US Department of State Daily Briefing #42: Friday, 3/20/92

Boucher Source: State Department Deputy Spokesman Richard Boucher Description: Washington, DC Date: Mar, 20 19923/20/92 Category: Briefings Region: MidEast/North Africa, Eurasia, East Asia, South America, E/C Europe Country: Iraq, Israel, USSR (former), Libya, Georgia, Venezuela, Cambodia, Czechoslovakia (former), Yugoslavia (former) Subject: Military Affairs, Mideast Peace Process, Arms Control, CSCE, Regional/Civil Unrest, State Department, Media/Telecommunications, Democratization 12:37 P. M. (ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED)

[Arms Control: Open Skies Treaty to Be Signed at CSCE]

MR. BOUCHER: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. If I can, I'd like to start off by telling you something about the Open Skies Treaty which is due to be initialed in Vienna tomorrow. The Open Skies Treaty is going to be initialed March 21 -- that's tomorrow -- by the heads of our negotiating delegations in Vienna. It's scheduled to be signed on March 24 by heads of delegations of the 24 participating countries during the opening of the Helsinki follow-up conference of the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe. This Treaty establishes a structure for unarmed observation flights over all the territories of the signatories from Vancouver to Vladivostok. President Bush proposed this initiative in May of 1989 when the world was on the threshold of revolutionary developments. It was proposed as a confidence-building measure to consolidate and promote the trends towards openness that had already begun at that time. The Open Skies Treaty represents the most wide-ranging international effort to date to promote openness and transparency in military forces and activities. The Treaty establishes an annual number of flights a participating state may conduct as well as the number it is willing to receive. For example, the U.S. and Russia each have a quota of 42. The Treaty sets out the number, the type and the capabilities of sensors that are to be used. The accession of new participants, the enhancement of sensors and the adjustment of overflight quotas are all flexible elements of the Treaty. The United States actively participated in the Open Skies negotiations, and we will continue our contributions to the successful implementation of the Treaty. While the Treaty is separate from the CSCE, we believe that Open Skies will contribute to the openness and confidence-building that are central to that process. We welcome the initialing of this significant achievement that will further contribute to reducing regional tensions. Let me provide you with a little more information, since some of us might not remember the entire history of the Open Skies negotiations. The idea -- I think the phrase itself -- was first proposed by President Eisenhower at the Geneva Conference in 1955. President Bush reformulated the Open Skies idea in his May 1989 proposal. Formal negotiations on an Open Skies Treaty began in Ottawa in February of 1990. They continued in Budapest in April and May of 1990, but they reached a stalemate. Following the stalemate at Ottawa and Budapest, the Open Skies negotiations were essentially on hold for over a year. As many of you remember from your travels with Secretary Baker during this period, this was a subject that he addressed numerous times, I remember, with Foreign Minister Shevardnadze. We were looking, during that period, to try to get the negotiations re-opened. But it was only after the abortive coup in Moscow in August of 1991 that the Soviet Union changed its position, so the negotiations recommenced in November 1991 in Vienna, leading to the initialing of a treaty in Vienna tomorrow. Q How many countries are going to sign? MR. BOUCHER: There are 24 countries that are going to sign. I mentioned the accession of new participants as one of the flexible elements of the Treaty. It's open to other countries within the CSCE framework. The countries that are going to sign the Treaty next week will be all 16 NATO countries, Byelarus, Bulgaria, the Czechoslovak Republic, Hungary, Poland, Romania, Russia and Ukraine. Q Is this the only phase of the Treaty? Shevardnadze suggested expanding it to open seas and open lands. Is there any interest in that? MR. BOUCHER: I believe this is the only phase of this particular treaty. Open lands is a phrase that's been used, I think, in a somewhat different context. Q You said that the -- you described the number of flights as a quota, I think, a quota of 42 flights for each of Russia and the U.S. Wasn't one of the problems in the stalemate period and perhaps even in the negotiations that followed a reluctance, shall we say, on the part of the United States to accept an unlimited number of flights? Didn't the U.S. in fact take a position that said that it wanted to limit the number of flights? MR. BOUCHER: I don't remember that, Ralph. Q Are there any restrictions on where the flights can go? MR. BOUCHER: I don't have a lot more detail right now. That's something I'll try to get for you either today, if I can, or at least by the time the Treaty is signed next week. It's basically open over all the territory of the signatories I've said. So whether there are minor, you know, flight safety or some other kind of restrictions in there, I don't know. Q And you said that accession by other countries was possible. Is it only accessible by the CSCE nations, or are there discussions underway with other nations? MR. BOUCHER: My understanding is it's open to the other CSCE countries. Q Richard, one of the issues was on sensors. If I remember correctly from Ottawa, the Soviet Union, as was, wanted all countries to be using the same technology, and the United States' position was that each country should use its own technology, the supposition being "ours is better than theirs." How was this one sorted out? MR. BOUCHER: That's another one of the details that I'm sure we'll provide when we can provide more information. As I understand it, the agreement provides the basic information on what the types and capabilities of sensors are. I think in fact in that area there are a few more details that are due to be worked out even after the signing. But it's basically, I think -- well, let me not try to hazard a guess. Q Who's going to sign for the United States? MR. BOUCHER: The head of our delegation to the Helsinki follow-up conference. Q And will that person be -- have the initials "J.A.B. III"? MR. BOUCHER: I don't have any more information on that, Alan, than what you've been provided previously.

