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Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release March 18, 1999
                            PRESS BRIEFING
                             JOE LOCKHART

1:15 P.M. EST

MR. LOCKHART: Good afternoon, everyone. One quick logistical announcement. All seats for tomorrow's press conference -- I'm serious, it's real -- must be reserved. Requests for seating must be in to Heather Riley by 9:00 a.m. tomorrow. For those of you who are looking for a hard start time, we're looking at 2:01 p.m. Eastern time.

Q These reserved seats, including regular organizations who cover the White House, do we need to go to Heather?

MR. LOCKHART: Can't hurt. I assume you'll all be there.

Q Is that your announcement?

MR. LOCKHART: That's my announcement.

Q On Kosovo, the Kosovars --

MR. LOCKHART: No. Can we hold on a second? Got it?

Q Okay, we got it back.

Q Joe, can we expect a statement from the President today on the developments in Kosovo?

MR. LOCKHART: Hold on. Hold on. Let me come to Sam, because I cut him off while I was waiting for this to come on. And I'll come to you next.

Q The Kosovars appear to have signed the agreement. The Serbs are making it plain, so far, they're not going to sign the agreement. What happens now, and when?

MR. LOCKHART: Well, as you all remember, there was some skepticism some weeks ago that this time period, while the Kosovars went back and consulted --

Q No mult.


Q Back now.

Q What's happening? (Laughter.)

MR. LOCKHART: I don't know. Hold on.

Q With all due respect to my business, you can continue the briefing, even if it's not on television.

MR. LOCKHART: Okay. I thought this was pretty important stuff, though.

Q It is.

MR. LOCKHART: Can you hear me back there?

Q Yes, go ahead, Joe.

MR. LOCKHART: Okay. Sam, your question again?

Q In case the question wasn't heard, the Kosovars appear to have signed the agreement. The Serbs are making it plain, so far, they're not going to sign the agreement. What happens next, and when?

MR. LOCKHART: You know, I think we've entered a decisive phase here. One side has come forward and said that they can accept the elements of this political settlement and have signed. President Milosevic and the Serbs have remained in their position of not accepting the conditions of the political settlement. And, as we know in the past, from our past dealings with President Milosevic, he often doesn't act until he feels he has to.

This is a decisive phase, as I've said, because the Kosovar Albanians have signed and he faces a choice. He faces a choice of moving down a path that can bring peace, the end to repression of the Kosovar Albanians and autonomy for the Kosovar Albanians. Or he can go down a path that will, by necessity, be a path of further bloodshed.

Q But Milosevic, you say, doesn't act often until he has to. When does he have to?

MR. LOCKHART: Well, I'm not going to get into a timetable here of what might be done or what might not be done. But I will remind you that the ACTORD remains in effect, that NATO Secretary General Solana has the authority to move forward, and that the military planning is complete.

Q Can we expect to hear from the President today, Joe, on this?

MR. LOCKHART: I wouldn't expect to hear from the President today on this.

Q There are new reports out of Paris saying that next Wednesday, this coming Wednesday is the deadline. Is that accurate?

MR. LOCKHART: No, there are no deadlines, as far as I know.

Q -- to be suspended. Is he going to be given another bit of time to reflect on the --

MR. LOCKHART: My understanding of the talks is the cochairs, the Foreign Ministers Cook and Vendrine, will be talking with the negotiators, talking with both sides to try to come to some conclusion whether there's any real purpose to continue these talks. That, I expect, to go on this afternoon into this evening, Paris time, and we will await their decision on that announcement.

But, again, I'm not aware that there's any fixed time that's going to be given at this point for President Milosevic to come forward and make a decision.

Q Is there a possibility that a deadline will eventually be set?

MR. LOCKHART: That's a hypothetical I don't know the answer to.

Q You've changed from this morning. This morning you clearly said that if the Serbs prove to be intransigent in this matter or if they attack in some large-scale sense, the Kosovars, NATO will act.

MR. LOCKHART: I have not changed. You've asked --

Q You gave every indication if this conference breaks up without the Serbs signing, that was the intransigence you were talking about.

MR. LOCKHART: I gave no such indication on the second point. If President Milosevic and the Serbs cannot come forward and agree in a peaceful, political way, NATO will act. If they launch some sort of offensive action against the Kosovar Albanians, then they face the very real threat that NATO has laid on the table.

Q They're currently engaged in offensive action against the Kosovars.

