THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary (Denver, Colorado)
PRESS BRIEFING BY PRESS SECRETARY MIKE MCCURRY, SPECIAL ASSISTANT TO THE PRESIDENT FOR NATIONAL ECONOMIC POLICY DAN TARULLO, AND NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISOR SANDY BERGER
The Convention Center Denver, Colorado
3:20 P.M. MDT
MR. MCCURRY: We just wanted -- we are suspending any desire to give more words to you, but we thought just in case anyone had any particular questions or something that wasn't covered by the President, Sandy Berger and Dan Tarullo are both here so we can touch base before we all take off.
Q I just wondered if you could clarify three small things in the communique. President Chirac in his press conference said, first of all, that the U.S. -- that the communique on the environment reflected a compromise by the U.S., the putting of the 2010 date in there was something that France pushed hard and that the U.S. did relent after disagreeing. So the first question, is that true?
Secondly, Chirac also said that the U.S. did not gets its way on the Africa initiative, that the U.S. had originally wanted to ask the African countries to lower their tariffs, and that they were forced to drop that position. Again, is that an accurate description of --
MR. TARULLO: I'm going by your characterization of what was said. With respect to the Africa initiative, the Africa section, that's not really the way the thing developed at all. What basically happened was we have a particular position, which the President articulated yesterday, which is that trade plus aid plus reform is really the formula for Africa. What we wanted to do in the initiative of the 8 was to focus on the inter-connections among those three elements.
We were never seeking African reciprocity in the sense that they have to open markets specifically to our goods. What we were saying is we want trade liberalization as part of an overall market-oriented reform package. We're just as interested in the African countries trading with one another. And that really is the orientation, both of the communique and of the trade investment bill that we're supporting on the Hill.
With respect to climate change, there was an extended the discussion of climate change. There were lots of different ideas thrown out. The 2010 figure which is in there, as you know, simply says that all of the countries commit to having reductions in emissions by 2010. There were multiple formulas that we used, and I think the Europeans may have been interested in trying to get something in on their own proposal, but that clearly wasn't going to happen.
Q Could I ask for clarification?
MR. TARULLO: Yes.
Q Did the U.S. end up changing its policies or its initiative on African trade liberalization?
MR. TARULLO: No, no, not in the least.
Q You did not. And did the U.S. go in not wanting a 2010 date? Was that a change?
MR. TARULLO: No, no, no. Remember, the 2010 date simply says that there will be reductions in emissions by then. That's not the -- we were willing to contemplate any number of formulations if they were consistent with our policies. The one that came up this morning is obviously consistent with our policy.
Q Two questions for two different briefers. The U.S. is getting a lot of heat, particularly from the French, on the environment; is there a response? And, Sandy, what is extra outreach to these NATO applicants that didn't quite make it? What are you going to do for them, a little special, than has been done before?
MR. TARULLO: Barry, I don't know the particular kind of heat you're talking about, but basically the discussion of global warming was quite lengthy -- a lot of different views. There were factual issues that were actually being discussed by the leaders, as well as policy.
The President simply reiterated both his commitment to being part of the solution for global warming, but also his intention that the U.S. policy and the U.S. proposals for the Kyoto negotiations should be developed in consultation with all affected groups and with the American people, and will be developed in the course of those negotiations over the next several months.
MR. BERGER: Barry, on your second question, what I expect to happen in Madrid is that where there is consensus, that is, around the three, there will be an invitation to begin accession talks.
Second, there will be a robust, we hope, open-door expression and policy, and that will include building up the Partnership for Peace; that will include dialogues, continuing dialogues with the countries that are not in the first wave but have expressed interest in NATO partnership; and the formation of a Euro-Atlantic partnership council, which will be a political analogue to the Partnership for Peace.
Q And a high-level visit as well?
MR. BERGER: No decisions have been made. At this point we're still where we were on this.
Q Prime Minister Hashimoto said that he expected clear-cut targets by Kyoto. Is the United States expecting that, and by Kyoto will the United States be ready to accept a number and a year?
