Armitage discusses policy in Nikkei Press interview

December 23, 2003

MR. KEN MORIYASU: - that he believes that other countries should follow to take an example from Libya. So I think you could say the Bush Doctrine is working very well. And my question is do you hope that North Korea follows in Libya's steps?

DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: Well, obviously, I would hope so, but I think each of these countries who desires to possess weapons of mass destruction is sui generis, so you'd have to have a slightly different approach for every country.


DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: But I think the heart of the Bush Doctrine, as you called it, is what I would say is a muscular multilateralism. And the case of Libya, working with our British friends primarily, but surrounded by international sanctions --


DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: - allowed us to accomplish this. In North Korea we've got the six-party talks as we move forward. That is multilateralism, which is backed by a very severe and serious U.S. military posture. So each one is a little different, but there are some similarities.

MR. MORIYASU: Yeah. Do you think that North Korea would benefit more if they took Libya's path rather than their current path?

DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: I think if they chose to voluntarily come ahead that North Korea would very rapidly find herself integrated into the vibrant community of East Asia. I don't think she is going to do that, but it would be wonderful.

MR. MORIYASU: Yeah. The six-party talks were planned for this month. I hear that five of the countries were ready for the meeting, but North Korea said no. Could you tell me why North Korea said no?

DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: We never had a date certain for this month, and you'll have to ask the North Koreans why they chose to not be able to make up their mind. We hope for an early resumption of the talks some time in January.

MR. MORIYASU: Some time in January?

DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: That's what we hope for.

MR. MORIYASU: You hope for. Does that - is that likely?

DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: Oh, I think there's a good chance of it. It's not yet, but --

MR. MORIYASU: I see. The North Koreans seem to be looking for three things. One is security assurance; one, energy assurance; and one, financial aid. Is the U.S. prepared to address these needs?

DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: Well, there's no reason for the United States to step up with financial aid. We have, for years, been providing humanitarian assistance for North Korea. You know, President Bush has long said he'll not use food as a weapon; so you can expect the United States to continue provide some level of humanitarian assistance.

Energy needs, long-term energy needs, are something we could discuss. In fact, we're well under discussion with the so-called KEDO project. But all those things have come to a halt.

On the security guarantee, our President has said he's ready to issue, in some form, a security guarantee.

MR. MORIYASU: Guarantee. But in this, you don't necessarily want the words "security assurance," your having security assurance --

DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: Well, I mean, it - security assurance, security guarantee - we don't - the word is not important to us, and we understand the concept, and the President has already spoken to it.

MR. MORIYASU: Yeah. Okay.

And Qadhafi's son told a TV interviewer that the reason why Libya decided to dismantle; its WMD was because the U.S. told them one year ago that they had no intention for regime change in Libya, and they believe that. Is that a possibility in North Korea?

DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: Well, we've said we're not after regime change in North Korea. So we've already said that. And we've also said that in the case of Iran.

MR. MORIYASU: Yes, yes.

DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: We've said it publicly. I said it most recently in a testimony in front of Congress.

MR. MORIYASU: Yes, you did. Yeah. I see.

Now to Iraq, Japan has decided to send troops to Iraq. Sending Self Defense troops during a time of war is, as you know, unprecedented. In a recent poll, 52 percent of the Japanese public said they were against sending troops, whereas 33 percent supported it. And the Prime Minister Koizumi's job approval rating is 43 percent now, and it's coming close to 41 who say they don't approve it.

Many people are worried about sending troops to Iraq. Could you tell the Japanese people why you think this is important, why you think this is the right decision?

DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: I start with the proposition that if the international community gets Iraq right, then you will have, smack in the middle of the Middle East a force for stability, an economic dynamo, and a democratic state. This can't help but to have positive implications for the whole region.

Now, a nation like Japan, which has such severe energy needs, should find it very much in her interest to have dependable, stable entities in the Middle East so that you can be assured of your energy needs.

But beyond that, I think Prime Minister Koizumi and his government are intent on making Japan a very useful and very energetic partner on the world stage. And I think it's appropriate that if Japan and Japanese citizens, who, for the whole post-war period have benefited from the security and the stability which the relationship with the United States - and, by the way, the United Nations - have provided for Japan, now has an opportunity to repay that by taking part in the great efforts of the day.

I think it's extraordinarily important, you know, for Japan to do this. I was moved almost to tears by the Prime Minister's very strong statement on the television, what was it, 9 December when he dispatched --

MR. MORIYASU: Yes, it is.

DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: - the announcement of the basic plan? It was a tremendous moment in Japanese history.

MR. MORIYASU: Yeah, okay.

Does the U.S. need Japan in Iraq?

DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: We need Japan. We need a partner like Japan who can help us and also guide us.

