THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary (Manila, Philippines) ________________________________________________________________________ For Immediate Release November 24, 1996
PRESS BRIEFING BY MIKE MCCURRY, AMBASSADOR WINSTON LORD, AND SENIOR DIRECTOR FOR EAST ASIAN AFFAIRS FOR THE NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL, SANDY KRISTOFF
Filing Center Westin Hotel Manila, Philippines
4:55 P.M. (L)
MR. MCCURRY: Good evening, everyone. Our purpose right now is to catch up on some of the bilateral meetings the President has had. I'll start by saying he's had, both with the government of Japan and the Republic of Korea now, very constructive and productive meetings. First, a 45-minute meeting with Prime Minister Hashimoto, and then a meeting that lasted almost an hour with President Kim. We'll be happy to talk about those meetings, give you a little more on the China bilateral if you're still interested in that.
I'd like to start first by reading a joint press release that is being issued simultaneously by the United States and by the Republic of Korea, following President Clinton's meeting with President Kim.
Point one: The Presidents of the Republic of Korea and the United States reaffirmed that the agreed framework will be implemented and also reconfirmed their shared position that they will continue to pursue the four-party meeting.
Point two: Both sides reaffirmed their strong support for the four-party meeting and decided to continue to urge the North to accept this proposal based on the assessment that the meeting is all the more necessary in light of the current situation on the Peninsula.
Point three: The two leaders called upon the North to take acceptable steps to resolve the submarine incident, reduce tension, and avoid such provocations in the future.
Therein ends the joint press release, and maybe we can issue that as a separate piece of paper, though. It might make life easier.
Q Did China agree to those four-party talks?
MR. MCCURRY: I'll have Ambassador Lord tell you more about that, the very productive discussion of the four-party talks in the discussion first of the day between President Clinton and President Jiang Zemin.
Why don't I turn it over to -- my two briefers are Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs, Ambassador Winston Lord; and Sandy Kristoff, who I think you all know -- Senior Director for Asian Affairs on the National Security Council staff. And they can tell you, walk through more and I'll be available, too.
Why don't you do both meetings and we'll start -- maybe work backwards and do the Korean bilateral and then the Japanese bilateral.
AMBASSADOR LORD: Let me just set the scene briefly and my colleague may wish to add some details. On the Korea meeting, the two Presidents met for roughly an hour. As President Kim said, we believe this is sort of the sixth summit meeting they've had in various cities.
You've heard the press release. You might see if I can get a copy of that to refer to when I'm talking. But basically it affirms the solidarity of the alliance, reaffirms the commitment of the two governments to maintaining KEDO and the nuclear freeze as well as the four-party process, but also calls upon the North Koreans to take appropriate steps to reduce tensions.
Again, the controlling language is what's in the press statement, not my paraphrasing, so please refer to the press statement, not my paraphrasing. The point is that this meeting did underline the solidarity of the alliance. And the focus, really, of the entire meeting was on the security situation. There was not time to get to economic issues; they remain extremely important, both bilateral and the APEC meeting, but given the seriousness of the situation on the Peninsula, the two Presidents decided to concentrate on that subject.
The President deplored the recent submarine incident by the North Koreans. He also reaffirmed -- and it's reflected, of course, in the joint press release -- the importance of continuing to implement the agreed framework in the nuclear freeze and to keep after the four-party talks.
By the way, someone asked about the Chinese attitude. A few days ago, the Chinese made more explicit than ever before that they would participate in four-party talks if these were to take place. They've generally supported this proposal, but they've now confirmed they'd participate if it actually takes place.
Q Will they --
AMBASSADOR LORD: Why don't we -- let me just get through it and then we'll go to the questions. I'll be brief.
President Kim described in some detail the submarine incident and its aftermath and the seriousness of it. And the only other thing I have on the Korean meeting was that each side was meeting with the Chinese President during the course of the day, and President Kim explicitly welcomed the improvement he's noted in U.S.-Chinese relations, and both sides welcome the constructive Chinese role in the Korean issue.
