CNN Interview 010209
CNN Interview with Christiane Amanpour
Aired 1 February 2009 - 14:00 ET
This is a rush transcript. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I Barack Hussein Obama do solemnly swear.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In office, in charge and in demand. In all four corners of the globe, calls for U.S. President Barack Obama´s attention, influence, commitment and America´s money. The problem is, America´s broke.
OBAMA: The state of our economy calls for action, bold and swift. And we will act.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Competing demands, high expectations. Can one man really change the world?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And now, please welcome your host for "Dateline Davos", CNN´s chief international correspondent, Christiane Amanpour.
CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: To our viewers in the United States and around the world and to our audience here at Davos, Switzerland, welcome to "Dateline Davos: Obama´s World."
The euphoria that has greeted the election of President Obama is really worldwide and the truth is it is now the moment of truth. He has exploded out of the foreign policy gate with a raft of executive orders, decisions, appointments on everything from the Middle East, on Guantanamo Bay, Iran and Iraq and Afghanistan, climate change.
So, the question now is - will his allies start to cooperate again with the United States and how will he be able to engage adversaries? We have a very distinguished panel of world leaders here to answer those questions and we´re going to start right now. And I would like to put my first question to the Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga. I want to know from your perspective how do you greet the election of the first black president in the United States?
RAILA ODINGA, KENYAN PRIME MINSTER: Never before has been the world so electrified by an event happening outside the borders of other countries in the world, like the recent presidential elections of the United States. Kenyans, like the rest of the world, are so electrified by the campaign, and the inauguration of President Obama. There is a lot of hope like never before in the world that once the only superpower right now is going to lead the world and offer the true leadership that the world desires.AMANPOUR: What do you think he´ll do for your continent, Africa, briefly?
ODINGA: He has already telescoped his agenda for Africa. You´ll remember in 2006, he had a very extensive tour of Africa and during that time, he spoke very extensively about his agenda for Africa. Good governance, transparency, and accountability in management of public affairs. He also talked about the game of inclusion rather than a game of exclusion.
And the problem of Africa has been because of bad governance and a game of exclusion. The world is responsible for the troubles, for the clashes, for the wars that have plagued Africa for a long time. So, we think that he will work very closely, with progressive African leadership in order to be able to provide a much better relationship, cooperation, trades, and investment between the United States and Africa.
AMANPOUR: Thank you. I´m going to turn to you now, foreign minister Bernard Kouchner of France. France has been reliably the anti-American nation over the last eight years. Is this going to change?
BERNARD KOUCHNER, FRENCH FOREIGN MINISTER: Yes, it has already changed. But no, we were not anti-American. We were not so much in favor of a very precise policy. And with the election of President Obama, it will change.
AMANPOUR: So, do you think that he can count on you now, you and other European allies, to really make the hard decisions? You won´t be able to count on anti-Americanism among the population anymore. You can´t -
KOUCHNER: We are not against the Americans, at all.
AMANPOUR: I realize that, against American policy. But it was very easy for you and other leaders to sort of go with the flow of the public opinion. Now it´s changed so, for instance, how do you see relations between the Europe and the United States under the Obama administration?
KOUCHNER: Let me tell you that just we were a bit right before the others. Second -
KOUCHNER: Sorry. Touche. No, we want to work with President Obama, and I believe that this alliance, not the new alliance, but the reinforcement of the alliance between United States of America and Europe, not France, will be absolutely key for the opening of the dialogue, and I want to underline that this is a man of dialogue. He´s not so sure having the choice in between the right and the fast, the bad and the right, et cetera.
AMANPOUR: It´s not a good-and-evil thing, you´re saying.
KOUCHNER: Good and evil. It was a sentence I´ve already heard, yes. OK so he´s not that kind of man. He´s a man of the art, opening the art, opening the minds of the people. They´re looking for peace. But he is also, I believe, I know, I´m sure, a man of conviction.
AMANPOUR: Mr. Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki of Iran. The new U.S. administration of President Obama has basically already extended a hand and said that they want to try something new, dialogue, an engagement with Iran. Are you also ready to give this new administration a chance and to grab that extended hand?
MANOUCHEHR MOTTAKI, IRANIAN FOREIGN MINISTER [through translator]: In the name of God, the compassionate, the merciful, I would like to thank the invitation provided to me by this panel. And I believe that the new President of the United States needs a little bit more time to define and introduce the ideals and the objectives.
