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Secretary Rumsfeld and Australian MoD Robert Hill Media Stakeout

Presenter: Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld
June 05, 2004

           Hill: -- Defense Secretary Rumsfeld here today. I think it reinforces the importance of the U.S. role in preserving peace and stability in this part of the world. What this conference is really all about is bringing together the countries of the region at a defense level to talk about mutual issues and problems and how we can work together to solve them. The overwhelming one, of course, is terrorism. [Inaudible] to discuss what we believe is being achieved in the last year, the challenges that [inaudible].

 

            So Secretary, we're pleased that you have joined us here this year. From an Australian perspective we look forward to continuing to work with you.

 

            Rumsfeld: Thank you very much, Senator Hill. I'm delighted to be here. I did have to miss the first two of these conferences so this is a particular pleasure. We've just had a good discussion on our bilateral relationships as well as the broader problem of terrorism in the world and the cooperative arrangements we have in the global war on terror, the counter-proliferation initiative, and certainly our activities in both Afghanistan and Iraq. Both of our countries have suffered losses through terrorist actions and we certainly share a common interest in bringing all elements of national power to bear on this very difficult problem for the civilized world.

 

            Q:        [Inaudible] get into the politics [inaudible] --

 

            Rumsfeld: You're right. That was perceptive. [Laughter]

 

            Q:        [Inaudible]. How important [inaudible]?

 

            Rumsfeld: You didn't hear what the President said?

 

 

            Q:        Well, we'd like you to say it.

 

            Rumsfeld: I'll leave it to the President.

 

            Q:        Secretary Rumsfeld, could you respond to the [inaudible] what he said yesterday about wanting to get involved more actively in the [inaudible] against terrorism in this part of the world?

 

            Rumsfeld: Not really. Other than to say that the problem of extremists using terrorism as a weapon of choice is truly global in scope. We've seen that with attacks in this part of the world as well as in almost every other corner of the globe. Because the terrorist networks are global and the financing is global, it is important that we have a very broad coalition of countries cooperating, sharing intelligence, sharing law enforcement information, working together to track down and prevent terrorist attacks before they occur.

 

            Q:        Mr. Secretary, [inaudible] has a reputation as [inaudible]. What [inaudible]?

 

            Rumsfeld: I guess the fact is that since September 11th the United States working in other countries, the United Kingdom, Australia, some of the others, have fashioned one of the largest coalitions in the history of mankind, something in excess of 80 nations. The degree of cooperation that has taken place in the global war on terror has been amazing, if one thinks about it.

 

            The problems that the world is facing, civilized societies are facing is extremists and radicals are attempting to attack civil societies and destroy innocent men, women, and children. That is a problem that no one nation can deal with alone. It's a problem that requires the cooperation of dozens and dozens and dozens of nations. The cooperation, for example, of 80 nations plus in the global war on terror coupled with I believe it's 32 or 33 nations cooperating in Iraq right now; I think it's 26 nations cooperating in Afghanistan, suggests that people who indicate or suggest the unilateral approach can't count.

 

            Q:        Secretary Rumsfeld, the President told Prime Minister Howard that the U.S. would review the treatment of Australians at Guantanamo Bay, to see whether they've been ill-treated. Can you give us a timeline for that, and do you know of any evidence that they have been mistreated by the U.S.?

 

            Rumsfeld: I don't have any evidence that they have, but certainly the President is correct. That will be reviewed. And I hate to put timelines on things, but one would think it could be done [inaudible].

 

            Q:        Also there have been calls for more to be done [inaudible], short term. What more do you think needs to be done? Because on top of all the other initiatives [inaudible] for third country involvement along with [inaudible]?

 

            Rumsfeld: I've read some reports that I'm told are quite inaccurate about that subject, and the only thing I can say is that I've visited with Admiral Dorn who's around here, and Admiral Fargo. There he is. If you want some detailed information he can provide it. But the initiative that is currently being discussed by Admiral Dorn and others with the countries in the region is something that's in its infancy and there certainly would not be anything take place that did not occur with the full cooperation of any relevant country. There's no -- Someone wrote things about territorial waters and all of that. That's just utter nonsense. Unfortunate nonsense. Maybe even mischievous nonsense.

 

            Q:        [Inaudible] policy around the world. Do you see any big changes in East Asia or even some [inaudible] in whether the U.S. is looking at repositioning itself around the world?

 

            Rumsfeld: We're just in the, we've done a great deal of thinking about it and we have a set of concepts and principle and we're now working with our Congress and beginning the process of working with the countries of the world to find what makes sense from their standpoint.

 

            We have several principles. One is we want to have our forces where people want them. We have no desire to be where we're not wanted.

 

            Second, we don't want to be in a static defense mode. We want to be in a more agile arrangement where we're capable of using our capabilities in ways that will contribute to peace and stability in the world and not simply be stuck in a static position.

 

            If you think about it, some of our forces are kind of where they were left over from the Cold War and where it was reasonably easy to know where a threat might come from. Today a threat can come from any number of directions, so we need to have the flexibility and the agility to do that.

 

            Other things have changed as well. We certainly have, as a Pacific nation, we have an interest in this region, have for hundreds of years, and certainly we will maintain a capability here and close working relationships with our friends and allies.

 

            Q:        [Inaudible]?

 

            Rumsfeld: I am so old-fashioned that I leave it to other countries to characterize what it is they would like to do with this rather than our country characterizing it.

 

            Q:        [Inaudible]?

 

            Hill: Well, just now -- [Laughter]. The U.S. has kept us well informed of its thoughts and our interest has been that U.S. capabilities remain that can be provided in a different way now than was once the case provided the force projection capabilities continue to contribute to peace and stability in the region. Then we're satisfied. It's not for us to tell the U.S. how to do it. But if there are ways in which we can assist then we want to. The global super power obviously takes a primary responsibility. In this day and age we recognize that the U.S. can't do everything by itself and it's important for other states which share its values to play their part and carry a fair share of the load as well.

 

            Q:        So what additional commitments --

 

            Rumsfeld: I'm afraid I'm going to have to leave. I'll leave you here to answer the rest of the questions. The meeting's going to start in a few minutes.

 

            Hill: Thank you.