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Interview on the Laura Ingraham Radio Show

Secretary Condoleezza Rice
Washington, DC
May 23, 2006

QUESTION: The President, of course, speaking out after most of the Cabinet was named in its new unity government. Nice Cream song there, Mattie. Could you be playing Cream because we have the great delight and privilege of now speaking to our Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who's one of her favorite groups --

SECRETARY RICE: That's right. (Laughter.) How are you?

QUESTION: Well, we're --

SECRETARY RICE: Little secret revealed there about my love of Cream.

QUESTION: Yeah. Somehow going from concern pianist to Cream is an interesting leap for us and we're not going to tease you too much about the fact that you couldn't remember one of the band's (inaudible) name.

SECRETARY RICE: I know. I know. It's a show of my advancing age. (Laughter.)

QUESTION: No, hardly. We actually enjoyed the interview with Chris Wallace. We thought it was good. I want to get into what's happening in Iraq. You know, I was there in February and back in February it seemed like it would never happen; that a Cabinet would get named. And finally we have some progress up on that front, but not as much as of course any of us would like. What's the latest?

SECRETARY RICE: Well, the new government is really hard at work. They are close, I believe, to the naming of a defense minister and an interior minister. I think it's important to note that they wanted to take their time and make sure that they got those two positions right. They've been doing some interviewing. They've been doing some vetting of people, background checks. It's really, I think a sign of their maturity that they are going about this so carefully. And the Prime Minister has really been working hard and, even though those two names are not yet -- they haven't yet been chosen, because I was told by Zal Khalilzad, our ambassador, that he's been holding meetings about infrastructure security, about security in Baghdad. He's working very hard and those people will be named very shortly.

QUESTION: And will the Sunnis be satisfied, do you think ultimately? I mean, those who would actually be able to have an affect on this increasing sectarian violence?

SECRETARY RICE: Laura, when I was there, what really struck me is the maturity of the Sunni leadership as well. The Sunnis now have representation by leaders that we really wouldn't have even been able to talk to a year or so ago, people who are close to those who have beliefs that violence was the appropriate course and there's great hope in Iraq that these people who now are part of the political leadership will be able to convince other Sunnis who might have been part of the insurgency to lay down their arms and to come onto the political process, because these are really authentic political leaders. This government is supported by some 85 to 90 percent of the parliament. That's a very strong base of support for a national unity government and it really is a new opportunity for the Iraqis to deal with some of the vexing problems that they have.

I will say that Prime Minister Maliki really impressed me. The first thing he said is the Iraqi people have had enough. It's really time for us to govern and govern well.

QUESTION: And how much of an influence, at this point, on this violence is Iran having? And I talked to a number of the military leaders there when I was in Baghdad and up at Camp Taji and they were very concerned about the level of infiltration. What do you know about that that you can share with us?

QUESTION: Well, there is no doubt that there are concerns about Iran's role, particularly in the south and perhaps stoking some of the violence. I do think that the Iraqis are resistant to too deep of an Iranian involvement in their affairs, because as you know they have very different histories and very different cultures. Iran is going to be their neighbor. They live next door to Iran. We hope Iran will have transparent and neighborly relations with them. But, yes, there's concern and people -- Gulf States in particular are talking to the Iranians about being a stabilizing influence there, not a troublesome influence.

QUESTION: I want to talk a little bit, since you raised the China issue and so many areas we want to hit, but Kofi Annan was out there today saying that China has to take a really active role in helping out on the proliferation issue, especially as it involves North Korea. And my question to you is are you satisfied with, number one, the pace of a push to more of a democratic process in China? And also with what China's been doing in Iran with the Iranian problem and the North Korean problem?

SECRETARY RICE: Well, on the sort of geostrategic issues -- that would be Iran and North Korea -- I think we have good cooperation with China. On Iran, China is a member of the P-5 and the Permanent Five of the UN and has been attending these meetings with us. And they've been, I would say constructive. We haven't always agreed. They don't agree particularly right now on a Chapter 7 resolution in the UN, but I think we're making progress. Our political directors are going to be meeting tomorrow to continue the work on showing Iran both the positive track that it could take and some of the consequences if it does not take that positive track. And I think the Chinese have been largely constructive in those discussions.

On North Korea, I think China has been very active. The problem is North Korea has not really listened to anyone in coming back to the table and in making a strategic decision to abandon its nuclear weapons program. But the Chinese -- we and the Chinese are working very hard on that. The President talked with President Hu when he was here on a visit and they agreed to redouble their efforts.

