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Secretary Rumsfeld's Remarks at the Munich Conference on Security Policy

Presenter: Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld
February 04, 2006

Secretary Rumsfeld's Remarks at the Munich Conference on Security Policy

Munich, Germany

            SECRETARY RUMSFELD:  Thank you very much, Horst.  Appreciate your invitation. 

            Founder, Herr von Kleist, it’s always good to see you. 

 

            Ministers, distinguished ministers,

            Parliamentarians,

            Ladies and gentlemen,

            The representatives from the United States Congress, who I will be testifying before next week.  I look forward to seeing you, and hoping and praying for your enthusiastic response to the President’s budget.  

 

            It is certainly good to see Chancellor Merkel here in her new role and we certainly appreciated her successful visit to the United States and her thoughtful and important remarks today on the role of NATO and the transatlantic partnership.  The President of Georgia last evening made some important remarks which I appreciated about the march of freedom from his perspective and usefully commented on Belarus and other matters of importance to all of us.  

 

            It is said that America is somewhat unusual among nations, because most of our citizens trace their origins to somewhere else, whether Asia or Africa, or the Middle East, central or South America, and of course, particularly here in Europe.  A list of descendents of German immigrants would include such world-famous Americans as President Eisenhower, Elvis, and even Babe Ruth, to name but a few. 

            I mention this because often when we talk about relations between the United States and Europe, we tend to think of two truly separate entities.    But in a real sense we are a community, with shared histories, common values, and an abiding faith in democracy.   

 

            Today, there is a threat to our community  -- to our way of life.    Violent extremism is a danger posed as much to Europe as to America and elsewhere.   And, as during the Cold War, the struggle ahead promises to be a  “long war”  --  that will cause us all to recalibrate our strategies,  and perhaps further adjust some of our institutions,  and certainly work even closer together. 

 

            We have done a good deal since the “wake up call” of September 11, 2001.   We have begun an historic transformation of NATO, reached out in partnership to non-NATO nations, responded with compassion to the tsunami in Southeast Asia and to the devastating earthquake in Pakistan.   

 

            We are helping to battle determined enemies in Afghanistan and Iraq.

 

            Unlike previous struggles, the enemy today is not a country, or even one particular organization. While al Qaeda is the principal enemy, there are others that are equally dangerous. 

 

            Consider that before September 11, 2001, terrorists:

  • Hijacked an Air France jet;
  • Bombed several airplanes traveling to and from Europe, including the Lockerbie flight;
  • Attacked airports in Rome and Vienna; and,
  • Here in this city, kidnapped and killed some 11 Israeli Olympians. 

 

           And, since September 11, 2001, when 3,000 people were killed on a single day – not all Americans, I should add -- terrorists have murdered hundreds more in places like:

  • Karachi; and
  • Jerusalem;
  • Bali;
  • Casablanca;
  • Istanbul;
  • Madrid;
  • Beslan;
  • Jakarta;
  • Cairo; 
  • London.

 

           A war has been declared on our nations and on our people; and our futures depend on unity in what Chancellor Merkel has correctly labeled, quote “the greatest challenge to our security in the 21st century.”  Unquote.   

 

            The world’s great democracies  – anchored by NATO  – cannot become complacent in meeting this challenge.     

 

            Have no doubt  – the terrorists intend to kill still more of our people.  They have said so.  It’s important that we listen.

  • An al Qaeda operative in Afghanistan said of civilians in Europe and America. Quote:  “Their wives will be widowed,  and their children will be orphaned.”
  • A radical cleric said after the London bombings. Quote:  “I would like to see the Islamic flag fly, not only over Number 10 Downing Street,  but the whole world.”  Unquote.
  • The leader of the Khobar Towers attacks boasted. Quote. He said:  “We tied the infidel [a Briton] by one leg [behind the car] …  The infidel’s clothing was torn to shreds …  We found a Swedish infidel.    [We] cut off his head,  put it on a gate so that it would be seen by all those entering and exiting. . . . We found Filipino Christians…  and Hindu engineers and we cut their throats, too.”  Unquote.

