THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary (New York, New York) ________________________________________________________________________ For Immediate Release September 21, 1998
PRESS BRIEFING BY NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISOR SANDY BERGER Marriott Eastside New York, New York
3:09 P.M. EDT
MR. LEAVY: Good afternoon. We have the National Security Advisor here, Sandy Berger, to give a readout of the President's day, his meeting with Secretary General Annan, Prime Minister Sharif. After Sandy briefs, Mike will come up and answer any other questions you may have.
MR. BERGER: Good afternoon. I want to do three or four things: talk a bit about the speech, and specifically give you some more information about the reference the President made in the speech to an emergency supplemental the President intends to submit to the Congress later this week on security, give you a readout of the Sharif meeting, and then a very brief readout of the meetings that he had with the Secretary General.
You've seen and read the speech; I will not repeat it. But let me simply emphasize the five or six points I think the President wanted to emphasize. He has addressed the question of terrorism for the American people and the international community on a number of occasions, I think most recently at the Naval Academy at their commencement. Those speeches have been quite concrete, quite specific, the steps that we need to take as an international community to deal with this increasing phenomenon. I think what the President wanted to do today was to talk more broadly about the phenomenon of terrorism and make several points.
First, that this is a universal problem, not just an American problem. We're all obviously focused on the terrible tragedy in Africa and the incidents that have been directed here and against Americans, whether it's in the World Trade Center or going back to Lockerbie and other incidents involving Americans. But what the President made very clear today to the assembled group was that this is a collective problem, that no one is immune from the pernicious affect of terror.
Second, I think the President wanted very clearly to de-legitimize terrorism, to make very clear that terrorism is not a form of legitimate political expression, that it's not an acceptable reflection of grievances, that it's not a legitimate response to deprivation; that it is, as he said, murder pure and simple.
But at the same time, as the President made very clear that we needed collectively to reject terror in all of its forms, he also recognized that we have to deal with the conditions in which frustration and desperation are bred.
Fourth, the President talked very specifically about the arguments some make, the kind of overhang on the terrorism discussion, that this is somehow a clash of civilizations, that this is somehow a division between Western values and Western power and the Islamic world. And I think this is a theme the President has talked about on many occasions in the past, perhaps not at any time quite so extensively: acknowledging our deep respect for Islam, it's growth in the world, it's importance as a religion, as a cultural religion, its importance to the United States with 6 million practitioners of Islam. But that as he said, the Almighty does not confer licenses to kill, and those who cloak themselves in the rhetoric or legitimacy of religion, no matter what that may be, are false prophets or false perpetrators.
Finally, the President talked about the common agenda that we need to work on together to fight this problem, denying safe havens to terrorists and pressuring states that do; trying to cut off the financial flows to terrorist groups; making the Biological Weapons Convention tougher, as we're seeking to do; ratifying the Chemical Weapons Convention and getting it approved, as we hope to do in the Congress; and joining together on common law enforcement as we are doing in the Nairobi/Dar bombings and elsewhere.
I think, over all, what you've seen in the last several years is the President seeking to elevate to the top of the security agenda the issues that heretofore have been seen in a narrower context. Whether that's drugs, or in this case terror, these are the new transnational threats that we have to see as the great security challenges of the next 20 years.
Now, the President made reference in his remarks to steps we would be taking to intensify and to strengthen both our ability to protect our people abroad against terrorism as well as our ability to fight terrorism. Later this week the President will submit to the Congress an emergency supplemental in the amount of $1.8 billion to renew and expand the fight against terrorism. And this supplemental -- and there will be a fact sheet available at some point when I'm finished -- will both have defensive, protective measures, as well as beefing up our offensive capacity to prevent and to find terrorists after the fact.
Funding will be used to rebuild our embassies in Nairobi, Kenya, and Dar; to improve security for facilities serving American personnel worldwide; to strengthen the fight to prevent terrorism, as I said, both at home and abroad, both in the law enforcement area and in the intelligence area.
More specifically, the President will request the bulk of this money will be for money for the Department of State for emergency expenses in connection with Kenya and Tanzania, including funds to reconstitute our embassy activities there and for security improvements. That's number one.
Number two, as part of this effort, will be funding to improve security of our American facilities worldwide. This is an emergency supplemental; this will not solve all of the problems that we have. But we've looked at the most serious problems and these are the ones that we need to address on an emergency basis.
