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Media Availability - Secretary Rumsfeld and Minister Scharping

Presenters: Secretary Rumsfeld and Minister Scharping
March 08, 2001

(Impromptu media availability on the steps of the Pentagon's River Entrance. Also participating was Minister of Defense Rudolf Scharping of Germany)

Rumsfeld: -- Federal Republic of Germany and the United States. The minister of defense here is anxious to hear your questions and respond in full, and I will applaud.

Q: Are there any worries about the German defense budget?

Scharping: Are there American worries?

Rumsfeld: The subject really didn't come up in our discussions.

Q: But would you have any worries? There is definitely concern about that in Germany.

Scharping: There has been much debate about the budget 2001 in Germany, and I assured the defense committee and the (inaudible) finance minister that we need no additional monies this year. That was a remark only for this year. Now they are trying to find out if I can get some American support for the defense budget debate in Germany.

Rumsfeld: Then my initial instinct was correct. (Laughter) I'll leave the internal domestic discussions among the Germans.

Q: Mr. Secretary, can we talk about NMD? Any changes of opinion since you have been in Munich between the German and the American (inaudible)?

Rumsfeld: We did not get into those nuances. We did talk about the subject and I can tell you where we are. We've been spending a good deal of time reviewing the various options in respect to missile defense and have begun to develop some political rethinking about the (inaudible) National Security Council and the president, and that stage is ahead of us again. At which point then, we would very likely have discussions with the congress, and at the point where we think we have some ideas that fit the President's goal. We then, of course, would consult closely with our allies in Germany and others.

Q: [in German]

Scharping: With respect to my colleague I will answer in English, and then in German.

First of all, the German government continuously said there is enough time for intensive conversations within NATO and with others. And we perceive the American attitude as very valuable that there will be close and intensive conversations. We understood that the American administration has not changed the wording of it, because the real differences we are talking about -- missile defense or about the national missile defense project which focused on the United States and territories.

Q: If the Germans want to participate from the American missiles system. They won't get it for free, so what do they expect from the German side regarding a ballistic missile system?

Rumsfeld: I think you're about eight steps ahead of where we are in our thinking.

People talk about theater missile defense and national missile defense. What's national depends on where you live. I don't really use the word national missile defense. I think (inaudible).

What we have is a world where the proliferation of these technologies, the weapons of mass destruction and the ability to deliver them is pervasive, and we know that. We know that these weapons are enormously powerful and can do great damage.

The United States and its friends and allies around the world as well as our deployed forces are all of interest to us. The kind of question you're properly probing for can only be answered at the point where we've completed the process I just described and then have an opportunity to talk to people about what kinds of things conceivably can be done over some period of time.

Q: What do you think that the Germans could offer?

Rumsfeld: That is impossible to answer that until you end up, as I say, complete the process we are engaged in which is an orderly one. And there will be plenty of time for those kinds of questions.

I'll leave the minister here. You can answer for yourself...

(Rumsfeld departs)

Q: Minister Scharping, [in German].

Scharping: [in German].