US Department of State Daily Briefing #45: Wednesday, 3/20/91

Boucher Source: State Department Deputy Spokesman Richard Boucher Description: 12:44 PM, Washington, DC Date: Mar 20, 19913/20/91 Category: Briefings Region: MidEast/North Africa, Central America, Eurasia, Europe Country: United States, Jordan, Iraq, Kuwait, Lebanon, Egypt, USSR (former), Moldova, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Ukraine Subject: Mideast Peace Process, Terrorism, Refugees, Regional/Civil Unrest, International Law, Human Rights, Democratization, United Nations, State Department (ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED) MR. BOUCHER: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. I don't have any particular statements or updates. I'd be glad to take your questions. Q Richard, can I try you on the fact that on the way home the Secretary was saying that mid-week -- and here we are right at mid-week -- he'd be on the telephone talking to Mideast leaders and trying them out on some concrete ideas and suggestions. Has that process begun yet, do you know? MR. BOUCHER: I don't think he said mid-week. I think he said during the course of the week, or some phrase like that. But in any case, as far as I'm aware, he hasn't started burning the telephone lines again. Q Well, has he touched them at all? MR. BOUCHER: He's been working within the Administration. He's been consulting, thinking, and developing ideas. At this point, I don't think we've started any new campaign. Q He did make it very clear that he was going to be looking for some answers this week. MR. BOUCHER: That's right. And the President made clear that we wanted to follow up rather quickly -- as quickly as we thought we could on this. Today is not the day. Q Well, the week is slipping away. MR. BOUCHER: That it is, Bill. Q Does the State Department have an assessment of how deeply involved Iran is? I realize that you are being asked that question on an almost daily basis. New evidence continues to surface, and what are your views are on their involvement in what's happening in Iraq? MR. BOUCHER: Let me start off by saying that the evidence is inconclusive. We do know that Iran has been providing political and moral support to Shi'a dissidents in Iraq for some time -- for many years. Regarding the question of material support, the situation is less clear. Some material, including arms, is undoubtedly crossing the border, but I really can't provide you any conclusions on the amounts or the effect of that support. Q What about Rev Guard -- Revolutionary Guard units fighting inside the Iraqi border, presumably against the People's Mujahedin? MR. BOUCHER: I don't have anything on that. You mean against the Iranian People's Mujahedin? Q That's correct. MR. BOUCHER: That question did come up before, and we said we had no information on that. Q And you still have no information on that? MR. BOUCHER: That's my understanding. Q What about Iraqis who went to Iran? Have they been brought back? Is that a different sort of question? MR. BOUCHER: This gets into the area where we have to say that the situation is not clear enough for us to be able to confirm or give you anything additional on that. Q As long as we're on that track, is there any evidence that the Iraqis have tried to move any of their aircraft out of Iran? MR. BOUCHER: You'd probably be better off asking the Pentagon that. I'm not aware of -- Q They might have passed it along to you. MR. BOUCHER: I'm not aware of any. Q Do you have anything on additional helicopter use or additional fixed-wing planes other than the one that got zapped?

[Iraq: Update on Civil Unrest]

MR. BOUCHER: No, I don't have anything specific on that today. I can give you the general update on the situation. Heavy fighting between government forces and dissidents continues in the north in several areas. Fighting was taking place early today in the immediate vicinity of the city of Kirkuk and possibly inside the city itself. The government has been sending re-enforcements to the north. Fighting continues in the south, but the overall situation there is not sufficiently clear to characterize. Fighting was continuing early today in the vicinity of the Shi'a holy city of Najaf.