 

          No fewer than 18 organizations  -- loosely affiliated with al-Qaeda  -- have conducted terrorist acts in such places such as Israel, Saudi Arabia,  Pakistan,  Somalia,  Algeria,  Russia,  and Indonesia.    And -- it is worth noting -- that those nations were attacked by terrorists even though none had forces in Iraq.    So that any argument that Iraq might have been a trigger is inconsistent with the facts. 

 

            According to their own words, they seek to take over governments from North Africa to South Asia and to re-establish a caliphate they hope, one day, will include every continent.    They have designed and distributed a map where national borders are erased and replaced by a global extremist empire. 

 

            Today, they call Iraq the central front in their war against the civilized world.    And they hope to turn it into the same sort of haven for training and recruitment that Afghanistan once served for al Qaeda. 

 

            That is their strategy.  

 

            But we and our friends and Allies have a strategy as well. 

  • First, to use all elements of national power to try to prevent them from obtaining weapons of mass destruction; 
  • Second, to defend our homelands, through sharing intelligence,  law-enforcement,  and more integrated homeland defense;  and 
  • Third, to help friendly nations increase their capabilities to fight terrorism in their own countries. 

 

            In Afghanistan, as our NATO mission moves south, we must give the Afghans the assistance they need to nurture their still new democracy.   

 

            In Iraq, the United States and our Allies have sent our very best men and women to help Iraqis build a government that is dramatically different from the regime it replaces.    We must help ensure that new government succeeds.  

 

            And in Iran, we must continue to work together to seek a diplomatic solution to stopping the development of an uranium enrichment program.   The Iranian regime is today the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism.    The world does not want  -- and must work together to avoid  --  a nuclear Iran.   

 

            While we oppose the actions of Iran’s regime, we stand with the Iranian people – the women and the young people -- who want a peaceful and democratic future.  They have no desire to see their country isolated from the rest of the civilized world.  

 

            In this long war, the enemy has tried to cast the struggle as a war between the West and the Muslim world.    In fact, it is not. It is more a war within the Muslim world.  Most of the people in the Middle East do not share the violent ideology of al-Qaeda or other violent extremists.  They don’t want the terrorists to prevail.    

 

            Many in the Middle East have been inspired by the example of some 50 million Muslims in the new democracies in Afghanistan and Iraq.  A recent survey shows that a large and growing number of Muslims believe freedom can work in their countries, and it shows that support is declining for al Qaeda and bin Laden.

 

            Surveys indicate that more than 80 percent of Afghans say their country is moving in the right direction.    Only 5 percent have a favorable view of bin Laden.  In Iraq, a growing majority wants a representative government. 

 

            We have an opportunity  -- an opening that we need to seize -- to help to write a new chapter in the history of freedom while these enemies are on the defensive.       

This is  -- as it has been for decades  --  a time to work closely together.    No nation can succeed in the War on Terror without the close cooperation with other nations.     

 

            Working together, our tasks ahead are to:

  • Certainly work to make the Proliferation Security Initiative a success.   Consider how markedly our world would change, overnight, if a handful of terrorists managed to obtain and launch a chemical, biological, or a radiological weapon in Munich,  Paris,  or New York; 
  • To help countries like Georgia train their security forces, and work with nations in the Caucasus and Central Asia through the increasingly important Partnership for Peace programs; and
  • To continue to transform NATO for the 21st Century, to invest in the NATO Response Force,  to increase common funding,  to encourage NATO to develop an expeditionary culture and capability.

 

            This commitment cannot be done on the cheap.   It’s always easier for all of us to use our scarce tax dollars to meet some of the desires and appetites we have at home.   But unless we invest in defense and security, the reality is that our homelands can be at risk.    

 

            Today 3.7 percent of the gross domestic product of the United States goes towards our national defense and the defense of our friends and Allies – 3.7 percent.   Only six of our 25 NATO allies spend even 2 percent or more of their GDP on defense, and 19 Allies – I repeat, 19 NATO allies – do not even spend 2 percent.    Without the U.S. contribution to NATO, the nations collectively spend only 1.8 percent, down from 1.9 percent over the last two years.    It is unlikely that these levels of investment will prove to be sufficient to protect the free people of our NATO nations in the decades ahead.

