Cooperation is best weapon, Powell says©Associated Press
August 4, 2002
MANILA, Philippines -- Secretary of State Colin Powell finished his eight-nation Asia tour Saturday and said he has seen progress in cooperation among Southeast Asian nations in fighting terrorism.
Washington fears Muslim extremism could fester in the region and provide al-Qaida with an alternative base after being driven out of Afghanistan. Several Muslim extremist groups in Southeast Asia have been linked to al-Qaida, including the brutal Abu Sayyaf in the Philippines that was the target of the first expansion in the U.S. war on terrorism outside Afghanistan.
"In order to get these terrorists, not only al-Qaida, but other terrorists such as Abu Sayyaf, we have to work with our friends and allies, we have to connect our intelligence systems, connect our law enforcement systems, look at the financial transactions that these terrorist groups use to sustain themselves," Powell told a news conference after a breakfast with Philippine President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo and her Cabinet.
"In that regard, I am very pleased with what we have been able to do with nations around the world, but especially here in Southeast Asia."
Powell also said he does not take seriously an Iraqi expression of interest in allowing the return of U.N. weapons inspectors.
"We have seen the Iraqis try to fiddle with the inspection system before. You can tell that they are trying to get out of the clear requirement that they have."
He said the United States is providing the Philippines with an extra $55-million in aid for the fight against domestic terrorism, in addition to $100-million already allocated to fight poverty in the former U.S. colony. Much of that is aimed at fostering development in the southern Mindanao region, site of a decades-long Muslim separatist movement that gave birth to the Abu Sayyaf.
A six-month counterterrorism exercise involving 1,200 American troops wrapped up in that area Wednesday. Another series of training exercises is to start in October around the country and stretch for eight months.
After his second straight 16-hour stop, Powell headed back to Washington, where he is due to meet with a delegation of Palestinians next week.
"Everybody is concerned about the violence in the Middle East," Powell said. "I think everywhere I have gone, it has been a subject of discussion. Everybody recognizes how difficult a challenge it is. But we can't give up. We must continue to find a path forward."
Iranians, Saudis object to U.S. strike on Iraq
TEHRAN, Iran -- Key Iranian and Saudi officials Saturday said they could not support a U.S. military strike against Iraq and would, instead, encourage Saddam Hussein to comply with U.N. resolutions.
"All the countries of the world, especially neighbors of Iraq, should make plans to encourage Iraq to observe the resolutions of the U.N. in order to remove any ground and possibility for aggression against Iraq," President Mohammad Khatami told Saudi Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisal, during his one-day stop in Tehran.
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