THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
PRESS BRIEFING BY MIKE MCCURRY
The Briefing Room
3:20 P.M. EDT
MR. MCCURRY: Good afternoon, everybody. Why don't I start with some happy news -- we're going to Madrid. Would you all like to go to Madrid?
Q Yes, yes.
MR. MCCURRY: Good.
MR. MCCURRY: December 3rd. The United States, Spain -- Spain is currently the President of the European Council -- and the European Commission have agreed that Spain will host the next United States-European Commission's -- European Union's summit meeting. That will occur on December 3, 1995. At the invitation of His Majesty King Juan Carlos, I, President Clinton will visit Madrid to meet with Spanish -- there's a problem with the wording of this thing. But anyhow, he's going to have both bilateral meetings with Spanish officials and also a meeting with European Union officials. The visit will continue the practice the United States has of meeting on a periodic basis with officials of the European Union during each EU presidency. President Gonzalez will host bilateral meetings between the United States and other officials.
This will be, obviously, at the tail end of the trip that the President will be taking to the United Kingdom and Ireland.
Q Now, sir, has the President ever attended -- did these summits formerly go by another name?
MR. MCCURRY: No. I think there have been meetings before --
Q Brussels --
Q That was always something else. NATO summit.
Q No, but there was an EU meeting --
Q CSCE summits.
MR. MCCURRY: There have very often been US-EU summit meetings or summit sessions in connection with U.N. General Assembly meetings up in New York. Those have occurred on occasion. I will check and see -- this may be the first it has actually occurred in Europe.
MR. MCCURRY: The Associated Press indicates not. Well, so we shall see. Let's go do some research on that.
Anyhow, that was late breaking news, obviously. Since I don't have any more details on that, what else do you want to know?
Q Will Madrid be the last stop on this trip?
MR. MCCURRY: I believe it is going to be the last stop on this trip. So we'll be homeward bound from Madrid. I'm not aware of any other stop.
Q One day, just December 3rd?
MR. MCCURRY: I believe that's correct.
Q That will be a day trip, right?
Q Rome would be nice.
MR. MCCURRY: We'll develop more on the schedule as we know it.
Q What about Bosnia, the Bosnia meeting?
MR. MCCURRY: Let's do a couple -- we have several -- let me suggest the subjects, and then you can go anywhere you want to get.
Q Like that.
MR. MCCURRY: I'll just tell you what I need to get through at some point along the way here. We also have -- you all know that we did announce a working visit with President Demirel of Turkey. That statement is in the bins and is available. We also have -- what else can we offer today? If anyone is interested, I've got some notes on the meeting with King Hussein and President Mubarak; we can do that at some point. Any other subjects? Bosnia -- the Bosnia meeting that occurred?
Q Pollard and --
MR. MCCURRY: Pollard, okay. Should we have a lottery vote? Should we run this as a democracy?
Q No, we saw the results of that last week.
MR. MCCURRY: Yeah, I see that. Democracy in the press corps is an ugly sight, as I witnessed last week.
Mr. Farrell, why don't we begin with you today?
Q The cease-fire remarks the President made.
MR. MCCURRY: Okay. The President, as he indicated at the top of his remarks, got a very encouraging report from Assistant Secretary Holbrooke, who has been in Sarajevo today. Assistant Secretary Holbrooke held six hours of what he termed very constructive and productive meetings with the leadership of the Bosnian government. Part of that discussion related to cessation of hostilities and the terms under which the Bosnian government would be favorably inclined to a cessation of hostilities.
Clearly, Assistant Secretary Holbrooke did not announce a cease-fire. I would suggest that the members of Congress who were here were briefed by the Secretary of State, who had had the direct contact with Assistant Secretary Holbrooke. It does not appear that there is an imminent possibility of a cease-fire, but we are encouraged that there is a disposition by the Bosnian government and we hope by the other parties to seriously entertain that concept because that is a necessary ingredient as we look for an overall political settlement.
That's the issue, among others, that Assistant Secretary Holbrooke will be pursuing in coming days.
Q What are you going to do about Dole and troops? He said he still opposes U.S. ground troops.
