THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
PRESS BRIEFING BY DEE DEE MYERS
The Briefing Room
1:45 P.M. EDT
MS. MYERS: A couple of quick announcements. First, Special Advisor William Gray will be here at 4:00 p.m. this afternoon to talk in, I think, some detail about what's happening in Haiti. I apologize that he couldn't be here earlier, but he's out of town; he's been in Georgia today.
Q Is that on camera?
MS. MYERS: I believe it will be, yes.
Q What about the President?
MS. MYERS: The President? You will not see him until this evening. He doesn't have any scheduled appearances until the speech tonight at the State Department.
And a statement here also with reference to Haiti -- the United States Department of State has revoked all U.S. non-immigrant visas issued before May 11th, 1994 to Haitian nationals by the U.S. Embassy in Port-au-Prince or the U.S. Consulate General in Curacao. This revocation became effective at 12:01 a.m. Eastern Daylight Time on June 29th, 1994.
The stubborn refusal of Haiti's military leaders to permit the restoration of democracy and the return of President Aristide is the cause of this additional step. We believe the revocation of these visas will significantly increase pressure on the military, the illegal Jonassaint regime and their supporters. This action compliments the recent blocking of U.S. assets of all Haitian nationals resident in Haiti, the ban on financial transfers, and the ban on scheduled commercial passenger airline flights. It demonstrates in no uncertain terms that there is a real cost to Haitian's continued support for the military and its illegal government.
Air carriers and U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service have been notified that visas meeting the stated criteria are no longer valid.
Q How many people does this affect?
MS. MYERS: There are -- it's a little difficult to tell exactly how many people have been affected because the visas are issued for different periods of time. Generally, they're valid for about five years; that's the general period that they're valid for. And since 1989, there have been approximately 90,000 nonimmigrant visas primarily to Haitian passport holders issued in Port-au-Prince; and an additional 48,000 non-immigrant visas for all nationalities issued in Curacao. It is unclear how many of those were for Haitian nationals.
Q Practically speaking, how does one go about finding these people and throwing them out? Is that what happens here?
MS. MYERS: No, that's not what happens. For example, people who have non-immigrant visas here in the United States are let in for a period of time. They will not be expected to reapply. If they leave, they cannot come back. And people in Haiti now cannot go and apply for a non-immigrant visa. This does not apply to people who are applying for immigrant status.
Q They can stay -- they can try to stay. If they leave they cannot return, so they should stay?
MS. MYERS: They could try to stay. They could apply for an additional visa, or for immigrant status, for a green card. It does not apply to people who have green cards.
Q If you're already here, what it means is your visa will not be renewed.
MS. MYERS: You would have to go and get it renewed. But you don't have to get it renewed before the time that it expires.
Q? You can't get it renewed, right?
MS. MYERS: There are exceptions. Under special circumstances, you might be able to get it renewed. It's not meant to --
Q Can you give an example of a special circumstance?
MS. MYERS: I don't want to create one.
Q You're really tired, maybe, and you don't want to take the long trip back to Haiti? (Laughter.)
MS. MYERS: That's right. If you wanted to stay longer than the period for which your visa extended, you would have to apply.
Q You're a Major League ballplayer.
Q Dee Dee, are there any family members of either folks involved in the regime or supporters of the regime who will now be targeted and asked to leave?
MS. MYERS: Well, again, no, people who are here with valid visas will not be asked to leave. If they leave, they cannot come back.
Q No matter how close they are to the current regime, they may not be deported?
MS. MYERS: They will not be deported. But the objective is -- this is meant to be to target people who are close to the privileged class who have been supporting the de facto government, who have been supporting the military regime. It is a one more step cracking down and putting additional pressure on the military leaders to step aside.
Q Dee Dee -- how does this put pressure on the military to step aside?
MS. MYERS: Because it goes directly after their supporters.
Q And what do you expect these supporters now to do?