We should not put him in the hard position we believe that the situation has been exhibited to the United States that the word "change" has been introduced, has been introduced.
Change is the result of the collection of the groups of the policies in the last decades in the United States, where the fundamentals of the policies for the United States. I believe that the United States of America should see why they need to change. I believe that these whys are the strategic issues.
And they´re not tactical approaches. And they are not the - just the changing of literature. The United States needs change because the world has been changed drastically. We are looking for a better world. Therefore, the framework of our topics instead of the expectations should be realities and hopes.
In the frameworks of realities and hopes, we should review what has happened before. And we should have this courage and we should have respect this courage that in the domestic policies of the United States, people they´re suffering a little bit a kind of form of in confidence.
AMANPOUR: Are you going to be ready to engage if the United States is ready to engage?
MOTTAKI: Fully ready to take into consideration the issue range, and more important than that, the performance of the new approaches. We believe that this is a very important one.
AMANPOUR: Can I ask you, Defense Minister Abdul Rahim Wardak of Afghanistan, the head of NATO just this week said that the war in Afghanistan will not be won without engaging Iran, without Iran´s involvement as well. What do you think he meant by that and do you agree? What can Iran do to help this very dangerous situation in Afghanistan?
ABDUL RAHIM WARDAK, AFGHAN DEFENSE MINISTER: The key in the type of war against terror with which we are engaged, it needs, the concerted and coordinated efforts of the regional power as well as the global power. So, Iran is our neighbor. We have a lot of historical, cultural, linguistic, social ties.
AMANPOUR: How can Iran specifically help? Reduce the violence, reduce - try to help end the war.
WARDAK: They are already helping with the assisting Afghanistan. There are also some common traits which we have. We have the traits against terror, a common trait, it´s against gangs, organized crime, weapons smuggling, which we already have some sort of corporation operation in some of these fields.
AMANPOUR: How about in Iraq, foreign minister Hoshyar Zebari, thank you for joining us. Since we are talking about Iran right now, how about - can they play a positive role in Iraq and what about the constant accusations of weapons, you know, and harassment of U.S. and other international forces in Iraq?
HOSHYAR ZEBARI, IRAQI FOREIGN MINISTER: Well, I don´t want to put my good friend in the hot seat here. But for Iraq, actually, I think Iran is both a neighbor and a friend.
Iraq is - has close ties with the Islamic republic and we have a healthy relation in all fields. That doesn´t mean that we don´t have difficulties or problems. We have a long history, a long legacy of wars, of mistrust, of distrust in the past. Don´t forget there was an eight years of war between Iran and Iraq.
After now we are trying to settle all this violence, on the missing, on the waterways, on interventions. So, really we have many, many commissions that are addressing this. But you won´t actually see the Iraqi new regime or the Democratic regime as a friendly government and we have been very honest and very direct in telling foreign ministers and leaders of Iran that it is in everybody´s interests and Iran´s interest to have a stable environment.
Because instability in Iraq cannot be contained. All these issues of interference, of sending weapons or IEDs, or supporting militias, we have been really very, very pleased with the Iranian leadership, and they have been helpful, again, in trying to rein in the militias at the time when we´re suffering from a very serious sectarian conflict. They play an important role in that. We can give them that credit. But it doesn´t mean really that the relations are very smooth. There is nervousness, there is some concerns not only in us, in Iraq, but in the region.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The thoughts of one of these states using nuclear weapons destroy our civilization accidentally or by design is much, much higher than we have today.
KOUCHNER: All the issues you´re talking about, Afghanistan, and in the middle, and this a great company. We have to come with them. We have to open the dialogue. It´s exactly what President Obama says.
AMANPOUR: The previous administration´s policy on Iran was isolate Iran. Many, many people are now saying as I said that it needs Iran to help solve Iraq, Afghanistan, elsewhere in the region. Do you agree with that? What´s your view as a French ally, as a European on this sort of engagement that U.S. wants to do with Iran?
