Interview With Charlie RoseJohn D. Negroponte, Deputy Secretary of State
April 25, 2008
MR. ROSE: Deputy Secretary Negroponte is here. He is the number two man at the United States State Department. He has over four decades of experience as a diplomat. He served as U.S. ambassador to Honduras, Mexico, the Philippines, the United Nations and Iraq. In 2005 he became the nation’s first Director of National Intelligence before returning to the State Department last year. I am pleased to have him here at our table in Washington once again. Welcome.
DEPUTY SECRETARY NEGROPONTE: Thank you very much. Glad to be here.
MR. ROSE: Tell me – I would love this conversation about how you see the world through eyes as this administration is in the last few months of its distance. And we know not who the new president is or what problems the new president will face. It looks like clearly Iraq will still be on the burner. You look at what Petraeus has said in his testimony before Congress. What – what worries you? Where is the United States positioned today? What worries you? What scares you? What do you need to do? And where do you think you’ve succeeded?
DEPUTY SECRETARY NEGROPONTE: Right. Well maybe – maybe we could take the second part of that question.
MR. ROSE: Oh go right ahead, wherever you –
DEPUTY SECRETARY NEGROPONTE: And I think maybe just you were asking me how I see the world?
MR. ROSE: Right.
DEPUTY SECRETARY NEGROPONTE: And I see it quite hopefully and quite optimistically. For a whole variety of reasons, I think world economies are doing better. The lives of people are -- generally around the world are improving. I think if you look at the five continents, our position, our standing, our relationships have by and large improved in recent years, certainly reaching out to Asia, good relationship with the People’s Republic of China, our relations with Japan and the Southeast Asian countries are on a strong footing, reaching out to the Indian subcontinents, developing a strategic relationship with India. I think that would – a noteworthy development. In Europe, Western Europe in particular, the strengthening of NATO, the addition of members at the recent Bucharest Conference, the expansion of the role of NATO, the extension of its activities into areas like Afghanistan. I think that’s been a noteworthy development. Africa, really good news story, one of the heartening aspects of my work has been as deputy secretary has been the opportunity to visit the continent, eight different countries of Africa. We have fantastic programs there: the Millennium Challenge Account, the PEPFAR, the program that deal with HIV/AIDS, very welcome there. If you want to feel good about the United States and its standing in the world, visit Africa.
MR. ROSE: Some say this may be the president's most important accomplishment in foreign policy. Africa, in terms of things that might have made a difference. But it's more about global health and HIV/AIDS, and paying attention to malaria, and all these issues than it is about some bilateral relationship, except Libya is still part of Africa as we might --
DEPUTY SECRETARY NEGROPONTE: But it's a huge continent. It's got 52 different countries. West Africa is a real success story. Look at Sierra Leone. When I took my job as ambassador to the United Nations, Sierra Leone was a basket case. Today, the peacekeepers are out of there, stability has been restored. They've had elections. Liberia, look at Liberia.
MR. ROSE: How about Congo, though?
DEPUTY SECRETARY NEGROPONTE: The world continues, life goes on. There continue to be problems. I hadn't finished my little tour --
MR. ROSE: No, continue then.
DEPUTY SECRETARY NEGROPONTE: Latin America, if I could, for a moment, I'd say some successes, some preoccupations, but certainly in the success column I would put the negotiation of these free trade agreements with Colombia, Peru, Panama --
MR. ROSE: The negotiation.
DEPUTY SECRETARY NEGROPONTE: The negotiations, and, of course, those are pending before the Congress, and we're very committed toward achieving them. Extension or expansion of our relations with the country of Brazil. I think that has been a landmark achievement in our relations in this hemisphere, as well as generally good relations around the region with a notable exception, of course, the country of Venezuela, which we do not believe is playing a constructive role in the hemisphere and we work with other like minded countries to try and contain the effects of their attempts to expand their so called Bolivarian Revolution into the region. But to just come back for one second, the real challenge. I would say, and I omitted the Middle East at the beginning of my tour. I think our real challenge remains in the Middle East. It remains with the question of Iraq, which has certainly improved in recent months, but where we still have our work cut out for us. And, of course, the Middle East peace process, which is actively being worked by the administration and would expect you'll see us working it very hard until the final days of the administration. So I see the world hopefully, but obviously, there are many challenges and issues that remain to be dealt with.
MR. ROSE: Former President Carter is trying to help you out in the Middle East.
DEPUTY SECRETARY NEGROPONTE: We've already talked about that question. I think Ms. Rice has expressed our views on that subject.
MR. ROSE: Which were?
DEPUTY SECRETARY NEGROPONTE: Well, which were we had counseled him against doing this, and we didn't think it was a good idea. In any event, what's done is done.
MR. ROSE: But why is it a bad idea? I know George Shultz said last night on the program, it was terrible for him to go there, he shouldn't do it, former presidents shouldn't go representing -- he says I didn't represent the United States. I went there as a private citizen. It was a global reputation, and I took and opportunity to talk and see if there was any room for mobility, they're willing to talk to me. What's the harm? What's the harm?
DEPUTY SECRETARY NEGROPONTE: I think -- I'd like to -- I prefer to look at it in the following way, which is that the locus of the negotiations and the efforts are on the one hand between the Palestinian Authority and the Israeli government, and there are very active discussions going on in that area. They meet frequently, almost several times a week. So that's one important area of activity. Another is, of course, our efforts to hold the parties, that is to say, Israeli and the Palestinians feet to the fire with respect to the road map implementing the road map, and we have intensified our efforts in that area such as, for example, bolstering the Palestinian security forces. And then we are working with the Arab countries, the countries in the region, to try to ensure their support for the process.
MR. ROSE: (Inaudible)
DEPUTY SECRETARY NEGROPONTE: So that's a three pronged approach. I think it was --
MR. ROSE: What's the harm, though? Here is a guy -- maybe he gets Hamas to take a new --
DEPUTY SECRETARY NEGROPONTE: Well, there is nothing in the record to say that Hamas is the avenue to achieving a peaceful outcome here. I think the -- perhaps the better course is for Israel and the Palestinian Authority to pursue some kind of an accord, and then once it is ripe for ratification, then it will, no doubt, have to be put to the Palestinian people for some kind of a referendum. And then at that point, assuming that the Palestinian people favor the agreement that has been achieved, they will presumably express that view in some kind of a vote. We think that's the better way to go, because I think if you leave it to Hamas, and you give them the sense that they've got some kind of a veto on the process, I think that the -- the negotiation will be endless.
MR. ROSE: But what if you leave it to where they have no part of the conversation? Even though they won elections in the Gaza.
