Tuesday, October 15, 1996 - 10:30 a.m. (EDT)
Ceremony welcoming Minister of Defense Yitzhak Mordechai, of the State of Israel, to the Pentagon.]
Secretary Perry: I am both pleased and proud to host Minister Mordechai on his first visit to the Pentagon as the Israeli Minister of Defense.
During our meeting I will reaffirm to him, as I have to his predecessors, the commitment of the United States Government to helping Israel maintain its qualitative military edge. We will also discuss sharing of early warning information, including the establishment of a direct telephone link between his office and mine.
We will, of course, discuss the ongoing peace process in the Mid-East. The United States strongly supports Israel's quest for peace and security in the Middle East. The two, of course, are linked. There can be no security without peace.
I'd like to give Minister Mordechai a chance to make a statement if he would like and then we will be prepared to take your questions.
Minister Mordechai: Dear friend, I am proud to be here. I was very proud yesterday night to have a dinner with you and with your colleagues. We are proud to feel here in the United States that the United States is continuing to give us the support, to give us the quality to continue our mission -- making Israel much more strong, safety, and continuing the peace process.
Thank you for the invitation. I am sure we will continue to cooperate and to make close friendship between both countries.
Thank you very much.
Q: Minister Mordechai, (inaudible).
Minister Mordechai: They are still in committee working very hard every day to find a solution for the Hebron problem. You know that Hebron is a very special case. I think we can continue to follow the Oslo agreement about Hebron. At the same time, to find a solution for some of the security problems and for the Jewish building area, in the area of Hebron. We are planning to move forward, and I hope that in very short time we will have agreement with the Palestinian authority, and when we have agreement in very short time, we can redeploy in Hebron area.
Minister Mordechai: Not so many troops. It's not a problem only of the troops, it's a problem of where they have troops and how they have to operate in the area.
Q: Mr. Secretary, the Palestinian authority is suggesting sending an international force, including American troops, to secure the security of the Israeli Jewish settlers in Hebron and the territories. What is your reaction?
Secretary Perry: This, of course, has been proposed before. It is not under active consideration.
Q; I'm not talking about the Golan Heights, I'm talking about Hebron and the territories.
A: It is not under active consideration.
Q: Mr. Mordechai and Mr. Secretary, are there Iranian armed forces in Iraq helping the PUK against the PDK at present?
A: We have no information to confirm the presence of Iranian military forces in Northern Iraq.
Q: ...Do you intend to make an argument, and what sort of argument do you intend to make in favor of START II, and do you feel that it's going to go over well, first of all? And do you hope to meet with Mr. Lebed while you're there?
A: The Duma is in the process of deliberating on START II right now. No decisions have been reached. As part of that ongoing work, two key committee chairmen -- Chairman [Vladimir] Lukin, the International Affairs; and Chairman Rokhlin of the Defense Committee -- have invited me to meet with their members to discuss this treaty. I accepted that invitation because I believe I can make an important contribution to the debate by providing factual information on the treaty's value both to the United States and to Russia. This is information that many Duma members may not be aware of.
I also look forward to discussing with members their concerns about the treaty. I will be not just speaking to them, I'll be hearing from them as well. And I believe that some of these concerns may not be well grounded, and I will welcome the opportunity to address that.
Thank you very much. It's good to talk to you.