PRESS BRIEFING BY
SECRETARY OF STATE MADELEINE ALBRIGHT ,
SECRETARY OF DEFENSE WILLIAM COHEN,
NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISOR SANDY BERGER,
AND PRESS SECRETARY MIKE MCCURRY
Hotel Miguel Angel
MR. MCCURRY: Good evening, ladies and gentlemen.
Q Hi, Mike. Welcome to Europe.
MR. MCCURRY: It's very nice to be here. Nice to catch up here. I notice history is made once I arrived, so I, of course, take some credit for that.
Q Don't spoil it.
MR. MCCURRY: The Secretary of State, the Secretary of Defense and the President's National Security Advisor are pleased to be with you. And we will proceed in that order. They'd like to tell you a little bit more about how this moment in history came together. We'll start with Secretary Albright.
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Thank you, Mike.
What I'd like to do is to give you a broad overview of what the NATO leaders achieved today, and then I'll turn the floor over to Secretary Cohen and Mr. Berger.
Today we have taken the largest step yet in the post Cold War transformation of the NATO Alliance, a process America has pursued for seven years and through two administrations. The area of the world where we can be confident freedom and security will endure just got a little bit larger. Today, we have invited that Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland to join the Alliance, and
we put into place a process that assures other nations will follow.
The package the leaders approved today is greater than the sum of its parts. I believe it meets the objectives of
every NATO member and every aspiring member. We have ensured that the first round of enlargement will make NATO stronger and more cohesive and that it will not be the last. By intensifying our dialogues with those nations that continue to seek membership, setting a date certain to review their progress, and making it clear that no European democracy will be excluded because of its place on the map, we have made sure that NATO's door will remain open.
Let me note in particular that those countries, especially France, that support five candidates for the first round deserve much of the credit for forging consensus on a strong open door policy.
The leaders also specifically recognized the progress that Romania, Slovenia and the Baltic states have made to advance democracy and cooperation in their regions. And they reaffirmed our commitment to help the nations of southeastern Europe achieve stability and integration with the transatlantic community.
No nation is more determined to achieve that goal than the United States. Our leadership for peace in Bosnia, our troops in the theatre and our efforts to defuse tensions in the Aegean are the concrete expressions of our commitment. Now NATO has agreed to proceed with enlargement in a way that gives every aspiring member, from the Black Sea to the Baltic, an incentive to deepen reform and contribute to regional stability.
As you all know, we reached agreement on these issues today after many weeks of intensive discussion. Because we take our commitments seriously, we do not extend them lightly. We all understand that NATO enlargement involves real costs and solemn pledges. We know that nothing worthwhile is ever easy. The leaders didn't arrive in Madrid agreed on everything. They will leave with their strongly-held convictions very much intact. But in the end, they did what they came here to do. The process is natural. It is how this Alliance works. And one of NATO's benefits is that it helps close allies transform contention into consensus. In fact, that is a major argument for extending its reach to the nations of Central Europe.
The leaders also issued a strong statement on Bosnia today. It includes a stern warning to those who are trying to undermine democratic principles in the Republic of Srpska: You must respect the legitimacy of the leaders your people elected, stop acts of intimidation, reform your police, and cooperate with the War Crimes Tribunal. Otherwise, we will isolate you, and the door to Europe and to normal life for your people will stay shut.
The journey to a peaceful Europe, undivided and free, has been long and difficult. But our duty as allies is to share responsibility for difficult decisions and to shoulder the burdens of leadership together. And that is what we have done
here in Madrid. And our work today has brought us one giant step closer to our destination.
And now Secretary Cohen.
SECRETARY COHEN: NATO is the world's most successful defense alliance. And today's action will make that alliance larger, it will make it stronger, more flexible.
During much of this century, Europe has been divided by conflict, and for the 21st century, we're building a Europe that's going to be united by cooperation. And that cooperation is being built upon the security and the stability that's provided by the NATO Alliance itself. It must sustain its military effectiveness as it enlarges.
All NATO countries make commitments to support a common defense of the Alliance, and the members, as Secretary Albright has just pointed out, must be producers as well as consumers. And so, soon, NATO is going to send a team of assessors to visit the first countries who have been invited to join. And these teams are going to design force improvement plans, set force goals, and then clarify the contributions that the new members are going to have to make in order to be a full-fledged member of NATO.
