U.S. Department of Defense
Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense (Public Affairs)
|Presenter: Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates||November 06, 2007|
SECRETARY GATES: I hope you all enjoyed your tour. It’s been wonderful to see the Forbidden City. I hope I didn’t inconvenience too many tourists. It’s spectacular and it’s amazing the renovations they have underway in preparation for the Beijing Olympics.
I had a good meeting with President Hu. We talked a good deal about the military-to-military relationship. He indicated his support for moving forward on a dialogue on strategic military matters of concern to both sides. And we also spent a fair amount of time on Taiwan. It was very productive meeting, very cordial. I think it was quite constructive.
QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, if I could ask you about the visit as a whole, what do you feel you achieved and what matters remain to be resolved?
SECRETARY GATES: I think first of all we did agree on a number of specific areas in which to expand the military-to-military relationship, certainly beginning with the direct telephone link between the militaries, but a number of other areas -- exchanges from military education institutions, exchanges of mid-level and junior level officers, visits of senior officials, agreement on archival access and work on their help on POW/MIA issues -- which is very constructive. So I think we took advantage of the opportunity to expand those contacts.
I think I got an opportunity to address directly with them issues of concern to us. In all of the meetings, I expressed our concern with the pace and scope of their strategic modernization programs and the anti-satellite test.
I hope what will come out of it was an ongoing dialogue about these. It’s not just a matter of just raising it and each side sort of having a set-piece response, but rather to enter into a longer-term dialogue about perceptions of threats, about a world that faces a threat of nuclear proliferation. Perhaps ways of finding some confidence building measures along the way. But I see this as an ongoing process rather than a one-time event.
And then I also had the opportunity to talk at some length about our concerns about Iran, that an Iran that is a destabilizing force in the region is not in anyone’s interests, including in China’s. If one is interested in long-term energy security, then a stable Persian Gulf/Middle East area is a very high priority. So we had some interesting conversations about Iran.
QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, you’re heading to South Korea now. Can you talk a little about what you hope to accomplish there? And also, North Korea apparently yesterday began dismantling its nuclear facilities. What do you know about that?
SECRETARY GATES: I’m not up to speed about what happened yesterday, but I think people are generally satisfied with the progress so far with the Six Party Talks.
I think that the focus in South Korea will basically be to take advantage of these regular meetings to mark the progress of the alliance as we move towards the transition in 2012.
QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, in talking to President Hu about Iran, did he give any indication that China might be willing to consider economic sanctions?
SECRETARY GATES: The flow of the conversation was such that we really spent all of our time on the military relationship and on Taiwan. I had raised Iran in great detail in all four of my meetings yesterday, and the flow of the conversation was such I did not feel the need to bring it up again.
QUESTION: What was President Hu’s message on Taiwan? What was the main point?
SECRETARY GATES: Well, they’re obviously quite concerned about what they see as possible moves towards de jure independence, and I restated our position that we are opposed to any effort by anyone unilaterally to change the status quo.
QUESTION: Dr. Gates, did you say anything different on Taiwan? Did you try to express the U.S. policy in any different language to try to advance the dialogue on the question that is of key concern to them?
SECRETARY GATES: No. This is actually a diplomatic issue so a little bit out of my lane, but I basically reiterated the fact that the U.S. government has been quite clear in its messages to the leaders in Taiwan not to change the status quo.
QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, there has been some confusion about the review of aid to Pakistan. Can you break down what is being considered for review? How much of the aid that is given to Pakistan is for counter-terrorism versus military procurement? There is some confusion about that.
SECRETARY GATES: I just know that we’re taking a look at all of it. Some of it is governed by law. There are some waivers for some of it. Again, out here, I’m not really fully in touch with the reviews that are going on back in Washington, but I think that they are looking at all forms of assistance in terms of what requirements there might be in terms of action. Also, as I indicated yesterday, we also want to be mindful of the fact that Pakistan continues to be an extremely important ally in the war on terror, so we have an interest in an ongoing security relationship.
AIDE: This is the last one, please.
QUESTION: Mr.. Secretary, what about the future? What’s the next step in regards to China for the Department of Defense?
SECRETARY GATES: I think the next step is, there is a regular group called the Defense Consultative Talks. I think that group meets in December. We will have -- I think Under Secretary [Eric] Edelman will lead our delegation for that. And I think they will follow up on a number of the things we discussed here.
Thank you all very much.
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