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Press Briefing By Mike McCurry, and James Steinberg

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Office of the Press Secretary
(Moscow, Russia)

For Immediate Release September 2, 1998


Hotel National Moscow, Russia

5:42 P.M. (L)

MR. STEINBERG: As we finish our important discussionsherein Moscow, I wanted to give you a little bit of preview of the events,particularly of tomorrow, in Northern Ireland. Actually, the White Houseactivities in Northern Ireland are beginning as we speak. The First Ladyhasjust arrived in Northern Ireland, where she will be concluding the two andahalf day Vital Voices Discussion, which has brought together women's NGOsandgroups from both Northern Ireland and the United States. It's been a veryimportant and well-received conference. Most of the leaders of thepoliticalparties in Northern Ireland have spoken at the conference, and it is goingtohave a lot of follow-on in terms of long-lasting partnerships betweenorganizations in Northern Ireland and the United States. A number ofadministration officials have been participating in that.

I think while there may be some disagreements on the issueofuse of force in the discussions today, there is less and less disagreementinNorthern Ireland on the question of violence. Over the last several days,we've seen a number of developments which are very positive in terms ofgenerating momentum in support of the peace process there. The tragiceventsat Drum Creexx** and Omagh have given a new impetus, I think. It has moreandmore marginalized those who would try to use violence to achieve politicalmeans and given strength to those who were supporters of the agreement thatwas overwhelmingly approved by voters in north and south.

Among the important developments of recent days, as many ofyou know, yesterday the head of Sinn Fein, Gerry Adams, made a veryimportantstatement in which he indicated that the violence in support of thepoliticalprocess is over, done with, and gone. It's a very important andcategoricalstatement, one that was welcomed by the President, by Prime Minister Blair, bythe Taoiseach, Bernie Ahern, and all the major political parties inNorthernIreland, including David Trimble, the head of the Ulster Unionists.

In other events which are happening is that Mr. Trimble,whois the first minister and Seamus Mallon, the Deputy First Minister, will beconvening the leaders of all of the parties, probably next Monday, to trytobegin the work of preparing for the beginning of the Assembly, which willstart in mid-September -- September 14th and 15th. And as we speak, MartinMcGuiness, a senior figure in Sinn Fein, has announced that he will act astheoverseer for Sinn Fein in connection with decommissioning, which is, again,another positive step along the process towards making the Good Fridayagreement a reality and giving support for putting the process into effect.

The President's visit, I think, can be seen in this context astrying to give further impetus to the peace process.

When he arrives tomorrow, the first event will be a meeting firstwith the two leaders, David Trimble and Seamus Mallon, and thenindividual discussions with the leaders of all the politicalparties at Stormont. Although this is not a formal meeting ofthe Assembly, it is part of this process in which the preparatorywork is getting ready for the first formal meetings of theAssembly and, as I say, giving a real sense of opportunity andmovement, which is very important in the early days of this work.

The President will then go from there to give amajor address on the task ahead at Waterfront Hall in Belfast,which is both a symbol of the renewal and the opportunity thatthe peace process has made possible. And by speaking moreformally to the members of the Assembly there, he will have achance to give his perspective on those issues.

I think from there, as you probably know, thePresident is going to go to Springvale, where he will undertake aground-breaking of a new community center that's going to involveeducation not only for young people but for lifelong learning,which is not only important in terms of opportunity for thepeople of Belfast but also reflects a priority of his own, whichis the need to make sure that people have the skills they need totake advantage of the new opportunities that are going to beavailable as the peace process deepens.

He will then go from there to Omagh, the site of theterrible bombing of a few weeks ago, which is not only anopportunity to remember the victims but also to talk about theprocess of healing and reconciliation.

From there he will go to Armagh, for a gathering forpeace, where those of you who will be joining us there will havean opportunity to hear Mary Black, who will headline the program,and a number of the leaders of the process.

