Romania 'Steadfast' Ally In Anti-Terror War, Rumsfeld Says
By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service
POIANA BRASOV, Romania, Oct. 13, 2004 Arriving today at this Transylvanian resort town to participate in NATO talks over the next two days, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld already knew America could count on Romania as a reliable ally.
Romania is a "stalwart" U.S. partner in the war against global terrorism, Rumsfeld told reporters earlier in the day in Bucharest after he'd participated in a review of Romanian troops and met with President Ion Iliescu and Defense Minister Mircea Pascu at the presidential palace.
Romania has deployed military forces to both Afghanistan and Iraq. The eastern European country now has about 700 troops in Iraq.
Iliescu noted via interpreter to reporters during a press session at the palace that the United States has been "a long-term friend of Romania." And the Romanian people, Iliescu said, were "deeply touched" by the suffering inflicted on Americans as a result of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
The Romanian president noted that his country had been a firm supporter of the anti-terrorism coalition led by the United States even before Romania became a NATO member last year. Iliescu thanked Rumsfeld for endorsing Romania's admission into NATO and hailed the secretary's vision of transforming the alliance's military force into a more integrated, responsive and efficient organization.
Today, Romania and the United States, Iliescu noted, have decided to further develop their relationship on political, diplomatic, economic, military, and cultural levels.
Rumsfeld, who noted that he'd last visited Romania in 1971, thanked Iliescu for Romania's "generous and reliable and stalwart support in all aspects of the global war on terror."
The secretary also observed that Romanians have done an "impressive" job building "a vibrant, democratic society" and a robust economy since Cold War days.
After the news conference, Rumsfeld traveled to the Military Club in Bucharest where he met with Romanian veterans of Afghanistan and Iraq.
During another news conference held at the Military Club, the Romanian defense minister noted that Romania's armed forces learned a lot about military power projection after his country sent a battalion of its troops to Afghanistan in the summer of 2002. Romania's chances of joining NATO, Pascu observed, were enhanced as a result of that successful deployment.
Rumsfeld lauded Pascu's demonstrated "strong leadership" and "boundless energy" in directing cooperative efforts between the Romanian and United States' militaries.
"It is good to be among freedom's defenders," Rumsfeld said in acknowledgement to the gathered Romanian veterans of Afghanistan and Iraq. Those troops, he said, "represent the civilized world's determination to stop the new tyranny of terrorism."
Fighting terrorism, the secretary pointed out, "is a new mission, it's a new kind of war, and the future of freedom everywhere rests on the outcome."
Failure to defeat global terrorism is not an option, Rumsfeld asserted. "We simply can not fail, and we will not," he said.