US Department of State Daily Briefing #71: Monday: 4/30/91

Tutwiler Source: State Department Spokesman Margaret Tutwiler Description: 12:15 PM, Washington, DC Date: Apr 30, 19914/30/91 Category: Briefings Region: MidEast/North Africa, South Asia, Eurasia Country: Iraq, Kuwait, Israel, Turkey, Iran, Lebanon, USSR (former), Bangladesh, Georgia Subject: Terrorism, Democratization, State Department, Environment, Regional/Civil Unrest, Development/Relief Aid, Refugees (ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED)

[Announcement: Terrorism Report Released]

MS. TUTWILER: The first thing I'd like to do is just announce to you, if you don't already know, that the State Department's annual terrorism report will be given to you at the end of this briefing. I'll be honest and up front, I have not had an opportunity to read this approximately 100-page report, so I'm not prepared to answer any extensive type of questions you may have on this. Today the Department -- Q What's the lead? MS. TUTWILER: No. I just wanted to prepare you. I have not read this. One question I know you'll ask me, is Syria still in the report. The answer is yes. Today the Department of State submitted to Congress its annual report, "Patterns of Global Terrorism 1990." The report was prepared in compliance with Title 22 of the United States Code, Section 2656f, which requires a full and complete annual report on international terrorism each year. The report is an historical record of international terrorism and counter-terrorism activity for calendar year 1990. It does not cover events that have taken place this year. As I said, copies of the report -- I think we have about 100 -- are available immediately after this briefing. The report is also available electronically on the Computer Information Delivery Service, a new computerized bulletin board to which many new services have access. This is the book. It's in the Press Office for you.

[Iraq: Refugee Update]

Could I do an update on refugees. It's kind of long, as they have been every day -- so if you'd just bear with me. We divided it again, which we think makes more sense, into Turkey, Iran and southern Iraq and, in between there, what we're doing militarily.
Turkey and Iran
Turkey and northern Iraq: Relief officials now report there are 19 refugee sites in southern Turkey, housing 486,000 Iraqi refugees and between 200,000 and 400,000 are located near the border. On "Operation Provide Comfort": The combined task force "Provide Comfort" continues its massive supply and building efforts to aid Iraqi refugees in southern Turkey and northern Iraq. Medical and life sustaining services continue to be the highest priority issues. The combined task force is scaling back the number of fixed-wing air drops as more refugee supplies are delivered by ground transportation and helicopter. Up to this point, emphasis has been to deliver as much food, water and supplies to the refugees as operationally possible. With coalition forces' assessment teams now working in all the border camps, the logistics infrastructure is being enhanced and adjusted to meet specific refugee needs. Air drop deliveries continue to supply a mix of bulk food, including canned vegetables, fruit, meat, rice, flour and cooking oil. As of April 29, yesterday, a total of 1,272 missions have air dropped over 10,000 tons of supplies to the refugees in the mountains along the Turkish-Iraqi border. Overland truck convoys continue to deliver much needed supplies. Recently, a 65-truck convoy arrived in Silopi with such items as food and water supplies, generators and an air transportable 50-bed hospital and support personnel. Total coalition forces supporting the operation continue to grow, with over 13,000 military personnel from eight countries now participating. At Zakhu, coalition forces continue construction of the temporary refugee site and repair of sanitation and water delivery systems. These forces are now being helped by a 575-man refugee work party which recently arrived from Isikveren to assist with erecting tents. As of yesterday, 1,238 tents have been set up. French, Canadian and Kurdish civilian medical teams supporting operation "Provide Comfort" recently opened a 100-bed hospital in Zakhu and have already treated over 300 refugees, including some surgical patients. Kurdish elders and members of the Pesh Merga have been given the opportunity to review security measures at Zakhu and are satisfied it is safe to begin the movement of families from the mountains to the settlement at Zakhu. At our request, the Pesh Merga has agreed to dismantle the checkpoints that they had established to deter refugees from moving from the mountain camps to the Zakhu area. According to DoD reports, the checkpoints have been dismantled, and the refugees are moving toward the temporary refugee site. As of this morning, over 1,000 refugees have moved into the refugee site at Zakhu.
UN Team Arrives at Zakhu
The United Nations announced yesterday that in accordance with the agreement signed in Baghdad on April 18, 1991, by Prince Sadruddin Aga Khan, the U.N. would establish the first U.N. humanitarian center in Zakhu today. The U.N. office will be located adjacent to the refugee site. This is the first important step in the process as the U.N. prepares to take over the management of the refugee sites inside Iraq. Task force military personnel are currently assessing the security requirements of the second temporary refugee site near al-Amadiyah. Construction of this refugee site, which will accommodate 20,000-25,000 refugees, will begin within a couple of days.
Iran
On Iran: Iranian relief officials report that there are now 1.1 million Iraqi refugees in Iran, and that several hundred thousand are located near the border. On camp conditions: Though over a million Iraqi refugees have fled to Iran and the situation is seriously taxing the resources of the Government of Iran, the Iranian Red Crescent Society and the international and private voluntary relief organizations working there, we do not believe that the conditions in the camps in Iran are worse than those in Turkey. The Government of Iran has mobilized its resources, as we have pointed out a number of times, very effectively. Prior to the refugee influx, the Government of Iran had the logistical systems in place and the infrastructure to deliver assistance to the refugees. In addition, the International Committee of the Red Cross and the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees were already working in Iran, making preparations to assist this needy population. The United States and the international community are providing relief assistance for Iran through U.N. and international relief organizations. The Governments of Belgium, Canada, Germany, the U.K. and the E.C. are providing massive amounts of relief supplies. The E.C. has directed that 70 percent of its $180 million contribution for Iraqi refugee assistance be used for refugees in Iran.
US Relief Flights
On the United States' relief flights or possible future flights for Iran, as Richard reported yesterday, the United States' relief flight carrying over 31,000 pounds of blankets arrived in Iran on Saturday. We are in the process today of offering a second relief mission which would fly into Iran with medical supplies. Further details I'm not going to be able to get into at this briefing concerning arrangements and when and if and actually how this will all work out. I have a brief update for you on southern Iraq, and then I'm through. U.S. military forces continue to move, via military air transport, refugees from the Safwan area who voluntarily chose to leave Iraq and go to the temporary refugee camp in Saudi Arabia. In addition, refugees who were staying at the Saudi refugee camp in Iraq near Rafha who want to leave Iraq are being moved by bus to the new Saudi camp. As of this morning's briefing, we do not have information concerning the number of refugees who have been moved to the new camp in Saudi Arabia. We will provide that information as soon as we can. The Pentagon briefs today, and they may, by the time of their briefing, have a number for you. In addition, 2,118 refugees from southern Iraq have been moved by the International Organization for Migration from southern Iraq to Iran. Refugees who do not want to leave Iraq will be provided water and a final ration of foodstuffs sufficient for one week. All refugees are completely free to, obviously, make their own choices. Thanks for bearing with that, but there's a lot of information.

