THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
PRESS BRIEFING BY AMBASSADOR MONDALE, DEPUTY ASSISTANT TO THE PRESIDENT FOR ECONOMIC POLICY, BO CUTTER AND SENIOR DIRECTOR FOR ASIAN AFFAIRS, STANLEY ROTH The Briefing Room
2:45 P.M. EST
MR. MCCURRY: Good afternoon everybody. I've asked Ambassador Mondale to come down to give you a little more and a very brief readout on anything additional that you would like to have beyond what the President and the Prime Minister have just covered in their press conference. I also have with us Bo Cutter, who is -- I'm getting my titles right around here -- Deputy Assistant to the President for Economic Policy, and Stanley Roth -- I blanked on NSC, that shows you what a State Department guy I am. Stanley Roth, he is the Senior Director for Asian Affairs at the NSC.
I think Ambassador Mondale will probably handle most of it. In case there's anything that the two of you want to add in, just jump up. Go ahead, Mr. Ambassador.
AMBASSADOR MONDALE: I understand we have just a few moments, so maybe -- minutes -- so I could just touch the high points and then we'll respond to questions.
One of the areas discussed was security. The Mutual Security Treaty between Japan and the United States was reaffirmed. The government of Japan has recently agreed to extend the host nation support system, which is a very important system of financial support for our forces there. And that was reaffirmed, and further efforts are being made to develop and strengthen that relationship.
One of the most important new questions to be dealt with in our relationship is the North Korean agreement. And here the government of Japan has strongly affirmed its support for the agreement reached with North Korea. We are in the process of working out the details, setting up a special institution called KEDO, and working on the different elements of its implementation.
The Prime Minister said in his remarks, he will say when he visits the Hill in about an hour, that the government of Japan strongly supports this agreement. And this issue took up quite a bit of discussion. And I think we made a good deal of progress.
On trade, there have been about eight agreements this past year, which the President made reference. And the biggest remaining issue is in the auto sector negotiations to commence later this month. That makes up 60 percent of the trade deficit. So we have two items that we discussed. One is the implementation and the enforcement of those agreements that have been reached and the importance of moving forward in the auto sector.
Japan hosts next year's leaders' meeting of the APEC organization. This will be the third meeting -- first in Seattle, second in Jakarta, third in Osaka. As chair of that conference, Japan will be in charge of developing the blueprint to implement the broad principles reached in Jakarta. And we discussed many of the details as we move forward in preparation for that meeting.
The common agenda received a good deal of attention of not only the President, but the Vice President spoke on that matter. As you know, this deals with education, with science, with the environment, with AIDS. We added another element called women in development to try to help add funds and efforts to work with women in developing nations. That program is coming along very, very well and has added momentum as a result of this meeting.
The final point, which is new, is trying to do something about the imbalance in student numbers in the United States and Japan. About 45,000 American students in Japan; only about -- we're not sure -- somewhere between 1,400 and 1,600 American students in -- U.S. students in Japan. And we're hoping to do something about that. And the President proposed that each side set -- put someone in place, work out new plans to improve the number of Americans -- increase the number of American students in Japan, hopefully with some developments by the time we meet in November.
Q Mr. Ambassador, did they discuss at all the possibility that there might be some concerns on the Hill about the North Korean agreement, and that the new Republican majority may not be enthusiastic about it.
AMBASSADOR MONDALE: Yes, that came up. The President expressed optimism. There's been a number of discussions on the Hill, I've had some myself the last couple days. There's work to be done, there's certainly going to be hearings held, and so on. But I think the initial reception has been one in which questions have been raised, but we're hopeful that we will be successful in gaining their support. And I think the Prime Minister's clearest public statement of the support of Japan, and how Japan sees it, along with that of South Korea and China, I think shows that those most involved -- closest to that problem, unanimously support this agreement.
Q Do you think that the resolution of the Bobby Hall situation was a positive sign for a bigger picture, or do you see that as totally disconnected?
AMBASSADOR MONDALE: I don't see it as totally disconnected, but it's -- fortunately he was released. I wish he had been released much earlier. But I don't think, at least from the discussions I have had, that that will have a bearing on the decision made on the implementation of the North Korean deal.
Q The North Koreans -- did the Japanese suggest how much they were willing to contribute to KEDO even in a vague or ballpark sense?
AMBASSADOR MONDALE: In a general sense, some of that will become -- has to be determined in Japan when they return through their political process. But we did discuss in more than general terms what was needed to get -- because there's a very short schedule getting KEDO set up and moving. We have to have it, I think, in place by early February. And let me just say this -- we're quite encouraged that Japan will do its part.
