US Department of State Daily Press Briefing #180, Wednesday, 12/4/91

Tutwiler Source: State Department Spokesman Margaret Tutwiler Description: 12:05 PM, Washington, DC Date: Dec 4, 199112/4/91 Category: Briefings Region: MidEast/North Africa, Eurasia, Caribbean Country: USSR (former), Haiti, Lebanon, Israel Subject: Mideast Peace Process, Terrorism, Democratization, Immigration, Refugees, NATO, EC (ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED) MS. TUTWILER: I'd like to start by giving you the gist on a general outline of the Secretary's trip for your own planning purposes, since many of you have asked. We are adding one substantive stop. The Secretary will be going to the republic of Byelorussia. The schedule will be that we depart Washington, D.C., late on the evening of December l4th. That puts us, as you know, into Moscow on Sunday, the l5th. We will have meetings in Moscow, on Monday, December l6th. On the l7th, we will hold our meetings in Kiev, Ukraine -- which had previously been announced. We will overnight there -- that's the current thinking. On Wednesday, we will go to Byelorussia and on into Brussels for the EC meeting that has been previously announced. That's the U.S.-EC meeting. Thursday, as you know, is the previously announced NATO meeting, which continues on to Friday. That is December 20th. And we will return to D.C. I don't have any statements. I'll be happy to take your questions. Q Margaret, you were open for business today. Was there any business conducted here, and will you be open for business again before Monday? MS. TUTWILER: Yes. As I said yesterday, we will be open for business every day. When the co-sponsors put this proposal forward, Barry, we did not think it would be appropriate for us to determine when the parties should stop. So, we have never had, as I believe I answered yesterday -- it was Johanna's question -- an end to the proposal of December 4. Concerning what business was done here, I think that is fairly self-evident; and I would only say that the Jordanian-Palestinian, Lebanese and Syrian delegations arrived at the three designated sites within the Main State Department complex at l0 a.m. today ready to resume bilateral negotiations with Israel. It is disappointing that the Israeli delegations were not present, and in the absence of Israeli negotiating teams, the Arab teams departed those sites shortly thereafter. The Israeli Government has officially notified us this morning that they will be sending all three of their negotiating teams to Washington shortly. We continue to urge the parties to begin this round of negotiations at the earliest possible opportunity. The facilities that we have provided for the negotiations will remain open and available to the parties. And, as we have said every day over the last two weeks, what is most important now is that the parties move beyond procedural differences and wrangling and engage directly with one another in direct bilateral negotiations, continuing the process that was launched in Madrid. Q When you say they say they will send them there shortly, did they tell you, in any way that they haven't said otherwise, that they've changed their mind about waiting until Monday? MS. TUTWILER: No, I do not have -- one, I'm not going to, as we said, speak for all the various parties here. That is the message that Ambassador Shoval delivered to Ambassador Dennis Ross this morning. And for further amplification on that message, I refer you to the Israeli Embassy. Q Well, the U.S. is not exactly mute on this subject. Did you ask -- did the U.S. ask if it's still Israel's intention to resume on Monday or did you get some notion that maybe they'll be ready for some preliminary discussions, at least, with the Arabs before Monday, as Mr. Netanyahu indicated yesterday? MS. TUTWILER: Mr. Netanyahu at ll a.m., I believe, today held a public press conference for all of you. I have not had an opportunity to either see it or read a transcript of it. But I'm going to refer you to the Israeli Embassy. I have told you -- you've asked me every day what is the latest we have from the Israeli Government. This morning we were officially notified that the Israeli Government is planning on sending all three of its negotiating teams to Washington shortly. You'll have to ask them what the "shortly" means. Q A very quick then -- because I've asked you three questions already. MS. TUTWILER: It's O.K. Q What is the point, as a co-sponsor, as a co-host, for the United States to keep opening its doors -- or three of its doors -- every day if there are no negotiations? Are you trying somehow to make some points, some political point? MS. TUTWILER: No. Q What is the point? If you know they're not going to be there, why