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Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release April 24, 1998
                         PRESS BRIEFING BY 
                            MIKE MCCURRY 

The Briefing Room

1:58 P.M. EDT

MR. MCCURRY: Dori Salcido, front and center. Come on, Dori.

Q New Special Envoy to the Americas? (Laughter.)

MR. MCCURRY: That would be only marginally more useful than what she will be doing. Dori I think all of you know quite well. She's been working in the Travel Office where she's organized and managed all the travels of the White House press corps in support of the President for at least two years -- right -- two years. And I'm happy to announce today that, good news for all of you, she will be joining the White House Press staff as Deputy Director of Press Advance. (Applause.)

And a happy occasion for all of you. You know of her talent, and she can now apply it to even better purposes, although she will no longer be able to switch your hotel rooms to the penthouse suites that some of you favor. (Laughter.)

Anyhow, Dori, welcome to the staff. You've already proven your value, and you will do so over and over again. Thank you.

Next, we put out some paper earlier today, but I wanted to make sure I called it to your attention, on Operation Auburn Endeavor. Operation Auburn Endeavor, as you know, is a close effort in cooperation with the government of Georgia and the United Kingdom to complete the removal of about five kilograms of highly enriched uranium from Georgia to the United Kingdom. That operation reflects the continued commitment of all three governments to international security and nonproliferation goals that we share in the international community. It's the latest in a series of international efforts to safeguard surplus nuclear materials.

The U.S. Departments of Energy, Defense and State will work very closely together and with the other related governments to secure and transport the material from Georgia to safe storage at a site in the United Kingdom and to ensure the integrity of the mission, the safety of the personnel, we maintain very strict security measures during the course of that operation, which is why we were reluctant to comment on it publicly until it was completed. We very much appreciate the assistance and cooperation of the government of the United Kingdom, especially with respect to preserving the operational security of the mission.

The U.S. role in this project, by the way, was made possible in part by the support of the United States Congress for the cooperation of threat reduction program and other nonproliferation programs. And Operation Endeavor is a powerful, positive example of how countries can cooperate in practical ways to lessen the dangers of nuclear proliferation.

Q You're saying Georgian Endeavor -- that is the name of the operation?

MR. MCCURRY: Operation Auburn Endeavor.

Q That's what I thought you said --

MR. MCCURRY: Auburn Endeavor.

Q Isn't there a movie on this, moving nuclear material?

MR. MCCURRY: There has been previous stories of this nature. You will recall Operation Sapphire which, in a similar way, we removed from Kazakhstan highly enriched uranium and transported it here to the United States in a similar effort to further our nonproliferation objectives. This is good news that we are happy to share.

Unrelated to this, although we have had a great deal of contact with the government of the United Kingdom about this operation, I do want to tell you the President spoke for 15 minutes this morning with Prime Minister Tony Blair, and the Prime Minister called the President to give him a synopsis of his trip to the Middle East. They talked about the Middle East peace process. We reviewed some of our current objectives. He reviewed some of his dialogue with the parties, and the President briefed the Prime Minister on Ambassador Ross's trip, which begins later today, which some of your colleagues will be hearing about more at the State Department shortly. They talked briefly about Northern Ireland as well.

Q Any recommendations on whether the President should travel there?

MR. MCCURRY: I think that's a matter that it is safe to say we continue to have close consultations with the governments and the parties about.

Q When does Mr. Steinberg return, and is that return still something that you're awaiting before you make a decision?

MR. MCCURRY: He was leaving today, and he returns late Tuesday, I believe. And we'll be assessing his conversations late next week. I don't anticipate any decision about that aspect of the President's itinerary until later on in May.

In a very short while the Vice President of the United States of America will talk to the newly confirmed Prime Minister of the Russian Federation, Prime Minister Kiriyenko. He, of course, wants to convey the congratulations of the people of the United States that has also been voiced already today by the President. The Vice President looks forward to continuing the very constructive dialogue that we maintain with the Russian government on mutual economic, technological, and security issues -- issues that have been addressed in the past through the mechanism of the Gore-Chernomyrdin Commission.

Q Reviewing the President's remarks about possible airline consolidation, in which he says it may be this, it may be that, it's a little unclear as to whether he actually wants the Justice Department to look into that. Can you answer that question?

