THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary (Birmingham, England) ________________________________________________________________________ For Immediate Release May 15, 1998
PRESS BRIEFING BY PRESS SECRETARY MIKE MCCURRY AND DEPUTY SECRETARY OF TREASURY LARRY SUMMERS, NATIONAL ECONOMIC ADVISOR GENE SPERLING' UNDER SECRETARY OF THE TREASURY FOR INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS DAVID LIPTON
Metropole Hotel Birmingham, England
7:45 P.M. (L)
MR. MCCURRY: Hello, everyone. I know you're all having a very exciting time here at our London filing center.
Q This is Birmingham.
MR. MCCURRY: I thought we were already all the way out to London. Here's what I would like to do. The President has been quite busy today with his bilateral meetings and with a session this afternoon of seven-eights of the G-8, and I'd like to talk a little bit about that and have some people run through that.
I suspect many of you, particularly those of you writing for tomorrow morning, are going to be interested in the discussion that the leaders have this evening on political issues. There is not much I can do for you to preview that because, the leaders being the leaders, they will address those issues as they see fit. We will try to arrange to have some type of readout of tonight's dinner conversation after that session is over. So we can't help you on probably the subjects of most interest to you today, because the leaders have not, in fact, taken that up.
We have already, for the benefit of your pool, given you a fairly lengthy readout on the President's bilateral meeting with Prime Minister Hashimoto. I can give some detail on the President's very good, warm, expansive working luncheon with President Chirac. And I think it would be better, however, for us to turn to our guests who are here, beginning with National Economic Advisor Gene Sperling. I broke his glasses, but they now appear to be fixed, so I'm happy for that. (Laughter.)
Following Gene will be Deputy Secretary of the Treasury Larry Summers, who can talk a little bit about some of the interesting financial aspects to the discussion that the seven leaders had this afternoon. Under Secretary of the Treasury for International Affairs David Lipton is here to talk about a very -- he can talk a lot about the general statement, the Chairman's Statement that is about to be issued as a consequence of the G-7 meeting this afternoon, but in particular, he can note the President's intervention on the subject of Ukraine. Lael Brainard is here, too, from the National Economic Council, one of the President's chief economic policy advisors, and between all of them, I think we will be able to tell you what we can tell you at this point today, beginning with Mr. Sperling.
Thank you, Gene.
MR. SPERLING: As you know, the President started the day with a bilateral with Prime Minister Hashimoto, where there was a very significant economic discussion. The President, as he has said publicly, recognized that the stimulus package the Prime Minister had put forward was a substantial and positive one, but their attention turned mostly to issues of Japanese banking reform and strengthening.
They had a very serious, detailed discussion. The Prime Minister presented the steps they were taking. The President spoke with the Prime Minister about the lessons from the United States in terms of the S&L crisis, about the importance of being clear and transparent about banking problems, and taking decisive actions to resolve them under the notion that it is more cost-effective to act quicker than later.
As you also know, earlier today concerning Japan, as many of you got the briefing from Dick Fisher on the deregulatory initiative, the joint status progress report, there is also the announcement today of the U.S.-Japan joint statement on electronic commerce. For those of you who have not been able to have that, we do have the copy of that.
This was a very significant agreement setting forth between U.S. and Japan a commitment to keeping custom duty-free the electronic commerce, the information world-wide superhighway and providing for effective privacy protections, but done through private sector as opposed to government regulation and enforcement; as well concerning content, a focus on blocking and filtering devices, working with law enforcement authorities when appropriate -- again, as opposed to requiring on-line providers to have to regulate or censor content.
The session of the G-7 opened today. President Clinton was the lead for the session. He commented at the beginning on the obvious focus since their last meeting on the Asian financial crisis -- that, in spite of that, that there had been stronger than projected growth, not only in the United States but in several of the countries there, and stressed the importance of each of the economies doing their best to keep their economy and their demands strong, and towards keeping a commitment toward open trading and open markets, while at the same time stressing the need to improve and strengthen labor and environmental standards at the same time.
The President mentioned the success of the launching of the Euro and his belief that European integration and the successful EMU are in America's interest. He also stressed the importance of African economic development and the degree that, with more awareness, more people would understand the mutual benefits of economic investment and integration with Africa.
