FILE ID:97031908.TXT

(President also discusses upcoming Helsinki summit) (2100)

Washinton -- President Clinton announced his nomination of George
Tenet to be Director of Central Intelligence at a news briefing late
March 19, a few hours before departure for his Helsinki summit meeting
with Russian President Boris Yeltsin.

The President also discussed his agenda for the Helsinki conference
and his meeting with key members of the Congressional budget

Following is the White House transcript of the briefing:

(begin transcript)


THE PRESIDENT: Good afternoon. I have just completed a very productive
meeting with the Senate and House chairs and ranking minority members
or the Budget Committee and all of you know I'm about to leave in a
few hours for Helsinki for my meeting with President Yeltsin. But
before we discuss those things, I want to announce my intention to
nominate George Tenet, who is standing here with me with his family,
currently the acting Director of the CIA, as the Director of Central
Intelligence. He brings a wealth of experience and skill to the
challenge of leading our intelligence community into the 21st century.

Beginning in 1995, he served with real distinction as Deputy Director
under John Deutch. Prior to that, he was my senior aide for
intelligence at the National Security Council. He did a superb job of
helping to set out our intelligence priorities for new challenges. And
at the CIA, he has played a pivotal role in putting these priorities
into place and leading the intelligence community in meeting the
demands of the post-Cold war world.

As the longtime staff director of the Senate Select Committee on
Intelligence, George Tenet understands the essential role Congress
must play in the intelligence community's work. Since joining our
administration, he has maintained a strong relationship in Congress.
He knows well the concerns of the intelligence community as well. He
knows that I must have the unvarnished truth. He knows how critical
timely, reliable intelligence is to our nation's security. I'm proud
to nominate him for this vital job and very grateful for the service
that he has rendered to our administration and to our country.

TENET: Mr. President, thank you very much. I just would like to take a
moment just to read a brief statement. I'm deeply honored that you
have nominated me to be Director of Central Intelligence. In many
ways, Mr. President and. Mr. Vice President, it is a bittersweet
moment for me. I had hoped to serve with my good friend, Tony Lake, as
his deputy, and as you said yesterday he has made an enormous
contribution to our country.

Throughout my career, Mr. President, in the Senate, here at the
National Security Council and at the intelligence community as John
Deutch's deputy, I have believed that you have to and the Vice
President must be provided with complete and objective intelligence.
I've always believed that there's no room for partisanship in the
conduct of our intelligence community. We must always be straight and
tell you the facts as we know them.

Mr. President, the job of DCI also involves leading wonderful people.
You and our nation are blessed with, every day, the hard work of the
men and women of our intelligence community. They thrive on the
challenge. They and their families learn to live without positive
public recognition. They understand the dangers that must be
confronted and our national interests that must be protected by them
every day around the globe.

Mr. President, if confirmed, I will do my level best to provide
leadership, stability and strength of purpose to the fine men and
women who serve our nation with such devotion. And if confirmed, I
pledge that I will provide you and the Vice President and our National
Security Advisor with the best, most objective intelligence we can

Finally, Mr. President, I'd like to say that on a personal note, over
50 years ago my father came to this country from Greece. He's not here
with me today, but on behalf of him and my family, I'd like to thank
you for the honor that you've bestowed upon me. Thank you very, very

CLINTON: Thank you.

TENET:  Thank you.

CLINTON:  Congratulations. Thank you.

QUESTION:  Do you think he will be confirmed?

CLINTON:   I do.

Q:  Why?

CLINTON: Well, because he's well-known to the Senate and
well-respected by Republicans as well as Democrats.

Q:  Mr. President -

CLINTON:  Let me finish my statement.

Our first order of business when I get back from Helsinki must be to
finish the job of balancing the budget; we have to do it this year.
Recent statements by the leaders of the Republican Party in both the
Senate and the House have given new impetus to this hope, and today we
began to build on that momentum.

When I met with the Republican chairs and the ranking Democratic
members of the Senate and House Budget Committees, along with our
budget team, including Erskine Bowles, Secretary Rubin, Director
Raines, NEC Chair Sperling, Legislative Director Hilley, and the
Council of Economic Advisors Chair Janet Yellin. Of course, along with
the Vice President.

We agreed that, during the recess, they will begin an effort to reduce
the differences among us in topics including Medicare and Medicaid,
other entitlements; national defense, domestic spending, revenues and
other issues relevant to the budget. So that when I meet with the
bipartisan leadership after Congress' Easter recess, we will be ready
to make rapid progress until we reach a balanced budget agreement.

We agree on the goal; we have agreed on a schedule to start
discussion; now comes the hard work of writing the agreement -- dollar
by dollar, program by program, issue by issue. We have circled these
issues long enough. It's time now to give the American people a
balanced budget, and I believe we will do it, and do it this year.

Tonight, I'm leaving for Helsinki, for my 11th meeting with the
Russian President Boris Yeltsin, Russia's President. Not long ago, it
was historic whenever the President of the United States and the
leader of Russia met. Today, our meetings have become almost routine
as we work through problems and build cooperation. The increasing
normalcy of our ties make it easy to lose sight of the great
opportunity that lies before us now. We will focus on three important
areas: first, on moving forward with our work to build a Europe that
is undivided, democratic and at peace for the first time in the
history of the continent; second, on continuing to reduce the danger
of weapons of mass destruction; and third, on expanding the economic
partnership that is good for Americans and Russians alike.

In Europe, we can complete the work that was only half-finished a
half-century ago by bringing stability and prosperity to all the
people on that continent. That work begins with NATO, the anchor of
Europe's security. We are adapting NATO to take on new missions;
enlarging NATO to take in new members, strengthening NATO's
partnership with nonmembers; and seeking to build a robust partnership
between NATO and Russia, a relationship that makes Russia a true
partner of the Alliance.

In Helsinki, we'll discuss the outlines of a NATO-Russia Charter that
NATO Secretary General Solana and Foreign Minister Primakov are
negotiating. I believe NATO and Russia should consult regularly and
should act jointly whenever possible -- just as we are doing today in

Our two nations have a responsibility also to continue to lead the
world away from the nuclear threat. We have already made remarkable
progress -- from signing the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty to
extending the Nonproliferation Treaty, to bringing START I into force.
Now, we hope to see the Russian Duma ratify START II. Together with
START I, it will cut arsenals by two-thirds from their Cold War
height. Just think about it: we will, with START I and START II cut
our arsenals by two-thirds from their Cold War height. But we also
want to do more. President Yeltsin and I will discuss possible
guidelines for further reductions under START III.

Finally, we will focus on Russia's efforts to build a stable and
prosperous market economy. The Russian people have made remarkable
strides in a short time. They have created a private sector where once
there was none. They've slashed inflation and stabilized the ruble.

Now, the challenge is to create a climate that actually attracts more
investment and promotes more trade, so that Russia will have real
economic growth and that that real growth will reach ordinary
citizens. President Yeltsin and I will discuss the steps both of us
will take to create that climate.

I'm encouraged by the new economic team President Yeltsin announced
this week. It underscores Russia's commitment to continued reform.
This is a time of extraordinary opportunity for America and for
Russia; indeed, for the entire world. I look forward to my meetings
with President Yeltsin and to our common efforts to build a broad
foundation for progress, prosperity, partnership and peace in the 21st
century. I look forward to balancing the budget, and I look forward to
George Tenet becoming the next Director of Central intelligence. This
is a good day.

Q: Mr. President, your decision to move so quickly with this
announcement -- is that a sign that you are concerned about the morale
within the intelligence community?

CLINTON: No, but it is a sign that I believe that we should not leave
these positions vacant long -- particularly in the national security
area, but throughout the government. You know, the Vice President and
I have worked very hard to reform and to reduce the size of
government, and the federal employees have taken on increasing
responsibilities. But we believe where there is a mission, it ought to
be done and done well, and we ought to keep the morale high and keep
the direction clear.

You can't have a ship without a captain, and we need to get after it.
And I think George Tenet is clearly the best qualified person to move
quickly into the leadership. He has been the acting director, he did
an outstanding job as John Deutch's deputy, he did a terrific job here
for us in the National Security Council on intelligence matters, and
he has the confidence of many, many in the Congress in both parties.
So I didn't see any point in waiting around. We need to get this done
and go on.

Q: Mr. President, if you want an undivided Europe, why are you leaving
Russia out? Why don't you take her into NATO and make it all one big,
happy family?

CLINTON: First of all, I have never left Russia out. I have explicitly
said in every speech that I have made about this subject that I do not
believe Russia should be excluded from NATO membership. I'm not sure
that Russia would not prefer a special charter between Russia and
NATO; that's what we're trying to achieve now. But would be the last
person to try to exclude them; I don't believe anybody should be

Q:  Do you think she would join?

CLINTON: I don't know. As I said, it's my belief that at this moment
in time, Russia would prefer to have a charter setting out a
relationship between NATO and Russia. But I would never exclude them
from membership.

Look, I am trying to build a world for our children and grandchildren
that will not repeat the worst of the 20th century, and will take
advantage of the best that the future offers.

Q: That's my point -- that the two world wars were started by nations
being isolated -- Versailles, Yalta and so forth.

CLINTON: That's why we're trying to get -- right now, it's so hard to
have a special charter between Russia and NATO, that's why we have
made it clear that NATO is not an aggressive organization trying to
limit, restrict or undermine anyone who wants to treat their neighbors
with respect and work in concert the way Russia and NATO and the
United States particularly are working together in Bosnia.

I'll see you in Helsinki.

VICE PRESIDENT GORE: Mr. President, Helen played Madeleine at the
Gridiron, and I think she's still in the role.

CLINTON: Just come get on the plane. Believe me. I missed you and I
missed him and I'm really sorry I missed you both.

Q:  He was fabulous.

CLINTON:  I ought to --

Q:  And you did pretty good.

(end transcript)