THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary (New York, New York) ________________________________________________________________________ For Immediate Release September 22, 1997
PRESS BRIEFING BY NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISOR SANDY BERGER, NSC SENIOR DIRECTOR BOB BELL , ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF STATE RICK INDERFURTH, ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF STATE JOHN SHATTUCK, PRESS SECRETARY MIKE MCCURRY
The Filing Center Loew's Hotel New York, New York
2:10 P.M. EDT
MR. MCCURRY: We've got a really big show for you today, Monday, in New York at the General Assembly meeting. Welcome to our colleagues from the State Department, who are here for two full weeks. And we pay special credit to Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, who is having, I am told, 85 bilateral meetings in the course of the next two weeks. We compliment her for that.
And we'll tell you about the President's bilaterals today. And here's what I am going to attempt to do right now and what we'll attempt to do later. National Security Advisor Sandy Berger will start with some on the President's speech and on his visit up here today. He can tell you a little bit about the bilateral meeting the President had with Russian Federation Foreign Minister Primakov.
Deputy National Security Advisor Jim Steinberg is hovering around and can lend an assist if necessary. Rick Inderfurth, who is the Assistant Secretary of State for South Asia, will tell you about the bilateral meeting that the President had with Prime Minister Sharif and preview for you the President's meeting this afternoon with Prime Minister Gujral. I expect after the India bilateral that Rick will be able to come back and do a few points at the end of the day on that.
Senior Director at the NSC for Defense Policy and Arms Control Bob Bell will talk a little bit about the CTBT element in the President's speech. Dick Clark, who is our Senior Director for Global Affairs -- Globalization -- is here and can answer questions if you have them specifically on the arrears issue. And Assistant Secretary of State for Human Rights John Shattuck is here to talk a little bit about some of the commitments the President made with respect to human rights in the speech he gave at the U.N.
That's our line-up, and we've got some others around here. After you do that, after you have lunch and after you're well asleep, I'll be willing to come back and do some more questions.
Mr. Berger -- not that Mr. Berger would put you to sleep. (Laughter.)
Mr. Berger. Thank you.
MR. BERGER: I'm sure it's the lunch that would put you to sleep. First of all, I want to reassure you that we will do a readout on every one of Secretary Albright's 82 bilats in the briefing room next week. (Laughter.)
Let me talk very briefly about the speech, since you all heard it, and underscore a few elements of it and then ask Bob Bell in particular to talk about the comprehensive test ban treaty, which the President today has sent to the Hill for ratification.
I think what we heard today is the President putting -- first let me talk a second about the larger context of the speech. I think what you heard is the President drawing a frame around what he has increasingly been discussing over the past year, and that is describing this new era in which we're entering and the new arrangements and institutions which we seek to build in that era.
The rhetoric or the phraseology you're talking about the post-Cold War era increasingly is irrelevant. That defines things in terms of what has ended. And increasingly, I think you will hear the President seeking to define things in terms of that which we are trying to build.
This period, as the President indicated, is driven by powerful forces that are integrating the world. Those forces are economic -- those are the ones we are most familiar with -- but they're also political in the form of, for example, arms control regimes, the President talked about, and they're also social, as nations embrace democracy and embrace common values expressed, as the President said, by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
So what we need is a new strategy for security in a new global era, as the President said. And that has a number of dimensions, as you've seen over the past year and more -- security dimensions as we expand NATO and build a Partnership for Peace and extend our relationship with Russia. It has economic implications as we seek to gain fast track authority and continue the work of building a new economic system for the global economy.
It has major arms control dimensions as we go forward with the Chemical Weapons Convention, the non-proliferation treaty, the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty. And it has social dimensions in the human rights area and otherwise.
I think the President was engaged today in a speech that was partly thematic, seeking to begin to put that frame around the world we're heading into and what we seek to accomplish.
The second fundamental objective of the speech was to talk about the U.N.'s responsibilities in this new world, because, as the President indicated, these forces of integration that bring us together also have within them the seeds of disintegration, whether that is fueling terrorism or the nexis of terrorism and crime and narco-trafficking on the one hand, or increasing the disparities between rich and poor on the other hand.
And increasingly, we look to institutions like the United Nations to deal with those kinds of problems. And I think in part that part of the speech was directed towards an American audience and a congressional audience to say that the United Nations remains as important in its second 50 years as it was in its first 50 years.
