Rice: Terror Will Be Defeated in Iraq


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By ANNE GEARAN, AP Diplomatic Writer Wed Jun 22, 4:53 PM ET

BRUSSELS, Belgium - Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice declared Wednesday that defeating terrorism in Iraq would sound a "death knell" for terrorism elsewhere.

"Terrorism can be defeated in Iraq, it will be defeated in Iraq," Rice said at the close of an 80-nation conference on the reconstruction of postwar Iraq.

"When it is defeated in Iraq, at the heart of the Middle East, it will be a death knell for terrorism as we know it," Rice said.

Rice did not elaborate on how the war in Iraq might affect terror groups in other parts of the world. She often says, however, that insurgencies are defeated by political means as well as military ones, when local populations no longer see the value of an insurgency.

The insurgency in Iraq is a mix of Sunni Arab opponents of the overthrow of Saddam Hussein and foreign supporters of al-Qaida and other terror groups. The terrorism inside the country is almost entirely a postwar phenomenon.

As part of its investigation, the Sept. 11 Commission's report last summer said Saddam did not have a close relationship with al-Qaida.

The report said that commissioners found no evidence that contacts between the Iraqi government and al-Qaida "ever developed into a collaborative operational relationship. Nor have we seen evidence indicating that Iraq cooperated with al-Qaida in developing or carrying out any attacks against the United States."

Separately, Rice took another slap at Syria on Wednesday. She contended Syria was exporting terrorism to Iraq over a porous border.

"We have forces along that border, we know what is coming across that border and that border is a real problem," Rice said during a press conference at the conference.

"Syria has a responsibility, it has a responsibility to the international community, it has a responsibility to its neighbors not to allow its territory to be used for the gathering of people who are wreaking havoc and causing harm against innocent Iraqis," she said.

In a television interview with Al Iraqiya, taped at the conference in Brussels, Rice said the United States was not withholding information from Iraqi prosecutors preparing their case against Saddam.

Asked how the United States would view a potential death sentence for Saddam, Rice demurred.

That's "an Iraqi decision, because this will be an Iraqi court and an Iraqi trial. It just needs to be a free and fair trial."


Associated Press Writer Katherine Shrader contributed to this report.