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Rumsfeld Calls on World to Oppose, Defeat Terrorism

By Linda D. Kozaryn
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, May 24, 2002 – "Terrorism must be vigorously opposed and soundly defeated wherever it exists," Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said at the Pentagon today.

Whether it's in America, Afghanistan, Europe, Asia or the Middle East "we have to end state sponsorship and support of terrorism," he said. "We have to prevent authors of mass murder from gaining and using weapons of mass destruction."

The war on terrorism is not America's war "only" it is not just America's problem, Rumsfeld stressed. "Terrorism has existed for decades as low intensity conflict," he said. "Its rise in recent years, its frequency, its intensity and its scope, as well as its use by terrorist networks with global reach" makes it a problem for civilized nations everywhere.

The United States, he said, must be prepared to help other countries stand strong against terrorism. That's why the U.S. military is now in Afghanistan tracking down al Qaeda and Taliban forces. That is also why U.S. forces are helping to counter terrorism in Yemen, the Republic of Georgia and the Philippines.

"It's why we oppose nations like those harboring and helping terrorists," Rumsfeld said, "and it's why we continue to seek and appreciate the support of every nation that's willing to join us in this important effort."

Currently, 68 nations are supporting the global war on terrorism, he said. Twenty nations have deployed more than 16,000 troops to U.S. Central Command's area of responsibility. Coalition partners make up more than half the non-Afghan forces working with U.S. forces in Afghanistan.

On operations in Afghanistan, Rumsfeld said that reports circulated May 23 claiming that 20 U.S. troops were missing in Paktia province were untrue. "It turns out it was a release by the so-called Democratic People's Republic of North Korea," the secretary said. "It was not only not accurate. It was undoubtedly purposefully inaccurate."

U.S. and coalition forces continue their pursuit of al Qaeda and Taliban forces in Afghanistan, said Marine Corps Gen. Peter Pace, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Overnight, he reported, coalition special operations forces raided a suspected Taliban leadership compound west of Kandahar, killing one enemy fighter, wounding two and detaining about 50. There were no coalition casualties.

In light of Memorial Day, Pace took the opportunity to thank the families of those who have lost loved ones in defense of America. He called on today's service members to rededicate themselves to the country and to those who went before them.

"We will not betray the wonderful legacy and freedom that we've inherited," the general said.

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DoD News Transcript: DoD News Briefing - Secretary Rumsfeld, May 24, 2002

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