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Wolfowitz Airport Departure Stakeout, Ankara

Presenter: Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz
December 13, 2002

Wednesday, December 4, 2002

Wolfowitz Airport Departure Stakeout, Ankara)

Wolfowitz - Good morning. Let me just make a few points, and then I guess I'll have time for maybe a question or two. First of all it was a pleasure to be here in Turkey again, and an honor to see so many old friends and new friends. Second, we had a series of very positive and constructive discussions about Turkey's future, which is clearly a future of further integration with Europe, a future of economic strength, and a future of continued alliance and close cooperation with the United States. Third, I was honored last night to be able to extend formally an invitation from President Bush to Mr. Erdogan for an official visit to Washington. And fourth, I also discussed with the Prime Minister, the Defense Minister and others a range of very important matters regarding the threat posed by Iraq. Fifth, we reached agreement on the next steps in military planning and preparations, and I believe we've charted a course for the way forward, working together, so now it should be clearer than ever that Saddam Hussein is surrounded by the international community. And finally, this is vitally important, because the most likely route to achieving a peaceful resolution, a peaceful disarmament of Iraqi weapons of mass terror is through confronting Saddam Hussein with a unified international community. I have time for a question or two.

Question - Sir, you've talked about possible investments in bases here, and we've read about letters asking for certain bases, positioning of troops. Do you foresee a big build-up of US troops here in Turkey?

Wolfowitz - What I've referred to is that the next immediate step of our military planning preparations is to identify, with the kind of precision that military planners have to have, which facilities might actually be used, which forces might actually be based on those facilities, which investments are required to bring those facilities up to the standards necessary for forces to operate out of them. That would then bring us to an important decision point for both our governments. But until we've done that work -- and we want to do it as quickly as possible -- neither our government nor the Turkish Government can actually say with precision what we would do.

Question - Yesterday you said that we are trying to convince Iraq, but if we can't manage it, we will have to use force. I want to learn that. First you in United States are trying to convince Iraq to accept the arms inspectors, and now and later you tried to convince them to be cooperative. And according to the inspectors, they are. So I want to learn what is the specific issue now that you are trying to convince Iraq?

Wolfowitz - It's a good question and I think the answer is very simple and clear. The Iraqi regime is required under the terms of some sixteen U.N. resolutions -- and now the seventeenth one that was passed last month -- to give up all of its biological and chemical and nuclear weapons, and ban programs to develop those weapons. And for eleven years they have resisted doing so. It is time for a new era. It's time for Iraq to give up those weapons. They have got to do so one way or another. It is up to Iraq to disarm. It's not up to the inspectors to disarm Iraq. What the inspectors can do, if there is a fundamental change in the attitude of Iraq, is to verify that that has happened. But we have to have a fundamental change in attitude. That's why it is so important that Saddam Hussein understand that he is indeed surrounded by the international community, and has no choice but to give up those weapons. Let me also say that because of all of this rather grim and serious talk, which is necessary, it's also, I think, important to point out that one way or another if we can achieve this objective of disarming Iraqi weapons of terror, we can look forward to a much better future for this whole region, including for Turkey. When I met with Mr. Erdogan last night, he spoke quite eloquently of some of the economic problems and suffering of people in the southeastern part of Turkey, the poorest part of this country. That is something that we believe can change with a new era, especially if there is a new regime in Baghdad that takes care of its own people, lives at peace with its neighbors, and focuses on peaceful economic development. That will be very positive not only for the United States and for the people of Iraq, but for the people of Turkey as well. Thanks very much.