[Iraq: US Support for Territorial Integrity]

Q Richard, the United States has repeatedly said that it wants to see Iraq's territorial integrity maintained. But the Kurds apparently are claiming that they've seized control of Kurdistan. What happens? What would the United States do if, in fact, the Kurds in Iraq decided to secede? What if Iran seized a piece of territory? MR. BOUCHER: The President made very clear our attitude towards outside powers seizing pieces of territory, particularly with regard to Iran. So I think that question has been answered. The other questions are really hypothetical at this point. Our strong view, reiterated many times, is that we cannot support the dismemberment of Iraq. We support the continued territorial integrity of Iraq. That has been our position, and it remains our position. Q But isn't that clearly what's happening, particularly in the north where the Kurds are, according to some accounts, operating what amounts to a separate state on the Turkish border? MR. BOUCHER: At this point, Bill, I think the only assessment that I can give you is the one I just gave you, that the fighting continues in these areas; and I don't have any further assessment. Q Do you see a trend in the fighting? Ten days ago or so the Administration believed that the rebel forces were being put down. Then there was a period where it appeared that they seemed to be gaining momentum. Where are you on the various roller-coaster curves at this point? MR. BOUCHER: We described it last week, I think, as a see-saw effect in some places where the government appeared to be regaining control and then clashes appeared again. It's difficult to describe other than to say every day what we see the situation as. It's not something that we can draw a trend from or predict. It's just that the unrest is widespread. The unrest continues. The fighting continues, particularly in the north. It's a reflection of the widespread discontent with the Iraqi regime, a justifiable discontent. But at this point, we're not in a position to make some kind of predictions or draw a line that would lead to some final conclusion. Q Is it a surprise to the Administration that the Resistance continued with the ferocity that it has over these many days, especially when ten days ago it was pretty much pronounced dead? MR. BOUCHER: Well, I don't think we ever pretty much pronounced it's dead, first of all. Q Pretty close. MR. BOUCHER: You can make your judgments on that. We used the words that we used to describe it. On the question of "sort of surprised by developments," we're following the situation closely. We're watching what's going on. I think we're all aware of the widespread grievances and the reasons why people will be upset with the Iraqi regime and terrible hardships that the Iraqi regime has brought on the people there. So it's no surprise that people are rising up against the regime. As far as any further military assessment of trends, I've just tried to say that we have tried not to predict where it was going, and therefore I can't say that it is going contrary to any predictions. Q Do you want to characterize any of the insurgents? The government keeps criticizing the Iraqi regime, but it doesn't have anything to say about some of the people and the potential trouble they might be. Iranian-oriented Shi'ites -- they're not operating out of just hardship? Aren't they operating out of some sense that they want a fundamentalist government back, something about 15th Century in orientation? You keep slamming Saddam Hussein. I can understand that. But these aren't good guys, are they, that are trying to bring him down? MR. BOUCHER: The answer to that, Barry, just has to be that we've said repeatedly, it's for the Iraqi people to decide what their future leadership is going to be. Q I could ask you if you thought the Iranian people decided on Khomeni all by themselves or he just sort of swept them, and you may have a repeat of that. The President was very relaxed about it the other day. Whoever asked the question of him, he said, "Well, you're just taking a very pessimistic view, and so on, about the Shi'ites who are coming to power." MR. BOUCHER: We're watching the situation. We're following it, and we'll see how it turns out. Q Richard, there's sort of a discrepancy. Number 1, you say the Iraqi people have to decide; and on the second, you have no opinion on what's happening with the Kurds. The Kurds, whether you like it or not, are Iraqis, and they seem to be deciding very much for themselves what they want to do. So can you characterize that? MR. BOUCHER: I don't see what the contradiction is. The Kurds are fighting against the government as other groups are inside Iraq. They're taking a certain amount of power in their own hands, and we believe that the ultimate -- Q But you're saying that you believe in the territorial integrity of Iraq; and yet if the Kurds are in a situation where they're virtually forming their own state, you still say that there's got to be the territorial integrity of Iraq. You can't have it both ways, Richard. You seem to be wanting -- MR. BOUCHER: I'm not trying to have it both ways, Jan. First of all, you're drawing assessments of what the Kurds are doing, and those are not assessments that I have drawn. You're saying they're virtually doing this or almost doing that. They appear to be doing this. Those are not assessments that I have drawn, first of all. Second of all, the situation is such that there are various groups inside Iraq that have various grievances. Some of them are ethnic. Many of them are just based on the terrible hardships and terrible things that the regime has done to them. These groups are rising up against the government there. They are fighting now. We're watching the fighting closely. We're following what's going on, but it's not for us to choose alternates. It's not for us to say these guys are good and those guys are bad. These are people that have grievances that are rising up with arms, and it's a situation that we're following. Q Let me just follow up a minute and ask you, do you have any more reports? Have you been watching the situation closely? Have you gotten any more reports, Number 1, of more damage to the holy sites? You had reports of Karbala. What about Najaf? And also do you have anything yet on the use of CW? MR. BOUCHER: I don't have anything specific on the holy sites of Najaf, but I think I just told you that fighting was continuing early today in the vicinity of the holy city of Najaf. There's always the possibility of more damage, or damage to the holy sites there. On CW, again, as yesterday, we can't confirm that that has occurred.

