Open microphone catches Chretien's criticism of Clinton
July 9, 1997
Web posted at: 9:10 p.m. EDT (0110 GMT)
From Senior White House Correspondent Wolf Blitzer
MADRID, Spain (CNN) -- Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien, apparently unaware that he was talking into an open microphone, was videotaped Wednesday making some rather undiplomatic comments about Bill Clinton, joking that the U.S. president formed his position about NATO expansion because he thought it would win votes at home.
Chretien's remarks were caught on videotape as he talked with Belgian Prime Minister Jean-Luc Dehaene and Luxembourg's Prime Minister Jean-Claude Juncker before a NATO meeting in Madrid.
Apparently unaware the microphone in front of him was on, Chretien bragged that his country does not let the United States dictate its policy, and suggested American politicians make decisions solely for reasons of expediency.
"In your country, in my country, all the politicians would be in prison because they sell their votes," Chretien said.
He also said Clinton was in favor of inviting Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic to join NATO because it would woo voters.
Speaking in French, the Canadian prime minister said: "It's not reasons of state. It's all done for short-term political reasons, to win elections. Take the quarrel over whether to admit the Baltic states. That has noting to do with world security. It's because in Chicago, Mayor (Richard M.) Daley controls lots of votes for the nomination."
The three leaders laughed as they waited for the Clinton and his
advisers to arrive for the meeting.
Juncker asked, "And if we started without them?"
"To prove that we know what to do without them," Dehaene added.
"To prove we're independent. He (Chretien), he's used to not
doing what they want," Juncker said.
"I make it my policy," Chretien said. "But it's popular. The Cuba affair. I was the first to stand up" against it U.S. policy tightening the economic embargo on Cuba.
The three leaders chuckled among themselves.
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