News

October 21, 1999

PRESS BRIEFING BY JOE LOCKHART



                              THE WHITE HOUSE

                       Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release                              October 21, 1999


                              PRESS BRIEFING
                                    BY
                               JOE LOCKHART


12:44 P.M. EDT

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     Q    Joe, any reaction to China, Russia and Belarus announcing this
U.N. resolution calling for the strengthening of the ABM and the
preservation of the ABM at a time when Washington seeks to have it amended?

     MR. LOCKHART:  Well, we believe that the ABM treaty is the cornerstone
of our strategic strategy.  It is a very important treaty.  We also believe
that, due to the development and increasing threat of rogue states with
ballistic missiles, that we need to move forward or to look at the
feasibility of a national missile defense.  We have done a lot of work on
that.  We will make a decision next year on deployment.  And that is why,
given the importance of those two things, we have to work closely with the
Russians on looking at ways where we can deepen our cooperation and
amending, where necessary, the treaty.

     Q    What do you make of the foreign minister's reaction yesterday,
the Russian Foreign Minister saying no pretty forcefully?

     MR. LOCKHART:  Well, I think -- we're in ongoing discussions.  Much of
what I saw, as far as their comments, was a result of a story that was in
the newspaper here, or in various newspapers here.  We are talking to them
on a broad range of issues.  We had good meetings in Cologne on this issue,
also follow-up meetings in Auckland with the Russian Prime Minister.

     So we think, given the importance of the ABM treaty to us, to our
national security but given, also, the situation as far as rogue states and
the threat that they pose to the United States, we need to look at the
national missile defense and work closely with the Russians in finding a
way to do this in a way that preserves the ABM Treaty in a way that allows
us to keep our overall strategy in place.

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                                                  END
1:22 P.M. EDT