93/09/20 Remarks & Q&A at Columbia Univ. on Peace In Mid-East (Washington, D.C)  Return to: Index of 1993 Secretary of State's Speeches/Testimonies || Electronic Research Collections Index || ERC Homepage

Note: This Electronic Research Collection is an archive site. For the most current information, please visit the State Department homepage.

U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
93/09/20 Remarks & Q&A at Columbia Univ. on Peace In Mid-East
Office of the Spokesman



                              SPEECH
                                BY
              SECRETARY OF STATE WARREN CHRISTOPHER
                               PLUS
                   QUESTIONS AND ANSWER SESSION

                       Columbia University
                        September 20, 1993


                BUILDING PEACE IN THE MIDDLE EAST

[Speech As Prepared for Delivery]

Ladies and Gentlemen:

Thank you, Les Gelb.  The Council on Foreign Relations is very fortunate 
to have Les Gelb as its new president.  As many of you know, I had the 
pleasure of working with Les during our last tour in government.  He is 
one of the nation's leading foreign policy thinkers and writers.  His 
advice is valued here and around the world.

Thank you, also, President Rupp, for co-sponsoring our get-together 
today in this elegant setting.  Columbia University is one of this 
country's oldest and most prestigious institutions of learning.  From 
the schoolroom on Lower Broadway where Samuel Johnson taught eight 
students in 1754, to this magnificent campus on Morningside Heights, 
Columbia has represented the spirit of inquiry and intellectual freedom 
that has made America strong.

Columbia has certainly contributed to the strength of the State 
Department.  Two of our Under Secretaries, Joan Spero and Lynn Davis, 
have studied here and taught here.  They carry on Columbia's great 
tradition of sending women and men into public life with an 
international outlook.

My visit here today is one of several I have made and plan to make 
around the country to talk about our foreign policy.  I believe that 
Secretaries of State should spend more time explaining foreign policy to 
the audience that really counts--the American people.

A week ago, from a small platform on the south lawn of the White House, 
the world took a very big step toward a more peaceful future.  That 
simple handshake between implacable foes extends a mighty redemptive 
power that can help heal the wounds of this too-often-violent century.

Like the collapse of communism before it, the beginning of the historic 
reconciliation between the Israelis and the Palestinians confirms our 
belief that hope can eventually replace despair, cooperation can 
overcome conflict, and peace and freedom can triumph over war and 
tyranny.

Today, I will share with you my thoughts on last week's historic 
developments in the Arab-Israeli peace process.  I will place the events 
of last Monday in historical context and describe to you the steps we 
must take to ensure that this chance for peace does not slip from our 
grasp.

For more than 45 years, Democratic and Republican administrations have 
worked tirelessly to break the cycle of violence between Israel and its 
Arab neighbors.  They did so because they understood that the United 
States has enduring interests in this historic and strategic crossroads; 
enduring interests in a region where conflict always threatens world 
peace; enduring interests in the security and well-being of Israel and 
in cooperative relations with the Arab world; and enduring interests in 
the region's oil resources, which serve as the lifeblood of much of the 
global economy.

These enduring interests have made Middle East peace a constant and 
essential goal of U.S. foreign policy.  For decades, that goal eluded 
us.  The region remained a tinderbox, threatening to embroil us in its 
deadly wars.  This volatility was due in no small part to the existence 
of a Soviet Union determined to fuel the forces of radicalism and 
conflict.  While the Soviets by no means caused the Arab-Israeli 
dispute, they did everything in their power to see that the region 
remained at a constant boil.  Their policies emboldened radicals, 
intimidated moderates, and left Israel--save for its friendship with the 
United States--in a lonely state of siege.

Throughout the long struggle of the Cold War, only one Arab country--
Egypt--managed to breach the wall of conflict that Moscow had helped to 
erect.  Egypt braved ostracism and withstood assassination to make peace 
with Israel.  For fourteen long years that heroic achievement has held 
strong.  It also stood alone--until last Monday.  The Israeli-
Palestinian agreement--in which Egypt's President Mubarak played a 
critical role--is a powerful vindication of that nation's courage and 
vision.

It was not until the Cold War began to wane that new opportunities arose 
to combat rejectionism and promote peace.  This was most dramatically 
demonstrated during the Gulf War.  With the United States and the Soviet 
Union working together, Saddam Hussein's radical challenge was 
decisively turned back.  Without Moscow's patronage, Saddam's "war 
option" proved to be no option at all.  America's overwhelming display 
of power, principle, and leadership helped to tilt the Middle East's 
balance of power toward moderation and toward an opportunity for 
reconciliation.

