THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary (New York, New York) ________________________________________________________________________ For Immediate Release September 21, 1998
READ OUT TO THE POOL BY JOE LOCKHART The United Nations
12:14 P.M. EDT
MR. LOCKHART: I don't have much, just one or two things. First, I don't know if you're aware there was an accident this morning at the Pentagon. The Japanese Defense Minister was going to see Secretary Cohen and as his motorcade came in -- you know how they have the underground barriers that come up, one of them came up unexpectedly underneath his car and through his car. So my -- you should go to the Pentagon for the details of this, but my understanding is that the Japanese Defense Minister and two of his security guards are at Pentagon City Hospital. What I was told was that they were injured but they do not believe that there were life threatening injuries.
Q Do you know, has the Pentagon already announced this?
MR. LOCKHART: Secretary Cohen has issued a statement.
Q National Orthopedic Center?
MR. LOCKHART: Again, I can't be completely certain of some of the details here. The Pentagon is, and I got the best report I can get.
Anyway, Sandy Berger briefed the President about this just before he went into the Sharif meeting, a bilat. And the President expressed concern about the condition of the Defense Minister and his two security guards, asked to be kept up to date on their condition this afternoon.
Q You said Defense Minister, right?
MR. LOCKHART: Defense Minister, yes. And he plans to send a message to the Defense Minister later today of our deep regret for this terrible accident. That's what I have on that.
I talked to him a little bit about the speech. The President has been coming here now for, I think this is his sixth session, and this is the warmest and most enthusiastic reception he's ever had. He said he was very gratified when he walked in and heard such a warm reaction, and then quite moved when they all stood and applauded for a long time. I am told by people here at the U.N. that that doesn't happen very often.
The President, when I asked him -- you know, I asked him if it had ever happened before to him and he said, no, it's the first time he's ever received that kind of reception.
Q You mean a standing ovation?
MR. LOCKHART: Yes. So I think he was quite moved by the warmth and appreciation that was expressed by the diplomats from around the world.
Q What about what he has seen on television of these tapes today?
MR. LOCKHART: Nothing.
Q He has not watched anything or you don't have anything on it?
MR. LOCKHART: You watched him go out of the hotel room. Unless he has a TV in the limo, he's not watched any of it.
Q They were on the air before he left the hotel.
MR. LOCKHART: No, they weren't. We were walking down the steps when they started to go on, so he has not.
Q Is he going to be available for any questions or anything today?
MR. LOCKHART: The President? No, I don't think so.
Q NYU, anything --
MR. LOCKHART: I think they're taking questions from the audience, from some of the academics in the audience. But I don't think he'll be available in any other form.
Q Six times he's addressed the U.N. General Assembly, you say?
MR. LOCKHART: I think he's been here every year for every opening. Certainly the advance team were all talking about it was their sixth time.
Q I mean, was he really surprised?
MR. LOCKHART: I think so, yes. I think whether it was -- whatever the first reaction was, which I think was partly surprise really, when they all stood he said that he was actually quite moved by that.
Q Is Berger briefing today?
MR. LOCKHART: Yes, Berger will do something probably in the 2:30 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. range, and Mike will follow that up with any questions that you might have on any other subjects.
Q At this point do you have any comment on the videotape?
MR. LOCKHART: I haven't seen it. I think everything I said --
Q Are you getting any kind of --
MR. LOCKHART: Everything I said over the last two days still stands about the wisdom of pursuing this partisan course. But I haven't seen the tapes, so I can't comment on it. We've been busy.
Q We'll get a read out on this bilateral meeting?
MR. LOCKHART: Yes. Sandy will do that. He can also give you a read out of the other meetings the President has had this morning. He had a short meeting with Kofi Annan, a meeting with the incoming president of the General Assembly. I think that's it.
Q Where will Berger brief?
MR. LOCKHART: At the Marriott, yes.
Q Thank you.
END 12:20 P.M.