THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
PRESS BRIEFING BY MIKE MCCURRY The Briefing Room
2:10 P.M. EDT
MR. MCCURRY: Let me start off by paying tribute to Ann Compton, who as far as I know is the first person who correctly got the answer $39 billion, and to Dina Temple-Raston, who was the first to report on Bloomberg. Bloomberg broke the news even though ABC News had this. They just didn't have a venue to report this.
And I also have -- there was a question about what the administration was going to do about student loans. We're into a period going into July 1 in which correcting a problem in how current law addresses interest rates on new student loans that would occur after July 1 is in dispute with Congress. And I've got a longer posted question and response to it -- taken question last week -- which will be available to you. And my economic team, having answered all those questions --
Q Do you believe Ms. Albright is an agent of the Palestinians, as Speaker Gingrich apparently said?
MR. MCCURRY: I think it's unfortunate that the Speaker in a range of matters related to foreign policy has injected a high degree of partisanship into his comments. And his suggestion that the Secretary of State is loyal to anyone but the people of the United States of America is offensive and highly offensive.
Q Is that the President speaking?
MR. MCCURRY: That's my statement on behalf of the President's view. Now, we will try and learn more about this. The statement was reported to us as it was made by the Speaker last week in the region.
Q Do you think that some of the Democratic contingent of Gingrich's team, delegation, also should repudiate his remarks, like Gephardt?
MR. MCCURRY: Mr. Gephardt can speak for himself, and others who are on that delegation can speak for themselves.
Q Do you think it's actually having an effect on the Mideast peace process?
MR. MCCURRY: There was a fascinating story in the Wall Street Journal over the weekend that indicated that it did because it was affecting the thinking of the government of Israel. So it's hard for me to speculate.
Q You say a degree of partisanship, but why would he do it?
MR. MCCURRY: Well, I don't know why he would on a matter of utmost sensitivity when it comes to diplomacy and foreign policy, why he would inject what sounds like a discordant domestic political note. I don't know why he would do that.
Q How is that affecting Israel? You say it's affecting --
MR. MCCURRY: Well, there was a report -- I can't suggest how it is or is not affecting the government of Israel. There was an interesting report here from Israel that said that it had had some impact on the thinking of senior officials in the Israeli government.
Q Right, but besides those reports Israel now feels it can withstand any kind of pressure you guys could put on it, do you feel that this is having a negative effect on your diplomatic efforts?
MR. MCCURRY: I think it is always better as we try to coax both parties into making difficult decisions to move this process forward, it's always been best when everyone refrains from comments that make the work of the parties harder. And certainly, impromptu cheering from the sidelines when it's designed to affect some of the critical decisions that either party has to make has got to have something other than a beneficial impact on the process.
Q Do you see signs of that?
MR. MCCURRY: I'm not going to suggest that we've seen signs of that. We've certainly seen signs that the parties are finding it very difficult to make some of these decisions that allow them to move forward in the process. I mean, I think everyone has seen that.
Q Mike, it seems like less and less often the U.S. government is speaking with one voice when it comes to foreign policy, not just on this issue, but on sanctions against Russia, on policy towards China, IMF -- you can go down the line. What do you think is happening here?
MR. MCCURRY: My general view is there has been an extraordinary of politics injected into discussions about foreign policy making. I think the prime example of that would be this discussion about the controversy in recent days over the matter of Chinese satellite technology transfers, you know, the effort now endorsed by three presidents to try to expand our commerce with China, and suddenly, of late, in a way that is pretty remarkable, a total reversal of opinion by many of the people who wrote to the President encouraging him to adopt exactly this policy.
Some of the people I've heard on the floor of the House calling the President names are people who wrote to him back in 1993 encouraging him to follow the policy he's been following. So I suspect that there is politics more than anything else involved with this.
Q The policy you are talking about is a switching from State to Commerce, right?
MR. MCCURRY: No. The policy he is talking about is --we had in 1993 people wrote to the President -- well, both -- suggesting, A, that Commerce ought to be the place -- that if anyone should regulate these transactions, Commerce ought to be the place, and specific licenses ought to be given to aerospace companies that are involved in the manufacture of satellites that were going to be launched on Chinese rockets.
