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US, Australia Reaffirm Terrorism Fight


The United States and Australia have vowed to continue fighting terrorists in Southeast Asia and insurgents in Iraq. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, in Australia for annual security talks, also defended the treatment of terrorism suspects at the U.S. detention facility in Guantanamo Bay.

The United States and Australia have agreed to intensify counterterrorism efforts in Southeast Asia and Iraq.

The pledge followed a day of talks in Adelaide. Australian Defense Minister Robert Hill and Foreign Minister Alexander Downer were joined by Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and Deputy Secretary of State Robert Zoellick.

In a joint statement, the officials promised there would be no letup in the two country's efforts to defeat "terrorists and insurgents" in Iraq.

Talking to reporters, Mr. Rumsfeld acknowledged difficulties in Iraq, but insisted that U.S. policies there would be successful in the end.

"Is it going to be perfectly smooth going forward? No. It is going to be bumpy," Mr. Rumsfeld said. "There will be times when it is ugly, but by golly, I think they are [the Iraqis are] going to make it."

The officials also pledged to work more closely with Indonesia and the Philippines in their fight against terrorism.

Foreign Minister Downer said that Canberra and Washington had been "impressed" by Indonesia's recent achievements in countering militants.

Indonesian authorities last week hunted down and killed one of the region's most wanted men, Malaysian bombmaker Azahari Husin. He was widely accused of being one of the masterminds behind a number of deadly attacks, including the Bali bombings in 2002 and earlier this year that killed a total of more than 220 people.

The treatment of David Hicks, the only Australian held as an "enemy combatant" at the U.S. detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, was also discussed.

Mr. Hicks has denied charges of conspiracy to commit war crimes, attempted murder, and aiding the enemy.

His lawyers have claimed that he has been abused during his four years in custody. But Mr. Rumsfeld says detainees at Guantanamo Bay are well treated.

"Uniformly, people who go there come away saying that it is being handled in a highly professional manner, and that the treatment that is being provided people in Guantanamo Bay is excellent treatment," he said.

Australia has been a strong supporter of the U.S-led campaigns in Afghanistan and Iraq. It has contributed hundreds of troops in Afghanistan, and more than 1,000 in Iraq.

Canberra gave an assurance this week that its commitment in both countries is open-ended.