart a course to freedom and prosperity. Their success will create an example that can be used for the region and other parts of the world. The stakes in Iraq are high -- for all of us. That's why all who want a Middle East that is at peace, that's prosperous, that's culturally vital and politically free, must join together to succeed in Iraq, to make sure that Iraq succeeds. You can be sure of the determination of the United States, of the determination of President Bush and of the American people, to see this through to the end. The despotic regime has been removed. A regime that filled mass graves; a regime that squandered the resources of its people. That regime is not coming back. Now we all must come together to put in place a government that is so different from the regime that is gone, a government that rests on democracy and freedom, the rights of men and women. A government that will live in peace with its neighbors. A government that will be an example to the rest of the region.
We have many challenges in this part of the world, and Iraq is certainly the one that dominates so much of our thinking. But we have also been spending a great deal of time in Washington D.C., and in the various meetings that we have been participating in, the Quartet meeting, and the G8 meeting yesterday, and the way in which we have been reaching out to our Arab friends and our Israeli friends, to see how we could jump-start the Middle East peace process. As the King said a few moments ago, until we get movement with this issue, until we start to re-start this process, it will always, always be a weight on this region, a weight on our ability to accomplish anything else in this region.
The President is absolutely committed, with no change whatsoever, absolutely committed, to the vision that he presented to the world in June of 2002, when he spoke of the creation of a Palestinian state that would live side-by-side, in peace, with Israel, as friends and as neighbors, and live in peace together forever. He committed himself to that clear and simple goal and we took action on it. Our hopes were high last year when we came to Sharm al-Sheikh and then Aqaba, and we tried to get started with a new Palestinian Prime Minister, but it didn't turn out the way we hoped it would, and now we are starting again. I met earlier with Prime Minister Qurei, and I hope that we can show him that we are there to help.
Recently, the President has had meetings in Washington -- one you are all very familiar with, with Prime Minister Sharon -- and then not too long ago with King Abdullah. We have met with other Arab leaders. The reason the President took the actions that we have taken over the last several weeks was as simple as this: the process was not moving, despite the best efforts on the part of everyone, and despite the work of the Quartet, despite consultations and conferences, we were not getting anywhere, the process was not taking us anywhere. Prime Minister Sharon came forward with an opportunity: the elimination of settlements in Gaza and the beginning of the elimination of settlements in the West Bank. It was an opportunity we felt we should seize, because for the first time we were seeing the removal of settlements and not the addition of settlements. It is something we had all hoped for. But in order to take advantage of that opportunity, the President and I, and my other colleagues, felt it was necessary to acknowledge certain realities that you're all well aware of, and that the President mentioned when he spoke to Prime Minister Sharon.
At the same time, the President made it clear in that speech, and he made it clear in all the subsequent remarks and in the letters that he has provided to Arab leaders, that we remain totally committed to the simple proposition that "final status issues" must be resolved between the parties themselves and cannot be imposed from outside. That everything that is done as we go forward has to be consistent with the Roadmap. That the whole basis of the solution rests on the well-known UN resolutions 242, 338 and others. He fully understands the concept embedded in the Roadmap, the work of the Quartet, 242, 338 and the need for mutual agreement on final status issues.
But we did not want to miss this new opportunity, where settlements were actually going to be removed. And the removal of those settlements could get us back into the Roadmap process. And so that is what the President did. It was a bold decision, a controversial decision. I think in recent weeks we have been able to convey to our friends in the region, both in Israel and throughout the Arab region, that the President's vision remains the same: two states, living side-by-side in peace with each other.
We are now mobilizing other actors to work with us to this end: the European Union, the United Nations, all the members of the Quartet. We spent a great deal of time with all of them, and I think they all now see that-- whether it's the Quartet, the G8, or other individuals that I've spoken to -- now realize that this is an opportunity that we should try to seize. We will have to wait for Prime Minister Sharon to finish his review of the situation in light of the Likud vote, and once he has done that and announced what his final plan is to move forward, then I think that opportunity is before us again, and we must seize it and find a way to take maximum advantage of it.
In my conversations with Palestinians, I have encouraged them to now start thinking about how they would take charge in Gaza, how they would get ready for this transformation that is coming. How they would provide security. How they would work to end terrorism, how they can be helped by the international community, how they can be helped by their Egyptian and Jordanian friends. What must we do now to make ourselves ready for the opportunity that I believe is there in the future? This is yet another chance for peace. Yet another chance to break out of this terrible tragedy that has bedeviled the world for oh so long. We must not lose this opportunity.
