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Agence France Presse

Rice Admits Iraq Regrets, Says US Eventually 'Got It Right'


A spectator is stopped by university staff and security guards as he protests against the U.S. policy on Iraq during a lecture held by former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice at the Chinese University of Hong Kong March 19, 2010. (REUTERS/Bobby Yip)

HONG KONG - Former top US diplomat Condoleezza Rice voiced regret on Friday at the bloody aftermath of the 2003 invasion of Iraq but said the Bush administration had in the end "got it right" in the country.

Rice, who served as national security advisor during the Iraq invasion and later as secretary of state, was unrepentant about the ouster of Saddam Hussein.

"I would many times over liberate Iraq again from Saddam Hussein. I think he's a danger to the Middle East," she said in a speech at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, when asked what she thought she had got wrong.

"But we didn't understand how broken Iraq was as a society and we tried to rebuild Iraq from Baghdad out. And we really should have rebuilt Iraq outside Baghdad in."

"We should have worked with the tribes. We should have worked with the provinces. We should have smaller projects than the large ones that we had." Nonetheless, she insisted, the administration had "finally got it right" in 2006, the year before a new "surge" strategy was employed to bring down levels of unrest.

Among other issues, Rice voiced concern at a lack of international action to protect women in Sudan facing the daily threat of rape in refugee camps after fleeing unrest in Darfur.

"What's happening in Sudan is a tragedy. It's a tragedy that the international community couldn't do something about it," she said.

"I met with women who were raped on their way to get water when I went to the refugee camps in Sudan. These lives were ruined forever."

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