US Department of State Daily Press Briefing #118, Wednesday, 7/24/91

Boucher Source: State Department Deputy Spokesman Richard Boucher Description: 12:15 PM, Washington, DC Date: Jul 24, 19917/24/91 Category: Briefings Region: MidEast/North Africa Country: Iraq, Yugoslavia (former), Croatia, Slovenia, Serbia-Montenegro, Israel Subject: Mideast Peace Process, Regional/Civil Unrest, Democratization, United Nations (ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED) MR. BOUCHER: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. I'd like to remind you of a briefing this afternoon at 3:00. We'll have an ON-THE-RECORD briefing on economic assistance programs for Central and Eastern Europe. We'll have with us an illustrious cast of the Director of AID, the Director of USIA, John Robson from the Treasury Department, and Michael Boskin from the Council of Economic Advisers. That's 3:00 p.m. in this room. I think you probably will have seen the press release that AID did last Friday giving you some more detail on the grants. With that reminder, I'd be glad to take your questions. Q The Soviet Foreign Ministry has responded to the flap over the SS-23s, calling it an "ancient" issue and trying to dismiss it as being not very important. Have you seen their response? MR. BOUCHER: I just saw the wire on it. The Soviets had provided to us an interim response to our request for clarification -- the request that I discussed yesterday. I would just point out, the latest is part of a series of communications on the issue that we've had with the Soviets during the past year. We've discussed the issue extensively with them at sessions of the INF Special Verification Commission as well as through diplomatic channels. Yesterday, I was asked, "How many were there?" My information is that last year the Soviets said they had transferred 24 SS-23 missiles armed only with conventional warheads to each of the following countries: the former German Democratic Republic, Czechoslovakia, and Bulgaria. So that gives you a total of 72 missiles. We continue to believe that all SS-23s should be destroyed, and we've conveyed that belief to all concerned governments. Q Have you found out if the Soviets also transferred any disarmed nuclear warheads, as some people claim? MR. BOUCHER: I don't think we've made a determination on issues of detail like that. Q Are you asking about that? MR. BOUCHER: I'm not going to go into the details of what we might have asked for clarification for, but there are a number of issues that we have to examine as part of our review of compliance. Q Presumably, that would be a violation of INF; right? MR. BOUCHER: I don't want to start charging violations of INF at this point. I said that we are -- as I said yesterday, we're continuing to review information. The Soviets and we have had a series of discussions of this. They've provided us with various information that we've asked for, and we will review that and make our determinations at the appropriate time. Q Richard, do you see any particular urgency to try to clear this up before the summit and START is signed? MR. BOUCHER: I'm not aware of any summit-type deadline on this. Q Do you have any clearer understanding today as to when your newest report on this is going to be done? MR. BOUCHER: I'm afraid not. Q About the Middle East, if I may. Does the United States have an understanding with Israel that Palestinians from East Jerusalem would not be participating in the first stage of negotiations? MR. BOUCHER: I've seen the wires on that. At this point, I have to stick with what the Secretary said in Jerusalem and what he's been saying since then. And that's that the issue of Palestinian representation has been under discussion with the Israelis, the Palestinians, and others. We're going to discuss it with them, and we're not going to negotiate this through the media. Q Are there further discussions to be held? The discussion is still going on, isn't it? MR. BOUCHER: Again, I'm not in a position to go into specific details of discussions either, but the issue is one that has been and, I believe, continues to be under discussion. Q Do you have any comment on the statements made by two of the representatives of the Palestinians in East Jerusalem who said that, "Without East Jerusalem Palestianians, there could not be any peace"? MR. BOUCHER: Again, like the Israeli statements, I've seen people quoted in wire stories, but we're not going to respond to these comments and start negotiating through the media. Q Not just people being quoted; Faisal Husseini is a real person, and his name is on the quote. He's not anonymous, like a lot of American officials. MR. BOUCHER: Some of these people you can even see on television. Q Yeah, actually (inaudible) on "Nighline" almost any night. But there he is saying that the talks won't start unless the Palestinians from East Jerusalem are there. MR. BOUCHER: Barry, I'm not doubting that these people have said what our honorable colleagues in the news media have shown and printed for us. I'm just saying that I'm not going to get into the back-and-forth in a public session. Q What's the Secretary current travel plans? MR. BOUCHER: He is in Kuala Lumpur again tonight. He'll be leaving tomorrow for Mongolia for a series of meetings and events there, and he goes on to Moscow on Monday. Q What day? MR. BOUCHER: Monday. Q Richard, can I go back to the SS-23s for a moment? As I recall, the INF Treaty was global. That is, it wouldn't make any difference if weapons were transferred or moved out of the European region. It was world-wide. So even if such a transfer took place before the signing of the INF Treaty in December '87, such a transfer would be implicitly a violation of the treaty, would it not? MR. BOUCHER: Jim, at this point, number one, I'm afraid I'm not an expert on the INF Treaty. But in any case, the issues of compliance are things that we have to look at. I've been telling you for 2 days now that we haven't made those kind of determinations on compliance. So interpretations of the treaty is just not something I can get into for you now. Q Maybe you could ask one of your experts to take that, because an SS-23 anywhere in the world would presumably be a violation of a treaty in which all of those weapons -- intermediate-range weapons -- were to have been destroyed. MR. BOUCHER: Jim, I will check with