US Department of State Daily Briefing #30: Thursday, 2/27/92

Boucher Source: State Department Deputy Spokesman Richard Boucher Description: Washington, DC Date: Feb, 27 19922/27/92 Category: Briefings Region: Southeast Asia, Caribbean, MidEast/North Africa, Europe, East Asia, Eurasia Country: Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Indonesia, Cuba, Australia, Iraq, Libya, Haiti, Greece, Turkey, China, Russia Subject: CSCE, Arms Control, POW/MIA Issues, Development/Relief Aid, State Department, Human Rights, Nuclear Nonproliferation, Terrorism, Mideast Peace Process 1:20 P.M. (ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED)

[Vietnam: Secretary Solomon's to Visit/Normalization Issues/ Plans to Stop in Cambodia and Laos]

MR. BOUCHER: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. I am very sorry that I've kept you waiting. I have an announcement of a trip by Assistant Secretary Solomon to Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia. As agreed during the late January trip to Hanoi by General John Vessey, the President's Special Emissary to Hanoi for POW/MIA Affairs, the U.S. and Vietnam have agreed to hold discussions on humanitarian issues in Hanoi on March 3-5, 1992. The discussions will focus on ways the two countries might best cooperate to address their respective humanitarian concerns. These discussions have occurred periodically since 1987. The U.S. side will be led by Assistant Secretary for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Richard Solomon. Mr. Solomon's delegation will include Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for POW/MIA Affairs Alan Ptak, Deputy Assistant Administrator of AID George Laudato, and others who work on these issues. During this trip Mr. Solomon will also visit Laos, where he will discuss the full range of U.S.-Lao relations, and he will visit Cambodia where he will be meet with officials of the Supreme National Council and the U.N. Advance Mission and assess progress in implementation of the comprehensive settlement agreed last October. With that announcement, I'd be glad to take your questions. Q Is Mr. Solomon's visit to Vietnam the highest -- is he the highest ranking American official since the end of the war? MR. BOUCHER: No, he's not. In fact, there was a -- when Paul Wolfowitz was Assistant Secretary of State in the same position, he visited Hanoi in January of 1986. He met with Foreign Minister Thach to discuss POW/MIA issues. These discussions come as part of a series of discussions we've had periodically since 1987 to assess progress on the Vessey initiative and work on ways to improve the effectiveness of our non-governmental organizational assistance. For those meetings, during the first two years since '87 there were five meetings, then the pace slowed somewhat. There was one meeting every 9 to 12 months. The last two meetings took place in May 1990 and January 1991. And there was the Vessey trip that I referred to. At previous meetings, the U.S. delegation was headed by a working level official -- the Deputy Director of the Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia office. The decision to have Mr. Solomon head the delegation this year is an indication of the increased importance with which we view this initiative as well as the concern we have with efforts to address the POW/MIA issue. Q Richard, a follow-up on that. The AID official going -- I may just not remember, but I don't think that the U.S. has sent any AID officials to Hanoi before. Can you comment on that? And if not, what's the purpose of having an AID official going? MR. BOUCHER: I don't know if we have sent AID officials before. I assume we have because in reviewing the history of this, we have the visits by General Vessey, the agreement in 1987 -- in August of '87 -- that Vietnam and the United States would address each other's humanitarian concerns. Vietnam agreed to cooperate with the U.S. on POW/MIA accounting and various aspects at that time of the Orderly Departure Program. The United States agreed to encourage American non-governmental organizations to donate humanitarian assistance to Vietnam, particularly in the areas of prosthetics and child survival. In 1991, we took a further step by announcing the provision of $1.3 million in AID funds for prosthetics projects in Vietnam. And then in January '92, General Vessey announced in Hanoi that the U.S. would provide the first-ever disaster relief assistance by donating $25,000 for damages to Quang Ngai Province last December. So there is some aid that has gone. The two parts of this Vessey initiative are Vietnam's cooperation with us on the humanitarian concern we have about POW/MIAs and then our assistance to them on some of their humanitarian concerns. Q Will this mission be -- will the AID portion of this mission similarly be limited to that type of assistance, or will there be discussions of economic assistance or broader types of humanitarian assistance? MR. BOUCHER: It will be limited to the present stage. Q Is U.S. humanitarian aid linked in any way to Vietnamese cooperation on accounting for POW/MIAs? MR. BOUCHER: I don't think I can express it in terms of U.S. humanitarian aid. The question of the economic relationships is part of the roadmap process, a process that we adhere to, a process in which we're still in Phase I. We've always said that the pace and scope of that process would depend on their cooperation on POW/MIA affairs. Q Right. But I'm asking you specifically about the question of humanitarian aid, which you said is the primary reason for their visit. MR. BOUCHER: The focus on humanitarian issues means that Mr. Solomon will review with them the developments that have taken place in POW/MIA accounting. We will emphasize once again the Vietnamese cooperation on POW/MIA work. That, as we've said, is essential to the pace and scope of the normalization process. They will also discuss the question of the assistance for Vietnam's humanitarian concerns and the assistance that we provided in areas of prosthetics and this whole disaster relief and questions of non-governmental organizations being involved. I don't know how to phrase precisely what the linkage is between these two parts of the Vessey initiative. Q Could you look into that? MR. BOUCHER: I'll see if I can be more precise on that. Q Last January, you had quite a high-ranking official political talk between Mr. Kanter and the Vietnamese Ambassador to the United Nations in this building concerning opening