Exchange With Reporters Prior to a Meeting With Congressional Leaders
The President. Is everyone in? Ladies and gentlemen, we are about to begin a meeting between the congressional leadership and the administration to discuss our progress in Bosnia and where we're going from here. But before we do, let me begin by saying a thank you to the leadership of Congress for their successful effort to avoid any kind of interruption in our Government operations as we work toward a balanced budget over the next several weeks.
This is the kind of cooperation that makes it possible for our country not only to work but to be great. And I hope that we will have more of it. It is also the kind of cooperation, frankly, that was really being celebrated yesterday when we marked another important milestone on the road to peace in the Middle East.
American leadership has worked for peace in the Middle East through Democratic and Republican administrations for a very long time now, step by step, with discipline and determination over years. And yesterday, we celebrated the product of that kind of effort.
Let me also say that I believe we must continue to work together in Bosnia, and I very much appreciate the expressions of support that have come from leaders in both parties for the efforts that we have been making in recent weeks.
We are now closer to a settlement because of the initiatives we've taken than at any time in the last 4 years because of the combined impacts of the NATO air strikes, the United States diplomatic initiative, and the changes that have occurred on the ground. If and when there is a peace agreement, as I have said since early 1993, I believe America must be a part of helping to implement that agreement, because NATO will have to do it in order for it to work, and we are the leaders of NATO.
I have consistently opposed the involvement of our troops in any combat and in this United Nations mission, but this is a very different thing, and I believe it's very, very important that we play a part of it.
I just received an update from our team and the work they're doing, and I can tell you that we are now seeing some serious discussion of the possibility of a cease-fire, which I hope can be successfully concluded as a prelude to getting into the other details of the agreement.
But I'm looking forward to this meeting. I thank Senator Dole, the Speaker, for being here, and Senator Daschle, Congressman Bonior, and all of the others who are here. And we're looking forward to the meeting.
And I thank you for the continuing resolution. If, as expected, it passes today, I expect to sign it as soon as it hits my desk. And as I said, that's a good omen for our efforts to successfully conclude an effort to balance the budget.
Q. Can I ask Senator Dole to comment on Pete Wilson's decision to drop out of the Presidential race? Is this going to help your prospects of challenging the President next November?
Q. That's a fast jump from Bosnia.
Senator Bob Dole. No, I haven't had a chance to talk to the President about it, so—[laughter].
Q. Does this mean there's no room in the Republican Party for moderate Republicans?
Senator Strom Thurmond. This is not a political meeting.
Senator Dole. Yes—I don't like to answer questions at the President's meeting. I'll be happy to do it later.
Q. Excuse me. Can you tell us more about this possible cease-fire?
The President. No. I mean—and I literally can't tell you more about it. I can tell you that it's being seriously discussed and the parties are talking about how they feel about it and what the obstacles to it are at the present moment. And that's all I can tell you at the present time.
Q. Do you think it's—[inaudible].
The President. No, I didn't say that. I don't know that. I don't know that it's not. I don't know. The answer to that is, I don't know.
Q. Will it happen today or——
The President. I don't know. I think that's highly unlikely. Thank you.
NOTE: The President spoke at 1:20 p.m. in the Truman Conference Center of the New Executive Office Building.
William J. Clinton, Exchange With Reporters Prior to a Meeting With Congressional Leaders Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/219669