Bill Clinton photo

Press Briefing by Secretary of State Warren Christopher and Secretary of Treasury Lloyd Bentsen

July 07, 1993

The Okura Hotel

Tokyo, Japan

7:03 P.M. (L)

SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER: You can hold me responsible for some of that. Under the rules of the conference, the heads are not supposed to talk about the conference until it's over. An exemption was given because this particular agreement has been reached, but it was a limited exemption, and the President was trying to hew to that line.

I've just come from a meeting of the foreign ministers where we worked on the so-called political declaration. This began as an economic summit, but as you know, it's developed a very significant political dimension over the years. What I'm going to do today is to give you some of the high points of the consensus that the foreign ministers reached on various themes. This will be reflected in specific language after it's approved by the heads of government, but I think at this point it might be useful for you if I emphasize the points that the United States stressed in the meeting today and which will be reflected in the final communique.

First, we stressed nonproliferation, because, in our view, nonproliferation is really the arms control issue of the '90s. We talked about the importance of emphasis on North Korea retracting its decision to withdraw from IAEA. We talked about and stressed the importance of the countries of the former Soviet Union securing their nuclear weapons. We urged that the Ukraine ratify the START agreement, and we also talked about -- and you will find reflected in the consensus of the foreign ministers -- the need to extend the nonproliferation treaty when it comes up for renewal in 1995. That was one major subject of discussion by the foreign ministers today.

A second one was support for the democratic and free market forces in Russia, support for President Yeltsin. And you'll find once again that reflected very significantly in the communique. We also emphasized in that same part of the communique, part of the consensus that was reached, the reform process in the Ukraine, placing stress on the very recent meeting between Presidents Yeltsin and Kravchuk as being a good sign.

With the respect to Bosnia, the discussion focused on the need for additional humanitarian relief in that country. Talked about the importance of containment of the conflict. We urged that with respect to Kosovo that Milosevic withdraw his efforts to try to force the monitors to leave Kosovo. We emphasized with respect to the discussions in Geneva that the Serbs and the Croats should not be able to dictate the terms on which the agreements were reached.

Under another part of the discussions the United States stressed the importance of the Middle East peace process. It was very strong support from all the foreign ministers for the United States and Russia's efforts in the Middle East peace process. For the first time there is a flat statement that the Arab boycott should end, and that reflects the consensus of the parties.

In the regional area, there were very strong statements made with respect to Iran and Iraq and Libya. We called attention to the behavior of Iran, and in that connection, the United States stressed the fact that Iran was accumulating weapons of mass destruction, that they were exporting terror, that they were involved in human rights abuses within the country.

There was also a very adverse reference to Libya's conduct, and I'm told that once again this is the first time those three countries have come in for adverse mention in the consensus of the foreign ministers. I'm glad to say the discussion was not entirely negative.

We talked about the decisions made last weekend with respect to Haiti. The foreign ministers wanted to recognize the importance of the restoration of the legitimate authorities in Haiti and they commended in their discussions the actions of the OAS and the United Nations.

We also recognized the important steps taken in South Africa and we urged the support for the reconstruction of Lebanon.

So you'll find, I think, when you see the political communique a number of important topics discussed and the significance of the consensus reached will become more apparent after the heads of state have acted on these matters. But I think you'll find the political communique to be one of substance and significance for this G-7 session.

Secretary Bentsen.

SECRETARY BENTSEN: Thank you very much, Secretary Christopher.

Good evening. You got your clocks right?

Well, last Thursday at the press conference in the White House, I said agreement to complete the Uruguay Round by December had to be one of our key objectives at this summit. And today I think that's been met and surpassed, that objective.

Interesting thing about this one: as Chairman of the Finance Committee, we had jurisdiction for trade. And time after time, I would push Presidents to take the Trade Ambassador along, and often that was resisted. But in this instance, the President choose to take the Trade Ambassador along -- when you have major issues of trade involved. And I think Mickey Kantor did a great job and deserves a lot of credit for what was accomplished in that one.

You know, promises to complete the Uruguay Round are standard fair at these summit meetings. And for three years, that's what we've seen. What distinguishes this summit is that we've moved beyond the promise to the payoff. A breakthrough in these negotiations is that much more -- is that much more than an agreement to agree.

The prospects of meeting the December deadline are brighter than ever before. So I think that President Clinton and Ambassador Kantor deserve a lot of credit on this one. They've recognized the urgent need to complete the Uruguay Round.

Over the next decade that could create 1.4 million jobs in America, and that's something we can all applaud. President Clinton has succeeded in making this economic summit a job summit. And that's what this summit is about -- creating jobs.

The market access agreement is a good one. Not only is it the largest single tariff reduction ever negotiated, it will result in increased market access for industrial goods, goods that now represent over $75 billion in U.S. exports.

I tell you, it certainly made my meeting with the G-7 colleagues a collegial one this afternoon. The mood was very pleasant. And if I can sum up a couple of hours of conversation in one word, the word was jobs. America's created 770,000 jobs since January and that's a pretty robust growth to what we're seeing in other countries. Their employment is going down, not up. And much of that unemployment, especially in Europe, is long-term, not short-term like we have in the United States where practically everyone finds a job eventually.

We talked about what we can do to increase worldwide employment. And that means worldwide growth. We don't want competition between countries, we want cooperation so everybody comes out ahead; and that what we're selling.

