US Department of State Daily Briefing #14: Monday, 1/27/92

Snyder Source: State Department Acting Deputy Spokesman Joseph Snyder Description: Washington, DC Date: Jan, 27 19921/27/92 Category: Briefings Region: Caribbean, MidEast/North Africa, Eurasia, E/C Europe, Subsaharan Africa Country: Haiti, Israel, USSR (former), Russia, Yugoslavia (former), Zaire Subject: Regional/Civil Unrest, Mideast Peace Process, Arms Control, Trade/Economics, Democratization, Development/Relief Aid 12:52 P. M. (ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED) MR. SNYDER: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. I apologize for the delay. I've got a couple of things. First, a housekeeping item. This is for the interest mainly of the trade press, but I wanted to let you know. Ambassador Jan Baran, Chairman of the U.S. Delegation to the World Administrative Radio Conference in Malaga-Torremolinos, Spain, will discuss U.S. proposals and priorities at this conference at 2:30 p.m. today at a briefing here in the Briefing Room.

[Haiti: US Condemns Attack on Rene Theodore Meeting]

US The second statement is on Haiti. We strongly condemn the attack carried out last Saturday against the man duly nominated to be Haiti's next Prime Minister, Rene Theodore, by groups tied to the current regime in Haiti. Those who have taken power in Haiti have claimed that they support a return to democratic rule. However, Saturday's brutal attack on a peaceful political meeting does nothing but impede the restoration of constitutional rule. The regime should know that restoring democracy is the only way to end Haiti's political and economic isolation. In response to this event, we will recall our Ambassador to Washington to discuss its implications for U.S. policy. We call on the Haitian army and the de facto government to bring to justice those who are responsible for this crime. I'll be happy to take your questions. Q Who's the Ambassador? MR. SNYDER: Alvin Adams. Q Albert? MR. SNYDER: Alvin. Q Do you have an update on Haitian refugees? MR. SNYDER: Yes, I do. Let me first use our usual caution. These are approximate figures. They don't sound approximate, but they are figures that we have obtained from the Coast Guard. 2,405 Haitians have been picked up since we last provided you with numbers last Tuesday. According to information provided by the Coast Guard, 79 were picked up on January 21, 281 on January 22, 1,072 on January 23, 680 on January 24, none on January 25, and 293 yesterday. The total number of Haitian boat people picked up since the coup now stands at 11,507. 321 Haitians have been flown from Guantanamo to the U.S. during this recent period: 172 on January 22 and 149 on January 24. This brings the total of Haitians who have come to the United States to pursue their claim to asylum to 1,235. To date, 3,194 Haitians have been found to have a plausible claim to asylum. I think I'll run through all the categories, because it's been a long time since we've done them all. 594 Haitians have returned voluntarily to Haiti: 177 from third-country safehavens and 417 from Guantanamo. The status of those remaining is as follows: There are 8,119 Haitians ashore at the U.S. Naval facility at Guantanamo Bay. This number includes those who have been screened-in and who are awaiting transportation to the U.S. 846 Haitians are on board Coast Guard cutters. 27 Haitians remain in temporary safehaven facilities in Venezuela. 146 remain in temporary safehaven facilities in Honduras. Two have been medically evacuated to the United States, and 538 were repatriated to Haiti in November under the Alien Migration Interdiction Operation. Q And where does the effort to repatriate the Haitians stand now? MR. SNYDER: The court case is still pending. We're waiting for the court ruling. In the meantime, a ban on involuntary repatriation remains in effect, and we're complying with the ban. Q The number is -- you say more 3,000 have been found to have a plausible case, out of eleven and a half thousand, roughly. So that's pretty dramatic. That means that approximately one-fourth, if I'm correct, of the Haitians are now believed to have a good case for political asylum. That is a dramatic shift from the earlier days when only a fraction of Haitian refugees were found to have the same case. Is there a shift in policy, or are you saying that more political refugees, bona fide political refugees, appear to have arrived in the United States? MR. SNYDER: Frank, those decisions, the case-by-case determinations, are made by the Immigration Service, and I would refer you to INS for discussion of why the changes. Q What's the point of recalling Ambassador Adams to Washington? MR. SNYDER: We are recalling him in light of this recent incident to discuss its implications for our policy. Q And is it meant as a first step that could be followed by others? MR. SNYDER: It's meant exactly as we've said. We're going to look at what the situation is in light of the most recent developments. Q It doesn't represent a break in relations, though? MR. SNYDER: Not at all. No. Q To what do you attribute this very large number of