Had we let it rest there--had we left to others the job of turning 
opportunity into reality--last Monday's dramatic event might never have 
taken place.  Only America could have provided Arabs and Israelis the 
assurances they needed to go to Madrid and risk breaking the taboo on 
direct negotiations.

Upon his election, President Clinton immediately reaffirmed America's 
historic role and enduring strategic interest in Arab-Israeli peace.  He 
saw the opportunity for an historic breakthrough.  On the morning after 
the election, he vowed to make the pursuit of Middle East peace a top 
priority.  That is why he moved so quickly to gain the trust of key 
regional parties and to reaffirm America's unstinting support for 
Israel's security.  And that is why, for my first official trip abroad, 
he sent me to the Middle East.  His message was clear:  the United 
States was irrevocably committed to advancing the peacemaking process; 
to reinvigorating the negotiations; and to elevating America's role to 
that of full partner.

The President's efforts built upon the hard work of his predecessors.  
Our victories in the Cold War and in the Gulf created an environment in 
which peacemaking became possible.  Our intervention at key moments this 
year, to resolve crises over Palestinian deportees and over violence in 
Lebanon, salvaged the peace process when it teetered on the brink of 
collapse.  Throughout the last 22 months, under both Republican and 
Democratic Presidents, America's sustained political involvement--
whether in presenting a draft declaration of principles or in constantly 
pushing to define the parameters of the possible--set the stage for 
decision-making in the secret Oslo channel, for which we owe so much to 
the Norwegians.

In the end, of course, last Monday's triumph belongs to the parties 
themselves--to the Israeli and the Palestinian people--who reached out 
to each other.  And that is as it should be.  Indeed, the basic premise 
of the Madrid process has been that face-to-face negotiation between the 
parties is essential.  From the beginning, the United States has 
encouraged communication in as many different channels as possible--both 
formal and informal, public and private--with the understanding that the 
most durable solution would be one forged in direct negotiation.

It would be a great mistake if America were now to withdraw or shrink 
from its full and long-standing partnership in the peace process.  Our 
leadership is essential if this historic agreement is to realize its 
full potential.  Today, on behalf of President Clinton, I announce our 
intention to lead a wide-ranging effort not simply to give peace a 
chance, but to ensure that it will not fail.  Just as the United States 
organized a successful international coalition to wage war in the Gulf, 
we will now organize a new coalition--a coalition to breathe life into 
the Israeli-Palestinian Declaration.

As a first step, the United States will convene a Conference to Support 
Middle East Peace, building on the Madrid framework.  Secretary Bentsen 
and I, together with our Russian counterparts, will invite the 
Europeans, Japan, Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states, Canada, the Nordic 
countries and others--and, of course, the Israelis and the Palestinians.  
The World Bank will also be present, and it will play a leading role.

The purpose of this Conference will be to mobilize resources needed to 
make the agreement work.  The international community must move 
immediately to see that the agreement produces tangible improvements in 
the security and daily lives of Palestinians and Israelis.  If peace is 
to be achieved, the agreement must be translated into results quickly 
and vividly.

There are varying estimates of the resources required to start building 
an economic base in Gaza and the West Bank.  The World Bank's initial 
estimate is that $3 billion will be needed over the next 10 years.  All 
agree that we must take immediate steps to address the high rate of 
unemployment that robs families of hope and fuels extremism.  Housing, 
roads, and other permanent improvements must be developed quickly.  We 
must also act now to provide assistance in public administration, tax 
collection, and social services.

Given the number of our international partners, we are confident these 
needs can be met.  And we will stimulate these supporters by our own 
example.  Working with the Congress, we expect to assemble a two-year 
package worth $250 million.

In this vital effort, we must also involve the private sector.  A 
significant part of the initial U.S. package will include OPIC loans and 
guarantees to spur private sector involvement and economic growth.

There is another resource that America can and should provide.  At the 
White House last Monday, immediately after the signing ceremony, the 
President, the Vice President and I met with a group of Jewish- and 
Arab-Americans.  This was truly a unique and special event.  We were 
moved by their shared sense of hope and by their spirit of 
reconciliation.

