Bill Clinton photo

Press Briefing by George Stephanopoulos

May 03, 1993

The Briefing Room

1:10 P.M. EDT

MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: Let's just go straight to questions.

Q: Why is it that you people always interrupt the President when he's trying to talk in the Oval Office? (Laughter.)

MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: We do our best not to, because he doesn't like it any more than you do. And we'll do our best to avoid that.

Q: I'm glad to hear that.

Q: Do you have any further guidance on reaction to fighting in Sarajevo today? Whether you feel the cease-fire is holding and how the allied -- how the diplomatic mission is going.

MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: We feel good about Secretary Christopher's mission at this point. As you know, he had a good meeting yesterday with Prime Minister Major where they agreed on a common approach -- on addressing a common approach to Bosnia. Those consultations continued today. He also met with representatives I believe of the Spanish and Greek governments, and he's on his way to Paris now. He's probably landed at this point. So we're hopeful about his mission. The President spoke to him yesterday, I believe, twice.

Q: Does that mean you're reaching a consensus with the allied leaders? The President seemed to indicate that, but can you say that flatly that they are on board?

MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: Well, it's clearly the goal of the mission.

Q: I know it's the goal.

MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: And the Secretary has just started the mission. He met with the Prime Minister of Britain. He will be going on, as I said, to Paris and the rest of the European countries this week. And that is clearly our intent.

Q: But I have to follow this up --

Q: but I don't understand what was good about the meeting with Major, since the Brits are saying -- or unless they changed something in the last couple of hours -- that they don't support lifting the arms embargo. So what part was good?

MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: Well, we'll just say that we agreed -- we congratulated Vance and Owen on the agreement signed, and we're developing a common position on stronger measures. We will continue to do that.

Q: What do you have in common with them?

MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: That is the substance of the mission.

Q: If there is no agreement from the French and the Brits on lifting the embargo, for instance, would the President still go ahead?

MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: Again, I can't get into hypotheticals on what may or may not happen. Secretary Christopher is in the process of those consultations now. Those consultations will continue for the rest of the week. And we believe that we are making progress on a common position.

Q: It's not a hypothetical. I mean, it can happen. The Brits are opposed to lifting the embargo; the French, too are opposed to it. So if the President wanted to be unilateral, will you still go ahead or will you give up and drop the idea?

MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: We continue to expect that we're going to come up with a multilateral position, and we will.

Q: Assuming that all the parties sign off on the Vance-Owen agreement, two questions: Is the United States now firmly committed to participating in a peacekeeping force that would include large numbers of U.S. ground forces?

MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: Let me reiterate first what the President earlier said. Signatures on the agreement are not enough. The Bosnian Serbs must back up any signature on a peace agreement with deeds. They must stop the shelling, they must abide by a ceasefire. They must allow the humanitarian aid to go through. Simply signing a peace agreement is not enough. At the same time, the President's position has been quite clear for some time, that we are willing to consider going forward as part of -- to enforce and implement a peace agreement if one occurs -- if one is in place.

Q: Let me just follow up on that. Before the VanceOwen agreement -- is the Vance-Owen agreement still subject to being reopened if the Serbs want to make some changes; or as far as the United States is concerned, are the borders that have been potentially outlined, are those set in concrete?

MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: Again, I can't get into that now. The agreement hasn't even been ratified. And it's not at this point being abided by. We are pleased with the signatures on the VanceOwen agreement this weekend in Athens. Obviously, we were pleased; we think this is a positive step. But until it has been ratified and until the Bosnian Serbs back up their signatures with real deeds, it's not going to make a difference.

Q: Does the agreement contain a schedule or a timetable, following ratification, for what has to happen?

MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: I don't know if there's a specific timetable, no.

Q: Do you have a timetable in mind, does the administration, for the deployment of the U.N. or NATO force?

MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: Again, I think that that's into the future at this point. We have to wait and see if the agreement is signed, if it's abided by. Until that happens, we have nothing more to do.

Q: You implied that it would be quite a while between ratification of the agreement on Wednesday if it happens and the decision by the President to send American ground troops in the framework of a U.N. multinational force.

MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: Well, it's certainly possible. Again, we've said that signatures are not enough.

