[Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: William J. Clinton (1997, Book I)]
[March 10, 1997]
[Pages 269-276]
[From the U.S. Government Publishing Office www.gpo.gov]

The President's News Conference With President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt
March 10, 1997

    President Clinton. Good afternoon. I was glad to have the chance to 
welcome President Mubarak back to the White House. He has been a valued 
friend of the United States for 16 years now, one of the very first 
leaders to visit me in 1993 and also one of the first now to come to 
Washington during my second term.
    Through this meeting and through consultations with other leaders 
from the region, including Prime Minister Netanyahu, Chairman Arafat, 
and King Hussein, who will be here next week, we are working to help the 
parties find common ground through progress toward lasting peace. We 
know that these efforts cannot succeed without the leadership of Egypt.
    Since the Camp David accords in 1979, Egypt has been a powerful 
force for peace in the Middle East. That has continued to be true 
through the last 3\1/2\ years, a time of extraordinary progress toward 
peace and repeated challenges. Now, as Israel and the Palestinians 
embark on the difficult task of permanent status negotiations, as we 
look to revive negotiations between Israel and Syria and then bring 
Lebanon into the process to complete the circle of peace, we know that 
Egypt's leadership will be vital to finish the job.
    In January Israelis and Palestinians once again demonstrated that 
even though the challenges are great, the will to create peace is there. 
An agreement on difficult issues can be achieved through genuine 
negotiations. But we've also been reminded recently of how difficult it 
is to maintain the momentum toward peace. Clearly, we're at a moment 
when all those with a stake in the peace process must rededicate 
themselves to building confidence and making progress.
    Today the United States and Egypt have deepened our own 
understanding in our partnership, our determination to coordinate our 
efforts even more closely and to encourage the parties to tackle the 
tough questions ahead. We also discussed how we can increase our 
cooperation on issues of regional security and expand the ties of 
commerce between our people. Stability and security in the region 
demands that the people of Egypt and all the peoples of the Middle East 
are rewarded in their efforts by greater prosperity.
    I congratulated President Mubarak on the strong economic advances 
Egypt has made in the last 2 years, the work that he and Vice President 
Gore have done. And the U.S.-Egypt partnership for economic growth and 
development has made a real difference by promoting privatization and 
tariff reduction.
    The President's Council, a group of business leaders from the United 
States and Egypt, has achieved dramatic success, increasing trade and 
investment between our nations and deepening support for necessary 
economic reforms. Now Egypt is creating new growth and opportunity, 
building a better future for its people and for others throughout the 
Middle East.
    Mr. President, you and I have been together here at the White House, 
in Cairo, at the Summit of the Peacemakers at Sharm al-Sheikh, and 
elsewhere, working for a just and lasting peace and a new day in the 
region. Now we're in a new phase, and we have to protect the hard work 
and achievements of the last 3\1/2\ years, and we know we'll have to 
work hard to fulfill the hopes for the Middle East and for peace. I know 
we can look to you as a friend and partner, and I look forward to being 
your friend and partner on this historic mission.
    President Mubarak. Ladies and gentlemen, I was very pleased to meet 
once again with President Clinton and exchange with him views and ideas 
of matters of common concern. Let me first seize the opportunity to 
congratulate the President on the reaffirmation of the American people's 
confidence in his wise and inspiring leadership. It is most reassuring 
for many to know that they have a knowledgeable and farsighted friend in 
the White House.
    In our discussion today, we had the opportunity to review several 
issues of special interest to us. First, we reviewed recent developments 
of the Middle East peace process. While we are pleased by the progress 
which has been attained on the Israel-Palestinian track, we were alarmed 
by the differences and the complications that have appeared lately. Such 
developments make the peace process a fragile and

