Albright Maintains Course: Reaffirms Policies of Christopher

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On her first day at the office in Foggy Bottom, Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright reaffirmed the foreign policy of her predecessor, Warren Christopher.

In her first press conference with State Department reporters, Mrs. Albright broke little new ground. She pledged to get along with China, maintain close unity with Europe, expand NATO, advance the Middle East peace process and to try to sew Cyprus back together.

She also defended Saudi Arabia's cooperation in the search for terrorist bombers who killed American troops at Dhahran, apparently rejecting or ignoring an FBI charge this week that Riyadh was uncooperative.

And she suggested the United States would seek new U.N. sanctions against Sudan, one of seven nations the State Department lists as sponsors of terrorism. She denied reports that the administration exempted Occidental Petroleum Corp. from existing U.S. sanctions on Khartoum.

"There was no exemption asked for, and no exemption was given," she said.

Mrs. Albright stressed that selling the administration's foreign policy goals to Congress and to the American people was to be a major task.

"My first trip, already taken and to be followed by many more, was to Capitol Hill," said America's first female secretary of state.

"The president is serious and I am serious about working with Congress on a bipartisan basis.

"We also will reach out beyond the Beltway. . . . We have an obligation to explain clearly the who, what, when, how, and especially the whys, of U.S. foreign policy," she said.

Mrs. Albright began her job Thursday, immediately after her swearing-in ceremony, with a lengthy briefing on China, said Nicholas Burns. He will stay on as the State Department spokesman for a few months.

Her first calls were from Mr. Christopher and British Foreign Secretary Malcolm Rifkind, who discussed Hong Kong's transfer to China in June.

Mrs. Albright's priorities, spelled out in confirmation hearings, will be shoring up "America's key alliances and relationships," especially "sustaining momentum towards the creation of a Europe that is united, stable, and democratic, and an Asian-Pacific community that cooperates increasingly, based on shared economic interests and a common commitment to peace," she said.

"Other priorities in the year ahead include controlling the spread of weapons of mass destruction; keeping the Middle East peace process on track and consolidating the peace in Bosnia; paying increased attention to the sometimes overlooked regions of Latin America, South Asia, and Africa; fighting the forces of international terrorism, drug trafficking, and transnational crime; strengthening those around the globe who are working for human rights, democracy, development, a healthy environment, and the rule of law; and advancing prosperity at home by striving for an open and expanding global economic system," she said. …