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Press Conference by President Clinton and President Mandela

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Trip to Africa

Office of the Press Secretary
(Cape Town, South Africa)

For Immediate ReleaseMarch 27, 1998


Garden of Tuynhius
Cape Town, South Africa

12:08 P.M. (L)

PRESIDENT MANDELA: Thank you. Please sit down.

President Clinton, a visit by a foreign head of state to acountry is, broadly speaking, one of the most significant developments inentrenched strong political and economic relations between the countriesconcerned. During this last four years, we have received a record numberof heads of states and heads of government. They have come from allcontinents and practically from every country. They have come from theindustrial nations; they have come from the developing world. Some haveadvanced democratic institutions; in others, such institutions are justdeveloping, are only just developing; in others, there are none at all.

We have received all of them, and we have welcomes those visitorsbecause that they have taught us things which we have not known before. Wehave democratic countries, but where poverty of the masses of the people ifrife. We have had countries where there are no popular institutions atall, but they are able to look after their people better than the so-calleddemocratic countries.

I have visited one which is a creditor nation, which has got oneof the highest standards of living in the world, which is tax-free, whichhas gone one of the best schemes of subsidy and housing, for medicalservices, and where education is free and compulsory. And yet, the peoplein that country have no votes, they have no parliament. And yet they arelooked after better than in so called democratic countries. We insist thateven in those countries that people must have votes. Even though they mayenjoy all the things which the masses of the people in other countriesdon't enjoy, democratic institutions are still critical.

So we have received heads of states and heads of government fromall those countries. But the visit our country by President Clinton is thehigh-water mark. And I hope that the response of our parliamentariansyesterday has indicated that very clear.

Our people have welcomes President Clinton with open arms.(Applause.) And it is correct that that should be so, because PresidentClinton, as well as the First Lady, Hillary, they have the correctinstincts on the major international questions facing the world today.Whatever mistakes that they may have made -- and we have made many -- butthere is one thing that you cannot be accused of -- of not having the rightinstincts. And for that reason, I hold him, and almost every SouthAfrican, in high respect. (Applause.)

The fact that we have high respect for him does not mean that wehave no differences. But I would like to declare that when we havediffered on an issue, at the end of that, my respect for him is enhancedbecause I fully accept his integrity and his bona fides, but suchdifferences are unavoidable.

One of the first heads of state I invited to this country wasFidel Castro. I have received in this country ex-President Rafsanjani ofIraq. I have also invited the leader Qaddafi to this country. And I dothat because our moral authority dictates that we should not abandon thosewho helped us in the darkest hour in the history of this country. Not onlydid they support us in rhetoric, they gave us the resources for us toconduct the struggle and the will. And those South Africans who haveberated me for being loyal to our friends, literally, they can go an throwthemselves into a pool. (Laughter and applause). I am not going to betraythe trust of those who helped us.

The United State is acknowledged far and wide as the worldleader, and it is correct, that should be so. And we have, today, aleader, as I have said, whose instincts are always correct. I would liketo draw attention to a very important provision in the United Nation'sCharter, that provision which enjoins, which calls upon all member statesto try and settle their differences by peaceful methods. That is thecorrect position which has influenced our own approach towards problems.

We had a government which had slaughtered our people, massacredthem like flies, and we had a black organization which we used for thatpurpose. It was very repugnant to think that we could sit down and talkwith these people, but we had to subject our blood to our brains, and hadto say without these enemies of ours, we can never bring about a peacefultransformation in this country. And that is what we did.

The reason why the world has opened its arms to South Africans isbecause we are able to sit down with out enemies and to say let us stopslaughtering one another -- let's talk peace. (Applause.) We werecomplying with the provisions of the United Nations Charter. And theUnited States as the leader of the world should set an example to all of usto help elimination tensions throughout the world. And one of the bestways of doing so is to call upon its enemies to say let's sit down and talkpeace. I have no doubt that the role of the United States as the worldleader will be tremendously enhanced.

I must also point out that we are far advanced in our relationswith the United States as a result of the efforts of Deputy President ThaboMbeki and Vice President Al Gore. That Biennial Commission has achieved,has had a high rate of performance far beyond our dreams. And todayAmerican has become the largest investor in our country. (Applause.)Trade between us has increased by 11 percent.

And we have the president of the ANC, who carefully pushed me outof this position -- (laughter) -- and took it over -- the president of theANC and the Deputy President of this country is one of those who, more thananybody else in this country, is committed to the improvement of relationsbetween South Africa and the United States. I hope that when he succeedsin pushing me to step down from the presidency, and the country will puthim in that position so that he can be in a position further to improverelations between us. And I have no doubt that we have no better personthan him to complete this job.

