Interview With Sylvie Lanteaume, Lachlan Carmichael, and Jordi Zamora Barceló of Agence France-Presse
QUESTION: Thank you. I guess we’ll start by looking forward a little bit, and I know you welcomed the election of Barack Obama –
SECRETARY RICE: Yes.
QUESTION: – and for what it meant for the United States, and also how the outside world looked at Obama. But why do you think there is such overwhelming support around the world for Barack Obama? What does that say about the eight years that President Bush has just had?
SECRETARY RICE: Well, look, this is new and it’s a different face of America. It is for many, I think, a confirmation that America is what it says it is, which is a place where people come from humble circumstances and they do great things. And it’s also the first African American president. And for a lot of the world where that would be unthinkable that a minority would be a prime minister or a president, I think it’s just an extraordinary story.
I also think that the elections themselves, the first really openly contested elections in the United States in what, almost – more than 50 years, were particularly exciting. And around the world, I heard people talking about Iowa caucuses and things of that sort who probably don’t know where Iowa is on a map. And so I think it was a very exciting election, too.
QUESTION: Isn’t there more to it, though? It seems from what we hear and see in the newspapers and people we interview that there’s also a lot of antipathy towards President Bush around the world, and they’re, in a way, breathing a sigh of relief that they see hope.
SECRETARY RICE: Lach, it depends on where you’re talking about. The two most populous –
QUESTION: Latin America and Western Europe.
SECRETARY RICE: – countries in the world, China and India, the continent of Africa, President Bush is not only regarded as someone who had policies that took those relationships to a different level, but in the parlance of the day, he’s popular. But I don’t think popularity is the issue. I think the issue is how America has been able to change the terms of the foreign policy debate in many important places.
Perhaps it’s not popular in the Middle East to say that it’s time for the people of the Middle East to live in freedom, not in tyranny. Perhaps it isn’t always popular to be a fierce defender of Israel’s right to defend itself, but at the same time, a fierce defender of a Palestinian’s right to live in their own state. And so perhaps that’s why in some places, the popularity of the Administration or of our policies has not been very great. But it would simply be wrong to say that that’s a blanket statement for the world.
QUESTION: I think from what I understand, it was also the world seeing the U.S. having two standards in some parts of the world, anyway. They raise the issue of Guantanamo, Abu Ghraib. I’ll let my colleague, perhaps Jordi, follow up on that front since it was also felt in Latin America.
QUESTION: Yeah, because Guantanamo was one of strongest points of criticism not only from Cuba, from the whole of Latin America. And again, this region, for instance, has moved to the left in a very strict way for the last years. And now, since you are just about to quit – to leave government, and again, this last conference – meeting in Brazil was historical. They were not only studying the setup of a new body without the United States, but also unanimously asking for the lift of the embargo against Cuba.
SECRETARY RICE: Well –
QUESTION: But what do you think? How do you feel about –
SECRETARY RICE: Well, I think you just – you have to have a little bit of historical perspective on this. When has there not been some antipathy toward the United States from Latin America? In the ‘70s, in the ‘80s, in the ‘90s? I don’t think so.
QUESTION: And why President Bush didn’t –
SECRETARY RICE: No, no, no.
QUESTION: – change that? How could –
SECRETARY RICE: In fact, I think if you look and not just talk about the region – let’s talk about some specific places in the region. The United States has never had a stronger relationship with Brazil, and never recognized the emergence of Brazil as a multiethnic democracy ready for global leadership. And that relationship is built between this Administration and a country of the left. President Lula is from the left. And I think most people did not expect the United States and Brazil to have the kind of strong relationship that we have.
If you look at the relationship with Colombia, this is probably the strongest relationship the United States has ever had with Colombia, one of the strongest relationships ever with Chile, with Uruguay. And so what you’re talking about – and not to mention much of Central America. So what you’re talking about is we’re now past that period in the Cold War where the United States saw Latin America through the prism of a global struggle with the Soviet Union. And it has freed American policy to have good friends on the left and good friends on the right, as long as they are friends who are governing democratically, who are promoting free trade, who are looking to open their markets and to deliver for their people.
This President is also the one who has spoken about the need for social justice in Latin America. So if you look at the issue of American – the regard for the United States in America, yes, not very popular with Venezuela. But frankly, with –
SECRETARY RICE: Well, or Nicaragua –
QUESTION: Ecuador, whose president is visiting Iran.