So we're very encouraged by some of the developmentsthat we've seen over recent days. There is obviously a lot ofwork to go forward, and the President will speak in some detailto that when he speaks at Waterfront Hall. But I think that, asI say, this week is a week of very encouraging statements that wesee all the parties responding to the challenge. And it'ssomething that we all very much welcome.

Any questions?

Q Did the White House have any involvement indrafting the Adams statement on violence?

MR. STEINBERG: The statement was a statement fromthe parties. We've obviously encouraged for some time for allthe parties, including Sinn Fein, to give an unequivocalstatement. It's something that we have urged on them andsomething that we welcome the fact that they've done it. But thedrafting of the statement is not something that we did ourselves.

Q The White House did not suggest language or inany way help --

MR. STEINBERG: I think other than to suggestunequivocally about what the message ought to be, we did notdraft language. We have been in contact with Sinn Fein. We areregularly in contact with all the parties. This has been apriority for us because, as those of you who go back to it willrecall, in 1995, when the President was in Belfast, he called onall the parties, particularly those associated with theparamilitary movements to renounce -- I mean, the language heused at the time was that the day is gone for violence. And so Ithink it's a positive sense in that the words that Mr. Adams usedechoed what the President had to say three years ago. But we didnot suggest specific language.

Q If I could just wrap up this line ofquestioning, is the Adams statement one hundred percent of whatthe White House and the President wanted to hear?

MR. STEINBERG: I think that in terms of a statementthat is a statement we very much hoped to hear. As I said, itwas welcomed by all the parties committed to the process as wellas the two leaders. Now, of course, but there are stillchallenges ahead, because that is the language, but we still wantto see the actions. The administration, the President stillstrong supports moving forward with decommissioning, as requiredunder the agreement. So as we have always said, it's word anddeed. But I think that these are very strong and unequivocalwords, and for that reason they're quite welcome.

Q Two questions. One, will the President beencouraging in his talks with Trimble, will he be encouragingTrimble to drop his refusal to speak directly to Gerry Adams andSinn Fein? And secondly, both sides agree that the U.S. hasplayed a critical role in getting the peace process to thisstage. How would you define the U.S. role from here on in?

MR. STEINBERG: First, in terms of discussionsbetween the leaders of the parties, we've said from the beginningwe think it's very important for all the parties, particularlythose who are positively supporters of the agreement, to worktogether to make this work; that the without communities andleaders of all the parties have to be able to work together tofind ways to resolve their differences, to develop compromises,to make a political process work.

What we're seeing here and what we so stronglysupport is the transformation of this from a war in the streetsto a true political process in which the people of NorthernIreland have their own institutions that give them an opportunityto have a say over their own lives, to shape their own destiny.That's only going to work if it's politics in its classic sense,in which they come together, they discuss, they debate, disagree,but try to find ways through their problems. So there is goingto be a need for conversations and engagement in all kinds ofdifferent fora, and the more of that the better, as far as we'reconcerned.

In terms of our role, this is something where theUnited States has seen itself in a supporting role to, in thefirst instance, the political parties themselves in NorthernIreland, and the two governments, which have had the lead anddeserve the lion's share of the credit for what's beenaccomplished. It's been the courage of the political parties whotook these steps, supported by tremendous leadership by PrimeMinister Blair and the Taoiseach, Bernie Ahern, as well as theirpredecessors -- Prime Minister Major and John Burton, who broughtthis to pass.

I think it's also fair to say that the President hasbeen deeply engaged in these issues, has really believed thatthis is a process that we ought to support, and that through ourengagement, both politically and economically, that we canprovide support for those who are taking risks for peace,something that the President has personally been engaged in. AndI think that we are able to both to give backing to those thereand to give a sense that the United States is really going tosupport those who make those decisions, that has a real impact.

And I also want to -- I think some of the creditgoes to Irish America, which has also been a very strongsupporter of this process. The President has been able to rallya very, very broadly based sense in the United States that theAmerican Irish community also wants no violence, wants apolitical process. And I think that very strong message from theWhite House, both from the White House and from the people of theUnited States, has had a big impact on the process.

