Background Briefing by Senior Administration Officials
The Briefing Room
11:22 A.M. EDT
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: I thought if you wanted, I would just take a few minutes to run through some of the messages and themes that you will be hearing over the next week, if that will be useful to you. If not, I will immediately go back. How's that for -- you want to do that? Okay, I will do that. Thank you very much, Anne. We will do it.
Q: What, do you want us beg?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: What?
Q: Do you want us to beg?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: No, no, no. I was hoping you would all throw things so I could go back to my work here.
First of all, on the essential substantive themes --this will of course be an opportunity to build on the purposes that the President was lain out during his January trip. And like the January trip, and like the trip coming up then in July, an opportunity to reaffirm once again American ties to Europe and to affirm the importance of Europe to the United States in economic and political and security terms.
During the trip, as you will recall, the President was developing the notion of -- or calling attention to -- the extraordinary opportunity we have now over the next decade or two to work for the integration of the wider Europe, from Portugal across through Russia; and was suggesting that the United States in fact can promote that vision of an integrated, wider Europe through three specific goals which track the three goals that he has been enunciating for American foreign policy generally.
The first is to pursue this integration, this vision of a larger Europe through security policies that are adapted to the post-Cold War era. And that means making specifically NATO relevant to the kinds of threats that we are addressing in this era.
The centerpiece of that is the Partnership for Peace, which now has, I believe, 18 nations that have said that they wish to -- have expressed an intention to join. And, as you know, in the last few days the Russians have said that they have such an intention to join unconditionally. They are talking about larger questions of their relationship with NATO, but they have said that in the terms of the Partnership for Peace itself, they will join unconditionally.
Just to note again that while the Partnership for Peace is seen by us as a vehicle for then the enlargement of NATO over time, we also see it as a kind of an insurance policy. And should then the situation deteriorate in the East and Russia or elsewhere and it become necessary at some step to draw the line between Eastern and Western Europe, that we would prefer not to see happen the Partnership for Peace through its military to military contacts would put us in a better position to do that at some point in the future if we had to then we would be without the partnership.
The second strand, then, of this goal of integration is economic integration between the East in Europe and the West. The President promoted in January closer ties, for example, between the European Union and the economies to the East. I think you should look at our efforts to support Russian economic reform in this context. It is not only an issue of trying to help the Russians develop their economy, for all the obvious reasons, including that it provides a better market than for the United States, but also it is part of an effort to make the Russian economy relevant to a very different kind of global economy -- high-tech global economy because in doing so you are then integrating Russia more into that economy and that serves the same larger purpose.
And, third, as in our foreign policy generally, to promote and support democracy in Central and Eastern Europe, in Russia and elsewhere because it is those underlying democratic values that will produce the kind of integrated larger Europe that we are seeking to build.
So, that is one substantive set of themes that I think you will be hearing the President talking about and that he will be discussing with European leaders when he meets with them.
Some larger themes then that are more specific to the D-Day celebrations will, I think, revolve around, coming back to the notion of integration, the thought -- and you heard this somewhat in his Annapolis speech -- that we should look on the last 50 years as a continuum across the generations. And that the victory in Europe was a victory for democracy. And let me emphasize this, this should not be seen as a victory over Germany and over Italy. I think the President will be trying to make it clear that we are not celebrating the defeat of certain nations; we are celebrating the victory of an idea, a liberating idea, of democracy.
And that victory, the victory of that generation -- and, I should note, the subsequent efforts of that generation then to build a new America -- succeeded in paving the way, then, for the next generation or two in the Cold War, which now has created an opportunity to continue to promote in this generation the same democratic ideals and practices that can help to build the kind of integrated Europe I was talking about.
In other words, the first generation -- the World War II generation -- created a breakthrough. This generation now must follow through. And you will follow through both in its foreign policies and in again rebuilding America as that great generation of World War II did.
You will hear him speak often about, of course, about honoring that generation, and also honoring our military forces, past and present. And I think you will hear him speak also about a particular challenge that we now face. And that is, he was very impressed the other evening in his meeting with a group of World War II historians and veterans with the emphasis that many of them placed -- especially Steven Ambrose* -- on the ways in which, especially on Omaha Beach, this was a struggle again not only between two contending armies, but perhaps more importantly between two contending ideas and what those ideas produced in the quality of their fighting forces.
As many of you know, when the Americans took terrible casualties on Omaha Beach, and a lot of the officers were killed and units were going onto the beach in places they had not expected and got pinned down. The American forces did not then radio back and say, what do we do now? We need specific orders; we can't move unless we are told what to do. Individual soldiers of very different ranks said, we've got to get out of here, charged up the bluffs, moved out.
