T H E   W H I T E   H O U S E

Joint Press Conference by President Clinton and President Kim of South Korea

Help Site Map Text Only

The Briefing Room

Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release June 9, 1998


Room 450
Old Executive OfficeBuilding

3:40 P.M. EDT

PRESIDENT CLINTON: Good afternoon. President Kim,members of the Korean delegation, let me first say again what aprivilege it has been to welcome President Kim back to the UnitedStates and here to the White House. His remarkable life historyreminds us that from Seoul to its sister city, San Francisco, peopleeverywhere share the same aspirations -- for freedom, for peace, forthe opportunity of prosperity.

President Kim once wrote from his prison cell, "Ifwinter comes, can spring be far behind?" This morning I reaffirmed oPresident Kim our deep confidence in his efforts to reform the Koreaneconomy, liberalize trade and investment, strengthen the bankingsystem, and implement the IMF program. As he has said on manyoccasions, open markets and open democracies reenforced one another.The United States will continue our strong support for Korea's reformefforts.

In this context, I reaffirmed our commitment to providebilateral finance if needed under appropriate conditions. We alsodiscussed a number of concrete steps to promote growth in both ourcountries. We explored ways to more fully open markets and tofurther integrate the Republic of Korea into the global economy,including new discussions on a bilateral investment treaty. Wesigned an Open Skies agreement which permits unrestricted air servicebetween and beyond our countries.

I expressed my appreciation for the decision by KoreanAirlines to purchase over $1 billion worth of Boeing airplanes, andI'm pleased to announce that the Overseas Private InvestmentCorporation has determined that Korea is again eligible for OPICprograms, in response to recent steps taken to protect worker rights.We also discussed the situation on the Korean Peninsula andreaffirmed the importance of our strong defense alliance.

Korea is a safer place today than it was five years ago,with a reduced nuclear threat, improved dialogue between North andSouth. The United States applauds President Kim's efforts towardreconciliation. Now we hope North Korea will respond further toPresident Kim's gestures and that the four-party talks will make --will soon resume, because we think they also can make a crucialcontribution to progress.

I am pleased that yesterday, for the very first time,the United Nations command and the North Korean military reached anagreement to hold general officer talks designed to resolve andprevent armistice-related problems along the DMZ. On specificmatters, I thanked President Kim for his commitment to providepeaceful sources of energy to North Korea, and I repeated ourdetermination to resolve problems over funding heavy fuel oil forNorth Korea as part of our agreement, reached in 1994, to freeze itsnuclear program.

We will continue to provide food and humanitarianassistance and urge our allies to do the same. And we pledge neverto give up the search for missing Americans.

President Kim and I discussed and shared concerns aboutthe nuclear tests by India and Pakistan. Korea has lived with thethreat of war for nearly five decades. The last thing the people ofAsia need now is a nuclear arms race. South Korea has set a shiningexample for nonproliferation by abandoning nuclear weapons, acceptingsafeguards, and developing a peaceful nuclear program that bringsbenefits to the region.

And the Korean people have demonstrated the universalityof democratic aspirations, bringing a springtime of hope andencouragement to advocates for greater freedom throughout Asia.

Over the last half century, America has been blessed bythe presence of Korean Americans and Korean students living andlearning with us. Soon we will be offering new work-study benefitsthat will allow Korean students here in the United States to supportthemselves while in school.

Mr. President, your example reminds Americans what isvery precious about our own democracy. I thank you for your visit.I thank you for your lifetime of commitment. When I go to Asia intwo weeks, I will do so with the firm faith in the future of adynamic and democratic part of the world, in no small measure becauseof your life and your triumphs.

Thank you.

PRESIDENT KIM: Today, I had my first meeting withPresident Clinton since my inauguration. We engaged in a broadexchange of views on the situation on the Korean Peninsula and inNortheast Asia as a whole.

