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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

19 June 2005

Rice Cites Progress in Battle Against Iraqi Insurgency

Increased tips from Iraqis on insurgents a sign of progress, support

By Bernard Chabel
Washington File Special Correspondent

Washington -- Despite continued attacks from insurgents in Iraq, rapid progress in the political arena in that country points to "a strategic breakthrough for the United States, which is to have a different kind of Middle East," Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice says.

In an interview on Fox News Sunday June 19 while she was traveling in the Middle East, Rice said military officials have told her that they are receiving more and more tips from Iraqis on insurgents and insurgent activity. This increased cooperation, Rice said, shows that Iraqis "don't want these so-called insurgents to blow up their children standing at a school" or attack Iraqis who volunteer for police or military service.

The insurgents "are losing the Iraqi people and that's the most important loss you can inflict on an insurgency," Rice said.

Rice also cited the growing capability of the Iraqi military and security forces, noting that the Iraqis handled security for the successful elections in January, are patrolling the border with Syria and are working jointly with coalition forces in and around Baghdad.

As democracy takes hold in Iraq, Rice said on the ABC news program This Week, the recent balloting in Iran "is out of step with the elections being held in the region."

"I think any election in which thousands of people are disqualified by fiat and in which women are disqualified as a class barely deserves to be given that title, particularly in a place that several years ago seemed to be moving in a different direction," Rice said on Fox News Sunday.

Rice's interviews were conducted in Jerusalem following separate meetings with Palestinian and Israeli leaders on the planning for the August Israeli disengagement from 21 settlements in Gaza and four settlements in the West Bank.

On CNN's Late Edition, Rice said both sides "seem completely devoted to a peaceful and orderly withdrawal."

Rice previously has stated that a peaceful and orderly disengagement was essential for future progress on Middle East peace. On the CNN program she said she was "quite impressed with the level of activity and planning on both sides" for the Israeli withdrawal.

There are two important goals for the withdrawal, Rice said on the ABC program: security during the disengagement and a successful economic future for Gaza after it is completed. "The Palestinians have an obligation to provide as much security as they can so that settlers and IDF, Israeli Defense Forces, alike do not face a deteriorated security situation," she said.

In April, Rice announced the appointment of James Wolfensohn to serve as special envoy on behalf of the Middle East Quartet (the United States, the European Union, Russia and the United Nations) on Israel's disengagement from Gaza and several West Bank settlements. On the ABC program, Rice said Wolfensohn is working to ensure that Gaza is a "hopeful place for the Palestinians, a place where there is almost an immediate upsurge in -- uptick in economic activity, where the Palestinians can see that Gaza is going to be a functioning place for them in terms of economic livelihood."

Rice said she would be talking with the G8 (Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States, plus Russia) "about what the international community can do to strengthen that possibility."

A transcript of Rice's appearance on ABC's This Week can be found at:
http://www.state.gov/secretary/rm/2005/48299.htm

A transcript of Rice's comments on Fox News Sunday is available at:
http://www.state.gov/secretary/rm/2005/48297.htm

A transcript of her appearance on CNN's Late Edition is available at:
http://www.state.gov/secretary/rm/2005/48300.htm

(The Washington File is a product of the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site: http://usinfo.state.gov)



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