July, 1991

US Department of State Daily Press Briefing #109, Monday, 7/1/91

Tutwiler Source: State Department Spokesman Margaret Tutwiler Description: 12:40 PM, Washington, DC Date: Jul 1, 19917/1/91 Category: Briefings Region: MidEast/North Africa, Subsaharan Africa, Eurasia, East Asia Country: Iraq, Yugoslavia (former), Croatia, Slovenia, Serbia-Montenegro, Israel, Liberia, Ethiopia, South Korea, USSR (former), China, Lebanon Subject: Mideast Peace Process, Regional/Civil Unrest, Democratization, United Nations, Trade/Economics, Arms Control, Security Assistance and Sales (ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED) MS. TUTWILER: Two matters: One, as you all know, the White House has announced the President will be having a press conference at 2:00 p.m. today. I believe that's in Kennebunkport, Maine. As you know, when the President is going to do a press conference that close to when we are, a lot of the things that you may be interested in asking me, I will be deferring to your colleagues who are traveling with the President. Second of all, in order -- Q They'll be asking him about a Supreme Court nomination. Q That's right. MS. TUTWILER: But I bet they'll be asking him other questions also, if I guessed. The other matter is, it is my current plans to allow everyone to have a long vacation with their families, to not plan on a State Department formal briefing here on Friday. We'll obviously be at work, and if there is a need and there is obviously something urgent that's going on in the world, then, of course, we would be prepared to have a briefing for you. With that, I don't have anything else. Q (No response) MS. TUTWILER: Anybody? Q Deferring to UPI. MS. TUTWILER: Go for it, Frank. Q Yes. Do we have a letter from the Syrians? This seems to be a reasonable question. MS. TUTWILER: To be honest with you, I literally forgot to ask this morning if we have one. I haven't seen it, and I haven't heard about it. Q All right. Do you have any comments about the situation in Yugoslavia? It seems to be quieting down a bit. MS. TUTWILER: Overall, a situation update is that in our opinion, the situation remains tense, but the cease-fire arranged through the mediation of the EC over the weekend is holding. Federal and Slovenian authorities are making progress in their discussions on arrangements for the withdrawal of federal forces to their barracks. We hope that these negotiations can be completed swiftly. We urge that all sides ensure that their forces avoid any provocation, and we applaud the election of Mr. Mesic as President, and we accept his election as unconditional. We are encouraged by the fact that Croatian President Mesic has assumed the post of chairman of the collective presidency of Yugoslavia after a delay of 7 weeks. His selection is in accordance with the constitutionally mandated 1-year rotation of the Yugoslav presidency, as you all know. Q May I clear something up? Did you say that there was a reply from the Syrians, or was I in a fog? MS. TUTWILER: No. You were in a fog. I said that I literally was in such a fog I forgot to ask this morning, and I have no idea. If we have had one, I haven't seen it, and I haven't heard about it. Q Thank you. MS. TUTWILER: You're welcome. Q Back on Yugoslavia for just a second: Does the United States have a position on whether those who are actually running the military in Yugoslavia ought to abide by the authority of the civilian leaders of the federal government and comply with the orders to withdraw? MS. TUTWILER: Its my understanding, Ralph, that that is how their system is set up under their constitution. As you know, the collective presidency, consisting of representatives of the six republics and two autonomous regions, controls the army. The absence of a chairman during the past 7 weeks has weakened this authority, in our opinion, and we expect that the installation of Mr. Mesic on Sunday will contribute to bringing the army under closer civilian control. Q Margaret, in Africa, do you have any comment on -- Q No, no. Q OK. Continue then. Q On Yugoslavia, can you tell me what the State Department or U.S. position is on the question of diplomatic recognition for the republics? Eagleburger said on Saturday that the President and the Secretary never said "never." MS. TUTWILER: They didn't ever say "ever" or "never." But, as you know, I will refer you -- and I believe you were on the trip with us, and the Secretary addressed himself to this question, I believe, in nine different public press briefings while we were there, and I'll just refer you to the record. Nothing has changed, and Larry, in his one interview he did this weekend -- I've spoken with him this morning, and I've also read the transcript -- did not say anything different from what the Secretary has said, and, to be perfectly full in my reply, anything different than I'm aware of of any other country has said. Q Can I just follow up on that? MS. TUTWILER: Sure. Q It did certainly leave a question in my mind -- Q May I have a follow-up on this, please? MS. TUTWILER: When she finishes, sure. Q -- whether or not he was either finding some new nuance or suggesting that there could be a change in