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17 May 1998

TRANSCRIPT: CLINTON HOPES PAKISTAN REFRAINS FROM NUCLEAR TESTING

(Describes meeting with Yeltsin as "very, very good") (1950)



Birmingham -- President Clinton says Pakistan's "standing in the world
would be dramatically increased if they walked away from" a nuclear
test.


"I'm hoping that Pakistan will find the strength necessary to walk
away" from testing, he said in remarks to reporters May 17 following a
45-minute morning bilateral meeting with Russia's President Boris
Yeltsin.


Clinton said he still had hopes that Pakistan's prime minister and the
Pakistani government "will not go through with a nuclear test" in
response to India's recent tests.


Clinton described his conversations with Yeltsin as "a very, very good
meeting."


He said Yeltsin assured him that "he was doing his best to ratify the
START II Treaty in the Russian Duma." Clinton said the two leaders
agreed that they wanted to immediately begin work on START III as soon
as ratification is secured in the Duma.


Following is the transcript of the President's remarks:



(begin transcript)



THE WHITE HOUSE



Office of the Press Secretary

(Birmingham, England)



REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT TO THE POOL



Outside of Hyatt Hotel

Birmingham, England



THE PRESIDENT: Let me just say a couple of things, and then I know you
have some questions and I'll try to answer a few of them.


First of all, I want to commend Prime Minister Blair and all of his
team for putting on what I thought was one of our best G-8 meetings.
This shows the benefit of these meetings, not just for dealing with
the issues that are in the news now -- Indonesia, India, Pakistan and
other issues that are presently in the news -- but also dealing with
the long-term challenges we face. We did some serious work here on
employment issues, on environmental issues, on crime issues, on
dealing with conversion of computers in all of our countries at the
turn of the century and what kind of challenges will be presented by
that and how we can work together on them. It was a very stimulating,
interesting meeting that will actually have an impact on the lives of
the people that we all represent. So I thought it was quite good, and
I felt good about that.


Secondly, I just had a very, very good meeting with President Yeltsin
in which, once again, he assured me that he was doing his best to
ratify the START II Treaty in the Duma. And we agreed that we wanted
to immediately begin work on START III as soon as the ratification is
secured there. I think all of us, because of the India nuclear tests,
feel an even greater sense of urgency to change the debate again over
nuclear issues toward less, not more; to change the whole direction
here. And I think if we can get early Duma ratification we know pretty
well where we are on a lot of these big START III issues and we'd like
to really get after it and turn this, the nuclear tide, back in the
right direction -- away from more weapons toward fewer ones. So I was
quite encouraged by that.


We still have some areas where we're working with them hard to get
greater results and cooperation, especially in the whole area of
technology transfer to Iran -- and all of you know about that. And we
went over that in some significant detail and I think reached some
understandings which will bear fruit in the days ahead, so I'm hopeful
of that.


Anyway, it was a good meeting. He was in very, very good form, excited
about his new government, proud of them; and seemed to be in as good a
health and good a spirits as I've seen him in quite a long time.


So, questions?



Q: Mr. President, Pakistan's Foreign Minister told Reuters that he was
very close to certain his country would conduct a nuclear test. He
told the Associated Press it's not a matter of if, but when. Sir, what
does this do to regional stability? And could this have been avoided
had, for example, Russia and France joined the U.S. in sanctions
against India?


THE PRESIDENT: Well, first of all, based on our best information, it
hasn't happened yet. I also saw the Foreign Minister on television
last night making substantially the same statement, but I understand
it's still being debating in the Cabinet.


I understand also that they're under a lot of pressure. You can only
imagine what the pressures might be. But I will say this -- I still
have hopes that the Prime Minister and the Pakistani government will
not go through with a nuclear test. And I believe that we can, the
rest of us who would support that can work with them in a way that
meets their security interests without the test.


Furthermore, I think that over the long run, and indeed before then,
the political, the economic, and the security interests of Pakistan
and Pakistan's standing in the world would be dramatically increased
if they walked away from a test. The whole rest of the world would
think they were stronger and would be profoundly impressed, and I
think it would help us to resolve these issues more if they did not.
So I hope they will not. And if they do, we'll cross that bridge when
we come to it.