[Israel: Secretary Baker's Peace Initiative]

Q Margaret, is the Secretary back? Has he spoken to the President about -- apart from that call they had from Jerusalem? MS. TUTWILER: No. He is not back, and to my knowledge, Barry, I'm not aware that while he's been at Houston for his mother's funeral that he has spoken to the President or, to be honest with you, any other government officials concerning normal State Department business. Q Yes. I meant Jerusalem was the last known contact, right? MS. TUTWILER: That I'm aware of, but I'll be honest, I have not bothered the Secretary while he has been with his family at this particular time in Houston. And so if he has talked to the President, I personally am unaware of it. Q On that, does the State Department find itself in agreement with the assessment made yesterday by Mr. Fitzwater that the results of the trip were slim and somewhat disappointing? MS. TUTWILER: And also Mr. Fitzwater said that there was some progress that had been made. So I don't find any difference with Marlin's characterization yesterday and the characterizations that the Secretary himself used throughout our trip, and what we from the State Department have done. That was a new adjective, yes, that Marlin used, but it's just another adjective. Overall, he said that -- as I read what he said and discussed with him this morning -- that there is progress that had been made in some areas. The Administration has not spelled out where that progress is, and I'm not going to be able to today, but, as the Secretary characterized himself on many stops, there's a long way to go, and there is, obviously, more work to be done. Q Remember, there were some questions that he hadn't received answers to. MS. TUTWILER: Yes. Q Have these answers come through by chance in any way from Israel through -- you know, through Ambassadors? MS. TUTWILER: Not that I'm aware of, Barry. The Secretary isn't here. I took the day off yesterday, and, if something has come through, I have not heard a word about it this morning, and I've been here since before 7:00. Q Do we know when he's going to meet the President? MS. TUTWILER: No. Q Margaret, on Iraq, the IAEA has received a further letter from Iraq on their nuclear stocks. Is this more satisfactory to the United States than the previous one? Can you elucidate some of the information in there? MS. TUTWILER: I cannot elucidate some of the information that is in there. But it is true that Iraq has provided substantial further information to the IAEA in response to the agency's request following Iraq's first incomplete reply to Resolution 687. The IAEA will make a determination as to the completeness of this second Iraqi response and proceed accordingly. I just don't have any further information on it for you at this time other than to say, from what we know about it at this moment, that it was substantial as far as providing additional information. Q Have they conveyed the information to you? Because the first time -- I think you were not here, but the State Department was very up-front in saying that the information was unsatisfactory. MS. TUTWILER: I believe that the words that Richard used were "falls short." Q Falls short of reality? MS. TUTWILER: Correct. I just think, Alan, that this is not something we've had time yet to make a determination on; to characterize whether it, indeed, does still fall short. We are saying, from what we know of it so far, that it is substantial further information. Maybe tomorrow we'll be in a better position to answer it. Q Margaret, what is the United States position today on allowing Iraq to sell a billion dollars in oil? MS. TUTWILER: The President answered that yesterday. The United Nations -- I believe it was the Sanctions Committee -- was meeting this morning at 11:00. They're still meeting as of this briefing, and I don't have anything to add to what the President said yesterday. He answered it for us. Q Margaret, have we made a determination of the effects of continuing these sanctions on the well-being of the Iraqi people? MS. TUTWILER: I think that was encompassed in how the President addressed the question yesterday afternoon. I believe it was at a press conference he did with some agricultural reporters. He said that we obviously are helping -- I'm paraphrasing now; I'd refer you to the record -- in a massive