Skip to main content /TRANSCRIPTS




Aired November 16, 2001 - 04:30   ET



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If he were to attempt to enter Pakistan, we'd hand him over to the United Nations. That is number one.

QUESTION: Who is snubbing who? The meeting with President Bush, you were so close. You...

YASSER ARAFAT, PALESTINIAN AUTHORITY PRESIDENT: There is no agreement. I came here for the United Nations.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We see Pashtuns, yes. Taliban, no.



Stop looking at those words down there -- focus. There's a war on, the latest on Afghanistan. Government leaders left the United Nations after a full week of continued support for the campaign against the Taliban. Security maximus at the UN for the top-drawer session delayed by the September attack on America.

ROTH: Time to toast and convene our own small Loya Jirga of the week. She is on assignment for a decade at the UN for "Le Monde," Afsane Bassir Pour. He is at the UN in our CNN office for the "Times" of London, James Bone. Back with us from the Portuguese Newspaper "Expresso," Tony Jenkins, and covering the UN for the daily "Dawn" of Pakistan, Masood Haider.

James, let's start with you. What role can the UN play now in the forming of a new Afghanistan government despite the problems in getting there?

JAMES BONE, "TIMES" OF LONDON: Well, Richard, this week Lakhdar Brahimi, he is a UN top Afghanistan trouble shooter, laid out the steps he sees for a two-year transition to a new constitution and a new government, starting with a meeting of a provisional council within a very few days. The problem is there seems to be differences about where that meeting should take place. Mr. Brahimi said it shouldn't take place in Afghanistan. He's suggesting to buy so that he can get the Pashtuns there, as well as the Northern Alliance. With the Northern Alliance now in control of Kabul, of course, want to hold it in Kabul.

ROTH: Tony, the UN wants to help on the political front, but military wise, it seems to be saying, Whoa, not us. It seems to be you member countries, you decide.

TONY JENKINS, EXPRESSO: Right, and there's talk even that the United States doesn't want people like Indonesia and Jordan and Turkey to leap in just yet. They want to have perhaps the Brits. The Brits are going in, and they are also afraid about what's going to happen on the political front. They're trying to dissuade Rabbani, the only man who's recognized by the United Nations at the moment as the head of the government, to try to persuade him to stay out of Kabul, and he's made motions to come in, and they've said stay away. It's a bit overtaking them.

ROTH: All right, Masood Haider, what do you think about all of this?

MASOOD HAIDER, "DAWN" OF PAKISTAN: Well, I believe that at this point and time, from what I hear, Mr. Rabbani is sending his deputy process general to Kabul to meet with the Alliance and to meet with the Northern Alliance people, to figure out just what kind of formation and interim government will take place. They're opposed to King -- former King of Afghanistan, Zahir Shah will also be coming to Kabul, but that's unconfirmed so far.

ROTH: All right, Afsane.

AFSANE BASSIR POUR, "LE MONDE": Well, I want to talk about the force, this military force that was supposed to go in. As Tony mentioned, they don't seem to want right now any Muslim force or any UN force. They're putting in place what they call a First World force, which is, as he said, the British, the Americans, the French, the Italians, Denmark. All this is being coordinated in Tampa, Florida, and they're supposed to actually be on ready to see what would be required, but we hear from Northern Alliance that they don't want any force. They don't want any force. There are murmurs of them not even wanting provisional government here. Everything here is very fluid, so...

ROTH: Yes.

BASSIR POUR: ... these forces are ready to see what exactly they need to do.

HAIDER: I think is that -- I think the Secretary of State Colin Powell had indicated earlier that he wants an all-Muslim force over there, but apparently the United States has not been able to conjure up such a force, and that is one of the drawbacks over here. And...

BONE: Well, I think -- I think Masood, you know Turkey, which was meant to lead that all-Muslim force, did open a diplomatic representation in Kabul, and seemed to be key to have some kind of role there. I think the problem is that many of the people in the Northern Alliance don't want a Muslim force because they think that the Muslim force is likely to stay in Afghanistan longer than a western force.

HAIDER: You can not allow Northern Alliance to dictate what it wants because a Muslim force from Turkey, Indonesia, and Bangladesh would be preferable over there. I mean which would support the British and the American forces.

