US Department of State Daily Briefing #13: Friday, 1/24/92

Tutwiler Source: State Department Deputy Spokesman Margaret Tutwiler Description: Washington, DC Date: Jan, 24 19921/24/92 Category: Briefings Region: MidEast/North Africa, Eurasia, Central America, Caribbean, South America Country: Algeria, Peru, Cuba, El Salvador, Saudi Arabia, USSR (former), Russia, Israel Subject: Development/Relief Aid, Arms Control, Nuclear Nonproliferation, Security Assistance and Sales, Mideast Peace Process, Human Rights, International Law, Terrorism, State Department 12:16 P.M. (ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED) MS. TUTWILER: I don't have any statements or announcements. I'll be happy to try and answer any questions you may have. Q Has any decision been made about the Israeli loan guarantees? What is the latest development? MS. TUTWILER: No. As you know, the Administration, I believe we have said, has had internal discussions. We, obviously, have been internally developing our thinking. But at this point, I would characterize it as preliminary. And, as you know, the Israeli Ambassador has requested to see the Secretary this afternoon. I'm assuming -- I don't know for a fact -- that it will be to discuss this subject. So that, in itself, reinforces that it would be foolish for us to take a decision, not having had the benefit -- if that indeed is what he is coming to discuss -- of their thinking along these lines. Q What time is he coming here? MS. TUTWILER: 3:45 p.m. Q Can you give us a readout of Under Secretary Bartholomew's trip? MS. TUTWILER: One that you won't be satisfied with. But the reason I think is valid. The Secretary of State did not finish here last night until after 9:00 p.m. Reggie and his team came back, I believe it was late yesterday afternoon. The Secretary had an opportunity to briefly have a quick de-brief on the phone last night. He began this morning at 7:00 a.m. at the White House -- the Secretary -- and has just been going all day. I spoke to Reggie briefly this morning myself. He characterized it to me as his mission was very useful; that good work was gone, very in-depth work in all of the areas you're familiar with in all four capitals. But I want to indulge -- if you'll indulge me and let him do his thorough de-briefing, which is not scheduled until later today with the Secretary of State, prior to my publicly stating any conclusions or specifics concerning his mission. I would tell you that I asked your question, which I believe you're going to ask me, "What are our next steps?" The most logical one, as you know, the Secretary is leaving Sunday. While in Russia, he will meet with the Defense Minister of the CIS. One part of Reggie's team -- nuclear weapons specialists -- stayed in Moscow when Reggie and the team went to the other three capitals. They are still in Moscow doing detailed, in-depth work. He believes that they will be returning this weekend. So that, too, will be part of the brief the Secretary will have before we leave on Sunday. One more part. Reggie has, and his team have, some preliminary thinking about possible proposals that they would recommend to the Secretary and Secretary Cheney and others, but there are no firm decisions on that. So it's just early for me today. Q These nuclear specialists that stayed in Moscow, can you be more specific about what they're looking at? Are they working on the U.S. initiative to try to dismantle and destroy some of the nuclear -- or all the nuclear weapons? MS. TUTWILER: I don't know. I know that they went over with Reggie; that they have a special expertise. I just don't know the gentlemen's names, and I apologize this morning. I just didn't get into it at that depth. The only thing he told me is that they left them in Moscow to continue their work, and he thinks they're coming back this weekend. But I do know that, in a preliminary paper that I have tried to briefly read this morning before the briefing, they were very thorough discussions, very detailed discussions in all four capitals. The overall characterization from Reggie is that it was a very good mission. Q Did you get any sense at all about how fast the United States could move on that $400 million that Congress appropriated to dismantle? MS. TUTWILER: How fast we could move? Q Yes. You might be ready to begin -- next week, next month? MS. TUTWILER: Well, that will get into what specific proposals that they're going to be. One, I know, they have proposals they have in mind to recommend to the senior levels of our Government. Which ones, indeed, will be adopted, I don't know. I don't know the dollar figures associated with some of the proposals that I've seen. So I don't have an answer to that, to be honest with you. I don't know yet. There's no reluctance once a decision is made on these various proposals that are being discussed now in the principal buildings -- at the Pentagon, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, here. There's no reluctance on moving. They just have to make these decisions. Q Yesterday, Baker alluded to the "brain gain," or the day before in his speech. MS. TUTWILER: Right. Q The "brain gain." In other words, trying to figure out a way to keep Soviet nuclear scientists and technicians employed. Genscher was also obviously interested in that kind of proposal. Supposedly, at an interagency level within our Government, there are proposals now to try to hire as many as 1,000 or 2,000 Soviet scientists in various ways; some to be in the U.S. apparently, some to be employed over there. Are you aware of that? Can you flesh that out at all in terms of where the thinking is? MS. TUTWILER: This will probably be as forthcoming as my response to Carol. Number one, I'm aware of the Los Angeles Times story this morning. We cannot find the proposal -- the Los Angeles Times, which I have not read yet but I've been told about, says specifically 2,000 nuclear scientists. If there's a proposal in here specifically saying that, we couldn't find it this morning. Having said that, you all know that the Secretary of State addressed this in his December speech at Princeton. This is something that the Secretary, Director Gates, and others have frequently emphasized. We are fully aware of the problem. We take it very seriously, and we are examining what would be the appropriate steps that we should take to deal with it. We are actively looking at a number of proposals to deal with our concerns. We are considering the broader context of controlling the spread of weapons of mass destruction and their technology. There is nothing specific that I can tell you concerning the proposals today, but it is something that I asked Reggie this morning, "Is this one of the things that he discussed in his latest trip and his mission?" He said, "Yes, that it was something that was on the agenda that they discussed." Q The idea of hiring or the U.S. paying for nuclear scientists? MS. TUTWILER: Not a specific idea. Our concern, which is, to be honest, the Secretary raised when he was in these four capitals in December. Q So it has not moved into the specifics as far as you know although there are proposals floating in the Government? MS. TUTWILER: There are definitely proposals that are floating, that are being generated. There is a lot of serious thinking going on on this subject. But that there is an interagency single proposal or competing proposals or one that has been forwarded to the White House for approval, we're not at that point yet. Q On a related question. Was there any discussion in Moscow, when Bartholomew was there, of Russia's intention to sell submarines and planes to Iran? And is this a question that would be raised by the Secretary in Moscow, too? MS. TUTWILER: I can't imagine -- I did not ask Reggie that specific question -- that that subject did not come up since it came up in Secretary Baker's December trip. It is a subject, as you know, we are also very concerned about. Reggie's mission discussed every aspect that you can think of concerning all of the concerns in this area that we all have. But specifically submarines, I can't tell you whether he specifically said "submarines." But our concern, as you know -- we've expressed it many times publicly -- about the potential, possible sale of things to Iran and to other places. So far, to date, there is no validation that we have, or our own independent proof, of any of the sales of things that have been speculated and rumored about in the press that we've seen from time to time. Q Just one further fact. There are reports from various republic press -- Governments have [inaudible] it, too -- that some 700 Iranian sailors are being trained by the former Soviet military. MS. TUTWILER: It's the first time I've heard of that specific report. I'll be happy, as we have with all the others, to take it and have them look at it. Q Margaret, can you tell us anything about the sale of F-15s to Saudi Arabia? MS. TUTWILER: I can tell you for starters that there is no formal Saudi Arabian Government request here for the sale of F-15s. I'm aware of the story that was in one of our newspapers this morning. Having said that, it is no secret that we have had a long-standing security relationship with Saudi Arabia. Since the end of the Gulf war, we have been consulting closely with the Saudis and other Gulf Arab states with the aim of maintaining stability in the region and helping them, where we can, to meet their legitimate security needs. We are still in the discussion stage on many aspects of our security partnership with Saudi Arabia, including possible arms sales. Q So therefore the Secretary is unlikely to approve a sale today? MS. TUTWILER: We can't approve a sale if a request doesn't exist. Q On another subject. The United Nations is making it known that it is, to put it mildly, disgruntled at not having been invited to the multilaterals in Moscow. What's the thinking behind that? MS. TUTWILER: I believe that the United Nations is invited, as it was to Madrid, as an observer. Q Margaret, can you run down who else is invited, who's going to be there? Have you heard from the Palestinians? Will there be a north African representative? MS. TUTWILER: There is no formal Palestinian decision that I'm aware of as of this morning. I checked both with Ambassador Ross and Ambassador Djerejian. As we did not prior to the conference we just hosted here on humanitarian assistance, I'm not today going to be in a position to release for you the names of those countries that have all formally accepted. We'll do that there in Moscow when we get to the conference. Q Margaret, could you give us more details of the meeting this afternoon? For instance, what time is it? Is it 3:45? Is he meeting with Congressional leaders, and are you likely to discuss the possibility of the approval of the sale of the F-15s even though there has been no formal request? MS. TUTWILER: Your third question is an obvious speculative, hypothetical, you know that I'm not going to answer. Two, I answered earlier -- I recognize you came in late -- that the meeting with Ambassador Shoval is at 3:45. What's your first question? Q Are they meeting with Congressional leaders, too? Can you give us a little -- MS. TUTWILER: I can't speak for the Ambassador of Israel. You would have to check with his office. The Secretary of State has had meetings with the leadership, individual meetings with the Foreign Operations Subcommittees of the Appropriations Committees. He will continue those meetings. It's no different than any other