US Department of State Daily Briefing #59: Monday, 4/2O/92

Boucher Source: State Department Deputy Spokesman Richard Boucher Description: Washington, DC Date: Apr, 20 19924/20/92 Category: Briefings Region: MidEast/North Africa, Eurasia, Europe, E/C Europe, South Asia, South America Country: Israel, USSR (former), Uzbekistan, Russia, Armenia, Lithuania, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Bangladesh, Iraq, Iran, Bosnia-Herzegovina Subject: Mideast Peace Process, Development/Relief Aid, Resource Management, Media/Telecommunications, Arms Control, Security Assistance and Sales, Regional/Civil Unrest, State Department, OAS, Trade/Economics 12:37 P.M. (ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED) MR. BOUCHER: I'd like to start out, if I can, with three little -- well, two little and one larger thing at the beginning.

[Department: Filing Embargo Procedures for Journalists Attending the Daily Press Briefing]

The first is that it has been brought to our attention by some members of the press corps that material from the State Department briefing has been published prematurely at times. So to remind -- not so much you in the room, but many of the people who may be listening elsewhere -- that correspondents in the room and the those monitoring audio and video feeds of the briefing are reminded that there is to be no filing on this material until the conclusion of the briefing or until a filing break has been called. I understand that's been the practice among you journalists for many years, and I'd just like to remind people of that.

[Department: Secretary to Speak on the Former Soviet Union]

The second is, we put up a notice on Friday about Secretary Baker's speech tomorrow. He'll be speaking at the Chicago Council on Foreign Relations at the Fairmont Hotel in Chicago, Illinois. The speech will begin at 12:00 noon, Chicago time. The subject of the speech will be "Russia and the Other New States of the Former Soviet Union," and try to put U.S. efforts in a broader, historical foreign policy context. The press contact out there is Sara Connor, (312) 726-3860. Because of the speech, we won't be having a briefing here tomorrow. Q Are you going to have a text here or a pipe-in here, or anything like that? MR. BOUCHER: We're looking into piping in. We expect to have the text. I can't promise you a specific time, but we know you all like it as much in advance as possible. So we'll be working on those two things during the course of the afternoon and have more details by tomorrow morning. Q Will he be doing Q ∧ A there as well after the speech? MR. BOUCHER: I don't think there is Q ∧ A there. Q Is that noon Chicago time?

[Former Soviet Union: US Aid Update]

MR. BOUCHER: That's noon Chicago time. And, finally, I'd like to go through our regularly Monday update of assistance and exchanges that we've had with the New Independent States. I'll hit the highlights and give you the longer piece of paper for you to read after the briefing. Last Friday, we completed an airlift involving seven C-141 aircraft. They carried over 300,000 pounds of well-capping equipment for the oil well blowout in Uzbekistan that we've talked about before. Work continues on capping the well. There was a technical team by the Environmental Protection Agency that went along with them to Uzbekistan, and EPA will issue a statement today on further details of what that team will be doing to assist them with any possible environmental problems. There was a U.S. Air Force C-141 that left McGuire Air Force Base over the weekend on a Project Hope flight. This flight carried about 45,000 pounds of high value medicines and supplies. The destinations are the Byelarus capital of Minsk, and a city called Gomel. It's another city in Byelarus. It's near Chernobyl. We'll have a more detailed statement on that for you as we have on the other Project Hope flights that have gone before. There were three C-5 planeloads of emergency medicines and food that were sent last week to Ankara. The Turks will then deliver this stuff to the Azerbaijani capital of Baku for distribution to victims of the Armenian-Azerbaijan conflict. And a C-141 flew into Kaliningrad, Russia, last week with pharmaceuticals and medical supplies. We've also been shipping many, with U.S. Government transportation, various private voluntary donations from cities and states around the country. I have a little more information in the written statement on that. We've sent a team led by former Agriculture Secretary Richard Lyng. That team is travelling today to Moscow, Novosibirsk, Alma-Ata and Minsk. They will select agricultural industries where U.S. executives will be offered to the people in those industries as problem-solving consultants for periods of three to twelve months. That's something new that's starting. And, finally, let me mentioned that USIA has concluded an agreement in Yerevan to simulcast VOA's daily one-hour Armenian program on medium wave. These stations in Armenia will join those in Russia and Estonia in simulcasting VOA programs over medium wave. As you all know, that let's people listen to it easier at home and in their cars. Those are the highlights that I would hit at the beginning on that. And, as I said, we'll have a written statement that offers you some more detail on those and other things. Q Richard, a question about the oil well-capping equipment that was sent to Uzbekistan. Not knowing anything about the subject, seven C-141s seems to be a lot of equipment. Is there anything unusual about this well? Or is it the same sort of thing that the U.S. assisted in in Kuwait? MR. BOUCHER: I'm not an expert in well-capping either. I don't know. This is, I think, approximately what we said was planned when we announced it. So I don't know if this is standard for an oil well blowout or not. I'll see if we have any details on the size of the blowout and see if it's particularly large or anything like that. There is significant, I think, environmental concern, as well as concerns about human health. We want to get the job done quickly. Q Just anything you could give us more on where it's located and what the environmental concerns are would be helpful. MR. BOUCHER: Okay. Q And how it was caused? MR. BOUCHER: If we can get that, we will. You may find some of the environmental information more in the EPA statement. We'll try to get you a copy of that as soon as we have it.

