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DoD News Briefing: Secretary of Defense Cohen

Presenter: Secretary of Defense Cohen
June 12, 1997 8:45 PM EDT

Secretary of Defense Cohen

(This media activity follows a Full Honors Arrival Ceremony to welcome Amir Shaikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani, of the State of Qatar, to the Pentagon)

Secretary Cohen: I want to welcome His Highness on his first trip to Washington and his very first visit, obviously, to the Pentagon.

We have a very strong relationship with Qatar. We have an Army brigade set of armored equipment, as well as an air expeditionary force operating out of Qatar. Our relationship, I believe, contributes to a strong stability of peace in the region, and His Highness and I will be discussing a number of matters dealing with our relationship and how we can even build it to be even stronger in the region. We'll talk about the role that the Gulf Cooperation Council also plays in that role.

Now, his Excellency is going to be meeting -- His Highness is going to be meeting with President Clinton shortly and he will also have an opportunity to convey his views on the situation in the Gulf and various foreign policy issues directly to the President and to other advisers.

So it is my pleasure to welcome you here and I'm glad we are able to bring weather which is at least compatible to that of your country.

Amir Shaikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani: Please allow me, Mr. Secretary, to speak in Arabic with the interpreter. Ladies and gentlemen, good morning. Secretary Cohen and I will meet today to discuss the extensive military cooperation program between the State of Qatar and the United States.

As you may know, I wear more than one hat in Qatar, that of the Amir and of the State and that of Minister of Defense. In both capacities, it gives me great pleasure to be here today to work together with Secretary Cohen on matters of mutual security and defense.

The foundation of this partnership between the State of Qatar and the United States was laid in 1992 when we committed ourselves to a defense cooperation agreement. From there we went on to establish joint training exercises to improve coordination and communication between our respective forces and to enhance security cooperation in the Arabian Gulf as a whole.

I would like to say that we have, indeed, made large steps in the area of the AEF and I would like to express now at this time my admiration with the ingenuity of the American forces that are serving in the Gulf.

As we progress in this partnership, the security of the United States forces in the Gulf remains a major priority and we have taken special precautions to protect the security of your troops and materiel. With this in mind, it is also my goal to identify further opportunities to share defense intelligence on security threats in the region.

The state of Qatar is committed to furthering mutual security cooperation and enhancing our long-term goals. And, thus, I will propose to Secretary Cohen several joint initiatives for study.

Secretary Cohen has entered office in an interesting and challenging period in American military history. Coping with the demands made upon the Pentagon at the end of the Cold War, the new and different challenges to national security which emerged in the last decade, as well as the expansion of NATO, are no easy tasks.

I admire the energy and ingenuity with which Secretary Cohen has undertaken this tremendous task and I look forward to the new initiative we will embark upon together. And thank you very much.

Q: Your Highness, what kind of message will you be taking to President Clinton today regarding your views of U.S. policy in Iran and Iraq, and will you be discussing a possible arms deal with Secretary Cohen today?

A: It is natural that since the United States is a friendly country we must discuss frankly all the matters concerning security in the region. The United States has interests in the regions and so do we and, therefore, it is natural that we discuss these mutual interest matters.

Q: Mr. Secretary, do you anticipate looking beyond the CINCs and the service chiefs in your search for a Chairman?

A: Not at this point.

Q: Secretary Cohen, it's been nearly a year since the bombing at Khobar Towers and still there have been no decisions on discipline or accountability for those who were involved. Do you agree with the Air Force recommendation that nobody should be disciplined for this?

A: Well, I am continuing to study all of the reports. There are several reports and they are quite voluminous. I had intended to try to get through those reports before last week and, obviously, other matters intervened.

But I hope to have occasion on my return trip from the Gulf to have completed the reading and some of the comparison between the original General Downing report, General Record report and the IG reports, and to make an analysis of those reports to see exactly what recommendations I could make.

UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER: Thank you, Your Highness. Thank you, Mr. Secretary. Ladies and gentlemen, we're going this way please.

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