[Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: William J. Clinton (1994, Book II)]
[September 28, 1994]
[Pages 1642-1649]
[From the U.S. Government Publishing Office www.gpo.gov]

The President's News Conference With President Boris Yeltsin of Russia
September 28, 1994

    President Clinton. We will begin the press conference now with 
opening statements, after which we will have, obviously, questions from 
the press. And we will do our best to alternate between the Russian and 
American press corps.

[[Page 1643]]

    Hillary and I and our entire delegation have very much enjoyed 
having President and Mrs. Yeltsin with us, along with all the Russians 
who came with them. When President Yeltsin arrived yesterday, I spoke of 
the new partnership between our two nations. After our talks, one thing 
is clear: Relations between our nations are moving forward at full 
    Both our countries, as President Yeltsin said yesterday, are 
sometimes not so easy to deal with, but we're succeeding in tackling 
some hard challenges. Over the past 2 days we've made good progress on 
security, economic, and diplomatic issues.
    I'm pleased to announce today that President Yeltsin and I have 
agreed that as soon as the START I treaty takes effect and the START II 
treaty is ratified by both of our countries, we will immediately begin 
removing the nuclear warheads that are due to be scrapped under START 
II, instead of taking the 9 years allowed. There will be no adverse 
impact on the United States or the Soviet Union. Indeed, by shaving 
several years off the timetable, we will make the world safer for all of 
    We also plan to work together to encourage Ukraine to join the 
Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty this year. As the world's two largest 
nuclear powers, we recognize our special responsibilities to ensure the 
security of nuclear weapons and materials, even as we keep dismantling 
them. This is one of the most urgent security challenges all the nations 
of the globe face as we enter the next century.
    President Yeltsin and I spent a lot of time on this issue. We 
understand we won't solve the problem overnight, but the steps we've 
taken in areas such as inspecting each other's storage facilities and 
information sharing are an important start. We are personally committed 
to seeing this issue through.
    Today President Yeltsin and I have signed an agreement that will 
gradually normalize our economic relations by removing major barriers to 
trade and investment. American support for Russian economic reform has 
been constant, and over the last 2 days American and Russian businesses 
have signed deals worth nearly $1 billion, ranging from agriculture to 
telecommunications. We met several American and Russian business leaders 
this morning, and we're determined to advance America's investment in 
and trade with Russia. We will transfer $100 million in aid funds to 
directly support trade and investment through OPIC and the Commerce 
Department. And we will also devote $30 million to help in the fight 
against crime in Russia through cooperation between the FBI and the 
Justice Department and appropriate Russian authorities.
    On the diplomatic front, we've made progress on the difficult issue 
of Russian arms sales to Iran. We agreed to continue to work on this 
problem in the near future. We also agreed to work more closely together 
to help resolve the tragic conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh. On Bosnia, we 
repeated our commitment to work within the Contact Group to compel the 
parties to accept the settlement that has been worked out. Once again, I 
congratulated President Yeltsin on his historic decision to withdraw 
Russian troops from the Baltic nations.
    No area better captures the potential for our emerging partnership 
than Russian-American cooperation in space. President Yeltsin and I 
first discussed this idea in Vancouver last year and decided we needed 
to go forward. Today I have signed into law a bill that will help to 
fund the international space station. This bill is the result in no 
small measure of the extraordinary cooperation between Vice President 
Gore and Prime Minister Chernomyrdin, as well as the strong bipartisan 
support we received in the United States Congress. Like so much that 
we've accomplished in the past 2 days, this space station symbolizes the 
potential for progress when we work together.
    This is the fifth time President Yeltsin and I have met since I came 
into office. I think I've spent more time with him than with any other 
world leader. We've made real progress over the last few days, in no 
small measure because we've worked together, we've learned to be open 
and candid with each other about our differences, we've built an 
atmosphere of mutual trust. And I'm confident that our partnership is 
working and will continue to work, not only between our two governments 
but increasingly between the people of Russia and the United States.
    Mr. President.
    President Yeltsin. Thank you.
    Ladies and gentlemen, first of all, I would like to express the 
feeling of great thanks and appreciation to President Bill Clinton, to 
his wife, Hillary, and also to the American people and you, the 
journalists, for a very warm welcome and for very fine conditions which 

