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1/13/04 - POWELL ON DRAMATIC EVENTS - 2004-01-14

Thanks to U.S.-led coalitions, Afghanistan and Iraq have been freed and the world is a safer place. And, says U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell, “some dramatic things” have taken place in other parts of the world, including the African continent:

“We saw Libya decide, after many years, that it wasn’t worth the game, it wasn’t worth the candle, to continue to develop weapons of mass destruction. And as a result [of] a very, very solid diplomacy on the part of the United Kingdom and the United states working with the Libyans, you are aware of the announcements that have been made, and we are following up to make sure that we get verified removal of those weapons and programs of mass destruction, and then we will be in conversation with the Libyans as to what the nature of our relationship will be in the future. But verify first."

Diplomacy doesn’t happen overnight. But it is working in Libya and, says Mr. Powell, “we see an improvement” in Sudan:

“The negotiators in Lake Naivasha in Kenya have come to an agreement on wealth sharing. There are just one or two outstanding issues, difficult issues, having to do with disputed territories. But the key here is that after twenty years of the most terrible war, Sudanese leaders have come together and are just one or two steps short of having a comprehensive peace agreement that will bring peace to Sudan.”

And in Liberia, says Mr. Powell, the violent presidency of Charles Taylor has come to an end. Taylor is in exile in Nigeria, and Liberia can re-build:

“We’ve worked with friends and partners in Africa and in the U-N to cause that to happen, and provided just a touch of military presence and military force to ensure that Taylor would depart and that the Liberian people would be given a new opportunity.”

In all these areas, the U.S. is working with friends and partners. 2004 will be, as Secretary of State Powell puts it, “an exciting year.”