US Department of State Daily Briefing #52: Monday, 4/6/92

Boucher Source: State Department Deputy Spokesman Richard Boucher Description: Washington, DC Date: Apr, 6 19924/6/92 Category: Briefings Region: MidEast/North Africa, Eurasia, Subsaharan Africa, Southeast Asia, E/C Europe, South America Country: Israel, USSR (former), Syria, Peru, Yugoslavia (former), Japan, Zaire, Thailand, Moldova, Iran, South Africa, Botswana, Angola, Lesotho, Mozambique, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Swaziland Subject: Mideast Peace Process, Development/Relief Aid, Science/Technology, Resource Management, OAS, State Department, Security Assistance and Sales 12:58 P.M. (ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED)

[Former Soviet Union: Freedom Support Act and Aid]

MR. BOUCHER: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. I'm sorry I'm late. If you'll indulge me, I'd like to start by giving you the regular Monday update of significant events and new aid to the Newly Independent States. I'll just update you on a couple of areas. The President, I think as you know from the White House statement, transmitted the Freedom Support Act of 1992 to the Congress on Friday. In terms of airlifts, we've got the following airlifts coming up. In these following ones, the U.S. will pay the fuel, navigation, and landing costs, and they'll use Soviet aircraft. There's a flight with 160,000 pounds of medicine, medical supplies and equipment, and foodstuffs that will go from Milwaukee on behalf of the Children of Chernobyl Relief Fund. This will leave about April 7. The Broadmore United Methodist Church in Shreveport, Lousiana, has collected 240,000 pounds of foodstuffs. They'll be shipped about April 11 to Yekaterinburg. There's a flight of medical supplies, food, and clothing. It will go from Lacrosse, Wisconsin to its sister city, Dubna, Russia, about the end of this week. There have been shipments to Tajikistan and Turkmenistan March 30 of Project Hope's medical and pharmaceutical shipments. This brings the total of Project Hope shipments to more than $30 million. Additional shipments are scheduled for Minsk and Kaliningrad later this month. We've got four AID energy teams that departed over the weekend for Russia, Armenia, Belarus, and Ukraine to carry out energy audits. They'll be about three weeks out in the field, and we also expect the team to go to Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan, leaving about April 11. We're going to airlift a group of oil well specialists and their equipment to Uzbekistan in order to cap an oil well which has blown out in Mingbulak, in Eastern Uzbekistan. Funding for the airlift will involve up to six C-141 aircraft from the U.S. Air Force. Funding will come from the Emergency Humanitarian Account administered by the Defense Department. We expect it to cost about $800,000. It's important to contain spillage from this well because the oil could leak into a nearby river and threaten drinking water. They'll launch this operation once the American firm handling the blowout indicates that it's ready to move. Q What's the name of the firm? MR. BOUCHER: Wild Wells; Wild Well. I'm not sure if that's international, incorporated, or company, but that's them. I've heard of them before. Q It's Red Adair's confirmation. MR. BOUCHER: Is it Red Adair or not? AID's Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance has signed a $2 million contract with CARE on March 31. The grant has three components: One is monitoring distribution of Defense Department supplies; second, is assisting U.S. private voluntary organizations involved in the distribution of U.S. Department of Agriculture commodities; and the third one is developing a system of indicators to monitor the most vulnerable groups in the newly independent states. The trade and investment area: You know that Secretary Baker, with the Armenian Deputy Prime Minister, signed trade and OPIC agreements last week; and then he signed a OPIC agreement with Russia last Friday as well. Information and exchanges: The USIA has been hosting some visits. Last week there was one by three top Armenian legislators. About April 15, they expect the chief of staff of the President of Kyrgyzstan to come for some training on how a chief of staff operates. His counterparts from Kazakhstan and Armenia has also accepted invitations. It's actually how to set up and run an effective Executive Office. They'll be in Washington and in Idaho. Q Watch out for frequent flying. MR. BOUCHER: Embassy Moscow just signed some contracts with three Russian publishers to translate and publish American books on our history, economics and business. The publisher is the publisher of the Russian PEN Center, and they're going to publish USIA's outline of American History, the outline of American Economy, and something called American Life and Institutions. Moscow University Press is going to put out Macroeconomics by Dornbusch ∧ Fischer, and Stiglitz's Economics of the Public Sector. Q That will be a big seller. MR. BOUCHER: That's what people will be reading. Maybe they're the same texts that we studied in college. Q Hungry people will be reading this? MR. BOUCHER: I don't remember. Q They've got various group exchanges coming up. They've provided a series to Moscow television as well on "Government by Consent," dubbed into Russian. And, finally -- you'll be glad to hear -- on the international science and technology center: Last week, Dr. Gallucci had meetings in Moscow with the other founding members of the center -- that is, the EC, Japan, and Russia. They finalized the language of the international agreements establishing the center, and we expect that those can be signed within two weeks. Dr. Gallucci also met with prominent scientists of the former Soviet Union to discuss projects, including projects to address nuclear reactor safety. In addition, Gallucci and other representatives of the center's founding members inspected several prospective sites for the center in Moscow. Other prospective sites will be visited in late April. Last Thursday, Dr. Gallucci held talks in Kiev on establishing a center in Ukraine. We'll be talking to the other governments involved and will be looking for about $10 million to put up as the U.S. contribution to that center in Ukraine. These series of meetings move us closer to the goals shared by the founding members, having the International Science ∧ Technology Center in Moscow up and running by early summer. I'll provide you with a statement that has more information on the Ukraine. Q Will that $10 million be part of the -- comparable to the $25 million out of the same $400 million pot for the Kiev Science. MR. BOUCHER: Yes. From existing Department of Defense funds. I think that means the same pot. Q Is it part of the $25 million or is it an extra ten? MR. BOUCHER: It's additional.

