March, 1992

US Department of State Daily Briefing #32: Monday, 3/2/92

Tutwiler Source: State Department Spokesman Margaret Tutwiler Description: Washington, DC Date: Mar, 2 19923/2/92 Category: Briefings Region: MidEast/North Africa, Eurasia Country: Iraq, Israel, USSR (former), Jordan, Libya, Russia Subject: Military Affairs, Mideast Peace Process, State Department, Science/Technology, Nuclear Nonproliferation, Human Rights, Terrorism 12:05 P. M. (ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED)

[Announcements]

MS. TUTWILER: I have three housekeeping matters, most of which I think you know. Secretary Baker will be appearing before the Subcommittee on Commerce, State and Justice of the House Appropriations Committee at 10:00 a.m., Tuesday, March 3. The subject is the FY '93 budget. The room is 2360 Rayburn. In addition, on Thursday, March 5, he will testify at 10:00 a.m., same subject, before the Subcommittee on Commerce, State and Justice of the Senate Appropriations Committee. As I said it's the same subject. And that room is S-146 in the Capitol. And, as you all know, there will not be State Department briefings on those two days. In addition, Secretary Baker will attend the NATO NAC-C meeting in Brussels that's being held on March 10. Our current plans are to depart on Monday morning -- I don't have a time for you yet. I anticipate it will be pretty early because of the time change -- and return to Washington on Wednesday, March 11. Right now there's only one stop: Brussels. And, as you know, the Secretary and the Foreign Minister of Russia said they would be meeting around the fringes of this meeting, and I would steer you towards looking tentatively for them to meet on Wednesday morning, and then we return. Q What would be the venue for that -- the location? MS. TUTWILER: Where? Q The location would be the Russian Mission or the U.S. Mission or -- MS. TUTWILER: I have no idea. I don't know yet. I'll get it to you as soon as we have it. Q Who besides the Russian, Margaret? MS. TUTWILER: Well, NATO -- the NAC-C meeting will be Tuesday. On additional bilaterals, I don't have any yet. And then Wednesday, right now, is the meeting that they discussed -- what was it? -- two and a half weeks ago -- in Brussels. As to Ralph's question, I don't know where, so far. Q In that connection, will Secretary Baker be back in Washington for the meeting between President Bush and King Hussein on Thursday, the 12th? MS. TUTWILER: Yes, he will. That's Thursday, as I recall, at around 11:00 a.m., but check with the White House. We get back on Wednesday. That's it. Q That's it for housekeeping? MS. TUTWILER: That's all my housekeeping, and there's nothing else going on, so do you want to call it a day? [Laughter] Q Margaret, do you have any reaction to Libya's offer to try the two Libyans who are wanted in a neutral country?

[Libya: Offer for Pan Am 103 Bombing Suspects]

MS. TUTWILER: About the same reaction that we have had, to be honest with you, on other various suggestions they have made. As you know, Libya has repeatedly suggested the possibility of trying the Pan Am and UTA suspects in a neutral country. This is nothing more than another attempt by Libya to delay complying with United Nations Security Council Resolution 731. Libya knows well what it must do. It must comply with all the provisions of Resolution 731. Those provisions are clearly inconsistent with turning the suspects over for trial in a third country. The resolution also requires that Libya terminate its support for international terrorism. It's interesting to note, in my opinion, that by offering to turn the suspects over to a third country, Libya recognizes that it does have mechanisms for surrendering Libyan nationals.

[Iraq: UN Report of Human Rights Abuses Against Kurds]

Q May I ask about Iraq and the new revelations about mass killings of Kurds that have come out? First of all, do you have any reaction to those reports? MS. TUTWILER: My understanding is, Alan -- and correct me if I'm wrong -- that this was an overall human rights report, if that's what you're referring to, that covered the whole spectrum. It was not specific -- just targeted on Kurds, is my limited understanding. It was something that was mandated before the war. It's my understanding that it was mandated, I think, in either 1988 or '89. This Ambassador has just recently been in Iraq and carried out his mission, it's my understanding, in about the last three or four weeks and has submitted a report, and the report is something -- what is contained in the report is something that revolts the United States. It is horrifying to us what is going on on a human rights scale there in Iraq. But, as many or all of us know -- and you, yourself, know who've covered this -- we have been saying that there are -- I don't want to use the word "atrocities" -- human rights abuses that are going on in Iraq, and this just, in our opinion, highlights it by this report.

