Press Conference with Secretary Rumsfeld and Mongolia's Minister of Defense
MOD: Ladies and gentlemen, today we welcome the Honorable Donald Rumsfeld, the Secretary of Defense of the United States of America. The official visit is of utmost significance in elaborating on bilateral relations between Mongolia and the United States in an era of declared comprehensive partnership.
Mongolia and the United States of America established official military diplomatic relations in 1991 to provide the legal framework for this cooperation. In 1996 the two governments signed the Intergovernmental Agreement on Military Exchange and Visits.
Bilateral defense and defense relations between our two countries are based upon the framework of our political relations and have been successful in developing, including such areas as training of Mongolian military personnel and heightening the level of capabilities of Mongolian armed forces, participation in regional and global peacekeeping operations, enhancing Mongolia's participation in security and military multilateral cooperation within the Asia Pacific, consultative meetings between the defense establishment of two countries, training of Mongolian armed forces personnel in the United States of America, holding joint military exercises and training, training and seminars, participation in international peacekeeping operations, humanitarian aspects and so on.
We have just concluded successfully bilateral talks. The two sides have expressed satisfaction of the achieved level of defense-to-defense relations of our two countries and expressed our further desire to enhance the achieved level of partnership.
From the very beginning Mongolia has been consistently supportive of the U.S. efforts in fighting against global terrorism, and according to such policies Mongolia sent a troop contingency to the post war reconstruction and humanitarian efforts in Iraq as well as training teams to the National Army of Afghanistan.
Within the framework of this visit the Honorable Donald Rumsfeld, Secretary of Defense of the United States of America, will pay a courtesy call to the Prime Minister and President of Mongolia and will exchange views on the issues of Mongolian/American relations including the partnership cooperation within security and defense fields.
Now I'd like the Honorable Donald Rumsfeld, the Secretary of Defense.
SECRETARY RUMSFELD: Mr. Minister, thank you very much for your hospitality. We had the opportunity to visit during the Shangrila Conference in Singapore very recently so I'm very pleased to be able to see you here in Mongolia.
The Minister has covered very well the relationships between our countries, both nations with free political systems and free economic systems, a growing military to military relationship that was well described by the Minister.
I would like to point out not only will I be visiting the Prime Minister and the President later today, but I'll have an opportunity to meet with a number of the troops that have served in Afghanistan and in Iraq in the multinational coalitions in those countries and have contributed so much to the liberation of those countries and the path they're on towards democracy.
I have met with them previously, some of them at least, during my visits to Afghanistan and Iraq, and I can say that they have served with great distinction and courage and professionalism.
The Minister mentioned one thing I would like to underline and that is Mongolia's interest in and role in peacekeeping operations. If there's anything that's clear in the 21st Century it's that the world needs peacekeepers, and I congratulate the people of Mongolia and the government and the armed forces of Mongolia for selecting that as a principle aspect of their military focus. And certainly the United States is anxious and willing and ready to be of assistance in that regard.
So Mr. Minister, I thank you very much.
SECRETARY RUMSFELD: My first impression of Mongolia has been meeting with the Mongolian troops in Afghanistan and in Iraq, and I have a great deal of respect for them, and I am very pleased to be here. It's a lovely, sunny say. It's my first visit to Mongolia and it's, I'm told, the first visit of an American Secretary of Defense, so I'm very pleased to have that honor.
SECRETARY RUMSFELD: If you think about it, some 50 million people have been liberated -- 25 million in Afghanistan and 25 million in Iraq. That is a wonderful accomplishment. The political courage and the personal courage of your forces serving there is greatly to be respected and valued. Certainly the people of the United States do value their service. Thank you.
SECRETARY RUMSFELD: Indeed, I did.
SECRETARY RUMSFELD: I did raise with the people there the difference between what the world's impression of their level of expenditure is relative to what they say they're spending, and pointed out that questions had been raised. We had very good, candid discussions about that issue and a whole host of other issues. I found the visit to be most useful and constructive.
PRESS: Bob Burns from the Associated Press for the Minister please. While you’re increasing your close relations with the U.S. military have either of your neighbors, either Russia or China, expressed concern about that? And also [Inaudible]?
MOD: Today we along with all our other nations in the globe live through the period in which the new perils of international terrorism and other challenges to security are more and more pertinent to global and regional security. Mongolia wants to establish and develop close defense and military relations with all countries of the world. I would say the achieved level of Mongolia/U.S. military relations is excellent and we do also desire and we do have excellent level of cooperation in defense field with both of our neighbors, the People's Republic of China and the Russian Federation.
I do not perceive any concern from our neighbors to the current development of Mongolia/U.S. military ties. Once again, we do have the similar level of cooperation with the militaries of China and Russia.
SECRETARY RUMSFELD: You asked me to respond to the latter portion as well. You said why shouldn't they? I would say why should they?
The relationship between our two countries is particularly focused on peacekeeping capabilities, something that the world needs and benefits from. I can't imagine why you would ask the question that way, Mr. Burns.
SECRETARY RUMSFELD: Well, that's a question that we have people from the U.S. Department of State who could answer a question like that. But the Department of State and the Presidents of those various countries apparently got together and decided that it would be a useful thing to have six nations participate. How it happened, I don't know. The Department of Defense is not involved in it as fate would have it.
SECRETARY RUMSFELD: I don't know quite how to respond to that. The International Atomic Energy Organization, IAEA, has been working with Iran for a number of years. Most recently several of the European countries -- France, Germany and the UK -- got together and initiated a set of discussions with Iran attempting to persuade them that it's not in anyone's interest for them to proceed with the development of nuclear weapons.
They have ample energy. They burn off more gas and waste it every day than the Brashir plant would provide.
SECRETARY RUMSFELD: I'm sorry I didn't follow that.
PRESS: Can we get your reaction on the UN report [inaudible]?
SECRETARY RUMSFELD: I apologize, I've been on the road and I have not had an opportunity to review it. It is I think a good thing that the United Nations looked into that matter and I'm sure that after the report's been read and studied that the international community will have opinions, but at the moment I'm not in a position to stand here and --
PRESS: Mr. Secretary, has the United States established, or is interested in establishing any listening post or [Inaudible]?
SECRETARY RUMSFELD: We've had no discussions along that line and I know of no interest in that.
MOD: Ladies and gentlemen, the Secretary has a short visit. Our next program is due, so please –