US Department of State Daily Press Briefing #129, Thursday, 9/5/91

Boucher Source: State Department Deputy Spokesman Richard Boucher Description: 12:23 PM, Washington, DC Date: Sep 5, 19919/5/91 Category: Briefings Region: MidEast/North Africa, E/C Europe, Pacific, East Asia, Subsaharan Africa Country: Iraq, Yugoslavia (former), Croatia, Slovenia, Serbia-Montenegro, Israel, USSR (former), Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Philippines, South Africa, New Zealand Subject: Regional/Civil Unrest, Democratization, Nuclear Nonproliferation, Arms Control, Trade/Economics, Terrorism (ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED) MR. BOUCHER: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. As you know, we were still working on confirmations of various aspects of the Secretary's trip yesterday, and he wasn't able to give you the whole thing. I can now give you some more; I'm not promising everything at this point. First of all, just to note the Israeli Ambassador is going to come in and see the Secretary on Friday at 4:30 p.m. That's one thing. On the Secretary's travel, I am able to confirm some of the further aspects of the schedule. The Moscow itinerary is still not confirmed. As soon as we do get confirmations of various meetings and things like that, we will get that information to you. As the Secretary said yesterday, he would like to visit the three Baltic states. We are still working on this one, too. He will travel to the Middle East. Q So far, it sounds real good. Q Do you even know how long he'll be in Moscow? Now even that? MR. BOUCHER: I'll give you as much as I can give you at this point. He will travel to the Middle East, stopping in Israel, Egypt, Jordan, and Syria. The Secretary will return to Washington on Friday, September 20th. As I said, as soon as we're able to provide you with more details, we will. Q Did you say when he's going to the Middle East? MR. BOUCHER: I don't have dates for you at this point. Q Is it a puzzle? Q You're doing pretty well. Q Is it still his plan to go to New York on Sunday, the 22nd? MR. BOUCHER: Not having announced it for the Secretary, I think the White House announced the dates that the President will be up there, and I would expect the Secretary to be up there during those dates. Q What's the Secretary going to do for a whole day in Washington, on the 2lst? Q Get on television. Q Maybe he can have a few meetings or something. MR. BOUCHER: Do we have any questions? We could do this afterward. Q Is that the sequence, at least, for the Middle East, as you gave them? Is that the order in which they'll be visited, do you happen to know? MR. BOUCHER: I don't have the final dates for you, Barry. That's the order that we're working on them. I can't confirm precisely. As you know, sometimes -- Q Can we assume that the Palestinians are part of the Israel stop as they have been; do know that? MR. BOUCHER: At this point, again, I can't give you the firm list of his meetings, but I would expect them to be similar to previous trips that he's taken. Q Do you know whether the Baltic portion of the trip will be a several-day portion of the trip, or would you expect him to go to all the Baltic states in 1 or 1-1/2 days or so? MR. BOUCHER: At this point, that's not the kind of scheduling information that I have for you. Q Richard, you said he's trying to schedule meetings in Moscow. Do you have any generic description of who he's trying to meet? Is he trying to see Yeltsin or Kozyrev on the Russian side? And is he planning on seeing leaders of any of the other republics than those mentioned? MR. BOUCHER: I expect he'll have a broad range of meetings. I think he mentioned yesterday that he expected to see the Russian Foreign Minister, the new Soviet Foreign Minister who was on TV this morning saying that he expected to see Baker as well. We're looking at making arrangements, trying to set up meetings with various representatives of the republics. So I expect you'll see some of those as well as meetings with the Soviet leadership. Q So far as the Baltics -- I know you're not saying that he's definitely going -- does the planning include some sort of ceremonial actions? In other words, will embassies be opened by the Secretary? Will he participate in some formal symbol of this new relationship? MR. BOUCHER: I just don't know on that, Barry, at this point. Curt Kamman is travelling in the Baltics, as you know. We've been in touch with him, although it's difficult sometimes to get in touch. He's working some of those kinds of things out there. We just don't have that kind of detail -- Q Speaking of Curt's stop -- of course, it's all second-hand to us; we're not there. Word is coming back that the Administration is considering direct aid to the Baltic republics. If I understand correctly -- because aid is used very loosely -- that sounds like you're prepared to do for the Baltics as you did for Poland and Hungary but as you're not prepared to do for the Soviet Union. Do we have it straight, that there will be direct assistance to the Baltics but not the Soviet Union? MR. BOUCHER: I don't have anything new like that, Barry. I know the President has talked before about making sure that we offer them the support that we could as they move forward with their programs of reform and democracy and taking over their independence. I'll have to check if there's anything like that in the works, but I hadn't heard that discussed. Q "Support" is a very ambiguous word. It can cover a lot of things. MR. BOUCHER: That's right. Q Let me follow that. Slightly more specifically, would the Baltic states qualify for the existing programs that are in place for the Eastern European countries, given that the Administration considers them -- and even the Department considers them -- to be part of Eastern Europe rather than part of the Soviet Union? MR. BOUCHER: I don't know the answer to that at this point. Q If you could pursue that. MR. BOUCHER: I'll see. I'm not sure if we do know the answer to that at this point. Q Also on the Baltics. The other day you said that what is required for formal recognition is a declaration on both sides. Is that what Kamman is doing today, or is Baker going to be doing it? MR. BOUCHER: I think we put up an answer that afternoon after we talked around it, or I talked around it at the briefing, that said that we considered that the relationships had been established because of the conversations that we had already had with them. As far as what Curt is up to, Mr. Kamman was in Tallinn yesterday. He signed there a Memorandum of Understanding with the Estonian Government regarding various aspects of establishing diplomatic relations. He traveled to Riga this morning, and he has signed a similar memorandum with the Latvian Government. He arrives tonight in Vilnius and will meet tomorrow with Lithuanian officials. Q While you're on Lithuania, you may have seen the front page story in the Times this morning. Lithuania is now moving to exonerate mass killers of World War II vintage; even confessed killers because they were convicted under a Soviet system. Does the State Department have a view of that? And have you interceded, and how does that jibe with your human rights affirmations? MR. BOUCHER: At this point, Barry, we have -- we saw the article, obviously, but we really don't have any further information on the actions that they might be taking now. It's our understanding that the Lithuanian law of last year that annulled illegitimate convictions by Soviet authorities also specifically excluded genocide and the murder of civilians from that. So I think I'd just have to reserve further comment until we know more about the actions that they're taking. Q Are you trying to find out? Is the U.S. Government -- there was some irritation expressed by that Justice Department special office. I'm wondering about diplomacy. The Secretary of State is probably heading there. You've got somebody there now. Is anybody asking if people who can be identified -- not only confessed but can be identified -- by living witnesses of shooting scores of people to death in their own graves, whether the exoneration of them is acceptable to the U.S. Government? MR. BOUCHER: As I said, Barry, it's our understanding that their law, which they're implementing at this point, excludes crimes like genocide and the murder of civilians. So we would expect that they would be acting in accordance with that law. I'm sure we'll be following this up with them to find out more about the actions that are being taken now. Q Can you not say that it would be unacceptable to the U.S. Government if people known to be guilty by survivors were exonerated? MR. BOUCHER: I don't want to be seen as condemning something that I just don't know enough about. Obviously, our concerns about the crimes that were committed in World War II have been amply expressed by our actions over the past 50 years. So I don't really want to try to comment on specific actions. I don't know if cases such as you're raising have, in fact, been exonerated. It's obviously something that we want to know more about and something that we do feel strongly about. Q Richard, in your previous answer on aid, and the distinction you seem to be making between the Baltics and the Soviet Union, did I hear a linkage between U.S. aid for democratic reforms? In other words, if the Soviet Union implements reforms, might they, too, get the President's promise of direct aid? MR. BOUCHER: I don't have anything to take the question of direct aid any farther than before. We have stated very clearly that we think first and foremost the Soviet Government, the republics, all those who are interested in reform in the Soviet Union need to work on new and effective economic reform programs. We said that would be something that we'd look to the new Economic Commission that was appointed. I think the Secretary said that he was heartened to see that the