Rice Interview With James Rosen of Fox News
Interview With James Rosen of Fox News
Dead Sea, Jordan
November 30, 2006
QUESTION: Madame Secretary, thank you very much for this opportunity.
SECRETARY RICE: A pleasure to be with you.
QUESTION: I want to thank you and your staff. In this case it speaks both to generosity of time and of spirit, and I want you to know I appreciate it.
SECRETARY RICE: Of course.
QUESTION: That said, let me now work you over. (Laughter.) Let's start with Iraq and with the President's meeting with Prime Minister Maliki. We've heard from both men. After the meeting, President Bush said that one of the messages he got from Prime Minister Maliki was frustration that, as the President put it, we've been slow about giving him the tools necessary to do his job. "Stop holding me back," he quoted Prime Minister Maliki, in effect, as telling us.
What kind of frustrations have the Iraqis communicated to us about giving them the tools necessary? What have we withheld from them?
SECRETARY RICE: Well, this is a democratically elected government. Twelve and a half million people went and voted for this government and it feels a very strong responsibility to lead. It feels a very strong responsibility to its citizens to do something about the violence, to deal with issues concerning infrastructure and services. And they are really anxious to have the tools at their disposal to make a difference for their people, and I think that's a very good sign, James. In fact, the issue that we spent the most time on, as a matter of fact the entire time in the meeting, was on how to accelerate the security forces, the building of security forces, the increases in perhaps army forces that they might need, in order to make it possible for the Iraqis to deal better with the very severe security challenges that they have.
There has been a joint committee that has been working -- Ambassador Khalilzad, General Casey and an Iraqi team headed by their National Security Advisor Dr. Rabaie -- and they've been presenting plans on how they want to accelerate, and they did that today and the Iraqis clearly are determined to take control.
QUESTION: What does accelerate the transfer mean? Did we discuss providing weapons to the Iraqi Government?
SECRETARY RICE: Well, of course we are training and equipping the Iraqi forces, but we are looking at - or re-looking with the Iraqis at what kind of forces they may need for different kinds of contingencies. For instance, the circumstances that they face in Baghdad, clearly we did not get the outcomes from the Baghdad security plan that we had hoped. And the Iraqis are now looking again at what kinds of forces might be more useful there. We're looking at how to better equip those forces. Recognizing that police forces take a little bit longer to bring along, what more can you do with army personnel?
And so this is a very detailed -- this has been very detailed work that has been going on, and I think you'll see an acceleration not just of the transfer of authority to the Iraqis over certain areas of the country -- a lot of that is already going on, whole provinces have already been transferred -- but really in looking at the capabilities themselves and reacting to Iraqi suggestions and concerns about what may be needed.
QUESTION: When he returned to Iraq, he spoke publicly -- Prime Minister Maliki -- and he spoke about receiving light and effective weapons, vehicles, armored vehicles and helicopters. Were those the kind of requests that he made?
SECRETARY RICE: Well, these are the kinds of issues that the military has been dealing with with his Minister of Defense and Minister of Interior. I think that they'll have to now go back and see what needs to be provided when. But obviously the Iraqi forces need to be more capable of doing some of the tasks that, frankly, they've been not able to do. We understand that there have been problems with equipping the forces, that perhaps different kinds of equipment will be needed. So that work is underway.
But I just underline that the real headline, if you will, of this meeting for me was the degree to which the Iraqis came in ready to take responsibility and saying please give us the tools to take that responsibility.
QUESTION: President Bush said after the meeting that he was satisfied by the assurances he received from Prime Minister Maliki that he will hold to account -- these are the President's words -- anyone who is breaking the law in Iraq. I would like to -- now, that's a general assurance that the President disclosed. I would like to know the specific conversation that was had to the extent you're willing to share it with me about Muqtada al-Sadr. Did he -- did Maliki assure the United States that he's going to deal with this man?
SECRETARY RICE: Well, obviously, James, the conversation between the President and Prime Minister Maliki is a conversation between them. I want to underscore though that the Iraqi leadership really is determined to have a society that operates by rule of law. It is determined to have a society, a democratic society, in which force is the purview of the state, not of individual militias.
QUESTION: (Inaudible) can say that. My question is whether there was a specific discussion at any point in this trip about Muqtada al-Sadr.
SECRETARY RICE: They talked about the entire range of issues and problems that the Iraqis face.
QUESTION: Was he one of those issues?