go through this exercise? What are you trying to accomplish? MS. TUTWILER: We are accomplishing and are going to maintain the integrity of our good faith proposal, as we have said every day to you we were going to do. I answered when asked: "Margaret, do you know if all the Arab delegations are showing up?" I said, "Ask them." I don't know, Barry, nor am I seeking to find out, what each party is or is not going to do. We said that we were going to not make unilateral decisions. As you know, when we put this good faith proposal out because the parties themselves could not agree on a venue and time, then two parties -- if you remember -- very quickly accepted that proposal unconditionally, we felt we couldn't pull it off the table. Q Have you been notified officially by the Palestinians that they will not be able to attend negotiations on Monday because it is the third or the fourth anniversary of the intifada? MS. TUTWILER: I've seen press reports that Hanan Ashrawi has been giving, I understand, a number of press statements while in town. I refer you to them to answer those types of questions. I am not going to do a daily or hourly or every other day briefing on these talks. This is for the parties themselves to state what their positions are and policies are. Q My question is if you have been notified about this or not? MS. TUTWILER: An official notification? Q Yes. MS. TUTWILER: No. Q Margaret, Netanyahu and Shoval said this morning that one of the points they were trying to make in not being here is that they did not want the United States to be making decisions and being the intermediary and carrying messages between Arabs and Israelis. They wanted direct talk. They said that in discussions -- Netanyahu and Shoval said that in discussions here at the State Department they got assurances from the United States that the United States would, as somebody put it, no longer be the mailman -- the intermediary -- carrying messages from one to the other, but that the United States had given them assurances that it wants to sort of encourage direct contact between Arabs and Israelis. Is that the gist of what they were told? MS. TUTWILER: One, as I just said, I was unable to see Mr. Netanyahu's press conference and I have not read a transcript of what he said. So, I'm not going to comment on someone else's statements that I have not seen or had an opportunity to look at. As far as the United States' position, it is a well-known position throughout. The United States and the Soviet Union took on this responsibility to work with all the parties. All of us -- everyone has said what this is about, what Madrid was about, was to launch direct bilateral negotiations. We have said that as long as the parties wish us to, as long as the parties want us to stay engaged, that we will stay engaged, and that we are willing to help get the parties -- facilitate -- get the parties together to the table. Q What they seem to be saying, though, today is -- MS. TUTWILER: I understand your question. Q What they seem to be saying, though, today, and even though you didn't read it, is that rather than try to come up with decisions on venue, for example, they tried to contact the Arabs; the Arabs would not return their calls, partly because the United States -- and I'm reading something into what they said -- but because the United States was there as an intermediary. If the United States would, as one of them said, get out of the way, Netanyahu said, "What do we need the United States for?" That's I think is almost an exact quote. That if the United States would get out of the way, the Arabs would respond to Israeli attempts to contact them on such things as venue. Is the United States intending to get out of the way on such things? MS. TUTWILER: This is, again, asking me to basically comment on something I haven't seen. And we said last week, and there was a reason we said it, we are not going to turn this State Department podium into a daily debrief on reactions, United States reactions or otherwise, to what various individuals representing various parties in town are saying. We are simply not going to do it. This is not what this room is for. This is not what this room is going to be turned into, and I am not going to be turned into the official spokesman for the talks that are going on. So I am going to refrain from answering so-and-so said today and so-and-so responded this way -- we are simply not going to do it. You all have total access to all of these individuals that are in town. They are all talking to you, from my observations, and I would just refer you to them. Our policies -- to answer part of your question -- have not changed. It is our view that the co-sponsors and many others have played