We're trying to develop the type of relationship, as you would probably know, with Japan, that we enjoy with Great Britain on the other side of the world - one in which where we agree we can be partners, and where we disagree we will be the beneficiary of very good and sound advice from Japan, and vice versa. So we're very much in need of a - of this type of relationship with Japan.

MR. MORIYASU: Okay. So this will strengthen the U.S.-Japan relationship?

DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: It already has. The combination of the activities regarding Iraq, the activities in Afghanistan, the tremendous generosity of spirit demonstrated by the Japanese people at the Madrid pledging conference for Iraq, these are all things that are the signs of great nations.

As you know, from my own history, I've spent 20-some years trying to get in a situation where Japan would again be a great nation, and I think she is.

MR. MORIYASU: What if Japan hadn't sent troops? Would that have affected the alliance?

DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: No, it wouldn't have affected the alliance in that we would still have an alliance, we would still have a strong and vibrant relationship. But the fact that she has has strengthened the alliance.

MR. MORIYASU: Right. What do you say to the many politicians in Japan who insist that Japan should, you know, decide according to what the UN decides when itfs about to do something like that.

DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: I would say that the most important document signed by Japan in the post-war was the U.S.-Japan Security, back in 1960, the Treaty --


DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: - and joining the United Nations, and signing up with the - under the banner of the United Nations would be the second.

MR. MORIYASU: I see. DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: Therefore, I would say to them that the primacy of their security comes from the U.S.-Japan security relationship and not from the United Nations.

MR. MORIYASU: Al-Qaida has threatened Japan that the moment Japanese troops set foot in Iraq they would counter them and attack in Tokyo. If that happens, or if it's hypocrisy - if that happens, how would the U.S. respond?

DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: I have said and will say again, an attack on Japan is considered an attack on the United States, and we would respond as called for in our alliance. And that includes, by the way, the Administrative Territories under the jurisdiction of Japan.

Japan has already been attacked.

MR. MORIYASU: Yes, I know.

DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: You were attacked when the Twin Towers were attacked. How many of your citizens did you lose?


DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: Yeah. You were already under attack.

It would seem to me that an al-Qaida threat against Japan would only harden the resolve of Japanese citizens to resist and reject the notion that terrorists could dictate to a whole nation the way, just the way they ought to behave. That's absurd.


Mr. James Baker will visit three Asian countries next week --


MR. MORIYASU: What do you expect from that visit?

DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: Well, he had a very good visit to Europe, where European friends basically announced that they're willing to discuss substantial reductions in the Iraqi debt in the context of the Paris Club.


DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: And I suspect something similar would be very helpful if friends in Asia - Japan, China and Korea - could find their way clear to give him similar statements.

MR. MORIYASU: Would you be looking for debt reduction, or would you be happy with rescheduling of --

DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: Well, they're talking about debt reduction in the European context, and we would like that - a substantial debt reduction. Rescheduling is only delaying the mortgage time a little bit.

MR. MORIYASU: Yeah. DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: It's not unhelpful, but at this point in time I think what the Iraqi people need is a bet. A bet from the international community that Iraq's going to make it with just a little bit of extra help from them. In that context, reduction in the context of the Paris Club is a, is a very noteworthy move, I think.

MR. MORIYASU: Russia seems to have agreed to writing off 65 percent of the debt. Would you be looking for a similar kind of number?

DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: If I picked a number, then I would give you something to judge Mr. Baker by. I don't particularly want to give you the ability to judge him.


DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: I think these are the kind of things that, that are best discussed - you know, sort of get the principle right, and the principle was, we'll have substantial reduction within the context of the Paris Club.

If you've got the principle right, then it's a matter of sitting down and getting a consensus among the 18 - or is it 19? - members of the Paris Club. And I think that's what we're looking for.

MR. MORIYASU: Now to the U.S. troops in Asia.


MR. MORIYASU: The President is looking to transform the global portion on this.


MR. MORIYASU: Do you see the 100,000 troops in Asia right now changing?

DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: I'm not sure how much they'll change. I think I see them changing locations and changing the mix. We've always said, regarding 100,000 troops, that there's nothing magic about that number. It could be less or it could be more, depending on the situation. But it also could be less or more depending on the capabilities that are introduced. Let me give you an example.


DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: In Iraq, we're going from 130,000, roughly, to 100,000 in the spring.


DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: Well, there are two reasons for it. One, more Iraqis are taking up arms on our side - that's a good thing. And second, the capabilities that the U.S. forces are bringing in are different - the Striker Brigades - more mobility, more fire power, more agility. This takes the place of more troops. So the same is true in Asia.


DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: And there'll be some moving around in pieces of the world, and there may be some, some reductions overall as some units come back to the United States. But the important thing is we need to keep the capability to respond to all contingencies, including the defense of Japan.

MR. MORIYASU: Yeah. If you think of relocating, do you foresee troops in Okinawa being reduced?

DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: Oh, I suspect there'll be some change, yeah. But I - but that's - the Defense Department will have to do.

