Tracking Number:  179191

Title:  "Iraq Must Have New Leadership, Kimmitt Says." TV interview of Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Robert Kimmitt. (910404)

Translated Title:  "Kimmitt: L'Irak doit avoir un nouveau dirigeant." (910404)
Date:  19910404


04/04/91 (Reprinted by permission. Use, credit as indicated.)

IRAQ MUST HAVE NEW LEADERSHIP, KIMMITT SAYS (Transcript: MacNeil/Lehrer interview) (2270)

Washington -- Although a formal cease-fire will go into effect in the Persian Gulf if Iraq fully implements Security Council resolution 687, passed April 3, a top U.S. State Department official says the Iraqi people still will be faced with a choice between "a hard peace or an easy peace."

As long as Saddam Hussein retains power in Iraq, Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Robert Kimmitt said April 3, "it's a hard peace."

"There is no way we can have normal relations with a government headed by Saddam Hussein, and we would take that position in the Security Council," he said.

Kimmitt noted that a meeting at the State Department with a group of Iraqi opposition members "is the first of a series...because of the gravity of the situation inside Iraq."

Pointing out that President Bush has ruled out only one option -- the military option -- in responding to the unrest in Iraq, Kimmitt noted that the United States can take diplomatic and economic steps, "with emphasis, as the president indicated, on the humanitarian side."

He said the world community has contributed somewhere between $50 million and $100 million to support the more than one million people who have fled Iraq since August 2, and the United States "has paid a major share."

Following is the transcript of the interview. (Permission has been obtained covering republication/translation of the transcript by USIS/local press outside the U.S. On title page, carry: From the MacNeil/Lehrer News Hour, April 3, 1991, co-produced by WNET-TV and MACNEIL/LEHRER GANNETT PRODUCTIONS. Copyright (c) 1991 by Educational Broadcasting Corporation and GWETA.)

(begin transcript)

MACNEIL: A key American player in U.N. efforts to deal with the war against Iraq has been Robert Kimmitt, the undersecretary of state for political affairs, who joins us now.

GE 2 TXT403

From what the president was saying, it seems that even if Iraq totally implements this very onerous U.N. resolution terms, it won't have paid its debt to international society.

KIMMITT: Well, I think that Iraq first is obligated under the U.N. charter fully to implement the provisions of all U.N. Security Council resolutions, including Resolution 687, which passed overwhelmingly this afternoon, the 14th in a series of resolutions designed to move us from condemnation of Iraq through a formal cease-fire.

If they live up to those obligations, a formal cease-fire certainly will go into effect, but I think the president made clear that so long as Saddam Hussein is still in power in Iraq, we cannot have normal relations with a leader who would inflict this kind of tragedy upon his own people.

MACNEIL: But the U.N. resolution said all the sanctions will be lifted if Saddam Hussein meets all the terms of the resolution. The United States would not continue to -- I'm not clear about this.

KIMMITT: Actually what it said was that some sanctions would be lifted immediately. Consistent with what the president said, we are immediately lifting the sanctions on food and other humanitarian items going into Iraq. All other sanctions remain in place.

Certainly the weapons embargo remains in place. All the resolution says is that other sanctions will be kept under review every 60 days or so to see if there should be adjustments. And it's quite clear that if the leadership of Iraq were to change that there could be major adjustments.

The Iraqi people have a choice between a hard peace or an easy peace. So long as Saddam is there, it's a hard peace.

MACNEIL: So the real message of this resolution today, this unprecedented resolution which sort of ushers in the new world order is if Iraq wants normal, peaceful, free trading relations with the rest of the world, Saddam Hussein's got to go. It's got to have a new government.

KIMMITT: I think the message of this resolution is that the new world order stands for collective action designed to protect and promote common interests. That has really been the basis of the world community's actions since August 2.

I think what the president has said as a statement of U.S. policy, that there is no way we can have normal relations with a government headed by Saddam Hussein and we would take that position in the Security Council.

GE 3 TXT403 MACNEIL: Why is the State Department now suddenly beginning to meet with members of the Iraqi opposition?

KIMMITT: Well, first of all, it isn't sudden. We have had discussions with various members of the Iraqi opposition in the past but the meeting today was one that had come in as a request from a group of individuals who asked to meet and did meet earlier today with Assistant Secretary John Kelly.

It is the first in a series of meetings that we'll be having. I would think as a matter of course there will be an acceleration of the number of these meetings simply because of the gravity of the situation inside Iraq.

MACNEIL: We had a number of Iraqi opposition leaders who'd come over from London for a meeting on this program three or four weeks ago, and they said they couldn't get the American government to talk to them.

KIMMITT: I don't know the details on those. I think I'd rather focus on the future. The fact is, we met today. We're going to continue to meet with these individuals.

MACNEIL: How would you respond to people who might claim that this is a bit of cynical window-dressing because there is now -- to calm the sort of political outcry that's been building up about the apparent Washington indifference to the slaughter of the opposition in Iraq?

KIMMITT: I don't think it would surprise you that I'd reject that out of hand. We are not pursuing a policy of cynicism. That is what Saddam Hussein is pursuing, a policy cynical about his own people, their own rights and beliefs.

We are trying to pursue a policy that is moral, in keeping with the highest moral standards, one that enjoys widespread respect among the world community.

MACNEIL: What is the purpose of the meetings?

KIMMITT: The purpose of the meetings is to lay out for these individuals our view of the current situation inside Iraq, what we are prepared to do to try to advance the cause that these people hold dear, and to listen very closely to what they have to say, to make suggestions as we move forward.

As the president said, we've ruled out only one option, and that is the military option. There are diplomatic steps that we can take, economic steps that we can take, with emphasis, as the president indicated, on the humanitarian side.

