[EXCERPTS] PRESS BRIEFING BY MIKE MCCURRY
THE WHITE HOUSE April 17, 1997
Q: Would you comment on what went on last night at Blair House? Were
any minds changed?
MCCURRY: It was not a session that was designed to change minds. As
the President said afterwards, it was an excellent evening, and we
ought to do a lot more of it. It was really reaching out to members of
Congress, discussing with them America's role in the world as we think
ahead to the 21st century, and how we take advantage of the
extraordinary opportunities we have.
It's a chance to step back from some of the day-to-day issues that we
deal with in foreign policy and really look ahead and look at a much
wider and bigger horizon as we think about the interests the American
people around this world. It was a good session, it did cover some
topical issues, because the President did take the occasion with
members of the Senate there to urge ratification in the Chemical
And we've had two significant developments today there; one actually
yesterday with President Ford's strong statement, so we now have a
bipartisan list of Presidents who have advocated for this treaty. And
then, obviously, General Colin Powell's very strong statement up on
the Hill this morning is most welcome and significantly advances the
argument in favor of the Convention itself.
So we have, I think had some very positive developments in the last 24
hours on that issue. They did spend some time on that issue last
night, but the great bulk of the evening was devoted to looking at the
large questions that are going to define U.S. foreign policy as we go
into the next century -- what is the future of Europe; what is the
future of Asia and the role that some of the larger powers in both
Europe and Asia will play as we intersect with them and as we advance
our interests and acknowledge and exchange views on their interests.
Q: Mike, talking about the 150 Account, what was the status of the
reorganization plan? Has the President seen it or is it still in the
MCCURRY: The President has on the way to him some options for State
Department reform, reinvention and perhaps reorganization. And he is
anxious to get that because the administration has committed to
Chairman Helms, among others, that we would address that. Plus, we
believe taxpayers deserve to have a foreign policy apparatus that
functions more efficiently and that uses dollars prudently and wisely
to advance the global interests that we have.
It's important work that needs to be done. It's important -- we're
asking for additional expenditures for our work overseas because we
are -- need to remain engaged in this world. And there's been an
overall decline over the last five years in the amounts we spend to
protect America's interests overseas. So if we're going to ask to get
kind of back up to where we need to be, we have to make sure we're
spending that money very carefully and wisely. And the President's
anxious to meet our obligation to meet that test. So he'll be looking
at those options over time. The Vice President has worked closely with
Secretary Albright and others to develop some good ideas.