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Dissent is needed, Powell deputy says

Says he spoke out to influence policy

WASHINGTON -- Baring one of Washington's worst-kept secrets, Secretary of State Colin L. Powell's deputy said he and Powell sometimes went public with their dissenting views to try to influence Bush administration policy.

Richard Armitage, who leaves along with Powell at the end of President Bush's first term, described the process as using the "bully pulpit."

"Differences of opinion are something you as a citizen and I as a citizen should value in your government," Armitage said in an interview with National Public Radio's "Morning Edition" on Thursday. "You really want it."

Powell and Armitage, whose friendship was forged decades ago, share foreign policy views that are distinctly more moderate than those of Bush and other key presidential advisers. They made far more use of interviews and speeches to promote US foreign policy than their predecessors.

Armitage said the public appearances also aimed to register the views of the State Department and influence policy.

"When Secretary Powell speaks or when Rich Armitage speaks, we're putting out our views. And we will do so respectfully, of course," Armitage said according to a text released yesterday by the State Department. "This is what the president paid us for, to bring him our views. And, of course, he can agree with us or not, as he chooses."

Armitage's response was to a question that suggested that Powell and he had been at odds with other top administration officials on policies involving North Korea and the Middle East.

Powell is known to have pushed for negotiations with North Korea over its nuclear weapons programs. On the Middle East, Powell sometimes sought more flexibility from Israel than did the White House.

"You don't want a government that sees everything the same way," Armitage said.

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