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vulnerable one. I'm referring here specifically to the Israeli 
settlement activities, particularly in Jerusalem.
    We all know that the issue of Jerusalem is as sensitive to Muslims 
and to Christians as it is to Jews. Hence, the rights and sentiments of 
all these people should be fully respected.
    It was for this reason that I urged Prime Minister Netanyahu to 
reconsider the decision taken by the Israeli Cabinet to authorize the 
construction of thousands of housing units for Israelis in East 
Jerusalem. I urged him also not to close the Palestinian office there. 
Our purpose here is to eliminate all potential sources of tension and 
violence. It is equally important to avoid any violation of the interim 
agreement and related documents. We view such actions as flagrant 
violations that would not serve any useful purpose.
    At any rate, I agreed with the Prime Minister to stay in touch and 
deal with these and other issues with an open mind, in light of their 
sensitivity. We are looking forward to the carrying out of further 
redeployments in good faith. On the other hand, we hope that the two 
parties engage in the final status negotiations without delay. Time is 
of essence. Every day that goes by without attaining meaningful progress 
hurts the chance of peace.
    Our commitment to a comprehensive peace requires us to exert maximum 
effort in order to get the negotiations resumed on the Syrian and the 
Lebanese track. I have discussed the matter at length with President 
Asad and found him positively inclined. He reiterated serious commitment 
to a just and comprehensive peace settlement on the basis of the Madrid 
formula. He believes, not without justification, that the talks should 
be resumed from the point where the parties had left off a year ago.
    There is no reason why we should waste the progress which was 
achieved through the strenuous negotiations in Washington and Wye 
plantation. I discussed the issue with Prime Minister Netanyahu, and it 
is my earnest hope that we can work out an acceptable formula for the 
resumption of talks with the help of the United States. I need not 
emphasize the importance of the Syrian and Lebanese track. We should 
never miss another opportunity for making progress and peace.
    President Clinton has assured me of the fact that the U.S. position 
on these various issues remains unchanged. That's very reassuring, 
indeed. It reinforces confidence in the U.S. as a reliable sponsor and a 
promoter of peace in the Middle East. We are determined to pursue our 
joint efforts in the months ahead with zeal and hope. Together, we shall 
achieve our goal.
    Mr. President, we are both pleased with the progress that has been 
achieved in our bilateral relations. In recent years, U.S.-Egyptian 
relations have entered a new era, expanded into new spheres of 
cooperation, and reached greater depth and warmth.
    Today I can say with confidence that we have an economy that is 
moving toward the future on solid ground. We have established the 
infrastructure to growth, and we have instituted the necessary reforms 
and the policies that have placed Egypt in the forefront of the emerging 
economies, attracting substantial capital flows. We now look forward to 
years of sustainable high growth, greater investment, and a steady 
increase in the standard of living of all Egyptians. As we did in the 
previous stages, we regard the U.S. as one of our most trusted partners 
in peace and socioeconomic progress.
    In conclusion, I would like to thank President Clinton and the 
American people for their continued support and help. You are 
undertaking an historic mission at this crucial crossroads. And thank 
you very much.

U.N. Resolution on Jerusalem Settlements

    Q. Mr. President, in casting a veto on a new Israeli settlement in 
the U.N., the U.S. went against the conscience and the consensus of the 
world. The general assumption is that Israel is trying to force, with 
military backing, a preemptive solution to the status of Jerusalem 
rather than going through negotiations as promised. Is that your read on 
    President Clinton. Well, let me answer the two questions at once 
there. We made it very clear that the decision to build in the Har Homa 
neighborhood, in our view, would not build confidence, would not be 
conducive to negotiations, would be seen by the Palestinians and others 
as an attempt to, in effect, precondition some of the final status 
issues. And that's why we said that we thought it was a complication we 
would prefer strongly that it not have been made.
    On the other hand, we felt that the resolution of the Security 
Council was also ill-advised for the general reason that we generally 
prefer that the Security Council resolutions not be injected

