THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
|For Immediate Release
||September 15, 1999
PRESS CONFERENCE OF PRESIDENT
AND NEW ZEALAND PRIME MINISTER SHIPLEY
Sign of the Takahe
Christchurch, New Zealand
3:30 P.M. (L)
PRIME MINISTER SHIPLEY: Ladies and gentlemen, I'm pleased
to report that we have held very successful talks this afternoon in
Christchurch. These talks have ranged over many issues, regional issues --
urgent regional issues -- international issues and, of course, bilateral
issues. I view them as extraordinarily satisfactory from New Zealand's point of
For me, President Clinton's visit to New Zealand has been
an opportunity for this region to make real progress on pressing international
issues. This afternoon, we were able to discuss the matter of East Timor, and I
was able to thank the President for his leadership while in this country in
helping to mobilize international support and opinion for restoring order and
relieving the humanitarian crisis that exists in Timor. The plight of the
displaced people in Timor has and is at the uppermost part of our minds at this
New Zealand is making urgent preparations to contribute our
defense force capability and personnel to the U.N. force in East Timor. We
appreciated the opportunity this afternoon to review the most recent
developments in New York, and the President was able to give us his most recent
I would also like to take this opportunity while we're here
to publicly say how much we appreciate the leadership role that Australia is
playing at this present time in evacuating the refugees from East Timor, and
also for providing such a major contribution to the U.N. force.
New Zealand's Navy and Air Force are already on hand,
working with the Australians. The New Zealand Cabinet will hold a special
meeting tomorrow afternoon to review the latest developments and also to
consider how and when we will deploy our troops to the area, if requested by
the U.N. I've also asked that Parliament be called together on Friday, so that
this important matter can be discussed.
In our discussions with the President we were able to
consider where our current position on defense force personnel and our defense
relationship was up to. I valued the opportunity for that discussion to take
place, and I believe that good progress has been made.
We reviewed the outlook for global trade. I think we felt
that there was a real satisfaction in the achievements that the APEC meeting
this week were able to make. There has been a clear sign that there is a
commitment from the APEC region to see the launch of a highly successful WTO
round and the Auckland challenge laid down the challenge to the rest of the
world to come to the talks in Seattle with something decisive and clear to put
on the table.
As you are aware, APEC represents half of the world's
population and half of the world's economy. New Zealand particularly values
free and open trade and we believe that strong markets are the most able way in
which we can deliver a social dividend to the people within our respective
Mr. President, we wish you well in the preparations for the
WTO round. It is a very important next step in achieving free and open trade
globally, and many people depend on success being achieved in these talks.
Finally, on the bilateral issue, I believe that the
relationship between the New Zealand government and the U.S. is in very good
heart. There are so many shared values which see us working together across
such areas of the environment, world trade, peacekeeping and, of course, the
promotion of human rights.
We also remain committed to working closely together on any
trade matters between us that have some difficulties, such as the safeguard
action on our lamb exports to the U.S. via the mechanism that's available to us
through the WTO. That is, of course, how good friends should work these things
through, and that is how it will remain in New Zealand.
Mr. President, it's been a real pleasure and a privilege to
have you in our country. Your own warmth has won the hearts of most New
Zealanders and we want to thank you for your leadership on policy issues that
have seen very effective steps forward this week on pressing international
issues of our time.
I now invite you to make some comments.
PRESIDENT CLINTON: Thank you, Prime Minister. Let me begin
by thanking you, your government and the people of New Zealand for the
wonderful welcome that I and my family and our entire delegation have received.
I also am very grateful for the tremendous leadership that you gave to the APEC
summit. It was quite a success and I think thanks in no small measure to your
As you mentioned, we have a lot of shared values and I
believe that the world is moving toward a consensus around freer and more open
trade, but coupled with policies that leave no one behind; that invest in the
education and health care and empowerment of people; that protect the economy
while growing the environment; that promote democracy and human rights.
As we see, however, in East Timor, there's one thing to say
that there is such consensus, and quite another to turn it into reality. We are
working together to address the urgent and difficult tasks there. The people
are still vulnerable to attack. Many have fled their homes; many are short of
food -- not only those who have left the country, but those who are displaced
within East Timor.
As all of you know, the Security Council is now moving on a
resolution that would provide a strong mandate for an effective international
security force. I expect it to be approved. Meanwhile, we continue to receive
reports of violence and intimidation, which Indonesia has a responsibility to
prevent. And also, Indonesia has a responsibility to allow relief organizations
access to the refugees now.
