Chancellor Kohl Welcomes President Clinton to Germany

Office of the Press Secretary
(Berlin, Germany)

For Immediate Release May 13,1998


Terrace of Sans Souci Gardens
Potsdam, Germany

3:45 P.M. (L)

CHANCELLOR KOHL: Mr. President, dear Bill, it is agreat pleasure and a great honor for me to welcome the Presidentof the United States to this historic place, and at this historictime, and to welcome him on behalf of the German people, onbehalf of the German friends.

We talked about this earlier today, and I tried toexplain the importance of the day and the fact that you have comehere today, after what's happened in the second half of ourcentury. You, as the President of the United States of America,you've come here to also see to the reunited Germany. So it'snot just one of similar events, not one of similar days, becausewhen the last American President came to Potsdam, he came on theoccasion of the Potsdam Conference in 1945, and at that time,Germany and the chances of Germany belonging to the free nationsof our continent looked very bad. And this is last, but notleast -- the fact that we've been able to overcome that part ofour history is something we owe last, but not least, to ourAmerican friends.

Allow me to say that all American Presidents sinceHarry S. Truman, up to the present President, William JeffersonClinton, by showing their support, by expressing theirfriendship, by extending the hand of partnership have preparedthe ground for German reunification.

We have come together at an historic site, a sitewhere the memory of Frederick the Great is very much alive. Thisis where he was buried. He was a man who enjoyed high esteem inthe United States because he was an enlightened spirit, acosmopolitan, literal-minded person. He was the first to signthe first Prussian trade and commerce agreement with the UnitedStates, then newly independent. So I think it is apt that wemeet here today, on the threshold of the next century at a momentwhere we in Europe have taken decisions on the introduction of asingle European currency, at a moment where we are about to buildthe European house, a house that is big enough for all Europeannations to have a room in it, but also a house -- and that isvery much a German wish -- where our American friends will have apermanent right of residence.

The American President, my friend, Bill Clinton,when visiting Berlin, said, the Americans have come here and theywill stand by you today and forever. He said, America is on yourside now and forever. And I think that that is a practicalexpression of a policy that serves peace, that wants to establishfreedom for all nations, that wants to offer opportunities forfuture generations to continue to live in peace and freedom. Andthat was the purpose of our talks today.

We talked about the topical issues, about what isgoing on in the world right now, and we talked about how we canmake a contribution to peace and freedom. This is also thepurpose, Mr. President, of the many meetings that we have more orless continuously -- we talk on the phone, we meet very often.And I hope that that practice will continue.

Once again, I bid you a very warm welcome, Mr.President.

THE PRESIDENT: First let me thank the Chancellorfor another opportunity to come to Germany to represent theUnited States and to enjoy his wonderful hospitality and thefriendship that he has had for the American people and for me. Ihave particularly enjoyed having the opportunity to come toPotsdam today to talk about the next 50 years of history betweenthe United States and Germany and a united Europe -- a muchdifferent and more hopeful conversation than the one PresidentTruman had here over 50 years ago.

Before I say more about our discussions, I think itis important that I make a comment about the nuclear tests byIndia. I believe they were unjustified. They clearly create adangerous new instability in their region. And as a result, inaccordance with United States law, I have decided to imposeeconomic sanctions against India.

I have long supported deepening the relationsbetween the United States and India. This is a deeplydisappointing thing for me, personally. The First Lady and ourdaughter had a wonderful trip there; I have stayed in regulartouch with the leaders of India for the last 5 years; I havelooked forward to a very bright and different future. But thenuclear tests conducted by India, against the backdrop of 149nations signing the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, demand anunambiguous response by the United States.

It is important we make clear our categoricalopposition. We will ask other countries to do the same.

I hope the Indian government soon will realize thatit can be a very great country in the 21st century without doingthings like this. Chancellor Kohl and I just talked about ourconversations and efforts with President Yeltsin. I'm hopingthat the Russian Duma will soon ratify START II so we can go onto START III and continue to dramatically reduce the nuclearthreat in the 21st century. It simply is not necessary for anation that will soon be the world's most populous nation, italready has the world's largest middle class, that has 50 yearsof vibrant democracy -- a perfectly wonderful country; it is notnecessary for them to manifest national greatness by doing this.It is a terrible mistake.

I hope that India will instead take a differentcourse now. I hope they will adhere without conditions to theComprehensive Test Ban Treaty. And as I mentioned to thePakistani Prime Minister, Mr. Sharif, today, I also urge India'sneighbors not to follow the dangerous path India has taken. Itis not necessary to respond to this in kind.

