THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary (Tokyo, Japan) ________________________________________________________________________ For Immediate Release June 8, 2000 READOUT TO THE POOL ON THE PRESIDENT'S MEETING WITH PRIME MINISTER MORI OF JAPAN BY NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL SENIOR DIRECTOR FOR ASIAN AFFAIRS KEN LIEBERTHAL The Okura Hotel Tokyo, Japan
1:07 P.M. (L)
MR. CROWLEY: Okay, just to - we're on a particularly tight schedule, so we'll move through this pretty quickly. The President arrived slightly late, in terms of arrival, from Washington. I think we were fighting a little bit of a headwind that brought us a little bit behind. But he has done about a 30-minute bilateral meeting with Prime Minister Mori. He now is in the midst of a little bit of a down time. He heads to Budokan Stadium in half an hour for the memorial service. And then we'll go over to the Ambassador's Residence, where I think we'll see you again, to do a statement really to the Japanese people about former Prime Minister Obuchi. And then he'll come back here to the Okura, where he'll have a meeting with Kim Dae-Jung. Then back to the state guest house for a reception hosted by Prime Minister Mori, before we depart back to Washington.
My colleague Ken Lieberthal, the Senior Director of the National Security Council staff for Asian Affairs, is here. He can give you a brief readout of the Mori meeting, and then take your questions. And he'll be happy to answer any questions you have setting up the Kim meeting later on this afternoon.
MR LIEBERTHAL: Thanks, P.J. As P.J. mentioned, this meeting went nearly 30 minutes. The major purpose of the meeting was for the President to express his condolences over Prime Minister Obuchi's death. They discussed that for a while. They then had time to move on to a couple of other issues, including - Prime Minister Mori had just seen President Kim Dae-Jung right before he saw President Clinton. As Mr. Crowley just mentioned, President Clinton later this afternoon will himself be seeing Kim Dae-Jung. This all highlights how closely the three countries are coordinating their policies toward the Korean peninsula, especially on the eve of the North-South summit. And that in fact will be the major topic of discussion this afternoon when President Clinton sees Kim Dae-Jung.
They touched on some other bilateral and multilateral issues - not in depth, but rather a kind of touching base and really highlighting the close coordination of U.S. and Japanese policy in several regional areas.
Why don't I stop there and just respond to whatever questions you want to raise.
Q Did they talk specifically about the telecommunications situation, or Okinawa? Anything like that?
MR. LIEBERTHAL: There certainly was a discussion of the upcoming Okinawa summit, the President's visit there. The President will be the first American President ever to go to Okinawa. He expressed that he's looking forward to that trip, and looks forward to meeting the people of Okinawa in the course of that trip.
That produced a somewhat longer discussion about how frequently President Clinton has met with Japanese leaders, and in fact in July, he will be seeing Mori for the third time in three months. So there was that kind of discussion. There was some discussion of the G-8 major agenda, which focuses on such things as universal education within 15 years, overcoming the digital divide, providing vaccines on a more readily available basis for people in developing countries.
But let me stress, this was not an in-depth discussion of these issues. This was more a matter of highlighting what some of the major issues are for the G-8. These are also issues they discussed in more detail when Prime Minister Mori visited Washington in early May, and saw President Clinton there.
Q But just to follow up, did the issue of Japan, the fees charge by Japan's major telecommunications company, did they come up at all even broadly? And in what context was that discussed?
MR. LIEBERTHAL: It was mentioned, that's all.
Q Did the President bring it up and say that further?
MR. LIEBERTHAL: Well, there was a discussion of that issue, as with most of these issues, in more detail in early May. So having had that earlier discussion in early May, it was possible to touch on these issues as a kind of catching up, if you will.
But the purpose of this call was not to negotiate over bilateral concerns. The purpose of the call was to highlight that President Clinton, having just come back from a six-day trip across Europe, Russia, and Ukraine, with only 24 hours or so back in Washington, was now coming out to Japan to express his condolences over Prime Minister Obuchi's passing. And that really was the centerpiece of what this discussion was about.
Q But did the President, for example, express any optimism, or need to reach a deal on this issue by the time of the G-8 summit? Was there any connection?
MR. LIEBERTHAL: I'm not going to get into specifically what the President did and didn't say. These issues were touched on lightly; the Japanese side certainly knows the American side's views on these issues. That was not the - I really want to stress, that was not the focal point of this discussion. It wasn't intended to be, and it wasn't.
Q Can you be a little bit more specific about the talk they had on the Koreas? Were there any proposals by the U.S. side, or did they get down to anything like that?
MR. LIEBERTHAL: Actually, Prime Minister Mori gave a readout, briefly, of his discussion with Kim Dae-Jung, stressing the importance that he, Prime Minister Mori, attached to the upcoming North-South summit, to recent indications that North Korea is beginning to think in more flexible and creative terms - those are my words, not his. Both leaders noted the importance of ongoing trilateral cooperation among South Korea, Japan and the United States, and that it is that trilateral cooperation that seems to work relatively well in producing better results in dealing with North Korea.
