You once advocated for a three way partition of Iraq because you were not confident that Iraq's government was capable of having a strong central government. You said: "The most basic premise of President Bush's approach that the Iraqi people will rally behind a strong central government headed by Maliki, in fact, looks out for their interests equitably is fundamentally and fatally flawed. It will not happen in anybody's lifetime here including the pages!"
So it's -- that was from 2007.
Is it possible that you were right back then...
TAPPER: -- that it is just impossible...
BIDEN: -- and, by the way...
TAPPER: -- to have a centralized government...
BIDEN: No, it's -- I don't want to debate history here, but I never called for a partition. I called for a central government with considerable autonomy in the regions.
TAPPER: Three provinces.
BIDEN: Well, it was...
BIDEN: -- not -- it wasn't even, it was to allow them more autonomy, like what's happening in Kurdistan right now, like what's happening in Anbar Province right now. And so what's happening here is, there is an election that's taken place. And what happened-- there's 325 plus members of what they call their core, their parliament. And no one party won more than 91 seats. The two major parties, one won 89 and one won 91 seats. That's Maliki and Allawi, Iraqiya and the State of Law, they call them.
They're in negotiations right now to figure out how to allocate the power within that government. In other words, share power. And it is about just that. And it's underway. And it's going to happen. There will be a central government with control of its foreign policy, with control of the military. But you will see that there are going to be significant amounts of autonomy in each of the areas that exist in these provinces. That's what their constitution calls for.
And, look, it took the Dutch six months to form a parliament the time before last. It took the -- the folks in the Netherlands six months, 280 some days, if I'm not mistaken. So this is -- and this is their first crack at democracy.
I used the phrase politics has broken out, not war. We're moving in that direction.
TAPPER: And the combat mission ends at the end of August.
TAPPER: And can that happen even if there isn't an Iraqi government?
BIDEN: There is a transition government. There is a government in place that's working. Iraqi security is being provided by the Iraqis, with our assistance. We're going to have -- still have 50,000 troops there. We will have brought home 95,000. There is no one in the military who thinks there's any reason we can't do that
So they're making real serious progress. I don't have a doubt in my mind that we'll be able to meet the commitment of having only 50,000 troops there and it will not in any way affect the physical stability of Iraq.
TAPPER: You spoke to the leader of Southern Sudan...
BIDEN: I did.
TAPPER: -- recently.
TAPPER: And the referendum on whether or not Southern Sudan can break away from Sudan takes place in January. There's a lot of concern by human rights groups that that election will be riddled with fraud, just like the ones in April.
BIDEN: A legitimate concern.
TAPPER: The White House's point man on the Sudan is in the -- has said that the U.S. has waning influence in the region, General Gration said that.