THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary (New York, New York) ________________________________________________________________________ For Immediate Release October 22, 1995
PRESS BRIEFING BY NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER TONY LAKE
The Warwick Hotel New York, New York
1:35 P.M. EDT
MR. MCCURRY: Good afternoon, everybody. What I'd like to do -- there are probably many subjects to cover, but I'd like to start first with the President's National Security Adviser, Mr. Anthony Lake, who will talk a little bit about the context in which the President arrives here in New York and participates in meetings in coming days with the other leaders of nations that he will see.
I'd then like to proceed -- we've got some experts here who can answer questions that you may have about the action that the President took at midnight last night that he referred to in his speech as he laid out an initiative to combat international crime, and specifically international drug trafficking.
Then I will clean up. I can give you a little more detail on his meetings with the Prime Minister of Slovenia and with President Mandela. And we can then take any other subjects, foreign or domestic, that you might be interested in.
So I'll start with great pleasure by introducing the National Security Adviser, Tony Lake.
MR. LAKE: Good afternoon. Let me say just a word at the beginning about the President's speech, And then a word about the meetings that are going to be coming up over the next couple of days.
The President, as you saw, took the opportunity in the speech to urge again United Nations reforms, reforms that are not only, in our view, extremely important for the future of the United Nations but also because those reforms then help us to build the public and congressional base for the support for the United Nations that the President again said today that we intend to meet in terms of our own obligations.
He also wanted in the speech, beyond the reforms, to urge a refocusing. The United Nations has to go beyond the current traditional agenda before it in terms of sustainable development, peace, et cetera, and to concentrate on the very dangerous nexus of the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, of terrorism, of international crime and of drugs.
We think that is very important because it not only is a set of issues that will become increasingly important over the coming years, but because all of us believe that should in the future there be truly terrible incidents, we want to look back on this time and say, yes, we did everything we could both within the United States and to urge other nations to join with us in a common approach to issues that can, because they are international, only be addressed in a common fashion.
The third thing the President was doing in the speech was, again, speaking about American leadership. He was here addressing two audiences -- one was the audience in the room; all those governments who over and over again are anxious to hear that the United States is engaged, the United States will lead on all of the issues that are both international and that affect them directly in terms of their relations with other nations, or whatever. And he was assuring them that, indeed, the United States will do that.
Some will argue that because we have not paid off all of our obligations at the United Nations, therefore our leadership is somehow imperiled in this building. We do not believe so. We do intend to pay them. But I would point out that, in fact, the United States is, as the President said, the largest contributor to the United Nations and, in fact, over FY 1995 we paid more than twice as much to the United Nations as any other government.
But I must say also that this goes beyond, obviously, the United Nations; that as I said in the meetings, for example, this morning with the leaders of both Slovenia and South Africa, that just over and over again on almost every issue that affects them the American role is pivotal. And, indeed, President Mandela, as he initiated a discussion of the issue of the South African debt that they -- at the U.N. that they inherited from the apartheid government, he began by saying, "Mr. President, you are the leader of the democratic world." It's a direct quote. "And what you do on this issue will make a huge difference."
On the upcoming meetings, I'll just say a word about them very briefly. With President Yeltsin tomorrow, this is the third meeting with the President of Russia this year, and the fifth since January 1993. So this is one in a series of regular meetings. It will be a working session.
I think a number of issues will come up. First, Bosnia. This will be an opportunity for the two Presidents to discuss how we can pool our resources and our common efforts in pushing forward at the proximity talks that are coming up at Dayton. The Russians will be sending Mr. Ivanov, who is the Deputy Foreign Minister, to Dayton to work on this. And we're very pleased by that. It's a sign of how seriously they take the importance of moving this process forward.
They will discuss also Russian participation in a peace implementation effort. I think that this will be one in a series of discussions that we will be having with the Russians on this issue. I doubt that the issue will be resolved finally at this meeting, but we think that we can make further progress in discussing Russian possible participation at that meeting. Obviously, I assume the Russians will want to be considering this as they track the progress of the peace talks themselves.
There will be discussion of NATO enlargement. Unlike their last meeting, I think there are not specific issues to be worked through, though the President will reaffirm that this process is going to take place in a gradual and transparent manner, but it is a process that NATO is committed to and it will take place.
As you know, a couple of months ago, I guess, now, NATO made a proposal to the Russians on how to deal with the CFE flank limits issue. And we expect that the Russians will discuss with the President -- that President Yeltsin will discuss with President Clinton a Russian counterproposal or reaction to that NATO proposal at these meetings.
