THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary (New York, New York) ________________________________________________________________________ For Immediate Release September 8, 2000
BACKGROUND BRIEFING TO THE POOL ON P-5 MEETING BY SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL
The Waldorf Astoria Hotel New York, New York
12:55 P.M. EDT
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: The P-5 meeting yesterday was, we thought, fairly remarkable. So my other Senior Administration colleague here can --
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: My colleague is right. It was an extraordinary meeting -- unscripted, informal -- among President Putin, President Jiang, Prime Minister Blair, President Chirac and President Clinton. The meeting -- I guess it went on for about an hour, hour and a half.
They dealt with, I guess, sort of the third element of, sort of, the way we've been thinking about these three days is the whole issue of renewal of the United Nations, renewal to meet the challenges of the 21st century. They dealt with -- you may have seen the P-5 statement, which was negotiated beforehand, on basically enhancing the capacity of the U.N. to do its job to respond to these new challenges in peacekeeping and complex crises, et cetera.
For us, what was particularly gratifying was the statement recognizing -- all the P-5 recognizing the need for reform of the U.N. system of assessments to recognize the special responsibilities of the P-5 and the increasing development levels of governments around the world.
Let me just say, parenthetically, before I get into some comments about the meeting itself, that we -- the President was very grateful this week when we heard from a number of governments about their willingness voluntarily to support assessment reforms and pay more. And we've heard on that from Antigua, from Bulgaria, from South Korea, from Kuwait, from Malta, from Qatar, from Romania and Slovenia, all of which basically said, we agree, there is this need and we're prepared to move forward and pay more.
In terms of the meeting itself, the P-5, as I said, it was very informal. They spent the bulk of the time talking about the new challenges on peace and security issues, these complex crises in which we're not involved in traditional peacekeeping, where the U.N. isn't simply separating forces that are well organized and well integrated and sitting on opposite sides of the border --- but, rather, complex situations in which governments are requesting the help of the U.N. and the U.N. has really no choice but to be involved.
What they agreed upon coming out of the meeting was, number one -- and this I believe was the first time the P-5 has ever met as the P-5 in this context at the head of state level; there was a Security Council summit in 1992, 1993, but coming out of that I don't think there was a P-5 meeting -- was a common determination, they all agreed a common determination to consult on areas of common concern where our joint efforts could actually make a difference.
A number of leaders made the point that, yes, there are lots of areas in which we disagree, but there are many areas where we have common objectives -- narcotics proliferation, for example; the humanitarian situation in Africa, terrorism -- where we have move in common than our level of cooperation thus far has reflected. And so I think there was a common determination to look at that.
Second, and sort of, I think, the most specific outcome of this was an agreement among the leaders to step up efforts to consult jointly on how we can implement the most critical recommendations of the Brahimi report on peacekeeping. To be sure, not every member of the P-5 will agree with every single word in the Brahimi report, but I think all of the members, all of the heads of state and government believe that the general thrust of the report was right and there are critical fixes, improvements that need to be made. There was an agreement to step up senior level cooperation to help working with the Secretary General, as well as the other U.N. members who have critical stakes in peacekeeping, to see that the critical recommendations are implemented.
And then, finally, they agreed to look at the foreign minister level at other discreet issues in which there could be P-5 common initiatives. There were a number of possibilities discussed. One issue that was discussed a lot in that context -- although, again, they're asking foreign ministers to explore this in greater detail -- was the whole question of international illegality fueling conflict. For example, the diamond trade and the like. And there was some discussion among the leaders about whether that might be another area where more common P-5 efforts could be undertaken.
So, in sum, it was -- again, my colleague used the word "remarkable," I used the word "extraordinary." What was really interesting about the meeting was, A, the informal quality of it, the substantive quality of it and the extent to which all the leaders appreciated the fact that there are very broad and common interests, despite the differences that we have in the Council and elsewhere.
Q Did they talk at all about making the P-5 maybe a P-6, 7 or 8?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Well, first of all, the document, the P-5 document endorses a broadening of the Security Council as well as enhancing its transparency. And there was discussion of the importance of broadening the Council.
As you may know, we, ourselves, made a statement early this year, which I think a number of U.N. members appreciated, when we expressed our willingness to accept a Council that might be slightly larger than even 21 members -- which was a new statement on our part -- and so long as we could so, consistent we efficiency of the Council.
But it would be disingenuous for me to suggest that there aren't some real problems in terms of moving the ball forward there because there are very sharp and differing opinions. But, yes, there was -- the P-5 summit document endorses broadening the Security Council, which is code word for enlarging it. And there was discussion of it during the meeting.
Q Did the subject of oil come up at all, any discussion of --
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: I'm thinking. No.
Q Can you tell us a little bit about the mood of the meeting? This is the last time Clinton is going to be in the room all together with these folks all at once.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: The mood was -- and here I want to be careful because I know I get pretty angry if I hear foreign officials characterizing my President, so it's a little -- I sort of hesitate to characterize the other participants.
But I think in general -- first, again, I said it was informal. No single head of state or government dominated the discussion. Although, there were -- some of the heads of state and government seemed to have prepared scripts, every single one of them at one point -- well, first of all, after their initial presentations they went on for about -- the whole thing, the entire initial presentations maybe went on for about 10 or 15 minutes. After that it was just back and forth.
I think all of the leaders, including President Jiang, spoke informally. And I thought that was -- it was impressive. Sort of the conclusion that I gave, that I've read out, sort of the three conclusions that came up -- generally speaking, those sorts of decisions would have been reflected in the summit document. So the point I'm making is those issues were actually raised in the context of this meeting and the heads of state said, okay. So this is going to be one area where we're going to agree, we're going to go forward, they all said yes.
But it all was sort of organic to the meeting. None of that, none of what I described was reflected in the summit document.
Members expressed appreciation to the President for his eight years and there were very kind words from a number of the members. The President reflected on his eight years and on his relationships with the other heads of state and government. That, as I say, it was generally -- it was a very cordial meeting.
Q Thank you.
END 1:05 P.M. EDT