US Department of State Daily Press Briefing #185, Wednesday, 12/11/91

Tutwiler Source: State Department Spokesman Margaret Tutwiler Description: 12:17 PM, Washington, DC Date: Dec 11, 199112/11/91 Category: Briefings Region: MidEast/North Africa, Eurasia, Caribbean Country: USSR (former), Haiti, Lebanon, North Korea, South Korea, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Russia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, Uzbekistan Subject: Mideast Peace Process, Democratization, POW/MIA Issues (ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED) MS. TUTWILER: One little housekeeping matter: We were able to arrange to pipe in Secretary Baker's speech tomorrow at l2 noon from Princeton, and that means that there will not be a State Department daily briefing. Q Does that say "noon," Margaret? MS. TUTWILER: His speech, as I announced it, is scheduled at Princeton to begin at noon; so they have worked it out technically for it to be piped in here. Q Will there be the availability of a text, at this point? MS. TUTWILER: No. As I said, we're working on that. He has not finished his work on the speech. I would not envision your having one today, and I will try to have one available tomorrow morning on an embargoed basis for use at l2 noon. But I can't guarantee that if he continues, obviously, to work on it. Q Will it also come in on the multi, do you have any idea, or just piped it? MS. TUTWILER: I don't even know how that works, Connie, so I don't know how to answer that. Q Thank you, anyway. Q Do you expect this to be the definitive U.S. response to the developments over the last few days? MS. TUTWILER: I'll just let you wait with anticipation [laughter] for the Secretary of State's speech. As we stated the other day, the subject matter will obviously address America and the transformations going on in the Soviet Union; but I'm really not going to, in advance of his giving this speech tomorrow, have anything to say about it. That's it for me. Q Why doesn't he throw his drafts away completely and restart over the last week? [Laughter] MS. TUTWILER: He's been very busy. Q Margaret, do you have anything on the talks going on between North and South Korea, which apparently hold the biggest hope of reconciliation? Is the State Department or the U.S. Government playing any role? MS. TUTWILER: We only have preliminary reports, Barry, on this fifth meeting of the Prime Ministers of North and South Korea, and I just don't have any other details as of this briefing. And concerning our own, as you know, we have in Beijing -- we have had l8, the last of which was November 20th; and, as you know, it's the policy: We never comment on what they discuss in those meetings at the Political Counselor's level in Beijing. Q Thank you MS. TUTWILER: Sure. Q Can I pick one? House of Representatives Mr. Solarz is visiting North Korea to discuss North Korean nuclear development on [inaudible] weekend. Do you have any cooperation or prior discussion with Mr. Solarz in dealing with that matter, please? MS. TUTWILER: I'm not aware of his visit that you've just mentioned. I don't know, since I don't know that he's there, if there were discussions between anyone in the East Asian Bureau here at the State Department and the Congressman or his staff. I just know nothing about that trip. Q Is the United States in its role as co-sponsor suggesting anything to break the impasse in the talks between Israel and the Palestinian-Jordanian delegation? MS. TUTWILER: My understanding is the joint Jordanian-Palestinian and Israeli members are meeting this morning. I believe those meetings, I was told, began on time. I believe those meetings are continuing. They themselves addressed this question yesterday publicly to any number of you all and I believe had their own press conferences. The United States will continue to do what we can, as we've said, to bridge any differences that are there -- their conversations that have gone on yesterday and last night at the experts' level -- but they're working it out. Q Do you consider the Palestinian approach that it is, indeed, a separate entity -- a separate delegation -- contrary to your understanding and a breach of promise? MS. TUTWILER: What I'm not going to do is be drawn into something that is currently and presently being discussed right now. I stated yesterday what the co-sponsors' view is, which is that this is part of the terms of reference -- it was agreed to by all parties -- and that we provided, as co-sponsors, three sites. Within those sites are the number of rooms at each site. And they're working on it, and they're trying to work it out. Q Margaret, will you have to wait for them to come to you to ask you to intercede -- MS. TUTWILER: No. Q -- or could you at any point step in -- you, the State Department? MS. TUTWILER: What do you mean by "step in"? Is this an example of where both parties have asked that