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Rumsfeld and Musharraf Brief Reporters

Aired February 13, 2002 - 15:42   ET


BILL HEMMER, CNN ANCHOR: It is a whirlwind day for Pervez Musharraf, from the White House earlier to the Pentagon now, and the defense secretary, Donald Rumsfeld, with him.

Statements first, then questions possibly after.


DONALD RUMSFELD, SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: ... be freed of the war and conflict and drought and starvation and problems they have faced for so many years.

We have talked of a number of ways of strengthening the military- to-military relationship between our two countries. The Defense Consultation Group is being re-established, of course, with -- Undersecretary Doug Feith being the U.S. representative, and we look forward to strengthening the military-to-military ties.

Mr. President, our country and indeed the world has a big stake in your country and your part of the world, and we wish you well in your important work. Thank you for coming.

PERVEZ MUSHARRAF, PRESIDENT OF PAKISTAN: Thank you. Thank you very much. It's my pleasure and my privilege to be here in the Pentagon with the first visit to Washington I am to Pentagon. And this is my first visit to this room which I've been seeing almost every day on television at this point. I'm so familiar at this point, so it's my pleasure to be standing at this rostrum which I've been seeing on the television so frequently.

I had -- we had a wonderful interaction with the secretary of defense on all military matters. Let me say that Pakistan and United States have enjoyed very close military relations, military ties which go to the strategic level of cooperation in the past. And it is my pleasure to revive the same degree of relationship again with the United States.

We have cooperated in the past in all actions. I remember our cooperation in Somalia and other United Nations missions abroad, where Pakistani forces and U.S. forces have interacted with each other very, very closely and very successfully. So therefore it is Pakistan's desire to increase the level of cooperation with the United States in all phases of military activity. In Afghanistan, as the secretary of defense has said, we are cooperating in the fight against terrorism, and in this -- and I say that this cooperation is going on with no problem whatsoever. We are cooperating in exchange of intelligence and information. We are cooperating in the provision of logistic support, and our airspace -- provision of our airspace.

I think this cooperation has seen excellent interaction again between the two forces. We look forward to reinforcing this cooperation and interaction between the two forces. I'm very glad to be here, and thank you very much. Thank you, sir.

RUMSFELD: We have time for about four questions. Why don't we take a couple from the United States side, and a couple from the Pakistan side? And then, Mr. President, we have a strange practice here where we always have the first question from the dean.


RUMSFELD: Except when we have a foreign visitor -- even when we have a foreign visitor.

QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, very briefly. When is the United States prepared to resume ares transfers to Pakistan?

And if I might just very briefly I might ask the president, Mr. President, are you disappointed, as a man whose -- as the secretary has said, has made a series of very difficult decisions, are you disappointed that you've received little beyond some assurances of debt relief since you got here?

QUESTION: Mr. Secretary?

RUMSFELD: Can you believe that he would ask that question?


I mean, really.

The short answer is that we have discussed various types of ways that the United States and Pakistan can go back to our pre-sanction cooperative arrangement, and those discussions are ongoing.

MUSHARRAF: Well, on the other side, the debt relief point, we are partners with the United States in the fight against terrorism, and we did not quantify the return that we get for this.

But I'm very glad to say that United States understands our concerns and our shortcomings. And we are glad to say that we got necessary support from the United States, as far as this was particularly concerned.

We certainly are talking of debt write-off. But I will not like to go into the details of what is happening till it is officially announced. QUESTION: Mr. Rumsfeld, my question is that, you know, India has recently tested its second missile (UNINTELLIGIBLE) and India is dealing with Russia and Russia is supplying more arms to India. United States is a key partner to Pakistan. United States is going to provide the weapons and arms and military aid to Pakistan, just to maintain (ph) sort of, a balance in that part of the world?

RUMSFELD: Well, you know, those are kinds of questions I think that really the president and Secretary Powell tend to respond to.

But let me just say this, that Pakistan and India are each sovereign states. They are each important countries. And needless to say, the principle interest of the United States is seeing that those two countries are able to talk and manage their affairs in a peaceful way.

Each of those countries has relationships with a number of other countries and indeed purchases weapons from a number of other countries. And that is not surprising since each is a sovereign nation. So I think that our hope, and I know that the president and Secretary Powell and President Musharraf have all discussed this on a number of occasions, is that what we will see is a peaceful resolution of what clearly has been a very tense period in recent months.

QUESTION: Mr. Secretary? May I ask the president a question?


QUESTION: Would you give us your latest assessment of the whereabouts of Osama bin Laden? Are you still of the belief that he most likely died of kidney failure?

MUSHARRAF: My assessment only can be as good or bad as yours. I place two -- like two possibilities as priority one or two; you can place them in any order, that he could have died or he's alive in Afghanistan. I wouldn't like to say beyond that. I can't be sure of which order this priority can be. But yes, I would certainly think that he is in Afghanistan either dead or alive.

QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, Pakistan -- the president of Pakistan himself has gone out on a limb for the United States, and has helped in every possible way. Can you please tell us specifically what kind of agreement and what kind of deal, if any, you have offered our president or our country in a way to help us, especially in view of India's amassing force at the border?

RUMSFELD: You are right. Pakistan and the president of Pakistan, have taken a very bold and firm and constructive position with respect to the situation on the war on terrorism, and with respect to the situation in Afghanistan.

As the president indicated, the United States and Pakistan have what we consider to be a long-lasting relationship that is a strategic relationship. It is mutually beneficial, and we look forward to strengthening it in a variety of different ways.

The president of the United States and the president of Pakistan had a good discussion today.

And I just might add that a good number of the members of the Pakistan senior officials from the government are here as well as the ambassador, and they were in the meetings. And they have been talking to a variety of the Cabinet departments. And in addition, the president is meeting with people on Capitol Hill. And I think that it is probably best to leave for the president and his team to discuss the particular meetings they have had and the relationships that are being established between not just the Pentagon but also the Department of State, the Department of Commerce and other elements of the government.

Is that a fair representation of your day, sir?

MUSHARRAF: Well, the relationship does not end today, or it does not end with my visit. We have decided to cooperate, and we look forward to improved relations in other fields. We look forward to addressing of all our requirements as time passes. Now, one cannot really quantify what you are saying in exact terms what exactly we have got, but there's a list of our requirements which we have discussed.

And we hope that as time passes, we have also established this defense assistance group, Defense Consultative Group. That will look into the physical side of what we need to address.

But I think the future holds good for our relationship and for the equipment that you're talking of. In concrete forms, as time passes, things will start happening.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you very much.

MUSHARRAF: Thank you.

HEMMER: He has been an MVP ever since September 11, the most valuable politician for the U.S -- Pervez Musharraf now on a whirlwind tour of Washington, landing yesterday. We saw him earlier at the White House. And he continues that tour today with Donald Rumsfeld.

A couple key points there talking about the increasing of the cooperation between the U.S. and Pakistan -- Pervez Musharraf stressing that that is an important detail going forward. Certainly the Pakistani president will press for more debt relief and certainly more aid to his home country, but you heard Donald Rumsfeld also indicate, in his words -- and quoting now -- "A long-lasting, mutually beneficial relationship will continue to be pursued," again the words from Donald Rumsfeld.

One question there on Osama bin Laden -- Pervez Musharraf indicating that he is not sure where or what condition Osama bin Laden may be in, but, in his words, he is -- quote -- "in Afghanistan, either dead or alive."

The tours continues for Pervez Musharraf.




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