And the perspective members must do the following: They must continue defense reform programs, including the development of a professional NCO corps; must upgrade their training and operating procedures and adapt them to NATO standards; and improve their basic military support systems, such as logistics, air defense, command and control, and communications and infrastructure.
NATO expansion is not going to be without expense. Again, Secretary Albright just talked about things that are in our interest and not without cost. We estimate the cost is going to range from $27 billion to $35 billion over the next 13 years. New members will pay approximately one-third of that cost in modernizing their forces. Existing European members of NATO will pay about one-third to transform their forces from the Cold War defensive forces to more flexible, mobile forces as called for by NATO's 1991 Strategic Concept.
These modernization costs, both on the part of the new members and existing NATO members, would exist whether or not NATO were to expand. And the remaining one-third of this expansion bill is going to be to integrate these new countries into the existing command, intelligence, air traffic control, and other systems.
We estimate that the United States share will be approximately $150 million to $200 million per year for the next 10 years, and this is a modest price to pay for strengthening
Europe's security and that of the United States as well.
While working with the first group of new members, NATO is going to continue to prepare other countries for future membership and to improve the security cooperation with countries that want to participate in Europe's new security structure without joining NATO. And the key to these efforts is the enhanced Partnership for Peace program, through which NATO members and some 27 non-NATO countries are improving their ability to work together on peace enforcement and building on their cooperation in Bosnia.
The Euro Atlantic Partnership Council also is going to allow for richer security dialogue between NATO and non-NATO members. And tomorrow, NATO and the Ukraine are going to recognize their distinctive relationship in a new partnership charter. And then shortly after I leave from here, I'll be traveling to witness the end of a Partnership for Peace program that currently is underway in the Ukraine.
While moving to expand NATO itself, we are also taking some very important steps to allow the Alliance to respond to a range of security challenges. The United States strongly supports the European Security and Defense Identify, the so-called ESDI. And this allows the Europeans to address their concerns within the context of the transatlantic alliance, and today's alliance is the key to tomorrow's security on both sides of the Atlantic.
MR. BERGER: Thank you, Madeleine and Bill. Let me do two things, and then we'll open this up to your questions. Let me very briefly put today back into the context of the last two and a half years, and then give you a flavor for what actually transpired today in a brief way.
If you take out your passports, you can trace the evolution of NATO enlargement from its genesis in Brussels at the NATO Summit there in 1994 in January, where NATO in a sense began this process. And it's a process that had several dimensions. One, the process of expansion, enlargement. Two, the process of developing relationships with new members, Partnership for Peace was the first step along that way. And three, internal adaptation of NATO, creating a European security identify inside NATO and changing NATO rather fundamentally in terms of its command structure to be better able to deal with the new kinds of missions that NATO faces, such as Bosnia.
Since that time, the 16 nations of NATO have proceeded in a very careful and deliberate way to make that vision real. It's a rather remarkable process when you think of 16 nations with very different concerns, different perspective, different histories, to some degree different interests, rallying around a common concern of strengthening the most important alliance of the 20th century to meet the challenges of the 21st
If we fast-forward to Helsinki, I think we really have the second step here, the President's meeting with President Yeltsin, where the groundwork was laid ultimately for the Founding Act that was signed in Paris and which established that you could enlarge NATO and draw Russia into a partnership with NATO; that, in fact, NATO enlargement and the unification of Europe were not antagonistic objectives, but compatible objectives.
And then finally here in Madrid, where the basic steps have been taken with respect to enlargement, the steps to adopt the changes to the NATO command structure and to adopt the open-door policy with respect to the future.
Now, let me just talk briefly about how the day transpired. The meetings with the leaders really began last night with the dinner that President Aznar hosted. It was an informal dinner, it was not a working dinner. There obviously was some conversation at the dinner and in the environs about the issues that were to be discussed today.
This morning the first session began in a plenary session with the President and the Secretary plus nine additional people. It then rather quickly broke down into a restricted session of two-plus-two. And the first part of this discussion really was the question of who. And I think it emerged rather quickly -- after, perhaps, an hour or so -- that while there were some who believed that -- would have preferred five countries to be invited to enter into accession talks, there was a solid 16 consensus for the three.
