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Albright Interview ABC's This Week – Middle East

Albright Interview ABC's This Week – Middle East

U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE Office of the Spokesman

For Immediate Release July 10, 2000

INTERVIEW OF SECRETARY OF STATE MADELEINE K. ALBRIGHT ON ABC'S THIS WEEK

July 9, 2000 Washingon, DC

MR. DONALDSON: Welcome to our program. And welcome back, Cokie.

MS. ROBERTS: Thank you.

MR. DONALDSON: On the eve of a high-stakes Mideast summit here in the United States this week, the Israeli Government is being shaken by strong internal dissension. Interior Minister Natan Sharansky resigned today, taking his four parliamentary members out of Prime Minister Ehud Barak's coalition. And more rightist parties are expected to withdraw tomorrow, putting in doubt parliamentary approval of any possible agreement reached this week.

It's also reported that Barak's Foreign Minister David Levi may not accompany him to the United States, complaining that Barak has failed to consult him about planned concessions. Barak and Palestinian Chairman Yasser Arafat are expected to arrive here tomorrow for the summit on Tuesday to be held at Camp David.

Cokie.

MS. ROBERTS: Sam. And joining us now is Secretary of State Madeleine Albright. Thanks so much for being here.

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Good to be with you.

MS. ROBERTS: Well, that's a lot of problems that Barak is coming here with. There are other reports that the Shas Party might be pulling out of the coalition as well. Possibilities for success at this very high- stakes summit?

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Well, first of all, we have always known that this is, as you put it, a high-stakes summit. But the President, after my trip to the region and reports from other negotiators, felt that this was a time to go ahead because there is also a high stakes if we don't go ahead because the situation there is serious; it could unravel; there could be violence. And both the leaders are the ones that are prepared and have to be prepared to make the hard decisions. So we think this is the right time for the summit.

MS. ROBERTS: How much is the fact that Arafat was talking about unilaterally declaring a Palestinian state; how much does that make the timing crucial?

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Well, I think that has been a date that people have been working against, in the middle of September, that he said that he wanted to declare a state unilaterally. We believe that it's important that there be negotiations, and that if there is such a development, that it be part of the overall negotiations. So that is a date, and it does mean that there is a limited amount of time.

MS. ROBERTS: Well, the expectations seem to be quite low. The Jerusalem Post did a poll where 80 percent said that they did not think that any agreement will be come to. One of the Palestinian negotiators has -- let me show this to you here -- said, "This summit will end without any results because the Israeli position is known and will not change and the Palestinian position is clear and it, too, will not change."

I mean, how do you get to success?

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Well, first of all, I think the negotiators have worked very hard and have crystallized on what are really the existential issues here that have to do with borders, the refugees, settlements, and Jerusalem. And we expect to be dealing with those issues.

What happens in a summit is that there is a new dynamic developed and, actually, the leaders are the ones that have to make the decisions. They will be together. We will be at Camp David in a secluded and comfortable place, and we think that that changes the dynamic. But I think it's important to have the right level of expectations. This is very, very hard. Nobody says it isn't. But it is also a responsibility that we believe we have to try to see what can be done.

MS. ROBERTS: And you talked about the possibility of violence, and Newsweek is reporting today that each side is preparing for war if this summit fails. Is that your understanding?

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: I wouldn't put it that way, but I do think that there is the problem that if there is not a resolution that there could be the descent into violence, which is why we'll want to make sure that we have given it the maximum effort.

MS. ROBERTS: One other question on this before I turn to missile defense, and that is: Does Jerusalem have to be settled for this to be a successful summit?

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Well, Jerusalem is part of a comprehensive agreement, and I'm not going to predict what has to or hasn't to be settled at this summit to be successful. What is important is that we get them talking about the issues, that we're prepared to deal with these core issues, and we'll judge the success at the end. But the important point, I think, is that we have a responsibility to move forward here, and President Clinton is deeply immersed in all of this, and he will be there the majority of the time, and then we will see about a new dynamic. We'll keep working it very hard.

MS. ROBERTS: On missile defense, as you well know, yesterday the test, that was supposed to be some sort of indication of whether to proceed, failed. And our allies and Russia and China are terribly upset about this. Again, let me show you what Russian General Yakalov has said about this: "Deploying a national missile defense system will provoke an arms race and could lead to a rise in the numbers of countries which want to build weapons to beat this American system."

Why go forward with this? It doesn't even seem to be working.

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Well, I think it's very important to understand that, obviously, American decision-makers have to take our national interest into mind, and we are concerned about developing threats from countries that have the potential to attack the territory of the United States. It would be irresponsible if we did not do everything we could to deal with that threat.

When we were in Moscow at the summit, President Putin and President Clinton did a declaration of principles in which the Russians agreed that there was a threat. So we are dealing with what is a potential threat and trying to find the best system to deal with it.

MS. ROBERTS: But we don't even call these threats "rogue states" any more. They are "areas of concern." How big a threat is there?

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Well, there are threats that are coming, we believe, from North Korea -- though we are encouraged by the recent developments there, it hasn't dealt with their missile capabilities totally -- and from Iran. Those are the primary ones.

MS. ROBERTS: Will we go forward with it?

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Well, I think that the President will be making his decision later this summer based on Secretary Cohen's recommendation on the military aspects of this and my recommendation, along with Sandy Berger's and other national security --

MS. ROBERTS: And would you recommend to go --

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: I'm not going to speak to that. But I think that the point here, there are four criteria that the President is going to be looking at: the threat, the technology, the cost, and what it does to overall American security. And those are the criteria he will keep in mind. But obviously as far as this test is concerned, he has to wait to get an analysis from Secretary Cohen on it.

MS. ROBERTS: Two other quick subjects before we let you go. And one is, as you know, on Friday, a somewhat blistering report from the Organization of African Unity on Rwanda where the Canadian Ambassador, Stephen Lewis, said, "I don't know how Madeleine Albright lives with it," accusing the United States of not stopping the genocide.

Is it a fair report, and should we pay reparations?

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: I think the report -- we supported having this group of eminent people look at it. I think that it's very hard for me to judge the fairness of the report. I can only tell you this: that in my entire time at the United Nations, I followed instructions because I was an Ambassador, but I screamed about the instructions that I got on this. I felt that they were wrong and I made that point, but I was an Ambassador under instructions.

The truth, though, that has to be kept in mind is that the whole thing exploded rapidly; there was not a United Nations force that was capable of taking this on. And so in many ways it's, unfortunately, a false argument.

MS. ROBERTS: But he accuses the United States of not allowing a force to go in because of our upset over Somalia.

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: That is not true. We were trying very hard, and continue to try, to get the United Nations to understand what is a workable mandate and to get the forces that are suitable for the purpose. And so I think it's an inaccurate accusation. What is horrendous is that Rwanda happened, and both the President and I have said how horrendous it was and how we regret what happened. And we have done a great deal for Rwanda since then in terms of assistance. There is a war crimes tribunal we have supported. And so, while everything that happened there was horrendous, I think it is wrong to place the blame on the United States.

MS. ROBERTS: We're out of time, but I just want to ask you, there's an AIDS conference convening in Africa today. What would you like to see come out of it?

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Well, we see AIDS as a national security problem because, in some countries, a quarter of the people in Africa are infected with AIDS; more people have died of AIDS in Africa than in wars. And we want to see a commitment to dealing with AIDS as a national security issue, and countries really putting their money where their mouth is on this.

MS. ROBERTS: Thank you. Thanks so much for being with us, Secretary Albright.

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Thank you.

(###)

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