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Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release March 17, 1993
                           PRESS BRIEFING
                          BY DEE DEE MYERS

The Briefing Room

9:44 A.M. EST

MS. MYERS: The President's schedule. At 10:15 a.m., he will go to the Indian Treaty Room in the OEOB to address the Electronics Industry Association. That will be a pool op at the top of that. At 11:15 a.m., Prime Minister Reynolds will join President Clinton in the Oval Office. They'll have a brief meeting and then they'll go to the Roosevelt Room for that longstanding tradition of the shamrock presentation. At 11:45 a.m., they'll leave for the Hill for the noon lunch, Friends of Ireland, in the Rayburn Room in the Capitol. The President will return here, and that's it for his public schedule.

I have an update on Friday as well. It is a one-day trip only. The President will leave here around 9:30 a.m. Friday morning, fly to Atlanta. He'll have a noon event in Atlanta -- I don't have the details on that yet -- and then come directly back to Washington late afternoon Friday.

Q Then nothing on the weekend?

Q What happened to Florida?

MS. MYERS: Nothing on the weekend. No weekend schedule at this point.

Q Could you give us some idea of what's he going to do -- what the President of the United States will be going to Atlanta for?

MS. MYERS: Broadly to discuss his economic plan, probably with the business community. We don't have the specific details of the event, but it will be built around the economic plan.

Q Where will he speak?

MS. MYERS: To a group down there.

Q No, I mean -- where? What building?

MS. MYERS: We're working on the details of that. There's a couple of options.

Q You'll probably be able to find one.

MS. MYERS: I think we probably -- it's a safe bet that we will find something.

Q So this weekend will he be at the White House then?

MS. MYERS: He'll be in Washington as of now, that's the plan. And no weekend schedule other than the Saturday radio address.

Q What about the rest of today? What's he doing today?

MS. MYERS: Mostly meetings in the Oval Office, various staff working on a variety of issues.

Q In-house meetings, staff meetings --

MS. MYERS: Mostly, yes.

Q On?

MS. MYERS: A variety of issues. Normal domestic policy, economic policy.

Q The old variety of issues --

MS. MYERS: The old variety of issues.

Q How concerned is he about the stimulus package? Concerned at all?

MS. MYERS: Well, obviously we're working with Congress to try to get it through. He's committed to it. We expect the Congress to start debate on that today and tomorrow --

Q What does the -- count show?

MS. MYERS: -- that and the budget resolution. It's -- you know, we're optimistic.

Q You're in trouble there, huh?

MS. MYERS: We're optimistic.

Q Do you want to see it --

MS. MYERS: I think that, again, the President would like to see the economic stimulus package passed in its current form. We're optimistic about it, and we'll see what happens.

Q Dee Dee, what does the White House hear about Les Aspin's condition? Is there any thought that he may have to be replaced because of his health difficulties?

MS. MYERS: Oh, that's way premature. The Secretary met with staff this morning. At last report, he was reading newspapers and other briefings. And the doctors at Georgetown will have a press conference this afternoon at 2:00 p.m. They expect that he'll have -- they'll discuss the details of his condition and the prognosis. But he's in good shape this morning.

Q You say it's way premature. Are you --

Q Has the surgery been scheduled?

MS. MYERS: They haven't scheduled it yet. They're looking at either this afternoon or tomorrow. They haven't made a decision as far as I know.

Q When you say it's way premature, you're not -- that seems to leave a little more --

MS. MYERS: No, I think his doctors have said that this is not a new condition, this is something that was fully explored several weeks ago. They have said that he is in good shape and can carry out the functions of his office.

Q How long will he be out of his office?

MS. MYERS: I don't know. I'll let the doctors address that this afternoon. I don't think -- the doctors describe this as a relatively minor procedure, having a pacemaker installed. They don't expect it will keep him away from work very long.

Q What again do you --

MS. MYERS: Sort of like a carburetor, a pacemaker. (Laughter.)

Q Given the fact that he will be undergoing reasonably major surgery, and he will be out of the office for some time.

MS. MYERS: I think his doctors may disagree with that assessment of the surgery. I defer to the doctors on this.

Q Is there any thought of transferring any authority in the chain of command to --

MS. MYERS: That's not necessary.

Q Details again, Dee Dee, on that press -- this afternoon.

MS. MYERS: It's 2:00 p.m. at the hospital. I don't know exactly where. You can check with DOD on the specifics.

Q Dee Dee, will you be having anything to say today about the long-standing request that the President send an envoy to Northern Ireland?

MS. MYERS: Clearly that's something he wants to discuss with Prime Minister Reynolds. He discussed it with Prime Minister Major. The President has expressed a willingness to send some kind of representative to Northern Ireland if the parties think it will be useful in moving towards some kind of a settlement in Northern Ireland.

Q What would be the purpose for that? Why would -- need to --

MS. MYERS: Just to help -- if both parties believe that it would help move the talks forward and move towards some kind of a settlement in Northern Ireland, then the President will be willing to do it.

Q When you say both parties, who are you referring to?

MS. MYERS: The English and the Irish.

Q Are you also suggesting that a --

Q John Major's not too -- he's not too excited about having an envoy go to Northern Ireland. As a matter of fact, he said that the President did not use those terms when they talked about it.

MS. MYERS: What the President has said recently is that if -- that he discussed it with Prime Minister Major, he'll discuss it with Prime Minister Reynolds. If the parties believe it would be helpful, then the President will send a representative.

Q Is he, as one report has it, leaning against that now?

MS. MYERS: I think I'll let the President talk to the Prime Minister. I mean, again, the President's position is fairly clear. If the parties believe it would be useful, he will send a representative.

Q Would it be possible that he could send a representative, but not designate them as a formal envoy?

