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Interview on Turkish TV

Deputy Secretary Richard L. Armitage
Interview by Reha Atsagan
Washington, DC
October 20, 2003

2003/1064
(10:37 a.m. EDT)

QUESTION: Secretary Armitage, you had the UN's resolution, and now there is a conference, donors conference in Madrid on Thursday, but the American public and the Congress and international community have some concerns, not only on the security situation in Iraq, but also the costs, the financial contribution, and all that. Are you receiving the support you want? Or, if not, why?

DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: Well, certainly, in terms of domestic support, both the House and the Senate of the United States Congress have voted to support the President's request for $20.3 billion for reconstruction aid and approximately $67 billion for support of the armed forces. So, in that regard, we're receiving good support.

Each nation who attends the Madrid Conference will have to make their own decision of whether they want to support the Iraqi people or not. It's not support for the United States; it's support for the people of Iraq and their struggle to reconstruct themselves after 35 years of bad leadership.

QUESTION: So you say you're receiving the support you want from --

DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: Domestically.

QUESTION: Okay, domestically. But the Senate made an amendment with --

DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: Yes, they made an amendment so we'll have to reconcile the two bills.

QUESTION: Yes.

DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: But the point of the matter is the end result is 20.3 billion.

QUESTION: And with regard to Turkish troops' deployment in Iraq, what is really slowing the process?

Secretary Powell said there are some difficulties. Secretary Rumsfeld said it's a very complex issue. And where are we leading to?

DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: Well, I think that there are some general questions that the Governing Council of Iraq have about some of their neighbors participating in security activities inside Iraq. And so, there have to be discussions held to clarify those matters.

This is not simply a matter limited to Turkey. As I say, the Governing Council has spoken about all their neighbors. They're having questions about all of their neighbors' participation, so those are the things that make it complex.

QUESTION: But so far it's only Turkey made a decision to send troops. It has passed through the parliament. It was timely, even before the UN resolution, and you need to rotate your troops over there; and also there is a security problem. Why does it take so long? I mean, is there talks going on? Even the process hasn't started yet, it seems.

DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: I don't think the talks have gone on yet. But my understanding is there will be talks between the Iraqis and the CPA -- that is, Ambassador Bremer and our friends from Turkey. It's better to get it right, than to get it in a hurry, and we're trying to get it right; and right for our Turkish allies, who have decided to participate; right for our friends in the Iraqi Governing Council -- they're trying to make decisions on the future of their nation. So, we'll just take our times and get it right, not in a hurry.

QUESTION: Do you agree -- Secretary Rumsfeld didn't agree with me -- do you agree that there is a growing opposition -- not only from the Iraqi Governing Council but from the Kurdish groups, Massoud Barzani, kind of threatened to resign from the Governing Council?

How are you going to handle this because it is in the benefit of the -- of all parties if Turkey could help the Iraqi people. Prime Minister Erdogan says our only aim is to help the Iraqi people.

DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: Well certainly, we want to do several things: We want to maintain the territorial integrity of Iraq. Second of all, I think I would disagree with you as well. There are difficulties and there are security challenges, but about 80 percent of the country is moving forward, getting on with their lives where production of electricity is well above the pre-war era.

And regarding the Kurds, particularly, your own relationship -- that is Turkey's own relationship with the Kurds -- has been fraught with some difficulties. The Kurdish relationship to the Iraqi-Arabs has been one of some difficulties. And these are things that are complex and need to be worked out carefully.

QUESTION: You mean -- let's make it clear -- you don't agree with me when I say there's a growing opposition from the Kurdish groups in Iraq --

DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: I think you are --

QUESTION: -- to the Turkish deployment?

DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: Oh, no. There is some opposition to that. I don't disagree with that.

QUESTION: Oh, that's what I meant.

DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: But we have to talk to the whole Governing Council, which represents all of Iraq, not simply the Kurdish parties, to see if there is a way forward.

QUESTION: Okay. And, you know, there is also concerns that without a large U.S. and a Coalition presence, that there is talk and concerns about danger of a fractured Iraq. Do you share these concerns?

DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: We have had concerns about the possibility of a fractured Iraq. And, as I say, one of our highest priorities is to maintain the territorial integrity and to get an Iraqi government stood up, which is representative of all the people; and to get security services, security forces, et cetera, that are representative of all the groups so we can have a very good chance at a cohesive nation.

QUESTION: And, you know, President Bush in Bangkok said --

DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: Yes.

QUESTION: -- the war on terror goes on, and that we need to work together, as free nations together. What is the situation in regard with the PKK-KADEK presence in northern Iraq? What work should be done, you know, together with U.S. and Turkey?

DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: Well, these are a terrorist group, the KADEK, and they need to be dismantled. And how to go about that, and it needs to be approached carefully, et cetera, but this is a terrorist group that needs to be gone.

QUESTION: But when?

DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: Well, that's a matter that I can't dictate here from Washington. It's something that we've had discussions with friends in the region. And as I say, it has to be done carefully, but it has to be done.

QUESTION: Okay. My last question is -- will be: The decision to limit cash transfer out of Iraq. This is -- you know, this decision to limit it with 10 --

DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: Cash transfers out of Iraq?

QUESTION: Out Iraq for the business profits. This was a decision taken by the -- Bremer and his team. And it's a setback for businessmen who deals with -- you know, does business with Iraq.

DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: Then I would think that you'd want to be able to have business that goes both ways. I'm uninformed about that particular decision, but it seems to me that Iraqis who have money ought to be able to spend it where they want to.

QUESTION: Well, they say it's -- our time is over.

DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: Thank you.

QUESTION: I thank you so much --

DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: I thank you.

QUESTION: -- for sparing your time.

DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: Thank you.

QUESTION: Thank you.


Released on October 21, 2003

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