President Clinton, you are welcome. This is one of our proudestmoments, to be able to welcome you. You helped us long before you becamePresident and you have continued with that help now as the President of thegreatest country in the world. Again, welcome. (Applause.)

PRESIDENT CLINTON: Thank you very much, Mr. President. Thankyou and all the people of South Africa for the wonderful welcome you havegiven to Hillary and me, and to our entire delegation. We have felt verymuch at home here.

As I have said yesterday in my address to the Parliament, I wasvery honored to be the first American President to visit South Africa on amission to Africa to establish a new partnership between the United Statesand the nations of Africa, and to show the people of America the new Africathat is emerging -- an Africa where the number of democratic governmentshas quadrupled since 1990; where economies are beginning to grow; wheredeep-seated problems, to be sure, continue to exist, but where hope for thefuture is stronger than it has been in a generation.

It is in our profound interest to support the positive changes inAfrica's life. Nowhere is this more evident than in the miracle you havewrought here in South Africa.

The partnership between our nations is only four years old, butalready we are laying the foundation for a greater future. And I thinkeveryone knows that the most important reason for our success is PresidentMandela. (Applause.)

His emergence from his many years on Robben Island is one of thetrue heroic stories of the 20th century. And more importantly, he emergednot in anger, but in hope, passion, determination to put things right in aspirit of reconciliation and harmony. Not only here, but all over theworld, people, especially young people, have been moved by the power of hisexample.

Yesterday Mr. Mandela said that the only thing that disappointedhim about our trip was that Hillary and I did not bring our daughter.(Laughter.) Last night our daughter called us and said the only reason shewas really sorry not to have made her second trip to Africa was that shedidn't get to see President Mandela.

I think that the impact he has had on the children of the worldwho see that fundamental goodness and courage and largeness of spirit canprevail over power lust, division, and obsessive small news in politics, isa lesson that everybody can learn every day from. And we thank you, Mr.President, for that. (Applause.)

Today we talked about how the United State and South Africa canmove into the future together. We have reaffirmed our commitment toincreasing our mutual trade and investment, to bringing the advantages ofthe global economy to all our people. South Africa is already our largesttrading partner in Africa, and, as the President said, America is thelargest foreign investor in South Africa. And we want to do more.

The presence here of our Commerce Secretary and leaders from ourbusiness community underscores, Mr. President, how important these ties areto us, and our determination to do better. Our Overseas Private InvestmentCorporation is creating there new investment funds for Africa which willtotal more than three-quarters of a billion dollars. The first of these,the Africa Opportunity Fund, is already supporting transportation andtelecommunication projects here in South Africa. The largest of the funds,worth $500 million, will help to build the road, the bridges, thecommunication networks Africa needs to fulfill its economic potential.

Increasing trade does not mean ending aid. I am proud that wehave provided almost $1 billion in assistance to South Africa since 1991.I am committed to working with Congress to return our aid for all of Africato its historic high levels. We will target our assistance to investing inthe future of the African people. If people lack the fundamentals of adecent life, like education or shelter, they won't be able to seizeopportunity.

I announced in Uganada a new $120-million initiative to trainteachers, increase exchanges, bring technology into classrooms throughoutAfrica. We're also working to help provide better housing for those whohave never had it. Yesterday Hillary, with me in town, went back a yearlater to visit the Victoria Mxenge housing project in Guguletu, where womenare building their own homes for the first time. I'm proud that throughour aid projects and our Binational Commission with Mr. Mbeki and VicePresident Gore we are providing seed money and technical assistance forthis effort. And I want to do more of that throughout this country andthroughout the continent.

President Mandela was also kind enough to speak with me at somegreat length about other nations in Africa and our common goals for Africain the future. We are determined to help countries as they work tostrengthen their democracies. We agree human rights are the universalbirthright of all people. I also had a great chance to talk to PresidentMandela about the progress we made at the regional summit in Entebbe. Andhe had read the comminque we put out, and I think that we both agree it wasa remarkable document. And if we can make it real, it will change thingsin a profound way in all the countries that signed off on the statement.

We're also working on security issues, and let me just mention acouple. We are committed to preventing the spread of weapons of massdestruction, to strengthening the Biological Weapons Convention, because weboth believe disease must never be used as a weapon of war. We are both atthe forefront of the effort to eliminate the scourge of land mines. Andnow we are joining together to speed this work.