[[Page 1644]]

created to make our very tough and difficult visit, to make it very 
    We always start these meetings by saying that we've really done a 
tremendous amount of work. We always say this at these press 
conferences. But we can't say that this meeting, as well, doesn't 
deserve this kind of characterization. In fact, we have accomplished a 
lot of work. And if we planned at one time that we were going to have 
one 30-minute one-on-one session, it turns out it lasted for 3 hours. So 
you can judge for yourselves how many issues we touched upon and 
discussed and what a wide scope we really worked on.
    Although I have a trip to Seattle coming up where I want to 
familiarize myself with the West--I had never been out West, out on the 
West Coast of the United States. I want to familiarize myself and get to 
know the Boeing Company, the city of Seattle, and just to see what kind 
of Americans live out there on the West Coast and how they work and how 
they are.
    We, of course, with Bill now, it's--we are interlocutors who know 
each other and partners in our discussions and negotiations. We know 
each other very well, and more than that, we this time don't have to 
come and start warming up. We've had phone conversations; we talked 
ahead of time. So we started from the word go, right from the very 
beginning. We say that our partnership has to be pragmatic and not 
declaratory. And right away from the very beginning, we agreed to that.
    I'm sure that neither Russia nor the United States needs all kinds 
of sharp deviations from having good, normal communications and ties. We 
don't need a situation where the whole world is in trepidation. We don't 
need to waste a lot of words and chew a lot of fat, but we have to get 
down to basics and start working in a very pragmatic style.
    Of course, I say these words--now I think Bill has confirmed that 
the United States is a very complex partner, and Russia also is, too. 
But look, what family doesn't have some kind of squabbles occasionally 
which, eventually, they kind of work out. It's not always that simple, 
right? I mean, here are two great humongous, almost half billion member 
family who, too, has sometimes its own little approaches, if you will. 
But the most important thing is the ability to listen, to have patience, 
to have humanity, respect to each other. And then, absolutely, we will 
be able to find solutions.
    I just want to tell you, to be short about it, these little 
introductory words--I just want to give you literally that very list 
that those issues that we discussed. Here we go, and then later on, 
you'll be able to ask questions. It will be a lot easier to ask 
questions. [Laughter]
    The most important talks and subjects of these talks are the 
strategic partnerships between Russia and the United States; 
international issues; external political coordination of our efforts so 
that we two great powers, two countries, constantly coordinated 
everything that we do so that nothing happens in the world that might 
ruin peace on our planet--we have to support peace; the Big-8; 
peacekeeping; CIS; the role of Russia in the CIS; NATO and Russia; 
coordination in the United Nations Security Council; reforming United 
Nations; cooperating in the United Nations and the CIS; the situation 
all around the world, Bosnia, Middle East, Caribbean Basin, North Korea, 
Rwanda, Islamic extremism, Iran, Libya, Iraq, Trans-Dniester, Nagorno-
Karabakh, Abkhazia, Tajikistan, the Baltics; military issues; START 
III--START I, START II, now III, START III now--we're talking about 
three--[laughter]--nonproliferation; harmonizing our--you're not 
catching up? You can't think fast enough? [Laughter] You can't think 
fast enough? Well, okay, then I'll go a little slower. All right? 
[Laughter] Apparently we're not on the same wavelength here, you and I, 
in terms of the pace here, okay.
    Non-pro-lif-er-a-tion of weapons--[laughter]--harmonizing military 
doctrines, harmonizing, since today doctrine in the United States, the 
military doctrine, is one; Russia has a different one. How are we going 
to be able to have a partnership, friendly partnership, and work 
together if we have such disparate military doctrines?
    New initiatives of the great five powers on strategic stability; ABM 
systems, strategic and tactical ABM systems; biological weapons; 
chemical weapons; destruction and elimination of nuclear weapons, the 
safe elimination of nuclear weapons; exchange of information on nuclear 
arms and fissile materials for the first time; banning nuclear testing; 
participation of Russia in the regime of rocket technology--and we 
attach ourselves to this, we are joining where the United States is the 
initiator; banning the export of mines, antipersonnel mines--I fully 

