US Department of State Daily Press Briefing #74: Friday, 5/3/91

Tutwiler Source: State Department Spokesman Margaret Tutwiler Description: 12:01 PM, Washington, DC Date: May 3, 19915/3/91 Category: Briefings Region: MidEast/North Africa, South Asia, East Asia, E/C Europe Country: Iraq, Kuwait, Turkey, Czechoslovakia (former), Yugoslavia (former), Israel, Iran, Bangladesh, Philippines Subject: Development/Relief Aid, Refugees, Military Affairs, Regional/Civil Unrest, Security Assistance and Sales, Democratization (ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED) MS. TUTWILER: I have nothing.

[Iraq: US Role and Coalition Update/b>

Q I wonder if the Administration has any definition about the U.S. role in the northern part of Iraq, like how long American troops are going to be there; how many more square miles of northern Iraq the U.S. and coalition forces are going to occupy before they consider their job done; what happens if Iraqi troops decide to shoot at us, etc.? Do you have some feeling for how long American forces are going to be there? MS. TUTWILER: Do I? Q Yeah. MS. TUTWILER: No. I don't believe that the President has addressed himself to this specifically in a timeframe, and so it would be, I think, highly inappropriate for me to put a timeframe on something that he has not. As far as what our military -- your third question was, "What would happen if shooting erupted?" I don't know what types of rules of engagement they're operating under there, but I can try to get it for you from the Pentagon. I can't remember what your second question was? Q It's just the presence of American forces there is sort of open-ended. I'm just sort of curious -- MS. TUTWILER: The situation there is open-ended. Q Well, indeed. MS. TUTWILER: In fact, I have new refugee numbers today that show a decrease in the number of refugees up on the Turkish-Iraqi border, but still we've got over 400,000-plus that we're dealing with. It's not only the United States forces that are there. It's the French, it's the British. I believe the Dutch and the Belgians have sent medical teams and hospitals. I think there are any number of nations that are there trying to help this extraordinary situation. Q Originally, wasn't the U.S. intention to go in and secure refugee camps, specifically, and not to occupy and to pacify large areas of northern Iraq? I thought the intention was to go in, set up specific camps, and to make them a safe haven for the refugees. Now, apparently the goal of the U.S. is to pacify the northernmost chunk of Iraq. Have the goals changed? MS. TUTWILER: As I remember, the President and other governments stated the role was to ensure that you could assure the safety of thousands and thousands of individuals going back to their homes, which is all our goals. You know there has been an enormous problem here of telling them that it would, indeed, be safe to return to their homes. That is how I remember it. I don't remember anyone in our government, or other governments, using the phrase that you've used -- "occupy." I believe that the goal has been, on a humanitarian basis, to deal with an extraordinary situation that the world was faced with. Q Do we believe they can be safe as long as Saddam Hussein is running Iraq? MS. TUTWILER: That's not for us to determine. That's for them to determine. As you know, many of them have given interviews to members of the media saying that they don't believe they ever will be safe as long as he is there. Others are returning. I don't have a number for you, but the numbers are definitely decreasing. People are returning to their homes, so they've obviously made a different decision. Q If it's up in the air, if it's ambiguous like that, with a bunch of people in the camps claiming that they've got to stay there because they're afraid of Saddam Hussein and others going home, on what will we base our decision on whether to leave and whether we have now made them safe? MS. TUTWILER: I don't think that our government or other governments are at a point right now -- when I give you the numbers that we're dealing with -- of making that type of decision. We are still dealing with an urgent situation there. We are still dealing with a humanitarian pressing situation. People are still dying. Things have definitely improved. The international community has done a lot in a very short amount of time. But I don't think, Saul, that anyone has the answer to that yet. Once any number of people, who are returning to their homes get home -- this is speculative on my part -- that word gets back to others are maybe afraid to come back home, maybe then they'd change their minds. Q One final thing. Peter Galbraith, who is the Senate Foreign Relations Committee staff expert on the Kurds, said in his report that the way it's shaping up, the choice is: "Either we get caught in the quagmire there or we decide to abandon the Kurds to an uncertain future with Saddam Hussein." That seems like a Hobson's choice. Do you see the choice that way? MS. TUTWILER: I haven't read his report. I have seen parts of it, but I have not personally read it. There are any number of factors that I'm sure go into making Presidential determinations. At the appropriate time, the President will decide to make those types of decisions.

[Iraq: Turkish Border Closed for Several Hours]

