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Armitage Interview by GEO TV

Interview by GEO TV

Richard L Armitage, Deputy Secretary of State Residence of the U.S. Ambassador Islamabad, Pakistan May 8, 2003

Q: We will talk to the Deputy Secretary of State, Mr. Richard D. Armitage. Thank you, Sir. Welcome to our program.

DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: Good evening. I'm delighted to be back in Pakistan.

Q: First of all, we would like to know the aims and objectives of your visit.

DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: Well, first of all it's to sort of set things for President Musharraf's visit to Washington with President Bush, and to discuss the next steps in our bilateral relationship, a relationship which we are both proud of and very desirous of extending. Secondarily, it's to discuss the regional situation and, of course, the new developments with India. And, third, to discuss some of the aspects of Pakistan's chairmanship of the U.N. Security Council this month.

Q: So how was your meeting with President Musharaf?

DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: Well, it was 90 minutes, and I won't speak for him, but I was very delighted; we covered an awful lot of ground.

Q: And have you discussed the recent peace initiatives taken by India and Pakistan?

DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: Well, of course. We discussed both Prime Minister Jumali's call to Delhi and Prime Minister's Vajpay's far-reaching statement in Srinigar.

Q: Sir, recently, U.S. has given a roadmap for the solution of Palestine problem. Do you have any roadmap for the solution of Kashmir problem?

DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: No, I don't have a roadmap. We've often said that this is a problem to be solved between the two parties and a dialogue between the two parties, and that is our view. If we can be helpful in sort of setting the atmosphere surrounding that, then we're delighted to do so.

Q: Could you define a statement which was given by many people in Pakistan outside Pakistan, solution of the Kashmir problem by 2004.

DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: I don't know who said that. This has been a problem that has been around since Partition. And we would love a solution as soon as possible, but I don't think putting any artificial time frame on it is beneficial, and I don't know who made that statement.

Q: Some ministers in Pakistan, Mr. Karl Inderfurth, many people.

DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: Said it would be resolved by 2004?

Q: Yes.

DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: Well, I notice they're not directly involved in these discussions.

Q: OK.

DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: The parties themselves will resolve it; they'll determine the timetable -- not any American.

Q: Do we need fresh U.N. resolutions on Kashmir?

DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: I think we need a lot of things in the United Nations Security Council. I don't know that new resolutions on Kashmir are particularly helpful. I think the elements of a discussion have been entered into by India and Pakistan with the recent initiatives, and I'm cautiously optimistic that we may be seeing the beginning of a process.

Q: What do you think? Do you think that the LOC can become a permanent border between India and Pakistan?

DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: This is not for me to decide. This is a question for the parties themselves to decide, and that's long been our position.

Q: Sir, this is a London Times story in my hands. This story says that Richard Armitage is playing a role of firefighter between India and Pakistan. Would you like to comment on this story?

DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: Well, I'm the son of a policeman, actually. I have very little affiliation with firefighters. And I don't think that's my role, and I think my role right now is to develop to the farthest possible extent the U.S.-Pakistan bi-lateral relationship, and I'm trying my best to do that.

Q: Some people are saying that you played a very important role behind the scenes in the recent peace initiatives taken by India and Pakistan.

DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: Well, I think that all credit should be given to the two parties. I think that those who are quickest to claim credit are probably the least deserving of it. So I think the two parties themselves are the ones who deserve the credit.

Q: And will you tell us on what grounds the U.S. State Department announced Peaceful Mujahadin a terrorist organization?

DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: On what grounds we announced it?

Q: Yes.

DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: We have a very rigorous process where we look at statements, violence, funding, all sorts of things and come to a determination on who is a foreign terrorist organization, and the criteria were met.

Q: Are you satisfied by the steps taken by Prime Minister of Pakistan Mir Zafarullah Khan Jamali for normalizing the relations between India and Pakistan?

DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: Well, again I don't think I like the way you ask the question about whether an American is satisfied. The question would be whether Pakistani citizens are satisfied and whether the Indian government is satisfied that these are conducive to a reaction from their part. For my part, as I say, I am cautiously optimistic that we're seeing the beginning of a process.

