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IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Release No: 680-96
December 19, 1996

U.S. SECRETARY OF DEFENSE-ISRAELI MINISTER OF DEFENSE TELEPHONE LINK INAUGURATED

U.S. Secretary of Defense William J. Perry and Israeli Minister of Defense Yitzhak Mordechai inaugurated a new communications link between their respective offices today. The Defense Telephone Link was declared operational on Dec. 12, 1996, and provides a private and dedicated means for the two defense chiefs to discuss matters of mutual interest.

We enjoy a very close relationship with the Israeli Minister of Defense, said Secretary Perry. This dedicated line provides an additional capability for Minister Mordechai and me to promptly consult on issues of mutual concern whenever the need arises, but particularly during times of increased tension in the Middle East.

In their first conversation using the telephone, Secretary Perry wished Minister Mordechai well and expressed his appreciation for the warm working relationship that the two have established.

Secretary Perry told Minister Mordechai that in the weeks ahead he will be discussing with his successor, Sen. William Cohen, the unique and close relationship between the Department of Defense and the Israeli defense establishment. He said that he would emphasize the importance of forward movement in the peace process as a way of building regional security.

Minister Mordechai wished Secretary Perry well and thanked him for his personal support of the strong U.S. commitment to help Israel meet its defense and security needs. Minister Mordechai commented that he was grateful for the hospitality and warmth shown during his visit to Washington two months ago and he told Secretary Perry that he was planning to visit the U.S. early in the Spring to meet with Sen. Cohen.

This telephone link between the Secretary of Defense and the Minister of Defense was agreed upon during Minister Mordechai's visit to the Pentagon in October.

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