US Department of State Daily Briefing #47: Friday, 3/27/92

Boucher Source: State Department Deputy Spokesman Richard Boucher Description: Washington, DC Date: Mar, 27 19923/27/92 Category: Briefings Region: MidEast/North Africa, Eurasia, Europe, Subsaharan Africa, East Asia Country: Iraq, Israel, USSR (former), Turkey, India, Libya, China, Angola Subject: Military Affairs, Mideast Peace Process, Terrorism, Regional/Civil Unrest, Human Rights 12:12 P.M. (ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED)

[Turkey: Reported Air Strikes for PKK Terrorism-- US Condemns Terrorist Attacks]

MR. BOUCHER: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. I don't have any statements or announcements. As a matter of fact, I don't have much of anything, but I'd be glad to take your questions. Q Let's try you on the -- let's return, if we may, to the Kurdish situation in Turkey. MR. BOUCHER: Sure. Q The German Government now, convinced that German equipment was used in the attacks, has taken action to end all arms, or at least suspend, arms flows to Turkey. Does the U.S. know if any U.S. equipment was used against the Kurds? And whether it was or wasn't, is there anything the United States is considering along similar lines? MR. BOUCHER: Barry, I haven't checked to see if there was any U.S. equipment used. Our views on the situation, I think, we've expressed to you. It's the same views today as we've held in previous days. And, no, we're not considering any suspension. Q Richard, on this, human rights groups are concerned that civilians have been killed. The numbers quoted are 75. Do you have nothing to say about that? MR. BOUCHER: Civilians killed in -- Q Kurdish civilians. MR. BOUCHER: I don't have any numbers, Alan. As you know, we've urged the Turks to take every possible step to avoid the death or injury of innocent civilians, and certainly we regret any that have taken place. Q Do you have any comment on this German decision to suspend aid to Turkey -- a NATO ally suspending its cooperation with another NATO ally over this issue? MR. BOUCHER: I believe, Ralph, it's my understanding -- and this is something you'll have to check with the German Government -- the terms under which they have supplied the equipment are perhaps different from the terms under which we supply equipment and their questioning whether a violation of those terms might have occurred; whether it was being used consistent with those terms. It's really a matter for them to work out. Q Could you roughly go over -- generally go over -- the terms, if you have them? MR. BOUCHER: No, I -- Q I suppose it's the same as terms for any military equipment because it keeps coming up with Israel. It's basically the same thing -- I suppose you mean for civil defense? MR. BOUCHER: You mean for us? Q Yeah, as far as the U.S. is concerned. MR. BOUCHER: For us, I think it's basically Section 4 of the Arms Export Control Act that defines a number of areas that U.S. military equipment can be used in. I don't have the full list with me today. But when we're dealing with friendly countries, and particularly allies, internal security and legitimate self-defense are among the needs. Q Richard, is the United States concerned about the fact that these raids are taking place across an internationally-accepted border and, in fact, an incursion into another country's territory? MR. BOUCHER: John, I think, first of all, you have to tell me which raids you're concerned about. The ones going from -- Q The Turkish cross-border raids. MR. BOUCHER: -- Iraq into Turkey or the ones from Turkey retaliating back into Iraq. The fact is, we're dealing with a situation up there -- Q Is your opinion different on those two? MR. BOUCHER: I think our opinion is the same, that we're dealing with a situation in this area that is one where Turkey has faced terrorist attacks from this group, the PKK, which we've always described as a terrorist group. We have understood that Turkey -- the fact that they have responded. We've recognized that. They have been responding to attacks of terrorist activity that's occurred. Our position has been that we have welcomed the efforts that they've made to act with restraint. We've urged them to do everything possible to avoid the loss of innocent life. When they've crossed the border to Iraq, we've urged that they complete their operations as quickly as possible. So that's been our view of the situation there. Q But, in fact, you have no words of condemnation to say about the fact that these attacks on both sides are taking place across an international border? MR. BOUCHER: I think our condemnation is for the fact that these attacks by the terrorist groups are, in fact, taking place. Turkey is faced with a threat, and they're going to have to deal with it, and we hope they deal with it in a manner that we have described. Q Richard, the Kurds in Iraq have been subject to a blockade by Saddam Husayn for months now. This is contrary to Resolution 688 of the Security Council. It would seem to some observers that the United States is pursuing Resolution 687, which requires Iraq to dismantle its unconventional weapons, with somewhat more energy than it's pursuing 688, which requires that Iraq treat its citizens decently. What do you say to that criticism? MR. BOUCHER: I think that criticism is unfounded, Alan. In fact, I hadn't heard it until you just voiced it right now. But I would say that if you look at 688, if my memory is correct, there are a number of things in there. I would say that one of the things that we have done in furtherance of the objectives to 688 is that the United Nations and the international community, including the United States, have funneled money and support for the citizens in the north of Iraq -- the Kurdish citizens -- as well as people in other parts of the country where we have been able to get access to them. The U.N. has humanitarian centers. There are shelter programs, lodging programs, food that's been given. You're aware that Provide Comfort -- the operation there -- has helped out. So I would say that the international community has done quite a bit to assist the citizens that are being harmed by the Government of Iraq. Q Why doesn't the international community and the United States, for instance, demand that Saddam Husayn lift his blockade of the Kurds in the north in the same way that it is demanding that he destroy certain facilities within his own country? MR. BOUCHER: I haven't heard that idea discussed, Alan. Q Well, let me put it to you, that the United States and the international community -- MR. BOUCHER: Why not do something -- Q -- could, if it wanted, force Saddam Husayn to lift that blockade in the same way that it is forcing him to get rid of his unconventional weapons? MR. BOUCHER: We appreciate the suggestion, Alan. Thank you.