I'll go to Japan in just a minute, but first let me see whether my colleague would like to add some themes on the Korean thing. This meeting was preceded by the Japanese meeting, so you had President Ramos, then the Chinese President Jiang, then Prime Minister Hashimoto, and the final meeting was the one I just discussed, with President Kim.
This meeting lasted roughly 45 minutes. It's clear that these two are getting more and more comfortable with each other. There was mutual congratulations on their election successes. There was bantering on other subjects, so we can give you more color if you like. But it was a very good meeting. It essentially covered both the bilateral relationship and some important regional security issues.
Indeed, they opened up on the Korean situation and had a general review of that situation on the Peninsula. And President Clinton expressed again the importance of maintaining the nuclear freeze and the KEDO arrangement, as well as the four-party talks. And they all agreed on the absolute essentiality of solidarity among the three countries -- namely, Japan, South Korea, and the United States.
On the security front, both agreed that the security ties are in very solid shape, particularly in the wake of the President's trip last spring. More generally, the partnership is in strong shape and they reaffirmed that, the importance of it and the security ties to the region and the world. Indeed, the President said, the security relationship is absolutely critical to the whole future of the region.
There was a mutual determination to conclude successfully the SACO process. This has been going on a year. It's the renewing of the Okinawa base presence with a view toward consolidation and reducing intrusiveness while maintaining our operational capabilities in the region. And Secretary Perry will be visiting there next week to try to bring that to a conclusion, although we'll always be discussing our security ties, of course.
Also, in the wake of the joint declaration during the President's trip is the review of our guidelines of how we operate together in various contingencies and even more intense consultations on various regional and global issues.
The economic dimension was, of course, a very important part of the meeting. They talked about APEC and the importance of this organization and moving it further forward in this leaders meeting, and the commitment of both Japan and the U.S. to realizing a genuine liberalization in the information technology agreement area. And they both are very strongly in favor of that.
On the bilateral economic front, they agreed that the framework has worked well. You're familiar with the various agreements and the progress that has been made there. And this progress should continue, they agreed, and that will mean we've got to continue to work at issues. There's no room here for complacency. The President emphasized, and Prime Minister Hashimoto agreed that there could be no backsliding, that agreements that have already been reached must be faithfully implemented.
The President made the point that we've got to have a solid economic relationship because this is one of the underpinnings of the overall strategic relationship with Japan, which, in turn, is crucial for the region and for the world.
The President put particular emphasis, at least in the short-term in terms of bilateral economic issues, on the insurance question and the need to reach an agreement on the agreed schedule of December 15. He also mentioned as being very important civil aviation, which has been going to higher levels for negotiations.
There was brief reference to the common agenda where we cooperate on a whole range of environment and other issues around the world. And finally, both sides expressed their determination and desire to have as constructive relationships with China as we can, and to maintain close consultation on that issue as well as other ones of mutual interest.
MS. KRISTOFF: I think I would add just three points -- the meeting between the President and the Prime Minister really was a reaffirmation or a refreshing of the April meeting in Tokyo, the state visit where we put out the security declaration and laid out the structure for the economic issues over the course of the next six months.
Second, there was a very warm and personal expression of gratitude for the service of Ambassador Mondale in Tokyo and his extraordinary personal efforts to improve the relationship during his tenure there. And then, I think as Win mentioned at the end, a discussion between the two on the importance of relations with China and that it is important for the U.S. and China to have stability in its relationship, and that that is not in any way a shifting of a focus from the U.S.-Japan relationship, a lessening of our interest in that relationship and an overemphasis on China.
Q By acceptable steps, do the United States and Korea believe that North Korea has to apologize for the submarine incident? Is that a critical factor, the apology?
AMBASSADOR LORD: First of all, let the statement speak for itself. Acceptable steps, obviously, is of a nature that encompasses many steps that could be taken. But we are on firm agreement that given the provocative that has been realized by the submarine incident that there must be steps taken by the North to improve the atmosphere so that we can have a more stable situation on the Peninsula.
Q Does the President of South Korea still expect an apology? Does he still demand an apology?
AMBASSADOR LORD: Well, in the first place, I won't speak for the Koreans, they will have to speak for themselves. But we have spoken together in this statement, so I would refer you to this statement.
