'This Week' Transcript: EXCLUSIVE: Vice President Joe Biden

They take directions from no one. That they are able to handle their own internal affairs. And the fact -- my guess is, if the spokesman said that -- which surprises me, if the spokesman said that, I'd imagine they're worried about an upcoming election, making it look like the United States is going to continue to try to direct things here.

We are not. That is not why I'm here.

STEPHANOPOULOS: We're not going to direct things, but what if the Iraqi people -- they've been dealing with these political disputes for an awful long time, what if they can't solve them, the violence flares up again?

BIDEN: Well, that's going to be a tragic outcome for the Iraqi people. We made a commitment.

STEPHANOPOULOS: But are we going to put our lives on the line again?

BIDEN: No. We made a commitment to withdraw our troops from the cities by the 30th, to withdraw our combat brigades from Iraq by next summer -- the end of next summer, and withdraw all troops according to the SOFA, that agreement we negotiated with them, by the end of 2011. That is our intention.

STEPHANOPOULOS: But no matter what, 2011, American troops all gone?

BIDEN: That is the intention. We believe the Iraqis will be fully capable of maintaining their own security. And we believe that with the time frame, with their upcoming election -- you know they're having an election in January, I know you know that, they'll form a new government early -- in late winter as a consequence of that election.

And it is our expectation that that election will come off peacefully and that their democracy is gradually maturing, so.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Let me turn to Iran. We're three weeks out from their election.


STEPHANOPOULOS: Do you have any doubt it was stolen?

BIDEN: Well, look, what I don't want to do is play into the hands of the supreme leader and Ahmadinejad like they're blaming the British now. You know, there -- that the reason why there was unrest is outside influence.

STEPHANOPOULOS: They're saying they have confessions from reformers saying that.

BIDEN: Well, you know, they say a lot of things. That's simply not true. The -- I think the dust hasn't settled yet in terms of?

STEPHANOPOULOS: Still, three weeks ago.

BIDEN: Well, no, now here's what I think. I mean, I think it's clear that the consequences of the way the election was conducted and the way that the election was declared -- who was declared the winner and how, is going to have a rippling effect.

What that effect will be, I don't know. I think we have to wait to see how this settles out and -- before we can make a judgment.

STEPHANOPOULOS: But there's no doubt now that they responded violently to the election.

BIDEN: Oh, there is no doubt about that. There is none. The whole world saw it. And it is -- we have to acknowledge as a free and sovereign nation that we abhor the violence that took place. We think it was inappropriate, the way in which they treated those protesters.

And so there is no question, we and the rest of the world looked at them and said, my lord, this is not the way to conduct?

STEPHANOPOULOS: But how do you respond to critics who say the United States should have come out forcefully right away, right away and said, this is wrong, stop it, and they say that would have made a difference?

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