One of the people I heard braying the loudest on the House floor signed that letter.
MR. MCCURRY: Dana Rohrabacher -- among others. We can get you the letter if you're interested.
Q Is it correct that Congress was notified when you decided to switch the licensing from State to Commerce, but after it switched they were not informed of each separate waiver that was --
MR. MCCURRY: I don't think that is accurate. I think that each time that we went through a waiver, because it is an interagency process that involves the Pentagon and State and because they have to concur -- and interestingly one thing I want to -- don't lose sight of this either -- the license application that we're talking about, the controversial one from earlier this year, was originated by the State Department, not by the Commerce Department, because there is a dual licensing process and some of the mating technology for the satellite as it goes onto the rocket is still regulated under the State Department's munitions list. Since they are the bureaucratic custodian of some aspect of that technology, they are actually the ones that originated the license.
So the issue is not -- the transfer that somehow or other Commerce would be more lenient.
Q Every single waiver they get the --
MR. LOCKHART: -- required to notify Congress.
MR. MCCURRY: That's right. Every waiver is noticed to Congress and they would have had ample opportunities to express themselves if they thought the policy bad. What I'm suggesting is if there is a new -- a dispute about the policy and the utility of this policy, then let's have a good, full-throated policy debate, but let's hold accountable those who are clearly flip-flopping and taking a new position.
Q But, Mike, the problem is not the policy so much as the accusation or suspicion -- not accusation -- that there was money involved that influenced the President.
MR. MCCURRY: Well, there wasn't.
Q You've said that. He's said that.
MR. MCCURRY: There wasn't, Sam. So the issue is -- the issue is, is this a dispute about policy that is masquerading as a political controversy, or is it just politics --
Q You cite Reagan and Bush to try to make the case, when in fact the accusation is that the President may have been influenced by campaign money.
MR. MCCURRY: Well, everyone in this process has indicated that is not the case, and we have given you the documentation that shows you exactly the grounds upon which the decision was made.
Q But that's what these two committees, the one ad hoc and the one on the Senate side, are going to investigate.
MR. MCCURRY: Well, then it will be a short investigation and they can wrap it up in due course.
Q The other thing that the Republicans say is that while they were for the waivers, they wouldn't have supported a waiver when the Department of Justice was saying -- was raising reservations Loral was under investigation for giving this report --
MR. MCCURRY: When we asked them, took the extra precautionary step of asking the Justice Department, and they raised their concerns there about the prospect of future litigation, not about the merits of the underlying transfer. It was about what the transfer would say to a jury if they ever attempted to litigate this as a matter of criminal law in a court, which is a different question. That's not an issue that -- I don't know how that relates to what a legal strategy might be that the Justice Department would pursue, not to the fundamentals of the transfer.
Q It says it gets in the way of their investigation, because ultimately it gets in the way of their prosecution.
MR. MCCURRY: It doesn't get in their way of investigating anything. The issue of concern that was raised, as I understand it, was how it might be used by Defense if there was ever any reason to bring any charges against the company under investigation, which is a different matter.
Q But in any event, it was -- they raised concern. So why go ahead with the waiting?
MR. MCCURRY: If that's the narrowness of the issue that is of dispute, then that should be looked at, investigated promptly, and resolved to everyone's satisfaction. But the comments and the criticism that I've heard emanating from Congress goes well beyond that; it goes to the utility of the policy and the wisdom of the transfers of technology. And that's a different question. And my suggestion to you is that there have people who manifestly changed their position. And they've not cited that particular concern as the sole reason for changing their position.
Q If the President had known that the campaign -- any campaign contributions had come via Chinese military, would he have accepted it?
MR. MCCURRY: I think if he had known of that, he would have asked that someone investigate it promptly, because that would be a violation of law. So obviously not.
Q In that vein, is he concerned about the fact that he actually met with this woman, Liu Chaoying, and had his picture taken with her?
MR. MCCURRY: It's been known for 18 months now that we had lax procedures for vetting at these fundraisers. We've acknowledged that a long time ago and put into place new policies. There's nothing new or extraordinary about the fact that some people made it into fundraisers who should not have been there to begin with.