a constructive role here. And it is our view, which we have stated any number of times, had the parties been able to agree among themselves to a time and venue, we said we would embrace that, we would be delighted. We even said as recently as yesterday -- I said that if the parties all came up with an agreeable time and place, great, we would be delighted. But that isn't the case. The facts do not back that up. Q Margaret, did the U.S. give assurances to the Israelis that it would no longer act as messenger? That was Saul's original question. MS. TUTWILER: That was his original question, and I said that I was going to refrain from responding to something that I haven't seen. Q But Margaret, it isn't a question of what they said, it's what did the U.S. do? MS. TUTWILER: The United States -- it's my understanding, Bill -- in any meetings, conversations, cables back and forth, I am totally unaware that there is a change in the United States position in its role as a co-sponsor. Q Margaret, when are the talks going to resume? Q Has the United States asked the Arab delegations to stay at least through Monday? MS. TUTWILER: I answered this yesterday, and that's why I said I didn't really want to go through this for another hour plus today. I answered yesterday that the United States' view, if you recall, we believe that these are important talks. We cannot make parties attend talks if parties do not want to attend them. It is quite obvious that the United States, the Soviet Union, and any other number of people, including these parties, say that they have very important things to talk about. And so, obviously, we think that the parties should get together and talk. It's up to them. Q Margaret, is that a yes? MS. TUTWILER: It's up to them. Q I mean -- MS. TUTWILER: I've answered it, Alan. Q Could I ask a technical question? MS. TUTWILER: Yes. Q Why is it necessary for the delegates to these meetings, or whatever you are going to call them today, to go through magnetometers? MS. TUTWILER: Because everyone who comes in this building has to go through magnetometers. If you will recall, in Madrid not only did we have, I believe, over 25 magnetometers, we had X-ray machines at every single, solitary site in that Palace to protect you, the press. At every site you were "magged" -- as I recall, two times -- and all delegates, including myself, every delegate -- head of delegations were the only exceptions -- were "magged" every time they came in or out of the Palace for obvious reasons, people in security. Q Did you ask the delegates not to bring any cameras? MS. TUTWILER: No. Q Margaret, do you have a reaction to the foundation of a new Israeli military settlement in the occupied West Bank? MS. TUTWILER: Yes, I do. Our policy regarding settlements is well-known. It has not changed. We regard settlements as an obstacle to peace. For that reason, because settlements are an obstacle to peace, we are particularly disturbed at this development on the eve of the resumption of bilateral talks. As President Bush said in Madrid, "I call on all parties to avoid unilateral acts, be they words or deeds that would invite retaliation or worse yet, prejudice or even threaten this process itself." Q Have you conveyed that view to the Israeli Government before actually standing up on this podium and making that public statement? MS. TUTWILER: I don't know. I didn't ask. And it would, as you know, come as no surprise to the Israeli Government our view on settlements. Q Margaret, you spoke about a settlement on the eve of talks. In the end, it wasn't the eve of talks. The talks did not take place. The parties have not been in contact in terms of setting up an agreed upon time. What is the U.S. doing to actually get them together in this building at a time? MS. TUTWILER: The United States cannot want these talks more than the parties. The parties themselves are addressing that question today. Mr. Netanyahu has just spoken today as to their answer. I just answered for you, that this morning the Israeli Government has officially notified us that they are sending all three of their negotiating teams. So when you say, "what is the United States doing," I have just told you we have been in constant contact with all of the parties throughout this process, and we still are today. Q If I can go back, the Israelis say they're prepared to begin talking on Monday; if the Arabs don't like Monday, for their own reasons, and the Israelis say we're here in town, let them contact us directly, we'll work out a date. The Arabs say they're coming tomorrow. The Israelis obviously will not be here tomorrow. So far they have not been in contact to work out a date. So far there is no agreement. Is the U.S. doing anything to find a