Q On APEC, President Clinton has made that a highlight of a lot of his economic policy. Are you convinced that the Japanese will move forward on that as much as you want?
AMBASSADOR MONDALE: Yes, I think they will. They described in general what they intended to do, which is to implement the general principles of the Bogor Declaration, which is for expanding trade, opening up investment and the rest. Now we have to go from the general to the specific, and I think they will do that.
Q Mr. Ambassador, you mentioned a number of agreements that have been struck in the past year with Japan. But do you realistically expect that the trade imbalance is going to improve any time in the near future?
AMBASSADOR MONDALE: The President responded to that. These agreements have just been reached for all practical purposes. But I think if you look at it, these are not insignificant. We've reached an agreement on construction, on intellectual property, on medical equipment, on telecommunications, on insurance, on cellular phones, on glass, now on financial services. And if we reach an agreement in the auto sector, that's a pretty broad range of significant agreements that will inevitably have a bearing on these trade imbalances -- the auto sector being the most significant in terms of trade balances. But there are other factors here and the framework understands that.
The last two years, the United States has been growing very rapidly. Japan's been going through the worst recession in many, many years. So we've been pulling in imports, and they have not been. I'm not trying to argue that we have solved this problem. We've got a long way to go, but we're working in the right direction.
I might add apples, too. That took us only 24 years, but we got it done.
Q Mr. Ambassador, President Clinton is helping Mexico out -- group of G-7 to help out. What is Japan doing to help the Mexican government --
AMBASSADOR MONDALE: I'll ask somebody else to respond on that. That question came up -- you know the Foreign Minister of Mexico was just in Tokyo. Can you --
MR. CUTTER: There are -- there have been extensive --we discussed -- that issue was discussed between the President and the Prime Minister at some length during lunch. There are ongoing discussions and consultations. The President asked Laura Tyson, the Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers to go through the situation in some detail, which she did. It was quite clear that the Prime Minister had been well briefed on the topic. They expressed considerable understanding of the topic. And the -- an understanding of it in the same sense that the United States has had. They see it as a short-term liquidity problem with a -- and an underlying concern, an investment -- an underlying level of investor confidence. But expressed, as did the President, a high degree of confidence in Mexico's economic future.
Q Labor Secretary Reich yesterday had some very sharp words for the CEO of Bridgestone Corporation for hiring permanent striker replacements in Ohio. Was that issue raised today, or is that issue going to be raised at a diplomatic level at all?
MR. CUTTER: That issue was not discussed between the President and the Prime Minister, but it will be raised. We think that it would be highly appropriate for the American CEO of Bridgestone to talk with the Secretary of Labor of the United States. Bridgestone, excuse me.
AMBASSADOR MONDALE: Just one modest correction there. The suggestion has been made -- the diplomatic approach occurred during lunch.
Q We don't get a chance to see you very often here, so this is a question that is a little broader than today's meetings. And that is, as Jimmy Carter's former Vice President, and yet as an Ambassador for this administration, do you think it's problematic for an administration to have a former President essentially become a freelance negotiator -- a freelance Ambassador -- and wondered if you had weighed in on this subject at all, especially because part of his activity did go on in your part of the world?
AMBASSADOR MONDALE: I think that President Carter's involvement in North Korea helped break a diplomatic logjam and has opened opportunities to resume negotiations to try find a diplomatic solution. And I don't think that can be denied. And we had some luck there, he met with the former Mr. Kim Il-song before he died, which helped I think, as well.
I think in Haiti, the fact that he went down there was -- helped us enter there without hostilities. The leadership down there left peacefully and the Haiti intervention has been a big success. And I think President Carter did a good job there. Let us hope that the intervention in Bosnia works as well. Of course, I happen to like President Carter.
Q But you don't see any problems with the former President getting out there and sort of doing his own thing while a White House is trying to run its own diplomatic corps?
AMBASSADOR MONDALE: I have not been involved in the details of this, but a former public officer of whatever stature cannot negotiate except under orders and rules -- or make agreement except those that are permitted by this administration in this case.
MR. MCCURRY: We have to cut it off. I'll just let you know we're cutting it off because the President --
AMBASSADOR MONDALE: You're asking me to leave?
MR. MCCURRY: Yes, the President's remarks on the California floods will be live in about 35, 40 seconds. I know you don't want to miss that.
THE PRESS: Thank you.
END2:58 P.M. EST