MR. TARULLO: Well, the United States' proposal will -- we've been on record as saying that we're in favor of targets; it's just a question of what the specific targets and benchmarks will be. The leaders reaffirmed their intention this morning to reach an agreement at Kyoto. And so, obviously, they hope to be in that position six months hence.
Q Mr. Tarullo, you said in reference to the EU position for the target that that clearly wasn't going to happen, the 15 percent reduction. What I want to ask is, by taking that position here, does that necessarily mean you would not be able to get to that position by Kyoto? Is that unrealistic?
MR. TARULLO: I don't want to -- I honestly don't want to comment on what position we will take since we haven't taken it yet. That was -- the real point of the discussion was that we were not going to prematurely suggest what the outcome of the negotiations over the course of the next six months was; what was important here was to give a unified push to those negotiations and a recommitment to work not just among the 8 but with the entire world to come up with a sound framework for addressing climate change into the next century.
Q You don't rule out getting perhaps to 15 percent?
MR. TARULLO: I don't rule anything in or out. There is no comment at all on what the actual policies will be when we develop and articulate them.
Q The President seemed to signal a willingness to do more for North Korea. Do we have specific plans ready to go?
MR. BERGER: We have responded I think on three occasions to appeals of the World Food program for humanitarian food assistance to the North. We expect that there will be another such appeal that will be issued by World Food program quite soon, perhaps in the next week or two. And we would expect to respond to that as we have in the past, in consultation with our allies, the South Koreans, and hopefully with the participation of others.
Q Mr. Berger, do you expect that you would have to wait until Madrid to iron out with your allied partners the number of countries that you're going to admit into membership in NATO, or are you a bit more optimistic that it can be resolved before Madrid?
MR. BERGER: It will be resolved before we leave Madrid. (Laughter.) I think there will be continuing discussion -- I noticed that Prime Minister Blair this morning stated publicly, I believe for the first time, that he believes that three is the right approach initially. I think that's a very significant statement on his part.
We will work between now and Madrid to develop a solid consensus around -- where a consensus exists. There is a consensus around the three; there is not a consensus on the two others. I would hope that we would get that resolved by the time of Madrid, but we'll have to see how that develops.
Q Mr. Tarullo, in terms of this year's agenda for the summit, are there issues from the U.S. perspective that you did not get around to and that you would like to use the next year's meeting in Birmingham to address?
MR. TARULLO: No, I don't think there was anything in particular. I mean, there is always a selection problem with what's to be on the agenda. There is also a tension between using the agenda to galvanize action by the 8 in a variety of areas on the one hand, and on the other hand keeping the agenda of the leaders themselves sufficiently flexible so that they can go in the directions in which they would like.
It was interesting, at the end of the formal summit session this morning, after the last agenda item was discussed, the President paused and reflected on the progress of the summits and how they've evolved since he's been President, somewhat in anticipation of Prime Minister Blair's hosting of the summit at Birmingham next year. The President suggested that he was pleased with the direction of the summits, which were relatively less stylized, relatively more opportunity for the leaders to raise such issues, and perhaps more importantly pursue such matters as they will. And he solicited from the other leaders suggestions be directed to Prime Minister Blair how to continue that process.
Q Two other questions. Chancellor Kohl said that he felt the President was much more in line with Europeans on CO2, but he had to consider the Republican Congress; is that true? And also, where might a meeting in Russia of the G-8 come -- sometime before -- after the next Canadian morning, which would start the next round, or where?
MR. TARULLO: I'll start with answering the second question. There was no discussion of which I'm aware of a Moscow-hosted summit.
With respect to the President's position, I think the President's position, as he articulated it in a Business Roundtable speech a week or two ago, is that he's very much concerned with the problems of global warming. And as you can see reflected in the communique, all the leaders share those concerns and are committed to do something significant about it.