[Iraq: Update on Refugees and Displaced Persons]

Q Do you have anything on the thousands of Iraqis who are living in the U.S. enclave in Iraq -- you know, their living conditions? MR. BOUCHER: The people down by the border? Q That's right. MR. BOUCHER: Our Embassy in Kuwait reports that a number of refugees and displaced persons are in the Safwan area both in Iraq and Kuwait. The number is approximately 1,000, but I have to caution you that the numbers change daily as there is a steady stream of new arrivals and at the same time others are departing the area. There have been Kuwaitis admitted home back to Kuwait; Egyptians who have been repatriated by their own government. In addition to these Kuwaitis and Iraqis who are showing up there, the border population includes a number of other nationalities such as the Egyptians, Sudanese, Yemenis, and Palestinians. These refugees and displaced persons in the area are being assisted with food and medical care by the Kuwaiti Red Crescent and by U.S. military forces. There were some initial health and nutrition problems among the border population. My understanding is that these have largely been solved. There are continued concerns about the potential for sanitation problems if the population continues to increase.

[Kuwait: Resignation of Cabinet]

Q Richard, do you have any comment on the apparent fall of the Kuwaiti Prime Minister's government? MR. BOUCHER: I guess the first thing to say, I think most of you have seen Skip Gnehm -- Ambassador Gnehm -- on television this morning who said it was not unexpected, that it had been discussed in Taif even before the return of the government to Kuwait. I think it's important that we note that Kuwait is a sovereign state which makes its own decisions, and they did not consult us in advance of this particular decision. The Kuwaiti Government spokesmen have explained the government's resignation as based on public dissatisfaction with the pace of reconstruction and the restoration of basic services. Q Was Secretary Baker among those with whom the change of government had been discussed when he visited with the Prime Minister only a week ago? MR. BOUCHER: I don't know. Q Richard, what is the U.S. Government's attitude towards aid given by any outside country to the rebels in Iraq? There is a report in a column in the New York Times today that not only is Iran supporting and helping the rebels but so is Turkey, so is Syria, and so is Saudi Arabia. Is the report accurate, and what is your attitude to such aid? MR. BOUCHER: As I said, the only area that I have information on is Iran. I gave you what information I could and said that the extent of the support and the effect is inconclusive. Our attitude is what we've said before, and that's other states should refrain from interfering in Iraq's internal affairs. Q And just if I could follow up. Is the U.S. supplying any assistance of any kind to any of the rebels in Iraq? MR. BOUCHER: Didn't we answer that question the other day? Q You didn't answer the question. You heard the question. MR. BOUCHER: I will look into it and, again, see if we can get you a well-crafted answer. Q If the U.S. won't tolerate the partition of Iraq, then at what point is it willing to intervene as this process continues? MR. BOUCHER: Bill, that remains a hypothetical question at this point. I think you're all aware of the incident this morning. Marlin said that we were not re-engaging; we were not starting up hostilities again. That remains the situation. Q So we'll tolerate the unrest inside until Saddam is overthrown and then we'll stop it? What do we do here? MR. BOUCHER: Those all remain very hypothetical and speculative. We can't predict the course of events at this point. Q Richard, in his testimony this morning -- Q But you seem to be trying to influence them. You're preventing Saddam from taking certain actions and you're not -- well, we don't know whether the United States Government is participating in any of the aid to the rebels. You do seem to be unclear as to what the U.S. position is on assistance, or the steps that Saddam can use -- the extent to which Saddam can go to control events in his own country?

