Bill Richardson: If you were President, would you have called the Annapolis Conference?

Bush waited seven years too many, Richardson says.
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TRANSCRIPT

Bill Richardson: Yes, but President Bush has waited seven years, and it may be too late. But it’s good to get people together in a room. I’ve always believed that you gotta negotiate your differences. Finally they invited Syria to participate, but much too late. I would have been talking to Syria earlier. But what is important is to realize that resolving the Israeli-Palestinian issue or making it less tense helps us try to deal with Iran, with the Iraq war. And what I believe is healthy is that if we can establish certain principles in the Middle East peace negotiations, like preserving Israel’s security; along with creating a Palestinian state; and then dealing with the outlines of the 67 borders; and then dealing also with the Jerusalem situation with the status of Palestinian refugees, but at the same time providing Israel a sense of security that it won’t be attacked, and that America will stand with our traditional relationship with it; and then you couple that with an effort by the United States to connect again with the Islamic world with many countries that are moderate Arabs, that are not jihadist terrorists. Because what we do need to do in our foreign policy is build international support against international terrorism, against those jihadists that do want to harm. My intensity in trying to bring a solution. My worry is in the Annapolis Conference that the President and Secretary Rice have said okay, these are the outlines, so you guys work it out. It’s not gonna happen unless America plays the role of honest broker; pushes both sides; builds coalitions; brings Syria in; brings Iran in; tries to resolve the Iraq war. But just getting back to the Israeli-Palestinian issue, the Annapolis Conference . . . my worry is that President Bush is gonna say okay, I’ve outlined the basis for peace. We’ve said that we’re gonna have a conclusion by 2008, and you guys are on your own. I would personally engage. I would spend my personal time. If I were President Bush, I would have been in Annapolis every second to try to find ways not just to produce a document that says our goal is to create peace, but to start looking at the potential outlines, ‘cause I believe there’s some potential areas of agreement there that if we can at least secure them early, you’re moving in the right direction and you’re lessening the tension. And you’re isolating the Hamaases and the terrorist elements that exist in the Middle East today.

Recorded on: 11/20/07