The President repeated many of the points that he had made on Japan, that there had been positive steps on the fiscal situation, that Prime Minister Hashimoto deserved praise for taking those positive steps, but that the issue of the banking reform was critical; and talked about the steps that Prime Minister Hashimoto had suggested they were taking in terms of decisive action to address the bad loan, nonperforming loan issues and other issues there.
The Prime Minister followed. Prime Minister Hashimoto himself spoke about the degree that there was increased unemployment going on throughout Asia, that before the Asian crisis and after, there had been a dramatic increase of unemployed and that over 20 million people were now unemployed in Asia, and the importance of the community addressing that. He spoke about his stimulus plan, about some of the conversation on the steps they're taking on banking reform, and on their desire to deregulate and open the Japanese market to the world.
President Chirac was very welcoming of the Japanese measures, looking at it very positive. Kohl spoke of the significant success that there had been on the launching of the Euro, that at the time of Maastricht that the target seemed virtually unachievable for many countries and that the progress so far had been very good and that the prospects for growth in Europe in '99 also seemed very positive, subject to changing circumstances in Asia.
Prodi spoke of the importance of the linkage of the domestic demand, emphasizing the point the President made on each of the economy -- strengthening domestic demand and specifically tieing that to the unemployment issues in Europe and suggesting the importance of the strengthening of domestic demand for addressing part of the unemployment issues there.
Santer spoke about the Euro, clearly, that he felt would be a source of market confidence and his hope that it would actually lead to the stronger restructuring and increased competition that would keep growth going.
After that, much of the discussion turned to the financial architecture issues. I'm going to turn it over to Deputy Secretary Summers to go through that.
DEPUTY SECRETARY SUMMERS: Thanks, Gene.
They did it their way at the G-7 -- (laughter) -- and there will be a Chairman's Statement which will be available quite shortly. (Laughter.) And what I want to do is just go through some of the highlights of the Chairman's Statement.
As an outgrowth of the discussion of the Japanese economy, Japan indicates in the Chairman's Statement that it is its intention to strengthen the financial system, including by resolving decisively nonperforming asset problems, as well as stressing the importance of promoting structural reforms, which complements the steps that have already been taken in the fiscal area.
The primary set of issues that were discussed at seven were the set of issues having to do with the international financial architecture, which obviously commanded the leaders' attention in light of the Asian financial crisis. There was, I think, overwhelming agreement that is reflected in the Chairman's Statement on the importance of having a global capital market as a major contributor to growth around the world, and on the importance of backing that global capital market with strong support from the IMF, and with strong policy by countries that were receiving capital flows so as to best ensure that those capital flows were used well and invested in ways that would avoid problems down the road by being invested productively.
Four areas were highlighted as conclusions, with leaders drawing on the work of a report that they had received from their finance ministers. The first was increased transparency. This has long been a preoccupation of ours. If you look at the growth of the American stock market, no innovation in the last century has been as important as the idea of generally accepted accounting principles.
And the leaders agreed to encourage IMF members to sign up for special data dissemination standards, and in particular, to highlight the full set of information on assets and liabilities of the public and private sector. In particular, this was motivated by the concern about the off balance sheet liabilities that have never been reported of certain central banks contributing to the Asian financial crisis.
Second, the leaders called on the IMF to help countries throughout the world prepare for global capital flows by calling on the IMF both to monitor these flows, particularly short-term flows, and to provide advice to countries on how best to manage orderly capital account liberalization.
Third, the leaders called for strengthening national financial systems by encouraging all countries to adopt and implement the Basle core principles of effective banking supervision which had been an outgrowth of the last two summits, as well as the development of international codes and guidelines for corporate governance and accounting principles.
Perhaps most importantly, they called for the establishment of a system of multilateral surveillance of national financial systems, much the same way that we have been surveilling macro economic policy of countries for a long time.
Fourth, the leaders called for broad measures to ensure that the private sector takes full responsibility for its own decisions in order to reduce moral hazard. In particular, they called for the encouragement of bankruptcy laws around the world and called for the IMF to make clear that in appropriate circumstances it would lend money to countries even though they were in arrears to private creditors.
The leaders asked that these matters be taken forward urgently in light of the important issues pointed up by the Asian financial crisis, and asked for the report from the finance -- asked for subsequent reports from the finance ministers of the G-7 countries, working in conjunction with all countries through, in particular, the Interim Committee of the IMF.