Q Mike, will these waivers enable the United States to export more sophisticated, more state-of-the-art material than waivers granted under the Reagan or Bush administration?
MR. MCCURRY: No. It's the same provision of law, is my understanding, that allow license waivers to be granted for whatever the technology is. Now, presumably, the technology in the intervening years has improved, but that's only because the capability of commercial communication satellites generally has improved.
Q It's not possible that more sophisticated state-of-the-art material went to China this time around?
MR. MCCURRY: You're not getting my point, maybe. The satellites that are being launched are state-of-the-art satellites because that's the way good U.S. companies make them to be. They are protected, and that technology of that satellite is protected and then closed before they're launched.
I think the concern is, is there anything done that enhances the rocket launch capacity of the Chinese and there are guidelines and safeguards built around each of these satellite transactions to prevent that from occurring.
Q I thought the rule was that --
Q That's what Justice is looking into, the 200-page report.
MR. MCCURRY: Justice is looking into whether -- nothing that the United States government did, but whether something independently one of the private enterprises undertook to do is a violation.
Q It's looking into whether Loral, in giving the 200-page report, actually went beyond simply confirming?
MR. MCCURRY: I would prefer to let the Justice Department say what they are looking to, but that is my understanding from press accounts, yes. But that -- understand that that, whatever they are looking into, is nothing that derives from a decision related to these waivers or to the transfer of the satellite for launch. It goes more to the question of what was the capacity of the rocket and whether or not private enterprise did anything to help the rocket become more effective.
Q It is my understanding that a country that could be an adversary of ours is not supposed to get material as sensitive, as sophisticated, as the U.S. armed forces has. And that in this case, that might have happened.
MR. MCCURRY: It would be more accurate to say that we protect rigorously technologies that will have any military application for other countries, and that is regulated by the Pentagon, the State Department, on the so-called munitions list. And then other technologies that fall in the so-called dual use categories, which are regulated by the Commerce Department, are also treated with a high degree of regulatory review so that we don't inadvertently transfer technology. And all of that is the case with the transactions we're talking about, and all of them were held to that meticulous level of review.
Q Mike, it's reported out of Mexico City today that the President admitted to Mexico that American agents acted improperly in a money laundering sting that netted some Mexican bankers.
MR. MCCURRY: Let me say what the President -- you recall, I did tell you about the President's conversation with President Zedillo on Friday. They discussed two things: first, and very importantly to the citizens of the southwest and southeast United States, the forest fires that are burning in Central America and Mexico, which have caused so much trouble for citizens of our country, but then they also talked about Operation Casablanca.
President Zedillo, as I told you Friday, expressed the concerns that the Mexican government has already made public. President Clinton expressed regret that better prior consultation had not been possible in this case. They both agreed that the U.S.-Mexico counter-drug partnership is vital to success against the shared threat that people in both Mexico and the United States face, and mainly for that reason both of them can pledge that we would continue our mutual effort to counter drug trafficking.
Q What about the story that was in the Post the day before today that we are training agents -- sorry, whatever the day was -- that we are training people in South America to go to Colombia. That is not legal.
MR. MCCURRY: You know, I have not looked into that and I'll ask the NSC staff to help me on that.
COLONEL CROWLEY: It's JCET training for U.S. forces in conjunction with Colombian units on drug traffic.
MR. MCCURRY: The argument in general that has been made on the JCET program is that derives to the enhancement of our military capabilities. This does not render additional training or expertise to the host government -- in a nutshell.
Q But we are operating in Colombia?
MR. MCCURRY: We are operating lots of different places in theater, but specifically we'll get some more on that.
Q Mike, did the President tell Zedillo that --
Q Is the Democratic Party's victory in the Hong Kong vote on Sunday a sign that democracy will continue, or are you concerned that it will spark problems with China?
MR. MCCURRY: First of all, we congratulate the people of Hong Kong for their participation in record numbers in elections this past week that chose members of the LEGCO, the legislative council. Obviously we congratulate the winning candidates as well.
