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1994 - Mr Major’s Joint Doorstep Interview with President Clinton

Below is the text of Mr Major’s joint doorstep interview with President Clinton, held in Washington on Tuesday 1st March 1994.


PRESIDENT CLINTON:

We'd like to just make a couple of brief remarks and then we'll answer some questions.

First of all, I want to again say how pleased I was at this visit that the Prime Minister made, we had a wonderful time yesterday in Pittsburgh and it turned out to be a pretty good idea that just sort of grew out of a conversation we had last summer in Tokyo, and I am glad that he came and I am glad we had a chance to go there and to do what was done there.

We have had an opportunity to discuss, as you might imagine, a lot of issues, I might just mention a few. First of all, with regard to Bosnia, we are committed to continuing to work for a resolution of the crisis, we are encouraged by both the on-going negotiations between the Bosnian government and the Croats and the willingness of the Russians to work with us and others in trying to bring the Serbs into a final peace agreement. So we are quite hopeful about that.

Secondly, I wanted to particularly emphasise the commitment that we share for strengthening and broadening NATO through the Partnership for Peace and to having tangible evidence of that partnership coming forward this summer.

Thirdly, with regard to Northern Ireland I want to reaffirm the support of the United States for the joint declaration, for the process it envisions and for an end to the violence. I wish the Prime Minister and Prime Minister Reynolds well as they seek to carry this out.

Let me just mention a couple of other things. You knew yesterday I think that we sent a joint message to Mr Mandela and Chief Butholezi, we are looking forward to their meeting today, we hope it will be successful and we want to strongly encourage all the parties in South Africa to responsibly participate in the election.

The last thing I would like to say is that we join the United Kingdom in their position with regard to Hong Kong in supporting Governor Patten's efforts to have a genuine long term strategy for economic and political success in Hong Kong and I have been very admiring of what he has done and what the Prime Minister has done.

QUESTION:

Are all your differences wiped out?

PRESIDENT CLINTON:

Well, let me give the Prime Minister a chance to make some remarks first.

PRIME MINISTER:

Can I firstly say how enjoyable this visit has been and thank the President for his hospitality and also the people of Pittsburgh, it was a memorable day and a memorable evening yesterday and I thoroughly enjoyed every moment of it.

I do not want to add a great deal to what the President has had to say, perhaps a word or two about Bosnia in general and Sarajevo in particular. One of the things we have agreed over the last couple of days is to send a joint civil planning mission to Sarajevo, the ceasefire there is holding, that has been a very successful operation, I think it has been universally recognised as such, but the circumstances that exist within Sarajevo are still very serious, the utilities are not working, the electricity, the water, so we have agreed to send a joint civil planning mission there to have a look at what needs to be done and then to see to what extent we can contribute and can encourage other people to contribute to deal with the civil difficulties that are actually faced there in Sarajevo.

The President mentioned the message we sent yesterday to Nelson Mandela and Chief Butholezi, they meet today at Yalundi and clearly that is an extremely important meeting, it is our wish that everyone participates in the South African elections, it is a remarkable event, the first multi-racial elections across South Africa, and we wish to see everyone take part. We very much hope as a result of the message and more relevantly perhaps the meeting between Mr Mandela and Chief Butholezi today that that will certainly happen.

We spent some time discussing trade matters as well as foreign affairs. I think there are two areas of that that I would just briefly touch upon. We agreed that it would be desirable to see if we could bring forward the start date for implementation of the GATT agreement to 1 January 1995, we will need to consult with other people to see if that is practicable but if it is practicable clearly an agreement has been reached and the sooner that agreement can be implemented the better it will be.

We spent some time also discussing open markets, we both share a wish to support the growing measure of opinion that exists in Japan, for example, for the further opening of Japanese markets, this is a matter of concern to the United States, it is a matter of concern throughout the European Union as well and we spent some time discussing that particular issue.

There were one or two rather more technical issues we discussed, a replacement of CoCom, that old relic of the Cold War, that needs to be replaced, there are official discussions to do that and we spent some time just looking at that.

Beyond that I think I would simply wish to endorse the points that the President made both about Bosnia and about Russia. I think there is no doubt that we see the problems of Bosnia very much in the same light, our policy is heading exactly in the same direction and I think we have had a very useful discussion on that particular issue. I do not think for the moment I wish to add any more.

QUESTION:

How would you describe your relationship now?

PRIME MINISTER:

I think it is a partnership of shared interests and shared instincts. If one looks at problems around the world overwhelmingly we are likely to take the same view of those, that has been the case in the past and is the case now, and I think it is those shared instincts and interests that actually underpin the long term relationship between the United Kingdom and the United States.

PRESIDENT CLINTON:

I agree with that, I think it is a great mistake to over-state the occasional disagreement and under-state the incredible depth and breadth of our shared interests and our shared values. It is still a profoundly important relationship I think to both countries and I also believe to the future of the world.

QUESTION:

Could you tell us a little bit, in this country today the Senate is beginning to pick up on budget amendments, what is your view on that and where do you think it is going?

