News

May 29, 1998

PRESS BRIEFING BY MIKE MCCURRY





                           THE WHITE HOUSE

                    Office of the Press Secretary

_____________________________________________________________________
For Immediate Release                                   May 29, 1998


                           PRESS BRIEFING
                           BY MIKE MCCURRY


                          The Briefing Room


2:15 P.M. EDT


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

	     Q	  What is the President doing in regards to Pakistan, 
beyond the sanctions?  I mean, has he approved formally the 
sanctions?

	     
	     MR. MCCURRY:  Well, I think all you know that just a 
short while ago, the Secretary of State announced that -- on her 
behalf, Jamie Rubin announced that they are undertaking to organize 
the ministerial-level conference next week, beginning with 
ministerial representatives from the permanent members of the U.N. 
Security Council to address the situation in South Asia.  And that is 
a forum that we believe we can begin to concentrate the work of the 
international community as we respond to this escalation and tension.  
It could obviously lead to further dialogue with others who have now 
spoken out condemning both the tests by Pakistan and by India. 
	     
	     The President is encouraged that Secretary Albright 
received the responses she did in her effort to organize this proper 
response by the international community and will be working hard in 
coming days in anticipation of that meeting and then beyond as we 
take additional steps to coordinate the work we're doing with other 
governments to bring the right kind of pressure to bear on both 
Pakistan and India to turn back from this dangerous direction in 
which both countries have now moved.
	     
	     Q	  The President sent strong statements through the 
embassies, but he warned of severe negative consequences to the 
bilateral relationship.  What would those severe consequences be?
	     
	     MR. MCCURRY:  Well, there are a range of things that 
governments can do together positively when relations are cordial.  
When events happen that inject a troubling element into those 
relations, there are, as the President suggested, consequences, and 
some of them include the sanctions that have been imposed.  But most 
nations prefer amicability in their working relationship with their 
partners, and that status is now in jeopardy in both cases.
	     
	     Q	  Is that a veiled threat about the trip?  Is that a 
veiled threat to cancel the trip?
	     
	     MR. MCCURRY:  That's just simply a statement of what it 
is.  There are negative consequences, and that can be reflected in a 
number of ways.
	     
	     Q	  Has he signed the document?
	     
	     MR. MCCURRY:  That has -- we have not seen the paper on 
that, but our intent is to have that done soon so we can put an early 
lid on.
	     
	     Q	  How about a photo of that?
	     
	     MR. MCCURRY:  Let's check and see where we are on that.  
Maybe you need to work on that, because my guess is, that will be 
some of the last things that happen before the afternoon ends.
	     
	     Q	  How many bombs did Pakistan explode?
	     
	     MR. MCCURRY:  The government of Pakistan has suggested 
that they've conducted five tests.  We're examining our data and 
there is not much more beyond that I can tell you.
	     
	     Q	  Do you plan to recall U.S. ambassadors from 
Islamabad?
	     
	     MR. MCCURRY:  No.  I think the State Department has 
already indicated that we are leaving Ambassador Simons in place and 
returning Ambassador Celeste to post in New Delhi, so we can continue 
the kind of dialogue with both governments that will now be urgent 
and necessary as we address these developments.
	     
	     Q	   Mike, is there any consideration being given to 
easing or lifting these sanctions somewhere down the road if a 
promise is secured from either or both India and Pakistan to stop 
testing?
	     
	     MR. MCCURRY:  That is a question that we would be 
willing to examine once we see both governments do the kinds of 
things that we've suggested are now necessary:  acceptance and 
signing of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty without condition; 
participation in the discussions about cutting off production of 
fissile materials; assuring the world community they are not doing 
things with respect to their ballistic missiles or any aspects of 
their weaponry that involve aspects of the nuclear programs that they 
have now unveiled; and further steps to de-escalate tension on the 
subcontinent -- doing the right things instead of the wrong things 
when it comes to limiting the kind of tensions that exist over issues 
like Kashmir and others.  Once we see all of those kinds of positive 
steps forward, then we'd be able to examine the question of sanctions 
relief.
	     
	     Q	  The Pakistanis pointedly did not promise to cease 
the testing immediately.  Is there additional concern that there is 
going to be more testing on their part?
	     
	     MR. MCCURRY:  Well, we have got a variety of assessments 
on that.  And as I said earlier today, we continue to monitor that.  
We believe that there is still some danger of things that were 
contrary to the desire of the world community to see 
denuclearization, nonproliferation be the order of the day.  
	     
	     Q	  Was the decision to leave the Ambassador in 
Pakistan part of what you described yesterday as the sort of tonal 
difference in the U.S. response to the Pakistani test?
	     