MR. MCCURRY: Well, if I heard Senator Dole correctly in the meeting, and from what I understand he told many of you afterwards, he had what the President considers very legitimate questions about any deployment of U.S. forces to Bosnia as part of an implementation force for a peace settlement. The questions are: how many troops would be involved; how long would they be there; and how much would it cost to deploy them.
Certainly, the costs, whatever the costs, the costs would be less than the price of war, because the price of war is paid both in the loss of life of human beings, and then also the resources that we do expend for the types of things we've done to try to curb this conflict and to pay for the consequences of the conflict in such things as humanitarian aid.
But in any event, the President, during the meeting suggested that those posing those questions, such as Senator Dole, as they were doing it in a constructive way, would certainly be playing a legitimate role in a positive debate that would help Americans understand what our responsibilities are in Bosnia. As he suggested, if we can keep this debate focused on what our leadership responsibilities are in Europe, it will certainly be easier for the American people to understand what responsibilities we do have in Bosnia. And the President was very encouraged, based on the tone of this meeting, that we can have that kind of debate.
But the briefers who participated on behalf of the administration, the President, Secretary of State, the Secretary of Defense, the Deputy Chairman of the Joint Chiefs all made it quite clear that specific plans for deployment of forces have not been drawn up yet by NATO because, of course, we don't have the contours of an overall peace settlement.
It was a very accurate description of the current status of the plan and given to the members of Congress. NATO initiated contingency planning for an implementation force on September 20th, and the briefers described exactly where that is in the process now and made it quite clear that there had been no specific troop contribution request that had been issued yet by NATO. But we also made it clear simultaneously that any implementation force would be a NATO effort and it would be a NATO effort reflecting the leadership role the United States has in NATO.
Q Did Secretary Perry or others, though, outline ranges, I mean, between this many and that many or between this much and that much?
MR. MCCURRY: No. Up until the point -- I had to depart just prior to the end, but I believe the administration presentation had been sufficiently made at that point to say that there was no discussion of ranges of numbers because it's impossible to draw up those types of calculations right now until we have a specific sense of what the environment for peace will be and what the contours of the geographic considerations of peace will be.
Q Has a final determination been made about whether some sort of affirmative vote will be sought from the Hill before you actually do this, or is it simply a commitment as previous administrations and this one have made to vigorous and thorough consultations.
MR. MCCURRY: As have previous administrations, this administration is pledged to a consultation with Congress. Today's meeting was a part of that. The President did, however, indicate to members of Congress that he would certainly welcome their support, and I wouldn't rule out the possibility the White House would attempt to seek that type of support. That's happened in the past; certainly happened in the Persian Gulf. And, in any event, in a generic sense, support for any deployment is necessary because Congress can authorize the funding for such a deployment.
Q Do you mean a vote, Mike? Is that what you're saying?
MR. MCCURRY: I didn't say vote, I said we would seek support. That could come in any number of ways. It could come from resolutions, expressions of support, hearings that reflect support. We'll just have to see what happens.
Q You don't mean to imply, by saying that Congress would have to vote the money, that you feel it couldn't go forward, absent some affirmative vote on the money, do you?
MR. MCCURRY: No --
Q I mean, because they could cut it off if they wanted to.
MR. MCCURRY: I'm not saying that. I'm not saying anything that changes the President's view of his constitutional prerogatives as Commander-in-Chief. But the President did indicate in this meeting that support from Congress he saw as a necessary ingredient of helping the American people understand the case for meeting our responsibilities and our leadership role in Bosnia.
Q Does today's meeting serve as the President's answer to the Dole letter, or is a separate answer forthcoming?
MR. MCCURRY: I believe the detail of the meeting today and the comments that Senator Dole made, while skeptical -- I would certainly describe them as being skeptical -- did indicate that he had understood now where we were in the planning, to what degree we could address the various questions he posed. And I didn't hear anything from Senator Dole during the meeting that indicated that he was less than satisfied with the tone of the meeting or the level of the response.
I think what was clear was that there would need to be a continuing effort to keep Congress apprised of the planning that's going on in NATO, and then the planning our military would do in response to requests from NATO. Obviously, we are very heavily involved in exactly that planning, and we do plan to do additional consultation and additional follow-up as we work through the issue of how we implement any potential peace agreement.
