News

May 14, 1998

[EXCERPTS] PRESS BRIEFING BY DEPUTY NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISOR JAMES STEINBERG

5:51 P.M. (L)





                               THE WHITE HOUSE

                        Office of the Press Secretary
                             (Eisenbach, Germany)
______________________________________________________________
For Immediate Release                                     May 14, 1998     

		
                              PRESS BRIEFING BY 
               DEPUTY NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISOR JAMES STEINBERG
		
		
                             Thuringer Hof Hotel
                              Eisenbach, Germany    			       
      


5:51 P.M. (L)
		


.............


Q: How troubling are the signs of Pakistan maybe on the verge of
exploding a nuclear device?


STEINBERG: Well, as I think you all know, we have strongly urged
Pakistan not to follow in the steps of India. We think it is in the
interest of both Pakistan and the world not to explode a nuclear
device. We think that it would contribute to the further
destablization of the region and could harm Pakistan's own security.
The President has made that point to Prime Minister Sharif. The group
of officials that are headed to Pakistan will make similar points and
we very much hope that they will take that course.


Q: Do you see troubling signs that indicate they may be under a lot of
pressure to go ahead and do it?


STEINBERG: Certainly there's clearly a lot of pressure domestically on
the government of Pakistan with respect to this. They're obviously
concerned about the fact that the Indian government has gone forward,
and the people of Pakistan have indicated their concerns about what
that means for the security of Pakistan itself. I'm not going to
comment specifically on the kinds of evidence that's available to us,
but we are especially concerned to make clear to the government of
Pakistan that we think that that would be the wrong way to go.


Q: Is the U.S. government offering to take other steps that would help
Pakistan feel secure? For instance, releasing those private jets that
Pakistan has long wanted to buy?


STEINBERG: Well, as I think you know, for some time, back to when
Prime Minister Bhutto was Prime Minister of Pakistan and visited the
United States, the President has made clear that he thinks it would be
appropriate for the United States to help compensate Pakistan for the
fact that we are unable to deliver the F-16s, that there's a kind of
obligation, given the fact that the Pakistanis actually paid for them
that some form of compensation be arranged. We have been working in a
number of ways to try to achieve that, including trying to find other
buyers for the planes. And we obviously are going to continue to
pursue that because we think that's the right thing to do.


Q: So we would reimburse them for the planes, not actually let them
have the planes?


STEINBERG: We have no plans other than the ones that I've discussed,
which is to find some way to compensate them for that.


Q: No plans to try and move some way -- further away from the Pressler
Amendment?


STEINBERG: We certainly have not discussed any steps of that sort. I
think our focus right now is in trying to make clear to the government
of Pakistan our view and hope to persuade them that it should be their
view that their security would be harmed rather than advantaged by
moving forward. If an arms race were entered into and further steps
were taken, there's obviously a danger of further steps on both sides,
contributing to greater instability in the region. And so we think
that in terms of the strong international support that Pakistan would
gain from the international community by deferring, that that by
itself would help to strengthen Pakistan's own position.


Q: Do you take the view that it is still possible to persuade Pakistan
not to do its own test? And how do you assess the prospects of that?
And what more can this two-person delegation do than the President did
himself in a phone call with the Prime Minister?


STEINBERG: I don't want to predict what the outcome of this will be.
This is a decision the government of Pakistan will make. There will be
a lot of factors, I'm sure, that go into its decision. But we are
certainly determined to make every effort that we can to persuade them
that this is not a desirable course to pursue.


And I think that one of the reasons why we thought it would be useful
to have a group go out there -- and the Pakistani government seemed to
agree to that -- was that we can have more in-depth discussions about
the overall situation, to talk about why we believe it would not be in
Pakistan's interest to go down that road.


General Zinni, in particular, has had good longstanding contacts with
members of the military, so that he is able to discuss the military
dimensions of the security situation in South Asia. Secretary Talbott
has been deeply engaged in his own right with the foreign policy team
in the Pakistani government. So there are personal relationships there
that could help build on it.


Obviously, it's difficult in a phone call to be able to get into the
same kind of depth. There is also the chance to talk to other
professionals, senior advisors to the Prime Minister, I think is an
important opportunity, and we clearly wanted to take advantage of any
opportunity that we can to have as detailed discussions as they think
would be helpful so we could really work our way through these
questions.


Q: How long do you expect them to stay, and who all are they going to
meet?


STEINBERG: I do not precisely who they're going to meet, though I
would expect it would be both senior foreign ministry and military
officials -- both the Ministry of Defense and the army. Our
expectation is that they would be returning on Saturday. We're
expecting Secretary Talbott to join the President's party in Moscow --
in London on Sunday in connection with the bilateral with President
Yeltsin.


Q:  Will they meet the --



STEINBERG: I can't say for sure. I certainly think that that's one of
the options.


Q: Jim, if they're not prepared to push for an adjustment of the
Pressler Amendment, are they likely to offer other inducements that
you feel would bolster Pakistan's security?


STEINBERG: Obviously, we want to hear the Pakistani government out. If
they have specific ideas, we're obviously going to listen to them. But
what I'm saying is that we don't have any specific things that we're
going to propose at this time.


Q: Have you seen any signs, troubling or otherwise, from China, re
position of their forces?