The results of the election shows that Hong Kong's people want more, not less, democracy, and care deeply about protection of their fundamental rights. We obviously stand with them in these beliefs and will continue through the efforts we make with the People's Republic to reinforce our strong beliefs about democratic institutions, the deepening of democratic processes, and the meaning they have to the current residents of Hong Kong.
Democracy and democratic elections are critical components in assuring that Hong Kong remains a free and dynamic society serving the interests of 6 million people, and serving the interests of a world that has profited from the commerce in goods and services with Hong Kong that we've enjoyed for many years.
Q Have you made any overtures to the Chinese authorities to try to move the welcoming ceremonies from Tiananmen Square? Have you discussed that at all?
MR. MCCURRY: Not that I'm aware of, but in advance of any state visit there will be umpteen protocol decisions, and those usually occur between protocol officers and go up right to the last minute.
Q Do you see it as a problem? Do you concede that this is a problem? The Republicans are saying it sends the wrong signal.
MR. MCCURRY: Again, this is a question of policy. We have elected to be constructively engaged with China. We think that that has produced results. It has especially produced results in the area of human rights. I would not confuse a protocol issue with our policy here.
When the President of the United States goes to China, he's going to press the leadership of the People's Republic to make further progress in the issue of human rights. Now, that's the substantive focus of his remarks.
Q Mike, last week you were saying that the only way to proceed with the state visit was in Tiananmen Square. Now you seem to be saying that it's open to discussion.
MR. MCCURRY: No, Scott, I made some point of geography, not policy. I said that if you want to visit the Chinese leadership in the Great Hall where they meet with visiting foreigners, you have to go through Tiananmen Square. There's no other way that I know of that you can get to the Great Hall without going through Tiananmen Square.
Q Is there internal debate on this?
MR. MCCURRY: Internal debate? Not that I'm aware of.
Q Mike, I'm sorry. I don't think I quite got an answer to the question. It seemed last week you were saying flatly that Tiananmen Square was on, it was the only way to proceed. Are you saying now that that may not be the case?
MR. MCCURRY: I haven't seen the final schedule visit. I assume that as with every other visit that you have, there will be some kind of welcome arrival in Tiananmen Square or at the Great Hall. That's the way they do it.
Q But it may -- the President may not get his welcoming at Tiananmen Square?
MR. MCCURRY: You should direct that question to the government of the People's Republic. That's the way, if we were being asked by foreign countries about the pending arrival of a foreign visitor here, the State Department or somebody in our protocol office would answer it. So I'll direct you to our equivalents over there.
Q Do you know if President Reagan and President Bush were received in Tiananmen Square when they visited Beijing?
MR. MCCURRY: I believe so, but I would have to check to make absolutely sure.
Q Is the United States seeking another way with the Chinese government?
MR. MCCURRY: I'm sure we will have protocol discussions with them, but I doubt that we will find any way to get to the Great Hall other than going through Tiananmen Square.
Q But is there concern about a welcoming ceremony in Tiananmen Square versus -- wouldn't you think it was better at the airport?
MR. MCCURRY: Look, we're interested in a visit that goes smoothly and that reinforces the value of close relations between our two countries. One of the aspects of good relations and good visits and visits that enhance productive bilateral relations is good protocol. So we'll leave it to good protocol people to work out questions, and I'll address matters of policy.
Q Mike, what about the substance like the kind of carrot to get them to do more nonproliferation like the NASA satellite deal and things like that. Are any of those things being affected by the controversy over Loral, things the President would have signed or worked out agreements --
MR. MCCURRY: There are a lot of different things that go into the working aspects of this relationship that we'll be working out right up until the time of the visit. Whether or not some of them get affected by these controversies is hard to say. It's hard to imagine that some of them won't be.
Q Gerry Adams is dropping by for talks with Steinberg on Friday. Is there any possibility that the President will do a drop-by on that?
MR. MCCURRY: I'll check and see. I have not heard anything that would lead me to believe for certain that he'll do that.
Q And what is the thinking now on a trip to Belfast?
MR. MCCURRY: Not anything that's contemplated anytime soon, that I'm aware.