[Saudi Arabia: Reported Unlicensed Transfers of US Arms to Iraq/Bangladesh/Syria]

Q Richard, do you have anything on the reports of the unauthorized arms transfers from Saudi Arabia to countries like Iraq and Syria and Bangladesh? MR. BOUCHER: Let me explain to you as much as I can. I don't like to start off apologizing, but those of you who have dealt with this kind of subject before know that there's always a limit to the amount that we can go into on the reports. However, I can tell you about U.S. Government policies and U.S. Government actions that are being questioned. First of all, reports that the U.S. Government secretly approved the transfer of military equipment from Saudi Arabia to Iraq in 1986 are completely false. The U.S. did receive reports that Saudi Arabia may have transferred to Iraq some U.S.-origin equipment along with large quantities of non-U.S. origin equipment in 1986. After Desert Storm, there were allegations of transfers to Syria and Bangladesh. We had reports that small amounts of non-lethal, U.S.-origin equipment being used by these two coalition partners during the war remained with them after the war. In each of these cases, the United States immediately brought these reports to the attention of the Saudis, and we reminded them of their obligations under the Arms Export Control Act and bilateral agreements concluded under the Arms Export Control Act. They told us that these transfers were inadvertent. In accordance with statutory requirements of the Arms Export Control Act, the Department of State provided prompt notification of these unauthorized transfers to the Congress. So, therefore, reports that we failed to notify the Congress are also false. That's basically what I have to say. Q Can you tell us what these non-lethal items were? MR. BOUCHER: I'm afraid I can't, Bill. That gets into the specifics of the allegations. The details have been reported to the Congress, but they've been reported in classified form. Q They've also been reported in public. Can you confirm that they included trucks and other -- MR. BOUCHER: I'm afraid I can't. Q Can you check out the validity of the report, in 1986, that Saudi Arabia may have transferred items? Can you say anything about whether or not that report was valid? MR. BOUCHER: I think what I would say is that the Saudis acknowledged the situation by telling us that the transfers did, in fact, occur but were inadvertent. Q That was the last one after Desert Storm, or is that the earlier one? MR. BOUCHER: That was in each of these cases. Q In each case. MR. BOUCHER: And in each of these cases, we immediately brought the reports to the attention of the Saudis and reminded them of their obligations, and they told us that transfers were inadvertent. That applies to both. Q Did you also notify Congress of the earlier one as well promptly? MR. BOUCHER: And in accordance with our requirements in each of these cases, we notified the Congress promptly. Q Richard, to quote Oscar Wilde, one set of inadvertent transfers might look accidental, but two or three looks a little bit suspicious. Could you address that point? MR. BOUCHER: I can't really, Alan. I think that's a point that the Saudis may wish to address. I would just say that we went to them with these. We carried out our responsibilities. We notified the Congress. They did take place, spaced some five years apart and under different circumstances. But beyond that, in explaining how they might have happened, I think that's for the Saudis. Q Richard, are most of the Desert Storm ones only non-lethal equipment? MR. BOUCHER: That's right. Q Did the post-Desert Storm transfers include transfers to Iraq, Syria and Bangladesh? MR. BOUCHER: Post-Desert Storm, the alleged transfers were to Syria and Bangladesh; not Iraq. Q On those transfers, Richard, President Assad has apparently gone to Saudi Arabia. Did he bring any of this equipment back with him? Or is there any other indication that it's on its way to be returned? MR. BOUCHER: I have not seen any indication that President Assad or anyone has brought the equipment back. Q On the '86 incident, once the Saudis informed the U.S. of this inadvertent transfer, was any effort made to either recover the materials? Was there any sort of remedial action taken to avoid something like that happening again? Or do you simply say "Thank you" and go on with business as usual? MR. BOUCHER: Terry, I would say that as part of the discussions with the Saudis, we went over the obligations that they had. I would say that they understood those obligations by saying that this had happened inadvertently and the understanding was that they would try to ensure that it did not happen again. Q Richard, does the notification of Congress close the matter as far as the United States is concerned? Or are there ongoing efforts to get this equipment back? MR. BOUCHER: I don't really know, Mark. That's something I'll try to check on for you, if I can. Q The United States has systems in place to prevent this sort of thing. I believe they're called "blue lantern" or "green