US Department of State Daily Briefing #5: Thursday, 1/9/92

Tutwiler Source: State Department Spokesman Margaret Tutwiler Description: Washington, DC Date: Jan, 9 19921/9/92 Category: Briefings Region: Eurasia, MidEast/North Africa, Caribbean, East Asia, E/C Europe Country: Russia, USSR (former), Israel, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Serbia-Montenegro, Yugoslavia (former), Haiti, Japan, United States, Cuba, Iraq, Kuwait, North Korea Subject: Mideast Peace Process, Nuclear Nonproliferation, Arms Control, CSCE, United Nations, Immigration, OAS, Regional/Civil Unrest 12:30 P.M. (ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED)

[Middle East Peace Process: Statement on Multilateral Negotiations]

MS. TUTWILER: Sorry for keeping you waiting. But Secretary Baker was expecting a call from the Russian Foreign Minister, and I knew that they would be discussing something that, hopefully, I would be able to tell you, which I'm in a position to do. So that's the reason for the delay. They discussed, again today as they did yesterday, the upcoming Middle East multilateral conference that we're co-hosting in Moscow -- the multis -- and just basically more details on that. They also discussed again today the mission that you all have been asking me about about Under Secretary Reggie Bartholomew's upcoming mission to the former Soviet Union -- to Russia, to other places. This is, as you know, following up on Secretary Baker's trip at the end of December. Under Secretary Bartholomew and his interagency group will be going over next week. I don't want today to announce the exact day, but it's next week. He will be taking his interagency team. They are going, and they will be prepared to discuss a wide range of subjects, much of which -- the vast majority of which is a follow-up to the agenda that the Secretary raised in December on the questions of nuclear safety and security, disabling and dismantling, proliferation -- particularly with an eye toward establishing strict export controls -- and legal obligations under international agreements. Under Secretary Bartholomew will be going to all of those states that, as you know, have nuclear weapons, in addition to going to Moscow. So there will be four former republics that he and his delegation will visit. I do not -- since this was just decided -- have all of the details: How long will he be there? What's the makeup of his group? When is he going to return, etc.? But he is definitely going. That's now set, and that will be next week. Q Does the delegation include any scientists? Are they -- MS. TUTWILER: Scientists? Q The question is, are they just going to be talking or are they going to begin to dismantle? MS. TUTWILER: I don't think that Reggie Bartholomew and the people that will be going at his level from the other departments and agencies of our government are the literal, technical people who do that type of work. I believe they obviously are going to be engaging face-to-face. There have been on-going discussions since the Secretary was there in December. This was a suggestion that we had made, as you recall, in December, and this is just the follow up to this. Q Have the other people not gone yet? Will they go after this group? MS. TUTWILER: I don't have every answer you would like to all of this. Reggie's group -- this is just literally -- this mission has just been decided. How Reggie is going to flesh it out, when the technical people will actually be on the ground, I just don't have answers for all that. Q This is not a fine point or a footnote. We didn't originate this. When the Secretary went to what you call the former -- what is now, I suppose, the former Soviet Union, there was a lot made of the fact that Congress had approved some money that could be used by sending technicians there to help disable nuclear weapons, which was in the U.S.'s interest to do as quickly as possible. Now, it was never thought then that those technicians are different from the negotiating team headed by Bartholomew; that it was a distinctive, discreet operation. Then, when we ask if they've gone, we're told that we don't know about that, that's kind of technical. It isn't. It's kind of a major undertaking the Administration either has decided to delay or must wait the result of Reggie finding out who to negotiate with. MS. TUTWILER: Number one, Barry, the $400 million, which the President announced he intends to use -- and I am not the congressional representative here -- there is a congressional process that must be gone through to acquire that money. That's one step. To my knowledge, that step is not complete. The President has stated his intention. I know of no objections, but those wheels are in motion. Number two, I am not personally aware that Reggie Bartholomew, as the Under Secretary of State and a very senior Foreign Service Officer, would be the person who will be on the ground literally, technically, with the expertise to help dismantle and destroy nuclear weapons. If I'm wrong, please correct me. Q No, nor are we. We never -- MS. TUTWILER: Can I