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Cohen Cancels Trip, Concentrates on Iraq, Bosnia

American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Dec. 11, 1997 – The Iraqi crisis has eased, but it has only been deferred, Defense Secretary William S. Cohen said Dec. 9.

Cohen, speaking during a Pentagon news conference, said Saddam Hussein must give U.N. weapons inspection teams unlimited access before the crisis can be resolved.

Cohen canceled a trip to the Middle East in part because of the situation in Iraq. He wants to remain here in case the situation in Iraq deteriorates. Cohen also said the future of a follow-on force for Bosnia figured in his decision to remain at the Pentagon.

"We do have to provide political guidance to the NATO defense committee that is now examining options about what future role the United States and NATO might play in Bosnia," Cohen said.

He told reporters his decision to cancel the trip does not mean military action against Iraq is more likely.

"I'd say tensions [with Iraq] had eased somewhat for the time being," Cohen said. "They could intensify in the future, in the event we don't see a proper resolution of the issue."

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