diplomatic relations between the U.S. and the Vietnamese Government. So Solomon's visit can be regarded as a following procedure concerning the political talks? MR. BOUCHER: It's all wrapped up together. This specific visit by Solomon was forecast, if you look back at the statement that was made by General Vessey at the end of his trip, the end of January. I think the statement came out February 1. A trip like this was forecast then. It was agreed at that point that there would be such a trip, so that's the specific context for Solomon's visit. In general terms, the issues of the roadmap and how we proceed in our relationship with Vietnam are linked to the pace and scope of cooperation on POW/MIA issues; and what General Vessey has been working on, what is part of this trip by Assistant Secretary Solomon, is POW/MIA issues as well as Vietnam's humanitarian concerns. Q So you mean Mr. Solomon can evaluate the proceeding of the (inaudible) cooperation in the humanitarian sectors to the fact that you can positively consider to open the political relations between the two countries? MR. BOUCHER: No, we're not at that phase yet. We're still in what we call Phase I of the roadmap. When we reach Phase II, we would expect to make an announcement to that effect. Phase II would begin when we're satisfied that all the necessary steps described in Phase I of the roadmap have been completed. And, as we said before, the pace of this process depends on the actions of both the U.S. and Vietnam. Q Can you spell out what you're waiting for to pass into, to move ahead into Step 2? MR. BOUCHER: We have, we believe, taken action on all the steps that we promised in Phase I of the roadmap. However, we're not satisfied with the Vietnamese response so far, particularly on the issue of POW/MIA accounting; and Mr. Solomon will review those concerns with the Vietnamese Government. Q If you had to draw a thermometer or something, or a gauge -- a gas gauge -- of how close the U.S. and Vietnam are to going into the next step, would you say that this visit represents a point very close to moving into the next step? Or are the dissatisfactions you just spoke of large enough to make it unsure how soon or how long it will be before the second phase can go into effect? MR. BOUCHER: I wouldn't predict the second phase at any particular point, Ralph. We don't draw thermometers. We don't like to take temperatures and that sort of thing. Q Sometimes. MR. BOUCHER: I would say that our goal has always been to achieve the fullest possible accounting for our POW/MIAs. We seek the greatest possible cooperation from the Vietnamese and from the other governments that we're working with to achieve this goal. Now, we've seen some progress, some positive steps. We opened an office in Hanoi to work on this issue last summer. We've sent teams out to investigate live-sighting reports. We've conducted other joint investigations with the Vietnamese. We've been given access to a prison. We've been given access to new information, to new records that we didn't have before. General Vessey went in January to discuss ways of increasing this cooperation. Areas for this would include such things as greater access to the relevant records in the hands of the Vietnamese Government, the ability to travel more freely within the country to investigate POW/MIA reports, accelerated recovery and return of remains, and increased cooperation in existing activities. Q Would you say -- since you said that you always want to achieve the fullest possible accounting -- would it be fair to say the United States does not believe Vietnam has given the United States the fullest possible accounting? MR. BOUCHER: I would say that there is more that can be done in this area, and I would say that we're not satisfied with the Vietnamese response so far, particularly in the area of POW/MIA affairs. Q Richard, what you just spelled out is phase one? MR. BOUCHER: I don't have my roadmap with me, and so I don't know. Q Well, putting aside roadmaps and gas gauges, could you possibly provide us with a fact sheet that tells us what the roadmap is? MR. BOUCHER: I think we have in the past. There was either testimony or a fact sheet on that, and I'm sure we can get it for you quickly. Q That would be great. And the other thing is, could we have a copy of the original statement so we can have the spelling of the names? MR. BOUCHER: Certainly. Q Richard, there's a Congressional investigative committee headed by Senator John Kerry that's also planning a trip to Vietnam on the issue of MIAs and POWs, and theirs has been billed as sort of an on-the-ground search party. Is there any attempt to coordinate this visit with theirs? Are you sharing/pooling information? MR. BOUCHER: I'm not familiar with that trip, but I know that we have been cooperating as closely as possible with the Congressional committees that are interested in this. Q A couple of things: Among the delegation, will there be Anne Mills Griffith, the Executive Director of the National League of Families of Prisoners and Missing in Southeast Asia? MR. BOUCHER: I don't have a final delegation list. Let me leave it at that at the moment. Q Earlier this week, a Cuban official in Geneva said -- Q One follow-up. One last thing. Isn't this part of a wider trip that Mr. Solomon will be making, including Thailand -- MR. BOUCHER: He'll be making a number of stops. He's going to Thailand, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia -- the three that I mentioned -- Hong Kong, Korea and Japan. The final details of the itinerary aren't set at this point. Q Could we stay in the area and can I ask you if you have any response to what's happened in East Timor this morning -- the punishing of the army officers, the trials of the ones that are promised, and those that have been fired? MR. BOUCHER: Yes, I do. The Indonesian Army Chief of Staff announced today that six senior officers will be disciplined, three of them by dismissal from the service, eight other officers and enlisted men will be court-martialed, and five more officers remain under investigation. These steps follow from the preliminary report issued by a national investigative commission on December 26 of last year, and from the report of a military "Council of Honor" which President Soeharto set up to recommend army reforms and punishments. We've been encouraged by the Indonesian Government's serious efforts to make amends for what it acknowledges was an excessive use of force by local military units.

