(Helsinki, Finland)
March 21, 1997
Helsinki, Finland


Q: -- I gather your assessment of Yeltsin -- others have told us that he was much more engaged on the details of issues. Obviously, he had prepared carefully, was less flamboyant. Do you agree with that and how he -

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: I had seen him a couple of weeks ago when Secretary Albright was there, and I went with her. He very rarely today referred to notes, for example. And we did some -- a lot of very technical stuff -- ABM-TMD (Anti-Ballistic Missile -- Theatre Missile Defense) demarcation, START II, what weapons systems are and aren't going to be covered in START II, START III, as well as the European security stuff. So he is very much on top of .....................

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: This was serious stuff. Guys, this is really hard -- this is really hard for them. And so we fully expected -- and we were not playing expectations games with you coming into this.

Q: -- didn't lower them on purpose -


Q: "We'll see what happens."

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: I, for one, didn't know until about noon on the European security thing. I absolutely did not. It was clear that -- obviously, a lot of work went into the joint statement. It goes back several weeks, a number of trips, Secretary Albright's trip, Primakov's trip over the weekend. But we didn't know we had it until the middle of the day. And on the START ABM-TMD stuff, we didn't know that we were together, that we had a joint statement until quarter of 4:00 p.m.

Q: You didn't know you had all six until the end, all six projects?


Q: We were told five out of six -- and it turns out all six were. Berger says all six. Six ABM projects.


Q: TMD projects -- expecting five out of six would meet Russian approval -

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: I see, okay. Good, fine. I'm not going to contradict them. There are different ways to talk about that issue. But the point is we did not know that we had a joint position on ABM-TMD until quarter of 4:00 p.m., because something was happening at 4:00 p.m. -- oh, I know. We were beginning an afternoon session, and the experts, with at least two interventions by the presidents, worked before and right after the lunch.

So all I'm saying there was a lot of tough -- and you know, of course, that the Duma, which was represented there today -- you all saw our old friend -- former Ambassador to -- okay. The Duma has established a linkage both between START ratification and ABM-TMD, and between START ratification and NATO-Russia.

Q: Which Yeltsin said makes it possible to make this promise.

Q: Do you think he's right when he said that as directly as he did -- that on my advice, on my recommendation, the Duma will pass -

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: I'm not going to second-guess his estimate.

Q: What's your feeling? Do you think he can get it through?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: I have no reason to question his assurances.

Q: What did the Russians get that would please them on the ABM-TMD? It seems like we got everything we wanted.

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: I know why you put the question that way. We are really trying, including in the way we would deal with them, to get away from the sort of zero sum -- either they give, we get -

Q: -- arms control any other way?

Q: We can't understand what he had to intervene about this, it was going your way. You just referred to Clinton intervening twice.

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: The presidents. Plural. The presidents got back involved in this at least twice after they did it fairly intensively this morning.

Q: I don't know what to do with the tactical question -

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: The answer to your question, by the way, is that they got a demarcation agreement. And if we hadn't been able to come to an agreement, there wouldn't be a demarcation agreement, and it's in the interests of both of us that there be one.

Q: The tactical weapons -- that got thrown in that tactical weapons will be included in the START III negotiations. Could you give us some sense of the dimensions of this, what this means, is it a big deal? I didn't expect it and all of a sudden there it was.

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: This has to do, I think, with -

Q: And it's what Russia wants, isn't it?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: This is a classic SALT-START (Strategic Arms Limitation Talks -- Strategic Arms Reduction Talks) issue. It goes back to Vladivostok and before. And I think you'll have a fact sheet when you get back to the press center. This has to do with Cruise missiles, which because they are on platforms that can move close to Russia and are, as the Russians say, effectively strategic. Because you have their range plus the range of the airplane or the ship that can bring them in.

Q: But it's basically the Cruises.

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Yes. But take a close look at the fact sheet and see what it says on the subject.