US Department of State Daily Briefing #65: Monday: 4/22/91

Boucher Source: State Department Deputy Spokesman Richard Boucher Description: 12:32 PM, Washington, DC Date: Apr 22, 19914/22/91 Region: MidEast/North Africa, Southeast Asia, Subsaharan Africa, South Asia Country: Iraq, Kuwait, Vietnam, Afghanistan, Turkey, Iran Subject: Regional/Civil Unrest, Development/Relief Aid, Refugees, Military Affairs, POW/MIA Issues (ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED) MR. BOUCHER: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. If I can, I'll run through the status of relief efforts for you, and then I'll be glad to take any questions you might have.

[Iraq: Update on Refugee Relief Efforts]

[Numbers of Refugees]
First, as far as the numbers go: On the Turkish border the relief officials, both the international relief officials and the Turkish government, report about 450,000 Iraqi refugees have entered Turkey and about 400,000 are located near the Turkish-Iraqi border. According to our observers there, refugee flows into the Turkish border areas appear to have stopped. The situation on the Iranian border is approximately the same. About one million refugees have entered Iran; another 500,000 are at or near the Iran-Iraq border. In southern Iraq: There are about 24,000 Iraqi refugees in southern Iraq in the coalition-occupied area. There are between 30,000 and 40,000 people, both refugees and local civilians, who are receiving assistance in that area from U.S. and other coalition forces.
US-Iraqi Discussions
You're familiar with the meetings that were held over the weekend with the Iraqi military in the areas of northern Iraq, but let me run through that a little more for you. On April 19, the U.S.-led combined task force delegation informed the Iraqi representatives of the plans for expansion of relief operations and sought to ensure Iraqi understanding of the multinational relief operation. Iraqi military forces have thus far demonstrated no intent to interfere with the provision of humanitarian assistance to Iraqi refugees inside northern Iraq.
Construction of Refugee Camp
On April 21, the multinational military forces began construction of a number of temporary tent villages in the vicinity of Zakhu, Iraq. There will be 20-25 temporary villages, each designed to support about a thousand people, that will be grouped in a community structure. That community structure will be supported by administration, supply, and distribution areas, and facilities for medical care. The Zakhu area was selected as the site for the first village because it meets the basic geographical criteria that have been established. This includes things like level terrain with good drainage, access to roads or airstrips, water sources, sanitation, and proximity to the humanitarian support base which was established at Silopi. Military forces assigned to the multinational task force will provide security for the villages, and there is a rapid reaction force available, if needed. U.S., French, U.K., Canadian and Italian military aircraft continue to provide humanitarian assistance to the refugees along this border area between Iraq and Turkey. On April 21, there were 462.8 tons of relief supplies delivered. This brings the total to 4,164.9 tons delivered since the beginning of the operation on April 7. We now estimate that about 600 tons of supplies is required daily to meet the emergency needs of the refugees. As of today, we're over 400 tons a day, delivered primarily by air. We believe that we'll be able to achieve the 600-tons-per-day requirement by some time this week. The Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance has provided another $5 million for local purchase of relief supplies in this area, and we are moving increasingly to the use of helicopters and trucks in order to provide the relief to people more efficiently than the air drops that started in the beginning.