Q Anything new on Moscow?
MR. MCCURRY: Nothing new on that.
Q The environmental working group released a report on cancer-causing pesticides in children and it concluded that the Clinton-Gore administration has strongly favored the interest of pesticide companies over children, that children and the rest of the population are no better off today than they were five years ago, that pesticides are increasing. Is it true that the administration, the Clinton-Gore administration has favored pesticide companies over children on these issues?
MR. MCCURRY: I imagine that there are plenty of people in our government who will strongly dispute that. I'm not aware of the report. I'll have to contact the people who are more expert on the matter and get a reaction.
Q Mike, the Mexican government is saying some of the agents involved in Operation Casablanca broke Mexican law, and they're going to try to apply Mexican law to them.
MR. MCCURRY: I had not heard that, am not aware of that, but we will continue to work cooperatively with the government of Mexico to address our concerns about drug trafficking.
Q Wasn't there a fear that there would be leaks, because we have accused a lot of their authorities in the past of not exactly playing ball with --
MR. MCCURRY: We work closely and cooperatively with the government of Mexico to address our common concerns about drug trafficking.
Q Did Secretary Rubin meet with the Chinese delegation today?
MR. MCCURRY: He did and the Treasury has briefed on that.
Q Can you tell us anything?
MR. MCCURRY: I don't have any details on it, but they briefed reporters who are following that, and I think have had a couple of photo ops and things.
Q The welfare-to-work event tomorrow, the welfare event tomorrow?
MR. MCCURRY: There's a welfare-to- work event tomorrow that will note the progress we've made in encouraging private sector employers to provide opportunities for people who are moving away from welfare dependency and into work situations. And it will be good news again about the progress we're making.
Q Mike, there was a number that the White House officials wanted to set with hiring some welfare persons, and they said after that number they were going to hire more. Is there a larger number than originally stated of persons who were on welfare that are working --
MR. MCCURRY: I'll have to check. I know that we have made good on the commitment that the White House wanted to make in terms of our effort to be a part of the government's effort to make this transition happen, but I'll see if we've been able to go beyond it.
MR. TOIV: We're a little beyond it.
Q Mike, did the President meet with Bernie Schwartz prior to the waiver being issued for the Loral satellite?
MR. MCCURRY: I assume so. He was such a prominent supporter of the Democratic Party that the President would have run into, or had occasion to run into him any number of times over the last five and a half years. But you could ask Mr. Kennedy specifically whether they've --
Q In such a meeting, would it have been likely that Mr. Schwartz, since he has said that he wanted to talk to Sandy Berger about the desire to get this waiver, would he likely have pressed the case with the President?
MR. MCCURRY: If I'm not mistaken, he made it quite clear yesterday when asked that, that he's never discussed this matter with the President. And I have nothing that would indicate to me the President has ever discussed it with him.
Q Mike, what would the administration's position be on making public these kinds of waiver requests or licensing requests so that they would be a matter of public record?
MR. MCCURRY: We did on Friday. We did on Friday.
Q In a real-time kind of approach?
MR. MCCURRY: I think we do make these waiver requests -- I'll tell you -- I can tell you from my time at the State Department, these were always very visible transactions that usually became a public part of our effort to engage the People's Republic diplomatically, and I can't think of a one that has occurred during the life of this administration that hasn't been discussed in one fashion or another publicly. I think they were all highly transparent at the time they occurred, because it was a matter of enormous concern to hundreds of thousands of people who worked to make these satellites. There are jobs and lives of Americans that are on the line.
That's why so many members of Congress wrote the administration repeatedly, almost insisting that we make these -- we help these transactions occur, and even transfer the jurisdiction of satellite regulation from State to Commerce.
Q Has the President ever turned one down?
MR. MCCURRY: We have not acted as rapidly on some as some of the companies involved would have liked. And I'd have to check and see; I think that it is possible some transactions have not occurred in a way that they were originally applied for.
Q On what basis would they be rejected?
MR. MCCURRY: The law and as it's required in the Export Act.
Q Mike, are you suggesting that the satellites wouldn't be built and these people would be unemployed if they weren't boosted on Chinese rockets?