[Japan: Reaction to Announced Aid Package]

Q Richard, before you leave this field, Japanese officials are saying that despite the statements by President Bush and Secretary Baker, there has been no agreement on the part of the G-7, or its representatives, to furnish $18 billion for balance of payments support, or $6 billion in this stabilization fund. What is your view? What's the U.S. position? MR. BOUCHER: My position, from this podium, is the one that Margaret had on Friday when she was asked the question. She said our that our Deputy Finance Minister, Dave Mulford, over at the Treasury, was the one who attended the meeting, and we'd invite you to contact them for anymore definition of what happened at that Deputy Finance Minister's meeting. Q So you basically don't have any position on whether there was an agreement or not? MR. BOUCHER: I'll stand by what the President said. For more details of how it came about, I'd refer you to the people who did it. Q Richard, this is a rather serious question, that Japan, which is presumably a large contributor to such effort, is raising. It would seem that the State Department should be in a position to clarify what seems to be a serious question. MR. BOUCHER: Again, I think the President explained and the Secretary did in their press conferences at the White House, the genesis of this arrangement and where the money was from and where it was going. I really think I have to leave it to the people who actually attended the meetings to explain what happened at those meetings. Q Are there any further consultations between the U.S. and the Government of Japan to clarify this setup -- to discuss -- MR. BOUCHER: I'm sure we'll be talking about the assistance on a continuing basis. I think it was one of the areas we mentioned on Friday as being part of the discussions we had with the Deputy Foreign Minister, I think it was. Q Has the Ambassador from Japan requested meetings to discuss this issue here at the State Department since it was announced by President Bush? MR. BOUCHER: I really don't know, Ralph. It's entirely possible. We see him all the time. We had some meetings with a high-level Japanese official last week, and I think we put up a question or an answer on Friday that indicated that the assistance programs is one of the areas we discussed with him. Q Richard, the far Right in Germany has made some strong showing now in the elections. The far Right has made some advances in other countries as well -- France, and others. Does the State Department, which had this new world order in mind, have any observations about this phenomenon, which is described by some analysts as surprising? MR. BOUCHER: Barry, no, I don't. These are results in various elections in foreign countries; particularly in Germany, it's state elections, and we don't usually offer comments on the results. Q I know State's traditional approach to developments in Germany and other countries. But does this threaten or does this cause any anxiety here about the new world order? It's also expressed -- which is not unique at this point -- to foreigners coming into Germany, third world people, immigrants. I suppose the State Department still supports the Helsinki Agreement and the exchange of people and ideas across borders. Is there nothing the State Department has to say about this rather awesome development in Germany? MR. BOUCHER: Barry, I think you're the first person that I've heard around here link the election results in Germany to the new world order. So I really don't have any anything particular to say on that. Q The State Department has a view of Europe -- obviously, a different view; a view that is packaged in this new world order. MR. BOUCHER: We have not changed our view of Europe and of the importance of the Helsinki Accords and the importance of the way we operate with our European allies because of election results that have occurred, no. Q Richard, there was a meeting last week between Mr. Zoellick and Jacob Frankel of Israel's Central Bank. Given the fact that the loan guarantees seem to be off the table now, do you have any kind of readout on that meeting or what that meeting was for or what they accomplished? MR. BOUCHER: I did but I've forgotten it. I'll give it to you afterwards.

