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Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release March 5, 1997
                           PRESS BRIEFING BY
                              MIKE MCCURRY

The Briefing Room

1:38 P.M. EST

MR. MCCURRY: Ladies and gentlemen, 51 years ago today, Winston Churchill gave his famous Iron Curtain speech. Did you know that? Gave his Iron Curtain speech. Forty-four years ago today, Joseph Stalin died.

Q What's the connection?

MR. MCCURRY: Twenty-seven years ago today, the Nonproliferation Treaty went into effect. Twenty years ago today, President Carter did, I think, one of the first major radio town halls here. Helen was probably here covering it.

Q So what are you going to do? (Laughter.)

MR. MCCURRY: But, most importantly, 30 years ago today, April Mellody was born. (Applause.)

Q Nooo.

Q That was yesterday.

MR. MCCURRY: And a round of applause is appreciated by her, I'm sure. And she's sitting at her desk, the same color as Terry's vest. (Laughter.) She blushes more handsomely than any person I've ever seen in my life. And we all join in wishing her a happy birthday. Including Gene Gibbons. (Applause.)

Q Come on out!

MR. MCCURRY: Are you blushing? That was all -- that was her brief appearance.

Okay, on to business.

Q -- always romantic.

MR. MCCURRY: I agree, it's a romantic name. It would have been better if she had been born in April, but born as April in March is fine enough. (Laughter.)

The President of the United States of America called the Chancellor of Germany today and they talked for 20 minutes, had a very good conversation. We've told you often that the President will be personally consulting with many of his counterparts as we work through the very ambitious agenda we have concerning Europe in the year ahead. The President and the Chancellor obviously discussed President Clinton's upcoming meeting with President Yeltsin. They reviewed current issues important to the security of Europe, including the future of NATO, the adaptation of NATO for the new challenges of the post-Cold War era. They talked about the importance of economic cooperation with Russia, reviewed issues of that nature.

And probably it's safe to say there will be additional consultations like this as you go through the next several weeks into the meeting in Helsinki and then coming out of the meeting in Helsinki as we prepare for the U.S.-European summit coming up in May, for the Denver summit in June, and then ultimately for the NATO summit in Madrid in July.

Q He didn't cover all that in 20 minutes.

MR. MCCURRY: They talked fast. They know each other so well -- know each other so well now.

Q Did the President speak German?

MR. MCCURRY: The President has reported in the past that he follows Chancellor Kohl's German fairly well, probably better than many Germans do. (Laughter.)

Q Try that at State. (Laughter.)

MR. MCCURRY: You can't state stuff like that at the State Department. Nor here, probably. No, they had a good conversation, but the President spoke in English, I assure you.

Good, okay, see you later, bye. (Laughter.) Deborah Orin, let's start the fun and games.

Q Mike, the Vice President said the other day that he used the Democratic National Committee credit card to pay for his calls. Some of us have had a lot of trouble getting documentary proof of that fact. Can you tell us, is there going to be some release of records to show precisely whom he called, how many calls he made, and to document that it was indeed with a DNC credit card?

MR. MCCURRY: I'll check with the Vice President's staff. I imagine they would have an interest in wanting to do that. And I'll give them a call and see whether they are in a position to do that.

Q We were told yesterday it was not available and might not be available.

MR. MCCURRY: All right. I'll check in to that. I'd rather consult with them first before I provide an answer.

Q Is there a number of calls, too? Do we know yet?

MR. MCCURRY: I don't know the answer to that.

Q Well, there was a number floating around the other day. I believe it was somewhere around 60, is that right?

MR. MCCURRY: I am not going to guess at an answer on that.

Q Have you looked into the Lippo stories? The Post today, for example?

MR. MCCURRY: Looked into?

Q Yes, and the possibility that the White House people might have intervened in hiring Hubbell during his trying period?