There were three specific elements of the speech worth noting. One, obviously, as I said before, is the President's announcement that he is today sending up a comprehensive test ban treaty for Senate ratification. This is a treaty that he signed almost exactly a year ago here in New York. As he indicated, he was the first signatory of that treaty.
This is a treaty first discussed by President Dwight Eisenhower, and in many ways, launched by President John Kennedy, with a limited test ban treaty. But it has alluded the world for all of these decades. We now have this treaty signed by a large number of countries, and we will hope to have this considered by the Senate at least at the committee level this fall, and then in larger debate next year.
The President also talked about his goal to see an international criminal court established and for the first time set up a timetable of trying to establish such a criminal court by the end of this century. He's talked about this before. We have the War Crimes Tribunal in Bosnia; we have the War Crimes Tribunal in Rwanda. But increasingly, there is a need for an institution that can deal with figures who have committed crimes against humanity.
When Pol Pot, for example , was thought perhaps to be -- about to be apprehended, there were questions about where he would be tried. And an international criminal court, obviously, would be able to deal with that problem.
And then, finally, the President addressed, as you know, the question of our obligations and responsibilities as a nation to the United Nations. We are the largest contributor to the United Nations, but we have still accumulated arrears that really were drawn -- drew up in the late '80s and early '90s. We have now a bill in the Congress that would allow us to pay that off. It has certain conditions that it imposes on the United Nations with respect to our assessment rate, which we will try if we get the bill out of the Congress to get the U.N. General Assembly to accept and adopt during this session.
Let me ask Bob Bell to talk a little bit more about CTBT, and then I'll come back to the Primakov readout.
MR. BELL: Thank you, Sandy.
The President's submission today of the CTBT to the United States Senate marks another important milestone in securing a treaty that he again today called the longest-sought, hardest-fought prize in the history of arms control.
The CTB, which has now been signed by 146 countries, establishes an absolute prohibition against the conduct of nuclear weapons test explosions, or any other nuclear explosion anywhere. And through this, it will constrain the proliferation -- a further proliferation of nuclear weapons in all its aspects, both horizontally and vertically.
The treaty establishes a far-reaching verification regime based on four different global detection and monitoring techniques -- seismic, hydrocoustic, radionucleid, and intrasound. The verification regime includes rules for the conduct of on-site inspections, provisions for consultation and clarification, and voluntary confidence-building measures designed to contribute to the timely resolution of any compliance concerns arising from possible misinterpretation of monitoring data related, for example, to earthquakes or chemical explosions.
Equally important to the U.S. ability to verify this treaty, the text specifically provides for the right of state's parties to use information obtained by national technical means for purposes of verification, including for substantiating requests for on-site inspections.
And now, as a key element of this administration's national security strategy, the United States must and will, even as we pursue START II and START III, retain strategic nuclear forces sufficient to deter any future hostile foreign leadership with access to strategic nuclear forces from acting against our vital interest, and to convince it that seeking a nuclear advantage would be futile.
The President has been assured by the Secretary of Energy and the directors of our nuclear weapons labs that we can meet the challenge of maintaining our nuclear deterrent without nuclear testing under a CTB through a science-based stockpile stewardship program that we now project will cost on the order of $4.5 billion a year. The President directed the establishment of such a program almost two years ago, and it has been developed and refined since with the full support of the Secretary of Defense and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
In addition to codifying a new annual certification procedure for our nuclear weapons stockpile, the President is also establishing six concrete, specific safeguards that find the conditions under which the United States can enter into this CTB. And Mike has made available to you a fact sheet that describes in some detail each of those six conditions which are going to the Senate today with the treaty.
Q One quick question. How many countries have ratified the treaty?
MR. BELL: The last count I had was four, I believe, starting with Japan -- 146 have signed; four have ratified. Under the treaty, there was a minimum of a two-year period from signature to get the requisite 44 ratifications required to enter the treaty into force. So we've begun the process; we've got a year to go in terms of that minimum timetable that was envisioned when the treaty was signed a year ago.
Q What four have ratified it?
MR. BELL: I know it's Japan, Fiji, and two others, but, I'm sorry, I don't know the other two.
Q And, Bob, why did you wait a year to submit the treaty?
