[Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: William J. Clinton (1996, Book I)]
[January 30, 1996]
[Pages 114-116]
[From the U.S. Government Publishing Office www.gpo.gov]



Remarks Prior to Discussions With Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin of 
Russia and an Exchange With Reporters
January 30, 1996

Gore-Chernomyrdin Commission

    The President. Let me say that we are delighted to have Prime 
Minister Chernomyrdin here. He and the Vice President have had very good 
meetings, and the relationship that they have established and the work 
they have done I think has played a major role in the continued 
strengthening of our partnership with Russia. And I'm very pleased at 
the progress of this meeting, and I'm very pleased again to have him 
here in the United States.
    Prime Minister Chernomyrdin. Thank you, Mr. President. We have just 
held the sixth session of the commission, so we made some significant 
progress. And I believe that it is due to the organization of your side 
that it was possible to have some results. Perhaps for the lack of time, 
we don't have as many results as we could have. Well, I think that this 
is due to the Vice President, Mr. Gore, that we have this success.
    The President. He thought it was due to you.

Russia

    Q. President Clinton, are you concerned and are you going to speak 
about some of the anti-reform forces that seem to be operating in the 
former Soviet Union?
    The President. Well, we're going to have a discussion about where 
things are in Russia on a number of issues, but I personally am 
convinced, by the assurances that I received from President Yeltsin on 
our telephone call last week and the record that the Prime Minister 
himself has established, that Russia is firmly moving forward on reform. 
And I believe that Russia will receive the support of the International 
Monetary Fund and the other international institutions as well as the 
United States and other allies. I think we'll keep moving in this 
direction.
    They had a good year in 1995: They had inflation down; production 
was stable; the ruble was stronger. I think that they're seeing some 
real economic growth there, and it's a record they can be proud of.

Chechnya

    Q. What about Chechnya? Are you going to discuss that, and do you 
have continuing questions about it?
    The President. I talked to President Yeltsin about that last week, 
but we'll have a few words about it.

Welfare Reform

    Q. Do you plan to veto a Senate version of the welfare bill, the 
next welfare bill? There's

[[Page 115]]

some talk that conservatives will want to send you a tougher bill than 
the one that you vetoed last year.
    The President. You mean a bill that would be tougher to veto, not a 
tougher bill. [Laughter] The Senate--the version that passed the Senate 
is a better bill than the bill that they sent me. But in fairness also 
to the congressional leaders, we discussed welfare reform extensively in 
the context of the budget negotiations. And I suppose whether they 
decide to send a separate bill in part depends upon whether we can reach 
a comprehensive agreement on the budget. But we had reached some 
understandings that I think would give us an even better bill.
    Now, the Republicans, to be fair to them, are not bound by any of 
the discussions we had in the budget because we had a general agreement 
that nothing was agreed to until everything was agreed to. But we had 
certainly moved well beyond that bill in our discussions and made some 
critical improvements, particularly in the question of child care for 
women who would go into the work force and on the question of how to 
handle the families of children with disabilities, those two things.
    We made some real movement beyond the Senate bill. So I would hope 
if they do send me a separate bill, which of course is their perfect 
right to do, that it would reflect the discussions that we had here in 
the budget negotiations.

``Primary Colors''

    Q. Who do you think wrote ``Primary Colors?''
    The President. I don't know. I haven't read it.
    Q. Are you going to?
    The President. I don't know. I've got a lot of books to read. I 
probably will. I'm going to have a lot of book-reading time this year, 
because I'm going to be traveling a lot. But I haven't read it, and I 
have no idea who wrote it. I mean, you all find out everything in the 
wide world. The least you could do is tell all of us who wrote that 
book. I must say, I admire the publisher and the author. It's the only 
secret I've seen kept in Washington in 3 years.

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

Gore-Chernomyrdin Commission

    Q. Mr. President, can I ask you a question?
    The President. Yes, but before, let me make a brief statement.
    It is a real honor for us in the United States to have Prime 
Minister Chernomyrdin here again. I very much appreciate the work that 
he has done with Vice President Gore and the progress that they have 
made on many specific issues and, in general, in strengthening the ties 
and the partnership between the United States and Russia. So they've had 
another good meeting. I think that the Russian people and President 
Yeltsin will be very well pleased with the results. And I just want to 
say, for my part, how much I appreciate the time and the effort and the 
skill that the Prime Minister has brought to this work.
    Q. Mr. President, this $9 billion, that's important for Russia 
money-wise and important as a sign of support, recognition. Can I report 
back home that you support Russia with this $9 billion loan?
    The President. Yes.
    Q. Unconditionally?
    The President. As far as I know, they've worked out--they either 
have worked out or we are in the process of seeing worked out the 
differences between them. So I believe that the loan will go through, 
and I believe that it should.

Russia-U.S. Relations

    Q. Are you going to visit Moscow in April?
    The President. That's where we're going to have our meeting, isn't 
it? I told President Yeltsin I'd be there, and I intend to be there. I'm 
looking forward to it. And as you know, our United States Senate just 
ratified the START II treaty. And I'm hoping that the treaty will find 
favor in the Russian Duma. And then I'm really looking forward to our 
meeting in April and moving forward with a comprehensive nuclear test 
ban treaty and a number of other issues.
    I think that the leadership that President Yeltsin has taken in 
bringing together to discuss these issues is very important for the 
safety of the world and in reassuring all the countries and the people 
of the world that aggression of governments against one another is no 
longer an option. We have to work together to make all of our people 
safer and all of our people more prosperous.

[[Page 116]]

    Q. Mr. President, would you say that the general business between 
America and Russia is usual?
    The President. Excuse me?
    Q. Business between America and Russia is still as usual?
    The President. I think that cooperation is there, the partnership is 
there, and I feel good about it. Perhaps the Prime Minister should 
comment.

[At this point, Prime Minister Chernomyrdin answered the question in 
Russian, and a translation was not provided.]

Note: The President spoke at 2:40 p.m. in the Oval Office at the White 
House. In his remarks, he referred to President Boris Yeltsin of Russia. 
A tape was not available for verification of the content of these 
remarks.