finish? When Reggie's mission follows up on Secretary Baker's mission, which was what now -- three and a half weeks ago? -- I don't think that's a great lapse of time, taking into account we had Christmas and New Year's. Reggie is now going, I have said, next week. For all I know he will be taking those type of people. All I'm able this morning to tell you is that he will be taking his normal interagency team. I'm assuming, in addition, because conditions are so different, he will be taking additional types of people on this mission. Whether some set up an office in these former republics, whether some are already in Moscow, I just of my own knowledge don't know. But are we actively pursuing this? You bet we are. Q Do you have some problem -- does the Administration have some problem in sorting out how to address this situation because of the breakup and the fact that you have four republics with nuclear weapons? Is this the reason technicians haven't gone there yet? MS. TUTWILER: Not to my knowledge. I think it's nothing more than a simple case of, number one, as you know, there have been -- what now? -- one major meeting in Alma-Ata after we left. I believe there has been another meeting in Minsk and another meeting in Moscow. They themselves are not only dealing with this issue -- these 12 new countries -- they're dealing with a host of other issues. So we had Christmas, as I just stated, which most people take a short break for. We had New Year's here in this country. Everyone knows this has basically been a break in our country. This is the fourth day we've been back, and I've announced for you the follow-up to what the Secretary said in December. Q Not to beat it to death, but when the Secretary went there, he said his number one priority was to address the problem of nuclear weapons strewn through four republics. MS. TUTWILER: And I would argue with you we are. Q And even before then, Reggie had a mission to negotiate with -- whoever -- the follow-up to START, the unilateral pledges by the Soviets. We didn't -- the press -- originate the notion that these two missions had blended. When we asked about technicians, we were told Reggie will be dealing with that when he goes there. So that is why we keep asking -- MS. TUTWILER: I'm not saying that he's not. Q -- if the technicians are going there to help take these weapons apart, and the answer is, "Congress hasn't given us the money yet so we're not ready to do it." MS. TUTWILER: That's an unfair characterization, in my opinion, of what I just said. Q Okay. Then why aren't they on their way? MS. TUTWILER: I will repeat what I just said to you, Barry. I delayed the briefing in order to give you a piece of information that you have asked for for 3 days running since we've been back. Okay? Well, for the 3 days I've been back. I now have that piece of information which I've given you. I have said now -- this will be the third time -- I personally, in the rush to get down here, since you all -- I understand and appreciate -- like me to be here at 12:00 noon, I came straight down here. I said that, when talking to Reggie this morning, Reggie told me that he will be anticipating taking his experts -- interagency experts. I said that I would imagine that because it's a new day here -- has been a new day since December; a lot has changed -- that he would, in addition, be taking people to meet the situation that is different today. I've said it three times. I don't have, which I acknowledged, a list of who all is going. I will try to get that for you by maybe tomorrow. They're putting this together. But I don't see what the big deal is, to be honest. Q Margaret, do you have -- have you received any kind of indication that the commonwealth military command is less enthusiastic than the political leaders of the four republics in having outside help in destroying nuclear weapons? MS. TUTWILER: Not that I'm aware of, no. Q Will this mission be dealing both with strategic nuclear and tactical nuclear equipment and facilities, or only one or the other? MS. TUTWILER: It's my understanding, Ralph -- I'll be happy to take your question -- in speaking with Reggie this morning and in speaking with Ambassador Ross and Secretary Baker that he will be -- his mission will be covering, as I tried to briefly outline, an entire wide range of subjects, one of which I mentioned was export controls. That feeds into what Johanna had asked me yesterday. I said a particular eye toward that. I talked about proliferation; I said, to make sure that we are watching that we are living up to our international obligations. Under that basket falls CFE and falls START. So it's a very broad, in my mind, mission. Just as when the Secretary was there in December in these republics, he discussed a wide range. He did say that he thought it would be prudent and wise -- and no one objected -- if his senior person, who manages the interagency process on this, would return very shortly after the first of the year to follow up on the detail. That's what I believe Reggie will be doing. Q Secretary Baker, and