THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary (New York, New York) ______________________________________________________________________ For Immediate Release September 24, 1996
PRESS BRIEFING BY MIKE MCCURRY
U.S. Mission to the United Nations New York, New York
12:12 P.M. EDT
MR. MCCURRY: The President just concluded a very engaging discussion with Prime Minister Hashimoto, continuing the Ryu-Bill partnership that we've come to know and love.
They did a number of -- across a wide variety of interests, of mutual interest to both countries. The President thanked the Prime Minister of Japan for his support on Iraq. They reviewed the current situation in Iraq. The President said that he is encouraged by some of the things we are seeing on the ground in Iraq, but both the Prime Minister and the President agreed that they should remain in touch on that subject.
The President also expressed appreciation for Japan's support of reconstruction in Bosnia. They reviewed the recent elections, talked a little bit about the path that lies ahead; reviewed briefly North Korea and the status of matters there.
The President also expressed appreciation to the Prime Minister for the sensitivity with which the Prime Minister is addressing the question of Okinawa and the U.S. Marine presence there. They reviewed the recently completed two-plus-two talks. The President committed to dealing with the question of U.S. bases there in a sensitive manner, reflecting the Japanese concerns, but in a way that would maintain operational readiness for U.S. forces that are on a very critical deployment in the Asian Pacific.
There was a brief discussion of economic issues. The President expressed concern about the areas of insurance and civil aviation; said that both sides needed to work hard to resolve the issues that were still under consideration in both those talks. And the Japanese expressed concern about supercomputers and access to markets, as we had expected them to raise.
One light moment at the beginning: The President conveyed the best wishes of Secretary Kantor, and explained that Secretary Kantor had just recently completed negotiating debate arrangements with the Dole campaign. The President said to the Prime Minister that Secretary Kantor felt he had been very well prepared for tough negotiations by being U.S. Trade Representative. The President said to the Prime Minister, "you've likely changed American political history because no one will ever negotiate presidential debates again unless they've first been the trade negotiator."
Q Did that just break up the -- (laughter.)
MR. MCCURRY: Both delegations, as did you, erupted in spontaneous laughter.
Q Can we have a -- break? (Laughter.)
MR. MCCURRY: Okay. We've allowed from some simultaneous translation now.
Q -- missed his calling.
MR. MCCURRY: The President is now meeting with Prince Saud.
Q How long did they meet for, do you know?
MR. MCCURRY: They met approximately 25 minutes, plus the five minutes or so of pool sprays at the beginning; so about a half an hour.
Q Do you know what number that was on their meetings --
MR. MCCURRY: I believe that was their third meeting. They met in Santa Monica. They met at the state visit in Tokyo. They met in Lyon. So this is they're fourth meeting. I can't remember -- Sharm el-Sheikh?
David Johnson, if you're over there, you can correct the record for the filing center.
Q Did they discuss increasing tensions between North and South Korea?
MR. MCCURRY: The question is did they discuss the increasing tensions between North and South Korea. There was a review of the situation in the Koreas, both sides expressed the need for efforts to minimize tensions; and, of course, expressed concern about incursions by the north in violation of the armistice.
Q Did either one think that this situation was growing larger or --
MR. MCCURRY: Both sides agreed that the situation should continue to be monitored carefully.
Q Any other trade issues?
MR. MCCURRY: No, those are the only other -- the two issues that we raised and the issue of supercomputers raised by the Japanese side.
Q Did Hashimoto indicate he may be up for election soon back home?
MR. MCCURRY: The question was, did the Prime Minister indicate that he may be up for election soon back home. There was some discussion of that, but I'd prefer to leave to the Japanese side any discussion of the domestic political situation in Japan.
Q Did they discuss the domestic political situation --
MR. MCCURRY: Just in passing, the President mentioned that because he started -- he opened the meeting with a reference to Ambassador Kantor, he then said that -- he reviewed briefly his own election campaign, said that he would be back on the campaign trail even today.
Q Did he give any assessment to the Prime Minister as to where the --
MR. MCCURRY: The question was, did he provide any assessment. None that is any different from the spin that you get from various representatives of the President from time to time.
Q Told him he was going to win?
MR. MCCURRY: No, they didn't get into any detailed conversation at that point, having a great deal of important business to transact.
These are McCurry-withering questions from Miklaszewski, from those of you who are wondering what's going on here.
With the meeting underway now with Prince Saud, the President obviously expects to review the situation in Iraq, inquire about the status of the investigation in the Khobar Towers bombing in which U.S. and Saudi law enforcement personnel have been working closely. And they will review the Middle East peace process and efforts to continue dialogue between the Israelis, the Syrians, and also continue the discussions between the Israelis and Palestinians.
Q Will you be giving us a readout after that meeting?
MR. MCCURRY: I'll try to do a readout on that, depending on what kind of time we have before we have to depart here.
Q Prime Minister --
MR. MCCURRY: Foreign Minister. Prince Saud is Foreign Minister.
The President will also greet Yevgeniy Primakov, the Russian Foreign Minister, in a short while. Obviously, the President will convey his best wishes to President Yeltsin for good health, but they will spend most of their time on the subject of NATO.
The President will be following up on a conversation that Secretary Christopher had with his counterpart yesterday. They made good progress in that discussion on the question of the application of the antiballistic missile treaty to theater missile defenses. As you've seen in some reports today, the President will express appreciation for the progress they have made on that issue. And then they will turn their attention to the issue of NATO, Russia's relationship with NATO, and the future of NATO as we build that bridge into the global order of the 21st century.
Q Any change on whether we can now have a photo opposition?
MR. MCCURRY: Claire Shipman, raising the issue of whether we'll have a photo opportunity. We'll have a stills only photo opportunity. The President is meeting in this case with the Foreign Minister as we continue our ongoing consultations with the Russian Federation on the issues related to NATO. And that's the arrangement we had made with the Russian Federation -- stills only.
Any other questions, issues? Your pool is asleep at the switch and ready to go back to their naps.
MR. MCCURRY: Asleep and comatose. All right, that's it. I'll try to get one brief readout for the pool on the two bilats that are underway now, and we will catch up with you in New Jersey.
Q -- speech early today?
MR. MCCURRY: He started his -- they had planned for a lengthier opening ceremony, and they were ready to go, and the President saw no reason to hold up the General Assembly. So he marched ahead with his speech, and we've been smartly one half-hour ahead of time today.
Q It's the start of your downfall.
MR. MCCURRY: Some of us, we're not quite sure what to with the fact that we are ahead of time today, but we're coping.
Anything else? Hearing none, this session is adjourned.
END 12:22 P.M. EDT