US Department of State Daily Briefing,#55, Thursday, 4/4/91

Boucher Source: State Department Deputy Spokesman Richard Boucher Description: 12:54 PM, Washington, DC Date: Apr 4, 19914/4/91 Category: Briefings Country: Iraq, Kuwait, Albania, Japan, South Africa, Iran Subject: Regional/Civil Unrest, Development/Relief Aid, Refugees, International Law, Human Rights, United Nations (ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED)

[Iraq: Civl Unrest Update]

MR. BOUCHER: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. I thought I'd start off by updating you on the situation inside Iraq and then what we're doing at the United Nations to deal with the results, the very tragic results of that situation. Scattered fighting continues in northern Iraq between government forces and dissidents. In the Sulaymaniyah area, government forces probably have taken control of the city and its environs. Other major northern towns, including Irbil, Kirkuk, and Mosul remain largely under government control. In the south, the Iraqi forces remain deployed in and around the city of Basra, but there probably have been additional clashes between government forces and dissidents in that city. Saddam Hussein is now in control of all the major towns in Iraq but he has to maintain a heavy security presence, and there are scattered clashes which continue.

[Iraq: US/UN Efforts on Humanitarian Aid]

Why don't we move onto the United Nations. As Margaret made clear yesterday, Ambassador Pickering had instructions to raise and work on the issues of the Iraqi civilians and the suffering that has been caused to them, as soon as we had passage of the ceasefire resolution. That passed yesterday and, indeed, he went to work on an immediate and urgent basis. You're all aware of the other countries -- how many other countries are interested in this. Under Secretary Kimmitt met yesterday with the French and Turkish Ambassadors to Washington. Those were separate meetings. The Permanent Five Members met briefly yesterday on this issue, and they are meeting again today. The President and the Secretary spoke this morning about the activity at the United Nations and what we could do up there. At this point, we are talking to others about the elements of a resolution which would express the international community's condemnation and its determination to do what it can to address the humanitarian needs of people fleeing the fighting. So that's where we stand today. Q What would you be condemning? MR. BOUCHER: The international community's condemnation -- I think Margaret put it yesterday -- of the brutality of the way Iraq had put down these uprisings and the brutal way in which they were treating their own civilians. Q Well, what can you do about the people who are fleeing? Are you talking just about money? Are you talking about some way to protect the Kurds who are now struggling through the mountains? Are you talking about doing anything to prevent some sort of a massacre once U.S. troops leave the occupied zone? MR. BOUCHER: This is operating on several levels. We are acting with other countries in the United Nations to get international condemnation. How exactly that will be phrased, I can't tell you at this point. We're still discussing the elements of a resolution with other governments. We're also seeing to the needs of people who are fleeing the fighting. I think we've been talking all along about the refugee programs that have been put in place in neighboring countries to Iraq; the efforts that we have made to support the international assistance effort to refugees -- the camps that have been set up. Margaret talked about some of that yesterday, and I could go into a little more detail if you want me to today. Q Yes. MR. BOUCHER: All right, in a minute. Finally, we've also talked about humanitarian assistance for people inside Iraq. This is something that we've discussed in the past, our efforts to support the ICRC. I think you're aware that the ICRC is operating in Iraq. I think I heard them yesterday say that they were going to be sending missions up towards the northern parts of the country to try to expand their activities up there. Q But is it still the intention of the U.S. and the international community to do nothing to actively stop the slaughter that's going on now? MR. BOUCHER: If you're talking about U.S. military intervention, that's been -- Q I'm not even talking about -- MR. BOUCHER: -- actively discussed by the President and others over the past few days. Q Let's not talk about U.S. military intervention. But what about sort of -- MR. BOUCHER: Coalition military intervention? Q Coalition -- yes. Coalition. MR. BOUCHER: I'm not aware of any other coalition partner that's actively proposing military intervention. And, again, I think the President made that point yesterday.