obviously Reggie, are concentrating their efforts on the four republics with the strategic weapons and the bulk of the tactical weapons. But can you tell us what's being done about the other republics, some of whom do have tactical weapons? What kind of discussions there are with them? MS. TUTWILER: I don't know. I'll be happy to ask for you. Q Do you have an assessment at this point, on behalf of the U.S. Government, as to how much of the nuclear warhead material remains scattered among the four republics and how much has been, in fact, moved into the Russian federation? MS. TUTWILER: I don't have an assessment for you. I'll be happy to see if the experts want to give you that type of information at this time. I'm not sure that they will, but I'll ask. Q President Yeltsin is going to the United Nations the end of this month. Did they discuss his meeting with President Bush? MS. TUTWILER: Whether President Yeltsin is or is not going to attend the United Nations meeting at the end of this month is up to the Russian Government to announce, not for me. So I will refrain from discussing whether or not the Secretary and the Foreign Minister discussed that broad subject or not. As far as whether as whether President Bush is or is not going, I'll leave that, again, up to the White House. Q Margaret, on the first subject -- the multilateral regional conference -- MS. TUTWILER: On the first? Q -- is it still firm for Moscow as a venue? MS. TUTWILER: Yes. Q Does anybody know how many countries are actually going to show up? MS. TUTWILER: On that one, Jim, I have not seen a list since I've been back. I'll be happy to look at it, but it will probably be the same type of posture we're taking concerning our coordinating conference. I doubt we would put out a list until we are actually at the conference type of thing. Q Together with that -- following that, will the Secretary and, presumably, the President then go on to London for the summit? MS. TUTWILER: To London? Q Yeah. MS. TUTWILER: It's New York. Q New York. I'm sorry. Q Or Prague? MS. TUTWILER: The President, to my understanding -- no heads of state will be going to the conference in Moscow. I'm unaware that's how that's envisioned. It's at a ministerial level. Q He has a State of the Union address at the same time? MS. TUTWILER: That's right. Q Is the Secretary's plan to go to Prague for a CSCE meeting which is January 30-31? Or will he go to New York to assist the President in the summit meeting that Jim is asking about? MS. TUTWILER: The Secretary's current plans are to still attend the CSCE meeting in Prague.

[Israel/Occupied Territories: US Policy on UN Resolution 726/ Meaning of Reference to "Palestinian"]

Q Margaret, do you have any further interpretation on the question we raised yesterday about the U.N. resolution? Any precedents in that? Any explanation for why we supported that resolution with the language it contained? MS. TUTWILER: It's my understanding, Tom, that this is not a new issue; that the United States has abstained or voted in favor of U.N. Security Council resolutions containing this or a similar formulation, "Palestinian and other Arab territories" since 1979. Such references to occupy Palestinian territories have appeared in the following United Nations Security Council resolutions, which I will not list for you. I will be happy to post -- there are about 20 of them here which we have either abstained on or voted in favor of. I have the entire list. So my understanding is that phraseology, from the U.N. experts and the experts here, has been used since 1979. Q Just to clarify, then. The reason that we accept that phraseology is because the United States position is that the West Bank, Gaza, and Jerusalem are, demographically speaking and geographically speaking, Palestinian territories. MS. TUTWILER: My understanding -- and, of course, you can recognize that I will not veer from the language that the United States has followed since 1979 -- is that in addressing this issue, the United States has explained its vote along the following lines: The United States regards the phrase, "All the Palestinian territories occupied by Israel since 1967, including Jerusalem," as being merely demograhically, as you point out, and geographically descriptive and not indicative of sovereignty. The United States believes that the final status of the occupied territories is a matter for direct negotiations between the parties concerned, and we will not support any other alternative. The term "Palestinian," as we have noted earlier, is only used for descriptive purposes only. Thus, we are willing to accept resolutions containing this formulation if they are otherwise acceptable with the clearly stated caveat expressed in our statements explaining our vote. Q Can I just follow that up, Barry? I just want to understand this, then. Although the West Bank, Gaza, and East Jerusalem are populated by 225,000 Jews and 1.7 million Palestinians, it's the U.S. Government's position that these are, demographically speaking, Palestinian territories? MS. TUTWILER: You can well