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Condoleezza Rice IV With Thalia Assuras of CBS

Interview With Thalia Assuras of CBS

Secretary Condoleezza Rice
Baghdad, Iraq
April 26, 2006

QUESTION: Key question right now: Is the prime minister-designate the man to bring together the competing factions in this country and form this government within 30 days?

SECRETARY RICE: I found the prime minister-designate to be a very impressive man, very focused. He talked a lot about the need to establish trust between various Iraqi communities and to have a government of national unity that is truly a government of national unity and I believe that he will. He has a lot of support from the presidency council, from the speaker and his deputies. They've been through now a long process of getting to this point. And they were doing a lot of good work during that period of time to agree on a program, to agree on rules for governing. And yes, I'm pretty confident that they're going to be able to do this and do it relatively quickly.

QUESTION: But some of the key people are those that perhaps feel that not included in the process and that would include Moqtada al-Sadr, for example, and people and people who run militias as it were, who seem to be terrorizing the country. Will those militias be merged in? Will those people be brought into the process as well?

SECRETARY RICE: Well, clearly, there will have to be a process that leaves force in the hands of the government, not in the hands of unauthorized people and unauthorized militias. And I heard the prime minister speak to that when he said that this would be a high priority. This has been done around the world. Other places have demobilized militias and armed groups and done it peacefully. And the Iraqis have a framework now of a government of national unity. They will soon have ministries that will -- ministers who will have to oversee that work. But I'm sure that they will have an Iraqi plan for doing this. Right now, the goal is to get the government formed and to get ministers who are competent and non-sectarian and the prime minister-designate talked a great deal about getting that.

QUESTION: Thank you, Madame.

SECRETARY RICE: Thank you.

QUESTION: Appreciate it.

Released on April 26, 2006

ENDS


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