Now, obviously the place that we have some differences are in terms of Chinese internal policy. We have not seen the kind of progress on human rights that we would hope on religious freedom and we're quite candid and clear with the Chinese on those issues. I do believe that if China is to fully develop as a true economic power along the whole range of economic capabilities that they're not going to be able to continue to exist in a situation in which you tell people to think at work but not at home. The pressures for economic liberalization will lead to pressures for political liberalization and you --

QUESTION: But I notice, though, Madame Secretary, that the Vice President recently was pretty tough on Russia and I think deservedly so. And I guess my question is we're tough on Russia publicly, but why not the same tough language toward China?

SECRETARY RICE: Well, we are very tough on China. But let's remember Russia's in a different place. Russia actually has gone through now a democratic revolution out of 1991. They have an elected president who is expected to govern democratically. They have an elected Duma. They have an economy that is supposed to be liberalizing, so Russia is in a very different place than China and I think was moving much further along on some of these issues of human rights and political freedom. And what we're concerned about Russia -- in Russia is there seems to be a moving back, whereas China, frankly, is a one-party Communist state that has not yet had that democratic revolution. And it's our hope that some of the pressures that are there on the economic side and the fact that we do consistently talk to the Chinese about this will bring some changes. But Russia is a state that is much further along and, in fact, has said that it wishes to integrate into the world of European democracy, so it's a very different situation.

QUESTION: We're talking to the Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. Why is it, Madame Secretary, that so many Europeans, especially European intellectuals in government and out believe that the United States is a greater threat to world peace than Islamic terrorists?

SECRETARY RICE: I think it's frankly idle café chat, to be quite blunt about it. I think that if you really ask people do they really believe the United States is a bigger threat than Islamic terrorism, they would have to be, shall we say, not operating on this planet to say yes. Come on, the United States didn't blow up its own World Trade Center.

QUESTION: But they think we caused it.

SECRETARY RICE: Well -- now there are people who say things about our policies and so forth, but again, I think it's such a ludicrous argument that it doesn't really even -- isn't really even worth addressing. It's quite obvious where the threat to democratic values and to our way of life is coming from. It's coming from extremism. It's coming out of a region where there is a freedom deficit that this President is finally trying to address with a worldwide call against tyranny and for democracy. And if in some of the salons of Europe, there are people who say such things, I don't think we should even dignify it with a response.

QUESTION: And we would be remiss in not raising the Latin American issue with you. And my question is why is it that Latin American countries today are choosing leaders who are more like, you know, Hugo Chavez than George Bush?

SECRETARY RICE: Well, I think it's a -- you know, it's a mixed picture. I wouldn't put it quite that way, Laura. First of all, there are governments from the left that we are quite comfortable working with, the Government of Brazil, we have excellent relations. The Government of Chile, we have excellent relations. Those are governments of the left. But they are governments that are democratically elected; that govern democratically; that have had open economic policies. We have a free trade agreement with Chile that's quite expansive and working quite well. And so I wouldn't want to throw the governments of Brazil and Chile into the same category with a government like Venezuela where there are questions -- certainly concerns about democratic governance.

And what is more, Chavez has been having -- the Venezuelans have been having kind of a rough patch here. Their interference in their neighbors' affairs in places like Peru where Peru recalled its ambassador, the worry that has been brought about by the Bolivian nationalization of gas and the quite harsh words that have been said about that. There is more concern in Latin America about this trend, not of left governments, but of governments that govern irresponsibly than I think is sometimes recognized.

QUESTION: We have someone on the line who was at your commencement address at Boston College and he wants to say what his reaction was to your speech. Jim in Mystic, Connecticut, you're talking to the Secretary of State. Jim.

CALLER: I'm honored.

SECRETARY RICE: Thank you, Jim.

CALLER: I -- a confluence of emotions happened for me yesterday because 22 years ago my wife and I had adopted a six-week-old baby girl from Bogotá, Colombia, from an orphanage and yesterday she graduated from Boston College.

SECRETARY RICE: That's wonderful.

QUESTION: And we can see from the reaction, Madame Secretary, that there were a few kids who were engaging in their right to protest, but the overwhelming response was so positive and we know it's not easy, the job you do. And you're brave to go on, you know, Meet the Press, yes, but braver to go to Boston College and give a --

SECRETARY RICE: (Laughter.) No, but you know --

QUESTION: -- commencement address.

SECRETARY RICE: -- but Boston -- first of all, I appreciate very much your caller and what he said and what a great story. And it shows the compassion and big heart of he and his wife. And I'm sure that that person, that child now has a real wonderful lease on life because of what they did in adopting a child from Bogotá, Colombia. But the Boston College experience was indeed wonderful. I --

QUESTION: It was fantastic.

SECRETARY RICE: -- it was very well received and I loved being there.

QUESTION: Well, we loved having you on. Thank you so much for joining us.


QUESTION: Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

Released on May 23, 2006

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