Press Availabiity with Secretary Rumsfeld and Secretary Rice in Baghdad, Iraq
SECRETARY RUMSFELD: Good morning.
SECRETARY RICE: Good morning.
We had the opportunity yesterday and yesterday evening to spend some time with the newly nominated Prime Minister for Iraq who of course will now work very hard to form a government with the President, [inaudible], and the Speaker and the Deputies. We also were able to pay a call on Prime Minister Jaafari and I think that it's fair to say that all of these Iraqi leaders recognize the challenges before them, recognize that the Iraqi people expect their government to be able to meet those challenges.
It is obviously going to take some time to do this work and we found a government or government representatives who are focused who are inspiring in listening to them and I think who understand very much the work before them. Our message here was that the United States wants to be a supportive partner in that work and we are prepared to do whatever we can to help the Iraqi government meet the challenges before it. But this is a really inspiring time and these are great patriots who very often are at great personal risk and are taking on the work of building this democratic [process], and we're going to have a good friend and partner in the United States in doing it.
QUESTION: Madame Secretary and also Mr. Secretary. With the Zarqawi video this week and the upswing in U.S. casualties, what is it that the Iraqis can do? What have they talked about doing to regain the initiative, to establish their credibility and to quell the sectarian violence?
SECRETARY RUMSFELD: The first step obviously for the government is to fashion a cabinet, the heads of the various ministries, with people who demonstrate to the Iraqi people who went out and voted for them that they have stepped forward and assumed responsibility for their sovereignty, and then to continue to work to develop the Iraqi security forces.
I think that the impression that the people of this country will have of the government will be the impression that Secretary Rice and I garnered from our meetings. They are serious people, they recognize the difficulties of the task they're facing, and they intend to get about the task of governing this country in a responsible way. I come away very encouraged by them.
SECRETARY RICE: I really don't have much to add. Obviously the key now is to get the government up and running, to get ministers who are capable and who also reflect the values of a national unity government, and then to get about the work of dealing with the security situation, dealing with the economic situation. But I think these are very responsible and capable people.
QUESTION: Madame Secretary, I also believe you met with [Minister] Allawi this morning. He previously said that Iraq was in a state of civil war. I just wondered if you remain far apart with him on your assessment of the situation, and if so why.
SECRETARY RICE: The conversation this morning with former Prime Minister Allawi, who is a good friend of the United States and an Iraqi patriot was about the future here in Iraq and about the need for a government that takes advantage of all of the very capable people who have fought to bring Iraq to this point -- that is an Iraq that is free of Saddam Hussein's tyranny and that is now in the work of trying to build a stable government. So that was our discussion. That was our conversation.
I don't know anybody more devoted to the notion of national unity than Mr. Allawi. They're all very devoted to that notion. That's the best answer to those who are trying to [inaudible] that they can tear the country apart. There are leaders here and the great majority of the Iraqi people who are determined that they will not be torn apart.