THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary (Berlin, Germany) ________________________________________________________________________ For Immediate Release May 13, 1998
PRESS BRIEFING BY NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISOR SAMUEL BERGER Radisson SAS Hotel Berlin, Germany
8:25 P.M. (L)
MR. MCCURRY: Ladies and gentlemen, the National Security Advisor, Mr. Samuel Berger.
MR. BERGER: Thank you very much. Let me first give you a read-out of the meetings that took place today between Chancellor Kohl and the President, and then the short meeting that the President had with Mr. Schroeder, the opposition candidate.
The meeting took place, as you know, in the summer palace of Frederick the Great, quite an extraordinary building both inside and out. We were told that this is the first time that the dining room had been used for well over 100 years, and it is quite a gorgeous setting.
Initially, there was a small meeting -- a smaller meeting with the President, the Chancellor, Joachim Bitterlich, and myself. And then later, over lunch, joined by Ambassador Kornblum, Sylvia Mathews, and Don Bandler, the senior director of the National Security Council for Europe.
In the smaller meeting, a mostly informal conversation between the Chancellor and the President, the Chancellor started by saying that it simply would have been unthinkable 50 years ago for the Chancellor of Germany to be in Frederick the Great's Castle in Potsdam with the President of the United States. And actually during the day several people said that to me -- several German officials said that to me. This is an area that most of them had not visited -- many West Germans had not visited until the early '90s.
They talked a great deal about the transatlantic alliance and Chancellor Kohl's very deep-felt commitment to the U.S.-German relationship. He said that we both -- both the United States and Germany needs to be very careful at this point to not be -- this is not a direct quote, sort of characterizing his thoughts -- not to be too sanguine at the end of the Cold War, that we need to recognize that this relationship, U.S. to Europe, U.S. to Germany is more important than ever. Chancellor Kohl has tried for most of his career -- certainly the last nine years -- to anchor Germany and Europe and the transatlantic alliance.
He reminded the President of the quote that he then used later in the speech -- the President had used when he spoke at the Bradenburg Gate -- that we belong together. He said, you must leave your troops in Europe, that our relations are more important than they were even during the Cold War.
There was some discussion of the larger Europe, European equation -- Poland, Hungary, Romania, the countries of Eastern Europe that are now forming a new bond with Germany. He commented on how remarkable that was, that these states that once had been enemies now saw Germany as so central to their integration.
They talked -- and I'll probably come back to this; I'm going through this roughly chronologically -- about Kosovo. As you know, earlier today there was an announcement today by President Milosevic and then later by Ambassadors Holbrooke and Gelbard that there would be a meeting between Milosevic and Rugova in Belgrade on the 15th of May, hopefully leading to other meetings. They felt that was a hopeful development. The Germans are quite concerned about the Kosovo problem. There are 150,000 Kosovar refugees in Germany. That's on top of the 300,000 Bosnian refugees who were in Germany, 200,000 of whom have returned home.
Chancellor Kohl returned to a theme that he's spoken about every time that I've been in a meeting with him, and that is the importance of people-to-people exchanges between Germany and the United States. I think he's quite concerned that as the new generation emerges that doesn't have the historical memory of American troops here in the post-Cold War period or the Marshall Plan, that there will not be those bonds knitting us together. And that's why he feels so strongly about this.
We then went into lunch. We talked about the Indian test. The President said he was bitterly disappointed and that he was going to be later -- he had decided to impose -- invoke the sanctions provisions of the Glenn Amendment, and that this was a setback to the progress that we had been making on nonproliferation over the last five or six years with the adoption of a permanent nonproliferation treaty and the success of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, which 149 nations have signed. By the way, the President at the press conference talked about 149 nations signing the Nonproliferation Treaty, asked me to correct the record and make it clear that he was referring to the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty.
There was a discussion of China. Chancellor Kohl asked for the President's assessment of the new government. The President said it is still essentially a closed system but moving in the right direction. He talked about how China's history of disintegration bears on and restrains its capacity often to liberalize, and that's something that we have to continue to work on. Chancellor Kohl said that the President's visit to China was extremely important and he fully supported it. And it is through these kinds of contacts that we will help make the regime open up.
There was a discussion of North Korea -- both Koreas, for that matter. The Chancellor asked the President's assessment of the situation in North Korea. The President talked about the situation there both economically and politically, thought there was some promise by virtue of the election of Kim Dae-Jung, who is a man by history and inclination who may be able to engage in a dialogue with the North to a greater extent than perhaps has been in the past.