[Cuba: Cooperation with UN Human Rights Commission]

Q Going back to -- if we can go back to Cuba for just a second. MR. BOUCHER: O.K. Q A Cuban official in Geneva is attending the U.N. Human Rights Conference over there. He stated that Havana doesn't feel that it is legally bound by anything that the Human Rights Commission from the U.N. says, so for that reason they won't take any action or cooperate in any way whatsoever. However, if it came from the Security Council of the U.N., they might do a little bit more about it; they may be more cooperative. If that's the case, is the U.S. going to try to bring it up in the Security Council, or are they going to reject that statement or -- MR. BOUCHER: I haven't seen the statement. As you know, for many years the U.N. Human Rights Commission has focused on Cuba. The Cubans have not cooperated with the Human Rights Commission, and we've always felt that they should. I don't know quite what the linkage is between the Commission and the Security Council, but basically our view is that they should cooperate fully with the U.N. Human Rights Commission, and they should change the human rights situation in Cuba. Q Richard, here's one that is partly Asia but is partly out of the blue. Have the U.S. and Australia discussed through diplomatic channels at all cooperation in the investigation on the Virginia lottery "cartel" -- whatever you want to call it? There is a local investigation in Virginia that deals with who has been involved in Australia in purchasing $7 million worth of Virginia lottery tickets. Has there been any diplomatic discussion of that issue? MR. BOUCHER: I have no idea. (Laughter). I will look into that, Ralph. Q What were you doing until 1:30? (Laughter). MR. BOUCHER: Okay, where are we?

[Nuclear Non-Proliferation: IAEA Inspections/Safeguards Agreement]

