Remarks and an Exchange With Reporters Following Discussions With Prime Minister John Major in North Aylesbury, United Kingdom
Prime Minister Major. Hello. Good afternoon. I suppose I should begin by apologizing to you for the D-Day weather; I'm sorry about that.
Could I also say, at the outset, that the President and I will be able to take a question or two afterwards, but I need to be in Portsmouth very speedily, and I know the President has a live broadcast. So I'm afraid the question time will be limited.
We've had the opportunity, this morning, of discussions for nearly a couple of hours, and we'll take the opportunity over the next 2 days to pursue some other matters as well. We looked at a wide range of issues. We looked forward, firstly, to the Naples Summit. We anticipate the emphasis there will be on employment, following the Detroit Jobs Conference, and we discussed some of the preliminary work that's now in course of preparation for that conference.
We will, of course, at Naples, be welcoming President Yeltsin. We both agree there's a more stable economic and political situation in Russia at present, a better foreign policy partnership than perhaps there has been at any stage in recent years. And we had the opportunity of looking at the responsible handling we've seen thus far by both Russia and Ukraine of the problems that exist in the Crimea.
Self-evidently today, we spent some time discussing our joint interests in Bosnia. We are at the middle, in the midst of crucial negotiations in Geneva. The United Nations continues to seek a cessation of hostilities. At present, as you'll know, the contact group is still meeting, pressing for settlement of territorial questions, and it's my view, and that of the President as well, that it's vital for all three parties in Bosnia to recognize that continued war will not advance their positions, but would continue to strain international patience.
Saying that, we must recognize what has already been achieved in Bosnia. Many feared the war would spread beyond those borders; it hasn't done so. And I think there's some satisfaction we can draw from the peaceful developments in much of Central Bosnia as well. We have a cease-fire there, in Sarajevo, in Gorazde, and the conflict has been contained. So far, that is good. We hope we can achieve more at the end of the contact group discussions.
The joint initiative the President and I launched in Washington seems to be successful, and the reconstruction of Sarajevo is now in the United Nations hands.
We spent a while on looking at the hideous conflict in Rwanda. From our perspective, we're looking to support with logistics the Secretary General's proposals for an expanded United Nations force and, of course, the preeminent need for humanitarian aid.
We spent some time expressing our joint concern about the nuclear program in North Korea and looking at the scope for effective action by the United Nations.
I took the opportunity of briefing the President on the present state of discussions in Northern Ireland. I also took the opportunity of thanking the President for his welcome decision on renewing MFN status for China. That is, of course, important for Hong Kong. But quite apart from that, I believe it is the best way to pursue a proper dialog with the Chinese over human rights, because it is more important to have a dialog that will achieve results than simply to make gestures that may entrench the problem without satisfactorily advancing it. We have taken much the same view with human rights missions that have gone to China, and I think there is a joint determination to continue the pressure on the Chinese in this respect. Nonetheless, I believe the decision on MFN was entirely right, and I'm extremely pleased that it was made.
I'll invite the President to say a few words, and then we will take whatever questions we have time for.
The President. I'll be very brief so we can take a couple of questions. I would like first to thank the Prime Minister for his hospitality.
Even though it's raining a little bit, Chequers is still a magnificent place, a welcome walk through history, and a great opportunity for a good visit.
In addition to the items mentioned by the Prime Minister, I would like to also say how much I appreciate the support the United Kingdom has given, through NATO, to the idea of the Partnership For Peace. We now have 19 nations signed up to be part of our Partnership For Peace with NATO, giving us the prospect of having a Europe that is not divided politically and militarily, perhaps for the first time since nation states dotted the continent. So we are very encouraged by that.
I would like to reaffirm what the Prime Minister said about Bosnia. We are heartened by the fact that the conflict has been limited, by the fact that the Croatians and the Bosnian Government have worked out an accord, but we believe that we need to continue to push for an agreement here. I think it unlikely that either side, anywhere in the near term and with anything like acceptable losses, can look forward to any kind of significant alteration in the parameters of the agreement that they were on the verge of making before the unfortunate incidents in Gorazde. So we are determined to redouble our efforts to try to achieve a settlement in whatever way we can. Having said that, I think since we are going to have to leave in a minute, we should take some questions.