MR. MCCURRY: There's been an extraordinary amount of reporting on that for months now, and there's not much to add to it. And the President addressed the question earlier. I'm not sure I can add anything.

Q Was that the question he was addressing in the --

MR. MCCURRY: I don't know. It was a question that kind of put apples and oranges together in a fruit salad, and I'm not sure exactly the question. But I'm certain what the answer was.

Q Well, his answer was that it was a legal question, not political.

MR. MCCURRY: That was on the question of an independent counsel related to discussions in the Senate.

Q Mike, I'm sure it came up the other day, I have to refresh my memory on what you said. The President has never made calls of the sort that Al Gore said he'd made? Is that --

MR. MCCURRY: The President doesn't have any recollection of it, but doesn't rule out that he may have talked to donors from time to time and wouldn't have had a problem doing that. As a practical matter he delegated that work to others who worked on his political behalf.

Q So he had no recollection of saying, look, we're in a jam, we need X amount?

MR. MCCURRY: He doesn't, and he asked people, said, see if anyone can recall if I would have made any calls like that. No one that I've spoken to here says that they have any recollection of him doing that. But I don't want to make an ironclad statement without doing more checking on it.

Q Well, Dick Morris says that the President adamantly refused to make those kinds of calls.

MR. MCCURRY: Well, you know, he says a lot of things.

Q But he did push the Vice President into the forefront to do all this, didn't he?

MR. MCCURRY: That's not the Vice President's recollection. The Vice President, as he said here, voluntarily took on that assignment and was enthusiastic about it.

Q And you mean he did it all on his own volition without prompting?

MR. MCCURRY: Oh, he knew. I mean, the Vice President was well aware of our need to develop a treasury that could help the President and the Vice President get the administration's message out to the American people, as the Vice President told you.

Q What more are you able to say about the material that you all requested from the Justice Department that Congressman Burton apparently thinks he can only get here?

MR. MCCURRY: By the way, Congressman Burton -- I mean, we can give him Chuck Ruff's fax number, but as of 20, 30 minutes ago, we still had not received any document requests from him. We've got his press release, which one of you kindly provided to us, but still no subpoena for information. But if we get it -- we've already told him -- Mr. Ruff told the Chairman in his letter of February 24th that we would happily provide the material as soon as he's got some method of protecting what is sensitive national security information.

And with respect to your question, the Attorney General said last week that in response to our request, they had reviewed the matter and made appropriate information available, that it had already been released for dissemination prior to the investigation. I think that was a very important statement by the Attorney General.

Q Was there contact with his office explaining that the House Intelligence Committee had this material, as you said this morning?

MR. MCCURRY: We, I believe, in the letter -- in our letter to the Chairman on February 24th, Mr. Ruff said, "We informed the Justice Department of our expectation that whatever information was provided through the White House would also be provided to the Intelligence Committees of the House and the Senate." So he's known that since February 24th.

Q But has that actually been given, or you expected that it would? You were asking --

MR. MCCURRY: The Justice Department has to make a determination about what they provide, as they made a determination of what they could provide to us. My understanding -- I don't have a confirmation of this, but my understanding is that they did, in fact, provide the same materials to the two Intelligence Committees.

Q So they've made a determination now on whether there was any Chinese influence?

MR. MCCURRY: I've not heard any announcement from the Justice Department to that effect.

Q And what would be -- they have not yet closed the investigation?

MR. MCCURRY: The Attorney General, if I'm not mistaken, indicated last week there was an ongoing inquiry on that matter.

Q When you talked about protecting information, are you talking about a --

MR. MCCURRY: I'm talking about sensitive national security information.

Q I understand. But, I mean, are you wanting Burton and his committee to construct a facility of some sort, or are you just looking for procedures, or what?

MR. MCCURRY: Under law, there are prescribed ways in which national security information has to be handled, and all we sought were assurances that they had those procedures in place. They did not at the time that we made the inquiry, and my understanding is they are attempting to put those procedures in place.