SECRETARY RICE: No, in fact, there are some countries where I think one would have to ask about the democratic intent of a country like Venezuela. Chavez’s own people have turned against him in a couple of cases. And we’ll see how well he fares with lower oil prices. But the fact of the matter is the United States has doubled assistance to Latin America, we have the strongest relationships with the big countries of Latin America that we’ve ever had, and I think we’re leaving that region in good shape.
Now as to Guantanamo, yes, some people have been critical of Guantanamo. But I really challenge all to say what you do with extremely dangerous people who, in fact, say that they will kill Americans again if they are let out. And in that regard, I have to applaud the forward-leaning posture of the Foreign Minister of Portugal, Luis Amado, who has come forward to say that it is also incumbent on Europe to help resolve the issue of Guantanamo.
We have been transferring people back to countries of origin for some time now. The population of Guantanamo is down significantly from where it was. But even some who have visited Guantanamo, like the OSCE, have found that, in fact, it is a place that respects the rights of the prisoners, but these are very dangerous people.
QUESTION: Is there anything underway with Europe right now for them to do more to help close Guantanamo, take prisoners?
SECRETARY RICE: Well, I – we have – a lot of people have gone back to their countries of origin, a lot of them. But I’m hoping that the opening that Luis Amado has given – and we talked about it when I was in Portugal several weeks ago – that that will give a new impetus to helping to deal with the prison population of Guantanamo. But there are some people who are
really, really dangerous, and I really don’t know if you’re going to want to put those people out on an unsuspecting population, even if they’re in prison.
QUESTION: You pointed out the relation – special relationship with Brazil. Do you think it’s time for them to have a seat at the Security Council?
SECRETARY RICE: Well, the President made clear in his UNGA speech that the Security Council needs to be reformed. It reflects another time and another place. And I am a believer, and the President believes, that the – any workable arrangement, any workable proposal ought to be reviewed. Certainly, a country like Brazil with its great democracy and its increasingly global role, I would think would be a fair – would have a fair – a fair argument for why it might be a good Security Council member. But I think it’s going to have to be done in the context of an overall reform of the Security Council.
QUESTION: You said recently that the war in Lebanon in 2006 – one of the most difficult moments in your tenure as Secretary of State.
SECRETARY RICE: Yes, yes.
QUESTION: Do you have any regret about how you handled this crisis?
SECRETARY RICE: No. In fact, I think it turned out well. It was just that going through it was very difficult, because it was Hezbollah’s fault that that war started. And yet it was Lebanon that suffered. And that was very difficult because we had to make sure that a ceasefire was not going to simply establish the terms of the status quo.
And so it was really important that Lebanon – or that Hezbollah not be in control of the south with – rather than the Lebanese army. And so flowing the Lebanese army into the south and making sure that they could do that was very important. Getting the UNIFIL deployed was very important. Getting the political terms right was very important. But it was difficult to watch Lebanon continue to suffer while those terms got into place. But I think Lebanon came out of that not only with the army deployed to the south, not only with strong international support, but the address for the negotiation of that ceasefire was Lebanon, not Syria. And that’s important.
QUESTION: Yes, but why didn’t you press more efficiently on Israel to control the force they used against Lebanon at that time?
SECRETARY RICE: We were very clear that the civilian innocents should be spared. And as you know, I even went so far as to arrange for the Israelis to give a pause so that you could get humanitarian assistance in. But it’s very difficult when Hezbollah is using people as human shields. It’s very difficult when the terrorists are embedded in villages. That’s the hardest part of fighting counterinsurgency, because they have no – they don’t respect the lines between innocent civilians and their own activities, and so it makes it very difficult.
But I think that Fuad Siniora, for whom I have enormous respect, demonstrated that he could defend his country’s honor, and that ultimately, he could negotiate a good peace.
QUESTION: Going back to the war on terror again, I think you said that you’re still – your greatest concern is the risk of another massive attack on the United States. And I was just wondering, in this context, President-elect Obama has also said that your Administration took its eye off the ball by going into Iraq. And now you see that this is still a concern. It hasn’t happened, but you have the war on terror, in a way, blurring all sorts of boundaries in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and most recently in India, that they seem to have the initiative, that is, the Taliban and other militants.
