US Department of State Daily Briefing #46: Thursday, 3/21/91

Boucher Source: State Department Deputy Spokesman Richard Boucher Description: 12:34 PM, Washington, DC Date: Mar 21, 19913/21/91 Category: Briefings Region: MidEast/North Africa, Caribbean Country: Iran, Israel, Iraq, Kuwait, Cuba Subject: Arms Control, Terrorism, State Department, Immigration, Regional/Civil Unrest (ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED)

[Update: Iraq-Kuwait Border]

MR. BOUCHER: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. I thought in starting off, I'd update you on two things. The first is I was asked a question about the so-called 1963 border, and I've looked into that somewhat. The border has been used in practice for almost six decades by the two countries, and it was agreed between them in 1963. The issue now before the Security Council is whether in view of Iraq's violation of that border, the United Nations should formalize the demarcation of the border as part of its effort to restore international peace and security in the region. Q You are speaking of the border between Kuwait and Iraq -- MR. BOUCHER: That's right. Q -- not the border between Iraq and Iran. Is that correct? MR. BOUCHER: This is the border between Iraq and Kuwait, and we referred in our discussion of the elements of the U.N. resolution, the resolution would -- what's the word? -- offer specific recognition of the 1963 border between Kuwait and Iraq. Q Is it true that this border, as it was established just prior to the war, represents about a six-mile difference between what it was back in '63? In other words, Iraq has slowly but surely eaten five or six miles of Kuwaiti territory from that '63 line. MR. BOUCHER: That's not -- my understanding is that the border as established 60 years ago, almost, was the same one that was operative on August 1 of last year. But this had been the border in practice. Q But there is no -- MR. BOUCHER: It was agreed to formally by the countries involved in 1963, and that's why I say the issue now is whether the United Nations should take the step of demarcating that border. Q And do you know as a matter of fact if it's the U.S. position that if the declaration is -- resolution is adopted, is it the U.S.'s intention or even does it know if it is a legal fact that this precludes any discussion between Kuwait and Iraq over their border? Because during the war, when you were eager for [Iraq] to pull out, the Kuwaitis and the U.S. said, "Hey, you know, if they're willing to talk, okay with us if the restored government wants to talk to Iraq, fine." Is that by the boards now? MR. BOUCHER: Well, Barry, I think one of the things that we made clear during the war, was that the goal of the effort was to restore the legitimate Government of Kuwait, and it's up to the legitimate Government of Kuwait to make any decisions about negotiations of any kind that it wants to enter into or not enter into. So, as I said, the issue that we're focused on now is not so much the placement of the border -- because the border has been there for sixty years -- the issue is whether the United Nations should demarcate that border. Q Should the United Nations act cover the so-called "neutral zone" or "neutral area" between the two countries? MR. BOUCHER: I don't believe there is a so-called "neutral area" in that section. Q It is somehow trilateral. It's Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Iraq, as far as I understand. MR. BOUCHER: I'm not familiar with that. I'd have to check on that and see if there is such a thing. Q But you are saying, though, that the pre-August 2 border is pretty much the same or exactly the same as the 1963 border. MR. BOUCHER: That's my understanding. Yes. O.K.?

[Iraq: Civil Unrest]

