Following is a transcripted excerpt from Fox News Sunday, April 21, 2002.
BRIT HUME, FOX NEWS: Joining me now to discuss his mission to the Middle East is Secretary of State Colin Powell.
Good morning, Mr. Secretary, and welcome.
SEC. OF STATE COLIN POWELL: Good morning, Brit. How are you?
HUME: I'm well, thank you.
You've got from Ariel Sharon and Israel a commitment to withdraw according to a certain timetable, which so far he seems to be meeting.
What did you get, if anything, what kind of commitment of any kind did you get from Chairman Arafat?
POWELL: From Chairman Arafat, you may recall, last Saturday we got a strong statement denouncing violence, denouncing the bombing that had taken place in Jerusalem the day before that.
HUME: And beyond that?
POWELL: And beyond that, I'm quite confident we can get additional statements from him. But you know, statements aren't enough.
I've said to the chairman rather directly that, "I appreciate the statements, but what we really need is action. And it is time for you, Mr. Chairman, to make a choice, to go off this track of violence and terrorism as a way to a Palestinian state and get on to a track that talks about getting the security situation under control. Let's start with humanitarian and reconstruction efforts, but above all, let's find a political way to go forward."
We all have a common vision of a Palestinian state living side by side in peace with a Jewish state, Israel. It is now the vision of the Arab League. Twenty-two nations came together and embraced Crown Prince Abdullah's vision of 22 Arab states living together with Israel.
It's a tough vision to achieve to make reality, but I pressed the chairman on moving toward that reality and away from violence and terror and to use his powerful voice. He is the leader of the Palestinian people, whether one likes that or not. And if that's the mantle that's been giving to him by the Palestinian people, let him now use that position to speak out against incitement, violence, terror, and tell his people it is now time to make a different choice.
There will still be those in the Palestinian movement who want to destroy Israel. That is not going to happen. Israel is strong, and Israel has a strong friend in the United States. But the Palestinians can have a friend in the United States as well.
We want them to achieve what they want, a state. President Bush is the first president, went before the United States and spoke its name, Palestine. So we're there to help the Palestinian people, not only with that goal of a state but also in reconstructing their economy, reconstructing their infrastructure and their society.
And I asked the chairman to make a choice to join with us in moving toward that reality.
HUME: And what was his reaction when you asked him to make that choice?
POWELL: He was very forthcoming, as one would expect. But it is not statements I'm interested in. I will be observing his actions in the days and weeks ahead. And I hope that he will have the opportunity to speak, and I hope that he will have the opportunity to meet with other leaders and to demonstrate to us, demonstrate to the Israelis, demonstrate to the whole world that he is prepared to move in this direction.
We've been disappointed many times in the past. I'm not naive with respect to this issue. But we put the choice rather directly to him.
HUME: Now, I know that there's great concern nearly everywhere about the situation in Jenin, and Bill Burns, representative of the United States there, someone who is a part of your team, has visited the area and has remarked on what he found there.
And I think we can quote to you from Mr. Burns. Quote, "I just think that what we're seeing here is a terrible human tragedy. It's obvious that what happened here in the Jenin camp has caused enormous human suffering for thousands of Palestinian citizens."
I know the United States is making available serious effort in terms of aid to deal with the situation that is there now.
But, Mr. Secretary, there is a question of what happened there. There's an allegation that Israeli forces carried out an atrocity, a massacre. Based on what you know so far, sir, do you see any evidence or have any reason to believe that there were war crimes, atrocities or a massacre by the Israelis in Jenin?
POWELL: I have no way of knowing. That's why the United States helped draft and was very supportive of a U.N. resolution on Friday which will send a fact-finding team in with technical experts and very, very wise people to take a look at this situation and see what happened in Jenin.
I spoke -- I've spoken four times in the last 24 hours with Assistant Secretary Burns, and we are deeply troubled at the situation in Jenin just from the standpoint that there are people desperately in need.
So we have authorized the shipment in the next 24 to 48 hours of some 800 family-sized tents to help those people who lost their homes; enough water-purification equipment to take care of 10,000 people every day, and we're sending in several -- a little bit more than 1,000 disease prevention kits to deal with the likelihood of some diseases taking root in this terrible situation. So we're going to do everything we can to help. Committed several hundred thousand dollars already and we'll do more.
But it's important for the U.N. team to get in and make its assessment before we start throwing charges around.
HUME: Now, I read in Haaretz, the Israeli newspaper, that the Israelis are hoping and have asked the United States to help in keeping several people out of the U.N. investigation into what happened at Jenin, one of them being, of course, a Norwegian representative who was so outspoken on this issue.
How do you feel about that, sir? Can the U.N., with those three people involved, be trusted to do an honest investigation of what happened in Jenin?
