Press Briefing by National Security Advisor Samuel Berger (9/5/00)
                              THE WHITE HOUSE

                       Office of the Press Secretary

Immediate Release          September 5, 2000

                              PRESS BRIEFING

                     The James S. Brady Briefing Room

11:00 A.M. EDT

     MR. CROWLEY:  Summer is over.  Terry is back at his seat.  Excellent.
Welcome to the James S. Brady Briefing Room at your media-friendly
Clinton-Gore White House, where seldom is heard a disparaging word,
particularly when the mike is open.  (Laughter.)
     We have a trip to New York City today for the Millennium Summit,
together with a series of bilateral meetings that the President will have.
Here to provide you details on the President's itinerary is our intrepid
National Security Advisor, Samuel R. Berger.

     MR. BERGER:  As you know, the President leaves for New York today.
Good morning.  (Laughter.)  We are in Colombia, aren't we?  This evening,
the President leaves for the summit, which will begin tomorrow; there was a
logic in that.  As you know, this is the largest gathering of heads of
state in the history of the world.  There will be some 160 heads of
government or heads of state gathered in New York for this summit.  It was
convened by the Secretary General several months ago.

     I think it's useful for our purposes to see this next three days in
three baskets.  There is a U.N. Millennium Summit agenda; there is work the
President will be doing on the Middle East Peace Process, and there are a
series of other bilaterals which I will talk about, each of which are
important and have their own agenda and purpose.

     The basic U.N. Millennium Summit agenda is to discuss the fundamental
challenges that the world faces as we enter this new millennium, from the
prevention of conflict within and among states, to the defense of human
rights, to the fight against poverty and disease, to the effort to promote
growth and to protect the environment.  And the summit will address both
the problems and the role the United Nations must play in helping to meet
those challenges.

     The basic question underlying the discussions over these three days
will be essentially how we reconcile, as an international community, the
growing need for global collective action with the still real inadequacies
of the United Nations as an instrument for collective action.  How do we
improve not only the collective sense of priorities, but, also, the
collective machinery for meeting those priorities.

     The challenges before the United Nations are getting bigger, not
smaller.  Building civil institutions in places such as -- from Kosovo to
East Timor, increasingly complex peacekeeping missions in Sierra Leone;
more planned in Ethiopia, Eritrea; growing challenges of promoting human
development and fighting infectious diseases, including the AIDS crisis,
which as you know, we have increasingly, over the last few years, made a
central element of our own foreign policy, but which ultimately will have
to be dealt with as global problems.

     At the same time, the U.N. is actually getting smaller, and it's
getting smaller because of the reforms that have been undertaken with our
encouragement, and with the leadership of the Secretary General, over the
last six years, which have resulted in a budget savings of about $100
million, and a U.N. staff cut of about 1,000 people in four years.

     These are critical, because the U.N. has to be effective, efficient,
responsive as an institution, rather than bureaucratic, slow, redundant;
but it is a process of reform, of reforming the institutions, while rising
to the challenge, is what I think is the underlying issue that will be
discussed over the next few days.

     We remain the largest contributor to the United Nations.  We pay $2.7
billion to the United Nations and its associated institutions.  We also
have a substantial amount of money that we continue to owe to the United
Nations, which has been tied by the Congress to certain reforms in the
institution and certain changes in the assessment scale, that we will be
addressing with leaders over the next several days.

     The need for the United Nations, in our judgment, is not diminished
from the time of its founders.  Its mission was, in many ways, obscured and
thwarted over 50 years of Cold War when issues were clouded by
confrontation.  We now have a new opportunity at the end of the Cold War,
with the end of the Cold War to realize the goal and objective and
aspiration of the founders of the United Nations.

     In order to do that, we have to fund the peacekeepers in the field, we
have to give them -- in the peacekeeping area alone, we need to give them
the training and equipment and organization that they need.  And for us to
do that, we need to have the support from our own Congress for us to meet
our obligations, because either we build this institution and share
burdens, or we leave problems unresolved, or we are looked to, to solve
them ourselves.  Our own judgment is that, more often than not, it is
better to operate collectively.

     Now, that's the U.N. piece of this, which I would describe as
emphasizing our engagement and the importance of it, stressing the
importance of reform and innovation and as describing the new mission of
the U.N., which goes from the revised and changing shape of peacekeeping to
the importance of fighting disease and poverty.

     The second piece of this is the time the President will spend in
bilaterals with leaders of the world.  Obviously, we can't meet with all
160 leaders.  We'll try to obviously see as many of them as we can at the
margins of these meetings.  But we have a number of meetings that are

     Just to go through the schedule here so you have a sense of the
sequence, tomorrow morning will begin with the President's speech to the
summit plenary, which will address the challenge of peacemaking and
improving the U.N.'s capacity.  The President then meets with President
Putin.  This is their third meeting in the last three months.  It will be
an opportunity to address a range of issues.

