THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT
AND GERMAN CHANCELLOR GERHARD SCHROEDER
8:38 P.M. CET
CHANCELLOR SCHROEDER: Ladies and gentlemen, Germany and Berlin have very much been looking forward to this visit of President Clinton. We are very pleased, indeed, that we've got him here as a guest tonight.
In this discussion that we have had and which has actually taken quite a bit longer than I suppose most of you expected, we haven't addressed all topics, but certainly all of the important ones. And we shall continue our conversations in the course of this evening.
We have specifically talked about the situation in Russia, where we both agreed that the United States of America, as well as Germany, have a very strong, vested interest in seeing a very balanced relationship with Russia and a partnership with Russia, too, for which it is important to provide economic and political stability for Russia, which will also help President Putin.
Mr. President then proceeded to, in a very frank way, present his views on the national missile defense program and I had then gone in and stated my concerns; the concerns being that we have to be very careful that any such project does not re-trigger the process of a renewed arms race.
We then also addressed the question of custody in cases where marriages between -- international marriages between Germans and U.S. citizens have gone through divorces. In some of those cases we have to say tragic circumstances and tragic situations have arisen, and we are both very much in agreement that help is very much needed in this field. We certainly were very agreed upon the fact, though, that court rulings and court decisions have to be respected and accepted where taken.
But we have said that the best way to go about this will be to put together a U.S.-German group of experts, a working group of experts who could get together and, firstly, see through all of the cases still pending and/or on the table; and they could also think about organizational and institutional consequences to be taken to, above all, speed up those proceedings, make them quicker and to also go in and provide pragmatic help for specific cases affected.
PRESIDENT CLINTON: First, let me thank Chancellor Schroeder for making me feel welcome again in Germany, and Berlin. I am delighted to be here and I have enjoyed this visit. And I'm looking forward our dinner tonight and the Conference on Progressive Governance, beginning tomorrow; and, of course, my trip to Aachen in the morning.
The Chancellor has faithfully reported on our lengthy conversation. We spent virtually all of our time discussing Russia, the question of missile defense and the really heartrending child custody cases that he mentioned.
I would like to also, though, publicly thank the Chancellor for the leadership of Germany in the cause of European unity and in our efforts to bring peace and freedom and human rights to the Balkans, something that is very important to the United States.
Let me say to all of you that the relationship the United States has with Germany has been profoundly important for the last 50 years. But I think it may well be even more important for the next 50. And I intend to do whatever I can in the time I have left as President to make sure this relationship is on solid ground for the new century.
I am particularly grateful that a number of our citizens will be participating in Expo 2000 here, in the American Voices program, having conversations with the German people directly. And I thank Commissioner Rollnick and the others who are responsible for that.
Finally, just one word on a development back in the United States today. I was very pleased with the decision of the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in the Elian Gonzalez case, upholding the decision of the Justice Department that he should be with his father. We have tried to honor the principles that the Chancellor and I discussed today in the cases involving our two countries in that case. I think the Justice Department and the Attorney General did the right thing, and I'm very pleased that the 11th Circuit upheld their decision today.
Thank you very much.
END 8:47 P.M. CET
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