Q Jim, you spoke about the Omagh bombing havingmarginalized some of those actors, but what difference does itmake if they're marginalized? I mean, if there is still acommitted minority, however small it is, that wants to kill thepeace process, what leads you to believe that that won't beeffective?

MR. STEINBERG: I'm convinced that if it is a verysmall minority who is now essentially reviled by the vastmajority of the people of Northern Ireland, that it will beimpossible for them to derail this process.

The difficulty before is that we didn't have apolitical process around which the people who wanted peace couldrally. There was nothing to cling on to, there was nothing tosupport. And you had too many people sort of feeling a sense ofhopelessness so that the people who use violence, while eventhough not supported by the majority, still had some sense thatthere was a legitimacy to their objectives. Now it's clear thatit's not. I mean, the statements that Sinn Fein has made aboutthe so-called "real IRA" are very unequivocal in condemning it.And I think in a situation like that obviously you can't rule outthe possibility that there will be continued acts of violence.But I don't believe that terrorists can operate effectively in anenvironment where the vast, vast majority not only don't supporttheir methods, but don't support their goals.

You can see the fact that the people who wereassociated with the real IRA and their political arm, the32-country group, are on the run. They're defensive, they'reunwilling to stand up and defend the actions that they've taken.And I think it's a very powerful message. Again, that's not tosay there won't be more bombs. There will always be more bombs.But I think when you have both a consensus in a community and aset of institutions that allow people to pursue their aspirationsthrough a political process, that the process can succeed.

Q It sounds like what you're saying is the war isover, a statement that Gerry Adams felt he couldn't make. Do youthink the real IRA are the wrong -- the traditional IRA with acease-fire, Sinn Fein says violence is no longer an option --

MR. STEINBERG: I think there's a real opportunity.I think that obviously this is still a work in progress, that theparties have to transform the very strong commitments that theymade in word and writing, both in the Good Friday agreementitself and in the statements we're hearing from party leaders, toactions on the ground that change the lives of the people. Thepeople have to see the kinds of changes that allow them tobelieve that this process is going to work.

But we're on the right path and the events of thelast couple of days are really encouraging. It's sort of thebeginning of a new year, of a new opportunity for the people ofNorthern Ireland, and an opportunity for a really strong startfor the new Assembly.

Q Given the historic linkages, do you thinkthere's a possibility that Sinn Fein or the IRA could shareinformation about the real IRA with the authorities in Ireland orBritain?

MR. STEINBERG: I would certainly hope that allthose people who are committed to the peace process and committedto exclusively peaceful means would make clear that they are notgoing to in any way harbor or protect those who use violence.I'm not going to predict from here what will be done, but it'scertainly the strong message that the President will bring andthat we are bringing, that there should be no harboring and nocondoning in any way these absolutely reprehensible acts, such asthe action in response to Dumcreeexx** or the bombings in Omagh.There's just no place for it and there should be no shelter forthose people.

Q Will the President have a message for thoseUnionists who are against the agreement, who politically don'tagree with the agreement and think it's selling out theUnionists' position on union with Great Britain.

MR. STEINBERG: I think one of the things that allalong the President has made very clear is that he has been avery strong supporter of the principle of consent. And this issomething that for many Unionists was an important principle.It's one of the things that was a hallmark of the Good Fridayagreement: that nothing will be done and nothing will be changedin terms of the political status of Northern Ireland without theconsent of the people. And I think that that's a very reassuringmessage to all communities, but particularly to many in theUnionist community who have made that important.

I think that the President is going to say, you havea chance for a political process here. You're going to havedisagreements on issues, but it's a democratic process in whichyou will be able to fully express your views. And I think inthat sense it's an opportunity for all of the Unionist communityas well as the Nationalist community.

Q Is he meeting Reverend Paisley?

MR. STEINBERG: I expect that Reverend Paisley willbe at the meeting with the political leaders at Stormont tomorrowmorning; I have no indication to the contrary.

Q Will he meet him individually?

