US Department of State Daily Press Briefing #77: Wednesday, 5/8/91

Boucher Source: State Department Deputy Spokesman Richard Boucher Description: 12:30 PM, Washington, DC Date: May 8, 19915/8/91 Category: Briefings Region: MidEast/North Africa, South Asia, Eurasia Country: Iraq, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Syria, USSR (former), Armenia, Bangladesh, Ethiopia Subject: Regional/Civil Unrest, Development/Relief Aid, Refugees, Arms Control, Security Assistance and Sales, Democratization, Military Affairs (ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED) MR. BOUCHER: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. If I can, at the beginning, let me, again, give you the highlights of the relief efforts. We will put up more extensive information after the briefing. This is what I see in it that's new.

[Iraq: Situation Update]

We have some estimates from combined task force personnel of the number of refugees that are leaving mountain camps. The estimates are around 5,000 per day. We are pleased to see the refugees begin to move down from the mountain camps to areas where adequate medical care and additional assistance can be provided for their onward movement to their homes. I can't characterize these movements as being faster than expected because we really had no expectations as to what the rate of return would be once people felt secure to start moving towards their homes As we've said on many occasions, our objective has always been to provide for the care and protection of this needy group of people and to facilitate the return to their homes in safety. In southern Iraq, the Defense Department reports that more than 8,400 displaced persons were moved from the Safwan area to the temporary refugee camp in Saudi Arabia. In addition, 2,118 Iraqis were moved to Iran by the International Organization for Migration. All of those displaced civilians who wanted to depart the area were moved. In fact, I'm told that the last flight for people out of this area to the refugee camps left virtually empty. Local civilians remaining in the area were provided with food, water, and other supplies sufficient to last for one week. We do not have information concerning the number of Iraqi civilians who decided to remain in the area. On May 6, the United Nations peacekeeping forces completed their deployment into the demilitarized zone, and they are now prepared to carry out their monitoring and observation functions. As a consequence, 8,000 U.S. troops began withdrawing from the demilitarized zone on May 7. The withdrawal is scheduled to be completed by no later than May 9. That's the only update I had. I'll be glad to take your questions. Q On other subjects as well? MR. BOUCHER: Anything, Barry. Q Let me try a couple of things with you on the Soviet Union. The Foreign Minister arrived in Damascus today. I wonder, first off, what the expectation is here, in the State Department, as to the Soviet recognition of Israel -- full diplomatic recognition? MR. BOUCHER: The expectation, as you call it, if you're meaning predictions, I'm not going to try to give any. As you know, we all would support the idea that Israel should get full recognition not only from the Soviet Union but from other countries as well. Q Secondly, is it still a matter of policy -- the Baker policy, in fact -- that the Soviets are not eligible to play a role -- certainly as co-sponsor of a Mideast conference -- until they upgrade their relations with Israel to full relations? MR. BOUCHER: I don't have anything new or different from what the Secretary said before, Barry. Q Because there now seems to be some question whether this Bessmertnykh tour of the Middle East will result in full relations and yet the U.S. is going out there -- Baker is going out there, evidently, to keep trying to set up a co-sponsored peace conference Is there any problem, mechanical problem, trying to do something that's based on a prerequisite that hasn't happened yet? MR. BOUCHER: There's certainly a problem on my part in trying to predict how things will turn out since they haven't happened yet. But I don't really have anything new on that since the last time the Secretary left it, and I think I really just have to leave it there. Q All right, one last thing. Could you venture some comments on how the Soviets and U.S. interests in any way, or whatever way, are in alignment so far as the Middle East? What is it that you want from the Soviets? What do you expect from the Soviets? Bessmertnykh made a strong statement today. Of course, he's in Syria, but he made a strong statement supporting the Arabs. He said he wouldn't let them down, etc., etc. What is it that Baker is looking for from the Soviet Union, particularly on this trip? MR. BOUCHER: Let me leave that one where the Secretary last addressed it with Minister Bessmertnykh as well. I don't have anything particularly new to say on that. Q Did he address it since his last trip? I've been away a couple days. MR. BOUCHER: Yeah, he did. He talked about our common interests and where he left it on the last trip. Q Where he left it on the last trip? I'm familiar with that. MR. BOUCHER: Yeah, I think he talked about it in Kislovodsk when they were out there. Q Right, he did, indeed. Q Richard, in announcing his trip, I think it was Margaret who said or suggested that there might be other parties who would take part in the conference and possibly act in a hosting role. I presume talking about here the European Community or the United Nations. Are those still possibilities? MR. BOUCHER: It was the Secretary, I think, that mentioned the Soviet Union, among others, when he was downstairs Monday morning. So certainly, yes, those are possibilities. Q And is that one of the things that is being actively explored? MR. BOUCHER: Those are things that the Secretary has been working on during the course of the last trip, and he will continue to work on this kind of conference that he described again for you on Monday. Q Richard, would you like to comment on the decision of Egypt and Syria to withdraw their troops from Kuwait? MR. BOUCHER: I think just to say that, first of all, we've always said it was for the governments of the area to take the lead in these post-war security arrangements. As you know, Secretary Cheney is out in the region right now discussing these very issues. Q Was it a surprise, that the decision was taken? MR. BOUCHER: I really don't think I want to go into it more right now, because Secretary Cheney is out there meeting with many of these people, and I don't have a readout on his discussions. Q But, Richard, U.S. policy was -- and even though Cheney's out there, just to see if there's any change now, the idea was that you would have a security force. You were very much in favor of stabilizing the region with the Gulf states plus Egypt and Syria. Now, doesn't this suggest that maybe that plan is not going to work out? MR. BOUCHER: Barry, the Gulf states, Egypt and Syria have in the past addressed these issues. The way we've addressed it is to say that the states of the area and regional organizations have to take the lead in post-war security arrangements, and that the United States and other countries as well could support this; that we had certain ideas in mind as far as what the U.S. role would be in supporting their security arrangements. Q I thought you meant inactively, not immediate withdrawal. That's hardly a lead when you decide to move out. That could leave the Gulf with a negative result. MR. BOUCHER: The Gulf states and regional organizations and regional states will take the lead in establishing these security arrangements. Secretary Cheney is out there now talking to them, and I'm not informed on the full course of his travels or his discussions, and I'm not about to try to tell you how that might be modified through his discussions.