POWELL: Well, I don't want to speak for the U.N. I'll let Kofi Annan work out the composition of his team with the parties in the region, and I'm sure that Secretary General Annan will put together a strong team, one that will be fair, one that will be balanced and one that will be seeking nothing but the truth.
HUME: And is the United States pressing him in that regard at all or not?
POWELL: I haven't talked to Secretary General Annan. And you're quoting from a newspaper article that I guess came out this morning, so I haven't had a chance to study it. And I'm sure that I'll be speaking to the secretary general in the next 24 hours and get his assessment of the nature of the team that he wants to put in. But that will be his judgment. He has to make the judgment as to what kind of a team should go in.
HUME: Let me ask you about your visits to Lebanon and Syria. After your visits there, sir, the shelling didn't completely stop, but it was almost completely stopped. It looks like you had a success there.
POWELL: I was very...
HUME: Tell me just what did you say those -- what did you say to those two leaders, and what did they say to you?
POWELL: Well, I, you know, I spoke to both the president and prime minister of Lebanon as well as the foreign minister, and I met with the foreign minister and president of Syria.
And I pressed upon them the necessity of making sure that Hezbollah did not take action across what's called the blue line, the border between south Lebanon and north Israel. That would inflame the situation and force Israel to react, and we'd find ourselves with another front, so to speak, in addition to the front in the occupied territories.
And so, I made sure they understood the strength of our position. And I wasn't carrying water for Israel; this was the United States position. And they took it seriously. We had a good discussion about it. And I'm pleased that, in the days that followed, things seemed to have calmed down.
But I would not say that this is a solved problem. Things have calmed down. They can heat up again, but I think -- we had a pretty good success with those visits.
HUME: Now, when you got to Egypt on your way home, it had been expected you were going to meet with President Mubarak. He did not hold that meeting. Did you arrive there and your plane -- when your plane touched down there or even before, you were expecting to see him. What happened, in your view?
POWELL: No, I wasn't expecting to see him. Two nights earlier, he and I had spoken on the phone. He wanted my assessment, and I told him where I was. I told him that we'd worked out a timeline with the prime minister for the withdrawal of his forces this week, and I discussed other things with President Mubarak. And he said, "Come back through Egypt, and I'd like to talk to you," because we do this all the time when I'm passing through the region.
The next day I got word that he was ill and had gone home taken to his bed. So on the next day when I went to Egypt, I was really not expecting to see him, so I met with his foreign minister, who is really my counterpart, and the Jordanian foreign minister who came into join that conversation.
POWELL: And I spoke to President Mubarak on a cell phone from the hotel conference room that I was meeting with the foreign ministers in, and he was sick.
HUME: No snub?
HUME: Now, Mr. Secretary, the president said this week that Ariel Sharon is a man of peace. Do you agree with that assessment?
POWELL: You know, Prime Minister Sharon and I have had many, many conversations. He's facing a tough problem with terrorist attacks, and he's acted against that vigorously. He needs security for his people.
But we have never had a conversation where he immediately did not also say that he remains committed to the Tenet work plan, he remains committed to the Mitchell peace process, he remains committed to negotiations that will lead to a Palestinian state. And so, in that regard, he knows that a political solution is necessary and peace must be made.
I've had similar conversations with Chairman Arafat. I've pressed Chairman Arafat on the simple point you must move away and have everybody in your movement move away from violence and terror if you want the United States to help you achieve your goal of a Palestinian state living side by side with a Jewish state called Israel.
And so I think that everybody realizes peace has to be the answer, and I want to make sure that everybody understands that, commits themselves to it.
HUME: So would you share the...
POWELL: And let's all be peacemakers.
HUME: So you would share the characterization that he's a man of peace?
POWELL: I think he is interested in making peace. And if that makes him a man of peace, fine. And if Chairman Arafat is similarly interested, then we can go forward.
I think everybody realizes, those in positions of leadership, that you will not achieve the goal that everybody has, if that goal is a Palestinian state, without getting to the table, without discussing peace, without discussing the very difficult issues that are before both sides.
But both sides need to understand that we have to get the violence down in order for people to have the confidence and comfort level necessary to go into negotiations.
That's why, when I was there, I think one of the successful parts of my visit was to bring in the consensus of the international community from my meetings with the European Union, the United Nations, and the Russian Federation in Madrid, take that strong message into the region with me, visiting the Arab states, and then take that strong message into Israel and talk to everybody there, everybody in the region about the need for security, the need to more quickly move to political discussions, and the need for a strong humanitarian component to all of this.
That's also why Assistant Secretary Bill Burns, when he leaves the region in a couple of days' time, will be going directly to Oslo to participate in a donors conference to provide additional support for the Palestinian people.
HUME: Mr. Secretary, it's a pleasure to have you this morning. Thank you very much, sir.
POWELL: Thank you.