[Syria: Reported Oil Shipments to Iraq]

Q Do you have any information about Syria selling oil to Iraq in violation of U.N. sanctions? MR. BOUCHER: Alan, that sort of question arose. I think there were some press reports last week that also said that they had opened up their borders. I think we said we checked into those circumstances, and hadn't seen any such things. Q The allegation was made by the Israeli Ambassador in a speech last night. MR. BOUCHER: I'm not familiar with what the Israeli Ambassador said. But I think we've checked into these things and hadn't found any confirmation. Q Have the oil sales --

[Peru: US Calls for Restoration of Constitution]

Q Do you have any comments on what happened in Peru? MR. BOUCHER: Can we go to Peru first? The first thing, I think, is to note that the White House has put out a statement, and you'll find that my comments, in many ways, parallel back. That's the first authoritative statement on behalf of the U.S. Government, or maybe Aronson did something, too. But anyway. The United States regards the actions undertaken during the night of April 6 in Peru, including the detention of opposition politicians and legislators and the seizure of the news media to be an unjustified action against democracy. While we recognize that President Fujimori inherited severe problems, we believe that these problems do not justify, nor can they be resolved through unconstitutional means. The United States calls for the full and immediate restoration of constitutional democracy, which must include immediate freedom for those detained and full respect for human rights; immediate restoration of a free and independent press and civil liberties; and immediate restoration of independent legislative and judicial branches of government. Any needed reform in Peru's democratic institutions must be pursued within a legal constitutional framework. Q Does this have any consequences on the U.S. aid program? MR. BOUCHER: At this point, as the White House said, we are reviewing our assistance on programs for Peru in light of the events of last night. That's about where we stand. Q Is Bernie Aronson making this statement to senior members of the Peruvian Government? Is he meeting with top officials of the Peruvian Government while he's there? MR. BOUCHER: He had arrived there last night. He was leading an interagency team on a long-planned visit to discuss on-going issues in the bilateral relationship, including counternarcotics, alternative development, human rights, and the threat posed by Sendero Luminoso. In light of last night's events, Aronson and his team will return to the United States. Q So the answer is -- MR. BOUCHER: Let me point out as well that neither Aronson nor anyone else in the U.S. Government had any foreknowledge of President Fujimori's actions. Q When will they return? MR. BOUCHER: They're returning shortly. I don't think I can give you the exact travel plans, but they'll be returning shortly. Q And the answer to the question is that he will not meet with -- or is not or has not met with top officials, or might he do that before he leaves? MR. BOUCHER: He was scheduled to see President Fujimori this afternoon, but he's decided not to call on President Fujimori. Whether he has any other meetings before he departs, I don't know. Q Why is he not calling on him? Is it a symbolic gesture, or is he too busy to see him? MR. BOUCHER: The events of the night, I think, make the reasons that he had originally gone down there to meet -- make them unnecessary, and I don't think it would be appropriate under the circumstances. Q Aren't there new things to talk about? A certain air of excitement in the country that might entice the Assistant Secretary of State to talk to the man? MR. BOUCHER: He was going down there to conduct different business, and I don't think he considers it appropriate to meet with the President under these circumstances. Q Like if a reporter runs into a big story, and there's a bigger story, he walks away from it? I don't get it. MR. BOUCHER: He's not a reporter, Barry. He's the representative of the United States, and I'm sure he has decided not to call on President Fujimori, and I'll leave it at that. Q How is the U.S. making that statement -- the White House statement and your statement -- known through diplomatic channels? Or is it not doing so? MR. BOUCHER: I don't really know, Ralph. I would expect that we would covey these views to the Foreign Ministry, although I expect that they've been following events up here and will know already that we've issued these statements. Q Is this a decision by Bernie to pull out and come back, or was he yanked back? Was he told to come back? MR. BOUCHER: I don't know. The first I heard that he was down there, I heard right away that he was on his way back. So I guess there's not much done in consultation -- Q What I'm asking is, if Bernie made the decision? Did Bernie make the decision or did it come from higher up in the Department? MR. BOUCHER: My understanding is that Bernie made the decision, and there was agreement higher up in the Department. Q Is the United States going to raise this at the OAS? MR. BOUCHER: There is an OAS meeting this afternoon at 5:00, I think -- OAS time. Q Will the United States be pressing the OAS to take measures similar to those that were adopted against Haiti when that country acted against democracy? MR. BOUCHER: Alan, as I said, we're reviewing our assistance programs for our part. We're going to want to consult with the other countries at the OAS against what we see as an unjustified action against democracy. This just happened overnight; and what exactly our position will be this afternoon, I really can't tell you at this point. Q Do you see the military as having had a role in this? MR. BOUCHER: At this point, I don't want to try to do any analysis, George.