At the time of President Clinton's first inaugurationthe United States faced a difficult economic situation. In the fiveyears since then, President Clinton has transformed the Americaneconomy into the world's most competitive, producing new jobs,reducing unemployment and achieving a balanced budget. PresidentClinton has also been unsparing in his efforts to maintain worldpeace, from Bosnia to Haiti, and to promote greater respect for humanrights and democracy.

I attach great significance to my first summit meetingwith a leader of such outstanding ability. In this meeting,President Clinton and I agreed to develop Korea-American relations toa higher level of partnership for the 21st century. We also agreedto work together to promote the security and prosperity not only ofthe Korean Peninsula, but of the entire Asia Pacific region,as well as the development of democracy in Asia on the basis of ourshared values of democracy and market economy.

President Clinton and I are strongly of the view thatclose Korean-American relations are based above all on our securityalliance for the preservation of peace on the Korean Peninsula. Iexplained my new administration's engagement policy toward NorthKorea and asked for the United States' support and cooperation.President Clinton assured me of his full support and cooperation inthis regard.

We agreed to further consider ways of promotingreconciliation and cooperation and the building of a lasting peaceregime on the Korean Peninsula through the pursuit of the four-partypeace talks and South-North dialogue in a parallel and complementarymanner. President Clinton and I agreed that progress in South-Northrelations and the improvement of U.S.-North Korean relations shouldbe promoted in harmony. We also shared the view that the light-waterreactor project in North Korea contributes to nuclearnonproliferation efforts on the Korean Peninsula and in the world asa whole, as well as to the strengthening of peace and security inNortheast Asia. We thus agreed to continue to cooperate closely topromote the project.

President Clinton and I also held in-depth discussionson the measures to overcome the current economic crisis facing ournation. I expressed my gratitude for the timely assistance of theUnited States during our foreign exchange crisis. I explained theresults of our efforts to stabilize the financial sector andreconfirmed our resolve for a continued reforms. I explained theefforts of our government to promote active and bold openings toinduce foreign investments, and to institutionalize these efforts, weagreed to work out a bilateral investment treaty.

I also explained that for an early resolution of theeconomic crisis Korea needs increased investment and financialcooperation, and asked that the United States take a leading role inthe assistance for our efforts to overcome the economic crisis.

President Clinton welcomed our efforts to overcome thefinancial crisis, including the economic reform measures. He saidthat our overcoming the economic crisis will have a positive effecton the resolution of the economic crisis in Asia and is in theinterest of the United States, and that the United States will beunsparing in rendering all possible assistance.

President Clinton and I both strongly feel that the IMF,IBRD and ADB have played important roles in enabling Korea toovercome the economic crisis. President Clinton and I also share theview that all economic trade issues between our two countries shouldbe resolved in a mutually beneficial and amicable way throughdialogue and consultation, and agreed to work together toward thatend.

Thank you.

PRESIDENT CLINTON: Thank you very much. Now we willalternate questions. I will call on a member of the American presscorps, and then President Kim will call on a member of the Koreanpress corps. And we'll begin with Helen.

Q I have a question for each President. PresidentClinton, is the United States ready to remove sanctions against NorthKorea as proposed by President Kim?

President Kim, when will American troops be able to comehome from the DMZ?

PRESIDENT CLINTON: Two for two there. First let me saythat we discussed this matter in real candor. President Kim did notask me to lift sanctions. What he asked me to do was to work withhim to support a policy of reciprocity which would enable us to moveforward with the reconciliation of the North and the South. And Isaid that I would be prepared to do that.

As you know, with regard to the specific sanctions,there are basically three categories of sanctions the United Stateshas with regard to North Korea. At least one, and perhaps two wholecategories would require, in my view, some legislative change to bemodified. But there is some executive flexibility here. What I toldPresident Kim I would do is to work with him.

I am encouraged at the bold vision and the confidencethat he brings to this, and the genuine concern for the welfare ofpeople in both nations. And I think that his initiatives, plus whatwe can do in the four-party talks with some issues that properlybelong there, can really lead us to some progress here in the nextfew months and year. So I'm very hopeful.