Q Margaret, there were reports in the Turkish press that the United States is providing arms to the Kurds. These reports suggest that's why the border was closed for a little bit. Do you have anything on that? MS. TUTWILER: My understanding, Barry, is the border was closed for, I think it was, approximately 2-1/2 hours for some type of new administrative procedures and paperwork that was being put it. That was my understanding of why it was closed. I know nothing about the United States supplying arms. As you say, a report claims that the United States is doing that in some newspaper that you're reading there. Q Do you know whether these reports caused the border to close? Did the Turks respond to these reports? You say it's administrative? It was entirely -- "administrative" covers a lot of things. MS. TUTWILER: My understanding is that yesterday, for a short time -- about 2-1/2 hours, as I just stated -- the Turkish border was closed to relief transport. The border was closed due to a change in customs clearance documentation procedures. The border was reopened after the new procedures were instituted. Q Are you saying there was nothing political about closing the borders? MS. TUTWILER: Not that I know of. Q There was an ABC report that suggested that the border was closed because the Turks were angry at the British -- at the reports in British newspapers -- that the Turks were stealing stuff meant for the refugees. Do you have anything on that? MS. TUTWILER: I have nothing on that. I've also seen that report. My information is from our experts who have been doing an extremely, in my opinion, thorough job for me and for you everyday on the entire refugee situation. This is what they reported to me this morning of the length of the closing of the border and the reasons for it. Q Is that the problem? MS. TUTWILER: Is what? Q Is there a problem of theft? MS. TUTWILER: Is there a problem of what? Q Didn't you say there was theft? MS. TUTWILER: I said I have seen that report. I don't have anything to verify or deny that report. Q Margaret, the Pentagon said yesterday, they're not sure whether they're going to need additional refugee camps because of the fact that the Kurds are -- many of them are going back to their homes. Do you know what the status of that is today? MS. TUTWILER: I don't have anything different from what the Pentagon said yesterday. Not this morning, no. Q What about the safety of the Kurds? Some of the Kurds are going back to their homes in this secure zone, extended secure zone, and their safety would be ensured. But others are going outside that region. What is the status of the safety and security of these people? MS. TUTWILER: I don't have a current update for you, Pat. I haven't heard of any specific incident concerning people who have returned to their homes. So if there's been one, I haven't heard a thing about it. Q A senior official said that these Kurds were under the mistaken notion that all of northern Iraq was a sealed area. Do we want to issue any kind of warning to Kurds that outside this sealed area, they're on their own? Is there any guidance to be offered here at all from the State Department on that? MS. TUTWILER: I think that our personnel, the United Nations refugee relief organizations on the ground, any number of governments are doing everything they can, there on the ground, to disseminate information to the refugees in these areas. I'm not aware of any warning that I feel I should be issuing to the Kurds. People are there working on the ground from any number of organizations and governments and nationalities telling people exactly what is involved here and what we can and cannot do for them. Q Do you think it's safe for the Kurds to return to their homes? MS. TUTWILER: I cannot make this judgment, Pat. I'm not there. I am not on the ground. I think that those determinations will be made family-by-family, person-by-person, based on the information that they receive from these individuals who are there helping them. As I said, many have returned. Many have talked to other family members. I think these are individual decisions that people are making. I can't prejudge for you what's going into their calculus on what they're deciding to do. Q The distinct impression is that the U.S. Government is operating by the seat of its pants right now in northern Iraq, not necessarily flying blind but very definitely flying in an ad hoc kind of situation. Is that correct? As the situation changes, there's a new sort of groping? The policy seems to be changing in an amorphous way without the Government making specific decisions on these things. MS. TUTWILER: I'm not aware that since the first time that this situation developed that we have been flying by the seat of our pants, to use your phrase. This Administration has been, in my opinion, extremely organized. I would venture to say, without denigrating the efforts of others, that the United States military and the United States Government have saved -- probably we will never know how many lives by how speedily and fast we got on the ground. Our military was there. Our people and our Government have, from private donations, etc., generously given to this effort. I think, John, that the situation -- our goals have been stated by the President, clearly laid out. Those have not changed. We and the world have said what we were going to do concerning this situation, and we're carrying that out. Obviously, you nor I are there on the ground. Things can change in a given date. Right now there's a problem with weather conditions. That didn't exist 10 days ago. When you and I were there on that mountaintop, we were concerned about the freezing temperatures every night. That no longer is a problem. Now, they have a problem with rain. So, yes, it's not a static situation. But certainly, in my opinion, our military is organized. They're carrying out their plan, and they are doing a very good job saving lives. Q Responding to that description you just gave, though, I think John's question is focused more at the political decisions that are being made, not so much as to whether it's raining and whether troops are able to get appropriate weather gear out there. I think the question was aimed at whether the Administration has a good idea of why it has U.S. troops on the ground, for how long, over how much of a physical space those U.S. troops will be deployed. I don't think those are decisions -- unless you are saying that they are -- that are dependent on whether it's raining today or not. MS. TUTWILER: I obviously do not think those types of decisions are weather-driven. Q We're trying to get at whether there's a policy goal or not? MS. TUTWILER: I answered John earlier, Ralph, by saying that a duration of United States military in this area is a Presidential decision. I'm not aware the President has put a timeframe on it. So I'm obviously not going to today. Obviously, if the men on the ground there determine that based on the situation on the ground that there is a need for another refugee camp in X location, or if there is a need to cut a road through this way because it will expedite getting food there, those types of things, yes, I will grant you are changing and may be changing daily. But that does not change or take away from or detract from the overall goal of this country, as enunicated by our President and the others, of what we are trying to do on a humanitarian basis. Q Is there a measurement, though? A standard by which the President has announced that the U.S. deployment there will be either curtailed or expanded? For example, has the Government of Iraq been given any suggestions or instructions about what it must do if it wants the safe areas to be evacuated of all foreign personnel? Have any of those guidelines been established with anybody?

[Iraq: Refugee Update]

