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Perot Claim on Panama Aid Disputed

June 28, 1992|From Associated Press

WASHINGTON — National Security Adviser Brent Scowcroft on Saturday disputed the claim of prospective independent presidential contender Ross Perot that the White House sought his help after the invasion of Panama.

Scowcroft, in an interview broadcast on CNN, said it was Perot who made the offer to put up money to help rebuild Panama.

Bush sent U.S. troops into Panama in December, 1989, to oust dictator Manuel A. Noriega, who was ultimately returned to Miami to face drug charges.

The Texas billionaire last week produced a January, 1990, letter from President Bush thanking him for his "offer to help with Panama's economic recovery . . . I am glad the Noriega matter is now resolved."

Bush's letter thanked Perot for his willingness to fund a housing project.

"Once again, you've shown the Perot spirit of unselfishness when there's trouble or when Americans' lives are at stake," said the letter.

Perot said the letter "is not quite right in that sense. . . . They asked me if I would (help), and I said yes."

But Scowcroft said, "He made the offer. . . . Just to reinforce my memory, I went back and checked the phone logs. . . . He made the phone call."

Asked about Bush's warm words for Perot in the letter, Scowcroft said that Perot on several occasions "has shown his patriotism and unselfishness."

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