Q Do you have any comment or something to say concerning the IAEA's decision to reaffirm its right to challenge inspections of the nuclear facilities in the future? MR. BOUCHER: This is a process, a discussion that's been underway in the IAEA for some time. We've discussed it before. Let me, if I can, review for you the situation, and what the Board of Governors has done. The IAEA Safeguards Agreements with countries that are party to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty contain a provision which allows the IAEA to request inspections of facilities which a country has not declared. That is, suspect, clandestine facilities. However, this provision has never been used. The Iraqi inspections are being conducted under the authority of the U.N. Security Council Resolution 687. Yesterday, the IAEA's Board of Governors reaffirmed the IAEA's authority. The leadership of the organization has announced its intention to conduct short-notice special inspections when it has information that a possible violation of the Non-Proliferation Treaty is occurring. The United States strongly welcomes this action and believes it is a major strengthening of the IAEA's inspection regime. The Board also considered other measures to strengthen the barriers to nuclear proliferation, and, with the lessons learned from the Iraqi experience, we expect to emerge with a strengthened nuclear non-proliferation regime. Q Just to clarify that, the Board action and the U.S. endorsement thereof applies not just to Iraq, right? It applies to short-notice inspections in any country which is a participant of the IAEA process. MR. BOUCHER: That's right. The specific inspections that are being done with Iraq are being done under the authority of the Security Council resolution. Other IAEA safeguards agreements contain the provision that short-notice inspections can take place. What we're encouraged by, what we're welcoming, is that the IAEA has focused on this issue, has developed the intention to exercise this, and that would apply to all the countries that are subject. Q And the U.S. endorsement presumably applies to exercising that option in all of the countries, including the United States and other Western nations who are participants of the IAEA. You would welcome a challenge short-notice inspection in the United States, is that correct? MR. BOUCHER: I'm not sure we have any undeclared facilities, frankly, Ralph. That's something I just don't know. You know, at this point, I think it's premature to comment as to whether the IAEA believes it has a situation where it's in possession of information that leads it to believe it requires an inspection of non-declared facilities. Q But that story indicates that there is a problem with this agency and its use of so-called "foreign intelligence," presumably U.S. intelligence. Is that considered to be a major problem at the moment? MR. BOUCHER: Not that I'm aware of. Q In a general sense, what do you think the conditions are by which the challenging inspection can be executed? Some say that any international intelligence can be used to make that kind of a challenging inspection, but many developing countries reject that idea. MR. BOUCHER: Well, the decision is going to be for the IAEA and their inspectors to make when they believe that they have information that a possible violation is occurring. When they believe that they have information that leads them to believe that they're required to do an inspection of non-declared facilities, then they will do it. Q So do you think that the present international intelligence information like CIA Director Gates' allegation that North Korea has some hidden facilities that can be needed to have kind of challenging inspection treaty in North Korea facilities? MR. BOUCHER: The North Koreans have signed but not yet ratified -- Q If that's signed. MR. BOUCHER: -- the full-scope safeguards agreement that is similar to that signed by the other non-nuclear weapons states that are party to the NPT. Under this agreement, like all other NPT parties, it would be subject to the special inspection regime.

[Libya: Terrorist Training Facilities]