[[Page 1645]]

the proposal of the United States of America in the U.N., when he spoke 
about getting rid of these antipersonnel mines; incidents with 
    Economic issues; investments; getting rid of discriminatory 
limitations on Russia and opening up the American market to Russian 
goods; the status for Russia of an economy in transition; post-COCOM 
economic and trade projects; free trade status; GATT; finally, we got 
together and agreed on the so-called Jackson-Vanik amendment. I've 
already said that every single kid in Russia knows who these people are, 
Jackson and this guy Vanik. [Laughter] The President, by my decree--I 
mean, by his decree--well, maybe it's temporary, but he has stopped it, 
all right, the actions of this amendment. And I am grateful that this 
was a huge window, a bright window that appeared here between us. I'm 
very grateful.
    Questions of crime; cooperating in the field of education, culture, 
ecology, environment, national minorities, the north; cooperation on 
tariffs, duties.
    And the President has already said that, of course, for all mankind, 
this is very important, so that in place of the year 2003, after the 
ratification of START II by Russia and the United States we 
simultaneously remove all those weapons from alert status that were 
mentioned in the treaty, immediately. In other words, we save at least 
7, maybe more, years by doing it right away. And we give mankind hope 
that our generation will be, for sure, living in peace.
    At the center of our negotiation was the strategy of partnership 
between Russia and the United States. And I've already said that we've 
agreed on the fact that it should be more pragmatic.
    Discussions of partnership for economic progress as well--we agreed 
here, also. In the United States now we have a large group of Russian 
businessmen. In New York I met with the captains of industry, big 
industry in the United States and with Russia. And today, as a matter of 
fact, with President Bill Clinton, we met also with representatives of 
big business here. And we came to terms and decided, well, what, after 
all, is standing in the way of investments and attracting investments 
and capital to Russia, on the part of private capital. And I have to say 
that we, in general, came to terms with this.
    Looking into the future, we, at the same time, tried not to sort of 
float above this sinful Earth. Specifically, we agreed on fighting 
crime. And there are other specific things, protecting the environment 
in the north of Russia, protecting the environment; communications 
systems, developing communication.
    After all, I mean, I just have to say that even though many people 
predicted that this is going to be not just tough negotiations but 
they're going to fall through in the ultimate analysis, I have to really 
be very sorry and express my condolences to these people. We agreed to 
almost practically on every single one of these issues. Sometimes the 
United States stepped forward and compromised a little; sometimes Russia 
compromised. But the most important thing is for peace, for humanity, 
for mankind, for our whole planet, we have agreed.
    Thank you. Now, please, questions. He is the host, so he calls the 
shots. [Laughter]
    President Clinton. Helen [Helen Thomas, United Press International]. 
Let me say, one of the things I would do--I've always wanted to be on 
the other side of this microphone, and if I were on the other side of 
the microphone today, my question would be, ``And what were your 
agreements on issues 15, 27, and 43?'' [Laughter]
    Go ahead, Helen.
    Q. Well, I have a question for each of the Presidents, and I've 
narrowed it a bit. You covered the waterfront, and I'm sure you have all 
the answers. I would like to ask President Clinton, are you going to 
call a special session on GATT?
    President Yeltsin, I think the American people are very happy to 
find out that Russia will never attack the United States, as you said 
today, that you would never fight. But we are a little bit concerned----
    President Clinton. Excuse me, Helen. Apparently the Russian 
interpreter is not coming through the microphone. No, no, no--he can 
hear you. It's the Russian--we need the Russian. We need someone to say 
this in Russian.
    Q. Oh, okay, I'm sure the United States is very happy to hear you 
say that Russia will never attack the U.S. You said that today, and 
that's very good. But there is some concern that Russia may still have 
some feeling that it has a sphere of influence over former Soviet 
republics, and that when you intervene, you don't feel

[[Page 1646]]

it necessary to go through international institutions. Is that true?

