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Secretary Cohen's remarks following the Honor Cordon for MoD Pasat of Moldova

Presenter: Secretary of Defense William S. Cohen
January 29, 1998 9:20 AM EDT

[This media activity follows an Honor Cordon welcoming Minister of Defense Valeriu Pasat of the Republic of Moldova.]

Q: (Inaudible)

A: (Secretary Cohen): First of all, you said when I travel to the Gulf States what message would I take?

Number one, there has not been a determination that I will go to the Gulf. But should the President ask me to go to the Gulf, then I will do so at that time. Right now my plans are to attend the Wehrkunde Conference in Munich and to visit Moscow as well during the course of that trip. So there have been no plans at this point to extend my travel beyond then.

Q: (Inaudible)

A: As I've indicated before, the President is still seeking to resolve this issue through diplomatic channels. But in the event that we are unable to do so, then we will proceed in another fashion and I am sure that if any other type of action is either warranted or taken, that we will have the support of our friends in the Gulf.

Q: (Inaudible)

A: I think, as Secretary Albright has pointed out, that she is still committed to seeking a diplomatic solution as an agent and spokesperson on behalf of the President, but that the time is perhaps running out for diplomatic efforts to be successful. The window is still open, but the opening of that window is getting a bit

narrow. So I think that she is traveling to obviously convey a message that explains the United States position and continue to seek ways in which our allies can be supportive of acquiring -- or achieving, I should say -- the ultimate goal. That is to have free and unfettered inspections and to allow UNSCOM to carry out its mission.

It is our belief that if the allies remain firm, if the Security Council remains firm in insisting upon the commitment to its resolutions, that we can avoid any need for military action. That is our hope, and I think that effort will continue. In the meantime, obviously, we have our forces in place, should there be any threat to those forces, should there be any threat to the surrounding neighbors in the region. But I believe that Secretary Albright is committed to exploring every reasonable diplomatic initiative.

Q: Mr. Secretary, have there been any unusual requests from Gen. Zinni (inaudible) for unusual military equipment, people, (inaudible)...?

A: I wouldn't want to comment on any requirements for our operations. I've indicated before I think we have satisfactory troops and equipment and whatever is necessary in the Gulf to protect our forces, so I wouldn't comment beyond that.

Q: What do you hope to accomplish with your relationship (inaudible) with the United States? Do you hope to eventually join NATO or (inaudible)?

A: (Minister of Defense Pasat): As I have mentioned, Moldova has been taking part actively in the Partnership for Peace, and I refer to the training that was taking place as well as to the military exercise that we've been a part of.

Also today we are going to sign a plan of action for 1998 and we will continue to be interested in participating in all the programs that are part of the Partnership for Peace. Moldova is not contemplating, at this point, joining NATO.

Q: Thank you Mister Secretary.