The final set of issues that were discussed at seven involved Ukraine, which David Lipton will speak about.
UNDER SECRETARY LIPTON: Thank you. It's nice to be here in Birmingham. If you can make it here, you can make it anywhere. (Laughter.)
I want to say a few words about the discussion on Ukraine. Heads discussed both the subjects of economic reform in Ukraine and progress and cooperation in improving nuclear safety. Heads agreed that the progress that Ukraine makes is very important for Ukraine, for all of Central Europe, and for us in the West. They stressed the importance of Ukraine moving ahead with economic reform and preparing a strong program of reform that can be supported by IMF financial support.
On nuclear safety, they reaffirmed the G-7 commitment to the memorandum of understanding on the closure of Chernobyl and on improvements in nuclear safety. They noted that G-7 collaboration with the Ukrainians in this area will depend on Chernobyl being closed on schedule by the year 2000.
They also urged Ukraine to make needed reforms in the energy sector and urged the EBRD to complete its review of the Khmelnitsky 2 and Rivne 4 safety upgrade projects and contribute to the financing of a loan project for those nuclear safety upgrades, once the lending criteria of the EBRD were met. They noted that that, of course, would depend on Ukraine making the needed energy sector reforms to make those projects economically viable.
MR. MCCURRY: And now your questions.
Q Were foreign exchange rates discussed either in the bilateral meeting or in the G-7 meeting?
MR. SPERLING: I do not recall them being raised in the Japanese bilateral.
Q What about the general G-7 meeting?
MR. SPERLING: Not to the best of my knowledge. Obviously, only Jim Steinberg was in the room.
Q This for Mr. Summers. The communique has a provision in it that encourages international -- when international bonds are sold, that they basically have a refinancing option. Can you clarify that?
DEPUTY SECRETARY SUMMERS: What it encourages is issues that allow for renegotiation in the event of default, and that goes to issues of the way bond covenants are written in particular, questions of unanimity rules versus majority rule decisions made by debtors -- made by creditors in the event of problems, procedures for forming creditors committees and the like.
The central objective -- and this is really an outgrowth of what has been a stream of work coming out of previous summits -- is that it is important to find ways to manage potential moments of financial strain without either providing large amounts of financial support or taking the risk of a descent into chaos and contagion. And by providing for renegotiation where that becomes necessary is one way of reducing those risks and also of controlling moral hazard problems.
Q So this is a way, for example, so Treasury Secretary Rubin doesn't have to talk to banks for renegotiating debt?
DEPUTY SECRETARY SUMMERS: This would be a way of facilitating the process of renegotiation in conditions where that was necessary, and, in particular, facilitating renegotiation where debt was bonded and, therefore, held in a very dispersed way rather than from banks, where it is concentrated in a relatively limited number of institutions.
Q Mike, what are the Pakistanis saying toward the discussion on the F-16s?
MR. MCCURRY: I'll come back and do other issues that the economic team don't want to do. Let's exhaust them first.
Q On the bond issues, you talked about this is a way to renegotiate when there are bonds. Bonds haven't been the problem in Asia, it's been the bank debt. Is there anything that the leaders agreed on that you think substantially reduce the ability or the recurrence of an Asia-like crisis, particularly renegotiating bank debt -- debt reduction, that sort of thing?
DEPUTY SECRETARY SUMMERS: Yes, I think the references in the Chairman's Statement to developing a framework to ensure that the private sector plays a timely role in the resolution of crises and the particular references to lending by the IMF into arrears and thereby sanctioning situations where debt is reduced or extended both point to the resolution of these crises without the kind of large-scale -- without perhaps the need for large-scale financial support.
Each crisis is different and each situation is different, so it's not possible to perfectly predict how these mechanisms would work in any future instance. But one major problem in the past has been the concern about reaching agreement or dealing with bond holders who, for example, were never involved in the debt reductions that took place in the 1980s. And so the agreement on the principle of desirability of bonds the permitted renegotiation is a significant one.
Q Indonesia is exploding also in part because of the IMF measures, to which in part you contribute, suggesting. Do you regret having done that? And do you think that the risk -- it's hard to establish a general rule for every country?