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into the peace negotiations, first, and second, because there was 
specific language in this resolution that we have previously vetoed 
because we also feel it attempts to shape the final status negotiations.
    I think that we have seen--we have learned one thing, I have, in the 
last 4 years plus, and that is when the parties get together and 
negotiate in good faith and take risks for peace, good things happen. 
When they attempt to preclude the process of negotiations or preempt it 
or are insensitive to the needs and the feelings of people in the 
negotiating process, more destructive things happen and it becomes more 
difficult to make peace.
    So I feel that we did the right thing from the point of view of the 
United States and the United Nations. But that should not be interpreted 
as an approval of the decision that was made by the Israeli Government.
    Q. You don't think the U.N. has a role in peacemaking?
    President Clinton. Oh, yes, I do think the U.N. has a role. But I 
think--again, I say, go back and read the language of the resolution. 
Look at the position we've taken in previous votes with the same kind of 
language. And remember that we believe it's our job to try to protect 
the final status issues for the final status negotiations.
    You know, I had this same issue on completely the other side last 
year and the year before when there was a big move in Congress to move 
the Embassy to Jerusalem. And I opposed it because I thought it was a 
way by indirection of our taking a position on the final status, which I 
don't think we should do, I don't think any of us should do. We have got 
to force these parties to--and to help to work to create an environment 
in which they make the decisions together in an atmosphere of genuine 
negotiations. And that's the position that I hold.
    Would you like to call on an Egyptian journalist?
    President Mubarak. Yes.
    Q. A question to both heads of state. Under the fourth Geneva 
Convention of August 12, 1949, concerning the protection of civilians 
under occupation, the Palestinians of East Jerusalem should be protected 
from confiscation of land. In Cairo, when Prime Minister Netanyahu came, 
he boiled down the problem of the East Jerusalem settlement to a mere 
housing problem and made the dangerous claim that settlements are built 
on Jewish land, ignoring the fact that he is building on occupied 
territory. Can you then blame the Palestinians if they should sort of 
revolt, each in his own way?
    President Clinton. Who's going first, Mr. President? [Laughter]
    President Mubarak. Please, Mr. Clinton.
    President Clinton. First of all, it's obvious that who owns the land 
is disputed and that--but the reason that I took the position that it 
would be--that notwithstanding whatever housing needs do or don't exist, 
it would be better if the houses not be built in the neighborhood, the 
Har Homa neighborhood--that I knew that it would be perceived by the 
Palestinians in just the way you have stated. And what I think is 
important is--on the other hand, if I were to answer the question in the 
way that you have established it, it would also seem that we were 
deciding a final status issue the other way.
    That's why the people who set up the Oslo agreements and the people 
who signed the Israel-PLO accord here in September of 1993, they were 
very smart. They knew how explosive all these issues were, and they knew 
that a lot of confidence had to be built up first. And they knew that, 
for example, the land transfers had to be worked out in the West Bank 
and Gaza and other issues had to be worked out before the issue 
surrounding Jerusalem could be resolved. And that is why I think all 
these things are so terribly difficult and why the best thing is, 
insofar as both parties can do so, to let them be resolved by 
negotiations and final status issues without interference by anyone from 
the outside.
    Now, having said that, yes, I still believe it would be a terrible 
mistake for the Palestinians to resort to violence. Every time they have 
done it, they wind up losing. They wind up getting hurt. They have a 
democratically elected leader. They have made dramatic progress in self-
government. We are urging always on the Israelis more opportunities to 
let them progress more economically. We are urging on Mr. Arafat more 
reforms that will allow them to progress economically and politically. 
So I think that is the direction to go in. That's the direction that I 
    Do you want to answer the question, Mr. President?
    President Mubarak. When Prime Minister Netanyahu was in Cairo last 
week, I opened this issue with him, and I discussed the issue

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of building new settlements in the area of Jerusalem. And I commented on 
his answers in the press conference, telling that this is illegal and 
this may create problems and we shouldn't touch the area of Jerusalem 
until the negotiations for the final status, as is the spirit of the 
Oslo agreement.
    But he told me that ``I'm building for both sides.'' But this is not 
satisfactory to persuade the Palestinians to accept this. We shouldn't 
build anything in the area of Jerusalem, although there is expansion and 
increase of population, until the negotiation of the final status come 
to an end. It will be much more convenient to both sides.

