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World: Powell, Cook Discuss Security Issues

Washington, 7 February 2001 (RFE/RL) -- U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell and British Foreign Secretary Robin Cook yesterday discussed wide-ranging issues, including U.S. plans to develop a missile defense system, the Balkans, Iraq and the Middle East.

At a joint news conference in Washington, Powell said the central policy objectives of both nations are unchanged.

"Our purposes in this new century remain the same: to safeguard freedom, peace and prosperity in our own nations by supporting democracy and the rule of law throughout the world."

Concerning U.S. administration plans to deploy a missile shield against rogue nations, Cook said:

"We both share a deep concern of the proliferation of missile technology. Colin Powell described the process of review which the administration is undertaking on national missile defense. I welcomed the commitment of the U.S. to consult with its allies and with Russia."

Russia is opposed to the plan, saying it would destroy a 1972 arms control treaty. The European allies are also questioning the plan.

Regarding the Balkans, Cook said both the U.S. and Britain want to make sure democracy and peace would have a chance to take a hold in that troubled region. The new U.S. administration has said it is reviewing American troop commitment to the Balkans.

"We are both committed to finishing the job by ensuring that we build a stable peace and an open democracy in the Balkans."

On Iraq, the two leaders said President Saddam Hussein must not be permitted to develop weapons of mass destructions.

Powell also said he expects to visit the Middle East, the Gulf region and Europe toward the end of this month. He added that the United States stands ready to be engaged in the quest for peace in the Middle East.