THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
PRESS BRIEFING BY TONY WAYNE, PRINCIPAL DEPUTY ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF STATE FOR EUROPE AND CANADA, AND DON BANDLER, SPECIAL ASSISTANT TO THE PRESIDENT FOR EUROPE AND SENIOR DIRECTOR OF THE NSC FOR EUROPEAN AFFAIRS The Briefing Room
2:46 P.M. EST
MS. LUZZATTO: Okay, we're going to have a readout of the US-EU summit which took place this morning, from Tony Wayne, the Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Europe and Canada, from the State Department; and from Don Bandler, Special Assistant to the President for Europe and Senior Director of the NSC for European Affairs.
MR. BANDLER: Thank you, Anne, and good afternoon to all of you. The President met today with European leaders, Prime Minister Jean-Claude Juncker of Luxembourg and the current President of the European Commission, Jacques Santer, at the Ninth Biannual US-EU Summit.
The meeting gave us -- gave the U.S. and the EU an opportunity to review progress in the transatlantic relationship at the conclusion of Luxembourg's presidency of the EU. So let me give you a summary, if I may, of the main results.
First, we used this year an innovative format with both a restricted session for the leaders only and a cabinet-level plenary session, which occurred in parallel, followed by a general report to the leaders over a working lunch in the Map Room at the White House.
Now, the results of the summit included, just to summarize them, and we'll get into a little more detail in a minute, agreement to a joint statement affirming that the U.S. and the EU were going to work together to promote reform in the Ukraine. Agreement as well to work together on regulatory -- better regulatory cooperation, including especially in the areas of consumer protection and again in trade promotion.
We signed a first-ever US-EU Science and Technology Agreement. This is an important one. We agreed to a path-finding joint statement on electronic commerce, which is going to be a very major area for development in the years ahead as we move to the 21st century.
Even in areas where we have differences, for example on climate change in the current negotiations at Kyoto, we issued a joint statement today affirming our desire to move forward together on that issue and in those negotiations.
The President of the United States expressed his support for -- following comments by USTR Barshefsky and Sir Leon Brittan, the President expressed his support for them to explore next steps to enhance the US-EU economic and trading relationship for our mutual benefit.
And we also talked frankly about areas in which we do have significant differences. We talked about agricultural trade problems and other problems in the trade field. We talked about differences over how we deal with Cuba and Iran. Finally, the leaders exchanged views on the future of EU and U.S. relations and our partnership, particularly as we look forward to the next century.
The plenary session looked at a number of important topics and welcomed advances in our partnership under the new transatlantic agenda. These include a wide range of practical initiatives, some of which I just mentioned, that are of benefit to citizens of the United States and the European Union. We reviewed our diplomatic cooperation across a wide range of issues, and we agreed on these joint statements, which I mentioned, in key regions, such as Ukraine, the former Yugoslavia, including both Bosnia and Kosovo, which are priority areas.
We also looked, as we said, to trade and economic questions, including the current trade frictions, which happen to be mostly in the agricultural area. We talked about opportunities to work together on cutting-edge trade issues, such as the electronic commerce statement and the regulatory cooperation.
Among the critical global issues that we discussed were increased law enforcement cooperation, including in the areas dealing with drugs, proliferation of drugs, and joining efforts to fight trafficking in women from Central and Eastern Europe.
At the restricted session, the leaders focused their conversation on high-priority foreign policy questions, including the Kyoto Conference on Global Climate Change; the Middle East peace process; prospects for upcoming European Union enlargement, including here our mutual interest in Turkey, in Turkey's relationship with Europe, and Turkey's desire eventually to become a member of the European Union.
There was also a discussion of how better to coordinate U.S. and EU policies on nations such as Iran and Iraq that threaten international peace and security. Under this rubric, there was consideration of the Helms-Burton law and the Iran-Libya Sanctions Act.
On the latter, President Clinton said that we have not yet completed our investigations on the sanctionability of two current cases under ILSA, but he made clear that he would implement the law. He emphasized his strong concern about Iran's efforts to acquire weapons of mass destruction and Iran's support for terrorism. He called on the European Union to join us in additional steps aimed at addressing this serious and important problem. On all these topics the leaders explored ways in which the U.S. and the EU could work more productively together in recognition of our respective strengths and interests.
At the working lunch the Cabinet officials presented to the leaders the key issues that they had identified during the plenary and the progress that they had made in various areas.
President Clinton and the leaders from the European Commission and the European Union expressed confidence in the future of transatlantic relations. They agreed that NATO enlargement and the enlargement of the European Union are complementary processes which are building a Europe whole and free and transforming the Euro-Atlantic space as we head towards the 21st century.
Overall, it's our view that this summit was useful -- for taking the temperature of the US-EU relationship, for making progress on a wide range of issues that characterize the breadth and the diversity of this trillion-dollar economic and investment relationship. And it will contribute to the closeness of transatlantic relations.
