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U.S. Department of State

Great Seal Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright
Interview on CBS "The Early Show"
May 26, 2000 (Pre-taped May 25, 2000, in Florence, Italy)
As released by the Office of the Spokesman
U.S. Department of State
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MR. GUMBEL: (In progress) the return of Russian representatives after a year-long absence. What do you view as the headlines from their return?

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: I think the fact that they understand that there is a cooperative relationship to have with NATO. When we established this relationship, it was in order to allow them to have a consultative and discussion forum in order to talk about the issues of Europe. So I think it's very useful that they've come back.

MR. GUMBEL: How concerned are you, despite all that, by Moscow's recent threat to bomb targets in Afghanistan if Chechen rebels are sheltered there?

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: I think there is some question as to whether the threat was really made, but I think that we are concerned about the fact that the war in Chechnya might spread beyond the boundaries of Chechnya. We talked about that -- I did -- with Foreign Minister Ivanov about the fact that that would be something that would not work, I think, for the rest of the international community.

MR. GUMBEL: Are you confident the Russians would show restraint?

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: I think the Russians need to understand that the road that they're headed on with Chechnya is not going to lead to a solution, that there is no military solution to the problems in Chechnya. And not only the United States, but the other countries in Europe and numbers of others, are urging them to find a political solution for the Chechen issue.

MR. GUMBEL: I noted the upcoming summit. I know you met with Russia's Foreign Minister during your meetings at NATO in Florence. What should we expect to see accomplished at the summit to come?

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: I think it's going to -- what we're trying to do is to have a comprehensive summit to talk not only about the arms control issues but to talk about the economy, to talk about Chechnya, to talk about Russia's relations with Europe and some regional conflicts that exist that we have a common interest in trying to help solve. I think it's going to be an important summit where these two leaders really set down an agenda. They're going to be able to see each other a number of times before the end of the year, Bryant.

MR. GUMBEL: Should we expect any of our arms control differences to be bridged, specifically where the National Missile Defense system is concerned?

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: I think there will be certainly discussions about that, but I don't expect any kind of definitive answers. I think that this is a complex discussion that's been going on at lower levels, and it's now going to be time for the presidents to talk about. But I do not expect a definitive answer at this summit.

MR. GUMBEL: Let me move to other matters. As we speak, several conflicts are raging on the African continent, yet the US hasn't lifted a hand to stop the bloodshed or the slaughter of innocents. Why not?

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Well, I don't agree with that. I think that we have tried very hard in a number of ways to help with diplomatic solutions. We also have been providing lift for other countries to go into the areas. So I think we have been doing something. We are not the ones that are taking the lead in these particular cases; the British are in Sierra Leone. We are talking with the Nigerians to see what role they could play. We have been training the Africa Crisis Response Initiative. So we have been playing a role.

MR. GUMBEL: But, in a military sense, are we out of the peacekeeper business?

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: No. I think that we are doing what needs to be done. We have peacekeepers all over the world. And all we're saying is that we're not going to have combat troops on the ground, but we are assisting in a number of different ways in terms of the things that we're very good at -- communications, strategic lifts. That is what we're in the process of discussing with our friends that are involved in this.

MR. GUMBEL: This week, as you know, Israeli forces finally withdrew from Southern Lebanon after a 22-year occupation -- a void that was quickly filled, I might add, by Hezbollah forces. Are you, like Prime Minister Barak, prepared to hold Syria and Lebanon responsible for the actions of those Hezbollah forces?

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: We have made very clear that those that have control over the Hezbollah should tell them and make it very clear to them that violence is not the solution here. We have been working very hard with the United Nations to try to make sure that calmness remains on that border, that the border itself is verified as to the fact that the Israelis have withdrawn.

And I think the Lebanese people and the government need to be in control of their country. So we believe that the Lebanese army and that their police forces need to get down into South Lebanon; and then the United Nations, through UNIFIL operation there, should be able to help maintain the calm.

MR. GUMBEL: Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, thank you very much. Always a pleasure. Safe travel.

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Thank you. Thanks a lot, Bryant.

[End of Document]
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