Rumsfeld Favors Additional Foreign Troops in Iraq
Rumsfeld Favors Additional Foreign Troops in Iraq
Defense secretary's Nov. 10 Foreign Press Center briefing
U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld is heading to Asia November 12 with the hope that additional countries will commit troops to Iraq.
During a November 10 briefing at the Foreign Press Center in Washington, Rumsfeld said: "I would like to see a lot of troops from other countries.... I think it's important for other countries to have a commitment to Iraq and to the success in Iraq."
But, he emphasized, "we don't want it to be countries that don't want to be there or countries that don't want to have larger numbers there, because we feel people ought to do that which they believe is in their best interest."
Nonetheless, he added, the United States wants "more countries committed to the success of Iraq, because we want Iraq to succeed."
"As we replace U.S. forces serving in Iraq, beginning next year, the level of coalition and U.S. forces will depend on the security situation on the ground and also on the pace at which Iraqi forces, security forces, are able to assume additional responsibilities," the Defense Secretary explained.
Rumsfeld stressed that the "goal is not to reduce the number of U.S. forces in Iraq. It's not to develop an exit strategy. Our exit strategy in Iraq is success. It's that simple."
U.S. expectations, he said, "are the same for every country, and that is that they'll do what they believe to be in their best interest, and we look forward to working with those countries that do so."
Some 32 countries are now participating in Iraq, with 90 countries participating in the global war on terror. "So, we have a very broad-based set of coalitions which are bringing strengths to the work that's being done in both Afghanistan and Iraq, as well as the global war on terror overall," the secretary said.
Rumsfeld will be visiting officials in Japan and South Korea during his upcoming trip. He noted that over the past several years, Japan has taken steps to evolve the role that its military plays in international security matters. These include sending an engineering battalion to East Timor, providing at-sea refueling for coalition ships in Operation Enduring Freedom, and cooperating with the United States in developing missile defense.
"These decisions have created opportunities for the United States and Japan to adjust our alliance and to share ideas about how to transform and improve our capabilities to deal with the distinctly different 21st century threats," the defense secretary said. "We will be talking about those opportunities, as well as the work we are doing together in Afghanistan and Iraq."
In the Republic of Korea, Rumsfeld and his delegation will be participating in the annual U.S.-Republic of Korea consultative meeting.
"In October," the defense secretary said, "the United States and the Republic of Korea marked the 50th anniversary of our mutual defense treaty. Five decades later, the U.S. and ROK alliance is strong and it is healthy. U.S. and Korean forces are serving side by side in the cause of freedom in both Iraq and in Afghanistan. Korea has sent an engineering battalion and a medical company to both countries." Rumsfeld noted that the Republic of Korea has pledged some $200 million over the next four years to support operations in Iraq. Japan, he said, has pledged a total of $5 billion for Iraq.
Both sides will be examining the current U.S-South Korea alliance structure to "transform it to meet the 21st century threats," Rumsfeld said. "This includes expanding the role of ROK defense forces in defense of the peninsula and in consolidating U.S. forces around key hubs. While the size and shape of the U.S. footprint in the region and the world will evolve, as it always has, one thing will not change, and that is our strong commitment to the defense of South Korea. Our goal is to reinforce deterrence and to position the alliance for the period ahead."
U.S. forces, he said, "have been designed and structured to serve as a deterrent to North Korea, which has a very large army, which has a lot of special forces, which has a navy, which has ballistic missiles, and which has been recently making statements about its other military capabilities with respect to weapons of mass destruction. And the reason we're there and the reason we've been there and the reason we will be there prospectively is to serve as a deterrent force with the Republic of Korea, to create a more peaceful Northeast Asian environment."
Following is a transcript of the briefing, as released by the Department of Defense:
U.S. Department of Defense News
Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld
Monday, November 10, 2003 - 1:02 p.m. EST
SEC. RUMSFELD: Thank you very much.
Later this week, I will be -- I think on Wednesday, I'll be traveling to Asia to visit with U.S. troops and to thank them for the important work they're doing in the region. We'll also be having meetings with two key allies in Japan and the Republic of Korea to discuss the arrangements we have with them and our close cooperation in the global war on terror.
