THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT AND PRIME MINISTER BRUNDTLAND OF NORWAY IN PHOTO OPPORTUNITY
The Oval Office
10:07 A.M. EDT
Q Mr. President, the Federal Reserve seems likely to increase interest rates today. How is that going to affect economic growth and your calculations for deficit reduction if you have to spend more to service a $4 trillion debt?
THE PRESIDENT: Well, first of all, if it happens, it will be because we have growth. I mean, now let's get the fundamental facts out here. We have more jobs, lower inflation, and a lower deficit and expectations for high growth this year -- good growth.
And so -- I make it a practice generally not to comment on what the Fed does. There is clearly some room for short-term interest rates over the rate of inflation that won't slow down our economic growth. And I have every confidence that we're still going to have another good year this year, and that we will be able to offset any modest increase in interest rates with increased growth. And so far -- I talked to Mr. Panetta yesterday -- we're well within our projections on deficit reduction.
Q Mr. President, have you ruled out the possibility of sanctions against Norway because of whaling?
THE PRESIDENT: We are working on this whaling issue. You know, the United States has taken a position opposed to commercial whaling, and we're working through this with Norway. The Vice President and I had a conversation about it this morning. We are working through the issue, and we feel comfortable about what we're doing. We think we're doing the right thing.
Q environmental groups say you --
THE PRESIDENT: Some environmental groups do. The most mainstream environmental groups have not joined these rather extreme claims that have been made against our country. Give us a chance to work through this. I think we'll come out in the right place.
Q Madam Prime Minister, do you agree with the Commerce Department's opinion that your country's resumption of whaling goes against efforts to save the whale, so to speak?
PRIME MINISTER BRUNDTLAND: No, I certainly don't. We would never have a policy which is not in accordance with international law. We would never have a policy which is not longterm sustainable development -- not on this issue, not on any other.
Q whaling, Mr. President?
THE PRESIDENT: We are working -- we'll work through that. I have confidence that we will be able to work through it.
Q Mr. President, in that letter to Congress last October, you said that you're going to work with Norway to create an inspection regime for commercial whaling within scientific limits. Is that still the U.S. position.
THE PRESIDENT: What were you going to say, Mr. Vice President?
THE VICE PRESIDENT: I was going to say, we're opposed to commercial whaling. We have always been committed to good, sound science. And as the President said, we're working with Norway to work through this issue. We're opposed to commercial whaling. We hope that we'll also, incidentally, be able to establish a sanctuary in Antarctica. We hope Norway will support that. But we're just going to work through the issue.
Q Are you going to visit Norway, Mr. President?
THE PRESIDENT: I hope I'll be able to go back. I went to Norway once when I was a young man. I loved it. I'd love to be able to go back someday. One of the best trips I ever made in my life.
THE PRESS: Thank you.
END10:12 A.M. EDT