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DoD News Briefing

Presenter: Secretary of Defense William J. Perry
November 25, 1996 10:00 AM EDT

Monday, Nov. 25, 1996 - 10 a.m. (EST)

Ceremony welcoming Minister of National Defense Douglas Young , of Canada, to the Pentagon.]

Secretary Perry: ...Let me formally welcome you to the Pentagon.

Minister Young: It' s a pleasure to be here. I look forward to some interesting discussions today.

Q: Mr. Secretary and Minister, I wonder if we might ask what the prospects are for a security force now in either Rwanda or Zaire; or does it look like it will just be an airlift; and can you give us some numbers on numbers of troops that might be needed in a security force.

Secretary Perry: We've had of course, as you know, some meetings in Stuttgart in the last few days on that -- Considering a multinational which would be under Canada's leadership. Since we have the Canadian Defense Minister here, I'd like to pass this question on to him.

Minister Young: Well first of all, with respect to Rwanda -- the Rwandan government has been pretty clear in terms of their position with respect to any intervention on their territory. We're now looking at a number of options that were put forward by the military planners after the gathering in Stuttgart.

It's a very complicated situation and not one that can easily be addressed because, even with respect to the number of people still remaining in the eastern part of Zaire, there are varying figures.

The consensus on intelligence that was available to us in Stuttgart was that there are probably about 300,000 still in the southern part of Eastern Zaire. Who those people are -- what their intentions may be with respect to either returning to Rwanda, whether they're displaced persons -- has to be determined. We'll have to do some recce in there to find that out. But at this stage, there's been no definitive decision on whether or not there should be military activity tak[ing] place in Zaire.

Q: Is it possible that there will be no military activity? No security force?

A: Our view on it is that we've had a remarkable success here. Two weeks ago when we really moved into high gear in trying to marshall some support for humanitarian aid to the folks in Zaire, I don't think anyone would have dreamt that we'd over 500,000 people back in Rwanda without having had to deploy anyone or fire a shot.

Now the situation is still somewhat confused on the ground. There's been some movement, we're told, even in the last 24 hours, moving towards a crossing area at Goma, from that southern part of Eastern Zaire. Whether or not we have to do something, militarily in the traditional sense of peacekeeping or humanitarian aid support, is difficult to tell at this point.

There's no question there's' a need for humanitarian aid. I think what we'll have to discuss is how we can assure that that aid is delivered in an environment that's fairly secure.

Q: What do you want from the U.S.?

A: We've done a lot of planning in collaboration with the U.S. and other coalition partners. I don't think it's anything specific to the U.S. at this point other than the fact they're there and we're still talking and that there may be some need in terms of that humanitarian aid for airlift capacity.

Secretary Perry: Suzanne?

Q: Mr. Secretary, you had ordered some military forces prepositioned in the event they would be used in that humanitarian mission. Can you say that they are still there and ready to go...

A: Yes.

Q: ...or have you called them back, and what is your intention?

A: No. We have deployed the advanced elements of an air bridge -- provided logistics support necessary for flowing humanitarian aid into the region as necessary.

Those advance elements are still there. They amount to several hundred people. There are some in Entebbe Airport in Uganda, including the operation of what we call a TALCE, which is a Tactical Air Control System. We also have a similar system and a team to operate it at Mombassa, which is in Kenya, and we have a small liaison team in Kigali

So we have this advance team deployed, and as the need arises or is defined, and as the multinational force asks for that assistance, we are prepared to provide it.

We have to go in to our meeting now. Thank you very much.

Q: Thank you Mr. Secretary.