I don't -- there is, again repeating my answer to the previous question, the President has not decided upon a policy, a set of negotiating instructions for our Kyoto negotiators. And until he does that, you can't characterize him as either close or not close to a European country, to any other countries that may be involved.
His whole point was the importance of focusing on the problem, and for us in the United States, of -- through discussion, through involvement of all affected parties -- coming up with a solidly supported position.
Q Was there any other talk during the summit of the Japanese market opening framework that Ambassador Barshefsky told us about on Thursday? And is there a timetable at all for the next steps?
MR. TARULLO: Ambassador Barshefsky was referring to a bilateral agreement between the United States and Japan, and it's rare that bilateral matters are taken up in the summit. And in fact, this one was not.
Q -- bilaterally at all?
MR. TARULLO: Bilaterally? Well, there were not really bilateral talks following the meeting that we had on Thursday. I don't know whether USTR at a staff level pursued it after that meeting. I'm not aware of any. There weren't any at the leaders level.
The issue of Japan's deregulation was mentioned in the review of overall economic conditions and where particular countries were going with their economies.
MR. MCCURRY: That's it for us unless there are any other last burning questions.
Q Mr. Berger, in the communique, you mentioned North Korea's missile development --
MR. BERGER: I'm sorry, say that again.
MR. MCCURRY: Missile development.
Q In the communique, you mentioned North Korea's missile development. How do you assess the military capability to attack the allies in East Asia?
MR. BERGER: Obviously, one of the most dangerous of the world today is the last -- in a sense the last frontier of the Cold War along the demilitarized zone between North Korea and South Korea -- heavily armed in the north with large numbers of forward-deployed forces, well defended in the south and backed by 37,000 American soldiers and, more importantly, an American security guarantee. So it is a dangerous area, but there should be no mistaking our commitment to our South Korean ally and to defend our South Korean ally if it ever were attacked.
Q Mr. Berger, just one more thing -- if you could clarify, is the United States prepared to offer any sort of mediation or good offices in the Northern Territory dispute?
MR. BERGER: I can't hear you, I'm sorry.
Q If you could clarify if the United States is prepared to offer any kind of good offices or mediation role in the Northern Territory Dispute.
MR. BERGER: Not in a formal sense. The President has spoken to this issue on more than one occasion, both to Prime Minister Hashimoto and to President Yeltsin. I think he's tried to convey each other's perspective on it to the other, and has encouraged them to engage themselves in an effort to resolve this problem.
I don't anticipate the United States playing a formal role, but given the fact, obviously, of President Clinton's relationship with both Prime Minister Hashimoto and President Yeltsin, I think the President feels that he can kind of try to pull the two together, prod them into addressing this between the two.
Q And the answer is, but I'd rather you say it than I.
MR. BERGER: No.
Q What was the communique -- what is the point of the communique's assertion that the Arabs and Israelis should not take steps to prejudge the final status talks? What is it that your criticizing there?
MR. BERGER: Well, it's been a consistent position of ours and of all of the countries that the issues involving the final status of the West Bank, involving Jerusalem -- you know what the final status issues are -- all of these are matters that should be decided between the parties in negotiations and there should not be actions on either side that preempt that process.
Q What you just were talking about are all actions by one side, so clearly your statement is aimed at Israel, isn't it?
MR. BERGER: No, it's not a statement aimed at Israel. It's a statement that is consistent with the position that we've taken consistently that these are the most difficult issues, whether they're actions by the Palestinians or by the Israelis, that seek to prejudge these final outcomes. I can imagine steps that might be taken by the Palestinians that would be similarly preemptive. That is not the way to build an enduring peace. That can only be done through negotiations.
MR. MCCURRY: We've got to move onward, unless anyone needs any last thing. I'll leave Mr. Toiv in charge -- no, he's leaving with the President. So we'll leave someone in charge.
Q Could you tell us if Helms-Burton was talked about at all this time?
MR. MCCURRY: I didn't have any report to me that it was, but I didn't have a complete report.
END 3:37 P.M. MDT