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Press Availability with Secretary Rumsfeld and Minister Nelson following the Bilateral Meeting at Singapore

Presenters: Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld and Australian Minister for Defence Hon. Dr. Brendan Nelson
June 03, 2006

           SECRETARY RUMSFELD:  Hello folks.


            NELSON:  Good morning.  Thank you, Secretary.  Well, this morning we’ve had a very productive and constructive meeting, Secretary Rumsfeld and I, the United States and Australia.  We’ve discussed a range of issues: global terrorism, mutual interests, commitment to a democratic and free Iraq, the struggles against the Taliban in Afghanistan, and of course, I’ve briefed the Secretary on our recent deployment to East Timor and a number of issues in our immediate region in Australia.


            SECRETARY RUMSFELD:  Our two countries do a great deal together and we’ve worked together in Afghanistan and in Iraq and other places around the globe.  As a matter of fact, the United States has even provided some assistance with respect to East Timor, and it’s a relationship that we value greatly.  We’d be happy to respond to a couple of questions.


            REPORTER:  Mr. Secretary, on East Timor, do you see America doing more for Australia and in the event that East Timor... [unintelligible] America having played a greater role in East Timor?


            SECRETARY RUMSFELD:  Not that I’ve heard of.  We clearly are in a supporting position.  The government of Australia is taking the lead and doing a very good job.  And they’ve managed to encourage some other countries to participate, which is a good thing.  They’ve asked us for a relatively modest amount of assistance, which we’ve been happy to provide, and needless to say we’d be willing to consider anything that they might propose to us.  But at the moment we’re doing that which they feel is appropriate.


            NELSON:  Yes, well as the Secretary says, the offer was made to us by the United States Pacific Command.  We were very grateful to take up the offer of the C-17 Heavy Airlift.  And of course, very shortly, Australia will have its own C-17’s.  I think we do appreciate the offer from the Secretary but at this stage, from Australia’s point of view, we know we have responsibilities in our own region, that the United States is working across the globe in a number of theaters to see that freedom and democracy prevails in a number of areas of the world.  One of our priorities is to work with the East Timorese government to see where it’s appropriate that we broaden the coalition of countries in our own region that’s involved in security and peace in Timor Leste.  We appreciate the support of the United States in this regard, but we think that the level of assistance at the moment is appreciated and appropriate.


            REPORTER:  Mr. Secretary in your speech this morning you mentioned the lack of transparency of Chinese military expenses, but your tone seemed less strong than last year.


            SECRETARY RUMSFELD:  Did it really?


            REPORTER:  The United States needs the help of China in terms of resolving the Iranian nuclear issue.


            SECRETARY RUMSFELD:  No, first of all, I didn’t notice any tone change, myself.  Maybe you have more sensitive antennae than I do, but my comments struck me -- last year’s report and this year’s report both mention transparency, as I mentioned it in my remarks last year and I mentioned it in my remarks this year, and then there was a question -- but no, I don’t notice any difference.


            REPORTER:  Mr. Secretary, you said that you mentioned you discussed Iraq in your bilateral meeting just now.  How could the Haditha incident undermine support for the war in Iraq, both in Iraq itself and in the U.S. at home?


            SECRETARY RUMSFELD:  Oh, I’ve responded to that question repeatedly and there’s an investigation under way and we’ll see what the investigation produces.


            REPORTER:  [unintelligible]


            SECRETARY RUMSFELD:  Indonesia is a big country.  It’s an important country.  It is a country that we believe that it’s important for the United States to have relationships with, multi-faceted relationships -- political, economic, and military.  The reality is that countries evolve in different ways, and if -- every time a country does not do something exactly the way another country does it -- your conclusion is that you should sever relationships, you’d have very few relationships in the world.  And I think it was unfortunate, myself, that the United States discontinued military-to-military relationships with Indonesia, just as I think it was unfortunate we discontinued our military relationships with Pakistan.  I understand the logic of it, but it seems to me that the U.S. military respects civilian control.  The U.S. military has activities around the world and is generally a positive influence in terms of other militaries, and so we’ve lost a generation of relationships between the United States and Indonesia.  Can you guarantee something?  No, you can’t guarantee something.  On the other hand, I think that having relationships with the United States and other countries -- democratic countries -- very likely has a salutary effect on the militaries of other nations rather than an adverse one.


            REPORTER:  Well, have they done enough for reform?


            SECRETARY RUMSFELD:  Well, I’m not the judge, first of all.  I don’t live there.  They’re a sovereign country.  They’re going to make their own decisions.  They’re a democratic system, and they obviously are evolving in a way that is satisfactory to them.  Have they done enough?  How much is enough?  I’ve never been one of those people who believe that every country in the world has to look exactly like the United States.  People do things differently in different parts of the world, so time will tell.


            REPORTER:  [unintelligible]


            NELSON:  We’ve got no intention of withdrawing troops at the moment.  We’ll obviously work with the East Timorese government in terms of the number of troops required to bring peace and security to Dili.  If I could also add a comment in relation to Indonesia, from the Australian point of view, the reform of the Indonesian defense forces is progressing.  We recently trained with TNI Kopassus Unit 81.  Whether we’re the Americans, Australians, Indonesians, or from any other part of the world, we face a common enemy.  It’s terrorism.  And for that reason amongst others, we’re working increasingly with the Indonesian military.


            SECRETARY RUMSFELD:  We’re due at a luncheon in one minute.  Thank you very much.  Nice to see you all.


            NELSON:  Thank you.

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