[Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: William J. Clinton (1998, Book II)]
[December 2, 1998]
[Pages 2111-2114]
[From the U.S. Government Publishing Office www.gpo.gov]

[[Page 2111]]

Remarks Prior to Discussions With Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif of 
Pakistan and an Exchange With Reporters
December 2, 1998

    President Clinton. Let me begin by saying I am delighted to welcome 
Prime Minister Sharif and his group here to the White House and to the 
Oval Office. The United States values its long friendship with Pakistan 
very, very much.
    We have a very full agenda today. All of you know of my concern to 
do everything we can to end the nuclear competition in South Asia, which 
I believe is a threat to Pakistan and India and to the stability of the 
world. We also want to work with Pakistan to promote economic growth 
there, to continue our mutual concern to fight terrorism, and deal with 
some of the other regional issues.
    So we have a great deal to discuss, and I'm very much looking 
forward to it.
    Would you like to say anything?
    Prime Minister Sharif. Thank you, Mr. President. I am also very 
delighted to meet you, and thank you for inviting me to America.
    We've had meetings--also. I am sure that you are taking interest in 
the affairs of Pakistan, which of course also concern the United States 
of America, and we hope to work together. And you are doing your best 
and, of course, it is also my endeavor to remove all the misperceptions 
which are there in our bilateral relations.
    And I look forward to working together with you and strengthening 
our relations with the United States of America.

F-16 Aircraft

    Q. Mr. President, New Zealand has said that it has agreed to lease 
the 28 F-16's whose sale was blocked to Pakistan in 1990. Has that 
received the U.S. blessing?
    And Mr. Prime Minister, would you accept or find acceptable such a 
deal which would only give you about $105 million, much, much less than 
you originally paid for the planes?
    President Clinton. Let me say that I don't presume to answer for the 
Prime Minister, but we have--I have a report to make on this issue which 
is somewhat more extensive, and after we have a chance to discuss it, 
then we will make available, obviously, to the public where we are on 
this. And so I'd like to have a chance to discuss it with him, and then 
we'll have a statement to make on it.

Impeachment Inquiry

    Q. Mr. President, what about the direction of the Judiciary 
Committee's investigation, the expansion into campaign fundraising 
irregularities? What should you and the White House be doing to deal 
with that new turn in the investigation?
    President Clinton. Well, you know, I have a group of lawyers 
handling that, and I presume they'll--we'll find some time to talk about 
that. But the Congress, in the end, has to make its own decisions about 
what it will do and how it will conduct itself. It's important for me to 
get on with the work of the country, and that's what I'm doing here, and 
that's what I intend to continue to do.
    Q. Mr. President, why have you decided not to----

Future Visit to Pakistan and India

    Q. [Inaudible]--on the signing of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, 
and would you consider anything short of that that would allow you to go 
ahead with the visit to Pakistan and India next year?
    President Clinton. I hope it will be possible for me to go next 
year. I've looked forward to it for a long time, and I hope I will be 
able to go. Obviously, I hope that the treaty will be signed.
    Q. But is it a condition?

Pakistan-India Relations

    Q. Mr. President, are you ready to bring both Prime Ministers from 
India and Pakistan here in Washington for further talks or to solve the 
problems of 50 years between the two countries?
    Prime Minister Sharif. That is--[inaudible]. [Laughter]
    President Clinton. You know, that's work that I always like to do. 
I've enjoyed my opportunities to work with the parties in the Middle 
East and in Northern Ireland, but it only works when

[[Page 2112]]

both parties wish the United States to be involved. Otherwise we can't 
be effective.
    Let me say that I have been very encouraged that the two Governments 
have resumed their direct conversations; I think it's very hopeful. And 
I think Prime Minister Sharif has been very forthcoming in this regard. 
And I think he deserves a lot of credit, and I hope the people of 
Pakistan support his decision to continue this dialog with India. I 
think it's very important.
    At any time there's anything that I can do that both parties will 
agree to our doing, of course I will be happy to do it.

Mergers, Layoffs, and the Global Economy

    Q. Sir, can I ask you a question on the--could I ask you an economic 
question, please? Could I ask you a question on the economy, please? 
Thousands of people are losing their jobs at Boeing plants. Kellogg 
today announced a similar move. The Exxon-Mobil merger is going to cause 
people to lose their jobs. What's your concern about the economic 
impact, and is there anything that the administration can do for these 
    President Clinton. Well, I think on the merger question--let's deal 
with that one first. Of course, you've heard what Exxon and Mobil have 
said; you know where the price of oil is; you know what the facts are. 
My position on mergers has always been that if they increase the 
competitiveness of the company and bring lower prices and higher quality 
service to the consumers of our country, then they're good. And if they 
don't, they aren't. And you know we've got the National Economic Council 
reviewing this whole merger issue.
    On this specific one, I have to be very careful in what I say 
because of the way our law works and the judgment that might have to be 
made by independent people in the Federal Government about that.
    On the Boeing and the economy generally, this is--particularly with 
Boeing, which I am very concerned about because I've worked so hard to 
help Boeing and our aerospace industry generally and to get employment 
up--I think it is clearly a result of the global financial crisis and in 
particular the economic problems in Asia. And that's why I have given 
such a high priority for the better part of a year now to trying to--
actually slightly more than a year now--to trying to stabilize the 
situation there, limit the spread of the financial contagion, and then 
reverse conditions in Asia and restore economic growth there.
    I can't tell you how important it is from my point of view for the 
United States to be actively involved in trying to restore the 
conditions of growth in Asia. We can only maintain our leadership in the 
whole aerospace area if there are countries beyond our borders able to 
purchase the airplanes we produce. And this, I think, is purely and 
simply a function of the downturn in Asia. We saw it first in our 
farming communities, where the price of grain dropped because Asian 
purchases dropped so much. And if we can--that's why I went to Korea and 
Japan. And if we can make progress there and see some growth coming back 
in Asia, then you'll see these orders--the countries will be able to 
make good on these orders. They'll start buying the airplanes again, 
production lines will start up again, and they'll call the workers back.
    And that's my goal, before it affects other industries, to try to 
get that growth going back in Asia. It's very, very important to the 
American people to do that.