Their message to us was something we've heard before: cut your deficit. I said that's the President's top priority when he returns to Washington. Budget cutting has lowered long-term interest rates to the lowest rate in 20 years, and that's been helping to stimulate our economy.

And my message to them is something they've heard before and they have acted on before, and they started at our meeting -- the G-7 Finance Ministers in February in London. And that was for Europe to cut interest rates. But the rates are still high in real terms given the depth of the recession that's there. And we told the Japanese that they need to keep stimulating domestic demands. Japan has made a start, but they need to do much more.

Now let me end with this: if we can increase demand for products by two percent among our trading partners, it means 700,000 new jobs in the United States, 750,000 new jobs in Europe, and 500,000 new jobs in Japan, 120,000 new jobs in Canada. We'd all be winners. And that's what we're here to discuss and, in the case of the market access agreement, not only talk about, but act on.

Now, who wants the first question?

Q: On the market access agreement, what position does that put you in for the agricultural segment of the negotiations beginning Monday in Geneva?

SECRETARY BENTSEN: Well, I think it's a good example. It adds impetus to it. I think it will help.

Q: How does it strengthen the U.S. position in those negotiations?

SECRETARY BENTSEN: I think the fact that we've seen on these very difficult access agreements for manufactured goods, to see these nations come together and realize how important it is to open up that market, I think that adds impetus to what we're trying to do on agriculture.

Q: Where do the framework talks stand right now? Do you expect the same measure of success in those that you had in this market access?

SECRETARY BENTSEN: We still have work to do on that one.

Q: You don't think you'll get it then?

SECRETARY BENTSEN: And the negotiations are still going on.

Q: How would you rate the chances of getting some kind of an agreement on these bilateral talks?

Q: You were pretty gloomy in Washington about it.

SECRETARY BENTSEN: I sure was, wasn't I?

Q: Are you still gloomy?

SECRETARY BENTSEN: Well, as far as I'm concerned, the glass is half full.

Q: So you think you can bring --

Q: Can you fill it up?

Q: Secretary Christopher, a question on Bosnia. Last year the G-7 adopted very far-ranging statement on Bosnia, including a warning that, if necessary, military action should be needed to deal with the situation there. Are you renewing the call for military action? And how will your statement be seen as either an advance or perhaps will be seen as, in fact, weaker than the one a year ago in view of the fact that so much was called for a year ago and then not done?

SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER: Well, you have to compare the statements when they actually come out. The statement this year focuses on the process in Geneva, indicating the outcome that the G-7 are pressing for there. It emphasizes the importance of containment, it stresses the importance of humanitarian aid, and it indicates the desirability of finding an early solution to the problem. I think it would be fair to say that you'll not find the discussion as expansive as it was last year.

Q: What about military action? Was there any discussion of possible military action by the Security Council?

SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER: I believe there's no discussion of that today among the foreign ministers.

Q: You want the Arab boycott lifted. Do you have a complementary statement that the military occupation of the Palestinians should be ended?

SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER: Let me tell you where that stands now. We talked about the importance of Israel respecting its obligation with regard to the Occupied Territories.

Q: Mr. Secretary, are there any outstanding issues in the political area that have been referred to the heads of state?

SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER: No, we reached a consensus among the foreign ministers today.

Q: Mr. Secretary, is there any direct reference in the political communique to the World Trade Center bombing and subsequent terrorism arrests in New York?

SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER: No, there is no specific reference to that issue.

Q: Secretary Christopher, now that both sides didn't accept the last American document, what will be the continuation of the process?

SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER: Both sides accepted what?

Q: The last American document was also accepted

SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER: I'm sorry. Well, it was an American set of ideas that was put forward. It was no surprise at all, at least on my behalf, that was not accepted immediately by both of them. I think there will be negotiating over that document. An American team is I think probably in the air now, going to the Middle East for discussion of that. We'll keep on working to fulfill our full partner role to try to see if we can help the parties reach agreement in the Middle East. So I do not regard that as by any means the end of the story. It's just a step in a rather long book.

Q: What do you think the President's focus will be at the dinner this evening? What is your expectation of the areas that he wants to address with the other heads?

SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER: You know, I spent all afternoon with the foreign ministers and I'm going to a foreign ministers meeting tonight, so I do not have a full readout on what he talked about this afternoon. I know they're meeting. I'm sure that David Gergen will give you more on that. He's probably the best one to answer that question.

They went on for 45 minutes more than they anticipated, and so they were obviously having a very good discussion, primarily on economic subjects.

Q: Was last year's statement unrealistic, or is this statement that you're going to come up with just sidestepping the question of military force?

SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER: A lot has happened since last year. I wasn't here last year, so I don't want to comment on last year's document. But certainly, it's a far different situation now than it was last year. The situation is much more difficult to deal with now than it would have been last year or two years ago.

Q: Why did you say that the Serbs and Croats shouldn't dictate, when obviously they have the leverage and the power?

SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER: I think that they do not have the ultimate amount of leverage because you'll find that the foreign ministers were in agreement on maintaining the sanctions against Serbia on a more or less indefinite basis. So that degree of leverage remains and it's significant leverage.

Thank you very much.

END7:20 P.M. (L)

William J. Clinton, Press Briefing by Secretary of State Warren Christopher and Secretary of Treasury Lloyd Bentsen Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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