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Colin Powell: "We're moving in the right direction."
Joschka Fischer: "I think this is a very important step forward"

Der deutsche und der US-Außenminister vor der Presse über den Irak, Iran und Afghanistan. Im Wortlaut (engl.)

Im Folgenden dokumentieren wir wesentliche Auszüge aus der Pressekonferenz, die im Anschluss an das Gespräch zwischen US-Außenminister Colin Powell und dem deutschen Außenminister Joseph Fischer am 17. November in Washington abgehalten wurde. Es ging vor allem um Afghanistan (hier herrscht weitgehend Übereinstimmung zwischen den Gesprächspartnern), den Irak (Fischer betont hier das nicht-militärische Engagement) und den Iran (Powell beurteilt das iranische Atomprogramm skeptischer als die EU).
Die Zwischenüberschriften wurden von uns angebracht; sie dienen der besseren thematischen Orientierung.

Secretary Powell and Minister Fischer
Before the Press on November 17*, 2003

SEC. POWELL: Well, good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. It's been my pleasure once again to host my colleague and good friend, Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer. We've had a very good discussion over lunch on the state of U.S.-Germany bilateral relations, which I think are solid. And the disagreements that we have had in the past, we are leaving in the past as we move forward on discussing issues of mutual interest to our two countries, the alliance that we belong to -- NATO; as well as issues relating to our relationship with the European Union.
I'll be leaving tonight for European Union meetings tomorrow, and I look forward to those meetings.
And so, I think we're moving in the right direction. Germany has been especially helpful with the alliance efforts, the coalition efforts in Afghanistan; willingness to take on responsibility for a provincial reconstruction team at Kunduz, and a very significant financial contribution from Germany toward the rebuilding efforts in Afghanistan.
And we also had an opportunity to discuss the work that Foreign Minister Fischer, joined by Foreign Secretary Straw and Foreign Minister de Villepin, have been doing with respect to the Iranian nuclear program. And I thanked him for those efforts. I will have a chance to discuss that further with my other European Union colleagues tomorrow.
And so, Joschka, it's a great pleasure to have you here. I invite you to say a word, and then we'll take a couple of questions.

MIN. FISCHER: Thank you very much. First of all, I conveyed my condolences and sympathy to my colleague, Colin Powell, about the death of American servicemen who were killed in Iraq. We were also shocked about what happened with the Italian Carabinieri, and about these outrageous and terrible terror attack against synagogues during the Shabbat in Turkey. It reflects the situation of today, and we must cooperate very closely in the transatlantic family. And therefore, we appreciated very much that Colin is going to Brussels. We discussed the initiative now to move forward with the transfer of sovereignty in Iraq. We appreciate that step forward, and hopefully it can be broadened and -- towards the U.N.
We discussed about the Middle East conflict, Iran, Afghanistan, the whole variety of crises. We are cooperating very closely, and we discussed about the transatlantic relationship.
Once again, it's good to be here in Washington, have very close discussions with my friend Colin Powell. Thank you very much.

SEC. POWELL: Thank you.

Q Mr. Minister, may I ask you -- two parts. First of all, do you think the U.S. is victimized by terrorism in Iraq? You spoke about terror on several fronts. Is terror part of the problem?
And secondly, what is your impression -- do you approve -- does your government approve of the changes in the time line, the acceleration, et cetera? Will it meet international wishes?

MIN. FISCHER: I don't know exactly whether I understood what you mean with the first part of your question, but definitely we have terrorism, an international terrorism, more and more also in Iraq. It happened there. I mean, the attack on the U.N. headquarter, on the International Red Cross, on the Jordanian embassy and also the terrorist attack on Italian soldiers and Carabinieri -- I mean, it's quite clear.
On the second part of your question, please?

Irak und die UNO

Q The second part: Does your government approve of the shift in accelerating the takeover by Iraqis of their own country?

MIN. FISCHER: Of course I think this is a very important step forward that we will have now a time line for a transition of authority and sovereignty to an Iraqi government. I think this could be very helpful.
And what we can do, we will do to contribute to this positive development. And if the U.N. can play here a role, I think this could be also very helpful.

SEC. POWELL: I just might add a word. The minister mentioned the U.N. in two of his references, and I have been in touch with Secretary-General Annan within the last 24 hours to discuss the role the U.N. might play and to inquire of him how he is coming along with respect to designating a new secretary-general's representative for Iraq. And we want the U.N. to play a role, and it is a part of our plan in moving forward.

Q Mr. Secretary, could I ask about the U.N. role, what role you do envision the U.N. playing, and also, if I could ask about the recent tape that Saddam Hussein apparently issued, what concern that gives you that he's able to continue to issue these while the security situation is worsening?