Over the past several years, Japan has taken steps to evolve their role that their military plays in international security matters: sending an engineering battalion to East Timor, providing at- sea refueling for coalition ships in Operation Enduring Freedom and working with us to develop missile defense. These decisions have created opportunities for the United States and Japan to adjust our alliance and to share ideas about how to transform and improve our capabilities to deal with the distinctly different 21st century threats. We will be talking about those opportunities, as well as the work we are doing together in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Japan is, needless to say, an important country and a close and long-standing friend of the United States. We have many shared strategic interests and common values. And working together, our two nations can contribute to peace and stability, to the great benefit of our people and to the world.
We will then visit Korea for the annual U.S.-Republic of Korea consultative meeting. In October the United States and the Republic of Korea marked the 50th anniversary of our mutual defense treaty. Five decades later, the U.S. and ROK alliance is strong and it is healthy. U.S. and Korean forces are serving side by side in the cause of freedom in both Iraq and in Afghanistan. Korea has sent an engineering battalion and a medical company to both countries.
Today we're working together to examine the structure of our alliance and how we can make it even stronger and transform it to meet the 21st century threats. This includes expanding the role of ROK defense forces in defense of the peninsula and in consolidating U.S. forces around key hubs. While the size and shape of the U.S. footprint in the region and the world will evolve, as it always has, one thing will not change, and that is our strong commitment to the defense of South Korea. Our goal is to reinforce deterrence and to position the alliance for the period ahead.
Before I turn to questions, a word about Iraq. As we replace U.S. forces serving in Iraq, beginning next year, the level of coalition and U.S. forces will depend on the security situation on the ground and also on the pace at which Iraqi forces, security forces, are able to assume additional responsibilities. But let me be clear. The goal is not to reduce the number of U.S. forces in Iraq. It's not to develop an exit strategy. Our exit strategy in Iraq is success. It's that simple.
The objective is not to leave, the objective is to succeed in our mission. That's why we remain on the offense, doing -- going after the terrorists and regime remnants, rooting them out and capturing them. And we're doing so with the help of a growing number of Iraqis, who are participating in the defense of their country.
In the period ahead, we will be accelerating the training of Iraqi forces, with the objective of going from the level today, which is 118,000 Iraqis in the Army, police, site protection, civil defense and border patrols, 118,000 Iraqis under arms, to somewhere in excess of 220,000 sometime during the year 2004
Some have suggested that we may have moved too quickly in training and deploying Iraqi forces. It's true, they do not have the same training that coalition forces do, but they bring capabilities that coalition forces do not, capabilities that make them particularly effective.
First, they're Iraqis. They speak the language, they know the culture, they know the people, and they can gain intelligence and develop situational awareness that coalition forces serving even for a year cannot hope to achieve.
Second, because they are Iraqis, they can do things that are more difficult for coalition forces; for example, such as entering mosques and holy sites.
But their role is important in another sense. They are fighting and sacrificing for the freedom of their own country. More than 86 Iraqis have already been killed in battle in the past few months, and more than 150 have been wounded. When young Iraqis study the history of Iraq's liberation, they will read that foreign troops were not the only ones who fought and died for the liberation of the 23 million Iraqi people; that Iraqis struggled and sacrificed for their country's freedom as well. And that's important for the future of Iraq.
The Ba'athist remnants and their foreign terrorist allies are not at war just with the coalition, they are at war with their own people, and it's a war they will lose.
I'd be happy to respond to questions.
MR. DENIG: Okay, let's start right up front here. Yeah, right there.
QUESTION: Akio Mikya (ph), Tokyo Broadcasting. As you know, yesterday, Japanese ruling party, including Prime Minister Koizumi, won their election. So, if you don't mind, first of all, please give us a comment on that.
SEC. RUMSFELD: I couldn't imagine what I could say. The -- (laughter) -- Japan's a democracy, just like our country is a democracy, and the people speak; they go to the voting booths and they cast their ballots. And it's a wonderful system, democracy. I'm for it.
MR. DENIG: Let's take the next question here.
Q: Thank you, Mr. Secretary, my name is Toshi Kamatsi (ph). I'm with Fuji TV, Japan. My question is a follow-up question to him. It's about the general election in Japan. Some critics are saying now that the Koizumi cabinet -- Koizumi's coalition lost some seats, and now opposition party took more seats than before. And some critics are saying that Junichiro Koizumi's going to face a tough time soon, whether or not they should dispatch the self-defense force to Iraq. So, what is your expectation at this point, and could you give us your opinion? Thank you.