The only other thing is since I get asked every day, rather than waiting for the question, I thought I'd give you the update on unrest in Iraq. Fighting between government forces and dissidents continues in the north. Dissidents remain in control of large portions of the predominantly Kurdish areas of northern Iraq, including areas close to the cities of Kirkuk and Mosul. Heavy fighting was continuing early today in the immediate vicinity of the City of Kirkuk and probably inside the city itself. Fighting continues in the south with some particularly heavy fighting taking place early today in the vicinity of the Shi'a holy city of Karbala. And that's the update. Q Well, the Kurds are making, you know, cheers, tossing hats, or whatever you toss in the air in Kurdistan, and they seem to be on the verge of declaring some sort of a provincial autonomy. In fact, they claim to have the whole province. Looking to you again for any policy statement as to whether the U.S. would look in disfavor at Kurdish autonomy. MR. BOUCHER: Barry, I'd just have to cite for you two things that establish our policy, because you're dealing with something you say they're on the verge of doing that we haven't even seen yet. Q Well, they sound exuberant and ecstatic and -- MR. BOUCHER: There are two elements of policy to consider in that. The first is that we strongly believe in the territorial integrity of Iraq, and we don't seek its dismemberment. The second is that it's for the Iraqi people to decide their leadership, their future structure of government, and any other internal considerations. Q Richard, the Mujahedin held a news conference this morning, claiming that their National Liberation Army of Iran is playing an important role in the fighting, particularly in the south but also around Kirkuk. Do you know if they are involved, and, if so, to what extent? MR. BOUCHER: I hadn't seen that report, so I hadn't asked the specific question, but I don't have any further information on the Iranian involvement other than what I gave you yesterday. Q Well, it comes into question particularly because of the Secretary's allusion this morning to a Lebanonization of Iraq. You mentioned the word "dissidents." Who exactly are they? Do they also include Iranians who filtered across the border? MR. BOUCHER: Again, I discussed the issue of Iranian support yesterday. I don't have anything to add to that today, Jim. Q The allegations that the Iraqis are using acid -- MR. BOUCHER: I don't have anything on those reports. Q Is acid a chemical weapon? MR. BOUCHER: Acid is not, in the sort of formal international law sense, in the various agreements and activities of the international community, used or considered a chemical weapon, although it's a chemical that could conceivably be used as a weapon. Of course, its use -- speaking hypothetically since I don't have anything to confirm it, you know -- against insurgents or demonstrators would, obviously be barbaric and inhumane. Depending on the circumstances, I am told such use could be a violation of various other provisions of international law. Q But that doesn't fall under President Bush's warning not to use chemical weapons, even though the effect on someone who gets mustard gas thrown at them or sulphuric acid thrown at them -- they're not likely to appreciate the fine niceties of the difference. MR. BOUCHER: Well, that's why I say that, you know, we would consider a use of something like that as barbaric and inhumane, and it could conceivably violate various provisions of international law. Q One more. Maybe you can explain something to me that I don't understand about the U.S. policy towards this unrest. The United States says -- and you've just said -- that it's for the Iraqi people to choose their leadership, etc. Yet they can't do so through elections. The only way they can do so is through violence, through a revolt, in which the sides are not equally armed. In other words, the only way for an Iraqi who wants to get rid of Saddam Hussein is to actually risk his life in a rebellion. Shouldn't the United States be doing something to level the playing field in some way, since it wants Saddam Hussein to go? MR. BOUCHER: Alan, it's neither our intent nor our purpose to try to choose the future leadership of Iraq. It's not in our intent or our purpose to try to intervene in the internal situation in Iraq. Q Well, by doing nothing, aren't you just basically giving Saddam Hussein a free hand to use his superior forces to crush this revolt? MR. BOUCHER: Well, that remains to be determined.

[Iraq: Testimony of Ambassador Glaspie]

