Press Briefing by Dee Dee Myers
The Briefing Room
1:37 P.M. EDT
MS. MYERS: A couple of quick announcements before we get going. Let's start with the dinner tonight. There have been a lot of questions about that. The President will have an opportunity tonight to meet with individuals who either have historical perspectives on World War II, particularly D-Day, or actually participated. The guests include historians, veterans, members of Congress.
A few names: Forrest Pogue, who is a well-known D-Day historian; Steven Ambrose; Carlo D'Este, Paul Fussell, John Keegan and Brigadier General Harold "Hal" Nelson. Among some of the veterans who will be there, General Andrew Goodpasture, who served in Italy and Normandy; former Senator Terry Sanford, who served in France and at the Battle of the Bulge; Secretary Bentsen, who was in the Army Air Corps in the Italian theatre; Congressman Sam Gibbons, who served in the 101st Airborne and parachuted into Normandy behind the Utah Beach force on D-Day; Ken Bargmann, who was a Ranger who served at Pointe du Hoc; and Major General Adrian St. John, who landed at Utah Beach on D-Day. Secretary Christopher, and John Eisenhower, the son of President Eisenhower, will also be there.
MS. MYERS: None.
Q: Bob Michel?
MS. MYERS: I don't think so.
Just a couple other points --
Q: What's the purpose of the dinner?
MS. MYERS: The purpose of the dinner is this is part of the President's overall preparation for D-Day and the upcoming Europe trip. He's begun a full week of preparation. Yesterday he had a meeting with staff here at the White House. This afternoon he'll meet again from 3:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. with staff on D-Day, and then have the dinner tonight.
Tomorrow he'll give the speech at the Naval Academy, which, in part, I think will look forward to D-Day. He'll have additional briefings on Thursday and Friday as well as a couple interviews, some with European media, in anticipation of that.
For you all, there will be a briefing -- which I've lost the list of, so maybe you can get another copy. There will a briefing tomorrow at 3:00 p.m., which will focus on D-Day itself and it will include mostly military historians. And then Friday morning will be another briefing that -- probably around 11:30 a.m. -- that will focus more on the policy aspects, the bilateral, and the President's objectives in terms of policy. That will be Tony Lake, Jenonne Walker and a few other -- yes, Steve Oxman from the State Department and Bob Bell, also from NSC.
Q: Is this the Friday briefing?
MS. MYERS: This is Friday. Tomorrow's will be 3:00 p.m. and it will be military historians largely, and it will focus very much --
Q: Some of the people from the dinner?
MS. MYERS: Yes, they're going to bring a list and -- some of the people from the dinner. So as soon as Dave comes back with that I'll give that to you.
Q: What will the rest of the Annapolis speech be about?
Q: Can I just stay on this for a second?
MS. MYERS: Sure.
Q: Can we do this?
MS. MYERS: I'll come back to that.
Q: I'd like to get it on tape.
MS. MYERS: We'll keep going here for a couple of minutes. Let me answer Bill and I'll come back to logistics for tomorrow.
There are 874 midshipmen and women graduating tomorrow. The President will look at this as an opportunity to talk a little bit about the generation that fought on D-Day to secure the peace and then come home and build the economy, and the importance of the President's generation and this generation of Americans building on that sacrifice and building on the peace that ensued from that sacrifice.
I think he'll commend them, of course, for their hard work at the academy, for their preparation to lead the country. And then, I think he'll talk to them a bit about the unique challenges that they face in the post-Cold War world -- on the importance of maintaining a well-trained, well-equipped, high-morale fighting force; protecting the defense budget; of maintaining a strategy that acknowledges the realities of this new world; and on being willing to use force to protect America's interests.
Q: Will he talk about cheating?
MS. MYERS: He will certainly make -- in a sort of indirect way talk about some of the challenges that have faced the Naval Academy recently. But certainly, there will be a section about that.
Q: Tomorrow with the historians is on the record?
MS. MYERS: Yes, we haven't really talked much about the parameters, but it's on the record. It's meant --
Q: Senior historian.
MS. MYERS: Yes, senior White House historian. (Laughter.)
Q: Could we possibly also get Friday on the record?
MS. MYERS: We'll discuss that. I think, certainly, we haven't even really looked at it.
For tomorrow, the briefers will be General Hal Nelson, who is at the dinner tonight. He is the Director of the Center for Military History at the Pentagon -- Captain Linton researched the planning for Operation Overlord, which was the invasion of Normandy; Retired Lt. General Harry Kinnard, who is a D-Day veteran; and Colonel John Sullivan, who is familiar with the commemoration activities that are planned for this year.
