US Department of State Daily Press Briefing #113:
Source: State Department Deputy Spokesman Richard
Description: 12: PM, Washington, DC
Date: Jul 15, 19917/15/91
Region: MidEast/North Africa
Country: Iraq, Yugoslavia (former), Croatia, Slovenia,
Subject: Mideast Peace Process, Regional/Civil Unrest,
Democratization, United Nations
(ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED)
MR. BOUCHER: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen.
Let me start off with a housekeeping announcement: We won't
have our regular press briefings here on Tuesday and Wednesday
of this week. Tomorrow you'll find the Secretary is going to
hold a press conference in London at approximately 12:00 noon
our time, so we'll leave it to him tomorrow. On Wednesday,
President Bush will be having a press conference and probably
several other opportunities, and I certainly won't want to try
to run any competition with him. So we'll see you again in this
room on Thursday.
Q I'm sorry. What is Baker's press conference
about? Why is he having it?
MR. BOUCHER: Why is he having it?
Q What occasion?
MR. BOUCHER: He's briefing on the summit during the
Q Which summit? (Laughter)
MR. BOUCHER: I'll leave you to research that on your
As usual, we'll have our Press Officers available to
answer your questions during the course of the day on Tuesday
The other thing I thought I'd start off with is, I have
some information on Iraq and the food situation. It has been
something in the news. I think there was a press conference
this morning in Geneva -- or there was supposed to be one -- and
I thought I'd just run through that for you right off the top
before we get to the questions that you want to ask and I won't
Elliot Richardson, who was a member of Sadruddin Aga
Khan's assessment team to Iraq, met with Assistant Secretary
John Bolton this morning. They discussed the report of the team
on the food situation in Iraq.
I want to point out there has never been any question
about our willingness to feed vulnerable groups in Iraq. You
remember what the President has said in the past on humanitarian
assistance, on the need to get food to needy people. He said we
would help, and indeed we have been supporting the efforts of
UNICEF, the ICRC and others who are operating inside Iraq to
bring food, medicine, potable water, and things like that to
needy people. We've also, I think, provided you with pages and
pages of the notifications to the Sanctions Committee of what
was being sent.
Our view has always been that humanitarian needs can be
met within the existing sanctions regime. But at the same time
we're cognizant of the fact that Saddam Hussein has proven that
he can't be trusted. The President talked yesterday about the
sanctions issue and about the diversions which have taken place.
I think that's ample evidence of the need to look at this
situation very closely.
We think that any mechanism developed to provide
essential supplies to the Iraqi people must include strict
control and close monitoring. We are closely consulting with
members of the Security Council and with our coalition partners.
We would note that since food shipments were permitted
by the Sanctions Committee on March 22, shipments of over 1.1
million tons of food have been reported to the Sanctions
Committee by various bodies. That amounts to one ton for every
18 Iraqis. And we note that not all food shipments have been
reported to the Sanctions Committee. Medicine, of course, has
never been subject to sanctions -- not under the old resolutions
nor under the new ones.
We would also note a study by two Tufts University
nutritionists. The study was commissioned by UNICEF. Their
conclusions were that while there were problems with
malnutrition, particularly in southern Iraq, these problems are
endemic due to longstanding Iraqi Government policies.
Dr. Jean Mayer, President of Tufts, said, "The Iraqi
Government appears to be using food as a weapon by cutting off
the shipment of food and medical supplies to the southern part
of the country. This situation must be monitored closely."
We are prepared to work with international support and
other members of the Security Council to move rapidly to support
humanitarian assistance under a regime that ensures that food,
medicine and other humanitarian items get to needy people and
are not diverted by Saddam Hussein. And that's what we're
talking to our allies about.
Q Can I ask a question about that, Richard?
MR. BOUCHER: Sure.
Q A Congress person proposed -- I believe last week
that he spoke to the President and to probably State Department
officials -- to unfreeze part of the three or two billion Iraqi
dollars in this country to U.N. agencies, with which those
agencies could buy food and medicine to send to Iraq. Has
anybody here made a decision on that? Are you familiar with it?
MR. BOUCHER: I'm not aware of any decisions on this
point as to exactly how we are prepared to proceed. I said it
was something that we're consulting with our allies about.
There are various ideas out there, and we're talking with allies
Q But the Iraqis have actually complained that they
lack the money with which to buy more food.