As I said yesterday, and I'd like to emphasize again, I am verypleased that our Department of Defense has decided to purchase new SouthAfrican de-mining vehicles, called the Cubbies. The vehicles will help usto remove mines more quickly, more safely, and more effectively. And Imight say, that's been a terrible problem the world over. Even in Bosniawhere there are so many people, we're not taking enough mines out of theland every week. And the new South Africa technology will help usimmensely.

Mr. President, for centuries the winds that blow around the Capeof Good Hope have been known for strength and danger. Today the windsblowing through Cape Town and South Africa, and indeed much of thiscontinent, are winds of change and good fortune. I thank you for being somuch the cause of the good that is occurring not only in your own country,but throughout this continent.

I am deeply pleased that we're committed to harnessing the windsof change together. And as we meet in your nation, which has seen suchremarkable hope arise from the ashes of terrible tragedy, let me againthank you. And let me ask your indulgences as I close just to make a fewpersonal remarks about the terrible tragedy we had in the United States, inmy home state, where four children and a school teacher were killed andmany others were wounded in a horrible shooting incident.

First of all, I have called the Governor, the Mayor, and lastnight I had quite a long conversation with the school principal, to tellthem that the thoughts and prayers of people not only in our country, butindeed throughout the world we're with them. I hope, as I have saidbefore, that all of us, including the federal authorities and the membersof the press corps will give the people in Jonesboro the chance to grieveand bury those who have died.

And then after a decent period, after I return home, the AttorneyGeneral, I, and other have got to compare this incident with the other twothat have occurred in the last few months in America to try to determinewhat they have in common and whether there are other things that we shoulddo t prevent this kind of thing from happening. There is nothing oretragic, for whatever reason, than a child robbed of the opportunity to growup.

Thank you, and thank you again, Mr. President, for everything(Applause.)

Q Mr. President, you expressed regret the other day that theUnited States supported authoritarian regimes in Africa during the ColdWar. Today, we buy about 50 percent of the oil from Nigeria, propping up aregime the United States says is one of the most oppressive in Africa. --what will the United States do --

PRESIDENT CLINTON: Well, first of all, let me restate what Isaid because I think it's worth saying again. I said that I did notbelieve the United States had ever been as good a partner to the Africannations and the African people as we could have been, and that during theCold War, when we and the Soviets were worried about the standoff that wehad between us, we tended to evaluate governments in Africa and to pick andchose among them and to give aid to them based far more on how they stoodin the fight of the Cold War than how they stood toward the welfare oftheir people. I stand by that. And I think now we're free to take adifferent course.

President Mandela and I actually talked at some length about this today,and I, frankly, asked for his advice. And Nigeria is the largest countryin Africa in terms of population. It does have vast oil resources. It hasa large army. It is capable of making a significant contribution toRegional security, as we have seen in the last several months. My policyis to do all that we can to persuade General Abacha to move toward generaldemocracy and respect for human rights--release of the political prisoners;the holding of elections. If he stands for election, we hope he will standas a civilian.

There are many military leaders who have taken over chaoticsituations in African countries, but have moved toward democracy. And thatcan happen in Nigeria; that is, purely and simply, what we want to happen.Sooner, rather than later, I hope.

Q President Clinton, I wonder was the Dow Chemicaldispute discussed anywhere, and if so, has there been a resolution of theproblem that affects South Africa in particular?

PRESIDENT CLINTON: We only discussed it very briefly. Youknow what American law is. It was passed by our Congress by almost 90percent in both Houses, after two American planes and American citizenswere illegally shot down in International waters by the Cuban Air Force,and basically says American companies can't do business there.

We are--the Pope's recent visit to Cuba gave us the hopethat we might do more to help the welfare of the Cuban people and topromote alternative institutions like, the Church in Cuba, that would movethe country toward freedom. And I hope that will happen. But the law iswhat it is.

Q On regret again, sir, why are you revisiting those whoseek a formal apology from the United States for America's own shamefulbehavior?

PRESIDENT CLINTON: Well, let me say, first of all, there aretwo different issues here on the slavery issue. Most of the members of theAfrican community with whom I talk at home advise me to keep our raceinitiative focused on the future. (Applause.)

I don't think anybody believes that there is a livingAmerican--I don't think that anyone believes that any living American todaywould defend, feel proud of, or in any way stand up for the years where wehad slavery or the awful legacy which it left in its wake. But we havemoved through now in the last 130, almost last 140 years, the 13th, 14thand 15th amendments, a spate of civil rights legislation. We're nowfocused on what still needs to be done, and it's considerable. So at home we're looking to the future--to closing theopportunity gap, to dealing with the discrimination that still exists,trying to lift up those communities that have done better than others, aswe become not primarily just a divided society between blacks and whites,but increasingly multi cultural, not only with our large Hispanic andNative American populations, but with people from all over the world.

