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Interview With Zain Verjee of CNN

Secretary Condoleezza Rice
Istanbul, Turkey
November 3, 2007

QUESTION: President Musharraf has just declared a state of emergency and is imposing martial law. What's your reaction?

SECRETARY RICE: Well, first of all, the situation is still unfolding. I have heard from authoritative sources, Pakistani television, apparently, that there will be a state of emergency imposed. We've not seen President Musharraf yet or heard a statement from him.

Obviously, as we've said before, the United States would not support extra-constitutional measures and we would hope that whatever happens that there will be a quick return to a constitutional path. And we would urge everyone to be restrained and to avoid violence.

QUESTION: Have you spoken to Musharraf?

SECRETARY RICE: I've spoken to President Musharraf over the last several days and our Ambassador has been in constant contact with President Musharraf and members of the Pakistani Government, and so have other high-ranking officials.

QUESTION: Did he give you any indication that he would definitively move forward with this --

SECRETARY RICE: Well, let me not characterize our conversations. We've been very clear that the United States supports only constitutional means to deal with whatever circumstances Pakistan finds itself in.

QUESTION: So the U.S. has warned General Musharraf against making a move like this? General Fallon, only yesterday, dissuaded him from doing the same, but he's still gone ahead and done it. Is this a bit of a slap in the face?

SECRETARY RICE: I understand that there are difficult circumstances in Pakistan, but we've been very clear that extra-constitutional means is not the way, would not be the way to deal with difficult circumstances. But again, the situation is just unfolding. I think we should wait for that. But anything that takes Pakistan off the democratic path, off the path of civilian rule, is a step backward and is highly regrettable.

QUESTION: And it doesn't bode well for free and fair elections, which is what you've been pushing for so hard.

SECRETARY RICE: Well, I certainly hope that the intention is to have free and fair elections. We have been told that Pakistan will stay on the path to free and fair elections. We expect that to happen. The international community expects that to happen. And a return to the constitutional order as quickly as possible would permit free and fair elections. And I think we very much should focus on the need to have those elections go forward.

QUESTION: Do you trust Musharraf? Do you trust that he's committed to that process? Because this move is contrary to everything that you've worked for and everything that he's said.

SECRETARY RICE: Well, we expect that that pledge to hold free and fair elections is going to be upheld.

QUESTION: So you do trust -- you think he's a man of his word?

SECRETARY RICE: We expect that it is going to be upheld. And it is our policy, it is our view, and we've communicated very clearly to the Pakistanis that the holding of free and fair elections is an absolute necessity.

QUESTION: He has removed the judge again, the chief justice of the supreme court, Iftikhar Chaudhry, and is appointing a new chief justice -- another bad sign?

SECRETARY RICE: Well, as I said, the situation is still underway. I don't want to comment on details until I've actually had a chance to review them myself. But anything that is extra-constitutional, anything that takes Pakistan off the democratic path, off the path of civilian rule, is a very big problem.

QUESTION: What's your next step?

SECRETARY RICE: Well, we will wait to see what the extent of this is. We've been very clear, too, that we would hope that everyone would act with restraint. There really should not be violence, there should not be activity that will disturb calm, because it's a difficult time for Pakistan. But we will wait to see what the extent of all of this is, but I can't emphasize strongly enough that the United States does not support an extra-constitutional set of measures.

QUESTION: Let's talk about Turkey. Do you support targeted military strikes by the Turks into northern Iraq onto PKK bases, and will the U.S. join them?

SECRETARY RICE: Well, we've had very good discussions -- I've had good discussions with the Turks when I was in Ankara. We then had a trilateral discussion -- Iraq and Turkey today. Everybody understands that this PKK terrorism has to be dealt with and it needs to stop. It has been there for quite a long time; it's not a new factor. But because the United States believes that we have certain obligations given the liberation of Iraq, this new Iraqi Government believes that it has certain obligations.

What we're focusing on is how we might all take effective action against the PKK to --

QUESTION: And would that mean -- would that translate into military action?

SECRETARY RICE: Well, effective action means that you're actually trying to deal with the infrastructure of terrorism. But you want to do this in a way that doesn't compromise our other major goal, which is to have a unified and secure and stable Iraq. That's in Turkey's interest, too. I think it's remarkable that even as we're talking about the PKK problem, we sit in Turkey at what has been a very successful neighbors ministerial hosted by Turkey, because Turkey knows how important it is to have a stable Iraq.

QUESTION: You're going to Israel and to the Palestinian territories next. Have you issued any invitations to come to Annapolis, and what do you need to achieve on this trip to make it is a successful one?

SECRETARY RICE: Well, we haven't issued invitations and I think it'll be a little while before we do.

QUESTION: When will you do that? (Laughter.)

SECRETARY RICE: They'll be in the mail soon enough.

QUESTION: Personalized. (Laughter.)

SECRETARY RICE: Personalized, of course. But the important thing is to make certain that the meeting is well-prepared. I suspect that this will not be the last effort that I will have to make to prepare the meeting, because the parties are moving and they are moving together. This is a very delicate time. They are addressing issues that they have not addressed in almost seven years now. They are, I think, coming to the realization, as Minister Livni said, that Annapolis is an event but it's not the only event; there has to be a day after Annapolis as well, where they continue to seek a solution and a Palestinian state.

So this all has to be very carefully put together. And when I feel that we've gotten to the point, the President and I can talk and then we can issue invitations.

QUESTION: A federal judge has approved issuing a subpoena for you to testify in the case of an Israeli lobbyist from AIPAC accused of spying. Will you comply with that?

SECRETARY RICE: Well, obviously, I'm going to cooperate with our legal system. But I can't -- I don't want to comment on an ongoing legal matter.

QUESTION: But were you surprised by this?

SECRETARY RICE: I'm not going to comment further on this issue.

QUESTION: And finally, as you know, Laura Bush has expressed a desire for you to run as a presidential candidate, and you've ruled it out. But I'm curious; do you think that Laura Bush should run for any kind of political office? She's the most popular Republican in the state of Texas and there's a senate seat open.

SECRETARY RICE: Well, I think Laura Bush can do whatever she'd like, but I'm not going to commit my -- our First Lady to a --

QUESTION: But do you think --

SECRETARY RICE: She would be terrific at whatever she wants to do. And I do just want to say something. She has been a tremendous asset for us in diplomacy. The work that she did when she went to the Middle East to talk about breast cancer awareness, in a place where it's still a hidden subject in a lot of places, was just extraordinary. The standing up for Aung San Suu Kyi and the opposition and the democratic forces in Burma has been terrific. She's a wonderful partner for me and she represents the United States beautifully when she goes abroad.

QUESTION: So she'd make a good politician?

SECRETARY RICE: I’m not going to try to commit her to --

QUESTION: Future Secretary of State. (Laughter.)

SECRETARY RICE: Well, I'll tell you what; she's great at whatever she's done.

QUESTION: Okay, we'll leave it at that. Thank you very much, as always.

SECRETARY RICE: Thank you very much.

2007/T18-5



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