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                        Office of the Press Secretary
                        (Hilton Head, South Carolina)
For Immediate Release                                  December 31, 1997
                                PRESS GAGGLE
                              BY JOE LOCKHART
                       Centrecourt Conference Center
                               Palmetto Dunes
                        Hilton Head, South Carolina

1:32 P.M. EST

MR. LOCKHART: I want to just get this done very quickly and you can all go off on your merry ways and enjoy New Year's Eve. For those of you who were not at the hotel when Ambassador Lader -- I think he did a -- he is doing a daily briefing for the press. Those of you who were not there, let me tell you what the President did this morning. He came over about 9:00 a.m. to the various sessions. He attended three sessions -- one entitled Spiritual Values in a Secular Society; the second one was A Multiethnic Society: Is it better or worse?; and the third one was called Global Beat.

Q Global what?

MR. LOCKHART: Beat. Which was described to me as a free-form foreign policy session ranging from anything from China to Mexico to the Middle East. The session that he particularly singled out as the one he enjoyed, not surprisingly, was the multiethnic, because it is an issue that he's been thinking a lot about and is very much a part of the Race Initiative that he has embarked on. And as you all know, he's spoken about it at length in various forums over the last six or seven months.

From there he went off to golf; the pool was with him. Tonight, as in the past years, they plan to have one big session which includes the President talking, the First Lady, I think they'll take some questions. And then they will celebrate the new year, probably well into the night.

Other than that, tomorrow he will probably leave here around 1:00 p.m., to go to the Virgin Islands. And when we get in I think we'll be down for the evening, but I'll have Josh and Elizabeth check on the schedule.

MS. PAYNE: He's down. He just goes to the residence.

MR. LOCKHART: He's down. That's what I thought. So that's the schedule. Anything else?

Q What does he do before 1:00 p.m. tomorrow?

MR. LOCKHART: I think he may do what he's doing this afternoon.

Q Does he play golf in the Virgin Islands? I don't remember.

MR. LOCKHART: Yes. I think there is a course on the island, yes.

Q So it's not as though he would be deprived if he didn't play here.

MR. LOCKHART: Correct. Correct.

Q Are you aware of any communication from the government of Iran to the United States? The State Department was tipping a few days ago that we expected some sort of a New Year's statement from the President of Iran. And I was just wondering whether that rung a bell with you, anything like that?

MR. LOCKHART: The only thing I'm aware of is what I saw in the newspaper this morning about something. I think he's doing an interview with an American television network next week. But that's the only thing that I'm aware of.

Q The President hasn't got any messages?

MR. LOCKHART: None that I know of.

Q Is the United States aware of what he might say in that interview?

MR. LOCKHART: No. I don't have any knowledge of what will be asked or what his answers will be. And we are in the same position we were as when the President addressed this issue early this month at his press conference -- talking about welcoming a dialogue if all the issues are on the table; but a change in policy towards Iran must be based on actions, not intentions.

Q Has work raised its ugly head here at all?

MR. LOCKHART: No, thankfully. I think Sylvia Matthews, the Deputy Chief of Staff, spent I think about 90 seconds going over a few housekeeping items this morning. But otherwise he's concentrating on having a good time, relaxing, and being with his friends here at Renaissance Weekend.

Q Any foreign policy briefing?

MR. LOCKHART: I don't believe he had a formal briefing this morning. He, as you know, gets a daily report, written report, from the National Security Council, which he receives every day. I know General Kerrick is here and available, but I don't think he warranted any special briefing this morning.

Q Joe, I think Knoller asked -- out on the golf course -- about New Year's resolutions. He said something about tomorrow. Is he planning to say something or do something tomorrow?

MR. LOCKHART: No. I don't think he has any specific New Year's resolutions like we all have. I think because of the timing and because of the way things work, the State of the Union is sort of where he lays out what he plans to get done that year. There are a variety of issues that are always on his mind, not necessarily at New Year's, all the year: expanding opportunity in the economy; making sure that all elements of society benefit from the economy; and then looking around the world, especially in this season, this holiday season, he has reflected on the different peace processes that the U.S. and he, personally, has been involved in and trying to push them forward, from Bosnia to Northern Ireland to the Middle East.

But I'm not aware -- and I asked if he had any specific ones, and he said none. There's none of the more day-to-day resolutions that I'm aware of.

Okay. One other housekeeping thing. I will probably go into the session tonight that he has, because he will be speaking. But I don't plan to do any readout, so don't -- no one should hang around tonight thinking that there will be any news. If he makes news and it gets around with all the other journalists that are in there as attendees, I'll know what he said. But I don't imagine it will circulate until tomorrow. So go home.

THE PRESS: Thank you.

END 1:39 P.M. EST