MS. TUTWILER: Literal and specific guidelines, that I believe you're aware of, have been given concerning certain safe areas. I am not sure if out in the future, long term, there have been discussions with the Iraqi government concerning this. But let me remind you, there are still 425,000 refugees on the Iraqi-Turkish border. That is only a decrease in a little over 3 weeks of 75,000. That is on the border. So our immediate situation, our immediate humanitarian concern and our purpose is not alleviated. We are still seriously, everyday out there dealing with trying -- a number of people -- to save these people's lives, to get them off of these mountains, to get them to safe havens, to food, to shelter. Q Is there a measurement at which point -- you mentioned the phrase several times "400,000 today." MS. TUTWILER: 425,000. Q Does it get to a point -- is there a publicly stated goal -- MS. TUTWILER: A number? Q -- at which the U.S. feels that this policy would have to be reassessed? MS. TUTWILER: I haven't heard the President put a magic number out there and say, at X number, then we're through. Q We haven't either, which is why we're asking about flying by the seat of its pants. There doesn't appear to be standards set. MS. TUTWILER: We are not flying by the seat of our pants. We are dealing today, factually, to the best of my knowledge, with 425,000 refugees -- men, women, and children -- still on the Turkish-Iraqi border. In addition, 200,000 to 300,000 are still displaced in northern Iraq. That is just one part of this puzzle, as you're well aware. We still have a situation in southern Iraq. As of today, we still have 1.1 million refugees in Iran. The purpose for this whole exercise, to my mind, is not at a point where all of a sudden you feel, yes, we've got this totally under control, we've got a grip on this, and now we will start addressing ourselves to other questions. They're all very valid questions you're asking, but we are still dealing actively with the mission at hand, today. Q Margaret, I think the question is -- what we were told when we were with the Secretary two trips ago was the importance of no getting sucked down the slippery slope into the quagmire of Iraq. MS. TUTWILER: I'm well aware of that. Q The question now is, how are we to believe that we are not now in the quagmire of Iraq when we are now controlling a large part of the northern territory of Iraq and there is no deadline put for our getting out of there, when there is no limit put on the amount of involvement there? What are we to think? Why should we think that this is not a change of policy? MS. TUTWILER: Your questions concerning a deadline are best addressed at the White House, in my opinion. I have no answers for those. That's clearly a Presidential determination. I do not believe that in 3 short weeks -- when we have had to mobilize and try to do what we're doing. I am stating, to the best of my knowledge, it is factually correct information, that there are 425,000 refugees who still need our help. You can characterize we're down a slippery slope or in quagmire. All of those, I think, right at this moment in time, are very fair questions to ask. But at this moment in time, we are still trying, as a humanitarian and generous nation, to help people who need our help. Q Margaret, can we move next -- is this still on? I want to move next door to Kuwait. Q One more specific question on this. Do we have anything new on our hope that the United Nations would take over this so we can leave? MS. TUTWILER: Yes. To be honest with you, I'm not sure exactly where the United Nations discussions are on the United Nations taking this over. Our policy, as stated by the President, has not changed. He has said this any number of times, as have many other world leaders, that this is what the ultimate goal is. But in the meantime, certain organizations were obviously overwhelmed and could not deal with this without these extraordinary measures that our government and other governments took on a humanitarian basis. Q The problem is that we don't know how long the "meantime" is? MS. TUTWILER: I don't either. Q Margaret, on your statement yesterday that the United States -- MS. TUTWILER: Which one? Q I'm about to explain it: The United States would like Iraq to help pay for the cost of carrying for these refugees. Has the United States actually raised this formally with any of its partners? MS. TUTWILER: Have we raised it formally with any of our partners? I don't know, Alan. I know that that is the United States view, so I have to assume that Ambassador Pickering is operating on the same information that I am and that he, then, is enunicating our policy there in the various fora in the United Nations. Q You said yesterday that there was no mechanism. But in answer to a question, you suggested that somehow this would be linked to the mechanism being constructed for reparations or compensation. MS. TUTWILER: Right. I believe I said that on the oil situation, that that was still being worked out. I have some more information for you. I cannot today give you the percentages of what the United States position is concerning oil. That, too, is still being, it's my understanding, worked out in the U.N. system. This refugee situation -- this is a United States view. I do not have for you, nor do I know, what the views of the other countries involved are on this. They may have very different views. Q The Secretary General published some guidelines on the reparations and I didn't see anything there about helping refugees. People are saying that that actually ought to be kept separate? MS. TUTWILER: Maybe that's how it will end up. All I can do for you is express the United States view on it. Q Margaret, is the United States committed not to withdraw its forces from northern Iraq until it is satisfied that the Kurds and other refugees will be safe for the foreseeable future? MS. TUTWILER: That's a question I'd rather refer to the White House, Mark. Those are Presidential type of statements. I would just have to refer you to what the President has stated as our goal and our objective here. He has said that he wants this turned over the United Nations and to relief organizations. I cannot answer that for you without either myself having checked or have you or one of your colleagues ask the President.

[Iraq: UN Sanctions Report]

Q Has the United States seen the report that was submitted to the Secretary General by the Sanctions Committee which, as Alan just pointed out, contains no reference to the refugee situation? MS. TUTWILER: I'm sure that we have seen the report. It's my understanding that the Secretary General's report deals with the organization of the new compensations commission and was not intended to resolve all the substantive issues that will arise. Specifically, it does not recommend the percentage of Iraqi oil revenues that may be used for claims. This is neither unexpected nor inappropriate. The actual percentage applied is to be determined from time to time by the governing council of the new compensation commission which has not been convened. The Secretary General will recommend a maximum percentage, but we understand he will only do this after appropriate consultations and technical advice. This, obviously, we think is the correct way to proceed with this. That's what I understand from the lawyers this morning is the latest on where we are on the new compensation commission. Q The U.S. agrees with the idea that the percentage would change from time to time, or does -- MS. TUTWILER: I'm not aware that the United States has a problem with that, Ralph. The United States has a percentage that it is suggesting, or will be suggesting once this commission is convened. I just cannot today tell you what that percentage is. Q Does that mean that the United States would oppose lifting the embargo on the sale of Iraqi oil until these specifics are worked out? MS. TUTWILER: Yes. The President has addressed himself to that, Jim. He just said what our view of that is. That's the United States position, again. We are obviously working in an international organization. But he was quite clear --I can't remember, Saturday or Monday -- about his views on this. One, totally paraphrasing, he did not want to see people starve, but, two, that there will be no business as usual with our Government and the Iraqi government and that this was something that he basically was not favoring at this moment in time. Q Do you know how the decisions are made? Does the United States have a veto, or is it by consensus, or majority, or what? MS. TUTWILER: I have not gotten into that level of detail concerning this. This is just what the lawyers this morning have gotten from the United Nations on how this is being set up by the United Nations. That's where I am on this so far. Q A follow-up. Is it the understanding of the U.S. Government that the percentage, whatever it is, of the revenues of Iraqi oil will be paid by the Iraqi government directly, or will it be discounted by the buyer countries? MS. TUTWILER: That's a detail that's to be worked out. I don't believe anybody has those answers yet.

