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U.S.: Perry Presented Highest Civilian Award

Washington, 15 January 1997 (RFE/RL) - U.S. President Bill Clinton yesterday presented outgoing Secretary of Defense William Perry with the Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian award.

At a farewell ceremony at a military base near Washington, Clinton praised Perry, saying Perry may well be recorded in history as America's most productive, effective secretary of defense.

Clinton said Perry led efforts to "dismantle and de-target thousands of Russian nuclear warheads once aimed at America's cities, and to eliminate nuclear warheads from Kazakhstan, Ukraine and Belarus."

The American president, a Democrat, also said Perry helped build a new security architecture in Europe through NATO's partnership for peace program and established new security relationships with Russia and China.

Clinton picked former U.S. Senator William Cohen of the state of Maine, a Republican, to succeed Perry. The nomination must still be approved by the Senate.