[USSR: Civil Unrest in Armenia]

Q Richard, back on the Soviet Union, if I can. Do you have any comment on the fact the Soviets have seized three more villages in Armenia? Any comment on Soviet behavior generally towards Armenia? And also I understand that there are two American reporters stranded in Armenia and surrounded by Soviet troops and can't get anywhere. Do you have any knowledge of that and any comment? MR. BOUCHER: I personally had not heard about that. That's something, I'm sure, we'll want to look into, and, if we can get you something on that later, I'll try. As for the general situation in Armenia, I guess I have to start out by saying that we don't have people ourselves on the ground. We don't have firsthand information from the region, and so I can't really confirm for you the exact purpose of the Soviet troop deployment, or what exactly they're doing. As a general matter, I would say, however, that we are very concerned by the worsening violence in the Armenian/ Azerbaijan area and in the areas surrounding the disputed territory of Nagorno-Karabak. We deeply regret the loss of life and hope that all parties to this dispute will step back from confrontation. I would remind you of what the Secretary has said before. I have the quotes from a November 1989 press conference where he talked about the distinction between forcibly suppressing peaceful dissent, on the one hand -- with which we would have great trouble -- and maintaining order in the face, for instance, of inter-ethnic rivalries that might themselves be leading to violence and bloodshed. So we would hope to see an early resumption of the political dialogue between Armenia and Azerbaijan that began last year, and we have conveyed our concern to the Soviet authorities about these situations. And we have urged all parties to step back from confrontation and rely upon reason and restraint. Q Following up, conveying your concern, that was done by Matlock? MR. BOUCHER: It was done by our Embassy. I think it was the DCM who went into the Foreign Ministry last weekend. Q A follow-up on that: In repeating the distinction that the United States draws between suppression of dissent and maintaining order, have you determined which case it is in this instance? MR. BOUCHER: That's something I really can't do, because we don't have a specific assessment of the situation on the ground. It's a very complex issue. Our desire is to see the peaceful resolution of these issues and to see the parties take steps that will avoid bloodshed. On the one hand, that means where force is used to re-establish order, that it's a minimum of force. On the other hand, that means that there be some other way for solving political disputes. "Some other way" meaning some sort of dialogue that can solve these disputes peacefully, and only really in that way can you get a legitimate and lasting solution to these kinds of disputes. Q Are you trying to get somebody on the ground in this case so that you can make your own assessment? MR. BOUCHER: I don't know that we are. I'll have to check. Q Richard, a few hours ago the President didn't have anything to say about the firing on a plane -- an American plane in Iraq. Do you want to step into the breach? MR. BOUCHER: No, I don't, Barry. (Laughter.) Some other time. Q Can you tell us where (inaudible) is? MR. BOUCHER: No. You might check with the Pentagon. I'm sure they'll give you that kind of military information if they feel comfortable. Q Have they responded in any way -- whether U.S. planes responded to the incident at all? MR. BOUCHER: Again, you're dealing with military airplanes, military situations, which our military well be glad to inform you on. I'm not going to jump into this one, sorry. Q With all due respect though, the Pentagon and the State Department yesterday issued the same information about the relief operation, which is also military. But you won't talk about this. Why? MR. BOUCHER: Relief operations is a much broader issue. Q It doesn't involve the military at all? MR. BOUCHER: It certainly does. Q Well, you talk about that then. MR. BOUCHER: I'll be happy to check with the Pentagon on your behalf and get you a copy of anything that we jointly decide to say on this issue. Q