The Defense Department will be reimbursed for costs associated with the immediate response that they provided to the Kenya and Tanzania bombings. The Department of Treasury will receive funding for increased Secret Service protection that has become necessary as a result of this intensified fight against terrorism. Seventy million dollars for international security assistance -- that's anti-terrorism funds in the Department of State. The FBI will receive funding to intensify its substantial efforts in this fashion, as well as money for the National Park Service for the same purpose -- also elements of the package that will be classified. And I'll answer questions, if you have, about that.
Let me give you a quick readout on the -- I think the key bilateral of today, which was the meeting with Prime Minister Sharif from Pakistan. The Prime Minister began the meeting by saying to the President that he was extraordinarily pleased by the reception that the President had received at the UNGA when he came in to speak. He said, "It reflects the love and respect the international community feels for you."
The conversation focused very much on nonproliferation issues. The Prime Minister indicated that he will have a positive statement to make with respect to the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty when he speaks at the General Assembly later this week.
As you know, we have been engaged in a very intensive discussion with both the government of India and the government of Pakistan on a series of nonproliferation issues which are important to get us back on the nonproliferation track after the nuclear explosions in India and Pakistan. One of the critical issues has been adherence to the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty and I believe, based on the Prime Minister's statement, he will have something to say about that on Wednesday.
He thanked the President very much for the time and attention he has devoted to this issue. I think they've spoken six or eight times in the past several months. He indicated that these are very difficult issues for Pakistan, given the security environment as they perceive it, and that obviously he seeks from the United States continued help in dealing with the security concerns that they perceive, including, most importantly, the problem in Kashmir. They talked about Kashmir and the Kashmir problem, the President indicating that there was a willingness on the part of the United States to try to be helpful, but that the government of India has taken the position consistently that this is not a matter for outside mediation or outside participation.
The Prime Minister and the President agreed that they would have their teams -- our team led by Deputy Secretary Talbott -- continue to work on the other nonproliferation issues which we have given priority to, relating to a collective moratorium on the production of fissile materials, restraints on missile deployments, and restraints on export controls.
The Prime Minister made very clear the difficult economic circumstances in Pakistan, the adverse impact, in his judgment, that the sanctions are having on Pakistan, and his hope that we would be able to ease or lift the sanctions. The President made clear that our capacity to do that is quite directly related to the progress we make on the nonproliferation issues.
Let me just finally touch on the bilateral with the Secretary General, which preceded the President's speech. They covered a lot of ground. They talked about Angola and the deteriorating situation there, the conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo, the meeting that will take place this week at the foreign minister level, the so-called Six Plus Two meeting, dealing with Afghanistan, that will deal with the Iranian-Afghanistan conflict.
The President talked and raised with the Secretary General the issue of Iraq and the importance of the Security Council working relentlessly to assure that its resolutions are adhered to, specifically its resolutions which call for access for UNSCOM inspectors. As that access has been restricted, in the first instance it's the Security Council that needs to assure that these resolutions of the international community are abided by.
They talked about the India-Pakistan issue, the Middle East peace process -- and this actually came up in both the meetings -- a tremendous interest in the President's speech last Monday on the international economy, a lot of gratitude to the President for addressing this issue. I think people recognize that it's not the end of the discussion but the beginning of the discussion, but the President's willingness to look at this issue in expansive terms, including institutional reform, I think is something that the international community welcomes greatly.
And I think that covers the meetings and the speech.
Q Sandy, on Pakistan, the President apparently told Sharif that he was doing his best to deal with the sanctions and noted that there is a possible presidential waiver for lifting the sanctions. What --
MR. BERGER: There is no presidential waiver. There is an amendment that has been offered by Senator Brownbeck which would give the President waiver authority for one year with respect to the Glenn Amendment. It's an amendment we support because we support in all of these sanctions regimes the capacity for the President to have discretion to use these sanctions in a way that can be most effective.
And the President said that he wanted to be helpful, that both by virtue of the test itself, by virtue of the application of the Glenn Amendment, there are requirements of U.S. law that need to be enforced. But as the Pakistanis -- and I would say the same of the Indians -- seek to deal with the various issues involved in the arms race in South Asia, we are going to be in a stronger position to try to help on the sanctions.
