Powell Calls Spain Attacks Reminder of Global Terrorist Threat


Sunday  March 14, 2004

Rice says terrorists will do "anything" to intimidate

By Kathryn McConnell
Washington File Staff Writer

The March 11 attacks in Spain serve as a reminder that no country is immune to the threat of terrorism, says U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell.

In a March 14 interview on the Fox television network, Powell said he hoped world leaders would not "shrink from their responsibilities" in continuing the fight on terrorism.

In interviews the same day on the NBC and CNN networks respectively, National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld said those responsible for the attacks in Spain are still unknown. But the attacks that killed 200 and injured 1,500, according to news reports, demonstrate that "terrorists will do anything in the name of a cause ... to intimidate," Rice said.

Terrorists have recently operated in many countries, including Saudi Arabia, Indonesia and Turkey, Rumsfeld said on CBS's Face the Nation.

Speaking of America's ongoing war on terrorism, Rice said "we are succeeding slowly but surely because [the terrorists'] world is getting smaller."

"The [number of] places where they can operate with impunity is shrinking," she said.

On developments in Iraq, where the Governing Council signed an interim constitution March 8, International Women's Day, Powell called the democratic processes emerging in the country "exciting." Iraqis, preparing for parliamentary elections in June, are bringing "diverse voices together -- not just one segment of the population," he said.

The signing of the interim constitution, Rumsfeld said on CBS, is a "remarkable transitional start towards self government."

Iraq now has 25 million people who have been liberated, operational schools and hospitals, and a new currency and central bank, he said.

Regarding the continued involvement of the United States in Iraq, Powell said that if the United States continues to "show determination, if we help the Iraqi people, we'll put in place a stable democracy in Iraq ... that will be an example for the rest of the region and an example to the world."

Noting that this week marks one year since the U.S.-led coalition invaded Iraq, Powell said that "the major achievement [of the U.S. involvement] is that [Saddam Hussein] and his awful regime are gone."

"No more mass graves are being filled. We don't have to debate about weapons of mass destruction any longer because we know there will be none in the future. And we have taken this country that has been so brutally oppressed by a dictatorial leader and put it on a path to democracy," he said.

Powell added that countries in the Middle East are making democratic progress, particularly in relation to the status of women.

Powell, Rumsfeld and Rice disputed allegations that the Bush administration acted on erroneous information when deciding to invade Iraq in March 2003.

"We put forward the best evidence we had at the time," Powell said.

Regarding Iran, Powell said the United States will look to the United Nations for leadership if the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) finds that country in violation of its agreement to disclose information about its acquired technology to make atomic bomb-grade uranium.

In an ABC network interview later in the day, Powell said the United States is working with Russia regarding "common threats" in Georgia and Central Asia, including terrorism, illegal immigration and drugs.

However, he said, the United States is also discussing with Russia areas in which the U.S. thinks Russia is "moving in the wrong direction ... inconsistent with democracy."


(The Washington File is a product of the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site: http://usinfo.state.gov)


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