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U.S. Department of State
96/07/18 Opening Remarks at Regional Media Foreign Policy Town Meeting
Office of the Spokesman



 
                       U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE 
                        Office of the Spokesman 
 
_____________________________________________________________________
As Prepared for Delivery                                July 18, 1996 
 
                         OPENING REMARKS BY 
               SECRETARY OF STATE WARREN CHRISTOPHER 
       AT U.S. FOREIGN POLICY TOWN MEETING FOR REGIONAL MEDIA 
 
                         Department of State 
                          Washington, D.C. 
 
 
Good morning and welcome to the Department of State.  We are all shocked 
and deeply saddened this morning by the crash last night of the TWA jet 
off Long Island.  I want to send my sympathy and heartfelt condolences 
to the families and friends of all of the victims of that terrible 
tragedy.  The appropriate investigations are underway with dispatch and 
determination.  I know you'll understand that I cannot comment beyond 
that at this point.  It would not be responsible for me to speculate 
about the reasons or causes for this tragedy. 
 
Today's meeting is part of a major public outreach program that we have 
undertaken over the last three years.  This year alone, we are 
organizing 23 town meetings in cities from Anchorage to Boston.  At each 
one, a group of senior officials spend a day speaking about the critical 
challenges the United States faces around the world -- all as part of 
making sure American foreign policy is not foreign to the American 
people.  At these meetings, we've also made a special effort to reach 
out to the regional media.  After all, that is how the vast majority of 
Americans get their news. 
 
At each event, the response has been tremendous.  It has reinforced my 
view that most Americans want to engage in a serious discussion of 
America's role in the world, a discussion that looks beyond superficial 
soundbites.  It has also confirmed what many public opinion surveys have 
found:  the American people have a deep commitment to purposeful and 
principled American leadership.  Indeed, on some issues, the public is 
ahead of its leaders in Washington. 
 
The American people measure the success of the Administration's foreign 
policy in a straightforward way:  Has it made our nation more secure and 
more prosperous than it was three and a half years ago?  Has it advanced 
our values?  I am convinced the answer is yes.  Let me tell you what we 
have achieved in four areas of central concern to the United States.  In 
doing so, I hope to provide a framework for some of the discussions to 
follow. 
 
First, I believe we have been effective in pursuing peace and stability 
in regions of vital interest to the United States.  American diplomacy 
backed by the use of force stopped the killing in Bosnia, eliminating 
the threat it posed to European stability, and reaffirming the strength 
of NATO and our partnership with Europe.  The challenges we face in 
Bosnia today are the challenges of peace, not of war.  The coalition we 
have assembled, which includes troops from Russia and central Europe 
along with NATO forces, is also helping us advance our strategy for 
preventing future conflicts in a more integrated Europe. 
 
That strategy has made tremendous progress.  NATO's Partnership for 
Peace is already bringing Europe together.  Plans for expansion of the 
Alliance have come a long way since President Clinton proposed it in 
1994.  The progress we have made toward an integrated Europe should give 
every American confidence -- confidence that conflicts like the war in 
Bosnia can be deterred, confidence that the democratic revolutions in 
central and eastern Europe will endure, confidence that our troops will 
never again have to fight a major war on the continent where this 
century's two world wars ignited. 
 
In the Asia-Pacific region, we are promoting peace and stability by 
maintaining 100,000 troops, with the strong support of our Asian allies.  
We have put our core alliance with Japan on an even stronger footing.  
North Korea's nuclear program, which posed an immediate and dire threat 
when we came to office, is on its way to the scrap heap.  The 
President's decision to dispatch a naval force to the Taiwan Strait last 
March helped to reduce the dangerous tensions between Taipei and 
Beijing.  
 
In the Middle East, American diplomacy has helped to transform the 
landscape.  Palestinians in Gaza and in most of the cities of the West 
Bank now govern themselves, and their elected leaders cooperate with 
Israel to fight terror.  Israel has made peace with Jordan and forged 
diplomatic and economic contacts with many countries in the Arab world.  
The agreements already reached are a strategic asset for the United 
States and the countries of the region.  At a time of transition and 
challenge, we are determined to work with Israel and our Arab partners 
to preserve what has been achieved and to build upon these gains.  
 
In our hemisphere, too, the United States has been an effective force 
for stability.  In Haiti, our troops came in peace and left on time 
after restoring democratic rule, stopping the exodus of refugees, and 
upholding the principle that democracy cannot be overturned with 
impunity.  In South America, our diplomacy helped to end the conflict 
between Peru and Ecuador, and to turn back threats to democracy in 
Guatemala and Paraguay. 
 