Q Can I ask you something about Ambassador Glaspie's testimony, if you're through with statements? Are you? MR. BOUCHER: Sure. Q If, indeed, the Iraqis put out a doctored or inaccurate version of what she had said -- that she had warned Saddam Hussein not to invade Kuwait -- why did the President and the Secretary of State not correct the record? Why was she left sort of in the position of having been accused by a government you don't like of doing something that evidently she didn't do? Why didn't they take her off the -- why did they leave her twisting in the wind? MR. BOUCHER: Well, I'd have to disagree strongly with your characterization of what the President and the Secretary of State did. They -- Q Hanging out to dry -- (inaudible). MR. BOUCHER: I'll disagree with that too. Have we got any other phrases you want me to disagree with? They both addressed the issue several times. We addressed the issue here many times. I think we reminded you that it was an Iraqi transcript that we could not, would not vouch for. We reminded you of its origins. We reminded you that we gave you on July 26 a readout of the meeting where we described both what Ambassador Glaspie had said to Saddam Hussein and what Saddam Hussein had said to Ambassador Glaspie, and we've said repeatedly that we stood by our readout of that meeting. Q That's not entirely correct, Richard. I mean, Secretary Baker, when he was on "Meet the Press," was specifically asked whether Ambassador Glaspie's performance in the meeting was on his instructions. His answer was that "312,000 cables go out from the State Department every day," and the clear implication was that it was not on his instruction. So he did not clarify the record. The fact is he muddied the record by making it appear that she was not acting on his behalf. And the question is why, as you said, we could not vouch for the transcript, but Ambassador Glaspie wasn't telling you that. She clearly was saying that she can vouch for the transcript. It's false. MR. BOUCHER: Again, Tom, we've reminded people of the origins of the transcript. We reminded people that we had given a readout of that meeting, and we've said clearly that we stood by that readout of the meeting. The Secretary addressed the issue several times. He said that April was a fine public servant and various other things about that. Q He also said that he was not -- MR. BOUCHER: O.K. And as you listened to April's testimony yesterday, I think it was understood that she didn't receive, in fact, specific instructions for that meeting. She had had instructions over the course of weeks, and that that meeting was unexpected, and she carried out the similar -- you know, she repeated the instructions she had had before. So the issue of instructions, I think, has been further clarified by her, and it's in no way inconsistent with what the Secretary said. Q The issue, in all fairness, isn't really instructions. The issue is the fact that an Iraqi transcript was out there. What started the whole story was the fact that a transcript was out there which suggested that April Glaspie appeased Saddam Hussein. April Glaspie has testified yesterday that that transcript was a fabrication. Had anyone during the last seven months, from this podium or any other government official, simply said, "That transcript is a fabrication," there would have been no story here. Why did no one say that? Q I think, Tom, you're a more experienced journalist than I am. I'm not sure I can agree with you that there would have been no story here. During the period in question, forming the coalition, prosecuting the war, we said repeatedly we weren't interested in starting a sideshow, starting a side debate, on who took better notes of the meeting. The readout that we gave on July 26 of that meeting, that we stood by, said very clearly -- and I don't remember the exact words, I don't have them with me -- that Saddam tried to reassure her of his peaceful intentions, and that she said very clearly it was in our view that the crisis had to be solved peacefully. That is entirely consistent with the details that she gave out yesterday. We stood by that transcript, by that readout of it. If anyone had, I think, cared to do a detailed examination of the Iraqi transcript, knowing its origins, perhaps the view might have been different. Q Well, you know, Richard, it's partly, of course, whether the State Department defended a diplomat, but also what's baffling is why wouldn't the State Department say that he had been properly warned? In other words, why would they let a contrary version, because you wanted to drive home the point that the guy was told -- "this stupid guy," as she describes him -- was told not to invade Kuwait, but he was too stupid to understand that. I don't understand. I suppose people in the public service have to take a certain amount of trashing for the good of the country or something, but how about the good of the policy? Why didn't you -- not you, but why didn't Mr. Baker on one of his many television appearances say something about the doctoring of what she had told Saddam Hussein? MR. BOUCHER: Barry, if you're dealing with the issue of whether Saddam had been warned or not, again we had repeated many times the statements that we made in the two weeks leading up to August 2. We had very clearly, in the briefings here and in other public statements and testimony, said that we had interests and friends in the region that we would stand by. That record was evident, clear, and we referred you to it many, many times. The Secretary addressed the issue as well -- the issue of the so-called "green light" that was the assumption that people made based on the Iraqi transcript. And he said several times that it was ludicrous to assume that we had given him a green light. And we said, as we say today, that the issue was not really the two weeks before August 2. The issue was Iraq's invasion of Kuwait on August 2. We were dealing with that -- the results of that. We were forming a coalition, and we were prosecuting a war. That was the focus for us, and that remained the focus for us. Q Are you suggesting, Richard, there wasn't time to correct the record? MR. BOUCHER: No, I'm not. I don't think the record needed correcting. The record was clear. Q Richard, there was no vigorous effort on the part of the Department to correct the record. All of those responses you just described came in response to questions posed by others -- members of Congress, members of the press. There was no campaign to get out there and clear this record for the sake of the policy, the Department or the Ambassador. MR. BOUCHER: Bill, we repeated many, many times what the statements were. You asked the questions. We answered the questions. We considered the Iraqi transcript to be a sideshow. We said we were not interested in starting a side debate on that transcript. Our focus throughout the crisis remained the crisis, and what we could do about it. Q But, Richard, you never disputed it. You were asked repeatedly. If it wasn't you, it was Margaret, but you were asked repeatedly from here. The questions were addressed to the podium. I know, because I addressed some of them. You were asked if you disputed that transcript, and you never did. MR. BOUCHER: And we said that, "We're not interested in starting debate over the notes." We said that, "We're not interested in dealing with this Iraqi transcript." We said we gave a readout of the meeting on July 26. We stand by that readout. And, as I said, that readout was accurate and remains accurate today. Q In the name of the Department now, Richard, would you now say the Iraqi transcript was a fabrication? MR. BOUCHER: I would say what April said yesterday -- that it was heavily edited to the point of inaccuracy. Q Richard, you say that your statements before then were quite clear, but there were other statements which fuzzed the issue. For example, Kelly's testimony before the Hamilton Subcommittee and others where it was quite -- where it was said, for example, that there is no defense alliance, no defense commitment between the United States and Kuwait and anybody else in the Gulf; and other suggestions when, in response to members of the press and members of Congress, the answers were not nearly as clear or as forthright as you are now describing them. For example, when asked about the possibility of an invasion, I think it was you, about two or three days before the invasion said, "What is needed is not statements but a return to calm," or something. I'm paraphrasing. In other words, there was no warning -- no clear, coherent, persistent, consistent warning from the State Department. So what I'm asking, was there a clear policy that was badly enunciated, or what? MR. BOUCHER: Jim, I think there was a clear policy that was clearly enunciated, and I'd refer you to the record. If you want to do a further analysis of the entire record, feel free to do so. You have additional information from the information that April Glaspie was providing to the Hill yesterday and today. That's accurate, that's useful information for you if you want to do a further analysis. Q Just to clarify, you now say that the transcript was highly edited to the point of fabrication and you've known that for the last 7 months? MR. BOUCHER: And we've been unwilling and uninterested, particularly during the period when we had a major diplomatic effort and a war going on, in getting into a debate over the transcript, whether it was a general one or whether it was a line-by-line one. If we'd started a line-by-line debate, I'm sure we'd still be doing it now. Q Even though you knew full well that the reputation of one of your senior Ambassadors in the region was being sullied as a result of your not saying anything? MR. BOUCHER: Tom, I just have to refer you to the statements that the Secretary and the President made during the course of this crisis where they stood up for Ambassador Glaspie and where the Secretary, in particular, said the charges that she had somehow given a green light were just ludicrous. John. Q She didn't deny yesterday that she had made the comment about our policy being one of desiring Arabs to solve Arab disputes but that that comment was combined with a warning to Saddam Hussein, of some sort, not to invade Kuwait. Were those the instructions? Was Baker aware of those instructions? In other words, I'm still confused about whether the Secretary actually gave her the instructions to make those two