E X E C U T I V E O F F I C E O F T H E P R E S I D E N T
THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
PRESS BRIEFING BY DEE DEE MYERS The Briefing Room
5:45 P.M. EST
Q Put on your running shoes.
MS. MYERS: That's right, put on your running shoes, Miklaszewski.
Q Do you have the definitive story on the jogging track?
MS. MYERS: Well, we have most of the definitive -- we have the quasi-definitive story on the jogging track. The process for funding the jogging track is as follows: We're accepting -- not we, the National Park Foundation is accepting contributions up to $1,000 with a note designating them for the President's jogging track.
Q The National Park what?
MS. MYERS: Foundation. It's an existing foundation. It will oversee this for us. It's the same foundation that oversees construction at the Naval Observatory and other places. I don't know if we've received any contributions, but we're accepting them as of today.
Q So you have a contribution.
Q They've got a New York jogging club that's currently sending down $1,000.
MS. MYERS: Terrific.
Q They're running it down.
MS. MYERS: They're running it down. Excellent.
Q Do you get a little plaque or a name plate that's, like, embedded in this sponge stuff? (Laughter.)
Q So no contributions over $1,000?
MS. MYERS: No cash contributions over $1,000.
Q And this is a part of the National Park Service?
MS. MYERS: No cash. That means that the Foundation
can't accept the in-kind contribution of the track materials.
Q Why would people donate to this?
MS. MYERS: Because they think that it's in the President's interest to have a place where he can run on the White House grounds.
Q You say they don't accept cash, or they'll only accept cash?
MS. MYERS: No, they'll accept cash contributions of up to $1,000.
Q And this is a part of the National Park Service?
MS. MYERS: No. There will be people there that can direct people who have inquiries to the National Park Foundation.
Q Are you just going to wait until it all comes in, based on free media attention?
MS. MYERS: I believe that that will -- given the interest level in this room, that may not be that hard.
Q I came in late. You're just paving the rim around the round part of the driveway, right?
MS. MYERS: I don't know what the specific parameters of the track are. I believe that's correct.
Q What's the total cost estimate?
MS. MYERS: Twenty thousand dollars in labor and the material is worth an estimated $10,000 have been donated. So the total cost is $30,000.
Q Is this part of the National Park Service?
MS. MYERS: Yes.
Q And do you know when it was created?
MS. MYERS: I don't. It's been in existence for some time.
Q For this kind of thing, of contributions -- outside contributions?
MS. MYERS: They do a number of projects where they raise private contributions to work on national parklands and other public facilities.
Q Is that how they got the foundation of the Carter pool? I mean, the Carter pool was donated; did it come through them?
MS. MYERS: I don't know. But I know that the work -- I can check. I know the work at the Observatory is through them.
Q Dee Dee, if they could only accept money donations, what -- unless I --
MS. MYERS: That's not a legal limit, it's a limit that we've imposed. But we will accept the in-kind contribution of the materials.
Q Oh, you will?
MS. MYERS: Yes.
Q Can you give us a readout on Bosnia?
Q Dee Dee, Boutros-Ghali said there's complete agreement on an airlift to raise morale in Bosnia. Can you tell us what the White House side of that is, please?
MS. MYERS: We believe it's necessary that there are humanitarian interests there that must be met, that we're still working on the details, we're still in consultation with a number of other governments. And as soon as the consultation process is complete, we'll have an announcement.
Q Is there complete agreement that --
Q complete agreement.
Q He says there's complete agreement.
Q See, there is no problem.
MS. MYERS: There's complete agreement, but in terms of the necessity of the mission, but the details have not yet been worked out. When they are, the President will have an announcement.
Q This week, do you think?
MS. MYERS: I think that's likely.
Q What do you mean, "complete agreement," then?
MS. MYERS: Secretary General Boutros-Ghali said he thought the program was necessary, that there were humanitarian demands in Eastern Bosnia that needed to be met and that this could be done with relatively little risk and at not too great a cost, and that there is consensus for at least moving forward with the consultation process.
Q CNN reports that administration officials have said that these planes will fly without air cover. Can you comment on that?
MS. MYERS: That's correct.
Q Is there a risk perceived to be there in doing it that way?
MS. MYERS: No. It's our judgment that it will be adequate, that there will not be too great a risk.
Q Who has command and control over the aircraft?
MS. MYERS: Those details are still being worked out.
Q Is there any sense --
Q Boutros-Ghali says it's the United Nations.
MS. MYERS: No. He said it would be done within the framework of the United Nations. But he specifically said that the command of the forces had not been worked out.
Q He said that there would be authority of the U.N.?
MS. MYERS: Right.
Q Did Clinton agree to that?
MS. MYERS: He's still working on those details. The President will have an announcement.
Q Authority and command are two different things.
Q It's the principle here, it's not the details.
MS. MYERS: We'll have an announcement on that soon. It's within the framework of the United Nations. That's what --
Q But authority of the U.N., command of the operation are separate and apart.
MS. MYERS: And the Secretary General pointed out that that had not been worked out yet.
Q Well, Dee Dee, the President would not allow the U.N. or any other entity to have command over U.S. forces in something like this, would he?
MS. MYERS: Again, we're in consultation on this and we'll have an announcement soon. I can't speak to any more details.
Q There are about eight planes in and out of Sarajevo each day. Is that the scale of operation you're looking at, or are you looking at a significant expansion on that kind of number?
MS. MYERS: We'll have more on -- I just can't comment beyond that on the specifics. We're still consulting with other governments about it.
