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Special Event

Albright Addresses National Press Club

Aired November 2, 2000 - 10:37 a.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

BILL HEMMER. CNN ANCHOR: Live to Washington, National Press Club, Secretary of State Madeleine Albright now talking about the latest in the Middle East.

(JOINED IN PROGRESS)

MADELEINE ALBRIGHT, SECRETARY OF STATE: I spoke earlier this morning with Israel's Foreign Minister Shlomo Ben-Ami, who explained how the two sides are in fact now working themselves to fulfill those various commitments.

I think that the role of the United States and of other countries is to do everything we can to speak about the importance of ending the violence, helping them work out the arrangements to be able to get back to the peace process. That, I think, is the most important thing to do.

QUESTION: You mentioned children. UN estimates are that 5,000 children are dying in Iraq, yet you continue the economic sanctions without any delineation of how they might be lifted.

ALBRIGHT: Do you get two questions?

QUESTION: If I can.

ALBRIGHT: Sure, if your colleagues don't mind.

QUESTION: Why do you continue the UN sanctions without saying how they can be lifted?

ALBRIGHT: Let me say this, and I'm always very glad to be able to answer questions about Iraq in order to be able to clarify. We didn't invent Saddam Hussein. Saddam Hussein invaded another country, and he pillaged it and he took prisoners and he took a lot of their property and trashed the place.

The United Nations Security Council imposed some sanctions and wanted to make sure that Saddam Hussein would live up to them. That sanctions regime is very much supported by the countries of the United Nations and continues to be in place.

There have been -- you're shaking your head. They have -- we're not going to have a debate. Let me just...

QUESTION: Well, you know, if I could...

ALBRIGHT: Can I finish?

So we were more concerned, I think than anyone, about the tragic situation for the people of Iraq. And when I was ambassador at the United Nations, we helped to write the oil-for-food program.

It now is worth $20 billion. They are able to pump as much oil as they can. And the United Nations is distributing the food. And where the United Nations is able to distribute the food, the children and the other people have a better nutrition than in the areas where it cannot.

We are not responsible for the tragedy of the people of Iraq; Saddam Hussein is. And I refuse to have the United States be blamed for Saddam Hussein's invasion of another country and for having him be the one that had weapons of mass destruction.

HEMMER; All right, the secretary of state, Madeleine Albright, taking questions there in Washington at the National Press Club. We had anticipated and heard shortly before we actually took the secretary speaking there, comments about the Middle East and the latest out of there. And certainly it is a situation that top administration officials keep a very close eye on, especially given what we have seen out of Jerusalem over the past few hours.

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