United States Department of Defense United States Department of Defense

News Transcript

Press Operations Bookmark and Share


Joint News Conference with Secretary Of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and South Korean Minister of National Defense Yoon Kwang Ung

Presenter: Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld
October 22, 2004

Friday, October 22, 2004

Joint News Conference with Secretary Of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and South Korean Minister of National Defense Yoon Kwang Ung

     (Note:  The minister's remarks are through interpreter.)


            SEC. RUMSFELD:  Good afternoon.  It's a small room with a lot of people.  We apologize for being late.


            It's a pleasure for me to welcome Minister Yoon to Washington and to the Pentagon for this 36th U.S.-Republic of Korea Security Consultative Meeting, and also to be able to personally convey our country's appreciation to the Korean people for their steadfast support in the global war against extremism.


            The special bond between our two countries was cemented some 50 years ago as American and Korean troops fought for freedom on the Korean peninsula.  Together we've guarded liberty there ever since. Now once again our forces are side by side in freedom's defense.  The Republic of Korea is playing a leading role in combating extremists who threaten the civilized world.  I recently visited with the Korean troops, the Zaytun unit that's stationed in northern Iraq.  They are   outstanding soldiers.  They have all volunteered to be deployed there. Indeed, I am told that there were 15 or 16 volunteers for each one of the slots that they filled.  That says a great deal about the Korean commitment to fight against extremists.


            Mr. Minister, we appreciate the sacrifices being made by your soldiers and by their families as well.


            Today we are working together to transform our militaries and to adapt to the post-Cold War world.  We have, for example, closely coordinated efforts to modernize and improve America's global posture while increasing our commitment to Korea's defense.

(Pause for interpretation.)


            As much as $11 billion of U.S. enhancements will directly benefit our collective defense of the Republic of Korea.  Our -- (interpreter begins to speak) -- go ahead.  (Pause for interpretation.)


            Our countries both agree that initiatives to strengthen our combined capabilities, to transfer military missions and to realign U.S. forces based in Korea will significantly strengthen the alliance, while adapting it to changes in the global security environment.


            With one of the world's most modern military (sic) and highly trained militaries, the South Koreans are appropriately increasingly taking the lead in their own defense.

(Pause for interpretation.)


     They're also playing an influential role in Asia, including their participation in multilateral negotiations with North Korea, a country that continues to pose a threat to the interests of our two countries.

(Pause for interpretation.)


            Since the September 11th attacks, President Bush recognized that victory in the global war against extremism would require us to work more closely than ever with our long-time friends and allies. 

(Pause for interpretation.)


     The government of Korea and the people of Korea were among the first to step forward to offer their support.

(Pause for interpretation.)


            Mr. Minister, we appreciate your leadership in the global struggle, and we value the continued friendship of the Korean people.  Mr. Minister (Off mike.)


            MIN. YOON:  Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen.  This morning Defense Secretary Rumsfeld and I have held the 36th annual Republic of Korea-United States Security Consultative Meeting.  We had an in-depth and productive consultation on security issues concerning our two countries.


            Today we began our meeting with an assessment of the security situation on the Korean peninsula, followed by discussions on how the ROK-U.S. combined defense posture could be strengthened and enhanced.


            We were also able to have a meaningful discussion on the realignment issue of U.S. Forces Korea, including the Yongsan garrison relocation, and also discussed the future-oriented development of the ROK-U.S. alliance.


            Furthermore, we have also evaluated recent international situations surrounding the global war on terror, in which we exchange opinions on how cooperation could be made in rooting out inhumane terrorism.


            Having held today's meeting at a time when international situations and the security environment on the Korean peninsula are rapidly changing, I am very satisfied to have been able to display the strength of the ROK-U.S. alliance, as well as share our common views on the future direction of the alliance.


            In particular, I found it quite meaningful in that Secretary Rumsfeld and I, having met for the first time, were able to have the opportunity to build trust and friendship on a personal level.  Thank you very much.


            SEC. RUMSFELD:  Very good.  Do you want to just open it up?


