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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL

Rice Press Conference

Aired October 14, 2003 - 15:39   ET

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

KYRA PHILLIPS, CNN ANCHOR: All right, we're going to take you live the White House now. Condoleezza Rice addressing reporters. Talking about the president's upcoming APEC trip but talking about Iraq now.
(JOINED IN PROGRESS)

QUESTION: Just on the U.N. resolution, the French, Germans and Russians have jointly introduced a number of amendments. What is the thinking now about whether or not those are acceptable?

CONDOLEEZZA RICE, NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: We are looking at what the Russians and others have proposed. We think that the resolution that we've put forward is a very good resolution, that it is, first and foremost, a good resolution for the Iraqi people in that it both paints a horizon for the return -- I shouldn't say the return. Under Saddam Hussein, it's not as if the Iraqi people were really sovereign.

So let me say for the establishment of a freely elected and sovereign government in Iraq, it paints that horizon, it begins to bring into the system the United Nations in a way that is appropriate for the United Nations at this stage, as opposed to when 1483 was passed and encourages international organizations, particularly the international financial institutions to get involved.

So we think it's a very good resolution, but of course we are happy to look at suggestions that others might have.

QUESTION: Dr. Rice, the president today said that the United States has a strong dollar policy. At the same time, he criticized the Japanese and the Chinese for intervening to essentially prop up the dollar. In fact, their own strong dollar policy. Does the president think that the dollar is overvalued against those two currencies? And which way does he think it should be going?

RICE: The president believes that the market ought to set these rates, and the president is adhering to a strong dollar policy, which has been U.S. policy for a very long time.

QUESTION: Does the president have any plans or specific goals with regard to terrorism in this part of the world? And could you address the security concerns about this trip? I mean, he's heading to a dangerous area.

RICE: Well, it's obviously a part of the world that has had a lot of security challenges. If you just think about the challenges the Philippines has faced, the challenges that Indonesia has faced, obviously Southeast Asia is an area of great concern on the terrorism front. It is an area that has al Qaeda affiliates. It's an area that has extremist organizations.

And part of what the president will want to do is to encourage those governments in Southeast Asia to remain, as they have been, to remain resolute in the fight on terrorism, to see what more we can do to assist. We are of course assisting in a major way in the Philippines, where we have been helping and training in the Philippine army to deal with the Abu Sayyaf group and with other terrorist groups.

But we have really excellent relations with these governments. They face real challenges, and this is an opportunity for the president to talk about that and to talk about practical ways that we might enhance cooperation.

It's one reason that we believe APEC needs to discuss security issues, because while APEC is an economic forum, economics and security are inextricably linked. You only have to look at what happened in a place like Bali, when you had the terrorist attack there. You can see that the economy and terrorism are linked. So this is a place, this is a region with a lot of challenges and it will be a major issue.

QUESTION: Dr. Rice, some senior Pentagon officials are saying that your memo establishing the Iraq Stabilization Group is a low- level reorganization, does not affect the Pentagon, does not affect Secretary Rumsfeld, that Secretary Rumsfeld is still in charge of the reconstruction of Iraq.

But others inside the Beltway are saying it's a major reorganization, that it's a slap at Rumsfeld.

Can you tell me, very definitely, who's in charge, you, Rumsfeld, Powell, Alexander Haig or who else?

RICE: Well, first and foremost, of course, this is the policy of the president of the United States and we all work for him. But as the secretary said, and we are in complete agreement about this, and if you actually read the story, it makes very clear that the Defense Department and Secretary Rumsfeld remain the lead agency in the reconstruction of Iraq. They're on the ground. Jerry Bremer and the CPA report to the Pentagon, up through the Pentagon to the president. Nothing has changed in that. Nothing was intended to change in that.

What this is is an effort to provide here better support to the CPA in the field, to the Pentagon in their role, and to make certain that there is good interagency coordination and work so that this reconstruction can go forward.

And since we're on, as Jerry Bremer said, an accelerated reconstruction calendar now, we have to make sure that there are not bottlenecks back here, we have to make sure that we're mobilizing the entire U.S. government. The Treasury Department has an important role to play. The State Department obviously has an important role to play. Justice has an important role to play.

We're trying to mobilize the entire U.S. government to support this effort.

But I want to be very clear: I'm the national security adviser. What I do is coordinate policy. I don't operate, I don't implement, I coordinate policy.

It is the secretary of defense who will continue to run the postwar reconstruction, as he has done and as he has done well.

QUESTION: On bilateral meetings with the president of Mexico. What we're going to expect from President Bush, give us another continuation of talking of he's committed to the immigration reform, but...

PHILLIPS: National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice, back and forth with reporters at the White House. Obviously taking a lot of questions about Iraq. But even more so, talking about the president's upcoming trip. The APEC trip coming up, the economic forum. He'll be heading to Thailand in just a few days. Also hitting the Philippines, Japan, Indonesia and Singapore. We'll of course follow that trip.

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