THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
PRESS BRIEFING BY DEPUTY NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISOR SAMUEL BERGER
The Briefing Room
1:43 P.M. EDT
MR. BERGER: Let me walk through with you the President's rather busy schedule from Sunday morning through Tuesday afternoon in connection with the 50th anniversary of the United Nations, at which the President will give the keynote speech and will have a number of bilateral meetings.
The President will leave, as I understand it now, Sunday morning bright and early to go to New York; perhaps Saturday night. I'll leave, actually, the scheduling details to others. In any case, Saturday night or Sunday morning for a speech at 10:00 a.m. at the U.N. The basic focus of the President's speech will be on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the United Nations reform and refocus of the U.N. as it heads into its second 50 years.
This is a President who is deeply committed to the United Nations, believes that it has a very important role to play in dealing with the challenges that we face, committed to meeting our obligations to the United Nations. We paid last year over $2 billion to the United Nations, making us by far the largest contributor to the United Nations, more than twice the second largest contributor. But we also owe money to the United Nations, we are in arrears. And the President has made this point publicly and is committed to working with the Congress to try to fund our obligations to the United Nations fully. And there are discussions that have been going on over the past several days with various Cabinet members and members of Congress, and we hope that dialogue can continue as the budget process unfolds.
Related, obviously, to that is the agenda of U.N. reform. And the President will talk a bit about the need -- just as we have talked about reinventing government and, in fact, acted upon reinventing government in the United States -- the need for the United Nations to reinvent itself to deal with the -- bureaucracy, to deal with redundancy, and to put itself really in shape for the next era of the U.N.
At the same time, the President talks generally about reform of the U.N. and our commitment to the U.N. and what the U.N. has accomplished. He will talk also about the new agenda. The first 50 years of the U.N. principally was focused on the threats of aggression, traditional threats that the U.N. was founded to address. But there is a new series of challenges. The President has increasingly been talking about the kind of corollary to the integration that is creating prosperity in the world is the forces of disintegration and disarray that are threatening that, and, in particular, a new set of challenges from the terrorists, from nuclear proliferation, from international criminal cartels, nuclear smugglers, et cetera. And the President is determined to elevate the priority of this within the United States government and within the international community. He will have a number of things to say about what we are doing unilaterally and what we can do in concert with our neighbors to deal with these new sets of challenges.
On Sunday, he will also meet bilaterally with the President of Slovenia, President Mandela, and President Meles of Ethiopia, as well as host a meeting Sunday evening with the Prime Ministers of Bangladesh, Denmark, Nepal, and the Presidents of Sri Lanka and Mongolia, the five countries where the First Lady has recently traveled. It will be a short meeting in which he has an opportunity to speak with them.
Let me just very briefly talk about these bilaterals and why he will be meeting with these particular leaders. The President's meeting with Prime Minister Drnovsek of Slovenia. I think it's a very important meeting. This is the forgotten success story of the Former Yugoslavia. We have spent an enormous amount of time with those former states of Yugoslavia where things have broken down. This is a country where progress has been made -- enormous progress since independence. I think the President wants to make clear our respect and appreciation for this important state in Central Europe.
The President will meet with President Mandela. I think he is regretful that he will not be able to make a trip to South Africa before the end of his first term, but wants to take this occasion with President Mandela here to continue their dialogue and renew our deep commitment to the mature partnership that is developing between our two countries and the important role that South Africa is playing in Africa.
Vice President Gore will be going to Africa on December 4th through 6th as part of the binational commission that was set up by the two Presidents to take up a number of bilateral issues, economic and security and other issues among us.
The meeting with President Meles, who is Chairman of the Organization of African Unity, that is the African -- Pan African Organization -- a very prominent, dynamic young democratic leader. The very important focus of that meeting will be our growing concern about Sudan and the terrorist threat from Sudan. Sudan is harboring terrorists now who were responsible for the assassination attempt against President Mubarak. This is a concern not only to the United States, but a concern of the front line states that border on Sudan, and they will be talking about what can be done to try to change Sudan's support for terrorist activity.
Monday morning, the President will leave to fly up to Hyde Park, where he will meet with President Yeltsin. This is the third meeting that they will have this year -- I believe the fifth meeting that they have had since President Clinton was elected. These what used to be extraordinary meetings have become routine and part of a regular dialogue that takes place between the President of the United States and the President of Russia -- a genuine partnership that has grown up between our two countries in many areas.
