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Presenter: Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz Monday, October 15, 2001
Deputy Secretary Wolfowitz Media Availability with Italian Prime Minister
(Media availability at the Pentagon with Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi. Prime Minister Berlusconi's remarks are provided through a translator.)
Wolfowitz: Good morning. We just took the prime minister of Italy, Mr. Berlusconi, to view the crash site on the other side of the building. It's a great comfort to us to have allies with the commitment that Italy has to the cause of fighting terrorism. Italy is a country that has experienced terrorism in terrible ways itself, and we've had nothing but the strongest support from Prime Minister Berlusconi and his government. And we continue to talk to them about specific contributions that Italy can make to this effort.
We've seen over the last five or 10 years what a stalwart ally Italy has been in addressing a whole set of problems that we did not anticipate in the Balkans, and now we have another set of problems. And I can only say it's terrific to have allies like Italy at our side.
With that, I'll turn you over to the prime minister.
Berlusconi: Well, first of all, I'd like to thank you for the kind words that have been expressed by the representative of the American government. I came here to see what has happened in the Pentagon. And my presence here is just to pay tribute, my personal tribute, the tribute of my government and the tribute of my people to the victims of this tragic attack.
Well, in Italy, we felt this attack as if it had been an attack onto us. And it was an attack on those people who that morning came to work, came to their office to perform their duty without knowing that they had been condemned to death by a handful of fanatics that want to instill fear and insecurity in the whole world; but it was not just an attack on men and women, it was an attack on freedom, on our freedom, which is the greatest of all goods.
Freedom is the essence of man, is the essence of his heart, is the essence of his mind, of our capability of creating and loving. Freedom, to us, was and still is our philosophy. Freedom is our religion. Freedom is our flag. And freedom in the world has one irreplaceable bulwark, the United States of America.
Italy knows very well and remembers very well that it owes its freedom, its democracy, its well-being to the United States of America, who have contributed with so many young lives to our own freedom. And that's why I'm here today. I'm here today to bear witness and to guarantee our moral and material support in this fight against terrorism, in this fight against those who mastermind it, against those who perpetrate it, against those who harbor it.
Military officers are already in Tampa, they are already cooperating with the U.S. command, and they're discussing concrete ways in which we can support and give our support in terms of troops, in terms of naval air forces, in terms of air forces. And I am here in the United States to be with you in this fight against terrorism. It will be a long fight, but I'm sure that we will win. We will win by substituting fear with courage, by substituting resignation with determination. It's a long fight, but together, we will win.
Q: Mr. Secretary? Mr. Secretary, are you going to take questions?
Wolfowitz: Just a few. He's got to leave --
Q: Sir, there are reports again from the Taliban about a large number of casualties. And I'm wondering if the United States and its investigation has concluded that the 200 casualties that they cited in Karam had been verified?
Wolfowitz: I believe that the secretary and General Myers are going to be briefing this afternoon, so let me leave the operational questions to them.
If there's anything specifically for the prime minister on the subject of our cooperation with Italy, this would be the time to ask it.
Q: What did you ask Italy? What specifically are you asking Italy to do? What steps?
Wolfowitz: We have two Italian liaison officers now with our Central Command in Tampa, and we're discussing the kinds of contributions Italy can make both to the Central Command, which, as you know, operates in the Afghanistan/Persian Gulf region, but also possibly contributions elsewhere, including helping us in places where we're now finding ourselves stretched a bit thin.
Q: Can you, in a general sense, at least give us some idea of what you mean? What kind of help, what kind of --
Wolfowitz: I think until we've worked out the details, we'll give you some general sense when those are finalized.
Q: Italy will have a stronger engagement in Balkans?
Wolfowitz: Italy has played a very big role in the Balkans, and obviously, that's one of the places where we're feeling a certain amount of strain, so that's obviously a place where Italy might play a larger role. But I think Italy also can play a direct role in ongoing operation in a number of ways that we're investigating.
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