Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

04 May 2007

Rice Urges All Nations To Assume Responsibilities Toward Iraq

Says Iraqi government must move forward with national reconciliation

Washington – Not only do all nations have an interest in ensuring that Iraq emerges as a peaceful, stable, democratic country, but nations also have an obligation to work toward that end, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said at the Iraq Neighbors’ Conference in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, May 4.

“This is a significant time in the region and for the international community because if Iraq fails to achieve these goals of stability and democracy, we will all pay,” Rice told the conference delegates.

However, self-interest should not be the sole motivation for supporting Iraq, Rice added.  “[W]e're also here because we remember that when there are times of need by countries in the international system, it is the obligation and the responsibility of the international system to step up and to help,” she said.

Rice challenged the Iraqi government, Iraq’s neighbors and all members of the international community to assume their responsibilities.

The Iraqi government, she said, must move forward urgently with the projects of national reconciliation. These include adopting a national oil law, holding a fresh round of provincial elections, reviewing the constitution, dismantling militias, improving budget execution and reviewing methods to deal with former members of Saddam Hussein’s Baath Party.

“It is quite clear that Iraq needs a process of national reconciliation,” she said. “It needs a successful and urgent process to bring all Iraqis into the belief that Iraq will be an Iraq for all Iraqis.”

Rice told Iraq’s neighbors that they must work to ensure their borders do not serve as transit points for terrorists and arms headed into Iraq.  She urged them to assist Iraq with economic development and energy supplies and called on them to refrain from interfering in Iraq’s internal affairs.

Rice said the international community should provide Iraq relief from its Saddam-era debt and help train Iraq’s security forces and civil servants. 

She also called on the conference participants to form active working groups focused on border security, refugees and energy supplies.  This idea originally emerged from the first neighbors’ conference in Baghdad in March, but the groups have yet to take up their work. (See related article.)

“[I]f we simply sit here only to meet again with nothing having happened between the time that we meet here in Sharm el-Sheikh and the next time that we meet, then the world will rightly judge us badly for not having taken action on those things that need to be done,” she said.

Rice said the United States would continue to help secure and rebuild Iraq, and she expressed hope that the support demonstrated at the conference would inspire the Iraqi people in their efforts to re-establish stability.

“I hope that the Iraqi people recognize the extraordinary nature of this gathering and the degree to which the international community supports them in their struggle against terrorism and extremism and in their efforts to form a democratic basis for their political life,” she told journalists after the conference.

A transcript of Rice’s remarks to reporters is available on the State Department Web site.

For more information on U.S. policies, see Iraq Update.

(USINFO is produced by the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site: http://usinfo.state.gov)

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