Press Briefing by Dee Dee Myers
The Briefing Room
6:04 P.M. EST
MS. MYERS: It's time for that exciting evening briefing, casting pearls of wisdom. It is --
Q: Casting pearls of wisdom.
Okay, tomorrow's schedule. Chancellor Kohl will arrive here around 10:30 a.m. tomorrow morning. He will proceed to the Oval Office for a working session.
Q: Photo op?
MS. MYERS: I don't show a photo op on the schedule, but I suppose there will be one. Then he'll have lunch -- after a couple of hours, he'll have lunch with Chancellor Kohl in the Old Family Dining Room at the Residence at 12:45 p.m. And then at approximately 2:00 p.m., they'll come out for a press availability in the East Room.
Tomorrow night he'll have a working dinner with members of the Senate on Russia as he is tonight with members of the House.
And then at 10:00 p.m., he get to watch the University of Arkansas versus North Carolina in the NCAA basketball game.
Q: Is there, like, coverage of this -- open coverage?
MS. MYERS: This is a sacred moment that will not be besmirched --
Q: Hey, Dee Dee --
MS. MYERS: Hey, hey, hey, that's what you guys said the last time.
Q: this working dinner with members of the House tonight is on Russia and Russian aid, principally, is that correct?
MS. MYERS: Correct.
Q: Now, can you give us a sense -- is he going to brief them on the expected contents of his aid package or what?
MS. MYERS: He's going to seek their advice and counsel. I think they'll talk about a number of things -- certainly the conversations that both Secretary of State Christopher and the President had with Foreign Minister Kozyrev and other options that have been discussed among the President's National Security Advisors and other members of Congress in recent days.
Q: Is he expected to brief them on the likely contents of his aid package for Russia?
MS. MYERS: I think he wants to get their input -- there are a number of options on the table at this point. Obviously, the White House has been working on it, as have the State Department and members of Congress, and I think that the President wants to have a conversation with them about what they think that the package should contain.
Q: Can we have a better idea of who all's coming and how many?
MS. MYERS: I don't. I don't.
MS. VOLES: Dee Dee, I have a list.
MS. MYERS: Okay. And I think that they'll probably make -- I think some of them are planning to make themselves available after the dinner, so --
Q: Oh, how nice.
Q: Will there be anybody --
Q: Where? Here?
MS. MYERS: It's up to them, yes. I think that some of them will be at the stakeout.
Q: Bipartisan starts at 8:00 p.m.?
MS. MYERS: You know, is it bipartisan? Are there Republicans on -- yes, it's bipartisan.
Q: And it starts at 8:00 p.m.?
MS. MYERS: 8:00 p.m.
Q: So it'll be over about 10:00 p.m.? If he has dinner at 8:00 p.m. tomorrow night --
MS. MYERS: Tomorrow night is 7:30 p.m. A little flex time tomorrow.
Q: Will he be able to watch the G.W.-Michigan game?
MS. MYERS: I think that that -- the only thing that matters is Arkansas-North Carolina.
Q: Does he have a bet on that game, Dee Dee, with anybody?
MS. MYERS: Not that I know of.
Q: With Dan Rather.
MS. MYERS: With Dan Rather, that's right. That's right. That's right.
Q: There's no stakes in Rather's --
MS. MYERS: They stopped short of making any stakes in last night's --
Q: He's not going to push a peanut to North Carolina or anything?
Q: Push a what?
MS. MYERS: He's -- this is a sacred occasion.
Q: A point spread is involved.
MS. MYERS: No point spreads.
Q: Now, how did it come about that people -- that these people -- did these people announced tell you they were going to arrange to be out there? Is that how that happens?
MS. MYERS: Actually I know that from -- through members of the media, that they have been -- members of the media have been contacted by the various congressmen.
Q: Oh, Jesus.
MS. MYERS: No, it's -- they're adults.
Q: So they're starting at 8:00 p.m. tonight, right?
MS. MYERS: They're starting at 8:00 p.m., and I have no idea how long that session will last.
Q: Is there anything else besides Kohl on the schedule?
MS. MYERS: No, just the dinner tomorrow night. The rest of it's just various meetings in the White House with staff and such.
Q: What's in the agenda for Kohl?
MS. MYERS: I'm sure Russia will be a major issue, as will Bosnia and other bilateral issues, trade issues.
