US Department of State Daily Briefing #33: Wednesday, 3/4/92

Tutwiler Source: State Department Spokesman Margaret Tutwiler Description: Washington, DC Date: Mar, 4 19923/4/92 Category: Briefings Region: MidEast/North Africa, Eurasia Country: Iraq, Israel, USSR (former), Libya, Egypt, Algeria, Russia Subject: Military Affairs, Mideast Peace Process, Terrorism, Regional/Civil Unrest, CSCE 12:00 P.M. (ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED)

[Comment on Secretary Baker's Plans]

MS. TUTWILER: I have nothing. Ask away. Q Margaret, before we get down to serious stuff, you see a lot of Mr. Baker. Just between you, me and the national television audience, do you ever sense that he gets the urge, maybe, to drop this glamorous life of Secretary of State and go back to work for George Bush more directly in trying to get him re-elected? Is there any thought in his mind to returning to his -- MS. TUTWILER: I have never detected such an urge. You're correct, as others here spend a great deal of time in a normal environment here working on the issues before us at the State Department, and I can assure there is no such urge.

[Libya: Offer of Compromise on Turning Over Pan Am 103 Bombing Suspects]

Q Margaret, is the United States ready to accept a Libyan proposal to turn over the two suspects -- not to U.S. custody but perhaps to a neutral party? MS. TUTWILER: No. Our answer to that is the same that we've given to all of these various proposals. The Libyan Government knows what they need to do and nothing has changed on our policy. Q In other words, you would not be satisfied with an exchange of the prisoners for, say, some sort of upgrading in Libyan-U.S. relations, as was suggested apparently to the U.N. team? MS. TUTWILER: That suggestion has been around for, in my opinion, quite some time. I won't put a date on it. It's not one that the United States has ever picked up on. Q Margaret, can you give us the status on whether the United States, or Britain and France, are going to move at all to take some sort of action that we've been threatening on Libya? MS. TUTWILER: I can't. It is something that we are continuing to discuss, and it's something that I don't have anything concrete I can give you today. Q It's under discussion with whom -- with the three? MS. TUTWILER: Well, as you know, among the three; and then, as you know, the United Nations passed a resolution -- off the top of my head I can't remember the correct number -- and so it is something that we all, in a larger body and in a smaller body, bilaterally, continue to discuss. But as far as what you're really asking me -- What's the next step? -- that, I can't do for you today. Q Is there some reason, though? We've been talking about this for some time now. Is there some reason -- MS. TUTWILER: We're just kind of choosing our timing. And today is not the day that I'm in a position to tell you what, if anything, is the next step. It's just not -- Q There are, of course, no political -- MS. TUTWILER: It's not how the powers that be have decided it's going to be handled. Q It can't be tomorrow because there's no briefing tomorrow. MS. TUTWILER: Correct. Q We probably have to wait until Friday.

[Iraq: Assets in US and Other Countries]

Q Speaking of next steps, there's also a story out there that the U.S. is talking about seizing Iraq's assets as a next step. MS. TUTWILER: This is the frozen assets? Q Yes. MS. TUTWILER: I tried to find out for you this morning because I thought someone might ask me what is the amount of frozen assets in the United States. I could not, or was unable to find out from individuals here in this Department and was told to please refer you to the Treasury Department for that amount. Q Does the figure $5 billion ring a bell? MS. TUTWILER: I honestly don't know. I tried to find out. I knew it would be asked. The Treasury Department, rightfully so, keeps that and is the one who tracks that so they would know. It is my understanding that, worldwide, there are believed to be $1.3 billion worth of frozen Iraqi oil revenues plus about $400 million worth of crude oil subject to the Resolution 692 levy for the Compensation Fund. It is my understanding that the Security Council is not considering other uses of frozen Iraqi assets at this time. U.N. Security Council Resolution 687 provides that Iraq will pay a share of its oil revenue, as you all know, into the U.N. Compensation Fund. Under U.N. Security Council Resolution 692, compensation is also payable from certain Iraqi oil receipts frozen abroad. Q What about the United States desire to seize Iraqi assets in this country, said to amount to some $5 billion, as a next step? MS. TUTWILER: If we are considering that step, I'm not aware of it.