It might interest your viewers to know that over a million people have fled Iraq since August 2. Those people have

GE 4 TXT403 been processed largely by U.N. and other agencies. The world community has contributed somewhere between $50 (million) and $100 million to support these people. The United States has paid a major share.

And now that we are starting to see Iraqis leave the country, we will provide that same kind of assistance to them.

MACNEIL: Your colleague Margaret Tutwiler, the spokeswoman of the department, said today, "The plight of the Kurds is heartwrenching. It's appalling and it's tragic."

Others are saying, and you've heard them and read their comments and their editorials, that it is also hypocritical and immoral for the United States to do nothing, when it was President Bush who urged them, in effect, to rise up against Saddam Hussein.

KIMMITT: Well, again, I think the president made quite clear in the comments you had earlier on your show that we share the deep concern, the frustration with the inability of the Iraqi people to select a leadership of their own choosing.

But the person who brought this about was not anyone in the United States. It was Saddam Hussein, who is practicing these barbarous acts against his own people.

MACNEIL: The call most often raised by the Iraqi opposition and by some people in this country, is to stop Saddam using his helicopter gunships against them.

On March 19 President Bush said their continued use in that manner would make it very complicated in terms of bringing about a cease-fire. Why did that cease to be a complication in bringing about a cease-fire?

KIMMITT: Well, I think that the fact is, the president has made clear that we're not going to involve ourselves militarily. To go after those helicopters in the far northeastern part of that country would require our forces to go well beyond the lines in which they are now operating, and I think we are prepared not to do that because it was quite clear that that would have exceeded the U.N. mandate.

What we have put together today is a cease-fire resolution consistent with the U.N. mandate, the previous 13 resolutions. Again, that cease-fire goes into effect formally upon Iraqi acceptance of these terms.

MACNEIL: But the president thought it was a complication in terms of bringing about a cease-fire on March 19. Then it stopped being a complication. One can only read that as

GE 5 TXT403 saying, yes, Saddam Hussein can go on using the helicopter gunships against the people rebelling against him.

KIMMITT: I don't think so. I think the president made quite clear that he condemned what the Iraqis have done. He called on the Iraqi leadership to stop doing this, and that he made clear that we will take all steps short of military steps to try to help the Kurdish and other Iraqi peoples who are now under attack.

MACNEIL: Did the United States seek to make that a condition of this final cease-fire resolution?

KIMMITT: Well, the cease-fire resolution, as I say, did not exceed the mandate of the previous resolutions. Therefore, no, we did not seek to make it a condition of the cease-fire resolution because the purpose of the cease- fire resolution was to bring the conflict to an end in a manner consistent with the mandate previously that had been set out.

MACNEIL: Does the department agree and the administration agree with General Schwarzkopf that the United States was suckered on the question of the helicopters?

KIMMITT: Well, I'll let General Schwarzkopf speak for himself.

MACNEIL: I mean, do you all think that Washington got suckered on that issue?

KIMMITT: I think that General Schwarzkopf made clear that the Iraqis indicated that they were going to use the helicopters primarily for transportation and logistical purposes. They've obviously gone beyond that purpose, not in a way that has brought U.S. or coalition forces into danger but in a way that has inflicted further suffering on the Iraqi people.

The military to military terms that General Schwarzkopf was negotiating in Safwan on March 3, were ones that had to do with a suspension of hostilities between coalition forces and between the Iraqi forces. It had nothing to do with an internal civil war in Iraq, and that's what the current situation is.

MACNEIL: I'm still not clear about one thing, since it's the issue that everybody keeps raising who wants the United States to do something: the helicopters. If the president thought it was something that would get in the way of achieving a permanent cease-fire which will lead to a withdrawal of U.S. troops and everything else, on March 19 what happened?

Did you all get together and say, "Hey, wait a minute, if we take action against the helicopters, it's going to

GE 6 TXT403 involve more than just shooting down some helicopters?" Was there a calculation? Maybe the president overstated it? What happened between March 19 and afterwards?

KIMMITT: Well, again, I'd let the president's words stand on their own, and I think only he could give you the definitive answer of what he meant.

Certainly, however, had there been no civil war in Iraq, had there been no military action being taken against the military people so that the focus could have been solely upon the U.N. Security Council resolution, we might have been able to move to that point quicker.

However, I reiterate that the cease-fire resolution, built upon the previous 13 resolutions that had to do with getting Iraq out of Kuwait, restoring peace and security in the region -- that is, removing Iraq as a threat to its neighbors -- and it was on that basis that this resolution was put together.

It was not a resolution intended to embroil the U.S. or other coalition forces in an indigenous civil war.

MACNEIL: Does the United States support, on consideration, the call by President Mitterrand to keep the sanctions in place until Saddam stops repressing the Kurdish minority?

KIMMITT: Well, again, the United Nations has spoken on behalf of the world community, and Resolution 687 passed this afternoon. The only goods that are now going to be able to get through to Iraq are food and other humanitarian items, and I think that President Mitterrand would support that food going in to the Iraqi people, including the Kurds.

Beyond that, any changes in the sanctions would have to be as a result of further Security Council action, and certainly the policies of the Iraqi government and the leadership of the Iraqi government would have to be taken very carefully into account.

(end transcript) NNNN

File Identification:  04/04/91, TX-403; 04/05/91, AR-512; 04/05/91, AS-533; 04/07/91, AE-407; 04/08/91, AF-104
Product Name:  Wireless File
Product Code:  WF
Languages:  Spanish; French
Document Type:  TRA; INT
Thematic Codes:  1NE
Target Areas:  AR
PDQ Text Link:  179191; 179341; 179515