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Clinton Asks For Trade Negotiating Authority

President says further expanding global trade will help U.S.

WASHINGTON (AllPolitics, April 11) -- President Bill Clinton today called on Congress to give him the so-called "fast track" negotiating authority he says he needs to further open overseas markets and boost U.S. exports.


Clinton told a meeting of newspaper editors that, since 1974, every president has had the authority. But it has expired and Congress should act in bipartisan fashion to renew it, he said. Republicans have balked up to now at giving Clinton the wide-ranging authority.

"If we don't seize these opportunities, our competitors surely will," Clinton said. The president noted that for the first time, Latin America's trade with Europe outpaced the United States' last year.(352K wav sound)

"We do not need to be afraid of global trade," Clinton said.

The president also repeated his call for the Senate to ratify the proposed Chemical Weapons Convention, saying the treaty -- negotiated in the Reagan and Bush Administrations -- represents "the best of American bipartisanship."(352K wav sound)

"I urge the Senate to do what is right and ratify this convention," he said. If the U.S. doesn't act, Clinton said, it will send a signal of retreat to the rest of the world. (384K wav sound)

In a question-and-answer session, Clinton was asked to explain the difference between the U.S. policy of engagement with Vietnam, North Korea and China and its economic embargo against Cuba.


The difference, Clinton said, is that the three Asian nations "have not murdered any Americans lately."

U.S. policy toward Cuba "is one that was dictated by Cuba, not by the United States," he said. Last year, Cuban jet fighters shot down two U.S. civilian aircraft flown by anti-Castro exiles, killing three people.

Another editor asked Clinton whether the Chemical Weapons Convention might permit nations such as Iran to share sensitive U.S. defense information, if it came under attack by chemical weapons.

The president said that while the U.S. would be committed to assist nations that come under chemical attack, the U.S. has made it clear it would not give up anti-chemical weapons technology, but instead would help victims deal with the health effects of an attack.

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