US Department of State Daily Press Briefing #148, Thursday, 10/3/91

Tutwiler Source: State Department Spokesman Margaret Tutwiler Description: 12:00 PM, Washington, DC Date: Oct 3, 199110/3/91 Category: Briefings Region: MidEast/North Africa, E/C Europe, East Asia, Subsaharan Africa Country: Israel, USSR (former), Haiti, Zaire Subject: Mideast Peace Process, Regional/Civil Unrest, Democratization, Arms Control, Trade/Economics, Military Affairs, Travel, OAS, Narcotics (ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED) MS. TUTWILER: I don't really have anything. I can give you, if you would like, an update on the situation in Haiti. Our Embassy reports little change in the situation from what I gave you yesterday. Port-au-Prince remains quiet but tense. There were some reports of looting yesterday but no large crowds are in the streets. There still is some scattered firing. The airport was still closed as of this morning, and some stores opened yesterday for about an hour. We still have no reports of injuries or deaths involving United States citizens. The Embassy's warden system continues to operate, and we continue to urge all U.S. citizens to stay indoors and that Americans, obviously, should put off travel at this time to Haiti. As I said yesterday, our position remains the same. We're not sure who is control of the central government. It remains unclear, for the same reasons I stated yesterday. The military continues to patrol the streets. The Haitian Senate and Chamber of Deputies, as I mentioned yesterday, met yesterday. They met separately to consider the situation, and both meetings adjourned with no action taken. That's about it. Q There's no injury or even death, certainly, to Americans. MS. TUTWILER: No. Q Is there an anti-American sentiment that you can detect; [inaudible] administration has been leading the charge? MS. TUTWILER: No, not in any of the reporting that I've read. No. Q Can you give us an update on the evacuation situation, Margaret? Have forces been moved closer to Haiti to assist in the evacuation if such a thing becomes necessary? Do you have plans for an evacuation? Just whatever you can tell us on it. MS. TUTWILER: Not a lot. As you know, every Ambassador is charged with, and every United States post that we have around the world, with the care and feeding of American citizens and protection of Americans, obviously. Every Ambassador at every post always has contingency planning. The Secretary of Defense addressed himself to this question last night. The Defense Department will tell you today, as they did yesterday, that it is the Department's long-standing policy not to discuss future operations. The Department of Defense is closely monitoring the situation in Haiti, and it is prudent for the Department to be prepared to take appropriate action in defense of American lives in case it is determined that such action is warranted. That will be obviously the same thing that Marlin [Fitzwater] will be saying today from the White House. We never discuss what our contingency plans are. I would like to clear up one thing. I saw a report right before the briefing that a wire service had put out that there is some type of order to evacuate non-essential personnel and dependents. That's simply not true as of this briefing. If it was, obviously, we would be taking care of the American community there at the same time. Q You say a wire service reported -- MS. TUTWILER: A wire? Q There have been several wire service reports. You have a wire service report that says the evacuation of Americans has been ordered? MS. TUTWILER: I have a wire service report that some unnamed official here in this building told them that there is some type of evacuation order from this building that's been given to the Ambassador. I'm stating that that's not -- I've just told you a report I saw. I didn't say it's yours. Q I would say I'm aware of two wire services. Neither says it's theirs. Q I think (inaudible) story which -- MS. TUTWILER: I didn't say it was yours. Q -- says that the Ambassador has asked that all non-essential personnel -- MS. TUTWILER: I've seen that story also. Q And what can you say about that? MS. TUTWILER: What I won't do is discuss any private conversations through diplomatic channels that our Ambassador has here with the personnel in the Department. But I can tell you that as of right now -- and I'm not trying to tell you in 3 hours it will change -- there is no such order that has been given. It is a situation that I've just described as calm. I have described the street situation for you for 2 days. Obviously, it is a tense situation. I've described every day this week that there has been only one incident of an American that was, as we described, roughed up one night. This is something that has simply not been directed. It obviously is something that -- we are aware of the situation in Haiti. We are watching it -- our government -- very closely, and we always have contingency plans. Q If such a request has been made, what would it take to order that into action? I mean, if the Ambassador has requested this, and that seems to -- MS. TUTWILER: I didn't say that he had. Q But there's a story that says that he did, and there's no denial. MS. TUTWILER: There's always lots of stories out there. Q Yes, but that hasn't been denied. What would it take to get the Department -- the Administration -- to order such an evacuation of non-essential personnel? MS. TUTWILER: We do it all the time. You just give an order. A decision is based, Bill, whether it's this situation or most recently in Liberia. If you remember that situation, I believe it was about 2,000 Americans that we got out of there. This goes on all the time. You have obviously consultations with your Ambassador, with your personnel on the ground, with the experts here, and the policy and decision-makers here, and a decision is made. Q Let me just take it one step further. Is there any reason to believe that this will not happen? Because you're suggesting that the situation -- MS. TUTWILER: That's asking me to crystal-ball it. Q No. You're suggesting that the situation is calm. MS. TUTWILER: I said calm but tense. Q Right. MS. TUTWILER: No one is denying that it is a totally normal situation that it was a week ago. No one is suggesting that. But that's quite different than coming out and telling you the American Embassy was bombed this morning; Americans are being rounded up and kidnapped; Americans are being murdered. That's quite different. Q But reported -- MS. TUTWILER: Correct. Q But we should not be surprised to see -- MS. TUTWILER: It's not going on. Q -- such an evacuation order for non-essential personnel. MS. TUTWILER: This is all hypothetical. If the situation on the ground changed where Americans in that community -- and yesterday, I believe, I said there were approximately 8,000 by our count -- were in danger, it is always the American Government's view, it is our policy, it's what we always do, in consultation with the Ambassador there on the ground to do what we can to get Americans out of harm's way. That goes on anywhere. Q But that's if the situation changes, you just said. MS. TUTWILER: Right. That's right. Q Which suggests that if the situation remains as it is now, there wouldn't be an evacuation. MS. TUTWILER: Right. Why would you evacuate? Q That's my question. Q You're saying it's unsafe for people to go out doors. You don't consider that unsafe? Q Margaret, short of an ordered departure for non-essential personnel, which is one gradation -- sometimes there are voluntary departures -- are we at that status? MS. TUTWILER: Not that I know of. Q So we're not even at the status of non-essential personnel are advised that they may leave if they want to -- and dependents? MS. TUTWILER: Not that I'm personally aware of. (TO STAFF] Are you, Richard [Boucher]? No, we're not. Q Margaret, do you have any criteria for an evacuation? Would it be the safety or lack of safety of American citizens? There would be no -- I'm asking: There would be no political considerations such as a desire to isolate Haiti politically, economically, and diplomatically? MS. TUTWILER: I have never, since I've been here -- and it's almost 3 years now -- heard of a situation where the criteria is based on political considerations. The only criteria I am sincerely aware of has been getting Americans out of harm's way, including a situation like, remember, we just had in Bangladesh. It's not always just violence. There are natural disasters that happen, and we are there, as part of our role and function around the world, to help Americans. Q Margaret, the evacuation of Americans from Libya was for the sort of political reasons that Alan is talking about. I know that wasn't on your watch, but it wasn't all that long ago. So it's not inconceivable. MS. TUTWILER: From Libya? Q From Libya. MS. TUTWILER: Oh, yes. You're right. I was just thinking Liberia was on our watch. If it is, Alan, it is literally nothing that I personally have any experience with or ever heard of. Q What you're telling us at the moment is that the present circumstances do not warrant an evacuation and that only if they worsened, would such a decision be made? MS. TUTWILER: But that, again, is the case in every single country in the world. You're asking me to freeze the clock, which I'm willing to do. As of ten minutes after 12:00, I have stated, there is no order from this Department for evacuation of Americans, including non-essential personnel and dependents. Obviously, this situation is being watched very closely, as it has been for days. We have a Task Force upstairs monitoring it. If and when should circumstances change, decisions will be looked at and made, based on that information. Q Margaret, a couple of OAS Foreign Ministers said last night that their countries were withdrawing their Ambassadors from Haiti to demonstrate that they're not recognizing the junta. Can you explain the American rationale for keeping your Ambassador there? And is it just to protect the Americans who -- MS. TUTWILER: I haven't heard any -- I'm not aware of others withdrawing their Ambassadors, and I've heard no conversation here of our withdrawing our Ambassador. Q Cuba and Venezuela. Any others? MS. TUTWILER: You've got a piece of information that hasn't gotten to me this morning. Sorry. Q Margaret, is the Secretary of State going to participate in the high-level delegation to Haiti? MS. TUTWILER: No, he will not. It's undetermined as of this morning who the United States representative will be. It's my understanding that they have not even determined a time -- maybe Chris knows, and I don't yet -- of what time they're leaving. Q Chris, when are they leaving? Can you start those Bartholomew nuclear experts on their way to Moscow yet? MS. TUTWILER: No. I talked to Reggie this morning, and it's just a matter of scheduling right now. So I don't have anything to announce. They're trying to leave as soon as possible. We have always been operating on that it would definitely be before this weekend, but not yet. Q Can I go back to Haiti for just a moment? MS. TUTWILER: Sure. Q What's involved in the sanctions that the OAS voted last night? What does the United States have to do to take part in the sanctions against Haiti? MS. TUTWILER: What do you mean, "What do we have to do?" We've cut off our aid, so there's our economic part. I'm not aware, specifically, of any other specifics other than isolating the community politically and diplomatically. Q I'm sorry, I didn't make myself clear. Does this apply to private business that does business with Haiti as well? Are there sanctions against private business? MS. TUTWILER: At this point in time, not that I know of. Q How has the United States helped to isolate Haiti diplomatically? MS. TUTWILER: We had a meeting last night -- or the OAS had a meeting -- that we view as a historical meeting. They issued, in our experts' opinions, one of the strongest, if not the strongest, statement they've ever issued. We were represented there at the highest level of this Department by the Secretary of State. I don't know -- but you say you were there all night -- how many Foreign Ministers were there. I believe there were lots of Foreign Ministers there. That's for starters -- was his participation yesterday. Q Margaret, about week ago -- more than a week ago, I guess -- the President asked the United Nations General Assembly to rescind its Zionism-is-racism resolution. Can you -- I don't know if you have the material there, but can you update us on what the U.S. is doing, has done since then, to try to get that resolution? Or are they expecting just countries to come to their own conclusions? MS. TUTWILER: Countries will obviously, one way or the other, Barry, come to their own conclusions. The Secretary hasn't, to my knowledge, in the 2 or 3 days we've been here this week, done anything about it. But in every meeting at the U.N. that I was in, when he had a bilateral with one of his counterparts, he brought this up. He said how important this was to the United States, and he discussed this issue with them. Now, I can't say that in every single one, but in the vast majority, he definitely discussed it. Q Do you have any notion of how this is going to be -- is the U.S. taking the lead? Do you have any targeted date to do this, or was it -- MS. TUTWILER: I would argue that the President took the lead in his speech to the United Nations General Assembly and that it was a very forceful lead and a very strong, strong statement. As far as the mechanism of the United Nations system, no, I don't have that with me. Q Margaret, I believe during the Israeli Foreign Minister's speech at the U.N. this week, a number of Arab delegations, as usual, walked out. Does that bode well for rescinding this resolution or for the sort of dialogue that we like to see in a peace conference? MS. TUTWILER: I'm not aware of what Arab Foreign Ministers, I guess, or delegations did or did not walk out. Q The President of the General Assembly was one of them. MS. TUTWILER: Obviously, it's not something that the United States would applaud. It is obviously not something that the United States believes should be going on at the United Nations, but I want to be careful here. I don't want to comingle all the thousands of different issues that you know we're dealing with. We are working very, very hard so that that type of behavior can cease in the future, to be honest with you. If you get this peace conference started, if you get these people talking directly to each other, maybe everybody will have a big change. Q You mean there is a justifiable reason to walk out? MS. TUTWILER: I did not say there is a justifiable -- Q You don't want to comingle issues. You mean there -- what do you mean "comingle issues"? MS. TUTWILER: I don't want to get into a big brouhaha here over what you know and I know are very different policies. You know and I know that individual nations do not speak, et cetera. Our policy is well known. It is extremely public and articulated. And, no, I'm not condoning that whatsoever. David? Q Margaret, can I ask you a question about the peace conference? Is it still envisioned that it be a ministerial conference or has any thought been given, as we get hopefully closer to it, about who would actually come from each country? MS. TUTWILER: I'm not aware that there's