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Transcripts from the Prime Ministers of Australia

Transcript 10673

15 November 1998 TRANSCRIPT OF THE PRIME MINISTER THE HON JOHN HOWARD MP DOORSTOP INTERVIEW ON DEPARTURE FOR MALAYSIA (APEC) RICHMOND AIRPORT, SYDNEY

Photo of Howard, John

Howard, John

Period of Service: 11/03/1996 to 03/12/2007

More information about Howard, John on The National Archive website.

Release Date: 15/11/1998

Release Type: Interview

Transcript ID: 10673

E&OE..................................................................................................

JOURNALIST:

Prime Minister, Bill Clinton's decision not to attend APEC,

does that send the wrong signals to the region at a time when the

push for free trade is facing enormous obstacles?

PRIME MINISTER:

There are reasons for the President not coming. I understand those

reasons. Clearly they are related to what is happening in Iraq and

the President's decision is entirely understandable. I would

hope everybody in the region will see it in that light and fully

understand his reasons for not coming.

JOURNALIST:

Is this shaping up as the most crucial APEC Summit with Japan threatening

to de-rail the EVSL Agreement on liberalising free trade in those

15 key sectors?

PRIME MINISTER:

All of these summits are important and it is essential in the background

of a difficult Asian economic climate that we maintain the momentum

of APEC. But they are always important meetings.

JOURNALIST:

You have plans for a bi-lateral with President Habibie. Are you

concerned that domestic problems in some of the countries that are

attending may upset the push to liberalise free trade?

PRIME MINISTER:

Oh look I'm not going to sort of give a lengthy analysis of

what's happening in other countries in these circumstances.

I'll be talking to President Habibie. We have a good relationship.

I'll be very keen to get his assessment of what is happening

in Indonesia. Indonesia is going through a very difficult transition

phase and Australia should have sympathy and understanding and recognise

the enormous adjustment that has to take place in that country.

JOURNALIST:

Is there any sign that Japan is willing to give any ground on the

forestry and fisheries....?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well I'll be getting a briefing on that from Mr Fischer when

I arrive in Kuala Lumpur.

Could I just say in relation to President Clinton that whilst all

Australians would welcome a genuine change of heart by President

Saddam Hussein regarding United Nations' inspections. It has

to be a genuine change of heart for it to be worthwhile and I'm

a little sceptical that the conditions that he has apparently attached

to the United Nations' concessions may indeed conceal the reality

that he is unwilling to cooperate. And I can understand the scepticism

that has already been expressed on behalf of the British Government

and also on behalf of the American administration. Thank you.

(Ends...)

Transcript 10673