Q Any reason why Janet Reno wasn't at the event this morning?

MR. MCCURRY: I don't know the answer. I mean, Treasury Secretary Rubin was not there either, and Ray Kelly, the Under Secretary, was there on his behalf.

Q Mike, in regard to the intercept of the Chinese Embassy and as the President talked this morning about possible attempts by the Chinese to influence or buy influence into the federal government -- when he was asked this morning if there was any influence, the President said, no. Now, is that based on the information that the White House received from the Justice Department, or is this as far as he knows or --

MR. MCCURRY: I think the transcript I have indicated a truncated question. He did not answer that question with precision. That would not be his place to do. He would obviously refer that question, as will I, to the Justice Department.

Q Mike, do you yet have an answer on which of those 10 perks actually was offered to donors? And, if not, when I can get an answer?

MR. MCCURRY: I don't. I should have checked on that, I just didn't do it. I'll have that on my dance card for tomorrow at the latest, I hope.

Q As long as you bring up tomorrow, what does the President hope to accomplish with his speech to the Michigan legislature? Does he hope for something concrete or just --

MR. MCCURRY: Well, he's -- as he is in the meeting today, he is continuing to press the case for national standards that will lead us to world-class qualities of excellence and the teaching of basics like mathematics and reading. He'll be talking specifically about his challenge to the states for a national standards related to 4th grade reading achievements and 8th grade math achievements. He'll make that case to the Michigan legislature.

He'll try to persuade them and presumably the Governor as well, that we do need standards. And Governor Engler is very well-known, very outspoken as a key leader in the effort to reform education in America. So the President will be interested in his views as well. And as he did in Annapolis, he'll make a case to a state legislature that state governments have to work together with the federal government to respond to this national challenge, and to respond specifically to the President's personal challenge from the bully pulpit abut education standards.

Q So, Mike, there's nothing really new --

Q Does the President have any sense that Governor Engler opposes any of these things?

MR. MCCURRY: I think that he respects Governor Engler's opinion, and perhaps the Governor will express something on that himself.

Q So, Mike, there's nothing specifically new about this, it's more reiteration of what he's --

MR. MCCURRY: Continuing to do, as the President said he would, taking the case for his education challenge out to the country; specifically, to state governments that are key part of the effort to reform education and make the case persuasively.

Q Did the Governor invite him to go there? How did this come about?

MR. MCCURRY: That's a very good question. I think we were in contact with a number of states that we thought would be interested in hearing the President's message where the issue of education has been a dominant concern of recent state legislative sessions, as it has been in Michigan -- it's my understanding. I think it was one of a number of places. But we also wanted to go -- we went to, obviously, a friendly governor or a friendly legislature in Maryland, and we wanted to go to a place where the argument can be made in a more bipartisan setting.

Q Has the President been thinking about how the -- what modifications the so-called partial birth abortion legislation would require in order for him to sign this kind of legislation into law?

MR. MCCURRY: Well, they're not difficult to ascertain. They are exactly those that he said at the time that he vetoed the measure passed last year. He said, I would be willing and enthusiastic to pass a measure that would ban this procedure so long as the life of the mother and the adverse health consequences of the mother exception is made clear. And he made that very clear in his letter and we had made it clear in multiple submissions to the Congress and continue to make it clear -- and hope, in fact, that Congress will consider the President's concerns as they address the issue.

Q Mike, there's been some new information --

Q Did you talk to him at all about the fellow who -- the right to life spokesman who changed his story last week?

MR. MCCURRY: He's -- I believe -- has the President commented on that? I mean, he is aware of that development, but that does not change the fundamental principle that the President wants to see addressed. It doesn't matter in the President's mind whether it's the five women who stood with him who needed that exception when he vetoed the measure, or whether it's some multiple of that. It has to be an exception provided in those very rare cases when it's needed, as we work to ban the procedure for those who would use it electively or those who would use it in circumstances other than those that the President's exception would allow.

