US Department of State Daily Briefing #69: Friday, 4/26/91

Boucher Source: State Department Deputy Spokesman Richard Boucher Description: 1:06 PM, Washington, DC Date: Apr 26, 19914/26/91 Region: MidEast/North Africa, East Asia, Southeast Asia Country: Iraq, Kuwait, Turkey, Iran, China, Cambodia Subject: Regional/Civil Unrest, Development/Relief Aid, Refugees, Arms Control, State Department, Trade/Economics, International Organizations (ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED) MR. BOUCHER: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. I'm very sorry I'm late. I hope I can make it up to you by answering all your questions. I'd like to do three things off the top. One is about Secretary Baker, the second is about Mr. Kimmitt's travel plans, and the third is the update on refugees.

[Announcement: Secretary Returns for Funeral]

All of us were saddened to hear that Secretary Baker's mother has passed away. At this point the Secretary is returning to Washington late this evening. He'll go to Houston tomorrow morning. The funeral for his mother will probably take place on Monday. At this point we don't have the date of his return to Washington, and I'm sure you all join me in expressing our sympathy for Mr. Baker and his family at this loss.

[Under Secretary Kimmitt to Visit China and G-7]

The next item concerns Mr. Kimmitt's travels. Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Robert M. Kimmitt will participate in a G-7 political directors meeting that the U.K. is hosting in Hong Kong next week. Prior to that meeting he will also meet with Hong Kong government officials. Following his meetings in Hong Kong, Under Secretary Kimmitt will go to Beijing where he will hold discussions with Chinese government officials on the full range of bilateral and global issues of concern to our country. In addition to briefing the Chinese government on the Secretary's discussions in the Middle East and continuing our close dialogue on the prospects for a Cambodian settlement, Mr. Kimmitt will raise our concerns of human rights, nonproliferation and trade. Before returning home, Mr. Kimmitt will visit Tokyo for discussions with Japanese government officials and political figures. Q Can we ask questions on that? MR. BOUCHER: You want me to take questions on that? Yes. Q What are your concerns on human rights, missile proliferation and trade? MR. BOUCHER: They're the concerns that I think we've often expressed from the podium here. The concerns on human rights are the ones that have been raised in the past with the Chinese by the Secretary and others and by Assistant Secretary Schifter when he was in Beijing last December, and in the dialogue that our Embassy has been having with the Chinese on the subject of human rights. On proliferation, I think we've spoken many times here before about the need for global controls on the proliferation of various items -- missiles, chemical weapons and other items -- and this is certainly a high priority for U.S. foreign policy and something that we want to discuss with the Chinese. Q Well, what have they been proliferating? MR. BOUCHER: Again, George, I think we've talked about specific reports at times here to some extent, but I don't have a rundown of Chinese sins, if you're asking for that. The question will be that we believe that all countries have a very common interest in not engaging in the proliferation of these weapons that are dangerous, particularly in areas like the Middle East, and we'll be talking to the Chinese about those concerns. Q It seems to me you exonerated them last week concerning Algeria. I mean, are they doing anything wrong? MR. BOUCHER: I don't have any such list for you now, George. Q And on trade? MR. BOUCHER: I really don't have any specifics on trade at this point. We've had delegations in China before talking about intellectual property rights. That remains a priority for the United States. And, of course, the issue of open trade is of concern to the United States. Q Do you have any reaction to the Foreign Ministry spokesman who yesterday said the United States should butt out of the human rights observations it makes toward China? MR. BOUCHER: I believe those comments were in the context of the process of MFN renewal that we go through in the United States based on our law. I think I expressed our viewpoint on that just the other day, so I'll stick with that. Q There's some very new allegations on Chinese human rights -- that they are using labor camps to produce products, particularly for the American market, and that these are being imported into the United States. Do you have any comment on that? MR. BOUCHER: I addressed that the same day that I addressed our attitude towards MFN renewal. We'll get that for you from the transcript. Q Richard, what officials will Mr. Kimmitt be meeting with? Do you have -- MR. BOUCHER: At this point I don't have a list. Q Do you know when he will be arriving in Beijing? MR. BOUCHER: Let me see if I can get the dates for you. Q Will Kimmitt be discussing this report on the use of slave labor? MR. BOUCHER: I don't know. Q Does this mean that Reginald Bartholomew's planned trip is off? MR. BOUCHER: No. Bartholomew's trip is still pending. The Secretary and Foreign Minister Qian, in their meetings last fall, discussed the value of the series of exchanges on subjects of special concern and visits to China by Under Secretary Kimmitt and Under Secretary Bartholomew that we thought would be useful in that regard. But the Bartholomew trip hasn't been scheduled at this point.