Q Sandy, did the President tell Sharif straight out that he would exercise this waiver? First of all, are you convinced that you will get this waiver authority from Congress? And, two, did the President tell Sharif that he would, in fact, exercise this waiver authority if Sharif signed the CTBT? And how do you see the timing --
MR. BERGER: Well, first of all, the President did not say that we were certain that we would get the -- that the Brownbeck amendment would pass both the House and the Senate, because we aren't. We support it; we will work for it.
Neither did the President give the Prime Minister any particular commitment with respect to what would happen if the Brownbeck amendment were enacted, except to say that as the government of Pakistan made steps along the path of strengthening the nonproliferation regime, we would be in a stronger position to take steps on the sanctions side.
Q When you said that he would have a positive statement to make on the CTBT on Wednesday, do you assume that he means that he's going to say that they'll sign it?
MR. BERGER: Well, I don't want to speak for the Prime Minister. He will address the issue on Wednesday, and my impression is that what he will say on this issue will be constructive.
Q Did any of the foreign leaders that saw the President today make a specific reference to the videotape that was being broadcast? And was there any point when you were with the President, did he see any of that today?
MR. BERGER: None of the leaders made any specific reference to it, and I don't believe the President saw any of it while I was with the President, up until lunch. I think the response the President got in the UNGA when he arrived and when he sat down was quite unusual. I've not seen that before in the six years that -- actually, six plus four years that I've been coming to UNGA sessions. And I think it was a sincere reflection of the feeling of the international community, as reflected in that body, that they have both affection for the President and recognize the importance of America's leadership in the world and that the President carries strong stature in the world.
Q Since this was going on simultaneously, did you see any signs that it was affecting the President, distracting the President? He's aware of this kind of odd juxtaposition of events today?
MR. BERGER: I suspect he was aware of it, Susan, yes. But in terms of the day, you know, we started this morning; we met; we extensively edited the speech again. We went right into a meeting with Kofi Annan and then with the President of the UNGA and the Foreign Minister of Uruguay, right into the speech. He came back out. He saw President Mandela. They had a very warm conversation. President Mandela was very praiseworthy of the speech and thought it was a very, very important speech; and then went back over to the U.N. mission.
The President tried to reach the Defense Minister of Japan, who, as you probably know, had an accident at the Pentagon today. I don't believe he was able to reach him -- and then back to the lunch. So he certainly is aware of what else is happening in the world, but it has not affected the day.
Q Did the President read the welcome as a response to his political troubles? Are you saying that perhaps they were extraordinarily welcoming because of that? Are you linking that?
MR. BERGER: Well, everything takes place in a context. I think the fact that -- I think none of us expected that kind of response. I had not seen it before. I think it was genuine and sincere and very strong, and the President was quite moved by it.
Q Did the President take that as a vote of confidence in his leadership abilities?
MR. BERGER: I don't want to -- I don't think it's fair to over-analyze -- I think it was an expression by the international community of the stature and regard in which he is held, their affection for him personally, and their very strong sense that American leadership -- strong American leadership continues to be essential, particularly at a time when many things are happening in the world that create great uncertainty.
Q Mr. Berger, the Secretary General gave a pretty spiked critique of the international community's response to Kosovo. He called it impotent. He said it had echoes of Bosnia and it was something that the international community had sworn would not be repeated. Do you interpret that as a call for increased engagement? Do you think it's going to lend new momentum to a U.S.-led effort to end the fighting in Kosovo?
MR. BERGER: Well, I haven't heard the speech, so I will accept your characterization of it is as accurate. If that's the case, I welcome it. And I hope that the U.N. will act very swiftly on a resolution which is pending before the Security Council, which will speak to the Kosovo issue in strong terms, and I hope will make it easier for NATO then to feel that it has the mandate to take any action it deems necessary unless the fighting stops in Kosovo.
Q Regarding the speech, given the way international terrorists tend to operate in the shadows and specifically in countries where institutions for law enforcement, et cetera, are not well established, even if he were to get international cooperation, is it still not going to be very difficult to stop people like Usama bin Ladin and those kind of well-financed terrorists?
MR. BERGER: Well, I think with someone like bin Ladin you're dealing with a new phenomenon, you're dealing with stateless terrorism. I mean, when you have state terrorism at least you have a state to act against. That state has lots of things that it values and lots of things that one can go against in retaliation.
