President Clinton, meeting with evangelical Christian leaders, expressed strong opposition Monday to legislation that would impose mandatory sanctions on countries judged guilty of religious persecution.

Clinton said he shares the goals of the legislation's sponsors but believes there are better ways of addressing the problem. He echoed the view of many critics of the bill that the threat of mandatory sanctions would put pressure on the United States to overlook problems so that it would not have to impose penalties.The president made his remarks to leaders of the National Association of Evangelicals, dropping by a meeting they were attending with his national security adviser, Sandy Berger.