READOUT TO THE PRESS POOL
BY NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISOR SANDY BERGER
Auckland, New Zealand
September 12, 1999
3:00 P.M. (L)
MR. BERGER: As you all know, the President had two meetings this
afternoon, one trilateral meeting with President Kim and Prime Minister
Obuchi; and then a meeting with Prime Minister Putin. Let me do them in
The President began the trilateral by talking about the Perry
process -- that is the review of North Korean policy that we have been
undertaking, in close cooperation with the South Koreans and the Japanese.
He said he thought that that was a good policy, a good approach, the
President said, that is basically offering North Korea a choice of either
a path that would restrain the nuclear missile program in exchange for a
much better relationship with our three countries, or, conversely, if they
proceed down the other way, coordinated response from the three countries.
The President said it's very important he believed to keep both
Russia and China involved with North Korea and with us so that they could
be on the same wavelength with us in North Korea. The President reported
that the talks that are going on in Berlin between the United States and
the North Koreans are making progress. He said he thought that it was
very important to keep the agreed framework intact because that was
restraining the North Korean nuclear program.
And the President indicated that if the North Koreans are prepared
to foreswear their missile testing program, that we should be prepared to
take some positive steps. And of course, the reverse is true as well.
He then talked about East Timor. He said we need to find a way to
get Indonesia to stop the violence. He talked about both what he hoped
Korea and Japan would do. Japan in particular has very strong relations
with Indonesia, a very active economic relationship, and the President
asked Prime Minister Obuchi to use their extensive contacts to press the
political authorities to either stop the violence or approve an
international force -- international peacekeeping presence.
The President then moved to APEC. He said he hoped that while
we're here we could agree on a new WTO round that could be launched in
Seattle, a three-year round that would focus on market access, but that
would also envision interim agreements along the way on such matters as
e-commerce and government procurement.
And then, finally, the President said that he was pleased by the
economic progress that has been made by South Korea and Japan and we
continue to support what he described as reform-oriented growth in both
Prime Minister Obuchi began by talking about North Korea. He said
that he appreciated the comprehensive approach that we have taken. It was
a very good consultation with Japan and South Korea. He thought also that
it would be worthwhile for there to be some relaxation of sanctions if
there was a freeze on North Korean missile testing. But he also said we
should not reward provocations, we need to reverse any actions we take if
the North Koreans proceed to launch a long-range missile.
He complimented the Perry policy process, the Perry report. He
thought it was well-balanced and that it had the support of the government
President Kim then spoke. He also thanked the President for the
close cooperation on formulating a policy on North Korea and then, I
think, sounded a theme that really ran through the discussion, which is
that we're seeing a new level of cooperation among the three countries,
particularly with respect to the Korean Peninsula, so that perhaps to a
greater extent than ever before, Japan and the United States and South
Korea are approaching the North Korean issue in a concerted fashion.
He said he believed the engagement policy that they have pursued
is supported by the international community, including China and Russia,
but it obviously, as he said before, is not a policy of appeasement, where
there are provocations from two -- I've been asked to speak up, so I'll
President Kim described the situation in North Korea from his
vantage point. He said it was very difficult domestically, with
increasing reliance on outside assistance, with the regime there
maintaining their position through anti-American and anti-South Korean
propaganda, but that it was important to engage with them so that they
would discover the outside world and, like East Germany, would not be able
to sustain archaic existence.
He also subscribed, agreed with the idea of a carrot and stick
approach to North Korea with respect to their missile program and said
that if North Korea launches a missile, that they should pay a price, but
agreed with the President that it was important even in those
circumstances to maintain the agreed framework on their plutonium
On Timor, he said he'd discussed this with a number of Asian
leaders since he's been here in the last day. He thought it was important
that the leaders of APEC should address the issue while they're here -- if
not in one of the formal sessions, then informally; that it is essential
to urge the Indonesian government to put an end to the bloody violence and
to cooperate with the United Nations in upholding the mandate of the Timor
Prime Minister Obuchi, on Timor, said the crisis cannot be
tolerated, they must restore order in Indonesia, and indicated that they
would intensify their efforts with the Indonesians.
I think, parenthetically here, what the President is doing in
these conversations is seeking to gain from the other leaders their active
engagement with the Indonesians, particularly those like Japan that have
strong relations, to urge the Indonesians to change course.
And that basically -- oh, there's a little bit more here. Again,
the President said it's very important that countries like Japan use the
sweep and depth of their relationship to encourage the Indonesians to stop
the violence and welcome U.N. participation. But we must, he said, do
this -- we must find a way with Indonesia -- to find a way to deal with
this government in transition, a way that can be effective in persuading
them to change the direction they're on, which the President felt was
That essentially is -- I'll answer questions. Let me go on to the
Putin meeting, but that is essentially the substance of the trilateral
The President met with Prime Minister Putin also for about an
hour. The President began by talking about -- he said, I want to talk
about what I think are some of the important issues on our agenda over the
next year and that I have discussed with President Yeltsin in Cologne and
last week on the telephone.
