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U.S. Department of State
93/12/16 Interview on PBS-TV "MacNeil/Lehrer Newshour"
Office of the Spokesman

Office of the Spokesman
For Immediate Release                         December 16, 1993


Washington, D.C.

MS. MARGARET WARNER:  We start tonight with a "Newsmaker" interview with 
the Secretary of State, Warren Christopher.

Welcome, Mr. Secretary.

SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  Thank you, Margaret.  It's nice to see you 

MS. WARNER:  Thanks for being with us.  Bobby Inman, today, at his press 
conference, made a point of saying he was an old friend of yours.  Tell 
us what new and different will he bring to the Clinton foreign policy 
team as Secretary of Defense?

SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  Well, we are friends, and I'm delighted that 
he's going to join the foreign policy team.

First, he's a very strong person, a no-nonsense person, so he will bring 
that attitude to the discussions.  I think he brings three perspectives.  
You know, he has a brilliant military record.  He was the youngest 
three-star admiral in history, I think, and then a four-star admiral.  
He went right to the top of the intelligence business, and he also has 
had significant business experience, which he noted today at the White 
House.  So I think he will bring those three perspectives to our 
discussion plus a razor-sharp mind.

MS. WARNER:  And do you think he will bring any policy changes or a new 
policy direction in any way?

SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  It's the President's policy that we are 
following.  I think he will be very effective in helping us examine the 
alternatives and implementing the policy, but I wouldn't expect any 
immediate policy changes.

MS. WARNER:  Of course, Secretary Aspin came into the job also with 
riding very high expectations and hopes.  What went wrong?

SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  Secretary Aspin did an excellent job.  He 
contributed very highly to our endeavors.  I will certainly miss him, so 
I wouldn't say anything went wrong.

The President and Secretary Aspin had a discussion, and Secretary Aspin 
told him that he desired to leave at the present time, and I don't have 
anything to add to that.

MS. WARNER:  After the problems that developed in the policies of 
Somalia and Haiti and Bosnia, and there was, of course, a lot of 
Congressional criticism of the entire team, does the team operate any 
differently now?  Have you changed the way you interact with one another 
or with the President?

SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  I think you always learn things as you go along 
in these jobs.  I think we've learned that whenever American soldiers 
are going to be involved abroad, or sailors or other servicemen, it 
takes a very special justification for that and you have to operate with 
great care and precision.

We've been reminded of that.  We've been reminded of the great concern 
the American people have for all servicemen, so I think we're operating 
in that sense.

One of the things I'd emphasize to you, Margaret, is that we've had a 
very successful foreign policy I think on the major issues.  We've 
worked through a number of major issues.  On the economic security 
issues, we've had, really, a triple play over the last month.  I think 
on other issues such as Russia and Europe and the Middle East and on 
Asia, we've done very well.  So I think on the big ones, we've 
essentially been right.

MS. WARNER:  Before we move on to those policy areas, I just wanted to 
ask you one more thing about the team and your role in it.  Senator Nunn 
said today that he had been having extensive conversations, or, as he 
said, candid discussions with the President about the whole foreign 
policy team, not just the Defense post.  So I have to ask you, are you 
planning to stay in your job?

SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  Absolutely, I'm planning to stay, and I'm 
looking forward to staying.

MS. WARNER:  Have you had any discussions with the President about 

SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  I haven't had any discussions with the President 
about leaving.  I talk with him about foreign policy regularly.  I'm in 
contact with him regularly; and, of course, we discuss the pros and 
cons, things that have gone right and things that should have gone 
better.  I think that's very natural.  It would be unusual if that 
didn't happen.

MS. WARNER:  Do you think this is the last change in the senior foreign 
policy team that we're going to see for the coming months?

SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  I think so, but that's up to the President, 
isn't it?

MS. WARNER:  Yes, of course.  As you said, Russia, of course, has been 
one area in which you feel the Clinton Administration policy has been 
very effective.  After Sunday's election results, are you any less 
sanguine about either the prospects for reform there or U.S. policy?

SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  I think U.S. policy is right on target.  We need 
to continue it to support the reform and the reformers.

As far as the prospects of carrying it out, Margaret, you know, reform 
was never going to be easy in Russia.  The changes are really cosmic 
there.  You move from a command economy to a free market economy.  You 
move from the communist system to a democratic system.  No wonder it's a 
traumatic thing for the Russian people.

