THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary (New York, New York) ________________________________________________________________________ For Immediate Release October 23, 1995
PRESS BRIEFING BY MIKE MCCURRY
Hyde Park, New York
12:14 P.M. EDT
MR. MCCURRY: All right, I'm just going to provide a little bit of color for those of you who've got precious little else to occupy yourself right now.
The two Presidents are meeting tete-a-tete in the library of the Roosevelt family home. The house that they are meeting in, for those of you who have not looked at your little brochure, was built 190 -- one, nine, zero -- 190 years ago. The house was enlarged in 1915 by Mrs. Sarah Roosevelt, who was Franklin Roosevelt's mother. Franklin Roosevelt was born upstairs in one of the rooms in the house in 1882. The house is now a national historic site, left virtually as it was when President Roosevelt was last here in 1945 with the furniture, the pictures on the wall, even the books and magazines that are on the tables.
The home is administered by the National Park Service, who the White House compliments for all their help today. And there's also, of course, here the separate Franklin Roosevelt Presidential Library.
As the two Presidents entered the house, President Clinton showed President Yeltsin a lifesized bronze sculpture of Franklin Roosevelt at the age of 29 that was completed in 1911 by a Russian sculptor, Prince Paul Troubetzkoy. You can -- there are probably different ways to transliterate that -- Prince Paul Troubetzkoy, who is the son of a Russian diplomat, if memory serves me right. The artists brother, Pierre, painted a portrait of Sarah Roosevelt, Franklin Roosevelt's mother, which President Clinton also showed to President Yeltsin as they walked into the library.
In the -- where they're now meeting, they are sitting in two high-back leather chairs that were used by Franklin Roosevelt when he was Governor of New York. He always used these chairs -- sometimes used these chairs for his radio addresses. They were delivered from here in Hyde Park. He also sat in these chairs on Christmas Eve when he gave a rendition of the Christmas Carol to his family.
The President -- President Clinton showed President Yeltsin some memorabilia as they walked -- as they gathered for their tete-a-tete in the library. Obviously, for those of you that see the pictures from the photo op, FDR's naval boat cloak was there, the one that he used for some of the meetings that occurred with both Stalin and Churchill during the war.
Q Naval what?
MR. MCCURRY: It's his cloak -- his hat and cloak from the -- that he wore during some of his meetings during World War II and his famous cape, which, of course --
Q Was it the one he wore at --
MR. MCCURRY: -- Roosevelt is famous for. I don't know. I don't have that information here.
The President also showed President Yeltsin a typed memorandum dated November 30, 1943, with FDR's handwritten corrections on it that informed -- officially informed the Soviet government that the date for Operation Overlord had been selected, obviously, informing the Soviet government that the United States and allies had selected a day for the D-Day invasion.
They also showed him a memo dated August 2, 1941, with the President complaining about delays in getting supplies from the United States to Russia and instructing his White House staff to get a move on it -- something presidents are fond of doing.
That's about it. They went out and sat -- I think those of you who have already heard the pool feed, when they went out back and overlooked the valley they sat in two chairs that Franklin Roosevelt and Winston Churchill used to use for some of their conversations during World War II.
The two Presidents will meet for as long as they care to meet now in the Library and then adjourn for their working luncheon. Our understanding is that President Yeltsin will likely speak to the Russian press prior to his departure. And I think President Clinton plans to go to the front entrance of the home upon his departure and have a little session with all of you.
Q What number meeting is this?
MR. MCCURRY: This is I believe the fifth meeting of the two Presidents. Wrong?
Q Wrong --
Q Nine meetings --
MR. MCCURRY: I'll get an official count and give it to you later.
Q What's on the agenda for their talks? What are they --
MR. MCCURRY: I think Tony Lake gave you a very good rundown on that yesterday, but to summarize again, obviously, the current conflict in Bosnia, the status of NATO contingency planning for the implementation force that would enforce the peace if there is an agreement between the parties. President Clinton will review in great detail with President Yeltsin the planning for the talks that begin in Dayton at the end of the month. And he was, I think, more interested or more keen on focusing on the steps necessary at this point to encourage the parties to make peace.
At the moment, as the President suggested the other day, first things first -- we've got to concentrate all of our energies and diplomatic resources in achieving a peace settlement between the parties. And the President intended to focus on that issue at great length. Then there are two other issues that will likely take considerable time -- the status of NATO's plans for expansion, the Partnership For Peace program, NATO's work plan as it goes through 1996 and begins to brief various Partners for Peace on the issues related to NATO expansion. And I guess -- I imagine they will also spend a fair amount of time on Conventional Forces in Europe agreement and the flank limits issue.
Q Why aren't the two leaders holding a joint news conference as they did in several past meetings?
