Press Briefing by National Security Advisor Sandy Berger and National Economic Advisor Gene Sperling on the Vietnam Trip (11 /09/00)
                              THE WHITE HOUSE

                       Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release                 November 9, 2000

                             PRESS BRIEFING BY

                           The James S. Brady Briefing Room

11:06 A.M. EST

          MR. CROWLEY:  Good morning.  I think, given the news of the day,
this briefing clearly comes under the category you would describe as "in
other news."  But listen, today's the kind of day that the American people
and the people around the world are asking the same questions, and we're
not here to answer those questions.  But, actually, as we go through this
trip, I look forward to hearing you explain to your international press
colleagues about the vagaries of exit polling data in that semi-autonomous
region called Florida.  (Laughter.)

          But to business.  We have a very important, historic trip coming
up for the President next week, to Brunei and to Vietnam, with a brief stop
in Hawaii.  And here --

          Q    --

          MR. CROWLEY:  Want to see you declare asylum when we get there.

          Here to talk about the President's agenda and his activities, we
have the National Security Advisor, Samuel R. Berger, and the National
Economic Advisor, Gene Sperling.  We'll start off with Mr. Berger.

          MR. BERGER:  It's always nice to follow the warm-up act of PJ
Crowley, who will be appearing in the Catskills next week.  (Laughter.)

          Good morning.  I know that our upcoming trip to Asia is uppermost
on your minds this morning.  But even with the extraordinary events going
on here, I think this will be a fascinating and in some ways historic trip.

          As you know, the President leaves on Sunday for his final APEC
Summit -- Asian Pacific Economic Cooperation Summit -- in Brunei, which
will be held on Wednesday and Thursday.  And from there, he will be the
first President to ever travel to a unified Vietnam.

          Gene will speak to you about APEC and the issues that will be
discussed there.  Let me just add that while in Brunei, the President will
also meet separately with several of his fellow leaders.

          On Wednesday, he will meet with President Putin.  This will be
the fourth meeting they've had this year.  They will continue their
discussion of nonproliferation, regional security issues, strategic
stability, and especially increased cooperation to reduce the risk of
accidental missile launches.  We'll have a chance to raise our continuing
interest in democratic development in Russia, independent media, rule of
law, as well of the case of Edmund Pope.

          Later that day the President will meet with Kim Dae Jung,
President of South Korea.  In that meeting, and on Thursday with Prime
Minister Mori of Japan, they'll talk, obviously, in both those meetings
about bilateral issues, but I'm sure they will discuss at some length the
efforts to reduce tensions on the Korean Peninsula, which are inherently of
interest to Japan, South Korea, the United States, China, as well as,
obviously, North Korea.

          Finally, on Thursday afternoon the President will meet with
Chinese President Jiang.  This will likely be their last meeting.  That
discussion will focus also on Korea, on cross-strait relations, on
non-proliferation and human rights, as well as China's accession to the
WTO.  We will stress our continued expectation that both the PRC and Taiwan
will enter the WTO as soon as possible.

          After the APEC meeting, on Thursday evening, the President will
leave for Vietnam, and begin his official schedule there on Friday.  Let me
say a few words about the visit, and then I'll go over the schedule.

          This visit is a culmination of a process that the President began
with Vietnam eight years ago.  The cutting-edge of that process from the
very beginning has been and remains today achieving the fullest possible
accounting of our POW-MIAs.  We have moved forward at each step of the way,
from ending the trade embargo to normalization to the various stages in the
evolution of this process, as we have made progress on that central issue
that has been on our agenda, and in a way that honors those who fought and
suffered during the war and that does right by the missing and their

          We have done so with the constant involvement and support of
veterans, of families, of members of Congress, especially Senator John
Kerry, Senator Bob Kerrey, John McCain, Chuck Robb, and former Congressman
Pete Peterson, now our Ambassador to Vietnam, all of whom were driving
forces in this process over the last eight years, and deserve a great deal
of credit for the evolution of the relationship.

