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Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release September 5, 2000
                             PRESS BRIEFING BY
                               JOE LOCKHART

                      The James S. Brady Press Briefing Room

3:44 P.M. EDT

MR. LOCKHART: Let me just do a quick travel announcement, and then I'll take any other questions you may have.

On September 11, President Clinton will travel to Connecticut and New York. The President will make remarks at an event, at a location that is to be determined. In Danbury, Connecticut, the President will make remarks at a lunch for Congressman Jim Moloney. In New York City, the President will make remarks at a reception for Congressman Anthony Weiner, at a private residence, at a Hillary 2000 reception, and then a dinner that evening.

That dinner is something called Partners in History Gala. It's at the Pierre Hotel. The Partners in History Gala honors those who have assisted in the restitution of stolen Holocaust assets.

That's it for announcements. Any questions?

Q Joe, North Korea is asking for an apology for the American Airlines search of the North Korean delegation as it was headed to the U.N. summit. Are you going to apologize for that? And are you concerned that this is going to be a setback for --

MR. LOCKHART: Well, it's certainly an unfortunate incident that we regret. I think the facts as we know them now are there was a security check at a transit point in Germany. There was some initial questioning by the delegation about the security procedure. That led to a time delay, which led them to miss the flight. They were, as I understand it, by American Airlines given tickets on a later flight, but they made the decision to come back.

Again, it's an unfortunate incident, because we were looking forward to their participation at the Millennium Summit. But based on what I know now, I'm going to leave it at that and that it was a combination of unfamiliarity with our procedures and -- I think some unfamiliarity on the part there with the delegation coming through.

Q Do you think that they were out of line to subject them to this search, or were they within their --

MR. LOCKHART: I think certainly the airlines, for their part, were following their own -- were following procedures.

Q Which includes strip-searching of diplomats?

MR. LOCKHART: There was no strip-searching.

Q They said they were asked to take their clothes --

MR. LOCKHART: There was a general search of the -- patting down and looking through bags. There was no strip-search, as far as I've been able to ascertain.

Q Do you see this at all as a setback for the talks?

MR. LOCKHART: We certainly hope not. I mean, again, as I said at the top here, we regret an unfortunate incident and regret that they got on the plane and they headed back to home. But it's certainly not our hope that this will substantively impact our discussions with them on a series of important issues.

Q Who's all going with the President and -- is Mrs. Clinton involved in the summit?

MR. LOCKHART: Not that I'm aware of. I think he'll take a number of his national security team. There is a number of people already up there -- Mr. Holbrooke, obviously, our Ambassador. But I think the First Lady has her own schedule of protocol events.

Q What time does he leave?

Q -- maybe it's too narrow for you to answer, but on the drug reimportation issue, I'm just wondering where the administration stands. There was a mention by Mr. Lew about a lot of riders on bills and whatnot that you find objectionable. I'm just wondering where the administration stands on that.

MR. LOCKHART: I don't know in particular on that issue. But I know there was a long memo prepared for the President detailing problems all through the appropriations process. But on that one I don't have any particular information.

Q How is Chelsea feeling? I know the parents cut their trip short to come home to be with her.

MR. LOCKHART: I didn't get any update, but I would expect that the answer is better, because I think really the only real problem was that she was tired. We had -- I think she was subjected to a full dose of her father's schedule -- a four-day trip to Africa, with kind of half the day off, and then a day trip to South America, and the prospect of traveling up to New York, which you all know how it makes you all feel, and you guys get to rotate in and out.

Q Is she going to New York?

MR. LOCKHART: I don't know. I don't know whether she's planning to come up. But as I think we said at the time, one of the reasons she's taking this time off is to savor the last -- and experience the last three or four months of the administration. I think she's done that through both foreign travel and some things she's been able to witness domestically.

So I don't know what her plans are for this week, but it would certainly be an interesting time for anyone to be able to watch.

Q Last question on the summit. With a month, sort of this key month happening in the Mideast peace process and no foreign trips that we know of I think right now between now and the election, how much is this -- the rest of this week, this event, sort of the final hurrah if you will for the President and his foreign policy agenda for his administration?

MR. LOCKHART: I think you'll find we have a number of issues, challenges, facing us around the world that we know of. There's always things that are unanticipated that you don't know of. We have the APEC trip coming up in November, which I think will highlight for the President some of the things that he's been working on for eight years. So I don't think he views this week in New York as a finish as far as the agenda. We've got a lot of things we've got to do, certainly within the appropriations process -- the President's foreign policy agenda is impacted based on whether Congress is going to make the commitment this year, which we have struggled in the past years, to protecting our interests around the world.

So I don't view -- I don't think the President views Wednesday, Thursday, Friday as the last chapter in the foreign policy front.

Q Back on the North Korea delegation real quick -- this was supposed to be the most high ranking North Koreans to the U.N. since '91. That they're not going to be here now, does that leave a significant hole in something that you had hoped to discuss and achieve?

MR. LOCKHART: I think that goes to why we think it's so unfortunate that this incident happened. We have looked forward to their participation in the Millennium Summit, and it's just unfortunate that because of this incident they've decided to return home.

Q Do you plan on issuing any kind of formal apology or statement of regret to the government?

MR. LOCKHART: I think based on the information that I have available to me now, I stand with what I've said.

END 3:52 P.M. EDT