US Department of State Daily Briefing,#56, Friday: 4/5/91

Tutwiler Source: State Department Spokesman Margaret Tutwiler Description: 12:05 PM, Washington, DC Date: Apr 5, 19914/5/91 Category: Briefings Region: MidEast/North Africa Country: Iraq, Kuwait, Israel, Lebanon, Turkey, Iran, Egypt Subject: Regional/Civil Unrest, Development/Relief Aid, Refugees, Democratization, Human Rights, Security Assistance and Sales, United Nations (ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED)

[Iraq: Details of Relief Efforts by All Countries]

MS. TUTWILER: I have three things that I would like to do before I take questions, the first of which is to hand out to you all -- I think it will be a useful document -- at the end of this briefing a 2-pager that the Department has done that will break out for you by country, amount, description, and receiving organization, all relief efforts that have taken place. You will see that the totals are, to be exact, a little over $136 million. It's closer to $137 million. I think this might be a useful document for those of you who wish to have it. Q Is the U.S. by any chance number one on that list? MS. TUTWILER: To be honest with you, John, I didn't look. Q Actually, Japan is. MS. TUTWILER: I would have to sit here and figure this all out. It's literally every single cash contribution.

[Iraq: Emergency Planning for Refugees]

The second statement I'd like to make is, yesterday, to emphasize our continuing concern, the Secretary dispatched Assistant Secretary for International Organization Affairs, John Bolton, to Geneva for emergency meetings with representatives of major donors to United Nations relief organizations and to coordinate relief efforts for Iraqi and other refugees and displaced persons. He is meeting with the heads of the International Committee of the Red Cross, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, the World Health Organization, the U.N. Development Program, the International Organization for Migration, the U.N. Disaster Relief Organization. In order to assist our own plans, we are hoping to receive a more detailed assessment from international relief agencies on what is needed.

[US Contributions to Relief Efforts]

Since August 2, as many of you all know, we have provided $35.5 million in cash, grant, and material assistance to United Nations agencies and the ICRC. This includes $7.6 million that we have given to the U.N. Regional Plan of Action designed to assist refugees. Yesterday, at a meeting of the U.N. relief organizations in Ankara, Ambassador Abramowitz announced that the United States is ready to provide immediately 12,000 metric tons of wheat and rice as well as all transport costs. This food can feed 150,000 people for three months. We are presently reviewing options for further assistance to the multilateral humanitarian assistance effort. We are considering what diplomatic and economic steps might be taken to convince the Iraqi government to cease its repressive measures that are causing the refugee flow. Meanwhile, humanitarian needs exist in all parts of Iraq and the flow of refugees toward border areas requires massive international efforts to deal with the problems. I might also mention that Under Secretary of State Robert Kimmitt attended a meeting at the White House this morning concerning this situation.

[Secretary Baker to Visit Israel and Egypt]

I have one other thing that I would like to do and then I'll be happy to take all of your questions. The President would like the Secretary to return to the Middle East. Prior to Secretary Baker's departure for the Middle East, he will meet with the President in Houston this Sunday. Secretary Baker will be in Israel on Tuesday for meetings. He will also visit Egypt and other countries in the region. The Secretary anticipates returning to Washington on Friday, April 12. The purpose of this trip is to see if we can bring the parties closer together. On the first trip, as you all remember, the Secretary sought to establish agreement on a basic approach. There was general agreement on the 2-track approach that he was suggesting. We began that trip to explore possible steps that each side could take. As you all know, we have had discussions since that time to see if we could develop points of convergence, as we've mentioned before, on these steps. The President and the Secretary feel that another trip at this time will be helpful in this process and that it is important if we are to try and take advantage of the window of opportunity that all believe exists. It also underlines our commitment to work actively to promote peace and real reconciliation among Israel, the Arab states, and the Palestinians. I would like, on a housekeeping matter, to strongly suggest, or urge, that those of you wishing to go on this trip sign up immediately after this briefing, at this conclusion. I do not have and will not have, so please save your calls for other important matters, we will not have today the details that you are accustomed to on this trip until tomorrow. Kim (Hoggard) will be here tomorrow and will be happy to provide those types of details. I would urge you all to please, as quickly as possible, because you know that we have to secure your visas, etc., please let us know at the conclusion of this briefing. At the conclusion of the briefing, I will be more than glad, as we routinely and always do, go into with you departure times and those types of things. Q What are the countries to be visited again? MS. TUTWILER: The only two that I'm announcing at this briefing are Israel and Egypt. Q Are others likely to be added? MS. TUTWILER: That's what I said. Q So this appears to be an Arab-Israeli peace initiative kind of trip? MS. TUTWILER: Correct. Q Not a post-Persian Gulf war type trip? MS. TUTWILER: No. But I do not, as we have -- this is something that the President and the Secretary have been discussing for a number of days. I do not want to rule out, John, since we're still in the process of developing the Secretary's trip, that he could not do other things, see other people. We're just not at that point yet. But, yes, predominantly, it is exactly as you said. This is, without question, a trip to deal with that issue. Q So that indicates, I guess, that you've seen some measure of progress from the time that Baker last left the region and now? Forward progress, not backward progress? MS. TUTWILER: I believe that I've refrained for the 27 months I've been in this job, when dealing with this subject, of characterizing whether there is progress, non-progress, stagnation, staying where you are. I don't believe that I said there was progress. I would refer you back to the Secretary's comments on the first trip that he made where he said this is the early stages of this process. He mentioned, in many other countries that he visited, too, there's a window of opportunity here. He said this will be a step-by-step process. I would, if I was going to characterize it, say this is yet another step in his step-by-step process. Q The President had a number of things on his agenda for next week including Congressional testimony. MS. TUTWILER: You mean the Secretary? Q I'm sorry, the Secretary. What happened to make him decide to undertake this very hastily-arranged visit? MS. TUTWILER: It's hastily. I can certainly understand why you would characterize it this way. As I said, this is something the President and the Secretary have been discussing for a number of days. So it was finally decided yesterday. As proper protocol, we do not notify you who, in turn, notify our public, until we have had an opportunity to talk to the various governments. You can even note that today I cannot -- because we have not completed all of our call-backs from governments -- say all the countries that we are definitely going to. But I would not characterize this has hastily at all. Q Is this a follow-up to General Scowcroft's recent trip to Saudi Arabia? MS. TUTWILER: No. Q He didn't lay any groundwork there or come upon any information there that is helping to prompt the Secretary's trip? MS. TUTWILER: We all work together, Mark, as you know, for one Administration. So I cannot say as literally as you're asking me that something specific that happened on General Scowcroft's trip determined that the Secretary of State would make a trip. I don't believe that we have ever ruled out -- the President or the Secretary -- future trips to the region. In fact, I believe it has been quite the opposite. The President, in Florida, in his press conference, if you go back and look at the record, said, in response to a question, "The Secretary may, indeed, be returning to the region." He said that about three days ago. As it turns out, he is. Q Margaret, does this trip have anything to do with the refugee situation concerning the Kurds? Would the Secretary perhaps become directly involved in that situation, for example, through a visit to Ankara? MS. TUTWILER: I cannot announce such a thing right now, John. There are many options on this trip and many ideas are being explored. Q Margaret, is there some development or some convergence of views that makes the trip necessary at this time? In other words, is there something in the region that has dictated the timing of this trip? MS. TUTWILER: As I have said, the President said earlier this week that he could see -- I can't get his exact phrase -- that it might be necessary for the Secretary to return to the region, I believe is literally what he said. The Secretary himself has said, when he was in Israel, when he was in any number of these countries, that he did not rule out coming back. It was determined, after a number of days of discussions with the President and the Secretary, that this is a good time to go, an appropriate time to go, and so he's going. Q I hate to keep trying to pin you down here on whether or not there is, in particular, any signs whatsoever which indicate that there is progress here? But