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Richard L. Armitage Interview by Al-Jazeera


Interview by Al-Jazeera

Richard L. Armitage, Deputy Secretary of State

Washington, DC July 3, 2003

QUESTION: (Unrecorded.)

DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: Thank you, and good evening.

QUESTION: (Unrecorded.)

DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: Oh, I think there are elements, clearly Baathist elements, who are trying to exploit the fact that the body of Saddam Hussein has not been found. We don't know if he's alive or dead.

One thing is quite sure, that he's not going to return to power. And I think I explained the present bounty, or reward money, as a way of saying that we want to make sure we remove all excuses for people to commit violence against coalition forces and undermine the Iraqi people.

QUESTION: (Unrecorded.)

DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: Well, as I said, we don't know if he's alive or not. And the announcement that Jerry Bremer made was both for information leading to the capture or confirmation of the death of Saddam Hussein.

So I don't know if it makes it more or less likely. It seems to me that there are plenty of people who would be willing to give information in exchange for money, so I think it makes it somewhat more likely.

QUESTION: (Unrecorded.)

DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: No, it does not mean that we're blaming it entirely on Baathist elements, though that appears to be the main cause. You'll remember that over 100,000 criminals were also released prior to the arrival of coalition forces from the prisons in Iraq, and these are also a cause of trouble. And there are some believe that perhaps a small amount of the problem is caused by foreign fighters.

QUESTION: (Unrecorded.)

DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: Well, first of all, I'd say it's pretty soon after the fall of Baghdad in relative terms. Second, I think that one can only envision a durable political atmosphere in Iraq after the writing of a constitution, one that is acceptable to the great majority of the people of Iraq. Jerry Bremer has said they will have an interim governance council by mid-July made up of Iraqis. There will be work towards a constitution, and as soon as practical and possible, we'll have a ratified constitution and an electoral process which will bring all Iraqis into the political process.

QUESTION: (Unrecorded.)

DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: Well, last time I had the honor of being on Al-Jazeera, you were very unhappy that there was no peace process. Now, after Sharm el-Sheikh and the meetings in Aqaba about two weeks ago, we've had real progress on the ground. The sight of Prime Minister Abbas and Prime Minister Sharon talking together and meeting together, with another one scheduled next week, is one that ought to give all people some hope.

We have put equal amounts of emphasis both on our Palestinian friends and on our Israeli friends. And regarding a truce, what has happened has been the offer of a ceasefire. A ceasefire is something that allows one to catch one's breath, but it is not a final solution. We have to have a dismantling of the terrorist organizations, particularly Hamas, just as we have to have activities by the Israelis, that is, the dismantlement of settlements, in order to have a lasting peace.

QUESTION: (Unrecorded.)

DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: Oh, I think you must have a very selective viewing of the situation. I saw Israeli soldiers physically evicting settlers, and it was shown all over international TV. So it's more than you say.

I would look to the more positive elements, like the Israelis' removal from Gaza and Bethlehem, the turning of that over to the Palestinian Authority. I think these are positive elements. And if people truly want peace, and two states living side by side in peace and security, they will concentrate on the positive elements that are ongoing and try to maximize those.

QUESTION: (Unrecorded.)

DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: Thank you, sir.

[End]

Released on July 18, 2003


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