 

            And this is in my view flies in the face of the reality that the availability of weapons of greatly increased lethality is growing.  I suggest that we need to carefully consider together where this dangerous trend could take us.

 

            In many ways, this war is different from any we have ever fought.   But in other ways, our situation today resembles that of free nations in the early days of the Cold War.   Over the course of what President Kennedy called “a long twilight struggle,” our countries disagreed on some things from time to time.   But fortunately for us, and for our children, and for their children, we did not lose our will  -- over many decades -- and through many changes in political leadership in all of our countries -- political leadership of all political parties.

 

            Our free nations did not waver when the Premier of the Soviet Union, Nikita Khrushchev,  promised to  “bury” us.    Nor when he predicted that our grandchildren would live under communism.   Quite the contrary.   

 

            Today we live in a world where the son of Nikita Khrushchev has chosen to become an American citizen.   

 

            And where a woman raised in this country’s communist East  -- where the state decided where you could work, what you could read, whether you could pray  -- is now the newly elected Chancellor of a united and democratic Federal Republic of Germany. 

 

            I’m told that Chancellor Merkel has said,  “I did not expect to live in a free society before I reached the age of retirement."  As we consider those words, we note that the Cold War was not won through fate or good luck.   

 

            Freedom prevailed because our free people demonstrated resolve when retreat would have been easier, showed courage when concession seemed simpler and more attractive.   

 

            Today, our countries also have a choice to make.    We could choose to pretend, as some suggest, that the enemy is not at our doorstep.    We could choose to believe, as some contend, that the threat is exaggerated.     

 

            But those who would follow such a course must ask:  what if they are wrong?    What if at this moment, the enemy is counting on being underestimated, counting on being dismissed, counting on our pre-occupation with other domestic matters. 

 

            Ultimately, history teaches that success depends on will.   So let us today speak with one voice:

  • To those who murder children; 
  • To those who kidnap diplomats; 
  • To those who behead aid workers; 
  • To those who slaughter journalists; and

 

            Let us warn them not to mistake periodic differences for disunity, or our respect for life as a fear of fighting.   

 

            Let us continue to show them that the nations of this great alliance will meet the threatening peril of our age.   

 

            And that liberty, the legacy of our forefathers and the right of our children, will not, by us, be idly surrendered or bargained away but rather will live and endure for generations to come.

            Thank you very much.   

 

            TELTSCHIK:  Thank you Mr. Secretary for your very clear-cut speech as always addressing a further topic which will confront us during the whole conference as well – this is terrorism, and how to deal with it.  Ladies and gentlemen, the Secretary is now ready to take questions.  The first one is Kolinda Grabar Kitarovic, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Croatia.

 

            FOREIGN MINISTER KITAROVIC:  Thank you very much, and thank you Mr. Secretary for this very inspiring speech.  Thank you. 

            Croatia has just recently begun negotiations on accession to the European Union.  For us the process of accession to the EU and the process of accession to NATO is complementary for very similar reasons and for many reasons of security and stability in Europe, and because of the importance of the transatlantic relationship.   We believe that, we hope that, based on the results of the reform processes in Croatia and in our neighborhood we will get an invitation to begin accession negotiations to join NATO as soon as possible, and as I said, the two processes are complementary and running parallel to each other.  Why?  Because it is about shared values.  It’s about the values of democracy, of stability and peace; but also it’s because of responsibility, the shared responsibility, and Croatia having been able to resolve a lot of issues left from the conflict from the 90s, now really wants to take an increased role, an increased responsibility in the stability and peace and security of southeastern Europe but also in the global security.  And for this, the transatlantic relationship is of paramount importance.  In addition to the existence of an interconnected European community of nations integrated in the European Union, there has always been an overwhelmingly strong case for being able to talk about a Euro-Atlantic community of like-minded nations.  A distinct European-North American community of values and interests, the strategic link is embodied in NATO.  A credible European defense structure developed and managed ambitiously, realistically, without an eventual duplication of resources can only contribute to NATO, to its functioning and striking of a better transatlantic balance.  The EU needs to keep increasing the range of instruments at its disposal, matching its ambitions with the willingness to actually equip itself with the necessary means.  We have to look at NATO as a credible collective defense system, an adaptable and transformable alliance linking strategic allies of Europe and North America and forging together different national armed forces making an interoperable able to act jointly in a highly demanding security environment, characterized increasingly by multinational operations responding to challenges of the modern world and of globalization.  In conclusion, in supporting your statement of the necessity to speak in the common language, I would like to underline the willingness of Croatia and of our neighbors to contribute to the stability, the global stability, and perhaps to hear your reflections on how you see the integration of the area of southeastern Europe in NATO and the collective security system.  Thank you.