[Libya: Draft UN Resolution on Compliance]

Q Richard, on Libya, what Margaret talked about yesterday was apparently only a partial description of what the United States, Britain and France are contemplating with respect to the embargo. She talked only about an air embargo. MR. BOUCHER: That's right. She said mandatory sanctions, including an air embargo. Q The reports from New York also talk about a weapons embargo and a reduction of diplomatic staffs, and so forth, in Tripoli. MR. BOUCHER: I know those reports are out there, George. It's not usually our practice to outline the various elements of U.N. resolutions before we do them. We made an exception to that yesterday with the air embargo because of the way it affects U.S. citizens, even those who are in Libya without valid passports, because when the resolution does pass we do expect that to be one component of it and then that will come into effect fairly quickly. And they need to know as far in advance as we can tell them that that's likely to happen. But at this point, if I can, I'd like to decline to specify the other elements. We're still working on a draft resolution. We're consulting with other U.N. Security Council members. As we've said before, Libya has not complied, and the draft resolution calls for the imposition of mandatory sanctions on Libya until such a time as it complies with the terms of the resolution. And there's been no date set yet for the vote. Q Have you any comment on reports that Libya may be willing to hand over these indicted individuals to the United Nations? MR. BOUCHER: The reports that I saw this morning, Alan, I think refer to that possibility from various sources. They weren't specific enough, I think, for us to offer a very detailed comment. We've seen those reports. We'd note that there have been several diplomatic initiatives that have been taken in an effort to gain Libyan compliance with the Security Council Resolutions. The Security Council members, as you know, are presently consulting on a draft resolution aimed at gaining such compliance. We have seen during the course of this process a number of statements and ideas out of the Libyans which we have said before seem designed to delay the process and to mask their failure to comply. We think the Resolution is very clear on what Libya has to do -- Resolution 731 -- and I guess our attitude at this point is "just do it." Q I've forgotten -- I'm not familiar with the details -- does the idea of turning them over to the U.N. Secretary General, as distinct from turning them over to the U.S., Britain and France, make any difference as far as the U.S. is concerned? MR. BOUCHER: The reports that we've seen don't really indicate what the Secretary General ought to do with them -- Q But my question is, does that matter to the U.S.? MR. BOUCHER: The demands, requirements, that were put out by the United States, the U.K. and France, which were endorsed in Security Council Resolution 731, I think -- I don't remember the exact language but they refer to turning them over to appropriate authorities -- in this case, for Lockerbie, the U.K. or U.S. -- for trial. Q Would the U.N. Secretary General -- could the U.N. Secretary General in the U.S. view play a role in that process? MR. BOUCHER: The U.N. in terms of the Resolution has played a role; if I remember correctly, Resolution 731 invited the Secretary General to send an envoy to Libya to gain their compliance. That envoy was sent. That envoy has returned. Libya still is not in compliance. So there was a role in gaining their compliance with the Resolution, but the basic fact is that Libya is not in compliance. Libya has tried various ways of delaying this, and we're proceeding with the steps that we think are necessary to gain full Libyan compliance. Q And would turning them over to the U.N. Secretary General be considered compliance by the United States? MR. BOUCHER: Compliance under the demands, we've said, is turning them over to judicial authorities for trial, cooperating fully with the investigations, disclosing everything it knows about the crime, offering compensation to the victims of the crime -- you'll remember that 441 innocent men, women and children were killed in these two bombings -- and, furthermore, ending all of Libya's support for terrorism.

