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Joint Media Availability with Secretary Rumsfeld and President Trajkovski

Presenter: Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld
May 02, 2001 11:15 AM EDT

Wednesday, May 02, 2001 - 11:15 a.m. EDT

(Media availability at the River Entrance of the Pentagon with President Boris Trajkovski of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia)

Rumsfeld: We have just, as you've seen, welcomed the president to the Pentagon and to Washington, and had a very good discussion about the situation in Macedonia and our relationship between the two countries. As you know, the president has met with Secretary Powell. And General Shelton has just this week been in Macedonia. So we've had continuing contacts over the recent period.

Mr. President?

Trajkovski: Thank you very much, Secretary. That was a very good and positive discussion. We discussed the current situation in Macedonia and in the region. Especially I want to extend my appreciation for the invitation to visit Washington these days. And we discussed with the secretary about the current state of affairs and the job what KFOR is doing in Macedonia and in the region. We are very pleased with the NATO cooperation, and also we are very pleased with the assistance what the U.S. is giving to Macedonia during the last days.

Especially I shared information with the secretary about our military, how we are working to improve our capabilities, and also I shared our needs for improving our capabilities or updating our equipment toward the NATO standards.

Also, it was a good opportunity to explain to the secretary about last events when took place in Macedonia during the military operation, that Macedonia succeed to do its utmost restraint for the military operations and in a very professional manner to driven out the terrorists from its territory.

Especially I reiterate the support of PFP, and I also reiterate our strong commitment for NATO membership. And also it's very important that Macedonia is playing very important role in the region, especially Macedonia is committed for strengthening and the stability of security in the region. That was good opportunity to inform secretary about the ongoing political process in the country. Also, we are very committed to continue with our cooperation on the base of the partnership to strengthen the stability, security in the region, also to build Macedonia as a democratic, economic and prosperity country, and on the base of NATO values, which we share together.

Q: Mr. President, did you urge the secretary to keep U.S. troops in KFOR for the foreseeable future, and emphasize the importance of that?

Trajkovski: I would like to reiterate what I said yesterday to the Secretary Powell: stabilizing U.S. influence on the base of some military contingents still has to remain, and it's indispensable for the further development of the situation in the region.

Q: You mean the presence of U.S. troops?

Trajkovski: I mean for the U.S. presence, yes.

Q: Mr. Secretary, yesterday President Bush talked about near-term -- (off mike) -- of missile defense, which he calls -- (off mike). Can you give us some idea about what possible elements of missile defense could be deployed sooner rather than later?

Rumsfeld: Well, I'll just very briefly say that there are several -- somewhat more than several things that had not been fully explored and that we will be discussing in our consultations on Capitol Hill, and with our allies, and with Russia and with China over the weeks ahead. The Ballistic Missile Office has developed these options and they are being examined and looked at, and they'll be discussed during the consultations. But I think I'll leave it to the consultation process rather than starting to list them at this time.

Q: Secretary Rumsfeld -- (off mike) -- is space-based really one of the options that you're going to be looking at?

Rumsfeld: I think his remarks properly reflected the fact that the goal during this period is to explore a variety of ways that missile defense can conceivably evolve without prejudging exactly which ones will be the most fruitful. And there's no question but that the use of land and sea and air and space are all things that need to be considered, if one is looking at the best way to provide the kind of security from ballistic missiles that is desirable for the United States and for our friends and allies.

Q: Will this require more research money? And if so, how much?

Rumsfeld: Well, the president will be announcing his budget -- the '01 supplemental and the '02 budget amendment and the '03 budget in the normal order of things, and it'll be reflected in those elements of the budget.

Q: Mr. Secretary -- (off mike) -- continue with the existing program? Can you, for example, have an intercept test somewhere -- (off mike)?

Rumsfeld: I would assume that the tests would go forward, yes.

Q: (Off mike.)

Secretary Rumsfeld: No, I don't.

Are there any questions for the president here? Here's one.

Q: (Off mike.)

President Trajkovski: (To interpreter.) Will you translate?

Interpreter: (Off mike) -- could you talk about the -- (off mike) -- cooperation -- (off mike)?

President Trajkovski: Yes, there is a continuing cooperation on a bilateral base, and yes, we discussed for the needs of -- to be taken in account after the current situation took place in -- yes.

Q: Secretary Rumsfeld?

Rumsfeld: Yes?

Q: On the Navy plane on Hainan Island, is there still an option of just flying that plane off, or has China ruled that out?

Rumsfeld: We have an assessment team on the ground at the present time. We've received some reports back, but there's nothing conclusive on that point.

Q: Is it still an option, or has China ruled that out -- allowing you to fly it out?

Rumsfeld: There is nothing conclusive on that point.

Q: Mr. Secretary, do you have any comment on the reversal on the decision to provide black berets -- (off mike) -- manufactured in China -- (off mike) --

Rumsfeld: I think the chief of staff of the Army and the deputy secretary of Defense have both commented on that, and I agree fully with what they've said.

Q: Is that a -- (off mike) -- buy American -- (off mike)?

Rumsfeld: Oh, I think you'd have to ask the chief of staff of the Army, who made the decision.

Staff: One more, please, ladies and gentlemen.

Q: Mr. President, do you have -- (off mike) -- proposal to create a "Star Wars" missile defense system?

Trajkovski: No, I haven't.

Q: Thank you.

Rumsfeld: Thank you very much.

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