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U.S. Department of State

Great Seal   Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright
Interview on CBS's "The Early Show" with Bryant Gumbel
December 10, 1999, Washington, D.C.
As released by the Office of the Spokesman
U.S. Department of State
Blue Line

MR. GUMBEL: The two countries have exchanged heated words over Russia's military action in the breakaway republic of Chechnya.

Secretary of State Madeleine Albright is in Washington. Madame Secretary, good morning.

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Good morning to you, Bryant.

MR. GUMBEL: Let me start with this listening device that was found. It was found in a sensitive area, it was extremely sophisticated, it was professionally introduced, it was very well hidden. Does all that pretty much guarantee that this spy, Gusev, had inside help inside your Department?

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: I have no idea about that and I can't comment on that. The investigations are going forward. It is an investigation that first had to require counter-intelligence activity and now the other investigative part of this is going on. And may I say that we have the most exemplary kind of cooperation now between the FBI and my Diplomatic Security Service and we are, obviously, deeply troubled by this.

But let me clarify something that you said. It is in sensitive areas of the State Department. We operate in a sensitive business. But not in my office or in the offices where the highest level State Department officials operate. And so we are concerned, we are investigating it. I was told about this several months ago and we have followed a very, very careful procedure.

MR. GUMBEL: Let me move on to Russia, if I could. I just characterized the relationship as icy. What adjectives would you use?

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: It's pretty chilly. But let me just say this, it is very easy to have a chilly relationship with a country with whom we were at odds for 50 years. The challenge here is how to manage a very complicated relationship with your former adversary and sort out where we have to be very tough, as we must now, on Chechnya because of the really unacceptable toll this is taking on civilians. On the other hand, we have a lot of business to do with Russia in the arms control arena as well as in trying to deal with various issues around the world.

I talk to Foreign Minister Ivanov on a practically daily basis and we know that we have many points of conflict but we also have many points where we cooperate.

MR. GUMBEL: The fact is, Russia has essentially consolidated its hold over Chechnya, surrounded the city, the capital city of Grozny. Are we powerless to stop them?

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: We are in physical terms. But what has happened is that we have, and the Europeans, have made very clear that this is unacceptable behavior.

The other thing that we are telling them is that this is leading them down the wrong path. What is necessary is to have a political dialogue and what's called the Chairman in Office, Foreign Minister Knut Vollebaek of Norway, of the OSCE is going on a mission now, next week, to Chechnya to be able to help in some way to get a political dialogue started.

MR. GUMBEL: The final area I want to talk about, and it is in part congratulating you because you recently succeeded in getting the Syrians and Israelis back to the bargaining table. What kind of US assurances did you have to give them to get that done?

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Basically, what they are interested in is an American role as an honest broker. Both parties, both the Syrians and the Israelis, trust the United States and, particularly, President Clinton for his ability to be able to be an honest broker. And so the talks are going to begin in the United States next week. President Clinton and I are going to be intimately involved in it.

And the whole point here is that what we managed to do was to have them stop negotiating about negotiations and begin to talk about the substance. But it's going to be tough slogging, I can assure you of that, Bryant.

MR. GUMBEL: Were there no promises of US forces being used, being deployed to patrol borders?

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: No promises have been made, no. What we have said is that we consider having a comprehensive peace very important. Obviously, we have played a part in the Israeli-Egyptian peace and the Israeli-Jordanian one and we have a role, as an honest broker. And then we try to help as we can afterwards.

MR. GUMBEL: Secretary of State Madeleine Albright. Always a pleasure.

I assume I won't see you in the next two weeks so enjoy the holidays.

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Nice to see you, Bryant. You, too.

[End of Document]
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