US Department of State Daily Briefing #18: Wednesday,1/30/91

Tutwiler Source: State Department Spokesman Margaret Tutwiler Description: 12:15 pm; Washington, DC Date: Jan 30, 19911/30/91 Category: Briefings Region: E/C Europe, MidEast/North Africa, Eurasia Country: Israel, Iraq, USSR (former), Estonia, Lithuania, Kuwait Subject: Arms Control, Military Affairs, Democratization, Human Rights (ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED) MS. TUTWILER: I don't have any statements. I envision that you have some questions. I'll be happy to -- Q I don't know why you think we have questions. A I think you might, and I might have a few answers that are prepared. Q Just for the historical record, can you go through with us the genesis of the communique, or the joint statement that was issued last night, and at what point the White House became involved, if at all? A I haven't asked, to be honest with you, for a tic-tock of how this came about. I don't know. As you know, Dennis Ross is the official notetaker who attends the meeting with Secretary Baker. It didn't occur to me, to be quite honest, to ask, "Have we notified the White House?" I don't know. To be honest with you, we do not -- I can't think of any occasions, off the top of my head, when we're out on the road, etc., where we would call. If you say, "Notify the White House," I don't know the literal answer to that. It's not something I've dealt with this morning. To be perfectly honest with you, the only surprise last night -- it was a surprise to me as well. When I left here at five minutes of seven, everything was calm and quiet. I didn't know there was going to be a statement. In fact, my understanding was the plan was that the statement was just going to be posted. You all had a stakeout. The Foreign Minister, which was not planned, began reading from portions of the statement. That's the evolution that I'm aware of. And, obviously, became aware of it when I started getting phone calls from you all at home. Q Could I just follow that? A Can I do one more thing, Jim? Q Sure. Go ahead. A One part of your question, which I do know, was -- many of you have asked, "Why, what was the point?" The point was, as you all know, since the Foreign Minister arrived here on Saturday, he had made some statements in Moscow that he himself said had been misinterpreted. He answered your questions here in the State Department lobby. On Monday, he continued to get these questions on the White House yard. He, again, answered them concerning where the Soviet Union was. Yesterday, I believe it was Carol who asked me at the end of the briefing, "There are reports coming out of the Soviet Union -- out of Moscow -- that there are new peace plans." So, basically, the Ministers decided that this was an opportunity to put these rumors to rest; to put to rest any concerns that somehow the Soviets were somehow retreating from their positions on the Gulf crisis. That is simply what this joint statement was designed to show, that there is -- which I think it does show -- absolutely no gap between the United States and the Soviet Union concerning the Gulf. Q Can I interpolate what you're saying as meaning that the Soviet Foreign Minister released this joint statement on his own, without prior consultation with the Americans? A No, absolutely not. I didn't say that. I said that -- Q You didn't know about it. A -- our plan was -- as you know, the 24 months that he's been Secretary of State, when the Secretary feels that he has something to say to you, he does. When there is a joint statement, as there was in Moscow, which definitely in our opinion had new news in it, he and the Foreign Minister stood there together and read that statement, once in Russian and once in English. Obviously, by the Secretary of State not even coming down last night, we did not, in all candor, view this as any big deal. I have to be perfectly candid with you. That is why he was not down here. He was not having a joint press conference. The Foreign Minister, I don't think intended to read, and I don't think he did, the entire statement. You all had a stakeout and started asking him questions. Our original plan was just to post it last night. Q The Foreign Minister himself, though, said that he thought it was a very big deal, and, in fact, made the point to us that this had been the first time in quite a few years that the U.S. and the Soviet Union had made quite a Joint Statement on the Middle East.

[Joint US-USSR Statement on Conditions for Peace]

A I would have to -- I don't mean to refute the new Foreign Minister, because they both had a really, really good meeting, but I would only refer you to President Bush and President Gorbachev's Helsinki statement of September 9, 1990. I will read to you what it says: "The Presidents direct their Foreign Ministers to work with countries in the region and outside to develop regional security structures and measures to promote peace and stability. It is essential to work actively to resolve all remaining conflicts in the Middle East and the Persian Gulf. Both sides will continue to consult each other and initiate measures to pursue these broader objectives at the proper time." Q Margaret, the Israelis -- at least, some voices in Israel -- are already saying that they see this as linkage, the fact that future security arrangements are discussed in the same statement as the possibility of a ceasefire and withdrawal from Kuwait. What's your position? A Our position is that that is a total and complete misreading of the statement. There is absolutely no linkage in this statement. It clearly does not call for linkage. It says, "In the aftermath of the conflict, we should work to promote regional peace and stability, address arms control in the area, and that there should be a meaningful Arab-Israeli peace process." The Foreign Minister of the Soviet Union, here at the State Department, last night, when asked this question twice by you all, said, "No," on both occasions, "this is not linkage." Secretary Baker has said everything that was in this statement on any number of occasions in his tenure as Secretary of State, both to members of the press and in public testimony. In fact, you are aware that Secretary of State Baker made these very points to Foreign Minister Tariq Aziz in Geneva. If you go back and look at a transcript of that press conference, he reported that to you all. The President, as you know, in his October 1 speech to the United Nations, said, "In the aftermath of Iraq's unconditional departure from Kuwait, I truly believe there may be opportunities for Iraq and Kuwait to settle their differences permanently; for the states of the Gulf themselves, to build new arrangements for stability; and for all the states and the peoples of the region, to settle the conflicts that divide the Arabs from Israel." I've already referred you to the Helsinki statement by Gorbachev and Bush of September 9, 1990. I would tell you, which we have constantly maintained, that linkage means Iraqi withdrawal is conditioned. We have always said that. That is our policy -- conditioned on specific moves to settle the Palestinian issue and, at a minimum, convening of an international conference. The joint statement last night makes no mention whatsoever of any conditionality or of an international conference. In our opinion, there is absolutely nothing new here. It was simply a restatement of U.S.-Soviet steadfastness on the situation in the Gulf. Q Margaret, can you give us an example -- if you have one -- of what a meaningful peace process would be? Because the statement refers to the need for a meaningful peace process. A It's the same phrase that I've heard the Secretary use for 24 months that he's been in office. As you know, for 14 months of his tenure, he worked very, very hard to get there and that was the phrase that I'm most familiar with that he used. Q So you think -- well, not that you think. Do you know, when he speaks of a meaningful peace process, he means, for example, the Shamir proposal that he was working so hard on? Is that the meaningful peace process? A Without answering your future tense question, obviously, the proposal that he spent 14 months on -- and you're well aware of how many hours and days he spent on it -- he obviously was engaged in what he viewed as a very meaningful exercise. Q You see, when people talk about linkage and when the United Stated swatted down, or at least disassociated itself from various pre-war overtures by various individuals and nations, they almost invariably held out the incentive of a Middle East peace conference. And the United States -- A The United States didn't. Q No, no, the others did, and that's why the United States objected. That was the center of the U.S. objection, that it was a linkage promising -- offering Saddam Hussein a Mideast peace conference linked to withdrawing from Kuwait. This statement speaks of a meaningful peace process. So if it isn't a Middle East peace conference, what is it? A Barry, our policy on a Middle East peace conference, as you know, is very well known. It was the policy prior to this Administration. The exact phraseology of it, as I recall, is at the appropriate time -- Q (Inaudible) properly structured? A Correct -- properly structured. Q Well, that was my other question. A I'm not sure I'm following what your questions are. Q Well, all right, here's a shorter one. The urgency with which this statement refers to the need to address the Arab-Israeli dispute sounds as if you've decided the time is appropriate. Have you? Has that bridge been crossed now? A I'm not familiar that the word "urgent" is used anywhere in this statement. Q I didn't say it was. A I told you that if you want to characterize the urgency of this statement -- the State Department posted it last night. Q What is meant by the words which have to do with the fact that after Iraqi withdrawal, this process, in consultation with other parties of the region, "Will be greatly facilitated and enhanced." If that doesn't mean "urgent," what does it mean? A That is no different, in my mind, than the statement I just read to you that the President made in October to the United Nations, or that the President and President Gorbachev made in Helsinki. Or, if you want something more current, take Foreign Minister Meguid who, yesterday, spoke to the press at the White House afterwards. This issue is something that is no secret. Any number of world leaders and Foreign Ministers are saying it is something that they've looked at for many, many years and should be looked at. But they all, to my knowledge -- and I'm sure there are a few that are not, obviously. Yemen comes to mind and a few others. They say: Absolutely, positively, Saddam Hussein should not be rewarded for his aggression by linking these two issues. That hasn't changed at all by this statement. Q Margaret, doesn't it seem to link the two statements when you say that once Saddam Hussein withdraws, then we're going to begin this urgent search for peace on behalf of all parties in the region -- the Arabs and the Palestinians, and particularly singling out the Palestinians -- and saying that we're going to do it on a greatly facilitated and enhanced basis? A Did you feel that it links the issues when they're both mentioned in the Helsinki statement? Q They weren't. A And I just read it this morning. Get the Helsinki statement. Q This is different language. Q And this is a different time. There's now a war going on. Whereas, for days, you and other officials have said, "No pause for peace, no cessation of hostilities." This statement makes specific reference to cessation of hostilities, the conditions under which that would be possible. And then goes on to say, "And by the way, we're going to work on Arab-Israeli conflicts." Q With the added weight of it being two countries, two important countries making that statement. That's right. Q In writing. Q It's a combination of timing and who it is that is signing on the dotted line here. A Just like the statement does not call for linkage, it does not call for a pause for peace or a ceasefire or change our policy one iota. I know that you're very familiar with the operative paragraph -- on my copy it's Page 2, Paragraph 2. It states that "No such cessation is possible in the absence of an unequivocal commitment." It discusses immediate and concrete steps. It calls for the full implementation of U.S. Security Council resolutions. Not one word of that is any different than what we have consistently said since January 16. Q You said "no such cessation is possible." This says, "A cessation of hostilities would be possible if Iraq would make an unequivocal commitment to withdraw from Kuwait." A I'm sorry, I misspoke on that part -- "Unequivocal commitment, immediate, and concrete steps, calls for full implementation." What is new there? Q "Commitment" is different than a total withdrawal. The statement -- it isn't new, frankly. A It's not. Q It's the same kind of statement -- but the time is different. The statement was made before the war. You've rejected any -- A I know we've talked (inaudible) pauses for peace since the war. Q No, no. What I'm saying is, the notion that the last Iraqi troop doesn't have to leave Kuwait before -- A No, sir. Q -- the United States would engage -- it's not a new statement. A President Bush has answered these questions to your colleagues at the White House on any number of occasions. I did not have time this morning, so I do not have with me every transcript of how he's answered this, but he's been asked these question. As my memory serves me -- and it's been since hostilities broke out -- he has said something along the lines of, when asked a hypothetical question, "That is a hypothetical but it is something that we would have to look at." Q What is different, Margaret, is the fact that the same conditions which you offered Saddam Hussein on the last day before the war began are now being offered to him after 13 days of kicking him in the shins. Q If you commit, then the bombs will stop is what this appears to be saying. Q It seems to be offering him a way to end the war now that he's had a sample of it? A I don't believe there has been any confusion -- certainly, not on the part of this Administration -- since the hostilities broke out. If Saddam Hussein does what the United Nations calls for, which is withdraw from Kuwait -- we've gone through this a number of times here in this room -- the U.N. does not call for continuing hostilities. It's an obvious. We have said every -- wait one second. We have said that he has not given one single, to date -- unless he has while I've been on this podium -- indication, shred of evidence, that he has any intention of withdrawing from Kuwait. Q But, Margaret, the difference here is that you're now talking about an unequivocal commitment; not actual withdrawal. Could you please define for us what's an "unequivocal commitment?" How does the State Department -- what would constitute an unequivocal commitment? Q One with concrete steps; right? Q What are concrete steps, Margaret? What is an unequivocal commitment? A Mary, I'd say, for starters, removing your troops, which has been said to him, from Day One, on August 2. Q All of them? A The U.N. sanctions are very clear that he must have a total and complete withdrawal. On a hypothetical, which is what I just answered, I've said the President has addressed himself to this, when asked by your colleagues at the White House, the hypothetical questions: "Would you, sir, continue" -- I'm paraphrasing now. I don't have it in front me, the direct quotes -- "If he says he's going to withdraw, if he begins to move a number of his troops out," That is how I remember these questions coming to the President. He said -- and go check the record -- something along the lines of, "I would have to look at that, but it's a complete withdrawal." So he's answered this. Q Margaret, can we go back to the linkage question for a minute? A Sure. Q How do you address the perception, which is far beyond this room, that the juxtaposition -- A I don't know. Q -- that the juxtaposition of the offer for a ceasefire, if you will, under the proper conditions, and the offer of a comprehensive effort to settle the Middle East question in the same document, brings peoples' expectations that this is something new? You may have said the same things before -- A I really don't know why -- Q -- but you have never put them in this kind of relationship before? A I'll be as honest with you as I can. I was doing this last night until after midnight on the phone with any number of you all. I don't know why -- wait, Saul, one second. If you read the statement, and you read it in its entirety, you tell me, what is new substantively in this statement? Show me a new thought. Show me a new substantive point. Show me a new policy. It's not there. Q It's the juxtaposition. A They did it in Helsinki. (TO STAFF) Do you have a copy of the entire Helsinki statement? Can we get it? Because it deals with the first -- Q (Inaudible) A But so what. You're making the same point. Why didn't you say it then. Q There wasn't a war on then. Q Then why do it? Then why did you do it, if there's -- A I told you what the reason was for doing this. Any number of people -- you asked me yesterday. You're an example. (Note handed to Spokesman) Thank you. People were asking questions since the Foreign Minister arrived here on Saturday: of him, his colleagues, and of us. You all have asked me, two days running: "Has the Soviet Union changed its policy? Does the Soviet Union have a new peace plan?" This was an attempt, which I have told you -- and I know how we handled it last night -- we posted it in the Press Office -- to say, to knock down, to show there is no gap on this issue of the Gulf crisis between the United States and the Soviet Union. Q Margaret, isn't it just possible that over four days of the Soviet Foreign Minister's meeting, in a joint effort to end the slide in U.S.-Soviet relations -- which have taken a kind of nasty turn, you could admit; I think others would -- that there's some horse-trading involved. The United States lined up with the Soviet view, for instance, that the objective is to get the Iraqis out of Kuwait, not to pulverize Iraq, which is what -- A We've already stated that. Q But Bessmertnykh was saying it in Moscow; you're saying it here. Every time he ran -- A The President said it just this week. Q -- into a reporter, he would say it again. And he was finally asked, "Do you have another approach?" He didn't have one. In this practical world -- and I suppose I don't expect you to say "yes" -- didn't the United States trade off something on the Gulf to get the Soviets to agree to take their outside forces out of the Baltic republics? A You're right, I'm not going to say "yes". Q No trade off? You've got them on the Baltics and they've got you on the Middle East -- that's what happened. A You're also a little incorrect. The President of the United States gave a major speech this week to -- I believe it was religious broadcasters here in this city. And in that speech, he once again stated, as he did last night, that our objective is not the destruction of Iraq. He has said that umpteen thousand times. So there's another point that's in this statement that's not new. On the Helsinki statement, I can tell you that the first page deals with Iraq and its aggression, which is what I believe this is doing. If you look at the last paragraph of the last page, which is what I read to you -- that addresses itself to future issues in the region. Q Margaret, then, what you seem to be saying is that this is all -- A It's no big deal -- the statement. Q -- this is all in our minds and we're making all of this up, and this is somehow -- A I didn't say you're making it up. Q -- this is somehow just a communication screw-up. Is that the defense of the Administration? A I think that it is -- I understand you're running on something, but you're running on a really thin reed. There's nothing new here. There is nothing new here. Q That's not the point -- Q Margaret, did the Secretary call up the Israelis and tell them this, by the way? They're all excited. A The Secretary did not talk to the Foreign Minister last night. As is routine, any number of officials here talked to other officials from other countries. Dennis Ross spoke with the Israeli Ambassador last night. Q I understand. But the Israelis didn't react until this morning. Today, has there been any contact that you know of? A Today? Q Yeah. A I don't know of any and I don't why there would be. Dennis gave, as we do with many officials, not only this statement but the entire three days of -- as we do with many, many countries all around the world, when the two Foreign Ministers meet -- Dennis gave the Israeli Ambassador a full brief of the 3-day visit of the Foreign Minister. Q When? A Last night. I didn't ask him specifically what time. Q And the statement, too, I suppose. A Gave him the statement? Q Or told him of -- A Dennis, he was on the phone. I don't know if he even asked for the statement. Q You don't understand why there might be a reason to do a personal phone call to the Israelis when the Prime Minister of Israel says, "Not only were we not consulted, we deplore what they have done." Obviously, there is a misunderstanding. A And the Israeli Foreign Minister, in my wire copy by a man named Jack Redden, says: "There are no new principles beyond what they have said and what was known," Shamir told reporters. Q I wonder why he deplores it? A I haven't seen his "deplore" comment, but I've got this one. I've told you that his -- Q Is the other one still in the clips or has it been cut out? A -- Ambassador last night -- late last night -- maybe he had not had a chance to, because of the time change, get a full debrief from his own Ambassador. I don't know how their system works -- if he was fully briefed on the entire 3-day meeting. Q The other one is in the restricted FBIS file? A I don't know. Q It's an inside joke. A I don't know. I thought we stopped that. Q We'll explain it later. It's an insult. A That's all been corrected. David. Q You said that the reason that this statement was put out was because there was a feeling -- at least from the U.S. point of view -- there was a feeling that there might have been a misunderstanding -- A And there is. Q -- of what the Soviet Ambassador was trying to say about the Gulf war? I don't see anywhere in here that this statement contradicts or pedals back from what Foreign Minister Bessmertnykh has been saying. He's been saying -- A I think you were down here -- Q He's been criticizing -- he's been suggesting that there was concern in Moscow that the bombing of Iraq might be causing too many civilian casualties and too much destruction of the infrastructure of Iraq? A That's right. Q It doesn't seem to me this statement pedals back from that at all? A You were down here Saturday because you were lucky enough to be working as I was. John wasn't here that day. You remember very well what the big line was that day because before he had left the Soviet Union, he had given -- I guess it was at the airport -- an interview which was not exactly playing as he had intended it to come across the wires here. If I recall, one of the very first questions that you all asked the Foreign Minister was: "Has your policy changed concerning the Gulf?" At the photo-op, it was Don Oberdorfer, as I remember, who asked the Foreign Minister, "Sir, these wires have just come over. Can you tell us what your policy is?" His exact response was, "That is a misinterpretation of what I said." So it started from the moment he sat down in Secretary Baker's office with the first photo-op. Then it was down in the lobby. Then it was at the White House. Then it was at the podium here. So that is what this was an attempt to do. And you're right, it does clear up that there is no difference in the United States and the Soviet Union concerning the Gulf, which was where the stories were going. Q I beg to question that. He may have said, as you have suggested, downstairs on Saturday, that there was misinterpretation of -- A Also upstairs. Q -- what he tried to say, or upstairs. But he did not pedal back from -- in fact, repeated the same comments he made at Sheremetyevo about -- A Iraqi destruction. Q -- concern in Moscow that the United States and allied bombing of Iraq might be causing excessive civilian casualties and excessive damage to the infrastructure? A It's not what he said. Q It's exactly what he said. Q (Inaudible) A That there could be "a danger in". But he was very, very clear in stating that their policy hasn't changed. We have the transcripts in the Press Office that I'll be happy to give you. Q Was it not those comments of concern that it could become -- all right, fair enough -- concern that it could become -- could reach to that kind of level? Was that the reason that you wanted to have this statement, this Joint Statement? A I've stated the reason why they wanted to have this Joint Statement, which -- I've answered, David -- goes to make sure that we have shown there is no gap -- which was being speculated on by some members of the media -- in the Soviet Union's and U.S.'s stances concerning the Gulf. This was the new Foreign Minister of the Soviet Union's first visit here. I can't speak for him. Maybe he felt it was necessary to make sure that this was On the Record. I can't answer that. But I know the driving thinking process or force behind issuing or dropping this statement. Q One last thing. Did you not think it is new? Just one last thing. Do you not think it is new for the two powers to commit themselves to a greatly enhanced -- a greatly facilitated and enhanced effort to achieve Arab-Israeli peace after the war is over? Is that not a new thing for them to do? A I do not. Do you think that's that radically different than what President Bush and President Gorbachev said in September? Not really. Q But the point is that this is -- A It's in a Joint Communique from Helsinki where they commit themselves to the importance of this issue. Q That was before the war. A So, does it mean because a war started you still don't have those principles and care about that issue? I don't see that. Q Margaret, this is an experienced Administration with experienced people in it who finally understand the art of nuance in Washington. How is it possible that this Administration could put out a statement like this which could so easily be misinterpreted by apparently everybody in this room and not understand that it would be misinterpreted? That strains credulity. A Now, I have to be fair here and say that I have read and seen any number of the reports that people sitting in this room have written, and there is no misunderstanding on a number of people's reporting of this. The substance of what is in this statement is nothing new. Q Margaret, if we're not talking about substance, we're talking about timing. A Timing? Q Timing. Let us say that it's a restatement of what has been said before the war -- A And since the war started. Q But this comes after the war has begun, and it talks about a ceasefire. Now it may be obvious that if they start pulling out, we're not going to go chasing after them and kill them as they leave. Nevertheless, this is a statement apparently requested or at the behest of Mr. Bessmertnykh, and the timing of it is such as to hold out to Saddam one more reed, one more possibility, that he might lean on to stop the war. Has it been conveyed -- do you know what the Soviets are going to do to go on with this to see whether there's been -- going to be any response? Is there going to be any follow-up on this? Any suggestion that it would be conveyed to Hussein by the Soviets in another attempt at peace? A I have never heard that mentioned, and to be honest, Saul -- and I appreciate your question -- I don't know what Saddam Hussein would learn by reading this statement that he doesn't already know. I really don't. Q He's now had 13 days of pounding. He now knows that we would go to war. I mean, that's what's different. A Well, yes. I mean, he knows that. Q So now the Soviets and the United States are suggesting the same thing over again, perhaps, but that it could stop -- the pounding could stop if he -- A Well, maybe he never -- you know -- Q -- if he begins to pull out. A -- he's dense and never knew that. But, I mean -- Q But he didn't know that we -- A Well, then I mean, he'd have to -- I mean -- Q He didn't really know that we'd go to war until we went to war. We didn't know that we'd go to war until we did. A On November 29, the international community said, "All necessary means." Q So this is not being followed up on? There is no suggestion that the Soviets or anybody else are going to convey this to Hussein? A Well, I know the United States is not. I can't speak to whether the Foreign Minister thinks that there's something new here, and he's going to send a Soviet there to translate this. I don't know that. I've never heard that mentioned. Q Margaret, let me follow that question about timing -- A Sure, Doyle. Q -- with another question about timing. Yesterday, you'll recall, you were asked and the Soviets briefed in some detail in Moscow on a Gulf initiative that Bessmertnykh was ostensibly bringing for the President and the Secretary. It seems notable that this statement comes immediately after Bessmertnykh presented that apparently unilateral Soviet initiative. Can you tell us, is that a cause and effect? Did we cobble this up because of that initiative? Did they present the initiative? Do you have any response to the initiative, and do you know if that initiative is alive, or has this buried it six feet in the ground? A I'm going to do something that I normally do not do. That comment that you're referring to was one-half of a sentence that the Foreign Minister made here at the State Department in one of the photo ops that he had for, I think, the third or fourth or fifth time here at the Department in the last three days. And after he said it, when he walked back down the hall with Secretary Baker, he said, "I'm not sure that I heard that question right and that my answer was correct." So that's all I have to say about that. That one statement where he said -- I think it was you who were asking yesterday about new peace plans, etc. That's the most gracious way, and I do mean this graciously -- he's in a foreign country. People shout questions. It was not an answer that he intended. Q There was also a briefing in Moscow at which Mr. Ignatenko, who's Gorbachev's spokesman -- A I heard about that. Vitaly asked me. Q Yes. Exactly. And that is in fact what I am asking about -- A Well, I can tell you that over -- Q Did that initiative ever surface? A -- three days of conversations with the Secretary of State, and I've forgotten how long the Foreign Minister met with the President, there were no new peace plans put forth. Q Were there any old peace plans? A No. Q But they did ask for this? I mean, in that three days of conversation -- A That was with Secretary Baker. Q -- that Bessmertnykh did suggest or did indicate that he would like this kind of statement. A Correct. Q Can you tell us what kinds of commitments the Soviets made with regard to the Baltics situation? A You're going to like my answers on that better than these. Q Yeah. Q Can we just stick to this for just one moment? Q Well, we'll come back to it. We're going to go round and round for hours. Answer the Baltics. A Not hours, please. The Baltics. Unfortunately, I cannot go beyond what the President said last night and flesh out any of the details concerning this. You know that the President said that we will be watching this situation as it develops and be watching it closely. This is something that the Secretary of State and the Foreign Minister discussed on more than one occasion over the three days that he was here. But I cannot flesh it out further for you on the specifics. And you know that in the President's statement last night, he said that, "We were given representations which, if fulfilled, would result in the withdrawal of some Soviet forces." And I can tell you that the situation in the Baltics today is basically as it's been over the last three or four days -- calm but tense. A Lithuanian government spokesman has reported that some Soviet troops had been seen moving out of Vilnius, a situation he described as "slightly encouraging." We, the State Department, as of this briefing, are not in a position to confirm or deny that troop movement. President Landsbergis has said that a reduction of Soviet military in Lithuania could spur negotiations. A 20-year-old Lithuanian was brought to a hospital in Vilnius yesterday with a gunshot wound to the head. There are conflicting reports about the incident which took place at a military checkpoint. As we've told you all week, we continue to have officers from our Consulate General office in Leningrad in the Baltic states, and the Consul General has just returned from a tour of these three capitals. Q Margaret, hope springs eternal, did the Soviet assurances include anything about either a timetable for a withdrawal or anything about numbers or units that might be withdrawn? A That is a level of the discussions that simply, unfortunately, I am unable to get into. Q A simple "yes" or "no" would be nice. A I know. And it would be a lot easier for me to be able to answer this question, too, but I have been specifically asked not to go further than the President's statement, and so I can't. Q Margaret, I understand -- A Yes, Jim. Q -- what you're saying -- on the joint statement, I understand what you're saying about how the intention was to show that there's no daylight between the United States and the Soviet Union on the specifics of the Gulf. But in doing so, it appears to me that in the third paragraph of my copy, you may have shown some daylight between the State Department and the rest of the U.S. Government where it says "both sides, the United States and the Soviet Union, believe everything possible should be done to avoid further escalation of the war, an expansion of its scale." If this, indeed, is U.S. Government policy, what are 520,000 troops doing sitting in that desert? A What I believe that means, Jim, is to broaden the war by having other nations somehow inject themselves in the war. I don't believe that that's new United States policy. Q But this doesn't say anything about any other nations. It says "further escalation" -- A You asked me to interpret for you what it meant. "Escalation," meaning, in my mind, other countries in the region that could somehow get drawn into this war, get in the war, start a war; have a big, much broader war. Q Margaret, can I ask you if, through whatever channels the United States uses, whether Iraq has been approached with this statement, old as you say it is, and a restatement as it may be? Has the United States tried to ask Iraq what they think of this? A Saul just asked me that question, and I said that the United States had not. Q I think he asked about the Soviet Union. A He asked the United States and the Soviet. Q Oh. A I answered the United States, no, we weren't trying to, and that I couldn't answer for the Soviet Union. I hadn't heard it mentioned that they were going to. Q And have the Iraqis come to the United States in any way through channels -- A Have they what? Q Have the Iraqis evinced any interest in this statement through channels? A None that I know of. Q Margaret, without regard to the debate over whether this statement represents new grounds, I want to go back to your original point having to do with whether Jim Baker is on the reservation. A "On the reservation?" Q Well, you said at the very beginning that you don't know if the White House was notified, and that you, yourselves, were surprised about the way the press reacted to this statement. A I said that my surprise was that there was a statement. I said the only surprise to me was that there was a statement. I left here last night on a rare occasion at five minutes to 7:00 to get home and (then I) get a call saying, "What's this statement?" So I said that was what my personal surprise was. My surprise was not in any of the substance in the two-page statement. Q My question to you is, if this Department or this Secretary had read the statement the same way many of us did, would there have been more effort to notify the White House? A I can't answer that. I don't know. We do not, and I believe you will find that the White House does not, as I believe they will tell you, there's nothing that is new in this. Yes, to be quite honest, when several of you all asked me yesterday if there was a press plan at the end of the day, I said, no, there wasn't. I did not know -- I, personally -- that there was going to be a statement. Q Margaret -- A Wait a minute, Johanna. So everybody, to be quite frank, was surprised by this. That is our fault, and that is sloppy staff work. That, I hope, we can avoid in the future, because normally we do tell you many times on background, "Yes, they're working on a statement. Yes, we think they're going to come down and have something to say." So, yes, I'm at fault for that, or we as a staff are. But not for the substance of what is in this statement. And, second of all, as far as I -- I don't know the specifics, because I didn't think it was important to ask -- Jim Anderson's question on did we notify the White House. I have to tell you that there are umpteen thousand things that the Secretary of State does with the full support and backing and authority of the President -- that we don't notify the White House as the question came to me. Q But, Margaret, you've been around this town long enough to know that when the President's Press Secretary goes ON THE RECORD, talking about this statement in terms that suggest the White House was surprised -- when the President's aides go on -- A They may have been. Q -- go ON BACKGROUND and tell every reporter in the White House that they were "blindsided" by this, and that they resented it on an evening when the President was supposed to be front and center attention with the State of the Union, that doesn't sound like the usual polished Jim Baker political savvy that we've grown accustomed to. And my question is whether -- is that because he did not think this would get the news attention that it did? A You're right. I've been around this town a lot, and so have you, and I have learned a long time ago not to respond to unnamed aides, whether they work at the White House or the State Department or the Energy Department. So I'm not going to debate with you unnamed officials who may or may not be criticizing this statement. Q How about if we name them? A Well, I think that would be unfair to your sources, wouldn't it? (Laughter) Q It's not my source. A You'd be out of business. (Laughter) Q He'll name mine, and I'll name his. A And, if you do that here at this briefing, I won't be talking to you any more. Q Would you like a question about regional issues? Q My question is did Secretary Baker underestimate -- A I've got your answer on that. Q My question has nothing to do with sources; it has to do with whether Secretary Baker underestimated the extent of this -- A I haven't asked him, Johanna. I know that Secretary Baker is not the least bit concerned concerning the substance of this issue and believes without question there is nothing new in this statement. Q Margaret, after the -- A Yes, Barry. Q -- after the Soviet Foreign Minister made no news by reading from this statement -- (laughter) -- he was heading to his limousine, and a bedraggled New York Times reporter asked him about regional issues. And he sort of said, "Yes, we did something on regional," but nobody had a chance to get into it, because we were absorbed in this non-news. (Laughter) A In the non-news. That's right. Off on a tear. Q So let me give you this opportunity to overtake this Gulf story by telling us what they -- (laughter) -- did about Angola or Ethiopia or Cambodia, whatever? A And I did see that the Foreign Minister did answer questions last night on other subjects -- i.e., CFE and START -- and I'd like to answer on our behalf on those two questions, since you normally ask me every day. On CFE, as you know, the Ministers -- I believe that the Foreign Minister mentioned that they only dealt with this subject briefly. There are no final results. The remaining issues concern: (1) the inclusion of naval, infantry and other equipment in the CFE limits; (2) data discrepancies; (3) movement of equipment east of the Urals. On START, they spent a great deal of their time yesterday on this issue. Progress was made in firming up many of the understandings that were reached in Houston. Some issues remain. Two are -- verification is the very main issue. Aspects include data denial, and there are some definition issues that are outstanding. And we have tentatively agreed upon solutions to a number of issues, but their final agreement is dependent upon agreement of several other issues. In other words, it's a package deal. Q Well, now, he's used a phrase we're not familiar with -- something about the Deputy whatever. Who is going to Geneva? A Reggie Bartholomew will be going to Geneva. I'm not sure who else is going with him. He is definitely not going this week, was his plan this morning. Q He said next week, the Soviets -- A He could go as early as next week. Q O.K. On regional -- A Regional issues -- Q How did you do on Ethiopia?

[USSR-US: Regional Issues]

A
Ethiopia
they did not discuss. That's being discussed at an experts' level. It did not come up in their meeting. They discussed Afghanistan. They agreed that experts will continue to work the issue. They expressed the importance of trying to resolve this conflict, but there's more work that remains to be done. On
Angola
, they just said they would continue to try to work out agreement between UNITA and the government. They also raised the Angola government's blocking of Red Cross and U.N. humanitarian relief efforts, which, as you know, they've raised before. The Minister of the Soviet Union pledged to look into this and do all the Soviets can to facilitate this humanitarian relief. On
Cambodia
, the two sides emphasized their commitmentto make the Permanent Five process work in order to resolve this conflict, but there's nothing new really to report there. In
Central America
, they discussed the importance also of resolving this and resolving the conflict in El Salvador, and the need to get the FMLN to go to the table, and the danger of continuing arms supplies to the FMLN. Those are the only four regional issues that they were able to touch on yesterday. Q Margaret, when the former Foreign Minister -- A With who? Q When the former Soviet Foreign Minister resigned, the Secretary characterized his relationship with Mr. Shevardnadze. He's now had three long sessions with the new Soviet Foreign Minister. Is there anything like the same warmth, the same sort of friendship, growing between him now and Mr. Bessmertnykh? A I don't know how to do comparisons for you, Jan. This new Foreign Minister, as you know, is the former most recent American Ambassador. He also is someone that Secretary Baker has known, and to be quite honest, probably longer than he knew Eduard Shevardnadze. Both the Secretary and the Foreign Minister have worked together previously in other capacities. So they have a very warm and friendly relationship. This was not a get-acquainted meeting at all. Q Margaret, did they talk about future ministerials in exotic locations? A No. I asked about that, and there are no plans for any future meetings right now that we have to announce. Q Let me just ask quickly on CFE, the problems you cited are the problems that were there before this meeting began. You said there was progress in START. You didn't use the "p" word on CFE. Was there no progress? A Let me repeat one key phrase for you, O.K.? On START, progress was made in firming up many of the understandings that were reached in Houston. So that is -- without me interpreting for you, that is where our progress was made in that. So we, obviously, still have work to be done in START. If you are back to where you were in Houston, you've got to do the things that were left in Houston and still get those done. As far as CFE, I don't want to wing it for you. I don't know how else to do it but to say that work remains to be done. I mean, no one said there was an enormous progress done or there wasn't. I don't want to characterize it. Q Filing break. Can we have a filing break? A I don't know. How long are you going to be gone? Q Anybody care? Q Was Ambassador Matlock informed by the Soviet military that they would not respect a CFE agreement entered into by Shevardnadze? A I haven't heard that, Mort. Q It's in Evans ∧ Novak today. A I haven't read it. Sorry. Q I had a question about a meeting last time, about a meeting on Monday, that I'd like you to take if you can't answer now. This concerns a meeting between Under Secretary McCormack and the Ambassador from Sudan. Three things: First, what economic or agricultural issues were on the table, since those are his purview -- Under Secretary McCormack -- and why at the Ambassador level did the Ambassador lead a group of other officers that had to do with economic agricultural affairs from the Embassy here? And, thirdly, the U.S. has expressed its concern and reservations about the Gulf stance taken by the Government of Sudan in the past and has expressed concern about their actions more recently. So I want to know if that meeting was used to convey or exchange any information or views on the Gulf? A Since I'm not aware there was such a meeting, I obviously don't have any answers to your questions. Q It was on the list of meetings Monday. A There are any number of meetings here at the Department. There's just so much that I can keep on top of in a given day. I'll be happy to look into your questions. Q Margaret, could you be a little more forthcoming than the printed answer was yesterday when asked the response on India and Pakistan helping you. The State Department said straightforward that India has been of help refueling and I suppose some overflights. And regarding Pakistan, the State Department refers us to the Pentagon. Could you tell us, has Pakistan been approached to assist and said no? A All of these questions concerning refueling of airplanes are Pentagon questions. Q We got an answer on India. A India, because I guess it's going on. Pakistan -- Q Well, India because maybe they're helping the United States. A To be honest with you, Barry, I didn't spend a lot of time looking into this yesterday. I'll be happy to once again see if there's more to tell you, but we answered the Indian question. And, as I remember it -- Q Well, it was a two-part question. It was India and Pakistan. A -- you were asking me were they refueling in New Delhi. As I remember, we answered you that they're refueling in Bombay. Q Bombay. A And we referred the other details to the Pentagon. Q Margaret, just two quick questions: Do you have anything on this rise of a very anti-Semitic new Nazi movement in Germany that's aligned itself with Saddam Hussein and made some rather strange pronouncements today? A I haven't heard a thing about it.

[US Position on Detention of Palestinian]

Q And also anything on the arrest of Sari Nusseibeh, the prominent Palestinian in Jerusalem? A Yes, we did. Our opposition to the practice of administrative detention is longstanding. The charges against Dr. Nusseibeh, like those against other administrative detainees, ought to be made public and a chance given to him to defend himself in a court of law. We have informed the Government of Israel of our views. Q Margaret -- A Yes, Mark. Q -- button something up that you had outlined earlier. Yesterday it was your expectation that the meeting between the two Foreign Ministers would deal with arms control and regional issues. A Right. Q Can we draw from that, that there was no intent that you knew of prior to the start of yesterday's meeting to issue a joint statement? A I can assure you that the first I knew about this was a press call I received at my home last night when -- I was at home. I knew zero about it. I have said that it was -- Q I'm not talking about your knowledge, Margaret. A I understand. But two people in this building, to my knowledge, knew about it, and they were both in the room with the Foreign Ministers. One's the Foreign Minister, one's the staff person. Q So were there plans -- A There weren't a lot of people who knew. Q Were the plans -- to your knowledge, were the plans in the works prior to yesterday's meeting? And, if they were, do you know when they got underway? A That gets back into Jim Anderson's kind of tick-tock question, "When did they decide this?" I don't know when this was first discussed -- if it was the first time yesterday; if they discussed it on Saturday. Honestly, I don't know. I'd have to ask Dennis, "When did you literally begin drafting this statement?" I don't know. Q Will you ask him, please? A Yes. Q You said that officials here made calls to officials of other countries last night. But just to clarify -- A As we do routinely. Q O.K. Just to clarify, did that happen -- I mean, were there no consultations with coalition members before this joint statement was issued? A I'm sure not. There'd be no reason to. Q O.K. A It doesn't say anything new. Q Stop me -- I've been gone a few days -- if you've already answered this question. A That's O.K. Q But concerning the planes that have gone to Iran and the assurances that the United States has had through diplomatic channels from Iran concerning those planes -- A Right. Q There are reports that Iran may have said in some way that should Israel get involved in the war or should Shi'ite holy places in Iraq be attacked, their attitude about the Iraqi planes in Iran might change. Has that subject been discussed through diplomatic channels by the United States and Iran, and what is the United States' understanding of Iran's position on those things? A One, I would really like to refrain -- since this has been a lengthy briefing -- I have done at length for two days the United States' communications through third party with Iran. I will answer the second part of your question, because one of your colleagues called and asked me this very question yesterday based on this rumor, and there has been no such message that we have received. Now, I can't speak to messages that are being sent other places. But as far as the message that you're referring -- or the rumor that such a message was received here, it's not true. Q Do you know anything about an Iraqi request of Iran -- this has been reported -- for another 100 launchers? Have you seen those reports? A I hadn't even heard that one yet. Q Margaret, back on -- Q Margaret, have there been -- were there conversations between the Secretary and Mr. Bessmertnykh about the Soviet freighter in the Gulf with arms unmanifested? This has been lagging around for some time. A It has. Q Did this come up again? A It has and to be honest with you I didn't ask them if they brought that up. I know that Dennis had said earlier that, I think it was something he was going to put in Secretary Baker's talking points, but I haven't asked. I don't know. Q Margaret, back on the Iraqi planes for a moment, yesterday you said that both in public and through third parties you had received assurances that the planes would stay in Iran for the duration of hostilities. There are more reports now that the pilots of those planes will be considered POWs by Iran. Have you received any assurances of that? A Assurances of that? I haven't -- Q In other words, yesterday it was just that the planes would remain. A Yesterday we said that the Iraqi -- the Iranian, I'm sorry -- I believe it was the Ambassador at the United Nations had said that they were in the process of, I believe their words were "interrogating the pilots." And I haven't heard any more about the pilots or what they're doing with the pilots since then. Is that about it, you all? Q Thank you. (The briefing concluded at 1:08 p.m.) (###)