[Middle East Peace Process: Bilateral Talks]

Q Margaret, the Secretary's had, I guess, the Israelis and others in by now? MS. TUTWILER: Two this morning and two this afternoon. The Israelis and the Jordanians this morning. Q Could you give us a sense of what his role is at this point? Is this sort of a last-day summation of where they've gotten, or has he gotten more actively involved, or what? MS. TUTWILER: What this was, to be honest with you, I believe it was yesterday the Secretary's senior experts, who have been working this issue, recommended to him that he should see the various heads of delegations. He readily agreed. Those meetings were scheduled, and all four of them are happening today. I attended his first two this morning and they were exactly -- and I would describe, in nature, of the last time he did this -- they were genuinely an opportunity for the delegations to give a first-hand account to the Secretary of where they see the situation and how they see things. I would characterize this as a debrief, if you will, by them, and for the Secretary, if he has any points that he chooses to make, to make to the various delegations. As I've said, he's meeting with all of them today. He's hearing their assessments. In order to re-enforce our conviction that the best way to make progress is to work on substance. It is interesting that this morning we heard from some of the delegations that the talks themselves have value; that they are giving each side more awareness of the other's concerns which, in our opinion, in and of itself, is very constructive. There are no instant fixes or quick breakthroughs. We've come from a situation -- which you all are very familiar with -- which barely four months ago Arabs and Israelis had no contact, let alone negotiations. The key point, in our opinion, is that Arabs and Israelis remain engaged. I would report that they are, according to them, exploring the issues that need to be negotiated. This is true in all of the negotiations. All are trying to tackle the core issues of their disputes, and all have told both the Secretary this morning and our experts throughout -- and to be honest, all of you in the media -- that they remain committed to the process. Q Do you think the Syrians -- is it the U.S. view that the Syrians and the Israelis are engaged in the substance of their dispute? MS. TUTWILER: I am not going to characterize what each person's private views are that they're giving to the Secretary, or our experts are. They all have daily press conferences. They, again, have them all scheduled for this afternoon. I think you're all familiar with their times. Q Except the Lebanese. MS. TUTWILER: The Lebanese, it's my understanding, have changed theirs to tomorrow morning. I would just leave the characterization, as we have characterized it, based on our conversations throughout this round and the Secretary's this morning. He has not yet, as you know from his schedule, met with the Syrian head of the delegation. That's some time this afternoon. Q Where next and when next? MS. TUTWILER: Venue and timing are not resolved. Those are issues that the parties will continue to discuss. Q Although the State Department wouldn't say so publicly, they did ask the parties to give them lists of -- ten even -- possible places. As of the other day, only the Israelis had complied with that request. Have you got suggestions now from the Arabs as to where they would like to go next? MS. TUTWILER: The first part of your question is absolutely accurate and correct. The State Department has not discussed this on the record. We are working quietly to be of what help and assistance we can to the parties to get over this venue question. I've said this morning that the venue is not resolved nor is timing, meaning, i.e., when do they next meet. That is something that the parties are continuing to work at, and we're going to continue to help them work at it. Q I think you said that Baker met this morning with the Israelis and the Jordanians, and then he'll meet the other two -- the Syrians and the Lebanese -- presumably this afternoon. At what point will he meet the Palestinians? MS. TUTWILER: He'll meet the Palestinians, I believe, this afternoon. Q Separately -- in a separate meeting? Not with the Jordanians? MS. TUTWILER: That's correct. Q Margaret, you said the Secretary uses the occasion of these meetings to make occasional points that he wants to make to the delegations. Aside from the statement you just read, are there any other points that the Secretary made to the delegations this morning that you could share with us? MS. TUTWILER: He did make some points. There were not an enormous amount of them. The only one that I would feel comfortable mentioning in this forum is that he stressed to them and urged them to work on this venue question and to let's try and get this resolved and get this beyond us. Q The Israeli newspapers yesterday said that they will not -- Israel will not come to Washington for another round of talks and they will boycott it if it will be another venue. Do you have any comment on that? MS. TUTWILER: Those are the types of questions that I have tried to maintain a discipline on, not answering throughout all of these rounds. And it's best if those types of questions are answered by the delegations who are here in town, who hold everyday their own press conferences on what their positions are. All of them have made their positions, in my personal opinion, very public. Q Does the State Department have any comment on the Palestinian proposal for elections in September that was submitted to the Israelis yesterday? MS. TUTWILER: No, we're not going to comment on various