Monday, February 26, 1996 - 9:30 a.m.
[This media availability takes place following the signing of a Joint Statement of Future U.S.-Kazakhstan Defense and Military Relations by Secretary Perry and Minister of Defense Lt. Gen. Alibek Kasymov, Republic of Kazakhstan, at the Pentagon]
Secretary Perry: [inaudible] These pens go to you as a souvenir.
Secretary Perry: I would like to welcome the Kazakhstani Minister of Defense Kasymov to the Pentagon. His visit here gives us an opportunity to build on the U.S.-Kazakhstani friendship, and explore ways to deepen our security relationship. We have just signed a joint statement on future U.S.-Kazakhstani defense and military relationships. This statement was made possible by the outstanding security cooperation that already exists between our two countries -- cooperation that has made Kazakhstan, the United States, and the world a safer place.
Kazakhstan is the first nuclear power to voluntarily give up its nuclear arsenal. In so doing, it has set a splendid example in promoting the interests of stability and peace in the world. The United States strongly supports Kazakhstan's commitment to peace, and today we have moved farther along on the path of security cooperation.
This agreement calls for us to hold regular meetings between our senior military staffs; to agree on a schedule of military contacts -- including an exchange program between the Arizona National Guard and the Kazakhstani Armed Forces -- and by working towards expanding Kazakhstan's role in the Partnership for Peace program.
I'm delighted to welcome Minister Kasymov in the Pentagon. This is his fifth or sixth visit here -- and I have had three visits to Kazakhstan -- so we have had a very close connection. He will be going tomorrow to Fort Bragg, among other things to visit the NCO school there, and then to Arizona to explore strengthening the relationships with the Arizona National Guard.
The minister's visit, and this agreement we've just signed, signals our determination to build a long and fruitful relationship between our two defense establishments.
I'd like to now give Minister Kasymov an opportunity to say a few words.
Minister Kasymov: Mr. Perry, and colleagues, I thank you again for the opportunity to visit the Pentagon and to continue the dialogue which has now been going on for four years. I view this meeting today as another step within the framework of the charter for cooperation that we've signed with you earlier and the Memorandum Of Understanding that we have with your country.
The purpose of our meeting is to analyze the path that we've already walked, to see what has already been achieved. Then, we will try to put in any corrections that we need to, to make it more exact. In any case, I think [the result of] this dialogue will be a strengthening of the U.S.- Kazakhstani relations on defense issues. Once again, I thank you, Secretary Perry, for your invitation and I feel that the dialogue will be useful and good for both of our sides.
Secretary Perry: If anybody would like to ask a question of Minister Kasymov -- a question regarding U.S.-Kazakhstani relations we'll be discussing at this meeting -- we'll be happy to take them, now. I will, myself, be holding a later meeting with the press, this afternoon, to deal with questions on other topics.
Q: Is the minister satisfied with the degree of outside help Kazakhstan is receiving; helping, essentially to clean up the nuclear infrastructure inherited from the Soviet Union? Obviously, there's an agreement on nuclear weapons, but what about nuclear contaminate wasted and the testing site? Does Kazakhstan need more help in this area?
Minister Kasymov: I thank you for this concern about the ecology of Kazakhstan and the large testing base for nuclear weapons that's been left over from the Soviet Union. We've discussed this issue with our partners, including the United States, to sufficient extent; and have now passed on to the process of implementing it. But, we cannot say that the process is completed at this point, because there are quite a few other places that need more work along with the our partners -- the United States and other countries -- and considerably more work is needed.
Unknown Speaker: Thank you. Secretary Perry: Thank you very much.
Q: Mr. Secretary, can I ask you a quick question? Can you give a quick review of what American military forces or planes or ships were involved in the aftermath of that shooting down yesterday of two planes by Cuba?
A: I will answer those questions at the press opportunity this afternoon. I'm not going to cover it this morning.
Q: Thank you.