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U.S. Department of State

Great Seal Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright
Press briefing enroute to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
July 25, 1997
As released by the Office of the Spokesman, Kuala Lumpur
U.S. Department of State

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SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: This is my third trip to Asia since I have been Secretary of State and I think it should be viewed as the importance that the Administration and I, personally, are giving to Asia in terms of our strategic interests and priorities, and generally in terms of the importance of Asia to the United States for economic reasons and security reasons. You will see me go there more, and you will go with me, because we really do view it as highly important to us. We have 100,000 troops deployed in the region, there is a huge trade relationship and increasing interest in the countries on a bilateral relationship.
I am very pleased to be going to my first meeting with the ASEAN. This is an organization that was started thirty years ago under quite different circumstances. The nations that were involved in it, in some form or another, each was engulfed in violence. They formed a group that has now, I think, exceeded even their expectations in terms of what can be accomplished. Their behavior towards each other, I think, is exemplary in terms of the way they operate on a consensual basis. The collegiality of the ASEAN group has a reputation around the world in terms of the way countries of diverse size and interests can work together.
They now are faced with challenges. One is to operate more outward. They have already done a great deal in terms of showing their support for the Paris Peace Accords, their relationship with APEC and generally looking outwards. The other challenge is how to look inwards and how to deal with their expanding numbers and how they will be absorbing new members.
I am looking forward, very much, to meeting with them and developing a relationship, a partnership, with this organization as we look at the priorities for the region.
Finally, obviously the big subject will be Cambodia. This is a very high priority for the United States and one that I have been personally interested in for some time. Parenthetically, when I was president of the Center for National Policy, we did in fact have a whole project with Cambodia, the Center still does. I had gone to Cambodia when I was Ambassador to the United Nations on one of my first trips to look at peacekeeping operations. It is a high priority.
Second, I will be meeting with Mr. Solarz on Saturday morning to get a report from him on what his mission has produced and get an idea from him on what he has learned. I think it is very important that Hun Sen has now indicated that he would in some form cooperate with ASEAN. I am looking forward to talking with the ASEAN members about how we can take some cooperative measures. All of us, I think, will be pressing to make sure that elections take place next year.
That is what our thinking is as we go from leg to leg on this long trip.
QUESTION: How will you ensure when the elections are held -- what sort of benchmarks will you use to determine whether they are free and fair?
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: We now have a lot of experience about how to determine whether elections are free and fair. One of the important parts about what was wanted in Cambodia was more than one party, the possibility of the people that are in exile coming back and participating, and generally the voters are in a position to make an assessment of for whom you want to vote. What was so exemplary was that with the elections that were held previously something like ninety percent of the people participated in them. There was a great sense of joy about participating in those elections. One would hope that the people of Cambodia would be allowed to make their choices again. Obviously there would have to be international monitors and the various ways that the international community now ensures that the elections are free and fair.
QUESTION: Madam Secretary, do you think you will be able to convince ASEAN and other countries in Asia, like Japan, that they should also suspend most of their aid to Cambodia until those free and fair elections can be carried out? Or, do you feel many of them will want to resume aid simply if Hun Sen promises that there will be such elections at a time certain.
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Steve, I think this is one of the subjects that we will spend a lot of time discussing. As you know, we have suspended our aid and I will be looking, again, at what we should do as the situation progresses. Other countries have different views on how they use their aid programs. I know that in previous discussions with the Japanese on other subjects they just approach it differently. I would like to resist making a predication on this, but it will be a subject that we will be talking about.
QUESTION: The elections are next year. What is your short-term goal for Hun Sen? He says he welcomes ASEAN but does not want interference in his internal affairs. And the Malaysian Prime Minister, in opening the ASEAN meeting, said they were not going to interfere in anyone's internal affairs. What can you expect in the short-run, particularly if Hun Sen manages to get Ung Huot appointed as First Prime Minister and nothing much will change? Is that a solution that you can live with?
