US Department of State Daily Briefing #39: Tuesday, 3/17/92

Tutwiler Source: State Department Spokesman Margaret Tutwiler Description: Washington, DC Date: Mar, 17 19923/17/92 Category: Briefings Region: MidEast/North Africa, Eurasia Country: Iraq, Israel, USSR (former) Subject: Military Affairs, Mideast Peace Process 11:58 A.M. (ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED) MS. TUTWILER: I don't have anything. Go.

[Israel: Reported Transfer of US Patriot Technology and US Housing Loan Guarantees]

Q Earlier today the Secretary met Defense Minister Arens of Israel. I'm wondering if you could tell us whether the two discussed (a) the loan guarantee issue, and the possibility of a compromise on that, and (2) the alleged transfer of U.S. technology to a third party? MS. TUTWILER: I'm going to shock you and do exactly what Minister Arens did, which is to describe this as a good meeting, which it was, and a private meeting. Any further characterizations, I won't do. I will tell you that the two gentlemen met one-on-one, no staff, no one in the room, and they met for, I believe, it's approximately 45 minutes. As we said yesterday, the Minister is here on a private visit. They were meeting as colleagues and friends, and viewed it as a private visit. Q Margaret, a related question: Minister Arens has repeated several times a denial that Israel sold Patriots to China. That is what he chooses to deny. I wonder whether he has told the Administration something further such as they did not transfer technology from the Patriot to China? MS. TUTWILER: I don't know. You would have to ask the Minister. Q Well, what I was asking is what he's told you. Because he's told the world one thing, which is answering a question which is not particularly interesting, and I would think that the Administration would want answers to other questions. MS. TUTWILER: What I'm not going to do is have a further characterization of his meeting this morning with the Secretary other than to characterize it as private and a good meeting. Q Margaret, do you have anything further on the team that is going over to Israel to inspect the Patriot batteries? MS. TUTWILER: Yes. I don't have a name for you today of who is going to be heading the team or at what level. Hopefully, I can have that for you tomorrow. People are still working on this. But I can tell you that the team will have representatives from the Department of State who will lead the team and will have technical experts from the Department of Defense and embassy staff. We expect that the team will be in Israel by the end of this week and would complete their mission within a few days and return. Q What is that mission? Could you elaborate -- MS. TUTWILER: Excuse me? Q Could you enunicate their mission? MS. TUTWILER: Yes. I announced yesterday, in response to a question I was asked, that Israel has agreed to a team of U.S. experts to travel to Israel to ensure that there are not any misunderstandings on technology transfer questions, including those on the Patriot missile. We welcome this Israeli gesture which is in keeping with the strong ties between our two countries. That's what I said yesterday. Q Can we just follow that up a little bit? Is this an explanatory mission that is going to go to Israel and say, look, we just want to go through these rules and regulations again to make sure you understand the nuance? Or is it a team that's actually going to go over and investigate? Are you looking for information or giving information? MS. TUTWILER: The best way to describe this at this point is in the language that I used yesterday that I repeated to Barry now. It's something that we welcome. I will, hopefully, be able to be more forthcoming when the team returns. As you've noticed even today, I can't even tell you who's leading the team or at what level, which you asked yesterday. I think that this is something that's best, right now, if I just leave the characterizations that have already been formulated. Q But, Margaret, wouldn't you agree that a few days is insufficient time to conduct an investigation? MS. TUTWILER: I couldn't draw that conclusion, Mark. I'm not a technical expert. I don't know what a normal mission of this type, what length of time it takes. I assume that the experts who I talked with this morning do know and that they know the amount of time it will take them to ascertain what it is they'd like to ascertain and discuss. So that's why I'm telling you that we would envision they would be back in a few days. Q Could we assume that the people who will be going there, the persons will be from the political-military affairs department -- the office of Richard Clarke -- or higher ups? MS. TUTWILER: I don't know the level, and I don't know the specific office that the State Department representative will be from who is leading this mission. I just don't have that information yet. Q Will the team be able to discuss everything related to technology transfer, possibly reviewing all of the elements? MS. TUTWILER: No, they will not. They will be doing just one thing. Q Margaret, you described Baker and Arens as good friends. MS. TUTWILER: They are. Q There's been a swirl of allegations about Israeli technology -- U.S.