The Largest Security-Cleared Career Network for Defense and Intelligence Jobs - JOIN NOW

Military

Press Conference: Maj.Gen Kevin Bergner, Mirembe Nantongo, September 19, 2007

Multi-National Force-Iraq

PRESS CONFERENCE:

DATE: SEPTEMBER 19, 2007

TRANSCRIBED BY: SOS INTERNATIONAL, LTD.

DAVID CRONIN

PARTICIPANTS:

MAJ.GEN. KEVIN BERGNER

MIREMBE NANTONGO

REPORTERS:

James AlessioVinci

Laila Fedel

Kim Gamel

Ned Parker

Larry Kaplow

*REP = Reporters 1-5

*INT = Interpreter

BEGINNING OF INTERVIEW

GEN:Asalamalakum. Good afternoon everyone. This afternoon I’m pleased to be joined by Ms. Mirembe Nantongo, spokesperson for the U.S. Embassy here. She came to Iraq last month, following service in Qatar. She is already making an important contribution to our work in support of the government of Iraq. So we're pleased to have her here with us, and I suspect many of you have already met her. I have several items to update you on, and then Mirembe has a few remarks as well. Our operations continue to put pressure on al-Qaida networks in Iraq by reducing their safe havens and operating bases. Coalition and Iraqi forces also continue to successfully target their leadership. On August 31, a senior leader of al-Qaida in Iraq, Abu Yaqub al-Masri, was killed during an operation to detain him west of Tarmiya. He was also known as Zakkariya, or "the doctor." He had been the senior al-Qaida terrorist in Anbar province before becoming the emir of Tadji. He had then run al-Qaida's terrorist operations in and around Baghdad. He directed attacks in Baghdad designed to incite sectarian violence. And in that regard, we know he was the primary architect behind the November 23 car bomb attacks in Sadr City that killed over 181 Iraqi citizens and wounded nearly 250 more. He was also an associate of Abu Nuwar, the former top al-Qaida terrorist in Baghdad who directed car bombings here and who is currently in custody. Abu Yaqub was originally from Egypt. Prior to coming to Iraq, he had also fought in Afghanistan, and he was yet another of the foreign terrorists operating as part of al-Qaida in Iraq. Coalition and Iraqi forces are also accomplishing a wide range of operations, in concert with Iraqi citizens and government agencies. And I want to summarize just a few of those for you this afternoon. In Baqubah, we have talked about the joint efforts to continue to reestablish essential services throughout the city. Now, in addition to food and medical supplies, a new Baqubah gas station is in operation, and it has received its initial shipment of diesel. And the old Bakuba gas station also receives significant push this weekend, including benzene, kerosene and diesel. In Tarmiya, over a thousand citizens have now volunteered to join the Iraqi security forces. Some 500 citizens reported to the Tarmiya police recruiting drive there last week. North of Fallujah, a combined patrol of Iraqi and coalition forces found and cleared a weapons cache based on a tip from a local Iraqi. The cache included 87 high explosive munitions and other explosive devices. This continues the trend of increasing support from Iraqi citizens who are helping increase the overall number of caches found and cleared. South of Baghdad, near ¬Yusufiyah, Iraqi police recruiting drives brought out hundreds of Iraqis who are seeking to serve their local communities. Two drives resulted in over 650 individuals who underwent fitness and literacy tests to join the Iraqi police. Local leaders also attended these recruiting drives to help support their recruits in this effort. And finally, in southern Iraq this past week the An-Nasiriyah water treatment plant in Dhi-Qar province was completed in a partnership between the government of Iraq and the coalition. This project delivers 10,000 cubic meters of clean water per hour to the 550,000 residents of Nasiriyah and four additional communities in Dikar province. It culminates three years of hard work by both governments, and is the largest water project undertaken in Iraq so far. We also continue to see effective operations by the Iraqi security forces, many on a unilateral basis. They are also increasingly the first line of defense and are suffering losses three times that of the coalition forces. During the past week, the vigilance of an Iraqi army patrol thwarted a suicide bomber near Mosul. When the patrol noticed the individual suspiciously approaching their position, they warned the individual, fired warning shots, and then the suicide bomber detonated his vest, with no injuries to Iraqi citizens or to the security forces. I had a chance to personally visit Mosul this past weekend and gained a first-hand appreciation of how much progress has been made there. Today there are thousands of police on duty and a strong police chief in place. Two Iraqi army divisions are working, uh, hand-in-hand with each other and with the police, which is a big difference from where I was 18 months ago when I last left Mosul. The brigade commander there, Colonel Twitty, tells me that there, that the second and third Iraqi army divisions now rank among the best he has ever seen. So there's no question that Moslauis want to see further improvement in the security situation, and they are still under attack by terrorists. But they have found new confidence in the police and army forces there, and are now served by courageous leaders on both the political and security levels. While Iraq remains a violent place, beset by many problems and challenges, it is a violent, it is a less violent place than it was last winter. Since the surge of operations began thirteen weeks ago, the number of overall security incidents throughout Iraq has been on a downward trend, and is now at the lowest level of incidence since March of 2006. The total number of attacks on a weekly basis against Iraqi citizens, Iraqi security forces, and the coalition forces have declined for the eighth straight week. This is the longest sustained downward trend since January of 2004. This continues to be a tough fight, and it is likely to remain so, as we have from the terrorists’ barbaric attacks in the last week. We continue to keep pressure on the extremist networks and to build on the tactical momentum that our soldiers, the Iraqi people, and their security forces have fought so hard to achieve. I'd now like to turn to my State Department colleague, and, uh, Mirembe invite you to make some initial remarks.

