US Department of State Daily Briefing #7: Monday, 1/13/92

Tutwiler Source: State Department Spokesman Margaret Tutwiler Description: Washington, DC Date: Jan, 13 19921/13/92 Category: Briefings Region: Eurasia, Caribbean, North America, MidEast/North Africa, South Asia Country: USSR (former), El Salvador, Nicaragua, Mexico, Kazakhstan, Israel, Algeria, Pakistan, Cuba Subject: POW/MIA Issues, Mideast Peace Process, North America Free Trade, Immigration, Terrorism, Human Rights, Democratization, Arms Control, Nuclear Nonproliferation 12:27 P.M. (ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED) MS. TUTWILER: I have several things I'd like to go through. The first is a housekeeping matter.

[Announcement: Press Credentials for Aid Coordinating Conference for the Former Soviet Union]

We will be issuing credentials for members of the press who wish to cover the upcoming Coordinating Conference on Assistance to the new independent states. That is, as you know, will be held here at the State Department on January 22-23. Application forms will be available this afternoon in the State Department Press Office, at the Foreign Press Center in Washington, and at U.S. Embassies overseas. The deadline for submission of applications is close of business, 5:30 p.m. Eastern Standard Time, Thursday, January 16. A notice will be posted after the briefing with details on application procedures and the credentials pickup schedule.

[Announcement: Secretary to Represent US at El Salvador Peace Accord Signing/Visit to El Salvador and Nicaragua]

I would like to announce a trip of Secretary Baker's. Secretary of State Baker will represent President Bush at the official signing of the peace accords ending El Salvador's civil war January 16 in Mexico City. Secretary Baker will also travel to El Salvador where he will meet with President Cristiani and other political and civic leaders and address leaders of the El Salvadoran National Assembly on January 17. The Secretary, in addition, will travel to Managua, Nicaragua, where he will consult with President Chamorro, members of her Cabinet, and with the leaders and members of the Nicaraguan National Assembly. The Salvadoran peace accords, which end a 12-year-long civil conflict, call for major reforms in El Salvador's judicial and electoral system, establishment of new human rights safeguards, and reform and reduction of its armed forces and police. These accords, following the successful elections in Nicaragua in 1990 and the end of conflict there, represent a major step forward in realizing the goals of the 1987 Esquipulas accords of a Central America wholly democratic and at peace. The Secretary's visit to El Salvador will reaffirm the United States' support for full implementation of the peace accords and signal the will of the United States to join with other interested nations in support of national reconstruction. The Secretary's trip to Nicaragua will offer an opportunity for the Secretary to review firsthand with President Chamorro and leaders of the National Assembly progress towards consolidation of democracy and economic recovery. While in Mexico City, the Secretary will hold a series of bilateral meetings with President Salinas of Mexico and a number of foreign leaders who will be in attendance as well as with the new Secretary General of the United Nations. The Secretary's current plans are to return to Washington, D.C., very late on the evening of Friday, January 17. The sign-up sheet for this trip will go up at the end of this briefing and we will take it down today at 5:00 p.m. Where is the overnight? Q That much --

[Former Soviet Union: US Diplomats Investigate Possible US POWs in Kazakhstan]

MS. TUTWILER: Can I get into that later, if you don't mind. One other thing. Frank, this is something that I know you've had an interest in, as have a number of you all, concerning the situation on the alleged POWs that were in Kazakhstan. Two officials from Embassy Moscow travelled to Alma-Ata on January 8 through 11 to pursue these allegations that an American POW was taken to Saryshagansk from Vietnam. Our officials received full cooperation from the Kazakh authorities. As you know -- I think I've mentioned before -- this is something that Secretary of State Baker brought up directly while in Kazakhstan on this last trip with the President, and President Nazarbayev assured us that there would be no problems and explained what the problems had been in the past concerning this. While they were there, our two officials met with senior Kazakh political, security, and military officials in Alma-Ata, as well as local residents and officials -- including KGB and military officials. None of these persons could provide any information to support these recent allegations concerning American POWs in the region, and all denied any knowledge of any Americans having lived or been detained in this area. Q Do you consider this case now closed, more or less? MS. TUTWILER: As far as we're concerned, unless someone brings forth something else. As you will recall, the author of the original article that this all started from, himself, put out a clarification of his own concerning the English translation of the document that started us down this road.