	     MR. MCCURRY:  Well, I think it's more accurate to say 
that having strongly condemned this action, having joined with other 
members of the U.N. Security Council in a statement now that strongly 
deplores this action -- a statement that was every bit as tough as 
the United States government wanted it to be -- we have expressed our 
displeasure.  What we now need to do is to work hard going forward on 
ways that we can positively address the situation.  I think the fact 
that we left Ambassador Simons in place speaks for itself.  But it is 
important that Ambassador Celeste return to his post so that he can 
be a part of the dialogue that now needs to occur.
	     
	     Q	  Mike, speaking of ambassadors, this morning we 
asked you about the U.N. strategy that didn't seem to quite work last 
night.  Have you any updates on how --
	     
	     MR. MCCURRY:  Yes.  I mean, I explained to you the 
situation when there was one member of the Security Council awaiting 
instructions from his capital and they received it.  And a very 
strong statement has now been issued, as you know.
	     
	     Q	  On that tonal difference, is part of the reason 
there is such a tonal difference with Pakistan a concern by the U.S. 
that perhaps economic sanctions could, in fact, topple this 
government and you could end up with a worse regime?
	     
	     MR. MCCURRY:  We implemented the law as precisely the 
law requires.  But there were different circumstances with respect to 
these two tests.  Some of what we have done reflects that.
	     
	     Q	  Mike, from the standpoint of the administration, do 
sanctions -- are they too rigid?  Do you they take away room to 
maneuver if the administration would prefer to have?
	     
	     MR. MCCURRY:  That kind of general philosophical 
question -- 

	     
	     Q	  Well, I'm asking about the situation.
	     
	     MR. MCCURRY:  I think that -- I've said this before 
here, this is not a position of the United States government, but it 
is a practical observation of reality that the imposition of economic 
sanctions unilaterally by the United States government often has the 
inadvertent effect of penalizing U.S. companies and U.S. workers who 
are engaged in commerce and goods and services that are then 
restricted.  And the foreign economic competitors of the United 
States can take advantage of the situation.  So sometimes the 
imposition of our sanctions helps those that we compete with in 
global commerce when it comes to some of the restrictions that are in 
place.  That is a problem.  
	     
	     One of the things that you have heard this President and 
previous presidents argue is that when Congress ties the hands of the 
Executive Branch in the conduct of foreign policy and removes 
flexibility when it comes to addressing situations, we sometimes 
create outcomes in which we can't negotiate and we can't conduct 
diplomacy.  And that's one of the reasons why most administrations, 
including this one, have chaffed at the kind of restrictions that are 
placed on the conduct of foreign policy-making by the Congress.
	

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

     ...................
	     
	     Q	  Mike, is it your understanding that the report by 
the former Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, David 
Jeremiah, on the India testing is critical to the CIA?
	     
	     MR. MCCURRY:  I don't have an understanding, John, as to 
the content of that report.  All I know and have heard about it is 
that it is going to be forwarded to relevant members of Congress next 
week, and that it is exactly as Director Tenet wanted -- a very 
candid assessment of the performance of the intelligence community.   
And what the contents are, whether or not it can be described as 
critical, I have to leave to folks at the agency, folks in the 
international community or to Admiral Jeremiah himself.  I just don't 
know.
	     
	     Q	  Has the President been briefed on it yet?
	     
	     MR. MCCURRY:  Not to my knowledge.  I haven't heard?
	     
	     COLONEL CROWLEY:  Not to my knowledge.
	     
	     MR. MCCURRY:  We've been briefed as to the timing and 
our understanding, as I said, is it will probably be complete and be 
in a position to be presented to the Hill sometime next week.
	     
	     Q	  Will you release it here, too?
	     
	     MR. MCCURRY:  We will certainly find out how they intend 
to handle it.  I don't know to what degree it will properly be 
classified and have to be presented to Congress in closed session. I 
would have to imagine that a good part of it, if it's going to be an 
assessment of the performance of the intelligence community, it's 
going to have to be classified and probably won't be fully available 
publicly.  Although Director Tenet has indicated, if I'm not 
mistaken, he wants to assure that some public version of the report 
is available.
	     
	     COLONEL CROWLEY:  I expect there will be some sort -- 
but the report itself is classified.
	     
	     MR. MCCURRY:  The report itself is classified, but some 
public discussion of it was anticipated by Director Tenet if I 
understand correctly.
	     
................

	     
	     Q	  India, Pakistan -- what do you think of the 
rhetoric that we've had in the last 24 hours, declaration of a state 
of emergency, threatening with devastating responses?
	     
	     MR. MCCURRY:  Well, declaration of a state of emergency 
has -- just setting that aside -- let me answer your general question 
that there have been -- there has been alarming rhetoric that has 
served to add to the tensions and the uncertainties that surely the 
people of Pakistan and India both feel.  And we would call on both 
governments to do what they can to do to reassure their populations 
to limit the provocative rhetoric to move away from belligerency in 
their statements and start moving towards peaceful expressions of a 
desire to deal now with what is a very dangerous situation.  
	     
