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Interview With Bob Arya, CL-TV

Secretary Condoleezza Rice
Chicago, Illinois
April 19, 2006

QUESTION: Madame Secretary, thank you very much. I know you've had a busy day and a long schedule. (Inaudible) Barak Obama among those -- among the handful of generals asking for the resignation of Donald Rumsfeld (inaudible) personally believe (inaudible) he should stay?

SECRETARY RICE: Well, first of all, (inaudible) the President's confidence in him and that's (inaudible). Secondly, (inaudible) colleague of mine. I'm one of his colleagues. I know that nobody has worked harder to try to secure this country and Don is a valued colleague and I'm honored to serve with him and I hope he'll keep serving. I think he will.

QUESTION: You talked about it during your speech. You policy, as it stands right now, is the evolution as things are out there and (inaudible) some mistakes that have been made. Is Iraq better off now than it was when you started three years ago?

SECRETARY RICE: Iraqis are most assuredly better off now without Saddam Hussein. You know, life is very hard on the road to democracy. It's very tough in this case, it's violent (inaudible) people have to sacrifice, innocent people die as democracy moves forward. We are watching the sacrifices of some of our young men and women and we honor and value every sacrifice.

We have to recognize though that life was really hard, too, under a dictator, unless you happen to be the dictator. So the 300,000 mass graves or the executions of people or the rapes of women, let's not forget what life was like for the Iraqi people under Saddam Hussein. And let's also not forget that Saddam Hussein threatened in the region, he invaded his neighbors, he used chemical weapons. This was a monstrous figure in a Middle East that needs change, and the Iraqi people are better off and the world is better off without Saddam Hussein.

QUESTION: The focus now is shifting to Iran and as I was talking to some of the high school kids in their current event classes and the like, they came up with a couple of interesting questions. First of all, why is it that a sovereign nation like Iran can't have nuclear weapons when the U.S. can, the French can, the Israelis can? Why can we have it and our neighbors or other people can't (inaudible)?

SECRETARY RICE: Well, Iran cannot have nuclear weapons because in a volatile region like the Middle East a country like Iran with nuclear weapons could be a great danger to peace and security. And that, by the way, is not the opinion of the United States. That's the opinion of the entire world. And imagine a country with nuclear weapons that has a president, as Iran's President has done, who says that Israel should be wiped off the face of the map. You don't want somebody like that with nuclear weapons. You don't want nuclear weapons in the hands of a country that funds terrorism around the world. And so Iran is a country that cannot be trusted with a nuclear weapon. Iran can have civil nuclear power and nobody would deny them that, but they have to have it in a way through technologies that would not allow them to have a nuclear weapon.

QUESTION: North Korea multilateral talks seemed to defuse what at one point was a very stressful situation for a lot of folks. You just mentioned the difference in the leadership. Kim Jong-il is a nut job, according to a lot of people, but they're different from the Iranian President, who has called for essentially the elimination of Israel. What then makes you think that whether it's unilateral, bilateral or other types of talks are going to work, especially when the Iranian President continues to escalate into (inaudible)?

SECRETARY RICE: Yes, well, the Iranians clearly have escalated, (inaudible) demands of the international community. But Iran is different from North Korea. North Korea is a very isolated country and Kim Jong-il, in fact, uses the isolation to keep his people under control. Iran is a modern country. It's a country that does engage with the international community. It is a country that trades. It is a country that has economic and diplomatic relations, not diplomatic relations with us but diplomatic relations with most of the world. And so the kind of isolation that Iran is facing if it does not change its behavior is isolation that I don't think either the Iranian people or the Iranian regime can ultimately tolerate.

QUESTION: I've got a question for you. It's from a priest. If God gave you the power to solve one problem in the world -- and you've certainly been around (inaudible) countries and regions and arguably nobody knows them better than you do. If you had the power to solve one of the problems, what would it be?

SECRETARY RICE: Well, actually, it wouldn't be a very diplomatic issue although I certainly ask for guidance on those as well. I think I would ask if we couldn't do more about the plight of children. You know, if you look at some of the conditions in which children grow up around the world, too many children that have to grow up in violent circumstances. One of the most impressive and really searing memories for me since I've been Secretary, I went out to a refugee camp in Darfur and I saw these little children, three and four years old, playing in the dirt in the makeshift kindergarten that aid workers had put together for them. And I couldn't help but wonder if they were going to grow up in those camps. And when you look at the inhumanity of man sometimes (inaudible), you realize that it's most often the children who have to suffer most. I'm proud that the United States is by far the largest food aid donor in the world. I'm proud that when it comes to humanitarian assistance in Darfur, it is the United States that leads.

But I would hope that these children don't grow up in that camp in Darfur. And that camp is replicated in many parts of the world where there are refugees from civil conflict. Hopefully, as we move to more accountable and responsible states, as we move to states that are more democratic, as people learn to resolve their differences by politics and compromise rather than by war and violence, there won't be so many children who grow up in those (inaudible) camps.

QUESTION: Madame Secretary, thank you.


Released on April 20, 2006

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