MR. MCCURRY: No, if the capacity to have -- the launch capacity is not there, others gain a competitive advantage by having them launched by European rockets. There are others who are in this business -- if you cannot get a timely waiver because of the strict U.S. law that governs these, then other competitors, other manufacturers of communication satellites gain an advantage, which is precisely the argument that many members of Congress made to us in support of the transaction waiver request that we received. And they're good arguments. I'm not suggesting there's anything wrong with that argument.
Q Why is it, Mike, that the satellites aren't simply launched by someone else's rockets, the U.S. satellites not simply launched by European rockets?
MR. MCCURRY: They are. The point is that they are and our export law makes a lower cost launch by the Chinese rocket less available because of the stringent safeguards and guidelines that exist. Russia does it.
Q Russia, Ukraine, France --
MR. MCCURRY: Russia, Ukraine, France, China --
Q But our concern, I would presume, would be the U.S. satellite manufacturers.
MR. MCCURRY: Right. And the economics of getting one of these in the air, the service that the satellite manufacturer can promise to a vendor or a person who's going to use the satellite, the cost that they will have to charge in order to get the satellite into orbit, the economics of making this technology, communications technology available is all affected by what the underlying regulatory structure is for each of these transactions.
And in a climate in which a manufacturer can operate with no certainty that there is going to be any type of transaction waiver, the economics of the deal are affected. If you had listened to Mr. Schwartz yesterday, one of the things he said since there was no opposition to the license waiver itself, the concern was that by not being able to provide any certainty of timing, that the transaction costs were rising and that the underlying effect of the delay in the decision would be to make them less than competitive in making the satellite service available.
Q Mike humanitarian flights to Cuba are starting today, I understand, from Florida?
MR. MCCURRY: Under the new Treasury Department license waivers? I was not aware of that. But our interest there is in the provision of humanitarian goods and services because of our concerns for the people of Cuba who are suffering.
Q Does the administration have any response to the Supreme Court decision on Ellis Island?
MR. MCCURRY: No, other than my understanding is that this is a position that the Solicitor General had argued, much as did the Court Master in this case and the Supreme Court upheld the reasoning and analysis of the Court Master.
Q Mike, on the China waiver, can you confirm or deny Republican claims that because of this, 13 Chinese ICBMs are now targeted with nuclear warheads against American cities?
MR. MCCURRY: Again, if I'm not mistaken -- we're not talking about intelligence, which I can't talk about -- I think the Chinese have had the ability since the early 1980s to target ICBMs on the continental United States. There's nothing new about that. I'm not aware of anything that would suggest that they've enhanced their ability to do so, and we strictly prohibit the transfer of technologies that would allow them to in any way improve their rocket launch capacity or the parameters of their rocket program, for that reason.
Now, there is an investigation, as anyone would quickly point out, into something that another company did that may have inadvertently enhanced technology, but there has been no judgment made one way or another that I'm aware of that that did happen.
Q Are there any American ICBMs aimed at China?
MR. MCCURRY: But my point is that there are plenty of people who are now very quick to make outrageous charges like that before they have any facts.
Q Mike, I think you just suggested that the transfer of information from Loral to the Chinese government was inadvertent? Is that the administration's position?
MR. MCCURRY: We don't have a position on it. Whether or not -- that's what the company has indicated, that nothing happened that transferred. The Justice Department is investigating it. I'm not going to comment one way or another because Justice is looking into it.
Q What's the status of the Justice Department criminal investigation of Loral?
MR. MCCURRY: You would have to ask the Justice Department.
Q Mike, as a result of all of this controversy, has the President asked anyone at the NSC or State to do anything differently in getting the information to him as he makes decisions on waivers?
MR. MCCURRY: He's following this matter closely because it's been very much in the news. And as you'd expect, he's getting regularly updated information as it's available to him.
Q For future waivers, is there anything different about the process?
MR. MCCURRY: The process is defined by law; it's not a political decision about how you consider an application. An application is made to one of the two relevant agencies, State or Commerce, and they have, you know, a whole process under law by which they review the transaction.