            STAFF:  I think we'll open it up for two questions, perhaps from the Korean journalists that are here, and two from the U.S., and we'll alternate.


            SEC. RUMSFELD:  Should we follow that archaic practice of calling on Charlie first?  (Chuckles.)


            Yes, sir, Charlie.  Oh, I'm sorry.


            Q:     Mr. Secretary, I realize you don't comment on political issues.  Having said that, this is an important issue involving your country. I would like to ask both you and the minister if you feel that direct bilateral talks between Washington and Pyongyang would be constructive and productive at this time, or might they threaten the unity on the U.S. side in the six-party talks?

(Pause for interpretation.)


            SEC. RUMSFELD:  I'll be happy to answer first.  Obviously, the United States government's position is that the six-party talks are the proper way to proceed and that the goal is to achieve a diplomatic success through negotiations with the North Koreans, and that process is under way.

(Pause for interpretation.)


            MIN. YOON:  It is also the position of the Republic of Korea to pursue the six-party process to succeed and resolve the issue of nuclear weapons of North Korea peacefully and diplomatically.


            Q:     But do you think that might threaten -- I'm sorry, Mr. Minister -- you think that might threaten the six-party talks?  Do you think bilateral talks between the United States and Pyongyang might threaten the unity on the -- in the six-party talks?

(Pause for interpretation.)


            MIN. YOON:  Well, I think this answer -- should be answered by the foreign minister of my government because if I were to comment on this question, I can tell you that the Korean government have never considered bilateral meetings or talks between North Korea and the United States but if the negotiation -- if that were to happen, I would assume there should be close consultations between Washington and Seoul first.


            SEC. RUMSFELD:  Take a question from the Korean press.


            Q:     (Through interpreter.)  This question is directed to Minister Yoon.  I understand there is talk about replacing FOTA, as it has been -- the FOTA, which has been very effective and very successful in the course of negotiations of the deployment of U.S. forces in Korea.  But if you were to replace FOTA with some other mechanism, what type of format that will be and what will be the kind of topics that the new mechanism will be dealing with?


            I also heard a comment -- again, this question is directed to Minister Yoon -- that is I heard Korean government would pursue coordination and harmony between Korea's policy of cooperative self- reliant defensive policy and U.S. defense policy as well.  So what kind of specific actions or course did you have in mind when you made that statement?


            MIN. YOON:  The FOTA has been very successful and resulted in very constructive resolutions regarding a lot of issues that we have discussed very closely between the two countries.  But in the future, we have a need to continue that type of dialogue.  Therefore, we're going to call this new mechanism Strategic Policy Initiative [sic] (Security Policy Initiative) and through which we will continue to develop the solidarity and unity of the U.S.-ROK alliance.


            When we say the harmony between the two policies, we meant first of all we will never allow any security vacuum in the course of change.  At the same time, we will rather increase defense deterrent against North Korea.


            SEC. RUMSFELD:  Question from this side.  Jamie?


            Q     Mr. Secretary, we're hearing today about a Pentagon assessment which suggests the insurgency in Iraq might be bigger and better funded than thought in the past.  I'm curious if you still think that you're facing a few dead-enders, as you've called them, in Iraq, or is this beginning to look more like a quagmire?

(Pause for interpretation.)


            SEC. RUMSFELD:  I meant to call on Bob.  (Laughter.)

(Pause for interpretation.)


            Oh, Jamie.  I would -- well, it's not allowed to bet in -- but I would guess that you couldn't find any quote of me saying "a few dead-enders."

(Pause for interpretation.)


            It is true that I included among the various categories of opponents of the Iraqi Governing Council and the interim Iraq government and the coalition forces dead-enders.  That is true.  And there are dead-enders.  But I doubt that I said "a few."  If I did, I'd love to see where.

(Pause for interpretation.)


            So I would submit that the thrust of your question was not only imprecise but inaccurate, the idea that anyone is suggesting this is easy or that there are just a few problems or people.  We've said repeatedly that it is tough and complicated and that there are a variety of different elements opposing the Iraqi government and the coalition. 

(Pause for interpretation.)