points or whether some other officials gave her those instructions in the cable that she described and Baker was unaware of the fact that she had conveyed that message? MR. BOUCHER: John, again, the question of instructions was addressed by Ambassador Glaspie on the Hill yesterday. The instructions that she had, that she carried out, the statements that she made to the Iraqi government -- I think she cited several of statements that we've made back here -- that she then turned over and used on repeated occasions in her meetings with the Foreign Ministry -- they were consistent with the policy. She was saying the same thing out there in her meetings as we were saying back here both publicly and privately. Q The impression is there, right or wrong, that Baker has deliberately put some distance between himself and what she said. Were those instructions ones that he approved, that he was aware of, that he authorized? MR. BOUCHER: I frankly don't know what cables he authorized at the time. Q Richard, I may be a little bit dense, but can you explain to me how putting out this version of the conversation would have damaged the effort to build the coalition? MR. BOUCHER: Norm, it's basically whether we were interested in getting into the issue. The issue of this transcript was not the issue. The issue was Iraq's invasion of Kuwait. The diversion of attention, the creation of a side show was not something that we felt appropriate and necessary at the time. We gave a readout of the meeting. We stood by the readout of the meeting, and we stood by Ambassador Glaspie. So I don't have any problems with what we did. Q In fairness, Richard, the side show was created because you weren't responding and defending her. Not because you were. Had you responded and defended her, according to the way you're doing today, there never would have been a side show. MR. BOUCHER: The side show was created by the Iraqi release of the transcript. Q And punctured immediately by a statement saying it was a fabrication? MR. BOUCHER: We were not interested in playing that game. It's anyone's supposition as to what might have happened. I guess our feeling was that if we started it, there would be no end to the questions. We'd probably still be doing this today. Q Which we are. Q Richard, she said yesterday that Saddam Hussein was conciliatory in the meeting and after the meeting the threats against Kuwait stopped. Yet we now know, and I suppose you knew at the time, that the military buildup continued. The day before the invasion took place, the Secretary of State discussed the buildup with the Soviet Foreign Minister in Irkutsk. Why was she allowed to leave her post? MR. BOUCHER: I don't have any particular answers on that decision at this point. She was. Q Was she called back here? MR. BOUCHER: I don't have any further explanation. One of the elements was that she was -- Saddam Hussein had asked her to convey this message back to President Bush of his peaceful intentions. I don't have any further gloss on the issue of why she left post at that particular moment. Q She did that in the cable. She was schedule to leave, as I think she told -- according to the transcript -- on some kind of leave and expressed her gratitude of being able to get out? MR. BOUCHER: I think she basically went ahead with plans that had been made before. Q She spoke about massive deception. Was the United States deceived by that meeting? She certainly seems to suggest that she was. MR. BOUCHER: That meeting was part of a total picture of what she was getting in Baghdad, what other people were getting from the Iraqis, what our Allies and other people in other countries who were following situation -- what they thought -- as well as the information that we had from intelligence sources. If I remember correctly, on the first day the President indicated what we knew from various intelligence sources and when we knew what was about to happen. Q The consequence of her leaving was that the United States was represented, ably no doubt, but all the same was not represented by one of its foremost Arab experts by a person who was not an Arab expert and didn't even speak Arabic; correct or not? MR. BOUCHER: Joe Wilson performed ably and admirably. I don't think anyone can say that there were negative consequences from the fact that Joe Wilson was in Baghdad and that April was back here. Q Nevertheless, she was the senior officer. She was the Ambassador? MR. BOUCHER: That's a fact, yes. Q Do you know if the Department has any plans for Ambassador Glaspie? MR. BOUCHER: It would not be for me to announce, in any case. I don't have anything particular on that. Q Do you agree with her characterization that both the United States and other governments were foolish because they didn't realize that he was stupid and didn't believe the clear and repeated warnings? Were you foolish? MR. BOUCHER: It's not a word that I often use from this podium, but I don't take exception to her characterization of how things were viewed. I think, as I said, we've made other statements about what we knew and what we thought. Those stand on the record. Q What's the difference between "foolish" and "stupid?" Q Richard, unless you're going to answer that -- MR. BOUCHER: No, I'm not.