The Chancellor asked him about the Middle East peace process, what the prospects were. The President said he continues to hope things are possible and briefed Chancellor Kohl on the status of the situation with Secretary Albright, who I think as we speak is just going into meetings with Prime Minister Netanyahu in Washington. And Chancellor Kohl offered his assessment as well.
Again on Kosovo, coming back to Kosovo, at this point Foreign Minister Kinkel, who was also at the lunch, talked about four essential objectives here. One, the central issue of getting a dialogue going which he considered today's developments to be very encouraging in that respect. Then to get President Milosevic to accept a long-term negotiation. Then to determine what kind of presence might be necessary in the surrounding states to avoid the spilling over, UNPREDEP in Macedonia and perhaps some sort of partnership for peace or other enterprise in Albania.
They talked at some length about Russia, and the President and Chancellor Kohl see things relatively the same; that is, that this new government is promising group of young reform-oriented, pragmatic people who are now running the government under President Yeltsin's authority. And it's obviously a very important time for those reforms to really accelerate so that they can attract the kind of external investment that will enable growth rates to substantially increase.
Let me leap over to the meeting with Gerhardt Schroeder. It lasted about half an hour. Mr. Schroeder was very complimentary of the speech of the President. They talked about integration of the East and Russia, will reformers prevail. He said that Germany has an important task in reaching out to the East, but it has to deal with its own economic issues as part of that in order for there to continue to be public support.
There then was a rather lengthy discussion of economic policy. Mr. Schroeder asked the President how in the world he did it, how was it possible for the United States to have strong growth, budget control, and low inflation, what was the secret of that. The President said that he thought it had come about as a result of three factors: one, the substantial restructuring that had taken place in the American economy in the '80s, where many industries went through very difficult transformations; second, an economic strategy that emphasized cutting the deficit, increasing investment in training and people and a good monetary policy; and, third, opening markets, which is a key to creating higher wage jobs. And that was about it.
Q Sandy, what would the United States like the G-8 summit to do on the issue of India?
MR. BERGER: Well, I'm sure this will be raised at the summit. I would hope that the participants at the summit would issue a very strong and clear statement condemning the action of India and calling upon it not only to cease this series of tests, but to stop testing, sign the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty. And we would hope that individual nations would take concrete and tangible actions that would make it very clear that the era of nuclear testing is ending. And India is, in a sense, swimming against the tide.
We were pleased today to see the Japanese government announce that it was cutting off aid, they were suspending aid to Japan (sic), and we would hope that other countries would consider similar steps.
Q Sandy, if the Pakistanis go ahead and do a test of their own, would the U.S. -- would the President be required under law to impose the same kinds of sanctions against Pakistan?
MR. BERGER: I think the law is fairly clear, that if a non-nuclear -- so-called non-nuclear state undertakes a nuclear test, it is covered by the provisions of the Glenn Amendment and sanctions will be applied.
We would certainly hope that Pakistan would not do that in its own self-interest. I think if the Pakistanis were to refrain from that act, notwithstanding what the Indians have done, I think it would gain the high moral ground in the world and I think that would redound to its benefit.
Q Sandy, what did the Pakistani Prime Minister tell President Clinton when he asked him not to take that road?
MR. BERGER: Well, I don't think -- just as the President didn't characterize what the Prime Minister said, I'm not going to either. It was a very good conversation. I think the President made the argument as to why, notwithstanding considerable public pressure at this point in Pakistan, it would be in Pakistan's interest to not respond in kind. I think the Prime Minister listened attentively, but he made no commitments and I'm not going to characterize that.
Q How could President Clinton go to either Pakistan or India this year?
MR. BERGER: Well, we've -- you know, we've made no decision whether to change our plan at this point to go to India and Pakistan. I think we need to let some time go by and see how this plays out before we make any decision.
Q Sandy, if I can follow on that if I can. There was a story late today which suggested that the Indian government had finished its testing and was now willing to consider a testing ban. If they did that, would that smooth things over and perhaps allow for a visit?
MR. BERGER: Well, it would certainly be -- I think the report you refer to I think is accurate, that is that the government of India has indicated that this is the end of this series of tests. I don't believe that it has said that it will never test again. Clearly, it would be, I believe, in India's interest to unequivocally make that commitment. And the most unequivocal way it could make that commitment would be to become signatories and then ratify the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty. I think that would do a great deal to help improve India's standing in the world.