MS. MYERS: Well, they can't use their visas to come here, so that's one more step. And they can't go to the -- they no longer provide visas at the -- in Port-au-Prince who can't a get a visa there anymore since May, early in May. That's why this is --for visas which were received before May 11th.
Q Dee Dee, what kind of visas, again, are these exactly? Do they permit them multiple entry?
MS. MYERS: They're nonimmigrant visas. Normally they're good for a period of about five years. It does not apply to people who are applying for immigration status, green card holders, people like that.
Q So how were they used by the people that you want to target?
MS. MYERS: They're used to travel, to come to the United States. Some would be -- this include temporary workers, people who apply for temporary worker status. It would apply to some student visas.
Q So you cut their mobility.
MS. MYERS: You definitely cut their mobility. If you are here -- it does not apply to people who have resident status in the United States. If you are here for more than nine consecutive months -- for nine consecutive months more and you have a legal address, then you are eligible for resident status. It only applies -- so those people would be excluded.
Q Is Guantanamo now open?
MS. MYERS: It applies to people who have nonimmigrant visas who do not have resident status in the United States.
Q How was the May 11th date arrived at?
MS. MYERS: Because they stopped issuing visas at the Consulate General in Curacao earlier this year. And, for reasons unrelated to this, and they stopped issuing visas at the embassy in Port-au-Prince in early May, related to developments there.
Q So if the elite want to shop, they've got to go to Paris, is that what this means?
MS. MYERS: That would be one option. Coming to Miami would not be an option.
Q Are we asking other countries to follow our example? It seems to me if we're the only ones doing this, these privileged class members in Haiti could still go to Switzerland and France, Britain, Canada. So what is the big deal?
MS. MYERS: We would certainly welcome it from other countries. But many of these people did take regular trips to the United States. They did shopping here. They had other contacts here. That is no longer possible. And we're going to continue to tighten pressure.
Q They can shop everywhere else --
MS. MYERS: Well, it's getting more and more difficult, Leo, and we're going to continue to make it more and more difficult. Almost all air carriers have stopped flying in and out of Haiti. We're in discussions with the French government asking them to -- asking Air France to suspend its flights. We're hopeful that they will do that.
Q Are we doing anything, for instance, through the OAS to clamp down on a hemispheric basis in the same way you're doing unilaterally?
MS. MYERS: We have been working with the OAS, working with other countries to -- well, for example, we worked through the OAS to get other countries to stop their scheduled commercial airline flights, to disallow transfer of assets, things like that, and we will continue to do that. We're working with our allies in the region as well as the international community to continue to put pressure on the Haitian government -- the de facto Haitian government.
Q Has any of the borne fruit? In other words, have other countries in the hemisphere stopped commercial flights?
MS. MYERS: Yes. Yes, they have.
MS. MYERS: Argentina -- there were only a few -- I'm not sure I have the list in front of me. Calvin, do you have it? We'll post it. I announced what it was a couple days ago. I'll post it, because I don't have it in front of me. But I think there were about four or five countries that had regular scheduled flights. Most of those flights have been suspended.
Q What's the latest update on the Dominican Republic? Are the cooperating with the U.S. and the sanctions at all?
MS. MYERS: They are cooperating. We sent an 11-person assessment team down there. I think we're looking at ways to implement their recommendations. Enforcement of the border by day has been going pretty well; there are still problems at night, and we're working on tightening that border. But there has been progress.
Q Can you specify what problems? The petroleum going over the border still?
MS. MYERS: Yes, I think that there's been leakage, particularly at night. A lot of the problems have been corrected during the day. But again, there are more problems at night than there are during the day.
Q Dee Dee, could you explain the rationale behind this cranking it up and cranking it up slowly, it seems, with these steps. Why did the White House or the U.S. government not decide to do a lot of this at one time? In other words, not to sort of --
MS. MYERS: Well, I think we decided to do the great bulk of it at one time, which was the total ban on commercial contact with Haiti, which was a U.N. decision and certainly extended beyond the United States. Since then, we've said we will continue to look for ways to gradually increase pressure on the de facto Haitian regime to continue to target both members of the military and their supporters, and to make clear that we expect the military regime to step aside and allow for the return of President Aristide and the restoration of democracy. We will continue to do that.
