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U.S. Department of State

Great Seal Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright and
National Security Advisor Sandy Berger, and
Deputy Secretary of the Treasury Larry Summers
Press briefing at the Hotel Inter-Continental
Helsinki, Finland, March 21, 1997
As released by the Office of the Press Secretary
The White House, Helsinki, Finland

Blue Bar

8:15 P.M. (L)

MR. MCCURRY: An all-star cast here to brief you a little bit about the President's very successful summit with President Yeltsin today. I've asked Secretary of State Madeleine Albright to start first. She will be followed by National Security Advisor Sandy Berger, followed by Deputy Secretary of the Treasury Larry Summers. I also have General Shalikashvili here and Robert Bell who is the Senior Director for the National Security Council for Defense Policy. They're available, too, to either speak or to take any questions you may have on the arms control aspects of today's summit.
A pleasure to have them all here. Thank you all.
Madam Secretary.
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Thank you very much. Well, we have just concluded a major summit in which there was historic progress in European security, nuclear arms reduction, and economic cooperation with Russia. We were able to advance America's interest by cooperating on deep arms cuts, while building the new Europe, which President Clinton has talked about -- a new Europe where NATO enlargement will take place and NATO-Russian cooperation will expand.
In other words, by pursuing our partnership with Russia, ensuring the enlargement of NATO, and advancing the arms control agenda all at the same time, President Clinton made history in Helsinki.
What we have seen today is an exercise in statesmanship at the highest levels -- two Presidents who have not agreed on everything, but have showed true leadership and cemented their cooperation.
Summits are different than they used to be. These meetings are not organized to struggle through a crisis, as in the past. They are increasingly a reflection of a mature relationship, which means that they take into account differences, but don't allow those differences to derail a common agenda. For example, we made major progress on arms control here in Helsinki, despite some of the differences on NATO enlargement.
It's very important to keep two aspects in mind -- the future European security cooperation was handled in the broadest possible framework. NATO enlargement is a central issue, but our overall goal is to build wide cooperation between Russia, U.S. and Europe.
The two Presidents talked through their differences on NATO and they understand each other's positions better. They are not likely to agree on everything, but they do agree that our complex security agenda must move forward. The joint statement on European security is an important document; it reaffirms principles of cooperation, and above all, our commitment to a secure, undivided, and democratic Europe.
The two Presidents also confirmed that to build that new Europe we must integrate a series of mutually supporting institutions. This is important. NATO is a central institution, but it cannot do the job alone. The basis for our work will be the principles of the OSCE, including human rights and fundamental freedoms, but also, as the joint statement points out, the right of every nation to choose the means to ensure its own security. This refers also to the right to enter treaties of alliance.
As major powers outside of Europe, the U.S. and Russia place special importance on using the OSCE framework to play a role in managing crises in Europe, and recent events in Albania are a case in point. The President has already described his discussions on NATO strategy, and in the security document the two sides stressed their determination to rise above the differences through practical steps. The key differences of vision will not derail practical cooperation. The NATO-Russia charter will be the centerpiece of this cooperation in Europe, and we've also shown that we can advance our interest in arms control at the same time.
There are specific references to NATO defense strategy, both conventional and military forces, which in fact describe existing NATO policy. And just to make that clear again, it has been stated by the North Atlantic Council on December 10 that NATO members have no intention, no plan, and no reason to deploy nuclear weapons on the territory of new member states, nor do they see any future need to do so. President Clinton noted NATO's willingness to include a reference to this policy in the NATO-Russia document, which President Yeltsin welcomed.
Also, on March 14, the North Atlantic Council stated that -- quote -- "In the current and foreseeable security environment, the Alliance will carry out its collective defense and other missions by ensuring the necessary interoperability, integration and capability for reenforcement, rather than by additional permanent stationing of substantial combat forces." Also let me reiterate that there is no limit or any restriction on infrastructure in NATO.
So I think that on the whole we can all agree that we have had a successful summit where a very large agenda was dealt with successfully. And I will now let my colleagues explain the other parts of it.
Sandy Berger.
MR. BERGER: If I could just summarize on the NATO-Russia piece, I would say that the Presidents agreed to disagree about NATO enlargement; that means NATO enlargement will go forward as scheduled, as the President has said, in Madrid, at the same time that NATO and Russia work on a charter that develop their own relationship.
Now, the other, second significant mention of this summit has been some substantial breakthroughs in the arms control area. There are three related breakthroughs. One was a firm commitment by President Yeltsin to promptly press for Duma ratification of START II. This commitment by President Yeltsin was facilitated by agreements on two other related matters. One is a set of guidelines or parameters for START III, and the second is, finally, after three years of negotiation, an agreement on ABM-TMD demarkation. That is the line between ABM systems that allows our theater systems to go forward. And let me speak for a moment about both of those statements.