But, again, let's not put the cart before the horse here. Our work and much of the presentation that Secretary Christopher made at this meeting was a report on the status of the diplomacy. Any question of U.S. deployment of forces depends on a viable peace agreement that the parties are implementing, and we're not there yet, and we've got a long ways to go before we can get there. And we've been taking this, as you know, step by step, with very -- addressing each question as it comes along.
We had productive results this week in the meeting of the foreign ministers up in New York. As we communicated then, the next step will be to see if we can't achieve some type of cessation of hostilities agreement. The next step after that, we hope, will be negotiations or talks that could lead to an overall settlement.
Q Is there any talk about linking the defense appropriations bill veto to this issue, the way Livingston did earlier?
MR. MCCURRY: Up until the point that I left the meeting, I hadn't heard any discussion of the defense appropriations bill. Of course, now, it's probably a moot point.
Q About on the same general theme, Senator Gregg has apparently embarked on an effort to put an amendment on the continuing resolution that would require a vote before any deployment of forces to Bosnia?
MR. MCCURRY: I'm sorry, say that again?
Q Supposedly, there was a last-minute effort to tack on to the continuing resolution amendment that would say no forces deployed in Bosnia without congressional approval.
MR. MCCURRY: The only mention of that issue in this meeting was made by Senator Dole who had to depart the meeting early, and he said, among other things, he had to return to the Hill because that was one issue among several that he had to deal with.
Q How does that grab you as an idea?
MR. MCCURRY: Well, obviously, it doesn't fit with what we think is the right strategy for managing the conflict in Bosnia, which is to pursue diplomacy that can bring the conflict to an end, and then to proceed with the effort necessary by the international community to implement that piece. The President is quite clear that we have leadership responsibilities in connection with that type of process, and that we -- because no one else has the capacity that we do, or the authority that we do, have responsibilities to help these parties rebuild and reconstruct Bosnia and keep the peace that allows Bosnia to return to some state that existed prior to the war.
Q Did Dole indicate he would try to block any rider on this?
MR. MCCURRY: Didn't indicate that during the meeting to my recollection.
Q Wasn't that the one he wanted to jack up --
MR. MCCURRY: He said he was going back up there to deal with that issue and the continuing resolution is among several things that he's dealing with.
Q Back to Senator Dole's questions. The President said they are fair and he intended to answer them, but he couldn't answer them in any detail today and didn't even try -- is that the fair recap?
MR. MCCURRY: Well, I think it's more accurate to say that he and the others who briefed on behalf of the administration gave the members of Congress a very good sense of where we are in the planning on exactly those types of issues right now. And we -- most of these members from their own staffs have had some briefings, they know what the level of discussion is on this. They've got a pretty good idea of what the contours of the planning looks like.
But today we tried to make it real clear, here's specifically where we are in this process, and here's where it's headed, here's what our requirements would be. And we can't answer the specific requirements about deployments until we know more about the contours of the peace. Now, that said, our briefers gave a pretty good sense of what we're talking about here. We're talking about a force to implement the peace that will be robust enough that it would not tempt any of the parties to challenge that force. And there was good discussion of that issue, and I think the members probably indicated to you -- I don't know what they indicated to you, but I would suspect if you asked any of them that they left that session with a very good understanding of the type of mission we're describing.
Q Not to be obtuse, but if you didn't talk about ranges -- I mean, maybe this is just an issue you just don't want to discuss from this podium, but if you don't talk about ranges, what's the different between a contour and a range? How do they know how big it is or long it is?
MR. MCCURRY: Because, Todd, the size of the force is, for most members of Congress and certainly for the President, less important than the nature of the mission and the types of arrangements that will be made for the force that can be assured of protecting itself and accomplishing the mission. And in the case of both the President and the members of Congress, they're defining the mission very clearly. So it's clear that it has probability of success, that it's got the right kind of contours to achieve the mission objectives, and that there's a clear end point and a clear exit strategy for the mission.
Those are the things that members of Congress were most concerned about. And I think they would expect our military planners to size the force so that those missions could be accomplished. That's why it would be natural for the Commander-in-Chief, with his military briefers and with members of Congress, to explore the nature of the mission, its purpose, its overall contours, and how we go about being successful and accomplishing the mission.
