June 22, 1999
The Administration has constitutional and foreign policy concerns with H.R. 1175 and wants to work with Congress to address them. The bill would infringe on the President's exclusive authority to conduct U.S. diplomatic relations. Importantly, H.R. 1175 would mandate in law a diplomatic agenda and timetable with respect to the missing in action (MIA) soldiers which would not advance and may in fact hurt U.S. efforts to discover more information about these soldiers.
The Administration has been consistently and actively engaged diplomatically on Middle East issues and has vigorously pursued the cases of these missing soldiers. To that end, the Administration has investigated and will continue to pursue every concrete lead to ascertain the fate of these MIAs and has raised the issue at the highest levels with both Syrian and Palestinian officials. Further, the Administration has briefed and provided extensive information to interested members of Congress on these matters and will continue to do so. H.R. 1175 would mandate a set of reporting requirements which are unnecessary and would be counterproductive to ongoing diplomatic efforts with various foreign officials and governments in the Middle East. Finally, linking assistance to the MIA issue would be counterproductive to ongoing political and humanitarian objectives in the region and may again damage our efforts to discover more information about the MIAs.
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