Q: Will we have a briefing on logistics of what kind of attire we should have, and that sort of thing -- weather-wise and anything that will give us some sort of incite --
MS. MYERS: Sort of a walk through the schedule with some sense -- we don't have anything planned, but we can certainly do that. Anne Edwards or one of the people who is intimately familiar with the logistical details. Maybe early next week would be the best time.
Q: There is a report that a warship fired a warning shot -- fired warning shots at a ship which was breaking the embargo in --
Q: Haiti, right?
Q: supplies to Haiti.
MS. MYERS: Yes, it was in Haiti. There was a ship last night -- well, actually last night, this morning -- a Panamanian ship -- there's actually been two incidents and you may need to go to DOD for all of the details -- I would refer you to DOD, the Pentagon for more details, but I'll tell you what I know.
Q: They said not DOD, Dee Dee. (Laughter.)
MS. MYERS: Dee Dee talking about DOD on D-Day -- it's so confusing. (Laughter.)
Two incidents. One was a Bahamian vessel which was stopped at one point by I believe it was originally Canadian vessels. It was diverted, then it came back, was sort of warned by a U.S. Navy vessel -- a warning shot was fired, and the vessel pulled into port in Haiti in Jacmel. It is still in port. We're ascertaining what to do about it there. There is a second one which was a Panamanian vessel, which was fired upon, which was stopped, was boarded this morning by Coast Guard personnel who do the inspections. And they, as of about an hour ago, were still on board.
Q: Do I understand that the first vessel was fired upon and then allowed to dock?
MS. MYERS: Correct. It was fired upon further offshore, it got too close; the decision was made no to take any additional action, because it was too close to shore at that point.
Q: Was that the one over the weekend? Is that the one you're talking about?
MS. MYERS: One was last night and one was over the weekend. Correct. The Bahamian vessel was Sunday.
Q: Was it allowed to unload?
MS. MYERS: I don't know what the status of it is. You have to check with DOD to see exactly what's happening on the ground.
Q: The other was a Canadian?
MS. MYERS: No. The Bahamian vessel was stopped by Canadians, diverted, then came back and was engaged by U.S. vessels. It is now docked, is in port, and we are looking at what to do next about it.
Q: How are you defining engaged, Dee Dee? Were they warning shots that were fired at the ship?
MS. MYERS: Well, the first thing they do is they were asked to stop, and then, yes, there were shots fired across the bough when they didn't stop after being asked to stop.
Q: Did they stop?
MS. MYERS: At which point? One stopped. This is two separate incidents.
Q: In other words, we're not enforcing our own embargo? Not only are we not getting assistance from other people --
MS. MYERS: No, that's not true. First of all, that --
Q: but we're backing down when a ship -- there was a warning shot. We let them land.
MS. MYERS: That is not true. First of all, there have been -- over 1,000 vessels have been stopped and boarded and inspected since October of '93. Of those, 81 were diverted for carrying prohibited cargo. There have been a couple of incidents where --
MS. MYERS: Eighty-one, correct, since October of '93. There have been a couple of incidents, I believe four total incidents where warning shots have been fired. In three of those incidents, the ships have stopped. In this last incident, the Bahamian ship put into port. The commander made a decision not to take additional action because the ship was too close to shore and he did not want to endanger citizens in port. That ship is still in port, and I think we're looking at what the next step should be.
So I think -- I would also point out that there is a fleet of eight vessels, six U.S., one Argentine and one Canadian, who are patrolling the waters and enforcing the embargo. And enforcement by sea has been quite successful.
Q: Are the naval vessels authorized to do anything more than fire warning shots?
MS. MYERS: You'd have to go to DOD for the specific rules of engagement, but I believe the answer is yes.
Q: So when you say you're looking at what you could do with this vessel that's landed, what could you possibly do if there are no DOD personnel on the ground in Haiti? Do you have any expectation you might be able to stop it from off-loading?
MS. MYERS: Again, DOD -- you'd have to check with them on what exactly is happening. At some point I would imagine the ship would try to leave. Unless maybe it doesn't want to.
Q: Why would it try to leave before unloading?
MS. MYERS: Yes, again, you'd have to check with the Pentagon for exactly what the status of -- what the rules of engagement are and what the status of the next steps are.
Q: Will the traditional amnesty at Annapolis apply to the midshipmen involved in the engineering test scandal that were allowed not to resign? I mean, some of them were forced to quit, but there's a number of them that were not and they were disciplined. Does amnesty cover them?
MS. MYERS: I'd have to take that. I think, generally, the amnesties apply to only a certain categories of demerits or however they categorize this. But I'll take that and find out.
Q: We can stop the ships from breaking the embargo, but once they have done so, can we impose punitive action such as forcing them to stay in port?