Now, in addition to that, what I tried to do the other dayin Uganda is to recognize that the role of Americans in buying slaves,which were taken out of Africa by European slave traders, had a destructiveimpact in Africa, as well as for the people who were enslaved and broughtto America. And I think that was an appropriate thing to do. I don'tthink anybody would defend what we did in terms of its destructive impactin Africa. No American President has ever been here before, had a chanceto say that.

And I think we want more and more African leaders to do whatPresident Museveni did the other day when we were in Entebbee, and he said,I am not one of those leaders who blames everybody else for our problems.I think we've got--you know, you've got to quit going back to the colonialera, we've got to look to the future.

If you want to see more Africa leaders do that, which I do,than it seems to me that we have to come to terms with our past. Andstating the facts, it seems to me, is helpful. I think we are going to bea good partner with people who are talking responsibility for their ownfuture, we can't be blind to the truths of the past.

That's what--I think Mr. Mandela has done a remarkable jobof balancing those two things here in South Africa. That's why I made thestatement I did in Uganda, and I'm glad I did it. (Applause.)

Q President Clinton, I wonder whether you could tell uswhether debt relief for Africa has been a topic in your discussions withPresident Mandela, and whether you will be taking South Africa's views onthe subject back into the G-7 and into other international arenas to arguefor such debt relief.

PRESIDENT CLINTON: Well, the answer to that proposal in thesense that--if it's properly administered by the internationalauthorities--for this reason. We supported the idea that people should beeligible for debt relief--more debt relief--if they were moving towardeconomic reform, but not saying that everybody had to reach the same point,because people start from--they start from different places, differentcountries do--different per capita incomes, different economic systems,different real possibilities.

So I think that the framework is there. Now, what I pledgedto do after talking to all the people with whom I have met--PresidentMandela and the other leaders that I saw on the way down here-- is to takea look at how this thing is going to work in fact, and see what I could doto make sure that we give as much aid as we possibly can under thisproposal. But I do think it is legitimate to say--if you want debt reliefto unleash the economic potential country so you take the burden off of it,then when it's all said and done there has to be--two policies that have toexist. Number one, you've got to have a set of policies that will producebetter results in the future than you had in the past, in any country.Number two, if we did that, other people would be reluctant to loan moneyin the future because they would think they would never get any of theirmoney back.

So I think the trick is to get enough debt relief tocountries to get the debt burden down so they can grow and they're notcrushed and kept from making any progress, but to do it in a way so thatthe debt relief produces long term prosperity. And that's my goal. And,yes, we're going to talk about it at the G-8 meeting in Great Britain. AndI will stay on top of this to make sure that what we're trying to get doneis actually accomplished. Everybody talked to me about it.

Q Mr. President, during this trip you've spoken aboutgenocidal violence in Africa, but the sort of random killings you referredto in the Jonesboro killings has terrified people in the United States withalarming frequency. How do you explain that? What can you say now andwhat can you do now as America's leader to root out such violence from theculture?

PRESIDENT CLINTON: Well, we worked on it very hard for fiveyears, and the crime rates have gone down for five years--the violent crimerate has gone down for fives years quite dramatically in many cities.

And I saw an analysis, actually, just before I left home inthe documents that I read every Sunday--I saw an analysis of the decliningcrime rate which essentially said that, obviously, the improving Americaneconomy contributed to the crime rate going down because more people hadjobs--and particularly with regard to property crimes it was moreattractive to work than to steal--but the other reason was that policingand law enforcement and prevention is now better than it was five yearsago. And crime is a problem that many societies, especially many moreurbanized societies have.

And all I can tell you is that the violent crime rate isgoing down in our country--it's still way too high What I'm concernedabout in the Jonesboro case or in the Paducah case or in the Mississippiissue is whether we are doing enough to deal with the question of violenceby juveniles and is there something else we can do to get it down evenmore.

Ask President Mandela a question. I'm tired.(Laughter.) PRESIDENT MANDELA: No personal questions.(Laughter.)