Q Sandy, do you see any evidence that in fact that is India's intention, that they have signaled in any way, shape, or form to the United States they're now willing to do that?
MR. BERGER: No, I have no evidence that they're going to do that. I'm saying I think it would be very much in their interest to do it. What India has done over the last two days has not been, in my judgment, in India's own long-term self-interest. That is this is, as the President said, a vibrant democracy, an important country, a country that has been unshackling itself from a lot of the economic baggage that has held it down for many years. It has enormous potential.
But now that the world, now that the five declared nuclear nations -- Russia, China, the United States, France, Great Britain, and 149 minus five other countries have foresworn nuclear testing, nuclear testing is simply, I think as the President said, unnecessary, unjustifiable at this point, and we would hope that they would make that same commitment.
Q Sandy, can you explain the importance of Strobe Talbott's mission now to Pakistan, why that's --
MR. BERGER: Secretary Talbott and General Zinni will go off to Pakistan. The President raised the idea this morning with Prime Minister Sharif, whether it would be useful for a representative or a delegation -- not a delegation -- a representative to come to Pakistan to discuss these issues with him. And Prime Minister Sharif said he would be pleased to have an official come.
I think that, again, the purpose here is to further make the argument to Pakistan -- which is, you know, right next door and has just seen this act that is quite destabilizing and is obviously, as the President said, the Pakistani people feeling quite exercised about this, to try to make the argument to Prime Minister Sharif that Pakistan could gain a great deal in the national community right now if it refused to respond in kind.
Q Is that kind of to send a signal to India?
MR. BERGER: No, General Zinni knows this area very well, knows the people very well. Obviously, there are many different institutions within the Pakistan government whose opinions are brought to bear on decisions such as this, and we thought it would be useful for him to join Talbott.
Q Sandy, after being blind-sided in the first round, did the United States Intelligence Agency see this second round of tests coming? Did India alert us that it was going to do this? And does the President still have full confidence in the CIA director?
MR. BERGER: Let me say -- first of all, after the first tests on Monday, Secretary Pickering spoke directly to the Indians and asked them specifically whether they intended to explode any further devices. And the Indians were nonresponsive to that question. So obviously we were apprehensive after the first set of tests that there could be more.
I think with respect to the intelligence side of this, first of all one has to recognize this is a difficult intelligence undertaking. But the specific answer to your question is the President absolutely has full confidence in Director Tenet -- we talked about it specifically today -- and both confidence in his I think very, very strong leadership of the intelligence community and confidence that he will review the facts and circumstances surrounding the events of the last few days in a very thorough and objective way with the outside help of Admiral Jeremiah, who, as you know, was General Powell's vice chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and is a man of enormous both integrity and wisdom and expertise. And we'll see what happens.
Q Sandy, what role did the President's apprehension about a second round of tests play in the decision not to delay invoking a legislation further and to go ahead and impose the sanctions. Did he hope to forestall the second round of tests or did --
MR. BERGER: I lost you in your negatives there. Do you want to try that again.
Q I'll try it again. If the President was apprehensive that there was going to be a second round of tests --
MR. BERGER: Well, what I said is we were -- I don't think I said that -- I think this has taken place really at a level below the President, with Pickering and others concerned after three tests were there going to be more.
Q But he made the decision to invoke the legislation before the second round of tests. So what I'm wondering is, was that in hopes of forestalling the second round of tests. So what I'm wondering is, was that in hopes of forestalling a second --
MR. BERGER: No. I think the decision was made yesterday to invoke the sanctions and to not seek the 30-day provision. The President actually made that decision on the plane. It was communicated back immediately to Washington. And I think that decision would have happened whether or not there were further tests at that point.
When I say -- knowing there were three tests, obviously, I think Under Secretary Pickering wanted to ask them directly whether there were going to be more. They did not give a responsive answer.
Q Sandy, could you tell us how and by whom the President was informed of each of the series of tests?
MR. BERGER: He was informed of the Monday test by me on Monday morning, and of the second tests today, also I think by myself.
Q What was his reaction, Sandy, when you told him about the tests this morning? Surprise?
MR. BERGER: Well, I think -- you know, the President, as he said, is deeply disappointed by this. I think that he, number one, seeks to build a stronger partnership between the United States and India. This is obviously a setback to that effort. And number two, has devoted enormous energy to nonproliferation and has accomplished a great deal with the Nonproliferation Treaty and the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, denuclearization of Belarus, the Ukraine, Kazakhstan, strategic arms reductions with the Russians.