JENKINS: But Masood, the problem is the Northern Alliance is starting to move in the direction and not seem to want anybody. They want to be -- they think of themselves (UNINTELLIGIBLE) the Taliban has had a little bit of help from America...


BASSIR POUR: What you seem to forget is that the reason for Americans going into Afghanistan was to chase al Qaeda and bin Laden, and that still remains, you know, the main goal. So that's why the Americans and the British are going to go in there...

BASSIR POUR: ... and to do this, to do exactly this, to chase it and basically put an end to Afghanistan as a sanctuary for terrorists. That seems to be the main purpose right now.

HAIDER: Absolutely. You're absolutely right, but the thing is at this point and time, they may have captured a lot of Taliban leaders and so forth, but they haven't been able to get the number one enemy, which is Osama bin Laden and his cohort Mullah Omar.

ROTH: Well, the UN -- the UN Security Council this week approved the resolution backing the special envoy Brahimi, but there was no rush to say we're going to establish a multinational force, but as we've seen in other cases like these team lords, like let's -- the key is just getting it done with whoever can go in there now...


BASSIR POUR: Well, remember Brahimi was the man who...


BASSIR POUR: ... the man who...


HAIDER: Brahimi is at this point and time trying to consult with a group of 21, which he -- and he believes that group of six plus two has failed. And the group of 21, it will become even more of a problem to -- I mean form another interim government over there.


BASSIR POUR: But these are the 21 countries.

ROTH: That met on Friday at the UN

BASSIR POUR: And who are supposed to help, who have some sort of an influence on Afghanistan, and who also are going to pledge money. Basically the only leverage that the west has on the Afghans, on Northern Alliance, or whoever is saying if you don't behave, if you don't form a government, we're not going to give you any money. We're not...


BASSIR POUR: ... going to rebuild your country.


BONE: In Kabul they have troops all over the country. They come in the country. They have plenty of leverage. My prediction is their leverage over the Northern Alliance will prevail. I think we're already seeing signs of that.


HAIDER: I absolutely agree...


HAIDER: ... with James Bone that we have the leverage, and I keep on hearing that we don't have the leverage. The United States and the British have the leverage over the Northern Alliance. They weren't be there if it were not for the American and British forces. So...

BASSIR POUR: What's the leverage, Masood?


BONE: They wouldn't even have uniforms if it wasn't...



BASSIR POUR: Yes, but now that they're in Kabul, they need the Americans less...


BASSIR POUR: Or I think they think they do.


BONE: Was arriving in Kabul quite soon. (UNINTELLIGIBLE) you know let them deal with that as influence.

ROTH: All right listen...

HAIDER: If the firepower is taken off, there will be no Northern Alliance.

ROTH: I've got the leverage here. Hold on everyone. Of course, we talked about the UN James and Afsane has mentioned on other shows, the UN struggling to come with what is a definition of a terrorist, which is really the, one of the major ongoing issues even, whatever happens in Afghanistan.

What may sink any efforts to come up with an overall convention on terrorism, the thorny issue of who is a terrorist. How do you define that? The word now, the man, this week at the UN who has been called a hero to the world.

NELSON MANDELA: There are people who have (UNINTELLIGIBLE) as terrorists. Many of them (UNINTELLIGIBLE). You've become a terrorist if your aims and objectives fail, and those people who are referring to many of us as terrorists are now dealing with us as members of responsible government and therefore, terrorism is a relative term, and those people who did not agree with your activities will label you a terrorist. But when you succeed, the same people are prepared to accept you and to have dealings with you as a head of state.

ROTH: That's Nelson Mandela stepping down as a special mediator on Burundi. Welcomed, of course, with great enthusiasm inside the Security Council on Thursday -- Afsane.

BASSIR POUR: Well, as you said, you know, the -- what they're trying to do is to rectify a global convention on terrorism, but they get stuck exactly on this issue. You're a terrorist if somebody else is a freedom fighter and vice versa.

ROTH: And Syria...


ROTH: ... talked about -- this is the UN We're going to talk about the Middle East in a second. Go ahead, Masood.

