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  • McCurry to resign

  •   'I'm Interested in Changing Careers'

    Thursday, July 23, 1998

    Text of White House Press Secretary Mike McCurry's July 23 briefing, transcribed by the White House:

    Q: What are you going to do?

    McCURRY: I am going to have a good time with my family, make sure they get out there – although, I think for selfish reasons, you know how people always say how they're leaving to spend more time with their families, and I will, but I think my family has held up pretty well and probably would have been just as happy to have me stay here if I had wanted to. They were very supportive, and Debra and the kids have always enjoyed coming down here. But I think for my own selfish reasons I want to spend more time with them.

    But I'll have plenty of time to tell you about what my future plans are. I don't want to turn this into a commercial advertisement for my future pursuits, but I plan to –

    Q: Do you have a job?

    McCURRY: I've got – (laughter)-- I've got some very good career ideas, and I'm interested in changing careers. I've been a press secretary for 22 years in Washington now, and I've got some ideas of things that I'm going to do in the consulting world beyond and I think will be interesting. And I look forward to accepting some invitations to speak. And I eventually will probably like to teach a little bit about some of the things that I think I've learned.

    Q: So today's ceremony is a kind of coming-out announcement? Is that what we have? (Laughter.)

    McCURRY: No, today is just so we preempt any leaks that would otherwise appear. And since everyone had been getting close enough to the money, and I didn't want to hem and haw any longer, and because the President this week did offer the job to Joe and Joe decided to accept, I thought it was good for us to get the news out.

    Q: Mike, when does the actual transition take place?

    McCURRY: The President and Erskine would both like me to stick around until the end of the congressional session, and that's my plan.

    Q: But are you going to keep on briefing?

    McCURRY: Sure.

    Q: In the interim?

    McCURRY: Yes, but I'll probably continue to be a little bit lazy and let Mr. Lockhart start doing more of the duties and he'll be –

    Q: He'll be going to Russia?

    McCURRY: We'll be doing a lot of the transition over the course of the summer. We actually – today is the last day for a while that we will both be in town together, because he's going away on vacation and then I'll be going on vacation in August.

    Q: Mike, since there is obviously going to be speculation that your departure may or may not have been related somehow to the six-month Monica Lewinsky investigation, could you tell us now what impact, if any, did that have on your decision to leave?

    McCURRY: What I'd like to do is just tell you a little bit about – and I can give a copy to you if you're interested – but I wrote the President a letter back at the end of May and I told him, first of all, thank you for giving me not one, but two of the best jobs in Washington. The opportunity to serve as State Department spokesman, for me, both intellectually and in a lot of different ways, was challenging – as challenging and fun, if not more challenging and fun than even working here.

    But I also told him that I had gotten to the point in my career where I had some new ideas about things that I wanted to do that I enjoyed doing what I did here, and that only for the sake of building a new career, taking care of a family and enjoying myself a little bit more would I part company with the friends that I've made here and the work that I've done here. And I told him that I will always be proud of the history that I believe that he's making here. I can assure you, it had nothing to do with anything else.

    Q: Mike, what advice did you share with Joe about this job that you can share with us?

    And a question for him, too. What kind of access agreement does he have with the President? It's always traditional that press secretaries, hopefully, are able to have instant access to the President.

    McCURRY: I think one thing that I am very pleased about is that in the whole time that I've been here, for three and a half years, I've not once had to make an issue with either the President or my colleagues the kind of access the press secretary needs to do the job well, and that's just been institutionalized. The President now, not only if I'm not around when he thinks he's going to need the presence of the press secretary to reliably and accurately report to you what he's doing, he will look for Joe or for Barry or other people on my staff. And so I have no doubt that the open-door access that I have had will be continued.