[Iraq: Refugee Update]

Moving on? O.K. The rundown on the refugees and the efforts we're making on their behalf.
The number of refugees in Turkey and the border area appear to have stabilized. There are now 453,000 refugees in Turkey, and the number near the border remains at 400,000. The situation at 15 refugee camps in Turkey and near the border has improved. This is due primarily to implementation of relief programs, especially the establishment of delivery systems and improved medical facilities, as well as improved weather conditions. As one example -- and this is not comprehensive for the whole area -- but relief officials from the Office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees who are working at Isikveren in the Isikveren area of Turkey report that they believe the death rate in that location has declined from about 50 per day at the beginning to about 35 per day a week ago, and to 16 to 19 a day at present. Of course, all these efforts that we're making are devoted to bringing that number down to as small as possible. I don't have any new information concerning death rates at other locations -- at any of the other camps, so I can't give you a broad generalization at this point. The main problem remains the availability of safe and adequate water supplies. I think we put up an answer yesterday that told you that cholera is not seen as an immediate threat in that area. However, Center for Disease Control representatives working in the area report that the possibility exists of a measles epidemic, and that's of particular concern. UNICEF and the International Committee of the Red Cross will shortly begin a measles immunization program to counter this threat. Illnesses related to contaminated water supplies continue to be the main problem. Malaria is also endemic in the area. It's not thought to be a problem for the Iraqis. However, refugee workers will need to take proper precautions. U.S. and multinational military forces are currently using 29 drop zones or landing zones for the delivery of relief supplies to encampments on or near the border. Yesterday military air drops delivered 817.9 tons of relief supplies to refugees on both sides of the Turkish border. Since April 7, 7,388.1 tons of relief assistance has been delivered to refugee sites. The Defense Department reports that multinational forces continue to work in the area of northern Iraq around Zakhu, setting up the first of the temporary refugee centers. It's expected that refugees will start moving to the village in the next few days. Yesterday I think I reported on the identification of a second site where they'll be working. Based on our request, the Iraqis have informed us that the 300 police are being withdrawn from Zakhu. There are reports that this withdrawal has already begun. The Iraqis asked, and we agreed, that 50 indigenous police be allowed to remain in Zakhu to maintain order. The police force will be selected from local and neighboring regular police. The Defense Department reports that the combined "Operation Provide Comfort" task force will monitor the withdrawal to ensure that Iraqi forces are complying with that request.
In Iran: The refugee and displaced person population in Iran and near the border also appears to have stabilized now. The numbers are as before -- about one million Iraqi refugees who have entered Iran and about 500,000 near the border. The Iranian Red Crescent Society is providing assistance for about 500,000 refugees in 50 camps. That's up from 29 camps and 250,000 refugees about a week ago. International organizations working in Iran are assisting with the relief effort. The International Committee of the Red Cross is now constructing camps in Iran. Their objective is to provide shelter, relief supplies and medical assistance for up to 200,000 refugees. The International Committee of the Red Cross is also providing assistance at many of the affected border villages whose populations have more than doubled. The Red Cross is working to improve sanitation infrastructures in these areas in particular. It's our understanding that the Iranian Red Crescent Society and international organizations are providing some assistance to those in the border area, as opposed to those who have already cross into Iran. We don't have any information concerning the news reports that there are cases of hepatitis among the refugee population in Bakhtaran Province. However, as we have said previously, water-borne illnesses are one of the major problems affecting this population. International relief agencies have made the provision of safe water supplies a priority for their relief assistance programs.
USAF Flights