Alleged Chinese Efforts To Influence the 1996 Election

    Q. Mr. President, two officials of the White House National Security 
Council were briefed by the FBI last June about suspicions that China 
was trying to influence the outcome of U.S. congressional elections, but 
supposedly this warning wasn't passed up the chain of command. Shouldn't 
the President be told when a foreign power is trying to influence U.S. 
elections, and isn't this the type of information you would want to 
know? And would this have raised a red flag about foreign contributions?
    President Clinton. There are basically three things you've asked 
there. Let me try to--first of all, yes, the President should know. And 
I can tell you, if I had known about the reports--and again, these are 
reports; these are allegations; we have not reached a--as far as I know, 
no one in the Government has reached a conclusive decision about this. 
So it's very important not to accuse people of something that you don't 
know they have done. But had we known about the reports, the first thing 
I would have done is I would have given them to Leon Panetta and to Tony 
Lake and to Sandy Berger, and I'd say, ``Listen, look at these, evaluate 
them, and make recommendations about what, if any, changes we ought to 
make or what should we be alert to.'' So it would have provoked at least 
to that extent a red flag on my part.
    Now, let's go back to the first question. I absolutely did not know 
it was done. It is my understanding that two members of the National 
Security Council were briefed by the FBI, and then the agent, for 
whatever reasons, asked that they not share the briefing, and they 
honored the request. And we did not know at any time between--for the 
rest of the year. We just didn't know, and certainly during the election 
period we did not know. And why that is, I don't know. But anyway, that 
    So Mr. Berger has discussed this with the White House Counsel, and 
they are reviewing the whole episode to try to see what, if any, action 
is appropriate and what should have been done. But yes, I believe I 
should have known; no, I didn't know. If I had known, I would have asked 
the NSC and the Chief of Staff to look at the evidence and make whatever 
recommendations were appropriate.
    Q. Are you going to ask Director Freeh why you weren't told?
    President Clinton. I'm going to wait for the National Security 
Council and the White House Counsel to get back to me on the whole 
episode and tell me what the facts were and what they think should have 
happened. And then I'll make whatever decision is appropriate then.

U.N. Resolution on Jerusalem Settlements

    Q. The question is for President Bill Clinton. The American 
administration has always been voicing its concern over the settlement 
issue. I want to revisit this issue again, if you will allow me. And you 
first described it as illegal and then as an obstacle to peace and as 
building mistrust and now dubbed it as a mere difficulty to peace. And a 
couple of days ago you vetoed a moderate decision by the United Nations 
over that issue.
    Well, you've explained the position of the U.S. administration, but 
it looks--it's a little bit puzzling for us in the Arab world to 
understand that position, because don't you think that such a position 
places the U.S. credibility as an honest peace broker in question? And 
secondly, doesn't such a position also make the United States interests 
in the Arab world in jeopardy?
    Thank you.
    President Clinton. Well, let me say, first of all, in all candor, 
I'm very concerned about that. I'm concerned about--and I was very aware 
of how the veto might make the United States look in the Arab world, 
because I have worked very hard, as I told Mr. Arafat when he was here, 
to be fair to the Palestinians and fair to all the parties in the Middle 
East peace process and to see that their legitimate interests are 
advanced. And I worked hard to avoid, frankly, having a Security Council 
resolution. We were prepared to support a rather strong statement,

