US White House Press Briefing -- Demirel Visit -- 96-03-29
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THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release March 29, 1996
PRESS BRIEFING BY
The Briefing Room
1:50 P.M. EST
MR. MCCURRY: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen.
Thank you for bearing with us while the President completed his
meeting with President Demirel. I would -- a couple of notes before
we get going. I'm going to have David do a readout on the meeting,
but tell you first, right after the President announces the new
initiative on cancer drugs, which will be around -- he will be
completed around 3:30 p.m. -- I'll have the Vice President and Dr.
David Kessler, the Commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration,
here to brief further about that. I also expect the Vice President
might have some things to say about the CBO's calculation on the
FY'96 deficit numbers. So you can look forward to that at 3:30 p.m.
Another program note: Tony Lake, the Assistant to the
President for National Security Affairs, National Security Advisor,
is going to give an address on Monday entitled, "The Challenge of the
U.S.-Russia Relationship in the Post-Cold War World." This will be
on Monday at 9:15 a.m. He'll be speaking to the U.S.-Russia Business
Council over at the Four Seasons Hotel. That's a group that
encourages private sector cooperation and investment with
entrepreneurs in Russia. And I expect that will be an important
address for you to pay some attention to.
The National Security Advisor is going to sketch out
several things that really set the stage in many ways for the
President's upcoming visit to Moscow for the Nuclear Safety Summit,
but also for the bilateral meetings that he will have with President
Yeltsin. So I call your attention to that.
David Johnson, our Deputy Press Secretary for all things
foreign, will tell you more about the Clinton-Demirel bilateral
MR. JOHNSON: Johnson, comma, David T.
Q Is he on the record?
Q He is.
MR. JOHNSON: This briefing is not on background. The
President and President Demirel had a meeting that lasted about an
hour, which went about twice as long as we had originally scheduled
it. They covered a very wide range of issues. As most of you know,
President Demirel is not the head of government, he's the head of
state. And in other systems, heads of state presidencies don't
always have such a strong role to play, but over the last several
months I think it's been proven what a pivotal figure President
Demirel is as he's helped usher this coalition of exercise in Turkish
democracy that's been so important for his country and for the
They covered the complete range of bilateral issues and
a number of others. The President made clear that the starting point
for our discussions with Turkey was that they were key in a number of
relationships the United States has -- the alliance for security and
stability in Europe, for, ultimately, in the Middle East, and for the
United States' relations with the countries in that part of the
world, particularly the Islamic countries.
The President took the opportunity to thank President
Demirel for the hospitality that he and Turkey had provided for Mrs.
Clinton and for his daughter. He remarked that they had a
particularly enjoyable time at Ephesus and he thought he had a
difficult time getting them to leave there.
He talked about Bosnia-Herzegovina and the role that
Turkey was playing, in particular with the equip and train issue for
the Bosnian armed forces. The President thanked President Demirel
for hosting the pledging conference and for the work that we had done
The President emphasized that we were in favor of the
multiple pipeline approach to oil exports from the Transcaucacus
region and that that would ultimately include a pipeline which would
cross Turkish territory. He thank President Demirel for the work
that he had done with us, in particular with Sandy Berger, on the
The President also thanked President Demirel for his
help on Provide Comfort and supplying the population in Northern
Iraq; for the generosity for our forces there, but also in the
knowledge that the sanctions program to limit the war-making
capability of Saddam Hussein's Iraq had been particularly costly for
Turkey in trade terms.
With respect to the Greek-Turkish dispute, the President
made clear that we consider both Greece and Turkey very valued
allies, and that the conflict they have is one that deeply saddens
us. The President encouraged President Demirel to consider the ICJ
or another third party that both states could agree on to possibly
help them with the Imia-Kardak dispute.
On Cyprus, the President asked that President Demirel
work with us to try to get this negotiating process restarted; that
while we didn't have a new initiative or anything to announce, we
plan to make extra efforts over the next several weeks and months to
try to help us get the negotiating process moving again with respect
On security issues, there was a discussion of the role
that Turkey plays in the alliance and the role -- and how we have
worked together over the period between the founding of the alliance
and the end of the Soviet Union -- had played a particularly role,
but that role continues even past then with the new challenges which
have come from the creation of the Newly Independent States.
And, finally, the President told President Demirel that
he would, at the conclusion of this meeting -- and something which is
now going on -- notify Congress of his intent to transfer the three
frigates to Turkey and that with respect to the Cobras that that
issue would remain under consideration.
Q Did they discuss about the Iranian issue?