Q: What transpired during your meeting with Mr. Birjash Mishra in London?

DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: Well, I had a very interesting hour and a half lunch with Mr. Mishra, where we discussed not only his upcoming trip to Washington, but the general state of U.S.-Indian relations and Indian-Pakistani relations. And I heard him out on his views representing his government, but the very nature of diplomatic contacts is that they are private, and thus they will remain private.

Q: And will you tell us something about your meeting with the DG-ISI in Washington?

DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: Well, I've had the honor of meeting General Ehsan several times, and I was most desirous of seeing him during his recent Washington visit. And we discussed certainly the situation in Afghanistan, the situation in India, and I also described for him some of our activities in Iraq and the latest information that we were receiving from Iraq.

Q: And are you satisfied with the role of Pakistan against Al Qaeda and Taliban?

DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: Pakistan has been absolutely magnificent. Brave law enforcement personnel, brave military personnel, who, in my view, do great credit to this nation.

Q: There are some reports in some of the U.S. newspapers, the Indian newspapers, they're raising some objections about the role of ISI. What do you think about the role of ISI?

DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: Well, again this is an organization which has been very important to Pakistan historically, has been peopled, as far as I know, by very excellent officers and enlisted men. And again, this is something for Pakistanis to decide if they are satisfied with the role. I've had excellent relations over the years, more than 20 years with ISI.

Q: And this organization these days is helpful for you?

DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: Well, it's helpful for the nation of Pakistan. It's not helpful for the United States; certainly ISI is not working for us, but many times in their duties for the nation of Pakistan, we find that Pakistan's interest and the United States' interests coincide, therefore it is helpful to us.

Q: And what do you think about the latest situation in Afghanistan? Some people say that Osama bin Laden is still alive.

DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: Well, I don't know if he's alive or not, but the situation in Afghanistan is a difficult and complex one. And one of the reasons I'm going to travel to Kabul is to make a dramatic demonstration of the fact that the United States can do two things at the same time. We can be involved in Iraq very heavily; we can be involved in Afghanistan very heavily and for the long-term, and that's what I'm going to try to impress upon President Karzai and his colleagues.

Q: Some days ago there was a big demonstration against America in Kabul. What do you think: who is organizing these kinds of anti-American demonstrations inside Kabul?

DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: My understanding was that there was a demonstration some days ago in Kabul. It was much smaller than you perhaps indicate, and it was primarily related to making sure that those people who demonstrated received their pay. And I have no doubt that the situation is being corrected. I don't know who's organizing it, but they're probably dissatisfied people who haven't gotten paid.

Q: And now I would like to talk something about Iraq. Some people are saying that, especially the American newspapers, that Iran is still interfering in Iraq and maybe the United States will be forced to do something against Iran. Would you like to comment on these kind of words?

DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: Well, clearly Iran has interest in particularly the southern part of Iraq, but how she presents her interests is of great interest to us. Iran is not on any list of the United States; no one is suggesting any use of military force on Iran. The Secretary of Defense has said so, the Secretary of State of the United States has said so. So we'll continue our activities in Iraq. We're doing those things transparently; we wish no harm to anyone else. We just want to see an Iraq which has a very bright future for the 24 million citizens who live there.

Q: And what about the role of Syria?

DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: Well, Syria is in a very difficult position. I think that the geopolitical landscape changed for Damascus very quickly with the fall of Saddam Hussein's regime. There's now only one Baath Party, for instance. Secretary Powell recently traveled to Damascus to let our Syrian friends know about the new geostrategic situation and indicate to Syria that they have to make a choice whether they want to take part in the community of nations in a helpful way, to stop any activities that might support Saddam Hussein's fleeing officials, etc, get away from weapons of mass destruction, close down terrorist operations. And we'll see if Syria paid attention to those comments of Secretary Powell.

Q: And do you have any indication that whether Saddam Hussein is alive or not?

DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: Well, I don't know if he's alive or if his sons are alive or not. I know one thing for sure: he's not in power and every day that passes, the people gain more and more confidence that that terrible regime is on the dustbin of history.

Q: Thank you, Sir

DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: Thank you, very well done.


Released on May 8, 2003

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