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                     Office of the Press Secretary
                         (Birmingham, England)
For Immediate Release                                       May 15, 1998
                           PRESS BRIEFING BY
                             Swallow Hotel 
                          Birmingham, England   

11:18 P.M. (L)

MR. STEINBERG: I'm going to give a brief report on the evening's dinner of the eight. It's going to be very short because I've got to get on to another meeting. Most of what I can tell you is secondhand, obviously, because the leaders were there by themselves, with a few interpreters.

The focus of the evening was on two -- there are two basic parts to it. There was a discussion of the broader ramifications of the Asia financial crisis on countries in East Asia. And then there was a discussion of several important foreign policy topics. I'm going to focus on the latter because I know a little bit more about it.

The UK Chair will be releasing statements on four topics tonight that were the subject of the leaders' discussion. There will be one on Indonesia; there will be one on the Indian nuclear tests; there will be one on the Middle East peace process; and there will be one on Kosovo and Bosnia. That was the major focus of the discussions.

I think that from our perspective that all four statements are quite important; in particular, the statements on Indonesia and the Indian nuclear tests. On Indonesia, there was -- the statement, as you'll see, basically reiterates the points that the President made earlier today which is that there is a need for a dialogue between the Indonesian government and the Indonesian people; that economic reform is important, and we continue to support it; but that, in order to succeed, that economic reform must be accompanied by political reform.

And this is, I think, a very important statement that was agreed by all the leaders about what they see is the only way to achieve what is the goals of everything that we're trying to get to, which is creating stability through an opening of the process.

On the Indian nuclear tests, again, as you'll see from the text, very strong condemnation of the nuclear tests. This is language which is even stronger than the language used by the Security Council earlier this week, and a clear indication that each of the countries indicated that their relationship with India has been affected by these developments and that they are going to make this clear in their own exchanges and in their dealings with the Indian government.

On the Middle East peace process there is a very strong and positive endorsement of the efforts of the United States trying to move the process to final status talks and the support that they have given to us.

And, finally, on Kosovo, there is, again, an endorsement of the effort that has been launched to have discussions, the first stage of which took place today, between President Milosevic and Rugova and the agreement to carry on with those discussions. The leaders, from their account, seem to have had very intensive discussion on each of these issues. It's obviously something that engages them quite a good deal, but seem to have a fairly broad consensus on each of these key areas leading to these texts.


Q Did the President get any commitment from anybody there to follow the U.S. lead on sanctions?

MR. STEINBERG: I think what you're going to see over the coming days is a number of countries, not only those here at the eight, but also other countries in the EU who are going to take measures. Each is sort of pursuing their own course, but the EU will be discussing this since they will try to take a common position on this. And I think a number of EU countries were inclined positively in that direction, but are waiting to have their continues in the EU.

Obviously, a number of the countries that are there, such as Canada and Japan, have taken measures of their own. And we're seeing a number of countries looking at the question, for example, of deferring World Bank loans to India, each sort of looking at measures that they might take.

Q Any update from Strobe Talbott?

MR. STEINBERG: As you probably know, I have been in these meetings all night. I haven't got anything. I don't know whether others here have.

Other questions?

Q Was the President pleased with the level of cooperation he's getting?

MR. STEINBERG: The words the President used as he road back is he was very pleased with the statements that came out of these discussions. He was pleased that they both -- we had an opportunity to discuss these very important topics. It really showed how the G-8 can be a very timely effort. I think it was a case, too, where the fact of the eight was a very positive one; the fact that Russia is associated with these statements, very important, just as in the case of Indonesia the fact that are one Asian partner, Japan, is associated with the Indonesia statement is very important.

Q Does he think these statements will help effect some change?

MR. STEINBERG: I think there was a sense that -- I assume you're talking about Indonesia -- well, in Indonesia I think there was a sense in which the common view of these countries, all of which are very important -- obviously, they are influential parties on the IFI funding and countries with strong relationships with Indonesia. It's not only the United States, but Germany and Japan having very close ties. There is a sense that it could prove helpful. Obviously, the focus of the discussion tonight was not only to make clear our condemnation of India, but to try to make our best efforts to encourage Pakistan not to move forward with the nuclear tests.

I'm going to have to stop with that.

Q One last question.

MR. STEINBERG: One last question.

Q Any chance Russia or France will go along with sanctions?

MR. STEINBERG: I think that as in any of these situations, if a number of countries express their views about how to proceed on these, it will have an impact, certainly with respect to some of the international financing issues. If key countries do not support financing for at least the non-humanitarian assistance for India, it will have an impact; the access to technology will have an impact. And so, clearly we want the broadest effort.

But I think here it's a question not of everybody doing the same thing, but a number of countries taking appropriate actions that can make clear to India that there is a price to be paid for this and that the international community does not agree with this; and conversely, that for Pakistan, there is an alternative and that by avoiding a nuclear test they can avoid these consequences.

Okay, thanks.

END 11:25 P.M. (L)