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Secretary Rumsfeld Joint Media Availability with President Karzai

Presenter: Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld
May 01, 2003

Rumsfeld: I don’t recognize anyone. There’s a couple.

Q: I’m surprised we still have quite a great deal of the press. I thought you had all gone to Iraq.

(Laughter)

Q: That means the world is interested in Afghanistan.

Karzai: It’s a great pleasure to have the good friend of Afghanistan, Secretary Rumsfeld visiting us again in Kabul probably for the 3rd or 4th time. We had detailed discussions about various aspects of the success in Afghanistan and of what we plan to do ahead in our fight against terrorism and bringing more peace and stability to the country. We had a good meeting with the members of our cabinet as well. Secretary Rumsfeld has welcomed Afghanistan, he’s bringing us today further good news that he’ll talk about and I welcome him again and give him the floor.

Rumsfeld: Thank you very much Mr. President I am delighted to be back in Afghanistan. As I drove in from the airport I was impressed with the marked change that I’ve seen. It may not be as apparent to people who are here continuously but for me to come back after many months now and see the progress, just feel the energy in the street, to see the Kiosk and people active and cars moving around and young children coming and going, people on the street. It is a measure of the progress, it is the measure of the success that’s taking place here and needless to say it warms the hearts of those of us who have wished this country well and look forward to the continued progress of the Afghan people.

The President of the United States and General Franks and I have been looking at the progress that’s being made in this country and in cooperation with President Karzai have concluded that we are at a point where we clearly have moved from major combat activity to a period of stability and stabilization and reconstruction and activities. The bulk of this country today is permissive, it’s secure it is clear that that’s the case by virtue of the fact that we have see people returning to their country from all across the globe in large numbers. They are voting with feet their saying that the circumstance here is something they want to be a part of and that’s a good thing.

I should underline however, that there are still dangers, there are still pockets of resistance in certain parts of the country and General McNeal and General Franks and their, the cooperation they have with the Mr. President Karzai’s government and leadership and Marshall Fayheems assistance. We will be continuing as a country to work with the Afghan government and the new Afghan National Army to see that the any areas where there is resistance to this government and to the coalition forces will be dealt with promptly and efficiently.

I would like to say one other thing and that involves the, what we are calling the provincial reconstruction team through PRTs. The United States along with some coalition countries and the officials of Afghanistan are in the process now, I think of having rolled out 3 of these PRTs, they have plans for what General McNeal 4, 5, or 6 more I think and our hope is that by taking into the important parts of this country, teams of people that can contribute to security but even more important contribute to the lives of the people in those provinces by way of hospitals or schools or medicines or roads all the things that might be needed that these PRTs can play a constructive and useful role. President Karzai has been deeply involved in working with General McNeal as to how these teams are fashioned as to where they go and to the kinds of activities they are engaged in. They have been very well received in the 3 locations where they’ve started, we are hopeful that as we are able to attract other countries to participate that we’ll find additional PRTs moving out and contributing to an improved circumstance for the Afghan people. President Karzai I again want to thank your leadership for your cooperation in the global war on terror and for your hospitality today.

Karzai: Most welcome, most welcome we wanted you stay longer but you are leaving so.

Q: Mr. Secretary might I ask, what will US deploy troops now do differently to foster United-Arab reconstruction than they’ve been doing before and it’s taking us 18 months in Afghanistan to reach essentially the same point that they have in Iraq. Why so long?

Rumsfeld: The situation, first of all what will be done differently. I think that it’s a matter of a shift emphasis. The United States began a process from the very outset of including humanitarian assistance and reconstruction activity and technically non-military activity almost from the first day that we set foot here and bought in forces to work with the local forces to deal with the Taliban and the al-Qaeda. What’s different however is that we are now at a point where we can actually shift our weight and a considerably larger portion of the effort in the country can be in that direction because of the success in providing a more stable environment here.

As to the differences between this country and Iraq they are notable. The situation here is such that the forces on the ground that the coalition had were relatively modest and the task of dealing with individual pockets of resistance in various places took some time. The country has porous borders and in some instances you can be successful in providing stability in a certain area and then when some time passes people can in fact and return and do things that are unhelpful to the success of this government and so it is something is going to take some time, we recognize that, we recognize the importance of doing it so we are happy to be able to participate with our coalition partners and spend the time.

