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U.S. Department of State

Great Seal Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright
Press Briefing
December 20, 2000, Washington, D.C.
As released by the Office of the Spokesman
U.S. Department of State
Blue Line

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Well, good morning and Happy Holidays to everybody. There are two items of news that I wanted to discuss with you this morning. The first is about resources. As you know, one of my highest priorities has been to reverse the decline in funding for international affairs operations and programs during the first seven years of the last decade.

With congressional action now finished on the budget for Fiscal Year 2001, the scorecard is complete, and I am pleased to report that, in real terms, funding for international affairs has increased almost 17 percent since I became Secretary of State. This year, excluding our last-minute supplemental for the Middle East, Congress appropriated virtually the full amount of funds requested by President Clinton. This reflects a dramatic turnaround from the period between Fiscal Years 1991 and 1997, when funding dropped by almost 30 percent.

As a result, the new Secretary will inherit an overall budgetary situation that is more favorable than at any time in the 1990s. This progress reflects the hard work of many in the Department, strong support from President Clinton, and a realization by our friends in Congress that a strong and successful foreign policy is a patriotic imperative, not a partisan issue.

Although I am pleased by the gains we have made, I will continue to argue in my new life that a far greater commitment of resources in international affairs is needed to protect our interests and sustain our leadership. Secretary-designate Powell and I have already discussed this, and I have assured him, to this end and others, he will have my full support.

The second item of news is that I am pleased to announce the successful culmination of an unprecedented dialogue initiated by the State Department and the British Foreign Office. These discussions have produced a set of Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights that we hope and expect will become the global standard in the oil and mining industries. I am happy to report that a truly impressive coalition of leading companies, NGOs and labor has supported this process and welcomed these Principles.

The Principles address many of the hardest challenges facing oil and mining companies as they work to protect the safety and security of their people and operations. They address as well many of the situations and practices for which companies in the extractive industry, rightly or wrongly, have been exposed to criticism on human rights grounds.

I wouldn't usually take the time to list all the entities involved, but I will today because their breadth and caliber is revealing. The companies are Texaco, Chevron, BP, Conoco, Freeport MacMoran, Rio Tinto and Shell. The NGOs are Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, Business for Social Responsibility, Fund for Peace, International Alert, Prince of Wales Business Leaders Forum, Council on Economic Priorities and the Lawyers Committee for Human Rights. The labor side is represented by the International Federation of Chemical, Energy, Mine and General Workers Unions.

The agreement I am announcing today is a landmark for corporate responsibility, and not just for US and British companies in this one sector. It demonstrates that the best-run companies realize that they must pay attention not only to the particular needs of their communities, but also to universal standards of human rights, and that in addressing these needs and standards there is no necessary conflict between profit and principle.

This is a powerful example of the new foreign policy at work, crossing old lines among the public, private and independent sectors, and bridging issues and interests that were once thought to have no common ground. In the ongoing debate over globalization, this initiative is an apt illustration of what President Clinton means when he talks about putting a human face on the global economy.

It is not often that I am accompanied to this podium for the same announcement by the Assistant Secretaries of Human Rights, Economic and Business Affairs, and Diplomatic Security, but their presence today reflects the unusual combination of interests and values that will be served by the Voluntary Principles we are unveiling.

This very distinguished trio will be able to answer any detailed question you may have concerning today's announcement and, in the meantime, I would be pleased to answer other questions.

QUESTION: Madame Secretary, you referred in that first section to Congress not acting on the special appropriation of the request for $750 million for three Middle Eastern countries. That sort of just dropped out of the package. Is that a serious loss?

And while we're on the Middle East, can you give us your assessment of how the talks at Bolling are going on? We're hearing very little.

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: First of all, we obviously thought that it was a very important part of what we were doing; otherwise, the President would not have put it forward. I think that it would have been a very important aspect of various things that we have sought as far as support for Israel and other countries in the Middle East, the Jordanians and Egypt. Obviously it is a loss; otherwise, we wouldn't have been asking for it.

On what is happening, the parties have been -- are there meeting today. They are coming to meet with the President and me at the White House in order for us to talk more about the process. They are working. There are discussions that are going on that are parallel bilateral discussions, and I think that we will see whether this evolves into -- moves on to trilateral discussions and other aspects. We keep working on what we hope will be a successful process, but we have been on this for a long time.

QUESTION: Can I follow that for just a minute briefly? Are the parties meeting separately with you and the President at the White House, or is that a trilateral meeting at the White House?

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: We are all meeting together, as far as I know.

QUESTION: In your conversations with Colin Powell, Madame Secretary, have you gotten the impression that he will share your attention that you have paid to this peace process in the future?

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: We have had very good discussions. We spent three hours at my house on Sunday and we had lunch yesterday. As you know, he attended yesterday -- as a Howard University trustee -- the agreement that we had signed between Howard and State Department on better exchanges. We have had a variety of discussions, but I don't think it is appropriate to go into the details of them, except to say that I think we are having a very smooth transition.

General Powell and I have been friends for a long time, and we share the interest in making sure that America's foreign policy is well represented. Our discussions have -- you know, I have benefited a great deal from the friendship and advice of my predecessors, and I offered him my continued support. As I said to him, it is a very small club of people that have been Secretaries of State, and I think we all owe each other friendship and support.

QUESTION: Madame Secretary, to follow up on your talks with General Powell, you have made reference to the second part of your announcements today about this being a powerful example of the new foreign policy at work. Do you think General Powell shares this kind of work as what foreign policy is about? Have you gotten into some of the things where you might have disagreed with?