lantern." Why did that fail in this case? Was it the same type of problems we saw in the audit from a few weeks back? MR. BOUCHER: I'm not sure if Blue Lantern was used in these cases. I think Blue Lantern was originated in 1989, or so, as a result of the view here in the Politico-Military Bureau, that we needed a system to check up. As you remember from the audit, it did have some immediate and useful results. I don't know if the later transfers were subject to any Blue Lantern procedures. I kind of doubt it since this was something being done during the Desert Storm period. Q Richard, there's another report -- this one in the New York Times this morning -- that the U.S. Government, as a whole -- including the State Department -- turned a blind eye to the transfer of some sophisticated nuclear technology to Iraq as late as 1989. Are you looking into that? MR. BOUCHER: That has to do with an Energy Department report, I think. I understand there was an internal Energy Department document. I would just say that we had long been concerned about Iraq's nuclear program. Exports of nuclear-related dual-use items, since 1978, have been the subject of review for proliferation purposes, as to all countries where there was a proliferation concern. That was a review conducted under State Department chairmanship in an interagency group. The policy was to deny two Iraq items that contribute to Iraq's nuclear program. We've also long been working with other countries to stem Iraq's clandestine efforts to obtain nuclear-related equipment, and we've made this an issue in our discussions and relationship with Iraq over the course of years. So the fact that there was concern in the U.S. Government about Iraq's nuclear programs going back a long time, I don't think is anything new. Whether we were successful in keeping Iraq from developing its nuclear program or whether we were able to have any effect on that is a judgment we'll have to make now. Q Richard, is there a standing governmental machinery in place to prevent this sort of transfer, particularly to renegade nations such as Iraq? MR. BOUCHER: There is, indeed, standing government machinery and interagency committee that's, in fact, chaired by the State Department where they review dual-use exports that might cause concern on nuclear grounds for certain destinations where we have proliferation concerns. Q Going back to the original question, is the State Department or any other agency looking into how this leakage then occurred? MR. BOUCHER: I'm not exactly sure what leakage you're talking about, Jim. If you're asking, are we looking into how Iraq acquired so much nuclear-related material and was able to put together such a nuclear program, certainly. And it's not only us, it's other people in the government; it's people in the IAEA and elsewhere. I think you're aware, Jim, of various steps that we've taken with other governments to improve those procedures. So that's something that we're certainly aware of. And I'm sure the people that do this on a day-to-day basis are taking into account any lessons we might have learned from what Iraq was able to do. Q What happens to the specific investigations into transfers of such items as the nuclear triggers, which was a major story in either '89 or '90? Each time there was a reported transfer, there was supposedly a group, an interagency group -- whether chaired by the State Department or not, I don't recall -- looking into it. Do you have the accumulative reports of these investigations? MR. BOUCHER: I don't, Bill. I think some of those investigations were criminal ones. I assume those things have proceeded forward in the courts of law and the various countries where people were arrested, there is quite a bit of information at this point about what Iraq was able to do. That information is being used by the people with responsibility in these areas to improve what they're doing. That applies both to the United States and elsewhere. Q I guess the thrust of my question is, what of the accumulative results of those investigations? Could they not amount to a critical mass before the beginning of the Gulf War? MR. BOUCHER: There were steps that were taken before the beginning of the Gulf War to tighten up. You will remember the furnaces question, and the new controls that were applied on proliferation controls. But, again, there's a lot to be learned from how far Iraq got, despite our control systems; and there's a lot to be improved, I'm sure, in our system of controls. Q Richard, is there concern that this warning, though, from an Energy Department official did not reach the Secretary of State? MR. BOUCHER: I don't really know exactly what happened to this document, Pat. I don't think that particular document is the issue, because we have along been concerned about Iraq's nuclear objectives and nuclear capabilities, and that was a matter of ongoing concern going quite a bit back. So the issue really is how can we improve our control systems to make sure that someone like Iraq isn't successful again. Q Are you saying there was