          We've made tremendous progress in this area in repatriating
remains, in resolving last-known-alive cases, in conducting joint field
exercise with the Vietnamese.  The Vietnamese have turned over thousands of
documents over the past several years.  We have not finished this job.
There remain roughly 2,000 unaccounted for.  And this will be an ongoing
subject of the discussions the President has there and an ongoing element
of our relationship, as we encourage the Vietnamese to continue the
cooperation that we've received.

          But Vietnam should be seen not only as a war, but as a country.
We are not closing a chapter here, we're opening a new chapter in the
relationship.  And this is an opportunity, as well, to focus on the future.
We want the Vietnamese people to see that America supports their economic
development, while encouraging those in Vietnam who have been willing to
risk opening the country, both economically and politically.  And in the
process, we want to build a fully normal relationship that benefits the
American people and the Vietnamese people.

          Central to these efforts is the U.S.-Vietnam trade agreement,
which was signed this year, in which both of our countries now must ratify
and implement.  The debate in Vietnam about signing the agreement was very
much like the debate in China over joining the WTO, and it captures well
the central dilemma Vietnam is facing -- whether to maintain a command and
control system and shut out the world, or build prosperity by loosening
controls and joining the world.  That's a choice Vietnam is making, but the
President can and will encourage it to continue its reforms, strengthen its
respect for human rights and for religious freedom.

          In terms of the itinerary, very briefly, the President will begin
the visit Friday with a meeting with the Vietnamese President, President
Luong, and the Prime Minister, Prime Minister Khai.  That afternoon, he
will describe our vision for the future of our relationship in a speech to
university students at Hanoi National University, the generation born after
Vietnam's wars.

          Indeed, it is interesting to realize and recognize that more than
half of the people in Vietnam were born after the end of the Vietnam War.
It may also be true of the United States; I'm not sure, in terms of the
demographics.  Probably close to being true.  More than half of the people
of the United States are certainly younger than I am; that's for sure.

          On Saturday morning, the President will visit an MIA excavation
site at a village outside of Hanoi.  This is a spot on a hillside rice
paddy where we know an American plane went down during the war, and where
work has been underway for about two weeks now to find the remains.  The
President will observe the operation work and speak with the people who are
undertaking it, acknowledging the efforts of our servicemen and women on
the scene, and the remarkable support we've received from ordinary

          There have been 62 of these joint field exercises since 1988, and
41 since 1993.  During the period since 1993, 283 sets of remains have been

          That afternoon he will tour an exhibit back in Hanoi on land mine
awareness.  About 2,000 Vietnamese are killed or injured every year by
mines and unexploded ordnance, and we are providing assistance for demining
education and rehabilitation.  He will also meet that afternoon with Party
General Chairman Le Kha Phieu, one of the three top Vietnamese officials.

          Finally, on Saturday evening, the President will participate in a
ceremony marking the repatriation of the remains of several American
servicemen as they are sent to Hawaii for identification.

          On Saturday evening we will travel to Ho Chi Minh City in the
south, a dynamic city where incomes are higher than the national average,
foreign investment is concentrated.  He'll have a roundtable discussion
there with young Vietnamese active in everything from business to
journalism to NGOs.  And he'll also visit a container terminal on the
Saigon River, a modern facility that Vietnam has established to ship both
to and from the country.  He'll speak there about the benefits of trade and
investment, and the importance of creating a climate in Vietnam in which
both Vietnamese and foreign enterprise can thrive.

          With that, let me turn this over to the Gene, to talk more about
the part of the trip that will be devoted to APEC.

          MR. SPERLING:  In terms of this not being the hot issue of the
day, those of you who have been around for a while know I was the guy who
got to brief directly after Mike McCurry did his briefing on Dick Morris
and the Star magazine.  So this is really not that bad.  (Laughter.)

          Q     That was a good briefing, too.