And that way of fighting in which individuals took responsibility was very democratic and an expression of a democratic army. That would not have been the case in many other armies produced by other systems. In short, in that tactical sense, but in a broader sense, democracies are tremendous at fighting wars. The wars unify the people, give them a sense of central purpose, create a spirit of sacrifice, and the society is pulled together and it can accomplish wonders.
Our challenge today, unlike the generation of World War II and really unlike the generations that prevailed during the Cold War, have to somehow find the same unity of purpose, the same spirit in time of peace to accomplish what is two very important tasks. One is again the renewal of America and a domestic program that requires hard choices that can rebuild America, as they did in the late '40s and '50s.
And secondly, to pursue the policies of engagement in the world partly through unilateral action, partly through the kind of multilateral action that Franklin Delano Roosevelt had envisioned before he died, through the U.N. and other institutions, but to pursue those policies of engagement that can then head off the larger costs of a retreat back to America that we saw resulted from the failure of our democracy in the 1920s and '30s in time of peace to pursue the engagement and the ties to Europe that could have headed off World War II. That is a much harder challenge without that single unifying threat out there, and is a primary challenge to our democracy today.
End of sermon.
Q: Can I ask you, when you talk about the followthrough, I'm struck by the image of the inability of this administration to work with France, for instance, to do what it wanted to do in Bosnia, the image of the Harlan County turning around in Haiti, contrasting the pictures we see about what happened in World War II? How can -- do you believe that you are following through? And how do you explain the images that may trouble some that I just described?
Q: Sir, could you explain that question?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Yes, I'll even answer it.
The question is, is there a contrast between our followthrough today, for example, in Bosnia with the French, and the images of the alliance acting at D-Day? And my answer would be, one, certainly this is a much more complicated world with which we have to deal, say in a Bosnia, because here we don't have one, in effect, one central alliance as we did in World War II. But we've got, in Bosnia, both a NATO structure and a U.N. structure, et cetera. But more importantly, you won't be surprised, that I would very vigorously argue with your premise. The fact is, specifically, with the French that we have worked very closely with the French, the French more than almost anybody else, on Bosnia in getting done the Sarajevo ultimatum at the summit meeting in January. And if you look at Bosnia, and I won't go into this at great length, I've done it in this room before, and compare the situation on the ground in Bosnia today with the situation last December, there has been grudging progress, but real progress. Ask the citizens of Sarajevo, who are not being shelled everyday as they were before; ask the leaders of the Bosnian-Croats and the Bosnian government who have created a new federation; ask the people of Magli* who were absolutely isolated until a couple of months ago. I could go on and on, but the fact is there has been progress and it has come through this President's leadership in working with the French and the British and the Canadians and others to get those things done. It's harder now to keep that cooperation going but it has happened.
Q: On the Haiti part of the question --
Q: The Haiti part -- he wants --
Q: I mean, obviously, you're seeing pictures of all the great invasion forces against hundreds of thousands of Nazis in Europe -- apparently a band of thugs turned around a --
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Well, I would commend to you two pictures from Haiti then. I suggest that there are two pictures. One was the Harlan County, which was not an invasion force, it was a group of trainers who had been invited in by the Haitian military who then changed their minds; did not offer a berth; and rejected it at the last minute. You could not ask some trainers to storm ashore. Let me suggest to you the next picture that the people of Haiti saw, which was a group of American destroyers, I believe one cruiser that were enforcing the new sanctions, which we have recently strengthened and which we are determined in following through, to use the phrase with.
Q: In connection with Russia you say that one of the great themes is to integrate the East and Russia. Yet, Russia is having zip role in all of this. Is there -- I know there are some justifications that have been broached by you, but how do you justify that? Why shouldn't Russia be having a role in all of this D-Day?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: The decisions on participation were not made by the American government as the host here. But we have been consulting -- I think you will find the President going out of his way to recall the sacrifices which were enormous and the contributions to victory which were enormous made by the Russian people in World War II. And, again, you will find him going out of his way to emphasize that one of the lessons of the last 50 years in our relations with Germany, Italy and Japan has been how former adversaries can become friends and how we can define our security best not in terms of confrontation, although we certainly will when we must, but also through cooperation and integration.
Q: Do you think it was a mistake not to invite the Germans to the ceremony? And was there any contact or any attempt on the part of the administration to convince the French and the British to have the Germans take any part in that -- in this commemoration?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: The truth is I was not in on all of those discussions, so I cannot tell you definitively the nature of those discussions. I'm certainly not going to second guess any decisions.
