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Deputy Secretary Wolfowitz Media Availability with MoD Australia

Presenter: Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz
June 01, 2002

(Media availability in Singapore following bilateral meeting with Senator Robert Hill, minister of defense of Australia.)

Wolfowitz: Since these are American reporters, why don't I let you go first, how's that?

(Laughter)

Hill: This has been a useful opportunity for Australians to gain and reinforce our intention to continue to contribute to the war against terror until we are all more confident that there is a much reduced chance of major terrorist events again occurring. We are concentrating our efforts in Afghanistan itself, on the ground, in the Gulf with some air support. We now have refuelers in Kyrgyzstan, refueling American and French air combat aircraft. And we intend to continue with that contribution. It may vary from time to time as we might jointly determine the right mix. Beyond that we intend to continue to contribute elsewhere in the world as might be appropriate, and with our resources and like everyone else at the moment, we are quite stretched. In particular, within this region we are seeking to work

(Pause, Minister's phone ringing. Laughter.)

Hill: I suspect it's the Australian press calling. (Laughter.)

Hill: We are seeking to work constructively in supporting governments we believe are going to seriously address these issues. In particular we have been working closely with the government of Indonesia and continue to do that. We're now exploring ways in which we can support them in some maritime surveillance works. We are increasing our intelligence exchange with Indonesia. We are talking to them about the possibility of assisting with some counter-terrorism training. That is just an example of what we are prepared to do around the region as we sort of extend our efforts beyond Afghanistan to ensure that the terrorist networks that have been established in recent years and have in fact to some extent fed off each other. I am not going to be able expound upon what's been established. So, in other words, winning in Afghanistan, we accept is not going to be the total picture. We need to look at the problem wherever it exists. We see we have a particular responsibility in this part of the world to make a positive contribution.

Wolfowitz: Let me just add to that. I would say that Australia is once again proven to be one of most reliable and militarily capable allies and it is great and we thank you for your ongoing contribution. We talked about Afghanistan, Indonesia, East Timor, the South Pacific. If we had more time, we probably could have covered quite a few other parts of the world because we have common interest in so many places. And it's a pleasure to have an ally who has same pragmatic view and knows how to make things move forward. That was our discussion. I think we have time for one question.

Q: Senator Hill, the United States is now establishing military to military exchange (inaudible) with Indonesia?

Hill: I am reluctant to say what America should do, but TNI [armed forces of Indonesia] is an institution that is critical to the internal stability of Indonesia in a way that the military is not within our societies. And I think it's got to be a critical part of a good future for Indonesia. And therefore in terms of wanting to support and assist the country as it goes through a very dramatic period of change including change in terms of the military and then to bring good influence to bear, it has to be useful. Thank you.