understand -- I'm sure you won't appreciate -- that I am not going to open up and debate this many years of long-standing United States policy. I'm just simply not going to do it. Obviously, in my personal opinion, from my moccasins, it doesn't serve any useful purpose. This is, in our opinion, not a new issue. It is how we have, it's my understanding, provided everything else in the bill or resolution is correct, is how we've consistently voted. That is our standard explanation of vote as was put in Ambassador Pickering's explanation of vote on the vote that was taken, I believe, last Friday. Q What I don't understand is, how we can -- since it's precisely the demograhpic and geographic evidence, which Palestinians and Israelis marshal to support their claims to sovereignty, how we can sign a resolution that says that these territories are demographically and geographically Palestinian and then say that we are taking no position on the sovereignty question. MS. TUTWILER: I know that it would be really a lot of fun and entertaining for me to sit here and open up a debate that I bet was very, very contentious back in 1979. That has not been an issue that has been raised, to my knowledge -- certainly, in the 3 years I've been here -- of an explanation of vote and why the United States takes the position that it does, which I just restated, which is the exact one that Ambassador Pickering did. So I'm going to really refrain from engaging with you. I think it would be a very interesting conversation, but it's one that I don't think from my position here would be very wise of me to engage in. Q Margaret, games aside, there are Mideast peace talks going on now. Tom is right, the future of the West Bank and Gaza are very much at issue now. When you say East Jerusalem, you even said Jerusalem. MS. TUTWILER: I don't believe I said that. Q You said "Jerusalem" is demographically Palestinian. By that, do you mean it's majority Arab instead of Jewish? MS. TUTWILER: I'm just going to do to you the same thing I just did with Tom. This is the phraseology that any number of Administrations -- Republican and Democrat -- have used -- it's my understanding here -- since 1979. I am simply not going to engage in opening up analyzing parts of long-standing United States policy. This is what the language says. It's said it since '79. In our view, there is nothing new or a new issue concerning this. It's something that we, on this vote, as we have -- and I will post for you every resolution, Barry, that this is contained in by number and date and how the United States voted since 1979. It has this exact explanation of vote and language. Q History did not stop in 1979. I'd simply like a statement from the State Department explaining how demographically Jerusalem is Palestinian -- MS. TUTWILER: I will be happy to ask the State Department. Q -- since Jerusalem is predominately Jewish. MS. TUTWILER: I will be happy to ask the State Department. I'm not sure that you're going to get one. This is our policy, long standing, and this is how we -- it's my understanding, through all these many resolutions -- have continued to have the explanation of our vote. Q If it's a long-standing policy, why wasn't the word "Palestinian" used in Security Council Resolution 338, which was adopted, or in 242 which underpins the current peace process? MS. TUTWILER: I do not know, and I'll be happy to ask somebody for you. Can I give you an update on the Middle East, since we're on that subject? The joint Jordanian-Palestinian delegation left Amman this morning and is expected to arrive in Washington later today. The Lebanese delegation has informed us that it will arrive in Washington Friday afternoon. The Syrian Government has informed us that the Syrian delegation will depart tonight and will arrive in Washington in the morning. We have urged, as you all know, all parties to promptly set a starting time for the continuation of these bilateral negotiations. We hope that these talks will begin as soon as possible. As I have said, on any number of occasions from this podium, the facilities here at the State Department are open, and we are ready for business. Q Will it be open Sunday, by the way? MS. TUTWILER: Yes. They will be open as they were the last time. There is no end on the end. So they will be open throughout the weekend. Q Do you have any words of advice to the delegations about proceeding at this point? Whether or not the United States is urging them to move beyond what the U.S. has called procedural issues and get into the substance? Are you making that point to them at this point, or are you just sitting back and being quiet? MS. TUTWILER: We made that point when they were all here, continuously. We have made it since they have departed. I am sure once they all arrive, we will be making it here in person. The only meeting that Ambassador Djerejian has today and Ambassador Ross are their meeting at 4:00 p.m. this afternoon with the heads of the Israeli delegation. Q What for? MS. TUTWILER: I didn't ask them what for. They meet all the time. This is just