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U.S. Department of State
96/12/19 Press Conference
Office of the Spokesman

                         U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
                            Office of the Spokesman
For Immediate Release                               December 19, 1996

                           YEAR-END PRESS CONFERENCE

                              Washington, D.C.
                       Thursday, December 19, 1996

SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  Good afternoon and thank you all for attending 
this year-end press conference.  I want to begin by commenting on an 
important breaking news story.  As some of you may have seen this 
morning, my hometown newspaper in a story entitled, "Vanilla Man," said 
that on my many stops at the Shannon Airport, I made a habit of ordering 
Irish coffee but with no caffeine and no whiskey.  I can confirm to you 
On-the-Record here that that great piece of investigative journalism is 
exactly right.  Even more than that, I want to tell you that Irish 
coffee tastes better that way, and to prove that when we finish here, 
I'm going to offer you all a "Christopher Special," so you can learn 
with me how good it is that way.

I'm very pleased to meet with all of you and pleased by the good turnout 
to have an opportunity to review what has gone on in this past year, 
1996.  Since this is my last year-end review, I'd like to take the 
opportunity to put this year in a somewhat broader context.

From the beginning of my tenure here, I've said that the fundamental 
test of American foreign policy has always been this:  Does it make the 
American people more secure?  Does it make us more prosperous?  Does it 
advance our democratic ideals that we share with people around the 

Looking back on the last four years, I feel confident that we have met 
that test.  As I've said many times, there are no final victories in 
this business and success usually takes quite a lot of time.  But step 
by step, we've made significant progress in resolving the critical 
problems that we faced when we took office and establishing and enduring 
basis for leadership in a more secure and more prosperous 21st century.

A lasting legacy of the President's first term will be the results we 
achieved in addressing global challenges - challenges like 
proliferation, crime, narcotics, damage to the environment - those 
global threats.  I believe that overcoming these threats will become a 
central aspect of American foreign policy in the next century.

We made dramatic progress in these global areas in 1996.  We signed a 
Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, a goal of American foreign policy for the 
last quarter century.  The last nuclear weapons have been withdrawn from 
Ukraine, Belarus and Kazakstan, and we also secured ratification of 
START II here in the United States.  The G-7 adopted a large number of 
specific steps for shutting down money laundering, to prosecute 
fugitives, and to protect our borders against trafficking in guns and 

We forged an international consensus to develop a binding agreement to 
reduce Greenhouse gas emissions.  Following the initiative that I 
launched at Stanford University, we're better integrating environmental 
issues into the full range of American diplomacy, and there will be more 
to come on this.

Another hallmark of the last four years is the central focus we placed 
on economic diplomacy.  By passing NAFTA, by concluding the Uruguay 
Round, by gaining free trade commitments in our hemisphere and in the 
Asia-Pacific region, we've positioned ourselves to become an even more 
dynamic hub of the international economy.

This year, with our APEC partners meeting in the Philippines, we agreed 
to take concrete steps to move ahead with trade liberalization in the 
Asia-Pacific region.  At the first ministerial meeting of the World 
Trade Organization in Singapore a couple of weeks ago, we agreed with 
our trading partners to eliminate tariffs on all information technology 
by the year 2000.  Our leadership has advanced our interests and ideals 
in every region of the world.  Across the Atlantic, we're closer today 
than ever before in seeking our goal of an undivided and democratic 
Europe.  This month our allies agreed to President Clinton's proposal to 
hold a summit meeting to consolidate the agenda that the President 
launched at the NATO meeting in January of 1994.

This summit will begin enlargement negotiations.  It will launch those 
negotiations.  It will strengthen NATO's relationship with all of 
Europe's new democracies, including Russia.  It will complete NATO's 
adaptation to new rules and missions, and it will strengthen Europe's 
role in acting under the Alliance.

In 1996, NATO also fulfilled its initial mission in Bosnia, bringing 
peace to that war-torn country, separating the warring armies, providing 
great support for the fall elections and creating a stable environment 
so that reconstruction can move forward.

President Clinton has also placed an unprecedented emphasis on deepening 
our engagement in the Asia-Pacific region.  1996 here was a year of 
important achievement.  We invigorated our core alliances, and the 
President signed a new security declaration with Japan to make sure that 
the next 50 years of our alliance is as productive as the last 50 years 
have been.  We completed an important semi-conductor agreement with 
Japan, adding to the 22 market access agreements we reached over the 
last four years.

