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08 March 2002

Transcript: Cheney Travels to Mideast, Europe to Talk About War on Terror

(Also plans to discuss ideas for peace in the Middle East) (1170)
Vice President Dick Cheney said he is embarking on his trip to the
Middle East and Europe March 10 to deal with the war on terror and the
crisis between Israelis and Palestinians.
"[T]he main reason that the President wanted me to go was to talk
about the continuing war on terror, and our ongoing operations not
only in Afghanistan, but in other respects, as well, too," Cheney said
in Washington March 8.
He said he will also deal with the crisis between Israelis and
Palestinians and discuss Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah's ideas for
regional peace.
The vice president's travel plan calls for stops in Egypt, Israel,
Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Oman, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar,
Bahrain, and Kuwait as well as Britain and Turkey.
(begin transcript)
THE WHITE HOUSE Office of the Press Secretary March 8, 2002
The Roosevelt Room
10:20 A.M. EST
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, obviously, I'm glad to see some interest in
the trip. It should be an interesting trip. The President and I have
talked about it over a period of several months -- that is, the
President had the idea in mind that at some point he would want to
send me into the region, partly because of my own background and
experience, especially with these particular countries in this
particular part of the world. The timing was such, especially after
9/11, that it was difficult to do anything last year, so we sort of
pointed toward the first part of this year.
The trip has taken on, I suppose, a little bit of added significance
because of the Middle East crisis with respect to the peace process,
but I wouldn't over-emphasize that aspect of it. It's clearly
something that will come up at every stop. It would have come up at
virtually every stop anyway, even if it hadn't been for recent
developments between the Israelis and the Palestinians. But given the
Zinni mission, given the vision the Crown Prince put forward recently,
recent conversations we've had with Prime Minister Sharon and
President Mubarak here in Washington, conversations with the Crown
Prince by telephone, it's bound to be a subject that I'll spend time
on at each stop.
I'll be soliciting the views of our hosts in terms of how they look at
the current state of affairs and what suggestions they have. We've
also got the upcoming Arab summit in Beirut March 27th and 28th, so
clearly that will be one of the subjects I discuss.
Apart from that, the main reason that the President wanted me to go
was to talk about the continuing war on terror, and our ongoing
operations not only in Afghanistan, but in other respects, as well,
One of the things the President has emphasized is, even as we proceed
in Afghanistan -- and we clearly have made major progress there,
although there remains a lot of work to be done; we still have
significant ongoing operations in terms of Operation Anaconda, and
there may well be others in the months ahead -- it also is important
for us not to overlook the activities that are required in other parts
of the region.
And part of the effort here, as well, is to make certain that we don't
allow a sanctuary to develop someplace else that could become a
refuge, if you will, for the al Qaeda that are currently under
enormous pressure in Afghanistan from U.S. forces. That means that
it's important for us to continue to work with our friends in those
other nations out there that have been affected by the al Qaeda
operation. Just as we know there was an al Qaeda cell here in the
United States that conducted the attacks on September 11th, there are
cells in other countries in the region out there.
It's important to remember also that the strategy has involved one of
not only military action, such as we've engaged in in Afghanistan, but
also intelligence-sharing, cooperation on law enforcement, significant
efforts with respect to drying up the financial resources of the al
Qaeda network wherever we can find them. And in the military arena, in
some cases where we don't -- where we're not involved in direct U.S.
military action, the military, nonetheless, has a role to play in
terms of training, providing equipment, helping equip friendly states
to deal with the threats that they encounter on their own soil. And
those kinds of issues will very much be front and center in terms of
my conversations as I travel through the region.
We also have a lot of U.S. military forces deployed in that part of
the world. One of the aspects of my trip that I look forward to is
having the opportunity to spend time with some of our troops. Some of
them are actively engaged in operations in Afghanistan; some of them
are there in support roles. But it will be an opportunity for me to
talk firsthand with some of the people who have been carrying out
activities that are either in -- directly involved in Afghanistan, or
supporting our operations there, as well as to say thank you to the
young men and women who are out there putting their necks on the line
every day for us. And so I'll be involved in doing some of that, as
well, too.
Finally, at each stop we clearly have ongoing bilateral relations of
various kinds -- in some cases, efforts that are focused on
military-to-military relationships; some cases, important economic
relationships. The Saudis, for example, very interested in economic
reform and accession into the WTO. So there will be these kinds of
issues that I'll be discussing at each stop, as well.
All in all, it will be about 10 days, 12 countries, and it should be a
good trip. The final point I'd make, some people ask, why are you
going. The President asked me to go. It is an area of the world where
I've been actively involved in the past, both in public and private
life. I think I've been in all but one of these countries before.
There's only one that's a new stop for me; that's Yemen.
In most cases, I'm also -- I'll be dealing with people that I've dealt
with before over the years. And so it's familiar territory from that
standpoint. And I think by sending me, the President emphasizes the
importance he places on these relationships. But the entire
administration has been engaged in that region, in preparation for my
trip. General Powell's been an integral part of that; Don Rumsfeld has
been an integral part of that. Don and Condi and Colin and I all met
this morning to go over it one last time before I take off. So it's
part of a team effort. And as the Vice President, I've got an extra
set of hands, and this is an area where I can be useful. So that's the
prime reason for my going.
(end transcript)
(Distributed by the Office of International Information Programs, U.S.
Department of State. Web site:

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