[Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: William J. Clinton (1993, Book I)]
[February 5, 1993]
[Pages 53-56]
[From the U.S. Government Publishing Office www.gpo.gov]

The President's News Conference With Prime Minister Brian Mulroney of 
February 5, 1993

Canada-U.S. Relations

    The President. Good afternoon. I'm delighted that my first meeting 
as President with a foreign leader is with the Prime Minister of Canada, 
Brian Mulroney. On the day after I was elected, I spoke of the essential 
continuity of our country's foreign policy. Our steadfast relationship 
with Canada is an indispensable element of that continuity. Prime 
Minister Mulroney and the people of Canada should know that the United 
States is still their friend and their partner.
    It is worth noting that the United States and Canada share the 
world's longest undefended border and that we haven't had a battle 
between us since the War of 1812. Now having said that, Mr. Prime 
Minister, I will tell you that I look forward to winning back the World 
Series. [Laughter]
    Canada has long stood as our partner in promoting democracy and 
human rights around the world. Today Canada is demonstrating her 
international leadership for peace and freedom through her commitment of 
troops in peacekeeping efforts around the world, in Somalia, in Bosnia, 
and elsewhere. Canada is our largest trading partner. Both our nations 
benefit enormously from the immense river of goods and services flowing 
across our border, with an increase of $30 billion just since the free 
trade agreement went into effect.
    It is remarkable how relatively few disputes have attended the 
vigorous trading between us. Yet it is inevitable that there will be 
some disagreements even among close partners. And we agreed today to 
maintain high-level attention to that trading relationship, to ensure 
that the problems are addressed before they become crises.
    The Prime Minister and I discussed the North American Free Trade 
Agreement. I assured him that my administration intends to move forward 
with NAFTA while establishing a process to provide adequate protection 
to workers, to farmers, and to the environment. Canada was our partner 
in working with Mexico to negotiate NAFTA, and Canada will be our 
partner as we move forward to put it and its related agreements into 
effect. We've made a good start here today

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in setting the stage for working together.
    We also discussed the GATT agreement, and I reassured the Prime 
Minister that the United States will do what it can to secure an 
agreement at GATT that all the world can be proud of and can be a 
prosperous part of.
    We reviewed a broad range of global issues, including the 
developments in Russia and elsewhere in the former Soviet Union, the 
crisis in the Balkans, the situation in Somalia and Haiti. We also 
discussed our participation in the Group of Seven and what the United 
States and Canada might hope to achieve this year, and especially this 
summer when the G-7 meets in Tokyo, to help move the global economy out 
of recession and into a strong recovery.
    This was a very good beginning. I want to thank Prime Minister 
Mulroney for coming down from Canada and tell him that he'll always be 
welcome here. And I look forward to visiting you on your home turf soon.
    Prime Minister Mulroney. Thank you, Mr. President. I'll simply say 
that, as the President indicated, we had a very full review of quite a 
large number of items in the few hours we spent together and a very 
productive working lunch. I thought it was a very good meeting and a 
very good beginning of the relationship of Canada with the new 
    The President has indicated the complex issues that we've touched 
on, tried to deal with, principally, of course, and I think you'll 
understand, the relationship between Canada and the United States 
itself. The relationship is by far the most important one the United 
States has in the world. This is the biggest trading relationship ever 
between two nations. And at the end of the year the important thing is 
it tends to be in rough balance, which indicates that you can have free 
trade and prosper.
    And so we're very concerned about the GATT, and we're very concerned 
about trading currents generally and very reassured by the President's 
strong commitments and strong positions in respect of the manner in 
which you bring back and reenergize prosperity around the world.
    So we covered our bilateral arrangements, and we covered a lot of 
the hot spots around the world. And I'm sure that the President and I 
would be happy to take a few questions.

[At this point, the Prime Minister repeated his statement in French.]

    Thank you very much, Mr. President.