MR. LOCKHART: Well, we have made our views on that subject well known to them. We are aware of some movement, some troop movements, and we have indicated to them in no uncertain terms that any new offensive against the Kosovar Albanians will be a grave mistake.

Q And what was their reply to that, Joe, when we made that statement to them yesterday?

MR. LOCKHART: I'm not familiar with their exact reply, but I know that our views were made known.

Q But their continued shelling doesn't constitute a new offensive?

MR. LOCKHART: What we're looking for here is to find a way to get to a peace, just get a way that both sides can find a political settlement that restores autonomy to the Kosovar Albanians. We are aware that there has been some moving of troops, which indicate there may be some thought of a new offensive, and we've made it very clear that we think that would be a grave mistake.

Q I'm not asking about a new offensive. I'm just saying, if they continue to shell the Kosovar Albanians, forcing refugees to flee, as is happening right now, that doesn't constitute a "new offensive"?

MR. LOCKHART: Listen, I'm not going to get into a detailing here on all the particulars of what -- because I think the Belgrade authorities, President Milosevic understands our view completely and I'm going to leave it there.

Q How would you rate the chances for achieving a peace at this point?

MR. LOCKHART: I'm not going to get into speculating about what President Milosevic might or might not do. I will say that we've reached a decisive point in this process and he clearly knows the choices he faces, and he clearly knows that he can choose one of two paths. And it's very much in his interest to choose the path of peace.

Q Joe, are you saying that NATO will strike against the Serbs if they don't sign the peace agreement, or only if they launch a new offensive in Kosovo?

MR. LOCKHART: I'm saying there are -- the criteria for NATO action involves both the intransigence on the political settlement and on President Milosevic's actions as far as launching an offensive on the Serbs -- excuse me, on the Kosovar Albanians.

Q If they refrain from launching a new offensive but still don't sign the peace agreement, you're saying they're still going to get hit?

MR. LOCKHART: I'm not saying that. I'm saying that he faces some tough choices, and he's going to need to make them. And we've reached a decisive point in this process.

Q I think Mara's question is if they simply fail to sign the agreement but do not launch a new offensive, they're fine, they don't get hit?

MR. LOCKHART: No, I didn't give an affirmative answer to that.

Q They're not doing anything today that you consider a new offensive?

MR. LOCKHART: I'm not aware that they've launched a major new offensive in the region.

Q But failure to sign is intransigence, as you define it; is it not?

MR. LOCKHART: It certainly is. It certainly is. And while I'm not going to put a timetable on this, I'm certainly not willing to say that there's an unlimited amount of time.

Q Joe, it sounds like you're saying some thought is being given to sending someone back to Belgrade. Is that true?

MR. LOCKHART: I'm not saying that.

Q Joe, in the final days of the Dayton negotiations, the Bosnian Serbs stepped up their offensive, and did sort of a last-minute land grab. Isn't that what we're witnessing again here? We know the peace negotiations are coming to a head, and the Serbs in Yugoslavia are doing the same thing.

MR. LOCKHART: I don't see that, no.

Q Joe, given that this effort to bring peace hasn't worked, and you still want peace, what does the President plan to do now to bring it towards peace? Is there some other strategy?

MR. LOCKHART: We're in a part of this process now where President Milosevic has to decide which direction he wants to take his country. And, again, with the risk of repeating myself, he has a stark choice between --

Q You must have given him a deadline.

MR. LOCKHART: -- between a path of peace or a path of further violence.

Q You must have given him a deadline.

MR. LOCKHART: No, we must not have, Helen.

Q Well, you say it's a decisive moment.


Q What does that mean?

MR. LOCKHART: It means we have reached the final and decisive phase. I'll remind you all that we sat here three weeks ago, and most of you in this room were very skeptical that, because the Kosovar Albanians walked away from the process and did not sign, that somehow there was no prospect of them signing. We sit here today with them having signed the agreement. And that's an important step in this process.

Q So are you saying there's hope?

MR. LOCKHART: I'm saying that we wouldn't be involved in the process if we didn't think there was hope of moving this forward to a peaceful settlement. But where this decision rests now is squarely and alone with President Milosevic and the Serbs.

Q The Kosovars have signed the agreement, yes; but you don't expect them to begin fulfilling their end of the agreement before Milosevic signs?

MR. LOCKHART: I think most agreements like this are agreements when both parties have signed.

Q Hey, Joe, is there anything in the activation order that would confine a NATO air action to Kosovo itself?

