US Department of State Daily Press Briefing #161, Wednesday, 10/23/91

Boucher Source: State Department Deputy Spokesman Richard Boucher Description: 12:54 PM, Washington, DC Date: Oct 23, 199110/23/91 Category: Briefings Region: MidEast/North Africa, E/C Europe, Eurasia, Caribbean, South America, East Asia, Subsaharan Africa Country: Iraq, Yugoslavia (former), Israel, USSR (former), Haiti, Zaire, Lebanon, Vietnam, North Korea, South Korea, Mexico, Cuba, Colombia, Venezuela, Ukraine Subject: Mideast Peace Process, Regional/Civil Unrest, Arms Control, Travel, Development/Relief Aid, Nuclear Nonproliferation, Terrorism, POW/MIA Issues, EC, United Nations (ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED) MR. BOUCHER: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. If I can, let me start off with a message for U.S. citizens in Zaire, some information for you about medical supplies going to the Ukraine, and then I'll take your questions. Q Is this yesterday's message on the -- that was distributed? MR. BOUCHER: There's a new one today. O.K. This is a message from the U.S. State Department for U.S. citizens in Zaire that we expect will be broadcast today on the VOA and the BBC. The situation in Lubumbashi continues to be extremely unstable with reports of widespread looting and destruction. Due to this civil disorder, the U.S. Consulate in Lubumbashi is strongly repeating its recommendation that U.S. citizens in Shaba depart as soon as possible. The Belgian and American authorities are organizing an overland convoy set to depart Lubumbashi at 8:00 a.m. local time on October 24, 1991. No further convoys are planned at this time. Americans who wish to join this convoy are urged to do so and should contact the U.S. Consulate General in Lubumbashi at telephone number 222324 as soon as possible for further details. Q What about the last sentence that was in the one last night -- does that still hold?-- that to the country at large you still recommend against travel? MR. BOUCHER: That's right. The overall travel advisory remains in place. I don't have a copy with me, but I think we've advised people to defer all travel and -- Q Throughout the country. MR. BOUCHER: Yes. All Americans have been advised through travel advisories in these broadcasts to leave as soon as possible. Q Where is this convoy? MR. BOUCHER: I think it's going overland to Zambia. Q How big? MR. BOUCHER: We'll see tomorrow. We hope that everybody joins it. Q How many Americans are there? MR. BOUCHER: How many Americans there. I'm not sure I have that number. Here's what I know. One American was evacuated by the Belgians yesterday. Four more will leave by Belgian airlift today. The convoy goes to Zambia. The U.S. Consulate is being reduced from a staff of 11 to a staff of five. Overall in the country there are 50 official and 125 non-official Americans in Kinshasha. There are 360 Americans elsewhere in the country. Q I'm sorry. Say your Kinshasha number. MR. BOUCHER: 50 officials and 125 non-official Americans in Kinshasha. They remain unharmed. About 360 Americans remain elsewhere in the country. All have been advised, as I said, to leave as soon as possible. We're keeping in touch with French and Belgian allies in the event that violence requires further evacuation of expatriates from Zaire. Q Richard, it's a general violent situation. It's not anything directed specifically to Americans, is it? MR. BOUCHER: That's right. There's been rioting in Lubumbashi. There was more rioting that occurred late last night. Yesterday the Belgian air force evacuated about 400 foreigners as a result of the rioting. O.K. Ukraine medical supplies. Why don't I give you the shorter version of this -- hit the highlights -- and we will post some of the details on where it's going and some of the amounts. Badly needed medical supplies and pharmaceuticals will be flown today from the United States to Ukraine. This shipment is part of the humanitarian medical initiative announced by the President on December 12, 1990. The retail value of the shipment is $5.4 million, to be divided among nine medical institutions in six different cities. The region was chosen in response to the illnesses caused by the Chernobyl nuclear disaster. To date, under the Presidential initiative we shipped $18.53 million -- that's the retail value -- of donated medicines and related supplies to several republics and localities in the USSR and the Baltics. Subsequent shipments are planned and, as the President announced in August, a separate program is now being set up for the Baltics. Q Is this the Project Hope operation? MR. BOUCHER: Yes. Project Hope is coordinating this shipment with U.S. Government support and with the assistance of Representative Les Aspin and the Brother's Brother Foundation. It's got two U.S. Air Force C-5 aircraft that are leaving Dover Air Force Base today. Q While we're on the subject of the Ukraine, Barry was about to ask you if you have a reaction to the decision by the Ukrainian Parliament to set up their own army. MR. BOUCHER: We applaud Ukraine's Parliament for renouncing nuclear weapons and resolving to make Ukraine nuclear free by 1995. The plans to create a large Ukrainian army, however, appear to run counter to the efforts of all the nations of Europe and North America to reduce military forces and enhance stability. We do not believe any useful purpose would be served by the creation of large independent armies, and