He started with arms control, essentially START II, START III,
ABM, NMD -- that cluster of issues. The President made a number of
points. He wants to preserve the ABM Treaty, but he does believe there is
a new threat from rogue states and from terrorists that are able to obtain
missile technology that may require new kinds of defensive systems. He
said he wants to work together with the Russians on this and believes that
the benefit of a missile defense system could be shared with the Russians,
as he has said to President Yeltsin in Cologne.
He also said that he understood that the Russians on the offensive
side wanted to cut the numbers of offensive weapons below START II. There
was a gap between us in terms of numbers, but that's what the negotiations
would seek to address in a START III.
The second issue he raised is non-proliferation. He said he was
glad that Russia had in the past few months enacted some very strong new
tools to control export seepage, particularly referring to technology to
Iran. He said that he hoped that they would use those tools now so that
they could see results.
On Dagestan, the President expressed his condolences for the
explosion that took place in Moscow. He said that he had spoken out
against terrorism and that he would hope that the Russian response would
avoid innocent casualties.
On corruption, number four, the President said that he was very
pleased that they were sending a Russian team to meet with the FBI. I
believe they will be coming to the United States in the next few days.
The President said it's very important that we handle this on the merits,
not involving politics. He said he was pleased that President Yeltsin had
said that he would sign a money laundering law if one came to him that
corrected what Yeltsin saw were the constitutional deficiencies in the law
And then the President said he wants to see this problem dealt
with -- hopes that Russia will deal with this because it could eat the
heart out of Russian society if the problem of corruption is not dealt
Q Is that a quote?
MR. BERGER: Yes. He said he wants Russia to be strong and that's
why it's important in his mind for this to be dealt with.
He next talked about the economy. He was pleased that the economy
in Russia is gaining some strength, production is up, balance of payments
are better and the President indicated now there's a need for a strategy
for moving forward with the economic growth in a way that can sustain
And, finally, just generally on the U.S.-Russian relationship, he
said he would continue to support the direction of democracy and reform in
Russia that he has supported for the last six and a half years.
Prime Minister Putin said that the President's support for Russia
is appreciated there and recognized. He said that they welcomed a wide
scale dialogue with the United States, they were pleased that Secretary
Cohen is arriving there, I believe, in the next few days to meet with
Defense Minister Sergeyev, and he also welcomed Secretary Richardson
On corruption, he said it is a matter of concern. He suggested
that there were some political dimensions to it, but he acknowledged that
money laundering problems exist in Russia, as in other countries, and that
we must develop a cooperative approach dealing with the problem and,
again, made reference to the experts who are coming to the United States
to deal with our law enforcement people.
On the ABM, he said that there are threats from nuclear
proliferation and nuclear terrorism. He understands the concerns that the
President expressed. And they must be addressed in a way that takes
account of the security concerns of other nations, but these are matters
for negotiations, which he hoped would proceed.
On START II and START III, he said that ratification of START II
right now would be difficult, but he said that we're trying our best and
he thought there was some wavering among the opposition to START II and
that we should continue our discussions on START III, which would make it
facilitate ratification of START II. He thanked the United States for
some of the food support that we have given. He talked about Dagestan and
the difficult problems that the Russians face there and the roots of those
He then turned to the issue of technology transfer,
nonproliferation, cooperation with Iran. And he said that the armament of
Iran does not correspond to the interest of Russia, that in his former
capacity -- which was in intelligence service and, before that as, in
effect, the national security advisor for Yeltsin -- he had dealt with
this issue and that while he recognized there were real problems in
Russian export controls and that he wanted to continue to cooperate
actively in this area with American exports so that we could gain control
of the situation not only from Russia, but he said technology -- other
countries as well, weapons technology because this is a threat to Russia
as well as to the West.
He briefly talked -- the President raised the question of Kosovo.
Putin said, we need each other there and we need to continue to cooperate
And that basically is a loud summary. (Laughter.)
Q Sandy, does the President still believe that a
development, a positive development is possible in the East Timor
situation within the next few days, as he said yesterday?
MR. BERGER: Well, again, I think the only way to judge, to
measure results here, what happens on the ground. Either the Indonesian's
military asserting control and stopping the violence or inviting in an
international force. So the only measurement of progress are those two
I think that there have been some statements from General Wiranto
and others that have been somewhat positive. I think the President is
encouraged by the solidarity here among Asian leaders who generally
operate by consensus and don't particularly like confrontation with other
Asian countries, but who all feel very strongly.
