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[] NYT 17.10.01: Rumsfeld To Appeal To Arab Public On Mideast TV Network,
New York Times
October 17, 2001

Rumsfeld To Appeal To Arab Public On Mideast TV Network

By Eric Schmitt

WASHINGTON, Oct. 16 ? Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld reached out today on a Middle East television network to assure Arab viewers that the United States was waging war against terrorists in Afghanistan, not the Afghan people.

Mr. Rumsfeld became the latest senior Bush administration official to grant an interview to Al Jazeera, the television network in Qatar, which has angered American officials by broadcasting tapes made by Osama bin Laden.

On Monday, Condoleezza Rice, the national security adviser, also answered questions from the network, telling reporters later that it was part of the administration's effort to counter Mr. bin Laden's propaganda. But the administration has had difficulty in delivering a clear message to different audiences on both domestic security and the aims of the military operation, and it was unclear how Mr. Rumsfeld's comments might influence Al Jazeera's 40 million viewers worldwide.

"This effort is not against Afghanistan's people, it's not against any race or any religion," Mr. Rumsfeld said in the interview, which is scheduled to be broadcast on Wednesday. "It is against terrorism, and terrorists, and the senior people that are harboring terrorists."

Throughout the interview, Mr. Rumsfeld sought to couch the United States response to the attacks on Sept. 11 as "a matter of self-defense." Mr. Rumsfeld also said the Pentagon was going to great lengths to avoid bombing residential areas. Two American bombs struck a Red Cross compound today in Kabul, the Afghan capital, injuring an Afghan guard and destroying relief supplies.

When asked whether Mr. bin Laden's and his network, Al Qaeda, attacked the United States because Washington has troops based in Saudi Arabia, Mr. Rumsfeld said American troops were present only in nations where they were welcome.

"We're nowhere where we're not wanted," he said. "Where we are is where people who live there have decided they would like to have us for their protection."

As the fear of additional and more virulent anthrax attacks gripped the United States today, Mr. Rumsfeld also said Washington could not stand by as the threat from biological and chemical weapons increased.

"It is perfectly possible that those kinds of weapons may be used," he said, "and it won't be hundreds or thousands of casualties, but hundreds of thousands of people." 

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