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Rice IV by Michael Tutton of The Canadian Press

Interview by Michael Tutton of The Canadian Press

Secretary Condoleezza Rice
Stellarton,Nova Scotia, Canada
September 12, 2006


QUESTION: Canadians have noted a lot of things in terms of improved relations, the Softwood Lumber deal. A general -- in your visit here, have you seen it symbolic? Do you think since Steven Harper's Government has come into power that relations between the Bush Administration and the Canadian Government have improved?

SECRETARY RICE: Well, we do have very good relations with Prime Minister Harper and with his people. They had -- the President and the Prime Minister had a very good meeting in Washington where -- dealt with a lot of issues. But I think it's important not to just emphasize personalities. This is a relationship that is strong. It's a relationship that goes very, very deep. >From time to time we're going to have our differences. Softwood Lumber took a long time to resolve. But the good news is that with a lot of effort and a lot of goodwill, we've resolved it. And so I would concentrate principally on the fact that we are able to really work through our differences, but we really do have excellent relationships with Prime Minister Harper and with the Canadian Government.

QUESTION: Polls tend to show that the conservative government is facing strong criticisms from some quarters in Canada, particularly in Quebec, for a foreign policy that's quite closely aligned with the United States. Is it at all politically risky for your administration to give too much praise to conservatives here in Canada?

SECRETARY RICE: Well, as I said, I'm -- first of all, I don't know Canadian politics and I won't comment on Canadian politics. What we try to do is to talk about our allies around the world and their vital role in the war on terror. The Canadian role currently in Afghanistan is absolutely crucial. I believe that one of the reasons that the Taliban came back was they really did believe that when NATO came in it would -- there would be a diminution in effort from the fierce fighting of the U.S. forces. They've learned a tough lesson, that Canadians are fierce fighters and the Dutch are fierce fighters.

So why are we in this closely aligned policy on a place like Afghanistan? Because we are both vulnerable to terrorists, that's why. When I did the September 11th events yesterday, the remembrance at the State Department, they called the names of 90 countries that lost citizens. There have been attacks all over the world. It isn't as if you have a choice in this war on terror to sit on the sidelines. And I appreciate very much the leadership here in Canada to understand how important it is for Canada to fully participate.

QUESTION: Some groups in Canada, some political parties as well, are actually calling for the Canadian Government to now negotiate with the Taliban. What do you think of that?

SECRETARY RICE: Well, you can't negotiate with the Taliban. Come on. These are people who whipped women in stadiums given to them by the international community to play soccer, who refused to let women learn to read. The Taliban made Afghanistan a failed state and a terrorist haven for al-Qaida so that they could launch the September 11th attack. What's to negotiate?

This is a group of people who are after the wanton destruction of innocent people and have a vision of an Afghanistan and indeed a vision of the world that is dark and backward looking and medieval frankly. What is to negotiate?

The people of Afghanistan have offered amnesty to reintegration to people that want to get out of the fight. They've been reintegrating militias, they've been reintegrating low level Taliban. They've been doing that work. These are the hard core fighters who want to destroy Afghanistan and ultimately destroy us, and so I don't think there's much to negotiate.

QUESTION: Quick change of topic. The passport issue.

SECRETARY RICE: Yes.

QUESTION: Can I ask you what will Canadians be required to have to enter the United States by January 1st, 2008? And the second question of that is when will you let the Canadian Government know?

SECRETARY RICE: Well, we're working very hard to get the rules propagated. We've made some important decisions on what the documents have to be able to do. So I think it will be very soon. But let me be very clear, we want and are very attentive to the issue of keeping an open border where commerce can take place. I'm very aware that it's not just commerce, but you know little kids go to play hockey in the United States and vice versa, and we want to keep that kind of openness among people. It will not be the necessity of a passport. We are looking for an authentic document, a document that can authenticate identity but one that is relatively cheap and easy to acquire but that can help to keep the border secure, and we will be getting those rules out very soon.

QUESTION: You can't be more specific? I know Canadians are a little nervous with the time creeping up.

SECRETARY RICE: Yeah. And we're aware that we need to get this done and get it done very quickly.

QUESTION: Do Americans feel more secure of late about Canadian border security perhaps over the last year? We've had measures recently introduced, for example, arming 150 border guards. Does that make Americans feel more secure?

SECRETARY RICE: Well, certainly Americans do feel more secure and should feel more secure for all the good work that has been done between the United States and Canada on the border, that work that Canada itself has done.

We were very pleased when Canada was able to break up that terrorist ring a few months ago. That just shows that Canada is vigilant and tough on terrorism. So, yes, I think that we all believe that our border is more secure. But we have to all remember that we're not -- we're safer but not yet safe because it's an unfair fight in some sense. The terrorists have to be right once; we have to be right 100 percent of the time. So we have a lot of work to continue to do, but Canada has been a good partner.

QUESTION: Is there anything that you'd like to add that I haven't asked you for Canadians?

SECRETARY RICE: Well, I'd just like to thank the Canadians again for what they did on September 11th five years ago but also for recognizing that if we are to try and prevent 9/11s of the future, we have to fight the terrorists where they are. We can't allow them to group and re-gather, and the work that Canada is doing in Afghanistan is essential to that fight.

And while I want to underscore what I said in my earlier remarks, we honor the sacrifice and mourn the losses of Canadians. I just want to note that this is a noble cause and one that we're going to win.

Thank you. Thank you very much. 2006/T21-6

Released on September 12, 2006

ENDS


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