We must draw on their talent, ingenuity, and goodwill.  In that spirit, 
the President will appoint a task force of Jewish- and Arab-Americans to 
help us develop joint projects and private investment in the region.  We 
also intend to name a senior coordinator for U.S. assistance--much as we 
have done in the case of the former Soviet Union.

Ladies and gentlemen:  the real barrier to peace between the Israelis 
and Palestinians--the psychological barrier--has already been breached.  
Compared to that obstacle, the resource challenge we face can surely be 
met.  I am convinced that we can succeed.

The implementation of the Israeli-Palestinian agreement represents only 
part of our larger task in the Middle East.  We must nurture a 
comprehensive reconciliation between Israel and the rest of the Arab 
world.  We must achieve a peace between the people of Israel and the 
peoples of Jordan, Syria and Lebanon.  In the recent round of bilateral 
negotiations between their governments, the discussions were serious and 
constructive.  Later this month, at the UN General Assembly, I will meet 
with my counterparts from Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, and Israel to try to 
keep these negotiations moving and to discuss further steps.  We will 
work tirelessly to ensure that all the children of the region can come 
to know, in President Clinton's words, "a season of peace."

Another aspect of our effort to promote comprehensive reconciliation is 
working to encourage our other Arab friends to act boldly in support of 
peace.  The core antagonists in this conflict have courageously opted 
for mutual recognition and an end to their state of war.  This bold step 
demands an equally bold response from their regional counterparts.  
Jordan's decision to sign a substantive agenda with Israel last Tuesday 
is a prime example.  The meeting that same day in Morocco between Prime 
Minister Rabin and King Hassan was also a promising first step that the 
United States applauds.  Other nations must also seize the moment for 
reconciliation.

Now that Israelis and Palestinians have agreed to work together to 
promote their economic well-being, it is illogical for Arab nations to 
continue their boycott of Israel.  Every moment the boycott remains in 
force, those responsible are punishing Palestinians as well as Israelis.

The boycott is a relic of the past.  It is a relic that should be 
relegated to history -- now.

There is more to peace than the signing of agreements and the gathering 
of resources.  There is a need for fundamental change in the hearts of 
these former antagonists.  The leaders of the region must exhort those 
who have used violence as a political tool to renounce it without 
reservation or exception.

It is also imperative that quick action be taken to remove other 
vestiges of a bygone era that only hinder reconciliation.  This means 
revoking, at the upcoming session of the UN General Assembly, those UN 
resolutions that challenge Israel's very right to exist.  It also means 
acting to approve unanimously Israel's credentials at this year's UN 
General Assembly.  And in the U.S. Congress, it means amending statutes 
that inhibit dealing with the PLO.

I reiterate a simple but profound truth:  only an Israel that is strong, 
confident, and secure can make peace.  Only an Israel that is certain of 
its strategic partnership with the United States can take the necessary 
risks.

On behalf of President Clinton and the American people, I re-state a 
long-standing pledge to the Israeli public:  As you and your leaders 
continue down the courageous path you have chosen, you should know that 
America's commitment to Israel's security and well-being will remain 
unshakable.

It is revealing that at this time when the entire world is praising last 
week's events, they are being denounced in places like Tehran, Baghdad, 
and Tripoli.  In response to such intemperate words, let me make clear 
that we remain committed to seeing that the forces of moderation in the 
region are stronger than the forces of extremism.

To all who are prepared to work with us in building a new Middle East of 
peace, security, and prosperity, I say:  you have a reliable and 
committed partner in the United States.  To those who would sow 
dissension, intolerance, and violence, I say this:  the United States, 
its friends, and its allies will take the necessary steps to ensure that 
you fail.

Reflections on America's Role This remarkable week for peace in the 
Middle East reminds us of the necessity for American leadership in the 
world -- especially in regions of vital interest to us.

My colleague Tony Lake will speak tomorrow at the Johns Hopkins School 
of Advanced International Studies.  He will address the broad outlines 
of our foreign policy.  His speech reflects broad policy discussions 
within the Administration, and I commend it to your attention.

Before concluding today, I want to comment briefly on two issues that 
have been the subject of recent public debate.  The first is whether 
America should pursue an activist foreign policy.  The second is whether 
America should act alone or together with other nations to protect our 
interests abroad.

