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LIVE FROM THE HEADLINES

Liberian President Looks Towards Future

Aired July 8, 2003 - 20:11   ET

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

PAULA ZAHN, CNN ANCHOR: Liberian President Charles Taylor is now talking about his future. And he hopes it includes an elder statesman role in the country the U.S. feels he has led disastrously since 1989. Taylor also repeated his call for the U.S. to send in peacekeepers.
Brent Sadler, our own, talked with Taylor today.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CHARLES TAYLOR, LIBERIAN PRESIDENT: Liberia remains the oldest and strongest ally of the United States. There's been nothing done here constructively over the past 100 years. Some of us feel that you owe it to this country, because we've been by you and we continue to stand by you.

BRENT SADLER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: If the conditions, the exit conditions, are not satisfactory for you to leave, what could happen here?

TAYLOR: Total chaos. Total chaos, if it is not done properly.

Brent, is there anyone that can argue about a smooth transition of power? Isn't that what democracy is all about? Charles Taylor gets up and he hightails out of Monrovia, thousands of people, millions of people that supported me throughout my presidency, combatants that are in the field, some of them hundreds of miles away from the city of Monrovia, not knowing, hearing, the president ran away from Liberia, isn't that a recipe for anarchy?

SADLER: Is it necessary to have U.S. troops here on the ground here in Liberia before you leave office?

TAYLOR: Not necessarily. We look at a process right now of ECOWAS forces and multinational troops. The United States, as far as I understand, is going to lead that multinational effort. We're looking for a bridging force of United Nations troops. There's got to be somebody on the ground.

If the United States has a problem in committing its forces while I'm still here, I think one way to resolve that problem is to help ECOWAS immediately get a few battalions on the ground as a bridging force. I would be satisfied with that. I want relief for the Liberian people.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SADLER: Well, Charles Taylor speaking to me there earlier today here in Monrovia. He also said that he was looking for relief, not only for the Liberian people, but also for himself, in the sense that he wants to see a war crimes indictment issued from Sierra Leone, one of the neighboring countries last month, should be -- quote -- "dealt with," he said. He didn't say dropped, but dealt with, because he does not want to face jurisdiction in that court.

He says he will -- quote -- "go and rest in Nigeria," not ruling out a comeback, not as president, he says, but as an elder statesman of Liberia -- Paula.

ZAHN: Brent, thank you so much for that exclusive report.

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