Clinton attempts to gain political points at U.N. President contrasts his international policies with Dole's

September 25, 1996|By Carl M. Cannon | Carl M. Cannon,SUN NATIONAL STAFF

WASHINGTON -- President Clinton, in a brief appearance at the United Nations, outlined yesterday his proposals for combating terrorism, the drug trade and nuclear proliferation in a speech that targeted Republicans as much as it did foreign adversaries.

The president also signed a treaty to ban the testing of nuclear weapons, calling it "the longest-sought, hardest-fought prize in arms control history."

In a rebuke aimed at Bob Dole, his Republican challenger, the president used the world forum to criticize the Republican-led Senate for failing earlier this month to vote on a treaty intended to control the spread of chemical weapons.

"I will not let this treaty die," he said.

"And we will join the ranks of nations determined to prevent the spread of chemical weapons."

President George Bush pushed the treaty, and James A. Baker III, Bush's secretary of state, called for its ratification as recently as two weeks ago.

But it stalled in the Senate, and Democrats accused Dole, the former Senate majority leader, of prevailing on his former colleagues to block the vote because he didn't want to hand Clinton a legislative victory.

Clinton also said Republicans were using the United Nations as a whipping boy in campaign speeches.

This is a favorite tactic of Patrick J. Buchanan and others in his conservative wing of the party.

But on occasion, Dole has been critical of the United Nations, too -- especially of U.N. Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali.

The president paid his respects to the secretary-general yesterday, but it was described as an awkward meeting: Clinton, too, has reservations about Boutros-Ghali.

In fact, the Clinton administration has insisted that he be replaced when his term expires at the end of this year.

Asked if the two men had discussed Boutros-Ghali's tenure, Clinton said that would have been pointless because his decision to block a second term for Boutros-Ghali is final.

"There was nothing to talk about," Clinton replied.

The president made a point of graciously thanking Boutros-Ghali for a speech earlier in the day in support of the nuclear test ban treaty.

He also stressed his respect for the world body and his support of its missions.

In his U.N. speech, Clinton tried to draw a distinction between himself and Republicans who have ridiculed the United Nations as ineffectual, expensive and arrogant.

Dole, in accepting the Republican presidential nomination, received thunderous applause when he said that he would never place U.S. troops in a war zone under U.N. command, as Clinton had.

"In this time of challenge and change, the United Nations is more important than ever before, because our world is more interdependent than ever before," Clinton said.

"Unfortunately, some Americans, in their longing to be free of the world's problems and perhaps to focus more on our own problems, ignore what the United Nations has done, ignore the benefits of cooperation, ignore our own interdependence with all of you in charting a better future.

"They ignore all the United Nations is doing to lift the lives of millions by preserving the peace, vaccinating children, caring for refugees, sharing the blessings of progress around the world.

"They have made it difficult for the United States to meet its obligations to the United Nations."

But if the president was delivering zingers to Republicans for consumption inside the United States, he also was outlining for the world a substantive difference between the two parties over how best to control the threat posed to civilians by weapons of mass destruction.

Dole's answer -- and that of the Republican Party since early in the Reagan presidency -- is to research and build missile defense systems to protect American citizens from foreign missile attacks.

Clinton's approach is to build a structure of international laws to prevent the spread of nuclear, chemical or biological weapons to terrorists or rogue nations.

He highlighted the test ban treaty as an outstanding example of this approach, and said such cooperation should apply to other threats as well, namely terrorism and drug trafficking.

"Last year, I asked the nations assembled here to commit to a goal of zero tolerance for aggression, terrorism and lawless behavior," the president said.

"Frankly, we have not done that yet.

"Real zero tolerance means giving no aid and no quarter to terrorists who slaughter the innocent and drug traffickers who poison our children, and to do everything we can to prevent weapons of mass destruction from falling into the wrong hands."

The president then called on the United Nations to:

* Ratify 11 proposed international conventions that would help prevent and punish terrorism and to criminalize the use of explosives in terrorist attacks.

* Adopt a declaration on crime and public security he proposed last year that includes a no-sanctuary pledge.

* Require nations that produce and export the chemicals needed to make narcotics to establish controls that would deny these chemicals to drug lords.

As a first step, Clinton pledged to assign $100 million worth of U.S. defense equipment, services and training to Mexico, Colombia and other South American and Caribbean countries to "help our friends stop the flow of drugs at the source."

Pub Date: 9/25/96

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