[Peru: Size of US Aid Program]

Q What is the size of the U.S. aid program? MR. BOUCHER: The aid figures are as follows: Fiscal Year 1991, there was $237 million in U.S. aid. It was approved. That breaks down into $193 million in economic aid; $24.5 million in anti-narcotics related military aid; and $19 million for other anti-narcotics programs. I'm told that approximately $30 million in economic aid and $15 million in military aid remains to be disbursed. For this year -- Fiscal Year 1992 -- we requested $275 million in aid for Peru. Q Richard, you said it's under review. Are we looking particularly at the military aid, given the reports that Fujimori is being influenced by the military in his actions? MR. BOUCHER: Warren, I'm sure we'll look at the whole gamut of aid. Q Richard, Bosnia: Is the U.S. -- Q Wait, wait, wait. Q All right. Go ahead. There's more rich stuff here. Q Yes. In the meantime, when it's under review, does that mean that the pipeline is stopped until the review is concluded? MR. BOUCHER: I don't quite know how to answer that, Alan. I might -- expectation is yes, but I'll have to get more definition for that. Q Would the review include our efforts, our anti-narcotics efforts? MR. BOUCHER: As I said, I think we'll want to look at the whole gamut of the assistance. Q Richard, do you have anything on the number of American military advisers who are currently in Peru? MR. BOUCHER: No, I don't. If there are any, I expect you'd have to get that from the Pentagon. I'll see if we have that somewhere. If there are any, I'm not sure. Q What about drug agents -- drug assistance? There is that base that -- MR. BOUCHER: There is the base up at the Upper Huallaga Valley. I don't have the numbers of those people. I'll see if I can get any for you. Q Are they being pulled out? Is that program being reviewed? MR. BOUCHER: Again, I'll have to look and see if we've done anything with that. Q You listed a number of steps that the government -- you called on the government to take. I'm not quite sure I understand what the U.S. thinks ought to happen to the president in all this. He was the president. You're calling on him to reverse actions he's just taken. Should there be anything that he should do? Should he step down and let someone else restore the democracy or -- MR. BOUCHER: Ralph, basically what we're calling upon him to do is to reverse the actions that he's taken and to work within the framework of the constitution for any reforms that we see as necessary.

[Former Yugoslavia: Renewed Fighting/US Consulations on Recognition]