Q Any discussion of the lifting of the arms embargo?
MR. MCCURRY: It was mentioned by Senator Dole, but frankly, not a lot of discussion about that. I would suggest most of the members of Congress around the table at this point were more interested in what we're doing to further the peace process at this point than steps we might take to help the parties conduct war.
Q In the past, there was an assumption that the U.S. would supply 50 percent of the troops, never mind what the total is. Is that assumption still valid?
MR. MCCURRY: The briefers indicated that the United States ought to have a --
Q Which briefers were these? Perry --
MR. MCCURRY: Secretary Perry -- said that the U.S. ought to have a leadership role in the force. I don't know that he defined it in terms of percentages.
Q Mike, did I hear you say that the President made a commitment to the congressional leaders that this would be a NATO force under U.S. command? And is this the first time he's made that commitment?
MR. MCCURRY: We have pretty well indicated in the past that that was the case. But we did make it very clear that we expected this to be a NATO operation under NATO command, under the operational command of the CINCSouth and the overall command of SACEUR.
Q Did the President come away with the feeling that the Republicans would fund the effort in Bosnia? One of the appropriators came out and it seemed to sound like they would try to find the money if everything went as planned.
MR. MCCURRY: Well, I think that they -- Congress is going to ask good, tough, skeptical questions about this mission. The President is determined to satisfy their concerns because he's determined that the United States meet its commitments to lead. We are in the happy position of enforcing a peace in Bosnia, and I believe that he will make that effective argument. And I believe the support will be there, but it's not there until such time as we sufficiently answer these questions that have been posed by Congress. The President said those questions are good ones, and the debate about -- I wouldn't even call it debate -- the discussion about the mission should be a constructive one and will be a constructive one.
Q Also, what was his reaction to Dole's reference or comparisons to Gulf War? I guess he told us -- several times he said that the -- going to the Hill and seeking some sort of support, and as a result, the Democrats all were on board.
MR. MCCURRY: Well, Senator Dole did reference that. The President didn't react to that specifically, but several of the Democratic members of Congress around the table were quite clear in pointing out that it was not a partisan discussion -- the Persian Gulf War had not been a partisan issue; indeed, there had been Democrats in support. And there had been Democrats, obviously, by and large against --
Q And did the President say --
MR. MCCURRY: No, I didn't say the President, I said some members of Congress present made that argument.
Q Excuse me, but are these two generals or commanders that you just mentioned -- are they always U.S. generals, or are they -- the rotation just happens to be an American now?
MR. MCCURRY: Not in the history of the Alliance have they been other than U.S. officers.
Q Another subject. Terry may not like it, though. Just for a minute, could you discuss Secretary Deutch's actions regarding the CIA and the Guatemala --
MR. MCCURRY: And Guatemala? Yes. For those of you who have not followed this closely, the Director of Central Intelligence has been in some closed sessions on Capitol Hill today, and just a short while ago the agency released a statement related to some disciplinary decisions that the Director of Central Intelligence has made. The President has been informed of those decisions regarding CIA operations in Guatemala. The President believes the Director has been forceful and fair, and he applauds the very high standards of professional conduct which the Director of Central Intelligence has now reinforced through these actions.
The Director's decisions represent the completion of a lengthy process of investigation and review at the CIA with respect to events that surround both the -- Michael Devine and Efrain Bamaca. We've talked about that here on several occasions in the past. The Director of Central Intelligence considered, among other things, in the review of this matter both the report of his own Inspector General and then also the work of the Intelligence Oversight Board which I've described here in the past.
We are going to have for you, available after the hearing, we will -- this is ready to go now I think -- we've got a further update from the Intelligence Oversight Board that supplements the material I gave you several weeks ago outlining some of the additional material that the IOB has now reviewed as a result of the completion of the Director of Central Intelligence inquiry.
Some of these inquiries are proceeding simultaneously, but again, our interest here is both, one, making sure that we are getting to the truth on actions that occurred in Guatemala, and I think the President is satisfied there is progress on that front; two, making it clear that we support the necessity of these personnel actions that have been taken by the Director of Central Intelligence and; three, continuing to make good on the President's pledge to make available that information publicly that we have that we can make available as appropriate. You will see in the further statements that we've got available that we'll outline procedures for doing that as we go towards the completion of the Intelligence Oversight Board review of this issue later this fall.
