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American Forces Press Service

Violence Won't Stop Iraqi Power Turnover

By Rudi Williams
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, April 18, 2004 - It was probably predictable that insurgents would try to prevent the transfer of power to Iraqis on June 30, National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice said on ABC's "This Week" today.

The insurgents "been aggressive and violent in the last couple of weeks," Rice told host George Stephanopoulos. "We're responding to that. We're also responding politically by working with the people on the ground, including local leaders and members of the governing council."

She said the people the coalition is working with don't want Iraq thrown "back into the dead of night in which it existed under Saddam Hussein."

Rice also talked about the U.N. role in Iraq's political transition. She pointed out that U.N. special envoy Lakhdar Brahimi has laid out "quite realistic plan of how to get to an interim government that can be a governing structure for Iraq until those elections can be held."

Rice noted that the United Nations isn't the panacea, but it can play an important, central role. "And it's not a matter of what one gives up," she said. "It's a matter of how we work with the various parties so that we can move Iraq along this political path.

She rejected the idea as "nave" that "these thugs would not be attacking" if Iraq were under a U.N., instead of a coalition, flag.

"Let's look at the fact that in August (2003) they went after the U.N. . These same regime loyalists and perhaps foreign terrorists attacked the United Nations in a way that the United Nations had not been attacked really in its history, killing the special representative of the secretary-general, Sergio (Vieira) de Mello. So the U.N. doesn't somehow protect you from people who are determined to stop the Iraqi transition."

Rice said she thinks U.N. Security Council will put forth another resolution "at the right time."

And "we are in discussions with NATO, [and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and Secretary of State Colin Powell] have been in discussions with NATO about how NATO might play a role. But this all has to be done in the right time," Rice observed.

"The liberation of Iraq was done," she stressed, "by a coalition in which clearly the United States, the most powerful country on Earth, the largest military force on Earth, the most capable force on Earth, was the primary element. That should be of no surprise to anyone."

However, she noted, "the rebuilding of Iraq is an international effort."

"I think there are going to be some changes," Rice said. "We know that the Spanish have been talking about pulling their forces out. We know that there are others who are going to have to assess how they see the risk. But we have a vibrant and robust coalition on the ground."

Rice said President Bush calls the war on terrorism "broad." In addition to Afghanistan, that means "going to the source of the problem, the Middle East."

"We're going to deal with the circumstances that produced the al Qaedas of the world," she said. "The only answer to that is that you have to have values emerge there of freedom and liberty, which are the best answer to the kind of hatred that we saw on September 11th."

She addressed the issue of swapping American soldiers being held hostage for Iraqi prisoners. She said "the worst thing the United States can do" is to give "an idea to terrorists and to people who want to intimidate that somehow their intimidation techniques are going to be rewarded."

"We're looking at what we can do," Rice said. "The people on the ground are doing everything they can to find a way to deal with the hostages. This is an attack by regime loyalists and some foreign terrorists on a process that is under way in Iraq. They want to intimidate us, they want to intimidate our allies, they want to intimidate the Iraqis. They can't be allowed to have that happen.

"The president of the United States doesn't negotiate with terrorists," she emphasized.

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