US Department of State Daily Briefing #31: Friday, 2/28/92

Snyder Source: State Department Acting Deputy Spokesman Joseph Snyder Description: Washington, DC Date: Feb, 28 19922/28/92 Category: Briefings Region: Southeast Asia, Pacific, MidEast/North Africa, Eurasia, East Asia Country: Israel, Iraq, Cambodia, Australia, Haiti, Burma, Libya, USSR (former), Russia, North Korea, South Korea Subject: Mideast Peace Process, United Nations, State Department, Democratization, Nuclear Nonproliferation, Refugees, Immigration, Human Rights, Terrorism 12:41 P. M. (ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED) MR. SNYDER: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. I don't have any announcements. I'd be happy to take your questions. Q Joe, the Mideast talks are now in recess for three days. There's been four days of talks. Does the State Department have any sort of assessment of how the two sides -- or the five sides, whatever, are doing? MR. SNYDER: Barry, other than to express our satisfaction that the talks are continuing and the parties remain, I don't have any further evaluation. They've spoken at great length themselves, and I refer you to what the parties themselves have said. Q Assistant Secretary Djerejian has now met, I think, with all the parties for sort of a status report. Would you expect that either he or the Secretary would meet with him again before they depart Washington next week? MR. SNYDER: There are no plans for any such meetings scheduled right now. We'll have to see what happens. The Secretary returns over the weekend. Q Joe, do you have any announcements on future meetings of the multilateral working groups? MR. SNYDER: No announcements. I do have a little something to say. It was agreed in Moscow that the working groups would meet in late April or early May. Final dates for these two groups have been proposed. The co-sponsors and hosts are in the process of consultations to nail the dates down. That's where it stands at the moment. Q The Israeli side has announced a couple of dates for the economic group and the refugee group. Can you confirm those dates? MR. SNYDER: We are still in the process of consultations. I can't confirm the dates. Q Is late April/May still accurate? MR. SNYDER: Yes. Q Joe, on the Middle East talks here again, one of the Arab parties said yesterday that in the letter of invitation that was sent to them for this round of talks, it was said that the United States would intervene only if both sides were to request it. Is that in fact the case? MR. SNYDER: We've addressed this at great length from here in previous rounds in the talks. I don't have the exact formulation. Certainly, we are prepared to go into the room at the invitation of both sides. However, we have in the past talked about bridging proposals, and so forth. I'm not sure that that necessarily requires both sides, but I don't have anything specifically on that. Q Could you look into that specific language? MR. SNYDER: I'll be happy to. Q Mr. Snyder, the loan guarantees -- whether they're linked or not -- why is the United States considering -- even considering them at this moment when conditions are so bad here within the United States? MR. SNYDER: The Secretary of State was on Capitol Hill on Monday and Tuesday for several hours in each place discussing loan guarantees at great length. He left town after that. I have not been in touch with him to discuss this subject, and I'm going to leave the subject of loan guarantees where the Secretary left it earlier this week. Q You don't have any language on the possibility of a compromise in the Senate? MR. SNYDER: Nothing at all. Q A number of Israeli officials had very harsh words to say about the U.S. policy as expressed by the Secretary on Capitol Hill. Do you have any comment on that? MR. SNYDER: No. Q Do you think the old relationship between Israel and the United States is breaking down? MR. SNYDER: Not at all. I think the relationship between Israel and the United States remains a strong one. Q The U.S. Ambassador to Israel is quoted in an Israeli newspaper as having complained about the Israeli Government's failure to give the U.S. adequate information about settlements under development, settlements under construction, and the financing of them. What's the purpose of him making that statement at this time? MR. SNYDER: Ralph, I just saw that in a wire just before I came in. I really have got nothing to say about it. Q Joe, on the settlements, on the Hill this week the Secretary said that there had to be some mechanical means to guard against the fungibility factor. In other words, money going into the Israeli treasury and then losing its identity, and then coming out perhaps to help build those settlements. And that apparently is part of his plan for the