DEPUTY SECRETARY SUMMERS: It's indeed hard to establish a general rule for every country, and I think the President has -- the President issued a statement today on the situation in Indonesia in which he made clear our degree of concern about the tragic deaths that have taken place there and the importance of social stability and the importance of a more open political dialogue for social stability. And these have been themes in our approach to Indonesia over time.
Ultimately, the destiny of the Indonesian countries is in the hands of the Indonesian people and in the hands of the government of Indonesia. And we have urged restraint on all sides and an open process that can move things forward and can create an environment in which economic and political reform can take place.
Q Well, was there a discussion in the G-7 about the connection between the IMF program and the social disturbances and unrest that are going on now, and perhaps the effectiveness of the IMF's reputation looking forward?
DEPUTY SECRETARY SUMMERS: My understanding is that the questions relating to Asia are on both the G-7 and are on the G-8 agenda, which will be taking place tonight and will be taking place tomorrow. I believe that the discussion of the IMF-related issues that took place so far has been a discussion related to the financial architecture questions that I just spoke about.
Q Japanese officials earlier in the day said that their fiscal program is moving forward in the Diet right now. They also suggested that their issue as part of the -- reducing the corporate tax to 40 percent, to bring it more in line with the U.S. and Europe. They want to get that done over the next three years. What effect do you think this is going to have in terms of stimulating the growth they need to get to sustainable levels?
DEPUTY SECRETARY SUMMERS: Well, I think we've clearly welcomed the tax policies that -- tax and spending and fiscal policies that Japan has committed itself to and look forward to their rapid implementation.
And clearly, in this phase, as Japan seeks to create sustained domestic demand-led expansion its fiscal policy and the various fiscal tools will be in focus. The banking system is a particularly critical issue, which is why we welcomed the measures that the Prime Minister described and the commitments that Japan made.
And also deregulation and market opening are of great importance, which is why the agreement that was reached earlier today and the progress on electronic commerce seems important to us, as well.
Q Larry, I know it wasn't discussed today, but last month the G-7 asked for an excessive depreciation of the yen. Isn't there a contradiction between saying that and asking for Japan to stimulate its economy? I realize you're asking for domestic demand-led growth, but growth is growth. If you ask for a steadying of the yen or a strengthening of the yen, isn't that a contradiction to stimulating what's always been an export-led economy?
DEPUTY SECRETARY SUMMERS: I don't think so. It has I think been our view and I think the view of others for a long time that over time markets tend to follow fundamentals, and therefore, strengthening the fundamentals of the Japanese economy through fiscal policies, through repair of the banking system and deregulation and market opening, would have as one of the its benefits in creating a stronger economy, creating a period of domestic demand-led growth and its exchange rate concomitance.
Q You've talked about the Japanese banking problem with some strong words, I think. "Prompt, decisive action" was used this morning; this evening it was characterized as "critical." Are you really trying to focus world attention on this issue? And also, can you outline some of the steps the Japanese have offered to do to reform their banking system?
DEPUTY SECRETARY SUMMERS: I think it is less a matter of where we are trying to focus attention than where the Japanese have recognized that attention is needed, and it is certainly something that we share.
Critical priorities in the banking area I think are of a number of kinds. One is clear transparency and recognizing the size and scope of the problem. Second critical priority is creating an asset-backed securities market and creating markets that allowed bad assets to be -- assets that -- nonperforming loans to be marketed so that the property markets and other markets can become liquid again, and there isn't a sense that there is still further decline that lies ahead. And so I think the reference in the statement to resolving decisively nonperforming asset problems is a significant one.
Third, there is, I think, a recognition of the need to improve the quality and quantity of financial supervision in Japan, as there is in so many other countries. And these kinds of measures, along with other more technical steps to deal in a differentiated way with different institutions that find themselves differently situated are all seen I think as critical elements of working through this problem, and I think that's an awareness that the Japanese very much share.
Q Larry, you've been urging the Japanese, though, to establish some kind of an RTC type system for resolving the bad -- problem. Is there any indication that they are moving towards that?
DEPUTY SECRETARY SUMMERS: Well, I think that every country's circumstances differ and so particular things don't carry over exactly. But I believe that the reference to resolving nonperforming asset problems points to what was the key function of the RTC, which is the liquification of bad assets off of balance sheets.