    As to the advice I've given, Joe and I have known each other for so long – and I always take credit for introducing Joe and Laura, although they probably have got different versions of that story, and there are a lot of people who can claim credit. But we have spent a lot of time together. I think he knows about as much about this job and about all of you that I do, if not more. There have been times, particularly during the campaign in 1996 when I certainly felt his skills far surpassed mine, so I don't know that he needs a lot of advice from me. But I will stick in the pocket of that vest that's in the closet some private words for him when I leave.

    Q: Mike, just to follow up on Wolf's question, to what extent did you put off asking the President or telling the President you wished to depart because of the investigation that was launched last January?

    McCURRY: You know, I never got to a point – and I think I've answered that question to all of you in one way or another off the record, so I think most of you know what my thinking was on that. But I had not reached the point where I was ready to leave, and other things happened. But there is always news in the air. And I took the time at the end of the school year, at the beginning of summer, to really think about what I wanted to do and that's when I broached the idea with the President. So the timing was really my own more than anybody else's.

    Q: By the end of the congressional term, you mean before the elections, right?

    McCURRY: Yes. We will have at that point, a press secretary who is more skilled at political barbs even than I am. Some people think I'm kind of good at that.

    Q: Are you going to write a book?

    McCURRY: I don't have any plans to, no.

    Q: Whatever you do, are you worried it will be a little bit of a come-down? Are you worried about getting bored?

    McCURRY: Sure. This is a marvelous place to work. It's a privilege and a pleasure, and I hope it is for all of you, to come walk up that driveway every day, and so nothing will ever replace that. But on the other hand, there are plenty of other interesting things to do.

    Q: What is your key to success and survival in the job you now hold?

    McCURRY: Just to keep your eye on what matters most. Remember that your first and foremost obligation is to the truth and the American people and to get everyone to get to that point sooner or later. And if you can keep the crowd entertained on the way, that's all the better.

    Q: When did you actually tell the President you were leaving? I mean, when did it come to an end?

    McCURRY: I wrote my letter May 29th.

    Q: I know, but I mean, all of a sudden now.

    McCURRY: You mean, why this week? Because he offered the job to Joe earlier in the week, and Joe accepted. And we decided to announce it today because Joe's going on vacation and going to be off for the next two weeks, right? And then I'll be gone, and we wanted to share the news before we all got back from vacation.

    Q: Did you talk about changing careers –

    McCURRY: Anne Compton is voiceless – I'm going to be a voice for the voiceless here.

    Q: She's overcome with emotion. (Laughter.)

    Q: Will he know all the diplomatic nuances you've been mumbling about?

    Q: When you talk about changing careers, would he continue to – (laughter) –

    McCURRY: I get to ask the question and answer it. Let the record show that this is being posed on behalf of CNN. There's a new cooperative arrangement between ABC and CNN. (Laughter.)

    Q: Since you're talking about changing jobs, are you thinking of going into journalism?

    McCURRY: No, I'm not. I have a lot of respect for what you do in your profession, but it's not the same as what we do in our profession. We have a different set of requirements, we have our own set of standards, we have our own way of doing business. And I believe if you make the commitment to go, I think you can do it, I think you can go from our world to your world, but I think you have to be prepared for a different career. And I don't have plans to become a journalist.

    Q: Because there were certain things that you made it a point not to know very deliberately, will Joe continue that policy of not finding out certain information?

    McCURRY: That's going to be up to him when he becomes press secretary. And I am it until October and when October comes, you can ask him that question.

    Q: Any universities – specifically, Harvard?

    McCURRY: Say again?

    Q: What are your prospects as far as teaching? Have you been in touch with any universities?

    McCURRY: I enjoy talking to students groups that are here at the White House from time to time and I've gone up to my alma matter and to other places to talk from time to time. And I enjoy doing that. And I get a good response from the students. But I don't have a clue what I would actually want to teach. I enjoy talking about my career and talking about the relationship between the press and elected leaders in this country, and I may find a good opportunity to do that. I've certainly got some good ideas on how to do that.

    Q: What fun you could have for a semester at the Kennedy school. Give her a story.

    McCURRY: Not one you could do. I leak it to you. If I end up going to Harvard, I'll leak it to the Boston Globe first. (Laughter.)

    Q: You said you were going to do some consulting. Do you see yourself working for a number of different companies and organizations, or do you think you're going to end up taking a post with one particular group?

    McCURRY: I haven't decided on that. I've had some conversations that I've duly reported to the Counsel's Office, but I also see some merit in doing some things on my own. I'm going to wait and see how things balance out. One thing I can tell you, it's very difficult to make serious future plans when you have to deal with the reality of the job here and stay focused on the needs you all have. And since that's going to be my focus until I leave, I'm probably not going to make any final job decisions anytime soon.

    Q: You've said you fall, you've said –

    McCURRY: Let's get on to other things.

    Q: – election. Do you have a departure date?

    McCURRY: My departure date really depends on how long Congress is here. I think the President and Erskine Bowles would like me to stay until the end of the congressional session, and I can't predict what that date is at this point, but that's the rough time frame.

    Q: Mike, you've had a lot to do with the Democratic Party throughout your career. Do you contemplate continuing the political?

    McCURRY: Oh, yes, I'm an active and lifelong Democrat and I'm not going to take any formal role, but I will certainly want to continue to be supportive of my party.

    Let's get on with the real news of the day.

    Q: Is the President going to answer – is he open for all questions?

    McCURRY: He's got a particular question about Iran from Wolf, and he would probably entertain that.

    Q: I believe I heard he said he'd take all our questions.

    Q: This afternoon he's going to take all the questions?

    McCURRY: He's going to have members of Congress with him. So I will revise and amend, as good Press Secretaries do, let me say, what the President meant to say was – (laughter) – in the short period of time his staff lets him take questions, he might take one or two questions from you coming up. Let me get on with business.

    The President is going to be making a trip down to North Carolina on Monday, the 27th, to announce the designation that we've been working to designate rivers under the American Heritage Rivers program. And the advisory committee has made some recommendations to the President on rivers that should be designated American Heritage rivers. Those have been made public, but on Monday at the White House, the Vice President will announce the rivers that have been designated by the President, and then on Thursday the 30th, the President and the Vice President will travel to the New River in North Carolina for an event marking the designations. Not to make you assume that the New River is going to be one of those that the President announces, but just in case it's there, that's where they will –

    Q: He's going to go on Thursday, not on Monday.

    McCURRY: Yes. Monday, the Vice President will make the announcement; Thursday, the President and the Vice President will make a day trip down. That event, by the way, will be in Todd, North Carolina, and then the President will travel to Raleigh.

    Q: He won't be here will he? He'll be in Albuquerque?

    McCURRY: The Vice President will announce the rivers.

    Q: Oh, yes.

    Q: What does he do in Raleigh?

    McCURRY: He's going to do an event down there at the state fairgrounds for some candidates, including John Edwards, who is running for Senate.

    Q: Mike, this big push today on the IMF funding as it relates to agricultural situations – is that an attempt to try to find another way around to pressure the Republican leadership?

    McCURRY: I hope it has the effect of pressuring the Republican leadership on the importance of the IMF. But I think one thing that we wanted to underscore today is how important this issue related to international economics is to the farmers of America. Thirty percent of the economic recovery of this country since 1993 is attributed to exports. And farm exports is a large percentage of that. And in farming communities, they have followed this debate about the International Monetary Fund quite closely. Why? Because all these Asian economies that are now in distress are our customers. That's why there was intense interest in the Farm Belt over the President's recent decision to provide the wheat sales for Pakistan, because seven percent of the wheat that we export goes to Pakistan. So the condition of these Asian economies and our efforts working through the IMF to address economic dislocations in those countries comes back home to affect the lives of farming America, and the President wants to underscore that point.

    Q: But, Mike, a lot of the conservative farm state Democrats have been some of the most skeptical of the administration's free trade policies and IMF and international institutions in the past. Have you been educating them on the importance of this, or how does that work?

    McCURRY: They've heard that from their own farmers, and they know the importance of those export programs. They see the impact of restrictions on trade and sometimes trade sanctions on the livelihood of their own farmers. So I don't know that we need to educate them about that because they hear that and they've shared those concerns when they have come here to meet with the President. But they – it's another added reason to underscore the urgency of this funding for the IMF.

    Q: The President announced the wheat purchase last weekend. Are there plans afoot to do more type purchases like? Beef is one thing –

    McCURRY: I don't want to speculate on those because those have the effect of moving commodities markets. I'm not suggesting that there are plans, but I don't want to comment on those because they are market sensitive, commercial sensitive information that we just don't address publicly until we announce such sales.

    Q: Mike, tomorrow in Japan, the LDP is going to elect a new President, which would probably become the next prime minister of Japan. What are the administration's expectations and priorities for the new prime minister, and how quickly do they need to be addressed?

    McCURRY: Well, I want to answer that carefully because the designation of a new prime minister candidate by the LDP, of course, then has to be ratified by the Diet. And we would look forward to formal action in Japan coming up the following week, when the Diet actually meets to confirm the choice of the LDP.

    But remember, it is not the place of the United States to dictate to any country, any sovereign nation, the terms of its own political leadership. The people of Japan and their leaders need to make those decisions, and they will. What we can say is that we look forward to working closely with the next prime minister, to work in the same hands-on fashion that we did with Prime Minister Hashimoto and his predecessors, and we will do the work together that needs to be done to restore health to the global economy and the economy of Asia.

    Japan is a very large part of that picture, and the government of Japan has made announcements and decisions with respect to economic modernization, reforms, and changes that they are going to undertake. And they are well-known. They deal with banking; they deal with de-regulation; they deal with market opening and greater access for international trading partners. And it is important for the government of Japan to pursue those changes.

    The United States, all we can offer – we cannot dictate terms and we cannot dictate to Japan the thrust of what their own sovereign economic policy should be. But we can certainly explain the experiences we've had, and we can talk about the kind of struggle and hardship we faced in our country when we dealt with our own Savings & Loan crisis. And while we will say to the Japanese, we understand how different and how unique your circumstances are, that great nations and great economies can withstand the kinds of economic pressures that you are now facing, and you can overcome them, and you can restore health and vigor to your economy.

    And that's what we will certainly say to the new prime minister. We will look forward to working closely with the next prime minister. And first and foremost on our minds will be ways in which we can continue the very close and very important and, and arguably, the most important relationship we have in the world.

    Q: – put Japan under review for a downgrade on its sovereign debt. What does that say about its commitment to the changes that you mentioned, and what does that say is a message for the new prime minister?

    McCURRY: Well, we are aware of that. I don't want to comment specifically on a decision made by a rating entity, but I would say that we, too, have stressed the importance of moving forward with a program of economic reform that has been embraced by the previous prime minister and his government and will presumably will form the care of economic policy for the new prime minister. It's important to move forward. And we will be stressing that view, but we will do it with respect for the hardship we know the people of Japan face. And we'll try to do it explaining that we, ourselves, have gone through those moments of transition and that we can demonstrate that you can endure hardship and still come out of the process at the end as a successful, growing strong economy.

    Q: In the end, do you think that this leadership contest will have any impact on Japanese economic policy?

    McCURRY: I think that Japanese economic policy is defined by what is best for the Japanese people, not necessarily the personalities of those who carry out the policy. We have enjoyed working closely with Japanese prime ministers from Mr. Hashimoto to his predecessors during the period of President Clinton's service. But policy is policy; personalities are personalities. And we work first and foremost with an eye to what is in the best interests of the people of the United States and what we think is in the best interest of the global community and the people of the Asia Pacific region.

    Q: Mike, does the United States believe that the military balance of power in the Middle East has been altered by the Iranian missile tests?

    McCURRY: The United States does not believe that single tests of missiles that are in various stages of research and development alter strategic balances. What they do is to provide you a snapshot and picture of where things are going.

    And for some time, the United States has said, our greatest – one of our greatest concerns, among out chief concerns in that region are policies of the government of Iran that work against the interests of peace and stability in that region – to wit, their support for terrorism, their active opposition to the peace process in the Middle East, which is so important to Arab and Jew alike, and their persistent efforts to acquire the technologies and weapons of mass destruction that can threaten and intimidate neighbors.

    So the balance is affected by their efforts to develop those technologies, acquire those technologies, and they underscore the importance of efforts by the United States to work with our allies and others to curb technology transfers to that region, which is why we watch this area so carefully and we do what we need to do to make sure that they are not enhancing their capacities in those areas.

    Q: Does this mean that the new moderate President of Iran that you've been kind of reaching out to has made no change at all in Iran's policy in terms of weapons of mass destruction? In other words, any hopes you might have invested in him are now –

    McCURRY: One thing that is true of that regime is that you cannot make definitive judgments like that. In a society that is that opaque with a ruling elite that is difficult at time to understand, it's probably not wise for us to make those judgments. But it's certainly is evidence that they are working in the direction that has underscored the concern we've expressed publicly in the past, which is that they are working to acquire those types of weapons that put them in a position to threaten – threatening their neighbors and others in the region and that's contrary to the interests of peace and stability in the region.

    Q: Is this a setback for those in the White House now that have been trying to defrost relations between the U.S. and Iran?

    McCURRY: I don't – I think it's perhaps too early to declare a definitive answer to that, but it certainly doesn't give evidence to support a change of view, which is what we said we would look for. We said we would look for changes in policies by this government that would moderate their behavior of the past, and the effort to acquire weapons with the range of this particular weapon works contrary to the interests of peace and stability that would demonstrate to the world that there is a change of heart.

    Q: Where did they get it from?

    Q: Does the administration have reason to believe that part of the reason for this missile test was internal, i.e., that the spiritual leadership was sending a message to the political leadership?

    McCURRY: The truth is there will be a lot of different people who will make a lot of different analyses of this. And we should probably be careful in pronouncing a government view on that. We will certainly assess this and gather further information and see what we ourselves can learn about it, but I don't know that we can make any definitive judgments about what this says about the motives of the current ruling leadership.

    Q: Mike, where does the U.S. position on the Israeli-Palestinian peace process now stand?

    McCURRY: It's unchanged. We are supportive of those who are working hard to bridge differences and to build on the peace agreements Israel has achieved with the Palestinians and with others in the region. And that is hard work and it is tough going. But, as I said yesterday, there's no desire on our part to embrace failure; there's every desire on our part to work harder to try to produce progress, and that's what we have been doing.

    Q: Well, why is the administration reluctant to send Dennis Ross back to the region to try to reach an agreement?

    McCURRY: We certainly don't rule out work by U.S. diplomats to help the parties, but the parties have to help themselves. And the way they can help themselves is by working with each other to directly address the differences. We've always said that the only way peace agreements work is when the parties engage with each other, build confidence in each other and set aside their differences in the name of peace. And that's what they're going to have to do and that's what we're calling on them to do. And we hope there will come a time soon that they demonstrate that that's the path they're choosing.

    But we've also said that if we ever reach the conclusion that the parties are not interested in making progress in the peace process, we'd let you know and let the world know. We're not at that point yet.

    Q: Has the administration informed the Palestinians that it's unlikely the Israelis will ever accept this proposal and that as a result they should try to make some more concessions and reach their own deal with the Israelis?

    McCURRY: We have what amounts to constant dialogue with the parties, and I'm not going to detail that because –

    Q: Well, why is he saying the parties when the Palestinians did accept the U.S. proposal? The onus is on the other side, obviously.

    McCURRY: We've acknowledged that the Palestinians have accepted the ideas that the United States has put forward and we've encouraged the Israelis to do so as well.