MS. MYERS: That's one of the things I think they're looking at, exactly what the options are now and what the next steps might be. And I just don't have anything more on that right now.
Q: Dee Dee, can you tell us what recommendations the President's received from Secretary Christopher on MFN?
MS. MYERS: No, not specifically, but a couple of things. He met yesterday with Secretary Christopher, Tony Lake and others on to discuss the status of China's compliance with the executive order. There are additional discussions going on today. There will be a principals meeting this evening on it. The President may drop by, although that's not guaranteed --
Q: What time?
MS. MYERS: At 5:00 p.m. And he's right now reviewing the situation and we'll make a decision on it by the 3rd.
Q: Is there any chance that he would make the decision as we're heading to Europe? I mean, would he decide this as late as the 1st or the 2nd?
MS. MYERS: The deadline is June 3rd, and all I will say is that he will make it by that deadline.
Q: Dee Dee, any chance this week?
MS. MYERS: I wouldn't rule it out. But I'm not going to lock him into anything other than he's set a deadline, which is June 3rd; he'll make a decision by June 3rd.
Q: Can we go back a second to Haiti? The President put a lot of emphasis on intensifying the embargo. Here's a case of successfully running the embargo. Has he asked --
MS. MYERS: Let's put it into perspective. One ship out of 1,004 that have been approached by one of the ships enforcing the embargo has actually put into port.
Q: But the might of the Canadian and U.S. navies has proved porous in this instance. My question --
MS. MYERS: One out of 1,000. That's correct.
Q: Has the President asked for an immediate report from the Pentagon as to why this thing was allowed to occur?
MS. MYERS: The Pentagon is handling it, and I think they are on top of the situation.
Q: But my question is whether the President's interested in knowing what happened.
MS. MYERS: To the best of my knowledge, the President has not asked for a full report on this. He believes the Pentagon is perfectly capable of handling it. The Navy and Coast Guard have done an excellent job of enforcing sanctions by sea and will continue to do so.
One other point. Ambassador Bill Gray will head to the Dominican Republic tomorrow with a team to meet with President Ballaguer and others to discuss additional sanctions enforcement over land. And the U.N. team down there that includes one American customs inspector is wrapping up its work today; is expected back tomorrow and will make a report to the Secretary General on the Sanctions Committee on their findings on ways that we can help improve through technical means and sanctions enforcement there.
Q: Is Mr. Gray taking a very strong message?
MS. MYERS: I think he will make it clear that this is important to us, that we expect the Dominican Republic to help --that the enforcement of the embargo is important to us and that we expect the Dominican Republic to help in that regard.
Q: Is the meeting with Ballaguer tomorrow?
MS. MYERS: He's heading down tomorrow. I don't know what his schedule is once he gets there.
Q: Will he go to Haiti, too?
MS. MYERS: Don't know the details. I would imagine while he's down there he will. But they were still putting together the schedule this afternoon.
Q: Is Gray hand-carrying a specific written message from the President to the President of the Dominican Republic?
MS. MYERS: I don't think it's written, but he's certainly going to convey our position, our views on enforcing the embargo.
Q: And do you know how many ships -- you mentioned this thousand figure since last October -- do you know how many ships have been dealt with since the President's Mother's Day announcement here on tightening the sanctions?
MS. MYERS: I don't. I can take that and see if it's broken down since two weeks ago.
Q: That was my question, but also, has the government been in touch with Bahamian authorities to discuss this ship?
MS. MYERS: Again, you'd have to talk to DOD. I'm not sure what contacts have been made.
Q: Is there any progress in getting a third country to process Haitians?
MS. MYERS: Discussions, consultations ongoing; nothing to report at this point.
Q: On Dominican Republic, Randall Robinson has been critical of the administration in recent days for not using sugar quotas as leverage to get better enforcement of the embargo. Has this been ruled out, or is this still possible to deny sugar quotas to the Dominican Republic if contraband material continues to --
MS. MYERS: At this point our view is that we're working with the Dominican government. Again, the U.N. assessment team has been there for the last several days, are wrapping up their work today. And Ambassador Gray will meet with President Ballaguer and others tomorrow.
We have had a good dialogue with the Dominican government; we expect to keep working with them. And that's our tack at this point.
Q: But you're not brandishing the threat of eliminating or reducing sugar quotas?
MS. MYERS: No. We're working with them. They understand this is important not just to the United States but to the international community, and that we expect them to help seal that border off and help enforce sanctions. And we're willing to provide whatever technical assistance we can towards that end. And I think certainly Ambassador Gray will make that clear, as others have.