Turning to a second area of achievement, we have given high priority to 
maintaining constructive relations with the world's major powers.  I've 
already mentioned Europe and Japan, but we have also strengthened our 
cooperation with Russia and China, at a time when both countries are 
undergoing vast and difficult transitions. 
 
Two weeks ago, Russia passed a critical milestone in its development as 
a stable democracy.  We have long understood that Russia's road to 
reform would be long and hard.  But President Yeltsin's re-election 
means the Russian people remain determined to move forward, despite the 
hardships they have endured.  The democratic process itself is 
transforming Russia.  With each passing day, it makes a return to the 
repressive past less likely, and it has opened immense opportunities for 
our two countries.  We are seizing those opportunities, for example, to 
reduce our nuclear arsenals, to fight nuclear proliferation and 
smuggling, and to work for peace in Bosnia and the Middle East. 
 
We have also restored positive momentum to our engagement with China, 
after going through a difficult period in our relations.  We have 
reached practical agreements to control nuclear proliferation and to 
protect American intellectual property.  We will continue to encourage 
this powerful nation to pursue its modernization in ways that contribute 
to the overall security and prosperity of the region. 
 
Third, in 1993, the President said that we would put economic policy at 
the center of our foreign policy, and we have.  The result has been a 
series of landmark trade agreements and commitments that will benefit 
every American company that depends on exports and the millions of 
workers those companies employ.  The record includes NAFTA, the GATT 
Uruguay Round, the Miami commitment to achieve free and open trade in 
our hemisphere by 2005, and the APEC commitment to the same in the Asia-
Pacific by 2020.  It includes 21 market opening agreements with Japan.  
The President's decision to help Mexico recover from its economic crisis 
was a clear example of Presidential leadership against the grain, and I 
think it will be seen as one of the best decisions he has made. 
 
Just as important has been our ability to put our own economic house in 
order.  In my first months as Secretary, our allies were constantly 
reminding us of the need to tackle our budget deficit and its adverse 
effect on the world economy.  We have made tremendous progress.  At last 
month's G-7 summit in Lyon, it was clear that our economy is now the 
envy of the world, and this has strengthened our credibility to a marked 
degree.  That is a graphic illustration of the seamless relationship 
between domestic and foreign policy. 
 
Fourth, the President has recognized that the growing openness and 
interdependence of the world system, which brings such great benefits, 
is also creating a new set of dangers for our nation, dangers such as 
international crime, terrorism, drug trafficking, damage to the 
environment, and proliferation.  President Clinton has put the fight 
against these threats at the center of our foreign policy.  I have 
personally placed the fight against terrorism -- and against the states 
that sponsor terror -- at the top of the State Department's agenda.  We 
have made it clear that the United States will not be intimidated by 
terrorist attacks. At the President's initiative, the Lyon summit 
adopted a package of 40 specific recommendations to fight international 
crime and terror.   
 
I have also made it a personal priority to integrate America's 
environmental objectives into the work of the State Department and our 
diplomacy abroad. 
 
Under the President's leadership, we are also protecting the American 
people from the threat of nuclear proliferation.  The last nuclear 
warheads have now left Ukraine under our Trilateral Agreement with that 
nation and Russia.  Those that remain in Russia are no longer targeted 
at our cities and homes.  Last year, the United States helped secure the 
indefinite extension of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.  Since 
every country in the world had a vote on the NPT, our diplomats needed 
to be present in every world capital to achieve this goal -- a powerful 
reminder of the need to maintain our global presence.  Today, we are 
working to achieve a comprehensive treaty to outlaw nuclear tests, 
fulfilling a goal President Kennedy set three decades ago. 
 
I've spoken to you about a broad array of American interests around the 
world.  But I also want to stress that we cannot protect these interests 
without sustaining our leadership.  Of course, it is easy to talk about 
leadership.  The real test is whether we will marshal the resources we 
need to stand by our commitments.  Rhetoric without resources projects 
weakness, not strength. 
 
To lead, the United States must also galvanize the support of our 
allies, our friends, as well as international institutions to achieve 
common objectives.  Some say we can afford to weaken our half-century 
commitment to international institutions like the UN and the World Bank.  
But unless we wish to see America act as the world's sole policeman, 
rescue service, and lending agency, we cannot walk away from the 
institutions that help us share the costs of leadership.  America will 
act alone when it must to defend its interests.  But we should not deny 
ourselves the ability to share the burdens when we can. 
 
When I travel abroad, it is eminently clear to me why America is still 
the world's predominant power.  The nations of the world look to us as a 
source of principled and reliable leadership.  They see us as an 
optimistic people, motivated by a broad view of our interests and driven 
by a long view of our potential.  They follow us because they understand 
that America's fight for peace and freedom is the world's fight.  If we 
wish to preserve our leadership, we must continue to act in the best 
traditions of our nation and our people. 
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