MR. MCCURRY: He was not signaling one way or another whether or not any relevant government agency ought to examine that. That will be up to relevant agencies, given whatever their statutory jurisdiction is. And our Counsel's Office is going to contact some of the agencies to determine what kind of posture they would take towards those agreements. But I think, as the President indicated, he felt it proper for him to refrain on any specific comment until we have the relevant agencies look at the issue if that's what they believe they need to do.

Q Aside from the Justice Department, are there consumer agencies -- can you put up a list of agencies that might have some interest?

MR. MCCURRY: I honestly don't know. I would suspect we need to contact the FTC, the FAA and others to see who believes they may have some relevant jurisdiction, and we'll leave it to those agencies to determine what their statutory obligations are as they consider the proposed agreements.

Q The Supreme Court is going to hear a case on a line item veto Monday.

Q Question?

MR. MCCURRY: Supreme Court hearing a case on the line item veto. Which case is that -- is it the New York case?

Q New York and I think it's Iowa -- it's combined.

MR. MCCURRY: They joined those two. I was not aware that they had announced that they were having oral arguments on that, although, of course, we were aware that they've taken those cases up. The President, as he has stated on many occasions, is himself certain of the constitutionality of the line item veto. But we, of course, will await whatever judgments the court renders.

Q Can you just remind us why the President thinks that's such an important privilege and what it's done for him?

MR. MCCURRY: Well, as the President has often suggested, as do many governors, the President, in the interest of fiscal discipline, ought to have available ways in which he can protect the American taxpayer from unnecessary and wasteful spending, and the line item veto presents a useful device, as Congress has confirmed through its support of the line item veto, for excising unnecessary and wasteful spending from budgetary items.

Q And he thinks so far it's been an important tool --

MR. MCCURRY: He believes it's been a very important tool both in its application and also in its deterrent effect in persuading members of Congress not to pursue outside normal budgetary procedures provisions that would represent unnecessary spending in the name of all the American people.

Q Like the highway bill?

MR. MCCURRY: The highway bill has got quite a number of items in it that we believe add up to a bill that is out of fiscal balance. But at the moment we are encouraging Congress to get serious about writing a surface transportation bill that reflects budget priorities more in line with the administration's FY'99 budget proposal.

Q Mike, the Congressional Black Caucus is calling for Barry McCaffrey's resignation over the needle exchange controversy.

MR. MCCURRY: That's unfortunate. And if you think about Americans who have made a difference in the fight against the scourge of drugs, I can think of very few people who have been more personally committed to making a difference in the lives of minority Americans, especially, who are affected by the scourge of drugs -- can think of few have made more of a difference than General Barry McCaffrey. I think he has been an internationally recognized leader in the fight against drugs. I think he has argued strenuously within the administration to maintain the kind of discipline we need to be successful in the fight against drugs. And I think he's argued forcefully for exactly the kind of policy decisions that the President has made with respect to needles.

Q So he'll be staying on, then?

MR. MCCURRY: No question in my mind of that.

Q But you're not the guy.

MR. MCCURRY: I'm not the General, but --

Q The President.

MR. MCCURRY: I can't speak for the General, I can speak for the President. The President is very supportive of the work that he's done and very complimentary of the work of the Office of National Drug Control Policy.

Q There won't be any reconsideration of the decision?

MR. MCCURRY: The President is confident that we have got a policy that places the emphasis on building support at the local community level for programs that both can help those who are afflicted by addiction to drugs and those who run the risk of exposure to HIV-AIDS. And his goal was to craft a policy based on science, acknowledging that what science tells us that will build local community support, which is where that support has to be for these programs to be successful, build a policy that actually requires those communities to find and maintain the kind of support that they need, both in research and in community involvement that make needle exchanges effective as both an HIV-AIDS strategy and a counter-drug strategy.

Q The needle exchange program that Shalala announced this week, though, was the President's policy, was it not, more than General McCaffrey's?

MR. MCCURRY: Well, she statutorily had the obligation to make a determination on the role of scientific evaluation of needle exchange. That was given to her by Congress as a matter of statute. But it was a decision important enough that clearly the President had input on it as we've described to you.

Q But her decision accurately reflected the President's view on this --

MR. MCCURRY: Correct.

Q -- that it should be done at the local level?

MR. MCCURRY: That is correct.

Q So, Mike, since you're standing behind on General McCaffrey, is the White House looking at this as somewhat of a personality conflict between McCaffrey and Congressman Maxine Waters especially, since McCaffrey hung up on Waters recently?

