ASHINGTON - President Clinton was mistaken when he said John F. Kennedy Jr. had not visited the White House after the assassination of President Kennedy until Clinton invited him.
Clinton, at a news conference Wednesday, said he helped the younger Kennedy ''come to terms'' with the death of his father by taking him on a tour of the White House.
''John Kennedy had actually not been back to the White House since his father was killed until I became president,'' Clinton said.
But the young Kennedy had visited the White House earlier, during the terms of both Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan.
Kennedy and his mother had a private dinner at the White House at the invitation of Pat Nixon on Feb. 3, 1971. The next day, Kennedy, who was then 10 years old, wrote a three-page thank-you note to the Nixons.
''I can never thank you more for showing us the White House,'' Kennedy wrote, in a letter posted yesterday on the Web site of the Richard Nixon Library and Birthplace Foundation (http://www.nixonfoundation.org). ''You were so nice to show us everything. I don't think I could remember much about the White House but it was really nice seeing it all again.''
Kennedy continued: ''When I sat on Lincoln's bed and wished for something, my wish really came true. I wished that I would have good luck at school.'' Kennedy also said he ''loved the dogs,'' and the food ''was the best I have ever had.''
Kennedy's mother, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, also wrote to the Nixons, saying, ''A day I have always dreaded turned out to be one of the most precious I have spent with my children.''
Kennedy also visited the White House in 1981 when Reagan had a ceremony honoring Robert F. Kennedy.
White House Deputy Press Secretary Jake Siewert said yesterday that Clinton made his comment based on what Kennedy had told him during his March 5, 1998, visit to the White House.