HAIDER: I mean you -- I mean we keep on hearing (UNINTELLIGIBLE) one man terrorist, another man freedom fighter. but it in fact is absolutely true. There was once upon a time in (UNINTELLIGIBLE) when he begged to struggle to get Israel, he was called a terrorist by the British. So once opponent, and this is exactly what, it happens. The freedom, the terrorists become freedom fighters, and then they become world leaders.

ROTH: All right, we're going to -- we're going to talk about the Middle East now that you led us there, Masood, coming up in a moment on DIPLOMATIC LICENSE. All of our squares will stay there. President Bush talked tough on terrorism at the United Nations this past week. So did Bill Clinton when he was president. In 1995 Mr. Clinton urged zero tolerance for terrorism. The next year some not so prophetic promises.

BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: By doing all we can to make our airports and the airplanes that link us all together even safer. I have requested more than $1 billion from our Congress to meet these commitments, and we are implementing the vice president's aviation security plan to make those travelling to, from and within the United States more secure.


ROTH: The DIPLOMATIC LICENSE security escort for our guest today, the much ballyhooed Middle East-U.S. policy speech will be given Monday by U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell in Louisville, Kentucky. Remember long shots often win the Kentucky Derby horse race held in that city.

President Bush mentioned for the first time the name of Palestine as a state to one day sit in the General Assembly. That leaves our key UN Mideast speech sound bites.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We're working toward a day when two states, Israel and Palestine, live peacefully together.

ARAFAT (through translator): I would like to express my deepest appreciation for President George W. Bush and his declaration and his statement yesterday.

SHIMON PERES, ISRAELI FOREIGN MINISTER: There is support for Palestinian independence, support for a Palestine state.

ROTH: Now, later, Peres said these were his own views, not necessarily that of the Israel government. We'll talk about that with our guest. Afsane, will the Powell speech reenergize the Middle East?

BASSIR POUR: Well, I certainly hope so. There was those two contradictory signals from the United States on the Middle East. First, as you mentioned, he mentioned the Palestinian state, but then he stopped Yasser Arafat.

ROTH: By not meeting with him.

BASSIR POUR: Not only not meeting with him, not even acknowledging his presence, although they were in the same room, very close to each other twice.

ROTH: At the luncheon.


BASSIR POUR: So you know, Arafat left very upset, and we understand that there's a big rift on this issue between Condoleezza Rice, the National Security Adviser, and Colin Powell who is supposed to be speaking about, you know, detailing Palestinian state...


ROTH: And Rice would like to keep a harder line going. Masood, go ahead.

BASSIR POUR: Absolutely. Yes.

HAIDER: Yes, what really gets me is that Mr. Peres, as a foreign minister, makes such a big statement in the General Assembly. He then turns around and says that he does not speak for the Israeli government. That's unconscionable.

You can not say that and get -- and then, of course, Israeli-U.S. policy is concerned, when George Bush came into the office, he totally shunned the Middle East peace process because he didn't want to latch onto the bandwagon of Mr. Bill Clinton. And now suddenly they have to regroup themselves and give it attention. America -- I mean that is why he is falling back in resolving this dispute, which is getting out of hand.

ROTH: Well, this could change really on a dime, I think, considering what's going on with Afghanistan -- James Bone.

BONE: Well, one other thing I thought was slightly interesting was in order to get this delay General Assembly session in before Ramadan, they had to start it on a Saturday, which meant in the big speech when President Bush was speaking, the Israelis weren't there because it was Shabbat. I thought that actually helped President Bush because he didn't have the Israelis sitting there while he was trying to rally and move in support.

ROTH: OK. Yes, Tony, you know Peres is positioning himself, perhaps, for Powell's speech. This big speech, is that really going to change things? What's going to happen?

JENKINS: You have to ask Sharon. I mean Sharon occupies large amounts of space, but so far he's been a moral...


JENKINS: ... and he has -- we see historic ships in Russia, in Pakistan, but nothing yet in the Middle East, nothing yet from Sharon, and the Bush administration is absolutely...


JENKINS: ... pushing Sharon to move in their direction, to start to remove some of the feeds for the violence in the Middle East.

BONE: I don't think we should overestimate. what we'll see in this Powell vision speech. I think it's basically going to be a reiteration of the Mitchell Plan ,which starts with an end to violence and then a series of confidence building measures, and George Tenet's arrangements for security negotiations on the ground. I don't think we're going to see a great new vision.