Q: What criteria will the administration use in determining whether these sanctions are having the effect that you hoped for?
MS. MYERS: I think the criteria is that the military leaders resign. We'll see, certainly there's been measurable impact on the Haitian economy of the more limited sanctions. There's been a great reduction in manufacturing output in their industrial capacity, things like that. Unemployment, as you know, is very high.
So we'll continue to monitor signs like that while maintaining a stepped up humanitarian assistance program. And we'll see how things proceed. But ultimately, the objective is to see the military leaders step down or leave the country.
Q: Do you see any sign from their side of a weakening of resolve, or a reaching out for overtures to a third party, or anything like that?
MS. MYERS: At the end of two and a half days, nothing concrete to report.
Q: Has Secretary Christopher presented written formal recommendations on MFN to China to the President?
MS. MYERS: He has not.
Q: Doesn't he have to do that?
MS. MYERS: He will at some point in written form.
Q: Has he presented a report that doesn't include a recommendation but includes a status report?
MS. MYERS: Nothing written at this point. As you know, he met yesterday with the President and discussed a number of --
Q? So these are verbal --
MS. MYERS: Well, it's a verbal dialogue but not a final report.
Q: Can I ask you on Randall Robinson -- he's also asking why isn't Guantanamo being used. We have been asking you that question for quite a few days.
MS. MYERS: And the answer is that we just have chosen to look, to work with other countries in the region to find a third country or use U.S. ships or U.S. leased ships for processing the immigrants. It's just a choice that we've made. At this point --
Q: So Guantanamo is definitely out?
MS. MYERS: We're not looking at Guantanamo.
Q: Dee Dee, when will the welfare reform bill be introduced or revealed here?
MS. MYERS: As we've said, the President, we're in the final phases of a welfare reform plan. No specific date on it. We expect that we'll forward that plan to Congress sometime soon, hopefully in the next month.
Q: Dee Dee, when the President goes to talk to the House Democratic Caucus tomorrow night, is that a reflection of a concern that once they go away for Memorial Day and then he's in Europe that there's just going to be a possible frittering away of support in there? Are you trying to shore up support?
MS. MYERS: No, it's an opportunity for the President to meet with relevant committee chairs and leadership from both Houses, both the House and the Senate. He's done this several times over the course of the health care reform process. He's doing it again tomorrow. Then he'll meet with the House Democratic Caucus. He met with the Senate, the Democratic Policy Committee in the Senate before the Easter recess. He's been invited to meet with the House Democratic Caucus now -- two separate things.
But on the health care meeting, it's an opportunity for them just to continue their dialogue, to coordinate, to work together. And the President is certainly going to, I think, encourage them to continue their work. And it's an opportunity for them to talk before Congress goes out on recess for a few days.
Q: When he talks to the Caucus, has he got any specific message that's new that he's going to be focusing on?
MS. MYERS: No, it's broader than health care. I think he'll talk about a number of things: health care, the economy, crime, sort of his agenda and encouraging Congress to continue to work to pass his agenda.
Q: Can I follow on that, Dee Dee?
MS. MYERS: Sure.
Q: Is he scheduled to meet at any near time with Republicans on health care?
MS. MYERS: I'm glad you asked that. There's a meeting scheduled on June 15th, which I forgot to mention. He's had a number of bipartisan meetings as well, something he couldn't schedule -- we weren't able to schedule before the recess, so after the President gets back, the week after he gets back, he'll meet with a bipartisan group on health care.
MS. MYERS: I believe it's here.
Q: House, Senate, both?
MS. MYERS: I think it's both.
Q: Where are the meetings tomorrow?
MS. MYERS: The meetings tomorrow are -- one's in EF 100 and the other one's in one of the office buildings. I don't have it. I had it somewhere.
MS. MYERS: Time? At 5:00 p.m. is the health care meeting; 6:00 p.m. is the Democratic Caucus.
Will he discuss MFN? I don't know. Generally he takes -- not at the health care meeting. Generally he takes questions from the caucus. He'll open with remarks and take questions. If it comes up, I'm sure he'll address it. He will certainly be consulting with members of Congress, as he has throughout this process, on MFN up to the point he announces his decision.
Q: It's clear that the congressional committees aren't going to be that informal Memorial Day deadline on health care. How much concern do you at the White House have about that?
MS. MYERS: Well, I think the deadlines, while I think help pace the various committees, they were not set in stone. I think the President's still very optimistic that comprehensive health care reform can be achieved this year. The committees are working very hard, making good progress. We've seen a lot of good signs over the course of the last several weeks. Certainly there's a long way to go, and this is a difficult and complicated process. But I think the President's encouraged by what he's seen.