it would appear, from the public signals that have been sent out by both the Arabs and the Israelis, that not only are they not moving forward, they're moving backward since Baker left the region. Is this an effort to stop backsliding? MS. TUTWILER: This is an effort to continue to take advantage of what we all agree is there, a window of opportunity. All have agreed and none that I'm aware of have said how long that window would exist. This is another step in what he originally characterized as this is going to be a step-by-step process. Q Will he meeting with Palestinians? MS. TUTWILER: I will respond to that the same way he did on our previous trip. If there is such a request, then, yes, of course he would meet. Q Do you have any comment on the report today in today's Washington Post about additional trailers and settlements and housing units in Israel? I take it that it goes without saying this is something that's going to come up on the Secretary's trip? MS. TUTWILER: Do I have a report on it, or do I -- Q No. Do you have a response to that report? MS. TUTWILER: A reaction? Q Your reaction. Yes. MS. TUTWILER: I certainly do. We are obviously concerned about that report, and Secretary Baker will take the issue up directly with the Israeli Government next week. Our strong opposition to settlement activity in the Occupied Territories is very well known. We continue to view such activity as an obstacle to peace and to current efforts to revive the peace process. We have been told in the past that the Israeli Government would have to approve expanded settlement activity and that no decisions had been made by the government. We trust that that is still the case. Q Margaret? MS. TUTWILER: Yes, Mark. Q When the Secretary was last in Israel, he was told that there had been no Cabinet decision? MS. TUTWILER: That's right. Q The Post reported this morning that, in fact, no Cabinet decision was necessary; that the budget process that was already in place allowed for the settlement planning to move forward. Were you given any indication of that when the Secretary was in Israel? MS. TUTWILER: You have characterized correctly, in the first part of your question, what the Secretary and other United States officials were told on his trip. What I'm not going to do, other than the statement that I made today, is to delve into this. I, myself personally, am not that familiar with the internal workings of their budget process, their governmental decisions, their Housing Minister's authority under their constitution, etc. What I am going to continue to point out is -- let's see, today is Friday -- on Tuesday, Secretary Baker will be having meetings in Jerusalem. I have said that this is one of the things that he will discuss while there, with the Israeli government. Q Just to pin it down, is it his understanding that it requires a Cabinet decision to expand settlements? MS. TUTWILER: What our understanding is, and what I have just stated, is that our understanding is that it requires an Israeli government decision. Q Is that Cabinet-Prime Minister? MS. TUTWILER: I can't pin it down for you or refine it more for you other than to say, our understanding, to be quite honest with you, since I've been here, has always been that it is a government decision. It's what is required. We went through this, I believe, about 6 or 7 months ago, as I remember. With the Housing Minister, as I remember saying, we were going to do X. In fact, as I believe I recall, even the Israeli government came out and said this requires a Cabinet decision, a government decision. Q Do you feel like you've been sandbagged by this? MS. TUTWILER: No. Q Has the $400 million been disbursed? MS. TUTWILER: Richard (Boucher), do you remember? Well, it was going in one tranche. I remember that decision. I honestly don't know, John. I'll check. Q But the decision was made to give it to them -- MS. TUTWILER: Oh, absolutely. Q -- on the basis of that. You don't know whether it has been disbursed. Does this put the $400 million in jeopardy if it has not been disbursed? Are you going to "review" once again, like you do with Jordan and other governments when you're not happy with -- MS. TUTWILER: If we are, I haven't heard that mentioned. As you know, Secretary Baker went through quite lengthy and detailed negotiations with his counterpart, the Foreign Minister, to reach agreement on the assurances that the United States Government was seeking concerning the $400 million. Those were, indeed, given by the Israeli government many weeks ago. At that point, you remember, Secretary Baker announced that the $400 million will be going in one tranche. The mechanics and the process of if, indeed, it has gone, I just hadn't checked on, so let me check. Q Does he plan to discuss the possibility of a trip by President Bush? MS. TUTWILER: I have no idea, Mark, if that will come up or not. There isn't a literal agenda yet to that level of detail. Q Will Mr. Baker also meet Palestinian officials or representatives? MS. TUTWILER: I answered that just a minute ago to this gentleman and said that if such a request comes in, that, of course, he would. Q Just so we understand each other here, is there any positive sign that has caused this trip to be initiated? Are you acknowledging in public any positive sign? MS. TUTWILER: I'm not going to play positive, negative, progress, non-progress. I will answer you back in the reverse of, I guess you could draw the conclusion, if there was absolutely no reason whatsoever to go and you were so discouraged, you probably wouldn't be just going through the motions to go on the trip. Q Well, who knows what motivates the Secretary. MS. TUTWILER: You've observed this Secretary of State for over two years now, and I'm not aware of a single trip he's taken just for going through the motions. Q Saddam Hussein. Do you have anything to say about his amnesty offer? MS. TUTWILER: We have just seen this this morning. We have noted it. Based on past performance, we are very skeptical. We also note it involves a limited period. This is unlikely to inspire confidence in the offer. The Iraqi regime should cease unconditionally its killing and brutalization of its own citizens. The Iraqi regime should facilitate international efforts to bring protection and relief to all Iraqi civilians throughout the country. Q Margaret, do you have anything on the People's Mujahedin of Iran in Iraq fighting Iranian regulars? MS. TUTWILER: No. Q Do you have any response to the ceasefire resolution yet from Iraq? MS. TUTWILER: No, we have not received a response yet.