Q: On that point, do you know anything about a report that Germany put off or suspended the start of its participation in food drops on eastern Bosnia that was scheduled to start today?
MS. MYERS: No, I don't know that it was specifically scheduled to start today. They announced their intention yesterday, but I don't know that it was specifically supposed to start today. You'd have to check with State. I don't believe that's correct.
Q: Do you have any comment on Izetbegovic signing on --
MS. MYERS: Obviously that's good news. Now two parties have signed, and I think we commend the courage and diplomacy of both the Serbian delegation and the Bosnian government. I think it's increasingly important for the Serbs to reach an agreement. They're increasingly isolated in the world community. We're going to continue to put more pressure on them through sanctions and other measures, and try to urge them to reach agreement.
Q: Why are you commending the Serbian --
MS. MYERS: I'm sorry, the Croats. The Croat delegation and the Bosnian government.
Q: I liked it better the other way.
MS. MYERS: It's a minor slip.
Q: Can you tell us what the Ukrainian meeting --
MS. MYERS: It was a good meeting, it lasted about 20 minutes. The President stressed the importance of relations with the Ukraine and all of the other former republics of the Soviet Union. He talked about working together toward more economic cooperation, and he particularly stressed his desire to see Ukraine join, both to ratify START and to join the Nonproliferation Treaty -- very important.
Q: The response?
MS. MYERS: They want to work -- have a good working relationship and cooperation. They didn't give any specific response to that, but we're hopeful that they'll ratify START and move toward joining the Nonproliferation Treaty.
Q: They've been talking recently about how, with the situation in Russia as it is, they're reluctant to give up the missiles. Did they resist the President's comments?
MS. MYERS: I think they expressed their concerns. Obviously they're watching developments in Russia very closely, and I think that they talked about that a little bit. But the President believes very strongly that they should ratify START and move toward joining the Nonproliferation Treaty.
Q: Was there a discussion of the security guarantees?
MS. MYERS: I don't know.
Q: I don't know if you already answered this, but are Kohl and Clinton going to answer questions afterwards?
MS. MYERS: Yes, at 2:00 p.m. tomorrow in the East Room.
Q: It's the same thing as Mulroney and Major?
MS. MYERS: Right. It's the standard working visit for a head of state; what's become our standard schedule.
Q: Are they discussing G-7 aid in general with Chancellor Kohl? Is --
MS. MYERS: I'm sure it will come up, as it --
Q: Is he pressing Germany to come up with its own package for Russia?
MS. MYERS: No.
Q: How does he see that? Does he see each of the seven countries as coming up with their own packages, rather than a coordinated effort?
MS. MYERS: No, at this point we're working on coming up with a U.S. package and working with the allies to come up with a G-7 package. And the President, as you know, discussed that with Prime Minister Mulroney this week and Prime Minister Major, and tomorrow we'll discuss that, among other things, with Chancellor Kohl.
Q: The President, as I understand, plans to outline the U.S. package at the summit. Does he want the other members of the G-7 to present their packages in advance of the Tokyo summit?
MS. MYERS: That hasn't been discussed in any specific terms that I know of between the President and other heads of state. Again, what he's looking at is the U.S. package and then working with
members of the G-7 to come up with a G-7 package before the summit in Tokyo; and as you know, we're looking toward some kind of another early meeting of G-7 in April.
Q: So he doesn't want the G-7 package in advance of the Tokyo summit?
MS. MYERS: Oh, that's certainly the goal.
Q: Has it been decided whether he's going to do a Russia speech before Vancouver?
MS. MYERS: I don't expect it. There's nothing scheduled. There could be some discussion of what the aid package is. But there was some talk earlier -- I've been asked if there was going to be sort of a big policy speech on Russia. I wouldn't completely rule it out, but it's not scheduled.
Q: In terms of presenting the aid package, starting to sell the aid package?
MS. MYERS: I wouldn't rule it out altogether. At this point, we don't have any specific plans to do it.
Q: Back on Bosnia for a second. George was very circumspect in his briefing, obviously knowing something was close to happening after Owen had overnight said nothing was going to happen. Was there some U.S. effort, something the government did to get them back to the table to sign this -- some specific proposal?