MR. BELL: Well, we've not been waiting. We've certainly not been idle. As you know, we've worked very, very hard on this the last year to get the whole package ready for the Senate, including all of the crucial interpretations in the article-by-article analysis about what is prohibited and not prohibited under this treaty. We've worked very hard -- Sandy Berger, Frank Raines, DOD and DOE in particular -- the last two months to refine the stockpile stewardship program and get consensus on the exact level of funding that's going to be required to make that work.
And in addition, it's important to note that there is a sense of sequencing here. We turned our attentions, as most of you know, in earnest to the Chemical Weapons treaty in January and February. Sandy was right in the middle of that, negotiating with Senator Lott. It was clear to us that we needed to win that vote to set the stage for CTB. That took us well into April. Then we threw ourselves into the CFE flank agreement, which had a deadline in May that had to be met, and got a 100 to zero vote on that.
Then we turned to CTB in the summer. The last issue was this funding question which we've now resolved, and we're ready to go.
Q Do you think you'll get the same bipartisan support as you finally got for Chemical? Is there a problem ahead?
MR. BELL: Well, we intend to win this vote, and failure is not an option.
Q If India continues to refuse to sign, does the treaty not go into effect?
MR. BELL: No. It's an issue of timing. What the states that negotiated this treaty intended was a schedule where 44 countries -- which does include India -- if they ratify within the first two years would allow the treaty to go into force in September of next year.
But, of course, it was no secret even in the end game of this negotiation a year ago in Geneva that the government of India had very serious objections to joining this treaty. So we made a mid-course correction, if you will, at the 11th hour, before the treaty was signed, and put into the treaty a kind of plan B, an alternative course which says that if, by the fall of 1999, we've not gotten the 44 countries that must sign and ratify to have completed that action, then a majority of the states that have ratified can call a special conference, the objective of which would be to find a way to get the treaty into force even though the original entry into force criteria had not been met.
That's one reason why it's so important for the U.S. Senate to act on this and for the U.S. to show leadership, so that we can be available if that contingency should arise two years from now.
Q Bob, Helms' office have said they're not going to take this up immediately, they have to deal first with the NATO expansion. And also, they say that they continue to have concerns about this seismic event in Russia on August 16th and their belief that it was an actual nuclear test. Have you been able to answer that question as to what that event was?
MR. BELL: Well, there are two points there. First, the Secretary of State has been in consultations with Chairman Helms on the question of this treaty and he certainly understands that we're sending it up now. We certainly understand what the Senate schedule is and how relatively late in this session it is. That's why Sandy said very clearly that our goal for this fall is to get the hearing started, to get the word out on this treaty, and then next year turn to the heavy lifting of a mark-up in committee and taking it to the senator floor.
Now, with regard to the incident on August 16 at Novaya Zemlya, we're still reviewing the technical data that continues to come in on that incident. And we've been in touch with the Russian government to seek their help in helping us understand what it was and what it wasn't. The data is not conclusive. It lends itself to alternative interpretations. You cannot rule out that it was an explosion; you cannot rule out that it was an earthquake.
I think the point is, though, with this treaty -- if this treaty were in force, Russia would have an obligation first to respond to request for clarification, and if necessary and if the organization that will administer the treaty saw fit, it could direct an on-site inspection to help clarify what happened. So the treaty is important in cases like this to give us new tools.
Our intelligence community is going to be monitoring Russian activities -- indeed, everyone's activities -- in the nuclear arena globally with or without the treaty. But with the treaty, our intelligence community gets new tools to do the job they've got to do anyway out of our own national security interest.
Q You could argue what good is a treaty that Russia had signed, but now they won't even answer the questions to your satisfaction about this event.
MR. BELL: It's too soon to say they haven't answered the questions to our satisfaction because those discussions are still continuing.
ASSISTANT SECRETARY SHATTUCK: The President made a number of significant points in the area of human rights. You have before you I think a fact sheet laying out U.S. efforts over the last five years to strengthen -- successful efforts -- to strengthen the human rights mission of the United Nations. And I think what we saw in the President's speech is a very significant focusing on two areas.
First, in the effort to resolve conflicts involving massive human rights abuse which have plagued the post-Cold War world, he focused on institutions of justice and the effort to develop institutions of justice in this immediate period ahead. Building on the work of the two war crimes tribunals which U.S. leadership created in 1993 and '94, the Rwanda and Yugoslav tribunals, the President called for the creation of an international criminal court or the establishment of that by the end of the century.
