Rice Interview With Steve Centanni Of Fox News
Secretary Condoleezza Rice
November 4, 2007
Interview With Steve Centanni of Fox News
QUESTION: Madame Secretary, thanks for joining us.
SECRETARY RICE: Good to be with you.
QUESTION: I have to start with the situation in Pakistan, of course. It's quite serious with opposition leaders being rounded up, the Supreme Court justice being kicked out, troops in the street. You say you don't support any extra-constitutional measures in Pakistan like the one Musharraf has now taken. Do we still support President Musharraf?
SECRETARY RICE: Well, clearly, we don't support the actions he has taken.
SECRETARY RICE: And we have been very clear about that and our admonition to President Musharraf at this point is to return Pakistan to a constitutional path as quickly as possible, hold the free and fair elections on time, because this current state of affairs is not good for Pakistan.
QUESTION: But you can't say whether we still support Musharraf at this point?
SECRETARY RICE: Well, I don't want to personalize this. This is about an action that has been taken. And the action is not supportable. The United States has long argued for the democratic path for Pakistan. In fact, Pakistan was quite far down that path and it's going to be very important to get back to it very, very quickly.
QUESTION: Aside from making strong statements like you have done, what else can the U.S. do short of withholding funds? And are we talking about that?
SECRETARY RICE: Well, we'll obviously review the situation and we'll review -- we'll have to review our assistance at this point. I would underscore that the President has an obligation to protect the American people. There are counterterrorism measures that we are engaged in, in and around Pakistan. There is assistance that is directed at the counterterrorism mission. And so obviously, we will want to make certain that anything that we do allows the United States to continue to protect itself and to protect our people.
QUESTION: You mean that the money is well-directed?
SECRETARY RICE: Well, there are lots of programs and we'll just have to review. I don't want to speculate on what might happen here. The best thing, though, is that if this can be very short-lived so that they can return to the constitutional path very quickly, so that they can affirm that elections are going to be taken not just because, Steve, of what the United States might do or international opinion, but the Pakistani people need the certainty that they are going to be returning to a democratic path.
QUESTION: You've said this is a setback for Pakistan. Clearly, it is. Is it also a setback for the U.S. in our relations with Pakistan?
SECRETARY RICE: Well, it's certainly a setback for what we had hoped would be in Pakistan, which is a continuous and smooth movement to democracy, to civilian rule. Another point is that President Musharraf has said that he would take off his uniform. He should take off his uniform.
QUESTION: Now you've personally talked to him just last Tuesday or Wednesday and I assumed, tried to convince him not to do this because it was sort of in the wind at that time. He didn't take your advice. Do you feel betrayed?
SECRETARY RICE: One can't have emotions of that sort. I was giving him our very best assessment of the situation and of American policy. Without getting into detail, I was very clear that the United States believed that Pakistan, in large part under his leadership, had made great strides on the freedom of the press, on development of civil society, and that these needed to be protected. And I just -- I'm very sorry, it's regrettable, and frankly, we are disappointed.
QUESTION: We only have a few minutes left.
SECRETARY RICE: Okay.
QUESTION: So the Middle East, why are you here? What really has changed since the last time we sat here together back in March or April?
SECRETARY RICE: Well, I'm going to continue to work with the parties, with Prime Minister Olmert, with President Abbas toward the Annapolis meeting, which we expect to hold before the end of the year. The point here is to have them come forward to the international community and say, "Our bilateral discussions are showing that there is a basis for the establishment of a Palestinian state," and to have the international community support that, to have the international community support their willingness to really undertake now their phase one roadmap obligations, which includes security and --
SECRETARY RICE: -- a number of other issues. That's really -- my purpose here is to help them to vector together, to bridge any gaps that they might have in how they want to state those intentions to the international community.
QUESTION: Would the meeting in Annapolis be the beginning of negotiations or just a point where everybody says, "Okay, now we agree to sometime negotiate?"
SECRETARY RICE: Well, clearly, the parties need to come to the international community and state what they think about how and when they should move forward. I think that they are beginning to look even more urgently at the day after. I think they're beginning to recognize that this is a special window of opportunity in which they need to make real progress toward the establishment of a Palestinian state. But they've got to make that determination and I'm here to try to help them come together.
QUESTION: You launched a study, being the scholar that you are, of the historical record of peace talks. You talked to Jimmy Carter, you talked to Madeleine Albright and others, including Bill Clinton. What important -- what's the most important thing you took away from that?
SECRETARY RICE: Well, first of all, you have to have talks that are well-prepared. These -- everyone has -- that has tried to resolve this issue has done so in good faith and with tremendous energy. I think the last extraordinary efforts of the Clinton Administration really, still to this day, are admired. The question is, why haven't we quite been able to get there, and despite the fact that I think both parties really do want to end their conflict.
And a couple of things come to mind. You do have to prepare them. You have to recognize that there's some overcoming of suspicion, maybe even a little bit of conspiracy theory sometimes between the parties. And you have to overcome that by having them engage; not maybe even engage on specific issues, but engage about what their future is. And we've been encouraging, really for several months now, them to talk about their political horizon. That political horizon, which was a fairly vague term, has come more and more to now talking and dialoguing about core issues and beginning now to say, what would it take to establish a Palestinian state.
The other point is that they have to have support alongside them, support from the international community, but particularly support from the key Arab states. We've tried to bring the key Arab states in on the ground floor this time, to spend time with Egypt and with Saudi Arabia and with Jordan and with other states so that when the tough decisions have to be made, when the tough choices have to be made, there will be ample support for the parties in taking those choices.
QUESTION: I'm afraid we're out of time. Thanks for talking to us today.
SECRETARY RICE: Pleasure to be with you.