[Middle East Peace Process: Update]

Can I bring you up to speed on what's going on here today on the Middle East Talks? We are very pleased that bilateral meetings between the parties resumed this morning. The heads of the Israeli and joint Jordanian-Palestinian delegations arrived at the State Department at 9:00 a.m. and went straight into a meeting. At 10:00 a.m., the Israeli-Jordanian and Palestinian heads of delegation asked that their full delegations come to the State Department. The delegations are currently in their delegation offices caucusing. During the course of the morning, there has been at least one that I know of -- there could have been more -- of other meetings of the heads of this particular delegation. The Israeli and Syrian delegations arrived at 10:00 a.m. and have resumed their talks. The Israeli and Lebanese delegations also met at 10:00 a.m. this morning but without the head of the Lebanese delegation, who has been ill over the weekend and has requested 24 hours. So they will not continue their talks today. They have tentatively, depending on his health, said they will meet tomorrow at 10:00. Q Margaret? MS. TUTWILER: Yes, Barry. Q Margaret, actually these two delegations -- and I assume you mean only two -- an Israeli and joint Palestinian-Jordanian delegation. The fact that these two delegation are caucusing among themselves, does that mean that they have not -- the three chief negotiators -- have not resolved the procedural issue? Because, otherwise, I assume they would all be in one room. MS. TUTWILER: They've resolved something this morning. Because, as you know -- and I use their term, not ours -- "they are off the couch." They met at 9:00 a.m. this morning. I know of one other time the heads have gotten back together -- in a room, which is the significance this morning. So they met. It is absolutely correct, as of four minutes ago -- or the last time I checked -- the two delegations are here in the building -- unless they've left right now, and I don't know about it -- but they have not yet met all together as a group. That's the lay of the land as I understand it. Q May I also ask you, is the State Department now satisfied with Israel's procedure for considering the expulsion of 12 Palestinians accused of inciting terrorism by the fact that the appeals will be heard in public by order of Israeli courts. Does that mean that Israel is now having the kind of procedure that meets U.S. standards? MS. TUTWILER: To be honest with you, Barry, I saw one wire story this morning concerning a report that, as you state, they are going to, if "allow" is the correct word, public observance of these, and family members. But I do not know that that changes United States policy concerning deportations. I would like to reserve and look into that for you. Q On the deportation question? Beyond the U.S. support for the U.N. Security Council vote strongly condemning the action, is any other -- beyond the clarification on Barry's last question -- is anything else planned by the U.S. in terms of responding to or doing something to overturn the Israeli decision to expel these 12? MS. TUTWILER: Not that I am aware of. As you know, when we first learned of this incident, we raised this at the highest levels in the Israeli Government. This is prior to the United Nations vote. We made our views known then, but I'm not aware of any future actions the United States is or is not anticipating. Q Why did you change your policy -- the policy of -- MS. TUTWILER: Excuse me? Q Why did you change the policy of this podium -- previously announced that you are not going to announce anything related to the Middle East talks from here because you are not going to be a spokesman for the talks? MS. TUTWILER: That is my policy, and I will continue and be consistent today. I have everyday while they have been in this building, I have, as nothing more than a courtesy, said who is meeting where, what time they came in the building. I have simply declined -- and I will today -- to say anything that rightfully should be said by their spokesmen. It is my understanding that at 1:30 today, the Palestinians have said that they are having a press conference at the Grand Hotel. It is my understanding at 2:00 p.m. that the Jordanians have said they're having a press conference at the Grand Hotel. And at 3:00 p.m., it's my understanding the Israelis are having a press conference at the Madison Hotel. Q Margaret, back to the business of deportations. Does the United States have a position on the term, the legal term, of the word "deportation?" Because it's generally understood that a country can only deport an alien and has to expel a national. Therefore, if the United States believes that these people are being deported, does it mean the United States position is that the Palestinians living in the occupied territories are aliens and not nationals of that area? MS. TUTWILER: What I would prefer to do for you, Jan, is to have the lawyers write you what the United States legal definition is. I'll be happy to get the lawyers to do that for you at the end of the briefing. Q Margaret, was there any involvement of any State Department officials in the negotiations right now on the first floor? And, number two, were there any State Department officials mediating between the Israelis and the Syrians and the Israelis and the Lebanese to confirm the time of their meeting today? MS. TUTWILER: United States officials have been involved throughout. They have been involved in phone conversations. I am not aware of any meetings that Ambassador Djerejian or Ambassador Ross or Mr. Kurtzer or anyone had this weekend. I am aware of any number of phone conversations across-the-board with people who are here in town. That is no different than how the United States has been conducting itself and will continue to conduct itself. Except, as you know, in the terms of reference, there is one clause that says, "If both parties request the parties to come into the room, then such a mechanism would kick in. That has not happened. We have not been asked. But, yes, "Have we been in contact with all of them?" You bet we have. Q Margaret, on the Lebanese delegation head's illness, is there any suspicion that might be diplomatic form of illness to the bombing that took place in southern Lebanon by the Israeli planes? I think it was on Friday. MS. TUTWILER: Not that I'm aware of, Jim. My understanding -- and Ambassador Djerejian talked with the gentleman this morning, or either it was late yesterday afternoon -- he has some type of flu, it's my understanding. Q Have you had any -- I haven't heard it from here, but do you have any reaction to the bombing itself? MS. TUTWILER: To be honest with you, that is something that I'll have to get for you. I don't remember the incident on Friday. I'm sure that I should. It's just something that I don't know anything about today. Sorry. Q While we're on the subject of illness, when you said at the outside that the Secretary will represent the President in Mexico City, was that just boilerplate diplomatic announcement, or is the Secretary stepping in because the President has a medical problem? MS. TUTWILER: It was very creatively crafted -- beautiful diplomatese. No, the President does not have a medical problem. As you will recall, the Secretary of State represented the United States -- the President -- at the Angolan signing ceremony in Portugal. There are any number of examples I could give for you. This is something that the President and the Secretary of State decided -- that this would be appropriate for the Secretary to represent the President. The President, it's my understanding, is in Kansas, I believe, this morning. He has already spoken to your colleagues there. As far as I know, since the incident in Tokyo, the President has been at a full pace, full schedule. Q I just wondered if this were an indication the Secretary will be taking some of the trips that the President might normally take? MS. TUTWILER: No. This is an indication -- unfortunately, that 1992 might turn out to be like the past three years when we've been here. The Secretary of State's job, after all, is to represent our country and the President around the world at various fora. This is one that, obviously, we think is important, and the Secretary of State will be there. Q Margaret, do you anticipate this week some time, before the Secretary leaves, that he and the President might discuss and/or make a decision on Israel's request for loan guarantee money? MS. TUTWILER: I would't want to prejudge what he might or might not be discussing with the President this week. As you know, whether he's in town or out of town, or vice versa for either gentleman, they stay in very close contact and discuss all manner of subjects. But whether they specifically will be discussing this this week, I don't know. Q Well, last week you said "soon." So I just wondered -- MS. TUTWILER: The same phraseology is for today. I believe that question, though, was, "When will the Administration make a decision?" The answer still remains "soon."