Q Could we try Bosnia? You remember Baker's statements in Brussels, so this, I guess, is the first test of whether the EC and the U.S. are moving in lock step on independence. And, in fact, the reports in Luxembourg are that they're waiting a little bit for the U.S. to declare itself. But in any event how do they -- do they correlate in any way? MR. BOUCHER: Well, let me start, as you did in your question, to refer you to what Secretary Baker said in Brussels. He said we'd have close and frequent consultations with our European and EC allies on this. We have had such consultations. We continue to discuss it with them. At this point I've started to see some press reports of what's happening at their Foreign Ministers' meeting today, but we don't have a full readout from them on the outcome. So I don't have any new announcements of U.S. policy for you. Q There are reports that the United States has decided to recognize the three republics. MR. BOUCHER: Yes. There are indeed such reports. I don't have any announcements for you at this point. We'll want to see. We'll want to get a full readout. Q Would you categorically deny them, please? MR. BOUCHER: No. Q You're not denying them? MR. BOUCHER: We've said that we would move in close association with our European allies on these questions. We've said that in the U.S.-EC statement that was issued in Brussels -- we said we would look at these questions of recognition positively in light of other factors and in light of the decisions that the European Community made. The European Community is in the process of holding meetings, and once we have a readout from that, we might have something new to say. Q In other words, you're lacking unison. What you're saying is the opposite: The U.S. will act with the EC -- MR. BOUCHER: I'm not predicting any specific U.S. action for any particular time at this point, Barry. We want to see what's happened in Europe with the European Community, and then we'll make our decisions accordingly. Q Would the fighting that's taken place over the last two, three, four days in portions of former Yugoslavia affect the U.S. decision-making on the question of recognition not of Bosnia but of Croatia and Slovenia? Or is that -- MR. BOUCHER: I think the factors that we would be looking at in our decision were spelled out in the U.S.-E.C. statement issued when the Secretary was in Brussels, and those included factors such as the EC peace efforts and the deployment of U.N. peacekeepers. So, I think those are the factors that are involved. We are concerned about the fighting. We welcome the fact that leaders of all three ethnic groups in Bosnia-Hercegovina have appealed for calm, and the U.N. general on the scene has also appealed for calm. We call upon all sides to observe the cease-fire that was agreed upon over the weekend, and we continue to support EC efforts to mediate among the national groups. Q Richard, another subject: What do you make of this Iranian airstrike against positions inside Iraq? MR. BOUCHER: There's been a lot of activity this weekend. Let me sort of run down the Iran-Iraq situation. We understand that Sunday morning, Iranian fighter aircraft attacked an Iranian opposition base about 40 miles northeast of Baghdad. Iraqi sources claim that one Iranian aircraft was shot down by groundfire, and that the pilot and the navigator were captured. The U.S. is concerned about the incident of renewed fighting. We urge both sides to abide by the U.N. Security Council Resolution 598 which ended the Iran-Iraq war. This incident, however, in no way affects Iraq's obligation to comply fully with all United Nations resolutions. Q Would you say that this threatens Iraq's territorial integrity, or is it perhaps praiseworthy like the Turkish attacks on the PKK? MR. BOUCHER: Howard, I would say that we're concerned about the renewed fighting, and we think that it should stop. Q What about Iraq's complaint to the U.N. about this which occurred this morning? Does the U.S. support that complaint? Is there any merit in it? MR. BOUCHER: Iraq's complaint to the U.N.? Q Yes. Iraq's complaint to the U.N. MR. BOUCHER: I think I'm not familiar with that. Q Iraq complained to the U.N. this morning about Iran's attack on Iraqi territory, saying that the U.N. -- calling on the U.N. Security Council to condemn the attack and basically tell Iran to stay in its own territory. MR. BOUCHER: We'll have to look at that, Ralph. I had not heard about that.

[Iran: Air Attacks and Attacks on Iranian Missions at UN/Other]

Q Do you have any reaction to the seemingly coordinated attacks on Iranian diplomatic posts which seem to flow from this? MR. BOUCHER: Yes. Let me first review the circumstances of what happened up in New York, and then I'll offer you some comments on that and other things that took place at Iraqi -- sorry -- Iranian diplomatic missions. In New York there were five intruders armed with knives who violated the Iranian mission to the United Nations on Sunday. They ransacked the mission and held three Iranian diplomats hostage until two escaped and one was released unharmed to the police. The New York police responded promptly and appropriately to protect the Iranian mission and apprehend the intruders. They're being arraigned this morning in Federal Court. New York police have enhanced protection of the Iranian Ambassador and the Deputy Permanent Representative as a result of yesterday's attacks. We regret very much this violation of diplomatic premises. We take seriously our responsibilities to protect foreign diplomats. We regard the violation of the Iranian mission in New York and its diplomatic missions elsewhere in the world as clear violations of diplomatic status. Local authorities in the United States and elsewhere have an obligation to protect diplomatic premises against intrusion and attack, and we will fully meet our responsibilities. Our police authorities in New York are taking all necessary measures to provide protection for the Iranian mission in the fullest possible manner.

