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Powell: Iraq's Recovery Likely To Be Easier Than Afghanistan's

By Kathleen T. Rhem
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Jan. 8, 2003 – Iraq will have an easier time recovering from Saddam Hussein than Afghanistan has had recovering from the Taliban, Secretary of State Colin Powell said Jan. 7.

American officials have acknowledged for months they are writing plans for helping Iraq recover from any possible military conflict. Powell said during an interview on Public Radio International that helping Iraq should prove easier than helping Afghanistan has been.

"In Iraq you have a different situation where you wouldn't be working with a country that has absolutely nothing going for it at the beginning, having been run by something like the Taliban," Powell said.

The secretary explained that Iraq has an educated population, a middle class and a solid source of income: "oil money that would no longer be wasted on weapons and threatening one's neighbors, but on improving the country."

Powell took umbrage at a reporter's suggestion that Afghanistan is still a country of "rampant lawlessness and warlordism." He pointed out many of the successes achieved by the international community and Afghanistan's transitional government over the past year.

Powell admitted there are pockets of instability in the country, but said the government of Afghanistan is working to build and strengthen its national army, police force and judicial system to deal with these issues.

"The glass may not be full yet in Afghanistan," he said, "but it certainly isn't empty."

Powell also resisted comparisons between Iraq and North Korea. But he did note that Iraq has been defying U.N. rulings for 12 years, while North Korea's deceptions about its nuclear program surfaced mere months ago.

The United States and the rest of the world are hoping for a peaceful solution to the problem of dealing with North Korea, he said. He also said the United States is willing to hold talks with the government of North Korea but that the United States would not accept conditions for North Korea abandoning its nuclear goals.

"We can't enter into a dialogue where the North Koreans sit across the table from us in complete violation of their obligations and say to us, 'What will you give us in order for us to stop misbehaving?'" Powell said.

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Related Sites:
Secretary of State Colin L. Powell Interview on Public Radio International's 'The World Radio Program,' Jan. 7, 2003

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