Press Briefing by Joe Lockhart
8:50 P.M. EDT
MR. LOCKHART: There was a pool inside of -- both an American and Russian pool, that saw them walk in. They walked in, they smiled, they shook hands, and turned. Nobody asked a question. They didn't offer anything up. They're having dinner now in a room that I guess is part of the personal quarters that's built in to the Kremlin, where President Putin lives.
Q: -- name of the building?
Q: One of the Russians just said he doesn't actually live here, I mean, doesn't sleep here, like at the White House.
MR. LOCKHART: Right, but he's got sort of a personal quarters there and that's where -- yes.
Q: It's called the President's residence.
MR. LOCKHART: President's residence. The dinner the President, Deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbott, President Putin, and then Sergey Prihodkho, who is the Foreign Affairs Advisor to the President. He's got another gentleman who is the National Security Advisor, and then a Foreign Minister.
Q: But it's just those four --
MR. LOCKHART: Plus two interpreters. They're dining on -- this is not the whole list, but this is what I got out of our guys -- chicken consomme, trout, and goose with berry sauce.
Now, the plan for the rest of the evening is I'll either get something midstream from Strobe, or I'll get Strobe to come over here, or worse case scenario, I won't get him at all and I'll get him when we get back to the hotel, he'll come to the pool hold. So if you haven't seen me or him, for whatever reason, when we get back to the hotel, go to the hold and a senior administration official will give you a readout on the dinner.
Q: Is the President going out further tonight after this?
MR. LOCKHART: No. They may do some -- there may be some entertainment at the end of the night, which will extend the evening a bit --
Q: Which we'll be brought in for?
MR. LOCKHART: No, but the good news is, if they do that, I'll grab Strobe and --
Q: Is there a point at which the other people who are having the second dinner, like Albright, will join?
MR. LOCKHART: Yes, if they do do this entertainment, which is sort of optional, they'll all come together and watch it together.
Q: Are they going to actually discuss the issues, or this going to be mostly social?
MR. LOCKHART: We'll see what Strobe comes out with. I don't know. I can't imagine that there won't be some substantive discussion, but I can't predict what.
Q: What kind of entertainment?
MR. LOCKHART: It's jazz. If we do this entertainment, by the way, this is the program.
Q: When do they start, do you know exactly or roughly?
MR. LOCKHART: They started literally -- they went straight up, so five minutes after they got here they went in.
Q: So we arrived at around 8:15 p.m. --
MR. LOCKHART: Ralph, do you know, when you went in to take the picture, they went straight into dinner, right? Literally, they walked to the elevator, and I lost them because just the two of them got in the elevator and Strobe went up.
Q: So this would be a second floor room or --
MR. LOCKHART: Dining room, third floor -- and the other dinner that's going on is going on on the same floor, but it's a huge building. It's down sort of at the other end.
Q: And the other dinner is Madeleine Albright --
MR. LOCKHART: It's Madeleine, Sandy, Podesta, Sperling, maybe one other.
Q: I thought it was four and four.
Q: So, and their counterparts.
MR. LOCKHART: Yes. If you're really interested, Christine can -- you can call the NSC and get who is on the other side. If you really care, just let her know.
Q: They're just eating, they're not talking any substantive --
MR. LOCKHART: They're eating, and again, I can't imagine -- I don't know that the -- "Pacers' luck, you won over the Knicks" will come up, so substance may.
Q: In this case, how would you describe the dinner? It's sort of like -- there's substance, but it's also getting to know each other?
MR. LOCKHART: I think it's a chance to, before they have -- tomorrow they've got working sessions throughout the day. Tonight is a chance, I think, to get comfortable and discuss a wide range of issues, including the substantive issues could come up. But I think it's more of a social --
Q: Did Putin show them around the room, or they just sit right down --
MR. LOCKHART: I wasn't in the room. I literally couldn't get near it. So you can get all that from Strobe.
Q: There's some confusion over what Putin was exactly talking about in his NBC interview when he talked about joint construction of some kind of a defense, whether it would shoot down missiles on the way up. Is the administration familiar with what it is that he's proposing exactly?
MR. LOCKHART: We're looking forward to hearing in the conversations tomorrow about security what he has in mind, and I'm not going to try to prejudge it tonight based on an interview.
Okay? So I'll get him over here as soon as I can. Again, he may slip me a note, and if he does I'll try to deceiver it and I'll just read it to you.
Q: Just for newspapers, Sunday deadlines mean people are anxious to get as much as they can.
MR. LOCKHART: Yes. Okay.
END 8:57 P.M. (L)
William J. Clinton, Press Briefing by Joe Lockhart Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/271625