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Last Updated: Sunday, 3 June 2007, 08:45 GMT 09:45 UK
An American viewpoint
On Sunday 03 June Andrew Marr interviewed Robert Holmes Tuttle, US Ambassador

Please note "BBC Sunday AM" must be credited if any part of this transcript is used.

Robert Holmes Tuttle, US Ambassador
Robert Holmes Tuttle, US Ambassador

ANDREW MARR: Ambassador, welcome, thank you for coming on.

ROBERT TUTTLE: Good morning.

ANDREW MARR: Before we turn to climate change and some other issues, do you think that there's a good chance of Britain being backed up by America on the Lugovoi issue?

ROBERT TUTTLE: Well certainly, Andrew, we hope that justice is done in this case.

You have one of the most efficient law enforcement system, the world.. er systems in the world, and we hope justice is done.

And we hope that the Russian government will co-operate with you.

I think beyond that, since it's an ongoing case, would probably be not proper for me to comment.

ANDREW MARR: Right well let's turn to President Bush's speech on climate change, which caused a huge sort of surge of surprise around the world I have to say. Now, looking at today's papers, there's a fair amount of scepticism still, even from people like Hilary Ben, a member of the Cabinet over here. And there's quite a gap, because there haven't been very specific targets and numbers put into the American position, have there?

ROBERT TUTTLE: Just a little historical perspective, Andrew. President Bush has been talking about climate change since the beginning of his administration in 2001.

Our country and this administration has spent thirty-seven billion on research and development and deployment of new technologies to combat climate change, more than any country in the world. In 2005 we helped organise the Asia Pacific Partnership, which included for the first time China and India, to talk about these issues, so? And in the last two State of the Unions, the President has devoted significant amounts of those speeches to discussing climate change. He's talked about reducing our dependence on fossil fuels by twenty per cent in ten years.

So I think there has been a real commitment. There have been differences on tactics, as there always is, but there has been a real commitment for six years, seven? five years.

ANDREW MARR: But you wouldn't say that there hasn't been a sort of change of heart on the President's part, because he was always highly sceptical about the emissions and the numbers and so on, and he doesn't sound like he's so sceptical now.

ROBERT TUTTLE: I think what he's looking for is what are we going to do in the future, and he's hopeful that by the end of next year that the largest ? that the largest ten or fifteen emitters can come together and set goals for the future, that what are we going to do after 2012. I think he's very very committed to dealing with this problem.

ANDREW MARR: So he wasn't part of Kyoto 1, but are we talking about Kyoto 2 here, or something entirely different?

ROBERT TUTTLE: I think we're talking about what comes after 2012, what comes after Kyoto, and I think that it's very important that now everybody is involved - that the European nations, the United States and the, and the major developing countries - India, China and Brazil - I think that's what the President's talking about.

ANDREW MARR: And can you see an American administration, now or in the future, accepting legal binding targets?

ROBERT TUTTLE: I think that's something I'll leave to the President and future Presidents to decide, Andrew.

ANDREW MARR: All right. Let's turn to some other issues. Let's turn to, for obvious reasons, Iran, because the situation remains as it was in terms of the build-up towards nuclear weapons ability, if that's what they go for.

The world talks and talks and talks, much discussion in Europe about sanctions and so on, and yet we don't really seem to have any way of influencing things there.

ROBERT TUTTLE: Well I think we've had two sets of sanctions passed, perhaps more moderate than we would have liked, but it's a start. And I think that we will continue, and I think that if the Iranians don't come to the table and co-operate on this issue you will see a third, tougher set of sanctions.

I think the international community is committed to continuing to put pressure on Iran until they come to the table and say enough is enough, we're going to, we're going to abide by our agreements and we're going to be part of the non-proliferation treaty, which they have signed many years ago.

ANDREW MARR: And there was that extraordinary moment when the United States and the axis of evil, the great Satan or whatever you call the Iranians these days, were actually sitting around the same table, albeit discussing Iraq alone. Is that a breakthrough of some kind?

