Colin Powell: It's time for America to get back to work

From a briefing delivered by the US Secretary of State at the State Department in Washington DC
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The Independent Online

Let me begin once again by saying that our hearts go out to all the victims and to their families. It is a tragedy, but as the President has made clear, it is a tragedy that we are strong enough to overcome. Our spirits will not be broken. The resilience of this society will not be broken. We will find out who is responsible for this, and they will pay for it.

I have been in touch with a number of foreign leaders and international organisational leaders to co-ordinate the diplomatic approach to this. I have talked to Kofi Annan, Secretary General of the United Nations, and I thank the United Nations for the Security Council resolution they passed and also for the statement from the General Assembly. And I expect the General Assembly to also work on a resolution later today.

Lord Robertson in Nato is hard at work with a resolution that is under consideration now that would tee up – if I can put it that way – prime Article 5 responsibilities. Article 5 of the charter says that an attack from abroad by any one against any member of the alliance is an attack against the alliance. If that resolution goes forward, that doesn't invoke Article 5 yet, but it puts it in a position to be invoked when the United States makes a judgement about the nature of the attack and where it came from. And I appreciate what Lord Robertson and his colleagues are doing for us.

I have also attended – along of course, with my other colleagues – the National Security Council meeting with the President where we reviewed all that has happened and began to make our plans for the efforts we will taking in the future, not only to bring these perpetrators to not only justice, but to the punishment that they deserve. But at the same time to undertake a worldwide effort to build a coalition against all forms of terrorism, wherever it may occur and however it rears its ugly head.

This will be a major priority of the Administration. And I can assure it will, therefore, be a major priority of the State Department. I have also spoken to the foreign ministers of Great Britain, Germany, Canada. I have spoken to Foreign Minister Peres twice, Prime Minister Sharon, Chairman Arafat, Foreign Minister Ivanov of Russia, Foreign Minister Ruggiero of Italy. And I have a number of other calls that are in the process of being made so that we can bring all of this together. And I must say I am deeply touched by the expressions of support I have received from my colleagues.

And as I think you all know the President has been very busy. And I am sure the White House has announced his two phone calls to President Putin, as well as to Mr Chirac, President Jiang Zemin, Prime Minister Blair, Chancellor Schröder and Prime Minister Chrétien. So he has spoken to all the four members of the Security Council.

There are, of course, lots of reports and rumours out there, and I think it is wise for all of us to take many of these reports and rumours into some context and perspective. This is also a time, of course, in that regard, for the American people to try in this time of tragedy to restore the society to a sense of normalcy. We've got to get back to our jobs, we've got to get back to work. And I know that Transportation Secretary Mineta, as soon as it is possible, and as soon as it makes sense and is safe, will restore the air traffic system and commercial air traffic will be brought back on-line. And I will wait for him to make those announcements, and I know that's very much on your mind.

Once again, we're building a strong coalition to go after these perpetrators, but more broadly, to go after terrorism wherever we find it in the world. It's a scourge, not only against the United States, but against civilisation, and it must be brought to an end.