Remarks Prior to Discussions With President Jean-Bertrand Aristide of Haiti and an Exchange With Reporters
The President. Let me make a brief statement, and then I can answer some questions.
First of all, it's a good pleasure for me to have President Aristide back here in the White House. I want to commend him on the progress that has been made and the courage he showed in signing the Governor's Island agreement which set a process and a timetable for his return as President of Haiti by October 30th and for the parliamentary agreement. We're here to talk about what our next steps are.
I want to compliment, again, the United Nations envoy, Mr. Caputo, and our Ambassador, Mr. Pezzullo, for the wonderful work they have done in trying to restore democracy and Father Aristide to the Presidency. So we're going to have a good meeting this morning and talk about the next steps, naming the Prime Minister, getting the international police force in place, and going forward. I'm excited about this process. It's a major potential for a victory for democracy.
Q. Is President Aristide ready to accept 300 American troops to train his military force and carry out all the provisions of the agreement?
President Aristide. We are doing our best to do that and also to have what we call the four points of—[inaudible]—plan: professionalization of the army, a new police force, reform of the judicial system, and the economic package for having something for every single citizen of the country.
Q. Mr. President, on the budget, Senator Boren wants more cuts; Congressman Rangel wants more taxes for more investment programs. How do you bridge this kind of gap?
The President. I don't know. That's what they're working on now. Senator Boren voted with some enthusiasm for the bill when it came out of the Senate. We'll be glad to work with him. But we'll just have to see what happens.
Q. And are you leaning toward a higher gasoline tax than the 4.3 percent? There are indications from your people on the Hill that you are.
The President. Let's see what happens there in the budget process. I went up there and talked to the conferees, and I told them what I thought the principles and the guideposts ought to be, and they're working on it.
Q. How about—
The President. They may discuss a lot of different things. Let's just see what happens.
Q. Are you thinking of 5 cents, 5 cents a gallon?
Q. Have you given up on Bosnia?
The President. No. That's not true. Those stories are not accurate.
Q. That's the way Secretary Christopher's remarks were interpreted.
The President. I disagree that that's what they said. I realize that that's how one or two sentences were interpreted, but that's not so. We have aggressively committed ourselves to the process in Geneva. And if the Bosnian Government voluntarily signs an agreement, we have made it clear that we were prepared to participate in the enforcement of it. And we are continuing to work with the Europeans on other options. So you know what the United States believes, that an opportunity was lost shortly after Athens because our position did not prevail with the Europeans. But that is not true that we have given up on it. We are continuing to work.
NOTE: The exchange began at 9:40 a.m. in the Oval Office at the White House. A tape was not available for verification of the content of this exchange.
William J. Clinton, Remarks Prior to Discussions With President Jean-Bertrand Aristide of Haiti and an Exchange With Reporters Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/220095