date which is acceptable to both sides? MS. TUTWILER: The United States is, as it has been, doing everything it can to continue a process than began in Madrid. Q Margaret, the U.S. said earlier -- last week, I guess -- that you couldn't go back on the invitation, or you didn't want to turn back the invitation for December 4 because two parties at that time -- at the time you said that -- had accepted it. MS. TUTWILER: Right. Q Now that that invitation has -- sort of the time has passed of that invitation; December 4 has come and gone -- is there a kind of a clean slate at this point? Are you able to perhaps issue a new invitation, or something of that sort, that would overcome what seems to be a procedural difficulty? MS. TUTWILER: I haven't heard anyone suggest to us, and I know of no one who has internally suggested, that we issue a new proposal. That is just -- Q The Arabs did not suggest that the United States attempt to reconvene the talks at any particular time and place? MS. TUTWILER: Not that I have any knowledge of, no. Q If they suggested that publicly on their way out, I just wonder whether you -- MS. TUTWILER: Well, I'm not as up to speed on it, sorry, as the latest statement they've made on the sidewalk. I'm sorry. Q Margaret, beyond being disappointing, Israel's failure to attend today, does that put the entire peace process at risk -- a peace process that Secretary Baker, several times, described as a unique opportunity? MS. TUTWILER: I've just stated this morning that the Israeli Government has officially notified us that all three of their negotiation teams will be arriving in Washington, D.C. shortly. So I wouldn't say that -- having told and notified the United States Government of that information, which we did not, as you remember, have yesterday -- that I could characterize or link to, what you are suggesting, that somehow this is in jeopardy. Q How shortly? Did they say? MS. TUTWILER: They didn't. I answered that a little earlier. Call the Israeli Embassy. Q Do you have to relay their official word to the Arab delegations or did they notify the Arab delegations? MS. TUTWILER: I have no idea. Ask them. Q Did you notify the Arab delegation about that? MS. TUTWILER: Not to my knowledge. MS. TUTWILER: We have just learned this this morning, Owen. I can't speak for what everyone in the Bureau has done this morning with this information. So I don't know. Q This, again, raises the question if you're continuing to be the intermediary rather than encouraging the parties to talk directly. Q Can you say when you received the information? Would it have been some time -- MS. TUTWILER: Sometime this morning, as I stated earlier, Ambassador Shoval called Ambassador Ross. Q Would it have been in time for the United States to make that information known to the Arab delegations when the U.S. spoke to them at each session of the talks today? MS. TUTWILER: The United States did not speak to them at each session of the talks. The United States was not in the room at any of these sites. The United States has had various meetings today and yesterday with Israeli officials and with Arab representatives that are here in the city. But they were not in the room, Ralph. Q I didn't say anything about being in the room, so don't -- that wasn't my question. MS. TUTWILER: But you said at the talks. They weren't. Q Right. Okay. We're hearing things from various people. We try to put the pieces together. The Jordanian delegation chief told us that the United States, today, asked the Jordanians and Palestinians if they would be returning to talk tomorrow. I don't know in what context that alleged asking occurred? MS. TUTWILER: I believe that is at an administrative staff level. It is a perfectly legitimate question for us to ask. After all, we are supplying escorts and security, etc., for these people. Q There's no suggestion there was anything illegitimate. My question is, in the course of that conversation -- at whatever level it occurred -- did the United States make known to the Arab delegation the information? MS. TUTWILER: I don't know. I don't know if the individuals standing in the hall at an administrative level had the information that Ambassador Ross had. Q Margaret, can you run through the meetings -- what level they've been held with these various delegations? There are only three delegations. It's not a long list. MS. TUTWILER: To be honest with you, no, because I'm not going to do a daily brief on this. I would refer you to those delegations. Yesterday, I was asked -- Q I'm talking about U.S. contacts with these delegations? MS. TUTWILER: Yesterday, we said that Ambassador Ross was meeting with Minister Netanyahu. That meeting took place. We said yesterday that Ambassador