On the START III guidelines that will provide the guidance for negotiations, they provide for reductions to the level of 2,000 to 2,500 warheads. For the first time the parties will be negotiating on actual warhead destruction as opposed to simply systems destruction. There will be a timetable for both START II and START III that, in a sense, mesh together. All of the destruction of systems for START II and START III will be completed by the year 2007, as the President indicated. The deactivation of warheads under START II will be extended one year from the beginning of 2003, the deadline, until the end of 2003, as the President indicated.
Obviously, the START II and START III aspects of this are subject to ratification by both our Senate and by the Duma.
Now, the third very significant agreement that has bedeviled arms control negotiators for, I believe, three or four years and has caused an awful lot of airfare miles on the part of many arms control people is the ABM-TMD issue. And we reached an agreement today which preserves the ABM treaty. Both sides affirm, again, the importance of maintaining the ABM treaty.
It permits all six of our current systems to go forward, unimpeded. It constrains only testing of theater missiles against strategic targets, not something that we have planned, and provides for consultations but no veto through the standing consultative commission in Geneva on new technologies that may be developed in the future, and continued cooperation between the United States and Russia on TMD cooperation -- for example, on sharing early warning information, on joint exercises, on possible joint R&D.
So let me just sum up by trying to state what I think the significance of these two agreements are. In terms of the START guidelines, it means, as the President has said, that within a decade there will be an 80-percent reduction if we are successful in START III of U.S. and Russian strategic nuclear warheads that were deployed at the end of the Cold War just five years ago.
Number two, that will provide greater strategic stability at lower levels and, therefore, reduce the nuclear danger for our peoples and for the entire world.
Number three, we will seek to destroy warheads for the first time -- strategic warheads for the first time of arms control. Four, we'll also address non-strategic nuclear weapons in START III -- that is, tactical nuclear weapons as a separate but related issue. And as I say, the significance of this, in part, is it will enable -- has enabled President Yeltsin to say that he will go forward promptly with ratification of START II.
The significance of the ABM-TMD agreement, I would say basically three -- one, we have demonstrated that the ABM treaty can be maintained as a cornerstone of strategic stability and still be adapted to deal with the very real threat of shorter-range missiles that we seek to deal with through our theater systems.
Second of all, it, as I says, reconfirms that all of our current systems can go forward unimpeded; and third, together with the START III guidelines, removes what has been an obstacle to START II ratification in the Duma.
Let me now ask Larry to briefly summarize the economic portions of the meeting.
DEPUTY SECRETARY SUMMERS: On economic issues, this was as positive a summit as any that President Clinton and President Yeltsin have had. The two Presidents devoted much of the lunch discussion to economic issues. President Clinton congratulated President Yeltsin on his March 6th economic speech laying out his economic strategy, going forward, and on his appointment of a new reform-oriented economic team.
The two Presidents agreed at this point on the process on the central importance of investment for economic growth in Russia. They agreed also on the importance of a number of concrete steps that the Russian government needed to take to promote a healthy investment climate. Those include comprehensive tax reform, an improvement of tax administration, the passage through the Duma of the bilateral investment treaty and production-sharing agreement legislation, as well as measures to fight corruption.
President Clinton indicated his continuing commitment to providing finance to support investment in Russia through the Ex-Im Bank and OPIC. Already appropriated funds at EX-IM and OPIC can support up to $4 billion in new investment in Russia if the policy climate in Russia permits.
Much of the discussion focused on Russia's integration into the international economic architecture. It was agreed that work would continue to allow Russia to join the OECD as soon as possible. The two leaders set as a target date 1997 for Russia's joining as a full member of the Paris Club which handles the debts of -- official debts of debtor countries, subject to an appropriate agreement being reached with other creditor countries.
The two countries also agreed on a -- set as an objective Russia's accession to the WTO, and that the United States would work to promote that objective, again subject to Russia being able to meet the commercial conditions for membership in the WTO that are applied to acceding members.
Finally, in recognition of the continuing evolution of the Russian government and economy, President Clinton invited President Yeltsin to come at the beginning of the summit in Denver, and made clear that the trend towards increased participation of Russia in the Summit of the 8 would be a continuing one.
QUESTION: So it's not -- they're not full members --
DEPUTY SECRETARY SUMMERS: There will be a Summit of the 8 in which Russia will be a full participant in the Summit of the 8. At the same time in Denver, I anticipate that there will be some economic issues which the 7 nations will continue to discuss and may issue a statement about those economic issues. However, the press conference, the communique of the summit will come from the 8.
