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Breakfast with Frost
Dr Zalmay Khalilzad, UN special envoy on Iraq

Please note "BBC Breakfast with Frost" must be credited if any part of this transcript is used

DAVID FROST: Now with war perhaps a little more than a week away, according to many estimates, the question of what will happen in Iraq afterwards becomes increasingly urgent. John Major was underlining that here just a few weeks ago. What plans are in place for the day after, as it's sometimes called? President Bush has appointed a special envoy whose job is to help with the transition to democracy. Dr Zalmay Khalilzad has just returned to Washington from northern Iraq where he attended a conference of Iraqi opposition leaders. I spoke to him earlier and I asked him whether they'd agreed with President Bush's vision for their country.

DR ZALMAY KHALILZAD: No. What happened was that they, the conference selected a leadership council for the opposition and they asked that there be an Iraqi authority running Iraq as soon as possible after liberation. There was no entity formed for the transition by the opposition. They endorsed President Bush's vision for the future of Iraq. We have, and I told them I have no desire to rule Iraq and should the use of force become necessary and it looks almost inevitable now that it will, then we will assume certain responsibilities in the immediate future after liberation but our goal, our plan, is to turn over responsibility to the Iraqis as quickly and as rapidly as possible.

DAVID FROST: The president says United States forces will stay in Iraq as long as is necessary but not a day more. But we are talking about months and years rather than weeks, aren't we? I mean American soldiers could be in Iraq for, I suppose, five years.

DR ZALMAY KHALILZAD: We are not talking about years. We are not - we will be there, as the president said, as long as militarily we are necessary to provide for security, to look after the needs of the Iraqi people, because by getting rid of the Saddam Hussein regime we'll be assuming certain responsibilities on behalf of the Iraqi people. We also, of course, would want to eliminate the infrastructure for weapons of mass destruction and make sure they don't leave the country or fall into the wrong hands. And we would also want to get rid of any terrorist infrastructure that, that is there. But our plan will be from day one to get Iraq going and to get Iraq to stand on its own feet so that we can transfer responsibility to the Iraqis.

DAVID FROST: Are you and President Bush happy for Turkish troops to cross the border and be stationed in northern Iraq at the end of hostilities?

DR ZALMAY KHALILZAD: No, we do not want any regional power or indeed any power to send forces unilaterally into Iraq. We assume that with the vote in the Turkish parliament there is not only Turkey's membership of the coalition was not approved but also the sending of the Turkish troops to Iraq was not approved. We are very much against any unilateral Turkish move into Iraq and I think we have made that known to our Turkish friends.

DAVID FROST: And in terms of safeguarding Iraq's oil assets, America's made it clear that it's not seeking to take possession of Iraqi oil or to own it, but how can we make sure it's kept under the control of the Iraqi people in the period before a stable Iraqi government is formed?

DR ZALMAY KHALILZAD: Well of course the protection of the oil fields and operating them to generate revenues for the meeting the needs of the Iraqi people will be one of the missions of the coalition but this mission will be performed on behalf of the Iraqi people and, and the natural resources of Iraq, including its oil resources, belong to the Iraqi people and will be transferred as quickly, as rapidly, as possible to the Iraqis.

DAVID FROST: Our thanks.


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