THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary (New York, New York)
PRESS BRIEFING BY DAVID JOHNSON, DEPUTY PRESS SECRETARY FOR NATIONAL SECURITY AFFAIRS
The Loew's Hotel New York, New York
10:28 A.M. EDT
MR. JOHNSON: Good morning. A couple of you have asked -- not necessarily this morning, but earlier -- for any information we might be able to provide on the President's short courtesy call on United Nations Secretary General, Mr. Boutros-Ghali. It went, in terms of time about his schedule, around 10 minutes.
It began by both of the gentlemen remarking at how significant the day was with the signing of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, the President being the first signor of that document, that it would have some immediate effect in terms of creating a barrier to testing, but also the potential for significant, long-term benefit on our goal of limiting proliferation of nuclear weapons.
The remainder of the discussion was taken up mostly with issues of U.N. business, where the United Nations is being active around the world in order to help countries solve problems. Particular topics of interest were the work in Burundi, in Angola, and the ongoing United Nations mission in Haiti -- that, in particular, where we thought that we had worked in a successful way, first with the mission led by the United States, and then the hand-over to the United Nations and now the United Nations effort there being led by the forces from Canada.
There was also a brief discussion of terrorism, which the President laid out more fully in his speech, and the need for us to use the United Nations as a potential tool to work together to combat terrorism around the world and to secure some of the goals the President laid out in his speech -- in particular, the zero tolerance goal and the no-place-to-hide goal of having no place for terrorists to seek refuge anywhere in the world.
Q Was there any mention of Boutros's future?
MR. JOHNSON: That subject didn't come up. It's clear to the Secretary General the position of the United States, that our decision to seek a new secretary general for the next term is irrevocable, and that the United States believes that we need to move now in order to begin those consultations to find a new secretary general.
Q Has the President ever talked to Boutros-Ghali about his future?
MR. JOHNSON: The Secretary of State was the U.S. official who was asked by the President to convey our views to the Secretary General. There is no doubt in the Secretary General's mind that we will exercise our veto and that we will have a new secretary general.
Q Where did they meet, and were they alone? Originally, the President of the council, of the Assembly --
MR. JOHNSON: Excuse me, we may have confused you, but I'll straighten that out. They did not meet alone, they met with their advisors, including the Secretary of State and the National Security Advisor. I'm unsure of who was on the side of the table with Secretary General.
Following that meeting there was a separate courtesy call on the President of the U.N. General Assembly, the Malaysian perm rep.
Q Okay, so where did the President and et al meet with the Secretary General?
MR. JOHNSON: In the U.N. buildings. I don't have the name of a room for you.
Q How would you characterize the climate, the atmosphere --
Q Did not come up.
MR. JOHNSON: I think those were a good, constructive discussion about the accomplishments of the day and the way the U.N. had worked and some rather significant areas of the world, often under U.S. leadership, in order to accomplish some very important goals.
Q There's -- I hate to say "speculation" without citing where, but I read a lot of things on the plane. There's some speculation that the United States, after all, will agree to some -- to comprise this fight over Boutros -- agree to some extension, some -- of course, it was tried once before, a year's length and he turned it down. But that would be renewed, that he stay a year or so, while the search continues. Is that part of administration thinking?
MR. JOHNSON: It's our belief and our view that we should have a new Secretary General in 1997, the first of the year, and that we are prepared to use our veto power in order to secure that.
Q And besides the Hashimoto and the Saudi, there's no other bilaterals?
MR. JOHNSON: Mike briefed on the plane on this, I'm not sure the pool report has been prepared. But there will be three bilateral meetings: the Hashimoto meeting, which Mike briefed on extensively yesterday; a bilateral with the Saudi Foreign Minister, Prince Saud; and the third one will be a bilateral meeting with the Russian Foreign Minister, Mr. Primakov. The latter two will be still photographers.
They will follow in sequence. It'll be the third one, yes.
Q Which Saudi?
MR. JOHNSON: The Saudi Foreign Minister.
Q And was Primakov added on because of Yeltsin's health, or was that long-scheduled?
MR. JOHNSON: It was not a long-scheduled. It was scheduled, I believe, sometime yesterday following the discussions that the Secretary of State had with him -- but I would not lay it to what you did.
Q NATO expansion?
MR. JOHNSON: This will be an opportunity to talk about European security issues, mostly. That's where the focus is going to be -- European security, NATO-Russian relations and the process of NATO expansion.
Q Anti-missile defenses?
MR. JOHNSON: We expect that to come up, but you know from, I think, some reporting that you, yourself, have done here that that was an issue that we believe we made significant progress on yesterday.
THE PRESS: Thank you.
END 10:35 A.M. EDT