US Department of State Daily Briefing #54: Wednesday, 4/3/91

Tutwiler Source: State Department Spokesman Margaret Tutwiler Description: 12:24 PM, Washington, DC Date: Apr 3, 19914/3/91 Category: Briefings Region: MidEast/North Africa, E/C Europe, Central America, Europe Country: Iraq, Kuwait, Albania, Iran, Israel, Panama, Turkey Subject: Regional/Civil Unrest, Development/Relief Aid, Refugees, Democratization, EC, International Law (ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED) MS. TUTWILER: Yesterday, I told you all what we knew at the time about the elections in Albania that had been held. We have more information today, and I'd like to share that with you.

[Albania: Albanian Election Process Flawed]

The Albanian Central Election Commission has officially announced that the Albanian Workers Party won 162 seats of the 250-seat Parliament; the Democratic Party, 65; the Greek Party, 3; the Veterans Committee, 1. Seventeen candidates face runoff elections this Sunday and one seat will be recontested April 14. Concerning our overall reaction on these elections, the March 31 elections were the first step on the long road to democracy in Albania. The democratic opposition, which did not exist four months ago, now has over a quarter of the seats in Parliament and is pressing for political freedom and economic reform in a society with little recent experience in the democratic process. A partial foundation has been laid for political pluralism and democracy. Based on reports from U.S. observers and other international election monitors, it appears that the electoral process fell short in several key areas of CSCE standards for free and fair elections. During the campaign, the opposition parties were allowed only limited access to the government-controlled media, although they were allotted some time for televised political broadcasts and were able to publish newspapers that received partial dissemination. Official parties enjoyed overwhelming use of state resources while opposition parties had limited access to these resources. There are also credible reports of widespread intimidation against opposition party candidates and activists during the campaign and on election day. It is questionable why the authorities delayed issuing official election results for over two days, and that the list of winning and losing candidates contained no vote count. We call upon authorities to investigate fully and openly all charges of electoral abuses and to propose appropriate measures to redress legitimate grievances. Now it is up to all elements of Albanian society to help the newly created multiparty system function in an effective manner. In particular, the majority party must fully respect the rights of the minority parties as stipulated by CSCE. The United States firmly supports the principles of democracy in Albania and those who are working to establish freedom and human rights. The other thing I would like to do today -- Q Margaret, on that one -- MS. TUTWILER: Sure. Q Copy of that, please? MS. TUTWILER: Sure. Q In light of these electoral shortcomings, do you think now it was premature to have held these elections so early without giving the opposition a chance to gear up their own electoral machinery? MS. TUTWILER: I'm not really, Jim, in a position to best judge that. I know this issue came up in a number of other Eastern European countries the first year of the Bush Administration concerning timing. I, myself, to be quite honest with you, have not specifically looked at the timing in this specific instance here in Albania. I'll be happy to do it for you, but I don't have for you at my fingertips an accurate answer for you on how long they indeed allowed this to go on. I just have not had an opportunity to study it in the depth that I would like to. Q Do you have any details on the kind of intimidation which the authorities engaged in? MS. TUTWILER: I'll see if the European Bureau can be more forthcoming on what types of intimidation and specific cases were we have incidents of from my team that's there on the ground. Q Margaret, your statement urges all segments of Albanian society to work with the newly elected parliament. Considering the election ploys you've just enunciated, why should they do that? MS. TUTWILER: Because, as we also just stated, Norm, this is a step on a long road and a long process. As you know, in any number of other countries that were moving last year or earlier than last year to democracy, there were inaccuracies in those elections themselves, but we did not come to a conclusion based on that there were inaccuracies, throw the whole thing out, and start over. I do not know how much further evidence our people there on the ground and international observers and observer teams will come up with, but at this point we do recognize after 52 years of basic total isolation that Albania is making steps -- they may not be perfect steps -- but they are certainly making steps on the road toward opening their society and moving towards democracy. Q Margaret, given your assessment, what impact might that have on the speed of normalizing relations that has now begun? MS. TUTWILER: To be honest with you, I'm not sure where we are in that process. I believe we had a ceremony here at the State Department while the Secretary of State was on the road, formally recognizing Albania after 52 years. So I'm not sure exactly what you mean. When are we sending an Ambassador there? Q I guess, yeah. Exactly. MS. TUTWILER: I don't know. Q Would it in any way slow down the process? MS. TUTWILER: I haven't heard anyone mention such a thing.

