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U.S. Department of State

Great Seal Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright and
Foreign Secretary Malcolm Rifkind
Press Conference, Carlton Gardens
London, United Kingdom, February 19, 1997
As released by the Office of the Spokesman, London, U.K.
U.S. Department of State

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FOREIGN SECRETARY RIFKIND: Can I say that of course I am delighted that the new Secretary of State is visiting us in the United Kingdom at this moment in time, she has just had a very good meeting with the Prime Minister and then we have followed that with a very viable discussion on a range of issues of common interest. The issues we have been covering, as you can imagine, include the question of NATO enlargement with the United Kingdom and the United States having a very close and similar point of view. We both look forward to the enlargement of the alliance. We both recognize the importance of developing an excellent relationship between NATO and Russia. We recognize a lot of work needs to be done on that process and we will be concentrating our efforts over the weeks and months to come.
We have also reviewed the situation in Bosnia, and there has been peace in that country for over a year, no one has died The process initiated at Dayton has been a very considerable success, but we recognize there is a lot of economic work to be done for the economic reconstruction of that country. The high representative, clearly, will need continuing support over a considerable period of time.
We have also looked at a number of other regional issues including the Middle East, welcoming the Hebron agreement, noting the progress that has been made and believing that we need to build upon that agreement if there is to be a lasting peace in the Middle East.
We have seen Cyprus as an issue which is a real challenge to the international community at the moment. There is a prospect of negotiations taking place in Cyprus during the course of this year and it will be very important to do what we can, the United Kingdom, the United States, under the authority of the UN to take forward that process.
During our discussions on Hong Kong, we learnt, of course, of the death of Deng Xiaoping that has been officially confirmed in China, just a few minutes ago. Clearly, he was a very major historic figure. For the United Kingdom his most important act was to be responsible for the Chinese side of the negotiations and the joint declaration that has led to the two systems and one country policy for Hong Kong. As Hong Kong approaches the historic transition on June the 30th of this year, it is timely to remember the contribution that Deng Xiaoping made to that very, very crucial policy. The importance of Hong Kong is something we know our American friends share with us, to ensure that the freedom and way of life of the people of the territory should continue after the hand-over. These are the opening remarks that I would like to make, and I would now like to invite the Secretary of State to speak to you.
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Thank you very much, we have indeed had a remarkable set of talks and have covered a myriad of subjects, as the Foreign Minister stated. And let me just say that it is wonderful in the middle of a long trip to be at a place where one considers oneself completely at home. I especially feel at home having spent the war in London . I was very moved by going to the war rooms today to see what Prime Minister Churchill was dealing with while I sat in a bomb shelter in Notting Hill Gate. This is a wonderful country that has done a great deal for people that came here to seek refuge during the war and so I am very grateful to the British people.
I think we, clearly, have had meetings which indicate that the special relationship is indeed special, and as we go through the agenda items, we agree. It is most heartening to be able to now go on to Moscow with the support of the British government, as well as other members of the NATO alliance, which was certainly something that I felt yesterday in Brussels. We have a lot of business to do throughout the world and as I am on my trip looking for various aspects of the common agenda they clearly are very present here in the United Kingdom.
QUESTION: Madam Secretary, your reflections please on the passing of Deng Xiaoping?
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Let me say that the United States obviously viewed Deng Xiaoping as a historic figure during a period of transition in China. As the Foreign Secretary stated for the case of the United Kingdom, for the United States Deng Xiaoping played the role in normalizing U.S.-Chinese relations. He is to be remembered for that and the very important point that played for the United States. Let me just say that on behalf of the American people, we offer our condolences to his family and to the Chinese people.
QUESTION: I'd like to ask both of you for your views on what you think the Chinese transition will involve, whether there will be a change in policy; what you from an American perspective, Madam Secretary, would hope would be the Chinese policy regarding economic reforms that were an. issue with Peng. And what you, Mr. Foreign Secretary, believe is likely to be the policy and the leadership after Deng's death?
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Well let me say, that we, as I have said a number of times, want very much to have a multifaceted and important relationship with China. The U.S.- China relationship is going to be one of great importance as we move into the twenty-first century, and it is important that we are able to deal with China across the board. The Chinese have, in fact, been very cooperative on issues that are important strategically to the United States and obviously to other countries in the West where they have cooperated on issues of nuclear non-proliferation, on issues to do with the environment, on helping us with our relationship with Korea and Cambodia. There have been differences, both over trade issues and human rights and I think that what we are going to be doing is pursuing this multifaceted relationship with China, and it's too early to comment on the effect of his death.
QUESTION: Will your trip proceed as scheduled?
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: We are consulting with the Chinese. We have just heard the news, and I will be consulting with the Chinese government to see whether it is convenient for them at this time.
FOREIGN SECRETARY RIFKIND: Could I add to that that clearly Deng Xiaoping was himself responsible for the opening up of China and made massive economic reforms that one sees particularly inside China. Because of the state of his health he has been unable, clearly, to provide a momentum over the past few years and, therefore, there has been hiatus particularly with regard to political change and further economic reform.
We would assume that there would now be a short period of uncertainty as the new leadership emerges. But once that is consolidated, then we very much hope that the economic and political reforms will gather speed We say that just because the crucial importance of China as a whole, but I emphasize again our crucial responsibilities so far as Hong Kong is concerned. The more that China itself reforms, the more it becomes an open society and a market economy, and the more confidence we will be able to have that Hong Kong's own special identity will be respected.