This court is the institution, as Sandy Berger indicated, which would have a global jurisdiction to try cases of international humanitarian law. And we believe, and I think the framework established by the President clearly establishes that justice is a critical element of conflict resolution; that conflicts, particularly those which involve massive violations of international humanitarian law, cannot ultimately be resolved without a significant element of justice.
The President focused also on other institutions in the justice area, particularly the truth commissions, the U.N.-sponsored and some other truth commissions which the U.S. has supported, and he called for the strengthening of that as an effort to deal with the aftermath of massive human rights crises in various countries. Also, I think the strengthening of institutions at the national level, providing assistance to police, technical assistance, courts, justice systems of the kind that the U.S. has put a great deal of emphasis on in recent years, particularly in Bosnia and Haiti.
The second aspect of the speech that is worth highlighting in this area is the strengthening of early warning systems in the area of human rights abuse. Here the President focused on the great opportunities that are presented by the appointment of Mary Robinson, former head of state of Ireland, by the Secretary General as the new U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights. He made a commitment to work to make sure she has the full support of the world in doing so. The U.S. has contributed over the last four years to this new institution, the High Commissioner, which was created with our leadership in 1994, over $12 million to that effort. And certainly the continuation of support in that area is going to be critical.
Also, field operations mounted by the High Commissioner in many difficult situations where conflict might break out again -- Rwanda, Bosnia, and many other areas are worth highlighting in that respect.
So these are the two key elements in the human rights area for the resolution of conflict involving massive human rights abuse -- justice and early warning, with specific U.N. institutions targeted for additional assistance.
The last point I think worth emphasizing here is that the President put a great deal of emphasis on the issue of the universality of human rights, making very clear that the United States will stand at the head of the line in pushing and pressing for universal human rights commitments around the world, taking on those who say that human rights are not universal; rather, they are the underpinning of this entire area of conflict resolution that was such a key focus of his speech.
MR. BERGER: Let me give you a few points in the Primakov meeting and then Secretary Inderfurth will talk a bit about the President's meeting with President Sharif.
The discussion began with Bosnia, where there has been a strong degree of cooperation between the United States and Russia. The Foreign Minister Primakov stressed the importance in his mind of continuing to work together as we have in the military side.
They talked a bit about what's happening in Srbska and the conflict that has arisen between President Plavsic and the Pale Serbs. The Foreign Minister indicated that the Russians would not oppose the parliamentary elections that President Plavsic has called for for next month. That's an important development. I believe he initially said that to Secretary Albright last night. And that eliminates any obstacle we might have had to seeing those elections supervised by the OSCE go forward next month.
There was a lengthy discussion of arms control. One of the things that has begun to happen in Moscow is a very serious effort now to push forward on ratification of START II, and Foreign Minister Primakov reported on the consultations that he and others have had with the Duma on START II. And I think, while he clearly indicated that it remains a difficult issue, I think he had some higher degree of optimism that it was possible to get this done than in prior meetings.
Sometime in the near future, perhaps even this week, we would hope that if some final issues can be resolved, that Secretary Albright and Foreign Minister Primakov will sing the START II protocol, which was hammered out by President Yeltsin and President Clinton in Helsinki. This is the protocol -- essentially, an amendment to START II which would stretch out the period for dismantlement of covered weapons, but their deactivation -- that is the elimination of their warhead -- would continue to take place by 2003.
There are a few issues that remain to be worked out. We would hope that that could move forward because that will be part of the package, in a sense, that will be taken to the Duma.
The Foreign Minister talked about continuing the expert level discussions that have been ongoing with respect to START III. The President thought that would be good for those discussions to continue, but made clear that we, of course, could not start the negotiation of START III until there has been ratification of START II. But, all in all, I took it as a hopeful discussion that the Russian government, President Yeltsin and his government now, are moving very forcefully to move START II to ratification.
There was some discussion of the Middle East, and Foreign Minister Primakov expressed strong support for what Secretary Albright was seeking to do in her recent mission. As always, in discussions in the Middle East, there was a discussion of continuing to have close consultations with the Russians as we move ahead -- the Russians being the co-chair, of course, of the Madrid process, which launched this back in '91.