occasion when the Secretary stays in close consultation with the Congressional leadership and with the Hill. Q Margaret, can I ask on this also, can you tell us if the decision about the loan guarantees -- although you say it hasn't been taken yet -- would be affected by acts or statements that are coming out of Israel, because there are reports that the Secretary and the President are pretty annoyed with what they are reading from Israel. Can you give us any sense on that? MS. TUTWILER: I'm not exactly sure how it is that your question is really coming at me, to be honest with you. I mean, the President and the Secretary of State will make their decision when they determine they will make decision. You know the United States has a longstanding, and this Administration's, support for absorption. You know that in September this Administration, in conjunction with the Congress, said that concerning the loan guarantees, that, yes, we would have to work out terms and conditions. We have never in any specificity said what those terms and conditions would be. Right now, which is when we said we would turn to this, soon -- the Congress is not even back -- there is an exchange of ideas that is going on, and I have expressed for the Administration as of today that the only thinking that we have is preliminary thinking. And that the Secretary of State this afternoon was requested -- the Israeli Ambassador requested to see him, and the Secretary, of course, would, as he always does, and he will be, as has been described, in a listening mode. Q Margaret, can you tell when the four-month delay will expire exactly? MS. TUTWILER: No. Because we never -- we said it was approximately 120 days. We've said, since we returned, that obviously Congress had to be back in session. I believe that is next week. But we've never put a time on the 120 days. Q So there is no time limit for the -- MS. TUTWILER: Yes. There's 120 days, but we never pin down it starts on September 4, September 7 or September 11, so that you could count up. It just didn't kind of work that way. Q Margaret, on what I asked you, are you in a position to tell us how the Secretary feels about statements from the Israeli Prime Minister, because there are reports, as you must be aware, that he is not very happy and annoyed. Is it something that you want to talk to us? MS. TUTWILER: I haven't seen any reports that say that the Secretary is unhappy and annoyed. Q Margaret, do you expect the Secretary to come downstairs, by any chance, afterwards with the Israeli Ambassador? I know that's not usual, but -- MS. TUTWILER: That's not how we routinely handle meetings with Ambassadors, so I would not envision that he would. Q New area? MS. TUTWILER: Yes. Q No. One more question: Yesterday, CIS conference has prepared both short and long-range aid program to CIS, and what level of the living standard or economic standard of the CIS should be or could be levered up by the aid in order to see the CIS countries unharmful to the world peace? I mean, to the level of the United States or China or Korea? MS. TUTWILER: The purpose -- I've never heard anyone, sir, say that there's a certain standard that's being sought right now. What we're seeking is to help the elderly, the people who are ill, young people. This is a humanitarian effort -- an emergency humanitarian effort. That is what the conference addressed itself to. It was the purpose of the conference. It's what the follow-on work will be addressing itself to. In the long term, a generic statement, we would obviously hope that peoples around the world -- not only in the new 12 Independent States would have a higher standard of living. If you're talking material things, there would be no bread lines, they would have milk for their children. Obviously, that would be our wish for all people. Q Margaret, do you have anything on amnesty in El Salvador? MS. TUTWILER: Amnesty in El Salvador? A little bit. My understanding is that this amnesty was foreseen in the peace accords signed last December 31. Its unanimous passage in the National Assembly late last night is another step on the road to peace in El Salvador. We note that the amnesty does not extend to those convicted by civilian tribunals, such as the killers of the Jesuits; those who committed crimes after December 31, 1991; and other unspecific cases to be determined by an independent commission. Q Margaret, do you have anything on Cuba today, particularly with reference to the U.S. position on preventing exiles from launching attacks on Cuba? MS. TUTWILER: We condemn any efforts to use the territory of the United States to prepare or promote violence in Cuba. The Neutrality Act is the law of the land with regard to Cuba or any other country. It expressly forbids any individual from participation in any military or naval expedition or enterprise to be carried out against a foreign nation from U.S. territory. Those who violate this or other statutes will be vigorously pursued and duly prosecuted. Q Have any been prosecuted? MS. TUTWILER: Recently or in the history? Q Well -- MS. TUTWILER: I don't know, George. I'll have the experts look it up for you. Q Margaret, do you have anything on Eagleburger's meeting with the Bulgarian Foreign Minister today? MS. TUTWILER: No, I don't. I wasn't aware that the Deputy Secretary was. I am aware that any number of Foreign Ministers who were here for the conference have had other meetings here with officials in our Department and throughout the government, so I'm assuming that he just took advantage while he was here to have a meeting. Q Could we get something on that? MS. TUTWILER: I'll ask Larry's office, sure. Q Margaret, Sendero Luminoso says that they shot the helicopter -- MS. TUTWILER: I'm sorry. What? Q Sendero Luminoso