Q? Does the U.S. have a position on it, that it weighed in on --
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: As I said, I'm not going to second guess any of the decisions.
I do have to go.
Q: Is the President going to discuss Macedonia at any point with European officials? And does he have some fresh ideas in mind?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Well, as you know, we sent Matt Nimitz off a few weeks ago to try to help broker an agreement between the Greeks and the Macedonians, or the government of (inaudible). And some progress has been made, I think, on that. I cannot promise you whether the issue will come up or not, but it's certainly on our agenda of European issues.
I'm free at last.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: I've been asked to come and sort of review in general terms the schedule. I understand that you're going to get a lot of these details in the next day or two. And in fact, there's supposed to be a fairly detailed briefing book for your use, which will give you some additional information.
Q: When do we get --
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: I've been told probably later today, but I'll defer to my press colleagues.
In terms of the briefing book for the press?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: It will be this afternoon, and we will have it available to White House reporters traveling only.
If you aren't travelling on the trip, you don't get a briefing book at this point because we won't have enough.
Also, this is on background.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Okay, anyway, for the purposes of what I want to accomplish here today is just to sort of run through the schedule and talk about some of the highlights and a little bit about some of the people that he would be meeting with.
Before going into that, let me just give you a little bit of the context here. This should be seen as one of three trips that the President is doing for the first half of this year to Europe. You recall our first overseas trip last year was to Vancouver for the Yeltsin Summit. Then we went on to Japan in July for the G-7 meetings and bilateral visits with the Japanese; and then subsequently onto Korea for a bilateral visit then.
In the late summer and early fall, as we were planning, I think, what we would be doing this year. We obviously were working to a NATO summit, which was very, very important to us, and also another meeting with Yeltsin. As we were planning what eventually became the January trip, we were also looking for ways where we could sort of reach out and have a dialogue and continue a dialogue with some of our traditional European allies. And, of course, that's where this particular trip in June comes in.
So in addition to the January trip where we started off going to Brussels for the NATO summit then going onto Prague for discussions with some of our Visegrad friends, and then subsequently onto Moscow, we decided that what we would do in terms of planning the June trip would be to use some of the existing World War II D-Day commemorative events and also work into that particular schedule a series of bilateral visits to Italy, the U.K. and to France. And that's how this particular trip developed. And, of course, the third piece of this particular scenario is to go back in July, where we will be going to Naples for the G-7 summit. And then we added a bilateral visit to Germany, and then subsequently we'll finish that trip with a trip to Warsaw.
So I would preface what I'm about to say here is that this -- we have seen it in terms of our planning purposes, which developed in the late summer and early fall of last year as part of a package of three visits that we would be doing to Europe during the first half of 1994.
And as you may recall we did this all in an announcement when we announced the January trip in early December, we also indicated that that point, we would be doing this series of bilateral visits to Italy, to the U.K. and to France in conjunction with the World War II commemorative events, particularly surrounding D-Day.
So there's essentially sort of two component parts of this. There are the D-Day events that we'll be doing in each of these stops. And at the same time we do have a series of bilateral events that we are doing.
First of all, in terms of the schedule, we are now departing on Wednesday, June the 1st. It will be a morning departure, and we will then be arriving in Rome. The President then overnights in Rome. He'll be overnighting at the Ambassador's residence. And then the next morning we start our working day with a bilateral visit and a bilateral meeting at the Quirinale with President Scalfaro, the president of Italy.
We will then subsequently move on to the Vatican for a private audience that the President will have with the Pope and then after that, we anticipate that the President and the First Lady and some members of the party will have an opportunity to visit the Sistine Chapel as well.
In the early afternoon, we will have a bilateral meeting with the Prime Minister, Prime Minister Berlusconi, that will happen at Palazzo Chigi, and that particular bilateral discussion will also be followed by a press availability in the courtyard of Palazzo Chigi after that meeting concludes.
We then have an event that starts at approximately 5:00 p.m. in the afternoon -- 5:00 p.m. or 5:15 p.m. -- first a call on the Mayor of Rome at the Capitoline Hill. After that on the steps out in front of the Mayor's office, there will be a public address by the President. It will be relatively a short one, 5 to 10 minutes. But this will be the opportunity for the President to extend his personal greetings to the citizens of Rome.
After that, the President has some private time. And then that evening starting at 8:15 p.m., there will be a dinner hosted by the Prime Minister at Villa Madama.