NANTONGO:Asalamalakum. It’s me, Mirembe Nantongo. Is that good? (Speaking in Arabic)

INT:…Mmm, I hope we get to know the others soon. I have a few words that I’d like to read first. Then we’ll move to the questions. I’d like first to talk about the Al-Nasir Square incident that happened last, uhm, Sunday. This incident is, uh, really a tragic one, and many Iraqis died. As we said before, we feel sorry for this loss. And we take all this seriously. As you know Secretary of State Rice phone-called Prime Minister al-Maliki, so that she could express her sorrow and deep condolences, and also to affirm to his Excellency that we will work together with Iraqi authorities so that we can investigate. And we actually started a large investigation, and is, both, uh, the, uh, the Iraqi government and American government are working, uh, closely in this incident, and also to address the work of the security companies that work in Iraq. Again, the United States expresses deep condolences to the casualties in this incident and also renews its commitment to make a comprehensive and transparent investigation that will lead to a good cooperation between the two governments. Thank you.

GEN:Shukran. I know that some of my, uh, western colleagues did not have their earpiece in, and unfortunately we didn’t warn you ahead of time that you needed them in. But I’m sure we’ll follow up on any specific questions you have. So James, we’ll start with you.

JAMES: Um, I am James …Okay, uhm. There’s been a, uhm, a lockdown on convoys we understand, on State Department convoys, because of the Blackwater incident. And I wonder if you explain why that, uh, lockdown was put in place, or this, this suspension of convoys. How that affects, um, State Department business, especially, out in the PRTs, as well as in Baghdad, and whether other security companies such as Dyncorp or Triple Canopy will be called in to work in place of the, of the Blackwater convoys.

NANTONGO:Um, yes, you’re correct. Uhm. We have, uhm, yesterday and today, again, there, there is no movement of convoys out of the international zone. And all Chief of Mission personnel, this only applies to Chief of Mission personnel, uhm, are restricted to the international zone yesterday and today. This is a decision that we took, uh, the leadership of the Embassy took in consultation with each other and also, um, in consultation with obviously our colleagues in the government of Iraq. Interview of the incident, as you mentioned, and, um, it just is, it's a time for us to sort of sit back and look, look at our security procedures and see how we want to move forward on this whole issue, as we consult with our counterparts in the Iraqi government. It’s a situation, which as I said was in place yesterday and today, um, but it’s one that obviously we will be revisiting on a daily basis.

JAMES: Does this affect the PRTs and other State Department personnel around the country as well as those in Baghdad? And will you be using, um, in Blackwater's stead the other contract holders, which I think are Dyncorp and Triple Canopy, to do some of your work?

NANTONGO:Um, the, our personnel in the PRTs, um, are the, the movement, the restriction of movement only applies only to the Baghdad area. And, um, in general, the, the, the, the personnel in the PRTs, uhm, today I believe are going about their business, uhm, in a reduced manner, but not, uh, as restricted as we are. And again, this is something that we will be revisiting on a daily basis.