the future concerning U.S. recognition or non-recognition of independence for the different republics. MS. TUTWILER: As I mentioned, I spoke myself in person with the Deputy Secretary this morning. There's no confusion in his mind. There's none in mine. And, to be honest, when I read the transcript, there wasn't. As you know, in our statements here from the podium -- in the Secretary's and the President's -- in our general statement of policy, which I'll be happy to restate, we have all said that we recognize national aspirations of people, but that our overriding concern had been -- when we were there last Friday [June 21] and up until that point -- is should these two republics declare, as they did, their independence, that there would be violence and bloodshed, as indeed there was in less than 24 hours. We have also said -- I know I said last week -- that, of course, it is up for all the Yugoslavian people to determine what it is they would like, but under peaceful means. And that's why we have all been stressing so hard, as have all the countries of the world, dialogue and negotiations on this -- not this violence that erupted. That could, I would have to assume, if this doesn't work out, erupt again and be even worse. Q But do you think that the U.S. and European emphasis on keeping Yugoslavia unified, perhaps encouraged or allowed the army to attack, as it did over the last couple of days? MS. TUTWILER: I would hate to think that in any way we somehow inadvertently could have contributed to that. I don't ascribe to the fact that we did. I believe that what we've all done -- and you have seen the pressure -- there have been, as I believe, two EC trips just in the last 2 days. Every public statement that I have seen from every European leader and from others, including, as I mentioned last week, the Soviet Union, has been stressing as forcefully as we can with words that the way to go here is through dialogue and negotiations -- not through violence on either side. And, remember, on Friday we did point out that we were concerned about the excessive use of force, as I believe we stated it, of the Yugoslav Army. Q Margaret, on Iraq, has the Department heard anything from the U.N. about its meeting yesterday in Iraq? MS. TUTWILER: Not a lot. I don't have anything that's a lot different, to be honest with you, than is being reported this morning in the news media on their meetings. I believe they've had two to date that I know of. I believe they have a third scheduled with the Deputy Prime Minister. They had met with Mr. Tariq Aziz. And no, I don't have anything new on their mission there. The only new thing that I have for you today, you are aware of what all went up until that point is that today the inspection team -- not the high-level team -- went back to the Al Fallujah site, and, when they were there, they found the place empty. Q Surprise! MS. TUTWILER: Big surprise. Right. Q Margaret, the delegation, though, is reporting that in their talks with Deputy Prime Minister Aziz -- they made no progress toward resolving the dispute over compliance with the U.N. resolution. They're going to have another meeting to deal with this. How does the U.S. feel about the U.N. having to, in effect, go and beg for something that I think the U.S. certainly thought had already been agreed to? Q The President said it had been. MS. TUTWILER: And the President, I'm sure, will be asked a number of questions, I would envision, in less than 2 hours at his press conference concerning this situation. I will characterize it as you have accurately reported, and in fact your network [CNN] has been reporting a lot today, that we do not have any disagreements with concerning how these talks have gone. They haven't produced a whole lot. And we understand that the Iraqis continue to refuse to offer any assurances beyond those to cooperate with the U.N. inspection teams. Specifically, they have refused the high-level delegation's request to be taken to see the equipment that the inspection team saw and videotaped on June 23 and 28. Q May I also ask about those videotapes, Margaret? Does the U.S. think they ought to be made public? MS. TUTWILER: I asked this morning, Ralph, figuring that I would be asked, and I don't have an answer for you yet. Q Do you know where the material -- the equipment went from Fallujah? MS. TUTWILER: I can't answer that. That would fall into an intelligence matter. Q Margaret, the presidential statement from the U.N., I believe, called for meetings at the highest level with the Iraqis, didn't it? MS. TUTWILER: It says, "Baghdad to convey to the highest levels of the Iraqi Government the Security Council's demand for unequivocal assurances that the government will provide immediate, complete, and unimpeded access to the U.N. inspection teams." Q Does that mean Saddam Hussein? MS. TUTWILER: I don't know if that's what they intended or not. As I stated, they have already had two meetings. I believe they have one more scheduled that I know of with the Prime Minister tomorrow. Q Would the United States be satisfied if they came away without having met with Saddam Hussein? MS. TUTWILER: I can't answer that; that's hypothetical