Q: perhaps of the President and the Pope together, or any video of the President and the Pope?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: There will be some arrangements made for photographs to be released at that point. We're still working out the details. Obviously, the Pope's health is one of the considerations as we've been trying to work the schedule with the Vatican. And that's one part of it we haven't quite refined. There will definitely be a meeting, but the actual details we're still negotiating out with our counterparts at the Vatican.
Q: Do they make remarks that we'll hear?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: The Pope and the President? At this point there are no plans for remarks.
On the morning of Friday, June the 3rd, the big event there, of course, is the World War II commemorative event we will have to mark the Italian campaign.
Q: Just to back up, why are there no remarks with the President and the Pope? When they met in Denver they make remarks, and on previous trips to Europe, when the presidents have met with popes, there have been public comments?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: I understand all of that. Let me just say that the actual modalities of that particular meeting haven't been finally worked out. All we know at this point is that there will be a private meeting and the actual details in terms of press access and what we'll do at that point are left to be resolved. And we'll communicate that with you as soon as we can.
Q: Is there concern because the Pope made remarks that were very direct in Denver about abortion? Is that --
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: No, the only concerns that I'm aware of, of course, on that part of the schedule relate to the Pope's health and his ability really to conduct a meeting like that. But we'll obviously give you some more details on that part of the schedule as we proceed.
Friday, June the 3rd, as I've indicated, of course, is the big World War II commemorative event in terms of American participation in Italian campaign, and this involves the President's visit to the Nettuno American Cemetery. And we have a memorial event there that is scheduled to go from 10:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. that day. In addition to the President who makes remarks, the President of Italy, President Scalfaro, will also be present and the Prime Minister Berlusconi will also be present on that particular occasion.
President Scalfaro will actually make brief remarks to the audience and will precede the President. And President will be introduced by a veteran of the Italian campaign and will address the group at that point as well.
We will then have a reception hosted by the President for visiting American veterans who will be present at that point. And that reception will start at approximately 11:15 a.m. and run until about 1:00 p.m.
We then have the President returning to Rome proper. We are still working on an event involving some interaction with the official American community, probably at the American Embassy. There are other plans for his private time during this particular afternoon and we'll be certainly informing you as those plans become finalized. And then that evening there is a dinner hosted by President Scalfaro again at the Palazza Quirinale. And that dinner starts at 8:15 p.m. in the evening.
The next morning the President departs. He arrives in Cambridge in the U.K. at approximately 10:00 a.m. He will be flying directly from Rome, Ciampino Airport to Mildenhall. He'll be then taking helicopter on directly to Cambridge. And that is the big American memorial event in the United Kingdom. And this is the Cambridge Cemetery ceremony which starts at 10:15 a.m. on Saturday, June the 4th.
In terms of the details of that particular program, we'll likewise will provide those to you as well. I can tell you at this point that Secretary Bentsen, who is a World War II aviator, flew out of Italy for the most part, but as a World War II aviator, he, of course, be on the program since this is a commemorative event marking for the most part Americans who were lost during the air campaign over Europe during World War II.
The Prime Minister of the U.K. will also be present --
Q: Is he going to speak at that event?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Secretary Bentsen will speak briefly at that event.
Q: How about Bob Dole?
Q: What day did you say Bentsen was speaking?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: I'm sorry this is on Saturday. Right.
The program at this point involves Secretary Bentsen speaking briefly. Prime Minister Major will actually be the first speaker. He will welcome the group to the Cambridge event even though this is an American-hosted event. Prime Minister Major does have a speaking role. Secretary Bentsen will have a brief speaking role. The President will be introduced again by a veteran and the President will then make remarks at this particular occasion as well.
Q: I understand there were a lot of fatalities in the squadron that Bentsen commanded. There was a big push to make trips every day. Well, are many of these veterans buried in this Cambridge Cemetery? Why are we going to Cambridge Cemetery?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Cambridge Cemetery is the major U.K. event commemorating American participation in the war.
Q: Well, is it because many of Americans are buried there?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Yes, absolutely. There are more, I think the -- up 3,800 is the figure, 3,800 American airmen of the Army Air Corps who are buried at that particular site.
Q: I understand Dole will be travelling part of this trip. Will he speak --
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: My understanding is that he is not there at Cambridge. He is mostly in -- he is certainly in Italy and will be at Nettuno. But some of the details in terms of the movements of the members of Congress, we can provide that for you later. But there are, of course, three different congressional delegations, very, very significant senior members of both the House and the Senate, including a number of veterans who will be travelling and who will be overlapping and with us in different portions of this particular visit.