proposals that are being presented and discussed in these negotiations between the two parties. Q Margaret, when the venue question first reared its head before the first round happened in Washington -- besides it had a few weeks in which they tried and failed to agree and then the co-sponsors stepped in with a solution which was to invite the parties to Washington. Do you envisage a similar situation being possible in the future to keep the tempo of the talks going? MS. TUTWILER: That option is certainly always there, and it's certainly one that the Secretary and his co-host could entertain and could once again use. There's no decision on whether he'll go that route, and we hope that the parties can work this out. Q Just extrapolating from your previous statement, which quoted some of the parties as saying that the fact that they're talking has value in itself, is it the United States position that meetings should be continued to be held on roughly once-a-month basis, as they have in the last three months? MS. TUTWILER: That's a specific question concerning timing, and it's something that we're going to continue to work with the parties on concerning timing, which is, in reality, their next meeting. Q Let me put it a little more vaguely. Is it the United States position that the parties should continue to meet regularly? MS. TUTWILER: It gets me, Alan, in the position where I really can't answer that question for you. There is a lot of considerations that the various parties are taking into consideration concerning when they do and do not want to meet again. As you know, we have two religious holidays that are coming up. I believe one is in March, one is in April. Obviously, they have to take those types of things into consideration. It's just a timing question -- venue and timing -- other than to say that we believe that they should continue to work at this and try to resolve it among themselves. We are, obviously, trying to help them resolve it. I can't be any more specific about what our position is or what we are suggesting or what our policy is. Q Margaret, has Ambassador Harrop -- MS. TUTWILER: Excuse me. Instead of saying "policy," what our views are on it. Q I'm sorry. Has Ambassador Harrop returned from Jerusalem to Washington? And, if so, for what purpose? MS. TUTWILER: Yes. He was in the meeting this morning, and I assume he's back here on normal consultations. I think he's been here for several days. Q He's in the meeting with -- MS. TUTWILER: Secretary Baker and the Israelis. Q One of the Israeli spokesmen said yesterday -- MS. TUTWILER: Excuse me. The Secretary will be seeing him this afternoon, and it's a normal, it's my understanding, consultation; that he's back in the building. Q Have there been any other officials who have not previously been involved in these talks that have become involved them? Any other U.S. officials? MS. TUTWILER: At an experts level? The last time I saw the list was probably two rounds ago, and there was probably a list of maybe -- I don't know; I can't remember -- 8/15 names. I don't know if there are more names or less names. I don't know. Q But one of the Israeli spokesmen yesterday said the Secretary indicated sympathy for the Israeli position that the next round should be in the Middle East because it's senseless to meet six thousand miles away. Can you comment on that? MS. TUTWILER: I'm not familiar with the Israeli who said that. The Secretary, to my knowledge, until this morning has not met with any Israeli officials. He expressed his opinion in private this morning to the entire Israeli delegation that they brought to the meeting with him. The United States has said publicly many times that it is our view at some time -- we've never said what that would be -- that it does make sense and we would support moving these talks closer to the region. That has not changed. Q Another question -- I'm sorry -- on the Baker-Israeli meeting this morning. Did the subject of the loan guarantees come up during that meeting at all? MS. TUTWILER: Briefly. Q Was Ambassador Harrop involved in that part of the discussion? MS. TUTWILER: Ambassador Harrop, which is not unusual -- nor did anyone else that I can recall -- except that maybe Ed Djerejian made a point at one part of the meeting -- spoke during the meeting. But that's normally how the meetings run. The Secretary is there chairing the meeting, and he usually does the vast majority of the speaking on behalf of the United States. Q Would you care to tell us who raised the loan guarantee issue during that meeting? MS. TUTWILER: I don't think that would probably serve any appropriate -- any useful function. I am telling you the honest truth, that it was lightly or briefly -- I'll take back "lightly" -- it was briefly touched upon. It was by no stretch of the imagination the purpose of the meeting, or the vast majority of time was not spent on that subject at all, nor was it the last time the Secretary met with them. Q It doesn't take long to say you get the loan or you don't get the loan. Is there a decision or is there still negotiations going on? MS. TUTWILER: Negotiations are continuing. And as you know, the Israeli Government has determined that those will be done through Ambassador Shoval, as they have been, not by Eli (Rubenstein) and Yossi (Ben-Aharon) and the people who are here for a totally different subject. That, in all candor, is why this meeting was not about loan guarantees. It wasn't the purpose of it at all. Q But when will he see the Ambassador, because they were to get together pretty soon? MS. TUTWILER: They were. They haven't scheduled a time yet. Q On that same question, though, your suggestion that the Israelis