MR. STEINBERG: He will meeting individually withone or two or three leaders of each of the groups. I can't tellyou whether it's -- you know, it's probably going to be more thanthe Reverend Paisley by himself, but it will be with two or threeof the leaders of the DUP.

Q Jim, just a follow-up to the earlier question.Will he tell Mr. Trimble that he believes the Sinn Fein has metMr. Trimble's requirements and therefore he should sit down andtalk with Gerry Adams?

MR. STEINBERG: I think the President has onprevious occasions urged the parties not to put too manypreconditions on discussion. There are a lot of issues in termsof the opportunity to -- in terms of what the legal requirementsare and various aspects of participating in the activities of theAssembly and the like.

But the President favors talk -- even before issueshad been fully resolved, the dialogue and the opportunity todiscuss these issues is extremely important. And so consistentlythe President has urged dialogue and discussion, and he willcontinue to do so.

Q Jim, how much time has the President got toprepare for the trip to Ireland, given the heavy schedule he'shad here in Moscow and before he got here?

MR. STEINBERG: Well, as I think you know, thePresident spends a lot of time and has a deep personalengagement. It's not as if this is something his attention hasbeen away from for a period of time. He's had a number of phonecalls over the past weeks with the leaders, with Prime MinisterBlair, with the Taoiseach. So he's quite engaged and we discussthis daily with him, have for a number of weeks in anticipationof the trip.

But also it's been a rolling process, as you know.The President was deeply involved in helping to bring theagreement about, in supporting the referendum, in supporting theprocess that led to the selection of the Assembly members, indealing with the consequences of the violence this summer. Andso it's something that is continuously part of his work andsomething he has a lot of -- he comes up to speed even as webegin to prepare for the final days of the trip.

Q But just to follow on your answer on Paisley,given that Paisley has condemned the President's involvement inthis, said he wasn't welcome in Northern Ireland, refused tocondemn the killing of the three boys, why would the Presidentwant to meet with Paisley?

MR. STEINBERG: He's a democratically electedleader. We fundamentally disagree with some of the principlesthat Reverend Paisley has taken. But for the very reason, as Isaid, that the President urged dialogue among all the parties, Ithink it's appropriate for the President to meet withdemocratically elected leaders -- particularly, although wedisagree with him, it is certainly the case that they have notadvocated violence. And the President believes very strongly inthe situation that -- he will have a chance to have a discussion.

He doesn't have great illusions that he willnecessarily convince Reverend Paisley of what we're trying toaccomplish or what our role ought to be. But we know that thevast majority of the parties and the people welcome the Presidentcoming there and I think the President feels that it's anopportunity for Reverend Paisley and all the party leaders tohave a chance to say their piece and he's ready to answer them inturn.

Q Is the President bringing any new businessinitiatives or investment initiatives to --

MR. STEINBERG: Well, we're working on a number ofinitiatives, working through the international fund for Irelandand also working with some of the grassroots community leaders tohelp stimulate investment. Secretary Daley was there with thetrade mission earlier this year, in June; he will be part of thisdelegation.

We have some things that are sort of on the verge ofripening and we'll just have to see tomorrow whether -- I thinkthat, again, I think he's going to be able to talk a little bitabout some of the initiatives that we have under way, some ofwhich are near to fruition but not quite there. But he will betalking about some of that tomorrow.

Q Jim, in his press conference the President saidhe had talked with world leaders about the situation withLewinsky, and they had urged him to -- they supported him andurged him to get back to work. Are you aware of conversationslike that? Can you give us any further detail on that?

MR. STEINBERG: Without getting into detail, I thinkthat the President regularly talks to his counterparts. He has avery strong relationship with all of them. He gets a lot ofsupport in general for his leadership. This is a time -- theconversations are typically put in terms of the strong desire forsustained American leadership and their conviction that thePresident can provide that leadership. And in a number ofconversations over the last months, as we faced the Asianfinancial crisis and now the situation in Russia, people lookingto the United States, people looking to the President -- and theyhave a lot of confidence in him and they express that confidenceto him.

