US Department of State Daily Briefing #36: Wednesday, 3/6/91

Boucher Source: State Department Deputy Spokesman Richard Boucher Description: 12:22, Washington, DC Date: Mar 6, 19913/6/91 Category: Briefings Region: MidEast/North Africa, East Asia Country: Israel, Iraq, Kuwait, Libya, Japan Subject: Military Affairs, Terrorism, Arms Control, Human Rights, Regional/Civil Unrest (ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED) MR. BOUCHER: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. I think I'll start out by updating you on the unrest in Iraq and on the journalists that are missing -- at least what we've been doing -- and then I'd be glad to take your questions.

[Iraq: Civil Unrest Update]

On the question of civil unrest in Iraq, we continue to receive numerous reports of civil unrest in Iraq. Over the past 24 hours the level of unrest appears to have been highest in the cities of Karbala, Najaf and Hillah in southern Iraq, and Kirkuk, Sulaymaniya and Ranya in the Kurdish north. The most serious fighting currently seems to be taking place in and around the Shi'a holy cities of Karbala and Najaf which apparently remained largely in the hands of anti-government forces through yesterday. In these areas, there are large government forces, including Republic Guard units and regular army units which are continuing their efforts to restore government control. That's the situation as we see it. I don't know if we want to doquestions on that first, and then we'll move on to the journalists or -- Q Largely in the hands of what forces? MR. BOUCHER: Anti-government forces in those cities. Q Mr. Boucher, could you spell out the names of the towns, please? MR. BOUCHER: How about we put it up afterwards. Q When you say "anti-government forces," what kind of forces do they have? Do you mean troops or equipment, or have they seized some government equipment and are using that? Can you be more explicit? MR. BOUCHER: I think it's a very loose term, "anti-government elements, groups." We've described it before as spontaneous activity by groups and people -- returning soldiers in some cases, I guess -- but those who are opposed to the government. Q (Inaudible) MR. BOUCHER: I'm not trying to imply a military organization to this. Q O.K. I was going to say there was some confusion over who was piloting certain tanks and things a couple of days ago, and I just wondered whether there was any evidence that any units, large or small, of the military were in fact operating in the hands of anti-government elements. MR. BOUCHER: This relates to the question earlier, "Have there been clashes between different army units, using heavy equipment?" and we don't have any confirmation of that. Q Richard, we're trying to get to the U.S. policy on the Kurds. When you speak of "territorial integrity," it is basically thought to mean outside forces, like Iran, taking advantage. But what about the unrest as you've referred to in the Kurdish regions there? Is the State Department opposed to any autonomy by the Kurds, especially if it originates within the boundaries of Iraq? MR. BOUCHER: Barry, we've made very clear that we don't think it's for us to decide the internal organization, the internal government, of Iraq; nor is it for other outside forces to decide that. We've also made very clear, in talking about the territorial integrity of Iraq, that we don't support the dismemberment of Iraq. Q Do you see a -- Q Two questions -- MR. BOUCHER: Sorry. Q After you, John. Q Do you see a trend in what is going on with the violence? Does it appear that Saddam Hussein's forces or those loyal to his government are now extinguishing the various pockets of unrest? Do you see new pockets coming into view? MR. BOUCHER: The situation is still fluid. The government does appear to be establishing control. There's some degree of control in various cities, particularly in the southeastern part of the country, but even in those cities the situation is not resolved. The numbers of places where this is occurring, I think, are approximately the same as they were yesterday. But some level of sporadic violence and unrest continues, as I said, even as the government forces are reasserting control. Q Is it too early for an overall assessment? You know, the State Department yesterday spoke of those cities where Saddam's forces seem to have been successful, followed, almost as if it were synchronized, by a Pentagon briefing by the Joint Chiefs intelligence Admiral, saying also that in several cities Saddam was succeeding. But he spoke of about a dozen cities having unrest. So, I mean, can you tally up at this point and say in an overall sense is Saddam managing -- is he controlling more cities than he's losing for instance? MR. BOUCHER: I can't give you a final assessment, Barry. At this point the situation is still fluid. As I said, there are certain places -- the Shi'a holy cities -- where the level of unrest and the seriousness of the fighting appears to have grown in the last 24 hours. There are other cities, some of which we referred to yesterday, largely in the southeastern part of the country, where the government appears to be reasserting control. But even in those areas, the situation is not stable. Q On that, Richard, are government forces in control in Basra? MR. BOUCHER: Again, without trying to assert that this is a definitive and final status of the situation, Basra would be among those cities in the southeastern part of Iraq where the government appears to be reasserting some degree of control but where sporadic violence and unrest are also continuing. Q Richard, do you have any update on the missing journalists or any information? MR. BOUCHER: Well, let me move on to that. Q Two questions for that. Can I? MR. BOUCHER: Yes. Q Is there any indication that you have so far with regard to whether the Iraqi forces have used chemical gasses on residents? This is the first question. The second question is that anti-Iraqi government organizations have its headquarters operating in Tehran. If they operate out of Tehran, do you think these Iranians -- does the State Department consider this meddling by Iranians in internal Iraqi matters, or does the State Department consider their operation in Tehran is part of Iraqi internal problems? MR. BOUCHER: On the first question of chemical weapons use, I have not seen any information that that might have occurred. I assume that our Pentagon people probably might have, you know, followed this more extensively than I have. You might want to address your question over there as well. On the question of the groups from Iran, we know that these groups, particularly one of them, are allied with Iran. They also have a long history of opposition