KOUCHNER: Of course, we have to open the doors and the dialogue. Talking about Afghanistan, of course, we have to open. And it was the goal and it was the item of our meeting in Paris with all the neighbors of Afghanistan. Unfortunately my good friend Mottaki didn´t attend. But, well, next time. So, we have to believe in a sort of permanent to start the dialogue. We did, we tried. It was not just access. But all the issues you´re talking about, Middle East, Afghanistan, of course, Iran and in the middle, and this is a great country, we have to come with them. We have to open the dial. It´s exactly what President Obama says.
AMANPOUR: The Defense Secretary of the United States has just said that he thinks the U.S. focus now should be just going after al Qaeda and the Taliban and not so much democracy and nation building. This is actually a bit of a reverse of what he said several months ago that soft power should be implemented, that basic nation building should be implemented. Does this concern you that the U.S. is going to turn its - potentially turn its sights purely to the military?
WARDAK: I think that there is a new prospect for a pure military victory. All the elements which is required for stability in Afghanistan, in addition to the military operation will be require to ensure an enduring peace and stability.
AMANPOUR: So, what would you say -
WARDAK: And all these elements will be, I mean, to several protection, several control, proper governments, building infrastructure, and economic development. All these has to go together.
Otherwise, that type of unconventional warfare which we are engaged on, you cannot win it. The key and the focus - the focal point is the people. I mean, the support of the people, and making sure that the lives of the people will be better and that this government will be - will bring the lasting victory. Not only just military operations.
AMANPOUR: Yeah, but the United States has spent a huge amount of money and attention on Afghanistan since 2001. Now, the new Obama administration wants to review even the close relationship with President Karzai potentially. There´s a lot of corruption. There´s a lot of failure in the reconstruction, in the political solution and political development, the Taliban are roaring back.
The Iranians say that the Taliban controls something or the militants nearly three-quarters of the country. What are you going to say, then, to Secretary Gates, Obama´s defense secretary about their new plan?
WARDAK: Actually, they have spent a lot of money, I think I will quote Vice-President Biden saying that the U.S. have not spent in seven years in Afghanistan what they have spent one month in Iraq. So, from the beginning, the threat was anticipated very low. And based on that, all the aid in the structure of the national security forces the other institution was founded on a very wrong assumption. So now, I mean, claiming that so much of the effort have been consumed in Afghanistan, I will not agree with it at all.
I hope that with the success of Iraqi brothers and surge of the U.S. forces, as President Obama promised during the election, Afghanistan will become a focal point to win this global war against terror. That will require all different elements of proper governance, economic development, the building of infrastructure. And now to come about, to talk about corruption.
I have already issued this morning, also I´m not defending the corruption, we all say in my presidency there is corruption, but recently, I think at the last six, seven months, the government has taken really firm steps to counter corruption. There is a counter corruption department. There´s the force. And there are hundreds of people have been arrested.
So I really don´t want that anybody should use - I mean, corruption and these other issues, as an not to help us. In the ´80s, I think we Afghans, we have shattered the invincibility of the red army. We have helped to the liberations of two dozens of countries to the unification of Germany, to the end of Cold War, and the result was that the whole world prospered because of that.
Only the misery and suffering of my people have continued and we - what we got out of it, about two millions killed and hundreds thousands of orphans, widows, and handicaps. And $300 billion worth of destruction based on the estimates of the World Bank and IMF.
So, now if there is any morality after these worlds of equality, fairness, justice for all are not just hollow, hollow and empty words, and we all believe that this word is a global village and what´s happened in Afghanistan affects us all, then I think as it has been repeatedly mentioned by all of our friends and allies and the past seven years, that Afghanistan shall never be allowed to become a failed state or an ungoverned area where the terrorists can plan and hide and operate from, and Afghanistan become an instrument of instability or harm to the rest of the region or the international community.
AMANPOUR: Let me bring in Mr. ElBaradei, the head of the IAEA. What do you expect the new Obama administration and how do you expect it to be able to, you know, assess and grab that problem in any way different or better than the previous administration?
MOHAMED ELBARADEI, DIRECTOR GENERAL, IAEA: Well, Christiane, let me broaden that discussion a bit because for the first time, at least, I have started to have some hope that we will have a world that is safer, that is saner, that's more humane, you know.