Haitians picked up in the last week after a long lull? MR. SNYDER: That is something we've asked ourselves. We've asked other people and, quite frankly, we don't have any answers. It's varied widely since the coup in Haiti early in the fall. The people coming out have come in waves -- large numbers at some times, none for long periods, and there's no definitive explanation. Possibly weather; possibly announcements that we've made, but no one really wants to pin it down. Q I would like to request that Ambassador Adams make himself available for a backgrounder? MR. SNYDER: I'll take that request under advisement. Q Joe, the Israeli press is quoting Israeli sources that the Secretary of State asked for a freeze on settlements during his meeting Friday afternoon with Ambassador Shoval. Is that true? MR. SNYDER: Jim, the Secretary is in Moscow now, as you know. I've really got nothing to say here on that subject. Q Joe, there was a report over the weekend that the United States may be backing off on the ABM Treaty and that, in fact, that is one treaty that the republics have not been asked to reaffirm their commitment to. Is this accurate? MR. SNYDER: Carol, I've seen the reports. I should point out that Marlin Fitzwater dealt extensively with this subject this morning at the White House, and I don't have anything to add to what he said. Q More generally, do you have any further readout from Reggie Bartholomew's trip of last week? What we're going to do about the questions of dismantlement and former Soviet nuclear scientists? MR. SNYDER: No, we don't. As you know, he hadn't briefed the Secretary by Friday, so Margaret [Tutwiler] really was unable to go into any detail. He is back on the plane with the Secretary. Q Margaret was asked last week whether, in fact, Bartholomew had discussed this concept of employing some former Soviet scientists, and she said at first yes and then when it was clarified she said she didn't know whether that sort of proposal had been actually discussed with them. Do you know now whether it has been? MR. SNYDER: No, I'm sorry I don't. I'll see if we can get something on that for you. Q Joe, the Acting Secretary of State is meeting with the Serbian representative today, I believe -- this afternoon. I was wondering whether you have concluded reassessing your position vis-a-vis a recognition towards Slovenia and Croatia? And, if so, whether you intend to tell the Serbian diplomat that the United States is about to recognize those two independent republics? MR. SNYDER: Frank, no, we haven't made any decisions. As Richard said on January 16, we keep this kind of issue under review always in situations like that, and we remain at that point now. There's no change in our recognition policy. Q Does the declared independence of Bosnia make any difference to that review -- or any change in the U.S. view? MR. SNYDER: Of course, the entire situation in Yugoslavia has an impact on our consideration and Bosnia is one of the republics. The review continues. Q Joe, are there any lists of people attending the Moscow conference from the experts level? Could you give us a list of those? Djerejian, for example, did he go? MR. SNYDER: He was with the Secretary's party, yes. But the question of lists for the conference, or anything dealing with the conference, will come from Moscow -- from the party in Moscow. I've got nothing here. Q Joe, this may have been dealt with by Baker or his aides in Moscow, I'm not sure, but there appears to be a mystery surrounding the whereabouts of Boris Yeltsin. Some of his aides say that he is out of Moscow and has cancelled a meeting with the Japanese Foreign Minister. Other aides say that he is in Moscow. Have you been informed officially whether Yeltsin is keeping his appointment at 11:00 a.m., I believe, at the Kremlin with Baker on Wednesday? MR. SNYDER: I have not heard anything to say that he's not. I must say I hadn't asked the party specifically. I haven't asked that question and no one has mentioned that he's not. I should say that Marlin Fitzwater also dealt with Yeltsin's trip to the United States extensively as well. Q On another area: Do you know what's going on in Zaire, and do take any views about it? MR. SNYDER: Yes, Jim, I've got something on that. We are following developments particularly closely in Zaire. Our policy has been under continuing review for some time with a view towards encouraging all parties to move toward peaceful national reconciliation. We urge President Mobutu and Prime Minister Nguz to reconvene the National Conference without delay. Its immediate reconvocation offers the best prospect for a democratic transition in Zaire. Q Am I correct in recalling that the U.S. aid program has been cut off because of the Brooke Amendment provisions, or something like that? MR. SNYDER: Yes, I believe so. I don't have the details of the aid program, but I understand that's the case. As I recall, that's the case. Q So there is no aid either forthcoming or in the pipeline? MR. SNYDER: Let me get something for you on that. I don't have the details in my head. Q Thank you. (Press briefing concluded at 1:05 p.m.)