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Well, as I said, I am not going to go into the details of it. But General Powell is a forward-looking person, and foreign policy in the last eight years has included more and more of these kinds of cross-cutting issues and reaching out to very large numbers of countries who are important to us in ways that they were not in the early '90s. I think you will obviously have a chance to talk to him when he is Secretary about the things that he has looked at during the transition period.

But it is so much a part of our policy, and the discussions that we -- you know, speeches that I have given and briefings that have gone on here, I think it should be very evident that our foreign policy these days is broad and reflective of America's national interests in terms of our values and principles on democracy, on human rights, on the need to engage a number of countries, and all of the issues of globalization, and deal with some of the darker sides of globalization while pushing very hard on giving it a human face, as this announcement today.

QUESTION: Madame Secretary, in recent days, members of the Clinton Administration have briefed not only President-elect Bush but members of his team on North Korea. How important is it to the Clinton Administration to have the support of the Bush Administration in making a decision to go to North Korea?

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: First of all, obviously the decisions are being made by President Clinton and the foreign policy team. We are in place, actually, for another month from today, and we are looking at whatever decisions they are in the context of our responsibilities and our continued stewardship of American national interests.

I think that what is important in a number of policies -- all policies, frankly -- is continuity and sustainability. So, as we discuss issues, that is the kind of thing that we are looking at. I think obviously -- I know obviously the President will be making whatever decision he makes on the basis of how he sees his responsibilities.

QUESTION: But you feel you're close to a deal?

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: I'm not going to comment on that. I think that you know what we had when we were in Pyongyang, that this was very interesting, and that we are considering what is best in terms of our policies. As President Clinton said yesterday, that when he came into office it was said by his predecessor that the nuclear issues in Korea were very serious; and that he, President Clinton, now said to the President-elect that the issues to deal with missiles and missile proliferation were very important and that it was important to deal with them.

QUESTION: Madame Secretary, as you are leaving office, what issues do you feel are sort of left undone that you -- if you had another six months, what are the things you would like to shepherd through?

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Well, you know, one of the things about all this is that it is a continuing story. We picked up a lot of issues from the first Bush Administration, and obviously as the continuum of American foreign policy goes on, there are certain issues that continue to be on the table.

I do think that a truly abiding interest -- and one that I believe President Clinton has a unique role in -- is the Middle East peace process. So obviously we would very much like to have a positive resolution of that. I think that there are issues -- it is very hard to separate it in that way, because I think there are issues that have to continue to be dealt with.

The Balkan story, which I consider one of the major successes of this Administration, is a continuation of what President Bush had started, which was the idea that there be a Europe that is whole and free. The missing piece was the Balkans. I think as a result of our policies that peace is now in place, but it has to be kind of cemented in and solidified through continued attention to various parts of this: what is happening in Serbia, where the elections will be held on Saturday; to Kosovo, Montenegro, Bosnia, where we continue to have concerns about the development of central institutions; support for Croatia's new democracy, Macedonia, what is going on in Albania, the Stability Pact. There is a lot of continuing work that needs to be done. We have done a lot of the heavy lifting, but it needs to have continued attention.

I think obviously our ongoing relationship with Russia and China -- and I don't want to leave anything out because that would signal something that is inappropriate. But I think there is a continuum, and whether we had another six months or two years or 20 years, there are certain policies that just go on. As I said, I am going to try to be as supportive of Secretary-designate Powell as is appropriate for a former Secretary and the kind of support that I have had.

QUESTION: Thank you. I'm going to try to eke a little bit more out about the Middle East peace process. For these many months of violence, it was often said that there would be no -- there was no sense in sitting down to talk about peace before the violence waned, and that still hasn't happened. What do you think did change that made the parties and the United States also feel that now would be a good time to sit down, even though the violence hasn't stopped?

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: I think that there is a sense that there are opportunities. Clearly, some of the changed calculations by Prime Minister Barak, who decided that he was going to have a different approach to -- he was going to resign and have elections. I think that that -- and then a sense that we have gotten and has been passed on that basically Chairman Arafat may see this also as an opportune time.

So I think that the thing that has changed is something that is coming from the region itself, not something that is being driven from Washington but something that is definitely coming from the region itself. The fact-finding committee that went -- Foreign Minister Vedrine who went on behalf of the EU, who spoke to me in Brussels and who -- President Chirac spoke to President Clinton here on Monday -- kind of a sense that there is a very important role that President Clinton should play, but that it is being driven from the region, not from Washington.

QUESTION: And it's no slight to the Bush Administration coming in, you feel?

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: I think they would be delighted. That's all I can say.

QUESTION: Madame Secretary, going back to the Balkans for a second, how much of a factor is this in your conversations with Secretary-designate Powell? How strongly are you pushing your view that the US should not limit its role in the Balkans, particularly in Bosnia?

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Good try, Matt, but I'm not going -- (laughter) --

QUESTION: Well, I mean --

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: No, I mean, I am -- basically, our conversations are about how this building works and people and how, as I said on the plane -- one trip you were not on -- that I was going to tell him that this was the best job in the world, but that it was harder than it looked. So we are going into both aspects of that and going through various details. But I just don't think it is appropriate for me to go into specific policy issues.

MR. REEKER: For the last question I would like to call on Miss Emily Koh of the newspaper, The Razor, from the Hopkins School of New Haven, Connecticut.

QUESTION: You said that being Secretary of State was one of the best jobs in the world. What do you think you are going to miss most about your job?

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Well, I think what I am going to miss most are these kinds of -- (laughter) -- but no, what I am going to miss most is representing the United States, the most amazing country in the world, that has given me the opportunity to work hard on its behalf and American national interests. There is no greater honor than representing the United States, and I will miss that.

Thank you.

[Press briefing continued, led by Assistant Secretary Koh]

[End of Document]
Blue Line

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