There are three issues I´ll put before you. One, it doesn´t really make any sense 20 years after the end of the Cold War that we still have 27,000 warheads in existence. Does it make any sense that we still nuclear power bring power, prestige and influence of protection. Does it make any sense that the U.S. and Russia continue to deploy nuclear weapon against each other? That each one - each leader will have 30 minutes to launch a nuclear attack and with it the entire civilization would be gone.
President Obama have said the right thing, that the first priority should be to move toward a legal commitment they have taken, the weapons states, 40 years ago, a world free from nuclear weapons.
That obviously is not going to happen overnight. But there´s a lot of things he can do in the next six months. A Nuclear Test Ban Treaty. A cut-off of production of nuclear material for weapons, deployment of nuclear weapons, multinationalization of the fuel cycle technology, which is a new form of proliferation. That´s one cluster. And he can do it in six months.
The other one is that the whole cluster of what you call a Democratic Middle East, and he, again, said yesterday that there´s a relationship between all these problems. What we talk about Afghanistan and Iraq are symptoms, are not part of the deep-rooted problem. I´ll quote you Scowcroft who said that the injustice coming out of the Palestinian issue is so pervasive and so durable that you will never get a Middle East and peace with itself unless you resolve the Palestinian issue.
AMANPOUR: We´re going to talk about that. But do you approve of what Hillary Clinton said in her confirmation hearings for instance that they´re going to try and revitalize all these arms control agreements?
ELBARADEI: Oh, absolutely. I think there is no other way. I think having a world that haves and have-nots, those that rely on nuclear weapons and say nuclear weapons are good for our security but everybody else cannot have a nuclear weapon is not sustainable. This is not just wishful thinking unless she and the U.S. will take the lead in that, we will enter with not nine nuclear weapon states but 20 or 30 nuclear weapons states.
And the odds of one of these states using nuclear weapons destroy our civilization accidentally or by design is much, much higher than what we have today.
AMANPOUR: OK, well you´re sitting here with the Iranian foreign minister. You know there is a deep disagreement around the world with how to deal with Iran´s nuclear program. How is this going to go forward?
Are you willing to come forward with a solution that will increase trust in the world, regarding your nuclear program?
Actually, the West did isolate -
AMANPOUR: - Gaza because of the victory of Hamas. It didn´t approve of that, for all the reasons that the West has, that it doesn´t recognize Israel.
KOUCHNER: The West?
AMANPOUR: The United States.
KOUCHNER: We tried to get in the doors, the open door or the closed door.
AMANPOUR: There´s a deep disagreement around the world about how to deal with Iran´s nuclear program. How is this going to go forward? Iran says it has the right to its nuclear program. The West wants it to stop. How is this going to go forward and what is your assessment on whether they are meeting their international obligations under, you know, the nuclear parameters and the inspection?
ELBARADEI: Christiane, the efforts, as I said, change the whole environment. So, we´ll have a security system that does not depend on nuclear weapons. Then I come to the Middle East. The Middle East is a state - a region which is absolutely unstable in terms of security. I mean you have on the one hand, all the countries in - in the NPT, Israel is outside of the NPT not to have nuclear weapons. Now we have Iran with international concern that Iran is developing the technology, might be trying in the future to develop nuclear technology.
AMANPOUR: What do you think?
ELBARADEI: Well, there are two aspects to the Iranian issue, the technical issue and the political issue. The technical issue that Iran needs to work with the agency to establish all the questions we still have, vis-a-vis its past and present programs. They can for example as Minister Mottaki knows very well, they need to give us the access through that so-called Additional Protocol, access to information, access to location, so I will be able to provide credible assurance about the current and past nuclear program in Iran.
Then the political part, which is concern about Iran future intention. What the U.S. and the Europeans are concerned about. It is not Iran today, it´s Iran´s future intention. That is primarily a political issue. A security issue will not be resolved except through direct dialogue, without precondition between the U.S. and Iran. And that´s why I think what President Obama have said, that he is ready now to speak to Iran without precondition, without - on the basis of mutual respect is the way to go, it´s long overdue. I mean, we spent six years trying to build confidence between the U.S., Europe and Iran and I´m sorry to say the policy has failed.
AMANPOUR: There is no confidence.
ELBARADEI: There is absolutely zero confidence. I don´t think we´ve moved one iota on that. I can also tell you, again, based on where I am sitting, any time you try to isolate a country, the results get much worse. I look at North Korea. North Korea until 1994 there was a dialogue. Stop the dialogue after the Bush administration came to power, North Korea developed nuclear weapons.