the United States and the Soviet Union, in their ministerial level -- Secretary Baker and Shevardnadze -- step in? We have no such request. We have no such request at an experts' level for the United States and the Soviet Union to come into the room or to meet with the parties to try to talk -- work this out. We have had, however, as I just stated, conversations at expert-staff levels concerning this problem. Q Margaret, has the United States put forward any suggestions so far at this expert level? MS. TUTWILER: The United States -- just as both parties, to be honest with you, Jim, have a number of suggestions -- the United States has had suggestions. But that is, again, something that they're engaged in right now -- the parties -- discussing this subject. Q Margaret -- MS. TUTWILER: Yes, John. Q -- Mrs. Ashrawi made it clear this morning that the Palestinian side wants the State Department to step in and impose a solution so that they can get on to substance in this. She made it clear that they have communicated this to the State Department. MS. TUTWILER: I didn't get it. Q Is the State Department prepared to do this, to step in -- or the U.S. Government to step in -- and suggest a way to bridge this gap? MS. TUTWILER: As my good friend Hanan is well aware, the rules were -- that everybody agreed to, and I've not heard that anyone wants to change them -- wait a second -- is that when both parties ask for the United States and the Soviet Union, co-sponsors, to step in, then we are there and we will be there and we will step in. I am unaware of any such joint request and I'm unaware if Hanan, if she on behalf of her delegation or Dr. Shafi, has a formal, official request to us. If you will recall, about l0 days ago various people were saying, "Solve the date problem, solve the site problem," but we were never officially asked to do this. Q She seems to be under the impression -- MS. TUTWILER: Yes. Q -- that the parties would have to invite the co-sponsors to step in -- jointly, as you say -- MS. TUTWILER: Right. Q -- in order to have the United States come in and sit in -- MS. TUTWILER: Oh, yes. Q -- and be present at the meetings. MS. TUTWILER: That's right. Q That's not what she's talking about. She's talking about the United States imposing, as co-sponsor, a solution to this problem. MS. TUTWILER: Well, now -- Q You could do that under the terms of reference, could you not? MS. TUTWILER: No, sir. That would be changing the terms of reference. All of the parties agreed, over 8 or 9 long months of negotiations that they were involved in -- heavily involved in -- to begin this process based on these terms of agreement. It would be the same exact situation, to be honest with you, as when we were asked all the numerous questions of why we did not change our December 4 proposal. We cannot start down that road. We have refrained from doing so. And I'm unaware that anyone is suggesting in our government or the other parties that we start down that road because, as we've said many times, you have no idea where that's going to end; and in our opinion it will never end. Q Margaret, can I ask you a question? Q But you did -- Margaret, I'm sorry. If I could just follow up. MS. TUTWILER: O.K. No problem. Q But you did, in effect, impose a solution for a date and time -- MS. TUTWILER: No, sir. Q -- for these meetings. MS. TUTWILER: No, we did not, John. Q The co-sponsors by themselves, without agreement from Israel, said the talks would begin on December 4th in Washington. MS. TUTWILER: Correct. After -- which is part of the original letter of invitation, which was also negotiated -- I would refer you to it; it's a public document -- that after the conference -- wherever the conference is; it happened to have been in Madrid -- 2 weeks after that, this will begin to launch direct bilateral negotiations. That was the letter of invitation that they also all accepted, came to, and agreed upon. You know we had the little delay. We certainly don't need to rehash that. So I'm sorry. That is in a document and this document happens to be a public document. Q Can I just clear up -- Q When did it become a public document? When was the last time? MS. TUTWILER: It was delivered to the Hill and made available to you all. If you ask, it's in the Press Office -- I believe 2 or 3 weeks ago. It's there. Q Wait a second. Q Sure. Q Just to clear up a couple of the technicalities here, if someone were reading the transcript of this briefing, they would -- MS. TUTWILER: Yes. Q -- you said earlier that the talks -- the Israelis, the Palestinians, and the Jordanians had begun their talks. the meetings began this morning. And then a moment or two later you talked about that there had not been any request for the U.S. to come into the room. MS. TUTWILER: Right. Q I just want to make sure my understanding is correct. I don't think we've observed or are aware of the two delegations