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Presidential statement, as an alternative. But I think it's important--
and I would say to the people in the Arab world who are looking at this 
and wondering what we're up to here, I'd like to say, you have to 
remember a couple of things.
    Number one, if you go back and read that resolution, we have had a 
consistent position. Even though I have abstained in some resolutions--I 
haven't vetoed all the resolutions criticizing Israel, but even though I 
have abstained in some, we've had a consistent position that we can 
never achieve peace through U.N. Security Council resolutions, number 
    Number two, there is language in this particular resolution which is 
identical to language that we have felt constrained to veto in the past 
because we felt that it, too, prejudged the final status.
    And number three, I would say, just the way you asked the question 
makes my point. For the Arab world, the building in Har Homa is a 
settlement and, therefore, a violation. For the Israelis, they are 
building in a neighborhood that is already a part of their territory. So 
they are--they strongly dispute that it is a settlement in the sense 
that they admit other settlements exist.
    Now, that very point makes a point I tried to make, which is why I 
believe the decision should not have been made. This should be part of 
the final status negotiations. Everything surrounding Jerusalem is of 
immense emotional, political, and religious significance to all the 
parties involved here. That's why they wisely put it as a final status 
issue. And the only thing I can say to you is that you may disagree with 
this decision, but if you look at what I've done for the last 4 years 
and what I intend to do, I am trying to get to a point where the parties 
themselves can honestly make a just, fair, and lasting peace. And I will 
not do anything that I think undermines the ability of the United States 
to stand for that.
    Gene [Gene Gibbons, Reuters].

Alleged Chinese Efforts To Influence the 1996 Election

    Q. Mr. President, you don't seem particularly angry with the 
            information about what's--the allegations that a foreign 
            power was trying to subvert the U.S. elections was not 
            brought to your attention. You're the person ultimately in 
            charge of U.S. national security. I'm just wondering why you 
            wouldn't pick up the phone and demand of Director Freeh why 
            you weren't told. You certainly were the one person who 
            probably should have known that information.

    Thank you.
    President Clinton. Well, what I seem and what I feel may be two 
different things. [Laughter] The older I get, the more I become aware of 
the fact that there's some things that there's no point in expending a 
lot of energy on. It didn't happen. It should have happened. It was a 
    But what I want to do now is--first of all, let's go back to the 
beginning here of when this came up--whenever it did, several weeks ago. 
The first thing we have to do is to allow the investigation to proceed, 
to find out--this is a very serious allegation, but as far as I know, it 
is only that. And it would be very serious if it were true. But it would 
also be a foolish error. Anyone who understands the sort of interplay of 
American politics, the scope and scale of the issues, the amount of 
investment involved, I mean, it just wouldn't make much sense. But it's 
a very serious thing.
    The first and foremost thing we have to do is--now let's find out 
what the truth is, if we can, first. Second, let's find out exactly how 
this happened--which is why I asked the Counsel and the NSC to look into 
it--that is, what did these agents say? Were they instructed to say 
that? Did they just think it would be a good idea? Why did they do that? 
What was involved? We don't know the answers to a lot of questions.
    So, Gene, until I know the answers to these questions, I think it's 
better for us to be calm, to be disciplined, to be firm, to be 
straightforward. There's no point in shedding more heat than light on 
this. I'm interested in light being shed on this situation, and then as 
we know the facts, we'll all be able to make our judgments then about 
what should have been done and what we should do from here forward.

Final Status Negotiations

    Q. Both of you have spoken about Jerusalem and how it should be only 
discussed in the final status negotiations. But these negotiations are 
supposed to start in 4 days, in fact. Do you believe that this deadline 
will be met, and if not, how will this affect the peace process?
    President Mubarak. You're asking me? Both of us. You start, Mr. 