Conditions at Camps
Conditions in the camps in Turkey continue to improve as relief delivery systems become more organized. Turkish government officials have moved nearly 10,000 people from the mountain area to the new facility near Silopi, and they're continuing to move refugees to this new camp. The area is a suitable camp location, because it meets the same criteria as before -- access to reliable relief supply delivery systems, adequate water sources and good drainage. Other areas in Turkey have now been designated as refugee centers. They were selected using the same criteria, and the Turks are setting up operations in these other areas. Meetings are taking place today in Geneva between U.S. military officials and officials of the various U.N. organizations involved. We'll be exchanging our views on our respective operations with people in Geneva. We continue to look for an early turnover to the United Nations. We have no reason to believe that the U.N. doesn't want to assume responsibility for these operations. On the Iranian border: There are truck convoys that are reaching the border area. One convoy from Damascus, I think, is cited in today's sitrep. The International Red Cross is also setting up two more camps in Iran with facilities for 80,000 people. As far as our exchanges with Iran go, as you know, we've said that we're prepared to help refugees wherever they are. We've continued our exchanges with the Iranians through our protecting power, the Swiss, to identify how the U.S. can help with refugees in Iran. The Iranians have now clarified their needs through these exchanges, and we're considering how to go about supplementing the ongoing Iranian and international efforts to assist people who are at the Iran-Iraq border. Q Did you say "now" or "have not clarified"? MR. BOUCHER: "Now" Q "Have now clarified." MR. BOUCHER: Yes. There were some reports of typhoid outbreaks near the Iranian refugee camps. We can't confirm those reports. We do know that reports of cholera and typhoid outbreaks in the camps in northern and southern Iraq are unfounded. In southern Iraq: There are approximately 17,000 personnel from allied forces that are stationed in the demilitarized zone. They continue to provide protection and humanitarian assistance to refugees and local civilians within the zone, including the town of Safwan and the Saudi-run refugee camp near Rafha. We continue to coordinate with the United Nations and international organizations in the area concerning refugee assistance. We believe that the presence of U.N. and international organizations should be sufficient to assure security and protection in this area, and U.S. forces, of course, will provide protection until the United Nations observer forces assume control of the zone. And with that update, I'd be glad to take your questions. Q You said the Iranians have clarified their needs. Can you elaborate on what they're seeking? MR. BOUCHER: I'm afraid I can't at this point, George. Q And how are you communicating with them? MR. BOUCHER: Through our protecting power, the Swiss.
Death Toll
Q Do you have any update on the death toll? You say that conditions are improving along the Turkish-Iraqi border. MR. BOUCHER: The estimates of the death toll remain estimates, and I will give you a figure provided you understand it's an estimate only, and it's subject to change. It appears the death toll in that area is about 60 per day now. Q Richard, does the appearance of the Iraqi police in Zakhu counter the U.N. resolution? Apparently, according to reports coming out of Zakhu this morning, there are now 700 armed Iraqi police -- between 700 and 2,000 armed Iraqi police in the area where the Marines are setting up the refugee camp. MR. BOUCHER: I hadn't seen those kinds of figures on the presence of the Iraqi police. You know that our meeting was held with Iraqi military people on Saturday. We also had a meeting on Saturday with the Iraqi representative at the United Nations -- the Iraqi Ambassador there -- and Iraqi officials have assured us that they will not pose any obstacles to the international relief effort. Q Richard, yesterday at least 200 armed police showed up. An American official was quoted in Zakhu as saying, "This is of great concern to us." And so nothing from anybody else. MR. BOUCHER: Well, obviously, the presence of forces is going to be of concern to us. Our people are working on the ground to try to work those things out, but I think I have to stick with what I'm saying -- that we don't see any indications that the Iraqis intend to interfere with the international relief efforts. Q How are you going to choose the people to come into these camps? MR. BOUCHER: The people that are being moved to the camps inside Turkey -- the one near Silopi -- I think I said on Friday we were taking people with medical problems, pregnant women, old people first in the transport. As far as how the people will be chosen to go to the camps inside Iraq, I really don't know. Q But you would acknowledge that there's a big difference between moving people to a camp inside Turkey and moving them to a camp inside Iraq. MR. BOUCHER: Sure. But, obviously, our primary focus of the relief efforts will remain to get it to the people who most need it. But exactly what arrangements are made to get people to these camps, I don't