MR. BOUCHER: And in addition to that, they have over
the last, I guess it's two or three months, when requested by
the Sanctions Committee to provide information on what money
they did have and what resources they did have domestically --
they have not provided that information.
Q Richard, you said that the humanitarian -- it's
long been the U.S. view that the humanitarian needs can be met
within the existing regime, and yet you keep talking about
formulating this new mechanism with partners and allies on the
international scene. Is that a tacit admission that everyone
else wants to do more than the existing regime allows?
MR. BOUCHER: No, it's not. It's a reference to what
the President said yesterday, that he won't have our people
voting to lift sanctions as long as Saddam Hussein is in power.
The existing regime provides for the maintaining of sanctions:
with the authorization -- well, the free movement of medicine
that is not covered and the authorization by the Sanctions
Committee for various other shipments as might be necessary to
meet humanitarian needs.
But it just basically means we think the humanitarian
needs can be met without changing the existing pattern of
sanctions that are laid down.
Q But there is a new mechanism of some kind being
MR. BOUCHER: We are looking at ways that we can ensure
that any authorized humanitarian shipments -- looking at
mechanisms and ways of ensuring that they get to the people who
really need it.
Q Richard, on that point and following up Ghassan's
earlier questions, this group last week suggested that the food
that would be bought with the unfrozen assets then be
distributed through UNICEF. Is that the sort of thing that the
United States would find acceptable -- UNICEF actually
distributing and administering the humanitarian program?
MR. BOUCHER: Without focusing on one particular
organization, what I said was we thought that there should be
strict control and monitoring of anything that went out there.
So, yes, that kind of thing is what we have to look at.
Q What about Iraqi oil revenues? Is that something
the U.S. has agreed to allowing?
MR. BOUCHER: Again, there has been an Iraqi request to
export some oil. That request has been up in New York with the
Sanctions Committee for lo these many months, as Iraq has failed
to provide the information the Sanctions Committee requested on
So there are various things that are being looked at as
to money and monitoring and things like that, but I don't have a
specific mechanism or a specific procedure to outline for you
today. It's just something that we're talking about with our
Q Are you in fact considering to unfreeze some of
the Iraqi assets to U.N. agencies such as UNICEF and others?
MR. BOUCHER: I am not at this point able to go into
specifics of how this might be done.
Q Richard, what's the purpose of this new regime? I
mean, what is the ultimate goal here? Is it to say, you know,
until Saddam is out of power we're not going to lift the
sanctions? Is that really the aim?
MR. BOUCHER: No. The aim is that we're aware of the
humanitarian needs in Iraq. These have been studied and
reported by various people. You have a new U.N. report coming
out today after Sadruddin's assessment that points once again to
the humanitarian needs.
We're trying to point out that we've always been
concerned about these, that there are provisions and ways for
them to be met under the existing procedures, and that we are
consulting with other countries to move as rapidly as possible
to make sure that those needs are being met.
Q Richard, over the weekend the Independent in
Britain reported that UNICEF officials in Baghdad had disagreed
with Dr. Mayer's conclusion from that Tufts' study, and said
that they stuck by the Harvard study, report, initially. And
the question I would have with that is that the Harvard report
points to the infrastructure problem -- power generating, water
supply and other things that you haven't addressed.
Do you still feel these are not legitimate issues to be
discussed within the context of the sanctions and the
MR. BOUCHER: I'm not going to take sides between Tufts
and Harvard, so I'll have to defer on that. These questions of
exactly what is needed -- I referred to the possibility of food,
medicine and other humanitarian items. I think that's the way
the U.N. resolution addresses it, and that's the way we'll
address it with the allies.
Q Richard, was there any kind of a separate note
from Elliot Richardson suggesting some kind of political
contacts be resumed to improve the Iraqi/U.S. relationship?
MR. BOUCHER: We spoke to him this morning, as I
mentioned. We haven't had a chance at this point to consider
the report of what he was told by Iraqi Ministry of Defense
officials. I think you have seen some reference in the Iraqi
press to statements that they made to him about desire to
improve relations with the United States and things like that.
I would note that what is needed from the Iraqi
Government is not more offers of improved relations but in fact
full compliance with U.N. Resolutions 687 and 688, including
Iraq's obligation to fully disclose its chemical, biological and
nuclear capabilities and to cooperate fully with U. N.