MR. MCCURRY: Congresswoman Waters has very strong views on this subject, and we respect her views on it. There is a good difference of opinion and a fair difference of opinion. We hope that those issues can be addressed amicably.

Q Mike, can you give us a readout on the Bowles-Gingrich meeting on tobacco, where we are right now?

MR. MCCURRY: It was a meeting that covered much more than just tobacco. The Chief of Staff met with the Speaker to review a half a dozen or more issues that are on the congressional agenda now -- issues that the White House and the President consider very important to the American people. We offered our best advice and counsel on how we can work to maintain bipartisan support for things that the President had advanced, respecting some of the prerogatives that the Republican majority clearly wishes to pursue. They had a very good, useful discussion that Mr. Bowles believes furthers the chances of passage of bipartisan legislation.

Q Congenial discussion?

MR. MCCURRY: That's the only way you can describe any conversation with Mr. Bowles.

Q I understand that, but I mean, the President today before the DNC talked about being in a pitched battle with Congress.

MR. MCCURRY: On some issues, that's an accurate description.

Q Did they make any progress on tobacco, though?

MR. MCCURRY: I think the President felt they made -- or the Chief of Staff felt they made progress on a range of issues. But I would be reluctant to sort of get into any of the substance of specific matters they talked about.

Q Mike, the government of Iraq is asking the Security Council -- telling the Security Council that it's time to lift the sanctions. Has there been any activity around here on how to respond to that request?

MR. MCCURRY: There's been a lot of discussion of that in preparation for debates that will likely occur within the Security Council. I think yesterday I went through some of our concerns about the status of compliance by the government of Iraq with relevant U.N. Security Council resolutions. Suffice it to say, we think there's a lot more that needs to be done by way of compliance, and we take a skeptical view of some proposals for sanctions relief, but we will be pursuing our concerns and our views within the Security Council.

Q Mike, can I go back to the needle exchange? Did you say that McCaffrey agrees that the science shows what Shalala said it shows?

MR. MCCURRY: He agrees with the decision that's been announced as administration policy. I haven't heard him address the specific question about science. I don't know that he has disputed --

Q Well, as of last week, they were -- his office was releasing reports showing just the opposite. Has he changed his mind?

MR. MCCURRY: I have not heard the Director of the Office disagree with the decision that the President contributed to and that the Secretary of HHS announced.

Q Do you think it's time for him to come out and make this announcement or to say something public?

MR. MCCURRY: No, by statute, it's the responsibility of the Secretary of HHS to make that determination and she has so made it and so announced it.

Q Mike, on this DNC money-swapping thing with the states. Common Cause is characterizing this as a kind of money-laundering scheme. Do you find this a loophole or in some way evading the purpose of federal elections?

MR. MCCURRY: How much of my lecture from earlier this morning would you like to hear? (Laughter.)

Q A brief portion would be --

Q That was really brilliant. (Laughter.)

MR. MCCURRY: Well, as I told many of you this morning, many of you this morning, the Federal Election Commission, as it implemented federal election law, acknowledged that there needs to be some way in which state parties, especially, maintain support for ticket-wide activities, so-called party-building activities. That's why they initially acknowledged the role of nonfederal funds in the campaign finance matrix that we have available now, and it's why parties have traditionally supported get-out-the-vote activities, party-wide, ticket-wide activities through the state parties.

It makes sense if you're spending nonfederal money to do so at the state level. And that is exactly the posture the DNC has taken with respect to the state parties, and the reverse of that is also true -- to the degree that state parties are involved in raising federal money for federal races, coordination of that through the national parties, which have the statutory authority under 4180 to do that, makes sense as well. So I think, in this case, it's a fair and accurate application of the law as it was intended to be interpreted and implemented by the Federal Election Commission.

There is a problem, and the problem is that, because of the requirements of campaigns and the cost of campaigns, the role that soft money or nonfederal money plays in the system has grown far disproportionate to what role it should play in our system of campaign finance. And for exactly that reason, the President, the administration, and the majority of Democrats have supported campaign finance reform.

And we achieved a major breakthrough this week in that the reluctant leadership of the House has now acknowledged the wishes of a majority of the House that we should take up campaign finance reform, which specifically deals with the role of soft money, and address that in a very forthright way.

Q Mike, the Japanese government has finally unveiled the details of its latest economic plan, but stopped short of permanent tax cuts. Would the White House prefer to see permanent tax cuts to get the Japanese economy going again?

