THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary (Vina del Mar, Chile) ________________________________________________________________________ For Immediate Release April 17, 1998
PRESS BRIEFING BY DEPUTY ASSISTANT TO THE PRESIDENT FOR NATIONAL SECURITY AFFAIRS JIM STEINBERG, AND DEPUTY PRESS SECRETARY BARRY TOIV
Miramar Hotel Vina del Mar, Chile
1:20 P.M. (L)
MR. STEINBERG: Welcome to the briefing room by the sea. For those of you who remember Rio, we got close to the sea, but didn't get the same view -- you can peak out the window while you're listening to the briefing. For those of you who don't me, I'm Jim Steinberg, the Deputy National Security Advisor, and I'll just say a word or two about the President's speech today and then take your questions.
This is obviously an historic occasion -- the President's speech to a joint session of the Chilean Parliament. This was a chance in a very vivid way for the President to talk about a very important theme that has been a part of his message about what has been happening in this hemisphere over the time that he has been President, which is the progress of democracy. And he had a chance today to talk about both what he calls the first and the second generation of democratic reforms. And there's probably no place in the hemisphere that more dramatically illustrates both dimensions than what is happening here in Chile.
The first generation of democratic reforms is obviously the remarkable achievement that now 34 of the 35 nations in this hemisphere have freely-elected leaders. And the President made a very poignant, I think, tribute to the experience here in Chile. I think that he, echoing a statement that was actually shared by the President of the Senate, when he talked about the particular importance that democracy holds for those who have lost and regained it, and the degree to which they can cherish it all the more because they realize the value of what was lost and regained.
He recalled some of the more important moments in Chile's history, particularly with his reference to President Alywin's reference to the statement, "nunca mas."
He, in addition to recalling the importance of the achievement here and the symbol that it represents for the entire hemisphere, he then talked about the need to make sure that the countries of the hemisphere go on to take the steps necessary to make sure that we not only preserve democracy, but perfect it, and in that respect, both noted the experience here in Chile and talked about the work ahead for all the nations in the hemisphere both in terms of perfecting the democratic institutions themselves, the institutions of governance, of justice, of freedom of expression and the judiciary, of dealing with the issues of social justice and making sure that all those who wish to participate and who work hard to participate have an opportunity to share in the benefits of prosperity and greater freedom, and then the importance of dealing with the challenges that democracy brings.
He noted the achievements of Chile in this respect, particularly in dealing with the problem of poverty and bringing along the people throughout the society. He talked about his experience yesterday, meeting with the microentrepreneurs. He identified a number of the areas which will be focused on in the Summit of the Americas in the coming days, notably on education, environment, workers' rights, fighting drugs, crime, and terrorism -- some of the challenges that democracies have to face.
And he also paid tribute, in addition to Chile's efforts at home, to Chile's achievements abroad, Chile now having moved beyond a country which is a recipient of aid, now working to provide assistance to others in the hemisphere and throughout the world, and particularly Chile's growing role in helping in peace and conflict prevention throughout the world.
So I think it was a very special opportunity for the President to have a chance to come here and to speak to this particular Parliament, and one that I think provided an appropriate setting for the message that he is trying to stress here and will be working with the other leaders of the hemisphere over the next two days.
Q Jim, Chile until recently had a reputation among Americans as being less willing, less eager than some of the other countries such as Argentina to participate in peacekeeping -- international peacekeeping. Have they actually increased their participation? And if so, where?
MR. STEINBERG: They have, Tom. If you look at their record now, they are participating in UNSCOM, they are participating in the IPTF in Bosnia. President Frei indicated yesterday -- I'm not sure precisely where the status of this is -- that they are going to participate in the Sahara. So it is really a remarkable achievement. And I think it reflects not only the maturing of the democracy here, but also the fact that the military itself is much more focused on a different kind of role for the Chilean military, as helping with conflict prevention and peacekeeping. And it really does reflect the growing democratization and civilian control with respect to the military here as well.
Q Did he talk with the member of the Letelier family -- Juan Pablo, who is Deputy now -- before or after his address? And is he meeting with --
MR. STEINBERG: I don't know the answer to that. I know that Juan Pablo would tell you, he was in the audience there, but I did not have a chance to see whether the President had a chance to talk to him.
Q Do you know if they shook hands at any point?
MR. STEINBERG: I just don't know the answer. I was sort of further back. But we can try to find out.
Q Will Letelier be at this luncheon the President is attending?
MR. STEINBERG: The lunch is just with, I think, President Frei and Foreign Minister Insulza and the families.
Q How big is the concern that there could be a backlash against democracy if it doesn't deliver? In Paraguay, for example, people there apparently are saying that democracy hasn't worked, that the country is a mess. What's the level of concern the President has of a reversible trend?
