Office of the Press Secretary
(London, England)

For Immediate Release May 29, 1997


Cabinet Room
10 Downing Street
London, England

PRIME MINISTER BLAIR: Mr. President, we are absolutely delighted to have you here. It's a very great day for us for the President of the United States to come in and address our Cabinet.

We know that you've been very busy over the past few days. We've been at some of the meetings together -- the European Union and U.S. Summit, of course; it was very important. Then the NATO-Russia Agreement, which we congratulate you on your part upon formulating that, the Founding Act, which will be very important in bringing peace to the world. And also, of course, the other meetings that have taken place commemorating the Marshall Plan.

And we were particularly delighted, incidently, that you mentioned yesterday -- John Prescott, the Deputy Prime Minister who was there was saying that you mentioned the contribution of Ernest Bevin to that plan, which was a very, very considerate achievement from an earlier Labor government.

And I would just like to say one or two words right at the very beginning -- first of all, to welcome you and say how delighted we are to have you here, and to say that I hope that this does usher in a new time of understanding and cooperation between our two countries that have such strong bonds of history and of heritage together.

I think you, like me, have always believed that Britain does not have to choose between its strong relationship in Europe and its strong transatlantic relationship with the United States of America -- strong in Europe and strong with the United States. I think one strength deepens the other. And a Britain that is leading in Europe is a Britain capable of ever closer relations also with the United States of America.

And we will, obviously, be wanting to discuss today many of the issues that concern Europe and the United States -- the issues of enlargement in NATO. We will obviously be discussing Bosnia and Northern Ireland as well. But, in particular, I want to say how absolutely delighted I am on a personal level to welcome you here because we believe that the courage and strength, the leadership that you have shown in the United States has brought enormous benefits, not just to your own country, but to the world. And we're delighted to see you here.

PRESIDENT CLINTON: Thank you very much. Let me say that, first, I'm very appreciative of the honor of meeting with the entire Cabinet. And I have watched with enormous interest the energy and vigor with which you have all taken office and begun your work, and the optimism with which you pursue it. I saw you on television last night being optimistic about peace in Ireland, which is an article of faith in my life and household, so I like that.

And I agree that it is good for the United States to have a Britain that is strong in Europe and strong in its relations with the United States.

These last couple of days, not only commemorating the Marshall Plan, but asking the people of Europe to think about how we should organize the next 50 years to try to fulfill the unfulfilled promise of the people who envisioned the Marshall Plan, and signing the agreement between NATO and Russia, are part of the unfolding effort to create within Europe a continent that is democratic, undivided, and at peace for the first time ever. Europe has been periodically at peace, but never all democratic, and certainly never undivided.

And I see that as a way of organizing ourselves to meet the real challenges of the 21st century which will cross borders -- terrorism, the dealing with racial and religious differences, and trying to minimize the extremist hatred that is gripping so much of the world, and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and drug trafficking and the common environmental threats that will become a bigger part of every government's agenda for the next generation.

So this is a very exciting time. And I'm glad to be here, and I thank you.

PRIME MINISTER BLAIR: Thank you very much, Mr. President.

Q Mr. President, you took office after 12 years of Republican rule in Washington. What advice do you have for these Labor Party members who have just taken office after so many years of a different party in power? You had some missteps at the beginning and probably want to share some of that advice. (Laughter.)

PRESIDENT CLINTON: I think they're doing very well. I'd like to have a 179-seat majority -- (laughter) -- and I'm not going to give any advice, I'm going to sit here and take it as long as they'll let me do it. (Laughter.)

PRIME MINISTER BLAIR: And I would like to make sure that we have a second term in office -- (laughter) -- so I'll take his advice, too.

Thanks very much, guys. You know there will be a press conference, of course, later where you'll be able to ask questions.

Q Mr. Prime Minister, would you care to share with us some of your thoughts about some of the lessons you learned in getting elected from President Clinton's playbook, political playbook?

PRIME MINISTER BLAIR: Well, I'm sure we'll share lots of lessons together. But as I say, you'll have an ample opportunity to ask us about them later this afternoon. Thank you.

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