20 January 2006
No Truce with al-Qaida or Osama bin Laden Possible, Cheney Says
Vice president criticizes Iran, expresses support for pro-democracy efforts
Washington -- The Bush administration rejected an alleged truce offering from Osama bin Laden after the Arab television network al-Jazeera broadcast an audiotape January 19 purportedly made by the al-Qaida leader.
“We do not negotiate with terrorists,” said Vice President Cheney in an appearance on Fox television the same day.
“Not only have they struck here in the United States, but we’ve had attacks all over the world in places like Madrid, in Casablanca, and Istanbul, and Bali, and Jakarta. This is not an organization that sits down and signs a truce. I think you have to destroy them.”
Because this is the first time bin Laden has been heard from in more than a year, Cheney said it would be important to determine not only when the tape was made, but if it is “something pieced together from the past.”
The tape contains threats of further violence against the United States. The vice president said that he believes problems with al-Qaida would continue even without bin Laden.
“We see ample evidence of continued plotting against the United States,” he said. “We continue to work aggressively against the organization – I think with considerable success. But I think we have to assume that the threat is going to continue for a considerable period of time.”
Cheney said the counterterrorism actions taken by the Bush administration have prevented terrorist incidents in the United States since September 11, 2001, attacks in New York and Washington.
“You cannot, obviously, make any promises that it won’t happen again in the future. … But the fact of the matter is, we’ve done some very good work at interrupting the activities of the enemy, of disrupting proposed plots, of capturing and killing al-Qaida,” he said.
Nonetheless, Cheney said, it is important for people everywhere to maintain their guards and not become complacent about the risk from terrorists.
In a January 19 interview with CNBC television, the vice president said the United States continues to use diplomatic means to halt Iran’s pursuit of nuclear weapons and expressed concern about “outrageous” statements made by Iran’s current president, Mahmud Ahmadi-Nejad, calling for the destruction of Israel. He criticized the current political system in Iran, under which Ahmadi-Nejad was elected, as one in which no one can run for national office without the permission of unelected senior clerics who also have been “staunch supporters” of terrorist groups like Hezbollah.
“One of the more hopeful things about the situation in Iran,” Cheney said, “is that you’ve got a whole, younger generation that is very interested in the West and … finds the current theocracy that governs Iran distasteful, would like to see a change in their own government.” The United States and other nations are supportive of movement toward true democracy in Iran, he said.
The present Iranian government, he said, needs to change its policies if it wants “be treated by the international community as a full member of the world community.”
For additional information on U.S. policy, see Response to Terrorism.
(Distributed by the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site: http://usinfo.state.gov)
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