[Former Soviet Union: US Aid/Operation Provide Hope]

Q Richard, could I ask you about Operation Provide Hope. Do you have any sort of an update on that, and are additional flights for Provide Hope being contemplated? MR. BOUCHER: At the end of Provide Hope -- that one segment of flights being staged primarily out of Frankfurt; I guess Frankfurt and Turkey were the places they came from -- they did a rundown. There were in the end, I think, ten more flights because they found $17 million more of medicines from Defense Department stocks. So there were 64 flights. I think it was 23 cities -- something like that. The effort, as I think Margaret said in her brief report to you guys on Monday, is going to be looking at sending other supplies that we have available by sea and rail, I think, principally. We have had some flights with supplies from various cities around the United States that have gathered up relief supplies, and those kinds of flights will continue. So it will be a variety of means. Q But there are no more flights on the order of Provide Hope, as far as you know -- that is, U.S. military supplies being gathered in Turkey or Frankfurt and flown from there? MR. BOUCHER: There may be some. There won't be -- we don't expect at this stage anything on the scale of Provide Hope in those two weeks of flights. That was in order to quickly get a fairly significant quantity of materials to places in all or virtually all the newly independent states. Having delivered those supplies and while continuing some flights, I think the effort now is going to focus on more inexpensive means of transportation. Q Richard, is the Bush Administration considering putting together a package of -- putting aid to the former Soviet Union into a package that would be presented to Capitol Hill separately from the foreign aid bill that's currently in the process on the Hill? MR. BOUCHER: Ralph, Margaret was asked that question yesterday in terms of packaging and putting forth what sort of proposals we might have eventually for the Hill. She said that that was something that was being discussed internally by the Secretary with his staff by and large, and that we really didn't have any proposals to lay out for you. That remains the situation today. Q But it is still being discussed internally? MR. BOUCHER: I think primarily internally, yes. Q Have there been any discussions with members of Congress on this subject? MR. BOUCHER: Throughout the preparation of the proposals -- as again I think Margaret said to you yesterday -- we've been talking to Congress. We've been talking to them since the coup about the issue of aid to the Soviet Union. The Secretary has testified. Margaret said, I believe yesterday, that we were aware of the possibility that we might have to look at the vehicles available for this. So that has been discussed, yes. Q Richard, does the Administration feel that the mood is perhaps a little bit more acceptable now in the Congress and elsewhere in the country for aid to the Soviet Union than it was in November or January after the speech by Nixon, after comments by Senators of both parties that this should not be a partisan issue? MR. BOUCHER: I don't think I can do comparisons, but I can sort of overall on this issue characterize our attitude and to some extent the way we want to work it. The President and Secretary have consistently stated that the success of democracy and free markets in Russia and the other Independent States is vital to the nation's national security. We fully support efforts by President Yeltsin and the other democrats, and we have been actively supporting reform in Russia and the other states of the former Soviet Union. We've pledged over $5 billion in support of weapons dismantlement, technical assistance, agricultural credits, and emergency humanitarian assistance. We are consulting with the other G-7 countries and with our other allies on additional steps we can take collectively to support reform. And, as I mentioned, all along we've been consulting with members of Congress. We want to continue to work in a bipartisan spirit to achieve this, because I think we all agree that it's important, as I said, to our nation's national security. Q Both Secretary Baker and actually a number of other Administration witnesses -- not all of them from the State Department -- have been confronted on the Hill, in their testimonies on this subject, with a sentiment among both Republicans and Democrats that unless the President chooses to make a pitch for such assistance that members of Congress who are up for election this year are not interested in going out there and proposing it themselves and then having the President or others say "Well, look, you've got trouble at home in the campaign -- you've got trouble at home -- why are you proposing 0foreign aid?" In response to that kind of comment from members of the Hill, does the Administration plan to make a pitch for this assistance, to take it out of the political arena during this election year? MR. BOUCHER: Ralph, I said we intended to keep working on this, we intended to keep working in the bipartisan spirit that we think typifies attitudes towards this problem. As for some specific Presidential pitch, that's a question I think better asked at the White House than here. I believe the last major proposals for assistance that were made were, in fact, made by the President at the Coordinating Conference here in January. You are aware, I think, of the things we've done in terms of humanitarian assistance: Operation Provide Hope, the various other flights that we've had in there with medical supplies. You're aware of the grain credits that we sent last year; technical teams that have already gone in -- plans for technical assistance. There's a whole number of things that we are doing, and we will continue to do things. There are other ideas that are out there that are in play. The President has addressed the question of the stabilization fund as being something that we were looking at. So we'll continue to do things. Q I was going to ask you about a number of other ideas that are out there, including the possibility of five, six, seven billion dollar stabilization fund; the $12 billion IMF contribution; and the potential for asking for more money than has been discussed up to date for direct aid to the former Soviet Union. Would you care to comment on any of those other ideas? MR. BOUCHER: The only one that I think I can address at this point is the IMF replenishment, which the Secretary, in his testimonies on the Hill, strongly supported. I think you've seen the reports that he and Secretary Brady sent a letter to the Hill expressing, again, how important it was for us to have this IMF increase so that we could be able to undertake these necessary projects.