DEPUTY SECRETARY NEGROPONTE: Well their behavior has not been particularly constructive. They resort to violence. They've carried out terroristic acts. They have been shooting missiles from the Gaza into Israeli territory. We just don't think that they're the interlocutor with whom we should be --
MR. ROSE: Yeah, but (inaudible) used to say to me and everybody else, you talk to and you negotiate with your enemies, not your friends. If they shoot at you, it makes them an enemy --
DEPUTY SECRETARY NEGROPONTE: Well if the governor of Israel would choose to do that, for some reason, or if the Palestinian Authority, if Abu Mazen would choose to do that, I think we would respect that decision. But I don't think it's for us to decide.
MR. ROSE: I want to -- let me go back over all the things you just said, and sort of say what question would be risen -- would be raised about all of them. NATO expansion. The Russians aren't thrilled by that. Probably may, in some way, threaten a nuclear negotiations in putting antimissile architecture close to them and Europe, Latin America, you know. It's not just Venezuela. In other places, in Bolivia and other places, the left seems to be winning more elections than the center. If you look at China, China seems to be out there and with respect to Tibet and other areas, not very responsive to us or to anyone else. So if you look to Iran, I'm not sure what's changed about Iran. They seem to be, according to General Petraeus, more aggressive. So there seems to be a different side to most of these examples which look good.
DEPUTY SECRETARY NEGROPONTE: There usually is a different side, and testimony to the complexity of the world in which we live. But if I can take these sort of backwards, I mean you mentioned --
MR. ROSE: Russia. Take Russia, for example.
DEPUTY SECRETARY NEGROPONTE: You mentioned China, for example.
MR. ROSE: Okay.
DEPUTY SECRETARY NEGROPONTE: This is a vitally important relationship to the United States. This is a country whose economy is booming, 1.3 billion people. Huge financial reserves, major player, obviously, not only in the region, but starting I think, to play a role on the world scene and a country which we will have to reckon for the foreseeable future through this century and playing a very helpful and constructive role. If I can give one specific example, in the Six-Party Talks to denuclearize the Korean Peninsula --
MR. ROSE: Probably could not have done --
DEPUTY SECRETARY NEGROPONTE: Probably could not have been done without them, and I would say that I would put, in the good news story column. Now, are there issues with China? Well, yes. There is their military build-up, particularly the lack of transparency about their intentions. There is the continued issue of the Taiwan Strait, and of course, there is the way they treat their own people, including the people of Tibet, which is a very current issue in our relationship with China.
MR. ROSE: So what are we doing to try to get them to take a different approach to Tibet?
DEPUTY SECRETARY NEGROPONTE: Well first of all, what are you we trying to do to get them to take a different approach? Generally, let me see, we want them -- my predecessor, kind of used the phrase we want them to be responsible stakeholders. We don't want them just to be free riders in the international system. They just export whatever they want, collect the money, and then do as they please.
MR. ROSE: Do you know what the Chinese did when they heard that -- when they heard Bob say that? They said what does he mean by stakeholder?
DEPUTY SECRETARY NEGROPONTE: Correct. And they puzzled over the term for quite a while, but now they use it themselves.
MR. ROSE: Right. And that's an appropriate way for them to consider their role in the world. You're a stakeholder --
DEPUTY SECRETARY NEGROPONTE: Exactly.
MR. ROSE: -- and you're part of the World Trade Organization and other organizations, and so they act like an adult.
DEPUTY SECRETARY NEGROPONTE: So that's an evolutionary process, if you will, of China kind of coming out of its shell, so to speak, and engaging more. First on an issue like the Korean peninsula, then perhaps, with respect to Iran where we've -- we have our differences, but we also have our points of view --
MR. ROSE: Do they help us in the Security Council at all?
DEPUTY SECRETARY NEGROPONTE: Well, yes, they have. After all, they have, in the end, joined. It's always been a little bit of a tug of war, if you will, but in the end they have gone along with these unanimous Security Council resolutions that condemn Iran for its enrichment activities. Darfur, again a mixed picture Sudan, no question. Because they have more economic relations with Sudan than we're comfortable with. And we talk to them quite a bit about that. On the other hand --
MR. ROSE: Wait, stop. That's an interesting one, because you know what's going on. You talk to them quite a bit. Tell me what the conversation is about. What is the dialogue like with China when you raise questions about Darfur and their influence there, and their energy ties there, and their seeming agnostic view about internal politics there.
DEPUTY SECRETARY NEGROPONTE: Right. And what they -- and we talk about our view, we explain it. I think their -- they have been rather reluctant to be interventionists, and they want to maintain the economic relationships they have. On the other hand, I think we've brought them around to the view, or we've reached a common view that security needs to be reestablished in the Sudan, because the security is the sine qua non. It's the one condition you've got to achieve before you're able to accomplish anything else, and there, not only have they gone along with us in advocacy and approval of an expanded peace keeping effort there, but they have sent, which is unusual for China, a peace keeping -- an engineer unit there, themselves, some 300 people that are involved in helping build encampments and facilities --
MR. ROSE: So when people protest about Darfur and the Chinese and want the world to boycott the Olympics, you say while they have not done everything that we want them to do, they have gotten better about Darfur?
DEPUTY SECRETARY NEGROPONTE: I would say that. And cite the example I just mentioned about them sending engineers there. And I would also say that they have been quite good about conveying our point of view to their Sudanese interlocutors with whom they, I would say, probably have a better relationship than we do.
MR. ROSE: Characterize for me how you see what's happening on the ground in Darfur. Is it genocide? Is it getting less. Is it getting better? Not the politics, not whether China’s trying to do something, but what is actually happening on the ground?
DEPUTY SECRETARY NEGROPONTE: There’s some aspects of the situation in Darfur that, compared to the crisis levels of three or four years ago, may have improved somewhat, and particularly nutrition levels and life expectancy in some of the camps. But I would say that, that is principally due to the vast, the massive humanitarian assistance that has been given, mostly, I’m proud and pleased to say, by the United States of America. We have been the largest single donor of humanitarian assistance to the Darfur situation. But the number of displaced people continues to grow. It’s somewhere around 300,000 people at the moment. And there is still widespread insecurity in the camps. And people are victimized by either some of these militia groups or by Sudanese government officials. So it continues to be a very grave situation. And this simply highlights the urgency of getting the full number of peacekeepers into Sudan. And there the government has been dragging its feet. There’s supposed to be 26,000 peacekeepers in the country. And I think they’ve only got 8- or 9,000 at this time.
MR. ROSE: Where -- what are the Chinese doing to get the government to allow more?
DEPUTY SECRETARY NEGROPONTE: Well they certainly, as I said, they’re helping build the facilities for the incoming forces. And we are now working much -- we’re -- very energetically with the Security Council, with Ban Ki-Moon, and I’m hopeful that there’s going to be some progress on this score. There has been, but it’s been -- it’s just been painfully slow. It’s been unacceptably slow. But we’re keeping the pressure on.