[Algeria: US View of Situation]

Q Margaret, what's the United States assessment of what's happening in Algeria? MS. TUTWILER: In Algeria? We view the situation there with concern, the interruption of the electoral process. We commend the fact that Algeria has made impressive strides toward democracy in recent years, and we hope a way can be found to resume progress as soon as possible. In the meantime, we urge all parties to remain calm and to find a peaceful resolution in accordance with the Algerian constitution. As you know, under the Algerian constitution right now, the Prime Minister and the Cabinet remain in place and will handle day-to-day running of the government. The Algerian Constitution provides for the High Security Council to deal with all questions relating to public order and justice. That Council consists of the President, top army and security officials, the Prime Minister, and Defense and Justice Ministers. Q But, specifically, does the United States believe the elections that have now been cancelled should go forward? MS. TUTWILER: We definitely believe that it is important that a peaceful resolution be found in this in a calm manner in accordance with the Algerian Constitution. That's why I made the point of saying that the current system that is in place falls within the Algerian Constitution. I cannot predict for you, for instance, the Presidential elections. We just don't have a definitive answer today on whether those, indeed, will or will not go forward. We don't know. Q Excuse me, Margaret. The events of the weekend -- the departure of the President from office and the cancelling of the follow-up elections -- are in accord with the Algerian Constitution? MS. TUTWILER: I didn't say that. I said that we do not have a definitive word on the election of a President. It is my understanding -- and check the record -- that the President of Algeria said on the record and stated the reasons of why he resigned. Basically, it was for the unity of his people and for his country. So that is something that he has addressed himself to. Q Excuse me, Barry. But what about the follow-up legislative elections? Is the cancellation of those in accord with the Algerian Constitution? MS. TUTWILER: My instincts would be, Mark, that they are not. I have said that the United States Government views this with concern -- the interruption of the electoral process. Q In other words, it's the cancellation that you mean when you say "interruption?" The United States does not like the cancelling of the election? Is that what you're saying? MS. TUTWILER: The United States has been consistent and very supportive of the moves down a democratic road in Algeria. That process appears to have been interrupted. What I am saying is that, at the same time, under their constitution, to date, as I stand here, the mechanisms that have kicked in are the ones that were set up in their constitution. And concerning future elections, I just cannot answer for you today definitively, yes or no, they're not going to go forward or are. Q Margaret, when you said these mechanisms are set up in their constitution, what exactly are you referring to? That anytime the military doesn't like the results of a free and fair election, they're able to do this? MS. TUTWILER: I'm stating, Mary, that their constitution calls for the creation of exactly what is my understanding is existing there on the ground today. It is, one, the Prime Minister and the Cabinet dealing with the day-to-day operations of the government, and the creation of something that is called the High Security Council. So all I can tell you, I've given you our reaction; I can tell you what our understanding is of what is going on on the ground. I can point you to what falls under the Algerian Constitution, as I have. I'm not in a position, for lack of -- I don't think you would be able to ascertain it yourself today -- the information on what is going to happen in the future. I just can't do that. Q Could we just ask you from the reverse, Margaret, having viewed this sort of situation in other countries in the past, is the United States calling for the military to withdraw its influence on the process and to allow the parliamentary elections scheduled for this week to go forward as scheduled? MS. TUTWILER: I'm not aware, John, if we have publicly or privately called for the military. Again, I just listed who all comprises the High Security Council under their constitution. It is the top army and security officials in addition to others. So I'm not aware of that. If that's something we've done either publicly or privately, I'm just not aware of that. Q But in effect, the military has stepped in and prevented a free election going forward this week. The United States' only reaction to this is to say that we are concerned; is that correct? MS. TUTWILER: That's correct.

[Discussion: Islamic Fundamentalism]