    Q: Where did this missile come from?

    McCURRY: North Korea.

    Q: The President had some setbacks in Congress yesterday on environmental funding in the House and with the Air Force nominee in the Senate. And I wonder if the White House is finding generally that it's getting harder and harder to get things done in Congress.

    McCURRY: Since Republicans gained control of Congress in 1994 and started working with this President in 1995, the pendulum has gone back and forth from bipartisan cooperation to more confrontation. And even in election years like 1996 there have been periods and days in which it has been sharply partisan and the conflict has been bitter, and then, just as likely, the following week or the following month, differences are set aside and compromises are reached and progress is made. And we saw that happen even in the midst of an election year in 1996. And we certainly would rather see that happen as the President just told you in 1998 than to see us descend into a period of any bitter confrontation.

    But the work is difficult because the American people have decided it should be difficult, by putting a President of one party here at the White House and a Congress under the leadershipof another party up on Capitol Hill.

    Q: Where do you think the pendulum is now?

    McCURRY: I think it's on the partisan side right now, but there's a lot of time left in this session of Congress in which we could reach some agreement on the kinds of things the President just talked about.

    Q: Wait a second, you already said there's no time – hardly any time. (Laughter.)

    McCURRY: Well, time is running out. The President just said it. The President just said that the time is running out, but there's time left to make some progress. Hey, look, we did welfare reform, minimum wage increase, we passed the very important Kennedy-Kassebaum bill, and got all three of them signed in the course of September of 1996 – right out there in that Rose Garden.

    Q: Then why does he keep on saying there are no working days left?

    McCURRY: Well, because – it's going to be September before too long.

    Q: The patient bill of rights, one of the major sticking points is the right to sue. House Republican leaders are advancing this idea of a court-imposed fine on health care plans. Would that be an acceptable compromise?

    McCURRY: We've gone from everything being black and white when it comes to the rights of individual consumers to an area in which there is dialogue now about how you can address what is for us the fundamental principle. The fundamental principle is that a person or their family who is maimed or who die as a result of inappropriate action by a health care plan ought to have access, and meaningful access, to compensation. And there are different ways in which that could be guaranteed and achieved.

    And what we are looking for is something that protects the rights of individual health care consumers and their families – in some cases, their survivors. That's a good place to have dialogue, and there is some indication of willingness to explore where you could find some points of agreement. But we've got an approach that works in the bill the administration has endorsed on the Hill and we hope Republicans who are beginning to look at the utility of having that kind of right protected will begin first with the administration-backed bill.

    Q: Secretary Shalala had indicated that as long as it's not an enforceable alternative that the administration is open to compromise on this issue where you have court-imposed fine. Is that not –

    McCURRY: What we've heard so far is not sufficient to meet the concerns the President has expressed, but as Secretary Shalala indicated, we understand that we can work and see what we can do to make that better.

    Q: Mike, the White House seems to be in a near frenzy over the farm crisis. There have been a number of events, a lot of them involving members of Congress. To what extent are electoral concerns influencing the scheduling of these events and the policies that are being put forward?

    McCURRY: We're not facing a direct election here, so they're not first and foremost on our mind. But we're conscious of the fact that people in Congress are responding to the very real needs that their constituents are facing right now. Senator Byron Dorgan has made a point which is kind of interesting. They were auctioneers coming out of retirement in North Dakota now to deal with farm auctions. It's as bad as many people have seen there. I think these people are motivated, first and foremost, by the very dire circumstances they see their own constituents face, and if they're smart politicians, of course they're going to be responding to that kind of need.

    Q: Mike, a leftover question. Congress, Republican members of Congress, have offered a bill they say will reduce shipments of cocaine and heroin from Latin American by 80 percent in three years. Is the President going to sign on to that?

    McCURRY: Did we – we were looking with McCaffrey's office yesterday.

