US Department of State Daily Press Briefing #132, Tuesday, 9/10/91

Boucher Source: State Department Deputy Spokesman Richard Boucher Description: 12:43 PM, Washington, DC Date: Sep 10, 19919/10/91 Category: Briefings Region: MidEast/North Africa, E/C Europe, East Asia, Eurasia, Subsaharan Africa, Europe Country: Iraq, Yugoslavia (former), Croatia, Slovenia, Serbia-Montenegro, Israel, USSR (former), South Africa, Philippines, Angola, Cyprus, Poland, Greece Subject: Mideast Peace Process, Regional/Civil Unrest, Democratization, CSCE, Military Affairs, Human Rights (ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED) MR. BOUCHER: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. I don't have any statements or announcements today, so I'd be glad to take your questions. MR. GEDDA (AP): Pass. Q Do you have anything on the alleged incursion by Iraqis into Kuwait? MR. BOUCHER: We know from our Embassy that the Iraqis have -- the Iraqis -- the Kuwaitis have released a press release out there on it, describing an incident involving, I think it was, an Iraqi jeep and a Kuwaiti patrol. We don't have any more information on the incident itself at this point, and we'll be looking to our Embassy to get more information and look to UNIKOM as well to report whatever they can tell us. Q Follow-up on that: Is there anything that you have on the reported clashes between Iraqi soldiers and Kurds? MR. BOUCHER: The situation in the north, as we understand it, is that tensions remain high around Kirkuk. There have been sporadic clashes between Iraqi forces and Kurdish elements in this area, but the current situation remains unclear. Elsewhere in the region, we have seen press reports claiming that Iraqi troops and Kurdish groups have clashed. We have no confirmation of some reports that helicopter gunships have been used above the 36th parallel. Obviously, we're paying very close attention to this area and to the cautions that have previously been laid down by the coalition. Q Richard, the Iraqis are now saying that they won't let the U.N. choppers fly over munitions -- suspected munitions locations. MR. BOUCHER: Iraq informed representatives of the U.N. Special Commission on September 8 that it would not allow the Special Commission to fly its helicopters over Iraqi territory. This is a direct contravention of the language of U.N. Security Council Resolution 707 which required that Iraq "must allow the Special Commission, the IAEA, and their inspection teams to conduct both fixed-wing and helicopter flights throughout Iraq for all relevant purposes, including inspection, surveillance, aerial surveys, transportation, and logistics without interference of any kind, and upon such terms and conditions as may be determined by the Special Commission, and to make full use of their own aircraft and such airfields in Iraq as they may determine are most appropriate for the work of the commission." That long sentence was part of the U.N. resolution. This defiance of U.N. Security Council resolutions is clearly unacceptable. We support the work of the Special Commission and the IAEA in eliminating Iraq's weapons of mass destruction and agree that to effectively do its job, the Special Commission and the IAEA's inspection teams must have full freedom of movement within Iraq. We are in consultations with other members of the Security Council to decide the most appropriate means to ensure that Iraq complies with all U.N. Security Council resolutions, including Resolution 707. Q Is force one of the possibilities? MR. BOUCHER: Jim, we never rule out options, so I think I can assure you that we'd be looking at all options. I think we've also emphasized our strong support for a strict process of inspection by the U.N. teams and our strong support for the way they've conducted themselves so far, and we would expect the Iraqis to comply with the resolutions and allow the teams to do their work. Q Richard, a follow-up: Is there any consideration -- if force is used at this point, is there consideration that it might affect the Middle East peace talks? MR. BOUCHER: That would be totally hypothetical for me. I can't rule out options, but I'm not going to speculate on particular ones. Q Another possibility would appear to be the amount that Iraq will be permitted to earn from oil exports. I think the Secretary General has proposed that their quota be upped to -- by $600 million, is it? MR. BOUCHER: I think, Jim, we've heard about the reports, and certainly we talked to the U.N. during the process of preparation, but I'm told that the report itself is actually just out today, and we're getting a copy. So I don't have any real comment on that report at this point. Q This is the Secretary General's report on it? MR. BOUCHER: Yes, on the resolution about oil exports and food imports. Q Prior to the publication of that report, is the U.N. -- sorry -- is the U.S. position unchanged that the amount of oil that Iraq should be allowed to sell be set as it was -- when was that? a month ago, or whatever? MR. BOUCHER: The amount was set -- Q $1.6 billion, wasn't it? MR. BOUCHER: My understanding is the amount was set by the Council and that there may be a recommendation in the report. But, as I said, as