Now, let me say just a few other words about therelationship between the United States and Germany, about whichChancellor Kohl spoke so movingly. When I was here in 1994, wetalked about our shared vision for a united Europe and a strongUnited States-European partnership in the 21st century. I thinkit's fair to say that the progress that has been made in theyears since is greater than we would have imagined just fouryears ago.

Europe is increasingly integrating around thecommitment to democracy, open markets and security alliances.Europe's east is joined more closely than ever before to thewest. Some of the most seemingly intractable conflicts on thiscontinent -- in Bosnia and Northern Ireland -- are giving way topeace and cooperation. All that has happened in the last fouryears.

And, Chancellor, I believe that Europe has come sofar in so little time in no small measure because of yourleadership for German unification, for European Monetary Union,for freedom in free markets and an undivided democratic Europe atpeace. The world is in your debt and America is pleased aboutthe prospects for our common future because of what has happened.

We talked a lot today about what we have to do nowto continue this process of integration and to strengthen ourtransatlantic partnership. I'm delighted that both our countrieshave ratified the invitation of NATO to Hungary, the CzechRepublic and Poland to become our new members. I also believethe United States should continue to support other efforts atEuropean unity, including EU enlargement, including the historicdecision this month of 11 European countries including Germany toestablish the European Monetary Union. A strong and stableEurope with open markets and healthy growth is good for the worldand it is certainly good for America.

We also talked a lot about the importance of Russiaand Ukraine; their success is critical to our future security.We strongly support Russian reform and both of us are lookingforward, as I indicated earlier, to talking to President Yeltsinin a few days in Birmingham.

Finally, let me say we're quite concerned about thecrisis in Kosovo. The news that President Milosevic and Dr.Rugova will meet this week to start a dialogue withoutpreconditions is a sober first step toward resolving a verydangerous conflict. And we want them to make good on theircommitment to serious dialogue.

Let me just say one other thing. I want to thankthe Chancellor for his emphasis in his urging to me to do more topromote people-to-people exchanges between the United States andGermany. That would be even more important as we enter the newcentury. I'm pleased that the American Academy in Berlin willopen its doors in the fall, bringing our artists and culturalleaders to Germany for study. I'm working closely with Congressto get the funds to begin construction of our new embassy inBerlin just as soon as possible, so that when the Germangovernment takes up its work in Germany's new capital, it willhave an American partner in place and ready to do business.

Chancellor, thank you again for the warmth of yourwelcome and the depth of your friendship to the United States.I'm glad to be back.

Q Mr. President Clinton, the Indians haveanswered your warnings of yesterday with three more nuclearblasts today. What does that tell you about India's intentionsand your abilities to influence them?

THE PRESIDENT: Well, I don't know about my abilitythem, I just know what the United States law requires, and it's avery stiff sanctions law. It basically says, no more aid. Itrequires us to vote against aid for India in the InternationalMonetary Fund and the World Bank and other international fora.It cuts off export credits and basically says we can't doanything but ship humanitarian supplies and food. And I thinkit's a very sad thing.

But I don't think it's too complicated. I believe-- they may think that their security requires this, but I thinkit's more likely, if you just listen to the rhetoric of the partyin power, that they believe that they have been under-appreciatedin the world as a great power. And they think one reason may bethat they're not an out-front, out-of-the-closet, open nuclearpower.

Well, I think they've been under-appreciated in theworld and in the United States, myself. They're a very greatcountry. And they will soon be the most populous country in theworld. They already have the biggest middle class in the world.Indian Americans have the highest level of education of anyethnic group in the United States.

But to think that you have to manifest yourgreatness by behavior that recalls the very worst events of the20th century on the edge of the 21st century, when everybody elseis trying to leave the nuclear age behind, is just wrong. It isjust wrong. And they clearly don't need it to maintain theirsecurity, vis-a-vis China, Pakistan, or anybody else.

So I just think they made a terrible mistake. And Ithink that we, all of us have a responsibility to say that, andto say that their best days are ahead of them, but they can't--they have to define the greatness of India in 21st centuryterms, not in terms that everybody else has already decided toreject.

Q Mr. Chancellor, is Germany going to supportsanctions against India and, if so, how?

CHANCELLOR KOHL: Well, we will take a very closelook at the sanctions that individual countries are going totake, but there's no doubt whatsoever that the federal government-- that is to say that the Germans who have been traditionallylinked in a very close friendship with India and the Indianpeople -- will make it very clear that this was the wrongdecision for them to take; that we do not accept that decisionand that we do not see any reason they would justify suchindecision; and that we are deeply concerned about the positiveeffect that this decision might have in a region that is alreadymarked by tensions.

The objective of an international peace policy mustbe to reduce tensions and not to increase tensions. Thisdecision will make a contribution to increasing tensions in theregion because it, too, is in a way a direct challenge to theneighboring countries, whether justified or not, but theneighboring countries might react.