We also stood by South Korea in the face of provocations from the North, 
while moving ahead with the implementation of the Framework Agreement 
between the United States and North Korea.

This year, we moved our relationship with China onto a more positive 
footing.  We made some progress on non-proliferation, although we 
continue to have in that area serious concerns.  We reached an agreement 
on the enforcement of intellectual property rights.  President Clinton 
and President Jiang have agreed to exchange state visits, giving us 
further opportunities to build on our cooperation, as well as to address 
our serious differences in such areas as human rights.

In the Middle East, we moved immediately in 1993, when we first came 
into office, to build on America's two decades of bipartisan leadership 
on behalf of peace.  I will not certainly minimize the severe tests that 
have been placed in the road of peace in recent months through terrorist 
attacks and other matters, but we have made lasting achievements, and we 
are determined to move forward.

The role of the United States is not just to help the parties reach 
agreement but to stand by them in tough times.  That's why President 
Clinton and President Mubarak brought together the region's leaders last 
March to stand against terrorism, and that's why President Clinton 
brought together here King Hussein, Prime Minister Netanyahu and 
Chairman Arafat when violence threatened to disrupt the peace process.

Our goal remains indispensable in helping the countries in the region 
overcome their long history of distrust, to build mutual trust, and to 
overcome the obstacles that remain in the peace process, including, of 
course, Hebron.

The President and I have been concerned about the recent drift in the 
peace process.  To re-energize this effort, we're sending Dennis Ross to 
the region this weekend to report on the status of negotiations there, 
to report on his discussions with the leaders, to return before 
Christmas in order that we can have an up-to-date assessment from 
Ambassador Ross.  

In 1996, we also again demonstrated once again our determination to 
prevent Saddam Hussein from threatening his neighbors.

We took office at a time of historic transformation here in the 
Americas, with democracy and open markets on the march.  This year, we 
sustained that momentum.  Our diplomacy was critical in bringing Ecuador 
and Peru to the negotiating table, was critical in averting a coup in 
Paraguay and in ending Guatemala's 35-year civil war.  With our much 
needed assistance, the Mexican economy is improving, and Mexico is 
paying its debts ahead of schedule, and NAFTA is working.

We welcome also, in connection with this hemisphere, the tougher stand 
that the European Union is now taking in the Cuba situation and the 
tougher stand they're taking in the direction of bringing democracy to 

In the last four years, we've also sought to deepen America's engagement 
in Africa.  We've made an unprecedented effort to encourage democratic 
market reform there and to promote trade and investment.  Now we're 
deeply engaged in an effort to end the conflict and ease the suffering 
in the Great Lakes region.  The situation in the Great Lakes region and 
my recent travels in Africa have underscored the need to create an 
African crisis response force, which would enable African countries to 
respond to emergencies in their region, with the backing of the United 
States and our allies.

In all of these areas, we forged a considerable record of accomplishment 
and set the stage for a memorable second term.  I think the people will 
look back on this period as a decisive period in diplomatic history.  It 
is in this period, with our leadership, that the world has began to 
shape its plans for the 21st Century.

It's a world in which no great power views any other as an immediate 
threat, a world in which institutions that we created after World War II 
are beginning to be adapted to meet the new challenges of the next 
century, a world in which open societies and open markets have a 
competitive advantage; a world in which America remains the 
indispensable nation, and our leadership remains indispensable to the 

It is a world in which our interests and values can thrive but also in 
which new threats like proliferation and terrorism make American 
leadership even more vital than in the past.  I know that the President 
and Ambassador Albright will maintain that kind of American leadership.  
I also know that their ability to be effective will depend upon finding 
the resources we so urgently need to support our diplomacy.

I'll be glad to take your questions now.

QUESTION:  On another current story, the Fargo Forum and the rest of us 
have been following, could you tell us, please, if there is any 
connection that you can discern between Cuba and the group that is 
taking hostages in Lima?  Any financial training or other connection?  
Any connection, in fact, between any foreign government and this 
terrorist group?

SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  Barry, that's a very dynamic situation in Peru 
now at the present time.  It's a dangerous situation, and I don't want 
to make any comment on the group that is involved there or any 
connection they might have to other situations around the world.

In doing so, let me emphasize, I'm not confirming or denying that.  It's 
simply not the right time for me speculate or comment on that subject.

QUESTION:  Mr. Secretary, as you reviewed your list of diplomatic 
endeavors, you omitted any reference to the dual containment policy in 
Iran and Iraq.  What would you say are the accomplishments and the 
results of that policy?

SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  The dual containment of Iran and Iraq continues 
to be a primary goal and object of American foreign policy.  We continue 
to regard Iran as a dangerous projector of  terrorism, a country that's 
dangerous because they're trying to assemble weapons of mass 
destruction; and a dangerous country because of their efforts to 
undermine the peace process.

With respect to Iraq, we continue to regard Saddam Hussein as someone 
who is a threat to his neighbors as well as to the minorities within his 
country, a leader who has not brought himself or his country into 
compliance with the U.N. resolutions.

I would say the goals of our policy have remained firm during this four 
years and, particularly, during the last year.

Tom, with respect to Iraq, I think we have once again made it clear that 
the United States will not stand by and watch Saddam Hussein threaten 
his neighbors through the buildup in the region.  We have made it, I 
think, emphatic to him that the United States and our allies will resist 
any effort on the part of Saddam Hussein to move against his neighbors.  
That's one of the things that we have to be constantly vigilant about, 
and I think we have been.

With respect to Iran, we remain in the process of calling to the 
attention of our allies the conduct of Iran and urging them not to give 
financial material - military support - to Iran.  I think that policy is 
one in which we've been firm throughout the course of the year.  We 
still have some persuading to do.  That's a continuing story.

We have also, though, made it clear to the countries in the regions who 
are threatened by Iran that the United States is firmly on their side 
against any efforts by Iran to threaten them or to exercise greater 
dominance in the region.  Those are both areas where our efforts at 
containment continue, and I believe they have been effective in 1996.

QUESTION:  Mr. Secretary, Dennis Ross' trip to the Middle East sounds 
like an attempt to rescue something which seems to be in bad shape.  The 
Palestinians have been saying that they now think that reopening any 
part of an agreed document then reopens the whole document to 
renegotiation.  Can you or anybody reassure them that that is not the 

The second part of that question, how badly do you think the settlement 
announcements have been affecting this negotiation process?

SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  The President and I have asked Ambassador Ross 
to go back to the Middle East so that we could have a first-hand view 
from him of the attitudes of other leaders there with respect to the 
peace process to understand the status of the process.  We've asked him 
to come back by Christmastime so we can have his report on the situation 

As I say, we've been concerned about the situation and think it is time 
for the parties to come into agreement on Hebron.  The Israelis have 
made some moves in connection with Hebron.  We think it's time for the 
Palestinians - for Chairman Arafat - to respond to those moves, to 
reciprocate those moves.  We're also concerned, though, about the effect 
of other issues on that negotiation.

As we've said many times, Jim, we feel that settlement activity does 
have the effect of causing problems for complicating the peace process.  
Indeed, the President spoke for the United States, of course, when he 
said just a few days ago that any step that pre-empts the negotiations 
or seeks to move ahead of where the parties are, in the way they have 
consigned various issues, tends to be a problem.  We think that's not 

I can say that we feel that it is time for the Hebron agreement to be 
reached and the parties to pursue the remaining issues under negotiation 
there and without further delay.

QUESTION:  Mr. Secretary, regarding Peru, since it's been announced by 
our Embassy down there - it was announced last night - that there are 
Americans involved, can you at least assure the American people that 
this government is doing what it can, and tell us as much as you can 
about what our government can do since this is essentially Japanese 
territory but also, obviously, the primary function is up to the 
Peruvian Government?

And can you tell us where one should draw the line between the mediation 
that is underway and our long-standing policy of not negotiating with 
terrorists?  What is the proper way of making that demarcation?

SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  You'll understand why I don't want to confirm 
the presence of Americans there.  It's been a long-standing policy that 
we do not do that, and I will not violate that today.

We have sent some security experts in to assist the Ambassador because 
of his concern about the security situation.  They're going in there for 
the purpose of advising the Ambassador about security conditions in our 
Embassy.  But we're following the situation as closely as we possibly 

Just before coming up here, the Assistant Secretary, Jeff Davidow, 
talked to our Ambassador there.  There's nothing new in the situation.  
A little earlier this morning I talked to Foreign Minister Ikeda of 
Japan, in his stopover in Los Angeles, on his way to Peru, and we agreed 
to counsel closely together.  I told him that our Ambassador, Dennis 
Jett, is following the situation closely.  I think Ambassador Jett is 
doing a fine job, and we'll work closely with the Japanese as well as we 
will with the Peruvian Government, if we can be of some assistance.  
Obviously, the Peruvian Government is taking the lead.

