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Target: Terrorism - Rumsfeld to Visit Middle East Allies

Aired October 3, 2001 - 05:02   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.
CAROL LIN, CNN ANCHOR: As for Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld's Middle East trip, he is meeting with political and military leaders in Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Oman and Uzbekistan and hoping to visit U.S. troops in Egypt before returning for a family commitment this weekend.

CNN National Correspondent Brian Cabell is at the Pentagon this morning.

Brian, what should we read into this trip?

BRIAN CABELL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, good morning, Carol.

It's hard to say what we should read into it, but we do know it will be a very quick trip -- four nations, as you say, in about three or four days. Secretary Rumsfeld is hoping to be back by Saturday morning, and during this trip, he hopes to meet with military and political leaders in that region.

He left last night -- on Tuesday night, and our Jamie McIntyre, our CNN Pentagon Correspondent, is on board. He reports that Rumsfeld on board said that he is not intending to put any pressure on these four allies, but he's hoping, rather, to gain intelligence from them.

As for Saudi Arabia, Rumsfeld says that Saudi Arabia will be a silent partner in the case of any military activity. The hope overall is just simply to strengthen military alliances with these four nations.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD RUMSFELD, DEFENSE SECRETARY: 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 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.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CABELL: In the meantime, the military build up in the region around Afghanistan continues; 30,000 American troops now said to be in the area, along with about 300 war planes.

One final note Jamie McIntyre mentioned to us just about an hour ago. Apparently Rumsfeld was asked on the plane: Do you now know where Osama bin Laden is? And Rumsfeld's answer was: Well, I have a little bit of a handle on it, but I don't yet have the coordinates -- Carol, back to you.

LIN: Well, Brian, four countries in three days -- the secretary back by this weekend. Does that suggest any sort of a timetable for an initial strike?

CABELL: Well, the White House and the Pentagon have said repeatedly there is no timetable, there is no deadline. They will determine when any sort of strike will occur, if it occurs. But they certainly aren't going to reveal that to us.

LIN: And do you know the nature of these discussions that Secretary Rumsfeld is going to have with these political as well as military leaders? Is it more of a briefing? Is it more of an exchange of intelligence? Is it talking about resources that they might actually want to base in these countries?

CABELL: It could be all of those, but according to what Jamie told us just a couple of hours ago, primarily he is looking for intelligence from them, perhaps on Osama bin Laden.

LIN: All right. Thank you very much -- Brian Cabell, live this morning at the Pentagon.

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