for me. It would depend on not only what is said in these other three meetings -- they've had two which I've characterized as not necessarily productive to date. The third meeting they've having with the Prime Minister. And I can't answer for you based on that. But, again, it will not, in my opinion, only be the words that are said; it will be actions. I mean, on the ground. Q Margaret, the Iraqi Government on Friday -- there were a number of conflicting statements about all this, but at one point, the Iraqi Government, in effect, claimed that there was no such equipment, it was never there, and so on and so forth, raising the -- at least the potential for a dispute over what exists and what doesn't actually exist there. I hate to sound as though I'm harping on this one little issue, but I think that the evidence is important. The United States has evidence of the equipment in terms of photographs, and the United Nations IAEA organization does. Shouldn't that evidence be made public so that the Iraqis can't get away what some might call a big lie and just simply say it doesn't exist; it hasn't happened? MS. TUTWILER: I don't believe -- with or without whatever decisions are made concerning this film footage -- that they have a whole lot of credibility with many people that I can think of on the face of this Earth as far as their word or who's lying and who's not. And we could go through chapter and verse of things that that government said they were going to do, all the way back to -- if you remember -- "guests" and I believe there were thousands of them back in last August and June. If you can remember the devastation they have wracked there in the Persian Gulf on oil spills. I mean, there's any number of things where they have said one thing and another. One clearly comes to mind: If you remember the reason they invaded Kuwait, as I recall, was because of the Palestinian question. That was certainly mysteriously dropped for the last 3 or 4 months during this episode. So, I mean, I don't think that any of us need visual proof. After all, this delegation that is there is made up of scientists and specialists from a number of nations; I cannot remember off the top of my head how many nations. There is no reason in the world why they would fabricate anything like this. Of my own I haven't seen it, but I don't have a reason in the world to doubt that what they have said through their reporting cables, both to the IAEA and to the United Nations, has gone on. Q Again, I don't want to beat a dead horse here, so stop me if I get to that point. (Laughter) MS. TUTWILER: No problem. Q He will. MS. TUTWILER: We don't control this. Q But there's another audience there, and that is the President of the United States has said in the past that he wishes the Iraqi people -- or at one point the Iraqi military would take matters into their own hands. The audience is not just outside Iraq; the audience is inside Iraq as well. And, if Saddam is able to somehow persuade most of the military in Iraq that this is just a case of lying by the outside world, then there's no possibility of anyone taking matters into their own hands inside Iraq. MS. TUTWILER: Not to beat a dead horse to death, as you say, but I'm not positive that even if the world saw all these pictures, these pictures will be seen inside of the Iraqi country themselves. I believe they have a very tight control system on what they do show to their people or not. Second of all, I'm not sure how much of their communications equipment is currently up and running. But I will be glad to ask. As you know, the IAEA is, obviously, a completely and independent agency. I do not know what their views are on this. I have not heard, Ralph, anyone say that they would not be willing to show these photographs publicly, but I can't go out on a limb for you and tell you when they get to the United Nations, that some people aren't going to have a strong case to say not to do it. But I haven't heard anybody yet debating that issue. Q Just for the record, the U.S. still refuses to release its own evidence which it showed to the United Nations last week? MS. TUTWILER: Yes. Q Margaret, if the Iraqi Government has such a dismal record of credibility, why is the United States and the other members of the coalition prepared to accept any agreement that the Iraqi Government would make with the Kurds? MS. TUTWILER: I'm not aware, number one, Jim, that a final agreement has been reached; in fact, I've read just the contrary, unless something's happened this morning. And I'm not sure that that is something that the United States or the coalition has to feel comfortable with. It would seem to me that's something that the Kurds, represented by their leadership, need to assure themselves they're comfortable with. Q The withdrawal of U.S. and coalition forces from that part of the world would seem to indicate that the United States and its partners are willing to accept Iraqi assurances that there will be no attacks on the Kurdish people. MS. TUTWILER: I'm not sure that we've discussed that, Jim. What we have been about, as you know in this mission, was a humanitarian mission to assure these people, who were in conditions where they were dying, safe passage back to their homes. It's my understanding -- and I don't have the actual number today -- there will be 500 U.N.