 

            TELTSCHIK: Thank you, Mrs. Secretary.  Do you want to respond immediately, or should we collect? 

 

            SECRETARY RUMSFELD: That’s fine. Collect.

 

            TELTSCHIK:  Then I take two other ones. The next one is Dick Holbrooke.

 

            HOLBROOKE:  Mr. Secretary, there has been much discussion on the sidelines of the conference about the enlarging role of NATO, and I think everyone is very pleased about the emerging role in Afghanistan. The issue of Darfur is a little more muddled.  We recognize and I am very pleased to see it, that NATO has begun to do a few things in Darfur.  On the other hand, the situation in Darfur is dramatically worse than it was a year ago.  The African Union effort has failed.  It is probably the scene of the most deaths in the world on a daily basis of any conflict right now.  There have been suggestions in the press that NATO take a larger role, that the UN replace the AU.  Two days in the Washington Post, someone wrote a column calling for a no-fly zone to be enforced by NATO.  Can you reflect, first of all, on what you think NATO ought to do in Darfur; and secondly, your long-term vision of NATO as it goes into areas like Afghanistan and Africa which were previously unthinkable? 

 

            TELTSCHIK:  Thank you, Dick.  I have a lot of interventions now. I think it’s good enough for the Secretary because we are a little bit…  We have to stick to our agenda.  The next one is Pierre Lellouche from France, member of the Parliament.

 

            LELLOUCHE:  Mr. Secretary, two brief questions. The French President announced a few weeks ago a reference to the French nuclear doctrine with respect to mass terrorism and proliferation.  Now this statement was criticized by both Iran and by the left-wing German representative, the German opposition.  I would like to know, what is the American position concerning the risks in the world that you have mentioned, here concerning nuclear power?  Secondly, as President of the Assembly of NATO, I was rather surprised to hear what the previous PM of Spain, Aznar, said concerning expanding NATO to Japan, even Israel and various other countries, Australia.  A number of these questions have been raised indeed by Mr. Scheffer, the current Secretary-General of NATO, so do you see this as a global alliance now, NATO as opposed to as you say, a Euro-American one, and will it now become a planetary security alliance, NATO?  Thank you for answering those questions, Mr. Secretary. 

            TELTSCHIK: Thank you, Pierre. You should respond now. 

 

            SECRETARY RUMSFELD:  Maybe I will begin with the last one and gracefully work my way up towards some of the others.

 

            The question about Japan and Australia is an unusual construct, and I accept that.  NATO is thought of as a Euro-Atlantic organization.  On the other hand, when one thinks of what NATO is currently doing in Afghanistan, a significant activity outside of the NATO treaty area, outside of Europe, and making an important contribution in an important part of the world, it is clear that the old NATO of NATO defending the NATO treaty area, is a NATO of the past. And the new NATO is a NATO that recognizes that there are threats and problems and challenges that face the world that are global in nature.  If one thinks about terrorism, it is a global problem.  The problem of counter-proliferation is clearly a global problem  -- and it is enormously important to the NATO nations and the Euro-Atlantic partnership nations.   I would submit that a linkage of some kind with the countries of Japan Australia would make sense, that they can be helpful in assisting and cooperating in some of these global problems.  Indeed if you think about it, Australia has been very helpful and working closely with some of the NATO nations in Afghanistan for several years now. 

