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Remarks on the Legislative Agenda and an Exchange With Reporters

September 12, 1995

The President. Let me—first of all, I want to welcome the leadership of the Congress here and thank them for coming down to the White House for the meeting today. I'm looking forward to having a chance to discuss a number of things, including the present situation in Bosnia, the status of the welfare reform legislation, the budget—progress toward a balanced budget, and a number of other issues, including the lobby reform measure passed by the Senate and the line-item veto and anything else that might be on the minds of the congressional Members who are here.

I have said before, I will say again, I'm very hopeful that we can achieve common ground on this budget. This is a truly historic moment. We do have some different priorities, but I think we can reach an agreement if we work at it. It seems clear now that such cannot be the case by the time this fiscal year ends on October 1st, so I'm hopeful that we can, for a limited period of time, pass a continuing resolution. It would be a straightforward resolution, appropriate for the reduction of spending to meet the overall budget targets, and I look forward to working on that.

I believe that the American people want us to work together and get something done, and I think most of us want the same thing, so that's what we're going to talk about.


Q. President Clinton, can you give us a— [inaudible]—the way you see the situation in Bosnia right now and what you plan to talk about?

The President. Well, I think the agreement signed in Geneva by the three parties is very, very hopeful—the Bosnian Government, the Croatian Government, the Serbian Government. I think the negotiations should continue. I'm sending Ambassador Holbrooke back there tonight. In terms of the bombing, that's really up to the Serbs. The U.N. Security Council resolution is clear, and the conditions laid out by our committee on the ground are clear, and we'll just have to see what happens there.

Q. Mr. President, Russia is comparing the bombings to genocide. Other than the traditional ties to the Serbs, what do you think is behind Yeltsin's sterner and sterner opposition to bombings?

The President. Well, I think you have to ask them that. Let's just make it clear—if you look at the facts of the bombing attacks, they are clearly not that. First of all, they were authorized by the United Nations; secondly, they came only after extreme provocation, after the killings, the shelling—resulting from the shelling of Sarajevo, the killing of innocent civilians; and thirdly, they have been very, very carefully targeted and carried out with great discipline and skill by the United States pilots and the NATO allies. There has been no genocide there. There has been an extraordinary amount of care and discipline but firmness and strength. They were appropriately done. And I want to say in the presence of these Members here how much I appreciate the comments that Senator Dole and others have made on that.

The United States, I think, is united in being opposed to resumption of the killing of innocent civilians in protected areas. They said we wouldn't do it, we wouldn't tolerate it, and we can't.

Thank you.

NOTE: The President spoke at 5:42 p.m. in the Cabinet Room at the White House, prior to a meeting with congressional leaders. A tape was not available for verification of the content of these remarks.

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

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