THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary (Birmingham, England) ________________________________________________________________________ For Immediate Release May 17, 1998
PRESS BRIEFING BY MIKE MCCURRY, DEPUTY NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISOR JIM STEINBERG AND DEPUTY SECRETARY OF STATE STROBE TALBOTT Metropole Hotel Birmingham, England
1:55 P.M. (L)
MR. MCCURRY: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. We have a really big show for you today. Over the course of the last several days, as eight leaders have been gathered around a room, but one U.S. official has been in the room with Bill Clinton, and that official is here with us today. He is the Deputy National Security Advisor to the President of the United States, James B. Steinberg.
And as an added attraction, direct from Islamabad, by way of the bilateral meeting with Boris Yeltsin, the Deputy Secretary of State of the United States of America, the honorable Strobe Talbott. This is a heavenly briefing, with such fire power. Jim is going to walk through some summary remarks and give a readout on some of the sessions that the leaders have been through the last few days. Strobe is here to give you a readout on the Yeltsin meeting. I think all of you have seen -- yes? -- the remarks that the President gave your pool, so they might reference those in passing. Mr. Steinberg.
MR. STEINBERG: Well, it's certainly been an interesting couple of days, and drawing on the experience of last night, we have two acts for you and we'll try to keep both of them fairly short. I have to say on a personal note, that there are a lot of different things that come together to make a G-8 meeting successful in terms of building relationships among the leaders, allowing them to work more effectively together, but I think nobody coming to this meeting anticipated that the most effective tool of building cooperation was having the eight leaders tapping their feet in time to "All You Need Is Love." (Laughter.) It's a sight which I will long remember.
This was, I think, a very successful summit for a number of reasons. I think that, as the President said today, it really shows how valuable this summit and this process can be for helping to deal not only with the immediate questions of the day, which always play an important role in the leaders' discussions, but also tackling the long-term challenges. And I think we particularly feel good about the fact that the summit was structured in a way that there was ample time to deal with both. That is, the serious discussion particularly on Friday night to deal with the most pressing, immediate foreign policy challenges, but real opportunities both during the retreat yesterday, and to some extent this morning, to talk about some of the long-term things.
And I think that there was -- having not had as close association, but at least having been on the fringes now of five of these -- I think that the feeling of the leaders about both the format and the opportunity that they had to work together has never been better. And I think that there was a rousing endorsement, tremendous praise for Prime Minister Blair and his team and a strong feeling we should do it just the same way next year.
Let me talk a little bit about some of the specific accomplishments of this summit and I'll give you a little briefing on this morning's discussion.
I think that we are, in particular, very pleased with the outcome of the summit, because I think, as you look at the communique, that it really reflects to a very considerable extent a lot of the interests and priorities of President Clinton not only, as I say, with respect to the immediate crisis, but many of his very important long-term priorities. Just let me mention seven in particular -- I'm cutting out the extras. (Laughter.)
First, I think we all knew coming into this meeting that it was going to be important for the leaders to take on the issue of the Asian financial crisis, not only in terms of the immediate response to Indonesia -- and we were very pleased with the statement on Indonesia, which I hope you will notice largely tracks some of the things the President had had to say in advance of the meeting -- but also in terms of the longer-term challenge, lessons learned in terms of prevention and in crisis management.
And I think the categories and the approach that the leaders endorsed today coming out of the finance ministers' meeting very much reflect a lot of the work that we have been doing, particularly if you look at some of the suggestions that Secretary Rubin and his team have made about the key areas that we need to concentrate on, with respect to transparency, with respect to surveillance and strengthening the mechanisms that allow both international and national regulatory authorities to deal with making sure their systems are sound. And finally, the problem which is sort of known by shorthand as moral hazard, the importance of making sure that the private sector is involved and bears some of the burdens. All of that was reflected in the approach that was taken today, and something that we feel very encouraged about and look forward to moving it forward in the months to come.
On crime, you'll all recall back in 1995 when the President went to the U.N. for the 50th anniversary, he identified the need for a major new international initiative for cooperation on crime, including moving forward with the U.N. Convention. There is a very strong reflection of that in the communique decisions across a number of very important areas, and ones that we think that, I think in combination with several other leaders, that we have finally put the issue of international cooperation on crime square at the center of what these leaders do, not only because it has a very significant security dimension -- and they talked at length yesterday about how crime and corruption can really damage political and economic transitions in the developing countries, in the new countries of Central and Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union -- but also because of the impact on our citizens. And so there I think a very strong reflection of our priorities.
On employability, the strategy about developing flexibility in the workplace, techniques like the Earned Income Tax Credit, obviously very much something that has been a hallmark of the President's administration.