Has there been diplomatic communication with the powers that be in Iraq about incidents such as this shooting at the aircraft? Apparently it's not the first time, but it is the first identifiable one from Iraqi forces -- or are you allowing that to be a military-to-military matter and the diplomats are not getting involved? MR. BOUCHER: No. I'll have to check on that, John. I hadn't heard of any, but let me check. Q Can we get back to Armenia for a minute? On the one hand you're telling us that you can't say anything about the Armenian allegations of -- the Armenians are describing this as state terrorism, and you're saying you can't say anything about that or if this is an excessive use of force at least, because you don't have anybody on the ground to make an assessment. But in answer to Carol's question on whether you're trying to get anybody on the ground, you say that you don't know. Is there some reason why we wouldn't be trying to send -- why wouldn't we be sending someone to check it out? MR. BOUCHER: I can't answer that because I don't know that we're not trying to send somebody to check it out, and I will find out the answer to the question. And if we're not sending somebody, we'll try to explain to you why. Q Richard -- MR. BOUCHER: Let's go back here. Q Yes. Czechoslovakia today announced I think that in spite of protest of the United States, it is going to go ahead with the sales of tanks to Syria. Do you have any remarks concerning this issue, you know, which you would add to yesterday's remarks? MR. BOUCHER: I hadn't seen that they had made a new announcement on it, so I don't have anything to add. I think I made our position clear and Margaret made our position clear with our statements over the past few days. Q Well, in light of what she said, does that put into jeopardy any U.S. aid program for Czechoslovakia? MR. BOUCHER: I haven't seen a Czech announcement, so I'll have to check on that and see. Q Well, I'll put it this way: Given a Czech decision to go ahead, would that put into jeopardy any U.S. assistance? MR. BOUCHER: Let me check. Q Can we stay on Eastern Europe for a minute if we can? Have you any reports of any demonstrations outside the Embassy in Bucharest on the part of American parents who want to get babies out, who are having problems there with the Embassy? MR. BOUCHER: I hadn't seen anything on that. I'll have to check on that too. Q We're hearing reports that the Embassy there has stopped issuing visas for babies that were adopted through private means, not through the official agency. Is that correct? Can you confirm that? MR. BOUCHER: I don't know. I'll have to check. I'm sorry. Q Richard, the Jordanians say that they're having a problem with ships still being stopped and searched at the Aqaba Port to the extent of every container in ships delivering anything to Jordan being opened and searched; and they say that this was brought up between the King and Baker during their meeting in Aqaba, that they were given assurances that this would stop happening. They say it's still happening, and they say that it's all but dried up shipping to Jordan. Do you have anything on that? Do you know if that's true, if these allegations are true; and do you know if anything's been done about it? MR. BOUCHER: I'm afraid I don't know, Mary. Q Can you take the question? MR. BOUCHER: I'll look into it. Q Thank you. Q Do you have an update on the schedule of the Secretary's travel? MR. BOUCHER: We will put out a tentative summary schedule but one that's more complete than what I'll give you here. But to give you the basic outlines, in repeating some of the things I've said before, on Friday evening the Secretary and party will depart Washington. They will go to Syria. On Sunday, in Damascus, he expects to meet with President Assad. Q On Sunday? MR. BOUCHER: On Sunday, yes. I think it's a Saturday evening arrival there. Then on to Egypt on Sunday. He'll be meeting with Foreign Minister Bessmertnykh in Cairo on Sunday and Monday, and meet in Cairo with President Mubarak and others in the Egyptian government as well on Monday. Q All on Monday? MR. BOUCHER: On Monday. Tuesday on to Amman, Jordan for meetings there. And then proceed to Israel Wednesday and Thursday, some