[Iraq: Civil Unrest Update]

May I do an Iraqi update next for you? The Iraqi government appears to have control of the majority of the towns in Iraq. Clashes continue even in areas where the government has a heavy military presence. Scattered fighting continues in northern and southern Iraq between government forces and dissidents. Government forces appear to be advancing on the northern town of Sulaymaniyah, which is believed to be controlled by dissidents. Other major northern towns, including Irbil, appear to be in government control. The government continues to send additional reinforcements into northern Iraq. In the south, clashes between government forces and dissidents continue in locations along the lower Tigris River. Iraqi forces remain deployed in and around the City of Basra. As of today, we have no signs of any other towns being leveled than the one I mentioned to you yesterday. Q Margaret, on the Iraq situation, Ambassador Pickering said this morning at the United Nations that once the vote is taken on the cease-fire resolution, the United States will enter into closed-door consultations with other members of the Security Council on the Kurdish situation. Can you give us some idea of what the United States is prepared to do or support, particularly whether or not they would move to help the refugee situation? MS. TUTWILER: Correct. I am not aware that Ambassador Pickering is going into a closed session. I am very well aware that Ambassador Pickering was going to make a statement this morning, saying that as soon as we get a cease-fire resolution, which is -- the latest I have on that is that the Security Council was supposed to begin at 11:30. I was told right before coming out there, they had just begun. I would like to note that yesterday I had mentioned that the Cuban government had raised 34 amendments. Last night they suggested five more, so there are now 39 Cuban amendments before you can get to actually voting on this resolution.

[Iraq: UN Discussion on Cease-Fire Resolution and Aid]

To answer your question concerning what is it the United States is going to do in turning our attention toward the Kurdish situation. It is not resolved, John, whether the United States or the Security Council of the United Nations will be looking at a resolution, or it will be looking at a statement from the President of the Security Council. But there is no question, on an urgent basis, that the United States Government will be with others turning our attention to this situation. I would like to point out that discussions concerning the situation in Iraq have been going on over the last three or four weeks in capitals and at the United Nations with various levels of governmental officials throughout our government. As the President stated yesterday, we are extremely concerned about reports of atrocities in Iraq, both in the Kurdish regions of the north as well as in southern Iraq and about refugees fleeing into Turkey and other countries. We condemn any violence against innocent citizens. From the outset of this crisis, the United States has led an international effort to provide humanitarian assistance for those fleeing the violent rule of Saddam Hussein. Tens of thousands of refugees have been supported in Turkey, Jordan and elsewhere in the region by United Nations agencies funded by the United States and other countries. We have been working with these same agencies with regard to humanitarian efforts that are required both now and after U.S. forces withdraw. Ambassador Pickering, as I've just said, has therefore been instructed, immediately following passage of the cease-fire resolution, to pursue on an urgent basis Security Council action to address these pressing concerns. We have had discussions with the French, the Turks and many other countries, both, as I said, in capitals and in New York, and these discussions will begin today, we hope -- if there's a cease-fire vote -- to focus on any specific action that collectively we can take. We want to find the most effective means for the United Nations to express its condemnation of the brutality taking place in Iraq, and its determination to do what it can to address this situation. Q What is the U.S. --

[Iraq: US Humanitarian Aid Efforts]

MS. TUTWILER: Can I finish? Yesterday I gave for you all a fairly comprehensive list, because many of you were asking me on what exactly we had done concerning refugees and humanitarian assistance. Today I have a more comprehensive list that I would like to share with you. Some of this is repetitive from yesterday; some of it is new. We are working in a variety of ways to provide humanitarian assistance to Iraqis who are suffering from the current fighting. The President has made clear that we would provide humanitarian help for the innocent people caught in the tragic situation in Iraq, and indeed we have been. First, we have been working with international organizations throughout this crisis to help refugees fleeing the fighting. In January, the United Nations Disaster Relief Organization and other United Nations agencies establish a program, including camps, in Syria, Turkey, Jordan and Iran to handle between 115,000 and 400,000 refugees. The United States contributed $7.6 million to this effort in refugee funds and food. The bulk of the money, $38 million out of the $63 million total, as you all know, has come from Japan. Our military, working with the Kuwaiti Red Crescent, is providing assistance to those fleeing the fighting into southern Iraq, and we went into the explanations of that yesterday. We are encouraging the International Red Cross to set up facilities in southern Iraq to take care of people once the United States troops depart. Of course, these efforts depend, as I said, earlier on cooperation from the Iraqi government, the Iraqi leadership. But we, as we said, are discussing this right now with the ICRC. Early on we provided $1 million to the Red Cross to assist needy people in the region. We have supported the efforts of the Sanctions Committee to ease the shipment of food and humanitarian supplies to people in need in Iraq. We are working with the International Red Cross in their efforts to get assistance to those who need help inside of Iraq. We understand the Red Cross will send survey teams in the next few days into northern Iraq to assess relief needs in that area as well as in Turkey. We will continue our involvement and support of international efforts to see to the needs of people caught in this tragic situation. Q Margaret, can you be any more specific in terms of what the U.S. could do? I mean, are you talking about more humanitarian aid, or are you talking about a statement of condemnation? Are you talking about any kind of other intervention that might assist all of these refugees? MS. TUTWILER: I think, Carol, as I tried to point out, this is something that everyone has been and continues to be alarmed by. As we said yesterday, this is heart-wrenching, it's appalling and it's tragic. Everyone has also been in agreement that we needed to -- we've all witnessed how long it has taken to get this very comprehensive cease-fire resolution -- that that needed to get done. Hopefully, that will get done today. And then immediately, as I said, on an urgent basis, our attitude and most others is to turn our attentions to -- collectively in the United Nations forum -- what is it that we can do. And I don't have a specific for you today. I don't have a specific other -- if it will take the form of a United Nations resolution, or if it will be simply a statement by the Security Council President. Is it going to focus solely on is more aid needed. Do you need more International Red Cross representatives. But it will definitely be in the humanitarian, as all of this has been, area inside of this equation. Q Does the U.S. have a position on the French and Turkish resolutions, both of which advocate specific things in terms of aid? MS. TUTWILER: My understanding is there is neither a Turkish nor a French resolution. Q I'm sorry I used the word "resolution." I know there is no resolution, but both the Turks and the French, as you know -- MS. TUTWILER: Have raised -- have sent a letter. Q -- have raised the issue in a letter -- MS. TUTWILER: Correct. Q -- and said that they would raise it again as soon as the vote has been taken -- MS. TUTWILER: That's right. Q -- in the Security Council -- and you're quite aware, in the Department, of what they're likely to propose. MS. TUTWILER: To be perfectly honest with you, the French and the Turks have both said publicly and in private, they too are in total agreement with the United States and others that we need to have the cease-fire resolution done and completed. The Turks sent a letter to the President of the Security Council last night, Bill, in which the Council was asked to meet to consider Iraqi action against citizens of northern Iraq and to adopt necessary measures. Those measures are not spelled out. I do not have for you what the measures would be. The Council President is circulating that letter to its members this morning. Once the Council has passed the resolution dealing with the formal cease-fire, it will then turn, as I said, to the humanitarian situation in Iraq. France is also concerned about the humanitarian situation in Iraq, as we all are. It has not presented a resolution to the Council, but it tends to bring the situation to the attention of the Council after the vote on the cease-fire resolution. So I think that there is no disagreement on a number of things: (1) get the cease-fire resolution adopted and passed; (2) on an urgent basis and immediately the United Nations, the Security Council, turns its attention to the humanitarian situation in Iraq. As far as any government that I personally am aware of that has presented a specific yet or tabled a document or has a specific idea in mind, I'm not sure that it's jelled that far yet.

