Tan: … [Inaudible] Secretary Rumsfeld whom I’ve met on many occasions. We have reinforced the excellent relationship between Singapore and the United States, particularly in the field of defense and military relations because we need to work together in the field. There are many areas where Singapore and the U.S. have an interest.
Singapore supports the war on terror led by the U.S. The war on terror is taking place on many dimensions and many views and in many countries. The focus on the war now is in Iraq, we have focused campaigns in Afghanistan and in Iraq and we will continue to do so within the limits of our opportunities. It’s been an excellent relationship and we expect that this will continue to be so in the coming year and we will work together because we have many common interests and we share many common points of view.
Q: Is there anything specific you can say about how Singapore is helping the U.S.?
Q: … in the war on terror?
Tan: We work closely with the U.S. certainly in our part of the world. Our closest introduction is probably with the U.S. Pacific Command because that’s in the area of operations. We have worked with them and we have provided facilities for the U.S. in the transits when the operations in Afghanistan and now in Iraq. U.S. ships call regularly at Singapore. We have also provided assistance in Iraq through the provision of police trainers, transport aircraft and landing ship tank, within our capabilities and where we can make a useful difference.
Q: And you’re not sending anyone to Iraq?
Tan: We’ve sent transport aircraft.
Q: Secretary Rumsfeld?
Rumsfeld: I would also add then that our two countries have cooperated in the global war on terror in some other ways in terms of flying flights and in terms of ship calls, port visits, in terms of sharing intelligence and in a variety of ways. It is a very close, not just military to military relationship, but a political and economic relationship, which we value greatly.
Q: Mr. Secretary, did you ask the DPM whether Singapore could send any troops – boots on the ground in Iraq?
Rumsfeld: No. We didn’t. We talked about all they are already doing and how much we value that and appreciate that.
Q: [Inaudible] Saudi Arabia today and perhaps one comment on the war on terror possibly in Southeast Asia now [Inaudible] in terms of winning the battle against these terrorists?
Rumsfeld: Well, as you know, a terrorist can attack any time, any place, using any technique and they do it. They go about killing innocent men, women and children and not just in Saudi Arabia, but also in Indonesia and every corner of the globe – in Western Europe and the United States and most recently in Spain as well.
It points up, it seems to me, the challenge that responsible civilized countries face. They have to cooperate very closely and recognize that it is not possible to defend in every place at every moment of the day or night, against every conceivable type of attack. Therefore, the only choice is to take the battle to the terrorists, to find those terrorist networks, to share intelligence, to bring all elements of national power to bear and make it more difficult for them to raise money to move money, to physically move around within a country, to cross borders between countries and keep raising the costs to them. And that’s what’s been going on.
There hasn’t been a day that’s gone by where this very broad and deep coalition of some 90 nations in the world haven’t been successful in arresting and breaking up some terrorists somewhere on the face of the earth. And we’ll keep that up with a great deal of resolution.
Tan: Let me add that we regard the war on terror as being a sustained one. It is a global war. It takes place in many countries and it will be a long war. And in that part of the world, we believe that we crippled the Jemaah Islamiyah network in Singapore, but it does not mean it is the end of the story. We have to work – they have terrorists in the region. We will work closely with the U.S. and with a region of countries in order to uproot this menace to modern society.
And we are doing this in our world support of a U.S.-led coalition in the war on terror, not because – not just because we are good friends with the U.S., although that’s a very important message, but because we regard this as being in the interest of Singapore. And in the interest of all civilized societies. As Secretary Rumsfeld has said, it is a relentless war. It has to be carried out 24 hours a day, seven days a week, throughout the year. And wherever the menace presents itself, whether in the Middle East or with Southeast Asia, I think the international cooperation is necessary, whether it’s on land or in the air or at sea. We can only succeed if we work together. So Singapore will support the coalition efforts in the war on terror with all the capabilities that we have.
Q: Thank you.
Rumsfeld: Thank you.