Remarks Prior to Discussions With President Yeltsin of Russia and an Exchange With Reporters
President Clinton. Well, let me say before you start that this is a very important meeting for both of us and for our country as we're looking forward to having the opportunity to discuss a lot of things, particularly issues relating to the remaining nuclear matters we're trying to resolve between us and a lot of our mutual concerns about organized crime, which I think will take a good deal of work over the years ahead. As you know, the FBI Director has already been to Moscow, and we're working closely on that. So we're looking forward to the meeting.
Q. President Yeltsin, can we ask you, if Congress forces the President, and he has promised he will do this, to lift the arms embargo if the Serbs don't comply, what will be your response if the United States lifts the arms embargo and lets the Bosnian Muslims arm themselves?
President Yeltsin. My response would be negative, of course. But we will discuss this issue with the President of the United States.
Q. Mr. President, do you want to comment? Do you want to comment on what you think can be accomplished?
President Clinton. Well, as you know, the— at least for the moment, this may be a largely academic discussion for two reasons. One is, the legislation now pending commits me to pursue a multinational, multilateral lifting of the embargo through the U.N., and we received word just in the last couple of days from the Bosnian Government that they may be interested in deferring any action on that for 4 to 6 months. It's something they brought to us, so we're all working through that.
I think the most important thing is we have to keep pressing the Bosnian Serbs to end the conflict, to accept the Contact Group's proposal. And I want to emphasize that the United States and Russia have worked very closely together on Bosnia to this point. We have been together every step of the way. We're going to do our best to stay together.
Q. Haven't they stopped you from further air strikes? Haven't they opposed some of your policies?
President Yeltsin. Very impressive. [Laughter]
President Clinton. That's very impressive, right?
Q. It's my job.
President Clinton. She does it well. She does it well. [Laughter]
[At this point, one group of reporters left the room, and another group entered.]
President Yeltsin's First Visit
Q. Mr. President, do you remember your first meeting with President Yeltsin 2 years ago in Blair House here in Washington?
President Clinton. Yes, I do. I remember it well. We had a fine visit. It was more than 2 years ago, I think, wasn't it?
Q. Yes, it was in June.
President Clinton. Yes, that was before I had even been nominated for President formally. I remember it well. He was very kind to receive me. You know, then as I remember, I was running third in the polls, and no one thought I would be elected President. So I was very pleased that he saw me. And we got off to a good start.
Q. You say that the main task is unification of the West and Russia, and at the same time you want to be closer—you want to broaden NATO. Don't you see that there's a contradiction in that?
President Clinton. We're going to discuss all those things. We've made a remarkable partnership, and I think it's been based on real mutual respect for the interests of each other and for our shared goals in the world. And I believe we can continue that partnership. We're going to work at it.
NOTE: The President spoke at 11 a.m. in the Oval Office at the White House. A tape was not available for verification of the content of these remarks.
William J. Clinton, Remarks Prior to Discussions With President Yeltsin of Russia and an Exchange With Reporters Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/217866