QUESTION: It's a one-time -- not a blanket for all future G-7s, correct?
DEPUTY SECRETARY SUMMERS: I think that will be something -- at this point, the invitation is to Denver, but I would anticipate that this could well be an arrangement that continues -- the trend over time has been toward increased Russian participation.
QUESTION: Is it fair to say, for the time being that the core historical economic issues handled by the G-7, such as discussions on exchange rates, will continue to be discussed only by the finance ministers of the 7, excluding Russia?
DEPUTY SECRETARY SUMMERS: There are many different issues that are discussed. It's fair to say that there will be certain core financial issues which will continue to be discussed by the G-7 finance ministers and then the G-7 finance ministers with their heads of government. But there certainly will be economic issues that I would anticipate would be discussed in the Summit of the 8.
QUESTION: -- G-8 or a Summit of the 8 in Moscow at this point --
DEPUTY SECRETARY SUMMERS: I think it would be very premature to try to judge that.
QUESTION: I'd like to address a question to Mr. Berger, and perhaps to Bob Bell. As recently as Monday afternoon, quite senior people in the administration were saying that there was no prospect of an ABM-TMD agreement anytime soon. Could you say something about how this came about?
MR. BERGER: I think those same senior officials may have been saying it at 4:00 p.m. this afternoon. I think that this was the issue perhaps that most time was spent on in the summit. Well, a good part of the morning session was spent on the Euro security issues that Secretary Albright has discussed. They then moved to the START and ABM-TMD issues, which continued in various configurations through the afternoon.
I think, finally, when it became absolutely clear that we could both preserve the ABM system, but also proceed ahead with the six systems that we have under -- that we are proceeding with, that agreement fell into place. I'm not sure that we were expecting all that to happen as we got here, but the negotiations from our perspective were very successful.
Bob, do you want to add anything?
MR. BELL: Mike suggests I just give a very short chronology. This started really three and a half years ago when the Clinton administration in the fall of '93, at the five-year ABM review conference, laid down a comprehensive proposal for demarkation that was based on one simple rule, and that was whether you ever tested a theater missile defense system against a strategic target.
That proposal was not accepted by the Russians, and after a year or two of not much progress, we made a fundamental decision to split the negotiations in half and concentrate on the so-called lower velocity theater missile defense systems where, indeed, we were able to reach agreement, and fully expected that we would be able to sign that and get on with the harder problems that we finally reached resolution on today.
But as those of you who have followed this know, there have been a lot of zigs and zags on this and many previous occasions where we thought that we had agreement to go forward with part one only to find when we got there that the Russians in effect were saying, until we finish the whole problem we're not going to split off part of it.
So going into the last several weeks, really intensive travel, as Sandy said. On this question of the remaining higher velocity systems, we have consistently run into a roadblock wherein the Russians were saying unless an additional set of constraints that were unacceptable to the administration and unacceptable to the chiefs in the military services were added to this demarkation regime, there wouldn't be an agreement on anything; indeed, there wouldn't be an agreement on the START issues and there wouldn't be an agreement on going forward with START II ratification in the Duma. And as Sandy just said, that position held until about 4:00 p.m. this afternoon when we had the breakthrough.
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Can I say, too, that when I met with President Yeltsin in Moscow in January, he said, there are some questions that can only be resolved by Presidents. This question was resolved by two Presidents.
QUESTION: To follow up Bob Bell, please. Bob, are you saying that the Russians, in fact, relinquished their demands for specific performance limits on higher speed, higher capability systems?
MR. BELL: Well, I think it's important to recognize what's agreed and then what is not part of the regime. As Sandy said, we have agreed on a very important testing constraint. We agree that these higher-speed TMD systems -- and we have one principal program that's called the Navy Theater-wide, or Navy Upper Tier System -- for those faster TMD systems, you cannot test them against a strategic target without them getting captured then as an ABM.
Beyond that, we've agreed in this breakthrough agreement that we reached today that for those faster systems, we will share information on those programs with the Russians so they understand that they're designed to protect our troops and are not aimed at Russia, or designed to deal with the Russians; and second, that as newer technologies emerge, such as a laser program, for example, we will consult with them and talk through the compliance issues they have in their minds if they feel there are compliance issues. But as Sandy said, there is no veto associated with that consultation.
