[Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: William J. Clinton (1997, Book II)]
[November 14, 1997]
[Pages 1557-1560]
[From the U.S. Government Publishing Office www.gpo.gov]

Remarks Prior to Discussions With President Ernesto Zedillo of Mexico 
and an Exchange With Reporters
November 14, 1997


    Q. Mr. President, are you willing to extend the no-fly zone across 
the remainder of Iraq?
    President Clinton. Let me first of all say that I believe that the 
Secretary-General and our team, the United Nations team, made the right 
decision in withdrawing the team of inspectors there and not just 
leaving them there. But the real issue here is, how can we stop Saddam 
Hussein from reconstituting his weapons of mass destruction program, and 
what will achieve that goal. Any specific tactic will be designed to 
achieve that goal.
    The world has got to understand that he had a weapons of mass 
destruction program, that

[[Page 1558]]

he is one of the few people who has ever used chemical weapons against 
both his enemies and his own citizens, and that there will be a big 
market for such weapons out there among terrorists and other groups.
    This is not just a replay of the Gulf war; this is not throw a man 
who invaded a country, Kuwait, out of the country and reestablish 
territorial integrity. This is about the security of the 21st century 
and the problems everybody is going to have to face dealing with 
chemical weapons.
    So as you know, I don't think it's appropriate for me to speculate 
about what we might or might not do with specific options, but I think 
that we have to steel ourselves and be determined that the will of the 
international community, expressed in the United Nations Security 
Council resolutions, will have to prevail.
    This is simply--it's too dangerous an issue that would set too 
powerful a precedent about the impotence of the United Nations, if we 
didn't proceed on this, in the face of what I have considered to be one 
of the three or four most significant security threats that all of our 
people will face for the next whole generation, this weapons of mass 
destruction proliferation. We've got to stop it.
    Q. Given that, sir, are you willing to let the situation last where 
he's able to manufacture weapons of mass destruction with no one on the 
ground watching? And if I may ask a second question, sir, why are you 
ordering a second aircraft carrier into the Gulf region?
    President Clinton. Well, I'm ordering the carrier in there because I 
think it's appropriate under the circumstances. And let me say on the 
first question that one of the reasons the United States has supported 
the U.N. decision to continue the flights is that if we're not on the 
ground, it's been more important that we observe what we can in the air. 
And we are working this very hard.
    We also--I want to say this is a United Nations endeavor, a United 
Nations resolution we want to implement. We want very much to work with 
our allies. We want to make sure that we've done all we can to see that 
they agree with us about the gravity of the situation, and I expect--the 
Secretary of State is meeting with a lot of the foreign ministers over 
the next several days, and I will be talking to a number of heads of 
state, and we'll keep working this. I don't want to put a timetable on 
myself, because it's not just me, but we're working it hard.
    Q. With the inspectors out, Mr. President, does he have some reason 
to believe that he's gotten his way?
    President Clinton.  Well, if he does, that would be a mistake. And 
of course, what he says his objective is, is to relieve the people of 
Iraq, and presumably the government, of the burden of the sanctions. 
What he has just done is to ensure that the sanctions will be there 
until the end of time or as long as he lasts. So I think that if his 
objective is to try to get back into the business of manufacturing vast 
stores of weapons of mass destruction and then try to either use them or 
sell them, then at some point the United States, and more than the 
United States, would be more than happy to try to stop that.
    But if his objective is to lift the sanctions and to divide the 
coalition and get people more sympathetic with him, I think that he has 
undermined his objective because we could never, ever agree to any 
modifications of the larger economic sanctions on Iraq as long as he's 
out of compliance. And by definition, that's the way the U.N. resolution 
works. When I say ``we'' there, I mean the whole world community. So I 
would think he would not be furthering his objectives, if his stated 
objectives are his objectives.

[At this point, one group of reporters left the room, and another group 

    President Clinton. Buenos dias.
    Q. Hi, Mr. Clinton. How are you?
    President Clinton. I'm fine, thank you.

Mexico-U.S. Cooperative Drug Efforts

    Q. President Clinton, how are you going to convince people in 
Congress that the United States--[inaudible]--it is a fact, the 
consumption on drugs, and also narcotraffickers inside of the United 
States, and convince people that only see Mexico as the bad guys?
    President Clinton. Well, first of all, I don't think that's quite 
fair. I think that Congress has targeted a number of other countries in 
a more focused way where the problem is not primarily the transit of 
drugs, but is the production of drugs, so I wouldn't agree with that.
    I do believe that, as least for our administration, we have been 
very clear that the reduction of demand and dealing with the 

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of drugs in the United States has to be a key part of our strategy, and 
we intend to implement that. I think the real issue, what we should be 
focusing on is how we can work together in our mutual interest, because 
drugs present a threat both to the United States and to Mexico.
    My objective in working with Congress is to try to get a united 
American position without regard to party, where we should have 
partnerships with all of the countries that are also beset by this 
problem in one way or the other, and we should work together on all 
aspects of it. That's what I believe we should do.