This is a network that exists in many parts of the world that has both loose and tight affiliations, but all centers around bin Ladin. But I think there is a growing sense, even since Africa, that this has to be acted on in a concerted and strong fashion. We have had quite good cooperation in arresting a number of people affiliated with bin Ladin. In other situations we've had quite good luck in recent days in going after bin Ladin cells in other countries. And I think it is a very difficult target, but I know one thing, and that is that if we're not aggressive and proactive it certainly will not disappear, it will only get worse.
Q Are you at all -- were you encouraged to make this speech or to make these proposals as the result of enhanced cooperation in the last four or five weeks since --
MR. BERGER: Well, I think terrorism has been -- as I said, I think one of the things the President has done over the last four or five years -- I would say one of the central elements of our foreign policy and one of the things he has succeeded in doing is elevating these new transnational issues -- for example, drugs or international crime or terrorism -- to be not just law enforcement and domestic issues, but be national security and foreign policy and international issues. So this has been an effort going on for some time.
Obviously, the fact that we were attacked in Africa on August 7th has intensified our effort. But as the President laid out today very carefully and very deliberately, this is not just an American problem. If you are in any part of the world -- if you're in Algeria, if you're in Egypt, if you're in Europe, if you're in Argentina -- countries increasingly are being victimized by this and they have to begin to see that this is something they have to work more closely on together. And I think that cooperation is increasing, but I think we need to do more.
Q Sandy, on the emergency supplemental, what is the increased funding for Secret Service that you mentioned? Is that for the protection of the President?
MR. BERGER: It is for extra demands that have been placed on the Secret Service in connection with the current threat. I'm not going to go beyond that, for obvious reasons.
Q The supplemental is for what dates, Sandy? It runs from when?
MR. BERGER: Well, we would hope that it would be -- I should say we have done this with very close consultation and cooperation with the congressional leadership of both parties, with the appropriators of both parties. That's not to say there's agreement on all aspects of this, but there has been a high degree of discussion already that has taken place on this. This would be an FY98 emergency supplemental.
Q How much?
MR. BERGER: $1.8 billion.
Q Do you have any assurances the Republicans won't try to marry it with tax cuts so the President would agree to that amount of money? And on a separate money question, did the President bring up with Kofi Annan anything about the arrears, U.N. arrears?
MR. BERGER: Well, I would hope on the first question that they would not. We have a lot of embassies in the world, to take example, that are not as secure as one would like them to be. And what this supplemental does in part is to focus on those embassies and say, we need to do some things right away to protect our people who are working abroad. It identifies certain law enforcement and intelligence and other areas where we know if we have some more resources we can get some more results.
So I believe this is overwhelmingly in the national interest. I believe that the leadership of the Congress -- I've spoken to them myself on this; the President has spoken to the Majority Leader, the Speaker, as well as the Minority Leader of the House and Senator Daschle, some of the appropriators -- I believe there's a common view that we ought to act on this on the basis of the clear and compelling national interest.
On the arrears issue, it not surprisingly did come up. The President raised it with the Secretary General. The President said, as he has unfortunately in the past few years, that this remains a logjam on this issue; that we will continue to try our best to get this done. I sincerely hope that -- as you all know, this is entangled with an issue of an abortion issue. These are two extremely important issues on which there are strong feelings on both sides. And both are entitled to be debated and voted upon on their individual merits, and we are prepared to have a vote on Mexico City and we're prepared to have a vote on U.N. arrears and IMF money. But to make one hostage to the other is to do a great disservice, in my judgment, to an institution that is doing a great deal of good and which the American people overwhelmingly support -- that is, the United Nations.
Q Sandy, is it possible that the Pakistanis' announcement on a test ban treaty later in the week could have an effect on whether the President visits Pakistan this year?
MR. BERGER: We've not made a decision on a visit. There have been a number of issues that we have raised the Pakistanis and the Indians in the nonproliferation area -- CTBT being one. I think we'll have to evaluate as we get towards the end of the month, before the end of the month, exactly where we are in those discussions and decide whether, in a sense, we're over the bar and we can go, or whether there are other ways that we continue the dialogue.
Q Sandy, what's the purpose of calling for greater international cooperation on terrorism when earlier this year at the G-8 you talked about terrorism extensively in Birmingham, and then with the Africa bombings, the U.S. unilaterally made the decision to strike Afghanistan and Sudan, and one of your G-8 partners severely criticized the decision? Is the purpose just to repeat and repeat the message on terrorism with the hope that some day there will be cooperation?
