PM Transcripts

Transcripts from the Prime Ministers of Australia

Transcript 21067

Photo Opportunity / Interview

Photo of Howard, John

Howard, John

Period of Service: 11/03/1996 to 03/12/2007

More information about Howard, John on The National Archive website.

Release Date: 16/01/2004

Release Type: Interview

Transcript ID: 21067

JOURNALIST:

Gentlemen could you give some details to the key issues (inaudible)?

GENERAL RICHARD MYERS:

Well, for my part, I';m here to discuss with General Cosgrove our US/Australia relationship and ways we can continue to improve that. Obviously, we';re great partners for a long long time and we want to keep it that way, I think. And we want to make sure that our forces are interoperable. We';ll probably also talk about some of the regional issues – Iraq, Afghanistan, no doubt North Korea, and talk about how we can contribute to security in region.

JOURNALIST:

There';s been a lot of focus on the ‘Son of Star Wars'; programme this week in Australia. What sort of role would you see for Australia? And Prime Minister, are you open to an Australian contribution?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well, I think the expression ‘Son of Star Wars'; is probably (inaudible) but not quite the right description. It';s really a missile defence system. Australia is very interested in exploring ways in which we might be involved. It seems to me a fairly commonsense proposition that if Australia could have access to a system that prevented missiles directed to Australia from arriving in Australia, then it';s something we ought to be part of and I can';t understand why anybody would be against it. But we';re in the early stages and there';s been some discussion between our people this week and those discussions have finished, which I hope will lead to a memorandum of understanding to be signed between Australia and the United States. And I think that providing it all stacks up to the satisfaction of the two sides, I think that';s a very logical commonsense way to go.

JOURNALIST:

General, just with Iraq – how do you see the current situation in Iraq with the international operations there (inaudible) more contribution from some countries?

GENERAL RICHARD MYERS:

Well, we';ve got 38 countries contributing now with 14 more thinking about contributions. My take on this is the security situation is somewhat improved right now post the capture of Saddam Hussein for a couple of reasons. One is I think Iraqis are less afraid to come forward now with information, they';ve been very useful. And two, because when we captured Saddam Hussein we actually got a lot of intelligence on the structure of the regime - elements that were coming out of the Coalition, the International Red Cross and the UN, we have a pretty good idea of the structure. We also have, now it';s almost 200,000 Iraqis providing for their own security, so that';s gone from zero in May to now almost 200,000 that includes the police, civil defence core, security protection service, border guards. These folks are still in the process of being trained in many cases and equipped, but they';re out there and they';re being attacked as well because they are obviously a sign of success and progress for the Iraqi people. So, you know, the old regime want to hang on (inaudible) happen. And, as you know, there';s a move in the middle of this year to stand up a Iraqi Government with a transitional administrative law that will take them through to the next phase to develop a constitution then elections. And so that';s all moving a pace, the economic side is moving as well with a lot of the infrastructure being rebuilt. So I think all positive trends, the security situation, I think it';s too early to tell whether this increase recently is a permanent thing or if it';s just a phenomenon over the last several weeks so we';ll have to wait and see on that. It';s still a very challenging place and we appreciate everything that contributing nations are doing and that includes Australia.

PRIME MINISTER:

Okay. Thanks fellas.

[ends]

Transcript 21067