US Department of State Daily Press Briefing #100: Tuesday, 6/18/91

Boucher Source: State Department Deputy Spokesman Richard Boucher Description: 12:38 PM, Washington, DC Date: Jun 18, 19916/18/91 Category: Briefings Region: MidEast/North Africa, East Asia Country: Iraq, Kuwait, USSR (former), China, Philippines, Israel, Panama Subject: Regional/Civil Unrest, Development/Relief Aid, Environment, Military Affairs, Immigration, United Nations, Mideast Peace Process (ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED) MR. BOUCHER: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. I don't have any statements or announcements today, so I'd be glad to take your questions. Q Mr. Bartholomew in China: Do you have a readout of the content of his talks? MR. BOUCHER: I don't, at this point. I understand he has given his press conference in Beijing. I don't have a transcript of that yet. We actually don't expect to get one until the morning. So for today, we look forward to seeing what your various agencies report from the press conference. Q There are another eight death sentences in Kuwait today. Do you have any comment on that? MR. BOUCHER: The question about specific death sentences in specific cases, I think, is one where we don't think it's appropriate for us to comment at this point on specific sentences, by and large, because we don't have all the facts on specific cases. As we've said before, we believe that death sentences should be reviewed. And as we've said before, there is a review panel that will look at every case. The convictions must be eventually approved by the Crown Prince. Our views on the need for due process have been conveyed to the Government of Kuwait. That's where we stand on this issue. Q Can you tell us, by any means, how the Kuwaitis are responding to your point of view? MR. BOUCHER: I think we've noted, in general, over the last several weeks, as the trials have occurred, that we and other international observers, as well as people inside Kuwait, have raised various concerns and that we've seen responsive steps from the Kuwaiti Government to take those concerns into account. So that generally has been the pattern over the past several weeks. Q Would you say that what the U.S. risked and did for Kuwait gives the U.S. any special leverage? They don't seem to be paying a lot of attention to the various statements that are made. Justice is still not the kind of justice, I think, the U.S. would prefer. MR. BOUCHER: Barry, this is similar to the question that the Secretary was asked on the Hill last week. I think I'll basically stick where he was -- that we have influence, that we have used it. We have conveyed our concerns, and we've seen some response to those concerns.

[Philippines: Volcano Activity and Base Negotiations]