          MR. SPERLING:  Yes, thank you.  It was on the welfare-to-work tax
credit, for those of you who remember the details of the Star report more
-- the Star magazine report.  (Laughter.)

          As I think many of you know, APEC started in 1989, but the actual
notion of the leaders, themselves, the heads of states participating really
was at the initiation of President Clinton in 1993, at Blake Island.  So
the President comes today to -- will come to APEC and Brunei, making his
final APEC meeting in a forum, a leaders forum in which he initiated back
in '93.

          Since then, we feel that it has been a positive forum for the
process of liberalization -- global liberalization -- and overall economic
liberalization.  In 1994, in Indonesia, the Bogor goals were set with the
goal of this region having free trade and liberalized trade among the
developed countries by 2010, and among the developing countries by 2020.
That goal has continued to inform the work that's been done through
individual action plans, through work with the business communities.

          As we go into this right now, we certainly go into much stronger
and more stable Asian economies.  Two years ago, when they met in Malaysia,
they faced a year where Indonesia had lost -13 percent growth, Korea had
been -7 percent growth.  You look at dramatic turnarounds in most of these
countries where now they are looking at their second year of positive

          But many issues remain and there is much debate that goes on
about what the future should hold.  As we go into this APEC, the President
will be very much focusing on reinforcing the benefits of an open global
economy, both for the recovery that's been since the Asian financial
crisis, and that the better economic news should not be a cause for
complacency in terms of structural liberalization.

          The morning session at APEC will focus on globalization and the
new economy.  One of the issues that will be looked at is certainly taking
these principles towards more of the e-commerce issues, and when one looks
at what it means to create an environment for e-commerce, it is broader
than just the goals that may seem as directly applicable to the Internet.

          For example, any international e-commerce is premised on the
notion that you can deliver goods easily.  E-commerce would be meaningless
in the United States if you did not have a system through FedEx, through
UPS, et cetera, through the mail, of delivering.  If there is not cargo, if
there is not airline liberalization, then e-commerce between different
countries will be meaningless in areas where actual goods have to be
transported.  So that will be one of the areas that will be looked at.

          We will be, obviously, seeking to continue our view that there
should be a moratorium on custom duties over the Internet.  The President
will also focus, as he has in Okinawa, on the digital divide.  What's more
interesting in APEC, in a sense, as opposed to the G-8, is that in G-8, all
of the countries were on one side of the digital divide.  APEC includes a
very diverse group of countries.  Indeed, there is one Australian study
coming out that says that when you look at half of the countries in APEC in
the year 2005, half of them, the average number of people connected to the
Internet will be 3.8; in the other half, it will be 72 percent.  So when
you talk about a growing global digital divide, it is a very real
phenomenon, and whatever can be done to stop that -- that is not uniform.
Korea, right now, has 30 percent to the Internet and is expected to be at
72 percent themselves.  Singapore has very high rates.  So one of the
focuses will be on not just having action plans, individual action plans,
but electronic commerce individual action plans for the countries.

          We will also be focusing on issues in terms of the environment
for e-commerce, things like software piracy.  The rates of piracy in
software in these countries is extremely high -- 80 percent to 90 percent
at times.  Yet, without confidence that software can happen and be produced
and sold without these rates of piracy, these countries will be denying
themselves the foreign direct investment and high-wage jobs that we are now
experiencing so much in our own country.

          The President will also, to the best degree possible, continue to
push his development agenda on AIDS and basic education.  The afternoon
session will focus on the WTO and regional trade agreements.  And clearly,
part of that will be a carry-over on the electronic commerce issues that
we've talked about.

          Our basic goal, the WTO principles of liberalization, should
apply to all e-commerce issues as they would apply to all areas of trade.
But there also will probably be interesting discussions about the prospects
for launching a new WTO round, and what the relationship is between the
regional trade agreements and the multilateral liberalization, and how they
can be harmonized, and whether those kind of regional trade agreements are
building blocks for a more multilateral open trade system, or whether
they're obstacles, and what are the standards and principles that we should
look for.