The United States policy against making concessions in this situation is 
well-known.  At the same time, because so many people are involved, it's 
important the lines of communication remain open between those 
terrorists who have taken the embassy and the Peruvian Government.  We 
would encourage the maintenance of communications.  But the United 
States, as I say, has a strong policy against making any concessions.  
We'd advise all of those involved to follow that policy.

It is a dangerous and difficult situation, and I think you'll understand 
there are limitations on what I feel prudent to say.

QUESTION:  Can you at least tell us what the condition, as far as you 
know, what the condition of the hostages is?

SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  I only have radio reports on that.  They're 
available to you as well.


QUESTION:  Hello, Mr. Secretary.  Can I ask you about Russia and NATO?  
When you were in Brussels, Mr. Primakov said he was willing to negotiate 
with Mr. Solana on a charter in Brussels this week; the newly 
civilianized Mr. Rodionov, the Defense Minister, was much harsher.  He 
said Russia would never accept NATO expansion and might take military 
steps to counter it.  Dmitri Ryurikov, Mr. Yeltsin's personal foreign 
affairs advisor, was here last week and basically guaranteed there would 
be no conclusion of a charter negotiation before the July summit.

Do you think the Russians are trying to keep the West off balance in 
their reaction to this?  Or are they off-balance themselves?  Do you 
think they yet really know how to handle NATO's expansion plans?

SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  I think it's reasonably clear that the Russians 
are not enthusiastic about and will not applaud NATO enlargement.  But 
what was also made clear to me when I was in Brussels, the Russian 
Government is prepared to pursue negotiations for some kind of an 
arrangement.  Call it a "charter;"  you might call it by some other 
name, but some kind of an arrangement between NATO and Russia.  I have 
every confidence those negotiations will begin shortly after the first 
of the year.

I don't find anything inconsistent, really, with the statement of the 
new Russian Defense Minister, General Rodionov, with the idea that 
discussions will begin in January between Foreign Minister Primakov and 
Secretary General Solana.

I would suggest that you'll not soon hear the Russians saying positive 
things about enlargement.  But the change that took place at this year's 
NATO meeting in Brussels was an attitude on the part of Foreign Minister 
Primakov that they're prepared to start serious negotiations for the 
development of a kind of arrangement - call it a "charter, if you will - 
between NATO and Russia.  I don't see anything to contradict that, and 
that is the course that I think will be followed.


QUESTION:  Mr. Secretary, you gave us a list of the achievements of the 
last four years of American diplomacy.  I wonder if I could ask you 
about which you consider to have been your own personal keenest 
disappointment?  Whether it would have been the failure of your many 
trips to Damascus to produce a peace or something in your relations with 
France?  What particular area do you regret the most?

SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  Martin, I'm going to disappoint you on that.  
I've had a tremendously enjoyable four years here.  I think we've made 
considerable progress.  I think with President Clinton's leadership, the 
American people are safer.  I think the world is safer.  We're better 
off in the sense of being more prosperous, and I think we've had an 
opportunity to advance our goals.  So I take some satisfaction in the 
results of the four-year period.  I don't intend to view it in terms of 

QUESTION:  Mr. Secretary, you made reference to Iran earlier.  Twenty 
years ago or almost 20 years ago, you were thrust in your previous 
incarnation here into a role of negotiating indirectly with the 
Government of Iran in a different situation.  But I'd like to ask you 
how you feel at the end of this incarnation of your work at the State 
Department about the direction of U.S. policy and U.S. relationships 
with that important country in the Gulf.  Should there be a change - 
should there be a review of that policy, especially in light of what you 
referred to as Iran's role in supporting terrorism in the world and in 
light of recent reports about increases in Iran's role in southern 
Lebanon and in its relationship with Syria?  Thank you.

SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  Ralph, the future really of the relationship is 
in the hands of Iran, in the sense that if they're prepared to change 
their policies with respect to terrorism and if they're prepared to 
change their policies with respect to the acquisition of weapons of mass 
destruction and hence to undermine the peace process, the United States 
would stand ready.  We've always said we stand ready to have a dialogue 
with them - a discussion - as long as it's an official dialogue and all 
the issues are open.

But until that happens on their part, I see no basis for the United 
States to change its position.  Wherever I look, I find the dangerous 
hand of Iran - or at least so many places where I look around the world 
- the projection of terrorism, of state-sponsored terrorism , so I 
regard them as a dangerous force in the world scene, one that the United 
States has to act to contain.  If others want to have a different 
relationship with them, I would say that's an area where the
United States should lead and try to persuade the other nations of the 
difficulties of doing anything to encourage, either financially or 
otherwise, Iran in the course that it's presently following.

