US Department of State Daily Briefing #15: Wednesday, 1/29/92

Snyder Source: State Department Acting Deputy Spokesman Joseph Snyder Description: Washington, DC Date: Jan, 29 19921/29/92 Category: Briefings Region: Eurasia, North America, Caribbean, Southeast Asia, Subsaharan Africa, E/C Europe Country: USSR (former), Vietnam, South Africa, Haiti, Cuba, Macedonia, Serbia-Montenegro, Yugoslavia (former), Philippines, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Netherlands, Portugal, Saudi Arabia, Thailand, United Kingdom, Venezuela Subject: Democratization, State Department, Development/Relief Aid, POW/MIA Issues, Cultural Exchange, Trade/Economics, Immigration, Regional/Civil Unrest, Human Rights 12:34 P.M. (ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED) MR. SNYDER: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. I've got a couple of announcements. One is a housekeeping item. We posted this yesterday, but let me repeat it. At 3:30 today, there will be an On-the-Record briefing on the Fiscal Year 1993 International Affairs Budget here in the Briefing Room. The briefing will be led by Mr. Robert Bauerlein, Director of Policy and Resources in the Office of the Deputy Secretary of State. Mr. Bauerlein will be accompanied by representatives of AID, USIA, DoD, and other State Department offices who were directly involved in the preparation of the 1993 budget. After a short statement, the briefers will take questions. A written summary of the budget request is available in the Press Office now.

[Coordinating Conference on Assistance to the New Independent States: Departure of Delegates/Country Members of Contact Group]

Second statement: Several members of the U.S. Delegation to the Coordinating Conference on Assistance to the New Independent States left Washington last night to travel to Mensk in Byelarus to meet on January 31 with representatives of the New Independent States. The U.S. delegation will be joined for the meeting in Mensk by officials from Canada, the EC Commission, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, The Netherlands, Portugal, Saudi Arabia, Thailand, the United Kingdom and Venezuela who, together, will constitute the Contact Group for Coordinating Conference participants. The purpose of the meeting is for the Contact Group to report on conference proceedings and, in particular, the plans of action discussed in each of the five working groups -- food, medicine, shelter, energy and technical assistance. The Contact Group looks forward to receiving comments from the representatives of the New Independent States and beginning a consultation process on humanitarian assistance. I'll be happy to take your questions. Q On that last item, they will be meeting in Mensk with representatives of all 12 of the republics? MR. SNYDER: Of all of the republics. Yes. Q Joe, this afternoon, there will be high-level contacts for the first time in Washington, I believe, between Vietnam and the U.S. State Department. Can you tell us about the agenda? And can you also tell us how close we may be at normalizing relations? MR. SNYDER: I'd rather not go beyond the statement that we put out yesterday. We'll try to get you a readout after the meeting takes place. Q Joe, is the United States getting ready to offer Fulbright scholarships to Vietnamese citizens? MR. SNYDER: I am not aware of that. I'll be happy to check into it. I have not heard of that.

[Haiti: US Urges Full Restoration of Democracy/Update]

Q Do you have an update on Haiti? MR. SNYDER: Specifically, what? The refugee numbers? Q Refugee numbers and reports of options, including military options to try to resolve the crisis? MR. SNYDER: Our policy is to support strongly OAS sanctions and OAS mediation efforts to restore democratic rule in Haiti. Last weekend's events show that many of those who took power in Haiti are seeking to derail efforts to reach a negotiated solution. Those events only strengthen our view that the full restoration of democracy is the only acceptable solution to Haiti's crisis. Hypothetical questions about other possible options are purely speculative and we won't respond to them. Q The lawyer who is representing the Haitian refugees in Miami is saying that there are maybe about 2,000 refugees in Cuba who have already been cleared to come to the United States but they haven't been brought here. MR. SNYDER: I can give you the numbers of those who have been cleared and those brought here. These numbers are provided to us by the folks down there. To date, 3,279 Haitians have been found to have a plausible claim to asylum, according to the latest information available from INS. Of these, 1,237 have been flown from Guantanamo to the U.S. to pursue their claim to asylum. So you can do the math. Q There apparently are complaints that there are 2,000 there who could be brought here and they're not being brought here quickly enough. MR. SNYDER: They have been brought at fairly regular intervals and in a fairly steady stream since the adjudication process began -- since INS has begun to decide who has a plausible claim. It's being done systematically. I don't really have anything further to add. Q Also on Haiti: Since you briefed the day before yesterday, the numbers, I gather, have been very high. Could you give us an update? MR. SNYDER: Sure, I'd be happy to. Yesterday, 1,178 Haitians were picked up, according to information provided by the Coast Guard. On January 27, there were 1,305. We had figures yesterday, in case anyone asked. We were saying 1,385 but that's been revised. It's now 1,305 for January 27.

