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Qatar, U.S. Sign Military Implementation Agreement

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

DOHA, Qatar, Dec. 11, 2002 – Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld today signed an implementation agreement on behalf of the United States with Qatari Foreign Minister Hamad bin Jasim al Thani.

The secretary arrived from Djibouti and immediately went to sign the agreement at Wajba Palace, the foreign minister's official residence.

The agreement will allow the United States and Qatar to strengthen the long-term strategic cooperation "and to engage in some upgrades here in the country that will work to our mutual benefit," the secretary said.

"The relationship between both countries is growing and is being built on a good base of understanding by both sides," said Al Thani.

The agreement will improve readiness capabilities and permit a variety of upgrades to facilities in the Persian Gulf nation. Some projects are quality-of-life upgrades, the secretary said, while others will provide state-of-the- art military capabilities for forces in the country.

The secretary and foreign minister faced some tough questions from the local press. One reporter accused the secretary of ignoring the United Nations and the United States of being hell-bent for war.

"How could you even ask that question when it was the Iraqi regime that ignored 16 resolutions of the United Nations over a period of many, many years?" he said. "Second, how could you even ask that question given the fact that it was the United States that went to the United Nations and received a unanimous vote in the Security Council."

He said the premise of the question is "obviously misplaced."

Rumsfeld faced a number of questions on Iraq and the declaration Iraq submitted to the United Nations on its weapons of mass destruction programs.

He said the declaration is more than 20,000 pages long. The secretary said no one will know if Iraq has complied with this aspect of the terms of U.N. Security Council Resolution 1441 until experts get a chance to translate, study and analyze the results.

The secretary will go to an air base in As-Sayliyah, Qatar, Dec. 12 to observe Exercise Internal Look. The U.S. Central Command uses the exercise to test how well it can run operations from a forward-deployed location. CENTCOM headquarters are in Tampa, Fla.

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