Q Did the President mention anything about the possibility of easing some sanctions against North Korea?
MR. LIEBERTHAL: No, he did not.
Q Prime Minister Mori has just met with Kim Dae-Jung, as you said. Was anything said about expectations for the summit? And how about the meeting between the President and Kim Dae-Jung? What do they expect to talk about during that meeting?
MR. LIEBERTHAL: Well, first of all, in terms of the meeting with Prime Minister Mori, no, there was nothing specific about expectation - you know, what we would call "deliverables" from the summit. That didn't come up this morning in our conversation.
I think that the meeting with President Kim this afternoon is likely to highlight the fact that the U.S. strongly supports the approach that Kim Dae-Jung has been taking to North Korea, thinks that approach is beginning to pay some dividends. He is doing it in close coordination with us and with our Japanese allies. And we think that's the right way to go. So it's to highlight, I think, going into the summit, that there is really no daylight between the United States and South Korea on the proper approach to North Korea in this summit.
Q Did they discuss the U.S. bases in Okinawa, including the relocation of - base?
MR. LIEBERTHAL: This morning? No.
Q Yes, no. In connection with the G-8 summit?
MR. LIEBERTHAL: No. Again, the purpose of this morning was a courtesy call to express condolences. And other issues came up as there was time after that. So this really was not a negotiating session this morning?
Q What specifically did the President say in conveying his sympathies?
MR. LIEBERTHAL: I frankly don't have my notes with me and don't remember the exact wording. But he certainly noted how much respect and affection he had for Prime Minister Obuchi, and his sorrow at his passing. I think you'll hear a fuller statement of that this afternoon, when the President meets you at the Ambassador's Residence.
Q -- back in May, when the President met with Prime Minister Mori, they had kind of a general discussion about the President's desire to speak directly to the people of Okinawa when he goes there for the G-8 summit. Was there any kind of reiteration of that desire, or even - I understand that they didn't have time to discuss any other issues specifically.
MR. LIEBERTHAL: There was nothing specific, but the President certainly indicated that he's looking forward to having an opportunity to speak to the people of Okinawa. Or - I've forgotten whether he said "speak to" or "meet," but to be in Okinawa and have contact with the people there. Prime Minister Mori noted how historic an occasion it would be, because he is the first American president to go to Okinawa.
MR. CROWLEY: Okay, we need to wrap this up. Two more.
Q Yes, going ahead to the meeting this afternoon with President Kim. Is there a message that President Clinton is going to give President Kim to deliver to the North Korean leader? And is the prospect of easing some of the U.S. sanctions definitely on the table on what is accomplished at this summit next week?
MR. LIEBERTHAL: I don't believe there will be a specific message that President Clinton will take this meeting to convey to President Kim to in turn convey to Kim Chong-il. I think it is a matter of coordinating our approaches, and we each have, I think, a very good understanding of what our approaches are. So when I say "coordinate," it's kind of touching base and reaffirming that we work closely together on this.
I do not believe that sanctions easing will come up this afternoon, but I can't tell you, frankly. It's - either leader could raise it, but I have no reason in particular to think that it's going to be raised.
Q Just a follow-up question. Will President Clinton hope that President Kim Dae-Jung raises the missile and nuclear issue at the coming summit meeting in Pyongyang? Or just at this afternoon's meeting, will President Clinton ask Kim Dae-Jung to raise this issue?
MR. LIEBERTHAL: I can't tell you exactly what President Clinton will say. President Kim knows very well what our concerns are vis-a-vis North Korea. We understand what President Kim's concerns are vis-a-vis North Korea. We have agreed all along to coordinate carefully so that no part of this overall agenda is completely left out. So I think that there's a mutual understanding of that. How that will be expressed this afternoon, we'll have to see how the meeting goes.
MR. CROWLEY: Last one.
Q Is there an expectation, if the summit goes well next week, that there would be an easing of U.S. sanctions on North Korea?
MR. LIEBERTHAL: I do not think that that is tied tightly to this summit. This summit is primarily a North-South issue. We have a separate negotiating track that we have with North Korea. So all of us coordinate our various negotiations. We get together in four-party talks. We have separate talks on our own track. The Japanese do on theirs - currently suspended, but only for a while - and South Korea does on theirs. So I would not expect the North-South summit to negotiate what is a particularly American issue such as sanctions easing.
Q No, but would it send a signal?
MR. CROWLEY: Okay, thanks very much. Next time we'll have the opportunity to see you at the Ambassador's Residence, I think you'll see in the President's remarks both a reflection of the great respect that he had for Prime Minister Obuchi, and also the fact that the President is here conveys the very special relationship that we have with the people of Japan. So the President felt it was important for him to be here, and I think you'll hear that in the remarks he gives at the Ambassador's Residence. So we'll see you then, and thanks very much.
Q Do you expect any questions at those remarks?
MR. CROWLEY: We'll see.
END 1:20 P.M. (L)