MR. LOCKHART: Let me answer that broadly, which is that as far as the activation order goes, as far as any military planning, I'm not going to get into the operational details.

Q Joe, is there some cause for optimism in the fact that Milosevic doesn't act until he has to?

MR. LOCKHART: I think we're at the point really -- it's pointless to speculate on optimism and pessimism. President Milosevic knows what he needs to do and it's time for him to make his decision.

Q Change the subject? What about on budget matters? Does the administration believe that the budget caps should be dispensed with?

MR. LOCKHART: No. I think the budget we've put forward works within the caps, the spending caps, and the investments we've made are paid for and represent and reflect the fiscal discipline that we've brought back to Washington over the last seven years that have brought us out of an era of deficit spending into an era of surpluses.

Q But, Joe, it only works within the caps next year; after that, it doesn't.

MR. LOCKHART: For FY 2000, we certainly respect them. Beyond -- and in the out-years beyond that, I'm not certain of the numbers.

Barry reminds me that there are some additional investments we've made with the surplus. Remember we have -- on the 100 percent of the surplus, it's divided up roughly 77 percent for Medicare and Social Security, 12 percent for the USA accounts and then about an additional 10 percent on some additional investments.

Q Vice President Gore said today that the Republicans are planning to -- that the only way to make their numbers add up is to cut deeply, really deeply into everything from education to health care. Does the administration believe that they are just spending money in the wrong places, or that they're taking money away from these? What is the point the administration is trying to make?

MR. LOCKHART: I think the point we're trying to make is, if you look at the budget, we've been here before. Look at the promises that are being made here. We can cut taxes, increase military spending significantly and still balance the budget. Well, we quadrupled the national debt the last time we bought into a promise like that, and the fiscal discipline that we've brought and the credibility that we've brought by balancing the budget -- not just talking about, not just having a balanced budget amendment, but by balancing the budget, brings a certain credibility that allows us to argue that we don't need to go down this road again.

We've got more gimmicks that are not in our national economic interest.

Q I thought you want to cut taxes, increase the military spending and balance the budget.

MR. LOCKHART: All within the context of what we can pay for. And we've got USA accounts, which we think will provide relief for people and help them save for retirement, we've got military spending that we can pay for, and we don't have the kind of large tax cut that you can't pay for.

Q Wait a second. Doesn't the Republican plan only cut taxes as the surplus comes in, the general revenue surplus?

MR. LOCKHART: If you look at how they add it up, it's hard to see how they're going to make the broad, across-the-board -- if they want to stand up and say, here are our cuts, here is how we pay for it, we can have a different debate. But until they do, it sounds like the gimmick of the '80s or a faint sound of the '80s and I don't think it's a road we want to go down.

Q Speaking of the budget, the President -- $956 million for emergency aid to Central America, plus aid to Jordan and some other programs. Republicans are --

MR. LOCKHART: Agriculture.

Q Right. Republicans are saying in order to approve them, they will cut other domestic programs the President wants. Is the White House ready to veto if it comes down that way?

MR. LOCKHART: We hope we don't have to go down that route. I think there's very -- there are very few cases that meet the classic test of emergency spending than this Central American aid. This is aid that's needed immediately, it certainly couldn't be planned for, and is non-recurring.

We think it's time to get the politics out of this, move forward, do this on an emergency basis on the time-honored budget rules that we've followed. And you can see the results of sticking to the budget rules.

And I think if you look at some of the areas that they're looking at cuts, it's difficult to understand why we'd want to take money out of things like embassy security, Y2K, and other programs in order to address this problem. We think it should be done on an emergency basis, and we should do it soon.

Q Joe, speaking of the "v" word, will the President veto that GOP budget as it comes down?

MR. LOCKHART: Well, we certainly look forward to seeing what the details of it are. Right now the numbers don't seem to add up, don't seem to make sense. But we're very early in the process.

Q Joe, back on the emergency aid package. The President said in Central America that, when he got back to the States, he wanted to talk to the Speaker and the Republican leaders about the status of it and how to move it forward. Has he ever done that?

MR. LOCKHART: I don't know that the President has spoken to the Speaker about that. Both our legislative people -- Jack Lew at OMB have been working very closely with the relevant committees up on the Hill. And we're hoping that we can find some way to get this report out quickly, but done on an emergency basis.

Q Joe, on Social Security, the Vice President said that the administration, of course, is putting Social Security first, but that the Republican budget does not extend Social Security by a single day.