Djerejian would be meeting with Hanan Ashrawi. That meeting took place. My understanding -- and I don't have the names of the delegates -- is that various delegates met today with various NEA staff members, and I do not have a breakout for you or each staff member. Q That level -- it wasn't at the level of Dennis or Ed Djerejian? MS. TUTWILER: Correct. Q You don't have any idea, though, how formally the Arab delegations will be notified of the Israeli intentions to be here on Monday? MS. TUTWILER: No. Q You're not -- MS. TUTWILER: You're saying Monday. I'm saying what the Israeli Ambassador Shoval told Ambassador Ross was in Washington shortly. I said, ask the Israeli Embassy. "Is it tomorrow; is it Monday; is it Friday?" I don't know. Q Well, whatever information the United States now has officially, you have no idea how that information is going to get to the Arabs? MS. TUTWILER: No, because I haven't asked. Q Margaret, you've got about seven minutes before you want to get out of here. MS. TUTWILER: Thanks, George. Q Could we devote two minutes to other issues? MS. TUTWILER: I'd like to. Q Do you have anything on Terry Anderson? MS. TUTWILER: We do not. We are not in a position at this briefing, nor was Marlin (Fitzwater) at his earlier briefing this morning, to confirm for you that Terry Anderson is, indeed, free. We obviously, certainly, hope to see Terry in Damascus as soon as possible. We cannot predict the timing of his arrival nor confirm ourselves that he has been freed. We know that there is an ice and snow storm in the mountains on the way to Damascus, and that he may just be delayed by that storm. As I stated yesterday, we take these things one step at a time, and I am not going to draw conclusions about his release until we know that Terry Anderson is, indeed, safe and released. Q Margaret, there was a medical briefing in Wiesbaden today at which it was announced that both Alann Steen and Joseph Cicippio had suffered permanent damage from the beatings that they received while they were in captivity. Do you have any comment? MS. TUTWILER: I would refer you to the medical briefings. But as far as a comment, we have been saying -- for how many months and years? -- that these people should be unconditionally, safely, released. So, obviously, our view, if someone is -- and I am not, Bill -- Q About their treatment, though? MS. TUTWILER: I understand that. But I have not -- in doing all of my Middle East work this morning for you all, I have not heard the medical briefing. I heard something briefly last night on the news. I believe that has been thoroughly done for you all there in Wiesbaden. Obviously, it saddens us. It is something that is -- we have condemned the hostage-taking. We have condemned it any thousands of times, as has every civilized nation in the world, and it is something that would obviously grieve us, sadden us, and is something that is wrong. Q Would the United States issue indictments against the people who mistreated these American citizens; ask for the extradition of these people, have them stand trial for their misdeeds? MS. TUTWILER: I don't know, Alan. I haven't heard that discussed. Q But you've made no deals about not taking such legal steps against these people? MS. TUTWILER: There have been absolutely no deals made. Q So there's no reason -- there's no legal reason, if you were able to substantiate the case against these individuals, not to ask for their extradition? MS. TUTWILER: It's something, Alan, that I have not been privy to hearing anyone discuss. What we have all been, as you have, following so closely has been this release that is now, hopefully, today going to end this chapter. I am not in a position to say that it indeed is. I have said and I will say again today, this Administration has been very, very clear concerning its policy of promises, deals, negotiations, and there has been none of that. Q Will you take the question about whether the United States -- MS. TUTWILER: About the futuristics question? Q -- whether the United States is interested in bringing these people to trial? MS. TUTWILER: Sure. Q Margaret, a question again about the talks. I'm under the impression that there is kind of a division of labor in this Department with regard to contacts with the Israelis and the Arabs. Is there -- MS. TUTWILER: That's the wrong impression. Q I am under the impression that maybe Mr. Ross -- Ambassador Ross is assigned to contacts with Israelis and maybe Assistant Secretary Djerejian is assigned to contacts with the Arabs. Is there any kind of division like that? MS. TUTWILER: I don't want to speak for my colleagues, but I bet they would love to take you up on your idea of a division of labor. There is no division of labor. These