But clearly these are processes that take time. It took the United States a significant time period to work through the financial strains that we had in the late 1980s and early 1990s, and I think there's a recognition that these are processes that take time, but that allowing markets to find their level is a critical requisite.
MR. MCCURRY: Any other subjects?
Q I just wanted to go back to the F-16s. What response are you hearing from the Pakistanis on the discussion of leeway on that issue?
MR. MCCURRY: A short while ago Deputy Secretary Talbott finished good meetings that he had today in Islamabad with the Pakistani Foreign Minister, the Chief of Army Staff, and then concluding with a session he had with Prime Minister Sharif. Those were sessions in which the United States reiterated its strong opposition to the tests by India, again urged restraint on the part of the government of Pakistan. Pakistani officials listened carefully and attentively to the arguments made by the U.S. delegation. They indicated that no decision has yet been made with respect to its own testing program. At the same time, there weren't any assurances one way or another given to the U.S. delegation.
At this point, that is the readout that we have gotten, which is very consistent with what Deputy Secretary Talbott has said publicly at the conclusion of these meetings in Pakistan. His plan is to fly now here to Birmingham to participate in President Clinton's bilateral meeting with President Yeltsin, but that will also afford President Clinton an opportunity to have a much more detailed and substantive briefing on the conversations that the U.S. team had in Pakistan.
Q If I could just follow up, did he talk with the President? Is the President more or less optimistic about Pakistan?
MR. MCCURRY: Deputy Secretary Talbott has not spoken directly with the President because the President has been in the meetings that we've been describing to you. We have had the readout I just gave you from the delegation traveling and that was given to Mr. Berger and Mr. Berger will convey that to the President -- maybe already has.
Q There are no more meetings between Talbott and the Pakistanis?
MR. MCCURRY: My understanding is that they were concluding and then planning to depart en route to London, I believe. And they are expected in London sometime either late tomorrow or Sunday.
Q Were you able to figure out what the President was referring to this morning when he said he thought a solution had been found to the refund question?
MR. MCCURRY: Well, the United States has been working hard for some time on a question that arises because the restrictions in U.S. law made it impossible for us to transfer the F-16s purchased by Pakistan to Pakistan. We have looked for some time on how, either through a third party transfer or through other means, we might satisfy our obligation to produce something, since we have accepted a series of payments for the planes that have been purchased.
The President was indicating that that work has continued; it does continue. We had been working on that irrespective of regional balance questions and the tests that have come about. But we will remain interested in seeing if there's some way we can't make good on what we think and what the President has stated as an obligation we have to make the government of Pakistan in some sense whole. Although, the value of the merchandise has obviously declined.
Q Is the idea to get them the planes or get them a refund?
MR. MCCURRY: We are exploring ways in which we might satisfy this. In the past we've looked primarily at third party purchases, but we will continue to explore ways that we can satisfy the obligation.
Q But a refund, though, not planes, right?
MR. MCCURRY: That's as specific as I'm going to be.
Q Is a solution in sight, though?
MR. MCCURRY: We've been working hard on it and we can see some ways in which we might be able to get a positive outcome --
Q Mike, did --
MR. MCCURRY: -- to provide any greater detail at this point.
Q Can I try one more? Did Talbott suggest to them that the administration is prepared to go to the Hill to try to get relief from the Pressler Amendment in order to be able to transfer those planes?
MR. MCCURRY: I think that the concerns the government of Pakistan have, quite legitimately, go well beyond the question of this one arms transaction. They have got now concerns about regional security issues that are profoundly troubling. There is great pressure on the government of Pakistan as a result of the decision by the government of India, and I would suggest that you not think of this as one area of concern that resolves other areas of concern. This is one item among many that the government of Pakistan is now concerned about.
Q At one point I believe one of the Pakistani officials said that Pakistan would be looking to see what the G-8 said about India. What does President Clinton want this summit to do?
MR. MCCURRY: I believe that it's safe to say that President Clinton wants to see a good, sober discussion of this issue this evening and joins in the expression that Prime Minister Blair has made that there should be some statement of condemnation for the course that the government of India has pursued.
Q Are words enough, or do you need deeds as well?
MR. MCCURRY: Well, we always need deeds, but the question was whether or not there is utility in a statement from the G-8, and there may very well be.