Q Does the United States Government have a defined position vis-a-vis the rising tide of Islamic fundamentalism in the area? MS. TUTWILER: Concerning Islamic fundamentalism, let me make three points. First, it is important not to generalize about such a complicated subject. The term "Islamic fundamentalism" is used in different ways by different people. It embraces a wide variety of religious, political and social concepts. This is not a single, coordinated international movement. Secondly: For many years the United States has had productive and excellent relations with a number of Islamic or deeply observant governments and parties. We look forward to continuing doing so. The United States believes strongly in the principles of peaceful relations between neighbors, democracy, and human rights. We want to continue to work with all parties to promote those principles. Thirdly: At the same time, we, and the rest of the international community, will continue to resist the efforts of extemists, of whatever stripe, to undermine those principles. Q Are you saying that fundamentalism can be consistent with democratic values -- your second point? MS. TUTWILER: My second point, Barry, I think, stands for itself. I think it's also further amplified by my third point, where we point out extremists. That does not come as any surprise to anyone. We have very healthy, long-standing relations with many nations around the world that are deeply observant governments of Islam. It seems pretty clear to me. Q Margaret, could you name some of the governments with which we have -- MS. TUTWILER: Bangladesh, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, to name three. Q Are any of those, or any other examples democratic governments? MS. TUTWILER: I don't believe I said "democratic." I said, for many years the United States Government has had productive and excellent relations with a number of Islamic or deeply observant governments and parties. We look forward to continuing to do so. Q That's your third point. MS. TUTWILER: That's my second point. Q We weren't asking about -- at least I wasn't. I was asking if fundamentalism, in the U.S. view, is consistent with democracy? Your answer is, the U.S. has good relations with some fundamentalist governments. MS. TUTWILER: My answer is that your definition of "fundamentalism" -- Q I have no definition. I'm working on yours. The U.S. Government's is what I'm asking about. MS. TUTWILER: What I started by saying is that this is an enormously complicated subject. There are various -- which we would acknowledge -- I grant you don't have an opinion, but many, many people do of what is fundamentalism, and it would be irresponsible of me -- I have stated clearly, I think, and distinctly what the United States' views are concerning Islamic fundamentalism, and I have knowledge that that term is used very differently by different people and interpreted differently by different groups. Q But the United States interprets Islamic fundamentalism to encompass those governments which are currently in existence in Bangladesh, Saudi Arabia, and Pakistan, is that right? MS. TUTWILER: I did not say that they were "Islamic fundamentalists." I said they were Islamic, and that many countries that we have done business with for a long time are deeply observant countries of Islam. I did not say "Islamic fundamentalism." Q Margaret, could we get an interpretation on your third point? Is the Islamic front that won the first round of the elections an extremist group? MS. TUTWILER: I'll be happy to look into it for you, Norm.

[Pakistan: Reported Statement by Senator Pressler on Nuclear Arms Development]