[Iraq: Refugee Flow to Turkey]

Q Are you putting any pressure on Turkey to open its border? MR. BOUCHER: Let me run through -- John asked if we wouldn't talk about the multilateral assistance. Let me run through Turkey and get to the question of borders. First, on the numbers. The Turkish government has reported that 12,000 Iraqis are now in Turkey. This is an increase from 5,000 last week. Turkish officials estimate that 200,000 to 300,000 people may be located close to the Turkey/Iraqi border. At this point, there is no independent confirmation of those numbers from U.N. agencies or from other precise sources. It is clear that large numbers of Kurds and other Iraqi nationals are fleeing the fighting in northern Iraq and could conceivably cross into Turkey. The international relief community has recognized since last January that the potential for a humanitarian emergency exists in Turkey and is responding accordingly. In light of recent events, the United Nations has increased the target camp capacity in Turkey from 20,000 to 100,000. Margaret talked yesterday about the supplies and personnel that were prepositioned in Turkey to take care of refugee flows, and additional U.N. personnel and resources are being deployed now to Turkey. Existing camps and reception facilities are being augmented and new ones are being established by the Turkish Red Crescent. In the White House statement yesterday about the U.N. resolution and our concern about the brutality in Iraq, the President made very clear that the United States is prepared to extend economic help to Turkey through multilateral channels, and we call on others to do likewise. Q But no direct aid? No direct help from the United States to Turkey or Iran; right? MR. BOUCHER: We have our AID programs for Turkey which are considerable, but not in light of the war. The situation of refugees and displaced persons is normally handled through international organizations. We have been a contributor to that. I think we've told you before, we gave $7.6 million in money and food supplies to those organizations as part of an initial collection of $63 million that they had underway in order to plan for adequate capacity to take care of the numbers of people that were coming out. Q Iran was mentioned, too? You said to Turkey and Iran? MR. BOUCHER: I can do Iran later, if you want me to. Q Keep going. MR. BOUCHER: OK. We'll do everything. The situation, as far as money goes, we provide the money to the U.N. organizations who have been planning this relief -- who have been planning the assistance to refugees and who have decided, based on their calculations of where people might show up, to preposition material to provide camp capacity and who are now, based on where people are showing up, directing that money to places where the people are going so that they can quickly expand the camp capacity to take care of the numbers of the people that are coming across.

[Turkey: Discussion on Open Border]

As regards the border, as I said, the President made very clear that we're interested in helping Turkey through the multilateral channels to take care of people. The Turks have said that the border is closed. We understand that thousands of displaced persons have nonetheless crossed the border into Turkey. The Turks are greatly concerned by the possibility that hundreds of thousands of displaced persons could enter Turkey with few prospects of returning to Iraq. The Turkish government has called for U.N. action to put pressure on Saddam Hussein to desist from further attacks on unarmed civilians. I told you what we were doing with other members in that regard. The Turkish government has simultaneously mounted an operation to provide assistance, mainly food, to those displaced persons near its border with Iraq. Displaced persons continue to enter Turkey through the mountains and by crossing the river along the Turkish-Iraqi border. We understand that one bridge -- the bridge at the Habur border-crossing was destroyed during the Gulf conflict and that that area around it is heavily mined. So they're coming through in other ways. Q Just a technical question. When you say the U.N. has increased its target from 20,000 to 100,000, able to handle that many people in those camps, that means that, today, they're beginning to try and expand the camps from 20,000 to 100,000, or they've already anticipated and have done this? MR. BOUCHER: I think it's a combination of both. The capacity of 20,000, of course, compares to the numbers -- 5,000 last week, 12,000 this week. So that they're in the process, using some of the prepositioned supplies and personnel and the planning that was done in advance, of expanding to accommodate even greater numbers than that. You'll find, in a minute, the same situation exists in Iran. Q When you say that the Turks are giving assistance to those -- food to those refugees near their border in Iraq -- are they going across the border giving it to them, or what? MR. BOUCHER: I think this is mainly the activities of the Turkish Red Crescent inside Turkey. Q So the ones that haven't made it across the border aren't getting this food? MR. BOUCHER: Let me double-check on that and see if I can see if there's anything going across the border. Q To go back to my original question, have you raised this issue? Are you bringing any pressure to bear on Turkey to open that border? You did it with Jordan. You say that the United Nations -- MR. BOUCHER: Jan, to go back to what I was in the process of saying, I'll get there if I can get there. OK? The Turkish government is encouraging the displaced people to remain in Iraq, but those who enter Turkey are not being forced to return. Our Ambassador in Ankara, Ambassador Abramowitz, is in constant contact with the Turkish Government, and we are working with the Turks in the United Nations to mobilize the international resources to assist those displaced persons. And, yes, we have discussed the situation at the border with Turkey. As I said, our Ambassador is in constant contact with them, and we have urged the Turkish government to keep the borders open as we work with them to take care of the refugee flows, as we work with them in the United Nations and elsewhere along with other countries to see if an international call can be made that would stop the sources of this displacement.