And I think one of the remarkable things that happened so quickly and relatively cordially was the recognition that was consensus on three, we should do the three and then we should turn to the so-called open-door language, how we speak about the others and the future process. There was some discussion of that around the table. The foreign ministers -- especially our Secretary of State -- then were asked to go off and work on that language while the leaders were at lunch discussing Bosnia. They returned to the session, reported on the language, which you'll find in the communique which you either have or soon will have, with respect to the future process -- this will not be the end of the process, new members will be invited and this will be an ongoing process.
And the afternoon session also was addressed by Senator Roth in his capacity as head of the North Atlantic Alliance. There were, as I say, as Secretary Albright said, there were different viewpoints expressed. It was a very lively discussion. But at the end of the afternoon, about 4:30 p.m., Secretary General Solana pounded the gavel down for a consensus and was very warmly applauded by everybody that was at the table.
Q Including the French?
MR. BERGER: Including the French.
Q How strongly did President Chirac present his case? What can you tell us about that? Was there a stubbornness to it, was there any unpleasantness? How would you describe it?
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Well, I think that it's fair to say that he presented his case very clearly and strongly; but there was not, as you put it, a sense of stubbornness. I think, on the contrary, there was generally a sense that we were involved in an historic task and that there was consensus on three coming in, and that it was important to recognize the fact that Romania and Slovenia had made a great deal of progress and that that should be recognized.
But I would say, having attended many multilateral meetings in my service in government, that this was a meeting where there was lively discussion, but not acrimony. I think it was an attempt, and a very obviously successful one, to get people to take what will go down in history as the changing of NATO to suit the 21st century and recognize the fact that the Cold War is over.
Q Who was the enemy then? I mean, what is the security for and against?
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Well, we are dealing with a new NATO. And the new NATO is there in order to deal with the problems of instability, and those are the ones that we see as the major problems facing all of us as we enter the 21st century. And those are conflicts within societies and border conflicts.
And what we have seen already, Helen, is that the desire to be in NATO has, in fact, dealt with some of those conflicts very specifically -- ones between the Czechs and the Germans, and the Romanian and the Hungarians, and the Slovaks and the Hungarians. And there really has been this movement to try to develop the characteristics that would make a good NATO member.
Q I'm not trying to fight, but Secretary Cohen said it was most successful alliance in history. That's probably true because it existed. But it only used force once -- in Bosnia -- that's the only time it ever used force.
MR. BERGER: That sounds pretty successful to me.
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: That's successful.
MR. BERGER: I mean, in terms of the question about who's the enemy, I would remind you the two times that Americans
have come to Europe to fight wars they have come to fight wars that have begun by virtue of instability and turmoil in Europe. And so the extent to which we can extend stability to Eastern Europe the kind of stability that NATO and other institutions extended to Western Europe, it's a safer Europe and, therefore --
Q Can it keep them from fighting each other?
MR. BERGER: Well, how have the wars of the 20th century begun, Helen? They've begun -- at least the wars here -- by them fighting each other.
Q How did this decision, we'll enter presumably more vigorously into public mainstream debate -- how will you explain to Americans a commitment being made now to spill blood, essentially American blood, for the defense of Budapest and Warsaw, Prague, et cetera?
MR. BERGER: I think Americans -- let me ask either Secretary to add -- I think Americans understand, by virtue of the history of the 20th century, the direct relationship of our safety and security in the United States and peace and stability in Europe. There are an awful lot of veterans, sons and daughters of veterans, and grandsons and granddaughters of veterans of World War I who know quite personally that when Europe erupts in turmoil it can spread into a wider conflict which implicates the interests of the United States.
And what we hope to do through NATO enlargement is embrace the democracies of Eastern Europe, create a process which is centripetal in a sense, rather than centrifugal, that brings them together. And as Secretary Albright has said, the plethora of agreements that have been reached between Poland and Romania and Hungary and others, just in anticipation of joining NATO, suggests this strategy is working.
Q Secretary Albright, your reference to NATO addressing conflicts within societies, that's sort of internal disputes. Does that broaden -- put NATO in a more aggressive, active role than an alliance has been? I know about alliances trying to defend one country when attacked by another, but within a country? I don't understand.