On environment, there were two very important developments that are reflected in the communique. First, after what fairly can be described as a lot of different points of view last year at Denver on how to deal with the problem of climate change, the eight really came together in a common strategy both in terms of what they are going to do in implementing their strategies, and particularly with a focus on market mechanisms, flexibility, and trading, which will allow us and the developing countries to do this in a cost-effective way.
There was also a very strong endorsement for engaging developing countries to participate meaningfully in the climate change regime -- something that the President has been stressing, something that is our goal for the Buenos Aires meeting in November and something reflected here.
The other thing for you environment fans is the forest paragraph, which doesn't get a lot of broad attention, but the endorsement of the forest action plan has been a very high priority for our administration, and it's something that we hadn't -- we did not get as far as we wanted to last year -- we managed to move that forward.
On Africa, there are a number of important pieces in the communique, but I just want to highlight one, which is the initiative on dealing with post-conflict societies. For those of you who were on the President's trip, you'll recall that when he was in Rwanda and then in Entebbe, he stressed the need to try to develop a comprehensive strategy to deal with helping countries that have been in war and conflict and violence get out of there. And for the first time we see in the communique not only the specifics of how we're going to deal with particular problems like debt relief or trade, but the idea of a comprehensive strategy for post-conflict societies. We're very pleased about that.
On trade, my sixth and next to last item, there are two important elements here, I think. First of all, we were able to get a specific mention to increasing WTO transparency. This is a very great priority for the President. You're going to hear him talk about it on Monday when he goes to Geneva. It's something that we have been pushing very hard both in trade ministerial circles and with leaders, something that throughout this session we've pushed very hard to get the communique to reflect in a greater way.
I think it's very important -- if the public is going to support the WTO, they have to have a sense that it's open, that it's transparent, that the so-called stakeholder groups can have some access.
And the second is, we've got a very strong endorsement of the importance of moving forward on core labor standards and implementing the ILO Declaration. And that was again a very high priority for us coming into this in terms of strengthening the overall trade regime. Of course, there's an endorsement of liberalization; you're not surprised to see that. But the fact that we're able to couple it with transparency and moving forward and core labor standards I think is a very important reflection of our priorities.
Finally, you'll see that there was a paragraph on export controls. Again, this was something that we have been very focused on as we have been dealing with the problem of Iran and other countries trying to develop their WMD capabilities. The fact that all eight came together where we've been discussing this issue in detail -- the European Union and Russia, all to endorse a strong statement on greater rigor on our export controls is extremely important and something that we're very pleased about.
Just briefly to review this morning's discussion, because they were so engaged with it yesterday, they came back to the issue of the Y2K millennium bug computer problem. And it's really quite remarkable how concerned they all are in they're determination first to strengthen their own cooperation in sharing ideas and strategies to deal with this problem, but also recognition that a lot of problems are going to come about because of countries that don't have the capacity to address this. And so we need strategies working through the World Bank and the OECD to help poorer countries, smaller countries. It's an issue that the President learned firsthand about at the Santiago Summit and he discussed that with his colleagues here.
They talked a little bit about the format and, as I told you earlier, how much they enjoyed the way this worked, the fact that they thought it was very productive. They reviewed again the situation in Indonesia -- they asked Prime Minister Hashimoto to provide an update -- the fact that the situation on the ground is reasonably calm today, but that the Indonesian leadership has indicated that a cabinet shuffle is on the way as well as potentially some parliamentary reforms. And they all indicated once again the importance of the political dimension of resolving this conflict.
There was quite a bit of discussion about where we stood with respect to the Pakistani tests. You all have been following the reports up and down all morning. They, too, were obviously following it very closely and in touch with their own capitals. They made clear their strong view that they hope that Pakistan would not test, but that it should be understood that they would take a similar attitude on testing by Pakistan that they took towards India.
And then, finally, they had a discussion about sort of the future of the deepening of the eight. It's clear that President Yeltsin is very pleased with the fact -- he put it in today's meeting -- that they were able to discuss so many issues at eight and talked about how to deepen Russia's integration in the future.
DEPUTY SECRETARY TALBOTT: Jim's last comment actually provides a good segue for me into a brief report on President Clinton's meeting with President Yeltsin. It lasted about 45 minutes, and it began with a discussion of the G-8 meeting here in Birmingham.
President Clinton expressed satisfaction for the way in which he and President Yeltsin have been able to work together on bringing this institution to its present form. And near the top of the meeting, President Yeltsin -- President Clinton took his G-8 lapel pin off of his own jacket and pinned it on to President Yeltsin's, the symbolism of which I'm sure you can understand -- and President Yeltsin certainly did.