[Iraq: Arms Embargo]

MR. BOUCHER: I think I would differ with that in two respects. The first, the extent to which he can go in using fixed-wing aircraft has been laid out very, very clearly. Iraq violated those rules that were laid down and they got an aircraft shot down this morning. That had been clearly laid out. The U.S. policy is that other states should refrain from interfering in Iraq's internal affairs. Outside countries should refrain from doing this. So while I don't have a precise and formal answer to David's question, I can give you the policy that is involved. Q Richard, also on Iraq. In his testimony this morning, Assistant Secretary Kelly appeared to have gone a bit further on an arms embargo against Iraq when he said, "Iraq must not have access to the instruments of war." He says this unconditionally without the presence or lack of presence of Saddam Hussein. Is that now the policy, that whatever happens to Saddam Hussein, the United States will favor a total embargo of all arms? Not only weapons of mass destruction? MR. BOUCHER: I'll have to check if that's what was meant by that sentence. I didn't read that portion of the testimony carefully. I don't remember what the context was. Q It's Page 5. MR. BOUCHER: OK.

[Jordan: Arms Embargo]

Q Richard, is the Senate moving to cut off aid to Jordan? Is that going to beat your investigation or your review? Maybe you don't have to have the review. MR. BOUCHER: Let me start off by saying that I think the President and the Secretary have both made it repeatedly clear that we were disappointed by the stance, the support for Iraq expressed by the Jordanian Government during the crisis. They made several references to that. Mr. Kelly was noting on the Hill this morning that they have generally observed the sanctions against Iraq at the same time. We are strongly opposed to legislation that would prohibit U.S. assistance to Jordan. We believe that we need to maintain maximum flexibility in the post-war period. We have to have flexibility to respond to possible Jordanian efforts to improve relations and to play a constructive role in the region. We believe that we shouldn't let our disappointment of Jordan's behavior during the Gulf War unncessarily constrain our post-war diplomacy. Q What is the state of the review by the Administration? MR. BOUCHER: The overall aid program remains under review. Q The overall aid program to Jordan? MR. BOUCHER: Yes. Q What's the purpose? The overall aid program to Jordan had been under review all of last year in order that a new program could be developed for this year's budget. Jordan took certain actions and the U.S. then said it was now again under review. What's the purpose of the extended nature of this review? Is it actually being reviewed, or is it frozen? MR. BOUCHER: Well, we have suspended all aid while completing a review of our security assistance programs. That's the best explanation I can give you at this point. Q But all the aid is gone for this year; no? MR. BOUCHER: No. Q Most of it? Hasn't most of it gone out? MR. BOUCHER: I don't think so.

[Iraq: Response to UN Resolutions]