meeting. What we're aware of the three-delegation chairpersons' meeting -- MS. TUTWILER: That's correct. Q -- and there would be no request for anybody to come into a room because they're not meeting in a room, is that correct? MS. TUTWILER: I honestly haven't asked this morning where they're physically situated. I'll be happy to ask the people who are with them. It's just something that I haven't, to be honest, concerned myself with. I was concerned about whether they showed up. My understanding is, yes, they did. We have never had -- under any document, any terms of reference have we ever defined it has to be a delegation, it has to be seven people, it has to be a head plus the delegates. So I'm well aware that there are -- in my terminology, how we're viewing this is: there are Israelis, Palestinians, and Jordanians, who are, it's my understanding, engaged somewhere in their site. I don't know if it's a room, if it's a hall, an anteroom. I just don't know. But they, it's my understanding, all agreed yesterday to be here at l0 a.m. It is my understanding they're all here -- and still here and engaged in those conversations. Q But the importance -- the significance of that question is that there are also U.S. officials who are present in the physical space -- whatever you call it -- MS. TUTWILER: It's part of the rules. They will be. Q -- who are present in the physical space where that meeting is taking place. MS. TUTWILER: Absolutely. They've been there every day. They were in Madrid. Q Right. So the question of whether the U.S. has to be asked to come in or not appears to -- MS. TUTWILER: That's quite different, Ralph. Q That's why I'm asking the question. What's different about it? And are the U.S. officials, who are present in that space, discussing with the delegation chairpersons who are meeting these issues? MS. TUTWILER: Ralph, the terms of reference that everybody agreed to -- and it is quite different; it's obvious to anyone -- that when both parties request -- request -- we're dealing here in set -- Q Set technicalities of one sort or another. MS. TUTWILER: You better believe -- technicalities. Q Right. That's why I'm asking whether the U.S. officials were there. Regardless of whether they were requested or not, are they discussing -- MS. TUTWILER: Here's how it works, since we probably -- I couldn't even count the times we've done this. Here's the deal: We have a site under the rules. Within that site -- and I cannot answer for you if every site here in this complex -- if three sites are identical. I don't know the measurements of the rooms. I don't know if one has an adjoining bathroom, if one has two staff offices. Q None of us asked any of those questions. MS. TUTWILER: I want to get through this, though, so we all know what we're talking about. Just as in Madrid -- which I believe everybody is aware of -- at each of those sites, which we had -- remember, we had offices for each delegation -- we had in that very same vicinity -- the United States, the Soviet co-sponsor office: our staff would like to have a phone, like to have a place to sit. That is quite different than an official request that comes -- a decision is made at the Secretary of State level to, yes, the United States is now officially enjoining in the negotiations. Everybody knows that in order to make that mechanism kick in, both parties have to request that. As I said earlier, I am unaware of any (1) official request from any party and (2) any joint official request from anyone. So is the United States staff helping get delegates in and out of this building? You bet. Are we facilitating if they need to go use the phone somewhere else? You bet we are. That's quite different than a substantive meeting/conversation where a decision has to be made to bring them into it. That's not what's going on. Q Margaret, does your writ extend to -- MS. TUTWILER: Does my what? Q Does your writ, or your authority, standing there as a spokesperson -- MS. TUTWILER: I have no authority. Q -- extend to clarifying or explaining different parts of the letter of invitation, which is a public document? MS. TUTWILER: No. Q [Inaudible] MS. TUTWILER: No, we won't do that. It's out there. You can do your own interpretations of it. Q Margaret, is this a two-track peace process? MS. TUTWILER: It always has been. Q And do the terms of reference suggest that if there are two tracks, there might be two rooms? MS. TUTWILER: I will refer you to the terms of reference, to the letter of invitation. I've tried to explain this again today a number of times. I have said that we have supplied three sites. Within each of those sites, there are any number of rooms. For instance, get off of this one. Pretend we're talking about the Israeli-Syrian. If they decide to break into 16 individual rooms and come to us and say, we would like to have 16 meeting rooms, there's nothing to prevent that. But going in, we