Q But the documents that we all looked at on Friday clearly indicate that the process is very much oriented to what kind of information needs to go to the President. What I'm asking is, is he asking that the information that comes to him be presented in a different way?
MR. MCCURRY: I'll have to check and see. I'm not aware that there is any pending license transaction. I'm not aware that there is any license application pending, but if there is, I'll see if that is leading to any change in the way in which it might be considered.
Q Last week, Robert Reich, the former Secretary of Labor, wrote an op-ed piece in the L.A. Times arguing that the mega-mergers of big corporations and corporate consolidation poses a threat, not just to competition but also to democracy. Is it the White House's view that mega-corporations pose a threat to democracy?
MR. MCCURRY: No, the President has addressed that. We are guided in the administration by the general parameters that the President set out not long ago in the Oval Office. Mr. Sperling has been pursuing the matter, and you might want to follow up with him on that.
Q Might the President raise the issue of Chinese missile targeted at the United States when he goes to China?
MR. MCCURRY: Look, the general question of missile technologies and proliferation is something we do raise. As a matter of arms control policy, we have had discussions with the Chinese government about ways in which we could limit doctrines and policies that are sometimes threatening. That's why, as you know, we've negotiated with the Russian government a de-targeting agreement. It's no secret that we've had some interest in pursuing a similar kind of de-targeting agreement with the People's Republic. They have arms control issues they bring to the agenda that they're interested in.
We have -- one of the values and one of the reasons why we engage with the People's Republic and don't go hauling off and cancelling summits and having what I described the other day as a knee-jerk reaction to headlines is so that we can engage with them on these issues and do the careful, painstaking work of protecting our national security interests. It is one of the values of having a dialogue with them, is that you can talk through problems like this without succumbing to whatever the temptation is to make politics out of these matters.
Q So there is no concern then that the Chinese have pointed their missiles at us? The President made such a point of Moscow and U.S. no longer --
MR. MCCURRY: Of course it is of concern. They have been pointed at us since the 1980s, Helen. And there is nothing new about that, so we should not be shocked at the fact that they've got an ICBM capacity.
What we are interested in doing is seeing what we can do together to, one, make sure that they have no belligerency with respect to the United States.
Two, that we are in a position to understand everything that we need to understand about the nature and capacity of their programs so that we can, through dialogue with them, have ways that we de-escalate tensions that exist. That is why we pursue the kind of non-proliferation battle that we have with the Chinese government.
Three, is it good to remember what would happen in a climate in which we were snubbing them diplomatically, expressing ourselves in ways that countries that are trying to work together normally don't express themselves. All of this kind of dialogue would be harder, and whatever tension and hostility and concern we have about whatever their rocket program can and cannot do would escalate rather than de-escalate.
Q So are you saying it's only through persuasion and friendly conversation here that we are deterring the --
MR. MCCURRY: And deterrents. We have a pretty significant security presence in the Asia-Pacific region. And it is well that we do that. In fact, a lot of our close friends and allies in that region expect it.
Q The World Bank was supposed to be taking up the question of loans to India today, but there was some discussion that might be set aside so there wasn't a big argument between the developing and developed nations. What is your expectation there? What do you want to happen?
MR. MCCURRY: Our expectation is that people are listening very carefully to the arguments that we are advancing, that we said we would advance about the reasons why multilateral lending through international financial institutions to the Government of India at a time when they have taken this step contrary to the interest of the world community is something that ought to be questioned. That argument is being made and other governments that sit on the board of the World Bank are listening carefully.
Q If that matter is set aside today would the United States be disappointed if it is not brought up and that the loan --
MR. MCCURRY: I think to the contrary, if there were some delay today in multilateral lending to the government of India because of concern about the recent nuclear tests by the government of India, I think that would be an expression of the world community's dissatisfaction with current events.
Q -- a copy of the picture of the President with Liu Chaoying? And if so, would the White House release it?
MR. MCCURRY: I don't know whether we have or not. If it exists, it's probably under someone's document request for subpoena, so you have to check with those who got it.
THE PRESS: Thank you.
END 2:45 P.M. EDT