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Rumsfeld to Travel to Asia to Meet With Troops, Allies

By Kathleen T. Rhem
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Nov. 11, 2003 – Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld will travel to Asia Nov. 12 to visit American troops and meet with U.S. allies in the region, he announced Nov. 10.

Rumsfeld told a group of mainly Asian journalists at the Foreign Press Center here that he will meet with officials in Japan and the Republic of Korea "to discuss the arrangements we have with them and our close cooperation in the global war on terror."

Both Japan and South Korea have supported U.S. efforts in the war on terrorism. Japan has provided at-sea refueling for coalition ships participating in Operation Enduring Freedom. South Korea has engineer and medical units serving in both Afghanistan and Iraq, Rumsfeld noted.

Both countries have contributed to the financial support of Iraq and Afghanistan as well. Japan has pledged $5 billion, including $1.5 billion in 2004, toward rebuilding Iraq, the secretary said, while Korea has pledged $200 million over the next four years.

Japan and the United States are long-standing allies and have worked together to develop missile-defense systems, he said.

In Korea, the secretary will attend the annual U.S.-Republic of Korea Consultative Meeting. This year marks the 50th anniversary of the mutual-defense treaty between the two nations.

"Five decades later, the U.S. and ROK alliance is strong and it is healthy," Rumsfeld said. "U.S. and Korean forces are serving side by side in the cause of freedom in both Iraq and Afghanistan."

Issues to be discussed in talks with Korean officials include "expanding the role of ROK defense forces in defense of the peninsula and in consolidating U.S. forces around key hubs," he said.

The secretary said the size and shape of the American footprint in the region may vary over time, but the United States remains committed to the defense of South Korea. "Our goal is to reinforce deterrence and to position the alliance for the period ahead," he said.

Rumsfeld also will visit American military forces throughout the region "to thank them for the important work they're doing," he said.

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