[Iraq: Refugee Flow to Iran]

The situation in Iran: Over 50,000 displaced persons have arrived in Iran since January 16. We know that that number is increasing steadily now. As in Turkey, the United Nations has increased the target camp capacity in Iran to 100,000 persons from 35,000. I'm not exactly sure when that was. In recent weeks, let's put it. The ICRC is expanding camp facilities in Iran primarily in the south in Khuzestan Province. At this point, we don't have information about plans to add relief facilities in northern Iran. But in the past, refugees fleeing to northern Iran were predominantly Kurds. They were absorbed without difficulty into largely Kurdish villages in Iran. Should the magnitude of the present migration be more than the villages can absorb, it is likely that Iran and the international relief community will provide assistance up there as well. International organizations are already providing some assistance in northern Iraq. We also note that the Iranian Red Crescent is highly professional and well-regarded for its ability to respond to large humanitarian emergencies. Q You say that, in the past, they have been able to absorb the flow of Kurds. This time, Iran says that the flow is a million people at their border. First of all, does the United States believe that? Secondly, not in your wildest dreams could you absorb a million people in the small villages of the north. MR. BOUCHER: That's why I said that if it becomes numbers much larger than exists now, we would expect that an effort for absorption by camps, et cetera, will be founded in the northern part of Iran as well. The number in Iran already is about 50,000. Neither in the case of the border with Iran nor the Iraqi border with Turkey do we really have precise numbers of how many people are waiting to get across, or hoping to get across. Q Is there a comment by the U.S. Government on the magnitude of the flight here, putting it into historical perspective? MR. BOUCHER: I can't really do that without knowing what the precise numbers are that are trying to flee. We know it's great. We have condemned the brutal way that Iraq is dealing with its own citizens that is causing this problem. We're working with other countries not only to condemn it but to take care of the people involved. Q What's the situation with the Iraqi border with the U.S. in the south? MR. BOUCHER: Iraq doesn't have a border with the U.S. Q With the U.S. troops that are in the south? Is there an increase -- there were about 20,000/25,000? MR. BOUCHER: I don't have the numbers there. I think the Defense Department may actually have better ways (inaudible) but I'll see if I can get you something. Q Is that going up? MR. BOUCHER: I don't know exactly how the numbers are going down there.

[Iraq: Condemnation of Iraqi Government/Sanctions]