did not, nor did they, say there will be 16 separate rooms for you to meet in. Do you see what I'm saying? Q The other thing Hanan said this morning was that the Palestinian understanding before Madrid was two separate rooms; that, in fact, the United States set aside two separate rooms in Madrid, and the Israelis refused to comply with that. So they, in an effort not to torpedo the talks, went ahead and met in a single room. Is that your understanding of the terms of reference? MS. TUTWILER: What I'm not going to do is do anything from this podium other than -- there's enough of it going on in this town -- restate for you, as a co-sponsor of this process, exactly what is in the letter of invitation, what is in the letter of references. It is in the press office. You can read it yourself. I am not going to be drawn into a "Hanan said this this morning, X said this this afternoon." We're just not going to do it. As you know, we've refrained -- we've tried to be extremely disciplined about this. This podium, in our opinion, should not be turned into, and will not be turned into, the official podium for these talks. There are other things that are going on in the world, as we're all aware, and this is not what this room is going to turn into. Q Margaret, can the Syrians join the Lebanese delegation if the Lebanese and Syrians want such a union? MS. TUTWILER: That's something, Barry, that I've never heard raised. It's something I'd rather take. I've just never heard that suggestion or heard it -- Q I'm trying to figure out if there is a joint Palestinian delegation or not -- if the State Department's view is that it's divisible? MS. TUTWILER: I answered this yesterday. I said there is a -- Q There's a lot of back-and-forth today: It's up to the parties; there are a lot of rooms. The question is, can the Jordanians peel off the Palestinian-Jordanian delegation, or unhitch, and the Palestinians deal directly with Israel on a specific issue? Is that in conformity with the rules? MS. TUTWILER: I believe that you were the gentleman that asked me this very question yesterday, and I said the terms of reference are a joint Jordanian-Palestinian delegation. That has not changed today. Q Okay. Trying to follow up what Ralph was asking, is the U.S. participating in the corridor discussions between the Israelis, the Palestinians, and the Jordanians -- participating? MS. TUTWILER: I understand. I have no idea who is in the corridor right now or if it's in a room or if it's in a hall. I have answered honestly that the United States, at an expert-staff level, yesterday and last night, I personally am aware of conversations between various parties on this particular negotiation that is going on and on others. I just don't know who is out in the hall or the room, and if they're talking or not. But officially the United States is not part of the conversations that the Israeli-Jordanian-Palestinian representatives are having today. We have not been asked to be. Q Ralph tried to exclude your reference to the room because, after all, nobody is in the room. So, it's immaterial your discussing -- MS. TUTWILER: I said I don't know where they are today. Q Well, they're in the corridor. MS. TUTWILER: They're at their site, aren't they? Q We can all walk down there. They were just there, and they were there all day yesterday for maybe 6 hours. You said the U.S. is making suggestions. You told us about the rules so far as going into the room, which don't happen to be material to the questions we're asking. We're asking if the Americans are making these suggestions not only, let's say, on the telephone or separately, but is the United States mixing in -- are American officials mixing in -- in these corridor discussions? Have they physically been present? If you don't know if they're there now, were they there yesterday? MS. TUTWILER: I'm going to answer this one more time. The United States as a gracious host and as a co-sponsor, has United States-paid Department employees that are meeting these people on the sidewalk, that are escorting them to their sites, that are helping facilitate them. If someone has to leave the building, they escort them back out. They are there, under the terms of reference, at the sites. That is very, very different than a decision being made -- requested, formally -- by both parties for us to enjoin in their negotiations. I have said, I hope, as clearly as I humanly can, that doesn't exist. But are there employees hanging around helping at these sites? Yes. Q I think you're saying, if they need to know where the water fountain is, the U.S. will point them -- MS. TUTWILER: We're there to facilitate and help them. Q In fact, you're providing security to make sure they reach here safely -- MS. TUTWILER: Yes, that's another factor. Q -- and get back to where they were going safely. MS. TUTWILER: We're providing parking spaces out on the sidewalk. Q