TOPICS > Politics

Affairs of State: Secretary of State Madeleine Albright

January 24, 1997 at 12:00 AM EDT


MADELEINE ALBRIGHT, Secretary of State: I think it is very important as we look at our agenda over the next years to understand that our relationship with Russia, a good relationship with the Russian Federation, is paramount to our interests. We believe that it is essential to enlarge NATO. We understand that the Russians have some problems with that, but what is clear is that both countries are committed to working the situation out and develop mutual understanding based on our national interests. We understand the importance that Russia will play. And, as I said, the good relations between our two countries are very important to both of us and to the international community. On President Yeltsin’s health, obviously, he is going through his recovery period. We wish him well. Deputy Secretary Talbott has just come back, or is on his way back, and, clearly, it is possible for us to do business with the Russian government.

CAROL GIACOMO, Reuters: Madam Secretary, you have stated the importance of China on the U.S. agenda and the fact that the United States wants to integrate, not isolate, China. The trends in Hong Kong, though, seem to be increasingly honest. How do you intend to structure a relationship with China, given the fact that Hong Kong seems inevitably to be an irritant, if not a wars problem?

SEC. MADELEINE ALBRIGHT: Carol, you stated it correctly, is that I have indicated the importance of our relationship with China, as–and the President has made that very clear. We are not going to agree on everything that involves our relationship with China. And I stated during my confirmation hearings that I would tell it like it is to the American people and to whatever foreign leaders I deal with. And I will tell it like it is on the human rights issues and Hong Kong to the Chinese when I meet with them. I think it’s important on the overall relationship with China, is to understand that it is a multi-faceted relationship. It cannot be held hostage to any one issue. We have a set of issues that we deal with, with the Chinese, and we have some very positive relationships with them, and cooperation on, for instance, on the issue of North Korea or Cambodia, or CTBTNPT. But there are some on which we differ and human rights is one of them. And so we have made clear that how–what happens in Hong Kong is very important to the overall relationship.

THOMAS W. LIPPMAN, Washington Post: Assistant Secretary Kornblum and his predecessor in that job, Dick Holbrooke, both said that they regarded Europe as the most volatile and unpredictable part of the world these days. I want to know if you share that assessment, and, if so, what besides the enlargement of NATO is on the agenda for dealing with it.

SEC. MADELEINE ALBRIGHT: Let me say I don’t want to get into a rating of what is more or less volatile. Clearly, our relations with Europe are very important. We, as you mentioned, NATO enlargement is a key issue for us this year, but we also have other issues that we’re going to be dealing with. What I have tried to do is to step back a little bit and see what our ultimate goals are here. And let me just try the following formulation with you. I have thought very much that obviously the major goal of American foreign policy is to make sure that American–the American people are safe, secure, and prosperous, and are able to operate within a safe, secure, and prosperous world, which means that the more democracies and market economies that exist, the better it is for Americans and, therefore, we believe also it is better for other countries when they are able to enjoy the advantages of a functioning international system. I have tried in my own mind to organize some way of thinking about countries at this current stage. I think there really are four groups of countries.

The first group is the largest group, and that is what I would call those who see the advantages of a functioning international system, who understand the rules, who know that a rule of law system works, that diplomatic relations can go forward. This is the largest group. The second group are the newer evolving democracies who would very much like to be a part of an international system and obey the rules but may not have all the resources yet to fully participate in it. The third group are what we have called the rogue states. And they not only do not see an advantage to a functioning international system, but they feel that they are more important when they can disrupt the international system. And then the fourth group are basically the failed states. Now, a long-term goal for the United States and for other countries in order to make sure that our citizens prosper is to try to get everybody into the first group, which means to see that the new democracies have some ability to participate properly to look at the rogues case by case, but basically have them understand because they are being isolated that they get no, that they need to change their behavior in order to be able to benefit from the international system, and the fourth, to all together work somehow to make the failed states not wards of the system. And I think this is–these are our long-term goals, which is why I think rating which area is more or less important is not right now the way to go about it.

ELIZABETH FARNSWORTH: Secretary Albright also said her round-the-world trip in February will enable her to meet or renew acquaintances with the leaders of America’s key allies.