President Clinton, once again, fairly near the top of the meeting, congratulated President Yeltsin on putting in place a new government team made up very prominently of young, vigorous reformers. Now that that team is virtually in place, the two Presidents agreed that we'll be able to move forward on a number of issues in the bilateral arena, particularly in the area of economic cooperation. And there was some discussion about the good prospects for the now to be Gore-Kiriyenko Commission. And, of course, Vice President Gore has already talked on the telephone with Prime Minister Kiriyenko about that.
Presidents Clinton and Yeltsin then turned to the subject of a summit meeting that they both want to have in the relatively near future. And that, of course, led into a discussion of START III and the prospects for START III. It was in that context that the subject of the Indian nuclear test came up. And both agreed that this latest episode underscores the special responsibility that the United States and Russia as custodians of significant nuclear arsenals have to continue the task of reducing those nuclear arsenals, which they have every intention of doing in a very ambitious way under START III.
President Clinton then raised the issue of nonproliferation in general, and particularly the issue of illicit and dangerous transfer of missile technology to a number of countries that we all have reason to fear would misuse that technology, but with special reference to Iran.
I think as all of you know, this is a subject that has been on the agenda between Presidents Clinton and Yeltsin for a year. President Clinton said that he was glad that there had been some progress on this whole set of subjects, particularly recently, but there were also some remaining problems. And those remaining problems are in the area of implementation and enforcement, and that means implementation and enforcement of Russian laws and Russian executive orders. President Yeltsin reaffirmed in the clearest and most unambiguous terms his own personal commitment and that of his government to continue working with the United States to address these problems and to do so very promptly.
The two Presidents agreed that they would rely particularly on all of the high-level channels that have been engaged in working this issue. And the four principal ones there, in addition, of course, to the presidential channel itself, are the Gore-Kiriyenko channel, which has now taken over from the Gore-Chernomyrdin Commission. In fact, President Yeltsin had said at one point that former Prime Minister Chernomyrdin had passed the baton very smoothly to Prime Minister Kiriyenko on a number of issues, including this one.
And then, of course, there is the work that has been going on for many, many months between Secretary Albright and Foreign Minister Primakov. And then there is a new channel which came into being a week ago Thursday between Sandy Berger and his Russian counterpart, Andre Kokochin. As I think all of you are aware, Sandy and Leon Feurth and I went to Moscow to work a number of issues, but particularly that one. And it was agreed that that channel will remain very much engaged on this issue.
And then finally, there is the Gallucci-Koptev channel -- Bob Gallucci having taken over from Frank Wisner.
There was quite a bit of discussion about the Balkans, and the two Presidents agreed that they and their foreign ministers in particular would continue to work very closely to synchronize U.S. and Russian policies in the Balkans, both in our bilateral contacts and also through the Contact Group in order to build upon the progress that has been made in Bosnia, as well as the recent somewhat hopeful developments in Kosovo.
As I said, the meeting went for about 45 minutes. As it came to an end, President Yeltsin noted that, as is always the case in meetings of this kind, he had a great many talking points prepared by his staff for subjects which had not come up. So he simply handed his talking points across to President Clinton, who then reciprocated. (Laughter.) It means a lot more work for some of us at the working level who will spend a lot of time, I suspect, pouring over those talking points, but it gives you a little bit the flavor of easy-going informality that once again characterized the meeting.
Q Do you believe, based on your discussions with the Pakistanis, that they've made a firm decision to test nuclear weapons?
DEPUTY SECRETARY TALBOTT: All I can do is tell you the firm impression that I took away with me when I left Islamabad yesterday. And let me just for the record review who went and whom we saw.
I was accompanied by General Anthony Zinni, the Commander in Chief of the U.S. Central Command; Rick Inderfurth the Assistant Secretary of State for South Asia; and Bruce Rydell, who is the Senior Director of the National Security Council for South Asia as well as for the Gulf and the Middle East. We met with Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, Foreign Minister Ayub Kahn, and also with the Chief of the Army Staff, General Jahangir Karamat.
We felt very strongly after those discussions that the Pakistani leadership had not taken a decision. That said, I want to make clear, as they made clear to us, that not having taken a decision as of the time we met with them did not mean they had ruled out any options. They gave us no specific commitments as to what they would feel it was in their national interest to do, other than promising us that they would take a full account of the message that we brought to them from President Clinton, which you heard him reiterate publicly not long ago.
That's really all I can tell you with certainty based on our own trip there.
