17 October 2007

2075) Condoleezza Rice : Interview With Jonathan Karl Of ABC

US Department of State, DC Secretary Condoleezza Rice, Oct 15 2007

QUESTION: You know, it was not that long ago that President Bush raised the possibility of having a Palestinian state by the end of his administration. Realistically, best case scenario, how much do you think can be accomplished?

SECRETARY RICE: Well, the President first raised the notion of having a Palestinian state for the first time in American policy, and we pursued that. We are in a period in which there is some hope that the two parties can make some progress, because they have been talking actively about the core issues.

I am here to help them see if they can move forward on a document that would state some of their intentions about those core issues and so I'm not one to judge finally where we will end up. But I do think we have a little momentum, and we are going to try to sustain it and that's really why I'm here.

QUESTION: But is it unrealistic to think that by the end of this administration, you could accomplish this goal?

SECRETARY RICE: It's very hard to predict these things. This is a big, historic change. This would be an enormous historic change.

There have been decades in trying to make peace between Israel and the Palestinians, decades in which the Palestinians have waited for their state and in which Israelis have waited for the security that is going to come from having a democratic neighbor. And so it's not useful to try to look out and say where will we be in 13 or 14 months.

But I do know that the parties are serious, that they are committed.

I believe that they are suddenly recognizing that they have a real opportunity here. And I see the regional states also recognizing that there is a real opportunity, and so we will push it as hard and fast as we can.

QUESTION: And what is your role personally in all this?

SECRETARY RICE: Well, my role is to help keep things moving. The parties do meet. They do so in a very serious and constructive manner. One of the things I've been impressed with is the chemistry between Prime Minister Olmert and President Abbas is clearly good. I believe they have developed a sense of trust. And in that sense, we have come a long way from a few months ago when I was here in February, where I think the trust was really lacking. You can see that that is developing.

But to the degree that I can help them to bridge differences, to the degree that I can help them to sustain this momentum, and to perhaps see where there are areas of agreement that they can't see themselves, that's what I would like to do.

QUESTION: Let me ask you about Blackwater. The Iraqis have made no secret that they would like Blackwater to leave Iraq, and there is now this proposal to give them six months and say absolutely no more use of Blackwater in Iraq. Is the State Department considering moving to a different security arrangement with another company?

SECRETARY RICE: Well, we are looking very closely at the situation.

Several weeks ago, I met with our team. I said that I wanted to have a full look, a 360-degree look at what our security contractors were doing and how we related to them in terms of authorities and law. I asked a very eminent senior group of people to go out, General Joulwan, a former four star general, Stapleton Roy, a long time ambassador to several places. And they have gone out now with another senior member of the team to give me a full report on this issue. And so I will await their findings.

We did make some interim steps on the basis of a report from Pat Kennedy, the acting under secretary for management, who said that it was important that we install cameras -- that we have diplomatic security personnel accompany the convoys when they go out. We have made some of those steps. I talked with Secretary Gates about the importance of having very close coordination between the Multinational Forces Command and security contractors and our convoys. So some things have already been done. I'm looking for a full report from General Joulwan and Stapleton Roy and then we will see where we go from there.

QUESTION: But if the Iraqi government, the sovereign Iraqi government says they don't want Blackwater operating in their country, would you still say it's okay for the State Department to use Blackwater?

SECRETARY RICE: Well, John, we are also working with the Iraqi government. And we have met with them, we have a commission with the Iraqi government. This is a very difficult and tragic set of circumstances, and it's clear that people were killed, innocent people were killed. And so, obviously, whenever that happens, you are going to take a full look at your operations. And we want to take a full look at how we operate with the Iraqis as well, because, obviously, a lot of this was established before there was an Iraqi government. Some of the rules were established before there was an Iraqi government.

But, we and the Iraqis both understand, and the Iraqis have said to me that they do want our diplomats to be able to continue to do the things that they are doing. They are out helping train ministries, they are out working in provincial reconstruction teams. They are out helping the Iraqis to develop the capabilities to govern, and that's fully understood by the Iraqis. We can't do it without protection in what is essentially in many places still a wartime environment. And so we will find a way through this. But I'm waiting now for the recommendations of several different efforts that we have underway.

QUESTION: That protection doesn't have to be Blackwater?

SECRETARY RICE: Well, we will see what the outcome is here. I will say that we have been protected well by the people who have provided that protection, including Blackwater. They have lost a lot of people in trying to protect us. But obviously something happened here. It has uncovered and exposed a number of questions about not just the way that the operations go on but about the authorities, and I'm seeking to fully probe, understand and then act on those answers that we will receive from the very eminent people who are helping us to investigate.

QUESTION: Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi says that she is going forward with the resolution, bringing to the House floor on the Armenian genocide. Is this irresponsible? And have you personally spoken to her about it?

SECRETARY RICE: Well, I personally have spoken to a number of people including to the Speaker, because we recognize the terrible tragedy that happened in 1915. The President has spoken out about mass killings. We have encouraged and worked with the Turks to try to get them to overcome these historical -- these terrible historical circumstances and to work directly with the Armenians.

We also know that here in 2007, we count on a very good relationship with our democratic Turkish ally. I think it is important to note, this is not the Ottoman Empire; this is a democratic Turkish ally that is bridging differences between Islam and the rest of the world, a member of NATO, a country that is seeking accession to the European Union, that is working actively on its own human rights record, and that is a crucial ally in the war on terror and in what our forces need in Iraq and Afghanistan.

And eight former Secretaries of State, many former Secretaries of Defense, many, many political -- people who understand foreign policy have talked about how important it is to not do something that undermines our relationship with Turkey. It is a very emotional issue for everybody. It's an emotional issue for the Turks.

I have spoken to my Turkish counterpart as well as to President Gul and Prime Minister Erdogan. I urged them to understand that this is not the people of the United States that are somehow in their mind condemning this current Turkish government. But it's a very difficult sell. And I would hope that the members of Congress can look hard at what they're doing and those who wish to express their disdain for what happened in 1915, something that we all share, will find another way to do it rather than this particular resolution which, as we have said, and as we are saying, is going to have very negative effects on an extremely important relationship with a democratic ally that is bridging differences between Islam and the rest of the world.

QUESTION: Last question, I don't know if you have seen, there has been a big dust up at Stanford over the appointment of Donald Rumsfeld to be a distinguished visiting fellow at the Hoover Institution. You have had faculty members come out and say this implies the university's endorsement, that it should be rescinded, they don't want him on campus, many faculty members and a lot of students. What do you make of this controversy?

SECRETARY RICE: Well, first of all, I have very little time to follow it, as you might imagine. But I will say this. Universities ought to be places where all views are welcome. And Stanford has always been a place that has been able to tolerate many different views.

I know Don Rumsfeld. He is going to be a challenging presence, because he will ask tough questions, and I hope people will ask tough questions of him. But that's the way that these things should go, that's what universities ought to be about, they ought to be about open exchange of ideas.

QUESTION: All right, Madame Secretary, thank you very much.



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