Q Did they express to him concern that theinvestigation was taking his time away from his --

MR. STEINBERG: In none of the conversations thatI'm familiar with has that ever been said. As I say, the onething they say is that we support you, that we need the UnitedStates, we know you will provide that leadership, and we're gladthat you're there and doing it.

Q Can I ask you about the Middle East? Do youhave any comment about what seems to be a new crisis in the --any comments about the recent declarations of Netanyahu andPalestinian leaders?

MR. STEINBERG: I think, as we all know, the processof trying to come to closure on an agreement on redeployment hasbeen a difficult one. There's been a number of steps taken overrecent weeks that have brought the parties closer together, butwe obviously want to see that process completed because werecognize that if the process doesn't go forward there's realrisks there and we don't want to see that happen.

So we're working very hard and urging the parties tocome together. I think that we recognize that it's notparticularly useful at this stage to respond to each of thepublic utterances; what we are focusing on is trying to persuadethe parties that the differences can be narrowed, that there isan opportunity to move forward, and we'd very much like to seethem do it.

Q This morning the Prime Minister of Israel --

MR. STEINBERG: I think, as I said, a lot ofstatements get made in the course of this process. I think I'dprefer not to respond to individual ones. Egypt has obviouslybeen an important part of this process, an important partner inthe peace process, and we look to President Mubarak and theEgyptians to continue to play that role.

Q Jim, the President referred in his commentstoday to talking with world leaders about his troubles withMonica Lewinsky and they have urged him to move on. He referredto it twice in one of his answers on that subject. Do you knowwhom he was talking to, with whom he's spoken, and what have theyurged him to do?

MR. STEINBERG: Again, what the President has heardfrom world leaders is that they continue to believe that theUnited States has an indispensable role to play in dealing withworld crises like the Asian financial crisis, like dealing withRussia, like dealing with the problem of the nuclear arms race inSouth Asia. And in many of the conversations leaders will say tothe President, the United States continues to be indispensable,we look to your leadership, we know you're going to provide itand we're strong supporters.

Q Can you name names?

MR. STEINBERG: I could give you -- I mean the namesare all of the leaders that he has talked to over the period ofthe last six or eight months. He's talked to almost every majorworld figure from --

Q And they all brought it up?

MR. STEINBERG: -- and they all say they wantAmerican leadership, they look to American leadership, and theyhave confidence in the President.

Q Mike, obviously, the President anticipated thathe would be asked about the Lewinsky affair at the Kremlin today.Did he give the kind of answer and as full an answer as heintended to to those questions, and will there be otheropportunities?

MR. MCCURRY: On this matter, the Presidentobviously wants to speak from the heart, and he did. He saidwhat he wanted to say, and I don't think it's the role of staffto try to amplify or comment further on his remarks.

Q The President said that he had asked to beforgiven. Can you help us out as to when that was?

MR. MCCURRY: I just gave the answer that I'm goingto give on the subject.

Q Seriously, he said that and I can't find thereference to it.

Q Can you tell us why the President was willing,or decided to, or maybe even planned to address this topic in theKremlin --

MR. MCCURRY: I just gave the answer I'm going togive on these questions.

Q Mike, we were given to understand before thenews conference that there would be four questions on each side.The news conference was obviously cut short. Was that because ofthe Lewinsky questions or because Mr. Yeltsin appeared to havelost his way?

MR. MCCURRY: No. First of all, I take some disputewith your characterization of Mr. Yeltsin. I think he electednot to answer what was obviously a difficult question dealingwith the internal political situation in Russia. It was ouroriginal understanding that there would be four questions perside, and shortly before the press conference we heard from theRussian side that they wanted to make it three and three. And wehad no objection to that.

Q So that was a decision before and not duringthe news conference?

MR. MCCURRY: That's correct. It was just beforethe beginning of the press conference.

Q The President also said today that he hadexpressed regret -- deep regret, I think he said -- to all thosethat had been hurt in this matter, the Lewinsky matter. When didhe express regret to Monica Lewinsky?

MR. MCCURRY: I gave the answer I'm going to give toquestions on this matter already.

