Bill Clinton photo

Remarks and an Exchange With Reporters

March 24, 1994

Air Collision at Pope Air Force Base

The President. Hello. I just wanted to make a brief statement. This morning, I called General Shelton at Fort Bragg and General Floyd at Pope Air Force Base to personally express my sorrow and condolences because of the tragedy yesterday, and to thank them, and through them, the members of our armed services who do the work that they do.

As I said in my statement yesterday, it's sometimes easy for those of us who enjoy the protection of the United States military to forget that it is a dangerous business, even in peace time, because of the training which must be carried out. And I think the hearts and thoughts and prayers of all Americans go out to the families of those who were killed yesterday, those who were injured, and all of those who were involved in this tragedy. We wish them only the best, and we are all thinking of them.

Assassination of Luis Donaldo Colosio

I'd also like to say a brief word about the tragic murder of Mr. Colosio in Mexico yesterday. As you know, I called President Salinas last night, and we had a conversation about it which was entirely personal. And again, the United States, all of us, particularly the Vice President and I and Secretary Cisneros and others who had met Mr. Colosio, feel a great sense of loss and feel the pain of the Mexican people and the pain of his family.

The United States has done what we could do today to try to support the people of Mexico and the Government by making it clear that we think that the country's institutions are fundamentally strong. There was a brief delay in the trading of Mexican securities today to give the investors the opportunity to find out the facts in the hope that we would avoid any undue movement there. That delay lasted somewhere around 30 minutes or an hour. And I think it did have a good, salutary effect to make, just to make sure that the investors have all the facts and were not under any misapprehension about what had occurred. And it appears that things are proceeding normally there. So our best wishes go out to the Mexican people and our grief and our condolences and our prayers to them in this terrible time of loss.


Q. Mr. President, are there steps the United States Government can or should take to try to make sure that there's stability in Mexico?

The President. Well, what we can do and what I think we should have done, first of all, is to take the steps we took on the trading. Secondly, I did talk to Secretary Bentsen last night to make sure that if there was serious trading in Mexican currencies, that we could try to help to stabilize that.

But, as you know, their financial institutions were all closed down today. So they took that step, and we'll just have to see whether anything else happens on that regard tomorrow. But I think things will settle down here. And I think fundamentally they are in sound shape. And I hope that will be the case. We'll have to wait and see what happens tomorrow.

Middle East Peace Process

Q. Mr. President, what did you tell the American Jewish leaders today about the status of a united Jerusalem?

The President. I told them that the position— I told them what I've always told you in public. I'll tell you the exact words I used. I said, "My position has not changed on that issue. But my position is also that the United States and other countries should refrain from intervening in these peace talks between the parties themselves. And part of the Declaration of Principles between Israel and the PLO was that the disposition of that issue would be a so-called final status issue to be resolved at the end of the talks. And I have respected that process." So I have made it clear that the United States has not changed it's position. The way we handled the resolution on the Hebron massacre in the U.N. gave us the opportunity to make that clear again. But we are trying to get these peace talks going, and we are going to let the parties make their decisions for the future of the Middle East on their own, and we are going to do everything we can to facilitate it.

News Conference

Q. What do you hope to accomplish in your press conference tonight?

The President. Basically, I'm going to make a report to the American people about what we're trying to do up here, about the work we're doing on the crime bill, on health care, on a number of other important issues. And if I don't get to the Hill now, I'll be behind the curve on health care. So I've got to go.

NOTE: The President spoke at 12:06 p.m. on the South Lawn at the White House, prior to his departure for Capitol Hill. In his remarks, he referred to Lt. Gen. Henry H. Shelton, USA, Commanding General, 18th Airborne Corps, Fort Bragg; and Brig. Gen. Bobby O. Floyd, USAF, 23d Wing Commander, Pope Air Force Base.

William J. Clinton, Remarks and an Exchange With Reporters Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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