Q So you're devising them as you go along.
MS. MYERS: We are gradually increasing pressure through steps that we --
Q Why not do it all at once?
MS. MYERS: We did the major thing to begin with, and we will continue to tighten pressure.
Q Is there something about the gradualism that's part of the deal, that has some strategic value and, if so, what?
MS. MYERS: It sends a continuing signal that we are firm in our resolve and that we will continue to turn up the pressure until the de facto regime and the military steps aside. And the message is that we're not going to just turn our backs. We're not going to ignore this and let it slip away; that we are going to continue to turn up the pressure; that we haven't forgotten about this.
Q? The implication seems to be there are more things you could do that you may do.
MS. MYERS: There may very well be.
Q Short of military, do you have further steps?
MS. MYERS: I think certainly there are other things we can do. Whether or not we will, I think we're still investigating that.
Q Why would you not do them?
MS. MYERS: Well, if the military steps aside, for example, we wouldn't do them.
Q We understand that. But I mean, why would you not do them, assuming that --
MS. MYERS: The determination is based on how effective they would be -- our view of how effective they would be as the situation moves forward.
Q Every time you come forward with these, you always say, this is going to put all kinds of pressure on. And if nothing happens, then you're really going to put pressure on them.
MS. MYERS: That's not true. That's not true. I think --
Q And then you're really, really going to put pressure on.
MS. MYERS: No, I think it's more like we are sending a continuing signal to the military, to the de facto government that we will continue to turn up the heat until the military steps aside. And there has been increased pressure, and there is evidence that it is having an effect. And we will continue to turn up the heat until the military leaders step aside.
Q QWhat evidence do you have?
MS. MYERS: There have just been anecdotal evidence, things that we have seen. I think there's beginning to be some pressure put on the military by some of the business leaders, some of the people that supported them. We expect that that will continue.
Q What do you make of the declining fuel prices? How does that fit into your evidence?
MS. MYERS: Well, we are going to do all we can to tighten up the Dominican border. As I said, there continue to be some problems there, particularly at night. But there are -- I think largely that's where it's been coming from all along.
Q Dee Dee, what I don't understand is, is there a plan that the U.S. government has worked out which has all of these steps in it? In other words, you say, okay if it doesn't work by x date, we'll have another one. Or is it that it's an ad hoc plan, that you make it up as you go along. This doesn't work and then you look around for another step.
MS. MYERS: It's not that this doesn't work, this has worked. Increasing sanctions has put additional pressure on the de facto government and on the military leaders. And what we've pledged to do is to continue to turn up the heat. So as we see ways to continue to tighten, to impose additional sanctions, then we've taken advantage of those opportunities. And we may continue to add additional steps as we see fit, as we think it will be useful.
Q But they're not necessarily worked out already in advance.
MS. MYERS: There isn't a plan that says, on August 1st we're going to do x, and on July 31st, we're going to do y. Rather, we're responding to the situation as it unfolds on the ground.
Q Have you got any late information on the refugee flow from Haiti that you can share with us?
MS. MYERS: I can give you the numbers from yesterday. The situation in Guantanamo -- and I think Mr. Gray can talk in some more detail about this -- the situation in Guantanamo is that the facility there has been opened and will begin, I think, accepting refugees. Let me give you the numbers from yesterday on --
Q Dee Dee, is there running water there now in Guantanamo -- toilets, et cetera?
MS. MYERS: There has been. I think there are 3,000 people there now who have been doing a number of things, including the secondary interviews for the refugees who have been preliminarily accepted. And so, I didn't ask the question specifically, but I assume there's water since there have been people there for a couple of weeks now.
Q You say 3,000 people -- 3,000 Haitians?
MS. MYERS: No, no, 3,000, I think, DOD and other personnel who are there constructing facilities and INS personnel who are doing the processing.