Q Also, what is the state of play with the U.N. at this point, Security Council or otherwise, with the Secretary General? Is the United States negotiating tougher conditions against Iraq among members of the U.N. Security Council? MR. BOUCHER: We're considering a number of ideas for the U.N. at this point. This, of course, is based on the consultations that the President and the Secretary have just had. There's nothing formal before the Security Council at this point. I'd also note in this context that Iraq has not yet provided a report to the United Nations on its compliance with the last resolution, Resolution 686. Marlin Fitzwater described yesterday what we're looking for in the resolution. We expect the resolution would deal with a permanent ceasefire, specific recognition of the 1963 border between Kuwait and Iraq, a U.N. observer force along the border of Iraq and Kuwait, the question of sanctions, the elimination of weapons of mass destruction and the payment of reparations. Q Why are you going back to the '63 borders as opposed to the '90 borders? MR. BOUCHER: I guess I don't know precisely. My understanding is that those are the borders -- Q There's a difference. The borders, as they stood before the war began, are significantly different than the '63 borders, as I understand it, and the '63 borders would require Iraq to give up more land to Iran, in particular, than would, say, the July borders of 1990. MR. BOUCHER: This has been a matter of consultation between us and other governments. I guess the only best answer I can give you at this point is that those are the borders that we feel are -- Q And it sticks it to Iraq a little bit harder -- MR. BOUCHER: -- operative. Q -- right? I mean, that's -- MR. BOUCHER: Those are the borders that we feel should be recognized. Q Does the U.S. still support the idea that Iraq and Kuwait, post-war, should begin negotiations promptly on the subject of border delineation? MR. BOUCHER: We always felt that was a question for the restored and legitimate Government of Kuwait to determine and leave it to that to -- you can ask them what they intend to do. Q Richard -- MR. BOUCHER: As I said here -- Q Which government, yesterday's or today's? MR. BOUCHER: There is an interim government that will continue until a new government is formed, and that's my understanding of it. Q You said that Iraq hadn't reported yet to the U.N. MR. BOUCHER: That's right. Q But has it not delivered a list. It said it was going to. I don't know if it has yet. Has it delivered a list of the -- remember, it said that "quantities of gold" and other vague things -- has it yet been more specific in a list form what it's going to return? MR. BOUCHER: It's provided a couple letters on different subjects -- things like art objects. Airplanes, I think they sent a letter on. The general letter on returning quantities of gold and quantities of other things and airplanes. What we're looking for is to get from Iraq information on their compliance with all the aspects of the resolution. Q Coming back to the U.N. question for just a second, how does the U.S. envision this process taking place? Does Secretary Baker plan to convene a ministerial-level meeting of the Security Council to deal with this? Does he plan to talk with the Secretary General? Has he? MR. BOUCHER: I'm not aware of any particular plans like that, Ralph. At this point, our delegations are consulting with other members up in New York, and we're discussing the elements of the resolution. Q Richard, in light of the report of the Special Envoy of the United Nations Secretary General to Iraq which came with a very sad situation about the conditions -- the sanitary and health and food conditions -- inside Iraq. What is the United States planning to do to alleviate some of the suffering of the Iraqi people? MR. BOUCHER: Well, there's a couple things, I think, that are being done. There's been the envoy from the United Nations. The Secretary General has been out there. The Sanctions Committee has been meeting to look at various kinds of shipments at food supplies in particular and some sanitation equipment, I think, and things like that, and has been approving various shipments of food in particular. As you know, medicines were always exempt from the embargo to begin with, so there have been shipments of medicines that have gone in. So that's the situation at this point: the Sanctions Committee is looking at anything that needs to be approved. The U.N. is continuing to investigate, and there are, as I understand it, shipments of food and medicine that have been delivered. Q When will the Sanctions Committee finish its deliberation, or is this an ongoing -- MR. BOUCHER: It's an ongoing process. Q Ongoing process. MR. BOUCHER: People present proposals, and they look at them and approve them if they're appropriate.

[Desert Storm Supplemental: US Legislation to Block Arms Sales]

Q Do you have anything on the vote yesterday in the Senate concerning possible suspension of arms sales to countries who do not fulfill their financial pledges? MR. BOUCHER: Yes, I do. There were three sections of the Desert Shield/Desert Storm supplemental appropriations act that were passed yesterday by the Senate that we are strongly opposed to. Also, Sections 105, 106 and 107 of HR 1282 raise serious policy and constitutional concerns. On this legislation, we expect to continue to work with the House and Senate to improve the bill as it moves through Congress. You can ask OMB for the complete statement of Administration concerns. Let me highlight two of them that particularly raise strong exception in this building. Section 105(e) that would prohibit the transfer of Operation Desert Storm equipment, supplies and materiel to any foreign country in the Middle East without prior notification to Congress and specific authorization of the transfer by law and joint resolution. This provision creates an unnecessary burden on the ability of the Executive Branch to conduct foreign affairs activities that are already subject to significant congressional oversight in legislation such as the Arms Export Control Act. Q Would you hold it there? You've checked into both things? The prior notification as well as the transfer. You want the freedom to transfer, but you also don't like having to tell Congress about it, or is it -- what part -- do you object to both things they did? MR. BOUCHER: I think, first of all, to note that these kinds of transfers are already governed by legislation, governed by the Arms Export Control Act in particular, and our objection is to the adding of unnecessary burdens on top of that. Q Gotcha. MR. BOUCHER: The legislation both requires notification and requires specific authorization. And then the second section that I wanted to highlight was the one that I was just asked about. Section 107 places unnecessary and inappropriate constraints on the ability to provide sales credits or guarantees for military equipment or services to allied countries. Delays in full payment by these countries on Desert Storm financial commitments can be caused by U.S. action or inaction in determining costs and billing. We think it would be unreasonable to forego the opportunity to conduct business with these countries while awaiting full payment of commitments. Q Wait a minute. So what you mean by that is because the U.S. Government hasn't sent a bill out yet, it's not reasonable for Congress to expect payments to be received? Is that right? MR. BOUCHER: I think you also have to look at this in context with what I said yesterday -- that countries are meeting their commitments; that payments are coming in. There are technical processes that we go through with other countries in arranging transfers. Sometimes U.S. inaction could affect those processes. We think that countries are meeting their commitments. This is not an area that requires legislation, and therefore we don't support this legislation. In fact, we're opposed to it. Q A good-faith effort to meet their commitments. Under the legislation would they still be prohibited from getting it? MR. BOUCHER: It's such an absolute prohibition that if you did have technical glitches or questions of billing that arose where there was inaction on the U.S. side, that countries would be penalized in any case. Q Richard, there's a report in Al Aqbar, the Egyptian newspaper, that there's to be a regional peace conference in Cairo next month, and that the United States has been consulted about what Palestinians should be invited to it. Can you confirm that or deny it? MR. BOUCHER: I'm afraid I hadn't seen anything about that before.