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

Discussions With Prime Minister Sharif

    President Clinton. Let me say, if everyone is here, I would like to 
just make a brief remark. I am delighted to have the Prime Minister and 
members of his Government here in the Oval Office today. We value our 
friendship with Pakistan very much.
    We have a very full agenda to discuss. All of you know of my concern 
to limit nuclear proliferation in South Asia. I don't believe it's good 
for the peace and stability and security of Pakistanis or Indians or the 
world. And I hope we can make some progress there. But I also want to be 
supportive in any way that we can to help the economy of Pakistan to 
grow, to benefit ordinary citizens of your country. And I hope we can 
discuss our common interest in fighting terrorism and a number of our 
other interests in the region.
    So I am delighted to have the Prime Minister here, and I'm looking 
forward to our conversation.
    Would you like to say something?
    Prime Minister Sharif. I have already said, Mr. President, I am 
delighted to be here, too.

[[Page 2113]]

I thank you very much for extending this invitation to me. I'd like to 
work with you; Pakistan would like to work with the United States of 
America. And there are a lot of issues on which we have common interest, 
and we will be very happy to extend all the help and assistance as far 
as we are concerned, especially on the issue of terrorism. And we have 
been fighting terrorism, and you know that we've been cooperating with 
the United States of America also.
    And all the other issues, as the President has mentioned, we have a 
full agenda today. We will discuss each and every thing that concerns 
America and Pakistan.

Nuclear Proliferation in South Asia

    Q. Pakistan has been a victim of unilateral Pakistani-specific 
sanctions, whereas India, the--country of Pakistan has been let loose to 
tear up all their nuclear programs. India was the one who started the 
first proliferation there, but still Pakistan has been a victim of the 
U.S. sanctions. Don't you think it was unfair? And if it was unfair, 
what is your administration going to do to compensate for what Pakistan 
has already suffered?
    President Clinton. Well, first of all, we have, as a part of our 
dialog on nonproliferation, we have actually lifted a large number of 
the sanctions that were applied against Pakistan to try to get economic 
activity going there again. And we will continue to discuss with the 
Prime Minister what we can do to make further progress.
    In terms of the test, what we were required to do was mandated by an 
act of Congress. There was no discretion in the executive branch about 
it. I have worked very hard to put our relationships back on a more 
normal path, and we have lifted a number of these sanctions already. And 
I look forward to making further progress on that.


    Q. Mr. President, that's not----
    Q. [Inaudible]--you have been very effective in resolving the 
Palestine dispute in the Middle East, and would you also----
    The President. That's a----
    Q. I mean, to some extent. Would you also be using those good 
offices to resolving the Kashmir dispute which has festered and 
threatens a war in the subcontinent?
    The President. Well, that is work that I think is important to do. 
I've worked, as you pointed out, in the Middle East and Northern 
Ireland. But the United States can be effective in that role only when 
both parties want us to do so. There is no case in which we have 
injected ourselves into a dispute in the absence of the agreement of 
both sides, because otherwise it doesn't work.
    I will say this. I want to applaud the Prime Minister for supporting 
resumption of direct talks with the Indians. I think that is very 
important. I think if you look at, if you imagine what the world could 
be like in, let's say, 20 years if the dispute over Kashmir were 
resolved and South Asia--India and Pakistan were both reconciled to each 
other and focused on a positive future, I think the potential for 
increased prosperity among ordinary citizens and increased global 
influence that both have is virtually unlimited. I think this conflict 
is holding both nations back and diminishing the quality of life of 
ordinary citizens.
    So I would do anything I could to help to resolve it. But the most 
important thing is that the leaders are discussing it again; they're 
working on it. And I think what they need, what both leaders need, is a 
little elbow room from the political forces in their country and from 
ordinary citizens, because we see in place after place after place, when 
people can resolve old differences, then they can look to new 
    And if you look at the potential that Pakistan and India have for 
economic growth and for solving a lot of the personal problems that 
ordinary people have, it's absolutely staggering. There's no place on 
Earth with a greater potential for development in the next 30 years than 
South Asia, no place. And if this thorn can be taken from the sides of 
the people, that will occur. So I would support that in any way I could.
    Q. Can I have a followup?
    Q. Mr. President----
    President Clinton. Yes, yes, one more.

Future Visit to Pakistan and India

    Q. Will you renew your plan to visit the subcontinent, that you 
canceled last year?
    President Clinton. Let me say two things before you go. First of 
all, on the question--I very much hope it will be possible for me to go 
next year. I have looked forward to going for many years. As I think you 
know, my wife had a wonderful trip not very long ago, and

[[Page 2114]]

I want to go, and I hope it will be possible for me to go.
    One other thing, Prime Minister, if you'll indulge me before the 
Pakistani press leaves, I think I would like to say to the people of 
Pakistan, on behalf of not just myself personally but the United States, 
our country has been enormously enriched by the presence of Pakistani-
American citizens and immigrants. And we are a stronger, better place 
today because of the people who have come from Pakistan to the United 
States, and that makes me all the more determined to try to be a 
positive force and a good friend and a good partner. And I hope we're 
going to make some progress today.

Note: The President spoke at 1:15 p.m. in the Oval Office at the White 
House. A tape was not available for verification of the content of these