Czech President Vaclav Havel says there's still a lot about America he doesn't understand.
And today's world, he said humbly, is a "very complicated" place. But the former playwright and leader in the struggle to return democracy to his homeland is certain of one thing."It's extremely important, the responsibility of the United States as the biggest, most powerful country all around the world," he said Wednesday in halting English.
Havel expressed some bewilderment about America at a joint news conference with President Clinton that was dominated by questions about the Monica Lewinsky affair.
Havel met at the White House with Clinton earlier and then was feted at a state dinner. Thursday, he was taking up Europe's problems in meetings with congressional leaders on Capitol Hill.
At the top of Havel's agenda are the conflict in Kosovo between Serbs and ethnic Albanians, and political unrest in Albania.
Clinton said they had discussed "the urgent need to bring stability to Kosovo to prevent suffering" in the Yugoslav province, where Serb forces are trying to crush an ethnic Albanian insurgency, as well as tensions between the government and its opponents in Albania.
Their aim, Clinton said, was a "true partnership for security" and preparations for the Czech Republic's entry into the NATO military alliance.
Havel, who lost his job and was jailed for campaigning to rid Czechoslovakia of Soviet controls, said converting Europe into a peaceful continent was complicated.
But he said he was not concerned that Russia was imposing some Soviet-style controls over the Russian market.
"It's a complicated situation," Havel said. "And it will still be in 50 and in 100 years."
At 61, Havel is apparently is on the mend after months of serious medical problems. He underwent surgery for a ruptured colon in April and in August came down with pneumonia and an irregular heartbeat. He has been hospitalized five times since 1996, when he lost part of a lung to cancer.