MR. MORIYASU: Okay. What about Futenma? Well, this is a DoD question, too.




MR. MORIYASU: Is there progress? Do you see progress on this avenue?

DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: Yeah, I - well we, we haven't moved yet.


DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: And there's some things the Japanese Government has to do.


DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: But as far as I know, there's no lessening of desire to complete the movement of Futenma.

MR. MORIYASU: A few more.

The Chinese Prime Minister was here.


MR. MORIYASU: In his conversation with Mr. Bush, Mr. Bush said that, "cwe would have to get involved," if China tried to use coercion or force to unilaterally change the status of Taiwan. And I was wondering what the term, "involved" mean?

DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: Well, it's ambiguous for obvious reasons. We have a traditional relationship with Taiwan, with the democracy called Taiwan, which is backed up by the tenets of the Taiwan Relations Act. And one of the - there are many aspects of the Taiwan Relations Act. One is that we would, in the case of a contingency regarding Taiwan we'd be forced to immediately consult with the U.S. Congress about courses of action.

The second tenet is that we are required to keep sufficient force in Asia --


DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: - to deter attack. Those are - that's by the law. So we're already involved. Should the Chinese unilaterally do something, we would be further involved - whether that meant going to the UN or rather, springing to the defense of Japan with warships. Who can say in the absence of a contingency?

All of our efforts are to keep that contingency from happening. And that's why we urge both sides to use moderation, no unilateral changes in the status quo.

MR. MORIYASU: Talking of unilateral steps - I'm going to the Middle East now - Mr. Sharon has proposed a unilateral step if the Palestinians don't come along. How do you evaluate this?

DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: Well, it's hard to evaluate foreseeing them.


DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: But as a general matter, we'd say that there are unilateral steps which could be helpful, and there are unilateral steps which are unhelpful, too. And the unhelpful ones should be avoided.

We continue to see the roadmap as the answer in the Middle East and I'll note that in Prime Minister Sharon's speech, he wrapped himself in the roadmap.

MR. MORIYASU: Yeah, he did.

Do you think there was - bits in his speech that were not, you know, unilateral steps, which you don't agree to?


MR. MORIYASU: Were there parts of his speech that were - you said unilateral steps that would help and that would not help. Was there something that would not help?

DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: Well, and you know exactly what they are. We've long discussed the wall as being problematic to us. We do think that Israel ought to be keen to seize an opportunity when they find it, when they see it, to discuss matters with the Palestinian Authority.

I would note that the backdrop to Mr. Sharon's speech is a very vibrant, grassroots political dialogue going on between Israelis and Palestinians about the future. And we find that not a threat to the roadmap, but actually quite complementary to the roadmap.

The fact is, the Israelis and the Palestinians are having meaningful and constructive talks about their future. That's a good basis from which to plan for the future.

MR. MORIYASU: Okay, finally, how is Secretary Powell doing?

DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: Secretary Powell is tan, he's fit, and he's rested, and he's - it's all I can do to get him to stay home. He wanted to come in tomorrow.

MR. MORIYASU: (Laughter.)

DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: And I implored him not to - please stay home, continue recuperation. But he has agreed to stay home for a few more days, but in exchange, my colleagues and I have had to send him volumes of papers for him to make decisions on. He's fine.


DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: He was just on the phone with President Musharraf a few minutes ago in Pakistan discussing the upcoming SARC Summit. So he's busy.

MR. MORIYASU: In a recent interview you, you told him that you signed, no; Mr. Powell signed a document that gave you authority?

DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: Yeah. Three - almost three - years ago.


DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: He signed something called a "Delegation of Authority." It's a legal instrument and it's placed in The Federal Register, and it means that whether he is next door or whether he's on another continent --


DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: - if I make a decision here, if I signed a document, it has the same weight, legally, as the Secretary of State. It was a very kind thing to do. As my colleagues can tell you, it empowered me greatly in the building because when I make a decision, it's the same as he making a decision. And that is very empowering when you're a Deputy.

MR. MORIYASU: Usually, do you divide, for instance, do you look over Asia and Mr. Powell looks over - is it --

DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: No. He and I - he will do everything, including the budget, and I will do everything, including the budget. So we don't have - in the past, there have been divisions of responsibilities.


DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: No. We'll - he's very, very good about this. What he knows, he'll make sure that I know, and vice versa.


DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: Now I'm here, there are things going on, and I call him after every meeting and debrief him. After every conversation I debrief him so he can - not miss a thing, and he does the same for me.

MR. MORIYASU: Oh, okay. One very last question.


MR. MORIYASU: Condi Rice has always said that her dream job was to be the Commissioner of the NFL, and I was wondering your dream job would be.

DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: To be starting guard for the L.A. Lakers.

MR. MORIYASU: (Laughter.) Okay. Thank you very much.