     I met yesterday in New York with President Putin's National Security
Advisor, Sergei Ivanov.  We talked about a range of issues that will be
discussed by the President, from regional issues -- North Korea and Korea,
the Balkans, the Middle East, Afghanistan, to nonproliferation issues, to
issues of strategic stability and cooperation on strategic defenses and
pursuing deeper arms reduction.  We will obviously also raise concerns we
have about press freedom issues and other related issues.

     Following that, there will be a lunch hosted by Secretary General
Annan, and then the President will begin a series of meetings on the Middle
East, starting with Prime Minister Barak, Chairman Arafat.

     In the weeks since Camp David, as you know, we've been engaged in
discussions with the parties in the region, including the President's
meeting with President Mubarak in Cairo last week.  Dennis Ross and others
have been in the region, and engaged in discussions with the parties, and I
think this is a week in which the President can take stock of where we are
in this process, whether there is the possibility here for progress beyond
where we were in Camp David.  I think that we're all quite conscious of the
fact that there is not an enormous amount of time left for the parties to
come together.

     Tomorrow evening, the President will also meet King Abdullah of
Jordan, and Crown Prince Abdullah of Saudi Arabia to talk about the peace
process.  Tomorrow night he will have a dinner, informal dinner of the
Progressive Governance, Third Way Group, and then on Thursday morning the
President will meet with South Korean Kim Dae-jung to continue our close
consultation on not only our bilateral issues, but now the pace and
direction of North-South issues, since the North-South summit in June.
This is a matter we have been engaged in since 1994 with the South Koreans.
I think there are interesting prospects that come from the meeting that was
held in June.  We hope to have missile talks, continue our missile talks
with the North Koreans sometime either at the end -- in this month or next.

     The President also will meet on Thursday with President Sezer the new
President of Turkey, who assumed office last May, making his first trip
ever to the United States.  He is a former President of the Turkish
Constitutional Court, strong proponent of democratic reform and rule of law
and we will be talking obviously about bilateral issues, we will be talking
about Turkish-E.U. issues, we will be talking about Turkish-Greek issues
and Aegean issues and Cyprus.  And the President then will see Prime
Minister Simitis later that evening at the Progressive Governance meeting.

     Now, on Thursday afternoon, we're back to U.N. business with -- I
don't know if it's the first-ever, but it's one of the only summits ever of
the United Nations Security Council.  And there the discussion will focus
on peacekeeping, in particular,
Africa -- peacekeeping in general, Africa in particular.  And then there
will be a summit of the P-5.  I don't believe that has ever taken place
before.  China, United States, Russia, France and the U.K.  And that
meeting will discuss U.N. reform.

     And then finally, on Friday, the President will meet with President
Jiang of China.  This is the first meeting since -- the first direct
meeting, although they've talked -- since the completion of the
negotiations of our WTO agreement.  And, of course, since the House passed
PNTR, which I think those developments are probably the most significant
developments in U.S.-China relations since normalization in 1978.  This is
an opportunity to talk about WTO accession, talk about regional issues such
as North Korea, talk about human rights, nonproliferation, U.N.
peacekeeping, and assessment reform for which China's support is essential.

     So it is a very busy three days, and I think the way to kind of
organize it in your own mind, at least the way I've organized it in my
mind, is to see these three baskets.  We have a U.N. agenda, a U.N.
Millennium Summit agenda, we have a Middle East agenda, we have a bilateral
agenda, Putin, Jiang, Kim, Sezer.  There may be one or two others that we
sneak in there somewhere.

     Q    Sandy, you said that it's time to take stock in the Middle East
and you're going to decide whether there's a possibility for progress,
where you've had Ross out there, and you've had a lot of conversations, the
president has.  What are the prospects?  Where do things stand?

     MR. BERGER:  Well, I think we'll know better after these meetings.
There has been a lot of discussion.  There has been things happening in a
number of different arenas.  The Egyptians have been active.  Chairman
Arafat has done a good deal of traveling, and met with European and Arab
and Asian leaders.  Prime Minister Barak has been assessing -- first of all
has had meetings with Mubarak and the Europeans and others.

     I think we now -- there are things that the leaders will say to the
President, that they won't say to any of the rest of us, so I think it's an
opportunity, a timely opportunity, as we enter the beginning of September,
I consider to be a very important month, to see whether there is a
possibility for forward momentum beyond Camp David, or whether these very
difficult decisions remain still where they were.

     Q    Is the onus on Chairman Arafat to show greater flexibility on the
issue of Jerusalem, to press this momentum forward towards a possible
convening of another summit?

