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Rice Interview With Alia Amil of Al Arabiyah


Interview With Alia Amil of Al Arabiyah


Secretary Condoleezza Rice
Baghdad, Iraq
May 15, 2005

QUESTION: (In Arabic.)


SECRETARY RICE: I came to Iraq today because there is a new elected Iraqi Government just formed. I wanted to have an opportunity to talk to that government about its priorities, about how the United States and the international community can be supportive of what Iraq is doing. We talked about an integrated strategy of dealing with the security situation, keeping political momentum through an inclusive political process and, of course, doing what can be done on the infrastructure side to deliver better services to the Iraqi people.

QUESTION: (In Arabic.)

SECRETARY RICE: Well, I have not heard the reports about Zarqawi, but we, from time to time, when we have information, we are able to act to try to break up some of the terrorist networks. And it's extremely important for the Iraqi people that these operations be done because, of course, the terrorists are now killing innocent Iraqis with their car bombings and their suicide bombings on a daily basis.

The Iraqi security forces are also very active in the country and this is just an effort to really go after the terrorists.

QUESTION: (In Arabic.)

SECRETARY RICE: Iran is, of course, a neighbor of Iraq and we would hope that Iran and Iraq will have good relations. That would increase the chances for stability. But it should be -- Iran should be a transparent neighbor; that is, that it should be involved in Iraqi affairs as a good neighbor would be involved, not in some surreptitious way. The Iraqi people, it seems to me, are very independent people. They don't want to be governed or to be unduly influenced by any foreign influence and they have their own traditions and I feel will make their own way.

QUESTION: (In Arabic.)

SECRETARY RICE: There is a very grave concern that Syria is a place in which terrorists are gathering and transiting into Iraq. The Syrian Government, as a neighbor of Iraq, should be doing everything that it can to break up these terrorist networks, to arrest these terrorists and to not let their territory be used in this way, because the Syrians are, of course, frustrating the hopes of the Iraqi people by not acting decisively against these terrorists. So yes, there is great concern about what is going on on the Syrian border.

QUESTION: (In Arabic.)

SECRETARY RICE: Anything like this would be thoroughly investigated, but I want to speak very clearly to Muslims around the world. The United States is a country that was built on the concept of religious freedom. We have the largest religious group growing in the United States now, Muslim Americans, who practice their religion freely in the United States. The United States would never condone, in any way, the desecration of the Holy Koran or of any other holy book of a religious people. We respect the great religion that is Islam.

And so while I can tell people that we would investigate any such charges, I can tell you also that the United States of America would simply not tolerate the desecration of the holy books of a great religion.

QUESTION: (In Arabic.)

SECRETARY RICE: Well, the clear message is one that is coming from the Iraqis themselves and that is that they need to draft the constitution. It needs to be an inclusive process in which Sunnis also are participating. It is well known that the Sunnis did not fully participate in the electoral process, but this is now about the future of Iraq and Sunnis need to be represented in that future. And I found that Iraqis across the spectrum today talked exactly about that.

Now, we are here. The multinational forces are here. There's a UN Security Council resolution that -- under which they are here. And they are here because the Iraqis are not yet capable of defending themselves. You can see in terms of internal enemies, as we've just talked about terrorists who come across the border. We are really determined to train Iraqi security forces, equip them so that they can do the job themselves. But until they're able to do the job themselves, the Iraqis need the help of the international community and we all need to support a free and democratic Iraq and to bring about an Iraq that is stable. That is the goal of the Iraqi people and it's the goal of the American people, too.

QUESTION: Thank you very much, Secretary Rice.

SECRETARY RICE: Thank you. 2005/T7-7 # # #

Released on May 16, 2005

ENDS


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