DoD News Briefing: Secretary of Defense William S. Cohen
[This media activity follows a Full Honors Arrival Ceremony to welcome His Majesty King Hussein I, of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, to the Pentagon.]
Secretary Cohen: It gives me a great deal of pleasure to welcome King Hussein to the Pentagon. King Hussein is a good friend of the United States. He is a diligent worker for peace and stability in the Middle East. He is a firm opponent of terrorism. And we also deeply appreciate his support for our policy of containment of Iraq.
During his 44-year reign, King Hussein has visited the Pentagon on many occasions. Each visit gives our country an opportunity to strength our ties and to discuss ways to bolster stability in the Middle East.
Today's talks are going to focus on regional issues and our program to strengthen Jordan's armed forces. These measures include the lease of 16 F-16 fighters. This program is on schedule, and the first planes will arrive in Jordan by the end of the year.
The drawdown of U.S. equipment. As we complete this $100 million program, we should be able to increase the amount of equipment that we're providing.
Continued support under our International Military Education and Training program, or IMET, and assistance in demining to support the peace process.
Your Majesty, I look forward with great enthusiasm to our meeting.
King Hussein: Mr. Secretary, it is a privilege and a pleasure to meet with you once again here at the Pentagon. I would like to thank you for the warm welcome, for the warm words, and for the kind reception with which we have been met.
I would like to say that we are allies and that we are friends of longstanding, and that we uphold the same ideas and principles, and that our aims and goals are one and the same -- for a better future for all the peoples of the Middle East and the peoples of the world.
I am proud to be here once again and I look forward to our discussions, and to seeing with this visit yet a new step towards better cooperation and a sense of partnership of which we are so proud between our armed forces and between our peoples, as well as the governments. And for myself, I am proud to be, as I have always been, a friend of the United States of America.
Thank you so much.
Q: Your Majesty, I wonder if we might ask, you have said apparently in some frustration that the peace process needs to be moved forward and perhaps heads need to be cracked. You say that the United States must play a more active role and not just be a messenger. What should the United States do? Could you be specific on what the United States might do to move this?
King Hussein: I feel that the United States has a special and unique position of respect, of trust, and of the confidence of all parties in our part of the world. Each and every nation that wishes to see peace in our region must compliment the efforts of the United States to act as an honest broker of peace and our hopes are way away from the language of pressure on any side or another, that our friends will share with us their thoughts and their views on how we overcome the present difficulties and move ahead towards peace, the plans of peace in our region, to which we are dedicated.
Q: What would you say to people like Nabil Shaath who are calling on Prime Minister Netanyahu to step down?
King Hussein: Prime Minister Netanyahu is the Prime Minister of Israel, elected to that position by the Israeli people, and I will continue to work with him and for the cause of peace to the best of my ability. I hope that all of us in the area will move in the same direction.
Q: Do you think that the Palestinians should stop throwing stones at Israeli troops, or do you think that's an okay forum of demonstration?
King Hussein: I believe that's what is very, very important is to go back to the beginning, to the atmosphere that prevailed where there was so much hope and so much enthusiasm and optimism among the overwhelming majority of all peoples in the region for peace.
Q: Is Jordan going to follow the United States recommendations on relations with Iraq?
Q: You mentioned a couple of aspects of critical cooperation with Jordan, and I would like to see how do you imagine the next phase of cooperation on meeting Jordan's defense needs particularly in the era of peace and in an era where Jordan is regionally.. in the regional aspect?
Secretary Cohen: That is precisely what His Majesty and I are going to talk about in a few moments -- ways in which we can extend our military cooperation. I mentioned several items which are of, I think, great importance to the Jordanian military, and we hope that we can explain in some detail some of the improvements we've made as far as being able to deliver the equipment that is necessary for the Jordanian defense needs, and we will discuss those in greater detail inside. But we think we have a very strong relationship. We will try to build upon that in the coming years, and today will be a good discussion of how we can do that.
Q: What is your reaction to the American soldier that was arrested in Japan for rape of a Japanese woman?
Secretary Cohen: Only that the matter is currently under investigation, he's under arrest, and we'll know more details as the investigation unfolds.