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 You are in: Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice > What the Secretary Has Been Saying > 2006 Secretary Rice's Remarks > April 2006: Secretary Rice's Remarks

Interview With Hilary Brown, ABC

Secretary Condoleezza Rice
Baghdad, Iraq
April 26, 2006

QUESTION: When do you hope to see a withdrawal in the number of U.S. troops here in Iraq and what would be the precondition for that?

SECRETARY RICE: We're focused on the success of this Iraqi Government. And the success of this Iraqi Government depends on their political program and that is what we were here to talk about today, Secretary Rumsfeld and I, but also on the formation of security forces that are capable and capable of defending this country. And that is when the United States will be able to stand down from its responsibilities. And so we don't think of this in terms of when; we think of it in terms of when the conditions are right.

QUESTION: Which could be anytime?

SECRETARY RICE: Well, the key is to do this right. The United States came to Iraq, liberated Iraq, along with our coalition partners and pledged to help create the foundations for a democracy here that can change the nature of the Middle East. That is on course and that's what we're going to do.

QUESTION: What do you think of Maliki's stated aim of uniting this country, making Iraq one family free of ethnic and religious divisions? I mean, can he really achieve this?

SECRETARY RICE: Well, I found the prime minister-designate to be incredibly articulate about the need for not just a government of national unity, but a real feeling of national unity for the Iraqi people. He talked about trust between the different parts of Iraq's communities and he talked about the need to have ministries that are also ministries of national unity, not just a government of national unity.

The first thing that you have to do when you're going to take on a big goal is to recognize that that's the task. And I found him articulate and focused, as well as other members of the new government. We met with the Presidency Council, with the new speaker and his deputies and they all seem focused on the same thing, making this a country that is truly unified.

QUESTION: But he wants to merge the sectarian militias into the national army. Is that a good idea?

SECRETARY RICE: Well, what I heard him say is that you cannot have unauthorized forces and you cannot have unauthorized armed people. And that's true in any democracy. Precisely how they go about demobilizing militias I think will have to be up to the Iraqi Government. It's been done in other places before. It's been done peacefully in other places before. And they will have an Iraqi plan to make sure that there is one security force, not several.

QUESTION: I have lots of other questions, but I'm afraid I'm not allowed to ask them.


QUESTION: Next time.

SECRETARY RICE: Thank you very much.

QUESTION: Thank you.



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