STEINBERG: What we have seen from China is a very strong statement
condemning the decision of India. We have been in touch at high levels
with the Chinese government. I think you know that the Secretary of
State spoke with the Foreign Minister -- I believe it was yesterday --
I'm losing track of days here -- but in connection with this. There
have also been good discussions at the U.N. with their permanent
representative there.


I think that there is -- we obviously would not like to see anybody
take any actions in response to the Indian situation that would
exacerbate it, but I'm at least personally not aware of any specific
actions of the Chinese that would be of concern.


Q: On the G-8, to what degree has the Indian issue changed the
dynamics of what's going to be discussed there? Is there going to be
an effort to either have India included in the communique or some sort
of separate statement? What do you think will be in there?


STEINBERG: Well, I think it's fair to say that if you had asked a week
were they going to have a discussion of India, it's less likely that
that would have been true. But the whole purpose of having this sort
of unscheduled opportunity on the Friday evening dinner is the
experience with G-8s is that it's not uncommon that there are
important foreign policy developments that happen on the eve. I think
many of you veterans of this will recall, for example, just before the
Halifax Summit that the situation deteriorated very badly in Bosnia in
connection with Srebrenica, and there was a very important discussion
of Bosnia at that time.


I can't predict as to whether there is going to be a statement because
it's really the leaders themselves who have to decide that. Even for
us sherpas, it's not a decision that we can make. I think that they
will discuss the situation. They will have the option of doing
something, but certainly no decision has been made at this point with
respect to whether a statement will be issued on this or any other
topic.


Q: Doesn't the U.S. want a statement from the other nations, from the
eight?


STEINBERG: I think what we've seen is -- I believe it's the case that
all eight of the governments have spoken very clearly on this issue,
and we want all governments to continue to do it. Whether they decide
that the appropriate vehicle to do that is a statement coming out of
the meeting, or whatever, I just can't predict because it's really a
choice that they will have to make.


But I think that what we have made clear, and I think we're pleased
with the fact that all these governments have spoken very clearly to
this issue. There is no support for what India has done, India is
quite isolated, and the language has been very clear and unequivocal
from all the members of the G-8 about the fact that they strongly
disagree with what India has done, and it's clearly going to have an
impact on India's relations with these countries.


.................


Q: Jim, Pakistani officials have been quoted as saying that they're
looking to the G-8 for a strong statement of condemnation of India.
Given what you said a few moments ago, is that an unrealistic
expectation? Should they not be looking for that?


STEINBERG: I've learned a long time ago, David, that the purpose of
having leaders meet in this format is for them to decide how they want
to proceed. And I think that clearly you have all the eight -- all of
the eight governments have spoken very clearly to this issue. Whether
they will speak to this issue through a statement at the G-8, or
whether they may find another forum, I just don't want to try to
anticipate at this point. But I think that there is no doubt,
absolutely no ambiguity for these eight governments how they feel. And
I'm sure that they will discuss how they best think that they can
pursue their shared view, which is to see an end to testing.


These are all countries that are signatories to the CTB. All you very
strong views on this question. And I think they will -- the leaders
themselves will decide what the best way is to show that common front.


Q: How is the President monitoring the situation in India and
Pakistan?


STEINBERG: The President has the virtue of being accompanied here by
his distinguished National Security Advisor, who is talking to him
regularly. We're obviously in close touch with the situations in those
countries through our embassies there and our folks back in
Washington. The President was briefed this morning in some detail by
the National Security Advisor, Sandy Berger, on the full range of
these situations: India-Pakistan, Indonesia, the Middle East peace
process.


..............

Q: What do you make of the Moscow newspaper report that Russian
military officials feel India will detonate several more blasts,
despite their claim that their testing is done, that they will have to
detonate three or four more blasts in order to complete their program?


STEINBERG: As you know, the Indians have claimed that this is the end
of the series. But whether there are other series, whether they have
other intentions is not something that I'm prepared to speculate on.
It's obviously something we're going to watch closely. Given the lack
of forthcomingness of the Indian government in response to earlier
inquiries from the beginning of the time that the Vajpayee government
came into power, I don't think we would necessarily take what they've
had to say as the gospel on that.


..............


Q: Are there any specific U.S. troop obligations to Pakistan if
Pakistan were to be attacked by a third party?


STEINBERG: We do not have explicit treaty guarantees. I want to be
careful about this because there are all kinds of arcanities of
international law, but I think by virtue of the fact that Pakistan is
not a member of the NPT, that there is not a negative security
guarantee. But I don't want to -- this should not be taken -- you need
to ask the people who keep the bible on these things.


................


Q: Is it true, as reported in the Post, that there were satellite
images ahead of time that could have tipped us off to this and they
weren't properly analyzed? And if so, does the President know about
this, and has he spoken to the Director of the Central Intelligence
about that?


STEINBERG: It will probably surprise you greatly that I don't intend
to comment on intelligence matters. As you know, the President and the
Director have talked, and the President is fully supportive of the
Director's review that he's undertaking of these matters and the
President continues to have full confidence in Director Tenet.


Q: When does the President expect to have the report from Director
Tenet?


STEINBERG:  I defer to Mike.  I wasn't sure.  Mike says 10 days.



MCCURRY: Thank you. He said, Mark, that when Director Tenet announced
Admiral Jeremiah's review, he said they would shoot to complete it
within 10 days. I don't know how fast a deadline that was.



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(end transcript)