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Cohen Honors Holocaust Victims

By Linda D. Kozaryn
American Forces Press Service

JERUSALEM, Israel, April 23, 1998 – Defense Secretary William S. Cohen honored holocaust victims April 20, laying a wreath at the Yad Vashem Hall of Remembrance, here.

"Those who Israel remembers ... speak to us still," Cohen said after symbolically reigniting the monument's eternal flame. "This poignant memorial may be in Israel, but their voices cast a message to the world."

The message recounts suffering and sounds a strong warning for the future, Cohen said. "A warning that unchecked hatred and unimpeded prejudice are not only a threat to those who are suffering at the hand of oppressors, but a threat to freedom-loving people everywhere."

Cohen visited Israel during a trip to five countries April 17 to 21. In Jerusalem, he met with Prime Minister Binjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Yitzhak Mordechai to discuss regional concerns, including the growing threat of missile attack from Iran.

The Israeli defense leader outlined Israel's military modernization program and plans for the next decade. Cohen offered U.S. support.

"Israel is determined to be as strong and secure for the next 50 years as it has been for the last 50 years," Cohen said at a joint press conference with Mordechai. "The United States intends to do its part by helping Israel maintain its qualitative edge. We want Israel to be strong so that it can continue to take risks for peace."

The United States has agreed to develop the Arrow anti-theater ballistic missile system, Cohen announced. "We agree, for instance, that Israel needs a third Arrow battery to improve its defenses against missile attacks," he said. "It's not enough for Israel to be able to win wars, it must win peace in order to achieve lasting security."

Mordechai said he views the United States as a friend with a real concern for Israel's security and the well-being of its citizens. "We, as allies in this region, shall be cooperating with all our strength and capability to stabilize the situation in the Middle East," he said. Such cooperation will promote Israel's future security and protect U.S. interests in the region, Mordechai added.

Cohen also paid tribute to Israel's late Prime Minister Yitzak Rabin, assassinated in 1995. At Rabin's grave, Cohen said, the slain Israeli's "work for peace remains an inspiration to all of us and a reminder that our commitment to peace must never waiver."

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Click photo for screen-resolution imageDefense Secretary William S. Cohen (left), and Israeli Defense Minister Yitzhak Mordechai answer press queries at the Ministry of Defense in Jerusalem, April 20. Linda D. Kozaryn.  
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