Q What progress did they make in terms of bridging differences over the positions related to the Kyoto negotiations?
MR. BANDLER: The discussion on Kyoto -- President Clinton went back over his overall view of the importance of involving the Third World countries, developing countries in the outcomes and how the Kyoto negotiations, how it was necessary in these negotiations to arrive at an outcome, a possibility of an agreement which will address a global problem in a global way.
They went over some of the nuances of difference in our position, but I would say the main outcome was an affirmation of the need for our delegations at Kyoto to work together closely to bridge whatever remaining differences there are and to act together in moving forward in this negotiation.
Q Can you provide some details on the discussions on Helms-Burton?
MR. BANDLER: The Helms-Burton discussion was less extensive than the one on ILSA legislation. We just agreed -- the U.S. and the EU have had discussions on Helms-Burton. There was agreement in April. And I think my colleague Tony Wayne was involved in it, so why don't I turn to Tony and he will tell you a little bit about that. But it was a reaffirmation of our desire to continue working together, as we had been doing in April, and to proceed in parallel with our other efforts to manage areas where we have some divergence.
MR. WAYNE: I just might add that in the plenary session, where the minister met separately while the leaders were meeting, there was a bit more of an in-depth discussion of Helms-Burton and there was a bit more of a discussion of Cuba. And particularly on Cuba, we compared our joint efforts to support the development of human rights and democratic rights, and the Europeans have been quietly active diplomatically and working with us and with others over the past six months.
We also have a set of negotiations going on within the context of the multilateral agreement on investment to try to develop a set of new rules, principles that would guide what you do when property gets confiscated unjustly, because that's what happened in Cuba. And we're actually, I think, making some good progress with the EU on this. These negotiations are still under way, but it was an opportunity for the two lead negotiators -- Under Secretary Eizenstat on our side, and Sir Leon Brittan on the side of the Commission -- to compare notes and to brief their colleagues as to where we stand in those negotiations.
Q Was it the decision of President Clinton to look for the authorization of Congress to suspend Chapter IV of the Helms-Burton -- it was what he said to the Europeans?
MR. BANDLER: This was mentioned in the discussion, that it needs to be renewed every six months -- or Chapter III? No, Chapter IV was not specifically discussed at this time. But that is discussed in the April -- that is discussed as part of the April agreement that was reached between the European Commission and our side, represented by Under Secretary Eizenstat, and so that's part of the work program, the broader work program we're looking at. But there was no decision on that matter.
Q How close is Turkey to getting into the EU?
MR. BANDLER: Well, the summit, the EU summit on December 12-13 is looking at that question as they look at how to bring in -- to look at the next round for accession, and I would say that there are very active negotiations going on now about it.
Q Is it only Turkey, or are there other countries?
MR. BANDLER: No, there are at least 12 potential aspirants right now that they're focused on, and five central, southern -- southeastern European nations who are on an accession track, pre-accession negotiations in all likelihood. There is Cyprus. There are other countries who are a bit further out, and the question of Turkey is being handled as well.
Q Did you discuss Cyprus becoming a member of the EU, too?
MR. BANDLER: There was some discussion about Cyprus. President Clinton expressed his great interest and the importance of that negotiation to him, explained some of Special Envoy Holbrooke's activities and his effort and his negotiating efforts in the field. There was an exchange of views on Cyprus and an agreement that the handling of Cyprus in the context of EU accession was an important question involving the whole issue of settlement.
Q Did they discuss the Greek-Turkey difference over the Aegean at this summit?
MR. BANDLER: There was not an extensive discussion of that, but this is certainly one of the factors -- on the EU side there was discussion -- this is one of the factors that they are looking at. It's of importance to us as well, obviously, of great importance that these tensions be addressed and reduced. The EU said that they were in active discussions with that, with the Turks and also with the Greeks, who are members of the EU, as part of the set of accession issues.
Q Can you give us some details about the discussions regarding the deal -- with Iran? Was it discussed at length?
MR. BANDLER: This is what I was referring to when I talked about ILSA, the Iran-Libya Sanctions Act, and I told you how we discussed that.
Q What kind of a deadline are you looking at in terms of this review of the deal that is under way now?
MR. BANDLER: We don't have a deadline on that deal. It's important that it be investigated thoroughly so that we know that we have the facts right about what exactly has transpired, what the companies have done. We can't go on press reports. And we have to also look at various options under the law and what would be applicable.
Q On the Kyoto round, was there any attempt to come up with some kind of concrete formula or approach that would bridge the differences, such as by differentiating targets for Europe and the United States or other industrial countries? How detailed was this discussion?
MR. WAYNE: It wasn't detailed in the sense of getting into the negotiations in the ministers and sub-cabinet discussion, but they did go through and identify the areas that they needed to work on over the next several days in Kyoto. So it was useful from that perspective. We had our lead negotiator -- Under Secretary of State Eizenstat was there. He identified these areas. We've issued a joint statement reaffirming our commitment to narrow our differences and to really deal with this problem constructively. The EU side presented their conception of where we had to go, but the whole tenor was, this is helping, this is pushing to see if we can get further along over the next several days in Kyoto.