[Iraq: Turkish Border Refugees]

Q Margaret, leaving aside the question of U.N. action on this, can you confirm that the Turks have closed their border with Iraq and are thus preventing Kurdish refugees from fleeing across into Turkey? MS. TUTWILER: No. We cannot confirm that, and in fact the Turkish Foreign Ministry spokesman this morning said that they were saying that they will close them. As of this briefing, the borders are not actually closed. Further detail I can tell you on the status of the borders is that we understand that Iraqi refugees continue to enter Turkey through the mountains near Cukurca and by crossing the river along the Turco-Iraqi border near Silopi. The bridges at the Habur border crossing were destroyed by the Iraqis during the Gulf conflict. While the Turks are obviously concerned that hundreds of thousands of refugees may be arriving along their border with Iraq, we understand that those refugees who have made it to Turkey have not been turned back. Turkey would clearly need significant international assistance to handle any international refugee flow. Our Ambassador, Morton Abramowitz, met yesterday and I believe again today with officials at the Foreign Ministry to discuss this very situation. It was brought, to be quite honest with you, to our attention yesterday, and he was immediately over at the Foreign Ministry. We have seen reports in the press of up to 200,000 that are massed there. We cannot confirm that for you at this time. We don't have independent information of that. Q Is the United States urging Turkey to keep the border open, so that these people are not trapped between an advancing Iraqi Army and a closed border? MS. TUTWILER: The United States, in the form of our Ambassador, began yesterday discussing this situation with the Turkish government, and I cannot at this briefing tell you the specifics of what we are or are not urging. We are well aware of this situation. As I have said, as of this briefing the Turks had not closed the border. Their spokesman has said they will be closing -- their Foreign Ministry spokesman -- and that we are very aware ourselves of the significant humanitarian needs that Turkey will need, should it prove to be true, which we cannot confirm yet, that there are as many as 200,000 displaced persons that are located along the border with Turkey. We just have no independent confirmation of that number. I would tell you that the United Nations has prepositioned material and personnel in Turkey for this possibility. The United Nations received pledges, as I've said earlier -- $63 million -- to operate refugee programs in Turkey, Jordan, Syria and Iran, and I told you what our contributions are to this. So there is some material that is already prepositioned -- United Nations material. Q Margaret, on Assistant Secretary Kelly's meeting today and the other meetings with different dissidents from Iraq and the Kurds, there are Kurds who are saying this is window dressing, and that they're expressing disappointment in U.S. policy. How do you respond to that? MS. TUTWILER: I would, instead of getting into another hour-long debate on United States -- which we've done three days in a row -- I would say, obviously, we stand by our policy. We have said that these meetings, if asked -- which we were -- that obviously officials here would meet with -- it's not just Kurds, as you know, it is a number of different opposition groups.