people who were appointed to that commission were people who believed in free market economic principles. That's the kind of reform that we want to see. That's the kind of reform that our programs are designed to help. Q And that might prompt direct aid from us? MR. BOUCHER: I don't want to speculate about where it might go. Q At what point can we expect humanitarian aid to the Baltics, Richard? MR. BOUCHER: I don't have anything precise for you now, Steve. Q What's your reaction to the action of the Congress of People's Deputies? MR. BOUCHER: It's a general one, since you'll remember that the Secretary made very clear that the arrangements that they work out are for them to work out. We haven't yet had a chance to study the exact plan that they apparently passed this morning. We certainly hope that it will contribute to peaceful change in the U.S.S.R. through an orderly, democratic process. Passage of the plan is a hopeful sign that the republics and the center are arriving at a constructive and cooperative relationship. As the Secretary said yesterday, the future of the Soviet Union is for the Soviet peoples to determine themselves peacefully and consistent with democratic values and practices and the principles of the Helsinki Final Act. Q Richard, the Secretary was asked yesterday about the status of arms control agreements and said that he believed it was in U.S. interest that those should be ratified. Given the turmoil in the Soviet Union, does the United States have a clear idea which body would be ratifying those agreements on the Soviet side, and whether such a body actually exists at the moment? MR. BOUCHER: That has to be a question for them to answer, what their procedures will be to ratify the agreement. We have said that we intend to go forward with the CFE and the START agreements. The Secretary said yesterday those are in our national interest and said we would expect to go forward with them and we would expect the Soviets to be able to stand by those international obligations. Q Are you concerned that there might be a delay in ratification on the Soviet side given that the body that was supposed to be doing the ratification apparently no longer exists? MR. BOUCHER: Again, Alan, that's something that the Soviets themselves are going to have to work out -- what are the appropriate procedures for ratification of international agreements. It's something they'll have to work out within their system. Q Richard, one more on the Baltics, briefing. Will the Secretary deal with the question of direct aid when he visits the Baltics? MR. BOUCHER: I would go back to what he said yesterday he was interested in dealing with. I think it had to do with reform, with the relationships that we have established and with the needs for humanitarian aid. Q Secretary Baker yesterday, himself, said that he wants to see a broad range of people while he stays in Moscow. You told us today that the final schedule of this visit to Moscow has not been finalized. Does that mean that the Russian people in the Soviet Union that he would like to see are not forthcoming in replying, whether they're willing to see him or not? MR. BOUCHER: No, it doesn't. I think you saw the Soviet Foreign Minister this morning on television saying that he would see Secretary Baker and he expected that he would -- Q How about the other people? MR. BOUCHER: He said he expected Baker would meet with other leaders as well. You've been following, I think, on television the activities of Mr. Gorbachev and Mr. Yeltsin. You know that they're understandably very busy right now. I think it comes as no surprise, from whenever it was yesterday morning to now, we haven't gotten confirmation of all the final details of the meetings that will take place when he gets to Moscow next week. We still have a few more days to work on this. Q While he's in Moscow, will he also have bilateral meetings with others of the CSCE Foreign Ministers who are present there? MR. BOUCHER: I expect that he will. I don't at this point have a list. Q Richard, I have two things. Will the fact that the Secretary will be travelling to the region during the High Holy Days, do you think that's going to affect your arguments, your pressure on Israel in any way? It's a rather awkward time to be in the region. MR. BOUCHER: As I said, the final arrangements for these visits are not pinned down. We understand the holidays in Israel. I'm sure we'll work on arrangements that meet the needs of both sides. Q But it is one continuous trip? MR. BOUCHER: Yes. He will travel on to the Middle East. The word "on" was in that. Q To pressure during that period of time. I just wondered if that -- MR. BOUCHER: Do you have a question, Connie? Q Yes. South Africa. [Chorus of No's] Q Finish the Middle East, then come back. Q On the Middle East, the Secretary yesterday discussed in his various answers to questions about the housing loan guarantees -- he discussed both the question of the housing loan