THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary (Naples, Italy)
BACKGROUND BRIEFING BY SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL
July 8, 1994
The Palazzo Reale Naples, Italy
8:06 P.M. (L)
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: The President and Prime Minister Major met for about 25 minutes, so they didn't cover too many subjects. The two main areas of discussion were Northern Ireland and Bosnia. The two leaders reviewed the state of play in respect to the negotiations on Northern Ireland, and I hope that we will receive soon a response and hopefully a positive response from Sinn Fein. They both share concerns about continued risks of further terrorist activity by the IRA.
On Bosnia, they reviewed the progress of the Contact Group. Both were encouraged by the news from the Bosnian government that both President Izetbegovic and Prime Minister Silajdzic are in favor of the Contact Group plan and will recommend to the Bosnian parliament, which will meet on the 19th of July, that the plan be accepted. They agreed that the task now is to maximize the pressure on the Serbs. There was a mutual appreciation of the role that Russia is playing in support of the Contact Group initiative, and the hope was expressed on both sides that President Yeltsin will join with the G-7 leaders here in giving further boost to the process and that he'll use his influence with the Serbs both in Belgrade and in Pole.
There was a discussion of the implications of the possible lifting of the arms embargo which is, of course, the last resort in the series of measures that were agreed by the foreign ministers in Geneva on July the 5th. And I expect that the two leaders will probably continue their discussion since they had to break for the dinner. But since they will be seeing a lot of each other over the weekend, these discussions will probably continue.
There was a brief discussion of Bosnia between Canadian Prime Minister Chretien and the President. Again, reviewing the prospects for the Contact Group initiative. But it was not a major subject in the meeting.
Q In the discussion with the Prime Minister, did Major express any qualms about lifting the embargo should it come to that because of the British peacekeepers in Bosnia?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: There wasn't a detailed discussion of that. I think that -- the question was whether Prime Minister Major expressed British reservations about lifting of the arms embargo and the consequences for British UNPROFOR troops.
The answer is that there wasn't a detailed discussion of that. It was implicit in the exchange, but they didn't get into a detailed discussion of that aspect. The President stressed that -- and Secretary Christopher, as well -- that this is a last resort, but that we need to muster all the means we have to put pressure on the Serbs to agree to the plan, particularly in light of the fact that the Bosnian government has expressed its support for the plan.
Q Could you describe for us the discussions with Chretien about Haiti? Was there agreement between the President and Chretien on the options?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: The question was regarding the discussions between Chretien and the President on Haiti.
There was a brief exchange, but it was largely the President explaining our current situation and the likelihood that Prime Minister Chretien would face lots of questions from the press on the subject as far as Canada's position, but they really didn't seek to coordinate positions on the subject.
Q Did you get any real sense of movement on the Sinn Fein front? Is there any anticipation of anything happening on that? Because we've been waiting for a positive response on Sinn Fein for a long time now.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: The question was whether there was any sense of positive expectations regarding the Sinn Fein response to the Anglo-Irish declaration.
The answer is, I didn't detect any optimism from the Prime Minister on this. We are certainly trying to do what we can to encourage a positive response. But, like the British, we're waiting, as well.
Q Does the point arrive at which the Adams visa was a mistake?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: The question was does the point arrive at which we conclude that the Adams Visa was a mistake. I would say that that point certainly has not arrived, and I think we'll leave the judgment to history as to whether that was a mistake.
Q Are you saying that Major agrees with the U.S. that the point now is to put maximum pressure on the Serbs, that the British are in favor of pressuring the Serbs?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: I would say -- the question was whether the British agree with us that the task now is to put maximum pressure on the Serbs. And I would say yes, there was agreement that the contact group initiative is really the -- is the only game in town. It is perhaps the most promising peace plan that has been developed in dealing with this terrible conflict over the last two years; that with the Bosnian government's acceptance, and with the consensus among the members of the contact group on the kinds of carrots and sticks that should go along with the offer that we have, perhaps the best chance for reaching agreement that we've ever had.
And notwithstanding British reservations about the lifting of the arms embargo I think they do agree that the task now is to concert all pressure on the Serbs.
Q Was there any discussion on the dollar, problems of the dollar, with either of the two prime ministers?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: The question is whether there was a discussion of problems of the dollar in either of the meetings and the answer is no.
THE PRESS: Thank you
END8:40 P.M. (L)