This is a partial transcript from On the Record with Greta Van Susteren, June 22, 2004 that has been edited for clarity.
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GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, HOST: Joining us from New York is former secretary of state Dr. Henry Kissinger. Welcome, Dr. Kissinger.
HENRY KISSINGER, FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE: Good to be here.
VAN SUSTEREN: Dr. Kissinger, we don't negotiate with terrorists, and South Korea didn't want to negotiate with terrorists. What can we do? Is there anything we can do? Maybe 10 to 30 people are being held in that country by terrorists tonight.
KISSINGER: Well, negotiating with the terrorists would have done no good because they would be taking more and more hostages. The only thing we can do is to prevail in Iraq and to achieve security on the ground, so that these terrorists are rejected by the local population and can be reduced to criminal gangs that can be hunted. But it's a long process, and it shows us what we're up against. These people are implacable. They will pursue us no matter where we are. They have been killing in countries outside of Iraq. And what we face here is an ideological enemy determined to destroy our values.
VAN SUSTEREN: How do we get countries like South Korea to sort of hang tough? They said they will. They're going to send 3,000 troops in August. Yet people in South Korea in the last couple of days are protesting over this. How do we diplomatically get countries to stay there with us?
KISSINGER: Well, the countries that are there are not there for us. They're there for themselves. We have had these terrorist attacks now in Bali, in Turkey, in Saudi Arabia and Morocco and Spain, all over the world. So any country that sends troops there should not do it as a favor to America. They have the same interests we have, which is to prevent the spread of this ideology and of these organizations around the world. And the battle now happens to be in Iraq. That is the fundamental issue.
And what is somewhat discouraging is that almost every country realizes that this is the case and that they would lose if America were to withdraw from Iraq. They know what the issue is. The question, in some cases, is public opinion and the timidity of government. And Korea is to be congratulated for the effort that it's making.
VAN SUSTEREN: Is South Korea our friend? I mean, not South Korea, I meant Saudi Arabia. I'm sorry.
KISSINGER: Well, Saudi Arabia is a country that is itself under attack and that needs its forces in its own country. Saudi Arabia has played an ambivalent role for a long time. But in recent months, it has understood the danger to itself. And Saudi Arabia has been -- has not been fully available for support. But on the other hand, it has also on other occasions supported us. It's a fragile situation and -- but they should certainly do more.
VAN SUSTEREN: All right, Dr. Kissinger, if you will please stand by, sir? When we come back, Dr. Kissinger's thoughts about an experience with the late President Ronald Reagan.
VAN SUSTEREN: We're back with former secretary of state Dr. Henry Kissinger. Dr. Kissinger, do you remember the first time you met President Ronald Reagan?
KISSINGER: It must have been around 1969. I was security adviser and he was governor of California, and I was assigned by President Nixon to brief him every month or so on foreign policy. And after that, we met regularly and right through his presidency.
VAN SUSTEREN: What did you think of him in the beginning? Going back in 1969, what did you think of him? And did it change over the years?
KISSINGER: Well, at first I thought of him -- I had come from Harvard into the government, so I thought of him as a rather right-wing character, and I had otherwise no fixed opinion about him. In my dealings with him, he really didn't change very much. He was always very genial, very affable. He always had a story for every occasion. And I think the basic personality didn't change through the sort of 30 years that I knew him.
VAN SUSTEREN: What do you think of him overall? You know, looking back, and I suppose history is going to have even a better perspective than all of us, but I mean, what's his strength?
KISSINGER: Well, his strength was that he became president at the moment that was exactly suited to his talents. He came into the presidency when America was discouraged by a period of retreat and of domestic upheavals, and he came into office also in the sort of 20th year of the cold war, where the Soviet Union had been contained but it looked like a draw for a long time. And then the weaknesses of the Soviet system began to be apparent, and he exploited those with great skill. And he accelerated the containment policy and at the same time, offered to continue the negotiations that had been going on about 20 years. And the combination of these policies brought the Soviet Union to a point where it began to experiment with its own domestic system, and it turned out the system couldn't stand this, and it led to its collapse. And that's his historic achievement.
VAN SUSTEREN: He seemed so affable and friendly publicly. Is that the way he was privately, as well?
KISSINGER: There wasn't any significant difference between his public and his private personality. He was not a very introspective man. He did not tell you about what was going on within him. He was a strong personality. When he entered the room, you knew where the center of attention was and -- or should be. And he was -- he was really always the same, and he didn't rattle. And so he spread great calm and great confidence. And his great rhetorical ability at a moment when there were hostages in Iran and America was recovering from a difficult period had a tremendous impact on the American public.
VAN SUSTEREN: Well, we're going to -- we're sorely missing him. Dr. Kissinger, thank you very much for joining us this evening.
KISSINGER: Good to be here.
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