Exchange With Reporters Prior to Discussions With President Jiang Zemin of China in New York City
Permanent Normal Trade Relations With China/ National Missile Defense System
Q. Can you offer any assurances to President Jiang on the China trade bill, that it will eventually be passed, and on the national defense system that you deferred last week?
President Clinton. I believe the legislation will pass, and I'm pleased at the progress it's making in the Senate. But of course, we still have some work to do. The missile defense issue will be resolved by my successor, although I hope we get a chance to talk about it a little bit today.
Human Rights in China
Q. Mr. President, will you make any requests of President Zemin on the question of human rights as attached to the permanent normal trade relations bill?
President Clinton. We're going to discuss human rights issues, as we always do, but I feel very strongly that PNTR should pass. And I think, over the long run, it's good for the development of democracy and human rights in China, and I know it's good for America-Chinese relationships over the long run.
United Nations Security Council Summit
Q. Mr. Clinton, I know that yesterday you were present at the P-5 summit, which was a Chinese initiative. So as the President of the United States, also a permanent member of the Security Council, what would you say about the P-5 summit yesterday? And also, how do you see the role of China for international peace and security in this century?
President Clinton. Well, first of all, I think it was a very good idea by President Jiang to have the P-5 meet. I was amazed that they had never met, or hadn't met in a long time. And I think it was a very good idea. And we actually made a specific decision to, as a group, help the Secretary- General implement his report on peacekeeping and to continue to explore what else we could do together.
I think it might be a forum in the future that would provide an opportunity for Chinese cooperation with the other members of the P- 5 in a way that would be very helpful to the rest of the world, as well.
President Fidel Castro of Cuba
Q. Could you describe your encounter with Fidel Castro yesterday?
The President. What Joe said is right. It just happened. There were a whole lot of people in a line. I was talking to them. I turned around, and he was standing there. He apparently had come up and waited, and we must have—the encounter lasted just a few seconds. That's all that happened.
NOTE: The exchange began at 10:40 a.m. at the Waldorf-Astoria. In his remarks, the President referred to White House Press Secretary Joe Lockhart and United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan. A tape was not available for verification of the content of this exchange.
William J. Clinton, Exchange With Reporters Prior to Discussions With President Jiang Zemin of China in New York City Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/228451