US Department of State Daily Briefing #44: Tuesday, 3/19/91

Boucher Source: State Department Deputy Spokesman Richard Boucher Description: 12:29 PM, Washington, DC Date: Mar 19, 19913/19/91 Category: Briefings Region: MidEast/North Africa, Eurasia, Europe Country: Germany, Iraq, Kuwait, Lebanon, Israel, USSR (former), Turkey Subject: Terrorism, Military Affairs, State Department, Human Rights, Regional/Civil Unrest (ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED) MR. BOUCHER: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. I don't have any particular statements, so I'd be glad to take your questions. George.

[Gulf Effort: International Contributions]

Q Do you have anything on the suggestions from Germany that they may not pay the entire amount that they pledged concerning the war effort? MR. BOUCHER: There were, I think, accusations by some of the opposition parties that we were somehow going to turn a profit on the war. Those sorts of allegations are completely unfounded. The U.S. has received $54.5 billion in international pledges of financial support to date. Our total expenditures related to Desert Storm and to Desert Shield, while still not precisely known, are expected to be in excess of that amount. Q Do you have that money in hand or just pledges? MR. BOUCHER: The situation is slightly different, of course, by 1990 and 1991. In 1990, the total incremental cost of Desert Shield was $11.1 billion. Our partners committed $9.7 billion toward this cost. The United States paid the remainder $1.3 billion. For '91, our partners committed in excess of $44.8 billion towards Desert Storm. Our total expenditures, as I said, are still unknown, but the Defense Department expects the total Desert Storm cost will be in excess of the amount committed by our partners. Q Is that one way of saying that you think that Germany and the other partners should fulfill their commitments? MR. BOUCHER: We expect our coalition partners to fulfill their commitments, and we have no reason to believe that they won't. In fact, we've already gotten sizable contributions to the 1991 costs. I think the total that we've received so far is $12.2 billion, and in fact the Germans have already transferred $3.8 billion of their $5.5 billion contribution. So the money is flowing. The process is underway. People are meeting their commitments, and we have no reason to believe that they won't fulfill them. Q Richard, do you have any comment on the Senate Appropriations Committee's prohibition on arms sales to any countries that don't fulfill their commitments? MR. BOUCHER: I don't have anything particularly prepared. I think Marlin has just addressed that, and clearly our view is that people are meeting their commitment; that this process is going forward smoothly; that we've been very pleased by the support that we've gotten from allies so far, and that we don't think it's necessary to legislate on this issue. Q Richard, you said yesterday that the United States Government does not want to see the dismemberment of Iraq as a state. MR. BOUCHER: We've said that consistently.

[Iraq: US Policy on Iraq's Territorial Integrity]

Q Yes. But there was a big article in a Turkish paper a few days ago that Turkey supports the call for a federation of Kurds and Turkey and the northern part of Iraq, and that the United States Government supports that idea. Would you like to tell us whether the United States Government has conveyed its own opinion to the Turkish government already regarding that? MR. BOUCHER: We've been consulting with the Turkish government throughout the crisis on many, many issues, and I'm sure we've discussed some of these issues with them. I'm not sure precisely whether we've discussed that report or another, but essentially that was the same question I was asked the other day when I said we do not support the dismemberment of Iraq. Iraq's internal politics, its leadership, and its internal structure are for the Iraqi people to decide and they should to be allowed to decide.

[Iraq: Civil Unrest]