SEC. RUMSFELD: Well, you know, in any election, there are a lot of issues. And while I have been interested in and involved with Japan -- goodness, for close to 40 years now -- I've made many trips there and back in the 1960s, co-founded the Japanese-American Parliamentary Exchange, as a matter of fact, and -- but I am -- it's not for me to comment on what one or two or three issues happen to have an effect.
And in terms of our expectations, our expectations are the same for every country, and that is that they'll do what they believe to be in their best interest, and we look forward to working with those countries that do so. We have now, I think, some, oh, 32 countries participating in Iraq, and we have 90 countries participating in the global war on terror. So, we have a very broad-based set of coalitions which are bringing strengths to the work that's being done in both Afghanistan and Iraq, as well as the global war on terror overall.
MR. DENIG: All right. Let's got the second row here.
Q: Hi. I'm -- (name inaudible) -- TV Asahi. Japanese government is merely concerned about security in Iraq. What comments do you have in light of the Japanese government's concern?
SEC. RUMSFELD: Well, I think everyone's concerned about security in Iraq. One of the terrible things that's happening is that the terrorists are killing innocent men, women and children, and they're overwhelmingly Iraqis. They're killing their own people. And so, one has to be concerned about that. It is a situation that is really quite stable in the north and quite stable in the west and the south. And there's an area in the Baghdad area in the central area and north, in a triangle up towards Tikrit, where, I don't know, maybe 90 percent of all the incidents occur.
And if our forces -- I talked this morning with General Abizaid and General Sanchez. They have been aggressively conducting patrols and raids, and they have captured in the recent week -- I've forgotten what the number is, but it's a large number. (Aside.) Do you remember what --
STAFF (?): (Inaudible.)
SEC. RUMSFELD: Yeah. It's a large number of terrorists and Ba'athists. And they feel that the problem is in control, which is not to say that a terrorist can't attack at any time, at any place, using any technique.
So, no matter which country it is, the person on the offensive has the advantage because it's not possible to defend at every location, at every time, against every technique. So I'm afraid that it's a dangerous business, and it will be something we'll work our way through and ultimately we'll succeed, with the help of, as I say, a growing number of Iraqi security forces.
MR. DENIG: Second row, second person.
Q: Ki-Yon Kuk with the Segye Times. Are you asking South Korea to send combat troops to Iraq? If so, how many, and when and where?
SEC. RUMSFELD: What we've done, uniformly for all the countries, was to go out to something in excess of a hundred nations and ask for their assistance in both Afghanistan and in Iraq. Large numbers of countries have come forward to provide, in many cases, forces, some 32 countries now have forces on the ground, and many more countries have assisted with respect to money and humanitarian assistance and the like.
We've always believed that countries have to make that judgment themselves. They have to look at their own circumstance. So we tend not to ask for specific things. We tend to state what the need is and then what kinds of things would be helpful, and it depends on the country what their capabilities are to help match the needs that exist in both Afghanistan and Iraq.
And I must say, if you think about it, the Republic of Korea has contributed -- pledged some $200 million over the next four years. They have, I think, 675 Army engineers and medics in Iraq since last April. And Japan, they have pledged a total of $5 billion, including 1.5 billion (dollars), I believe, in 2004 alone for Iraq. And they have an advance team that's expected to be sent to Iraq in December to determine what might be appropriate from their standpoint.
MR. DENIG: Let's take the gentleman right there.
Q: (Name inaudible) -- I'm with TV Tokyo. The Japanese government is planning to send civilian workers to provide humanitarian assistance in Baghdad or other big cities. Mr. Secretary, how do you estimate the possibility that civilian workers will become targets of attack? And if the Japanese government ask the U.S. forces to guard their activities, do you have the capability to respond to that?
SEC. RUMSFELD: I'm sorry, I missed the last portion of the question. And if what?
Q: If the Japanese government asks the U.S. forces to guard civilians' activities.
MR. DENIG: To guard them, protect them.
SEC. RUMSFELD: To guard them. Those are the kinds of things that get worked out at the military-to-military level in Iraq, and it's not for me to say who would guard what. We have now a hundred and, I think, twenty-eight thousand American forces in Iraq. We have probably another 25(,000) or 30,000 forces from other countries. And as I mentioned, we have 118,000 Iraqis providing security.
