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Rice Interview With Jawad Kadhom of Al Iraqiyah

Interview With Jawad Kadhom of Al Iraqiyah

Secretary Condoleezza Rice
Baghdad, Iraq
May 15, 2005

QUESTION: (In Arabic.)

SECRETARY RICE: Yes. The major reason that I am here is because there is now an Iraqi Government, a democratically elected government, and I wanted to come to discuss with that government its priorities. I've had very good meetings throughout the government, talking about maintaining political momentum and also about what needs to be done in terms of the security situation and the economic situation.

QUESTION: (In Arabic.)

SECRETARY RICE: Well, clearly, there are people, many of them from outside the country, foreign terrorists, who are determined to try and stop the Iraqi people from having a better future. The Iraqi people voted in huge numbers on January 30th and it was inspirational to the entire world to see the Iraqis vote despite the terrorist threats. And Iraq is emerging now as a democracy in a region that does not have many democracies.

And so there are people who want to stop this progress and I think it is not surprising that after the standup of the new government, they would try and make an effort to discredit that government. But because the Iraqi people have elected this government, they won't succeed. And one of the discussions that I have had with the minister of defense, the minister of interior and, of course, with the prime minister is how we can continue to support the training and equipping of Iraqi security forces because the multinational forces and especially American forces want very much to get to the day when Iraqis can take care of their own defense. And we talked about the need to make sure that that program is working very well.

QUESTION: (In Arabic.)

SECRETARY RICE: The President has always said that we do not have an exit strategy; we have a success strategy. And the success strategy is when Iraqi forces are strong enough to defend this young democracy. The Iraqi Government has said -- first the interim government and now this government -- that it needs the help of the international community at this point, it needs international forces to fight off the terrorists and to help defend Iraq.

But we want to stay only as long as we are needed. I can assure you that it is the goal of the United States and of other coalition forces to train Iraqi security forces so that Iraq can take care of its own security.

QUESTION: (In Arabic.)

SECRETARY RICE: Well, the issue is to do whatever is necessary to stop the terrorists from killing innocent Iraqis because many of the people -- most of the people who are dying in these attacks -- are innocent Iraqis. And so we understand that there is a link between the political process and what is going on now and the writing of a constitution which will start soon and the need for that political process to include all Iraqis, Shia and Kurds but Sunnis as well. Even if Sunnis were not as represented in the elections, it is the strong belief of the United States and, I believe, of the government that Sunnis must be included now in Iraq's political future. It is important to have economic development and infrastructure development. That's another part of dealing with the security situation.

But of course, Iraq's neighbors should not support the terrorists and the insurgency. Syria should do everything that it can to make certain that its territory is not being used for terrorism because the terrorists are frustrating the desire of the Iraqi people for a better future and Iraq's neighbors need to respect what the Iraqi people are trying to build here.

QUESTION: (In Arabic.)

SECRETARY RICE: Well, thank you. It's been very good to be here in Iraq and I look forward to returning.

QUESTION: Thank you.

SECRETARY RICE: Thank you. 2005/T7-9 # # #

Released on May 16, 2005


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