have told the U.S. they want to keep those negotiations handled through Shoval would suggest -- MS. TUTWILER: That's the way they've been handling them. Q Excuse me? MS. TUTWILER: That's how they have been handling it today. Q Yes, I realize that. But you just said it was the Israelis who have told the United States that that's how they want to handle them. It would suggest that it was the U.S. side that raised it in the meeting this morning. Is that accurate? MS. TUTWILER: I don't know what difference it makes who raises it or not. Q It may not make any difference. I'm just asking a question, whether it makes any difference if -- MS. TUTWILER: And I'm refraining from answering, in a private meeting, who raised not only loan guarantees, but who raised venue, who raised timing. I'm just not going to do that. It's not fair to the Israelis who met with the Secretary and it's not fair to the Secretary. They ought to be able to have a meeting and talk candidly without me or Richard (Boucher) or someone else coming down here and saying, "Here's everything that went on." So I just don't feel comfortable doing it. Q Has the Secretary spoken to Chairman Obey or Leahy since their Monday meetings on loan guarantees? MS. TUTWILER: He's not only spoken to them, he's met with them. Q He's met with them again. When was -- MS. TUTWILER: I'm not sure he's met with Congressman Obey. I'd have to check with the Congressional Office. I know he's met again with Senator Leahy. Q Did he meet yesterday with Leahy and Kasten? MS. TUTWILER: Yes. Q Has he scheduled further meetings with them? MS. TUTWILER: Not that I know of. Again, I'll have to ask Janet (Mullins). Q Some of the people, who are familiar -- at least who say they are familiar -- with these meetings suggest that what the Secretary is counting on now is for the members of Congress to work out what they want to introduce, based on their conversations with the Secretary. Is that how you see things happening? MS. TUTWILER: I'm going to let the Secretary continue to discuss this with the Hill in private, and I am not going to preview, or give my judgment or state what his views are in these meetings. It just wouldn't be right. Q Is he leaving it to the Hill to decide? MS. TUTWILER: He is in obvious discussions with the Hill concerning this, as he has said publicly, and he is continuing his discussions with the Israeli Government. Q Margaret, going back to his meetings earlier this morning with the Israelis and the Jordanians, was there any discussion of a possible visit to the region? MS. TUTWILER: By who? Q By the Secretary? MS. TUTWILER: No, in neither meeting was it brought up. Q Margaret, there was a statement by Mr. Leahy's office this morning saying that he put the whole thing indefinitely about coming to a compromise. MS. TUTWILER: I haven't seen that. I'm familiar with some statements -- was it yesterday? I haven't seen one this morning. I'm sorry. Q (Inaudible) was carried overnight -- earlier this morning. MS. TUTWILER: I don't know. Q One other thing on this meeting between the Secretary and Leahy, did they ever get it straighten out between the two what is it the Secretary has been telling Leahy about where the deductions would come from? MS. TUTWILER: As far as I know. Q Did they reach an understanding? MS. TUTWILER: I'm not aware that there was a misunderstanding between the two gentlemen. They certainly both talked on the phone. You, I believe, yesterday, in public testimony -- at the end of it -- came up and asked Secretary Baker for a clarification of the statement that we put out the night before. There's no confusion that I know of. Q But I asked the Secretary whether Leahy had misunderstood or was wrong, and the Secretary didn't answer that, and Leahy as late as yesterday said he knows what the Secretary said, and he insisted that the Secretary said that these deductions would come from the ESF funds, and he specifically mentioned ESF. Is that right or wrong or -- MS. TUTWILER: And the Secretary answered you yesterday, and I will be happy to re-read for you our statement that refers you back to Baker's public testimony of -- I believe it was February 24th. Q But neither the testimony nor his statement yesterday addresses -- Q It doesn't answer the question. You may not want to answer the question, but the statement and the testimony do not answer the question of what the Secretary told Leahy. It does answer the question of what the Secretary wants out there publicly to be known about U.S. Administration policy. MS. TUTWILER: It does, in my opinion. Q The question I think a lot of us have is, did the Secretary tell Leahy that the Secretary would like to see the money come out of aid to Israel, as distinct from coming out of the loan guarantees? MS. TUTWILER: I, on behalf of the Secretary, have answered that question, on the record, the other evening by putting out a statement -- once this happened -- by saying, Ralph, that throughout this period, over several weeks, the Administration and various members of our Congress -- members of the Hill -- have discussed, floated, talked about, mentioned various different proposals. So I don't know how you could say we're not answering the question. I am answering the question. Q It doesn't answer the question of whether Baker thinks the money should come out of there, or whether he's floating proposals. That's two different things. MS. TUTWILER: I don't know what "public testimony" means to you, but it means to me an on the record statement of policy. He did it not once but many times in public testimony last week over a four-and-a-half hour period. He did it again this week, yesterday. He did it a fourth time when Saul