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    President Clinton. I went first last time. That's not fair. 
[Laughter] Let me say, the deadline may not be met, but the important 
thing is to find the basis on which the parties can resume negotiations. 
I have been very impressed by how gifted the Palestinian negotiating 
team has been and how gifted the Israeli team has been. For anyone to 
just even look at the maps on Hebron, it's a stunning achievement, 
really, that they could come to grips with all this, the complexity of 
    But whether they're prepared to go on right now or whether we're 
going to have to figure out some way to build the confidence back to 
jump-start it, we'll see. But if they don't start in 4 days, they're 
going to have to start sooner or later, or there won't be peace. So I 
would just bear down and keep working hard to try to get them back 
together, if they don't meet in 4 days.
    President Mubarak. Concerning the Palestinians?
    President Clinton. Yes. The Palestinians and the Israelis, yes.
    President Mubarak. I know the problem between the Palestinians and 
the Israelis is so complicated, anyway at least for this specific period 
of time, especially the rate of redeployment in Area C, which has been 
declared yesterday about 2.1 percent. I think it needs much more effort 
from the United States and Egypt to just persuade the two parts and find 
the solution for this so the negotiation could resume, especially the 
negotiation for the final status, which is very important, which could 
decide the whole thing at the end.

Welfare Reform

    Q. Mr. President, with the welfare reform issue that you've been 
dealing with lately, and that's one of your main focuses, are you 
looking to hire welfare recipients here at the White House in the very 
near future, because you've gotten a lot of flak from civil rights 
groups as well as from the business community?
    President Clinton. Well, let me just say the rules--the White House 
will be covered like everybody else, with the instruction that I sent 
out, which is that everyone will--each unit of Government under the 
various departments will have to send back a plan for what they might be 
able to do to hire welfare recipients. And then we will have our 
approach that will include every department in the Government, including 
the White House. So it depends. Here, it depends upon whether vacancies 
occur and in what area. But if they do, I certainly wouldn't rule it 
out, and I would want to rule it in. That is, I'd like to see us set an 
example, if we have a chance to do so.
    Keep in mind, we have reduced the size of the Federal Government by 
about 285,000 now from the day I took office. But there are still enough 
vacancies every year that we can make a substantial contribution to the 
Nation's goal of having a million people move into jobs from welfare 
over the next 4 years. And yes, I'd like it very much if one of them was 
in the White House.

Jerusalem Settlements

    Q. Mr. President Mubarak, you announced yesterday on CNN that you 
are going to ask Mr. Clinton to use his influence in Israel to stop 
carrying out the building of more settlement in Jerusalem. Did you raise 
this matter with His Excellency, and what is his reaction about that?
    President Mubarak. I think I raised the question of the problem of 
the Middle East as such and as a whole, and we discussed the issue of 
the settlement activities. And it is well-known that the United States 
didn't change its mind, contending that building more settlements, 
changing the situation is illegal, runs against--creating a problem in 
the Middle East. We didn't differ in that issue.
    President Clinton. We have to take a couple of more, because 
President Mubarak and I promised this lady she could have--Trudy [Trudy 
Feldman, Trans Features], do you have a question? And then we'll call on 

Egypt's Economy

    Q.  For President Mubarak. May I? President, since you began 
privatizing your economy, foreign investors have shown increased 
interest in Egypt. So are you now a convert to free market economics--
[inaudible]--private sector?
    President Mubarak. Oh, sure. I'm inviting any of us who could come. 
We have changed the laws. We have market economy. We are open to any 
investors to come and work with us. And mind you, a couple of days ago 
we have about 17 or 18 businessmen from Israel and other places. And 
they ask of me if I could give green light to the business people to 
help there. I told them the green light has already

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been given years ago, and this depends only on the political atmosphere. 
But we never prevent anybody to work here or there, or we will not stop 
and stand against any of us to come to invest in Egypt. And we welcome 
them at any time.
    Q. So you've become a convert?
    President Clinton. I think we have just heard the Egyptian version 
of ``Show me the money.'' [Laughter] There's a movie that was made in 
the United States about a sports agent, Mr. President, and they were 
always saying, ``Show me the money.''
    Now, this lady, we promised her she could ask a question, didn't we?
    President Mubarak. Yes, of course.