Q: The Memorial Day deadline set up a process where you would have it through both Houses and to a conference before you broke for the midterm elections. Are you now looking at a timetable that pushes the conference maybe back after the elections?
MS. MYERS: That's, again, something that the Congress will have to decide. And it may come up at the meeting tomorrow. But it is something for Congress to work out. The President has made it clear that he'd like to see a comprehensive welfare reform pass this year, certainly one that includes guaranteed private insurance for everybody. Exactly how that's worked out and what the timetable is, is something that Congress will have to work out.
Q: Does the report that Rostenkowski may be having to resign as early as this week, or at least announcing plans to resign at least that early, does that affect in any way your planning on health care?
MS. MYERS: We'll have to wait and see what happens. I'm not going to speculate about that.
Q: You said that welfare reform may not come out for another month. What's the holdup? Originally it was supposed to be out -- administration officials said mid-May or late-May, and now we're in late May.
MS. MYERS: I think we're still working on it. It's close. I expect that it will be -- a plan will go up soon. But I don't expect it before the D-Day trip.
Q: What does the administration think of the idea by Senator Breaux to trigger employer mandates, only if the voluntary approach doesn't work?
MS. MYERS: I'm sorry --
Q: An idea that's being floated --
MS. MYERS: I just couldn't hear the last half of the question. Senator Breaux's idea to --
Q: trigger an employer mandate only if a voluntary approach doesn't work.
MS. MYERS: I think Senator Breaux has gone a little further than that recently in support of a mandate with a slightly different configuration for businesses with 10 or fewer employees.
Q: But that hasn't been that well received and this is something --
MS. MYERS: Well, I think what was important about that from the administration's perspective was that, I think Senator Breaux believes that we need to get to universal coverage and that some kind of a shared responsibility between employers and workers is the best way to get there. Now, we still have a long way to go in this process, but I think people were -- here were genuinely encouraged by Senator Breaux's remarks.
Again, there's a lot of details that have to be worked out. The process is far from over, but I think his commitment to universal coverage through shared responsibility was encouraging.
Q: Last week, I think it was Thursday, Panetta was announced there was going to be a briefing on funding in the crime bill, and that was abruptly cancelled -- some miscommunication. Is that rescheduled? When is that going to come out?
MS. MYERS: It hasn't been rescheduled, and I would suggest you check with Barry Toiv as to the status of that.
Q: Five o'clock meeting tonight -- this afternoon -- that will be with Christopher and Lake and who else will be there in the -- meeting?
MS. MYERS: It's a principals meeting. I don't have a complete list by it usually includes somebody from the Department of Defense. Secretary Perry is on his way to Brussels for a NATO meeting. And again, I don't have a complete list, but it usually includes people from all the different agencies.
Q: On the MFN again, once he receive the recommendation on MFN, he can decide anytime --
MS. MYERS: Sure.
Q: and no procedure to follow, like consult with Congress or something? So nothing.
MS. MYERS: Correct. I mean, he will certainly continue consulting with Congress as he has. The Executive Order calls on the Secretary of State to provide a recommendation, and the President then can make a decision either accepting the recommendation or parts of it, or not.
Q: But he has to wait for the recommendation. Has to wait for recommendation, I mean.
MS. MYERS: Well, the Secretary -- yes, the Secretary has to produce one on the timetable established in the executive order which, of course, he'll do. And the President will not make a decision until he's seen that recommendation.
Q: Travel this weekend? Memorial Day?
MS. MYERS: No. This weekend is the wedding of Tony Rodham, Mrs. Clinton's brother. Hold on. I'm losing all my details here today. Anyway, that'll be Saturday in the Rose Garden at 6:00 p.m. Other than that -- open press -- no, it is closed, surprisingly. (Laughter.) Here it is. Private, and no coverage. And additional details, contact the First Lady's office.
Q: still scheduled Thursday to do the abortion public access?
MS. MYERS: Tentatively on for Thursday. I think we're still trying to work it out with various participants -- there is a possibility that the President will sign the clinic access legislation on Thursday here at the White House.
Q: There would be a ceremony associated that with whenever he does it.
MS. MYERS: Some -- you know, our usual bill-signing, some bill signing. But that has not been confirmed, but we're still trying to work out details.
Q: And Monday?
MS. MYERS: Monday is Memorial Day. He will have a breakfast here with veterans, as he did last year; then meet with World War II veterans briefly in the Oval Office; then he'll give a speech at Arlington. And, again, that'll be, I think, something that will look forward a little bit to the D-Day trip as well.
Q: Then Arlington after --
MS. MYERS: Yes. So the two events: breakfast here, speech at Arlington.
Q: Tuesday and Wednesday?