Q Strobe, your aware that Ayub said this morning that the decision has been taken by the Cabinet and according to the wires, it will now be a political decision to test. It is a matter of when, not if.
DEPUTY SECRETARY TALBOTT: Well, as I say, in our discussions we were very much focused on the question of whether, and what we were told then was that no decision had been made about whether they would feel that this was a necessary and, indeed, unavoidable thing for them to do. And I can convey to you that the sense we had throughout our meetings was that the people with whom we met were wrestling with what, for them, was, and no doubt continues to be, an extremely difficult and vexing dilemma.
In reporting to Secretary Albright from the plane en route here and to Sandy last night and to the President this morning, I said that I could not predict what they would do, but it was very clear that it was a hard decision.
Q Strobe, as we try to reconcile these different things, it seems to me there are three possible explanations -- and correct me if you think I'm wrong and help us sort them out. Either they could not have made a decision when you left and they have now, or they're saying one thing to you and another thing to their domestic constituency. I mean, is it possible that they want to leave the impression with the United States that the door is not yet closed, but want to reassure their public and especially their military that, yes, indeed, they are going forward? I mean, how do you sort this out when you hear these reports and yet know what they said to you?
DEPUTY SECRETARY TALBOTT: I can't be a lot of help to you, including helping you in parsing sentences coming out of Islamabad, many of which I have not seen, but I've only heard referred to.
I would simply say this. Our discussions were focused very much not on the question of what they would say, but on the question of what they would do. So as in so many other contexts, including, by the way, in the rather relevant context of recent discussions we had with the Indian government, we have always made clear that while we would listen carefully to the words that we heard, we would attach a higher order of importance to actions taken.
And what we heard was that no decision had been made on whether this particular action -- namely a Pakistani nuclear test -- would take place. And, as the President said today, contrary to some other news reports that were floating around earlier, we have no information to confirm that a Pakistani nuclear test has occurred. So in that sense, we are today, on the critical issue of what has happened, we seem to be today where we were yesterday. But obviously, words matter, too, in this context, and I hope very much that the Pakistanis would be the first to say that the words that President Clinton expressed a little while ago over at the conference center also matter and that they will continue to take account of the arguments that he made.
Q Did you get any sense from your discussions there of what the Pakistanis were looking for either from the United States or the rest of the world that might prevent them from going ahead with the test -- either words, deeds, actions, incentive, direct help, in that whole range -- what did they tell you it would take to move them away from a decision to do it?
DEPUTY SECRETARY TALBOTT: Well, they made quite clear that they didn't think there was any magic wand to be waved here, that the international community or the United States could do something that would make the problem that the Indian test has created for them go away. There was no indication that they were looking for from us or from anybody else some kind of magic bullet solution to this. They certainly didn't convey to us a wish list of things which, if we did them, they would then not test. They saw the problem in a much more both fundamental and sophisticated way than that. Although, I think it's clear that one of the things they are going to continue to look at is the attitude and the actions of the international community. But more than that I really can't say.
Q Given what's happened in India and what may happen in Pakistan, does the administration need to fundamentally revise its nonproliferation strategy? And, if so, how will that happen?
DEPUTY SECRETARY TALBOTT: I think the fundamental merits and wisdom of the administration's nonproliferation strategy globally and with regard to the South Asian subcontinent have, if anything, been vindicated by these developments. There is no question, as President Clinton noted very soon after the Indian test occurred, the test was a destabilizing development. And the question now is how to limit the damage that was done and get particularly those two very important countries on the subcontinent moving back in the same direction that much of the rest of the world is moving, and that is away from, rather than toward, reliance on nuclear weapons.
Q You said that the Pakistanis were going to be watching carefully what the world did. In the context of what the G-8 did, what is it that you think the Pakistanis were looking for? You must have something in mind, as was implicit by their reaction to what it was that the G-8 did it was inadequate from their point of view. What would have made a G-8 action adequate from the perspective of the Pakistanis?
DEPUTY SECRETARY TALBOTT: I think there are limits in any setting to how far I should go in trying to read their minds, particularly in a rapidly developing situation like this one. And insofar as I am prepared to try to do that, it won't be in this setting.
But I will tell you that the statement that has been released here, which Jim has referred to, and he's in a much more authoritative position to describe the provenance of it and the significance of it, says something quite significant. You have the eight leaders here using a very strong verb, "condemn," and also making clear that all of the eight leaders here and their governments are going to very much take what India has done into account as they calibrate their own relations with India. That seems on the face of it to be quite a significant response.