          Clearly, APEC has been a forerunner of trade liberalization -- on
the Information Technology Agreement of 1996, the agreement by APEC to
support that was seen very much as a launch.  In 1999, at Auckland, we came
together in a similar agreement for launching the new WTO round.  Well,
obviously that did not prove to have the force to overcome the obstacles at
Seattle.  Nonetheless, the agreement on eliminating agriculture export
subsidies and other areas were certainly helpful in forming consensus in
many of those areas.

          The President, in terms of Vietnam, Sandy told you about one of
the events he is doing at the container site, which is a computerized
container site.  And then he'll also be speaking at the end of a
U.S.-Vietnam commercial forum, which is certainly the most significant
U.S.-Vietnamese commercial forum that has been held since the war there,
and includes significant participation from our businesses.

          As the President talks and discusses things with Vietnamese
officials and to the Vietnamese people, certainly we will talk about the
bilateral trade agreement.  It's important.  We also are having productive
conversations in areas from labor to science technology with them.  We're
hoping to have more progress on some of those areas by the time we're

          But clearly, Vietnam, as Sandy said, has important choices to
make.  Because Vietnam cut themselves off more from the world economy,
their fall was not as great during the Asian financial crisis.  They saw
their growth go from perhaps 9 percent to 3 percent.  But the downside of
cutting themselves off from globalization, from showing that they are a
place for foreign direct investment, is hurting them right now.  They have
rebounded far less than the other countries, because there is significant
doubts remaining about their ability to reform from their state-owned
enterprises, very much the types of questions that we talked about with

          The state-owned enterprises have significant losses, bad loans,
take up significant amounts of capital that could be available to
entrepreneurs in Vietnam who could be creating growth and adding value and
being part of trade.  Our hope is that these conversations and that the
bilateral trade agreement will be part of a process in moving them forward
and in strengthening our relations with Vietnam.

          Q    The U.S. election is unsettled.  Americans are in doubt
about what's going to happen.  There's probably going to be some legal
challenges to the election outcome.  What were the President's thoughts
about going ahead with this trip?  Did he ever give any thought to not
going, to staying here to be a settling force?

          MR. BERGER:  No.  I think the business of the presidency goes on,
the business of America goes on.  APEC is an annual meeting.  As Gene
indicated, it is a forum that he established back in 1993.  It has been a
very useful forum for the United States.  It would be, I think, a loss to
the United States if the President of the United States were not present
there with the leaders of all the rest of Asia.  And we can conduct
business 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 360 degrees around the world.

          Q    Sandy, what are the prospects for some progress on the
Middle East in the meeting today between the President and Mr. Arafat,
especially in light of a senior member of Fatah was killed yesterday by the
Israelis, and what effect that might have on the prospects of getting
something going here?

          MR. BERGER:  Well, I expect that the President, in his meeting
with Chairman Arafat early this afternoon and then again with Prime
Minister Barak on Sunday, will focus very much on what's happening on the
ground and how to break the cycle of violence which continues, the steps
that must be taken to try to bring this down to a reduced level and
eventually to bring the situation to calm.  So that will be a very
important part of what the President talks to Chairman Arafat about.

          They will also be talking about how to resume a political
process.  This is something that both Chairman Arafat and Prime Minister
Barak spoke to the President about in Sharm el-Sheikh several weeks ago
when we met there with President Mubarak.  They basically not only
undertook certain measures with respect to things that needed to be done on
the ground to control the violence, but also to a process of discussing how
to return to a political process.  And that's what the President will be

          Q    The Palestinians have talked about having some sort of U.N.
peacekeeping force, supervisory force.  The Israelis do not seem eager to
do that.  The United States does not seem eager to do that.  Is that still
the United States' position?  And why would there be opposition to doing
something like this?

