The President’s News Conference With President Nelson Mandela of South Africa

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William J. Clinton

President Clinton. Ladies and gentlemen, for the last 2 days, President Mandela and I, joined by the American people, have celebrated freedom and democracy in South Africa. We also have begun to assume our historic opportunity to join with the people of South Africa to ensure that their new democracy grows stronger.

Since before President Mandela’s election, the United States has played an aggressive role in helping South Africa to shape its democratic future. We supported that historic balloting with $35 million in aid. Following the elections we reaffirmed our commitment with a $600 million trade and investment package. In the 5 months since then, we have already delivered $220 million of that package. Americans have always invested, and will invest more, in private capital in South Africa to help that country’s economy grow.

We have moved forward on a range of issues, and let me just mention a few of the new initiatives within our aid program. First, we will form a joint binational commission to promote cooperation between our nations. Vice President Gore will lead this commission, along with Deputy President Mbeki. This is important to America. Russia is the only other country with which we have such a commission. The commission will give a high-level boost to projects involving energy, education, and development.

Second, to help heal the legacies of apartheid, American loans will be used to guarantee nearly a half-billion dollars of new housing in South Africa. We will also contribute $50 million to help bring electricity to the townships and $30 million to support basic health care.

We are taking several actions to help advance President Mandela’s goal of expanding trade and investment. The Overseas Private Investment Corporation is launching its second $75 million fund to promote investment in South Africa. Commerce Secretary Ron Brown has created, with his South African counterpart, the U.S.-South Africa Business Development Committee. It will seek to expand the $4 billion trade which already exists between our countries. We will also promote private-sector participation in a conference the South Africans are hosting in early 1995 to support the nation’s pragmatic program for reconstruction and development.

Mr. President, yesterday you asked for our geniuses to help to build your land. Today I can tell you we’re going to send you some of our best. The Peace Corps will establish a presence in South Africa next year, and we are prepared to help you to develop, through Peace Corps volunteers, small enterprises to train nurses and teachers, to create South Africa’s own volunteer corps.

President Mandela and I also discussed other issues, ranging from educational exchange programs promoted by the USIA, to rural development and school lunch programs developed with the leadership of Secretary Espy, to cooperation in the battle against drug trafficking under the leadership of our Drug Policy Director, Lee Brown, who’s just returned from South Africa, to building roads and highways, to energy projects which Secretary O’Leary is working on.

President Mandela and I discussed, finally, the broader problems of southern Africa. I salute President Mandela not only for the remarkable work he has done within his own country; his leadership has also been instrumental in resolving crises in Mozambique and Lesotho. He’s played a vital role in trying to solve the conflict in Angola, as well.

To help the entire region, we’re establishing a $100 million development fund for all of southern Africa. I’m happy to welcome today to the White House Ambassadors from 10 of those countries. And I’m also pleased to announce that Ambassador Andrew Young, who has long worked to improve conditions in the region, has agreed to chair this fund.

The new South Africa, with Nelson Mandela’s wise leadership, has won the fight for freedom. Now it stands at the crossroads of hope. The problems it has inherited, the old and deep wounds of apartheid, are not small ones. But President Mandela, you can be certain that the United States will continue to do everything in our power to support the new nation you and your South African people have created and now seek so strongly to build. After a half century of struggle, you’ve proved to people on every continent that justice and reconciliation can prevail. In a world where too many tear down, you and the South African people have proved that there are those who build up and create. You have shown us the way, and we look forward, sir, to walking down the road with you.

President Mandela. It would be remiss of me to use this opportunity to express my gratitude and that of my delegation for the hospitality that has been extended to us during our visit to the United States. I think I missed out the word “not.” I should have said, it would be remiss of me not to use this opportunity— [laughter]—to express my gratitude and that of my delegation for the hospitality that has been extended to us during our visit to the United States.

I hope journalists will report the second version of my statement. [Laughter]

A special note of thanks should go to my good friend Bill Clinton. The level of engagement by the United States in South Africa is largely attributable to the personal interest that Bill Clinton and his administration have in ensuring that Africa does not become a forgotten continent. The recently organized White House Conference on Africa is evidence of this. We are particularly appreciative of the sensitivity and willingness to assist that has been shown by the Clinton administration. Powerful leaders with a common touch are in great demand in the world today. President Clinton is one of these.

It goes without saying that a great deal has happened in the world, and particularly in South Africa, in the 15 months since I last had the occasion of addressing remarks to the media after meeting President Clinton here at the White House. During that earlier meeting, President Clinton and I agreed on the importance of underpinning the political changes that occurred in South Africa with economic reconstruction. The government of national unity has to demonstrate to our communities disadvantaged by apartheid that democracy has tangible economic as well a political benefits. We can only accomplish this by improving the material well-being of our disadvantaged communities through economic growth and the promotion of increased trade and investment.

You will no doubt have noticed that this has been a recurring theme during my visit here. In this regard, I am highly appreciative of efforts by President Clinton to encourage American trade with and investment in South Africa and for the support that has been pledged for our reconstruction and redevelopment program. Success will not only underpin the consolidation of democracy in South Africa but will also enable South Africa to play its role as the powerhouse of the South African region in a mutually beneficial partnership with our South African Development Community neighbors.

South Africa, and no doubt our neighbors too, welcome continued U.S. engagement in the region. The announcement that the United States Government-sponsored South Africa Enterprise Development Fund will promote small to medium sized business enterprises throughout the region is tangible evidence of this. I believe that the whole South African region, and Africa, in general, can also benefit from these efforts.

South Africa’s transition to democracy has created an historic opportunity for South Africa to play its rightful role for the first time on the world stage. Resuming our place in the international arena has been a challenging experience, none more so than rejoining world and regional bodies promoting world peace, democracy, and human rights and participating in humanitarian relief operations in Africa, the most recent being Rwanda. The United States and, indeed, all countries that participated in making the efforts in Rwanda a success are to be commended. This helped to avert a human tragedy.

We attach significance to the crucial role that the United States can play in the promotion of democracy and human rights worldwide. South Africa will undoubtedly be called upon to participate in United Nations peacekeeping missions. We will not be found wanting, within the constraints imposed by budgetary and other considerations. In addition to humanitarian aid, another area which warrants further consideration by the South African Government is the provision of such nonmilitary assistance as is monetary.

There is already a great deal of commonality in the goals and interests of South Africa and the United States, ranging from the promotion of human rights and the strengthening of democracy, to the nonproliferation of weapons of mass destruction. Coupled with active U.S. engagement in South Africa, this partnership can only grow from strength to strength.

There are many areas in which practical relations are unfolding, such as joint and structured efforts to mobilize funds for investments in and trade with South Africa, cooperation in dealing with environmental issues, increased aid to South Africa in the context of our reconstruction and development program, and lastly, assistance by the United States in restructuring the judicial system in South Africa as part of broader efforts to strengthen democracy and deepen the culture of human rights.

I thank you.

President Clinton. Let me say, if I might, before the question, we would like to alternate between American and South African journalists. And so President Mandela will call on the next journalist. So those of you from South Africa, or representing South Africa media outlets, we will hear from you next. And then we’ll alternate back and forth.

Haiti

Q. I believe you both share an interest in Haiti, and I’d like to ask you about that. Increasingly, American officials say that they expect General Cedras and his chief of staff to leave Haiti by October 15th. General Cedras says that he’s not going to leave. Why are American officials so confident that they will leave? And will American troops make life unpleasant for them if they stay?

President Clinton. Well, let me say, first of all, I have left that question to the Haitians to resolve, as you know. The important thing for the American people is that the situation with great difficulty has remained calm overall, that Parliament has reopened and is considering amnesty and other things, that the mayor of Port-au-Prince, Evans Paul, has come back to his responsibilities after years of hiding, that we’ve turned the lights back on in Cap Haitien and there’s more electricity available in Portau-Prince, that almost 1,500 refugees have left Guantanamo and gone back to Haiti. President Aristide now has a transition office—I remember those—in Port-au-Prince. And General Shelton and our military people there, I think, have done a superb job under difficult circumstances. They are working through that. The political questions in large measure involve what the Haitians decide themselves. I was very, very impressed with President Aristide’s most recent speech, and I’m very committed to continuing on the course we’re on.

That’s all I know to say. I feel very good about where we’re going. I think we’ll wind up in a good place if we just stay steady and realize that our young men and women down there are doing a terrific job under difficult circumstances. Their work is certainly not free of danger, but you have to give them credit, I think, so far for the work they have done.

Mr. President—President Mandela, would you like to call on one of the South African journalists?

President Mandela. Yes.

South Africa-U.S. Trade

Q. President Mandela, did you ask President Clinton if he would lift U.S. restrictions on trade with South Africa, in particular the denial order on the Rooivalk helicopter deal?

President Mandela. Well, we have discussed this matter both with Mr. Clinton alone and also with his delegation. The President has shown a great deal of sensitivity towards this question, and he has undertaken to do what he can to resolve this problem. I have confidence that if he has a chance to assist in this regard, he will do so.

President Clinton. Jill [Jill Dougherty, Cable News Network].

Haiti

Q. Mr. President, President Aristide reportedly is resisting signing an agreement that would define the status of U.S. troops and what their mission is in Haiti. Is that the case, and does this create a danger that the mission could be ill-defined or spread farther than it should?

President Clinton. Well, no agreement has yet been signed. But I wouldn’t let that concern you too much. We think the mission is clearly defined in terms of scope and time. We always knew there would have to be some flexibility in the early weeks until we got the police monitors in and until we began to retrain people to assume police and military roles, and that the nature of the mission would depend upon three things: to what extent the police were willing to stay at their posts and observe the rules of professional encounter; second, to what extent things beyond our control would occur; and third, how quickly we could get the training programs up and going.

So there has been—there has had to be some flexibility there. But essentially, we are on the same mission that we went there with. We’re going to stay with that mission, and we’re going to complete it, turn it over to the U.N., and bring our people home. And whether and exactly how we work out an understanding with President Aristide, particularly after he reassumes authority, I think will be something that will not present insurmountable obstacles. And I feel comfortable that the American people will be comfortable with the definition of the mission just as it is, and I’m not particularly worried about that.

Mr. President.

President Mandela. Can I make an appeal that in view of the interest in this question, could we deal with it if any South African journalist would like to put the question, so that we can put it at rest for the purpose of this press conference.

Yes.

Q. President Mandela, President Clinton apparently asked you in the past to perhaps send South African troops to help in the police efforts in Haiti. Have you made a decision to send South African troops to Haiti? Will they be part of the peacekeeping mission?

President Mandela. Our attitude on this question is that the operation, which is essentially a United Nations operation although it has been carried out at this stage by American troops, that operation is intended to restore democracy in that country, a worthy objective which we fully support.

Secondly, without in any way prescribing to the leadership of Haiti, we sincerely hope that they will realize the crucial importance of national reconciliation and to heal the wounds of the past by involving all the parties which may have been at cross purposes with one another.

Now, as far as our own participation is concerned, we regard this, as I say, as an operation of the United Nations of which we are a part. But we are busy discussing the matter. And we are keen to act and not unilaterally as South Africa; we are keen to act collectively as a region, especially because we have a tradition which we have to change of our country having been involved in the military destabilization of our neighboring states and economic sabotage. If we’re involved in an operation anywhere in the world, we would like this to be a collective decision from our region. And therefore, we are now busy with consultations on this question——

President Clinton. Rita [Rita Braver, CBS News].

President Mandela. ——and will come back to the President in due course.

President Clinton. Thank you, sir.

GATT

Q. President Clinton, while you have been meeting with President Mandela, it looks like there’s been another hangup in GATT. It seems to be once again slowed down. Do you still have the confidence that you had last week when we talked to you that this will go through? And why do you think you’re having so much trouble with it?

President Clinton. The people that are holding it up now are people who have always supported the GATT. Let me just say that, first of all, I won’t know until sometime tonight—I think they’re going to have a vote or at least consider having a vote on the rule in the House on the GATT. I’ve never come to the end of a full congressional session before, so for all I know this often happens.

But there’s still time for Congress to act on this, for the House to act on GATT, for the Senate to act on lobby reform, on the elementary and secondary education act, on the Superfund legislation, which has the support of everybody from the chemical companies to the Sierra Club. There is no one against it anymore. It’s an important piece of legislation. I can’t imagine why it shouldn’t pass. So I’m hopeful that it will.

The GATT, it has always been a bipartisan issue. It’s a huge job-gainer for America, just like NAFTA was, except more so over the long run. And it’s the biggest world tax cut in history. It’s over a $700 billion tax cut. So I think, as we get closer to it, I would expect the people who have always supported it to support it and there to be a majority support for it. We’ll continue to push it.

Haiti and South Africa

Q. President Mandela, a question for you and then a question to President Clinton. First of all, we understand that you might be meeting President Aristide or deposed President Aristide tomorrow. If that is happening, how will that change South Africa’s stand towards what you have just described as consultation at the moment about Haiti?

And secondly, President Clinton, when are you coming to South Africa?

President Mandela. Well, the consultations that we are having are not going to be directly affected by my meeting with President Aristide. I do not know, of course, what he is going to raise with me, but I know what I am going to say to him. [Laughter] And so it is premature for me to answer your question fully. We will be going back to South Africa—if I don’t meet you after this meeting, I’ll brief you fully as to what the President will say to me. [Laughter]

President Clinton. Let me say, first of all— I’ll answer the other question, but first of all, I am personally very grateful to President Mandela for making time in what has been an unbelievably busy schedule to see President Aristide. The most important thing South Africa can do for Haiti has been accomplished by President Mandela coming to the United States at this historic moment and then, on top of that, agreeing to meet with President Aristide. Why? Because here is President Mandela and here is President Mandela’s delegation. And the Haitian people will see that you can bring a country where there have been deep, even bloody divisions together and work together in a spirit of freedom, reconciliation, democracy, and mutual respect. It must be very encouraging to President Aristide; it also should be very encouraging to those who have opposed him.

So this is—I assure you that this was not planned or calibrated in terms of the action the United States took there. But as it happens, this is a very good thing for the cause of democracy in Haiti.

Secondly, the President, as you know, has invited me to South Africa very publicly and also privately. I would like very much to go. I hope I can go there. I have made no final commitments on travel outside the United States for next year, so I can’t announce a commitment now, but I would like to do it very much. We’re proud of our association with your country, and we hope we can do more.

Thank you very much.

President Mandela. Can I just add that I have met President Aristide twice, and I have discovered that he has a very serious weakness, which I intend to exploit to the full: He is a man who can think. He is flexible. He is broadminded. And I have no doubt that if I put a reasonable argument with him, I am unlikely to come out with empty hands. That I can say to you.

President Clinton. Thank you very much. Thank you.