Iran, the objective was Iran not to develop the technology, enrichment technology. There is now a dialogue, Iran now has mastered the technology. Hamas, the idea was to isolate Hamas and the net results that the we have the Gaza carnage. Whether you like or you dislike your enemy, you have to talk to them. That´s the lesson I have - I have to draw every time I deal with a crisis.
AMANPOUR: Well, as the only representative of the western countries dealing with the nuclear situation, you say what a burden. But do you agree with Mr. ElBaradei that it´s a political solution first, it´s not just a technical solution?
KOUCHNER: Absolutely. And we tried. As you said in the beginning, we tried. We tried to talk, then we extend to the Russian, to the Americans, and we tried and tried. And after our Iranian friends, as we used to say, we are not answering to Mohamed ElBaradei´s question, questions. We were trying to get contact one after the other. Oh, the Germans and the Brits and the French and the Russian, et cetera.
And at the last meeting in Geneva, including the Americans were there to try to talk with Iran and desperately we were talking and talking without any result. So, let´s technically as you said, get an answer or several answers on very precise questions. Then politically you´re completely right. We have to open and with the new administration, the Americans, this is a new era, opening the door, as I say, is also opening the minds and the hearts. We must do it. Europe and people are completely ready to do so.
AMANPOUR: Are you - sorry. I just want to ask Mr. -
ELBARADEI: I think we need to be practical and we need to deal with the two issues simultaneously. There is a symbiotic relationship between the two. Iran should come forward and answer the technical issues. The dialogue should start without preconditions. Both of them will feed each other.
AMANPOUR: So, Mr. Foreign Minister, are you willing as President Obama has said, to engage Iran without preconditions? Are you willing to come forward with a solution that will increase trust in the world, regarding your nuclear program, and are you willing, in this new environment, to meet Mr. ElBaradei´s needs which is to answer the technical questions that are still outstanding?
MOTTAKI: Ms. Amanpour, I believe and let me say to the distinguished colleagues, I believe that you - we have an important agenda. We are not here to provide diplomatic response and short response to the questions.
I believe that we need to somehow put aside different layers of the discussions and issues. It is not President Obama to talk to the world. I believe that Americans talk a lot to the world. They talk more than enough. And I believe that now Americans should listen. They should exercise to listen. They should try to listen to the others. Why did not the West respect the political decisions of Palestinians in Gaza?
Why there are always elections that even the EU representatives aren´t there, they did not recognize the new government, the new publicly elected government of Hamas in Gaza. We believe that back up the stage there is an exclusion which has proved its experience. There is a kind of unilateralism which proved its failures to the world, a kind of unilateralism which in the - in the arrangement of the world prove to be failed is still trying to prove itself.
Mr. Obama should distinguish and introduce its differences with - its policies with President Bush and which aspect he has differences with President Bush. We should know the approaches of President Obama. And we should know the differences between two gentlemen´s approaches.
AMANPOUR: It´s a very impassioned look back. But what I want to do is look forward.
KOUCHNER: Yes, but don´t confuse anything and everything, it is impossible. We were talking with technical problems. We are absolutely open to the nuclear civil powers, and we try to help you. We offered you, not only friends, but Europe in people and all the people. This is one thing.
But we are certainly frightened by the perspective of the use of military nuclear power. That´s why we´re a bit anxious and we ask you and very politely to answer to the Agency´s question.
Now you´re gather Hezbollah, Lebanon, please, this is not the same problem. And we were not refusing at all the verdict, the electoral verdict of the Palestinian people are not on the country. We were following because they had the president and the relation in between the Palestinian is not - are not so evident. But we wanted peace. And we tried. Unfortunately it has not been done because also in between the Palestinian and the Arab world, this is not so completely clear, if I may say so.
AMANPOUR: But, Mr. Foreign Minister, to talk now about the Middle East, actually the West did isolate Gaza because of the victory of Hamas. It didn´t approve of that for all the reasons that the West has, that it doesn´t recognize Israel -
KOUCHNER: The West?
AMANPOUR: The United States and the West -
KOUCHNER: On the contrary, we tried to get in by the doors, the open door or the closed door.
