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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL

Interview With John McCain

Aired September 23, 2003 - 11:33   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

AARON BROWN, CNN ANCHOR: We are joined now by Arizona Republican Senator John McCain. Senator McCain has been listening to the speech and probably had some time coming down the elevator to think about what he heard and means.
First a quick take, Senator.

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: I think it was a good speech. I think it laid out our case for not only what we did, but also the need for further international cooperation.

The compelling issue is obviously Iraq, but I think it was important for the president to lay out some of the other things we are doing internationally and our significant assistance to the United Nations.

So, I think it was a good speech. But I must say I am not optimistic about Mr. Chirac's statement nor the progress of negotiations between the United States and the French.

BROWN: Senator, there was a piece in "The Times" this morning suggesting that even within the Iraqi provisional government that's been formed and the former head of the Iraqi National Congress, there is some growing impatience at the rate at which Iraqis are getting control of their own country.

Do you have any concern that there's an additional pressure coming from the Iraqis, our allies in this, themselves?

MCCAIN: I think that it's very appropriate and understandable that they would want to assume control of their government as quickly as possible.

I would point out that the security problems are still severe. We see that every day with the tragic loss of another American soldier, another attack. You've got to get the security situation under control, which in my view means more American troops.

But I think it's appropriate that we start turning over portions of the government to the Iraqi ruling council and set the stage for a new election and adoption of a constitution. I fully understand Mr. Chalabi and others desires to take over quickly, but I think it's got to be done in a measured fashion.

(CROSSTALK)

BROWN: I'm sorry. I apologize for interrupting you.

MCCAIN: There's obviously a -- go ahead.

BROWN: I guess the point that I would like you to speak to, you know, it's one thing, I suppose, for the French or Germans or the South Africans or anybody else to say, You need to turn over control to the Iraqis. But if that message comes from the Iraqis themselves, does that not serve to undercut the political support that the president is trying to gain at the United Nations?

MCCAIN: I don't think so. I don't think they're incompatible, Aaron. I think we can accelerate some of this process, particularly, which we have already announced, accelerated training of their army, police, et cetera.

But the fundamental fact remains we do not have a secure nation, particularly in the so-called Sunni Triangle. We need to achieve that before we could have a significant turnover. But we can do a lot of things, I think we're doing a lot of them.

BROWN: Senator, it's always nice to talk to you. Senator John McCain of Arizona.

MCCAIN: Thanks, Aaron.

BROWN: The senator has talked for weeks now if not longer about the need for more American troops in Iraq. No indication if the White House has heard that. I'm sure they'd literally heard it if they're inclined to move on it.

TO ORDER A VIDEO OF THIS TRANSCRIPT, PLEASE CALL 800-CNN-NEWS OR USE OUR SECURE ONLINE ORDER FORM LOCATED AT www.fdch.com




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