So I don't see a basis until they change their policies for a change in 
the United States' relationship with Iran.

QUESTION:  Mr. Secretary, if I could take you back to the Middle East 
for a moment.  For the last several years, this Administration has been 
able to claim that the peace process, in spite of bumps in the road, is 
irreversible; that the possibility of renewed conflict is one that no 
longer needs to be seriously considered.

In recent weeks, I've heard non-governmental experts, both here and in 
the region, say that that may no longer be true; that the danger of war 
is growing.  Would you care to say what you think the situation is going 
to be in the coming year?

SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  I still have confidence, Norm, in the peace 
process.  I believe that if an agreement can be reached on Hebron, which 
I think it should be, that that will give a new sense of forward 
momentum.  The peace process is not just one small discussion between 
parties.  It's much broader than that.  The economic situation has 
changed in the Middle East.  The peace treaty between Jordan and Israel 
is in place.  There are agreements between Israel and the Palestinians 
which are being respected.

So although this is a tense time - there's no doubt about that - I still 
have confidence in the peace process.  What I would say about it is that 
United States' leadership is indispensable there.  It has been for 30 or 
40 years now and maybe even more indispensable now.  The United States 
cannot fail to assist the parties and to stand by the parties who have 
taken risks for peace.  But I continue to have confidence that the 
parties in the Middle East, having seen some of the benefits of peace 
and having glimpsed a different kind of a future, will not abandon that 
but will remain with all of its difficulties on the road to peace.  I 
hope that any of the countries there will back away from any threats or 
any efforts to try to achieve their aims through the use of those kinds 
of threats.

What I'm more concerned about, Norm, is the emergence of terrorist acts.  
There are still people who are obviously hostile to the peace process, 
and that's one of the reasons why we need to try to regain and restore 
momentum in the peace process because of the risk in a hiatus of some 
kind of a terrorist incident.  I hope and pray that that won't happen.  
I strongly urge President Arafat and all those who are involved to take 
every action that they can to ensure that there's no recurrence of 
violence, because violence can only aid the enemies of the peace 

QUESTION:  Ugur Akinci, Turkish Daily News.  Mr. Secretary, in the 
beginning of the year, Turkey was described as a front-line state which 
replaced Germany in importance by a State Department senior official.  
At the end of the year, Turkey still could not get any of the arms 
orders from the United States; and, as you know, there's a coalition 
government now in Turkey, trying to strengthen Turkey's ties with 
Islamic countries.  

Mr. Secretary, is Turkey still a front-line state?  How do you see the 
future of Turkish-American relations?

SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  Is Turkey still a what state?

QUESTION:  Front-line state.

SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  Turkey remains a country of great importance to 
United States.  It's a member of NATO, and it sits at a very strategic 
place in the world.  The United States' friendship for Turkey is a very 
deep one, and we've worked together on a number of matters recently.  
They've assisted the United States in the evacuation of a number of 
Americans and others from northern Iraq.  We continue to have an 
important dialogue with them on many, many subjects, and we have many 
matters to work on in the course of the next year, including an effort 
to resolve the problems in Cyprus.

So I think the United States continues to place the highest priority on 
maintaining good relationships with its Turkish allies, and I would say 
that my successor, Ambassador Albright, will be giving high attention to 

MR. BURNS:  Final question.

QUESTION:  Yes, Mr. Secretary.  We have another American official that's 
been arrested for spying for the Russians.  Considering the amount of 
assistance we've put into Russia and the new relationship we have with 
them at the end of the Cold War, are you going to be lodging any 
protests with Moscow or making any demands that they have some type of 
new code of behavior in espionage?

SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  That really is an area that is in current 
discussion.  We've had not just one episode but a series of episodes, 
and it's really a matter that needs to be considered carefully between 
the various security agencies in the United States.  But I don't have 
any comment for you on it at the present time.  I would say it's a sad 
and tragic event to see these Americans who are selling out their 
country for financial gain.  That seems to be the motivating factor in 
this new era rather than ideology, and it's certainly selling out your 
country for just a pittance.  If we have to find some way to work with 
that issue more effectively than we have within our security agencies, 
but with respect to the direct question you asked, I don't have anything 
to report to you on that today.

Thank you very much.

(The press conference concluded at 1:01 p.m.)

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