Bill Clinton photo

Exchange With Reporters in Seattle

December 01, 1999

Disruption of the Seattle Round

Q. Mr. President, what message do the violence and protests send to the WTO officials and delegates here?

The President. Let me say this: I think that the WTO officials are quite well aware that the violence is not representative of how the American people feel, that nearly 100 percent of our people abhor what was done and condemn it. We don't believe in violence. We don't believe in people who keep other people from meeting. We don't like that.

I think that what the WTO people are here is to pay attention to the nonviolent protests and should open the process and find a way to legitimately consider the grievances of the poorest nations, as well as those of us who believe that we have to give greater concern to the environment and to labor standards and our trade measures. And I think—that's what I think they should listen to. They should give no consideration to the violent people because nobody supports them, nobody believes in it, and what they did was wrong. It was just vandalism.

Q. Can a peaceful message go through?

The President. I hope so. That's more up to you, than me. [Laughter]

Thank you.

NOTE: The exchange began at 1:07 p.m. while the President greeted the crowd at the ropeline following his remarks at the Port of Seattle. A tape was not available for verification of the content of this exchange.

William J. Clinton, Exchange With Reporters in Seattle Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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