[Iraq: UN Discussion on Resolutions to Halt Attacks]

Q Margaret, do you have any update on the U.N. resolution -- discussions on the U.N. resolution about Iraq's civil war? MS. TUTWILER: The Security Council was due to meet informally this morning at 11:00 a.m. to consider a draft resolution on displaced persons and may vote on the text shortly thereafter. The United States fully supports this resolution. We are deeply concerned about the plight of these defenseless civilians. As the President said on April 3, "The United States condemns in the strongest terms the Iraqi Government's continued attacks against defenseless Kurds and other Iraqi civilians. the President also publicly called upon Iraq's leaders to halt these attacks immediately to continue to allow international organizations into Iraq and demanded that Iraq ensure that humanitarian aid reaches these needy civilians throughout the country. We urge all Security Council members to vote in favor of the resolution. Q Margaret, some of the Kurds -- one of the Kurdish-American gentleman who met with a State Department official yesterday said that he had asked the State Department to consider allowing 25,000 Iraqi-Kurds into the United States on an asylum basis, or refugee basis. Is this something the United States would consider, is considering? MS. TUTWILER: I haven't seen a readout of that meeting, Carol. I'm not aware of this gentleman's suggestion. Was it a suggestion or a request? Q It was a request. MS. TUTWILER: A request. I unfortunately -- I'm sorry, that has not been brought to my attention. That would obviously be something that would have to be decided at a higher level than me just sitting here today and saying, yes. But I do know, as I mentioned earlier, that Under Secretary Kimmitt attended a meeting this morning at the White House. I know that interagency, and in our government, any number of things are being discussed to address the situation of these refugees and displaced persons. But that specific one, I just can't address myself to. Q Margaret, do you have an update on the situation either in Iraq, on its borders, in Turkey? MS. TUTWILER: That's a lot of questions, Jan. Which is it that you would like. All of the above? Q Well, start at the top and work down.

[Iraq: Civil Unrest Update]

MS. TUTWILER: On an Iraqi update: Fighting continues in northern Iraq between government forces and dissidents. Sulaymaniyah is now in government hands, but we believe there is heavy fighting southeast of the city. There is also unrest in the city of Irbil. In the south, there has been some scattered fighting along the lower Tigris River and in the vicinity of the Shi'a holy cities of Najaf and Karbala as government forces attempt to put down pockets of armed dissidents.

[Iraqi Refugess]