MR. ROSE: What’s the leverage? I mean, you know, you talk to a nation like China and you say, we recognize that you are clear a rising power. We look at your economy, look at the number of population, look at the changes in your country, look at how many people have risen out of poverty. We all recognize how many problems -- the kind of problems you have as we recognize how we do. But where does push come to shove on subjects like this? Or is it just talk? You just try to help them see the way things are?
DEPUTY SECRETARY NEGROPONTE: Well I don’t think there’s any way that we can sort of push some magic button. There’s no silver bullet. I do think, Charlie, it’s not just talk. I think its real meaningful dialogue.
MR. ROSE: No. And I’m not minimizing that.
DEPUTY SECRETARY NEGROPONTE: No, no, no, I understand.
MR. ROSE: -- trying to understand.
DEPUTY SECRETARY NEGROPONTE: No, I understand what you’re saying. But I think we have to try to move into each other’s mental space here.
MR. ROSE: Right.
DEPUTY SECRETARY NEGROPONTE: And understand, try to understand where each of us are coming from. And over time, I believe that can do good.
MR. ROSE: And for those governments around the world who want to boycott the opening day ceremonies of the Olympics, you say?
DEPUTY SECRETARY NEGROPONTE: That I believe, first of all, we don’t want to politicize the Olympics in that way. And, secondly, I think with respect to China, I think it could well be counterproductive, and wouldn’t advance the very objectives that we’re concerned about. For example, the issue of Tibet. We think it’s really important that the Chinese open some kind of dialogue with Tibet. And we don’t -- but we don’t --
MR. ROSE: With the Dalai Lama?
DEPUTY SECRETARY NEGROPONTE: Well the Dalai Lama or his representatives. Ultimately, I think it would be highly desirable if they met with the Dalai Lama.
MR. ROSE: And they don’t do it out of some sense of fear or worrying about these -- instability or what?
DEPUTY SECRETARY NEGROPONTE: Well, you know, this is a -- a long story. It’s an issue that’s gone on for -- for a long time. I think they’ve had as a Han, a government that is -- and a country that is predominantly Han Chinese, they have had difficulty, and particularly having come from an -- coming from an authoritarian political system, they’ve had difficulty recognizing the rights, the religious and cultural rights of people such as the Tibetans. There’s been dialogue over the years about what would -- might constitute meaningful autonomy. But these are things that are going to have to be worked out between the Chinese government and the people who live in Tibet, and they’re going to have to work this out on a basis that’s respectful of the human rights of the people in Tibet.
MR. ROSE: Were they helpful on Burma?
DEPUTY SECRETARY NEGROPONTE: To a limited extent.
MR. ROSE: A subject of great interest to the First Lady, as you know.
DEPUTY SECRETARY NEGROPONTE: Exactly. And they certainly understand our view. I think they could help us do more. But they certainly were helpful in insuring access by the special representative of the United Nations to Burma. There were times when the Burmese government were dragging their feet as far as letting the special envoy of the U.N. Secretary General into the country. But there is an area where I think they could do more.
MR. ROSE: Okay. You mentioned food, and there is a growing concern about food prices and food scarcity. Is that on your agenda? Is that on your --
DEPUTY SECRETARY NEGROPONTE: It is, in a variety of ways. Perhaps the most immediate is getting emergency food supplies to places where food is needed in the world. Because of the rise in food prices and commodity prices generally, our aid dollar, our Public Law 480 which gives away surplus food or grains from the United States government stocks, is the -- the dollar doesn't go as far as it used to. So that's a real concern.
MR. ROSE: Yeah. Yeah.
DEPUTY SECRETARY NEGROPONTE: In more ways than one. In more ways than one.
MR. ROSE: Exactly
DEPUTY SECRETARY NEGROPONTE: So that's an issue. Another is productivity, agriculture productivity, which needs to have been increased around the world.
MR. ROSE: They're better at agricultural productivity than American, am I right?
DEPUTY SECRETARY NEGROPONTE: Absolutely. But even we -- I mean nobody can argue with Mother Nature. Environmental factors -- we've done some studies of what has caused this real spike in food prices. And the leading cause, the leading cause is judged to be environmental ones. Drought, there have been severe droughts in certain key agricultural producing countries in the world -- Australia, for example. So that's an issue.
MR. ROSE: Is this related to global warming?
DEPUTY SECRETARY NEGROPONTE: That, I wouldn't be able to tell -- I wouldn't know, myself. I mean I think it's sometimes easy to attribute all manner of ills to global warming, but I would be very reluctant to do that.
MR. ROSE: But is that on your, you know, on your agenda as well, the environmental question around the world, because it comes up with governments, and every time I see there is a gathering of heads of state that seem to get around to talking about the environment, whether it's even G8.
DEPUTY SECRETARY NEGROPONTE: They do. And President Bush gave a really important speech in the Rose Garden the other day.
MR. ROSE: Right. Suggesting that he's listening to the people and their concerns.
DEPUTY SECRETARY NEGROPONTE: He certainly is. And knowing the President as I do, I can tell you, he's very concerned about it, and understands environmental and energy security issues, extremely well. And his main point, in addition to being willing to try and establish long term goal for carbon -- for the reduction of carbon emissions, his main point is that if the next round of the Kyoto protocol, the post 2012, the currently Kyoto Convention --
MR. ROSE: Right.
DEPUTY SECRETARY NEGROPONTE: -- expires in 2012. And we've got to come up -- the international community has got to come up with a new plan. And if we give a pass, again, to China and India, these major rapidly growing economies -- if we don't get them on, whatever measures we take are going to be totally canceled and overshadowed.
MR. ROSE: But our commitment to it should not be dependent on their commitment, should it? I mean we should be a leader in stepping forward on a new Kyoto-type agreement?
DEPUTY SECRETARY NEGROPONTE: Well, certainly.
MR. ROSE: Not saying if they don't do it, we're not going to do it, if they don't have signatories, we're not going to be signatories --
DEPUTY SECRETARY NEGROPONTE: Well, I think we will probably, and if you look at legislation that is in our system, and if you look at what the political candidates are saying, I think you can count on us coming up with certain limitations in the months and years ahead. I don't think there is any doubt about that. The question is whether we also make them internationally legally binding, and I think to take that second step, I think we would insist that other countries, including these major emitting nations like China and India, do so as well. Because the studies will show you that if we don't, their increase in carbon emissions by the year 2050 is going to totally overshadow the savings or the reductions that have been carried out by Western Europe and current industrialized economics. It's a big problem.
