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Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release March 5, 1993
                            PRESS BRIEFING
                           BY DEE DEE MYERS

                          The Briefing Room

5:45 P.M. EST

MS. MYERS: There have been no changes in the weekend schedule. As of right now, the President will make his radio address at 10:06 a.m. tomorrow. He has no other public events.

On Monday, he will address the National League of Cities at the Washington Hilton. That's at 1:00 p.m. And the Tuesday schedule -- he'll begin the day with a meeting with the bipartisan congressional leadership. At 10:30 a.m. President Mitterrand will arrive. It is a working visit. He will meet with President Clinton in the Oval Office until about noon. At 12:15 p.m. they'll do a press statement in the East Room. This is Tuesday.

Q From 10:30 a.m. to 12:00 noon in the Oval Office?

MS. MYERS: Correct.

Q What time is the congressional leadership meeting?

MS. MYERS: At 9:15 a.m. here Tuesday. So 9:15 a.m. congressional leaders, 10:30 a.m. Mitterrand arrives, 12:15 p.m. press statement in the East Room, 1:00 p.m. lunch at the Residence. And the meeting will end around 2:00 p.m. or 2:15 p.m. and the President will escort President Mitterrand out on the South Lawn and he will leave from there.

Q What are they going to talk about -- some of the items, the thrust of their meeting?

MS. MYERS: They'll talk about a variety of bilateral and international issues. We will probably -- I think it's almost nailed down -- do a briefing on Monday about more specific details of the --

Q In the afternoon?

MS. MYERS: Yes, after George's briefing, sometime in the afternoon.

Q How do you expect them to get along? There was such a difference in terms of age and in everything. I mean, they're so different. What's your expectation?

MS. MYERS: I think they'll get along great. (Laughter.)

Q They're both usually late. That might help.

MS. MYERS: Oh, I think they'll probably both be relatively on time. I think they'll have a productive and meaningful conversation.

Q Will American wines be served at lunch? (Laughter.)

MS. MYERS: That's a good question.

Q That's important.

MS. MYERS: President Clinton doesn't drink much wine. He's allergic to most things. (Laughter.)

Q Is he going to give him McDonald's? (Laughter.)

Q Like what?

Q That's not what he told the wine brewers association last Thursday.

MS. MYERS: He enjoys wine, he just can't drink it very often because he's allergic to it.

Q Could you shed some light on George's comment about the interception of the Serb ship -- say that three times fast --Serb ship on the Seychelles. (Laughter.)

MS. MYERS: That was the Sally, I believe.

Q The Pentagon's been casting some doubt on it. There's not sure if it was, in fact, a U.S. action. And that's our question -- was it a U.S. action, and was it, in fact, a Serb ship?

I'll have to get back to you. It was carrying Serb weapons to Somalia. I don't know what the origin of the ship was. I believe it was a Serb ship. And I don't know exactly who stopped it.

Q There's a report it could be a Greek ship, in fact.

MS. MYERS: That's possible.

Q And George mentioned that five ships in total had been blocked he said in the past month, and he gave five other names besides this one -- six ships on the whole were blocked in the past month. Was it five or six?

MS. MYERS: One was stopped in port, five were stopped on the high seas. I don't have the list in front of me.

Q But again, to follow up, it was, as far as you know, a U.S. action?

MS. MYERS: The U.S. was involved in the action. I don't know if was solely U.S. or if it was a multilateral.

Q And how do they know that these ships are carrying whatever it is?

MS. MYERS: They track them closely. It's something that takes quite a while to determine the port of destination, the origin of the supplies or the materials on the different ships, where they come from, who owns the ships. It's quite a detailed operation.

Q Will you let us know when you know?

MS. MYERS: I can find that out right away and let you know.

Q What was the port of departure for the ship?

MS. MYERS: It went to a number places. Right before they caught it, I'm not sure where it was most recently, but it had been going from port to port.

Q Do you have anything on new arrests in the bombing?

MS. MYERS: No, nothing to report.

Q Does the President have any plans for this evening -- any public events?

MS. MYERS: No public events.

Q Is he going out?

MS. MYERS: Not that I know of.

Q What now, now that you've had some time -- George didn't know anything about it in his briefing, but do you have anything more on what Panetta was talking about today. Are you revisiting COLAs?

MS. MYERS: No, as you know, there's a proposal from members of the -- conservative Democratic members of the House to consider freezing COLAs, I believe at one percent below inflation on everything except Social Security. That is a proposal that has been discussed. We have not made any decision one way or another on that yet.

Q Was it discussed by administration people?

MS. MYERS: It's been presented to the administration by a group of conservative Democrats.

Q Panetta also talked about it in the taping of Newsmaker Saturday this afternoon. He also talked about it as something that might be looked at.