 

            The question from Mr. Holbrooke on Darfur and NATO’s possible role, I understand is something that is being discussed in Europe and in NATO.  How that will evolve, I don’t know.  The NATO nations -- NATO is the premier security alliance on the face of the earth.  It has capabilities to do things, and those capabilities are improving.  If the NATO Response Force is able to be stood up and become operational and if we are able to develop common funding so that it can be deployable, exercised and used as appropriate and as agreed by the member countries; and if the competencies that exist within NATO can be used to advantage in other parts of the world, NATO can make that decision and undertake those.  I have no idea what the decisions will be in respect to Darfur, but I do know that they are currently being discussed in NATO.

 

            Madame Minister, I share your interest in having Croatia move closer to NATO and look forward to that. I think my quick response to your question would be that I agree with Chancellor Merkel’s characterization of the role of NATO, and think that that is the model, and that is the direction that will benefit us all to the greatest extent.

 

            TELTSCHIK: Thank you, Mr. Secretary. Ladies and gentlemen, I will give you the next speakers only three minutes to speak. I have a traffic light here. As long as it is green, you can speak. If it gets yellow, it means: please come to an end.  And if it is read, then you should have finished already.

            The next one is Eduard Kukan, Minister for Foreign Affairs from Slovakia.

 

            MINISTER KUKAN:  Thank you very much, Mr. Teltschik.  I would like to speak about the transatlantic dialogue.  There are three forums for this now. It’s NATO-EU, it’s NATO itself, and the EU-USA.  Of course, there is a natural tendency to say that the EU-United States is the platform for the future but I think that each of those three institutions, which I mentioned is important, is relevant, and all three of them are complementary.  One would expect that because many countries are members of both NATO and EU, that there will be positive, constructive dialogue between them.  But it seems to us in Slovakia, being a new member state of both NATO and EU, that there is very little real political dialogue between NATO and the EU – European Union.  We feel uncomfortable about that and we think that it would be very appropriate to strengthen the maybe informal, or maybe formal, dialogue because simply that’s what we are lacking now.  There are many issues, which should be discussed in this format, in this forum, and I would very much like to speak in favor of that.  And I would also like to hear the Secretary’s comments on that.

 

            TELTSCHIK:  Thank you, Mr. Kukan.  The next one is Mr. Wolsey.  Where is he? 

 

            WOLSEY: I was asking to speak this afternoon on Iraq.

 

            TELTSCHIK: Okay, fine Mr. Wolsey.  Then, Mr. Nachtwei, member of the German Parliament.

 

            NACHTWEI:  Mr. Secretary, in your speech you focused on the threat from international terrorism, which of course can only be handled together.  I would like to pick up what Chancellor Merkel said, and of course, there is a question here of having an open dialogue between partners. Question number one. The aim of the operation Iraq Freedom was of course to stem international terrorism and to pay a contribution to this.  I would now like to ask you, how would you assess the situation now.  We have the impression sometimes that of course Iraq, thank goodness, no longer has this dictator but at the same time, it has become a training and recruitment and operation area for terrorists, not only from Iraq but from other countries.   This is the problem we see.  So that is my first question. 

 

            Secondly, the U.S. administration has explicitly referred to a war against freedom.  Now you refer to a long war against terrorism that is a slightly different nuance.  Now Chancellor Merkel referred to the fact that in fighting against international terrorism, military violence is possible, and indeed maybe necessary as the final means.  I would like to ask you the following question.  These different descriptions of the fight against terrorism, do you really think that this needs to be discussed between the U.S. and the European alliances. 

 

            TELTSCHIK: Now Bob Hunter.

 

            BOB HUNTER:  Thank you very much.  Mr. Secretary, one of your major legacies has to do with transformation, not only of American forces but also forces in the alliance, especially with the good work done by Allied Command Transformation.  But as you know, one of the significant difficulties there is within the alliance has to do with the transfer of technologies, one way and the other across the Atlantic.  In fact some people fear a hollowing-out of the alliance and a growing difficulty of fighting together. A lot of this comes out of the House of Representatives.  I know there are concerns about it, concerns about the protection of high technology when it gets to the hands of certain allies.  I wonder if this is an area where you could perhaps take the leadership, perhaps with the Congress, to try to work out some kind of new code of conduct across the Atlantic with the Alliance, with the European Union, with companies, with governments, to come out with something so that NATO can indeed gain the very best of what the United States has to offer, and we can gain the very best of Europe, so that we can have a NATO capable of fighting together in the way that you suggest. 