Q: He won't go back to the Wall, Dee Dee?
MS. MYERS: No, no plans to go back to the wall this year.
Q: What time is his speech at Arlington?
MS. MYERS: I believe it's 11:00 a.m.
Q: It's always at 11:00 a.m.
Q: usual wreath-laying beforehand?
MS. MYERS: Yes. And then he'll give remarks.
Tuesday and Wednesday we're still looking at -- I think they will be fairly light days. The President will probably spend a fair amount of time in preparation. We actually leave early on Wednesday.
Q: How early?
MS. MYERS: It's like 10:00 a.m. I think he leaves here -- maybe 9:00 a.m.
Q: Wednesday next?
MS. MYERS: Yes, a week from --
Q: He leaves at --
MS. MYERS: Oh, I don't care about when you guys leave.
MS. MYERS: No he doesn't.
Q: lands Thursday morning --
Q: He leaves at night.
Q: He leaves at night. That's what I thought, right?
MS. MYERS: It's changed.
Q: When did it change? On our schedules --
MS. MYERS: Well, it changed a few days ago. I'm sorry that you guys haven't gotten that. I don't have the whole schedule in front of me. The idea now is that he would leave Wednesday morning and arrive in Italy, spend the night there.
Q: Thank you. This is so civilized.
MS. MYERS: I don't know.
Q: We're leaving Wednesday morning, too.
MS. MYERS: Yes, you'll probably leave Wednesday morning. If he leaves at 9:30 a.m., say -- I think that's around the time he's scheduled to leave -- you all would leave at say 7:30 a.m.
Q: When do you expect to give us the final --
Q: At 6:15 --
Q: On arrival in Rome.
MS. MYERS: We are eight days out. We can change, we can make a lot of adjustments between now and June 1st.
Q: There's been 50 years to plan.
MS. MYERS: No, I think what you have is mostly -- is 90 percent locked in.
Q: Except for the President's departure just changed and none of us knew it.
MS. MYERS: I'm sorry, I didn't realize that you all hadn't been brought up to date.
Q: Some people were planning on how to cover him here and then catch up. I mean, Jesus --
MS. MYERS: Well, that's why we're giving you this information eight days in advance so that you can make those plans.
Q: Is there a ceremony on departure?
MS. MYERS: I think he may have a statement on departure. We're still evaluating that but it would be something --
Q: But is he going to do China MFN on the plane on the way over?
MS. MYERS: He might do it -- to the Air Force One pool, but we won't let him make a call out. (Laughter.)
Q: Can you update us on what parts of the trip Mrs. Clinton and Chelsea might be along on?
MS. MYERS: I believe Mrs. Clinton is there for the entire trip. She will have --
Q: She will leave with him on Air Force One?
MS. MYERS: Yes, that's the current plan. She'll obviously have some events where she'll attend with the President, and there will be other events that she'll attend on her own. We can certainly -- that schedule, I think, is pretty close to final and we will be able to produce a copy of it pretty soon for you.
Q: And Chelsea?
MS. MYERS: I'm not sure what Chelsea's plans are. I don't think she's going. Is that right, she's not, is she? I don't think so.
Q: So what is he doing in Rome -- he'll get there in time to sleep overnight and so forth. Is he going to see the Pope that night and the famous Ambassador to the Vatican?
MS. MYERS: No, the schedule is still largely as it was. And I don't have it in front of me so I don't want to try to get into details from memory.
Q: that that airport arrival ceremony will be changed. (Laughter.)
MS. MYERS: We did tell the Italians. Just you guys -- Do you want a just quick overview of what the speeches are?
Q: In terms of the importance?
MS. MYERS: Yes.
Q: The big speeches?
MS. MYERS: Yes.
Q: Is Cambridge a big speech or is Oxford the big foreign policy --
MS. MYERS: Yes, it is a fairly big speech.
You know, I'm just not having any luck today with finding anything that I put in here.
Walking up, of course, to D-Day we have the Naval Academy; the radio address will be on D-Day themes; Arlington on Monday; and perhaps some remarks on departure. Then he'll give a speech at Nettuno Cemetery, which will be fairly significant. Then he'll give a speech at Capital Line Hill to a group of -- to the Italian people in Italy. Then he will give the next significant speech will be at Cambridge.
Q: Is Cambridge a foreign policy speech? What is --
MS. MYERS: Most of the speeches around D-Day will focus on the sacrifice of that generation and our responsibility of the subsequent generations to build on that sacrifice. They won the peace, we have to preserve it. But it will, particularly on the day before and on D-Day will focus more tightly on D-Day itself and the sacrifice of that generation.