So any step backwards -- you know, you make four steps forward and one step backwards. I think that he was not happy about it.
Q Was he surprised, Sandy? I mean, he had just hours before asked -- personally asked the Indian government not to do this, warned them that the sanctions were going to be imposed, and then just a few hours later two more tests.
MR. BERGER: Well, I think decisions like this in terms of tests are not things that are turned on and off in a second. This obviously had been previously planned by the Indian government.
Q What steps is the administration -- what concrete steps is the administration willing to take to induce Pakistan not to test? I mean, aside from sort of the rhetoric and the high moral road, what can you offer them?
MR. BERGER: Well, there has been a continuing effort on the part of our administration to improve our relationship with Pakistan. As you may recall, the Pressler Amendment, which was enacted in the '80s, pretty much closed down any assistance that we could give the Pakistan.
With our support we succeeded in enacting an amendment to the Pressler Amendment that was sponsored by Senator Brown of Colorado about two years ago, Hank Brown, which repeals some of Pressler. And pursuant to that we have been able to restore some aid to Pakistan, some assistance. And I think we will examine what more we can do both bilaterally and multilaterally.
Q Sandy, did India deliberately mislead U.N. Ambassador Richardson to believe such tests were not going to happen? Did that come up? And has President Clinton responded to a letter from the Indian Prime Minister blaming relations basically with China for the need to do this?
MR. BERGER: The letter you refer to I think arrived in our office hours before we left on our plane to come here.
Q Has the President seen it?
MR. BERGER: I think the President is aware of it. I don't know whether he's seen it. What was the other part?
Q When Richardson was in India.
MR. BERGER: Well, you know, one never knows who knows what in a government such as the government of India with respect to a matter like this.
Q What does that mean?
MR. BERGER: Well, did the people who -- the bottom line is that he certainly was not told they were going to test.
Q Was he told --
Q Did he ask?
MR. BERGER: Excuse me?
Q Did he raise the issue?
MR. BERGER: I think this issue was raised by him, as it has been raised by every American representative in almost every conversation with the Indians.
Q Did they deliberately mislead him to believe that such a test wasn't going to take place?
MR. BERGER: Well, they were not forthright about it. The reason I'm not accepting your characterization is that, first of all, I don't know who Ambassador Richardson talked to, whether they were people who should have been in a position to know. I think there are probably people in the Indian government themselves who were not aware that this was taking place. Collectively, obviously, the government of India was not forthright with Ambassador Richardson.
Q Richardson was told, though, that there wouldn't be another series of tests; is that correct? He was told no.
MR. BERGER: I don't know the answer to that.
MR. STEINBERG: He was told that they were conducting a strategic review.
MR. BERGER: That's right. He was told no decisions would be made until they were essentially done with this defense policy review. And I think we were led to believe that that was not within days or weeks of being completed.
Q Sandy, aside from Pickering's suspicions that there might be more tests --
MR. BERGER: It's not just Pickering, but Pickering spoke to the Indians.
Q Okay. Aside from the fact that they were not willing to say, no, we're not going to test anymore, did the intelligence community see signs that another test was coming as quickly as it was?
MR. BERGER: Until we have all of the facts from the review that Director Tenet is undertaking, I think, particularly since I'm halfway around the world or a third of the way around the world, I'm not going to comment on what information they had or didn't have. I think George's intent is to do that quickly and expeditiously and report very soon on that.
Q Was the President informed, Sandy, that more tests were imminent?
MR. BERGER: No, we had no specific information.
Q On sanctions, can you tell us what the practical effect is on our relationship with India? How much money, do we have arms deals that are now going to be suspended, is there a dollar bill figure on how much this impacts?
MR. BERGER: I happen to have an answer to that question if I can find it. Scope of Indian sanctions: determination of bilateral assistance except humanitarian items, $51.3 million of AID development assistance for FY '98; $91 million PL-480, FY98; 2) termination of military sales and financing -- that's FMS and IMET -- $775,000; 3) termination of licenses for munitions list items, $476 million worth of those items -- that's whatever is on the munitions list, and it's not just computers -- those were approved since 1994; $41 million more approved in calendar year '97; $35 million pending; 4) termination of credit and guarantees by any U.S. government agency or instrumentality -- there are $2 million TDA grants pending, $4 billion in Ex-Im guaranteed spending, $10.2 billion OPIC insurance and finance pending, and $20 million in agricultural export credit guarantees pending; 5) opposing loans/guarantees in international financial institutions -- there are about $3.8 billion of such loans that are coming up in the IBRD, IDA -- Asia Development Bank; 6) prohibit U.S bank loans or credit to the government of India except to purchase food or agricultural commodities -- $1.98 billion is the current loan exposure; 7) prohibit exports of specific goods and technologies under the Export Administration Act, not including food, agricultural commodities, items related to congressional oversight of intelligence activities, $12 million in pending license requests.