[Iraq: Department Support for US Indictments in BNL Case]

Q Richard, can you tell us anything about reports in the New York Times today that the State Department tried to head off an investigation of the Bank Lavoro? MR. BOUCHER: Be glad to. There are just a couple of things that came up in the article. First of all, the State Department did not interfere in the Justice Department's criminal investigation into the activities of BNL. The issue was treated here as an law enforcement matter. As a matter of practice, I think you know the Justice Department routinely informs the State Department of developments in criminal investigations that may affect U.S. relations with foreign states. That practice was followed in this case. The issue was addressed on legal, not foreign policy grounds, as the Justice Department officials, I believe, have said. We supported the indictment of all of those persons and entities indicted by the Justice Department. The question arose of the Central Bank of Iraq. And on that question, together with the General Counsels from the Federal Reserve, the Export-Import Bank and the Departments of Treasury and Defense, the State Department's Legal Adviser opposed the indictment based on legal principles of foreign sovereign immunity, and the risks that our own Federal Reserve would become vulnerable to suits of a similar nature abroad. This legal judgment has nothing to do with the fact that the Central Bank in question was Iraqi. The same judgment would have been made with regard to any foreign central bank from whatever country. Q Did the State Department's opposition to those indictments result in a delay in the indictments? MR. BOUCHER: As I said, we supported the indictment of all the persons and entities that were indicted. We made our views known on the legal question of whether one should indict a central bank -- in this case, an Iraqi central bank -- and based on the principles of the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act, we, along with General Counsels from other organizations that might be affected, including the Federal Reserve, opposed that indictment because we felt that it would set a bad precedent that would put us at risk from similar suits overseas. Q Could you address the substance of my question, which was, did that result in a delay in the indictment? MR. BOUCHER: I don't know what the process or timetable they had for the indictments was. I guess that's something you would have to ask at Justice.