Finally, the President raised, as he has on numerous occasions, concerns with respect to any military cooperation between Russia and Iran. President Yeltsin has in the past assured the President that he would deal with this in a very clear way. We have Ambassador Wisner now or just finishing, discussions in Moscow with Minister Koptiev, which I think have gone well and produced some greater clarity.
And then finally, the President raised the issue of the Russian religious law which, as you know, President Yeltsin vetoed. It was rewritten. It has passed the Duma lower house. In its present form it now goes to the Federation Council sometime in the next few weeks. We continue to have concerns with the law as it's currently drafted, and the President made those clear to Foreign Minister Primakov as the Vice President is doing in meetings with Prime Minister Chernomyrdin and President Yeltsin in the next few days. And that was essentially it.
Let me ask Rick Inderfurth to talk a bit about --
Q Sandy, are there differences with the Russians concerning Bosnia apart from the agreement on the elections? The Russians had been a lot closer to Pale than I think we wanted to be for a long time. Did you solve all of these problems?
MR. BERGER: I think there is a somewhat different perspective that we bring to it, but I think we have drawn much closer to each other in terms of our view of the situation. And I think the Russians understand that those people in Srbska who are supportive of Dayton require the support of the international community, and those people in Srbska who are opposed to Dayton do not deserve the support of the international community.
So while I think the Russians still have an historical relationship with the Serbs, I think they're clearly able to make some distinctions between those who see the future of Srbska as connected to the world and those who see the future of Srbska as a nationalist island, isolated.
Q On the question of Iran, you said that there was some clarity that has come out of these latest Wisner conversations. What do you mean by that? Has Russia told you that it will stop its cooperation, particularly nuclear, with Iran? And on the Middle East, I think it was Primakov who said something recently about wanting to launch a more aggressive role in the Middle East now. Have you agreed to that?
MR. BERGER: On the Middle East, we've agreed to remain in very close contact with the Russians. And Secretary Albright and Foreign Minister Primakov are in very close contact with each other on a range of issues, and I think this will be very high on the list.
As far as Russia and Iran, as you know in the past the Russians have indicated that they have suspended or stopped much of their assistance to the Iranian nuclear program. There remain some activities that they continue to be engaged in, and we continue to press them on that, as well as on our concerns in the missile area.
Q So there is no new progress on that, in other words?
MR. BERGER: Well, this was not -- this was discussed by Ambassador Wisner and Minister Koptiev in Moscow just in the last few days, and I think we need to hear his report before we determine it.
Q On the religious law, did the President suggest any linkage between passage of that law and continued U.S. aid?
MR. BERGER: The President expressed his concern about the law. And while it may be, in some respects, better than the earlier version, there continue to be problems with it, and the President expressed both his concerns with the law itself and how then it might be implemented if it were going to be enacted, given the extraordinary majorities that it now has in the Duma and the Federation Council.
Q No linkage to aid, though?
MR. BERGER: There are a range of issues, and we don't in each case say, A is linked to B and B is linked to C, but clearly this is an important issue.
Q How did the Foreign Minister react?
MR. BERGER: I think they would contend that this is better than the law that President Yeltsin vetoed, and that they would enforce it in a way that was not directed at the religious groups that have raised concerns about it. I'm not sure that satisfies all of our concerns however.
Q Primakov described only in very general terms the message he brought from President Yeltsin. Can you shed some light and perhaps of the specifics of that message?
MR. BERGER: No. It's in Russian, and I haven't --
Q You haven't got the translation?
MR. BERGER: No, I haven't had it translated yet.
Q What was Primakov also referring to when he said he just got this morning the signal from Moscow pursuant to a discussion he had with Albright, presumably last night?
MR. BERGER: It's a good question, and I'm not really, actually clear about the answer. I think it is in this arms control cluster. I think it relates to whether we can bring closure to the START II protocol by the end of the week. As I said, there are a number of sort of technical but important issues that remain unresolved. Nothing, I guess, is unimportant in the context of an arms control agreement, I think that he was referring to that. In the meeting, he didn't say, this is what I was referring to in response to the question, so I don't quite know what to link that up to. But that's what I would guess.
Q On another arms control matter, was there a reason for the President not to mention land mines in this speech?
MR. BERGER: Not particularly. We have talked about it a good deal over the last week. I think it's hard to discuss that issue briefly in the current context. The thrust of this speech was as I have described it basically -- what are the forces that are shaping the new global era and how are we going to deal with them.
