THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary (Tokyo, Japan) _________________________________________________________________ For Immediate Release July 9, 1993
PRESS BRIEFING BY COUNSELOR TO THE PRESIDENT DAVID GERGEN
The Ambassador's Residence Tokyo, Japan
7:35 P.M. (L)
MR. GERGEN: If we could just have a moment or two of your time, we all missed you so much that we decided we had to come over and see you yet again.
I wanted to give you an update about where things stand and sort of clear the decks before the President gets here. Then we're going to have [name deleted] talk to you for a few minutes on background about this afternoon's session -- just so we've cleared all the decks and you've got a clean slate here going into tonight's press conference with the President. Many of you have been asking about the status of the framework talks, and I wanted to tell you that the parties are continuing to talk. Some progress has been achieved, but there are still unresolved issues. There's no deadline for these talks. They may finish now or they may finish later. I wanted to make sure you understood that the dinner tonight is regarded as a social event. It is not part of the negotiating process.
I'm sure they'll be talking about the summit. The President wants to pay tribute to Prime Minister Miyazawa for the very fine way he hosted this summit. Some of you asked whether there will be an agreement tonight or lack of agreement tonight on the framework, whether there will be some decision tonight. I think a decision tonight is unlikely, unlikely, unlikely.
So in any event, are there any questions? Now, you all have asked about whether we would provide a readout. We won't do a formal readout, I think, after tonight's dinner. I hope that one of us will circulate in the press room after the dinner is over just to give you some sense of -- to tell you that nothing happened. If the unlikely happened, we would give you notice.
Q And would there be a joint statement of some sort --
MR. GERGEN: The frank answer is we haven't -- there's been no serious discussion -- one way or the other. There's been some discussion. We've thought about it. I mean --
Q Is this basically a farewell dinner for Miyazawa?
MR. GERGEN: It's a farewell dinner for President Clinton as he prepares to leave Tokyo.
Q (inaudible) --
MR. GERGEN: No, this was a dinner suggested by Prime Minister Miyazawa. It's an opportunity for the President to have a chance to pay tribute to him.
Q Even though this is not supposed to be a negotiating session, you wouldn't rule out that they might actually talk about outstanding issues between them?
MR. GERGEN: No, I don't rule that out at all. It is a social event, it is not a negotiation. The negotiations we've been trying to stress over the last few days -- ministerial level, so this is not a negotiation.
Q By the ministers, you mean?
MR. GERGEN: Well, there -- representatives from both sides who have been talking during the day today. They talked yesterday, they talked the day before. And they were -- when I just came over here, those talks were still continuing -- just about 20 minutes ago.
Q Who's at the dinner, David?
MR. GERGEN: Mrs. Clinton will not be there. She has another event on her schedule tonight. So it will be the President, the Prime Minister, and whether it will be Tony Lake or Sandy Berger or Michael Armacost, I'm not sure. But there will be one other American there, and I think there will be some counterpart on the Japanese side.
Q Would there be Roger Altman or Larry or --
MR. GERGEN: You mean Roger Altman, someone directly from that group?
MR. GERGEN: Roger Altman? I'm not anticipating -- as I say, I think the much more likely candidates for being there will be Tony or Sandy or possibly Michael Armacost.
Q Assuming that you're not going to get anything one way or the other on the framework tonight, are the talks likely to continue tomorrow into the weekend, early next week, or do they stop at least temporarily while the President leaves?
MR. GERGEN: Well, I think the anticipation would be, if they're not concluded tomorrow before he leaves, then there would be at least a brief pause and then they would be taken up after Tokyo. That's the anticipation.
Q have to tell us in the morning where we are.
MR. GERGEN: Yes, sure, we'll let you know tomorrow before you leave. Yes, I think -- we'll keep you abreast of this. We just want to make sure you're not --
Q Can you let us know tonight -- at some point tonight whether the talks will continue --
MR. GERGEN: Yes, I think what we'll do after -- as I say, I think the latest reading is it is unlikely that there will be any conclusion one way or the other this evening. But after dinner, I think you all are probably are going to be interested in an update, so we'll just come down and say -- you know, we'll circulate or go to the podium and just deal with it. But I think you're owed some update after the dinner if there's anything.
Q Can you tell us why the leaders don't negotiate -- that is, to sit down and see if they can work through some of the details that their aides haven't been able to cut through?