The first issue is really the latest round in a century-old debate 
between engagement and isolationism.  The United States chooses 
engagement.  The alternative--neo-isolationism--can be reduced to a 
simple syllogism:  the Cold War is over; we won; let's go home and 
attend to our problems.  We must reject isolationism for the dangerous 
argument that it is.  We must renew our commitment to internationalism, 
which has served us so well for 50 years.

The pied pipers of isolationism misread the history of this century.  
They mistake the future of our economy.  They minimize the threats to 
our security.  And they misjudge the character of our people.

The end of the Cold War has not ended history.  Nor has it severed the 
links between Americans and the world.  But it has left the United 
States with a continuing responsibility -- and a unique capacity -- to 
provide leadership.

Why, you may ask, must we remain engaged?  First, because it is in our 
economic interest to do so.  We live in a technologically interconnected 
age.  Vast amounts of information and dollars can be transmitted around 
the world at the speed of light.  In such a world, how will we enhance 
our prosperity if we do not work to open and expand international 
markets?  How will we promote the global growth necessary to our 
prosperity if we do not successfully complete the Uruguay Round 
negotiations of the GATT?  And how will we create high-paying jobs for 
Americans if we are not willing to create export opportunities through 
NAFTA?

Second, we must remain active and assertive for the sake of our 
security.  Were it not for sustained American involvement over the last 
four decades, we would not be on the road to peace in the Middle East.  
American engagement is also essential in other regions where our vital 
interests are at stake.  Indeed, in key regions, the United States is 
the fulcrum on which peace and security rest.

If democracy reverts to dictatorship in the former Soviet Union, 
Americans are likely to pay a severe price in a revived nuclear threat 
and increased defense budgets.  If ethnic conflict in Europe widens; if 
security is threatened in Asia; if terrorism spreads; if the 
proliferation of weapons of mass destruction is not checked--if any of 
these things comes to pass--then our own security and ability to focus 
on domestic renewal will be directly put at risk.

In short, we must remain engaged not out of altruism, nor out of what 
one scholar has called the "imperial temptation," but because there are 
real American interests that will suffer if we are seduced by the 
isolationist myth.

The second issue under recent debate is whether America should exercise 
its power alone or with others--to use the customary jargon, 
unilaterally or multilaterally.  That issue, as framed, creates a false 
polarity.  It is not an "either-or" proposition.

The central purpose of our foreign policy is to ensure the security of 
our nation and the economic prosperity of our people -- and to promote 
democratic values.

In protecting those interests, the United States must maintain its 
military strength and reinvigorate its economy so that we can retain the 
option to act alone, when that is best for us.  Let no one doubt the 
resolve of the United States to protect its vital interests.

Yet in protecting our vital interests, we should not ignore the value of 
working with other nations.  From the Gulf War to the international 
campaign to aid democracy in Russia, we have seen how collective action 
can advance American foreign policy goals.  It can bolster our efforts 
to stem the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, to knock down 
barriers to global trade, and to protect the environment.  We have also 
seen that collective action requires--and cannot replace--American 
leadership.

No other nation possesses our military might, economic strength, and 
moral authority.  These assets give us the ability to act alone when 
necessary.  When appropriate, we can also leverage our might by sharing 
the burden with other nations.  But we should remember that our ability 
to generate effective multilateral responses will often depend upon our 
willingness to act alone.

We have seen in the Middle East a classic example of effective 
collective action--the Gulf War coalition organized by the United 
States.  We are now assembling a coalition for peace, much as we did for 
war.  Whether this new coalition succeeds as well as the last one will 
depend upon U.S. leadership and on a clear understanding that collective 
action is but one instrument that can serve peace.

Let me be clear:  multilateralism is a means, not an end.  It is one of 
the many foreign policy tools at our disposal.  And it is warranted only 
when it serves the central purpose of American foreign policy:  to 
protect American interests.  This country will never subcontract its 
foreign policy to another power or person.

While this largely tactical debate on the means of American engagement 
has proceeded, President Clinton has been meeting key foreign policy 
tests:  recognizing that domestic economic renewal is fundamental to 
America's foreign policy; mobilizing critical and timely support for 
Russian democracy as an essential investment in our national security; 
calling for a NATO Summit to adapt the Alliance to meet the security 
challenges of a new Europe; advancing a New Pacific Community while 
negotiating a new framework for our economic and trade relations with 
Japan; and leading the global effort to curb the proliferation of 
weapons of mass destruction.

 CONCLUSION I will suggest to you another measure of our leadership:  
how the world sees us.  Last week in Washington, Israeli Foreign 
Minister Shimon Peres paid an unusual tribute to our country.

