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Rice trying "to shine a spotlight" on Sudan problem

In BBC interview, secretary urges international community to act quickly

The United States remains committed to finding a solution to the humanitarian crisis in the Darfur region of Sudan, U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has told the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC).

When asked during a July 20 interview in Dakar, Senegal, whether the new Government of National Unity in Sudan is "doing enough" to bring the violence in Darfur under control, Rice said that under the new government, installed July 9, the "North and South [in Sudan] are united and are trying to put together a functioning government. ... And I'm going there because I wanted to, again, shine a spotlight on the Sudan problem."

The end of the 25-year civil war in Sudan, she said, "gives an opportunity, particularly to people who have suffered like John Garang, the leader of the South," for the unified government to try "to bring a solution to the situation in Darfur and that's the case that I will be pressing when I'm in Khartoum. I think that the government has every reason to do that, every incentive to do that," she said in terms of assistance and recognition by the European Union and others.

Rice also said the United States is working on several fronts to bring an end to the violence in Darfur and, with the assistance of NATO and the European Union, to quickly get the enhanced African Union monitoring presence into Darfur. "And then finally, we continue to do what we can on the humanitarian side," she pledged.

Following is the official transcript of the interview as furnished by the State Department:

(begin transcript)

Office of the Spokesman
July 21, 2005

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice
With Jonathan Beale of BBC
July 20, 2005
Dakar, Senegal

QUESTION: Madame Secretary, you've been highlighting the importance of trade here with Africa; but in Niger, there's a famine; 150,000 children are starving -- what Niger needs is aid more than trade (inaudible).

SECRETARY RICE: Well, the United States is of course the largest granter of food aid in the world by a substantial margin. And we are aware of the situation in Niger, as well as several other situations, in terms of the seasonal drought and in some cases political difficulties, for instance, in Zimbabwe. And the President has a famine relief initiative, which allows us to get funding, very quickly, to these places.

We're in discussions with the foreign ministry of Niger about what is needed there. USAID is ready and able to help. But famine relief has long been a very major effort of the United States. And as I said, we are by far the largest food assistance provider in the world.

QUESTION: Are you worried about the situation?

SECRETARY RICE: Oh, we're quite concerned about Niger, but also several other situations here in Africa and we've been doing planning with nongovernmental organizations through USAID to try and address the situation.

QUESTION: On the issue of trade, a lot of African countries say what they want most is a level playing field. You've indicated that maybe the United States will get rid of its subsidies to farmers if the European Union does the same. Are you prepared to set a timetable on that?

SECRETARY RICE: Well, the place to address this is within the Doha framework and of course we have another important meeting coming up in Hong Kong for Doha; and we are great believers that agricultural subsidies ought to be abolished. In fact, we aren't going to unilaterally decide, as the President has said, because -- but we've always believed that American farmers can be competitive.

Now, the issue is can the Doha Round find a mechanism, find a formula by which to do this and we'll be working very hard to try and achieve that goal.

QUESTION: You're going to Sudan. You're going to visit a refugee camp in Darfur. Do you believe this new government in Khartoum is taking steps to address the violence? Have you got evidence that it's doing that?

SECRETARY RICE: Well, the new government is -- how many days old? It was July 9th this government was installed. We do have a new circumstance in that we have a Government of National Unity now. A 25-year civil war has come to an end. And North and South are united and are trying to put together a functioning government.

That gives an opportunity, particularly to people who have suffered like John Garang, the leader of the South, to try now to bring the unified government to wait for a -- to wait to bring a solution to the situation in Darfur and that's the case that I will be pressing when I'm in Khartoum. I think that the government has every reason to do that, every incentive to do that, because there is a lot at stake for the comprehensive agreement in terms of assistance, in terms of recognition. There's a lot at stake from the European Union and others.

And we are working on several fronts, first to try and mobilize the outcome of the comprehensive agreement to bring an end to the violence in Darfur. Secondly, to get as rapidly as possible the AU monitors, the enhanced AU monitoring presence into Darfur. And NATO and the EU are now involved in that effort logistically. And then finally, we continue to do what we can on the humanitarian side. The United States has, more than 85 percent of the humanitarian assistance in the region. We're more than happy to do it. We've run into trouble from time to time, but the humanitarian flow* has been a little bit better lately.

QUESTION: But the problem is that some of the faces in this government are the same people who the U.S. has accused of presiding over genocide. Why can you trust them now when clearly you couldn't trust them in the past when they didn't deliver on their word?