MR. ROSE: And their attitude is two-fold. One, you have been doing this for much longer, you have been polluting much longer than we have. And secondly, they say the key to all the problems we have in terms of maintaining this growth rate that we're on, so somebody has got to convince them that they can have the growth rate as well as --
DEPUTY SECRETARY NEGROPONTE: And that comes to point number three which is technology is going to be a major part of the answer, clean coal technology and others. And a lot of work is being done on that. It probably needs to be accelerated. And some of these countries have got to reduce the trade barriers to the import of some of these environmental technologies.
MR. ROSE: Interesting you mentioned trade. Again, I mean a lot of people think that trade is in trouble in Congress, because Democrats in Congress look at -- they're against NAFTA, which is not us, but they're against all kinds of trade agreements, because they think the domestic, political demands make it imperative they be against it. Am I right?
DEPUTY SECRETARY NEGROPONTE: I'm glad you mentioned trade, because Monday, this past Monday and Tuesday, President Bush met with President Calderon in Mexico and Prime Minister Harper of Canada, and they were in New Orleans, and they spoke out very loudly and firmly in favor of free trade. And they extolled the benefits that NAFTA has produced.
MR. ROSE: But the problem is not with them. The problem is with the Democratic Congress.
DEPUTY SECRETARY NEGROPONTE: Right, but I mean these leaders have to exercise their leadership on this issue, and the main point they made is that trade, between our three countries, is approaching the trillion dollar mark, and the levels have tripled since 1994. And the rates of growth and everything else, particularly in the export sectors, the trade sectors of each of our economies has grown more dynamically than other parts of our respective economy. So trade is a good thing. We see it that way. We certainly hope that the Colombia Free Trade Agreement gets passed, ratified by the Congress. And we think that that would be a very positive thing. And if it were defeated, for some reason, or set aside, we think that would be a victory for that Bolivarian Revolution that I was talking about.
MR. ROSE: Well, speaking about -- okay. Let's go to that, at a Bolivarian which is -- what is our policy to Hugo Chavez in Venezuela?
DEPUTY SECRETARY NEGROPONTE: I think that what we're trying to do --
MR. ROSE: Are we trying to overthrow him?
DEPUTY SECRETARY NEGROPONTE: No. No. I think we think of this as an internal Venezuelan issue. The Venezuelan people are going to have to deal with it. Our sense is that there is increasing unhappiness with Mr. Chavez and his own people, particularly his extravagant foreign policy, and his promising of millions, and even sometimes billions of dollars to other countries, when there are people suffering from poverty and difficult conditions inside of Venezuela itself. So I think that's a serious problem. But meanwhile, he is up to quite a bit of mischief. We know that.
MR. ROSE: But I mean you've got Morales in Bolivia left, you've got a new government in Argentina. You've just had -- got the same government in Brazil. You just had another election in Latin America.
DEPUTY SECRETARY NEGROPONTE: Well, I think it's better if the United States doesn't rise to the bait with respect to Mr. Chavez. I think that -- I don't think we should answer every one of his statements, and get into kind of a tit for tat approach to the relationship. I think it’s better for us to work with the other countries, work on trade, work on the prompt motion of democracy and encouragement of democracy. We can't be against left of center governments if they were properly elected by their own people.
MR. ROSE: Do you believe that there is a trend for left of center governments in Latin America. Not because of Chavez, but because of --
DEPUTY SECRETARY NEGROPONTE: I think if you look at the ledger at any given time, it swings back and forth. Look at Mexico, Mr. Calderon.
MR. ROSE: Right.
DEPUTY SECRETARY NEGROPONTE: Beat his left --
MR. ROSE: The mayor of Mexico City.
DEPUTY SECRETARY NEGROPONTE: Exactly. Ditto in Peru. So I think it really depends where on the map of Latin America you're looking. But we've got to work with these countries. We have important programs down there. We've got the Millennium Challenge. We have a Millennium Challenge Account program, a substantial one, several hundreds of millions of dollars in Nicaragua. I never thought I --
MR. ROSE: As part of the United Nations or --
DEPUTY SECRETARY NEGROPONTE: No. No. This is our Millennium Challenge Corporation, which is administers a number of significant aid programs around the world. And I didn't think I would be sitting with you here 25 years after being ambassador to Honduras talking about major assistance program we have in Nicaragua, with Daniel Ortega in charge.
MR. ROSE: Daniel Ortega’s in charge.
DEPUTY SECRETARY NEGROPONTE: Right.
MR. ROSE: So what's that relationship with him?
DEPUTY SECRETARY NEGROPONTE: Well, it's correct, I would say. And as I mentioned, we had this significant assistance program. Nicaragua is part of the Central American free trade area, so I think we've got to work the positive side of the agenda as best we can and hope that over time, things evolve in the right direction in terms of relations with the United States. I don't think any of these countries in Latin America feel that they can really do without a relationship with the United States. I think it's too costly for them.
MR. ROSE: Is that true around the world?
DEPUTY SECRETARY NEGROPONTE: Well, I'd say -- put it this way. Most countries I go to or I've served in, the United States is usually one of the most important, if not the most important bilateral relationship that the host country has.
MR. ROSE: Has it changed in terms of that dynamic of that?
DEPUTY SECRETARY NEGROPONTE: I'm surprised at how little that seems to have changed. People can talk about whether our prestige has gone up or down, or what our standing is, but my sense, based both on my travels around the world, my ambassadorships I've had, and also my experience at the United Nations, when I was representing us at the Security Council, is that people continue to give a great deal of weight to what the United States says and thinks.
MR. ROSE: There are a lot of people, on the other hand, who do say that the first thing the new president ought to do regardless who he is, in a sense is speak of the issue of America's -- of how we are respected around the world, that because Abu Ghraib, and other kinds of issues like that, that have occurred during the Iraqi war, you know, that America is seen differently. That there is questioning of whether we stand for the same things, and that the war has hurt us. Now, you seem to be saying -- in my diplomatic relationships, it's not true. The fallout from the war hasn't hurt us at all in our relationships, bilateral relationships with any country I know? Is that what you're saying?
DEPUTY SECRETARY NEGROPONTE: No, I think you'd have to go to specific cases to analyze the narrower question, if you will, of whether the Iraq war has helped or hurt us --- in particular countries. But as a general proposition, I would say to you that we continue to be a highly respected country whose views, I think other countries feel, have to be taken into account when they address various types of international issues. After all, not only are we a permanent member -- one of the permanent five members of the Security Council, but we also are the world's largest economy. We have the world's largest military establishment, and of course, for many, not all, but for many, many countries we're the largest single market that they have for their exported products.
MR. ROSE: That's changing in lots of different ways.