Q Could you discuss the possible incentives we might provide Saddam Hussein to stop all this and to treat these people better so that they don't flee? MR. BOUCHER: I would describe it -- Q I hear about condemnation, but I don't hear about incentives. MR. BOUCHER: I would describe it in the same terms that the President really used yesterday. He said that if Iraq has an interest in rejoining the international community, it's not only going to have to have different relations with its neighbors but it's going to have to treat its own people better. That's the basic incentive. In addition, the new U.N. resolution provides for review every 60 days, in light of the policies of the Government of Iraq, including the implementation of the steps outlined in that resolution. Let me find the words of one of my betters. Under Secretary Kimmitt last night, on the MacNeil/Lehrer show said the following: "Any changes in the sanctions would have to be as a result of further Security Council action. And certainly the policies of the Iraqi government and the leadership of the Iraqi government would have to be taken very carefully into account." Q So that their conduct in the treatment of the Kurds and other dissident groups is directly tied, you feel, into the Security Council resolution passed yesterday? MR. BOUCHER: As I said, the policies of the Iraqi government are specified as a factor not only in the U.N. resolution but also in the policy that Under Secretary Kimmitt enunciated last night. Q Richard, the existing resolution, as I understand it, provides for the lifting of sanctions once the terms specified in that resolution are met. Those terms don't include anything about Iraq's behavior towards its civilians. So won't additional action have to be taken in order to tie sanctions to domestic behavior? MR. BOUCHER: As Under Secretary Kimmitt said last night, the action would be further Security Council action. Council action has to be taken in order to change the sanctions. I'd refer you specifically to Paragraph 21 of the resolution which deals with this issue of the policies of the Iraqi government. Q Richard, is there a resolution now under consideration concerning this second problem? Is that what you said? Or is this just a discussion? Will it be a statement or a resolution? MR. BOUCHER: What is being discussed now is the idea of a resolution. We are discussing with other governments the elements that would go into that resolution following along the general lines that Margaret laid out for you yesterday. Q But can you be any more specific than she was yesterday about what might be in such a resolution addressing the problem of the civilian population? MR. BOUCHER: I can't at this point. It's a subject under discussion in New York and with other governments. Q Are we seeking something more than mere condemnation and humanitarian aid? That is, are we seeking in this further resolution some incentive for the Iraqi government to do right? MR. BOUCHER: Again, Saul, we've entered into consultations with other governments. We are actively pursuing this. We have ideas. But, as you know, many other governments do as well. I can't predict for you exactly how the resolution will turn out. Q But you can't say whether we favor providing such incentives in this -- MR. BOUCHER: We'll discuss the elements of the resolution with other governments as is our normal practice. Q Does the State Department have evidence of Iraqi forces attacking these retreating columns of civilians as they straggle off towards the borders? Or are they being allowed to leave? MR. BOUCHER: I think that's something I'd have to check. You're certainly aware that many of the journalists who came out of Iraq in the past few days have reported such things. I'll have to check and see if we have any independent confirmation. Q Richard, is there any thought of perhaps -- getting back to the humanitarian aid for these people -- Kurds and other Iraqis -- any possibility of a unilateral effort here, aside? Or giving more aid to the multilateral organizations? MR. BOUCHER: I think the best example that I can tell you is exactly what the White House said yesterday. That we are once again -- the United States is prepared to extend economic help to Turkey through multilateral channels. We have been supporting the efforts of the Red Cross and other U.N. organizations so far. I expect we will continue to do so, and we will continue to urge others to do so. Q More funding is -- MR. BOUCHER: I don't have any specific numbers for you nor can I tell you that there is a specific plan to provide more money. But as I said, the President said that we're prepared to extend the economic help that's necessary. We have done so in the past, and I would expect we will continue to do so. Q Richard, that sounds like there's an open appeal. In the Kuwait situation, the Secretary of State actually travelled with a large tin cup in his hand and collected billions of dollars from such rich folks as the Saudis, the Japanese, the Germans. Is that contemplated? And, of course, the next question is, why not? (Laughter) MR. BOUCHER: You had so much fun on those trips that you want to do it again. Q No, no. I wonder if the plight of the Kurds rubs the Administration with the same urgency that the plight of the Amir of Kuwait did? MR. BOUCHER: Barry, the President had made very clear, as we all have tried to do over the last few days and weeks, our concern, our humanitarian compassion for the plight of the Kurds and the other Iraqi civilians that are being affected by this fighting. We have been supporting all along the efforts of the international agencies that are experienced in this, that are set up to deal with refugees. You know that we have provided money to that. We have also seen major contributions by other governments. For example, the Japanese gave $38 million out of the initial sixty-three. The coalition was a different sort of collection of people. It had different needs, different purposes. It was a new vehicle in achieving the goals of the United Nations. Q You can't equate $7.5 million with -- MR. BOUCHER: There are existing experienced organizations that are dealing with this, and we are working very closely and carefully with them. That's, I think, the most effective way of doing this now. Q Well, $7.5 million doesn't approach $9 billion raised from, I think, the Japanese, for instance, and many billions from the Germans. Admittedly, the Kurds don't have oil. I can't understand the -- I guess I'm the only one -- MR. BOUCHER: What are you proposing? A massive drop of cash -- Q I'm not proposing anything. MR. BOUCHER: -- on norther Iraq? Q For instance, I don't know what it's called in logic. But to say Iraq can't rejoin the international community until it treats its people properly, those are just words. That doesn't have any punitive force behind it. It's a statement. It's like saying, you know, we don't like murderers, or something. It's Presidential rhetoric. It's not action. When you had a problem in Kuwait, the Administration geared up and went around the word in a massive effort; it collected many billions of dollars to help people