no news? That you already were aware of the information he was trying to imply? MR. BOUCHER: I'm not aware of this specific report. I don't know if it contributed new information to it. But I think the important point is that there was long-standing concern about what Iraq was up to in the nuclear area. Q But the cause of concern here is a matter -- a man whose responsibility is to check on this proliferation matter, trying to get a warning up the line to the Secretary of State and it never got there. Is there concern about that? MR. BOUCHER: I just don't know what happened to this piece of paper. Sorry. Q Richard, in going back to the three cases of Saudi arms transfers, you said we heard reports about them. Was it Saudi Arabia that reported them to you, or somebody else? MR. BOUCHER: John, I'm afraid that's, in particular, one of the areas that I'm not prepared to go into. I'm just not able to clarify where the reports may have come from. Q Let me follow on that. I don't know if you can or not. When you did go to the Saudis and they acknowledged that it had been done inadvertently, did they also acknowledge -- did they tell you that they knew about it before you went to them? Did they have prior knowledge that these transfers -- MR. BOUCHER: Did they know that we knew before we told them that we knew? I don't know. Q Were they aware that material had been inadvertently transferred before they were asked about it? Was that included in the acknowledgment? MR. BOUCHER: You mean, was their response immediate? You mean -- all I know about that is this is the answer and if it wasn't, I'll look into it. Q No -- MR. BOUCHER: I don't know. I think we'd probably decline to get into that level of detail of the discussions we may have had with the Saudis at that point. Q On the same subject: Could you comment on the allegation in the story that the transfer of the weapons to Iraq was part of a covert policy by the Reagan and Bush Administrations to arm Iraq by sending U.S. arms? Is that what you say is completely false? MR. BOUCHER: What I said at the beginning of this: Reports that the United States Government secretly approved the transfer of military equipment from Saudi Arabia to Iraq in 1986 are completely false. Q There was no such policy? MR. BOUCHER: There was no such policy. Q Richard, on the same subject: One of the reports said that the inadvertent or other form of delivery included some 2,000-pound bombs to Iraq, which would sound pretty lethal to me. Have you looked into that specific charge? MR. BOUCHER: Jim, I just told you about two instances. First, that we've received reports that Saudi Arabia may have transferred to Iraq some U.S.-origin equipment along with large quantities of non-U.S. origin equipment in 1986. And, second of all, regarding the post-Desert Storm alleged transfers to Syria and Bangladesh -- that was after Desert Storm -- so in 1991, we have received reports that small amounts of non-lethal, U.S.-origin equipment being used by these two coalition partners during the war remained with them after the war. So I was addressing two different instances -- one in 1986 and one in 1991. Q So, in other words -- MR. BOUCHER: I'll describe them the way I described them. I can't go into any further detail about the equipment. Q What you're saying is that the 1986 leakage could, indeed, have included lethal equipment to Iraq? MR. BOUCHER: I'm saying exactly what I said. Q Richard, could you say whether any of those three transfers was caught in the Inspector General's report that was recently released? MR. BOUCHER: In the Inspector General's report, I believe that other than the countries that the Inspector General visited, the countries are not identified for the purposes of that report in the unclassified version. So, I'm not in a position to identify any countries that may or may not have been caught. Q I'm trying to find out whether it's something that the Inspector General missed? MR. BOUCHER: I don't know. Q You specifically deny that there was any covert arms transfer approved by the U.S. in 1986. So I feel compelled to ask, was anything in existence in '85 or '84, or prior to that? That date -- are you specifically limiting it to that date when you're saying that? MR. BOUCHER: Terry, I didn't ask everybody on every date of every year that's transpired since God knows when. Q No. But if there had been a policy, it plays prior to allegations that might have led the Saudis -- MR. BOUCHER: The allegation is that we somehow approved in 1986 some transfers of U.S. military equipment to Iraq. That allegation is false. I did not sweep the cupboards to ask everybody about every other allegation -- Q But, again, if there was a policy that there was a policy -- MR. BOUCHER: I am not aware of any policy during that time period, during that general time frame or after that involved the permission for anyone to retransfer U.S. military equipment to Iraq. Q Just for the record, I assume that this will not affect proposed arms sales or arms transfers or stationing of arms to or in Saudi Arabia? MR. BOUCHER: Those things are considered on the basis of a whole number of factors, and I'm sure they'll continue to be considered on the basis of the relevant factors. Q Well, is this a relevant factor? MR. BOUCHER: The question of retransfer is always a relevant factor. It's a factor that, as you know, I think, from our previous discussions of this issue in instances where we sell military equipment, we always get retransfer assurances. And I expect that would be done in any future cases as well. Q We were officially neutral in the Iran-Iraq war, so why wouldn't it be possible that, yes, we would not have officially approved arms transfer to Iraq, but that there may have been a nod and a wink sort of thing. Would you deny that? MR. BOUCHER: Pat, I wasn't around at the time, and I'm afraid I can't regurgitate to you what our official policy was. And why wouldn't it be possible? I don't know. You could probably raise all sorts of theoretical possibilities. I'm telling you what happened and what didn't happen, and we didn't provide any secret approval for a retransfer of military equipment to Iraq in 1986. Q When did the Administration notify Congress about the 1986 transfers, and when did they notify Congress about the 1991 transfers? MR. BOUCHER: The notifications were in August of 1986 and in March of 1992. Q Through the Foreign Affairs and Relations Committees or what? MR. BOUCHER: It's to the appropriate people on the Congress. I'm afraid I don't have a full list for you, John. I'm sorry. Q Just one more on this: Did the United States ever go directly to Iraq or Syria or Bangladesh over these concerns? MR. BOUCHER: I don't know, Mike. I'm sorry. Q Can you bring us up to date on the mission of Assistant Secretary Johnson to former Yugoslavia? MR. BOUCHER: Yes. Deputy Assistant Secretary Johnson is continuing his mission of consultations towards establishing full diplomatic relations with Bosnia-Hercegovina, Croatia and Slovenia. He will also underscore in Belgrade our grave concerns over Serbian actions to senior Serbian officials. On Saturday, he met with the President of Bosnia-Hercegovina, Alija Izetbegovic. While in Sarajevo he also met with JNA, Yugoslav National Army, leaders. He was in Ljubljana, Slovenia, and in Zagreb, Croatia, this morning, where he met with the Slovenian President and the Croatian President. Later today he's scheduled to meet with Serbian leaders in Belgrade. We expect him to return to Washington later this week and for him to give a full report to the Secretary. Q Can you see any changes in the situation in Bosnia? MR. BOUCHER: The fighting continues. In some places it's quite intense. I can give you the rundown. Militant Bosnian Serbs continue to maintain roadblocks around Sarajevo. Shooting continues in the city today, and Serbian forces are also continuing their sporadic shelling of the city. In Mostar, the JNA threatened and then attacked a number of civilian targets. We understand this attack killed at least two civilians and wounded at least ten. It caused extensive damage to apartment houses and private homes. Fighting continues in much of Bosnia-Hercegovina. Serbian forces are launching particularly heavy attacks in north central Bosnia and are consolidating their control of several towns in southeastern Bosnia, seized in the fighting over the past few weeks. All indications are that Serbian forces and the Serbian Government are attempting to increase their control over extensive parts of Bosnia-Hercegovina. Q Can the possible nomination of Ambassador Zimmerman to another post be linked to the Yugoslav situation or how he handled his job in Belgrade? MR. BOUCHER: We don't do announcements of Ambassadorial nominations. I haven't checked on Ambassador Zimmerman's status, but any changes in that status would be for the White House to announce. Q When did you say Ralph Johnson was coming back? MR. BOUCHER: Later this week. Q He accelerated his schedule. I think we were told last week that he was not due in Belgrade until Tuesday or Wednesday, and now you have him meeting with the -- MR. BOUCHER: I think that's right. He'll be in Belgrade today. Q Was there a schedule change there? MR. BOUCHER: I don't know exactly why, but, yes, it appears he's moving faster than we thought. Q Richard, how many aid flights went in and are their plans for any more? MR. BOUCHER: There were five flights over the weekend -- let me get the rundown -- five C-141s that flew into Sarajevo. They carried 10,000 blankets, food and medical supplies. We're considering giving further aid. We're awaiting recommendations from Ralph Johnson and from Ambassador Zimmerman. Q And just to follow up on that: Do you have an estimate on the number of people who are homeless in Bosnia-Hercegovina? MR. BOUCHER: I don't have a new one. I think last week we said that there were as many as 160,000. Q Richard, on another subject, have you had a recent update on what's going on in Afghanistan? MR. BOUCHER: Yes. As we've said before, the situation keeps changing, so this is information we had as of earlier this