DEPUTY SECRETARY NEGROPONTE: Well, it changes, but it changes -- but in some aspects it remains the same.
MR. ROSE: Before I leave Latin America, there is also Cuba.
DEPUTY SECRETARY NEGROPONTE: Yes, sir.
MR. ROSE: Do we expect different things from Raul Castro?
DEPUTY SECRETARY NEGROPONTE: Well I certainly have not seen any sign of encouragement yet, and I think that the challenge with respect to Cuba is how to keep the hope for freedom alive, and the prisoners have not been released. Probably the most important single thing that the regime could do would be to -- if it wanted to show some interest in a political opening, in that country, would be to release the political prisoners, because they, after all, are part of --
MR. ROSE: You mean the Cuban political prisoners they're holding.
DEPUTY SECRETARY NEGROPONTE: Exactly. The Cuban political prisoners –
MR. ROSE: You know what people would say --
DEPUTY SECRETARY NEGROPONTE: -- begin -- let me just make one step --
MR. ROSE: Okay.
DEPUTY SECRETARY NEGROPONTE: -- towards taking a step towards a more pluralistic society.
MR. ROSE: Is that because of how many former Cubans are in Miami? Because there are political prisoners held by a thousand governments we deal with. Egypt, for example. Russia. They have political prisoners, do they not?
DEPUTY SECRETARY NEGROPONTE: Yes, and –
MR. ROSE: China, especially China.
DEPUTY SECRETARY NEGROPONTE: And we pressure them.
MR. ROSE: But it's no different. Why don't we hold them up and say release political prisoners. George Shultz, on this program, former Secretary of State, who you admire --
DEPUTY SECRETARY NEGROPONTE: Indeed.
MR. ROSE: You know what his policy is. You know what he thinks about the Cuban embargo policy? He thinks it's a terrible idea. Do you? What's the argument for the Cuban embargo today, so that they'll release political prisoners?
DEPUTY SECRETARY NEGROPONTE: No. The argument is that it's a repressive regime. And look, this is a policy. Charlie, this is a policy that has existed for as long as I have been --
MR. ROSE: I know. But I can't believe --
DEPUTY SECRETARY NEGROPONTE: -- a career diplomat.
MR. ROSE: I know, but I can't believe you believe in the policy. I really can't.
DEPUTY SECRETARY NEGROPONTE: Well, here's what --
MR. ROSE: You might not be able to speak to it, because you're the Deputy Secretary of State. But here's the former Republican Deputy Secretary of State, has had more cabinet positions than any other --
DEPUTY SECRETARY NEGROPONTE: Well, I don't see any (inaudible) out there in the Congress or elsewhere for lifting the embargo. I really don't.
MR. ROSE: And that's the reason it hasn't been lifted.
DEPUTY SECRETARY NEGROPONTE: Right. Well that’s one of the reasons. But it, I mean, let’s keep our eye on the Cuban problem, which is that it’s a repressive regime. And this -- the passage of Castro could be, could be an opportunity for a real change in the political scene. You mentioned these other countries. But we’re talking about our hemisphere. And in this hemisphere, if you look at the evolution of the past 25 or 30 years, every government -- virtually every government, I think every government is democratic save one. And that’s the government of Cuba. I mean, the picture’s a heck of a lot better than when the --
MR. ROSE: Venezuela’s a democratic government?
DEPUTY SECRETARY NEGROPONTE: Well, that’s the -- the -- probably the one where you have to -- where that -- democracy has been put under severe stress in recent years. But if you look at the hemisphere today compared to the way it looked in 1970 or ‘75 or 1980, I mean, things really have changed. And Cuba is kind of the outlaw here.
MR. ROSE: (Inaudible).
DEPUTY SECRETARY NEGROPONTE: They’re the odd man out.
MR. ROSE: There is some indication that Raul is different from his brother, isn’t there?
DEPUTY SECRETARY NEGROPONTE: Some, but not -- not enough.
MR. ROSE: What would happen when Castro dies? What’s likely to happen?
DEPUTY SECRETARY NEGROPONTE: Well, I --
MR. ROSE: What does your intelligence show you? What does your -- I mean, you used to be the head of intelligence.
DEPUTY SECRETARY NEGROPONTE: Well I -- but I would tell us that, you know, we don’t have that great an insight as to the internal dynamics of Cuba. I think a number of people would say to you, well, maybe when he dies that might be the point at which people are willing to come out and take more of a chance to try and really force some kind of a political change. I don’t know. I really don't know. But I think it’s important to try and keep the hope for freedom alive in that country.
MR. ROSE: Okay. Let me go to India.
DEPUTY SECRETARY NEGROPONTE: Yes, sir.
MR. ROSE: A place that I visited and talked to --
DEPUTY SECRETARY NEGROPONTE: Right.
MR. ROSE: -- Prime Minister and National Security Advisor and others. What’s the status? Are we going to get this agreement or not? Is it in trouble? Is it in trouble because of pressure on the Prime Minister in India because of what Congress is saying and doing in Washington?
DEPUTY SECRETARY NEGROPONTE: Well first of all, let me say, I think this is an area where you -- at the beginning of our discussion we talked about what’s happening around the world. I'd say India is an area where we really have had a significant improvement in the relationship with that country. And I think we look at India much more strategically than we used to. This is the second largest population in the world. It’s a democratic country. You ask me on the question of both the nuclear agreement --
MR. ROSE: Right.
DEPUTY SECRETARY NEGROPONTE: It’s -- at the moment, it’s held up in the Indian political process.
MR. ROSE: No, I understand.
DEPUTY SECRETARY NEGROPONTE: That’s the next step. And they are --
MR. ROSE: But you think --
DEPUTY SECRETARY NEGROPONTE: -- having difficulty --
MR. ROSE: -- in Congress or is it --
DEPUTY SECRETARY NEGROPONTE: Oh, well, I think, if -- if the Indians’ government approves it, I do think that then the -- what remains is to get an agreement -- they have to get an agreement with the International -- the IAEA, the International Atomic Energy and with the Nuclear Suppliers’ Group. But I think those things are -- are definitely feasible. But right now the main stumbling block is the internal Indian political process. And they’re going to have to work that out. The government is committed to it. But they’ve got their own coalition politics and political considerations to take into account.
MR. ROSE: Do you see India as a wedge against China?
DEPUTY SECRETARY NEGROPONTE: I think, I see India as a large country, more than one billion people, which is democratic, and which the United States cannot afford to ignore. I see it growing, interactions between our two countries including a burgeoning Indian-American population here in the United States. So just like China, I see --
MR. ROSE: It would be more if there weren’t some immigration politics.
DEPUTY SECRETARY NEGROPONTE: Yeah. A huge, growing middle class in that country, a very strong science and technology base.
