THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary (Denver, Colorado)
BRIEFING TO THE POOL BY NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISOR SANDY BERGER The Brown Palace Hotel Denver, Colorado
4:38 P.M. MDT
MR. BERGER: For those of you in the filing center, this is the disembodied voice of the National Security Advisor. Let me give you a quick readout of the meeting with Chirac.
Q Prodi or Chirac?
MR. BERGER: Chirac, the Prodi meeting is now going on, so I can't give you a reading. I was asked to give a readout of the Prodi meeting, but it's in progress. So I could give you the talking points, but I couldn't give you a readout.
The Chirac meeting I think was a very good meeting. It lasted somewhat longer than scheduled. President Chirac began by talking about the Middle East. And there was a rather lengthy conversation that the two Presidents had about the Middle East -- I think both expressing their concern about the difficulties there and the fact that the peace process, at this point, is not moving forward. They compared ideas about how that process might be energized.
The President noted that we're working very actively and on a daily basis -- Dennis Ross, the President, Secretary Albright and others -- to try first to get Chairman Arafat to resume the full security cooperation that's necessary for the peace process to resume; and second, for both parties to make the kinds of commitments that will give them confidence that if they restore the process and resume negotiations that it actually will produce some results. And I would say they discussed the Middle East for perhaps 10 or 15 minutes.
They then turned to the Madrid Summit. President Chirac had not yet spoken to President Yeltsin. He asked whether President Yeltsin had indicated to President Clinton whether he was coming to Madrid. President Yeltsin had indicated previously to President Clinton that he was not planning on coming to Madrid but that he would be represented in Madrid -- that the Russians would have a presence there.
They talked at some length about Romania. President Chirac reiterated his very strong view that Romania should be admitted in the first wave. The President articulated his reasons for having decided that, while he is very impressed with the really dramatic reforms that have taken place in Romania, that they are still in the early stages of those, or at least there has not been a lot of time to see -- for those to consolidate, and that he does not believe that this is the time to go forward with Romania, but that we are in favor of admitting the three nations with a very aggressive open-door policy in which this process of expansion would be ongoing.
I'm not sure that either President Chirac -- I know President Clinton didn't change his mind, but I think they listened to each other and certainly I think President Chirac listened very attentively to President Clinton's arguments. They talked about this in Paris, but I think our views have sharpened and taken more form since then. And I think President Chirac listened quite carefully to those views. And obviously, we will continue to talk about that between now and Madrid.
There was a rather long conversation about Bosnia, which will be discussed at greater length this evening -- or at least that's the expectation -- at the first dinner among the leaders. And I think both President Chirac and President Clinton agreed that while there has been some real progress, probably more than people genuinely acknowledge, over the last year, that there was still great challenges ahead to make this peace durable and lasting. And President Clinton outlined his -- what he thinks the priorities are in terms of helping to train a police force, helping to get the economic reconstruction process moving more quickly, building joint institutions, helping the War Crimes Tribunal apprehend war criminals, and continuing with the elections. These are all things that are going to take an intensified focus, effort, energy, urgency from the international community.
And I think one of the things that President Clinton has been trying to do in these meetings today and will try to do tonight is kind of reenergize his colleagues to once again put their shoulder to the wheel in Bosnia and push as hard to make the peace work as they all did to achieve the peace.
There was some discussion of Lebanon and the American ban on travel visas. President Chirac indicated his view that he didn't think that ban was justified any longer. This comes under Secretary Albright's jurisdiction. The Secretary of State determines whether or not there are these travel bans based upon whether or not -- the risk to Americans. And Secretary Albright indicated that she has this matter under review and would be making a new decision -- at least taking a new look at it in the very near future.
They talked about Iraq and the resolution in the Security Council. And I think there was an agreement that something needed to be done. There may be some minor differences between us and the French, but didn't seem to be insurmountable.
And I think those were basically the subjects that were covered. I'm happy to try to answer any questions. I will repeat the questions from the pool for the people in the press center.
Q Any economic issues raised, specifically about currencies?
MR. BERGER: I don't believe so. I don't believe that -- there certainly was not any -- I can't recollect any discussion of economic issues in this meeting. They obviously will be discussed in the course of the next two days, but I don't think they came up in this meeting.
Q Did they talk about the single currency in Europe or the effect of the elections in France and the effect it's had on the prospects for the single currency?
MR. BERGER: No.
Q Was there any talk between President and President Yeltsin on the U.N. resolution?
MR. BERGER: Yes, he did. And I think there was a good discussion between President Clinton and President Yeltsin on the resolution. The Russians, generally, traditionally have been less willing than we have been to lean back against the Iraqis when they have violated the U.N. Security Council resolutions. But again, I think it was valuable for the President to talk to President Yeltsin.
Q How about on the NATO Southern Command? Did Mr. Chirac raise that?
MR. BERGER: He did not raise it.
Q Was there any discussion of the French elections or working with a legislature controlled by the opposition?
MR. BERGER: Cohabitation was in the room, but there was no discussion of it. Obviously the foreign minister from the new government was present, along with President Chirac's National Security Advisor, Ambassador Bujon.
There are no more questions there and if here, and since I can't hear anybody in the press center, if you have anymore questions that's just too bad. (Laughter.)
END 4:48 P.M. MDT