PRESS BRIEFING BY
NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISOR SANDY BERGER
The Ambassador's Residence
6:05 P.M. (L)
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Well, let me just say we have completed a remarkable day that many people thought would not happen. We have a NATO-Russia Founding Act that does, in fact, manage to put Europe back together after more than 50 years. It is an historic day. All the participants noted that. And I think that we should all be well pleased with the results of what had been a very detailed negotiation that -- (inaudible) -- a balanced approach to our activities in Europe and made sure that Russia is secure within a European system.
MR. BERGER: Let me try to give you some readout from the meeting that just was completed between President Yeltsin and President Clinton. I would characterize it as a comfortable and candid, friendly and quite comprehensive discussion that lasted about an hour. They spent the beginning of the discussion talking about the day, the significance of the NATO-Russia agreement. President Yeltsin was very positive about it, said that it as good for Russia, for the United States, and good for Europe.
They talked about the process that now proceeds from here and the importance of having a meeting of the NATO-Russia Joint Council at some early time. President Yeltsin described it as a balanced act that was important, as I said, for Russia, the United States, Europe and the world. He was very fulsome in his praise for Secretary Albright and Foreign Minister Primakov -- and I've just been slipped $5 for saying that.
The President began, first of all, by going back to Helsinki and talking about how important it was to complete the work that had been catalyzed by Helsinki -- ABM-TMD agreement, START II protocol, bring it to closure, and the debate forward on ratification of START II in the Duma. He also welcomed President Yeltsin's announced intention today to extend the detargeting agreement to all the member states of NATO.
And together they -- (inaudible) -- to discuss, through experts, further confidence building measures to reduce nuclear tensions and dangers. President Yeltsin said that when he got back he will invite the leaders of the Duma to move on all of these agreements, vis-a-vis START II, ABM-TMD, et cetera; in fact, had said he had begun the process of moving on START II before he left.
There was some discussion of Jackson-Vanik and what needs to be done on the Russian side in order for us to move forward with the change in that law, that restriction. They discussed Ukraine and the meeting that is coming up this week
between Presidents Kuchma and Yeltsin -- President Kuchma, as you know, was in Washington last week or in the last two weeks -- and President Clinton expressed hope that that meeting would be a productive one.
They talked about Nagorno Karabakh, where Russia and France and the United States are now co-chairs of the Minsk Process. And the three co-chairs have now reached an agreement on a negotiating initiative, which will be taken to the parties next week. They then moved to economic issues and discussed WTO. President Clinton said he would be very supportive of Russia's accession -- (inaudible) -- the Duma, made some changes in their trade laws which were necessary.
On the question of Denver, the importance that President Yeltsin places on this being the Meeting of the 8. He said that was happening, and now all the nations supported that. He was particularly pleased that the Prime Minister of Japan now supports the move towards a Summit of the 8. They discussed Paris Club membership, and President Clinton said again, as we did in Helsinki, that we were supportive of their admission -- (inaudible) -- actual questions with respect to debt that needed still to be worked out.
There was some discussion of Afghanistan, concerns expressed by President Yeltsin about the border with Tajikstan, Uzbekistan; some discussion of Iran election, the President saying that it was interesting, but that we needed obviously to judge the new government by -- (inaudible) -- that was about it. It was about a one-hour meeting. As I say, it was a very relaxed and very comprehensive discussion.
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: I would just add that -- (inaudible) -- celebratory mood. And I think people feel very good about what has been -- (inaudible) -- as we move forward with what is a historic year in all the ways that we've talked about as far as NATO enlargement and this Founding Act document.
Q -- being removed, this detargeting, which is a lesser thing. Did he --
MR. BERGER: The Russians clarified the steps -- at least the initial steps contemplated by President Yeltsin involved ending the detargeting agreement, which now exists between the United States and Russia and between Russia to the other states of NATO. Whether there are other further confidence-building measures -- we talked about this with the Russians before -- subsequent to that is something that we'll discuss at an expert level meeting. Clearly, I think this is what was the thrust of what both President Yeltsin -- (inaudible.)
Q Could you imagine -- (inaudible) -- is that important --
MR. BERGER: I think it is. I think it's significant. It is, I think, a reflection of the momentum of today in which Russia and NATO enter a new era, a new partnership, is a step that further reduces tension and is a further confidence-building measure.
Q Sandy, was there any indication before today's event that Yeltsin would make the announcement on retargeting? And if not, why wasn't there?
MR. BERGER: Detargeting is the proper word because basically when you detarget you take the code off that has a target in it. No, -- (inaudible) -- not have a prior indication that President Yeltsin would make that announcement, but it was a welcome one.
Q The problem in translation, how is it that we got this translation that U.N. officials officially thought was an indication that the warheads were being removed?
MR. BERGER: Well, I don't know what you were --
(inaudible) -- it wasn't clear from -- (inaudible) -- he had in mind. We've spoken during the afternoon to -- (inaudible) --
President Yeltsin and President Clinton just spoke. I think we clarified in our mind what President Yeltsin had in mind.
Q Sandy, on the further confidence building measures, can you elaborate on that?
MR. BERGER: No, because President Yeltsin didn't elaborate -- (inaudible) -- have further discussions and expert level discussions and we'll see what follows from that.
Q To follow up on the question of detargeting, there's clearly no more deadly question than where nuclear missiles are targeted. This welcomes Russia into a closer security relationship with NATO. Does it give you any cause for concern that the President of Russia should be so apparently imprecise in his language on this that it takes a couple of hours to clarify and find out what exactly was intended?
MR. BERGER: Well, I think a more significant fact here is that a step was taken in the direction of reducing nuclear tensions and I think that's important and significant.
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Could I add to this? First of all, I would call it a mistranslation and we had clarification on this within a few minutes.
Q Mike -- come here and can we get you on camera, if possible, on the Supreme Court's decision today and the significance of that?
MR. MCCURRY: Yes. Obviously, we're -- (inaudible) -- Supreme Court opinion. That's being done now by the President's attorney, Robert Bennett, who will shortly have a statement in Washington on that. And beyond that, we don't have any comment here, not having analyzed the opinion.
Q Mike, I don't think we heard the beginning of your statement. Could you start again, please?
MR. MCCURRY: I just said we're in Paris and that's being done by Mr. Bennett in Washington, and he will have a statement on the opinion shortly. We have no comment on it here because we're not in a position to analyze the opinion.
Q Secretary Albright, is this an occasion to ask you about the Balkans travel? Is it all established now where you're going, and does the U.S. now have a candidate to take over
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: We're still working on part of my agenda, but I will leave for Bosnia after Sintra and I think that we have all come to some agreement on a candidate to replace Mr. -- but I don't think it's appropriate for me to make that announcement here.
Q Will you go to Croatia and Serbia?
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: We're still looking into it.
MR. MCCURRY: Okay, thank you, everyone.
Q Mike, Mike, can you hold on for two seconds? I know you don't want to talk about the legal implications of this Jones decision, but one of the arguments that the President has made is that it will distract from his doing the nation's business. Is what's happening today proof of that?
MR. MCCURRY: I believe that the opinion appears to have distracted all of you, but the President continued to conduct the nation's business today. Okay, thanks, everyone.
THE PRESS: Thank you.
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