meetings in Israel. And tentative return time is Thursday to Washington. Let me add one more time, as we do every time we give you this kind of information, this is all tentative. We may add things or change things. And, as I said, we'll get you the tentative summary schedule in more detail this afternoon. Q Even though we're getting towards summer, it is Amman and not Aqaba; right? MR. BOUCHER: That's right. Q And it's an overnight in Amman, Jordan? MR. BOUCHER: I don't think it is, but we'll have a schedule for you shortly. Q But it's been announced in Lisbon that the Secretary will appear with Mr. Bessmertnykh at the Angola peace accords on the 3lst [of May]. Can you confirm that MR. BOUCHER: No, I can't. Nothing is scheduled yet. We're taking this one step at a time. Q That's not the same trip, is it? (Laughter.) Because he could hang around for some time. MR. BOUCHER: No, I don't think so, Barry. Q He'll settle something else while he stops there. Q Will he be going up to brief Senators this afternoon on the trip, is that correct -- the Secretary? MR. BOUCHER: Let me check on that and get you something. Q Richard, is he part of a commencement to address next week? I heard some notion that there's another speech. It's important to us not because we cover speeches but because it may bring him home. (Laughter.) MR. BOUCHER: Barry, I just told you today that he plans on coming home -- Q But would he? MR. BOUCHER: -- and that he plans on coming home a week from Thursday. And then, yes, I do believe he has a commencement speech shortly after that. Q Can we return just briefly to northern Iraq? For the last week, what the U.S. has been saying from this podium is that the effort in northern Iraq is to get the United Nations to take over the care and feeding of the Kurds as they come down out of the mountains. But there has not been a statement by the State Department as to who is going to provide the security and the safety net which you feel -- the web, as you put it -- which you feel is necessary for them to come down. Who's going to provide that when the United Nations is giving them food and water and medical care? Who's going to make them safe if the U.S. and the coalition goes away? MR. BOUCHER: John, this is an issue that we have discussed in this room rather extensively before, I think you'll remember. We've discussed the various steps being taken by various people to provide the kind of assurances that people can get relief and that they presumably need in order to feel safe enough to go back to their homes. There are various things being done by the United States. There is the issue of a U.N. police force or some sort of security presence along with their relief presence that is being explored and discussed by the United Nations. And there are other steps that the United Nations has already taken in terms of their discussions with the Iraqis in their memorandum of understanding about monitoring and observers and sending people out to towns. Q I wasn't aware that there was any great interest on the part of the U.N. in creating a police force for the northern part of Iraq. Are you telling me that there is interest on the part of the U.N. in doing this? MR. BOUCHER: The issue of safety, protection, security -- whatever you want to call it -- for the U.N. relief efforts is part and parcel of the discussion fo relief efforts that we've had. We've had discussions with other U.N. members. Up in New York, I think the Secretary-General is currently studying this issue. And you'll remember the President just this morning once more said that he was looking forward to discussing the hand-over process with Secretary-General Perez de Cuellar tomorrow. Q He said he didn't want to get caught in a quagmire, and some people think he may already be caught in a quagmire. But I'll leave it that. Q Richard, given that the refugee situation is a direct result of the Persian Gulf war, which was -- MR. BOUCHER: Excuse me? Q Is that -- MR. BOUCHER: You can go, but I will question that. Q You don't think the refugee problem has anything to do with the war? MR. BOUCHER: I didn't say anything. Q Well, assuming for a moment -- MR. BOUCHER: Keep going with your question and I'll take my shot later.

