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Interview With CNN

Secretary Condoleezza Rice
New York, New York
August 11, 2006

QUESTION: (Off mic.)

SECRETARY RICE: We have heard from the government of Lebanon that they also believe that this is a resolution that can serve their interests. In fact, the interests of both the Israelis and the Lebanese now is to end the large-scale violence and to begin to lay a foundation for peace. And I believe that you will see both governments accept this. They have to go through a cabinet meeting as well. The Israelis have said they have to have a cabinet meeting; so do the Lebanese. But I would expect that we're going to have acceptance of this resolution by both governments once it is voted in the U.N., which should happen tonight.

QUESTION: (Off mic.)

SECRETARY RICE: Well, let's remember that the parties to this cessation of hostilities will be the Lebanese government and the government of Israel. Hezbollah, of course, has ministers in the Lebanese cabinet and we have been working with the government of Lebanon, and assuming that the government of Lebanon is making sure that all parties represented in its government will abide by the cease-fire.

But let's remember that we have a democratically elected government of Lebanon whose territory is at issue here, and a democratically elected government of Israel whose territory is at issue here. And when they accept this, we expect that there is going to be adherence to the cessation.

QUESTION: (Off mic.)

SECRETARY RICE: Well, Wolf, it has not ever been the expectation that the disarmament of Hezbollah is going to be undertaken by a foreign force. The obligation to disarm Hezbollah under Taif and under Resolution 1559 is an obligation of the Lebanese government. They will receive whatever assistance they need.

But let's remember that this force has first and foremost an obligation not to allow a return to the status quo ante, which means that armed groups, arms, cannot operate again in the south of Lebanon, it means that the border area between the Lebanon and Israel has to be secure. And, in fact, at the request of the government of Lebanon, there will also be a need to make sure that arms cannot enter the country illegally. Because one of the problems that has been there is that you've had arms entering illegally that are not going to the armed forces of Lebanon but to unauthorized armed groups.

So this force has a big mandate, it has a robust mandate. It has a mandate that will allow it to defend itself and to defend that mandate. But it has never been the expectation that this force is going to disarm Hezbollah. That will have to be done by the Lebanese.

QUESTION: (Off mic.)

SECRETARY RICE: I think, Wolf, there's some confusion here. The question of what the force decides or is asked to do and what chapter this resolution is under, those are two different issues. This force has always been intended to create security in the south, to secure the borders, to make sure the arms embargo works, to accompany the Lebanese armed forces so they can take control of their own territory.

And I would encourage people to read the mandate of this force. It is first of all under a resolution that says that Lebanon constitutes a threat to international peace and security. That is language right out of the robust elements of Chapter 7. It is also the case that this force has a very firm mandate to defend itself and to defend its mandate. In other words, to resist those who would try to keep this force from doing its job.

Chapter 7 is very often used when a government is not prepared to accept the force. Lebanon is prepared to accept this force. But this is an absolutely robust mandate. This, by the way, is what helped the Israeli government. They were concerned earlier about the mandate. After we talked about this enhanced mandate in the revised resolution, I think the government of Israel saw that it met their needs.

QUESTION: (Off mic.)

SECRETARY RICE: The return of the Israeli soldiers should be unconditional. And that has been stated in numerous documents. It's stated in this document.

There is a sensitive issue about Lebanese prisoners. But I want to be very clear. There isn't a linkage here and there is no prisoner exchange that is even envisioned in this resolution.

QUESTION: (Off mic.)

SECRETARY RICE: I don't think, Wolf, that anybody believes that an American on-the-ground presence would be a stabilizing force, under the circumstances in Lebanon. But the President has said that we may be able to provide some enabling support, logistical support, planning support. We will be talking with the U.N. people about what might be needed. And I'm quite certain that the United States will try and support in whatever way we can and in whatever way is appropriate.

QUESTION: (Off mic.)

SECRETARY RICE: Thank you very much, Wolf.

2006/T20-2



Released on August 11, 2006

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