another meeting. I get asked every day here, "Could I please say what meetings are going on?" So I'm telling you when it's going on. Q Will this PLO person who has been granted a visa be allowed to enter the premises of the U.S. Government property? Or will the U.S. officials meet with him anywhere at all? MS. TUTWILER: I answered that the other day. Q I didn't hear it. MS. TUTWILER: The answer remains the same. The United States Government will not be meeting with this gentleman or having conversations. Q When you answered the question before, you did not know at that point if he could be a member of the advisory committee. Do you know now? MS. TUTWILER: I haven't, to be honest, looked into it for you. My understanding -- well, not my understanding -- I know his visa was granted -- Q To make a speech. MS. TUTWILER: To make a speech; right. Q While he's making the speech, can he hang around here and sort of pipe advice to the delegation? MS. TUTWILER: We're not policemen, Barry. Q I didn't ask you if you're policemen. MS. TUTWILER: When people come to town, they can talk and meet with whomever they want to. Q [Inaudible] discussion. The two other PLO-linked people that you let in were permitted to be members of the advisory committee. So we're simply asking if, under the same waiver, this gentleman will be permitted to be in the advisory committee -- policemen or not? It's a policy matter. MS. TUTWILER: Excuse me, Barry. We have never, to my knowledge, put out -- the United States Government as co-host -- a list of advisers. We didn't in Madrid. We didn't in the first round. We're not going to in this round. We are not the last say on who are advisers. And so if you would like to know if this gentleman is serving as an adviser, I would suggest you ask the Palestinians. Q No. He came here. Look, you have issued -- the U.S. Government -- MS. TUTWILER: Correct. Q -- is the party that sets the terms and conditions when a waiver is granted -- MS. TUTWILER: That's right. Q -- from the law. MS. TUTWILER: That's right. Q You have granted a waiver. I am asking the U.S. Government if the conditions are such that this fellow can be a member of the advisory committee. That's not for the Palestinians to decide. You're the folks who were granting the waiver. MS. TUTWILER: We do not -- Q What are the terms? Make a speech or make a speech, and you already told us he's not going to meet with the U.S. You've set that condition. Is he a member of the advisory group or not? If you don't know, please ask. MS. TUTWILER: It's not whether I know or do not know. As you know, there is only an -- under the terms of reference -- an official Palestinian delegation. As you will recall in Madrid, there was only an official accredited Palestinian delegation as part of the joint Jordanian delegation. As you, yourself, have pointed out to me, in Madrid, there is a PLO headquarters, and I believe at one point you used the phrase to me, "There were just hundreds of PLO all over town." Q I never said that at all. MS. TUTWILER: In this case, this person -- Q I never heard that. MS. TUTWILER: -- has said and did factually apply for a waiver for a visa to give a speech. I have said to you that we do not have an official adviser's list. We never have. We did not -- it is not part of the terms of reference. Do I believe that this gentleman will probably talk to the Palestinians that are in town? Yes, I do. But do I know if they have named him as an adviser, to use your term, I honestly do not. Q Can you tell us now -- MS. TUTWILER: I will be happy -- you should do your own checking, as I'm sure you will, with the Palestinians. I will be happy to ask the experts here who will be talking to the Palestinians when they arrive, if that is what they intend. I just don't know that, Barry. Q Can you -- MS. TUTWILER: But do I believe they're going to be having -- or seeing him or talking to him? That would be my assumption, yes. Q And, if he does, it doesn't violate the terms of the waiver. Correct? MS. TUTWILER: No. Q Can you tell us now to whom and when and how long this fellow will be in the United States? MS. TUTWILER: I unfortunately answered that yesterday also, and I said that I did not know. Q Can we -- look, the State Department has granted a waiver, waived the congressional legislation signed by the President into law -- MS. TUTWILER: Which we do all the time. Q -- about the PLO, and we waived this in order to permit this fellow to come in. Some people are saying the United States is being more PLO than the PLO. Now, tell me, why doesn't the State Department say this man is coming at this date, he will leave at this date, he will address these people, and then leave the country? Why can't the State Department say that? MS. TUTWILER: Because I'm unaware, under this visa waiver that he has, if that is how, legally by rules that are our law, it is handled. Q I have been asking this question for 3 days. Why doesn't the State Department know this, and, if it does know it, why doesn't it say it publicly? MS. TUTWILER: I just answered you. [To staff] Richard [Boucher], do you know if there's a time limitation on this waiver? I don't think there is. I can't remember. MR. BOUCHER: I'm not sure. [Inaudible] MS. TUTWILER: That's right. I will get you a legal and congressional, under our laws, explanation of this type of visa that he's under. I apologize if you've asked the Press Office. I haven't seen you for 3 days. And we will make sure that you get this answer immediately this afternoon. We'll get you all the documentation. Q Margaret, is it -- MS. TUTWILER: On visas in general. Not this gentleman's. Q No. I want it on this gentleman, please. MS. TUTWILER: This gentleman's has been waived under the laws that I'm going to give you. Q But there are conditions, aren't there? MS. TUTWILER: Yes, Ralph. Q Do you know if the Israeli delegation chairman who will be coming to meet with U.S. officials today -- whether they have begun discussing this week or will begin today discussing the loan guarantees issue? MS. TUTWILER: I would not envision that they would, but I can't tell you what their agenda is that they're coming to discuss. Q Aren't you skirting the issue in saying that, not on this gentleman but on the congressional role? We know about the law. MS. TUTWILER: That's what I'm going to give you -- the law on waivers of visas. Q No. We don't need that. What we need is what are the conditions under which this fellow is coming to the United States. MS. TUTWILER: I've answered that every day this week. He's giving -- Q No, you haven't. MS. TUTWILER: Yes, I have. Q I haven't seen it. MS. TUTWILER: He's giving a speech. I told you that yesterday. Q Yes. But where and when and how and under what circumstances? MS. TUTWILER: I told you yesterday that our information was, I believe, January 17 through 19. I told you that it's my information it was an Arab-American group, and other than that I do not know. Q Does he come on the 16th of January and leave the 20th? Is that the arrangement? MS. TUTWILER: I haven't been as interested as you are, to be honest, and I don't have that type of information. Q This is very strange that you're not interested, when you waive a congressional edict. But let me ask you another question about principles. A U-2 plane has flown over North Korea, and the North Koreans have complained, and the United States says, as Mr. Scowcroft said, that, "We're going to do this as long as we feel it's necessary." And yet when the Israelis flew over Iraq, we blew up and said, "Israel can't do that. It's interfering with the peace process." Isn't this visa being granted interfering with the peace process? Is there any difference in the principle between flying over North Korea and flying over Iraq? Why can't we get a sentence on that? MS. TUTWILER: I'll look into it for you. Q Oh, yes. Thank you. Q Margaret, do you have anything on the Yugoslav's change of Defense Ministers? Apparently a hard-line Serbian is the new Defense Minister, and I suspect you're not crazy about that. MS. TUTWILER: On the new Defense Minister, Barry. My understanding is that he has been named acting, and that our policy -- our position on this is that we expect the new Acting Defense Minister and anyone who may be named subsequently to replace the current Defense Minister to fulfill the Yugoslav military's obligations under the ceasefire agreement and peace plan brokered by Mr. Vance, as well as the commitments made to the EC regarding the safety of its monitors. Q And do you have an update on that -- on the general situation? MS. TUTWILER: On the general situation? Our general update today is the cease-fire is holding, and that it is being generally respected. Q Margaret, do you have any readout on yesterday's planning meeting on the Soviet aid conference? MS. TUTWILER: No. I have a brief -- the Secretary got a debrief last night from Under Secretary Kanter, and basically they felt very good about the meetings that had taken place. It's my understanding that they met as a big group yesterday, approximately 40 to 60 experts, and then broke into the various working groups. They all acknowledge up front, and have for many weeks, this is an enormous task. They've got a lot of work to do, but they're very energized and ready to tackle it. Q Margaret, do you have anything further you care to say now about how the conference itself will be conducted, or whether those six groups that you -- six topics that you mentioned yesterday would, in fact, turn out to be subcommittees of the conference when it convenes? MS. TUTWILER: There's always been envisioned that you have the ministerial meeting, but at the same time you will have the six working groups. We will have our experts here, with expertise in each one of the areas. The other countries that are coming are bringing their experts who are specialists in those areas. Q And is it expected that this coordinating conference will produce a report of some sort that spells out how aid will be provided, or is this the beginning of a process, I guess? Is this the beginning and end of a process or the beginning of one? MS. TUTWILER: As far as will there