INDEPENDENT NEWS

PM Howard Defends His Pre-Emptive Strike Comments

Published: Wed 4 Dec 2002 08:14 AM
3 December 2002
EXTRACT FROM PRESS CONFERENCE WITH AUSTRALIAN PM JOHN HOWARD & SIR MICHAEL SOMARE.... FROM... FULL TRANSCRIPT
....
JOURNALIST:
Mr Howard, did you discuss your remarks on the terrorism issue today [inaudible] and your remarks at the weekend of [inaudible] strikes…
PRIME MINISTER HOWARD:
What you mean between Michael and I?
JOURNALIST:
Did you discuss that issue?
PRIME MINISTER HOWARD:
No, not my remarks, no. But as to the… I mean, we touched in the context of other discussions, we touched briefly on the issue of terrorism. But explicitly in relation to the other thing, no.
JOURNALIST:
Do you think Asian countries are overreacting or misinterpreting your remarks?
PRIME MINISTER HOWARD:
That's for you to… you're the commentator, I'm the player, the advocate, the participant, you can do the commentary. I made those remarks very carefully in a very low key fashion. They were quite accurate. They were not directed at any of our friends. Self-evidently they weren’t directed at any of our friends and anybody who read those remarks would come to that conclusion. I don’t resile from them in any way.
JOURNALIST:
Well have they been taken the wrong way by Asian countries?
PRIME MINISTER HOWARD:
Well I’m not going to get into a commentary on that. I don’t think anything is achieved. The words are clear, simple, direct, people understand what they mean. They don’t mean any bellicosity towards our friends. They are a statement of the obvious in relation to the most elementary and fundamental responsibilities of the government.
JOURNALIST:
Prime Minister, clearly senior political figures have interpreted them as a provocative statement. Are you not concerned that your statements could damage Australia’s relationships with some of its closest….?
PRIME MINISTER HOWARD:
I don’t believe that our relations have been damaged by those statements at all. I think they are known and understood for what they are and that is a statement of the obvious and I don’t resile in any way from them.
....
ENDS

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