way on food and basic necessities, medicine, etc., but that we were not going to, as I remember what he said, basically do normal business as long as Saddam Hussein is there with the Iraqi government. Q We're helping the Kurds and we're helping the defeated Shi'ites in the south, but how about the rest of the -- MS. TUTWILER: We're helping a lot of the Iraqis. Q How about the rest of the Iraqi people? I don't know the extent that we are helping those people overcome difficulty. MS. TUTWILER: You mean, are we delivering aid into Baghdad, etc.? Q Yes. MS. TUTWILER: Well, I believe that we are a full member of the U.N, and I believe that the U.N. has been in there, the International Committee of the Red Cross has been in there and through our contributions, whatever they are doing in there on water purification, on food, etc., is an indirect way that the United States, through these organizations, is, indeed, helping those people who are there. Q So that not being able to get back into the oil market is not having an effect, you don't think, on the well-being of the Iraqi people? MS. TUTWILER: Generally, generically speaking, at this moment in time, I couldn't say that it was. Q Margaret, as of yesterday the State Department said it had no evidence -- this goes back to a British newspaper story that the Washington Times led its paper with yesterday -- there was no evidence as of yesterday that Jordan is buying oil from Iraq in defiance of the embargo. Is that still the case, do you know? MS. TUTWILER: To be honest, Barry, that's not something that came up this morning. I'll look into it. I don't know. Q (Inaudible) yesterday, the whole story was pretty much -- MS. TUTWILER: I'm sorry, I wasn't here, and this morning it just didn't come up. Q Margaret, there's a report from a Libyan would-be defector who says that in addition to the chemical plant at Rabta, the Libyans also have a previously unknown nuclear research facility. Do you have anything on this? MS. TUTWILER: I haven't heard about it. I'll be happy to take your question.

[Lebanon: US Support]

Q Margaret, on Lebanon, do you have any comment on reports about a Syrian-Iranian understanding concerning the Hezbollah militia? MS. TUTWILER: We can't confirm those reports. We've seen the reports. I could restate, and will restate for you, what our policy is. It hasn't changed. We have consistently said that we support the extension of Lebanese government authority over all of Lebanon, the withdrawal of all non-Lebanese forces and the dismantlement of all armed militias. We support the Lebanese government's announced plan to disband all militias as called for in the framework of the Taif Agreement. We just can't confirm the one report that I saw this morning that's contained in your question. Also, I saw another wire story right before I came to the briefing saying that one of the largest militias there has, indeed, said they were going to disband. So that brings that up, I believe, to two. Q Will you be seeking any clarifications from either the Lebanese government or the Syrian government? MS. TUTWILER: Somebody may be checking out this report. This morning, we knew nothing of it and have no independent knowledge of it other than one report. Q On Iraq. According to reports from Ankara, the Turkish President, Turgut Ozal, last February proposed to a Kurdish delegation a confederated state in northern Iraq among Turkmans, Kurds, and Arabs, with American support. I'm wondering if Mr. Ozal's proposal includes also the 12 to 15 million Kurds of Turkey along with the Kurdish territory of Turkey? MS. TUTWILER: Sir, I'm not familiar with President Ozal's February proposal, and I think it would be more appropriate to refer you to the Turkish Embassy here and maybe they could be of help to you. Q I'm referring it to you because it's with American support, according to the Turkish reports. The other question is, again, that Mr. Ozal the other day proposed to the visiting Secretary of State, Mr. Baker, in Ankara that Turkey could launch a military operation against northern Iraq with the aim of establishing a safe haven zone. I'm wondering, what was Mr. Baker's response? MS. TUTWILER: I'm not aware of any such proposal that President Ozal made to the Secretary of State. I'd be happy to double-check myself, but I've never heard of such a proposal.