Q Can you give us an update on the fighting and the status of the town of Kirkuk? MR. BOUCHER: Heavy fighting in the north continues, and there appears to have been further gains on the part of the Kurdish dissidents. We, however, cannot confirm press reports that dissidents have taken the city of Kirkuk. Fighting also continues between government forces and dissidents in a number of locations along the lower Euphrates and Tigris valleys and the areas between them. With regard to the Shi'ia holy cities, there has been some fighting in and around Najaf today. Q Can you clear up the discrepancy or misunderstanding over the terms of the temporary cease-fire with regard to the use of aircraft by the Iraqi government forces? What does that mean? Does it mean aircraft -- fixed-wing aircraft, or does it mean aircraft and helicopters? MR. BOUCHER: Alan, I don't see the misunderstanding on this point. The Defense Department has explained it several times. I was just watching Dick Cheney on C-Span this morning explaining it once more in hearings on the Hill. I'd really refer you back to that. Q To save me trolling through the transcripts, maybe you could paraphrase it? MR. BOUCHER: I'm fearful of doing an imperfect rendition that would raise further doubts in your mind, since you're so careful about this. Q I understand Ambassador Glaspie is going to testify before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee tomorrow. Had you heard about that? MR. BOUCHER: No, I hadn't. I'll check on it. Q All right. Could you take the question as to what your understanding is of the nature of her appearance, given the fact that you said that you weren't in the business of doing retrospectives concerning the pre-August 2 period? MR. BOUCHER: If we can find out if she is testifying, I'm sure we'll tell you what she's testifying on. Q Can we go back to the fighting for a second? MR. BOUCHER: Yes. Q I, obviously, have to read Cheney's words, but there are many reports that the Iraqis have been using helicopter gunships in strafing civilians. MR. BOUCHER: That's right. Q Can you confirm any of those reports? MR. BOUCHER: We do believe that they have continued to employ helicopters against dissidents in both northern and southern Iraq. I don't have anything new today on fixed-wing aircraft. Q Is that a violation or not? MR. BOUCHER: Again, Alan, the terms and the understandings that were reached through the -- what they're known as -- the meetings in the desert by the military commanders have been explained several times by our colleagues at the Defense Department who held those meetings, and I'll just refer you back to that. Q What about the use of napalm? MR. BOUCHER: I don't have anything on the use of napalm. Q What about the claims of use of chemical weapons or incapacitating agents, or something, in the south? MR. BOUCHER: We do not have any confirmation that chemical weapons have been -- that these reports of chemical weapons use are true. At this point we don't have any confirmation that that has occurred. Q Do you have any evidence of Iranian official support for Iraqi dissidents? MR. BOUCHER: I don't have anything on that at this point. Q On Kurds again, in the small triangle area in the northern part of Iraq that neighbors Iran and Turkey, suppose that they maintain this portion of land and the Iranian and Turkish governments support independent state of Kurds there, what will be the position of the United States Government? MR. BOUCHER: I don't handle questions that have "suppose that" in the middle of them. I'm sorry. Q Richard, as you are no doubt aware, there have been a couple of items in print in the last couple of days about the possibility that there's some movement in the hostage situation -- I'm speaking of items in the Middle East -- and wonder if you see any reason to think that there is movement? MR. BOUCHER: Well, we at this point have no information to confirm that reports of hostage releases are true. Of course, we hope that these reports are true, but we have nothing to suggest that a hostage release is imminent. There have been numerous previous reports that predicted the imminent release of hostages, and unfortunately many of these have turned out to be false. Q Is the U.S. Government doing anything to move more aggressively on the hostage question now that the war is over? MR. BOUCHER: Well, as you know, in the President's speech to Congress, he said he had asked the Secretary, in his travels in the region, to raise the issue, to pursue the release of our hostages. The Secretary himself said that he had done that during the course of his travels and that we are, I think, exerting our efforts and calling continuously on those with influence over the hostage-holders to use that influence to secure the safe and immediate and unconditional release of the hostages. Q Presumably, this includes our channel to Iran through our intermediary -- third party? MR. BOUCHER: I'm afraid I don't have anything specific on specific means that we have raised this. I think you remember the Secretary just the other day declined to go into detail. Q Do you have anything on yesterday's meeting in Tehran on the subject? MR. BOUCHER: Nothing particular. Just that we had seen the reports of the meeting. We don't have any specific or unique information on it. Of course, if anything results in the safe, unconditional and immediate release of our hostages, we'd welcome that. Q What do you have, if anything, on U.S. officials meeting with Iraqi dissidents? Secretary Cheney suggested earlier today that he couldn't talk about this matter in open session, indicating that there may have been some movement? MR. BOUCHER: I didn't see that portion of his testimony. I'm not familiar with that. I think it's an issue that we have discussed before. We've confirmed the meetings that we have had, and I think we put up an answer yesterday that said that we hadn't had any others here. Q Have there been anymore incidents of foreigners in Kuwait being dumped across the border into Iraq? Or has that quieted down today, or what?

