[Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: William J. Clinton (1998, Book I)]
[May 15, 1998]
[Pages 763-764]
[From the U.S. Government Publishing Office www.gpo.gov]

Exchange With Reporters Prior to Discussions With President Jacques 
Chirac of France in Birmingham, United 
May 15, 1998

Nuclear Proliferation in South Asia

    Q. Mr. President, will you be trying to persuade the other summit 
leaders to impose sanctions on India?
    President Clinton. First of all, I would like to thank President and 
Mrs. Chirac for the wonderful reception 
that Hillary has received in France. 
She was there for a couple of days; she was able to go out with Mrs. 
Chirac to her constituency. And she called me last night very, very 
excited and very pleased. And I thank you for your hospitality. It was 
    President Chirac. The visit to Correze was simply fascinating, as we 
heard. And I certainly agree with that.
    President Clinton. We're going to discuss this. As you know, I think 
it's important that we take a clear position. I hope we can convince 
Pakistan not to engage in testing. I'd like everyone to sign on to the 
Comprehensive Test Ban and work together to reduce the nuclear threat. 
There are ways for a great nation to preserve its security without 
nuclear weapons, and that's what I want to focus on.

Middle East Peace Process

    Q. Mr. President, there were eight people killed on the West Bank. 
Is that a sign people are losing hope in the peace process there, and 
what can you do?
    President Clinton. Well, we know there's a lot of frustration there, 
and I regret very much the loss of life as well as the tensions which 
occurred there. I saw the--all I know is what I saw on television last 
night. But for me, the larger lesson is that delay is not the friend of 
peace and that we need to work very hard. I'm encouraged that Secretary 
Albright and Prime Minister 
Netanyahu are still working, and we need, 
I think of all us, to try to come to terms with the difficult issues 
that would at least get the parties into the final status talks.

[[Page 764]]

    We have been more than a year now without any substantial progress. 
And I think the larger message here, apart from the tragedies involved 
for everybody, is that delay is not the friend of the peace process. 
It's time to move.

Situation in Indonesia

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

    President Clinton. Would you translate for the Americans?
    President Chirac. Well, of course, we would like to have a peaceful 
solution to the Indonesian crisis--all the more, considering that 
Indonesia needs the international community in order to overcome the 
financial crisis. And of course, we will encourage fully any solution 
that would be liable to settle the political crisis in Indonesia.
    President Clinton. Let me say, first, we have been working since 
last November with President Soeharto and with 
Indonesia to try to work through the financial crisis. The IMF has 
modified its plan on a couple of occasions to try to make it possible to 
have both reform and to minimize the harm to ordinary citizens in 
    In terms of who should govern Indonesia, that is a question for the 
Indonesians to decide, not the G-8. But I do believe that resolving the 
crisis now requires not only economic reform but also a genuine dialog 
between the Government and all the elements in society to try to 
determine how they should go forward. That, to me, is the most important 
thing. The result of that dialog is for them to decide, not us.

President's Health

    Q. Mr. President, how is your back?
    President Clinton. Great. Much better today.

Note: The exchange began at 1:52 p.m. at the Swallow Hotel. In his 
remarks, the President referred to President Chirac's wife, Bernadette, 
Councillor General, Correze Department; and Prime Minister Binyamin 
Netanyahu of Israel. President Chirac spoke in French, and his remarks 
were translated by an interpreter.