ever been any announcement publicly made at what level participation would be. Q Has some date been set about sending invitations? When will invitations be sent? MS. TUTWILER: That's something that the President and President Gorbachev will be determining. Q The Mayor of Tel Aviv this morning made a statement on Israeli radio that Israel must negotiate or should negotiate with the PLO. Do you have any comment on such a statement? MS. TUTWILER: Who said this? Q The Mayor of Tel Aviv. MS. TUTWILER: I haven't seen that, no. I'm not going to comment on something I haven't seen. Q Some European newspapers are reporting today that the U.S. is planning to relocate the bases that were in the Philippines to Indonesia. Do you have anything on that? MS. TUTWILER: I hadn't seen that. Q Has there been ever any discussion on this topic? Has there been any diplomatic negotiation with the Indonesian Government to relocate forces there or strengthen the American (inaudible)? MS. TUTWILER: Not that I personally have knowledge of. Q Margaret, could I revive my question from yesterday about Vietnam and the involuntary repatriation of boat people? MS. TUTWILER: Yes. Basically, Alan, we don't have a lot for you other than to tell you that our position on involuntary repatriation is well known. We are talking to both the British Government and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees on this subject. As you know, we have been for months; and once we have had a chance to examine the details of the new proposal, we will have more to say. Q Margaret, would you go back to Haiti for a minute? MS. TUTWILER: Haiti? Q Yes. Can you tell us why the Secretary decided not to go on that high-level delegation? His presence would seem to give it a great deal more clout than it would have without him. MS. TUTWILER: That's probably true, but the Secretary of State has private, personal plans for this weekend that were scheduled, to be honest with you, 6 months ago; and he was understandably, I would argue, after having been on the road for over 3 weeks -- and many of you have known the schedule that he has been keeping, not only for the past 3 weeks, but I will remind you of a month of travel in July -- he's taking, I think it's a day off. That's why. And we don't even known when the delegation, as I said, is leaving. So it's an honest answer. Q Is that the total reason for his not going? I mean should the delegation leave on Tuesday or Wednesday next week, he might go? MS. TUTWILER: That's something for the OAS to determine. They are determining right now when they are going to leave, which I don't even know. But if they are leaving today, then the Secretary of State will not be the United States representative on that trip. Q Are you leaving open the possibility that he might be a representative if the trip leaves to coincide with his schedule? MS. TUTWILER: I guess anything is possible, but I've never heard it come up. My understanding is they're actively working very fast right now for this mission to leave very soon. Q Margaret, you said that Bush and Gorbachev would be deciding the timing. MS. TUTWILER: No -- would be issuing the invitations, they said. Q They will be issuing the invitations? MS. TUTWILER: Sure. They're the ones who issued a call for this in July at the Moscow summit. It's co-sponsored by the heads of state of the United States and Soviet Union. They're the ones who put out the statement, remember, in July. Q Would the invitations then go to heads of state or heads of government? MS. TUTWILER: That kind of detail is also being worked out. Q Mr. Husseini and Miss Ashrawi are -- Q (Inaudible) MS. TUTWILER: In most cases, Mark, yes. Q Mr. Husseini and Miss Ashrawi are waiting to meet with Mr. Baker on Tuesday. You said "very soon." Do you have a timetable, say, for a meeting? MS. TUTWILER: Very soon. I have not heard your Tuesday date. Q You said it would be very soon. Q On Tuesday, you said. MS. TUTWILER: I said every day this week [laughter] that the Secretary -- I've said every day this week that the Secretary of State would expect to meet with them very soon. I have not set a date or venue. I'm still not -- Q They've been meeting. Q But given his schedule, it could hardly be before next Tuesday; right? MS. TUTWILER: He returns to this city on Monday. Q How about Wyoming? MS. TUTWILER: No! [Laughter] I said it was private; it was a getaway. Q What time on Monday? Is it Monday evening, Monday afternoon? MS. TUTWILER: My understanding: I heard briefly this morning that the President has a Cabinet meeting on Monday, but I didn't ask what time it is. He will be back for that. Q Do you expect Mr. Baker to go to the Middle East after that? MS. TUTWILER: There's nothing that I have to announce today. He has always said that if it was necessary he would be willing to return to the region. Q Shamir said yesterday that he's coming back. MS. TUTWILER: I haven't seen that. I saw an unnamed Israeli official saying that he was coming back, but that happens every time we leave the region. We're hardly out before they say he's coming back. Q There's a departure that Bartholomew -- this