US Department of State Daily Press Briefing #126, Tuesday, 8/27/91

Boucher Source: State Department Deputy Spokesman Richard Boucher Description: 12:58 PM, Washington, DC Date: Aug 27, 19918/27/91 Category: Briefings Region: MidEast/North Africa, E/C Europe, Southeast Asia, Eurasia, East Asia Country: Iraq, Croatia, Turkey, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Cambodia, USSR (former), Philippines, Cuba Subject: Mideast Peace Process, Regional/Civil Unrest, Democratization, Military Affairs, International Law (ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED) MR. BOUCHER: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. If I can start off with one announcement and one statement. The announcement is that we've been looking at the briefing schedule this week and have decided, for several reasons, that it's probably best for us to brief again on Friday rather than Thursday. So we'll be back here on Friday to talk to you all and not on Thursday. Q What about Wednesday?

[Phillipines: US Signs Base and Other Agreements]

MR. BOUCHER: No, we hadn't planned on doing one on Wednesday, to begin with. The statement is about the U.S.-Philippine treaty on bases. Representatives of the United States of America and the Republic of the Philippines today signed a Treaty of Friendship, Cooperation, and Security at Malacanang Palace in the Philippines. U.S. Ambassador Frank Wisner and the Philippine Secretary of Foreign Affairs, Raul Manglapus, signed the agreement in the presence of President Corazon Aquino. The signing of the new agreement brought to a successful close a negotiating process which began in May 1990. Among its provisions are arrangements which would permit U.S. forces to continue operating at Subic Naval Base for a term of 10 more years and to continue defense cooperation into the 21st century. The agreement also includes provisions for continued bilateral cooperation in the areas of economics, culture and education, science and technology, and veterans affairs. Also signed today were supplementary agreements on the Status of Forces, Installations and Military Operating Procedures, and an agreement on Cultural and Educational Cooperation. This is a solemn undertaking under international law. The two sides agreed that the manner in which the parties will bring this agreement into legal force under their respective domestic systems is a matter of sovereign prerogative for each. The Philippine side, in accordance with its constitution, will submit the document to the Senate of the Philippines for ratification. The American side, in accordance with its customary practice regarding similar arrangements around the world, will bring the document into legal force through the process of an executive agreement. In this manner, the constitutional requirements and customary practices of both sides have been fully respected and preserved. The United States is gratified that the Government of the Philippines has taken a positive step toward reaffirming the historic friendship, which has characterized this unique relationship, and we look forward to the confirmation of President Aquino's decision by the Senate of the Philippines. A somewhat more lengthy version of that will be posted. At this point, I would be glad to take your questions. Q Richard, on that, since it's a treaty, why is it not then submitted to the U.S. Senate for ratification and advice? MR. BOUCHER: We agreed with the request from President Aquino that this document be called a "treaty" in order to emphasize, as I said, that it's a solemn undertaking. We will handle the document in terms -- each side will handle the documents in terms of its own constitutional procedures, and our usual procedure for these arrangements is to handle them under something called the Case-Zablocki Act as an executive agreement. They will be registered with the United Nations and published in both the United States Treaties and Other International Acts Series and the United States Department of State's annual Treaties in Force documents. Q Richard, will the full text of the treaty be available? MR. BOUCHER: I'll have to check on that. I'm not sure when it will be. Q Clark Air Base was damaged by the volcano. Are there any plans to have any other sort of air base in the Philippines? What's the status of that? MR. BOUCHER: What it provides is that U.S. forces will continue to have access to installations made available at Subic Naval Base for a period of 10 years. If at the end of 10 years, the parties have not agreed on subsequent arrangements, there will then be a period for an orderly withdrawal. All U.S. forces will leave Clark Air Base by September 1992 and the other smaller facilities in the Philippines, by September 