Q: Would you give yourself, let's say, a month --

MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: I can't get into timetables of any kind.

Q: What's it going to take?

MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: Well, Secretary Christopher spelled that out quite clearly on Saturday. He said we need a real ceasefire. He said we need the humanitarian aid to go through. He said the shelling has to stop.

Q: When will you know?

Q: For how long?

MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: We'll know it when we see it.

Q: George, what do you say to those who say that Vance-Owen simply rewards the Serbs for their aggression?

MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: We think that, so far, the signatures are a positive step. We believe there has to be an end to the aggression. We believe that, for humanitarian purposes the U.S. has an interest in this area, and we believe that we must do everything we can do stop a wider war in the Balkans.

Q: That's not my question. My question is that the map, as defined by Vance-Owen, rewards them for their aggression by giving them so much more of the territory.

MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: So far, all three sides have at least signed, and we agree that's a positive step. Whether or not, it rewards the aggression I can't say. I can just say that we are going to do what we can to stop further aggression; we're going to do what we can to stop the killing; we're going to do what we can to prevent a wider war.

Q: George, when does the President intend to go before the American people and explain what he intends to do and the rationale behind it?

MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: I think what the President said, quite clearly this morning was that before he committed any American forces of any kind he would certainly go to the American people and make that case. At the same time, he again answered your questions on this subject this morning. He has gone to the American people, expressed our interest in this area, he's talked about why we need not only signatures on the Vance-Owen agreement, but real actions to back them up.

Q: But he has explained in detail why his economic program makes sense to the American people, why Russian aid makes sense to the American people -- not just a two-minute photo op, but a major half-an-hour address in some forum or another. When will we see or hear something like that from him on Bosnia?

MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: When there's a final decision on the approach and the use -- the approach that the Americans will take. Right now we're consulting with our allies. Right now it is unclear exactly what is going to happen. We are pleased, again, that the Vance-Owen agreement has been signed, but we don't know the further course.

Q: Let me follow up on that if I may. The President today used the word "discuss." He'll discuss it with the American people. That sort of implies two-way. Is there any chance he could be looking for a town meeting or some other way to get a formal -- some formal input --

MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: I don't know that that's what he was implying when he used the word discuss.

Q: Is there any thought about some sort of formal input from people besides cards, letters, phone calls? Any one-onone ? Any other way to take this to the people?

MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: Nothing like that has been contemplated, but the President will make his position clear.

Q: George, I know this is a quaint idea, but some people think going to the American people means going to Congress and getting an okay. Do you have anything more for us on what the plans in the administration are as this unfolds?

MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: The President has been consulting with Congress throughout this process. He will continue to do that over the coming days and weeks. At the same time, if any authority is needed from the Congress, he will certainly get it.

Q: Are you thinking of a resolution like with the Gulf war where you have a --

MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: It depends on what's needed -- on what course the President takes. But if one is called for, he will certainly get it.

Q: What was the purpose of Governor Patten's visit here today? And do you think the Chinese government was offended?

MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: I can't speak for the Chinese government. But the President was looking forward to discussing the situation in Hong Kong and the progress toward democratization. And I think they discussed other trade issues.

Q: What did he say -- he was here mainly, as I understand it, to talk about MFN, according to him. What did the President say to him on that issue?

MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: I think the President said essentially what he said when he was asked about it in his office. He believes that clearly we don't want to isolate China. At the same time, China must make real progress on human rights and democratization if they're to get MFN.

Q: So far there's no transcript on that second photo op, George. Could you put one out on that?

MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: Oh, sure. I thought it had gone out.

Q: George, The New York Times is reporting today on some documents in the Health Care Task Force, suggesting that the cost of some of these proposals could be as high as $150 billion a year. Any comment on --

MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: Again, there have been -- no decisions have been made about the benefit package or about the final cost estimates of any kind.

Q: George, what was the President's reaction to the Senate race results in Texas? And will he go to Texas during the runoff?

MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: I don't know. I don't know if he has any plans to go Texas at this time, but he supports Senator Krueger, he'll continue to support Senator Krueger in his effort to win the race in Texas. And we'll do what we can.