    Q. Mr. Prime Minister, what do you think of the changes the 
President wants to make in the NAFTA agreement?
    Prime Minister Mulroney. Well, Helen [Helen Thomas, United Press 
International], the changes that the--the President doesn't--he 
indicated--he will, himself, I'm sure, but the President has indicated 
many times that he is going to sign the NAFTA agreement as it is but 
that he proposes to bring in supplemental agreements with Mexico, 
particularly in regard to some of the points that he has mentioned, that 
do not impact on the NAFTA agreement as concluded. That may change. If 
it does, I'm sure we'll hear from the President. But our information is 
that, by and large, that the NAFTA agreement with those supplemental 
accords is something that he could promote and defend very vigorously.
    I think, Mr. President, that's the position.
    The President. That's right. And I might add that the Prime 
Minister's administration in Canada has had a strong record on the 
environment, something that we want to try to beef up in a supplemental 
agreement, and that Canada would be, I think, more or less in line with 
the United States in terms of its impact on any supplemental labor 
accord we might reach.
    So we certainly intend to work with them. After all, this is a 
three-way agreement, not a two-way agreement. But I still believe, as I 
said many weeks ago, that we can negotiate these agreements without 
reopening the NAFTA itself.


    Q. [Inaudible]--the best way to proceed is to attempt to modify the 
U.N. plan? And how long do you think that negotiations can be relied on 
before stronger action is taken?
    The President. Perhaps the best way to answer your question would be 
to let the Prime Minister communicate his views, which he communicated 
to me, and then let me tell you what my response is. Shall we do that?
    Prime Minister Mulroney. In regard to the Bosnian situation, we 
think, Susan [Susan Spencer, CBS News], that the elements of an 
agreement--there's been a lot of constructive work done, but that there 
are inadequacies in it that can be corrected at the Security Council by

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the involvement, a greater degree of involvement by the United States in 
terms of the accord itself and also the involvement of President 
    We believe that the elements of an agreement, impacted by the 
concern of the United States and Canada in the area of human rights, in 
the area of war crimes, for example, can be--these amendments can be of 
significant substance without altering a lot of the hard and 
constructive work that has taken place so far by Cy Vance and David 
    But it would be important that in this process at the Security 
Council there be greater involvement by Russia and by President Yeltsin. 
And I took the liberty of making some recommendations along those lines 
to the President, and he'll reflect upon them and probably have 
something to say.
    The President. Let me answer now to just reaffirm what our present 
posture is. We have given the Bosnian situation urgent consideration. We 
have reviewed a wide range of options. We certainly will take into 
account what the Prime Minister has said. Our reluctance on the Vance-
Owen proposals, while I applaud the effort both personally and as 
President, is that the United States at the present time is reluctant to 
impose an agreement on the parties to which they do not agree, 
especially when the Bosnian Muslims might be left at a severe 
disadvantage if the agreement is not undertaken in good faith by the 
other parties and cannot be enforced externally.
    So we are looking at that. I think one of the things the Prime 
Minister said is absolutely right: If there is to be a diplomatic 
political solution to this over the long run, we very much need 
President Yeltsin involved and the support of Russia. He reaffirmed to 
me just a few days ago in our telephone conversation his general support 
for the policy that we have outlined. But I'm sure you can understand 
why with a problem this difficult, we would like a few days longer just 
to seriously review this to come up with what our policy is going to be. 
Then we'll announce it as clearly and forcefully and follow it as 
strongly as we possibly can.


    Q. [Inaudible]--is it time to strengthen pressure on Haiti? Do think 
we should have stronger action----

[At this point, a question was asked and answered in French, and a 
translation was not provided.]

    Q. Mr. President, the same question, please.
    The President. As the Prime Minister has said, our Secretary of 
State met today with President Aristide and discussed a wide range of 
issues with him as well as what our efforts have been, the progress and 
the lack of progress of Mr. Caputo's efforts. We talked about where 
we're going with this relationship in the future.
    Let me say that I am committed to restoring democracy to Haiti. I am 
doing my best to work through the U.N. and the OAS with Mr. Caputo. I 
am, frankly, disappointed that the Prime Minister in Haiti has 
apparently backed off a little bit of his original willingness to let us 
send in some third-party observers, not just to protect the petitions 
for refugee status but also to try to stabilize conditions leading 
toward a restoration of democracy there. And we're going to talk to Mr. 
Caputo, see where he thinks things are, and then reassess our position.
    But I share the Prime Minister's determination. The United States 
and Canada should be and are one in our commitment to restoring 
democracy to Haiti. And we will continue to push ahead either on the 
course we're now on, or if that fails, on a more vigorous course toward 
that end.


