US Department of State Daily Press Briefing #124, Thursday, 8/22/91

Boucher Source: State Department Deputy Spokesman Richard Boucher Description: 12:51 PM, Washington, DC Date: Aug 22, 19918/22/91 Category: Briefings Region: MidEast/North Africa, Eurasia, Caribbean, Central America, South America Country: USSR (former), Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Lebanon, Cuba, Jamaica, Bolivia Subject: Mideast Peace Process, Regional/Civil Unrest, Democratization, United Nations, Terrorism (ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED)

[Jamaica/Boliva: Enterprise for the Americas]

MR. BOUCHER: If I can, I'd like to start out by pointing out a step forward to the President's Enterprise for the Americans Initiative that I hope you'll all be interested in. Q Right on the news, hey, Richard? MR. BOUCHER: This is important. We can walk and chew gum at the same time around here. In another step forward for the President's Enterprise for the Americas Initiative, the U.S. will sign agreements with Bolivia and Jamaica relieving significant portions of their debt for PL-480 food aid. In furtherance of the objectives of the EAI, the U.S. will also forgive all of Bolivia's debt for Agency for International Development loans. The remaining PL-480 debt will be rescheduled. Interest payments will be applied to environmental projects in each country, as allowed for by the EAI. Bolivia and Jamaica qualify for debt relief under EAI because of their recent economic reforms, including entering into agreements with the IMF and commercial creditors and opening their economies to foreign investment. A signing ceremony for Bolivia will take place at 3:15 p.m. today in the Indian Treaty Room of the Old Executive Office Building. Jamaica's ceremony will be held on Friday, August 23, at 9:30 a.m. at the Treasury Department. Reporters interested in covering these events need to contact Treasury at 566-204l for more information. Q How much money are you talking about in terms of debt relief? MR. BOUCHER: I'm sure that will be in the fact sheets that are put out at the time. You can call that number for more information. Q It's a 900 number. (Laughter) MR. BOUCHER: With that, I guess we'll just turn and take your questions.

[Secretary: Vacation Schedule]

Q Richard, as best you know, what is the Secretary's plan now? He was to leave Andrews at 10:00 and see the President, but Gorbachev has been on saying some interesting things. Will the Secretary -- what is the schedule as best you know? MR. BOUCHER: The schedule was to leave Washington this morning, go to Kennebunkport. He's having lunch and then a meeting with the President. That's the schedule for today. Q And, again, coming back after Labor Day is the plan? MR. BOUCHER: That's right. He'd go onto Wyoming. Of course, that's as it stands now. Should he go on to Wyoming, of course, he'd be in full, complete, and constant communications with us and with the President.

[USSR: Situation Update]