who were in trouble, and I don't know why this situation is being treated as just another Red Crescent operation. MR. BOUCHER: What is the question? Q The question is when you say you're asking other people, I'm asking if anything concerted will be done, if there's anything organized to be done, to go to people like the Saudis and the Japanese and the Germans and other rich folk around the world and ask them to kick in billions of dollars to help these refugees. That's what I'm asking. MR. BOUCHER: Barry, the international organizations involved have established appeals at certain levels for the amounts of money that they think are necessary based on their extensive experience, which we also have, in dealing with refugee populations and setting up camps and taking care of people. We have contributed to those appeals. Other governments have contributed generously to those appeals. As the President said yesterday, that we will continue to extend economic help, and we will call on others to do so. Q Richard, on the same line, though, today British Prime Minister John Major suggested some emergency aid to help the Kurds in particular, specifically them, and he had sent a letter to President Bush, asking that the U.S. also in and of itself send direct aid to help the Kurds. Now, where does this -- does this (inaudible) have John Major weighing in, asking the President to do this too? MR. BOUCHER: I'm not familiar with John Major's letter. I'm afraid that's really something that has to be done at the White House. I can't tell you that. We have been working and supporting this effort all along. We have told you all along about the efforts that we have made, that others have made. This is an extensive international effort. It is established. It is working. It is taking care of the people who are crossing the borders, and we will continue to cooperate and support it. Q But that's not under active consideration anywhere in the State Department? That hasn't floated down here for your advice? MR. BOUCHER: Again, I don't have any new announcements of direct U.S. aid today. I don't know about the letter from John Major. I'm sure if there is such a letter, it will be given every consideration, but at the White House. Q Did you say whether the United States would support increasing the aid, multilateral aid, to Iran? MR. BOUCHER: The specific reference yesterday was the aid to Turkey through multilateral channels. Our support for these refugee organizations has been longstanding. It has been consistent, and I'm sure if there are other appeals, that we will contribute to those. And, as I said before, it's the organizations themselves who decide how to allocate the money, and some of the money that we have given in the past, I'm sure, is being allocated to the programs that they have in Iraq. Q So you wouldn't mind, but you're not -- I mean, what -- Q But the Iranians already are appealing for financial aid. I mean, they said today that they're opening their borders to these refugees, and they're calling on the international community to provide them with financial aid. MR. BOUCHER: O.K. And the international community, I'm sure, will respond. Q I think the United States is part of that international community. Right? MR. BOUCHER: Well, that's right. And, as I said, we've always supported the efforts of the organizations in the past, and I'm sure we'll continue to do so. Q Is the United States prepared to extend, as part of a multilateral effort, more aid to Iran to deal with the refugee question? MR. BOUCHER: My only problem, Johanna, the way you phrase your question is not in my understanding the way it actually works. We extend aid and support to the multilateral organizations. They determine where the refugee flows are and where to spend that money. When they determine that there are flows of people that require more money, they make an appeal to the international community. They get more money from us and from others, and then they spend the new money. Q Well, but that's the language you used on Turkey. Q Wait a minute. When there was an earthquake in the Soviet Union, and when there are disasters of one type or another around the world, the United States not only contributes to multinational organizations, there is an outpouring of direct aid from this country -- planeloads of stuff, money -- directly from this country to the aggrieved areas. Now you are hiding behind a shield of multinational efforts, and there is no specific American effort directed at either the border of Turkey or the border of Iran to specifically deal with this. You're just throwing money into a big pot, as opposed to the way the government frequently does these things. And this is different than you normally deal with these kinds of things. MR. BOUCHER: John, it's different if the situation involves many countries or one particular country, first of all. But, second of all, let me get for you, if I can, answers to the questions of "Is any direct money being provided by the United States to Turkey or to Iran to deal more or less on a bilateral basis with these problems?" or, "Are there any international appeals specifically for those areas that we are contributing to?" Q There are, for example, from France several planeloads of medicine and food and blankets that are taking off today. The same thing is true of Great Britain. I don't know if that's just a publicity stunt, but you don't hear about that sort of thing from this country which normally is at the forefront of any kind of humanitarian effort such as this. And there's a peculiar silence on the part of this government with regard to this issue. "Silence" is perhaps too harsh a word. There is a peculiar lack of forcefulness in getting at this. MR. BOUCHER: Do we have a question here? Q Yes. I have one. MR. BOUCHER: George. Q Do you distinguish between needy refugees and needy non-refugees? MR. BOUCHER: As I tried to make clear in an earlier question, there is international assistance for the refugees, and there is international humanitarian assistance in the area that goes to people in Iraq. I think I mentioned the fact that the ICRC is set up and working in Iraq, and we've reported before on what we did in the Sanctions Committee, and how we're working with other governments and organizations who are providing assistance to people within Iraq. Q Richard, I don't understand what the difference is between how we're supplying the aid to Turkey, and how we're supplying the aid to Iran. I mean, you suggested that what Johanna said is not accurate, but I don't see any difference. What you said is you're prepared to extend further aid to Turkey via international organizations that may need it for whatever work they're going to be doing in Turkey. It seems to me that you're prepared to do the same thing in Iran. MR. BOUCHER: O.K. This gets back to the -- Q Is that wrong? MR. BOUCHER: -- questions I said I would look into earlier -- whether there have been specific appeals either for Turkey or Iran, whether we've contributed -- Q Well, whether there have been appeals or not -- MR. BOUCHER: -- whether we're contributing money specifically for those countries.