President Kim was quite passionate and quite eloquent in his
statements about this in the meeting. So I think he's encouraged that
Indonesia is increasingly isolated and he believes that the pressure needs
to be kept up on Indonesia very strongly, until they are prepared to
either take control or invite in an international force or both, some
combination of both.
Q Did Prime Minister Obuchi give any specific commitments in
what he would do regarding Indonesia? You said they have a lot of
contacts there. Or is anyone else here, for that matter, any other
leaders giving specifics on what their countries might do?
MR. BERGER: Well, Prime Minister Obuchi specifically, in response
to the request of the President that Japan weigh in strongly with
Indonesia, said that they would approach the Indonesians. They have
already made public statements and indicated their opposition to what is
happening in Timor; but I got the impression from Prime Minister Obuchi
that that effort would increase.
Q Sandy, what numbers are we talking about when the
President said, limited number of U.S. participation? What is that range?
MR. BERGER: I don't know the answer. I don't think at this point
we have a clear answer. The President has indicated that the Australians
have asked us to do some things with respect to lift and logistics and
communications, perhaps intelligence. He has not ruled out other forms of
participation. He has indicated that this should be led by the
Australians and led by the Asians, they should -- because it would be more
effective if they are doing so, they should be the vast bulk of this. But
there's no number -- I think this has to be worked out really almost from
a perspective of what the needs are.
Q -- rather than thousands? Hundreds?
MR. BERGER: I don't want to speculate on that. We also obviously
need to -- if we get to this point, we need to consult with Congress. The
President has made a number of calls, but we need obviously to have
further discussions with the Congress.
Q Sandy, what are your options if Indonesia continues to
resist a U.N. force and the killing continues?
MR. BERGER: I think our option principally is to intensify the
pressure on Indonesia, until they do agree to an international force. I
think you've seen some wavering on the part of Indonesian authorities in
the last day, but inconsistent signals.
The fact is that if Indonesia faces widespread cut-off of military
assistance and the possibility that they're really not going to get much
economic assistance from the international community, the consequences for
Indonesia here proceeding on this course far outweigh whatever benefit
they could hope to gain from maintaining control of East Timor by force,
notwithstanding 78.5 percent of the Timorese voting otherwise.
Q Sandy, can you talk about the North Korean missile test?
Did I understand you to say there's an assurance now that North Korea was
not going to go ahead with the test? What has changed in Berlin, what's
the progress there?
MR. BERGER: No, I didn't say that. All that I said is that the
reports from Ambassador Kartman in Berlin have been the talks have been
positive, some progress has been made; but they've not reached a
conclusion at this point. What we would hope out of those talks is a
clear indication from the North Koreans that they would not proceed with
testing -- but those talks are ongoing.
Q Do they want something in exchange, more aid or something?
MR. BERGER: Well, you know, we committed in the agreed framework
in 1994, to an easing of sanctions. Those commitments have been made.
We've done a little bit; we haven't done too much.
I think that the leaders indicated that if the -- the three
leaders indicated that if there was a manifestation by the North Koreans
that they would not proceed with testing, that some form of easing of the
sanctions might be appropriate.
Q Is the President satisfied that the Russians are
sufficiently aware and grappling with the problems of corruption in their
country? In other words, saying, well, we have money laundering like
everyone else -- doesn't sound like that full of a recognition of the
extent of the problem there. Does he feel they're doing enough?
MR. BERGER: Well, I don't know the answer to that question, quite
honestly, whether they're doing enough. I think that -- you know, we may
know more when they send a team here and the extent to which they're
prepared to cooperate with the investigation.
The impression that I get from this conversation and the telephone
conversation with President Yeltsin is that they -- that while on the one
hand they see a degree of Russian domestic politics in this; on the other
hand, I was pleased that Prime Minister Putin today acknowledged that
there is a money laundering concern in Russia as, he said, there are in
other countries -- they're not the only country.
But I can't answer really your question as to whether they're
Q What was the President's overall impression of Prime
Minister Putin? This is their first meeting, sounds like he said a lot of
the things that the President wanted to hear.
MR. BERGER: I think it was a good meeting. I think the President
felt that he is somebody who has fairly substantial experience in the
Russian system and, therefore, perhaps to a greater extent maybe than some
of his predecessors may be able to work the system.
I thought that he was quite open in these conversations. I
thought his reaction on national missile defense and ABM, his reaction on
the corruption issue and other issues was more straightforward than
sometimes has been the case.
Q What is your understanding as to why Boris Yeltsin did not
MR. BERGER: I don't know the answer for sure, Mark, but it would
not surprise me if it was not health and stamina relate.
Q Thank you.
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