and a number of you -- I cannot remember if you were there or not -- at the conclusion of that asked him in person, "What do you mean by this?" So I don't know what else you need. Q The question wasn't, "What do you mean by it," the question is: "What did you tell Leahy?" And that question hasn't been answered. We -- MS. TUTWILER: I have answered it. Q O.K. We hear you. Q Margaret, the Secretary several weeks ago did float the idea of taking the deductions from the aid as opposed to loan guarantees. I think it was on CNN "Newsmaker Saturday." He did float the idea at that point, and Leahy mentioned -- first volunteered that the Secretary had said this on Monday, and then when we asked him specifically to go to that point and had he said that, he again said, "This is the Secretary's position." So there's clearly a difference of opinion about what the Secretary has said. MS. TUTWILER: Well, I would love to help clear up your confusion. There is no confusion in my mind. I would refer you to the public record. Well, you might find it interesting that the Senator, who met with the Secretary yesterday, did not raise any confusion that you're claiming the Senator has in his mind. So maybe -- Q No. He understands it. MS. TUTWILER: Maybe, you know, you should direct your questions back to Senator Leahy. I mean -- Q Margaret, the Secretary did say yesterday that the Israelis had agreed to -- MS. TUTWILER: Not "agreed." He did not say "agree." He said the Israelis had suggested they might think about. Q That they might think about deducting the amount of -- MS. TUTWILER: Right. Q -- I assume he meant the scoring -- MS. TUTWILER: Correct. Q -- from ESF. Is that right? MS. TUTWILER: That is correct. Q And just taking it out of the ESF or using it from ESF, let me ask you this -- the Secretary mentioned this a couple of times in testimony -- would the Administration like to see a repeal of the Cranston Amendment? MS. TUTWILER: I don't know, Saul. That's something I just simply am not familiar with, and I'll have to take your question. Q The Cranston Amendment -- I'd like you to take the question if you could. MS. TUTWILER: I remember him mentioning the Cranston Amendment the other day in testimony, I believe, in response to a question to Senator DeConcini, but I, myself, am not familiar with the Cranston Amendment, and I will have to take your question. Q The Cranston Amendment simply says that Israel has to get an amount of Economic Support Funds sufficient to pay off its debt. I just wondered whether it's the position of the Administration that they would like to see that amendment repealed? MS. TUTWILER: It's something that I said I would take. I will take it. Q I appreciate it. MS. TUTWILER: I know the substance of the amendment, as you have briefly described it, and I just cannot remember exactly how the Secretary addressed himself to this. But I remember it was in an exchange -- I believe I'm right -- with Senator DeConcini. Q Margaret, does the State Department have a notion now as to how much the scoring would cost? MS. TUTWILER: Not that I know of. Q There have been wildly conflicting estimates. MS. TUTWILER: I believe the Secretary was asked this in testimony and answered that he did not have that. Q All right. And to take you up on what he said -- and we were there when he said it -- are you sure the Israelis -- is the State Department sure that the Israelis have said that they would be prepared to have the costs of the loan taken from the foreign aid? My understanding is that they would be prepared to pay for it, but not necessarily out of foreign aid. MS. TUTWILER: That's why I said -- when Saul said that they had agreed -- I said that is not what the Secretary said. He said that Israeli officials have said that they might consider. You are absolutely correct, as I just pointed out, they have never told us that that is their decision. There are any number of options that I'm sure the Israeli Government is looking at, one of which is this one, is our understanding. Q Your understanding -- I guess we're getting into fine points now. MS. TUTWILER: It's one of the options -- we are in nuance-land -- Q That's right. Nuance-land. But -- MS. TUTWILER: -- that they are considering. Q They're considering reducing -- MS. TUTWILER: Or may consider or would consider. Q All right. Whatever. They would consider, if the costs are reasonable, to have aid reduced by the amount of procuring the loan -- the administrative costs of getting a loan. MS. TUTWILER: That is not -- and again I'm not going to speak for the Israeli Government. The Israeli Government is perfectly capable of speaking for itself. Q They say they've never done it. MS. TUTWILER: The Secretary -- Q In fact, they did speak for themselves. They say they've never, never said that they'd consider having their aid reduced to pay for the loan. What they said is, "We'll write a check," which is different. MS. TUTWILER: O.K. Well, then you have a piece of information that I and the Secretary do not have or are not aware of, and I will ask our experts to double-check it. What he said the other day, which is his understanding of this -- he did not say it as an official Israeli Government position by any stretch of the imagination. He said Israelis -- they could have told experts here; maybe it was an unauthorized person who was speaking. This kind of thing goes on. That's why he was very careful in answer to Saul's question of how he answered it. Q I was next to Saul. MS. TUTWILER: Right. Q But it is the position of this Administration that money is fungible, yes? MS. TUTWILER: Yes, you know our position on fungibility. Q Do you have any, Margaret? MS. TUTWILER: Oh, come on.

[Algeria: Reported Dissolution of Islamic Party]

Q Do you have a reaction to the dissolution of the FIS -- the Islamic Party in Algeria which is today, by court order, being totally dissolved? MS. TUTWILER: I wish, Alan, that that was something I knew something about so that we could change subjects, but unfortunately I haven't heard about that this morning. I'll definitely take your question. It's a serious question. I'll take it. Q Could I go back to aid for one second -- MS. TUTWILER: Let's go. Q -- and we're going now from nuance now to philosophy. MS. TUTWILER: Great! [Laughter] Q But the Secretary, who's a careful lawyer, continually -- not all the time -- continually refers to U.S. guarantees of commercial bank loans as aid. Now in a very hostile column the other day, he's been accused of, you know, calling it aid when it really isn't aid -- and you know the column I'm referring to in the newspaper the other day. But the point -- MS. TUTWILER: I don't read all of these columns. Q All right. Well, fine. But forget the column, because the very next day or that morning the Secretary was back on the Hill and twice again -- MS. TUTWILER: He must not have read the column. [Laughter] Q No, no. I think he knows what he's doing, actually. In answering the questions of Congresswoman Pelosi, he kept referring to Israel's request that the U.S. co-sign those loans as "aid to Israel." Now, does he believe that guaranteeing a loan is aid? MS. TUTWILER: That's a fine point that I have not explored with him, but I will ask him and be happy to see if he has an answer for you back. It's just something that I personally -- it's never crossed my radar screen to get into with him. I don't believe he's the only person I've heard -- now that you've brought it up -- in hours of testimony talking about aid. But I will be happy to ask him. Q He's a very precise person -- MS. TUTWILER: He is. Q -- and out there in the hinterlands in Cedar Rapids, there may be an impression -- MS. TUTWILER: They're asking this question, right? [Laughter] Q No. They may be -- no. Actually, they're not asking the question, but they may be getting the impression that the Administration is wringing its hands over whether to give Israel $10 billion more in aid. MS. TUTWILER: I understand. Q And they're not giving Israel a penny more in aid by co-signing this loan. MS. TUTWILER: I understand -- Q So to sort of promote that impression that it's aid, you know, may be promoting an inaccurate impression. I wondered if he was doing that. If he meant "aid," or if he was using the word "aid" rather loosely. MS. TUTWILER: I'm honestly answering that it's something I have never heard raised by anyone around here. Q Perhaps he was using "aid" interchangeably with the word "help." Q That could be, too. MS. TUTWILER: I just -- you know -- I'll be happy to ask him. I'll tell him the people in Grand Rapids want to know and -- in Cedar Rapids -- [Laughter] Q Cedar Rapids. MS. TUTWILER: Cedar Rapids. Q Is there any possibility, Margaret, that we could ever find out what this is likely to cost the United States taxpayer, because this really does seem to almost come to the root of the problem -- whether this is, in fact, a major leg up, or whether it's peanuts. MS. TUTWILER: Right. Q And the numbers that you see in the various stories that are reported, vary wildly as to what this may or may not cost the U.S. taxpayer. MS. TUTWILER: That's all true. Q Is this not a consideration? Is that why we can't find out how much it would actually cost? MS. TUTWILER: To just broadly -- and I have a very limited understanding of this, and my knowledge or expertise in math is worse than it is in foreign policy -- is that depending on how -- whatever you negotiate, whatever the final negotiation is, will determine how you then score this. So no one can really answer this for you right now. And I don't want to do hypotheticals, because someone, by total accident, could write it as if I was saying fact. But that is honestly why there is no answer to that yet. Q Who makes that determination? MS. TUTWILER: Well, when negotiations are finished and you know what the package is and what the timetable is, what the amounts are, what -- all that kind of thing that I don't want to touch -- that, is my understanding, is when then you know what you're dealing with, so you can go to OMB and you can work out the scoring. Q Margaret, just to tidy up one little detail on the meetings that Baker had with the Israelis and the Arabs, in any of the -- did the loan guarantee issue come up in any of the meetings with any of the Arab delegations? MS. TUTWILER: No. He's only had one meeting, and it did not come up. Q Margaret, can I take you back to Israel, if you can comment on a statement attributed to Mr. Rabin that if he is elected he will stop settlements in most of the territories and will grant the Palestinians autonomy? MS. TUTWILER: From today until June 23, you will not see from this podium this Government, as it appropriately should not, get involved and respond to any statements that any candidates are making in this election or other elections anywhere in the world. We don't do it. So, I will not respond to your questions about, "former Prime Minister Rabin has said this or Prime Minister Shamir said that." Just as we all don't like people saying things -- we have a race going on here -- about what our candidates are or are not saying, so I'm just not going to do it. Q I feel purified all of a sudden. Q (Multiple questions) MS. TUTWILER: O.K. What? Q Is that also part of the U.S. campaign, by the way, that there will be no comments from this podium about candidates -- MS. TUTWILER: There hasn't been, has there? Q I'm just asking the question. Q But today is the perfect opportunity. MS. TUTWILER: We don't do politics here, as you know. Q (Multiple comments) MS. TUTWILER: Sure. Why in the world -- from this podium? Q Just asking the question. MS. TUTWILER: The White House podium is appropriate. Q Just asking the question so the answer is on the record. When it comes up, we'll remind you of it. That's all. MS. TUTWILER: No problem.

[Libya: Role of Egypt as Mediator and Other Issues]

Q Margaret, back to the Libyan affair, if I may. We keep reading statements and assessments made by unidentified diplomatic or official sources that the United States is finding difficulties getting approval of Security Council members to demands. Is that right? MS. TUTWILER: Correct me if I'm wrong, but wasn't the one resolution that's been voted on this, wasn't it voted unanimously? All 15 people voted in the affirmative, as I recall. Someone correct me if I'm wrong. Q Yes. The first one, yes. But about sanctions or about more than sanctions, it seems that there are difficulties. Maybe this is the reason why the United States is not moving to -- MS. TUTWILER: I can't comment on what it is that we are or are not trying to do. It would be hard for me to characterize that we are or are not having difficulties. Q Can you assess the role of Egypt in trying to mediate to possibly defuse this crisis? I understand Mr. Mubarak was in France last week, and there were all kinds of efforts and contacts with the United States Administration official. MS. TUTWILER: President Mubarak is well aware of what our policy is concerning this situation.

[Former Soviet Union: US Urges Peaceful Solution in Nagorno-Karabakh Conflict/Efforts by US/Russia/CSCE/Iran]

Q Margaret, do you have -- does the State Department have any independent reporting on the atrocities in Nagorno-Karabakh? MS. TUTWILER: Not independent reporting. We have seen the reports that have come out. It is something that, obviously, is horrifying. It is something that we are very concerned about. We have been calling for a dialogue, a peaceful solution to be found to this long-seated problem. As you know, we have fully supported the efforts of the Soviet -- I mean, the Russian Foreign Minister. As you know, I think it was about ten days ago they had a meeting in Moscow with the two Foreign Ministers of Armenia and Azerbaijan. This morning I asked, and we're unaware of another scheduled meeting with those three gentlemen, but it's something that we are -- on a human level, you couldn't help but be heart-broken to see the types of pictures we have all seen and been exposed to. And it is a situation on a political level that we, in whatever way we can, would urge the parties to have a serious, peaceful dialogue. You know we supported the CSCE mission that was most recently, Barry, I think, ten days ago in there. They have come back and given a report to senior officials at the CSCE, and they are right now looking at steps or measures -- that is, the CSCE -- they could take. Q Well, you're referring, of course, to the awful atrocities. Does the State Department happen to have a policy position? MS. TUTWILER: A policy position? Q Yes. Like are you for autonomy? Are you for independence? Are you for limited self-rule? MS. TUTWILER: We're for -- Q As you are in other areas? MS. TUTWILER: Well, every area is a little different. Q Yes, I know. But this one seems to be bloodier than the areas you're concentrating and we all focus on so much. MS. TUTWILER: Right. Q A lot of people are getting killed, and the tensions -- the hatreds might even be more -- stronger than Arab-Israeli. MS. TUTWILER: I can't make those comparisons. Q But do you have a policy position? MS. TUTWILER: Yes. We have a policy, and the Secretary of State was just in Armenia. He was just in Azerbaijan -- what? -- almost three weeks ago, and I would refer you -- he did extensive press conferences in both of those sites -- to his record. He stated what our policy is. I have generalized it for you today. We, obviously, are for a peaceful resolution to this, as