|Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright
Interview on ABC's "Good Morning America" by Charles Gibson
January 8, 2001, Washington, D.C.
As released by the Office of the Spokesman
U.S. Department of State
QUESTION: Eleven minutes now after the hour, and we have more on the latest moves toward peace in the Middle East, and we turn to the Secretary of State Madeleine Albright who is joining us here live in New York this morning.
Madame Secretary, it's marvelous to have you here. Thank you.
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Good morning, Charlie. I'm very glad to be with you.
QUESTION: Is there any real reason for anyone to believe or even hope that there could be a Middle East peace agreement, or even a framework for peace initialed by the two sides before the end of the Clinton presidency?
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: We're going to try very hard to make that happen because, as the President explained last night, this is so important to the people in the region, to us, to history, and we're going to do our darndest to keep working on it.
QUESTION: But the Israeli Prime Minister is now down two-to-one, more than two-to-one, in polls -- reelection polls in his country. He may soon be gone; President Clinton may soon be gone. Is there really time here?
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: I think there is time if there continues to be a will. President Clinton said last night that sometimes when you do the right thing, right things happen. Prime Minister Barak has put a great deal into this. We've met with Chairman Arafat and we've obviously talked to Prime Minister Barak a lot. Dennis Ross is going out in the middle of the week in order to see whether the gaps can be narrowed. But we just have to keep doing our best. It's worth it. I don't know whether it will work, but we've got to keep trying.
QUESTION: Do you think a window for peace closes when Clinton leaves, and perhaps, as it looks now, Prime Minister Barak leaves?
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: I think it certainly is much more difficult because the ideas that President Clinton has put on the table, he said, would disappear with him. We have worked very hard on those, and the parameters are the ones that both the parties have agreed to in principle with reservations. I think any administration, when it comes in, takes a while to get its act together, so I think the time is now, if it's going to happen.
QUESTION: The President has talked, as a basis for his ideas, of a Palestinian state, a divided Jerusalem, and Palestinians giving up their right of return to lands inside Israel; and the Palestinians have said, no, this is not an acceptable basis for a negotiation. Is this the best deal you think the Palestinians can get for the foreseeable future?
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: I do, because I think that it is balanced. Neither side is going to get 100 percent of what it wants. But I think that Chairman Arafat has to understand that he would have a very large Palestinian state, which is what he has wanted, and the refugees can certainly go back to the Palestinian homeland. But other countries, including Israel, have to be able to have their own immigration admissions policy, and that's what is going to happen. But this is a very balanced and careful set of ideas, and I hope that the gaps can be narrowed.
QUESTION: The incoming President has implied that Mr. Clinton hurts the process by trying to rush two sides who may not be ready for an agreement, that Mr. Clinton does this really to give himself a legacy.
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: I don't believe that's the view of President-elect Bush. It certainly is not the view of my successor, Colin Powell. They would like us, I think, to get this off the table. I don't know if we're going to be able to. But there is nothing rushed about this, nor is there anything about this that is -- the whole process is not originated by President Clinton. The demands for his role are coming from the region itself, from the Palestinians and the Israelis, from the others in the region, and from the Europeans. So I really do think that is a completely wrong assessment of what President Clinton is trying to do.
QUESTION: When Mr. Clinton says, "These ideas go away when I go away," why is that the case? Does he believe that President Bush will not pursue these ideas himself?
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: I think it was something that he stated when he presented them to the parties, saying that this is something that has come as a result of his thinking and his judgment, and I think that the moment will have passed. So it's natural that since these are President Clinton's perceptions and judgment that they go with him -- unless, of course, they want them to stay, because I think they're very good. I think they are an excellent set of parameters.
QUESTION: Let me turn quickly to terrorism. We saw the American Embassy in Italy close down on Friday because of a terrorist threat. Is the Embassy now reopened?
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: It is reopened. The Italian Government has been very cooperative. I spoke with Foreign Minister Dini yesterday. They have been very helpful. But this is one of the very serious problems that a Secretary of State now has to deal with. The worst day of my tenure was when the Embassies in Tanzania and Kenya were bombed, and I think that security is unfortunately one of the major preoccupations that any Secretary now has to have.
QUESTION: Was the threat dealt with and has passed, or are security measures now in place that make you confident in reopening the Embassy?
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: The security measures are in place. I think that the threat is always out there, and I don't want to go into the specifics of this one, but we feel that with the cooperation of the Italian Government that security measures are in place.
QUESTION: Let me ask you about your relations with your successor, Colin Powell. There's a famous passage in his book that he wrote that sold a lot of copies. He said he almost had an aneurysm when you were questioning whether he would be willing to use troops in various situations. The discussion at the time was over troops in Bosnia.
Is he going to have to change his thinking, do you feel, as Secretary of State?
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: I hope he will, because I think that the circumstances when you can have six months to prepare, be able to have hundreds of thousands of troops be deployed, have the Earth be flat, have a terrible dictator go across an international line, and have somebody else pay for it is not the normal way that circumstances take place now. I have believed in the limited application of the limited use of force. As it turns out, it has worked in the Balkans.
QUESTION: So you feel there will be a rethinking by the new Secretary of State?
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: I don't think he is that rigid about it, but you'll have to talk to him. But I think that we have to have a choice, Charlie, between committing everything we have and doing nothing. We have to be able to use limited force, and we have to be able to figure out how to support the peacekeeping operations that the United Nations has.
QUESTION: As you prepare to leave office, greatest sense of accomplishment, high point for you?
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: I have a very good sense of accomplishment, and my high point really was the piece of the puzzle in Europe fitting into place with the Balkans now having democratically elected governments. There is a lot of work to be done, but I think we accomplished a lot. And NATO expansion was great.
And putting other issues on the table, I feel very good about the fact that Africa policy is no longer optional, that we have an entirely different relationship with countries in this hemisphere, that we're dealing with new foreign policy issues, like drugs and climate change and women's issues. So I feel pretty good.
QUESTION: And you mentioned lowest day was the bombings in Kenya and Tanzania. But your biggest disappointment as Secretary of State?
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: I think the fact that I didn't see a change of government in Cuba, and that we have worked so hard on the Middle East, and that I can't tell you here today that we have solved the issue.
QUESTION: Madame Secretary, it's always been a pleasure to have you here, and I thank you for joining us this morning. All the best to you.
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Thank you, Charlie. I've enjoyed every time I've been with you, on camera or sitting across from you like this.
QUESTION: We look forward to talking to you after your tenure as Secretary of State. Thank you. You can come back anytime.
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: I do, too. Thanks.
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