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Secretary Rumsfeld And Polish Minister Siwiec Press Conference

Presenter: Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld
September 23, 2002

Monday, Sept. 23, 2002

(Press conference with Polish National Security Minister Marek Siwiec at the Presidential Palace, Warsaw.)

Siwiec: Good morning, ladies and gentlemen. The meeting between President Kwasniewski and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld has come to an end. The issues connected with the upcoming meeting of the Defense Ministers of NATO in Warsaw were raised. We also talked about the content and the expectations connected with the upcoming NATO Summit meeting in Prague. President Kwasniewski presented his evaluation of the cooperation between NATO and Russia and also the expectations connected with NATO-Ukraine cooperation. The last thing which was raised by President Kwasniewski was the present status of the anti-terrorist fight and the activities which are going to be undertaken by the allies.

Rumsfeld: Thank you. The American delegation arrived last evening. We look forward to the NATO Ministerial meetings, and I was very pleased this morning to have the opportunity to meet with the Minister of Defense of Poland, the Prime Minister and - in the past hour - with the President. We had met previously during their visits to the United States, and so I was pleased to renew that acquaintance. We had good discussions in the Ministry of Defense about our military-to-military partnership and our relationship, which is a strong one, a healthy one and one that is evolving very favorably. With the President we talked a good deal about our partnership in the global war on terrorism, our appreciation for Poland's significant contributions. We discussed the speech that the President made in the United Nations with respect to Iraq and the work that is taking place in the United Nations at the present time. And with that, we'd be happy to take a question or two.

Q: Mister Secretary, did you discuss [in today's meetings President Bush's] speech? Was there any talk about the imperative of quickly eliminating Iraq's weapons of mass destruction. And Mister Siwiec, would Poland politically and militarily support any unilateral U.S. attack on Iraq?

Rumsfeld: We certainly did discuss the subject of Iraq and the problem it poses for the United Nations. And the efforts that the United States and other friendly nations are making in the United Nations to find the appropriate way to have the United Nations resolutions enforced with respect to disarmament of Iraq's weapons of mass destruction. Now, I'd like to help Charlie with his second question, which wasn't even posed to me. Contained in that question was the implication that the United States a) had made a decision to do something in Iraq and to do it unilaterally. And, as we all know, the President has not made such a decision, and although he did say time is not on our side and the one choice we do not have is to do nothing, I should point out that there are a number of nations that are very much in support of the President's speech as he has placed it before the world community. I think trying to promote and perpetuate the concept of unilateralism is not on the mark. Now, that's with all respect for the question.

Siwiec: I want to respond that Poland shares and understands the position presented by the United States. Today in the United Nations Organization, which is a peaceful place, the debate is going on about that. All I can say is that we are a very steadfast ally. Please, other questions.

Q Mister Secretary, will you meet in Warsaw with your counterpart from Germany? And will you please comment on the outcome of the elections.

Siwiec: Next question please.

Rumsfeld: I have no plans to have a meeting with anyone other than I'm scheduled with, and I'm not scheduled with the German counterpart. I have no comment on the German elections' outcome, but I would have to say that the way it was conducted was notably unhelpful and, as the White House indicated, has had the effect of poisoning the relationship.

Siwiec: The last question from PAP [Polish Press Agency].

Q: Minister, you were saying that you talked about the upcoming NATO Summit meeting in Prague. My question is whether, after the success of Meciar in the Slovak elections, will Slovakia be invited to join NATO?

Rumsfeld: That's a decision that the NATO enlargement discussion will decide some time between now and the Prague Summit.

Siwiec: Thank you very much.

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