THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary (New York, New York) ________________________________________________________________________ For Immediate Release September 6, 2000
READOUT TO THE TRAVEL POOL BY DEPUTY SECRETARY OF STATE STROBE TALBOTT AND JIM TIMBIE, SENIOR ADVISOR TO THE UNDER SECRETARY FOR INTERNATIONAL SECURITY AND ARMS CONTROL Outside Waldorf-Astoria New York, New York
12:50 P.M. EDT
Q It's a beautiful day, huh?
DEPUTY SECRETARY TALBOTT: Thank you for getting me outdoors. Q We did this for you. DEPUTY SECRETARY TALBOTT: I appreciate that. So what do you want
MR. CROWLEY: The Deputy Secretary is ON THE RECORD.
Q On the record? Okay.
DEPUTY SECRETARY TALBOTT: We think it was about 90 minutes, maybe just a little bit shy of 90 minutes. I'm going to just give you the topics, and I'll do what I can to amplify.
Opening discussion about the Kursk tragedy. President Clinton expressed his regret and his sympathies to the families, of course. And President Putin talked a bit about the episode itself and what it revealed and how he had coped with it. There was some further discussion on that.
The Balkans. Two issues in particular. The prospects for democracy there; and, of course, there is some reason for hope and also some reason for concern. The reason for hope being that there will be elections, but there are strong reasons to doubt whether those elections will be free and fair.
Also, some discussion of Kosovo; a sharing of assessment and a decision that Secretary Albright and Foreign Minister Ivanov, who will be having a working dinner tonight, including with their Balkan experts, will return to a number of very specific issues which Russia and the United States will work on together.
Nonproliferation. The issue which has come up in virtually every presidential meeting and for that matter vice presidential meeting for the last number of years, which is stopping the illicit transfer of Russian technology, both on nuclear weaponry and also on ballistic missile technology, to Iran.
President Clinton reiterated something he's talked before with President Putin about, and that is the extent to which this issue, which is not SALT, is an obstacle to our ability to cooperate together in other areas. And President Putin, on his side, assured President Clinton that he and his government are working very hard on this, and they agreed on a number of further contacts, which are basically a continuation of ones that have already been going on.
Iraq and Saddam Hussein's defiance of the inspection regime, they spent some time on. There was some discussion about U.N. scale of assessments, and the importance of getting a resolution on that. And then, towards the end, President Clinton raised, as he had before, first in the Moscow meeting in early June, the case of Edmund Pope and the importance that he attaches to that.
Q What was that last part?
DEPUTY SECRETARY TALBOTT: Edmund Pope -- the Pope case. I think I would just say that President Putin certainly understands the importance that President Clinton attaches to that. I might just add that at the outset, I don't know how many of you were there for the pool sprays, but you asked -- did you aske a question about NMD? I can't remember --
Q No, I did Mideast.
DEPUTY SECRETARY TALBOTT: Okay, you did Mideast. NMD, START, did not figure very much in this discussion, it was handled more by reference. And what I mean by that is that a number of President Putin's colleagues are here and have been working with several of us; Secretary Albright, Sandy Berger, myself. And the work that has been done was kind of captured in the document that was signed at the end of the session. President Clinton did speak on the record about NMD, and that was, I think, the fullest statement that was made during the course of the meeting on NMD.
Q Did he give any assurances on Montenegro? Did he say anything to Putin about sending a message to Milosevic not to go after Montenegro, there would be kind of consequences if that were to happen?
DEPUTY SECRETARY TALBOTT: Well, President Clinton certainly expressed his views on that, and I think rather than my characterizing the Russian response -- and I'm sure you will find Russian sources who would be delighted to talk to you during the course of the afternoon -- I would just say that that's an important and urgent enough issue that they spent some time on it themselves and they did remand it to the foreign ministers.
I met with Secretary Albright immediately after this meeting to give her a full brief on what had been discussed there, and they're going to talk about it tonight over dinner.
Q Is there a chance for sort of jump-starting of arms reduction in the remainder of the Clinton presidency based on the NMD decision, or is everything really going to be plowed up down the road?