16, 1991. Clark and the other facilities, as you know, have been rendered inoperable by the Mt. Pinatubo volcano. So that's what it provides for -- essentially, the continuation of Subic. Q Are there air strips and such -- can the air force operate out of Subic? MR. BOUCHER: You'll have to ask the Pentagon. I just don't know. Q If the Philippine Senate does not ratify it, then the treaty or agreement -- whatever you're going to call it -- does not go into effect? MR. BOUCHER: That's right. They have to do that. We understand, I think, that they have a deadline for that -- September 16. In order for it to be approved by the Philippine Senate, no less than 16 affirmative votes are required. We expect that the Senate will act on this matter on or before September 16. So we'll see what happens there. Of course, if they didn't approve it, then we would have to look to institute procedures for withdrawal. Q Renewal of this base agreement had been a real political issue over in the Philippines. What does the fact that we've gotten an agreement mean in terms of the politics over there? MR. BOUCHER: The politics over there, as far as particular people, I'm not about to comment on. In terms of the agreement itself, we think it's a good agreement. We think it solidifies a relationship that goes back for many years, and it continues a military presence of the United States. It serves the interests of stability of the region as well as the interests of the Philippines in that stability. So we think it's a good agreement. We hope it's ratified by the Philippine Senate. Q Have you got the dollar sums? MR. BOUCHER: The compensation package, as it's known; for this fiscal year, we're dealing with what the U.S. Congress is dealing with. There is a committee process in the House of Representatives. It's already completed. The Senate has not yet acted, but it appears likely that the U.S. Congress will appropriate about $223 million in security assistance grants for the Philippines in fiscal year 1992 -- sorry, that's next year. The security assistance package will probably consist of $100 million in foreign military financing; $120 million in economic support funds; and $2.8 million in international military education and training. In addition, there will be a special development assistance Grant of $100 million. The President will seek not less than $203 million in security assistance -- that is, these three categories -- from Congress for subsequent years of the agreement. We will also continue a number of other assistance programs. - The excess defense and medical equipment program, under which the U.S. will continue to provide modern, serviceable defense and medical equipment, excess to the U.S. defense needs, to the Philippines over the life of the agreement. - The "Buy Philippine" program, under which U.S. military forces in the Philippines and other parts of the Pacific will continue to purchase Philippine goods, under a balance-of-payments waiver, for the life of the agreement. In addition to that, there is our contribution to the Multilateral Assistance Initiative, which is not counted in the compensation package for the base. As early as 1988, both U.S. and Philippine negotiators agreed that the Multilateral Assistance Initiative -- both in terms of U.S. pledges and the pledges of other countries -- would not be linked to the bases. For the coming fiscal year, President Bush has asked Congress to contribute $160 million to this vital program as well. Q You've lost me. For fiscal 1992, what is the bottom line? How much money will change hands? MR. BOUCHER: Fiscal '92, we're looking at $223 million. That's based on what action the House committees have taken so far. Assuming that that passes, that would be the number. The President will not seek less than $203 million for subsequent years of the agreement. Not counted in this is the multilateral assistance package for which we're looking for $160 million this year. Q You mentioned another development -- MR. BOUCHER: This coming year. Sorry. That would be '92. Q And you mentioned another figure of $100 million for development assistance? MR. BOUCHER: That's the breakdown of the $223. Q You're saying that if the Philippine Senate says "no," you're going to withdraw rather than re-negotiate? MR. BOUCHER: What I'm saying, in that case, the United States will institute procedures which will lead to the withdrawal of U.S. military forces from the Philippines. Q Sixteen votes is required for ratification? MR. BOUCHER: That's right. Q I believe there are 23 members of the -- they have to have two-thirds majority? MR. BOUCHER: I'm not a constitutional scholar for the Philippines. But my understanding is that they need 16 affirmative votes.

