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Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld Addresses Press on Military's Plans to End Vieques Island Exercises in 2003

Aired June 14, 2001 - 11:31   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
DONNA KELLEY, CNN ANCHOR: Here's Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld about Vieques Island.

(JOINED IN PROGRESS)

DONALD RUMSFELD, DEFENSE SECRETARY: That is a matter that the secretary of the Navy's been dealing with with Deputy Secretary Wolfowitz, and I think I'll leave that issue to them. We've got great confidence in them and the way they're handling it, and they're doing a fine job.

QUESTION: Secretary Rumsfeld, were you a part of this decision to abandon Vieques, or were you simply informed of it afterwards?

RUMSFELD: I have been in touch with Deputy Secretary Wolfowitz every day, several times a day, on a whole hosts of subjects, so to suggest that anyone involved is not knowledgeable about it would be wrong.

QUESTION: What I'm asking is did you have input into this decision? Do you agree with it?

RUMSFELD: The decision has been handled, as I said, by Deputy Secretary Wolfowitz and by the secretary of the Navy, in whom I have great confidence, and I think they're handling it very, very well.

QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, we're asking your opinion as secretary of defense. Can you share with us your specific thoughts on the decision made by these other individuals to leave Vieques?

RUMSFELD: I just said that I am in full agreement with the president of the United States, the deputy secretary of defense, and the secretary of the Navy. I don't know how anyone could be more explicit.

QUESTION: Are you concerned that this is setting a precedent for other controversial military ranges, like in Okinawa, the base there?

RUMSFELD: Sure, yes.

QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, can you talk a bit about the kind of importance that the United States attaches to its relationship with Singapore? RUMSFELD: Well, I can indeed. The relationship between the United States and Singapore is a long one. It is a multifaceted relationship: It's political; it's economic...

KELLEY: Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld there saying that the deputy secretary of defense and the secretary of the Navy dealing with this issue. He had great confidence in them -- but he's certainly been in touch on the issue.

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