U.N. Resolution on Jerusalem Settlements and Syria

    Q. A question for both Presidents, please. The whole Arab world was 
disappointed by the veto. Don't you think, first, that this policy 
pursued by the U.S. could encourage Israel to build more settlements 
inside Jerusalem which would make an obstacle--new obstacles to the 
peace process? And if you have discussed any new Syrian--any new ideas 
to push forward the Syrian track?
    President Clinton. Yes, the answer to your first question is, it 
would--it might be seen as encouraging the present Israeli Government to 
do that if we had stated that we were vetoing the resolution because we 
agreed with Israel's decision. But we've made it clear we do not agree 
with Israel's decision and we--that we have to go back to the 
negotiations. So for that reason, I do not believe so.
    Second question is, yes, we did. We had a very long, good detailed 
discussion about what we might do together to get the Syrian 
negotiations back on track. And we've both agreed now to go out and do a 
few things to try to see if we can't make that happen. Whether we can, 
of course, is up to President Asad and Prime Minister Netanyahu. But we 
believe it's important, and we believe that there is at least a 
potential there that the parties could reach across the ground that 
divides them.
    President Mubarak. I may say concerning the veto that it's 
unfortunate that the resolution was not adopted because it might have 
given a signal to the Israelis to stop any settlement activities, 
especially in the area of Jerusalem, which is illegal. But I hope in the 
future we could avoid this.
    President Clinton. Okay, one more from each. Go ahead.

Narcotics Certification for Mexico

    Q. Thank you very much, Mr. President. It seems like the Congress is 
trying to reverse your decision to certify Mexico. What are you going to 
do about it? And are you trying to ask Mexico some gesture in their part 
to strengthen your hand in Congress?
    President Clinton. Well, first let me say, what we're going to do 
about it is we're going to make a full-court press to bring the 
administration's position and perspective to the Members of Congress 
before they vote at large. In fairness to the committee, which voted 
overwhelmingly against my position last week in the House, we really 
hadn't had much of a chance to have a discussion with them. And I don't 
think that there is a great difference about the facts here. The 
question is, which action by the United States, number one, is required 
by the law, and number two, is most likely to reduce the drug problem in 
the United States and in Mexico?
    Now, the law says that we should certify Mexico if the government is 
fully cooperating and if there is some evidence of progress being made. 
Now, does the fact that the President announced that the drug czar was 
being dismissed for corruption mean that the government has not been 
cooperating or the government has been cooperating? I believe it's 
evidence that the government is cooperating. Secondly, they have 
dismissed 1,200 other public officials in the last year because of 
corruption or suspected corruption.
    And then let's look at the other issue. Have they gotten results? We 
have record numbers of eradications, arrests, and seizures of drugs. We 
have the first extraditions in history of suspected criminals, charged 
criminals, from Mexico to the United States. We have an agreement 
between Mexico and General McCaffrey to work together to design a 
    I think what we need to do is find a way to work with the Congress 
to see what the next steps are going to be. I think if Congress says, 
``If you want us to certify, we've got to know what the next steps are 
going to be,'' I think it's legitimate for the Congress to know that. 
And I think that President Zedillo and I both want to demonstrate--and I 
hope we will on

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my trip to Mexico--that we've got a plan to do this that's good for 
America, good for Mexico, and basically good for our entire region.
    But I strongly feel we should certify them. That's the 
recommendation Secretary Albright has made to me. I think she was right, 
and I'm going to do my best to persuade the Congress that we're right.
    Thank you.

Note: The President's 138th news conference began at 2:36 p.m. in the 
East Room at the White House. In his remarks, he referred to Prime 
Minister Binyamin Netanyahu of Israel; Chairman Yasser Arafat of the 
Palestinian Authority; King Hussein I of Jordan; President Hafiz al-Asad 
of Syria; and President Ernesto Zedillo of Mexico.