PRESIDENT KIM: I do not intend to say anything thatwould interfere with American policy-making, but I do wish to saythat our new government will approach the North Koreans based upon astrong security alliance with the United States, but withflexibility, and to forge an atmosphere in which we can induce theNorth Koreans to open up, to encourage the moderate elements in NorthKorea.

We have nothing to fear from North Korea. To inducethem to open up will be beneficial to the interests of our twocountries, but to the peace of the Peninsula and Northeast Asia ingeneral. Thus, if the United States should ease sanctions againstNorth Korea, the when and how and the content would be a decision forthe American government to make, but we would not oppose and we wouldcooperate.

Q A question to Mr. Clinton, President Clinton.According to the Geneva agreement, the United States is to providecrude oil to the North, and South Korea plays a central role inproviding the light water nuclear reactors, but I understand theAmerican government has requested our government to share some of thecosts of the crude oil being provided to North Korea. What is yourposition now?

PRESIDENT CLINTON: The North Koreans, as you probablyknow, have asked for the provision of crude oil and more under theagreement. And in the last few -- several days, I have been able toinvoke some provisions of American law which will permit me tofulfill our commitment there. Once we fulfill our commitment there,then we have to see where we are with the North Koreans and whetherothers will have to do more.

But you're correct, the most important thing thatPresident Kim can do is to reaffirm the commitment of South Korea tofund 70 percent of the light water reactor, which he has done. Andso I believe he has fulfilled his commitment and I think I'm nowquite confident that I will be able to fulfill America's commitmentunder this agreement.

Q Mr. President, the tobacco bill appears on theverge of collapse in the Senate. Today the Senate rejected anattempt to force a vote on the bill. Would you accept a limitedmeasure to reduce teen smoking and at the same time meet Republicanobjections that the McCain bill taxes too much and spends too much?

PRESIDENT CLINTON: Well, first of all, I don't agreewith that. I think it's clear that one of the things that will leadto a reduction in teen smoking is making cigarettes more expensive.And secondly, it's clear that we need to raise some funds to helpstates and the federal government defray the costs of paying forhealth bills related to smoking and to do the necessary medicalresearch and to have the anti-smoking programs.

Now, having said that, it's my information -- and yoursmay be more up to date than mine, but I did talk to Senator Lott andSenator Daschle this afternoon -- and we're working hard to get thisthing back on track and get into a position where a goodcomprehensive bill can pass the Senate. And as of just a few minutesbefore I came over here, I think there may be some developments thisafternoon and this evening which will make that possible. And so I'mjust going to hang on and hope for the best and keep working at this.

Q What are those developments?

PRESIDENT CLINTON: Well, we'll see, we'll see. We'reworking on it. But I do believe that the possibility of getting acomprehensive bill out of the Senate is greater now than it was thismorning. There are still problems, to be sure, but we're gettingcloser to, I think, a principled compromise. I hope we are.

President Kim, would you like to call on someone?

Q The two of you have said that you will pursue thefour-party talks and enter Korean dialogue in harmony. Do yourecognize Korea's leading role in this process?

PRESIDENT CLINTON: -- the difficulties on the KoreanPeninsula, and I think when there is movement, as there is now, beingled by the Korean President, the United States should do all in itspower to support that movement. That is what we have tried to do inother parts of the world. That is the sort of thing that led to asuccessful conclusion recently to the Irish peace process, with avote of the people in Northern Ireland and Ireland.

I do think there are some discrete issues which, becauseof the terms of the Armistice, can perhaps best be handled in thefour-party talks. But the lead in all this should be the lead takenin the resolution by the parties themselves, between North and SouthKorea. And we will do what we can to support President Kim in thatregard, and to support the North Koreans insofar as they respond in apositive way.

Would you like to answer, Mr. President?