Fast-Track Trade Authority

    Q. President Clinton, are you going to be pushing for the fast track 
    President Clinton. I think that this is not the last chapter in this 
story. I believe that you will see some more movement early next year, 
and I wouldn't be too discouraged. Keep in mind, we had--our preliminary 
vote in the United States Senate had almost 70 percent of the Senators 
and majorities of both parties in the U.S. Senate in favor of extending 
fast track. And I believe there is a working majority in the House of 
Representatives for a good proposal. We're going to work it hard over 
the holidays and see what happens.
    But I would urge our friends throughout Latin America not to 
overreact to the House vote, that this story is not over yet.
    Q. Do you see your failure to get fast track as a referendum of 
    President Clinton. I think that--no, first of all, I don't, because 
fast track doesn't have anything to do with NAFTA. That's the first 
thing. We have our agreement, and we're implementing it and we're 
working at it. So in a strict sense, it has nothing to do with NAFTA. 
And there are no two countries anywhere in our hemisphere--indeed, there 
are no two countries anywhere else in our world--that have the same 
relationship with either one of us that we have with each other, with so 
much promise and so many challenges. So NAFTA is not fast track.
    But I personally believe that our relationships and our individual 
economies are stronger because we passed NAFTA than they would have been 
if we hadn't passed NAFTA. And I think there is enough recent history--
you just go back over the last 25 years and look at what's happened in 
times of economic difficulty either in Mexico or the United States, and 
you look at all kinds of other issues--we are cooperating across a wider 
range of issues than ever before; we have a more integrated economic 
partnership than ever before; we are working on more labor and 
environmental issues than ever before. So my view is that we did the 
right thing to pass NAFTA and that both the United States and Mexico are 
in better shape today than they would be if we hadn't done it. That's 
what I believe.
    But I also have made it clear to Congress that I think they're two 
separate issues.

[At this point, two questions were asked and answered in Spanish, and a 
translation was not provided.]

Mexican Economy and Democracy

    President Clinton. I'd just like to make one comment about the 
question--you just asked him about the financial crisis, right? I think 
it is an indication of the strength and the direction that President 
Zedillo and his administration have taken that Mexico has done quite 
well in these last difficult weeks. It also, I think, is clear support 
for the decision that I made a couple of years ago to enter a 
partnership with Mexico when it was in difficulty, because I felt very 
strongly that the potential of the Mexican economy and the Mexican 
people was very great, and that President Zedillo was pursuing the 
proper course.
    And I would hope that--it's not for me to say, but if I were a 
Mexican citizen, I would be very pleased with the performance of Mexico 
and its economy and its markets over the last several weeks in what has 
been a very challenging time for the world. And I think we need to 
focus--instead of focusing on the changes in these markets on a daily 
basis, our goal should be to work with all of the developing countries 
and all the sort of booming economies to make sure their underlying 
fundamentals are right.
    If the underlying fundamental economic policies are correct, then, 
over time, the markets will follow that, and that should be the key. I 
think Secretary Rubin and his colleagues did a good thing to try to 
stabilize the situation in Asia, for example, but the long-term goal is, 
if the fundamentals are right, eventually you will have good markets and 
a good economy.

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That's the most important thing, is to have a good economy for ordinary 
    Q. [Inaudible]--economy? In Mexico?
    President Clinton. Where?
    Q. In Mexico or the developing economies?
    President Clinton. I just have to say, to me, just as an observer 
and a passionate supporter of democratic government over my lifetime, 
that of course Mexico has a lot of challenges. But if you look at this 
transformation you've made to a multiparty democracy, it's quite amazing 
that it's happened in a way that we've seen stability maintained, 
government's freedom to pursue a responsible economic course maintained. 
It's been very impressive to all of us who are on the outside looking in 
that Mexico has made a dramatic change in its political system, which I 
think will stand you in very good stead over the long run.
    We find our competitive system--although none of us who are in 
office like competition--but our system has stabilized America over the 
long run. I think Mexico will be stabilized by the political 
transformation, but it's amazing that it's happened so quickly and so 
well. And so for me, the political developments there have been 
interesting and very impressive, very hopeful.
    Q. You don't see any obstacles----
    President Clinton. There are always obstacles. There will always be 

Note: The President spoke at 10:20 a.m. in the Oval Office at the White 
House. In his remarks, he referred to United Nations Secretary-General 
Kofi Annan. A tape was not available for verification of the content of 
these remarks.