morning. According to the limited information available to us, Kabul remained calm throughout the weekend. Several different groups of resistance forces have remained outside the city. Fighting is at a minimum. The current Ruling Council in the city has maintained order and is negotiating with resistance leaders. The U.N. Secretary General's Special Envoy, Benon Sevan, is still in Kabul. He's in contact with the Council and with resistance representatives. We understand that Najib remains in Kabul. Resistance leaders from all factions have been discussing the formation of an Islamic Council to take power in Kabul. Ahmed Shah Masood, who commands the largest force outside of Kabul, is in contact with other leaders and has called for a peaceful turnover of power. The U.S. Ambassador in Pakistan and other U.S. officials are in regular contact with the resistance leaders in Islamabad and Peshawar and are urging restraint. We're encouraged by the willingness of resistance and regime leaders to avoid further bloodshed and by the apparent progress towards a peaceful resolution of the current crisis. We hope that this will set the stage for Afghan determination and for a return of the refugees. These are goals which the United States has consistently supported. In our view, all sides should work closely with the U.N. Secretary General's special representative who is in a unique position to assist in resolving the conflict. We condemn inflammatory statements and calls for military action. Such actions increase the danger of a resumed conflict, which is against the interests of all Afghans. Q And has the United States in the course of watching this had any contact, direct or indirect, with the Iranian authorities? MR. BOUCHER: I don't know, Jim. Q Could you check? MR. BOUCHER: I'll see if we can. We're usually reluctant to discuss what might be discussed through the channel of communication that we have for them. Q Richard, a lot of the resistance forces would not have had weaponry at all if it hadn't been for the assistance of the United States. Does Washington have any continuing obligations to -- or abilities for that matter -- to affect the outcome of this fight for the -- for Afghanistan? MR. BOUCHER: The first thing I think I'd remind you of is that effective January 1 of this year, the United States and the Soviet Union -- and in that position, Russia -- agreed to terminate any supplies of lethal equipment to the parties in Afghanistan, and we have urged other countries to do the same. Q But there was plenty there already. MR. BOUCHER: We have continued our contacts. As I mentioned today, we've had close contacts with the various resistance factions and various resistance leaders. We've consistently supported the United Nations process and the process of the U.N. Secretary General. So I would hope that our influence is felt. We have strongly urged the parties to resolve these issues peacefully. We have a certain amount of humanitarian assistance that's been ongoing to Afghanistan, and we would expect to continue that and to be part of the reconstruction effort. So I think we do have some influence. Ultimately, it's for the parties themselves to work out these arrangements, and we've supported the efforts of the U.N. Secretary General's Envoy to do that. Q Richard, back on Yugoslavia for a second: Does the United States consider the actions by the Serbians to be aggression against a sovereign state? MR. BOUCHER: Mark, I've described the situation to you. I think I'll stick with those words for the moment. I think I made very clear today that in our belief, all indications are that Serbian forces and their Serbian Government are attempting to increase their control over extensive parts of Bosnia-Hercegovina. I think that's a pretty clear statement of what we think is going on. Q Back on Afghanistan for a second -- Q Does it qualify as aggression? MR. BOUCHER: I don't want to characterize things with buzz words, Howard. I described the situation for you. Q Could we go back to Afghanistan for a second? You suggested that there were some people there who were making inflammatory statements. Could you say which side has been doing that? MR. BOUCHER: I don't think I want to at this point, George. Q But if one of the sides is -- MR. BOUCHER: If anybody wants to make inflammatory statements or call upon people to urge further military action, we would counsel them against that, and that's what I've just done. Q I believe you just said that Najibullah was still in Kabul. Do you think that very shortly -- today, tomorrow -- he will leave there peacefully through New Delhi perhaps? MR. BOUCHER: I don't know, Lee. We'll have to see. Q Back in the Middle East, Prime Minister Shamir said on Friday in an interview that he was certain that the United States had made a deal with Arab nations before the negotiations began on loan guarantees that the United States would not grant loan guarantees to Israel unless there was a full settlement freeze. Is there a reaction to his assertion? MR. BOUCHER: That is not the situation. I think we