There's something -- we're trying -- we're driving at something between helping someone find the water fountain -- MS. TUTWILER: You're asking me a question, and I'm answering it honestly. Q -- and officially entering negotiations. Frankly, I take your answer to mean the U.S. isn't participating in the corridor talks. MS. TUTWILER: I don't know how clearly -- more clearly -- I can answer a question. I have said, Barry, no. I have said no. You know what has to kick in in order to trigger this. I've stated it, basically, on a first-grade level. It is -- Q All the useful negotiations the -- MS. TUTWILER: We have no such request. Q It doesn't take place in the chamber. Bearing that in mind, that the U.S. might be trying to fix what's broken here -- a procedural problem -- we're wondering if the U.S. is actively engaged. You said they're making suggestions but they're solving it. MS. TUTWILER: Jim asked me that not more than 20 minutes ago. I said -- maybe this is the fourth or fifth time -- I have acknowledged, there are Americans who are on their phones not only to the Israeli-Jordanian-Palestinian group, but to the Lebanese group, to the Syrian group. I have not tried to deny that. I have said that is going on. But that is not in the corridor -- you want to call it -- the hall, the room, that there's any kind of official request. Q But are they on portable phones in the corridors? That's the question. MS. TUTWILER: I have no earthly idea. Q New topic. New topic. Q There seems to be another communication that no one is speaking about. Because the letter of invitation to Madrid stands on its own. At least, one party to these -- one delegation receives something in some form telling them that December 4, in Washington, was the place to convene. Whatever that communication is is classified. I'd like to know, how did the people know -- how did the delegations know to show up on December 4? Was it classified? Who classified it? Were there any side assurances? And, also, your letter of invitation remained classified until Lee Hamilton asked a State Department official if it could be declassified. Somebody from State left the room, came back within a half hour, and said the Secretary said it is now declassified. If Lee Hamilton requested this other communication be declassified, would you respond to it? MS. TUTWILER: The vast majority of everything you've just asked me is all part of the public record. I refer you to the record -- and the press office has it -- and I did not grasp anything in there that was a new question for me. So I will refer you to the record. It has all been answered many times here. Q It's a question that's set forth after -- MS. TUTWILER: Connie. Q Do you know today yet whether any matters of substance have been discussed, particularly in the Syrian talks? And also yesterday Mr. Netanyahu said that the parties would like to go back to Israel when they get into substance. Do you have any comment on that statement? MS. TUTWILER: No. I have no comment on that statement, and, when I came here to the briefing room, I'm not aware of anyone that had broken. There were two that were meeting here, you know, this morning that began at 10:00 -- the Israeli-Jordanian-Palestinian. My understanding, the Israeli-Syrians began at 10:00 this morning. It is my understanding that the Israeli-Lebanese negotiations are to begin again at 3:00 p.m. Furthermore, maybe it would be helpful, if you haven't already seen it - it's on the wires -- the Palestinians are holding a press conference at 2:30 this afternoon at the Grand Hotel. The Israelis are conducting a press conference at 3:00 this afternoon at the Madison Hotel -- not the Willard. The Jordanians will hold a press conference at 3:15 today at the Grand Hotel. Q And the U.S.? MS. TUTWILER: The United States is trying desperately not to hold a press conference here at 12:35 at the State Department. [Laughter] Q New subject? MS. TUTWILER: That would be great! Margaret [Warner] has a new subject. Q New subject: The Soviet Union. MS. TUTWILER: Yes, great! Q Great! Is the State Department in agreement with CIA Director Gates' assessment of the seriousness of the situation and the prediction that there will be, indeed, the most civil and social unrest since 1917 -- this next few months? MS. TUTWILER: We have no difference with Director Gates' testimony yesterday, and I would refer you to the most recent comments that the Secretary of State made here on Sunday where he said: "While there's opportunity, there's also great danger associated with these transformations. We really do run the risk, in my view at least, of seeing a situation created there not unlike what we have seen in Yugoslavia, but with nuclear weapons thrown in. And that could be an extraordinarily dangerous situation for Europe and for the rest of the world." Q Margaret, back on the Netanyahu question -- MS. TUTWILER: No. Margaret's really