[Iraq: Contact with Dissidents]

And I would like to give you exactly what is going on today concerning Ambassador Kelly's meeting. As I told you yesterday, there will be six individuals who will be meeting today with Ambassador Kelly and other individuals from his staff. One of you asked me yesterday if other agencies were going to be involved in this meeting -- as of coming to the briefing and checking, we believe that there will be, but I don't have yet exactly what other agencies. Two of the individuals that will be meeting today are American citizens. The rest are individuals resident in the United States. This group, as I said yesterday, represents both Sunni and Shi'a Muslims. There are no Kurds among this group today. We will be meeting with Kurds later this week. At this point, we're not sure when the meeting with the Kurdish representatives will take place, nor whether those people will want their names released to you, the press, or not. The meeting today has been moved outside of this building in order to protect those who are coming here and their family members that are still in Iraq. The group sent us a letter last night, specifically requesting in writing that we not give out their names. So, obviously, we are not, and their reasons given were the ones that we stated yesterday -- they had told us verbally -- for fear of reprisal against family members still living in Iraq. We obviously intend to respect and honor that request. I would characterize, as you all asked me to do yesterday, what types of individuals, who do they represent, etc. -- this meeting today I would characterize as individuals that are not representing any one specific group and are not claiming to represent one specific group. They are leaders in their own profession and their own skills. They represent a diversity of professions. I will give you generic types of professions we're talking about -- authors, professors, doctors, engineers. All of those today are currently residing in the United States, and some of them are United States citizens. Ambassador Kelly will call me when the meeting is concluded, and he and I will write for you all a readout of this meeting and post it as soon as possible. Q What time? MS. TUTWILER: I'm not going to give you the times, unfortunately. We just really -- I'd rather refrain from doing that. Q Is it going on already or -- MS. TUTWILER: No. It has not happened. Q Can you tell us about the two agencies represented in the meeting of today? MS. TUTWILER: I don't believe I said two. I believe I said that I believed there would be some agencies that might be in the meeting. I don't want to say which agencies until we're positive they are indeed attending. Q How about the schedule for the rest of the week? You said that -- MS. TUTWILER: The rest of the week? Q Yes. MS. TUTWILER: They haven't set the meetings. I believe yesterday we had three additional requests. We still have those additional three requests. In at least one of those it's going to be with Kurdish representatives. I don't have names, and I don't have times yet when these are going to be scheduled. Q You had said, though, that there would be four meetings over three days. Is that still the basic format, or are we talking about -- MS. TUTWILER: I thought I said four meetings over the remainder of this week, but maybe -- we only got a few days left. So this will be one, and then three more, so -- Q You also said -- MS. TUTWILER: -- three more still exist. Q You also said you were still considering whether Secretary Baker would meet with some of these groups. Has that been decided? MS. TUTWILER: No. It has not been decided. This particular group today did not request to see him. Some of the other groups that we have, as I believe, as of yesterday ten total requests has specifically asked for him, and we're still evaluating that. Q Margaret, can you say one way or the other whether the United States through overtly or covertly and in an official capacity, during the war or before the war began, gave aid, comfort of any sort to rebel forces within Iraq? MS. TUTWILER: No. If you're asking me an intelligence question on have we done anything covertly, you know I can't answer it. Q I'm not asking an intelligence question. I'm asking you -- yesterday -- MS. TUTWILER: I mean, some of the things, Saul, are very, very public. Would you say dropping pamphlets that say, you know, "Give up your arms and come," is stirring up trouble. I don't know. Q It goes to this question that, as you said yesterday and repeatedly, that the United States did nothing to encourage these groups to rise up, or overtly encourage these people to rise up against Saddam Hussein, that it was not our policy or an objective of the war. But there are some claims now that during the war as part of the war we did encourage, we did work with rebel groups inside of Iraq, and that may have led to their belief that they had the go-ahead from the United States. I'm asking whether there was any such aid. MS. TUTWILER: If we did, I have absolutely no personal knowledge of such an operation. I would be more than glad to check into it for you. I know of no such operation, and I believe the question came at me yesterday -- I believe it was from you -- didn't President Bush's statement encourage these people to go up, is how I remember it, but I could be wrong. I don't remember it coming at me this way. One other thing, Jim, you asked me yesterday what was the policy previously in this Administration or the government, the State Department on meeting with opposition types from Iraq. We put an answer out last night -- I don't know if you had a chance to see it -- which is what I said yesterday, I thought we had. I am correct. We have been. Q Margaret, did the groups meeting with Kelly this afternoon indicate an unwillingness to meet with the press even on an anonymous basis after they're through -- MS. TUTWILER: I didn't ask that question. Yesterday it was a verbal request to us. Last night Ambassador Kelly received a typed, signed letter that specifically requests that they remain anonymous. I would be happy to have him pose this question to them, but once you read this letter it's very clear in black and white. And it's not the only thing they wrote in on. But I, myself, read it this morning, and so that is -- it's not our desire to keep information away from you. It's these people's genuine desire. Q Does the letter represent the views of all 6 people, Margaret? MS. TUTWILER: It's clearly my understanding. Q Why aren't you meeting with -- MS. TUTWILER: But, again -- excuse me -- as we said yesterday, any individual that comes in the State Department is more than welcome to come speak to any of you that they so choose to. So if anyone, or 3 or 4, of these individuals change their minds or have a different view, they are totally -- it's only their request that we're honoring. Q Why aren't you meeting with people who can go public? How effective can Iraqi dissident leaders be who meet privately with you and have