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Secretary Rumsfeld Remarks En Route to El Salvador

Presenter: Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld
November 11, 2004

Thursday, November 11, 2004

Secretary Rumsfeld Remarks En Route to El Salvador

            SEC. RUMSFELD:  As you know, we’re going to be stopping in El Salvador and Nicaragua and Panama and Ecuador.  The first stops will be visits to the places, particularly El Salvador and Nicaragua – countries that have been very helpful in the global war on terror.  And all three of the Central American countries of course have been working to strengthen the Inter-American System, in particular, the Central American countries.  The defense ministerial meetings of the Americas will take place in Quito and we will be talking about strengthening the Inter-American System, about peacekeeping and the role that so many of these countries that are playing and aiding, which is important.  It certainly is important to [Inaudible] and it’s also important to the hemisphere.  And I was here two years ago and the [Inaudible] initiative involving peacekeeping is simply, believed it’s important for the region to have strengthened and security systems and security arrangements in our country and can be helpful in that [Inaudible] with them and we look forward to continuing that.


            Q:  [Inaudible] these countries both bilaterally and multi-laterally [Inaudible] and in the past two years seemed to sharply increase their cooperation out of area in the fight against terrorism.  But one of the two [Inaudible] but even more cooperation [Inaudible].


            SEC. RUMSFELD:  Indeed, each country, of course, has to figure out for themselves where those lines are and what the relationships ought to be between the police and their military and security forces.  But understanding the nature of terrorism and narco-trafficking and how they can take advantage, it seems, is important to – seeing that each of our countries is arranged in a way that’s appropriate for the 21st century and the kinds of challenges and traps that they face, which are not restricted to single country – the – across borders, in fact, will take advantage of borders. 


            Q:  Mr. Secretary, [Inaudible] Fallujah, can you tell us what’s the status is? 


            SEC. RUMSFELD:  Well, the status is that Fallujah has been for some time a safe haven for extremists, for former regime elements, for foreign terrorists.  And as we’ve said repeatedly, the government of Iraq understands that it is not acceptable to have a safe haven within that country.  Where people who oppose the government of Iraq, are free to attack innocent Iraqis and try to undermine and destabilize that government.  The government made a decision to put in forces and ask the coalitions to put its forces against that problem.  And they started.  They are well along in that task and they’ll finish it successfully. 


            Q:  [Inaudible]


            SEC. RUMSFELD:  I have no need to ever predict how long things will take.  They’ll take as long as they take.  And it’ll end and it’ll end successfully and it will no longer be a safe haven for terrorists or extremists. 


            Q:  [Inaudible] is it going well?


            SEC. RUMSFELD:  It is. 


            Q:  [Inaudible]


            SEC. RUMSFELD:  Oh, I have doubt that some people did leave before it started.  We also know that there are a number of hundreds that didn’t and have been killed.  Others have been captured.  


            Q:  [Inaudible]


            SEC. RUMSFELD:  The Department of State has been attentive to what’s taken place there and we have assisted them from time to time by making assessments.  And certainly the multinational force and the U.N.  force that’s currently working there is addressing the problems as the facts changed on the ground.  They had, of course, a most unfortunate flooding situation where a number of people lost their lives and compounded the problem. 

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