-type international organization observers in northern Iraq in this area to ensure that there is nothing further that goes on; that these people would not have returned. The last time I looked, I believe two-thirds of the people of Dohuk specifically had returned to their city. There are probably more now. No one put a gun to their heads to return. They obviously felt that there was a situation where they felt they had some guarantees and assurances of their own safety. Q You mentioned the figure of 500. That was the plan. But the last time I saw there were less than 100. MS. TUTWILER: The last time I saw it, that's correct. The last time I saw it, we were in -- where were we last? I can't remember. Berlin? Where was it? Right -- the CSCE meeting, and that was a week ago. I just hadn't checked in. Q Do you know if the controversy over the Iraqi nuclear arms preparations has affected the timetable for withdrawal of American forces from Iraq? MS. TUTWILER: Not that I'm personally aware of. Q Margaret, the French Foreign Minister, Roland Dumas, was in Jordan over the weekend. He said if it turned out that Mr. Baker's efforts for peace-making in the Middle East were getting nowhere, one would have to take another look at the French proposal for a Permanent Five meeting. Are the efforts going anywhere? MS. TUTWILER: I can't characterize whether they are or they aren't. As you know, we are in the same position today as we were on Friday. The President is waiting for a response from President Assad of Syria. Once you either are told affirmatively you're never going to get a response, or you conclude you're not going to get a response, or you get a response, then the President and his senior advisors will take a look at where we are and make an assessment at that time. Q Can I ask you about Africa? MS. TUTWILER: Yes. Q Liberia -- peace talks in Liberia: Do you have any comment about what's the substance of them? MS. TUTWILER: I don't have a lot for you, Jan. I have a very lengthy statement that we'll be happy to post for you at the end of this. Basically, the United States welcomes and supports the initiative taken this past weekend by the President of the Republic of Cote d'Ivoire. As you know, we believe that the statesmanlike interventions by the Presidents can significantly assist the parties in moving closer to full implementation of the ECOWAS peace plan, particularly the establishment of an independent electoral commission which will hold free, fair, and open elections and in furthering meaningful negotiations leading to a binding political settlement between the contending parties. Q By the same token, do you have anything on discussions in Ethiopia? MS. TUTWILER: Not a lot. As you know, this is something that was planned when they met, I believe it was last month in London. It is something, obviously, we welcome. We are represented at these meetings by the Assistant Secretary here, Hank Cohen. Q Do you have a comment on the occasion of the Korean President, Roh Tae Woo's visit here today? Do you have details posted about the U.S.-Korean bilateral matters like trade or the North Korean nuclear matters -- something like that? MS. TUTWILER: No. That is something obviously that will be discussed. I believe it's what -- a 2- or 3-day visit. The visit begins this afternoon with the arrival of the President. Secretary of State Baker will be meeting him. As you know, I believe he has a full set of meetings tomorrow with the President, so I don't have anything to say in advance of the meetings that will be held by our government. Q Margaret, to go back to the Iraq for a moment, do you have the letter from the Security Council -- from the President of the Security Council -- to Iraq about the nuclear issue? MS. TUTWILER: Do I have it? Q Is it available? MS. TUTWILER: Is it a public document? I've seen it. I don't know if it's public or not. MR. BOUCHER: I'm not certain. MS. TUTWILER: I don't know. I'll check, Mary. I just don't know if they made it public or not. The contents and the substance of it are out there. I have not seen it, either reported in erroneously, and we, ourselves, addressed ourselves to what it contained on Friday. Q Do you have anything on the START talks? MS. TUTWILER: Reggie? (Bartholomew) No. We checked in this morning, and I believe Reggie said they had a number of meetings on Friday, and I could not get for you whether they met on Saturday or Sunday. I don't have -- which will come as a big surprise to you -- a characterization of how his hours and hours of talks are going. Q Is there any plan to bring him home any time soon? MS. TUTWILER: Eventually, he'll come home. Q But no plans -- MS. TUTWILER: An actual date yet? When he left, he left -- Q They're not going to well or so poorly that he's coming -- MS. TUTWILER: I haven't characterized them. When he left here, he left with a vague notion in his mind of when he would like to get back. I honestly just haven't checked with his staff. He left it open-ended on purpose to see how it went. Q