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U.S. Department of State

Great Seal Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright
Interview on CNN's "Larry King Live" with Larry King
Washington, DC, July 6, 1998
As released by the Office of the Spokesman, July 7, l998
U.S. Department of State

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LARRY KING: Everyone else came right back. Madeleine Albright, our Secretary of State, stopped in Japan to meet with the Prime Minister; for what and what happened, Madame Secretary - welcome home.

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Well, it's good to be home. I stopped in Japan because the Japanese are our foremost allies in the region; they are the cornerstone of our Asia policy. And they wanted to know what had happened in China, so I stopped there for a few hours to update them on what had gone on.

LARRY KING: Were they happy with what they heard?

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Yes, they were; because Prime Minister Hashimoto had said to me even before the trip that he thought that it was a good idea for the President to make this kind of a trip. He seemed to be pleased with what he heard about what the President had accomplished in terms of the non-proliferation agenda, talking about stability in the Asian region. So I think that the Japanese were well pleased. Prime Minister Hashimoto is coming here in about two weeks.

LARRY KING: The history between Japan and China has been shaky. Does Japan worry about China?

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Well, I think that they do worry about China, but I think that they understand - the way we do - that a China that we engage with is a much better China than one that is isolated and does not feel a part of the international system. That is generally what we were trying to do in China. President Clinton spent a great deal of time in discussing what is really a multifaceted relationship with the Chinese about how we can engage more on issues of non-proliferation, crime, environment.

LARRY KING: Does Japan worry that we're going to get friendlier with China than we are with them, and kind of this Asian possible jealousy factor?

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Well, I think there may be those that do, but it's unnecessary; because as I told them, it is possible to have more than one friend. A partnership with China in no way undermines what I said was the cornerstone of our Asian relationship, which is a strategic relationship with Japan. And I think that they understand that - I hope they do, because it's the truth.

LARRY KING: Did you discuss India and Pakistan with the Japanese?

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Yes, and also with the Chinese. I think this is very much a subject of discussion in both countries because all our concerns about the nuclear explosions that Pakistan and India took - and it's going to be a subject of discussion for some time. I'm going back to Asia again in two weeks for a meeting with the Asian countries. Again, all are concerned about the destabilizing factor of having those explosions having taken place.

LARRY KING: Did anything about the China trip, Madame Secretary, disappoint you?

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Not really. I think that on the contrary, what was interesting about the trip was that while it was President Clinton's hope to be able to talk to as many Chinese as possible as frankly as possible, the fact that the press conference with President Jiang - which, frankly, was much more like an American political debate - that was broadcast China-wide so hundreds of millions of people saw that. The President's speech at the university was broadcast China-wide, and they got to see what it was like for a leader of a country to deal with friendly and hostile questions.

He had an interview and a radio talk show, believe it or not, Larry, in Shanghai. So we were very pleased with what happened, in terms of letting the Chinese people know more about our President and, therefore, American values and what American people were like; and vice versa - for the American people to get to know a lot more about what was on the minds of the Chinese.

LARRY KING: In retrospect, should you or he or either or both have met with some individual dissidents?

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: No. Let me just say this -- human rights and our concern about them in China is central to our policy. We're never going to have a completely normal relationship with the Chinese until they have a better, a good human rights policy.

What we decided on this trip was that the best way to get that message out, to talk about taboo subjects, such as Tiananmen and Tibet and the Dalai Lama, was to have the President out there speaking to hundreds of millions of Chinese. We have met with dissidents before; we will meet with dissidents again. But I think that our decision, which I think was correct, was to try to get to the widest number of people about a very important point that the President made - that the Chinese are concerned about stability, but their best chance for stability is to give freedom to their people and allow freedom of association and speech and religion. Those were the kinds of messages that the President got out loud and clear to hundreds of millions of Chinese.

LARRY KING: Today your department had to reassure the Taiwanese that there's been no change in policy. Although on the subject of Taiwan, I think you have to admit, the President was pretty strong.

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Well, the President reiterated what has been our policy now since 1972, frankly, that we -

LARRY KING: Yes, well, usually we don't use that clear of language.

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Well, I said the same thing when I was there a month previously. This has been our standard way of saying it. The President repeated what is our policy - we do have a relationship with Taiwan, which is run by the Taiwan Relations Act. That's an unofficial relationship with the Taiwanese; that will not change. But our policy has been and continues to be a one-China policy, and we want them to have a peaceful dialogue to resolve this issue.

