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Interview on Fox and Friends With Brian Kilmeade

Secretary Condoleezza Rice
Washington, DC
January 11, 2007

QUESTION: A revised strategy for Iraq laid out by the President of the United States last night. Can it work? Will it work? Where do we go from here? Let's ask the person who will be in charge of implementing all of it, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice joining us right now from the State Department in Washington, DC. Nice to see you again, Madame Secretary.

SECRETARY RICE: Nice to be with you.

QUESTION: Hey, first, some breaking news. It happened overnight at 3:00 a.m. We hear in the Kurdist section of Iraq in Irbil there's been five Iranians detained. Can you tell us anything about this?

SECRETARY RICE: Well, I can't speak to that specific report, but I will just note that the President made very clear last night that we know that Iran is engaged in activities that are endangering our troops, activities that are destabilizing the young Iraqi Government, and that we're going to pursue those who may be involved in those activities. But I can't speak to the specific report.

QUESTION: You know, it's the Iranian technology, as you know -- it provide the shape charges to make the IEDs as lethal as you could possibly imagine and when the President and you go up to Walter Reed and other places and see the damage its done, I imagine it's just time to seek and destroy and that's what the President mentioned last night. He says, "We will seek and destroy networks providing advanced weaponry and training to our enemies in Iraq."

Could that mean going over the border to chase down those who are providing the technology and possibly the training?

SECRETARY RICE: Well, I don't want to speculate on what kinds of operations the United States may be engaged in, but I think you will see that the United States is not going to simply stand idly by and let these activities continue. We had, over the Christmas holidays, information about some Iranians who were engaged in activities. We picked them up. We then told the Iraqi Government about it. Those people have been expelled from the country. And I hope that it was really a message to the Iranians that that kind of activity's not going to be tolerated.

QUESTION: I understand your name came up last night and he said, "Condoleezza Rice will be -- the Secretary of State will be in charge of picking up a reconstruction -- picking out a reconstruction coordinator." Could you tell me who your candidates may be and will that be the announcement in an hour?

SECRETARY RICE: Well, there will be an announcement shortly of that. I think I'll wait and make the announcement after I've had a chance to make a full assessment, but I think that we want very much to have someone who can oversee not just our efforts, but to really be a liaison with the Iraqis on reconstruction, because it's very important that the Iraqis now spend their own funding for reconstruction, for jobs, for the kinds of day-to-day activities that their people are just desperate for. And in order to help them do that, we of course are decentralizing our efforts, diversifying our efforts to work more closely with local and provincial leaders.

But this reconstruction coordinator will be able to make sure that those efforts are well-coordinated inside the U.S. Government, but also with the Iraqis.

QUESTION: You almost heard the collective exhale, I imagine, in Iraq when the President said we're going to start loosening the cuffs and changing, maybe, the rules of engagement when it comes to our troops going into areas we were told to stay away from. Could that include Sadr City and does that mean Muqtada al-Sadr possibly could be arrested or confronted as early as possible?

SECRETARY RICE: Well, the Prime Minister has made clear that there are going to be no areas that are off limits to the security forces, because one of the problems with the last security plan was there was too much political interference with what the forces were trying to do. There were also not enough forces, reliable forces, and so we believe that we have fixed both of those problems in the current plan and that the Iraqis now recognize and, in fact, they have said that there can be no one who is outside of the law. I don't know what that will mean specifically for Sadr, but clearly, anyone who is violating Iraqi laws is going to have to be dealt with.

QUESTION: Madame Secretary, as National Security Advisor, you watched the rise of al-Sadr. Do you personally view him as an enemy of the future of Iraq?

SECRETARY RICE: Well, I certainly think that the activities that the Jaish al Mahdi, the militia attached to the Sadrists is engaged in, is a very serious, serious set of problems for Iraqi stability. And the Iraqis are going to have to deal with that. Now, to be fair to the Iraqis, the Sadrists, the party, ran for and they have seats in the assembly, so they have to be dealt with as a political force. But they also -- if they really do want to have a stable Iraq, if they really do want an Iraq of the kind that people elected them to bring about, then they ought to stop these really dangerous activities and these death squads from going into mixed neighborhoods and acting with vengeance against innocent Iraqis.

QUESTION: I know you were personally let down by the lack of progress in certain areas, some of the individuals. I know the President said last night he is upset about the lack of progress and the activities of certain individuals and maybe some failed prime ministers in the past.

If six months from now, Madame Secretary, there's no crackdown on the militias, there's no new oil law that gives Sunnis some of the revenue and if there is no revisit of the deBaathification law, which clearly has to be revisited, will you start -- begin to throw up your hands and say, you know what, maybe America can't be the only committed party in this race and maybe start backing out?

SECRETARY RICE: Well, America has to be committed because of the enormous stakes in Iraq and enormous stakes not just for the Iraqi people, but for our interests. We have to remember that an Iraq that is a terrorist safe haven in the Middle East would be devastating to our own interests. But I do think that there will be accountability not just by what America thinks the Iraqi Government should be doing, but accountability by the Iraqi people. This is, after all, now a democracy and the Iraqi people are fed up.

QUESTION: True. And so seemed the President last night. And he says, "Our patience and our commitment is not endless." So those are some of the things he has to see happen, for example, for us to feel as though we can commit billions and commit lives, correct?

SECRETARY RICE: That's absolutely right. Because the Iraqi -- the plan in Baghdad will not succeed if the Iraqis are not willing to do the things that they're obligated to do.

But let me just say one other thing, Brian. We also do have other parts to this plan.


SECRETARY RICE: We are engaging local leaders, provincial leaders; they also can be points of success in Iraq, whatever happens in Baghdad. And of course in Anbar, the province that has been the epicenter of activity for al-Qaida, we believe we're making some progress with the local Sheiks and local tribal leaders there who now really want to work to expel al-Qaida.

QUESTION: And we do know in about an hour that you will be announcing the reconstruction coordinator?

SECRETARY RICE: In about an hour I will be announcing reconstruction coordinator, yes.

QUESTION: Between you and I, who is it?

SECRETARY RICE: We will wait for the announcement, but this is a very senior person who's going to do a great job.

QUESTION: All right. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, always great having you on. Thanks for making time for us this morning.



Released on January 11, 2007

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