we are concerned about the economic impact of supporting an army of such size. Q What about the principle? What if it were small in size? MR. BOUCHER: I think, Barry, here we deal with several aspects of it. The first is the principle of what's going on with all the nations of Europe and North America to reduce military forces. The second is that we don't see any useful purpose for such a large army, and the third is we'd be concerned about an economic impact of supporting an army. Q Well, Richard, that's an answer, but I'm trying to push you a little further. MR. BOUCHER: I don't think I can go further in specifying what size of an army or militia or what form of military forces they should have. This is our reaction to the announcements that they've made. Q Well, as I understand U.S. policy on the Soviet Union: peaceful change. Even if the Soviet Union breaks up into 15 parts, as long as it's done peacefully, the U.S. doesn't seem to object. I wondered if the U.S. objected in the course of this evolution, each has its own army. Would that cause a problem for the United States, like 15 armies in what used to be the Soviet Union? MR. BOUCHER: Barry, at this point I'd have to say that's hypothetical. You're familiar, I think, with the Secretary's five principles about how we think that things should be worked out. At this point we're reacting to a specific announcement that we've seen. Q Did you say you thought that this would be destabilizing, or would you say that? MR. BOUCHER: I would say exactly what I did say. Q Then you wouldn't say it's destabilizing. MR. BOUCHER: It seems to run counter to the efforts of all the nations of Europe and North American to reduce military forces and enhance stability. Q Well, if I could add one more thing to that: Is that really true, since the Europeans have made known their intentions to form or expand a European army separate from NATO, and can you say that -- MR. BOUCHER: Steve, that is a question, I think, that we've dealt with in terms of what it means for NATO and what our views are of that specific army. But I think if you look overall at whether it's U.S. defense expenditures or the expenditures by other countries, the changes that NATO has been making in its forces, you see a lot of reductions taking place. Q Are there any implications in the creation of this new force for the CFE Agreement? MR. BOUCHER: We expect all the republics to uphold the international obligations as they have told us they will. Q (Inaudible) -- Vietnam. Q One more additional follow-up on the CFE stuff. The Ukraine is not a signatory of CFE Agreement, but the Soviet Union is. But, as you said, if Ukraine has a large army, how does the United States Government envisage the possibility of containing that Ukrainian armed forces by conferences and negotiations? MR. BOUCHER: I don't think I can answer that question for you at this point. I've given you a reaction to the announcement, and I've said that we do expect all the republics to uphold the international obligations. That would include the CFE Agreement, as they have said that they will. Q While we're on the subject of CFE, do you know if anyone's actually ratified it? As far as I'm aware -- and you can correct me if I'm wrong -- the United States has not ratified it. Do you know which, if any, of the other 22 signatories have ratified that agreement and what its legal status is at the moment? MR. BOUCHER: No, Alan, I don't have a list of all the countries at this moment. I know that we have sent the agreement to the Congress, and that we're looking forward to ratification. Q What's holding it up? It was sent to the Senate, I think, last June, or something like -- early summer, I believe. A long time ago. What's holding things up? MR. BOUCHER: I don't know exactly, but I think I can restate our interest in seeing it ratified. Q Could you take my earlier question on which countries have ratified it? MR. BOUCHER: I'm not sure I'm in a position to do that sort of research for you, frankly, Alan. Q Richard, could you give us an evaluation in light of what the Secretary said in Paris today of Vietnamese cooperation on the MIA issue? MR. BOUCHER: George, I don't think I'm in a position to do that today. I think on the question of Vietnam, the Secretary has made some statements after his meeting with the Vietnamese Foreign Minister, I think it was. He's addressing the issue further in his intervention, which has just been delivered or is being delivered. As far as cooperation on POWs and MIAs, I think we've reported on the various meetings and trips and delegations that we have sent out there. We've had, I think, substantial progress in those areas, and we're always hoping to get the full accounting and the full cooperation that we need. The last thing that I remember, I think, was a statement issued by the White House not more than a week ago after the President reviewed the situation with General Vessey. Q Richard, could you clear something up? Does the "road map" in fact require the Administration to begin talks toward normalization once Vietnam agrees to the Cambodian settlements? MR. BOUCHER: Steve, I don't know if I can really answer that question for you. I know I can't do it off the top of my head, because I'm not familiar enough with that. But I think the Secretary has already addressed the discussions that we expect to have on the issues and modalities of the normalization process. Q Right. MR. BOUCHER: And may further address those. Q I'm just trying to get a sense of whether in fact this process that you -- that the United States has adopted itself requires it to go forward in this fashion. I mean, could you take that, or is that a -- MR. BOUCHER: I'll try to get you copies of where we've explained the "road map" before. I think it's been explained in considerable detail. I think the point today is what the Secretary is saying we intend to do and we hope to do, and the proposals that he's making. Q Can you provide any new details on Mr. Turner's condition, whether you've been able to determine what kind of treatment he got? Also, whether there are any further indications of additional hostage releases in the near future? And I have another question. MR. BOUCHER: I don't have any information that would indicate additional releases in the near future. Of course, there is the process underway by the U.N. Secretary General and his representatives to hopefully achieve the release of all those that are held outside the judicial process in the region, and particularly our hostages. As far as Mr. Turner's condition, I understand that the Commander of the hospital in Wiesbaden is giving a press briefing at 1:00 p.m. our time. So there would be information coming out of that. I'm told at this point no plans have been made for his onward travel from Wiesbaden, but a decision is likely in the next day or two. Q Another question: Some details on -- what are the provisions in the Hostage Release Act for his -- any financial assistance to himself or his family and logistically his transportation to Wiesbaden and from Wiesbaden back to the States? That kind of thing. MR. BOUCHER: We pay -- the U.S. Government has paid the transportation of his family to Wiesbaden. We will pay for Mr. Turner and his family to return home to the United States, as we have in the case of all Lebanese hostages. Mr. Turner and all of the Lebanese hostages are eligible for benefits under the Hostage Relief Act. The Act, passed last year, provided for health insurance coverage for 12 months after release from captivity, and for the payments of funds at a level of approximately $24,000 a year during the time that the hostages were held until released, retroactive to January 1, 1990. Because of the Privacy Act, I can't say whether or not the Turner family has applied or received benefits under the Act. Q On the Middle East again: Maybe you have told us Richard, but I would appreciate it if you could tell us again today -- how are we going to know the invitees replied -- how many invitees reply by 6:00 o'clock tonight -- today? Is there going to be an announcement by the American Government, or who is going to announce, because once the deadline is over, everything should be on the record and become formal instead of under the surface. MR. BOUCHER: At this point, I haven't answered the question, because I don't have an answer for you. I'll be trying to get one and try to make that -- tell you whether or not we'll have something to say later today. Q Well, do you have that (inaudible) figure? MR. BOUCHER: I don't think we're in a position right now to try to give you any accounting. Q Do you have any information on any aspects of the Madrid Conference other than the fact that it is in Madrid and what the date is? Q If it is. MR. BOUCHER: John, I talked to Madrid this morning and, no, we don't have any new logistical information or information on arrangements for you. I was asked a couple questions yesterday that I think I can try to give you some answers to. I was asked how we delivered the invitation, and I can tell you that the U.S. and the Soviet co-sponsors delivered the invitation -- this is for the members of the Palestinian delegation -- through Faisal al-Husseini to the 14 members of the Palestinian side of the joint Jordanian-Palestinian delegation. I think I was asked yesterday about providing a list. I think I answered that. But what I said yesterday was, we did not provide the list of the Palestinian delegation to the Israeli Government nor did we seek their approval. We did, however, make clear that those on the list met the parameters of the process we've been developing over the past several months. Q That was when you delivered the invitations? MR. BOUCHER: That's right. Q But there have been names added since which is what all the hubbub is about. MR. BOUCHER: In our view, the 14 names on the Palestinian side of the joint Jordanian-Palestinian delegation to the peace conference meet the parameters of the process that we've been developing over the past several months. Q How about the six or seven names on the Advisory Council? MR. BOUCHER: As you know, the Advisory Council is not part of the delegation to the conference. The members of the Advisory Council will not be credentialed as delegates and will not attend the conference. Q There were various reports that perhaps Mr. Shamir, perhaps Mr. Mubarak, would represent the government at the ceremonial opening. Apparently, people haven't made up their minds yet. Is Yasser Arafat eligible to represent the Palestinians at the ceremonial opening? He doesn't have to meet the parameters; he's not a member of the delegation. Can he speak? MR. BOUCHER: Barry, I don't really understand what you're saying. The delegation has been named. I told you, in our view, the delegation meets the parameters of the process, and that's the point. Q I do get your