SEC. POWELL: U.N. Resolution 1511 and earlier U.N. resolutions provided for the role to be played by the U.N., and I think Secretary- General Annan and his staff are anxious to play that role. The problem we have had is security, and concern for the welfare of U.N. personnel in Iraq after the tragic loss of Sergio de Mello and a number of other people. But I think it's time now, with this new plan, for the U.N. to determine whether or not circumstances will permit it to play a more active role inside the country. And Ambassador Bremer and I have discussed this, and I know that he is anxious to cooperate with U.N. representation in the country as we move forward. Whether any further U.N. action might be required as we execute this plan, in the form of another U.N. resolution or not, that all remains to be seen, and we'll make a judgment on that as we move forward.
With respect to the tape, I don't think we have any confirmation yet whether it is or is not Saddam Hussein. But as the president said yesterday, it's just more propaganda, will not influence us one way or the other as we go about defeating these terrorists and defeating these remnants of his old regime who are trying to deny the Iraqi people freedom, peace and security in their own land. They will be defeated.
Q Did you discuss the French position, who say that the transfer of authority doesn't go fast enough, it should happen by the end of the year? And do you have a joint position on that French position?

MIN. FISCHER: (…) Well, I think first of all, it's an important step forward in the right direction and what we can do to create a positive dynamic, and I think this is crucial, and strengthen the legitimacy of this process of transferring sovereignty, which is now a move forward by the United States and agreement of Mr. Bremer and the Governing Council we should do. But to go into the details, I think a press conference is not the right place.

Iran und die Atomwaffen

Q Mr. Secretary? Minister Fischer, primarily; as one of the people who went to Iran shortly before the October 31st deadline, you've surely been watching that situation carefully. What did you think of the U.S. assessment already that the IAEA report is, quote, "impossible to believe"? And does the German government share that assessment?

MIN. FISCHER: Well, first of all, I think it's very important that we are moving forward based on realism, and realism must be based on transparency. And these are the basic principles of the agreement the three of us -- the foreign minister of the United Kingdom, France and myself -- reached with the Iranian side in Tehran. I think we are moving in the right direction, but we must go now into the details. It means full compliance, and this must be measured by the IAEA. So, if we are moving in the right direction, I think it's a good message, but it must be based, once again, on realism.

Q But what about the report? You didn't answer my question. What does the German government think about the IAEA report issued by ElBaradei?

MIN. FISCHER: Well, we will discuss it now, I think, in a constructive way inside the board of governors. I mean, discussion will not happen here on the press conference, it will happen and take place in the board of governors. But we are quite positive about the whole atmosphere. But once again, we must be realists.

Q Mr. Secretary, is the possibility of turning Iraq into some sort of formal NATO mission, formal NATO undertaking, is this possible? Is it desirable, sir?

SEC. POWELL: I wouldn't rule out anything at this point. I know that NATO has discussed this, and I've had discussions at NATO. But right now, I think it's premature to think about that. As we get further down the road on this new plan that we have, we can look at a variety of options. But I think it would be premature to rule that in or rule that out at this point. It's something to be discussed and thought about as we go forward.
Over to our European friends. Yeah?

Q Are there any new expectations or suggestions with regard to Germany helping out in Iraq?

SEC. POWELL: No. We had an open and candid conversation about it. Germany has made some offers with respect to some kinds of training that might be provided. But the German position is well known.
(To Minister Fischer) I don't know if you want to add anything.

MIN. FISCHER: Well, I mean, during the meeting of the president and the chancellor in New York, the chancellor made the proposal that we will be helpful in police training. We are helpful also in reconstruction. We have a small reconstruction team for water supply in Baghdad. And we are helpful also in humanitarian aid.
But in military terms, we are focused on Afghanistan, and there, I mean, we are the biggest -- after the United States, are the biggest troop contributor. I think our troops are doing a pretty good in Afghanistan. And we increased our engagement now with a decision to take over a provincial reconstruction team in Kunduz. And we will focus mostly on Afghanistan.

Die Haltung der EU zum Iran

Q Mr. Secretary, EU foreign policy representative Solana said that the Iranians provided "honest data" -- quote, end of quote -- about their nuclear program. Does the administration agree with that?

SEC. POWELL: I wouldn't have gone quite as far.
The Iranians have provided us a great deal of information. It confirms what the United States has been saying for some time -- and which we believe -- that the Iranian nuclear development program was for more than just the production of power, that it had an intent of producing a nuclear weapon. And I think that the information that has come forward establishes that. For a long time, we were the only ones who were sort of pressing the case.
I think that my three colleagues -- the EU three played a very, very helpful role in going to Tehran on a couple of occasions and putting the facts before the Iranians and coming back with a very, very positive and productive result.
But I don't think this matter is finished. I think we have to remain vigilant. As the minister said, we have to be realistic. But realism means making sure that the Iranians tell us every single thing there is to know about what they have been doing with respect to nuclear developments of all kinds, so that the international community can make an informed, comprehensive and full judgment as to what they have been doing and whether they have stopped doing the things that we have been suggesting for some time they were doing that were inconsistent with their obligations and should cause all of us to have serious concerns about judging too quickly whether or not we have now received the full and complete story from the Iranians.

Thank you. (The secretary escorts the foreign minister to his car and then returns.)

Quelle: www.germany-info.org

* In der Quelle stand der 16. November als Datum. Die Pressekonferenz fand aber tatsächlich erst am Nachmittag des 17. November (Ortszeit Washington) statt.

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