gentlemen and their top assistants are working around the clock, have been for many, many months, and it is a complete false assumption that somehow they are divided. They'd probably like to pick up on your offer, or your suggestion, but that's not how it works. They are all intimately involved in every facet and part of this. Q Margaret, we have about two minutes left. I just wanted to ask you, the U.N. apparently has confirmed about an hour and a half ago that Terry Anderson has indeed been freed. Do you have anything on that? MS. TUTWILER: No. I would refer you back up to the United Nations. Q If Terry Anderson is freed, that would make him the last American hostage to be freed. What would that mean in terms of U.S. policy towards Iran, towards the region? MS. TUTWILER: I understand your question, and, if we were in a position today, we would answer it. We think it is in appropriate to answer that question for you at this briefing. Marlin did not answer it at his, and we're not going to here. Until Terry Anderson is released and is in American hands, we are not making those types of statements, and I hope that you understand why. Q Can you give us a reason why the Secretary is going to Byelorussia, and particularly is it to discuss nuclear weapons? Is that one of the -- MS. TUTWILER: This is a republic that months ago wrote to the Secretary, asking him to visit. It is a republic that he has had an interest in seeing, and, yes, it has, obviously, nuclear weapons, and it would be -- should he not go to it -- the one republic that has nuclear weapons that he would not have visited. Q Well, let me try one more quickly on the U.S. role -- the catalytic role. MS. TUTWILER: O.K. Q Does the U.S. need the consent of both parties to sit -- to step in and try to resolve a problem, such as a problem over venue? Or does it reserve the right to step in if one party requests the U.S., or if no parties request? MS. TUTWILER: I'm not sure I understand that. Q O.K. Well, the Israeli -- without going over it all over again, the Israeli position is -- and I'm asking the U.S. role; I'm not asking to react to the Israelis, but to try to give you the background of the question -- the Israeli position is that the Arabs hold back -- they did on venue, they will on even more important substantive issues -- because they are confident that if there is -- that the United States will move in and suggest a solution, if there is none -- MS. TUTWILER: That's correct. We did. Q By standing silent, the U.S. will come in and proffer a proposal, a solution. Is that the U.S. role to come in if one side won't talk to the other? MS. TUTWILER: Well, the United States, with the assistance of others, worked mighty hard over eight long months to get to a Madrid conference, and that is something that, as you recall, every party after very, very difficult conversations, very difficult decisions, all said that the big picture was what was important. This was something they had wanted. Many said this is something they had wanted for 43 years. Many said this is what they wanted to do, but they all agreed they needed help to get there. The United States was willing to help. We can't want this more than they do -- and we also acceded to the parties' wishes -- several of the parties -- "Let us try to work it out to continue our bilateral talks, and let us see over the next two weeks, sir, if we can figure out among ourselves a venue and a time." They could not. If you think it's important to continue these talks, the co-sponsors put out a proposal. Q And that role has not changed? MS. TUTWILER: Has not changed. Q You said it's not changed. MS. TUTWILER: And no one's asked us to change it. Q In the remaining five seconds, could you do Haiti? MS. TUTWILER: I'm not wedded to 12:30. Could we do what? Q Could you do Haiti? MS. TUTWILER: Haiti? There's really nothing new there. There were no pick-ups yesterday. The numbers have not changed. Q A reaction to the judge's decision? MS. TUTWILER: The judge's decision, as you know, last night -- I can't remember exactly how to express what he did -- but the Justice Department is appealing yesterday's ruling. Q Can you explain why the United States is appealing that ruling, what the purpose of the appeal is? MS. TUTWILER: For the same reasons that we have throughout this entire legal process, because we have a difference, as you know, Ralph, which is being expressed in the courts, and I'll let the Justice Department express it in their legal fashion for us on behalf of our Government. We are making our views known through the court system. We are abiding by the law, but we are making our views known. Q Thank you very much. MS. TUTWILER: Thank you all. (The briefing concluded at 12:32 p.m.)