SHARM EL-SHEIK, Egypt – The following is a transcript of the an interview with the Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice conducted by FOXNews' James Rosen on Thursday, May 3.
QUESTION: Madame Secretary, thank you very much for your time, as always.
SECRETARY RICE: A pleasure to be with you.
QUESTION: You have said many, many times — perhaps more times than you really should have been forced to say — that it's not a question of talking to the Syrians; it a question of whether they will act. Today, you talked to the Syrians. Did you leave that encounter convinced they will, in fact, act to stabilize Iraq?
SECRETARY RICE: Well, actions will always speak louder than words. And the context here was the conference on Iraq. When we announced the conference, I said shortly thereafter that I would take an opportunity if it arose to reinforce the message that is being delivered here by all of Iraq's neighbors that everyone needs to do everything possible now to stabilize this young democracy.
QUESTION: Did you come away convinced they will act toward that?
SECRETARY RICE: We will wait and see.
QUESTION: So that's a no, you're not convinced?
SECRETARY RICE: I'm not convinced by words. I'm convinced by action. But in this context with the whole world really gathered here — 60 countries gathered here to talk about stabilizing Iraq, another large meeting tomorrow with the neighbors plus the G-8 and the P5, this is a good context in which to remind people of their obligations.
QUESTION: A military spokesman for the United States, Major General William Caldwell, was quoted in Iraq today as saying that there has been some movement from the Syrians, that there's been a reduction in the flow of foreign fighters into Iraq for more than a month. Is that something that we have observed?
SECRETARY RICE: Well, I've seen the reports. Apparently, there is some diminution. But I think we don't want to assume that this is a trend. We do —
QUESTION: Why not?
SECRETARY RICE: Well, let's wait and see if it continues. Let's see if more can be done. We may have seen a reduction; we haven't seen an end to the foreign fighters coming across. And the point that I made today is that this isn't an issue of something that Syria can do for the United States. This is something in which Syria has great interest because extremists gathering in Syria are going to be a threat to Syria as well. So in the context of this neighbors meeting, I think it was a very important message.
QUESTION: What did the Syrians do, to your knowledge, to affect the flow of foreign fighters over the last month?
SECRETARY RICE: James, I don't — I haven't looked in great depth at General Caldwell's statement or what he meant there. But there are many things that Syria could do and I hope —
QUESTION: Have you seen them do anything?
SECRETARY RICE: I hope that they will do those things. There are things that they can do to control visas at Damascus airport. They can — I know it's a long border, but they can do a lot more to make sure that those foreign fighters are not coming across.
The foreign fighters are, we believe, a principal source of the suicide bombers who are killing innocent Iraqis and also threatening our forces.
QUESTION: You also exchanged a few words, pleasantries we're told, with the Iranian delegation today. How did that go? Do you feel good about it?
SECRETARY RICE: Well, it was a lunch. There were several people there: Saud al-Faisal, the Foreign Minister of Saudi Arabia; the Omani Foreign Minister; Prime Minister Maliki. And it was — we just exchanged some pleasant words, but it was cordial.
QUESTION: One of your top aides who was dispatched to brief reporters on background last night told us that in the view of the United States these Sunni Arab states here in the neighborhood do not have an accurate, fully accurate picture of what Prime Minister Maliki has already done and he intends to do further to protect everyone equally in Iraq.
I had an interview today with the Saudi Foreign Minister. I mentioned this to him. No names. And I said that United States officials are saying on this very trip they believe that there has been a diminution in sectarian violence over the last four months; do you not see it? And he said, "I wish you could show me some."
SECRETARY RICE: Well, clearly there are some suspicions here and this is a neighborhood in which there have never been easy relations between Iraq and its neighbors well predating the Maliki government. And so it is a matter of building confidence, and one of the things that we hope tomorrow's conference will bring is an opportunity for Prime Minister al-Maliki to present to his neighbors some of the things that they've been doing, to talk about how we begin to move forward.
But I did tell Prince Saud when I met with him that we have seen a reduction in sectarian violence, that we have seen efforts by the Iraqi Government to be more evenhanded during the Baghdad security plan. It's not perfect.
QUESTION: Did he believe you?
SECRETARY RICE: Well, he listened. And I think we'll continue to make that case. But it's most important that the Iraqis make that case and that they continue to demonstrate that, in fact, they are being evenhanded in the way that they are bringing people to justice.
QUESTION: We have some time. We have two minutes left. I want to ask two more questions, if I may. You are often described as an architect of the Iraq war. Is that a characterization or a term to which you object?
SECRETARY RICE: Well, I don't know about architect of the Iraq war, but I certainly was very much in agreement that it was time to deal with the threat of Saddam Hussein. And I am someone who believes that we did the right thing. And even though there have been a lot of ups and downs, and I'm sure we made mistakes, an Iraq without Saddam Hussein that has a chance for a democracy that will be a democracy that does not support terrorism but indeed fights terrorism, that it indeed protects its own people, and that is a pillar then ultimately of a different kind of Middle East is well worth having. And I'm still very much one who believes that we did the right thing.
QUESTION: Do you think we can get there within five years?
SECRETARY RICE: Well, I can't put a time limit on it, but I'll tell you the Iraqi people have made a lot of steps in that direction — having elections in which more than 12 million people — Iraqis voted, having a constitution. It's a struggle. And they're struggling against violent extremists. But I think the kind of support that they saw here today from the international community and that I believe they will see from the neighbors tomorrow is a big piece of the puzzle in how they move forward toward a more stable future.
QUESTION: We have 30 seconds. You often describe yourself as a historian, as an academic. After you leave office, to what extent will you feel obligated to make yourself available to historians and academics? You often talk about how you'll read and grade papers that deal about your conduct of yourself as a public official, but to what extent will you feel obligated to and submit to interviews and oral histories with historians and academics about your time in power?
SECRETARY RICE: Well, I hope to do that. I do think that it's important to have (inaudible) be an unbiased source, so I would encourage that historians will also look at the record and they'll make their judgments. But —
QUESTION: But you'll help them?
SECRETARY RICE: Of course. This has been a monumental undertaking and I think we will see that in the long run history will judge well that America stood by its values. To me, one of the best things today was listening to the South Koreans and the Japanese talk about how they too had been through difficult experiences but how they'd come out on the other side. That, I think, was very reassuring to the Iraqis and to those in the room.
QUESTION: Time prevents me from saying other than thank you very much.
SECRETARY RICE: Thank you.