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Well, I think that generally we are dealing with an issue of stability, and NATO is not going to address conflicts within societies, but try to -- for instance, if you deal with -- it's going to take me a minute to explain this, but the Romanian-Hungarian issue, for instance -- what you had was a conflict between the two countries because there are ethnic minorities of each in the other. So by them being able to deal with that problem between themselves, it makes it easier for them not to have conflicts within the societies -- if that makes sense.
Q This is not an opening to internal --
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: No, no. And I think I should have made that clear. But I think here, to go back -- the truth is that Americans have shed blood as a result of what happened in Prague or Warsaw, and this is a way to try to avoid that. And the most successful alliances of all are those that do not ultimately have to use force, because they are set up in a way that there is a sense of cohesion that allows there to be other methods of solving problems beyond using force.
Q Secretary Albright, could you talk a little bit more about the Bosnia statement? It seems to be rhetorically rather strong, but I don't see much of the "or else"? Where is the stick in this? What are you going to do if the Bosnian Serbs, or whoever, ignores your strong advice?
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: First of all, I think that what is very important about the statement that was made here is to support Dayton and the constitutional practices that have been set up as a result of that, and a leader, Mrs. Plavzic, who was elected and who was following out the processes. What it also states is that those who are undermining it will be isolated by the international community, economically, which is no small matter, given the fact that they would like to rejoin Europe in some form or another, and if they are isolated, that is a way of the "or else."
I think it's very important, again, that the Alliance made clear that fulfillment of Dayton in all its attributes is key, and that we are all united in making sure that Dayton in all its aspects are carried out. So what I think is essential here is, as we fulfill Dayton and we have our tasks set out, that when there are those who would object or oppose the way that it is done, they are facing a united NATO that makes very clear that they need to fulfill their obligations.
Q Madam Secretary, there are those who would say
Q What do you make of President Chirac's claim that the NATO --
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: I can't answer --
Q What do you make of President Chirac's claim that NATO cannot survive unless there is a shift in power more toward the Europeans? And how are you going to accommodate this? SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Well, first of all, I think that what we have done again here is to make clear that a new NATO is very germane to the situations that we're going to be dealing with in the 21st century. I think one of the questions here -- as people have asked, why have we done this -- just
imagine if we wouldn't have done this. Here, basically, there was an artificial line down the middle of Europe, and what has been possible here now is for NATO to have a role in a new Europe. So I think that's very important.
Also, within -- and if you read the communique carefully, there is very much of a sense of a European identity within NATO. And that is very much a part of the way that NATO is going to operate. I think Secretary Cohen might want to address that a little bit more.
SECRETARY COHEN: It's not only a question of NATO surviving and succeeding; NATO is succeeding very well. And by today's vote, it would seem to me that it has lent its endorsement to say it's going to be even invigorated by this. We're going to have a more successful and enlarged NATO.
When I was listening to the question of what will the American people say about having to put their lives on the line for Hungary, the Czech Republic, or Poland -- this is the 50th anniversary of George Marshall's plan, his vision for a united and free and undivided Europe. Stalin's slammed the Iron Curtain down on the fingers of those countries that wanted to be part of that 50 years ago.
And so the notion that somehow that we are not acting in our own self-interest, as Secretary Albright and Sandy Berger pointed out, we are acting in our self-interest by promoting more democracy, stability, and prosperity in Europe in which we serve.
With respect to the Europeans having more of a say in their own affairs, the ESDI is precisely designed to do that, is to give the Europeans greater opportunity and flexibility to call upon NATO assets to perform other types of missions. And so there is a shifting of some responsibility. But ultimately, every member of the NATO Alliance recognizes that the United States plays a very important role in European security and for the successful of NATO itself. So there is a recognition of this, and I would say that the sound endorsement of the enlargement process today is a verification of it.
Q Today, Senator Thompson, apparently citing --
Q Is President Chirac off the mark, sir? Is the French President off the mark, Mr. Secretary?
SECRETARY COHEN: I'm sorry.
Q Is the French President then just off the mark? Is he talking for internal consumption?
