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Rumsfeld, Karzai Hold News Conference

Aired September 7, 2003 - 08:02   ET


HEIDI COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR: We want to take you now live to Afghanistan. We have Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld speaking there after wrapping up three days in Iraq. He is now in Afghanistan. Let's go ahead and listen in.
DONALD RUMSFELD, DEFENSE SECRETARY: ... one called Warrior Sweep, one called Mountain Viper to track down terrorists and Taliban in this country. I received a report today from one of the Special Forces element that was working with the new Afghan army, and they had good success and we're most encouraged.

I also want to mention that later this afternoon I'll be meeting with the new International Security Assistance Force, ISAF Force commander. It is a significant event that the North Atlantic Treaty Organization has taken over the responsibility for ISAF. I say significant; I think it's a good thing for Afghanistan to have that important international organization participating directly.

It's also a good thing for NATO. It is the first NATO activity outside of Europe in the history of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. And given the nature of the world and the importance of peace and stability to all of our countries, I think the fact that the nations of North America and Europe combined, now 19 countries, growing soon to 26 countries, have made that decision that they wanted to participate directly here in this country, is, as I say, important not just for Afghanistan, but it's important for the alliance because it is charting a path, I believe, for the future of the alliance.

The last thing I would say is that we are most interested in the steps that the government of Afghanistan has been taking to strengthen the provincial governments to extend the reach of the national government through a variety of ways, including the provincial reconstruction teams throughout the country. And I congratulate the government and offer our continued support, interest and good wishes.

Thank you, sir.

QUESTION: Mr. President, I want to see if we can get your assessment of the enemy fighters that have been gathering in recent weeks on your eastern border. Your perception of that, what are your concerns about that border, and do you think Pakistan is doing enough to cut down Taliban and al Qaeda fighters?

PRESIDENT HAMID KARZAI, AFGHANISTAN: Well, we are definitely concerned about the increased activity of the Taliban on the Pakistan- Afghanistan border. We are having a mechanism that's called a (UNINTELLIGIBLE) arrangement between Afghanistan, the United States and Pakistan. We've been discussing these developments and that mechanism.

I'm also personally in touch with President Musharraf. He has promised that everything will be done to stop terrorist activities to Afghanistan. We are hoping that this cooperation will increase further between Afghanistan and Pakistan and also with the United States.

We believe that a joint fight against terrorism between Afghanistan and Pakistan and the United States and the rest of the region is entirely, absolutely in actual terms in the interest all of the countries and international peace. So we are hopeful that the structure approach by Pakistan against the Taliban incursion to Afghanistan against terrorism would produce the desired results.

QUESTION: Mr. Rumsfeld...

RUMSFELD: Yes, sir?

KARZAI: Introduce yourselves.


RUMSFELD: Well, as the president said, we do have a joint arrangement where we are cooperating. And I wouldn't want to make any announcements on behalf of Afghanistan or Pakistan in that regard.

It is something that requires continuing attention. It's happening all across the globe. It proves the point that the global war on terror is not a problem in one country or for one country. It is a problem that crosses borders, not just that border, but other borders of Afghanistan.

It crosses borders in other countries. In fact, I can name five, six or seven countries where borders are actively used to advantage the terrorists. And it is a very difficult problem for both countries and for the coalition, which is now 90 countries involved in this global war on terror. It's a very difficult problem for the coalition because of the complexities of these cross-border operations.

QUESTION: Mr. President, (UNINTELLIGIBLE), what do you see the challenges, sir, in terms of the physical reconstruction?

KARZAI: Did I speak on physical reconstruction?

RUMSFELD: I'd be happy to, Mr. President.

In the last analysis, the task is to create an environment that's hospitable for people, for investment, for enterprise, for commerce. And that is where physical reconstruction comes from. It comes from that confidence.

And there are some very positive indicators in this country. One, is just driving down the street and seeing the economic activity that's taking place. The second, I talked to the chargee here about the fact that refugees are still returning to this country. And they're voting with their feet (ph).

They're saying yes, we believe in the future of this country. And with their presence and with their investment and with their economic energy and activity and vitality, which is there for people to see, we are going to see a continued growth in improvement, I believe, in this country.

Now, what are the kinds of things that can be done? The provincial reconstruction teams are going out into -- not here in Kabul, but out across the country into, what, six or eight locations soon -- five already -- with the -- as we saw today in Gardez, with the task of helping people. Not doing the whole job, but helping people see that schools are fixed, that wells are dug, that roads are made, that hospitals are repaired and supplied, and that generators exist. And those types of things which can make a measurable difference in people's lives and further contribute to the desire on people -- on the part of people to want to return to this country and be a part of its success in the future.

KARZAI: I'd like to add to this very important question the importance of physical reconstruction in Afghanistan is of the primary interest of the Afghan people. The reconstruction of Afghan highways all over the country is of extreme importance. Work on the highways has already shortened the distance in terms of time for the Afghan people, which is a tremendous value. And the Afghans that have come to see me from all over the country in the past two months have shown extreme happiness that reconstruction of the highways is going on.

Reconstruction in other fields is also going on, and we'd like to have it increased. We'd like to have it added to. That's what the Afghan people want.

As an example of the desire of the Afghan people to make their life good, I'd like to talk about the burning of a school a week ago in Loger (ph). One night the school was burnt, which was a tent. One night the tent was burned, and the next morning the little girls did not stop going to school.

They all lined up and sat there and studied. And if AP is around here, I would like to thank him for having taken that photograph of the students, the little girls studying. So that's the importance of education and reconstruction to the Afghan people, and we're grateful that the world is helping us and that the U.S. has decided to do more on the reconstruction of Afghanistan, especially the physical reconstruction, which also includes, of course, institutions -- ladies?

QUESTION: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) . This month the U.S. (UNINTELLIGIBLE), along with the Afghan (UNINTELLIGIBLE). Do you think that 10,000 troops and (UNINTELLIGIBLE) is enough to truly provide security in this country?

Also, you touched on the subject of (UNINTELLIGIBLE) taking over ISAF. The Afghan people have (UNINTELLIGIBLE). Do you think now that will happen? RUMSFELD: I certainly agreed that an expansion of ISAF will be a good thing. And I know that President Karzai and others from time to time have raised that issue with the nations that have been participating.

For whatever reason, there have not been countries lining up to expand ISAF. And it may vary from country to country, but we have encouraged it. President Karzai has encouraged it. And I don't want to suggest I can see into the future, but it strikes me that some of the things -- the fact that NATO has done what they have done, and the fact that there is some discussion about some broader participation in the provincial reconstruction teams, that there is at least the possibility that we could see somewhat of an expansion.

I would add, however, that in the last analysis the security in Afghanistan is the responsibility of the Afghan people. The presence of foreign forces is a helpful thing for a period. It is an important thing for a period, but it is an anomaly.

It is not a natural circumstance. And no country wants foreign forces in their country interminably. They want to create and contribute to an environment that the country can develop its own security capabilities, police, border guards, army, civil defense capabilities, and then transition those Afghan security capabilities into the full responsibility.

I don't personally believe that the comparison that you cast or suggested, which is an understandable one, is appropriate. I think the circumstances here are dramatically different than they are in Iraq.

KARZAI: In Iraq. Well, thank you very much. Thank you.

COLLINS: We have just been listening out of Kabul this morning to Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and Afghan President Hamid Karzai, talking about the situation there. Some of the main issues that came up, as you would imagine, physical reconstruction of this country and its primary interests of the Afghan people. Talking about schools, hospitals, road construction, things that -- getting a little bit of a progress report for you there this morning.


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