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Secretary Rumsfeld Press Availability with Mr. Barzani

Presenters: Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld and Mr. Barzani
April 12, 2005
Secretary Rumsfeld Press Availability with Mr. Barzani

            BARZANI:  -- on behalf of the people of Kurdistan and on behalf, welcome Secretary Rumsfeld to Kurdistan, and this is a [inaudible].  It is a message to strengthen the alliance that we have established and this is a message of friendship.  Certainly we work together, we have worked together for the future of Iraq in order to build a new country [inaudible] Iraq, and we both work together in the future against combatting terrorism to work directly against terrorism in the same front.  We welcome this visit and it is a historical [treat] for us.

 

            RUMSFELD:  Thank you very much.  It is a privilege to be here.  It's been a good day.  It began this morning with a visit to some coalition troops and I had an opportunity to thank them, and I end the day here in Iraq with the opportunity to thank the Kurdish people and their leadership for the stalwart support over the many years now, and for their important role in liberating the Iraqi people from the repressive regime of Saddam Hussein.

 

            The flight up here was a beautiful one.  This is a lovely part of the country. It is green and it shows a success, it shows economic opportunity, and I want you to know that we bring greetings from the people of the United States, we wish you and your people well.

 

            PRESS:  [inaudible]?

 

            RUMSFELD:  You can find a source that will say almost anything.  The important source which you've not identified is the President of the United States and the leadership of Iraq.

           

            The question was something to the effect that there were sources suggesting as to a specific time U.S. forces might leave  Iraq, and I said that the important source of course is the President of the United States and the government of Iraq, and the President has said very specifically that his goal is to have an Iraq that is whole, that is at peace with its neighbors, that has a representative government that is respectful of all elements within the country, and to turn over security responsibilities to the Iraqi security forces at that point where they are capable of taking over those responsibilities.  Indeed, the President of the United States' remarks were very similar to what Mr. Barzani's remarks were.

 

            PRESS:  Mr. Barzani, Charlie Aldinger of Reuters.

 

            Would you and your party support Ba'athists serving in mid-level or even higher positions in the new Iraqi government, especially in the security forces?

 

            BARZANI:  In fact in December 2002 in the conference of the opposition in London I was the one who raised the issue of the need for national reconciliation.  In fact the national reconciliation [inaudible] all of the [inaudible] who have not, who don't have [inaudible] and have not committed crimes against the people of Iraq, they are the ones who can play a role [inaudible] the high ranking offices.  The ones who have been responsible for mass graves and the atrocities to individuals, the Iraqi people, certainly should be dealt with by a court of law and they should be [inaudible].

 

            PRESS:  [inaudible]?

 

            RUMSFELD:  The issues as to how the people of Iraq in their constitution will address issues such as that remains to be seen, and it is clearly a matter that's up to the Iraqi people and to the leadership of Iraq.

 

            PRESS:  Secretary Rumsfeld, Bob Burns, AP.  In the course of your various meetings today did you receive assurances on the continuity of the senior leadership positions in the security organizations of [inaudible]?

 

            RUMSFELD:  I think the word continuity is not the word I would use.  What the United States wants to see is what the Iraqi people want to see and that's an end to the insurgency and the development of the Iraqi security forces to the point where they're capable of assuming responsibility for security for the Iraqi people.  It isn't so much a matter of continuity as it's a matter of competence, capability.  It's a matter of not causing undue turbulence in the Iraqi security forces, and not setting back the important progress that's been achieved.

 

            When new governments come in, as is the case today and will be the case in December, clearly, they'll make their own judgments.  My personal hope and the hope of the United States is that those judgments will reflect a desire to have highly competent people who are not going to politicize security forces, but will see that the capabilities that have been developed will continue to be developed and enhanced.

 

            Thank you, folks.