 

            TELTSCHIK: Thank you, Bob.  I cannot agree more, Secretary, with what he said. 

 

            SECRETARY RUMSFELD: Is that the role of a chairman?  (Laughter) I am stunned, shocked.

 

            This cumulating questions is difficult. It also has an advantage. You can kind of pick and choose.  I will take the last one first again because it is fresh in my mind.

 

            I agree.  It’s a complicated problem.  It’s important that we have technologies available to NATO member so that we can function together and have a vastly more capable force because of our ability to operate together.  It is a problem. You are quite right. In our Congress, we have rules that are passed that restrict what we can do and we have discussions with them about those from time to time; and they get adjusted, as circumstances evolve.  It’s never perfect but it is certainly a direction that I think our country is moving, and I suspect other countries as well. 

 

            With respect to the first question, not being a member of the EU, I don’t know that I am the perfect person to be opining as to exactly what those interactions ought to be.  Clearly from our standpoint, as a member of NATO, we see NATO as the organization where the transatlantic partnership can discuss the things of strategic importance to all of our nations.  There is a large overlap of NATO countries with EU countries, and clearly there is going to be discussion between the EU countries that are outside of NATO and the ones that are inside of NATO with NATO as an organization from time to time.  But it is enormously important that our countries be working off the same sheet of music, that we have a common understanding of the nature of the world, the nature of the threats and our different views, and that we benefit and learn from each other because behavior comes from what you believe. And once you have sorted through things together, as we do in NATO, you tend to begin finding a consensus and moving out in a direction that is constructive from the standpoint of all the members.  So without that kind of dialogue and discussion, it is less likely to happen.

 

            The other question in the middle was: Oh, Iran being --- Iran is the central – Iraq is the central front of the current war. That is quite correct. I think it was here. And they’ve announced it – the terrorists, the al Quaeda have announced that at the present time Iran is the central front in their conflict. A lot of pressure is being put on them. At some point in the period ahead it will no longer be the central front. They will move their area of operations someplace else and continue to struggle and in my view it will be a long war. I don’t know how long. No one knew how long the Cold War would last. And clearly it is not going to be dealt with by military means alone. It is not going be dealt with by kinetics ultimately. Where it is a struggle that is taking place within that religion and we need to find ways in my view to support the moderates in that religion that are the overwhelming majority and find ways to assist them and see that we can strengthen their capabilities as partners in this effort because there are people who are determined to not negotiate, to continue to try to attract people into this business of using terror to alter the behavior of free people. And it is something that – it is not new in history, but certainly what is taking place today is new in history. And it is particularly dangerous because of the increasing lethality of weapons and the availability of weapons. And as I say in my remarks, we are on notice. We have in my view no choice whatsoever except to accept the threat and arrange ourselves to this large worldwide coalition so that we can put continued pressure on the terrorists networks, make everything they are doing more difficult for them, more difficult to raise money, to recruit people, to move, to talk, to plan and train and put so much pressure on them that it becomes less attractive and less successful and the world becomes a safer place.

 

            Thank you, Mr. Secretary.  I cannot take further interventions.  I am really sorry. We have the last three for raising their short questions. The next one is the Foreign Minister of Romania, Mr. Ungureanu. Please.

 

            FOREIGN MINISTER UNGUREANU: Thank you. Mr. Secretary, you have for a long time dwelled upon the agenda of NATO. The more countries from the Eastern parts of the continent draw together with the allies within NATO, the more parts of their agenda are becoming subjects on the agenda of NATO. In this context because Romania and Bulgaria joined NATO not such a long time ago: I would like to ask you : What is your opinion about how should the Black Sea problems on security be reflected on NATO’s agenda. Thank you,

 

            SECRETARY RUMSFELD: Thank you. I am told that I may have misspoke when I said that the central front in the war on terror – I meant to say “Iraq”. If I did not, I should have. It is certainly Iraq.