General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade

    President Clinton. So we have two separate questions. I'll answer 
mine first.
    I think it is the responsibility of the United States and the United 
States Congress to pass the GATT this year. And I hope that the Congress 
will do it before they leave. Our information is that there are more 
than enough votes to pass it in the House and that we have a majority in 
the Senate if we can get the bill to the floor. That's so often the 
question in the Senate. So we'll keep trying to pass it. If for some 
reason the Senate does not pass it, then I will urge that they stay in 
session and simply go on recess for the election break and then come 
back after the recess and pass GATT.
    This is the biggest trade agreement in history. It's the biggest 
worldwide tax cut in history by reductions of tariffs, $36 billion in 
this country alone. It will give us 300,000 to 500,000 new high-wage 
jobs in the next few years alone. I think it is important to pass it.
    Our country has established, even in what has been a reasonably or 
very partisan atmosphere in the last couple of years, a real commitment 
during our administration to work in a bipartisan way toward expanded 
trade. So I urge the Congress to pass the GATT before they go home. If 
it passes the House and doesn't pass the Senate I will urge that the 
Senate stay in session, take a recess for the election, come back 
afterward, and pass this. It's very important.
    We have the APEC meeting coming up; we have the Summit of the 
Americas coming up. We're trying to break down our barriers with Russia 
and many other countries. The United States has to lead on this, and I 
intend to do everything I can to see that we do lead.
    President Yeltsin.

Russian Foreign Policy

    President Yeltsin. Well, of course, we're not planning to avoid and 
go walk around the decisions of the United Nations. Moreover, as you 
know, I'm appearing at the General Assembly session and I came out and 
talked for strengthening it, for widening this organization, so this 
organization would be strengthened in the future. Maybe they need it now 
more than ever, more than 20 years ago.
    So, now, as far as the CIS countries, how do you feel, I mean, are 
you close to the neighbor that you live next to, or not? Of course--are 
you? [Laughter]
    Well, these are our neighbors. Yesterday, we all were in the same--
we lived in the same house in the Soviet Union. There is no Soviet 
Union, but these republics stay. They're our blood, right? Come on, 
let's be honest. We've helped them financially just as you help other 
countries, you financially help other countries, Latin America, Africa, 
et cetera, et cetera. It's only natural that we would have contacts and 
ties. They should be good. As a matter of fact, now we're planning some 
kind of centripetal forces pulling them inward, those tendencies. 
Everybody wants to be close to Russia, and we will be friendly with 
them, and we will support them, but in no way--not to contravene any 
international norms of behavior which are established or which shall be 
established. No.
    President Clinton. Call on a Russian, Mr. President.

COCOM and Russia-U.S. Trade

    Q. Now, COCOM and antidumping campaign, are there any specific 
decisions, any specific time lines and schedules and solutions?
    President Yeltsin. Well, probably, it's the first time now that we 
have--for a long time we marched along this path. It took us a long time 
to get here. There were many problems along the way, but we've come to 
terms. The conditions--I think Bill will probably agree with me--I can 
tell you very frankly that for us the one condition that was set was 
that--we supply weapons to Iran, and so we were not allowed to this so-
called kitchen in the creation of the post-COCOM regime where they were 
cooking up whatever this regime was going to look like.
    Now, how have we come to an agreement? Now, there was a contract 
signed by the former Soviet Union with Iran. We are solid citizens, 
great power; we cannot but satisfy the terms of that contract. So the 
old contract, which had been signed years ago, back in '88, will be 
honored. But no other new contracts, no other new supplies, no other new 
shipments of weapons and weapons goods will be shipped. Those are the 
grounds upon which Bill Clinton agreed that we are going to participate 
in the post-COCOM era.
    President Clinton. You asked another question. Let me say that is 
generally accurate where

[[Page 1647]]

there are some--we reached a conceptual agreement in principle about how 
we would proceed, and then we agreed to let our experts on this matter 
work through it. And so we are working through it now, and we hope to 
resolve it soon. But we cannot say that it is resolved because in this 
matter, as you might understand, for both of us the details are quite 
important. So that while we reached a conceptual agreement, we have to 
work through the details.
    Now, with regard to the antidumping, I think what you're referring 
to is my attempts to get the Congress to pass legislation which would 
declare Russia an economy in transition, which would facilitate more 
two-way trade. I have proposed such legislation to the Congress; it has 
not yet passed. We are working on a package of initiatives which would 
include the reduction of trade barriers in Russia and some more 
initiatives on our part so that we could get that kind of economy-in-
transition status, which I think responds to the question that you 

