U.S. Department of State
96/06/21 Daily Press Briefing
Office of the Spokesman


Friday, June 21, 1996

Briefer: Nicholas Burns

Intl Civil Aviation Organization's Expected Report on Downing of Two Private US Aircraft/Appropriate Action To Be Taken............................................... 17-18


DPB #101

FRIDAY, JUNE 21, 1996, 12:14 P.M.



Q New subject. On Cuba. Yesterday, the Cubans have responded to this report quite angrily. And there have also been some reports that the U.S. is trying to get the U.N. to take additional action against Cuba as a result of the report. Is it - can you give us any idea of what the U.S. is looking for?

MR. BURNS: I can't explain the Cuban reaction. All I can tell you is that the International Civil Aviation organization is an objective, neutral organization. And it's the international body that governs international air trafficking and incidents such as the one that occurred on February 24.

We expect that the report, which I believe has not yet been issued, we expect that this report will demonstrate conclusively that the two private, unarmed American Cessna aircraft were shot down in international air space and that the Cubans did not follow the standard international procedures for warning or intercepting aircraft.

I would just bring you back to the debate, publicly, after February 24, when the United States asserted that these aircraft were in international air space. Cuba asserted they were over Cuban air space.

The objective, neutral international body now says the United States was right. And that is not surprising to us because we had the facts. We had our facts straight and we did our homework, and apparently the Cubans did not.

Q Does the United States support some kind of action, though, to be taken against the Cubans as a result of this report?

MR. BURNS: We think it's entirely appropriate for the ICAO to deliberate on what appropriate action should be taken. And we have a right to assert that. Four Americans were murdered on February 24 by the Cuban Government, and we have a fundamental obligation to protect Americans and make sure that Americans are not shot down when - while they're travelling in international air space.

Thank you.

(Briefing concluded at 1:51 p.m.)

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Copyright 1996 U.S. Department of State