Cohen and Egyptians Talk Missile Sale, Regional Defense
By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service
CAIRO, April 4, 2000 The United States will sell Egypt ground-based versions of the Advanced Medium-Range Air-to- Air Missile system to replace aging Russian weapons, Defense Secretary William S. Cohen said during an April 4 press conference here.
Cohen, who traveled here from Israel, announced the sale at the presidential palace after meetings with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and Defense Minister Mohamed Hussein Tantawi.
The U.S.-Egyptian military relationship has never been better, "but we still hope to make it better each and every year," Cohen said. The AMRAAM sale will bolster that relationship and help Egypt meet its defense needs, he added.
He set no price tag or operational deadline. "These are all things we will work out in consultation with our Egyptian allies," he said.
Cohen praised the willingness of Egypt to work for peace globally and regionally. He said he has seen positive Egyptian and Israeli military contacts that he hopes will lead to cooperation. He specifically cited a meeting at the U.S. Army War College in Carlisle, Pa., attended by Egyptian and Israeli military representatives.
The secretary also said that Egypt needs to be ready to deal with problems of the future such as chemical or biological attacks. He proposed the Cooperative Defense Initiative to allies in the region in March 1999.
"The CDI addresses many of these threats by linking friendly countries in the region through a program to improve defenses against chemical and biological weapons," he said. Under the initiative, Egypt, Jordan and the Gulf allies would link together in an early-warning network.
U.S. officials demonstrated such a system to Mubarak when the Egyptian leader visited Washington, Cohen said. Such a system would detect the launch of a missile and determine its likely trajectory. "This would give advance notice to try to defend against it and then take appropriate countermeasures against if it should land," he said.
Cohen said that as he travels on to Jordan and the Gulf states, he would stress that such a system would allow the countries to protect both their militaries and their civilian populations.
He said Egyptian leaders understand and support the U.N. policy toward Iraq. "Until such time that Saddam Hussein complies with U.N. resolutions, there will be no relaxation of the sanctions," he told reporters. "The United States has been at the forefront the effort to double the Oil for Food program.
"Saddam has flatly refused to allow inspectors back in his country to verify he is not developing nuclear, biological or chemical weapons," he continued. "Most of the people throughout the Arab community understand that Saddam is the problem and that there can be no relief from the sanctions until he complies."
Secretary Cohen's Trip to Africa and the Middle East: