THE WHITE HOUSE

                    Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release                          February 25, 1994     

                          The Briefing Room 

11:55 A.M. EST
	     THE PRESIDENT:  Good morning.  I want to speak briefly 
about events in the Middle East and in Russia.  
	     Early this morning, Palestinian Muslim worshipers at 
prayer in the Mosque of Abraham in Hebron were brutally gunned down 
by a lone Israeli settler.  It can be no coincidence that the 
murderer struck during the holy month of Ramadan and chose a site 
sacred to Muslims and to Jews.  His likely purpose was to ruin the 
historic reconciliation now underway between the Palestinians and the 
	     On behalf of the American people I condemn this crime in 
the strongest possible terms.  I am outraged and saddened that such a 
gross act of murder could be perpetrated.  And I extend my deepest 
sympathies to the families of those who have been killed and wounded.
	     I also call on all the parties to exercise maximum 
restraint in what we all understand is a terribly emotional 
situation.  Extremists on both sides are determined to drag Arabs and 
Israelis back into the darkness of unending conflict and bloodshed.  
We must prevent them from extinguishing the hopes and the visions and 
the aspirations of ordinary people for a life of peaceful existence. 
	     The answer now is to redouble our efforts to conclude 
the talks between Israel and the PLO, and begin the implementation of 
the agreement they have made as rapidly as possible.  Accordingly, 
this morning I asked the Secretary of State to contact Prime Minister 
Rabin and Chairman Arafat and to invite them to send all their 
negotiators involved in the Israel-PLO talks to Washington as soon as 
possible, and to stay here in continuous session until their work is 
completed.  They have both agreed to do that.
	     Our purpose is to accelerate the negotiations on the 
Declaration of Principles and to try to bring them to a successful 
conclusion in the shortest possible time.  Those negotiations have 
already made considerable progress as marked by the Cairo Agreement.  
It is my hope that the parties can turn today's tragic event into a 
catalyst for further progress and reconciliation.  
	     I'd also like to say a word about the Ames espionage 
case, and our broader interests regarding Russia.  Three days ago, an 
employee of the CIA, Aldrich Ames, and his wife were arrested for 
spying, first for the Soviet Union and then for Russia, over a period 
dating back to the mid-1980s.  If the charges are true, the Ames 
couple caused significant damage to our national security and 
betrayed their country.  
	     This is a serious case and we've made that crystal clear 
to the Russian government.  The CIA is working to assess the damage 
to our intelligence operation.  The Justice Department is vigorously 
pursuing the court case.  The FBI is continuing to pursue its 
	     It is important that we not say anything at this point 
that could jeopardize the prosecution.  We need to be firm as we 
pursue both this case and our national interest in democratic reform 
in Russia.  
	     Support of the United States for reform in Russia does 
not flow from a sense of charity or blind faith.  Our policy is based 
on our clear American interests clearly pursued.  It is in our 
national interest to continue working with Russia to lower the 
nuclear threshold; to support the development of Russia as a peaceful 
democracy, stable and at peace with its neighbors; to be a 
constructive partner with the United States in international 
diplomacy; and to develope a flourishing market economy that can 
benefit both their people and ours.  It is, therefore, in our 
interest to make every effort to help the long-term struggle for 
reform in Russia succeed.
	     That's why I've worked with members of both parties in 
Congress to secure assistance for reform in Russia, Ukraine, Armenia, 
and other new states; why I went to Moscow in January, to urge the 
Russian people to stay the course of reform, to join us in building a 
more positive partnership, and to advance the process of democracy 
and market reform.
	     Earlier today, I met with members of Congress from both 
parties to discuss these issues; to stress the need for continuing 
our long-term and bipartisan approach to dealing with Russia.  And I 
urged them to resist calls to reduce or suspend our assistance for 
reform in Russia and the other new states  of the Soviet Union -- 
former Soviet Union.  After all, a great portion of our aid is to 
facilitate the dismantlement of nuclear weapons that were aimed at 
the United States for over four decades.  It is in our interest, 
plainly, to continue this policy.   
	     The majority of our economic assistance is flowing not 
to government but to reformers outside Moscow, mostly in the 
nongovernmental sector to help them start business and privatize 
existing businesses, to help private farmers and to help support 
exchange programs.
	     Throughout the Cold War, our nation acted with a 
steadiness of purpose in overcoming the challenge of Soviet 
communism.  Today, whether it is in our policies toward Russia or 
toward the Middle East, we need that same steadiness of purpose.  Our 
policies must be designed for the long-term and for the American 
national interests.
	     Q	  Mr. President, Russia seems to be taking the view 
that the spy case is no big deal.  Are you satisfied with Russia's 
response and cooperation to this?  And if they don't withdraw 
individuals from their embassy here, will you expel them?
	     THE PRESIDENT:  Well, let me try to clarify, first of 
all, what we have sought and why we have sought it.  We have not 
sought Russian cooperation in any damage assessment .  That was 
simply, I think, an erroneous report.  We have sought Russian 
cooperation, if you will, in terms of taking what we believe is 
appropriate action in this case; and we think it's appropriate action 
be taken.  
	     We have expressed our views in what we hoped the 
Russians would do.  If they do not do that, then we will take action 
and we will take it quickly, and then it will be apparent what we 
have done.
	     Q	  Mr. President, has there been any formal response? 
Out of Moscow today they said they think they can have a dignified 
resolution.  Has anything been offered?  And, also, are you looking 
for a second possible double agent in the CIA?
	     THE PRESIDENT:  We are -- we have made our position 
clear.  We have been in contact with the Russians.  We think 
appropriate action will be taken one way or the other very soon.
	     Q	  Mr. President, you referred to the perpetrator of 
the massacre today as a lone settler, and the evidence so far 
suggests that he did act alone.  But there have been repeated reports 
over the years of Americans providing aid, both fundraising and other 
sorts of aid to extremist groups on both sides.  And I wonder 
whether, in light of today's massacre, whether there is more that 
needs to be done here to try to prevent Americans from providing aid 
and other forms of support to Jewish extremist groups that may be 
involved in these sorts of actions.
	     THE PRESIDENT:  Well, let me say, based on what we now 
know, we have no reason to believe that this killer was involved with 
any group.  If we find out differently, we will assess our position 
at that time.
	     I can say this:  that Prime Minister Rabin, himself, has 
recognized the need to strengthen the security provided by Israeli 
forces against extremists, including Israeli extremists.  But as far 
as we know, this was the action of one individual.
	     Q	  Mr. President, what is it about this massacre as 
opposed to other setbacks that have occurred in the Middle East that 
has brought you to this podium today, that makes you feel it's 
necessary to make a strong statement?
	     THE PRESIDENT:  First of all, its scope and setting is 
horrible from a purely human point of view.  Secondly, it comes at a 
time when it appears to be clearly designed to affect the lives of 
hundreds of thousands of others by derailing the peace process.  And 
I am hoping that the statesmanship   of the leaders in the region and 
the attention that this will bring to the terrible problem will not 
only diffuse what could become a much worse round of killings and 
counterattacks, but will actually be used to thwart the purpose of 
the murder and to reinvigorate the peace process.
	     Q	  Mr. President, just to follow up on the earlier 
question.  There have been reports from the scene that the Israeli 
army stood by and allowed this massacre to go on.  What kind of 
recommendation would you make to Israel to try to do an investigation 
to see what happened and change the perception maybe of that?
	     THE PRESIDENT:  Well, we have no reason -- we do not 
know that to be true.  I can say that at this time.  And we have -- 
the Secretary of State has talked with Prime Minister Rabin.  I was 
not able to talk with him myself yet because of the other meetings I 
had this morning.  I believe the Israelis are committed to increasing 
security where they can do so.  And I don't want to comment on that 
without some evidence or reason to believe its true.