Q Mr. President, how long do you expect thesanctions to remain in place against India? What would it taketo lift them? And finally, if Pakistan were to undertake it'sown nuclear tests, would the United States feel obliged to imposesanctions against it?

THE PRESIDENT: If you look at the law as it hasbeen in place since 1994, I believe, we actually had nodiscretion. In order to lift the sanctions, as I read the law,Congress would have to vote to do it. And the only thing I coulddo in the Indian situation, for example, is to delay -- or anyother similar situation -- if a non-declared nuclear stateundertakes nuclear testing, under our law the President mustimpose sweeping sanctions immediately or delay for up to 30 daysto see if something can be worked out. But even if that happens,the President -- unlike most of our laws, the President does nothave the power to waive. I can just delay for 30 days, duringwhich time the Congress would then have the opportunity to repealthe sanctions or revise them in some way.

And so, I can't answer any of your questions until Ihave a chance, a, to consult with Congress and, b, to see whatthe next steps are with India.

Q Mr. President, did you talk about Turkey?

THE PRESIDENT: -- but we have before, but not thistime.

Q Mr. President, there's been a lot of criticismof the U.S. intelligence community and whether or not we knowbeforehand of the first series of nuclear tests. Did we knowbeforehand of this second series of nuclear tests? If not, whatdoes that say? If we did, were we powerless? And in yourconversations with the Pakistani Prime Minister, do you havereason to believe that they will not now follow suit?

THE PRESIDENT: Well, that's a lot of questions.Let me say, first of all, on the intelligence question, beforethis round of tests started, I did not know it was going tostart. And I made that clear to all the other people in theregion. I don't ever discuss our intelligence operations, and Iwon't now. I will say that I've asked Director Tenet for athorough review of them.

Now, on the Pakistani question, let me say, I had avery good, respectful conversation with Prime Minister Sharif.He has tried in the past to reduce tensions between India andPakistan. I encouraged him to stay on that path. I encouragedhim to resist the temptation to respond to an irresponsible actin kind.

I understand the pressures on him at home areprobably enormous. You can just imagine how the public feelsabout it in Pakistan and the kind of ripple, traumatic effectthis is having in their country. So I can't say for sure what isgoing to happen. I can only tell you that we had what I thoughtwas a very good and respectful conversation, and I hope thatneither Pakistan, nor any other country will respond in kind tothis.

Q Do you blame Netanyahu for the deadlock in thepeace process in the Middle East?

THE PRESIDENT: Well, my experience in these things,which is mounting up now, indicates that the public placement ofblame is not very productive if what you really want to do is getthe parties to talk again.

Let me tell you what the facts are. Fifteen monthsago we were asked by Prime Minister Netanyahu to explore whetheror not there was some way we could facilitate, if you will, anacceleration of the Oslo Process, which was embodied in the peacesigning in September of '93 in Washington, to move, more or less,immediately to final status talks between the Palestinians andthe Israelis.

He pointed out that a lot of these issues werehighly contentious, especially for his government, and it wouldbe better to make -- to put them all together in one big packageand try to make -- have as few votes as possible to ratify theprocess. And I, frankly, thought he had a good idea. I thoughtit then and I think it now.

And for a year and some odd months, we have workedvery hard to try to find a formula which will enable the partiesto take one more step in the process started at Oslo, and then goto final status talks. In other words, we haven't tried to finda formula to resolve all the issues; we've tried to find aformula to get them over the hurdle to get into final statustalks. We came up with a set of ideas. In principle, but not inall the details, but in principle, Mr. Arafat accepted them. Mr.Netanyahu was not in a position to do so. He went home toIsrael; he asked Mr. Ross, my Middle East Ambassador, to go outthere and talk to him. He did. He's coming back. Now, he's onhis way, or he may already be in the United States. SecretaryAlbright has stayed behind. They will talk some more.

I'm hoping that we can find an agreement based onthe ideas we've presented which will enable these two parties toget together and go into final status talks.

I think, frankly, there is still some mistrustbetween them. And I think, frankly, there is still somedifference of calculation among some of the actors in the MiddleEast drama about whether they are or are not benefitted by adelay, by a stall. I can only tell you that I have seen a lot ofdoors open and close in the last five and a half years, and myview is that it is neither in Israel's, nor the PalestinianAuthority's interest to promote delay; that far more bad thingsare likely to happen than good things by a deliberate strategy ofdelay.

So I'm hoping that we'll be able to unlock thisproblem and worry about responsibility in the future and getresults now.

THE CHANCELLOR: Thank you ladies and gentlemen.

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