Monday, September 30, 1996 - 11:15 a.m.
[Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defense Tony Tan, of the Republic of Singapore, to the Pentagon]
Perry: Again, Minister Tan, welcome to the Pentagon.
Q: Secretary Perry are you going to pull the CARL VINSON out of the Gulf?
Secretary Perry: I'll answer that question in a moment. Now, let me first of all see if there is anybody from the Singapore press here who would like to ask a question of the minister or myself.
Q: In the sense of the relations between Singapore and the United States, how can you describe that, sir?
A: The defense relationship between the United States -- which is my area of interest and responsibility -- is, and has been for many, many years, excellent. And this is a visit in which we are going to continue to build on that quite positive relationship. Maybe Minister Tan would like to add to that.
Minister Tan: Well, I would say that the relationship between the U.S. and Singapore has been a very strong one and a very [inaudible] one for our two countries. We have enjoyed very good relations, we cooperate very closely together in defense. I hope that my visit here will strengthen that relationship.
Q: Mr. Secretary, how do you describe U.S. engagement in the Southeast Asian region?
A: We have approximately 100,000 military personnel in the Asia- Pacific region. We have had for a number of years and we are plan to keep them there for the indefinite future. So, we have a very major -- the United States has a very major security interest in the Asia-Pacific region, including Southeast Asia. And we plan to maintain that in the future.
Now there's a question here which I deferred.
Q: On withdrawing the CARL VINSON?
A: We have not made that final decision, yet, but will very soon.
Q: Secretary Perry, could you comment on this report in the Birmingham News that suggests U.S. commanders sheltered themselves during the Gulf War while sending troops out when there was a possible chemical alert? And also can you just comment more generally on why it is that so many members of the American public and Congress seem to be willing to believe the worst about the Pentagon. What is the Pentagon going to do to correct its credibility problem on this Gulf War issue?
A: I have not read that Birmingham news report, but I have asked my -- I have heard about it and I have asked my staff to look into it. I am very distressed on the fact that some people would be willing to believe the worst about the military, about the Pentagon. I am very concerned about that. We will look at this particular report very carefully and take whatever actions appropriate.