[USSR: Situation Update]

Q New subject. Two questions on the Soviet Union. First of all, the Common Market today recognized the Baltics unanimously -- agreed to recognize them. When is the United States going to do the same thing? And, secondly, what can you tell us about the meetings that have been going on in this building about what the future U.S. policy should be toward the Soviet Union, specifically, on the question of economic investment and aid and so on? MR. BOUCHER: The EC declaration, we're aware of it. It just happened. I have nothing at this point that would change our position, which I think was amply expressed by the President yesterday. I think there's never been any question that we support the independence and freedom of the Baltic states. We never recognized their forcible incorporation. As the President said yesterday, there's a few things he wants to see settled out before he decides on his next steps; and I'm sure when he decides, he will make it known to you. As far as meetings that are going on, we have people, obviously, who are following the situation in the Soviet Union and in the Baltic states very closely. There are many issues that are being discussed out there right now. We have been discussing in preparations for the upcoming meetings, for example, the G-7 sherpas. I guess all I can really say is we're following these issues closely. Q Can you give us any more specifics than that? I mean, for example, is there any discussion of lifting COCOM restrictions or Smoot-Hawley restrictions or some of the other things that are preventing Western investment in the Soviet Union? MR. BOUCHER: The package of things that we were working on was expressed during the London summit and then during the Moscow summit. I think the White House put out 10 or so Fact Sheets, some of which dealt with things like the investment treaties and tax treaties that were under negotiation. They dealt with the restrictions and various legislation that we were lifting and talked about other technical assistance programs that we have. The President has said that he has lifted the freeze on those kind of programs, and those things will be going forward. Q Richard, what about MFN status for the Soviet Union now that this has all taken place? MR. BOUCHER: The President submitted the trade agreement to the Senate in early August. So, as the President said, he had lifted the freeze on all the economic programs, and we would intend to proceed with those things, too. Q Richard, the President talked yesterday about giving food aid to the Soviet Union. I'm little unclear on exactly what he's offering -- if he's just speeding up agricultural credits, or if we're actually giving them a boatload of food right now? MR. BOUCHER: I think, if I remember correctly, he said two things. The first was if there is hardship, we stand ready to help. That's always been our position and the position of other members of the international community. When there is emergency circumstances or undue hardship, we've always stepped up to the plate and helped people out. The second was, he announced that $315 million of credit guarantees for the agricultural programs, that had been originally slated to start after October 1, that that was being moved up. That was a request from the Soviets about mid-August, I think. They asked for that amount to be speeded up, and he announced yesterday that we were able to do so. Q Richard, Ambassador Strauss met with President Yeltsin and President Gorabchev. Did they discuss Soviet aid to Cuba? Was the Ambassador assured that the Soviet Union would, indeed, cut off military aid and/or suspend economic aid? What is your understanding of the situation? MR. BOUCHER: I don't know that we've received any assurances of that kind. I think Ambassador Strauss has just talked in Kennebunkport a little bit more about his meetings with President Gorbachev and President Yeltsin. From the briefing I got, nothing like that came up nor am I aware that those subjects were discussed in his meetings. Q Richard, the Baltics aside, there is a whole series now of Soviet republics which are declaring their independence. What is the U.S. view of this whole development? And are there concerns about potential ethnic and economic problems that would result from those declarations? MR. BOUCHER: The President talked yesterday about our support for independence -- specifically, for the Baltics -- and the general issue of self-determination for others in the Soviet Union. He also made clear that those issues of future relationships, whether they're the political ones or economic ones or whatever they work out, that those things are to be worked out by the Soviet peoples. We've always held that they should take into account the interests of various parts of Soviet society. I think that would be our basic view, but it's really something for them to work out peacefully. Q Are you saying that there is some concern about minority rights, ethnic turbulence under these circumstances? MR. BOUCHER: Again, the President spoke yesterday about not wanting to contribute in any way to potential instability or anarchy, or anything like that, within the Soviet Union by statements that we make. We've always held in these situations -- and specifically in this one -- that the interests of various peoples needs to be taken into account in the process that they use