MS. MYERS: I'm not going to speculate about what may come out. Again, I think the President and the Prime Minister will talk more about that today.

Q Dee Dee, what is the U.S. national interest in getting embroiled in affairs of Ireland, other than the fact that there are 44 million Irishmen -- 44 million Americans of Irish descent?

MS. MYERS: That's always of interest to us.

Q I think you put your finger on it -- (laughter).

MS. MYERS: If the United States can play a constructive role in resolving a long simmering problem, then we're willing to do it.

Q This has been going on for quite a while, though.

MS. MYERS: Yes, indeed it has.

Q And previous administrations have steered clear of it. Why --

MS. MYERS: I think the United States has participated in the Ireland Fund for quite some time. I think that, again, if we can play a constructive role in reaching some kind of a settlement there, then we are going to do it.

             Q    Will did Jeff Eller get phone calls on this issue?  
             MS. MYERS:  Did Jeff Eller?
             Q    Well, sure.  Are you --
             MS. MYERS:  I don't believe he's Irish.
             Q    But are you getting letters?  Are you getting phone 

calls? What kind of -- you mentioned the 44 million Irish Americans.

MS. MYERS: I didn't; Gene did.

Q Gene did. But are you getting any kind of pressure from the Irish American community? Any interest in Northern Ireland?

MS. MYERS: No, I don't think there's any kind of substantial pressure. I think, again -- I mean, there hasn't been any additional pressure that doesn't exist from interest groups every single day here about a variety of issues. But, again, if the United States can play a constructive role in that part of the world, then we'll do that.

Q Dee Dee, if either party disagrees or says they don't want an envoy or a fact-finding mission sent, will the President then not do it? That seemed to be your suggestion. He will only do it if both sides agree that it should be done.

MS. MYERS: Again, I think what the President wants to do is play a constructive role, however that's defined. And he'll talk with Prime Minister Reynolds about it this afternoon and see what the outcome of that conversation is.

Q Will you be telling us?

Q Jean Kennedy-Smith today?

Q Yes, either/or --

MS. MYERS: I think we'll have more to say about that later. She'll be here.

Q as well?

MS. MYERS: We're not ready to make an official announcement on that.

Q Well, he is.

Q He's already announced it several times.

MS. MYERS: I'm not sure il Papa is ready.

Q I think he was --

Q He misses you.

MS. MYERS: I defer to my colleague, Arthur Jones -- Arthur McJones on that issue. (Laughter.)

Q France is suggesting that the April summit be expanded to include a G-7 meeting. What's the view of the White House on that?

MS. MYERS: I think our view is the same as it has been, which is that we're certainly willing to consider G-7 discussions before Tokyo; and at what level and exactly when and where hasn't been decided. But we're looking at a number of options.

Q Have you got anything for us on that meeting with the North Koreans?

MS. MYERS: Meeting with the North Koreans?

Q U.S. officials met with North Korean officials today?

MS. MYERS: Our position, again, is the same -- that we hope that the North --

Q They had a meeting in Beijing.

Q Can you tell us anything about the meeting and --

MS. MYERS: No, other than just to reiterate our position on North Korea's participation in the Nonproliferation Treaty. We're working to urge them to abide by the terms of that treaty. And I don't have any specific readout on that meeting.

Q Were you aware of the meeting?

MS. MYERS: I was aware that it was happening. I don't have any details about the fact that it has -- what happened.

Q Dee Dee, what's the President's stand on the concept of health care cost controls as reported in the paper this morning?

MS. MYERS: He's willing -- we're obviously looking at a broad range of options as we move toward decisions on the health care reform package, and I'm just not prepared to discuss the details of that.

Q Does he have any view on the concept of putting cost controls on health care?

MS. MYERS: I certainly don't want to tilt the discussion one way or another. He's considering a wide variety of options at this point. Obviously, a number of things are under discussion, and beyond that I don't want to -- I mean, he's talked at some length about his overall philosophical approach toward health care, and I don't want to go beyond what he's already said.

Q Two questions. One, is there any thought -- is there discussion at the White House about pushing back the May 4 deadline for release of the detailed health care plan?

MS. MYERS: No. We're still looking toward the beginning of May.

Q Now that you have an Attorney General in place as you start to fill other positions at the Justice Department, what standard you will use for other senior officials who may have past problems or current problems with domestic help and Social Security taxes?

MS. MYERS: We're reviewing that. Obviously it's something -- there have been a few questions added, I should say, to questionnaires as we move through this. But I think we're going to consider it on a case-by-case basis.

Q The suggestion before that there was a higher standards for the attorney general than there might be for other senior positions.

MS. MYERS: I think that's correct.

Q Did that high standard for other senior positions at the Justice Department?

MS. MYERS: Well, again we'll review it on a case-bycase basis. I'm not going to comment on sort of a broad categorical statement other than to say that we'll consider it on a case-by-case basis; that obviously there are more questions being asked now about that than there were in the past, but I don't want to prejudge any decisions that might be made.

Q Dee Dee, is active consideration being given to having a G-7 meeting in Vancouver?

MS. MYERS: I think we're considering a number of options. I don't know that that one is being considered any more active than any other options.

Q That's being considered, though?

MS. MYERS: I think we're looking at a -- I mean, there are a number of proposals on the table about timing, about at what level the meetings will occur, and we haven't made any decisions on it.

Q? When do you expect to make a decision?

MS. MYERS: We'll let you know as soon as we have a decision.

Q Dee Dee, the Consumer Price Index was up for the second month in a row. Any concern over that?

MS. MYERS: Sure, we're going to watch it carefully. Nobody wants to see inflation creeping up. We're against inflation -- categorically.

THE PRESS: Thank you.

END9:55 A.M. EST