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President Clinton Takes A Stroll Down Belgian Memory Lane With AM-Clinton-NATO, Bjt

January 9, 1994

BRUSSELS, Belgium (AP) _ President Clinton strolled across Brussels’ most famous square Sunday evening, then took an unscheduled walk down a nearby memory lane for coffee and a chat in a restaurant.

After addressing 250 young Europeans at city hall, Clinton walked across the Grand-Place, Brussels’ central square that is lined by centuries-old gabled buildings.

″I came here a student. I came here as governor of my state,″ Clinton told a crowd of several hundred in the floodlit square on a chilly evening. ″I never imagined I would actually be here as president.″

After some handshaking, he boarded his limousine for a surprise trip to another square, less than a mile away.

On the Place du Grand Sablon, the president entered the ″Au Vieux Saint Martin″ restaurant where he was served a cup of coffee and spent about 30 minutes chatting with diners.

″It was a total surprise,″ restaurant owner Philippe Niels said later.

″We had a full house, about 100 people. He just walked in and sat down among my customers, started talking to them and after a while moved from table to table,″ Niels said.

He said Clinton ″wanted to know the reaction of us Bruxellois to Americans. He wanted to see if we were still friends.″


BRUSSELS, Belgium (AP) - U.S. Secretary of State Warren Christopher inadvertently provided some comic relief for hundreds of spectators outside Brussels’ city hall watching a telecast of President Clinton’s speech inside.

The giant outdoor screen transmitted the presidential address live, but the throngs seemed more interested in getting a real glimpse of Clinton.

Soon attention wavered, as, apparently, did Christopher’s.

Midway through the speech, there was muffled laughter among the crowd when the screen showed Christopher, seemingly dozing.

When the cameras centered again on the secretary of state, the crowd no longer had any doubt he was napping and erupted in laughter.


BRUSSELS, Belgium (AP) - President Clinton won’t be going to the Belgian city where Adolphe Sax was born. But the city fathers of Dinant came to him instead Sunday and gave him a commemorative tenor saxophone.

Clinton has played the sax at the White House, on the campaign trail and in Korea so the southern Belgian town had hoped he would be tooting it in Dinant too.

But a tight summit schedule prevented him from making a swing to Dinant, where the creator of his favorite instrument was born Dec. 6, 1814. Dinant is 40 miles south of Brussels.

Instead, Dinant Mayor Antoine Tixhon presented Clinton with a specially engraved saxophone late Sunday in the Belgian capital.

In a thick, francophone accent, Tixhon told the president, ″I have the honor to give the president of the United States an instrument of Sax.″ When the crowd burst out laughing, the mayor quickly added, ″the saxophone.″

But to the disappointment of onlookers, Clinton did not play the instrument.

Earlier, he opened a speech at Brussels’ city hall by paying tribute to Belgium for giving the world the inventor of the saxophone.

Clinton said he had ″a great personal debt, of nearly 40 years standing, because it was a Belgian, Adolphe Sax, who invented the saxophone.″


BRUSSELS, Belgium (AP) - Worried about being branded a pampered press corps, White House reporters have killed the idea of having four masseuses give rubdowns on the plane carrying them home from a long trip to Europe.

Northwest Airlines, the press charter accompanying President Clinton on a nine-day journey, surprised reporters with this announcement:

″Four specially trained masseuses will travel with us from Geneva to Andrews (Air Force Base in suburban Maryland) to help soothe the aches and pains you’ve accumulated from the rigors of the trip.″

Reporters began fretting immediately after boarding the jumbo 747 jet Saturday morning on the first leg to Brussels. Some worried that cost- conscious editors back home would get angry; others worried that it would underscore the image of a perk-happy press. Still others thought it was a great idea.

An informal vote was taken on the plane. ″It was not unanimous but it was near unanimous,″ said George Condon, president of the White House Correspondents Association. He asked Northwest to drop the idea.

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