to establish the future arrangements and relationships. Q Richard, is it being discussed in this building how to deal with the question of nuclear weapons security if, indeed, the central government is in deterioration? MR. BOUCHER: The information I have on nuclear weapons -- and this is to the best of our knowledge -- that Soviet nuclear weapons remain in the control of the Soviet central authorities. They have a record of tight, redundant controls over such systems. I think you've heard the President say, and I said the other day, that we had seen nothing during the course of the coup that lead to any heightened concern in that respect. Q But a number of tactical weapons are scattered throughout some of these republics that are claiming independence now. Is there concern that something could be done with these? Some of these older weapons don't have the newer lock-and-key kind of technology. MR. BOUCHER: It's a subject that we follow. As you know, the military relationships between the republics and the center and, indeed, the future relationships between the republics are issues that are being discussed in Moscow right now. I can't predict how they will come out, nor exactly what arrangements will be made with any specific set of weapons. But our knowledge of the program and where things stand right now tells us that the weapons remain under the control of the Soviet central authorities. Q Richard, is there some confusion in this building as to who exactly we should be dealing with in foreign policy over there? MR. BOUCHER: The Soviet Union has a President -- President Gorbachev. They have a Foreign Ministry. They don't at this point, I think, have a Foreign Minister; at least I haven't seen any new announcements today. We expect -- we continue to have dealings with those institutions that the Soviets have made responsible for foreign policy. How internally they work, the various relationships, again is something for them to determine. But we have said that we would deal with various authorities in the Soviet Union in various areas, depending on what they have authority for. Q Richard, on the secession question, I understand what you're saying about it's a matter for them largely, but there seems to be a legal difference which would involve a U.S. decision. The Baltics' annexation was never recognized by the United States Government. That, however, does not apply to the Ukraine or Armenia or places like that. Could you tell us or find out for us what would be the legal distinction between recognizing something like the Ukraine as opposed to recognizing something like Latvia? MR. BOUCHER: The legal distinction is basically the one you've said, and I think we've put up in the past the carefully crafted and accurate guidance on our views of the status of different republics. Clearly, we've never recognized the forcible incorporation of the Baltic states, but beyond that, the relationships of different republics to each other and to the center is something for them to work out. We would hope that those would be worked out peacefully on the basis of democracy and self-determination and that any solution should be part of a process that takes into account the interests of all of the parties. Q Richard, if such a procedure were worked out between the center and a republic, then the United States would be willing to extend recognition to a republic such as Russia or the Ukraine? MR. BOUCHER: I can't predict anything specific on that at this point, Jim, because, as you know, these subjects are being discussed very actively right now in Moscow. There are various statements and ideas out there. Some of the republics have referenda scheduled for later this year, and we're following this process closely. But I can't, at this point, predict some specific step on the part of the United States until we see how the Soviets themselves start deciding these questions. Q But, Richard, isn't it a fact that the United States already has recognized the Ukraine as a voting nation in the United Nations? The Ukraine belongs to the United Nations, and it has a vote. MR. BOUCHER: I don't know how that fact would affect the legal status. I just don't know. Q Richard, the Russian Republic has a Foreign Minister. Is the State Department on a daily-basis contact with them? MR. BOUCHER: I don't know if we are on a daily basis in contact with them. Certainly we've had contacts and meetings with the Russian Republic. The Secretary met with the Foreign Minister in Brussels last week for what was his fourth meeting with the gentleman; and we've been in touch, I think, all along with the President of the Russian Republic, Mr. Yeltsin, as well. Q Can you give any examples of the kinds of issues that are discussed with the Foreign Ministry of the Russian Republic? MR. BOUCHER: No, not specifically at this point. I mean, we are discussing developments and issues of mutual concern, I'm sure. Q Richard, you said that no assurances had been received from the Russians regarding continuance in supplying Cuba. MR. BOUCHER: I said I wasn't aware of any. Q Now, isn't that question going to be important as the question of aid is raised again? What are you going to do about that? MR. BOUCHER: I just don't think I'm in a position, at this point, until the Soviets answer these questions for themselves, to talk about specific Soviet foreign policies and what they're