On flights, a U.S. Air Force C-141 departed from Andrews Air Force Base at 11:39 a.m. today, carrying 145,000 pounds of blankets donated by U.S. humanitarian organizations.* The flight is scheduled to arrive at Meherabad Airport in Tehran on Saturday. This represents the first direct U.S. relief flight into Iran to support that country's efforts in aiding refugees from Iraq. As I said, this is the first flight. There is the possibility of more. I don't have any details for you at this point. The items will be delivered at Tehran airport to the International Committee of the Red Cross and to the Iranian relief authorities with whom they are working. We also expect that representatives of our protecting power, the Swiss government, will be at the airport as well. In southern Iraq: U.S. military forces continue to provide assistance and security for refugees and displaced persons in the demilitarized zone. Cholera is evident in southern Iraq. We don't have any information concerning the prevalence of other diseases among people living in this area. The Saudi government has announced that it will permit up to 25,000 displaced persons from the demilitarized zone to enter Saudi Arabia. This is being done to provide protection for this group of people. U.S. military personnel have been working in Saudi Arabia to construct a refugee camp to house refugees and displaced persons currently in the demilitarized zone. We understand that people may begin moving to the new facility as early as this weekend. Overall, the United States has contributed in cash and in kind $123.3 million to the relief effort for Iraqi refugees and displaced persons. In addition, over 30 nations have pledged in cash and in kind $652.5 million. *Defense Department subsequently corrected total weight of this shipment to 31,125 lbs. And that's the overview. I'd be glad to take questions. George. Q On Iran, I heard about an hour ago that the frozen assets talks normally held in The Hague were the subject of a discussion involving the U.S. and Iran in Tehran last week. Do you know anything about that? MR. BOUCHER: No. Q Could you take the question? MR. BOUCHER: I'll take the question and see where we stand. Q Also on Iran, did I understand you to say that the plane from Andrews was just carrying things from private U.S. humanitarian organizations, as opposed to the U.S. Government? MR. BOUCHER: That's my understanding, that at least this shipment of blankets was based on donated supplies from U.S. humanitarian organizations. I'll check and see if we have a more complete breakdown of what's on the plane and where it came from. Q Are there plans for assistance from the U.S. Government, or would you consider the flight itself to be a contribution? MR. BOUCHER: The flight itself, of course, is a contribution. As for the further flights and what exactly will be on them and where it will come from, some of those details are not pinned down at this point, so I don't have them for you. Q What's the estimated time of arrival? MR. BOUCHER: I don't have that. Tomorrow. Q There's a report -- can you talk about the dissolvement of the Popular Army militia that we've been hearing about? MR. BOUCHER: We just saw the reports this morning. We really don't have any information on that. We'll just have to see. Q Richard, do you have anything of Iranians coming to this country for the G-7 meeting this weekend? Do Iranians normally travel back and forth between this country? I mean, like the head of their bank? MR. BOUCHER: The G-7 is the G-7. It's not Iran. Q No. I understand that. But there's a report that they have come to town? MR. BOUCHER: The G-7 meetings that Kimmitt is going to are going to be in Hong Kong next week. You're talking about the IMF and the World Bank; maybe the International Financial Institutions? Q It's IMF. MR. BOUCHER: If these are having meetings next week? I'll have to check on that. I don't know. We do have certain responsibilities as hosts with international organizations like that, the same way we do for the United Nations. Q Richard, you've had some fairly optimistic information. The death rate is down. The Iraqis have agreed to back away from the relief camp. You had earlier the progress, maybe, on Kurdish autonomy. Do you have anything broader to say about the situation up there? Are things looking a little bit better to the U.S. in terms of the Kurdish situation? MR. BOUCHER: It's hard for me to give a generalization. I think the President talked about it, to some extent, this morning. The situation is that we said it would require a massive relief effort. We see such a relief effort going on. We are getting supplies to people who need them. There are certainly many more things that need to be done and are being done in terms of better organizing the effort, making sure we get to everybody that needs it. But at least we've made some progress in that regard, and we see things, at present, as improving. I'm not aware that the Iraqis have interfered in any way with these efforts. We certainly think that the humanitarian nature of the cause would require that they should not do so. Q I assume it is still considered a crisis. Are we approaching a point where it may, in fact, be manageable and no longer be of crisis proportions? MR. BOUCHER: I think it's a crisis as long as you have hundreds of thousands and millions of people who are displaced from their homes, and we'll be continuing our efforts to make sure that they get all the relief that they need as long as they need it. Q Richard, on the flight to Tehran, will there be any American officials aboard that cargo plane? MR. BOUCHER: Well, it's an Air Force airplane and the pilots and others are U.S. Government people. You mean some sort of high-level delegate or official like that? I don't think there is any. I think it's just the people who handle the airplane and handle the cargo. Q Kimmitt is not on the flight, is he? MR. BOUCHER: No, he is not on that flight.

