Between celebrating his 65th birthday and embarking on a trip to the Middle East, Secretary of State Colin Powell found an hour Saturday to outline U.S. diplomatic policy at the annual meeting of The Trilateral Commission.

Characterizing Powell's private remarks, a senior member of the commission said he gave a "commanding sense of U.S. diplomacy and the importance of its diplomatic role."

Delivering unprepared and off-the-record remarks, the secretary gave a review of the problems facing the Western world and discussed some details of the Mideast tour, the commission member said.

However, several members who attended the secretary's speech declined to provide specifics of Powell's remarks.

Powell turned 65 on Friday and departs Sunday for the Mideast.

Among the 250 political, business, academic and media leaders gathered for the group's weekend meeting at a plush hotel, bow-ties and dark suits were the apparel of choice. But former secretary of state Madeleine Albright, wearing a lavender-colored suit, offered a reprieve from the dark parade.

Henry Kissinger, another former secretary of state, was among Saturday's speakers.

Since its formation in 1973 by private citizens from North America, Europe and Japan, The Trilateral Commission has aimed to look at the issues facing North American, European and Pacific Asian countries. The commission's discussions this year have focused on issues arising since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11.

In the commission's 29-year-history, such discussions have remained closed to the public and all remarks made by speakers are off-the-record.

The commission, however, has "always made a point to invite important voices of the press," said Francois Sauzey, the group's press officer.