[Role of Syria and Egypt in Relief Effort]

Q Assuming for a moment that it does have something to do with it and that the coalition was very united in ousting Iraq from Kuwait, why is it not important for Syria and Egypt to be part of the relief operation? MR. BOUCHER: You're mixing a hole bunch of things, some of which I have not heard said before and some of which I have heard said before and I object to. The first is that the refugee situation is the result of Saddam Hussein's brutality against his own people. Q You're agreeing or disagreeing with that? MR. BOUCHER: I'm disagreeing with what you said about it being the result of the war. Q And you're saying? MR. BOUCHER: Second of all, the question of Syria and Egyptian roles in the relief operation is not something I've seen addressed before. I know that in the early part there were some supplies in Syria, that we worked with them to have turned over and moved up to Turkey since that's where the people where and that was part of their role. But the role of different countries I think we've talked about in different ways and run it down in the sitreps. I don't precisely remember what Syria or Egypt may or may not be doing in the relief effort. Q But it's not of any real concern to the United States Government, what they're doing? MR. BOUCHER: The point is to provide assistance to people who need it, and there are a large number of countries. Each country is deciding how to contribute in its own way. Many of these countries contribute to the international organizations that are doing work out there. And I think if you want to know what Syria and Egypt are doing, you can either check out our situation reports, if we've reported on that before, or you can ask them directly. Q Can you give us an update on CFE and what's happening on negotiations? Q I've got some more on the Gulf. Q How about -- MR. BOUCHER: I'll be glad to bounce around.

[Iran: AmeriCares Relief Workers Depart]

Q Have you seen the report of the U.S. medical clinic which has been harassed and, in effect, driven out of Iran? MR. BOUCHER: You're talking about the AmeriCares people? Q Yes. The ones where they -- MR. BOUCHER: Yes, Jan. Q -- threatened to shoot -- MR. BOUCHER: The organization themselves I think can talk about some of the detail. Let me give you our general understanding of the situation overall with the AmeriCares. They have sent planeloads of relief supplies to Iran, and they report that they generally had good cooperation from Iranian government officials. The problem that caused them to withdraw the humanitarian assistance team that was working at a refugee camp near Bukan was apparently the result of harassment and confrontations with local Iranian authorities present in the camp. Prior to departing Iran, AmeriCares officials turned over their medical supplies and facilities to Iranian doctors working in the camp. And, in addition, they trained camp personnel in the use of the equipment and supplies that were left behind. Q And what does that tell you bout the Iranian attitude in general about U.S. efforts? MR. BOUCHER: I don't think I'm prepared to try to do an analysis of Iranian politics for you here. I would just say that we have heard stories from several Western aid donors based on their experience, and our general view is that it would be distressing to us if political views were an obstacle to relief efforts for refugees in Iran. Q On the announcement last night concerning the Iraqi Interests Section and plans for Algeria to be the protecting power, will the United States have a protecting power in Baghdad? MR. BOUCHER: Funny you should ask. First of all, we haven't finalized any arrangements of that sort yet and the opening of an Interests Section for Iraq is a separate issue from our own arrangements in Baghdad. Q What about al-Mashat? What can you tell us about his movement from Austria to Canada? (Laughter.) MR. BOUCHER: Just that we had really no part in it and that the Canadians didn't ask us before they approved whatever they approved for him. It appears to be one instance in which a senior Iraqi official discerned the difference between his own interests and those of Saddam Hussein. (Laughter.) Q Did he request to come to the United States and stay here at any point that you're aware of? MR. BOUCHER: Not that I'm aware of. Q But was he asked to leave in mid-January? MR. BOUCHER: I can't remember. I'm sure we said so. We'll find out for you, George.