Yesterday the Coast Guard picked up 755 Haitians in 33 boats, and that brings the total number of Haitians picked up since the reprocessing facility on the Comfort began on June 15th to roughly 3,000.
MS. MYERS: Yes.
Q Do we think that the facility at Guantanamo is going to fill up? I mean, do you perceive that happening?
MS. MYERS: Well, it has a capacity now of about 4,000. I think there are only a couple hundred people there now who are going through -- a couple hundred Haitian refugees going through that secondary processing. It can -- the capacity there will be quickly expanded to about 12,000. And I think we'll have to see how things go. Again, there is a capacity of about 1,000 on the Comfort and there's a second Ukrainian ship there -- we're in the process of switching out those ships -- which provides additional capacity. We expect Turks and Caicos to open the first week of July and we're moving quickly toward that. And as Ambassador Gray said yesterday, we're looking at the possibility of opening other on-land facilities in other countries in the region.
Q Doesn't all of that increase the likelihood of more boat people?
MS. MYERS: Well, we are making a concerted effort to make it clear that the safest, best way to apply for refugee status is to do it at one of the three in-country processing facilities. The acceptance rate is roughly the same for both the boats and for the in-country centers. It avoids people having to take a perilous journey at sea. And we're going to continue people to stay incountry.
Q But isn't the practical effect that you're giving them an option? In some ways you're making it easier for people to flee because you're saying there's a place in Guantanamo.
MS. MYERS: It's a place in Guantanamo where we will process refugees. If they don't qualify they'll be sent back to Haiti. So it doesn't change the standards in any way, it doesn't make it any easier. In fact, there's been a slightly rate of acceptance at the in-country processing centers in recent weeks than there has been on the USS Comfort or on the other ship in Jamaica.
I think we'll continue to make the point that the safest way to apply for refugee status is in-country. At the same time, we'll continue to prepare for additional refugees at sea. We always had the -- the Guantanamo facilities were always available as an overflow facility. We're now putting that into action.
Q Actually, one last thing. What are the numbers?
Q How can that ever be effective if Aristide --
MS. MYERS: What are the numbers?
Q Yes, what are the numbers of people who have been approved?
MS. MYERS: I can give you the -- I don't have the incountry numbers. I can give you the numbers of the total people that have been approved. Hang on, I think I have that -- 697 Haitians -- this is refugee processing on the Comfort -- 697 Haitians have completed reprocessing; 211 have been approved for refugee status; 486 have been denied. So that's about a 30-percent approval rate. One hundred sixty-one refugees have been flown to Guantanamo for final resettlement processing. And most of those denied refugee status 426 of the 486 have already been repatriated, returned to Port-au-Prince.
Q When they're given permission to stay, is it just conditional? Can they stay while the military regime is in power and then they have to go back, or is this permanent acceptance to stay here?
MS. MYERS: Once they are approved for refugee status, I think they become -- they go to the INS. I can take that question, but you can also call them. I'm not sure how the process works.
Q Before you made these ship movement, the ship processing -- the percentage for approval for refugee status was cited to us as five to seven percent. In this case, you have a 30- percent approval rating on these ships. Why should Haitians not think their chances are --
MS. MYERS: Before March the acceptance rate at the incountry processing centers was five to six percent. It went up subsequently, and in the last couple of weeks it has been actually over 30 percent.
Q Well, why, if your status hasn't changed?
MS. MYERS: Their status hasn't changed -- because we've been working with humanitarian groups, with nongovernment organizations there on the ground in Haiti who have been, I think, reaching out to people who have potential refugee status and helping us identify those who meet the criteria.
Q How can you meet a criteria --
Q You're actually soliciting?
Q You're recruiting. Uncle Sam wants you -- Uncle Bill.
Q Why wouldn't those people go in-country if they're already coordinated? Why would they go on a ship --
MS. MYERS: Why? Because I think they may not have all the information that they need to make that decision. And we are trying to provide it with them, to say that if you go to the incountry processing centers, your chances for receiving refugee status are as good as if you take a risky journey in a perhaps non-seaworthy boat.
