LYNN NEARY, host:
Former President Bill Clinton says he wants corporate and business leaders to do some good. He's hosting his Global Initiative Conference this week in New York. Influential people who attend are supposed to turn some of their energy toward AIDS, healthcare and other issues.
STEVE INSKEEP, host:
From a New York hotel, Mr. Clinton gave a wide-ranging interview, and his views on interrogation are heard elsewhere in today's program. He also spoke of an announcement at this week's conference: Numerous countries say they will use an airlines tax to pay for medicine in poor countries.
President BILL CLINTON: It started with the French. The French said - recognized that every year we were struggling to raise appropriate funds for the Global Fund on AIDS, TB and Malaria. And then once we raised whatever we raised, we gave it out to projects that included buying medicine but also included other things that were needed, like training medical personnel and paramedical personal.
So they had this idea to put a small tax on airline travel or otherwise dedicate a certain amount of money - in other words, a couple of these countries that are part of this don't have the airline tax - and use it just to buy the medicine. And then we help them to put it together and they ask me to buy the medicine for children with HIV, so that all the kids in the world with AIDS will be given medicine. And to then buy the so-called second line drugs that you have to buy when the first line drugs don't work any more.
INSKEEP: And all those corporate executives you're meeting with must be thrilled to hear their travel costs will be going up.
(Soundbite of laughter)
President CLINTON: Well, I don't know. So far there hasn't been much resistance. But keep in mind the United States didn't do it and the British haven't done it yet, they just agreed to pay a certain amount of money.
INSKEEP: So you have this annual gathering of business and government leaders, and you've said people have to deliver on pledges they've made from the previous year. They have to deliver on their pledges from last year or you won't let them back. Did you disinvite anybody this year?
President CLINTON: Yeah, we did. And we had about - and we only had about 15, though, that came last year and didn't make a commitment, or came, made a commitment, and then took not any steps to implement it. The vast majority of people come here because they know they're going to be able - asked to make a commitment. That is, they're tired of going to meetings and talking. They want to come to a meeting where they can learn some things and then do something.
INSKEEP: Do you suspect that some people come to you with a charitable contribution that their company was already going to make and they just package it for your meeting?
President CLINTON: I think last year that happened. This year I think there will be very little of that. This year, since we've had a commitments office up and running for a year, that helps people to keep their commitments and helps others to develop new ones for the coming year. I think that basically the commitments we're getting out of this are overwhelmingly tied to this event and people's desire to participate in this event.
INSKEEP: Mr. President, it's good to talk to you again. Thanks very much.
President CLINTON: Thank you.
INSKEEP: That's former President Bill Clinton at his Global Initiative in New York.