     MR. BERGER:  I'm not going to, at this stage, place onuses, which is,
I think, an ungrammatic sentence.  The President will have very serious
conversations with Prime Minister Barak.  Prime Minister Barak obviously is
deeply committed to making this process work, if he can find an honorable,
principled compromise.

     I believe Chairman Arafat, I have always believed Chairman Arafat is
also interested in an agreement, but there are some very hard decisions
that need to be made, and he has to make them in a way that also, for him,
are things he can accept as a matter of principle, and he can sell as
matters of integrity.  So they're tough decisions.

     Q    If I could follow up.  From this very podium, the President said,
at the end of the summit, that Barak had been more flexible, had moved
farther than Arafat.  Is that still the administration position, and
doesn't that clearly leave it up to Arafat to move in a distance that he
had not at Camp David?

     MR. BERGER:  Well, what the President said from this podium obviously
reflected our view.  We've now had two months since Camp David.  And I
think that no one ever got anywhere in this process by looking backwards.
I think our obligation -- our responsibility is to understand where they
are and where they're prepared to go, and if they understand the stakes
that are involved here at this particular moment in history and we will do
everything we can to make sure that they do.

     Q    Sandy, without placing any onuses, what do you believe Arafat has
been hearing from the Arab world regarding further flexibility on
Jerusalem?  Do you believe that most Arab leaders have been telling him,
"Be more flexible," or are they saying, "Atta boy, Yasser, for holding

     MR. BERGER:  I don't want to speak for the Arab leaders, and I am sure
there is a range of views that he has heard.  I think that there would be
support for an agreement in the Arab world, but I think that these issues
are ones that are highly charged and emotional and difficult, and the
challenge is to find a solution in which both sides can say that this was a
win/win solution.  I believe there are such solutions.

     Whether -- there is going to be no agreement if one side is in a
position of saying, "they lost; we won."  That ain't going to work.  Only
if both sides are prepared to give some, to make principle compromises and
to reach something that says, what we stand to gain here is greater than
what we have to lose and the compromises are ones that stand on principle,
can we achieve this.  This is very, very, very difficult and I don't know
whether we can do this.  But I think conceptually, the ideas exist for
progress if there is the political will to do it.

     Q    At Camp David, both parties agreed to the importance of avoiding
unilateral steps, though neither pledged not to take unilateral steps.
Against that background, how important is September 13th right now?  And,
second, how does Barak avoid a situation, given all the leaders who are
going to be at the U.N. this week, how does he avoid a situation where he
is, in effect, negotiating with the entire Arab and Muslim world?

     MR. BERGER:  Well, first of all, September 13th is important and we
continue to hope that the parties will avoid unilateral actions which will
make a peace agreement impossible.  In terms of Prime Minister Barak, his
negotiating interlocutor here is Chairman Arafat.  He needs to have a
meeting of the minds with Chairman Arafat and I don't believe that -- let
me say I don't see that happening this week.  I think what I hope will
happen this week is that we see a distinct way forward.

     Q    Mr. Berger, if you are planning to sneak in General Musharraf of
Pakistan to meet with the President in New York?  And also, according to
the reports that General Musharraf cannot address the U.N. because at what
capacity can he address the U.N.?  He's not the president of Pakistan, he
is not prime minister, he is not ambassador and he is not foreign mission.
Pakistan today has a head of state, a president, they have a foreign
minister and they have an ambassador.

     MR. BERGER:  There is no current plan for a bilateral with Chief
Executive Musharraf.  Whether -- the President conceivably may see many of
these leaders in the to and fro of the days.  As to whether he speaks to
the plenary, that is a matter for the Secretary General.

     Q    What will be on the President's agenda when he meets with the
Saudi Crown Prince?

     MR. BERGER:  I think the peace process will be issue number one.  I
think that obviously the Saudis have an important perspective on this.  I'm
sure we'll talk about regional issues, such as Iraq, and our expectation
that now that there is a Security Council resolution and a UNMOVIC that is
becoming organized, that we should, Saddam either should allow them to get
on with their business, or that we should just accept the fact that
sanctions are going to be on for the indefinite future.

     I expect that as is usually the case, they will talk about the energy
situation, and mutual interest in a fair balance between production and
demand, that creates stability.

     Q    I know you just referenced this.  Can you again say the
likelihood that there could be a meeting between Arafat and Barak and the
President this week?

     MR. BERGER:  We have no plans for a trilateral meeting at this stage.
My understanding is that Chairman Arafat leaves to go back to meet with the
Palestinian Congress on Saturday for purposes of determining what happens
on September 13th, so there are constraints here to this thing continuing
indefinitely to roll into the weekend.