Q Mike, is it correct then that if the same bill comes to his desk, he will again veto it?

MR. MCCURRY: He feels very strongly, and I would, indeed, say passionately about that, and, of course. I think the memories of those women who stood with him are very fresh in his mind still. And they needed that exception then. There could be in future cases in which a woman would need to have that exception to protect her reproductive possibilities for the future or indeed her life. And so that has to be available. But at the same time the President would willingly and gladly work with the Congress to fashion a measure that would meet that concern while banning a procedure that most Americans, and the President included, considers abhorrent.

Q Do you expect any more countries to be added on to these different trips?

MR. MCCURRY: I expect Venezuela to be added on to the trip, and I don't know for -- when in the itinerary it will be added on, but the President was anxious to see if we couldn't put some other stop on the trip. And we're now happy to say that Venezuela will be one of those stops. We'll give you greater information on how long an itinerary and where it fits into the trip as it is developed.

Q How about Helsinki, Copenhagen?

MR. MCCURRY: I have not heard anything added on to that.

Q Where does the chapter two of the Harold Ickes documents lie right now in terms of the White House making those documents available to us?

MR. MCCURRY: I don't know whether we are going to be in a position to make those documents available, and let me explain why. The Democratic National Committee has been in discussions, I believe with the committee, on many of those documents, in fact quite a few of those documents. They are proprietary documents in the view of the Democratic National Committee, as their statement said last week, that reflect internal budgetary matters that the Democratic National Committee considers sensitive. And they presumably don't want to have those made public, or at least certainly don't want them shipped over to the Republican National Committee.

So they are negotiating on aspects of ways in which the documents can be kept confidential as they are given to the committee or reviewed by the committee. And out of respect for those discussions and in order to do nothing prejudicial, I don't imagine we will do a release on those we're satisfied that the DNC's concerns have been addressed.

Q But, Mike, it's our understanding that there are documents in that batch which don't fall under the proprietary description, and that those --

MR. MCCURRY: That's right. And one that was apparently newsworthy that someone on the Hill quickly found its way to you last week. So I assume if there are any others --

Q Well, what about the rest of them? I mean, why wouldn't the White House put them out?

MR. MCCURRY: I'll check with the Counsel and see if -- our interest here is in fully disclosing what we can disclose, and if there is anything we can disclose, the President has ordered that we should.

Q But, Mike, who declared them proprietary?

MR. MCCURRY: The DNC said in their statement last week through their counsel that they considered it proprietary information.

Q Have you done some more checking on that one document to Martha Phipps?

MR. MCCURRY: No, that's what Deborah asked earlier, and that's on my ticket and I need to do more on that. I just don't know where -- I don't know that they have found an answer yet, I just haven't asked anyone where they are in trying to find out more about that document.

Q Are you going to take the question today about --

MR. MCCURRY: No, I'm going to take it and work it and see if I can get an answer for tomorrow.

Q Mike, back on the partial birth abortion issue -- if the President were to get the health of the mother exception that he seeks, that would -- and then sign the bill, that would bar --

MR. MCCURRY: Health of the mother and adverse health consequences for the mother.

Q Right, okay. But that would bar, then, use of the procedure as an elective one in the second trimester, where Roe v. Wade allows abortions in the second trimester. Would the President also protect the constitutional right of women not to be interfered with legislatively in the second trimester, or is he just content to have that one exception and sign the bill?

MR. MCCURRY: Well, I think it would ultimately matter how exactly it was worded, and there are different discussions underway about how they would address this procedure, if my understanding is correct. And the difference between second trimester ban and third trimester ban is one that I can't address. It may be a little too technical for here.

Q The recent disclosure by this guy who recanted his earlier statement was not just to the effect that there were many more such procedures, but that, according to him, a lot of them, apparently, do take place toward the end of the second trimester.