[Arms Control: Status of CFE Negotiations]

Q Richard can you address this issue of what's happening with CFE and the status of -- MR. BOUCHER: Yes. Q -- negotiations? MR. BOUCHER: In a meeting yesterday with U.S. Ambassador Matlock, President Gorbachev said he would ask General Moiseyev to lead a delegation to Washington for high-level discussions on outstanding CFE problems. We don't have a schedule -- precise dates for you yet -- on that. The problems with the CFE Treaty have been the subject for some time of high-level exchanges between the United States and the Soviet Union. We're in close and continuous contact with our allies as well. Both President Bush and President Gorbachev very much want to resolve the problems with the treaty so that the process of ratification can begin and the treaty can be fully implemented. Q Do you regard this news of the General's departure for the United States as encouraging insofar as this treaty is concerned, and also how might this affect food aid to the Soviet Union, if at all? MR. BOUCHER: I don't see a connection with food aid to the Soviet Union. The issue of food aid was discussed by the President this morning, and I'll leave that where it stands with him. As far as the question of what it means, I think we just have to note that these exchanges are occurring, that we are trying to solve these issues. We believe the Soviets are trying to solve these issues, as well. We see the upcoming exchanges as aimed at satisfactorily resolving the concerns that we have in a pragmatic and practical manner that will allow the signatories to move ahead with the process of ratification. Q Richard, can you run down what the differences of opinion are on this matter at this point? MR. BOUCHER: The basic issue is Soviet failure to meet the treaty obligations. I don't have the specific rundown for you. I think the last one that was done was by the Secretary and Bessmertnykh in Kislovodsk, and we can get that for you. Q It was done by an Administration official right after that? MR. BOUCHER: I think it was done by the Secretary a little bit, as well. Q Richard, does the State Department have any observations on Mr. Aziz's interview in The Post and the reforms that he talked about? MR. BOUCHER: You are interested in democracy for Iraq? Q Yes. Q Do you think they made a mistake, Richard? (Laughter) MR. BOUCHER: We have an abundance of irony today. On the question of mistakes, his assessment of Iraqi mistakes is an understatement. (Laughter) Iraqi officials are understandably cautious, however, about discussing these matters in public. We have consistently urged the establishment of democratic practices in Iraq as we do elsewhere in the world. We are skeptical, however, of any claims of movement in this direction so long as Saddam Hussein is in power. We think we have ample reason for skepticism.

[Ethiopia: US Urges Roundtable Talks]