MR. LOCKHART: Correct.

Q As I understand it, the Republicans are setting aside more money for Social Security than the administration is.

MR. LOCKHART: Well, there's nothing as far as, if you look at the way the actuaries look at this, ours is extended it out to 2055. But they have done nothing. They've sort of said, well, we'll put it aside for Social Security, but they've done nothing to lock in those savings.

MR. TOIV: They haven't devoted it to the Trust Fund and actuary --

MR. LOCKHART: Yes. So none of it is locked in, or goes over to the Trust Fund. And if you look at it -- I mean, this isn't just me saying this. If you look at the actuaries, our plan extends it out to 2055, and theirs does not extend it a day.

Q So, Joe, you're saying that Republicans are playing fast and loose with Social Security?

MR. LOCKHART: I'm saying that the President has put forward a comprehensive framework for how to do this and how to lock in the savings by paying down the national debt, and the Republicans haven't taken all of the steps. They've moved -- I will grant them this. They have moved from their position of last year, toward the idea that Social Security needs to be saved, the Trust Fund needs to be extended. But they haven't taken many of the steps the President has, and we're going to have to work with them to make sure that this money goes into the Trust Fund, so that Social Security can be extended.

Q Joe, does --

Q Joe, can I ask one more on the budget before we get to something dramatically different? (Laughter.)

Q How do you know it's going to be dramatically different?

MR. LOCKHART: Wait a second. I'm in a dramatic mood. (Laughter.)

Q I will yield to the question.

Q The Republican budget contemplates, over the next decade, living within the caps. And White House officials, such as Yellen, have said that they would negotiate lifting the caps. Is that still the White House position after next year, that you would talk about lifting the caps?

MR. LOCKHART: Well, we're going to have to -- I mean, we think once you reserve the bulk of the surplus for Social Security and Medicare, and for the USA accounts -- you have some flexibility. But they have to be locked in. This can't be something that you can walk away from the next year.

So we look forward to engaging on this as we move forward over the next couple months, but we're going to continue to make our case that you have to lock in these savings.

Q But aren't they being more fiscally responsible in saying that they won't lift the caps, and the White House is saying that they --

MR. LOCKHART: You know, it is hard to describe a proposal as fiscally responsible that makes the claims that this one does, which is, you know, we're going to follow our smoke and mirrors, and cut taxes, raise spending and somehow balance the budget. But we're not going to tell you the spending we're going to cut. This is 1980 all over again.

Q Joe, one of the things that --

MR. LOCKHART: I promised Lester.

Q Two-part, Joe. Does the President believe that Kazan should be receiving a special Oscar or not? (Laughter.) It's been in the news, Joe.

MR. LOCKHART: I know. What's the controversy?

Q He turned them all in --

MR. LOCKHART: I saw a headline. I don't know what it is.

Q He turned them all in

MR. LOCKHART: Oh, he turned them all in. (Laughter.)

Q He turned in people that he believed were sympathetic to the communists.

MR. LOCKHART: I still don't know.

Q Can you find out?

MR. LOCKHART: You know, if it comes up in conversation, I'll ask him and I'll repeat it, but I'm not going to make a special effort on that.

Q Does the President regard Paul Sarbanes of Maryland as a Senator of many good accomplishments, or not?

MR. LOCKHART: What's the trick here? (Laughter.) What did he say?

That would be a total, unqualified yes. Now, your follow-up?

Q The Chairman of -- (laughter.) I wondered if you could tell us what good accomplishment? Do you have any in mind? Because the Chairman of the Maryland Democratic Party, when asked about this, said, let me get back to you, I'm not familiar with the Senator's record. And that led to talk that Mrs. Clinton may run for Senate from Maryland, rather than in New York, where the latest polls have Giuliani 10 points ahead, and where the New York press corps are really savage. How about this, Joe?

MR. LOCKHART: I think Senators --

Q Is she thinking about Maryland?

MR. LOCKHART: Let me answer the first part first, and then use the first answer to figure out what I'm going to say to the second part.

Senator Sarbanes has had a distinguished career over the last several decades. He's been a leader on the Banking Committee, as far as modernizing our financial institutions in this country, and he's been a strong voice in the field of foreign policy, as far as the importance of America engaging around the world.

I don't have the slightest idea on the Maryland to New York to back to Maryland.

Q See, now you wish you'd called on me, don't you? (Laughter.)