to the Ba'ath regime in Iraq. But I don't really have anything to say to you about whether there is active support going on from Iran, and I think our basic point on that was made very clearly by Margaret yesterday. Q One more thing on that: Do you have any indication at all that Saddam Hussein is anything but in complete control of the Government of Iraq? I mean, is it possible that Iraq is no longer being run simply by Saddam Hussein? MR. BOUCHER: As far as we know, Saddam Hussein remains the head of the government in Iraq, in Baghdad, and in control of the government actions there. Q Do you have anything further to say about your interim conclusion yesterday of Iraqi Radio being off the air? Has that been repeated? Do you have any more information about what that might have meant? MR. BOUCHER: No, I don't. Q Do you see the strife in Iraq nowadays as sectarian in character more than political, or how do you read this? MR. BOUCHER: I really can't make that kind of assessment for you. This is, as we've said, to a great extent spontaneous activity by people opposed to the regime. I think the Pentagon has described some of it as being from groups and people and ethnic groups or groups within the society that have reason to be opposed to Saddam's regime and have had such for a long time. It's also based on the fact that there is a government which has brought nothing but harm and suffering to its people. Q Richard, in 1988, Saddam took revenge for the perceived disloyalty of Kurdish citizens in Iraq by gassing their villages and killing thousands of people. Would there be international consequences if he were to take similar action after putting down the present rebellion by Kurds? MR. BOUCHER: I'm sure there would be, but I'm not -- at this point I don't have anything that would be more specific than that. Q Would you like to issue a warning against using gas against its citizens? MR. BOUCHER: I think we have -- Q Since we know that he has a proven track record of doing so? MR. BOUCHER: We have many times stated our opposition to any use of chemical weapons, whether it's in warfare or even more so against innocent civilians. The international community has spoken out strongly on this in the past, and I would suspect that to continue to be the case. Q But, I mean, at the moment -- Q (Inaudible) Q This is the last one. At the moment you're regarding this as an internal Iraqi affair. You're not intervening. Would the use of gas change that? MR. BOUCHER: I think we'll have to call that a hypothetical, and I really can't answer that at this point for you. Q In the southern cities, the State Department and the Pentagon have been quite detailed in the types of things that they have been seeing in the way of turmoil. In the northern cities, that has not been the case. Is that because that whatever strive there has been in the north has been less visible, less -- on a smaller scale? Can you describe in any fashion what sorts of things you're seeing in the northern Kurdish cities that may be different than what you're seeing in the south? MR. BOUCHER: I don't think I can, John. Q Richard, Baghdad Radio is saying that Saddam has fired his Minister of the Interior and replaced him with this thug who ran security operations in Kuwait. Does that tell you anything about his intentions? MR. BOUCHER: I don't have an instant analysis of it. We've noted the report. We've also noted that this is the guy that they put in charge of Kuwait during the period of the occupation and all the consequent destruction and killing that was there. Q Back to the northern cities for a moment: Is the Iraqi government using military forces in those cities to quell the unrest? MR. BOUCHER: I don't think I'm in a position to give you a precise update on that. I'll check and see if there is anything I can say. Q Richard, have you been approached recently by representatives of Iraqi opposition -- those who may be guiding the strife against Saddam Hussein inside Iraq? MR. BOUCHER: Not that I'm aware of. Q Richard, on the question of forces in the north again, there were reports that some of Saddam's forces were being transferred from the north, farther south. Is there any indication today that any of that movement of military forces threatens either the border with Kuwait or U.S. forces deployed or allied forces deployed in the region or the independence of Kuwait? MR. BOUCHER: I think that's a question that's much better addressed to our military people who I believe have already answered it and said no. Q Is the United States in a position to do anything to help friendly forces within Iraq? MR. BOUCHER: I'm not sure who exactly you're referring to, but we have -- Margaret stated very clearly our statement yesterday that we don't think that outside powers should be interfering in the internal affairs of Iraq, and that these questions of government and the state of the -- the future of Saddam Hussein are for the Iraqi people to decide. Q So that is saying that secret agencies of the U.S. Government are not involved in stirring up trouble within Iraq. Is that correct? (Laughter) MR. BOUCHER: I don't have any comment on secret agencies of the U.S. Government, John. Q You do speak for the United States Government -- Q You do speak for the U.S. Government. Yes. MR. BOUCHER: I will state our policy as we understand it -- as I understand it here. As we have made clear, we don't think that outside forces should be interfering in the Government of Iraq, and that that's a matter for the Iraqi people to decide. Q And so by inference, one can assume that at least the State Department does not think that the CIA, for example, should be involved in stirring up trouble in any of these cities? MR. BOUCHER: I'm not in a position to speak about intelligence matters, John. I never have been, and I'm not going to start now. Q But as a matter of policy, you don't encourage outside forces, so one could certainly infer that you are talking about our own outside forces. MR. BOUCHER: As a matter of policy, I'll restate what Margaret stated yesterday, and we've said that the United States respects and believes in the territorial integrity of Iraq, and we do not believe that other states should involve themselves in the internal matters of Iraq; and that other states should refrain from interfering in Iraq's internal affairs. Q Richard, has there been any discussion with the Iraqi government on this question, perhaps to pass the sort of message that you just read, or a communique, message, from them? MR. BOUCHER: Not that I'm aware of. The discussions we had with the Iraqi government yesterday were on the subject of the missing journalists which, if you'll allow me to, I think I'll move on to right now.