nothing to say afterwards? MS. TUTWILER: Pat, this is clearly these peoples' choice. They've stated their reason. Q There are many leaders out there. Why are we not meeting with those -- MS. TUTWILER: We are not in the business -- Q -- who can come forward and who can talk and who can explain their position? What is the value of a meeting that no one knows anything about? MS. TUTWILER: Well, Pat, we're not in the business of open-ended invitations to every individual in the world who wants to come to the State Department. This group requested a meeting with this Department. Ambassador Kelly is honoring that request. So we're not out soliciting anybody and everybody who wants to come in and have a meeting, saying: "Come on in." So this is how these individuals, who sent the request to us, requested that this be handled. Q There are about 150 Kurds, for example, in front of the White House right now very publicly demonstrating, and I'm just curious as to why -- MS. TUTWILER: I don't know that they've asked to meet with anybody in the State Department. Do you? Q I don't know if those specific ones have. MS. TUTWILER: Nor do I. Q You don't think it would be of some value to meet with people who can, at least, communicate whatever they learn from the State Department to others in the movement who are concerned about it? MS. TUTWILER: Again, I said last week, until this issue, as we stated yesterday, was raised by a number of you all, there was not a single request in this building for any individual at any level to meet with individuals of the Iraqi opposition. We are not, whether it's this situation or in other situations -- one, we couldn't handle it; and, two, we're not in the business of going out saying, "Come one, come all." We just have nothing else to do but to meet. I have said that the rest of these groups -- there are 3 other other groups, and there are 10 requests in, and I'm sure there are going to be more requests coming in. Many of them may well choose to handle this differently. This is how these 6 individuals have specifically requested, verbally and in writing, to this Department for us to handle this meeting that they are having with Ambassador Kelly. I assume we're doing it that way. Yes, John. Q Has the President signed one or more intelligence-findings authorizing covert action? MS. TUTWILER: I have no idea. I'm not sure that we would respond if I did know, but I know that I don't know. I'm not sure it's the type of thing that we go out and talk about. Q The wires are carrying a story to that effect this morning. MS. TUTWILER: They carry a lot of things. I saw that one story, and I believe it was an unnamed official. Q That's why I asked the question that I did. You say you do not know -- MS. TUTWILER: I do not know? Q -- whether we've given any help as part of -- MS. TUTWILER: Seriously, I don't know. It's not something that I'm going to go noodling around into. I saw Mr. Dancy's report last night. I am going to plead ignorance -- that's the best way to go on this. It's something I don't delve into. It's something we don't talk about. So I haven't spent a lot of time on it; no. Q Margaret, in your statement on the United States position in the Security Council following the ceasefire vote, you said they would be looking for the most effective way the Security Council could express its condemnation of the humanitarian violations. The way the Security Council expressed its condemnation of the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait seemed to be quite effective. Is there any thought being given to using a similar method of telling the Iraqis to stop or they'll have force used against them? MS. TUTWILER: I don't know, Norm, what the consensus will be of the various government representatives. Q I'm asking about the U.S. position going into the meeting? MS. TUTWILER: I don't know that the United States position going into the meeting is one other than how I've tried to express, that this initial meeting -- it is my understanding -- is to discuss, on any urgent basis, humanitarian assistance. I have not heard discussed this morning anyone suggesting what you've just hypothesized. I think that the urgent need -- as Bill has pointed out, the French have pointed out, the Turks have -- is of humanitarian assistance. Our policy has not changed, nor am I aware of any other governments, intervening in this civil war. Q Margaret, is it possible to get any sort of an accounting of humanitarian assistance the U.S. has given? I know you touched on it yesterday. MS. TUTWILER: I did a very lengthy one this morning. Q Oh, you did it this morning, too? MS. TUTWILER: I did a more extensive one this morning. Q Margaret, do we understand what you just said, that we would not support a resolution condemning Iraq's -- MS. TUTWILER: I cannot get into the position of "We will never do this or we will do that." There's nothing to give an opinion on yet. This is something that, hopefully, if this vote comes today -- as you all know, we have been trying for many, many days to get a vote to get this cease-fire resolution adopted and passed so that you can move down the road here. I can't prejudge for you what, indeed, the various members, on instructions from their governments, will be discussing if, indeed, it happens this afternoon. Q I suppose what we're asking is, what is the American position? What would the United States like to see in such a resolution or action? MS. TUTWILER: I think I just tried to answer that to Norm. My understanding of our government's position on this, as is all the other governments that are discussing it right now, is humanitarian. Q Our policy is basically that the rebellion -- our policy is still that the rebellion is basically an internal matter -- MS. TUTWILER: Our policy has not changed since yesterday; correct. Q We're not in favor of any kind of condemnation of the actions of Saddam Hussein? MS. TUTWILER: I just did that this morning. The President himself did it yesterday. That's quite different from saying you condemn something from a specific that I believe Norm was asking me. Now that you've condemned it, what is your follow-through action? What specifically, literally, are you going to do? We have all condemned it. I just did it again this morning. Q In your statement in the beginning you condemned any violence against innocent citizens. What about violence against the dissidents? Even though they are rebels, but they're rebels whom we encouraged. MS. TUTWILER: I believe that you're over-interpreting something. If you're condemning innocents being hurt in violence, I would take that to be all-inclusive: innocent people getting hurt. Q So what about dissidents? Are you condemning violence against the dissidents? MS. TUTWILER: We are condemning violence, as we do -- as you're very familiar with -- all around the world. We are condemning violence. We are condemning the innocents that are getting trapped or hurt in this violence. Q Margaret, in addition to refugee problems -- humanitarian needs