    Q. What did you tell the President on the deportees in Israel?
    Prime Minister Mulroney. We touched peripherally on the Middle East 
because the Secretary of State is going to, I gather, to the Middle East 
at an early moment. The position of Canada, my own view is that we tend 
not to try and give Israel lessons in regard to the determinations it 
has to make about its own national security. Israel's entitled to make 
some important value judgments about itself.
    That being said, I congratulated the President and the Secretary of 
State for their leadership in bringing about the first step of the 
return of the hundred deportees, which I think was an excellent example 
of diplomacy and international leadership by the President.
    It's the first step. It's not the whole answer. And it's a 
complicated matter which I think will be resolved--where the resolution 
of which will be clearer after Secretary of State Chris-

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topher has had an opportunity to visit the region. But I think that 
we're supportive of the U.N. resolutions, but I'm always very concerned 
when people start to lecture Israel on the manner in which it has to 
look after its own internal security, because for very important 
historical reasons, Israel, of course, is better qualified than most to 
make determinations about its own well-being.


    Q. Mr. President, on Bosnia, do you expect that there would be an 
American diplomatic initiative to replace what you see as the flaws in 
the Vance-Owen initiative?
    The President. I can't say that at this time. As I say, I applaud 
the efforts that have been made by Lord Owen and by Secretary Vance. I 
think that they have done the very best they could. And I don't 
criticize the details so much as--it's not a criticism so much as a 
reluctance on the part of the United States to impose on parties an 
agreement which they do not freely accept themselves, particularly one 
that might work to the immediate and to the long-term further 
disadvantage of the Bosnian Muslims.
    But I would not rule out any option at this time. We have a wide 
range of options under consideration. We are working very hard on this. 
We will settle on a course and then do our best to consult with our 
allies and win broad support for it. You heard the Prime Minister say 
that over the long run we need President Yeltsin's involvement in this, 
and I agree. You heard me say that we hardly ever do anything in foreign 
policy that we don't have Canada's support in, and we'll need that.
    So we've got a lot of work to do on this. We've been working very 
hard and we'll try to bring it to a quick closure.
    Q. There seems to be disagreement, though, in that the Prime 
Minister seems to think that that can be built upon--
    Q. ----come up with some agreement.
    The President. I hope we can revive them. Our biggest problem in 
this country is the expiration of fast track authority. But we have 
begun a lot of talks in earnest within the administration about that. 
I've done my best to send a signal to our trading partners and to the 
parties to GATT that we very much want a successful agreement. And I'll 
have more to say about that in the days ahead.
    Thank you.


[At this point, a question was asked and answered in French, and a 
translation was not provided.]

    The President. Let me answer that also. I take it by what I believe 
was your French, of what then was a good translation I got, that you 
mean by complexity of the situation in Haiti the fact that Father 
Aristide was plainly elected by an overwhelming majority and is plainly 
still--has the support of an overwhelming majority of the people; but 
while, in the brief period when he was in authority, made some 
statements which caused people in the military and others to have fear 
for their security, their personal security, in ways that are 
inconsistent with running a democracy, which has to recognize human 
rights--does that present the complexity? Yes, that is the nub of the 
    We have to be able to restore democracy in a way that convinces 
everybody that their human rights will be respected and, for an interim 
period, protected. And obviously, that's what the Caputo mission is 
designed to do.
    But the complexity of the issue cannot deter us from the fundamental 
mission, which is to restore a democratically elected government that 
will not abuse the human rights of ordinary Haitians. And I agree with 
the Prime Minister, we certainly ought to be able to do that here in our 
backyard, and we're going to work hard on it.
    Thank you very much.
    Prime Minister Mulroney. Thank you very much.

Note: The President's second news conference began at 1:44 p.m. on the 
South Lawn of the White House. In his remarks, he referred to Lord David 
Owen and Cyrus Vance, Cochairmen of the International Conference on the 
former Yugoslavia, and Dante Caputo, U.N./OAS Special Envoy to Haiti.