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U.S. Department of State

[ ... ]

MS. PANFILOVA: Okay, Iím Yelena Panfilova of the center, anti-corruption center, Transparency International, [...] I would like to know your opinion, why itís happening now, and how American administration is going to determine who is corrupt and who is not corrupt enough to get to America? Thank you.

SECRETARY POWELL:We have put in place a number of new policies with respect to the issuance of visas and who will be permitted to enter the country as a way of protecting our homeland, but also as a way of protecting travelers, people who are on airplanes coming to our homeland. We are also at the same time, as Iíve said a number times over the last two days, trying to do it in a way that does not make us look like a place that does not welcome people. We want people to come to the United States Ė we just want to know who you are and why youíre coming, how long youíre going to stay and when you leave.

So, I think thatís reasonable for us to do to protect our homeland. I think youíre making reference to a recent Executive Order that the President signed that gives the Secretary of State the authority to deny visas if information is presented to me by my Embassy and is substantiated by my staff and others in the American government that a particular person is corrupt. It will be a judgment call. It will have to be a fairly clear case, but it will be a judgment call that I am responsible for making on behalf of the President. And we wonít do it in an irresponsible way. We will make sure it is pretty solid evidence before I would exercise that authority.

What we are really trying to do is send a signal to nations around the world that corruption sucks the life out of a democracy. When you tolerate corruption and when corrupt individuals are allowed to freely travel with the privilege of a visa, when you tolerate that kind of behavior, you are undercutting the rule of law and you are saying to your people there are two kinds of law: one for you and none for corrupt officials. So, I hope that by sending this message with this Executive Order we are helping countries around the world that are fighting corruption to fight corruption, so it is as much a signal about our determination to fight corruption as it is a procedural so to keep the corrupt people from entering the United States for perhaps conducting illegal or corrupt activities that are not to our benefit or to the benefit of the country that they come from.

[ ... ]

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