Q When the President said there would be no combat connotations, was that what he was referring to -- that there would not be fighter cover?
MS. MYERS: Or ground troops.
Q Will they be armed, taking the supplies in?
MS. MYERS: I just can't speak to the specific details.
Q Once again, when you say it would be within the framework of the U.N., what do you mean by that? Can you be specific, please?
MS. MYERS: Within the framework of the United Nations Security Council Resolution 770, which authorizes humanitarian aid, working with the United Nations, which is --
Q Is that the same under the authority of the U.N. -- is it the same -- view?
MS. MYERS: I'm not going to get into the specifics of whose going to command the troops. That's something that Secretary General had pointed out had not been worked out. The President will have more to say about this later.
Q Dee Dee, it's difficult enough in a military situation where you have control of an area and communications -- on the ground communications -- to conduct an air drop with any kind of accuracy. Why does the Administration think that given none of those things, the President will be able to drop supplies to these villages and actually succeed in delivering them?
MS. MYERS: Well, it's the judgment of the people who are making these decisions for the administration that it can be done accurately enough to be effective and to provide additional relief that's necessary. I think it's widely accepted that ground delivery is the most effective means, but that air delivery is effective enough to make it worth exploring. And that there can be some significant relief through air drops.
Q Dee Dee, you say -- who are advising the government. Who are those? The Pentagon?
MS. MYERS: A number of people. The President's National Security Advisors.
Q Does the Pentagon concur with that?
MS. MYERS: There's ongoing consultation. I'm just not going to be specific about who has been involved in this process. But it is the judgment of the people who are advising the President that this can be done effectively.
Q Are there any military advisors in that group?
MS. MYERS: There's a number of people in the group.
Q How many military?
MS. MYERS: I don't know the specific people who are involved, and I'm not going to comment further on the people.
Q Dee Dee, as you know, the Muslim countries have been expressing a great deal of concern about the fate of their brethren in Bosnia. Do you think that this step by the United States will in any way assuage some of those concerns that have been brought up?
MS. MYERS: Well, hopefully. I mean, the goal here is to bring parties to the negotiating table and into the Vance-Owen process. That's been the goals outlined by Secretary Christopher, and we're continuing to pursue those.
Q Would you see this step by the United States convincing Turkey and Saudi Arabia to extend U.S. access to their bases which we are using for operations against Iraq?
MS. MYERS: I think that there's --
Q Ozal --
MS. MYERS: Right. I think that I'll leave it to the State Department to comment on that.
Q Any idea about the timing of the announcement?
MS. MYERS: No. I think as soon as we feel adequate consultation has taken place. I think that'll be soon. But I don't have a specific timeline.
Q How will the Major meeting fit into that --achieving --
MS. MYERS: I'm sure it will come up. Again, the Major meeting, as you know, was set long before this was seriously considered. I think they'll discuss it, but the two things are not related.
Q Isn't it likely the announcement would be before
the Major meeting?
MS. MYERS: I think that's unlikely, yes.
Q The British government said they would not supply any planes to participate in the air drop. Apparently, you had urged it to do so. Is that a disappointment to you?
MS. MYERS: We're continuing to consult with a number of governments and invite them to participate, and we'll wait and see what he ultimate resolution of that is. Again, the President will have an announcement on it once we feel we've adequately consulted.
Q What's the schedule for tomorrow, Dee Dee?
MS. MYERS: Tomorrow, Prime Minister Major comes at 3:00 p.m. He'll meet with the President. There will be an availability at around 4:00 p.m.
Q He comes at 3:00 p.m.?
MS. MYERS: Yes. I don't know if the meeting said it was changed or if it was just wrong earlier. But he comes at 3:00 p.m., there will be an availability around 4:00 p.m., and then there will be a working dinner. The Prime Minister and the President will have dinner together.
Q So there's no luncheon?
MS. MYERS: No. It's later.
Q No coverage? What's the coverage?
MS. MYERS: No. The coverage will be a pool op at the top of the meeting at 3:00 p.m., and then an availability, which will be open coverage.
Q Would he be staying here through the dinner?
MS. MYERS: I think he's leaving and coming back, but I'm not sure.
Q Anything else on the open agenda, public agenda tomorrow?
MS. MYERS: No. That's the only event, so --
Q Going back to a question from this morning on this jogging track, have you found out whether or not this is going to be made available to all White House staffers?
MS. MYERS: No, I didn't check that. I don't know that that's been discussed. I can't see any obstacles to making it available to all White House staff.
Q The President has issued an order opening up everything to --
MS. MYERS: Right. I don't see any obstacles to it.
Q Dee Dee, after all is said and done now and some time has passed, what's the White House view of the Conservative Party sending people over here to help the Bush campaign? Do you think that will have reflected all during the talks the British government going through Bill Clinton's files? Do you think that has any role here at all?
MS. MYERS: No. I think the President's -- when that happened made it clear that he didn't -- was not going to let this in any way affect our relationship with the U.K. He believes that that's an important bilateral relationship, and he looks forward to a good working relationship with Prime Minister Major.
Q Dee Dee, since you're confirming there will be no forces covering the planes covering, is it safe to assume, then, that the intention is to have the planes fly high enough to avoid ground fire?
MS. MYERS: We'll have more specific details on that. Those kinds of details are still being worked out, and at some point we'll probably refer you to Defense on how high the planes are going to fly.
Q Is there going to be a briefing on how this operation will be conducted?
MS. MYERS: Perhaps the DOD on terms of what kind of planes and what their cargo capacity is.
THE PRESS: Thank you.
END5:58 P.M. EST