is not a big deal, but as the departure -- MS. TUTWILER: It's O.K. Q -- of the Bartholomew team gets pushed further -- soon, but it's not today and not tomorrow -- MS. TUTWILER: You don't know that it's not tomorrow. Q I don't know what happened to that October -- you know, can you just take care of the business of announcing that the October 9th meeting has been cancelled? MS. TUTWILER: I did that yesterday. Q You cancelled it? You said it -- MS. TUTWILER: I said -- Q -- might have to be postponed. MS. TUTWILER: I said "slipped" -- and that he would be -- Q Slipped. MS. TUTWILER: -- seeing Mr. Obukhov in Moscow -- Q "Slip" to me means they would still come to Washington at a later date. MS. TUTWILER: Not to me. At a later date. Q Slipped. MS. TUTWILER: Sure -- at a later date. But they haven't sat down and talked about it, Barry. Q It's slightly into turf and all. They were to meet in Washington. MS. TUTWILER: No, it's not. Q They're now going to meet in Moscow instead. MS. TUTWILER: No, no, no, no. The Obukhov meeting and the Reggie meeting was scheduled -- Q With the post. Yes, I knew that. MS. TUTWILER: Right. But not the date. Q Right. MS. TUTWILER: The agreement that they would meet after the signing of the START ceremony was in July. What was that, July? -- I can't remember -- whatever the date was. So that's been out there for 8 weeks. But the Soviets, not knowing the President was making this speech on Friday night, said that Obukhov could arrange to be here October 9. That has been overtaken, as you know, by the President's speech, so we have a special mission going there. Mr. Obukhov has to be in those meetings. He and Reggie just simply have not sat down and said when they'll get together on the original subjects they were going to discuss that was decided in July. That's all that's going on. Q Margaret, on Zaire -- which I also asked about yesterday -- MS. TUTWILER: You did. Q Yes. MS. TUTWILER: I couldn't find that quote you gave me. Q Oh, well, it's all over the place -- the human -- MS. TUTWILER: I missed it. We must read different things. I couldn't find it. What do you want to know? I missed it. Q I want to know whether the United States still sees the future of Zaire best served by an alliance between these two people. MS. TUTWILER: The United States is deeply concerned about the bickering and the stubbornness displayed by the party leaders. In our opinion, what is most needed is compromise by all parties. Those within the opposition coalition must agree on the composition of a future government without each party pursuing a hidden agenda. President Mobutu's sympathizers must permit the opposition to hold key cabinet posts. Q Why should Mobutu stay there at all? After all, he's obviously corrupt, he's undemocratic, and he's turned a potentially rich country into a basket case; and the United States doesn't need him any more because the Angolan civil war is over. So why should he stay at all? MS. TUTWILER: Our policy, Alan, is that we believe that it is up to the Zairian people to decide the future of their own government and country. Q He's been there for 26 years, and he's never allowed them to decide anything. [Laughter] So why should we have any confidence in him? MS. TUTWILER: Can I put you down as undecided? [Laughter] Q I just want to know if that's ON BACKGROUND at this point. [Laughter] MS. TUTWILER: Right. [Laughter] Q I mean it's questionable whether the animals in that pathetic zoo he has or the people in the pathetic city he has are leading more miserable lives. Q Alan is trying to make sure that he never gets back again. [Laughter] Q If we just put his name in the transcript I think that will take care of him. [Laughter] Q We're not being diplomatic here, but -- MS. TUTWILER: No, no. I couldn't have guessed. [Laughter] Q Margaret? MS. TUTWILER: Yes. Q In Jack McWethy's absence, could I ask you if you have anything now on his question about East European and Soviet journalists and their access? MS. TUTWILER: To be quite honest -- let's be realistic -- this is not something that is not going to change, as all of you know. And -- what is it now? -- it's been 24 hours. It is a question that -- he asked it again yesterday; it's 2 days. This is something that, as I stated yesterday, I have discussed at an extremely senior level in this Department with the Deputy Secretary. Mr. McWethy had a conversation yesterday with our Deputy Spokesman, Mr. Boucher. He knows what we're doing on it; he knows we're working on it. This is not just something you wave a magic wand over. So we're working on it. Q Margaret, you didn't possibly answer this question, but I will ask it. Do you have any comment on the ExIm report about Israel's economy? MS. TUTWILER: No. Q The Bank -- MS. TUTWILER: No. Q -- Export-Import Bank? MS. TUTWILER: No. Q No comment? MS. TUTWILER: Nothing. Q I came in late, Margaret. Did you do Haiti? [Laughter] MS. TUTWILER: We've done Haiti. Q We'll do it all over again for you. MS. TUTWILER: We've done Haiti. Q I can't wait to read the transcript conclusion. Q Thank you. MS. TUTWILER: Thank you all. (The briefing concluded at l2:25 p.m.)