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Target: Terrorism: Rumsfeld Holds News Conference in Ankara, Turkey

Aired October 5, 2001 - 15:13   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.
JUDY WOODRUFF, CNN ANCHOR: We have been keeping a close eye on this building in Ankara Turkey, where the U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld has just finished a meeting with the Turkish Prime Minister Bulent Echevit, this part of a five-country swing, if you will, through the Middle East and Central Asia as the United States Lays the groundwork for a response to terrorism.

Let's listen in to Secretary Rumsfeld.

(JOINED IN PROGRESS)

DONALD RUMSFELD, U.S. SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: The answer is yes.

The important thing to understand about the effort against terrorism is that it is not against a country, it is not against a people, it is certainly not against any religion.

In the case of Afghanistan, there are many Afghans who have been very badly treated by the Taliban. They are fleeing in a drought- stricken country and need food. The United States, I think, has been the largest food donor in that country; some $170 million already this year. And President Bush announced a new humanitarian effort for the people.

There are people in the Taliban who do not like the fact that the foreigners have come in, the Al Qaeda, and have taken over so much of the control. There are the Northern Alliance. There are tribes in the south. There are many factions in that country that are obviously disappointed and aware of the very difficult circumstance for the Afghan people.

That is why the president announced a significant humanitarian effort. That is why we are talking to the forces in the north and the forces in the south, recognizing that they have an interest in the future of that country. And we certainly hope that they are successful in rejecting a terrorist network that has pretty much taken over their country.

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE)

RUMSFELD: The United States sees this as a worldwide problem. We recognize that every country has its own circumstance. It has its own neighborhood, it has its own history. And each country will make a judgment as to the kinds of ways that it can be helpful in dealing with the problem of international terrorism.

And we do not make demands. We do not have any view other than that each country should decide for itself how it can best help. Some help in one way, others help in another way.

I've been just struck, as has President Bush, by the overwhelming support across the globe, the understanding of how dangerous this problem is and particularly how dangerous it is, given the problem of proliferation and the fact that weapons of mass destruction could conceivably come into the hands of people like this who are willing to cause that many deaths, thousands on September 11.

So we want each country to do that which it feels is appropriate for that country. I think that in the last analysis, we'll find that the recognition and the sense of urgency that the United States feels will be shared by other countries, and that we will see an overwhelming support and cooperation. Some will do it publicly; some will do it privately. Each will do it in his own way. And all of it will be helpful.

WOODRUFF: Once again, we are hearing a question posed to the Turkish prime minister, speaking in Turkish. So since we don't understand that, our Jamie McIntyre, our military correspondent, is on the phone.

Jamie, why Turkey, and not another country in the region?

JAMIE MCINTYRE, CNN MILITARY CORRESPONDENT: Of course, Turkey has several dozen U.S. warplanes based here, planes that could, in theory, be used in some future military action, although Pentagon sources tell me there's been no unusual build-up of the planes at Insula, Turkey. Most of those planes are involved in almost daily combat, flying the no-fly zone over northern Iraq. Turkey, of course, is a solid U.S. ally and has granted the United States overflight rights, and the United States has not asked Turkey for permission for offensive strikes from its territory.

That is the most politically sensitive question, and Rumsfeld, while getting from the Uzbek president permission to base troops there, for humanitarian relief and search and rescue, did to the get permission for offensive strikes. And of course, as Bob Franken just outlined, the strategic value of Uzbekistan, with its excellently maintained Soviet air bases right that are right down along the southern border, that 85 mile strip that borders northern Afghanistan. Of course, that area right along the border is controlled by the Taliban, which presumably would be a target of some U.S. military action for not turning over Osama bin Laden.

But these talks that Rumsfeld has been engaged in have been a lot about reassurance. It's to tell these allies that the United States appreciates their support and understands they can't always be as public about their support, because of the various domestic situations. You heard Rumsfeld say, just before we went back to the Turkish, that the United States understands that each country lives in a different neighborhood and doesn't necessarily see the world the same way. What the United States is trying do is to build a coalition of countries, each one that might have a unique contribution. Some might be able to be more public and forthright in their support, such as Great Britain, and others who may do a lot of things behind the scenes and not want to call a lot of attention to it. The United States wants to send a message that they understand that, and they don't intend to pressure people to do things that might cause them domestic problems.

This trip is mostly about reassurance, and this stop in Turkey is to thank them for all the support, and particularly for the use of their air bases, and to reassure them that the United States is not going to try to put them in a difficult position -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: Jamie McIntyre, on the phone from Ankara.

And at the Pentagon, our Bob Franken.

Bob, you can't say that the administration isn't going to some lengths to tighten those diplomatic ties with friendly nations like Turkey.

BOB FRANKEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: As a matter of fact, to illustrate that point, in this building now is the former Soviet Georgia President Shevardnadze. He met earlier at the White House, but he is here meeting with the deputy Defense secretary, Paul Wolfowitz. In fact, he'll be coming out and speaking in just a short while. And Shevardnadze, as was pointed our earlier in our coverage, was the former Soviet foreign minister and somebody who had always been very much opposed or been one of those who felt that the Soviet Union should get itself out of Afghanistan. He has some particularly valuable insights, it is felt here, in the Afghanistan situation, what the United States might face.

He is probably talking in very practical terms with the Defense secretary, here back home, so to speak, as Secretary Rumsfeld takes his tour in the region.

Bob Franken, at the Pentagon. We've been watching. We want to thank you and also thank Jamie McIntyre, who is on the road in Ankara, Turkey, with the Defense secretary.

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