SECRETARY RICE: They talked about the entire range. I'm not going to talk about what the President and Prime Minister Maliki discussed in private. Obviously, the questions about how the militias are operating, how they are operating in the context of certain political circumstances, is one of the major issues that the Iraqis face, and they did have that conversation.
SECRETARY RICE: The problem for the Iraqis is that they have too many people operating outside of the boundaries of the law, they have too many people operating --
SECRETARY RICE: James, obviously anyone who is operating a militia that is outside the law is a problem. That said, of course the Sadrists have won seats in the parliament, they have ministers in the government, there is an Iraqi reality to this. But the problem of militias, the problem of people operating outside of the security structures of the Iraqi Government, has to be dealt with and the Iraqis understand that much better than anyone.
QUESTION: Let's move to the Israeli-Palestinian issue. Obviously, you had your meetings today.
SECRETARY RICE: Yes.
QUESTION: Is it your sense based on what you heard that President Abbas feels that he has reached the end of the road in trying to form a national unity government with Hamas?
SECRETARY RICE: Well, I won't put words in his mouth. I'll just say that standing next to me at the press conference he was very clear that it's reached an impasse, that he's done everything that he possibly could do.
QUESTION: We've heard "impasse" and we also heard other translations. We heard "dead end." Which do you understand?
SECRETARY RICE: Well, since I don't speak Arabic, I was hearing the same translation that you were. But I do think that this is a man who has given it his best and given it his all, and who recognizes that a national unity government would have been a very good accomplishment and a good way to get the Palestinian political crisis behind the Palestinian people. But they've not been able to achieve that.
But, James, they've not been able to achieve it for the right reasons. That is, that Abu Mazen has been unwilling to compromise on important principles and to compromise on having independent experts in the government who can actually run a government. I am not going to speak for him as to whether or not the process continues, but it certainly sounded to me as if he believes that he needs to move on if, in fact, Hamas is not prepared to make a deal.
QUESTION: We only have two minutes left. I want to talk briefly about Iran and then get to one last question. Ambassador Bolton said recently that there is no activity going on in New York right now with regard to the Iran resolution. Why is that? And is it true, as I've heard reported, that the Russians have sought to strip this resolution draft of all reference to sanctions?
SECRETARY RICE: Well, first of all, Article 41 of Chapter 7 -- we have a guest. (Laughter.) Article 41 of Chapter 7 is, in fact, a sanctions element of the Security Council and so I don't think there's going to be any doubt that when this resolution is passed that this is about sanctions.
Secondly, there is a lot of activity in capitals about what we will do. There was a lot of activity when we met with President Putin, with President Hu and with others. And so while we may not be literally sitting at the table in New York working on the wording of a resolution, people should not interpret that as a lack of activity.
QUESTION: I want to ask you about the way you respond when you are asked about the question of whether you would ever run for President.
SECRETARY RICE: Oh, James.
QUESTION: I'm not asking you if you would ever run for President, so we can both be relieved of that.
SECRETARY RICE: Okay.
QUESTION: But whenever you are asked about it, one of the things you say is, "I know what I'm good at and I intend to go back to Stanford," et cetera. What is it that you know you're good at and not good at that applies to this question?
SECRETARY RICE: Well, James, I didn't spend a lot of time analyzing this issue.
QUESTION: What do you mean by, "I know that I'm good at"?
SECRETARY RICE: Look, I know that I think my strength is to look at a problem and to try to come to an answer about how it might be resolved and then to do the work to get that done. I have enormous respect for people who go out and run for office and appeal to the American people --
QUESTION: But you don't think you'd be good at that?
SECRETARY RICE: I just don't think that that is for me.
QUESTION: What is it that you find not so enticing about it?
SECRETARY RICE: Well, I just have watched it up close and personal, and you have a sense of what you might do and what you might not do.
QUESTION: So the hand-shaking and the Iowa State Fair --
SECRETARY RICE: Look, I love being out among people. I love -- I actually like the hand-shaking and I've never been to the Iowa State Fair, but I'm sure I would enjoy it. But the issue for me is that I'm really someone who has made my mark and hopes to make my mark in foreign policy. It's what I love. It's what I do. And when I'm done with this, I'll go back and try to make sense of what we've done over the last eight years.
QUESTION: Let the transcript reflect the intervention of the cat. (Laughter.)
SECRETARY RICE: A wonderful visitor. But not a black cat. (Laughter.)
QUESTION: (Inaudible.) Madame Secretary, thank you very much.
SECRETARY RICE: Thank you.
QUESTION: A pleasure to see you. Thanks for joining us.
Released on November 30, 2006