Now, beyond that, we have an obligation, the President has an obligation to uphold the law, and treaties are the supreme law of the land. And he is required to ensure that all of our faster TMD systems comply with the ABM treaty. And we'll continue through the normal Defense Department process to conduct those compliance reviews, just as we did with the Navy Upper Tier System, to be able to certify to Congress that, indeed, it is consistent with the treaty.
QUESTION: Was this agreement on ABM negotiated with Primakov, or was it negotiated with Russian military? And if so, who?
MR. BERGER: It was negotiated at various levels, but it was an agreement reached by the two Presidents.
QUESTION: General Shalikashvili, these concessions that the U.S. is making to the Russians as far as implementing START II, delaying some of the destruction of their silos or their warheads, dismantling some of those warheads, are these unilateral concessions or can the U.S. military similarly delay implementing aspects of START II as well?
GENERAL SHALIKASHVILI: I, first of all, wouldn't characterize them at all as concessions. I think what was agreed upon is in the best interest, security interest of the United States. Those time limits that Sandy outlined here are time limits that apply to both, both parties.
QUESTION: Will the U.S. military delay implementing --
MR. BERGER: Can I just add two things? Number one, don't forget that START II was negotiated four years ago and that those timetables were put in place four years ago, so that they're obviously -- there's been some change by virtue of that delay.
Second of all, in order for these -- our Senate has ratified START II with one set of timetables. If the Duma ratifies START II with a different set of timetables, we would have to submit something back to the Senate, either a protocol with those adjustments, or, ideally if we have START III completed in time, we would submit both together -- the adjustment of the timetable and START III. But the START II obviously is not enforced until there is an exchange of instruments of ratification by the two governments.
QUESTION: Secretary Albright, could you game out for us just how the next weeks go in terms of negotiating this NATO-Russian document? Would it require -- that there be a special U.S. negotiator? How do you see that playing out?
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Well, first of all, you have to keep in mind this is a NATO-Russia agreement, and the chief negotiator is the Secretary General of NATO Solana. And he is the one that is going to be carrying on these discussions. And the process will unfold as rapidly as he gets the various pieces into place. So we are hopeful that that agreement as has been discussed here today and in other places will, in fact, be able to be agreed to by all the members fairly rapidly.
QUESTION: And do you think it might be wrapped it before the President comes back to Europe in May?
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: It's possible. But the important point here is that Madrid -- that is, the invitation for accession to new members -- will take place in July no matter what, and that that is on a track of its own. And we would hope, obviously, that the NATO-Russian charter could, in fact, be done as rapidly as possible. But the timetables of the two are not hinged to each other in any way -- two tracks.
QUESTION: Can I follow up on that? As recently as two days ago, President Yeltsin was sounding non-negotiable on the idea that this could be anything but a treaty. Could you describe the process by which he came around to agreeing to a document that was something short of a treaty?
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: I would say that what was important to him was that there would be an agreement among the various NATO heads to the fact that this was an important agreement. And so, what it said in the language itself is that it would be signed by the leaders of NATO countries and Russia, and this document would be an enduring commitment at the highest political level.
And I can't speak for President Yeltsin, but the sense that I got from being in the meetings was that he felt that this was an appropriate way to solidify what will clearly be a very important agreement.
MR. BERGER: Can I just add one thing? This is not, obviously, an unprecedented circumstance. The Helsinki Accords, for example, were here in Helsinki -- were signed by leaders. They have had enormous impact. They are enduring commitments, but they don't represent legally binding commitments in that sense.
The second thing I would say is, there are aspects of all of this that relate to, for example, a CFE agreement, if we were to get one, which relate to START II and START III, which obviously would be submitted to Congress for approval.
QUESTION: Madam Secretary, do you share President Yeltsin's confidence of his ability to get START II through communist and nationalist-dominated Duma which has made explicit its connection of ratification with NATO expansion, not merely with ABM issues? And if they do not ratify, if they turn down the treaty, what happens then?
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Well, first of all, I think that both President Yeltsin and Foreign Minister Primakov are committed to pushing, as they can, on ratification in the Duma. And I think that we have to watch the process unfold.
What I think is as important for the Duma as for all of us is that these agreements be seen in the national interest of the respective countries. And it is our belief that once people see how all these interlocking pieces are structured that all will feel comfortable that Russia is in no way threatened by the new NATO. As we have said, there is a new Russia, and there is also a new NATO. And that new NATO does not have a single enemy. And I think it's going to be very important for all to understand how all these documents fit together.
QUESTION: Madam Secretary, could you give us a little of the atmospherics in the room? Did it ever get testy or intense, or what was it like this time? They both looked more tired than after previous summits.
