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Exchange With Reporters Prior to Discussions With President Jacques Chirac of France in Birmingham, United Kingdom

May 15, 1998

Nuclear Proliferation in South Asia

Q. Mr. President, will you be trying to persuade the other summit leaders to impose sanctions on India?

President Clinton. First of all, I would like to thank President and Mrs. Chirac for the wonderful reception that Hillary has received in France. She was there for a couple of days; she was able to go out with Mrs. Chirac to her constituency. And she called me last night very, very excited and very pleased. And I thank you for your hospitality. It was wonderful.

President Chirac. The visit to Correze was simply fascinating, as we heard. And I certainly agree with that.

President Clinton. We're going to discuss this. As you know, I think it's important that we take a clear position. I hope we can convince Pakistan not to engage in testing. I'd like everyone to sign on to the Comprehensive Test Ban and work together to reduce the nuclear threat.

There are ways for a great nation to preserve its security without nuclear weapons, and that's what I want to focus on.

Middle East Peace Process

Q. Mr. President, there were eight people killed on the West Bank. Is that a sign people are losing hope in the peace process there, and what can you do?

President Clinton. Well, we know there's a lot of frustration there, and I regret very much the loss of life as well as the tensions which occurred there. I saw the—all I know is what I saw on television last night. But for me, the larger lesson is that delay is not the friend of peace and that we need to work very hard. I'm encouraged that Secretary Albright and Prime Minister Netanyahu are still working, and we need, I think of all us, to try to come to terms with the difficult issues that would at least get the parties into the final status talks.

We have been more than a year now without any substantial progress. And I think the larger message here, apart from the tragedies involved for everybody, is that delay is not the friend of the peace process. It's time to move.

Situation in Indonesia

[At this point, a question was asked in French, and a translation was not provided.]

President Clinton. Would you translate for the Americans?

President Chirac. Well, of course, we would like to have a peaceful solution to the Indonesian crisis—all the more, considering that Indonesia needs the international community in order to overcome the financial crisis. And of course, we will encourage fully any solution that would be liable to settle the political crisis in Indonesia.

President Clinton. Let me say, first, we have been working since last November with President Soeharto and with Indonesia to try to work through the financial crisis. The IMF has modified its plan on a couple of occasions to try to make it possible to have both reform and to minimize the harm to ordinary citizens in Indonesia.

In terms of who should govern Indonesia, that is a question for the Indonesians to decide, not the G-8. But I do believe that resolving the crisis now requires not only economic reform but also a genuine dialog between the Government and all the elements in society to try to determine how they should go forward. That, to me, is the most important thing. The result of that dialog is for them to decide, not us.

President's Health

Q. Mr. President, how is your back?

President Clinton. Great. Much better today.

NOTE: The exchange began at 1:52 p.m. at the Swallow Hotel. In his remarks, the President referred to President Chirac's wife, Bernadette, Councillor General, Correze Department; and Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu of Israel. President Chirac spoke in French, and his remarks were translated by an interpreter.

William J. Clinton, Exchange With Reporters Prior to Discussions With President Jacques Chirac of France in Birmingham, United Kingdom Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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