THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary (Lyon, France) ________________________________________________________________________ For Immediate Release June 28, 1996
PRESS BRIEFING BY DEPUTY ASSISTANT TO THE PRESIDENT FOR ECONOMIC POLICY AND G-7 SUMMIT SHERPA DAN TARULLO
G-7 Filing Center Lyon, France
7:05 P.M. (L)
MR. MCCURRY: Let me once again present Dan Tarullo who will brief on the session just concluded. I will then give you a little preview of some of the President's thoughts for the dinner that he will participate in this evening. And we will basically then call it a day. Dan will give a very short readout on the dinner to your pool this evening, but we plan no further briefings on this. And I have to get Mr. Tarullo out in about 15 minutes, so we'll make this brief.
MR. TARULLO: It's a brief briefing on one session. It's only been one session since I talked to you last. This was the global issue session which, as you recall, is new to this summit. It pulls together the issues that fall between economics and traditional foreign policy.
This afternoon the leaders dealt with crime, with terrorism a bit again -- although, as you know, last night, that was the major subject of dinner -- with United Nations reform, and development with environment issues, which turned out to be the major subject of the discussion. There was also a little bit of discussion of the nuclear summit follow-up.
As I said, the principal discussion was about the environment. I would say it took probably an hour of the, roughly, hour and a half session. And I'll say a few words about that in a moment.
I should mention that there was a bit more talk about terrorism. President Clinton discussed the drugs and crime agendas as well. He, in particular, talked about the 40 recommendations which the leaders are all obviously in favor of and which I anticipate will be endorsed in the Chairman's Statement tomorrow.
He indicated the ways in which some of those recommendations can be used to fight terrorism, as well as fighting crime, as well as fighting drug trafficking. He proposed, and he was certainly seconded by a number of the leaders, that the implementation of these had to proceed apace. He indicated his intent to focus on this issue consistently between now and the Denver summit next year.
I think that was it on crime. Yes, there was some discussion as well, I think, of the U.S. efforts against drug trafficking generally. One or two other leaders commented on the importance of the investment that the United States had been willing to make in the fight against drug trafficking, and indicated their belief that that needed to be done by other countries as well.
Now, on the environment. This issue was scheduled as one of the five to be discussed. As I say, it ended up to be the major part of the discussion. What was probably most interesting about it was that clearly the leaders were off of their talking points rather quickly and speaking from experience. There were various discussions of environmental issues involving the Great Lakes, the Caspian Sea, the Mediterranean Sea, Botswana, rain forests, and the Antarctic.
It may be that some other sherpa was briefing his guy better than I was briefing my guy, but we didn't have talking points on all that stuff in the President's materials, and so my strong suspicion is it was coming from their own experiences. It certainly was the case for the President.
Some of the things that emerged from the discussion were, I think, basically a high-level political focus on the various climate -- excuse me, various environmental negotiations that are coming up next year: the review of the Rio Summit on Biodiversity, the climate change convention negotiations that will also be occurring next year, and a number of others as well. There was some considerable interest in continuing contacts among the eight between the sessions of the summit; I think some sense that there was a coordinated need both to push compliance with existing agreements, which is a U.S. priority, and also to lay the groundwork for successful negotiations of new agreements next year.
Among other points the President made was the importance of standing firm for environmental protection at home. He gave some indication of his belief that the last couple of years had entailed a significant political discourse in the United States about the worth of environmental protection; indicated his belief that his position winning out, that the public at large expected environmental protection and supported efforts to maintain environmental protection at home.
This a number of leaders applied to international environmental agreements as well, and there was a good deal of discussion about how, in practical terms, some choices can be made, some assistance can be generated -- excuse me, directed towards developing countries in such a way as to promote sustainable environmental policies, an actually fairly, again, non-talking-point-oriented discussion on the relative value of legal incentives, legal disincentives, and legally binding instruments. It was more technical, and more technically competent, than you might have expected.