MR. GERGEN: Well, I think the truth of the matter is, as I understand and the more I've gotten into this, the more it's become apparent that the issues are very complex, it's exactly the kind of discussion you would want to put in the hands of your representatives, rather than having done it at a summit level. So I just don't think the dinner lends itself to it. And for the kind of complexities involved, you have to have a whole group of aides, representatives and one thing or another. It's just not the kind of thing that they had anticipated. The dinner was on track a few days ago.
Q I thought the President was prepared at the bilateral to try to address some of the substantive issues, and I'm wondering why he doesn't give it a try.
MR. GERGEN; Well, I think the President would be -- sure, the President can easily deal with some of the overview questions. But when you get down to the details of something like this, this is an extremely complex agreement. If it's reached, then it would -- as we said before, if it were to be reached, it would represent a major step forward, significant step beyond where we've been. So that -- as you know, you look at these baskets and what might be in the baskets. There are a lot of different questions here that arise. It's not a simple thing that can be resolved over sushi.
Q If the talks are taken up again after Tokyo, would that be before the July 18th elections, or would it wait until the new government is in place?
MR. GERGEN: That has not been addressed, Gwen. It's a good question. Frankly, I think that they'll probably decide -- let's say the talks went through tomorrow morning, I think that they would then decide, well, look, why don't we take this up within a week or so, or something like that.
The current government, the Miyazawa government, has been, as we say, quite forthcoming in these talks. So I see no reason why they wouldn't continue with the current government.
Unless there's any other questions --
Q Following up on Ruth's question, if you're saying that the differences at this point are not the sort of thing that could be resolved -- that could be advanced by the principals because they have to do with detailed, complex issues, does that mean that on the level of basic principle they've more or less agreed and it's a question of working out details? Or are they not at that point?
MR. GERGEN: I think there's been a general desire on both sides to reach an agreement, but on both sides -- I can only speak for the American side, I know that there's a very strong view that, as we've said repeatedly, a good agreement is better than a quick agreement. And it should not be guided by artificial deadlines.
Q But are the differences that remain at this point on the level of principle, or are they on the level of the detailed --
MR. GERGEN: I'm sorry, I'm not prepared to go into that. We've agreed from the beginning we wouldn't go into the negotiations themselves.
Can I just put to rest one other story that has been -- we've been asked about in the last several hours? Apparently, there's a story out of Washington that Secretary Aspin may be coming here to Seoul or on this trip to settle the issue about gays in the military -- those questions. And I just wanted to make sure you understand that is not going to be a subject for discussion between the President and Secretary Aspin. I don't know where that story is coming from. The Pentagon -- that has never been our -- the Secretary was coming here for quite different purposes.
Q They're coming from the Pentagon.
MR. GERGEN: Well, I don't know who it's coming from the Pentagon. It's a very large building. But that is not on, as I say.
Q Will he not have with him any material --
MR. GERGEN: Well, I can't guarantee what issues -- what materials he's going to have in his briefcase, but I can tell you that's not going to be a subject of discussion.
Q downer -- trip going well and you don't want it to --
MR. GERGEN: No. It's just that that's -- it's not something for -- it's always been understood that the Secretary would have a report ready for the President by the 15th of July. We look forward to receiving that report and at that point the President will deal with it.
Q to Hawaii? Would Secretary Aspin --
MR. GERGEN: No, I don't anticipate it. He'll be -- I think the next time the President will be looking at this issue is when he gets back to the mainland.
Q Was Aspin going to bring out the recommendations, but changed his mind?
MR. GERGEN: It has never been our understanding on this end.
Q Are you answering it from the White House --
MR. GERGEN: I'm just telling you I don't know where the story came from within the Pentagon source area, but that has never been our understanding. I talked to Les in San Francisco, I guess it was just before leaving. And it has never been an understanding that he would come here and discuss that.
Q never discuss -- I mean, the word would not --
MR. GERGEN: Discuss, negotiate -- yes -- consider, present, whatever verb you want to use, it's not going to happen.
Q Has the President or have you talked to the Secretary today?
MR. GERGEN: We've had discussions here. I've talked to the President about it.
Q No -- has the President or you talked to Secretary Aspin today?
MR. GERGEN: No, I've talked to people here. I have not talked to Secretary Aspin today. It was a rather --
Q Has the President talked to Secretary Aspin about the subject since he's been here?
MR. GERGEN: No. Why don't we move on. (Laughter.) No, I just thought -- I don't see any point in pursuing this. But Strobe is here to talk on background to give you an update on the rest of the session this afternoon. The President will be over shortly.
THE PRESS: Thank you.
END7:42 P.M. (L)