Now, do I think that the result would be different if everyone had as
hard a line on this as we do? I can't really say that. I think if you
go back and look at the statement we've put out here, this is a --
everybody condemned the Indian action, including countries that were
very close to India. And every country said their relations would be
affected by it. And when I came here, that's the most I thought we
could get, because there are lots of countries in the world that
basically are opposed to sanctions under almost all circumstances, and
except under rare cases when the U.N. votes for them. So we just have
a different view on that.


I'm glad that we've done what we've done, even though I have enormous
admiration for India's democracy and for its progress in the last
several years. But all I can tell you is I'm going to do what I can to
get this back on track. I hope that Pakistan won't test. I think it
will help us to get it back on track, and I think it will help
Pakistan immeasurably in the world community and it will have, I
believe, specific political, economic, and security benefits to the
country if it does not test.


So I'll keep working on it.



Q: Mr. President, if sanctions aren't possible, are there any other
specific actions you want these other countries to take when they go
home?


THE PRESIDENT: Well, for one thing, I think a lot of countries are
taking economic action. Japan is, Canada is, a number of European
countries are. The European Union is going to have to debate this. I
think that's one of the reasons that Prime Minister Blair, who
otherwise took quite a hard line here with us -- he was quite good on
the language of the resolution -- but I think that he thinks, ahead of
the EU, he has to give all these other countries the chance to be
heard. I think a number of European countries will take economic
actions here.


And I think that we just have to -- we're going to have to work this
situation to turn it back around, because what you don't want is the
-- insofar as possible the best of all worlds would be that this is an
isolated event and then India signs the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty;
then Pakistan says it will sign if India does, so they sign. That
would be the best conceivable result.


The worst conceivable result would be for everybody that's ever worked
on this to think they ought to conduct some sort of test and that this
is now -- it's sort of the new measure of either national security or
national greatness. That's a terrible signal for the rest of us to
send the world, especially when the Russians and we are doing our very
best to put everything in the opposite direction and to reduce the
number of nuclear weapons in the world.


So we just have to -- I'm going to spend a lot of time thinking
through this and coming up with an affirmative strategy to try to deal
with all the elements of it and all the aspects of the problem. And in
the meantime, I hope that Pakistan will find the strength necessary to
walk away from a test.


Q: Mr. President, there's new evidence that the Chinese government
funneled money into the American election campaign. Did you or anybody
in your administration make decisions based on the influence of
Chinese money?


THE PRESIDENT:  No.



Q:  And what do you feel about that evidence?



THE PRESIDENT: For one thing, first of all, I understand there's a new
allegation about that -- I have two things to say about it. First of
all, all the foreign policy decisions we made were based on what we
believed -- I and the rest of my administration -- were in the
interests of the American people.


Now, if someone tried to influence them, that's a different issue and
there ought to be an investigation into whether that happened. And I
would support that. I have always supported that. But I can tell you
that the decisions we made, we made because we thought they were in
the interests of the American people.


Q: -- the Chinese in your visit?



THE PRESIDENT: Well, I want to see -- when I get back home, I want to
see, number one, what is the substance of this, how serious is it,
what are the facts, what evidence is there. Is this just somebody
saying, or is there some reason to believe there is objective evidence
to support this. But in any case I think the investigation ought to
proceed, and then whatever the facts are, we'll take appropriate
action at the time.


Q: You mentioned President Yeltsin giving you assurances on START II
ratification. He's done that in the past several times.


THE PRESIDENT: He has, but one of the things he pointed out this time
is he said this thing is now in the Duma, it's actively being
considered, there are a lot of committees working on it, and that he
will, obviously, not only push for its ratification, but argue that it
ought to be considered in an even more timely fashion now because of
the Indian test.


Q: Will you go to Moscow only if it is ratified, or do you have
assurances now --


THE PRESIDENT: I think it ought to be ratified because then we can get
more business done. We can't really do anything on START III until
START II is ratified. And I'm hoping that it will. And I'd like to
leave it there. I'd like to leave it there.


Q: How long would it take to ratify START III?



THE PRESIDENT: I don't know. But I think -- but, actually -- I think
START III could be done in fairly short order because we have been --
Boris Yeltsin and I have been talking about these issues for years
now, and I think we know what the parameters of our two positions are,
what our national security considerations are. And so I would expect
that it could be done fairly quickly once we get START II out of the
way.


Thank you.



(end transcript)