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Secretary Rumsfeld Press Availability In Eritrea

Presenter: Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld
December 10, 2002

Tuesday, December 10, 2002

(Eritrea Press Availability. Also participating was the President of Enitrea, Isaias Afwoki)

Rumsfeld: My goodness Mr. President I expected to hear some words from you.

President: I will go right after you.

Rumsfeld: I am very pleased to be here with our delegation from the United States, we have in Eritrea a country that is cooperating in the global war on terrorism and has offered a variety of areas of assistance to the world wide coalition of some 90 countries. A country that has been forthcoming with respect to the present efforts, with respect to Iraq and the United Nations.

We in the United States recognize that the global war on terrorism is a long one, it will take time, there are forces in the world that are urging and recommending and teaching fanatacism and extremism and terrorism and those forces need to be overcome.

They're not the kinds of forces that can be dealt with in a day a week a month or a year, and to do it requires close cooperation between our two countries and other countries in the region and across the globe, so that those who value freedom and those who oppose fanatacism and extremism and terrorism will ultimately prevail.

Mr. President we thank you very much for your hospitality we appreciate having the opportunity of hearing your perspectives. I think one of the important things that has come from the events of September 11th for the United States is the development of new relationships around the world with countries that have relationships that are growing and developing and evolving in ways that are to our mutual benefit. So I'm very pleased to be here and I thank you Sir.

President: (inaudible) working together with our partner the United States to make things peaceful and safe. Thank you again Mr. Secretary for this important visit.

Q: What can Eritrea offer?

President: We are not offering anything but we are here to provide our limited resources if they can be useful in any way.

Q: Does that include inviting U.S. Forces to your country?

President: That's the least we can offer.

Q: Does the United States intend to station forces here?

Rumsfeld: It's interesting the line of questions tend to think of a relationship between our country and in this case, this country as transactional. There must be some thing one will give in exchange for something else. And I think it's probably not the best way to think about the relationship. The way to think about the relationship is the way the president stated. It's that this country has been dealing with the problem of terrorism as our country has. We both agree that these are the kinds of problems that are global, not the kinds of things that can be dealt with by any single country. That requires cooperation over a sustained period of time, and multi-faceted relationships that are mutually beneficial, that will vary from county to country. Eritrea's relationship with each of its neighbors is somewhat different. And our relationship with each one of the neighbors in this part of the world is somewhat different.

But the common threat is that we face in this world is a very very serious problem. And it is the problem of a large number of people who have been trained and persuaded that it's in their interests to kill innocent men, women, and children. And to strike at nations and that is a danger particularly given the growing lethality of weapons and availability of weapons. Particularly the potential of weapons of mass destruction. And it is unacceptable for those of us who believe in freedom, who believe in sovereignty, and it is that kind of a relationship that exists here between our two countries and which will evolve over time in a way that is mutually beneficial.

Q: Mr. Secretary, did you speak with the President about the detention of political leaders in this country , the closure of the private press and how it will influence the relationship between your two countries?

Rumsfeld: You know, yes the subject came up, we discussed it and the ambassador has discussed the issue and issues of that type. All across the globe and a country is a sovereign nation and they arrange themselves and deal with their problems in ways that they feel are appropriate to them. By the same token, other countries looking at how those arrangements are make their judgements as to how they feel about it and how they can interact with such countries. And it's a very straightforward discussion and I think there's clarity on both sides. And we are personally hoping that the relationship will evolve and strengthen and grow in the weeks and months and years ahead.

Q: What can Eritrea share with the U.S. in terms of fighting terrorism?

Rumsfeld: Well I'd say that this country has considerably more experience than we do. Over a sustained period of time. And we can benefit from that knowledge and from that experience. And that there's no question but that countries around the world are developing a better understanding of the nature of the threat that exists the nature of the capabilities that those threatening free people all across the globe have and the lethality of those capabilities. So what you see is each day and week and month a larger coalition of nations that respect sovereignty and respect freedom and a closer cooperation, putting more and more pressure on terrorists of all sizes on all continents. Now are we likely to be so successful that there will be no more terrorists' acts. No I suspect not. The attacker has a great advantage. An attacker can attack at anytime, anyplace, using any technique. It's not possible to defend every time, against any technique, in every place. But we can together disrupt the network. Squeeze off their finances; affect those schools or so-called madrassahs that are teaching people to hate and to murder innocent men, women, and children. And I feel that the global war on terrorism is on a good track. And we very much value the work that is done here and the relationship that has been developed. Thank you very much.