Q: John Kerry of Massachusetts is also there. Will he be speaking or you just don't know?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: At this point, no. But in terms of the Cambridge event itself, it is as I have outlined -- Prime Minister Major, Secretary Bentsen and the President.
After the Cambridge ceremony event, the President will then helicopter on to Chequers. We will have a bilateral meeting with Prime Minister Major at Chequers, which is the country home of the Prime Minister. And that will be followed by a lunch involving the President and Mrs. Clinton and hosted by Prime Minister Major and Mrs. Major. And after the lunch the President at this point plans to go to another location somewhere in the area. We will provide details on that movement after it happens. But this will essentially be the opportunity for working time and at the same time, there will also be a brief meeting with Margaret Beckett*, who is the acting head of the Labor Party at this point. And we will work on those details, but that will be happening sometime in the approximately 2:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. range on that afternoon.
Q: Does he have a news conference?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: I'm sorry?
Q: press availability with Mr. Major or --
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: There will be a brief press availability. My understanding is that we'll provide these details to you as we sort of discuss this with our British counterparts. But for the most part, there will be a brief press availability immediately after the lunch. And that will be at approximately 1:45 p.m. It will be in the garden at Chequers. And that will be before, obviously, the Prime Minister's departure and the President's departure. And the President would then depart to another location.
And as I say, we'll be working on the details in terms of meeting with Margaret Beckett*. And then the President, later that afternoon, will head on down to Portsmouth. The President will board the royal yacht, Britannia, where he and the First Lady will overnight. They will have a very, very brief meeting with the Queen before the Queen goes off to the Guildhall in Portsmouth, where the Queen will be hosting a dinner for all the heads of states in different delegations and veterans from each of the participating countries at the Guildhall in Portsmouth.
The President and the First Lady will of course be at the dinner. A few members -- the senior members of our delegation, particularly the Cabinet Secretaries, will also participate in that dinner, which is a black-tie formal dinner and the main even hosted by the U.K. in Portsmouth.
The following day is Sunday, June the 5th. That particular day starts with probably the biggest public event on our schedule here. We anticipate over 100,000 people gathered on Southsea Common in Portsmouth. And that is what is known as a Drumhead Ceremony at 10:30 a.m. This is a traditional British military ceremony where it goes back to the notions of gathering drums from a regiment together out in the field, covering them with flags and using that as an altar for religious services. And this will be essentially a religious service commemorating those who were lost, not only in the preparation for and the execution of the D-Day invasion but also for honoring war-dead throughout World War II. This will be the big public event in Portsmouth.
At that point, then, the President, after he has had an opportunity to meet informally with some of the American veterans who will be attending, the President will then embark upon the Royal Yacht Britannia, along with the other visiting heads of state and they will do a brief review of the gathered flotilla, the flotilla that has been gathering in Portsmouth Harbor to basically take a number of the visiting parties over to Normandy on that night, that Sunday, June the 5th.
Q: When he meets with these small groups of veterans in Italy and England and France, is he going to be making remarks or just meet and greet type --
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: At this point it's meet and greet. I mean our point here, for the most part, is to provide opportunities for the President to sort of personally reach out to a number of the veterans that will be there. And we put quite a bit of effort, I think, in coordinating our efforts through our Office of Public Liaison to make sure that we do have the opportunities for the President to really connect with the veterans. And, certainly, in the planning and execution of all of these World War II events, we have always said that as far as we're concerned the veterans and their participation is really the main point of emphasis for us.
Q: any kind of -- where he stands up and addresses these small groups as a group?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: No, not in a formal way as a group, right.
Q: How big is this flotilla that goes over?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: I can't address it. Do we have any numbers?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: There is at least 14; I don't know beyond that.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Now, we ourselves, of course, have the heart of the carrier battlegroup associated with the U.S.S. George Washington, and that's how the President will eventually get across the Channel. The President disembarks from the Queen's yacht after they have done the flotilla review. He eventually will embark upon the U.S.S. George Washington carrier that will have been in port for a week or so at that point. And the U.S.S. George Washington and other members of that carrier battle group will eventually head out across the Channel, along with other members of this flotilla, and will then head off to the coast off of Normandy.
Q: There are 15 ships in the U.S. flotilla, which includes the liberty ship, Jeremiah O'Brien.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: The Jeremiah O'Brien, of course, is another point. Weather permitting, we will plan to have the President briefly embark upon the Jeremiah O'Brien. This is, I think, a story of great interest because this is one of the original World War II liberty ships, which is being manned by Merchant Marine veterans of World War II. And they have sailed all the way from San Francisco to Portsmouth. They are in Portsmouth now. They will eventually join the flotilla sailing across the Channel. We will provide -- weather permitting, again -- the possibility for the President to go on board the Jeremiah O'Brien, meet with a number of these Merchant Marine veterans and have that opportunity to talk to them about some of their personal stories before he then disembarks and eventually goes on to the U.S.S. George Washington.