DEPUTY SECRETARY TALBOTT: It's not only just the position of the United States, it's a position that the Russians have recognized back when they were the Soviets -- that there is a logical and inescapable connection between strategic offense and strategic defense. We are prepared -- we, the United States -- are prepared to proceed vigorously with START III, including deeper reductions in strategic weaponry, but that will have to be in parallel with meaningful and productive discussions on strategic defenses.
And, as you know, we're not there yet with the Russians. What President Clinton said -- and I would prefer here that you go back to the words he gave you on the record earlier -- is that he feels that the decision that he made last week establishes a basis for his successor, whoever that is, and President Putin to keep working on this tough issue.
Now, the President also feels that the document that was signed today, which is the third in a series, is part of that basis as well. And if you want later on today, we can --
Q What is that -- the document basically --
DEPUTY SECRETARY TALBOTT: What the document does is, it puts more flesh on the bones of the documents that were signed at the beginning of June in Moscow and in Okinawa, with regard to areas for us to cooperate on strategic stability, which means kind of reinforcing the nuclear peace, if I can put it that way, and also cooperation on dealing with new threats.
Just to give you a couple --
Q Dealing with what?
DEPUTY SECRETARY TALBOTT: New threats. I mean, basically, President Clinton is very committed to the ABM Treaty of 1972, as you all know. But the world has changed a lot in 28 years, including in good ways, which is to say the reduction of the superpower arsenals, but it's also changed in some bad ways -- the proliferation of ballistic missiles to states that will not anticipate it as being nuclear weapon states back when the original ABM Treaty was signed.
Now, among the specifics in this document today -- and I know you're all rushed, and we can get you expert briefings later on -- are the following: The two sides have committed themselves for the first time to finishing an agreement on pre-notification of launches of ballistic missiles. They also have agreed on a number of quite specific steps for implementing, putting in place a shared early warning facility next year. The document sort of spells out who will go where when, to talk to whom; but as I say, we can probably give you -- is there a fact sheet?
Q What is this called, and where was it signed?
Q Is it like a joint communique?
MR. TIMBIE: Yes, it's a Joint Statement on Strategic Stability Cooperation --
Q Is that out already?
DEPUTY SECRETARY TALBOTT: It's a Joint Statement on Strategic Stability Cooperation Initiative.
Q And where was it signed?
DEPUTY SECRETARY TALBOTT: It was signed by the two Presidents at the --
Q There's no handy acronym?
DEPUTY SECRETARY TALBOTT: Well, if there is, we should have probably checked that.
Q It's the JSSSCS.
DEPUTY SECRETARY TALBOTT: That's not bad. Whew, thank goodness. (Laughter.) It was signed by the two Presidents at the end of their meeting. They brought in a table, Secretary Albright, Foreign Minister Ivanov, a number of other officials joined, and there was a formal signing ceremony.
Q You said something about it being a third of a kind; what were the other two?
DEPUTY SECRETARY TALBOTT: There was a Joint Statement on Strategic Stability signed at the Moscow Summit in early June, and a Joint Statement on --
MR. TIMBIE: -- Strategic Stability Cooperation.
DEPUTY SECRETARY TALBOTT: In Okinawa.
Q Are there any more to come?
DEPUTY SECRETARY TALBOTT: There's Brunei; we'll see.
Q More words though. Every time, it gets longer.
DEPUTY SECRETARY TALBOTT: That's actually not literally true. I think the first document was longer than the second. This is an iterative process. We have taken the position all along with the Russians that there was a lot that we could do cooperatively, particularly if they would join us in recognizing that it is going to be necessary, probably sooner rather than later, to make amendments to the ABM Treaty. But we don't want to have the whole process paralyzed. Where we can find areas to work together and agree, we want to move ahead in those areas.
Your question was about START III. Actually, starting formal negotiations on START III is going to have to wait until Russia is prepared to join us in formal negotiations on strategic defense. But there are these other areas where we can do a lot together.
Q Were there any more key bullet points? You were sort of in the middle of discussing the thing, and you got to I think Item number 2.
DEPUTY SECRETARY TALBOTT: Yes, come on in here. Jim can be either ON BACKGROUND or -- I haven't even told you his name, so just a guy named Jim. Do you want to just tick off any of the other specifics?
MR. TIMBIE: Hi, I'm Jim Timbie. I worked on creating this thing. There will be -- joint threat assessments, sort of joint assessments of the missile threat to both countries. There will be cooperation on theater missile defense where there will be joint exercises so that if the U.S. and Russian TMD systems have to operate together someday, they'll know how to communicate with each other, work together and so forth.