Margaret, do you have any reaction or comment on moves in the Soviet Union toward privatization that are taking place? MS. TUTWILER: What new moves? Is there something new that's triggered this today? Q Yeah, right. There's news today that the Soviet Government is making major moves to basically sell what had been privately held businesses -- large amounts. MS. TUTWILER: I haven't heard that today. As you know, we, obviously, support and think that a free-market model is the model to go. We support any and all moves that they are making toward economic reform. But I personally am unaware of any major, new announcement that's been made this morning. Q Is Frederick Vreeland still in Lebanon? And what has he been doing there? MS. TUTWILER: I don't know that he's been there, and I don't know if he's there today. So I'll take your question and ask. Q On China: The Chinese leadership has just reaffirmed its commitment to communism and said that they would never permit opposition parties. In light of that, and the fact that trade pressures under the Soviet Union seemed to have worked at the opening up, while we want to favor China and grant them the MFN treatment -- most-favored-nation treatment -- does the United States have any reservations about this at all? MS. TUTWILER: I haven't seen -- what statement are you talking about? Who made a statement this morning? Q The Chinese leadership. MS. TUTWILER: I haven't the seen the statement. I'll be more than happy to look at it. As you know, our policy concerning whether it's China or anybody else in the world is well-known. We obviously support and believe in people being able to have a freedom of expression. If that manifests ifself in opposition parties, to use your phrase, we have that tradition and we support it around the world. I haven't seen a specific thing this morning from the Chinese leadership. Q You didn't read their declaration on the 70th anniversary of the Communist Party? MS. TUTWILER: Not this morning, but I'll do it this afternoon. (Laughter) Q Margaret, maybe you were asked about this on Friday. Did Secretary Baker take part in the meeting -- I think it was Friday morning -- with Cheney and Scowcroft? MS. TUTWILER: Yes. Q He did? MS. TUTWILER: Yes. Q And that meeting was discuss the refusal of Iraq to comply with U.N. resolutions? MS. TUTWILER: To be honest with you, that meeting had been on the Secretary's schedule for many days. It was not something that was the last-minute-put-on-Friday-morning. As I recall, it was 10:00 a.m. meeting. As you know, that morning was the morning we all realized, or were informed, that we had a second incident in Iraq. The President took the occasion during a previously scheduled meeting with his senior advisers, it's my understanding, to discuss the situation that had developed that morning. Q So the 10:00 meeting was regularly scheduled and Baker's 11:00 meeting was also regularly scheduled, so there were two different meetings? MS. TUTWILER: Correct. Q On the Iraqi matter: There was a nice proposal from the New York Times this morning that to lift the economic sanctions, to export oil, that the turnover should be -- the procedure should be turned over to the United Nations rather than into the hand of Saddam Hussein to feed the Iraqi people. Do you have any comment? The Iraqi people is in serious condition in the sense of food and -- MS. TUTWILER: That's correct. We have commented many times of the amount of food, medicine, and supplies that the international community, through international humanitarian relief organizations, has given to the people of Iraq. I don't have those figures with me today, but there were many, many metric tons of supplies that have been going in there. As you know, medicine, throughout this entire situation, was never curtailed. Food, it's my understanding, since the cessation of hostilities by the United Nations, has been lifted. I'll be happy to refer you to the record or get you updated factual numbers today of exactly what those amounts are. Q Margaret, should the U.S. feel that the U.N. procedures leading to allowing the Iraqis to sell oil again and the whole business about partition of their income, and that sort of thing, should all that be put on hold until compliance on the nuclear matter is resolved? Or should those procedures go ahead in the meantime anyway? MS. TUTWILER: I believe those procedures are going ahead, Ralph. My understanding is the committee has -- the Secretary General has recommended a 30% ceiling. As you know, our view is that it should be also the floor. It's my understanding that that has not been finally resolved -- ceiling, floor, or the number -- among the various members who have a vote on this. I would -- just being purely speculative -- have to imagine that the episodes of last week would certainly -- probably influence how some people are thinking. Q Margaret, further on in the Department's statement about China's admission that it was selling M-11 missiles to Pakistan, have you been able to clarify formally which missile exactly it was -- whether it fell within the missile control regime? MS. TUTWILER: If we have, I'll be honest with you and tell you I don't