Condi's "Iran Letter" Story: Iran is mentioned only in the headline?
What's going on at The Chronicle? When you click Edit, Find In This Page, type in Iran, and click ENTER, "Iran" only shows up in the headline.
Rice Says Iran's Letter Not an OvertureHm.
By ANNE GEARAN AP Diplomatic Writer
Â© 2006 The Associated Press
NEW YORK Â Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Monday that Americans want to see progress in Iraq, but that President Bush will not be swayed by domestic politics when deciding how long U.S. forces should stay.
"I think the president will do what he thinks is best," regardless of public opinion or the fall elections, Rice said in an interview with The Associated Press.
Bush is at his lowest point in the polls, with only one-third of Americans saying they approve of the way he is handling the job, and the three-year-old Iraq war is a major reason for his decline.
Republicans are expected to suffer in congressional elections in November in part because of an erosion of support for the notion that the president's political party is best equipped to handle the fight against terrorism and other foreign policy matters.
"This is an extraordinary time," Rice said. "It means taking difficult decisions and doing what's right because you're not doing it for the midterm elections."
"You're doing it for the standing of the United States and the ability of the United States to influence well into the future and the future of the Middle East," Rice said.
The Bush administration sees a stable democracy in Iraq as the linchpin to spread political freedom elsewhere in the region. Continued insurgent and sectarian violence more than three years after the U.S.-led invasion have dimmed some of Iraq's political gains, but Rice said newly selected leaders understand the consequence of failure.
"They literally will hang separately or hang together. Literally," Rice said. "There is no stronger incentive to get it right."
Violence killed at least 34 people including a U.S. soldier in Iraq on Monday, as efforts to finish choosing the new Cabinet bogged down in a web of conflicting interests.
Bush has been straightforward with the public that "we're going to have to be in this war for awhile," Rice said of the struggle against terrorism in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere.
"I think Americans just want to know that progress is being made, and I know that it's hard sometimes when Americans see what's on their television screens," Rice said.
The top U.S. diplomat offered no updated timetable for U.S. force withdrawals below the current level of about 130,000, although other U.S. officials have said they expect some reduction this year.
The American soldier was killed when a roadside bomb struck a military convoy Monday southeast of Baghdad. The death raises to at least 2,421 the number of U.S. military members who have died since the beginning of the Iraq war in March 2003, according to an Associated Press count.
At least 33 American troops have been killed since April 22, when the new Iraqi government began to take shape with the selection of top leaders and the appointment of Nouri al-Maliki as prime minister-designate.
Al-Maliki, a Shiite, had hoped to complete the selection of his Cabinet on Tuesday or Wednesday. That would mark the final step in the establishment of the new government of national unity, which U.S. officials hope can calm sectarian tensions, lure Sunni Arabs from the insurgency and enable American troops to go home.
However, key Shiite and Sunni lawmakers told The Associated Press Monday that it was unlikely al-Maliki would finish the task this week because of the need to balance the interests of the religiously and ethnically based parties.
Rice said she is not concerned that the new leadership in Iraq is losing momentum.
"There is a strong feeling in this government that they have to deliver this time," Rice said.
Elsewhere in the Middle East, she said she sees no sign that the new Hamas leadership in the Palestinian territories is bowing to international pressure to renounce violence or accept Israel. She said the United States will soon propose new medical relief for the impoverished Palestinian people.
On Afghanistan, Rice said drug production remains a major problem. But she said she was optimistic about progress there more than four years after a U.S.-led invasion toppled the Islamic Taliban government.
"I think the trends in Afghanistan are very, very positive," Rice said. "This is a tough job and there will be some ups and downs."
Afghanistan supplies nearly 90 percent of the world's opium and heroin, and some of the profits from the illicit business are believed to go to the Taliban.
The government, backed by hundreds of millions of dollars in U.S. and British money, has launched a campaign to eradicate poppies in many areas _ a move that is believed to have prompted armed resistance from traffickers.
Strange stuff going on, indeed.
So you think you know Delilah?
Judges 16:19-- And she made him (Samson) sleep upon her knees; and she called for a man, and she caused him to shave off the seven locks of his head.