of refugees -- there are some people who are very concerned about genocide. It makes me ask you if you could remind me what U.S. policy is about war crimes, perhaps, against Saddam Hussein? What actions on that level might we be willing to contemplate if, in fact, he tries to eliminate the Kurdish population? MS. TUTWILER: It's totally speculative question for me, Johanna. As you know, on war crimes, we have stated what our policy was all along. This is something that throughout the Gulf crisis the Defense Department is the repository of all types of evidence or information that we, as a government, collect. That has been done throughout this. This is part of what will be addressed in the ceasefire resolution. This is something that we said we will continue to discuss among ourselves and among the coalition. To be perfectly honest with you, I am not exactly sure how this is going to come out on the final draft, that is the document that is passed. Q On the ceasefire resolution, if I may, did the U.S. Government receive objections from any of the Arab countries, especially those among the coalition members, objecting to the article calling for the destruction of the nuclear, chemical, and other destructive weapons by Iraq? MS. TUTWILER: Not that I am personally aware of or that I have any knowledge of, but I'll be happy to ask for you. Q Margaret, on another subject. Q The French President, through is spokesman this morning, said he wants the international trade embargo maintained against Iraq as long, as he describes, the repression in Iraq continues. Does the United States have a position on those trade sanctions? MS. TUTWILER: I'm just going to continue to refrain from speculating on what will evolve out of a meeting that has not even taken place yet, and when presented with specific language, with the specifics, of what then the United States position would be. Jan's really been trying. Q Thank you, Margaret. On another issue, if I may. MS. TUTWILER: Terrific. Q Israel: The French news agency is running a very detailed report on an Israeli proposal for a Middle East peace plan -- MS. TUTWILER: For what? Q -- opening with a regional conference in Cairo; a plan which the French news agency says has been given to them by Israeli officials is definitely worth you looking at if you haven't seen it. MS. TUTWILER: I really haven't. Q It gives many, many details. Perhaps you could take a look at it and then have some response to it? The second thing on Israel is, do you have anything yet on the restrictions that you have been -- your embassy has been looking into over the past X number of days? MS. TUTWILER: Yesterday, we spoke to that, Jan. You mean, have we put out for you the Israeli restrictions? Q In response to you? MS. TUTWILER: We did our response yesterday. Yesterday, what we refrained from doing, since it after all is an Israeli document, is we refrained, as I remember, from putting out an Israeli document and referred people to the Israeli Embassy here to get the literal specifics of what's contained in the document. But we have expressed -- I believe Richard (Boucher) did on Monday, and I know I did yesterday, our feelings concerning this. Q Margaret, I know that you've addressed this before but one more time, because today is the meeting, or the beginning of a series of meetings. With the dissidents, what is the purpose of these meetings? And what is it that the Administration is trying to communicate to Iraq and to the Iraqi dissidents by holding these meetings? MS. TUTWILER: You're right. I did all of that yesterday. If you wouldn't mind, can I just refer you to the record. I answered every one of those questions yesterday. Q There's a report today that President Bush is going to meet Gorbachev in Berlin in June. Is there any -- MS. TUTWILER: I haven't heard the report, and I haven't heard that independently on my own upstairs. I haven't heard that. I don't know. Q Just trying to clear up one little thing. You said that you didn't know what Abramowitz was saying to the Turks about keeping the border open. But what is our position on that? Would we like them to keep the border open? MS. TUTWILER: Our position is that we are, right now, in conversations with the Turkish Government on this subject. I am not going to say what we are saying in diplomatic channels to another government. We refrain from doing that all the time. We take note that the borders, as of the beginning of this briefing, are not closed. We cannot confirm the number that's in the press of 200,000. In fact, the numbers range from 10,000 to 200,000. We recognize that this will be -- should the Turkish Government decide, and there is all these thousands of people -- an enormous burden on the Turkish Government. As I said, there is a group that meets at the United Nations that has been meeting throughout this discussing refugee situations in various countries. I just cannot tell you or go into that level of detail other than it is something, throughout this, that we have worked on. In fact, what just comes to my mind is at the outbreak of hostilities, you remember there were just wild numbers floating around concerning all these refugees flooding into Jordan. It didn't materialize. And all the ones that were there were taken care of. So many of these mechanisms and processes have existed up to, it's my understanding, handling 400,000 people. We just said there's some material that's pre-positioned there. Q Can you tell us whether the President raised this issue with Ozal yesterday when they spoke? MS. TUTWILER: I really don't know. Maybe the White House does. I don't know. Q You said that the Turks had indicated that they do intend to close the border. What would be the -- MS. TUTWILER: I said a spokesman at the Foreign Ministry had said that this morning. I've seen one wire copy on that. Q Assuming that's accurate, what would be the U.S. position if they follow up and do that? MS. TUTWILER: It's the same question Saul asked me. Let me just deal with the situation, as we're dealing with it. It's on-going. Tomorrow, maybe I will be in a better position to say "Morton Abramowitz said X, or the United States has firmly said Y." But right now, at this moment in time, our two governments are communicating, are talking. I said, to be perfectly honest, this came to our attention early yesterday morning, and our Ambassador was immediately over at the Foreign Ministry. But I'm just not going to get into today what he is saying through diplomatic channels. Yes, Barry. Q Margaret, do you have anything on Kuwait so far as whether there's political reform, and if it's satisfactory to the U.S. Ambassador who is prone to speak of the Amir as being somebody interested in reform? In fact, we were all entertained by the Amir in Taif and he even spoke of maybe women voting some day -- MS. TUTWILER: He sure did. Q -- which seemed a huge leap from the Kuwait we've been reading about. The Times has a nice story today. It suggests nothing much has happened. What's going on in Kuwait?

