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Resigning Deputy Secretary of State Zoellick Discusses Darfur and Career

Deputy Secretary of State Robert Zoellick, who resigned from his post at the State Department Monday to work for Goldman Sachs, recounts his peacekeeping efforts in Darfur and experiences in other international arenas.

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  • JIM LEHRER:

    Now, our conversation with Robert Zoellick, who resigned today as deputy secretary of state.

    Zoellick has been, among other things, the U.S. government's point man on the Darfur crisis. Last month, he played a key role in a peace accord between the Sudan government and the main rebel group in Sudan's Western Darfur region.

    More than 180,000 people have been killed there in over three years of fighting, creating one of the world's worst humanitarian crises.

    Mr. Secretary, welcome.

    ROBERT ZOELLICK, U.S. Deputy Secretary of State: Thank you.

  • JIM LEHRER:

    Has the deal you helped negotiate resulted in a reduction in the violence in Darfur thus far?

  • ROBERT ZOELLICK:

    The reports over the past couple of weeks, Jim, is that it has, and that's a good sign, but, as we said from the start, it remains very, very fragile, so there's a lot of follow-up work to do.

  • JIM LEHRER:

    There's still people dying and still people being displaced and abused, is that correct?

  • ROBERT ZOELLICK:

    Oh, yes, there's a terrible human tragedy. I mean, there's over two million people in camps. And that's why this peace accord, Jim, really is just an opening.

    Over the past couple of weeks, you've had a group of ambassadors from the U.N. Security Council visit to try to pave the way for a U.N. peacekeeping force.

    You've got the U.N. peacekeeping mission there right now, the assessment group. They're supposed to be back later this month, and then I hope they will move quickly to work with us in the U.N. Security Council to get the U.N. force there.

    We're very fortunate the Congress just passed some money that we needed to pay the African Union forces, and we're going to try to expand that. The African Union has sent a letter to NATO talking about their interest in NATO support.

    So, on the security side, the accord has created the opportunity for things to move, but there's a tremendous amount of follow-up. And then we've also needed to get the food levels back up. The president launched that right after the peace accord.

    And then the biggest thing is we've got to explain this accord in all these camps, so there's a lot of implementation work ahead of us.

  • JIM LEHRER:

    Do you leave your job frustrated that more has not been done quicker to help this situation?

  • ROBERT ZOELLICK:

    Well, you know, if you go to Darfur as many times as I have, your main concern is, when you see the people, your heart goes out to them. And so I'm very pleased, frankly, to be the representative of the United States, which has done more than any other country, in terms of feeding people and trying to put a focus on this issue.

    And I'm very pleased that, through some tough work with the Europeans, African Union and others we were able to get this accord.

    But when you look at a problem like genocide, there's no doubt that it's going to take a long time. And part of it will have to help — I hope, as the peace accord gets implemented — with the reconstruction and development. So this is one of those problems that's going to take time.