News

October 20, 1999

PRESS BRIEFING BY JOE LOCKHART The Briefing Room






                              THE WHITE HOUSE
                       Office of the Press Secretary
______________________________________________________________
For Immediate Release
October 20, 1999

                             PRESS BRIEFING BY
                               JOE LOCKHART
                             The Briefing Room

1:30 P.M. EDT

        

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       Q    Joe, what do you do about the ABM treaty now that the
Russians have said that there is no room for compromise and they don't want
help building the radar system?
          MR. LOCKHART:  Well, we have been working openly with the
Russians.  The President spoke to the Prime Minister when we were in
Cologne about any potential modifications that may need to be made in the
ABM in the context of the development of a limited national missile defense
to deal with rogue state -- the nuclear threat, or ballistic missile
threat, from rogue states.
We're going to continue working with them.  I think we've had some good
conversations, but we're in the beginning of this process, and we're going
to keep the lines of communication open.
          Q    If they don't want the radar as an incentive to reopen the
treaty, what do they want?
          MR. LOCKHART:  Listen, again, I wouldn't focus too much on any
particular program or any particular project that they may be involved in.
We have made clear, I think, since the beginning   of talking about
national missile defense -- in the Reagan administration there was a sense
that this was an effort that should be cooperative to allow -- particularly
when you're dealing with the threat from rogue states.  And we will
continue to work in a cooperative way with the Russians as we move forward.
          Q    Joe, if the Russians dig in their heels, would the
administration consider going forward with the limited missile defense
system?
          MR. LOCKHART:  That's a hypothetical.  There are a lot of things
that are going to happen between now and that decision, and we're going to
work closely with the Russians to make sure that they understand our
concerns and we understand theirs.
          Q    Well, have you heard their rejection?  I mean, have they
formally rejected it?
          MR. LOCKHART:  I'm not aware of a formal rejection, no.
        

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