MR. LOCKHART: I don't know. This hasn't been bad.

Q Can you assure us -- just to wind this up, can you assure us that --

MR. LOCKHART: You are winding me up, here.

Q Can you assure us there are no plans to make Sarbanes the Ambassador to Greece or a federal judge? He's known as the Senator from Athens, now.

MR. LOCKHART: Yes. It would be news to Ambassador Burns, who's doing a fine job there. I haven't heard either of those things speculated about.

Q Will Mr. Stephanopoulous become the Ambassador to Greece? (Laughter.)

Q Tee ball.

MR. LOCKHART: It's high and outside. I took that one.

Q On Africa, the ministerial is concluding today. On Capitol Hill, there are concerns being expressed -- Phil Crane this morning said both Jesses, with regard to the Hope for Africa Act, there's concern that the special envoy to Africa -- Jesse Jackson Senior -- may not be fully on board with the administration, in light of the legislation of the Hope for Africa Act sponsored by Representative Jesse Jackson Junior.


Q Is the President confident that his special envoy is fully behind the administration's position on the --

MR. LOCKHART: I have heard nothing that would indicate to me otherwise, to the contrary on that.

Q One more on Africa. Does the President have any plans to go to Nigeria for Obasango's inauguration?

MR. LOCKHART: I think we have received an invitation to attend the inauguration. I think the President is honored to get it. The President and the U.S. government has been very involved in facilitating the shift from military to civilian rule. I'm certain that a high-level and appropriate delegation will attend, but I know of no decision on whether the President himself will attend.

Q Jimmy Carter went the last time Obasango was President in Nigeria.


Q Do you have any reaction to the decision about the families of the downed Cuban pilots?

MR. LOCKHART: I actually just heard about that as I was walking out. We have not had a chance to review and I'm going to withhold any comment until the appropriate people have had a chance to review the decision.

Q Would you have something tomorrow or --

MR. LOCKHART: Yes, I would expect so.

Q Back to Capitol Hill. House Resolution 35 condemns the CCC and urges members of the House of Representatives not to support or endorse the group. Would this action cause some repercussions, especially since some federal lawmakers over there thought to be a part of the group even --

MR. LOCKHART: I'm personally not familiar with the actual language in the resolution. But from what's been told to me, it's a resolution designed to speak out against racism and bigotry and I can't imagine that there's a single member in either the House or the Senate who wouldn't want to speak out on that subject.

Q Also, Minister Louis Farrakhan is said to be gravely ill. What is the White House's reaction to Minister Farrakhan and all of his years of work? Do you consider him a world leader?

MR. LOCKHART: I'm certain that this is a difficult time, if these reports are accurate about his illness, for himself and his family. But as far as his position as a world leader, I think the White House and many others view many of his statements as disqualifying for a true position as a world leader.

Q Joe, on Africa, The London Economist reported prior to the President's trip to Africa that there may be a motivation both in going to Uganda and because of Minister Farrakhan's influence in Sudan and in Libya and that region, and I think The Economist reported quite bluntly that the President's motivation for going to Africa might be to blunt the growing influence of Minister Farrakhan in Africa. So is he disqualified from importance in Africa, as well as importance --

MR. LOCKHART: If the article asserted that, the article would be inaccurate.

Q Joe, can I ask one more question about Social Security? The Vice President's remarks suggested today that the administration is going to launch a new attack on Republicans over budget issues, particularly over entitlement matters, Social Security and Medicare. And one of the things he said was that Republicans were putting Social Security last. Is it your view that that's what the Republicans are doing?

MR. LOCKHART: I think what they're doing is putting tax cuts first and refusing to lock in how you can dedicate the savings to Social Security. They're not even mentioning Medicare. And talking about increasing spending without talking about how they'll pay -- excuse me, increasing spending on some things and balancing the budget without talking about what areas they might cut in. So I think the debate in some ways has moved from last year, but in some ways, it hasn't, which is tax cuts first and we'll worry about all the other problems later.

Q Isn't this a dangerous political tactic? Because the fear all along on Republicans has been that Democrats, if they committed themselves to anything, the Democrats would go after them over Social Security and Medicare. Doesn't this suggest and throw out a warning that the administration may well do that, that Vice President Gore may well do that?

MR. LOCKHART: No, I think we have reason to believe we can make progress on Social Security, but what we need to do is start making hard decisions and making commitments. And what we don't need is vague budget outlines that don't add up, that are more of a political statement than a statement about how we're going to keep this economy expanding into the next century.

