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Presidential Adviser Discusses Iraq Violence, North Korea

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, May 16, 2005 – Continued political progress in Iraq is expected "to pull Iraqis who may be 'on the fence' into support for the government," the president's national security adviser said on May 15 television talk shows.

Stephen Hadley also said indications that North Korea is preparing for a nuclear test represent a serious concern that demands continued international pressure.

Hadley said the creation of Iraq's interim government and that group's work to draft a constitution are sending a strong message to the Iraqi people, including Iraq's minority Sunnis, who are joining the political process.

Such steps also are increasingly isolating terrorists who oppose the progress being made, he said on "Fox News Sunday."

"They obviously oppose that progress. It undermines everything they stand for," he said.

The recent surge in violence, most of it targeting Iraqis, represents the terrorists' reaction to political progress taking place, Hadley said. "I think what you're seeing is a major effort to derail the new government that has recently been put in place," he said.

Hadley said the United States has warned both Iran and Syria not to assist terrorists in Iraq and, in turn, undermine political progress under way.

Meanwhile, the United States is working closely with the Pakistanis during interrogations of high-ranking al Qaeda leader Abu Faraj al-Libbi. "We think that he may have very useful information, and we are working closely with the Pakistanis," Hadley said on CNN's "Late Edition." "We both have an interest in making sure that any information that he has available that can advance our cause against the terrorists is obtained and used."

Hadley was unable to confirm press reports that Abu Musab al-Zarqawi has been seriously injured, but said elimination of the al Qaeda ringleader would make a "pretty significant difference" in Iraq.

"He is at the focus point of the network that is responsible for some of the worst violence in Iraq," Hadley said. "And we think that (eliminating Zarqawi) would have an impact on the operational pace of that network and would be a substantial contribution to the war on terror."

Despite the recent increase in violent acts, Hadley said, the future looks positive for Iraq. "Iraqis now have an opportunity to build and run their own country," Hadley said. "What we're seeing is an authentic Iraqi political process of Iraqis for the first time in decades having the opportunity to take responsibility for their own country, and we're confident they will do that."

Thousands of miles away, in North Korea, evidence of an upcoming nuclear test is building, Hadley acknowledged.

The governments of Russia, China, the United States, South Korean and Japan -- nations that joined North Korea in the six-party talks aimed at "denuclearizing" the Korean peninsula -- remain in agreement that North Korea should not be permitted to have nuclear weapons and have stepped up diplomatic pressure, Hadley said.

"If there is a nuclear test, obviously that will be a defiance (by) North Korea of every member of the six-party talks, including China, and we think at that point we will have to have a serious conversation about other steps we can take," he said.

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Stephen Hadley


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