Rice Speaks on Syria, Iran and Darfur

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice gave an exclusive interview to Jonathan Karl of ABC News today, talking about the attack on the U.S. Embassy in Syria, the crisis in Sudan and the prospects for a breakthrough on the Iranian nuclear issue. The interview was conducted in Nova Scotia, where Rice was on a diplomatic trip to Canada. Excerpts of the interview are available here, in an ABCNEWS.COM exclusive.

The United States has long blamed Syria for supporting terrorism in Lebanon, Iraq and the Palestinian territories. But Rice praised the Syrian security forces for protecting the U.S. Embassy.

Jonathan Karl, ABC News: Madam Secretary, in light of the bombing -- the attack -- on our embassy in Damascus today, are you confident in the ability and even the willingness of the Syrian security forces to protect our embassy?

Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice: Well I will say that the Syrian security forces reacted, and they reacted very quickly to the attack and certainly reacted in a way that helped us secure our embassy, from everything that we understand. Unfortunately, these attacks take place despite the fact that we do everything that we can to secure our embassies and fortunately this one was not successful. I do know that some security personnel were killed, and we've sent condolences to their families, but we will have to, obviously Jon, figure out what happened here and do the analysis of who might be responsible, but we appreciate the response of the forces.

Karl: Is it difficult to rely on a security service that you have been so critical of, and that you've had such serious issues with to protect American interests?

Rice: Well, we expect that the Syrians are still going to carry out their international responsibilities to protect embassies, even if we have very deep differences between the governments because we do have diplomatic relations with Syria, we do maintain an embassy there. And there's an obligation then, on the part of Syria, to protect that embassy. And we expect them to take it seriously. In this case the early evidence is that they did.

Secretary Rice's predecessor, Colin Powell, declared the humanitarian crisis in the Darfur region of Sudan "genocide" back in September 2004. Two years later, the situation has actually gotten worse.

On Tuesday, the European Union's special envoy to Darfur reported that the Sudanese military has begun an aerial bombing campaign of villages in Darfur. Meanwhile, the Sudanese government has refused to allow United Nations peacekeepers into the region.

We asked Secretary Rice what the U.S. would do to stop the killing.

Karl: I want to ask you about Sudan because, since the United States declared what was going on in Darfur -- genocide -- the situation has gotten significantly worse and there are signs now -- including massing of Sudanese troops in Darfur, renewed aerial attacks and warnings -- that this situation could rise to the level of Rwanda-scale killings. What is the United States going to do about this?

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