GEN:If you’d just identify yourself. I know many of you, but…

ALESSIO:Sure. AlessioVinci with CNN. How are you? Um, two questions. First of all, this morning the head of the Baghdad security plan in a news conference here said that there had been a number of incidents prior to this incident here over the past few months. So I was wondering whether, A, you were made aware of these incidents officially by the Iraqi government. Was there, was there any official protest, and if so, what was, what steps were taken uh, to, uh, uh for those, were taken? And, and, the second incident is, the second question is could you tell us if Blackwater was actually operating with an Interior Ministry license here or was it under DOD contract only? And I understand that these were contracts that set up before the Iraqi government was, took over here. But I mean, what was the situation before this incident? Does Blackwater has a Interior Ministry license or not?

NANTONGO:Uhm.

ALESSIO:As far as we know.

NANTONGO:Uh, right. And th…this as I’ve said on I think on several occasions to many of you to your great frustration, uhm, is one of the issues that is under discussion between us and, uh, our colleagues in the Iraqi government. Uhm, it’s, it’s not as simple as you know people would like it to appear. Uhm, there are many different ramifications, uh, to this whole case, and, um, we’re seeking information on many different levels. And this is one, um, at which I don't have an answer for you at the moment. Uhm, what was your first question again?

ALESSIO:The, um, the head of the Baghdad security plan this morning said there had been several incidents before this one over the past few months. Whether you were made of these incidents and whether you took any action?

NANTONGO:Uhm, obviously I can’t speak to any specific incident, um, but yes I mean, any time that there is any kind of, uh, an interaction between our personnel and, uh, the civilian population in, uhm, you know, in a matter that results in, um, in negative results obviously we are, we are made aware of that and we do have our channels of dealing with these issues with our counterparts in the Iraqi government. But, uhm, I should say that we're working with the Iraqi government very closely on, uh, establishing, uh, ways to move forward on this issue in the larger sense, uhm, because obviously there, you have incident by incident, but you do have the larger issue that need to be dealt with. And this is something that, uhm, we're going to be looking at very closely in, in cooperation, in very close cooperation with the Iraqi authorities.

ALESSIO:The Iraqi government seems to suggest that the larger issue is an issue, of um, the larger issue is an issue of accountability. So are you willing to eventually respond to that request and make these private security people, uh, accountable to what they're doing, especially responsible in front of Iraqi law?

NANTONGO:As I said, we are in, in discussions, very close discussions, with our Iraqi counterparts who will be looking at a range of issues in this, uh, in this area. And one of them obviously will include accountability mechanisms. Yes.

LAILA:Um, Laila Fedel (PH) from the Qwachi (PH) newspapers.

NANTONGO:Hey, Laila, sorry about lunch. I was supposed to have lunch with Laila today.

LAILA:Uhm, first I just wanted to ask. I'm a little confused about the version of events that was released from the U.S. Embassy. Uhm, from what I understood, in the release at least, there was a car bomb and then there was an exchange of fire?

NANTONGO:Yeah, well you see this is…

LAILA:Is there some clarification? Because the witnesses, I just want to tell you what the witnesses told me. Five different witnesses that didn't know each other said, they were stopped, one car was still inching forward tried to stop, and fi-, they started shooting, these private security contractors. So I really don't understand what happened?

NANTONGO:Right. No, it’s a good question Laila. And it, it goes to our original point of the dangers of speaking about an investigation as it is going on. Because you have, you know, you just have so many different versions, and part of the point of the investigation is to try and reconcile the different versions and arrive at the actual facts – what actually happened in this incident. So this is what the investigation is about. And if you don't mind, I'm just not going to address details of what actually happened, because of this very, uhm, problem. Is that all right?

LAILA:And just, are the contractors that were involved in the incident in the country?

NANTONGO:Uh, yes. Yes?

REP1:Reporter asks question in Arabic

INT:A question from an Iraqi newspaper. What is the side that finances and supplies this, this company? This is the first question. The second question we’ve heard that, uh, there is a ban for the, first, American civilians to go out of the international zone. Is that true?

NANTONGO:Responding in Arabic.

INT:Yes, this is true. As for the first question, I don't know. I could look up the information, but it's a private company. And, uh, who's financing it, I don't know.

REP1:Reporter asks question in Arabic.

INT:Do you know? Who does it belong to? The company, who does it belong to?

NANTONGO:Responding in Arabic.

INT:What do you mean?

REP1:Reporter asks question in Arabic.

INT:To what country does it belong to?

NANTONGO:Responding in Arabic.

INT:Oh, it’s an American country. It’s an American company. As for the second question, uhm…yeah, so, there is a ban, but this is actually a temporary thing. We're, we're reviewing, uh, the whole thing so that we can take a, make a decision. And, and we'll see...we'll see how things will…will go. And of course, we coordinate all this with the, um, Iraqi government.