Q Richard, what do you have on Ethiopian peace talks and the U.S. role in such? MR. BOUCHER: Both the Ethiopian government and the insurgents have called for a cooperative effort by all factions to create a peaceful transition to more democratic forms of government. The United States wishes to be helpful in fostering a peaceful settlement to Ethiopian disputes. With this in mind, we are planning to organize a round table meeting of the Government of Ethiopia and the principal insurgent groups in the next few weeks. Assistant Secretary Cohen will chair the meeting. I don't have a time and a place yet. Q To follow up on that, the rebels have accused the United States of delaying food supplies in an effort to try to press them to negotiate? MR. BOUCHER: The answer to that is, food is being delivered to northern Ethiopia through a variety of routes. Our policy is to use the best possible means to get food to where it is needed. That is currently being done using the Ethiopian ports of Massawa and Asseb. There are back-up possibilities to these ports, and at this point, nothing has been cut off. Q Was there no sort of hiatus at all? MR. BOUCHER: Absolutely none that I'm aware of. You are aware of the difficulties that we faced last year, I guess, with the opening of the port of Massawa. But since it has been open, I am told nothing has been cut off. Q Richard, is there anything new on Ethiopian Jews? MR. BOUCHER: At this point, the rate of departures of Ethiopian Jews remains about where it was for the past month or so, an average rate of about 250 people a week. You, I think, probably noted that when Senator Rudy Boschwitz met with the President on Monday, the President indicated that we had some encouragement from the Ethiopian government on this score, and Senator Boschwitz indicated that as a result of his talks, he hoped that we would see some lifting of restrictions on emigration soon. Q Richard, on this round table, the war that has been involving the shifting cast of characters, who do you understand would actually take part? What parties? MR. BOUCHER: The Government of Ethiopia. The insurgent groups that would be invited are the Eritrean People's Liberation Front, the Tigrayan People's Liberation Front, and the Oromo Liberation Front. Q Would the Soviets be invited to the round table? MR. BOUCHER: That I don't know. Q Richard, does the State Department still consider the Soviet Union to be a super power? (Laughter) MR. BOUCHER: You are referring to a speech by Bob Gates in Vancouver yesterday. I looked at the speech this morning. He was describing the U.S. role in the world. He was justifiably proud of the strengths of the United States, but basically what he was describing, if you read the full context, was how we work with other governments. He was talking about the new world order. I think you will remember that the Secretary has pointed out that in this crisis, we were in the best position to take the lead. We worked with other governments to create the coalitions that managed to solve it, and that's the kind of role that we see for ourselves in the world, in terms of working with other governments. Q On that same speech, is it now the policy of the U.S. Government that there will be no relaxation of sanctions against Iraq as long as Saddam Hussein is the proprietor? MR. BOUCHER: Again, I go back to what the President has said many times. There will be no normal relationships with the United States or many other countries by Iraq as long as Saddam is in power. The President said the sanctions are going to stay there as far as we are concerned. We note that in the resolution that provides for periodic review of the sanctions, that the review is based on the policies and practices of the Iraqi government as well as the implementation of the U.N. resolutions. Q Yes, but the President has never stated it as categorically as Bob Gates stated it in public yesterday: that as long as Saddam Hussein is in power the U.S. will continue to impose sanctions on Iraq. Is that a new U.S. position? MR. BOUCHER: Well, I pulled up the quotes from the President. I didn't really see that much differece, but if you want to ask if there is a difference between Bob Gates and the President, I think you ought to ask Marlin. Q Richard, just to come back to a quote that was in one of the papers this morning. In it he said that today no one questions the reality of only one superpower and its leadership. Would the State Department concur with that opinion? MR. BOUCHER: Again, I really think I explained to you how I saw the speech. I read the speech. We said different things about the U.S. leadership role in the world before, and I didn't find the speech that surprising, frankly. Q One more on Ethiopia, have the parties that you listed, have they agreed to attend this round table wherever it takes place? MR. BOUCHER: At this point, the arrangements are still being made. Q Richard, you said in the last couple of days that the U.S. is still considering the matter of agricultural credits to the Soviet Union. A number of leaders of the republics, including the Baltic republics, have suggested that the United States should make credits available directly to individual republics. Is that under consideration as well, as opposed to the Soviet Union? MR. BOUCHER: I hadn't really heard of that angle on it, and you know the President addressed the general issue this morning. Some of our previous shipments, the medical supplies that we transported, for example, in February, went in to the Baltics as well as Ukraine. So that has been the case with some previous things that we sent in.

[Bangladesh: Situtation Update]