Q. Mr. President, can you tell us how seriously, sir, you take the threat from North Korea that they would regard sanctions as an act of war? And would this deter you in any way, or is it even worth risking a war to pursue sanctions in the Security Council?
The President. First of all, North Korea's actions have, in my view, made it virtually imperative that the Security Council consider the question of sanctions. They did that. They freely undertook obligations as a part of the NPT. They repeatedly said that they did not wish to be a nuclear power and that they were committed to a non-nuclear Korean Peninsula.
We have offered any number of inducements or supports to try to achieve that goal, and nothing has been forthcoming. The IAEA inspections were not allowed to proceed. And so I think we have to proceed in the Security Council. There's still time for North Korea to avoid sanctions actually taking effect if we can work out something on the nuclear inspections, but this is in their hands. I think that clearly sanctions are not any sort of act of war and should not be seen as such.
Q. Do you think North Korea is unpredictable and, Mr. President, will you be beefing up American military forces in South Korea to deal with the contingency over there—[inaudible]?
The President. Well, as you know, we have taken some steps to support the capacity of our troops to fulfill their mission there already. And I have had continuing talks, as you would expect I would have, with Secretary Perry and General Shalikashvili. When we had the commanders in chiefs in recently and General Luck and others talked with me extensively about this, we are— [inaudible]—prepared to do our duty.
I do not want a lot of saber rattling over this or war talk. This is a peace talk. This should be about peace. We're trying to enforce the requirements of the NPT to which North Korea voluntarily pledged its allegiance. All we want them to do is keep their word, and we're going to try to give them chances to do it.
Q. What is it like to be back in Britain after all this time?
The President. It's just like old times. I— actually, it's wonderful to be back. I have been back several times since I was a student here. And I have come often, but I never tire of coming. And I always look forward to it. And today, having the opportunity to fly in the helicopter fairly low across the beautiful countryside was a very nostalgic trip for me. I was very grateful to have that chance.
Q. The Prime Minister was talking about employment, about how you have both worked together trying to work on an employment policy, especially with the upcoming summit. I would like to know whether you've got any words of advice for the Prime Minister, considering that your administration is presiding over one of the greatest falls in unemployment that we've seen for a long time.
The President. Well, we had a tough 1980's, and we've changed some policies. We've changed our direction. And we've been bringing down our deficit. We've been increasing investment in areas critical to job growth. We've been trying to work on greater flexibility in our work force. These things are not easy to do.
I will say this: Great Britain is having a quite impressive run of growth. And eventually, the growth rates you've enjoyed in the last few months will bring lower unemployment, there's no question about it. I think the question is, though, that we all have to face is, how low can we get it in a global economy? And then, how can we deal with those people who want to work, but are isolated, either isolated in geographic areas where there has been disinvestment—in the United States that's mostly big inner-city areas and rural areas—and are isolated because they don't have sufficient skills to compete in a global economy in a wealthy country.
Those are the challenges that we have to face, what are our big policies, and how do we target the people that are left out? We have been very fortunate that our policies have paid off handsomely. We've got about 3.3 million new jobs in the last 16 months, but we, too, have a long way to go. And I think we can all learn from each other. But I will say this: If your growth rates continue the way they have been, you will have a drop in unemployment; it's unavoidable. People will—you can't absorb all this growth without hiring more people.
Prime Minister Major. Great. We'll have to stop there. I know he'll be pleased to know our unemployment has been falling for 15 months, and it will go on.
The President. Thank you.
NOTE: The President spoke at approximately 2:30 p.m. at Chequers, the Prime Minister's residence. In his remarks, the President referred to Gen. Gary E. Luck, USA, senior U.S. commander in South Korea.
William J. Clinton, Remarks and an Exchange With Reporters Following Discussions With Prime Minister John Major in North Aylesbury, United Kingdom Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/219225