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Exchange With Reporters Following Discussions With Deputy President Thabo Mbeki of South Africa in Cape Town

March 26, 1998

President's Visit

Q. Mr. President, what did you discuss, sir?

President Clinton. First of all, I thanked Mr. Mbeki on behalf of the United States for the remarkable work that he and Vice President Gore have done on their Binational Commission on a whole range of issues affecting the economy, the environment, education, and a lot of our foreign policy issues. It's been a remarkable partnership, and it owes a lot to the leadership of Mr. Mbeki—a remarkable relationship.

So we talked about that. We talked about some of the progress we are making in our long-term objectives for Africa. I reviewed my trip for him, talked about the declaration that the heads of government and state made yesterday in Entebbe.

I pointed out that the United States has just made its first purchase—the Department of Defense has—from South Africa of a mobile demining equipment which has the interesting name of Chubby—named after me maybe. [Laughter] But it will help us a lot. We are increasing our budget this year for demining around the world, taking up these landmines. And President Mandela and South Africa have been leaders in the world of the movement to rid the world of landmines, and I think it's quite fitting that they have produced this great piece of equipment that we'll be able to use to take even more of the mines out of the land.

Q. What's your impression, Mr. President, being the first American President to South Africa?

President Clinton. Well, I'm thrilled. I've wanted to come here, as I've told you many times, for a long, long time. And Hillary was here a year ago this month; of course, the Vice President comes frequently; so I've heard a lot about it. And I've studied these pictures of Cape Town for years. I couldn't wait to—it's even more beautiful in person than it is in the photographs.

Q. [Inaudible]—new perception of Africa, Mr. President, now that you've been here for the last 2 days?

President Clinton. I'm sorry, what did you say?

Q. Are you changing the perception for the American people, do you think, by being here?

President Clinton. Well, I hope so. I hope— one of the main purposes of this trip for me was to enable the American people to see the new South Africa and a new Africa, to see the good, positive things that are happening in Africa, and to understand why it is very much in the interest of the American people to have a partnership with the nations of Africa for meeting the common challenges we're going to face in the 21st century and for seizing the opportunities that we have in common.

Today, when I speak to the South Africa Parliament, I will be joined by quite a large delegation of Americans, including a significant number of American business people who are interested in trade and investment possibilities here and other places in this continent. And I hope that the American people will see that.

I think too often in the past, American images of Africa generally have come when there was a problem here or have been a part of the people thinking about traveling here because of the natural beauty and the wildlife. I don't think we see enough of the concrete possibilities for real partnership. And so I hope this trip will change that.

Situation in Iraq

Q. [Inaudible]—the inspectors today made an inspection of Iraqi sensitive sites, Presidential sites. Have you gotten any reports on that?

President Clinton. No, but I'm glad that they're inspecting the sites. I think that's a good thing, and it means that so far the agreement is holding. And that's all we ever wanted. We just want to see the U.N. inspectors complete their work. So I'm encouraged.

Press Secretary Mike McCurry. Last question. Thank you.

President Clinton. One for Mr. Mbeki.

Trade With Africa

Q. You're quoted on French radio, Mr. Deputy President, as saying that Mr. Clinton's formula of trade, not aid, is wrong. Did you discuss this with him?

Deputy President Mbeki. Well, I didn't say that of the President. [Laughter] And I've seen this particular newspaper, and it's wrong. I didn't say that. And I indeed—we receive significant amounts of aid from the U.S. Government. I don't think President Clinton is against us receiving aid. I don't think the question is correctly posed. What we are saying is, indeed, we need to move with regard to the development of Africa to address these matters of increased trade interaction between Africa and the rest of the world, including the United States, but that it's wrong to put that to say trade and therefore not aid, that you need to address both matters.

And those particular remarks were general remarks, not directed against anybody or country.

President Clinton. Let me—if I could just respond to that, my formula would be, with regard to Africa, we should have trade and aid. Indeed, I'm making an attempt at this very moment, along with our administration, to get aid levels through our United States Congress which would permit me to increase aid to Africa, to go back to our historically highest level of aid to Africa. But what I believe is that countries and individual citizens in the developing nations of the world, not just in Africa but throughout the world, will never be able to rise to the level of middle class nations with huge numbers of people earning good, sustainable incomes, unless they do it through the energy of private economic interchange, through trade and investment. I just think that the evidence is there that that is the case.

On the other hand, to get countries to the take-off point and to deal with troubled populations or disadvantaged populations within developing countries, we have to continue the aid program. So while it's true that we're putting much more emphasis on trade and investment in the last 5 years, I don't think that we should abandon our aid approach.

And in fact, just this morning, some of you went with me out to the housing project where you could see just across the highway that people had been living literally in shanties and were now in their own homes. And our aid programs contribute to the ability of people to build their own homes for themselves. Without the aid, they couldn't afford to do it. With the aid, they have a chance to have good housing and to become more prosperous citizens. So I think we should do both things.

Thank you.

NOTE: The exchange began at 2:40 p.m. at the Cape Grace Hotel. In his remarks, the President referred to President Nelson Mandela of South Africa. A tape was not available for verification of the content of this exchange.

William J. Clinton, Exchange With Reporters Following Discussions With Deputy President Thabo Mbeki of South Africa in Cape Town Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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