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Rice Interview With Bernard Volker of TF1

Interview With Bernard Volker of TF1

Secretary Condoleezza Rice
Riga, Latvia
November 28, 2006

QUESTION: Thank you very much for agreeing to meet with us.

SECRETARY RICE: It's a pleasure to be with you.

QUESTION: Can we start with Iraq? Yes. So the situation there looks dramatic, the speech about disaster of civil war. What's your opinion on that and do you think that the American foreign policy, I mean the American foreign policy in Iraq, can be changed because the new Congress is being -- coming into place in January?

SECRETARY RICE: Well, the President has been very clear that the United States remains committed to an Iraq that can defend itself, an Iraq that will not be a haven for terrorism, an Iraq that will be a stabilizing force in the region. It's a very difficult problem currently. There has always been the problem of the insurgency and terrorism. There was the February bombing of the Golden Mosque at Samara, an added dimension of increased sectarian violence.

But I think we also have to recognize that the Iraqi Government, which is a unity government, elected government, and the great majority of Iraqi people want to live in a unified Iraq not in an Iraq that is sectarian, and that that government is working on -- toward an effort at national reconciliation. And we are trying to help them develop the forces, the security forces, that will give them the means to deal with the extremists that they are facing. But we also have to recognize that in big historic changes like this it's often difficult going and the President is determined that America is not going to abandon the battlefield or abandon the Iraqis, until we have helped them to create a foundation for a stable future.

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QUESTION: From that perspective, do you still think that going to war in Iraq was a good idea? Obviously, I mean maybe Jacques Chirac was right in trying to avert this war?

SECRETARY RICE: Well, I think there's no doubt that the world is better off without Saddam Hussein and Iraqis are better off without Saddam Hussein. And we have to realize that an Iraqi Government, an Iraqi regime that had been a source of problems in the Middle East for many, many years, including having invaded its neighbors twice, having used weapons of mass destruction against its own people and against its neighbors, still in a state of war with the United States and other states that were enforcing the agreements of 1991, that that wasn't a very stable circumstance either. And at least the Iraqi people will have a chance to build a foundation for a different type of Iraq. But we recognize how very difficult the situation is. But it is still a situation that Iraqis can resolve with the help of an international community that does not lose confidence and faith in them and that remains committed to them.

QUESTION: So you don't see a change in American policy, foreign policy with the new Congress?

SECRETARY RICE: Oh, I think we will definitely adjust our policies. The President has ordered a review. The Pentagon is undergoing a review. We've been doing the same at the State Department. We've had several meetings now with the President to review where we are. We recognize that we have different challenges than when we started in 2003, 2004. The situation in Iraq is not acceptable to anyone, but what is also not acceptable is to somehow abandon this task. And so the President is listening to all advice including advice from the Baker-Hamilton Commission which will be forthcoming soon, advice from his commanders, advice from his diplomats, and he will chart a course for the United States, but it will be a course that remains committed to an Iraq that is a stable force in the Middle East.

QUESTION: And now about NATO. France, as you know, wants to have a special place for Europe inside of NATO. What do you think about this?

SECRETARY RICE: Well, I think it's very clear that the members of NATO come as individual members. That has always been the understanding and I think it needs to remain the understanding. NATO has a long history going back to the Washington Treaty in 1949. It's an alliance that has had many successes including having been the principal pillar in bringing about the ultimate collapse of communism and the creation of a Europe whole and free. And it did it in very much understanding that there was another important pillar to that Europe whole and free which was the European Union which has evolved, emerged and gotten stronger. And we have been, in the United States, a very strong advocate of a strong Europe. But NATO is an alliance of 26 different states, and it has to act as an alliance of 26 different states. And the United States I think will continue to believe that and continue to insist on that.

QUESTION: And in Afghanistan do you want the Europeans to do more?

SECRETARY RICE: Well, I think we are as an alliance doing an awful lot in Afghanistan that no one would have ever expected us to do really. Would anybody have thought five years ago that we would be sitting here talking about really the largest military mission that NATO has ever undertaken, and it's in Afghanistan? But it is because NATO is responding to the challenges of the 21st century, which is the challenge of terrorism in states like Afghanistan -- an Afghanistan, by the way, that was a haven from which al-Qaida came to attack the United States and kill 3,000 of our citizens, an organization that has caused civilian deaths in Spain and as far away as Jordan or Indonesia.

And so the alliance is adapting. It is evolving in very important ways. I do think that there is more that we all need to look at in terms of the civilian side. Afghanistan needs not just the military help from NATO. It needs a successful military mission by NATO and I think we're doing well. But it also needs help with reconstruction. It needs help with the building of a civil structure. This is a country that experienced 25 years of civil war. It's a country in which rule of law was completely destroyed. It's a country in which girls didn't go to school for almost a decade. And so it needs a lot of help; it's a country that doesn't have a proper road structure. If you talk to President Karzai, he will tell you that one of his biggest problems is he doesn't have roads, he doesn't have an electrical grid

So I would hope that in addition to our military mission to defeat the Taliban and to help stabilize the situation, that there would be a comparable civilian effort to make certain that those things that will matter most to the lives of Afghans will really be taken care of.

QUESTION: So one last question. You know that that in a few months there be will presidential election in France, that a woman is running. Would you someday like to run in politics?

SECRETARY RICE: I'm very glad that women are running, and women are winning in many places. I was at the inauguration of President Johnson-Sirleaf of Liberia and for President Bachelet in Chile. But I won't be one of them. I'm an academic at heart. And hopefully I, as Secretary of State, can still help the United States to achieve some very important milestones. You know, it's been a really extraordinary several years. We have been in really historic and challenging times and I'm very grateful to have been a part of this Administration in these historic and challenging times. But when we've done our part hopefully to bring about a more stable and more democratic Middle East -- I would love to see real progress on Palestinian-Israeli issues -- we have work to do in Asia, work to do in Latin America but when I've done that, I'll go home to California and teach students about this experience.

QUESTION: Thank you very much.



Released on November 29, 2006


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