But I want to come back to my answer to the earlier question. The Pakistani leaders struck me as addressing this problem in an extremely concentrated, intensive way, and without any illusion that there are simple answers, particularly from the outside world. They see this as a problem for them as a result of their geographical position and because of the differences that exist between Pakistan and India. And I think that we'll just have to wait and see.
Q The President said earlier that he was going to work very hard to come up with an affirmative strategy to try to flip the nuclear tide back in the right direction. Can you give us a sense of how he could possibly do this, what kind of strategies was he talking about, and can you talk a little bit more about it being in the wrong direction?
DEPUTY SECRETARY TALBOTT: No, I don't want to speculate on how we are going to move forward here. We have a lot to digest. I think, as all of you know, Jim and Sandy and I and others, and the President spent a good deal of time this morning just trying to ascertain the facts. I am going to be working with my colleagues at the direction of the Secretary to move very quickly in thinking about next steps, but I wouldn't want to go any further than that. And I'd be surprised -- Jim will maybe take a crack at that himself, but I doubt if in substance he will go very much further.
Maybe one more and then back to Jim, if that's all right.
Q If they're not looking for a magic solution, they're looking at their own concerns, can you tell us a little bit more about what they're concerns are, what is going into their calculation?
DEPUTY SECRETARY TALBOTT: Well, they have a very large neighbor with whom they have had a lot of difficulties, to put it mildly, over the half century that both of these nations have existed. They've fought three wars. And that very large neighbor has just exploded a series of nuclear devices, and unlike in 1974 when they exploded what they called a "smiling Buddha", a peaceful explosive -- in this case, they have made no bones about the fact that this is a weapon. And there have been statements made from very high levels, including the highest level, making clear that this is a weapon. And Pakistan, for reasons well-known to all of you, clearly sees this as directly affecting its own national security.
President Clinton made the argument in succinct form when he met with a number of reporters after the meeting with President Yeltsin, the essence of the argument why it could -- we hope it will be the conclusion or the decision of the Pakistani government that it's not in its national interest to conduct a test here. And the essence of that is that Pakistan will demonstrate strength and self-confidence if it continues to show restraint.
But the two points I would come back to from our own mission to Islamabad is, first, they understand that argument, they gave us a fair hearing, they heard us out, they had clearly thought of it themselves; but they also have other factors that they have to weigh and they see this as their sovereign right to decide this for themselves. And we can only hope that they will take account of what they have heard from us and, indeed, from many others.
Q -- time or place for a summit?
DEPUTY SECRETARY TALBOTT: No time and place for a summit, but a clear eagerness on the part of the two Presidents that it occur.
Q But any possibility that it would happen before START II ratification?
DEPUTY SECRETARY TALBOTT: The President, himself, addressed that and he and President Yeltsin talked about that fairly briefly. There was no need for them to go into great length because they've talked about it before.
President Yeltsin and President Clinton have, going back to Denver of last year, said that they wanted their bilateral summit in 1998 to be a forward-looking summit that would have two themes in particular. One is an enhancement and a strengthening of the economic relationship between the two countries, and another is moving beyond START II to START III. The second of those agenda items will obviously be much easier to deal with in a productive and promising way if START II has been ratified.
Thanks a lot.
MR. STEINBERG: Let me just say one more about the issue of the affirmative strategy, because this was something that the eight leaders discussed at some length. And one thing they all agree on is that the most immediate priority is to get these two countries to sign the CTB as promptly as possible. But second, they also reaffirmed the basic strategy of the Nonproliferation Treaty and the overall nonproliferation regime, that they all said -- rather than calling into question, they all had the common view that this mean that there was a need to reiterate, to redouble our efforts to achieve it.
So I think there is in this sort of the basic objectives of where they want to go. There is a very strong consensus among the leaders.
Q Strobe said that this represents a vindication of the strategy. How can it be a vindication of the strategy when we have one more nuclear power and possibly -- declared nuclear power -- and possibly a second?
MR. STEINBERG: I think that's not a precise quote, but I think what he said is it vindicates the importance of the strategy, because I think all of the leaders agreed that this was something that they found very dangerous and very destabilizing, and are not prepared to sort of simply turn their backs or to tolerate or to accept the fact that other countries are going to move in that direction.
Q So you think it's important -- is there no need to rethink how you get to the goal you all agree is important?
MR. STEINBERG: Clearly, we will take into account the facts as they exist, but what is important is that they reiterated the basic objectives here, which is a strong commitment to the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, and a strong commitment to the nonproliferation regime that has been the prevailing norm since the treaty was signed 31 years ago.
Q When President Yeltsin came in today, did he tell the other leaders that it was his information that Pakistan had detonated a test?