          MR. BERGER:  Well, something like this can only be done with the
consent of both the parties.  That is, in this case both the Palestinians
and the Israelis.  At this point, the Israelis are not prepared to
entertain the idea.  So, in our judgment, it is -- to spend too much time
on it right now just simply diverts us then from bringing the violence
under control and resuming a political process.  It can't be done unless
both parties want it done.

          Q    Is there a reaction to the Israeli helicopter rocket attack
today that apparently killed two Palestinians, including one elderly woman?

          MR. BERGER:  I don't have specific details about the situation
that you've described.  I'm aware of it, but, of course, I don't have all
the facts and, therefore, can't comment on it specifically.  Let me just
say, violence breeds violence, and we must find a way to break this cycle.
And it is important for people on both sides to do all they can to try to
achieve that.

          Q    Do you expect the President to continue periodic meetings
with Barak and Arafat right through the end of his presidency, and could
this issue be occupying a significant amount of his time right through?  Or
do you see any kind of, you know, a pause or a break that the President
will impose on this whole process?

          MR. BERGER:  I think that depends on the parties.  This is --
only they can set the direction and the content and the pace of these
talks.  We've convened them here because, at Sharm el-Sheikh, they both
indicated they wanted to explore whether and how to get back to a political
process.  Where we go from here, obviously, we'll have to evaluate after
these meetings.

          Q    If I could just follow up on the APEC question, I didn't
hear you rule out a cancellation and I just wanted to know -- I mean, the
President does have a history of --

          MR. BERGER:  There are no plans to cancel.  Pack your bags.

          Q    Sandy, can you tell us how the President views going to
Vietnam in light of his own background as an opponent to the war in Vietnam
and as one who went to some lengths to avoid military service during the
Vietnam War?

          MR. BERGER:  The President over the last eight years has carried
out a policy for the United States which I think has had broad support both
bipartisan and from those who previously -- who served and fought in
Vietnam, for those that didn't, those that supported it.  That policy has
been based upon, first and foremost, being true to the families and trying
to gain the maximum possible cooperation from the Vietnamese in answering
their questions.

          I think the fact that we've achieved that -- that is, there is
full cooperation now from the Vietnamese -- has laid the basis then for
proceeding to normalize the relationship, which we did in 1995.  Again, I
think this has been a policy, as I indicated earlier, that's had the
support -- and in fact, not only the support, it's really been very much a
collective enterprise led by the President, but joined by people like John
Kerry and Bob Kerrey, John McCain, Pete Peterson and others who served with
great distinction in Vietnam.

          I think their feeling has been that while we cannot forget
history, while we cannot -- we must continue to be true to those who fought
and true to the families of those who remain missing, and that needs to
continue to be a central element of our policy going forward, that it's now
25 years since the war ended and it's appropriate that we build a new
relationship with Vietnam.

          Q    Are any of those members of the Senate going along with the

          MR. BERGER:  I believe it's possible that one or more may.  I
don't want to single -- I don't know for sure.  I think it's possible one
or more may.

          Q    You said earlier that this is not -- this trip will not
close a chapter, but open a new one.  But do you think his visit will help
heal whatever breach is left between the veterans and --

          MR. BERGER:  I think that process actually has been going on for
some time.  Secretary of Veterans Affairs Hershel Gober, who served as our
emissary, in a sense, to Vietnam, led perhaps seven or eight delegations to
Vietnam -- maybe six to eight delegations to Vietnam -- over the period of
1993 to 1996-97, always with veterans groups, always with family groups.
As we have pressed the Vietnamese to help to work with us on excavations,
to turn over now 28,000 documents and other archival material, to
participate in assisting us in repatriation, all of that has been done very
much with the participation of the veterans organizations.  And I think
most of the veterans organizations supported normalization of relations
with Vietnam, and believe that one can look to the future without
forgetting the past.