[US Efforts to Locate Missing Journalists]

As far as information on the journalists, I think you've all seen the press reports and know from your organizations the information about who is missing and the circumstances under which they were last seen. Our Embassy in Kuwait City is sending back information to us on this, and you know from the military briefings that CENTCOM is also following this matter very closely. Last night, Deputy Assistant Secretary David Mack asked Khalid Shewayish, the senior Iraqi diplomat in Washington, for any information that the Government of Iraq may have on these journalists who are reported missing. He also asked that should Iraq come into possession of these individuals, that Iraq should facilitate their safe return to Kuwait or to a third country. This same request was made by Ambassador Pickering to the Iraqi Ambassador to the United Nations, Mr. Al-Anbari, and we have also passed the same request and information through the Government of the Soviet Union. Q Was Shewayish here? MR. BOUCHER: Shewayish was here. Yes. Q (Inaudible) MR. BOUCHER: He didn't come into the building, John. It was a phone call, I think. Q It was a phone call. Oh, that's what I meant. Q Is there some way the Secretary can redouble the message on the trip? I don't know who he would give it to particularly, but you never know about such -- strange networks of people operate in the Middle East. MR. BOUCHER: I'm not aware of any specific plans, Barry. He's not scheduled to meet with any Iraqis where he would do it directly. These are the channels that we have used in the past week or two weeks to communicate with Iraqis on specific matters. In the past, for example, the Soviets have been helpful, so slight chance something might come up in Moscow, but we would certainly hope that these journalists would be safely back with us before he gets to Moscow. Q Have you tried the Soviet channel this time? MR. BOUCHER: Yes. I said we did. Q Were there any other subjects discussed besides that one in the conversation? MR. BOUCHER: No. Q Richard, has there been any contact with the Government of Iran in the recent days since the one that occurred at the end -- upon the cease-fire declaration? MR. BOUCHER: I'm not aware of any, but I have to admit to not having checked this morning. Q Richard, is there any reaction to the declaration from Damascus this morning about the Arab peacekeeping force for the Gulf? MR. BOUCHER: The Secretary has in the past stated very clearly that we look to the countries of the Gulf, to the GCC states particularly, to take the lead in the discussions of the post-war security arrangements. We don't have a full readout on these meetings at this point. I'm sure this is a topic the Secretary will be discussing with these Ministers when he goes out on his trip, and that probably he'll be able to get a complete readout there of the discussions. Q Richard, I'm trying to figure out how manicured that statement is. "To take the lead." Does that mean the Administration isn't keen on the idea, for instance, of Syrians being part of a peacekeeping operation? MR. BOUCHER: Barry, it's a subject that will be discussed during the course of his trip. Q I know. MR. BOUCHER: We look to the GCC states to take the lead in terms of the discussions, the ideas and the efforts that will have to be made for their own security in the future. To the extent that other countries get involved, that will be something to discuss during the course of the trip. Q That's not saying that we insist on a small, exclusive Gulf -- MR. BOUCHER: I can't at this point rule anybody in or anybody out of those arrangements which will be discussed during the course of the trip.