[Venezuela: Civil Unrest]

Q There have been new disturbances in Venezuela and arrests of army officers down there accused of conspiracy. Does the State Department -- is the U.S. Government concerned about the stability of the democratic government in Venezuela? MR. BOUCHER: There were some protests in several areas of Venezuela yesterday. We understand that the few incidents of violence were contained by security forces. In Caracas, there was a group of students who tried to march on government buildings but they were stopped. We think that President Perez has announced initiatives and programs to address the discontent that is troubling Venezuela, and we support President Perez and his freely-elected government. Q The Minister of Defense in Caracas objected to a statement made by Luigi Einaudi down there that the U.S. and the other governments of the Western hemisphere would automatically sever relations with any country when there was a military coup against a democratic government. Was that statement issued at the instructions of the State Department? MR. BOUCHER: I'm not aware of the Defense Minister's comments, so I didn't go back and look and see what Luigi Einaudi said. It sort of rings a bell -- there's something like that as part of the OAS understandings. I'm sure that since Luigi Einaudi is our Ambassador to the OAS that whatever he said on the subject is probably correct. Whether or not he's being correctly quoted, I don't know.

[Cambodia: Hun Sen's Meeting at the Department]

Q Richard, Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen is coming to the United States next week. Can you tell me who he will meet with in the Administration? MR. BOUCHER: He's going to be in the United States from March 23-28. I understand that most of that -- March 23-27 -- is in Washington. We are welcoming him to the United States in his capacity as a member of the Supreme National Council of Cambodia. With respect to his schedule, we're not handling his overall schedule. I believe he was invited by the Council of Foreign Relations. I'm not sure if they're handling the schedule or not. But as far as meetings with Department officials, we expect that he'll be seeing Under Secretary for Political Affairs Kanter and Assistant Secretary for East Asian Affairs Solomon. Q Why isn't he considered important enough to see somebody like the Secretary since he's not just a member of the Supreme National Council, as far as I'm aware? He's -- MR. BOUCHER: The head of the Supreme National Council is Prince Sihanouk. We don't explain, I think, why some people see us. It's not a question I can really answer for you, Alan. I think these are the meetings that are deemed appropriate. Whether he has other meetings or not is not something I can answer at this point. Q Richard, coming back for a second to John's questions, and I'm over my head on the legal thing of the sovereignty act -- the Foreign Sovereign Immunity Act? MR. BOUCHER: Yes. Q When did the Administration begin being concerned about Iraq's sovereignty, and when did it end being concerned about Iraq's sovereignty? Would it be fair to say that on January 16, the Administration decided that Iraqi sovereignty doesn't apply? MR. BOUCHER: Ralph, those two things have nothing to do with each other. Q In what way are they different? MR. BOUCHER: The question of sovereignty as applied to a country like Iraq is something that we've spoken of before. It's a question of sovereignty, territorial integrity, the policy that we have that says that we don't believe in dismemberment of Iraq. The Foreign Sovereign Immunities laws -- or act, I guess it is -- addresses the status of government entities, as they pertain to the law. In this case, you have the question of a central bank, which is the government's monetary arm, and whether you can indict -- under the principles of those laws -- whether you can indict a government entity of that sort. And based on our interpretation of the principles of foreign sovereign immunity, we felt that to have the U.S. Government do that to a central bank would have put our central bank -- the Federal Reserve, and possibly other similar entities -- at risk of having that precedent applied to us overseas. We felt that under our interpretation of the -- under the principles of the Foreign Sovereign Immunities laws, that that was not the right thing to do. Q This has nothing to do with our desire to maintain good relations with Iraq? MR. BOUCHER: Our judgments -- the way we addressed the matter -- was purely from a matter of the legal questions. As I said, we supported the indictment or the entities and the individuals who were indicted. We opposed this one question on the legal basis only. Q I would like to return to that question of the OAS. You said Luigi Einaudi is a representative to the OAS, and they may have a policy of severing relations. But is that U.S. policy? If there is a military coup in any hemispheric government, including -- I'm not talking about Haiti; I'm talking about important countries, too -- would the United States sever relations? Is that the policy? MR. BOUCHER: Every country in the hemisphere -- probably around the world -- is important to us. Let me make that clear. I don't have a formulation for you like that. I remember statements similar to that made at the OAS around the time of the coup in Haiti. I assume that we made them as well. Anyway, you can check further with the OAS. If it's an OAS resolution, then I think you'll find us having supported it.

