THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
PRESS BRIEFING BY DEE DEE MYERS The Briefing Room
9:10 A.M. EST
MS. MYERS: Good morning. Gene Sperling is here to do a briefing on the defense conversion policy. It is on the record. He can be identified as Gene Sperling, Deputy Assistant to the President for Economic Policy.
Q I'd like to ask you a couple questions before.
MS. MYERS: I'll take a couple, and then since you all have to leave, let's move on to him quickly.
Q The two questions are, one, New York Times story about the formation of an international force which we're prodding NATO to do. We would give 20,000 for the 50,000-man force. And did the President call President Bush?
MS. MYERS: The answer to the first question is, there are conversations ongoing with our allies. Obviously, no final decisions can be made about anything until a peace plan has been agreed upon by the various parties. There are a number of contingencies being considered, but again, there have been no final decisions about force sizes or command structures. Those discussions are ongoing.
President Clinton did speak to President Bush on Monday. They talked for about 20 minutes, largely about Russia.
Q Why don't you tell us Monday or Tuesday?
Q Was it before the meeting with Nixon?
MS. MYERS: Yes.
Q And is there a conflict with the French government over the question of using NATO troops -- I mean, NATO warming this operation?
MS. MYERS: No, it's an ongoing discussion. Obviously we'll be sensitive to French concerns about command structure. But no final decisions have been made, and the conversation is ongoing.
Q What are their -- do they object to American leadership?
MS. MYERS: I don't believe that's the issue. However, again, no final decisions have been made about command structure. It's an ongoing conversation.
Q Can you flesh out the Bush conversation?
MS. MYERS: No, other than to say that they discussed Russia and President Clinton was interested in President Bush's views on what's happening there and his experience dealing with Russia as President.
Q Who called who?
MS. MYERS: President Clinton called President Bush.
Okay, I will turn it over to --
Q Dee Dee, just one more thing. Is there any further discussion about a G-7 meeting of finance ministers or foreign ministers in Washington to handle Russia? What can you say about that?
MS. MYERS: Well, obviously, President Clinton thought we ought to move more quickly and not wait until G-7 in July to deal with the Russia issue. There is some ongoing conversation, I'm not sure exactly at what level, and there have been no decisions made about a meeting, specifically, or at what level it would occur, although there does seem to be interest among various parties for an earlier meeting of the G-7 to discuss Russia.
Q Is there a stampede now because of great concern over Yeltsin's possibility of surviving?
MS. MYERS: I don't know if you could call it a stampede. I think there is concern and interest in moving up the timetable on Russia. And I think that, again, no decisions have been made, but I think there will be an ongoing conversation about that.
Q Among the G-7 itself there's this interest in an early meeting?
MS. MYERS: Certainly. I mean, President Mitterrand expressed interest, President Clinton expressed interest, other parties have said -- Prime Minister Major expressed interest. So there's clearly concern and a growing sort of consensus that there ought to be some action before July.
Q Has the concern been heightened because of what's happening in the last 24 hours?
MS. MYERS: I don't know if there have been any conversations in the last 24 hours with specific reference to an early G-7. I can't comment on that.
Q Has the U.S. offered to host this meeting?
MS. MYERS: Again, there are no specific plans on the table at this point as to a time, a date or a level at which the meeting would take place, other than to reaffirm the President's position, which is that he thinks the timetable ought to be moved up, and we ought not to wait until July.
Q Are you talking about an emergency G-7 meeting before Tokyo, or moving Tokyo earlier?
MS. MYERS: No. I think what's being talked about is something before -- Tokyo will go forward in early July. There are no plans to change that at this point. What's being talked about is perhaps an earlier meeting, and at what level again, and where, and exactly what would be on the agenda are things that will have to be worked out.
Q The finance ministers are scheduled to meet in Washington in late April. Could this meeting be used for that purpose, or be expanded to include the foreign ministers?
MS. MYERS: Again, there just aren't any details available on that.
Without further ado, defense conversion.
THE PRESS: Thank you.
END9:20 A.M. EST