Summit Conferences - Bill clinton and george w. bush



President Bill Clinton proved to be the most enthusiastic exponent of personal diplomacy of the modern era. He engaged in brokered summitry and also took part in conferences with Yeltsin (with whom he established warm relations), with the leaders of the European Union, and with Premier Zhu Rongji of the People's Republic of China. As well, between the spring of 1993 and the fall of 2000, Clinton made 133 visits to other nations, more than his predecessors Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, and Nixon combined. Many of these trips were for political and psychological purposes, though Clinton also conducted presidential business. The itineraries and agendas of these visits were as carefully planned as were the summits Clinton attended. Both required enormous entourages. It has been estimated that more than 1,300 federal officials accompanied Clinton on his six-nation trip to Africa in 1998.

The technique of using the power and prestige of the president to bring adversaries to the bargaining table was used again by Clinton. Following a lengthy period of shuttle diplomacy by Secretary of State Warren Christopher, Clinton brought Israel's prime minister, Yitzhak Rabin, and the chairman of the Palestinian Liberation Organization, Yasir Arafat, to proclaim in a remarkable ceremony on the south lawn of the White House their commitment to mutual recognition, Palestinian self-rule, and a comprehensive peace settlement. Although Clinton did not personally oversee the tortuous negotiations that led to the Dayton Peace Accords in November 1995, the commitment of his prestige and the awesome power of the United States made Dayton yet another brokered summit. It may be that Clinton's greatly ballyhooed trips to Ireland—both Northern Ireland and the Republic—in December 1995 and September 1998, respectively, were intended to produce yet another brokered summit and public relations triumph. Unfortunately, Ireland's troubles were not so easily banished.

Although George W. Bush came into office as the least-traveled and perhaps least internationally minded of recent presidents, and waited some six months before taking part in his first summit (with the European Union leaders and Russian President Vladimir Putin in July 2001), Bush appeared to be prepared to conduct personal diplomacy much as did his predecessors.



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