External Affairs & Defense Minister Jaswant Singh
Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld
River Entrance
The Pentagon
Arlington, Virginia
October 2, 2001
5:10 P.M. EDT

SEC. RUMSFELD: The defense minister of India is also the foreign minister. And this is our second visit, and we've just had a very good discussion about his part of the world and the problems that the United States and those nations that are concerned about terrorism are wrestling with. And I appreciate his being here and the very spontaneous, open, fulsome support which they have offered the United States immediately after the attacks here in this country. It is something that is appreciated and valued and from which we are benefitting.

Mr. Minister?

MIN. SINGH: Thank you, Mr. Secretary. But really, I endorse every word of what Secretary Rumsfeld has said. I'm not only very glad, but I'm very proud, really, to be meeting him again.

And I do want to say to the press, too, what I have said earlier. When the Pentagon was attacked on that day, on Tuesday, (September) 11, Secretary Rumsfeld displayed great personal courage and great leadership, which we in the free world have treated as an example. And I'm very glad that I am able to visit him again.

The free world has a challenge that we face, and the challenge we have to face jointly.

And in the facing of this challenge, we stand shoulder to shoulder with the United States of America.

QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, could you tell us what countries you're going to visit and how long you'll be gone, please, sir?

SEC. RUMSFELD: I am planning to visit Saudi Arabia, Oman, Egypt and Uzbekistan. I have not been able to get to the region since I have become secretary of Defense this time, and given all the things that are going on over there, it struck me as a good idea to make a visit. I hope to get back this weekend. I think that I will. And as a matter of fact, we have something that my wife and I have arranged for Saturday morning, so I'm hoping to be back by then.

QUESTION: What about Pakistan, sir? Any visit to Pakistan planned?

SEC. RUMSFELD: No. I'll not be visiting Pakistan.

QUESTION: Secretary Rumsfeld, India has always had the position based on available evidence that Pakistan actually harbors and in fact provides safe haven to terrorists. What is your view on this?

SEC. RUMSFELD: We've had discussions about a number of countries and the issue of terrorism and the importance of addressing it in a variety of different ways as different countries are. And it is -- it is a problem, as I have indicated, that in the case of this one network called al Qaeda is in 50 or 60 countries.

There is al Qaeda activity in the United States of America. And what we need to do is to recognize that the task for those countries who share this view is to root it out where it exists, because it has every advantage of taking the offense.

QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, can you explain why personally you want to make a visit to these countries? (Off mike) -- why is it so important for you personally to go?

SEC. RUMSFELD: Well, we have a lot of activity in the region, of the Defense Department. And I have not been able to be there yet this year. Normally ministers of defense visit countries where there is that type of activity, and I unfortunately have not been able to thus far, and it just seems that I should. And --

QUESTION: Will you --

SEC. RUMSFELD: -- it is something that -- as we all know, there are a lot of things others can do, but there are some things that the secretary of Defense has to do.

QUESTION: What will be your message?

SEC. RUMSFELD: Well, it will vary from country to country.

QUESTION: Will you be visiting with U.S. troops in any of these countries?

SEC. RUMSFELD: I hope to. We have an exercise going on in Egypt called Bright Star. It is a big one. It is an annual one. And we have people there, and I hope to be able to do that.

It's a little complicated in terms of schedules. We're dealing with very important people, and how those schedules work out is not quite clear yet.

QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, what's the message you want to bring to Uzbekistan? That's not traditionally seen as a U.S. point of interest.

SEC. RUMSFELD: Well, it is -- I think it's -- I've not met the leadership there, and it seemed to me that given their geography and their situation, that having a first face-to-face meeting with the leadership there would be a useful thing.

QUESTION: Is this a prelude to military action against the Taliban, Mr. Secretary?

SEC. RUMSFELD: Now, you know I don't answer questions like that. (Chuckles.)

QUESTION: Secretary Rumsfeld, has there been any proof to those countries about what -- the links between al Qaeda and the attacks against the World Trade Center and -- (off mike)?

SEC. RUMSFELD: The attacks on the United States -- the evidence is so clear. It's been on television, the damage that was done. The relationships between terrorists and terrorist networks are abundantly clear. There is no need for additional evidence. The United States has talked to any country with any interest in the subject at all, and it seems to me that it is self-evident that terrorists are operating in the world, and they're operating in countries because countries are tolerating that, and that if we are to assure the way of life of free systems such as in our country and in India, the only choice we have is to take the battle to them.

QUESTION: Sir, will you be visiting with U.S. troops in Uzbekistan? (Laughter.)

SEC. RUMSFELD: That is -- for those who did not see his face, he was smiling.

QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, is the coalition pretty much in place now, or are there other countries you still need to bring on board?

SEC. RUMSFELD: We'll make this the last question.

This is not an effort that will be short. It is not an effort that involves a single coalition. There will be a variety of opportunities for countries to work with us in different ways at different times in different parts of the world, sometimes visibly and sometimes less visibly.

As I've said before, I think that the kind of information that will turn the day will be scraps of information that people from all across the globe will give, sometimes people from inside countries that are harboring terrorists, sometimes conceivably people from inside organizations that would like terrorists to leave their country. And it's that kind of information that will help us over time, ultimately, to roll up these networks and allow free people to live their lives in freedom.

(Cross talk as the secretary and the minister leave the stakeout site.)

QUESTION: Have a safe trip, Mr. Secretary.