MR. STEINBERG: There was a lot of discussion about what information people had back home from capitals. People had various reports from different places. There was a lot of checking back with capitals as to what the facts were and I think they all agreed that they wanted to make sure that they knew what the facts were before they had any reaction to it.
Q -- President kind of open that issue by --
MR. STEINBERG: Actually, a number of leaders had had reports from back home, some indicating that they had heard reports that a test had taken place, others that they hadn't heard that a test had taken place. But I'm not going to characterize the conversation in any more detail.
Q Given that India's resistance to the CTB has always been that they don't want to sign on while Russia and the United States have lots of weapons and they don't have any, is it your sense through any conversations that you've had with India that they're starting to think that if Russia and America go forward with START III that that will somehow bring them on? Is there something that you can do to -- India's resistance has always been the same thing -- is there something you can do to change that resistance?
MR. STEINBERG: Well, it's certainly true that -- it is an argument that India has made in the past. And the response that we have made in the past is to look at the progress of arms control that the United States and Russia have been pursuing and the very dramatic reduction of nuclear weapons that have taken place over the time that President Clinton has been President. And we have always argued to them in the context of the conference on disarmament and elsewhere that we are, in fact, carrying out our commitment under Article VI of the NPT to reduce nuclear weapons with the goal of eventually eliminating them.
So I think we have felt for a long time that to the extent that this is a concern of the Indians that we are addressing it. And certainly if we go forward to START III, that will be another major step along the way. And we are very much committed to continue on that downward path. We very much hope that they would see this as responsive to that concern. We hoped that even before the test took place.
Q Do you have any recent news from them that indicates that that might be a persuasive argument with them?
MR. STEINBERG: There are certainly reports from various commentators in India that continue to raise this issue. And we will continue to point out what we're trying to do. But I think that -- we feel not only because they think it would be a good thing for them, but we think it's a good thing for the world, we ought to pursue that path.
Q What did Yeltsin say that makes you believe that START II is going to be --
MR. STEINBERG: I can't improve over Strobe, because he was there and I wasn't.
Q Well, do we feel better about it after the meeting? I mean, do we really think it's going to happen this year?
MR. STEINBERG: I just can't -- I mean, I can't say any more, other than the fact that we see a number of steps being taken by President Yeltsin and people in the Duma trying to move that forward.
MR. MCCURRY: On that, I'd also refer you to the President's comments. He was encouraged by President Yeltsin's report that within the Duma there is committee consideration of aspects of the START II underway, and it is, obviously, an active legislative consideration at this point.
Q Jim, if we know the Pakistanis have nukes, if we know that they can make them fully weapons capable without testing, and if we know that they can test them without hurting anybody, what difference does it make if they go ahead and detonate one?
MR. STEINBERG: I can't necessarily accept your assumptions on any of the first three, so it's a little hard to answer the question. We believe very strongly that it is not in the interest of India, not in the interest of Pakistan, to test, nor it is in their interest to develop nuclear weapons. And so, our goal and our objective will be to make sure that this does not become a more dangerous arms raise than it might otherwise be.
The fact that we know that they have been pursuing these things is a matter of concern, which is why we have taken a number of steps, both directly with them and in our relations with other who may be dealing with them, not only to try to reduce the risk of their having a nuclear arms race, but also with respect to other weapons of mass destruction.
Q Prime Minister Blair talked about a telephone conversation that he had with Indian Prime Minister Vajpayee -- the U.S. has had a delegation in Islamabad -- what contacts have -- what government-to-government contacts have there been with New Delhi in the last couple of days?
MR. STEINBERG: You mean from us?
MR. STEINBERG: I am not aware of any high level direct contacts with India Northern Ireland the last couple of days.
MR. MCCURRY: Last question over here.
Q Since the U.S. has espoused the principle of nuclear deterrence for 50 years, how do you go to a country who has just seen its arch rival explode a nuclear weapon reasonably close to its borders, which has the capacity to do the same -- how do you go to that country and persuade them not to do what they believe is the only thing that can actually prevent them from their assured destruction by an Indian nuclear weapon at some point within the next 10 or 20 years?
MR. STEINBERG: I think that in part, because we are not prepared at this point to accept the idea that India would pursue a nuclear weapons program as a fait accompli or that India should become a nuclear weapon state, and that the best status to try to achieve is the denuclearization of the peninsula -- of the subcontinent, and that, therefore, rather than start down that road, Pakistan should work with us and the international community to create the conditions and do the things that will help India give up its program rather than to accept the fact that the program should go forward. I mean, we have always pursued a goal of trying to reduce nuclear weapons, not to increase them.