[Angola: Reports of Hyuman Rights Abuses by UNITA/Disappearance of Officials]

Q Richard, on Angola: Have we had any recent communication directly with Jonas Savimbi concerning the disappearances of Tito Chingunji and Dr. Wilson dos Santos? MR. BOUCHER: Margaret talked about that at the briefing yesterday. Q Right. Have we had any direct communications with Savimbi on it recently? MR. BOUCHER: As I think Margaret said yesterday, it's something that we've discussed with them that we've raised before. I'll have to check and see if we've talked about it personally with Savimbi recently. Q She said that she thought there was more credibility to the charges than before. Have U.S. diplomats talked with Tony Fernandes or Miguel Nzau Puna in the last week or so? MR. BOUCHER: I don't know. Q You don't know if they've talked at all? MR. BOUCHER: No. Q Are we setting any deadline at all on when Savimbi should respond? MR. BOUCHER: Again, as Margaret explained yesterday, this is something that we've raised. This is something that we've urged them to look into and investigate. At the same time, we don't think it should detract from the process of the peace accords, so that's our basic position on that. Q Is the State Department prepared to, say, play a part in an independent investigation to find out what happened to these two men, as -- MR. BOUCHER: Again, I haven't heard such a suggestion. I'd have to check. Q Richard, are we concerned about the safety of the children of Chingunji and some of the others? And Fernandes still has family in there, too. Are we -- MR. BOUCHER: You're way beyond me on this one. I don't know anything about the particular circumstances of the individuals. I'm sure that we are concerned about the welfare of anyone's family, and certainly concerned about the disappearances of these individuals, and that would extend to families as well. Q Are there any possible repercussions if they don't respond satisfactorily? MR. BOUCHER: Again, Margaret gave our policy on that yesterday. I'll stick with that. Q Richard, any news on the Ambassadorial nomination to the Ukraine? MR. BOUCHER: Marlin Fitzwater announced that this morning. Q It was made official? MR. BOUCHER: Yes.

[India: Reported Arrest Warrant for Former Union Carbide Chairman]

Q Richard, the court in India has issued an arrest warrant for the retired chairman of Union Carbide in the Bophal disaster, leading, I suppose, to an extradition request. Does the State Department have any problem with facilitating his going there? MR. BOUCHER: I'll have to get the lawyers to look at that, Barry. You would have to ask the Government of India whether they were putting forward or had put forward any sort of extradition request. I don't know what the circumstances might be with regard to extradition treaties and the like. Q If there's anything, can we get it later on? MR. BOUCHER: Sure.