Q Well, I've heard that. I'm just trying to understand what you said, though. You said that some of these people are being sort of recruited, and yet they're showing up on the ships. Why aren't they going to the in-country centers if they're being sort of coordinated or recruited?
MS. MYERS: First of all, I don't mean to suggest they're being recruited. I think these -- generally, these organizations work with refugees on the ground and I think do give them advice about whether or not they're eligible for status. I think that perhaps the nongovernment organizations, the humanitarian groups, don't reach everybody. And, again, I think people don't have all the information that they need to make those decisions. They need to know that their best chances is in-country processing center.
Q Walk me through the practical effect of what you're announcing today. If, in fact, all the exits have been closed already by the cancellation of commercial flights, what's the practical effect of revoking visas if they're already trapped?
MS. MYERS: Oh, well, they're not trapped. They can still go travel by means to a third country, for example. Commercial flights between third countries and the U.S. aren't banned.
Q So there are still some commercial flights going out?
MS. MYERS: There are still some commercial flights. And I would assume that there is boat traffic to other countries. I don't know. Passenger --
Q Well, they could take their own yachts and come to Miami --
MS. MYERS: Sure. Sure. I don't think -- the country is not sealed.
Q What about the embargo, wouldn't that--
MS. MYERS: It's a trade embargo. I don't --
Q Not a people embargo.
MS. MYERS: No.
Q Back to this issue again of the 30 percent. Is it wrong -- looking at these numbers and what you've since said, one's conclusion is because human rights organizations have been involved in monitoring the process on the ships and not so much on the ground; that, in fact, what the opponents of not letting these people leave - - in fact, what happened is that you were not letting people in legitimately before the human rights groups got involved, and now --
MS. MYERS: No, we're --
Q and now they're pushing you into doing this?
MS. MYERS: No, I don't think that's it at all. I think that perhaps people who had legitimate claims for refugee status weren't applying.
Q Well, and we don't know what the percentage is on the ground.
MS. MYERS: I think we do -- I can -- we do know; I just don't have the numbers with me.
Q You think it's at the 30 percent --
MS. MYERS: Yes, I think it's roughly the same over the course of the last several weeks. That hasn't been true throughout the process, but it is true now. And I will get and post what the most recent figures we have over the course of the last couple weeks.
Q What were the factors that led to the decision to reopen Guantanamo? And why wasn't Clinton involved in the meetings? And was William Gray in the meeting last night when the decision was reached?
MS. MYERS: Bill Gray was involved in the meetings. The President was certainly --
Q He went to Georgia today?
MS. MYERS: I believe so, yes. He was there. He's flying back this afternoon. He gets back to Washington around 3:00 p.m.
Q What was on the Hill yesterday?
MS. MYERS: He was testifying on the Hill yesterday at 2:00 p.m. But he was -- yes, he was in Washington. He was certainly here in the morning, and I believe in the afternoon as well.
The President was certainly briefed on this and made the decision himself last night. What was the other part of your question?
Q What were the factors?
Q Why did you decide to reopen Guantanamo?
MS. MYERS: To provide the additional capacity we thought would be necessary to process refugees. And I would just like to repeat that Gray will be here this afternoon and can answer some more of these questions.
Q And you are preparing for 12,000 more?
MS. MYERS: That's the capacity at Guantanamo. That will be the capacity. It's at 4,000 now, can be expanded to 12,000.
Q Just another point of clarification. You see these NGOs and other humanitarian groups are identifying people. Do you mean then they they're identifying people in Haiti, encouraging them to jump on boats so that they will be processed?
MS. MYERS: No. Au contraire. They are working with people on the ground, as is their function, in Port-au-Prince, in the vicinity of the other two in-country processing centers throughout the country. But one of the things that they have been able to do is help people who have legitimate claims to refugee status go forward and make an application.