Q Speaking of Pakistan, Senator Pressler said today in Islamabad that the United States Government -- this Administration -- is convinced that Pakistan has developed a nuclear weapon. MS. TUTWILER: As you know, and I cannot remember, Bill, what month it was last year, the United States Government, this Administration -- I believe the correct phraseology is "terminated" or "suspended" our program. There has been no change in that policy since then. I haven't seen what Senator Pressler said today. It is the Pressler amendment, as I recall, that we, indeed, followed what that amendment says, and based on our information terminated our aid. Q What he seems to be saying is that it has gone beyond gathering capability to build a weapon to the actual possession of such a weapon. MS. TUTWILER: I don't want to, obviously, refute a United States Senator. Let me look into it for you. Q Margaret, you have good relations with other governments and -- MS. TUTWILER: Excuse me. Just so there's no misunderstanding on the record, I'm not aware of what the Senator said. I'm saying I'm going to look into the general subject for you. I had said earlier I'm unaware of any change in our policy since we suspended our aid last year under the Pressler amendment. Q Then the question is whether Pakistan, according to -- MS. TUTWILER: Something's changed since then. Q -- the Administration now possesses a weapon. MS. TUTWILER: Let me look into it. Q I believe the Ambassador from Pakistan is coming in this afternoon to meet with the Deputy Secretary. Do you have -- what is the agenda? Was she being called in, or was it her request? MS. TUTWILER: You know something that I don't know. Larry [Eagleburger] is seeing this person this afternoon? Q It's on the public schedule. MS. TUTWILER: I'm sorry. I haven't read the public schedule this morning. I've been doing other things. Q Do you know if she's really coming? MS. TUTWILER: I have no idea. I will be happy -- in fact, Deputy Secretary Eagleburger, as many of you know, was out ill last week. I did not see the Deputy this morning. He was not at the senior staff meeting. So I was unaware that he was back in good health. So I will be more than glad to call his office and ask. I just don't know. Q Margaret, you are in good relations with other governments in the area that are at least expressing their worries of [an] Islamic fundamentalist tide. Are you in coordination with those governments like, say, Tunisia, Egypt, Morocco? MS. TUTWILER: Coordinating our policy? Q Somehow. MS. TUTWILER: I think that our policy -- I've just restated it and pulled it as best we could altogether for you. I'm unaware that it is either in sync or out of sync with other governments in the area. I'll be happy to see if somebody will take a look at that for you. Q Have you said whether you had any concern about the possibility of the impending victory of the Islamic front in all three? MS. TUTWILER: All I've expressed is the concern about the interruption of the electoral process. Q I know, and there's something similar here to the concern expressed by the interruption of the electoral process in Georgia as well, and I'm just trying to find out if there isn't any similarity between the concern that you expressed, but no more than concern that you expressed, for the interruption of these two electoral processes. It's just a coincidence that both -- MS. TUTWILER: We try to stay very consistent, because, if we say something different, then you know where we go. I don't do comparisons. Q But it seems to me that you are consistent, that the -- MS. TUTWILER: Believe me, I looked at this with the very eye toward what you were addressing this morning, because I knew full well -- Q You do comparisons. [Laughter] MS. TUTWILER: Secretly. -- that I would be asked. And this is a different situation, and that's why we do refrain from doing comparisons. And each situation has its unique set of parts to it, and so none of them are exactly alike. Q It's just that -- MS. TUTWILER: This is where we are today on Algeria. Q Except that -- it's probably obvious, but in both cases it seems to me the United States sort of had some concerns about the people who would win or had won. MS. TUTWILER: That's just something I'm not going to get into with you, is I'm going to continue to state the policies as we have. We have not, other than I can remember, since I've had this job, discussed personalities, other than that I can recall Saddam Hussein. Now maybe there's been another glaring omission that I'm not thinking of, but I'm simply not going to do this. This is our reaction today of what has transpired in the last 48 or 70 hours in Algeria. Q Margaret, could you tell us -- MS. TUTWILER: We've expressed our concern. Q Margaret, does the State Department -- is it the State Department's assessment that the reports coming from reporters on the ground, describing this as the military putting an abrupt end to Algeria's experiment with democracy, that those reports -- and also reporting that the Algerian President resigned due to pressure from the military to resign, because the military is alarmed by the fundamentalists having won this election. Is it the State Department's assessment that those are overblown reports; that it's not accurate to say that the military has, in effect, put an end to the democratic experiment in Algeria? MS. TUTWILER: I haven't seen all the reports that you're referring to. I have seen some. I would again, as I did with Mark, refer you to President Benjedid's own statement. I don't think it's for me to sit here and say whether he was or wasn't forced to make that statement. I would refer you to the Algerian Government. Concerning what has transpired there, now I have explained under their constitution to date, the mechanisms that have been put into effect are those that are in their constitution. I