US Department of State Daily Press Briefing #156, Wednesday, 10/16/91

Boucher Source: State Department Deputy Spokesman Richard Boucher Description: 12:41 PM, Washington, DC Date: Oct 16, 199110/16/91 Category: Briefings Region: MidEast/North Africa, E/C Europe, Europe, East Asia, Caribbean Country: South Korea, China, Cuba, Germany, France, Iraq, Israel, USSR (former), Haiti Subject: Mideast Peace Process, Regional/Civil Unrest, Democratization, Arms Control, NATO, Human Rights, Security Assistance and Sales (ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED) MR. BOUCHER: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. I don't have any statements or announcements, so I'd be glad to take your questions. Q Do you have anything on the announcement in Paris today about the beginnings of what could lead to be the formation of a European army? MR. BOUCHER: George, my understanding is that the proposals that the French and Germans have put forward grow out of their existing cooperation that goes back for quite a long time. As you know, we have long supported the idea of a "European security identity." We've consulted frequently with our allies in NATO, and we've consulted with our allies directly. Secretary Baker has addressed himself to the issue in his speeches, his statements at NATO, and in his consultations with European leaders, for example, in the joint statements that he's issued on the occasion of Minister Gencher's visits here. We have an interest in seeing that as the European security identity is developed that it be complimentary to NATO and not detract from NATO'S missions. At the Copenhagen ministerial in June of this year, the NATO allies agreed that "the alliance is the essential forum for consultation and the venue for agreement on policies bearing on the security and defense commitments of the allies under the Washington Treaty." In that context, they further welcome the "progress being made toward the goal of political union, including the development of a common foreign and security policy." And, finally, they reaffirm that these two positive processes are mutually re-enforcing. Since that ministerial, many ideas have been put forward by our allies. We have just received the French and German proposals. Last week, there was an Anglo-Italian declaration on the same subject, and we expect to continue our consultations with our allies on these ideas. Q Richard, even though the United States has supported the idea of a European security identity, it has never really spelled out exactly what it means. Can you -- can the United States support this idea of a European army? MR. BOUCHER: Carol, at this point, we're looking at this particular idea. It's one of a number of ideas and proposals put forth; and that, in itself, is part of a process that we've been discussing with our allies in NATO, that we've been discussing with other countries directly in Europe. I think what I'm trying to do here is to put it in a context without saying that I can take a definitive view at this point on one or the other idea. Q Without taking a definitive view, though, is it something that the United States is more inclined to consider seriously than to find problems with? MR. BOUCHER: I can't do that kind of comparison for you. This particular idea, as I said, is something that's come to us and that we're looking at. We, as I said, have always supported the European security identity. We've always welcomed the progress being made, including -- you can see the statement at Copenhagen that said that progress along those lines was part of two positive processes that we found were mutually re-enforcing and that's the adaptation of NATO and the changes in NATO as well as the progress that they make toward the European security identity. So these are things that we have consulted and expect to keep consulting with our allies about. Q Do you find it at all inconsistent that the Foreign Minister of Germany 2 weeks ago would endorse with Secretary Baker the idea of NATO expanding its ties with the East through some sort of coordinating council -- cooperation council -- and then, on the other hand, go along with an idea that would, in some minds, be competitive with NATO? MR. BOUCHER: I'm not sure the Germans themselves have expressed it that way, Carol. I don't know whose minds you're referring to. Our agreement with our allies at the Copenhagen ministerial was something that was important. It's, as I said, part of a process of further expanding our views in the part of this process of consultations that's going on. There are a number of ideas out there, and we'll be discussing them all with our allies. Q And when did the United States find out about this? MR. BOUCHER: I'm not sure exactly; it was recently. Q But it came as no surprise when this letter was released? MR. BOUCHER: I think we were informed before it was released, if that's what you're asking. Q While we're on the subject of announcements in Paris, there was one yesterday you may have seen in which the French Government suggested it's time for the United States to stop boycotting UNESCO. Have you seen that? MR. BOUCHER: I didn't see that, Jim. I know that our policy on UNESCO hasn't changed. I can get you something more elaborate, but basically there's been no change in our position and what we would like to see happen in the organization. Q Yeah, could you get it? MR. BOUCHER: Yes. Q On the same subject. Can you elaborate more on the German proposals you mentioned before? MR. BOUCHER: I'm sorry. On