There are a number of things that will be happening, of course, on board the U.S.S. George Washington. Among other things, the President will make remarks to the sailors on board. We anticipate, on the hangar deck, that there will be an audience of probably 2,000 members of the crew at that point. And at the same time, the Navy is also providing the technology to link up the speech live to ships anywhere through the fleet. This will obviously provide the opportunity for the President to make remarks in terms of not only the historical connections and the historical events that brought us there, but more importantly the role of these mariners and people now in armed forces and what they are doing in terms of our nation's defense.
There are other things that the President will do both formally, informally on board the carrier. He is overnighting along with a small contingent from his own travelling party, plus a few of the Cabinet Secretaries that evening. And then --
Q: How many Cabinet Secretaries are going on this trip? It sounds like 40. Besides Bentsen and Christopher --
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Okay, the Cabinet Secretary -- Cabinet participation, let me run down that very, very briefly for you. First of all, Secretary Christopher, Secretary Bentsen -- and this will not necessarily be in every single stop -- Secretary Christopher is basically with us for the whole visit. Secretary Christopher of course will be in all of the bilateral as well as the World War II commemorative events.
Secretary Bentsen will not be with us in Italy, but he will join us in Cambridge. He will be with us for the rest of the visit. We also will have the Secretary of Veterans Affairs will be with us during the whole of this visit. We will also have the -- oh, certainly -- the Secretary of Defense will be with us on virtually the whole of the visit, from beginning to start -- to the end. And we also will have General Shali. General Shali will be with us. And of course, the Supreme Commander of U.S. Forces in Europe, I guess the -- at least in terms of title -- the direct descendant of Dwight Eisenhower, General Joulwan will also be part of our travelling party.
There will be lots of other flag officers. There will be also lots of other illuminaries. But that's essentially the sort of principal list that we will have travelling with us.
Q: You made it sound like the Secretary --
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Sorry if I said --
Q: of HUD and Energy and Agriculture -- (laughter) --
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: That may have been possible. There is, as you know, a lot of interest in this particular visit. At any rate, the next morning we are anchored off the Normandy coast and the first event of the day --
Q: What does he do the rest of the day? He makes these remarks and he has dinner, but there are hours in there. Is he walking around the ship or is there anything on the schedule?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: There will be a schedule that we can give you in general terms. There is a certain amount of free time. Obviously, we have a whole series of speeches that he is going to have to work with as well as other things that he needs to do, but at the same time there are lots of things that he will be doing during the course of his late afternoon and evening onboard the ship in terms of visiting different parts of the ship.
Q: John Eisenhower, will he be on the trip?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: John Eisenhower was here with the President the other evening and was part of our briefing group when they visited and talked. At this point I am personally not aware of his participation elsewhere in the visit, but he was certainly here the other evening as part of the group.
Q: Was Susan Eisenhower here the other the other evening?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: I don't believe so.
In terms of the schedule on Monday, June the 6th, the first event, of course, is a sunrise ceremony. This will be onboard the U.S.S. George Washington. At that point Ambassador Harriman, of course, will join the party. There will be a small number of veterans who will be coming onboard the U.S.S. George Washington as well to witness this, essentially, religious ceremony, sunrise ceremony, on Monday, June the 6th, commencing at 7:00 a.m in the morning lasting for about 45 minutes.
At that point, after the sunrise ceremony, the President then disembarks by helicopter from the U.S.S. George Washington and goes directly Pointe du Hoc. Pointe du Hoc is a U.S.-sponsored ceremony. This is the traditional Ranger ceremony, the U.S. Rangers, as you know, dramatically scaled the cliffs during the Normandy invasion. And the President will be making remarks at this ceremony. This will be relatively small in terms of attendance because this is the Ranger ceremony, compared to some of the other events, but obviously, it's very, very historically important. And given the physical setting and the history behind it, it will be quite an important, significant event.
Q: Has there been an effort sort of to keep that under control, keep it rather smaller so to avoid it being compared with President Reagan's appearance there in 1984 at all?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: There haven't been conscious efforts to do that at all. No. I think in the sense that all of the veterans who are going to be in Normandy are focusing on the American memorial cemetery which is at Colleville, that is going to be the one where I think all of the American vets will go. But keep in mind as I go through the schedule, we're talking about four major events at four major sites. And one of the things that different organizations have to do is sort of pick and choose which ones they will do.