[China: US Policy on Contacs]

Q Kimmitt is the most senior person to go to Beijing since who and when? Q Eagleburger-Scowcroft December '89. MR. BOUCHER: There you go. I guess. I can't think of anything different than that. Of course, you know the Secretary's met on several occasions with the Chinese Foreign Minister -- last fall in Cairo, New York, and Washington. He met on several occasions. Q So I guess the ban on high-level contacts is now over since he's actually taking a trip to Beijing? MR. BOUCHER: No, Chris. No, you got that one wrong. Sorry. Let me tell you one more thing. It has been consistent U.S. policy to authorize occasional high-level contacts with the Chinese when it's clearly in our interests to do so. For example, Assistant Secretary Schifter visited Beijing last December for an intensive discussion of human rights issues, and Assistant Secretary Solomon went there last month to discuss important regional issues such as Cambodia and the Gulf. Q This is one of these bans that's more honored in the breach than in the observing since -- MR. BOUCHER: Alan, I hate to have to say this to you, but I think this is the same thing that we said right from the beginning about what the policy was. There were certain high-level ceremonial exchanges that did not take place, that were cancelled. But we have said all along that when we had issues of concern that we wanted to pursue, needed to pursue with the Chinese, that we would have appropriate diplomatic contacts to do that, and that's what we have been doing with occasional high-level contacts. Q Switching back to the refugees -- Q Can I ask one more on China? Do you have a list there of the sanctions that are still in effect? MR. BOUCHER: No, I don't. Nothing much has changed recently. Q Military sales, high-level exchanges of a ceremonial nature; there are others beyond that? MR. BOUCHER: Yes. I don't have the full list in my head, George. We've said it before and it hasn't changed. I didn't bring it today. I'm sorry. Q Would this be the first trip of a high level official to Beijing since Solomon's visit last month? MR. BOUCHER: Yes, since last month. Q Anybody else who has gone since -- MR. BOUCHER: I'm not aware of anyone else. Q Solomon, at his departing news conference, mentioned the "concerns" that still remain between Beijing and Washington on nuclear proliferation and sales to third countries. What has changed between then and now that would heighten your concern or be cause for Kimmitt to be going in place of Bartholomew? MR. BOUCHER: I didn't say that anything had changed that had heightened our concerns. These are subjects of continuing interest to our government. They are subjects that we think are of continuing interest to the Chinese government, and we want to pursue these issues with the Chinese. I'm not saying that our concerns are any different than the ones that we've always had on the issue of proliferation. Q Is Kimmitt, because of his position at the State Department -- his presence there, might be more convincing to the Chinese? MR. BOUCHER: I think I went through the purposes of Mr. Kimmitt's visit. It has a number of purposes, a broad range of issues that will be discussed. We have a number of common interests with the Chinese we're pursuing right now such as Cambodia. We also have a number of issues that we want to raise with them. Q Do you have anything new on the possibility of sales of nuclear weaponry to Pakistan by China? MR. BOUCHER: No. I don't think I have had anything old on the subject either, Mark.

[Department: Ambassador Glaspie as Diplomat-in-Residence]