General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade

    Q. Mr. President, as you know, it's within your authority to call 
Congress back into session should it leave without passing GATT. Are you 
prepared to take that step if necessary, sir?
    President Clinton. Well, I thought I made that clear. Yes, my 
preference would be, and what I believe we can do, based on our 
soundings today, is, if Congress leaves without passing GATT, I will ask 
that the Senate not adjourn but simply to go in recess and then return 
afterward. I will do whatever I can within the law to do everything I 
can to pass the GATT this year. I think it is important that it pass. 
It's important that it pass this year. It's important for the United 
States and our leadership, our efforts to get others to drop their trade 
barriers, to open their markets, to move forward. We have to set an 
example here.
    I might say that a lot of the people who were opposed to NAFTA--let 
me just point out, our trade with Mexico has increased by about 19 
percent in the last year. Our sales of autos and trucks have increased 
by 600 percent. And that's one of the reasons that a lot of those folks 
are working overtime for the first time in a decade. So this is plainly 
in our interest. It will create hundreds of thousands of jobs. And I'm 
going to do whatever I can, Brit [Brit Hume, ABC News], within the law 
to get this done this year.

Security and Stability Initiative

    Q. Appearing at the United Nations, you proposed to immediately work 
out a treaty on stability and security. Apparently, you discussed this, 
too, with the President. How much do you feel that the approaches of 
Russia and the United States are similar in terms of coming up with a 
treaty? How would they coincide?
    President Yeltsin. Well, in principle, the President of the United 
States agreed with the formulation that I made. Although he did say that 
the President of Russia has put forth too many initiatives there at the 
Assembly, and we're going to have to have some time to study all of 
these new initiatives that I've put forward.


    Q. President Yeltsin, sir, you said again today that you oppose 
lifting the arms embargo on Bosnia. Would Russia veto a resolution to 
lift that arms embargo if the Serbs don't agree to a settlement within a 
certain amount of months?
    And to President Clinton, what's your understanding of--is there any 
agreement between the two of you on this contentious issue?
    President Yeltsin. Well, first of all, it's made easier for us by 
the decision, in solving this issue, the fact that the Bosnians 
themselves have asked a delay for, say, 4 to 6 months altogether, even 
to take it off of the agenda for discussion. But in 6 months we'll take 
a look and see.
    President Clinton. What we did agree to do was to take some new 
initiatives to try to get the thing worked out as quickly as possible. 
And we still have a potential difference over that issue; there's no 
question about it. But we have--let me say, the remarkable thing here is 
how closely we have worked together on Bosnia for many months now. And I 
think a lot of the good things that have happened in that whole sad case 
have come about because we have worked together with Russia and with our 
NATO allies as well as with the United Nations.

Russia-U.S. Investment and Trade

    Q. What are you planning to do in improving the investment climate 
for American companies after your discussions here that you had all day? 
And an additional question to President Bill Clinton regarding the 
antidumping legislation. Does it mean giving Russians the transition 
economy status, the Section 4.06 on trade?

[[Page 1648]]

    President Yeltsin. I answer by saying that in meeting with 
businessmen, every one of them when he speaks said one and the same 
thing, taxes, taxes. We, ourselves, understand that in '91 a reborn 
Russia rather quickly prepared legislation on taxation, and it was full 
of mistakes, both for our own businessmen and for outside businessmen. 
And so now, what we're preparing--and among this is also, very kindly 
Bill proposed the use of our American 200-year history and experience in 
tax legislation, that we send a group of tax specialists here to take a 
look at how all these things are formed in the United States. But we're 
preparing a tax code which will, I feel, be adopted in the first 6 
months, the first half of 1995. And it, of course, is substantially 
going to be different from the situation today and, of course, will make 
life a lot more easy for the foreign investors as well.
    President Clinton. Let me respond very briefly to the question you 
asked. If Russia were granted under Federal law an economy-in-transition 
status, then the rules for judging whether products are being dumped or 
not would be somewhat different. The United States has made a great 
effort to trade more with Russia. Since I've been President, we've 
tripled our trade in 1993 over 1992; we doubled our purchases in 1994 
over 1993. So we are working ahead. But we also have to have some tariff 
relief on things that we can sell in Russia in certain critical areas, 
including aerospace, automobiles, confectionery, a lot of other things 
we've talked about. So we're going to try to work through that and get a 
    Go ahead, Andrea [Andrea Mitchell, NBC News].