[Lebanon: Terrorist Bombing; Christians Join Cabinet]

Q Do you have any commentary on the terrorist attack this morning against the Lebanese Minister of Defense, and a commentary about the visit of Mr. Poos here and discussions with the Secretary? MR. BOUCHER: The visit of Mr. Poos is in his capacity as Luxembourg being the presidency country of the EC. I don't have any further details on the visit at this point. On the Lebanon bombing, we strongly condemn this senseless act of violence and the loss of innocent life. By now all Lebanese factions should realize that dialogue, not violence, is the best way to reconcile their differences. Q Do you mean it's a Lebanese attack? MR. BOUCHER: I don't think we know at this point exactly who carried it out. I would say also that we see the agreement today of the Christian militia groups, "Kataeb" and "Lebanese Forces," to join the Cabinet as a positive sign. This will strengthen the Lebanese government and its ability to extend its authority and implement fully the Taif Agreement.

[USSR: Internal Structure and Borders]

Q The President said a few days ago on ABC, I believe, that the United States favors the territorial integrity of the Soviet Union, with the exception of the Baltic states. I have two questions. One, does that mean that the United States is opposed to the independence aspirations of Armenia, Georgia and Moldova? MR. BOUCHER: We have always said that the internal structure of the Soviet Union is something for the people there to work out. We've always encouraged people to work that out in terms of a democratic dialogue which allows people to fulfill their aspirations. At the same time, the Soviet Union that we recognized in 1933 had certain borders, and those are the borders that we recognize. Q All right. I'd like to follow that. At the same time the United States Government is talking openly to government representatives of those republics that are proclaiming their secessionist intentions. At the same time, the United States refuses to speak to representatives of the Kurds in Iraq on the ground that they pose a danger to the territorial integrity of the state. I suppose that the United States is also in favor -- and correct me if I'm wrong -- of the territorial integrity of Ethiopia. Yet it is talking openly to representatives of the Eritrean guerrillas. Why is it that a double standard -- to use a popular phrase -- is applied so consistently only to the Kurds? MR. BOUCHER: The point here, I think, is in several respects. First, around the world we meet with leaders and representatives of different groups in countries. We meet with opposition figures. We meet with local legislators in any country. Q Exactly. So why are the Kurds the exception? MR. BOUCHER: The question of the Kurds -- I believe we said only a few weeks ago that we had met with Kurdish representatives here. Q Well, that is not the case. MR. BOUCHER: Well, that is the case, because we met with them. Q Yes. Two officials of the Human Rights Bureau who confined themselves by an open statement of the Near East Bureau only to humanitarian issues, and yet no political issues would be discussed. Now, that doesn't apply insofar as I know to representatives of Moldova, Georgia or Armenia who have visited this town. So why are the Kurds so different from all the others? MR. BOUCHER: The answer is that we meet with different people, and we discuss different things with different people, depending on the situations in those areas. Q Richard, in the last three days, Ariel Sharon, Israeli Minister of Housing and Development, has been making statements about the Golan Heights as an integral part of Israel, and today in the papers in Israel he was calling for building more Jewish settlements and are locating more funds, intensifying the building, doubling the size and, you know, the number of residential units in the Occupied Territories, including East Jerusalem. What is the State Department comment on such statements from Israeli officials? MR. BOUCHER: The comment is the one I made yesterday, and I'm not aware of any change since then. Q But today there were reports that he was -- already the Minister of Housing reiterated that, and he called on the Settlers Council to intensify and build more settlements. You know, in the last three days there have been statements. MR. BOUCHER: As I remember it, that was the news yesterday as well, so my comment stands.