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: What we would like to see is, first of all, an end to all violence. We expect there will be a National Assembly vote -- they say Monday -- in terms of trying to determine who the FUNCINPEC will have as their candidate for Prime Minister. I think that what we would like to see are preparations for these elections. This goes back to the first question -- everyone focuses on these elections as if they are a one day event. It is a process. We would be looking at how those preparations are being undertaken, access to media, and the possibility of multi-parties. I also think that Hun Sen is basically saying two things -- he has said no interference, and yet he has said that he will cooperate, or look to ASEAN for ways of discussing the issue. We will have to see. We want to make sure there is no violence, and, again, the five principles that we have talked about in terms of no dealings with the Khmer Rouge and working towards having a system that would allow people to vote.
QUESTION: Given the end-result of the FBI investigation into the bombing in Phnom Penh, the grenade attack, can you perceive the United States having a relationship with a Cambodian government that includes Hun Sen?
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: The way that Hun Sen took power is not something we favor. We have spoken out directly that taking power by force is not the procedure that we find acceptable. What we want to have is the possibility within Cambodia that moves toward this electoral process and return to a situation of normalcy. We have to judge Hun Sen's behavior as it moves forward. Whether he is capable now of dealing with another Prime Minister in a power-sharing situation, and where there is no resort to force. We have to make clear that there are certain methods of governing that are acceptable and those that are not.
QUESTION: Madam Secretary, can you talk a little bit about how you perceive Vietnam's approach to Cambodia? Its been very supportive of Hun Sen. You praised Vietnam is your speech yesterday -- its moving forward. Do you think its behavior in support of Hun Sen is appropriate? And what about China? What role has China played in this?
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: I think that all of the countries in the region are taking their own look at how to relate to Hun Sen and to Cambodia. The Hun Sen-Vietnam relationship has been one of long-standing. I would like to see, when we get to ASEAN, generally about how countries are reacting to Hun Sen. It is, in many ways, obviously very sad about what happened in Cambodia, but also fortuitous that there is an ASEAN meeting at this moment that will allow us to look at this. I will be very interested to hear what the Vietnamese have to say and also what the Chinese have to say. I think the Chinese have played a very positive role in Cambodia thus far. I have many times stated as an example of our relationship with China the positive role that they have played in Cambodia. I want to have that kind of discussion with them -- one, when I meet with Foreign Minister Qian Qichen, and also I want to hear the discussion in the ASEAN meeting.
QUESTION: Madam Secretary, are you concerned that as ASEAN expands it is taking in countries that are autocratic and moving away from the kinds of democratic principles that have swept the rest of the world and that we would like to see in this part of the world?
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: As you know, the United States has made it quite clear that we did not think they should be taking Burma in, as an example. But we have believed, as have they, that they want to have an ASEAN-10 and they are, as I said in my introductory remarks, going to have to sort out themselves how they deal with taking in different kinds of governments. That is what I said -- they have to look inside to figure out how they would deal with different governments.
It is our hope that they will use their influence with the SLORC in order to get them to have a dialogue with the NLD and Aung Sung Suu Kyi. One needs to respect ASEAN's method of operating, which is something I said initially. They have a very collegial approach and operate by consensus. Their method of operating should in fact be used in a way that deals with different forms of government in appropriate ways.
QUESTION: Madam Secretary, you also said that North Korea would be an issue that would be important that you would raise at the ASEAN meetings. Are you pleased with the way the situation is developing; with the progress that has been made in terms of food aid being given to North Korea and their openness and transparency about it and their willingness to deal with the international community? Do you think that North Korea will really come to the Four-Party talks, or will they continue to use the issue of food aid as a form of blackmail, actually?
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: There are a number of encouraging signs in terms of North Korea. I am hopeful that they will come to the Four-Party talks and have no reason to believe at this time that they will not. In terms of the food aid, Catherine Bertini of the World Food Program has in fact, today, made a very clear statement about the fact that there is starvation in North Korea and that is the reason that we are providing food aid. I do not want to characterize, the way that you did, their approach. They have starving people and we believe its important for us to provide food through the World Food Program. We are the lead donor on it. We believe it is important to do for humanitarian reasons. Also, the private trip that Senator Nunn and former Ambassador Laney took, they have reported on having good and useful talks. I will be talking with them myself when I get back. I have just read cable traffic on it. I understand they had good talks. We have moved back and forth a lot in terms of our hopes of their participation in talks, but as I said, I am hopeful and I have no reason to believe that they will not participate.
