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Puerto Rico Bombing Decision Soon

November 23, 1999

WASHINGTON (AP) _ Defense Secretary William Cohen said Tuesday he’s close to making a recommendation to President Clinton on whether the Navy should abandon its use of the Puerto Rican island of Vieques as a live bombing range.

``I can’t specify the exact time, but there is some need to resolve the issue in the near future,″ Cohen told a Pentagon news conference. ``And once the president receives my recommendations, he will make a decision. But I can’t at this point specify what that recommendation will be.″

The Puerto Rican government is demanding that the Navy abandon its bombing range on the outlying island, but the Navy has said it deems it essential to its training needs.

Relations between the Navy and the Puerto Rican government have been deteriorating since a jet practicing over Vieques in April dropped a bomb off target and killed a civilian security guard at the training ground.

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