[Latin America: US Aid]

Q Richard, if we can briefly shift to Walesa's visit, the President announced today a reduction of 70 percent of the Polish debt and $470 million in additional help, as well as other initiatives. Alfredo Cesar was here last week. The Nicaraguans and the Panamanians are growing increasingly frustrated with the lack of funds reaching them. Is there concern that -- from the State Department on how Nicaragua and Panama and all the Latin American nations will be viewed -- you decide Eastern Europe versus aid to Latin America? MR. BOUCHER: Well, I don't have the specifics with me today. I think we can get those for you afterwards, but there is a lot of aid that has been allocated for Panama and Nicaragua. There is a lot of aid and programs that are being disbursed -- things that are going forward -- and I think we can view that with a certain amount of satisfaction that we are providing the assistance that those countries need.

[Lebanon: Hostages]

Q Richard, back on Lebanon for just a second. Have any of the U.S. Government's recent contacts with the Lebanese, Israeli, Iranian, Syrian governments, given the U.S. any reason to believe that you're closer to a hostage release now than you were two, three weeks ago, six weeks ago, six months ago? MR. BOUCHER: I'm afraid the only thing I'm about to do on that is to quote exactly what the Secretary said when people asked him that question during this trip, and that was, "I do not want to do anything that would in any way damage whatever possibilities and chances there might be for improvement on the hostage issue." So I'm just not going to say anything further about those contacts.

[Iraq: Testimony of Ambassador Glaspie]