Q The word apology is not in your statement?
AMBASSADOR LORD: I refer you to the statement.
Q Could you give some examples of acceptable steps?
Q Did the Chinese offer to actually get involved in trying to encourage the North Koreans to participate?
AMBASSADOR LORD: Well, I think -- to get the North Koreans to participate in the four-party talks, you mean?
AMBASSADOR LORD: Well, again, I don't like to speak for other governments. But there's no question the Chinese, number one, not only have supported the idea of North-South dialogue as a basic principle, but they've now confirmed that they would participate in a four-party process if it takes place. The Chinese have always said that the North must talk to the South; it's not realistic that they can just talk to us. They want to solve the future of the Peninsula.
The Chinese also favor the maintenance of the nuclear freeze and the agreed framework. They also believe the armistice should be maintained until there's a peace agreement worked out by the two Koreas. So they've been very supportive. I don't know and it wouldn't be appropriate for me to tell you exactly what they're saying to the North Koreans, but we have every reason to believe that they're encouraging them in these constructive directions.
Q Getting back to China, already human rights activists are saying that this is a bad idea, that the visit should not go forward because the Chinese continue to commit human rights abuses. What's the response of the U.S.?
AMBASSADOR LORD: Well, we, of course, respectfully disagree. We share the concern of these groups for the human rights situation in China. It was a major topic on the agenda today. I don't know of any other country in the world that takes this issue up more regularly and at high levels with the Chinese than the United States. We will continue to do so. As you know, the Secretary of State has recently been in China and it was a major part of his agenda with all three leaders that he met.
So we will continue to pursue this. The President underlined that again today. We have a very broad agenda with the Chinese -- very important issues. And we're going to pursue this, but there are many others we have to pursue. And the President believes that these high-level visits and the envisaged state visits are the way to push forward process across a broad front.
Q Can I just follow up on that? So what you're saying is that basically he thinks that the whole relationship is more important than just human rights issues?
AMBASSADOR LORD: No, I'm not going to start -- no, you're saying that, I'm not saying that. I am saying that human rights is very important. So is peace on the Korean Peninsula, nonproliferation, trade and many other issues. And we're going to press all these issues. And we believe that regular, high-level dialogue is the most effective way to make progress on all these issues, including human rights. And I just made it very clear that the President once again underlined the importance of this subject. We are not pleased with the situation in China with respect to human rights. We're making that clear and we'll continue to make that clear.
Q Did the President talk to President Kim about contingency plans for future incidence of the type that occurred during the submarine case? And did he express any of the disappointment that we hear so widely in the State Department and elsewhere that the South Koreans shot to death each of the crew members that they came upon?
AMBASSADOR LORD: First of all, they did not discuss contingency plans. That's not the appropriate setting for that. Obviously, they reaffirmed our general solidarity, the need for the closest consultation, the need for vigilance at deterring future acts, the fact that North Korea should take steps to reduce tensions, the fact that these kind of acts shouldn't be repeated. So the general framework that you're asking about was certainly discussed, but not specific contingency plans.
With respect to the incident, as I said, President Kim did describe in some detail not only the submarine incident, but the aftermath, including pursuing of the commandos and infiltrators. Again, I'll let you go to the South Koreans, but I think it's fair to say that he did say, among other things, that they had hoped to capture these people alive and that was their intention. But given the resistance and the killing of innocent civilians and military soldiers, it turns out that they only were able to take one alive, but they would have preferred to capture them alive.
Q If I could just follow up on that a moment -- when you said that the South Koreans have agreed to go ahead with the agreed framework and with the four-party talks, did they suggest that some sort of gesture from the North must take place first before they can go ahead with that implementation?
AMBASSADOR LORD: Well, the fact is that all these things are important. It is important that tensions be reduced by steps taken by the North Koreans. And it's important and in the self-interest of both South Korea and the United States that the nuclear freeze be maintained, that KEDO be implemented and that the four-party talks remain on the table.
Q The question is, did they link the two? Did one have to happen first?
AMBASSADOR LORD: I think the statement and what I've just said speaks for itself.