Are you really winning this war on terrorism? Maybe they’re not – they haven’t attacked the U.S. mainland in the past eight years, but they are certainly spreading across –
SECRETARY RICE: Well, look, it’s something to be valued that they haven’t attacked the U.S. mainland in the last seven years, so let’s not just float over that. That was not a foregone conclusion after September 11th. And even though every day I worry that they still might, I do think that we have more in the way of information, intelligence, capability to process it and act on it than we had – I know than we had before September 11th.
And what the President has done in terms of modernizing our homeland security, modernizing our surveillance capability, modernizing and expanding the international umbrella over international terrorism is really quite extraordinary. And I’ll come to Pakistan and Afghanistan and India, but if you look at Saudi Arabia, this is a place that was under enormous threat in 2000 and even 2004, 2005. And they fought back and they’re winning that war. If you look at Southeast Asia, this was a place that everybody thought would be a new homeland for al-Qaida. They’re winning that fight.
And if you look at South Asia, yes, there is a problem – a kind of coming together of the ungoverned spaces of Pakistan with the difficult-to-defend Afghan border. But I do not think that it would be right to say that they are unchallenged there or they’re somehow on the march. They’re able to do hit-and-run attacks across that border. And the capacity of the Afghan Government has to be strengthened, and the Pakistanis need to continue to press in those ungoverned spaces.
But the President said, when he spoke to the Congress back in 2001, this would be generational. It would be a generational war. We’re winning a lot of the major battles, but the war is not yet over.
And as to Iraq, yes, the attack of September 11th didn’t come from Iraq, but it did come from the Middle East, the homeland of al-Qaida. The center of the caliphate is the Middle East. And Usama bin Ladin certainly understood, and Zawahiri certainly understood and said that Iraq was a central front in the war on terror. It’s because they understood that al-Qaida getting a foothold in Iraq would mean something very important to the movement, not just politically but psychologically, philosophically. Defeating them in Iraq, as we and the Iraqis are very close to doing, means that it is a tremendous setback for them.
QUESTION: You said – yeah, but al-Qaida’s – its central front or where it came from is the Middle East. Now, for many Arabs, the central problem is the Palestinian-Israeli problem. You have taken that up in the past year, but –
SECRETARY RICE: No, we took that up almost immediately. The problems was that – what we were bequeathed, what we inherited, was a raging intifada; Ariel Sharon, having been brought to power not to bring peace, but to defeat the intifada. We forget suicide bombs – not in the West Bank – in Tel Aviv, along the banks of Tel Aviv. And Yasser Arafat in power, having refused peace and continuing to steal his people blind.
And we have transformed that over time into a working relationship between the Palestinians and Israelis; increased improvements in the West Bank, both economically and politically and in terms of the building of real security institutions; and the first actual negotiations between the two sides on all the core issues since the failed Camp David talks of 2000. And they’re making progress. And they have confidence, as they have said, in their negotiations. And the international community, as expressed in the Security Council, has confidence in the Annapolis process. So this has come a very long way from where we found it.
And yes, they haven’t gotten to the establishment of a Palestinian state yet. And yes, Hamas is wreaking havoc in Gaza. But if you look at where this was in 2001, you have to remark on how far it’s come. You know, cities like Jenin. Do you remember what was going on in Jenin in 2000? Do you remember the shell that hit the Church of the Nativity in 2000 in Bethlehem? This is a very different situation now.
QUESTION: What about Hamas? Now they are – I think the Egyptians are trying to get a 24-hour addition to the truce that expired for Hamas over the weekend.
SECRETARY RICE: Yes.
QUESTION: Have you been on the phone with the Egyptians? And how crucial is it to reestablish the ceasefire?
SECRETARY RICE: I have not talked with the Egyptians. I have talked with Foreign Minister Livni. I believe that everyone should support Egypt in what it’s trying to do. But it’s clear that Hamas is not at all concerned about the welfare of the Palestinian people, or it wouldn’t be threatening to launch attacks into Israel again. It ought to be paying attention to the disaster that it’s creating in the Gaza.
QUESTION: So is anybody talking to Hamas right now to get them to restore the –
SECRETARY RICE: My understanding is the Egyptians are.
QUESTION: Just the Egyptians?
SECRETARY RICE: Yes.