[Iraq: Arms Embargo]

Q Can I ask you -- there's a report that Prime Minister Major was unable to persuade the Soviets, Mr. Gorbachev, to cease arms shipments to Iraq. I wondered if the United States had tried to make that pitch, and, if it hasn't, will the Secretary make it in Moscow? Presumably, you are in favor of a total arms embargo as long as Saddam Hussein is in power. There's been a little uncertainty, but I think that's the last view you took. MR. BOUCHER: The Secretary has made very clear our view on that, and that's as long as Saddam Hussein remains in power we would be in favor of a total arms embargo. I hadn't seen the report about Prime Minister Major. I think it's up to the Soviets or the British to comment or confirm it. And again, the Secretary has made clear that one of the subjects in the discussion on his trip is the question of arms sale and security in the future. Q On that subject, Richard, arms sales in the region: There's another report that says the United States and perhaps others are making arrangements to transfer a fair amount of weaponry on the ground in the Gulf to Egypt and to Syria. Some of it Soviet equipment to Syria, some of it allied equipment to Egypt. Is that true? MR. BOUCHER: I hadn't seen that report, Ralph. I just don't have anything on it. Q Do you have anything on the subject of what will happen to -- how would it fit into the Secretary's statements about reducing the flow of conventional weapons in the region? Will the U.S., for example, withdraw all of its equipment from the region? Will the U.S. urge the Soviet Union to recover equipment that once belonged to them in Iraq? MR. BOUCHER: Again, those kinds of questions get into the details of the topics that the Secretary will be discussing during the course of his trip -- the questions of post-war security and attendant issues of arms sales, and such things. He's expressed his general views in public, but I think we have to let the details wait for him to go on the trip and talk to others about it. Q Could you at least take the question of whether discussions have been held with Egypt and the Soviet Union and perhaps Syria on the question of what happens to allied and Iraqi equipment on the ground? MR. BOUCHER: I'll look into it and see if there's anything to say at this point, but I suspect that we will want to leave those kinds of questions for the trip. Q Going back to the Damascus thing and Barry's point about picking up on taking the lead, does this mean that -- O.K., it's going to be discussed by the Secretary, but is this at least viewed with favor that they've taken the initiative to do this? I mean, are you just sort of letting it roll, or is this something that you either approve of or disapprove of? MR. BOUCHER: Well, we certainly welcome this meeting. It's the second such meeting that these countries have had. They are actively discussing and thinking about the issues of post-war security, and the Secretary will be discussing it further with them when he gets out there. Q But is the idea of an Arab peacekeeping force, which they have apparently come up with, as well an economic block which they apparently are also proposing, is that something that the United States favors? MR. BOUCHER: John, at this point I don't want to imply a specific endorsement, because we just plain don't have the full readout of it. The ideas of peacekeeping forces and post-war security arrangements among the GCC states are things that the Secretary has discussed in testimony; things that he has said are part of his agenda on this trip, along with economic development questions as well. And so we welcome the fact that they're having these meetings. We welcome the fact that they are taking the lead in discussing these ideas, and the Secretary will discuss them further when he gets out there. Q Richard, you seem to be focusing on the phrase of GCC taking the lead. I think the Secretary is ON THE RECORD -- the record will stand by itself as to whether he is or not -- but I think he's ON THE RECORD as having referred to Arab peacekeeping forces. "We expect the Arabs to take the lead," I think, is the way he has phrased it in the past. Are you signaling today a shift a policy; that the U.S. is referring to the GCC taking the lead as opposed to the Arabs being involved in a peacekeeping force, or is this simply a reference to the fact that the meeting in Damascus happened to have been in the umbrella, if you will, of the GCC? MR. BOUCHER: What you're hearing from me today is an imperfect rendition of what the Secretary has said. I'm not trying to change it, and if I can find in here exactly what he said I would give you that. But -- Q Well, I guess the -- MR. BOUCHER: -- it's in here somewhere. Q Well, I guess the point is that the meeting in Damascus was among the eight members of the coalition, not all of whom are members of the GCC. MR. BOUCHER: That's right. We've talked about the GCC. It was a meeting between the GCC and Egypt and Syria. We'll be discussing these issues with the GCC and the other coalition partners who we will be meeting with throughout the course of this trip. Barry asked me before about Syria and I said I was not in a position at this point to try to specifically rule in or rule anybody out of future postwar security arrangements. Those will be discussed with all the countries during the course of the trip. Q Richard, reporters in Kuwait who know Kuwait best seem to put a great bit of stock in the possibility that the Royal Family is carrying out some sort of assassination plot, or at least some sort of intimidation, against possible opponents. I know that we viewed that with concern yesterday, but is there anything more you can view it than concern if, indeed, people are getting killed since a lot of people just died for this democracy?

