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Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release April 25, 1997
                       REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT
                            The Oval Office                          

11:10 A.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT: Everybody in? Let me say it's a great honor for me to host my friend, Prime Minister Hashimoto, here at the White House. We had a nice visit last night, and he was here at the time the Chemical Weapons Convention passed, so we shared a moment of celebration. And we have a busy agenda today and, of course, we'll have a press conference later and we'll do our best to answer your questions.

But I think it's important to reaffirm that the relationship the United States has with Japan is unique and comprehensive and profoundly important to our future and to the stability and prosperity and peace of the world. And we intend to keep working on it and make it better.

Mr. Prime Minister.

PRIME MINISTER HASHIMOTO: I find myself being a very lucky man. I was lucky enough to be invited by Bill last night, after arriving here in the evening, and I could share the greatest moment with Bill for the wonderful passage of the splendid Convention in the Senate. The fact that I was able to share that wonderful moment together with the President, itself, makes my trip to Washington worthwhile.

I see all the familiar and very inquisitive faces in this room, so there will be many questions asked of me, but even with that fact, I'm very happy that I was able to share the moment with the President last night. And last night I was very appreciative of the kindness of Bill because he got Mickey Kantor on the phone -- (laughter) -- without any fighting between us. (Laughter.)

THE PRESIDENT: He tried to get him to switch sides, but he didn't do it. (Laughter.)

Q Mr. President, does the U.S. or Japan have any reason to be concerned about the treaty between China and Russia?

THE PRESIDENT: Well, my view is that the United States should have a partnership over the long run for stability in the Asia Pacific region that includes our longstanding alliance with Japan and a positive relationship with both Russia and with China. And as long as any agreement they make is consistent with that kind of positive partnership and is not directed in any negative way toward their neighbors, I think that we don't have anything to worry about.

Mr. Prime Minister?

PRIME MINISTER HASHIMOTO: I wonder if there's anything I could add to that wonderful statement. That was a splendid answer to the question I believe. If I may add, I think that the summit between the President and President Yeltsin in Helsinki was a great contributor not just to the stability in Europe, but also the stability for the entire world.

I think the President gave a succinct answer describing the situation of the moment. It's very important that Russia and the European countries have a stable relationship. We are in the transitional period of great change; we are trying to engage, for example, China as a constructive partner in international society, and we're transforming the G-7 summit to the summit of 8. So in that context, I think the President gave an excellent answer to your question.

Q Thank you, Mr. President.

THE PRESIDENT: We'll answer the others later. We're going to have a press conference later.

Q -- Governor Weld as Ambassador to Mexico?

THE PRESIDENT: We're going to have a press conference later and I'll answer all the questions. We have to work.

PRIME MINISTER HASHIMOTO: I guess we have to shake hands again. (Laughter.)

THE PRESIDENT: Yes. Let me say very briefly, it's a great honor for me to have my friend, Prime Minister Hashimoto, here in the Oval Office. He made Hillary and me feel very welcome in Japan not so very long ago, and we're glad to have him back here.

We just had his daughter and son-in-law and grandchild in here; we were playing with the baby, so we're a little late in getting our work started. And we had -- but we had a very good visit last night and he was here at the moment that the Chemical Weapons Convention passed the Senate, which was a happy coincidence for me, and I think for him.

And we have a lot of business to transact today, and I'm looking forward to this meeting, and also, to the press conference that we will have together after our meeting.

Mr. Prime Minister.

PRIME MINISTER HASHIMOTO: (Speaks in Japanese, not translated.) -- when the Senate was just passing the Chemical Weapons Convention. We were able to share that joy -- It was all the more pleasing for me to share that great moment with the President.

I expressed my sympathies for the damage caused by the flooding in the state of North Dakota and Minnesota. Also, I expressed my gratitude to the -- cooperation by the United States up to the solution of this incident in Peru. It was a wonderful moment between the two of us. And I'm sure that we will have very meaningful discussions in our meeting.

Q Mr. President, do you think Japan should go ahead with the additional food aid, putting aside --

THE PRESIDENT: We need to discuss that.

Q -- Prime Minister on trade and particularly the current account, trade surplus, sir?

THE PRESIDENT: Obviously, we don't want it to go back up. We've made some real progress. But we'll discuss that. We'll have a press conference later.

END 11:20 A.M. EDT