[Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: William J. Clinton (1997, Book II)]
[November 24, 1997]
[Pages 1652-1653]
[From the U.S. Government Publishing Office www.gpo.gov]

Exchange With Reporters Prior to Discussions With President Jiang Zemin 
of China in Vancouver
November 24, 1997

Situation in Iraq

    Q. President Clinton, if we might, could we have a question about 
Iraq? I wondered why it was so important that the U.N. inspectors be 
able to--why is it critical that they see these palaces which Saddam 
Hussein now has made off limits?
    President Clinton. Well, let me say, first of all, like all issues, 
this should be looked at on the basis of the real underlying facts. The 
term ``palace'' has a different meaning in Iraq than it would to the 
ordinary American. The ordinary American would hear the word ``palace,'' 
and they would think, a very fancy residence for a head of state or a 
member of a royal family.
    There are 78 such palaces in Iraq. Many of them are huge compounds. 
Some of them actually encompass more land than Washington, DC, does. So 
to put 78 palaces, when you look at what they really are, off limits 
according to Mr.

[[Page 1653]]

Butler and our inspectors would mean that they could not adequately 
search for chemical and biological weapons operations. Our position is, 
if the inspector team says they ought to do it, that's a lot of land, a 
lot of buildings, and they ought to be able to do what they think is 
    Q. Well, do you suspect that he's using these palaces to hide 
illegal arms?
    President Clinton. Well, they have acknowledged that in 1995--as 
late as 1995, that they had quite substantial stores of weapons and 
potential weapons that would be prohibited and subject to inspection and 
destruction under the U.N. resolution. And I just want the inspectors to 
be able to do their job. My suspicions are not important. The only thing 
that matters here is that the inspectors can do their job under the U.N. 
    Q. President Jiang, does China support--you have one more week as 
President of the Council--does China support the U.S. position that 
there should be unimpeded inspections in Iraq?
    President Jiang. I'll ask the Foreign Minister to answer your 
    Q. All right.
    Foreign Minister Qian Qichen. We have supported always the 
completion of inspection in Iraq in the United Nations.

Wei Jingsheng

    Q. Mr. President, is Wei Jingsheng going to be able to come home 
ever, do you think?
    President Jiang. Well, this matter will be handled according to 
China's judicial procedures.

International Agreement on Greenhouse Gas Emissions

    Q. President Clinton, do you think you'll press China on global 
    President Clinton. We've discussed this before, and I hope we get a 
chance to discuss it again today. I think we have a framework that's 
good for China, good for the United States, good for the world. We're 
going to talk about it some more today.

Wei Jingsheng

    Q. Mr. President, have you talked with Wei Jingsheng?
    President Clinton. No, we just got here. [Laughter] We haven't 
talked about anything.

Note: The exchange began at 12:45 p.m. in the Princess Louisa Suite at 
the Waterfront Centre Hotel. In his remarks, the President referred to 
Wei Jingsheng, Chinese dissident recently released for medical treatment 
in the United States.