Q What kind of deeds would the President like to see the G-8 --
MR. MCCURRY: Those that he described -- the deeds he would like to see are those that he called upon the government of India to perform.
Q What are the deeds of the other G-8 countries, though?
MR. MCCURRY: The other G-8 countries will no doubt pursue the sentiments that they have expressed in ways that they consider correct.
Q Is it fair to say that Russia and the French would block any attempt at sanctions here and is the President accepting that?
MR. MCCURRY: I don't know that there is an effort here to address the question of sanctions.
Q He was involved in them?
MR. MCCURRY: We've taken -- we've followed our law and implemented our law as sees fit. I'm not entirely familiar with what export restriction law is in each of the other member countries of the G-8.
Q Mike, the President talked about a formula that he hoped the G-8 would come up with that might make it possible for Pakistan not to go forward with the tests. Can you give us any sense of what this formula might contain? Is it just a statement or --
MR. MCCURRY: I will not at this point.
Q Is it something more than just a statement?
MR. MCCURRY: Well, these leaders are not in a position to do much except discuss an issue and then make some expression based on their discussions. So I'm not sure how it could be anything but a statement.
Q When the President talked about the sanctions in Berlin, or in Potsdam on Wednesday, he indicated that he hoped other nations would follow the U.S. lead. Was he not referring in that case to sanctions?
MR. MCCURRY: Well, there are steps that other governments can take. The government of Japan has taken steps. There are some that we understand are under consideration that reflect the concern of other governments and this group of nations and, indeed, other governments around the world have about the course that has been pursued by India.
Q Do you foresee any statements coming out this evening, either on the India-Pakistan test issue or on Indonesia?
MR. MCCURRY: It is entirely impossible to predict at this point. These leaders, when they have met in the past, have decided themselves how they wish to make their sentiments known. In some cases they have elected to put out a written statement after the dinner is over; that's usually negotiated overnight. Sometimes, depending on the issue, the Chair arrives to make a statement. There is just no way of knowing at this point what they might want to do following this dinner.
Q What would the President like the G-8 to do or say on the issue of Indonesia?
MR. MCCURRY: I think the President believes it's important for them, again, to have a discussion about the critical moment that presents itself for the leadership of Indonesia as they face very legitimate concerns that have been expressed by the people of Indonesia. And urging the government of Indonesia to somehow or other account for those legitimate concerns that have been expressed by the people of Indonesia is something that he probably would like to see the G-8 reflect in some fashion.
Q -- Campbell said we don't envisage G-8 economic sanctions along the lines of what the Americans have been discussing. Do you suggest that they're not discussing them here?
MR. MCCURRY: I think I just did a minute ago, yes.
Q Well, what is he talking about, do you know?
MR. MCCURRY: I think what I just told you is consistent with what Mr. Campbell said.
Q Mike, on Indonesia, during the bilateral with Hashimoto today, were there any discussions at all about possible policy options if the Suharto government was to fall, what should be done --
MR. MCCURRY: I'm sorry, speculative discussions about policy decisions in a post-Suharto environment?
Q Right. Was there any discussion about policy options of the Suharto government was to fall?
MR. MCCURRY: I didn't have anything reported to me of that nature.
Q The Japanese announced after the meeting that they're sending a special envoy to Pakistan. Did the President have any role in that decision?
MR. MCCURRY: I don't believe he -- it wouldn't be correct to say he had a role in that. I think that they talked about approaches that would be important, and that was something for the government of Japan to announce.
Q Do you have any reaction to Johnny Chung saying that he received money from the Chinese military?
MR. MCCURRY: You're referring to a story that The New York Times had, and Mr. Kennedy has already responded to that.
Q Since he's there and we're here, can you tell us?
MR. MCCURRY: You can get a copy of whatever he's had to say if you haven't seen it already. I think your wires already carried it if I'm correct.
Q Mike, did Prime Minister Blair ask the President to join him in that statement on Northern Ireland?
MR. MCCURRY: They talked about the fact that -- well, the President, when he saw the Prime Minister before they began this afternoon's session, they began discussing a number of issues as they caucused informally before the beginning of the session -- one of them was Ireland. And I think that they mutually agreed that it would be a good idea to make a statement. I think Prime Minister Blair did point out it would be significant for the President to make a statement. His views are important to the people of the Irelands, and I think the Prime Minister thought it would be useful to have the President state them, as he did.