One of the subjects that will come up during the meetings will be KEDO and our belief that the Framework Agreement there has been a very important one. We will want to see increased participation by other countries in KEDO.
QUESTION: Madam Secretary, you said this was your third trip to Asia. I am wondering how you figured out how the United States can try to influence Asian countries, help Asian countries, work and cooperate with Asian countries without being accused of intervening? That seems to be the tough line to walk.
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: I think that what is very important -- and its not true just with our dealings with Asia, but throughout the world -- as I have said many times, is that the United States has a special role in the world. One, by our own choosing because we are a country that has very fixed ideas about political rights and human rights and the fact that we believe that democracies do not go to war with each other but provide a very good climate for their own people as well as the American public.
Another reason that we have this leading role is that others have asked us to have it. They find our presence in places useful in terms of providing a secure environment. The 100,000 troops we have in Asia, as well as in Europe, are there primarily because the countries in the region welcome it.
I am very proud of the role the United States plays, whether in Asia or in Europe. We need to be true to our principles in describing how we believe various societies should operate for the benefit of their people. But there are different ways of making those points, in terms of tone and how one addresses people. I believe that the best role for the United States is as of partner and as somebody who respects the operating procedures of various countries. Therefore, as I said earlier, I have great respect for the collegial and consensual way that ASEAN works and hope very much that I will benefit from the discussions that I will participate in.
QUESTION: Madam Secretary, you seem to be convinced that Hun Sen is going to accept international mediation, but his statement so far has been very ambiguous on the subject. Have you received any specific assurances from Hun Sen through Mr. Solarz, for example, that he is willing to accept mediation?
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: I did not say I was convinced. I said that I had heard that he had changed his initial reaction to ASEAN's offer to mediate. I will be meeting with Mr. Solarz tomorrow morning. I think he met with Hun Sen today. I will have to see what Mr. Solarz reports. I am not convinced of anything until I see it.
QUESTION: You mentioned the constructive role that China has played in Cambodia. What is it that you hope that China will say or do beyond what they have already said or done in the current situation? Beyond the single issue of Cambodia, are you looking forward to some progress on the bilateral issues when you meet with Foreign Minister Qian Qichen? If so, what concrete issues? How do you interpret the Chinese statement today that they are willing to cooperate on your request to help find Charlie Trie? What do you think they mean by that?
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: The Chinese were very helpful in supporting the Paris Accords. As a matter of fact, everybody that was a part of those peace accords, except France and the Former Yugoslavia, will be present in Kuala Lumpur. I would just expect that the Chinese, along with the others, would continue to make clear that the Paris Peace Accords are the basis of the new Cambodia that was created after all of the killing and that they would be supportive in making sure that the Cambodians can have the elections that we have been talking about, that there is power sharing. Ultimately, that Cambodia never return to the "killing fields." We cannot let the people of Cambodia be subjected again to the horrors that we saw there several decades ago.
As far as my discussions with Foreign Minister Qian Qichen, this is a continuing dialogue. We spoke in Hong Kong. We will be talking about preparations for the summit and will be discussing a whole host of our bilateral issues when we talk. I am hoping to have a very good strategic discussion, and Cambodia will be part of that. Obviously, there are a lot of other issues.
Regarding Charlie Trie, I had requested their help. I have to see. You are ahead of me as I did not hear their reaction. Maybe they can help us find him, that is what we requested. Maybe they know where he is.
QUESTION: Will you be able to set a date for the summit?
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: That is for the White House. I will not be trying to do that.
QUESTION: When do you think the White House might be able to set a date?
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: I do not know.
QUESTION: Madam Secretary, Wei Jingsheng's translator, who is here in the United States, has called on the White House to actually resolve the issue of Wei Jingsheng being paroled because of health issues before the summit. Do you see that happening? Will you bring that up with Qian Qichen?
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: I always bring up human rights cases.
Thank you.

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