AMANPOUR: They blockaded for a long time. It was very difficult to get any aid or any goods or marketing into Gaza since Hamas won. You know that since 2006.
KOUCHNER: I know that. Not only I know that but I condemned that. I was not in favor of that.
KOUCHNER: Not at all.
AMANPOUR: So as we go forward and France is involved now and President Obama has named George Mitchell, Senator Mitchell, as an envoy, how is this going to change? Do you see a change coming?
KOUCHNER: I hope it will change, but the first conclusion of the first meeting of the 27 European nations was open the doors, open the gates, lift up the blockades and we are still in favor of that.
You cannot besiege people without reaction. You cannot besiege people without the coming of smuggling for food, for everything. Then after, of course, we´ll try to do so.
But, you know, there is also a political problem. I don´t want to come back to history, who provoked the others. We are still and very strongly in disfavor of rocketing Israel, then starting the war against Gaza.
And the result are not evident. The result is that the poor people are still suffering. So, we need peace. And coming back to the process, I believe that it was really a good surprise but not so much a surprise, the first thing that President Obama did, he said I´m concerned by Middle East problem.
He phoned to the people in charge of the region and he say, we´re coming back and he sent Senator Mitchell. Senator Mitchell is coming back and discuss with Senator Mitchell on Monday in Paris, we´ll listen to him. And certainly European Union and America will work together for peace and opening the doors and lifting up the blockade and having access to human interest and more than human interest, because this is a very strange word, is it reconstruction or not, et cetera. Political problems don´t have to be even behind, you know? There are political problems in the area.
ZEBARI: I think, Christiane, the greatest legacy the Obama administration could leave behind is to achieve peace in the Middle East.
AMANPOUR: Between Israel and the Palestinians in the Arab world.
ZEBARI: Between the Palestinians and others also. Because we have seen new attitudes and a new direction. We have all been very encouraged by the positive messages we are getting, Palestine, Israel and Iraq and Afghanistan. And this attitude, the isolationist attitude of isolating a country is not helpful, even with Iran. We believe although Iran would be a key focus for this administration. But there is a real opportunity I mean for both the West and for Iran to reach a solution.
I think that window will be opened. And this is how I read it. I agree with my good friend ElBaradei that isolation is wrong. To the credit of the Iranians, Iraq actually sponsored a dialogue between the Bush administration and Iran in 2007. And we had three sessions in Baghdad to talk about stability in Iraq. So, I´m very encouraged really by this new attitude. I think this needs to be taken. Otherwise we will see escalation and escalation and further suffering.
AMANPOUR: Well, let me ask your country, I mean, you know, everybody likes to say that it´s getting better. You like to say it is getting better. Of course, there are less and less allied and U.S. forces being killed, but there are a lot of Iraqis still being killed by suicide bombs. And there is a continued risk of instability. What do you make of President Obama who wants to get the troops out within 16 months?
ZEBARI: We are making progress. The government is performing better. So, this year is very critical for Iraq and for the region.
ODINGA: The time has come for the rest of the world, the time to go is now and we are willing to give you a golden handshake. Indeed, we must, so that you can.
AMANPOUR: And now you´re speaking English for us.
KOUCHNER: Yes, he´s speaking English. You notice I was not speaking French in a French-speaking country.
AMANPOUR: What do you make of President Obama, who wants to get the troops out within 16 months?
ZEBARI: I think we´ve been very reassured by Secretary Hillary Clinton recently who spoke together, and she showed strong commitment to Iraq´s democracy, sovereignty and also to bilateral as well as to respect the agreement, the security agreement, of troops withdrawal, the strategic framework agreement that we´ve signed with the United States to develop a healthy relation between two nations.
This administration really would be committed to those agreements. And for the short time, I think this commitment will continue. We are making progress. The government is performing better. This year, Iraq will hold three elections. And I think at the end of the year, you will have a different picture.
So, this year is very critical for Iraq and for the region and thus we need the attention of the international community. These achievements we want to make them durable. We are doing our best. There is less violence. There is more stability, and there is better regional environment between Iraq and its neighbors.
AMANPOUR: Do you think that stability and progress could be compromised if the troops come out too soon?
ZEBARI: I think we´ve been reassured really there wouldn´t be any drastic or irresponsible troops withdrawal. This will depend on the conditions on the ground, on the assessment of the military commanders, on the assessment of the Iraqi government to this troop drawdown. So, you wouldn´t see a quick disengagement from Iraq.