point. As I understand it, the standards, the parameters apply strictly and only to the negotiators themselves. It doesn't apply to the Advisory Committee. So, by extension, I'm wondering if there are any standards for who makes that opening speech? If, indeed, the PLO Chairman decides he would like to make the speech, what would prevent that, if the parameters don't apply to speakers -- MR. BOUCHER: Without trying to speak to Yasser Arafat, I did just tell you that members of the Advisory Council will not attend the conference. The delegates will be credentialed as delegates. People who aren't delegates will not attend the conference. Q What kind of invitations, if any, did the Advisory Council get? MR. BOUCHER: I don't know. The invitation was delivered to the 14 members of the Palestinian side of the joint Palestinian delegation -- joint Jordanian-Palestinian delegation. Those are the people who are invited, who are being credentialed, and who will attend. That's what we're dealing with. Q I understand. But the Advisory Council was, in some way, asked to come. Were they not invited? Is that what you're saying? MR. BOUCHER: I'm only aware that we delivered invitations through Faisal al-Husseini to 14 members of the Palestinian delegation. Those are the only invitations there that we dealt with -- to the Palestinian side of the Jordanian-Palestinian delegation. Q This gets very legalistic. So just to be clear, you folks use the word "conference" some times, referring to the first phase -- the ceremonial part. And then you call the second and third phase bilaterals, or something. So let me see if I can specifically nail it down. So far as Palestinians are concerned, other than the 14, or whoever, names that are on the list, other Palestinians cannot be at the conference and also cannot be present when the bilateral negotiations take part and also when phase three kicks in, should it ever. Is that what you're saying? Or are you just talking about the ceremonial phase when you talk about the conference? MR. BOUCHER: Barry, I don't think I'm prepared to address each phase as it's going to develop. But my understanding is that we're using the word "conference" in the general sense of the whole process that was developed. Q Not just four days in Madrid? MR. BOUCHER: This is the delegation to the peace conference, and I take that to be the general sense of the whole conference. Q Do you know where the bilateral part of this is going to take place? MR. BOUCHER: No. Q Is it decided, or do you know? You don't know? MR. BOUCHER: I don't know. Q According to reliable sources, the State Department started recently training American diplomats with the so-called non-existent Macedonian language of the republic of Skopje, the territory of Yugoslavia. Question: That means that the U.S. Government accepts the existence of the so-called Macedonian language -- actually Greek with Slavic elements -- only? MR. BOUCHER: I have no idea what our training programs in Macedonia involve nor what is our view of the Macedonian language. I think the training courses that we offer to our diplomats are many and varied. And whether we teach Macedonian or not is something that's publicly available information. Q It's not public? MR. BOUCHER: I think it already is. I think we list our courses in the State Department magazine every month. Q On the same subject. According to the same sources, the State Department, in cooperation with the USIA, opened a cultural center in Skopje, the capital of the so-called Macedonia republic of Yugoslavia. What prompted your government to have such a cultural center there? MR. BOUCHER: We have cultural centers all over the world and all kinds of places. The purpose is to keep in touch with people who live there and help them learn about America. Q Do you confirm this information that there's such a cultural -- MR. BOUCHER: I have no idea if there's one in Skopje or not. Q Can you check if the State Department has such a cultural center again? MR. BOUCHER: Again, I think you might as well check with USIA or elsewhere where that information -- Q But the director of the center is from the Foreign Service Office. MR. BOUCHER: I don't know if there is one or if it's USIA or who else. But, again, there's plenty of materials, I think, available that list our Foreign Service posts. I'm sure USIA has listings of their cultural centers. Q On the same subject. It was reported also that the State Department instructed Ambassador Sotirhos in Athens to obtain a kind of permission from the Greek Government to open a similar center in the town of Florina in the geographic area of Macedonia of Greece. If it's true, may we know the reasons? MR. BOUCHER: I'm not going to get into instructions to our Ambassadors. This is a post that we're supposed to be opening? Is that what you're saying? Q Somehow he's trying to obtain a kind of permission to open -- MR. BOUCHER: If we open new posts, we'll find a way of announcing it to you. I just don't have the answer to that. Q Can you confirm the information that something is in process? MR. BOUCHER: No, I'm not about to do that. Jim. Q What is the State Department telling American citizens in Haiti? MR. BOUCHER: We're continuing to tell them what we've said before. I have our last travel advisory. This one was dated October 10. It advises American citizens to defer all travel. It talks about a situation of great instability. It mentions our voluntary departure