[Kuwait: Policy towards Mistreatment of Minorities]

Q Margaret, next door in Kuwait. A couple of weeks ago, we were told that the Secretary was told that the beatings of Palestinians -- torture, etc. -- proponents of the regime, or sympathizers with Iraq, had ceased; that it happened a long time ago. The Philadephia Inquirer, for instance, today has a piece about a man bearing scars that he says were inflicted shortly after Secretary of State Baker received those assurances from the Amir. What is the human rights situation in Kuwait? Have the Kuwaitis stopped beating up on people? MS. TUTWILER: Barry, I haven't been into this since we were there. Our Ambassador, Skip Gnehm, I saw in the building yesterday. I'll be happy to ask him. You are correct to point out that Secretary Baker raised this issue with the Amir and the Crown Prince. The Secretary then spoke to you all afterwards and said what the Amir and the Crown Prince had told him. I have said here from the podium any number of times this is a subject that is of concern to the United States. It is a subject that our Ambassador Skip Gnehm has raised on any number of occasions. I'm not aware of the specific case that you've just raised, and I'll ask Skip. I'm not aware that our Government has stopped being concerned. I'm not aware that our Ambassador has stopped not following up on these types of incidents. Maybe this is one that someone in our embassy there on the ground is going to follow up on. Q Well, I sure didn't mean to focus on just one individual. I'm sure the point of this is that -- as it begins the story, it's supposed to be a case of continuing torture. The question is not whether the United States cares about human rights. We all hope they do. The question is whether the Amir of Kuwait has any credibility. The Ambassador told us 6, 8, 10 weeks ago, on the airplane, On the Record, that these reports were unfounded, that human rights are observed in Kuwait. We were totally -- we were told on an Off-the-Record basis -- on an On-The-Record basis -- that everybody loves the Amir in Kuwait and everything is hunky-dory. Then you go in there and you find out that things are wrong, but you were told they were wrong a few weeks ago and it stopped. So, really, the question is, is Kuwait telling the United States the truth? Has torture stopped or is it continuing. Not whether the U.S. is concerned about human rights. We know you've made the case. The question is, are they listening to you or are they going along merrily beating on people? MS. TUTWILER: Well, I'm not in a position standing here to address myself to the premise of your question, and specifically your specific case. All I can say is, I attended the Secretary of State's meeting -- not 10 days ago -- with the head of the Kuwaiti government and the Prime Minister of the Kuwaiti government who said, as you accurately restate, that, yes, there were abuses at first. People's emotions, as I remember he expressed it, were understandably quite high. They say that this is -- this is what they told our Secretary of State -- that this has stopped. They have said that they are very, very concerned about it. As I remember, the Crown Prince has gone and visited, I believe, several prisons and several hospitals to check up on this personally himself. I believe I am correct in my facts that the Crown Prince has met with people who have said this has happened to them, or leaders in these various communities. So I can't stand here and say, based on one report, that they were somehow lying to the Secretary of State. Q I'm sure it's not (inaudible). The question is very now -- if you could get answer, though, it would be great. I wouldn't expect it to come instantly. Are the Kuwaitis maintaining their pledge? The Secretary put it in terms of they had a security problem. It suggests there's some unrest, obviously, after a war. Is the Kuwaiti government still torturing people or have they stopped it? MS. TUTWILER: I will recheck for you if anything is different than when the Secretary of State was here. Jim, I found the President's statement that I said he had spoken On the Record. The President has stated that "While we do not want to starve people, we do not favor resumption of oil exports until Iraq moves forward on a number of fronts. In this regard, we have a number of questions and concerns we will want to be addressed, including Iraqi performance under U.N. Security Council Resolution 687 and 688: Return of Kuwaiti prisoners and assets and availability of Iraqi domestic resources. Q On another subject, can you tell us today whether you have received, the State Department has received or the government has received, a formal protest from the Israeli government over the incident with Minister Sharon not being received by Secretary Kemp in his office? MS. TUTWILER: As I said yesterday, it was my understanding that Eli Rubinstein called Ambassador Brown. I have checked that, and that's correct. Q And there's been nothing further beyond that. MS. TUTWILER: No. Q Is "protest" the right word? MS. TUTWILER: My understanding is that he called, as has been accurately portrayed in the press -- Elie did -- to say that Israel considered Minister Sharon's treatment in Washington in appropriate. Q How do you respond to -- Q And you consider it appropriate, I suppose. MS. TUTWILER: We rehashed this again yesterday, Barry, or the day before. I don't have anything new to add to the views and suggestions that the Secretary made when he was out on the road. Q Are you saying in effect then that it was appropriate? MS. TUTWILER: Sir, you haven't been here all week -- Q I've heard -- MS. TUTWILER: -- and I will refer you to the record. Q Thank you. But I've heard everything you've said. Is it appropriate or in appropriate at this point? MS. TUTWILER: I have nothing further to add to what I said earlier this week. Q You're not answering the question. We're asking a very simple question: Was it appropriate or in appropriate? MS. TUTWILER: I stand by what I said earlier this week, sir, about the Secretary's views and suggestions concerning this matter. Q The Secretary met this