Tuesday, December 10, 2002
(Media stakeout with Prime Minister Meles Zenawi in Ethiopia)
Q. Mr. Defense Minister what is the purpose of your visit?
Rumsfeld: Well it's a relationship between our country and Ethiopia that goes back almost a 100 years now. I think next year marks the 100th anniversary. That's a long time for the United States of America but not a long time for your country -- you go back many centuries but it is a relationship that we value and I know that the Prime Minister had a very successful visit to the United States very recently. I wanted to be able to express our appreciation to the Prime Minister and the people of Ethiopia for the strong, effective support in the global war on terrorism and to discuss the region with the prime minister and I have had a very good visit and I am pleased to be here.
Q. Do you think the horn or Africa is home to terrorist groups with connection to Al Qaeda?
Rumsfeld: There is no question but that the horn of Africa and indeed many parts of the world are home to terrorist groups including Al Qaeda. One thinks about the sit in Afghanistan and what took place. They were using that country as a terrorist training camp. They trained hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of people -- thousands of people-- and with the work that was done by coalition forces there they have been driven out for the most part. I am sure there are still some Taliban there but they have moved into neighboring countries they have moved into this part of the world, they've moved into the United States, they have moved into Southeast Asia so it is a problem that is better today than it was a year ago but the problem of terrorism will take a long time. It will take a lot of pressure and it'll take the cooperation of our two countries plus the other close to ninety countries that are cooperating on the global war on terrorism before it will be successful.
Q. Is there any discussion about basing U.S. troops here and what kind of help Ethiopia might give the United States?
Rumsfeld: My visit here was not transactional, it was a relationship visit. It was not to ask for anything or to receive anything. It was to encourage that this important partnership that we have in the global war on terrorism evolve and develop and strengthen from our mutual standpoint.
Q. What (indistinct).......
Rumsfeld: Now why don't you ask a tough question of your Prime Minister?
Meles: Let me answer the question. The Secretary said that there was no transactional discussion and there was not intention of having such a discussion nevertheless I want to underline the fact that in the global fight against terrorism Ethiopia is not going to be half half. Whatever it takes to fight terrorism we will do but there was no transaction.
Q. Mr. Prime Minister, what's your assessment of the magnitude of Al Qaeda operation or activity in this part of the world?
Meles: I think it is very serious and you have seen some of the results. There have been a number of terrorist acts in the neighborhood in the recent past and there are indications that there may be some in the future.
Q. Is it growing or is it lessening or is it staying the same?
Meles: Well as the secretary said, globally we see it is better than last year but in this part of the world due to the migration of some (indistinct) out of Afghanistan it might have become more serious in the horn of Africa (indistinct).
Q. Mr. Prime Minister, Ethiopia has a reputation of having a very good intelligence service side in this region. Did you discuss intelligence sharing with the United States?
Meles: As I said and the secretary said, there was no transactional discussion now but we already share intelligence with the United States and we will continue to do so and perhaps more effectively in the future.
Q. Are you prepared to increase your security cooperation with the United States and if so in what areas would you like to see it grow?
Meles: Whatever is required to effectively combat terrorism globally we shall do. There is no limiting.
Rumsfeld: Why don't we take one last question?
Q. [What does your country support operationally in the horn of Africa?]
Rumsfeld: The President of the United States and the congress of the United States and the people of the United States are determined that we in American and our friend and allies and other like thinking peoples of the world need to be able to be free. Free to live their lives, free to go where they wish, and say what they wish and not live in fear of terrorists. What does that mean? Well, it means that we're in this for the long haul. It means that we're determined not to be terrorized. We are determined to make the kinds of relationships and cooperative arrangements across the globe that will put pressure on terrorists. Over time we have to win the battle of ideas. We can't have people being taught from a young age that the thing that they should do with their lives is to become fanatics, terrorists, and extremists. We need more people taught from a young age that in fact the way to prosper and enjoy a life is to be respectful of other people and the rule of law and a civil society and not to get up every morning and go out and try to kill innocent men, women and children. In our country and some ninety nations involved in this coalition I believe will have the staying power and the strength and the right purpose such as that we will prevail.
Thank you very much.