Q But he keeps saying he's said things that hehasn't said.

Q The President didn't seem to be aware of thefact it was only going to be three each? He turned around andsaid, "Is that all?" Was he not told of the switch from four tothree?

MR. MCCURRY: I told him before, when we werepreparing, there were going to be four, and then I heard justbefore the press conference that they were going to do three andthree. And I didn't have a chance to tell him that in advance.

Q Mike, while the question certainly wasn't asurprise to the President, was he annoyed, embarrassed, weary ofthe question? What was his reaction afterward?

MR. MCCURRY: I think you saw him answer, you sawhis demeanor, and you can report it as you see fit.

Q Why didn't he take the opportunity, when given,to say something about his tone about Kenneth Starr?

MR. MCCURRY: I gave the answer I'm going to give onthese questions already.

Q In other words, he stands by what he said aboutMr. Starr.

MR. MCCURRY: I gave the answer I'm going to give onthese questions.

Q I didn't hear you.

MR. MCCURRY: Well, you can go back and look at thetape. It's there.

Q Mike, your characterization of Mr. Yeltsin'slast answer was that he was --

MR. MCCURRY: The impression that I had and thatothers -- Ambassador Collins and others who watched him believedthat he did not want to answer that question and elected to givethe answer he did. That's the interpretation that a lot of ourpeople --

Q He looked at the press secretary, as if "helpme out, what should I do here"?

MR. MCCURRY: Well, I saw the press secretarylooking at him as if he wanted to say, is there any more youwanted to say.

Q Let me go at this another way. Was thereanything that the U.S. government, U.S. personnel saw eitherpublicly or privately during the summit that would lead anyone inour government to believe that perhaps Yeltsin is not all there,either mentally or physically?

MR. MCCURRY: I don't think there was anything aboutthe meetings that we've had with President Yeltsin that changesour general understanding of his capabilities, as were expressedto you by the Deputy Secretary of State when he briefedyesterday.

Q So you believe that he is fully mentally andphysically capable?

MR. MCCURRY: I didn't say that. We have --

Q Mike, were any of the meetings with Yeltsinover the last couple of days --

MR. MCCURRY: I didn't say -- look, I don't mean bysaying that that I have any -- would not have exactly thatassessment myself. But we've got confidential assessments wemake and we don't discuss them publicly.

Q Were any of the meetings with Yeltsin over thelast couple of days cut short because the Russian President wasfading?

MR. MCCURRY: No. In fact, as we briefed youyesterday, one ran considerably longer than we had anticipated,the one-on-one format.

Q And actually, why did those meetings run somuch longer? Did it take a long time to answer --

MR. MCCURRY: It's consistent with the pattern --every time they have met, the initial plan is for them to meetone on one and then have an expanded meeting with theirdelegations. And I can't recall a summit between PresidentYeltsin and President Clinton where they've actually gone intothe expanded format. President Yeltsin and President Clintonenjoy doing business directly, and that's the way they tend tomeet.

Q Have you had a readout yet from this meetingwith the opposition leaders?

MR. MCCURRY: I've gotten the same snippets that wehad here. We were not in a position to get all of thePresident's conversations yet, but they are of the kind that youheard characterized earlier.

Q Well, is this answer to whether the Presidentdiscussed with Mr. Zyuganov Zyuganov's view that the countrycould go into civil war?

MR. MCCURRY: They each had their own assessment ofwhere events stand right now, what the implications are forRussia's future. The President's message to them was consistentwith what he said publicly, and I'd rather let those leaders whowish to characterize what they told the President publicly, letthem do that on their own.

Q Mike, back on Yeltsin's health. Not to belaborthe point, but yesterday I think Strobe said that he wasvigorously engaged during the meetings that were held yesterday.That's not an overall assessment, that's just during thosemeetings. You say now that the U.S. view of -- assessment of himhas not changed, so you're talking about an overall assessment,and you're saying that there's confidential information that youwon't discuss. But what is the overall official, publicly madeU.S. view of that?