Q Jim, doesn't that sort of fly in the face of logic? I mean, you said you're not prepared to accept that they might be a nuclear state. They're saying, we are a nuclear state; deal with it; and we can make the big bomb.
MR. STEINBERG: Again, they have conducted a series of tests; that doesn't mean that they're a nuclear weapons state, nor that we need to accept that. There have been a number of countries over the past several decades which have had nuclear weapons programs, and they've all given them up. A number of countries which refuse to join the NPT in the '60s, in the '70s, in the '80s, which have now joined -- I'd point out to you that South Africa, for example, Brazil, for example, Argentina, for example, Taiwan, South Korea -- all are countries which to varying degrees were pursuing nuclear options and they gave them up.
And I think it is our very strong conviction, and the conviction of many other countries, that we should not simply shrug our shoulders and say, well, I guess they've done that, but rather to focus our efforts on persuading them that in fact their safety -- look at Ukraine. Ukraine had nuclear weapons, gave them up because it made a decision that Ukraine's security would be better pursued not by having the nuclear weapons that they had. The same is true with Kazakhstan. So there is plenty of precedent in history for countries to see their future and their destiny, and that's a path that we want to see everyone go down.
MR. MCCURRY: Let me just do real briefly, outline the rest of the President's day. He's off to Chequers, the Prime Minister's country residence, for some relaxation with the Blairs. This evening they will resume what is now -- will be the third in a series of conversations between senior American officials and senior British officials on some of the commonalities and differences that exist in the efforts by the Blair government and the Clinton administration to promulgate a dynamic, centrist political agenda aimed at addressing many of the substantive and interesting challenges we face in the post-Cold War era in a post-industrial society.
Largely put, these sessions have been opportunities for leaders on both sides to explore some of the common themes and common challenges that we face as we govern in these two modern democracies, and then also to find where some of the differences are and how each country has addressed specifically some of the issues we're addressing as we see our economies change, as we see the world change around us.
They have always been very intellectually stimulating to those who are intellectually proficient enough to participate, and beyond that I don't know what else I would want to tell you about it.
There are four large questions that they are examining during the course of the evening tonight. The first is how do we keep vibrant the tradition of internationalism in the world and in the conduct of a nation's foreign affairs. Both of these leaders being firm internationalists themselves, they're interested in making that a vigorous diplomatic and foreign policy agenda.
Second, they're talking about the challenges of the new economy -- globalization and the impact of global information and capital flows on the new economy and what that means; how do these economies address certainly themes that were well within the structure of some of the economic conversations at the G-8 yesterday.
Third, they will talk about the way in which values and the values of our two democracies inform political decision-making and policy-making as we promulgate new programs in our legislatures and as we attempt to address some of these challenges at the local level.
And, finally, they'll talk about the idea of centrism itself as the idea of a new progressivism that arise out of the center in American and British politics and how you can make that sound interesting and vibrant and not mushy. I guess that's the way I would describe that. I'm sure others would do it with more erudition.
Q Mike, who will be attending?
MR. MCCURRY: From the American side those attending will include obviously the President; the First Lady; Sylvia Mathews, the Deputy Chief of Staff; Mr. Berger, the National Security Advisor; Mr. Sperling, the National Economic Advisor; I believe Mr. Summers is attending, as he attended the first session at Chequers as well; and Melanne Verveer, who is the First Lady's Chief of Staff is attending; Paul Begala and Sidney Blumenthal, from the President's staff. And I think Vice President Gore has someone attending, too, but I didn't know who they selected finally to participate.
Q You're not?
MR. MCCURRY: I have a previous dinner engagement.
Q -- the Justice Department opening a preliminary inquiry into whether political donations influenced President Clinton's decision to --
MR. MCCURRY: I echo the President's reaction already given to that.
Q Mike, I just had a call from our Moscow correspondent who just talked to Yeltsin, who says that Clinton told him he's coming in July. So Yeltsin's saying this -- is Yeltsin misinformed?
MR. MCCURRY: That is not the case. It's not the case that the President told President Yeltsin that he's coming in July.
Q It's not the case that the President will go there in July?
MR. MCCURRY: Mr. Talbott, who was in the meeting, indicated to you and indicated to us previously that they made no decisions one way or another on future summits.
Q Did they leave it open? I mean, is it something that could change tomorrow?
MR. MCCURRY: Strobe just told you they clearly plan to get together and plan to have a summit.
Q Is July a possibility?
MR. MCCURRY: They did not make any decisions on when they would have one. And, obviously, we would repeat what we've said the in the past, that our next summit with President Yeltsin will focus on many things, but especially arms control, and the importance of ratification of START II is well understood by the Russian Federation.
