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IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Release No: 153-97
April 03, 1997

COHEN AND MORDECHAI DISCUSS A BROAD RANGE OF DEFENSE ISSUES

Secretary of Defense William S. Cohen and Israeli Minister of Defense Yitzhak Mordechai discussed a broad range of issues related to the U.S.-Israeli defense and security relationship, and developments in the Middle East region in meetings held at the Pentagon today. Their discussions reflected the close, long- standing, cooperative ties between the two defense establishments.

Secretary Cohen and Minister Mordechai reiterated mutual U.S.-Israeli commitment to their strategic defense cooperation and agreed that bilateral cooperation has provided beneficial know-how and experience to both U.S. and Israeli armed forces. They also discussed efforts by opponents of the peace process -- particularly threats posed by weapons of mass destruction, surface-to-surface missiles and terrorism. Minister of Defense Mordechai underscored the determination of the Government of Israel to pursue further the Middle East Peace Process while ensuring Israel's security.

Secretary Cohen reaffirmed U.S. commitment to maintaining Israel's qualitative edge to deter the enemies of peace and to help Israel develop responses to threats posed by detractors. Secretary Cohen assured Minister of Defense Mordechai that the United States was committed to working with Israel to provide for adequate readiness. The two men also discussed the recent successes of the joint U.S.-Israel Arrow ATBM program and agreed to accelerate the program; agreed that the United States and Israel will extend work to test the effectiveness of the tactical high energy laser against the threat posed by Katyusha rockets; and discussed closer cooperation and increased commitment between the two defense establishments in the area of counter-terrorism.

This was Minister Mordechai's first meeting on these issues with Secretary Cohen.

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