US Department of State Daily Press Briefing #149, Friday, 10/4/91

Boucher Source: State Department Deputy Spokesman Richard Boucher Description: 12:51 PM, Washington, DC Date: Oct 4, 199110/4/91 Category: Briefings Region: MidEast/North Africa, E/C Europe, East Asia, North America Country: Iraq, Yugoslavia (former), Croatia, Slovenia, Serbia-Montenegro, Israel, USSR (former), Haiti, Japan, Mexico Subject: Mideast Peace Process, Regional/Civil Unrest, Democratization, Arms Control, Immigration, OAS, Travel, State Department (ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED) MR. BOUCHER: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. I thought I'd start off today with the statement we have on Yugoslavia and then -- relieving you of the burden of asking questions -- give you the update on Haiti and tell you about the trip to the Soviet Union. First, Yugoslavia: The Vice President of the Collective Federal Yugoslav Presidency, Branko Kostic, announced yesterday procedures to the effect that a simple majority of those Presidency members present can make decisions on behalf of the Presidency. This decision completely contradicts the spirit and the letter of the Yugoslav system, which was expressly designed to ensure that all republics had a say in decision-making and that no grouping of republics could dominate others. This announcement is a clear attempt by Serbia and Montenegro to seize control of the federal government. In such circumstances, the United States does not accept that this rump group legitimately speaks for Yugoslavia. As we've made clear, the United States, like the European Community, will not recognize any outcome of the Yugoslav crisis that would be based on the use of force. Continued use of aggressive force by the Serbian leadership and its allies, in tandem with the Yugoslav military, will only ensure their exile from the new Europe. You want to do questions on that? Q Would you accept, then, the characterization that has been sort of attributed to a number of analysts and diplomats and what not, that the central authority in Yugoslavia is essentially over? MR. BOUCHER: The institutions of the central government in Belgrade -- that is, the collective federal Presidency, the federal assembly, and the federal government led by Prime Minister Markovic -- are obviously in a state of disarray. The Yugoslav military, of course, has been operating outside the effective control of the civilian government for some time. Its use of force against Croatia is clearly against the will of four of the six Yugoslav republics represented in the Presidency, the President of the Presidency, and the federal government led by Prime Minister Markovic. To go back to what the Secretary said in his September 25 speech to the U.N. Security Council, the apparent objective of the Serbian leadership and the Yugoslav military working in tandem is to create a "small Yugoslavia" or a "greater Serbia." I refer you back to the Secretary's speech and our statement for our views on that. Q Richard, are you, in effect, reassessing your hesitation not to recognize Croatia and Slovenia? MR. BOUCHER: We have always said that we would accept any future political arrangements that are decided on peacefully and democratically by the peoples of Yugoslavia through dialogue and negotiation. We remain convinced that the only lasting way to resolve Yugoslavia's problems is through a peaceful, negotiated solution. We also remain convinced that a lasting settlement for Yugoslavia is not to be found in partial and unilateral solutions. The EC and Lord Carrington are offering a path to peace, and we are urging all parties to take advantage of that opportunity. Q Richard, recognizing that the current situation in Yugoslavia is undesirable to many governments, do you think, though, at this point that the conflict can be contained within its borders, or do you think there is still a threat that it could spread? MR. BOUCHER: That depends on the people themselves. The European Community, Lord Carrington, we and other countries have made very clear that there is not only the need, but also the opportunity to resolve this peacefully. They've created a mechanism to do that. Whether the Yugoslavs take advantage of that prospect, in the end, depends on their own decisions. Q What, if any, additional pressure is the United States prepared to apply diplomatically or otherwise? MR. BOUCHER: As I said before, we've been urging people to take advantage of the opportunity in the EC. We've advised the parties in Yugoslavia, and specifically Slovenia and Croatia, that they should refrain from further unilateral steps; they should remain engaged in The Hague peace conference chaired by Lord Carrington. The European Community and Lord Carrington have also made that clear to the parties. I understand that, at least, some meetings are taking place. Dutch Foreign Minister van den Broek and Lord Carrington met this morning in The Hague with Serbian President Milosevic, Yugoslav Defense Secretary Kadijevic and Croatian President Tudjman. Lord Carrington is also chairing a plenary session of The Hague conference on Yugoslavia today. Q What gives you any hope that these sessions will yield more fruitful resolution than in the past? I guess what you're saying is that you don't have any additional cards, diplomatic or economic, that the United States, in conjunction with the EC, is willing to apply. Is that right? MR. BOUCHER: Diplomatically, there are two aspects of this. There is offering the path to peace, and the second, urging people to take advantage of