[Kuwait: Civil Unrest]

MR. BOUCHER: I think the first thing to say about these reports of hit squads and assassination campaigns is that we have seen absolutely no evidence to substantiate charges like that at this point. We and the military briefers who were on the ground have described the situation as one where there are isolated incidents occurring but where the government was in the process of reestablishing its control. Kuwaiti military forces are undertaking military patrols. They're manning checkpoints. They're occupying the police stations, taking over the services of public order. Our Ambassador this morning described the situation as one where the concern was more of services than it was of safety. There are isolated incidents occurring. There were some shootings in the past few days that have been reported, discussed by our military people out there, but that we have seen the Kuwaiti government taking over the question of security and public safety and that we have had a dialogue with the Kuwaiti government well before Kuwait was liberated to talk about things like the treatment of Palestinians and our concerns about that. You've seen the Crown Prince come out and make strong statements against "vigilantism". I'm not sure what it was in the original language. And this is something that we have had a dialogue with the Kuwaiti government about where we have expressed our concerns and where the Kuwaiti government itself has expressed its intentions. Q Have we talked to the fellow in the hospital who was shot when he came to his door and who thinks he was shot by somebody representing the government? MR. BOUCHER: I don't know if we have, Saul. Q Since the reporter went to do it and since we're interested in evidence of this and since we're interested in human rights, would it be out of our way to do that -- to find out from this fellow who shot him? MR. BOUCHER: I don't think it's inappropriate at all, but I'm just not sure if we have. Q What about Kuwait's announced intention to round up people and ship them out. They said that they have intentions of getting rid of people that they don't want, of which a very large number is expected to be Palestinians, and they quote figures as high as 20,000 people. Do we have anything to say about that? MR. BOUCHER: We have seen those reports. I don't really have any information at this point. We're expecting to get information on that from our Embassy in Kuwait, so I don't have a real reaction at this point. Q Don't you have a policy on deportations? We hear it all the time when the West Bank is at issue. (Laughter.) We hear about autonomy all the time when the West Bank is at issue too, but there aren't Kurds there. MR. BOUCHER: We have a -- Q Can you say anything about deporting people without -- or do you want to say anything, or is it different in Kuwait? MR. BOUCHER: We have a policy of not making comparisons, and I'll stick to that one. Q Well, I thought you had policies on human rights and I thought you consider the deporting of people a violation of human rights unless they've been accused of a crime. Have these Palestinians been accused of some crime? Is there a legal proceeding in Kuwait before you deported or they're assassinated? MR. BOUCHER: Those are all very good questions, Barry, and I'm sure that we and you will want to see to what extent these press reports are founded in policy and how they're proposed to be implemented if such plans, in fact, exist. Q Tom here thinks that things drop into a deep abyss. For instance, if I were to remind you that the State Department said two weeks ago it was looking into reports that Jordan violated the arms embargo by providing grenades and grenade launchers to Iraq -- you know, that's before the Administration decided to make kissy-face with Jordan when the war was over (laughter) -- but at that point you were looking into the reports. Now, looking into reports never seem to produce anything. Is there a conclusion you can give us now on whether Jordan violated the embargo? MR. BOUCHER: Not at this point, Barry; no. Q You're still looking. Q Richard, also on -- MR. BOUCHER: "Investigating," I think, was the term -- Q Investigating -- MR. BOUCHER: That's better than looking into reports. Q And reviewing their aid. Is that review over yet? MR. BOUCHER: I'm not aware of any results of that.