QUESTION: To go back to Iraq, the Iraqi journalist who threw his shoes at President Bush --
SECRETARY RICE: Yeah.
QUESTION: – is going on trial this month. I know you don’t want to interfere in the –
SECRETARY RICE: Of course not.
QUESTION: – with the Iraqi judicial process. I understand that. But doesn’t it bother you that this guy got such an enormous support in the Middle East?
SECRETARY RICE: Well, I don’t know. Look, on Al Jazeera, certainly. It’s not surprising to me in the least. But look, what’s amazing to me is that this continues to get reported at all. Do you really think in 10 years anybody will remember this incident? Or will they remember that there is a democratic Iraq under a Shia leader of a multiethnic, multiconfessional Iraq, in the center of the Middle East with good and strong, long-term relations with the United States. That’s what’ll be remembered. And those of you who insisted on reporting on one incident will, I think, look at the history and wonder why it became such a major issue.
QUESTION: It’s – maybe it’s an incident, it’s only symbolic, but it was live on TV and the images will stay –
SECRETARY RICE: Yeah, but that’s the problem.
QUESTION: – in 10 years.
SECRETARY RICE: But that’s the problem. The problem is that today’s headlines and what’s important in history, there are almost no resemblance to one another. That’s the problem. And it’s a bit as if you say that some – and I’m sure there were plenty of them – ugly incidents in 1947 or 1948 were ultimately more important than the creation of NATO in 1949 and the eventual basis on which Germany unified, the Soviet Union collapsed, and Eastern Europe was liberated. What matters is these major structural changes in the international system, not some incident on Monday.
I know it’s hard to report it that way, but I do have historical perspective. And what matters is that the United States liberated the people of Iraq from Saddam Hussein, who had used weapons of mass destruction, continued to seek them, had gone to war against his neighbors, had annexed Kuwait, who put 300,000 of his own people in mass graves, who committed genocide against Kurds and Shia. And that that’s been replaced with an Iraq that won’t attack its neighbors and won’t seek weapons of mass destruction, and will be the first multiethnic, multiconfessional democracy in the center of the Arab world. And that’s going to change the very face of the Middle East, and that’s what will matter.
QUESTION: When you arrived more than three years ago, I remember the motto at that time was to win the hearts and minds of the Arab world. And this motto disappeared. Does it mean it was impossible?
SECRETARY RICE: You know, no, over time the hearts and minds will come with greater democracy and greater freedom for the Arab world. I understand that a lot of the history between the United States and the Arab world is one that Arabs look to as a time of humiliation and lack of respect. That didn’t start with President Bush and it wasn’t going to end with President Bush.
But over time, I think that the fact that America has stood for the Arab world and for Arabs to have the same rights and the same ability to live in freedom that we have, that that will ultimately be respected.
QUESTION: But from the –
SECRETARY RICE: Yeah.
QUESTION: Well, from the Arab perspective, just because I spent quite a lot of time there –
SECRETARY RICE: Mm-hmm.
QUESTION: I mean, one thing they complain about is the continued settlement building.
SECRETARY RICE: Yeah.
QUESTION: They already see the loss of Palestine as a historic disaster. Then when you talk about deaths, it’s true we hear about the suicide bombings which are horrific and many Israelis have died in them.
SECRETARY RICE: Yeah.
QUESTION: But we rarely hear about the –
SECRETARY RICE: I’ve talked –
QUESTION: – Arab civilians who were killed and apparently –
SECRETARY RICE: I talked about them just the other day. I talked about the fact that that period in 2001, 2002, was, yes, suicide bombings in Israel proper, and also Israeli military operations in response, large-scale military operations in response, in which many, many – probably thousands of innocent Palestinians died.
And so that’s why I say we have left this in a much better place. Because you can go to Jenin now, the site of one of the worst of those incidents, and you can see instead a hospital that’s been reopened with USAID monies, and you can see Salam Fayyad’s security forces in control in Jenin, even if there are Israeli incursions, about which I call the Israelis all the time. But you – that’s precisely what I mean, that it was not just Israelis, but innocent Palestinians who died in that period, too.
And on the settlements, I think we’ve made stronger statements about the Israeli settlements than at any other time in American – for an American administration. But what has to happen is that they need to determine these borders so that everybody knows what’s in Palestine, everybody knows what it’s Israel, and that’s what we’ve focused on in the negotiation.
