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                  Office of the Press Secretary
                     (Shoreline, Washington)
For Immediate Release                                  February 24, 1996     
                       STATEMENT BY THE PRESIDENT
                         ON THE CUBAN INCIDENT
                      Shoreline Community College
                         Shoreline, Washington            

5:35 P.M. PST

THE PRESIDENT: Ladies and gentlemen, I have just been briefed by the National Security Advisor on the shooting down today in broad daylight of two American civilian airplanes by Cuban military aircraft. We are continuing to investigate the circumstances of the incident, including the airplane's flight plan and the flight route and what, if any, warnings were given.

This afternoon I ordered the following actions: First, I directed the United States Coast Guard units in the area to conduct search and rescue operations. That is now underway in the waters off Cuba. Second, I have ordered United States military forces in the area to provide support for the search and rescue operations and to ensure that it is fully protected. Third, I have instructed our interest section in Havana to seek an immediate explanation for this incident from the Cuban government.

I condemn this action in the strongest possible terms. And as events unfold and we know more we will do our best to answer your questions.

I'd like now to ask Mr. McCurry to come up and either now or immediately, I think, when I leave here to do his best to answer whatever other questions you have. Obviously, we will be getting further information throughout the night and we'll let you know when we have it.

Thank you.

Q Mr. President, the United States does have confirmation on the shoot-down?

Q Do you know where the planes were when they were shot down?

THE PRESIDENT: We know -- I can't say that for sure. I think Mike can answer all the questions.

Q Will U.S. forces go into Cuban waters or have you asked them to stay out?

END 5:37 P.M. PST