Q I have a couple of questions. There has been a proposal for a meeting of Yeltsin, Gorbachev, and President Bush, and some other world leaders. Is there any response to that? MR. BOUCHER: I haven't seen that proposal, but that's a good question to ask at the White House. Q My second question would be on the Baltics. Why the situation has changed is rather clear -- or not quite as rather clear -- but to some degree as in the rest of the Soviet Union. Latvia and Estonia have joined Lithuania now in declaring full independence, and Yeltsin has asked that the Western countries, including the United States, to grant formal diplomatic recognition. What is the United States response to that? MR. BOUCHER: Our policy, I think, on recognition is well-known. We, first of all, are closely monitoring the rapidly changing situation in the Baltic states. I can give you an update on that, if you wish. As you know, we've never recognized the forcible incorporation of the Baltic states into the Soviet Union, and we recently have had frequent contacts with officials from the Governments of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania. At this time, there's been no change in our policy, but we look forward to the expansion of contacts with these governments. We will continue to support their aspirations to self-determination, and we'll continue to encourage the peaceful achievement of that goal. Q Richard, if the Charges of the legations of Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia were to present their credentials as ambassadors -- change the title from "legation" to "embassy" -- would they be received? MR. BOUCHER: That's what we call a hypothetical, Norm. I'm not aware there's anything like that happening. Q What do you mean by "expansion of our contacts with them"? MR. BOUCHER: Continue to expand our contacts with them in a variety of ways. Q Does that lead to diplomatic recognition as independent states? MR. BOUCHER: At this point, as I said, there's been no change in our policy. We continue to support their aspirations for self-determination and do what we can to encourage the peaceful achievement of that goal. Q But you're expanding contacts with many of the republics. MR. BOUCHER: That's true. Q Baker met with the Foreign Minister of the Russian Republic -- it was the fourth meeting. Is the United States going to conduct foreign diplomacy with 15 Soviet republics as well as with Moscow, do you know? MR. BOUCHER: Barry, that gets into the question of sort of -- we have a whole range of relations with the Soviet Union. We have business to conduct with the center. We have business to conduct with the republics. You know over the past 2 years -- perhaps more; I don't remember exactly -- we have been dealing very frequently with republic officials. The Secretary has met frequently with mayors, heads of the republics. As you note, he's met four times with the Russian Foreign Minister; that he met again yesterday. We've also had frequent meetings and business dealings with the center. As Eagleburger said this morning, there are differences in the status of different officials. They have different authorities, and we deal with each authority in the areas that are concerned. Q Now, legally, the Baltics are different, of course. Do you happen to know, would there be occasion for diplomatic recognition? Doesn't it stand there? It hasn't ever been withdrawn, or would there need to be, in the event of independence, a new assertion of recognition of a nation? MR. BOUCHER: Again, I think I'd just have to tell you that at this point, I'm not here to announce any change in the status of our relations with the Baltic states. We have never recognized their forcible incorporation. We've always supported their aspirations to self-determination. It continues to be our policy. Q Are some Baltic leaders coming here today? And with whom are they meeting, please? And what's that all about? MR. BOUCHER: I'm not aware of Baltic leaders coming here today. There was some talk of the Latvian Foreign Minister. I think I've got something on that. We're told the Latvian Foreign Minister is reportedly considering coming to the United States some time in the near future. We understand he has not yet finalized his plans. Q I believe the Charge d'Affaires were having a meeting today with the Deputy Assistant Secretary? MR. BOUCHER: I'll have to check on that. That wouldn't be unusual. We meet with those people all the time. As I said, we have frequent and close contacts with them as well as other Baltic representatives. Q But they all three are supposed to be coming here. They requested the meeting. Could we get a readout? MR. BOUCHER: I'll see if I can get you one. Q Is there still consideration being given -- the Russian Foreign Minister, Andrei Kozyrev had said at one point this week that he wanted to come to the United States. Are there any plans for that? MR. BOUCHER: Obviously, you'll have to check with him on his plans. You know that he came from Paris to Brussels yesterday to meet the Secretary. We believe he's back in Paris and will remain there for a day or two. At this time, it's not clear that he still plans to come to the United States. Q Richard, the President, in one of his news conferences in Maine, mentioned that only several countries supported the coup. He named Iraq, Libya, and Cuba. He said a handful of them. Can you name the other countries that have supported the coup? In particular, I would like you to answer, if you will, please, the State Department's view of how you regard the Palestine Liberation Organization's support for a coup. Kaddoumi was on the Lebanese radio, and the official PLO radio also welcomed the coup. I was wondering what the reaction is here. MR. BOUCHER: I don't have with me a list of who said what during the course of the coup and who welcomed it and who didn't. As far as a general impression of people who supported the coup, I think the President said it fairly clearly the other day. Q What about the PLO, though? Q (Inaudible) Cuba was a mistake, as it turned out. MR. BOUCHER: I'm not familiar with exactly what he was saying. Q Traveling around with the Secretary of State, you found out Cuba was kind of a slip. Q What about the PLO? How do you regard their support for the coup? MR. BOUCHER: Again, I'm not personally familiar with what they said. I think our general attitude toward people who came out in support of the coup was aply stated by the President when he called them "renegades." Q Richard, can I go back to the Baltics for a moment. You said that the State Department policy is unchanged, but something has changed, which is that the Baltic states themselves have, by democratic means, declared their own independence. So the question really comes in light of that changed situation in the Baltic states themselves. Does the United States recognize the declared independence of these three states? MR. BOUCHER: Jim, we recognize, as you say, that these are democratically elected governments. Lithuania, I believe, had a declaration of its independence some time ago. Latvia and Estonia just did it in the last few days. As I said before, we've continued to support their aspirations for self-determination and to encourage anything that would lead to that goal being achieved peacefully. Q Right. But the blunt question is -- and it's more than a legal question -- does the United States recognize their declaration of independence? MR. BOUCHER: I don't have any change in our policy like that to announce, Jim. Q So in other words you don't. MR. BOUCHER: We have never recognized their forcible