	     Q	  Mr. President, there's a G-7 meeting on Saturday in 
Frankfort.  It's supposed to focus on Russian aid.  Do we go to that 
meeting with any particular proposition on the speed of aid, or the 
conditionality of aid to Russia?  And also, at that meeting, Bentsen 
will be meeting with Japanese Finance Minister Fujii regarding the 
failed trade talks, framework talks.  Do you see the Gephardt and 
Rockefeller open markets still being helpful to your mission to open 
markets in Japan?  Do you support that?
	     THE PRESIDENT:  Well, we've taken no position on any 
particular legislation.  I think that it shows the determination of 
the American people to improve our trade and open the markets; 
especially the involvement of Senator Rockefeller, who's actually 
lived in Japan and I think is thought of genuinely as a friend of 
Japan, but someone who understands what is at stake here.
	     With regard to the other question, I think we're where 
we always have been.  The kind of aid and the amount of aid which 
will flow to Russia, and the sources from which it flows I think will 
be a function of the policies and conduct of the Russians.
	     Q	  Are you concerned now, sir, apart from the Ames 
case, about other developments in Russia that might make your policy 
there appear almost to be in denial, based on what you and others 
wish were happening or hope will happen, rather than what really is 
happening there?
	     THE PRESIDENT:  No, I mean, this has -- my policy has 
nothing to do with what I wish or hope will happen.  Our response 
will be dictated by their behavior.  But I think the -- what I think 
is naive in this whole element is the suggestion that we should have 
ever believed for a moment that every event in Russia and every 
speech made by every Russian politician in every election of every 
member of Parliament  would somehow be in a constant straight line 
toward a goal that we wanted to predetermine.  They have to make 
their own future.  That's what I said there over and over again.
	     This is not black and white; this is grey.  There will 
be developments over the course of our relationship with Russia which 
-- as there are over the course of our relationship with every other 
country -- where we won't like everything that happens.  We should do 
things based on a clear-headed appreciation of what is in our 
national interest.  
	     No one has made a compelling case to me, publicly or 
privately, that it is not in our national interests to continue to 
work with the President of Russia and the government of Russia on 
denuclearization, on cooperation and respect for neighbors and on 
economic reform where we can support it.  That is, the privatization 
movement, for example, I would just remind you, is still going on in 
Russia and has basically occurred more rapidly there than in other 
former Soviet countries.  
	     So I don't believe the fact that a few speeches are made 
that we don't agree with, or that policies are pursued based on an 
election they had for a Parliament that we don't agree with should 
force us to abandon what is in our national interest.  When it is no 
longer in our national interest to do these things, then we should 
stop it.  But we cannot be allowed -- deluded into thinking that our 
national interest can be defined by every election and every speech 
in Russia; that can't be.
	     Q	  Mr. President, in inviting the parties to come here 
to Washington, do you also anticipate that you or the Secretary of 
State will adopt a different posture toward these negotiations?  Up 
to now, we've kind of let them handle it and keep a hands-off 
approach -- wisely.  But do you see, in fact, now that they're going 
to be here and given the urgency you've assigned to it, do you see 
yourself or the Secretary taking a different posture toward the 
	     THE PRESIDENT:  I think, first of all, the very act of 
inviting them here indicates some sense of urgency on our part.  What 
we have done to date, as you know, is largely to try to give both 
sides the security they needed to proceed, and the assurances that we 
would support it, but that they would have to freely make the 
agreement.  We still believe they will have to freely agree.  
	     We believe they are close to agreement.  We want to do 
things that will prevent this last terrible incident from derailing 
that, and to try to send a signal to the peoples in the region to not 
overreact to this horrible act, that the path of peace is still the 
right path.  Whether that will require us to do more in particular 
meetings, I can't say, because we have discussed this with Chairman 
Arafat, with Prime Minister Rabin because we wanted to move quickly 
and they did, too, and we'll just have to wait for that to unfold.