And finally, I would expect they will discuss, as the President did in his speech today, the issue of the safety of nuclear materials. And they will receive what we believe is a rather encouraging report from the work on that in the Gore-Chernomyrdin forum.
Then on Tuesday the President will see President --yes?
Q Tony, can you just take one question on Yeltsin because --
MR. LAKE: Why don't I come back to -- okay, sure. Go ahead.
Q He just gave a speech dealing with many of these issues, particularly Bosnia, where he had harsh words for the role that NATO forces took, and also harsh words for the expansion of NATO. What's the U.S response to Mr. Yeltsin's remarks just a little while ago?
MR. LAKE: I'd rather see his remarks before I respond to them.
Q You still haven't seen them?
MR. LAKE: I got a very quick reform in the car coming over here. We've been in meetings with President Mandela and others, so I haven't seen them yet. But I would respond, I'm sure, with what I just said about NATO enlargement, that it is designed to be a part of the vision that the President has been repeatedly laying out for over two years now of a Europe that is peaceful and democratic and integrated in a way that Europe has never been before.
NATO is a defensive alliance. It is not aimed at anybody else. And as the process of NATO enlargement takes place we look forward to a deeper and deeper dialogue with the Russians -- between NATO and the Russians on security issues in Russia. That is our policy, has been our policy, will be our policy. And it not going to shift because it's the right policy to create a more peaceful Europe.
Q And as for his remarks that there should be a whole new structure and that NATO has no business expanding eastward, you just don't buy that?
MR. LAKE: NATO is one part of what the experts -- I'm not crazy about the word, but what the experts call the architecture of European security. The OSCE is another part of it. Our bilateral relationships are another part of it. But we believe that NATO is an integral part of both the present and future European security arrangements, and we believe very strongly because it is a fact that the expansion of NATO will contribute to a peaceful Europe, not threaten it. And that is the course we will continue to pursue.
Q If I could just follow up on one quick point, this is important. When Yeltsin said --
MR. LAKE: Everything we do here is important.
Q I know, but this is very important.
Q Unlike the CBS -- (laughter.)
MR. LAKE: Right. All right, all right. And then over here, because you're important, too. (Laughter.)
Q That was also important, but this is also.
MR. LAKE: Okay.
Q He says that Russian participation in the peace implementation force, he accepts that, but he wants the U.N. Security Council to be responsible, not NATO.
MR. LAKE: Well, we would and will welcome a United Nations Security Council resolution that would endorse an effort by NATO to implement a peace settlement. In our view -- and it is a view, I think, shared by obviously all of our allies and a majority of the governments involved on Bosnia -- that it is only NATO in a practical sense which can efficiently and effectively implement a settlement. And that is why -- but, clearly, the United Nations endorsing such an effort by NATO would be very useful and we would welcome it.
Q Tony, is Europe door open to Russia? How is NATO's door open to Russia if you want a more peaceful Europe? Why treat Russia differently? You're, strangely enough, using a military alliance to project peace -- this is odd to begin with. But you put Russia on a different plane. If you want Russia in Bosnia and you say NATO is the way to integrate Europe peacefully, why would you put Russia on a different --
MR. LAKE: At the end of the day, we have said and we will continue to say that NATO membership is open to anybody who fulfills the requirements of the Partnership For Peace program. We have said that many times. We will not prejudge here who at the end of the day will be a member and who will not. Some are probably more likely than others, but we will have to see.
In the meantime, it is very important that NATO work with, as you note, on issues such as Bosnia and others; that NATO work with as important a nation as Russia so we can get our business done because Russia plays a very important role in these issues, and to also demonstrate to the Russians that the evolving security arrangements in Europe are inclusive and do include Russia.
Q Tony, do you have a readout yet from Yeltsin's meeting in France yesterday? Are there any new ideas from the French on this, on the French --
MR. LAKE: Well, I know that both the French and the Russian spokesmen described those meetings and I wouldn't have anything, obviously, to add to it.
Q Tony, this afternoon you've talked about the discussions between the President and President Yeltsin about Russian participation in a peace implementation effort. You didn't say peace implementation force.
MR. LAKE: That's right, because I don't like the -- let me refer to it then as the international force, which IFOR is the -- I'm simply avoiding acronyms here. This is an acronymical, not theological discussion. And IFOR is what I'd be referring to, but I wasn't sure that everybody recognized the term.
Q This morning Defense Secretary Perry talked about alternative roles for Russian troops in Bosnia, something other than being involved in peacekeeping. Is it envisioned now that Russian forces, since Yeltsin objects to putting them under the command of NATO, would not be involved in a peacekeeping effort -- troops standing alongside troops -- and be involved in something less? Is that where we're moving on this?