SECRETARY COHEN: I can't comment on what President Chirac had in mind. I think he made some very positive
contributions, let me say as a witness to this process. And I might say, for those who have been told that it was somehow contentious, it was one of the most civilized debates that I've witnessed in my years as a public servant.
MR. BERGER: Because you've been in the Senate.
SECRETARY COHEN: Well, that's -- in the House and the Senate. But it was a very civilized debate. And let me say that President Chirac I think made a very important contribution throughout in terms of the language that was ultimately drafted and in terms of his participation. And so, obviously, France has a role to play in the future and there will be more assumptions of responsibility as time unfolds.
MR. BERGER: Can I just add one thing to the question over here about -- I think, from when I've heard President Chirac make that comment, he is referring to the responsibility-sharing arrangements within Europe. He believes that there ought to a greater European role within the command structure of NATO, and therefore greater European responsibility for the defense of Europe. And that is something that we have supported -- President Clinton has supported very strongly from the beginning.
We have never been threatened or in any way disagreed with that proposition, and have been very active in the establishment of the European Security Identity, which gives Europe, in a sense, a call on NATO's assets through various structures on contingencies that they seek to use them for.
Q Today Senator Thompson, apparently citing information from U.S. intelligence sources, which would put it in your bailiwick, said that there was apparently a Chinese plan to influence the U.S. elections. Is that true?
MR. BERGER: First of all, we've all obviously been preoccupied with other matters today in terms of knowing exactly what Senator Thompson said.
I would simply say what we have said before. This is a matter that is under investigation; it's a law enforcement matter. I don't think it's appropriate for us to comment. We've said that if certain allegations were true, they would be serious -- we would have serious concerns. But these are allegations that are under investigation. I think that's as far as we can go.
Q Sandy, if I may follow up. I mean, he didn't really seem to indicate that these were under investigation. What he said, quoting him, is "the committee believes that high-level Chinese government officials crafted a plan to increase China's influence over the U.S. political process." And obviously if that were true, if that's what the intelligence
sources are telling the Republicans in the Senate, you would think -- and I presume that the Secretary of State and the National Security Advisor would, A, know about that and, B, be deeply concerned about that. So is that the case?
MR. BERGER: It is a matter under investigation by the FBI and other law enforcement organizations and it is not appropriate for me, for the Secretary of State or for the Secretary of Defense to comment on the facts of an ongoing law enforcement matter.
Q Let me ask one last thing, then. Has this ongoing law enforcement investigation at this point in any way changed U.S. policy toward China, or is it still status quo until it's over?
MR. BERGER: We have, as we've said before when the Secretary was in Beijing and other occasions, we've raised these issues with the Chinese at various levels, but we have a large and complex relationship with the Chinese. We have an important stake and interest in that relationship. And it is important that that relationship continue. This investigation will play itself out and we'll make judgments after there are results that come from the investigation.
Q Sandy, on another matter, was there a large-scale Russian military exercise -- you want to follow that?
Q Yes. The Senator also said that he thinks it's ongoing, that he thinks that this attempt to influence is still going on now. I mean, isn't that something that would justify you all having some concerns about it --
MR. BERGER: Well, again, these are statements that Senator Thompson has made. He'll have to explain his own statements and what he means by his own statements. I simply say what I said earlier: There are a range of allegations and while they are under investigation by competent law enforcement authorities I think we should neither -- we're not in a position to either reach a conclusion or to comment on them.
Q Are you satisfied that the Chinese are cooperating with us, sir?
Q Could you please comment on what exactly the lively debate was about, with regard to the open door and the second round. Did France want more specific language with regard to a NATO commitment now to admit Romania and Slovenia down the road? Did the United States want the language that we now see in the communique? Who wanted a reference to the Baltics, who did not want a reference to the Baltics, and what kind of a reference?
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Well, let me say that the most important issue in that discussion I think that became evident
was that there was a desire to keep the door open; that while there was agreement on the three coming in now, the discussion centered around the fact that it was important to keep the door open.
The issue really is one as to at what stage were we going to consider how other -- when other countries would be ready for admission. And I think that the subject of discussion was basically one about the level of commitment as to when the countries would, in fact, be admitted. And I think that what everybody agreed on was the importance of setting in place a process that would allow for a review to be accomplished constantly, but also to come and report to a ministerial in 1999. So the differences were basically over wording of how one arrived at that particular stage.
