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Rumsfeld: The World Has Pulled Together

By Sgt. 1st Class Kathleen T. Rhem, USA
American Forces Press Service

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia, Oct. 3, 2001 – Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said he's "been struck" by the support and assistance countries around the world offered immediately after the Sept. 11th terrorist attacks in the United States.

Rumsfeld is in Saudi Arabia on the first leg of a three-day trip that will also include stops in Egypt, Oman and Uzbekistan. The trip is to "strengthen relationships" in the region, the secretary had said earlier.

"In a tragic event sometimes come effects that weren't anticipated before they occurred," he told reporters traveling with him. "There has been a very definite pulling together in the world of countries that have a sense of purpose about this problem and an awareness about the importance of dealing with (terrorism)."

The secretary downplayed reports that Saudi Arabia has failed to cut off financial support to terrorist organizations and have said they don't want offensive strikes on Afghanistan launched from bases within Saudi Arabia.

After meeting with Saudi King Fahd bi Abdulaziz Al-Saud and other senior officials, Rumsfeld said President Bush is very sensitive to regional political sensitivities that the Saudi royal family must take into account as protectors of Islam's holiest sites.

"We had a very substantive and thoughtful and interesting discussion about the nature of the problem and the complexities of the problem and the importance of dealing with it in a way that recognizes secondary effects that could occur," Rumsfeld said.

He stressed that with countries with as strong and long- standing a relationship as Saudi Arabia and the United States, "those kinds of things get worked out."

Rumsfeld also said he gave the Saudi leadership some insight into what to expect in coming weeks. He wouldn't go into specifics but hinted that military action would be forthcoming.

"We are in the process of attempting to set the conditions of a sustained effort," Rumsfeld said. "I don't think there's any doubt in anyone's mind but that at some point (military operations) will be a part of this process."

Rumsfeld planned to meet with Prince Sultan Bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud, the Saudi defense minister, late into the night before heading to Egypt Oct. 4.

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