on this subject right this second. Q Can I just clarify this? It just seemed to me that Gates was actually making a prediction that this will happen. Baker was talking in the conditional that it clearly could happen. I mean, maybe it's not significant, but it just seemed Gates was way out there, saying it would happen. MS. TUTWILER: I have not had an opportunity -- because I've been so immersed in this Middle East negotiations that are going here -- to read Director Gates' full testimony. But, Margaret, the overall -- what I have seen and had an opportunity to read, the gist of it -- there is no difference. This is something that we have said is going under an extraordinary transformation. The President addressed himself to this this morning. It is something that we have said every day from any number of fora in our government of how concerned we are about this. You know the Secretary's leaving this Saturday to go there himself at the request of the President to get an assessment of the humanitarian needs of -- as you know, we've expressed any number of times our concern over the safety of these nuclear weapons. So I can't address myself specifically to your characterization of Director Gates' testimony as a prediction. I'm aware of his general overall characterization, which we have no difference with at all here, of the situation there in the former Soviet Union. Q Margaret, were you aware yesterday about -- Q [Multiple questions] MS. TUTWILER: Yes, Ralph. Q What, if anything, can you tell us today about contacts between the U.S. and the Soviet Union, officials in the Soviet Union, to discuss this matter? And what, if anything, can you tell us about Baker's trip? MS. TUTWILER: Baker's trip? Q Yes. Beyond what's already been publicly announced. MS. TUTWILER: Oh, additional stops. Unfortunately, I am not in a position to confirm any additional stops that the Secretary will be making. The only reason is our Embassy is working this out with the places we would like to visit. I've acknowledged that he is looking at additional stops -- he is. But I just cannot announce this prior to confirmation from those places. Q What about contacts? MS. TUTWILER: Additional contacts, I can't speak, Ralph, for our entire Embassy operation there in Moscow or the bureau here. If you're asking me has the Secretary of State had any conversations since yesterday, as of this briefing, he has not. Q Margaret, along those lines, why hasn't he, in recent days, given the uncertainty and the confusion about what's going on, why hasn't he used his very good contacts with Mr. Shevardnadze or with the Russian Foreign Minister to in fact try to assess this on a day-by-day basis, which is merely a confusing situation? MS. TUTWILER: We have been assessing this, not only on a day-by-day basis, but we get hourly updates from our Embassy. We believe that we have a very efficient and competent Embassy staff who are giving us the assessments that we need. And this is something that I answered yesterday and the day before is our policy -- and I would be happy to restate it for you -- was laid out on September 4. There has not been to date a substantive change in our policy and our view of this of where we have a role. And, as the President pointed out again this morning, our role here -- our interest -- I shouldn't say "role" -- our interest is, first and foremost, as we stated after the coup, to do what we can to see these reformers, wherever they are, and democracy succeed -- free markets. The President restated that just this morning in the Oval Office. We have, obviously, a humanitarian concern. We want -- and the Secretary will get -- a firsthand assessment there on the ground of additional humanitarian needs; and, thirdly, obviously, the security and safety of these nuclear weapons. But, when people keep asking me this, I understand your need. There is no issue here -- there honestly is not -- and it is not saying -- I'm not saying here today that the Secretary of State -- he could be receiving a phone call right now from the Foreign Minister of the Russian Republic, Foreign Minister Shevardnadze -- any of these foreign ministries -- or he could determine this afternoon that he determines to call one of them. Q But doesn't it seem to be sending a signal or indicating an American wariness of seeming to perhaps take sides or play favorites or get directly engaged while elements of the former Soviet Union are sorting out their own affairs? MS. TUTWILER: The United States, whether it is the Soviet Union, as we used to know it, or any other places around the world, does not get engaged in something -- when you use the phrase, "taking sides," that is not appropriate. That is not what we are doing. It is not what we're going to do. That is totally inappropriate. And I would just like for the record to one more time -- just the first principle of September 4 that the Secretary stated