MR. MCCURRY: We are not going to render an opinion on measures that were outside those that were specifically announced by the government today. We have said that those steps that Prime Minister Hashimoto's government announced today represent substantial policy measures and that they are positive steps. And Secretary Rubin, as you know, has issued a statement that welcomes that stimulus package. And we continue to say that we think that those measures now need to be implemented quickly and effectively, that they need to move forward with further actions including measures to strengthen Japan's financial system and open and deregulate its economy. And that, we believe, is what will establish a sound basis for further domestic demand-led growth in Japan, which is a critical element of restoring some regional economic balance, which is further important in helping the global economy altogether, including those families, those interests here in the United States that participate in commerce with the Asian region and Japan in particular.

Q Just to follow, Mike, Chairman Bereuter, of the House International Relations Subcommittee on Asia said this morning that this latest stimulus package is viewed outside of Japan almost unanimously as insufficient to return Japan to a sustaining self -- domestic demand-led growth path. Does the administration agree?

MR. MCCURRY: That's not an accurate description of the view of the United States government. We have welcomed this stimulus package as substantial measures which represent positive steps towards growth in the Japanese economy that the administration has long sought.

Q So it will return Japan to self-sustaining growth?

MR. MCCURRY: Well, we're reluctant to predict what any set of policies will do in the end, but we believe these are substantial measures that can certainly have a positive impact on both the Japanese economy, the regional economy, and the global economy.

Q Is the President meeting this afternoon with Attorney General Janet Reno and some juvenile violence experts?

MR. MCCURRY: He will, at the end of the teacher's event, the Teacher of the Year event, have a discussion with a number of experts on school security issues. This follows on some of the shootings that have occurred recently, most recently in Jonesboro. The President, as you will recall, at the time asked a number of agencies including Treasury and Justice to look at the question of whether in some of these recent incidents there is any pattern that we can learn about that suggests that we ought to be more attentive to the role that public decision-making, public policy plays in school violence. The President is looking forward to that discussion. It's not any type of decision-making meeting, but it is an opportunity for the President to learn more about what the experts in our government have discovered as a result of the review that he asked for at the time of the Jonesboro incident.

Q Well, is this a conclusion of that process?

MR. MCCURRY: Not a conclusion, it's more really a way in which we can further that discussion and continue an effort to examine to see if there needs to be any other type of federal response.

Q Can we get a list of the participants?

MR. MCCURRY: I didn't see one earlier. Can you check and see -- we'll see if we can get one.

Q Will the President appoint a replacement for Mack? And can we expect an appointment soon on the ambassador to Mexico, now that the summit is finished?

MR. MCCURRY: On the latter question, certainly, yes. I think the President has indicated a desire to move ahead very quickly with the appointment of a U.S. ambassador to Mexico City, and there's been a lot of speculation and I wouldn't say anything contrary to the speculation that a lot of you have heard.

On the first question, I think he believes Ambassador McLarty made a unique contribution to the work that we've now done in this hemisphere. I have not heard of any plan to immediately fill that special position that he created, Special Envoy for Democracy in the Americas. But I say that one outcome for our government of the Summit of the Americas in Santiago is that we have invigorated an entire foreign policy bureaucracy that deals with matters related to this hemisphere -- all of the America, and especially Latin America.

And I expect you will see a great deal of attention paid here at the White House, at the State Department and other agencies to the summit agenda that was announced in Santiago, and probably a heightened degree of activity by those who are responsible for policy towards Latin America, the Bureau of Inter-American Affairs at State, our directorate here at the NSC and others.

I'm not ruling out the possibility that the President might see some utility in that device of a special envoy, but I think we are now trying to take the ripple effect of the Summit of the Americas and spread it throughout those existing positions that we have in our government.

Q Mike, President Yeltsin had some tough words for his friends in the Duma in the last week of this Prime Minister's confirmation. Has that done anything in our view to further damage the already tough road for START II?

MR. MCCURRY: It has certainly traveled a road that has had some obstacles in it already. There has been a contentious debate in the Duma. We hope that now that the question of the premiership has been resolved, that the Duma will be in a position to move on quickly to other important issues. We believe that the people of Russia and the elected leaders of Russia will see the value in further arms reductions and implementing those agreements that have already been reached, especially START II.

They are aware of the fact that the pending further reductions that are anticipated as part of a START III process are dependent upon initial ratification of START II. And for all those reasons we fully expect President Yeltsin to want to move smartly and effectively to encourage the Duma to take up START II ratification.