Q: George, you guys thought that race was going to be much better than it did, or at least a little bit better. The talk around here was that he was going to break 30 percent. He didn't even do that. He lost his own county.

Q: That's what he gets for running away from the President.

MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: Good answer. (Laughter.) We think -- the final race is coming up in the next month, and we think that Senator Krueger's going to be able to move forward and win that race.

Q: Is there any talk about the President going there and helping out?

MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: Again, I don't think that there's been any invitation or any plans yet, but I wouldn't rule it out.

Q: Will the White House mount an all-out effort to keep that seat a Democratic seat?

MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: The White House is going to do what it can to help Senator Krueger win that seat and be another vote for change for the American people.

Q: Do you consider the results a referendum on Clinton's success so far?


Q: The Republicans out-polled him.

Q: He came in second.

Q: He came in second and the Republicans --

MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: The last one I saw Saturday night had him ahead but, again -- I can't take it back.

Q: How could it have been a referendum in his favor when Krueger ran away from him and voted against the program and all that? I mean, isn't it fair to argue that the President -- (laughter.) Does the President really have anybody in that race that has supported his plan and running on it?

MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: We think that Senator Krueger can do a good job for Texas and a good job for the American people, and we're going to support him.

Q: Has he, in fact, been a vote for change to this point?


Q: Has he, in fact, been a vote for change to this point?

MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: We think he can be, yes. (Laughter.) I haven't checked it but I believe he voted for the family and medical leave act. (Laughter.)

Q: When you say that Secretary Christopher is going to consult with our allies, does that mean that the direction that was arrived at on Saturday could change substantially depending upon how the allies respond?

MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: Well, we believe these will be true consultations. And I think that we are going to come to agreement on a common approach, and it will certainly be in line with the direction the President has set.

Q: Could you answer the question, though -- since we have a lukewarm response out of London, isn't it a given that to be able to reach this common approach he's going to have to move off his decision on Saturday?

MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: Well, again, we think that we're going to come away with a position consistent with the direction and a common approach. And let's wait until the consultations are done.

Q: But to do that isn't he going to have to change his mind from what he had Saturday?

MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: Not necessarily.

Q: The AP reports a postcard campaign aimed at Clinton keeping him away from the Vietnam Vets Memorial. Are you getting a lot of postcards, and does the President plan to attend the Vietnam Vets Memorial on Memorial Day?

MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: It's the first I've heard of it. I don't know if we have the President's schedule for Memorial Day yet, but I haven't heard anything about a postcard.

Q: Was there any plan to react to? What plan are they reacting to? Are you getting these postcards?

MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: It's the first I've heard of it. I can check. I just don't --

Q: They say about 16,000 postcards have arrived here. Does anybody know if that's anywhere in the ballpark?

MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: I can take the question. I just don't know. No.

MS. MYERS: It's not true.

MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: It's not true.

MR. JONES: Six hundred.

MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: We've gotten 600, according to Arthur.

Q: Can you give us any more on when we're going to see campaign finance reform? Is it definitely going to be --

MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: I think you're likely to see it this week. I don't have an exact day yet.

Q: Can I follow up, please? You've gotten 600. Do those cards indicate what it is they're responding to, if you have no such schedule?

MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: Again, I'll just have to take the question. We have not released a schedule yet for the President's Memorial Day Weekend.

Q: George, Vance and Owen made the point sometime ago that peacekeeping forces would be needed almost right away after the peace plan is adopted, and if you have too long a period a time between the signing of the agreement and the introduction of massive peacekeeping forces, you're just leaving the way open for going back to warfare. The President seems to be hesitant and cautious on this point, and he wants all hostilities to cease; he wants a perfectly safe environment for any ground troops he might introduce over there. Is he setting up criteria where either American forces are not going to be needed, or where the situation on the ground is never going to justify introduction?

MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: What he's saying is that we have to have a real peace; we can't just have a peace treaty that's not backed up by actions.

Q: But Vance and Owen are saying the opposite. They are saying first you've got to have the peacekeeping in order to get the peace. The President seems to be saying first give me peace and then I'll introduce the --

MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: The President has -- and that's always been the President's position.