of dependents and non-essential personnel and advises American residents in Haiti to consider leaving until the present crisis has been resolved. That's American residents who don't have essential business there. Our Ambassador, as you probably know from various reports, repeated that advice in a message to Americans again. He said he once again advises all Americans to consider departing from Haiti in light of the unsettled conditions. Q And you're not planning any evacuation flights? MR. BOUCHER: At this point, people are leaving on the commercial flights that exist. Obviously, we're keeping the situation under review and following it closely. Q Do you know roughly how many have left? MR. BOUCHER: We think that approximately 3,000 Americans have left Haiti. The statistics we have on the totals before that were -- an estimate of a total Americans, anywhere from 12,000 to 15,000. We had 8,300 people registered. So we think about 3,000 have left. I think the Ambassador yesterday mentioned the numbers of official personnel who have left. Some three-quarters of the Embassy's dependents and a number of Embassy staff have also departed. Q Richard, do you have any comment on the Korean talks in Pyongyang? Anything to say about it? MR. BOUCHER: We welcome the fourth meeting of the Prime Ministers of North and South Korea. We hope that these discussions will lead to a productive dialogue. As we've said before, the two Koreas must be the principal actors in any dialogue leading to the peaceful unification of North and South Korea. Q Any comment on the North Korea refusal to allow the inspections? MR. BOUCHER: Again, as we've said often in the past, when North Korea acceded to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty in 1985, it accepted an unconditional obligation to foreswear development of nuclear explosives and to accept IAEA safeguards on all its peaceful nuclear activities. North Korea has already negotiated a draft agreement with the IAEA, and you're aware that the international community has consistently urged North Korea to sign and implement that agreement as soon as possible. Q One more thing on the Middle East, if you don't mind. I understand the United States and the Soviet Union are co-chairmen of the peace conference. MR. BOUCHER: Co-sponsors. Yes. Q That will continue to be the case. I understand this also applies to the third phrase which are multilateral discussions; right? MR. BOUCHER: I'm not in a position to answer some of these. I know where you're headed, and I'm not in a position to answer some of the details as to how the arrangements will work. Q But, Richard, no one said the second phrase and third phase are not the peace conference. It's supposed to be part there; it's supposed to be part of the peace conference that kicks off on the 30th. MR. BOUCHER: Again, look back at our statements. I think the U.S. and the Soviet Union have consistently expressed their intention to remain involved in the process and help it along. Q If that is the -- MR. BOUCHER: Exactly how we do that, what arrangements will be done for that, I don't have an announcement for you today. Q But can we assume that the United States and the Soviet Union have some sort of a general idea in mind as to where the multilateral track discussions will take place two weeks from now -- after the 30th? MR. BOUCHER: We may have something general in our minds, but I'm afraid I don't have anything to say to you on it today. Q Richard, do you have anything on the meeting in Mexico involving President Castro of Cuba? MR. BOUCHER: This is a summit between Colombia, Mexico, and Venezuela, with Fidel Castro in Cozumel. With Colombia, Mexico, and Venezuela, we share the goal of a peaceful transition to democracy in Cuba. Democratic reforms can give the Cuban people the political and economic freedoms they want. We hope that these three countries will urge President Castro to hold truly free elections. As President Bush said last May, "If Cuba held free elections, respected human rights, and ended its support for subversive groups, our relations with Cuba could improve." Q Do you have any advice for these three Presidents with respect to the question of whether they should supply Cuba with oil? MR. BOUCHER: I don't have any particular advice for that, George. I think our particular advice here is, we hope that they would urge him to hold free elections. Q According to reliable resources, one of your great allies in northern Europe suggested recently to your government the idea of a formation of a "green line" between Serbia and Croatia as a political solution to the problem despite the fact that such a suggestion promotes actually the partition of Yugoslavia. Can you comment on that? MR. BOUCHER: I have no idea what you're talking about -- "reliable sources and good ally," I just don't know what you're talking about. Q But to the subject. I'm saying as far as the formulation of a "green line" between the two? MR. BOUCHER: I'm sorry, I hadn't heard that ever proposed. I think there are proposals that the EC has made in the context of their discussions. There are working groups that were to be held today to prepare for another plenary session on Friday. We've expressed our consistent support for that process. We've urged the parties to come to agreement with the EC, and we support the useful and helpful efforts that the EC has been making. Q Thank you. (Press briefing concluded at 1:31 p.m.)