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Well, let me start, and then Sandy might want to continue. I actually found the whole day intense, but fascinating. Here were two high political leaders who were engaged on a whole range of subjects on which they both had expert knowledge. And they covered -- they would begin discussions and set out what the agenda would be and at certain stages set them aside and then return. I think there is a really quite remarkable dynamic between President Clinton and President Yeltsin. They were very glad to see each other again. And they worked hard. They clearly worked hard. They earned their pay today.
MR. BERGER: Let me just add two things. One, in part -- in answer to your question, of course, if they didn't ratify START II, we would operate under START I for so long as that were the case. And that's another part of the answer.
I agree with what the Secretary has said. This was a day that started about 9:00 a.m. and the meetings went until 6:00 p.m. There were supposed to be fairly large breaks. There was really only one break which took place after lunch for about an hour in which there were some side meetings that the Secretary and others had. But this was eight hours of very intense one-on-one discussion -- very frank, very candid. The President was very, very clear in reaffirming our position, reaffirming the five nos that you've all heard so much about with respect to NATO enlargement. President Yeltsin was clear that they didn't like NATO expansion.
But I think this is a pivot point in which they preserved their position that they still don't like NATO enlargement, but they're going to deal with it. And I think that only came after a good deal of back-and-forth between the two leaders.
QUESTION: Did they ever raise their voices?
MR. BERGER: No. I'm not speaking about other people, but they didn't. (Laughter.)
QUESTION: I wonder if the issue of the Baltic states was discussed at all, but, in particular, whether this -- right to choose the means to ensure their own security --
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: The subject did come up generally, and the President -- President Clinton made very clear that NATO was open to all market democracies and that we were not going to be a part of creating any new artificial dividing lines in Europe, and that the first countries that would enter NATO would not be the last.
And the phrase that you refer to was, in fact, in the statement as it was accepted, so I can only presume that it would also apply. And I think that this was one of the subjects where, as Sandy said, there was not total agreement. But President Clinton made completely clear what was the American position on that. And that is where some of these nos came in.
QUESTION: Do you now expect within a reasonable time the Baltic states to become NATO applicants?
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: I'm not going to predict the timing of any of the applicants.
QUESTION: Secretary Albright, can you tell us what happened to cause this late afternoon breakthrough on the ABM treaty, which then seemed to have created all this positive news that you had for us?
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Well, as I said, I think that there are certain decisions that can only be made by Presidents, and we witnessed two strong Presidents making decisions which created a breakthrough.
QUESTION: On the Denver summit, did Mr. Yeltsin indicate he is happy about that, or is he still sticking to his red jacket complaint of a few years ago that he's not yet received the status he deserves?
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: My impression, when that was announced or when it was discussed, President Yeltsin seemed very pleased.
MR. MCCURRY: Thank you. I want to thank all the briefers.
I also want to do one thing. I told a little story earlier about the President being awake at night. I want to make it absolutely clear that we are not speculating on what the cause of the bumps in the night were. It may, in fact, have been someone walking around on the ninth floor. And I also want to pay tribute to the fine staff here at the Hotel Inter-Continental for all the help they gave us. They did a wonderful job hosting us here.
QUESTION: Mike, there were reports of demonstrators banging pots and pans outside the hotel in the middle of the night around the same time. Is it possible that's what woke the President up?
MR. MCCURRY: It's conceivable. That actually is what woke me up. They, I think, were human rights protesters who were outside the front of the hotel around 1:20 a.m., and they were blowing whistles and having a good time -- creating an enjoyable noise.
Anything else before we say farewell to all of you?
Let me -- one last thing. There will be a -- as you know, the two Presidents now are at dinner. They had intended to use this, the dinner tonight, to unwind from a fairly intense day and also do some more -- what we had talked about earlier -- thinking ahead in this relationship to the 21st century and how we think of Russia-U.S. relations as we think of the realities of the new era that we live in, and take a longer range view of where things are.
One of the participants in that dinner I think whose staying behind will be down here after the dinner who will give you flavor of it and maybe some of the color. That might be helpful.
Anything else?
QUESTION: -- the other 16 heads of states if they are all likely to sign?
MR. MCCURRY: Oh, we have had extensive consultations within the North Atlantic Council. There's been a real deal of preview work done for a number of the items that were on the discussion agenda today. And we will, of course, be going forward with additional briefings to capitals and further consultations with our allies. I expect that we'll also very shortly be in a position to brief Secretary General Solana on this meeting since he has lead responsibility on behalf the Alliance in negotiating with the Russian Federation the details of the charter document.
Okay, thank you, everyone. We'll see you back in Washington Monday.
THE PRESS: Thank you.

END: 8:52 P.M. (L)

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