Thursday, Nov. 14, 1996 - 8 a.m. (EST)
[This media activity occurs following a Full Honors Arrival Ceremony welcoming Minister of Defense Severin Adjovi, of the Republic of Benin, to the Pentagon.]
Secretary Perry: Minister, let me again take the opportunity to formally welcome you to the Pentagon. It's an honor and a pleasure (inaudible).
Q: Mr. Secretary?
Q: Under what conditions will U.S. troops in on the Zaire mission? Plus, is the situation calm, pretty much. Do you have agreements from the parties, and is there any intention to either arm or disarm any factions?
A: The conditions which we have stated are that we have to have the acquiescence of the parties before we go in. This is a mission to deliver humanitarian aid, and we need the support and cooperation of the parties to do this. We are not planning a mission to go in and disarm factions or to separate military from refugees. This is a humanitarian mission that's being considered.
Q: Mr. Secretary, are you concerned though that this humanitarian mission might become a combat mission?
A: Our troops that go in will go in armed, and with rules of engagement that will provide for their own protection. They will have protection for their own forces. They are not going in... Their arms are not going though, as a means of conducting military operations.
I want to make a clear distinction. We will have arms and have, what we call robust rules of engagement to allow our forces to protect themselves.
Q: Mr. Secretary, we have reports that the President is considering a 10,000-man follow-on force in Bosnia. Do you see that as a distinct possibility?
A: NATO has put together a fairly detailed study of the military authorities, laying out four different alternatives for Bosnia; one of which includes terminate the mission at the end of year as originally planned, and three others of which would involve some follow on forces.
The President is considering these now. I'm expecting a decision from the President in the near future; but I would not want to forecast exactly when nor would I want to forecast what his decision would be.
Q: Thank you Mr. Secretary.