THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary (Islamabad, Pakistan) ________________________________________________________________________ For Immediate Release March 25, 2000
PRESS BRIEFING BY PRESS SECRETARY JOE LOCKHART Islamabad, Pakistan
2:45 P.M. (L)
MR. LOCKHART: Let me just do logistics for a second. What I'm going to do is talk for a minute or two, which is on the record and for camera. And then I will ask the camera to be turned off. We will then do a background and more complete readout of the meetings this morning from a senior administration official. We will take your questions -- that senior administration official will take your questions. When he is done, if there is anything else that you all need from me, I'll be happy to go back on the record.
Let me also say that I, to date, have been unsuccessful in my attempts at getting a text for the remarks this afternoon. They are still being worked on. If that changes I'll let you know.
Let me say first that our first meeting this morning was with President Tarar, which lasted about 15 minutes. This courtesy call -- the conversation in this courtesy call emphasized our history of good relations, of shared relations between the United States and Pakistan.
From that meeting, the President went to the bilateral with General Musharraf. That meeting lasted 80 minutes, and then was expanded a bit with the economic team being brought in on the Pakistani side, a few others on the American side, and lasted an additional 20 minutes. So all told, about an hour and 40 minutes of discussion between the two sides.
The conversation can be described as serious, frank, very direct. Both the President and General Musharraf were thoroughly engaged on a wide range of subjects over the hour and 40 minutes. As far as the President's message, he made clear that our friendship with the Pakistani people is important, but that we also, as the United States, have concerns over the direction of Pakistan.
Q Could you repeat that?
MR. LOCKHART: As far as the President's message, he made clear and acknowledged our friendship as the United States with the people of Pakistan, but made clear that we have very real concerns over the direction of Pakistan.
He stressed the need for rapid restoration of civilian democratic government. He repeated, as he said in New Delhi, on the issue of Kashmir, the so-called four Rs: restraint, respect for the line of control, renewal of dialogue, and rejection of violence. He made the point clearly that the United States does not believe that there is a military solution to this issue. He equally made the point, as he did in New Delhi, about there being no role for the U.S. as a mediator unless both sides requested that.
The President pressed for action to control terrorism and bring the UBL to justice. He also pressed Pakistan to take action on nonproliferation, signing the CTBT, stop producing fissile material, more work on export controls, and restraint in deployment.
I think the President felt it was important to come here to deliver this message personally, and to keep the lines of communication between our governments open. And he believes that was accomplished here this afternoon.
With that, I want to ask a senior administration official to come up. If we could turn the cameras off, he will go through a much more detailed run-down of this afternoon's meetings.
MR. LOCKHART: If you've got any on any other subject -- I've got no more wisdom to offer than our senior administration official, but I'll gladly --
Q -- information on the record from you? The President took a lot of -- for coming here -- (inaudible.) Could you sum up for us whether the matter was -- (inaudible) -- of some of these issues or just so that Pakistan did not feel isolated? What exactly was accomplished --
MR. LOCKHART: I think, clearly, as we articulated it at the time, it was a difficult decision, but having made the decision, it was, in the President's view, important to come here and press our concerns directly -- the concerns that I think he has articulated through this trip, whether he's in New Delhi or in Islamabad. And as we prepare to speak to the public and leave the region, I think the President believes it was the right decision to come and engage both sides on issues that very much are in our national interest.
Q -- what the U.S. position is --
MR. LOCKHART: Well, I certainly think there is a real value in coming and making the case directly. And the President did that, both here and in his time in India.
Q -- consideration of the President's flying here in an unmarked plane, and were there any considerations beyond the security aspect?
MR. LOCKHART: There obviously -- we took a number of additional security precautions for our trip here, some that were obvious to you, as you just mentioned, some that are not so obvious. But I don't see any real purpose in a descriptive discussion of what we've done, only to acknowledge that there were some additional steps involved in this trip.
Q Some people here in Pakistan may take the view of that unmarked plane as just a high level of security arrangements generally -- that indicates a lack of trust --
MR. LOCKHART: I think that would be a misreading of the situation by anyone who would take that view, because whatever arrangements were made were made in the overall effort of securing the President's visit.
Q But were there any areas of agreement? I mean, what has been spelled out is areas of disagreement.
MR. LOCKHART: I think our earlier briefer covered that.
MR. LOCKHART: I think the United States believes that their right to decide is embodied in a democratic process, a process that we urged returned to this country.
Q Could you look back for a second on the three countries you visited -- as far as whether or not you started a process that, whoever the next President is, is he going to be able to ignore it? Will he have to follow it?
MR. LOCKHART: I think whoever the next President is, whatever their political ideology is, unless somehow they take an isolationist point of view, will understand our interest in this part of the world. I think they will look upon this trip as an important one as far as building relations.
There is a different dynamic for each stop on the trip, obviously. Obviously, in India, the President indicated on several occasions that it was a neglected relationship for some time and I think it is reinvigorated, I expect, with the reciprocal visit later in the year.
I think Bangladesh, clearly, was a first. I think you all saw the reaction of both the political leaders and the people who lined the streets to see the President. And we look forward to a visit later again this year to continue that process. And, as we've described here over the last few minutes, this is clearly an important stop on the trip and an important effort to work at reducing tensions in the region.
MR. LOCKHART: Well, I don't know much more than what our previous briefer talked about beyond an overall push that there be a road map to national elections and a return to civilian rule.
MR. LOCKHART: I think I can reiterate what earlier we said. We made our position clear. We have had cooperation with the Pakistani government in the past on terrorism, but I will leave it to them to articulate their government's policy.
I'll take one more and then I've got to go.
Q Can you clarify, about two weeks ago Clinton made a remark or was reported as having made a remark in Los Angeles at a Democratic fundraiser that caused a lot of stir in the media here, supposedly intimating that he was suggesting the United States needs to honor -- or, I'm sorry -- that India needs to honor the 1949 U.N. resolution calling for -- in Kashmir, which seems to be at variance with what the stated policy is and the U.S. policy on Kashmir.
MR. LOCKHART: Well, I don't know what fundraiser that was at. I certainly wasn't there. If it was said, I wasn't there and didn't hear it. I think we've been very clear on the issue of Kashmir and the President said precisely the same things that he said on Kashmir in New Delhi as he said here.
I've got to go.
END 3:20 P.M. (L)