said repeatedly that there was no promise or commitments or understandings made in advance on this issue. We discussed loan guarantees in good faith with Ambassador Shoval and with people on the Hill. In fact, we offered up a proposal in the form of a draft bill which would have provided Israel up to $10 billion in loan guarantees over six years, including the right to complete construction of units underway on January 1, 1992. I think we've talked extensively about what was in that. Under our proposal, the President would have had discretion to decide on an annual disbursal, and there could have been a suspension if there was additional settlement construction. But, unfortunately, the compromise was not acceptable to the sponsors of the legislation. Q Richard, it appears as of today we're going to have two governments in Peru. Which one are we going to recognize? MR. BOUCHER: Well, we continue to deal with the government of Fujimori because that's the current government. With regard to the situation there, I'd note that the OAS Secretary General and the Uruguayan Foreign Minister arrive in Lima today. They'll begin consultations tomorrow, on Tuesday, with a broad range of Peruvians. The Vice President, San Roman, has a role to play in these consultations, and we understand that he may meet with the OAS delegation. We've urged all Peruvian leaders to work for a solution which returns the country as quickly as possible to constitutional rule and which involves all those political forces that accept democratic practice. Q Has the Administration spoken directly to President Fujimori? Has there been a dialogue? MR. BOUCHER: I would have to check on that. I know we've had meetings with the Foreign Minister down there. I don't know if anybody's met with Fujimori recently. I'll check on that. Q Richard, could you assess the sanctions or sanction-busting situation as far as Libya and perhaps Syria are concerned? MR. BOUCHER: I addressed the question here of international flights. I know there were some reports over the weekend, so that was the aspect of the sanctions that I checked on. The U.N., of course, has a Sanctions Committee to deal with questions of possible violations. But as far as we know, no international flights have landed in or originated in Libya since the sanctions went into effect. That includes Syrian Airlines flights. We are in touch with the Syrian Government on the issue, and they know our views. As we've stated to you before, we expect that all nations should abide by the sanctions. Q One more on the Middle East: Have you noted the developments in the Gulf island of Abu Musa? It's an island shared by Iran and the Emirate, and the Iranians have apparently ordered out some residents there? Do you know anything about that? MR. BOUCHER: I have noted it, and I know nothing about it. Would you like me to find out something about it for you, Alan? I'll see if I can. Q One last question: On COCOM -- is the United States, in conjunction with the other members of that group, pushing for dissolution of it? MR. BOUCHER: I haven't checked on the status of COCOM recently. That's something I'd have to check on. I think they have some meetings coming up, but I'm not exactly sure what they're going to do. Q Richard, can I take you back -- MR. BOUCHER: We had Connie over there, and then we'll come over here. O.K. Q I just had a quick -- do you have any update beyond last week on the southern African drought situation -- U.S. aid on southern African drought -- or could you look into it, please? MR. BOUCHER: No. I don't have any update. I think AID is doing regular updates down there. I'm not sure if they have something for you or not. Q Can I take you back to Yugoslavia for a second. The Serbian Government strongly protested your policy as partisan, I think, and many other words. Do you have a response to that? MR. BOUCHER: We responded on the spot, and basically we rejected their characterization of U.S. statements and U.S. policy. I'll give you some more detail on that. On Saturday, the Serbian Foreign Minister called in the Charge of our Embassy to protest what he called "biased" statements by the U.S. Government. In addition, the Serbian Government has launched a propaganda campaign in its officially controlled media, attacking the United States, the European Community and the CSCE community. We believe that the views that we have expressed reflect accurately on the situation in Bosnia-Hercegovina and the involvement of the [Serbian] side there. We reject the characterization of our views as biased, and our Charge made these points in Belgrade on Saturday. The Serbian leadership appears to want the world and the Serbian public to believe that it is the victim and not the aggressor. It's abundantly clear, however, to the international community, and we hope to the Serbian people as well, that the Serbian civilian and military leaders bear the overwhelming burden of responsibility for the violence in Bosnia-Hercegovina. And let me go back to Mark's question and say that, yes, I would characterize the