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French defense leaders sign Space Agreement
U.S. and French defense leaders
consulted on a wide range of mutual interests and signed an agreement
on space situational awareness at the Pentagon today.
Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates and French Defense Minister
Alain Juppe discussed Afghanistan, restoring NATO, containing
Iran’s nuclear ambitions and defeating international terrorism,
and also addressed the situation in Egypt.
Gates hosted Juppe and his party last night at a restaurant
that once hosted John Quincy Adams and Marquis de Lafayette in
On Egypt, both men emphasized the need for a peaceful transition.
Gates said the Egyptian military “has conducted itself
in an exemplary manner” through the protests.
“They have acted with great restraint, and frankly, they
have done everything that we have indicated we hoped they would
do,” Gates said. “They have made a contribution to
the evolution of democracy that we’ve seen in Egypt.”
Egypt needs an orderly transition, but it needs to continue
to move forward in a way that allows people to see “a steady
pace in implementing a number of the reforms that have been announced
and which the Egyptian government has committed,” Gates
Juppe stressed that both the United States and France want free
and fair elections in Egypt.
“It’s up to the people of Egypt to decide about
that,” he said through a translator. “We are ready
to support whatever decisions they make.”
Juppe said Arab leaders always have told the West that “it
was either us or Islamic chaos.” He said the countries
need to let opposition parties form and should not let anyone “confiscate
the democratic process.”
Gates called the uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt a “spontaneous
manifestation of discontent on the part of people who have both
economic and political grievances.” The United States has
been aware of the problems, he said, and has spoken to governments
in the region on their need to address these problems.
“I would hope that other governments in the region, seeing
this spontaneous action in Tunisia and Egypt, would take measures
to begin moving in a positive direction,” he said. “In
this way, we can have an orderly transition toward greater democracy.”
The two men also signed a bilateral statement on principles
for space situational awareness. Gates said the agreement will
go a long way toward addressing one of the key security challenges
of the 21st century.
“As the new strategy puts it, space is becoming increasingly
congested, contested and competitive,” he said.
A growing number of nations are using space for a growing number
of purposes: manned spacecraft, satellites, the international
space station and more. This increases the odds of accidental
In addition, many space technologies undergird civilian and
defense capabilities such as precision navigation, climate monitoring,
secure communications and natural disaster warnings.
“These agreements help us mitigate situations by sharing
information and pooling our varied capabilities,” Gates
said. “Our arrangement will foster safety and reduce the
chance of mishaps, misperceptions and mistrust. Such cooperation
is a key aspect of our National Security Space Strategy.”
Juppe emphasized the high level of confidence the French have
in their military relationship with the United States. He said
the close cooperation between the two nations allows their militaries
to work together from Afghanistan -- where France has more than
a brigade of troops working with American forces in Regional
Command East -– to space, which the minister called one
of the most challenging domains.
He assured Gates that France is a reliable partner despite budget
constraints that all nations are facing.
“I want to stress that we will safeguard the operational
capability of our armed forces,” Juppe said.
Media Availability with Secretary Gates and Minister
February 8, 2011
SEC. GATES: Before signing these documents, the minister and
I would like to make a few comments. I've been happy to welcome
Minister Juppé this morning for his first visit to the
Pentagon as defense minister. We've just finished a very productive
set of discussions covering a broad range of our long-standing
defense cooperation, including bringing lasting stability to
Afghanistan, reforming NATO, containing Iran's illegal nuclear
ambitions, defeating international terrorism and addressing
the serious situation in Egypt.
Today, the minister and I sign a bilateral statement of principles
on space situational awareness that will go a long way to addressing
one of the key security challenges of the 21st century. As the
new national security space strategy puts it, space is becoming
increasingly congested, contested and competitive. A growing
number of nations are using space for an expanding variety of
purposes, manned spacecraft, satellites, the International Space
Station and more, increasing the odds of accidental collisions.
At the same time, space-based technologies underpin many essential
civilian and defense capabilities, precision navigation, climate
monitoring, secure communications and natural disaster warnings.
Space situational awareness agreements like this one help us
mitigate these and other risks by sharing information and pooling
our varied capabilities. This arrangement will foster safety
and reduce the chances of mishaps, misperceptions and mistrust.
Such cooperation is a key aspect of the national security space
It is appropriate that France, the United States' first defense
ally, has once again chosen to join us in this endeavor. Last
evening, I had the pleasure of hosting Minister Juppé along
with other French and U.S. officials for dinner at a tavern where
Secretary of State John Quincy Adams played host to General Lafayette
in 1824. Two centuries later, France remains our strong and valued
partner on the global stage. We're grateful now, as ever, for
their support and their friendship.
MIN. JUPPÉ: Thank you. Let me first thank Robert Gates
for his warm welcome, the quality and the density of our conversations
during this first working meeting, which focused mainly on our
bilateral relation in terms of defense and security.
I want to emphasize the high level of confidence in this relation
both at the level of the political dialogue and in the military
cooperation between our two countries, which allows a closer
cooperation, including in the most strategic domains like space.
Secretary Gates and myself, signing a declaration of principles,
laying the principles of a new and ambitious partnership in terms
of space situational awareness is a symbol of this will to cooperate.
Signing such an agreement between the USA and another NATO
country is a first. Through all our space capabilities, France
is a reliable partner. In a mutual interest, our two countries
have decided to reinforce their defense-space cooperation in
order to safeguard access and use of space with a peaceful end
I want to underline from this will to build common approaches
with the U.S. on major common security stakes -- Afghanistan,
the reform of NATO, Iran and proliferation, counterterrorism.
