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Military

08 March 2002

Cheney's Middle East Trip To Focus On Terrorism

(Vice President leaves March 10 for region) (720)
By Stephen Kaufman
Washington File Staff Writer
Washington -- Vice President Dick Cheney embarks March 10 on a ten-day
trip to the Middle East and Europe to discuss the war on terror and
the Israeli-Palestinian crisis.
The United States does not want to allow a sanctuary for terrorists to
develop someplace else now that the al Qaeda is under U.S. military
pressure in Afghanistan, Cheney said in a televised statement in
Washington on March 8.
"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,"
Cheney said on the C-SPAN channel.
A senior administration official, speaking March 8 at the Foreign
Press Center in Washington, said the trip would take the Vice
President to Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Oman, the
United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Bahrain, and Kuwait as well as to Britain
and Turkey.
"All of the countries we will be visiting have made significant
contributions to the war on terrorism," said the official.
Cheney's talks with Middle East leaders would include financial
measures to be taken against terrorist assets, sharing intelligence
information on terrorist organizations, law enforcement efforts to
detain terrorist suspects, and military training and equipment
supplies for use in the international campaign against terrorism.
"We will continue to need the support and cooperation of our allies
and the opportunity to gain from their insights," said the official.
Cheney's trip overlaps with General Anthony Zinni's visit to the
region to try to broker a ceasefire to the deadly violence between
Israelis and Palestinians. The Vice President will discuss ideas for
resolving the conflict, as well as the recent peace plan put forward
by Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah.
"We see it as a very helpful and hopeful sign that [Crown Prince
Abdullah] would come forward at this time to make such a proposal. And
we look forward to extensive discussions about it and its
ramifications," said the official.
The official also confirmed that Cheney would have discussions with
Arab leaders about Iraq.
"[The topic of] Iraq came up any time he has traveled to the region in
the last decade and it is sure to come up in the discussions during
this trip," said the official.
The United States has made no secret that it would like to see the end
of Iraqi President Saddam Hussein's regime. The senior official said
that Cheney wished to discuss "how the best interests of the people of
Iraq might be reached, and how the best interests of the neighboring
countries might be protected from the threat that Iraq poses."
The official added that Cheney was prepared to hear the views of
Middle Eastern and European leaders, including those in opposition to
U.S. policies.
"It is very important for there to be a frank exchange of views
between the administration and the various other countries in which he
will be traveling as well as the European countries in which he will
travel ... We certainly look forward to those discussions. We look
forward to learning more about the views of the countries we will be
visiting and why they hold them," said the official.
The senior official highlighted Cheney's long personal and public
background in the region, saying the Vice President first traveled
there as part of the U.S. delegation to the late Egyptian President
Gamal Abd al-Nasser's funeral in 1970.
Energy issues will also figure on the Vice President's agenda in the
region.
"[The energy sector] will be a significant part of discussions in an
area that has close to two-thirds of the world's proven oil supplies,
and roughly a third of the world's natural gas supplies," said the
official.
Cheney's tenure as Secretary of Defense during the 1991 Operation
Desert Storm also familiarized him with the region, and the official
said the Vice President, who had been invited to the 2001 ten-year
anniversary celebration in Kuwait "looked forward to a chance to go
back and renew old friendships."
(The Washington File is a product of the Office of International
Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site:
http://usinfo.state.gov)



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