Then he'll go to Portsmouth where he will give a speech to some of the troops on the USS George Washington -- that will be Sunday night -- commemorating in some ways that that speech will look at the night before they left for D-Day, sort of as they said prayers and sort of got ready to go launch this invasion. So I think honoring their service in that way.
And then there will be two speeches on D-Day itself. One at Pointe du Hoc and one at Colleville Cemetery. Both of those, I think, will be important speeches, interesting speeches.
Then on Tuesday, he'll speak to the --
Q: No remarks at Utah?
MS. MYERS: No. There will be events -- he'll be there meeting with veterans and sort of doing things, but the major speeches that day are at Pointe du Hoc and Colleville. The following day he'll give a speech to the French National Assembly, which will be a chance, I think, for him to look a little bit beyond D-Day and talk more about U.S. policy toward Europe, about the importance of integration and continue to build on democratic ties at a time when Europe is unified for the first time in centuries, and building on the economic and security relationships.
And then, finally Oxford.
Q: when you say integration, what do you mean? In terms of U.S. --
MS. MYERS: East, West, Central Europe, and then the economic integration of Europe through the E.U.
Q: But you're not talking about U.S.-European --
MS. MYERS: No, no, the integration of Europe, and our continuing commitment to -- economic and security relationships with Europe.
Q: I have a couple of questions on that. There have been a lot of stories written already about comparing to Reagan's speech. I wonder what you're doing to try to capture something of Clinton's own essence in this, given that he's not a veteran and has, in fact, had some negative associations --
MS. MYERS: I think what we're doing, what the President wants to do is focus on what he believes is important -- first of all, the sacrifice of that generation. They sacrificed to win the war and then to build the peace. And it is now up to the President's generation and to the generations that will follow to build on that. And I think that's a slightly different -- we're in a different period in history than we were. In 1984 at the 40th anniversary, the Cold War was still very much alive, and I think the world was still defined in terms of East and West and U.S. and Soviet's fears of influence.
Now, 50 years later, Europe, because, in many ways, beginning with the sacrifice of the World War II generation, you have a Europe that is integrated. You have -- the Soviet Union has broken up. You have the Partnership for Peace, trying to bring all the countries in Europe together. And I think the President is going to pivot off that to say we have an obligation now at this point in history given the circumstances to build on this and to move forward; but, at the same time, to honor that sacrifice and be willing to make the same kinds of sacrifices that are -- that allowed us to get here.
Q: Just to follow on that, it sounds sort of like a new world order type of analogy. And I wonder, given what's happened with Bosnia and the inability of the U.S. to do what they wanted with Europe -- the European countries in Bosnia -- how are you going to -- are you going to --
MS. MYERS: Au contraire. I mean, certainly Bosnia is -- (laughter) -- au contraire, mon frere. If you look at -- I can do this in French if you want -- (laughter).
Q: Save it for Paris.
MS. MYERS: I'll order for you in Paris. (Laughter.)
MS. MYERS: If you look at the Clinton administration's policy towards Europe, it is a policy of success. You've seen -- the President's objectives have been to move toward market democracies, to strengthen emerging democracies in Europe and around the world. Certainly from Russia to the Eastern European countries to the Central European countries, we've reached out to those countries, helped them in their transition to democracy and market economics. That has been one of the main objectives of the Clinton foreign policy. It's been very successful.
Yes, there are problems in places like Bosnia and the President will certainly acknowledge that in the course of the next days and weeks. But there is a lot of success. And I think the Partnership for Peace is a good example of the kind of security organization, the kind of security implement that this administration is going to build to preserve the peace and to strengthen those democracies across Europe.
Q: Is there any diplomacy, any real business going on, or is it mostly a celebration of the way things --
MS. MYERS: There will be some of both. I mean, certainly a lot of it is honoring World War II. But he'll have a number of bilateral meetings which the briefers will talk about on Friday morning. And I think certainly there will be some business -- a good deal of business conducted. He'll have meetings with a lot of heads of state. So there's a combination of, I think, diplomacy and --
Q: Is there any objective you have in mind there as far as diplomatic --
MS. MYERS: I think building on the January trip, strengthening the relationships, reassuring or strengthening our commitment to Europe, both in terms of economics and security. And, I think, leading up, in some ways, to the G-7. So I think this is, in sort of diplomatic terms, it's a continuation, it's a step between the January and July trips.
Q: Dee Dee, there's been some -- opposition -- and elsewhere have felt that Clinton's speeches, as they veer off of the war and the commemoration, will make some impact on Thursday's European elections, the June 9th election that's coming up. What impact does he expect to have on that, and what does he want?