have said that we -- the United States -- are concerned about this interruption to the electoral process and that we would like very much to see democracy continue to take hold in Algeria, to progress on in Algeria. I have acknowledged I do not have a crystal ball to tell you whether, indeed, the presidential elections will or will not go forward. I don't know. Q Margaret, you would like to see the process to continue -- MS. TUTWILER: Of course. Q -- the democratic process, even though the likely result would be that at the end, those who win be against democracy. MS. TUTWILER: That's getting me into doing predictions. I don't do predictions. We are very interested in democracy proceeding on in a peaceful, calm, obviously non-violent manner in Algeria. Q And the democracy equals election? MS. TUTWILER: I'm sorry. What? Q Democracy equals election in your concept of it? MS. TUTWILER: There are other parts of democracy. As you know, our longstanding beliefs in human rights, freedom of religion; the entire pillars of our country falls, in my mind, under democracy. Q Margaret, the Israeli delegation plans to go home Wednesday night. Today you said you were pleased, I believe, that there's been a start here today. MS. TUTWILER: That's right. Q But does the U.S. Government have a view as to whether Israel should keep going past Wednesday night? MS. TUTWILER: That's for Israel to decide. I have read reports that the Israeli delegation has said to members of the press that they would be leaving on Wednesday. I noted they have announced that they are having a press conference this afternoon. It would be best for them to answer those types of questions. We're interested, obviously, in these talks getting to the substance, as we have said throughout December. I have given you an update this morning on where they are at the time I came to this briefing and have characterized it as that we were very pleased. Q Margaret, one other thing just quickly for the record -- MS. TUTWILER: Sure. Q -- because rumors keep flying. Moscow is still on for the multilaterals? MS. TUTWILER: Yes. I saw a wire report right before I came down here that said that someone had said that they weren't. I have no knowledge of that nor does anyone in this building. And the other thing -- someone had asked me the other day if the Russians were, indeed, going to be present as our staff level people are here in the building, and the answer is yes. Their representatives are here. Q Margaret, back on the Middle East, you said that the United States is very much interested at talks getting to substance. MS. TUTWILER: Well, sure. Q It appears that the Israelis may not get into substance until the talks are switched in to the region, and I'm asking you, is it time now for the United States to say, "Yes, we'd like these talks be continued in the region in the near future"? MS. TUTWILER: Our view on that hasn't changed today. As you know, we have said publicly that we believe at the appropriate time that it makes sense and would be practical for these talks to move to the region. We have never defined what is "at the appropriate time." Q Margaret, the families of the three men convicted to death in Cuba are appealing to the U.S. Government for help. Is there any help or any aid you can offer them? MS. TUTWILER: Not a lot, Bill, to be honest with you. We did not have access to the details of the investigation or the trial, but it does seem to be, in our opinion, a verdict reached in haste, and a sentence disproportionate to the alleged crime. We have made our concerns known to the Cuban Government on the basis of basic human rights and judicial process. As you all, I believe, know by now, none of these three individuals are Americans. One was a permanent resident, and the other two had immigration parole status. Last Friday, officials at our Interests Section did have an opportunity to discuss our interest with officials in Havana. Q The Cubans are saying that these three men -- MS. TUTWILER: Excuse me. I forgot to tell you one other thing. As you know, under our laws, if these had been American citizens -- which they are not -- the FBI has jurisdiction over this. Even though these are not American citizens, it is my understanding that as of last week -- or we noted last week that the FBI would be the organization agency that would look into it. Q The Cubans are saying that they all have CIA connections. MS. TUTWILER: I haven't heard that. Q Can you -- MS. TUTWILER: I really haven't. I'll be happy to take your questions, but I haven't heard that. Q Are you in a position to -- Q They said they had been trained in south Florida with specific knowledge of U.S. officials. The State Department doesn't have any response to that? MS. TUTWILER: I haven't seen that. I'll be happy to look into it. I've seen a number of reports, some of which have proved to be wild, and I will be happy -- that particular one, I honestly don't have any knowledge of. I'll see what the experts know. Q Margaret, are you in a position as a representative of the United States Government to call on Cuba and ask them for mercy? That is, not to carry out the sentence. MS. TUTWILER: I have said -- as you know, we have an Interests Section in Havana. I have said that we had a meeting, our officials with their officials, last Friday, and that we will continue to make our concerns known. Let me please state again these are not three United States citizens. Q Last week, Richard [Boucher] denied there was any U.S. connection with these three. You haven't repeated that. I assume you still stand by what Richard said, I believe on Friday? MS. TUTWILER: U.S. Government connection? To my knowledge, there's not. If there is, I don't know anything about it. I mean, that's similar to the CIA allegation that some reports are saying these people were working for the CIA. Q Margaret, I -- MS. TUTWILER: I believe -- excuse me -- that Assistant Secretary Aronson or someone else in this building certainly would have given me such a heads-up. That is normally how this works. It's very much a team effort here. I will be happy to ask if there's any truth to any of these rumors. Q Margaret, I have two questions: Last week you gave some comments on disagreements on the Black Sea fleet between Russia and Ukraine. Do you have anything on, I think, the apparent agreement that the less[er] part will go to Ukraine and strategic capability will remain under Russian control? MS. TUTWILER: I don't have a lot for you. The United States is pleased that the sides have reached preliminary agreement over the status of the fleet. As we have said before, a conflict over these issues is in no one's interest and will only detract from the real need to push forward with necessary economic and political reform. Q And one more: I believe Minister Kozyrev announced that he would expect a summit between President Bush and President Yeltsin to be in Washington. Can you announce any plans for a ministerial meeting before that? MS. TUTWILER: I would refer you to the White House concerning any future meetings concerning President Bush. Q But the question was on a ministerial -- MS. TUTWILER: Oh, I'm sorry. I thought you said Bush. Q -- a ministerial in advance of that. MS. TUTWILER: A ministerial in advance of what? Q Of a meeting between Bush and Yeltsin. MS. TUTWILER: Secretary of State Baker, as you all know -- we've already announced it -- will be in Russia on -- I think it's -- we arrive Sunday night, January 26. I believe when I announced the trip, I said on that Monday, the 27th, the day before the multilaterals, that he would be meeting with his counterpart the Foreign Minister. Now, I don't know if you want to call that a ministerial or not. Will they have a meeting on that Monday? Absolutely. Q Margaret, have you put out a list -- Q [Inaudible] MS. TUTWILER: What? Have I what, Johanna? Q You have not announced that trip formally, have you? MS. TUTWILER: The multilaterals? Q Secretary Baker's departure, and so forth? Q 28-29. MS. TUTWILER: Well, I've told you all, I mean. Q But, I mean, there's no sign-up sheet. MS. TUTWILER: There's no big secret. After all, we're co-hosting it. Q Is there a sign-up sheet? MS. TUTWILER: So, I mean, we're going to be there. I don't know, Johanna. I'll make sure there's a sign-up sheet after this briefing. Q Margaret, have you put out a list of those invited to and those that have accepted the conference on Russia and the other former Soviet republics next week? MS. TUTWILER: For the coordinating conference? Q Coordinating conference. MS. TUTWILER: No. And I'm not going to until the day of the conference. Q Margaret, when you put that list out, will it include any that may have declined the invitation or only those who accepted? MS. TUTWILER: To date, I know of no one who's been invited who's declined. But I will make sure, if there is such a case, that we put that on there for you. Q Similarly, Margaret, is there a list yet of the nations planning to attend the multilateral talks? MS. TUTWILER: No. Those official invitations -- even though the whole world knows about it; we announced the date at the end of '91 -- those official invitations should be, to be honest with you, going out today. And I would assume that we would handle it the same way. We will not put out a list of those who will be attending that until we actually get there at the conference. Q Margaret, are you inviting India? India's reported this morning to have said that she wishes to attend. MS. TUTWILER: To which? We have two here, one a week. Q The Moscow talks. MS. TUTWILER: Just as I have not responded on individual countries, I want to decline, saying who has or hadn't been invited, why they aren't being invited, until we can put out the total list, and then I will try to answer those questions of those people who weren't invited. Q Margaret, there was a report last week that the multilateral conference was being scaled back, though; that you were not going to invite nearly as many people as had originally been envisaged. Is there any truth in that? MS. TUTWILER: I saw that report on Friday, and, since we've never defined who all would be invited, I can't come to the conclusion that it has somehow been scaled back. It is true that the Secretary had said that it should be inclusive rather than exclusive, and we have laid down -- or he had -- a number of criteria of how we thought people -- or why people -- should be invited to it. So it would be a little difficult for me to say it was scaled back when there had been no final determinations on who's invited. And the invitations are supposed to be officially issued through capitals today. Q Margaret, back on the subject of the Cubans, you said that the Administration can do not much on behalf of them to commute the sentence or in some way lessen the death sentence against them. Is there another forum or nation to which the relatives of these Cubans should or could appeal on their behalf? MS. TUTWILER: I don't know. I'll be happy to ask the State Department here if they have a recommendation. I do know, when I said "not much," I believe I'm being honest. We have an Interests Section there. You know what our relationship is with Cuba. You know what President Bush has said it would take to improve that relationship, and these people are not three American citizens. It doesn't mean that we haven't -- and we did Friday -- raise our humanitarian -- human rights concerns. We did. And that we will continue to make those concerns known. Q Another question on this: Do you see any timing connection between this episode and the conference or symposium on the missile crisis being held in Havana? MS. TUTWILER: No. Q Thank you. (The briefing concluded at 1:07 p.m.)