going to do in each of these directions. Military spending and assistance and things like that are part of the mix of issues being discussed in Moscow, and we'll see how they settle out and continue our policies accordingly. I think our views on that are pretty well known. Q Richard, the Russian Foreign Minister -- I think you "visa'd" him to come to the United States. Is he coming to Washington soon? MR. BOUCHER: After he met with the Secretary in Brussels, I think he went back to Paris and then he returned to Moscow. So at this point I don't think he has any current travel plans. Q Is the U.S. concerned that the change in the Soviet Union is going too fast? MR. BOUCHER: I don't have a judgment like that for you, Pat. We're following the situation closely. The President expressed concerns about not contributing to or encouraging any sort of instability there. But there are a great many issues that they have to deal with, that they are dealing with now, and we're following closely how they do that. Q Could you clarify? One of the things the President said yesterday was that a reason for delaying recognition is that some territorial questions have to be settled; that Lithuania today isn't the same as it was in 1940. Does that mean that we're retreating from the idea of treating borders according to the Helsinki principles, which was the position some few months ago? MR. BOUCHER: I'm not familiar with the exact status of borders there. The President, I think, also referred to the questions of control of territory. He also referred to the fact that he wanted to see how the European Community and the Supreme Soviet dealt with some of these issues over the course of the coming days. So there are a number of issues that are not clear at this point. Q What is the U.S. view of the rest of the borders within the Soviet Union? Do we recognize them as existing borders? Do we see them as somehow imposed and, therefore, flexible, open to negotiation? You know, the comment yesterday about "maybe we'll have to deal with these borders" from a Yeltsin spokesman. What's the U.S. view of that? MR. BOUCHER: Our understanding is the Russian Republic actually issued a decree in which it reserved the right to raise with contiguous republics seeking independence the issue of revision of borders. Our view is that settlement of any outstanding territorial and border disputes within the Soviet Union is a matter for those concerned to resolve through good-faith negotiations. Q Richard, do you have anything about the probability of delaying the peace conference of the Middle East because of the Soviet events? MR. BOUCHER: No. Q Richard, on the matter of borders and disintegration and secession, is one of the concerns of the United States that any precipitous breakup of the Soviet Union might contribute to parallel breakups of countries in Eastern Europe such as Yugoslavia? MR. BOUCHER: The President mentioned Yugoslavia yesterday. I don't really have any amplification, but he did talk about what he expressed as special considerations in how he approaches and how we express ourselves on the issue. And I think Prime Minister Mulroney also recognized that -- that that is one of the considerations in how we approach the issue. Q To put it bluntly, is there concern that any encouragement of secession in the Soviet Union would lead to similar breakups in Eastern Europe? MR. BOUCHER: I'd just have to stick with the way the President expressed it yesterday. I can get those quotes for you, but I don't want to try to advance it from there. Q Richard, is the START treaty on hold now, or what is the exact status now with the developments in the Soviet Union? MR. BOUCHER: As for arms control agreements: First of all, on the INF agreement, the destructions that were called for have taken place. As to CFE and START, we intend to proceed with ratification. We expect the Soviets to do the same. We expect the U.S.S.R. to continue to observe its obligations under international law regarding arms control. I believe the CFE agreement has already been sent up to the Hill and that the START treaty is still in the process of cleaning up the text for submission. Q Richard, what has been your general statement toward communism? And aren't you going to prepare one new one toward the world communism, that only four or five nations are keeping the ideology with the downfall of the Communist Party -- Soviet Communist Party? MR. BOUCHER: The President yesterday spoke about the death knell of communism and about the people who were probably sweating, having seen the events that occurred. Q Richard, Israel was not invited to the regional water conference to be held in Turkey in November this year. Do you have any comment on that? MR. BOUCHER: That's something I wasn't aware of. I'll look into it and see what the structure of the conference is. I'm not familiar with it. Q Another part of the world? O.K.? Do you have anything on the continued fighting in Yugoslavia? MR. BOUCHER: Yes. The United States is increasingly concerned about the ongoing violence in Croatia which has now escalated to the level of attacks by Serbian militants and elements of the Yugoslav military on major urban centers in eastern Croatia. We, the European Community, and the entire CSCE community have sent a clear message to the peoples of Yugoslavia over recent months that the international community