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Sec. Rice With Colby Sledge Of The Tennessean


Secretary Condoleezza Rice
Nashville, Tennessee
November 13, 2007

Interview With Colby Sledge of The Tennessean

QUESTION: So today, obviously with recent and historical events, what will you be speaking on?

SECRETARY RICE: Well, I'm going to talk about -- first of all, to congratulate this great organization on the work that it's done, because it's an organization of various organizations that really are the best face of compassion from the United States. So that's the first thing. Secondly, I want to talk about why President Bush and I believe that the time has come that we can make real progress on the establishment of a Palestinian state, a two-state solution, why the Annapolis meeting will have the ability there, I think, to show international support for the Palestinians and Israelis as they decide to try and move toward a Palestinian state.

I'll talk about how extremism in the Middle East is growing and responsible, moderate leaders like Mahmoud Abbas and his Prime Minister, Salam Fayyad, need support and they need the prospect of statehood in order to strengthen. And then I'll talk some also about the challenge in Iran.

QUESTION: Okay.

SECRETARY RICE: So we need to make sure that the international community stays mobilized to prevent Iran from getting the technologies that lead to the establishment of -- or to a nuclear weapon.

QUESTION: Okay. How do you -- I mean, how do you sell that to, you know, obviously a large Jewish community, several Israeli representatives here that a Palestinian state is the best method to go for?

SECRETARY RICE: Well, first, I will underscore how very committed the United States is and I personally am to Israeli security. No one is going to (inaudible) that anything be done that would compromise Israeli security, but in the final analysis, Israeli security is going to be enhanced by a democratic neighbor that is willing and able to fight terrorism and to live in peace and security.

And that's why the Israeli Government itself, under Prime Minister Olmert, has made the decision, as he informed his Knesset yesterday that it is time to begin negotiations with the Palestinian leadership, this (inaudible) to see if they can come to terms on the creation of two states. And so it's a decision that the Israeli Government has already taken. I want to just affirm to everyone that the United States remains committed to that vision that the President laid out all the way back in 2002, but also to the security that Israel -- Israelis deserve.

QUESTION: Do you think that can be accomplished by the end of your term?

SECRETARY RICE: Well, the parties have said that they think that if they work at this, they've got a chance to do it by the end of the President's term. That would certainly be our hope and our intent. There's a lot of hard work ahead, but it's also the case that the Palestinians have waited a long time for -- to be a state, for the dignity that's going to come from that. The Israelis have waited a long time for the security that's going to come with a democratic neighbor and everybody's waited a long time for peace. And so you have to hope that you can get it done soon.

QUESTION: Okay. Do you feel like that defines your time in this position?

SECRETARY RICE: Well, no. I believe it's been seven years and a lot has happened in that period of time and -- but clearly, the President has been committed to, and I've worked with him and met with him, to a different kind of Middle East, a Middle East in which extremism is being (inaudible) with ideas about -- ideals about democracy and freedom for people and the universal rights that we all should enjoy, a time when we have used this opportunity to give that chance to the people of Iraq and Afghanistan when we are seeing rising Iranian influence and working with the international community to counter that.

And you know, there are other issues on my plate too: Pakistan, trying to get a nuclear -- a denuclearization of the North Korean -- of the Korean Peninsula. So I've got my hands full.

QUESTION: So you're (inaudible). Well, let's talk about Pakistan. How great of a threat is it, truly right now?

SECRETARY RICE: Well, it's a really difficult time for Pakistan and I don't doubt that extremism is a real danger there. But the way to counter extremism is through democratic processes and adherence to them. And that's why we felt that the decision by President Musharraf was an unfortunate one, to impose a state of emergency. It's why that state of emergency needs to be removed, needs to be lifted as quickly as possible. It is why they need to have free and fair elections early next year and why moderate forces need to work together.

But the United States is focused on a path for a democratic Pakistan. We have been supportive of economic reform in Pakistan. We've been supportive of educational (inaudible). And of course, we have helped to provide funding to train Pakistani forces so that they can fight extremism. But this is a really hard time for Pakistan and we are a friend of Pakistan and we're going to stand by the Pakistani people in these difficult times.

QUESTION: You talked earlier about reforming -- you know, a new Middle East, a modern Middle East. You said someday that you would want to possibly bring in Syria to Middle Eastern talks. How do you -- again, talking about the audience who will be (inaudible), how do you sell that and --

SECRETARY RICE: This -- first of all, this conference is about the Palestinians and Israelis.

QUESTION: I see.

SECRETARY RICE: My only point on Sunday was that no one denies that the comprehensive peace (inaudible) will eventually have to resolve the Syrian-Israeli issue as well. Syria, if it chooses to come, is, of course, a member of the Arab League follow-up committee that the Arab League put together to follow up on what we think is a rather creative proposal to try and have not just Israeli-Palestinian reconciliation, but also Arab-Israeli.

And so that's Syria's role, but nobody denies that there is a Golan Heights issue, there is an Israeli-Syrian track. I think that Prime Minister Olmert mentioned this morning -- or yesterday to the Knesset that they don't object to Syria being there; in fact, they think it might be useful. So it's just a recognition of what a comprehensive peace would entail, but this meeting is about the Israelis and the Palestinians, not about other (inaudible).

QUESTION: Okay. So you have -- you essentially have a year left. Can you -- I mean, would you leave this to another administration, whoever that may be? Do you feel confident in leaving that or do you feel like you have to get it done?

SECRETARY RICE: Well, when you come into this work, into these jobs, you have an obligation to do as much as you can, to work as hard as you can, work as fast as you can to achieve whatever you can. And then it is the great strength of the American political system that you pass it on to someone else.

And I am -- I do believe that when it comes to the great generational struggle that the United States has now found itself in, the struggle between extremism and moderation in the Middle East, the struggle between tyranny and democracy in the Middle East, that that's something that not only will we pass to the next president, but that president will pass to the next president and probably far beyond, because this is a generational struggle.

But we've done this before; you know, we passed the struggle with communism and the Soviet Union from president to president and ultimately, I was fortunate enough to be around and to be the White House Soviet Specialist in '89 to '91, when it finally came to an end and when it came to end -- an end on terms very favorable to the United States and to the West, the collapse of the Soviet Union, the liberation of Eastern Europe, the unification of Germany on Western terms, the integration of Eastern Europe into NATO. Who would have thought that possible when Truman passed the baton to Eisenhower and so on?

So what you have to do in these times is to do your best while you're there, to speak out for core American values, to lay a foundation on these critical issues, but to recognize that very often, these struggles don't end on your watch.

QUESTION: Okay. So you have all this on your plate. Have you even thought about what you're doing after 2008?

SECRETARY RICE: Well, see, it's easy, because I know that I want to go back to California and I'm -- I will undoubtedly go back to Stanford. And I was just saying to somebody, while I love SEC football, I'll go back to watching the Pac-10.

QUESTION: Well, I was going to say (inaudible).

SECRETARY RICE: Oh, well, thanks for the -- I belong west of the Mississippi.

QUESTION: Okay, great.

SECRETARY RICE: All right. Great, thank you. Thanks very much, a real pleasure.

2007/1008
Released on November 14, 2007

ENDS

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