-supplied -- going elsewhere illegally. If you or Mr. Baker knew any of these allegations to be patently false, would you just let them hang out there or would you deny them? MS. TUTWILER: What we're not doing, Barry -- and I'm sorry that you weren't here yesterday because we spent about 52 minutes on this -- Q I was listening to Mr. Arens. MS. TUTWILER: I understand. I went through this at quite some length yesterday, and the Administration's position, since this is not a final report, since this report is due out in two weeks -- Q I don't mean just the Patriot -- MS. TUTWILER: -- we're not commenting on it. There are wild allegations out here. There are all kinds of stories out here, etc., and our position, to date, has been -- last week and this week, and I don't know any reason it's going to change today -- that we are not going to comment one way or the other on a report that has not even been sent forward in final form to the Deputy Secretary of State or to the Secretary. Q Could you tell us anything about what might be going on internally in the building so far as any policing of leaks? Is there any? MS. TUTWILER: Policing of leaks? I'm not exactly -- Q Well, I don't want to invite your own comments. You make your own statements. MS. TUTWILER: I did this also yesterday. Q Well, fine. MS. TUTWILER: I don't know how you would police leaks. If somebody has an answer to that -- Q I'm not saying that you should. I'm just asking you if you think, as some reports have suggested, that there is a school -- that the bureaucracy, as always, doesn't have a consistent view of Israel. Is it possible that within the Department there are people trying to injure Israel by releasing information that you would describe as a wild allegation? MS. TUTWILER: Number 1 -- and I'm not trying to cut you off -- I did do this at quite some length yesterday. Q It will go on for some time, I think. MS. TUTWILER: Number 2, I don't know. You say "the leaks from this Department." I don't know where these leaks are coming from. Q I don't know. I'm asking you if you folks are trying to find out if there is an element in this building that would like to injure Israel with what you call, in another context, "wild allegations?" MS. TUTWILER: I know of no investigation in this building, if that is your question, concerning these leaks. I know of no call that I am aware of for an FBI investigation of this. I do not know of anyone that is investigating this in this building. But, again, I go back to what I just said: I don't assume that these leaks are from this building. I don't know where these leaks are from. They could well be from individuals in this building, who I characterized yesterday -- whoever these individuals are -- as irresponsible. I do not know what building or what agency or what department all of these leaks, Barry, -- these and others -- are coming from. I don't know. Q So far as Mr. Clarke, who runs political-military affairs, is the Secretary satisfied Mr. Clarke has been doing a good job? MS. TUTWILER: I answered this yesterday. I did all this yesterday. Q Can I ask a related question? Is it still the Secretary's position that any loan guarantee arrangements would necessarily involve a freeze on new Israeli settlements in the occupied territories? MS. TUTWILER: Let me help you on this. Contrary to some reporting this morning about where the Administration is or is not, or has or has not been over the weekend: Since January, we have been negotiating with members of Congress to design a loan guarantee proposal that would meet Israeli needs and be consistent with long-standing United States policy. We believe that if the United States is to provide $10 billion in new loan guarantees to Israel, we must have assurances that these funds will be used consistent with U.S. policy. Each proposal that has been submitted to us by the Congress fails to meet that basic requirement. Over the weekend, we submitted a detailed proposal which would provide loan guarantees to the government of Israel conditioned on the requirement that there be no new housing construction beyond what is already underway. The proposal we submitted is fair and it is balanced. We will not accept any proposal by the Congress which fails to meet this fundamental test. It must be consistent with United States policy since 1967 that settlements are an obstacle to peace. We would like to find a way to provide loan guarantees on the basis of long-held U.S. policy positions. As all of you know, the President and the Secretary of State are meeting later this afternoon with Senator Kasten and Senator Leahy, and they will continue these discussions at that meeting. Q Well, Margaret, the Israeli Defense Minister, among others, has said that it would be unacceptable to the Israeli Government that there be any freeze on settlements imposed by the United States in connection with the loan guarantees or anything else. In light of those statements, which I'm sure you've seen, do you now consider -- and in light of what you just said -- do you now consider the loan guarantee proposal to be a dead horse? MS. TUTWILER: I can't make that deduction. Why in the world would the President