US Department of State Daily Press Briefing #92, Tuesday, 6/4/91

Tutwiler Source: State Department Spokesman Margaret Tutwiler Description: 12:05 PM, Washington, DC Date: Jun 4, 19916/4/91 Category: Briefings Region: MidEast/North Africa, E/C Europe, East Asia, Southeast Asia Country: Iraq, Kuwait, Philippines, Cambodia, USSR (former), Cuba, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, Lithuania, China, Israel Subject: Regional/Civil Unrest, Development/Relief Aid, Human Rights, Democratization, Military Affairs, Arms Control, Science/Technology, Mideast Peace Process (ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED) MS. TUTWILER: Barry, yesterday when you had mentioned -- and I know it was all mentioned in fun -- that sometimes you ask questions that you do not get responses to, I have a response today to your question of yesterday concerning mass graves in Kuwait.

[Kuwait: Mass Graves Investigation and Trails]

As I said to you yesterday, we had just learned of this, and that we would look into it. In fact, our Embassy personnel has been out there just this morning. We do not have from our preliminary visit by Embassy personnel to this site anything that would lead us to believe that there is a new massive grave. As you know, it was widely reported in March of this year that there was a massive grave there, but we do not have any evidence from this first preliminary look by the Embassy to say that this is something new. We will continue to follow up with this, and we will continue to look into it. Q Margaret, let me take the occasion to ask if you can give us the latest -- if you have one -- appraisal of whether the Kuwaitis are responding now positively to Mr. Baker's constant pushing of them to do the right thing in the human rights area? Has the situation improved at all, or are people still getting a kind of a justice that we don't consider proper? MS. TUTWILER: I don't think that I have for you an instant overall analysis, Barry. As you know, the trials that have resumed this week. Many would conclude there are many improvements that were made over the first set of trials. I don't know what caused that. I don't know if it was media pressure and attention -- if it was us weighing in, if it was other countries weighing in. That's one specific area that I can point to. But I don't have with me -- and I'm not sure the Department does -- as you know, we do this on a yearly basis, 12 months -- an overall assessment of human rights in Kuwait. But you know the President -- I believe it was at the end of May -- spoke with the Amir. He raised again at his level the concerns that we have. And, as you point out, the Secretary has raised them on the two times we have been in Kuwait. Before I take your questions, John Dancy asked me a question yesterday on whether the Department has a number concerning executions in China. What I can give you today is that according to reports from a variety of sources, including human rights groups, Chinese authorities have announced at least 49 executions which can be linked with the pro-democracy movement in 1989. All of those reported to be executed had been convicted on charges of committing violent acts rather than overtly political crimes such as counter-revolutionary activities. The vast majority of these executions occurred soon after June 1989. There have been no recent reports of executions linked to the pro-democracy movement. No death sentences are known to have been imposed or carried out as a result of any recent trials. Q That leaves the Japanese Steak House to clear up. MS. TUTWILER: I have that. Is Johanna here? It's more than you ever want to know. (Laughter) Do you really want to go through all this -- Q I was just being polite. MS. TUTWILER: -- or do you want me to give this to you afterwards? Q I'll take it after. MS. TUTWILER: O.K. It's a lot. Q Put it on the record. Q Who knows, it might -- MS. TUTWILER: Literally, you want to go through this? Q Why not? (Laughter)

[Department: Lease]