MR. JOHNSON: They talked a bit about terrorism, but I
can't confirm for you that anything specific about Iran was raised.
Q Was there any reference with respect to the
formation of a coalition government in Turkey during the talks?
MR. JOHNSON: Only with what I had said earlier, that
the President remarked how key President Demirel was to the exercise
of Turkish democracy, and in working with the authorities in getting
that coalition established.
Q A few moments ago, the Turkish President, Mr.
Demirel expressed his gratitude to President Clinton for his full
support on the Turkish proposal for a political dialogue with Greece,
that no -- issues divided the two countries. Could you please
elaborate more about President Clinton's reaction to this Turkish
proposal for a Greek-Turkish political dialogue has been turned down
already by the Greek government?
MR. JOHNSON: As I remarked earlier, we encouraged
President Demirel, as we have encouraged Greece, to consider the ICJ
or some other agreeable third party to deal with the Imia-Kardak
dispute, and we believe that some type of discussion between Greece
and Turkey would be a good idea in order to address their issues.
But in terms of anything specific that you raise, I'm not certain
that he or you are talking about the same thing. But what I would
say is what the United States believes is that we think that a
discussion between Greece and Turkey, both of whom we believe are
valued and important allies, would be useful in addressing the
problems between them.
Q One more question. Did they discuss specifically
the issue, specifically?
MR. JOHNSON: Yes.
Q And to which extent, because --
MR. JOHNSON: I've already described to you that the
United States has encouraged and is encouraging both parties to see
if ICJ or another agreeable third party could be helpful in that
Q I'm asking because President Demirel told us they
did not discuss this issue. That's why --
MR. JOHNSON: I've addressed the issue. I think I will
leave it at that.
Q Did the President bring up the human rights
practices in Turkey and the Kurdish question?
MR. JOHNSON: We discussed the Kurdish issue with
respect to Provide Comfort and the work that Turkey has done in that
area in supporting the United States and the allies in supplying the
Q How about the terrorism?
MR. JOHNSON: Terrorism was discussed, and --
Q How large was this in the discussion?
MR. JOHNSON: Well, it was a feature of the discussion,
a knowledge that the United States has that Turkey has had to
confront terrorism, particularly PKK terrorism, and that it has
suffered a great deal in terms of attacks on its security and police
forces. And it's an issue that Turkey has to confront in its daily
Q Was Syria brought up?
MR. JOHNSON: In terms of the Middle East peace process
there was a discussion of Syria, yes.
Q The Turkish Prime Minister -- recently launched a
peace initiative with respect to Greece, and he announced a new peace
package. And was this raised or was this mentioned, taken up during
the talks? Did the President respond to this Turkish peace
MR. JOHNSON: Well, I think I've already discussed what
our feelings are about our desire that Greece and Turkey address the
issues which divide them peacefully, and in terms of discussions, and
that, in particular, in the Imia-Kardak dispute, that they
consider the ICJ or another third party on which they both can agree
to ameliorate this problem.
Q Was the freedom of expression brought up at all?
MR. JOHNSON: There was a discussion of Turkish
democracy and the way it is working.
MR. MCCURRY: The other thing I meant to call to your
attention -- I'm sure you've all got the various pieces of paper
available on the President and Vice President's announcements
regarding the global positioning system and some of the technologies
that will be available. I encourage people to take a look for that
Other subjects, other questions.
Q Did he sign the debt limit bill yet?
MR. MCCURRY: He has not received the debt -- that has
not come here yet. Oh, I'm sorry, excuse me. The debt limit -- no,
the debt limit bill has not --
Q Debt limit, Social Security?
MR. MCCURRY: None of these measures have yet arrived
her at the White House. The White House has only received one
measure as of about an hour ago, and that was the line-item veto.
And as I indicated earlier, the President will deal with that next
week. We certainly expect to get the debt measure very shortly, and
the President, of course, will sign this.
We had long encouraged Congress to extend the debt
ceiling, had called repeatedly for the extension of the debt ceiling,
and, frankly, consider, as the Wall Street Journal did today, it to
have been a failure in tactics by the Republican Congress to use the
debt ceiling measure to try to force the President into making
decisions the President had always indicated he would not,
specifically, accepting Medicare cuts, accepting cuts in
environmental protection and education and technology funding that's
important for the economy. The President indicated all along he
would not take that and he would not allow them to use this debt
ceiling as a weapon to hold him hostage. I think the President now
has made it quite clear -- or Congress made it clear by passing this
measure that that was a faulty strategy from the beginning.