	     Q	  Mr. President, Senator Nunn has just said that we 
should not be asking Russia to voluntarily bring back their 
diplomats, but we should have simply expelled them the way we would 
have during the Cold War and after the Cold War; that this is too 
serious a case.  Why didn't we just expel the diplomats still working 
	     THE PRESIDENT:  I think that the judgment of the 
security services was -- and the national security team -- was that 
the Russians ought to be at least told what we know -- not negotiated 
with, there was no negotiation -- told what we know and given an 
opportunity to take whatever action they wanted to take.  And if they 
don't, then we will do what we should do.  And we will take 
appropriate action.  We will do that soon.
	     Q	  Mr. President, does that also mean, as Senator 
Leahy and Senator Mitchell and others are suggesting following your 
meeting this morning, that you, the United States government, will 
also expose Russian diplomats who are, in effect, who are really 
intelligence officers who are not declared to the U. S. government as 
intelligence officers?  Will you take that step and, if you do, don't 
you invite retaliation, counterexpulsions, counterdeclarations, 
exposures on the part of the Russian government against U.S. 
officials in Moscow?
	     THE PRESIDENT:  We intend to take the action that we 
think is appropriate and you won't have to wait long to find out what 
that is.
	     Q	  Mr. President, are you in any way interfering with 
the judicial process in appearing with Congressman Rostenkowski in 
Illinois on Monday?  There have been suggestions 
	     THE PRESIDENT:  Absolutely not.
	     Q	     that Attorney General Reno had concerns that you 
would be appearing with someone under investigation?
	     THE PRESIDENT:  First of all -- let me make a couple of 
comments about that.  First of all, I have had no conversations to 
that effect with anyone in the Justice Department.  Secondly, there 
is no way in the world we would do anything like that.  Thirdly, this 
investigation has been going on for months.  I have been in Chicago 
before with Congressman Rostenkowski.  I am going there and will be 
with other members of Congress, at least one other I know and perhaps 
more, to talk about issues that directly relate to this 
administration's work that he is a critical part of: health care and 
crime.  And finally, there is still a presumption of innocence in 
this country.  He has not yet been charged with anything.  
	     But I can tell you, there has been absolutely no contact 
of any nature about this case with the Justice Department and the 
White House that anyone could draw any inference of impropriety on.  
And I have received nothing back the other way that I shouldn't go to 
Chicago.  I am going there to fight for things I believe in that he 
has played a critical role in.  I am going to be with at least one 
other, perhaps more members of Congress -- I don't know yet -- and 
I'm going to be doing something that I have already done while this 
investigation has been going on.  No one ever said anything about it 
	     Q	  You said that the Ames case had caused significant 
damage to the national security.  Can you be more specific, sir?  And 
secondly, you've said the FBI investigation is ongoing.  Are you 
satisfied that we know the full extent of the penetration of the CIA 
at this point?
	     THE PRESIDENT:  Well, I can say very little about that 
except to assure you -- I talked with Director Freeh this morning 
myself -- I am confident that the FBI, working with the CIA, is doing 
everything that is humanly possible to fully investigate this case.  
I do not want to raise red herrings or other possibilities, only to 
say this:  that it is not unusual, as the FBI Director said this 
morning.  Sometimes it happens that when you're in a criminal 
investigation and you're on to something, the investigation turns up 
information that could not have been anticipated in the beginning.  I 
am not trying to say that has occurred.  I'm not trying to raise any 
false hopes.  All I'm telling you is, I have directed the FBI and the 
CIA and everybody else to do everything they can to get to the full 
bottom of this.  And I have nothing else to say about it.  
	     And, again, I'm not trying to raise some tantalizing 
inference, I'm just saying that we have to keep going and try to root 
it out.  After all, this is fundamentally a problem within America, 
about whether people here who are Americans are spying, and that's 
our responsibility to try to find it out.
	     Thank you.
	     THE PRESS:  Thank you.

                                 END12:16 P.M. EST