PRESIDENT KIM: As President Clinton has said, I agreeentirely. The non-aggression, arms reduction -- these should bedealt with in the four-party talks. As for inter-Korean exchanges incooperation, that should be dealt with in the bilateral inter-Koreandialogue. The bilateral talks can be taken within the four-partyframework or outside of that.

Q Mr. President -- actually for both of yougentlemen. I wonder if you could give us your assessment of thesituation in North Korea and just how dangerous the food shortagesthere make it. And also if the two of you could share your thoughtsabout the leader of North Korea, Kim Chong-il, who has remained kindof a mystery to much of the world. Do you feel he's someone who canbe trusted?

PRESIDENT KIM: First of all, regarding Kim Chong-il, Idon't think anybody knows well enough about him. Based upon ourexperience it's very difficult to say that you can trust a communist.But we feel the need to negotiate, and once you've reached anagreement, to hold them up to that agreement.

The North Korean regime at present is faced with manydifficulties still. It is relatively stable and I don't think it isgoing to collapse all that easily. But, of course, the foodsituation, the overall economic situation is very bad. Normally,you could say that you cannot continue a regime based on such adifficult economic situation, but our intent is to persuade NorthKorea, to make it feel safe in opening up and so that it canresuscitate itself, follow the model set by China and Vietnam, and sothat it can overcome such a hard situation at present.

If it remains in such a hard situation, it may decide togo the road of military provocation, or if it stays the course, itmay simply collapse and that will fall on our lap. So, for peace,for stability on the Korean Peninsula, we need to induce North Koreato open up and to regain the strength to live and grow on its own.And we have to help it in doing so.

PRESIDENT CLINTON: I agree with President Kim'sassessment of the leadership in North Korea. Let me just say, withregard to the food situation, it is serious, and we are concernedabout it. The United States and South Korea have led the way inproviding food to North Korea. And I'm actually quite concerned thatthe U.N. appeal which goes out periodically has not -- to othercountries -- has not been fulfilled. And so I would hope that othercountries that could also make a contribution that typically havewhen the U.N. has made such appeals, will do so. I think we have todo whatever we can to avoid severe malnutrition or worse.

But, ultimately, the answer is not an annual foodappeal. Ultimately, the answer is structural change in North Koreathat would permit them to feed themselves and to purchase whateverfoodstuffs they need from beyond their borders that they cannotgrow. And that, I think, requires a positive response to PresidentKim's outreach, a rapprochement, a beginning of a resolution, and ashe said, an opening up.

It was very interesting -- I never heard anyone say itquite this way before President Kim said to me this morning that ifChina can begin to open up and Vietnam can begin to open up and theycan have very good results from doing so, then it's predictable thatNorth Korea would get the same kind of good results if they wouldtake the same path.

Q Regarding KEDO and the sharing of the cost, 90percent for Japan and Korea; the remaining 10 percent is the problem.Korea has asked America to share that 10 percent. The other questionis on economic cooperation. You agreed on an investment treaty andyou promised continued assistance and economic cooperation. Havethere been other concrete pledges of assistance regarding the Koreaneconomic situation?

PRESIDENT CLINTON: Well, of course, we were veryinvolved in the early assistance to Korea and we have an emergencycommitment should it be needed. My belief is that it will not beneeded because I think your country will do quite well now. Inaddition to that, I committed today to ask the Secretary of Commerce,Mr. Daley, to organize a trade and investment mission to Korea assoon as it can practically be carried out. And we will continue todo that.

With regard to KEDO, we have actively worked not only tosecure funding to implement the accord we made with North Korea tosuspend its nuclear program in all of its aspects, but also to makesure the United States gave as much as we reasonably could. And thisis a conversation that I hope President Kim will also be able to havewith the leaders of the Congress, because I think there is a greatdeal of support for him in our Congress, even though there has beenfrom time to time lukewarm support for KEDO. And I think many of ourmembers of Congress wrongly have viewed KEDO as something we weredoing for North Korea instead of something we were doing for thestability of the Korean Peninsula, the safety and security of ourallies and friends in South Korea and for the cause of defusingnuclear tensions everywhere.

