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Media Availability with Secretary Cohen and Director General Nukaga

Presenters: Secretary of Defense William S. Cohen and Director General Fukushiro Nukaga, Japan Defense Agency
September 21, 1998 12:00 PM EDT
Secretary Cohen: Good afternoon. I'd like to welcome Minister Nukaga to the Pentagon for the second time today. His arrival has been more dramatic than I expected or wanted. Minister Nukaga's determination to be here shows that there is no barrier that can get in the way of the strong security relationship between the United States and Japan.

Earlier this afternoon, President Clinton called the minister to express his concern for those who were injured this morning. And I'm happy to report that all six people, three Japanese and three Americans were taken to the hospital, were treated and released.

The security relationship between the United States and Japan has never been stronger. This relationship along with the forward deployment of approximately 100,000 American troops in Asia is the foundation for stability in the Asia-Pacific region. North Korea's recent launch of a Taepo Dong missile highlighted one of the security challenges we face. And we have pledged to work together to develop a ballistic missile defense system. I also should say we had very productive meetings in New York yesterday and I look forward to continuing the discussion matter again today here at the Pentagon.

Let me once again thank the Minister for his perseverance. He is a very courageous man, a very durable man and one that I look forward to working with in the future to strengthen our relationship even more so than it is today. Thank you.

Minister Nukaga: First of all, I'm here at the Pentagon at last. In today's accident, I just bruised my ankle and the other people who were involved in the accident are also recovering smoothly. I would like to extend to Secretary Cohen and our Americans friends my deep gratitude for the care and sympathy you've shown to me and my colleagues. And President Clinton gave me a phone call earlier this afternoon for which I'm extremely grateful.

I think the accident today has solidified my personal relationship with Secretary Cohen. And also, the accident solidified the relationship between DoD and [the] Japan Defense Agency. The accident forced us to postpone the meeting by six hours, but thanks to the accident, I was able to think even more thoroughly about the matters we were going to talk about. And I expect our meeting today will be even more fruitful. The 2+2 meeting yesterday Secretary Cohen and I reaffirmed that we have shared concern about the North Korean's missile launch and we also agreed to work together closely to enhance the stability of the security situation in northeast Asia. In today's meeting, I would like to engage in frank discussion with Secretary Cohen on guidelines and other issues of mutual concern, mutual interest.

Thank you very much.