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Marc Grossman Interview by Al-Arabiyya TV

Interview by Al-Arabiyya TV

Marc Grossman, Under Secretary for Political Affairs

Washington, DC March 14, 2003

(2:15 p.m. EDT)

QUESTION: Let me start, I really appreciate this opportunity. As you can tell, we are scrambling because this is a tremendous day, judging by the new steps in the last few days of incredible surprises.

GROSSMAN: Right.

QUESTION: Let me start before we talk about Iraq and the future of Iraq -- let me ask you about the President s announcement today concerning the road map. Some of those people that are watching you in the Middle East had deep doubts, as you can imagine. They felt that the timing of this announcement is related to the pending war with Iraq. They felt that this was an attempt by the Bush administration to neutralize reaction in the Arab and European streets. How could you allay or could you please allay their concerns?

GROSSMAN: First of all, thank you very much for the chance to be with you. It s an honor and as you say, the days are very full, but this day is especially full. Mr. Melham, I would answer the question to any who would put that question to me by saying that the timing of the President s announcement today really doesn t have anything to do with Iraq at all. What it has to do with is that fact that the Palestinians and the Palestinian Authority have now moved forward to select a Prime Minister. This is something that of course we and many people in Europe and in the Arab world have been waiting for many, many months. You ll remember that it was President Bush who spoke last June about a two-state solution, so the fact that it is today that the Palestinian Authority looks ready to have a Prime Minister is the reason our President can stand up and say that it is time to put up the road map.

QUESTION: Can you expect a swift move if a war occurs with Iraq, to reconvene a some sort of international conclave to deal with the Arab-Israeli conflict, a la the 1991 Madrid Conference that Bush 41 did?

GROSSMAN: I do not know the answer to that question, because the time is different today. It is a different time because our President has spoken out very clearly for a two-state solution, a Palestinian state and a Israeli state living side by side in peace. He s also called for reform in the Palestinian Authority and he s called for changes in Israel, so I think we ll have to see how all of this comes together. I think putting out the road map, as the President promised to do when there is a confirmed Prime Minister, will spark a whole new set of energy in the peace process.

QUESTION: Sir, let s move to the upcoming summit. In Portugal in the Azores, on Sunday. What are your minimalist expectations from the summit? Are you expecting it, now you call it a diplomatic summit but some people would argue that it could turn out to be a war summit given the impasse at the Security Council and the French resistance?

GROSSMAN: Well --

QUESTION: The same French resistance as you remember.

GROSSMAN: I don t think that s how I look at it at all. Since the very beginning of our effort here, which really began on the 12th of September last year when President Bush went to the UN General Assembly and said it time to solve this problem multilaterally, we ve said that this is not a problem between Iraq and America but between Iraq and the international community. What have we done, Mr. Melham? We have tried again and again to find a diplomatic solution and I believe the President will travel to the Azores and visit with the Portuguese leadership, the President of Spain, and Prime Minister Blair to see if there is one last thing that can be done to try and bring diplomacy here. That said, our President has been clear, and so many countries have supported us in this effort, that it s time to have Saddam Hussein disarm. It s time to have the UN Security Council be strengthened here by the fact that we are prepared to enforce UN Security Council resolution 1441.

QUESTION: Secretary Grossman, you can understand the apprehension in the region given the what many people see as contradictory statements coming out of the administration concerning the future of Iraq. It s going to be military administration as Secretary Powell said, an administration with an international dimension, great deal of concern about the United States allowing the Turkish army to go to the Northern part of Iraq. Could you sort out these, if you can, these conflicting of the future of Iraq?

GROSSMAN: Sir, with all due respect to your question, I don t think they re all that conflicting at all. I take as my guidance the speech President Bush gave on the 26th of February here in Washington, in which he talked about the future of Iraq and what did he say? He said that we would enter Iraq not as occupiers but as liberators, that our vision for the future of Iraq is an Iraq that is multiethnic, democratic, that has no weapons of mass destruction, that s at peace with its neighbors, and I think that those kind of visions are the visions of the entire administration. I think when we talk about the future and yes, we ve talked about different kinds of administrations I might propose to you three ways to think about this. First, in the initial phase, if, IF there must be a war, I think it s obvious, to me anyway, that for a short period of time the military commander of the coalition will really be responsible for security in Iraq. But as Secretary Powell said, we want to move away from that phase as quickly as we possibly can and move to a second phase, where we are trying to make a transition for Iraq and with Iraqis to have a democratic Iraq, and then to a final stage as quickly as possible, where Iraq belongs to whom it belongs and that is the Iraqi people, an Iraq with full sovereignty, an Iraq that is part of an international community, an Iraq as I say that s at peace with its neighbors. And so we are focused on these things. We are focused on the requirement to liberate Iraq, if that is what is necessary, to remove the weapons of mass destruction and to as quickly as humanly possible let Iraq be for the Iraqis, Sir.

QUESTION: Secretary Grossman, there is a great deal to talk about and unfortunately very little time. I know that you are busy on very tremendous day. So we really appreciate your time and hopefully we will meet you soon maybe face-to-face.

GROSSMAN: I would be honored to do this again at any time like this or face-to-face would be my honor, Sir.

QUESTION: Thank you, Sir.

GROSSMAN: Thank you. [End]

Released on March 19, 2003

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