But the President feels very confident that we continue to be the world's leader on the destruction and elimination of land mines. We have done far more than any other country in the world. And the President announced last week even further steps. We've already given up the mines that cause the horror that we all detest, that stay active even after the battle is over, and are there lurking as traps for unsuspecting civilians.
We've given up those mines, except in the limited circumstances of Korea. And what the President -- and -- number one. Number two, we've destroyed, by the end of this year, three million land mines around the world. Number three, the President said last week that he would go further and even eliminate the self-destructing mines, the mines that deactivate automatically by 2003; and in Korea, we would eliminate all mines by 2006.
So I think that we -- I feel very comfortable with the position the President has taken and think he's done the right thing. But in terms of the context of the speech, it just took me a minute and a half to answer that question, it's not a one-liner.
Q Was there any discussion between Primakov and the President of the test ban treaty itself?
MR. BERGER: I don't believe so. I don't believe that it came up specifically.
Q The understanding that it won't go before the Duma until START II has been dealt with?
MR. BERGER: I would hope that would be their order of priority. For us, START II is really -- getting START II passed then enables us to go back to our Senate with the START II protocol -- the so-called -- the amendment I referred to -- with the agreement we've reached with Russia on how to distinguish between ABMs and theatre missile -- the ABM-TMD agreement. And then, more importantly, we can start the process of negotiating START III into the frame of 2,000 to 2,500 weapons, which would be 85 percent lower than the Cold War levels.
Q Sandy, the Secretary General, prior to the President speaking, made clear he wants all countries who are in arrears to pay back with no conditions. You've said the bill the administration backs has conditions. How are you going to reconcile those positions?
MR. BERGER: Skillfully. (Laughter.) We had a bill that has passed in the Senate, passed in both Houses -- passed in the Senate with the support of Chairman Helms, which provides for $819 million of the money that we owe. This is, again, an accumulated arrears, largely run up in the late '80s, early '90s. But in order for that money to be released, according to the Senate bill, certain benchmarks have to be met by the U.N., including a reduction of our assessment rate -- 22 percent this year, and then to 20 percent by the year 2000.
So we're going to be working on two fronts here. We're going to be working with the Congress to get that bill improved to the extent that we can and passed. It has other issues attached to it -- Mexico City population language, for example -- that right now is holding it up. But we hope to get that authorization bill out of the Congress, while Ambassador Richardson and his team up here are working very hard to line up support for a realignment of assessments. The assessment rate is, in fact, in need of realignment. China pays the same amount as Mali, for example. So one would look at that and think that maybe these are somewhat obsolete assessments and there needs to be some realignment. It's not only a function of our own particular problem.
Q Are you going to pressure any other countries? Will you pressure any other countries to up their assessment, like Russia?
MR. BERGER: Well, by definition, if our assessment goes down, other people's assessment goes up, which is why this is not the easiest sell.
Q But I mean targeting, like China and --
MR. BERGER: Well, there are a number of regimes that -- a number of proposals that have been surfaced that are not so much country specific, but are neutral with respect to countries, that set floors and ceilings on assessments and then would have the result of a realignment of assessments that would be both more fair from our perspective and not terribly onerous from the perspective of other countries.
ASSISTANT SECRETARY INDERFURTH: The President's bilateral meeting with Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif -- he's having two of his three bilaterals with South Asian leaders, which those of us working in the region are delighted. Let me give you a quick summary of what the two leaders discussed.
I should tell you that attending the meeting, among others, were Secretary of State Albright, National Security Advisor Berger, Foreign Minister Gohar Ayub, Foreign Secretary Shamshab Ahmad and Under Secretary Pickering.
The meeting was intended to be a clear statement by the President of greater U.S. involvement with the region. The message was warmly received by the Prime Minister. They discussed high-level visits. Prime Minister Sharif extended an invitation to the President to visit Pakistan. The President accepted. The date to be determined. The President also discussed other high-level visits that will take place -- Secretary Albright later this year, along with Under Secretary Pickering and other high level U.S. officials.
The two leaders clearly are on the same wavelength. As you know, the President stated in his General Assembly address that what leaders need to have is vision -- as he put it, to envision a future that is different from the past. For his part, the Prime Minister said on several occasions during the meeting with the President that he wants to see the past during with the President that he wants to see the past 50 years of tension -- and that is his statement -- 50 years of tension with India put to an end.
