Thursday, June 14, 2001
(Joint media availability at the Pentagon with Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong of Singapore.)
Rumsfeld: Good morning. The prime minister and I have just had a very fine discussion about the entire region in Asia from the north to the south, and have discussed all of the countries and the importance of that region to the United States and the very fine role that Singapore plays as a friend of the United States, and they cooperate in so many different ways. We value that relationship, and we're very pleased that you're here in the United States.
Goh: Well, we have had a very good discussion. I made a basic point that the U.S. involvement in Asia has been good for Asia. Since the Second World War, the U.S. presence has given Asia the foundation for stability which of course allows the Asian countries to grow. And it is time that the U.S. enjoys the payoff of its contribution to peace and stability in Asia. So the question is, how can the U.S. enjoy this payoff? And one way is for the East Asian economies to remain open to U.S., so if they grow, we would be a huge export market for the U.S. and there would be opportunities for the U.S. to invest in Asia. And of course, that would require stability and peace and security in Asia. So we discussed on how U.S. can help to ensure that there will be continued growth and stability in Asia.
Rumsfeld: Be happy to respond to a few questions.
Q: On Vieques --
Rumsfeld: Ha! Vieques is not in Asia!
Q: When is the Navy going to halt training on Vieques? And why have you given up the long fight to continue training there?
Rumsfeld: That is a matter that the secretary of the Navy has been dealing with with Deputy Secretary Wolfowitz, and I think I'll leave that issue to them. We've got great confidence in them and the way they're handling it, and they're doing a fine job.
Q: Secretary Rumsfeld, were you a part of this decision to abandon Vieques or were you simply informed of it afterwards?
Rumsfeld: I have been in touch with Deputy Secretary Wolfowitz every day, several times a day on a whole host of subjects. So to suggest that anyone involved is not knowledgeable about it would be wrong.
Q: Well, what I'm asking is did you have input into this decision? Do you agree with it?
Rumsfeld: The decision has been handled, as I said, by Deputy Secretary Wolfowitz and by the secretary of the Navy, in whom I have great confidence, and I think they're handling it very, very well.
Q: Well, Mr. Secretary, we're asking your opinion as secretary of Defense. Can you share with us your specific thoughts on the decision made by these other individuals to leave Vieques? What --
Rumsfeld: I just said that I am in full agreement with the president of the United States, the deputy secretary of Defense and the secretary of the Navy. I don't know how anyone could be more explicit.
Q: Are you concerned that this is setting a precedent for other controversial military ranges, like in Okinawa, the base there?
(No response by the secretary.)
Q: Mr. Secretary, can you talk a bit about the level of importance, the kind of importance that the U.S. attaches to its relationship with Singapore?
Rumsfeld: Well, I can indeed. The relationship between the United States and Singapore is a long one, it is a multifaceted relationship; it's political, it's economic. They have also been very cooperative with respect to military aspects of the relationship and the availability of their resources to assist us in various ways.
And we value it. We recognize the important contribution that Singapore pays to peace and stability in the region. And we have great respect for them.
Q: Are you convinced of the need to stay involved in Southeast Asia, and will the U.S. do more?
Rumsfeld: Yes, indeed. The United States has substantial interests in Southeast Asia and in Northeast Asia. And certainly it has been involved, as the prime minister said, very deeply since World War II. We intend to continue that involvement and value the political and the economic relationships there.
Q: Mr. Secretary --
Q: Are you concerned this is setting a dangerous precedent, the Vieques situation is setting a dangerous precedent for other controversial military emplacements like in Okinawa?
Q: Mr. Minister? Mr. Minister, in a speech earlier this week you appeared to chide the United States for its strong stand on relations with China. Do you feel that Washington --
Goh: Yes, wait. (Laughs.) You are being interrupted (referring to an aircraft passing overhead). I can't hear you.
(Pause while aircraft passes overhead)
Q: You appeared in a speech earlier this week to caution, be cautioning the United States on its relations with China. Do you feel perhaps the Bush administration is being overly paranoid about China and is taking too hard a stance?
Goh: No, I think China is a very important relationship for the U.S. to have. And it is a defining relationship in Asia. And I am reassured by the president's statement that he wants to have good relations with China and that he supports the one China principle and there should be no independence for Taiwan. So I leave here feeling more reassured, because he says so publicly and he repeats his public message to me privately.
Rumsfeld: Thank you very much.
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