Obviously, the Ranger memorial at Pointe du Hoc is the one that they have traditionally focused on. Other units will go to Omaha Beach and then on to Colleville. Other units will focus on Utah and then go to Colleville. The one thing toward the end of the day is that all of the travelers will focus on Colleville.
Q: How long will he speak at Pointe du Hoc?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: At Pointe du Hoc? Relatively short. I think about 10 minutes. I think that's what we're talking about. And, again, this will be a very, very moving ceremony.
After the Pointe du Hoc Ranger ceremony, there is a ceremony at Utah Beach. Again, the President's movement with the small party will be by helicopter. Utah Beach is a joint U.S.- French-sponsored event. And President Mitterrand will be there. This ceremony begins at 10:00 a.m.
Then after that, movement by the different parties, the principals will head on to the municipality of Caen. And at Caen there will be a heads of state lunch. The President and Mrs. Clinton will participate. At the same time in the town of Bayeux, there will be a ministerial lunch where our Cabinet Secretaries will participate. And yet there will be a third gathering of traveling parties, as well, during this window of approximately 12:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m. while the President and the heads of state are involved in the lunch.
The Omaha Beach ceremony starts at 2:45 p.m., lasts until 4:15 p.m. This is the international ceremony hosted by the French government. This is the big event as far as France is concerned. The President is there among the other heads of state. He does not have a speaking role. It will be a very elaborate and moving ceremony as well. It is one that the French have been working on for several years now.
That is followed by our national event. Our national event will start at 5:30 p.m. The President is expected to arrive somewhere before 5:00 p.m. and that will be at the American cemetery at Colleville. And at that point, all of the traveling parties, all of the veterans who are in Normandy, will all converge on that one particular location in Colleville. This is also, as you know, linked up live by satellite to Arlington Cemetery where the Vice President will also be presiding over similar ceremonies, including American veterans at Arlington Cemetery. And the two programs will be linked together so that the veterans who are at Arlington Cemetery will have the occasion, of course, to see the President and hear the President's remarks at Colleville. That's the culmination essentially of our commemoration of D-Day in Normandy.
The President and his traveling party then move on to Paris. He will overnight in Paris at the Ambassador's residence. Tuesday, June, the 7th, we will start that morning doing two things. One will be a brief greeting for American official staff, embassy and other official Americans there. This will be at the Ambassador's residence. And at the same time or shortly thereafter, there will also be a working lunch involving a number of French and American CEOs. These will be individuals that will be invited by Ambassador Harriman. we also have a number of other Cabinet members who happen to be in Paris that day for OECD meetings. So in addition to Secretary Bentsen and Secretary Christopher, we will also have Secretary Brown, Mickey Kantor, Secretary Reich, who will also be there participating in this CEO working breakfast.
The President will greet the people attending that breakfast at the Ambassador's residence. He will make brief remarks to that particular audience as well.
After that, we will be receiving a call by the Mayor of Paris, Jacques Chirac, who will be calling on the President at the Ambassador's residence. And then the President departs in order to make a 12:30 p.m. bilateral meeting with Prime Minister Balladur at the Hotel de Matignon, which is the Prime Minister's private residence in Paris. And that is to be followed by a luncheon with Prime Minister Balladur which runs approximately from 1:00 p.m. until 2:30 p.m. in the afternoon.
The next event on the schedule is the speech to the National Assembly. This for us is a very important speech. And as you have heard, this is one where we will lay out a number of themes in terms about the President's views of European integration. This will be one of the major policy speeches in terms of our policy toward Europe that we'll be laying out in this administration. This is very significant in the sense that the President is only the second President of the United States since -- he will be the first President since Woodrow Wilson to have been invited to and to have actually spoken before the French National Assembly. That speech time is 5:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. that evening.
In the early evening at 7:30 p.m., we will have a bilateral meeting with President Mitterrand. That will be followed by a televised program between approximately 8:10 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. It's a 15 to 20 minute program for French television where President Mitterrand and President Clinton will join together for what is essentially a conversation, an informal kind of a dialogue on French television. And after that, you will have the official dinner hosted by President Mitterrand in honor of President and Mrs. Clinton and the visiting party, which will begin at the Elysee Palace at 8:30 p.m. that evening.
The President then returns to the Ambassador's residence for another night. And the next morning essentially has a private schedule until his departure at approximately 11:40 a.m. in the morning. And we'll head on to Brize Norton Air Base, an RAF base not too far from Oxford. And then the President will then proceed to Oxford for the Oxford portion of his schedule for Wednesday, June the 8th.