I haven't seen it yet and don't know what further action by the Council might be taken, I just can't speculate at this point. Q Have you called on Iraqi diplomats about the U.N. inspectors? MR. BOUCHER: I don't think we have at this point. Q Another subject? MR. BOUCHER: Sure. Q Was the Prime Minister of Poland in the building today? MR. BOUCHER: I don't think so. I'll double-check that. Q Could you double-check it -- MR. BOUCHER: Yes. Q -- because there's some confusion about whether he was or whether he wasn't. But at any rate, he didn't appear on the daily schedule of events in the State Department, and I think if he, in fact, was in the building -- I wouldn't prejudge the issue -- but if he was in the building, we would want to know why he wasn't on the daily schedule. MR. BOUCHER: I'm sure you would, and I would as well, Alan, and I'll check into it and see if he was here. Q Do you have any comment -- the human rights conference opened in Moscow today, and Mr. Gorbachev gave the keynote speech; talked about Soviet commitment to human rights, etc. Any comment on that? MR. BOUCHER: I think you just said my comment. First of all, I'd note that there was a meeting yesterday -- a special meeting of CSCE Foreign Ministers -- sorry, today -- at which Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia were formally admitted as full members of the CSCE by consensus of all the participating states, including the United States representative, Ambassador Max Kampelman. The Foreign Ministers' meeting took place just prior to the opening of the Moscow Human Rights Conference. The U.S., which has long supported the right of the Baltic states to apply for and receive membership in the CSCE, warmly welcomes this action. The admission of the Baltic states is a strong affirmation of the importance of CSCE principles in structuring the emerging Europe. We look forward to the new members' active participation in implementing these principles all across Europe, beginning at the Moscow Human Rights Conference. As you note, that conference began today with a welcoming speech by Soviet President Gorbachev. He focused in his speech on human rights, and there have now been opening presentations by several of the participating states. My understanding is that Secretary Baker will give our opening presentation for the U.S. tomorrow afternoon. Q Richard, following the Baltic independence declarations, there have been other announcements of Soviet republics declaring their own independence from the Soviet Union. Does the United States now take any position on whether they will be recognized, first, and whether they should be admitted to such organizations as a CSCE? MR. BOUCHER: I don't have any new positions for you, Jim. As you know, some of those declarations have various aspects, including some referenda that are still to come. The President said a week or so ago that we would have to deal with those on a case-by-case basis and that remains the case. Q The Kuwait human rights -- there's a human right report on Kuwait today, released in New York. Have you any -- you're aware of it, and anything -- MR. BOUCHER: I'm not familiar with it. I hadn't heard about it. Q Richard, what's the outlook for a Mideast peace conference now with the intransigent position of Shamir and the problems evolving from that direction. MR. BOUCHER: The outlook, from my point of view, is that the Secretary is going to the region and I'm sure he'll express outlook as he conducts his meetings out there. Q It was reported that Secretary Baker sent a letter to the Greek Premier, Mr. Mitsotakis, and to Cypriot President, Mr. Vassiliou, in Cyprus. Any comment on that? And may we have a copy? MR. BOUCHER: That's something I'll have to check on. I just saw the report before I walked in here, and I didn't have a chance to check. Q Any comment on the referendum of the so-called Macedonia republic? MR. BOUCHER: Our understanding is that a large majority voted in favor of a sovereign and independent Macedonia which would have the right to join a Yugoslav union of sovereign states. Macedonian leaders, including the Macedonian Foreign Minister who met with the Deputy Secretary last week, told us that this vote expresses Macedonia's interest in having an equal voice in the dialogue on Yugoslavia's future, its preference that a Yugoslav community be preserved, and its determination not to stay in a Yugoslavia dominated by Serbia. Q How does the United States view the foreign policy vis-a-vis the territorial integrity and the political union of Yugoslavia, under the circumstances? MR. BOUCHER: I don't think this vote changes it. As I said, they voted on a sovereign and independent Macedonia which would have the right to join a Yugoslav union. We've always said that the arrangements for whatever the Yugoslavs make themselves in order to live together, we would ask that those be made peacefully and democratically. But whatever arrangements they work out are fine with us. Q Last week the Congress of People's Deputies was disbanded and this new State Council was set up. There was some concern with the State Department at the time to wait and see just exactly what sort of authority it had and how it functioned. You've