Who would be guarding what at any given moment, it varies. We have forces that are designed to help with the borders, and the borders are a problem, particularly between Syria and Iran. We have forces that are trained to do site protection and infrastructure protection. We have an activity in the Iraqis that are called Civil Defense, and they're doing a series of joint patrols with coalition forces. So they would be doing it with the United States or with the British or the Polish or the Spanish, whichever country might be the case. If other countries had forces there, they could do joint patrols with them. And those are the kinds of things that are being worked on. The army is also being -- the Iraqi army is also being developed, and it will be providing assistance in various ways.
But those are the issues that get worked out down at the military level, and it's not something for me to say who would be guarding whom.
MR. DENIG: Okay, third row, third person.
Q: Kwang-sho Lee (ph) from Korean Broadcasting System. You mentioned earlier that the Korean government, the $200 million to Iraq next four years. And you mentioned they had done combat forces to Iraq previously. That means are you satisfied with the Korean government previous contribution to Iraq, and that means if like Turkish canceled their sending troops to Iraq, if the Korean government cancels their sending combat troops to Iraq, are you satisfied with their decision? (Laughter.)
SEC. RUMSFELD: (Chuckles.) You're a trouble-maker! (Laughs; laughter.) I'm just kidding! Every once in a while I say something like that with a big smile and laugh, and I see it in the transcript and someone says, "Rumsfeld was testy." (Laughter.) And I'm not testy. I sometimes say things in good humor. So let the record show that.
That's a double hypothetical, if I'm not mistaken, that question. And I'm -- I'll tell you, I really feel best when countries do that which they feel good about. And I recognize that it takes political courage to go before your population, your constituency, your parliaments, and say that I recommend that we do such and so. It also takes physical courage to put people in Iraq where people are being killed and wounded from time to time. We know that, we see that every day.
So, what we've done is we've gone out to a hundred-plus countries and said: Here's what we're doing. We think it's important; we think it's important that these 23 million people in Iraq that have been liberated get their essential services fixed, get on a path where sovereignty can be passed to the Iraqi people, develop their security forces so that they can assume the responsibility for protecting their own people and their own country. We think that's an important thing to do; we think it's a good thing for the people of Iraq. It's also a good thing for the people of the region and the world that that country put itself on a path away from the vicious dictatorship that -- I don't know if you've seen the films of cutting off people's fingers and hands and heads, and throwing people off the buildings, pulling out their tongues and cutting their tongues off -- this was a particularly vicious regime. And it is gone. It is not coming back. And I would think that countries would like to participate and play a role in something that that's important. But it's up to each country to do that, to make those own decisions.
Q: Can I do a follow-up?
MR. DENIG: Okay -- no. Let's wait on that, please. Let's do second row, fourth person. Right there.
Q: Thank you, Mr. Secretary. This is Jong-il Kim (ph) of Joong-Ang Ilbo in Korea. And the last two weeks, the Korean high- ranking officials came to the United States to talk about sending Korean soldiers to Iraq. And it is said that they mentioned 3,000 soldiers to be dispatched to Iraq, and the United States asked some more soldiers. Is that true? And you are going to go to Korea next week, and will that subject be on the table? And if you meet Mr. President Roh, you are going to talk about that matter?
SEC. RUMSFELD: I can't say if what you said was true or not. I was not in a room when that was said, so I can't prove it or disprove it. Whether the subject will come up or not is a matter for the government over there, and we'll talk about anything they want to talk about. But I really mean what I have said. I think it's up to each country to characterize -- to decide what it is they want to do and then to characterize what it is they're doing themselves. It's not for me or for the United States. These are sovereign nations. These are countries that have to make those decisions, and they're tough decisions.
MR. DENIG: Okay. Let's take fifth row, third person.
Q: Mr. Secretary, my name is Paul Koreham (ph). I'm with the Global Mail of Canada. To shift to Iraq for a second, as the occupation is ongoing and Saddam Hussein remains a fugitive, I wonder if your thinking has evolved at all, or perhaps you could give us your assessment today of his importance symbolically and operationally to the resistance.
SEC. RUMSFELD: Well, first, I don't think of it as an occupation, as you characterized it. I think of it as a liberation. If you have 23 million people who were told what they had to do every day, 24 hours a day, and unless they were told to do something, they couldn't do anything else. And they were arrested, and they were beaten, and they were tortured and they fill up mass graves across their country. The United States is not occupying that country. The United States and the coalition forces liberated that country, and we're anxious to pass over sovereignty and responsibility for security to the Iraqi people as soon as it's appropriate.
