US Department of State Daily Briefing #13: Wednesday,1/23/91

Tutwiler Source: State Department Spokesman Margaret Tutwiler Description: 12:09 pm; Washington, DC Date: Jan 23, 19911/23/91 Category: Briefings Region: E/C Europe, MidEast/North Africa, South America, Europe Country: USSR (former), Iraq, Kuwait, Jordan, Israel, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Turkey, Chile, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia Subject: Terrorism, Military Affairs, Travel, Democratization, State Department, Arms Control (ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED)

[Terrorism Update]

MS. TUTWILER: I want to give you a brief update on terrorism around the world, and then I have one brief statement to make on Israel. Concerning terrorism, as you know, there have been no major incidents directed against U.S. diplomatic and military facilities in the last 24 hours. There have, however, been several attacks on U.S. commercial facilities in Turkey and Chile. In Turkey, two U.S. businesses in Istanbul were bombed. Damage was minor and one employee was slightly injured. In Chile, two U.S. businesses -- Ford and Coca-Cola subsidiaries -- and two Mormon churches were bombed. There were no casualties. These attacks have not yet been claimed by any one group. Similar attacks in Turkey within the last week were claimed by Dev Sol, protesting U.S. involvement in the Gulf war. In Lebanon, a French bank was bombed in Baalbek, and a Saudi bank was bombed in Beirut. These and other recent attacks in Lebanon have been directed at the interests of nations participating in the multinational coalition. One person was killed in yesterday's Baalbek bombing. There continue to be demonstrations in various cities but no reports of damage to U.S. facilities. Some Embassies have also received telephone bomb threats, but checks have found that has been nothing.

[Iraqi Missle Attack on Israel]

Concerning yesterday's unprovoked Iraqi missile attack against Israel, it demonstrates once again that we are dealing with a regime prepared to use all means of terror against innocents in pursuit of its goals. We condemn this brutal act and extend our sympathy to the families of the victims. The Government and people of Israel have shown extraordinary restraint, courage and resolve during this crisis. Both the President and the Secretary have expressed their sorrow over these unprovoked attacks and their deep appreciation for Israeli restraint. And we want the Government and people of Israel to know that the United States will continue to stand by Israel in the days ahead. Jim? Q On the first items, terrorism, has the State Department been able to see any pattern in these? Is there apparently any overall direction from anybody? A Not that I'm aware of. No. And in my briefings that has not been brought up. Q And there's still been no credible specific threats in this country? A Correct. As of when I came down here to brief. Q Is there evidence that Iraq is trying to step up any sort of network activity along the terrorist lines? Are there any Iraqi fingerprints on anything that you are seeing, either intended or things that have already happened? A Other than the public statements that have been made over the last -- what is it now? -- almost six months that they would resort to terrorists, that they would send out terrorist personnel -- for lack of a better word. Those are the only things that I can tell you that are concrete -- their own public statements that they were going to use terrorists. Q But what is your threat assessment? Are you seeing indications, without being specific, that there are Iraqi-motivated cells or groups or individuals that are moving out with intent? A Not that has been expressed to me in any of the briefings that I've had. I'll be happy to talk after the briefing again with Ambassador Busby and re-ask that question. But that has not been brought up in any discussion I've had with him. Q When you're praising Israel for extraordinary restraint, is that the sort of thing that the Secretary told the Israelis yesterday -- do you know? -- through Larry Eagleburger: "To show extraordinary restraint?" A The Secretary spoke throughout the night and late yesterday afternoon and again very early this morning with the Deputy Secretary, and he has expressed, as the President did to Prime Minister Shamir last night -- the White House put out a statement of what the President said to the Prime Minister -- our deep sympathy and our deep appreciation. Q Do you know how many times? By the way, you said "throughout the night." I don't suppose every ten minutes he -- A I didn't count, but he has since yesterday afternoon and this attack, he has talked to the Deputy Secretary at least eight times. Q At least eight times. Well, of course, my -- the same question, though. I understand what you're doing publicly. We hear that. We heard the President's statement yesterday. Yours is a day later. But the question is, is the United States telling Israel to show restraint? While you're praising it, is that what you're counselling them to do? A The United States stands with Israel in defending against Iraqi aggression. The United States is, has it has been for many years, committed to the security of Israel. We recognize and respect the right of every sovereign state to defend itself, and thus have never questioned Israel's right to respond to attack. We also recognize and respect Israel's desire not to be drawn into this conflict and greatly admire Israel's restraint in the face of Iraq's deliberate and murderous effort to widen the conflict caused by its aggression against Kuwait. Q You know, it's often -- one last one, though. It's become a sort of a cliche, a truism even, an axiom, that somehow if Israel defended itself by hitting Iraq, that this would weaken the coalition. Isn't it possible that if Israel participated, that Israel's force would enhance the coalition? That there would be another active and fairly powerful nation fighting for the same end the United States is fighting? Is that possible? A That is a speculative question for me, Barry. I will restate for you, which I know you're very, very familiar with, as has been enunciated throughout since hostilities began, by our President, by Mr. Eagleburger who's there on the ground, by our Secretary of State of what our policy is concerning this situation. Q Margaret, the statement -- Q Can you tell us -- A I'll be back. Yes, Saul. Q Can you tell me first, will Eagleburger now stay there as long as the threat to Israel continues, or how long, or what do you see about that? Second, how are we reacting in addition to expressing our appreciation? Are we expressing appreciation in any more tangible way aside from the Patriots, and what is our response initially to reports that the Israelis are going to be asking for some added aid and help in various ways? A To your three questions, the first answer is that the Deputy Secretary is there for -- there's no fixed time on when he will be returning. Your second question had to do with, I believe, "Are there any more tangible things that we can point to that we are doing for Israel." I don't have something tangible this morning to announce. And, three, concerning the meeting the Deputy Secretary had yesterday with the Israeli Finance Minister concerning a suggestion of $13 billion, I spoke with the Deputy this morning in Israel, and he said: Yes, this subject was discussed; that he made no commitments; that he listened, and that he said he would report back to Washington. We do not have that full report yet, and, when we get it, it will be given our full consideration. Q But he said something to the Israelis to the effect, you know, "We won't forget what you're doing." Something to that effect? When in all of these eight phone calls, surely we're doing something else besides expressing outrage. A I said that we have continued to express, and the President did again last night when he spoke with the Prime Minister, the Deputy Secretary saw the Prime Minister briefly this morning. We have continued to express privately what we are expressing publicly, that is our deep appreciation and our heartfelt sympathy for the innocent victims of this aggression by Saddam Hussein. Q Margaret, you said that the United States would give full consideration to the Israeli aid request. What do you see as the possibility of using some of the aid that's been donated by some of the larger Arab states for Israel? A That is purely speculative for me. The reason I have to address the question the way that I am is that we do not have Deputy Secretary Eagleburger's full report, and we're waiting for that report. But our initial reaction to this meeting with the Finance Minister yesterday is that we would give full consideration to this, and I believe it is being characterized -- correct me, if I'm wrong -- by the Israeli Finance Ministry as not even an official request yet. So this is how we would characterize the discussions that are going on at this moment. Q Margaret, the statement that you gave us in response to one of Barry's question is almost word for word what Eagleburger said -- A It is. Q -- a couple of days ago before the latest Scud attack. Is it still your understanding that Israel does not want to be drawn into the conflict? A I'm not going to characterize Israeli views on this. No one in our government has. Just this morning their Defense Minister was on an American network giving an interview. I could refer you to any number of Israeli officials who are speaking on behalf of their country concerning their policy in this situation. Q Just to follow up, Arens said -- and I'm paraphrasing -- "We are fighting the same enemy." Those words don't suggest that they are staying totally removed from the conflict any longer. A I'm just am going to refrain from characterizing Israeli policy. They are speaking, as they should, for their country. They are all over the record on this -- any number of officials from the Prime Minister on down -- and it is appropriate that they continue to respond on behalf of their country. Q Why don't you speak to U.S. policy and say why it's good, why it's appreciated, if Israel exercises restraint? Why is that the right thing to do? A I'm not going -- Q What is the benefit that accrues to the U.S.? A I'm not going to analyze United States' policy. I have stated what the policy is. Q No. You don't have to analyze it. Just tell me. "What are you talking about?" is all I'm asking you. A I think you know very well what we're talking about. Q No, I don't. I haven't heard it in a long time. I haven't heard it since before the war about the Arab coalition falling apart, because, you see, subsequently Syrians, Egyptians, Kuwaitis, and it's even suggested the Saudis, have actually whispered that they would all understand if Israel retaliated when civilians are killed. So I don't even know what the United States -- what coalition you're trying to hold together. Certainly, the French and the British are not going to run away. Why is it greatly appreciated that Israel not respond to being attacked? A For the very obvious reasons that you know only too well, and when you just named those countries and said they have whispered, I believe any number of -- Q No. Some of them actually said it. A -- of those officials have been on the record on behalf of their countries stating what their policy is. I will just simply continue to enunciate what United States policy is, as has been most recently enunciated to the Prime Minister last night by our President. Q But I'm just asking you -- A I'm not going to answer. Q You say you're sticking to the policy. But I'd like to hear a sentence or two of the policy. Why does the United States want Israel to exercise restraint? Why? A I haven't said that we have, have I, Barry? I have said that we appreciate -- Q Well, why do you appreciate -- excuse me -- very good. Why do you appreciate Israel exercising restraint? A For the very obvious reasons that I am not going to into any detail on. It is a United States policy that we appreciate Israel's restraint which is Israel's decision, Israel's choice, which we also publicly state at every opportunity and that we appreciate it. It's as simple as that. Q Margaret, do you have anything on burden-sharing efforts to get Japan, Germany, and others to help pay for all this? A No. The Secretary has been working on that yesterday and again today, but I don't have any announcements to make. Q Is Armitage back? A I heard he was. But, then, when I checked this morning I couldn't get it definitely confirmed. But I can confirm that he did not visit any other countries. If he's not physically back, my understanding is he's certainly enroute back. Q To Washington? A That's my understanding, yes. Q In light of his visit, Margaret, can you say anything about the United States relations with Jordan? A I don't have anything to add to the record that's not already out there. Q Margaret, obviously, our concerns about terrorism are continuing. Have we asked or been offered any information from our new ally, Syria, which obviously has the best information on terrorists since they had ties with many of them prior to the alliance? Have they offered to help us identify, locate either threats or possible terrorists? A I know that Ambassador Busby weeks before January 15, as we have talked about before, has been working with any number of countries. I honestly don't have that list for you, Susan, around the world. I will check after the briefing and see if Syria is one of the countries that he has been working with in his efforts on counter-terrorism. I just don't know off the top of my head. Q Do you have any comment on alleged air strikes on holy shrines in Iraq? I understand that the U.S. doesn't like to talk about targets that it's hitting. If you are hitting some of the most holy places in the Moslem world, it would be interesting to know why? A One, I don't want to lay a precedent for the State Department starting to comment on targets. You, as well as anybody in this room, understands, that is a Pentagon question. I will, though, be more than glad, without getting into specifics of military matters and targeting, say that the United States and this Administration has maintained from the beginning of this conflict that our targets are military and we've gone to great lengths to avoid involving civilians. Our quarrel is not with the Iraqi people. It is with Saddam Hussein. Given Saddam's track record and the lengths he's willing to go to with his aggression, I'd be very cautious about accepting Iraqi claims about anything. This man has repeatedly demonstrated the unreliability of his word to his own people, to his Arab neighbors, and to the world. I also would point out that General Powell, General Schwarzkopf, Secretary Cheney have all commented on this and said that they are very sensitive to collateral damage in areas and that they are very concerned about collateral damage, making sure that no innocent civilians are killed or injured and that they're very sensitive to cultural and religious sites within the area. Q Margaret -- A Yes, John. Q -- my apologies. I came in late and you may have covered this subject before I came in. But does the State Department have any concern about the fact that the Japanese government was originally scheduled to announce a new contribution to the responsibility-sharing effort in the Gulf and, today, called off or delayed the press conference at which that was supposed to be announced? A No. Q Are you satisfied with the level of Japanese commitment? A I did answer -- I don't know if you were here or not, for David, a littler earlier -- that Secretary Baker spent some part of yesterday and again this morning working on responsibility-sharing with various countries around the world. I don't have any specifics to announce at this time, and I'm not aware that other governments at this time have specifics to announce. Q But could you tell us whether you are satisfied with the level of the announced intention of the Japanese? A They haven't announced it; correct? Q There have been press reports as to a level of $9 billion, I think, from the Japanese. A I obviously, couldn't pre-empt an announcement or discussions that may or may not be going on between our two governments if those discussions are in progress and are still continuing. Q Margaret, can you identify any of the countries that the Secretary is talking to on this subject? A He hasn't personally, as of this briefing, spoken to any of the countries. This has been internal. Doyle, as you know, this is an interagency process. As of the briefing, he has not yet spoken with people again; and I'll remind you, we just took a trip not two weeks ago where this very subject for 1991 responsibility-sharing was discussed in his conversations with many countries. Q Yeah, but there was never any public disclosure of any of the outcome of that trip. He went to many, many capitals and he was moot on the subject of what he got or didn't get. A There could be a very valid and logical reason. At that point, there had not been any outbreak of hostilities. As I've said in the past, he mentioned to each one of the heads of state that should hostilities break out that, obviously, we would have to look again at the numbers because the cost, obviously, goes up. Q Margaret, what exactly is Deputy Secretary Eagleburger -- A I'm sorry. What, Candy? Q What is Eagleburger doing in Israel? How would you characterize what his mission is there currently? A As one of the most senior representatives of this government, this Administration -- a man that Israel has known well for many, many years -- his mission throughout has been to head up a political and military delegation. He is there on theground to answer questions that Israeli officials may have or to be a relay to the Pentagon or the State Department. As you know, the Under Secretary of the Pentagon is there also. It was a way for the President, as he has said himself, to demonstrate his genuine concern over the situation there, and Larry is there to be of whatever help he can be in the situation. Q A daily question: Has there been any contact with the Iraqis? A No. Q Is there anything you can add at all about the Armitage meeting beyond the Gulf? Did they talk about the Gulf war? A They talked about the Gulf. Q Do you have any other secret emissaries out there you'd like to tell us about? A None that I personally know of. Q That's good. You'll find out before most of us. A I don't know. Q Margaret, the former Prime Minister of Pakistan, Benazir Bhutto, is here in the U.S. Are there any plans of meeting anybody from the State Department? A Not that I've heard of. I'm not sure that she's requested any, and I'm aware because I've seen her on our TV doing interviews. But I haven't heard of a request to see anyone, and I don't know if she has or not. I'll be happy to look into it. Q Any new terrorist activities in India (inaudible) Pakistan which took place earlier? A Nothing over the last 24 hours, as of this briefing. Q Margaret, could you provide a readout later -- Q (Inaudible) A There's not. Q -- on the meetings on Mongolia? A What, Jan? Q Could you provide a readout later of the Mongolian meetings? A Sure. Q Margaret, are the arms control negotiators still meeting? A Yes, they are. The characterizations for you would be that work remains. Q Have they made any progress at all? Q That sort of explains why they're still here, doesn't it? If it was over, they'd be gone, wouldn't they? A Definitely, work remains. Q "Work remains." Can we quote you on that? Q Is CFE still a problem? A On the Record. What? Q Is CFE still a problem? A I can't characterize either as a problem. I can only relate that there is work to be done. Q Yesterday, you said that the START talks were making progress. Today, you don't seem to be characterizing it in the same fashion? A I don't believe I said yesterday they're making progress. Q Yes, you did. A "Progress," I said? Q Well, maybe it wasn't as bold as that. Maybe you just said -- maybe you said something like "headway." A I don't think I used the word "progress." Q That's all right. You don't want to say too much at once here. A I don't want to be too forthcoming. Q You're not. A I know. Q Margaret, are there any other actions on U.S.-Soviet relations since last night? A Since last night? Q Yes. A No. Q No new sanctions, statements? A Excuse me? Q No new sanctions, statements, or admonitions to provide? A No. Q One of the Baltic leaders yesterday said that he had urged the Secretary to send a high level delegation to the Baltics to show recognition for their independent struggle and whatever. Is there any consideration being given to this, or have you decided to do it? A There are any number of options and things that the United States is looking at possibly doing. This could be one such thing, but I'm not here making an announcement saying that it is something the United States is going to do. As you know, we've already announced that our Consulate General from Leningrad is there; that we have employees in each of the Baltics. So as far as a high-level person going, there's absolutely no decision on that. But I want to be straightforward and honest and say there are any number of options that are being looked at. Q Is this one of them? A Yes. I said this would be one of them. Q The summit still on? A The White House answers that question. The latest answer on that is that it's still up in the air. Q Margaret, concerning the possibility of a delegation going to the Baltics, have you discussed it with Moscow? Would visas be forthcoming? A I said this is one of many options. Since a decision has not been made concerning this possibility, there's no reason to move the train on down the road and pursue those types of things. This is just one, so please be careful on how you report this, of any number of ideas, options, things that people are thinking about. Q What are some of the others? A I just don't want to get into them. Q Is there any progress on the CSCE mechanism? A I didn't check on that today. I'll be happy to ask and see. Q (Inaudible) A Right. Q Margaret, the U.S. Ambassador to India is back in Washington. Do you have any idea, any -- A I didn't know he was back. I'm sure it's for normal consultations, but I'll be happy to check into it for you. Q Thank you. A Thank you all. (Press briefing concluded at 12:32 p.m.) (###)