     And as you know well, they include a variety of categories, including foreign terrorists -- relatively small number compared to the total, but probably among the most lethal--

(Pause for interpretation.)


-- criminals, people who do things for money

(Pause for interpretation.)


--some -- a relatively larger number of foreign regime elements and, quote, "dead enders," people who have it in their mind that they have a chance to take back that country for a vicious dictatorship. 

(Pause for interpretation.)


     Couple that with people like the -- oh, the Sadr people, who have been engaged in various unhelpful activities during an earlier period—

(Pause for interpretation.)


      --throw into the mix the harm that's being done by a couple of neighbors, Iran and Syria—

(Pause for interpretation.)


--and you have what we've characterized as an insurgency by a group of extremists who are determined to prevent that from becoming a free country.

(Pause for interpretation.)


     Now, Jamie, you can call that a quagmire if you'd like to, but it's at your option.

(Pause for interpretation.)


     That word was used in Afghanistan after a relatively short period, as I recall, by a few of you folks.

(Pause for interpretation.)


     And as difficult as that's been, they have proceeded with a loya jirga, an interim government and elections.

(Pause for interpretation.)


     And men and women went to vote, and it was a breathtaking, wonderful accomplishment for the world.

(Pause for interpretation.)


     And all the naysayers and the skeptics who said that it couldn't happen, the Taliban would stop it, the al Qaeda would stop it were wrong.

(Pause for interpretation.)


     And 25 million people in that country are liberated and voting for their own government for the first time.

(Pause for interpretation.)


     And 25 million people in Iraq have been liberated—

(Pause for interpretation.)


--and they have a chance to put that country on a path towards a free, democratic country that's respectful of all elements within the country.

(Pause for interpretation.)


     The United States has sent our best young people, men and women, Army, Marines, airmen, sailors over there at the risk of their lives. (Pause for interpretation.)


     And 30 other countries, including the Republic of Korea, have sent theirs, and we're deeply grateful for that. (Pause for interpretation.)


     And the American people and other countries have sent money. (Pause for interpretation.)


     And in Iraq, the schools are open, the hospitals are open--(Pause for interpretation.)


--they have a currency, they have a stock market--(Pause for interpretation.)


--they have food(Pause for interpretation.)


--and they have a good crack at making it. (Pause for interpretation.)


            And there are some very bad people who want to take that country back to a dark place(Pause for interpretation.)


--to a place where there are mass graves of tens of thousands of people. (Pause for interpretation.)


And the 25 million liberated people in that country are going to have to be the ones to make that country work. (Pause for interpretation.)


In the last analysis, others can't do it for them. (Pause for interpretation.)


            And the Iraqi people are demonstrating courage every day. (Pause for interpretation.)


Members of their security forces are being killed. (Pause for interpretation.)


Innocent Iraqi civilians are being killed. (Pause for interpretation.)


But every indication is that the overwhelming majority of those people want elections. (Pause for interpretation.)


They don't want the coalition forces to stay there forever, but they want them there now so that they can have elections and get on with their lives. (Pause for interpretation.)


And I don't call that a quagmire. (Pause for interpretation.)


            Q:     Since you meant to call on me, could I ask a follow-up question?


            STAFF:  Perhaps one last one from one of our Korean colleagues.


            Q     Yes, I want to ask about the future or status or role of the United States stationed in Korean peninsula to Secretary Rumsfeld.


            SEC. RUMSFELD:  I'm sorry, could you repeat that?


            Q:     The future status of the role of the United States --


            Q:     The future role of U.S. forces --


            SEC. RUMSFELD:  Wait a second.  One at a time.  Just a minute.


            Q     Future status of the United States forces stationed in Korea.  The mission of the troops left in the Korean peninsula will be focused against the threat of North Korea, or its main goal will be extended to the regional forces for the security and stabilization? In the latter case, who's going to have the responsibility or the burden of the military expenses? (Pause for interpretation.)


            SEC. RUMSFELD:  Our forces are in a close, cooperative alliance with the forces of South Korea, and have been for 50 years. (Pause for interpretation.)


