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MSNBC "Hardball" - Transcript

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MR. MATTHEWS: Right now on the phone we have presidential candidate John Edwards, who's out in Iowa, and who spoke with President Musharraf just today.

Senator, tell us about your conversation with the head of Pakistan.

MR. EDWARDS: Well, I urged him to continue the process of democratization in Pakistan. I also urged him to allow international -- independent international investigators into Pakistan to determine the facts about what happened with Prime Minister Bhutto's death so that it would actually have some credibility in the international community and for it to be done transparently. And I also spoke to him about the scheduled upcoming elections.

MR. MATTHEWS: Well, did you get an answer, first of all, to the international investigators checking out why this assassination occurred?

MR. EDWARDS: No, he told me hadn't thought about it, but he would give it thought. And as to the elections, I think it would be irresponsible for me to comment on that. I'm going to let him speak for himself.

He did say, on the issue of democratization, that he was fully committed to moving forward with democratization. So we need to hold his feet to the fire on that.

MR. MATTHEWS: Where are you on the whole Bush policy of basically getting in bed with Musharraf and staying there? With some exception, we have basically put all our money on this fellow. Do you think that was a smart U.S. policy, going back to 2001?

MR. EDWARDS: I think we have to change what we've been doing. We've spent $10 billion on Musharraf. I think a great deal of that money, instead of going toward the Pakistani government and the Pakistani people, has gone to bolster Musharraf himself. And I think that aid needs to be changed. It needs to be reformed. And we need to do a couple of other things, Chris. Instead of dealing with Pakistan in a unilateral way, we ought to be dealing with them multilaterally. And we need intense diplomacy in Pakistan. But at this moment, what the United States of America and the president of the United States need to do is to act with strength, with confidence, and we need to be a calming influence in a very erratic and dangerous situation.

MR. MATTHEWS: If you get elected, you'll be taking the oath the 20th of January of 2009. What will be your first campaign to catch bin Laden in the hills of Pakistan? How will you go about doing that, catching the guy who killed so many of our people and probably had something to do with this situation today? We can't be sure, but he's certainly our enemy. How would you capture bin Laden, Senator?

MR. EDWARDS: Bin Laden and al Qaeda, Chris, are public enemy number one for the United States of America. And as president of the United States, I will take that as the A-1 priority in my presidency.

Now, precisely what I would do come January of 2009 is impossible to say at this moment because it's impossible to know what the circumstances will be and what will be the situation with the Pakistani government. Have they done what they need to do to clean up the northwest provinces? Have they, in fact, taken responsibility for providing security there and going after bin Laden? What have we done to intensify pressure on the Pakistani government? Is Musharraf still the president of Pakistan? I mean, there are a number of unknown circumstances that we can't possibly know over a year in advance. But I can tell you, I would take that responsibility very seriously.

MR. MATTHEWS: Okay, thank you very much, Senator John Edwards, calling us in from Iowa today. He spoke with President Musharraf just a while ago.


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