In the wake of these nuclear tests in India and PakistanI would think everyone all over the world would feel a biggerinterest in seeing the agreement with North Korea be fullyimplemented.


Q Mr. President, a two-part question on your policytowards China. The first part is there is a broad range of humanrights activists, from Gary Bauer on the right to Kerry Kennedy Cuomoon the left who have appealed to you to avoid a visit to TiananmenSquare during your upcoming visit to China. Will you go to TiananmenSquare, as some of your advisors say you must given the protocol ofthe Chinese government?

And the second part of the question is, why did youresist the advice of the Justice Department last February and giveLoral a license to export another satellite to be launched on aChinese missile, even while the Justice Department was in the midstof a criminal investigation of Loral for allegedly providingtechnology information to China?

PRESIDENT CLINTON: Well, let me answer the questions inreverse order. I didn't resist the advice of the Justice Department.I took the advice of the National Security Council, the DefenseDepartment, the State Department, and the Arms Control andDisarmament Agency. The statute gives the State Department theresponsibility to make a recommendation, and then gets theopportunity -- the Defense Department and the Arms Control andDisarmament Agency are given the opportunity to concur. The NationalSecurity Council also gave the Justice Department the opportunity tomake whatever comments they wanted, evaluated all that, and concludedthat I should approve the satellite. It was sent to me in a decisionmemo which I approved.

And as you have seen from the practice in previousadministrations and from all the evidence, it was, from my point ofview, a pretty routine decision that I thought, on balance, if allthose agencies felt that it was the right thing to do and itfurthered our national interests, that I would do so.

Now, in terms of the trip to China, my own view is thatif this is going to be a state visit to China and I am going to bethe guest of the Chinese, that they should be designing the terms ofthe arrival ceremony, not me. I simply don't accept the propositionthat observing their diplomatic protocol in any way undermines mycapacity to advance the principles of the United States.

I appreciated the encouragement reflected in the ad Isaw in the paper from a rather wide array of people, with a letterfrom Billy Graham and the statement from the Dalai Lama. PresidentKim and I talked about it today. I think in view of the -- again Iwould say, in view of the recent economic events in Asia and thenuclear tests on the Indian subcontinent, it should be clearer thanever before that we have a strong national interest in developing aconstructive, positive relationship with China.

Because of that relationship, I think it has been mademore likely that political descent would be more respected -- severalpolitical dissidents have been released from imprisonment sincePresident Jiang came here, and I intend to make our views clear andunambiguous. But I think that what Americans should want me to do isto make sure that I am as effective as possible not only in advancingour interests, but in standing up for our values. And I'm going todo what I think is likely in the short run and over the long run tomake our country the most effective.

Q -- increase of social -- and thus it is verynatural for Korean government to try to use their own budget to havesocial -- having said that, one part of Korean budget is devoted todefense budget. And I want to know are you in favor of an idea thatwe use the defense budget, to use that money to help the socialproblems?

And just one more thing. I believe you have said thatyou have talked with President Kim that to promote economic growthbetter, so what would be special measure to promote economic growth?Do you think Korea might need a kind of Korean version of -- planfrom the first war, that Korea might need a kind of -- to stimulateKorean economy?

PRESIDENT CLINTON: Let me try to answer both questions,and if I might, I'd like to answer the second question first.

Your country has had a remarkable record of economicgrowth by any standard over the last few decades. I believe what hashappened here is a bump in the road if you stay with the necessaryreform to reach the next level of development. All the evidence wehave -- not just concerning Korea, but even concerning the UnitedStates and then countries that have a far smaller per capita incomethan Korea -- is that no government program can offset the flightof investment capital out of a country. And whether anyone likes itor not, all this money can move around the Earth in a matter ofseconds.Therefore, I believe that the best social policy for Korea right nowis an economic policy that will restore real growth as soon aspossible. That is what will drive down unemployment. It will driveup family incomes. It will help families stay together and take careof older family members and do all the things that make a society agood society.