had a little time since then. What is the assessment right now? Is there an effective central authority functioning there? Are you encouraged by what you see in terms of the governmental structure? MR. BOUCHER: I don't have an assessment for you, Pat. I don't think anybody promised one. We've said that this is an on-going process that's taking place in the Soviet Union. I think we've welcomed any progress in movement there was that can contribute to more clearly defining the relationships between the center and the republics. You will remember that was one of the things the Secretary mentioned last week. It's one of the things that he felt they first and foremost had on their agenda. When these proposals were put forward and passed, we welcomed the prospects that that could lead to further clarification in this area. But, as I said, it's an on-going process. In the course of events and meetings and things like that, these relationships will probably clarify themselves further. Q Is the State Department still dealing with the central government authorities? Do they still seem to have authority over there? MR. BOUCHER: Again, we're still dealing and meeting with political figures and authorities in the Soviet Union at various levels, depending on the issues. We have a wide variety of contacts. I don't have a full list of the Secretary's meetings in Moscow, but you can expect to see him talking to central authorities, republic authorities, different people across the political spectrum there. Q Richard, such august authorities as the New York Times have now switched to St. Petersburg in their description of what used to be called Leningrad. Is the forward-looking State Department joining this bandwagon, or are you still entrenched in your old-style communist nomenclature? [Laughter] MR. BOUCHER: The forward-looking State Department is looking forward to using the nomenclature of St. Petersburg. My understanding of the situation is that the Russian Federation's Supreme Soviet did pass the name-change -- the restoration of the name St. Petersburg -- and that they stipulated that it should become effective on October lst. So, with that in mind, we are taking the appropriate steps so that our nomenclature, on October 1, will become that of calling the city St. Petersburg. Q But it was to be Leningrad when Secretary Baker visits it, according to -- MR. BOUCHER: According to our understanding of the way the Russians have decided things, yes. But it's totally based on whatever they choose to call it, not what's in the New York Times. Q Do you have anything new today about the bases in the Philippines? MR. BOUCHER: As you know, there were very large demonstrations held in the Philippines yesterday that Mrs. Aquino led. She made a speech to supporters of the U.S.-Philippines Treaty of Friendship, Cooperation, and Security. She then led a very large march through a monsoon storm with thunder and lightening to the Philippine Senate where she conferred with the leadership of that body. It is our understanding that this turnout clearly met the expectations of those who wanted to demonstrate the full extent of popular support for the agreement. Q A follow-up. Do you have anything on a compromise which would allow a referendum? MR. BOUCHER: The answer is basically no. I think if you look back at the statements that were made yesterday by very senior officials of our government, including the President, if the treaty is rejected, our plan is to withdraw. Q But they're talking about in the Philippines having to compromise so that -- the vote would be an issue. MR. BOUCHER: At this point, I can't speculate on what might emerge on that. Q Suppose there is no vote by September 16. Is that tantamount to a rejection? MR. BOUCHER: I don't know, George. Again, I think that would be a question that they would have to explain to us on the basis of their own procedures. Q Is the United States preparing some kind of stop-gap emergency aid for Israel while the $10 billion is in abeyance? MR. BOUCHER: Alan, the Secretary was asked that question yesterday in Mexico. I don't have anything to add to what he said. Q [Inaudible] statement of it. MR. BOUCHER: I'll try to get you a transcript. One of the things he said was, "That's all I have to say on the subject." I'm taking that as my guidance. Q South Africa: Anything new? Have you reached any conclusions who was responsible for the violence? MR. BOUCHER: No, we haven't. We don't know who was responsible for the incidents of violence on Sunday. It did lead to a renewed intensification of factional fighting between supporters of the ANC and the Inkatha Freedom Party. As I said yesterday, we've urged the South African Government to investigate it thoroughly. Q Do you have any assessment on what this violence will do to American investment or sanctions -- release of further sanctions, particularly among the states and counties? MR. BOUCHER: No, I don't. Q Do you have an update on the state of the cease-fire in Angola, which Dr. Savimbi is complaining, the terms of which have not been fully honored by the government? MR. BOUCHER: No, I don't, Alan. That's something I'd have to look into. Q Thank you. (Press briefing concluded at 12:57 p.m.)