Q In previous meetings that the President has had with the Chinese President, he's raised reluctantly individual cases of human rights violations in China. Did the President raise any individual human rights case today?
AMBASSADOR LORD: I responded to that at a previous briefing. The Secretary raised specific cases when he was there just a few days ago. The President talked about the importance of this issue and they went on at some length and he referred to our very specific concerns, including what the Secretary had raised in China. So, in that sense, he was referring to specific cases, but in that way and not in a more specific way.
I think you have to keep clear that we raise human rights in every meeting. We sometimes raise specific names; we sometimes pass lists; we always underline the importance of it. But this is the way it was handled in this meeting.
Q What was the reasoning for the President not naming specific individuals?
MS. KRISTOFF: If I could, it was quite clear in the President's comment to Jiang and in the way that he pointedly referenced Secretary Christopher's meetings in Beijing -- it was quite clear, therefore, that he was encompassing the specific cases. And I don't think there was any misunderstanding on either side.
AMBASSADOR LORD: The Chinese are very clear and the President has made clear on many occasions not only the importance of this relationship, but there are some specific individual who are particularly prominent. That doesn't mean they're more important than others, but obviously they have a certain symbolic significance.
Q Back to the submarine incident for a second --you speak of the raising tensions between North and South, but it also raised tensions between South Korea and the United States. They were not pleased with the initial American response. Did today's meeting make any progress toward reducing those tensions?
AMBASSADOR LORD: Well, without granting the entire premise of your question, the answer is, yes, we did make good progress in reaffirming our solidarity. We put out a joint press release with our basic principals.
And on previous occasions, I've discussed the fact that there was a whole series of steps taken together in recent weeks and since the submarine incident that underline our solidarity. Whether it's public statements by the President at the U.N. or the Secretary himself; or whether it's our statements to the North, including the need to take steps and the need to reduce tensions and the need for the North-South dialogue; whether it was this very large military exercise, the full legal exercise, including their carrier Independence -- here's a whole series of steps that we've taken to show unity throughout this period and this meeting was another example of that and carried it even further forward.
Q What, if anything, did the U.S. get from the Chinese at either the Secretary of State's meeting or the President's meeting today that indicated they would be the least bit responsive to U.S. concerns about human rights -- anything specific that the Chinese offered in that regard?
AMBASSADOR LORD: There was an exchange more specifically because there's more time -- the Secretary had a whole day of meetings in China and I would say there was some more specific exchanges, not sufficient by any means from our standpoint, but a furthering of the engagement of a dialogue on this and possible Chinese moves. But I won't go beyond those generalities.
Q When you say possible Chinese moves, I mean, they offered some suggestions --
AMBASSADOR LORD: Well, we'll see what -- I don't want to speak for the Chinese. The fact is that the seriousness was underlined. There was some specific discussions in Beijing. But, frankly, this is a process we're going to have to keep and we will keep plugging away at through a whole series of meetings and do the best we can.
Q Has anyone had a chance to look at those B-24 pictures and video and when and how might they be released to us?
MR. MCCURRY: They were delivered by the People's Republic today to the United States to U.S. military authorities. They are going to examine those tapes, look at them. Out of concern for family members and establishing what we want, we'll probably not release those publicly until our own analysts have looked at that, tried to understand better what it might represent and then have the appropriate contact with individual family members.
Q -- any specific group that you -- are there specific individuals that you think might be connected to that particular flight?
MR. MCCURRY: Not that I know that we have established at this point. That's what we will work to do.
Q Do you have more specifics, Mike, on the exact location of --
MR. MCCURRY: Southwest China.
Q That's a pretty large area. (Laughter.) Is there a reason why we can't be more specific on location without --
AMBASSADOR LORD: Guangxi Province is about the best we can do at this point. We're very -- we want to be as forthcoming, on the one hand, but we have to take it -- number one, we don't know all the details, and number two, the sensitivities of the family and so on. But we'll -- they've agreed to accept an American team to go there and get more details. And I'm sure we'll get a lot more information before they go there.
Q Was this a surprise? Did you expect them to have this kind of information?
Q This happened 50 years ago, right?