MR. ROSE: But do you say it’s inevitable they’ll be in conflict with China, or not? Not necessarily true? And that, in fact, they now have interest in trading policies, one is a more service economy, one’s a more manufacturing economy.
DEPUTY SECRETARY NEGROPONTE: Right. No, I don’t think conflict of that kind -- first of all, we live in the new --
MR. ROSE: Military conflict.
DEPUTY SECRETARY NEGROPONTE: I mean, competition, perhaps, yes. But both of them I think more and more are going to focus on developing their own internal economies, their own internal markets. At the moment, China’s in a very much of a -- of an export mode. But sooner or later their own people are going to be demanding increases in their standard of living. And so I think that there’s going to be room for everybody.
MR. ROSE: Let me go back to the Middle East, Pakistan.
DEPUTY SECRETARY NEGROPONTE: Yes.
MR. ROSE: Is it stable? There have been some changes from the Musharraf policies. Most people have enormous respect for the man who’s in charge of the military. Let’s say the Deputy Secretary of State has been there recently.
DEPUTY SECRETARY NEGROPONTE: Yeah. Pakistan’s a very important country for a whole host of reasons. We have a long-term interest in the stability and well-being of the country of Pakistan, and one of problems we've had over the years is it's been kind of an up and down seesaw approach to Pakistan. We were cross with them, at one point, because of the proliferation activities, and then –
MR. ROSE: (Inaudible).
DEPUTY SECRETARY NEGROPONTE: -- and there has been this issue and that. I think this is a country, 160 million people, Islamic country, located in a strategic part of the world. We have a very strong interest, both in their internal political stability, their democratic evolution, and I would submit to you that what happened with their elections last year was very positive.
MR. ROSE: After the assassination of Bhutto.
DEPUTY SECRETARY NEGROPONTE: Yes. Their elections and their transition, their political transition has been a very positive development. I think there has been democratization process here, started, to be sure, some of the elements of it started under President Musharraf.
MR. ROSE: How relevant is Musharraf now?
DEPUTY SECRETARY NEGROPONTE: Well I think clearly, there has been some movement here, and the role of prime minister seems to be taking on greater importance- --
MR. ROSE: Like Russia --
DEPUTY SECRETARY NEGROPONTE: -- under the previous Musharraf presidency. But if I can get back for a moment to their importance, not only of their political evolution and the fact is that they're a major Islamic country, but of course, they are a neighbor of Afghanistan and you can't really succeed because of the border area, and because of the fact that there are militants operating in that border region between Afghanistan and Pakistan, and because it's where we think even that Mr. bin Laden might be holed up somewhere. You can't really succeed in this effort in Afghanistan without progress in Pakistan, and vice versa. They're inextricably related.
MR. ROSE: Speaking of Mr. bin Laden, what is our policy if we had hard and clear evidence where he was, what would we do?
DEPUTY SECRETARY NEGROPONTE: Well I think that would, that that were so, that --
MR. ROSE: But it's not so. Do we know where he is, within an area --
DEPUTY SECRETARY NEGROPONTE: I'm sure if it were so, although I'm no longer the director of national intelligence. If it were so, I'm sure we would take steps to put him out of commission one way or another.
MR. ROSE: We would have to have the permission of the Pakistani government?
DEPUTY SECRETARY NEGROPONTE: Look, I don't think that when it comes to somebody like Mr. bin Laden, that there is going to be any debate is to what ought to be done, if we had reliable information.
MR. ROSE: In other words, the Pakistani government would step aside and say, go get him, you know where he is, we believe in your efforts --
DEPUTY SECRETARY NEGROPONTE: I can't tell you for sure. I'm not able to tell you for sure where he is, but I mean the suspicion is that he's in that area between Afghanistan and Pakistan.
MR. ROSE: In Pakistan -- I mean in Pakistan, not in Afghanistan?
DEPUTY SECRETARY NEGROPONTE: Right, but I mean I don't think that people, you know, people know for certain, if we knew better, I think we would have already done something about it.
MR. ROSE: I said to Admiral Mullen, the chairman of the joint chiefs--an interview here at this table not long ago, if we had credible evidence that said where about Usama bin Laden was, what would the Pakistani Government do and allow us to do? He said I honestly do not know right now. And I think that's open to negotiations, but it's certainly open to discussions, not negotiations, but discussions with the new government. That's sort of where it is. If we had credible evidence, we'd still have to go somewhere --
DEPUTY SECRETARY NEGROPONTE: I think the answer applies to -- I think that applies to the general issue of how to deal with --
MR. ROSE: But not to bin Laden. If we had evidence as to where bin Laden was --
DEPUTY SECRETARY NEGROPONTE: I think I'd be a little more -- yes, I think I'd be a little let hesitant with bin Laden himself. In fact, I think I would say to you categorically that we would go after him.
MR. ROSE: Period?
DEPUTY SECRETARY NEGROPONTE: Yeah.
MR. ROSE: No if, ands, buts, negotiations --
DEPUTY SECRETARY NEGROPONTE: Not in my mind. Of course that's the decision of the President of the United States.
MR. ROSE: This is the man who is responsible for 9/11, the man responsible for 9/11.
DEPUTY SECRETARY NEGROPONTE: I'm pretty confident that that's the way the President would react.
MR. ROSE: You know, because you've had these conversations before, because you have, obviously, had a game plan if in fact you had that kind of evidence; correct?
DEPUTY SECRETARY NEGROPONTE: Right.
MR. ROSE: Okay. Is there -- with respect to Iran --
DEPUTY SECRETARY NEGROPONTE: Yes.
MR. ROSE: Characterize what you think they're doing. Tell us what you know they're doing, and why they continue to do it and what they see as their stakes in Iraq.
DEPUTY SECRETARY NEGROPONTE: So the question relates to Iraq.
MR. ROSE: Right. No, generally, but I'll get to nuclear in a moment.
DEPUTY SECRETARY NEGROPONTE: Okay.
MR. ROSE: But Petraeus -- Petraeus and Crocker talked about, before the Congress, was Iran.
DEPUTY SECRETARY NEGROPONTE: Right. And I think the answer is that they support -- they help foment instability and extremist elements, encourage them, in these areas that are of great interest to the United States. Certainly one of them is Iraq, and they provide assistance to these so-called special groups, which are kind of like elements of the Mahdi Army.
MR. ROSE: Give us a (inaudible) on that, because people don't understand. They're not supporting the Mahdi Army. They're supporting, what, extensions of extreme wings of the Mahdi Army?
DEPUTY SECRETARY NEGROPONTE: Our sense of it is, is that the -- Iranian intelligence services provide training and equipment to units or cells of the Mahdi Army, in other words, specialized -- like special forces, if you will, or commandos who are not part of the rank and file of the Mahdi Army, but who are specialized for -- to carry out these kind of terrorist activities.