MS. MYERS: Again, we said we would look at all comers, take suggestions into consideration. That's one that's come up. Again, it doesn't deal with the specific cuts within -- when you freeze cost of living adjustments, you have to make cuts. This doesn't deal with the specifics. But as Director Panetta indicated, it's something that we'll take a look at.

Q The President slapped down the idea of COLAs very hard.

MS. MYERS: He slapped down the idea of COLAs -- this excludes Social Security.

Q Not according to what Panetta said to the AP, from my reading of it.

MS. MYERS: Okay, I'll have to double-check. My understanding was that it was the proposal from the conservative members, which was to hold COLAs one percent below inflation for everything except Social Security.

Q So that is under consideration?

MS. MYERS: Well, it's something that's been submitted. And as we've said, we'll take a look at it, but there's been no determination one way or another on it.

Q That proposal is therefore possibly on the table, but Social Security, is that completely ruled out?

MS. MYERS: That was ruled out during the process.

Q That hasn't come back at all?

MS. MYERS: That has not come -- that is not something that we're considering.

Q Do you know how much that would save?

MS. MYERS: I don't have specific numbers in front of me.

Q Do you have the trip for next week ready to --

MS. MYERS: Nothing new to report other than Friday -- we'll probably travel on Friday. And Saturday, maybe, maybe not.

Q Mrs. Clinton is supposedly traveling next Friday to a health forum in Tampa-St. Petersburg. Is it conceivably combined with that?

MS. MYERS: No, no plans to do that right now.

Q What about Wednesday, Thursday -- any idea what's going on here?

MS. MYERS: We'll do some small business related events. I don't have all the details on it. We're still working it out.

Q Here at the White House or around town?

MS. MYERS: Probably a little of both.

Q We can assume the League of Cities speech is on the economy?

MS. MYERS: I think that's a good bet. Investments, things that -- the kind of things that the mayors talked about today.

Q Do you have any guidance on the possibility of any kind of an announcement over the weekend on sanctions either tightened or new or anything like that with these teams coming back?

MS. MYERS: I don't expect it, but I wouldn't rule -- I can't rule it out completely.

Q Is the result of what they are doing something that would end up in an announcement? Is it some kind of a step that you would even report that you're taking?

MS. MYERS: I don't believe so.

Q It's not that major an effort? The way the President was talking about it, we're going to have some kind of new sanctions was what he was leading us to believe.

MS. MYERS: Well, I think we've had significant efforts at tightening the sanction, which has resulted in serious action, confiscation of now six ships --

Q But his remarks today would lead one to believe that there was some ratcheting up of pressure that was --

MS. MYERS: I think there's been a clear ratcheting up of the pressure. But we're operating within the same U.N. resolution. I don't expect a series of new announcements over the weekend. If that changes I'll let you know.

Q Two panels are supposed to come here, aren't they?

MS. MYERS: Correct.

Q Are they going to report --

MS. MYERS: Well, they're returning. One is a Treasury -- it's an interagency but it's lead by Treasury. The other is lead by State.

Q They'll be reporting to the President -- no?

MS. MYERS: No, not this weekend.

Q Weren't we supposed to get a Russia background briefing today?

MS. MYERS: We tried to put on -- at the last minute -- at the request of reporters this morning. Unfortunately, all of the people who are available to do that were not available this afternoon. So unfortunately, we had to postpone it. But we will do briefings in advance of the summit and we will do, as I said, a briefing in advance of President Mitterrand's visit on Tuesday.

Q Dee Dee, are those going to be invitation only sessions --

MS. MYERS: No, they'll be here, they'll be here.

Q Is the President near a decision on those Bush bonuses?

MS. MYERS: Near a decision -- do you mean releasing the information or making a decision about rescinding --

Q Or a decision whether or not that you would seek to reverse them, or take the money back, or something like that?

MS. MYERS: I don't have a specific time line on it, but as soon as we're ready we'll let you know.

Q Have they all arrived -- has the information all arrived at the White House?

MS. MYERS: Much of it has. I don't know if it's all.

Q Who's coordinating it? Nussbaum?

MS. MYERS: He's one of the -- there are a number of people who are looking at it.

Q Anything for Sunday?


Q Is there going to be a lid on tonight?

MS. MYERS: I expect so. I don't think he has any --not that -- we expect a lid soon.

Q Dee Dee, as a matter of policy, I think it would be good if you could set up for a briefing -- background briefings for every major visit like the Mitterrand or Helmut Kohl at the end of the month or Rabin on the 15th.

MS. MYERS: I think that's --

Q Like two, three or even four days in advance, not just the day before. It is a bit short for us. But, I mean, not on Mitterrand. There will be more important visits during the month than that.

MS. MYERS: I'll take that into consideration. And I will find out who stopped the ship and where it originated from.

Q What's the nature of the trip next week? Is it a usual economic plan and selling --

MS. MYERS: Yes, it's to continue to talk about the various elements of the plan and how it will affect people around the country.

THE PRESS: Thank you.

END5:55 P.M. EST