SECRETARY RICE: Well, it's a matter not of trusting, it's a matter of the entire international community demanding action and having new tools in with which to try and deal with the situation. After all, it does matter that this government wants to make a new start as a unified government. It does matter that the people of the South are now represented in this government. They themselves have gone through terrible humanitarian disasters because of the civil war. It does matter that there will be new AU monitoring. And it does matter that the United Nations has given, through the Security Council, new tools whether it is a means by which to prosecute war crimes, a means by which to sanction, should that become necessary.

QUESTION: And how many people have been frightened (inaudible)?

SECRETARY RICE: Well, right now, there's a mechanism to do it. And again, we waited for months to get these resolutions passed in the UN Security Council. They only got passed a couple of months ago. And so what we need is for the international community to act with some urgency on these issues -- the United States has been acting with urgency. And I'm going there because I wanted to, again, shine a spotlight on the Sudan problem. But I would note that Deputy Secretary of State Zoellick, in less than six months in office, has been there three times.

QUESTION: You're moving on then to the Palestinian territories and to Israel. How concerned are you about the upsurge in violence?

SECRETARY RICE: Well, we all have to be concerned about the upsurge in violence. I think that it's not a surprise that there are people who very much want to disrupt this historic disengagement from the Gaza, who want to send the Palestinian people hurdling back to a time when their lives were dominated by daily violence with the Israelis, and who don't want to see the promise that this moment holds fulfilled.

But the responsibility of the parties, but also the responsibility of the international community, is to continue on a path that gives this moment of opportunity a chance. I will go out. I will talk to people about the disengagement preparations, about the coordination that's taking place. But also, I will urge that President Abbas will follow through on the really quite remarkable speech that he gave when he talked about one gun, and one authority. That the international community follows through on telling the rejectionists, like the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, that their behavior will not be tolerated by states, some of whom actually have relationships with groups like PIJ.

QUESTION: President Abbas is finding it very hard to control the people you refer to as "rejectionists," isn't he? Why is it the situation could spiral out of control but there could be civil war with the Palestinians?

SECRETARY RICE: Well, I think the issue is to work as hard as possible to prevent the worst outcomes and everybody has a part to play in that. President Abbas has a part to play in that, in being strong and determined to carry out his word to the Palestinian people the other day that he's not going to allow those who are rejectionists to destroy this moment of hope.

It requires the Israelis to work with us and with General Ward and others to make sure that the Palestinian forces are properly equipped and trained. And it takes the regional states to send a very strong message to the rejectionists. Many of these Arab states do have influence with Palestinian Islamic Jihad or with Hamas for that matter; that the behavior that brings about violence is simply not going to be tolerated.

QUESTION: Finally, I just want to return to the London bombings. There's now a clear link to Pakistan. Tony Blair has been expressing concern about Islamic schools teaching extremism, of fueling the problem. How concerned are you about the madrassas and do you think that President Musharraf is doing enough?

SECRETARY RICE: Well, we all have to be concerned about the teaching of hatred to young people. These are the future leaders of the Muslim world, not people who are so consumed with hate that they will destroy innocent lives and themselves as well.

And I do believe that President Musharraf made a strategic decision after September 11th that he was going to somehow wrest Pakistan away from the extremism that was really becoming quite pervasive in Pakistan. We have to remember that Pakistan was one of the few countries, I think only three in the world, that actually recognized the Taliban in Afghanistan, a country that had unfortunate links to extremism. He gave a wonderful speech sometime ago in, I think, it was January of 2002, where he talked about the fact that Pakistan cannot be modern and extreme at the same time. And I believe that he believes that.

If you look at the way that the Pakistani forces are fighting in the northwest frontier, their efforts to root out al-Qaida, their efforts along the Afghan-Pakistani border, they are changing in that regard. Now --

QUESTION: But they say he hasn't said enough on this issue --

SECRETARY RICE: Well, it -- the madrassas are still a problem. I have met the Education Minister in Pakistan who is trying to reform the madrassas. The United States has provided some funding to try for a reform of madrassas. But let's recognize that this is a problem that took some time to take root and it's going to take some time to win back the hearts and minds of these people. It's why Prime Minister Blair and President Bush have been united in their belief that without addressing the freedom deficit in the Middle East, without giving some sense of hope rather than a sense that extremism is the only political force, that we're never going to win this war.

It's why the two of them have both a short-term plan, which is to aggressively root out terrorist cells, share intelligence, do everything that we can; but also, a long-term plan that recognizes that as hard as we may fight to defend ourselves at home, it's an unfair fight because they only have to be right once, we have to be right 100 percent of the time. That means that we have to be on the offense, trying to change the very circumstances in the Middle East that produced the terrorism that we're seeing.

QUESTION: Madame Secretary, thank you very much.

SECRETARY RICE: Thank you very much.

(end transcript)

(Distributed by the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site: