US Department of State Daily Briefing #11: Thursday,1/17/91

Tutwiler Source: State Department Spokesman Margaret Tutwiler Description: 12:36 pm; Washington, DC Date: Jan 17, 19911/17/91 Category: Briefings Region: E/C Europe, MidEast/North Africa Country: Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Italy, Japan, Germany, Iraq, Kuwait, Jordan, Yemen, Nigeria, Algeria, Israel, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Tunisia, Mauritania, Pakistan, Sudan, Bahrain, Qatar Subject: Military Affairs, Travel, Democratization, State Department, United Nations, NATO (ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED)

[Update: Secretary's Activities]

MS. TUTWILER: If it would be helpful, I will be glad to -- if it would not be helpful, just tell me -- go through what Secretary of State Baker did yesterday. Many of you were here late last night when I gave this to you. It's your call. Q (Inaudible) A O.K. I'll go through it. Yesterday, I said at this briefing, the Secretary met with Prince Bandar. That was around 8:00 a.m. in the morning. In late afternoon and early evening -- and there is no priority nor order to the following that I'm going to give you. The Secretary met here personally in his office, one-on-one, with the following: The Israeli Ambassador, the Ambassador from Kuwait, the Ambassador from Germany, the Ambassador from Syria, the Ambassador from Japan. The Secretary -- and again there is no order of this; this is just calls that were completed -- spoke by phone to our United States Ambassador to Saudi Arabia, to NATO Secretary General Woerner, to the Foreign Minister of The Netherlands, the Foreign Minister of Spain, the Foreign Minister of Egypt, the Foreign Minister of the Soviet Union, the Foreign Minister of Italy, the United States Ambassador to Syria, the Foreign Minister of Luxembourg. He also spoke by phone to Senator Helms, Senator Pell, Congressman Broomfield and Congressman Fascell. During the same time frame, Under Secretary Kimmit met with the five regional Assistant Secretaries here at the State Department, and they in turn notified other countries. They notified other coalition members. They notified members of the coalition who are part of the financial coalition and other members of the United Nations Security Council. The Department sent out a cable last night at 7:00 p.m. to all posts, informing them of the President's decision and asking them to inform the host governments and to take whatever security precautions were needed. Last night we issued a new travel advisory, warning Americans to take extra precautions in the region, especially because of the heightened terrorist alert that we have had for many days. Today, Secretary Baker's schedule, as you know, has been very public. He had breakfast this morning at the White House at 7:30 with Defense Secretary Cheney and General Scowcroft. He also met with the President. He attended the President's congressional meeting at the White House. He went to church with the President. He is having lunch here at the State Department. This afternoon at 1:30 he will be meeting with the Director of the CIA, and he will be attending the President's Cabinet meeting this afternoon. I believe that is at 3:00 p.m. He has not spoken by phone since last night with any Foreign Ministers as of this morning. Can I do two other things, please? Concerning the security -- Q Well, can I go back on the schedule? A O.K. Q A quick question on schedule. A O.K. Q Can we put to rest -- one of Bandar's people has been passing the story along that he picked up the phone and called King Fahd during one of those meetings. Is that not so? A That is not so, and I spoke with Prince Bandar last night myself at probably midnight, and he also says that is not so. That was just an erroneous report. He did not make any phone calls, whether to Saudi Arabia or to his Embassy or anywhere else in his meeting with Secretary of State Baker here at the Department yesterday.