[Proliferation Controls on Chemical Weapons]

Q On a parallel subject, there's a report that the Commerce Department has decided to put Israel and Egypt among a list, I think, of six or eight other countries on a watch- list so that precursor of chemicals would be especially watched out for. Do you confirm that there is such a discussion going on, and can you confirm that the State Department opposes adding Israel and Egypt to this watch- list? MR. BOUCHER: The President in December approved the imposition of additional controls to deal with proliferation concerns. This exercise was to produce a list of dual-use equipment, which can be used to produce chemical and biological weapons, and should produce controls on the export of this equipment to sensitive destinations. We are now finalizing the formal regulations that will implement those controls and the full content, the list, in effect, will be made public once that is prepared for publication in the Federal Register. Q Is there agreement on which countries will be included in this list? MR. BOUCHER: I'm not in a position to go through our internal deliberations for you, Jim. Q I'm not asking about that. MR. BOUCHER: The discussions between departments are things that are ongoing. I'm told the lists are, if not completed, near completion; and, therefore, we'll be making the details available in public when it's prepared for publication. Q In other words, there is no agreement on a list of countries to be included? MR. BOUCHER: I can't really nail down its exact status at this point other than what I said, that we are finalizing the formal regulations.

[Libya: US Monitoring Possible CW Production Activities]