guarantees and the question of the upcoming Middle East peace conference, at one point insisting that there was no linkage. The Israelis say they want the two issues -- the aid issue, the housing loan guarantee issue -- to be dealt with on its own merits. But the Secretary's comments suggest that he's got both things in mind at the same time. Is the U.S. prepared to deal with the housing loan guarantee issue on a separate track while working on the negotiations independently? MR. BOUCHER: Ralph, the Secretary said twice yesterday that there was no linkage. He said that there were a number of issues that we had to look at and study. He said that there is clearly an impact, and I think -- Q [Inaudible] MR. BOUCHER: He used the word "impact." He said he "would want to consider what the impact might or might not be vis-a-vis the peace process." Those are his exact words. Q He said it would undercut the peace process. How could it -- why would it undercut? You know, we never, I guess, got around to asking. We kept coming back to the subject about five times. It's sort of like everybody understands this, but nobody quite says it. How could guaranteeing housing loans for Israel -- in what way might it undercut? Because -- why? MR. BOUCHER: Barry, once again I'll go back to exactly what the Secretary said. I'm afraid I don't have anything to add, and we're not in the habit here of trying to offer you a further gloss on the Secretary's words. He said, "We want a little bit of time to review this request and what the impact might or might not be vis-a-vis the peace process." So I think it would be premature for me to try to describe that impact since he said that's an issue that we want to explore. Q Let me ask you a technical question. You may have the -- Q [Multiple questions] Q Excuse me, just a quick one. There have been wildly varying estimates of the set-aside amount, the amount that would be put in reserve if there is a $10 billion -- does the State Department happen to know, because apparently it could go up as high as $2 billion; it would be considerably less than that as well. MR. BOUCHER: Again, I'd have to go back to what the Secretary said yesterday. Q Was he asked that? MR. BOUCHER: He was asked that by Saul Friedman and referred several times to Saul's excellent question. (Laughter) He said that was a question that we would intend to explore during this time. Q Saul's not here today, by the way. Q How do we go about exploring that a little more thoroughly, rather than having the State Department just keep waffling on that? (Laughter) Seriously. MR. BOUCHER: We go about working with the other government departments and, as the Secretary said, consulting closely with the Congress, and, when we have an answer for you, we'll be glad to give it to you. Q [Inaudible] OMB responsibility. Is the State Department in communication with the OMB to try and determine the amount of the set-aside? MR. BOUCHER: Bill, at this point I'll stick with what the Secretary said yesterday. Q Richard, will the Secretary discuss the question of the loan guarantees to the Israelis when he talks with Arab leaders on this trip? MR. BOUCHER: That's something I'm going to have to leave to him. Q Richard, did the Administration not favor the intention of Israel's supporters to tack this provision onto the foreign assistance appropriation bill? MR. BOUCHER: Again, Alan, the Secretary expressed very clearly yesterday in repeated questions from you all -- you were there; I was there -- what we favored, what his intentions were, what he hoped and believed and expected we could get from Congress in terms of dealing with the issue. I don't have anything further to add. Q He said that he wanted a little more time. My question is, does the Administration want this matter to be considered separately from that bill? MR. BOUCHER: I don't have a specific position on specific bills. I have the position that the Secretary expressed yesterday. I'm not in a position to go beyond that. Q Did the Department take note of the interview given by Israeli Prime Minister Yitzak Shamir yesterday in which he discussed his record in the days when he headed the Stern gang and justified the acts of assassination committed by that group as justified by the means -- sorry -- justified by the end of establishing a Jewish state? MR. BOUCHER: We saw the press reports on this. I would say that our view on the subject remains clear and consistent. No matter what the justification or objective, we condemn terrorism, period. Q And you consider those acts to have been terrorism? MR. BOUCHER: I'm not in a position to analyze those specific acts of 40 or 50 years ago. I think our position on terrorism is very clear -- again, saying no matter what the justification or objective, we condemn terrorism. Q The Secretary said yesterday that he would urge Congress to go slow on the loan guarantee request. Has he had any response from congressional leaders to that request? MR. BOUCHER: I forgot to check this morning on whether he's had any contacts at this point with Congress. He mentioned himself as well as the Administration. That's something I'll have to check for you and see if we can tell you about it. Q O.K. And also was Ambassador Strauss here this morning, do you know? MR. BOUCHER: Was he here this morning? Q Conferring with the Secretary? MR. BOUCHER: I'm not aware of any specific meetings, but he's still around town. He hasn't gone back yet. Q Richard, just for the record, the meeting Friday afternoon with Ambassador Shoval, has the State Department been told that he will be bringing a formal request for the loan guarantee? MR. BOUCHER: As the Secretary said yesterday, he expects to receive a request this week before he heads off to Mexico and Moscow. As for precisely what the Ambassador is going to bring, that's a question you'll have to ask him. Q Can we get a photo-op for that session? MR. BOUCHER: I'll see. Q Would we make a formal request -- MR. BOUCHER: The formal request has been made. Q A speaking photo-op. Q Yes. A real photo-op. Q Not a silent -- Q Not the State Department type. [Laughter] Q With the fallout somewhat less than an hour before the picture. MR. BOUCHER: Why do they call it a "photo-op"? Q I guess that's it. Q No. We have some more. MR. BOUCHER: O.K. We've got a few more here. Let's go over here. Q In your history, how many times you have announced such kind of five principles by which foreign country are ordered to follow? Is it the in your country to -- MR. BOUCHER: First of all, I had no idea how many times we've announced principles that govern our relationships and the way that we would hope that others would govern their actions. The Secretary made very clear in the principles and in his statements yesterday that our views about the best way to resolve questions in the Soviet Union were based on the Helsinki Final Act, the Charter of Paris and other international documents and obligations. So I wouldn't use your characterization of the principles that he enunciated yesterday. Q Could you have any -- did you have any reaction or information whether the Soviet people felt a little humiliated for your five principles? MR. BOUCHER: I haven't heard anything like that. I believe the Soviet Foreign Minister this morning said he looked forward to discussing them with Secretary Baker. Q Has Baker been in touch with Pankin recently? MR. BOUCHER: Do you mean like on the phone? Q Either in writing or on the phone? MR. BOUCHER: I don't think so. Q Has he talked to him? MR. BOUCHER: I don't think he has. I'll double-check that. Q By the way, have there been further Baker contacts with Shamir or the Foreign Minister of Israel? MR. BOUCHER: No. Q Still on Israel just one second, Richard, the Israelis have announced -- since Baker was last in Israel, I'll say -- a series of new settlements, some of which have actually begun with steps toward construction and so on. Has the U.S. had any further dealings with the Israelis on that question -- the question of settlements as distinct from the aid issue? MR. BOUCHER: I don't know. I'll have to check on that. Q And does the State Department have a view of Israel's decision to increase defense spending and run an even larger deficit and probably boost inflation even while needing American -- or asking for American support? MR. BOUCHER: At this point, Barry, my information is that the Israeli budget hasn't yet been submitted to the Knesset, and the text hasn't even been released, so I really can't speculate on how this might affect U.S. aid programs. Q Richard, the Prime Minister of Slovenia is supposed to be seeing somebody upstairs this afternoon. Has the State Department taken a position on recognition of Slovenia once it declares its independence from Yugoslavia? MR. BOUCHER: The answer is no. On the meetings, I can tell you who he's meeting with. Slovenian Prime Minister, Mr. Peterle, will be meeting at 3:15 today with Deputy Secretary Eagleburger. The Deputy Secretary is also seeing the Foreign Minister of Macedonia, Mr. Malevski, at 4:30 p.m. today. We have regular contacts with various leaders in Yugoslavia. This is part of those continuing contacts when we talk about the situation and make sure our views are clearly known. Q What are those views on recognition of those republics, should they become independent? MR. BOUCHER: At this point, there has been no change in our policy on recognition. Q Richard, another subject: The Government of the Philippines has recently reached an agreement with commercial banks on cutting its debt. Does the United States intend to do anything to back up that agreement in terms of the Philippines' debt situation? MR. BOUCHER: I'll have to check on that, Alan. Q Could you post an answer if you've got one? MR. BOUCHER: I will try. Q Yesterday, Richard, the Secretary indicated he wanted -- the U.S. would like to see control of nuclear weapons under some kind of central authority. Does