Q Mike, to what extent was that joint appearance driven by the reports that polls show that there are doubts that are growing among people about this referendum.
MR. MCCURRY: I think it was correct to say that the statement was driven by the fervent desire of both the President and the Prime Minister to see the people and seize this opportunity for peace.
Q Are they as concerned about those polls that the President requested?
MR. MCCURRY: I don't know that the President has seen that poll.
Q If I can make sure I understand what's happening with the question of sanctions in India, are you saying that the President is not going to make a specific request for those kinds of sanctions.
MR. MCCURRY: I had said earlier I was not aware of any effort to make that a part of the discussion within the G-8. Clearly, there will be a discussion about the seriousness of the situation and the ways in which governments individually can respond and what the G-8 might collectively want to say about India.
Q But would you like that to include some specific steps?
MR. MCCURRY: I think that's -- I've been pretty clear on what I'm saying there.
Q You have leaders of eight of the most powerful countries in the world here. Is all the -- and you have this nuclear test in India that has put the world at enormous peril, some say. Is all they can do to agree on is to condemn India for doing it? Is there nothing else they can do to affect this situation?
MR. MCCURRY: Of course they can do more, and the United States government already has, and it's quite possible that some of these other governments will take additional steps, too.
Q But as a joint group -- for instance, would the President like there to be G-8 -- well, at least a G-7, statement?
MR. MCCURRY: I think I've already outlined what --the kind of conversation we want to see and we'll have to see how the conversation goes tonight and what results from it. I can't predict that for you right now.
Q The President's initiatives on trade tend to get damaged when other countries violate our sanctions -- or don't comply with sanctions that we impose, and make lots of money. Did President Clinton bring this up with President Chirac, namely Airbus sales to India, in light of this event?
MR. MCCURRY: I know that in their discussion they talked about some general trade related issues. Not to my knowledge did they get that specific. That wasn't reported to me. The issues -- it was a very, on that bilateral meeting, a very good, very warm discussion that went through a host of issues in a very straightforward manner in which President Chirac and President Clinton do business. They discussed, obviously, the situation in India. They discussed the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty generally. They discussed Pakistan. They discussed the situation in Indonesia.
They spent considerable time, given President Chirac's knowledge and expertise in the Middle East, they spent time on the Middle East peace process. They talked Kosovo. The President thanked President Chirac for the role the government of France was taking with respect to Turkey. They talked about the future of NATO and they did talk about the general subject of trade sanctions, but I think it was quite general.
Okay. That's it for tonight. Now, we are still working on how we're going to do tonight. I think we're going to try to do whatever our readout on the dinner conversation is in the same fashion we did the Hashimoto thing. We'll do something with the pool and we'll pipe it in here. It probably won't be sooner than 9:30 p.m. and more like 9:45 p.m. -- right?
Q Just to follow up, you said that Chirac and the President talked about trade. Did they talk about Helms-Burton, ILSA --
MR. MCCURRY: They talked about the trade discussions, the trade issues that have been some source of concern to the European Union. While that is a bilateral discussion we had today, that clearly is an issue that points toward further discussions that we are going to have Monday in the U.S.-EU format, and beyond -- and perhaps beyond that. There's been, I think, a lot of speculation that some how or other it's going to be entirely resolved here. And I don't have anything that leads me to believe for certain that that issue will be resolved.
Q Once the summit is underway tomorrow, do you anticipate using that briefing room at the summit site at all?
MR. MCCURRY: I tell you, it's hard to get any combination of our officials to make the trek out here. And I'm willing to transport everyone down there and do it down there because -- it's really what your needs are. This seems to be where you feed -- Robin, you're my expert on this. You really have all your transmission capabilities here, correct?
Q No, they're all down there.
Q They are all down there. This is not going back up. We have no --
MR. MCCURRY: You don't have anything here, so it's better to do it down there from the broadcast people's point of view. We'll talk about it and see what we can do. It would be much, much better for us to do the briefings and the readouts at that nice facility they've got down there, because it's much closer and I can get a better -- we can also make more people available down there during the day because it's very hard to get people to come all the way out here during the day.
We'll look at it and figure out how we're going to do it.
END 8:30 P.M. (L)