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Secretary Rumsfeld Remarks Recognizing Kuwait

Presenter: Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld
April 01, 2004 11:40 AM EDT
Secretary Rumsfeld Remarks Recognizing Kuwait

(Participating was Deputy Secretary Of State Richard Armitage; Kuwaiti Deputy Prime Minister and Minister Of Defense, Sheik Jabir Mubarak Al-Hamad Al Sabah, and Kuwaiti Minister Of Foreign Affairs, Sheik Muhammad Sabah Al-Ahmad Al Sabah..)

 

            ANNOUNCER:  Ladies and gentlemen, Secretary Donald Rumsfeld.

 

            SEC. RUMSFELD:  Well, greetings.  This is a big gathering on an important day.  And it certainly is a privilege and a pleasure for me to be able to welcome to the Pentagon the State of Kuwait's Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defense Sheik Jabir, and the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dr. Muhammad; and Sheik Al-Farahall (ph).  The Department of Defense appreciates your being here.

 

            And we're very pleased that Deputy Secretary Rich Armitage could be with us.  Secretary Powell, as you know, is away overseas, I believe in Berlin and Brussels -- yes, indeed.

 

            And certainly a welcome to all our guests.

 

            Mr. Ambassador, it's always good to see you.  Ambassador Zoellick, thank you for being here.  And Paul Wolfowitz, the deputy secretary is here; and Les Brownlee, acting secretary of the Army, good to see you.  Chairman Dick Myers, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff; and General John Jumper, the chief of staff of the Air Force.  And so many -- I see Colonel Mulholland back there.  What are you doing way in the back there?  (Laughter.)  And so many other distinguished guests, we're very pleased you're all here.

 

            It's nice to be in a warm, dry place.  (Laughter.)  We had planned a big event out in the Parade Ground on the River Entrance with bands and soldiers and flags and pennants and music.  But we're particularly pleased that so many of the Kuwaitis here in Washington, D.C. could be with us.  Raise your hands.  Let's see those flags. There we are.  Good!  (Laughter.)  Terrific!  Well, welcome! (Applause.)

 

            It has now been well over a decade since the 1999 Gulf War, when coalition forces came together to repel Iraqi aggression against Kuwait and to defeat the forces of tyranny that had visited such terrible destruction upon the state of Kuwait.

 

            On September 11th, 2001, it was the United States that suffered a brutal act of aggression, and in America's hours of need, Kuwait was there, a steadfast friend an ally, and a critical member of the coalition in the global war on terror.  It was from Kuwait soil that the forces of the liberation of Iraq assembled and began their movement to Baghdad.

 

            In the years since, Kuwait has been at the forefront of the coalition efforts to help the Iraqi people take hold of their country and begin their recovery from decades of repression.  Kuwait has been a strong friend of the United States and of the American people, a valued and dependable ally and a courageous partner in Operation Iraqi Freedom.

 

            And so it is fitting that Kuwait be recognized today as a major non-NATO ally, a designation that is enjoyed by just a handful of other nations.

 

            Mr. Ministers, you honor us by joining us in alliance with our country, and by your commitment to our mutual security.  Americans are grateful for your friendship, we're grateful for the steadfastness of the Kuwaiti people.  And we thank both of you and your country for all you have done and are doing to defend freedom in this dangerous new century.

 

            Thank you very much.  (Applause.)

 

            ANNOUNCER:  Ladies and gentlemen, Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage.

 

            MR. ARMITAGE:  Well, good morning.  Mr. Secretary, thank you.

 

            Esteemed colleagues from Kuwait, ladies and gentlemen, I'm indeed honored to represent Secretary Powell here today.  He'd love to be here himself, but was called to service out of the country, as Secretary Rumsfeld has acknowledged.  I do bring with me today his highest regards for the people of Kuwait as we mark this extraordinarily important occasion.

 

            Major non-NATO ally is a distinction the president of the United States confers on a very few countries.  Joining together in this fashion as formal allies conveys not only the deepest respect, but also durable responsibilities, and that's entirely appropriate. Indeed, today we are not truly embarking on a new relationship; we are recognizing a long-standing and strong partnership, one founded on mutual strategic interests and long-term security, and forged in the hot fires of war as well as liberation.

 

            The regime of Saddam Hussein was horrific for the people of Iraq, and it may well be that it takes generations for the scar tissue to form over that country's open wounds.  But Iraq's agony has been painful for all of our people as well.  Indeed, for Kuwait the full cost of enduring a hostile occupation can never truly be calculated, nor can the value of all the lost lives.  But today, and soon under a sovereign and free Iraqi government, we will continue to do all we can to account for the disappeared, to compensate the people of Kuwait for the misery they endured, and to reassure them that the past will never be repeated.

