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THE WHITE HOUSE

Office of the Press Secretary


For Immediate Release November 26, 1997

STATEMENT BY THE PRESIDENT

Today I have signed into law H.R. 2159, the "Foreign Operations, Export Financing, and Related Programs Appropriations Act, 1998."

I am pleased that the Act contains funding for many key international affairs programs at or near the amounts requested. The Act contains vital funding and other needed authorities in support of the Middle East peace process. It also provides for contributions to the multilateral development banks, including a down payment on the clearance of arrears, notably to the International Development Association; assistance to Eastern Europe and the Baltic States, as well as New Independent States of the former Soviet Union; international narcotics control; development assistance; and migration and refugee assistance. I am also very pleased that the Congress has fully funded my request of $222 million for the Peace Corps.

In addition, I commend the Congress for funding international family planning programs without the misguided "Mexico City" restrictions. My Administration continues to oppose these restrictions, which would deny funding to the most experienced and qualified family planning and maternal-child health care providers. I am also pleased that the Congress has reduced the number of other restrictions on assistance, such as earmarks, that have hampered my ability to carry out U.S. foreign policy.

I deeply regret that the Congress did not include funding for the International Monetary Fund's New Arrangements to Borrow (NAB) program. The NAB is needed to ensure that sufficient resources are available to respond to monetary crises in a world of rapidly expanding trade and finance. Recent events in southeast Asia only underscore the threat of shocks to the global financial system and the need for a strong and responsive IMF. The decision by the Congress not to provide this authority is irresponsible. I call on the Congress to provide funding for the NAB, and my Administration stands ready to work with the Congress to overcome obstacles to funding this important program.

My Administration is concerned that Russia's new law on religion be implemented in a manner that is consistent with international obligations and that fully respects religious freedom. We are watching carefully to assess Russian implementation of this law. At the same time, my Administration continues to oppose legislating limits on assistance, especially without the possibility of a presidential waiver. American assistance to Russia, including to the Russian government, serves important U.S. interests. Technical assistance that promotes tax reform and aids in removing obstacles to investment and assistance in nuclear reactor safety are two good examples.

While H.R. 2159 does contain a national security waiver related to Russian assistance to the Iranian missile program, my Administration still opposes in principle legislating limits on assistance to the Russian government because this assistance serves U.S. interests. The United States is conducting critical discussions with Russia on missile technology aid to Iran, and legislated assistance cutoffs could harm this process.

This Act contains several provisions that raise constitutional concerns, such as requirements that the United States take particular positions in international organizations. I will apply these and other provisions in the Act consistent with my constitutional responsibilities.

WILLIAM J. CLINTON

      THE WHITE HOUSE,
      November 26, 1997.

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