[Iran: US Contacts]

Q -- how does the U.S. deal with Iran now in this post-war period? We were told -- maybe it was said here, too, but were told on the plane that the U.S. used to update them on the war situation and there's a continuing way of being in touch with them. But I'm not sure if it's through the Swiss. Is there any direct U.S. contact with Iran at this point? MR. BOUCHER: The channel that we use to communicate with Iran, we've spoken of before. Our third-party representative is the Swiss Government, and we use them to communicate with Iran. Q Is that the only channel to Iran at this point? MR. BOUCHER: If you're asking, "Do we have direct contacts other than the technical negotiations that go on in The Hague over the financial issues and the Algiers Accords," we don't have any direct contacts. The issue came up, I think, a week or so ago and all of us restated our long-standing policy: That we would meet with an authorized representative to discuss substantive issues of hostages and terrorism. Q Do we have indirect contact through, other than the Swiss? The Syrians, for instance? MR. BOUCHER: Barry, the acknowledged channel is the one through the Swiss. They are the third-party protecting power. Q You're not ruling out -- MR. BOUCHER: That's the only one I'm in position to talk about. Q What sort of official messages are being passed on that channel now as Iran becomes more and more overtly involved in the situation in its neighboring country? Has there been a statement, for example, which the U.S. Government has been making publicly, that we don't think it's in anyone's interest to interfere in their neighbor's business? Have you been saying that sort of thing through this channel? MR. BOUCHER: John, we have not, in almost all cases in the past, specified what we've been saying to the Iranians through that channel, or exactly how often and when it had been used. I don't have anything on it for you today. I'll be glad to ask but I'm not expecting to get an answer at this time. Q Obliquely put, have you had words to Iran about not messing around next door? MR. BOUCHER: We've made very clear our views on that publicly -- the President has. We have from here. Q You frequently say publicly and privately when you are trying to express something. Have you expressed that view privately to the Iranians through any channel? MR. BOUCHER: That's the question you asked earlier. I'll be glad to check for you, but I'm not confident that I will have an answer on what we said to the Iranians in that channel. Q A very specific proposal or feeler, or whatever you want to call it, was made some time ago to Iran along the lines that you describe -- that we would authorize, or the United States would authorize a one-on-one meeting between a State Department official and a Foreign Ministry official to talk about the whole relationship. Have you had any response to that? That was made last fall. MR. BOUCHER: We talked about that last week. The Iranians had not taken us up on the offer. I'm not aware that they have at this point either. Q Can you check whether they've, within the last week, taken this up? MR. BOUCHER: I'll check and see. Q Speaking of following up, the Secretary said on the plane that he would be following up on his consultations with various countries of the Middle East on the telephone. It's Thursday. Anything to report? MR. BOUCHER: No, I really don't have anything particular. I haven't asked for the full list of his phone calls. I know that officials at other levels are in touch with the governments and the places he visited, and we're discussing the issues internally and how to proceed. But I haven't really checked on his phone list. Q Do you know if he has asked for any specifics, as he told us he would be, of any of these governments? MR. BOUCHER: I just don't know about it. Q This morning, King Hussein was on television saying that as far as he was concerned he was ready to revive the proposal for a joint Jordanian-Palestinian delegation if that was acceptable to other parties. What's the U.S. view of that at this point? MR. BOUCHER: I think that would be the kind of specific thing that I'm not in a position at this point to try to address. Let's go to David. Q On Iraqi television today, Saddam Hussein was shown meeting with a senior Iraqi cleric, a grand ayatollah, whose name I can't pronounce. MR. BOUCHER: They were kind to me and didn't even put the name in my guidance, so I don't have to try. Q Some of the rebel organizations are saying that the man was kidnapped. Does the U.S. know what happened? MR. BOUCHER: We don't have any way of offering one version or the other -- confirming the validity of one version or the other. We've seen the media reports in Iraq as well as the claims by the opposition members. I think our only general view would be to say that, obviously, anyone appearing on Iraqi television is not necessarily a free agent.

