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Target: Terrorism - Rumsfeld Leaves Saudi Arabia and Travels to Oman on Mideast Trip

Aired October 4, 2001 - 05:12   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.
LEON HARRIS, CNN ANCHOR: Let's check in at the Pentagon this morning. Well, actually Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld has left the Pentagon. He is actually traveling from Saudi Arabia right now to Oman. And our Jamie McIntyre, our Pentagon correspondent, is actually traveling with the secretary, and he joins us now on the telephone with a recap of the secretary's trip thus far -- Jamie, good morning.

JAMIE MCINTYRE, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Leon.

Well, this is the kind of trip that takes place when the secretary is trying to make sure that all of the ducks are in a row as the U.S. contemplates military action.

Right now, he has just arrived in Oman, which has been a very supportive ally in the Persian Gulf region. In fact, U.S. officials characterize the degree of cooperation from Oman as excellent. Pentagon sources tell CNN that B-1 bombers are currently in Oman that might be used in strikes against Afghanistan.

Secretary Rumsfeld came here from Saudi Arabia, where he had meetings with King Fahd and Crown Prince Abdullah and the defense minister there, Prince Sultan.

Again, the United States continues to say publicly it's getting all the support from Saudi Arabia that it needs. Saudi Arabia continues to say that it has granted all requests that the United States has made, and that the United States has not requested permission to conduct offensive strikes from Saudi territory. But that's part of the interplay that goes on in public as behind-the- scenes the United States and Saudi Arabia have some kind of silent agreements about what it is the U.S. would be allowed to do in various circumstances.

So this is the second stop on this trip. He'll go from here to Egypt and then to Uzbekistan, where the United States is again discussing the possibility of basing troops just across Afghanistan's northern border that could, again, be used for potential strikes against targets in Afghanistan.

The three-day trip will wrap up with Rumsfeld returning to Washington this weekend -- Leon.

HARRIS: Jamie, we know that they're all playing their cards very close to their vest right about now. But do we know anything at all about what it is specifically that Secretary Rumsfeld may have been requesting of the Saudis?

MCINTYRE: Well, from all indications, he did not make a request of the Saudi government. He said he didn't. The Saudis said that they didn't.

This was more a case of Rumsfeld coming to show Saudi Arabia that he understands the position that the Saudi royal family is in, to signal some gratitude for their cooperation in the past. And again, the signal from Saudi Arabia is that the country will be there -- the kingdom will be there to support the United States if they need it. But they want the United States to be very circumspect in how they discuss that in public, because it makes it uncomfortable for them in the region sometimes to be supporting this kind of action.

So for all intents and purposes, it appears that this was more of a visit aimed at solidifying the relationship and was not built around any specific request. And the U.S. and Saudi governments both continue to say that there are no problems there, and that there are no unresolved issues.

HARRIS: Jamie McIntyre reporting live on the phone from Oman -- we thank you very much.

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