Condoleezza Rice: Interview With the Wall Street Journal Editorial Board

From state.gov:

SECRETARY RICE: Well, I thought we would just start right in. We don’t have that much time and I’m sure people have plenty of questions, so rather than my going on, why don’t we just start right in.

QUESTION: Great. Well, let me just start by asking you about the Iraq-U.S. security agreement, because there does seem to be emerging a new Iraqi nationalism, which may be a good thing, but it might complicate the negotiations. And I wanted to get a sense from you where those negotiations stand and where our — that is, the American bottom line is. Where can we — what do you insist on in order to get it together?

SECRETARY RICE: Right. Well, let me say a few words. We are in a situation in which if there’s not a rollover — let me say hi to — hi, how are you, nice to see you — in which when the Security Council resolution expires at the end of the year, there would be no legal basis for our forces to operate there. And that was really the most important element, the kind of origin of this discussion. And the Iraqis, for a number of reasons, don’t really want to roll over the Security Council resolution. They’d like to get out of Chapter 7. They’ve made it very clear that it wouldn’t be their preference to roll it over.

And so it becomes a matter of how to keep our forces there legally. And we are — it’s not, from our point of view, a very complex set — it is a complex set of issues, but it’s not a matter, for instance, of permanent bases or anything of the like. It’s really just allowing our forces to be able to operate there, because we believe, and I think the Iraqis believe, that they’re going to continue to need — the Iraqis, I think believe, as we do, that they’re going to need the help of coalition forces for at least some time. And so the first and most important thing is how to have our forces operate there legally.

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