know. I'll be happy to look into this. I saw something on Friday on it. Let me just re-check with them. I didn't this morning. Q Also, a follow-up on that subject. Secretary Baker has commented about that, in effect. The record isn't out there, but, in effect, he has said that the U.S. would be very disappointed if the Chinese lied about what they had done. Does the fact that they've agreed, or accepted responsibility for selling these weapons to Pakistan absolve the Chinese Government, in the U.S. view, of its need not to sell them in the first place -- the fact that they haven't lied about them? MS. TUTWILER: You're asking me to comment on a hypothesis that you're making that I'm not positive just because, to be honest with you, I have not been in depth into this that I would rather duck and get into it this afternoon and be in a better position to respond to you tomorrow. I'm just not going to freelance with you on explosive type of words, such as "lying" and "non-lying." Q Margaret, forgive me if somebody already asked you this. I came in a couple minutes late. Is it true that the CIA a year ago predicted that Slovenia and Croatia would secede from Yugoslavia? MS. TUTWILER: Where did you get that, Mary? I haven't seen that. Q It's in the Washington Post today. MS. TUTWILER: I don't know. It's not something I saw. I haven't asked, and I haven't ever heard anyone talk about it. Without commenting and addressing myself to CIA, I think that over many, many months here, I know that we and others have been very concerned about the potentially explosive situation that existed there in Yugoslavia to the point of, as you know, the Secretary of State made a trip there and spent an entire working day that, as I recall, I think ended around 10:00 p.m. in his last meeting with the Prime Minister trying to say, please, do this through dialogue and peacefully, and the CSCE -- 35 nations -- issued a public statement at the conclusion of their meeting in Berlin, basically stating the same thing. So I don't think this is something that just popped on everybody's radar screen last week. Q No, but, Margaret, the point is that the Post article says that the CIA said a year ago, or last year, that this was going to happen. The question that obviously springs to mind is, yes, it didn't pop up on everybody's screen but they only acted a week before the country disintegrated. MS. TUTWILER: I don't think that we went there under any illusions that somehow we were going to prevent the trains that were leaving the station. I don't think anyone had those types of illusions. As you know, the EC troika had been in there before. I think that this is something that our government and all of the governments who have an interest in this and seeing this evolve peacefully have been watching it very, very closely; our Ambassador is there on the ground; our entire Embassy staff has. This is not something that came as a surprise to us. As I stated, nor did we go there to somehow think we could somehow prevent what people seem to be intent on doing. What it does show up is what we and the world community had been saying was, if you do this, there is a very good likelihood and chance that some innocent people are going to be killed -- they have been -- and that is going to be a very violent and -- I can't think of another adjective -- violent and -- Q Explosive. MS. TUTWILER: Right. Thank you. -- explosive situation, as the Secretary said when he was there; that you're sitting on a powder-keg type of situation. Q But, Margaret, the question is, if the CIA said last year that this was going to happen, why not go then? Why wait until now when it became an explosive situation? Why not act earlier? MS. TUTWILER: One, I don't know what the CIA said or didn't say a year ago. I will argue with you that I'm not sure whether Jim Baker went there on Friday on went there 16 months ago or 2 years ago or a year ago that it would have made any difference. Because having been there on Friday -- Friday -- before they did this, where they could still have not issued these declarations of independence, had they chosen to, it didn't make any difference, did it? We're not the only ones who have been there. Patrick asked me a question a minute ago about the French Foreign Minister. He had recently been there; the German Foreign Minister. There's a whole slew of people who have been there as far back -- I'm sure I don't know this -- as a year ago or longer when people saw this coming. Everyone's concern has been -- and I'm sure without venturing to speak for the CIA -- their concern, too, has been that somehow these people in this country figure out a way to, however they want to change their system, to change it peacefully. Q Is it the U.S. opinion that recognition of Croatia and Slovenia and Serbia would be a mistake by any other country, and the U.S. is advising not to do that? It's not serving the solution of this crisis? MS. TUTWILER: The United States has spoken to that question in the form of our Secretary of State, and our President, any number of times, and our policy hasn't changed today. Q Thank you. MS. TUTWILER: Thank you all. (Press conference concluded at 12:31 p.m.)