QUESTION: Madam Secretary when you go to Moscow and bring along security sweeteners for the Russians, are you also bringing an offer for Russia to become a full member in the G-7 or any other economic incentives?
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: My purpose in going to Moscow is to lay out what we are looking at in terms of a package -- that we make it clear to the Russians that the enlargement of NATO is something that is positive, that shows a new NATO that it is based on creating a sense of stability in central and eastern Europe of which they would be beneficiaries as well as we. I will be talking to them about the CFE framework agreement and the possibilities of the elements of a NATO Russian charter. And generally making it clear to them that they are respected members of the international community, that they have global responsibilities and that it is important for them to understand that their presence in the international community is welcomed. I am not going to be giving more specifics than the one I have just described.
QUESTION: Madam Secretary do you agree with recent comments made by Mr. Rifkind and by William Cohens that there is .(inaudible)?
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Let me say that I, we are in the United States concerned about the increasing tensions in the eastern Mediterranean and we share the concern generally with our NATO partners about what seems to be a deteriorating situation. We will be watching it very closely.
QUESTION: Madam Secretary, could I ask you about your discussions with the Prime Minister and Sir Patrick Mayhew with regard to Northern Ireland?
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: The situation was described to me by the Prime Minister and Sir Patrick and I responded by saying that President Clinton remains committed to long term support for the search for peace in Northern Ireland. We have strongly condemned the renewal of IRA terrorist attacks, and we will continue to support the efforts of the British and Irish governments and the political parties in Northern Ireland to move forward with the peace process. We think it is very important that there be, intact, a credible cease-fire.
QUESTION: Foreign Secretary and Secretary of State, have you discussed the Iraq and was there any agreement on future steps to be taken?.
FOREIGN SECRETARY RIFKIND: We did have a discussion on Iraq and we both take the view that Saddam Hussein remains a very serious threat to the region, that it is necessary for the international community to be aware of the danger that he represents. We give full support to Mr. Ekeus and the UNSCOM mission because that is doing very viable work which will provide stability for the full region. I look forward to the day when Iraq will one day be able to be a normal country in the region, be able to participate in all the activities. In the meantime, we have, as you know, agreed to humanitarian help for the people of Iraq and that, I believe, demonstrates the good will that exists. But, we cannot ignore the continuing danger represented by the current regime.
QUESTION: Mr. Foreign Secretary, Madam Secretary, do you feel that you can safely rule out, at this point, a power struggle in Beijing?
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: I think that it is very difficult to comment on the issues there. Deng Xiaoping -- the announcement of his death has just been made. It would obviously be a great advantage to the Chinese, as well as to all of us, if there were a smooth transition.
QUESTION: Can I ask you first, what are the prospects for bringing Syrians and Israelis towards the peace table. Second of all, in view of the information that we have that (inaudible) what is going to be done by both countries to try to placate both parties in the Middle East peace process?
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: We have said for some time that it is very important for the momentum from the Hebron agreement to be translated into some momentum on the Israeli-Syrian track. We are hopeful that some formula for restarting the talks there will be found and the United States will continue to be an honest broker as the parties are able to begin to talk to each other. We think, as far as some of the actions that have been discussed by Prime Minister Netanyahu, that we would like to see some focus on redeployment and that additional action in and around Jerusalem at this stage is not helpful.
QUESTION: Secretary of State, may I ask you about Deng Xiaoping? Many people of the west remember him, primarily, for his role in Tianneman Square while many Chinese remember him for his economic reforms. How do you think he will be remembered?
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: I think that, as with many people, it will be a mixed remembrance. I think, clearly, the Tianneman Square actions were very troublesome to everybody who has been following the issue of human rights in China. But I think, also, one does have to see him as a historic figure who did, in fact, open China up in a way that the Foreign Secretary and I have described. It is a mixed assessment.
QUESTION: (question in Czech -- not translated)
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: (answer in Czech -- not translated)
QUESTION: Are you confident, after your talks in Bonn, Paris and London, that the first wave of countries to be admitted to NATO (inaudible) in April 1999. Or is there any hindrance that may actually prevent it.
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: What is evident from my talks in Brussels and generally, is that we are on the road to Madrid. There is a calendar. The first invitations will be issued in Madrid and by 1999 the ratification processes that will go along with it, we expect to take place. So, I think that there is little doubt that we are on the road to Madrid and that the calendar will be accepted.
QUESTION: The Mexican government has made an accusation against this commissioner in the fight against drugs. You have been talking a great about the fighting. Do you think the Mexican government is doing enough in the war against drugs?
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: There clearly has been concern that the Mexican government has had, as has the United States, about the drug issues and the Mexicans have been working very hard to try to deal with the problem. It is a highly sensitive issue to the Mexican government and we respect the actions that they are taking.
QUESTION: Mr. Foreign Secretary can you confirmed reports that the UK is actually proposing a 5,000 strong multinational peace force for Cyprus. Would that be part of another wave of American in Italy?
FOREIGN SECRETARY RIFKIND: No, I can't confirm these reports because it's the first I've heard of them.
QUESTION: It was in the Sunday paper.
FOREIGN SECRETARY RIFKIND: Well, that doesn't necessarily make them accurate. We, of course, at the moment participate in the United Nations force in Cyprus and we recognize that if there is a peace agreement in Cyprus for the reunification of the island that will require some new initiatives but that's I'm afraid still some way ahead. Thank you very much indeed.


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