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Presenter: Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld Thursday, October 4, 2001
(Press availability following meeting with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak at Ittihadiya Palace, Cairo, Egypt)
Rumsfeld: We have just had an excellent meeting with the president, and then enjoyed a dinner with him and had more discussions. As you know, President Bush asked me to come to the region to meet with a number of the leaders and it was important that I be here to see President Mubarak. We talked a good deal about the problem of international terrorism and how the damage that was done in the United States, and the thousands of lives lost, and the importance of fighting and combating terrorists and terrorist networks in the world. We talked about the Middle East peace process and the importance of that and the hope that the Mitchell plan will be implemented. We renewed a friendship that began back when President Mubarak was first named as Vice President for President Sadat when I was chief of staff of the White House for President Ford when we first met and have met a number of times since. I would be happy to respond to a few questions.
Q: I would like to ask if you are satisfied with Egypt's contribution especially when Mubarak said today that Egypt would not be involved in any military actions?
Rumsfeld: We're certainly satisfied with the very important relationship that the United States and Egypt have. You used the words "with this coalition," suggesting that there is a singular coalition, which of course is not the case. Well no, there are many coalitions. We recognize that each country has a distinctive situation and a different perspective and we want to cooperate with countries in ways that they want to cooperate with us. On the fundamental issue, there is no question but that President Mubarak and President Bush are of like mind, that the problem of terrorism is a very serious one and one that we all know is something that is very difficult to defend against; which means that the only way to deal with it is to go at it where it is. President Bush is determined to do that in a broad sustained effort that includes political, diplomatic, military, and financial aspects.
Q: Mr. Secretary, in the event of your attack on Afghanistan, if or when you do that, and Osama bin Laden is not killed or captured or handed over to you, what happens then?
Rumsfeld: First let me say that while there is no question but that that individual is a serious problem to the world, that if he were gone the problem would remain. There are any number of lieutenants in the al Qaeda organization and there are any number of other terrorist networks that exist, all of which are a danger to free people across the globe. (Just one second.) The chances of any military action affecting any single terrorist it seems to me is modest, which is why the president has indicated that this is an effort that will have to be sustained over a long period of time, and I have a feeling that rather than a cruise missile or a bomb, it's more likely that a scrap of intelligence information will be the thing that will help roll up these terrorist networks.
Q: What makes you think that there are any terrorists left in Afghanistan? Why not Miami, for example?
Rumsfeld: Well then we'll look in Miami.
Q: Did you present any proof to the Egyptians implicating bin Laden like you did with your NATO allies and with Pakistan?
Rumsfeld: There is absolutely no doubt that the al Qaeda network was involved in the terrorist attacks on the United States that killed thousands of people.
Q: In light of conflicting reports about the existence of bin Laden in Afghanistan, could you tell us if the American strike will target bin Laden where he is even if he is in an Arab country?
Rumsfeld: We don't discuss any possible military operations.
Q: In light of your military cooperation next week will your troops continue to be present in the area? (Inaudible)
Rumsfeld: I have adopted a very simple policy that each country is cooperating in the various coalitions that are concerned about the problem of terrorism and they are doing so in their own way. And rather than for me try to characterize how any other country is contributing, I think it is best that we leave it to each country to characterize it for themselves. But, the support across the globe has been overwhelming. There is no question that there is a deep understanding that terrorists and the terrorists' networks and the nations that harbor terrorists are a great danger to this world. If one thinks about it, thousands of people were killed in New York and in Washington. At the point where these terrorist networks get their hands on the weapons of mass destruction it won't be thousands, it will be many more. And people who are concerned about this planet, and concerned about their countries and concerned about their people, must take notice.
Thank you very much.
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