Q How about the border? How many refugees do you think are actually moving, if that is possible gauge? How many people have come across -- MS. TUTWILER: Can we do this -- it's the only way I could get it organized this morning. There's so many facts and figures. Let's do Turkey. I'll do southern Iraq for you, and I'll do Iran.
Turkey:
The Turkish government announced April 4 that the border is not closed. We welcome that statement. President Ozal reportedly said on British television that over 100,00 displaced persons have already entered Turkey and remain in the immediate area of the border. As many as two to three times that number may be on the Iraqi side of the border. The Turks have also said that they are not in a position to receive massive numbers of displaced persons and that "necessary measures have been taken to ensure that it will not be possible to come into Turkey in massive groups." The Prime Minister has stated nonetheless that "it is out of the question for our troops to use arms to stop the refugees." We also understand that the Turks have initiated a cross-border relief operation. We are working with the Turks and relevant United Nations agencies to mount a more intensive relief operation to mobilize international assistance for the displaced persons and to persuade the Turkish government to facilitate entry across its borders as soon as sufficient resources are available. There have been reports concerning Turkey of as many as up to 250,000 new arrivals in Turkey. We cannot confirm that number that is floating out in the press. U.N. and other relief officials agreed on the need to augment emergency preparations now underway in Turkey. Prepositioned supplies held by United Nations agencies are sufficient for approximately 20,000 persons, including tents, blankets, and cots have been turned over to the Turkish Red Crescent and the Turkish government for refugee relief efforts. Medical kits for large numbers of refugees have also been turned over and preparations are underway to provide 250 metric tons of U.N. food supplies. We understand that the Turkish government is supplying food and medicines to displaced persons from Iraq and that some of these are being transported across the border into Iraq. The food and medicines are being given to the refugees along the border and further distributed by them. We have one report, initially, that 30,000 loaves of bread were sent across the border. According to the same report, flour is now being sent since the refugees are able to prepare their own bread. We understand that the Turkish government is eager to see cross-border relief take place on a large scale. The United States, as I've said -- and Richard said yesterday -- is working with United Nations agencies to mobilize international assistance for these displaced persons, and we have been in constant contact with the Turkish government on how we may work together to get relief. Q Hold on for just a moment. MS. TUTWILER: Could I finish Turkey? Q Now, could we ask you just a couple of questions? MS. TUTWILER: Sure. Q Are the refugees who are pushed up against the Turkish border -- are they under attack by the Iraqi army? MS. TUTWILER: I can't speak specifically about the Turkish border, but, yes, we would confirm for you that along the entire border, John, that we have evidence of individuals, displaced persons, refugees -- yes -- being attacked. We don't have a lot of information, but we are definitely in a position to confirm that that is going on. Q Do you have a scale? MS. TUTWILER: I don't have a scale for you. I can tell you that government helicopters have most certainly fired on and killed or injured unarmed Iraqi civilians. Q Near the border. MS. TUTWILER: Government forces continue to employ helicopters against dissidents in northern and southern Iraq -- yes. Q The helicopters are firing at them near the border. That's very important versus -- are we literally 200 miles away? MS. TUTWILER: Are we literally on the border with the helicopters? Let me check it that they're literally on the border. Q O.K. Secondly, when there is the cross-border aid being done -- MS. TUTWILER: Yes. Q -- are there any Iraqis wandering around here -- soldiers, government officials? They're just allowing the Turks to come across the border and hand out food and lollipops and stuff? That sounds very uncharacteristic of them. MS. TUTWILER: Well, as hard as we try, I probably do not have for you the cleanest, clearest picture that you would like. I can't pinpoint every single, solitary thing. As I understand, many of these people are in mountains, many of them are in roads all over this border -- meany people who are trying to flee and who are displaced persons and refugees. So I can't tell you, John, categorically, that it is a very organized system that has evolved out there that someone, if they were an Iraqi troop, knows to go to Borderpost A and shoot or maim people. Do you see what I am saying? I think that it is a little right now, obviously, confused and unsettled situation and that people are improvising, in many instances -- Iraqis, Turks, U.N. relief organizations -- with individuals who are down there to try to help in this situation. Q Margaret, do you think the majority of the refugees are in danger? You said there may be some shooting, but can this -- MS. TUTWILER: I can't categorize it as "the majority," other than to say the majority shouldn't