    COLONEL CROWLEY: Yes. We haven't seen that bill yet. I think there's just been a provision passed.

    McCURRY: We'll have to take a pass on that because we have – we're going to look at the bill in greater detail.

    Q: I wonder how you feel about this report that Charles Labella (sp) has given to the Justice Department recommending that there should be an independent counsel to investigate the allegations of campaign fundraising –

    McCURRY: No change in our view here. That is really within the province of the Attorney General to address and she has addressed it today.

    Q: Don't you think his recommendation adds weight?

    McCURRY: She made – I mean, she's responded effectively to that point today. There are a lot of different viewpoints. She has to make the decision under law and she makes the decision according to law.

    Q: But do you have no intention – the White House has no intention of urging her to reconsider?

    McCURRY: I am not aware of any contact we've had with the Attorney General on this question.

    Q: Mike, for the cameras, what's your assessment of the capability of Iran's missile and where did they get it?

    McCURRY: Well, I'm not going to describe in any great detail our assessment of the capability because that's obviously an intelligence assessment that I can't discuss publicly, but it has been said publicly by the Director of Central Intelligence and others that the missile program in Q: uestion in Iran, the one that we believe they're developing, derives from North Korean technology, specifically the No Dong missile, and the degree to which this is an engineered weapon or an off-the-shelf weapon is one that intelligence analysts will certainly measure carefully.

    Q: Was it successful?

    McCURRY: I'm not going to comment on the parameters of the test flight.

    Q: Mike, can you tell us something about the meeting President Clinton is going to have with the President of Uruguay, Sanguinetti, this afternoon?

    McCURRY: I did not bring that with me, but they're going to do – we're going to do a readout afterwards. They clearly are going to talk about follow-up work on the Summit of the Americas. President Sanguinetti has some very specific ideas that will promote closer bilateral relations between the United States and Uruguay that we think will be well worth a discussion. They've got some specific discussion on trade and economic issues. Uruguay's role in Mercosur of course will be an element of the discussion they have about trade liberalization in the Americas. And the President looks forward to what I'm sure will be a very productive meeting. We'll give you some kind of readout afterwards.

    COLONEL CROWLEY: Also the joint efforts to work on counterdrugs, on money laundering –

    McCURRY: There are two specific areas of cooperation, one in counter drug trafficking, in which we have enjoyed a very close working relationship with Uruguay. And the President will compliment the effective work that have been done by Uruguay law enforcement officials in that areas. And then there's a specific discussion with respect to money laundering

    that they're going to have that I think will be a very fruitful area.

    Q: How about fast track, Mike? Will they talk about –

    McCURRY: They'll talk about trade and talk about open trade and talk about Mercosur, as I said.

    Q: Mike, what will he explain to the President of Uruguay about fast track, that he does or doesn't want it, or that he doesn't want it right now or -

    McCURRY: They are – those positions are well known and deriving from the conversations we had at the time of the Summit of the Americas. I think they're well aware of our thinking on that and well aware of our commitments to free and open trade in the hemisphere.

    Q: Mike, other than today's announcement, do you anticipate any further departures, is there going to be a new period of transition or turnover at the White House?

    McCURRY: Look, this is the White House and people come and go all the time. And it happens based on what people decide on their own, usually affecting their own personal circumstances. I can't predict those, but the White Houses always have transitions that are underway. I suspect they'll be more, but I think it will be for reasons that are, first and foremost, dealing with the situation an individual person faces. That certainly was true in my case.

    Q: Do you have any reaction to Senator D'Amato's proposal that the 1946 agreement with Switzerland on Nazi gold be reopened because of these allegations that are currently in play?

    McCURRY: I don't have anything specifically here, although I think that I heard from State Department that they were planning to address that there. That's where Under Secretary Eizenstat has done the bulk of the work for the administration on that. And I think they were going to respond to that at their briefing today.

    Pleasure. I'll be with you for quite some time to come, so don't worry.

    © Copyright 1998 The Washington Post Company

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