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Rice Interview With Richard Engle of NBC

Interview With Richard Engle of NBC

Secretary Condoleezza Rice
Baghdad, Iraq
May 16, 2005

QUESTION: Secretary Rice, the Iraqi people we spoke to are not satisfied with the progress, particularly since the swearing in of this new government. Is the United States and are you satisfied with the progress they've been making?

SECRETARY RICE: Well, I've been very impressed with the spirit of the Iraqi people, first of all, and it's partly -- part of the democratic process for people to be impatient with it. That's not a bad thing. But if you think about it, this government has been in power a very, very short time. In fact, it's been less than a year since they actually transferred sovereignty to the Iraqi people. And so there are going to be ups and downs. Things are not going to happen overnight. But if you look at what they've achieved thus far, it's really quite remarkable. And they've got hard work ahead of them but we are prepared to try and help.

QUESTION: But the people on the ground see the situation apparently getting worse since this new government arrived.

SECRETARY RICE: Well, there is no doubt that the terrorists who see a new government now and see, by the way, with every stage of this political process, I think they see their chances to take Iraq off the political path beginning to diminish. And so we should not be surprised that they have been very aggressive since the new government came into power to try and demonstrate that the new government is not going to make a difference. We just have to be persistent. We and the Iraqis have to be persistent. We have to be persistent on the security side in doing the kinds of operations that we've been doing around the country to round up terrorists. We have to be persistent in pressing Iraq's neighbors not to allow terrorists to use their territory for transit. We have to be persistent in trying to help the Iraqis deliver services better than they have been able to do. And the Iraqis have to be persistent in a political process that maintains momentum, that is indeed inclusive, because if it's in inclusive process and all Iraqis begin to see their future in this process, then the terrorists will have very little ground to stand on.

QUESTION: And finally, when you talk about inclusiveness, Iraqis from the Sunni triangle do not feel represented at all by this government. They think it is an Iran-backed, Shiite-dominated government. We hear from the officials in Jafaari's government that they area reaching out to the Sunnis. What evidence do you have? Do you believe them?

SECRETARY RICE: Well, I do believe that this government is reaching out to Sunnis and has reached out. In fact, if you look at the government itself, it has significant Sunni representation, not just in numbers but in several very important posts, for instance, the Defense Minister is a Sunni Arab. And the question really now is about the constitutional process and we have talked today with the Iraqi leadership about the need to make sure that that process is inclusive. Obviously, the Sunnis, for a variety of reasons, did not fully participate in the elections and some of that had to do with the intimidation of terrorists. Perhaps there were also choices made.

But that is now behind the Iraqi people and the future ahead of them is the constitution. And we have talked, and I think found receptive people to the notion that the constitution has to be an inclusive document. In fact, the Iraqis are saying that they are looking for mechanisms that will help deal with the issues of including Sunnis.

QUESTION: Secretary Rice, thank you very much for your time.

SECRETARY RICE: Thank you, very much. 2005/T7-3

Released on May 16, 2005


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