Press Availability with Secretary Rumsfeld and French Minister of Defense Michele Alliot-Marie from the Pentagon
SEC. RUMSFELD: Hello, folks.
Q Mr. Secretary --
SEC. RUMSFELD: Just a moment, please.
This is the minister of Defense of France. And we've just had a meeting upstairs. She was kind enough to come over and attend an important commemoration of Yorktown and has been there, and is now in Washington and having some meetings here, I believe, with Steve Hadley and others. And we're very pleased to have her here.
Would you like to make a statement?
(NOTE: The minister's remarks are through interpreter.)
MIN. ALLIOT-MARIE: It is a great pleasure for me to have the occasion to talk again with Don Rumsfeld after the celebrations at Yorktown this morning. And this meeting gave us the opportunity once again, after meeting in Slovenia with my colleague, Rumsfeld, to review all the theaters of operations where our soldiers are deployed side by side to fight for peace and stabilization.
SEC. RUMSFELD: Thank you.
SEC. RUMSFELD: Wait, wait, wait, wait, wait, wait!~ We're going to have a nice orderly, brief few questions. She has a meeting. I am hosting the Korean minister of Defense; it started at 5:00 and I'm late. And we'll take a couple of questions from the French side and a couple of questions from the U.S. side.
Are you from French press?
Q Yes. France pulled out of Iraq a few years ago. Do you think things have evolved from there?
SEC. RUMSFELD: Who's someone from France who has a good question? (Laughs; laughter.)
Q Things have changed --
Q Mr. Secretary, what do you think of the president's comparison or likening the situation with Iraq right now to the Vietnam War at the time of the Tet offensive? He made that comparison. Do you agree with that?
SEC. RUMSFELD: I have not seen that statement, and I'd prefer not to comment on something I've not seen.
Q But what about the comparison itself?
SEC. RUMSFELD: I'd want to see -- I'd --
Q Is this a turning point for Iraq?
SEC. RUMSFELD: I'd want to see the statement. I'm sorry.
Q Mr. Secretary, on Operation Together Forward, you believe that reassessment is required there and it has not met expectations? And can you just tell us a little bit about what changes do you think you're looking at in terms reassessing the security operations there?
SEC. RUMSFELD: The generals on the ground, General Chiarelli and General Casey, are continuously adjusting their tactics and techniques and procedures.
The enemy has a brain, the enemy watch what's happened, and they make adjustments, as do our people. And I'm told that General Caldwell made a comment today about the situation in Baghdad and indicated that the level of violence has been up. And obviously, when that's the case, General Casey and General Chiarelli will be reviewing their circumstance and then discussing it with General Pace and the chiefs and eventually with me.
Q Do you --
Q Has it not met your expectations there?
Q Do you think Minister Alliot-Marie would be a good president for France? (Laughter.)
MIN. ALLIOT-MARIE: (Chuckles.)
SEC. RUMSFELD: What did she say?
What did you say?
Q Do you think Minister Alliot-Marie would be a good president for France?
MIN. ALLIOT-MARIE: (Chuckles.)
SEC. RUMSFELD: Listen, the president does not let me get involved in politics in the United States, let alone in any other country. I can say that I've -- I enjoy working with her as minister of Defense, but I'm going to duck that question head-on. (Soft laughter.)
STAFF: We'll take maybe one more question, folks.
SEC. RUMSFELD: Jim Mannion.
Q (Off mike) -- from Afghanistan -- (off mike).
MIN. ALLIOT-MARIE: In Afghanistan, there's a new organization about to start with deploying ISAF all over Afghanistan. It's absolutely logical that we talk with our partners about the consequences of this new organization on our presence. And this is what I did with Donald Rumsfeld right now and this is what I'm going to do with all the other representatives of countries having troops deployed in Afghanistan.
Q (Through interpreter.)
MIN. ALLIOT-MARIE: That's what I was saying. We have to look at that and about the participation of the French forces over there. And let me just remind that we've been there, and the special forces have been there since 2001, that we have been extremely involved in those missions, and that we have paid -- and they have paid, actually, these special forces, a rather heavy burden. So basically what I'm saying is we are looking at it and decisions will be made later.
SEC. RUMSFELD: Thank you, folks. Good to see you all.
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