REP2:Marat and SK Japanese TV (PH). Excuse me. Do you think that the license of the security company personnel’s will be stopped or not? If your answer will be yes, will this a stop be temporary or, uh, will be freeze forever? Is the Blackwater company will be asked to leave Iraq or not? If the answer would be yes, when it will depart Iraq? Is there any specific time for the departure? And are the personnel of the security company will be judged by an Iraqi court or not? Thank You.

NANTONGO:These are all very germane questions. Uhm…but…uhm…there were very many of them. Uhm, the question of, uh, I think I addressed the question of the license. This is one of the issues that we are looking into, and I don’t have any information for you on that point right now. Uhm, concerning the company's presence in Iraq, uhm, as I said, these are issues that are forming part of the discussions we are currently having with our Iraqi counterparts. And we're coordinating very, very close with them and, you know, this is part of government-government discussions at this point. And I don't...can't really, uh, go any further than that at this moment. Yes?

KIM:Hi, Mirembe, it’s Kim Gamel with AP. I haven’t a chance to meet you yet.

NANTONGO:Hey Kim. How are you?

KIM:Good. How are you?

NANTONGO:All right.

KIM:I’m going to ask you a couple specific questions and then a broader one if that's okay. Um, I realize that you can't comment on the specifics of the investigation, but initially, the Embassy did say a car bomb was involved, and, uhm, and that there was a shooting.

NANTONGO:Those two are…yes…and yes we did say that. And that is accurate

KIM:That is accurate. Were the, uhm, were the State Department personnel in a meeting or were they in a motorcade when the incident happened?

NANTONGO:I can’t. Sorry, Kim.

KIM:Okay. Gotcha. Can you tell us how many contractors were involved?

NANTONGO:Uh, no. Afraid not.

KIM:Okay. And then you have expressed condolences for the casualties…

NANTONGO:Yes, indeed.

KIM:But the U.S. government has not come out to confirm any figures yet, and we’re getting conflicting figures.

NANTONGO:Again, I know. And again, this is part of the whole investigation. You have many conflicting numbers out there, and what we want to is get at the facts before we, um. So we're really warning anybody against jumping to conclusions. We really need the time to look at this very closely with our Iraqi counterparts.

KIM:Okay. And one you might be able to answer. Um, you talked about the PRTs in the provinces, but can you give us a general idea of how this lockdown is affecting the Embassy operations overall? For example, in Baghdad, now that people can’t go out to these projects.

NANTONGO:Right. I mean obviously yes, it, it has a significant impact on our operations. Uhm, but you know there are other imperatives at play here. Uhm. We can't really move... I mean we need...well, it's a situation that we're going to be revisiting as I said on a daily basis. And yes it does have an impact on our operations. But, uh, hopefully we will move beyond this fairly soon.

REP3:Asking question in Arabic.

INT:Question from Hora TV. The Iraqi government says that according to the Iraqi law, it can sue and accuse those contractors, while the Embassy said that those contractors have immunity and the Iraqi government has no right to sue those contractors.

NANTONGO:Sentence in Arabic. Uhm, again, this is an issue that, um, is extremely complicated. I mean, there are many, uh, many questions of jurisdiction. There are many questions of legalities, many questions of rules and regulations, and it’s very difficult until the facts on the ground are actually established. It’s very difficult to know exactly what rules, what regulations, what laws are going to applied. So, again, these are issues that we are going to be discussing in close coordination with our colleagues in the Iraqi government to see which, you know, the best way to move forward. But at this point, I can't give you a definitive answer on that. All right, who hasn't asked a question yet? I think you.

NED:Hi, I’m Ned Parker with the L.A. Times. Nice to meet you.

NANTONGO:Hey Ned. How are you?

NED:Very well. Yourself? Um. Two questions. One, I just wanted to be sure. Are the regional centers that, that um, in Hillah, I believe what Mosul, uhm, ¬Arbil and Al Basrah. Are they impacted or affected by this travel ban in anyway? Uhm. And then the second…go on.

NANTONGO:Well yes. Yesterday was, uhm, in fact, um, I need to check. Sorry. Yes, yesterday it was a countrywide ban. I’d have to get back to you on what it is today.