MS. TUTWILER: O.K. The Department's long-range facility requirements entail consolidation of its workforce currently located around the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area. Since 1987-88 the Department of State has considered the Berkeley Building at 1701 North Fort Meyer Drive a key State annex in the Rosslyn area. Since 1988, we have been interested in acquiring as much space as possible in the Berkley building for our facility management program. When the owner of the Berkeley building expressed an interest in leasing solely to government tenants and noted that none of the commercial leases which expired in 1991 would be extended, we began making plans to accommodate our requirements in that location. Once GSA leases the remaining space in the building, it will be totally occupied by Department of State functions. Security was not the major reason for acquisition of this space. Once the space is available, however, it will enable us to implement the security measures which are necessary to protect our people and property. And I know that Barrie [Dunsmore] is glad he's back over here on this beat. (Laughter) Q Will comparable food be served, or are they moving in the cafeteria that we have here? (Laughter) MS. TUTWILER: I don't know, Barry. This is all I know about this. Q Can we move along? MS. TUTWILER: What? Q Can we move along? MS. TUTWILER: Yes. Q O.K. Q Can we go back to China? MS. TUTWILER: Can we go back to what? Q China. You mentioned the Asia Watch, or I guess it's Asia Watch -- MS. TUTWILER: I said human rights groups. About the executions. Q Is this figure, though, tabulated by them or by the Chinese officials? I'm not clear on that. MS. TUTWILER: I believe, Hal, we have been able to pull this together in response to a question Mr. Dancy asked yesterday, according to reports from a variety of sources, including human rights groups and Chinese authorities. Q Both. MS. TUTWILER: Correct. Q Thank you. MS. TUTWILER: You're welcome. Q Margaret, as we are on human rights -- MS. TUTWILER: As we what? Q As we are on human rights violations, do you have any information about detentions on a wider scale in Saudi Arabia? MS. TUTWILER: Do I have information on detentions in Saudi Arabia? Q Yes. MS. TUTWILER: No, I don't. Q Will you take that question? MS. TUTWILER: I'll look into it. Q Margaret, also on the Middle East, today for the second day in a row there have been heavy Israeli air raids on Palestinian positions in southern Lebanon. One, does this indicate to you any kind of pattern? Is something happening there that is new, and is this pattern beneficial to the peace process that the Secretary has been trying to push? MS. TUTWILER: I can't say, Jim, in response to the first part of your question, that I would characterize this as any kind of pattern. And, as you know, whenever this happens, we have always spoken out and said that we would like to see this tragic cycle of violence end. Our policy has not changed today. And I would also say, as the Secretary has said, any violence in the region as a whole, obviously, does not contribute toward the efforts he's making on getting going on a peace process. Q And has the Secretary or anybody passed this specific message to the Israelis in the context of what's going on in southern Lebanon? MS. TUTWILER: Not that I'm aware of -- a specific message that has gone in the last 48 hours. I believe there have been two of these, for lack of a better word, raids in the last 2 days. I know the Secretary has not weighed in at his level with a phone call to the Foreign Minister, but I am positive that our policy and our views on this are well-known, and that, you know, someone at our Embassy may have raised it. I just don't know. I haven't asked. Q Margaret, what kind of cycle of violence are you talking about? These are unprovoked attacks. There was no cycle of violence. MS. TUTWILER: The entire pattern of a cycle of violence in this region, as you know, has been going on for many, many years, and we continue to voice our opinion concerning the overall violence in the region. Q But sometimes the Department issues statements condemning or deploring certain acts of violence. These acts of violence are being perpetrated against civilian targets. Today there was an attack on a school. There were 10 children, casualties. MS. TUTWILER: That's information that you have that I'm not aware of. Q This is on the BBC and CNN. MS. TUTWILER: Well, sometimes they're wrong. I just personally don't have that information right now. I will be happy to look into it at a greater level of detail. I will look into your claim that a school was bombed and -- what did you say? -- 10 children were killed? Q No, not killed. There were ten casualties. I'm not sure whether they were killed or -- MS. TUTWILER: "Casualties" in my mind usually means killed. And they were injured? Q Injured or wounded. MS. TUTWILER: O.K. I'll be happy to look into it. I don't know. Q Margaret, has there been a response yet from any of the parties to whom President Bush sent a letter within the past week? MS. TUTWILER: Not that I personally am aware of. Q Are you aware of the public statements made by Israeli officials who say that the presence of the U.N. observer at any conference is more than a trivial issue, something that they could not give in on? MS. TUTWILER: I don't know which Israeli officials you're speaking of. I haven't seen those comments this morning, but they are certainly in line with comments that I have seen since Secretary Baker has made his trip there. So I don't know what officials you're speaking of, but that doesn't come as any