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Interview on CNN Wth Sally Holland

Secretary Condoleezza Rice
Kabul, Afghanistan
June 28, 2006

QUESTION: Okay. We're going to start with probably the biggest news of the day in Gaza. The Israelis supposedly -- they say they didn't, but they say that they may have bombed a power plant overnight. What does this do to diplomacy?


SECRETARY RICE: Well, let's remember how this started. This began as an international call for the release of this Israeli soldier who was abducted by tunneling under -- through Gaza into Israeli's territory. There is still a diplomatic effort underway to try and resolve this. But it, in a sense, demonstrates a lot of the problems currently, which is that the Hamas government really needs to be committed to a peaceful resolution or we're not going to have conditions in Gaza that are going to make it possible to have a peaceful resolution. And so we'll continue the diplomatic efforts.

We've obviously asked everybody to be constrained in what they do. I know the Israelis are continuing their diplomatic efforts and we will too.

QUESTION: Have there been any calls made? I mean, has anybody from the U.S. Government talked to anybody over there this morning?

SECRETARY RICE: Well, I haven't been in touch this morning.

QUESTION: Right.

SECRETARY RICE: (Laughter.) I'm here in Afghanistan and it's the middle of the night --

QUESTION: Okay. You haven't talked to anybody this morning?

SECRETARY RICE: Right. No, no. It's the middle of the night in Washington.

QUESTION: Okay. Iran's Supreme Leader said Tuesday that Iran had no use for negotiating with the United States over a nuclear program. Do you see this as a rejection of the Vienna proposals?

SECRETARY RICE: We're still waiting for an authoritative answer from the Iranian Government. I've heard all kinds of things out of the Iranian regime about this package. The international community, the six powers on behalf of the international community, has made a very good offer to the Iranians. It's an offer that would allow them to have civil nuclear power. It's an offer that would bring other benefits to Iran, but Iran has got to suspend its enrichment activity, which was the requirement of the International Atomic Energy Agency's Board of Governors in its resolution a couple of months ago. We're all waiting.

We've made very clear that we need an answer soon. And I would hope that there is going to be an authoritative answer, a definitive answer, one that actually responds to the question, is Iran ready to negotiate, very soon.

QUESTION: If they don't give you any kind of answer through Solana by the Moscow meeting, do you move into the next phrase or are we still waiting for a while?

SECRETARY RICE: Well, we've been very clear that this should take weeks, not months. The patience of the international community is not endless on this issue and the Iranians, of course, are continuing their activities, trying to create facts on the ground and that's also not acceptable. We need an answer. We're prepared to have the diplomacy have some time to work. We understand that it's a serious proposal and that it needs to be taken seriously by the Iranians, but we would certainly hope to hear very soon.

QUESTION: Okay. In North Korea -- a new area -- last week, intelligence officials were warning of an imminent missile test by the North Koreans. You came out and said a test would be considered a provocative act. But it appears the intelligence community is now backing away from that idea. Are you still worried that they're going to test or do we kind of think they might slow down?

SECRETARY RICE: Well, there is no less transparent regime than the North Korean regime and so, I don't think of any of us are going to be in a position to try to predict what they might do. Therefore, what the international community has been doing, the United States, China, Japan, particularly the regional powers, is to say to the North Koreans that this would not be a useful act.

There is a path ahead that the North Koreans could easily take; that is, to return to the six-party talks, to engage in talks about denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula verifiably, and to return to the time that we have in September when we had a six-party framework for moving ahead on several fronts. So that really is the course that the North Koreans should be taking and we hope that it is the course that they intend to take.

QUESTION: What topics do you plan to bring up at the G-8 foreign ministers meeting?

SECRETARY RICE: Well, when we go to the G-8 foreign ministers meeting, of course, we will talk about the regional issues of concern. We'll talk about the Middle East, how to encourage the Hamas Government to accept the Quartet principles so that we can get back on a road toward a negotiation toward two states. We'll talk about the Iranian situation, I'm certain. We'll talk about how the international community can support the new Iraqi Government, the first democratically elected government in Iraq that really now has asked the international community for its support and I think the G-8 can make a firm statement about that.

We should talk about Afghanistan and how we can support Afghanistan. We should also talk about democracy and the importance of democratic development, whether it is in Russia itself, where we hope that Russia would enhance its commitment to democratic development, but also in places like Belarus and places that have yet to see a democratic future. And so it's a broad and important agenda. I look forward to meeting with my foreign minister colleagues.

QUESTION: Well, thank you.

SECRETARY RICE: Thank you very much.

2006/T17-6


Released on June 28, 2006

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