Q Do you have anything on Ambassador Glaspie leaving the Department? MR. BOUCHER: She's not leaving. I talked to her this morning. She's not leaving the Foreign Service. She does intend to spend a year as a diplomat-in-residence at a U.S. university. This is a very common follow-on assignment for many returning Ambassadors. For example, our Ambassador to Kuwait, Nat Howell, is going to become a diplomat-in-residence at the University of Virginia. Q You said at an American university or American University? MR. BOUCHER: At a U.S. university. The final arrangements with the university have not yet been settled, so I'm not in a position to give you the name or the location. Q Can you give us a flavor of the contacts you had with the U.N. on the subject of them taking over the camps? Perez de Cuellar has said this morning, he thinks this could be done within days. MR. BOUCHER: I saw the quotes from the Secretary General on the wire. They are consistent with our discussions in which the Secretary General and others have assured us that the U.N. is prepared to take over the camps as quickly as possible. Coalition and U.N. officials continue to consult closely on this issue. There are some additional meetings scheduled in Geneva early next week and our mission will be talking to various U.N. organizations. The Executive Delegate Sadruddin's representative in Baghdad has sent a team to northern Iraq preparatory to bringing in a U.N. convoy early next week. UNICEF representatives in the convoy will also bring along medical supplies such as rehydration salts and measles vaccine to Kurdish children. Q On a somewhat related subject. U.N. Security Council Resolution 687 -- our favorite resolution -- sets out a procedure for the destruction of chemical weapons that Iraq has and Iraq last week disclosed, a list of quite considerable amounts of chemical weapons, amounting to thousands of tons, I believe. Has any thought been given to how or where these will be destroyed? MR. BOUCHER: Some thought has been given to that subject. As you know, it's a technically complicated issue. It will be up to the -- I think the resolution says that it's up to the Commission to determine how to do that in the best manner possible. The Commission is in the process of being formed. I think the United Nations has announced the head and the deputy for that Commission, and they have the deadlines in the U.N. resolution to carry out their activities. Q Is it envisaged that this material will be destroyed on Iraqi territory, or will it be moved into the territory of another nation? MR. BOUCHER: I can't answer that question for you at this point. Q Do you have anything on CFE? MR. BOUCHER: I have what the Secretary said yesterday and what the President said this morning. Q I heard there might have been some misrepresentation about whatever was said? MR. BOUCHER: I'll tell you exactly what it was the Secretary said on the subject of CFE. He said that some of the important issues that were still unresolved have been resolved. They have not all been resolved, and we look forward to receiving the response of the Soviet Union to President Bush. The President said this morning -- I think he described the arms control progress as "modest progress." Q Could you give me more information about Mr. Kimmitt's speech in Tokyo? And what kind of talks will he have with Japanese officials? MR. BOUCHER: He'll be discussing with Japanese officials a whole broad range of issues, I'm sure, including the current relief efforts in Iraq, U.N. activities, the common interest we have in regional issues. I'm sure it will be quite a broad range of topics. Q Including the Vietnam issue? MR. BOUCHER: I'm sorry? Q The Vietnam issue, or recent Japanese efforts to set up a better relationship with the Soviet Union? MR. BOUCHER: I'm sure those are likely issues. I really don't have a complete agenda for you. Q Richard, there was a report earlier this week that the Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping had threatened to flood neighboring countries with hundreds and millions of Chinese refugees if the West continues to press Beijing on its human rights abuses. If that report is true, the situation could be very serious. Through the State Department's telecommunications with your Embassy in Beijing, have you seen any report about such a threat? MR. BOUCHER: I have not personally seen anything like that. I'll see if there is somebody that has something, but I have not seen anything like that. Q Richard, there are reports of heavily armed Kurdish insurgents returning to the Zakhu area. Can you confirm these reports and tell us what the U.S. policy is on their presence there? MR. BOUCHER: No, I hadn't seen those reports, so I obviously can't confirm them. I think we've explained many times that our presence is for humanitarian assistance to refugees and people who need it. The President expressed again this morning the fact that we were not going to get involved in the fighting inside Iraq. The internal fighting has been going on for many, many years. Those are the basic guidelines of our actions. How exactly the Defense Department will handle security in terms of people who may have arms who are coming to that area, I think I better leave it to them. Q I'd like to clarify one point. You mentioned 50 indigenous policemen can stay around there. Does that mean they're Kurds or they're from Zakhu? MR. BOUCHER: That means they're from Zakhu and neighboring areas, I think was the way I put it.

[Cambodia: Ceasefire Agreement Reached]

Q Do you have any comment on the ceasefire agreement by the Cambodian parties there? MR. BOUCHER: The process -- the proposal, shall I say, was one put out by the U.N. Secretary General and the co-chairmen of the Paris-Cambodia Conference, France and Indonesia. Earlier this week, both the non-Communist forces of Prince Sihanouk and the Phnom Penh regime accepted the truce. Vietnam has also endorsed the truce and this morning there are, of course, reports that the Khmer Rough has accepted it as well. It is a truce that would begin on May 1, and would continue through the next meeting of the Cambodian Supreme National Council which is scheduled in Jakarta tentatively in mid-May. Let me remind you, last August the United States and other members of the Perm Five called on the Cambodian parties to exercise maximum self-restraint to create the peaceful climate required to facilitate the achievement and the implementation of a comprehensive political settlement. That remains our position. We favor such self-restraint, including a ceasefire as well as other voluntary steps to improve the climate in which negotiations are being held. As a practical matter, a ceasefire and other temporary steps will be most meaningful to the extent that they lead to a comprehensive settlement agreement, and we hope that the upcoming Supreme National Council meeting will make progress towards achieving that settlement. Q Thank you. (Press briefing concluded at 1:36 p.m.)