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Public Statements

ABC "This Week" - Transcript

Interview

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Gentlemen, thank you very much, indeed.

LUGAR: Thank you.

KERRY: Glad to be here.

AMANPOUR: Before we get to the upcoming business of START, let's talk about the repeal of "don't ask/don't tell." Historic. What does this mean for the U.S. military and for the country?

KERRY: Well, for the country, it means that our citizens will no longer have to lie and live a lie on a daily basis or be denied the opportunity to serve their country. Gay people have served the United States with distinction. They've won awards. They've given their lives all through our history. We had a policy that asked them to lie about it. They no longer have to do that.

I believe it fulfills an enormous promise of equality in our country. It's an historic day.

AMANPOUR: Senator Lugar, you did not vote to repeal "don't ask/don't tell," and yet the majority -- the vast majority, 77 percent of the American people, say that it's time. Why did you not do that?

LUGAR: I was influenced by those who are in combat presently in Afghanistan and the testimony of the Marine commandant that the adjustment that would be required by this is one that really ought not be take place, and -- and given the -- the -- the problems of combat and -- and Afghanistan currently.

AMANPOUR: So do you think it's going to be implemented? I mean, Secretary Gates, Chairman Mullen have said it will take some time to implement, but they are sure, like many other militaries around the world, that it will be implemented without too much of an issue, if at all.

LUGAR: Well, that was sort of the enabling clause of what we voted on yesterday, that this is pushed back until somehow these adjustments can be made.

AMANPOUR: Let's get...

KERRY: Can -- can I just say, quickly? I understand completely what Dick Lugar and John McCain and others were expressed, which is a view that some folks in the military still have. And I think that's why many of us felt it was so important for the Congress to do it, because if the courts did it, then there wouldn't be this capacity that Dick just referred to that allows Secretary Gates and the military to decide how they're going to implement it.

AMANPOUR: Well, another big struggle is the START treaty, the New START treaty, nuclear treaty between the United States and Russia. And I know you've been furiously lobbying to get this done. Do you believe that there will be a vote, that it will pass?

KERRY: I believe it will pass, and I believe there will be a vote.

AMANPOUR: And you, Senator Lugar? Will your members, the Republicans in the Senate, have enough numbers to pass this? Two-thirds of the Senate has to vote on it.

LUGAR: Several Republicans will support it, and I join the chairman in believing that there are the votes there. The problem is really getting to that final vote.

AMANPOUR: But the chairman, Senator Kerry, says that it will happen early this week.

LUGAR: Well, he would know as well as anyone. I think...

AMANPOUR: Do you doubt it?

LUGAR: I think we still have a good number of amendments to be heard, and we will do our work shortly today, as a matter of fact, to try to move things on. AMANPOUR: And on the substance of the complaints by Senator McCain and others that this treaty somehow impairs and impedes the United States' ability for its missile defense shield, what are the facts that you can tell them about that? KERRY: The most significant fact of all is that the general in charge of our Missile Defense Agency, who is responsible for this program, says unequivocally, in testimony between the Armed Services Committee, Foreign Relations Committee, and publicly, there is no restraint, zero, none, no restraint whatsoever on our missile defense capacity. Secretary Gates says it. Secretary Clinton says it. The -- the intelligence community says it. All of our military leaders want this treaty. So...

AMANPOUR: The words in the preamble, are they legally binding? KERRY: No, there is no legal binding statement whatsoever. There is a sort of statement that for political purposes was necessary to -- to achieve what we achieved. The important thing is, the Russians wanted to have a binding statement precluding us from having missile defense. There is nothing in there that restricts our missile defense system. The president made that crystal clear in a letter he sent to the leadership. I read it on the floor yesterday. And he has said he disagrees with whatever statement the Russians have made publicly. We are proceeding forward on the understanding within the treaty. Within the four corners of the treaty, there is zero restriction on U.S. missile defense. AMANPOUR: What happens if it is not ratified? What does this mean for the security of the United States? LUGAR: Well, it's a very bad picture. The importance of this is that the Russians are important to us. We're hearing on the floor that the Russians are one thing, but it's almost as if this is a generation ago. Now it's North Korea or Iran. We're saying, as a matter of fact, it's very important to have boots on the ground in Russia inspecting what is occurring, verifying what is occurring, as we have had, so we don't make vast mistakes in terms of rebuilding all of our armed forces or taking other actions. Furthermore, it's very important that we have negotiations with the Russians, as we will proceed then, to take a look at the tactical nuclear weapons, other ways the Russians can work with us against nuclear in Iran or North Korea.