Q Joe, you said earlier that once the money is locked in for Social Security and for Medicare then you have some flexibility with the rest of the budget. But my recollection was that the President had also added another condition, which was the long-term Social Security program reform. Is that still a precondition before any additional spending, that there be long-term --

MR. LOCKHART: We clearly have some decisions to make as we move through this year, and this will all move concurrently with the way the budget process works. But there are some issues we're going to have to face as far as Social Security and probably more immediately, Medicare. So, no, I don't think that's changed.

Q On China, yesterday Gary Samore at the NSC acknowledged that the White House never briefed the International Relations or the Foreign Relations Committees in 1997 on the Los Alamos investigation as they were negotiating to certify that China was no longer was a nuclear proliferation risk. Is that to say that the theft of nuclear secrets from the weapons labs is not considered a proliferation issue?

MR. LOCKHART: No. I don't think it says that, but I think what it does say is that the appropriate committee to brief on intelligence matters are the Intelligence Committees.

Q But the International Relations Committee says that, in order to get certified for the U.S.-China nuclear cooperation agreement, the International Relations Committee was supposed to be briefed on all aspects of proliferation policy, to get signed off.

MR. LOCKHART: Well, again, I think it's our view that the appropriate places to do these intelligence-matter briefings is with the Intelligence Committee.

Q What was the President's reaction to Senator Lott's claim that while he was in Congress he invented the paper clip?

MR. LOCKHART: What was his reaction?

Q And other claims made by other former members of the Senate?

MR. LOCKHART: He thought it was a real knee-slapper. (Laughter.)

Q Speaking of knee-slapper, what did the President think of the Vice President's claim to have invented the Internet, Joe? Was he encouraged by that? Stimulated? Has he had any discussions about this?

MR. LOCKHART: Not that I know of.

Q You mean he treated it with a cold silence, Joe?

MR. LOCKHART: I haven't discussed it with him.

Q Joe, on the medicinal marijuana report from yesterday. I know you had a discussion about the scientific aspects of it, but somehow the way part of it has been reported, it just gets out to the American public that medicinal marijuana is okay. And I'm wondering if the administration is concerned that this message will undermine your advertising campaign to cut back on pot?

MR. LOCKHART: Well, we certainly hope not. And I would hope that those who do the reporting would take some care with this. I mean, this is a scientific issue. And I -- looking at some of the headlines, you would take the wrong impression from the report.

The report, I thought, was clear about the medicinal value of some of the compounds in marijuana. It talked about the need for further research to find some delivery system that was effective, because they didn't believe that smoking marijuana was an effective delivery system. And that's how this important issue should be debated, based on the science.

Q Joe, some Congressmen oppose the exhibition game between the Cuban national team and the Orioles. This morning, you said the White House sees no problems anymore?

MR. LOCKHART: I think there were some difficult issues that had to be worked out, to make sure that this was truly what we call people-to-people contact, that somehow the Cuban government didn't benefit from the proceeds of this game; those were worked out and I think the U.S. government looks forward to the games taking place.

Q Joe, some Republicans have said the Chinese espionage scandal is at least partially responsible for President Clinton and congressional Democrats reversing course on the issue of missile defense. How do you respond to that, and if that's not the case, explain why not?

MR. LOCKHART: It's not. That is an example of the kind of partisan shot that I was talking about the other day. I think Mr. Steinberg here laid out yesterday why we could come to some agreement on national missile defense based on the position we've had and the position that the Cochran bill took. There were several important amendments passed that met our concerns, and there's no evidence that there's any connection between the two and it's part of the game playing that may seem fun to some, but may also have a destructive course on a very important foreign policy issue.

Q We had a record trade deficit in January. Are you concerned that the rising -- could put any drag on the economy?

MR. LOCKHART: Well, obviously, when you have trade numbers like we have, like we saw this month, they're worth spending time on and trying to understand. I think in large part, the numbers reflect the combination of the strength of the American economy -- there's strong consumer spending going on in our country -- and the weakness around the world, from Asia to Latin America.

I think it brings into focus the President's call for a new international financial architecture that he talked about in his Council on Foreign Relations speech last year, and also the call that's come from the President and the Secretary of the Treasury for countries like Japan and countries in the European Union to do more on stimulating domestic growth.

THE PRESS: Thank you.

END 1:47 P.M. EST