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Last Updated: Sunday, 14 January 2007, 11:46 GMT
Middle East events
On Sunday 14 January 2007, Andrew Marr interviewed David Johnson

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

David Johnson
David Johnson

ANDREW MARR: Welcome Mr Johnson. Thank you very much indeed for joining us.

DAVID JOHNSON: My pleasure to be here.

ANDREW MARR: For those of us watching from the other side of the pond, how serious is the, the political situation confronting the president as he tries to mobilise America for this, possibly this last surge of American troops into Iraq?

DAVID JOHNSON: Well the president went forward in the last week and made a major address to the American people that was followed up very rapidly by testimony on Capital Hill by Secretary Rice and Secretary Gates, laying out the president's plan in greater detail. There are differences of opinion clearly. There was a, it was a confrontational meeting particularly in the Foreign Relations Committee.

But I think that contrasts a bit with the next day's discussion with the Secretary Gates before the Armed Services Committee where the, the Senate really had a chance to digest this programme a little more, talked about it a little more. There will no doubt be, be, be differences of opinion but I think the programme will go forward as the president's laid it out.

ANDREW MARR: And Condoleezza Rice's trip plus this surge of new troops into Baghdad, are these, is this the rattle of, of two last dice being thrown on the table?

DAVID JOHNSON: Not at all. I think that you know, we know that American engagement in the Middle East is long standing, ongoing. The Secretary - I take a bit of an argument with your colleague - has gone to, to the region really to try to move the road map forward.

That's part and parcel of what she's doing. It's not a side show. It's, it is, it is a very large part of this. And part of the, the meetings that will go on in the Gulf with the Gulf Cooperation Council are, are aimed not just at Iraq but also at gathering support and gathering ideas from the Gulf states about how to promote the peace process.

ANDREW MARR: Now there was a bit of controversy last week when American troops arrested some Iranian officials inside Iraq. We hear from Condoleezza Rice that there's not going to be another sort of push against Iran. But clearly Iran is, is right up at the top of, of the sights of the Pentagon and indeed the, the White House.

DAVID JOHNSON: Well in terms of our over all relationship with Iran and with our effort with the UK and other European states to make sure that Iran does not become a nuclear state, we're aimed fully at a diplomatic solution to that. We're working with the UN and we're working in the UN on that, that question.

But there are elements of the Iranian government who have used their opportunities to go into Iraq who are doing things which endanger our forces.

And that's what, that's the reason that our forces took the step that they took last week. This will take place in Iraq as the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff made clear it's not necessary to go into Iran to do this. But we're going to work against those forces who endanger our own troops on the ground. We have the responsibility to them and to others to do so.

ANDREW MARR: So there's quite a tough edge to this. All right. Thank you very much indeed for joining us Mr Johnson.

DAVID JOHNSON: Thank you Andrew.

INTERVIEW ENDS


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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