This is a partial transcript from Your World with Neil Cavuto, March 18, 2003, that was edited for clarity. Click here for complete access to all of Neil Cavuto's CEO interviews.
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NEIL CAVUTO, HOST: Secretary of State Colin Powell saying up to 45 nations are vowing to support the U.S., both publicly and privately. The "coalition of the willing," consisting of nations that plan to support a war in Iraq in any way they can. Joining me today from Washington, ambassadors from two coalition nations: Australian ambassador to United States, Michael Thawley; and Bulgarian ambassador to U.S., Elena Poptodorova.
Ambassador Poptodorova, to you first, there is some confusion here whether Bulgaria is part this coalition. Is it?
ELENA POPTODOROVA, BULGARIAN AMBASSADOR TO U.S.: I wouldn't say so, because the most important thing which we have is the decision of the Bulgarian supreme legislative body, the Bulgarian parliament of February 7, which strictly specifies the way in which Bulgaria will contribute to future operations. So the answer is there, in the resolution which was adopted by the Bulgarian National Assembly.
CAVUTO: I'm not sure I understand you, ma'am. You are not on the State Department list as we have it right now. In other words, those countries that are distinctly part of this coalition, you are saying you are?
POPTODOROVA: No. That is confusion which you further enhance in your question, obviously, this is what the AP, the Associated Press report, which I have in my hands, or something else?
CAVUTO: I'm not even sure. I'm showing the State Department listing of countries that have confirmed they will support us in whatever action we take against Iraq. Are you on that list?
POPTODOROVA: I have to go to back to the State Department and see what the criterion was in drafting the list. But what I'm saying to you and I'm telling you, something which is much more important, and this is a decision, as I say, of the supreme legislative body of the country which specifies exactly the support which Bulgaria gives: which is overflight right; 150 soldiers; plus a military base on the Black Sea coast for U.S. aircraft which is already there. So that is, I think, a more practical response to your question.
CAVUTO: Well, you answered it right there. So thank you. Ambassador Thawley, let me go to you. What does Australia plan to do?
MICHAEL THAWLEY, AUSTRALIAN AMBASSADOR TO U.S.: Well, Neil, Australia began deploying forces to the Gulf region early in January, both to maximize the pressure on Saddam Hussein to disarm peacefully, and also to acclimatize our forces in case of military operations. There are about 2000 troops in all, land component, air component and a naval component. The land component is a Special Forces task group. And we have FA-18s.
CAVUTO: Ambassador Thawley, if I may ask you. There is some sign now that the French and the Germans, who have opposed our going into Iraq forcibly, might want to play a role in a postwar Iraq. Should they?
THAWLEY: Well, I think we will be grateful for help from the United Nations and from other countries who are prepared to play a part in the humanitarian relief and the rehabilitation and reconstruction of Iraq after any conflict. I think there is no question of that.
CAVUTO: Ambassador Poptodorova, how do you feel about the French?
POPTODOROVA: I would just like take up on another note, post conflict reconstruction is yet another area where we would like to contribute. And we possess the expertise and the know-how of previous years to participate in that effort. Bulgaria has $1.7 billion of Iraqi debt which was accumulated as the result of unpaid dues exactly - of not paying back the projects which were built out there. So, as the my colleague Australian ambassador said, we would also be part of this post conflict reconstruction area.
CAVUTO: All right.
POPTODOROVA: Otherwise, I believe everyone should follow one's own interest and priorities, and that is what Bulgaria is doing.
CAVUTO: Ambassador Poptodorova, thank you very much. Ambassador Thawley, thank you very much.
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