MR. MCCURRY: And the President has made clear his very deep concern about exactly that.

Q Okay, so he would also want Congress to stick with Roe?

MR. MCCURRY: The purpose of the exception as it's written is to preserve the constitutional premise of privacy that's embedded in the Roe decision. Nothing about the President's advocacy of this exception would impair the privacy right under Roe.

Q How did Ickes get all of these documents? And how did he have control of all --

MR. MCCURRY: He had a big office. He put them in a box. And he took them with him when he left.

Q I know, but even the proprietary, the DNC that they think is so private, he took them out?

MR. MCCURRY: He took them -- these were political documents, obviously. And under the Presidential Records Act, he can retain with him in his possession matters that are political. There is a specific exemption in that bill for matters that are related to the President's political efforts.

Q Did he ask any permission at all?

MR. MCCURRY: Not that I'm aware of. But he did --

Q Why did he take them?

MR. MCCURRY: He did have to indicate upon leaving the White House that he had fulfilled the requirements of the act and had left any records that were properly deemed presidential records in the possession of the White House, and he did that. And as I --

Q Did he have a purpose in taking them?

MR. MCCURRY: I can't speak to that. You'd have to ask him.

Q The Greek Foreign Minister Theodhoros Pangalos tomorrow is going to meet separately the National Security Advisor Samuel Berger and the Special Presidential Adviser here at the White House. May we have something on those talks? And what do you expect exactly from Mr. Pangalos?

MR. MCCURRY: I expect with the Greek Foreign Minister that the National Security Advisor will have a very thorough review of all the issues that are on the U.S.-Greek bilateral agenda. Certainly all the issues we talked about earlier with respect to the future of Europe are important to Greece and to the United States. Greece is a valued ally and treaty partner in NATO. We'll be reviewing those issues.

I suspect it's very likely that questions about disagreements in the Aegean will arise and other issues that would properly be raised by either government. And, of course, we'll be happy to report on the meeting tomorrow.

Q Another minister of the Greek government, Evangelos Venizelos, is in town. I would like to know if he is going to meet also White House officials?

MR. MCCURRY: Got a blank on me on that. Mr. Johnson can help you with that afterwards.

Q Do you know --

MR. MCCURRY: You get three. This is it.

Q Yes. Do you know if President Clinton discussed with Mr. Kohl also the crisis in Albania today in his telephone --

MR. MCCURRY: That didn't come up. Albania did not arise, but the United States government has very real concerns about the situation in Albania and views with some alarm the reelection of President Berisha by the Parliament. We are very troubled by the evidence of civil disturbances and would ask all the leadership of Albania to prevail upon the people of Albania to respect basic rights, to refrain from violence, and to avoid actions that would likely provoke a population that is rightfully concerned about the future of democracy in Albania.

Q Mike, has the President spoken to President Zedillo or had any exchange of messages with him ever since the certification?

MR. MCCURRY: Since the certification -- let me look into that. I would not rule out that possibility. We've had a strong interest in maintaining very active dialogue with Mexico as we prepare for the President's visit there. Many of our people are directly engaged on that even today.

Q Has that trip already been finalized, the cities and the number of days?

MR. MCCURRY: No, that's -- not yet. But there's, as I say, even today, a lot of active work going on on that subject.

Q A report out of Cairo, Mike, that the administration has scaled back or is giving up on ties at the Iraqi National Congress, the opposition group. Is that true?

MR. MCCURRY: I'll have to look into that. I'm not directly aware of that.

Q -- case of this Mr. Luchinski (phonetic), I think his name was, that says -- he was this Russian who was from New Jersey, got into some sort of photo op with the President --

MR. MCCURRY: I'm aware enough of it to know that we don't communicate with the government of the Ukraine through that type of channel.

Q So he says in the letter -- his lawyer says in a letter to Representative Solomon that the President asked him to convey some concerns over Ukraine's nuclear policy when he was going to see President --

MR. MCCURRY: We very directly conveyed those same concerns, President to President, and have had an active, ongoing dialogue with that. I'm not aware of why there would be a need to use a channel like that. I can look further into it, though.