loan guarantees. Does the United States have any protection against the fungibility of other U.S. funds going into the Israeli treasury, the $1.2 billion in economic assistance, for example? MR. SNYDER: That is a question that basically gets to the whole question of loan guarantees and settlements, and I'm really not going to get into that. Q No, it's not about the loan guarantees. It's about the standing $3 billion plus annually in U.S. financial and military assistance, and it has nothing to do directly with the loan guarantees. It has to do with that continuing, ongoing program. What I'm asking is, is there any check on whether any of that money then releases other funds for use to expand settlement activity in the occupied territories? MR. SNYDER: Jim, it really does get into the same issue from another direction, and I'm not going to get into it. I'm sorry. Q Thank you. Q Wait a minute. Q The Iraqi Government's efforts -- you can go, Barry. We'll call a filing break. Q No. I'll sit in the back. Q We'll call a filing break. Q Any comment on the Iraqi Government's decision not to comply at least so far with U.N. efforts to destroy a Scud missile factory? MR. SNYDER: Yes, Ralph. The Security Council met yesterday in informal session to hear a report from Special Commission Chairman Ekeus on his recent visit to Baghdad. The members of the Council authorized this month's Council President, who is Ambassador Pickering, to express to the Iraqi Charge to the U.N. the Council's deep concern over Iraq's continuing refusal to comply with the mandatory conditions of relevant U.N. resolutions. Pickering did this last night. The Council will meet this afternoon to consider further steps on the matter. I should point out, we understand the Iraqi Government has failed to allow the U.N. to begin the destruction of missile-related equipment and facilities identified by the Special Commission according to the relevant U.N. resolutions. Ambassador Ekeus has given the Iraqis until this afternoon, New York time, to meet this obligation. The Council will meet this afternoon, as I said, to consider further steps on the matter. Q What is the Chairman's or the President's inclination to do at this afternoon's session? MR. SNYDER: That's going to depend on the behavior of the Iraqi Government. The deadline ends this afternoon. The meeting will be about the time that the deadline ends, and we will see if the U.N. has been allowed to begin the destruction of this equipment. Q Has the President of the Security Council circulated a proposed series of actions for discussion prior to the meeting this afternoon? MR. SNYDER: Not as far as I know. Q Joe, what is the exact time of the deadline? MR. SNYDER: It's 10:00 o'clock Baghdad time, and I didn't -- 10:00 p.m. Baghdad time -- and I'm not sure what the time difference is. Is it 4:00 this afternoon?* Q What exactly have the Iraqis done or not done? Have they physically prevented U.N. people from doing something? MR. SNYDER: That's my understanding, yes. There's a U.N. team there which is there to supervise the destruction of this equipment, and it has not been given access. Q Is there sort of a stand-off situation again or -- *Note: The deadline is 2 p.m. (EST) MR. SNYDER: As I understand the situation, the Iraqis requested an extension of the deadline, I believe twice, and it was granted, and it ends this afternoon. Q Well, is there a proposal for action to be taken this afternoon if the Iraqis do not comply? MR. SNYDER: I'm not aware of any proposal. I do know that we don't expect a new resolution today, but I don't know what action is going to be taken. As I say, it depends on the response of the Iraqi Government. Q What exactly are we talking about? Are we talking about Scud missiles as well or -- MR. SNYDER: What I have is missile-related equipment and facilities. I don't know specifically. I'll try to get more detail. Q And this was identified by the U.N. team. They discovered it. The Iraqis said, "Wait a minute. We'll need some time to dispose of this," twice? MR. SNYDER: For more information, I think you really ought to go to the U.N. Special Commission. I mean, they're the ones that have the details of exactly what happened. Q You've said that the Security Council has granted an extension twice. Is there any inclination on the part of the U.S. president of the Security Council to offer another extension of time? MR. SNYDER: This was a question for Ambassador Ekeus who was on the ground earlier in the week, and I do not know what the Security Council itself is going to do. I don't know what their plans are. As I say, they're planning to meet this afternoon to consider further steps, and that will depend on what happens. Q On another area, can I ask whether the U.S. has any comment on the