And then there's a final note here -- note that the final numbers will depend on legal determinations as to the precise scope of the sanctions. So I would take those as estimates.
Q Which companies are hit the hardest?
MR. BERGER: I have no idea.
Q Sandy, has there been contact with China?
Q Sandy, didn't you meet this month with a delegation of officials from the Indian government yourself?
MR. BERGER: Yes, I met with the foreign minister last week.
Q Are you suggesting that the foreign minister of India may not himself have known about this imminent test?
MR. BERGER: Foreign Secretary, excuse me. I certainly raised this issue with him, and there was no indication of any intention to test. I can't tell you what he knew.
Q But you suspected he either --
MR. BERGER: I don't want to --
Q -- didn't know or deliberately misled you.
MR. BERGER: I don't want to speculate. I raised this issue with him as we do routinely in our contacts with India. One of the fundamental concerns we have is the arms race between India and Pakistan and the cycle of action/reaction -- both with respect to nuclear programs and with respect to missiles. So we have raised this continually with the Indians, both in terms of the manifestations of this tension and also the cause of the tension: why we were very pleased to see a dialogue begin between the Indian and Pakistan government several months ago. So this is something we always raise, and I did. And the answer was general and kind of standard fare.
Q Sandy, was there contact with China?
Q Sandy, regardless of how you characterize this, what does it to you that this country, India, is willing to mislead the U.S. administration? What does that say to you about their intentions?
MR. BERGER: I think it was a fairly expensive decision for them.
Q Sandy, have we had any contacts with the government of China over this? And if so, what was their reaction?
MR. BERGER: My understanding is that Secretary Albright was in the process of having a conversation with Chinese officials. I have not spoken to her since then.
Q Is India still a likely candidate to be part of the Security Council, the new Security Council? And isn't that process of reform now a little bit more complicated?
MR. BERGER: Well, Security Council reform I think goes way beyond India. We have indicated we'd like to see an expansion of the Security Council, we'd like to see Germany and Japan come on as permanent members, plus three others to be chosen on a regional basis. And we still believe that.
Q Sandy, I have a question about the credit guarantees? Could you just clarify a little bit --
MR. BERGER: Probably not.
Q All right, I'll try. Does that have to do with loans and guarantees to just the Indian government, or is that Indian companies or U.S. companies doing business with Indian companies, or U.S. companies doing business --
MR. BERGER: Do we know that, whether these guarantees are -- whether they're to the government or to -- I don't know the answer.
Q It says "any," sounds pretty broad.
Q And on that same subject, Indian sovereign debt trading -- is that included, too?
MR. BERGER: I'm sorry. I don't have -- there was a briefing I believe back in Washington on some of the details of this. I'm not -- obviously having been with the President all day -- in a position to answer all those questions. We certainly can get answers to all those questions.
Q Sandy, did the President talk about the sanctions with Chancellor Kohl? And did he ask Chancellor Kohl to impose similar sanctions? Will he be doing the same kind of thing in his bilateral meetings with Mr. Chirac and Yeltsin at the wider G-8 meeting?
MR. BERGER: There was a discussion of this with Chancellor Kohl. And I think the President hopes that other countries will both make their views known in very clear and unequivocal terms and also take tangible steps to manifest those so that the consequence of this is significant as a deterrent to other countries engaging in this kind of activity.
Q Didn't Kohl snub you when he said that he was looking at sanctions and that he didn't want to raise tensions?
MR. BERGER: Well, this has only happened today, okay. So it may not have been a full, complete discussion within the German government. I would not take what Chancellor Kohl said as the final word on this.
Q Sandy, would the President have acted as quickly as he did if it were not required by the law that he go ahead with this? And are there further steps that are being contemplated that might be more punitive on the Indian government?
MR. BERGER: The answer to your first question I believe is yes, he had an option to try to push this down the road, which he quickly rejected. There are -- I mean, this is a fairly substantial and powerful set of sanctions. I'm not aware of anything in American sanctions laws that is comparable to this. And let's see how this plays out before we talk about further steps.
END 9:02 P.M. (L)