     This is a pretty tight schedule.  Over the next three days, the
President will basically be engaged in three enterprises at once.  The
schedule is extremely tight.  I haven't mentioned the reception he's giving
for all of the leaders, I think on Thursday night, the lunch that Kofi
Annan is giving.  There are certain built in events that are part of the
summit, so I certainly don't rule out anything as possible, but it's not

     Q    Sandy, are you feeling any better about the Mideast process now,
more optimistic now, then you were when Camp David broke up?

     MR. BERGER:  Well, I think I will be able to answer that question
better at the end of the week.  I would like to hear from Chairman Arafat
on his thinking on some of the really key issues.  He has been engaged with
a number of leaders.  He has met with Dennis on this and others.  But I
think it's important now what he's prepared to say to the President.  I
think it is very important for me to evaluate what Prime Minister Barak has
to say, both about how he sees this situation unfolding, what he sees the
time frame being.

     And I am not trying to duck the question.  I really think that by the
end of the week we will be in a better position to make that judgment.  I
don't think this is a make or break week.  But I think the fact is that
unless there is forward progress, unless we see a decisive way forward from
this week, I think it becomes increasingly difficult to imagine, in the
time frame that I see as realistic, particularly in terms of what is
happening in Israel, this gets more and more difficult.

     Q    What is that time frame?  End of October, or --

     MR. BERGER:  I don't want to speak for the Israelis.  The fact is that
the Knesset comes back, as you know, at the end of October.  At that point,
there will clearly be issues raised about the nature of the government and
whether there are elections.  There are Jewish holidays that begin, I
believe, around October 1st, the last day of September.  So the next month,
I think, is an important month in determining whether -- in seeing whether
a breakthrough is possible.

     Q    But next week is September 13th; how can you say it is not a make
or break week?

     MR. BERGER:  Well, it's an important week.

     Q    Mr. Berger, do you have any comments -- the ousted Prime Minister
of Fiji is blaming the U.S. Ambassador to Fiji for his hand in the Fiji
coup, because he says he is not an American national, but Pakistani

     MR. BERGER:  You know, Bruce Riedel, the Senior Director of the NSC
for this region, has been following this issue very well and can give a
much better answer than I can to that question.

     Q    Will the President meet with Mr. Khatami at any point during the
next few days?  And also, my second question was, you mentioned during the
speech tomorrow he will talk about the need for more peacekeeping
operations.  Can you give us any idea of what will be the thrust of the
solution that he seeks?

     MR. BERGER:  Well, it's not so much the need for more peacekeeping
operations; there are more peacekeeping operations. We've got Sierra Leone,
we have Ethiopia-Eritrea that is emerging.  We have East Timor.  We still
have important, if somewhat more stable, situations in Kosovo and Bosnia.
And the Congo looms out there as a very difficult but possible additional

     So the U.N. is being asked to do more and more in peacekeeping.  Now,
either we can say that we shouldn't be -- the U.N. shouldn't be engaged in
peacekeeping because it doesn't have the capacity to do what it's being
asked to do, or we can work to give it the capacity that it needs to do
what it's being asked to do.

     And I think this is really -- our focus is on both the obligations of
the international community with respect to peacemaking and, B -- I say
three things.  A, the obligations of the international community with
respect to peacekeeping; B, the need for us collectively to continue the
work that has been done by the Secretary General, which has now been
advanced very creatively by Mr. Berhimi in a report.  We don't necessarily
agree with every word in that report, but the general thrust of it is very
much in the right direction.  And, three, that unless we also are better
organized to deal with the explosive conditions of depravation in some of
the developing world, we're just going to see this situation get worse and

     If you look at -- and many of you were with us in Africa -- if you
look at what AIDS is doing to Africa, it is a prescription for tomorrow's
chaos.  So, either we deal with that problem now, as the United States has
been trying to lead the way in doing -- some countries with 30 percent
infectious rates, 40 percent of teachers, economies collapsing -- this is
not just a public health issue.  We're going to see countries literally
collapse unless we can get ahead of that.

     And so in all of these areas, we need, as we enter this 21st century,
this global -- increasingly globalized world, increasingly interdependent
world with technology and problems and opportunities cutting across
international borders.  We need a stronger U.N., not a weaker U.N.

     Thank you.

     Q    Khatami --

     MR. BERGER:  Khatami?  We have no plans to meet with President
Khatami.  Obviously, we'll be very interested to hear his remarks.  He's
speaking at a forum on dialogue among civilizations.  This is something
we've obviously been supportive of, and have been generally supportive of
the effort to -- freedom to the people of Iran.

     Thank you.

     Q    So it is really a three-minute speech?  (Laughter.)

                        END    11:00 A.M. EDT

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