[Iraq: US Contacts with Dissidents]

Q Richard, can we get into the meetings, the information you might have on the meetings with people you call "Iraqi dissidents"? MR. BOUCHER: O.K. Q And some people call Kurds. (Laughter) MR. BOUCHER: Barry, you got the readout yesterday of the individuals that we met with. Q It had "Iraqi" in 43 times, and it has the word "Kurd" once. But, anyhow, there weren't any yesterday, but what about today? MR. BOUCHER: Barry, the meetings yesterday were not with Kurds. Q I know that. What about -- did he meet any Kurds today? MR. BOUCHER: Three individuals are meeting today with Department officials in two separate meetings. One of these meetings was late this morning. One will be held this afternoon. The individuals are prominent members of the Iraqi community in the United States. Two of them are American citizens, and one is a resident in the United States. Two of the individuals represent Shi'a Muslims, the third is a Kurd with ties to international Kurdish organizations. The meetings are taking place outside the building in order to protect those who are coming and their family members in Iraq. We will not be disclosing their names at their specific request. Q Is this Mr. Kelly again? MR. BOUCHER: I think the meeting this morning was with the Office Director for the area, and this afternoon they couldn't tell me precisely who would be there. It depended somewhat on schedules. Q But we're moving down the ladder instead of up? MR. BOUCHER: It depends on the meetings. We get numerous requests for meetings at all levels, and we set up appropriate meetings based on who's available, and what the schedules are, and things like that. Q Who's this morning, and who's this afternoon? MR. BOUCHER: I guess I have to define that further. I don't know if the Kurd is this afternoon, or if that was this morning. Q Richard, the representative of the Iraqi Kurdistan Front, Nemat Sharif, was on a television interview this morning, and he said that the meetings at the State Department are being entered into by the Iraqi dissidents as mediators to arrange a meeting between the State Department and the opposition leaders in Iraq. Is there any truth to that? MR. BOUCHER: I don't know if there were any specific requests yesterday, or if there will be any specific requests in the meetings today for further meetings. We are getting a large number of additional requests for meetings, and, as before, each request will be considered on its own merits. So I don't know if those additional requests came specifically in the meeting yesterday or if they will come in today's meetings. I'll try to find out for you. Q The people yesterday requested in writing -- I mean, they presented six demands -- a list of six demands, in which one of them was public meetings with the leader of the opposition groups. MR. BOUCHER: Well, one thing I do know that the people yesterday requested in writing was not to have a public meeting. Q Not with them, but with those who represent the Iraqi -- the Kurds and the Shi'ites and others. MR. BOUCHER: Well, as I say, there are a large number of requests. Q In Iraq. MR. BOUCHER: I can't tell you precisely which request might have come in the meeting yesterday or might be coming in the meetings today, but we are at this point handling a large number of requests for meetings. Q What is the policy on meeting with opposition leaders? MR. BOUCHER: That we are open to meetings with opposition leaders, and that we will give every request its full and due consideration. Q Could you say anything about the meeting this morning? MR. BOUCHER: No. I can't at this point. I'll try to get you a readout. Q Are there any plans for the Secretary to meet with any of these groups who are requesting them? MR. BOUCHER: At this point there's nothing scheduled for the Secretary that I'm aware of, but, as Margaret made clear last week, he's open to the possibility. Q (Inaudible)

[Japan: President Bush Meets with MP Kaifu]

MR. BOUCHER: He's here. Q Why didn't he go? MR. BOUCHER: Why didn't he go? Q Is he going to the Japanese meeting? MR. BOUCHER: The President and the Secretary discussed this yesterday. We had known that the Japanese Foreign Minister would not be accompanying Prime Minister Kaifu to the West Coast, so that there weren't going to be any separate meetings with the Secretary. In view of the fact that the meeting with the President and Prime Minister Kaifu was intended to be a one-on-one meeting, in light of that situation, they determined it would be best for the Secretary to remain here. Q Couldn't he go as a note-taker -- (Laughter). Can you give us the name -- at some point, I mean -- the name of the, you know, the Gulf office -- whatever that regional officer is? Later on, of course. You don't have it now. MR. BOUCHER: Yeah. I'm trying to remember his first name. Edward Hull. Q What's his title exactly? MR. BOUCHER: I think it's Director for Northern Gulf Affairs, if I remember correctly. I'd invite you to check your phone book, as I will. Q May I ask a question on the cease-fire resolution. If Iraq says it will not abide by all of the points in the resolution, how does the United States envision compelling them to -- for example, this getting rid of their chemical weapons and ballistic missiles? MR. BOUCHER: First of all, that is a hypothetical question, because, as far as I'm aware, Iraq has not yet indicated clearly whether it will accept or reject the resolution. Margaret made clear last week that all U.N. states are bound by Article 25 to implement resolutions of the Security Council, and that we feel that the provisions of the resolution should be implemented, whatever Iraq says. There are very positive inducements in the resolution to secure Iraqi implementation of it, principally the article which I was citing earlier that said in light of Iraqi implementation and the policies of the Iraqi government, people would decide after further review on the status of the sanctions.

