THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary (Okinawa, Japan) ________________________________________________________________________ For Immediate Release July 22, 2000
READOUT TO THE TRAVEL POOL BY JIM STEINBERG Bankoku Shinryokan Okinawa, Japan
9:15 A.M. (L)
MR. STEINBERG: The discussions were largely about the security issues, both bilateral and regional. Prime Minister Mori began by thanking the President for coming, expressing appreciation for the fact that he was able to come, notwithstanding the talks in Camp David. He indicated that he had seen the President's speech on television yesterday. He was very grateful for that, thought it set a very good tone for the bilateral relationship and for the continued U.S. presence in Japan.
They both talked a bit about how to move forward on our commitment to reduce the footprint of U.S. forces in Okinawa. But at the same time, Prime Minister Mori stressed, and the President reiterated the positive role that the United States plays and the importance of the U.S. troop presence in the region.
They talked and then -- talked a little bit about maintaining the SACO process and moving forward with the Futenma relocation. They spent a fair amount of time talking about regional security and particularly about the Korean Peninsula. Prime Minister Mori indicated that he was grateful that the President, last night, had been able to explain to the other members of the G-8 the process by which, under the leadership of Kim Dae Jung and the trilateral cooperation between South Korea, Japan and the United States, we had been able to move forward. And the Prime Minister indicated that he was grateful for the President's leadership on this, and importance of having the other countries be involved and understand why this was an important part of our overall security.
He also said that it was a real opportunity for the G-8 to have, in effect, two firsthand opportunities, first, for the President to talk about the Middle East peace process to the other leaders and give his firsthand impressions, and then also President Putin coming here right after his meetings with Kim Chong-Il to give his take on what was developing there.
They touched only briefly on economic issues. They both expressed satisfaction with the conclusion of the NTT interconnection agreement and the Prime Minister indicated to the President that we would go forward with the fourth year of the deregulation talks, and they made clear that this was sort of an important part of our overall effort to address the question of information technology. The Prime Minister thanked President Clinton's leadership on the IT issues, asked him to lead the discussion today during the G-8 meeting on IT, because of the role that the United States had historically played on that issue.
I think that's about it.
Q On the fourth year, no commitments beyond one more year?
MR. STEINBERG: No, but, I mean, that was the understanding. The typical way in which we have done this is sort of year-by-year. But I think that there was a good sense that in the context of resolving the NTT interconnect, that this was a sign that this was a process, not just a one-time event. So that was very welcome by the President.
Q There's been a lot of unhappiness by the Japanese over this whole process. They've had to be dragged, kicking and screaming, really, with these reports. Did Mori reflect any of that in his discussions on agreeing to a fourth year? Will there be any changes in how the process works?
MR. STEINBERG: No, on the contrary. I think that, as I said, that Prime Minister Mori talked about it in the context of the whole discussion of information technology, and saw this as a part of the broader effort to help Japan adjust to the changes in the world economy. And the President stressed that he saw it in the same terms, that this was something that was not something we were doing trying to impose on Japan, but rather saw as quite important to Japan's own economic growth.
Q Was the President asked for, or did he give any commitments to Prime Minister Mori regarding better discipline or control over the activities of troops on the island?
MR. STEINBERG: I think it was more that President Mori thanked President Clinton for his statement about the importance of good-neighborliness, and the President indicated this was something that we were deeply committed to and that we would continue to take every measure that we could.
Q Jim, can you give us a brief summary of what are the issues that are going to come up in the fourth year of the deregulation talks?
MR. STEINBERG: I actually am not -- I'm not sure we've agreed on a schedule, have we? I don't think there is a specific agenda yet. I think that what we were looking for was the commitment to go forward, and the next stage of the process will be to try to refine that.
Q And, forgive me if I missed this, but how much of the discussion concerned North Korea?
MR. STEINBERG: Quite a bit of the discussion was on Korea. As I said, I think that the Prime Minister expressed a lot of satisfaction about the discussion last night at the dinner -- it was a major topic at the dinner last night -- and that he was particularly pleased that the others in the G-8 had a chance to get sort of a richer understanding about the process that had led -- he specifically referred to the Perry process -- at how that had created a context for the developments that were taking place, and that it was both the leadership of Kim Dae Jung and the solidarity of the trilateral cooperation that provided a basis. I think that he was pleased that the President was able to talk in some detail last night about the broader context in which we could understand the recent developments, and particularly the context in which President Putin's meeting with Kim Chong-Il had taken place.