Q Secretary Albright, could I follow on that? The implication has been that France alone was in favor of immediate expansion to five. Was France alone on that question, or was that a more extensively held view?
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: No, I think that there were others who -- and we knew that before we came here, as I think did you -- is that there are a number of countries that were interested in expanding it beyond the three. But there were different reasons by different countries, and different countries mentioned as potential candidates. And then there were many other countries that also believed that only three should be admitted. And, initially, there were even some countries who weren't sure about that open door aspect of it.
So I think that what we saw as a result of what was, I thought, an excellent discussion, was what develops out of this, a consensus position of three being admitted, of a review process being put into place for a report by -- or in 1999 on the admissability of others which would take into account their progress towards the goals that we have all described as making good NATO members.
Q Some of the senators who are reluctant to support this expansion say it's on the grounds that what some of these countries need are economic and political help, that entering a military structure like NATO is not cost effective, it's the wrong approach. Isn't there some validity to that?
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Well, I think I am not going to deny that it would also be very good for the countries to have economic -- to be part of an economic system. And we have been talking about the enlargement of the EU -- we do not have a role to play in that.
But they need both. And the countries that we have taken in and the ones that are those that the door is open to
also believe, as do we, that there is a benefit to being part of a military/political alliance that does, in fact, take away what happened at the end of the second world war, where arbitrarily there was a line dividing Europe, and that what is important is to erase that line and create a Europe in which there is a sense of unity in the military and political fields.
Q Then how do you convince those senators the United States won't be paying more than what you called it's fair share of the costs of expansion?
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: I think that the way that is going to happen is obviously we need to spend time -- we all do -- talking about the value of NATO to us, the value of NATO to us expanding because it provides the stability that we've all talked about is important in Europe -- and I won't repeat all the arguments that we've made there. Plus, as the costs are assessed, they will be done on a basis of a fair assessment of it, and the countries themselves, the new countries, are going to bear a share of the cost. And for them, it is important because they would also be having to pay to defend themselves if they were not part of an alliance. So I think it's a complete win-win situation.
SECRETARY COHEN: If I could just add one footnote to Secretary Albright's statement -- I think everyone recognizes that alliances do save money, that these countries who are being admitted and those who wish to gain admission in the future would have to expend significant resources for their own separate defensive needs.
One of the benefits of joining in NATO is that we're going to send these assessment teams out to try to rationalize their needs so they don't get engaged in trying to spend their money on unnecessary weapons systems or things that would not be interoperable with the NATO system. So, ultimately, it's going to be very cost-effective. It will not divert needed resources from their economic reforms. They'll have economic reforms, but this will be a much more rationalized way of helping them to spend their money for the right things to make them a fully integrated nation with NATO.
Q Madam Secretary, I wonder if we could just have one more -- you said that isolation -- you seem to feel that isolation is the answer to bringing the parties to the Dayton Accords into line, and yet there are those who would say that they've been isolated for quite some time -- Mladic and Karadzic -- and it hasn't worked at all. Is the United States and our other major allies willing to send troops in to arrest these war criminals in the final analysis?
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Let me just say here that complying with Dayton also has a part in it about turning over war criminals. That is the duty of the parties to Dayton, and we
continue to press on that. We are also doing what we can to strengthen the War Crimes Tribunal because that is the appropriate body to deal with the war criminals. And we -- I stopped in the Hague in my last trip to Europe in order to make that point. And we're working very closely with the War Crimes Tribunal.
I think the point here is that Karadzic and Mladic --- there is no statute of limitations on their crimes, and their day will come. And what is important is for Dayton to be implemented fully, and that includes the responsibility of the parties to turn the war criminals over. And it is important to strengthen the War Crimes Tribunal in its work to do that.
SECRETARY COHEN: I agree with what Secretary Albright has said. Q Mike, are you going to brief?
MR. MCCURRY: I don't know -- the schedule for this evening apparently just calls for toasts at the dinner. If there is anything to pass on, we will do that with the pool. We don't anticipate any further briefings here this evening.
Q Do you think the President would voluntary go to the Hill to testify on campaign fundraising?