	     The declaration of a state of emergency could 
conceivably have something to do with the very dire circumstances 
that some parts of the population of India now face because, in part, 
at some small measure at least, because of the economic penalties 
that India now faces, also in part because of the heat wave, because 
of the general economic conditions that exist in New Delhi.  
Unfortunately, this decision --
	     
	     Q	  -- Pakistan --
	     
	     MR. MCCURRY:  -- and also in New Delhi, if I understand 
correctly, from what we saw earlier.
	     
	     Q	  Mike, can you talk about the ministerials that are 
going to be organized?  What is it, other than obviously trying to 
get people together, can you talk a little bit more about what -- how 
we hope to perceive, what we hope to get them to do in this?
	     
	     MR. MCCURRY:  Well, I mean, I've outlined for you, I 
think, the steps that we think would be immediately helpful.  There 
are things they can do with respect to dialogue, with respect to 
reassuring, things that they can undertake as they deal with the 
consequences of their testing, that we will certainly encourage on 
both parties.  Secretary Albright and at the State Department they 
have now at some greater length addressed exactly how they will 
structure the format and what the likely agenda will be.  Some of 
that is still in development as they await to see that the prospects 
of putting together this --- they want to have.
	     
..................

	     
	     Q	  Mike, you made a general statement about the 
problem of the President having to impose sanctions.  But is that 
what he would have wanted to do actually, in this case, or is there 
some other type of penalty he might have imposed?
	     
	     MR. MCCURRY:  It's not a question of what he wanted.  We 
have law on the books that requires nothing less.  So obviously, he 
would move swiftly to implement the law.  I think as I indicated, all 
Presidents -- I'm not speaking with respect to the specific 
situation.  Most administrations, most presidents, including this 
one, seek the kind of flexibility so they can address each situation 
as the individual situation requires to be addressed.  And sometimes 
when you preordain conclusions in law, you make it harder to unravel 
complex problems.
	     
	     Q	  You mentioned dialogue a few times now.  Ambassador 
Richardson said late last night that one thing the U.S. wants is a 
face-to-face meeting between the Pakistanis and the Indians.  I mean, 
are we trying to orchestrate that?
	     
	     MR. MCCURRY:  We are trying to orchestrate right now the 
meeting at the ministerial level that I described here earlier and 
that the State Department announced earlier today.  We'll take this 
one step at a time.  Obviously, at some point in the future, there 
may be great utility in having direct dialogue between Pakistan and 
India.  They have, in the past, undertaken that to limit the tensions 
that exist between them, but at the moment, we see the first step 
being -- the meeting that the Secretary of State is trying to 
organize and that they've already described at State.
	     
	     Q	  With whom?  Foreign ministers?
	     
	     MR. MCCURRY:  I think there's a lot that you'll be able 
to get from the transcript at State, because Mr. Rubin spent 
considerable amount of time on this.
	     
	     Q	  Mike, yesterday you talked about a tonal difference 
between the responses of the United States to Pakistan's debt -- do 
you see that playing out in policy, or how will that make itself --
	     
	     MR. MCCURRY:  I don't want to add to what I've already 
said; I think I've already addressed that question.
	     

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

	     
	     MR. MCCURRY:  We may not -- I had indicated earlier we might 
have the paper on the Pakistan sanctions today, but we -- I'm now 
told we may not have that today.  And that might be because I had 
previously told them that we wanted an early lid today.  So we'll 
check and see.  It may not be ready.  We'll check into that.
	     
	     Q	  Does that mean it hasn't been signed, or they 
haven't been sent over, or what's the reason?
	     
	     MR. MCCURRY:  It means, well, it's very likely that 
given the complexity of how they get invoked and specific items that 
they're still examining -- still examining some of the legal 
questions that I outlined when I talked about them yesterday.  
There's no question of the President's intent and people are on 
notice about what the affects are and people who make -- need to 
begin to plan decisions and various things like international 
financial institutions and how we prepare our discussions.  There are 
no -- what the underlying policy is, so it doesn't have any practical 
affect that I'm aware of.
	     
	     Q	  But he hasn't actually signed it yet?
	     
	     MR. MCCURRY:  Not actually signed that yet.
	     
	     Q	  There is actually legislation by, I think it's 
Hamilton and Lugar, that would allow the President to review 
sanctions on a case-by-case basis.  Do you know if the President 
supports that legislation?
	     
	     MR. MCCURRY:  I'll have to look into that, whether 
that's -- sounds like a specific bill and I don't know whether we've 
taken a specific position on it.
	     
.................
	     
             END                          3:01 P.M. EDT