Q Does it apply to the whole -- all of the CIA activities? Because if hadn't been for the wife of this guerrilla Guatemalan leader, nothing would have been exposed.
MR. MCCURRY: Well, I think that is not true and is not a fair characterization of the work the administration has done to get to this.
Q Didn't she blow the whistle on the --
MR. MCCURRY: That's not accurate. In fact, what has been most -- what has been a very key part of this inquiry has to do with Michael Devine's death, as a matter of fact.
Q Mike, in light of Rabin's request that you release Pollard --
Q Can we stay on Guatemala just for a moment?
MR. MCCURRY: Okay.
Q I couldn't quite hear the other question; I hope I'm not repeating. But how concerned, if at all, is the President that the mind-set that led to these problems, as far as Guatemala is concerned, is reflective of one that may be at work in other areas of the operations director?
MR. MCCURRY: Well, the President is very confident that the Director of Central Intelligence has taken important steps to address the type of wrongdoing that has been found in this instance. What is specifically of concern in these cases is the necessity of reporting accurately information to the United States Congress, and the Congress' oversight role when it comes to intelligence matters.
And the President is aware of and supports administrative procedures that the Director of Central Intelligence now has in place to ensure that this type of lapse in -- or lackadaisical attitude towards reporting doesn't occur again. I believe it's also true to say that the President believes that the Director of Central Intelligence has really, by addressing this in a very straightforward way, made it possible for the overall morale of the Agency to raise, because the Agency won't face suspicions about its motives and its practices because he's raising the professional standards in such a way that people can have confidence that the Agency and its operatives perform up to those standards and in accordance with U.S. law.
Q Mike, do we know what the disciplinary actions are?
MR. MCCURRY: Say again.
Q Can you tell us what the disciplinary --
MR. MCCURRY: No, I will not go through each of the personnel actions because they've now been released by the Agency and they are being briefed appropriately at the Agency by those who are familiar with each case.
Q But they've been released to the public, right?
MR. MCCURRY: Yes, they have been released publicly by the Agency now.
Q You don't have a copy of --
MR. MCCURRY: I've got a copy of them, but I would prefer that the agency handle the brief on that.
Q You seem to be indicating that this deals strictly with the Latin American area and people who are handling Guatemala.
MR. MCCURRY: The report I'm making available to you today is a result of the inquiry that's been done according to the terms of reference that we released on April 7th that really provided the whole range of matter that the Intelligence Oversight Board would review. We gave you a very clear understanding of exactly those things that they would like at and they have pursued diligently the areas within their terms of reference.
Q Mike, there was a story in The New York Times yesterday saying that the CIA was also investigating agents, military officers in Honduras being on the CIA's payroll and violating human rights. Do you know anything about that?
MR. MCCURRY: That I am not -- do not have anything on that and I'd ask that you give Dennis Fox a call over at the agency on that.
Q Could you talk about Pollard for a moment?
MR. MCCURRY: Sure.
Q I understand Rabin asked that he be released yesterday. Could you tell us what the President said and if you're not changing your position, why not?
MR. MCCURRY: Well, the President -- in most of the bilateral conversations that we've had with the government of Israel, the status of the Pollard case is raised; that is, has been a regular subject on the agenda of our bilateral dialogues for quite some time now. The President --
Q Was that the case yesterday?
MR. MCCURRY: Yes. It was raised by the Prime Minister, and the President reiterated his view that until Mr. Pollard reaches his parole date, the President can only consider clemency recommendations which would be the other available option as they are referred to him by other officials in government. He made it clear to the Prime Minister he had not received any clemency recommendations. As a result of that, he can't make any decision on the Pollard case. He also made it clear that the parole board had not forwarded to him any matter for consideration. It is clearly a case that we are aware of the interests of the government of Israel, in this case. We will continue review the case as appropriate when information is provided by the appropriate officials of government.
Q Was the President open to the idea of granting clemency?
MR. MCCURRY: He indicated that he would review the case properly if he received a clemency petition.
Q There a somewhat pro forma quality to this whole deal, isn't there -- on both sides?