MR. MCCURRY: I think that was responded to by the White House yesterday. I don't have anything to add to what they said.
Q What was it?
MR. MCCURRY: We just said that -- there was a statement from Mr. Davis consistent with separation of powers; we will continue to cooperate with the work of the committee -- something to that effect.
Q Did President Clinton invite Tony Blair to his room last night for an extended discussion? And, if so, why wasn't the pool informed of this discussion?
MR. MCCURRY: The pool should have been informed, but, to my knowledge, he did it spontaneously at the end of the dinner last night and people were not alerted to that fact. They agreed that they would get together, have a brief discussion. They did. It reflected some of the business of -- done today here by NATO, and then they also had an opportunity to talk a little bit about Northern Ireland.
Q And how long was the meeting?
MR. MCCURRY: I don't -- 90 minutes long. Had we have known, we would have briefed it in one fashion or another.
Here at the hotel, correct? They brought -- in his room. He invited -- at the conclusion of the dinner invited Prime Minister Blair to come back and presumably had a refreshment too, I would imagine. And Mrs. Clinton was there as well.
Q Mike, how is the President being apprised of what's going on in the Senate hearings?
MR. MCCURRY: I gave him about a 10-second update prior to the embassy event. That, to my knowledge, is all that he's had just because I thought in case he got a question on it, which he did, I just wanted him to know what had happened.
Q Mike, did Clinton have a bilat with Chirac as well sometime today?
MR. MCCURRY: He did. We've got -- is Steinberg back there? We can do a little more on it. They had it -- they talked very little. It was about 4:30 p.m. They met, I think, for roughly half an hour and reviewed things other than the subjects that they had talked about most of today. They did not spend a great deal of time on the question of NATO expansion. They did review other subjects that both of them have a keen interest in -- the Middle East peace process. They talked apparently a little bit about Nagorno-Karabakh -- some of the work we're doing through the Minsk Group.
Steinberg, were you in that bilat with Chirac? I did Nagorno-Karabakh, the Middle East peace process, not a lot of time on NATO. Anything else you want to -- it was very warm, very productive, very friendly meeting, as you would expect between two close allies, two close friends.
MR. STEINBERG: And he wasn't even there, but I was, and it was warm, friendly, and the kind of close bilateral you would expect among two close allies.
MR. MCCURRY: Do you want to do any more?
MR. STEINBERG: Let me just do one more minute. Most of the discussion was about the Middle East peace process. They both, obviously, have a great interest in it and agreed that it was important to coordinate their efforts and to try to inject some momentum into the peace process. They talked about the joint efforts with Russia on trying to bring peace to Nagorno-Karabakh and the very positive degree of cooperation that the three chairs of the Minsk process now are developing now between Russia, France and the United States. Chirac noted the historical closeness that France had had with Armenia and the
opportunity to try to move forward on that now and what he saw as some new flexibility among the parties there which gave us an opportunity to go forward.
They had a brief conversation about moving forward on the Chernobyl agreement that was reached in Denver and trying to get -- complete the work on finally closing Chernobyl and moving forward with alternative sources of energy. They had a very brief discussion on the question of the European role in NATO and an agreement that they both would like to continue their discussions about France's further integration into the military command and I think that was about it.
Q Did Chirac overrule his Foreign Minister on the communique?
MR. STEINBERG: No. The communique was -- the actual drafting session, as I think you heard, was largely done by the foreign ministers. That was brought to the heads. There were some minor adjustments -- and I mean genuinely minor adjustments -- that were made by the heads, but there was no significant difference, and I was in both rooms.
MR. MCCURRY: The foreign ministers actually got to do the work that is usually assigned to lesser staff, and some of them professed to have actually enjoyed having done so.
Q A question on the fundraising. Was the White House notified in 1996, as Thompson suggested, by the FBI of this China plan, and do you know what happened --
MR. MCCURRY: I don't have anything to add. We have thoroughly briefed both about that briefing in June of 1996 and said what we can say on the substance of that long ago. That's been thoroughly reviewed for all of you.
Q What did the President mean when he said they were so bad. Can you explain that?
MR. MCCURRY: It was a friendly and light-hearted comment.
Q What did he say?
MR. MCCURRY: Because they were probably mugging for the cameras. Okay.
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