Q On a related topic, there was a report in The Washington Times that Libya had built a new facility at its gas plant; and that report also said that that plant was under full production. Do you have any information? MR. BOUCHER: These specific allegations involve sensitive intelligence questions that I'm not in a position to comment on. In general, I can say that even as the world's attention has focused on Iraq, we have continued to be highly concerned about the threat posed by the Libyan chemical weapons program. The alleged fire at Rabta last March was in all likelihood a hoax, and we believe that Rabta is capable of producing chemical weapons. We also believe that it's vital that no supplier nation contribute equipment, materials or expertise to Libya that could be used to manufacture chemical weapons and we continue to be in touch with a number of governments on that question. We have urged all concerned nations not to relax their vigilance on Libya's attempts to acquire chemical weapons capability. Q Have they used chemical weapons, to the best of your knowledge? MR. BOUCHER: At this point, all I can say is that we believe that they're capable of producing chemical weapons at Rabta. Q Richard, back to the Damascus declaration, if I may. Don't you believe that it would have been better for the eight Arab members of the coalition to wait for the mission by Secretary Baker in order to give such a definitive position on the whole affair? MR. BOUCHER: As I said, we welcome these meetings. They have had two of these meetings so far. They are exploring and discussing the subjects that the Secretary looks forward to discussing with them. Q Aren't you concerned that an Arab peacekeeping force might someday be mobilized against Israel? MR. BOUCHER: George, again, I don't think I want to, at this point, go into the details of the specific ideas. We don't, at this point, have a full readout from the countries involved; and the Secretary will presumably get that and be discussing these ideas with them when he gets out there. Q Richard -- MR. BOUCHER: Let's go back to John. Q Richard, on the $650 million supplemental for Israel, can the State Department explain why the American taxpayers are being asked to pay for gas masks for everybody in Israel? MR. BOUCHER: John, the discussion with the Government of Israel produced a mutual agreement that we would help them with $650 million. It would help them with the additional costs and expenses and the damage that has resulted from the events that occurred during the war, including things like Scud attacks. We've reached agreement with Israel on this figure of $650 million. As you know, we've always had a strong aid program for Israel. When this request came in, we said we'd give it full consideration. I'm not aware that specifics, like gas masks, are listed. But Israel, among other countries, has received incoming Scud missiles and has incurred additional expenses and additional problems because of the war and we felt -- Q My impression -- MR. BOUCHER: -- it was important to help them with that. Q It was my impression that the Scud missiles were launched from Iraq, not from the United States. Why do the taxpayers of the United States have to foot this bill? Isn't Israel subject to receiving war reparations from Iraq? MR. BOUCHER: I think in the past we have said that any country that suffered damages should have the ability, under the U.N. resolutions, to present the information that the U.N. has requested. The effort to help countries which have suffered damages because of the effects of the sanctions or the war has been an ongoing one. It's involved defense, it's involved helping countries with financial problems that have resulted as a result of the war, and in this case this $650 million is to help Israel in that regard. Q Can we expect to see a supplemental to help Saudi Arabia then with their Scud damage? MR. BOUCHER: The financial situations of different countries vary from place to place, John. We take into account the country's situation. As you know, the United States has had a longstanding and abiding interest in Israel's security. We've provided aid over the course of years. In this case, they've suffered additional damage and have additional costs and we're helping them out with it. Q Because you're citing damage losses, this story has been cast in some places as a reward for restraint. Is that inaccurate? It's for real loss? It's not a payoff for holding fire? MR. BOUCHER: Again, the request from Israel in February was for approximately $l billion, which reflected their assumption of costs directly related to the Persian Gulf conflict. This $650 million was for Israeli costs associated with the Persian Gulf conflict. Q Can I try one quick one on you about the Amir? There's a report in the morning paper -- Q I'd like to ask one more question on that. Q O.K., please. Excuse me. Q (Inaudible) says the Secretary and others have pointed out money is fungible. Are there some limits as to what this $650 million can be used for? MR. BOUCHER: This is an emergency request. I've described exactly what it's for. It was the result of discussions between the U.S. Government and the Israeli government. And, again, it's an emergency request. It's a payment to help Israel with the costs that it has incurred associated with the Persian Gulf conflict. Q I mean it makes money available, you must agree, in the Israeli treasury to use for other things -- such as the settlement of Soviet immigrants, for example, in places where we would rather that they not settle. MR. BOUCHER: No. Saul, that's not the purpose of this money, and you have to understand that it's not -- Q It's not the purpose, but money is fungible. MR. BOUCHER: It's not additional money that's unrelated to the costs and the expenses and damages that they have incurred as a result of the conflict; so it has a purpose. The need is there. We've discussed it with the Israeli officials, and this is the amount that we've agreed on. Q Richard, is it the U.S. view that it's time for the Amir to go back to Kuwait? I'm