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Richard Armitage on ABC with Charlie Gibson

Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage on ABC with Charlie Gibson

U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE Office of the Spokesman For Immediate Release October 3, 2001

INTERVIEW

Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage On ABC with Charlie Gibson

Broadcast October 3, 2001 Washington, D.C.

MR. GIBSON: We're going to turn now to the Deputy Secretary of State of the United States, Richard Armitage. And he is joining us from the State Department.

Good to have you with us again.

DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: Good morning, Mr. Gibson.

MR. GIBSON: Good to see you. All of a sudden, the Taliban says they want to negotiate. Offer rejected. But what do you think they're up to here?

DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: They're simply trying to buy time.

MR. GIBSON: For what?

DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: They think they can evade their fate. The President has been very clear. They will either give up Usama bin Laden and al-Qaida, dismantle the camps, and give up the foreign detainees, or else they'll suffer the fate of al-Qaida.

MR. GIBSON: Secretary Rumsfeld goes now to the Middle East. Should we take that as a sign that some countries in the region are reluctant in cooperating in military arrangements with the United States?

DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: Not at all. I think you should take it as a sign that because of the importance of the endeavor on which we are about to embark, Secretary Rumsfeld felt that face to face communications with the leaders of those countries was called for. And he's engaging in it now.

MR. GIBSON: Well, he starts in Saudi Arabia, and that country, for instance, has not said yet that we can use air bases on their territory for military operations.

DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: I don't think we found the Saudis lacking in support for this endeavor. They share the same loathing for what's occurred in New York and in the Pentagon on September 11th, and I don't think they'll be found wanting.

MR. GIBSON: Is it important that we use those air bases, or be able to use those air bases?

DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: Well, it's important that we have the support of all of our friends in the Gulf and beyond, and that's the reason President Bush has put together this mighty coalition.

MR. GIBSON: He's not going to Pakistan. Are we trying to minimize Pakistan as an avenue into Afghanistan, so as not to destabilize the government there?

DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: I think it's been well reported that we had a very blunt and frank talk with officials of Pakistan, and we were able to get them to accede to our demands. I don't want to be public about them, but it is recognized equally that Pakistan is a fragile political society, and we don't want to burden Pakistan with more than we absolutely need.

MR. GIBSON: So we are worried that perhaps to use Pakistan excessively as an avenue into Afghanistan might provoke Islamic radicals in that country?

DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: No, I didn't say that. I think we'll be guided by President Musharraf and his views of the political situation in his country. I think most of us have been quite heartened that the anti-American activity in Pakistan has been relatively low.

MR. GIBSON: What is the best way, then, to get access into Afghanistan if we have to launch operations in that direction?

DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: Well, I think I should refer you to the Pentagon, but the best way for us to go about this mighty campaign is to keep our coalition together; to make sure we are not only engaged in military activities if the President so decides, but in law enforcement, intelligence, financial activities; to constrict and eventually strangle al-Qaida.

MR. GIBSON: Let me come back over to the Pakistani situation. How far are we willing to go to ensure the stability of that country? If Islamic radicals in Pakistan -- and there is considered to be a significant number of them there -- were provoked, if the government there were endangered, would we move to protect if? After all, it is a nuclear nation.

DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: Well, I don't think I'd engage in hypotheticals. I think that of the 140 million people of Pakistan, the great majority see their future with the West and want their future to be with the West. They realize that we respect the religion of Islam; it's one of the great religions of the world. And I think at the end of the day, with careful diplomacy and with good leadership in the coalition and by President Musharraf, then Pakistan can have the future that most of their citizens hope for.

MR. GIBSON: Secretary Rumsfeld, when he is in the region -- yesterday, NATO said that they had seen clear and compelling proof that bin Laden was involved in the attacks on September 11th -- is Secretary Rumsfeld presenting that same evidence to countries in the region as he visits?

DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: Well, the Secretary of Defense will clearly be prepared to discuss it, but we have presented through diplomatic channels much of the same evidence which we showed to NATO yesterday, and NATO's comments, I think, will hold for most of our friends and allies. It's clear and compelling information that leads right to Usama bin Laden and al-Qaida.

MR. GIBSON: Richard Armitage, good to have you with us again. Thanks for being here.

DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: Good morning, Mr. Gibson.

MR. GIBSON: Good to see you.

###


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