here in this very room: "The future of the Soviet Union is for the Soviet peoples to determine themselves, peacefully and consistent with democratic values and practices and the principles of the Helsinki Final Act. "We call upon all Soviet leaders at all levels of government, including those of the republics, to show their support for these internationally accepted principles. In this process, there can be no legitimate place for threats, intimidation, coercion, or violence." As you know, our second principle addresses borders, our third the rule of law. Fourth, again minority rights, protecting human rights; and, five, the respect for international law and obligations. Q Margaret, when Ambassador Strauss -- well, go ahead. No, you've been trying. Q I wonder if you're aware -- thank you, Barry -- I wonder if you're aware of a special Syrian envoy sent by President Assad here to Washington? He's supposed to be here -- Q On Saturday. Q -- this weekend. MS. TUTWILER: I haven't heard a thing about it. Maybe the Syrian delegation, which is here in town, maybe they could answer that question for you. Q Is there a request from the Administration to see this envoy? MS. TUTWILER: Excuse me? Q Any request to -- MS. TUTWILER: Since I know nothing of a special envoy, I couldn't very well know about a request. I know absolutely nothing, have never heard of that until you just stated it. But the Syrians are here in town, and maybe their delegation could help you. Q Ambassador Strauss, is he staying here until -- what? -- returning home -- back to Moscow with the Secretary? MS. TUTWILER: The Ambassador, I spoke to a number of times last night. He is undecided at this moment, to be honest with you. He had a number of prearranged business meetings, a number of speeches, and a number of things that he was doing back here in his role as Ambassador to the Soviet Union with Americans, and it is a decision that is my understanding he has not finally made. He is looking at if he can cancel a number of things that he had already accepted. Q Do you mean he may go back before Saturday night, or you mean Saturday night or later? MS. TUTWILER: There's any number of options, to be honest with you. He goes back before the Secretary of State, he goes back with the Secretary of State, he doesn't go back, he comes after the Secretary gets there. Ambassador Strauss, as I said, had an unbelievably full schedule, is my understanding, of a number of things here with people. For instance, a number of -- it's my understanding, several different groups of American businessmen, etc., to explore with them their interest in helping on a humanitarian side in the Soviet Union. He is personally right now seeing what alterations he can make in his schedule. Q Margaret, speaking of the Ambassador -- MS. TUTWILER: Excuse me. I just don't know of any final decision he's made. I haven't talked to him this morning. Q Speaking of the Ambassador and his remarks, have you -- just for the record, has the State Department seen his set of remarks where he said he would disagree with your description of the Embassy as an efficient, effective place; that he says it's strong on Cold War responses and very strong on security, but weak on the new necessities of economics and political analysis? MS. TUTWILER: He is in a better position to judge that than I am. He is the Ambassador of that post. And one of the things that you know Ambassadors do is make assessments and make changes where needed. Q And on the basis of those assessments, is the State Department planning any major changes in the makeup of the Soviet Embassy? MS. TUTWILER: I think Ambassador Strauss is looking at any number of things. I've read a number of reporting cables that he has sent in to, in some instances, make the life there of these hard working diplomats who are working there in this Embassy better. You all have been there. You've seen the conditions. We have, as one news organization correctly reported yesterday, we had a phone problem, calling in the middle of this situation, where the phone system was not adequately working. There are a number of things that he is on top of, pointing out back here to the building, and I'm sure that those changes are going to be seriously looked at and taken under serious consideration. So we appreciate his bringing it to the building's attention. Q Margaret, did you know that this was coming -- this development over the weekend -- did you have intelligence that led you to believe that this new commonwealth would be, in fact, announced over the weekend? MS. TUTWILER: I believe the people who were involved in this themselves have said that this evolved there in Minsk, and these decisions were made there -- what was it? -- Saturday night. So I would refer you to their on-the-record comments, and, no, we did not know. Q Thank you. MS. TUTWILER: Thank you all. (The briefing concluded at 12:50 p.m.)