be forced to leave their country. Q Do you think this cross-border refugee effort can work? Is this something that the U.S. supports because they think that they can be safe inside Iraq along the border, or is this going to be a grave mistake because they will be in danger of -- MS. TUTWILER: I don't think I have a crystal ball for you today, Pat. on that this is going to be a mistake or that they are in grave danger. What I'm trying to do is do the best job that I can, gathering as much information in the mornings that we can for you of our assessment of what is going on. But I don't believe right now that we are in a position to step back and do a lot of analytical work for you. What we are doing is in a very -- in my mind -- action-oriented mode dealing with a situation that is real, that is developing there on the ground, as are many others from many other countries. Q So this is Turkey's idea. They are insisting on this. And whether it will be a workable way to deal with refugees is not clear to the U.S. at this point? MS. TUTWILER: I don't believe that I said that it was Turkey's idea. I believe it is a situation that has developed. I believe that it is a situation that I'm not aware of that anyone is condemning, and it is what's going on on the ground. So I'm in a mode of trying to gather for you and express to you what we know at this moment of time is going on. I can't say to you this is the system that will exist in three weeks; I don't know if the need will be there in two weeks. But it is a way that has developed there on the ground that's been improvised that is getting food and supplies to people who are in Iraq. Q And for the moment the U.S. is not discouraging that effort. MS. TUTWILER: No. Why would we discourage it? Q Well -- MS. TUTWILER: I mean these people -- Q -- if they were in danger of being killed by Iraqis, then the people -- MS. TUTWILER: The people are there. What we are doing is giving them humanitarian assistance -- food, medicine if needed, blankets, water. They're there. Q Turgot Ozal has argued that he would be willing to take many more refugees if he could get commitments from European governments, and probably our Government, to take some of these people on a permanent basis. Is the United States engaged in a diplomatic effort to pressure other European governments to make room in their population base for more Kurdish refugees? MS. TUTWILER: Not that I'm personally aware of, but I will check on that particular for you. Q Margaret, can we go on to other areas or question one? MS. TUTWILER: Yes.
Iran
Next we will do Iran, and its basically the same information that Richard gave you yesterday. International organizations reported yesterday that over 50,000 refugees had crossed into Iran. The Iranian government has reported to the U.N. that over ll0,000 Iraqi civilians have sought refugee in Iran, including 45,000 in the north and that thousands more are waiting to cross the border. No other sources have confirmed this one report that we have. As we stated yesterday, the U.N. and other relief agencies have been augmenting their relief facilities in Iran to assist the new arrivals. And then I've got southern Iraq -- all right, one second. Q Before you go on to that, yesterday Richard said that if the need was deemed in northern Iran to put up camps to absorb these people, then they would be there under U.N. auspices. Do you know if that's now deemed to be the case? MS. TUTWILER: My understanding, Jan, is throughout this crisis the Iranian government, in coordination with the U.N. and their own International Red Cross organization, have been helping all types of people. So I'm not aware that that's anything new. Q There were attempts in the south, but in the north they -- MS. TUTWILER: Well, if they help in the south, why wouldn't they in the north? I don't understand. Q Because in the north they're absorbed into -- according to Richard yesterday, they are absorbed into Kurdish villages. But he said that if it was deemed that there were too many of them to be absorbed, then they would need to rethink the situation. Now, 45,000 people in northern Iran is a lot of people. And do you know whether this has, therefore, triggered a rethinking mechanism? MS. TUTWILER: No, but I would stick with what Richard said. If -- and I don't know and have at my fingertips the villages or the communities where these people are fleeing -- they can't handle it, I would imagine that the Iranian Government, in contact with the United Nations and the ICRC, would assess the situation and develop alternative plans. Q So that sounds good.
Southern Iraq
