JOINT PRESS AVAILABILITY
SECRETARY OF STATE
MADELEINE K. ALBRIGHT AND
SENATOR JESSE HELMS, CHAIRMAN,
SENATE FOREIGN RELATIONS COMMITTEE
JESSE HELMS CENTER
WINGATE, NORTH CAROLINA
QUESTION: To both of you, what are the chances for some sort of an agreement on the Chemical Weapons Treaty? The Administration has said that it is a priority, and it's going to go down the tubes.
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: I would like to say that we obviously do consider it a major priority. It is our hope that it will go through and that it will be seen as a contribution to the security of the American people.
SENATOR HELMS: For my part, there would be no problem with it if we could continue to negotiate as we have been doing for the last few days. There was a time, earlier on, when some in the Administration were stonewalling it. But Joe Biden and I consulted in my office, Wednesday night past, for about four and one half hours and we covered 21 differences and resolved them. So, if both sides will sit down and be realistic about, there is a very good chance that there could be a treaty. Otherwise, if that doesn't happen there could be a difficulty. But I certainly hope that there will not be.
QUESTION: Mr. Chairman, do you see a relationship between CWC and the issue of reorganization of the State Department and other foreign policy agencies?
SENATOR HELMS: I read in the Washington Post -- and of course I believe everything I see in the Washington Post -- Sunday morning that the Administration was talking about having a reorganization plan, which Madam Secretary and I have been talking about for a great while. The truth of the matter is that I believe both sides want to do what's best for the country. There are differences of opinion, and as I told the President not too long ago, I'm not asking anyone to surrender his or her principle but both sides ought to act in the best interest of the country. That's what I intend to do and I'm sure that's what the Secretary is going to do.
QUESTION: (inaudible) there's nothing blocking the release of the Chemical Weapons Treaty, you believe, except for the specific issues connected to the treaty, and that the U.N. payments for example and other issues are not or are no longer to be resolved first?
SENATOR HELMS: The U.N. dues matter has nothing to do with the Chemical Weapons Treaty.
QUESTION: And how about the State Department reorganization, does that have to be agreed on first before you consider (inaudible)?
SENATOR HELMS: Well, that will depend on the Administration and I am hopeful we can sit down the first week that we are back. Now, I intend to have hearings on the Treaty on the Wednesday after the Tuesday that we reconvene. So, we are going to do the best we can, and as I say here, neither side -- certainly my side -- are not going to surrender any principle and I don't ask the other side to do that.
QUESTION: Mr. Chairman, you told me a couple of weeks ago that the Chemical Weapons Treaty really didn't do anything. Do you still have that opinion?
SENATOR HELMS: Well, it's overrated. I don't want the American people to have a false sense of security about it because it will accomplish not one thing in the world in terms of protecting the American people. Now, it maybe has some good points and it's sort of hard for me to find, but I'm willing to look for them, particularly with the Secretary.
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: I think this is one of those examples where we might not agree, and come and listen to the speech tonight.