Gore Advisers Brief on His Foreign Policy
Answer questions at State Dept.'s Foreign Press Center
By Kristianna Smith
Washington File Staff Writer
Washington - Senior foreign policy advisers to Democratic
Presidential contender Al Gore highlighted his experience and foreign
policy expertise at an October 24 briefing at the State Department's
Foreign Press Center.
"On January 20th of this coming year, the new president of the United
States will be faced with a whole host of challenges on the
international agenda. We are very clear in our realization of that,
and Vice President Gore is prepared to tackle that," Gore Senior
Foreign Policy Adviser Bruce Jentelson said.
He stressed Gore's record of support for a strong national defense,
and of knowing "when it's important for the United States to play a
leadership role, as well as someone who's bold and innovative on the
"Al Gore has spent a lot time in this campaign trying to lay out a
conception of what his approach is going to be, something that he and
Leon Fuerth, his national security adviser, have called forward
engagement," Jentelson said.
"And the essence of this is that it's important for the United States
not alone but in partnership with others in the world to try to
address these issues as early as possible, to act preventively to deal
with these issues before they become crises, and to do it in a way
that reflects both our interests and values. For the people on the
Republican side to refer to deployments like in Bosnia and Kosovo as
meaningless is fundamentally at odds with the values that the United
States represents in the world," Jentelson said.
Asked about U.S. relations with Russia, and the belief by some
Russians that the relationship has deteriorated in recent years,
Ambassador Marc Ginsberg, Senior Foreign Policy Adviser, said that
belief is not true.
"Al Gore has been prepared to stand up for our national interest and
to engage Russia, to work with its society and with its government to
help further the reforms that the Russian people want, to do what is
necessary to lend cooperation to help bring about a denuclearization
of the threat that we face with Russia, to work with Russia on NATO
enlargement, to establish the Partnership for Peace, to help limit the
amount of weaponry that would be proliferated by Russia to other
countries that are adversaries to the United States, and to engage the
Russian people across the board whether it be on corruption, whether
it be on cooperation, whether it be on civil liberties and civil
Ginsberg said, however, that newly elected Russian President Putin and
his administration "remain an untested quantity" in the U.S.-Russian
"One of the things that has been most of concern to the vice president
has been the apparent willingness on the part of the Russian
government to crack down unfairly on the freedom of the press in
Russia," Ginsberg said.
Ambassador Robert Hunter, Co-Chair of the Gore Defense Advisory Group
and former ambassador to NATO, was asked to clarify Gore's policy on
"If, indeed, the United States is going to have a productive
relationship with the so-called European Security and Defense Policy,
it's going to have to be on the basis in which every member of NATO
has the opportunity to be engaged in what the European Security and
Defense Policy does," Hunter said.
"Those people who languished for so long behind the Iron Curtain have
a full right to be full partners and full members in all the
Euro-Atlantic institutions, and that includes NATO enlargement," he
On Africa, Ernest Wilson, Co-Chair of the Gore/Lieberman Africa
Advisory Group, said that "The vice president feels very strongly that
our relationship with the continent of Africa is very much in the
national interests of the United States of America."
Vice President Gore "emphasizes the new security agenda. He looks at
issues of infectious diseases - HIV-AIDS, the environment, economic
issues and economic security," Wilson said, and at the same time, he
has a very strong record in understanding the old security issues --
relationships with Russia, issues of nuclear engagement.
"And so the notion of forward engagement, which the vice president has
articulated, is especially relevant, I would say, to Africa and other
developing areas, and is in strong distinction to what we find in the
Republican platform and in the remarks that have been made by the
Senior Foreign Policy Adviser, Bruce Jentelson, was questioned about
the China-Taiwan issue.
"It's very clear what our relations are with Taiwan," he said. "The
vice president believes that the overall resolution of this issue, as
well as the overall security of the region, is helped by efforts to
try to develop the relationship with China."
Jentelson said that "the intent of the United States and the intent of
Al Gore and his administration is going to be to try to maximize the
areas of cooperation with the People's Republic of China, and at the
same time being very clear about where our differences are, and
ensuring in those areas that we stand up for American interests and
that we stand by our allies in the region."
The importance of Japan in terms of security matters was questioned by
a reporter from Fiji Press, a Japanese news agency.
"There's no doubt that one of the most important objectives of a Gore
administration will be to strengthen our security commitments with
Japan. Japan represents the cornerstone in our security in the Western
Pacific and indeed throughout the Pacific," Ambassador Ginsberg said.
"Obviously, the American military presence in Japan as well as in the
Pacific is very important. I'm sure that the vice president will
continue that commitment based on our mutual recognition between our
two governments of what is useful and appropriate to maintain our
On India, in response to a question by a reporter from Press Trust of
India, Wilson said that Gore "believes in strong relations with the
government of India." Wilson also said that the vice president
supports the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT).
Wilson added that "the vice president's national security adviser,
Leon Fuerth, recently spoke to several groups of U.S.-Indian business
people on the importance of developing an economic relationship and
strengthening the economic relationship that exists."
A television reporter from Qatar asked if there are differences in
Middle East policy between Vice President Gore and the Presidential
candidate of the Republican Party, George W. Bush.
Jentelson said regardless of who wins the Presidency, the United
States goal will continue to be not only to try to help resolve the
issues, "the direct issues between Israel and the Palestinians and
Israel and Syria," but also "to continue to work throughout the region
through the multilateral talks."
Asked about Gore's policy towards Colombia, Ginsberg said the vice
president "has been a champion of Plan Colombia. We recognize the
importance of working cooperatively with our friends in Latin America
to ensure that the objectives of Plan Colombia are accomplished
without causing undue concern among our allies in the region."
U.S. assistance to Plan Colombia "is a perfect illustration of how Al
Gore has worked hard to fashion a bipartisan consensus with the major
leadership in the Congress on a matter of great concern to us among
our friends in the hemisphere," Ginsberg said.
Asked about Gore's views on globalization, Wilson said that Gore is
interested in expanding world trade. "He has a vision of the new
economy that will be associated and will require a new foreign policy
to advance that new economy. At the heart of the new economy is
Jentelson commented that, "It is important to have a president who
knows how to begin to deal with these kinds of very difficult
situations - who puts together an excellent team but also has the
capacity, the experience, the expertise to know where he stands on
these issues independently."
Ginsberg said that "As we enter the final two weeks of the campaign,
the American people have a clear choice: Will they choose a candidate
who has 25 years of battle-tested foreign policy experience...The
American people deserve a president who will learn the facts and have
the judgment and experience to maintain America's responsibilities in
A writer from the newspaper Indian Express asked why Gore, a person
"that gives the impression often of being very strong-willed, and
all-knowing," needs a foreign policy team at all. Ambassador Ginsberg
responded: "No one candidate, whether it be a Republican or Democrat,
is able to effectively manage a foreign policy campaign by themselves.
I think if that were the case, then all of us would probably not be as
busy as we are."
Gore, Ginsberg said, "is a man who has reached out to a broad spectrum
of advisers in order to be able to shape the agenda that has permitted
him to focus on not only finishing the old business of the Cold War,
but looking at these new issues.
"It takes an enormous amount of centered creativity and experience to
achieve the achievements that he has achieved, and that's why it's
such a great honor for us to work with him."
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