PRESS BRIEFING BY
NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER SANDY BERGER
Aboard Air Force One
MR. BERGER: The President had a brief farewell meeting with PresidentMasire at the airport. Mrs. Clinton and Mrs. Masire were also present.President Clinton thanked him enormously for obviously the hospitality andwarmth of the last three days. He congratulated President Masire -- as youknow, today is the day on which he leaves office, after 18 years ofgovernment, turns over power. And the President said that what he hadaccomplished -- what President Masire had accomplished in building andsustaining a democratic government with high rates of growth, withwell-being of people quite widely shared, the actions he's taken topreserve the environment, are an enormous legacy that he is leaving behindfor his people.
And the President specifically talked about today, as he drove aroundGaborone today and saw people going about their daily lives in a normalfashion, this truly is the peaceful transition of power. One could nothave known from driving down the streets or walking around the streets thatanything unusual was happening today, and that speaks very loudly aboutwhat's been established here.
Q What did President Masire say in response to President Clinton'sassessment of his building of democracy?
Mr. Berger: He was very grateful, that he had a great deal ofconfidence in the vice president, who will become president sometime --excuse me, it's tomorrow, not today; I should correct myself. He thankedthe President very much. He said it was very important that the Presidenthad come, that it had been a high point for him. I'm not sure he said "thehigh point," but he said "a high point." And that it was a wonderfulpresent as he left office.
Q Why is he leaving office?
Mr. Berger: His term is up next year, and I think that he felt, as Iunderstand it, that it would be better to have the vice presidentestablished as president, whom he will appoint tomorrow, and have a periodto establish himself with the Botswanan people.
Q Does Gore know about this practice?
Mr. Berger: No comment.
The last thing, the President obviously talked about how wonderfulChobe was, and they really do want tourism to be -- they have an economynow that is quite heavily dependent on diamonds. They have quite a longtime in which they can mine these diamonds -- the length of time -- up to50 years' worth. But they obviously want to diversify their economy.
And one of the ways they want to diversify their economy is tourism.It's very, very high on the list. And the President said that he hoped insome way he had helped that, by having all of you here and having the worldsee what a beautiful country this was.
MR. MCCURRY: Senegal. What are we going to do in Senegal?
MR. BERGER: In Senegal, we are going to meet with President Diouf.The three high points of this -- obviously in addition to meeting withPresident Diouf -- will be going to see the training of the African CrisisResponse Initiative, the ACRI. This is an extraordinarily important thingthat's happening here, which we originally launched in 1996. And quite anumber of African countries have indicated their interest in it.
And even, actually, President Mandela, in the context of saying theremust be an African commander, which was always envisioned, for us toparticipate, that was actually a step forward because they had previouslysaid they would participate in the context of the southern African groupparticipating together. So I think that's number one.
Q Can I ask a question along those lines? Would President Mandelaallow his troops to be under American authority during training? Did youclarify that? Isn't that part of the problem?
MR. BERGER: Well, they aren't under our authority during training. Ifwe're doing training exercises here in Senegal, those folks aren't underour authority. We have military training with other militaries around theworld. It's sort of technical assistance. It doesn't change the chain ofcommand or authority. So that's one thing I think will be interesting.
Second of all, we're going to do the fourth of these round tables,which I think have been wonderful. We did the Rwanda one and we did theSouth Africa one and we did one today. Tomorrow we'll meet with a group ofNGO leaders from around the continent, people who are engaged indevelopment issues from various perspectives around the continent.
And then of course we will go on Thursday to Goree Island, and thePresident will talk about the trip.
Q I was reading an article today about people expressing concernthat the Socialist Party in Senegal is far too dominant and some of theminor parties are getting squeezed out, and there were questions about thehonesty of the elections in '96 and in '88.
MR. BERGER: I think by and large the international community hasdeemed the elections to have been fair. There may have been some problems.I think we're going to be meeting with some other leaders as well asPresident Diouf along the way.
Q Is the United States satisfied with the extent of multipartydemocracy in Senegal?
MR. BERGER: My understanding is it quite brisk and vigorous.
Q Have you heard from the government of France about this trip toAfrica in general and the trip to Senegal in particular?
MR. BERGER: The President wrote to President Chirac before he left,and he may call President Chirac before we get to Senegal.
Q He may?
MR. BERGER: Yes.
Q Has he gotten any impressions on how it's being received inFrance?
MR. BERGER: No, I haven't received anything on that. The presssecretary doesn't share that with me, his clips. But I think he will, ifthe call goes through, the President --
MR. MCCURRY: -- expressed appreciation for the American president'sinterest in African affairs, if I understand correctly.
Q Has the President talked to any other African leaders during thetrip?
MR. MCCURRY: Charles Taylor.
Q Any others since then?
MR. MCCURRY: The summit, the summit in Rwanda.
Q Sandy, how many nations are involved in the ACRI, and what isthat about?
MR. BERGER: As I began to talk about it, I knew I didn't know theanswer to that question.
MR. MCCURRY: We're going to have a fact sheet on the ACRI and also Ithink a fact sheet on the NGO.
MR. BERGER: I think this is either the second or third countrythat's gone through training. There are countries are in various stages.Some of them have said they want to participate. What they do is theydesignate their own units, who will then train in a way that could makethem interoperable.
MR. MCCURRY: Remind your colleagues that Joe Wilson and Susan Ricedid a whole review of the status of ACRI when we were in Kampela.
MR. BERGER: What is the purpose of it? The purpose of it is togive Africans an indigenous peacekeeping capacity. Africans have been -- alot of African countries have been huge participants in peacekeeping. TheBotswanan army is one of the best armies in the developing world, and othercountries. But they don't have something that can connect with each other.And this will take awhile, a few years, but hopefully they will than havethe capability to go in a Rwanda situation, a Liberia situation --
Q This would help avoid the sort of genocide that happened inRwanda; is that right?
MR. BERGER: It would be another resource that would be available.
Q What exactly will the President be viewing tomorrow?
MR. BERGER: He'll be viewing a training exercise. I don't knowexactly -- whether its just --
MR. MCCURRY: They've got some kind of exercise they're going to do.
MR. BERGER: It's actually -- I think it's an ongoing trainingexercise.
President and First Lady | Vice President and Mrs. Gore