Q When you say trilateral, you're talking about U.S. --
MR. STEINBERG: U.S., Japan, South Korea.
MR. CROWLEY: Trilateral consultative group, I think is the formal term.
Q Jim, can you offer any kind of readout on the reaction of the other leaders to the proposal that President Putin talked to the President about?
MR. STEINBERG: I can't, because the meeting last night is the leaders themselves -- the President sort of gave a general readout to us last night about the overall topic. But there was -- I think it was -- my sense was there was there was a lot of interest, but an understanding that -- a desire to be supportive of the countries in the region, particularly the United States and Japan effort to try to work this through and to make sure that this is done in close cooperation with the South Koreans.
Q And Strobe said yesterday that there were going to be some staff-level discussions that might yield more details about that proposal. Have those taken place yet?
MR. STEINBERG: I expect that some of the senior State and NSC folks are going to be talking to senior Russian officials later this morning, sort of around noontime.
Q Is that Strobe and Ivanov?
MR. STEINBERG: I'm not sure of the exact -- I think it's Strobe and Sandy with Ivanov, but I'm not certain.
Q The President indicated just now that there is some question about what exactly the North Koreans were offering and what they wanted in return. Is that because it's not clear yet? I mean, do we have questions about what the offer actually is, or whether we just believe them or not?
MR. STEINBERG: No, it's what it is. I mean, I think that what we don't know is whether they're proposing, in effect, to use the space launch services of other countries as most countries do. There are only a handful of countries that have SLV capabilities, and most countries basically contract with those countries that have space launch services to put their satellites up. That's something that we think is well worth exploring.
Or are they asking that others who have that capability, in effect, give them space boosters to use themselves, which we would have concerns about, because it would give them access to the technology. And I think that what President Clinton indicated and President Putin indicated as well, both in the bilat and then in the discussions last night is that he, President Putin, himself, was not entirely clear about precisely what is intended.
I think we hope that the North Koreans will take advantage of our bilateral missile talks to explore this. I think what the President was indicating is that he hopes that what they're doing is what many other countries have done, is to basically say we don't need to develop an SLV capability, we're prepared to use others. And if that were true, then I think that's something that we think is well worth exploring.
Q Jim, the bilateral missile talks, the talks led by Cartman -- when is the next round of that?
MR. STEINBERG: It's not set. We're hoping now to get an agreement in the next few weeks, but we don't have a specific date.
Q So you're hoping that they'll take advantage of that opportunity to explain what they actually mean?
MR. STEINBERG: Right. It's a good forum.
Q Just to be clear on Okinawa, we came with no further offers on what we'll do, other than that we have this 27-point program and we're halfway through it, as the President said. We're not offering anything more to the Japanese?
MR. STEINBERG: There are two parts. I mean, we have the 27-point program, but we also have a process in which we and the Japanese are trying to agree on the relocation of the Futenma facility, and what we would like to see now is more concrete movement forward on exactly what form that would take. I think we both agree that that's something that would be good to have happen quickly.
Q Last question on the dinner last night. Was the discussion sort of more along the lines of what's been going on in Korea; how was your trip, President Putin; or how much did it get into the disagreement over NMD and how the North Korean offer might affect our decision-making?
MR. STEINBERG: The short answer is, I don't know. As I say, since there was nobody in the room, I haven't heard anything specifically from the President that would make it possible for me to characterize it one way or the other.
Q Have other leaders been informed yet that the President will leave right after the G-8 tomorrow? have the Japanese --
MR. STEINBERG: I don't know why he would need to. I think the way I would put it --
Q The Prime Minister, since he's the host, perhaps would have been told?
MR. STEINBERG: My point was, I think everybody's leaving right after the G-8, so he's not doing anything different than anybody else. The point is, what he reaffirmed to the Prime Minister is that he is not going to leave early, he'll leave at the same time all of the other leaders are leaving.
Okay, thank you.
END 9:26 A.M. (L)