On U.N. reform, there was some discussion of a follow-up to the Halifax agenda. I would say the general view was that there had been some progress in the year since Halifax, but not nearly enough; that there are still a number of practices within the various U.N. agencies and the U.N. system itself, which are wasteful. A couple of leaders indicated things that the U.N. is still doing, which in their view are a tad on the anachronistic side. For example, the decolonization committee, which apparently only deals with one colony in the world now.
There was also some discussion of why it was necessary -- not discussion, but another example, of why it was felt useful for the U.N. to develope a large report on high-speed trains experience in Japan to deliver to poor sub-Saharan African countries, which are unlikely in the near future to be putting in high-speed rail systems.
On the nuclear safety summit follow-up, there was -- it was actually quite a brief discussion. To the degree there was a focus, it was on the program to combat -- prevent and combat illicit trafficking in nuclear materials.
Let's see, I think that's probably it.
Q Any discussion of Boutros-Ghali?
MR. TARULLO: None.
Q What about the President's plans to bring up Lebed's remarks about foreign culture and religious sects that he wants to ban from Russia?
MR. MCCURRY: We're checking now with Secretary Christopher to see if that may have arisen in any discussion he had with Foreign Minister Primakov. If it is not raised in tonight's working dinner, the President will mostly likely inquire about that in his bilateral meeting with Prime Minister Chernomyrdin tomorrow.
Q What is the President's general attitude, having read these remarks?
MR. MCCURRY: Well, he's heard of these remarks, and they, of course, cause the United States concern. We will seek some sort of clarification because the remarks as they've been reported do not seem consistent with freedom of expression and tolerance of religious diversity that one would expect in an emerging democracy.
Q Was there any news on Yeltsin's health and these rumors that are going on?
MR. TARULLO: News on his health?
MR. MCCURRY: The only information available to us at that point is the statement, public statement, that you've all seen, Chief of Staff Ilyushin made recently in Moscow. We have no further information beyond what has been publicly reported by the Russian Federation.
Q What was Prime Minister Chernomyrdin's contribution to these discussions and how was he received?
MR. TARULLO: As you know, from the earlier briefing, I can't attribute specific things to him. Let me just characterize his participation in general, which is that he was actually quite engaged. He commented on a number of issues that were raised -- the various global issues. I think that it wouldn't be a breach of the rules to indicate his general supportiveness for a lot of the efforts within this special session.
I will take note that at one point, a colleague of mine who is fluent in Russian, overheard the Prime Minister saying under his breath that, you know, he had no preparation on this topic so he would just go ahead and speak on it. And it was actually quite an eloquent presentation. So I think that what he actually displayed is he knows a good deal about a lot of these issues.
Q About the environment?
MR. TARULLO: The environment, yes.
Q Either today or last night did the leaders go into any detail, point-by-point detail on the 40 points? For example, one of these talks about establishing a central authority for terrorism -- what does that mean?
MR. TARULLO: The President talked today in -- he didn't go down point by point, but he talked about a number of the categories and emphasized some of his concerns. There wasn't discussion, though, of what does X mean or what does Y mean.
In fact, one of the things you'll probably note if you've now seen the set of recommendations is they are generally technical. They are not big picture things. They were not intended to be. The whole purpose of this exercise from last year to this year was to get beyond generalities and get to specific stuff which would matter on the ground.
Q Yesterday when the terrorist statement was put out we were told that when Chernomyrdin arrived today he would make it a P-8 statement. Did that occur? In other words, has Russia now subscribed to the statement issued yesterday on terrorism?
MR. TARULLO: Yes, I'm told that he made an arrival statement endorsing it. All I can tell you is the indications we've had from our Russian colleagues have been that they are extremely supportive. That wasn't discussed specifically in the meeting, though.
MR. MCCURRY: I've got to let Dan go. Let me give you a brief preview of the President's intentions for this evening's working dinner before he and the spouses go off to the reception and the fireworks.