Another opportunity we must not lose that has been spoken to already is the chance for reform. Reform is in the air; everyone touches on it. Reform is needed by all of the nations of the region. The United States does not intend to impose reform on anyone; we couldn't if we wanted to. What we have been doing in recent months is working with our friends in the Arab world to see what they think is appropriate. We have taken note of the UN development reports, we have taken note of the Alexandria Library Conference, we have taken note of all the things that are happening within the region. We've taken note of the ministerial meetings that have taken place, and we can sense that there is a groundswell in this part of the world for reform, for political reform, for economic reform, for social reform. There is a groundswell in this part of the world for educational reform, to make sure that your young people are being prepared not for the challenges of two centuries ago, but for the challenges of the twenty-first century. Are your young people being given the educational skills they'll need to get the jobs that are going to be out there waiting for them, in this rapidly-changing world, the kind that Jim Wolfensohn works on every single day. There are so many elements to the process of reform. And what we need to do is to get into a dialogue.
What we need to do is to reach out and create partnerships. The United States knows full well that there can be no one "cookie cutter," as we say in America, no one simple template that will fit all the countries of the region. Each one different, each one with its own history, culture, each one with its own aspirations and desires, hopes and dreams. Each one at a different spot on the road to reform.
What we want to do, is to embrace what you want to do, to work with you, create partnerships, and the United States, the other industrialized nations of the world, and the G8, and other international organizations, want to partner with you. We discussed this at considerable length at the G8 Ministerial Meeting yesterday, and I'm pleased to say that there was a great deal of convergence on a document that we will be presenting to the G8 summit leaders next month. I think you will see that it is a document that welcomes your initiative to reform, wants to enter into partnerships with you, wants to talk about how we institutionalize these partnerships. How can other organizations play a role? Can NATO play a role? How can the EU be more deeply involved? How do we use the Madrid process, the Barcelona process? All the other for a that are out there that deal with these kinds of issues? So what you will find from the G8 meeting next month is a reaching out, a reaching out on the part of the G8 leaders, a reaching out to the Arab world, to help you, as you proceed down the path of reform. We can bring ideas to the table. We can bring funds to the table. We can bring capacity to the table. But ultimately, reform has to come from within. It has to come from each and every nation of the region.
Reform has to be of the kind that you have heard mentioned today with respect to Jordan, and so many other countries in the region that are moving in the direction of reform. We need to train judges, and parliamentarians, and journalists, and promote innovation in education, promote the participation of women in society at all levels. These are not words that come from me because I thought it up late at night, these are words that come from your own intellectuals, from your own scholars, from your own political leaders who know what has to be done. And in the G8 and in NATO, and in other international organizations, you have partners standing by, ready to help you.
And so my message to you, this afternoon, is that the United States of America believes in this part of the world. The United States of America wants to be a friend and a partner to every nation, to every people in this part of the world. The United States of America intends to finish the work that was started in Iraq. We intend to help the Iraqi people build a government and build a society that rests on a foundation of law, that will be a proud member of the Middle East the Gulf area, family. An Iraq that will no longer be threatening its neighbors and as soon as that work is done, the United States looks forward to stepping back, as Iraqi Security forces take over full responsibility for their country. As I said earlier, we never seek dominion; we never seek sovereignty over any other land. We do not seek anyone else's resources. We come, sometimes as soldiers, but always in the cause of peace, not in the cause of conquest. I hope that, as we move forward, you will see that our goals are achieved, and it begins with the creation of the interim government at the end of next month.
The United States also will not step back from our commitment to trying to find a solution to the Middle East's problem. We will not stop working with our Palestinian and Israeli colleagues to move this process forward. We will take risks, risks that may be controversial when you see what we do from time to time, as we saw recently when we made our announcements in Washington concerning Mr. Sharon's plan. But we will take those risks, and we will endure the controversy, when we think it is in the cause of peace. When we think it is in the cause of moving the whole process forward.
And above all, you will find in America a friend for reform. A friend and a partner that wants to do everything we possibly can to help you give hope to a new generation of Arabs, give hope to the women of your land, give hope to all people who are striving for freedom, give hope to all who want to see a better world. To give hope to those who are struggling, and sick, and in poverty, and wonder if anyone cares. We have to let them know that we all care, and no one cares more than the United States of America, and no one stands willing to do more than the United States of America. Thank you very much.