what proposals? Q You mentioned in your statement that somehow you discussed with the Germans some proposals, as far as for European security; and I'm asking, if you can elaborate more, what did they tell you exactly? MR. BOUCHER: No, I don't think I can. It's up to them to do that. I think they've released a letter or a statement on their own. Q Richard, there have been some reports that there's going to be a summit between President Bush and President Gorbachev on October 27-29? MR. BOUCHER: Marlin [Fitzwater] addressed that question this morning in his briefing, and I have nothing more to say on that. Q He also said Lausanne was inaccurate. What is accurate? Lausanne is inaccurate. MR. BOUCHER: That's a good question that you can ask the Secretary's party. I have absolutely nothing to say on that subject. Q Can you confirm or deny the reports that you have notified the South Korean Government that aircraft that deliver nuclear weapons could not be pulled out from the peninsula? MR. BOUCHER: You're referring to a report over the weekend? Q Yes. MR. BOUCHER: I, obviously, can't confirm or deny the presence of nuclear -- presence or absence of nuclear weapons anywhere in the world. I think there were some things reported that said that we hadn't been talking to our Korean allies. Obviously, we talk to our Korean allies all the time. President Bush has had several meetings with President Roh, and we've discussed security issues. Obviously, as we go forward in the security area, that's something that we consult closely with our allies about. Q You have some plan to suggest any policy concerning nuclear weapons, presumably located in the Korean Peninsula, in the coming summit meeting between President Bush and Roh Tae Woo? MR. BOUCHER: I think I'll have to leave any further elaboration on that to them, if they meet again -- when they meet again. Q Do you have any response at all to Iraq's threats now about U.N. helicopters' safety because of Israeli flights that coincided with the Iraqi -- or the helicopter flights? MR. BOUCHER: Iraq has the obligation to allow the United Nations to carry out the provisions of U.N. Security Council Resolutions 687 and 707, including the use of helicopters to carry out mandated inspections. Iraqi threats against U.N. helicopters are another example of Iraq's evasion and obstruction of U.N. efforts to carry out its obligations under these resolutions. The international community will hold Iraq entirely responsible for ensuring the safety of U.N. operations in Iraq. We fully support continued U.N. and IAEA inspections and the destruction of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction. Q Richard, are the military contingency plans still on the books regarding Iraq? MR. BOUCHER: You would have to ask the Pentagon that question. Q Also on Iraq: Does the State Department now have any clearer idea of what went on in regard to Turkish incursions into Kurdish areas in Iraq? MR. BOUCHER: I think that's something where you have to get most of your information from the Turkish Government. I can tell you what we've seen them say. The Turkish Government announced October 15th that its troops had withdrawn from northern Iraq. They said the operation was in response to an October 6 PKK attack on a Turkish military post in which 11 Turkish soldiers were killed. The Turks announced that the operation was intended to purge the border area of PKK -- that's Kurdish Workers Party -- guerrillas who had engaged in terrorist attacks in southeastern Turkey. Any more details on that, you would have to ask the Turks. I think I mentioned yesterday that we've expressed to the Turks our hope that their forces would swiftly conclude their operation against terrorists and avoid the death or injury of innocent civilians. And, of course, we have consistently expressed our condemnation of terrorist groups like the PKK. Q On approximately the same subject, do you have any further information on the massacre of the Iraqi soldiers, apparently, by the Kurdish Workers Party people -- the faction in Iraq? MR. BOUCHER: I hadn't seen anything new on that. I think the Kurds had said that they were going to investigate. I'll see if we have anymore information, but I haven't seen anything new. Q For those of us who haven't seen it, has Secretary Baker had his news conference? And can you update us at all on the peace process? I haven't seen it. I've been looking for it. MR. BOUCHER: My understanding -- because I've seen wire service reports -- is that he has had his news conference. And, no, I can't update you on the peace process -- what he does in his news conferences. Q Was any agreement reached with the Syrians? Is there anything you can tell us? MR. BOUCHER: No. That's a question for Mr. Baker to answer. Q Can we get -- how long will it take to get some sort of transcript? MR. BOUCHER: I don't know. Q Today's New York Times has a story about a Chinese warning on Taiwan's independence movement. How do you see this kind of [inaudible]? MR. BOUCHER: I don't have anything for you on that. I'll just leave it at that. Q Anything on Latin American -- Cuba, El Salvador? MR. BOUCHER: Do you have any questions about Latin America? Q The Communist Congress in Cuba? MR. BOUCHER: I think we said something about the Communist Congress as it started. I think we would say seeing its conclusion -- I would just say that it was a missed opportunity. They didn't debate serious issues like economic reform and democracy. Q Thank you. (Press briefing concluded at 12:52 p.m.)