Powell Appeals for Asia to Recognize AIDS as a Security Threat
June 18, 2003
Secretary of State Colin Powell said Wednesday that Asian nations should see HIV/AIDS as a security threat, citing the recent Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) epidemic as an example of the destructive nature of infectious disease.Adapted from:
At the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Regional Forum (ARF) in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Powell said that unless such a determination was made, AIDS could destroy individual countries and destabilize the region, creating a more potent threat than a nuclear weapon, a senior State Department official said. "There is another threat to the region and the world that already has been more destructive than any weapon of mass destruction, more destructive than any army's activities and any conflict, but which is not generally perceived to be a security threat: HIV/AIDS," Powell was quoted as saying.
Powell urged ARF and ASEAN to meet the challenge in a timely manner, and announced that regional U.S. envoys would meet later this month in Bangkok to discuss ways in which Washington could assist. "Collectively and individually, ASEAN and ARF members can save countless lives and stem the tide of the disease by speaking out to raise awareness and by promoting effective programs of prevention and care throughout the region," Powell said, according to the official.
"The SARS epidemic has shown us firsthand the enormous social, political and economic toll that infectious disease can take," the official quoted Powell as saying. "[HIV/AIDS] can destroy countries and destabilize entire regions ... In Asia, millions are affected. Unless we act, millions will die. No country is immune, all countries are vulnerable," Powell said.
Though President Bush's pledge of $15 billion to curb the global spread of HIV/AIDS is focused mainly on Africa and the Caribbean, Powell said Washington is eager to get Asia into the program.
Agence France Presse