Rumsfeld Praises Coalition Efforts Against Terror
By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Dec. 3, 2001 Once the Taliban and Al Qaeda network in Afghanistan are dealt with, the United States has only a humanitarian interest in the country, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said to Pakistani reporters.
Rumsfeld praised Pakistani Chief Executive Gen. Pervez Musharraf for making a courageous decision to support the coalition against terrorism.
"With the power of weapons today and the dangers that those weapons pose, the problem of global terrorism becomes more acute and dangerous," he said during an interview in his office. "I think that Pakistan and the leadership there (have) made a significant contribution in their vocal and public position they've taken as a member of the coalition."
He said the United States is acting in self-defense in Afghanistan. He reminded the Pakistani reporters that thousands of Americans died in the attacks of Sept. 11. "Our interest is in working with other countries to stop terrorists from killing people," he said.
He said the United States has no territorial aims in the region. "Our only interest in Afghanistan is to deal with Al Qaeda and to deal with the leadership in Afghanistan so there is a stable, broadly based government," he said. "Then it's up to the Afghan people. It is not up to us to decide."
Rumsfeld said the worldwide coalition against terrorism is making headway. He told the Pakistanis that the offensives on the financial, diplomatic, law enforcement and military fronts are paying off, but that the process will take time.
While he is pleased with the progress, "you always want it to be better and more effective and faster than it is, but on the other hand I feel we're making good progress thanks to the cooperation of so many countries."
Rumsfeld said the cooperation has limited the choices open to Taliban and Al Qaeda leaders. No country now recognizes the Taliban as the leaders of Afghanistan. Countries worldwide are freezing Al Qaeda bank accounts. Police in many countries, including the United States, are pursuing Al Qaeda cells.
"The places the terrorists can go have been reduced," Rumsfeld said. "Many countries are trying to block their borders, many countries are being careful about who comes into their countries from Afghanistan. All of which, I think, is to the good. It brings us closer to our goal. But until we reach our goal of actually capturing the senior Al Qaeda leadership and tearing up these terrorist cells around the world, it still remains ahead of us."