[Turkey: Further Discussion of Kurds]

Q Richard, back to the Kurds briefly. Just to clarify the U.S. position, the United States considers the cross-border strikes a legitimate act of national defense by Turkey? MR. BOUCHER: I'll say what I had to say and stick to that. I don't want to -- which was what I said today, what Margaret said yesterday: That there is considerable PKK terrorist activity directed against Turkish officials and innocent civilians in Turkey's southeast. We have welcomed the Turkish Government's efforts to act with restraint in response to these provocations. We've also urged that every possible step be taken to avoid the death or injury of innocent civilians. We've also encouraged the Turkish Government to improve its human rights record overall and to ensure that all of its citizens are treated with respect. We believe that the fight against terrorism and respect for human rights must go hand-in-hand. Q I've read that statement upside down, backwards, many times. I don't see anywhere where it says whether the United States thinks this is a legitimate act of national defense? MR. BOUCHER: Again, I'm going to describe it the way we've described it. That's what I have to say. Q You've used the phrases a few minutes ago: "Internal security and legitimate self-defense," in an earlier answer. Was that -- MR. BOUCHER: I was asked, "What does our law specify in terms of how U.S. equipment can be used?" Those are two of the items on the list. Q And those are not applied -- are those two items applied against Turkey? MR. BOUCHER: I'm not trying to characterize the situation other than I have so far, Ralph. Q But you answered that question in the context of questions about equipment sold to Turkey; is that correct? MR. BOUCHER: That is Section 4 of the Arms Export Control Act. I can get you the whole law, if you want it. Q No, that's all right.

[Israel: Reported Transfer of US Patriot Technology]

Q Do you have anything more to say about the IG's report -- when we might expect it and how you're planning to handle the report of the Patriot inspection team? MR. BOUCHER: On both of these, I wouldn't hold your breath over the weekend. The Patriot team, as Margaret said, will get back over the weekend. It could be as late as late Sunday night. My guess is that they'll want to report to senior officials in the Administration and talk to them first. My guess is that on that, as Margaret promised, we will have something to say, but I'm not even sure that it would be Monday that we would have it to say. Q When do we start holding our breaths? MR. BOUCHER: When we tell you to, George. We'll tell you some time next week when it's time to start. On the IG's report, we've checked with them again, and they're looking at it for the end of month which is next week. It's less clear precisely when that public portion will be released. Q And, Richard, do you expect that at the United Nations -- when the Libya resolution comes up, do you expect China to vote with the United States? MR. BOUCHER: You'll have to ask China how it's going to vote. We're not into predicting people's votes. Q You haven't counted noses at all? You don't have any idea how they might vote? MR. BOUCHER: We don't stand up here and predict other people's votes, John. Q Richard, can we go to Ukraine for a second. President Kravchuk said in New Delhi that actually the Commonwealth doesn't exist, and that they could secede if -- their efforts will be based on the principles the Ukrainians are promoting. MR. BOUCHER: I hadn't seen those remarks, and it doesn't sound like something that we should be commenting on. The relationships between the countries in the Commonwealth is for them to decide. Q Richard, the last Libyan resolution was unanimously approved by the Security Council. Is the Administration confident that it can get a unanimous vote this time? MR. BOUCHER: Barry, we have never stood up here in advance of U.N. votes and tried to predict how the vote's going to turn out. I'm sorry. Q Do you still think that vote's going to happen today? MR. BOUCHER: We didn't say it would happen today. It should happen as soon as today, allowing for the processes that work their ways in the United Nations. My understanding is there will be an informal meeting of the Security Council this afternoon. Whether that leads to a vote today or after the weekend, I'm not sure. Q Richard, could you give us a list some time next week -- take this -- of the Section 4 violations and what the Department has ever done under Section 4 in the last five or ten years? MR. BOUCHER: Probably not. I'm not aware that such a list exists. I'm not sure -- as we've said, the Inspector General is looking into this area; that he expects to have a report, and that portions of that report will be classified, but that the public portions we would be glad to discuss with you at that time. I don't know whether such a list or such a discussion will be in there. But, if it's part of that and it's part of the public portion, we'll be glad to talk about it at that time. Q As a follow-up, can I ask a question about the convertible U.S. military aid for Israel in 1993? There's a report that that's going to be eliminated or cut back drastically for $457 million, and that the Administration has already transmitted this to the Israeli Government. Would you be able to comment or take that question? MR. BOUCHER: I'm not aware of the report, and I'm not aware of the specific money in question, so I'm afraid I don't have anything for you. Q Richard, could you give us any indication as to when Secretary Baker will be ready to start formal consultations with the Hill on this aid package to the former Soviet Union? MR. BOUCHER: No, I can't at this point. As Margaret said, he's discussed this internally within the State Department and reached some decisions; that he's talked about it with other people in the Administration. It's come up in some discussions with members of Congress, but at this point he hasn't started any formal consultations. Q Are you waiting for that continuing resolution to -- something must happen to it before you start the formal consultations on the Hill? MR. BOUCHER: Again, I don't have any sort of timetable for you. Q What's the relationship between those consultations and that aid package and bits and pieces, such as the one announced by the White House this morning, for purchase of technology -- space technology from Russia? Is there any relationship between those two? I mean, some of us would have assumed that perhaps these sorts of things would be swept under the same rubric, but I guess they aren't. MR. BOUCHER: Marlin was asked these sorts of questions this morning, and I think I'd like to stick with him. You know, there are many things that we're doing with regard to the New Independent States. Some of them are funded; some of them are not. We've been -- as I think we've said before to you -- we've been looking at the ways of getting the funding we need, legislative vehicles and questions of how to proceed. At this point, I don't have any specifics on how to announce as to how we might do that. Q So is sort of the key thing there that things that you have money for you can go ahead with at any point and don't need to be coordinated, in effect, with the rest of the package, and things that you don't have funding for that's what you're working on separately? MR. BOUCHER: No, I don't think I was saying that. I was just saying that we're not dead in the water. We have money for some things, and we're moving forward, as we've tried to make clear in some of the specifics that we've been reporting to you every week.