MS. TUTWILER: Southern Iraq: Although U.S. forces operate no dislocated civilian camps in Iraq, U.S. forces continue to provide humanitarian assistance -- which includes food, water, medical care, and some shelter materials to displaced persons and local civilians in need. This aid is being provided to thousands of dislocated civilians within the area of coalition control. DOD estimates that 750 to a thousand people are entering this area daily and that the number is growing. These figures, I would like to remind you, are estimates only as of this briefing, since the refugees are free to move in and out of the coalition-controlled area. Saudi military forces have established a camp for Iraqi refugees north of Rafha. Currently, there are about 5,000 refugees in this camp. Also, the Kuwaiti Red Crescent-run refugee camp in the vicinity of Safwan, but inside the Kuwaiti border, currently has over 3,000 refugees. Q Margaret, on that subject -- MS. TUTWILER: Yes. Q -- one of the people who met with State Department officials -- one of the Iraqi dissidents -- registered deep fears that when the Americans leave these areas, these tens of thousands of people face, actually, murder. MS. TUTWILER: Right. Q And they're going to be handed over, indeed, to the Iraqi government. MS. TUTWILER: Right. Q Can the United States do anything to help them? MS. TUTWILER: This is something that we've addressed all week long, and at present we have said -- which happens to still be true today -- that we are in discussions with the International Committee of the Red Cross concerning this situation, Barry. It is one that we are very well aware of. And you came in late -- maybe you maybe you heard me from your office -- Assistant Secretary John Bolton is in Geneva right now discussing refugees and displaced persons with any number of organizations, all of which I stated earlier. Q But, I mean, is there anything that the Administration can do or intends to do or wants to do directly with the Iraqi government? What these people are suggesting is that the United States, as a matter of policy, could do various things -- like threaten to keep the sanctions on, if there is some genocide. The Red Cross, which existed in World War II also, has never been able to prevent genocide. It provides bandages to wounded people. But it can't -- you know, it's not a government; it's just a relief organization. The United States is the powerful government. Is there anything the United States will do to directly with Iraq to try to avoid this? MS. TUTWILER: You're asking me future-oriented questions, Barry. I've told you that we are well aware of this -- Q Yes. MS. TUTWILER: -- that these discussions are going on. Q Right. MS. TUTWILER: You act like, by the preface of your question , that somehow our government has a great deal of influence with the Iraqi government. I'm not so sure that they really care too much what we think. A United Nations resolution has just been passed, which as been characterized as the most extensive resolution concerning a resolution passed on a member nation that has been passed. And, as you know -- again, you weren't here -- we said earlier that we are working right now, since ll o'clock this morning, on yet another resolution concerning the situation on refugees, not just in this part of the country but in the whole country in the displaced persons and refugees. So I think that we are very well aware of the situation, and at this moment all I have to tell you that we are doing are the things that I just briefly mentioned. Q The Washington Times has a story today saying the Administration is weighing the option of resuming bombing in Iraq. MS. TUTWILER: I didn't see that story, and I've certainly never heard that mentioned. And the President last night, I think, could not have been more clear about the mandate that the United States troops were in the region; and I believe that I would just refer you to his record of last night. He was quite clear. Q Another question. There's a hundred and twenty days for Iraq to accept the U.N. resolution. We're withdrawing troops at the rate of about 5,000 a day. Is the Administration thinking of slowing down that rate to make sure they're not all gone by the time the deadline is reached? MS. TUTWILER: You'd have to ask the Defense Department. It's an operational question. Q Back on the question of th cross-border in Turkey, two quick things. One is you mentioned that a number of operations are providing food to the refugees, who are then passing it on. MS. TUTWILER: Yes. Q Can you characterize that as "mostly what's happening," or what portion -- MS. TUTWILER: I'm not in a position to tell you which percentage is going that way or not. I'm sorry; I'm just not. Q And then another one on the -- you mentioned that the Turkish Government said that no large numbers of displaced persons would be allowed in large numbers across the border. Is that a difference between what the U.S. is asking Turkey to do with respect to its border? MS. TUTWILER: No. As you know, several days ago, a Foreign Ministry spokesman of the Turkish government had said that they intended to close their borders. I believe they, indeed, then did close their borders. And they have now -- it's my understanding as of April 4 -- said that their borders are open. They have also said -- and the President addressed this last night in his Q∧A with Prime Minister Kaifu in California -- we recognize that even if you take the numbers that we have right now, this is an enormous amount of people that would be flooding into any country; and we can certainly understand the concerns of the country that is receiving these people. Physically, they're in their land. And so we are all -- our country and any number of countries -- looking at what we all can do to help in this very tragic situation that exists right now. Q Margaret, following on what you said, you and other officials have made a great point of saying that the United States and other countries had expected, since the invasion and since this whole war-planning took place -- you expected some refugee movement to be caused by all this conflict. Is it fair to say that the numbers are vastly beyond your wildest imaginations?