MR. ROSE: Are those elements of the Mahdi Army under the control of Muqtada al-Sadr?
DEPUTY SECRETARY NEGROPONTE: I -- there is --
MR. ROSE: That is a good question.
DEPUTY SECRETARY NEGROPONTE: That is a good question, and I don't think there is an -- I don't think there is a certain answer. But he certainly has publicly distanced himself from those kinds of extremist activities. And I -- so I think that this is a situation where the Iranians are taking advantage of small elements of these Mahdi Army, bringing into under their – under their own wing and training them to carry out these activities. But this isn't the only place they're doing is this, of course. They support extremists in other areas such as in Afghanistan. We know that they have been providing some supplies to the Taliban. And, of course, they play a role in Lebanon, in the Palestinian territories and so forth. So they're up to no good. And I think everywhere you look, they seem to be up against what it is we're trying to accomplish.
MR. ROSE: Would Hezbollah survive without the Iranian support?
DEPUTY SECRETARY NEGROPONTE: Certainly not the military activities. Whether they would survive politically, they're beyond the Lebanese political scene, that's another question.
MR. ROSE: Speak to the question -- what's the nature of the Lebanese future now? I mean the Syrians got out of there after the assassination, and they pulled their army back because of oppression. You have a thousand people in demonstrations there. Where does that stand today? Are the Syrians trying to get back in? Do they have influence there? Lebanon?
DEPUTY SECRETARY NEGROPONTE: I think they do retain some influence, although --
MR. ROSE: Not as much as they had when they had occupation.
DEPUTY SECRETARY NEGROPONTE: I think that's right, although their forces have now withdrawn -- their military forces are out of there.
MR. ROSE: After (inaudible) assassination.
DEPUTY SECRETARY NEGROPONTE: And that's -- that was one good thing. But I do think that they retain residual influence, and I think that they have played a role in blocking the selection of a new Lebanese president. And as you know, that is a stalemated situation. I would say if I had to use one word to characterize Lebanese politics at the moment, it would appear to be stalemated.
MR. ROSE: Stalemated. They used to be -- for a while there was some feeling recently that the Israelis were having serious conversations with the Syrians, and there might be something going on there. Can you speak to that? Do you know about that?
DEPUTY SECRETARY NEGROPONTE: I mean there is talk of that possibility. But --
MR. ROSE: You mean talk of the possibility or there is talk about what they can do?
DEPUTY SECRETARY NEGROPONTE: No, I think there have been some news stories in recent days about the possibility of some Syrian Israeli peace talks, but I think that's something that the Israelis --
MR. ROSE: That's the big news, isn't it?
DEPUTY SECRETARY NEGROPONTE: I think you'd have to see what it means.
MR. ROSE: It means the return of the (inaudible) in terms of --
DEPUTY SECRETARY NEGROPONTE: But I'd have to -- at this point, I don't know whether this is kind of just an isolated report or something that actually is going to lead to something. That's not clear.
MR. ROSE: In that area, there was -- Israelis continue to not say anything about what they did in bombing that Syrian facility, whatever it was. And we say whatever the Israelis say, we, what?
DEPUTY SECRETARY NEGROPONTE: Well there have been some Administration briefings on this, and I don't think I want to amplify too much on that because those were done yesterday. But here’s what I would say. This reactor was for real, and because both of my past role as Director of National Intelligence and having followed the issue in recent months, I know, from the evidence that -- and the intelligence that has been collected, that they were in the final stages of having a nuclear reactor that looked exactly like the reactor in North Korea, the (inaudible) nuclear reactor.
MR. ROSE: North Koreans were helping --
DEPUTY SECRETARY NEGROPONTE: Become cooperative, and it appears that the North Koreans were helping them. And if you actually look at the photographs which were displayed yesterday, these designs look virtually identical. And there is no other -- there is no explanation -- it was clearly not being constructed for electricity. It was undeclared, contrary to Syria's own agreement with the International Atomic Energy, and they went to great lengths, after it was hit, to completely cover up any evidence of the existence of that facility. So it's -- there seems to be no other explanation, that it was part of an effort by the Syrians to develop some kind of a military nuclear program, which reminds us of the real -- that this is the Middle East region is one that's fraught with dangers, and nonproliferation issue, and the question of development of nuclear capabilities is a very, very important issue.
MR. ROSE: As you know, because -- what's interesting about talking -- what's interesting in a conversation with you is the roles you have and have had, because you know the intelligence. You know what it says. You have seen it, examined it, and you were the guy that talked to the president about it.
DEPUTY SECRETARY NEGROPONTE: I knew what it said. Mind you, it's a dynamic situation. I don't follow it in quite the same detail as I used to.
MR. ROSE: I understand. I understand. But when you -- you know, first of all, is our intelligence better than it used to be? Because it came up short in Iraq.
DEPUTY SECRETARY NEGROPONTE: Here is -- when we did the intelligence reform and we created my prior office, the director of national intelligence, there were two real focuses. One was the information sharing, and the other was the integration of our information effort. In other words, one of the real problems leading up to 9/11 was that information on terrorism was very stove piped in our government, and were even obstacles between the law enforcement --
MR. ROSE: The FBI and CIA –
DEPUTY SECRETARY NEGROPONTE: And all of that kind of stuff. But it's really -- I mean it really matters. And I think if you look at where we are today, as compared to seven years ago, we're much better off. We're in a much better place in terms of integration, information sharing, coordination --
MR. ROSE: And agents on the ground, inside -- inside terrorist organizations and all of that.
DEPUTY SECRETARY NEGROPONTE: And our human intelligence efforts have increased and improved. But I would say the biggest improvement has been in the area of integration of our information. Just one example, we have a national counterterrorism center now which has databases from 28 different --
MR. ROSE: Is that part of Homeland Security or part --
DEPUTY SECRETARY NEGROPONTE: No. It is -- it reports, actually, to the Director of National Intelligence, but it serves the entire community, and it integrates all the databases on terrorism. It has representatives from all the key agencies, CIA, FBI, et cetera. We're in a much better place than we were prior to 9/11.
MR. ROSE: It's a long discussion to get into, al-Qaida in Iraq, an important discussion, but overall, I mean clearly after 9/11, the President went after, in all of his statements, al-Qaida, you know. Forget whether al-Qaida clearly was present, and everybody else recognizes they weren't there in Iraq. How do we stand today in this struggle against terrorism? Are we -- give us an assessment of where we are in that battle.
DEPUTY SECRETARY NEGROPONTE: I think we, as a country, are better prepared. I think our --
MR. ROSE: Prepared for our own homeland security?
