US Department of State Daily Briefing #17: Friday, 1/31/92

Snyder Source: State Department Acting Deputy Spokesman Joseph Snyder Description: Washington, DC Date: Jan, 31 19921/31/92 Category: Briefings Region: Caribbean, North America, East Asia, Europe, MidEast/North Africa Country: Haiti, United States, China, Algeria Subject: Human Rights, State Department, Immigration, International Law, Arms Control, Regional/Civil Unrest 1:00 P.M. (ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED) MR. SNYDER: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. I apologize for the late hour. I'd be happy to take your questions. I've got no announcements.

[Haiti: US Court Lifts Legal Bar to Repatriation]

Q The Federal court in Atlanta has ruled that the Government has the right to return many of the Haitian refugees. I wanted to ask you, Joe, if the Coast Guard has received any instructions to begin those deportations, and what's the status? MR. SNYDER: We've just heard that court order. I think it was in the last hour or hour and a half. I would refer you to the Justice Department for further details. All I can say right now is that it has always been our position that we would resume repatriating Haitians under the Alien Migration Interdiction Operation when we're legally able to do so. But I really don't have anything operational on the results of the court order. Q The Coast Guard says it hasn't received any orders yet, about an hour ago. MR. SNYDER: That's where the information on Coast Guard orders will come from. Q Do you have to wait for the appeal process to be gone through? MR. SNYDER: It's just too early. It looks as if there may be another appeal. It's really just too early for me to comment on what's going to happen operationally as a result of the court order. It just happened.

[Department: Release of Human Rights Report]

Q This afternoon the Human Rights Report is coming out, and I understand you were asked some of these questions yesterday but I'm going to ask them again today. Why is it that the Human Rights Report is coming out late in the day, on Monday (sic), when from various sources in this building it appears that it could have been brought out earlier in this day? Does it have anything to do with President Bush's meeting with Li Peng, for example? MR. SNYDER: I don't know who your sources are, but I can tell you it wasn't ready to be put out because it literally was not finalized. I got word just before I came in that the report is ready and will be ready for distribution as we announced. Q So you deny that there was any political motive on the part of the State Department in putting the report out late in the day, past when it would be very useful with the Bush/Li Peng meeting? MR. SNYDER: Yes, I do. The report was put out when it was put out because that's when it was ready -- or will be put out. It hasn't been put out yet. Q The arrangements are as you stated yesterday? MR. SNYDER: As in the announcement we posted yesterday. Yes. Q Jack mentioned China. There's a story today that the Chinese may in fact not be living up to the agreement that they made with Secretary Baker in Beijing last November. Does this alter in any way what you had said yesterday about going ahead with finalizing the agreement to lift the sanctions? MR. SNYDER: I've got nothing to add to what I said yesterday. I said we are continuing our discussions with the Chinese on this subject. Q But you also give us -- or gave me, anyway, the impression that it was just a matter of formalizing and finalizing the papers; that you were operating on the assumption that the Chinese were carrying through on the commitments that they made in November. MR. SNYDER: I've got nothing more to say on it than what I said yesterday. We are discussing this issue -- the President will be discussing this issue, as well as many others, today, and I've got nothing more to say. Q Do you have a comment on the move by the French Government to arrest George Habash while he is in the hospital in France recovering from a stroke? MR. SNYDER: As yesterday, John, when I was asked about the hospitalization of Habash in France, we have no comment. France's activities are their own concern. Q Normally when a terrorist or someone who is accused of being involved in terrorist activities lands in a various country, we have quite a bit to say about wanting countries to detain them, and so on and so forth, and you still stick by that? MR. SNYDER: In the case of George Habash, yes. Q In the case of France, more than George Habash. MR. SNYDER: George Habash. Q Would we seek his -- Q One of the things that you were trying to do yesterday was find out whether or not the United States had any outstanding warrants against him? MR. SNYDER: Yes. We did check. Basically, that's a Justice Department matter. We were informed that we do not have any. Q Joe, in Algeria there are reports that security forces have fired on crowds leaving worship services at mosques, and I believe this may not be the first time; and, in addition, they've been blockading mosques. Any comment on that situation? MR. SNYDER: Specifically today, no. We have certainly expressed our concern about the violence in Algeria and our hope that the democratic process can be put back on track there, but I've got nothing specific. I had not seen reports of something today. Q Because there are no outstanding warrants on George Habash, does that mean the U.S. Government, for whatever reasons, has no intention of trying to go for his extradition for any reason? MR. SNYDER: I certainly am not aware of any intention to go for his extradition. Q Would the United States agree in case called for by the Palestinians to give him medical help? MR. SNYDER: I'm sorry. Would we agree to give medical help if we were asked to do so? Q Yes. MR. SNYDER: That's a hypothetical question. I really would rather not answer it. Q In principle? MR. SNYDER: It's hypothetical. Q Thank you. (The briefing concluded at 1:07 p.m.)