QUESTION: I think your predecessor, James Baker, though, actually went as far as urging Congress to freeze the loans – the housing guarantees.
SECRETARY RICE: Well, in fact, one of the things that has happened that seems to have been little noticed is that much of the support to the settlement movement has ceased from the Israeli Government. You know that there – if you look at the support for the – there were these guarantees, loan guarantees. The Sharon government got rid of those. So in fact, some of that’s already happened.
QUESTION: Israel’s biggest concern is Iran and its capacity perhaps to build a nuclear bomb. How much do you share their concern with – you seem to be saying that the P-5+1 process is going the correct way and that you will eventually achieve results by pressuring the Iranians. I sensed from the Israelis they’re much more worried. They live in the neighborhood. How – you know, how do you coordinate on that? And are you urging the Israelis to hold back while you let the diplomatic process work?
SECRETARY RICE: Well, the Israelis have said that they understand that the diplomatic process needs to work. They’re not going to give up any of their options, just like the President’s not going to give up his options. But I think everybody understands that the diplomatic path is the way to try and resolve this, because the unintended consequences of anything else would be very grave.
The Iranians are paying a cost. We’ll see how long it takes before that cost starts to have an effect on Iranian policy. I think it will be exacerbated by the lower oil prices. The economy was already a shambles before the lower oil prices. Now one has to wonder how long they can hang on given the new circumstances and given their increased international isolation.
But quite apart from that, we’ve also strengthened the defenses and the security cooperation of the states in the Gulf – Saudi Arabia, UAE, Bahrain – and Israel as well. And we have strengthened our own capabilities with an additional carrier group in the region. Iran also, of course, faces the fact that there now is emerging a strong and independent Iraqi state which has historically been a bulwark against Iran, but this time will be a bulwark against Iran that doesn't invade its neighbors, which would be a real step up from Saddam Hussein.
And so I don’t think that the Iranian geostrategic position necessarily looks that rosy in the future. Now, it is true that they have, through their tentacles like Hezbollah and Hamas in Gaza, the ability to cause a lot of problems for Palestinians, Israelis, Lebanese and the like. But there’s a significant backlash against Iran for what it’s doing.
QUESTION: When oil prices were high and the Iranians were bold, at some point was the Bush Administration seriously debating a military strike? Was that debated at one point more than – I mean, I know always the option’s on the table, but was it ever –
SECRETARY RICE: Yeah. No, look, the option was on the – is on the table, but it’s always on the table. No, what the President did, really from 2005 on when we set out to change the direction of our Iran policy toward support for the multilateral negotiations in a more active way, that was really the principal option on the table.
QUESTION: It was never a big part of the debate at one point where it became –
SECRETARY RICE: Look, it’s all –
QUESTION: – it rose higher in the debate?
SECRETARY RICE: It’s always there, but it’s – I don’t think it’d be fair to say it ever rose higher.
QUESTION: According to an Italian newspaper this Sunday, last Sunday, Venezuela is helping Iran to transfer some material to Syria. This is quoting so-called report from CIA. Could you comment on that? Could you confirm what that –
SECRETARY RICE: No, I can’t comment on the specific report. I don’t know the origin of it or what it’s talking about. But –
QUESTION: Do you worry about these new actors? You’re saying that you’re securing the position of Gulf states.
SECRETARY RICE: Yes.
QUESTION: That’s true?
SECRETARY RICE: Yeah, yeah.
QUESTION: But in the meantime, they keep building up –
SECRETARY RICE: No, it’s a problem.
QUESTION: We don’t know what nuclear problem it is –
SECRETARY RICE: It is really a problem.
QUESTION: – and there are new actors in the field.
SECRETARY RICE: No, the – on Iran, – it’s a dangerous state. I don’t mean to suggest that it’s not a dangerous state. It is which is why the international community needs to get even tougher than it has been. The United States has been quite tough, continuing to designate Iranian entities and making it harder and harder for Iran to access investment or financial resources. And so we’re going to continue to do that.
Yes, there are – Venezuela is engaging in all kinds of activities that are potentially destabilizing. But it’s really remarkable that the conditions in Venezuela continue to deteriorate and that the energies of the Venezuelan regime seem to be pointed outward rather than to trying to deal with the significant problems that Venezuela itself has. And I think those pressures of those problems are going to become even more severe.