PRESIDENT CLINTON:

I don't know where it is going but I hope that it will not be passed because if it is passed it runs the risk of endangering our economic recovery by requiring excessive tax increases, of very damaging cuts in defence, our investments in technology and job training, in Medicare and social security. If it is disregarded, there is a provision in there to disregard it if 60 percent of both Houses want to do it, it amounts to turning the whole future of America over to 40 percent plus 1 of each House of Congress, in an intensely partisan atmosphere that is a recipe for total paralysis. Also, unlike all these state and local balance budget amendments, this one makes utterly no distinction between a long term investment and annual consumption. So for those reasons I hope it will not be adopted.

Finally, we are proving you can bring the deficit down, the deficit is now going to be about half the percentage of our annual income that it was when I took office if this new budget is adopted, so we are going to keep bringing it down. I think the administration has credibility on cutting spending, we presented the first cuts in discretionary spending since 1969 in this budget. So I think we have got a record, I think we are on the right track and I think this remedy, while it is a very serious problem what has happened to the deficit, this remedy is the wrong one and I hope the Congress will reject it.

QUESTION:

You have agreed to send some civilians to help monitor the ceasefire and are you still adamant you will not send ground troops?

PRESIDENT CLINTON:

Our position has always been that we would prefer to help enforce an agreement if we could work out a peace agreement, that in the absence of the peace agreement we would confine our involvement to the support we are giving through NATO and our air power and to essentially the technical personnel who are there now and others who might be able to do that kind of work. That is still our position. But let me say that I think we have a terrific opportunity here to try to build on what happened in the situation involving Sarajevo, to try to keep the Russians involved in a very constructive leadership way and to try to work on these talks now under way here in Washington between the Bosnian government and the Croatians. To move to that kind of settlement, if we can get that, then I think all the responsible countries of the world have got to try to help to make it work.

QUESTION:

Could I ask the Prime Minister, has the President given you a promise about future conditions for the readmission of Gerry Adams? Will he have to renounce violence to get another visa to get into the United States?

PRIME MINISTER:

I think everyone has seen what has happened at the Ardfheis, I think the important issue is to look forward and see how we produce a solution to the Northern Ireland problem, I am not interested in looking back. And I think as one looks forward one only has to look at the very remarkable expression of opinion that we have seen over the last few days of support for the joint declaration. Now that joint declaration is there, it is now a living fact, it is a series of principles upon which we hope to base a solution to the problems that have bedevilled Northern Ireland for too long. Now that is the main issue that I want to address and those are the issues we have been discussing.

QUESTION:

Following on the progress that you have made in Bosnia, did you talk about any steps to end the fighting in other places beyond Sarajevo, perhaps extending the ultimatum to Tuzla or Srebrenica?

PRESIDENT CLINTON:

We feel pretty good about where things are in Srebrenica now, we think that the troop exchange will be able to occur between the Canadians and the Dutch and we are working on Tuzla, we do believe that we should keep working to fulfil the commitment that NATO made at its last meeting in January to try to see what can be done to open the Tuzla airport, but there are on-going negotiations there now. Again we have sought the involvement of the Russians in this regard and we think that there is a chance that we will be able to have some success in Tuzla, we discussed what our options are, I think you will see more about that in the days ahead.

QUESTION:

Are you concerned about the recent NATO air strikes that resulted in increased bombing of the Tuzla area, your message is that you are not going to tolerate violation of the No Fly Zone but how do you reinforce that?

PRESIDENT CLINTON:

Right now our authority, beyond what is going on in Sarajevo, is consigned to enforcing the No Fly Zone and we did that. But I want to say again what I said yesterday, it was based on the authority vested through the United Nations last April, it was something done in the course of business to do what we are required to do, that it should not be read in any way as a departure of strategy or tactics because of what is going on now generally. And I think it should only serve to make people want to resolve this more quickly, to go on with the negotiations now, that is what I am hopeful of.

QUESTION:

If there is the need for other bombing missions and the attacks step up on these other areas outside Sarajevo what can NATO do to prevent the spread of this violence?

PRESIDENT CLINTON:

Right now, I will say again, the authority we had with regard to artillery, that is on the ground attacks, is the authority to remove artillery from around the Sarajevo area, to create the safe zone, all other authorities related to stopping the war from spreading into the air, and we are talking about what we can do in Tuzla now, that is what you will see I hope unfolding in a very positive way over the next few days.

PRIME MINISTER:

I think what people have to realise is that what is developing is developing on a twin track, there is the track of seeking a political settlement and some progress has been made between the Muslims and the Croats here in Washington over the last couple of days. And then of course there is the second track of what is actually happening on the ground and I think one saw in Sarajevo a classic illustration of how an agreement can be reached on the ground that leads in due course to the corralling of weapons, so I think both those tracks will continue. But as far as the No Fly Zone is concerned, the incident that occurred yesterday, where I think it was entirely justifiable to shoot down the planes that were intruding in the No Fly Zone, could have happened at any stage in the last year, it certainly is not a departure from accepted policy, any time in the last 12 months that could have occurred.

PRESIDENT CLINTON:

Thank you very much.

PRIME MINISTER:

Thank you.