19 March 2004

Time will heal Iraq wounds: Armitage

KERRY O'BRIEN: In terms of the support that you've received from your allies in Iraq, you must be worried at the implications of Spain's threat - apparent determination - to withdraw its troops from Iraq, at the spectacle for that matter of an ally like Spain describing the occupation of Iraq as a fiasco?

[US Deputy Secretary of State] RICHARD ARMITAGE: Well, we've had conversations with Mr Zapatero.

My own view is a little different from yours.

I saw several million Spaniards holding their hands up the other day in the wake of the terrible Madrid bombing and what I saw was not people holding their hands up in surrender, but holding their hands up against terrorism.

I think in the long run, terrorists have awakened what's going to turn out to be a virulent enemy for them in Spain.

We'll see as we move forward.

It's the Prime Minister's right to remove his troops.

I notice that he did say that he would remove the troops if there were not some sort of unspecified UN mandate.

I think we've got a while to go and we'll see how it plays out.

I'm glad the Bush administration agrees that the Spanish election was about how, not if, terror should be fought.

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