The new members of NATO, I think, have brought a great deal to the institution and a lot of energy, a fresh perspective of people who have more recently lived in a circumstance where they were denied freedom. And the benefit, the contributions of the newer members, I think, are important and valuable to all of the older members. For myself I think the Black Sea is important. I recognize it is important to a number of the members of the NATO alliance. And obviously the importance also for the other countries that are not NATO members who border the Black Sea and to the extent there are global issues that affect the Black Sea, and global threats that can be manifested there certainly is an appropriate thing for NATO and the other countries that border the Black Sea to discuss and be interested in.

 

            TELTSCHIK: Would you, are you satisfied?

 

            FOREIGN MINISTER UNGUREANU: Frankly speaking….

 

            SECRETARY RUMSFELD: Wait a second. Are you going to start asking everyone if they are satisfied with my answers? (Laughter)  That would be a terrible thing. It is not fair.

 

            TELTSCHIK:  I apologize.

 

            SECRETARY RUMSFELD: I object.

 

            TELTSCHIK:  I apologize

 

            (Inaudible)

 

            TELTSCHIK: OK. That is fine. The next one is Mr. Perthes who is the chairman of a German think tank.

 

            PERTHES: Thank you very much. Given that it is not only that we have problems in the Persian Gulf with the behavior of certain countries there, but that these countries also all have security concerns and some of them may very well feel threatened if they look on the geopolitical map and find themselves surrounded by foreign troops. Would it not be time to start talking about regional security – again. And the Saudi Foreign Minister the other week quite recently has proposed something like a Gulf security framework involving all the countries in the Persian Gulf plus the P-5. Now my question to you, Secretary, is: Would you support that either the G-8 or NATO would positively respond to that suggestion of the Saudi Foreign Minister – probably take it up and maybe actually engage the countries and finding some form of security framework which also of course would involve the P-5 and other external interests. Thank you.

 

            TELTSCHIK: Thank you. The very last and short question by Mr. Kosachev, Russian Duma and Chairman of the Foreign Committee.

 

            KOSACHEV: Thank you, thank you very much. Mr. Secretary of Defense, last week, we, the European parliamentarians, had our Ordinary January Session of the parliamentary assembly of the Council of Europe in Strasbourg. And the key issue of discussion was the alleged CIA detention centers in Europe. And as you maybe know we have decided to continue that discussion during our next session. And by that time we are expecting some specific answers from some specific European countries who – which may be involved in that situation. But unfortunately we had and will not have any opportunity to put questions to any American representative on that issue. So if you could be so kind to give a more specific answer on that issue whether these detention centers have existed, if they exist now, and what the situation is about. Thank you.

 

            TELTSCHIK: Thank you Mr. Secretary, please. 

 

            SECRETARY RUMSFELD: Did he say what I would like to respond to that? (Laughter)

 

            KOSACHEV: Would you be so kind.

 

            SECRETARY RUMSFELD: Would you be so kind. My impression is that Secretary of State Rice was here last week, I believe, and responded in some detail to that question. And I do not know that there is anything I could add to her response. I thought she did it very well. And it is not something that involves the Department of Defense. She spoke on behalf of the country and I think I just assume let it sit right there.

 

            With respect to the earlier question on the Persian Gulf: My recollection is that the GCC – the Gulf Coordinating Council – was in fact fashioned in its early iteration as a security in a way for countries in that part of the world to come together and cooperate from a security standpoint. I certainly agree with the implication of the question that there is a good deal of interest on the part of countries in the Gulf about security and their circumstance. And I think that they  -- we have been talking with them about that, including NATO. It is a part of the world that is important to all of our countries, and it is a part of the world that affects our economies very directly. And certainly the kinds of discussions, I think, that you were suggesting, could very likely be useful discussions. The fact that they came together some years back – I have forgotten when it was – when the GCC was formed, but the fact that they have already taken that step and now are interested in discussing other things – well, I think, that is probably a useful and a prudent thing to be doing.

 

            TELTSCHIK: Fine. Thank you, Mr. Secretary for your as always very refreshing performance here. I wish you good luck for your budget next week and we are looking forward to see you once here again.