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1994 - Mr Major’s Doorstep Interview in Washington

Below is Mr Major’s doorstep interview in Washington after a meeting with Vice President Al Gore, held on Monday 28th February 1994.


PRIME MINISTER:

Just let me say a word or two about the discussions now and earlier this morning with Secretary of State Christopher and others.

We had the opportunity both over breakfast and now with the Vice-President to look at a range of issues and there is no doubt that our policies on Bosnia and on Russia are very closely aligned now. Some of the difficulties that existed in the past I think have substantially been put behind us. We had the opportunity of discussing those this morning and a range of other issues. I won't go into details at the moment but I will take a few questions if you have any.

QUESTION:

On Bosnia, Prime Minister, the fact of what happened this morning, doesn't that increase the risk to British ground troops and wouldn't it increase perhaps the pressure you would like to bring on the Americans to put ground troops in too because it might concentrate their minds when it came to air strikes in Bosnia?

PRIME MINISTER:

I think what happened in Bosnia this morning was always likely to happen at some stage. We passed this Resolution a year or so ago now. I think what it does illustrate is that United Nations Security Council Resolutions can't be ignored with impunity. That might be a very useful lesson. I am absolutely sure that Admiral Border [phon] was right to take the decision that he took this morning and I hope the lesson has been learned from it.

QUESTION:

How will any Serb retaliation be greeted now?

PRIME MINISTER:

I have no reason to suppose there is going to be any Serb retaliation. The last I heard - and I may be out-of-date as this was an hour or so ago - the Serbs hadn't even conceded they were their planes. We are still waiting for further information on that.

QUESTION:

Did you discuss Russia at all?

PRIME MINISTER:

We did discuss Russia this morning. There is no doubt we both remain very strongly supportive of the reform process. There is a great deal happening in Russia at the moment and I look forward to discussing those in further detail with the President later; I would prefer to comment after that.

QUESTION:

[Inaudible].

PRIME MINISTER:

On Partnership for Peace, we haven't yet heard from the Russians whether they are proposing to take part in that, I very much hope that they will. I expressed that thought to President Yeltsin when I was there. I think Partnership for Peace will be enhanced by the Russians taking part in it. I think it is in the West's interest that they should do so and I think it is in their interest as well but as yet we haven't heard from them.

QUESTION:

What are you hoping can now achieved at the United Nations with fresh Resolutions related to Bosnia?

PRIME MINISTER:

I don't know yet what fresh Resolutions we are going to get.

There is a good deal of discussion. What we really have to determine is how we carry forward two separate things: firstly, the political peace process; it does seem that the discussions here in Washington between the Croats and the Muslims over the last 24 hours have looked very hopeful, we will know a little more by the end of the day but they certainly seem to have gone pretty well so far. And secondly, of course, what actually happens on the ground; whether it is possible to negotiate ceasefires in an increasing range of areas.

Those two events both need to be carried through in parallel. That is what is happening at the moment. I believe that is the right way to proceed and I think there is a unity of view about that.

ELINOR GOODMAN:

On Bosnia, was there anything particular you wanted out of the Americans, for example a commitment to more troops and what was their response?

PRIME MINISTER:

No, we were discussing strategic matters this morning and I will continue that discussion with the President later on today.