          Q    Can we turn to the Mideast just one moment?  Has the
President lowered his sights in terms of goals now?  Would he like his
legacy to be to help establish what you referred to as calm, so that when
he leaves the White House, his successor, whoever that may be, can then
proceed with serious progress toward a long-term peace --

          MR. BERGER:  I don't think -- legacies will be written by
historians.  The President is interested in what he can do over the
remaining 11 weeks I guess of his presidency to try to reduce the violence
in the Middle East and to resume a political process.  A great deal has
been accomplished over the last eight years in the Middle East.  We have
peace with Jordan.  I think issues between the Palestinians and the
Israelis have been raised, discussed, and in many ways defined in ways that
they never have been before.

          The Middle East has been a rocky road for 50 years.  It's been a
rocky road for many centuries.  We've had periods of war followed by
periods of -- spurts of peace activity.  We're now in a very difficult
cycle, in terms of -- part of the cycle, in terms of this violence.  But I
think the President is focused very much on what he can do in the next few
months to try to reduce the violence and to resume a political process.

          Q    He no longer has the hopes that he did at Camp David this
summer, does he?

          MR. BERGER:  It's up to the parties to define what they want to
achieve.  They will determine whether some kind of negotiated agreement is
something that is within the realm of what they want to do, or not.  We
will fully explore with them what their objectives are, and how we can help
them achieve those, consistent with ending the violence and promoting

          Q    What does the White House hope to accomplish from the
business communities' participation in Vietnam?  Do you want some specific
deals to be signed, or are you trying to lay the groundwork for a legal or
regulatory reforms?

          MR. SPERLING:  There is some discussion on a couple transactions.
I do not know if they'll happen.  But I think that with the bilateral trade
agreement, there is a chance for there to be better commercial relations.
It's obviously all of our philosophy, as we often discussed in China, that
that is not only good economically for both countries, but we think it has
also more positive effects.

          So I think we also are looking at also things in terms of
education exchanges as well.  But I think that the bilateral trade
agreement is a major step and it shows their commitment.  I think people
will be looking very carefully now at their implementation and ratification
of that.

          But again, foreign direct investment has been fairly weak in
Vietnam in the last couple of years.  And what is probably disappointing
for them is it was stronger in '96 and '97.  In other words, there was
greater prospects for Vietnamese -- for investment in Vietnam.  People have
higher hopes.  There is a tremendous work ethic there.  But now, people
have become -- business has become a little more disappointed at the pace
of reform.  There are some improvements now.  The IMF has pointed to some.
The bilateral trade agreement is a positive sign.

          I think the number of business people coming over shows that
perhaps there is a greater prospect for investment there.  But, as we
always say, the ball is in their court.  We can help bring people there.
They ultimately have to impress them that this is a place they can invest
and make a good return on their equity.

          Q    Can you talk about the President's sort of personal
feelings, making history as the first President to go to a unified Vietnam
and also in light of some of the positions he took 25 years ago?  And also,
if you can tell us just a little bit more about his visits to the
excavation site and the repatriation ceremony.  What does he hope to
achieve by participating in both of those events?

          MR. BERGER:  I think in terms of the latter question, this has
been a -- both these enterprises -- they're related -- have been a very big
part of what we've tried to do together with the Vietnamese.  That is, to
engage in joint excavation to locate remains now with DNA testing.  These
remains go back to Hawaii and there is quite a sophisticated process for
actually then being able to identify individuals, which obviously is
tremendously important in terms of the families involved.

          So I think he wants to see that for himself and also to have the
American people see what we are doing together with the Vietnamese there.
I think that in terms of the President's feelings about this, I think that
he -- I think he's proud of what we have accomplished in a very deliberate,
step-by-step process towards Vietnam over the last eight years.

          We've had a clear loadstar, a clear first priority here along the
way, and that is accountability or accounting for our people.  We have made
very good progress.  We now have full cooperation, and it's time now -- we
now have moved to a bilateral investment treaty which begins to set the
contours, as Gene said, of an economic relationship and define the dynamic
of Vietnamese economic reform.  So I think the American people generally
should feel that this is an important transition that has been done with
great fidelity to the values of the United States.