Q Mike, on the gun violence act that President Clinton signed, the order that he signed this morning, what's going to prevent the modified forms from becoming paper tigers? Because the concern prior to this morning was that a foreign resident could simply lie because there were a limited amount of questions. What's going to prevent him from lying on simply an extended amount of --

MR. MCCURRY: It's against the law and all the penalties of breaking the law that would apply to it. So that one thing this does is enhances the ability to enforce the law, makes it easier to spot check and look for those who might attempt to evade the law. But the same penalty would apply and it's a stiff penalty.

Q What's the status of the conversations that Ruff and Lake are having with the Hill over the FBI file?

MR. MCCURRY: I didn't get any update on that other than the statement made last night following their meeting that it was a productive meeting. Obviously, the White House is encouraged that Chairman Shelby is going ahead with the March 11th date now, and that the hearing will be held. Our view all along has been Tony, once he had the hearing, will be able to address these issues, do so very forthrightly and candidly, and that that would satisfy senators so that they could vote to confirm. And we still believe that.

Q What's the theory again -- maybe you can explain it to us why during this process before confirmation people like Tony Lake or Alexis Herman or Pena should not be doing interviews with the media?

MR. MCCURRY: Well, it's always been the view of this White House and, my understanding is, prior White Houses that while a nomination lays before the Senate for advice and consent a nominee should refrain from making public statements until they've had an opportunity to address the public concerns that senators want to raise. And that is the purpose of a confirmation hearing. It's one of the reasons why we have said and stressed that there should be confirmation hearings given to the President's nominees early so they can publicly address the issues. But, frankly, it's a branch of government respect for the advice and consent constitutional role of the Senate.

Q But doesn't it play into the hands of the opponents who let this steamroller --

MR. MCCURRY: Yes. Sure, who just want to delay this and let things build and let charges go and let leaks happen, yes, it does. And that's why we've insisted that these nominees be given their rightful opportunity to have a hearing. And we are satisfied now that Secretary Pena, that Alexis Herman, and that Tony Lake all now have scheduled hearings and that will allow them to address issues and move on to confirmation.

Q Mike, do we expect anything from the President this week on the CPI and the presidential commission?

MR. MCCURRY: I consider that highly unlikely.

Q Mike, on the gun thing, two things. The 90-day residency requirement, does that supercede state residency requirement?

MR. MCCURRY: Well, this would be federal law and would apply to purchases from federally licensed arms dealers. So I'm not sure how it would affect --

Q What percentage of all arms dealers --

MR. MCCURRY: I'd have to check, don't know.

Q And the other thing is, the legislation banning cop-killer bullets, there aren't cop-killer bullets. What's the point of the legislation?

MR. MCCURRY: Well, the point is that so that none would ever be manufactured, making strict the ban so that they wouldn't be produced in the first place. And this would be a powerful impediment to the production of any such ammunition.

Q Mike, is the President following today's talks with North Korea in New York, and is he optimistic that the North Koreans will sign on to the four-way talks proposal he issued with Kim Yong-Sam a year ago?

MR. MCCURRY: Well, first things first; that's not the purpose of today's briefing. The purpose of the briefing and the very important meeting occurring today is so that all sides understand the proposal that has been made by the United States for four-party talks. That could, we hope, lead to eventual discussions of that nature, but that's not the agenda for today. The agenda for today is a briefing; it is important. It is, obviously, an attempt by the United States and other governments to work together with both sides to bring about a lasting peace on the Korean Peninsula, which is in the interest of the international community and we believe in the interest of all Korean people.

Q Mike, has the President received any formal recommendations from his staff on the Fed vacancies?

MR. MCCURRY: Not as of the last time I checked, which was when this came up last week. I'll check again, but not to my knowledge.