NED:Okay, that’d be great. And the other thing. Just because the legal issues are so tricky, uhm, and complicated, I’m wondering if you could narrate us through the challenges that were posed by the, uhm, the shooting in December of the Vice-President Adel Abdul Mahdi’s bodyguard by, uhm, a Blackwater agent who was taken out of the country and I believe hasn't been prosecuted yet. Has there been any compensation given? And why hasn’t anything happened there? If you could explain, that would give some insight in why these things are so complicated.

NANTONGO:Right. Uhm. Uh. I’m afraid I don’t have the institution knowledge to discuss that case with you today. But yes, as you say, very complicated. And certainly, whatever happened in that case will definitely play into the discussions that we have with the Iraqi government. Uhm. I mean as I said we’ll be looking at the whole context, not just incident by incident. Um. I'd have to look into it and again get back to you? I'm sorry on exactly how that case, uh, was resolved. I’m afraid I don’t have that information now. Yes?

REP4:You said that the contractors are still here right now. Are they expected to stay here until the investi…are they expected to stay here until the results of the investigation?

NANTONGO:Uh…I mean certainly they are part of, a very important part of the investigation. And, uhm, yes I see no reason to suppose that they would not be here.

REP4:And have they in the past in other investigations stayed here during the duration of the investigation when they'd gotten the results?

NANTONGO:Again, you’re asking me, you know, about information I don’t have. Sorry. Yes?

JIM:Switch it over to your court General. In recent days, I’m not sure exactly when, there was a pipeline strike in the north. And uhm, I’m wondering…there was a release on this saying that an oil slick was coming down Tigris. I’m wondering, is that at the crossing that was reconstituted at great expense at Al Fatah, which is just north of Ba’iji? Um…and, um, did that interdict, um, the oil exports I understand had resumed in the north? And can you tell us anything about, uh, the severity of that hit? Um, whether, the fires…how long the fires continued, because I understand it did catch fire, as happened a couple years ago up there? And whether, uh, Baghdad, uh, could be threatened, its water supply, because, um, those, those also as I understand sometimes go all the way down and make there way all they way down to Basra.

GEN:Yeah, well, Jim you can appreciate our main focus right now is in the consequence management part of this. And I will take your question on exactly what the implications are going to be for the water supply, uh, and what we think in terms of remediation, how long we think it’s going to take to, to control that situation. Um. And there is still, uh, there is still a good deal of work underway to figure out what the implications also going to be in terms of the availability of…of, uh, of oil. We’re working that with the Ministry of Oil, and there repair teams, and the Ministry of Oil in terms of what the implications are for export, the sustained capability that they had going there. Uh…And let me come back to you on the exact location please. Okay. Yeah, I will follow up with you on exactly where it was.

LARRY:Larry Kaplow with Newsweek. Uhm, a couple of questions. Involved…are there any American law enforcement personnel involved in the investigation. In other words, is it just an investigation by basically the State Department, which is the client, and Blackwater, which is the contractor, and the Iraqi government, which doesn’t appear to have any jurisdiction? Or is there American law enforcement involved because we, because we understand it, there can be ways to prosecute these things in American courts? And, if that...if there is or isn't, are the Blackwater people involved in this case dealing with you directly or are they going through lawyers and intermediaries, or do you have complete access to them?

NANTONGO:Yeah. No, no, no. We do. We have complete access to them. And, actually our Diplomatic Security agents are American law enforcement agents, so yes they’re on the ground and they're participating. Uhm, and MNF-I is, is in on this as well. And, uh, the rest of the State Department. I mean this is not, um, as we have undertaken from the very beginning, we want to undertake this investigation in complete transparency. And we are not condemning…I mean, I hear where you’re coming from, but this is not an un…they are American law enforcement officials, Diplomatic Security agents, and yes they are taking the lead in the investigation.

LARRY:And to follow up, and I know you’re new here, but I...uhm...I, I…you're...I guess I see some naivety in the answer that you don’t under…there’s a lot of complicated legal issues and they have to be understood and researched. Um, these were…

NANTONGO:By lawyers.

LARRY:…actually written, these have been in place for several years now. And as far as I know, they were basically designed by Americans, either through the CPA and others, and then adopted into Iraqi law. So I guess what I’m wondering is actually...what we're seeing is a change in the Embassy's interpretation of these. As we've said, there’ve been many incidents in the past. Uhm. There wasn't talk about trying to research the laws at that point. Isn’t what’s really going on here is the Embassy is taking a new look at the immunity that’s been granted to contractors here, de facto immunity.

