THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary (Ottawa, Canada)
BACKGROUND BRIEFING BY SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL Government Conference Center Ottawa, Canada
1:35 P.M. EST
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Let me give you a quick review of a very wide-ranging discussion which took place over an hour, an hour and 20 minutes between the President and the Prime Minister and the senior people who were there.
The Prime Minister began the discussion with a very strong statement which he reiterated again at the press conference about the importance of continued American leadership in the world; expressed some concern with the debate in the United States about -- suggests calling for a retrenchment in the United States; and said how struck he was in his travels in Asia and Latin America and elsewhere of the continued need for very strong American leadership.
The President then went through a series of issues which the two talked about, starting with Bosnia. The President expressed concern about President Tudjman's decision to -- stated intention to withdraw UNPROFOR or to not extend the mandate of UNPROFOR. Both President Clinton and Prime Minister Chretien agreed that they did not think that was an advisable move, that effort would be made to try to persuade President Tudjman that that is not a wise course; some discussion of consequences of that.
There was a discussion of Haiti. The President expressed gratitude to the Prime Minister for the very strong role that Canada has played in Haiti policy over the past two or three years. They talked about the transition to the U.N. mission which will take place on March 31st.
There was discussion of the Korean nuclear agreement, and expression of strong support for that agreement by the Prime Minister.
They talked about China. They talked about the succession situation there and the various possibilities in terms of the direction in which China can evolve over the next several years and the interest that the international community has in China continuing to evolve in a way that is integrated into the international community and moving towards openness and reform.
There was some discussion that -- some fairly lengthy discussion about U.N. peacekeeping. Canada, of course, as you know, has been a stalwart participant in U.N. peacekeeping around the world. Very strong statement by Prime Minister Chretien of the importance of maintaining strong U.N. peacekeeping, strengthening the U.N. institution so that that mission can be carried out more effectively.
There was a discussion of Ukraine, and the commitment that was made at the last summit to assist Ukraine in dismantling and -- or dealing with the problem of the Chernobyl reactor and a bit of a status report on that.
A discussion of Russia, the Halifax Summit, Yeltsin's participation in the summit. And then a lengthy discussion of various -- a range of trade issues, some multilateral; that is, our common interest with respect to market access in Japan and China. And then a series of bilateral trade issues that continue to be on the table, although both sides notes that probably to a greater extend than at any time in recent history, that list seems to be smaller, and getting smaller -- but specifically, talked about the problem with Country Music Television, which those of you who've followed know, has been a problem here. it's been -- as the Canadian authorities have indicated, they could not continue to broadcast here; the general issue of cultural restrictions, Sports Illustrated, other similar problems. Some discussion of the dairy problem, which is one of concern to the Canadian.
And then, finally, a general discussion, some concern expressed by the Canadians of what Congress was going to do with respect to the environment; concern expressed about whether there's going to be some kind of a major rollback in America's commitment to environmental protection. And the President made clear that he intended to continue to fight for strong environmental policies and work together with the Canadians towards that objective.
In general, a very, very wide ranging discussion, a very comfortable mood, and I think a very successful, productive meeting.
Q On Bosnia, did the two leaders talk about whether American forces would be needed to evacuate the peacekeepers from Croatia if that goes forward and how many troops that would require?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: There was some discussion of that, although that's not, as you know, a decision that has been made yet by the United States. But there was discussion of what would happen if the UNPROFOR soldiers --UNPROFOR forces needed to leave Bosnia. And as you know, NATO is looking at what might be involved in that kind of exercise, just as it is looking at what might be involved in if UNPROFOR needed to leave Bosnia. Those are matters under review.
Q Did the Prime Minister advocate the use of U.S. troops to help evacuate UNPROFOR from Croatia?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: The Prime Minister expressed concerned for, obviously, the safety and security of the UNPROFOR soldiers under those circumstances. There was a general discussion, but as I say, that's now a matter at this point that NATO is looking at in terms of what might be involved, what the options are.
Q Does the President have a view on whether an independent Quebec would automatically become a member of NAFTA?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: I think the President suggested today in the press conference that that's a purely hypothetical question, and not one we face at this point.
Q Were the differences narrowed at all in the trade issues, for example, the country radio, or some of these others? What's the status of it?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: There have been separate discussions between Minister MacLaren, and USTR Mickey Kanter, yesterday and today, in which specifically these issues -- the trade issues, have been discussed, and I think some progress made in those discussions. In these discussions this morning I wouldn't say that any of these matters that I'd mentioned to you were resolved, but I think each side on these two or three issues, had an opportunity to describe what their particular interests were; what their particular concerns were.
Q Was there any discussion, any headway made on setting a date for a return visit by the Prime Minister to Washington?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Not in the meeting today. I know they have -- I think there is a general invitation for the Prime Minister to come to the United States, but I don't believe there's a date.
THE PRESS: Thank you.
END1:45 P.M. EST