Q Is there any consideration of sending any American
diplomats back to Baghdad?
MR. BOUCHER: None that I've heard of.
Q Richard, on the subject of compliance, is there
any guidance this morning of whether the latest Iraq list
satisfies information requests?
MR. BOUCHER: Let me try to clarify what we know of the
latest Iraqi list. We have not received an official copy of
what their letter is, nor have we been able, of course, to study
We understand, however, that the latest document from
the Iraqis is not the full list of Iraqi nuclear facilities and
equipment which U.N. Security Council Resolution 687 demands.
Rather, it's a response to questions, specific questions, posed
by the chief U.N. inspector about Iraq's previous declarations.
We sincerely hope that Iraq will provide a complete
declaration of its nuclear program, but we have seen a number of
previous so-called "complete" declarations, and frankly we're
Q Well, one of the requirements for improving
relations is not the removal of Saddam Hussein. The U.S. can
have improved relations with Iraq with Saddam Hussein in place?
MR. BOUCHER: I certainly didn't say that; and as the
President spoke very eloquently about it yesterday, I stand by
what he said.
Q Britain apparently weighed in with it's the
support of the use of force as well if needed to resolve this
situation of nuclear facilities in Iraq. Do you have anything
about what sort of consensus may or may not exist now for allied
military action in this case?
MR. BOUCHER: No, I don't.
Q When does the bombing begin? (Laughter)
MR. BOUCHER: You can ask the Pentagon. (Laughter)
Q Can you help out any on the Syrian letter?
MR. BOUCHER: Not really. You have seen the Secretary
characterize it and talk about it yesterday. The President and
Marlin Fitzwater both discussed it this morning.
Q But that was based on a preliminary reading, they
hadn't read the whole thing, and I thought the intervening time
might helped clarify it.
MR. BOUCHER: Well, I think the President said this
morning that our analysis was continuing; but he said, as the
Secretary said yesterday, that we saw the response as positive,
that it represented real movement, that it represented movement
of Syria farther along in the peace process than we had ever
Q Press reports have --
MR. BOUCHER: So they have had another, well, twelve to
eighteen hours to look at it, and that remains their judgment of
Q In press reports last night about the letter,
there was no mention of the hostage situation. Is there in the
letter, to your knowledge?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't have any more details for you on
the letter, Bill.
Q Do you know when the contents of the letter are
going to be shared with the Israelis?
MR. BOUCHER: No, not precisely. I'm sure we'll be
talking to the Israelis -- we probably are talking to Israelis
and others about the situation, where we stand in the peace
Q What about the possibility or likelihood of a
Baker trip to Syria or Israel?
MR. BOUCHER: That's something for the party to
contemplate, for them to make decisions and announcements on
when they do.
Q You don't know if he is going to?
MR. BOUCHER: I said, it is something for the party to
contemplate, for them to announce anything they might like on
Q Last night, Baker said that he wasn't sure if the
letter contained any new conditions or not. Is that still your
reading of the letter?
MR. BOUCHER: No. As the President said this morning,
our analysis continues. He and the Secretary are both out in
London; some of the experts are with them there. They obviously
have copies of the letter. They are in contact with experts
back here, and as the analysis proceeds they will determine what
the next steps are.
Q Richard, do you anticipate that the analysis will
take as long as it took for the letter to get here?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't have any way of commenting on
Q Do you have a date for Ambassador Glaspie's next
appearance before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee?
MR. BOUCHER: No, I don't. To bring you up to date,
General Scowcroft responded to questions over the weekend. Had
the Secretary been asked, I'm sure he would have responded in
On Friday, Deputy Secretary Eagleburger requested that
he and Ambassador Glaspie be permitted to appear before the
Senate Foreign Relations Committee at the Committee's earliest
convenience. At this point, the Senate Foreign Relations
Committee has not yet responded to our request.
Q It's Thursday.
MR. BOUCHER: Excuse me?
MR. BOUCHER: Thank you, Chris. We'll double check
that and see if this afternoon we have any more detail to
Q What is the State Department's position on the
cables? Apparently the Committee would like to see them, or
hadn't yet seen them on Friday.
MR. BOUCHER: We have provided large numbers of
documents to the Committees, including the cables.
Q Will they be provided to us?