[South Africa: US Urges Political Change through Negotiations]

Q Two other parts of the world: Anything on the arrest of the South African white extremists? MR. SNYDER: Yes. We have noted over the last several weeks a number of violent incidents in South Africa. Far right-wing opponents of the peace process are suspected in many of these incidents. The arrests reported stem from clashes with the police last August, although in recent weeks other extremists have been arrested in connection with school and post office bombings. We've repeatedly urged the South African Government to carry out its responsibilities to preserve the peace and ensure the safety of its citizens. We again call on all parties, whatever their political 0000agendas, to commit themselves fully to furthering their aims through the process of negotiated political change. In choosing violence, extremists are out of step with the majority of their countrymen. Q Any statements on the general opening of parliament -- some of the statements made in the South African parliament? MR. SNYDER: No. Q In ASEAN: Do you have anything on the new accords signed by ASEAN on a free-trade zone? MR. SNYDER: Yes. I have a little bit here. The United States warmly welcomes the decision to create an ASEAN free-trade area. We have said on many occasions that we have no objection to the formation of GATT-consistent free-trade areas. In addition, we have strongly supported ASEAN efforts toward increased economic integration and cooperation. Q Joe, do you have something on the United States and Cuba discussing a revision of the Migration Agreement between them? MR. SNYDER: I'm afraid I don't. Q Could you take the question? MR. SNYDER: What is the question? The question is, "Do you have something," and the answer is no. (Laughter) Q O.K. My question is, could you check and see if the United States and Cuba are discussing a revision of the Migration Pact between them, as reported by the Miami Herald? MR. SNYDER: I'll be happy to. Q Back to Haiti for a moment. The Miami Herald and others have been reporting that the level of violence in Haiti -- of soldiers fighting soldiers and civilians being caught in the cross-fire -- has increased in recent days, and that that might be one of the causes for this large exodus that's going on. What is your analysis? MR. SNYDER: In terms of our analysis of why this increase, this was asked the other day, and I asked people to look into it a little bit better. I've got a few more ideas, but they're only suggestions. We really don't have a definitive answer. Possible reasons are it's becoming widely known that Coast Guard cutters lie just offshore, making it safer for people to put to sea. Immediate prospects for a rapid political solution and lifting of the economic embargo have dimmed. The storm season is subsiding, and the weather has been fairly good recently, and the temporary lull over the holiday period is now ended. This upsurge in numbers of Haitians leaving may be a resumption, albeit an increased one, of the earlier flow. In terms of the situation on the ground, we find it mixed. The political crisis is serious, there's no question. Many Haitians have lost their jobs. At the same time, electric service returned to many parts of the country after the recent shipments of fuel. Food is available, although prices are high. Specifically on the security situation, a U.S. Embassy officer who visited southern Haiti and spoke with residents recently -- in the last few days -- was unable to verify any reports of widespread violence since the early days of the coup. We're watching the situation closely through our Embassy, and we remain in close touch with voluntary agencies throughout Haiti. Q Does the State Department have a reaction to Boris Yeltsin's nuclear cuts? I know the White House has said something, but do you have a separate statement? MR. SNYDER: The Secretary is meeting with Yeltsin today, so if there's a reaction, it's going to come from Moscow. Q Back on Haiti: You said that the U.S. Embassy officer visited southern Haiti and he was unable to verify that widespread violence had taken place since the early days of the coup. Are you talking nationwide? Are you talking about -- MR. SNYDER: That was an example of the way we're watching the situation. That trip was confined to a certain part of the country, but our understanding is that the security situation throughout the country is similar to that, and we're continuing to watch it closely -- both through our own observations and by staying in touch with organizations that are throughout the country. Q So, in other words, when you say there's no widespread violence, you're talking about the entire country and not just one particular area? MR. SNYDER: Right. Q About Deputy Secretary Eagleburger's meeting with the Serbian member of the Yugoslav Presidency: Did they discuss the matter of recognition of the republics? MR. SNYDER: Let's see. I think we had a readout of that. I don't have it here. Q Yes. But it doesn't say anything about that. MR. SNYDER: Our position on recognition hasn't changed. I don't know whether the subject came up. I don't know the answer to that. I can check. Q Did the U.S. require or ask for or receive any information about the attitude of local Serbian leaders in Croatia toward accepting the U.N. plan? MR. SNYDER: In that meeting specifically? Q Yes. MR. SNYDER: I don't know. I'll check into that. Q Can you check? MR. SNYDER: Yes. Q Do you have any comment about the news report this morning on the arrest of Imelda Marcos in Philippines? MR. SNYDER: No, I'm sorry, I don't. I don't have anything on that. Would you like to get a reaction from us? Q Yes. MR. SNYDER: It's an internal matter within the Philippine Government. I doubt if we're going to have a specific reaction. Q Do you ever -- have you ever prepared any general comment concerning the Philippine presidential election? For example, what do you think about the incumbent President Aquino nominating her choice of a successor to be elected as president? Is it the democratic way? MR. SNYDER: The election system in the Philippines is certainly a democratic system, and I think we will just leave it to the people of the Philippines to work out who their next president is going to be, without any specific comment on individual candidates. Q Thank you. (The briefing concluded at 12:46 p.m.)