[Iraq: Effectiveness of Safe Havens for Kurds and Iraqi Embargo]

Q Margaret, one of the dramatic aspects of this report, in a long litany of human rights abuses, is the fact that apparently thousands, if not tens of thousands, of Kurds have been slaughtered wholesale, and this is in the time since the Gulf War, as I understand it, when a safehaven policy, or something akin to that, was in operation. Do you have any observations about that fact? MS. TUTWILER: No, because I don't know the report that thoroughly. It's a very valid question. I'll be happy to take it. It's my understanding, Alan, and maybe I have incorrect information this morning, that this report, as I said, was mandated before the war, and it covers everything from the atrocities that we know about -- about the chemical gassing -- that it covers everything. I'm just not that familiar with the report to address myself to the specific you just asked me. But I will definitely look into it and familiarize myself more with the report. Q I think the question is whether the Western-arranged safehaven policy that followed the Gulf War has had -- whether the U.S. feels that policy has had adequate -- has provided adequate protection for the Kurds? MS. TUTWILER: I understand, and I do repeat, it's a very valid question. But since I'm not that familiar or I'm definitely not familiar with that aspect of the report, I can't address myself to it. I don't know if the report says these atrocities happened in our safehavens, or if they happened in places where we weren't anywhere near. I just am not that familiar with it. Q (Inaudible) a relevant question? I mean, you determined -- MS. TUTWILER: I'll be happy to take it. Q But whether it happened in the safehaven or whether it happened outside the safehaven, what actual difference does that make? I mean, you determined where the line -- MS. TUTWILER: It doesn't make any difference to the people who died, but I thought Ralph's question was saying, "Margaret, Alan's asking you: Were your safehavens effective or not?" Q Right. But that's not the same as what you said about whether it occurred inside the safehaven or not. MS. TUTWILER: I said I can't -- Q The safehaven policy was a policy which set a location for the safehaven -- MS. TUTWILER: Correct. Q -- and the question is not whether they occurred inside or outside that location, but whether the whole policy of establishing that location was adequate to provide the Kurds, anywhere in Iraq, appropriate access to a safehaven. But we -- MS. TUTWILER: I think the Kurds that are in the safehavens -- unless this is where all these thousands of people Alan has mentioned have been killed -- although, I can't speak for them, would probably say they have appreciated and benefited from these safehavens. But I don't know -- I'm not dodging you -- I just simply don't know enough about this report or where these thousands of people that Alan refers to -- Kurds -- were killed in Iraq. I just simply don't know. Q Margaret, there have been requests for some follow-up U.N. action on the basis of this report. I believe they've come from Britain and France. Do you have anything on the American view about that? MS. TUTWILER: Yes. It's my understanding that the report suggests -- the Ambassador does -- that there be some form of continuing international monitoring of the situation of human rights in Iraq, and we, the United States, support that suggestion. Q I was simply going to ask you if in taking the question, you would also ask -- add the possibility of -- see if there is a possibility that just as we're pressing the U.N. resolutions on nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction, whether the United States might consider going back into those safehavens in the way we did just after the war, in order to provide them again, if the safehavens did work? MS. TUTWILER: Correct me if my memory's failing me, but the safehavens are still there, right? And there are humanitarians, as had always been envisioned -- I've forgotten -- I believe the U.N. at the time called for five or six hundred. I believe that number was attained, and I haven't heard of all those people leaving that area, and they are our eyes and ears and our monitors in the safehavens, unless I've missed something and it's changed. Q But isn't it correct that the Iraqi authorities have imposed an embargo on the Kurdish areas? MS. TUTWILER: Correct. Q And what is the world community and the United States intending to do about that? MS. TUTWILER: That is something that I'll also take, just because I'm familiar with it, but I don't have it at my fingertips, what the world community is doing about it. But let me ask you a question: Are these thousands of people -- when we started all this -- that you asked me about reported in this report to have been killed in the safehavens? Is that what this is? Q No, no. MS. TUTWILER: Does it say where they were killed? Q They were killed in the Kurdish area. MS. TUTWILER: So it does not say it was specifically in the safehavens? Q No. But, I mean -- MS. TUTWILER: O.K. I was just curious. I'm just asking for my own curiosity. Q The other point is this action, this killing, is being called genocide by some people, and in light of that would the United States be willing to reopen the question of war crimes trials of Iraqi leaders, which was actually mandated by U.N. Security Council Resolution 688. MS. TUTWILER: That's something that I have not heard raised, to be honest with you, Alan, in a long time. It's, obviously, a Presidential decision. As I recall, during the war we said that the Pentagon was the depository of all this type of information; that we were collecting it and keeping it. As I recall, at the end of the war, the United Nations Security Council itself, in its 25-page report of things that Iraq must and must not do -- they dropped the war crimes language, as I recall, from an earlier draft. So it hasn't been on my scope in quite awhile. Q O.K. But since then, evidence is now coming out about genocide. Doesn't that change the situation in some way? MS. TUTWILER: It's something that maybe people are looking at, but this morning, no, I don't have a new policy for you. Q Can the U.S. verify this human rights report in any way, and that's a question for you to take. MS. TUTWILER: All right. Q Margaret, there are new reports from -- the latest from Tehran Radio -- about a major offensive by Iraq against rebel positions, I believe, in northern Iraq. Do you have anything on that? MS. TUTWILER: You've got a later wire copy than when I came out here. I haven't heard about that, no.