Q In --
MS. MYERS: In Haiti. They are not encouraging -- to the best of my knowledge, they are not encouraging people to take to the sea.
Q That's why the rate had increased on the people at sea. You said their counseling had actually led people --
MS. MYERS: No, no, no. I'm sorry, I must have misunderstood the question. I thought you said why had the acceptance rate at the in-country centers increased.
MS. MYERS: Oh, I'm sorry. I misunderstood the question.
Q The only increase we -- you've given us is the ones on the ship. That's a 30 percent increase.
MS. MYERS: No, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no. No, no, no, no, no.
Q You said in-country.
Q Let's rewind the tape.
MS. MYERS: Let me go back and be clear. I'm glad you --
Q gave this number from the Comfort.
MS. MYERS: I gave you numbers -- the only numbers I have given you are with reference to the Comfort. The point that I was trying to make was that the -- the reason that I keep repeating that it's the best way to apply for refugee is status is through the in-country processing centers is that the acceptance rate at those in-country centers is about the same as it has been on the Comfort. The reason that -- because you had asked why did it go from five or six percent to 30-ish percent -- and the reason is because there are these nongovernmental organizations, humanitarian groups and others who are -- who have been working with people on the ground, have been telling people who have legitimate claim into refugee status that they should go apply. That is why there's been an increase in the acceptance rate at the in-country processing centers. And it is now equal to what we're seeing out on the Comfort and at the other ship.
Q What's the arrangement for people who are granted refugee status in Haiti to take them out of the country, especially now that the commercial flights have been canceled? And how long does this take?
MS. MYERS: I don't know the answer to that.
Q Yesterday there was a report, I think it was on ABC, showing that some people who have been granted refugee status by your in-country centers have been attacked by --
MS. MYERS: I saw that report.
Q I mean, it's understandable that these people would prefer to apply in Jamaica or wherever, than to apply in Haiti. It's a bit like committing suicide or at least asking for trouble.
MS. MYERS: Well, I don't think that's true. I think that there are people there who seek to protect people who have applied for refugee status. And we do try to monitor that through the embassy and other organizations. I will take the question of how people who are screened and deemed ready for refugee status are taken out of the country. I don't know the answer to that.
Q How do you expect to convince them to apply to incountry processing centers when they people are attacked regularly?
MS. MYERS: My point is that they're not attacked regularly, that we have been monitoring that and doing what we can to prevent it.
Q You're monitoring what happens to them, but you cannot protect them.
MS. MYERS: But we haven't seen an increase in the violence toward people who apply for refugee status. So let me take the question as to how they are transported out of the country. I'm sure Bill Gray will be able to answer that this afternoon, if I don't get an answer back to you before that.
Q Two questions about the increase in the acceptance rate. For of all, the shipboard processing centers appears to be encouraging Haitians to take to sea in even less seaworthy boats because they get picked up rather than having to make at least the pretense of trying to make it to the United States. Second, it took a year for the facility in Guantanamo Bay to reach its limit under the Bush administration. At the current rate, we're going to get there in a month in a half. Aside from the Turks and Caicos, do you have any firm commitments of other places to house Haitian refugees?
MS. MYERS: We're continuing, to answer the last part of your question first, we're continuing to work with other countries and discuss those options. We have nothing to announce at this time.
I'm not going to predict what the refugee flow will be out of Haiti. We will do what we can to be prepared and to be able to process the refugees that we do find. There is some evidence that people are taking to sea in unseaworthy boats. That was always the case. We're doing what we can to discourage people from taking to the sea at all, which is why I've emphasizing today, and I think others have, that the best thing for them to do is use the in-country processing facilities. Meanwhile, we will do what we can to be prepared for whatever refugees we are interdicting at sea, including, as we announced today, opening Guantanamo.
Q If I could try one more thing -- Greg's point --you don't have Aristide. Aristide is still refusing to suggest to people not to take to the sea.