sorry, but there's a morning newspaper report. Evidently, some official anonymously has opined that there's some distress here that the Amir hasn't moved back in to take charge. I don't know how you want to deal with that question, but is it time for him take over his own house? MR. BOUCHER: Barry, it's not for us to specify when the Amir should travel. The Government of Kuwait has established itself back in Kuwait City. The Crown Prince, who is the Prime Minister and the Military Governor General of Kuwait, is back there. Most of his -- if not all of his ministers -- are back there. They have a rebuilding program under way. They're trying to take care of the security and communications and public services problems that exist in the city, and the Amir will decide when he wants to go back. Q Do you have an update -- Q Do you find any kind of family feud -- MR. BOUCHER: Let's go on to Johanna's. Q Do you have an update on Iraqi efforts to comply with the cease-fire terms? For instance, the question of rescinding the annexation proclamation -- have they now done that to our satisfaction, or is it still unsatisfactory? And the other one I'm curious about is the Kuwaiti citizens. Al-Anbari was quoted this morning as that things like that could take months. MR. BOUCHER: I don't have a scorecard for you at this point. I think you're familiar with the letters that Iraq has sent to the U.N. stating its willingness to comply. You're aware of the action of the Revolutionary Command Council to rescind the annexation, the -- Q Is that acceptable? There was some report yesterday that the United States felt the rescinding had to be done by the same parliamentary body that did the original annexation, which is to say the National Assembly. MR. BOUCHER: Yes. We're looking at that question. I would say that this is an official act of the Iraqi government. Whether it fully rescinds the annexation is a question the legal experts have to look at. But we would expect it would be an action that would have to have full legal effect, and that's something the experts would have to look at. But in terms of the United Nations resolutions, they are quite specific in the demands. I'm not aware that any of the Kuwaiti citizens, for example, have been released at this point. It's something the ICRC is going to follow up with and the military said they would continue to follow up with in their meetings. Q Would all the Kuwaits have to be freed before, in the United States' view, the terms of the cease-fire had been met? MR. BOUCHER: I'd just refer you back to exactly what the U.N. resolution says on that subject. Q Richard, are you aware of a report leaked by an Israeli opposition group that the government plans to double the number of settlers in the Occupied Territories MR. BOUCHER: I don't really have any information on that now. Q Do you have a readout on the meeting yesterday between the Secretary and the Kuwaiti Ambassador? MR. BOUCHER: No, I don't. Q Could you take the question of whether the issue of the Kuwaiti contribution to the war effort came up? They, as I recall, contributed or pledged $l3 and a half billion for the first quarter. Obviously, the war didn't last as long as he seemed to think it would. And what is the status of their contribution? Are they going to commit themselves to the $l3 and a half billion or not? MR. BOUCHER: I'll see if I can get you a readout of that meeting or an update on the status of the Kuwaiti contribution. Jan? Q Another area. Do you have anything on Albanians streaming into Italy? MR. BOUCHER: On what in Albania? Q The Albanians who are apparently escaping or streaming into Italy. Apparently, several thousand Albanians are on the move. MR. BOUCHER: It's something I'll have to look into. Q Just a question on the trip, Richard. It has been announced publicly the countries to which Baker will be going. Are you able to announce any other countries today -- such as Kuwait, for example? MR. BOUCHER: No, but we can maybe talk afterwards about some of this (inaudiable) questions. Q O.K. Will the Secretary visit Kuwait? MR. BOUCHER: I'll just refer you back to what we said before. I don't have that sort of detail on his trip at this point. Q Do you have anything further to say about the discussion yesterday on the question of where the Government of Kuwait is at the moment? You've said again today that the government is in Kuwait City. Does the U.S. not consider the Amir to be part of the government, or -- MR. BOUCHER: I didn't exclude the Amir from the government. At least, that was not my intention in my remarks, Ralph. The Government of Kuwait remains the same Government of Kuwait that it was before the invasion. The Amir is the head, the Crown Prince is the Prime Minister, and there are other ministers. The exact location of individual people doesn't change that. Q Do you detect any family feud among the Sabah? (Laughter.) MR. BOUCHER: No.

[Japan: Contributions to Gulf War]

Q Richard, another money question. I believe the Japanese have freed up that $9 billion they had pledged. One question on that -- well, just what is your general reaction? But the second question is: My original understanding was that that was all for the United States; and then there have been some reports since then that it isn't all for the United States, that some of it might go to affected nations and so on. MR. BOUCHER: Naturally, we're very pleased that the Japanese Diet has approved on March 6th the bills which provide Japan's new contribution to Desert Storm. We understand that the disbursements in cash will be made very shortly, and Japan's unwavering political support and substantial financial contributions have been very helpful in the effort to counter Iraq's aggression. As for the exact figures, when the yen are translated into dollars, those exact allocations are, of course, are a matter of discussion and decision with the Japanese Government. We do expect, as we said in the past, the lion's share of this contribution will come to the United States. Q Thank you. (The briefing concluded at l:05 p.m.)