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Interview With NBC News

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

QUESTION: Madame Secretary, you've gotten an agreement on this resolution but there's no timetable. It's a framework for a cease-fire but it's not a cease-fire. What makes you think that there really will be a cessation of hostilities?

SECRETARY RICE: Well, the cessation of hostilities will go into being, we believe, the Israeli cabinet has to consider this, the Lebanese cabinet has to consider this (inaudible) but both sides are anxious to see a cessation of the hostilities of the kind that have led to so much suffering for civilians, the rocket attacks against Israel, the strategic bombing and aerial attacks. And so I fully believe that when these governments have adopted this, the cessation of hostilities will go into effect.

QUESTION: But who's to enforce this? You had said repeatedly that the U.N. force that's there on the ground isn't adequate to enforce this. Why all of a sudden are -- is the United States willing to accept that that same UN force will be able to enforce this?

SECRETARY RICE: Well, it's a different UN force, Andrea, that will be coming in. The force that is going to be coming in has the label UNIFIL. There's no doubt about it. It's an extension of that force. But it is, as Prime Minister Siniora said in his speech in Rome, a force that is dramatically enhanced in terms of mandate and numbers and capabilities and equipment. And so this is a force that is able, accompanying the Lebanese armed forces, to help the Lebanese government reestablish control of its territory -- because, after all, what caused this was a vacuum in the south -- and then to monitor and to indeed defend the mandate that it's been given. This is a very robust mandate for this force.

QUESTION: When will the force go in? Could you tell us tonight how long it will take to get this force in?

SECRETARY RICE: I know that Secretary General Annan is already talking to countries about troop contributions. It's going to be a large force. It needs to be a force that's several-fold larger than the force that is there now. So there will need to be troop contributions. But I expect that it will happen just as soon as everyone can get the troops organized, because --

QUESTION: Days? Weeks?

SECRETARY RICE: Well, I can't give a timeline. I think there has to be a troop contributor conference. We believe and would hope that the cessation of hostilities that has been -- the kind of attacks that have been so hard on civilians can stop relatively soon and then this force can be organized. But I would expect that it would not be -- would not certainly be in the matter of months.

QUESTION: Who is going to disarm Hezbollah?

SECRETARY RICE: Well, the Lebanese government has a responsibility both under the Taif accords signed in Saudi Arabia in 1989 and under Resolution 1559 to disarm Hezbollah.

QUESTION: But the Lebanese government has never had the strength to disarm Hezbollah. Why should it now have the strength? Why do you think it has the will?

SECRETARY RICE: Well, just look what the Lebanese government has gained in these last few days. They now have a UN support and UN
troop support to extend their authority throughout the country, to extend their forces into the south of the country to close this vacuum that has allowed the rise of a state within a state. And I think the very firm attention now and urgent attention of the international community to help them really now execute Resolution 1559. To be truthful, it wasn't executed after it was passed. Now there's going to have to be an insistence that Resolution 1559 is fully implemented.

QUESTION: This resolution still says that Israel can defend itself. Can't Israel call attacks on Hezbollah positions defense not offense and still continue firing?

SECRETARY RICE: Well, everybody understands that, of course, the Israelis have to have the right to defend themselves if attacked. But Hezbollah is supposed to cease all attacks and Israel its offensive operations. And so this cessation of hostilities, I don't want to be overly optimistic here. Of course, there may be some skirmishes. But the large-scale violence is going to stop when these governments have signed on. That's a big win for the humanitarian situation, for the civilians.

This force has got to come in so that, as it deploys, Israeli forces withdraw. And you're going to have a fundamentally different situation in the south. And that is going to be good for the stability of Lebanon and it's going to be good for the stability of the region.

QUESTION: And finally, do you have any guarantee that Iran and Syria won't interfere with this? Will they, in fact, support it?

SECRETARY RICE: Well, I certainly hope that everyone is using all of their influence with Iran and with Syria to make sure that they do not interfere. There are measures that should help. For instance, there is an arms embargo. So that now if you are transferring weaponry that is not authorized by the government of Lebanon, you're in violation of a Security Council resolution. And clearly, there will have to be work with the Lebanese to be able to enforce their borders.

But the important point here is that everyone should now support this resolution, support the Lebanese government as it extends its authority, and give Lebanon and the people of Israel a chance for peace.

QUESTION: Thank you very much, Madame Secretary.



Released on August 11, 2006

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