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Interview With Colin Brazier of Sky TV

Secretary Condoleezza Rice
Lisbon, Portugal
July 19, 2007

QUESTION: Secretary of State, thank you very, very much indeed for joining us. I know you had a long flight and it's very good of you to fit it in, in your schedule today. Tony Blair's new job, first day on the new job, what's your advice to him?

SECRETARY RICE: Well, first of all, I'm really looking forward to working with Tony Blair and the Quartet. I think we really have a chance to push forward the possibility of a two-state solution. I know that Tony Blair is an experienced, capable, historic figure and he's going to bring an energy to the international commitment to a Palestinian state that is capable for its own people, that is engaged in rule of law, that is able to deliver these type of benefits and it's really going to be a very, very good thing for Palestinians, for Israelis, and for the international community.

QUESTION: You see you mentioned the two-state solution. Isn't the facts on the ground now that we've got a three-state solution potentially in the offing? We've got Israel. We've got Gaza run by Hamas now and, a Fatah-led West Bank -- three states in the offing.

SECRETARY RICE: Well, clearly, Hamas went after the legal political institutions, the security institutions of the Palestinian Authority and -- but we have to remember that the people of Gaza are going to be a part of the Palestinian state as a whole. And the Palestinian state as a whole is going to be built in the West Bank and in Gaza. But I -- it's going to be important, as the President said in his speech on Monday, to give to the Palestinian people a vision, a concrete one, of what this state can be.

There are so many Palestinians, moderate Palestinians, who just want to live in their own state, who want to live in peace, who want to raise their children well, both boys and girls, who want economic benefits that would come from that. And those are the Palestinians to whom President Abbas, who is, after all, the President of all Palestinians -- those are the people to whom he speaks and those are the people to whom the international community needs to help him speak.

QUESTION: What about the not-so-moderate Palestinians? What about those guys, those people in the Gaza Strip perhaps who are suffering humanitarian hardship right now? Do you foresee a time in the future perhaps when Tony Blair could negotiate with Hamas?

SECRETARY RICE: Well, Hamas has shown no evidence that it accepts the international norm. And we're not talking about an American norm or a British norm; we're talking about an international norm that if there is going to be peace, they're going to have to renounce violence. But if there is going to be peace, you have to honor the agreement on which that peace is going to be built, agreements that Palestinians agreed to more than a decade ago.

And so Hamas knows the road to international respectability. Hamas knows how to be a part of a constructive road to a Palestinian state. But we do have a constructive Palestinian partner in Mahmoud Abbas. We have also in Salam Fayyad a Prime Minister who is working very hard on not just security, so that we can have a two-state solution, but security for the Palestinian people because they deserve better than what happened to them in Gaza.

Now, as to the 1.4 million people in Gaza, we're not going to abandon them. The United States is giving humanitarian assistance through the UN. We've encouraged the Israelis to allow that humanitarian assistance in. It's very important that the government -- the people of Gaza know that they're not abandoned.

QUESTION: Okay. In a previous life, you were a Cold War historian. You speak Russian. What do you make of this current diplomatic row that's been brewing between the U.K. and Russia?

SECRETARY RICE: Well, of course the basis is that a terrible crime was committed on British soil. And Britain has to find the perpetrators and bring them to justice. And --

QUESTION: And Russia has to give up Andrei Lugovoy?

SECRETARY RICE: And Russia should -- should honor the extradition request and Russia should cooperate fully, because it is not in anybody's interest that you can have a crime committed of this kind and nothing be done about it. And so I would hope and we are encouraging that there should be full cooperation from Russia and indeed extradition.

QUESTION: How would you characterize the current state of Anglo-Russian relations, but also American-Russian relations as well? You know, I belong to a generation which grew up with nightmares about the vapor trains through the sky and four minutes to get under the stairs and a nuclear Armageddon and all that stuff.

SECRETARY RICE: Right, right.

QUESTION: Are we re-entering the Cold War?

SECRETARY RICE: Oh, no. Russia is not the Soviet Union. I knew the Soviet Union. I was first in the Soviet Union as a graduate student in 1979. This is not the Soviet Union. Russians live in greater freedom, probably even personal freedom than they ever have. We have wide areas of cooperation with Russia, on terrorism, on nuclear nonproliferation. I think we will find answers to the threats that we face. We're working very well on North Korea. I think we will work well together on Iran. And certainly we have put forward some proposals, as have the Russians, on missile defense cooperation. So it's a very different world than the Soviet Union. But there are also complexities. We've all been disappointed that there has not been more rapid institutionalization and progress of democracy in Russia. That the free press has really been pushed back from where it was only a few years ago. We all are concerned that Russia not use its energy resources somehow as a political tool but rather engage in an open international economy in which oil and gas can fuel economic growth for everyone. So yes, there's some very, very deep troubles. But this is not the Soviet Union.

QUESTION: Just given those troubles, what advice if any would you give to your counterpart at the British foreign office, David Miliband, the new Foreign Secretary? It's a tricky and complicated problem to deal with the Russians. What's your advice?

SECRETARY RICE: It is. Well, first of all, I had the opportunity to talk to David on a couple of occasions now and I really look forward to working with him. I think he's going to be a terrific Foreign Secretary.

QUESTION: And you're not worried he's part of a government that's increasingly anti-American?

SECRETARY RICE: Oh, no. Good grief, no. Britain and the United States have a deep and special relationship. We have so many things that we're achieving together. No, this is going to be a new era of cooperation with a new government in Britain. The foundation of the U.S. and British relations couldn't be stronger.

But advice on Russia? I think to remember that we need to work on those areas in which we can cooperate because Russia is a major power in international politics and you need Russian cooperation. We're here for -- in Portugal for a Quartet meeting. Russia is a factor in the Middle East and we need to pursue those areas of cooperation; where there are areas of difficulty, to be straightforward about them, not to try to hide them. Because if you try and simply paper them over, you won't deal effectively with them.

But most importantly to remember that I think there is nothing to be gained by the isolation of Russia and the strategy which began, really, with the collapse of the Soviet Union to bring Russia more and more into the international institutions that are founded on values like democracy and free markets. So I think it's really the way to deal with Russia in the long run.

QUESTION: Secretary Rice, thank you very much indeed.

SECRETARY RICE: Thank you.

2007/T13-1



Released on July 19, 2007

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