[Iran: US Contacts/Claims Settlement at The Hague]

Q Iran -- do we have any meetings with Iranian officials -- State Department, other agencies, meeting with -- MR. BOUCHER: What are you talking about? Do you mean direct contacts with Iranian officials? Q Yes. Direct contacts. Have there been any? MR. BOUCHER: I think Margaret said yesterday she wasn't aware of any. Q Got to keep checking. MR. BOUCHER: I don't mean -- there are other meetings. Q What about the Swiss channel, please? Anything you can say today on the Swiss channel? MR. BOUCHER: No. We don't really talk about what we do in our Swiss channel. Q But there have been no meetings between U.S. officials, outside of the Claims Tribunal? MR. BOUCHER: Outside of the Claims Tribunal, I'm not aware of any meetings -- direct meetings between U.S. and Iranian officials. Q In Europe or in the U.S.? Anywhere? MR. BOUCHER: Any. Q Can you rule out that Scowcroft did not meet with Iranian officials in his -- MR. BOUCHER: That's not really for me to do that. That's for the White House to do. As I say, I'm not aware of any. Q Can you say if the Swiss Foreign Minister, while in Tehran, represented the U.S. in any of the issues that he has in the past, or was this a Swiss/Iranian bilateral meeting? Or was he carrying some business for the United States? MR. BOUCHER: I frankly don't know. And, second of all, we are not in the practice of describing the exchanges through the Swiss. Q You do say if there are exchanges? MR. BOUCHER: Yes. There are exchanges with the Swiss, but precisely -- Q Is this Foreign Minister -- MR. BOUCHER: -- when they took place, and who does them, we're not in the habit of saying. Q What's the status of the Claims Tribunal? Do you have anything new on that? Where is that now? MR. BOUCHER: It's still in The Hague. Q Yeah. Right. (Laughter) Where is it substantively in terms of resolving the issues? MR. BOUCHER: Substantively. O.K. An overall rundown. Starting last year, the United States and Iran signed an agreement to settle 2,361 claims of less than $250,000 of U.S. nationals against Iran. This agreement, in addition, settled a claim of the U.S. arising out of certain assistance loans. A dozen relatively small government claims have been settled during 1989 and 1990. A number of large oil company claims have also been settled. In late June last year, Iran paid AMOCO $600 million in settlement of two cases. There are some very large government claims, including Iran's multi-billion dollar claims arising out of the foreign military sales program, as well as about 137 large private claims and 107 small claims, remain pending at the Tribunal. We are continuing our efforts to achieve settlement of the cases pending at the Tribunal when it is in our legal and financial interests to do so. Q Are we getting close to agreement on the -- you're just talking about the unfreezing of assets, right -- the Iranian assets? MR. BOUCHER: We're talking about the settlement of the specific claims that are before the Tribunal. Some of these cases I've described to you, we've been able to settle some in the past, and we're continuing our efforts to do that. I can't describe precisely where we are. We usually wait until we've settled something before we describe it. The Legal Adviser, Edwin Williamson, met with his Iranian counterpart in The Hague on March 28 and 29 to discuss these issues concerning claims before the Tribunal. These were a continuation of talks that have been held routinely over the past year and one-half in an effort to address purely legal and technical matters. Let me take the occasion to reiterate, as we have said many times on previous occasions, that there is no connection between any discussions held between the Legal Adviser and his Iranian counterpart and any political matter, including, as you might ask, the release of hostages held in the Middle East. Q Do you know offhand when the last time was that Williamson went -- or someone at his level went to -- MR. BOUCHER: I think I just said March 28 and 29. Q No, no. Before that. MR. BOUCHER: Before that? Q I'm not aware of any Sofaer or Williamson trip to The Hague before that in a long time. MR. BOUCHER: I'd have to check and see when one was before that. Q Can you characterize the -- sort of the tone? I mean, are things moving along more quickly, more expeditiously? MR. BOUCHER: I can't really be -- the last major settlements were last year. The work is very technical. It's very legal. It involves legal and financial matters solely, and it proceeds at its own pace. Q Richard, why was it necessary for Williamson to go at that time? MR. BOUCHER: As I said, these are a process that we worked out, where in addition to the regular meetings of the Tribunal, we send our Legal Adviser out, and this has happened periodically for the last year and a half at least. Q But this meeting was relatively rare, right? I mean -- MR. BOUCHER: No. Q Well, the question is when was the last previous -- MR. BOUCHER: Well, that's right. At some points in the past these meetings were held almost monthly. It depends on the process of the cases. Q But not at the level of Legal Adviser. MR. BOUCHER: Yes. Abe Sofaer at one point was going out almost every month. Q But that was a while ago. MR. BOUCHER: Yes. And so your question is when was the last one before this. I said I don't know right now, but it's a regular series, a regular process, that we've had underway. Q On the weapons-related claims, are they looking for their money back? Do they want the weapons that they paid for? Or do you know enough about it to say? MR. BOUCHER: I think I'd have to leave it to them to say what they're looking for. It's not for us. Q On another matter, Richard, the leader of Soviet Georgia says he wants the United States to recognize the independence of that Republic, and I'm wondering if -- number one, has Georgia officially in any way asked the United States to recognize its independence, and can you explain the U.S. policy on the Soviet borders, and what have you? MR. BOUCHER: I don't know if Georgia has asked specifically, and to explain the policy on Soviet borders, let me get you the precise formulation. Q It's something about 1933. MR. BOUCHER: That's right.