MS. MYERS: I don't know if it was some particular thing that was said or done. I think it was a continued commitment to bringing the parties to the table and to pressing for agreement. This morning, I think what we said was that we were encouraged that the parties were still in New York, and it's been an up and down process and there have been occasional breakdowns, but it's encouraging that the Bosnian government has now signed on to the agreement, and we're hopeful that the Serbs will follow suit.
Q: Do you have any indication that that's in the offing?
MS. MYERS: They're still negotiating, so I think that's encouraging. It's never been an easy process. But the Serbian government is continually isolated, they're going to be under increasing pressure from the international community to stop shelling cities -- Sarajevo and other cities in eastern Bosnia, and we're going to continue to tighten the sanctions and put pressure on them and, hopefully, they'll -- we expect that eventually the no-fly zone will be enforced and we're going to keep pressing them to come and reach agreement.
Q: Dee Dee, aren't you welcoming Bosnia's acceptance of a plan the President said may short-change Bosnian Muslims?
MS. MYERS: The President has said that if the parties reach agreement we'll help to enforce and implement that agreement.
Q: Is it not the same plan though he said shortchanged Bosnian Muslims?
MS. MYERS: He said he was concerned about shortchanging Bosnian Muslims, but what he said is that we would support a plan that the parties could agree to and we maintain that position.
Q? Has he dropped his reservations about the plan, or --
MS. MYERS: I think that he has always said that we hoped that the parties could reach some kind of agreement, and if they did, that we would work with them to help implement and enforce it. He's very concerned about what's happening in Eastern Bosnia right now, which is why we're continuing to put pressure on the Serbs to reach an agreement.
Q: What does the weekend look like?
MS. MYERS: Radio address at 10:00 a.m. on Saturday, Gridiron on Saturday night, and that's all as of now.
Q: Subject of the radio address?
MS. MYERS: Probably the passage of the economic program, among other things.
Q: No news from Arkansas?
MS. MYERS: No change in Mr. Rodham's --
Q: What about the First Lady's --
MS. MYERS: She's still there, and there has been no change in that, either. I mean, she'll remain there for the short term.
Q: Is Chelsea still there?
MS. MYERS: Yes. She's on spring break this week.
Q: When the President issued a memo on February 10th directing the Executive Branch to make available information on the cost and use of airplanes -- military airplanes -- for purposes upon request, he didn't put any conditions on it, but I understand it may have been referred back to you. I'm trying to find out just how to implement that. The Departments aren't doing it and they're referring it back to the White House, which is not responding. What did the President mean?
MS. MYERS: February 10th, memo on what?
Q: On using airplanes -- military airplanes being used by Executive Branch people that -- destinations and costs of trips were to be made available upon request.
MS. MYERS: Available to whom?
Q: To the public, to the press, to anyone.
MS. MYERS: I'll have to look into that. I don't remember that.
Q: That was the same one that dealt with coach travel and other things.
Q: Speaking of that, did you ever get the numbers on the cost comparison between using the 747 and the C9?
Q: Excuse me. Dee Dee, we were referred back to you through the departments; and then when I come to you for a couple days, you haven't responded. I mean, what is there to check?
MS. MYERS: You asked me to check on what the President meant when he issued a statement on February 10th, and I don't know what the President -- I don't recall that particular directive. But I will look into it for you.
Q: The entire government is pointing it at you and is saying that you're the person and that you've directed them to do this. So --
MS. MYERS: The weight of the entire federal government. I don't know if I can handle it.
Q: So far, not so good.
MS. MYERS: I'll have to look into what the status of the cost comparison was. I don't know how that was conducted.
Q: Dee Dee, last week a group of 54 senators, including Senator Mitchell, a bipartisan majority, sent Clinton a letter seeking an EO on trying to stop pollution at the source instead of cleaning it up after. Has he responded and is he considering an Executive Order?
MS. MYERS: It's under review. I don't think there's been any formal response yet.
Q: Dee Dee, tonight, I may have missed this at the top, is the purpose of the meeting with these members of Congress to solicit their opinions on the development of the aid package?
MS. MYERS: Absolutely. Correct.
Q: Or to tell them what is happening?
MS. MYERS: No, to talk to them about what's on the table, what's been proposed, what Foreign Minister Kozyrev had to say and to discuss -- to get their input on what the package should include.
THE PRESS: Thank you.
END6:14 P.M. EST
William J. Clinton, Press Briefing by Dee Dee Myers Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/272095