          Q    Customarily, where there is a new administration coming in,
there are briefings as such -- classified briefings to help the transition
team to get on board.  I understand we're in a sort of awkward moment here.
Can you say anything about what preparations or provisions you've made to
begin briefing the next administration -- is that underway?

          MR. BERGER:  When there is an official president-elect, we will
reach out, as has been done in every transition, in terms of intelligence
and other briefings.

          Q    On the Brunei trip, is it true that the President will try
to stay on a Navy ship outside Brunei, rather than designated hotel,
because of the $30,000 a night price tag is too expensive?

          MR. SPERLING:  Excellent question.  I'm fascinated by it.  You've
stumped me.  (Laughter.)  I'm going to pay attention much more at our
scheduling meetings from now on, though.  I'll have someone, Stephanie
Streett or somebody to talk -- I just don't know.

          Q    Do you expect to take a decision on whale hunting by the
13th of November before the talks with Prime Minister Mori?

          MR. SPERLING:  I can't comment on the timing.  I think it is
likely to be an issue the President will raise, though.

          Q    Sandy, what are the chances this is going to be the
President's last overseas trip?

          MR. BERGER:  You know the President.  There are no -- no
decisions have been made on other trips, but I wouldn't rule it out.

          Q    Ha.

          Q    I'd just like to follow up on Kelly's question for a second.
Do you think --

          MR. BERGER:  I don't like your "ha."  Wait a minute.  (Laughter.)
Let me recalibrate here.  I wasn't trying to hint anything --

          MR. CROWLEY:  There may be a wager going on here.

          MR. BERGER:  -- I was just trying to not be called a liar later.
We've made no decisions on any other trips, but there are 11 weeks to go
and --

          Q    Can you verify that?  (Laughter.)

          MR. BERGER:  -- places to see and people to visit and countries

          Q    Do you think the trip represents the personal closing of a
chapter for the President?

          MR. BERGER:  I would much rather see it in terms of the country.
I think that this is, I think, as I said earlier, an important milestone on
a journey that the United States has taken which, in fairness, began in the
'80s, accelerated in the last eight years, which has transitioned, in a
sense, from the past to the future, but I think done so, as I said before,
with great fidelity to America's values and to those who fought and served.

          Q    Will the uncertainly over who the next president will be
have any impact on these Mideast talks -- only because Arafat and Barak
don't know who the President's successor is going to be, and does it make
things just harder to gel in any way?

          MR. BERGER:  Well, we haven't had the meetings yet, so I can't
answer for sure.  I don't think so.  Obviously, the President is in the
final few months of his presidency.  That is something that the parties are
aware of.  On the other hand, they certainly know that this is a President
who has a deep commitment to the Middle East, to peace in the Middle East,
who knows and understands the issues extremely well, and is a resource and
asset to the process.

          Now, that I don't believe will drive the timetable.  Their
timetable will be driven by their own considerations.  But obviously the
President is prepared to be whatever help he can be over this period.

          Q    If I could follow up on your talk about '96 and '97, is
there any possibility of an extension of the '97 debt relief that Secretary
Rubin did with Vietnam?

          MR. SPERLING:  I don't think that's been a topic that's been on
the table or has even been requested.

          Q    Regarding future travel, the North Korean trip was something
that was discussed as an add-on to this trip.  Do you now rule out a North
Korean trip during this presidency?

          MR. BERGER:  We're not going to North Korea as part of this trip
-- I will tell you that.  No, that decision has not been made.  I think the
President will make that decision over the next period, based upon his
judgment as to whether such a visit would advance America's national
interest, would contribute to security on the Peninsula, and whether
something of value could be accomplished.  He's not made that decision yet.

                           END        11:45 A.M. EST

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