I would expect there would be a discussion of Bosnia --the status of the peace negotiations, as we head into the proximity talks on October 31. I expect there will be a discussion of Russia's potential participation in an implementation force. As you know, Deputy Secretary Talbott had a team that's been in Russia over the last few days, discussing with the Russians the possible nature of that participation and how we reconcile on the one hand our need and requirement that the implementation force be under NATO command and have a unity of command with the desirability of having Russian participation in one fashion or another in such an implementation force.
I expect that there will be a further discussion of European security and NATO enlargement. The President will explain to President Yeltsin why this process of enlargement is moving forward. It's moving forward in a transparent and a gradual way, but nonetheless moving forward. I also expect there will be some discussion of arms control and nonproliferation issues as well.
There are two other -- on Tuesday he'll fly back from Hyde Park, I believe, late in the afternoon. Obviously Hyde Park is selected as a highly symbolic location for a meeting of the two presidents that evokes the post -- the World War II alliance between our two great countries.
On Tuesday, the President will meet with President Aliyev of Azerbaijan for a brief period of time. The President of Azerbaijan has recently agreed with the consortium of oil companies that are developing the Caspian oil, an extraordinarily important oil reserve; that there should be multiple oil pipelines that move not only north through Russia but also west through Georgia and Turkey. This is a decision -- this is a position strongly urged by the United States on the consortium, on the companies, on President Aliyev. And I think his decision to support that position is one that we are grateful for, and the President wanted to thank him for taking that position. And we believe it is very important that there be multiple pipelines through this region as this enormous energy reserve is developed.
There will be a brief meeting with President Shevardnadze from Georgia, essentially a personal expression of support for a man of great courage.
Also on Tuesday the President will meet with President Izetbegovic and President Tudjman, who will be in New York for the U.N. anniversary. This will be, obviously, a meeting that precedes the proximity talks that will soon take place thereafter. The President will encourage them to bear down, to take this opportunity -- seize this opportunity to reach an agreement in these very, very important negotiations. We'll talk about the federation that we helped to create between the Croats and the Bosnians, and the importance of the continuing solidarity of that federation. We'll talk about our willingness to participate in an implementation if there is a real and genuine peace agreement between the parties.
Finally, the President will meet with Jiang Zemin in New York at the New York Public Library. That meeting will last about an hour and a half on Tuesday afternoon. This is the third meeting between the two Presidents. Previously they met in Seattle, and then Bogor, Indonesia, in connection with the APEC meeting.
There has been, I would say, a slow, steady progress in restoring the relationship with the United States after the Chinese reaction to the granting of a visa to President Li. There have been a number of developments over the last months that we find encouraging -- an invitation of Under Secretary Tarnoff to come to China; a very constructive meeting between Secretary Christopher and Qian Qichen, the Foreign Minister; the quick disposition of the Harry Wu case; the return of Ambassador Li to the United States; and the granting of agrement to Ambassador-designate Sasser. So in a steady and slow way there has been, I think, some progress.
The President will take this opportunity to reiterate to President Jiang the importance that we place on this relationship, the desire that we have for improving the relationship, the strategic view that we have of the relationship, as well as a discussion of some of the problems that exist in the relationship on human rights and nonproliferation and trade. And I expect that President Jiang will have his own strategic view that he will convey as well as, I suspect, his own concerns that he will convey to the President.
Back on the plane Tuesday night -- back here late Tuesday afternoon, after a fairly intense 72 hours.
Q On the Russian situation, is there a problem in the kind of -- what you might accomplish, given the instability, the Kozyrev problem? And at this end, don't you have Congress getting ready to make deep cuts in Nunn-Lugar money and all, the conference committee? This isn't really a way to go into a summit to talk about reform, is it?
MR. BERGER: I think it's inevitable in any two democracies that there will be politics at any time going on at any time the leaders -- domestic politics will be going on, any time the two leaders meet. I think both President Yeltsin and President Clinton have demonstrated a very strong commitment to this relationship. We certainly have demonstrated a very strong commitment to the process of economic reform and democracy.
There, clearly, are voices in Russia which would like to move in a more nationalistic direction. There are voices in the United States that I think would like to move in a more isolationist direction. But I think all the more reason -- all the more reason why the President of the United States and the President of Russia meet now, reaffirm the fundamental importance of this relationship, the historic dimension of how this relationship evolves, and try to deal with the common issues that we face.
