Press Availability with Secretary Rumsfeld and Mongolian Minister of Defense Sonompil from Singapore
RUMSFELD: It’s still morning. Good morning. The Minister and I have just had a good discussion; we’ve discussed our bilateral relationships, our military-to-military work. They are engaged in, very soon, an important exercise called Conquest which is going to take place in Mongolia, and we’ve planned to participate and be helpful. Do you have something you’d like to say Mr. Minister?
SONOMPIL: [translation] It is my privilege to have this opportunity to visit Singapore, to the Shangri-La Dialogue, and -- for the first time in my capacity as the Minister of Defense -- to be able to meet Mr. Secretary to discuss the issues of our bilateral military cooperation. I express my gratitude for the continued support of the United States Department of Defense and Mr. Secretary himself to increase the peacekeeping capabilities of Mongolian Armed Forces, as the Secretary mentioned about the upcoming joint multi-national exercise, Conquest.
RUMSFELD: We’ve been working closely with the Ministry of Defense of Mongolia with respect to their desire to develop additional capabilities for peacekeeping. We recognize, as the world does, that there’s a need for peacekeepers and the work that the Mongolian Armed Forces have done in both Afghanistan and Iraq has been impressive and enormously helpful.
QUESTION: Thank you. Do you have anything else?
SONOMPIL: Just wanted to express my thanks to all the media people here for this coverage and wish you the best.
QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, the Shanghai Corporation Organization, the SCO, will mark its fifth anniversary in less than two weeks. What’s your comment on the upcoming SCO summit and Iran’s application for membership in that organization?
RUMSFELD: I congratulate them on their anniversary.
QUESTION: Any more comment?
QUESTION: And also, for Mr. Sonompil, is Mongolia interested in joining the SCO as a full member?
SONOMPIL: Mongolia participates in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization as an observer member. That’s a very short answer.
QUESTION: Are you interested in joining as a full member?
SONOMPIL: The decision has to be made at the National Security Council and I’m not in authority to announce it.
QUESTION: Can I have your personal thoughts on this question?
RUMSFELD: You’re not going to let anyone else ask a question?
SONOMPIL: I have to apologize. I’m here in my capacity as the Minister of Defense of Mongolia. I’m not a decision maker in the highest national authority.
QUESTION: Secretary Rumsfeld, if you could you tell us about your
RUMSFELD: Wait a second. I think John was asking a question. Excuse me.
QUESTION: Secretary, your next stop is Vietnam. Can you describe for us a little bit how those relationships have grown closer in recent years between the U.S. and Vietnamese military, and what objectives you might have – for instance, increased access to Vietnamese military facilities?
RUMSFELD: No, we have no plans for access to facilities, military facilities, in Vietnam. We do have an evolving military to military relationship. Vietnam is an important country and they’re a country that we value our relationship with, but it certainly isn’t anything that involves military basing. Thank you, folks.