HEADLINE: HEARING OF THE HOUSE COMMITTEE ON INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS
SUBJECT: INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS BUDGET FOR FISCAL YEAR 2006
CHAIR: REPRESENTATIVE HENRY HYDE (R-IL)
WITNESS: SECRETARY OF STATE CONDOLEEZZA RICE
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Mr. KING. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Secretary Rice, I want to join with everyone in commending you for the terrific job you are doing as Secretary of State, the many years of service you have given to our country. And you really make us all proud. And I would like to think that at least some of that skill was perfected at the institution where you got your Master's Degree.
Secretary RICE. Absolutely. No, that would be Notre Dame. DU was undergraduate and Ph.D.
Mr. KING. I would like to ask three questions. One was on Russia. As President Putin seems to be moving in some areas away from democracy, how do you expect the Administration to deal with that, and how will that interface with the support that we are getting from Russia in the war against terrorism?
The second question would be on Afghanistan. I know that Congressman Rohrabacher asked you about the drug dealing. I would ask, How much control does the Karzai Government have extending beyond Kabul? And is there a real threat of resurgent in Taliban?
And the third question would be on what seems to be the European Unions' decision to lift the arms embargo on China. Thank you very much.
Secretary RICE. Thank you.
On the final of those, the European Union's decision or their consideration of the decision to lift the arms embargo: I was very clear when I was in Europe that we have deep concerns about this from the point of view of military balance, from the point of view of human rights. I will say I found them open to listening to those concerns, and I hope that any decision that they take, that they will fully consider our concerns about it.
In Afghanistan, the news is, I think, pretty good in terms of the ability of the Karzai Government to extend its influence. Some of the most powerful warlords are no longer active in Afghanistan. They arein effect, those are governors now in places like Kandahar that are directly related to the Karzai Government. That is a real improvement from even a year ago. And the Provincial Reconstruction Teams, the PRTs that have been combining civilian and military help for these regions has been a part of that success story, of extending the Government's reach out to these areas. Sometimes in places like Afghanistan, it is even the matter of a road between Kandahar and Kabul which the United States built along with the Japanese and with the Saudis.
So a lot has happened. There is still a lot to do. It is always going to be a pretty decentralized place. But I think you would say that Karzai is clearly the President of all Afghanistan after this election in a way that it could not have been said before.
I am sorry you had one other question.
Mr. KING. Russia, about Putin.
Secretary RICE. Russia, of course. Well, the President will meet with President Putin in Slovakia very shortly. We have been very clear with Russia that we have concerns about the internal developments there and the course of democratic development. We have also been clear that we think that the isolation of Russia would be a mistake; that, rather, the continued engagement of Russiabecause it is after all only recently emerging from the Soviet Union.
But the concentration of power in the Kremlin is a problem, and the absence of an independent media is a problem. And we have also tried to keep alive and keep working our nongovernmental organization programs there, which may help the development of Russian civil society, the development of parties, the development of business groups that can be effective forces for change and effective checks on the power of the Kremlin. But it is indeed troubling. It was a matter of discussion throughout Europe when I was there, and so probably the Russian Government should understand that the kind of deep integration of Russia into the European space, into the community of democracies that had been hoped for will be at risk if Russia cannot return to a more democratic path.
Mr. KING. Thank you, Secretary Rice. Thank you.
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