AMANPOUR: Prime Minister Odinga, you know, for a long time, for the last eight years, there seemed to be, you know, a stain on the United States. The world was not happy, the United States wasn´t happy. There was Guantanamo. There was torture. There was, you know, lack of cooperation on climate change, all these things that made - not to mention the war in Iraq, that made for a very angst-ridden relationship between the world and the United States.
Do you think that the U.S. is going to be able to recoup that? I know we spoke a little bit about President Obama´s victory and what it means personally. But do you think the world is going to become friendly again almost overnight towards the United States, or will it take some concrete actions, and what are they, as far as you´re concerned?
ODINGA: Well, you see if you judge President Obama by his statements on the inauguration, he said he was extending a hand of friendship to the rest of the world, those who want to work with the United States. And that they will face those who are coming up with clenched fists. I think that President Obama should not carry the baggage of the Bush administration. He has already shown a little goodwill by closing all of the - the close of Guantanamo Bay. And I think that the United States can´t help to bring peace in the world, in trying to engage more, even with those whom they perceive to be their opponents.
AMANPOUR: What do you think he should do about Zimbabwe?
ODINGA: Well, I´m going to come over to Zimbabwe.
AMANPOUR: There´s talk that there may be sort of a raft of sanctions or some really intense American action to get Zimbabwe to play ball.
ODINGA: Definitely. You know, I belong to those who believe that Africa deserves better. That is because of the poor leadership. That´s the reason why Africa has not been able to claim its rightful place in the world. That this must change.
We are now in a place of transition, where you´re seeing new leadership emerging in Africa, progressive, Democratic leadership. There is the eminence of the past era, they have been called in who are still there, and President Mugabe belong to that group of people.
AMANPOUR: And it´s such a failure, though, it seems by the big powers if you like South Africa and others in the region to get their act together and to act against one of their own who is violating principles of democracy and international law. What can be done to get African leaders to do more in their own backyard?
ODINGA: I have spoken very loud on this issue. I´ve stated that the leadership in Africa has failed the people of Zimbabwe.
ODINGA: The others do not have the courage to come up and tell Mr. Mugabe that the time to leave has come. In my view, I don´t think that a kind of coalition government like Mugabe will work. The time has come for the rest of the world has come to tell Mr. Mugabe. The time to go is now. And we are willing to give you a golden handshake, indeed we must.
AMANPOUR: A golden handshake?
KOUCHNER: Meanwhile, people are dying. So, there is a real question. What about sanctions? We are to lift up the sanction or not? We are to insist, because to say to Mr. Mugabe, you have to leave, is not enough, my dear friend, not enough. So, this is a failure for the rest of the world.
AMANPOUR: So, what would you suggest?
KOUCHNER: I think that we have to insist to take care first of the sick - you know there is -
KOUCHNER: Cholera and they are dying. So, there is a real reason to come in. Humanitarian forces, not an army.
AMANPOUR: You mean a humanitarian intervention.
KOUCHNER: Humanitarian intervention, medical intervention, at least. And for the time being, if you are sending your Red Cross, the National Red Cross, they are not authorized to enter. They have no clearance. So, this is the beginning, the beginning of the minimum. Otherwise we´ll wait for months and months and years and years. He´s not ready to leave, he´s in good shape, Mr. Mugabe.
AMANPOUR: Can I ask you something about Europe? You know, Europe has criticized Guantanamo Bay and those practices over the last eight years. But now President Obama is looking for ways to close it, he says, within a year.
AMANPOUR: And there are 245 or so prisoners there and nobody in Europe is going to take them. Nobody´s going to help out Mr. Obama. The British have said no. What do the French say?
KOUCHNER: Not completely true. We decided first we have to look for the status of these people. So, the commission Europe and the commission three days ago decide to offer a legal picture of who are they. Some are refused. Some are not guilty. Some no evidence, et cetera. So, first we have to see are they looking for asylum? And we answered the French, that it will be, I guess, I don´t know, a general European answer. Case by case, one after the other, yes.