the experts, but I don't want to try to get us into saying things that would imply -- that lead you to conclusions about compliance with a treaty that we have not drawn at this point. Q Could I ask you another question about the Soviet Union? The Soviets appear to have applied for full membership in the World Bank and the IMF. Does that correspond with what the G-7 countries suggested in London? MR. BOUCHER: Jim, the Treasury Department, I think, has addressed this, the White House has addressed it, and I'm about to address it, and I think you'll find the language somewhat familiar. First of all, we think, obviously, the Soviets do have a right to apply to join the IMF and the World Bank. We'd point out, as I believe was pointed out during the summit itself, that the process of becoming a member is a lengthy and complicated one. It involves a whole number of factors, both for the country joining and for the organizations. We think that special association with the two institutions, which was proposed by the President in December and which was endorsed at last week's London economic summit, makes sense now. A special association will give the Soviets access to the expertise and the technical assistance of the two institutions right now to help them move forward on a sound market economic reform policy. We continue to regard the issue of membership as premature. We believe that special association provides the most effective way for supporting Soviet economic reform. Q Does that mean that you would oppose, if it came to a vote, full membership? MR. BOUCHER: At this point I can't exactly predict that. I think our view is given here that the consideration at the summit was given to the President's proposal that they be given special association with these institutions and that that was done because we felt that that was the best way of getting to the Soviets the kind of expertise and technical advice that they really need right now. Q Richard, back to the Middle East, if I may. Do you have any comments on Mr. Shamir's new positive comments on the Syrian reaction to President Bush's letter? MR. BOUCHER: I really don't have anything to add at this point. I think the Secretary has spoken a number of times about the situation, and we'll just see how it develops. Q I don't remember that the Secretary ever commented on Mr. Shamir's attitude toward the Syrians. MR. BOUCHER: He talked about the situation and the prospects for resolution, and where we stand, and things like that. I'm just afraid I don't have anything to add at this point. Q Can I go back to the IMF one more time? To the extent that even though the United States -- and you again today reiterated a strong position in favor of associate status, the fact that you don't say you would vote against a full membership application really leaves open the possibility that you will vote for it. Do you mean to do that? MR. BOUCHER: Carol, as I explained, the process of becoming a member, it's a long and complicated process. It's one that will involve a number of factors, both for the Soviets and the members of the organizations themselves. At this point I think that's somewhat down the road and probably premature for me to try to predict some specific vote. I've told you why we went the way we did with our proposal in London. We've told you why we think it offers the kind of assistance the Soviets need and can use right now, and I've told you that the issue of membership to us is one that's premature. Q Are you aware that the Soviet Union applied for full membership a day before Gorbachev even got to London? Are you aware of the timetable? MR. BOUCHER: Let me check on that. Q Do you know those things you want the Soviets to do to be more Western, more market-oriented -- the report that they might sell off 30% of their automobile industry to private investors, do you have some comment? Is that the kind of free enterprise you'd like to see? MR. BOUCHER: I don't have anything specific on that, Barry. We've talked about privatization and how important it is, we think, to the process of economic reform. I have not tried to address specific sectors. Q So do you have any reaction to the Senate vote yesterday on MFN for China? MR. BOUCHER: Marlin gave our reaction this morning. I don't have anything to add to that. Q There's been an uproar in Venezuela over the increased drug traffic in that country and the role of the DEA in trying to control it -- the existence of alleged lists supplied by the DEA to the government regarding the prominent politicians down there. Do you have any comment on that? MR. BOUCHER: First of all, let me start off by telling you there isn't any such list. We checked around this morning, and that turns out to be the fact. We think that our anti-narcotics cooperation with Venezuela is excellent. Our bilateral efforts focus on working with the government to strengthen law enforcement and interdiction efforts at all major land, sea, and airport sites; to assist the government's efforts to create stronger legal, judicial, and administrative measures against illegal drug activity; and to work to promote demand reduction and drug abuse education. Venezuelan President Perez stated on June 21 that he was personally committed to leading the war on drugs. He promised to unify Venezuela's anti-narcotics efforts, control money laundering, reform Venezuela's drug laws, and promote a national drug awareness campaign. In addition, Venezuela has ratified the 1988 U.N. convention against drug trafficking and has signed an agreement with the U.S. to share information on investigations of money laundering. Venezuelan authorities have seized nearly six metric tons of cocaine so far this year, an impressive increase over 1990's total of four metric tons. In short, we applaud Venezuela's determination to fight the scourge of illegal drugs, and we will continue to help them to do so. Q Richard, I have a question on the press meeting that's coming at 3:00 p.m. Is there any special significance to the fact that Mr. Catto is participating in that conference? MR. BOUCHER: One of the things that's being done, that they will be talking about, are grants to 32 institutions for economic training and education programs for Central and Eastern Europe, and USIA is involved in those grants. Q Thank you. MR. BOUCHER: Thank you. (The briefing concluded at 12:30 p.m.)