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Bolton on the Stuation in Somalia & Other Matters

Briefing on the Stuation in Somalia and Other Matters

Ambassador John R. Bolton, U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations
Remarks to the media following a Security Council Stakeout
New York City
December 6, 2006


Ambassador Bolton: Hello.

Reporter: Hi.

Ambassador Bolton: So we're going to pass this resolution on Somalia to see what we can do to improve the situation there, obviously a matter of very grave concern. And we think it's a good resolution. We think, despite some skepticism that I encountered here a few days ago, that we could well have a unanimous resolution. So we're very pleased with that.

Reporter: Ambassador -- (inaudible) -- you address that skepticism again, the issue that a lot of NGOs think that this is going to lead toward inflaming tensions and is going to provoke the Islamic Courts and all that.

Ambassador Bolton: Yeah. I mean, the other option is that the instability that we see in Somalia and that we've seen for over 15 years now would spread to the region as a whole. And the criticism most typically leveled of the council is it does not act in time. This is an opportunity to have a regional peacekeeping force inserted into this area and to try and prevent the situation from getting worse. So I don't -- I think the choice of doing nothing is really not a choice at all.

Reporter: Ambassador, the Islamic Union announced that they will do jihad against an international force who comes in. And people are saying you're now siding with the government in Baidoa and you're fueling the conflict.

Ambassador Bolton: I think we're siding with the people of Somalia, who definitely need relief from the conflict that's been going on for far too long. And the transitional federal institutions are supported by IGAD, by the African Union, and they need to work out a political solution, which we think the peacekeeping force will help advance.

Reporter: Ambassador, you've been famously quoted as saying that the UN. could stand to lose 10 floors without much of loss. Having served as ambassador here, what's your final analysis of this organization?

Ambassador Bolton: You know, in many years of service in the federal government, I've seen a lot of newspaper stories that start out something like, "In a wide-ranging exit interview, Mr. X said the following." I'm not going to give any wide-ranging exit interviews or even any exit interviews, because I think until I leave federal service, it's not my personal opinions that matter, it's the policy of the United States.

So --

Reporter: How would you like to be remembered in the history of UN ambassadors to the U.S.?

Ambassador Bolton: That's a personal question, so I'll pass on that, too.

Reporter: Well, you're uniquely qualified to answer that.

Ambassador Bolton: I don't think, while I'm on the federal payroll, that I ought to answer personal questions. And let me just say that I have consistently declined here to talk about my personal situation, and I'm going to continue to decline that.

And I want to talk about Somalia. Yeah.

Reporter: (inaudible.)

Ambassador Bolton: Well, I think this is what they've been trying to do, and they have the support of the African Union. I think it's important to give the Security Council support, and that's what I expect we're going to do here in a few minutes.

Reporter: Mr. Ambassador, one of the things the prime minister of Somalia said just about two days ago, that he fears that there's no hope, that the country is going to be engulfed in a new war, and that's going to take in the whole Horn of Africa. Is this a concern of the United States?

And as a non-personal matter, are you -- are we going to keep seeing you here until the end of this session of Congress?

Ambassador Bolton: I will continue to serve until my appointment ends, because I have not resigned. I have simply indicated I will leave federal service -- hang on a second -- when my -- when the recess appointment ends.

The whole point of the deployment of the IGAD peacekeeping force is as a preventive measure so that the situation does not deteriorate further. If we don't take any steps at all, that's the far more likely outcome. So I think this is -- it may not be a complete solution to the problem, and that's one reason why we've encouraged the mediation of various parties and to have all the Somalia factions talk with one another. I think that's basic.

Reporter: Ambassador, just with regard to which troops might go -- (inaudible) -- be asking Ethiopians to leave? And which troops -- (inaudible) -- go in?

Ambassador Bolton: Well, I think that's -- that's principally a matter for IGAD to work out, which is why we've also made it clear in here that this is a regional force, not a UN -- not a UN force.

Reporter: (inaudible) -- Ambassador, I mean, I'm not going to -- (inaudible) -- just as an assessment, not -- what is it that you did, you made, accomplished -- (inaudible) -- what would you like to see happen?

Ambassador Bolton: Well --

Reporter: (inaudible) -- I mean, not getting personal; it's just that you, you know -- (inaudible) and also, again -- (inaudible) -- it is my -- what do you call -- invitation to come to us at the end of this year and speak to that -- (off mike) -- before I leave here. So that will be a pleasure to have.

Ambassador Bolton: Okay. I'll take that as a personal invitation.

Reporter: Ambassador, can you say anything about the size of -- the proposed size of the force or funding or the timetable for --

Ambassador Bolton: Funding will be voluntary. I think the resolution makes that clear. And I think what we want is for the IGAD and AU to work that out.


Reporter: Can you describe -- you went to dinner at the White House last night, and obviously it was private, but was there more of a --

Ambassador Bolton: But notwithstanding it was private, spill your guts, right?

Reporter: (inaudible) -- these stakeout interviews. Can you explain or talk about -- I mean, you haven't been willing to discuss Secretary-General Annan or comment on his term. I wondered: Was there more of a healing process as both of you exit the UN and --

Ambassador Bolton: Nope, nobody sang "Kumbaya."

Reporter: Are you able to say, on Darfur, where we are with the negotiations over the hybrid force and whether you think this force is going to actually be deployed?

Ambassador Bolton: Well, I think the Security Council has spoken clearly in Resolution 1706. Certainly from the U.S. point of view, we are not backing off 1706. And this is a test of the Security Council. When it passes a resolution, do UN member states pay attention to it or not? And I think they're watching what happens at 1706 in Tehran and Pyongyang and a variety of other capitals. If you want to take the Security Council seriously, then the Security Council itself has to take its resolution seriously. And if it doesn't, there will be consequences.

One more.

Reporter: Ambassador, please, do you intend to take, if you are going to be offered, high position at the United Nations -- (inaudible) --

Ambassador Bolton: I don't expect to be offered, and if offered, I would not accept. And with that --

Released on December 6, 2006


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