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Presenter: Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld Monday, March 21, 2005

Secretary Rumsfeld En-Route to Argentina

            RUMSFELD:  -- (inaudible) Guatemala. These are important countries and we take a personal interest in this hemisphere and events that take place here.  We have good military-to-military relationships with all three countries.  Guatemala, of course, is a leader in Central America.  We have had a good relationship with theirr efforts in Haiti where they're all three involved.  This is important.  We have been in discussion with [inaudible] Argentina and Chile, our increasing relationship with science and technology.  I would anticipate that we will be discussing MANPADs which of course is a concern in the world and something we've been working on with a number of countries all across the globe.


            I'd be happy to answer a couple of questions.


            PRESS:  [inaudible]  Speaking of MANPADs, the United States [inaudible] Nicaragua.  I'm wondering if that's a wakeup call or a forewarning that [inaudible].


            RUMSFELD:  There are discussions taking place, and clearly my impression from my meetings is that there is the intention to go forward with the plan that they laid out.  Obviously there are some impediments to that at the present time, and those things [inaudible] work through that.


            PRESS:  [inaudible] cooperating fully [inaudible].  ?


            RUMSFELD:  We have done what we've done, they've done what they've done, and I have every reason to believe what the president and the minister would like to follow through with the plan that they've outlined, and what they have to do is work through their circumstance and their thinking at the present time.


            PRESS:  [inaudible]?


            RUMSFELD:  Well they've got apparently internal impediments to achieving what they'd like to achieve and I suppose they'll have to work that out.


            PRESS:  [Inaudible] issues within [inaudible], then you've got this MANPAD issue.  Is Nicaragua stabilizing [inaudible] in Central America at a time when the other countries seem to be sort of coming together more cooperatively?


            RUMSFELD:  I feel really good about Central America generally.  I think a large number of those countries recognize the opportunity that they have to work more closely together on political, economic, and stability issues.  I think that's a good thing for the hemisphere.  I'm sure that at any given time there will be issues that would be, they'll have to wrestle with within one or more countries, but generally I think that things are moving quite positively in Central America.


            PRESS:  Are you talking about MANPADs (inaudible)?  Since [inaudible] why is it important to [inaudible] nations?


            RUMSFELD:  It's important anywhere in the world, and it's something we've talked about obviously with the Russians and with many other countries and do on a regular basis.  It's a danger, it's a threat, and it isn't something that we normally think about, for example, against an army or a navy or an air force.  A MANPAD is something that the handlers, the operators, can be managed by terrorists or by revolutionaries or others.


            One other thing I might mention is this linkage of, in some cases a linkage or at least a synergy between crime and narcotics and gangs and hostage-takers in the world and it is something that does concern us and obviously people, terrorists who are willing to, anxious to kill people and to threaten people, a MANPAD is a very effective weapon.


            PRESS:  [inaudible]?


            RUMSFELD:  Well I think the forces in Haiti have done generally a good job and there's no question that as you move toward elections there may very well be people who would like to take steps to prevent them from being successful.  We've certainly seen that in other parts of the world.


            Elections take a lot of planning and a lot of preparation administratively, but they also take a lot of planning and preparation from a security standpoint.  And certainly the countries that have been so helpful in Haiti these past months have that on their agenda to address the question as to what additional steps might need to be taken.


            PRESS:  Some lessons that you learned in Iraq and Afghanistan [inaudible]?


            RUMSFELD:  I wouldn't say that there are any particular lessons other than preparation.  I think recognizing that when people are determined to try to prevent things from happening that the better prepared you are and the more steps you've taken both from a defense [inaudible] standpoint and from a security standpoint, the better off you're going to be.


            But countries in this hemisphere have plenty of experience doing that.


            PRESS:  [inaudible] tri-border area [inaudible] Brazil [inaudible]?  [Inaudible] money laundering and [inaudible] going on there.


            RUMSFELD:  I don't think I want to get into whether or not that's something [inaudible].  But clearly, the people who are engaged in a variety of types of anti-social behavior against established governments and people or populations, look for seams.  They look for places where they can intervene and take advantage of, and those places exist in a lot of places around the world.


            PRESS:  [inaudible].


            RUMSFELD:  I'll tell you on the way home if it comes up.


            PRESS:  Thank you.


            RUMSFELD:  Thank you.