it. We have been doing that. We've been doing that with people in all the republics. There are discussions underway. We can urge people to pursue this process. We can offer our encouragement along the way, and we can make sure that it's a realistic process that's offered to them. We'll see what that produces. Q Yesterday, the visiting Hungarian Prime Minister suggested that there should be a peacekeeping force put into Yugoslavia to help prevent violence -- to separate the forces, and so forth. Then, he also suggested that perhaps all six republics be recognized and given a time frame to try to work out their problems. Some of them would remain within the union; others, obviously, would leave. Do you have any reaction to those two elements? MR. BOUCHER: I don't, Frank. I hadn't seen those remarks or those proposals. We are supporting the efforts of the European Community. They have offered this option. How the arrangements are worked out really depends on the Yugoslav parties with the EC and Lord Carrington helping them right now. Q How do you feel, specifically, about the possibility that has been talked about of putting in a peacekeeping force in Yugoslavia? And would the United States be prepared to provide some troops or peacekeepers? MR. BOUCHER: It's really premature for us to try to address this at this point. The idea of some sort of peacekeeping effort has been floated and discussed. The WEU Ministers have discussed it. The EC has discussed it. Nobody, as far as I know, has come out with a specific proposal at this point. There are EC monitors there. They've been expanded and enhanced. We certainly supported their role in trying to reduce conflict and monitor what was going on. Q Can I ask you if Acting Secretary of State Bartholomew is soon going to put aside his portfolio as Acting Secretary of State and go to Moscow? I suppose leaving Robert Zoellick in charge. MR. BOUCHER: Should we do Haiti first? That was going to be -- Q I didn't know you had another announcement. MR. BOUCHER: That was going to be number three on my list. Q I'm sorry. I came in a little late. I'm real eager to know if Bartholomew is going to Moscow. MR. BOUCHER: Is there a chorus of "yeas" for Bartholomew, we'll do Bartholomew and then Haiti. Under Secretary Bartholomew and the rest of his briefing team will leave Andrews Air Force Base tonight at 6:00 p.m. They'll be traveling aboard a military aircraft. The team will consist of Under Secretary Bartholomew and five team members plus additional support personnel. To review with you, team members include senior representatives of the NSC, the Department of Defense, Joint Chiefs of Staff, the Arms Control Disarmament Agency and the Department of Energy. The Under Secretary and the team plan to meet in Moscow with senior diplomatic and military officials, including representatives of republics. As you know, their mission is to expand on the details of the President's initiative, to answer any questions the Soviets may have, and to encourage and facilitate rapid and positive Soviet decisions on the matching steps that the President called for. Q Any idea how long they might be there? MR. BOUCHER: Margaret said the other day, four or five days. I tried to get more precise scheduling information and couldn't get it today. Q October 9. Well, October 9 has been moved, but there is still -- is there the possibility of a Washington meeting afterward? MR. BOUCHER: Barry, I think we've answered your question on that about four times. Q No. She said "slipping." MR. BOUCHER: The answer is that it slipped, and that Bartholomew and Obukhov will be talking to each other in Moscow and they will decide about those other meetings. Q If you just substitute "cancel" for "slip," I won't ask it anymore. MR. BOUCHER: I can't do that because I don't know what they're going to decide. Q Well, I don't know what "slip" means. That's my problem. MR. BOUCHER: "Slip" means, at this point, it's not going to take place as scheduled, and that Bartholomew and Obukhov will talk about their meetings and decide when they want to see each other. Q Is the U.S. Government position that unless the Soviet Union complies with or reciprocates -- "matches," I think is the word you used -- with U.S. disarmament plans, that the United States will not be forthcoming in terms of loan guarantees or other economic incentives for the Soviet Union? MR. BOUCHER: That issue was discussed by Secretary Cheney the other day. I believe the President referred once again to the economic assistance for the Soviet Union. He said that Secretary Madigan was out there. If you look at what it was that Cheney said, he said very clearly that we've always maintained the position that there were a lot of economic resources that could be freed up by cuts in military spending and other steps in the defense area. Q That's not really the question, though. The question is -- MR. BOUCHER: That's the policy that Cheney has enunciated, and I'm not, as well as previously, not going to change that at this point. Q Can we do Haiti? MR. BOUCHER: I'll tell you about Haiti. Briefly, the situation in Haiti remains tense. We have no confirmed reports of any injury or serious incident to any American. Some flights have been permitted to land at the airport, but the airport is not open for normal operations. We've heard scattered firing in the city, and there have been scattered reports of violence elsewhere in the island. I know some of you may have seen reports of massacres. We, too, have seen those reports, but we have no confirmation of those. As far as the OAS