ROBERT TUTTLE: I think it's a, it's a focus on Iraq, but we have also said that if they will stop their nuclear processing enrichment, that we would sit down with them and discuss any issues, that everything is on the table.

So I'm always an optimist and I'm hoping that they will see the light and come. But I think what's important, that they were willing to talk about Iraq and, and with us face to face, to try to bring stability to that very unstable region.

ANDREW MARR: Speaking of which, a story in one of the papers today that British troops could be out of Iraq in a year's time. Is that something that would be acceptable to the United States?

ROBERT TUTTLE: All throughout this Iraq matter we have consulted, we consulted with you on your drawdown to I believe around fifty-five hundred troops, and I think any further drawdowns will be a matter of consultation between our Ministry of Defence and, and the Department of Defence and your Ministry of Defence, Andrew.

ANDREW MARR: All right. Let's turn to Gordon Brown, because he's clearly a very different character, and there have been worries expressed inside the US administration as to whether he's going to be as close and supportive to President Bush as Tony Blair. He could hardly be more close or more supportive. So give us your reading of the man.

ROBERT TUTTLE: I can give you I think, which is a little personal, insight. About six or eight weeks ago, when Chancellor Brown was in Washington, he had a meeting with the President, and after the meeting started with six or eight people in the room and in a few minutes the President asked everyone to leave and he and the Chancellor spent forty minutes together.

Now when I was in Washington with the Queen's visit I had, for the Queen's visit I had a chance to talk to the President, and he thought that this had gone very well. My interactions with Chancellor Brown, they were very positive, he's extremely well read on America, he's travelled to America, he's vacationed in America, one of his advisors is Alan Greenspan. So I think the special relationship will continue strong after he becomes Prime Minister.

ANDREW MARR: And given all the pressure on Gordon Brown inside the Labour Party to pull British troops out faster, commissions of inquiries on Iraq and all the rest of it, you don't fear that this is a change in the relationship, driven really by the Iraq policy?

ROBERT TUTTLE: I don't think so. I think, you know, that we'll have to see when he becomes Prime Minister, but every, every indication, every meeting I've had with the Chancellor is that he will? you know he's gong to look at this issue, he's going to study it, and he'll work in close consultation with his best allies. We feel that you all are our best ally.

ANDREW MARR: Right. Because the two of them are going to have to work together for quite a while, and yes you've got elections coming on and all the rest of it. Speaking of which, how is it going on your side of the divide?

How are the Republicans getting on with the search for their candidate? It's been a long search.

ROBERT TUTTLE: Well it's a lot of? It's a long search. I think what's interesting this year for everyone to watch is because so many of the big states, including my home state of California, have moved their primary forward.

I think it's very likely that we'll have a nominee from both parties by the 1st March, which is very unusual, so they'll go for almost six months, these two nominees, facing each other as they come into the November election. I think that's what'll be very interesting about our process this year.

ANDREW MARR: Tony Blair's been off in Africa talking about his legacy. It's a little bit early, but what's President Bush's legacy going to be?

ROBERT TUTTLE: I think on Africa - and I'm glad you asked me that question - this President has met with more African leaders than any previous President. He's doubled our aid to Africa over the previous administration, and he will double it again by 2012.

We've committed fifteen billion, and he just committed an additional fifteen billion to help the HIV problem. When we started this there were like fifty thousand people being treated, and now over a million people. So I think that's a real, a real legacy for?

ANDREW MARR: So that's a big part of the legacy.

ROBERT TUTTLE: ?for both the Prime Minister and the President.

ANDREW MARR: In the end I suppose, however, they're both going to be remembered for Iraq aren't they?

ROBERT TUTTLE: Well I think we'll see. I think history has a way? I worked for President Reagan, and every day his legacy gets stronger and stronger, so that's something we'll just have to see as time goes by, Andrew.

ANDREW MARR: Ambassador Tuttle, thank you very much indeed for joining us.



NB: this transcript was typed from a recording and not copied from an original script.

Because of the possibility of mis-hearing and the difficulty, in some cases, of identifying individual speakers, the BBC cannot vouch for its accuracy

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