MS. MYERS: I think he wants to make clear what U.S. policy is and to continue to build relationships. But I don't think he's setting out to influence the elections one way or another. That's something for the people of Europe to decide.
Q: Have you heard anything from Fiske about an interim report? Any indication from them that there might be something coming anytime soon?
MS. MYERS: Not to my knowledge. I can take that, but I have heard nothing new in the last couple of weeks.
Q: No communications from them at all?
MS. MYERS: Not that I know of. I certainly wouldn't rule out that there's been some contact with the Counsel's Office. You might want to check with Mr. Cutler.
Q: The fact that the first full state visit are you reserving for the Emperor of Japan in mid-June means that the United States wants to compensate the D-Day celebrations and underscore the new relationship with Japan?
MS. MYERS: No, certainly that relationship is important to us. We did have a sort of state dinner when the South Korean President was here -- President Kim -- in November. And I think we'll have a number of state dinners as time goes on. But certainly the Japan-U.S. relationship is a critical --
Q: first full state visit with all the paraphernalia, all the military?
MS. MYERS: But I think it -- certainly I think it is an indication of how important that relationship is.
Q: Speaking of that conversation today between President Clinton and Prime Minister Hata, does the President feel that this time something will come of all these conversations?
MS. MYERS: I think, as Ambassador Kantor made clear, that this was a good process; one that led to, I think, a workable basis for the framework to move forward. I think both parties are encouraged.
But again, we expect to see progress from the Japanese. We expect to see signs of actual market openings. That's the objective of the framework talks, and we'll judge that as it goes forward. But certainly it was encouraging, and we'll go from here.
Q: Can we have a photo release of that conversation?
MS. MYERS: Yes, we plan to release a photo of the President talking to Prime Minister Hata as soon as it's ready. It should be ready soon.
Q: That's the same photo over and over of him on the phone, isn't it?
MS. MYERS: Except Mickey's in it this time. It's a little different.
Q: Dee Dee, on the framework talks, before they collapsed in February, the expectation was that they would lead to some substantive agreements by the time of the G-7 Summit in Naples. Now with the three month laws, what's the new deadline or target date --
MS. MYERS: There are no deadlines. I think talks on the five, or four priority sectors will begin immediately. But they did not set any hard deadlines for making progress.
Q: There was no agreement on that --- but what is the expectation of the President?
MS. MYERS: There's no -- we didn't set any deadlines, and I'm certainly not going to do it from here.
Q: Dee Dee, you have now confirmed there's a state dinner with Japan on June 13th?
MS. MYERS: I think we announced that previously, haven't we?
Q: What's the date of that dinner?
MS. MYERS: I don't know. (Laughter.) They said June 13th. June 13th -- the Emperor is here -- the Emperor and his wife are here on June 13th. And there is a state dinner. And I thought we announced that at the time that we announced the visit, so --
Q: Could you elaborate a little bit on why -- I mean, this is the first full-fledged state dinner --
Q: It's not the first --
Q: Yes it is --
Q: on why Japan -- I mean, we have a lot of allies we have important relations with. And we have very few we have such difficult trade relations with. Why did we pick Japan rather than --
MS. MYERS: Well, we have a very good relationship with Japan generally. And it includes a number of issues, including global issues, security issues and economic issues. We've worked hard to -- we've worked very hard to have a, I think, a mature relationship with them on economic issues. And that has certainly happened, and we've made good progress.
Why this is the first state dinner? I think you can only have one state dinner per country per term. It's something that is worked out, dialogue between the countries. I think the Emperor probably and his wife probably will very likely not be back here. So it's an opportunity for us to have a state dinner. I think it's something the President and the First Lady are looking forward to.
Q: In his State of the Union, the President talked about not wanting to cut the level of defense spending any further than what he had proposed.
MS. MYERS: That is a commitment he will reiterate tomorrow.
Q: And apparently the discussion continues about whether to use some money from defense to help fund the space station due to the tightness of the allocations of the Appropriations Committee. Does the President support using defense money, raiding defense for a couple hundred million or whatever the amount may be out the defense accounts to fund the space station?
MS. MYERS: The President supports funding the space station -- the program that he outlined. He has said repeatedly that he does not believe the defense budget should be cut anymore than it is. We'll see. I don't know that anybody's really proposed that in any kind of a formal way. So we'll see what Congress does.
Again, the President outlined what he thought were the proper investments. He's talked to the appropriators and asked them to support his investment agenda. And it's now up to them.
Q: Well, they're looking for money and ways to do that -- all those things and --
MS. MYERS: We'll certainly see what they come up with, but I don't know that that's a formal proposal from anybody at this point.
THE PRESS: Thank you.
END 2:17 P.M. EDT
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/269584