morning, obviously, with the President, and I'm sure they discussed a variety of things. What must happen before -- or for the Secretary of State to return to the Middle East on a peace mission? MS. TUTWILER: That's a wonderful question. It's one that we've been asked for how many days, for those of us who are here every day. It's something that is between the President and the Secretary of State. His meeting today that you point out at the White House is his routinely scheduled meeting. There was nothing unique or significant about that. He meets with the President twice a week every week that he's in town. And yesterday I said that the Secretary did give the President a full and thorough debrief of his recent trip to the Middle East, and that any decisions that may or may not have been made in that meeting will be determined when they are and how they are put out by the President or the Secretary of State. Q Did they meet last night? Q Can you say -- MS. TUTWILER: This morning, Barry. Q They were supposed to meet last night. They didn't meet both? MS. TUTWILER: They had dinner last night. That was purely social and personal. Q The Middle East never -- you know, when you say, "Pass the asparagus," did he ever mention -- (laughter) -- MS. TUTWILER: It was -- Q Did the Middle East ever come up? I know they're good buddies, but there are other things going on in the world. MS. TUTWILER: It was with President Bush, his wife, his daughter, and some of their personal friends. Q Did they have any ideas how to resolve the problems? (Laughter) MS. TUTWILER: I did not ask if Doro had any ideas on the Middle East peace process. Q Have they resolved what must happen before he returns to the Middle East? MS. TUTWILER: The Secretary and the President have had a full discussion of this issue, and I think it would be highly inappropriate, if they have made any decisions, for me to enunciate them. The President yesterday -- I think it was yesterday afternoon -- addressed himself to this issue, and I believe he used the phrase, "I'd love to be more forthcoming and help you in a public track, but we're working things out on a quiet track." Q Margaret, why is Ambassador Gnehm in Washington -- Q (Inaudible) MS. TUTWILER: Wait one second. George? Q The Bani Sadr visa request. MS. TUTWILER: Yes. I think we have already put out that that was waived. The Justice Department waived it, and the State Department recommended to the Justice Department that it be waived. It was. Q Why? MS. TUTWILER: Why? Deputy Secretary Eagleburger told me this morning that on balance, after reviewing all the material that was given to him, he decided to recommend a waiver. And it is my understanding that the Department of Justice decided last night to concur in the Department's recommendation that a waiver be granted. Q So it's their announcement to make and not yours. Is that why it was handled this way? MS. TUTWILER: I think it's all out there. Q I know. But, I mean -- Q Nobody announced it. MS. TUTWILER: I thought they did. Q No. MS. TUTWILER: I'm sorry, Saul. I didn't know. Q It was not announced. It was not posted. It was simply a reply to somebody who might have requested it. MS. TUTWILER: It's not the State Department's announcement. It's the Justice Department. Q Well, there was -- MS. TUTWILER: I thought the Justice Department had. Q No. It was a State Department -- MS. TUTWILER: Well, it certainly made it into a whole lot of newspapers this morning, so I just assumed that it was done, and they put it out. Q Margaret, yesterday you talked about some of the rationale behind the law that made Bani Sadr ineligible for -- MS. TUTWILER: Right. Q -- the formal visa, and you talked about the fact that that related to his presence in the government at the time of the hostage incident. MS. TUTWILER: Right. Q Today you're talking about Eagleburger saying on balance the State Department decided it would authorize this waiver. Can you explain a little bit about what the balance was in Eagleburger's mind? MS. TUTWILER: I have no idea. The recommendations from the building were sent forward to the Deputy Secretary. I haven't seen those. Larry told me this morning -- I said, "I'm going to be asked why did you decide in favor of a waiver?" He said, "After reviewing the information, on balance I decided to recommend one. It made sense to me." And, as we said -- and I don't believe you were here yesterday, Ralph -- Q It was a decision between him and himself, right? (Laughter) MS. TUTWILER: Well, I mean, what's the big deal? Yesterday I don't believe you were here. I said that this has been done many times in the past that the State Department has recommended a waiver, but that the ultimate responsibility was Justice's. Q I'm asking for the rationale, that's all. MS. TUTWILER: I mean, they decided to do it. Q So the State Department -- the Administration does not wish to offer a public rationale for its decision. MS. TUTWILER: Well, I haven't read what the objections were. I don't know what people were objecting. I don't know what people were weighing in on. I mean, Larry looked at all the material put forward to him. As usually works in this building, all the pros, if they want to weigh in, weigh in on this side; all the negatives weigh on this side. Larry decides. Q You made a point yesterday, Margaret -- Q (Inaudible) MS. TUTWILER: There were. Q -- that there were a number of people in this building who felt very strongly -- MS. TUTWILER: They did. Q -- because he was the President or in the government at the time -- MS. TUTWILER: They did. Q -- when the hostages were taken. MS. TUTWILER: And those very people are still very good friends with Larry Eagleburger this morning. We were all in the same room. That is why Larry is the Deputy. He makes decisions, and he made a decision, and Justice concurred with it. Q Margaret, did you try to detect the reaction of the Iranian government to such a visit? MS. TUTWILER: I have no idea. No. Q Not at all. You are not concerned about their reaction, whatever it is, which could be more passive than -- MS. TUTWILER: I'm not sure that they are involved in this at all.

