Wednesday, March 20, 1996 - noon
[ The subject of this media activity: Honor Cordon for President Rene Preval, Republic of Haiti]
Secretary Perry: I am delighted to welcome President Preval to the Pentagon. The President represents a new beginning for Haiti: the first peaceful transition of power in the history of Haiti; a democratically-elected government dedicated to the welfare of all the Haitian people.
Haiti faces many challenges, but this country now has brighter prospects for the future than at any time of its past. I'd like to take the opportunity of President Preval's visit to thank the American troops -- both the active duty and the Reserve -- who helped uphold democracy in Haiti. Since they led this multinational force to Haiti in September of 1994: democracy has been restored; a professional security force has been established; incidents of crime and violence have dropped sharply; electric power is now being generated; schools have reopened.
Our mission in Haiti ended on February 29th. And most of our troops have come home. From a peak of 23,000 troops, we now have fewer than 600 in Haiti; and all of the US peacekeeping forces will be out by April 15th.
A new United Nations mission, led by Canada, has taken over in Haiti. Distinct from this UN Peacekeeping mission, the United States will continue to provide engineering troops to help rebuild Haiti's infrastructure.
I believe that the success of UPHOLD DEMOCRACY is clear. The people of Haiti now have an opportunity to rebuild their country and reclaim their destiny under the leadership of President Preval. Mr. President?
[Translation to English]
President Preval: I wish to thank Secretary of Defense William Perry for the opportunity he gave the American delegation to meet with the Haitian delegation. As Secretary Perry just mentioned, the United States, under the leadership of President Clinton, has vigorously supported, along with other friendly countries, the restoration of democracy in Haiti. On behalf of the Haitian people, I wish to thank him.
We will have the occasion to meet with the press after other meetings with other officials of the US Government.