'This Week' Transcript: VP-Elect Joe Biden

BIDEN: Well, look, it was – there was a lot swirling around before she actually got asked and so she is an old friend, I talked with her all the time. I have continued. There hasn't been a time since she's been in office I haven't – not many days go by I don't talk to her. So it wasn't so much convincing but they wanted to know my perspective and I gave my perspective.

STEPHANOPOULOS: And the entire national security team met this week for about five and a half hours …

BIDEN: That's right.

STEPHANOPOULOS: You took some heat during the campaign for these comments that President Obama would be tested in the first six months but as you listened to that briefing, as you participated in those five and a half hours of meetings, what's your sense of where the test is going to come? Of the number one challenge you're going to face in national security issues over the first six months?

BIDEN: Well, look, I think whoever was president was going to be faced with the same test. By test I meant – and you know it from your experience, the president of the United States no matter how well thought out their foreign policy is, there are things that are going to occur in the first months and the first year and throughout the administration no one ever anticipated.

And I think what is clear from the outset here is that we have a situation in Afghanistan and Pakistan that is urgent. It implicates India. It also implicates a whole lot of other very complicated issues.

And so first and foremost I think if you want to talk about immediacy, I think that the Afghanistan-Pakistan track is a very immediate concern where we are in the process of getting down clearly what our priorities are, what our policy need be, from the day we are sworn in.

There is also – in a sense it's good, it's less urgent, but it's a real issue, it's how to implement the SOFA – excuse me, how to implement …

STEPHANOPOULOS: The status of forces agreement in Iraq.

BIDEN: The status of forces agreement in Iraq that is negotiated between Maliki and this administration which is not at all inconsistent in principle with what Barack and I are talking about during the election.

STEPHANOPOULOS: But it is inconsistent in details because that agreement says all American troops have to be out of Iraq by 2011. You and the president-elect have said that you believe we need a residual force. Secretary Gates said it could be 40,000 troops after 2011.

BIDEN: Well, if you take a look at that agreement, the agreement allows for the incoming administration and the government of Iraq, whatever happens to be at the time these drop dead dates occur in the SOFA, to be able to look at and mutually agree that maybe something else need be done.

But look, our goal is to get American combat forces out of Iraq. That's what our goal is. And turn over responsibility to the Iraqis. And so we – but the other aspect of this that we know we're going to inherit and have to deal with is what is the political circumstance going to be left behind?

And that is, are we leaving behind the stable Iraq that has a government that has the trust of all the major factions in Iraq or not? So there's a lot of work to be done is the only point I'm making.

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