Now, we know that this international peacekeeping force
will face some stiff challenges. But we have affirmed together that we will
meet those challenges. With our support, the people of East Timor can have the
independence and the democracy they have voted for. By fostering stability
there, and in helping Indonesia to resume its progress in undergoing the
profound transitions at work there, we can make our whole community of nations
Let me say I'm very proud that the United States and New
Zealand will be standing together to defend freedom and human rights once
again. We will participate together in the force. As I told the Prime Minister
earlier, based on our experience elsewhere, I think it is quite important that
Australia, New Zealand, the United States and the other countries that will be
participating prepare through joint exercises that will help us to get ready to
do what has to be done together in East Timor.
On trade, in addition to what the Prime Minister has said
about APEC, which we have said over and over and over again, which is that
we're pleased with the agenda we embraced and we hope it will be embraced at
the WTO ministerial in Seattle, I also want to say that I'm very excited that
the whole world will soon benefit from the leadership of New Zealand's Mike
Moore at the WTO.
If we can keep pushing for freer and more open trade, if we
can make that embrace at the WTO ministerial, once again we will see in the
example of New Zealand how a small country can lead by the power of its
Again, Madam Prime Minister, thank you for your
hospitality, your leadership, and for all that your country is doing to build a
better world. Thank you.
PRIME MINISTER SHIPLEY: There are to be a couple of
questions either side, and we'll take them side by side.
Q Mr. President, could I just ask you, is there any
possibility of the United States allowing the resumption of military exercises
with New Zealand, given that were currently barred from those? And if not,
isn't that an anomaly when New Zealand works so closely with the United States
in areas such as Iraq and the Gulf and also in East Timor?
President Clinton: Well, I think we should do exercises in
the specific context of East Timor. That's what I just said. And we will do --
if I have anything to say about it, we will, along with the Australians and
others have joint exercises as part of our preparation for East Timor.
Q What about other military exercises?
PRESIDENT CLINTON: I would deal with them on a case by case
Q Mr. President, you spoke earlier today about Floyd being
one of the most serious hurricanes ever to threaten the United States. You've
been briefed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Can you tell us what
they've told you and what everybody can expect? And, sir, are you satisfied
that federal and state agencies have done everything possible in the way of
mobilizing personnel and equipment?
PRESIDENT CLINTON: Well, I think we've done everything we
know to do. Let me say, I just got off the phone with Dan Goldin, our NASA
Administrator, and we were going over all that has been done in the event Floyd
strikes Cape Canaveral. And as I'm sure you all know now, there are essentially
two problems that literally threaten our space program. One is that we have our
space shuttles in those big silos that are protected, and they're built to
withstand 125 miles an hour winds. Right now, Floyd is coming in at about 145
miles an hour. Even if they withstand, which I think there's a good chance they
will -- the other thing we had to worry about is the flooding -- we can get
several feet of floodwaters in the Cape Canaveral area. And the NASA people
have been working furiously to lift everything they can possibly lift as high
as they can possibly lift it.
As you know, a lot of individual citizens have been
boarding up their homes. There have been a lot of relocation, a lot of
evacuation. We have granted preemptive emergency declarations, which is
virtually unheard of. I think it was absolutely the right thing to do. The
Governors of Florida and Georgia were strongly for it; I think South Carolina
All I can tell you now, Terry, is I think we have to wait
and see what happens. We have taken every step that I am aware of we can take.
I had a long talk with the Vice President and James Lee Witt today; they're on
top of it.
The key will be, I think, when this storm hits -- and it
won't be long now -- where does it come in? Will it come in as far south as
Cape Canaveral and move up, or will it hit further north? How long will it
last? And we'll just have to keep working, and things may occur as it goes on.
But I think there's been a truly extraordinary effort to prepare for this by
state and local and national officials. We've worked together, we've done the
best we could.
Q Mr. President, in relation to East Timor, in order to
make sure this is not another Rwanda, how can we shortcut negotiations in New
York to make sure humanitarian aid gets to East Timor immediately?
PRESIDENT CLINTON: Well, let me say, I think we're moving
as fast as possible. And the Prime Minister and I talked -- we would like to
see the first contingent of troops there in a matter of a couple of days, as
soon as the resolution passes. And we think that will happen tomorrow, New York
You know, we know the Australians are ready to go. We can
be ready to go and we have airlift and we can bring in others who have made
their commitments. So I don't think you have to worry about it. Also -- I don't
mean there won't be more people killed and more terrible things happen, but
what happened in Rwanda was -- first there won't be another 100 days, and not
everybody has a machete. So there may be some terrible things happen, but we
are moving as fast as we can.