The subject of Saddam Hussein is an interesting one. We have no reason to believe that he is directly involved in day-to-day management of opposition to coalition forces or opposition to the Iraqis that are cooperating with coalition forces, which is where most of the targets are. There are many more Iraqis that are being killed -- innocent men, women and children, in many cases -- than there are coalition forces.
On the other hand, I think it's fair to say that it would be -- we're seeking him. We would like to capture him. We would like to make certain and let the Iraqi people know that there is not a chance in the world that he is going to come back to power. Because he was head of such a vicious regime, that I don't doubt for a minute that there are people who are -- would be reluctant to cooperate with the coalition if they thought there were any chance that Saddam Hussein could return, because they know how vicious he was. And so it would be a good thing if he were captured or killed.
MR. DENIG: Okay. Let's take the second gentleman, first row.
Q: Thank you, Secretary. I am Kondo with Sankei Shimbun Japanese newspaper. I have a question about the Marines in Okinawa. According to some media report, it is said that DOD has been thinking about replacement about Marine in Okinawa. As you know, a U.S. official has already denied about it, but could you --
SEC. RUMSFELD: U.S. what?
Q: U.S. officials.
SEC. RUMSFELD: I'm sorry. I couldn't understand.
Q: Officials, government people --
Q: (Off mike.)
SEC. RUMSFELD: Officials. I'm sorry.
Q: Officials. Sorry.
SEC. RUMSFELD: Yes.
Q: So could you share with us your view, once again, about it?
SEC. RUMSFELD: I haven't seen the reports or the speculation, and if I started chasing what every "unnamed official," quote, unquote, might or might not have said, I wouldn't get any work done, and I wouldn't -- getting any sleep.
The United States was asked -- the president asked, I should say -- the Department of Defense to review what the United States' footprint -- what our engagement around the world is and look at it and make recommendations to him as to how we might adjust it to fit the 21st century. And we'd been doing that, broadly.
And of course every time we have a study, or we talk to people or discuss these things, you always discuss them with your allies and your friends, like Japan or Korea or whichever country it might be -- Germany. And when that happens, people speculate about things.
There's also been speculation, as you suggested, I guess, on the subject you posed. But we don't have anything to announce. And what we would do in every case is to think about what might make sense and then sit down and discuss it with our friends and allies and also with the Congress. And we have not gotten to that point yet.
MR. DENIG: Okay. Third row, second person, beige jacket.
Q: Dae Yung Kim (sp), (inaudible name) News Agency, Korea. The United States is -- U.S. is in the course of reducing U.S. forces in Korea. What I'd like to know is, are you going to reduce the U.S. troops in Korea? And if so, in what way are you going to make up for the reduction of troops -- I mean, reduction of military power?
SEC. RUMSFELD: (Pauses.) I think you possibly, almost by accident, touched on a point that's critically important. You tended to equate troops with military power, and I think that's not, probably, appropriate in the 21st century. We, for example, in Iraq had at the maximum, I believe, something like 150,000 U.S. troops there and were able to accomplish the goal in removing that regime with a relatively small number of troops. And one of the reasons we were able to do that -- there were a lot of reasons why we were able to do that, but among them were the fact that our forces operated in a totally joint, combined way, connected, and there was a great advantage of leverage that resulted from it. The lethality of U.S. capability has soared in recent years, and the use of precision weapons enabled the United States to do things there that were precise, that were powerful against a military, and respectful to non- military situations.
And I can say this. We have not come to any conclusions as to precise numbers of troops or planes or ships or tanks or anything else, but what we do know for sure is that the United States and the Republic of Korea, whatever changes may or may not be made at some point in the coming two, five, seven, 10, 15 years, whatever, in every instance, the military power, to use your phrase, or the military capability of the coalition, the United States and the Republic of Korea, will go up. It will be stronger, not weaker, regardless of how many numbers of peoples or things may exist from one week to the next, because we are -- we are committed to seeing that that peninsula is mainland peacefully, as it has been for 50 years, we are committed to our partnership with the Republic of Korea, but we are also respectful of the fact that technologies have changed, capabilities have changed, and what we need to do as a country and as an alliance is see that we refashion and rearrange ourselves in ways that fit the 21st century rather than being tied to the past.
MR. DENIG: Good. Let's go to Russia.