Q You clearly don't know anything about this Judicial Watch business --

MR. MCCURRY: I haven't heard about that.

Q Well, I'm going to give it to you. Maybe next week to address their charge that Clinton advisors joked about dead Republicans, Democrats, and members of the media who crossed Bill Clinton in 1992.

MR. MCCURRY: I don't know a thing about that.

Q They faxed it all around.

Q You've been served. (Laughter.)

Q Consider yourself served.

MR. MCCURRY: This one -- consider this one re-served. (Laughter.) No, we'll look at that, and if there is anything we have to say about that, we'll take it up next week. I tend to think not.

Q Week ahead?

MR. MCCURRY: Week ahead. The President tomorrow will do the radio address live, and the subject, as I indicated to some of you earlier, is Social Security. On Saturday night the President will attend the annual dinner of the White House Correspondents Association. On Sunday afternoon --

Q Does he really have a lot of jokes that he's going to tell about Paula Jones?

MR. MCCURRY: No, he doesn't. He didn't --

Q We're waiting for them now.

MR. MCCURRY: I don't think -- he certainly did not mean to indicate that that was going to be any subject he would address Saturday night.

Q You'd better start writing, Mike.

Q You'd better start writing a joke.

MR. MCCURRY: On Sunday afternoon the President attends the Washington premiere of Ragtime at the National Theater. That's part of the DNC 150th celebration that's going on this weekend. There is a dinner later that evening.

On Monday the President will host --

Q Excuse me, on Sunday, does he make remarks at either of those two events?

MR. MCCURRY: Trick question -- yes, in-town travel pool coverage of the remarks at Ragtime, a print pooler for the residence event on Sunday evening.

Q So there are remarks at both events?

MR. MCCURRY: There are remarks -- there's a print pooler at the private residence Sunday night and a travel pool at the Ragtime premier.

On Monday, the President will host a reception for the 50th anniversary of the state of Israel. And as we had previously indicated, the President will receive an honorary degree from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. On Tuesday, the only event scheduled right now is an evening event in New York, a dinner for the Democratic Senate Campaign Committee and the Democratic Party of New York. The President --

Q Mike, on Monday, what time is the --

MR. MCCURRY: At 10:45 a.m.

The President, on Tuesday, will depart the White House at around 6:00 p.m. and return around 11:30 p.m.

Q It's all political, there's nothing --

MR. MCCURRY: Yes, straight up political. And my understanding is that we're not putting a charter together for that. So that's pool only.

Q No street-corner event to defray the cost?

MR. MCCURRY: I'm not passing the hat on this.

On Wednesday, we'll have a reception for the U.S. Paraolympic athletes on the South Lawn. "If asked about congressional leadership, don't confirm anything, but don't rule it out"? (Laughter.) I'm just reading what you gave me, Barry. No, I don't know -- that's unclear at this point. (Laughter.)

Q Would that be the Republican leadership?

MR. MCCURRY: Thursday --

Q What's your guidance if we ask which party's leadership?

MR. MCCURRY: That's not clear that's going to happen. (Laughter.)

MR. TOIV: It was just a joke between Mike and me. (Laughter.)

Q Oh yeah, right.

MR. MCCURRY: I did that to tease Barry and then make his afternoon miserable.

Thursday, no events scheduled at this point. There is a possible presidential statement we might do that day. Friday, the President will go to California.

Q Possible statement Thursday on what subject?

MR. MCCURRY: We haven't indicated the subject. I'm being more careful now.

Q On the congressional leadership meeting the day before. (Laughter.)

MR. MCCURRY: On Friday, the President will go to California. We don't have any specifics about all those events. There are a number of political fundraising events that will occur first in the San Francisco Bay Area down on the peninsula, and I expect, given that he's there, he'll have some family time over the weekend. And then he's got Sunday night and Monday events down in Southern California. Back to Washington I think late Monday night.

Q Why is the radio address live?

MR. MCCURRY: Only because I think we had the Teacher of the Year event and we had a pretty active afternoon here. There just wasn't a way in which we could pretape today. And the President is going to be around tomorrow, so we're doing it live.

You're not going to ask about Buddy?

Q Oh, yeah. Why did you do that to poor Buddy?

MR. MCCURRY: We did -- April asked this earlier, and we might as well get that done -- let me find my paper on that.

Q What are you looking for?

MR. MCCURRY: I'm looking for some stuff -- I had some good stuff here. Just wait.

