Powell Open to Future Talks With Iran

Nov. 23, 2004 — -- In his first broadcast interview since announcing his resignation from President Bush's Cabinet last week, Secretary of State Colin Powell spoke to ABC News' Jonathan Karl while visiting Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, for an international conference on Iraq.

Powell spoke about U.S.-Iran diplomatic relations, the U.S. military strategy in Iraq, and the possibility of writing a book about his experiences as secretary of state. Following is the transcript of the interview:

JONATHAN KARL: The United States has said that a nuclear arms Iran is intolerable, so what's the tipping point? At what point does the U.S. need to consider military action to stop Iran from getting the bomb?

COLIN POWELL: Well, the United States has all of its options open, of course. But we are not considering any military action. We think that the last several years, as a result really of the United States prodding, the United States nagging the international community, we have put a spotlight and a heat-lamp on Iran's programs.

KARL: But you think in due course it would make sense to revisit the idea talking directly to Iran?

POWELL: In due course it might turnout to be the case. But I am not predicting anything at this point. I think we have to see changes in behavior.

KARL: Moving to Iraq then, do you think the U.S. made a mistake early on in terms of not acting decisively to stop the insurgents right after the war in Iraq?

POWELL: We did not anticipate the insurgency growing as large as it has or as active as it has. We didn't anticipate, perhaps, the total collapse of all civil and security and administration forces that took place.

KARL: How did we get in this situation where the Iraqi security forces are still seen as so inadequate?

POWELL: It takes time to build a force, an army, and in the case of Iraq, we are building an army, at the same time we are building a police force, at the same time we are building a border patrol and a lot of other security institutions that are needed for a country. We fully expect that at the time the election, the 30th of January, there will be a significantly larger number of Iraqi troops in the field or Iraqi battalions in the field. But there will still be a need for coalition forces for the multinational force to be present.

KARL: I saw early this year [you] will not write a tell-all book. So what do you say? Will you write a book?

POWELL: Maybe at some point in the future I may write a book, but I can assure you I am not in touch with any publishers at the moment. I want to retire and get a little rest and examine what my options are. I intend to be seen in public life in some capacity, not necessarily in government.

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