know. Q The last time, you spoke more of convincing them than of choosing them. The last time you spoke of "psychological brigades" to motivate them into moving. MR. BOUCHER: I don't think I've ever spoken about "psychological brigades," but I think the point is to set up facilities -- starting with the first one near Zakhu -- where people are assured that they can be safe, that they can get the relief that they need. That will motivate, we hope, people to go there. Q Also, bringing something from your own very words, there seem to be more refugees in the south near the border with Iran -- about a million -- than on the border with Turkey -- about 850,000 -- and yet all the provisions, all the aid to the south, to the border with Iran, is moving by truck. Any thought being given to transportation by air? MR. BOUCHER: There are a variety of international relief efforts underway. I think I reported on Friday on some of the EC efforts -- on things that were going into Iran. You'll see some of that in the daily sitrep repeated for you. There are also extensive efforts by the Iranian Red Crescent. So we're well aware of the numbers. We're well aware of the needs. And, as I said, we're considering how to supplement the Iranian international efforts with things the U.S. might do to help people. Q You said that some time this week, allied forces should be able to meet the 600-ton-a-day limit. The death toll seems to be coming down. Are you prepared to say that the crisis is stabilizing? MR. BOUCHER: I don't think I'm prepared to say that until we know that everybody's getting what they need. Q Another question: Do you have any comment on these talks in Baghdad between Kurdish leaders and Saddam Hussein? MR. BOUCHER: Really, a general one, because what we've seen about this meeting is from press reports. Our longstanding position is that Iraq must cease human rights violations against the Kurds and accord the Kurds the full rights of citizenship. This would include full participation in the institutions of government and appropriate opportunities to express their religious, cultural and linguistic heritage. Looking at it from here, we certainly hope that the talks in Baghdad are a step towards that direction.

[Iraq: US Meetings with Dissidents]

Q Richard, on that point, can you tell us a little bit about this meeting today with the Kurdish leaders and Deputy Secretary Mack? MR. BOUCHER: Yes. We've been holding meetings with the Iraqi opposition figures for the past few weeks. These meetings in the past have included several Kurds representing different groups. As part of this series of meetings, NEA Deputy Assistant Secretary David Mack is again meeting with a Kurdish group today at 2:00 p.m. There will be five Kurdish individuals in the meeting, including representatives of the Kurdish Democratic Party, the Popular Union of Kurdistan, the Kurdish Socialist Party, the Kurdish Popular Democratic Party, and a local representative of the Kurdish National Congress of North America. I understand from press reports that the first three of these groups is represented in the Baghdad meeting. The meeting has been in the works for a couple of weeks. As we've explained in the past, this series of meetings represents an opportunity to hear the perspective of individuals on what is going on inside Iraq, and also for us to explain American policy and actions in the area. Q Well, again according to a report in The Post yesterday, what they're looking for is some sort of sign from the U.S. about whether the U.S. is going to help them achieve greater freedoms, and so forth, over there, or, if not, whether they should take this latest offer from Saddam more seriously. Can you give us any sense of what kind of message they're going to get today on this? MR. BOUCHER: We'll have to see what they say. As you know, I just said that we've supported their full political rights; that we have long held that human rights abuses against the Kurds should stop. We're providing assistance to the refugees where they are, and I'm sure we'll be glad to explain that policy. Q Is it fair to say, though, that we are encouraging them to make their peace with Saddam rather than to rely on us to achieve these things for them? MR. BOUCHER: Those kinds of issues are -- I mean, exactly what they want to do with Saddam is for them to decide. We take advantage of these meetings to explain our views, to explain what we're doing. I think you're all familiar with those, and I think I'd just have to leave it at that in advance of the meeting. Q Richard, is it the view of the United States that Kurds have these rights that you just outlined inside Turkey? MR. BOUCHER: Alan, I'll be glad to see if there's a different formulation from inside Turkey, but I think basically, yes, we don't think that there should be human rights abuses against Kurds anywhere, and we think that they should be allowed to express their cultural heritage, etc. Q But my question is, are they allowed to? In the United States view, does their situation in Turkey -- is their situation in Turkey a satisfactory expression of what you just outlined ought to be their situation in Iraq? MR. BOUCHER: I'll be glad to get you our human rights report and see if we address it there. I'm sure that would give a much better exposition than I can give right now.

