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Transcript of David Miliband interview

PLEASE NOTE "THE ANDREW MARR SHOW" MUST BE CREDITED IF ANY PART OF THIS TRANSCRIPT IS USED

On 22nd May Andrew Marr spoke to former Foreign Secretary David Miliband.

ANDREW MARR:

Now of all the places in the world which need particularly careful handling by the West just now, Pakistan heads the list; and you heard the delicate words from President Obama just now. Well now I'm joined from Islamabad by a man who knows the country very well and who's been speaking to Pakistan's President, Zardari. That man is our former Foreign Secretary, David Miliband. Good morning, Mr Miliband.

DAVID MILIBAND:

Good morning, Andrew.

ANDREW MARR:

Can I start by just asking you to tell us how you read the situa… the mood in Islamabad amongst the Pakistani government at the moment - that strange mixture of anger, humiliation and, presumably, some rueful embarrassment as well?

DAVID MILIBAND:

I think this is a country which is feeling bruised, abused and confused. Someone in Lahore, a lawyer in Lahore yesterday said to me that he feared that hope was draining away and that the country was getting lost. And I think that poses enormous responsibilities for the political and military leaders here, but it also proposes a very clear choice for the West: either we double up our engagement - our engagement on the security issues but also on economic and energy issues; or we're going to find that we end up doubling down even if that's not what we want to do. And so it's a time when really profound engagement with Pakistan and all of its local and regional problems is going to be essential.

ANDREW MARR:

President Obama said just now that he would do it again in effect. He would go back into Pakistani territory if he found another high value target. That is presumably not the sort of message they want to hear?

DAVID MILIBAND:

No, there's a lot of talk here about the violation of Pakistani sovereignty. The point I've made to them though is that Osama Bin Laden was violating their sovereignty. Al Qaeda has no place in Pakistan. It's a threat to Pakistan. And there should be a convergence of interests between the Pakistani state and the West on security issues, but also on wider economic and social issues. I think Pakistan has to move from being a security state or an insecurity state with thirty of the last sixty years being military rule, from a security state to being a genuine welfare state. Because, after all, there are 170, 180 million people in this country - many of them without basic literacy or the ability to support themselves - and it's going to grow to 300 million people in the next thirty years. That is a time bomb under South Asia unless there is profound engagement with deep structures in this country.

ANDREW MARR:

And I think about 1% of them pay tax, as I recall. What about the statement from President Obama that he would ultimately be talking to the Taliban? We haven't heard that I think from him directly before. What do you make of it?

DAVID MILIBAND:

I think that's important. Up to now President Obama has set an end game … an end date for the Afghan War. He hasn't set out an end game. But of course the end game is precisely the sort of political talks, the political engagement that is essential in any counterinsurgency. Afghanistan is not going to be pacified by foreign troops or indeed even by Afghan troops alone. It's a decentralised country, which is run according to tribal structures as well as the sort of state structures that we would recognise. And I think that getting all the tribes into the Afghan political settlement is key to keeping Al Qaeda out, and I think we'll need some independent mediation to make that happen but it needs to be within Afghanistan and also incorporate the countries of the region. And of course that's something that Pakistan, India, other countries fear. They need to see it's actually in their interest.

ANDREW MARR:

Right now our last forces are pulling out of Iraq and forces will start to pull out of Afghanistan in the not too distant future. So it's a moment of reflection, I suppose, about our engagement across the whole region. At that moment, tell us what you think now about Iraq?

DAVID MILIBAND:

I think you think, first of all, of the people that we've lost. You think, secondly, that while there have been gains, the list of negatives is long - longer than the list of gains. But you also think, thirdly, that there is still history to be made in Iraq and the possibility of a multi-confessional, multi-denominational political system in Iraq that is more or less democratic, can send out a message to the rest of the Arab world that is consonant with the sort of changes that you've been discussing in Egypt and elsewhere. Iraq obviously divided not just our country, but divided the whole world really. It proved how much easier it is to win wars than to win the peace, and I think that that is the sort of lesson that we've got to learn.

ANDREW MARR:

And when you say the list of negatives is longer than the list of gains - that's what you mean, is it: that what followed the war was so horrific?

DAVID MILIBAND:

Yes, exactly. I mean six, seven, even eight months after the fall of Saddam Hussein, the sort of Sunni-Shia conflict that came to mark the Iraq episode - hundreds of thousands of deaths - hadn't really started. It was still in the balance. I'm afraid the failure of the Western forces to develop a proper strategy for peace, not a strategy for war, has held back the country. Now it's still to play for despite the loss of blood and treasure, but I think that that is the key lesson.

ANDREW MARR:

Sure. Obama mentioned the 1967 Israel borders; very clearly caused a lot of surprise by doing so. What do you make of that?

DAVID MILIBAND:

Well you in your interview said you were surprised. For the rest of the world, I think it's the obvious statement because there is a remarkable international consensus about 1967 borders with land swaps being the basis of a Palestinian state that can live alongside Israel.

ANDREW MARR:

(over) But the Americans have …

DAVID MILIBAND:

(over) I think that with his …

ANDREW MARR:

(over) Sorry, I was just going to say the Americans up to now have tended to downplay it a bit - that's what I'm saying - and he very much foregrounded it.

DAVID MILIBAND:

I think in any discussion though people go back to the so-called Clinton Parameters of December/January 2000-2001, which had 1967 borders with land swaps as the basis. I think with his statement to you, President Obama has got himself back on the pitch of the Middle East dispute between Israel and the Palestinians and the Arabs more generally. That is the lens through which millions of Arabs see America and the West. I think it's very welcome that he does so. I think there are a couple of things that are going to be critical though to make sure that he's not just blowing his whistle and then all the players are carrying on fouling each other; that he actually blows the whistle on the pitch and people start doing what he says. I think two things are important. First Israel's security depends on all the other Arab states. The Palestinians on their own can't give security to Israel. It requires a rapprochement with the whole of the Arab world, the settlement with all 22 Arab countries. Secondly, I think it's very important to internationalise the effort to get a Palestinian state. This isn't just an American view of the 1967 borders - even the sharing of Jerusalem, which the President wasn't able to move onto. I think it's an international consensus on this issue that needs to be brought to bear, and I hope that our government in the talks that they have this week will be able to say to the President actually across Europe there is very strong determination to work with the United States, not just to watch from the sidelines.

ANDREW MARR:

Here there's been a lot of coverage of the fact that George Osborne, the Chancellor, the government generally are not backing Gordon Brown to take over at the IMF from Dominique Strauss-Kahn, and they're instead backing a French candidate. Are you disappointed by that?

DAVID MILIBAND:

I'm not going to get into that at all. I think everybody's said …

ANDREW MARR:

(over) Oh go on.

DAVID MILIBAND:

… Gordon Brown, Christine Lagarde have said the best candidate should get the job. And sadly, in many ways, it's not up to me now who gets those kind of jobs. We'll have to leave that to the current government.

ANDREW MARR:

Alright. For now, thank you very much indeed for joining us from Islamabad, David Miliband.

DAVID MILIBAND:

Thank you.

INTERVIEW ENDS




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