I just want to say a few things about this because I know you will report this appropriately. But the President, believing it was the responsible thing to do, did arrange to have Buddy neutered last weekend by a qualified veterinarian at a veterinarian clinic off campus. The veterinarian asked to not be named, or remain anonymous. (Laughter).

No, I want to say some things about this. This comes courtesy of the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. I just want to give some statistics here on some things that are important.

Q Why was it the responsible thing to do?

MR. MCCURRY: Hear me out. Each day in the United States there are 70,000 puppies and kittens that are born, and there is clearly not homes for all of those pets. Millions of homeless pets are euthanized every year in the United States because owners for whatever reason can't keep them or they are discarded. There are different kinds of estimates. If you look up on the ASPCA's web page, you can get these numbers, but I think they're very telling.

There is one estimate of as many as 5 million pets per year that are euthanized. That's a veterinarian -- a professor of veterinary medicine at Tufts who makes that estimate. The APSCA themselves, they have an estimate of 5 million to 10 million, or it could be up to as many as 12 million according to the American Humane Association -- 12 million pets per year who are euthanized. And there is also a study from the National Council on Pet Population --a National Council on Pet Population study policy that finds that an average of 64 percent of all animals taken into shelter care end up being euthanized because they can't find a place to take them.

Q And the fear was Buddy would add to this?

MR. MCCURRY: Unwanted animals suffer from disease, from parasites, from starvation, injury, abuse, and suffer all manners of cruelty. And the number one goal of many animal welfare organizations -- I'm citing statistics from the ASPCA, but we would commend a number of animal welfare organizations that have contacted the Clintons and said that it's very important that they make a statement about what is a very serious problem in our country that they take the step, if they believe it right, to have their own pet neutered.

All the studies show, or the latest medical findings indicate, that a pet, male or female, will be healthier and live longer if it's spayed and neutered, so this is obviously in the animal's interest as well.

And the President just felt, based on all that information and based on the likelihood that it would be reported widely that he had made that decision, he felt it was the responsible thing to do.

Q Would you say he's making a statement? He's being a role model from the standpoint of asking other pet owners to neuter their pets?

MR. MCCURRY: No, he's doing what he felt was the responsible thing to do, and he acknowledges what he felt were the important arguments advanced by a number of animal welfare organizations.

Q And those of us who don't neuter our dogs are not responsible?

MR. MCCURRY: People can make that choice, but it is strongly encouraged that pet owners do that by organizations that have to deal with the aftermath of people who don't make responsible decisions. And the President wanted to --

Q Does he have any doggie friends, though?

Q Has the President noticed any chilliness in his relationship with Buddy since then? (Laughter.)

MR. MCCURRY: Buddy is happy and doing well and still very much affectionate towards all of us, including Lori Anderson, who just accidentally shared her lunch with Buddy.

Q He could be more affectionate toward some of you now, probably.

Q How do you know that Buddy is happy?

MR. MCCURRY: It's a very nice and happy animal.

Q How do you know that Buddy is happy?

MR. MCCURRY: How do I know? He told me. (Laughter.)

Q On background.

MR. MCCURRY: That was on background, that's right.

Would you like a readout on the Vice President's call with Prime Minister Kiriyenko?

Q Yes.

MR. MCCURRY: Jonathan Spalter, you all know.

MR. SPALTER: The Vice President just finished a lengthy conversation with the new Russian Prime Minister. They've agreed to formally establish the Gore-Kiriyenko Commission, which will meet sometime this summer. And they will have another conversation next week. That's all.

Q Will they meet in Moscow?

MR. SPALTER: That will all be discussed.

Q How long was the conversation?

MR. SPALTER: Around 15 minutes.

Q Well, Jonathan, you said it was a lengthy conversation -- that's all you had to say for it?

MR. SPALTER: They agreed to formally establish the Gore-Kiriyenko Commission.

MR. MCCURRY: Mr. Spalter, let me show you how with just that you can turn that into "The Vice President and the new Prime Minister had a good discussion about the prospects for economic, technological -- (laughter) -- cooperation on a range of issues important to our bilateral relationship. The Vice President stressed what great utility there has been to the important relationship --

Q Thank you. (Laughter.)

MR. MCCURRY: -- between Russia and the United States --

Q Thank you.

MR. MCCURRY: -- in having the Gore-Chernomyrdin Commission.

THE PRESS: Thank you.

END 2:31 P.M. EDT