There was one discussion from this afternoon that was held over until this evening; they will discuss AIDS and infectious diseases with Prime Minister Prodi leading that portion of the discussion. They didn't get to that item this afternoon. They will pick that up at dinner tonight. And, of course, the President will comment on the infectious diseases initiative that the Vice President announced on June 12th in his comments on that portion.
They also will have a general discussion on geopolitical issues, the Middle East peace process. There will be an opportunity for Prime Minister Chernomyrdin to reflect on some of the issues that have been addressed prior to his arrival. Certainly there will be discussion of the direction of market economic reforms, the facilitations by the IMF of economic change in Russia, and a general discussion on those issues. And then the President will lead a discussion about the Middle East peace process in which he plans to reiterate many of things that have been said publicly by U.S. officials on the peace process itself.
That's this evening's dinner. I'm giving you the readout on the dinner now so you can all hopefully have some dinner yourselves. And we will -- Dan will make contact with the pool after the dinner and point out anything that didn't happen that we had anticipated happening.
He will -- the President will describe some of Secretary Christopher's contacts with President Mubarak after the Arab summit, his discussions with Prime Minister Netanyahu. He will stress the need to see what direction develops in the peace process as the parties stay engaged on those issues that are outlined in the dialogue certainly between the Israelis and the Palestinians. He will assess the prospects for the Syrian track. Most of that will be familiar with those of you who have covered the process closely. The President will also likely point out the need to remain firm in calling for complete compliance with U.N. Security Council resolutions with respect to Iraq, particularly in light of the troubles that Mr. Ekeus and UNSCOM have experienced most recently.
Beyond that he was also scheduled to do a discussion about Iran, but I gather from the briefing we had earlier that a substantial portion of that conversation may have occurred in part at lunch.
That's the evening program.
Q Lebed's appointment, his demeanor, the junking, the cashiering, the sacking of so many officials by Yeltsin -- does the President see any need and will he use this occasion to get some reaffirmation that the guy he is backing so avidly is an unswerving reformer?
MR. MCCURRY: The President has often sought from those who have dialogue at high levels with the Russian Federation, and certainly in his own conversations and communications with President Yeltsin, confirmation that the direction of reform remains focused on those changes that will bring greater market economics, greater political liberalization, enhanced human rights and political freedom and more democracy to the people of Russia. There will be nothing inconsistent about that in his discussions with Prime Minister Chernomyrdin. He looks forward to an assessment of -- from Prime Minister Chernomyrdin -- about the current political situation in Russia, but it clearly is a vibrant and dynamic political chemistry that reflects the reality that a presidential election is days away.
Q On another subject, what can you say now that you couldn't say earlier and we haven't heard much about, about Marceca taking the Fifth Amendment today?
MR. MCCURRY: I gather that the White House has been dealing with that. There is a statement from Mr. Fabiani that's available. The President heard briefly about it and expressed his disappointment that someone who once worked at the White House would not be fully cooperative with legitimate inquiry, posing legitimate questions that need answers.
Q Who is this?
MR. MCCURRY: Marceca, Helen.
Q Mike, since, as Dan said, these are meant to be specific measures, not just generalities, are you going to be able to provide any more detail for us on what these 40 mean in real world?
MR. MCCURRY: We had Joan Spero here earlier. The Washington Post needs a little more detail on the list of 40.
Thank you, everybody. And that's -- we will call it quits here for this evening. As I said, the only thing I anticipate, absent any breaking news, is a readout to the pool.
Q Menu tonight?
MR. MCCURRY: The menu for this evening's dinner. We will see if we can get someone from the pool to retrieve that and make that available. Maybe in some of the background -- is this the dinner they're doing the collection of three-star chefs, or was that last night?
Okay, thank you all. We'll see you tomorrow.
END 7:21 P.M. (L)