[South Africa: Possible Release of Political Prisoners]

Q Hank Cohen is quoted in one of the newspapers this morning as saying President Bush will move to lift sanctions on South Africa promptly after April 30, which is apparently the day South Africa said it will release the remaining political prisoners. Is Hank speaking for the U.S. Government? Is that true? MR. BOUCHER: I didn't see the full transcript of exactly what he said. My understanding was that he was anticipating the possible release of political prisoners in South Africa and reiterating what our policy has always been: that we will act in accordance with the standards established by the Comprehensive Anti-Apartheid Act; and that as soon as the South African government had fulfilled the steps required in that Act, that we would act in consultation with Congress.

[Albania: Situation Update; US Protests Use of Force]

Q Can you add anything to what was said yesterday about Albanian elections? MR. BOUCHER: About the election? Q Yes. And the situation in Albania. MR. BOUCHER: On the elections, I think I would just add that we have -- in our meetings with the government, we have urged them to fully investigate the questions of irregularities which are reported in (inaudible), and which Margaret reported extensively on yesterday. We have also talked to them about the violence. Let me start out, I guess, by giving you the situation today, and then I'll report on some of our discussions. Our diplomatic team reports today that the Democratic Party has called for a one-day general strike in Tirana to protest the Albanian authorities' brutality in Shkoder. They also reported that the strike appears to have the support of much of the capital's workforce. We have no confirmed reports of violence at this time. Our team has reported that the situation throughout Albania remains calm but tense. We continue to urge all parties to exercise restraint in the present situation and to pursue political goals through peaceful, democratic dialogue. The head of our delegation of our team in Tirana, Mr. David Swartz, met yesterday with the Albanian Foreign Minister and officially protested the use of force against peaceful demonstrators. He also urged the Albanian authorities to promptly and fully investigate irregularities in the electoral process. He was officially informed earlier this morning that Albanian government leaders met in emergency session on Wednesday evening to discuss the situation in Shkoder, and he was told that the government has appointed a special commission to investigate the killings there on April 2. We welcome the Albanian government's decision, and we would again call on the Albanian authorities to investigate the violence thoroughly and promptly in a manner which is compatible with international rule of law standards and to punish those responsible for this violation of human rights. In addition to the meeting yesterday with the Foreign Minister, he has continued to convey the U.S. position to the Albanian government. Q On the meetings with the Iraqi-Kurdish-American folks, there's one more meeting left, is that right? MR. BOUCHER: That's right. Q With one more tomorrow? MR. BOUCHER: There will be one more tomorrow. Q And who's that with? MR. BOUCHER: I don't have a description of the meeting tomorrow. I think we'll let you sit in suspense until we tell you the wonders of it tomorrow. Q Thank you. (The briefing concluded at 1:35 p.m.)