MR. MCCURRY: This was raised in the meeting between Secretary Christopher and Deputy Premier Foreign Minister Qian Qichen at their meeting. The Secretary briefed the President this morning and said that they had presented this information to him when he was in Beijing and that President Jiang Zemin was going to describe it further.
And, Wendell, in fairness to your question, we don't know what family members might be still living related to some of the remains that have been discovered, and we want to try to establish that as best we can before we provide that publicly.
Q Did they provide any details in terms of like did they give you any explanation as to how this discovery was made?
MR. MCCURRY: They told us a fair amount about their discovery and they invited a team, an expert team to go do some additional investigative work in forensic work, and U.S. authorities will be pursuing that.
Q -- what you all have to do -- track the records of missions that might have been lost over that region at the time, compare them against -- all that kind of stuff?
MR. MCCURRY: B-24s -- correct me if I'm wrong -- were flying over the Hump in World War II, and presumably, it's that type of mission that they will go back and try to establish that. There's incredible, painstaking work that's done throughout that region now on missing in action cases. You're all aware of the work that we've been doing in Vietnam, Cambodia, and elsewhere. We are interested in pursuing additional work on the Korean Peninsula, and of course, we do have World War II missing that we're still attempting to account for. And all the help that we get from governments in that region is very encouraging.
Q Can we assume that this discovery was made accidentally, this was not an active search of some kind? Was it the government that made the discovery?
AMBASSADOR LORD: Believe me, we're not being evasive. We have no reason to be. I'll tell you exactly what I know, and I've been in all the discussions. When we were in Beijing, the Chinese said just a couple of days before we went to Beijing -- I don't know, it was a couple of days, a few days, but obviously, very brief period before we arrived -- they had discovered this. How they discovered it, why they discovered it At this point I haven't the slightest idea. I really don't know. I can't tell you anything more about the discovery.
And, Mike, I'm not sure we should leave the impression they've told us a lot about discovery.
MR. MCCURRY: No, I certainly don't.
AMBASSADOR LORD: When we were in Beijing they said, we've just gotten this, please keep it confidential and we'll try to get more information by the time of the President's meeting. At the President's meeting, they handed the President an album of photographs and a videotape. I have not seen any of this, so I can't help you on that. I don't know yet how much has been analyzed. And obviously, we want to be as forthcoming as possible. This is basically good news; we shouldn't complicate the story. We've just got to be sensitive to family considerations.
All I know is they said Guangxi Province. They may have mentioned some county or something, but I didn't catch it if they did. And that's all I know. Once we went out of this meeting I personally and others in the meeting have to go on to other meetings. So we haven't had a chance to look at this material. But I do think the big news here is the fact we found this and it's very promising. They did specify that it's the remnants of a plane and there are remains.
Q Did they say how many remains?
AMBASSADOR LORD: No. But I have the impression of more than one individual, that there would be several. But, again, I just don't want to either get hopes up or mislead people through imprecise information. But they clearly indicated there's more than one remains involved. My best recollection is that they're all but entirely sure it's a B-24 and that it's World War II. But I can't even confirm, for example, that it necessarily went over the Hump. I just don't know.
Q -- on the character and nature of the growing trade imbalance with China?
MR. MCCURRY: Why don't we start with you and then you and then you.
Q Can you fill in some of the blanks for us, Secretary Lord, on the character and the nature of the growing trade imbalance with China and how the discussion centered on that?
AMBASSADOR LORD: Well, the trade imbalance is growing and it's serious, and the President pointed very strongly to our concerns on that. As I said earlier, we talked about WTO accession, but related to that, in our contacts the President emphasized market access and WTO -- rules for WTO, and also progress on bilateral issues, generally, and with respect to WTO, mentioning agriculture and intellectual property rights in particular.
A couple of months in this past year the deficit with China has exceeded the one with Japan. I don't know how it will be for the entire year. We have still a lot of exports to China, but they've got a lot more coming this direction. The Chinese would argue that the deficit is not as large as we say because of our statistical disagreements in how you count goods that go through Hong Kong. But by our accounts, last year it was roughly $35 billion. By Chinese accounts, it's $8 billion. Of course, we think ours is more accurate.
Q Was this specifically mentioned in today's discussions?