[Southern Africa: Severe Drought/Aid by US and Others]

Q Two other points. I have two African ones. Do you have any follow-up on the African drought -- what the U.S. is doing, or can you get us something perhaps later on today or tomorrow? MR. BOUCHER: Yes. If you'll give me some time, I'll run down the situation with you and tell you what we're doing. All the countries in the southern African region, including Angola, Botswana, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland, Zambia and Zimbabwe are affected by what is considered to be one of the most severe droughts the region has ever experienced. South Africa and Zimbabwe, both of which normally serve as granaries for the southern African region, are in the process of importing substantial amounts of food. The crop for corn has experienced more than 50 percent failure in all the countries mentioned, and losses range in the 70-90 percent range for Lesotho, Namibia and Swaziland. Total import requirements are estimated to be at least ten million metric tons of food. Imports of corn into the region last year were 1.9 million metric tons. The severity of the drought has resulted in the need to import approximately 8.1 million metric tons this year. Of this amount, we believe that approximately 3.4 million metric tons will be required to supplement commercial imports, and those would be in the form of humanitarian food assistance. We have our AID missions and Embassies throughout the southern African region, coordinating with governments, non-governmental organizations and other donors to coordinate the provision of assistance. There are AID assessment teams that have been in the region since late March, and they have been filing reports and been able to identify specific problems and responses. AID is speeding up existing food aid programs to get food into the region quickly. In addition, a senior interagency group has identified food aid resources of 366,000 metric tons that have been approved and an additional 291,000 metric tons that are pending approval at this time, and additional amounts of grant and concessional food assistance are being considered. Q First of all, could we have a copy of that? It's a lot easier. MR. BOUCHER: Sure. Q So the U.S. at this point has begun to actually donate/contribute some aid as opposed to selling? MR. BOUCHER: We're speeding up the stuff that we had. We've identified -- we've approved 366,000 metric tons, and we've got another 291,000 that are pending approval, and we'll be looking for additional grants. Q It hasn't started to arrive yet? You said "speeded up," but do we know if -- MR. BOUCHER: I'd have to check on what's actually arrived in the region. I'm told that the situation in Zimbabwe especially is critical now, and that in the other places the acute point is expected to be reached about August and September. Q What about water? Is the outside world -- can they do anything at all on that situation? MR. BOUCHER: I really don't know that. Q And also before you leave the area, is the Zairian Mission to the U.N. -- did they ever get their funds to pay their rent? Is there any update on that story? Remember last week's story -- MR. BOUCHER: I don't know. I'd have to check. They had 30 days -- wasn't it? -- from some point a couple of weeks ago. Q Coming back to the drought for just a second, are there any -- is the U.S. considering sending any surplus Gulf War supplies into that region of the world? MR. BOUCHER: I really don't know, Ralph. I'd have to check on that. I don't know.

[Japan: US Discussions on Plutonium Transfer]

Q Japan's plan of the shipment of plutonium from Europe, there's a report that the U.S. Government expressed some concern about the plan, saying the escort plan seems inadequate. And also there's a plan the U.S. will send an interagency team to Japan to consult with the Japanese officials about the plan. MR. BOUCHER: I don't know about any specific teams, although we've been working with the Japanese on this question, and I'm sure we'll continue to do that. There had been some reports that we had somehow criticized the plan, but I'd say in the course of our ongoing discussions, we've not expressed concern about the plan. No agency in the U.S. Government, to the best of our knowledge, has ever expressed judgments that it's inadequate. We've been working together at the expert level on development of a transportation plan for the return of plutonium from France to Japan. Retransfers of U.S.-origin plutonium are provided for in the 1988 U.S.-Japan agreement for cooperation in peaceful uses of nuclear energy, and the implementing arrangements under that agreement specify transportation of physical protection measures that are to be used for each shipment. They require that for each shipment, a plan to implement those measures be prepared to assure adequate physical protection of the nuclear material to be transported, and that's what we've been working on. The Japanese Government, in fact, is now preparing such a plan for the first shipment under the agreement and has initiated formal consultations with the U.S. Government in accordance with that agreement. I'd say overall we're satisfied with the plan, and we'll continue to work with the Japanese to insure its full implementation.