[Former Soviet Union: Travel Advisories]

Q Richard, do you happen to know if the string has run out on the countries that once were in the Soviet Union for which the U.S. State Department is issuing travel advisories? Two or three come out a day. I wondered, have we reached the bottom line yet? MR. BOUCHER: We've moved at lightning speed, Barry. [Laughter]. Q Yes. But thoroughly. MR. BOUCHER: Thoroughly. Q No. I just wondered if you had any more? MR. BOUCHER: You'll remember that yesterday we were asked, and I think within a couple of hours of being asked how quickly the others would come out, we said "lightning speed," and they were out a couple hours later. Q Well, those three -- MR. BOUCHER: My understanding is that we've done all 12. Q There are advisories for all 12? MR. BOUCHER: For all 12. Q Wouldn't it be easier to just issue advisories where people are suggested they could go? You have half the world off -- I mean -- MR. BOUCHER: Well, as Margaret said yesterday, we now have 90-some various kinds of advisories. These 12 mirror to a very great extent the advisory that we had on the U.S.S.R., and they allow people who are going to specific places to get a little more additional information that's specific to that place, particularly the locations and phone numbers of U.S. Embassies. Q There are advisories on all 12 at this point? MR. BOUCHER: Yes -- to follow on. But, as Margaret said, we have these things for some 90 countries in the world, and that we were looking at this very appropriately and very urgently to see if we couldn't make the system a little bit better. Q Could you explain the difference why, for example, as far as advisory for Russia was concerned, was the word "warning," and as far as Ukraine and Byelarus, it was "caution." So basically what is the difference between the two? MR. BOUCHER: The word "warning" means that in the advisory there is some place that we are urging Americans not to go to. In the case of these advisories that came out, there are certain specific places; I think, in Russia, it's Chechen-Ingush region. So, if we're telling people, "You shouldn't really go there right now," or our advice is that, "You shouldn't go there right now," then it becomes a warning. That just flags it for the people. Q What is the lowest level of warning? "Warning," "caution," whatever? MR. BOUCHER: There are warnings, cautions, and then we've had something in the past called "travel notices" that usually deal with things like hotel shortages and a few other things like that. So "caution" is something that we think Americans should be aware of. But at this point, you know, I want to emphasize what Margaret emphasized yesterday: That there are a lot of these. We think it's useful to provide information to American travelers, but we think this thing needs a look, and we're going to take a pretty urgent look at it -- at the whole system. Q It's pretty rare that the State Department acknowledges any inconsistency in its policy, but the fact that you're reviewing it urgently on the very same day that you issue a blizzard of a dozen advisories about a nation with whom you are on the very same day discussing a massive aid program, suggests that's there's some, at least dissonance, in handling this. MR. BOUCHER: Well, you might call it the straw that broke the camel's back, Ralph. I think in dealing with these 12 advisories, as well as many of the others that we've done recently, people felt that we ought to be looking for a better, more efficient system of getting the information to American travelers that they need, recognizing, for example, that in these whole 12 advisories, there are very few places that we were advising Americans it might not be good to go to. You know, specific regions like Nagorno-Karabakh, the Armenian-Azerbaijani border, the Trans-Dniester region in Moldova. I think we have some advice on Chechen-Ingush. I mean, if you look at the territory covered by this, these are very small portions, and most of the other information -- Q If you look at territory covered by the specific paragraphs you just mentioned, yes. But if you look at the