Q Daschle said it's a done deal, the President will
sign a three-week CR extension.
MR. MCCURRY: Well, we remain in discussion with
Congress. It now appears to us that they are headed in the direction
of yet again a short-term funding resolution. This will the be 12th
such funding measure because Congress can't seem to complete work on
full appropriations measures for the balance of this fiscal year.
It's increasingly looking like this fiscal year might be over by the
time they get around to funding it. But the President, if that's the
only form in which we have funding to keep the government open, we'll
reluctantly accept that and we'll go back to work at the conclusion
of the recess that Congress seems intent on taking.
Q Ross Perot is on the campaign trail and hinting
broadly he may yet be a candidate. On the issues that he raises,
does the White House think he's justified in running again in '96?
MR. MCCURRY: Well, the President believes that on many
of the issues he raised in 1992 we have delivered for the American
people -- a stronger economy; reform of our government; a smaller,
downsized government that performs better service for the people of
this country; and as you all know, eight million new jobs and,
importantly an issue that he talked about in 1992, reducing the
We had confirmation today from the Congressional Budget
Office of Newt Gingrich and Bob Dole that this President kept his
promise in 1992 to reduce the deficit by half. We thank the Speaker,
we thank Senator Dole for that confirmation that the President kept
Now, that's one of the issues that Mr. Perot raised. I
have no idea what his plans are for 1996, and you can come back and
ask me in about six months.
Q But do you think he's likely to hurt Clinton more
or Dole more?
MR. MCCURRY: That's a September-October question. I'll
be happy to entertain it then.
Q What about the other issues on Perot's list?
MR. MCCURRY: I don't know what's on his list and I
don't know whether his list will be of any significance in terms of
the campaign. So let's talk about that in about a half a year from
Q It seems like the Congress or Senate of Colombia
wants the withdrawal of the U.S. Ambassador Miles Frechette for some
statements he made regarding the commission that's investigating
President Semper. Is the White House backing Miles Frechette?
MR. MCCURRY: I heard a little bit about that, but -- we
do back the Ambassador fully, of course. And the State Department, I
believe, was in a position to comment further on it. In fact, they
may have already done that over at their briefing today.
Q -- farm bill and also partial-birth abortion ban
MR. MCCURRY: The farm bill is, as I just indicated,
none of these measure have come to us yet. We have not received the
late-term abortion bill. The President obviously intends to veto
that measure. The farm bill we expect to receive, but in many cases
I think this legislation will probably not arrive here at the White
House until some time next week. But we will keep you apprised. We
are not anticipating any action on any of this legislation other than
the debt ceiling and in the continuing resolution today.
Q Do you expect a ceremony at least for the farm
bill, though, when you get to that?
MR. MCCURRY: That's not clear at this point and we'll
let you know next week. We've got a lot of time open on the calendar
next week to deal with the legislation that's coming down from the
Hill, and I suspect there will be some public ceremonies. I expect
in some cases you're just going to get written statements from the
President indicating his decisions on some of these measures.
Q Will there be any statement today on the Social
Security earnings limit, written or verbal?
MR. MCCURRY: That is --
Q -- part of the debt limit.
MR. MCCURRY: I thought the debt limit bill came -- no,
you're right. They were going to -- at one point there was a
different consideration of what they were going to attach that to,
but there will be certainly a reference in the President's signed
statement on the debt ceiling bill reference to that provision.
Q Is that how you're going to deal with it, Mike, put
out some paper when he does that?
MR. MCCURRY: I expect that's what we'll do on the debt
ceiling measure and the continuing. In both cases I anticipate
written statements by the President. I don't think that we're going
to see him on those issues.
Q And do you expect those this afternoon? Do you
expect they'll be late?
MR. MCCURRY: The last I had heard is that we expected
to receive the debt ceiling measure around noon, but it hadn't come
in as of an hour ago.
Q Mike, why is the President going to Korea and what
does he plan to achieve on the visit?
MR. MCCURRY: The President has agreed to adjust his
departure time on April 15th so he can make a brief, but important
stop in the Republic of Korea because of the central role the
Republic of Korea plays in our strategic approach to security in the
Asia Pacific region.
We are very keenly interested in expanding our security
discussions with the government of Japan when the President goes to
meet with President Hashimoto, and we believe it would be very
fruitful for the President to have an opportunity to visit with
President Kim prior to his arrival in Tokyo because of the very close
cooperation we enjoy with both the Republic of Korea and the
government of Japan in dealing with our security concerns.