Q Richard, one question on April's (Glaspie) appearance on the Hill this afternoon, was this just a straight request? Did she have to be subpoenaed? What's the story? They just asked her, and she went, because I thought Ambassadors didn't testify except at their confirmation hearings. MR. BOUCHER: There is a general policy that we have that Ambassadors don't testify. Given the interest in this case, we offered her testimony to the House and to the Senate as a one-time deal basically. She's appearing before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee this afternoon. She'll be in front of the House Foreign Affairs Committee tomorrow. We've made clear that policy. But the testimony was offered, and the dates and times were arranged. Q You've made clear which policy -- the one that it's a one-time deal? MR. BOUCHER: Yes. Q There is a first statement on this? MR. BOUCHER: I'm not sure at this point. I think it will be available on the Hill if there is one. Q Has the State Department got anything to say publicly, sort of standing behind April and the way that she conducted her job and carried out her brief in Iraq up until the time of the invasion? I mean, there are detractors. MR. BOUCHER: Those things have been said before. I didn't bring them with me today, but those things have been said before. I think April will explain and answer any question that the committees might have. Q Will she be returning as Ambassador to Iraq? MR. BOUCHER: Iraq has broken relations with us, and we've been in the process of establishing a protecting power arrangement for the Iraqis here. So I'd have to say that that's a pretty hypothetical question at this point. Q What is the status of that, by the way? MR. BOUCHER: It's still something that's under discussion between us and the Iraqis and the protecting power that's not finalized yet. Q The State Department seemed to be playing with the times when Glaspie was going to testify. Originally, she was supposed to be a morning appearance. The State Department tried to make it late in the afternoon, and the Committee interprets that as an attempt to downplay the coverage of it, and finally a compromise was reached after the Chairman apparently threatened the State Department. Are you aware of those negotiations, and what was the State Department trying to do by trying to push it until late in the afternoon? MR. BOUCHER: John, that's not the version that I got. I'll give you my understanding of it, that we offered her testimony to both the House and the Senate Committees. That the House came back and said, "Yes, we'd like her on Thursday," and we set up a time with them. The Senate came back and said, "We'd like her on Wednesday." We said yes. They proposed a time. We agreed to it. They then got back to us and said that in the interests of getting the full membership there or at least as many members as possible, that they would like a different time, and we agreed to that as well. Q What time is it? MR. BOUCHER: Two o'clock. Q There were two different times. There was the morning. Then it was 4:00 o'clock, and now there's 2:00. It sounds like a negotiation to me. This isn't -- MR. BOUCHER: I looked into this question this morning, Bill, and I was told clearly that the decisions on timing were made by the Committee in the interests of having -- as scheduling for the members. Q And there was no attempt by the State Department -- MR. BOUCHER: And that when they proposed times, we agreed. Q There was no attempt by the State Department to bury her testimony late in the day to make it more difficult for coverage. MR. BOUCHER: It's at 2:00 o'clock, John. Q I know. But there was no attempt during the course of this negotiation -- MR. BOUCHER: My understanding is that the changes in the times were solely the result of decisions made by the Committee and request by the Committee, to which we readily and rapidly and willingly agreed. Q Richard, will you tell us whether Ambassador Glaspie has met with Secretary of State Baker since she left Iraq? And, if so, has she met with him recently to discuss her testimony? MR. BOUCHER: I don't know. Q Could you take that question? MR. BOUCHER: I know she met with the President around the time of the videotape, right? When he made his videotape. She was part of that meeting. I assume the Secretary was there too. I'm not aware of -- Q Could you take the question of whether she has met with the Secretary to discuss her testimony -- to discuss what she would -- yes, her testimony? Leave it at that. MR. BOUCHER: Let me give you the answer that I don't believe she has. She's familiar with the issues. We haven't provided her with any special instructions or directions. She's very familiar with the policy and the issues, and I'm sure she will explain things and answer questions on the Hill this afternoon and tomorrow. Q After this hearing, will she be available or permitted to talk to the media here or outside this building? MR. BOUCHER: Margaret explained, I think, several weeks ago that she was free to talk to any member of the media who she wished. She has a number of requests from you all that have been passed on to her, but the decisions on what she wants to do in terms of press appearances and meetings and interviews with people in the press is solely her decision, and we're not about to force anyone to do appearances. Q Richard, one more question: Did she discuss her testimony with any other senior U.S. official besides the Secretary in advance of today's appearance? MR. BOUCHER: I know that we -- you know, the appearance was discussed with her in terms of logistics, and that people have discussed with her the current policies, and we've given her copies of other testimony, and things like that. So I'm sure she's up to speed. Q So the answer is yes. MR. BOUCHER: So, yes, she is. Obviously, any Administration witness that goes up there has meetings around the building and talks to people to make sure that they're up to speed on all the policy issues. But, as I said, she's very familiar with these issues. Q But on normal policy, your testimony gets approved at many different levels. Has that happened in this traditional way with her testimony? MR. BOUCHER: It depends on the testimony, John. There's no absolute procedure, and, as I said, I'm not aware at this point whether there's a written statement or not. If there was, I'm sure it would be approved in the usual fashion. Q Can you be specific, though, with whom she spoke about this appearance? MR. BOUCHER: No. I can't really. I mean, she's been working in the Near East Bureau, and she's been working out of the Office of Gulf Affairs there, and she's been working as part of the building and as part of the Bureau all along. So she's meeting with people all the time. Q Richard, on Don Oberdorfer's article Sunday in The Washington Post, it says that 80 percent of what the Iraqis published from the transcript of the interview or the talk with Saddam Hussein -- the meeting with Saddam Hussein -- was true or accurate, or something. Is the State Department going to be putting this special document out in the open and according to the recollection of the Embassy and Ms. Glaspie in the open? MR. BOUCHER: We don't have any plans to do so, but I'm sure if April is asked questions like that this afternoon, she'll be in a position to explain things. Q Thank you. (The briefing concluded at 1:24 p.m.) (###)