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Last Updated: Saturday, 5 June, 2004, 08:43 GMT 09:43 UK
Rumsfeld warns of long terror war
Donald Rumsfeld
Donald Rumsfeld echoed recent statements by George Bush
US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld has said the world faces a prolonged struggle against Islamist extremism.

He told a security conference in Singapore that the US-led "war on terror" was only in its early stages.

He said there had been progress but "we remain closer to the beginning of this struggle than its end".

Mr Rumsfeld said he had no doubt there were more attacks to come and urged Asian nations to go on the offensive to root out terrorism at source.

Mr Rumsfeld sought to assure delegates at the summit that the US retained a keen strategic interest in Asia.

He said the US remained a Pacific nation and would maintain its security presence in the region.

Washington recently announced it will redeploy some 3,500 troops, currently policing South Korea's frontier with North Korea, to Iraq.

After a meeting with Mr Rumsfeld, Australian Defence Minister Robert Hill pledged to help look after US security interests in the Asia-Pacific region.

Mr Hill said Australia, a key ally in the "war on terror", recognised the US "cannot do everything itself".

"If we can assist in any way, then we will do it," Mr Hill said, adding that it was up to Washington to decide what to do about the offer.

Australia has already committed troops to fight in US-led coalitions in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Praise for Asia

Mr Rumsfeld said he was optimistic about the future of Iraq.

He praised the economic growth and political freedoms of several Asian countries, which, he said, offered a model for the "breathtaking transformation" the US hoped to achieve in Afghanistan and Iraq.

He also praised Singapore for having thwarted an apparent attack on US military installations in 2001.

Echoing recent statements by US President George W Bush, Mr Rumsfeld said there was "more to come" by way of attacks on America and its allies.

Singapore's Prime Minister, Goh Chok Tong told the conference Muslims and non-Muslims would have to work together in the marathon struggle against terrorism.

He also urged the US to adopt what he described as a more balanced approach in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Mr Rumsfeld leaves for Bangladesh on Saturday.

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