The following is a transcribed excerpt from 'Fox News Sunday,' June 27, 2004:
Joining us now from Ankara, Turkey, to discuss events in Iraq and the NATO summit is National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice.
Dr. Rice, good morning.
CONDOLEEZZA RICE, NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISOR: Good morning.
BRIT HUME, FOX NEWS: Tell me, if you can — obviously you got a favorable reaction from the European nations there, who will of course be the main element in NATO at this summit — what is it you expect that NATO will now be prepared to do to support our mission in Iraq?
RICE: We have been getting a very favorable reaction from European nations, all saying that, with the U.N. Security Council resolution, it's time for everybody to pull together and support this new Iraqi government, as it tries to build a stable and secure Iraq.
And I believe that NATO, there is a very good chance that — permanent representatives have, in effect, said so — that we will get a very positive answer to Prime Minister Allawi's letter requesting training assistance for the security forces of Iraq. I think he will also get a strong political commitment that the countries of NATO understand that the future of Iraq is important to them.
HUME: When you say a training mission, can you give a sense of the dimensions of that, where it will take place and, above all, how many Iraqi forces NATO nations might be able and willing to train?
RICE: Well, I don't know what the details will be, Brit, because what will happen is that, of course, they'll have to sit down with the Iraqis, look at the Iraqi plans for how many forces they need over what period of time.
General Petraeus, who is there doing the training for the United States, will also be involved in those discussions.
But NATO will urge that this all happen on a very urgent basis, that this isn't a long planning exercise, that really they're in a phase of looking to quick implementation of these plans.
I should mention, NATO, as such, doesn't have a training mechanism, so of course the training will be done largely by member states. But I think you'll see this happen rather quickly.
HUME: One presumes this will have to take place in Iraq, right?
RICE: I think there's probably room for both. We would like to see — most of the training will need to take place in Iraq, and in fact that's what Prime Minister Allawi requested. But it's not inconceivable that there are some kinds of forces that could be trained outside the country.
There are some training activities going on now, for instance, for police in Jordan. There are some activities going on in the UAE. So it's possible that there could be some training outside of the country. But probably most of it should take place in Iraq.
HUME: The level of violence remains high. Another explosion in Baghdad this morning. Does this threaten the handover and, also, the reconstruction? How much of this can you stand?
RICE: It's absolutely obvious that those who have no future in the new Iraq and the foreign terrorists are trying to derail this political transition. But Prime Minister Allawi and the Iraqi government have been very strong in saying that they are not going to succeed, that they are going to proceed. We are going to proceed with the handover to the Iraqis.
The Iraqis have also made very clear that security is going to be a very high priority, that they have measures that they believe that they can take, including bringing back some pretty sophisticated, pretty well-trained security personnel.
Yes, there are people who are trying to derail this, but we can't let that happen.
As to the reconstruction, they are also trying to deprive their fellow Iraqi citizens of the benefits of electricity, of the benefits of the oil exports that go directly, of course, to the Iraqi treasury. So yes, they're trying to derail that.
And on some of the essential services, there have been attacks that have slowed the reconstruction, slowed the repair of the electricity and oil. But it continues, and we're going to continue to press through, and so will the new Iraqi government.
HUME: Who are these sophisticated and well-trained security personnel of whom you speak?
RICE: Well, I think that the Iraqis believe that there are some people who have security training from the army and who can be brought back. Some have already been brought back. General Petraeus is looking at some of these people, and has been for some time.
But the Iraqis want everyone to know, and indeed the Iraqi government continues to say, that while they want to invite some trained personnel back, they are as concerned as everybody that people with blood on their hands not be brought back. They recognize that the future of Iraq cannot be built on the pillars of the worst of the old Baath Party.
And so, they're quite willing and quite capable of vetting people, but they believe that there are probably more trained personnel that can be brought back who are not yet engaged in the security forces.
HUME: Former Vice President Gore said here in Washington the other day that the president is intensely misleading the American people by continuing to aggressively and brazenly assert a linkage between Al Qaida and Saddam Hussein. Newspaper headlines on the 9/11 Commission staff report have suggested the same thing.
And basically the idea is, here in Washington anyway, that you keep saying that there's this linkage between Iraq and Al Qaida that doesn't exist. How do you respond to these accusations?
RICE: Well, first of all, the administration has been very clear that this is not about Saddam Hussein or Iraq's operational control and direction of Al Qaida. It is not anyone's contention that somehow Saddam Hussein directed 9/11.
But we know that going back for more than a decade, there have been contacts and connections between security personnel from the Iraq security services and Al Qaida. We know that they provided expertise in bomb-making, in document forgery.