DEPUTY SECRETARY TALBOTT: There have only been a couple of joint exercises.
MR. TIMBIE: There have been two, and there will be more. And there will also be a discussion of bringing other countries into the theater missile defense cooperation.
Q Did the Mideast come up at all?
DEPUTY SECRETARY TALBOTT: It came not in the sense of the Middle East peace process. Again, it's a little bit like the NMD-START issue. It didn't come up not because it isn't important, it didn't come up because it is being dealt with so intensively in everything else that's going on here, including between Secretary Albright and Foreign Minister Ivanov.
There was discussion of the broader area, which is to say Iran and Iraq.
Q In Iraq, Tariq Aziz is here making a real push to end the sanctions. He seems to have kind of support from the Russians for lifting the sanctions. Did they talk about that?
DEPUTY SECRETARY TALBOTT: President Clinton made a very strong push against the notion that Saddam Hussein should be rewarded in any fashion for his continuing pursuit of WMD capacity. President Clinton knows this issue very well, he used facts and figures, including on the amount of money that Saddam Hussein has put into his defense establishment as a result of oil revenues.
Q Was there anything sort of tongue-in-cheek or otherwise regarding NMD with Putin sort of congratulating Clinton for a wise decision, given that it's so much what the Russians wanted, which is to --
DEPUTY SECRETARY TALBOTT: The answer is no, okay?
MR. TIMBIE: We're serious on that.
DEPUTY SECRETARY TALBOTT: Tongue-in-cheek satisfaction of that kind would not be in order, because I think -- I know that President Putin understands that the NMD issue is not off the table, it's not solved. There is going to have to be over time a change in the way that, not just the United States, but other countries, too, pursue active defense -- by which I mean antimissile defense.
The ratio of active defense to what might be called pure deterrence is going to have to change because of the way in which the world has changed. And I think what has happened in the last week is that there is a clarification that this is an issue that will need to be resolved between President Putin and the next American president. President Putin understands that. I would say he took this just as seriously as it deserved.
Q Did President Putin give any answer to the Pope when Clinton talked about Pope? Did he say anything?
DEPUTY SECRETARY TALBOTT: I'd rather not say anything more on Pope, except that the President did raise it again very clearly, and they did have an exchange on the subject.
Q Did he tell Putin that there would be any kind of repercussions if --
DEPUTY SECRETARY TALBOTT: I'm not going any further on that.
Q Strobe, are you in a position to say anything more about President Clinton today calling for reforms in the peacekeeping -- U.N. peacekeeping mission? What does he want to do with that?
DEPUTY SECRETARY TALBOTT: I think the only aspect of that, that he addressed with President Putin, and therefore the only one that I want to comment on here, is on the scale of assessments questions.
Q Strobe --
DEPUTY SECRETARY TALBOTT: He made a -- by the way, Ambassador Holbrooke joined in the prebrief -- that is, when Secretary Albright and Sandy Berger and a couple of the rest of us talked to President Clinton before the meeting -- Ambassador Holbrooke was there, and the issue did come up in the small meeting between the two Presidents.
Q So what did he say about the scale of assessments again? I'm sorry.
DEPUTY SECRETARY TALBOTT: You know what the American position and we can certainly flesh it out for you. He made the case for that -- and he made the case also in the context of Russia's role, which is to say Russia is a founding member; then, of course, in the capacity of the Soviet Union, is a founding member of the United Nations, and Russia, as a permanent member of the Security Council.
Q On NMD, was it evident --
Q -- pick up like its own scale of assessments, is that what you're saying?
DEPUTY SECRETARY TALBOTT: Yes.
Q On NMD, was it evident that the President's decision last week took some of the tension or pressure off the meeting?
DEPUTY SECRETARY TALBOTT: Yes.
Q It was?
DEPUTY SECRETARY TALBOTT: Yes.
Q -- their relationship? Was their relationship any different?
DEPUTY SECRETARY TALBOTT: No. They've now seen each other -- since Mr. Putin's been President, I believe three times. About three times. They have a very comfortable and, at the same time, I would say, sort of no-nonsense, businesslike relationship.
END 1:08 P.M. EDT