QUESTION: Can we go to Europe?
SECRETARY RICE: Yes.
QUESTION: I would like to speak about Georgia, if you don’t mind. The crisis in Georgia took the U.S. Administration and everybody by surprise. Does it mean that you’ve chosen an unreliable ally with Saakashvili?
SECRETARY RICE: No, no, it didn’t – look, I wouldn’t say it took us by surprise. The exact timing and exactly what happened, of course, but the fact is that had been a really volatile region for some time. The reason that I went to Georgia a month before that was to see if we couldn’t, on the Abkhaz side, get Georgia to accept a non-use of force pledge so that we could strengthen the diplomacy that Frank-Walter Steinmeier was engaging in.
The Georgians were not unwilling to do that, but they were concerned that the Putin April 16th decree had created facts on the ground that would – were close to recognizing Abkhazia, and so we were in discussions back and forth about how a non-use of force pledge would relate to the status quo in Georgia.
So we’d been involved in that area – Steinmeier and I had been very active – because we knew that it was volatile. And similarly, with South Ossetia, there had actually been some talks just a couple of days before it all came – all blew up.
The problem is that I think there wasn’t great wisdom on the part of any of the actors in those days leading up to the Russian invasion. We’d been pretty clear with the Georgian Government that they shouldn’t try anything militarily because that was only going to produce a backlash. But then, of course, the Russians went way beyond what anybody could have defended to protect their peacekeepers, and I think tried to overthrow the Georgian Government. And they didn’t succeed.
QUESTION: They didn’t succeed, but the Georgian Government is in political trouble now and –
SECRETARY RICE: That is – however, (inaudible) the debate about the war and so forth was in the context of Georgian democracy. That’s only as it should be. But what was – would have been inappropriate and would – we did resist was for Russia to make that – make any decisions about the Georgians for Georgians.
QUESTION: But do you think a new Georgian president could be more willing to make concessions to the Russians?
SECRETARY RICE: Look, I – the –
QUESTION: And would it bother you –
SECRETARY RICE: I believe that the president of Georgia has been a good friend of the United States, and we’ve worked through a lot of problems together. I think I’ve been clear that I don’t think that the days before the events of August 8th – was it – were – 6, 7, 8 – that Georgia really behaved in a way that was responsible. We were clear about that.
But let me just say on this, the – Georgia has a right to have its own policies and to have its territorial integrity intact, and that’s what we’ve been defending. And frankly, with Russia sitting in South Ossetia and Abkhazia with the resounding support of Nicaragua and Hamas, I don’t think the Russians have come out of this very well.
QUESTION: The OSCE –
MR. MCCORMACK: You have about five minutes left, guys.
QUESTION: The OSCE announced today that they will pull their observers out of Georgia as of January 1st after Russia refused them to stay. Are you disappointed?
SECRETARY RICE: Not surprised. But look, we’ll have to continue to work on this. And I guess Russia is not prepared to take responsibility for the well-being of all those people. Big responsibility.
QUESTION: On Russia’s influence in the Six-Party Talks –
SECRETARY RICE: Yes.
QUESTION: – are they going ahead with the U.S. and the other members to stop fuel supplies there? It sounds like they are going to fulfill their quota.
SECRETARY RICE: There were some fuel supplies that were already, as I understand it, close to delivery. They may –
QUESTION: Right. I think Sean said it was going ahead.
SECRETARY RICE: Yeah, but we don’t have any disagreement with Russia about –
QUESTION: There’s no disagreement? Because I heard from – I mean, from Moscow, we did report that they are going to fulfill their quota. But maybe it’s not their next turn.
SECRETARY RICE: I think their quota was a part of the last tranche.
QUESTION: Right. Anyway, do you have any hope of a breakthrough or progress on the Six-Party Talks after the breakdown in Beijing before the Bush Administration ends?
SECRETARY RICE: Well, I think they’ll – we’ll get the verification protocol eventually. Whether it’s in our term or in the next administration’s term, I don’t think it matters that much, because the real issue here is that about 80 percent of the verification protocol was agreed, and then the North Koreans made some representations to us about clarifying certain elements of the verification protocol so that there was no ambiguity. They then refused to write that down, even though it’s all in the negotiating record. And so we are not in a position to go forward on our obligations because they haven’t – we haven’t nailed down the verification protocol. But everybody knows what is required here, and the negotiating record is absolutely clear about what that verification protocol means. We just need it written down.