LARRY KING: No progress with regard to the Dalai Lama, Tibet, no progress on trade deficits, right?

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Well, I wouldn't say no progress on the Dalai Lama -

LARRY KING: That's what's being reported.

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: What happened was that the President had raised the Dalai Lama and Tibet in private meetings. And interestingly enough, President Jiang is the one who came back to the Dalai Lama/Tibet question in a press conference; and therefore, even -- it was evident for the first time, that subject was being discussed publicly. That's progress.

We now have to see how to follow up in terms of trying to make sure that the dialogue between the Dalai Lama and Beijing does in fact take place.

LARRY KING: And in the trade area?

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Well, in the trade area we did not make the kind of progress that we wanted to. We would like to have China in the World Trade Organization, but we don't want to do it on terms that are not commercially viable. We're not going to make exceptions for China. It is going to be, ultimately, to China's advantage to be a part of an organization that we are all a part of. We are going to go for Most Favored Nation or what we're now calling, basically, normal trade treatment for the Chinese. We believe that's important; and that will happen when Congress returns.

LARRY KING: Were you at all surprised at how well he was received, the President?

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Well, it was great. I mean, it was very interesting. The Chinese people, of whom, as you know, are many, were lining the streets everywhere we went - mile after mile. People would be standing for a long time, waiting for motorcades. They were waving. They were, from the very first moment when we arrived in Xian, then in Beijing, in Shanghai, thousands - millions of people that were out there. And I think they got a chance to listen to the President and to participate in roundtables with him. The President did what he does so well - communicate with the people of China.

I hope, in that way, that the American people are getting a better understanding of what the Chinese people are like - that they want a future in which they can participate in the global economy, in which they have a functional environment and in which they are not threatened by the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.

LARRY KING: We'll be right back with the Secretary of State, Madeleine Albright, home again. Back she goes to Asia in a couple of weeks. We'll be right back.

(Commercial break.)

LARRY KING: The President must reverse his highly questionable decision made against the expressed counsel of his Secretary of State, Secretary of Defense and Director of Central Intelligence, to vest in the Department of Commerce lead agency authority for satellite launched exemptions relating to China. Was he talking about you or Secretary Christopher or what?

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Well, he was theoretically talking about Secretary Christopher. But I hate to say that my esteemed predecessor, James Baker, is wrong about something, because Secretary Christopher did not make that recommendation. Let me just make clear that while the authority is now vested in the Department of Commerce, the State Department and the Defense Department, we have a seat at the table and we can stop any decisions. So I think that we have it well taken care of, in terms of protecting our national security.

LARRY KING: In other words, while Commerce has the meeting room, you're at the meeting?

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Right, and it's a commercial sale; I mean, these are commercial satellites. But we definitely have a way of blocking something that we do not think is appropriate.

LARRY KING: You have a veto.


LARRY KING: There's been reports in the press over the years about a rift between you and Richard Holbrooke. He will now be the Ambassador to the United Nations. What can you tell us about your relationship?

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Well, I hate to say that anything that's in the press is wrong, but -

LARRY KING: Impossible!

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: But Richard Holbrooke and I have been very good friends now, since the Carter Administration, and we work together very well. I'm very pleased that he's going to be part of our team. I am very proud of the team I have at the State Department. I've been able to surround myself with very strong people, and I'm glad to get another strong one on board.

LARRY KING: Did the President ask you to sign off on his appointment?


LARRY KING: It was your idea?


LARRY KING: Why? Well, you knew that Richardson wanted to go to Energy, right?

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Well, look, I think that we believe that - I'm not going to go into kind of the inner workings of all this, but I recommended Mr. Holbrooke. I think he's an excellent person, and he's somebody that I worked with very closely on Bosnia. I respect him, and I'm looking forward to having him on my team, or on our team. I think he's going to be a good addition.

Ambassador Richardson was terrific. He was very good to work with. I think that he wanted to go on to Energy. The UN is a huge job. I loved it, as you all know, and enjoyed - I think that it's a great place to be, and it's a great place from which to be a part of a very strong team that the President has put together, with the National Security Advisor and the Secretary of Defense. So we are all in there together. We're delighted to have another member.