Q Can I move on to Bangladesh? Obviously you issued a situation report this morning. Can you go back to whether or not the United States is going to provide helicopters for Bangledeshis, and if you could respond to the government's decision that it needs about $l.4 billion to rebuild? MR. BOUCHER: Let me take the opportunity to answer your question on helicopters once again, and then to give you kind of a rundown that is a little broader than the rundown of specific steps that you will get in the situation report that we put out. On the issue of helicopters, our position, first of all, is to note, as you will see in the situation report, that India has loaned five helicopters to Bangladesh for the emergency. I was asked yesterday about Pakistan. Also in the situation report it says that Pakistan is sending two helicopters to Bangladesh. If helicopters turn out to be the best use of scarce resources available for emergencies in Bangladesh and around the world, we will pursue that option along with other options such as boats that I talked about. Let me take the opportunity to sort of give you a rundown of what is being done and the kind of approach that we and others are taking to the problems in Bangladesh. Forgive me, it is long. I hope you find it interesting. The Bangladesh government has established a centralized relief mechanism, including a donor coordinating group, under the Ministry of Finance, and a relief operations cell under the Military Supreme Command. The Bangladesh army has been given control under civilian government authority of all relief operations. The United Nations is one of a large group of well-organized donors actively assisting Bangladesh. The United Nations Disaster Relief Organization is taking the lead among U.N. agencies as the foreign donor coordinator. So that's the general organization of the effort. Of course, in a disaster of this magnitude, in addition to what we have done, there is always more to be done. Our approach to that is to note first of all that the Bangladesh government and donor community is faced with responding to several tiers of need. The most immediate one is getting water, oral rehydration salts and food to the survivors of the cyclone in the remote coastal areas and offshore islands. In addition, our mission in Bangladesh estimates that at least 2.7 million people are seriously at risk. Most of these people are being reached by land or water. They have a long and sustained need for the relief that will help them rebuild their homes and reestablish their livelihoods. While stocks of water purification tablets, basic foods and other essentials are already in country, the second phase of relief will be replenishment of those supplies. Based on assessments from our Mission, we are responding to the disaster in both near- and long-term ways. In addition to the measures that we have announced previously, to respond to the most immediate needs, the U.S. is planning to send a C-5 transport plane to Bangladesh this weekend. This will carry medications and high protein food supplements. In addition to that, there is a consignment of half a million dollars worth of oral rehydration salts that are being flown from Zurich this weekend as part of the U.S. relief effort. Again this weekend, we are flying a shipment of disaster relief supplies into Bangladesh from Okinawa on a C-l4l transport plane. With the $5 million that I announced yesterday, we are making cash grants to non-governmental organizations to procure in Bangladesh and distribute life-sustaining food, medications and shelter. Some of the $5 million grant is also being used to step up domestic oral rehydration salts production in Bangladesh, and this will be used to combat dehydration as a result of dysentery and other diseases. The donor community, in coordination with the government of Bangladesh, is assessing the longer-term needs of the affected people. We delivered 67,000 tons of wheat to Bangladesh six weeks ago under our grant food aid program. On Monday, the U.S. Agency for International Development authorized $70 million for Bangladesh under the 1991 PL 480 Grant Food Aid Program. Wheat supplies under this program can arrive in Bangladesh within three months to replenish the stocks being drawn down during the current emergency. In addition, at the end of May, the donor community will meet in Paris to discuss the needs of Bangladesh in the wake of the cyclone disaster. Q So you are not prepared at this point to respond directly to the request, government request, for over a billion dollars for restructuring. Do you think that should await the May Paris meeting? Is that it? MR. BOUCHER: Well, since there are various tiers, and we are doing these tiers, sort of as we proceed, we are working on the most urgent needs, planning for some of the nearer-term replenishment kinds of needs, and looking at the long-term needs. I can't give to you sort of an exact total of how much that will amount to in the end. Q I may be wrong on this, but my understanding is that the government has requested more helicopter support, and is there a reason we are not able to respond to that need? MR. BOUCHER: The position that I have given you over the past several days is the one that I have given to you today, that the important thing is to get relief to people who need it; that we think that most of the people are being reached by land and by boat. Some countries have already sent in helicopters, and there are helicopters operating as part of this relief effort, and if we find that helicopters are a good use of scarce resources, we will also be willing to look at that again. Q Richard, is the $5 million that was authorized earlier this week part of the $70 million that was authorized on Monday? MR. BOUCHER: No. Five million was cash grants for non-governmental organizations. We talked about the 67,000 tons of wheat that were in country. I think the value of that was $l4 million, if I remember correctly, and in addition to both of those, this is the 1991 grant of PL 480 food assistance for Bangladesh that comes to $70 million. That food will be used to replenish supplies in country that are being drawn down now. Q All right. So for an ignorant foreigner, where does that come from, the $70 million? Is that out of (inaudible)? Does it come from the Hill? Where does that money come from? MR. BOUCHER: That comes from the normal aid program. I would assume that PL 480 food aid has been part of our aid program for Bangladesh over many years. Q Do you have a more detailed description of what will be aboard the C-5 and the C-141 in a dollar value perhaps? MR. BOUCHER: I don't have that at this point. I'll see if I can get that for you. Q Okay. Q Thank you. (The briefing concluded at 1:10 p.m.)