Friday, September 6, 1996 - 10 a.m. (EDT)
Ceremony welcoming Minister of Defense Jorge Dominguez, of the Argentine Republic, to the Pentagon.]
Secretary Perry: Again Mr. Minister, Let welcome you to the Pentagon.
Minister Dominguez: Thank you very much.
Secretary Perry: It's a great honor and a pleasure to have you here.
Minister Dominguez: It's a pleasure for me to be here.
Q: Mr. Secretary?
Secretary Perry: Let me just make an opening statement that Minister Dominguez is here in his first visit as the Minister of Defense of Argentina. It's not the first time I've met him, though. I met him in Buenos Aires during my visit there last year, at which time he was the mayor of Buenos Aires.
We have several important items which we will be discussing today. Certainly, important on the agenda we'll be discussing the second Defense Ministerial of the Americas. The first one, as you know, was sponsored by the United States and held in Williamsburg, Virginia, last year. The first time that all of the defense ministers of this hemisphere -- and all of the democratic nations of this hemisphere -- have ever come together for a single meeting. And at that meeting -- at the conclusion of that meeting, which we all regarded as a very successful meeting -- the Argentine government offered to host the second Defense Ministerial. That will be held next month at Bariloche in Argentine, and one of the things we'll be doing is discussing the plans for that meeting.
We'll also be discussing plans for Argentine to provide additional assistance to the U.N. inspection operation in Iraq -- the so called UNSCOM operation. Argentina has made a very generous offer to provide assistance to that operation as part of their outreach to the world. So we'll be talking about issues of that sort, and there are bilateral defense cooperation issues between our two countries which we will be discussing as well.
Mr. Minister, did you want to make any additional comments at this time to the press?
Minister Dominguez: Well, no. I just want to let you know that we are working very closely with the United States in terms of peacekeeping operations; and we are working very hard now for the second meeting of the ministers of defense. All the area will be there and we are sure that we are going to reinforce all the principle results of the Williamsburg meeting.
Secretary Perry: We are working together also, of course, in the peacekeeping operation between Peru and Ecuador. Argentina, Chile, Brazil, and the United States are the four guarantors of that peacekeeping operations which has been going very well.
Now, we'll be ready and prepared to take questions from the press. Let me first see if there are any Argentine press here and give them the first opportunity to ask a question if you would like. (Pause.) Otherwise we will go to the American press.
Q: Mr. Secretary...
A: I think Bob asked a question first.
Q: I'd like to ask you a question about the situation in Iraq. Can you give the latest on the situation on the ground in northern Iraq? For example, are Turkish troops or forces now involved in any of the fighting?
A: The Turkish forces are not involved in the fighting, to my knowledge. So I cannot confirm any Turkish involvement in the fighting in northern Iraq. The Iraqi troops -- the latest information we have on that is the mechanized and the armored forces of the Iraqi troops have been pulling to the south. The artillery shelling of Chamchamal has stopped. Generally, we see positive developments then, in northern Iraq.
Q: Are you satisfied, Mr. Secretary, with Saddam Hussein's compliance so far?
A: So far, so good. But I do not want to be complacent about this at all. We will be watching very, very carefully. We are watching very, very carefully; and we will base our future actions on what Saddam Hussein does.
Q: Mr. Secretary the Turkish foreign minister this morning was complaining that the United States has not provided enough economic assistance to Turkey to offset the tremendous expense of having American forces there and cooperating in all the different efforts against Iraq. Is there going to be more help forthcoming, or is this sort of bogus complaint?
A: We are very concerned and very sympathetic with the economic problems which the Turkish government has as a result of the sanctions against Iraq. They have been an unintended victim of those sanctions, because they had substantial income which came from the pipelines that flowed through Turkey. So we are very sympathetic with that and we have not made any commitments to provide economic support ourselves. But no, they're not "bogus" concerns. They are very valid concerns about the economic deprivation that that has caused.
Q: Thank you very much Mr. Secretary.