territory covered by the 12 advisories, it's pretty big. MR. BOUCHER: No. That's what I mean. The territory to which we have some advice as to the advisability of going or not going versus the total territory covered by these 12 advisories, it's a very, very small portion of all that. At the same time, we're also providing some useful information, we think, to Americans about how -- where the U.S. Embassy is in these places where we've just set up U.S. Embassies, and information about visa requirements that may be in transition. You know, status of medical facilities, a few of the problems they might encounter along the way with flights. Q Just a point of curiosity, how do ordinary Americans get their hands on these travel advisories? MR. BOUCHER: Well, there are a lot of different ways. There's a phone number that people can call at the State Department that I don't quite remember right now, and then they get the recording. They've got a menu and a touchtone phone that gets you to the one you want. And one of the reasons that this was done was to make it possible so that somebody going to Moldova, for example, might be able to access the Moldova travel advisory and not just hear that there was something for the Soviet Union which he may think doesn't exist any more. So there's the phone number that people can call. These are sent out to travel agents, to airlines, people like that, which often may give them to travelers heading to a specific place. I know they're on various computer bulletin boards, and they're available from the State Department for people who call. I'm sure Embassies and Consulates also have them as well. They go to all our Embassies and Consulates. Q Do you have any comment here about that trade agreement with the Soviet Union -- the Topaz and the Plutonium? MR. BOUCHER: No. I think Marlin covered that fairly well over there. He was putting out a fact sheet, and I think providing some more information over there, so I'll leave it to him. Q You frequently, however, speak on the same subjects. As you know, they don't speak on camera over there, and this seems like a fairly noteworthy development -- buying plutonium from the old Soviet Union and nuclear space reactors, and yet no one has anything to say for camera. MR. BOUCHER: Pat, they had plenty to say over at the White House. I'm sorry it's not on camera, but it's been said. Q Thank you. Q Mr. Boucher -- MR. BOUCHER: You got one more -- two more. Q Is there a -- I'm not too familiar with this one, so maybe you know more about this than I do. I was told that there is a United Nations report that deals with terrorism which the United States apparently didn't vote for or didn't participate in because it named Syria, among other countries, as a terrorist nation, and that the U.S. declined to support that. Are you aware of that at all? MR. BOUCHER: Ralph, you're wrong. Q Wrong? O.K. MR. BOUCHER I don't know more about this than you do. [Laughter] I know nothing about this. I'll have to check on it. Q Well, I'm glad you had the opportunity to say I was wrong. [Laughter] MR. BOUCHER: We got one more in the back. Sorry. Q That was for camera. [Laughter] Q I'm sorry, I don't know if you covered this before I came in, but could you comment on a letter that was sent by Representative Gejdenson, demanding the release of two cables by State Department officers in China on a Chinese prison labor factory site? Are you familiar with that? MR. BOUCHER: I'm not familiar with a letter from Gejdenson, but, if I'm correct, this has to do with some visits and investigations that our Consulate General in Guangzhou made some time ago. And I'm familiar with the general situation. I don't have the dates in my head, but some time -- I think it was last year -- our Consulate General in Guangzhou -- some of the officers -- visited a factory which they were concerned about in terms that it might be producing prison labor items for export, and they were not allowed in. And that this matter has been followed up with the Chinese Government. I can get you more on that if you need it. Q Thank you. (The briefing concluded at 12:37 p.m.)