[Thailand: Report General Schinda Asked to Be Prime Minister]

Q Richard, do you have anything on the current situation in Thailand with the new Prime Minister-designate? MR. BOUCHER: We've seen -- Q And also has he ever applied for a visa to the United States, and was he denied? MR. BOUCHER: I don't know if he's ever applied for a visa, but he's never been denied a visa. This is General Suchinda. There are press reports at this point in Thailand that say that Mr. Narong has withdrawn his name, and that General Suchinda is the choice for the Prime Ministership. We don't have any independent confirmation of those reports, and our general attitude remains the same, that it's up to the Thai people to choose their Prime Minister and form a government. Q Would the fact that he wasn't an elected official but drawn to be Prime Minister -- would that have an impact on resuming U.S. aid to Thailand? MR. BOUCHER: That's really a question to be answered by experts on the Thai constitution and not me. So I don't know that answer. Q Do you have anything else to say about the Secretary's adventure in flying commercially over the weekend? MR. BOUCHER: No, I don't, George. Q I mean, you don't have anything about -- you know, did he have to wait in line? Did things go smoothly? Q Did he do a briefing? Q The food? MR. BOUCHER: I haven't talked to him about his trip, George. I don't have anything more to say about his trip at this point, and he's on private travel. I think we have to leave him some privacy. Q When does he return to Washington? MR. BOUCHER: It's not something I'm prepared to say precisely. We've never given out precise information on his travels, particularly his private travels, and I'm not going to do it today.

[Department: Secretary's Travel by Commerical Aircraft]

Q Richard, on a subject which is not unrelated: Other than the Secretary, does any other State Department official have what the White House calls "portal to portal" transportation rights? MR. BOUCHER: I'll get you the rundown on that. I don't remember precisely. I think the Secretary has a diplomatic security detail that drives him portal to portal. I think the Deputy Secretary has it as well, and I think that's where it stops, but let me get you the list. Q Richard, Ariel Sharon has unveiled details of plans that had been leaked for some time into the press of a new settlement drive within East Jerusalem itself, planning Jewish housing in places such as the Muslim quarter. It's a very wide-ranging plan. First of all, have you seen it; and, second, do you have any comment? MR. BOUCHER: No, I haven't seen it. But I think our views on settlements are pretty well known, so I don't have any particular comment. Q Richard, do you have any views on the latest developments in Moldova? Last week you strongly supported the Moldovan Government, and you made a stand against foreign military -- external military intervention. It seems like the 14th Russian Army has now moved in, and the Russian Government is criticizing Moldova for not doing enough for the Russian-speaking minority. MR. BOUCHER: I don't have anything new at this point, Patrick. I was not aware of the troop movements that you've referred to. I'll see if there's anything we want to say. I think our position remains what we said last week. Q Richard, one more on the drought: I'm wondering if our aid to that part of Africa or Africa in general has been cut back over the last year or two, given the needs in Central and Eastern Europe, and if we're in sort of a lesser position to be able to help? MR. BOUCHER: We put out the aid numbers earlier this year. I'm not sure exactly what we got in the continuing resolution, but I think we tried to continue them at pretty high levels. Q Has it gone down? MR. BOUCHER: I'll have to double-check the numbers on that. Q Richard, one more on Yugoslavia for just a second: What is the U.S. stand at this point on the name issue with Macedonia? Has the U.S. discussed this issue with Greece? Has it been resolved? Is the U.S. urging Greece to take any kind of position one way or the other on Macedonia's name? Are you familiar with the -- MR. BOUCHER: I'm not familiar with the issue of the name, Ralph. I think if you look back at the statement we issued with the EC on Yugoslavia, that Macedonia was one of the questions that was addressed in that statement. It is something that we have discussed with the EC and various other countries, including Greece. At this point I don't have any specific policy to announce. Q And one more on another subject: Can you tell us whether licenses of military technology have been resumed for approval to Israel? MR. BOUCHER: Ralph, the situation as regards licensing to Israel is really that it's an ongoing process. We have an extensive defense relationship with Israel. We have extensive licensing activities. We issue licenses for Israel all the time. At any given moment, I suppose there are some in the process where some licenses are being held up awaiting review or waiting further documentation or something like that. It is how I'd categorize the situation. Q Thank you. (The briefing concluded at 1:34 p.m.)