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Hill And Rumsfeld Meet

Senator Robert Hill, Minister for DefenceThe Minister for Defence, Senator Robert Hill, has met with his American counterpart, Donald Rumsfeld, in Singapore.

Senator Hill attended the Fourth Asia Security Conference (Shangri La Dialogue) hosted by the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS). He lead Australia’s delegation, including the departmental Secretary for Defence, Mr Ric Smith, and Chief of Air Force, Air Marshal Angus Houston. The dialogue attracts high level representation from Australia, South East Asian nations, Japan, Republic of Korea, Pakistan, New Zealand, UK, US, France and Canada. Senator Hill delivered an address to the conference on ‘Asia Pacific Armed Forces and Counter Terrorism’.

“The Shangri La Dialogue is one of the largest annual international meetings of Defence Ministers and Chiefs of Defence Forces,” Senator Hill said. “It provides an opportunity for a broad range of bilateral exchanges between countries on defence and security issues.”

Following the Singapore conference, Senator Hill will visit Beijing, Nanjing and Shanghai in China. He will meet with the Chinese Minister for National Defence, General Cao, and other senior defence officials. “This visit will be an opportunity to discuss further cooperation between the Australian Defence Force and the People’s Liberation Army in areas of mutual interest such as counter terrorism,” Senator Hill said. Australia’s defence engagement with China currently includes a wide range of activities, such as senior level visits, strategic dialogue and educational exchanges.

This is the transcript of the joint press conference held by the Minister for Defence, Senator Robert Hill, and the United States Secretary for Defence, Donald Rumsfeld, at the Shangri-La Hotel, Singapore.

SENATOR HILL:

Well I think this is in effect a follow up from last year and it’s great to have the Secretary at this conference, supporting these conferences, and the fact that we can get such a broad representation to particularly discuss issues that face the region such as the continuing terrorism threat, to take stock of where we’re up to in terms of our cooperative responses is a good thing and we are very pleased you made the journey Mr Secretary. In terms of our bilateral relationship of course it’s as strong as ever. There is an opportunity in the bilateral way to have a talk about where things are in Iraq and Afghanistan and I think that the joint view is that there is a lot to achieve in Iraq in terms of the political process, in terms of building up the security forces and despite the insurgency we remain positive and optimisitic.

SECRETARY RUMSFELD:

And I have nothing to add. (Laugh) I’d be happy to respond to a couple of questions.

JOURNALIST:

The Japanese Minister, Mr Ohno, yesterday said that they believe there needs to be consensus among the five parties to send the North Korea issue to the Security Council of the UN. I’m wondering what the Bush Administration’s policy is on that?

SECRETARY RUMSFELD:

The President’s policy has been exactly what’s been announced. That he has encouraged the six party talks and been on the diplomatic path and to the extent that he or the Department of State have any other announcements to make, they’ll make them.

JOURNALIST:

Secretary Rumsfeld, you talked in your speech yesterday about missile forces not just in the Pacific Region, Chinese missile forces. What exactly is your concern about China’s upgrading of its longer range missiles?

SECRETARY RUMSFELD:

I think it was just an observation that the report that’s required by Congress to be submitted. It was simply an observation of something that was in that report. The other statement I made was the increased deployments that look to be more related the Taiwan area, but it was simply a statement of fact.

JOURNALIST:

Mr Secretary……

SECRETARY RUMSFELD:

Is there anyone from Australia?

JOURNALIST:

Minister Hill and two other Defence Ministers this morning in the plenary session said that basically they don’t feel that you should engage, or enter into a dialogue with terrorists and at the same time engage the broader community. What would the US view on this be?

SECRETARY RUMSFELD:

I don’t understand the question, say it again?

JOURNALIST:

Somebody in the session asked should we talk to Osama as sort of a pretty strong statement and the three Defence Ministers said we should not talk to hard core terrorists but we should try to engage the broader Muslim community. What is the US view on this?

SECRETARY RUMSFELD:

Oh I wouldn’t disagree with that.

JOURNALIST:

We need a quote from you Mr Secretary. (Laugh)

JOURNALIST:

Have you discussed any new initiatives on counter terrorism in this region?

SECRETARY RUMSFELD:

Well there have certainly been discussions in the conference and in bilaterals about the issue of terrorism and I’ve had discussions with ministers about the regional issues related to terror but I don’t have anything to add.

JOURNALIST:

Senator Hill, in your meeting today did you discuss about concerns over North Korea’s nuclear program and missile capability.

SENATOR HILL:

Whose?

JOURNALIST:

North Korea’s

SENATOR HILL:

North Korea. Well we touched on the North Korean issue and obviously our desire that North Korea returns to the talks. We are supportive of the process and when I’m in China next week, I’ll be urging China to be more proactive on the issue as well. They have considerable influence and we would like them to use all of that influence to encourage North Korea to return to the table.

SECRETARY RUMSFELD:

Thank you very much folks.

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