Transcript: Abdullah Abdullah on 'FNS'

Written by Chris Wallace / Published October 26, 2009 / Fox News Sunday

The following is a rush transcript of the October 25, 2009, edition of "FOX News Sunday With Chris Wallace." This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

CHRIS WALLACE, HOST: Earlier we spoke with one of the two candidates in the Afghan presidential runoff, challenger and former foreign minister Abdullah Abdullah:

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

WALLACE: Dr. Abdullah, there have been reports that in order to avoid a runoff with the possibility of more violence and more fraud that you and President Karzai might agree to share power, to a coalition government.

Is that a possibility? Or have you ruled that out?

ABDULLAH ABDULLAH: No, I think I should rule it out, because I am ready to go for a runoff. I — and what I am focusing at this stage — to — to provide the relevant institutions which sets off recommendations and sometimes conditions to ensure the transparency of the Afghani elections.

WALLACE: Let's turn to the runoff, which is scheduled for November 7th. There was rampant fraud in Afghanistan. Your supporters now say that unless there are changes in the election commission, which is run by Karzai supporters, that you may, in fact, boycott the runoff.

Is that a real possibility, sir?

ABDULLAH: So I'm not talking about boycott at this stage, though my supporters are pressing on that point, that if the state machinery a fraud, as well as election commission, which was unfortunately involved in fraud — both are in place, and then both are working in collaboration with one another, perhaps we might have to go through the same sort of saga.

And that — I am under a lot of pressure. But at the same time, I'm working with the international community on sets of conditions which have to be met. These are not conditions in favor of one candidate against another.

WALLACE: And if those conditions are not met, will you go ahead with the runoff?

ABDULLAH: No, I think some of — some of the things which we will be putting forward are very serious issues. Without it, without considering it, we will not have a transparent, credible process, and it will be very difficult to convince the people to turn out and to show up, because the people are taking risk. And they are taking risk in the first round elections.

So it will — it will make the situation very difficult if those conditions and recommendations are not met.

WALLACE: So does that mean that a boycott by you of the runoff, if there are no reforms, if there are no changes, is a possibility?

ABDULLAH: I don't want to give a message to our people so that momentum for campaign will be lost. So by that, that shows my commitment to the process.

But at the same time, I would say that it will be a very serious situation if we are up against the same sorts of conditions that we went through in the first round elections.

WALLACE: Dr. Abdullah, even with so many of President Karzai's votes thrown out, he still led you 49 percent to 32 percent. With him so close to a majority, do you really have any chance to win?

ABDULLAH: I'm sure that with the — with the fate of the people (inaudible) on the process, there will be higher turnout and the people do want change in this country.

The reason that there was lesser turnout, apart from — from the security situations — it was also because of lack of faith on the process.

WALLACE: If Karzai wins, can he be a credible partner for the U.S. going forward?

ABDULLAH: I think there is a — there is a record — there is a record in the past few years. I think so far one of the problems for the United States and the international community has been the fact that the Afghan side has not been able to deliver, and the Afghan side has been led by Mr. Karzai in the past few years.

WALLACE: There is a big controversy here in the U.S., Dr. Abdullah, about when President Obama should announce the result of his policy review on strategy and troop levels.

Would you like to see him announce his decision as soon as possible? Or would you like to see him perhaps delay till after the election because whatever the U.S. decides could be disruptive to the campaign?

ABDULLAH: There is a need for more troops. There is no doubt about it. There are need in Afghanistan. And that's based on military analysis and especially by General McChrystal.

At the same time, when is the best time? Of course, even if the decision is made today doesn't mean tomorrow we will have troops — boots on the ground. It will take time.

WALLACE: If President Obama decides to scale back on U.S. strategy and the number of troops that he sends, what is the danger that the Taliban will overrun the country?

ABDULLAH: The need for more troops is there in order to reverse the situation. If the situation is not reversed from deteriorating further the security situation, so the future of this country will be at risk, and the future of the engagement of the international community will be at risk.

So this situation requires a sort of dramatic increase in the number of troops in order to stop — stop it from further deteriorating and reversing it. The permanent solution is in a road map that Afghanistan stands on its own feet in a few years down the road, troops — number of troops could be decreased in Afghanistan, finally, and eventually will stand on its own feet.

WALLACE: You talk about a few years down the road, which brings me to my final question, Dr. Abdullah. If the president commits to a full-scale counterinsurgency, how many more years will U.S. troops have to stay in Afghanistan?

ABDULLAH: I think this is — this is very difficult to give a sort of time table for anybody, I think. But as long as you can see through a clear strategy that the situation in Afghanistan will be stabilized, as long as you can see that in that strategy, you know, with a sort of realistic analysis, so the issue of one or two more years, more or less, will not be the main matter.

WALLACE: Dr. Abdullah, we want to thank you so much for talking with us, sir.

ABDULLAH: You're welcome.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

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