[Africa: US Aid to Refugees]

Q On a related question, some international relief organizations are expressing anxiety that focus on the Kurdish tragedy is drawing attention away from the situation in Africa where 20 million people are threatened with famine. They express concern that government grain contributions -- not necessarily of the United States but worldwide -- are falling way behind schedule, and individual contributions are also actually non-existent. Is this a concern? MR. BOUCHER: I think the situation of refugees in Africa is certainly a concern of ours, and we have continued to contribute to those efforts, even as we've mounted the effort in Iraq and near its borders. Well, let me check on something before I add to that. But we have continued to offer the assistance and support necessary in Africa. We've continued to work on the very difficult refugee problems that are there. Q Well, could you take the specific question as to whether deliveries are behind schedule to Africa as a direct result of the problems in the Gulf? MR. BOUCHER: I'd be glad to, George. Q Could you also -- if you're taking a question -- just get us an update on the famine situation in the Horn of Africa in particular? Is that possible? MR. BOUCHER: O.K. Q Richard, is it possible that American airplanes might be landing in Iran as part of the relief effort there? MR. BOUCHER: I'm afraid at this point I'm not in a position to go into any more detail on what we might consider. Q Can you tell us why -- why the secrecy? (Laughter) You know, there are -- MR. BOUCHER: Let me give you a short explanation, Saul. We'll decide what we want to do, and then we'll tell you about it. That's usually the way we operate. Q Richard, on the same question, I think late last week -- I think it was Thursday -- you were saying the Iranians "are clarifying their needs," and now you're saying that, "They have clarified their needs, and we are now considering it." So are you moving forward on this process? Are we closer to doing something? MR. BOUCHER: Chris, I'll just note that, as you noted, there's a different phrasing today, and that we've been working on this. We've had regular exchanges, and we're now considering what we might do to supplement the efforts that are already underway there. Q Last week, you didn't want to tell us what it was that the Iranians said they needed. I didn't really understand why that was. But now that they've clarified what that is, do you want to share that with us? MR. BOUCHER: No, I don't, Chris. Q Is there a difference between what we have offered them and what they're asking for? Is that the problem? MR. BOUCHER: No, I'm not trying to lead you to any big differences here. We have, as you know, been much more reserved than this in the past about discussing our exchanges that we have with the Iranians through our protecting power, the Swiss. I'm trying to give you a status of where we are in terms of the exchanges, but I don't want to get into starting to predict specific kinds of efforts. Q Is it part of a legal problem in the United States' relationship with Iran that limits certain things that the U.S. can do? MR. BOUCHER: I think there are some laws on this, but I'm not sure that they actually limit what we can do for Iraqi refugees. I think it's more a matter of seeing what they need, seeing what other people are doing, deciding what we can do, and when we decide we'll tell you about it. Q Are you saying whether or not what they need is in any way substantially different from what you've already dropped in Turkey? I can't see how tarpaulins and baby milk can in any way be a political issue unless, of course, it's an Iraqi baby milk factory. You've dropped bedding and food and water and salt and tea, and the whole 9 yards. It's the whole supermarket -- MR. BOUCHER: Jan, it's really more appropriate for me to leave it to the Iranians to describe, to the extent that they want to in public, what exactly they need. Q You didn't leave it to the Turks. Richard, it doesn't make sense. MR. BOUCHER: We've been working with the Turks on an effort. We've described what we've sent in. We've described what we're flying in. We've described what we're dropping. We've described what we're doing. I'm sure that when we decide what we can do on the Iranian side of the border, we'll describe that for you as well. Q But you were telling us what their needs were and it was obvious what their needs were even before we started doing it. I wonder why you're standing on ceremony with more than a million Kurds on the Iranian side. MR. BOUCHER: Saul, I don't want to get into a big fight over this. I had not realized you would take it so personally. The