[Kuwait: Proposed Politcal Reform]

MS. TUTWILER: The Government of Kuwait has made explicit pledges to broaden political participation by the Kuwaiti people, starting last October when the Crown Prince publicly affirmed the government's commitment to return to Parliamentary rule under the 1962 constitution. Since then, he has repeatedly stated the government will hold elections for Parliament. He has said, however, that the government's first priority must be to restore order and basic services in Kuwait. This accomplished, a specific date will be set for elections. Senior Kuwaiti Government officials have been meeting with opposition leaders to discuss the process of political change. In our on-going dialogue with the Government of Kuwait, political reform, as we have mentioned many times, is a number one topic. It's a regular topic with Ambassador Skip Gnehm. The U.S., of course, puts a premium on nurturing and encouraging democratic systems. We very much encourage broader political participation and see the commitment of the Kuwaiti Government to increase meaningful political participation as a welcome development. However, we will not impose a system on Kuwait nor is it proper for anyone but the Kuwaitis to chart their political course. Q You did use the word "democratic," which has dropped out of the lexicon of late. What about palace-building? Is the Amir -- MS. TUTWILER: What about what? Q Palace-building. MS. TUTWILER: Palace-building? Q It seems that the Amir is spending a lot of what Kuwait has in the way of resources to make himself a nice, new fancy palace. Is that true? Could that money be spent for other purposes in the U.S. view, or is it a live-and-let-live situation now that Kuwait is free again? MS. TUTWILER: Kuwait has a full-blown embassy here and a very capable Ambassador that I know you're very familiar with -- Q I see him on TV a lot. MS. TUTWILER: -- and those questions might be better addressed to the Kuwait Government. I don't have that level of detail. Yes, I'm aware that along with refurbishing a palace, I have also seen, as I'm sure you have -- if you watch TV -- the -- Q A little bit. MS. TUTWILER: -- street lights that have been returned to that city, the telephone operations and grids that are being returned to that city; water purification that is being cleaned up. There's any number of things, Barry, that that city is doing. But I don't think I'm in a position to best say what specifically is being allocated for what services in that country. Q But I'm asking about Kuwait. There's sort of a paternalistic interest in Kuwait because the United States has just spent a lot of fortune and -- MS. TUTWILER: It's a sovereign nation, Barry. Q I know. But you guys -- Q The things you just enumerated are being done by the Corps of Engineers, I believe. MS. TUTWILER: Paid for by the Kuwaiti Government -- at the instruction of the Kuwaiti Government, is my understanding. Q Not by the Corps of Engineers, you're saying? MS. TUTWILER: I said paid for by the Kuwaiti Government at the instruction of Kuwaiti officials whom, I believe, are all back and functioning and all ministries are up and running. Q Do you have anything on the Swiss channel? There are some reports that the United States and Iran have been talking about -- MS. TUTWILER: No, I have nothing to say concerning that. Q You have nothing to say or you're not -- MS. TUTWILER: I have nothing to say. I've read one story about that. I have zero to say. Q Margaret, back to Kuwait -- Q You took a question yesterday about that. MS. TUTWILER: I don't remember taking a question on the Swiss yesterday. Q No, but there was a question about U.S. officials talking to Iranians. And you said, as of -- MS. TUTWILER: That was Barry's question. Q Right. As of Thursday morning, when you left -- MS. TUTWILER: And when we checked it out -- I thought we put something out last night -- I know of no such meetings.

