Rumsfeld to Travel to Asia, Europe for Defense Minister Talks
By Kathleen T. Rhem
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, June 1, 2005 Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld departs from Washington early June 2 to attend international security conferences in Singapore and Belgium.
Rumsfeld will speak to defense ministers from throughout the Asia-Pacific region in Singapore June 4 at the Asia Security Conference, sponsored by the International Institute for Strategic Studies.
While at the so-called "Shangri-La Dialogue," Rumsfeld will hold bilateral meetings with defense ministers from several Asian nations and Australia, which figures heavily in security issues affecting the Asia-Pacific region.
Topics of discussion in the conference are likely to include the North Korean nuclear threat, Chinese military modernization, and multilateral cooperation in disaster-relief operations following the Dec. 26 tsunami that devastated a large swath of the area surrounding the Indian Ocean.
A senior defense official, speaking on background, said the regional response and international cooperation in the area surrounding the tsunami validated theater security cooperation efforts that had been under way in the region for several years.
Close cooperation in training and in brainstorming possible scenarios for cooperation allowed the United States and several countries in the region to set up a joint task force at Utapao, Thailand, within two days after the disaster.
"And it functioned better than anyone could imagine," the official said. "It validated that what we were doing was right, and we probably should have been doing it more aggressively."
Discussions of the North Korean nuclear threat are likely to be a main focus of many of the bilateral meetings, the official said.
Rumsfeld will wrap up his overseas trip at a NATO defense ministers meeting in Brussels, Belgium.