MR. MCCURRY: I can't comment or characterize the disposition of the government of Israel. They have very strong views on this, clearly, because they raise it regularly in their bilateral settings, but I think that we have made it clear the President's disposition to handle this exactly as he should in accordance with our law.
Q Does the President think it's appropriate to treat someone who spies for a friend, like Israel, differently from someone like, say, Aldrich Ames who spied for a then-enemy, the Soviet Union?
MR. MCCURRY: The President thinks it's very important to comport himself in accordance with our law which provides equal justice under law.
Q Mike, you referenced here a couple of times now to the need for a clemency request. Are you seeking one now?
MR. MCCURRY: I'm not aware that we are seeking one. The President indicated the Prime Minister that there had not been one sent to him.
Q Well, is that a request that comes from within the government or a recommendation from the pardon board over at Justice or --
MR. MCCURRY: We can get you more on what the exact procedure is, but they generate, I think, from Justice. They come here, they're reviewed here appropriately by the Office of White House Legal Counsel, and recommendations are made to the President who then reviews them independently on his own.
Q You don't make them, they come to you?
MR. MCCURRY: I believe that they make them, although there are generally those employers that work on and review the application who have good contact and back and forth discussions with the Justice Department.
Q Can an ordinary citizen request clemency for someone?
MR. MCCURRY: We can get you in touch with someone from Legal Counsel who can brief.
Q Are you able to say whether the President has asked Justice to review the Pollard case as a result of the Prime Minister's latest request?
MR. MCCURRY: I'm not aware of any request, but it's obviously a request of sufficient interest by our government and by the government of Israel that it has been receiving attention at the Justice Department.
Q Mike, could you comment on the indictment of the three U.S. servicemen in Okinawa today and say anything about its possible effects on the wider, U.S.-Japan relationship?
MR. MCCURRY: I would say that obviously we are aware of the decision that's been made to release them to the custody of the Japanese government for further law enforcement effort. The President considers that a proper course of action based on analysis of fact. The President, as he's indicated repeatedly, sincerely hopes that this very tragic and regrettable incident will not have any negative impact on our very important, very secure and very warm bilateral relationship.
Q Did the President speak to Foreign Minister Kono yesterday about the incident?
MR. MCCURRY: I am not aware if he did, but my understanding is that when Secretary Christopher met just recently with Foreign Minister Kono in New York at U.N. General Assembly sessions, it did arise at that time and you should check over at State.
Q We are leaving to Japanese justice to handle the American --
MR. MCCURRY: We have determined that the three should be prosecuted in accordance with Japanese law; that's my understanding. But the Defense Department would be able to tell you more precisely the nature of the --
Q Is that under a special treaty of some sort?
MR. MCCURRY: It has been -- that action has been taken in conformity with our status of forces agreement in effect with the government of Japan, yes.
Q Do you have a readout on Mubarak and King Hussein?
MR. MCCURRY: Yes. First, on the session with President Mubarak -- again, both of these sessions built on the very historic day we had yesterday. But I would say that they served the purpose of really turning the corner off of the events yesterday and moving ahead with the very hard work that lies ahead in the peace process. The commitment signed yesterday, as you heard over and over again from the leaders who spoke, is a significant achievement. But it only is significant as it is pursued diligently by the parties themselves, and then supported and nurtured by the international community.
So a large part of today's sessions on both sides -- both the meeting with King Hussein and the meeting with President Mubarak -- went into how do we build on the achievements of yesterday, and how do we make good on some of the commitments that both the international community have made, and how do we help the parties make it on their commitments to each other.
There was a significant review, with President Mubarak, of bilateral issues. We talked about the broader process of engaging the region itself in the work of peace, through regional integration and economic development. There was a good deal of discussion about the Middle East development bank, which you heard a lot about yesterday. And they further dealt with those issues. They discussed regional security issues, including Iraq.
As always, I guess I'd just characterize a large part of the conversation as the President seeking President Mubarak's insights and reflections on the peace process. In many ways, President Mubarak plays not exactly an identical role, but at least a similar kind of role that President Clinton plays in the peace process, or the United States plays collectively, which is to be in a position, through leadership, to offer the parties that are attempting to make peace ideas on how they can make progress.
