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Exchange With Reporters Prior to Discussions With Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto of Japan in New York City

September 24, 1996


Q. President Clinton, what do you think about the idea of floating offshore facility for a U.S. military base in Okinawa?

The President. Well, let me say, first of all, I very much appreciate the work that the Prime Minister has done in trying to resolve this matter to the satisfaction of the people of Okinawa and in a way that is consistent with the security relationship between the United States and Japan. And I intend to keep working on it, and we are prepared to do whatever is reasonable to respond to the concerns of the people of Okinawa, consistent with the absolute importance of our military readiness. So we'll just keep working on this and hope we can come to a satisfactory conclusion.

[At this point, one group of reporters left the room, and another group entered.]

Prime Minister Hashimoto. We agree on the major point between ourselves at the moment that we cannot have a meaningful conversation while the microphones are on. [Laughter]

Federal Reserve Board

Q. Mr. President, the Fed is meeting today to decide whether to raise interest rates. Do you think the Fed has any cause to raise interest rates at this time?

The President. Well, I'm going to continue my policy of not commenting on their decisions. I will say this: I am very pleased that we have strong growth and no sign of inflation. I feel good about that. But they have to make their decisions; I can't comment on that.

Q. Well, do you believe there's any justification whatsoever, economic or otherwise, to raise interest rates?

The President. I don't know what you mean by "otherwise."

United Nations

Q. Mr. President, you said today that some Americans don't appreciate the U.N. and have made it difficult for the United States to pay its dues. Were you talking about anybody in particular, maybe like Senator Dole and Mr. Gingrich? Did you have them in mind?

The President. No, I was talking about everybody who believes that we—that the U.N. is, in effect, not important to the United States and to our future. I believe it is important to our future. I think it's also important that the United States and some of our friends, especially Great Britain, have pushed the U.N. for reform. And the Japanese have supported that.

We like the idea that the U.N.'s budget has been frozen and that the bureaucracy is being reduced. And I think the people in Congress in both parties who have pushed for that were right, and they should be complimented for that. But I think that having launched this process of reform, if we want to continue to have influence over it, at least we have to pay what we owe here and pay up our past-due obligations. That's the point I was making. I think that we are helped by having a system of shared burdens throughout the world, and I think most Americans feel that way.

Q. Mr. President, did you discuss the Secretary-General's term when you met with him this morning?

The President. I didn't, because he and everyone else knows our position. They know it's firm. There was nothing to talk about.

Q. In other words, there was nothing he could say or do, sir, that would change your mind perhaps after the election?

The President. There was nothing to discuss. Our position is clear and is set, and there was nothing to talk about.

NOTE: The exchange began at 11:42 a.m. at the U.S. Mission to the United Nations. In his remarks, the President referred to United Nations Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali.

William J. Clinton, Exchange With Reporters Prior to Discussions With Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto of Japan in New York City Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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