MR. STEINBERG: I think that what the President thinks is that we need to take the steps now before this becomes a serious challenge. That is, if we -- I think he used the line at one point about resting on our laurels, and we take this for granted, then problems could become more serious. And Paraguay is a good example where there has been a lot of concern -- the public has not taken as much positive hold of democracy because there is a concern about whether it will deliver. And what he's saying now is, having gotten to the point where we've gotten with the 34 democratically-elected governments, let's not assume that we can keep that forever unless we're very active, vigilant and engaged in trying to deal with these things.
That's why he's trying to work very hard -- and he also sees very strong partners in this. If you look at what President Frei and the Chilean government has done, they've recognized that they need to deal with the social justice issues, the social safety net issues. President Cardoso, President Zedillo putting a tremendous emphasis on education. These are leaders who recognize that it's not enough just to have the machinery of democracy, you have to really make sure that it happens. And it's a kind of preventive strategy to get ahead of the curve and not let these problems creep up on us.
Q What do you hear about Pinochet and why he wasn't there? And when did you learn he wouldn't be there?
MR. STEINBERG: We've heard a lot of reports -- there have been reports about his health, but I think that from our perspective, the President came to give the strong message; he was prepared to give the same message whether Pinochet was there or not there. And I think that it's really a reflection of the broad-based support that this message has that what you heard from the leaders of the two houses of the Chilean Parliament really reflect a commonly held view about the deep commitment here to democracy.
Q Will the President be having bilateral meetings with the different Presidents that are arriving today?
MR. STEINBERG: The President does not have sort of formal bilaterals in the sense of having a President sitting down on each side with six members of their delegations and the like. But he does anticipate trying to take advantage of these meetings to have private conversations with as many of the other leaders as he can, because there is a lot of opportunity on the margins, in the breaks between sessions, at the meals to have private conversations, and he is very much -- one of the reasons why he thinks these are so valuable, in addition to the collective efforts that the group has as a whole, is the opportunity for the leaders to get together and have private conversations on issues of common concern.
Q Was the White House attempting to arrange the setting so there wouldn't be a military officer behind the President when he was sitting on the stage?
MR. STEINBERG: To my knowledge, we had nothing to do with the way the arrangements were set up.
Q Was the President comfortable with that, the image of him -- the speech against militarism and pro-democracy, but he sat there with a military officer looming behind him before he spoke?
MR. STEINBERG: I think that, as I said before, one of the real achievements here is the growing degree to which the military is responsive to civilian control. And the President made a very explicit reference to it -- I don't have the line in front of me -- but talked about the role of soldiers in a democratic society. So I think what he is reflecting is very much the fact that the military has an important role to play; we're very proud of the role that the military plays in the United States government, but it's obviously in serving the people and serving the needs of a democracy.
Q I want to ask you about Iraq. There was a report from Butler, the head of the U.N. inspections team, that virtually no progress has been made in getting them to comply with the inspections. How do you feel about that?
MR. STEINBERG: I don't want to comment specifically on the report because it has not been formally presented to the Security Council yet. Let me just reiterate what our position has been all along on this, which is that we expect not only full compliance with the inspections, but the obligation of the government of Iraq is not simply to allow inspectors access, but to make a full disclosure of all of its past weapons programs and to put in place a system to make sure that it doesn't develop WMD. And that's the conditions that were laid out in the Security Council resolutions, and that's what we are looking for from the government of Iraq, is a full accounting of its past, meeting the questions that UNSCOM has asked and has not yet had answered. And so we'll be looking forward to the full presentation of Ambassador Butler's report, and we will clearly insist on complete compliance with the Security Council resolutions.
Q One other question about -- does the U.S. plan to put any money behind these calls for investment in education, all these social programs?
MR. STEINBERG: Very much so. As you will see at the Summit of the Americas, there are going to be very substantial investments, particularly education is a very powerful area. But there are a number of specific things, and we'll be announcing them in connection with the summit itself, with education being one of the most important, both through the multilateral development institutions like the Inter-American Development Bank; AID is also putting a very substantial amount of money into these efforts.
So one of the things that we think is very important at this summit is that there are not only rhetorical commitments by the leaders, but very concrete plans of action which will be announced in the course of the summit that involve programs and the dollars behind it to make sure that they're really implemented.
Q How many dollars?
MR. STEINBERG: Rather than starting a piece by piece now, we'll have a more full explanation on the summit stuff once the summit begins.
MR. TOIV: Hello. I can take questions on anything else you have, plus I'll do a week ahead for you.
Q Can you tell us real quickly what the schedule is getting out of here?