today's actions by the Deputy Congress there give any encouragement or discouragement, and what do you see in today's actions in terms of nuclear security? MR. BOUCHER: I guess I'm not familiar enough with today's actions at this point to know if they even addressed the issue of nuclear weapons. I did say that we felt that the working out of arrangements, the passage of this legislation, was a hopeful sign. The Secretary, I believe, yesterday said clearly first and foremost the issue that they're dealing with, that they need to deal with, is sorting out the relationships between the republics and between the republics and the center. And we certainly hope the passage of this legislation will contribute to that goal. Q There was, I gather, a state council with Gorbachev in the chair and the leaders of the republics on it. Is that the sort of thing that the Secretary was talking was when he was talking about central authority? MR. BOUCHER: We have said before that it's for the Soviets themselves to determine the precise arrangements, and they'll be working those out. Q Will the Secretary meet with Mr. Gorbachev? MR. BOUCHER: I believe I was asked earlier about questions like that. We're still trying to arrange meetings with Soviet leaders. We have requested meetings with Gorbachev, Yeltsin, as well as many others. At this point, we don't have confirmation, but I would expect him to meet with Soviet leaders as he's done, I think, on each of his previous trips. Q Could we do two other areas? I've been trying to ask about South Africa's new proposals yesterday. Your reaction? MR. BOUCHER: We don't intend to comment on the specifics of the various proposals that are sure to be floated during the upcoming negotiations on a new constitution for South Africa. We expect all South African political groups will take their proposals for the new constitution to the negotiating table. These matters are for the South African people to decide. We would urge them as well to take advantage of opportunities to begin those negotiations as soon as possible. Q What about the ANC's apparent rejection of the proposals? MR. BOUCHER: Again, I think that they'll -- this is part of a negotiating process. We're not going to comment on each particular proposal or reaction to it. Q Anything else that you'd care to comment on -- MR. BOUCHER: No. Q -- that I hadn't -- O.K. I've got to ask you about the Kiwis. Nobody else will. The meeting today and yesterday -- does that signify any thaw in the relations? MR. BOUCHER: New Zealand Labor Party leader Moore is in Washington this week on a visit as leader of the opposition. He has meetings scheduled here with Assistant Secretary of State Solomon today and with Under Secretary Zoellick tomorrow. As you know, as leader of the opposition in New Zealand, Mr. Moore plays an important role in his country. We often meet with opposition leaders of other countries. These meetings are no departure from past practice. In fact, in 1989 State Department officials met with members of the National Party at a high level when they were in the opposition. Q Do you expect anything to result from the meeting or from the meeting yesterday with the New Zealand Ambassador? MR. BOUCHER: Nothing in particular that I'm aware of. Q Richard, on Yugoslavia again: Do the meetings today have -- is the U.S. sending a message in these meetings today with regard to the EC meeting on the 7th -- I think it's Saturday or Sunday -- in The Hague? Is the U.S. making some other kind of proposal? I thought the U.S. was basically going to stay out of that EC effort. MR. BOUCHER: The United States has expressed its support for that EC effort. I believe the Secretary did again yesterday. We certainly support that effort. We believe that that offers a peaceful way of working out the problems in Yugoslavia, and I would expect that that view would be stated at the meetings we have with Yugoslav people -- leaders from anywhere they come from. Q Is the U.S. represented in any way by an observer or anything at the EC meeting that deals with this? MR. BOUCHER: I don't think we are. I'll have to double-check that. Q Thank you. Q One more on the Baltics. You said Mr. Kamman was signing memoranda of understanding with these governments. Apart from the matter of recognition, does that cover anything else? MR. BOUCHER: It covers -- it basically deals with issues like privileges and immunities and the exchange of diplomats. He's had some discussions on the question of facilities, but at this point he hasn't concluded anything on facilities. Q Does the U.S. have the money to put up -- Q Green around the -- Q -- embassies in three new countries? I mean, where does the State Department have the authority to do that? MR. BOUCHER: I hadn't inquired. I assume it's one of these things that we want to do, and we'll find the money somewhere. Q Come out of the travel funds. Q [Multiple comments] MR. BOUCHER: O.K. [The briefing concluded at 1:51 p.m.]