 

            I understand that there is an Arab proverb that says for every glance behind us, we must look twice to the future.  And so, while we will never forget all of the suffering of the last 13 years, we must now focus our vision on that future.  And indeed, scores of nations are working together to build a future of peace and a future of prosperity for the region.  The United States will continue to push for success as the anchor of that great coalition.  And little more than a decade after its own liberation, Kuwait is leading the way and serving as an example to all of its neighbors.  And I want to offer the gratitude of the American people for Kuwait's considerable moral and material contributions to our shared interest in a free Iraq and regional stability.

 

            Our two nations stood by each other at great national sacrifice through years of war.  Today we must be prepared to do all that is necessary to secure a lasting peace.  And so as we turn to face the future we will stand together as we always have, and from this day forward we will stand as allies.  Thank you.  (Applause.)

 

            ANNOUNCER:  Ladies and gentlemen, Deputy Prime Minister of Kuwait and Minister of Defense Sheik Jabir Mubarak al-Hamad Al Sabah.

 

            MIN. JABIR MUBARAK:  (Through interpreter.)  The Honorable Donald Rumsfeld, distinguished guests, may God's peace, compassion and blessing be with you.

 

            On behalf of our government and the people of Kuwait I would like to thank the United States government and the American people and you personally, Mr. Secretary, for designating the state of Kuwait as a major strategic ally outside the NATO alliance.  This designation reflects the warm and close relationships between our two countries. This relationship was founded on a clear, firm and solid basis, and originated from a place of mutual respect among our leaders and our peoples.  This relationship was established on our common vision of many world issues and our shared belief in the principles of democracy, freedom and justice.

 

            It is these principles that have allowed us to stand up together shoulder to shoulder during difficult political and military world challenges and to successfully overcome these challenges, particularly with respect to the liberation of Iraq.  This alliance between us will continue and will become stronger as we proceed in our war against all forms of extremism and terrorism.

 

            I'd like to take this opportunity and this moment to express our great appreciation for the historic role of the United States in the liberation of Kuwait and for your firm positions on security, peace and stability throughout the world.  Also, I would like to praise the special relationship between the Kuwaiti and American military forces, which brought mutual understandings and closeness in all fields and benefited both military forces in both countries -- that brought the benefits to both states.

 

            Mr. Secretary, distinguished guests, I would like again to thank the United States administration for this initiative, which reflects your government's appreciation and recognition towards Kuwait and its unique position.  I wish all the best to our two countries and more solidarity, progress and prosperity.  Thank you and God bless you. (Applause.)

 

            ANNOUNCER:  Ladies and gentlemen, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Kuwait Sheik Dr. Muhammad Sabah al-Hamad Al Sabah.

 

            MIN. MUHAMMAD SABAH:  (In Arabic.)  (Continues in English.) Gracious hosts, honored guests, ladies and gentlemen.  (In Arabic.) (Continues in English.)  God works in a mysterious way, Mr. Secretary. As people who come from a desert, we think that rain is a good omen -- (laughter) -- so we cannot complain about rain.  (Laughter, applause.)

 

            I'm extremely honored and privileged to be standing here in all humility to celebrate this joyous, momentous and historic occasion in designating Kuwait as a major non-NATO ally.  Every time we come to this country -- to this great country of yours, we are reminded about the strength, the depth and the warmth of the friendship that exists between our two countries; this friendship, that was forged in a wartime and a peacetime.

 

            We stood shoulder to shoulder in the Iraqi liberation operation. We defeated Saddam's evil and destructive ideology.  We prevailed in Iraq.  But the war is not over.  You can count on us to continue to stand beside you and to fight for the birth of a new Iraq, an Iraq that would stand as the enlightenment and stability in our region.

 

            You can also be certain, Mr. Secretary, and count on us that we will be standing beside you in the war against terrorism, and against those who would like to hijack and kidnap our religion and tarnish it, and to use it for evil intentions.  Together we will fight those people and we will defeat them, and we will defeat the terrorists.

 

            And finally, Mr. Secretary, you can be assured about my country's total commitment to a comprehensive and just peace in the Middle East. And you can count on us to work very closely and diligently with your people to realize the vision of -- President Bush's vision of a two- state solution in the Middle East, a Palestinian state living in peace next to Israel.

 

            I know, Mr. Secretary, that April 1st -- (laughter) -- is a country -- is a date that has some funny meaning in your country. (Laughter.)  But I can assure you, Mr. Secretary, that the commitment that my brother, Sheik Jabir, and myself gave you today you can take to the bank.  (Laughter.)  Thank you very much.  (Applause.)

 

            ANNOUNCER:  Ladies and gentlemen, this concludes today's ceremony.

 

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