Q Well, is the analysis here that Kozyrev is being targeted because he's close to Yeltsin and because he represents reform? And Yeltsin has not hesitated to throw overboard economic reformers to keep the wolves away from him. What's the analysis here about Kozyrev's problems?
MR. MCCURRY: You know, I don't want to comment -- there are reports today of some statements that President Yeltsin made with respect to Kozyrev's tenure, although they were not, I think, definitive in any way. Obviously, there is a campaign going on in Russia for the Duma. That's in and of itself quite a dramatic and extraordinary development that we tend to lose sight of.
Kozyrev, I think, has been a very good interlocutor. I think he's asserted Russian interests strongly in our discussions with him. And it's, obviously, for President Yeltsin to determine the nature of his government, but we will continue to deal with President Yeltsin and with his Foreign Minister.
Q Sandy, the schedule for Hyde Park doesn't show at the end of the talks a joint statement or joint press conference. Why not?
MR. BERGER: I think that was a mutual agreement of the schedulers. I suspect the President will have something to say at the end of the meeting. I think the most important factor here is timing. There's only about three hours for the meeting; that is a very tight schedule. I think there's actually less than that, and I think if you take 45 minutes or an hour for a press conference, it really does cut into the time that they have to do work.
Q Since you're taking the better part of the day, aren't you going to give the impression that the lack of a joint statement or press conference reflects a bit of souring in the relations?
MR. BERGER: No, I don't think so. Again, I suspect the President will have something to say, and I suspect that President Yeltsin will have something. I suspect there will be opportunities for them to talk to the press.
Q Do you feel a solution to the problem of Russian participation in the multinational force in Bosnia can be found before Monday in time for the summit for the two leaders to announce anything?
MR. BERGER: I don't think that this matter will be resolved before Monday, no. It is a difficult issue. There are -- I think there is a desire on the part of Russia to participate in this. There clearly is a desire on the part of the United States to have Russia participate. So we start from a common objective. There are differences in -- I think, in perspectives here, or differences in interests. It is extremely important. The President's made very clear that we will not participate in an implementation force at least with respect to U.S. forces unless it is a NATO-led operation with unity of command that falls under the political control of the NAC. That obviously in and of itself presents some problems of the Russians. There may be ways in which we can deal with their concerns without compromising our fundamental need here.
I think the most important thing is the integrity of the operation. And we don't want more than one chain of command. We don't want dual keys. We want this thing to be as effective as possible. But I think there are a lot of ideas out there, and I think they'll continue to work it. I would not expect it to be solved either, quite honestly, before Hyde Park or at Hyde Park. I think this is a process that will go on.
Q Did Mr. Talbott make any progress in Moscow during his talk? There doesn't seem to be any progress made of the possible -- on the subject.
MR. BERGER: There was no agreement in Moscow. But I think these are complicated subjects. These are very, very complicated subjects as to how Russia is going to relate to this operation as yet not thoroughly completed in terms of its planning. I think to the extent that we have a clear understanding of what their concerns are, and they have a clear understanding of what our needs are, they were useful conversations. And I think there are ideas on the table. So I think it's not resolved, but it's still very much, I think, alive.
Q The announcement last night was that President Clinton will meet with Chirac next week. Will he ask him at that point to limit further --
MR. BERGER: No, I think the announcement was --
Q McCurry dealt with this. It's February.
MR. BERGER: Yes, the meeting that was originally scheduled for November 3rd is being postponed until February.
Q All right. It also says the two presidents will meet next week in New York. I'm just reading it from the --
MR. BERGER: Well, they will be together next week at the United Nations. I suspect in the course of -- I don't know how many Presidents there are going to be there -- 140 Presidents there -- this President has been known to have -- to take somebody by the arm and have a conversation, but there's no meeting planned between Chirac.
Q All right. If they do have a tet-a-tet, will the President put pressure on him to stop any further nuclear tests?
MR. BERGER: Well, we've made our views on the French testing very clear. We regret the testing. The French have made it clear that they're going to proceed with this round of testing. I think our desire now is to get on with the job of getting a comprehensive test ban treaty in place to get a -- the President has made, I think, a very courageous decision for a zero yield, a total comprehensive test. There's been indications the French and the British will go along with that. We need to get the Russians and Chinese on board. That would be a very, very significant achievement. And I thin k that's very much a priority. I suspect it will come up not only -- it will come up, I suspect, with Jiang and with Yeltsin.
