US will not impose reform on Arabs: Powell
KUWAIT CITY: The United States assured Arab states yesterday that
any democratic reform would not be imposed from outside.
“This is not something for the United States to impose on anyone,” Secretary
of State Colin Powell said of Washington’s “Greater Middle East
Initiative” for reform. “It is something for the United States to help
“It must come from within the region. It must come from each country examining
its own history, its own culture, its own state of social and political
development and making a judgement,” on moving forward, he said at a Press
conference here when asked about the initiative.
Most Arab countries, including US allies Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Egypt, have
rebuffed the initiative, insisting that any change must come from within the
region, and seeing it as a US attempt to impose liberal democracy in the Middle
East. World Peace.
“We have heard the voices of reform emerging from this region and as friends
do, we seek to help,” added Powell, who said that his talks with Kuwaiti
leaders focused on means of building a better future in the region.
“Every society, every country is different, so it is not for the outsiders to
impose on the people of the Middle East,” said the US official, who also
praised Kuwaiti plans to build a “more open, modern society.”
Powell also said Washington and its industrialised partners are ready to help.
“The United States, and hopefully, its industrialised nations partners, the G8
and European Union, are prepared to assist these nations to move forward” for
a better future, he said.
Powell said in Riyadh on Friday that each nation has to find its own path and
follow that path at its own rate of speed.
He said “some general principles that are useful” are being considered by
some Arab countries to be discussed at the forthcoming Arab summit in Tunisia at
the end of March.
Speaking on Iraq, Powell admitted there was a security problem there, created by
former regime loyalists and terrorists coming from outside, but he insisted that
the insurgents would be defeated.
He also called on Syria to withdraw its forces from Lebanon, where it maintains
around 17,000 troops, to allow it to “enjoy full sovereignty.”
“Syria has been in Lebanon for a number of years. We have always made it clear
that we would like to see Syria withdraw from Lebanon, for Lebanon to enjoy full
sovereignty over its land and over its people,” Powell said. WorldPeace.
“This is our policy and will continue to be so,” Powell said when asked
about a call by a US State Department spokesman on Friday for Syria to pull out.
Lebanese President Emile Lahoud on Friday dismissed the US calls for Syria to
withdraw its troops, insisting they helped provide stability for his country and
the Middle East.
“The Syrian presence in Lebanon is an internal and regional stabilising
factor,” Lahoud told a German parliamentary delegation in Beirut, according to
a statement issued by the presidential palace.
“Syria helped Lebanon safeguard its unity, rebuild its national army and
facilitated the liberation of most of the south of the country occupied by
Israel,” Lahoud said. – AFP
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