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Deputy Secretary Wolfowitz Media Availability in Munich

Presenter: Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz
February 02, 2002

(Media availability at the Munich Conference on European Security Policy, Munich, Germany)

I don't have a great deal to add. I agree very much with the minister's characterization of our talks when he says they were frank. They were frank in the best sense of that word. That is, they were open and we discussed the issues in a way that allowed you to understand them. It doesn't mean the diplomatic euphemism that we had a difficult time. To the contrary I think what characterized these discussions very much is that our two countries have a great deal of mutual security interests and that our discussions really now focus on how to promote those mutual interests. Clearly among the most important ones, the most urgent ones, are those that bear on the war against terrorism and I am counting terrorism both immediate problems, but also looking at broader issues, broader threats the terrorists might pose. At the same time, we spent a good deal of time talking about how to establish this framework of strategic stability and carrying through on the plans for reductions that President Bush and President Putin discussed at Crawford. And again, I think that is part of building a relationship between our two countries that is not going to be based on preserving an adversarial relationship between us, but rather very much on the fact that we have common interests.

One of those common interests includes a new relationship between Russia and NATO and we've touched on that subject as well and very much look forward to building on that agreement that is in the works.

(Russian spoken -- agreements between the two countries, disagreements in some areas, by what time that kind of agreement will be in place, etc.)

Q: Secretary Wolfowitz, did you get the impression after hearing comments of some European members of parliament, namely Glamors, Campbell and Weisskirchen, that the United States is going to face the hard sell getting the Allies on board for any extension of the war against terrorism into Iraq, that there could be an intensification of the accusations that the United States is acting in the (inaudible)

Wolfowitz: I'd go back to what Senator McCain (interrupted) --

If you heard Senator McCain's response, he repeated the word "if," more times than I can count; and I think that's fundamental to all of this. This is not merely saying you're asking the hypothetical question which you are. I think more importantly it is a leap from what the president said in the State of the Union message to concluding any particular course of action. What the president did was to identify a problem. That's the first step toward identifying a solution. But in fact one of the reasons for doing it in the way that we did and doing it publicly is to begin the kind of debate, the kind of discussion you heard today. Indeed when the European members talked about the need for consultation, I would contend that in some degree this public discussion is part of that consultation.

But we've made no decisions about where we are going specific, but the president has made it very clear what the problem is; what the goal has to be and there are many different possible ways of achieving that goal and that's one of the subjects that we will be discussing not only in conferences like this, but obviously much more importantly in private discussions with various Allied governments and with other affected countries. So we are a long way from decisions about what to do. I don't think we're a long way from understanding we have a very serious problem.

(Russian question)

That's all the time we have ladies and gentlemen, thank you very much.