On voluntary base, they have to - the people have to say, I want to go to this country, and without any legal problem for us, so yes, it will be first we approve President Obama´s decision, of course, to close, of course, Guantanamo. And second, we are ready case by case to - some people have been asked to take 25 or take 23. Well, this is not the way. They are not a package. They are not - nobody. So, one by one and on a legal base, yes, we´ll see that.
AMANPOUR: So you think you might -
KOUCHNER: Come back because I was worry about - I was not very clear to answer to -
AMANPOUR: Go ahead.
KOUCHNER: Thank you very much. I will clarify the suggestion, Mr. Mottaki.
AMANPOUR: And now you´re speaking English for us.
KOUCHNER: Yes, that´s my success, he is speaking English. You notice that I was not speaking French, in a French-speaking country.
KOUCHNER: German sometimes, but I want to say general case.
Clearly. We are in favor of the existence of the state of Israel. We are strongly in favor of the existence of the state of Israel. And we are also in favor of the existence of the state of - Palestinian state. This is the double-state solution. And we were not completely in agreement with the people of Gaza on that matter. And we believe that this is the direction we must really stick on that. Clearly, this is part of the solution.
AMANPOUR: You agree?
AMANPOUR: Two-state solution?
MOTTAKI: I accept the Government of Palestinian.
MOTTAKI: Let´s move together, OK.
KOUCHNER: OK, thank you.
MOTTAKI: Acceptance of the Government of Palestine is a part of a reality, which wanted or not, the international community agrees to that. Those who displace the original settlers of these countries - these land in their agenda, they did not believe that they come to the point that they accept a Palestinian state.
We believe with a deeper approach by looking comprehensively to the issue, we could find a more fundamental solution for the issue of Palestine. Islamic republic of Iran has a part of the Middle East fought over the issue and have got its plan over this issue, and we hope that in the next panel that we are going to have in regards to the Middle East, we hope to tackle with that issue.
We believe to the extent that the Palestinian people risked their rights by forming the Palestinian state in any part of their territory and land which they succeed to form the state. Certainly they have the support of Islamic republic of Iran, and certainly we support the unity of the Palestinian factions.
We support the Arab world, and we believe that we should be a little bit deeper. And those who hastily gathered in Annapolis and raised the issue the same very day, they got their response. It shows that the issue of Palestine as a 60-year problem needs a deeper - a deeper vision and view.
In this regard, we have something to say. We have plans to raise. We have ideas. And certainly with Mr. Kouchner, we are going to sit and talk and provide him our details of our plan. And we hope that he supports Iran´s stand regarding Palestine´s issue.
KOUCHNER: Are you in favor of the Arab initiative? Yes or no? Because some of your friends are not, Arab initiative. I´m not talking about the existence of viable and secure Israel, which I believe is an accessory. Arab initiative, are you in favor of? Because, of course, it´s a - I´m talking in his name.
MOTTAKI: We - we support the return of Shaba Farm (ph). We support the restoration of Golan Heights and we are supporting the restoration of the lands and territories of Palestinians and no matter how but the restoration of the rights of the Palestinians to the Palestinians. We support.
KOUCHNER: This is a kind of answer.
AMANPOUR: Did you get your answer to the two states?
KOUCHNER: Not completely, no. No, no, no. On the one state, yes, I understood, but well -
KOUCHNER: No, but - we have to talk. We have to talk.
AMANPOUR: So, you will talk about that. But I just want to end now. We are out of time, with just one more try and attempt to get your answer to what was an extraordinary thing that the new President of the United States has done. In his inaugural address, he reached out specifically to one group of people, to the Muslim world. He gave his first interview to an Arab television channel. And he has said that he wants to pursue a new way forward with Iran and with the Muslim world based on mutual dignity and mutual interest and mutual respect. Will you take that hand that he has extended?
MOTTAKI: Most part of the Islamic world, unfortunately, have been - have been suffering because of the - because of the past U.S. administrations. We are supporting these change of approaches regarding to providing a constructive approach, a practical one, based on a transparent strategy regarding to the Islamic world as a part of the Islamic world. We welcome this.
KOUCHNER: Very good.
AMANPOUR: And the rest of it is to be decided in future negotiations, but we´ve run out of time. And we thank you, all, for watching. We thank you, all, in this audience for being here. I´m Christiane Amanpour, thanks for being at "Dateline Davos: Obama´s World." Thank you very much.