President Clinton Meets With Sec. Albright To Discuss South Asia

Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release June 3, 1998


The Rose Garden

10:05 A.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT: Good morning. Secretary Albright andMr. Berger and I have just had a meeting before Secretary Albrightleaves to go to Geneva for tomorrow's meeting of the Permanent Fiveforeign ministers convened at our initiative on the situation inSouth Asia. Our goal is to forge a common strategy to move India andPakistan back from their nuclear arms race and to begin to build amore peaceful, stable region.

Secretary Albright will speak to our agenda in Geneva injust a moment, and I understand later will be at the State Departmentto answer further questions. But I would like to take a few momentsto put this problem in its proper context. The nuclear tests byIndia and Pakistan stand in stark contrast to the progress the worldhas made over the past several years in reducing stockpiles andcontaining the spread of nuclear weapons. It is also contrary to theideals of nonviolent democratic freedom and independence at the heartof Gandhi's struggle to end colonialism on the Indian subcontinent.

Through the START treaties, the United States and Russiaare on their way to cutting nuclear arsenals by two-thirds from theirCold War height. With our help, Ukraine, Belarus and Kazakhstanagreed to return to Russia the nuclear weapons left on their landwhen the Soviet Union dissolved. We secured the indefinite,unconditional extension of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty.Brazil, Argentina and South Africa each voluntarily renounced theirnuclear programs, choosing to spend their vital resources instead onthe power of their people. And to date, 149 nations have signed theComprehensive Test Ban Treaty which bans all nuclear explosions,making it more difficult for nuclear powers to produce more advancedweapons and for non-nuclear states to develop them.

Two years ago, I was the first to sign this treaty atthe United Nations on behalf of the United States. The presentsituation in South Asia makes it all the more important that theSenate debate and vote on the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty withoutdelay. The CTBT will strengthen our ability to deter, to detect, andto deter testing. If we are calling on other nations to actresponsibly, America must set the example.

India and Pakistan are great nations with boundlesspotential, but developing weapons of mass destruction isself-defeating, wasteful, and dangerous. It will make their peoplepoorer and less secure. The international community must now cometogether to move them through a diverse course and to avoid adangerous arms race in Asia.

In just the last week, NATO, the NATO Joint Council withRussia, the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council and, today, the OAScondemned the tests. That is about 80 other nations who want to workwith us to move the world to a safer place.

And we must do more. We are determined work with anycountries who are willing to help us, and we want very much to workwith both India and Pakistan to help them resolve their differencesand to restore a future of hope, not fear, to the region.

Let me now express my appreciation to China for chairingthe P5 meeting to which Secretary Albright is going. This is furtherevidence of the important role China can play in meeting thechallenges of the 21st Century and the constructive Chineseleadership that will be essential to the long-term resolutions ofissues involving South Asia.

This is an important example of how our engagement withChina serves America's interests: stability in Asia, preventing thespread of weapons of mass destruction, combatting international crimeand drug-trafficking, protecting the environment. At the same time,we continue to deal forthrightly with China on those issues where wedisagree -- notably, on human rights; and there have clearly beensome concrete results as a result of this engagement as well.

Trade is also an important part of our relationship withChina. Our exports have tripled over the last decade and now supportover 170,000 American jobs. But just as important, trade is a forcefor change in China, exposing China to our ideas and our ideals andintegrating China into the global economy.

For these reasons, I intend to renew MFN status withChina. This status does not convey any special privilege. It issimply ordinary, natural tariff treatment offered to virtually everynation on earth. Since 1980, when MFN was first extended to China,every Republican and Democratic president who has faced this issuehas extended it. Not to renew would be to sever our economic and, toa large measure, our strategic relationship with China, turning ourback on a fourth of the world at a time when our cooperation forworld peace and security is especially important, in light of therecent events in South Asia.

This policy clearly is in our nation's interest and Iurge Congress to support it. Now, I'd like to ask Secretary Albrightto say a few words about our objectives in Geneva in the days andweeks ahead.

Madame Secretary.

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Thank you very much, Mr. President.Let me add to your comments to explain why our meeting in Geneva andwhat we wish to do there. As the President has pointed out, thenuclear tests pose an immediate threat to international peace andsecurity, and as permanent members of the Security Council, theUnited States, Russia, France, China and the United Kingdom have aresponsibility to forge a coordinated strategy for responding to thatthreat.

As the NPT nuclear weapon states, we also have a specialresponsibility to protect the viability of the nonproliferationregime and a responsibility which we must reaffirm in Geneva toreduce further the level of our nuclear arsenals and the likelihoodof nuclear war.

Unlike the United States and the former Soviet Unionduring the Cold War, India and Pakistan do not have the benefit of avast ocean between them. They are next door neighbors with a past ofconflict and a present of bitter mistrust. Under the circumstances,the citizens of each nation should understand what is obvious to theworld -- that both Indians and Pakistanis are far less secure todaythan they were three weeks ago.

Right now, the most important thing both sides can do isto cool it and take a deep breath and to begin to climb out of thehole they have dug themselves into. This, then, is the first of thethree goals we have set for ourselves in Geneva and the days ahead.We must do all we can as outside powers to prevent the currently verybad situation from growing worse.

Our message to India and Pakistan must be that thereshould be no further nuclear testing, no deployment or testing ofmissiles, no more inflammatory rhetoric and no more provocativemilitary activity. Our second, longer-term goal is to avert aregional arms race and to reexamine options for easing the underlyingpolitical problems between India and Pakistan, including Kashmir.

We will also be urging India and Pakistan to sign theCTBT now and without conditions to stop producing fissile materialand to agree on a process for regional arms control. The NPT willnot be amended to accommodate either country. We will, however,consider measures to help them maintain peace, and we will standready to help them resolve their differences through dialogue.

Finally, we will affirm our resolve to bolster theglobal nonproliferation regime. And this means taking steps todiscourage other countries from following the disastrous examples setby India and Pakistan. And in addition, as President Clinton hasjust indicated, for the United States, this means urging the Senatevery strongly to approve the CTBT. If we want India and Pakistan tostop testing and keep others from starting, this is the most basic,minimal, obvious step we can take on this critical issue at thisperilous time, American leadership should be unambiguous, decisiveand clear.

The meeting in Geneva is far from the beginning of ourefforts to make the world safe from dangers of nuclear war, and itwill certainly not be the end of those efforts. Technology dictatesthat this will always be a work in progress. We seek to reduce risksknowing we can not eliminate them, but we can not make progress evenin this effort without the cooperation and assistance of others.

As the President pointed out, for example, we need tomaintain a constructive relationship with China. We need arelationship that allows us to speak honestly when we disagree, butalso to cooperate when our interests coincide, as they clearly do inthis effort and with respect to MFN. It is very clear that thebetter the relations are between the United States and China and theUnited States and Russia, the better we can protect and serve theAmerican people.

Our mission to Geneva is important, and I will do myvery best for the President and the American people. But do not makea mistake: The risks of the moment are high and, for the moment, thekey choices will be made in New Delhi and Islamabad. We must allhope and pray those choices are the right ones.

Thank you very much, Mr. President.

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