PRESIDENT CLINTON: He now knows in great detail what the Israeli proposals were and I believe since they have made an effort to be specific and comprehensive, if we're going to make progress, they should now be able to know what his specific and comprehensive response is on all the issues. If there is a genuine desire for peace here on both sides-- and i believe there is-- and if both sides face certain significant political constraints within their countries-- and I believe they do-- then they both need to come up with some ideas and start talking. I mean, the one thing that there should be no doubt about is that there is a real effort being made here to resolve this and i think it's clear to that Prime Minister Barak would like to resolve it.
REPORTER: Mr. President, are you prepared to deploy American advisors, monitors or troops on the Golan Heights to secure an Israeli-Syrian peace accord? Did you discuss that at all with President Assad and if so, what was his response? And if so, what was his response?
PRESIDENT CLINTON: We did not discuss it. So far all the options being discussed by Syria and Israel do not entail that. The only time I ever even discussed it as a theoretical possibility was many years ago with the late Prime Minister Rabin, and it was clear to me even then that both sides were looking for a way to resolve this that would not require an international force, including American troops. And I think they're still trying to get that done. Yes?
REPORTER: A possible confrontation is looming between the relatives of Elian Gonzalez and federal authorities. As a last resort, would you permit federal authorities or some kind of federal agents to go in there to forcibly take the boy so that he could be sent back to Cuba?
PRESIDENT CLINTON: Well, I think that we're... surely we're some distance from that because they have to... they will doubtless... if they do not prevail in court, they will clearly appeal. And I would just hope that the law would be followed by everyone, including them. I think that there is a legal process here. I have done my best to avoid politicizing it, and I think that the appropriate authorities, in this case the judges, will make a decision. And when that is done, I think that the... the people on all sides should accept the rule of the court.
REPORTER: Mr. President, the mayor of Miami said he would withhold any assistance from the city including police if federal authorities decide to return Elian Gonzalez to Cuba and if there were any violence in the streets he would hold you and Attorney General Reno personally responsible for that. That seems to sound like an invitation for the community to block federal authorities and an assurance to them that the Miami police will stand aside.
PRESIDENT CLINTON: Well, I like the mayor very much, but I still believe in the rule of law here. We all have to. Whatever the law is, whatever the decision is that's ultimately made, the rest of us ought to obey it.
Yes, go ahead.
REPORTER: A question, please, about Kosovo. A short while ago a senior Pentagon official was quoted as saying "we're at ground zero in terms of building a better and more secure society over there." And there are have been some instances that suggest U.S. troops are coming into more danger. How does it appear that this situation will be in the future -- more dangerous, less dangerous, what are the stakes for us now?
PRESIDENT CLINTON: Well, first, I think that there clearly are still deep-seated aversions in the Serbian and Kosovo Albanian community for each other, a lot of fear, a lot of mistrust, a lot of hatred. There is continuing activity of which we do not approve by some radical elements in the Kosovar Albanian community. There is some evidence that the Serbs may be trying to work a little mischief in the northern part of Kosovo.
But the main problem is those people were oppressed for a decade and then they were all run out of their country and there's still a lot of bad blood and it's not going to go away in a year or two. But I think that the international community did a very good job of sending the soldiers in, but we have to do more. And I've been on the phone quite a lot about this, by the way, in the last, oh, month or so trying to make sure that all of us get our money there on time and that we get more police there. We've offered more police and many of the European countries have as well. We need more civilian police there.
And then we need to make sure that the money flowing to the Mr. Kouchner, the U.N. Mission flows in a timely fashion so that people can be paid and the civil institutions can get up and going. But, you know, this takes time. But I would say this, I would urge the Congress to pass both the military and the non- military components of the Kosovo supplemental request because if we want the Europeans to do their part, and I must say, in the last month or so they've really geared up the speed with which they're moving their investments into Kosovo, then we're going to have to do our part.
But, you know, we have to find ways to get people, first of all, to accept living normal lives, to provide basic protections and then to get used to in halting steps living and working together. And this is not going to... It is not easy, but it can be done.
JIM LEHRER: The President also appealed to Congress to authorize permanent normal trade relations with China this year. He said without it, "the United States will lose economic opportunities we'll regret for 20 years."