incorporation. We've always supported their aspirations. I'll stick to that. Q Could I ask about economic assistance to the Soviets? Given the events of the past few days, the Secretary, I think, said that there was no way you could resolve the situation by "writing checks." But is there any sense that the timing may be right for additional humanitarian aid, for example;nNot direct foreign aid but some kind of step-up in the humanitarian program? MR. BOUCHER: There's no new package being developed or new, big initiative or something being considered at this point. I would remind you that we have ongoing programs. We have an ongoing program that provides emergency pharmaceutical and basic medical supplies to various parts of the U.S.S.R. That program has already provided over $10 million in donated medical supplies. That's the kind of program -- I can't definitively give you all of them. It's the kind of thing that we expect we'd continue to do. There is $900 million outstanding of the $1.5 billion in Commodity Credit Corporation credit guarantees announced in June. That's not a food aid program, but it does provide official credit guarantees to support our exports of agricultural commodities, and so far this year already, the Soviet Union has used $1.6 billion of that. We have other technical assistance programs for the Soviet Union that we've talked about in the past, and I think the Secretary and others, in general terms, have made clear that our support for economic and political reforms in the Soviet Union will continue. Q Along those lines, in terms of any further aid or aid to the Soviet Union, will the U.S. continue to insist on tying the U.S.S.R. severing its ties with Cuba as part of aid? MR. BOUCHER: I don't think you've put precisely the position that we've taken. We've cited a number of factors that are important to us as we go forward in support of Soviet economic and political reforms, and their relationship with Cuba is certainly an important aspect of that. That has not changed. Q Is MFN included in the -- as an ongoing situation now? MR. BOUCHER: At this point, as for the specifics of the program, I can't give you announcements on specific things and how we'll go forward. That is currently under review, and I'm sure when the President has something to say on specifics like that, he will say it. Q Do you have anything on the flow of emigration from the Soviet Union? MR. BOUCHER: Nothing new. Our understanding is that during the events of the past few days, there was no significant interruption. Q Has Ambassador Strauss been in contact with the top officials? MR. BOUCHER: He has met with Foreign Minister Bessmertnykh. He met with Anatoly Dobrynin, the former Ambassador to the U.S. and a special adviser to Gorbachev. Later today he's expected to meet with Mayor Popov of Moscow. Q A follow-up on that: Is he now expecting to present his credentials during this trip? MR. BOUCHER: We expect that he will present his credentials to the constitutional government of the Soviet Union as soon as that can be arranged. Q And will he stay longer than the original mission? MR. BOUCHER: At this point, I don't have a return for him; no specified date at this point. Q Senator Leahy today said that foreign aid or U.S. aid to the Soviet Union would increasingly be directed to the republics. Given the apparent shift of power from Gorbachev to Yeltsin, is there likely to be a redirection of U.S. diplomacy in a similar way? MR. BOUCHER: I would, I think, refer to the fact that we have, all along, been increasing our contacts, increasing our exchanges, with leaders of the republics -- whether it's meetings or whether it's the way we've handled some of the assistance programs. When we had an energy delegation there in July, they met not only with central authorities but with central, republic, local, and even production company authorities. So our efforts are intended to provide practical advice and assistance in economic reform programs in the Soviet Union. How exactly some of those programs are focused, obviously, depends on how the Soviet Union itself decides to allocate those kinds of economic powers. That's the question that they are facing. So as we go forward, we will continue to deal both with the center and the republics on the kinds of business and authority that they have under their purview; and, depending on how the Soviet Union sorts some of those responsibilities out, I suppose that will change some of the dealings that we have. Q Richard, could I have a follow-up on that? Sorry. Could I just follow up on that? Q Yes. I have another follow-up. Q On aid -- and forgive me if this has already been asked -- but the Los Angeles Times reports that the Administration is considering large-scale humanitarian aid for the Soviet Union. Is that true or false? MR. BOUCHER: That was asked, and I said we don't have anything like that in the works. I pointed out that we do have various assistance programs, medical and food programs, that -- Q But the report didn't say it was in the works. It said you're considering it. Are you considering it? MR. BOUCHER: There's no new aid package under consideration at this point. Q Could I -- Q Does the United States -- MR. BOUCHER: He was -- Q Does the United States have a view as to whether or not the Soviet Union should break up into separate republics -- separate nations? MR. BOUCHER: That's something that I wouldn't want to do off the top of my head. I think if you go back to the statements the President and the Secretary have made before, they've stated our policy pretty clearly on those kinds of questions. Q Can I go back to the notion of whether the U.S. is recalibrating its diplomatic approach to reflect the shift in power from the center to the republics, and whether Gorbachev is seen as being weakened and Yeltsin is the man you will have to deal with? MR. BOUCHER: Again, I think I have to go back to what we've been saying all along -- Deputy Secretary Eagleburger addressed it this morning on television -- that certainly we recognize that, to some degree, the republics have been strengthened by the events of the last few days, but we have all along been dealing both with central and with republic officials; that these people are different, they have different authorities; and that we will continue to deal with both levels, depending on what the business is that we have to conduct. Q Would you assume, though, Richard, that the foreign policy is still in the hands of President Gorbachev, with Bessmertnykh meeting with our Ambassador and so forth? MR. BOUCHER: Foreign policy -- we deal with the Foreign Ministry and the President of the country. That's the way we deal with it. Q "President of the country" meaning Gorbachev. MR. BOUCHER: Yes. Q And also with Bessmertnykh. Now, the question is, is there any doubt that the October conference will go on as planned? MR. BOUCHER: That was the goal that was announced in Moscow, that we would work to try to arrange a conference in October; and that's the goal that we continue to aim for. Q How about this CSCE conference? Does the United States have a position on proceeding with that in Moscow next month? MR. BOUCHER: I don't have a definitive position on each and everything we have under way. Q Richard, do you have anything on Cuba's intention of raising at the General Assembly session next month the question of the U.S. embargo against them? MR. BOUCHER: Let me get something for you on that. I didn't bring it with me. Q Do you anything on the hostages? MR. BOUCHER: Nothing new. Q Thank you. (The briefing concluded at 1:07 p.m.)