of the United States and the Secretary be meeting, at the request of Senator Leahy, to continue these discussions this afternoon at 4:30? Q (Inaudible) wrong this afternoon? MS. TUTWILER: I don't ever do predictions. I have no way of foretelling or crystal-balling what will come out of that meeting. I don't know. Q Is there anything in this weekend proposal that represents a climb-down or an alteration in the Administration's position? MS. TUTWILER: The Administration's position, as I've just stated, has been consistent. And I would refer you back to two particular, and I believe in four public testimonies held last month, the Secretary of State articulated that position. Q So, in other words, what they came back with this weekend is the same thing -- almost the same exact language that they've been proposing all along. MS. TUTWILER: I've just stated what our views are, and I believe they used many of the same phrases and words that the Secretary used in public testimony. Q Can you give your position on two American companies who are building 6,500 residential units in the occupied territories between this year and next year and spending $800 million on land which is occupied? Do you have any thoughts about American companies involved in construction? MS. TUTWILER: I don't know anything about -- Q Can you take the question, if it's possible? MS. TUTWILER: I'll be happy to look into it. I don't know anything about it. Yes, Saul. Q Margaret, I don't see where the Israelis figure in this dialogue that's been going on. You say there's been negotiations between the Secretary and the Administration and Leahy/Kasten, and Leahy/Kasten will come back with their proposals. But I don't see where you've been talking to the Israelis. MS. TUTWILER: As you know, the Secretary has had a number of meetings with Ambassador Shoval here in Washington. Since the last time they met, there are experts in our building who have been talking to experts not only in their Embassy here but with experts in their government in Israel. So those conversations have continued. Q Well, this last proposal that was made by the Secretary to Kasten/Leahy, has that been turned down by the Israelis or Kasten/Leahy, or who? Where does that stand? MS. TUTWILER: As I think you're aware, right now -- up until now -- the Administration and the Hill have been in discussions working on various drafts and various proposals. Q But have the Israelis specifically turned down this proposal? Or have they come up through Kasten/Leahy with another proposal? MS. TUTWILER: You should more appropriately refer your questions concerning the Israelis views of this process to the Israeli Government. I have stated that we have stayed in contact; that we have stayed in communication. And during this particular phase of this, the Administration has been working to the best of their ability quietly, very hard on trying to work something out with the Hill. Q Is there going to be -- do you foresee the possibility that there's still time for a markup on the Foreign Aid Bill? MS. TUTWILER: That would be more appropriately asked up on the Hill. I don't have an answer to that. Q Well, they claim not, unless they get some sort of go-ahead from the Administration on the possibility that they can sort of do it on their own as a piece of legislation. MS. TUTWILER: Maybe they'll be discussing that with the President this afternoon. Q What? MS. TUTWILER: Maybe they will be discussing that with the President this afternoon. Q What is the position since -- if that doesn't happen, if there is no Foreign Aid Bill and just a continuing resolution, what happens to the $12 billion that the Administration would like to see in IMF money and other kinds of aid? MS. TUTWILER: That's a very good question. Q They tell me on the Hill that you don't seem to care about that. MS. TUTWILER: Well, that's not the view that the President expressed last Friday in his press conference, and your question, though, is premised on a hypothetical and a conclusion that I don't have yet; and I cannot answer and speculate with you "what if" and what takes place this afternoon and what the Hill decides, what the President decides, what goes on in that meeting, because you're right, whatever decisions do come out of that does definitely affect other things, and we're just going to have to wait and see. Q Margaret, two things -- Q Will there be -- do you know if there's going to be anything definitive from this meeting today -- MS. TUTWILER: No. Q -- or are we just going to go on and on -- MS. TUTWILER: Johanna just asked me that. How can I prejudge it. I don't know. Q Well, one way or the other, is there going to be anything on -- MS. TUTWILER: I don't know. Q Margaret, the Israelis say this is a humanitarian issue, and it's being mixed with policy. You gave two considerations in discussing the situation. Can we say now that the Administration acknowledges that they're linking a humanitarian issue with their settlements policy -- with your settlements policy? MS. TUTWILER: I would refer you back to hours worth of public testimony where the Secretary of State has over and over and over again answered that question and questions very similar to