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The BBC's Tom Carver
"Powell reassured Balkan leaders that the US is not about to cut and run"
 real 28k

Sunday, 4 February, 2001, 23:54 GMT
Powell alters Bush campaign pledges
Secretary of State Colin Powell (left) and President George W Bush
Mr Powell revisited several key Bush promises
The US Secretary of State, Colin Powell, has appeared to back away from a number of promises President George W Bush made during last year's election campaign.

In his first comprehensive television interview since taking office, Mr Powell laid out his positions on a number of major foreign policy areas, from the Middle East and Balkans to drugs and Aids.

Powell doctrine
US troops stay in Bosnia
No move for embassy in Israel
Full consultation for Son of Star Wars
He said that America would not "cut and run" from its Balkan troop commitments.

And while he emphasised that the Bush Administration would push ahead with its controversial national missile defence (NMD) system, it would not do so "without full consultation with Russia, our allies and China".

'Son of Star Wars'

Many of America's European allies have reservations about the so-called "Son of Star Wars" programme, which envisions US rockets deployed to intercept incoming warheads.

It may be necessary to leave the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty

Colin Powell
Russia and China, as well as some Nato countries, say such a programme would breach the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty between the US and the Soviet Union.

"It may be necessary to leave that treaty if it doesn't suit our purposes", Mr Powell said.

"We hope to persuade [our allies] that missile defence is in the best interest of ourselves, our allies and the world", he said.

Neutral on Israeli election

Mr Powell said that the US was not taking sides in the upcoming Israeli prime ministerial election.

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak
The US does not side with or against Mr Barak
"It is up to the Israeli people to decide what will happen in their country", he told ABC TV's "This Week".

Tuesday's election pits incumbent Labour Prime Minister Ehud Barak against right-wing Likud party leader Ariel Sharon, who has a huge lead in opinion polls.

Mr Powell said the important thing was not who Israel chose, but that the peace process continued.

He backed away from Mr Bush's statement last year that the US would "start the process" of moving its embassy to Jerusalem as soon as Mr Bush was sworn into office.

The Palestinians, who claim part of the city, would regard that move as a provocation.

Mr Powell said that moving the embassy "remains the goal of the United States" but that "there has been no move yet" to do so.

No end to Iraq sanctions

The secretary of state defended US insistence on maintaining United Nations sanctions against Iraq, which many argue hurt the country's people more than its leader, Saddam Hussein.

Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein
Mr Powell blamed Saddam Hussein for Iraq's ills
"He has more money available to him now through the oil for food programme than he ever had before the Gulf War.

"If he would use that money ... to educate children, to take care of the health needs of the Iraqi children, there would be no problem", he said.

Mr Powell said Saddam Hussein had failed to honour a promise to allow UN personnel to carry out weapons inspections to make sure he had no weapons of mass destruction.

"He made a commitment at the end of the Gulf War. He failed to meet those obligations", Mr Powell said.

Mr Powell was chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff - the highest US military commander - at the time of the Gulf War.

Health issues

Mr Powell also said in his interview that Aids and drugs were key US foreign policy issues.

Zambian Aids widow Ndola with her baby
Africa will figure prominently in US foreign policy
He said the US needed to get domestic demand for drugs under control, and that Aids was a national security problem and an economic problem.

Mr Powell, the first black secretary of state, said Africa would be an important focus of US foreign policy.

"I am African, my roots are African", he said.

He also said he personally disagreed with Mr Bush's policy of cutting US funds to international organisations that perform abortion-related services.

"It is the policy of the administration. I have other personal views, but it is the policy of the administration", he said.

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See also:

04 Feb 01 | Europe
Russia condemns US 'Star Wars'
26 Jan 01 | Americas
Bush confirms 'Star Wars' plan
01 Jan 01 | Americas
Bush faces Iraq dilemma
17 Dec 00 | Americas
Bush foreign agenda takes shape
22 Oct 00 | Americas
Candidates clash over Balkans role
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