Monday, May 5, 2003
Thank you all very much. Admiral Kelly, Captain Card, officers and sailors of the USS Abraham Lincoln, my fellow Americans: Major combat operations in Iraq have ended. In the battle of Iraq, the United States and our allies have prevailed. (Applause.) And now our coalition is engaged in securing and reconstructing that country.
We have difficult work to do in Iraq. We are bringing order to parts of that country that remain dangerous. We are pursuing and finding leaders of the old regime, who will be held to account for their crimes. We have begun the search for hidden chemical and biological weapons, and already know of hundreds of sites that will be investigated...We are helping to rebuild Iraq, where the dictator built palaces for himself, instead of hospitals and schools for the people. And we will stand with the new leaders of Iraq as they establish a government of, by, and for the Iraqi people.
The situation on the ground in Afghanistan has clearly moved from "major combat activity to a period of stability and stabilization," Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said during a visit today to the Afghan capital. Rumsfeld said he is "impressed with the marked change" in Kabul since his last visit in April 2002. The differences might not be so readily apparent by someone who sees the city every day, he said, "but for me to come back after many months now and see the progress, to feel the energy in the street, to see the kiosks and people active and cars moving around and young children coming and going, … It's a measure of progress."
The president did not say what you said he said. The president said that we have moved from a period of major military conflict to a period of stabilization. It is never this way or that way completely. There will continue to be pockets of resistance, there will continue to be people killed, as there have been killed and wounded in recent days, unfortunately...Major military combat activity is over...Well, that's how we did phrase it. And that's how the president phrased it, also...You say "however you want to phrase it." I think it's important how it is phrased. And the reason I say that is because it would be a terrible mistake to think that Iraq is a fully secure, fully pacified environment. It is not. It is dangerous. There are people who are rolling hand grenades into compounds. There are people that are shooting people. And it's not finished. So we ought not to leave the world with the impression that it is.
We are not in the business of threatening, but what the President said, what Secretary Powell said, and what I said is the truth. And the truth was that Syria was permitting weapons to go into Iraq when we were in war with Iraq. And we didn't like it and we said so. Second, Syria was allowing senior Iraqis to go into 'Iraq' [Syria]. We didn't like it. We don't like it, and we said so. Third, Iraq, Syria was permitting busloads of people to move from Syria into Iraq with weapons and they were being given money to do it. Now, when you are in a war, you don't like neighboring countries sending weapons or fighters into the country to try to kill Coalition forces. It seems to be a perfectly reasonable position. It is a fact, not a threat. And that is all I have to say.
Hello. I'm Don Rumsfeld, the American secretary of Defense. I am delighted to be able to visit Baghdad and Iraq, your country, to witness the liberation of the country. The American people share your joy and pleasure that the tyranny that was here is gone. We've watched you embrace your freedom: pulling down statues of Saddam Hussein, worshipping freely for the first time in decades, debating the future of your country, and even raising your voices in dissent on some occasion, but without fear of torture or death.
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