The situation in Iraq is quite different there we were dealing with an Army and as opposed to a terrorist situation and we have sizeable forces on the ground and have the ability to, we are hopeful with our coalition partners begin the process relatively soon of shifting our weight somewhat. In no case is it uniform it will be not exactly the same in each province of this country or exactly the same in each province of Iraq.

Q: Secretary Rumsfeld you said you were impressed (inaudible).

Rumsfeld: Deteriorating. I don’t think I’d say that, it seems to me that we see ebbs and flows of activities and sometimes when the activity increases that offers an opportunity to go in and deal with it and, so I would think that we ought to, we won’t expect that things will be perfectly level, we’ll expect that they’ll be flare ups from time to time and as they occur they’ll be dealt with.

Q: (Inaudible)

Karzai: Control the country? Let me answer this. Afghanistan has gone through 30 years of anarchy war and instability, the consequence of that is the considerable weakening of the institutions that can run any state not in Afghanistan, any state. The reason that Afghanistan is still there is because of the formidable nation that it has. What we have to give this nation of the institutions that will provide it with the administration that it needs. Politically the country is very, very strongly cohesive. Can we provide the whole country with strong administration? No. Why? Primarily because of the severe lack of human resources that we have, the ones that we had 30 years ago, the administration is now over 1617 from that time today we have not trained anyone so there’s a serious shortage of human resources and of course material resources. Have we achieved something from last December until today? Yes. And example of that, there are so many examples. Today the whole country the provinces especially provinces centers of (inaudible) with the Minister of Interior by communications and by other links. We know immediately of the incidents that occur in the country, we can respond to that, there was an incident a few days ago at the border between us and Pakistan, the next morning we had a national security council meeting and I was delightfully surprised that the Minister of Foreign Affairs had received that morning a report from that (inaudible). The Minister of Interior had the same report and the Minister of Defense also spoke about the report that they had received so the 3 departments that was suppose to know about it knew it at the same time and almost shared information with little differences in the information. That way the country is doing very, very well. Is it enough? No. Should we do more? Yes a lot more has to be done to do that. With regard to more movements in Afghanistan I think I can move much freely than lots of other (inaudible) can move in their countries and it’s just that.

Q: Mr. Secretary with the subject of increasing the number of Iraqis and foreign countries Iraq?

Rumsfeld: Oh that will be a judgment that will be made here in the country in consultation with President Karzai and his minister. I think that when you begin something like this you do it on a test basis to see how it’s going and what the reaction is, second I would say that the various locations may differ in there nature and have interest in various, a variety of different kinds of emphasis among the things that a PRT can do so I would think that the size could vary. I don’t know that they would necessarily all increase in size but I would hope that the number of PRT’s would increase.

Q: (Inaudible) a combat role is this now a peacekeeping role?

Rumsfeld: I think I described it well. I said that it was moving from major combat operations and shifting the weight, which was never the case in every place and shifting the weight towards security and stability operations and in the case of PRTs reconstruction and humanitarian assistance of various types. That’s what I would call it.

Q: (Inaudible)

Rumsfeld: Well I’m not knowledgeable about the situation you’re describing and certainly not intimately acquainted with it. However, you are absolutely correct, if involved al-Qaeda or Taliban the United States would have been involved, that true. Let’s assume that the thing, the situation you’re describing was not that and that it was a local matter between various people who were in disagreement. Those kinds of issues are issues that we’ve discussed with President Karzai they are issues that of course the President and his Ministers have the first responsibility to deal with and the task of the Ministry of Defense and the security forces that exists in this country, I would look to, to deal with those things first. United States can do a lot of things and we want to be helpful and we are participating with the leadership of the coalition, we are providing assistance to the international security systems force, we are assisting in training the Afghan National Army and there are lots of things we can do to be helpful. It is not true that we can do everything so what happens is, there’s a process of discussion with the President, with his Minister and General McNeal where those kind of things are sorted through. I’m afraid that’s the best I can do with respect to something that I’m not knowledgeable about.

Voice: Our time is up. I think the Secretary has to leave. Thank you very much.

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