ROTH: I think...


ROTH: I think the people -- I think the people -- the people who you say are run by that me or the Pygmy administration might say...


ROTH: ... until the nations and around them guarantee their security... HAIDER: Absolutely. unless the pressure is put on Sharon, and with full might, nothing will move.


JENKINS: The Israeli position is unconscionable. I spoke to Peres over this weekend. I also, about his business of collected punishment. The UN this week, just this week, said within the last 13 months of the intifada, there have been 166 Palestinian children killed, 26 Israeli children. The -- there is such an imbalance in the region. It has to change. It is providing the seeds...


BASSIR POUR: Is that actually everybody, nearly everybody on the General Assembly, Europeans also, link terrorism to the Middle East issue.

ROTH: We've got to leave it there. I don't know, somehow I became a guest on my own show here. Thank you all. Upper left Masood Haider, daily "Dawn" of Pakistan, upper right Afsane Bassir Pour of "Le Monde," lower right Tony Jenkins, "Expresso" newspaper, once a week out of Portugal, and James Bone, lower left, "Times" of London.

The political dignitaries hope all their work bear fruit, literally in the case of Uganda President Yoweri Museveni. He is upset a trade protection, which keeps Ugandan products out of Europe.

YOWERI MUSEVENI, PRESIDENT OF UGANDA: The other day, my pineapple stocks ran out, and (UNINTELLIGIBLE) both pineapples from a supermarket in U.K., when I was coming here. I just took one size and (UNINTELLIGIBLE) the whole exercise at once. First of all, the pineapple is hard. I've never seen a hard pineapple until I saw the one in London. It is less fruit and has got an ammonia-like pungent taste.

I had had the same experience in Washington once. They brought something they called pineapple. I couldn't believe it.

Why must citizens of the world endure these deprivations on account of policies designed to stop (UNINTELLIGIBLE). Why must this be? I will not eat pineapple again until I go back to Uganda.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): On our own personal behalf and that of our government, so we express to you the most sincere condolences at the loss of...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The foreign minister of the Dominican Republic receives sympathy inside the General Assembly hall a day after the crash of that U.S. passenger jet bound for Santa Domingo. The crash escalated fear throughout the United Nations buildings, though much of the staff there is battle-hardened by service in war zones around the world.

The crash stunned the world or at least the government elite of 189 countries inside the United Nations General Assembly hall.

ISMAIL CLEM, TURKISH FOREIGN MINISTER: A minority on the Greek Cypriot...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is the chief of security of the United Nations. I would like to make an announcement.

ROTH: UN security declared the United Nations sealed off to incoming cars including limousines and pedestrians. A precautionary move at a jittery global headquarters.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have decided not to evacuate the complex at this time.

ROTH: The partial lockdown delayed U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell for a significant multination meeting on Afghanistan. The foreign minister of Pakistan missed the session entirely. Ironically, scheduled next was a security council meeting on terrorism. It began with a minute of silence.

COLIN POWELL, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: The reports that I have so far suggest preliminarily that it is an accident, and let us hope that turns out to be the case even though it is nonetheless a tragic event for those who lost loved ones.

ROTH: And once again, expressions of support after an airline disaster in New York.

TANG JIAXAUN, CHINESE FOREIGN MINISTER: I would like to express my deepest sympathies to the relatives and families of the deceased.

JACK STRAW, BRITISH FOREIGN SECRETARY: We all understand that the news of this disaster, whatever its causes, at this time was bound to be doubly dramatic for the residents of New York City and for the people of the United States as a whole.

ROTH: The crash rattled the United Nations especially since Osama bin Laden has accused the UN and Secretary-General Kofi Annan of being criminals in the Afghanistan bombing campaign. Annan and others could see smoke at the crash from their offices.

FRED ECKHARD, UN SPOKESMAN: I think we're all a little on edge, and I think that's why the secretary-general is urging all the staff to just stay calm.

ROTH: So it was diplomatic business as usual at the House of Peace, now facing new types of crises. On the security front the United Nations has stopped accepting outside mail and have done it since October 24.

You can e-mail us still, the That's our program. I'm Richard Roth in New York. Thanks for watching.




Back to the top