MR. MCCURRY: I'm just not going to -- I mean, he isthe duly-elected President of Russia and he functions in thatcapacity, and we have worked with him over the course of the lasttwo days to address the items of concern we share bilaterally.And he's been in the position to do that work and represent thepeople who elected him. Beyond that, I'm not going tocharacterize it.

Q But this is a man in control of a seriousnuclear stockpile.

MR. MCCURRY: Well, if you want to talk aboutsafeguard of their command and control or nuclear weapons, we cantalk about that. We have talked about that a lot in the last twodays.

Q Can you talk about the value of these meetingsor this particular meeting, given that there's sort of a limitedoutcome in terms of programmatic or --

MR. MCCURRY: I think that it has been true for along, long time that the drama of superpower summits has givenway to the routine of working through issues that occupy thebilateral relationship that we have with the Russian Federation.I've often said on occasion of other meetings that theextraordinary has now become routine. It is routine now forthese two Presidents to work together to address their commonconcerns, to make sure that we make progress when we can and toaddress the differences in the relationship that come up whenthere are differences, as there clearly are.

That is the purpose, that is -- not an insignificantpurpose for a meeting like this at a time of some turmoil and ata time when Russia is still in a position for a lot of differentreasons to be a nuclear power and to have some influence onevents in this region, on this continent, and elsewhere in theworld.

Q Back on the meeting with the oppositionleaders, your colleague said that everyone talked about notwanting to go back, I assume to a Soviet style system. And yethe refused to really give an encouraged assessment of what theywere saying, that there wasn't any real sign that they wouldcommit to the reforms necessary.

MR. MCCURRY: No, I think I'd characterize what hesaid a little differently. He said that there was not aunanimous view of what that future would be or what it wouldlike, and there are different -- different of those leaders willsay different things about how they perceive the immediate futureand what the future needs to be, and some of them already havepublicly.

Q So you are encouraged that when the politicaldust settles, there is a prospect that they will go along --

MR. MCCURRY: Well, we can't predict that future inany certainty, but we can sure say that we've done everythingthat we can do, representing the United States and the people ofthe United States, to try to make that more hopeful outcome areality.

Q Mike, the President has said repeatedly nowthat he wants this matter -- the investigation, I presume he'stalking about -- over with, and wants to get on to do his job.What does the White House want to see happen now?

MR. MCCURRY: The same thing that the Presidentwants to see.

Q But I'm saying specifically, what do you wantto see happen?

MR. MCCURRY: We want just to see things wrapped up,however they get wrapped up.

Q But he said he wanted to give the people theirgovernment back. What did he mean by that?

MR. MCCURRY: I already gave you the answer I'mgoing to give on that question.

Q Just to my question, when you say "wrapped up,"do you want Starr to stop?

MR. MCCURRY: No, he's got -- he's going to bringhis -- we can't advise him on how to conclude his work, but atsome point he's going to have to conclude his work, presumably.Maybe not. Maybe it's going to go on forever. One would think,and he has indicated publicly, that he wants to conclude hiswork. Our hope is that that happens.

Q So, if I may follow up, so he concludes hiswork, he gives a report to Congress and then --

MR. MCCURRY: I don't know that. I don't know howhe will proceed.

Q I understand, but I'm asking -- the Presidenthas said he wants it over with. I'm trying to figure out whatthe White House wants to have happen. A report goes to Congressand Congress just --

MR. MCCURRY: David, I can't predict for you. Idon't know that there is going to be a report even. Maybe therewill be; maybe there won't be. I don't know. I don't know howMr. Starr will go about the business of bringing his work to aconclusion. I can't predict that.

Q The President called the meeting betweenTreasury Secretary Rubin and Japanese Finance Minister Miyazawaprofoundly important. Could you give us a readout on what theU.S. wants to accomplish in that meeting in San Francisco?

MR. MCCURRY: Well, it's a very important moment aswe look at the global economy. We've been focused on Russia andsome of the tension in emerging markets. But you need to thinkabout the pivotal role that the Japanese economy plays in Asia ata time the Asian regional economy is struggling to get back on agrowth path, and recognize that the health of that economy andits capacity to make investments and to make purchases and toimport goods and services from its other neighboring economies isvital to the future of that region.

