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Secretary Rumsfeld Interview with La Tercera Daily, Santiago, Chile

Presenter: Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld
November 18, 2002

(Interview with Juan Paulo Iglesias of La Tercera Daily, Santiago, Chile)

Q: A document from the National Security Council issued last September said that Chile and four other Latin America countries share the United States priorities on security matters. What are those priorities and why only these five countries were included in this government document?

Rumsfeld: That document was not put out by the Pentagon. It was put out by the National Security Council. I have not got the document in front of me, therefore I don't know the context, being a conservative person I don't answer questions I think I do not know, okay?

Q: There is some information about the presence of Al Qaeda members in this region, in the triple frontier, in Iquique in the north of Chile. Do you have information about that? What's the information you have?

Rumsfeld: I do not have any information that's discussible. Needless to say we have interest in all of the terrorist networks that operate in the world, and we see lots of reports about their movements around the world. In many cases it is scraps of information that is not verified and to some extent it involves actual hard information that it may be a transit as opposed to a location and in some instances it relates as much to financing, in some instances there are loose affiliations and I'm not in the intelligence business as such so I don't spend a lot of time trying to nail all that down. I get the assessments from the director of the central intelligence and look at that, but those kinds of things that are assessments and evaluations and they are not releasable.

Q: Do you have permanent contact with the Chilean agency of security to... (inaudible).

Rumsfeld: Oh, I don't. I am not in the intelligence business. We have relationships, military-to-military relationships with many, many Latin American countries, which we value very highly. I think they are important and beneficial to both of our countries.

Q: The United States wants to reinforce the security in South America. The American government will increase the cooperation into this region to accomplish that?

Rumsfeld: You started out by saying that we want to enforce something, and then you said do we want to increase cooperation. They are very different things. And you vary in the same sentence which means I can't even begin to answer that question.

Q: But they want to enforce...

Rumsfeld: To reinforce?

Q: Yes, to reinforce the security in South America? Increase cooperation with the United States?

Rumsfeld: Let me say it the way I would say it. I'm here because it's a ministerial meeting, the fifth of the hemisphere, and we have relationships with almost all of the countries. The Department of Defense has relationships with almost all and the military-to-military relationship is a healthy one and a constructive one. I wanted to come down because I wanted to demonstrate the importance we attach to the hemisphere and the value we place on the relationship with Chile and with other countries in this part of the world. Every country will be talking about interests they have and I will be doing that also tomorrow about some things that are of interest to me. As will the other countries. I do think that given the fact that it's the 21st century that all of us, all of our countries need to think about what that means in terms of the evolving threats that exist in the world. It's less armies, navies and air forces and nations today and you can have threats from entities that are not nations at all and that don't have armies, navies or air forces, and the degree of cooperation that countries engage in strengthens all of us, so we do believe that it is helpful for all of us to talk and to have interoperability and effectiveness together and for each country to participate in ways that make sense for them. Does that answer your question?

Q: But the United States has a plan, a strategy to the region?

Rumsfeld: I didn't come down with any sort of a plan for a region. I came down to talk about our 21st century security environment, what it is, what it means for us, the lethality of those weapons of mass destruction, the numbers of people that get killed, the extent to which terrorist states and terrorist networks are interactive and the dangers that that poses for all of us, and then to discuss with countries what they feel about that and things they think that they can do individually or together, that would help reflect the fact that we are in a new security environment.

Q: And in this new security environment, the Inter-American Treaty of Reciprocal Assistance, is still useful?

Rumsfeld: Oh my goodness, yes. Sure. You know, today, the kinds of threats we face are global. They are not national as such, and therefore the ways to deal with them are global and the relationships between countries are enormously important.

Q: The United States has been forced to sustain Colombia against the guerrilla. Do you think that the other American countries like Chile, like Brazil, like Peru have to give more force to Colombia against the guerrilla war?

Rumsfeld: To their efforts to try to defeat the guerrillas?

Q: Yes.

Rumsfeld: You know, I'm one of those people who -- I don't go around telling other countries what they ought to do. I just don't. We are helping Colombia because we think Colombia is an important country. It's a democracy. It's a large country here in this continent. They have some serious difficulties that this president and this government are working seriously and thoughtfully to deal with, and the threats that they are faced with, the hostage taking, narco-trafficking, arms smuggling, are threats that are not unique to their country. Other countries have those kinds of problems. And that's why I admire what the president is trying to do there, and to develop more of a regional approach to some of those problems, because as I say they are not strictly national, they tend to, they don't respect borders.

Q: And you think is that group option to use force from the U.N. or another multilateral corps in Colombia?

Rumsfeld: There again, that is for Colombia to decide. Colombia has asked for our assistance. They have asked for assistance from other countries. European countries have promised assistance. Not all have delivered that assistance but they have offered some assistance. The president of Colombia recognizes the fact that his difficulties are regional in nature and therefore he is working with other countries but in my view it is up to every country to decide what it wants to do. I think it is hard for a single country to solve problems that are global or regional. And that therefore it is not surprising that other countries want to participate.

Q: Today, the first group of the U.N. inspectors arrived in Baghdad. Does the United States have agreed to with some skepticism, to the yes from Saddam to the UN resolution. Do you think that Saddam will not violate the UN resolution?

Rumsfeld: I don't know.

Q: But, do you think it's possible?

Rumsfeld: I won't tell. I mean, he has several choices. He went for years ignoring, laughing at 16 resolutions of the United Nations. The United Nations now has passed a new resolution and he has a choice. He can laugh at them again and hope he can get away with it, which he has for years. He can decide that it's all over and he had better either leave the country, or he that he ought to disarm and let the inspectors in and just hope he can hang on as head of Iraq. Which choice he will take, I think is not so much his decision, it is more how the international community behaves. But if the international community behaves in a way that suggests that they are reasonably willing to tolerate him doing it once again, and laughing at the United Nations, then he will. If the international community, and the United Nations and the individual nations in the world, demonstrate a seriousness of purpose which has not been the case previously, then he will be forced with only one of the two choices: either he leaves the country or he disarms. What he will do, I have no more idea than you do.

Q: The U.N. resolution says that if Saddam violates the resolution, he will confront serious consequences. All the members of the Security Council have the same interpretation of these serious consequences?

Rumsfeld: I doubt it. I don't know. I'm not into that business. That is the Department of State. I didn't talk to any of those countries so I don't know what they meant and of course anytime you fashion a resolution, there are compromises and people end up with calculated ambiguities so that each country can say "well, for me it meant this, for me it meant that" so I have no idea what any country -- if we had all fifteen countries in here and they each answered that question I don't know quite how they would answer it.

Q: And in your visit here in Chile you will search for some support for an attack from the United States against Iraq?

Rumsfeld: No. We already have a great deal of support. People, countries are coming in, the Department of State has been talking to various countries and there are a growing number of countries that have said that they want to be helpful in the event that it becomes necessary for a coalition of countries to use force in Iraq. It is a good number already. That is helpful because it shows Saddam Hussein that the international community has a seriousness of purpose about this, so that's a helpful thing. But I'm not in here to go around and solicit countries. That is being done through the Department of State and a coalition of nations is being fashioned.

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