Rice says Iraq transition will take time
Updated: 2006-03-16 16:02
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Thursday that Iraq's political
transition will take a couple of years, acknowledging the process that is
currently stalled will not move swiftly.
Minister Alexander Downer, left, and U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza
Rice talks during their meeting on Thursday March 16, 2006 in Sydney,
Australia. Rice is in Australia to attend the Trilateral Strategic
Dialogue with Australia's Foreign Minister Alexander Downer.
"I think that there is a very good
chance that the Iraqi people, with the support of their coalition partners, will
build a good foundation, a political foundation, for a stable and secure Iraq
over the next couple years," Rice said. "This is a difficult task."
She added, "We should express confidence in them because every time they have
been confronted with a challenge," Iraqis have risen to the occasion.
On Wednesday, the Pentagon announced it was sending up to 800 more troops to
Iraq and repositioning thousands of others in response to increased violence in
the country and fears of more fighting prompted by a Shiite holiday.
Rice spoke after meeting with Australian Foreign Minister Alexander Downer
for talks that also covered Iran's nuclear program, Indonesia's development and
the recent nuclear deal between Washington and India.
She urged Iran to resume negotiations over its nuclear program, while also
calling the country the "central banker of terrorism."
She said she was "quite certain the (U.N.) Security Council will find an
appropriate vehicle for expressing again ... the desire of the international
community ... that Iran return to negotiations."
Later Thursday, Rice was twice shouted down by anti-war protesters as she
spoke to students at Sydney University's music school.
"Condoleezza Rice, you're a war criminal," a young man shouted minutes Rice
began her address. "Iraqi blood is on your hands and you can't wash that blood
away," he repeated until guards led him away.
Rice drew applause with her response: "I'm glad to see that democracy is well
and alive at the university," she said, adding that democracy is now also alive
at universities in Kabul, Afghanistan, and Baghdad, Iraq.
Rice's remarks echoed President Bush's defense of U.S. policy in Iraq this
week, as the third anniversary of the U.S. invasion approaches.
A day before Rice arrived, Australia said it will keep troops in Iraq at
least well into next year and announced a larger mission for about 450 troops
now stationed in southern Iraq. Iraq will be the focus of remarks Rice plans to
make to university students in Sydney later this week.
She also will join three-way security talks with Japanese and Australian
officials. Those sessions will include discussions about China's growing
military might and its influence in the Asia-Pacific region, said Downer.
"The challenge is to make sure that the growing power of China ！ its economic
power in particular ！ is harnessed to the advantage of the region," Downer told
Downer said the ministers would be looking not at containing China, but at
ensuring it works with the region.
"That depends on China itself ！ making sure it acts responsibly, and I think
China is acting responsibly ！ they've been doing a good job, for example, on
North Korea ！ but also, ensuring that the region itself understands the growing
role of China."
Downer added, "The rise of China can become a real positive , but it has to
Last week, Rice said the three countries must "make sure that we're looking
at a Chinese military buildup that is not outsized for China's regional
ambitions and interests."
That policy has drawn sharp criticism from some analysts.
"What initially seemed like a useful deepening of an established alliance is
fast developing into a prototype security relationship of the worst kind," Alan
Dupont, a visiting fellow at Sydney's Lowy Institute for International Policy,
wrote in the national newspaper, The Australian. "One which is exclusive rather
than inclusive, risks needlessly alienating China and looks like the forerunner
to an old-style, Cold War alliance."
Saturday's meeting comes against a backdrop of heightened tensions between
China and Japan after Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Aso described Taiwan as a
Although Taiwan has been self-ruled since splitting with the mainland amid
civil war in 1949, China claims the island as a province and stridently objects
to other governments describing it as a country.
Beijing described Aso's comments as "a brutal interference in China's
internal affairs and territorial sovereignty," according to a statement issued
last Saturday by the Information Office of the State Council, China's Cabinet.
Rice called off an earlier visit to Australia and Indonesia in January
because of the illness of Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. The decision was
widely viewed as a snub in Australia, which had planned the visit to inaugurate
the three-way talks with Japan.
The talks were rescheduled for this visit.
While in Australia, Rice was also visiting U.S. troops moored in Sydney's
harbor and attending the Commonwealth Games athletic competition in Melbourne.