AMBASSADOR LORD: Yes.
Q Back on KEDO, with incidents like the submarine incursion and the threats that Pyongyang made after that happening, how is it possible to carry out KEDO, because doesn't that require many South Koreans going into the North where at any time they can be accused of spying and taken hostage? And what kind of guarantees or assurances are possible even for their safety that would allow this to move forward?
AMBASSADOR LORD: My colleague may wish to comment. There are various aspects of KEDO, arrangements that are made for whenever construction will start and how you ratify those. Heavy fuel oil shipments have continued. The North Koreans have canned spent fuel. So there's many aspects to KEDO. Obviously, any South Koreans going North would have to be assured of their safety before you would expect them to go North. But that's not the only aspect of moving ahead with KEDO.
Q How is that possible? I mean, the question is if North Korea doesn't give a satisfactory response and isn't capable of giving assurances, saying today that you're going to move forward, it sounds like it doesn't mean anything.
AMBASSADOR LORD: Well, it's my understanding the North Koreans -- I don't know in what form -- but that they've, of course, said that there would be safety out there. But the question is whether that is sufficient at this point or whether the atmosphere in South Korea permits it.
MS. KRISTOFF: We do have IAEA inspectors in North Korea now whose safety is not in question. And I think, as Winston points out, there are a whole series of KEDO activities that can go forward, from protocol work -- work on the protocols, to soliciting additional financial contributions to carry out the obligations on implementing the agreed framework, as well as trying to attract new members to KEDO, many of whom are in this region and are part of APEC.
Q Mike, is the President disappointed that the APEC leaders didn't sign on to his action plan?
Q What was the question?
MR. MCCURRY: Lauri asked if we're already disappointed with the results of the meeting that hasn't even taken place, because it's happening tomorrow. The answer is, we have been working to -- and jump in here if I'm wrong -- working very strenuously to get a strong expression from the APEC meeting of the importance of an international technology agreement that will open market access and that APEC specifically stimulate the conclusion of that type of agreement when the WTO ministers meet next month.
We're satisfied, based on where we are tonight, that you'll see that type of statement in the declaration tomorrow. And we're very satisfied with the progress we've made on that issue.
MS. KRISTOFF: The information technology agreement language in the APEC ministerial is quite strong. It calls for APEC economies to endorse this and to bring it to a conclusion in Singapore. And it gives a very nice boost. The outcome of the ministerial was quite good.
Q -- have the year 2000 in it, as the President --
MS. KRISTOFF: The ministerial statement? No, the ministerial statement does not.
Q Are there efforts still going on to get the word 2000 into it?
MS. KRISTOFF: Well, the APEC leaders will get together tonight. After dinner they'll have a chance to talk about the declaration in its totality.
Q Do you think they might still get the word 2000 in it?
MS. KRISTOFF: That's where the ITA will be talked about.
Q But do you hold out hopes that that will happen?
MR. MCCURRY: We are on the record, on camera, and some of -- if you'd like some of us to talk on background afterwards, maybe we can.
Q Ambassador Lord, in the earlier briefing you said that the President raised Hong Kong and told the Chinese that the whole world would be watching. Did he raise the issue of the elected legislature there in Hong Kong, which I gather the Chinese have said they're going to replace by December 21? What's the U.S. position on that?
AMBASSADOR LORD: He didn't specifically raise the legislature issue. He did raise the need in the Chinese own self-interest and the interest of us and others around the world in stability and prosperity of Hong Kong of both the flourishing market economy and a political system that would meet the desires of the people. So there's those strong general principles. He did not get into specific details.
Our view on the legislature is well-known. We think it's a mistake to replace the elected legislature with an appointed one.
Q Can I ask you to give an overview of the Chinese relationship now after this? Are we now back into a period of normality preceding the breakdown of relations in '95, or is it not improved to that state yet?
AMBASSADOR LORD: I'm reluctant to give you a sound bite in terms of exactly where we are.
Q I don't care for a sound bite --
AMBASSADOR LORD: No, I understand. I don't want to --
Q You just did. (Laughter.)