Q Was his visit postponed because of --
MR. BERGER: No. No. Nothing was -- it really was a scheduling matter.
Q When you listed some of the good signs in the relationship, you didn't talk about technology. There have been conflicting reports. Could you give us your assessment as you go into this meeting with the Chinese leader how they're behaving or performing regarding your concern about --
MR. BERGER: You mean sales?
MR. BERGER: I don't discern a political pattern here. There have been sales that have gone forward that have been sales that have been slower than we would like. It is not our sense that that is the result of any kind of political decisions. Secretary Brown, as you know, is in China. We're trying to push these projects forward. But I don't have a sense that there has been a political hold on those.
Q Can I follow up on China? Will there be any joint declaration or press conference after the meeting?
MR. BERGER: No.
Q On U.N. finances, the closest U.S. allies even have been criticizing the U.S. for not paying its U.N. bills. The money appropriations bills pending in Congress won't cover even what the U.S. is going to owe this year, much less begin to deal with the arrearages problem. And an awful lot of staff people have been running around for the last two weeks to try to come up with some kind of plan for the President to have in New York to answer the criticism and to show the U.S., in fact, is -- can deliver what the U.S. owes the U.N. Has that produced, in fact, anything new other than a planned commitment the U.S. supports the U.N.?
MR. BERGER: Let me put it back in perspective. We last year paid the U.N. over $2 billion, not including the voluntary contributions of the Department of Defense, which are over a billion dollars. So we have been, I think, a healthy and good-faith contributor to the U.N. There is a funding issue. There's a funding problem. We are short in terms of what we have -- what we need to pay what we owe to the U.N. The President is deeply committed to this.
There have been discussions that have taken place, even over the last few days with various people in the Congress to try to develop a process whereby we can engage with the congressional leadership and appropriators to try to work this problem through. It is a hard problem. And the President is not going to go there with an instant solution. This is not an easy problem in this budget environment. But he is -- just as he said last year that we will meet our obligations, and by and large we have, I think he is committed to doing everything in his power to meet our obligations this year.
Q So all the work in the last two weeks has not come up with an agreement either with regard with the congressional leadership --
MR. BERGER: Well, I mean, it will come as no shock to you that this problem is not going to be solved in 36 hours or a week. We're dealing in a total budget context which is intensely complicated. And we want very much to engage with the relevant congressional appropriators and authorizers to try to develop a process here which will address this problem. There is not a solution, there's not an agreement, there is a commitment on our part to work to achieve one.
Q The President could give no more specific, kind of concrete assurances or schedule or plan --
MR. BERGER: The President can look -- the President can point to the record of the United States over the last 50 years, and even over the last year, in the context of very tough budget times, and I think can say very clearly that we have done pretty well. He is not satisfied and he is not in any sense or any fashion going to indicate that we are not committed to meeting our obligations. He's believes that deeply. But we have to convince the Congress of that.
Q On APEC, what are you going to discuss, and with whom?
MR. BERGER: On AIPAC?
Q You said something about APEC discussions. Do you have any extensive --
MR. BERGER: APEC as in APEC?
Q Not the Jewish one. (Laughter.)
MR. BERGER: Oh. I thought maybe Steve Grossman had just come in. (Laughter.)
I suspect in the meeting with Jiang there will be some discussion of the APEC meeting in Osaka in November, where we hope to take the next step in a very long process of liberalization in Asia. But I don't think it is -- just given the nature of the meetings, I don't think it's a central issue on the agenda.
Q Are you going to reach an accord on CFE and the southern flank before the Yeltsin meeting?
MR. BERGER: There has been some progress in this issue. But I don't, again, expect it will be resolved in Hyde Park, but it will be discussed in Hyde Park.
Q Is there a meeting scheduled in New York with the Ukrainian President Kuchma? Is that going to take place?
MR. BERGER: There's nothing scheduled with President Kuchma. I know that if there's an opportunity, the President would like to see him. But it's a very, very tight schedule, as you can see.
Q Will there be one later on this month here in Washington?
MR. BERGER: I can't give you a specific time, except that you know how highly the President regards President Kuchma and what he has accomplished for Ukraine. I think it's one of the great success stories of the last two or three years.
Q How long is the President's speech going to be, the U.N. speech?
MR. BERGER: I would say it is somewhere 20 to 30 minute speech.
Thank you very much.
THE PRESS: Thank you.
END 2:10 P.M. EDT