[Israel: Ed Koch Column/Reported Transfer of US Patriot Technology/Visit of US Expert Team]

Q Richard, just to pick up on something that we talked about yesterday. Has the Secretary seen or responded in any way to the article in the New York Times by Leslie Gelb this morning? MR. BOUCHER: As yesterday, we don't do columnists. Q So in the case of Gelb, no comment; in the case of Safire, no comment; in the case of Koch -- I'm just trying to figure out where the exceptions are made and where they aren't. This one is not. MR. BOUCHER: I don't think there is any rule on exceptions, and there's probably exceptions to the rule on exceptions, if there is one, Ralph. Margaret explained that yesterday.

[Georgia: US Recognition and Aid]

Q Richard, a question on the meeting in Helsinki next week. One of the issues to be raised there is recognition of Georgia. Germany and France say that Shevardnadze needs all the help he can get and that he's sufficient evidence for them that Georgia is going to embark on the road towards democracy. Secretary Baker, of course, is Shevardnadze's friend and has many times expressed admiration and respect for his views. Does the United States share this view that he needs help and should get it in recognition of the country he now leads? MR. BOUCHER: I haven't seen statements like that from the Europeans. I think the Secretary before has described the process, the principles that we would proceed with with relations to Georgia. To the extent that Shevardnadze moves things in a positive direction, that certainly would be most welcome, but I don't have anything new on the question of recognition at this point. Q On the question of aid, though, to Georgia, is it still the U.S. point of view that it is not "safe" to deliver aid to Georgia? MR. BOUCHER: I'd have to check. I'd have to see if there's anything going in there now or planned at this point.

[Former Yugoslavia/Czechoslovakia: Status of US Recognition of Republics]

Q Is the review on recognition of the Yugoslav republics progressing and about to conclude? MR. BOUCHER: As the Secretary said at his press conference in Brussels, it's something that we would focus our attention on, that we would continue to talk to the European Community member states and European Commission about. I think he pointed out that they have a meeting on the subject planned in early April and that we would keep in touch until then. Q Can we get something on the meeting with Dienstbier this afternoon? MR. BOUCHER: I'll see if I can get you a readout. Q Richard, with the Patriot team having gone off and their mission seeming to be very focused on a physical inspection of the Patriot batteries as opposed to something more broad -- now, I guess, we're going to have the IG report in a week or so; is that right? I'm just wondering, are there any other follow-ups to the -- or this is not a follow-up to the IG's report -- are there any other missions in the area of technology transfer that we can expect dealing with more broad questions than the Patriot? MR. BOUCHER: These -- again, doing all this without reference to specific news reports or implications of what may be in those reports that are yet to come from the Inspector General, the issue of technology transfers and our cooperation with Israel has been something that we've discussed before. There was a team that was actually out there about a week or so ago that resulted from a request by the Israelis -- I think it was last fall -- for more information on our laws and regulations. We had a team of people out there that was talking to government and industry people. I think it was about a week ago. I'm sure there are probably other discussions going on as well. Q Thank you. (Press briefing concluded at 1:10 p.m.)