Q But explicitly, there's no summit until the Duma ratifies START II?
MR. MCCURRY: Not explicitly am I drawing such a direct hard linkage -- I am saying simply this: that given the importance that arms control and START III will have at the next summit meeting between President Yeltsin and President Clinton, you can well understand the importance we attach to seeing Duma ratification of START II prior to the meeting. And that that has not happened, as you know.
Q There are reports that Mr. Hashimoto has said that Japan is contemplating further tax cuts. Do you have any sense of timing, the magnitude of those?
MR. MCCURRY: I would be remiss if I tried to speculate on what the Prime Minister might promulgate for a microeconomic policy in Japan. I think it would be better for the government itself to address that.
Our views are well-known, that we think the stimulus package they put forward is more than presentable; that it needs to be -- it needs to work in tandem with other things that we've talked about over the last two days -- banking reform, deregulation, other steps that the Japanese can take to stimulate domestic-led demand growth in their economy. And if the Prime Minister elects to promulgate future and deeper tax cuts as part of that strategy, we would, of course, want to assess our own view of what that would do for the functioning of their macroeconomy.
Q -- news about the Euro-American priorities at the U.S.-EU summit, and particularly, the Helms-Burton disagreement.
MR. MCCURRY: Well, it will be a priority to continue to address all of those things that are embraced under the umbrella of the transatlantic agenda that we have put forward. That is an exciting new effort to invigorate the transatlantic alliance. I am sure they will review the progress that's been made since our last summit on nurturing some of those institutional aspects of Euro-American cooperation.
That said, there are some differences that exist that we acknowledge freely because we do respectfully disagree sometimes, particularly when it comes to promoting democratic change in Cuba and dealing with what we think are the negative consequences of behavior by the governments of Iran and Libya. Those have been a source of some tension between the European Union and the United States, but also the source of some agreement because we have been able to our Congress that we share a common goal in every case, which is -- particularly with respect to Cuba -- promoting democratic change and market economic there, a peaceful transition away from totalitarianism; and in the case of Iran and Libya, promoting behaviors that are more conducive to a peaceful international community.
And these are objectives that our European allies share and clearly, they have wanted to be very directly engaged with us in how we will implement and enforce U.S. law in a way that does not exacerbate tensions that sometimes exist between us. That's a long way of saying we're working very hard in advance of this summit tomorrow on some of those problems, and there may be more to report tomorrow. It surely will be one aspect of a pretty loaded agenda tomorrow.
Q -- Jacques Santer, the EU President, said he expected a breakthrough on Helms-Burton, if not before tomorrow, today.
MR. MCCURRY: He's always successful at raising expectations, and I'm usually more inclined to lower them. But a lot of hard work is under way on that topic, and we'll see what we have to report tomorrow.
Q Will there be a briefing tomorrow?
MR. MCCURRY: I'm not even sure -- we'll have to post a note down at our London filing center about what our briefing program will be tomorrow for the EU Summit. I think given how quickly we depart after the press conference for Geneva, I'm inclined to try to brief on some aspects of the summit, somehow or other, during the course of the day. And we're also, if all goes well, have an advance text of the President's remarks in Geneva at the WTO event, because there will be some significant words uttered on trade, more than just a commemorative address.
So those of you who have to follow such things, I do want to steer you towards the advance text that we hope to have available in London before we depart for Geneva. I'm always reluctant to make such promises, but I just did. (Laughter.)
Q Mike, do you know if he's going to raise the issue of more investment in Northern Ireland at the WTO?
MR. MCCURRY: Yes, he will certainly talk -- as one aspect of the discussion tomorrow, the President will want to emphasize the importance of the statement here at G-8 that the Good Friday agreement forms a basis and a foundation for further economic investment and development in Northern Ireland.
I think he believes it is important to the future of Ulster that the climate created by the peace agreement will obviously present investors with more certainty about the type of climate in which they're investments can prosper. I think he will want to make that point. He will certainly want to call attention tomorrow to the presence of Commerce Secretary Bill Daley, who is scheduled to be in Northern Ireland with a delegation from the United States and very keen on investing in the people of Ireland, people who are very capable in an environment of peace to build a growing and prosperous economy.
Thank you, Mr. Bloom, and others and all of you. It's been a pleasure to be with you here today. Let me just say on behalf of the United States delegation, we thank the people of Birmingham -- Marge and all of her fellow citizens -- who have been spectacularly -- spectacularly -- hospitable. And Tara, too. (Laughter.) I only regret that I did not have the opportunity to make her acquaintance.
Q It's not too late. (Laughter.)
END 2:47 P.M. (L)