Now, the other thing I would say, though, to make the point
you made, it's not just a question of stopping the violence -- we've got to get
the NGOs and the others in there who can provide humanitarian relief to people
who are within the country. There are a lot of displaced persons who did not
leave East Timor. And we know it, we know what we have to do. All I can tell
you is we'll do the best we can.
Q Sir, you said that Indonesia had the responsibility to
prevent the systematic killing. What would you like to see them do and why
haven't they stepped up to the plate?
PRESIDENT CLINTON: Well, the why -- frankly, I don't think
we're going to know that for a while, until we get the people on the ground and
people begin to talk. You know, it's not clear whether some elements of the
military were encouraging what has happened or whether they felt they couldn't
stop it. It's not clear what the designs were. There are a lot of things about
that we don't know. A few days ago I stopped worrying about why and started
worrying about how to change it. So, I don't know.
What I would like them to do, now that they have asked the
United Nations to come in, is simply to stop the most egregious forms of
violence and let the NGOs in to provide humanitarian relief right now. Within
-- it may become a moot point within 72 to 96 hours. But in two or three days,
a lot of people could die. And they don't have to die if they work with us.
PRIME MINISTER SHIPLEY: From the New Zealand side.
Q Mr. President, we know that the United States are the
champions of free trade, and yet, recently tariffs were put on our lamb imports
to the United States. How do you equate one with the other? And can you give us
your views on P5?
PRESIDENT CLINTON: Yes. First, we are a champion of free
trade. During the recent Asian financial crisis, when we lost huge agricultural
and other markets, we kept our markets open and sustained the largest trade
deficits in our history, while we were running the largest budget surpluses in
our history -- two things which don't normally go together. I said in the
meeting that during this period we bought 10 times as much steel from Japan and
Russia as all of Europe did.
Now, I think you understand in the American system, we have
an International Trade Commission. People can bring complaints before it. The
Commission makes a ruling. They made a recommendation. After they made a
recommendation for some action in the case of the lamb, the Prime Minister
called me; I called her back. She expressed some -- obviously, the concerns of
New Zealand. I did as much as I could to take those into account, including
calling for a three rather than a four-year period of action, and saying that I
would review it in the middle of the time frame. So I believe what I did was
WTO-consistent, and I believe that what I did was appropriate, given the
recommendation I was made under our laws -- just like I think you have a
perfect right to appeal the decision. And if I were in your position, that's
exactly what I'd do.
Q And your view on P5?
PRESIDENT CLINTON: On P5, I think it's a very interesting
idea. I have asked the Prime Minister to give me 10 to 14 days to go home, talk
to all of our people about it, have a chance to think it through. I had hoped
to have a well-formulated position by the time I got here, but as you know, all
of us have been completely swamped by developments in East Timor, and we
honestly haven't had the time to work it through. So I told her I'd get back to
her in a couple of weeks, and I will.
PRIME MINISTER SHIPLEY: Can I just comment on the issue of
lamb, briefly, before the next question? Perhaps the last question needs to be
taken. We have fed the President as much fine New Zealand lamb as we could
possibly fit in. And -- (laughter) --
PRESIDENT CLINTON: And I've eaten it all. Not so much as a
scrap has escaped my attention. (Laughter.)
PRIME MINISTER SHIPLEY: This is an issue that New Zealand
felt keenly. The WTO is the right forum. We will pursue that actively. But it
does not spill over into what we view as not only a very valuable market for
New Zealand agricultural exports, but also a very warm relationship.
Q -- WTO, are the U.S.-China trade talks proving more
difficult than you had hoped? When and where will the next round of talks take
place? And are you disappointed that there hasn't been a breakthrough?
PRESIDENT CLINTON: Well, first of all, I think, on balance,
this has been quite a good week for the United States in Asia, in the Asia
Pacific region. I did have a good meeting with President Jiang; we talked about
things other than trade. One of our common interests, North Korea and avoiding
the missile launch, appears to be headed in the right direction. We had
progress in East Timor, and, with the Prime Minister's leadership, we made the
right commitments here at APEC. So I think this is good.
Now, on the Chinese-WTO talks, we have reengaged and each
side will now do whatever it thinks is right. You know, I don't totally control
the timetable there, but I'm neither optimistic, nor pessimistic about it. I am
satisfied that we have reengaged and we will do the best we can to just deal
with this on the merits. We only had one or two issues before us when we
couldn't quite get there in Washington. I still think it would be a better
thing for China and a better thing for the world if they were in the WTO, but
that is, of course, ultimately a decision that they have to make, not me. But
we're talking, we're working, and I feel good about it.
PRIME MINISTER SHIPLEY: Thank you very much.
END 3:50 P.M. (L)