[Bangladesh: Update on Cyclone Damage/US Relief]

Q Margaret, do you have anything on Bangladesh today in terms of -- MS. TUTWILER: What? Q I mean, what the United States has decided to do, if anything, to help? MS. TUTWILER: Yes. I have some new information for you. The Bangladesh government now confirms approximately 40,000 deaths as a result of the cyclone but expects the death toll to exceed 100,000. The President sent a message, which the White House released this morning, of condolence on this tragedy to the Prime Minister. Our Ambassador has returned from a trip to the affected areas. Our Mission in Bangladesh views the supply of fresh drinking water as the greatest immediate need of the cyclone's survivors. Bangladesh armed forces and civilian relief agencies continue to maintain air drops and delivery of relief supplies to affected coastal areas and offshore islands. The government has indicated that with some exceptions, many of the relief supplies needed are available in-country, but there are still critical needs. Assistant Secretary John Kelly met yesterday with the Bangladeshi Ambassador to discuss relief requirements, including the need for helicopters. The Bangladesh government has also requested helicopters from India, Pakistan, China and France. We are looking at ways to address these requests. The United States A.I.D. response to date is $2,139,000. This includes the $25,000 I mentioned to you earlier this week in disaster relief funds under the Ambassador's standing authority. Approximately $2 million in medical supplies, which was in-country and was immediately turned over for the relief effort, and the initial Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance I mentioned to you yesterday, $100,000 authorization to provide grants to private voluntary organizations and high priority items such as water purification and oral rehydration kits. We have provided to date about 750,000 water purification tablets to be distributed through the government and relief agencies. We contribute $130 million annually to Bangladesh in development assistance and food aid. We have begun our initial relief efforts based on these funds, and we are reviewing what is available within these funds and what additional assistance we can give on an urgent basis. In the 20 years since the last cyclone, the United States Government has contributed $3 billion to Bangladesh in economic assistance, including disaster preparedness programs, food security, health and hygiene and agricultural development. Despite these efforts, the immediate effects of the disaster are clearly devastating. Q Margaret, are there two, 2 million there? MS. TUTWILER: No. Q Two million for medicine, essentially, is what the U.S. is -- MS. TUTWILER: Medical supplies that were already in-country that we immediately turned over. Q All right. The European Community as of yesterday was $12 million. The Bangladesh government was saying it needs $1.4 billion. I don't know, you know, how they would know precisely what they need. MS. TUTWILER: I've got a list I'll post for you of Canada, the U.K., EEC, Japan, Nepal. I can post this afterwards for you. Q It sounds like -- with the refugees from Iraq, it sounds like the United States is not exactly leading the parade to be of assistance, although you suggest that there may be some additional relief. Two million -- MS. TUTWILER: How can you characterize whether we're leading or not leading? This has happened in the last 48 hours. Q The European Community came up with $12 million instantly. The Japanese are in there with millions, and they say -- I think it would sound plausible that they would need over a billion dollars, and the U.S. has come in with -- MS. TUTWILER: Japan I have as two million. Canada I have as 150,000. The U.K. -- we have no value known yet. What other country did you mention? Q The Community is $12 million -- the European Community, as of yesterday. MS. TUTWILER: You're right. $12 million as of yesterday. Q Margaret, are adequate resources available for this sort of disaster in light of the problem with the Kurds? MS. TUTWILER: It is a problem. Q Does the United States have humanitarian aid it can't rebill to Iraq? MS. TUTWILER: I don't know, Norm, but you have pointed out, it is a legitimate problem that we have and other countries also have, in light of everything else that we are doing. And, Barry, in your question, just so we're fair here, we have given -- our country has given $3 billion over the last 20 years in preparation to help people should another cyclone come into this country. One has come. Hopefully, some of that was helpful. Obviously, all of it couldn't have been. Q Margaret, do you have anything on the Philippine base talks? Q Wait a minute. MS. TUTWILER: Yes. They broke off, and Rick Armitage is on his way home. There's a four-page statement that was made, not by him, but by our -- I believe it was a Press Officer there that made it available in the Press Room afterwards. Q Margaret, just to follow up on this Bangladesh thing, one more question on the helicopters. When you say it is a problem, are helicopters specifically a problem, because we're using them in Iraq? Is it a problem for us to come up helicopters? MS. TUTWILER: I don't believe I said it was a problem. I said we're looking for ways to address this request. But, yes, we are stretched right now as a government on helicopters. Q Margaret, let me go back to the Sharon affair for a minute. He mentioned in his news conference at the National Press Club that the peace process is bogged down because it's based on procedural issues rather than substantive issues. And he suggested that the United States bring in Kuwait and Saudi Arabia to a discussion of doing something in some form of recognition of Israel's existence, and therefore that would be a step that might propel developments towards a peace settlement in the region. Has that been transmitted -- he said that he thought that the Prime Minister has spoken about this to Secretary Baker on his trip. MS. TUTWILER: Sir, the Secretary has conducted all of his meetings with the Prime Minister of Israel one-on-one, and he nor the Prime Minister of Israel have divulged much, if anything, of what they have discussed in their hours of meetings. And as far as Minister Sharon's suggestion in a speech he made here in town, it is an interesting idea, and I'm sure that the experts here in the building will take a look at it. Q And on top of that the question arises as to whether or not Secretary Kemp will go to Israel to meet with Minister Sharon there. MS. TUTWILER: I have no idea. You'd have to ask Mr. Kemp's office. Q Well, would Secretary Baker object to such a meeting? MS. TUTWILER: It's a total hypothetical and speculative for me to deal with. I would just refer you to Mr. Kemp's office. I have no idea if he has such a trip planned. Yes, Ralph. Q Margaret, getting back to the peace process again for just a second, I'm not quite sure I understood what it was you were trying to tell us earlier about the state of decision-making. Were you telling us that the President and Baker have discussed this and have made decisions but just don't want to talk about it, or are you telling us that the situation is under review; that decisions haven't been made; they're essentially working out what they think is the best course of action? MS. TUTWILER: I believe I said -- if I didn't, I intended to say -- that any decisions that may or may not have been made, the President and the Secretary of State will determine how and when they would like to make those public. Q Well, let's focus, if we can, even if, you know, you don't want to breath a word of this to this hushed audience, has the President made a decision what to do next, even if you can't disclose it? MS. TUTWILER: The President refused to answer that question yesterday for the press and again this morning in a brief photo-op, so I know I'm not going to. Q And is the Secretary going to go to Rice on Saturday and make a speech as planned? MS. TUTWILER: Yes. Q Is he going to do something on Sunday that -- is he going to come back here on Sunday? MS. TUTWILER: That you would be vitally, personally interested in? No. Q Well, I mean, should I put on the television set and watch -- MS. TUTWILER: I know what you're asking. (Laughter) No. You don't have to. Q I just wondered if he -- you know, we're trying to watch him. MS. TUTWILER: It's been weeks since he's been on. Q Does the Secretary have any plans to go back to the Middle East? MS. TUTWILER: Nothing that I'm in a position to say there's anything that he has to announce or say. Q Do you know whether the Administration has any plans to invite key Middle East leaders to Washington to continue this process? MS. TUTWILER: Not that I've heard of, and the President yesterday, Ralph, addressed himself to future travel concerning the Secretary.