DEPUTY SECRETARY NEGROPONTE: Right. I think our intelligence is better integrated, better coordinated. I think that exists. I think in Iraq, al-Qaida has suffered some serious setbacks. And they’re not nearly as well off as they were, for example, when I first --
MR. ROSE: -- the Sunni has turned against them in some cases, the awakening and all that.
DEPUTY SECRETARY NEGROPONTE: But I think there are also some challenging areas. I would mention a couple. I'd say in the Maghreb in North Africa, and that whole area, you say al-Qaida in the Maghreb, which has been growing somewhat. I think we have -- we talked about Pakistan and the border area between Afghanistan and Pakistan, we got to continue to be concerned about militants operating in that region. And of course, you saw what happened in Western Europe over the past several years, in London and Madrid and so forth. And I think our European allies have got to continue to be concerned about extremist efforts in that part of the world. So -- but it’s a long -- this was a long process. It’s going to take time. But I think --
MR. ROSE: What’s the strategy? The strategy? It’s a long process. It’s going to take time. What’s the strategy?
DEPUTY SECRETARY NEGROPONTE: Well the strategy is multifaceted. It has got to be. It’s got to be -- there’s got to be a security focus. There’s got to be an intelligence aspect. But there’s also got to be encouraging moderate Islamic elements to step forward. And --
MR. ROSE: Any progress on that? Any progress on that you see?
DEPUTY SECRETARY NEGROPONTE: Well, I think, yes, I think there is. But it has to do with politics in various countries and leadership. I’ll give you one example, the President of Indonesia. I think he’s been one of the real leaders for Islamic moderation. Well, this is important. And you see similar efforts in other countries, in Malaysia, as well.
MR. ROSE: All right.
DEPUTY SECRETARY NEGROPONTE: It’s multifaceted.
MR. ROSE: But it’s a long battle. It’s not --
DEPUTY SECRETARY NEGROPONTE: No, but --
MR. ROSE: You don’t look at some decisive day --
DEPUTY SECRETARY NEGROPONTE: No.
MR. ROSE: -- the struggle.
DEPUTY SECRETARY NEGROPONTE: But it doesn’t have to be forever, either.
MR. ROSE: But -- exactly. But, you know --
DEPUTY SECRETARY NEGROPONTE: But it’s out there for quite a while.
MR. ROSE: Is the ultimate fear nuclear weapons falling into the hands of terrorists?
DEPUTY SECRETARY NEGROPONTE: Well I think that’s certainly one of the concerns. But I think the more likely kind of terrorist activity that one has to be concerned about is the kinds like we’ve already seen, the bombings, the indiscriminate bombings in populated areas, in some kind of a generalized way. And one has to try to keep those situations under control. But I think by addressing those problems, the problems of these kind of terrorist activities, one is also contributing towards preventing these kinds of materials from falling into the hands of terrorists.
MR. ROSE: I’m way over. But I have to end with this because of your experience there and what you’re doing today. Where do you see Iraq going? What’s -- where is it?
DEPUTY SECRETARY NEGROPONTE: I think I -- you and I talked about this in other shows. When I left Iraq in March of 2005, I sent in kind of an end of tour report. And I said I thought it would take about five years to stabilize the situation in Iraq.
MR. ROSE: This is in year, what, 2005?
DEPUTY SECRETARY NEGROPONTE: 2005. So I'd say I was basically saying by sometime in 2010. And by stabilize, I meant that they would be in a place where with their own security forces the government of Iraq could maintain stability. And all they would need from us is support of activities of various kinds, whether it’s logistics, intelligence, transport, or whatever, but not with us out in front bearing the brunt of the fighting. I think you’re starting to see that kind of an evolution. The Iraq Security Forces are much stronger than they were when I left -- from what -- when I left, certainly than when I got there, when --
MR. ROSE: So Maliki’s prepared to take on more?
DEPUTY SECRETARY NEGROPONTE: And Mr. Maliki has shown -- taken some really bold --
MR. ROSE: Any political reconciliation on part -- not in terms of the awakening, but Sunni, Shia sharing more revenues, welcoming the (inaudible) --
DEPUTY SECRETARY NEGROPONTE: Well, we --
MR. ROSE: -- back into the government, wish there was something to keep --
DEPUTY SECRETARY NEGROPONTE: I think that’s likely to happen. I think you’ve seen --
MR. ROSE: Likely to happen soon?
DEPUTY SECRETARY NEGROPONTE: Yeah. It looks like it’s on the verge of happening.
MR. ROSE: Right.
DEPUTY SECRETARY NEGROPONTE: As far as I can tell.
MR. ROSE: Come under the rubric of political reconciliation.
DEPUTY SECRETARY NEGROPONTE: Well, yes.
MR. ROSE: Right. But when you talk about 10 years before they’ll be stable --
DEPUTY SECRETARY NEGROPONTE: Five, I said, five.
MR. ROSE: Okay, 2010, right?
DEPUTY SECRETARY NEGROPONTE: Yeah, mm-hmm.
MR. ROSE: Well, in your judgment, what level of American presence in Iraq would be required?
DEPUTY SECRETARY NEGROPONTE: Well, that’s extremely hard to say with precision because, I mean, this is going to be a call that’s going to be made based on the circumstances as they develop. And it’s going to be based on recommendations of the Commander and the Ambassador and the decision of the President and so forth, Secretary of Defense. So I would be reluctant to say. But I'm certain, I'm confident that the level is going to go down, and I'm reasonably confident it's going to go down fairly significantly. But exactly how much, and exactly when, I would be --
MR. ROSE: But there will be American troops in Iraq until 2010.
DEPUTY SECRETARY NEGROPONTE: For sure. And I think there are going to be some quite some time to come, although at a reduced level. And I don't think that outcome is necessarily bad. I don't think that's bad for Iraq, I don't think it's necessarily bad for us and I think it wouldn't be necessarily bad for the Middle East.
MR. ROSE: Is that what the Iraqis think?
DEPUTY SECRETARY NEGROPONTE: Well, that's -- we're in the process of having that discussion with them now, with respect to a strategic agreement with them and a status of forces and so forth. That's in discussion as you and I speak.
MR. ROSE: Thank you very much --
DEPUTY SECRETARY NEGROPONTE: Thank you.
MR. ROSE: -- for this Tour of the world.
DEPUTY SECRETARY NEGROPONTE: We overshot the limit here.
MR. ROSE: I did. But thank you very much.
DEPUTY SECRETARY NEGROPONTE: It's okay.
MR. ROSE: The Deputy Secretary of State, Deputy Secretary Negroponte. One of America's most skilled diplomats. Thank you for joining us. See you next time.
Released on April 27, 2008