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1994 - Mr Major’s Joint Doorstep Interview with Vice-President Al Gore

Below is Mr Major’s joint doorstep interview with Vice-President Al Gore in Washington on 28th February 1994.


QUESTION:

What did you think of the shooting down of four planes in Bosnia?

PRIME MINISTER:

I expressed what I thought a little earlier and I may do later but not now.

QUESTION:

Mr. Prime Minister, the British Government has very exposed intelligence cooperation with the CIA; how much damage to British intelligence was done allegedly by Rick Ames?

PRIME MINISTER:

I have nothing to say at the moment.

QUESTION:

Vice President have you heard a lot of American names down for Moscow, diplomats, for retaliation?

VICE PRESIDENT GORE:

No, we have no official word as of this moment.

QUESTION:

[Inaudible but re bringing an end to this chapter of American-Soviet relations]

VICE PRESIDENT GORE:

The developments of last week were very serious and everyone understands that fact. The investigation is continuing, it will be extremely thorough. At the same time, the impact of the allegations against the CIA employee should be put in a larger perspective and the relationship between the West and Russia, between the United States and Russia, should not be determined by such an incident. We have our own self-interest in continuing the improvement of relations with Russia and we will seek that.

QUESTION:

Prime Minister, what is your reaction to the shooting down of Serbian planes?

PRIME MINISTER:

I expressed it earlier, it remains the same: the Security Council Resolution was passed nearly a year ago; what the Resolution said was perfectly plain; it established a no-fly zone. Here were half a dozen planes that were clearly infringing the no-fly zone, I think there is little doubt about that. They were warned, they didn't desist, they were shot down. I think they could have expected nothing else.

QUESTION:

But does it damage prospects for peace in Bosnia?

PRIME MINISTER:

I don't believe so. The no-fly zone was there for a purpose. It is now clear to people that the no-fly zone will be enforced.

QUESTION:

What about the impact possibly on British troops [indistinct] aid?

PRIME MINISTER:

I don't think there will be an impact upon that. We have contingency arrangements to make sure British troops are secure.

QUESTION:

Vice-President, what is your reaction to the shooting-down?

VICE PRESIDENT GORE:

This has been a standing order for quite some time. Back in September there was one brief violation, this is the first violation since then and it was met instantly with the appropriate response. There is much we still need to learn about why these aircraft would attempt their mission but far from damaging the prospects for peace, it may actually improve the prospects for peace.

QUESTION:

How exactly?

VICE PRESIDENT GORE:

By sending the message very clearly and firmly that the no-fly zone is not to be trifled with and that strengthens the force of the other statements by NATO and the United Nations.

QUESTION:

[Indistinct] these were Serb planes, not Croatian planes?

VICE PRESIDENT GORE:

Let's await further [indistinct]. We know the type of plane and the type of plane is associated with bases in Serbian-controlled territory but we need more information before making any definite statement.

I think that is a fair comment.

QUESTION:

Prime Minister, have you had a reaction from the Russians on the shooting down?

PRIME MINISTER:

I am not aware of one yet.

QUESTION:

Are you looking forward to going back to your roots?

PRIME MINISTER:

I am certainly looking forward to going to Pittsburgh. [Laughter].