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Exchange With Reporters Following a Meeting With President Jimmy Carter in Atlanta

May 03, 1994


Q. President Clinton, is military intervention on the table?

President Clinton. I agree with what President Carter said. That's basically what I said this morning, and I believe that. After all, we had an agreement, the Governors Island Agreement, which was broken. And I think the military leaders are going to have to understand that we have been very patient. After they reneged on the Governors Island Agreement, we went back and spent a few more months trying to come up with some alternative formula. President Aristide did not dispute the fact that he had to broaden his political base in order to effectively govern. He was willing to do that. And we have worked on this for months now.

For the last several weeks we keep getting reports not only of Aristide backers but of civilians being not only murdered, but mutilated.

And I think it's time for a new initiative. We're now, as you know, doing two things: We're going for stronger sanctions in the U.N. and stiffening the enforcement of the sanctions we have, consistent with what President Aristide has wanted all along. We're going to consult with all of our friends and allies in the region, and we're going to do our best to bring a conclusion to this before more people die innocently and continue to suffer. But we cannot remove the military option. We have to keep that as an option.

Q. It sounds like your patience is running out.

President Clinton. I think it has run out; maybe we've let it run on a bit too long. But we're—the United States is very sensitive to the fact that without our direct intervention, today, all governments in Latin America, Central America, and the Caribbean have elected leaders except two—Haiti has ousted theirs, and Cuba. And we have done that in a spirit of partnership at its best in Latin America. When we have intervened in the past it hasn't worked out very well.

The work that President Carter has done in Central America on elections—he's about to go back to Panama—is an example of America at its best being a genuine good neighbor to those countries. And that's the best approach. But this is an unusual and in some ways unprecedented circumstance. We're going to keep trying to find other ways to do it, but we cannot remove the military option.

South Africa

Q. Mr. President, how much aid do you have in mind for the new government in South Africa?

President Clinton. Well, I'm going to talk about that a little tonight. We're going to roughly double what we had previously scheduled.

Q. Which was?

President Clinton. And I think it will be about $600 million over 3 years, something like that. I will have the figure tonight. I'm trying to— because I asked today, ironically that you asked this, for a little more information about some of the programs, and I'm going now to prepare for the program tonight. So I'll have it nailed down exactly about what we're going to do. But we're going to have a big increase in our aid, and I hope we'll be able to sustain it for some time, because if the South African miracle can be translated from an election into the lives of the people there, then the promise that that would have for lifting all of southern Africa and setting an example that others might follow is quite extraordinary.

I think the whole world has been moved by the size of the turnout, by the profound passion of the people, and by the rather miraculous partnership between Mr. Mandela and Mr. de Klerk, and the fact that Chief Buthelezi and the Inkatha Party came back in the 11th hour, participated, and apparently have done as about projected and will be a part of the government. So I'm hoping that this is all going to work out fine.

Supreme Court Appointment

Q. Mr. President, would you appoint someone on the Supreme Court without interviewing them yourself?

President Jimmy Carter. I would.

President Clinton. Did you hear what he said? He said, "I would." [Laughter]

NOTE: The exchange began at 5:23 p.m. at the Carter Center. President Jimmy Carter made welcoming remarks and answered reporters' questions prior to the President's remarks. A tape was not available for verification of the content of this exchange.

William J. Clinton, Exchange With Reporters Following a Meeting With President Jimmy Carter in Atlanta Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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