Q: Thank you. Thank you. Mr. Secretary, my name is Andrei Sitov. I am with TASS, the Russian news agency. Some people, including some people in the military, believe that the 21st century is the century of Asia and the Pacific. So how do you view the military-to-military relationship between the U.S. and Russia in this century, in this region? Thank you.
SEC. RUMSFELD: Well, as you know, President Bush has made a point during his presidency to work with President Putin and Russia. Secretary Powell and I have both spent a great deal of time with our counterparts. The military-to-military relationship between the United States and Russia has been on a track of incrementally improving, just as Russia's relationship with NATO has been incrementally improving. And needless to say, Russia is a part of Asia, an important part. And Russia is participating in the six-party talks, for example, with respect to North Korea, and certainly, the United States, and Japan, and Korea and the People's Republic of China are, as well as -- those countries are all connected, recognizing how important each of those countries are to trying to find a diplomatic way for the North Koreans to conduct themselves in a way that's peaceful and not threatening to the peninsula, the region or the world.
My feeling about it is -- I suppose everyone has to make their own judgment, but I've found the relationship, military-to-military relationship, with Russia to be an improving one and one that's mutually beneficial.
MR. DENIG: Let's go to first row, first person.
Q: Thank you. My name is -- (name inaudible) -- from the Mainichi newspaper, a Japanese daily. On North Korea, President Bush has said that the U.S. will not agree to a security treaty with North Korea, but will consider other ways to assure North Korea's security on paper. Does that mean that the U.S. will abandon the preemptive strike doctrine? And secondly, there are some conservatives in Japan who fear that such security assurance would damage the effects of the U.S.-Japan security treaty. Do you agree with such an opinion? Thank you.
SEC. RUMSFELD: I'm going to leave the first question to the Department of State and the president. It's -- clearly, the negotiations that are taking place -- the president's made a conscious decision to approach the situation in North Korea and the many, many statements that they have made over the weeks and months in the past, and may very likely make in the weeks and months in the future -- they have approached it on a diplomatic basis, recognizing that there were the best possible prospects for a peaceful resolution of the situation by bringing all of the countries in the region together. And in my view, that's a good thing, it was a proper course, and I certainly hope that those talks are successful.
I can assure you that the president of the United States will not do anything to damage the U.S.-Japan security treaty. The president properly recognizes the importance of Japan in the world. It is a country that can play an increasingly significant -- make an -- increasingly significant contributions to peace and stability in the world. We consider the U.S.-Japan security arrangements to be central to our relationships in the region. And there is not the slightest chance that the president -- any decision the president makes will in any way weaken or undermine that security arrangement.
MR. DENIG: Let's go to Hong Kong there. The lady in lavender.
Q: Thank you so much. Wei-jing (ph), Phoenix TV of Hong Kong. Too bad, Secretary, you're not going to China. But -- (laughter) -- two questions. The first one is about your force structure in Korea. Does that in any way aimed at competing with Chinese military capabilities in some unforeseen conflict? And secondly, do you believe the six-party talks on North Korea should formally end the Korean War?
SEC. RUMSFELD: You've been over to the Pentagon so much that you're starting to act like the rest of those folks and ask two or three questions at once. (Laughter.)
The -- what conceivably could come out of the six-party talks, I'm not going to speculate on. Needless to say, the goal of most people is to have that peninsula at peace, to have it nuclear-free, and, I'm sure, to have it one day reunified in a way that is comfortable and a result of peaceful discussion.
As far as -- the force structure in Korea is solely for the purpose of assuring peace on the peninsula, and it has been there for a long time -- our forces, our coalition, the U.N. role in the Korean capabilities there. The forces have been designed and structured to serve as a deterrent to North Korea, which has a very large army, which has a lot of special forces, which has a navy, which has ballistic missiles, and which has been recently making statements about its other military capabilities with respect to weapons of mass destruction. And the reason we're there and the reason we've been there and the reason we will be there prospectively is to serve as a deterrent force with the Republic of Korea, to create a more peaceful Northeast Asian environment.
MR. DENIG: Okay. Let's go to Turkey, blond hair in the middle there.
SEC. RUMSFELD: I like the way you say "Let's go to Turkey" and "Let's go to Russia." (Laughter.)
Q: Yes, let's go to Turkey. (Laughs.)
SEC. RUMSFELD: And immediately my mind is drifting off to Ankara.