NANTONGO:The Embassy, as I have said before taking a look at the whole issue of how personal security details…operations occur in Iraq, and we’re doing this consultation and close coordination with the Iraqi government authorities. I’m not sure…

LARRY:What can you figure out? The American Embassy and the CPA wrote these laws, and they were adopted into Iraqi law. The only thing that seems to be different now is there’s a big public outcry, and you guys are trying to take another look at it.

NANTONGO:Right. It’s…I’m sorry if you can’t take my word for it that it is very complicated and that there are cross-cutting legal issues and jurisdictional issues that really need to be resolved. That is the case, and we're going to work very hard on this one. Yes?

REP5:Asking question in Arabic.

INT:You’ve said that there’s been a gunshot between the convoy but still you haven't said about the helicopter that actually opened fire on the citizens, which led to the explosion of two cars. The explosion that you talked about…this was actually due to the gunshot from the helicopter. Yes, there was…there was a gunshot or gunshots from the helicopter, and the helicopter, they opened fire and this led to the explosion of two cars.

NANTONGO:Again, these are issues of what actually happened during the incident. And, you know, I'm just not going to be discussing what did and didn't happened, what witness said and what witnesses didn't say. It's just...it's not fair to everybody involved. I mean, let the investigation take its course. Let’s get a clear set of facts that we can work with. And then we can know how to proceed from there. Laila...sorry I'm going to go over here.

LAILA:Um, I actually have a question for each of you. One is about the village in Al Shuan for General Bergner. Uhm, the village in Diyalá near Muqdadiyah called Al Shuan, which was apparently taken over by al-Qaida last night and is also under militia attack after twenty to thirty families are apparently taken hostage. A Parliament member said that on, um, Al Arabiyah last night. And so I was wondering if you had any details on what was happening in that village. He appealed for American military help. And then the other question I had was…it seems to me that I'm a little confused because the Iraqi government is being quite forthright about what they think are the facts, nine people killed according to the MOI. Uhm, they have a license at our ministry. And so, I'm a little...I really don't understand why numbers can't be confirmed or at least preliminary understanding of what the incidence was or why they may have been shooting. That would be more clear for us to at least say in a story so our readers can understand what they were responding to. Cuz even the statement that was released I didn’t…I didn’t know how to put it in a way they would understand except that a car bomb was near by. I didn’t know who was shooting at who. So, is there anything to at least counter or temper what the Iraqi government is saying publicly?

NANTONGO:I’m…I can’t speak for the Iraqi government, Laila. I just repeat what I’ve already said. You know…I'm...we can't get into what happened until we know what the facts are. I’m so sorry. Go ahead.

GEN:Laila, I did see the report you're talking about, uhm, and it…it’s a contentious place. It is one where we’re sorting out the facts as to, uh, what militia activity there is and what al-Qaida activity there is. Uhm…and I’ll follow up with you when we get finished today on where we are in responding to the COR members' requests. Thanks.

LARRY:Okay, um, the question I wanted to ask is...I’ve been given, um, just the great deal of attention…um…given, given the great deal of attention to what happened on Sunday. And just from talking with U.S. diplomats who’ve been very...been critical of the State Department's behavior in the past regarding private security contractors, describing a lack of willingness to deal with the issue of security contractors and incidents like this one, which yourself has said have happened before. Would you say that there has been in the past the State Department or the U.S. government has not dealt adequately with this issue in Iraq?

NANTONGO:You know, I wouldn’t go that far. I mean I think the situation is developed to a point where both sides recognize that we need to take a new look at it and that’s what we’re doing.

GEN:We have time for one more question.

REP6:Asks a question in Arabic.

INT:Question…don’t you think that this case could pass just like the other cases, since those who perpetrated were Americans like Abeer, the girl in Mahmudiyah? And would you allow the Iraqi judicial to investigate and judge in this case?

NANTONGO:Uhm. Again, I mean…whatever other incidents…nobody's denying that there are previous, uhm, previous events that are in…relevant in this context. Uh, I think, the point we want to make…Actually I’m going to step back here a little bit and reiterate the points that I started with. That was the last question, right? Uh, which is that we take this very, very seriously. Uh. We regret the loss of life. We are working extremely closely with our Iraqi counterparts to find a solution to this issue, which as you point out, has been one that has come up in the past. Uhm...and we hope that we will be able to come up with a framework that works for everybody in the future.

GEN:I think that was the last question. Cue card says the end. Thank you Mirembe.

NANTONGO:Thank you.

END OF INTERVIEW



NEWSLETTER
Join the GlobalSecurity.org mailing list