[Yugoslavia: Violence in Croatia]

Q Margaret, do you have any comment on the violence in Croatia where the policemen were killed? MS. TUTWILER: The Croatian government yesterday announced that nine Croatian policemen were killed, and three are missing after a clash with armed Serbs on the territory of the Republic of Croatia near the border with Serbia. Details remain sketchy, but press accounts in Yugoslavia report as many as 37 dead, including 17 Croatian police and 20 Serb civilians. Units of the Yugoslav army reportedly intervened to extricate the remaining Croatian police. The situation there remains very tense, and there is the danger of further violence. The United States Government deplores this latest outbreak of violence. We believe that such incidents undermine the efforts of those who are seeking a democratic and peaceful resolution of the crisis in Yugoslavia. Q Are you concerned that a civil war is about to break out or has broken out? MS. TUTWILER: I couldn't characterize it as a civil war has broken out. We have expressed any number of times from this podium and in other fora our concern on the situation in Yugoslavia. That remains the same today. Q If I may, this week the numbers of Cuban refugees entering the United States illegally surpassed the total for all of last year. There have been reports of gasoline shortages keeping Cuban patrol boats in port rather than out on patrol, thereby inducing more of the exodus to continue. We're hearing from south Florida, the Chrome detention center is maxed at its capacity. They've relaxed the regulations governing the release of the detainees, and there's also a report, albeit based on unsubstantiated intelligence, that Castro's about ready to make another Mariel type boat lift. What's going on? What is the Department doing? MS. TUTWILER: Sir, I am not up to speed on any of the issues that you have raised. I'll be happy to take a look at it and see if the Bureau can get you something.

[Czechoslovakia: Discontinued Arms Sales]

Q Margaret, do you have anything on reports that Czechoslovakia is selling arms to Syria? MS. TUTWILER: Yes. The United States welcomed the decision by President Havel shortly after the "Velvet Revolution" to halt Czechoslovakian arms sales and has continued to encourage the Czech and Slovak Federal Republic to stick to this decision. We are keenly aware of the significance of the arms industry to the country's economy and particularly to that of Slovakia and have offered to dispatch U.S. experts on defense conversion to share U.S. experience. As you're aware, United States' terrorism-related legislation prohibiting U.S. sales to both countries is clear. We therefore discourage Czechoslovakia from reinstituting a policy that would permit arms sales to those two countries. Q Are they selling arms? Q Which two countries? MS. TUTWILER: The two countries are, I believe, as I remember, Syria and Iran is what the story says, Alan. Q But, I mean, you're not saying whether they're doing it or not, right? MS. TUTWILER: No. I'm not saying whether they're doing it or not. I'm saying what our position is, and that we have raised this with them, and that we're aware of the situation. Q The U.S. Government doesn't know, or is it because the U.S. Government doesn't want to say? MS. TUTWILER: It's my understanding this is all the United States Government today from this podium wanted to say concerning this situation. I will ask if we can be more forthcoming. I understand very well your questions. This is how they wanted it handled today. Q All right. But again let's break the question down. Q For the record, it's not that you don't know. Q Does the United States know? Does the United States know and won't say, or does the United States not know and won't say? MS. TUTWILER: This is all that I can say concerning this subject today from this podium, and I'm aware of your questions. It could well be that I have asked today questions that you are asking -- Q I hope so. MS. TUTWILER: -- and this is what I have to say concerning this subject today from this podium. Q How are you making out with the Chinese selling missiles to Syria? Did you get any place on slowing that down? MS. TUTWILER: I thought that was Algeria. Q No, no, no. MS. TUTWILER: Two weeks ago -- Q The Chinese are selling Syria two different types of missiles -- MS. TUTWILER: (TO STAFF) We had that yesterday, right? Q The State Department's answer is that they're discouraging them and -- MS. TUTWILER: Right. We had this yesterday. To be honest with you, Barry, I cannot remember where we are on that. I'll be happy to look it up for you. Q Margaret, is it a little difficult for the United States to ask these countries not to sell arms to the region when we indeed are doing that very same thing? MS. TUTWILER: That may well be, Susan, but it doesn't, to be honest, stop us from doing it. (Laughter) You know that we're concerned about arms in the region ourselves. You know that this is something that the Secretary has brought up in almost every meeting that I can remember we've done on these last two trips, especially the first trip -- remember, right after the war -- and it is something that he continues to pursue with the other members of the Perm Five. As you know, he's pointed out we're the largest, all of us together, seller of arms to this region. But if we have a definite position on how that's going to all work out at this moment on proliferation in the region, If we do, I'm not aware of it, and I'm not sure that this has been resolved yet. Q I'm curious as to who these experts are on how to convert the arms industry into something else -- MS. TUTWILER: I don't know. Q -- that we're sending, since we've done very little conversion. MS. TUTWILER: I don't now, Saul. I'll be happy to ask. Q Plowshares, right? Q Has Czechoslovakia accepted this offer to send these people? You say it's been offered. MS. TUTWILER: I don't know. Q Where do we stand on arms sales to Saudi Arabia? MS. TUTWILER: What? I'm sorry. Q Where do we stand on the arms sales to Saudi Arabia, this $13 billion -- MS. TUTWILER: I don't know. I'll be happy to look it up for you. I do not know. Q On a related question, do you have anything on Secretary Kimmitt's urging arms sales to Iraq at a time when the other voices in the Administration were urging against such sales to Iraq? MS. TUTWILER: No. I understand there was some TV show on this last night, and I haven't had a chance to read the transcript, and I didn't watch the show. I don't know anything about it. Q Will you follow it up? MS. TUTWILER: I'll be happy to take a look at it. Bob, as you know, right now is out of the country, and obviously I would want to get in touch with him before I said anything concerning something that it's alleged that he did or didn't do. Q Well, if he did, he must not have kept it secret, if you don't have to wait for him to come back. MS. TUTWILER: I'm not sure exactly where he is right now, Ralph. (TO STAFF) Richard, do you remember what his schedule is, when he gets where? Is he in Hong Kong or China today? MR. BOUCHER: Hong Kong. MS. TUTWILER: He's in Hong Kong today, Ralph.

