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Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release May 14, 1999
                         IN READOUT TO THE POOL

9:50 A.M. EDT

MR. LOCKHART: President Clinton and President Jiang spoke for about 30 minutes this morning, beginning around 9:00 a.m.

Q Thirty minutes?

MR. LOCKHART: Thirty minutes. It was a constructive call. The President once again expressed his sincere regrets and condolences to President Jiang and the Chinese people concerning the tragic accident of last week. The President expressed his desire that we move beyond this tragic accident in our relationship. President Jiang took the opportunity to express his views. I will, obviously, leave it to him to do that.

One particular -- WTO did come up briefly. The President expressed his view that both sides need to continue working on this subject.

Q Can you describe Jiang's response at all, Joe?

MR. LOCKHART: No, I'm going to leave it to them.

Q Did he accept his apology?

MR. LOCKHART: I'm going to leave it to them to do it, because no matter how I characterize it --

Q Thirty minutes -- that's -- well, I guess with interpreters, that's still a pretty good conversation.

MR. LOCKHART: Yes. Constructive.

Q Constructive. Okay. Okay.

Q Any reaction on the inflation numbers? They're up.

MR. LOCKHART: I think most of it is we had a spike in the oil prices, which you saw reflected in the VPI yesterday. And I think you also have some increase in tobacco prices. So I think -- inflation remains low. And oil prices it looks like have begun to come down, but overall, inflation over the last year remains at historically low levels.

Q You're good at this. (Laughter.)

MR. LOCKHART: I listened to Janet Yellen this morning talking about it.

Q Is she going to put out a statement or anything?

MR. LOCKHART: I don't think so. I mean, you can give her a call, or Gene or somebody, but I think if you look at it -- I mean, it was slightly above what the market expected, but it was mostly based on tobacco and oil. And the oil prices have already begun to dip a little bit.

Q Okay. All right.

END 9:55 A.M. EDT