To throw away all of those opportunities simply because some feel the Russians are no longer relevant or -- or we should just simply build whatever we want to quite apart from the Russians seems to me is an illogical stance, but we're hearing a lot of that. AMANPOUR: Well, you have spoken about Russian cooperation on Iran, North Korea, and all the other areas of -- of vital American national security. Also in Afghanistan, it seems the Russians are now allowing the U.S. to re-supply forces in Afghanistan. The president unveiled the Afghan review, the war review this week, and it seems saying that there's not fast enough progress, but decent progress on the ground. But one of the key issues remains the sanctuaries and the re-supply of Al Qaida and Taliban into Afghanistan from Pakistan. What more can the United States do to get Pakistan to close those borders? LUGAR: I'm not certain there is much more we can do. Our diplomacy has worked full time. So have our agreements with the Pakistanis, in terms of their own security. But at the same time, the Paks don't really have control over a lot of the territory. People have been coming and going for -- for decades, as a matter of fact. We -- we just have a problem there that -- quite apart from the fact the Taliban are re-entering some of the northern parts of the country, quite apart from the fact that even after we expel Taliban from towns, there's not much governance in many cases, and debates on billions of dollars of infrastructure we're trying to get built in Afghanistan, sometimes without the cooperation of the central government. AMANPOUR: Related to this, we opened the papers this weekend to find that the CIA station chief in Pakistan has been outed and has had to leave, basically, in fear of his life. The ISI now saying, "We didn't do it." They deny having made his name public. Do you believe Pakistan's at fault there? And do you think that this is going to be a major setback for U.S. policy right now there? KERRY: No, I don't believe it will be a major setback, and I think we need to stop having public debates about what Pakistan is at fault for or not at fault for and what we're not at fault for or at fault for. That does not help this process. Pakistan, it's -- it's a very fragile democracy that has emerged out of eight years, nine years or whatever, of the Musharraf dictatorship. There are huge economic difficulties facing them, huge internal difficulties facing them. They've made many decisions that, in fact, put themselves at risk in many ways. The drones are very unpopular, all through Pakistan. And yet they're allowing us...

AMANPOUR: And yet the backbone of U.S. success right now there.

KERRY: The backbone of our success. They have -- no one a year ago would have thought the Pakistanis would have 147,000 troops in the western part in the territories. Nobody would have thought they would have gone into Swat and gone after the insurgents or South Waziristan. Their soldiers have a two-year tour. Their army has been somewhat stretched. And I've spent hours with their chief of command, General Kiyani. I believe they know exactly what they want -- we want them to do, what they have to do, and I believe at some point it's going to happen. AMANPOUR: Well, one of the key American diplomats who was loud and clearly telling him America's strategic vision and what they had to do was Richard Holbrooke, America's point man on Afghanistan and Pakistan. His loss, his death this week, how is that going to affect this process? KERRY: Well, it's -- Christiane, you knew him, we all knew him. It's an enormous, enormous loss. I mean, Richard -- you know, some people could always find him, you know, too strong in his point of view or, you know, too focused on what he wanted to get done, but I'll tell you something: He was a diplomat of extraordinary ability who knew how to get things done, who had a vision.

He was moving things. The team he put together to work on this is one of the most exceptional teams of people I've seen assembled in Washington, D.C. They -- they really understood where they were trying to go. And it's a loss, and it's going to be -- difficult shoes to fill, no question. AMANPOUR: Senator Lugar?

LUGAR: He was a dear friend. And -- and more importantly, he was trying to get the money into Pakistan that John and I had fostered in a so-called Kerry-Lugar bill. Now, the Pakistanis liked the idea of a five-year program. They liked the idea of money for schools and legal enforcement and the rest of it. But getting it there, who -- who runs it? How can you monitor it? This took all the diplomatic skills of Richard, and he still wasn't quite there with it.

But in answer to the question about Pakistan, all we can do, we are trying very hard diplomatically, a five-year program, because it is critical. If the Al Qaida are over there and the Taliban go back and forth, things are not going to continue to work well in parts of Afghanistan without change. AMANPOUR: Senators, thank you very much, indeed, for joining us on these very important topics. And we'll be watching the debate in the Senate this weekend.

AMANPOUR: And we're going to pick up the discussion of the administration's review of the Afghanistan war on our roundtable and, as they take their seats, listen to President Obama's words about the war from three of his major speeches in the past two years.

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