European Union, U.S. Agree on Iraq
By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Feb. 27, 2003 The United States and the European Union share the same objectives in Iraq, Secretary of State Colin Powell said today following a meeting with EU ministers here.
He said all countries want Saddam Hussein to disarm his weapons of mass destruction programs. "The United States and some of our European friends have differences on the next steps to be taken, and we are exploring those differences in an open, honest and candid fashion," Powell said.
The two sides also discussed North Korea, the Middle East and Cyprus.
Powell told the EU ministers that he was pleased to see the European council's Feb. 17 statement that called on the Iraqi dictator to comply with U.N. Security Council Resolution 1441 to disarm.
"We're all hopeful for a peaceful solution, but we all understand that 1441 provided for serious consequences if Saddam Hussein did not comply," Powell said. "We and the European Union agree it is important to keep the focus on Saddam and his obligations to disarm. The responsibility and the decision to comply with the international community rest with him, and we believe it is time for him to come clean."
Of the Israeli-Palestinian situation, Powell said both sides want to move ahead quickly. The United States is prepared to work with all concerned to see a reformed and democratic leadership in Palestine and a halt to Israeli settlements in the occupied territories. He reiterated President Bush's televised statement from last night that a free, democratic Iraq could help bring peace to the troubled region.
He said the European Union shares the United States' deep concern over North Korea's continuing activities in weapons proliferation and its nuclear weapons program.
"North Korea must honor international commitments and completely and verifiably eliminate its nuclear weapons program," he said, adding the United States welcomes the Union's help in this matter. The issue is a great concern to North Korea's neighbors, the United States and the world, he said.
Finally, the men spoke about efforts to solve the problem of Cyprus. The island nation has been divided into ethnic Greek and Turkish sectors since the 1970s. Powell praised U.N. efforts to resolve the longstanding ethnic dispute. "We hope that Cyprus can enter the European Union as a united country," he said.