Q: Yes. My name is Riya Hatsugen (ph). I am with the Turkish Public Television, TRT. You said every government and every country has to make their own decision concerning troops contribution. As you know, it didn't happen that way with Turkey, and it's now over. But does it mean that cooperation with Turkey on the security issues in Iraq is over? Because, as you know, there is this top security issue for us concerning the presence of PKK/KADEK in the northern part of that country, and also, we have a big border and we are very much interested, of course.
SEC. RUMSFELD: Sure.
Q: So what do you foresee? And do you think this deployment of troops is handled badly?
SEC. RUMSFELD: My impression is that the government of Turkey has handled the matter well. That is to say, that they reviewed the matter internally with their parliament, they came to a conclusion that in the event it was possible for the government of Turkey to have some sort of arrangement with the Governing Council of Iraq and with the coalition countries that made sense to everybody, they would be able to do certain things. It turned out that after those discussions took place, that the way that it initially came up might very well not occur, as you indicated. But I would certainly not suggest that it was handled badly at all. I think that it's complicated.
Second, I would say that certainly Turkey has an interest in what's going on in its neighboring country of Iraq. It has an interest in seeing that the security environment there is not hostile to them or to their circumstance. And I'm sure that Turkey, just as Kuwait or Saudi Arabia or Jordan or other countries in the region, will have a continuing interest in the success in Iraq; that it be the very things that the president announced when he was -- at the very outset of this. He said he thought Iraq should be a single country, not broken up into pieces; that it should be a country that's at peace with its neighbors; that it should be a country that is without threatening weapons to its neighbors or others in the region; and, he added that it should be a country that is respectful of its religious and minority elements within that country, and that is to say, representative of them in some way, and not a vicious dictatorship, as was removed.
I think we're --
MR. DENIG: Okay, last question. The gentleman in the beige jacket there. Right there, yeah. Keep it short, please.
Q: (Name and affiliation inaudible) -- Newspaper in Korea. First, let me give you a small tip for your trip to Korea. Actually, Korean people is very courteous and friend(ly), but sometimes Korean people really like straight talking. So, as you know, Korean and Roh government faces strong -- a little bit strong objection to the (moral ?) of military dispatched to Iraq. So, I think that you had better --
SEC. RUMSFELD: That's been true in other countries as well. And these are tough issues.
Q: Well, actually, people don't know how many military people, military soldiers you want to dispatch (from) Korea. So, I think --
SEC. RUMSFELD: We want --
Q: -- you had better, in your request to Korea --
SEC. RUMSFELD: We want Korea to do whatever it believes is right. And that may be hard for you. And I'll tell you, that's straight talk. I am not kidding. That is exactly what we'd like. We do not want countries to do things they don't want to do.
Q: But --
SEC. RUMSFELD: How else -- how straighter could I talk?
Q: Well, I think that you may give some guideline for the dispatch soldiers to Iraq. So how many?
SEC. RUMSFELD: I haven't. Let me explain what this is about. I would like to see a lot of troops from other countries, and I'll tell you why. I think it's important for other countries to have a commitment to Iraq and to the success in Iraq. So I would like to see a lot of other countries beyond the 32. We're now discussing additional troops with 14 more, above the 32 -- or 33, I guess it is. And we'd like to see all 14 of those come in, and maybe another 14. And we'd like to see it with larger numbers.
But we don't want it to be countries that don't want to be there or countries that don't want to have larger numbers there, because we feel people ought to do that which they believe is in their best interest. We think it's in their best interests. We hope it is in their best interest. And we want more countries committed to the success of Iraq, because we want Iraq to succeed. We think it's terribly important for that part of the world that a big, important country, with 23 million people, that has a history that's important succeed.
And if you see what the Stalinist regime -- type regime of Saddam Hussein did to that country, in terms of destroying the infrastructure; in repressing the people; in killing tens and tens and tens of thousands of their own people; of using gas on their own people, as well as their neighbors, it -- what a breath of fresh air if Iraq succeeds.
Now each country has to decide what part of that they'd like to play. Would they like to be a part of something that is historic and has the potential to do something truly important for a terribly troubled region in the world? I think most countries would like to. And it's not surprising to me that there are 32 countries helping out in there, and I hope there are more. But it'll be countries doing that which they feel good about doing.
MR. DENIG: Okay.
SEC. RUMSFELD: Straight talk. (Laughter.)
MR. DENIG: Thank you very much, Mr. Secretary. Thank you, ladies and gentlemen.
SEC. RUMSFELD: Thank you.