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Exchange With Reporters in Anchorage, Alaska

April 15, 1996

[The exchange is joined in progress.]

President's Itinerary

Q. ——your stop in Korea?

The President. Have a talk with President Kim, and we'll have some things to say there about the Korean situation. It's much better than it was 3 years ago when I took office in terms of trying to minimize the North Korean nuclear problem, which was a big security problem for the United States.

And then I'm going on to Japan to reaffirm the security partnership we have with the Japanese and Asia, and then on to Russia to deal with the problems of nuclear safety. We've made a lot of progress in the last 3 years; we've got a lot to do. We have a big job to get a comprehensive test ban treaty passed, and then to deal with the aftermath of the cold war, to deal with all of those nuclear materials that are out there. We want to make sure that they don't fall into the wrong hands and someday get put to the wrong uses.

And I'm glad to be back in Alaska, even at 2 a.m. in the morning, and I thank you for coming out. I'm sorry that you all had to stay up so late.

Arctic National Wildlife Refuge

Q. Mr. President, one of the big questions concerning a lot of Alaskans is the issue of oil drilling in ANWR. Do you think there is, in the near future, any possibility of doing that environmentally sensitive development in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge?

The President. I don't know. I received your congressional delegation, and I listened to what they had to say. And we have continued to work not only in Alaska but all across America on the whole issue of reconciling development and the environment, and we continue to look for ways to do it. But you know, right now the more imminent issue as Congress comes back is whether we can pass a budget for the Interior Department that deals with the question of the Tongass, and that is the one I think that concerns Alaska that will be up on the plate in the next couple of weeks. And we've worked very hard out here to try to deal with the legitimate interests of the small loggers in trying to do some work there while preserving the oldgrowth trees that are virtually irreplaceable. So I'm hoping that that can be worked out. We've worked very, very hard on it, and we'll just take these issues as they come and see what happens.

President's Visit to South Korea

Q. President Clinton, looking at your stop in Korea, what do you hope to accomplish there with President Kim?

The President. Well, we're doing a lot of work on that. I want to wait until I see President Kim and make a definitive announcement of any kind. But we are essentially continuing on the path of a charter back in 1993. We're working on ways to not only keep the nuclear problem under control and eventually eliminate it, but also to try to do what we can to promote an ultimate reconciliation, an end to the conflict. If that could happen, then the world would be a much safer place—the whole world, and certainly the people in Northern Asia.

NOTE: The exchange began at approximately 2 a.m. at Elmendorf Air Force Base. In his remarks, the President referred to President Kim Yong-sam of South Korea. The press release issued by the Office of the Press Secretary did not include the complete opening question. A tape was not avail able for verification of the content of this exchange.

William J. Clinton, Exchange With Reporters in Anchorage, Alaska Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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