The Prime Minister also expressed to the President his respect and, indeed, his friendship, for Prime Minister Gujral, who as you know, the President will see this afternoon.
The other topics discussed during the meeting included strengthening democracy in Pakistan and respect for human rights, the state of the economy and economic reform, U.S. and Pakistani cooperation to combat terrorism and narcotics trafficking. And the President also urged the Prime Minister to see the Chemical Weapons Convention ratified.
In terms of U.S.-Pakistan relations, the President said that he wants to deepen our relationship, that we should be partners for the right reasons. And, again, this message was very well received by Prime Minister Sharif.
In terms of the meeting this afternoon with the Indian Prime Minister, Prime Minister Gujral, the President and the Prime Minister saw each other briefly last night at the reception. Last Saturday in Calcutta, the First Lady had a very good discussion with the Prime Minister while she was there. I think that there will be similar themes discussed in the meeting this afternoon, including greater U.S. engagement across the board with India. Also, again, the envisioning of future different from the past, is I think a theme that has residence with the Indian Prime Minister as well as the Pakistani Prime Minister.
The focus will be on bilateral issues, especially economic, trade and investment. India is one of the 10 large emerging markets and U.S. business is quite interested in doing more in India.
The President will also, I'm sure, talk about his visit to India, will take place next year. It will be the first visit by an American President in 20 years, since Jimmy Carter was there in 1978. So I think that those will be the key items that will be discussed this afternoon. But I will be available to come back and brief you on that meeting.
Q Did they discuss the new Asia seat on the Security Council? Did the Pakistani Prime Minister express that he wants support for getting that seat?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY INDERFURTH: That issue did not come up.
Q Is it expected to at the India?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY INDERFURTH: I assume.
Q What about the test ban treaty? Is he talking to them about that?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY INDERFURTH: The test ban treaty did not come up in that meeting. Again, the issue of the Chemical Weapons Convention did, but the test ban treaty did not.
Q Yeltsin wouldn't they come up if they --
ASSISTANT SECRETARY INDERFURTH: I'm sorry?
Q Why would it not come up? Doesn't he want them to support the treaty?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY INDERFURTH: It was not raised.
Q Will Clinton raise it with the Indians, though?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY INDERFURTH: Well, we'll have to see what they do raise. They have approximately the same amount of time for the meeting -- 30 minutes. But I'll be back to talk about that.
Q What about Cashmere? Did that come up at all?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY INDERFURTH: Cashmere -- in the context of the President's strong support for the Indo-Pak dialogue that's taking place, he made it very clear that although the U.S. will not be a mediator in this dispute, as was said, the U.S. will certainly be involved if both parties want us to. But again, there is no mediator view of the U.S. government, but clearly we want to be supportive of a process that is indeed looking to the future.
Q -- of trying to persuade the Pakistan Prime Minister to consider the LOC issue?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY INDERFURTH: I'm sorry, I couldn't hear --
Q The LOC issue? Was any attempt made by Mr. Clinton to discuss with the Pakistan Prime Minister the issue of the LOC?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY INDERFURTH: The LOC?
Q Line of control.
ASSISTANT SECRETARY INDERFURTH: Oh, the LOC issue. No, that was not raised at the meeting. Again, in terms of the review about is taking place between India and Pakistan in terms of the dialogue, the President expressed strong support for that. And that's where we are.
MR. MCCURRY: Assistant Secretary Inderfurth will be back after the bilateral with Prime Minister Gujral so you can do some more on that. My thanks to Sandy Berger and to all the team -- they are leaving. Any last burning question on that?
Q Mike, on the President at the Primakov thing was asked about the latest memos and he said twice that he believed we were acting within the letter of the law. What about the spirit of the law?
MR. MCCURRY: I think the President feels the spirit of the law is designed to provide a legal framework and process by which candidates raise money. He had to raise a lot of it in the course of 1995-'96, and you've heard him before on the subject of what he thinks in general of the system. The system needs to be reformed, the law itself needs to be reformed. And the President is standing with those in Congress who are now close, we believe, to achieving reform.
Q Is the White House looking at any of these call lists and trying to verify whether indeed any of them actually got through?