[Terrorist Threats and Countermeasures]

Concerning any activities that may or may not be going on around the world at our Embassies and Posts. As you know, we have taken the possibility of terrorism seriously. We continue to monitor and assess the threat towards our missions and toward Americans in general. At this point there are no specific and credible terrorist threats. There have been demonstrations at United States diplomatic missions overseas, but no reports of injuries to U.S. personnel or serious damage to our property. I was unable to pull together for you this morning in time for the briefing -- because information is still coming in, phone calls going back and forth -- a complete list of every incident that may have happened at one of our Embassies. I will try this afternoon and certainly by tomorrow to have that pulled together for you. Two examples I can give you are some broken windows at a Consulate in Pakistan and two Molotov cocktails thrown at a U.S. library in Milan. Our Missions have reviewed and adjusted their security procedures because of the increased threat. I had mentioned that to you all yesterday. Many Posts are limiting access. Some have temporarily suspended public operations such as visa issuance and libraries. We have asked foreign governments around the world to increase security at our diplomatic and military facilities. Cooperation from these governments has been excellent. Concerning the refugee situation: Overnight and from our early reports this morning -- or as of 7:00 a.m. to be specific -- the Department had no reports of new outflows of displaced persons from Iraq and Kuwait. Q Has the State Department or any branch of the U.S. Government had any word from any member of the Iraqi government since the bombing started? A No. Q Is there any way of them communicating with the U.S. Government should they want to? A As I mentioned yesterday, Jim, that is the very reason that the President did not break relations with this country. They have an Embassy that is here. Granted, it is down to four employees, but that Embassy and those employees are still here. Q How would we communicate with them? Q Can I ask -- A Excuse me, Bill? Q How would we communicate with them, though, in the event that there were to be a communication. There is nobody at our Embassy there. You would rely on the people here to pass it through? Q CNN. A I mean, they have a telephone. What do you mean? Q Yesterday, before the attack was announced, but obviously when it had been decided, you said that any indication, any initiative, from Iraq would have to be pursued. Is that still true now that hostilities have begun, or are you on a roll and even if they wanted to talk -- talk, of course, about your objectives, total withdrawal -- but even if they wanted to talk, the U.S. wouldn't talk to them? A That is a very broad, hypothetical, Barry. The President stated our objectives very clearly last night in his address to our nation: The liberation of Kuwait and the restoration of the legitimate government, the full implementation of 12 United Nations Security Council resolutions, and the security and stability of the Gulf. Q Those are the goals. Now, the question still is: Is the door open, as it was yesterday, should they come forward with any initiative, any indication -- I'm trying to remember your words from yesterday -- the U.S. would pursue that? Is that still true? A Without answering hypotheticals -- Q Well, it wasn't hypothetical yesterday. A Can I finish? Q Why is it hypothetical today? A I said it was a hypothetical yesterday. Q But -- all right. A The pause for peace mandated by the United Nations Security Council resolution 678 is over. Our objective is to achieve full Iraqi compliance with the United Nations Security Council resolutions. We had hoped to achieve that peacefully, but Saddam Hussein rejected the pause for peace and refused to recognize the Security Council resolutions. He rebuffed all peace envoys and categorically rejected any Iraqi withdrawal from Kuwait. As a result, we and our coalition partners are now using military force to ensure compliance with the resolutions. The international operation will continue until full compliance with the United Nations resolutions has been achieved. Q So the answer is no? A What is your question? Q I think I remember it. I think it was, is the door still open if Iraq came forward? Q Is the door still open? Q Is the door open to an Iraq initiative. A That is such a broad hypothetical, I could not possibly begin to answer that. Q You did yesterday. But you did yesterday, so you're withdrawing yesterday's statement. A Today is a lot different, Barry, isn't it, than yesterday. Q That's what I wanted to know. Q Margaret, if Saddam Hussein announced a pullout and began same, would the United States cease the bombing? A If Saddam Hussein complied with all 12 United Nations resolutions, one of which is the total and complete withdrawal from Kuwait, obviously, that is a Presidential decision, but I could not lead you in the direction that force would continue. After all, the objective is compliance of these resolutions, and I would refer you to what the Secretary General of the United Nations said last night and said again this morning. I would tell you that on our takeover night, I can count on one hand the countries that have not been supportive of this, that have not expressed that everything that could be humanly, possibly done in the diplomatic field had been done. There's overwhelming support of what is going on. And in each nation's statement, John, they have said, "He must comply with all 12 United Nations resolutions," and I would once again remind you today, as I did yesterday, there has never been -- not one -- tiny inkling that he had any inclination whatsoever for complying with any of those resolutions, much less all 12 of them. Q So, Margaret, you're saying you won't listen unless he stops the fighting, period, and pulls out? A I think that it is very, very, very clear what Saddam Hussein has to do. After all, he has been told this for five and one-half months. Let me remind you that the international community had a 45-day pause for peace. Nothing that anyone has done has made a difference to Saddam Hussein. And I have stated what the President's objectives are, what our policy is. The Secretary of Defense gave a press conference this morning and very clearly stated what his mandate is from the President. And I have said basically the exact same thing. Q So unless he does that, you won't talk? A Right. What's there to talk about? Q The rules -- A I said the talk is over. Q The rules of the game have changed as of the beginning of the bombing. That's correct? I mean -- A No. Q The conditions under which the United States will talk to this guy have changed. A I understand very well all of your questions. They're all hypotheticals. I must deal with what is real. The President stated the objectives last night. The Secretary of Defense said what his marching orders are from the Commander in Chief. I have stated for you today what our policy is. Every one of these questions has come at me in a very broad, broad hypothetical. I have said what every nation that I know, except for a handful, is saying, "You're right. The game has changed." And he must one way or the other leave Kuwait, and one way or the other the 12 United Nations resolutions are going to be honored. Q Margaret, it's true that every one but a handful of nations thinks Saddam Hussein has done wrong, and that he ought to leave Kuwait. But many, many nations -- now that the United States has pummeled Iraq, and there's been considerable bloodshed, and a lot of people have died -- think that maybe this is an opportunity to see if he's ready to say "uncle." That maybe this is a chance, perhaps, without further bloodshed for him to capitulate, indeed, through negotiations. Now, yesterday you said if they came -- well, period. The United States does not feel that way. The war must roll on. Unless he totally withdraws from Kuwit, you don't want to hear from him. Is that correct? A I'm not going to try to re-craft words and policy that I think I have articulated quite straightforwardly. Q But you did say a handful of nations -- A A handful of nations in the world, Barry. Q It's not hypothetical. Margaret, it's not hypothetical. It's a very real situation. He's been dealt a serious blow, and a lot of people around the world and a lot of citizens of this country think that maybe he's got the message, and now maybe there should be some talking and have him pull out. A Another way of asking me, which is more direct, is there going to be a pause for peace? If that's what you're asking -- Q I'm asking you. A Well, then -- Q A pause for negotiations. A -- express it that way. Q Is there going -- A That's a more literal way to express it. Q O.K. A I've answered that this morning, and I have said no. He had a 45-day pause for peace that was voted on by the United Nations Security Council. Q Margaret, is it also fair to say that we're not going to be sending any messages to Saddam? That he has to act or do or say something first? A There couldn't be any more public messages. As the President has said, there have been no secrets in this at all. There have been five and a half months of daily messages from the coalition and from most nations in the world: "Leave Kuwait." Q Margaret, can you maybe be a little bit more precise in one area? You are saying that military operations will not cease until the Iraqi troops get out of Kuwait. Do you mean until they're all out of Kuwait, or do you mean until the U.S. has independent evidence that they are leaving Kuwait? A I am simply not going to do any hypotheticals today, and I will state again what we have said: That the pause for peace, mandated by the United Nations Security Council Resolution 678, is over. Q Margaret, one of the military objectives that the President ticked off -- in fact, he put it first last night -- was the destruction of Iraq's nuclear military potential. Under which United States goal does that fall? A What do you mean "Which goal does it fall?" Q There are four goals. One is to expel Iraq from Kuwait. Is it necessary to bomb the nuclear facilities to do that? A I believe, sir, that we are in a very different mode than we have been up until this point. We are dealing with a man who has weapons of mass destruction, as everyone knows, and everyone has been very concerned about. The President stated last night what his objectives were, and I will leave to the military what their military orders are. You've had now two briefings by the Secretary of Defense and by the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, to I'm just not going to get into it. Q Margaret, could you shed some light on the President's phrase last night that the goal is not the conquest of Iraq but the liberation of Kuwait? A Not really, John. I'll leave it to Marlin if he feels an obligation to interpret the President's speech last night. He's going to brief in about 7 minutes. Q That was not a -- Q Who? A Marlin Fitzwater at the White House. Q That was not a phrase inserted in concert with the State Department, then? A John, the Secretary of State worked with the President concerning the President's message to the nation last night. I did not participate in that, and so I do not know which phrases the Secretary and the President discussed. Q OK. But there seems to be a message to the foreign policy establishment in there that the United States has no interest in being an occupying power in Iraq but would stop short of the Iraqi border. One could interpret it that way. Is that the message that was intended? A I really want to refrain and let Marlin ask John Cochran -- maybe he could ask Marlin if Marlin feels free to interpret the President's message last night. I don't at this briefing. Q Margaret, several east European countries have units in the Gulf providing support services. Can you say anything about that contribution as allies of the United States? A I'd have to refer you to the Pentagon. Q Margaret, since the United States is enforcing the compliance with the U.N. resolutions, who will determine if and when that compliance has been met? Will it be the United States, which has launched the military attack? Will it be the United Nations? A The only thing that I would change a little bit in your characterization is, the coalition is in this operation. The coalition is trying to, in one way or the other, as I've said, force Saddam Hussein to abide by 12 U.N. resolutions. Q Margaret, let's see if we can beat Marlin in newspapers. Can we take a filing break? A It's up to you. Q You've got about a two minute edge on him. A I'm not in a race. Q The coalition has no formal mechanism for a meeting. Most of them are members of the United Nations. But will there be some kind of formal apparatus? Who determines when Saddam Hussein has done enough to warrant or to justify the end to the military action? A That gets me right back into, Susan, again, a hypothetical -- what's enough, what decisions will the coalition make? I can't answer those types of questions. Q I'm just asking, who makes them? A What is the mechanism? I think that it would be quite obvious -- if all the Iraqi troops leave Kuwait. I think that that speaks in itself, if all of them, all of a sudden, start going back into their country. But I can't play the game of, "What's enough, when would it do it." I can't do that. Q Now that the shooting has started, is there any inclination to release the text of the letter that the President gave to Secretary Baker? A The White House released that last week. Q Margaret, Soviet President Gorbachev has attempted to communicate with Saddam Hussein, first, I guess, over the airways and then by a personal message that was delivered physically to Saddam Hussein in Baghdad asking him to comply with the U.N. resolutions. Did the U.S. have any knowledge of that before that happened, or was that done in concert with the United States? A The Foreign Minister of the Soviet Union and Secretary Baker's brief conversation last night, to my knowledge, did not mention that. Q How about today? A Secretary Baker has had no conversations with any Foreign Ministers today, including those of the Soviet Union? Q Are there any diplomatic efforts alive, still, that the United States is aware of to end the war? A Not that I'm aware of. Q Do have a special advisory for American journalists in Baghdad of American sportsmen abroad, in general? A I'm sorry, I didn't catch the first part of your question? Q Do you have any advisory for American journalists in Baghdad now? A Do I have any what? Q Advisory. PRESS CORPS: Advisory. A Oh. None other than the personal statement that Mr. Fitzwater made yesterday, the day before. We had made a statement saying what a very dangerous situation this was; that we did not presume to tell news organizations how to do their business, but I don't have a new advisory today for them. Q And for American sportsmen abroad, in general? American sportsmen. Q Teams. Q Teams -- sports teams. A Oh, sports. Sorry. No different -- they have not been singled out any differently than all of the travel advisories for Americans in this region. We've got any number of travel advisories that I'll be happy to pull together for you, but it affects all Americans whether they're athletes or businessmen or doctors. It's Americans. Q Margaret -- A Wait, Mark's got a question. Q Now that the war has started and the President says he won't fail, what efforts are underway to work on a post-war security structure for the region? What are people in the Department doing? And are you aware of any contacts with allies along that line? A Anything specific, Mark, no. But in conversations, it has always been assumed and discussed by not only officials of the Department but, of course, the Secretary in his meetings, is that "Would force unfortunately, hopefully not" -- this is prior to force being used -- "be used," obviously, we will have to address ourselves to the situation post-crisis. It's more general. He has also said words to that effect in his own public testimonies, back over the past five and a half months; that a number of issues will have to be addressed once the crisis has resolved itself. Q Margaret, keeping with post-war developments, does the U.S. Government have plans at this early stage to go forward with developing, in conjunction with the United Nations, a War Crimes Tribunal to address any sort of atrocities that have taken place in Kuwait and might take place during the following conflict? A I'll take your question. I just didn't check this morning. I know we have stated that in the past. I would just like to check with the lawyers. Q What will Secretary Baker be doing now? If he's not concerning himself with post-crisis, is he just consulting with the coalition, trying to keep it together? What is his role now? A His role is, as you all know, a friend and advisor of the President; a friend for over 30 years. He, as I said -- as the President has for the last two days -- he's basically kept his schedule open. I have given you what all he is doing. I guess the best way to describe it is that last night on January 17, the Secretary General of the United Nations said that "This is not the time for diplomacy. That time has passed." Q Margaret, right now we'll all, obviously, very concerned about the human cost of this conflict but there are also some very real financial costs. You really haven't addressed the specific contributions that other nations might make to this in 1991. Do you have anything for us on that now? A Specifics? Q Even anything general. Have you asked for contributions? Have you gotten any pledges? A You weren't on the trip, unfortunately, with us. The Secretary, or I as his spokesperson, addressed this after every meeting he had on the eight and half day trip. Q O.K. specifics, yes. A Specifics? No. We gave, and other countries did, what their intentions were, what their attitudes were, what they intended. And I know you can't help it because you weren't there, because we sent transcripts back. They would say, in many of meetings -- and we can refer you to the record which is here -- that they would have their specialists and their officials work together and to work on this. Q Last year, there were a lot of Hindu/Arabic numbers with dollar signs. There were specific numbers that countries pledged. That hasn't happened and I just wonder why it hasn't happened. Now that we're -- many experts think this is about a billion-dollar-a-day meter running here and isn't it about time we hear some specifics? A You, the press, or the Secretary of State and the President? Q Everyone. The American people. A The American people, I'm sure, will be told. I think it is also common sense -- and the Secretary raised this and I think you would agree -- should force be used, obviously, the specifics we're talking about will change. So that is a very legitimate reason, in my mind, why we have not put out specifics because the specifics we could have given you prior to January 15, 1991, look very different today. So it is only correct that officials work on this information, and I'm sure it's not going to be kept a secret. There's no reason to keep it a secret. We didn't last year, nor did the other governments. Q Right. As you say, the costs do change a lot. They go up a lot more. A Correct. Q So I think it is a very reasonable question to know what other countries will be contributing, or will the American taxpayer just be paying for it all? A That, you know, is not the case. Each of these nations on our last eight and a half day trip publicly stated, and also gave the Secretary, for the President, private assurances of their willingness, their intentions to be a part of, as they were in 1990, 1991 responsibility-sharing. Q I have a two-part question. President Gorbachev has put his southern forces on alert. He said he's worried that the present battlefront might spread to other countries. Did Bessmertnykh, in his conversation yesterday with Baker, seek any assurances on this? A It was not raised. Q How long did their conversation last? And was anything besides the Gulf mentioned, such as the situation in the Baltics? A As you know, he had spoken with the new Foreign Minister the day before concerning the situation in the Baltics when he called him to congratulate him on his appointment. Yesterday's conversation was a very brief conversation. That did not come up. Q Margaret, another question related to the Soviet Union. There are reports from Moscow that the Soviets advised the American Embassy there of potential terrorist threats since the bombing campaign began. Can you shed any light on what the Soviets have informed us of and what's going on? A No. I'll look into it for you. I haven't heard that yet this morning. Q Do you have a readout on the meeting today between our Ambassador Jack Matlock and Soviet Deputy Foreign Minister Obukhov, I think is his name? A No, I don't. I'll check into for you, but I don't. Q There are supposed to be delegations of Latvia and Lithuania in Washington now. Will they be received in the State Department? A My understanding is that there are two Deputy Vice Presidents that are travelling here to the United States. I cannot give you yet who they will meet with and a schedule, but it is something that we are working on. Q Do you have any comment on the latest developments in the Soviet Union and Gorbachev's request to suppress press freedoms? A As I said yesterday, if those reports of this proposal were true, it would a step in the wrong direction. Today, as you know, we can confirm that this was, indeed, a proposal. As you know, this proposal was rejected by the Supreme Soviet, We obviously think is positive. It goes without saying, the Soviet Union knows it, the entire world knows it, that the United States' fundamental belief in freedom of expression is one of the essential aspects of the basic human liberties that are at the heart of a democratic society. Q You mentioned the conversation the Secretary had the day before yesterday in which he got certain assurances, you said, from the new Foreign Minister about the Baltic situation. Since then, there have been reports of deaths in Latvia and further military action in Estonia. Can you say anything more now about those assurances and how satisfied the United States is with them? A Unfortunately, you misunderstood a little bit of what I said. I did not say that he got assurances. I said that the Foreign Minister sought to assure. Q About an hour and a half ago -- A I refuse to characterize it. Yesterday I left it for the Soviet Union to characterize, but that is our characterization of what the Foreign Minister relayed to the Secretary. He sought to assure. Q About an hour and a half ago the Soviet News Agency TASS carried an article criticizing Gorbachev for the way he handled Lithuania. Do you have any comment on it, or do you have any information yet? A I have no information on that. Q Margaret, forgive me if you've already answered this. Please just say so if you have. I think you were asked whether the United States has received any messages from Iraq. Has the United States sent any either directly or indirectly to Iraq to explain the military operation there or to outline any method for ending the hostilities? A No. Q Thank you. A Thank you all. (Press briefing concluded at 1:06 p.m.)