In the history books, he said:

"Nobody will understand the United States . . . .  You have so much 
force and you didn't conquer the land of anybody.  You have so much 
power and you didn't dominate another people.  You have problems of your 
own and you have never turned your back on the problems of others."  And 
Shimon Peres said:  "Thank you so much for being what you are."

To those who question the need for American engagement, I say, ask 
Shimon Peres.

Let these indelible events of the past few years--the handshake at the 
White House; the Berlin Wall falling and the Soviet Union crumbling; 
Nelson Mandela walking out of prison to build a new South Africa--let 
all these point us toward asserting and not abdicating our international 
role.

Let that shining moment last week on the White House lawn light the way 
for a just and lasting peace in the Middle East--and illuminate the need 
for America's continued leadership in the world.

 MODERATOR:  Thank you, Mr. Secretary.  I'd like to thank you on behalf 
of all of us.  As Americans everywhere ponder and argue about the paths 
that lie ahead, all of us are grateful, sir, that you are at our foreign 
policy helm, someone of your experience, utmost integrity, and genuine 
wisdom.  We thank you, sir.

(Applause)

MODERATOR:  I noted at the outset that the Secretary has kindly agreed 
to take a few questions.  And in keeping with local house rules, I get 
to ask the first one.

Mr. Secretary, one of the consistent themes in the Administration's 
foreign policy -- and you touched on it today -- is the notion of 
multilateralism and, particularly, what Madeleine Albright has described 
as "assertive multinationalism."  With regard to "assertive 
multinationalism," it isn't clear whether our allies know exactly what 
that means or, if they do know what it means, whether they agree with 
it.  They sometimes give the appearance of using the principle of 
multilateralism to impede assertiveness.  Somalia and Bosnia both come 
to mind.

Would you have a comment on that, Mr. Secretary?

SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  Thank you very much.

Well, first, let me thank you for that very nice reception.  I 
appreciate it very much, and perhaps I ought to quit while I'm ahead.  
(Laughter)  But I won't.  (Laughter)

I think the principal reaction I have to that very good question is to 
say again what I said in my speech, and that is the importance of United 
States leadership.  One of the lessons of the first eight months in 
office is that although there are many opportunities for multilateral 
responses, very frequently they require the leadership of the United 
States.  Unless we show a determined leadership, in many instances 
others will not follow.

In addition, frequently, I think that having others share the burden 
with us comes about only if we're prepared to act alone.  I do not fault 
our allies -- each one of them has its own set of problems -- but it's a 
reminder of the role of the United States in the world that our 
leadership is necessary, in most instances, to carry out multilateral 
responsibilities.  As I said in my remarks, multilateralism is an 
important tool for us; but we always must be prepared to act alone when 
necessary, to provide leadership -- which will almost always be 
necessary to try to engage others in these endeavors where they have an 
interest and stake as well -- but not to forget the primary 
responsibility that the United States bears for our own security and 
well-being.

QUESTION:  Why hasn't the United States been more effective in stopping 
the genocide in Bosnia?

SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  Well, that's a question that almost always 
comes, and it's certainly something that has been central to our 
concerns over the last eight months.

Let me say several things to you about that.

First, we were dealt a fairly bad hand.  I doubt that anyone would say 
that this matter could not have been handled better if it was handled in 
l992 rather than 1993.  But we are in office, and my policy of not 
whining about matters doesn't cause me to dwell on that.

Second, I think that it's a worthwhile thing that some mistakes have 
been made over the period of time.  Looking back on it, the arms 
embargo, which was adopted unanimously, had quite an unintended effect.  
The law of unintended consequences has never been more directly 
illustrated than here, for the arms embargo froze in a tremendous 
imbalance in favor of the Serbs.

I think it was also probably a mistake for the West -- and I mean all of 
the West -- to have clung so long to the artificiality of Yugoslavia as 
an entity.  In some instances, rhetoric got ahead of what the realistic 
choices were.

Coming down to the United States and why we have not been more 
effective, I would say that a fundamental decision was taken, and that 
was that we could not force a decision on the parties without imposing 
costs that we were not prepared to take.  The imposition of a solution 
on the parties there would probably  have required a massive use of 
large amounts of U.S. force, and President Clinton decided early on that 
United States national interest would not warrant the use of large 
amounts of American ground troops, which would have been necessary to 
impose a decision.

