THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
BACKGROUND BRIEFING BY SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIALS ON AUSTRALIAN BILATERAL
November 14, 1994
Ambassador's Residence Jakarta, Indonesia
2:25 P.M. (L)
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: There's not a lot to talk about, actually, on this one. It was a lunch, and so the conversation was quite wide-ranging and less sort of structured than the conversations with the Chinese and the Japanese. They touched on, during the course of it, Northeast Asian security and talked about the Korean deal. They talked about Northeast Asian security generally. The President expressed appreciation for Australia's contribution in Haiti. They talked about Iraq briefly.
But the main part of the conversation was about APEC and the upcoming meetings. The President expressed his appreciation for the leading role that Keating has played. He's been very, very much engaged in all of this, and he's been working quite closely with President Soeharto.
Keating, in turn, expressed appreciation for the role the President's playing, especially in the Summit in Seattle, and they both were very, very supportive of what President Soeharto has been doing.
And perhaps the best thing is if I ask my colleague to tell you where we are now in general terms on APEC.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: I think that there were really two pieces of the conversation that are worth talking about. One is the sense of both the President and the Prime Minister of the importance of the event, and the second was where they both are and want to be.
The President, I think, said it best when he said that there were a few people among the leaders who had more of a reason not to want to come; that he had, after all, been in the Middle East, he had been on the campaign trail, this is a long way away from home, but that he regarded this -- what he said was sometimes the things that you do when you don't want to do them are more important than the things you do when you do want to do them, and that he regarded the doing of this of enormous importance, and that it was bringing together, or it was posing the possibility of having in the end a world that would be a multilateral trading and economic -- one multilateral trading and economic bloc in a sense, but as a world rather than one divided into blocs.
What they both want is --
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: That is one reason why, in our view, the approval of the GATT agreement is so important, because we don't want to see a world in which you have a success in the hemispheric summit and as a boost towards regional trade arrangements in the Western Hemisphere and then a success of APEC, and free and open trade over time in Asia, and, in effect, the development of three large trading systems. And that's why GATT is so important as to put them all in the context of the global trading regime.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Where they both want to be is to support Soeharto in his efforts to get a declaration that would emerge in a consensus from all of the leaders that would agree to free and open trade by a date certain, probably 2020, with the possibility of an earlier date among developed nations should they wish it.
What is important at this point, I think they both agreed, was to come out of this with a clear -- with a political direction that would then allow a blueprint to be built around it next year. And I guess what both of them felt is that this organization, which wasn't an organization two years ago, or this effort, has come a long way, beginning with Seattle, and that they felt that it was extremely important that President Soeharto's efforts be supported tonight and then throughout tomorrow.
Q Are the Australians still upset about our agricultural subsidies?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: It didn't come up.
Q Do you have anything to add to the proposal?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: No. To reinforce what my colleague said, I think the importance coming out of here of a common direction, and a commitment to a target date for achieving free and open trade is something that they both feel very strongly about.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: No final decision's made -- as we've been saying. Seriously. It's possible, no announcements yet.
Q On the Korea meeting, can you give us a little bit about what the President hopes to talk about there?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: As in the first two meetings of the day, obviously, overwhelmingly, the main attention will be on the -- now on implementing -- one, on implementing the agreement that we reached with the North Koreans; and two, discussing our interests in helping to get the South-North dialogue going. So the President also will be reaffirming our security commitment to South Korea, and I think those will be the main things.
I'll give you a readout right afterwards.
Q You might have answered this before I came out, but did Prime Minister Keating refer in any way to the elections in the U.S.?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: No, there was some -- when two practicing politicians get together -- I've seen a lot of these meetings -- they talk about each of their own politics, and they each did discuss both politics in the United States and politics in Australia and compared notes.
Q What did the President say?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Since I am so nonpolitical, I don't even take notes on political discussions. I just can't remember, Rita, what they talked about. (Laughter.)
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: I absolutely agree with him. (Laughter.)
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: -- my colleague didn't either, especially when I took his pencil away. (Laughter.)
Q Was there any teasing about this or --
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: No, and it wasn't in the context as with the Japanese of reassurances about continuity. I think that went without saying. It was just sort of talking about politics.
I found it very interesting, but I didn't understand it. I understood the Australian part of it, I just didn't understand the American part. (Laughter.)
END 2:33 P.M. (L)