MR. LAKE: First of all, this is an evolving issue. And I certainly cannot speak for the Russian government on this issue. In implementing a peace there are a lot of different roles, some military, some civilian, and we don't want to prejudge now whether the Russians would be contributing only on the military side, only on the civilian side, or both. These arrangements have to be worked out. And so we have to work out what the functions would be not just of the Russians, but any government contributing troops or even civilian personnel, and what the command and control arrangements will end up being with regard to the military effort.
Our view remains very strongly, A, that this has to be a NATO operation; B, that the United States will only participate in a NATO operation; and C, that there have to be clear lines of operational control and there will not be, in this case again, the kind of dual key arrangement that we have seen previously.
Let me go on, if I may, to China. And then we can continue.
This will be the President's third meeting with President Jiang. The President will take the opportunity here to emphasize our policy that we welcome and find useful a strong and prosperous and engaged China. We think that's in the American interest. The President will try to identify with President Jiang common ground on strategic issues and other global issues. There will be a discussion of that. And we also hope that this meeting will help take another step towards the full resumption of the dialogues that were in place before the visit of President Li of Taiwan here, including economic, military, nonproliferation, human rights, other dialogues.
And finally, on Tuesday, the President will meet with President Tudjman and Izetbegovic. He will use that occasion to urge progress at Dayton in the proximity talks, and also, once again to reaffirm personally the President's strong interest in the federation between the two.
Q Do you find any positive elements in what President Chirac was saying yesterday in Paris with regard to resolving this peace implementation impasse in Bosnia, namely to have side-by-side commands with core nations between them, so you would still have a totally separate integrated NATO force side by side with Russia --
MR. LAKE: We think it's very important to avoid future -- letting future small incidents become larger incidents; that there be a unified system of operational control over military operations. There are a lot of ways to do that, but splitting things up, especially in an area where we are trying to bring the whole area and region together is probably not for practical reasons a useful approach.
Q You referred to some encouraging news from Gore and Chernomyrdin, but you were uncharacteristically vague. What have they come up with --
MR. LAKE: Uncharacteristically vague, yes. But characteristically important.
Q What's the state of play in particular on Russian contracts with Iran? And do you expect the two Presidents to get specific with that issue?
MR. LAKE: What I'm referring to is a lot of work that has been done in trying to help the Russians secure more fully their various civilian and military nuclear facilities. This is an issue within Russia. On the Iranian issue, this has been an issue that has been under discussion by Gore-Chernomyrdin. I'm sure it will come up, and I'm sure the President will reaffirm our position. But as you know, we have not had a breakthrough on that issue yet.
Q Mr. Lake, with important U.S. issues at stake with Cuba and North Korea and Iran, is there a purpose for an administration official to call them "dog nations"? Was that a mistake?
MR. LAKE: Call them what?
Q "Dog nations" today on Air Force One -- was that too flippant?
MR. LAKE: No, I was there. Nobody called them "dog nations." No. A flippant administration official on background did say that the dog -- this was with regard to the invitations -- that the dog ate the invitations. He was not calling them --and any attack on a dog was an attack on an American dog -- (laughter) -- not a foreign dog because none of us would be undiplomatic as to do that. (Laughter.)
Q "Soviet jewelry," right? (Laughter.)
Q On Iran, did the President talk to Mandela at all about South Africa's dalliances with Iran?
MR. LAKE: No, the issue didn't come up.
Q Why not? I mean, if you're so concerned about nuclear cooperation and other cooperation with Iran and every other nation in the world, why didn't you raise it here?
MR. LAKE: Well, it was a meeting of, what, maybe 25 minutes or so. There were a number of issues to discuss. We have discussed that issue with the South African government. They know our view on it. And it just didn't come up. I wouldn't take that as a sign of a lack of our interest in that issue. You heard the President's speech today. You've heard us many times about Iran and the threat that it poses.
Q And Mandela --
MR. LAKE: It's true. Yes, it is true in a more general context that President Mandela reasserted very strongly South Africa's commitment to nonproliferation and responsibility on nuclear issues. And I'd take that as a good sign.
Q But they haven't agreed to go along with you on Iran, though. They disagree with you on --
MR. LAKE: No, as I said, the issue didn't come up.
Q What issue did come up with Mandela? What issues came up with Mandela?
MR. LAKE: I think -- why don't we save that for the end.
Good. Thank you.
Q Is the President still planning a meeting with Mr. Yeltsin in the spring in Moscow?
MR. LAKE: Presumably.
THE PRESS: Thank you.
END 1:50 P.M. EDT