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Secretary Rumsfeld Press Availability with Minister Pascu Bucharest

Presenter: Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld
October 12, 2004

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

Secretary Rumsfeld Press Availability with Minister Pascu Bucharest

            Q: Mr. Secretary, Carl Rochelle, NBC News. There are reports out of Iraq that some members of Al-Sadr's Mahdi army are turning in their weapons in Sadr City.  Can you comment on that -- particularly in light of the significance of the weapons turnover in Fallujah, which was pretty insignificant.  Are the reports accurate?  And are the weapons they’re turning over useful weapons and how is the climate there?


            SEC. RUMSFELD: Well, I haven't seen the reports, so I can't say
whether the reports are accurate. It is true that some elements are turning in some weapons. As is always the case, time will tell. What one has to do is watch over a period time and see what volume of weapons and what types of weapons and the conditions of the weapons that actually end up being turned in. I have been following the reports that the elements of [inaudible] militia and made that decision and are proceeding to do that, with hopes that over time all of them will but until that happens, we have to just be hopeful.

            Q: A follow-up if you will, based on reports you are keeping track of.  Do you believe that the Mahdi army is going to be less of a factor in Iraq?


            SEC. RUMSFELD: I guess I'm realistically hopeful [inaudible]. I'm one of those people who like to see things happen and I just watch and wait and encourage and be optimistic and hopeful.


            Q: [Inaudible – Romanian newspaper] A Republican Congressman said to the US press that the United States tried to build an American democracy in Iraq.  ‘When we went there, I thought we would be able to recognize democracy, but we would be happy with a  Romanian type democracy,’ he said.  How do you think about that? How do you comment?


            SEC. RUMSFELD: I guess I don't have any comment. I didn't see
his statement. I don't know what he means and I haven't seen it in context and I wouldn't even want to comment.  Therefore, I would say about Iraq and that is the thrust of your question as I recall, is that their going to end up with an Iraqi solution, just as every other country in the world has to arrange themselves – every free country -- arranges themselves in a way that fits their history, fits their background, fits their circumstance, endeavors,  fits their hopes for the future. So I guess what would happen in Iraq is that they would not end up with an American style of democracy they will very likely end up with a system that is distinctly unique to Iraq and suits their circumstances.  Of course, people evolve, just as our [inaudible] many, many countries evolve, our country has evolved over many, many years - that Iraq’s  circumstance will evolve as well.


            Q: Mr. Secretary, Jim Mannion, from Agence France Press.  NATO has
agreed to enlarge a training mission in Iraq. Will NATO trainers be in Iraq soon enough to make a difference before the elections?


            SEC. RUMSFELD: The first set of elections are scheduled for January. And NATO has fortunately has taken the important decision to involve themselves and something out of the NATO treaty area – out of Europe -- and assist in the training and equipping mission in Iraq. We have been working on that problem for well over a year and a half.


            We now have 100,000 Iraqis - Security Forces in the army, the Border Patrol and the police, and the National Guard that are fully trained and fully equipped. We need more – we need it from NATO nations; we need it from non-NATO nations.  We’ll going to have to buy some things. There's the donor's conference coming up very soon for just further support.  And everything helps is the answer.   You say, ‘will it be soon?’  Everything we do will be helpful.  It will be helpful for the January elections and it'll be somewhat more helpful for the elections that will follow thereafter.


            Q: [inaudible Romanian News Agency]  Mr. Secretary, what do you think about the military base you saw yesterday in Constanta and when do you think of deployment of US troops will come to Romania?


            SEC. RUMSFELD: You get right to the point, don't you? [Laughter] I don't know.


            The answer to your question is we had a wonderful day yesterday. Our thanks to the Minister [Pescu], we had good tour of a facility that was of great help to the coalition forces in Operation Iraqi Freedom. And we appreciate that assistance that was provided.


            And as you know, we're now in the process of adjusting our forces around the world. We have not made final decisions and we will make them probably sequentially, but it won't be one big announcement. We'll work through the pieces over time and it will probably take several (three, four, five, six, seven years) to actually roll out whatever it is we end up deciding to do.


            But we certainly appreciate the fine tour and having a chance to inspect the base that was so helpful to us during the Iraq conflict.


            If I could just say something rather than responding to questions. I just had a chance to personally visit with a lot of the young folks who served in Afghanistan and Iraq on behalf of the Romanian Armed Forces. And it was a real privilege. They are outstanding young men who have not only served their country well, but 10, 15, 20 years from now, they're going to look back and be so proud of what they've done to help 50 million people – about 25 million in each of those two countries, live better lives and be freer and be safer and be more prosperous. And I am very grateful to the Minister and to the Armed Forces of Romania and particularly to the young men that we’ve just had lunch with.

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