be a continuation coordinating conference, I have said the conferees will determine that during the meeting. And as far as what or how we are planning to work the conference, I'd really rather not comment on this far in advance. Q Margaret, about Kuwait: There's a report that Kuwait has had a new round of deportations into Iraq. Have you any comment on it? MS. TUTWILER: I haven't heard about that. I'll be happy to look into it. Q Margaret, can we do Haiti? MS. TUTWILER: Haiti? I don't have anything new for you today as far as numbers. There's no -- Q [Inaudible] MS. TUTWILER: I know the other part. No one was picked up yesterday, so we still have had no individuals picked up since December 30. I do have new asylum numbers for you -- 561 of the 2,226 who have been found to have a plausible claim to asylum have now been flown to the United States. Concerning what I know is the other part of the Haiti story today concerning the new Prime Minister, the United States' views of this is that we welcome this development and hope that it will lead to further steps to end Haiti's crisis. We have long stated that Haiti's crisis must be resolved by Haitians negotiating among themselves, consistent with their constitution. We hope that the dialogue which led to the choice of a new Prime Minister will continue and produce other measures to restore constitutional rule. We hope Haiti's parliament will give prompt consideration to President Aristide's nomination of Mr. Theodore as Haiti's next Prime Minister. Q You're not troubled by the fact that he is the head of the Communist Party of Haiti? MS. TUTWILER: It's my understanding that we understand that this is a position he took in opposition to the Duvalier dictatorship. It is further my understanding that he says that he is a democrat and is committed to sound economic policies. The United States is prepared to work with any Haitian Government that is formed by constitutional means and committed to democracy. Q Do you have anything on the embargo or -- well, try that one -- the embargo? MS. TUTWILER: The embargo. Q Yes. You know -- MS. TUTWILER: Has there been any change? Q They're making progress toward a democratic solution, and I just wondered if you had some language there about lifting the embargo. MS. TUTWILER: I don't think anyone is on to that point yet, George. Q Margaret, can we mop up on the President's illness, meaning now that 24 hours later, were there any assurances or any contacts with foreign governments given by the State Department that it was, as it's been described, I suppose, as a routine flu or -- MS. TUTWILER: No. Q There was no need for any action, no -- MS. TUTWILER: No. Because the White House was instantly communicating to the world, in our opinion, that the President was fine. Marlin Fitzwater, the President's spokesman, was -- I believe it was 40 minutes, I've heard -- out on live TV on a network that is very capable of broadcasting around the world and stated the facts. So we were very, very forthcoming. The Secretary of State, as I said yesterday, was informed of the situation between 6:20 and 6:30 is what he told me, and there was further follow-up. So there was, in our opinion, never a need. Q Did anybody -- did any foreign leaders express -- any inquiries, any questions? MS. TUTWILER: No foreign leaders called the Secretary of State yesterday. I said that he had spoken yesterday with the Foreign Minister of Russia. He obviously expressed his hopes that the President felt better. He at that time knew that it was nothing more than flu. So other than people that the Secretary's actually meeting with, I haven't seen a single cable, or Ambassadors didn't alarmingly start calling in here. The Secretary did speak with the President last night in Tokyo, and it's nothing more than what Marlin has said and what the President himself has said occurred. Q Did he say, "Cut down your traveling. I'll do a little more myself, because I don't get out of town much." [Laughter] Q Anything new on -- MS. TUTWILER: On the what? Q -- the three Miami residents arrested in Cuba? And, secondly, if I could get your reaction; the Cuban Interior Minister, I guess, today turned out a statement, saying that the U.S. has turned a blind eye and a deaf ear to anti-Castro terrorist groups working out of Miami. MS. TUTWILER: I haven't seen that statement, and concerning the three individuals is that we have asked, as I said we were going to yesterday, through our Interests Section, for information about these three people, and so far we have received no response. If any of the three are United States citizens, the United States Interests Section in Havana will request immediately that a United States Consular Officer be allowed to visit them. And I stated yesterday United States law concerning United States citizens and terrorist activities abroad, should they engage in that. Q Would there be any move to bring them -- under what circumstances will we try to bring them back here, or would we just allow them to go through the Cuban court system? MS. TUTWILER: Number one, that's a