Russian Foreign Policy

    Q. I'd like to ask both President Yeltsin and President Clinton: The 
United States has been concerned about what Russia will do in the former 
CIS countries, particularly Nagorno-Karabakh. You've spoken to that, but 
can I ask you, how is that any different from the sphere of influence 
that the United States claims to have over Haiti? And I'd like your 
comment as well.
    President Clinton. Fair question.
    President Yeltsin. Well, you know, in general, the President of the 
United States and we personally never really got into the details of 
this issue and only now we dedicated a lot of time at this session. As a 
matter of fact, we haven't even finished in one day; we carried it over 
until today. Today we discussed it again, on Nagorno-Karabakh. And 
finally, in principle, the principle approach, we sort of brought them 
together. But in order to implement these, we're going to need some time 
to prepare documents, to look at the U.N. documentation. In short, the 
most important thing is that we have come to an understanding on this.
    Q. President Yeltsin, I'm interested in whether you feel that the 
U.S. objections to Russian intervention with your neighbors is any 
different than what the United States has done in intervening in Haiti, 
which we claim is part of our sphere of influence. Do you think there is 
some hypocrisy here on the part of the United States?
    President Yeltsin. No, I cannot say that, because Russia voted for 
the Resolution 940 in the United Nations and thereby we supported the 
actions of the United States of America.
    Now, as Nagorno-Karabakh, this is our neighbor. They asked us that 
we help them, that we participate in the resolution of this conflict, 
just like we resolved it in Moldova, just like we set up peacekeeping 
forces between Abkhazia and Georgia, and there bloodshed stopped. Now we 
have to get the refugees back, et cetera. We're helping our neighbors.
    President Clinton. Let me answer that question. First of all, the 
United States does not object to Russia taking an active role in the 
resolution of the problem in Nagorno-Karabakh. What we have discussed 
with the Russians, and what Boris and I finally had a chance to discuss 
personally together at some considerable length, is how that could be 
made more like Haiti, that is, how whatever Russia does should be done 
in a manner that is consistent with and within the framework of a United 
Nations resolution.
    I think that Russia plainly does have an interest, a significant 
interest, in what happens on its borders and what happens in countries 
on its borders. In all of our discussions, President Yeltsin has 
acknowledged that he respected the sovereignty, the independence, and 
the territorial integrity of all those countries, but that what happened 
there affected what happened within his country and that there were 
things that he might be able to do there in pursuit of stability, 
without being inconsistent with sovereignty and territorial integrity 
and independence, that were appropriate.

[[Page 1649]]

    What we did in Haiti, as you know, was not to act on our own, 
although the United States has in the 20th century acted on its own many 
times in this hemisphere. We went to the United Nations. We amassed an 
international coalition that has 28 nations for the first phase of this 
operation and then even more for the second phase. And I think that's 
the way we ought to proceed.
    It may be necessary for other nations with military or other 
capacity to handle other problems or to at least take the lead on other 
problems in their areas. But when it is done, it should be done within 
the framework of the United Nations wherever possible and with respect 
for territorial integrity. And I think we are moving forward in that 
    Press Secretary Myers. Last question.

ABM Treaty

    Q. Based on the reports of the U.S. press sources, the United States 
aimed at making additions to the ABM Treaty which substantially changes 
its content. Was this discussed at the negotiations and talks? And what 
is your impression?
    President Yeltsin. Well, apparently you didn't catch--I was reading 
so fast this list of mine, you didn't--I mentioned there the ABM. In 
other words, we did discuss the ABM issue, but there, taking into the 
account the professional difficulties, we handed that over to a joint 
commission which is now working so that it can make its recommendations. 
    President Clinton. Thank you.

Note: The President's 71st news conference began at 3:45 p.m. in the 
East Room at the White House. President Yeltsin spoke in Russian, and 
his remarks were translated by an interpreter. In his remarks, President 
Clinton referred to Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin of Russia. H.R. 
4624, the Departments of Veterans Affairs and Housing and Urban 
Development, and Independent Agencies Appropriations Act, 1995, approved 
September 28, was assigned Public Law No. 103-327.