Q On what areas of disagreement did they --
MR. WAYNE: Well, I think we'll leave that to their private discussion as we're trying to move together and to eliminate those. And I think the general tone was that there seemed to be a momentum, we hoped, building that we were going to move closer and closer together.
Q But from what you said earlier --
MR. BANDLER: If I might just add, in the meeting of the leaders on that question, President Clinton laid out his thinking on a conceptual level about climate change and how important it was to address this global question in a global way, to take advantage of upcoming technological evolutions and to make sure that not only we, the industrialized countries, take advantage of them, but the lesser developed countries, as they make decisions, make sound decisions for their energy futures, which will on the one hand lead them to better outcomes and lead us to the possibility of having, really, fewer of these emissions in the future, and also allow them to harness technological developments in the West at an earlier phase in their own economic development.
Q In terms of meeting the requirements of the Berlin mandate, just yesterday Katie McGinty stood right there and said the United States was not changing in any way its targets, timetables, which are a substantial source of disagreement with European countries. How can that be reconciled with this idea that we're moving together, moving closer? It sounds like all sides are pretty well dug in.
MR. BANDLER: No, I think, as in any negotiation, and this is a big one with a lot of countries and with various interests and there are sets of -- different sets of interests, and there certainly is margin of maneuver on questions. For example, the globality issue is one in which there is work to be done with the EU to narrow those differences.
So there was not a detailed discussion about -- there were no instructions sent to the negotiating teams, but there is an encouragement of the negotiating teams to recognize that we do have a lot in common, in terms of the outcomes that we desire from Kyoto. The President did not -- the President said that it is possible that we'll get an agreement, but a lot of things will have to happen between where we are now in the negotiation and the close of this negotiation in order to make that possible.
Q Like what?
MR. WAYNE: Let me -- just to mention -- other than targets and limits, there is the whole question of how you involve the developing countries in this process. That's an area where we can work together and move forward. And there is a lot to be explored there still. There is a lot of this being discussed that's in the mix.
Q Does the EU want to ease the sanctions on Libya and Iraq? Lift?
MR. BANDLER: No, I think the EU believes that its current set of activities, in which it does address the underlying concerns of this act -- or some of the underlying concerns, which are the weapons of mass destruction program and Iran's support for terrorism, they feel that they are already making strong efforts in that area and that this would justify a waiver of sanctions.
Q A waiver?
MR. BANDLER: Which is contained in the law itself.
Q What progress is our government making in having the Europeans take more responsibility and manpower and so forth, particularly manpower, in Bosnia in the peacekeeping operations, that whole thing?
MR. BANDLER: We really didn't discuss this question today. We didn't go into it.
Q Given what you said, what you've been saying on the Kyoto discussions, it seems that the central area of discussion related to the inclusion of the developing countries. Is that the make-it-or-break-it issue? Second, what about the differences between U.S. and EU views in terms of the cuts, targets --
MR. BANDLER: Also very, very important issues. Equally important issues. I don't mean to imply -- we've talked about the developing country issues, but that's an example. There are other issues on which we're not there yet in this negotiation, and limits is certainly an important one. The concept of a bubble -- it's a technical term that's being used as part of the European negotiating stance -- and other examples.
Q Was there a discussion of the concept of differentiation?
MR. BANDLER: There was some discussion of differentiation.
Q Can you describe that discussion?
MR. BANDLER: I can't really -- I don't want to go into any detail on that, but they talked about it and some of the differences in view we have about that and some of the areas where there is an understanding of why the concept is out there and how we can work with it.
Q This is a slightly different area, but why was it -- with Indonesia having a booming economy, why was it necessary for the IMF and for us to bail them out?
MR. BANDLER: That was the last summit, the APEC summit. So we did not -- we really didn't talk too much about these very important questions about Asia. It was not a central focus of this. I think there was some discussion of it, and I think on both the EU and the American side, a feeling that we -- a reaffirmation of our commitment to work with the countries in Asia that are having economic and financial problems. And President Clinton expressed appreciation for the work of the EU, particularly in some of these financing problems.
Q One more, please, on Helms-Burton. Did they discuss any time frame for the end of the -- especially in Chapter IV, that is the problem with the European Union?
MR. WAYNE: No, they did not discuss time frame here. It was more where they are -- they were just talking about the state of play in the negotiations.
Q And where are they?
MR. WAYNE: I'm not going to get into the details of where they are, but they're having -- they've been having good discussions back and forth, and substantive discussions on the aspect of confiscated properties. There have been a series of discussions over a number of months on that, within the context of the OECD larger negotiation, multilateral agreement on investment.
THE PRESS: Thank you.
MR. BANDLER: Thank you.
END 3:09 P.M. EST