U.S. Department of State 96/06/17 Interview on PBS-TV- "The Newshour with Jim Lehrer" Office of the Spokesman U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE Office of the Spokesman ____________________________________________________________________ For Immediate Release June 17, 1996 INTERVIEW OF SECRETARY OF STATE WARREN CHRISTOPHER ON PBS-TV - "THE NEWSHOUR WITH JIM LEHRER" Washington, D.C. June 17, 1996 MR. LEHRER: Now to the Secretary of State, Warren Christopher, who is with us for a "Newsmaker" interview. Mr. Secretary, welcome. SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER: Good evening, Jim. MR. LEHRER: How do you read these Russian election results, sir? SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER: Jim, it was a very exciting day in Russia yesterday and the day before for Russians. As the President said, this is the first time in 1,000 years that the Russians have chosen their leader. So I think that's the dominant reaction I had. The 70 percent turnout -- your excellent report from Moscow said that was disappointing, but by our standards it's a very, very good turnout. So it was a very good day for democracy. MR. LEHRER: We have normally barely 50 percent. SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER: Exactly. MR. LEHRER: Right. SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER: So it was a very good day for democracy. Now you're going to find what Americans will recognize -- when there's a runoff election, both the parties in the runoff assiduously court the people who didn't make the runoff, and I think that's a very natural thing to be going on. It is really quite a robust democracy, and that's what struck me. MR. LEHRER: Do you think Yeltsin's going to pull it out? SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER: Jim, I've been in this job almost four years, and you've been in your job even longer. I'm unlikely to offer a prediction for that on your show tonight. I don't want to disappoint you. MR. LEHRER: But what are the factors that you read into these results that Yeltsin must now overcome if he is in fact going to win re- election? SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER: Jim, I don't want to try to advise President Yeltsin, but let me tell you what our interests are in that election. MR. LEHRER: All right. SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER: We have a very strong interest in continuing our military cooperation with Russia. That military cooperation, or cooperation in the security field, has led to a great lessening of the nuclear threat to the United States. It's led to our cooperation in Bosnia. So we'd like to see a situation that would continue that interest. We also have a strong interest in continuing our foreign policy cooperation -- cooperation that enabled Russian troops to be withdrawn from the Baltics, enabled us to work together with the Ukraine to make sure that Ukraine did not retain a nuclear capacity. We are also anxious to see internal reform continued there. From the standpoint of the United States, I think it is those issues which we ought to watch as this campaign unfolds. MR. LEHRER: But Zyuganov, if he wins, all the things that are in the U.S. interests would be in jeopardy, would they not, sir? SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER: That's a little broader than I would be prepared to go, but I would say this, Jim. There are some troubling things in Mr. Zyuganov's program. For example, a couple of months ago I was in Ukraine the day that the Duma, led by Zyuganov's party, adopted a provision that would basically reinstitute the Soviet Union, take back the countries into the Soviet Union. That caused great fear in Ukraine and I'm sure all the other countries that are now independent republics. So we do have some problems with Zyuganov's platform. I think it's only candid of me to say so. MR. LEHRER: Is it correct to say, Mr. Secretary, that in spite of those great interests that we have in the outcome of that election, there's not a thing that we can do about it over these next two weeks between now and July the 3rd? SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER: This will be a decision for the Russian people to make. They'll see the candidates campaigning very vigorously. We'll have to continue our contacts with the Russian Government. We have to deal with the government in power. Even in a two-week period, there are a number of things we'll be doing with this Russian Government -- not to influence the election but simply in our own interests. For example, President Yeltsin will be at Lyon for the industrial summit. We continue to work with them on a day-to-day basis -- MR. LEHRER: That's the end of the month. SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER: Yes, sir. Just before the next election, before the the runoff. We continue to work with them on a day-to-day basis on a Comprehensive Test-Ban Treaty. That really is going to come into focus in the next few days. So there are a number of things we need to do to stay in touch with the Russian Government during this period but certainly not to try to pick a candidate. That would be a very foolish thing for us to do. That's for the Russian people. MR. LEHRER: All right. So the other big news of the day was the trade deal with China. What happened? What caused this deal to come off at the last minute? SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER: Jim, I think it's a product in part of our continuing engagement with the Chinese. We have invested a lot of our time and effort, and it turns out we have an ability to talk with them when we have a serious problem. Last year, as you know, we negotiated a structural agreement with them with respect to intellectual property rights. That agreement was not adequately enforced during the course of the year, and so we went to them and told them unless there were some more specific enforcement measures, we were going to have to impose sanctions. They've done a great deal and they promised a great deal but with some backup to assure us that there will be enforcement now. For example, they closed 15 compact disk factories that have been making these pirated compact discs. That's a big step forward. More than half their production has already been closed, and they've committed to close the rest of it. They're going to go an enforcement campaign in Guangdong Province, the main province where this piracy has been going on. They've taken a series of steps, as your listeners heard Laura Tyson say, to assure us that there will be real enforcement this time around. So I think it's an indication that we can do business with the Chinese when we focus on a particular issue as we were able to in the non- proliferation area. MR. LEHRER: Why does this kind of thing keep happening with the Chinese, where we seem to be on the brink of some terrible trade war or some terrible breach in relations, and at the last minute it all gets resolved. Is this just the pattern of the relationship? SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER: These are two very big countries. Their country is undergoing such dramatic change. It's a transition in their government, but also dramatic growth in the economy. I think they would say that there are some aspects of their economy that are not fully within their control. That may be part of the problem that we witness here. But I'd have to say there's a negotiating style. They seem to be quite addicted to doing things at the very last moment, which keeps our trade negotiators up nights. Charlene Barshefsky, who I think did an excellent job, negotiated day and night for the last couple of days. MR. LEHRER: In this particular case did the United States give up anything? Most negotiations, both sides give up something. Did we give up anything to make this deal, or did the Chinese do all the giving? SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER: Jim, this was a question of whether they'd enforce an agreement that they carried out last year -- MR. LEHRER: Which was a general agreement, right? SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER: That's a general agreement. This is a much more specific agreement with much better monitoring provisions. What we gave up was our imposing $2 billion of sanctions. Those sanctions would have hurt us in a sense, and they would have produced some countersanctions on the part of the Chinese. So I think this is a much better result. But we would not have gone this route unless we got a good result. I think through our negotiations we were able to achieve a good result -- with the closing of all of those factories, with this campaign of enforcement, with stronger border enforcement -- than we would have had without [them]. MR. LEHRER: Should this be read, Mr. Secretary, as a giant step in improving overall relations with China, or just as one deal about piracy? SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER: It's a little broader than that, Jim. Since the first of the year, we've taken a number of important steps with the Chinese. The tensions have been defused considerably in the Taiwan Straits, although that problem remains. We have worked our way through the bearing magnet problem and have reached a conclusion satisfactory to us on that. MR. LEHRER: Explain that to me quickly. SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER: That was a proliferation issue where we detected that they had sent out of the country some $70,000 in a particular kind of bearings. They sent them to Pakistan. We felt that was a violation. We went to them. They convinced us that that was not known at the highest levels; it was not willful. But, more important than that, they gave us a commitment not to do it again, and they gave us ways to assure ourselves that it would not be done again. Finally, the President has indicated that we would seek approval of the Most-Favored-Nation treatment again this year. The President has indicated to Congress that he intended to give that, so that's the fourth important step that we've taken with respect to U.S.-China relations. We'll continue to have problems with China. It's a big, evolving country with a different form of government than ours, but the important thing for us to do is to stay engaged, to be in a situation where we can work through our problems rather than turning them into crises -- either trade crises or security crises. MR. LEHRER: Finally, the Middle East. There was a report on the wires this afternoon that you're going to the Middle East next week. Is that true? SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER: Jim, the plans have not been firmed up, but Prime Minister-elect Netanyahu has invited me to come out there after he's had his government put together. It looks like he'll put a government together in the next couple of days, so I probably have some travel plans in my future out there again, but there are no definite plans at the moment. MR. LEHRER: What do you make of the statements over the weekend from Netanyahu that land-for-peace with Syria is just not something that he is in favor of? SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER: Jim, until I have a chance to talk with him face-to-face over time, I think it would be premature to speculate on things that have been said in the last couple of days. I talked to him a couple of times on the telephone, but we need to sit down together to talk about where the peace process has gone to this point; what his plans are. He's indicated he wants to continue the peace process. He said he wanted to negotiate with Syria without preconditions. So I think we have to fit that all into the broader mosaic of where this new Prime Minister intends to try to take the peace process. He'll be coming here to meet with the President after we've had a series of meetings -- my going there and his coming here. I'll be in a better position to say, but right now I wouldn't want to say. MR. LEHRER: There's been much said in this country since the election, since the election of Netanyahu, that he and others in charge of the Israeli Government must understand that the United States has an interest in peace in the Middle East that goes beyond Israel's -- in addition to Israel's, in addition to the Arabs'. Has that been transmitted to Netanyahu? Do you think he understands that the U.S. has an interest as well? SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER: I'm sure he understands that. As I say, we haven't had a talk with him. But over the last three years there have been dramatic developments there. Israel has made peace treaties with Jordan, and they've made a number of agreements with the Palestinians. They've also been able to open up diplomatic relations with a number of countries there. So the landscape has changed greatly. We've helped that landscape change. In the course of that, we've reached cetain understandings with the countries in the region. We know that they've done this. On the other hand, our enduring interest is in the security of Israel, and we'll not compromise that in any way. But I hope we can harmonize the progress that's been made, to try to make sure the momentum continues with the new Administration. As I say, I look forward to talking with him about that, and I know the President looks forward to talking with him as well. MR. LEHRER: Is one of your reasons for going so soon after the government has formed to emphasize that "Hey, look, Mr. Netanyahu, we have an interest here, too, and let's talk about it," -- before he does anything? SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER: He invited me to come after his government was put together. I think it's quite functional for me to meet with him before he comes here, and so I think that will affect the timing of my visit. He plans to come here shortly after our July 4th holiday, so I think I want to get out there before that so he and I can try to make his visit here the most productive. MR. LEHRER: Mr. Secretary, thank you very much. SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER: Thank you, Jim. (###)