Q Mike, do you think there's sufficient public pressure to bring about campaign finance reform?

MR. MCCURRY: Probably not. I think the pressure that arises right now is largely coming from those who write about and cover these events. And the President has an interest in addressing the issue, as he did yesterday in calling on Congress to pass it, precisely because he does think there needs to be more grass-roots support for campaign finance reform.

Q Why do you say that --

Q What about the event that was going to be held today, and why did -- I thought that was the purpose of the event that was supposed to be held today.

MR. MCCURRY: Well, in part, but we had some other -- there are other aspects to that that we continue to work on.

Q Why do you say there's probably not sufficient support?

MR. MCCURRY: Because it's not -- if you ask Americans what are your number one concerns, properly, they point to things like balancing the budget, the state of the economy, improving America's schools, dealing with crime in the neighborhood. These are all things that we acknowledge are very, very important. In fact, the President has, on every one of them, made significant proposals to the Congress. But the President's also identified campaign finance reform as a high-priority issue, and it ranks a little bit lower on the list of concerns of Americans. And so our sense is that we should try to elevate that concern. And we fully expect that as matters related to our fundraising arise, and certainly, as must happen, matters relating to the Republican fundraising arise, that that will heighten sensitivity and concern among the American people about the system of campaign finance and will lead to campaign finance reform.

Q Well, what else can the President do to change that?

MR. MCCURRY: Well, he can talk about it, he can urge Congress to act. There are some other things that we can do. We have got some ideas of ways that we can try to work more at the grass-roots level to encourage attention to the issue.

Q Going back to this morning's gun event, are there other cases or other trends of foreigners using guns or involved in gun-related crimes that cause the President concern?

MR. MCCURRY: I'm not aware directly of any. I think anecdotally there may be. I can check further at the Justice Department for you. But obviously, we had a very high-profile case just recently at the Empire State Building that triggered a great deal of interest and concern by those who want to do everything possible to stem violence -- gun violence.

Q Mike, on the subject of the Vice President's use or lack thereof of a credit card, are we going to get anything further from you today, do you think?

MR. MCCURRY: Just as I said earlier, I'll check with the Vice President's staff and see. My understanding is they were working to try to put out as much as they could on that, and I hope that they do do something today, but I would want to check with them.

Q -- letter written by the Vice President -- Khalistan President in Washington -- still is part of the Indian Parliament. What they are saying, some members of the Parliament in India, is that the Vice President doesn't know how many countries are on this Earth because he's calling the conflict in Khalistan that -- is it time to recognize or endorse Khalistan which is a part of Punjab --

MR. MCCURRY: No, of course not. And we have already made clear through the State Department and I would make clear here that the United States does not and never supported the establishment of an independent state of Khalistan. That's been the goal of some, including a group that wrote to him. It was an inadvertent error by the Vice President's staff that led to that letter. But the United States' position on this is well-known. We continue to view Punjab as in integral part of India, and the Vice President firmly supports that policy.

Q How about anything on Kashmir?

MR. MCCURRY: Well, it's a disputed principality and we continue to believe it ought to be -- its status ought to be determined by those affected in the region.

Q Your State Department training did you well.

Q Anything about --

MR. MCCURRY: Ambassador Wisner was there just recently, as is certainly appropriate in his role to visit different parts of his service in the region. And he, I think appropriately, looked into the status of Kashmir.

Q Finally, how do you see the India-U.S. relations in the future?

MR. MCCURRY: I think that these U.S.-Indian relations are warm and exceedingly cordial. It is a very important place on Earth in which the likelihood or possibility of tension always has to be considered. And we very carefully and, I think, very effectively work to do what we can to limit tensions on the subcontinent for the exact reason that it is, of course, an old and proud democracy in a country that we highly value and respect.

THE PRESS: Thank you.

MR. MCCURRY: Thank you.

END 2:10 P.M. EST