It's very often the case that President Mubarak can help either side, particularly the Palestinians, as he showed recently, gained some insights into what they're hearing from other sides, to really sort of reflect on what the various positions are of the parties.
The President, I'd say, enjoys the opportunities to compare notes and to exchange ideas about the peace process itself with someone who is as knowledgeable and as skilled in helping to advance that process, as is President Mubarak. They obviously, in addition to the work that we did here yesterday, they also talked about the Syrian-Israeli track and exchanged views on that track.
On King Hussein, King Hussein -- they had a lot of discussion about how the achievements that Jordan and Israel have been made together may become some type of model or prototype for other governments in the region. Obviously, the President hopes that normalization of relations with Israel could become a hallmark throughout the region, and the experience that Jordan has now had in deepening and nurturing a peace with Israel could prove constructive as we attempt to build similar relations throughout the region. So they talked about that. They also talked, obviously, about the Middle East Development Bank as well, they discussed Iraq.
The President was keenly interested in King Hussein's insights, again told him in a very personal way how much he admired the courage that the King demonstrated in granting asylum to the defectors from Iraq recently. They talked about the political situation in Iraq as a result of these defections, which everyone acknowledges, or both parties acknowledges has been deteriorating, and the defections themselves were a further sign of that deterioration. They agreed that among that reason and other reasons, it was very important to continue very close U.S.-Jordanian consultations on regional security issues.
The President also reaffirmed our commitment to help Jordan meet its defense needs. We have had good, active discussions with the government of Jordan on how best to do that. There was some of that here, although there was follow-up discussion over at the State Department this afternoon when the King was scheduled to meet with Secretary Christopher, I believe; so you may want to check in there to see if they advanced that specific agenda any further.
Q Any talk of a Clinton repeat trip to the Middle East?
MR. MCCURRY: There was very little discussion of that. I think everyone -- these are serious participants in this process. I think they know -- serious purpose that we would attach to that type of trip, and I think we all know what the status of our process is at this point.
Q If the President gets a continuing resolution, say, late tonight or tomorrow, what would you expect him to do, or how would he -- put out a statement about it, or would he want to say something? Would he also want to veto the --
MR. MCCURRY: You can pocket that one. He said when it gets here, he'll sign it. So, just assume as soon as it's here, he'll just sign it.
Q He won't make any to-do about it?
MR. MCCURRY: We are not going to make any to-do about it.
Q You'll announce the signing, won't you, at any hour?
MR. MCCURRY: We'll call you at home, even if it's at 3:00 a.m.
Q Just call the wires.
Q At any hour?
MR. MCCURRY: At any hour. My understanding is that they are -- we'll find out later that the Senate is going to -- if it looks at some point today -- my latest understanding was that it looked like they were going to be going late, they were going to hold over and be in session tomorrow.
Q What about the two bills he has?
MR. MCCURRY: The military construction bill, which I think we've indicated we've looked at and see some level of acceptability, and the legislative appropriations bills which we have looked at, and for reasons associated with the fact that Congress is taking care of its own business before taking care of the business of the American people, we find no level of acceptability.
Q Are you going to veto it, or not? You are or you are not?
Q You're not going to sign it?
Q Are you going to sign it, are you going to veto it, or are you going to hold it?
MR. MCCURRY: Well, we'll hold it until we veto it. (Laughter.)
Q You mean he's going to veto?
Q You may have gone over these two questions. What's the subject of the radio address tomorrow?
MR. MCCURRY: Medicaid.
Q Will that be live?
MR. MCCURRY: Medicaid, but it's --
Q He's doing it today.
MR. MCCURRY: It's already done.
MR. MCCURRY: Medicare-Medicaid? Medicare-Medicaid.
Q Medicare-Medicaid. And secondly --
MR. MCCURRY: Is it in the can?
Q Have you already discussed the implications of Pete Wilson dropping out?
MR. MCCURRY: Have I? No, I haven't. (Laughter.)
Q Can you tell us what you think this means as far as the President is concerned?
MR. MCCURRY: No, I can't.
Q How about the O.J. Simpson trial?
