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Rice IV on CBS Face the Nation with Bob Schieffer

Interview on CBS Face the Nation with Bob Schieffer

Secretary Condoleezza Rice
St. Petersburg, Russia
July 16, 2006

QUESTION: Madame Secretary, this appears to be worse than ever this morning. What is your assessment from there?

SECRETARY RICE: Well, clearly we are concerned about the growing civilian casualties. We are concerned about the general instability in the area. Bob, I think we have to be committed to dealing not just with the immediate crisis but to lay a foundation so that when we are out of this set of circumstances we don't have repeated violence again. We all want a cessation of the violence but we also want a return to the international framework -- Resolution 1559 in the case of Lebanon, the roadmap in the case of the Palestinian territories -- that will give us a permanent and firm foundation rather than one, a cessation of violence that would be held hostage to the next time that Hezbollah or Hamas decide that they want to attack Israeli territory.

QUESTION: Well, Madame Secretary, what exactly is the United States doing here? The Lebanese leader yesterday called on the United States to call for a ceasefire. The President said he is not going to do that. What exactly are we doing here?

SECRETARY RICE: We are working with all of our allies in the region, including Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan. We are working with members of the G-8 here. We're working with the Secretary General. And of course we're talking constantly to the Israelis, to the Lebanese and to the Palestinians.

And what we're trying to do, Bob, is obviously to have a cessation of violence is going to be important. But I want to repeat, you have to have a cessation of violence that moves this process forward. If you simply say, okay, let's cease the violence and it leaves the conditions in place that allow these extremists to launch these attacks in the first place, then I can assure you we will be back here three weeks from now or three months from now talking about another need for a cessation of violence. This time we need to make sure that Resolution 1559 is enforced for Lebanon. That resolution says that unauthorized groups should not be allowed to operate on Lebanese territory in precisely the way that Hezbollah did. What Hezbollah did was to use Lebanese territory to launch an attack against Israel without the knowledge of the Lebanese Government. That shows the importance of 1559.

We have to have a circumstance in which the Palestinian security forces are able to prevent attacks from Gaza into Israeli territory. We've got to get at the underlying circumstance here, which is that these extremist forces have shown their hand. They're determined not to let progress be made toward a two-state solution. They're determined not to have the Lebanese people have sovereignty and democracy. And we are equally determined to isolate the extremist elements and to disable them.

QUESTION: Do you believe that Syria and Iran are playing a part in this, Madame Secretary?

SECRETARY RICE: I absolutely see that Syria and Iran are playing a part in this. They're not even trying to hide their hand. Syria has held press conferences with radical elements of Hamas. They've held press conferences for Hezbollah. The radical elements of Hamas sit in Syria and find harbor there. And Iran is the major financier of these efforts. And Iran and Syria, like these extremist elements, Hezbollah and Hamas, don't really have a future in the different kind of Middle East that the President and his allies are building.

QUESTION: Are we saying anything to --

SECRETARY RICE: Of course through --

QUESTION: -- either of them?

SECRETARY RICE: Well, many states are speaking with one voice to Syria and to Iran, most especially the regional states are talking about the importance of Syria helping to get those Israeli soldiers returned safely to Israel, of playing their role in stopping the attacks. Absolutely there are efforts with Syria and with Tehran through states that have relations with them.

QUESTION: Madame Secretary, there are a lot of Americans in Beirut. How are you going to get them out of there?

SECRETARY RICE: Well, Bob, this is something I'm following really hour to hour. The Ambassador there has full authority to recommend what needs to be done. We're going to protect Americans. We have contingency plans for evacuation of Americans should that become necessary and we've already authorized some of the departure of embassy personnel and we're helping Americans in any way that we can. That is an overwhelming preoccupation right now of our embassy and of our consular forces.

QUESTION: What impact is this having on Iraq?

SECRETARY RICE: Well, Iraq is a piece of the puzzle of this different kind of Middle East. Nobody can imagine a different kind of Middle East with Saddam Hussein in the middle of it. You can certainly imagine a different kind of Middle East with a moderate Shia-led but multi-ethnic, multi-religious Iraq. And so Iraq is a piece of this. But of course many of the forces that would like to destabilize the rest of the region would like to destabilize the young Iraqi Government. We have to recognize what is going on here. This is now becoming very clear. The extremists are showing their hand. And we have to be equally determined that they're not going to succeed in Iraq, in Lebanon and in the Palestinian territories.

QUESTION: And what is the President doing? Has he made any calls in connection with this this morning? How much of his time is he spending on this?

SECRETARY RICE: Well, the President was just this morning with Prime Minister Blair, where they spent the bulk of their time on this issue; with President Chirac, where they talked in substantial agreement about the underlying problem here and the need to address the underlying problems. I would remind everyone that Great Britain, France and the United States were the cosponsors of Resolution 1559 that relates to sovereignty for Lebanon. And so he is working very actively with his colleagues here but he's also had phone calls with Prime Minister Siniora and King Abdullah of Jordan and will talk to others as well.

QUESTION: All right. Well, thank you very much, Madame Secretary.


Released on July 16, 2006


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