MS. MYERS: Correct, but through our embassy, we're broadcasting radio programs of our own that try to make the point that they ought to be using the in-country processing centers. So we're doing what we can on that front. We're working with Father Aristide on the broadcast. That's something that we'll work out mutually between him and between the U.S. government.
Q What broadcasts are those?
MS. MYERS: They're radio shows that are produced through the U.S. Embassy there and aired in Haiti.
Q Let me ask about the President's population and control policies --
Q What about the --
MS. MYERS: That will be Aristide. These are produced by the U.S. Embassy. Two different things. One, though, does contain the message that people ought not to take to the boats and the seas, which is my point.
Q The other still will not, or that's an open question?
MS. MYERS: Aristide's will not. That will not be part of his broadcast.
Q What's he going to say?
Q Can you tell me about the President's speech tonight --
Q Population control.
MS. MYERS: Population control.
Q In May, Sandy Berger said that there were no plans to reopen Guantanamo. Did the administration not anticipate this flood of refugees when they changed the rules on --
MS. MYERS: Well, I think we knew that Guantanamo would be available if we needed to have additional space. We're moving forward with Turks and Caicos and still talking to other countries in the region. So I think we're doing what we can and what we need to do to deal with the number of refugees that we're getting. So, I mean, we had no immediate plans at that point to open Guantanamo, but it was always an option.
Let's move on to population. Tonight at 8:45 p.m., the President will address -- it's called the Forum on Population Issues for the 21st Century, which is the Turner Foundation, the National Academy of Sciences and the Kennedy School of Government are sponsoring this event.
Q Jane Fonda's Ted Turner?
MS. MYERS: It is Wolf's and Jill's Ted Turner. It is a group of opinion leaders, international scientists, policymakers and business leaders. And the President's speech will focus on three principles which underlie our approach on population, which are the importance of families, the need to encourage responsible behavior, and our commitment to human rights.
There are three major policy goals, as well, which the President will talk about, which are fulfilling the need for universally available family planning services, empowering women and providing comprehensive health care services, especially for women and children.
Q Can I ask one more about tonight? Doesn't the President have a reception for diplomats here?
MS. MYERS: He does. He makes this speech after that. This is not until 8:45 p.m., it's at the end of dinner.
Q So he will spend some time mingling with the diplomats?
MS. MYERS: Sure. Of course.
Q Will he, or has he addressed the question that was raised -- I know he stated his own principles, but in April he was asked about the draft for the population control conference in Cairo, and he said he didn't know anything about it and he would look into it. And I don't think he's actually formally responded to that question yet. Is there some way of updating where he stands on that draft, and how that draft is going to represent the country's views?
MS. MYERS: Well, we're --
Q In Rome --
Q He did that in Rome. (Laughter.)
MS. MYERS: We did that, yes, as Ann reminds the audience -- we did talk about that in Rome. We are continuing to work on and to consult on the draft.
Q his views and what he wants and so forth. Has the draft actually been changed?
MS. MYERS: The draft is in process. It continues to -- changes are being made throughout. But I think those -- we talked a little bit about it in Rome. I think the President talked about his principles in population growth, which is, again, what he will address tonight.
Q And this speech isn't open?
MS. MYERS: It's pool. The conference itself is closed. The speech will be open to the pool. The remarks will be piped back here for anybody that wants to hear them.
Q What is the President's reaction to the selection of a new Prime Minister in Japan? Have the two leaders spoken? And what might be the prospects now for agreeing to get the framework talks back on track?
MS. MYERS: Obviously, the President -- we welcome the election of a new Prime Minister in Japan by the Diet. We look forward to working with the Japanese government. The President will meet with the new Prime Minister at Naples on July 8th; he looks forward to that. And we will continue to work toward resolution of trade issues and other bilateral and regional issues that have led to a sound relationship between the two countries. The President has not spoken to him yet; I assume he will sometime in the next couple of days.
Q Are we going to broaden and deepen our trade relationship?
MS. MYERS: We are -- we're going to broaden and deepen and have full, frank and fair dialogue.