LARRY KING: How will he deal with the situation he's quite familiar with - the Serbian question?

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Well, he's there now. He is going back and forth between Kosovo and Pristina. I think he is trying to work it very intensively, diplomatically, along with Ambassador Hill and Ambassador Gelbard. They are going from one place to another, and they're also meeting with the Contact Group, which will meet on Wednesday.

This is a very difficult diplomatic problem, Larry. I think people would think it's like Bosnia, but it's not because Kosovo is a part of Yugoslavia, and President Milosevic in effect took away the autonomy of Kosovo - that's how this whole mess started. Milosevic has to be made to understand that he is the basic one at fault. But violence in the region is not going to solve the problem. We want this problem solved diplomatically, which is why we've put our best diplomats on it.

LARRY KING: Would you say you're optimistic, or would that be too strong?

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: It's a little strong at the moment. I think that we have to work the diplomatic route. I mean, I've told you many times that I'm an optimist. This is a very difficult situation. The fact that the Kosovars have been systematically robbed of their autonomy is something that is exciting extremists. And Milosevic, by his actions, is in fact the best recruiter for extremists on the Kosovar side.

LARRY KING: The President of Israel asked for elections; the Prime Minister said no. Do you have any thought on that?

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Well, we don't get mixed up in Israeli domestic politics. I would very much like to see our peace effort here come to a successful end. We are working -- I was on the phone intensively in the last 48 hours, even while I was on airplanes, with Prime Minister Netanyahu. I think we are coming closer. If we weren't coming closer, we would try a different tack.

LARRY KING: Would you say that you're on a progressive road now with him?

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Well, I mean, we are working it every day. We have intensive phone calls and try to work it issue by issue. I am hopeful that we will come to a resolution. But it is a very tough problem that requires a great deal of patience; and we're all trying to be patient with it, while pushing forward to narrow the gaps.

LARRY KING: More with the Secretary of State, Madeleine Albright, then a panel of top journalists, all of whom were on the trip. We'll talk about that and other things with them, as well. Don't go away.

(Commercial break.)

LARRY KING: Madame Secretary, a couple of other things, some phone calls, and then we'll let you go. The Washington Post reports today that the 1994 agreement between the United States and North Korea, designed to halt North Korea's nuclear weapons program is in danger of unraveling because, the Post says, "we haven't found the money to carry it out. The Administration has not been able to finance the organization that is supposed to provide North Korea with 500,000 metric tons of heavy fuel oil every year." Is the Post story correct?

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Well, we are obviously very concerned about the whole agreement, and we are in need to the money. I came back from a trip to Korea and Japan, a previous one, where we had been talking about the need for a few million dollars in order to make sure that the heavy fuel oil part of this is financed. We will pursue that with Congress, because this agreement, Larry, was one that was really historic because what it did was arrest the possibility of North Korea being a nuclear weapons state.

LARRY KING: Well, what's in the rub?

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: The rub has been that we have wanted other nations to also help on this. There are a number of other countries that are members of this KEDO - the organization that funds it. We're trying to get them to also do their part, and we are, in fact, going back to Congress to try to get some additional funds, because it would be a tragedy - more than a tragedy - it would be a disaster if we let this fall apart. It is very important to the stability of the Korean Peninsula.

LARRY KING: They were working on a plutonium plant. Are you worried that they may go back to work on that?

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Well, they have - this is the way we stopped it; and yes, of course, we are worried. They are now, the IAEA - the International Atomic Energy Agency - is watching over it very carefully. We set up a set of rules in order to make sure that they would not go forward. We froze the system, and we want to make sure that it stays frozen; and then, ultimately, we want to work out the history of what happened.

So this is very important, Larry, I'm glad you asked about it - because for a few million dollars, we cannot let this unravel.

LARRY KING: Why the trip to Russia in September?

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Well, because President Clinton and President Yeltsin have a regular set of summits. They have now met 14 times. It's very important for those kind of personal relationships to go forward. We have a lot of business with Russia. We're going to be talking about Kosovo; we're going to be talking about India and Pakistan; we're going to be talking about the START treaties, generally, in terms of issues of non-proliferation. We have an awful lot to talk about.

President Clinton, I think, as you just saw him in China, has an uncanny ability to work with his fellow leaders and make them imagine the future. He has an excellent relationship with President Yeltsin, and they haven't seen each other in a bilateral summit in some time.