We know that Zarqawi, who is the face of terror today in Iraq, was operating out of Iraq and, by the way, himself, was known to be from time to time in Baghdad. His network operated out of Baghdad, the very network that led to the death of Mr. Foley, the U.S. aid worker.
So it's simply not true that there was no contact, that there were no relationships between Al Qaida and Saddam Hussein. I would say that, yes, it wasn't operational control, but there was some facilitation of what Al Qaida was trying to accomplish.
And from our point of view, given the Bush doctrine about harboring terrorists and facilitating terrorists, and given that Saddam Hussein, not just with Al Qaida, but a wide range of terrorists, Abu Nidal, Palestinian rejectionists, paying $25,000 to Palestinian suicide bombers — Saddam Hussein's regime was a sponsor of terrorism. It's been noted in State Department reports for years and years and years. It's been noted in U.N. Security Council resolutions. It's simply not accurate to say that this was not a regime that helped terrorists.
HUME: You say you never asserted an operational connection or at least operational control. What do you suspect?
RICE: Well, I can't — you know, I can't speculate. I do know that there have just been a number of contacts, high-level contacts, over a number of years.
But you don't have to have operational control of Al Qaida or operational direction of Al Qaida in order to help Al Qaida. Helping them with document forgery or with bomb-making is helping Al Qaida. Supporting Palestinian rejectionists and paying $25,000 to suicide bombers is 180 degrees from the interests of the United States and peace in the Middle East.
The fact is, Brit, Saddam Hussein was a threat. His regime had used weapons of mass destruction, continued to seek to make weapons of mass destruction, had the capability, the intent, the knowledge and the know-how to do it. He'd attacked his neighbors. We'd gone to war against him in 1991. We'd gone to war against him again in 1998 because he'd refused to allow inspectors in. In 2003, the world finally said to him, "You really have to disarm or face serious consequences." He was firing at our aircraft in no-fly zones.
This picture that somehow emerges of a relatively benign Iraq is simply at odds with the entire decade and two years since his defeat in 1991. And that says nothing of the horrors that he committed against his own people.
So we need to get back to the picture here of what the United States and the coalition achieved. We overthrew one of the worst tyrants of the 20th century who was well into those activities in the 21st century. The Middle East is safer for it. America is safer for it.
And we should celebrate for the Iraqi people, that they're finally about to move toward a decent government, because heaven knows they suffered long enough under this bloody tyrant, as did the neighbors under the shadow of his threats.
HUME: It is also being argued now, Dr. Rice, in Washington and elsewhere, that, while we were doing what we've done in Iraq, that Iran, which has just this week said that it's going to go ahead and create the centrifuges which are necessary to the creating of a nuclear bomb, and North Korea have moved steadily forward on their plans to have nuclear weapons.
What about that, particularly what about Iran and what happened this week?
RICE: Well, it is true that Iran is a dangerous state. And we have been, the United States, the most aggressive and the most certain about our views that the Iranians are trying to acquire undercover civilian nuclear production, trying to acquire military uses for nuclear power, maybe even nuclear weapons.
And that's why we've been the leaders in working with the IAEA, working with the Europeans to try and make certain that the Iranians know that they really only have two choices: One is cooperate, the other is face isolation. So we've, by no means, been ignoring the Iranian problem.
The United States, of course, has also worked with the Russians to try and get the Russians be more careful about what kinds of technology they transfer to the Iranians.
It's a very tough situation, but we believe that this is one that still has a diplomatic solution within sight.
But the Iranians, every day, demonstrate why the United States has been so hard on them and why the president put Iran into the axis of evil when he talked about Iraq, North Korea and Iran back in his State of the Union address in January 2002. We've been very clear that these rogue states that seek weapons of mass destruction are a danger.
HUME: I just have one quick question — I know you have to go — and that is Sudan. Secretary Powell is going there. What do we expect to be able to do? The allegations, of course, that it's worse than starvation; it's genocide in parts of that country. What about it?
RICE: Well, we have been very active with the international community in getting a lot of attention to that region. A USAID mission is going out there. Of course, Secretary Powell's trip will call attention to the really, really difficult situation there.
We're working with others, with the Libyans, to try to get a third route for supplies to get in to Darfur. And we've been putting a lot of pressure on the Sudanese government to stop the Janjaweed militia from doing the horrible things that they're doing in that region.
This has been a preoccupation, Sudan, for the president going back to the beginning of his administration. And as a result, we've made a lot of progress between the Sudanese government in Khartoum and the SPLA in the south.
But we now really have to turn our attention to Darfur, and that's why Secretary Powell is going there. We've committed more than $100 million for the humanitarian and relief efforts in Darfur, and there is probably more to come.
HUME: Dr. Rice, thank you very much.
RICE: Thank you very much, Brit.