Q: Karadzic said this morning that they feel they need more territory, but that they're willing to negotiate it during peace talks after ratification of Vance-Owen, but that they're not satisfied with these boundaries.

Q: Who said that?

MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: Who said that?

Q: Karadzic this morning on the Today --

MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: I thought you said Carter.

Q: A Serbian leader whose name we can't pronounce said today that they want more territory and that they're --

MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: I know that Karadzic is going back to the Serb parliament trying to get ratification this week. Let's wait and see what happens with the ratification. Let's wait and see if the situation on the ground matches the signatures on the piece of paper.

Q: But what is your position regarding whether they deserve more territory, which he said today they will be demanding in negotiations?

MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: That's for the negotiations. Let's just see what happens with the signatures on the treaty; let's see what happens on the ground.

Q: George, what is the President hoping to get on Bosnia out of this meeting with the bipartisan leaders tomorrow morning?

MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: I have to double-check. There might be a problem with Senator Dole being able to come tomorrow morning, so there might be a rescheduling on that meeting. I'm sure they'll discuss more than Bosnia. I'm certain they are also going to discuss the reconciliation plan and possibly other parts of the President's economic agenda. But I'm not sure exactly when the meeting is going to be at this point. We've had a little bit of a scheduling problem.

Q: Senator Dole is back at the boathouse, he won't be here.

Q: It might not come off tomorrow?

Q: He said the boathouse charge is not true.

Q: Yes, what do you say?

MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: Read the letter.

Q: Whenever the meetings happens --

Q: Can you put the letter out?

MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: I think we have copies of it, sure. It's been running on CNN all morning.

Q: We can release the letter. (Laughter.)

MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: Yes, we have copies of the letter.

Q: Can I go back to Bosnia for a minute. The NSC meeting today -- is that to deal with how the U.S. would participate in a peacekeeping force, or is it --

MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: I think it's just general monitoring of all the issues surrounding Bosnia -- good follow-up to Saturday's meeting. Probably get some input from Secretary Christopher's trip and figure out the rest of the week. It's just an update meeting.

Q: Will he attend?

MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: I don't think so.

Q: Christopher suggested yesterday that the threat of U.S. military force extends beyond the -- change your action on the ground included complying with Vance-Owen. In other words, not only do they have to stop shelling the cities and engage in a cease-fire and let the U.N. people through, but they have to begin withdrawing from their territory and other steps that are part of this agreement. Does our statement about further actions go beyond --

MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: I'm not sure --

Q: You look like I'm not being clear.


Q: My understanding of where we would use this force is to end the hostilities, as an incentive to end the bombing and all those other things. They have to change their actions on the ground. But Christopher in London suggested that this threat holds for them starting to implement parts of this peace plan in terms of withdrawing from the territories that they would not have under the peace plan. Is that --

MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: I think it's clear it has to be a real agreement. I mean, I don't have any of the specific conditions laid out right now. But it has -- there has to be good-faith implementation of the agreement and good faith abiding by the conditions of the cease-fire. That's what we're going to look for.

Q: So they have to start withdrawing from --

MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: Well, I don't want to get into those kinds of specifics except to say we expect the agreement --

Q: What do you mean by good-faith compliance?

MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: I mean that it has to -- the agreement has got to be matched in deeds as well as words. You can't just sign the agreement and continue what you've been doing.

Q: Is the deed the stopping of the shelling, or is the deed actually, as Ann is suggesting, moving to new borders?

MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: Well, Christopher in his statement on Saturday --

Q: Are you saying that you're going to reserve the right to decide what exactly good-faith compliance is until you've seen what the representatives want?

MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: I think we have to wait and see what happens with the consultations, we have to wait and see what happens Wednesday with the Bosnian Serb parliament. They have not even ratified it yet.

Q: You have already said you will know it when you see it so --

MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: But they have not ratified it.

Q: there are no hard and fast and criteria, are there?

Q: You may, for diplomatic reasons, not have such criteria, but you may have them and not be wanting to disclose them personally. Can you tell us which it is?

MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: I just can't discuss it at this time. Christopher has set out three specific criteria in his statement on Saturday. He said we have to abide by the cease-fire, he said we have to have a stop to the shelling, he said we had to allow the humanitarian assistance to go through. Clearly, you also need to make sure that the agreement that is signed is abided by. I am not setting that out as a specific condition at this time, but obviously this is something that's going to be discussed in the coming days.

Q: Doesn't that put us in the category of making the peace instead of enforcing the peace, which is the category Clinton set up? We will use our forces once peace is agreed upon and the situation of peace on the ground is reached. Now you're sort of saying, or he seems to be saying by our reporters there, that it's not we are threatening use of force to establish that agreement, to put in effect that agreement, to force that --

MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: I don't know which specific comments you're speaking about. I have not seen the specific comments you talk about, so I'll have to respond to it later. I can speak to the specific condition that Christopher set out on Saturday, and also the specific notion the President has always said that these would be peacekeeping forces.

Q: George, the agreement envisions that the Serbs would withdraw from roughly one-third of the territory they've seized. I think what we're trying to get at is, are we considering the possibility that U.S. troops on the ground might help disarm and force those troops back, or are we considering the possibility of air strikes or some other military action to force them to give up that territory?

MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: I just can't get into a discussion of that at this time. Clearly, Christopher set out the conditions on Saturday. The President has always said that this would be a peacekeeping, not a peacemaking force. He has said that time and time again. We've said it from this podium time and time again, and there's been no change in the U.S. position of any kind.

Q: But, George, do you consider it peacekeeping or peacemaking when you force the withdrawal?

MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: I'm not saying now that that is what we're going to do, that we're going to have to force the withdrawal. I just cannot comment on it.

Q: You're not ruling it out, though?

MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: I'm not ruling it in or out.

Q: Isn't it important for you to have a clear signal to the Serbs?

MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: The Serbs know that they have to do more than sign. The Serbs know that they have to abide by the terms of the agreement. And we are being clear on that point. We're being very clear on that point. But we are nowhere near the situation where you want to take us right now. They have not even ratified the agreement.

Q: George, can I get the daily update on the remnants of the stimulus package? Considering that it's May 3 and youth jobs for summer -- you know, we're getting close to summer and I guess there are some problems with tying it to Russian aid, what's the strategy?

MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: I think we're working on that right now. And, as you know, the Ways and Means Committee and the Appropriations committees are starting to meet this week. And we expect to be discussing options with them. We just have nothing to announce.

Q: George, would the President take any steps -- any of the -- quote -- "military steps" that the Secretary discussed on Saturday, or would he commit American troops to keeping Vance-Owen without a direct vote of Congress on either one of those?

MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: Again, that's a hypothetical that I just can't get into at this point, except to say that if congressional authorization is called for by law, it is certainly something he would do. He is working with Congress and expects to work with the authority of Congress.

Q: But do you intend to leave open the prospect that he would use American troops in some way in the Balkans without a direct vote of Congress?

MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: Again, he will get the authority he needs before he does anything like that.

Q: He might be able to use American troops in the Balkans without direct authority of Congress?

MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: I don't want to go down that road, except to say that he will use the authority he needs to -- before he does anything along those lines, he will go to the American people before he does anything along those lines.

Q: In what form will he do that?

MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: I can't speak to it until we have the decision and the approach.

Q: You said here last week in regard to a question asked to you about the fact that Congress -- in the Constitution only Congress can declare war. You said the President would certainly go to Congress --

MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: He's been consulting with Congress consistently. He will continue to consult with Congress.

Q: not the leaders, not two or three men who may be pro-war altogether.

MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: He's met with many members of Congress. There have been discussions with --

Q: not many members, but Congress.

MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: And he will continue to consult with the members of Congress. They will be adequately and fully consulted.

Q: That's still not answering.

Q: What makes the President so sure that there will be a unified front? As he said today, and as you've backed up, the meetings are very good. I mean, does he have some real indications that the allies will go along?

MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: We think that Secretary Christopher's trip is going well. He's reported back from the trip. He's confident that we're going to have a unified front and a common approach.

Q: If the President is convinced, as it appears to be the case, that a threat to use military force was decisive in the signing of the agreement by Karadzic, does he have any regret that maybe he didn't do it three months ago?

MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: I think the President is doing exactly what he set out to do. Remember as well that we've had some help from the Russians and President Yeltsin since the election. And, clearly, the President's work with the Russian people and the partnership of the Russian people has made a difference there as well.

Q: You don't think that maybe it could have been instrumental a few months ago that maybe wasted time?


Q: Does the President have any direct response to these 91 congressmen and women last week led by Durbin who came up with that letter asking him to come to Congress first before he takes, as they put it, any offensive military action?

MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: Again, we have not formulated the response yet, but, clearly, the President will get the authority he needs.

Q: Do you think they're misinterpreting the ar Declarations Act by coming forth with that letter?

MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: The President will act consistent with the War Powers Act.

Q: Will he abide by the War Powers Act, George?

MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: He will certainly act consistently with it.

Q: Has the legal department determined he will ignore the previous actions of previous presidents and not follow that act?

MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: No. It's under review, right.

Q: Are you talking to the Russians about this total position on Serbia and what is their reaction to it?

MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: The President spoke with President Yeltsin. It was a good conversation.

Q: Does he have any bad conversations? (Laughter.)

MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: Frank and good. (Laughter.)

Q: the schedule on this now -- are you doing it on the 17th, the 23rd, June?

MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: I don't have a specific date, but we're on track for the end of May, June.

Q: What is the tracK?

Q: Yes -- May or June --

MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: What we said is that we want to have some introduction -- that's exactly what I said -- some introduction of an announcement around late May, but that the legislation couldn't be introduced until into the committees until reconciliation were considered by the House committees. You simply couldn't have both pieces of legislation in the same track, in the same committees at the same time.

Q: Would the announcement spell out what's going to be in the legislation?

Q: Toward the end of May?

MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: I think that's very likely towards the end.

Q: Would the announcement spell out what's going to be in the legislation?

MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: I think it would certainly be an approach, an outline. It wouldn't be the legislation, line by line.

Q: how you pay for it and who to cover, that sort of thing?

MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: I think it will be a complete outline.

Q: Is the President thinking of an address before the joint session of Congress to introduce --

Q: On May 25th?

MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: I don't know the scheduling of anything like that, but I wouldn't rule it out.

Q: Is that something that you think is likely, just like the economic plan that was released February 17th or whenever it was?

MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: I wouldn't rule it out, but nothing's scheduled.

Q: On Bosnia, most of the polls show that only about a third of the American people support taking action. In fact, there's a Hill poll that shows more than 36 percent favoring it. How does the President hope to build public support, which is one of the four principles that Christopher outlined, that no action would be taken without American public support?

MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: If action is required and when it's required, the President will go to the American people and spell out the goals and objectives very clearly, and he'll also spell out the means that he will use to achieve those goals.

Q: Is he concerned that he's considering action which is only supported by a third of Americans at this point?

MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: Again, the President has nothing to announce to the American people at this time. No final decisions along those lines have been made. The consultations are continuing, but he will not take any action before he goes to the American people and explains fully what he intends to do.

Q: He then hopes that that explanation will somehow change the American public response --

MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: He certainly hopes that if they understand clearly what he announces that he will get support, sure.

Q: This is a fine point, but if he is waiting for his final plan before he goes to the American people, he's not really consulting with him, then, is he? He's just presenting it?

MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: That's not at all true. I mean --

Q: talk to the American people but he's not going to go to them until he has a final plan.

MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: Until he has a plan -- he will go to the American people before he commits any further action.

Q: Just trying to get a sense of how subject to amendment this plan is, depending on what happens with the American response here and what happens with the response of the allies.

MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: The President believes he will be able to explain whatever decision is made and get support.

Q: George, is the President willing to move off the decision he made last Saturday?

MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: The President is moving forward with the consultations. He believes we are making progress. Clearly, the progress is evident in the signing of the Vance-Owen agreement in Athens. And we certainly need more --

Q: If in the process of consultations he discovers that there are certain objections which would be made on the part of the allies -- (laughter) -- will he consider refashioning his plan in any way shape or form, George?

MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: The President will come up with a common approach.

THE PRESS: Thank you.

END 1:38 P.M. EDT

William J. Clinton, Press Briefing by George Stephanopoulos Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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