MR. MCCURRY: I stated yesterday we are at -- this is a working meeting between the two Presidents on the fringes of an international gathering, and we are following the same formula that we did in Halifax when the two leaders met, had a photo opportunity and then had separate unilateral press statements.
Q Mike, why aren't Kozyrev and Christopher here?
Q Christopher is here.
MR. MCCURRY: Christopher is here. You would have to ask the Russian delegation about Minister Kozyrev's status.
Q Mike, have they found new site in New York for the meeting with --
MR. MCCURRY: We have an official statement that will come out shortly saying that, due to concern expressed by the Chinese government we have arranged to hold the bilateral meeting between President Jiang and President Clinton tomorrow at the Lincoln Center rather than the New York City Public Library.
Q Is there a problem with Lincoln?
Q What's wrong with having --
MR. MCCURRY: We believe the meeting between the two Presidents is important; it needs to take place as scheduled. And the concern that they expressed on the site was one that we did not take any position on other than say that because of the importance of the meeting, we would arrange a site that was satisfactory.
Q What was the concern?
Q Nuclear cooperation --
MR. MCCURRY: -- the Chinese delegation.
Q -- nuclear cooperation of Iran is getting little mention now. Is it because this isn't the way to handle it?
MR. MCCURRY: That is an issue that both Presidents have instructed the Gore-Chernomyrdin process to address in great detail. They will review the status of that. President Clinton certainly intends to raise the issue and raise the importance of further work on that issue in the context of the Gore-Chernomyrdin Commission.
Q Mike, were the Chinese prepared to cancel the meeting if it was held at the library?
MR. MCCURRY: That's not my understanding. This is a concern expressed at the advance person level. So we are working to arrange it. In fact, we've got -- we'll have a statement out shortly that indicates that.
Q -- (inaudible) --
MR. MCCURRY: -- may have to ask him. He may have had an opportunity to chat with him during one of the receptions over the last day or so. I just haven't had an opportunity to ask him whether they encountered each other last night.
Q Is President Clinton going to take questions from reporters or just make a statement?
MR. MCCURRY: I expect he'll have a short statement and then take a few questions before we depart.
Q Did President Jiang see the exhibit that he objected to when he was at the reception last night?
MR. MCCURRY: I'm sorry, Mark, you may not have heard, but this was apparently a concern expressed by someone at the advance person level.
Q But China has agreed to the Lincoln Center?
MR. MCCURRY: Yes.
Q Where in the library was it supposed to be? What were the surroundings?
MR. MCCURRY: They were -- the meeting was to occur in a part of the library that was not physically close to the exhibit that apparently caused concern to the Chinese side.
Q What was the exhibit?
MR. MCCURRY: It was an exhibit entitled --
Q "What Price Freedom."
MR. MCCURRY: "What Price Freedom" -- that's correct. There may have been a reference in this exhibit to the Tiananmen Square episode in 1989. It is my understanding, but again I direct you to the Chinese delegation for their explanation.
Q -- the lunch menu --
MR. MCCURRY: Yes, I'll get later -- I'll get the lunch menu. That's a good question someone asked. (Laughter.)
I've got the answer on the previous meetings. This is their eighth meeting. Just -- I'll run through them for the record: Vancouver, obviously their first meeting, April 3rd and 4th, 1993; Moscow, January 13-15th, 1994; Washington, D.C., September 27th to 28th, 1994; Moscow, May 9th through 11th, 1995; they met in Tokyo July 10th 1993 on the fringes of the G-7 meeting; and they met July 10th, 1994, on the fringes of the G-7 meeting in Naples; and they met June 17th, 1995, on the fringes of the G-7 meeting in Halifax.
Q What about Budapest, CSCE?
MR. MCCURRY: That's right -- you know, Budapest is not here. David? David Johnson? This is wrong. This is the ninth meeting, because it doesn't have the Budapest CSCE meeting in October of 1994. They met -- yes, they met.
Q Do you know to the extent -- you know, are they meeting one-on-one or a group, do you know?
MR. MCCURRY: They are meeting tete-a-tete with a notetaker on the U.S. side Strobe Talbott, and I believe Rurikov (ph.) is the notetaker on the Russian side. I'll double-check that.
We will -- stay tuned for -- we may provide as we can some additional information after the break here and before the working lunch. So as you hear that they have broken and proceeded to lunch, you may just want to touch base here and see if we have anything further.
Q -- put out the after meeting presidential press statement?
MR. MCCURRY: Yes, he was -- he's just going to have a real quick statement, take a few questions informally at the end. It's not a formal press -- and I would imagine in the neighborhood of 3:30 p.m., 3:45 p.m., something like that.
THE PRESS: Thank you.
END 12:29 P.M. EDT