it. Nothing has changed concerning our views and our policy. Q Do you mean they're linked or they're not linked? MS. TUTWILER: I refer you back to his testimony on his answers to those exact types of questions. Q Well, I don't want to go back. I want to take up with you today -- MS. TUTWILER: Well, then I'll get it for you right after the briefing. Q No. Don't get me it. Don't get me it. I can find it as easily as you can. Today, when this issue is ripe and there's about to be a White House meeting, you mentioned the two considerations: trying to provide a loan under circumstances, and U.S. policy on settlements. Aren't you linking the two? MS. TUTWILER: On that specific, literal question, I will be happy to have someone get you the record of how he has answered that question. Our statement today does take into effect, and you know -- and the Secretary has articulated in testimony that in his view -- you may disagree with it -- that this Administration has done, if not more, at least as much as other Administrations on our concern about Israeli absorption. He has laid out publicly two proposals, if you recall, in public testimonies, and he said the choice is Israel's. He said we are for humanitarian assistance on this issue. However, he has also very straightforwardly articulated United States' policy since 1967 concerning our view and our policy on settlements. Q So they're linked? Is that your answer? MS. TUTWILER: My answer is -- Q I know you care -- MS. TUTWILER: -- I will refer you to the record. Q You don't have to rehearse all the aid the U.S. has given Israel. We know that. I'm asking you if you're linking -- MS. TUTWILER: I wasn't -- I didn't mention that. Q Well, you're telling me, you know, how concerned the U.S. is about absorption. The Israelis know you're concerned. They say you're linking a humanitarian issue -- MS. TUTWILER: I understand that. Q -- to a territorial issue. Are you? MS. TUTWILER: I've just answered your question the way I'm going to consistently answer your question which is on that specific, literal [question], I refer you to his public testimony. I have answered, paraphrasing portions of his testimony, to the best of my memory. Q All right. The other thing is the Ambassador of Israel at a panel discussion yesterday said something I hadn't heard before, and I wondered if Israel had made this -- had said this in its negotiations with the U.S. -- that if the loan went through and for other financial reasons within a few years they would assume they'd no longer have to ask the United States for economic aid. They would still require military aid, but their situation -- their economic situation would be improved to the extent that they thought that it would be very likely in a few years down the road they would no longer have to ask for economic aid. Have the Israelis made that argument? MS. TUTWILER: That's the first I've heard of it. But I want to be fair to the Ambassador. Maybe he has mentioned that here to -- Q Maybe it's a new conclusion, but I wondered if they've used it -- MS. TUTWILER: I just don't know. Q -- in their argument. MS. TUTWILER: I've never heard of that, and maybe he has mentioned that here to -- he talks to people in this building all the time, and maybe they're well aware of it. I just simply am not. I've never heard of it. Q Margaret, please correct me if I'm wrong, but I'm under the impression that, in fact, the settlements being an obstacle to peace has not been U.S. policy since 1967. That from 1967 until 1982, the United States believed that settlements were illegal, and that in 1982 the softer formula came about after President Reagan misspoke. MS. TUTWILER: That is not my understanding, and some of your colleagues here are saying that I am correct. So I will be happy to get you the entire record since 1967 from the experts. But that is not my understanding. Q That would, in fact, be very helpful. MS. TUTWILER: Well, it's probably all public knowledge, so I don't know how fast -- to be honest with you, people here are really, really busy right this minute -- they can pull it out for you. Q It would be very helpful. Q Margaret, are they illegal -- the settlements now? Are they illegal? MS. TUTWILER: You know the Bush Administration has not taken -- as you know, the Carter Administration, which is what Jan was talking about, called them illegal. The Reagan Administration said they were not, and the Bush Administration has refused for three years and now three months to say whether they are either legal or illegal. That hasn't changed today. Q Margaret, in the territories -- while you are in the territories, can you confirm that the next peace round of talks or next round of peace talks will be the 27th of April in Washington? MS. TUTWILER: That's the first I've heard of that date. Q And can you comment or do you have any thoughts about the proposed establishment of a confederation between the Palestinians and Jordan? MS. TUTWILER: That is something, as you know, that has been talked about for years. That idea has been around for a long time, and our position is that those types of formulas or ideas are what are to be worked out in negotiations. We don't take a stand or a view on it.