[Iraq: Reports of Deportations and Abuses]

MR. BOUCHER: There's nothing new in terms of incidents that I'm aware of. If you give me the opening, let me take the opportunity to sort of run through what we are doing and what the policy is. We do continue to follow up on reports reaching us, including press articles, of detentions and mistreatment of Palestinians and other foreigners in Kuwait. Our embassy's inquiries have come up with some evidence of isolated acts of abuse committed against perceived collaborators. We are following up these reports, and reports that this abuse may have been committed by renegade elements of the security forces or Kuwaiti resistance members. Whoever is responsible is acting contrary to announced Kuwaiti government policy which strongly opposes any such extrajudicial acts. We continue, of course, to discuss our concerns with the Government of Kuwait. We have received repeated assurances that the government is working to implement the rule of law, applicable to all Kuwaiti residents regardless of nationality and that no one is above the law. In the last few days, the Government of Kuwait has stepped up its investigations and has taken steps to prevent any abuses. These include posting Ministry of Justice officials to police stations and to military units to establish a civilian presence there. The Government of Kuwait shares our concerns about these reports of abuses, and we are in common pursuit of the facts. If I can mention one more thing. Over the weekend, our Ambassador travelled up to the border with the Kuwaiti Minister of State for Cabinet Affairs, who wanted to go up there and look at the situation personally and who invited our Ambassador to go along. At the border, the Minister made clear, it is not government policy to deport people. The Kuwaiti government is investigating all such reports, and government policy is that those who had a legal right to live in Kuwait before August 2 will be permitted to return. Q Do you know of any cases of any rogue elements, as you put it, being apprehended by the Kuwaiti authorities? MR. BOUCHER: I don't think that they or we have been able to identify them yet and apprehend people now. Q So how do you know that they're rogue elements? MR. BOUCHER: This is the kind of reports that are reaching us. We have talked to some of the people who have shown up at the border. Q What is a rogue element? Does he wear a uniform? MR. BOUCHER: Well, I called him a "renegade" this morning. Q What is a "renegade?" MR. BOUCHER: Until we find out exactly who these people are that are doing it and until we can identify them and until the Kuwaiti government can apprehend them, I don't think I can give you anymore precise details on that. It is suspected that they may be members of the security forces or the Resistance who are taking revenge against people they perceive as collaborators. This is decidedly contrary to Kuwaiti government policy. The Kuwaiti government is investigating to try to find out who these people are. They're called "renegade elements" because they're acting contrary to government policy. Q So anyone that does this is a renegade, by definition? MR. BOUCHER: By definition. Q Maybe we should import VCRs similar to those carried in Los Angeles to identify people who have been abused by the authorities. MR. BOUCHER: Alan, I'm sure we would welcome any evidence or information that our friends in the press can provide. Q Do you have anything on Poland? MR. BOUCHER: Nothing particular. Lech Walesa arrives today. He has meetings tomorrow, and we'll be talking to him about Poland.

[Israel: US Policy on Golan Heights]

Q Richard, General -- I'm sorry. Ex-General, Retired General Ariel Sharon, the Israeli Minister of Housing, has announced a plan to double the Jewish population on the Golan Heights, which I'm sure you're aware of and waiting to respond to. MR. BOUCHER: We saw the press report this morning. I think our policy on settlements has been made very, very clear over the past several months. The Secretary restated it in some detail on TV on Sunday. At this point, what we've seen are press reports of a statement by Mr. Sharon. We don't have any indication at this point that that is government policy or a government decision that's been adopted. Q Richard, just to make sure that I haven't missed something, does the U.S. Government still believe, or still hold that 242 and 338 apply to the Golan even though the Israeli Parliament claimed to have annexed it? MR. BOUCHER: The position on the Golan is a long-standing view. Resolution 242 applies to all fronts, including Golan. The United States does not accept Israel's 1981 decision to extend Israeli law jurisdiction and administration to the Golan.

[USSR: Early Results of Referendum]

Q Richard, do you have any further reaction, now that there are a few more results out in the Soviet Union, to the referendum? Anymore readout? MR. BOUCHER: The referendum? There are a few more dresults. I'll make a comment on that with a proviso that they're obviously more results to come and more detailed analysis that awaits that. As we have said previously, referenda can be a valid mechanism for assessing public opinion. There clearly is support in many areas of the USSR for preservation of the Union. The issue of what form the Union should take and how roles and responsibilities should be distributed between the republics and the center is still a subject of much debate. The referendum itself does not appear to have settled that question. Ultimately, it's an issue that the Soviet people will have to settle through a prolonged political process. We believe that this should take place through a peaceful dialogue. Q Do you have anything on the postponement of the NATO Council meeting? MR. BOUCHER: That's news to me. I'll have to check. Q Thank you. MR. BOUCHER: Thank you. (Press briefing concluded at 12:45 p.m.) (###)