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Looking Beyond The Water's Edge

Clinton dines with congressional leadership tonight to talk foreign policy

WASHINGTON (AllPolitics, April 16) -- President Bill Clinton and his foreign policy team will head across Pennsylvania Avenue tonight to dine with congressional leaders. The goal: a full-court press for a bipartisan foreign policy.

Clinton has invited the leadership from both parties, along with chairmen and ranking members of key foreign policy and national security committees, to join in the event at Blair House, a building across the street from the White House that usually hosts visiting overseas dignitaries. Clinton hopes to be able to start rebuilding the type of foreign policy consensus that was more common during the Cold War, when partisan differences supposedly stopped at the water's edge.

The meeting will feature two main sessions. Before dinner, the focus will be on creating a "peaceful, undivided and democratic Europe," according to White House Press Secretary Mike McCurry. Among the key issues for discussion are the planned expansion of NATO and the international peace mission in Bosnia.

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During dinner, the members of Congress will be seated at tables dealing with specific topics in the area covered by their committees. Subjects on the table include free trade, the chemical weapons treaty, NATO enlargement, past-due fees to the United Nations and military and security resources.

After dinner, a second full session will be held to talk about Asia and the Pacific Rim. China's most-favored nation trade status and human-rights situation will be discussed, according to McCurry.

About three dozen members of both houses have been invited to attend the meeting. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, Secretary of Defense William Cohen, U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Bill Richardson and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman John Shalikashvili are also expected to participate.


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