point is that this is what we're doing elsewhere on the other side of the border as well. We've got to consider what the requests are. If they want to talk about what they need, that's fine. Then we'll talk about what we're doing when we do it. Q Richard, let me quote a senior Administration official who said not far from here last week, "We saw the need and we went and did it," or something to that effect. Very close to that. There is obviously a need there. I'm wondering if those Kurds on the Iranian side are unfortunate enough to be held hostage because we have a hostage problem with Iran? MR. BOUCHER: Saul, I've said repeatedly from this podium our willingness to help. I've said that there are major efforts underway on that side of the border that are being spearheaded by United Nations organizations, the International Red Cross, the European Community, various U.N. organizations and various other countries are in there helping already. I think we've given you rundowns of what is going on on that side of the border. We've repeatedly stated our willingness to help refugees wherever they are and our willingness to help refugees that are on the Iranian side of the border, and we will be doing that. As soon as I have something more concrete to report to you, I'll be glad to report it to you. Q Richard, to avoid some confusion on this, can you tell us whether or not your talks with Iran are focusing strictly on the refugee problem? MR. BOUCHER: The exchanges that I've been reporting to you on are about the needs and what we can do to address them. Q The refugee needs? MR. BOUCHER: Yes. Q Richard, a parallel issue: Kuwait. The Secretary is over there now. Amnesty International brought forth a report on the 18th of this month denouncing the treatment of Palestinians and third-country nationals over there. Is the Secretary bringing his concerns forward to this issue? Has anything been done? Are we doing something? MR. BOUCHER: I'm afraid on Kuwait, I'll have to stop with the first part of your question. That's on Kuwait. The Secretary is over there now. Period. We've put out some indication last week about how we saw the situation. But as far as the specific discussions the Secretary will have, I'll leave it to him to address it. According to some of the wire stories, he already has. I'll get you that information as soon as we can. Q Do we regard this situation with the Palestinians to have bettered itself? MR. BOUCHER: I'll refer you to what we said last Thursday or so and what the Secretary might be saying today. Q Could you respond to the Senate's resolution urging the President to go to bat for an international tribunal for war crimes violations against the Iraqi leadership? The vote came after the Secretary made comments, in general, about war crimes. No one has responded since then. Do you have anything? MR. BOUCHER: I really don't have anything new to say. I think the Secretary gave a pretty complete exposition of our views on war crimes, and I have nothing new from that. Q That would suggest -- I don't want to get you into a fight with the Hill -- but that would suggest that you're at variance, to some degree, with the Senate on this. MR. BOUCHER: I'll leave it with what the Secretary said. You can do the analysis if you want. Q Richard, do you have any comment about the Iranian Foreign Minister's remarks in the Post today on the hostage situation? MR. BOUCHER: We saw the remarks. I really don't have anything new for you on hostages. Our view remains what it has always been, and they should be immediately and unconditionally released; and that there should be a full accounting of those who have died while in captivity. Q That includes the ones that Iran considers to be hostages in Israel? MR. BOUCHER: Our views on the hostage situation, in general, really haven't changed. Q You mentioned that there was a meeting on-going in Geneva today. Is there a chance the Iranian situation will be brought up in those meetings? And, also, do you have any up-to-date figures on how many Kurds might be dying along the Iranian border? MR. BOUCHER: I don't have that kind of information about the Iranian border. We're just not there. We're not in a position to give that kind of information. As far as the meetings in Geneva, I'm sure they'll discuss the overall relief efforts. But since it's the U.S. military people who are meeting with the various U.N. agencies that are operating on the Turkish side of the border, that, I'm sure, would be the focus of the meetings. Q Would Iran come up at all in those meetings? MR. BOUCHER: Who knows. I'm not there. But that's certainly not the focus of it. Q Richard, is it true -- what you seem