[Former Soviet Union: Status of Nuclear Weapons Transfers to Russia]

Q Margaret, trying to keep to your 12:30 -- MS. TUTWILER: Thank you. Q -- if I can, lots of things are going on in the former Soviet Union. MS. TUTWILER: Yes, they are. Q They don't seem to be going according to U.S. hopes and script. One is -- one results in my asking you whether the U.S. is still confident that all tactical nuclear weapons will be in Russia's hands by the spring? MS. TUTWILER: I don't know any reason, Barry, to doubt that that has changed. If you look at various officials who have spoken over the last 36 hours, that would tend to lead you to believe there is no change in that. You know that they're meeting, I believe, this Friday, the 20th, in Kiev, to have further discussions along -- about military matters. I don't have an agenda or know everything they're going to discuss, and so I don't have any reason to believe or that we've seen any signs that there's been a change. Q Are you disappointed by Mr. Yeltsin setting up his own Defense Ministry and apparently his own army? MS. TUTWILER: I did this yesterday, too. Q You did that yesterday? All right.

[Israel: US Investigation/Visit by Experts]

Q Margaret, can I get back just to one thing: On the Patriot investigation, which you're apparently acknowledging for the first time today -- MS. TUTWILER: No, I did that yesterday. [Laughter] MS. TUTWILER: You all should have been here yesterday. It was a big day. Q Probably a hell of a day. [Laughter] MS. TUTWILER: We covered a lot. Q Well, I was here -- yes, I read the transcript yesterday, but what you're saying is that these people are going to investigate the Patriot, as well as other issues. MS. TUTWILER: No, I just said the opposite. Here is what I said yesterday -- Q All right. All right. MS. TUTWILER: -- and here's what I said today: It's literal, O.K.? Israel has agreed to a team of U.S. experts to travel to Israel to ensure that there are not any misunderstandings on technology transfer questions, including on the Patriot missile. We welcome this Israeli gesture, which is in keeping with the strong ties between our two countries. When I was asked, "Is this going out there to discuss other subjects which you know are also on the agenda here," I said no, it's not. And I said they'd be back in a few days, and I think they're leaving at the end of this week. And I don't know who's going to head the team yet. Q The Israelis in public and in private and in meetings with the Administration have vociferously denied these allegations. I'm interested to know whether it's the intent -- aside from the Inspector General's report -- whether it's the intent of this Administration, of the Government, of the State Department, to find out one way or the other and publicize the truth of this allegation? MS. TUTWILER: Well, sure. Q I mean, so you're promising Israel that you're going to find out one way or the other and make it public. MS. TUTWILER: I don't know if we've promised Israel. You're asking me a simple question -- Q Well, you're promising us -- MS. TUTWILER: -- if for no other fact that you'll continue to ask me every day when the team returns, "What did they find?" I imagine we're going to have, you know, some type of answer. Q But it's not just this team, as I understand it, that's been charged with taking a look at it -- MS. TUTWILER: This team is Patriot-specific. Q I see. MS. TUTWILER: That is what you're asking -- I believe -- I think you're asking me. The IG report, I have said, will be public -- the public part of it, in probably two weeks, with the classified annex. I said we'd be happy to discuss and try to answer your questions on the public portion of it. Obviously, we can't on the classified portion of it. Q Margaret, you've got me a little confused now on this team. MS. TUTWILER: I'm sorry. Q The language you just read, which you used yesterday, said -- MS. TUTWILER: Correct. Q -- technology transfers, including Patriot missiles. MS. TUTWILER: Right. Q You've now, I think, a couple of times said that this would be limited to Patriot missiles. Is it going to go into other technology transfers, such as, the Jericho II, etc.? MS. TUTWILER: I don't know anything about the Jericho II, but my understanding this morning, when asking the very question that I keep getting asked, "Is this part of, or are they going to have as their mandate part of the IG ongoing -- this investigation has not concluded." The answer I get is no; that it is not. That it is going to deal with the Patriot leak issue that came up and the team returns. That's my answer from a number of people that I've asked this morning. Q That's narrower than what you said yesterday. MS. TUTWILER: I understand that. Q But what you just read is broader than that. MS. TUTWILER: I understand that. Q Well, then what does it mean? Q We'll take either one. We don't care. MS. TUTWILER: I would go with what I am verbally saying as explanations that people