What I see happening in Russia is a new need for President Yeltsin to 
exert leadership, to build coalitions.  He has gotten approval of the 
constitution, a very strong constitution, giving strong executive 
authority.  In order to sustain the progress that's already been made 
and to further it, he's going to have to build coalitions within the 
parliament.  He's got a good start in doing that now.  The results are 

I've been urging people to keep their powder dry for some days.  Let's 
wait until the counts are really in.  I think some people who made 
earlier judgments about reform having gone down the drain are now having 
to revise their judgments.

MS. WARNER:  But isn't it still the case that even with these new 
returns that if you took the three most conservative -- these terms 
don't mean anything anymore -- but parties -- Zhirinovskiy's, but also 
the agrarian party and the communists, they still outnumber the pro-
reform forces, don't they?

SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  Yes.  The pro-reform forces would be numerically 
the largest but they will not have a majority.  They will be about one-
third.  There's no reason to assume that the other parties will be a 
bloc voting against the pro-reform parties.  That's why I say, I think 
there's going to have to be some coalition-building.

Frankly, I think the reformers in Russia needed to have a wake-up call 
and they got it here, and I expect them to work hard now in the 
parliament to build coalitions with the various parties and to find 
common ground.

MS. WARNER:  Do you think this new parliament could be more troublesome 
to Yeltsin than the last one?

SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  It's a freely elected parliament.  I think with 
the constitution and the strength that he has as an executive under the 
constitution, and with the parliament just 

having been elected, I think there's real promise to move ahead.  I 
wouldn't like to make comparisons with one against another; but the good 
thing about this parliament was it was elected in free and open 
elections, and I think that's what we ought to believe in and that's 
what we ought to work with.

MS. WARNER:  But that also gives them more legitimacy and standing, of 


MS. WARNER:  But it sounds as if you're saying you would encourage -- 
yet you are encouraging Yeltsin to be less confrontational and more 
coalition building with this new group.

SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  I think he needs to build coalitions.  This is 
not the fault of President Yeltsin, but the fact that the reformer 
groups were fighting with each other and running the campaigns against 
each other turns out to be a rather sad mistake for them to have made.  
They should have worked with each other and called attention to people 
like Zhirinovskiy and others.

MS. WARNER:  Let me ask you now about what pressures you think Yeltsin 
will be under.  First on the economic side, what do you think he'll 
really be pushed to do, or what policies pushed to change in the 
economic sphere?

SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  I think that he'll need to give more 
consideration to the pain that's been inflicted by these major changes.  
Perhaps not President Yeltsin, but some of his younger economic 
reformers were perhaps not adequately concerned about how these policies 
were playing out with the man in the street, and that's what I think 
they need to be concerned about -- seeing how the policies are effective 
on the ground and making sure that the people see some real benefits; 
that this isn't just a theoretical thrust, but it's a practical thrust 
for the people.

MS. WARNER:  But does that mean a slowdown in the pace of economic 

SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  It may perhaps mean an adjustment to make sure 
that the reforms are effective out in the cities of the country.  I'm 
not sure it means a slowdown.  Perhaps it just means an attunement to 
make sure that there is more concern for the effect on the people.

MS. WARNER:  But would the Clinton Administration be sympathetic if 
Boris Yeltsin were to say to you, "Look, I just can't proceed as quickly 
as I expected with privatization or shutting down inefficient state 

SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  We're for reform.  We're for the reformers. I 
think it's their program to carry out.  And as long as they're 
proceeding along those lines, as long as 

they're committed to democracy and free markets, we're going to support 
them.  That's where the United States interest is.

MS. WARNER:  And how about in the foreign policy area again?  What kind 
of pressures do you think President Yeltsin will be under to change 

SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  I was very reassured that yesterday he told the 
Vice President -- that is, Vice President Gore -- that they were 
maintaining their policies of the territorial integrity of all the Newly 
Independent States.  The talk there in Russia that Russia would try to 
expand its borders and go back to a country of the prior size of the 
Soviet Union I think is something that I was very glad to see President 
Yeltsin say was not going to happen.

But those pressures may well be there from some of the elements within 
the parliament that have illusions of former grandeur.  So that will be 
one pressure that he'll be under, but I think President Yeltsin is the 
best one to resist those pressures.  You know, under the constitution he 
is given very strong foreign policy powers.  That's one of the potent 
things about the constitution.  Actually, it has many similarities to 
the United States Constitution in that respect.