There will, of course, be other bilateral issues that
might arise -- economic issues, other issues related to our
cooperation on global issues. But this brief stop will provide
President Kim and President Clinton an opportunity to visit on
subjects that will certainly be much a part of the President's
overall travels not only in the Asia Pacific region, but also as he
goes onward to Moscow.
Q Has anything happened in the past few weeks that
would have made the visit more important than a few weeks ago when
the President was unable to go?
MR. MCCURRY: Well, a meeting between the President of
the United States and the President of the Republic of Korea would
always be important. This one had not been scheduled simply because
of the President's prior plans. But because those plans have changed
and we've got an opportunity to make that stop, the President thought
it was important to do so and to rearrange his plans.
Q I'm sorry, what plans changed, Mike?
MR. MCCURRY: We had originally anticipated some things
were happening that weekend that for a variety of reasons didn't come
together, and so he has a little bit of -- more time available to him
on his own travel schedule.
Q With regard to the case of Martin Pang, Attorney
General Janet Reno this morning indicated that all Justice Department
options have been exhausted, that the only way King County
prosecutors are going to be able to try him for murder is if it comes
out of the Executive Branch. Are you prepared to go forward with
MR. MCCURRY: I don't have any comment on the case. If
the Attorney General has commented, that is the proper place for the
comment to come.
Q She said that it would be brought by the Executive
Branch. Have you heard about it at all --
MR. MCCURRY: I'll have to check with the Legal
Counsel's Office to see whether they have followed that issue.
Q Thank you.
MR. MCCURRY: Is that all you got? (Laughter.)
Q That's all I've got. (Laughter.)
Q I have one follow-up question.
MR. MCCURRY: One follow-up question.
Q Is Ralph Nader a September-October question, too?
MR. MCCURRY: Yes, I'd say you start clocking in on that
around maybe the last week in August, the Labor Day. I think Labor
Day will be -- and, by the way, I'd encourage you on some of these
issues, even though I don't think they're saying much about it, but
remember that both Ann Lewis and Joe Lockhart over at Clinton-Gore
'96 are always available to you. And they are the proper place for
comments like that to come.
We have got a lot of work to do here, and there will be
plenty of time for campaigning later in this year. And I think
you'll find our campaign committee responsive to you, and that's the
place where a lot of that commentary should come from.
Q On Monday, aside from the O's game, what do we
MR. MCCURRY: Next week, the President is going up to
Camden Yards on Monday, might do a little bit of work here before he
goes. On Tuesday, we've got a very important state visit by
President Scalfaro. I expect on Wednesday we might be doing some
further discussion on the President's efforts to combat crime and
gangs. And then at the end of the week, of course, he goes to
Oklahoma City. And that's the week ahead.
Q Is the Garagiola event still on?
MR. MCCURRY: We'll let you know on that. It's not
clear how they're going to fit everyone's plans in, but I do think
they will try to do something with that.
Q Is the President going to Ed Muskie's funeral
MR. MCCURRY: He has no plans to do so, and I -- I had
heard something about a delegation, but you can check with the Press
Q I'm sorry. Just to be clear, the Garagiola thing,
it's only dependent on whether it takes place here or somewhere else?
MR. MCCURRY: They are working on the schedule for that
and how they we're going to do that, and we'll let you know.
Q Do you know what it is that he wants to accomplish
MR. MCCURRY: Well, the President is very -- as I
mentioned yesterday, the President is very interested in the work
that Joe Garagiola has been doing to discourage the use of chewing
tobacco by baseball players, who set, obviously, an example for young
people in this country. It furthers the President's convictions that
we should really do everything we can to discourage tobacco use by
Q Anything you can say from your podium about Montana
that might diffuse the situation?
MR. MCCURRY: I believe that the Justice Department has
been saying what they think is necessary in order to make sure that
proper procedures are followed and the law enforcement effort there
is effective. And I really don't have anything to add other than to
say that Mr. Panetta continues to get updates as necessary from the
Department and he advised the President of any developments.
Q Do you have any words of encouragement for the
MR. MCCURRY: Well, we well understand the concerns of
the community. The Justice Department has spoken to that, and we
believe extensive efforts are being made to protect the citizens.
That's what the proper law enforcement effort there is much about.
Q Radio address?
MR. MCCURRY: Radio address will be tomorrow live and in
Q What's the subject?
MR. MCCURRY: I'll keep you guessing until tomorrow.
Actually, I'll keep you guessing because it was changing around a
little bit. I'm not sure that they have locked it in yet.
Okay. Thank you.
THE PRESS: Thank you.
END 2:11 P.M. EST