here have given me. Now, I can't say that the experts, if they're there, someone wants to discuss something else, that they say, "Oh, no, I'm so sorry. We can't possibly." So, I mean, probably that is why -- and this is very worked-on language that was worked at, so that is why this is reading the way that it is reading. O.K.? And I'm not going to change a word of it. Q But you intend that a conclusion one way or another is going to be reached and become known. MS. TUTWILER: I don't know. I mean, they haven't left. I can't even tell you who the head is. I mean, I don't -- how do I know? Q Is this an inspection visit or investigation? MS. TUTWILER: It's what I've said it is. Q Margaret, is this something that the U.S. has to undertake by law -- MS. TUTWILER: Excuse me? Q Is this something the Administration has to do by law under the Export Control Act as opposed to Israel suggesting or -- MS. TUTWILER: I don't know. I didn't ask that question. I'll be happy to ask if it's something we're legally obligated to do. I don't know. Q Margaret, the -- MS. TUTWILER: No one's ever -- excuse me. No one's ever raised that and said, "We're doing this, because we have to under the law," so I don't know. Q The Patriot is a new allegation. Can we draw from the rather narrow nature of this upcoming trip that the technology transfer issues that were raised in the IG's investigation have already been aired with the Israelis and discussed? MS. TUTWILER: I have said, I believe, yesterday that -- I can't remember what I said. Wait a second. Q Probably the truth. MS. TUTWILER: It's always the truth. That's why I'm so careful. Q I read what you said yesterday -- MS. TUTWILER: I know, and I'm trying to remember. Wait one second. I'm trying to remember. I'm going to take your question. I don't want to answer this without checking on at what point -- since this is not a finished investigation -- at what point did we or did we not, as a Government, talk to the Israelis. So let me just take your question, okay, so that I answer it literally and accurately. Q This is not -- this does not involve the IG, though. Is that correct? MS. TUTWILER: This? Q Right. MS. TUTWILER: Correct. Q This team is not connected to the IG. The IG is totally separate. MS. TUTWILER: That is my understanding of this, and, in fact, yesterday we posted at the end of the briefing -- I'll read it for you -- a statement, because I was asked many of these questions. I believe it was Chris who kept asking me yesterday about OIG teams, and we gave you the answer yesterday that OIG teams are routinely sent out to facilities overseas to conduct audits and inspections. However, the Office of the Inspector General is not involved with the planned travel of U.S. experts to Israel to review technology transfer issues, including the Patriot missile. Q Well, is it fair, then, to assume that this upcoming trip of these experts, about which you've been talking this morning, has to do with the fact that there were stories made public about technology transfer and is a reaction to those stories? MS. TUTWILER: My understanding is that this mission, this team, is specific. If you remember, there have been a number of irresponsible leaks over the last several days. Q I just call them stories. You call them "irresponsible leaks." MS. TUTWILER: Leaks. Right. I call them irresponsible leaks. And so it's my understanding that this mission is a mission specific. But could, yes, they discuss other things, because, as you know, there are other additional leaks. Q Then my question -- MS. TUTWILER: Yes, I guess they could. But our report is not a final report yet. Q My question really goes to the reason for sending this team. Would you have sent this team if that hadn't become public -- if those stories hadn't appeared, or whatever you call them -- leaks, was it? MS. TUTWILER: I'll be happy to look into that for you.

[Turkey: Violence in Istanbul]

Q Margaret, violence in Istanbul. Is there any -- I see travel advisories come out with a greater frequency than ever, and you had one about East Jerusalem the other day. There has been a lot of -- what am I trying to say -- crime, attacks -- I don't know what you call it. MS. TUTWILER: Crime in Istanbul? Q Well, they seem to be fundamentalist-linked. And I wondered if the Administration has any special concern about what's going on, as Turkey tries to hold the line against fundamentalism? MS. TUTWILER: My understanding, Barry, on this bomb this morning is that no one's claimed responsibility for it, and that it was detonated, indeed, in the police headquarters offices, and that no one was -- I believe I'm correct -- no one was hurt. This morning there were early reports on a network -- American network, saying that so and so had claimed responsibility. It's our understanding we have no evidence of someone claiming responsibility. Q That's what I meant. Q Thank you. MS. TUTWILER: Thank you all. (The briefing concluded at 12:28 p.m.)