MR. MCCURRY: My understanding is our Counsel's Office is more familiar with this. I think, as the President indicated to you, he has only seen the news reports, in fact had not even -- as he said, not even read all the news reports, so he wasn't quite certain what call sheets were being referred to in the news reports that he saw. But our Counsel's Office has been looking at the information. Of course, some of that was provided to committees that have been looking at these matters. But to my knowledge, the Counsel's Office has not had an opportunity to review these additional call sheets with the President. Or at least that has not been reported to me.
Q Does the President think it's appropriate then that the Justice Department do this 30-day review?
MR. MCCURRY: The President didn't comment beyond what he already told you.
Q Well, on the same subject, yesterday the President said, when he was asked about the Justice Department review, said, I don't know anything about it. Was he not briefed? Was there not -- I thought I understood that the Justice Department notified the White House.
MR. MCCURRY: My understanding from those that talked to him was that he was just saying, the rationale of the decision, the scope of the decision and the parameters of the decision were that he was unfamiliar with.
Q One more on this subject. Harold Ickes was deposed again today I believe by the Senate committee. He was earlier quoted as saying he was relieved every time the President would make a call or two. Is Ickes' memory faulty, that the President --
MR. MCCURRY: I'm not going to comment on matters that the Justice Department is looking into.
Q You were talking about the news reports. Was he saying that he was unfamiliar with the news reports on the memos or --
MR. MCCURRY: That's correct.
Q -- unfamiliar with the memos?
MR. MCCURRY: I think the President said that he hadn't had a chance to read fully the news accounts and wasn't exactly sure what they were referring to when it came to these additional call sheets.
Q Mike, he emphasizes that he wants the press and the public to know that what he did was legal. He says this a couple of times in his comments today. Does he think that it's -- the allegations are being totally distorted, and by who?
MR. MCCURRY: I think some of these allegations are clearly partisan in nature, and the American public can be treated to a lot of press coverage and a lot of commentary that is partisan in spirit. We certainly don't have to go far to find that.
Q You may not be able to answer this, Mike, but when he says that, does he mean that the President is exempt from this law, that he should be able to make --
MR. MCCURRY: No. To review what the President said, he believed and believes now that what he did was legal. And he's positive that when he was conducting his fundraising activity it was certainly with the intent of following the letter of the law. The President's statement was pretty clear. I can't add much more to it.
Q Does that mean that he does think he's exempt from the law?
MR. MCCURRY: The President didn't address that question.
Q When he said the letter of the law, does he mean that the law does not cover solicitations to people who are outside --
MR. MCCURRY: I'm not interpreting. The President's statement is obvious and it speaks for itself.
Q Well, it could mean that either he's exempt or it could mean that --
MR. MCCURRY: I'm not interpreting the statement further.
Q Well, Mike, a lot of people would look at that comment and say, how about following the spirit of the law rather than the letter of it?
MR. MCCURRY: That question has been asked and answered.
Other questions. All right.
Q What is the President doing tomorrow?
MR. MCCURRY: Tomorrow? He's got the day off tomorrow. He's going to the opera tonight, day off tomorrow, and then we head for the AFL-CIO speech Wednesday and the Little Rock anniversary of Central High on Thursday.
Q -- Darrell Jones is the President's Air Force Secretary choice?
MR. MCCURRY: I'd have to check on that. I don't know a thing about that.
Any other subjects. We'll have Inderfurth back here after the Indian bilat. We'll do some readout, particularly for local consumption if there is anything interesting at the opera tonight, to the pool.
And beyond that, we will have regular briefing tomorrow at the White House. And I guess I'll gaggle tomorrow at the White House.
Q Are you going to tell the pool about Carmen?
MR. MCCURRY: Yes, and about -- I think Oren and company are interested in if he sees the Mayor there tonight.
I don't see any -- maybe there is no reason to gaggle tomorrow morning, since people are not getting back -- what time do you all get back tonight? Really late? Why don't I just announce now, and hope they hear it in Washington, no gaggle tomorrow morning, or maybe a later time for the gaggle so people don't have to straggle in.
Q But you're going to come back after the Indian bilat?
MR. MCCURRY: Yes. I may or may not, depending on what else is going on. I'll probably come back over with Inderfurth. I'll be around.
THE PRESS: Thank you.
END 3:04 P.M. EDT