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Remarks Prior to Discussions With President Jose Aznar of Spain and an Exchange With Reporters

April 30, 1997

President Clinton. Well, let me begin by welcoming President Aznar and his group of leaders from Spain. Spain has set an example for the world now for quite a few years in its transition to a remarkable and healthy and vibrant democracy, which produced your recent election, and has been a very valuable ally and partner of the United States in Bosnia and now in Guatemala and, of course, is going to be the host of our summit on NATO in July. So we're looking very much forward to being there. And we appreciate you very much.

Yes, we have our fingers crossed. [Laughter]

Budget Agreement

Q. Have you got a budget deal, Mr. President? And why did Chelsea pick Stanford? [Laughter]

President Clinton. Not yet, but if you look at the economic news this morning, it is one more clear example that we did the right thing in '93 and that the right strategy is to bring the deficit down, expand trade, and invest in education and training and science and technology. And so, if we can get an agreement that does all that—that is, balances the budget but also continues to invest in the areas that our people need to grow the economy—then I will support it. And we're working hard. We worked hard yesterday. And perhaps it will happen.

Q. Before you go to Mexico?

President Clinton. Oh, I don't know about that.

Chelsea Clinton's College Selection

Q. Tell us about why Chelsea chose Stanford—why you think she did?

President Clinton. I don't know. She looked at all these schools, she had wonderful choices, and she made her own decision. And her mother and I are proud of her, and we support her.

You know, the great thing about America is that there are literally a few hundred worldclass educational institutions in this country. And she didn't have a bad choice; she just picked the decision she though was best for her.

Q. How do you feel about her going so far away?

President Clinton. Well, the planes run out there, and the phones work out there. [Laughter] And the E-mail works out there. So we'll be all right.

Q. What was your role, sir, in the decision?

President Clinton. None, except I listened, asked questions, and attempted to have no influence whatever.

Hong Kong

Q. Mr. President, did you get any assurances from the Foreign Minister of Hong Kong that Hong Kong would enjoy greater autonomy under Chinese rule? Did you get any assurances?

President Clinton. Well, we had a good discussion about Hong Kong, and he assured me that China intended to observe the terms of the agreement of 1984 that they made with Great Britain and that the United States supported back then. I was quite satisfied with what he said. And I certainly hope that it will reflect Chinese policy.

The Vice President. Thank you. Muchas gracias.

Extraterritorial Impact of Sanctions

Q. Do you consider the conflict on Helms-Burton completely finished, sir?

President Clinton. I hope so.

[At this point, one group of reporters left the room, and another group entered.]

Visit of President Aznar

President Clinton. Is everybody in?

Let me begin by welcoming President Aznar here to visit us. We have had a wonderful partnership with Spain for many years and have admired the vibrant democracy that the Spanish people enjoy, and have appreciated the partnership we have had with Spain in NATO, working together in Bosnia, most recently in Guatemala.

And I want to say a special word of appreciation, obviously, to the President for hosting the NATO summit in Madrid this July. I'm looking forward to that and hoping I can come a day or two early and look around Spain again, for the first time in 30 years.

President Aznar. You're invited; you know that. I hope to see you there.

[At this point, President Aznar continued his remarks in Spanish, and a translation was not provided.]

Role of Spain in NATO

Q. Mr. President, what do you expect from Spain with the new role that NATO has to play?

President Clinton. Well, first of all, I expect an important leadership role. We want Spain integrated fully into the NATO command structure. We're very fortunate in having a Secretary-General of NATO from Spain. And having Madrid be the site of this historic summit when we will vote for the first time to take in new members and hopefully be in a position to celebrate a new arrangement with Russia—we're working on that now; we hope we can achieve that—I think symbolizes the role that Spain will play in the years ahead in NATO.

Also, we look to the Spanish to lead in NATO, to be willing to do what has to be done, to have a say in situations which may not be immediately popular but which are profoundly important.

Again, let me say, I'm very grateful to the support we've received in Bosnia, to the work we're doing in Guatemala. The influence that Spain has in Latin America is something that's especially important to the United States because we seek to integrate ourselves more closely into Latin America and in partnership with Spain. So we're very hopeful there.

Q. [Inaudible]—petition for—taking a bigger role, more important role in the NATO?

President Clinton. Well, the details of all that have to be worked out by the command structure. But we want Spain integrated into the structure, yes.

President's Upcoming Visit to Spain

Q. [Inaudible]—will you come next?

President Clinton. I don't know. Since I've been President, I've only been really to Madrid, and for brief periods. But 30 years ago—28 years ago this month, I had a vacation as a very young man in Spain. And I've always wanted to go back, and I've always wanted to have a chance to see it with Hillary. My daughter was able to come to Spain for an extended period a couple of years ago. So we're hoping that we can take just a couple of days off before the summit to see some more things in Spain. I'll follow the President's lead; I won't sketch out my itinerary here because I don't really have one. [Laughter]

NOTE: The President spoke at 12:45 p.m. in the Oval Office at the White House. In his remarks, the President referred to Minister of Foreign Affairs Qian Qichen of China; and Javier Solana, Secretary-General of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. A tape was not available for verification of the content of these remarks.

William J. Clinton, Remarks Prior to Discussions With President Jose Aznar of Spain and an Exchange With Reporters Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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