delegation, the delegation was to depart about noon. I didn't have final confirmation of the wheels-up. Assistant Secretary Aronson is representing the United States. The mission is led by OAS Secretary General Baena Soares and will include the Foreign Ministers of Canada, Argentina, Venezuela, Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, Bolivia and Costa Rica. The mission's purpose is to achieve the objectives of the resolution passed early yesterday by the OAS Foreign Ministers' meeting: "Full restoration of the rule of law and of constitutional order, and the immediate reinstatement of President Aristide in the exercise of his legitimate authority." Q Do they have a scheduled meeting, Richard, with Cedras or any of the other leaders of the junta? MR. BOUCHER: The only meeting that I've been able to confirm so far is that they do have a meeting with Cedras. They're expected to see other Haitian representatives, people from the legislature and other elements from the society. But I don't have, at this point, a schedule confirmed. Q When is the meeting with Cedras, please? MR. BOUCHER: My understanding is, it was this afternoon. I don't know for sure. Q At the airport? MR. BOUCHER: Again, I don't have that kind of detail. I'm sorry. Q Richard, has the number of Americans in Haiti doubled overnight, and what's the story? MR. BOUCHER: There are 7,500 private American citizens registered with our Embassy in Port au Prince. There were a number of Americans who have recently registered with the Embassy. We believe also that there are a large number of Americans who may be living in Haiti without ever having registered with the Embassy. I don't have a clear picture of that. It could be an equal number, but I just don't have that number for you since those people haven't registered. We were asked before what sort of break down or classification of people we could give. Again, I haven't been able to come up with some good numbers subdividing it. I'm told that of the 7,500 private citizens that are registered with the Embassy, they are businessmen, students, missionaries, dependent family members and tourists. I'm told that, by and large, many of these people are dual nationals. Q Is there an estimate on a total number, including these that haven't registered? MR. BOUCHER: At this point, I just can't give you one -- 7,500 registered, plus some large number of people who haven't registered with us. Q Not to belabor the obvious, but the State Department from this podium gave us a number of 8,000 a few days ago. We all went with that number and wrote that number. It's embarrassing to have it suddenly double overnight. MR. BOUCHER: John, I can't confirm for you what the final number is, what the actual number of Americans is. I'm sorry, we give you the best information that we have at the time. I believe we made clear -- I'll look back at the record -- if we didn't, we probably should have -- that the numbers we had were based on registrations. But, you know, all we can do is provide you the best information we've got. I was as upset as you were when I found out about this. Q Richard, Argentina was on the original list of participants in this trip. I notice you did not mention them in your listing. MR. BOUCHER: No, I mentioned it. Canada, Argentina, Venezuela. Q Sorry. Q Aristide said at a news conference earlier today that he has been in touch with Haiti and that the figure he has given for a death toll may be now 500 and still climbing, which indicates continuing violence, that the shooting you hear is finding targets. Anything on the casualty figures or whether there are actual deaths still occurring? MR. BOUCHER: I don't have casualty figures. I don't have any specific reports of deaths. I just can tell you what we've been hearing and that is sporadic fighting, sporadic violence, sporadic firing. Q You have no information on what the mission will do after their meetings this afternoon, do you? MR. BOUCHER: No, I don't. Let me say, George, you may want to check with the OAS. They may have a more complete picture. Q Their phones don't answer. MR. BOUCHER: Well, if we can get you anything more on the meetings that they are having and the schedule that they have, we'll be glad to share that with you. Q At this time the U.S. effort to reestablish the ousted Haitian Government seems very tough. Yesterday -- today, this morning, President Bush received the ousted President, Mr. Aristide, and the day before yesterday you received the credentials of the Ambassador-designate to the United States. This kind of tough policy seems like -- what can I say -- it might be disappointing for a lot of people who are dreaming of a coup d'etat in some other country. MR. BOUCHER: We would hope so. Q So, this kind of tough policy will be your definite future precedent, do you believe? MR. BOUCHER: I'm not going to try to deal with every potential situation that might arise, but certainly our support, and the OAS's support, for the defense of democracy has been expressed very strongly. The OAS in June, I think it was, took some express decisions to involve themselves in opposing any overthrow of democratic institutions, and that's what we are basing this policy on. Q But it seems very unprecedented that you receive the ousted government's ambassador-designate credentials. Do you think -- were there any other precedents? MR. BOUCHER: I don't think that's so unusual, and it's clearly an expression of our respect for and view that the elected government is a legitimate government. Q Could you point in your history, you recognized -- MR. BOUCHER: I'll let you research the history. I'm not prepared to do that right now. Q Richard, do you know if President Aristide will be remaining in the United States while they try to get rid of these guys in Haiti? MR. BOUCHER: I don't know. Q A few diplomats managed to leave Haiti yesterday or today, this morning. They flew to Mexico, reportedly on a U.S. military plane. Is that the case? Two ambassadors. MR. BOUCHER: I hadn't seen that report. I'd have to check on it. Q Richard, is there any intent to evacuate non-essential Embassy personnel, for example, from Haiti? MR. BOUCHER: At this point, the situation as regards evacuations or the Embassy status hasn't changed. I think that's about all I can say on it. We're not planning to evacuate American citizens from Haiti at this time. As far as the future of our staff, at this point we haven't changed their status in terms of ordered departure or voluntary departure, or anything like that. As you know, if we make those kinds of decisions, we always issue a new travel advisory, and we always include private Americans in whatever plans we have. So, should the situation change, as Margaret said yesterday, we would obviously take a look at that and we would inform all the Americans through the warden system, the VOA, the usual means, to help them out. Q Can I change the subject? Would you give me any comment on Japan Prime Minister Kaifu's decision to step down from his position? MR. BOUCHER: The simple answer is, no, I don't have any comment on that. Q Or would you see anything changing on your diplomatic schedule in terms of U.S.-Japan relationship, including the Presidential visit to Tokyo? MR. BOUCHER: I'm not going to comment on the President's visit. My understanding is that Prime Minister Kaifu has not yet announced any changes in his plans. If he should want to do so, that's up to him, but in any case these are internal changes in a foreign government, and we're not going to involve ourselves. Q Any meeting scheduled with the Palestinians at this point? MR. BOUCHER: Very soon. Q Very soon. MR. BOUCHER: I'll stick with what Margaret had yesterday. No, I don't have any new information on that. Q Can you expand on the report out of Paris that the peace conference will be held somewhere in Europe at the end of October? MR. BOUCHER: Steve, the President has already given a much better answer to that question than I could ever hope to do, so I'll stick with him. Q A question that the President didn't answer: Syria is looking for a summit of the five Arab parties concerned by the conference. Are you aware of that? And would that interfere in any way with your plans for a conference? MR. BOUCHER: I'd seen a report, Patrick. At this point, I don't really have any comment one way or the other. Q Concerning President Bush's nuclear initiative, please, are you going to have some prior consultation or give notification before or after the withdrawal of tactical weapon from the nuclear weapon located country? MR. BOUCHER: Well, as far as the general idea of what we are doing with tactical nuclear weapons, the notice is already what the President has said. As far as if there are any specific arrangements that are worked out with local governments, that would be something that the Pentagon might comment on, I'm sure without confirming or denying their presence. Q I mean, yesterday the Pentagon announced that they are not yet giving direction to pull out the nuclear weapons from the located country. However, what I wanted to ask is that the time -- are you going to have some consultation with the respective governments concerning the withdrawal, the time and -- MR. BOUCHER: I really just have to leave the arrangements for implementation of those steps to the Pentagon. You can ask them whatever they have in terms of joint committees, military contacts, or whatever they have. Q But diplomatic activity, I think. MR. BOUCHER: I'm sorry, but the implementation of the President's program, the handling of nuclear weapons and contacts with any government we might have on that, are primarily located in the Pentagon and you would have to ask there. Q Richard, do you have any comments on the report in the Washington Post today of Mexican protests over border incidents? MR. BOUCHER: I can give you the run-down on that, yes. We have received two diplomatic notes from the Mexican Government. One relates to an incident involving the arrest of an illegal alien near the U.S.-Mexican border on September l4th. The other is in regard to a September 28 incident where tear gas and shots were allegedly fired at the crowd that was throwing stones at border patrol agents, who in turn were making an arrest, drug arrest, near the border. Such incidents are truly unfortunate. However, there has been a decrease in their number, largely due to better communication and cooperation between U.S. and Mexican law enforcement agencies along our 2,000 mile long border. The Justice Department is conducting complete investigations of these two incidents, and we hope these investigations will reinforce the cooperation between the United States and Mexico on border issues. Q Would that constitute an apology? I missed -- "unfortunate" I guess. MR. BOUCHER: Truly, any incidents that occur like this are unfortunate, whatever their reason. The Justice Department is investigating that and we'll be discussing it further with the Mexicans when we have the results of that investigation. Q So, it wouldn't constitute an apology? MR. BOUCHER: I'll stick with the words I used, Steve. Q Thank you. (The briefing concluded at 1:14 p.m.)