Q Not today, Mr. President. Mr President, have youraised with President Clinton the question of the United States--Africagrowth and opportunity--and the large number of conditionality clauses inthat, and pointed out to him that this would appear to be in conflict withthe United States? commitment to free trade? PRESIDENT MANDELA: Well, this matter has been fullydiscussed between President Clinton and our Deputy President Thabo Mbeki.And I faithfully endorse the point of view that was placed before thePresident by the Deputy President. These matters are the subject ofdiscussions and they are very sensitive matters. And I appreciate thecuriosity of the media, but it is sometimes merely to say that this is amatter over which we have serious reservations, this legislation. To us,it is not acceptable. But nevertheless, we accept each other's integrityand are discussing the matter in that spirit. Yes, we are taking that up.

PRESIDENT CLINTON: If I could say one thing about itthough. If you all actually read this bill, I think you will find twothings. First, and the most important thing is, if the bill becomes law,it will increase the access of all African nations to the American market,without conditionality. The bill opens up more of the American market tomore African trade. The bill then says, for countries that make greaterstrides toward democracy, human rights and economic reform, it seemed to meto strike the right kind of balance.

I, myself, would not have supported it if it had gone inreverse, if it had imposed new burdens on some countries while giving newbenefits to theirs.

Q --genocide in Rwanda, and you said the United Statesshould have acted sooner to stop the killing. Do you think Americanracism, or what you have described as American apathy toward Africa playeda role in its inaction? How have you grappled personally with thatexperience two days ago? And have you considered any specific policychanges, given that this isn't the first time this century that America hasbeen slow to act, that would compel a faster American response in thefuture, besides early-warning systems?

PRESIDENT CLINTON: Let me say, first of all, I do notbelieve that there was any--I don't believe there was any racial element inour slow response. I think that--keep in mind, I don't believe anybody onthe outside was prepared for somewhere between 800,000 and a million peopleto die in 90 days. And I look how long it took the United States andEurope through NATO and then through the UN to put together machinery to goin and deal with the Bosnia problem.

So I would just say to you, I think that--the point I wastrying to make is I do believe that generally America has been--and thewhole American policy apparatus has been less responsive and less involvedin Africa than was warranted. I think that's a general problem.

But I think in the case of Rwanda, what I believe we havegot to do is establish a system, hopefully through the United Nations,which gives us an early-warning system, that gives us the means to go inand try to stop these things from happening before they start, and then ifit looks like a lot of people are going to die in a hurry, that kicks inmotion some sort of preventative mechanism before hundreds of thousands ofpeople die.

I mean, if you look at the shear--the military challengepresented by those who were engaging in the genocide, most of it was donewith very elemental weapons. If there had been some sort of multinationalresponse available, some sort of multinational force available, to go inpretty quickly, most of those lives probably could have been saved. Andwe're going to have to work this out through the U.N. and then figure outhow to staff it and how to run and whether it should be permanent orsomething you can call up in a hurry, how such people would be trained,what should be done. But my own view is, if we think it would be better ifthe U.N. has a means to deal with it in a hurry. And I would be preparedto support the development of such a mechanism.

Q That brings up the subject of the African CrisisResponse Team, who is responsible, and I wondered how your discussions,both of you, went on that.

PRESIDENT MANDELA: We had a long program of very importantmatters to discuss and, unfortunately, we did not discuss this one. Ourattitude toward this question is very clear. We support the initiativevery fully. All that South Africa is saying is that a force which isintended to deal with problems in Africa must not be commanded by someoneoutside this continent. I certainly would never put my troops undersomebody outside this continent. I certainly would never put my troopsunder somebody who does not belong to Africa. That is the only reservationI've had. Otherwise, I fully accept the idea. It's a measure of theinterest which the United States takes in the problems of Africa, and theonly difference is this one about the command of that force.

THE PRESS: Thank you.

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Africa Trip Speeches

First Lady Remarks at December 31st Women's Movement Daycare Center

First Lady Remarks at Makerere University

Remarks to the People of Rwanda

FINCA Women's Project

Remarks to the People of Ghana

Opening of the Ron Brown Center

Remarks at TechnoServe Peace Corps Project Site

Interview by the Discovery Channel

Remarks to the Community of Kisowera

Remarks at Reception

Photo Opportunity with the Presidents

Remarks in Photo Opportunity

Remarks with Village Business Owner

African Environmentalists and Officials

Remarks at Regina Mundi Church

Photo Opportunity with President Abdou Diouf

President Clinton and President Mandela

Remarks Upon Departure

Remarks at the Entebbe Summit

Remarks during visit to Victoria

Remarks in Robben Island

Interview of the President by BET

Africa Trade Bill

President to the Parliament of South Africa

Videotaped Remarks to the People of Africa