Despite budget constraints, we want to express a will to safeguard
the operational capability of our armed forces and remain a credible
ally for the USA at a moment when the balance in this world is
changing. This is a sense of the thorough reform of our defense
tool initiated at the national level. This is also the sense
of the unprecedented bilateral cooperation that we have initiated
with the United Kingdom. We want this cooperation to be an example
for our other European partners.
Finally, this is why we are offering our European Union partners
to boost European defense, pool our resources, our skills and
our capacities to reinforce the global efficiency of the European
defense effort in the context of budget constraint.
I appreciate very much, Mr. Secretary, our wonderful dinner
yesterday evening in a very elegant place. And we served prestigious
predecessors; I am here after Lafayette -- (laughter) -- and
for me, it's a very great honor. Thank you very much.
(The agreement is signed.)
STAFF: We have time, I think, for a couple of questions. Why
don't we go to our French friends first. Agence France-Presse,
is Matthew here?
STAFF: Please, speak up. I know that you can be seen.
Q: Yeah. I'll ask my question in French if you change my mic
volume. (Laughter.) Sorry. (Through interpreter.) After the events
in Tunisia, Egypt is now facing a crisis that threatens the regime
of President Mubarak. I wonder if France and the United States
have been consulting each other about what to do and what may
happen to this country and how to react to the situation in Egypt.
MIN. JUPPÉ: (Through interpreter.) Of course, we've
talked to each other about the situation in Egypt, in Tunisia
and on the southern bank of the Mediterranean because it's something
that concerns us.
We of course are -- our analysis, our views of the situation
are very similar between the two countries. French of course
is for democracy to come to these two countries with free and
fair elections because free and fair elections are the basis
for a democratic regime. We hope that the process will take place
without violence and as soon as possible.
Q: (Through interpreter.) Mr. Minister, in view of the situation,
the revolutions that we have seen in Tunisia, in Egypt, those
will give way to a political system in the Middle East that --
it will be very different from what we have seen in the last
MIN. JUPPÉ: (Through interpreter.) Of course, first
of all, it's up to the peoples of the two countries to decide
about that. Of course, Tunisians -- the people of Tunisia have
been a friend of the French people for a long time, the people
of Egypt the same thing. So we are ready to support whatever
decision they make.
Of course, we must look at all this with a clear mind. We know
that one of the trademarks of authoritarian regimes is that they
prevent the opposition to express their views. One of the first
things is for of course the opposition force to get organized.
Many of the leaders of those countries for a long time have
been telling us it's either them in place or Islamic chaos. We
now have to bet on democratic forces that will emerge and will
not confiscate democracy in favor of other things after elections,
as unfortunately has happened elsewhere. And I think that this
betting must be taken.
Q: Mr. Secretary --
STAFF: To the Associated Press. Pauline?
Q: (Off mic.) The U.S. administration --
STAFF: Speak up, Pauline, please.
Q: (Off mic) -- the U.S. administration is backing away from
the Egyptian protesters' demands for an immediate departure of
President Mubarak, which appears to leave the protesters in some
jeopardy hanging out in the streets.
Mr. Minister, Mr. Secretary, if you could both answer, what
role do you want the Egyptian security forces to play vis-a-vis
the protesters? And do you have assurances from your counterpart
that that will happen?
SEC. GATES: Well, first of all, I think that the Egyptian military
has conducted itself in an exemplary fashion during this entire
episode. And they have acted with great restraint. And frankly,
they have done everything that we have indicated we would hope
that they would do. So I would -- I would say that they have
made a contribution to the evolution of democracy and what we're
seeing in Egypt.
I think that what is important, as Secretary Clinton has pointed
out, is for there to be an orderly transition. But it's -- it
needs to be a transition that continues to move forward and a
transition where people can see a steady pace in implementing
the number of reforms that have been announced and to which the
Egyptian government has committed. So continuing to move forward
with this and fulfill the promises that have been made, I think,
is quite critical.
MIN. JUPPÉ: (Through interpreter.) I have very little
to add to this. We have said before, we -- the important thing
is that there is a transition towards democracy. We have mentioned
that the timeline for this transition must be decided and worked
out among the forces at play. But the important thing is to advance,
as was said before, towards democracy.
STAFF: And in the interest of fairness, one more question from
the French press. Would the French press please speak up?
Q: Yes. Mr. Secretary, do you fear here the domino effect in
this part of the world? And at one point, if chaos is still there,
will the military intervene to restore democracy?
SEC. GATES: Well, what we have seen take place in Tunisia and
in Egypt is a spontaneous manifestation of discontent on the
part of people who feel -- who have both economic and political
grievances. We have known about these grievances for a long time.
And we have spoken to a number of governments in the region over
time about the need to address these concerns.
And so my hope would be that other governments in the region,
seeing this spontaneous action in both Tunisia and in Egypt,
will take measures to begin moving in a positive direction toward
addressing the political and economic grievances of their people.
In this way, it seems to me, we can have, as -- again, as Secretary
Clinton would put it, an orderly transition to greater democracy
and, frankly, to address the economic problems that exist in
many countries, particularly those that face what we call the
youth bulge, that have very large parts of their population between
the ages of 15 and 35, often people with educations, who can't
find jobs. Addressing these concerns, I think, is very important.
STAFF: Thank you all.
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