In Oxford, very briefly speaking. He will have lunch with guests of Oxford University. The host will be the Chancellor of Oxford University, Lord Jenkins. This will actually be held at University College at the dining rooms where the President in fact took his meals when he was a student at Oxford.
There will be a procession --this is in the tradition of the degree ceremonies -- at Oxford. There will be a procession from University College once the President is robed out along with others in their academic robes. The procession will then proceed along the High Street -- this, of course, is a very, very good visual event; this will be open press -- until the party ends up at the Sheldonian Theatre. And the Sheldonian Theatre will actually be the site of the degree ceremony. And I've been told by our friends at Oxford when I visited there that this in fact is a real degree the President is receiving, not an honorary degree, but a real degree extended by Oxford University at this occasion at the Sheldonian Theatre.
Q: What is the difference between a real degree when you haven't completed the course of study and an honorary degree?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: That's obviously an academic question. I'll have to refer you to someone -- (laughter.) This is, obviously, I think, in recognition of the fact that he's had very significant life experience that I think applies to a degree.
Q: Is it a doctoral degree?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: It is a doctoral degree.
Q: So he will be officially Dr. Bill Clinton --
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: He will, and this, of course, is a very formal ceremony. It fits in with the tradition at Oxford. It is one of the traditional events. It will also involve, after the degree is confirmed in this formal setting, it will involve remarks by the President on this occasion, probably five to 10 minutes to those assembled and in the audience as well.
There will be, perhaps, a private program afterwards then eventually followed by the President's departure and then we head on back to Andrews that afternoon or early evening.
So, that's essentially the outlines of the schedule. You'll get a lot more detail, I think, in some of your briefing packets. There will be a lot more information in terms of the some of the venues where you're dealing -- where the President will be meeting. But that, at least, gives you an overview of what we're trying to -- what we will be doing during the course of this visit.
Any quick questions before --
Q: Mr. Reagan and Mr. Mitterrand didn't get along too well, especially at Yorktown, and Mr. Mitterrand lectured Mr. Reagan on how he should follow more clearly the ideals of democracy. I wonder if Mr. Mitterrand and Mr. Clinton have had any chance to get chummy already?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Well, you recall, of course, we did have an official visit by Prime Minister Mitterrand here last year -- by President Mitterrand, sorry -- last year and at the same time, of course, they've had several occasions, including the G-7 Summit, to get along, to have a dialogue; and there have been a number of phone conversations since that, as well.
Q: Do you know when the French and -- why the Germans and the Italians -- were not invited? What was the reason?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: To which portion? To the Normandy? I'm sorry, I really can't enlighten you on that point. But what my colleague said is -- our understanding of it is that we are not hosts in this case. We are part of the 14 heads of state that will be there.
Q: Can we assume, based on what you and your colleague have told us, that there will be no initiatives announced in any of these policy speeches -- the French Assembly and other speeches along the way, the ones not related to D-Day?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: I can't really comment on that in terms of -- I mean, what I'm trying to do is basically sort of lay out logistically for you what we'll be doing. In terms of the content of the speeches and what will be discussed in the bilaterals, those are things that are still being discussed here, in terms of what we're doing.
But as I said before, there are obviously two pieces to this whole trip -- the D-Day commemorations plus our bilateral discussions with each of these three close allies.
Q? How many members of Congress are going? And what's the conditions for inviting them?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Members of Congress -- there is of course the President's personal representative, Sam Gibbons, who is at Normandy. He will be there a few days ahead and he'll be doing a number of events there.
There is also a very large House delegation, headed by Congressman Montgomery. Then there is also a Senate delegation, headed by Senators Pell and Dole, including Senator Inouye. Senator Dole and Inouye of course, as you know, are veterans who were badly wounded in the Italian campaign. There is a fairly large congressional delegation -- three large congressional delegations that are involved.
We can provide those details for you as we know them, but they are certainly involved and have been involved in a number of our plans and will be at a number of these events with the President.
Q: Fourteen countries you say are involved? Fourteen countries, are they all European except for the U.S., U.K., Canada?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Oh, Australia is there represented, of course, and Canada.
Q: How were the veterans chosen who are going to meet with him at various times that you mentioned in the schedule?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: That's been largely sort of worked through veterans organizations, directly with our 50th Anniversary Committee and the Department of Veterans Affairs.
THE PRESS: Thank you.
END 12:13 P.M. EDT
William J. Clinton, Background Briefing by Senior Administration Officials Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/269414