If I could do anything in the world for Korea just as amagician, if I were a dictator of the world, I would restore highgrowth rates to your country tomorrow, and then the Korean peoplethemselves would work through these problems in no time.

So that brings me to the next point. I think,therefore, that the most important thing I can do as the UnitedStates President and the friend of Korea is to restore the OverseasPrivate Investment Corporation guarantees for financing to make sureyou know there will be emergency support in the event you need it --that will make it less likely that you will need it -- to get thisinvestment mission going to your country and to do anything else Ican to try to support growth.

Now, your first question. I have to answer that the wayPresident Kim answered the first question to me. That is, noPresident of one country can make a judgment about the nationalsecurity needs of another country. But I will say this: obviously,if the security situation in Korea improves to the point that you canreduce defense spending as a percentage of overall spending, thatfrees up investment for the other human needs of the country to builda stronger social contract.

However, security always comes first. Therefore, as anoutsider I would say what President Kim is doing in showing thevision and the confidence in your people to reach out to North Koreaand encourage them to change and encourage a reduction in tensions isthe path most likely to change the security reality. As the securityreality changes, then you can change the security budget. But thebudget must follow the reality. And I think he's doing that.

Again, I would encourage the leader of North Korea andall those in influence there to respond to his farsighted overturesand let's get this show on the road, as we say in America.

Thank you very much.

Q Kosovo, sir?

PRESIDENT CLINTON: If I could say one word about Kosovo

Q Whether U.S. forces might be needed?

PRESIDENT CLINTON: Well, I have authorized and approvedaccelerated NATO planning. And we are supporting and working withthe British to get the strongest possible resolution through theUnited Nations. We're still trying to work out the wording of the

resolution, but we have no dispute over the phrase that you havefocused on, which is to use all necessary means to try to avoidethnic cleansing and the loss of human life.

Let me say, all of you know that this is a very thornyproblem, and while we're all worried about -- deeply worried aboutseeing a repeat of what happened in Bosnia, we know there are somefactual and legal differences between the two entities. But the mainthing is that I am determined to do all that I can to stop a repeatof the human carnage in Bosnia and the ethnic cleansing. And I haveauthorized, and I am supporting, an accelerated planning process forNATO. And, as I believe both the Secretary of State and theSecretary of Defense said yesterday, we have explicitly said that wedo not believe any options should be taken off the table.

Thank you.

THE PRESS: Thank you.

President and First Lady | Vice President and Mrs. Gore
Record of Progress | The Briefing Room
Gateway to Government | Contacting the White House
White House for Kids | White House History
White House Tours | Help | Text Only

Privacy Statement

What's New - June 1998

National Ocean Conference

Equal Pay Act

Family Re-Union Conference

Portland State University Commencement

Ocean Conference

South Asia

Thurston High School Remarks

National Ocean Conference

Presidential Scholars

Bulletproof Vest Partnership Grant Act

ISTEA Legislation

SAVER Summit

Speaks to DLC

National Ocean Conference, Plenary Session

New Efforts to Protect Our Oceans

The Opening of the Thoreau Institute

Oceans Announcements

Fight Against Drugs

Welcoming Ceremony in Xian, China

Korean President Kim Dae Jung

Roundtable Discussion in Xiahe, China

President Kim of South Korea

Deadbeat Parents Punishment Act

21st Century Community Learning Grants

Pritzker Awards Dinner

Nominations of Bill Richardson and Richard Holbrooke

Remarks to Religious Leaders

Family Re-Union Media Advisory

Meeting With Economic Advisors

Conference Address

A Fair, Accurate Census

New Data On Teen Smoking

Roundtable Discussion Remarks

Landmark Agricultural Bill

Conference Remarks

Denver Broncos, Super Bowl Champions

Family Re-Union Press Release

U.S.-China Relations in the 21st Century

Roundtable Discussion in Shanghai, China.

MIT Commencement Address

Commencement Address to MIT Graduates