you say, very deep-seated situation. Q He was asked by both sides when we were there to get -- that the United States should become actively involved in trying to solve the issue. Is there any -- now that we're going to have an Embassy in Baku, as well as Yerevan, is there any -- are there any plans for the United States to become more actively involved in trying to mediate that situation? MS. TUTWILER: None that I specifically can point to for you, other than we obviously are working with our colleagues at the CSCE. I've just told you they right now are working on what they want to present to governments on their ideas of next steps. It runs the whole gamut, is my understanding. He spoke with the Russian Foreign Minister yesterday. He touched on this subject. The Russian Foreign Minister once again, who we have been very supportive of, is trying to do what he can to somehow find a way to get these sides talking. Q What was the main topic of conversation between Baker and Kozyrev yesterday? MS. TUTWILER: I don't remember, Ralph. That was not a very lengthy conversation. The Russian Foreign Minister called the Secretary, but, to be honest with you, they talk quite frequently, and I really can't remember. Q Let me ask you a question on Nagorno-Karabakh: Do you think at some point the United States would be ready to come up in support of the idea of United Nations' involvement in the dispute? MS. TUTWILER: It's totally speculative for me. Q In which sense is it totally speculative? MS. TUTWILER: Because we're not at that point, and that would be something that would be -- something that the Secretary of State would want to discuss with the President. I've just stated twice that right now after the CSCE rapporteur mission that was there on the ground, they are back, they are writing their report. I'm sure that our senior official who represents us in that body will be forwarding on the recommendations, and that our government will be making a decision along with other governments of what appropriate follow-up steps we can all do to help in this situation. Q Margaret, in the coverage of Mr. Schifter's resignation, I may have this slightly wrong. I have only the fleeting reading of it this morning. I thought I saw mentioned that the United States had squelched the idea of appointing a human rights officer in Kuwait, and I wondered if you could confirm or deny it? MS. TUTWILER: As happens from time to time, that story came out a little garbled. What actually went on in that meeting was not a human rights inspector for Kuwait. It was a human rights inspector to inspect the Iraqi atrocities in Kuwait during occupation. So it was just -- you're right how you read it. It was -- and this happens to all of us -- a little bit garbled, and what I've told you is what actually went on in that meeting. Q Margaret, is it a U.S. policy to encourage Turkey to counter-balance the Iranian influence in the Central Asian republics? MS. TUTWILER: Is it what? Q Are you encouraging Turkey to counter-balance the Iranian influence in the Central Asian republics? MS. TUTWILER: The United States is encouraging all countries that we have, as you know, very close relationships with, to help in these countries. All of us, as you know, have been doing all that we can -- medicines, food, technical assistance, etc. -- and you know that we have a very close relationship with Turkey. Q You are concerned about the moves by Iran -- Iranians to influence the area? MS. TUTWILER: They've just spent a week in that region and gave any number of press conferences, and I'd just refer you to the record. Q Thank you. Q Thanks. (The briefing concluded at 12:40 p.m.)