Thursday, July 18, 1996 - 9:30 a.m. (EDT)
Ceremony welcoming Minister of Defense General-Lieutenant Leonid Maltsev, of the Republic of Belarus, to the Pentagon.]
Secretary Perry: Let me take the opportunity to formally welcome the Minister on his first visit to the Pentagon. It's an honor for me to be your host for this visit. Welcome.
Looking forward to our discussions this morning.
General Maltsev: I believe that today's discussions will be productive and fruitful. I'm sure because I had a very excellent day of staying here yesterday.
Secretary Perry: This will be my third opportunity to meet with the Minister of Defense of Belarus. We met previously at an exercise in Ukraine, and we also met at a Partnership for Peace meeting in Brussels. This will be our first time for substantive discussions in some depth. We'll be talking about the areas of defense and security interests for both of our countries, and regional security in Europe.
Did you have anything you wanted to say to the press Mr. Minister?
General Maltsev: I pay great deal of attention to this visit. I'll hold it as a protocol meeting. I believe this visit will facilitate and will create the positive impulse in our cooperation in creating a sufficient level of understanding in the field of security. Yesterday's working day we spent here, gave me the basis to state that the main goal of this visit will be achieved.
Secretary Perry: Thank you very much.
Q: Mr. Secretary, because of this TWA crash has there been any change in the -- not alert status certainly, but the posture of U.S. forces anywhere? Do you have any indication who might be behind this?
A: It's premature to speculate on what caused that accident. Yet you can be sure that it is under very intensive investigation right now, and we are following that investigation very closely. Our forces around the world are at a alert status already relative to terrorist incidents. At some stations in fact they are at high alert. So we saw no need to increase the already high alert status at our stations around the world.
Q: Mr. Secretary, what assistance might defense officials here be offering authorities in New York as they go about this search operation and this recovery?
A: We stand ready to provide assistance in the recovery or in the medical -- if that should become appropriate. We have not received any requests yet. The New York Air National Guard has provided already some assistance in recovery. We have not received any requests yet at the Pentagon. We are certainly prepared to provide assistance if and when it is requested.
Q: Mr. Secretary, is the intelligence community aware of any possible terrorist involvement in this? Is there any indication that this was a terrorist attack has any group claimed responsibility?
A: I say again, it's just premature to speculate on the cause of this; and I will not speculate on it at this time.
Thank you very much.