AMBASSADOR LORD: I don't want to oversimplify what literally is an ongoing process. What you see here is steady work at various levels -- lowly levels like assistant secretaries, ministerial levels and Cabinet levels and the highest levels, like you saw today. And as I said in response to an earlier question, I can no longer remember if it was this briefing or an earlier one, you don't look for a home run in any particular session, you look for the process to go forward -- where you make progress in some areas, you may run into problems in others. You try to have enough positive momentum to offset inevitable difficulties.
Clearly, the relationship has stabilized and gained momentum from where we were last spring, for example. Indeed, it's done that sufficiently well that the two Presidents believe they could announce these state visits today -- not to mention the Vice President's visit. So clearly, the situation is improving.
At the same time, we've been very careful today in our briefing and Secretary Christopher when he was in China to make clear that serious problems remain. You're not seeing any euphoria or complacency or naivete. We have difficult issues --it includes human rights; it includes some trade issues; it includes nonproliferation; it includes Taiwan where the going is going to be difficult and where we have to keep working.
We also have many areas of positive cooperation and I've highlighted the Korean one as being a very crucial one. There are areas in the trade sector that have shown some progress -- nonproliferation; Secretary Christopher made some progress while he was there. We're cooperating on alien smuggling, on stopping narcotics traffic, international crime. We starting a heavy dialogue on the environment -- the Vice President will pursue that.
I just mention these because they don't get as much attention as the problems. But it's part of the broad agenda which is moving forward. And we are making progress. But neither side would exaggerate that. Neither side would overlook the remaining differences.
MR. MCCURRY: Let's take one or two more.
Q How does setting up a two-year schedule of meetings compare with what took place between the United States and the Soviet Union in the '80s? How would you compare -- how is it alike and how is it different?
AMBASSADOR LORD: Well, one is a little reluctant to draw exact analogies. Clearly, as we've indicated, we would like to get to a situation where there are regular high-level meetings and that this can push the process forward.
I don't know whether it is an exact analogy, but clearly, we had a much more difficult situation with the Soviet Union at the height of the Cold War, including the possibility always of a nuclear confrontation. And yet, high-level meetings went forward during that period. So I guess there is some parallel, without suggesting that our relations with China is anyway like it was with the Soviet Union during the Cold War.
Q My understanding is that Secretary Christopher is not continuing on this trip to Thailand. Assuming that's true, can you offer any explanation for that? It seems unusual for a state visit.
AMBASSADOR LORD: No, in this case, he has got to get back to get ready for still another trip to Europe just a few days from now. So there's absolutely no significance to that. There's a very high-level delegation going with the President and I wouldn't read anything into that. He's just had some very good talks with the Thai himself. But the main purpose of the trip, as the Secretary would be the first to acknowledge, is the President's going there on the 50th anniversary of the King's accession to the throne and it's going to be a very important trip. But the Secretary has some very important urgent business back home he's got to get back for.
Q When in the bilateral with Prime Minister Hashimoto -- when the two leaders last met, you'll recall they set a deadline for the settlement of the insurance talks which has long since passed. Did they set a similar deadline or discuss the issue at any great length today?
AMBASSADOR LORD: Well, the deadline has not passed. It's December 15, so we still have a few weeks.
Q -- that time passed. You extended it once.
AMBASSADOR LORD: Well, I'll let my colleague comment here. I don't recall one being that rigid before -- where this one is a more specific deadline. But maybe you'd like -- you remember a previous deadline?
MS. KRISTOFF: I think what, David, what you're talking about is earlier in the year, as we were going toward something G-7 and there was not a deadline at that point and there had, frankly, been enough meaty discussion between USTR and the finance people that I think that we felt that we had made enough progress to keep going.
The December 15 deadline, we've got a series of at least Director-General-level talks scheduled for the 25th and 26th, I think, of November. So we're moving forward. The issue came up between the two and they both spoke about the need to resolve it.
Q They did not discuss any particular way out, though?
MS. KRISTOFF: No, there was not a specific discussion. But they did address the need to liberalize, to deregulate, and that was also in the context of the discussion with Hashimoto about his financial deregulation package.
MR. MCCURRY: Thank you.
END 5:27 P.M. (L)