MR. BOUCHER: At this point, the question of releasing
the cable is something on which our position has not changed.
Q But you have at least released it to the
MR. BOUCHER: The Committee had it, yes.
Q Why did you request the hearing?
MR. BOUCHER: There had been charges, accusations,
questions raised by members of the Committee, and we wanted to
go up and respond to any questions that they might have.
Q Richard, does the Department still stand behind
MR. BOUCHER: As General Scowcroft explained over the
weekend, we have faith in Ambassador Glaspie's reporting. She
sent us cables on her meetings based on notes that were made
after the meeting. She also provided five hours or more of
testimony in front of the Committee about the series of meetings
that she had, including this meeting with Saddam Hussein.
Q Well, were there any inconsistencies between what
she told the Committees and what she reported in the cables?
MR. BOUCHER: If anybody perceives such
inconsistencies, I'm sure that she and the Acting Secretary of
State will be happy to respond when they go up and see the
Q Would the Secretary be going with Ambassador
Glaspie if he were not out of the country?
MR. BOUCHER: That's a hypothetical, but the --
Q Just checking.
MR. BOUCHER: The Acting Secretary said that he was
taking this action on the Secretary's behalf.
Q The last U.S. troops pulled out of Iraq today. Do
you have any comment on that?
MR. BOUCHER: Not really. The Pentagon did a rather
extensive briefing on it on Friday. I think the only question
hanging at that point was the arrangements for the deployment of
the force to Turkey. The Turkish Government issued a statement
on the 12th -- I guess that was Friday -- saying that they were
happy to host this force on their territory. So things are
proceeding as planned.
Q Richard, I'd like to go back to Glaspie for a
moment. We have not had a briefing since these accusations by
Cranston and the Hill were made, and I think you and the
Department are in a position to say if there is inconsistency in
your view between the cable reporting and her testimony, which
of course is public. And you just haven't made an answer to
that simple question.
Is it your view that there are inconsistencies between
MR. BOUCHER: Chris, I want to leave something in
anticipation of the prospect that the Deputy Secretary and the
Ambassador will be able to go up and talk to the people on the
Hill, and that's exactly the kind of question that I'm sure they
will be asked.
We note that she wrote a cable after her meeting. As
is the practice with most cables, cables reporting meetings from
the field emphasize what the foreign leader said rather than
what our Ambassador said. That was the nature of this cable.
She also provided, as I said, abundant testimony that
amplified and expanded on what happened in that meeting, and, in
fact, in her whole series of meetings.
Q Richard, can I ask just one more on Syria, please?
Can you confirm that the positive response from Syria
really relates to, as it has been reported, two issues -- U.N.
participation and continuation or continued conference? Is
that, in general, your understanding of what Syria has responded
MR. BOUCHER: Again, the Syrians put out, I think, a
characterization of their response. I'm not in a position to go
into more detail on it.
Q Can you say what, in your view, is the next step
in this process?
MR. BOUCHER: My view of the next step is that people
much senior to me will consider the next steps.
Q Do you anticipate an announcement from the
travelling party today about the Secretary's possible changes in
MR. BOUCHER: Again, people much senior to me will
consider what the next steps are with that, too.
Q The old pay-grade argument, isn't it?
MR. BOUCHER: Exactly.
Q Are the technical negotiators meeting on the
remaining START problem today?
MR. BOUCHER: We have people in Geneva. Our negotiator
is heading back there. I think he was here over the weekend.
The experts are looking at the remaining START issue, and will
be addressing that -- the possibility exists to address that at
various levels. I don't have anything precise for you at this
Q They are not meeting here?
MR. BOUCHER: There are no meetings with the Soviets
going on here, if that is what you are asking. No.
Q Richard, can we get the logistics straight here a
little bit? It's about 6:30 in Geneva. Have they been
negotiating all day now, or where do things stand? And wouldn't
they have to complete these details by tomorrow night,
essentially one more day, for Bush and Gorbachev to announce a
summit on Wednesday?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't have any more details for you at
this point, Steve, on what may have been discussed today in
Geneva, if they had discussions there in Geneva today.
As I said, the experts are looking at this remaining
issue, and we will be addressing it further. The possibility
exists at various levels, but I don't have any precise plan of
attack for you at this point.
Q Thank you.
(The briefing concluded at 12:39 p.m.)