[USSR: Security at US Embassy]

Q Margaret, could I ask one question about the Soviet Union? In light of a report that the KBG may have infiltrated some people as firefighters during the Moscow Embassy fire, is the United States still satisfied that there was no security breach during that time? MS. TUTWILER: What I can say for you on this is at this point the Department, as you may or may not know, currently has a security assessment team in Moscow evaluating the damage caused by the fire and related access by Soviet firefighters. It would be premature of me to comment on possible breaches of security until their evaluation has been completed. Q Any idea of when the State Department's Global Terrorism Report will be out? MS. TUTWILER: Yes. You came a little late. It's in the Press Room for you at the end of the briefing. Q Margaret, is there any screening of the firefighters as they go in? MS. TUTWILER: Is there any what? Q This will be a post mortem, but are there any procedures for access? Do you fingerprint firemen as they go in with their hoses? We can't get into the building without putting this through. (Indicating State Department building pass) MS. TUTWILER: Barry, I'm not sure what the security arrangements are at post for when there's a fire. I don't know if they stop people. Honestly, it's never come up. I don't know what they do. Q I never would have thought it would come up -- MS. TUTWILER: I wouldn't think it would either. Q -- but there it is in the paper today. MS. TUTWILER: I know. I saw the same thing.

[USSR: Help for Earthquake Victims]

Q Margaret, also on the Soviet Union. Have the Soviets asked for any help after the Georgian earthquake? MS. TUTWILER: Our Embassy has been in contact with Soviet and Georgian officials and have told them, or expressed to them, that we would like to be helpful in any way that we appropriately could be. The Georgians have expressed an interest in receiving United States assistance. We are in the process right now of continuing to gather information on the extent of the damage and assessing the needs. We understand from the Georgian government this morning that the death toll is about 100 and that there have been approximately 250 people injured, but there are many homeless in the affected area. Q If I could follow that. Do I understand you correctly that the U.S. Government is dealing on this question with the provincial government, or the Republic of Georgia government rather than the Central Soviet government? MS. TUTWILER: No. I said that our Embassy had been in contact with Soviet and Georgian officials. Q Right. But you are in direct touch -- this government is in direct touch with -- MS. TUTWILER: Sure. Secretary Baker had dinner with the President of Georgia four weeks ago. Q Right. I know. That's what I'm saying. On an operational matter like this, you are now in touch with the Georgian government? MS. TUTWILER: Yes. I don't know what's so unusual about that. I believe in the Armenian earthquake, we were in touch with the people on the ground there who have the best knowledge of what their needs are and what is going on. We are also talking, as I said, with the appropriate Soviet officials in Moscow. But it's only natural that you would speak to officials on the ground of what the situation is.

[Bangladesh: US Offers Assistance]

Q Anything on help for Bangladesh? MS. TUTWILER: Help for Bangladesh? We have offered it. Our Ambassador is, in fact I believe, flying out today -- I think it's today -- to make an assessment of the needs and to see what we can do. Again, we're in the same position of offering our assistance. They are getting back to us on what assistance they may need. We only have preliminary reports right now. The information is kind of scarce on how devastating this cyclone has been. Q Has the United States been talking to Ethiopian President Mengistu about the possibility of him receiving a safe haven somewhere in Europe? MS. TUTWILER: No. Q How about somewhere else? MS. TUTWILER: No, not at all. Excuse me. I knew there was one other part on this, George. This is Bangladesh. Our Ambassador has announced he is using his discretionary fund for assistance to the victims of this disaster. It's tomorrow when he will be travelling to the most affected areas. Q Margaret, a follow-up on Bangladesh. The Bangladeshi Finance Minister was here to see Mr. McCormack yesterday. Earlier, the Administration gave debt relief to Bangladesh. Is there some sort of new aid being considered for Bangladesh? MS. TUTWILER: Not that I personally am aware of, but I don't want to rule anything in or out. As I said, it's my understanding it very recently happened. Our Ambassador is there on the ground assessing it. We have made our, or his -- each Ambassador, as you know, has discretionary funds available. At this point, that's all I have on the situation there. Q Thank you. MS. TUTWILER: Thank you all. (Press briefing concluded at 12:37 p.m.)