Q Richard, can you give us an update at all on Libya's terrorist training camps? What do you have now that's open, closed? What's going on there? MR. BOUCHER: What's going on there? O.K. Libya has engaged in some highly publicized dismantling of five terrorist training facilities that were identified in a U.S. Government fact sheet that we released last autumn. These are merely public relations gestures that fall far short of ending Libya's sponsorship of international terrorism. Libya has taken no action to dismantle other terrorist training sites in Libya -- ones that we haven't identified in our fact sheet -- or to take other steps that are essential to end its longstanding links to international terrorism. We note that the Abu Nidal Organization remains headquartered in Tripoli, and we also note that Libya continues to support many other terrorist groups. Q Why were the other training camps not identified in the fact sheet? Was it because you didn't know about them? Would you like to identify some more in the hope that perhaps they'll dismantle some more? MR. BOUCHER: At this point, Jan, I don't have any others to identify for you. Q Where do we stand on gaining Libyan compliance to these and other issues like the Lockerbie demands? MR. BOUCHER: The U.N. Secretary General's Special Representative is on his way back from Libya. He met there with Libyan officials in connection with the Secretary General's mandate under Security Council Resolution 73l. He had a mandate from the Council to obtain full and immediate Libyan compliance with the terms of U.N. Security Council Resolution 73l. He did not go there to negotiate. The key question remains how, when, and where Libya will comply. We expect the Secretary General to report his conclusions to the Council shortly, at which point the appropriate next steps will be taken. Q What about the training camps, for a minute? Do you have a ballpark figure for how many you think are out there now? MR. BOUCHER: No, I don't. Q So you would say that the reports that say there are at least five other camps -- you wouldn't like to comment on that? At least five other camps. MR. BOUCHER: I don't think I'd say anything about them. (Laughter) Q Can you take a question on Haiti now? Far away. MR. BOUCHER: I'll answer your questions on Haiti. Q Yesterday, the Haitian Ambassador to the United States he expected Aristide to return within two months. I wondered if the United States envisaged any timetable for the return of Aristide. MR. BOUCHER: That question came up yesterday. I guess there's been a procedure agreed that involves the OAS Secretary General to work on the issue of President Aristide's return. As I understand it, there's no timetable at this point. Q Do you have anything on what the United States is prepared to do to help send a civilian force -- an OAS civilian force -- to smooth the transition to democracy? MR. BOUCHER: That was something that was expected, based on the OAS resolutions that have been passed so far. I know we've contributed already; we could easily contribute more. We've urged other countries to contribute. I don't, on the top of my head, have the numbers. I'll get that for you. Q Thank you. Q No -- wait a minute, wait a minute. Sorry. MR. BOUCHER: I'm sorry. Not quite yet. Q Yes. Q If you need to, you can have a filing break if you want. So, filing break. Well, I'll call a "filing break." That way the wires will feel obliged to run out and write everything. (Laughter) We were trying for a record to see how long we could go before we brought up the Middle East, Richard, but it has to be brought up. Do you have anything further to say beyond what you said yesterday about consideration by the Secretary of State of a visit back to the region? MR. BOUCHER: He has no plans for a visit. Q No plans to visit the Middle East? MR. BOUCHER: Not at this point, no. Q O.K. Can you say anything about whether the Administration will invite Jordanian King Hussein to visit Washington in l992? MR. BOUCHER: A visit at that level I think would be handled by the White House, not by me. Q O.K. Do you have any comment on the ongoing negotiations in this building among the Arabs and the Israelis? MR. BOUCHER: There are ongoing negotiations in this building. For our part, Assistant Secretary Djerejian is scheduled to meet with Dr. Majali of the Jordanian delegation today at 2:00 p.m. He has also been in touch with Eli Rubenstein, head of the Israeli delegation, on the talks with the Jordanians and Palestinians. In most of the talks the parties are seriously engaging on issues of substance, even if the gap between their positions remains wide. Q Is the U.S. offering any, what it used to call, "bridging proposals," in some of the cases where substantive discussions are under way? MR. BOUCHER: At this point, Ralph, we're urging the parties to deal with the major substantive issues which are the focal point of these negotiations. At the same time, we continue to urge all the parties to improve the situation on the ground. Q Have all the parties submitted to the State Department a list of acceptable sites? MR. BOUCHER: That was the kind of detail that I declined to go into yesterday, and I'll decline again today. Q Any word on whether or not the talks will go on longer than next Tuesday or Wednesday? MR. BOUCHER: I haven't seen any new statements by the parties on that. Q What do you mean when you say "improve the situation on the ground"? Is that one of the topics on which Djerejian touched bases with Eli Rubenstein? MR. BOUCHER: I can't get into any of these particular conversations because (a) I don't know and (b) I'm not inclined. But we discuss, obviously, the status of the talks and other developments in the region and issues that are of concern to the various parties. Q Well, what needs to be done on the ground that in your view would improve the situation? Is that a reference to settlements or is that a reference to something else? MR. BOUCHER: The various parties have expressed concerns during the negotiations about developments in the area. As you know, we've always urged people to act with restraint and to work out situations that develop in the area and to emphasize the peace process and emphasize the peace talks. I don't think I can be any more specific than that. Q Mr. Kanter is visiting Ankara and Athens. I'd like to ask you: What are the main issues that he will discuss there? MR. BOUCHER: That's something I'll have to look into and get you something on. Q Thank you. Q On the Middle East issue, you were asked yesterday if Djerejian had been in touch what it meant -- if he met with the Israelis or he just talked over the phone -- and you used the same words today. MR. BOUCHER: Oh. I did check today. The "been in touch with Eli Rubenstein" means on the phone. Q Can I ask you about China? The government today announced that four more dissidents have been sentenced for their roles in the l989 pro-democracy movement. Do you have any information or reaction to those sentences? MR. BOUCHER: I don't have any details for you on these sentences today. As the Secretary expressed in his testimony the other day, we've been disappointed with the human rights developments in China. We intend to keep working on those and expressing our views to the Chinese Government. I expressed yesterday disappointment with some of the new sentences that were being handed down and said that we'll continue to urge the Chinese to release all those people who were being imprisoned or arrested solely for the expression of their political views. Q Thank you. Q A question on Baker. You mentioned on Monday that he had been in touch with Kozyrev again. Have there been any further conversations between the Secretary and the Russian Foreign Minister since then? MR. BOUCHER: Ralph, he's not in town and I haven't asked him, so I just don't know. Q O.K. And do you know yet whether the United States feels the Helsinki Human Rights Commemorative Conference that occurs at the end of this month -- the end of March -- should be at the Foreign Ministers' level? MR. BOUCHER: You're asking me: Is the Secretary going to that meeting? Q No, that's not what I'm asking. MR. BOUCHER: I don't have an answer for that either. Q I'm capable of phrasing my own questions -- MR. BOUCHER: O.K., Ralph. (Laughter) Q -- so forget that. MR. BOUCHER: No, I don't know. I don't know exactly what is being planned. It's a CSCE follow-up meeting in Helsinki that begins, I believe, March 24; and I don't know exactly what the CSCE has planned for that occasion. Q Richard, did you have a readout on the non- proliferation meeting that took place last week between you and us and the French and everybody else -- the other five? MR. BOUCHER: The five powers? No, I didn't. Q Could you get one? MR. BOUCHER: Maybe. Q Please? MR. BOUCHER: Well, let me try. Q Thank you. Q O.K., I'm sorry. Q Thank you. (The briefing concluded at l:48 p.m.)