[Israel: Department Report on the Occupied Territories]

Q Richard, is there any State Department information about the speed of settlement of Soviet emigres on the West Bank and other Occupied Territories? There's one report that it's three times what has been said, or something like that. Have you anything on that? MR. BOUCHER: No, I don't have any particular details or assessments like that for you at this point. There was a report that we had to do for Congress that was just sort of a -- let me find out what it was. It is a report that we submitted to the House Appropriations Committee. The request for the report from Congress accompanied the Foreign Operations Export Financing and Related Programs Appropriations bill for Fiscal Year 1991. We provided a report on Israeli settlement activities in the territories occupied by Israel in 1967. It was sent to the Committee on Wednesday morning. Q Other than the contacts with the Kurdish rebel leaders that you have acknowledged before which have been of a human rights nature, now that the Kurds apparently control what you yourself describe as large portions of territory in northern Iraq, has the State Department had additional contactswith any of these Kurdish groups -- any official contacts? MR. BOUCHER: There's none that I'm aware of, John. Q And why is the reason for that when they are controlling more and more -- normally, the U.S. Government loves to talk to opposition types, especially when you publicly said you wouldn't mind if the current leader were dead. (Laughter) MR. BOUCHER: The issue of meetings is addressed on a case-by-case basis as people come to town and ask to meet with us. I'm not only not aware of any meetings but I haven't heard of any requests one way or the other in recent days. Q Wouldn't you seek them out? We seek out opposition leaders in other countries all the time. MR. BOUCHER: In this case, our policy on meetings with the Iraqi opposition is something that's determined on a case-by-case basis, and we decide what meetings are appropriate when we get requests. Q On that previous question, what was the gist of the State Department's report to the Appropriations Committee? MR. BOUCHER: It was a report on settlement activities in the territories occupied by Israel in 1967. I'm told it was not a study with conclusions. It basically reviewed the information that was available. Is there such settlement or is there not? MR. BOUCHER: There is settlement activity. It's a report on the activity -- Q Of the emigres? MR. BOUCHER: I don't know at this point what the details on the emigre -- how they were handled and -- Q Are you going to make it public? MR. BOUCHER: It's similar to many other reports that we provide to Congress. Where the Congress requests a report, we provide it to the Congress and then leave it to them to decide on the public release. Q Richard, just a follow up on the Kurd question. Have any U.S. diplomats based in Turkey or Syria met with Kurdish leaders recently? MR. BOUCHER: David, I'm not aware of any meetings. I'll double check to make sure that's the case. Q Just a semantic quibble on your opening statement about the large portions of northern Iraq. Yesterday, I think it was large areas. Are you sort of suggesting that the fighting has narrowed, or are you just changing words? MR. BOUCHER: No, I think we decided to use a different word today. I don't think it's meaningful in any way. Q Where does the bidding stand on a U.N. ceasefire resolution which, I gather, is going through a series of permutations and combinations of it in New York? MR. BOUCHER: We have presented copies of a draft resolution to the members of the Security Council for their consideration. Consultations on this draft are on-going in New York, Washington, and Security Council member country capitals. Q Is this a U.S. draft or is this the British draft? MR. BOUCHER: It's a draft that was typed up by us. It's the result also of -- (Laughter) It's a U.S. draft, Bill, but it's based on considerable consultations that the Secretary and the President have had. Q Is there any Chinese element in this draft? A serious question: Have you taken enough soundings to be able to tell us if everybody agrees that Iraq should be deprived of lethal weapons capabilities and stockpiling? MR. BOUCHER: At this point, lethal weapons, weapons of mass destruction, I think I'd only note that the President and John Major addressed it when they were in Bermuda. I don't really have anything to add at this point. The draft is a matter of consultation with other countries at this point. Q The Chinese were consulted all along -- before the typing took place, there was consultation? MR. BOUCHER: I don't know exactly which countries were consulted in the past few weeks. Q Richard, has the State Department or any other agency asked the half dozen countries that are harboring Iraq's civilian aircraft -- Yemen, Sudan, Mauritania, India, a couple of others -- not to return them because it would violate the sanctions, the U.N. economic sanctions? MR. BOUCHER: Let me look into that and get something on it. Q There's a report in a British newspaper today that said that Kuwait has threatened to withdraw money from several European banks unless they block as much as $5 billion in secret Iraqi accounts. Apparently, this is money that has escaped the sanctions. Is the United States aware of it, and has it taken any position on this? MR. BOUCHER: I haven't seen the report, Carol. I'll have to look at it. I'm not familiar with that. Q Another area? MR. BOUCHER: Yes.

[Cuba: MiG Pilot Defects]

Q Do you have anything on this Cuban pilot who defected aboard a MiG-27? MR. BOUCHER: A MiG-23, I think. We'll find out shortly. A Cuban Air Force officer flew a MiG-23 fighter to the Key West Naval Air Station on March 20, landing just before noon. The pilot has requested political asylum and his request is being processed. At the pilot's request, we're not releasing his name. Q What happens to the airplane? MR. BOUCHER: Our general practice is to return Cuban Government-owned aircraft and vessels. I'm told the last -- the only previous Cuban MiG defection occurred in 1969. It was a MiG-17, and the aircraft was returned to Cuba. Q How soon will this one be returned? MR. BOUCHER: I don't know, Bill. Q In boxes, or -- Q Richard, there's a report that the United States has changed its policy with regard to a plebiscite in Kashmir. Do you have any guidance on that? MR. BOUCHER: I'm afraid I don't, Alan. It's a subject that I might look into. Q Thank you. MR. BOUCHER: Thank you. (Press briefing concluded at 1:11 p.m.) (###)