in Peru, the guerrilla group -- Q Shining Path. Q Shining Path, excuse me. Thank you. They say that they shot down with surface-to-air missiles this helicopter on which three Americans involved in the anti-drug effort were traveling, and they were killed. Do you have anything on that claim? MS. TUTWILER: We did last week, and I'll be honest with you, in the last three days it's not something I have stayed up to speed on. I'll be happy to see if anything's changed from when we last addressed this. Q Margaret, do you have any reaction on the Israeli and China restoration of diplomatic relations and any thoughts as to whether the U.S. would want to see China become part of the Middle East peace negotiations? MS. TUTWILER: My understanding is that they have said that they are going to be at the multilateral talks. I would refer you to their government. And, yes, we have long said -- it's our public policy -- we would welcome the establishment of relations, and it's my understanding they have done just that. Q Margaret, is the U.S. Government trying to convince Syria to rethink their decision to be absent from the Moscow multilateral talks? MS. TUTWILER: As you're aware, when the Secretary of State made his last trip and visit with President Assad, he said publicly -- and Syria's Foreign Minister stated publicly -- that we have an honest difference of opinion on the importance of multilaterals. To my knowledge, that honest difference has not changed, and it's my understanding that Syria has said they will not be attending. Q Margaret, how disappointed would the United States be if the Palestinians did not come to the multilateral peace conference? MS. TUTWILER: The United States thinks that the multilaterals are very important. We think that they will contribute to peace; that they will contribute to people talking about subjects -- like Palestinian refugees, the environment, arms control, proliferation, water -- that are important to the people in the region. I don't want to pre-empt -- as you know, these discussions are ongoing right now with the Palestinians. We do not have a formal response for them, but we obviously think it's important. But it's not up to us to dictate to them, and they have to make their own decisions. Q But you would still have a conference without the Palestinians? You could still have a conference, couldn't you, or could you not? MS. TUTWILER: I haven't heard anyone express an opinion of cancelling a conference, should such a decision be made. Q Would it be safe to say that the U.S. is strongly urging the Palestinians to attend this conference or -- MS. TUTWILER: Sure. Just as we have strongly, in the form of the Secretary of State, discussed this subject many times with President Assad. In the case of Syria, we acknowledged openly we have an honest difference of opinion concerning the importance and what can be accomplished in these multilaterals. So, of course, we think it's important. But again it's not for us to dictate to any of them whether they do or do not come. Q Margaret, on background -- Q Don't you see an opportunity through the Arab Islamic conference that's held in Marakesh, Morocco-- MS. TUTWILER: What? Q There is a conference now between Arab and Islamic states in Morocco that could somehow put pressure on Syria to attend the Moscow talks. You are not doing anything through such a conference to convince the Syrians to attend? MS. TUTWILER: Number one, I'm not personally aware of that conference. Number two, the Syrians are very well aware of our opinion concerning the multilaterals. The most recent opportunity the Secretary of State had to express this was to the Syrian head of their delegation that was here for the bilateral talks just last week. It's an honest difference of opinion. Q Margaret, a couple questions on Algeria. First of all, do you have any comment on the arrests, including of the interim leader of FIS? MS. TUTWILER: I don't have any additional comments from the ones that were made, I believe, day before yesterday. I'd just refer you to the record. Q And also Algeria has said that it no longer wishes to represent Iran's interests in the United States. Have you been notified of that? MS. TUTWILER: I'm not aware of that. I'll have to look into it. I hadn't heard a thing about it. Q Margaret, the arrest of the Algerian leader actually occurred just yesterday. MS. TUTWILER: And we have a full statement is my understanding that we put out, right? STAFF: (Inaudible) MS. TUTWILER: Right. Q Sorry. What? Q Margaret, going back to the Mideast talks for one second, Baker this afternoon. Exactly one week ago today Ambassador Shoval held a news conference to say that they were marking the anniversary of the Scud attacks and to again say that they would not change their position on Israeli settlements in the Occupied Territories, saying that they would continue to have settlements there, and that he would press that in his talks with Baker today. I think what we're trying to get is the U.S. position. If that is what he's going to say, what would be the U.S. response? MS. TUTWILER: That's a very nice try. You know that I am not going to answer, especially since I have just come out here and said that our thinking -- U.S. thinking is preliminary. We have had internal discussions -- I have acknowledged that -- but our thinking at this stage, the Administration's, is preliminary. And it would be in my opinion foolish to have a decision without ever having had discussions with the Israeli Government. It's my understanding -- and I said earlier please check with their Embassy -- that that is the reason the Ambassador is coming to see the Secretary. So those talks are beginning. Q Thank you. MS. TUTWILER: Thanks, Frank. (The briefing concluded at 12:40 p.m.)