THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary (Denver, Colorado)
BRIEFING TO THE POOL BY DAN TARULLO, ASSISTANT TO THE PRESIDENT FOR INTERNATIONAL ECONOMIC POLICY
The Brown Palace Hotel Denver, Colorado
11:13 P.M. MDT
MR. TARULLO: I've got a short read out of the dinner this evening at the Phipps Mansion. There was initially, actually, a good deal of socializing out in the garden. Everybody seemed very interested in the mansion, to tell you the truth -- people were walking around looking at the different wood paneling and a number of leaders actually requested tours before the dinner actually began. And so the staff there ended up taking several of the leaders through the mansion and through the outside grounds.
When they began dinner there was what is customary, I think, for the first meal at a lot of these summits, which was kind of general discussion of developments in the countries of the leaders and internationally. As I think most of you know, the President had invited President Yeltsin to lead off and President Yeltsin did so with comments on both developments in Russia and state of the economy in Russia, and also his aspirations for greater economic progress for Russia, and reviewed a number of foreign policy developments in Russia over the past year, including his recent discussions with President Kuchma.
The discussion ensued -- I don't have details on the ensuing discussion, but apparently it was a very lively interchange. It was not a series of speeches. It was more a genuine conversation.
The substantive agenda item which had been set for discussion and was discussed was Bosnia. On Bosnia, a number of leaders expressed concern about the stated U.S. date for withdrawal of U.S. troops from Bosnia next year. The President responded that in his judgment this was the wrong focus for the leaders, that rather than thinking about when troops would be leaving, it was more important that the leaders be thinking about how to make the civilian peace process work in Bosnia.
To that end, the President suggested returning to the specific topics which had been identified in the Dayton Peace Accords as requiring work in order to build the conditions for a lasting peace -- such things as the election process, as local police, as refuge return. And the President suggested that what was necessary was to accelerate this process which has been lagging by tasking our officials with coming up with specific items in each of these areas which could be pursued by one or more of the members of the summit, probably excluding Japan, and indeed indicated that the foreign ministers tomorrow perhaps, or at least he indicated to me on the way back that he may be asking Secretary Albright tomorrow to pursue this with her colleagues during the foreign ministers meeting tomorrow.
There was also -- Prime Minister Hashimoto raised his concerns about the situation in Cambodia, indicated that he is interested in sending an envoy to Cambodia and solicited the support of the other members of the 8 for the efforts of his envoy. And the other leaders indicated that they were happy to do so. My suspicion, although I don't know this, is the foreign ministers will also take this up tomorrow.
I don't have a huge -- I was not in the dinner, you all should know. I'm picking up the readout myself. The sherpas had a dinner in a separate room, so I can't tell you all the interchanges. I can tell you, though, having gone in several times during the dinner, that the conversation was lively. As I say, I was struck by they fact that unlike some of these things, there were not a lot of speeches. Prime Minister Blair commented to me afterwards that he thought the President had done a good job in moving discussion along.
And then after the dinner was over, the leaders rebelled against protocol and rather than leaving one by one to their waiting limousines, en masse exited both the dining room and the Phipps Mansion into the hord of waiting cameras outside, but with no vehicles in sight. It took a while to sort that out and to get all the motorcades up there. Chancellor Kohl decided not to wait and strode off into the dark to find his bus to return to his hotel. Actually, a couple of other leaders followed his lead -- quite literally -- and went off themselves.
That's pretty much what I have from -- let me just check my notes to see if there's anything I haven't given you. Let's see. No, I don't think so.
Q Dan, would you expect the foreign ministers to come up with some language for a statement energizing the --
MR. TARULLO: I should mention, on the statement, there was work during the day today by the political directors on a statement on Bosnia. And what happened here was that -- then the statement was presented to the foreign ministers over dinner. By the time we got word over at the Phipps Mansion that the foreign ministers were happy with the statement, the discussion on Bosnia had already ended and they were on to the Cambodia discussion, and there was just not time to present the statement to the leaders and to go around and make sure that they endorsed it as well.
I think there is absolutely no substantive disagreement on it. And either the foreign -- probably the foreign ministers will return to it tomorrow. And the only thing -- I guess is possible in light of the discussion tonight, they might supplement the statement. But so far as I'm aware, there's actually a consensus draft -- in fact, it is not just so far as I'm aware -- there is a consensus draft from the foreign ministers. It simply wasn't presented to the leaders because of time constraints.
Q Which commits the leaders to focus more heavily on the civilian part of the Dayton Accords?
MR. TARULLO: Yes, yes, that's the gist of it. That's absolutely right.
Q Are you suggesting that there was almost a sense that each country would taken on an assignment in terms of pursuing the Bosnia question?
MR. TARULLO: Well, I think it wasn't so much each country taking an assignment as the identification of specific tasks that would be pursued, rather than just say, gee, we need to do something about the police, we need to do something about elections. They didn't get into that kind of detail, although, presumably, the foreign ministers or other officials would.
THE PRESS: Thank you.
END 11:20 P.M. MDT