MR. BERGER: Well, first of all, I think saying something twice doesn't necessarily make it redundant. That is, I think when things are important, sometimes you have to speak to them frequently as you raise people's awareness of the problem. So the fact the President has previously addressed this question I think hardly is a reason for him not to address it again.
In terms of multilateralism and unilateralism, it is true for every issue that there is a multilateral dimension and a unilateral dimension. The President has said often, we work together with other nations where possible, but we're prepared to act alone when necessary. There is a huge amount of this terrorism issue when it comes to safe havens, when it comes to moving money around, when it comes to sharing information about intelligence and law enforcement, that inherently, intrinsically is multilateral. But when Americans are killed by terrorists in Africa, the United States is not going to seek permission from other countries to respond.
Q Do you consider this meeting with Sharif to be a breakthrough or progress in any way, or is it pretty much -- it sounds like it's pretty much as you expected.
MR. BERGER: I think we've made some progress with the government of Pakistan on these issues. I think there are still a lot of areas we need to work on in the nonproliferation area. I should make clear that our relationship with Pakistan and with India is not only about nonproliferation. These are two important countries. They represent, together, about a quarter of the world's population. India is the largest democracy in the world. Pakistan is a traditional friend of the United States.
One of the things the President very much wanted to do in his -- particularly in this term, is to improve our relationship with India and Pakistan, and I think one of the reasons why the testing was such a disappointment to him was that it impedes our capacity to really have a different kind of post-Cold War relationship with India and Pakistan that are not totally defined by India's relationship with Russia or Pakistan's relationship with Afghanistan or China.
So these are countries that are important in their own right, but there right now is a large boulder in the road here, after the tests. We need to make good progress on nonproliferation so that we can continue on the road of improving our overall relationship.
Q Sandy, why does the United States feel it's necessary to get the approval of the Security Council when that opens us up to a veto from Russia on Kosovo, when we already have been moving things along through NATO?
MR. BERGER: We don't. Our view is that we do not need further action from the Security Council in order for NATO to take action in Kosovo. Some of our allies would like to see further action in the Security Council. And I think our hope here is that sometime this week or early next week we can have a resolution which will pass the Security Council and which will provide the basis that our NATO allies need to be able to have a credible threat of force to use in Kosovo.
Q Is there any special significance to the fact that the President has met Mr. Sharif but not Mr. Vajpayee? Is it because India didn't ask for a meeting or --
MR. BERGER: Well, I don't believe that Prime Minister Vajpayee is arriving until later this week. So I think part of this is a coincidence of timing and part of it I think relates to the progress that we've made with Pakistan on the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, although even on that issue I think there may be still some room for further progress.
Q Sandy, did Kofi Annan raise the criticism of the missile attacks in his meeting with the President?
MR. BERGER: No.
Q Sandy, on a related question, there's still a lot of controversy surrounding the pharmaceutical plant in Sudan -- maybe not in your mind, but in others' minds. What would be the harm in having an international panel of experts go in and take a look?
MR. BERGER: Well, I don't think it's necessary. I think one never knows what months later another group will or will not find. I have no question in my mind -- I think I said to many of you on Friday -- that that was an appropriate target. And I would put it this way: with the knowledge that we had, i.e., that Usama bin Ladin seeks to obtain chemical weapons; number two, that he seeks to use those chemical weapons in terrorist activity; number three, that he seeks to direct that terrorist activity against the United States; number four, that he has cooperated with the government of Sudan on their chemical weapons program; number five, that the precursor for VX gas was present -- had been present at that facility and; number six, that bin Ladin was a substantial financial sponsor and contributor to the Military Industrial Corporation, of which that plant was a part.
Now, with all of that knowledge, had we not hit that target -- and we did it at night when we -- with knowledge that there was not an evening shift there to minimize collateral damage -- had we not hit that target and had bin Ladin used chemical weapons in a terrorist attack, I don't know how we could have looked the American people in the face.
Q Will the President try to get through to Mr. -- again later today?
MR. BERGER: I think he's going to try to, yes. I think we tried earlier and he was somewhere in between the hospital and the Willard Hotel.
END 3:37 P.M. EDT