Now, in the context of that decision -- that is, our unwillingness to 
unilaterally take the steps necessary to impose a decision -- the United 
States has done, I think, a number of significant things.  Our 
humanitarian effort has no doubt saved many lives in that terrible 
situation.  We've flown in more than ten million meals.  Daily, planes 
are taking food and other equipment into Sarajevo.

We led the way to a "no-fly" zone.  We were very active in causing NATO 
for the first time to be prepared to take action so-called "out of area" 
-- that is, to threaten air strikes, which I think has had a favorable 
effect with respect to somewhat reducing the pressure on Sarajevo.  We 
sponsored the  War Crimes Tribunal at the United Nations.

So we have taken a number of steps, but I would be quick to say that 
they've not by any means been satisfactory.  I hope that we'll be seeing 
a settlement in that troubled area in the relatively near future.  
Negotiations are proceeding very rapidly, and I hope they'll come to a 
favorable conclusion.

Perhaps the most important thing for us to do is to try to learn the 
lessons from that experience.  As I say, it has not been a textbook 
operation for the West as a whole, and as we go into this fall -- as we 
approach the NATO summit and the other meetings with our allies -- I 
think we must ask ourselves how to avoid a repetition of the tragic 
situation that has occurred in Bosnia and how we can take steps now to 
minimize the effect of this tragedy.

QUESTION:  Mr. Secretary, what U.S. vital interests are at stake in 
Somalia that are not also at stake in the Sudan?

SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  Let me first talk for a minute or two about 
Somalia.  As you know, President Bush ordered our forces into Somalia 
last year.  The first phase of that operation -- that is, the 
humanitarian phase for which the United States was responsible -- I 
think can be judged a very considerable success.  Hundreds of thousands 
of lives were saved.  Order was restored in much of the country except 
for south Mogadishu.  

Now, we are in the transition to the second phase of nation-building 
there, which is a stage for which the United Nations has responsibility.

The transition from Phase I to Phase II is not a sharply demarked line, 
but I think that the United States is going about making that.  As 
President Clinton said last Friday, we think it's time for a new 
political initiative.  So I wanted to lay before you my view about 
Somalia before turning to the Sudan.

Sudan is a situation where there are very serious humanitarian problems, 
very grave human rights violations.  But a fundamental difference is 
that there is still a government in the Sudan.  There's a government 
that maintains some degree of control over the people of the country, 
and I think that the international community must try to work with that 
government to try to bring it back to the point of not depriving the 
country as a whole of food and sustenance.

I see distinctions between the two areas.  I also see distinctions as to 
the possibilities of effective international action.  But I do not in 
any way underestimate the importance of the situation in the Sudan.  
It's something that we're going to be watching, dealing with, and seeing 
if we can be helpful.  But at the present time the Government of Sudan 
has taken such an extreme set of views that the United States has 
relatively little basis for taking action there, and we can only appeal 
to the world community to try to put pressure on the Government of Sudan 
to deal with the humanitarian problems, especially in south Sudan.

QUESTION:  The Administration wants to advance the cause of human rights 
in China.  But to do that, are you prepared to put our overall 
relationship with China at risk?

SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  The situation in China is one that has been a 
matter of great concern to us through the eight months that we've been 
in office.

As you know, the President agreed to condition Most Favored Nation 
treatment for China on improvements in the human rights field, and so 
we're going through a year of important watching and testing.  The 
President is committed to evaluate the matter again, in the late spring 
of next year, and determine whether or not Most Favored Nation treatment 
will be recommended for China again next year.

We have important relationships with China.  China, of course, is one of 
the important emerging powers in the world, and our relationships with 
them are many.  We have deep trade relationships with them.  They are a 
principal trading partner; and, of course, they have a tremendous trade 
surplus with the United States.

We are going to be following the human rights situation very carefully.  
I think, to answer the question directly, I think the President's action 
in conditioning Most Favored Nation treatment on improvement in the 
human rights field indicates that we're prepared to engage with them 
very significantly to see human rights improvements.  We've seen some 
modest improvements in the release of dissidents in the last few days.  
On the other hand, there have been a number of steps taken by China 
since the President took his decision that will cause us to look at the 
situation very carefully.  It's a period, as I say, of testing and 
watching.

Thank you all very much.  You've been a wonderful audience.  I wish I 
could stay longer.

(###)

To the top of this page