[Kuwait: Abuse of Collaborators and Minorities]

Q Back to Kuwait. Do you have anything on these new human rights reports that are suggesting that original reports of atrocities and torture were exaggerated? Not so many incubators, etc. MS. TUTWILER: I don't have anything in incubators. Are you specifically talking about a report that's in today's newspaper concerning prisons. Q (Inaudible) MS. TUTWILER: With the removal of most checkpoints and the withdrawal of most of the Kuwaiti military from the streets, problems of abuse now center on detention sites about which we continue to receive reports. We are concerned by these reports, and Ambassador Gnehm has again raised these concerns at many levels of the Kuwaiti Government. We pursue all such reports with the Kuwaiti authorities. One of our highest priorities continues to be to urge the government to ensure that suspected collaborators or members of minority communities in Kuwait are not subject to unlawful abuse. The International Committee of the Red Cross is monitoring the human rights situation in Kuwait and has been granted access to Kuwaiti prisons. Q What I was asking about was the reports yesterday. MS. TUTWILER: This is the most current situation that I'm aware of, Jan. I don't know what you're referring to of yesterday. Q Yesterday, there was a report in the Washington Post -- MS. TUTWILER: On what? Q -- quoting the various human rights groups, saying that the Iraqi atrocities against Kuwaitis may have been grossly exaggerated? MS. TUTWILER: Right. And what you will find is what I've just said to you is in, what you're going to see -- the very latest report -- that is going to be published by a group concerning prisons. If you're going back to all of the various stories concerning Palestinian rights there, and they're being abused, etc., we have answered that. Nothing has changed on that. Q Not the abuses on Palestinians or Kuwaiti abuses on anybody else. I'm talking about Iraqi abuses on Kuwaitis during the war? MS. TUTWILER: Oh, those. I don't have anything new on that. Sorry. I misunderstood you. Q Margaret, back to the Amir's palace for a moment. Even though Kuwait paid for this work, did I understand you correctly? You said the Corps of Engineers had done the work at the palace? MS. TUTWILER: No. Bill Plante said, "The Corps of Engineers is doing all this work." I thought you meant, when you said the phone grids, the desalination plants, the street lights, the sewers, I did not believe Bill was asking me about the Amir's palace. If I misunderstood, I apologize. Q Although there is one report that two members of the Corps of Engineers put in some gold-plated bathroom plumbing. MS. TUTWILER: I don't know. Maybe the Pentagon mentioned that. Q Other than that, I was referring to the power grid, as you -- MS. TUTWILER: Thank you. Q I was wondering how you hire these fellows to come over and do some work at your house? MS. TUTWILER: I don't know. I was answering a question concerning street lights and sewers, and the things that I had mentioned. Bill has been very gracious in confirming that that was, indeed, what he asked me. Q Back to Iran, Margaret, MS. TUTWILER: Iran?

[Iran: Report of EC Economic Aid]

Q I'm still curious whether or not the United States has a position on a purported economic agreement between the EC and Iran? MS. TUTWILER: Yes. You asked me that yesterday. I believe it was you. It's my understanding that the EC members -- I think they're just getting there today. I don't think they've even met. I can't find it right now. We don't have a view of the suggestion that has been reported that they are going to, indeed, suggest economic aid, as I believe you asked me yesterday. I believe that I'm correct that that meeting is just due to begin today. Q That the U.S. position is basically neutral? MS. TUTWILER: We have no information at this time of an EC-Iranian agreement of any kind. The EC-troika Foreign Ministers -- Luxembourg, Italy, and The Netherlands -- will visit Tehran today. The U.S. continues to believe that Iran should take positive steps toward freeing the hostages in Lebanon and ending its support for terrorism before it may enjoy full relations with the international community. Q One other question on a different subject. Is the United States planning to make some sort of counter proposal on CFE to the latest overture from Gorbachev? MS. TUTWILER: I don't know, Carol. I would assume that we would be responding to President Gorbachev's letter to President Bush. But as far as timing and contents, I'm not aware of what they are. I'm assuming that we would be responding to it.

[Pananma: Status of Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty]

Q Do you have anything on an agreement with Panama -- money laundering? MS. TUTWILER: Yes, George, I do. Panama. This agreement, it's my understanding -- you're talking about the Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty, MLAT? As we have said before, an MLAT would be an important agreement that would allow both United States and Panamanian law enforcement agencies to obtain evidence in criminal cases more easily. We have made substantial progress and hope to be able to sign an MLAT with Panama soon. So we're not there yet. Q Margaret, there was a bombing at the Lima, Peru, airport today. Do you have anything on that? MS. TUTWILER: I don't know a thing about it. Q That airport recently had been -- there had been a U.S. security warning against it that had been lifted, and I was wondering if -- MS. TUTWILER: I have no idea. I hadn't heard about it. Q Margaret, without going into the details of an AFP report you haven't seen, there's something you must know personally. Did Secretary Baker agree with Mr. Shamir that the PLO would be excluded from any peace agreement in the future? MS. TUTWILER: I am not going to get into, regardless of whether there is an AFP report or not, anything concerning Secretary Baker's one-on-one meeting with the head of state of Israel. We have refrained from doing that since he was there, and I'm not going to start today. Q Is there anything new about the human rights debate in Geneva on Cuba? MS. TUTWILER: I don't know. Q Has there been any discussion, in general terms, about a possible meeting between King Hussein and President Bush? MS. TUTWILER: Not that I've heard of. Q Was it raised at the meeting that you sat in on with Abdul Odeh last last week? MS. TUTWILER: No. Q Thank you. MS. TUTWILER: Thank you all. (Press briefing concluded at 1:15 P.M.)