LARRY KING: And of course you'll be there.


LARRY KING: We'll come back with some calls and a couple of other questions for Madeleine Albright, and then our panel. New story developing on the JonBenet Ramsey case. We'll look at that tomorrow night. We'll be right back.

(Commercial break.)

LARRY KING: Madame Secretary, a couple of other things and then we have a call-in. We know of your respect for, and at times criticism of, journalism. What did you make of the whole Tailwind story? You were away during all of it.

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Well, I think it's very sad, because we all count on journalists to come forward with stories that are accurate. I think it's accurate when people are blamed for what they have done. I'm not sure that everybody that deserves the blame was actually blamed. I think that it was good of CNN to come forward and explain that this was an unverifiable story.

LARRY KING: Do you think it makes better journalism tomorrow?

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: I hope so, because I think that otherwise, people do not have confidence. But if you come forward and say that a story was wrong, inaccurately reported or assumptions made, then I think that helps a lot.

I think - journalism, however, I have to say, as we have argued for freedom of the press in China and Russia, we have to make sure that American journalists understand the importance of having that freedom also.

LARRY KING: Did the Lewinsky scandal back home affect that trip at all?


LARRY KING: Not a moment of taking the President's eye off the tunnel?

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: I can assure you, not one moment.

LARRY KING: Let's take a call for Madeleine Albright. St. Petersburg, Florida, hello.

QUESTION: Hello, yes. Hi and welcome home. I would like to know, while in Asia, were people curious about our president and what's been going on with Monica and Ken Starr?

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: No. I'll tell you, they were curious about our president because they had not seen him in person. They were very pleased every time that he got out of a car or was able to communicate with them. They respect him as they respect the United States. As far as I know, there was not one question about any of the domestic activities.

They think America is a great country, and that having the President there was a great sign of our ability to engage with them. So it was a great reception all around.

LARRY KING: Lake Arrowhead, California, hello.

QUESTION: Hi, Larry. I have a question for Madeleine Albright. How much did the trip to China cost the American taxpayers?

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: I'm afraid I don't know the answer to that. I think that it probably did cost the American taxpayers, because when we move the President has to have security, then we take the press with us - they pay for themselves, but there has to be arrangements made in order to get them around. So I don't know the exact amount.

But I'll tell you something - the only way that we can work in the world today is for us to travel and for us to meet other leaders and for them to meet us. I think that it's a cheap price in order to try to have a world in which we understand each other; I think it's worth it.

LARRY KING: Do you think, Madame Secretary, since you were there, that Jiang and Clinton could be Gorbachev and Reagan?

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Well, I don't want to make that analogy, because China is a very different country from Russia, and is going through very different kinds of changes.

I think that President Jiang, as President Clinton has said, has an imagination to take China into the future. China, you have to remember, though, is a communist country and an authoritarian regime still. We need to engage with them in order to press the forces of change. That's what President Clinton was doing - he was talking to all kinds of people - professors, people that were customers of Internet, environmental lawyers - all kinds of people that were the forces of change. That is a relationship that's as important as the one with the leaders.

LARRY KING: And of course, Gorbachev was against his regime, and Jiang represents his regime.

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: That is correct.

LARRY KING: Right. But there is a likely -- in that it's important that they get along. When people say that this is just for show, isn't show part of it?

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Well, I think that the relationships that are established on a one-on-one level with leaders is absolutely important because they can explain things to each other and they can - they spend many hours over dinner - I was there and also when President Jiang was here - the number of hours that President Clinton and he spent in the private quarters, talking about Abraham Lincoln and human rights and history. Those are the kinds of things that I think help in a relationship.

It also helps, when you've got a real problem and you pick up the phone -- we established a hotline with the Chinese -- to know what the other guy is thinking on the other side, when you've actually had face-to-face discussions. So I believe that the personal relationships, whether they are between presidents or foreign ministers or treasury and finance ministers, are very important in this day and age where so much can be impersonal.

LARRY KING: Do you get a vacation?

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Probably not; but you know, I love my job, so here I am. Lots of make-up, but here I am.

LARRY KING: Thanks, Madame Secretary; always good seeing you.


LARRY KING: The United States Secretary of State, Madeleine Albright, just back after a side trip to Japan after the trip to China.

[End of Document]

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