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Randomly Generated Public Paper from Today's Date in History
William J. Clinton: 1993-2001
Press Briefing by Mike McCurry
February 20th, 1997

The Briefing Room

1:57 P.M. EST

MR. MCCURRY: Well -- I'm trying to think if I had anything I needed to talk about today.

Q: What was Mexico's Foreign Minister doing here?

MR. MCCURRY: The Mexican Foreign Minister was here, as you might imagine, to get several pieces of our mind on the issue of General Gutierrez and the matter that you heard the President address earlier. He has made the rounds of several departments today; I understand he saw Under Secretary of State Peter Tarnoff, saw some of our counternarcotics people. He was here visiting with Mack McLarty.

Now, they had an agenda that also included discussions of the upcoming trip President Clinton will take to Mexico. But obviously, the United States government in very stiff terms described our unhappiness and our concern about corruption apparently reaching such high levels in the Mexican government.

Q: Was it because -- was he summoned here? And also, was their major complaint that Mexico did not tell us about this situation for two weeks?

MR. MCCURRY: I'm not going to get into all the details of the conversation. He was in town and had been scheduled to be here in connection with conversations about the upcoming meeting of the two Presidents. But it was an opportunity obviously for the government -- United States government -- to express our displeasure and the displeasure of the President about these developments.

Q: Did he meet with anybody else besides Mack McLarty?

MR. MCCURRY: I'm checking. Only, here, McLarty, to my knowledge. Do we have any of the other NSC directorate people there? David will check on that. I believe he may have had some other meetings, too. Someone at State had indicated that they thought he might have seen the Attorney General, and I haven't been able to check with Justice on that. But you can imagine that the message communicated was the same in all places. And the concern about the integrity of our law enforcement efforts and our mutual efforts to eradicate drug trafficking was top of the agenda and will certainly be a very key item on the agenda between the two Presidents.

Q: Well, are you saying you think that effort has been compromised?

MR. MCCURRY: I'm saying that we are assessing now what damage may have taken place with respect to our law enforcement efforts. That assessment will take some time, but we will work very quickly to repair any damage that exists and continue the war on drugs and drug trafficking.

Q: Did the Foreign Minister offer any assurances that --

MR. MCCURRY: Well, as the President indicated, we do have assurances from the highest levels of the Mexican government of full cooperation as we address our concerns about these matters and as we continue to fight drug trafficking.

Q: Did we have any independent knowledge of this or did it come only from the Mexican government?

MR. MCCURRY: I'm not in a position to get into the sequence of our understandings about this. Some of that involves intelligence matters I'm just not prepared to talk about here.

Q: How much concern is there of damage that may have been done during the time after he was detained -- went through at that point but could have been prevented if the United States had known that he was being detained?

MR. MCCURRY: That's exactly the kind of assessment that they will make as they look at what compromise, if any, occurred to law enforcement efforts. It's impossible to say at this point of what lev ...
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