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Media Encounter with Secretary Cohen, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Copenhagen

Presenter: Secretary of Defense William S. Cohen
June 13, 1998

Q: What were the specific wishes you discussed?

A. Yes, what we talked about is that Denmark, of course, has been very engaged in peacekeeping missions. They've been extraordinarily helpful, certainly in Bosnia. They continue to be. They have committed themselves to peacekeeping operations should there be a decision made to engage in some fashion in Kosovo. I expect that Denmark would also be very much involved. But the Foreign Minister indicated that he is concerned about Kosovo. Everyone is concerned about it. I gave him a run down, essentially of what took place in Brussels for the past two days and indicated that there was very strong, unanimous condemnation of the killing that was taking place. A strong endorsement for Milosevic to come to the bargaining table, authorizing air exercises, and directing our military authorities to examine what military options could be considered in the absence of a peaceful resolution. And it not only included NATO, we also had the Partnership for Peace countries, and over forty countries who also expressed the condemnation of what is taking place in Kosovo. So there is, I think, a world opinion that there must be a cessation of the killing in Kosovo.

Q. Can you talk for just a minute about your meeting with the Nordic and Baltic Defense ministers?

A. Oh yes, they were part of the meeting in Brussels and the continuation of the discussion of the Kosovo situation.

Q. Regarding being a step closer to decision, what actions have been taken?

A. Well it's only been a day. It's been one day in which the military authorities are now looking at what options are desirable or feasible and to present those to the appropriate decision makers. But, at this point we are going forward with the preparation for the air exercise. Then the options will be presented for us to debate and deliberate on, but I would say, there is a sense of immediacy or urgency about the need to get this resolved as peacefully as possible.

Q. Are you going to start the air exercises tomorrow?

A. They will be started whenever the countries who are going to be participating in it are capable of working out the program. To make sure that they're all well trained and fully integrated so that the air operation will go forward smoothly. Whether that is today, tomorrow or next week, I think that is up to military authorities.

Q. How soon? A. I would expect as soon as next week.

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