Q? Do you hear anything from Secretary Espy about his future employment plans in the administration?
MS. MYERS: Nothing. I've heard that rumor, but the Secretary is in Washington, I think, shipping the first batch of Washington apples to China. And he continues in his capacity with the President's full confidence.
Q What rumors have you heard about him?
MS. MYERS: You guys are perpetuating them. I just have had a few phone calls from the nation's press corps.
Q Dee Dee, speaking of rumors, Liz Smith says that the President is going to be vacationing in the Hamptons this August. What do you know about that?
MS. MYERS: I wish I could be more specific about vacation plans. I think he plans to take one. (Laughter.)
Q There are people going out and putting money down on real estate in various places and it gets pricey. Any good information would be --
Q He's going to the Turks and Caicos. (Laughter.)
Q Martha's Vineyard -- he wouldn't do that yet?
MS. MYERS: I wouldn't steer you away from that, but I don't think they've made a final decision.
Q Dee Dee, speaking of vacations, is he going to come back for the 4th?
MS. MYERS: I don't think he has any -- I don't know exactly when they plan to return. He plans to take the weekend off and will not make any public appearances.
Q Is he going to Camp David?
MS. MYERS: He's supposed to go to Camp David.
Q You don't know if he'll come back for the fireworks?
MS. MYERS: I don't. He wasn't here last year; we were in Iowa.
Q? What guests is he having at Camp David, Dee Dee? (Laughter.)
MS. MYERS: I will not comment on the roster at Camp David ever again.
Q considering he's going to Camp David --
MS. MYERS: We'll have to wait and see.
Q No Monday appearances?
Q? This is a follow-up on a question you got yesterday, and I wanted to see if you've gotten a chance to get any reaction from the President or anyone on it -- that Mayor Daley had a very heavy hit against the Clinton health plans yesterday, and said he was spending too much time on health and was preoccupied with it and that universal coverage wasn't worth it.
MS. MYERS: I answered that, I think, yesterday. I'm happy to answer it again.
Q Yesterday you said Clinton wasn't apprised of it.
MS. MYERS: No, I said I didn't know if he'd been apprised of it. I actually still don't know the answer. He won't have any specific response. I think the administration's response is that the President has worked very hard on health care and a number of other issues, including the crime bill, welfare reform, the economy, creating jobs, foreign policy. He'll continue to do that. Mayor Daley is entitled to his view.
Q? Do we know when the President is going to Camp David and who he's taking with him?
Q Asked and answered. Objection -- asked and answered.
MS. MYERS: He will probably leave -- I'm not sure exactly when he's leaving. He's going for the entire weekend. The plan now is to pre-tape the radio address on Friday. So he will not do that live.
Q By the entire weekend, you mean through Monday?
MS. MYERS: I mean he has no public schedule through Monday, and I don't know when he's leaving or when he's planning to return. He is planning to go to Camp David, which I think --
Q No appearances Monday?
MS. MYERS: None scheduled as of right now. Today's Wednesday, right? There's been an event added tomorrow, which is the President, the First Lady and Erskine Bowles will meet several hundred small business leaders on the South Lawn. These are business leaders who have endorsed the health care plan; there's a coalition of small businesses who support universal care.
Q They were in town?
MS. MYERS: They just happen to be here -- several hundred of them. At 10:00 a.m., South Lawn.
Q Is it closed?
MS. MYERS: Yes, it's closed. (Laughter.)
Q have anything on Arafat, about the Gaza or --
MS. MYERS: I don't have anything for you on that.
Q A poll question -- a CNN poll shows that 47 percent of the people disapprove of the way the President is handling running the presidency, and more than 50 percent disapprove of the way he's handling health care. Any reason for that, any explanation for that?
MS. MYERS: Well, I think differing polls will give you differing views. We don't put too much stock in any one particular poll at any one time.
Would you guys either pay attention, or leave? (Laughter.)
THE PRESS: Thank you. (Laughter.)
END 2:20 P.M. EDT