June 7, 2006 – Rumsfeld in Singapore, Vietnam, Indonesia
Following are highlights of Secretary Rumsfeld’s trip this past week to Singapore, Vietnam and Indonesia, where he met with officials and discussed various issues.
In Singapore the secretary spoke at the fifth annual International Institute for Security Studies’ Asia Security Summit, a conference of Asian and Pacific defense ministers.
The secretary addressed representatives from more than 20 nations at the conference, known as the Shangri-La Dialogue.
The forum provided an opportunity for countries with like interests to meet and discuss transnational issues, and served as a reminder of how much the countries have developed both politically and economically plus moved forward in reconciliation after conflicts of the past century.
It will take transnational cooperation to solve global problems such as terrorism, weapons proliferation, narcotics and piracy.
The United States and Vietnam have a developing military-to-military relationship. Ties should improve gradually at a rate that is comfortable for both countries.
The improved relationship was valuable for relief operations after the December 2004 tsunami; Vietnam gave the United States aircraft blanket overflight rights, cutting the time to send relief supplies to many areas.
In addition to the developing military relationship, the secretary and Vietnamese leaders also discussed de-mining efforts and efforts of the U.S. military to share research into health affects of agent orange.
Another topic was the status of recovery efforts of remains of U.S. servicemembers still missing in action from the Vietnam war, including the possibility of using U.S. technology to explore underwater sites that may contain American remains or clues to the whereabouts of such servicemembers’ remains. U.S. leaders believe Vietnam has been cooperative with U.S. efforts to achieve full accounting of American servicemembers.
Since the normalization of relations between the U.S. and Vietnam 11 years ago, the two countries have made steady progress in cooperation. Four U.S. Navy ships have made port calls in Vietnam over the past four years. U.S. and Vietnamese officials on March 31 signed a trade agreement that ends remaining trade barriers between the two countries.
Full military-to-military ties between the United States and Indonesia were re-established in November, 10 years after a split over human rights issues.
As the country with the world’s largest Muslim population and a successful democracy, Indonesia is an important moderate voice in the war against terrorism.
There are three immediate goals for rebuilding the military-to-military relationship with Indonesia: working on interoperability, building their capacity for humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, and improving maritime security.
Close military ties are good for both countries in terms of ease of cooperation during a crisis, such as the tsunami and recent earthquake relief efforts.
Secretary Rumsfeld offered his condolences to the families of the nearly 6,000 people killed in the May 27 earthquake.
One hundred sixty-five U.S. servicemembers, most from a Marine surgical company, are deployed to the island of Java to aid earthquake victims. More than 400 military aircrew members have complete more than 40 missions to bring relief supplies.