to be saying is that the situation for the Kurds is not as critical on the Iranian border as it is on the Turkish border? MR. BOUCHER: No. I don't think I was saying that. There are many critical and difficult needs on both sides of the border. The Iranian Red Crescent, the ICRC, and other organizations are operating on the Iranian side of the border trying to take care of people. We, the Turks, and other organizations are working on the Turkish-Iraq border, trying to take care of people up there. There are many people in both places who have urgent needs. Q Richard, has there been any progress in setting up the commission to visit Iraqi facilities of chemical, biological weapons, nuclear facilities, and ballistic missiles? MR. BOUCHER: That's something for the Secretary General of the United Nations to address. I think the timetable for that is laid out in the U.N. resolution. Q Apart from your comment on Friday that the Iraqi account of their capabilities was -- what was the word you used? -- "falls short of reality," are you aware of any U.N. response to that letter? MR. BOUCHER: Not at this point, no. I'm sure that like we are, other members are considering the letter and comparing it and analyzing it against the available information. Q Richard, you said there's no reason to believe the U.N. will not take over the camps, which sounds like they haven't said they will take over the camps. Why is there a delay? MR. BOUCHER: The meetings that I'm describing and some of the refugee coordination is being done by the people on the ground in Turkey -- are all comparing the various efforts that are underway. As you know, the U.N. just signed last week its agreement with the Iraqis on how they would operate inside Iraq. I think there's a process, first of all, of getting the refugee needs met where we can and then during the course of that process we'll work on a handover. It's just the way the process is working now. Q Richard, you said that the Iraqi police didn't show any intentions of interfering with the humanitarian relief. But do you think their presence alone may have a chilling effect on the decisions of the Kurds to return to that part of Iraq? MR. BOUCHER: Jim, that's a possibility, but I think it would really just be speculation on my part. The important thing is that we are there; we are setting up. We're setting up camps that will have good facilities. We're going to be providing good security for the people who decide to go to those camps. We'll just have to see if people go there. Q You said that you expected to turn control over to the U.N. soon. Is that a matter of days or weeks, or what? MR. BOUCHER: I really can't give a timetable on it at this point. We've got to get the camps set up and operating. We've got to see how the U.N. can start its own activities there. This will be a process as we both get more involved in delivering relief in those areas. Q Is there a chance that the U.N. is going to be setting up its own camps and the U.S. will be having its own camps so that you have two different sets of camps, and that both sides have not agreed on exactly the situation there? MR. BOUCHER: We said last week that we saw the U.N. efforts and our efforts as complimentary. There are a great number of people who need to be taken care of. There were some things that the U.N. agreed to with the Iraqis that they'll be in the process of setting up. We're also setting up our own camps. Exactly where they'll all be located, I really can't tell you at this point. But I think we see whatever assistance is provided in different camps as being complimentary rather than redundant. Q Richard, can you provide an account of progress under Security Council Resolution 664 which laid out a procedure for people to seek reparations for damages incurred because of the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait? Has there been any? MR. BOUCHER: It's something I'd have to check on. It's also addressed in Resolution 687 which describes the establishment of a compensation fund. So that resolution that earlier established the liability was complemented, or followed by Resolution 687, which describes the process by which that fund will be established. I think we just have to look for the timetables in Resolution 687 to see how it will operate. Q Does the United States still favor the establishment of a Middle East Regional Development Bank as outlined by the Secretary of State in a hearing before the Congress? MR. BOUCHER: I don't know. I don't have anything new on that. I'd expect that somebody might ask the Secretary during the course of his visit to the Gulf. We'll just have to see if there's anything new from that.

