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U.S., French Defense Chiefs Meet at Pentagon

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Oct. 19, 2006 – Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld met with his French counterpart today and discussed NATO, Afghanistan and other areas where American and French soldiers serve side by side.

Click photo for screen-resolution image
Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld escorts French Defense Minister Michelle Alliot-Marie through a cordon of honor guards and into the Pentagon , Oct. 19. The two defense leaders met to discuss a range of international issues of mutual interest, particularly the situation in Afghanistan where NATO forces, including the French, have recently taken over the security mission. Photo by R. D. Ward

(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.

Rumsfeld and Defense Minister Michelle Alliot-Marie met for about an hour in the secretary’s Pentagon office. The two had last met at the NATO Summit in Slovenia last month.

Alliot-Marie came to the United States to participate in the commemoration of the Franco-American victory at Yorktown in 1781. That victory over the British secured American independence.

“This meeting gave us the opportunity … to review all the theaters of operations where our soldiers are serving side by side and fight for stabilization,” Alliot-Marie said through a translator.

Rumsfeld said violence in Iraq is up, and it is only natural for coalition and Iraqi officials in the country to adjust their tactics, techniques and procedures. “The enemy has a brain,” he said. “The enemy watches what happens and makes adjustments, as do our people.”

Rumsfeld said whatever decisions are made by Army Gen. George W. Casey Jr., the commander of Multination Force Iraq, and Army Lt. Gen. Peter Chiarelli, commander of Multinational Corps Iraq, the generalswill discuss the way ahead with him and with Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Marine Gen. Peter Pace.

Alliot-Marie dodged a question about withdrawing French special operations forces from Afghanistan. She said that with the new NATO organization in Afghanistan, the French are consulting with partners about the “consequences of the new organization on our presence” in the country.

She said French special forces have been in Afghanistan since 2001. “They have been extremely involved in those missions, and they have paid a rather heavy price,” she said. “We are looking at it and decisions will be made later.”

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