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Interview With Marion Brooks, NBC-WMAQ-TV

Secretary Condoleezza Rice
Chicago, Illinois
April 19, 2006

QUESTION: First of all, how do you address (inaudible) -- and I'm sure you talked about it today during your talk -- amid all the falling poll numbers for the Administration for President Bush specifically, where the people's lack of patience for how the Administration has handled Iraq.

SECRETARY RICE: Well, the first -- the President is determined to do what's right. And we believe that what is right for the country, it is to recognize that we needed a different kind of Middle East, that a stable and democratic Iraq is going to be a good ally and partner in the fight against terrorism in the center of the Middle East. And think how much that we changed our prospects for a secure America.

And yet, I, too go to the Iraqi leaders and say, you've got to form a government and you can't keep the Iraqi people held up. You've got to form a government. You have to do it very, very shortly. But we do have to recognize that what they're doing is hard. They're learning to do by politics of compromise what they've always done by violence and oppression and that's hard. And if we get to remember how hard it was to form our own democracy. If you just remember it was a difficult evolution that we went through, where our constitution has my ancestors as three-fifths of a man, will recognize that the road to democracy is always hard and it's always even. But it's also the only road that is a good road.

QUESTION: (Inaudible) there is any gain that we can see of (inaudible)? I know now not to put numbers and timeframes out there. But is there one in your mind or are you thinking of one?

SECRETARY RICE: I want to assure that the American people that the Iraqi security forces are getting better at taking more responsibility for their own security. That means that they believe they need less help from the American military. The Iraqi Government is about to be the first permanent national unity government in Iraq. That means that they will be able to take responsibility for difficult decisions about how the security is going. We've been in a situation in which we did have a heavy burden of responsibility. But Iraqis announced that, you know, they're taking the time with those responsibilities. And so we are moving in the right direction and we're going get there. And I think we're going to get there perhaps even faster than people think because the Iraqis want so much to be in charge. But what we need to be is a partner in that. We need to be the support for them because it's not just Iraq that would be a very difficult place if we withdraw and fail, it would also undermine our own security future.

QUESTION: Let me just change to Iran now. Iran is a growing threat in its nuclear ambitions. They were a member of the "Axis of Evil" that Mr. Bush has mentioned. At this point, how do you send that country at a time when a time when they're clearly not concerned about we here think of them in this administration?

SECRETARY RICE: Well, we've just begun. We're just now in the Security Council, last month, and I think the Iranians are going to have to come around because they don't want to be as isolated as the international community can make them. The world can make Iran a quite isolated regime to use financial and other means to make sure that they have great difficulty in just about everything that they do. And a lot of countries that were -- a lot more countries are starting to consider what means we ought to use. So the policy here really has a chance to work. We just need to make the international community united and strong and to present the Iranians with a stark choice: you'll either accede to the demands of the international community or you will be isolated.

QUESTION: Tom Friedman in an op-ed piece made the point that he would rather see Iran have nuclear capability than seeing the United States taking any sort of military action. So that's sort of a lack of confidence. And what is your take on that that it's a lack of confidence?

SECRETARY RICE: Well, first of all, it's a false choice. You know, the United States has a course which is to unite and help mobilize the international community. So we're not alone in this. The European Union has tried to negotiate with Iran over the last few years. The Russians, over the last several months. They now see that the Iranians are not interested in the solutions that were presented to them. And so we have good partners in convincing Iran that they have to take another course. The President doesn't take his options off the table, but he also should not say that a nuclear Iran is just not a matter for concern because a nuclear Iran in the midst of the Middle East has (inaudible) is something which I don't think anybody wants to contemplate. We've got a lot of diplomatic options that are disposable in the country at the moment.

QUESTION: I'd like to ask, if you don't mind, about Secretary Rumsfeld. I know there's been several calls from him to step down -- something that Tom Friedman reiterated as well in his op-ed piece today. What are you thoughts on that? Should he step down or is this just too wrong-headed?

SECRETARY RICE: Don Rumsfeld is one of the finest patriots and the most dedicated people I know. And he works so hard at just every (inaudible) for America. The President has confidence in him, which is the most important thing. (inaudible) I've known Don Rumsfeld for years. I met him here in Chicago, as a matter of fact when he lived here. And he's somebody that I am honored to serve with. And I think that he is -- he's done a fine job. All of us have had to make difficult and controversial decisions. But Don Rumsfeld is somebody that I value.

QUESTION: Let me ask you also, and I know we're out of time. The President of China is in this country. He begins his trip, which isn't an official state trip from what I understand on the West Coast in Washington State and not Washington, D.C. Is that the wrong message for us to see here as Americans or is it that it that it goes to businesses (inaudible) countries?

SECRETARY RICE: We were very supportive of President Hu going out to Washington State first and meeting with business leaders. China is a country that has ambition and one of the lessons to be learned is that as important as government is, the private sector is what drives economic development that the United States it's the private sector that creates jobs. It's the private sector that innovates. And for him to go see the tremendous value of the private sector, I think it's exactly the way to start this. We've had lots of meetings with President Hu, he's been here. We've been in China with him. And the President is very much looking forward to meeting him to talk about our full diplomatic agenda. But he'll continue to go first to our very vibrant private sector (inaudible).

QUESTION: Do you have a little more time? One more questions? No, yes? This is an easy one just about Chicago. Do you have any Chicago connections or fond memories of before you became Secretary.

SECRETARY RICE: Well, I do have fond memories because I went to school in South Bend about 90 miles from here and Chicago was, of course, the place to get out of South Bend. And it's a great place. I can remember coming here to the Chicago Lyric Opera to, as a student, when I think they had free tickets of some kind that you could get. I had lots of good friends here, including the fact that my two college roommates were actually from Chicago, so it's a great city, a beautiful city. Culturally, just one of the real gems of the country.


Released on April 20, 2006

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