announcement about a Cambodia peacekeeping force of some, I think, almost 16,000 troops? Will the U.S. participate in any way in that peacekeeping force, either logistically or with personnel? MR. SNYDER: The President's Fiscal Year 1993 budget requests an additional $350 million for Fiscal Year '92 and $350 million for Fiscal '93 for new and anticipated peacekeeping requirements. A substantial portion of that would be for Cambodia. We're working closely with the U.N. Secretariat and other members of this. We do expect to participate. Q Participate financially. MR. SNYDER: Financially and as well with logistics, and, I believe, with personnel. Q Have you had a chance to look into what the United States Government is doing about the case of this Australian investors syndicate and the Virginia lottery? (Laughter). MR. SNYDER: Yes. I'm sorry we weren't able to post this yesterday. It was a question of finding someone who knew something about it, and the answer is: No, there have been no discussions through State Department channels. Q That's an answer to a question, but I'm not sure it's mine. No, we have not consulted with the Australians, but -- well, my question was, what is the U.S. Government doing to look into it? MR. SNYDER: That's a criminal matter. It's not the State Department's concern. I'd suggest you check with the Justice Department. Q Whoa. Why is it a criminal matter? MR. SNYDER: I'm sorry. I did misspeak. It's certainly not a diplomatic matter. It's basically a domestic problem. The domestic agencies would be the ones responsible. I'm sorry. It is not a criminal matter. Q So the U.S. and Australia have not consulted on it. Australia has not requested any assistance from the United States, or the U.S. has not requested any assistance from Australia in the investigation? MR. SNYDER: Not as far as I know. Q But as of now you do not view it as a matter of criminal misconduct or -- MR. SNYDER: The State Department really doesn't have a view on whether it's criminal or not. Q O.K. But I think you just flatly said this is not a criminal matter. MR. SNYDER: I said I misspoke when I said it was a criminal matter. Q Is it fair to say you don't know what your position is, Joe? [Laughter] MR. SNYDER: It's fair to say that the State Department doesn't have a position on this issue. [Laughter].

[Haiti: Update]

Q Is there anything on Haiti today? Any news about Haiti today? MR. SNYDER: I've got something on refugee numbers and a little bit on the political process. First of all, on the numbers: 1,021 Haitians were repatriated on Wednesday and Thursday to Haiti from Guantanamo, 510 on Wednesday and 511 yesterday. A further 510 will be repatriated today. This brings the total of Haitians repatriated since the coup to 7,514. We understand that a further repatriation may take place tomorrow. As for pickups, 72 Haitians were picked up on Wednesday; 355 Haitians were picked up yesterday. This brings the total picked up since the coup to 16,253. Q Has the U.S. -- I'm sorry. Were you finished? MR. SNYDER: I've got a couple more numbers just to get the set complete. A further 148 of those Haitians found to have a plausible claim to asylum were flown from Guantanamo to Miami on Wednesday. This brings the total of those who have been flown to the States to pursue their claim to asylum to 1,975. So those are the new numbers. Q Are those people going to Miami -- are they being incarcerated or released and paroled -- MR. SNYDER: I refer you to the INS and the Justice Department. They're in their hands. Q Are Haitians found to have the AIDS virus being excluded -- even though they may have political reasons -- being excluded from being brought to the United States? MR. SNYDER: INS is also concerning itself with the HIV question. Q Well, is there an answer from them? MR. SNYDER: I don't know; I suggest you check with INS. We just haven't been concerned with it. Q Has the U.S. Ambassador had any contacts yet with the Haitian regime and, if so, can you tell us about them? MR. SNYDER: I don't know specifically, I didn't ask. But we'll be happy to check. Q What is your assessment of the movement towards implementing their new accord? MR. SNYDER: We think that the agreements signed last week are an important step toward a solution to Haiti's political crisis, and we urge that they be carried out as soon as possible. We're working with the OAS. We've provided a million dollars for their civilian mission to strengthen democratic institutions, monitor human rights and professionalize the army and police in Haiti. We're prepared to give more support, and we hope the international community will do the same. I don't have a specific day-by-day assessment of how it's going, however. The agreements were just signed a few days ago. Q What about the prospects