MS. WARNER:  But there are no checks and balances in this constitution, 
as we know them.

SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  They're not the same kind that we have here.  On 
the other hand, the parliament can pass laws, and he would have to veto 
them, and then would the veto be sustained.  So there is that kind of a 
check and balance system.

MS. WARNER:  Going back to the foreign policy, apparently, according to 
the returns, a lot of the military did vote for Zhirinovskiy.  This part 
of the Clinton Administration's sort of overtures and openings to Russia 
has been to have contacts with the military.

Do these results shake your confidence at all in what the military's 
intentions are, what they really need to do in some of these states of 
the former Soviet Union in which they're dabbling or offering their 
peacekeeping services?

SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  I think there's a big transition for the Russian 
military.  They were riding so high.  They were such a powerful force in 
that country and in that economy, and now so many of them are being 
mustered out of service, and they come back with no jobs and many of 
them with no homes.  So it's not surprising, I think, that they are a 
rather discordant element in policy there at the present time.

But I think that really vindicates the United States' policies of trying 
to help with the transition of the military officers from military back 
to civilian life, and we're going to continue to do that.

MS. WARNER:  Of course, the Czechs and the Poles and the Hungarians are 
looking at Sunday's election results and saying it just proves that 
imperial ambitions are still alive in the hearts of many Russians, as 
well as some of the Russian military, and want to get into NATO.

After the Sunday election results, does it make you any more prepared to 
offer them a concrete process for actually becoming members?

MS. WARNER:  Margaret, you know, the Sunday election underscores to me 
the great value of the Partnership for Peace proposal that we're putting 
forward.  It does a number of things.  First, it provides an opportunity 
for the expansion of NATO but on a sequential, evolutionary basis.

It also provides a kind of a security arrangement under which any 
country that's part of a Partnership for Peace can call for consultation 
with NATO if they feel threatened in any way.

I think that the Partnership for Peace is the best answer to a number of 
the conflicting pressures that exist in Europe right now.  It's 
significant to me that all 16 members of NATO find this plan to be a 
very good answer to the problems there, and I think the countries of 
Central Europe ought to participate in the Partnership for Peace; that 
we ought to try to get it operational as soon as we possibly can so 
there can be joint planning and joint exercises.  I think that's the way 
they need to demonstrate their capacity to possibly be a member of NATO 

MS. WARNER:  But, I mean, they say that essentially you're giving Moscow 
a veto over their membership, and that what they need is both the symbol 
and the reality that they're part of this common defense pact.  Are you 
giving Moscow a veto?

SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  Certainly not at all.  That will be a decision 
made by the 16 countries of NATO.  But I doubt that anybody within NATO 
thinks that any of those countries is ready for membership at the 
present time.

NATO is not a social club.  It's a very powerful military alliance, and 
before we extend NATO, move it out, make that security blanket effective 
in other countries, I think the other countries are going to have to 
demonstrate that they can contribute to NATO.

After all, it's a reciprocal arrangement, and I think the way they can 
demonstrate that they can contribute to NATO is through participating in 
the Partnership for Peace.

MS. WARNER:  Before we end, Mr. Secretary, let me ask you briefly about 
North Korea.  The President said, I think in early November, "We will 
not allow the North Koreans to develop a nuclear bomb."  Yet Sunday, on 
"Meet the Press," Secretary 

Aspin seemed to be saying, "Well, they probably already have one, but we 
don't think they're working on any others."

Is the U.S. backing away or trying to down play now this threat?  What 
is your assessment of the threat?

MS. WARNER:  Margaret, I'm not sure that that's what Secretary Aspin 
said precisely on Sunday.  But let me tell you this:  We're pressing the 
North Koreans very hard to permit the kind of inspections that will 
enable us to determine whether or not they have a nuclear weapon.

We're encouraging them.  Indeed, we're insisting that they engage in 
conversations with South Korea which can ensure that there is a non-
nuclear peninsula -- the Korean Peninsula is non-nuclear.  That's the 
direction that we're going.  That is what our policy is.

We do not want to tolerate any nuclear weapons in the Korean Peninsula.  
Our policy is designed, first, to determine whether or not they have any 
nuclear weapons, and then to ensure that we can understand what the 
situation is there on the ground.

MS. WARNER:  That's all the time we have.  Thank you, Mr. Secretary, for 
being with us.



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