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'Musharraf Can Do A Lot'

But, adds the US Deputy Secretary, no one believes that Musharraf actually controls all the jehadis.

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'Musharraf Can Do A Lot'

Full text of the interview to NBC's Today Show with Matt Lauer, Washington, DC, June 11, 2002

Mr. Lauer: As we reported, federal officials say the former Chicago gang member, born Jose Padilla, plotted with al-Qaida to blow up a dirty radiation bomb somewhere in the United States. Richard Armitage is the Deputy Secretary of State. Secretary Armitage, good morning.

Richard Armitage: Good morning, Mr. Lauer.

Mr. Lauer: This is kind of a good news/bad news situation. On the one hand, we understand that this gentleman didn't have the chance to gather the materials he would need to create a dirty bomb; on the other hand, it's pretty clear evidence that these terror groups like al-Qaida are willing to use nuclear devices, even crude ones, against the US.

Richard Armitage: Well, I think it's a good news/good news. The good news is he didn't use it, and the second is that we found him and he's in custody.

Mr. Lauer: How hard is it to police this sort of activity? I understand that we got information on this particular gentleman from several sources. Did we get lucky, or can we prevent this in the future?

Richard Armitage: Well, I don't know whether you consider it luck or not. It seems to me that the information was uncovered, primarily in Afghanistan to start with, and both intelligence and law enforcement cooperated spectacularly, following him through several countries and finally bringing him to justice in Chicago. I think it's fantastic.

Mr. Lauer: Secretary Armitage, he was in Pakistan for a while trying to put together the plot to come up with this dirty bomb. Is that country doing enough to help us root out the possible al-Qaida members who are holed up in their country?

Richard Armitage: I think President Musharraf and his colleagues have done quite a bit. They know they've got a problem, particularly as we've toughened up in Afghanistan and bad guys come across the border and take up shop in Pakistan. But as far as I understand, and what I've been given to know from our intelligence communities, they're pretty happy with the cooperation of Pakistan.

Mr. Lauer: You just returned from that region, met with leaders of both countries. Let me ask you, what were you most encouraged by? The news today is that the two countries seem to have taken a step back from the brink of war.

Richard Armitage: Well, I'm most encouraged by the fact that the tensions have clearly dropped. India has opened up commercial air links again from Pakistan; they've named a High Commissioner to go back to Islamabad; and finally, they've moved their fleet around and it's sailing south. These are all good things.

Mr. Rumsfeld will be arriving in India shortly, and then laterally going on to Islamabad, and I think he'll continue the process of tension de-escalation.

Mr. Lauer: President Musharraf is under a lot of pressure to stop the flow of militants into Kashmir. That is something the Indian Government is insisting upon. Is it a realistic request? Can he accomplish that?

Richard Armitage: Well, he can certainly do a lot, and I believe our Indian colleagues are seeing the Pakistani authorities doing much more now. The question of whether he has control of all the people who would wish India ill and would want to cause mischief is an open one. I think no one believes that he actually controls all of it.

Mr. Lauer: And the other question is, after the tensions subside, will he just open the door again?

Richard Armitage: Well, that's a question. I don't believe so. President Musharraf has embarked on an attempt to try to bring Pakistan and 154 million people into a better way of life, and he can't simultaneously do that and be engaged in terror in Kashmir.

Mr. Lauer: Your shuttle diplomacy is one thing. What about getting these two leaders to sit down face to face? Did you talk to them about that?

Richard Armitage: Well, I have talked to them about their previous sitting-down face to face, and at some time in the future I think they would be willing to. We did discuss the necessity of a dialogue over Kashmir. I think if the tensions continue to lower, clearly there will be a time when it's ripe for dialogue.

Mr. Lauer: Deputary -- Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage. Mr. Armitage, thank you so much.

Richard Armitage: Thank you, Mr. Lauer.

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