And how the new Japanese government will go aboutpursuing the policies of reform that are necessary dealing withsome of the issues that we have long stressed in our own meetingswith will be of keen interest to the Treasury Secretary, toothers in our government, and to the President as well.

Q Are there any concrete accomplishments you wantto see come from the meeting, any considerable --

MR. MCCURRY: We've talked a lot about the kinds ofthings that we would like to see. I don't want to enumerate allof them, but we've talked about the importance of banking,reforms in the banking sector dealing with some of the assetquestions that clearly exist, doing those things to stimulatedomestically demand-led economic growth so that there is asustained basis for rising imports in Japan, and certainly moreexport activity for countries like the United States and othersin Asia.

There are other things as well that have beensuggested with respect to how they structure their macroeconomicpolicy, how they deal with monetary policy, and I'll leave it tothose that will speak at Treasury to address some of those thingsfurther.

Q Mike, how has the President responded to JudgeWebber Wright's footnote raising the specter of citing him forcontempt?

MR. MCCURRY: If I understand correctly, the WhiteHouse Legal Counsel Office back in Washington has issued astatement on that.

Q What is it?

MR. MCCURRY: I don't have it, but you can get itfrom them.

Q They wouldn't tell you?

Q You haven't discussed this with the President?

MR. MCCURRY: I just don't have the exact word --it's to the effect that --

MR. LOCKHART: The President testified truthfully inhis January 17th deposition.

MR. MCCURRY: You can get that from Jim Kennedy.

Q Testified truthfully to the January 17thdeposition? Not the --

MR. LOCKHART: Call Joe Kennedy, you're asking mefrom memory.

MR. MCCURRY: They've been dealing with that backhome.

Q Have you discussed that with the President?

MR. MCCURRY: No, I have not heard any discussion ofthat here with the President. I don't know whether he's talkedto anyone back home about it or not.

Q Does he have any plans at all tonight, for therest of the day?

MR. MCCURRY: His plans, I think, are to stay in.He had some phone calls he was going to make tonight and I thinkhe's -- his current plan was to stay in. If that changes, we'lllet you know.

Q Is he going to be talking to other worldleaders about the summit in those phone calls that he's making?

MR. MCCURRY: If he does, we'll let you know.

Q To follow up on Jim Steinberg's answer, has thePresident specifically talked about the Lewinsky controversy withother foreign leaders, and if so --

MR. MCCURRY: My impression, just to add -- and Idon't have anything to add to what Jim said on that -- but Idon't have the impression that he has discussed it specificallywith anyone. I think the conversation has been more general,general references of the nature that Jim mentioned to youearlier.

Q He said he had. I mean, didn't you hear him?

MR. MCCURRY: Well, I think how Jim described it isvery accurate.

Q I mean the President. Isn't that what hesaid at his news conference?

MR. MCCURRY: That's exactly what the Presidentsaid.

Q Well, you don't think he meant it?

MR. MCCURRY: He talked about it in a generalfashion with the people that he's chosen to talk to about it. Idon't think he's talked specifically about it.

Q Excuse me for interrupting. Staff is surprisedby that statement by the President?


Q Was the staff generally unaware that he hadtalked to foreign leaders?

MR. MCCURRY: I think most of us who are familiarwith his conversations with other leaders in the world were notat all surprised by what the President said.

Q It's been reported that sometimes you givereadouts of conversations he had, talking about --

MR. MCCURRY: I think the readouts we gave wereexactly like the ones that you got from Jim moments ago.

Okay, what else? All right, we're done.

Q The statement from Kennedy's office, can we getit here? If it's a written statement, can you ask them?

MR. MCCURRY: We can, yes. We can get it, make sureit's available.

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Briefings - Sept 2nd

Press Briefing By Mike McCurry, and James Steinberg

Press Briefing By Senior Administration Officials