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Exchange With Reporters Prior to Discussions With President Kim Dae-jung of South Korea in New York City

September 07, 2000

Middle East Peace Process

Q. Mr. President, how did your Middle East meetings go yesterday? And are there any more meetings planned—did you make any progress?

The President. Well, I think they went basically well. They were good, constructive meetings. I think they both very much want an agreement, and they understand they have a limited time in which to achieve it. And we discussed a whole range of things, in terms of where we were and where we were going.

I don't know if there will be any more meetings while we're here. I worked until late in the night last night, and as you see, I'm here with President Kim, and I have a few other meetings, and then we'll see where we are and what, if anything, else should be done while we're here. But I'm confident there will be a serious effort to work through these things over the next few weeks.

Q. Would that include a summit, sir, before the end of October?

The President. Well, there's been no discussion of that.

Oil Prices

Q. Can you tell us a little bit about your meeting with the Saudi Prince yesterday, any discussion of oil production?

The President. Yes, we talked about it. You know, I told him that I was very concerned that the price of oil was too high, not just for America but for the world, that if it's a cause of recession in any part of the world, that would hurt the oil producing countries, and there are other reasons why it was not in their interest. And he agreed with that. He's been very strong about that.

And I said I certainly hoped that when OPEC met, there would be an increase in production, because that was the policy they adopted. Remember, they adopted a policy that said if the price got outside the range—as I remember the range, it was $22, $28 a barrel—and they would take appropriate action. So I hope that they will.

Of course, in the United States, we had a particular concern because our inventories are at a 24-year low and because in this region, New York and up north, are so dependent on heating oil. And we're attempting now to fill our reserve and to look at what all of our options are, particularly for meeting the home heating oil needs of the American people. So we're working on all that.

I also will say it's not too late for Congress to pass the long-term energy agenda I've had up there for a couple of years, which will make us relatively less reliant on oil by increasing conservation and alternative technologies and energy sources. And I certainly hope that we'll be able to persuade them to pass that in this environment before they go home.

Korean Unification

Q. On Korean unification, do you see any prospects, sir?

The President. Well, I think you ought to ask President Kim. I think the main thing I would like to say about that is that I think he has done a brave and a good thing, not only for the people of his country and North Korea but for the whole stability of the region by taking this initiative. It has been very impressive to me, and I have strongly supported it. And I will continue to strongly support it. I think it's not only good on a human level but for the long-term security of the Korean Peninsula and all of east Asia—I think it is a very, very positive goal. We will continue to be supportive.

NOTE: The exchange began at 10:03 a.m. at the Waldorf-Astoria. In his remarks, the President referred to Crown Prince Abdullah of Saudi Arabia. A tape was not available for verification of the content of this exchange.

William J. Clinton, Exchange With Reporters Prior to Discussions With President Kim Dae-jung of South Korea in New York City Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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