(Note: Minister of Defense Mediu's remarks are through interpreter.)
MIN. MEDIU : Mr. Secretary, allow me to thank you very much for your presence here today. I'm honored and pleased that the Minister of Defense, today -- (off mike). (Off mike.) (Inaudible) --That especially are honored to (Inaudible) the people of Albanian forces and -- (off mike) -- everybody, especially the families for the soldiers here who are fighting in Iraq on the side of your troops.
When the threat began -- (off mike).
I don't want to take long because they only (off mike) good enough to meet, but let me declare here Mr. Secretary that the Albanian armed forces will stand alongside of the American armed forces in Iraq (Off mike). We want to be a real partner for the American armed forces. Thanks again for being in Albania. (Off mike.)
SEC. RUMSFELD: Mr. Minister, thank you so very much for those kind words. I am delighted to be back in Albania to meet with the minister and the other senior officials of the government later this afternoon.
We value our relationship and partnership with Albania, and we are certainly deeply grateful to the troops who serve in Iraq and help to defend freedom.
I should say that there's always the question, why should young men and young women go serve many, many miles away in a foreign country? I've been asked that question in many countries. And if you think about it, in Afghanistan, there are some 42 nations in the coalition, and in Iraq, there are I believe 34 countries, and they've all sent their finest to help in the war against terrorism.
I can remember being in the Republic of Korea not too long ago, and I was asked by a young journalist who clearly was too young to remember the Korean War, she said, "Why should our young people go all the way across the world into Iraq and Afghanistan and risk their lives on behalf of Korea?" I pointed out to her that unless many young men and women 50 years ago had been willing to go all the way across the world to Korea and help defend freedom there, that she would not be free today.
So what you're doing is historic. I believe you will look back on it five, 10, 15, 20 years from now and see the contribution you have made and the contribution your country has made and take great pride in what you've done.
Now to the families. And these lovely young ladies and young men in the first row. Greetings. I hope someone's getting a photograph of them.
Families also sacrifice. And I know that the minister knows it. I know it. The people in government know it. And you are appreciated for the sacrifice you make.
So as I conclude and go over and shake hands and look in the eyes of these young men and thank each of them, know that I'm thanking you -- thanking you as well.
Thank you so much.
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