surprise. Q Margaret, the letters were described by the White House yesterday as similar. If in the letters the President asked one party to do something, would the others be aware of what he asked them to do? Are they that similar? MS. TUTWILER: Well, I try to kind of, as you know, refrain from doing Marlin's job over here. He was very disciplined yesterday in characterizing the President's letters, and I don't have, to be honest with you, a lot to add to what Marlin has already said. They are, after all, Presidential letters. Each one was to a different head of state, so there are obviously similarities contained within the text of the letters, but each one of them is not identical at all. Q Well, O.K. I guess that's about all you can do with it. I just wondered if -- you know, what kind of diplomacy we have, whether everybody knows what the others are being asked to do, or if private entreaties are being made to particular players? MS. TUTWILER: That kind of gets me across the line where I'd rather not go today, if that's O.K. Q Do you have anything further on the Secretary's trip to Copenhagen? Have there been any additions, subtractions? MS. TUTWILER: No. As of today, our current plans are -- tomorrow's Wednesday, right? -- to leave tomorrow morning and to return -- I believe it's on Friday night. Right. Q And no further meetings other than NATO meetings at this point? MS. TUTWILER: At this point. Q Margaret, on another subject -- MS. TUTWILER: I'm not being cute. I'm being totally honest. There is nothing that we have to announce. We always maintain that we have the prerogative to adjust to things that change on a daily and hourly basis. I'm not being cute with this. We honestly and truly -- those are our current plans. But I always say, I cannot rule out that the Secretary of State, today, tomorrow, Friday at 3:00, decides that he wants to add X. As you know, because you travel with us, when he adds X, we adjust and off we go. Q But you do understand that because plans change daily and hourly we must ask daily and hourly whether there's any change? MS. TUTWILER: That's right. That's correct. Q Margaret, on another subject. The Philippine Government is talking about something like a breakthrough on the base negotiations. Do you know of any changes? MS. TUTWILER: I haven't heard about a breakthrough. I asked about this yesterday. My understanding is that their Foreign Minister and Mr. Armitage are still in consultations. I believe Mr. Armitage is still back here -- correct? The last time I checked into this, the two outstanding issues were compensation and duration. I believe those are still the same issues that they're working on. Q The Philippine Government is saying that there's been a change in the U.S. Government position on duration. MS. TUTWILER: If there's been a breakthrough, it honestly has not been brought to my attention this morning either through the media or through the bureau here in the Department. I'm unaware of it. I was brought up to speed on the Philippines when we returned on Monday, and that's where I was on Monday. So I'll be happy to check for you. Q Could you check to see if there has been a change? MS. TUTWILER: Sure. Q A nearby area. The Cambodian talks ended yesterday in the Supreme National Council without a breakthrough, and a cease-fire was not renewed. Do you have anything? MS. TUTWILER: Sorry. I'll look at it for you. Q On the Strauss appointment, is there anything you can add to the tick-tock of how and when the decision was made? MS. TUTWILER: Not right here. Q On negotiations. In trying to finish the START treaty, is there some new mechanism that is about to be put in place, or are you just -- MS. TUTWILER: A new mechanism? Q Well, new or -- MS. TUTWILER: As you know, the Secretary said in Lisbon, when he was there with the Foreign Minister, that they were looking into the possibility -- to paraphrase him -- of a high-level experts' meeting in Geneva. There's no decision on that yet. There's no new next step to announce. This is something that the Secretary has discussed as recently as today with the President. This is something that as he and Foreign Minister Bessmertnykh said, both their governments would have to intensify their efforts. I can characterize his efforts, since he's been back at the Department, as intensive. Q Did he go over -- was this discussion at the White House today? Was it a telephone -- MS. TUTWILER: He had spoken with him on the phone any number of times today, not only on this subject but on other subjects. To be honest with you, I know he was at the White House for a congressional leadership meeting. I don't know if he spoke to him there about it or not. It is something that he will continue to work. As soon as we do know what the next step is, Barry, then, to my knowledge, we will inform you as soon as possible. Q Specifically, on Saturday, the President said he would instruct our negotiators to lean forward, I think was the phrase he used. Have new instructions gone to the negotiators as yet? MS. TUTWILER: Not yet. Q Not yet? MS. TUTWILER: Not yet. Reggie Bartholomew, the Under Secretary, as you know, is the high-level expert in this area. He's still here in the building. He was in discussions yesterday and today with the Secretary of State, obviously, and also with the other arms control experts, I'm sure, not only in this building but interagency. And, no, there is no, that I'm aware of, new, specific, and literal instructions that Mr. Bartholomew has. But I said yesterday, basically, what the two outstanding issues are, so we know what they are and what has to be accomplished to get it done.

[USSR: Show of Force in the Baltics]

Q There was a show of force by Soviet troops in the Baltic republics. This followed the publication of the report yesterday. Two questions. First of all, when you reacted, you reacted to a TASS report. MS. TUTWILER: Correct. Q Have you got a more substantive reaction today to add to what you said yesterday? And, secondly, do you have a reaction to the show of force? MS. TUTWILER: To answer one of your questions, no, I do not. We have not yet seen a report. We still only have the one report that was on TASS. We've obviously seen other news reports, and we leave our characterization as it was yesterday which is, obviously, that we find the conclusions of this report to be at odds with facts as have widely been reported. I only know, Alan, to be honest with you, of Soviet troop movements in Lithuania last night. You said the Baltics. I only know about Lithuania. Our understanding is that according to Lithuanian Government spokesmen, Soviet army troops carrying automatic weapons last night briefly set up three checkpoints near the Lithuanian Parliament building as well as an unspecified number of checkpoints elsewhere in Vilnius. The troops said that they were looking for Soviet army deserters. But after a few hours, they withdrew to their bases. No violence was reported, but three civilian employees of the Lithuanian National Defense Department were arrested. As of this morning, one of them is still being held. We do not understand how this latest display of force can be consistent with the expressed intentions of Moscow to avoid violence. We continue to urge that all outstanding issues between Lithuania and Moscow be settled by good-faith negotiations; that measures be taken to prevent incidents of this kind in order to lower tensions and actively pursue peaceful negotiations. Q A follow up. Last night, Bob Zoellick appeared on an interview on MacNeil/Lehrer. MS. TUTWILER: He did, indeed. Q He spoke of U.S. economic help for the Soviet Union being contingent on creating the right of political context. Do you think these kinds of moves create the right kind of political context? MS. TUTWILER: They obviously, Alan, are not what we have been urging, as you know, for these many, many months. I have just stated what our view is of this latest incident last night. I'm sure that when the President makes his decisions, as he always has, a number of factors go into his calculus, as he comes to his conclusions. Q Margaret, can I take it a step further? Is there any sense that somebody in the Soviet Union did this to embarrass Gorbachev on the very day that the President announces MFN -- someone who might be opposed to a better -- MS. TUTWILER: I've seen that speculated, but I don't have something from the Department that we would be willing to say is our view. But I have definitely seen the exact same speculation that you've just mentioned. Q When the summit was postponed -- go ahead. Q Have the views that you laid out here on the incident yesterday in Lithuania been communicated officially to the Soviet Government in Moscow? MS. TUTWILER: Not that I'm aware of, Mark, but I'll certainly be glad to ask. Q When the summit was postponed -- MS. TUTWILER: Excuse me. -- not to infer that our views are not well known on this, as you know, they come as no surprise to the Soviet Union. As you know, in almost every meeting that the Secretary of State has with the Foreign Minister of the Soviet Union -- the most recent one being in Lisbon -- the situation in the Baltics is something that the United States Government continues to bring up and to press on. As you know, our view of this is there should be a peaceful dialogue. Q When the summit was postponed in February, two reasons were given by the U.S. One is the unsettled conditions in the Persian Gulf and the other was START had not been completed. There was no mention of the Baltics. The situation then was even more tense than now. Is the situation in the Baltics a consideration so far as scheduling a summit? MS. TUTWILER: I don't know, Barry, literally what will determine the President's decision on determining whether or not to have a summit. I think he's been very straightforward and up-front, that he would like to have a summit. I believe as late as Saturday he said on the airplane coming back from West Point, "We would hope to have a summit." I would just have to refer you to his own record on Saturday. Q He said today, in fact, he expected a timetable might be announced in a few days. MS. TUTWILER: Marlin said yesterday, I believe, that should such a summit happen, the President was looking at the end of June or early July. Q Margaret, the last time you told us about Secretary Baker having a telephone exchange with the Middle East was when he had a telephone call to the Egyptian new Foreign Minister. MS. TUTWILER: Correct. Q Was there anything new after that? MS. TUTWILER: With the Foreign Minister who resides in the region? None that I know of. Q Margaret, returning to what we were talking about a couple of days ago, the Cuban nuclear reactors, there's a report that the Soviets have supplied the Cubans with some 70 pounds of enriched fuel. One, do you know if that is true? And, second, if true, is that in any way alarming? MS. TUTWILER: One, I've never heard of it, Jim, so I have to check the report out. Obviously, I would assume, if it were true, that it would be of great concern to us; but I know nothing about it so I'll have to ask. Q Thank you. MS. TUTWILER: Thank you. (Press briefing concluded at 12:27 p.m.)