Tue, Nov 16, 2004 - Page 1 News List

Powell tenders resignation

AP , WASHINGTON

Colin Powell, who had major differences with hawkish members of President George W. Bush's administration over Iraq, has resigned as US secretary of state, the department said Monday.

The 67-year-old former four star general submitted his resignation to Bush

on Friday, a senior department official told AFP.

The White House said the resignations of four cabinet members would be

announced on Monday but did not name them. White House spokesman Scott

McClellan told reporters the replacements would not be announced on Monday.

US media reported the four were Powell; Agriculture secretary Ann Veneman;

Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham; and Education Secretary Rod Paige.

Attorney General John Ashcroft and Commerce Secretary Don Evans have

already announced their departures.

Powell has agreed to stay on at his post until a replacement has been

found, according to the State Department official, who spoke on condition of

anonymity.

His decision to leave will inevitably lead to a new round of speculation

about the new holder of one of the most important jobs in the US

administration. National security advisor Condoleezza Rice has widely been

mentioned as the leading candidate. John Danforth, the US ambassador to the

United Nations, has also been linked to the post.

Powell, who as head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff was the military architect

of the 1991 Gulf War effort to force Iraqi forces out of Kuwait, saw a

turbulent four years as secretary of state marked by the September 11, 2001

attacks and the Iraq invasion.

Many reports said Powell had felt personally wounded after giving a

presentation to the UN Security Council on February 5, 2003 on the US case

for an invasion of Iraq because of weapons of mass destruction.

No chemical, biological or nuclear weapons programmes have ever been found

since the ousting of its leader Saddam Hussein, who is now in custody

awaiting trial. Amid widespread chaos in Iraq, Bush has insisted that the

March, 2003 invasion was the right move.

Powell reportedly argued for more prudent moves toward disarming Saddam

during clashes with hawks in the Bush cabinet such as Vice President Dick

Cheney and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld.

But he refused to talk publicly about the tensions or his future

intentions, repeatedly telling reporters: “I serve at the pleasure of the

president.”

Powell, a son of Jamaican immigrants, fought in Vietnam and rose to become

a four star general and head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff from 1989 to 1993.

During the first Gulf War he notably pressed President George H. W. Bush not

to overthrow Saddam at the time, for fear of becoming bogged down in a

protracted conflict.

When he became secretary of state in 2001, Powell became the highest

ranking black in any US administration, a position he said he wanted to

inspire other African-Americans.

Throughout the administration infighting, Powell sought to maintain a

pragmatic multi-lateral diplomacy.

Powell is to leave Wednesday for Chile to attend the Asia-Pacific Economic

Cooperation (APEC) forum summit from November 19-21. He will also go to an

international conference on Iraq in Cairo on November 22-23.

The State Department said again Monday that Powell wants to meet the new

Palestinian leadership, following the death of veteran Palestinian

figurehead Yasser Arafat. But no date has been announced.

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