hypothetical for me, because we still can't confirm that there are three United States citizens who are in Cuba. We're trying to be able to confirm or deny that. The only reports that are out there that we have seen are Cuban reports. Q The Interior Ministry also said that an unnamed female American journalist was accompanying these men. MS. TUTWILER: That's the first I've heard of that. Q Do you know anything about that? MS. TUTWILER: First I've heard of that. The only thing we saw was, I believe, yesterday one or two Cuban reports about this alleged terrorist activity by three Americans. Q The Cubans are being very specific today. The Interior Ministry is saying that these people were training openly in Miami, for instance -- part of a terrorist organization training in Miami. MS. TUTWILER: We stated yesterday, and I'd be happy to state again for you today, what the United States law is. But before we get to the United States law, I can't even confirm for you -- we have tried, and we've had no response through our U.S. personnel in the Interests Section in Havana -- that there are three Americans in Cuba. We just can't confirm that. Q Margaret, could we go back for a moment to the peace talks? Does the U.S. Government have any preference or feeling about where the next round should take place? MS. TUTWILER: The United States Government's general feeling, Jim, as you know, is that it's our opinion that at some point -- we've never defined what that point is -- these talks should be moved to the region. Q And would this be a convenient logical point for them to be moved to the region? MS. TUTWILER: I haven't defined when that point would be in the past, and I cannot begin doing that today. Our general view of the United States is that at some point these should be moved to the region. It makes sense to us. Q Margaret, has the U.S. heard anything in these meetings, such as the one Mr. Djerejian will hold today, that the procedural disagreement between Israel and the Palestinians can be resolved this time around? MS. TUTWILER: I don't want to predict whether it can or cannot. What I have heard Ambassador Djerejian and Ambassador Ross and Mr. Kurtzer and others say throughout this week and over Christmas -- and you all have seen much of it in public -- all of the parties that I'm aware of have said that they want to get beyond procedural issues and to substance. Whether, indeed, they actually do or not, it's certainly our hope that they will, but I don't have a crystal ball for you to predict whether it will happen or not. We certainly hope it will. Q They may want to, and they may sincerely want to, but if they have this problem and there's no face-saving way out of it, they may have trouble, which raises the question whether the U.S. is prepared to exercise that catalytical role that it has taken. Is the U.S. going to put forward any way out of this procedural problem? MS. TUTWILER: The United States has -- when they were here before, over the break and this week -- has continuously at our experts level been in any numbers -- hundreds probably -- of conversations with various members of all of the parties about how do you get to substance. We've said and made no secret of the fact that we make suggestions; we have conversations -- that's ongoing. But it is also our view that we state constantly, it's up to the parties themselves to work this out to make their own decisions. We can't make decisions for them. Q Margaret, also on the talks, forgive me, at the beginning I wasn't clear when you said that they discussed the details of the multilateral talks to be held in Moscow -- MS. TUTWILER: Some of the specifics. Q Did you say or not that it's still planned for the same dates? Is there any slippage on the date? MS. TUTWILER: I answered yes, it is. Q During that conversation, did the subject of Georgia come up? MS. TUTWILER: No. Q Do you have anything on reports that in Iraq some military officers have been executed for plotting a coup? MS. TUTWILER: No, I don't. I apologize. I briefly saw something on that this morning on some news account, and it's just something I haven't had an opportunity to get into today. Q Do you have any comment on news reports this morning that the United States and North Korea rescheduled the nuclear talks? MS. TUTWILER: Have rescheduled nuclear talks? Q Yes. MS. TUTWILER: No. I haven't seen that. Q The schedule has not been set? MS. TUTWILER: I don't know whether the schedule has or hasn't been set. I just haven't seen that particular report. Q Scowcroft in Tokyo said that -- he was quoted that the talks will be held later in the month. MS. TUTWILER: On the United States' talks is what you're asking me? Q [Inaudible] North Korea. MS. TUTWILER: I misunderstood the first part of your question. The only thing I have for you is, yes, I am aware of what General Scowcroft said. He said that there are now discussions about when that meeting would be held, but there's nothing set at this time. I have nothing further than what the General said. Q Thanks a lot. (The briefing concluded at 1:10 p.m.)