The purpose is to see that there is a healthy deterrent that dissuades anyone from thinking that they can disturb the peace on that peninsula. (Pause for interpretation.)


Those same forces for 50 years have also contributed to regional stability. (Pause for interpretation.)


            We don't see anything changing in terms of the role of U.S. forces. (Pause for interpretation.)


What will change is the relative responsibilities as between the United States and the Republic of Korea as the facts on the ground evolve. (Pause for interpretation.)


And as the minister and his government have announced, they're going to be assuming some missions and some responsibilities as we adjust our relationship going forward. (Pause for interpretation.)


            You want to comment on that, Mr. Minister?


            MIN. YOON:  (Off mike.)


            SEC. RUMSFELD:  No?


            Q     Mr. Secretary, just to follow up on Jamie's question.  You summarize the --


            SEC. RUMSFELD:  It doesn't deserve a follow-up!


            Q     Well, then let's talk about something else then. 


            SEC. RUMSFELD:  I answered at great length.


            Q     You summarize the insurgency -- in a report from this building, officials, unnamed officials, are saying that the insurgency is growing, both in intensity and numbers and funding.  You characterize -- what's your assessment -- your latest assessment on the insurgency?  Also, do you think --


            SEC. RUMSFELD:  This business of unnamed officials is wonderful. You could -- in an institution this big, with a million-four active- duty military personnel, 800,000 or whatever it is civilians, another 865,000 Reservists and another 400,000 individual ready Reservists, you can imagine -- you could get officials in this building saying almost anything you would want, almost any day of the week.


            Now what do I say about that?  If the -- it is correct -- if one looks at the data from the prime minister of Iraq, if one looks at the data from General Casey and General Abizaid that the incidents of violence have gone up, as we predicted they would go up, as -- prior to sovereignty being passed and subsequent to sovereignty being passed, as we move towards the Iraqi elections, that is not news; that is something that we said would happen.  It has happened.


            It is also true that it's very uneven around that country.  There are 18 provinces, as I recall.  In 14 of them, the number of incidents per day is five or less.  In the other four, there are quite a few incidents, Baghdad being the prime one, where the bulk of the incidents a day occur.  It seems to me that that's not news at all.


            You -- 


            STAFF:  The translator has to come up.


            SEC. RUMSFELD:  Oh, I'm sorry.  My apologies.


            (Pause for interpretation.)


            I haven't seen these -- this article about unnamed sources talking about it.  But I would guess if they're knowledgeable unnamed sources, it would very closely approximate what I just said.

(Pause for interpretation.)


            Q     You maintain that the insurgency is just becoming more active, or is it growing?


            SEC. RUMSFELD:  One second.  Let him -- let him -- (Pause for interpretation.)


            SEC. RUMSFELD:  Pardon me.


            Q     It's the same insurgency, then, you maintain?  It's not growing in size; it's just becoming more active?  Or do you assess that it's --


            SEC. RUMSFELD:  Doesn't "more active," "growing in size" mean the same thing?


            Q     No, the same number becoming more active, or are more people joining the insurgency movement?  Are they getting more funding?  Would you --


            SEC. RUMSFELD:  Well, they've been getting funding continuously.


            (To interpreter.)  Excuse me.  (Chuckles.)  I forget. (Pause for interpretation.)


            We've known that money has come in from Iran and money's come in from Syria.  We've known that, that the Zarqawi network get funding from probably around the world from different countries.  We've also known that at the end of the -- during the conflict, the banks were robbed by the Saddam loyalists that are the Ba'athists, the ones that are trying to take back the country, and that we found hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of thousands of dollars.  So you've got to assume that when they took the banks over that they have hundreds of millions of dollars.  So the -- I doubt that there's any unnamed or named official who could precisely tell you about the flow of money, but clearly they're funded.  We know that.  That's no surprise.


            Is that it?  (Pause for interpretation.)


            STAFF:  Thank you very much.


            SEC. RUMSFELD:  Thank you, folks.


            MIN. YOON:  (In English.)  Thank you very much.  



Additional Links

Stay Connected