for lifting sanctions if they do make some more progress? MR. SNYDER: The agreements explicitly include reference to sanctions being lifted if there is a political settlement. Q Joe, back on the U.N. for a minute. Did you see the interview in The Washington Post this morning with Ron Spiers, in which he said the United States is using U.N. posts -- administrative posts as a dumping ground for political hacks? MR. SNYDER: Yes, I did see the article. And what I've got to say on that specific aspect is that the United States believes the best men and women available should be assigned to United Nations positions. We're proud that we have many Americans throughout the U.N. system who have been among the most outstanding international civil servants, and we disagree with his characterization. Q Well, Joe, I want to ask you about Burma. Are we sending an Ambassador to Burma? MR. SNYDER: The President nominated Parker Borg as our Ambassador to Burma, and I'm not quite sure where that stands in the confirmation process. Q Regarding the Rohingyas -- the Muslims that are being driven into Bangladesh -- there have been reports that this may accelerate a great deal in the coming months. Is the United States concerned about this at all and able to do anything about it? MR. SNYDER: We are concerned, of course, with that situation. Are we able to do anything about it? I think that's difficult to say. We certainly have made our views known to the Burmese Government. Q Do you have any comment on the talks held by President Mubarak of Egypt in Paris which seems to have touched upon the Libyan involvement in Lockerbie/Pan Am? MR. SNYDER: No, not specifically on President Mubarak. We, of course, are working very hard with the French and British and with others to encourage the Libyans to comply with our requests which were reinforced by the U.N. Security Council. Q Do you have any comment in general about the part played by President Mubarak trying to soothe the Western attitude towards Libya? MR. SNYDER: Not specifically about President Mubarak's role. I think our position is quite clear that we want to see Libya comply with those demands and turn over the two suspects for trial, and so forth. Q You don't see any positive results out of his movement or -- MR. SNYDER: We haven't seen the demands complied with yet, no. Q Joe, in the week-long negotiations, was Secretary Baker in touch with any of the individuals in the various groups? Did he speak to anybody about the situation? I know Djerejian did, of course. MR. SNYDER: Djerejian did, yes. I don't know, Barry. I'm not aware that he was. Q Speaking of contacts, has the U.S. Government maintained contacts with former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev since his deposition from power? MR. SNYDER: Ralph, I have not seen specific reports that I can recall. I'm sure we have, though. I'm sure our Embassy in Moscow has been in touch with him, but I don't know -- I have not seen anything specific. But there's no reason why we wouldn't have been in touch with him, and many reasons why we would. Q Joe, you said before that there were two ways -- these aren't the precise words, but clearly what you were saying -- that the U.S. could go into the room or it could make bridging proposals without going into the room. I'm not sure you were asked whether the U.S. has made any bridging proposals through Djerejian or anybody else. MR. SNYDER: I wasn't asked. I said I would look into that whole thing. Let me look into it. Q I see. O.K. Q Do you have any comment about the North and South Korean nuclear negotiation which was ended yesterday in (inaudible) any further steps? MR. SNYDER: Yes. Yesterday's working level meeting was to discuss the formation of the Joint Nuclear Control Committee established under the North-South Non-Nuclear Agreement that came into force on February 19. These working level talks will resume on March 3. I really wouldn't want to characterize the talks at this point. I would suggest you ask the Koreans themselves. Q How about the Washington Post report this morning that North Korea has begun to remove any -- some heavy equipment, presumably apparent nuclear facilities to conceal that -- (inaudible). MR. SNYDER: I don't have any specific comment on the details reported in that article. We don't comment on intelligence matters. I can say again, as we've said many times, that North Korea can only address international concern about its nuclear program by promptly ratifying its IAEA Safeguards Agreement, accepting inspections of all its nuclear facilities under that agreement, and by negotiating and implementing with the ROK, a credible bilateral inspection regime under their joint declaration. Q Thank you. MR. SNYDER: Thank you. (The briefing concluded at 1:02 p.m.)