[Middle East Peace Process]

Q Margaret, just a question on meetings with the PLO. Roland -- MS. TUTWILER: What meeting? Q I'll explain. Roland Dumas met with Yasser Arafat, and also Bessmertnykh the day before he met with Baker in Kislovodsk met with three members of the PLO Executive Committee. I haven't heard anything from the State Department on whether or not meetings with the PLO at this very sensitive time in the peace process are considered helpful. MS. TUTWILER: By other governments? Q Yes. By other governments. MS. TUTWILER: I don't believe, Mary, that we're in the position of telling other Foreign Ministers who they can and cannot meet with. They're sovereign nations. Q Do you mean in private you've never expressed an opinion to the European Community diplomats here in Washington, for instance, on whether or not they should meet with the PLO at this time? MS. TUTWILER: I would never say never, and I attended Secretary Baker's meeting with the Foreign Minister of the Soviet Union, and the Minister did give the Secretary a rather full debrief of his meeting -- I believe that you stated it was the day before -- in the Soviet Union with the individuals that you've mentioned. Q And yet I asked the Secretary when he came out of that meeting if the Soviet Union was acting as the channel for the United States to the PLO, since the United States allegedly doesn't talk to the PLO. MS. TUTWILER: We don't. You know we don't have a dialogue. Q Well, yes, all right. You say that. MS. TUTWILER: It happens to be true. Q But the point was -- well, the Secretary said no to that -- that the Soviets are not the -- MS. TUTWILER: That's right. Q -- U.S.'s intermediaries. So what's going on? What's the point of it? Why would he give him -- MS. TUTWILER: What's the point of what? Q Well, why does the Secretary receive reports from the Soviet Union on the PLO when -- MS. TUTWILER: Why does the Soviet Foreign Minister say, "Mr. Secretary, I think you might be interested in hearing about my meeting yesterday, and some of the views of these individuals." What was he supposed to say? "Oh, my God, please don't tell me. I don't want to know. Let me close my ears." I mean, come on. Q There are a lot of things he could say. Like -- MS. TUTWILER: He didn't raise it. The Foreign Minister raised it, Barry. Q I know that. But does he tell the Soviet Foreign Minister what he tells the Israelis, that the PLO should not be part of the peace process? MS. TUTWILER: The Soviet Union knows our position on this. Q They don't have to be told? MS. TUTWILER: They know! It's all public. There's no secrets about it. Q Margaret, I'm sorry. I feel like my question wasn't answered. I said -- I didn't ask -- you know, you said that you don't tell other governments what they should do. That's true. But I asked, does the State Department feel that it is helpful for other governments to be holding meetings with the PLO? You had very strong views on whether or not Mr. Kemp should receive Mr. Sharon, because he opposes the peace process. MS. TUTWILER: If we have a view -- Q What about the PLO? MS. TUTWILER: If we have views on that, Mary -- and I answered the second part of your question by answering the first -- that we would make those views known, and they would be done quietly and through our diplomatic channels. Q Does the U.S. expect, does Mr. Baker expect to continue this exchange of views with Minister Bessmertnykh while Minister Bessmertnykh is traveling in the region? Would you expect since Baker kept him informed -- MS. TUTWILER: Anything's possible, Ralph. Q Margaret, can you advance for us whether Baker and Bessmertnykh will meet at the conclusion of Bessmertnykh's upcoming Middle East trip? MS. TUTWILER: That was Ralph's -- his question. I believe I was just asked, "Are we going to meet in the region?" Right? Q That wasn't my question, but that was the answer you gave, and that was very useful. Thanks. MS. TUTWILER: I mean, I don't know how to answer this any other way than to say, "Anything is possible." I am not in a position to announce or say what any future possible travel plans of the Secretary of State could or could not be. I can't do that. Q Or the possibility of Bessmertnykh coming here? MS. TUTWILER: I know of no plans. Have I heard of no plans -- when do you mean? From now til when? -- of the Foreign Minister coming here. I mean, at some point I imagine he will be back in our country, but right now I know of no plans, possible plans, tentative plans, make-believe plans -- I haven't heard it raised. But, again, if he calls tomorrow and says, "I'd like to come," he comes. Q Margaret -- MS. TUTWILER: O.K. George [Gedda] walked out. I think that's it. (Laughter) Q Thank you. (The briefing concluded at 12:53 p.m.)