MR. MCCURRY: The President actually had -- the President reflected a little bit on the O.J. Simpson case in an interview that he gave last night. And I think you've got -- that's available to you, but it does reflect his thinking. He is very concerned the tone of this event. I won't say the trial itself, but the event itself as it's being covered by many of your news organizations took a very ugly turn yesterday. And the President is very concerned about that, and he sincerely hopes that Americans don't read into the discussion around this case more than they should about the status of race relations in America. And he's quite concerned about that. The status of justice is in the -- will shortly be in the hands of 12 jurors, and we don't have anything to say about that.
Q What about the status of racism in America?
Q He's concerned about the issue of racism being --
MR. MCCURRY: Some of the discussions swirling around this trial have been troubling to the President.
Q Well, what do you mean it took an ugly turn yesterday? Specifically, what do you mean?
MR. MCCURRY: You all have covered this and every American knows what I mean, so I don't need to explain it any further.
Q The Arkansas shindig, is it -- anything to do with it tomorrow? Are they going to be here tomorrow?
MR. MCCURRY: Let me run through that a little bit just to let you know what's going to be going on this weekend here would not require most of you to have to work this weekend, which I hope you'll be happy to know. Are we going to put out the text? We'll have the text of the radio address on an embargoed basis later.
The President tonight is going to host -- the President and the First Lady are going to host about 1,600 of their friends from Arkansas at a reception on the South Lawn. They're going to have a nice, down-home grilled, Cajun chicken lawn party. The purpose of the event is to bring a lot of the friends of the Clintons to Washington. Many of them have not had an opportunity to come to Washington up until now. And both the President and the First Lady have been looking for an opportunity to have them here.
Some of them, obviously, have been longtime political supporters of the President and the First Lady. Some of them have been financial contributors to their past campaigns. They've got everyone from former staff members in his Governor's Office to high school friends to people who have been volunteers and workers in his gubernatorial campaign.
There's a --- tomorrow night -- is that Senator Pryor's son? Senator Pryor's son, David Pryor, Jr., has organized something called the Blue Jeans Bash Three. We don't know whether the President or the First Lady plan to attend that. We're not aware of any plans that they have to attend that, but you know they're going to be having a nice weekend visit with their friends.
Q Where is it?
MR. MCCURRY: It's at -- it doesn't say where. Do you know where it is? Somewhere else in town.
Q Are these the Arkansas Travelers that are coming in tonight?
MR. MCCURRY: No. There will be many of them. These are folks who worked in the campaign in 1992, many of them here because they're part of this group. But the kinds of people coming are -- ask Mack McLarty. This comes courtesy of Mack, so I thank him for this. But Ark Monroe, who was a former Arkansas insurance commissioner. He's been a friend of the Clinton's for a long time. Mammie Nelson, who was born in 1909. She's from Mariana, in east Arkansas -- a longtime campaign volunteer. A neighbor of the Clintons when they lived on Midland Street after he lost the governors' race. A guy named Sarge Lazano who has been doing campaign signs -- do you know him? He worked for you. Patty Cryner, who's an old friend of the Clintons who was in the hospital the night Chelsea was born. So these are people who have been longtime friends of the Clintons. The military bands are playing tonight. The President's own Marine Band is playing. The Military Blues is playing -- 16-piece band. The Army Chorale -- they play 1940s-style music. I'm telling you -- everyone this, Wolf, so they can walk out of here, write their stories and they don't have to work all weekend long. That's the idea.
Q Who's paying for it?
MR. MCCURRY: Who's paying? They pay -- they're covering their own costs coming up here, and while they're here at the White House, they're hosted by the Clintons as guests. And so it's paid for by the White House.
Q And this Blue Jean is part of the whole -- the Saturday night Blue Jean Bash?
MR. MCCURRY: That's a separate thing. I'm just telling you about that because, for those of you who have pool duty, you might suddenly just learn that you're going to it. So I'll tell you in advance what that's all about.
Anyhow, the Clintons have been looking forward to this for a long time. This is something they have wanted to see their friends from down home for quite sometime. And they're excited about it. They're going to have a great weekend. I think all of you should, too. Why don't you all go off and have a nice weekend and not worry about new, because there's going to be little of it.
THE PRESS: Thank you.
END 4:10 P.M. EDT