[Iraq: Terms for Compliance/Visit to UN by Iraqi Delegation]

Q Still on Iraq, Margaret: Does the U.S. believe there should be a deadline set by the U.N. for when this high-level delegation from Iraq is supposed to come to the U.N. and do whatever it's supposed to do, or is there sort of an open-ended situation going on there? MS. TUTWILER: One, I would refer you to the United Nations on whether they have or have not set a deadline. Number two, based on what the United Nations has told us this morning, as you've seen reported, it is Tariq Aziz that the Iraqis are sending. On another question you might have for me: "Would we somehow not grant him the appropriate visa to come here?" The answer is, of course, we will grant his visa so that he can come here. The Security Council, it's my understanding, is very anxious that that happen as soon as possible; and that the Iraqis, whether it's Tariq Aziz or whoever they want to send, get over here. Q Do you have some indication as to when that exchange should take place from the U.S. point of view? MS. TUTWILER: If I do, I just can't get into it. Q Well, was the U.S. consulted when the Security Council set what amounts to a deadline -- said no later than the week of March 9? MS. TUTWILER: That's another indirect way for me to kind of confirm that there is a deadline. I've been asked -- those types of questions would be more appropriately answered at the United Nations, and they, so far, have not yet answered that question. But I've answered it honestly, that the United Nations -- the Security Council -- has strongly suggested that this is an important subject, it's an important matter. If the Iraqis want to send someone over here, okay, fine, but let's get them over here. Q Will the U.S. meet with Tariq Aziz for any reason? MS. TUTWILER: No. Other than, as you know, Ambassador Pickering sits on the Security Council as the United States representative. But outside of a Security Council meeting, no.

[Libya: Pan Am 103 Issues Continued]

Q Going back to Libya. MS. TUTWILER: Libya? Q Yes, to the two suspects who were indicted: Where do you go from here? They offer a neutral court; we are saying that they must be tried in a U.S. court or a British court, perhaps. MS. TUTWILER: Or French. Q Or a French court. Is there any room for negotiations on this issue at all? MS. TUTWILER: We're quite clear, as is the United Nations resolution, on what the Libyans must do. It hasn't changed. All those demands are out there, public. It's all in the United Nations public resolution and it's all out there. Q There was talk a couple of weeks ago about a new resolution that was going to put various sanctions on Libya, including the closing down of Libyan-Arab airlines, cutting off of air links with Libya, and downgrading of diplomatic representation around the world. What's happened there? Is there a problem? Is there a lack of consensus? MS. TUTWILER: There are a lot of different ideas that are being discussed, none of which am I in a position to announce or elaborate on with you. Q Is there a deadline on this? MS. TUTWILER: I'm not aware of a deadline.

[Russia: Recruitment of Nuclear Scientists]

Q Margaret, back to Iraq for a second: German newspapers apparently are reporting that Iraq has recruited some 50 Russian scientists and names -- quotes two of them actually -- one a laser expert and the other an expert on multiple warheads, saying they were paid $10,000 a month, etc. Anything new on the "brain-drain" problem? MS. TUTWILER: Number one, let me start by saying I was given a wire before I came out here that my counterpart, Vitaly Churkin, has given a press statement this morning -- and I'm quoting him -- saying, "We have checked and double-checked that matter and what we ascertained is that no nuclear scientists have left the country." He goes on and on, so I'd refer you to his comments. I can tell you that we, ourselves, cannot confirm this report. As you know, throughout this period there have been various -- numerous reports. I can remember one report saying that scientists had left for Libya, and I believe they were paid $2,000. There have been reports of submarines, as I recall -- another report. So, as of today, we cannot confirm this report. As in all the previous reports, we take these seriously. We investigate each one. As you know, to partially address this problem, Secretary of State Baker and the German Foreign Minister, and others -- the EC -- are working towards and have announced the international center and the United States pledging $25 million towards that and the EC pledging -- I can't remember the exact amount they've pledged. So on this particular one this morning, we're aware of the report. We're investigating it, and we treat them all seriously. Q Does the U.S. have a mechanism now since Baker's visit to talk with the scientists, for exchanging information on this topic and perhaps others, directly with the scientists at perhaps a lower level on a continuing basis? MS. TUTWILER: I understand. I know that internally -- and I'm pretty sure multilaterally -- we have had at the experts' level our internal meetings. I'll have to check for you on whether there has been direct follow-up with the scientists. This is also, Ralph, something that the Secretary will probably be addressing in more detail in Brussels. Q With Kozyrev or with -- MS. TUTWILER: I just don't want to get into a lot of specifics. It's a subject matter that he will be addressing while he's in Brussels. Q Do you have an address yet for this institute which the U.S. has announced? MS. TUTWILER: Not to my knowledge, but I'll ask.