stands ready to help them address and reconcile their legitimate concerns through a process of peaceful dialogue and that the use of force to solve political differences or to change external or internal borders is simply not acceptable. In fact, on Monday, we called in the Yugoslav Ambassador to express our views and our concerns, and we would call upon all parties to implement immediately an unconditional cease-fire and to create the conditions for the EC mission endorsed by the CSCE to monitor the cease-fire without delay. Q Do you feel that the army in Yugoslavia is under the control of communist elements? MR. BOUCHER: I don't have anything new on their control. I think what has concerned us particularly in the present situation is that elements of the army are joining with Serbian militants in these attacks on eastern Croatia. We don't think that that is an appropriate course for them. I think that only exacerbates the violence and exacerbates the tragedy. Q In yet another area, do you have any reaction to the latest apparent improvement in the negotiations over Cambodia and its settlement? MR. BOUCHER: We welcome the progress that they appear to have made. I'd point out that the United States and other Perm Five members are not formally participating in the August 26-28 meeting of the Cambodian Supreme National Council. Our Assistant Secretary for East Asian and Pacific Affairs, Richard Solomon, is heading the United States delegation to an August 29-30 Perm Five meeting in Pattaya immediately after that Supreme National Council meeting. At the Perm Five meeting, the U.S. delegation, other Perm Five members, and Indonesia will be reviewing the progress made by the Cambodian Supreme National Council members, headed by Prince Sihanouk. They are trying to arrive at agreement on the remaining issues relating to a final comprehensive settlement. The major remaining issues were the extent of the demobilization of the factional forces and the role of the United Nations during the transitional period with respect to the military arrangements and then to the conduct of the election. We understand that the members have agreed on a 70% demobilization of the factional forces before the election. The remaining 30% would be placed in cantonment, with weapons stored under joint supervision of U.N. and factional commanders. The Supreme National Council has also requested that the United Nations send an observer team to monitor the current cease-fire and the arms moratorium. Their members will continue to meet for a third day. We expect more reports about the results in a day or two. As I said, we welcome the progress that has been made thus far toward a comprehensive settlement. We continue to believe that a settlement based on the Perm Five framework offers the best chance for a successful outcome in Cambodia. I'd defer any further comment until after the SNC and the Perm Five talks are concluded this week. Q Where are those Perm Five talks? MR. BOUCHER: In Pattaya, Thailand. Q Richard, would you care to take a swing at the number of editorial comments that are appearing in the newspapers in recent days -- for instance, from Messrs. Allison and Blackwill of Harvard -- criticizing the Bush Administration for being too cautious about the Soviet Union at the moment and for not coming out and saying now, not that they will send money tomorrow, but that money is there in large quantities when the reform process has reached the right point? There's a certain amount of editorial criticism. Would you care to respond to it? MR. BOUCHER: If you ask if I'd care to take a swing, I'd say the President took a pretty big swing at it the other day, and I'll be glad to get you exactly what he said. We've stressed all along that the program that we put together in London with the other members of the G-7 was a good program. It provided the kind of assistance that the Soviets can use and the kind of assistance that their leaders, including President Gorbachev and President Yeltsin themselves, have said they need. It's a program that helps them along on the process of economic reform. It provides the kind of assistance and advice they need directly through technical experts as well as through the IMF. In cases where there are specific needs, like for the grain credits or medical assistance, it provides that kind of assistance as well. So we have a good program that we intend to proceed with. Q And is it adequate in size and scope? MR. BOUCHER: It's a good program, and we intend to proceed with it. Q Are you discussing the possibility of expanding the size and scope of this sort of program that you're talking about? MR. BOUCHER: At this point, there's no new package under preparation, if that's what you're talking about. Q I have a question on Kuwait. Do you intend to communicate very soon on the defense agreement with Kuwait following the departure of U.S. troops? MR. BOUCHER: I'm sure we'll have one at the appropriate time. I believe the Pentagon talked about it a little bit today if I'm right. Cynthia, is that right? MS. WHITTLESEY: The discussed rotation of U.S. troops. MR. BOUCHER: Yes. The Pentagon talked about the rotation of troops today. I think I'd best refer you to that for the moment. Q Nothing about a defense agreement between Kuwait and the United States? MR. BOUCHER: Not right now. Q Thank you. (The briefing concluded at 1:31 p.m.)