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World Must Unite Against Iraq, Australian PM Howard Says

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Feb. 10, 2003 – Australian Prime Minister John Howard said today that if there is "a faint hope" of the Iraq problem being solved peacefully, the entire world must continue to put pressure on Saddam Hussein.

Howard spoke at the Pentagon following a meeting with Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld. He said he would appreciate another U.N. Security Council resolution on Iraq.

"The value of another resolution - and the stronger, the better - will be the additional diplomatic heat it puts on Iraq," Howard said. "If there is a faint hope of this thing being solved without military force, that faint hope is to be found in the whole world saying the same thing and saying it very loudly to Iraq and, most particularly, the Arab states, saying, 'Mate, the game is up.'"

Rumsfeld took exception to the characterization by pundits and the press that the United States would act alone. "I keep reading the word 'unilateral,' which I find kind of strange," he said. "The United States has already heard from a large number of countries that would participate in a coalition of the willing."

The secretary said the United States hopes that force can be avoided. The United States, along with other countries, hopes force will not have to be used and that there will be a better way to solve it. But the threat of force against Iraq is the only reason inspectors were allowed back into Iraq in November, he said.

"Absent that flow of forces, absent that indication that the international community is determined to see that country disarmed, (Iraq) would not be cooperating any better than they were a year ago," Rumsfeld observed.

Howard said Australia sees Iraq as a grave danger to world peace. "We face the threat around the world of weapons of mass destruction in the hands of rogue states and the frightening possibility that those same weapons could fall into the hands of international terrorists," he said. "That's the motivation for what Australia has been doing in partnership with the United States concerning Iraq."

Australia has "predeployed" special operation troops, some aircraft and ships to the region, Howard said. "Australia does not believe that all of the heavy lifting on something like this should be done by the United States and United Kingdom alone," he said. "You send a new and sharper signal when you predeploy and that's what we've done."

Rumsfeld thanked the Australian prime minister for his country's support in the global war on terror. "It's going to be a long effort, and it's going to take the steadfastness and purposefulness of people like you and countries like yours," he said. "We are most grateful."

Howard said Australia remains dedicated to working with the United States against terrorism. Hundreds of Australians died in an al Qaeda bombing of a club on the Indonesian island of Bali. "Any Western country and its people are targets of terrorist attacks," he said. "Nobody is immune to the threat of terrorism in the modern world.

"Anybody who imagines you're going to reduce terrorism by turning your back on problems such as Iraq, my view is you're going to increase the likelihood of terrorism, you increase the potential damage that further terrorist attacks will do."

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DoD News Transcript: Secretary Rumsfeld Media Availability with the Prime Minister of Australia, Feb. 10, 2003

Click photo for screen-resolution imageDefense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld (left) and Australian Prime Minister John Howard meet the Pentagon press corps following their meeting Feb. 10, 2003. Photo by Jim Garamone.  
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