Saturday, December 15, 2001
(Joint press conference with Armenian Defense Minister Serge Sargsyan at the Presidential Palace, Yerevan, Armenia)
Sargsyan: Good afternoon. We have had a round of discussions with U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. The main topic of our discussions with the secretary, as it has already been announced, was Armenia's involvement in the struggle against terrorism and military cooperation between the two country's ministries of defense. We have expressed our readiness to support the anti-terrorism activities and have agreed with the secretary of Defense that after the passage of the decision by U.S. Congress [referring to the waiver of Section 907] we will discuss concrete issues of cooperation in the military sphere.
Rumsfeld: Thank you very much. Good afternoon, Mr. Minister. We have indeed had very good discussions with the minister first, and then with the foreign minister and also the president. We have discussed our respective roles and responsibilities with respect to the war on terrorism and, indeed, we also talked about the fact that we are both partners in the NATO "Partnership for Peace" program and we'll be seeing each other next week at the NATO Ministerial Meetings. As the minister said, we are expecting that Congress will act on the waiver of Section 907 some time this week or next and that our two countries will be able to proceed with a military-to-military relationship, which will be of benefit to both of our nations. I am looking at my calendar and it tells me that the meeting was supposed to end ten minutes ago but we will take a question or two.
Q: What kind of military assistance are you expecting to receive from the United States?
Sargsyan: We would like to continue the programs that we are currently implementing. First of all, it is a program related to officer training and secondly, completion of the work on the de-mining center. We attach great importance to both programs and we would like to get serious assistance in the modernization of our means of communication.
Q: A question to both ministers. What are the main areas where you see prospects for military cooperation between the two countries?
Rumsfeld: I would agree with the minister's comments earlier.
Q: (Mediamax Armenian news agency) Secretary Rumsfeld, Turkey is a key partner of the United States in this region and is playing a very important role in the campaign against terror and Armenia also participates in this program. Don't you think that now the United States has to call upon Turkey to stop the blockade of Armenia and establish diplomatic relations with it to make this region more stable and predictable?
Rumsfeld: I had a trouble understanding the last portion of the question. But the United States and Turkey, of course, are partners in NATO and certainly the United States and Armenia and Turkey are all partners in the Partnership for Peace in NATO and have worked together on a variety of things.
Q: (Inaudible) [would you please comment on the last 24 hours' operations in Afghanistan, the last two days the US was bombing 10 times a day, there were also land operations, could you give us an update on what is happening now in Afghanistan?]
Rumsfeld: The situation in Afghanistan is essentially calm in areas such as Mazar-e Sharif and Herat and Kabul. The situation in Kandahar is still somewhat unsettled but the airport now is under the control of the U.S. Marines and is being prepared for use. The situation east of Kabul towards Jalalabad and towards the border continues to be an area where there is conflict. It is estimated that there are hundreds of al Qaeda and possibly Taliban forces filled up in the caves and tunnels and Afghan opposition forces and U.S. forces are pursuing them. The last report I received indicated that opposition forces are making good progress. And I can leave the minister of Defense here to answer questions all evening but I have to leave after one more question.
Q: (Russian media) There are people who say that the fact of the U.S. withdrawal from the ABM Treaty will lead to another arms race. Is that true?
Rumsfeld: It is true that there are people who say that. They are wrong. They are not just a little wrong, they are very wrong. The whole history of your adult life proves they are wrong. Since the beginning of Arms Control in the 1960s and 70s the numbers of weapons were going up and up and up. That was an arms race during the era of arms control. President Putin and President Bush have announced they are going to have the weapons go down and down and down from thousands down to 1700 to 2200. Any suggestion by anybody, attributed or unattributed that some change in the ABM treaty is going to lead to an arms race is just flap -- not so. In fact, the next five years will prove what I've just said to be the case. Thank you very much, nice to see you all.