Q Richard, there are reports that the Philippine base negotiations have now been suspended in light of the earthquake -- or, rather, the volcano eruption. MR. BOUCHER: There are also reports on the other side that say there's some sort of review going on. There is no formal policy review underway. We've checked this morning with our negotiators, and they tell us that they are assessing and discussing the situation with U.S. officials in Manila and in Washington. Given the magnitude of the disaster which has befallen the Philippines, the U.S. is completely focused on assuring the safety of Americans and aiding our allies to the maximum extent of our capabilities. We think it would be unseemly for the U.S. to attempt to parlay these events into some sort of negotiating advantage, and we won't attempt to do so. Once we have from the military services an objective operational assessment of the situation, then we would consult with our Filipino allies in order to determine how best to bring these negotiations to a close in a manner which reflects the facts on the ground and the interests of the parties. Absent this assessment, policy reviews and discussions concerning negotiating objectives are essentially meaningless. Q It may be unseemly, but, obviously, the volcanic eruption has, to some extent, altered the value of the U.S. bases, certainly, in the short term in the sense that they have to be cleaned up; and then in the long term, with the possibility it might happen again at a most inconvenient moment. Has that not entered into U.S. considerations? MR. BOUCHER: As I said, Jim, these elements, of course, have entered into U.S. considerations. And as I said yesterday, it's impossible to tell how they will affect the base talks. As I said today, we're focused on helping out the Americans there, helping out our Filipino allies who are suffering this tragedy. Once the full extent of the damage to the bases is clear, once we have an operational assessment on the bases, at that point, it's possible to put together some assessment. But at this point, it's just not possible to tell. Q What's the difference between an "assessment" and a "review?" You're talking about an operational assessment, and then you seem to use the word -- MR. BOUCHER: "Operational assessment" means how much ash there is and how many hangers have fallen down. Q You conclude that by saying that we'll do an assessment, meaning a review. I think that's what you meant. What's the difference? MR. BOUCHER: I said that there would have to be an assessment before we could really address the questions of how this will affect the negotiations. Q Isn't that part of the overall review? You're denying that there's a review. MR. BOUCHER: There's no overall review going on at this point. We're saying, at the point at which the disaster has been taken care of -- since that's what we and the Filipinos are dealing with right now -- at the point when that situation has stabilized, then we expect there will be an operational assessment of the bases to see what condition they're in. After that, we would then be in a position to determine whether and how that affects the base negotiations and, as I said before, how to bring the negotiations to a close. Q So there's no discussion right now at all of the future of the bases themselves? MR. BOUCHER: At this point, we think it's not possible to really determine how the volcano eruption is going to affect that. Q Richard, is the current assessment covering the existence of nuclear weapons at the two bases? MR. BOUCHER: The question of neither confirming nor denying the presence of our nuclear weapons is something that Pete Williams has addressed, and that's something I will leave to him. Q On Yeltsin: Even such basics -- will anybody from State be out there to see him in, and how does State figure in this? Congress is wildly enthusiastic and the President -- you know, we'll have him in to the White House. MR. BOUCHER: As you know, Secretary Baker is not in town. The President will be meeting with him on Thursday -- I believe Marlin probably announced -- and our Acting Secretary, Mr. Eagleburger, will be attending that meeting. Q Will there be anybody in the -- is State any part of this arrival arrangement that you know of? MR. BOUCHER: I don't think so. I'll have to double-check that. Q Concerning that matter, Yeltsin's party hopes that Yeltsin probably could be described as international sovereign identity and prepared to become an EC member even. What is (inaudible) to recognize the recent (inaudible) as an international sovereign identity? MR. BOUCHER: That gets us into very legalistic issues that I probably don't have the proper explanation for, but basically he's the leader of the Russian Republic, and that's the way we deal with him. Q Are there any developments on the quest for a Middle East peace conference? We haven't talked about it for a couple of days, so maybe from the Syrians or from others? MR. BOUCHER: Like have we gotten a letter from the Syrians? Q Yes. MR. BOUCHER: No. Q Got a letter from any of the other participants? MR. BOUCHER: We can reconfirm the ones that we got before that Marlin's already talked about, but I don't have any new ones to add to the mix. Q The Secretary said last week before he departed that they were expecting a letter from Syria "very soon." MR. BOUCHER: He said that our Ambassador in Damascus had been told to expect one soon. Q What's "soon"? Today? MR. BOUCHER: That remains where we stand. Q Do you have any update on that? MR. BOUCHER: No. No update on that. Q Any development with regard to the Presidential proposal for arms control in the Middle East? MR. BOUCHER: Any development? Q Yes. I mean toward the conference of the suppliers and -- MR. BOUCHER: The Secretary said last week that all the parties -- all the five would attend. John Kelly talked about it more in testimony yesterday. The dates are in early July. I can't remember them off the top of my head. Q Is Bartholomew still in Beijing, and do you have anything to report on whether China -- MR. BOUCHER: That was the first question. Q Oh, was it? I'm sorry. MR. BOUCHER: Yes. Bartholomew is in Beijing tonight. I think he leaves tomorrow morning, Beijing time. Q Were you asked about Chinese sales? MR. BOUCHER: I understand that Bartholomew has given a press conference, but I don't have the transcript of it, and I'm afraid I don't expect it until tomorrow morning. So we look to the wire services to tell us what he said. Q Richard, the Russians are said to be looking at some real estate here in Washington with a view to establishing a representation. Would that fall under the rule of reciprocity in U.S.-Soviet relations, or would they be free to do that? MR. BOUCHER: I think we have to review it if they want to acquire property. I don't remember exactly under what statute -- what the position is. As you know, U.S. states have a large number of offices overseas, and some other countries have state governments that have offices in Washington. So that's the context that we would see this in. It would be a non-diplomatic office. Q Richard, on Panama -- the project of doing away with the Panamanian army? Do you have a reaction? MR. BOUCHER: I'm afraid I hadn't heard about that. I don't have anything on it. Q I don't know if you've been following the accounts of the AIDS conference in Florence. There have been some harsh things said about U.S. policy about admitting aliens with AIDS. Do you have any reaction? MR. BOUCHER: No. I don't have anything on that. Q Can you look into that, please? MR. BOUCHER: I'll look into it. I think the United States is represented there and that we are able to state our position there. I'll see if we have anything here for you.

[Iraq: UN Resolutions]

Q Richard, the U.N. Security Council has passed a new resolution on Iraq, and it's been awhile now since the big resolution -- 687 -- was passed. Do you have an overall assessment of Iraqi compliance with 687? MR. BOUCHER: I'll have to get one for you. We had one the other day, but I don't have one that's up to date at this point. I think it's safe to say that in several areas, their compliance overall falls short. That was pointed out during the discussions a week or so ago about the idea of lifting sanctions. Q Do you have a gloss on what happened yesterday? MR. BOUCHER: What happened yesterday was that there were two Security Council resolutions adopted unanimously. They both implement elements of U.N. Security Council Resolution 687. The first one was on the Special Commission; this is Security Council Resolution 699. They approved the Secretary General's plan to organize the work of the Special Commission on Weapons of Mass Destruction. That commission, of course, was tasked with overseeing the destruction and/or rendering harmless of Iraq's chemical, biological, nuclear, and ballistic missile capabilities. The resolution also makes Iraq liable for the full cost of the work of the Special Commission while underscoring the need for immediate reimbursable contributions from other U.N. member states to allow the commission urgently to carry out its work. The second resolution was on arms embargo guidelines; it's U.N. Security Council Resolution 700. It approves the guidelines submitted to the Security Council by the Secretary General to facilitate full international implementation of the continued arms embargo against Iraq which is mandated by U.N. Security Council Resolution 687. The resolution asks U.N. member states to report to the Secretary General within 45 days on measures they have taken to implement the arms embargo. The Sanctions Committee has also been given the responsibility for monitoring the implementation of the arms embargo. Q Thank you. (The briefing concluded at 12:50 p.m.)