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General Petraeus Tells VOA's Persian News Network 'We Are Neither Pessimists Nor Optimists - We Are Realists'

In exclusive interview, says 'Nothing is easy here' in Iraq

Washington, D.C., March 4, 2008 - In an exclusive interview today with Voice of America's (VOA) Persian News Network (PNN), General David H. Petraeus observed "Ambassador Crocker and I often say, in fact, we are neither pessimists or optimists - we are realists. And the reality of Iraq is that it is very hard. Nothing is easy here."

Petraeus, the Commanding General of the Multi-National Force in Iraq since February 2007, spoke about the stance of Iraqi officials on Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s visit. He explained, "They say 'We welcome the Iranian pilgrims. We welcome Iranian money. We welcome Iranian goods and services and produce. But we don't welcome the improvised explosive devices, the trained militia extremists and the 240mm rockets.' "

Further commenting on Iraq-Iran relations, Petraeus said, "Iran should be trying to achieve a good relationship with a country that's always going to be its neighbor to the west. This border is not going to go away any time soon." He continued, "There is a shared history, and much of that history is not pleasant."

When asked about the troop surge in Iraq, Petraeus asserted, "We can certainly say that the security aspect of the surge has achieved considerable progress. I wouldn't ever use the word success or victory or anything like that." He concluded, "Progress is difficult to achieve and it is difficult to sustain and build."

International correspondent Katayoun Beglari-Scarlet has been on special assignment in Iraq this week as part of PNN's ongoing coverage from inside the country. VOA has the largest combined radio and television audience of all international broadcasters in Iran, with one in four adult Iranians tuning into a VOA show at least once a week. Programs are also streamed on our website,

The Voice of America, which first went on the air in 1942, is a multimedia international broadcasting service funded by the U.S. government through the Broadcasting Board of Governors. VOA broadcasts more than 1,250 hours of news, information, educational, and cultural programming every week to an estimated worldwide audience of more than 115 million people. Programs are produced in 45 languages.

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