[Iraq: Capacity of Relief Agencies]

MS. TUTWILER: No, because it's my understanding the refugee people here at the State Department, in coordination with the refugee organizations, had been anticipating anywhere from ll5,000 to 400,000. I would also remind you, which I know you're well aware of, in a little over two months, when the first Gulf crisis broke out and Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait, it's my understanding that processed at the Jordanian border -- if you'll remember those refugee camps -- were over one million displaced persons. And that happened. It took place and transpired in a little over eight weeks is my understanding. And I think that in fairness to the international community, we have a lot of experience in dealing with these types of situations. I have no reason to believe at this moment in time that the international community is not going to be able to properly, professionally, adequately deal with this particular situation. But it is one that we had always anticipated would happen. To be quite honest with you, we really thought this would have happened weeks ago, not at this particular moment in time. It is now happening. We had many things that we pre-positioned and ready to go, and we are making adjustments as the situation calls for.

[Iraq: US Meetings with Dissidents]

Q Margaret, there was to be a meeting with an Iraqi opponent today? MS. TUTWILER: Today? That's correct. Q Can you tell us about it? MS. TUTWILER: I'll be glad to. Mr. Jabr, President of the Free Iraq Council, is scheduled at 2 p.m. today with Deputy Assistant Secretary David Mack. He is a Shi'a, it is my understanding. In requesting the Department meeting today, Mr. Jabr stated he would be bringing messages from several other opposition factions in addition to the Free Iraq Council. The Free Iraq Council is a coalition of democratic opposition groups based in London. Mr. Jabr was for many years head of the new Umma -- U-M-M-A -- Party, also based in London, which combined last January with a number of other independent opposition groups to form the Free Iraq Council. The meeting will take place in this building. Q Is this Saad Jabr? MS. TUTWILER: Yes. Q O.K. Q About what time? MS. TUTWILER: 2:00. Q Could you spell the first name? MS. TUTWILER: The first name is S-A-A-D. Second name is J-A-B-R. Q Margaret -- MS. TUTWILER: Yes, Connie. Q Anything new today on South African sanctions beyond what was said yesterday? MS. TUTWILER: No. Q Nothing closer toward a resolution? MS. TUTWILER: I really don't, Connie. Q Thank you; thank you. Q Are there any other meetings scheduled? MS. TUTWILER: For today? Q No. MS. TUTWILER: For next week? Q Yes. You might want -- MS. TUTWILER: I really don't know. I knew about the four this week. We told you about this is the fourth one. I don't know. Q Margaret, these opposition figures are telling us that they're requesting that the State Department meets publicly with the representatives of the Iraqi opposition. I mean, not the individuals here but those who represent the various political groupings that are based either in Iraq or in Damascus or in London. Can you confirm that? MS. TUTWILER: I, for myself, have only had brief readouts of these meetings from Ambassador Kelly, and I'm not aware of that level of detail of the meetings. But I don't know exactly what your question is since we have said over the last ten days publicly that each request that comes into the State Department will be evaluated as all requests are and that, as we have shown you this week, we have been meeting with individuals who are Iraqi individuals or say they represent certain groups that are of the opposition in their country. Q Going back to Barry's question if I may, you said that the United States has little influence in Iraq, but in fact we do occupy 20 percent of Iraqi territory and we control a hundred percent of its air. MS. TUTWILER: It certainly hasn't stopped them from what's going on in that country, has it? Q Well, my question is: Is there anything the United States or the world community can do to prevent the massacres, because genocide, after all, is against international law and the picture is emerging that the genocide is taking place in Iraq. MS. TUTWILER: The international community is, in my opinion, doing everything that it can on the humanitarian side. It is my opinion that they will continue to do even more on the humanitarian side and that that is how this is being addressed. Q Margaret, can I ask you about that term "genocide"? The German Foreign Minister used it today, and President Ozal has used it. Does the United States consider what Iraq is doing to the Kurds genocide? MS. TUTWILER: I have not heard the President express that belief. I'd be happy to look into it for you. I haven't heard a United States Government official use that, use that term. Q Genscher, isn't it? MS. TUTWILER: He's German. Q Yes. Q Thank you. Q Thank you. Q Excuse me. A minor issue, but nonetheless. I understand that Assistant Secretary John Kelly met last night with former Lebanese President Amin Gemayel. Is this a courtesy call or -- MS. TUTWILER: It is. He was President, it is my understanding, when the Ambassador was United States Ambassador to Lebanon. It was a personal call and a courtesy call. Q No political significance? MS. TUTWILER: No. Q O.K. (The briefing concluded at l2:47 p.m.)