[Middle East Peace Process]

Q Margaret, on another subject: Since his return, has the Secretary had a chance to review the bidding in the Arab-Israeli bilateral talks that have been taking place here? MS. TUTWILER: He had a brief debrief this morning by Ambassador Djerejian and Ambassador Ross. That's been about the extent of it this morning -- just where we were over the weekend, but that happens all the time. It's not unusual. Q Any further maturing of the possibility of the United States intervening as a catalyst? MS. TUTWILER: I'm not aware that the United States has been formally asked to intervene as a catalyst. If they have, I haven't heard about that. As you know, the United States, if asked, has to be asked by both parties in the room. Q Oh, but think bridging proposals. MS. TUTWILER: Offering suggestions and ideas and talking to delegations and delegates that are in town goes on all the time. That certainly goes on. It went on all weekend long. But a formal request, on the mechanism that everybody agreed to for the United States and Russia to be invited into the room, I'm not aware of such a request. Q Will Baker be meeting with delegation chairmen this week? MS. TUTWILER: Not that I know of, but I don't ever want to lock myself into "never." If somebody asks, he would see them. But there are no requests right now. Q Margaret, have you received from each of the delegations a list of sites for the talks to be continued that would be acceptable to each delegation, as requested? MS. TUTWILER: I know that the United States and Russia and many people are working on trying to resolve the venue question, and I will refrain from getting into the specifics of how we've been working that. Q Is there anything new on the loan guarantee controversy? Any possible compromise? They're talking on the Hill about a possible compromise on that. MS. TUTWILER: Nothing new that I know of. Q Senator Leahy is due here this afternoon to meet with the Secretary, I understand. Will there be any readout from the State Department about that meeting? MS. TUTWILER: If I'm to judge by the last two meetings that he's had, I'd steer you towards no. But I'll be happy to ask if they want to handle this one differently. Q Has any meeting been scheduled with Ambassador Shoval? MS. TUTWILER: No, it has not. Q Is it the Secretary's view at this point that if Leahy and others perhaps on the Hill work out some kind of -- their own policy on the loan guarantees, that the Administration's policy has been stated and it's out there and Congress can do essentially whatever it chooses to do with this issue? Or is the Administration still negotiating with Leahy and others over the terms of such a compromise? MS. TUTWILER: I think that I'll continue to let Secretary Baker work this quietly and diplomatically, and that it would be highly inappropriate for me to prejudge or pre-empt what he may or may not be thinking, especially when he's meeting with Senator Leahy in just a couple of hours. Q You mean "quietly and diplomatically" as he did last Monday? MS. TUTWILER: Last Monday was laying out a quite different question than what you just asked me. That was laying out United States policy and views on this. Senator Leahy has laid out his. Congressman Obey has his. We can name lots of people that have. But that's quite different, I think, than asking me what, in a way, is the Secretary's approach to this and what are his next steps and what is his follow-on. I just don't feel comfortable, in advance of his meeting with the Senator this afternoon, saying, "Well, I believe, or I think he's going to be heading in this direction." I just don't feel comfortable doing that. Q I guess the question really was intended to determine whether the policy laid out by Baker last week publicly -- MS. TUTWILER: Has changed? Q -- is a policy -- is the view of the Administration, or if it was a snapshot of the view of the Administration at that particular moment in time? MS. TUTWILER: To my knowledge, since Secretary Baker publicly testified last -- I believe it was Wednesday and Thursday -- no, Tuesday and Wednesday? Q Monday and Tuesday. MS. TUTWILER: Monday and Tuesday. I'm unaware of any change in United States policy as articulated by the Secretary in, I think, over four hours of public testimony. Q But I think Ralph's question is: Is it still being negotiated with Shoval, or is that phase over? MS. TUTWILER: As the Secretary said in that public testimony on both days, he had conversations that were on-going with the Israeli Government. That still is the case. Q So that's not a take-it-or-leave-it? MS. TUTWILER: That was never his characterization. That was some of your colleagues' characterizations. Q A lot -- in what ways have those discussions with the Israeli Government continued since Baker testified? MS. TUTWILER: At Secretary Baker's level -- as you know, he attended the drug summit in San Antonio for two days with the President and then took a private weekend in his home 0state of Texas. So I'm not aware that he, himself, this weekend has, personally at his level, been involved. I feel quite certain -- as has been the case since we returned in January -- that there are experts who discussed this situation with the Israeli Government, but I don't have any names for you. The Secretary does intend, as he and Ambassador Shoval have both stated, to meet at some time. I just don't have a scheduled time for you today. Q Thank you. MS. TUTWILER: Thanks. (Press briefing concluded at 12:27 p.m.)