QUESTION: Are they – is the North Korean regime waiting for the next administration? Do you have any sense that that’s happening?
SECRETARY RICE: I don’t know. And frankly, we’ve taken this a long way and we’ve got a written verification protocol. We’ve got understandings about what it means. We’ve got five-party unity on insisting on the Chinese draft of the verification protocol. We’ve got substantial disablement that has taken place, a reactor that’s still shut down, and an agreement for the overall denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. I think that’s pretty good work with a difficult state like North Korea.
QUESTION: On Zimbabwe, Madame Secretary, you –
SECRETARY RICE: Yes.
QUESTION: – last week, you tried to get something at the UN on Zimbabwe and it was –
SECRETARY RICE: No, we actually didn’t try for an outcome document that would –
QUESTION: Yeah, I understand that.
SECRETARY RICE: Yeah.
QUESTION: But on January 1st , the Security Council composition changes. Will you try before the end of the Administration – another plan, another try?
SECRETARY RICE: I’m going to consult –
QUESTION: Will you make another try on Zimbabwe?
SECRETARY RICE: I’m going to consult with our allies, particularly with some of our African allies and with the Brits, and we’ll see. But I think that it’s high time that the international community step up the sanctions on this regime. I don’t know how much longer people can let this go on, claiming that it’s somehow an internal matter. It’s not. It’s clearly having problems – causing problems across the border. And even if it were an internal matter, what has happened to the – happening to the Zimbabwean people is unconscionable.
QUESTION: What kind of sanctions?
SECRETARY RICE: Well, we have, as you know, some asset freezes and the likes, and there have been some discussions about whether some of that might be multilateralized. So we’ll look.
QUESTION: On Pakistan, do you have anything more on what measures the U.S. can provide these convoys that are being attacked from Pakistan into Afghanistan?
SECRETARY RICE: Yeah. We’re – this is being discussed within defense channels, so I really don’t want to go any further. But they’re looking for ways to protect the moves.
QUESTION: Can you tell us a little bit about what you are going to do in the next few days before the end of the Administration?
SECRETARY RICE: You mean other than going and enjoying Christmas? (Laughter.)
QUESTION: And then – do you have a trip? Or do you have – what are your activities? What is your agenda?
SECRETARY RICE: I will go after the first of the year to China for the 30th anniversary of the establishment of U.S.-China relations. I think it’s important to do that. And we’re looking at what else I might do on that trip, but not very much. I’ll do – that’ll be the last trip is that trip after the end of the year.
QUESTION: The last trip and after – what do you plan to do?
SECRETARY RICE: I will go – oh, that after. Well, I’m going back to California. I’ll go to Stanford and Hoover. I want to write on a book on foreign policy, as every Secretary of State is obliged to do. I think the – I don’t know whether right away or after a little time is better, because this is such a – it’s been such a turbulent time and such a consequential time that it may take a little reflection.
I want to write a book about my parents, who were incredible people and emblematic really of a whole generation of black parents who just were not going to let their children be held hostage to segregation, and so they just invested and invested and invested. And so I want to write about that.
And then I have founded in 1992 a program called The Center for a New Generation, which is both a program of the Boys and Girls Clubs and a program of the school district in East Palo Alto. It now has five centers, and it’s an after-school and summer program for what we call strivers, kids who are not the “Talented tenth” and not remedial, but are trying to make – trying to study, trying to make it work, and it’s an enrichment program for them. And so I’m thinking about what might be done with that program because I’m a major advocate for excellence in K-12 education in this country. It’s important to who we are. It’s important to how we read. And as a former Secretary of State and an educator, I think it’s a good place to try to make a difference.
QUESTION: And do you have a place to live? Do you have a house? (Laughter.)
QUESTION: Buying a house, ending your nomadic lifestyle? (Laughter.)
SECRETARY RICE: Yeah, right. Ending my nomadic lifestyle. Right. (Laughter.) Well, I have a place to live temporarily, and then I’m going to look for a place. I haven’t really had time to look. And so I’m going to go out to – when I get out to California, I’ll start looking for a place to live. But I know I won’t live too far from where I work. I’m not a commuter by nature. Yeah.