[Afghanistan: Report of Scuds Striking Asadabad]

Q Richard, do you have a comment either on the West German election or the use of Scud missiles in Afghanistan? (Laughter) MR. BOUCHER: Well, I'm going to duck the West German elections since that was a local election that we don't normally comment on. Let's talk about Scuds in Afghanistan a little bit. Press reports indicate that the regime has fired up to 4 surface-to-surface missiles hitting Asadabad, the Resistance-held capital of Konar Province. From these reports, it appears that there were a large number of casualties. We are attempting to confirm these reports. As in the case of the Scud attacks against Khost earlier this month, the U.S. deplores the use of this terror weapon which causes great damage to life and property with little military significance. We have made our views known to Moscow on the use of these terror weapons and we will continue to do so. Q On a houskeeping matter, does the Secretary of State fall under the same White House policy law as Governor Sununu and General Scowcroft, that he has to travel on a military aircraft to remain in constant contact with the White House when he's travelling domestically? MR. BOUCHER: If you want to ask about White House rules, ask about White House rules. The Secretary -- Q. Is he considered to be part of that? MR. BOUCHER: The Secretary of State, generally, travels on U.S. Government aircraft just for that very reason, so that we can be in constant touch with him. Q Richard, on another area. There's a report from Phnom Penh that some American consultants hired by the U.S. Government -- I think AID -- have visited there and done an assessment of humanitarian needs. Can you confirm that or look into it please? MR. BOUCHER: I'll have to look into. I wasn't aware of that.

[Vietnam: Status of US Relations/POW-MIA Office]

Q On Vietnam. This decision over the weekend to set up a U.S. office to look into MIA/POW issues is being interpreted by some as a step toward normalization. Is it? MR. BOUCHER: I really wouldn't describe it as the beginning of a process of normalization. As you know, on April 9, we laid out to Vietnam's Permanent Representative at the U.N. what we called the "Roadmap," the 4-phrase approach that would spell out in detail how Vietnamese cooperation on a Cambodia settlement combined with substantial results on the POW/MIA and humanitarian issues would enable both countries to move forward in a process towards normalization. But the formal process of normalizing political and economic relations would begin as soon as the Paris Agreement on a Cambodian settlement is signed by Vietnam and the authorities in Phnom Penh as well as by the other Paris Conference participants. The announcement on the 20th by General Vessey is something that's been discussed for several years with Vietnam -- the idea of establishing an office in Vietnam that would facilitate cooperation on the POW/MIA issue, should our joint efforts justify such a presence. The decision was based on the discussions that General Vessey had with the Vietnamese Foreign Minister in Washington last October and after the two days of talks in Hanoi that he had last Friday and Saturday. Q Have you heard back from the other people in the party -- I think Ken Quinn was along, for instance -- on how the political talks went? MR. BOUCHER: We've been in touch with them. But this was a discussion that Ken Quinn was part of, but it was a discussion about POW/MIA issues. It was a discussion of how to enhance the mechanisms that we already have to resolve our concerns about those issues. The office that they agreed to establish has some very specific goals to facilitate joint field investigations and investigations of reports of live citings, to engage in information research and planning for joint investigations. It is designed to support POW and MIA issues only. It will not have any diplomatic or political responsibilities. Q But usually the State Department stays out of those kinds of discussions. As I recall, it's limited to General Vessey, somebody from the NSC, and a representative of the League of Families. This is a departure, having a State Department representative there. MR. BOUCHER: We've had people on these trips before. I'm not sure if Ken Quinn has gone before or not, or if we've gone on every one. But I know we have, at least occasionally, had people on them before. Q Richard, going back to Afghanistan, you said that the U.S. Government has made its concern known to the Soviets. You're not implying that the Soviets may have been in charge of the firing of these missiles? MR. BOUCHER: No, I'm not. But as suppliers to the regime in Kabul, we think they need to hear what our views are on the way some of the weapons are used. Q Do you have an update on the situation in Ethiopia where fighting is continuing and Mengistu made what was billed as a major speech last Friday? MR. BOUCHER: I'll have to get you one, Alan. I don't have anything with me. Q Thank you. Press briefing concluded at 1:08 p.m.)