MR. TOIV: What are the times on the buses -- 1:45 p.m., 3:00 p.m., and 6:00 p.m. -- 6:45, I'm sorry.
Any other subjects? All right, week ahead. The President's radio address will be broadcast tomorrow. It will be taped early this evening, and we will -- Darby, are we going to be able to get them -- if the radio address is taped at a reasonable time, are we going to be able to get it to them in the filing center? Yes, so back in Santiago we, hopefully, we'll have it for you around 8:00 p.m., somewhere around that time.
MR. TOIV: Subject still to be announced.
Monday -- the President gets back late Sunday night, actually early Monday morning. Arrival currently is scheduled for 1:50 a.m. back at the White House. Nothing else scheduled for Monday at this time.
Q Do you say that because it's likely to change? Nothing scheduled at the moment, but you expect something or you think --
MR. TOIV: I wouldn't rule out the possibility of something on Monday, but right now nothing is scheduled.
Tuesday the President will meet with Democratic congressional leaders at the White House to discuss legislative strategy for the remainder of the session. That's scheduled for noon.
On Wednesday, as I told you yesterday, the President and Vice President will go to Harper's Ferry, West Virginia, to celebrate Earth Day. The President departs at 10:00 a.m. and gets back at about 1:30 p.m. That evening the President and First Lady host the third Millennium Evening. This one, which I think we've announced already, will be a celebration of American creativity through poetry. We'll have three Poets Laureate there -- the current Poet Laureate, Robert Pinsky, and former Poets Laureate Robert Hass and Rita Dove.
Thursday, we'll have an event TBD Thursday morning. Probably TBA is more -- not TBD, TBA is the more appropriate way to say that.
Q So you've already D'd, but you haven't A'd? (Laughter.)
MR. TOIV: That's right. I could have A'd it here, but I didn't.
Later that morning, though, the President will meet with President Niyazov of Turkmenistan.
Q What time, for those of us who care.
MR. TOIV: Somebody is interested. That's at 11:20 a.m., but coverage right now is stills only.
Q Why is that?
MR. TOIV: Why is that? I don't know. That was what was worked out. But again, you may see the President earlier at an event TBD.
That night at 8:45 p.m., the President hosts a reception celebrating the 1993 deficit reduction legislation. We thought that this would be a good time, given the fact that we are near to getting the deficit down to zero, to celebrate the event that got it all started, which, of course, was the 1993 budget.
Q Is that closed to the press?
MR. TOIV: We will have in-house pool coverage remarks only. And we're going to -- the President is inviting the members of Congress who voted for that legislation, both present and, unfortunately, a few former, as well -- unfortunate that they're former, not unfortunate that they're coming.
Q Barry, is that an official White House event?
MR. TOIV: Of course, it's an official White House event. And any Republican members of Congress who voted for that legislation are invited to come.
On Friday --
Q How long do you bear a grudge on this? (Laughter.)
MR. TOIV: We revel in it.
The President on Friday will make remarks at a lunch celebrating the 150th anniversary of the Democratic National Committee. Location TBD.
Q Will that be a fundraiser?
MR. TOIV: I actually don't know the answer to that, Bill. I don't think so, though. Well, I shouldn't say that. Darby, if you're listening, could you make a call and find out the answer to that question.
And at 2:00 p.m. the President recognizes the National Teacher of the Year. That will be out in the Rose Garden Friday at 2:00 p.m.
Saturday, the President's radio address in the morning and then Saturday evening, as all of you well know, is the White House Correspondents Association Dinner, which the President will attend and address. And that's it.
Q Any idea of when the Olympic athletes have been invited in to see the President?
MR. TOIV: It's not on the schedule for this week -- or, next week -- and I don't know. I know that's been bouncing around, but I don't know when that's going to happen.
Q Do you know what he's doing tonight?
MR. TOIV: Tonight they will probably end up doing some things, but we're not announcing them. And I don't think we know yet, for sure.
Q Do you know if he's got any bilaterals tonight?
MR. TOIV: Probably not, no. The bilaterals will be tomorrow.
Q Barry, where in Harper's Ferry does this event take place and what is the President planning on doing?
MR. TOIV: It's at the Harper's Ferry National Historic Park and I think they're still working on the specifics of the event. He will speak to a number of people there who will be gathered and I think some volunteers, some Park Service employees and families, and some school kids, I think. Some combination of that kind.
Q Will he go whitewater rafting?
MR. TOIV: That's not on the schedule. We'll have more for you on that next week.
Q Anything further on whether he's talked to Mr. Bennett or Mr. Kendall regarding yesterday's --
MR. TOIV: I don't think he has, no.
Anything else? The DNC event, Mr. Plant, is, in fact, a fundraiser.
Anything else? Okay, thank you.
END 1:41 P.M. (L)