Serbians as the aggressors. Q Richard, when did you start talking about the Serbian Government, the Serbian people, the Serbian leadership, and does that mean that you no longer recognize the existence -- not the existence -- but their claim to be the successor to Yugoslavia? MR. BOUCHER: Alan, as Margaret, I think, told you last week, that Yugoslavia, as we knew it, really no longer exists. I checked on this point this morning. It was in fact the Foreign Minister of the Serbian Republic who spoke to us and not the Foreign Minister of Yugoslavia as that government was formally constituted. So this is the correct appellation for the Serbian Foreign Minister. Q Well, does the United States recognize Serbia, because, I mean, for new states to gain recognition, they have to abide by certain CSCE principles. Does the United States recognize Serbia? MR. BOUCHER: Alan, the statements on recognition and diplomatic relations was made about a week or two ago, and that remains U.S. policy. Q So U.S. policy is to recognize Bosnia-Hercegovina, Slovenia and Croatia, of the six republics of former Yugoslavia? MR. BOUCHER: Alan, I would stick with the statement that we made last week that carefully identifies the areas that we recognize as the areas with which we want to establish diplomatic relations. Q Well, did I misspeak just now? MR. BOUCHER: I don't now. We'll both look back at the text and find out. Q That text, when it addresses the Envoy's visit to Belgrade, speaks about -- does not make clear whether we do have relations or not. It suggests that -- MR. BOUCHER: I'm talking about the text that was -- I guess the White House text where they announced the situation with regard to independence -- recognized the independence of various republics, and the republics with which we were seeking to establish diplomatic relations. Q So the most recent text which I've seen -- which is I think on Friday --just finesses the whole issue. It says, "We recognize three." Serbia, it says, we're not pleased with, and "we will discuss the course of future relations." It does not -- MR. BOUCHER: Well, Chris, I'll get you a copy of the text from Tuesday or Wednesday where we announced all this. Q Well, this is obviously a fluid situation. Why don't we just find out what the case is right now rather than something two weeks ago? MR. BOUCHER: Chris, the case right now is the same as the case from two weeks ago when we announced the recognition of the United States of the independence of various republics. We said what we're going to do about the situation with regard to diplomatic relations. We've told you that this specific trip by Ralph Johnson is to explore the establishment of full diplomatic relations with Bosnia-Hercegovina, Slovenia and Croatia. That is consistent with the announcement we made two weeks ago, and U.S. policy remains what it was in that announcement. Q What about the other three? Q We do have diplomatic relations with someone, and we have an Embassy in Belgrade. With whom does that Embassy conduct diplomatic relations? MR. BOUCHER: Alan, our Embassy conducts meetings, has business, raises points, makes points with whoever they feel is appropriate. Q O.K. So they conduct diplomacy, but they don't have diplomatic relations. MR. BOUCHER: Alan, we're not wrapped around the axle on this issue of definitions of diplomatic relations or recognition. We do our job. We try to keep people from being killed. We try to help people who are in need, and that's what our Embassies do. Q Who's the Charge that's in there -- in Belgrade? MR. BOUCHER: In Belgrade? Q Yes. MR. BOUCHER: Ambassador Zimmerman has been there. I mean, he's in charge there. I'm not sure exactly where he is right now. Q Who's the Foreign Minister you said he met with? MR. BOUCHER: He met with the Serbian Foreign Minister. I'm not sure -- well, our Charge met with the Serbian Foreign Minister. I'm not exactly sure who was the Charge, and I don't have the name of the Serbian Foreign Minister. I'll try to get that for you. Howard. Q Do we intend to keep our diplomatic presence in Belgrade, or is there anything to sever, since we don't use the word "diplomatic relations." MR. BOUCHER: I don't have anything new on that. Q I'm just curious. You rejected their charge that we are biased, but we called them the aggressors in this matter. I don't understand that -- MR. BOUCHER: We think the facts bear that out. Q Why don't we simply say, "Yes, we're biased, because they're the aggressor." [Laughter] MR. BOUCHER: Saul, I guess it's a question of your interpretation of the word "bias." We call them the way we see them is what we think. Q Does the Administration -- on a different subject -- does the Administration at this point have any timetable for the ratification of START, or is that hung up? They've given no idea of when it's going to move ah ead? MR. BOUCHER: I don't have anything specific for you at this point. No. Q Are you clear where Ukraine stands at this point with regard to whether it will sign directly on to START or will sign up indirectly? MR. BOUCHER: Terry, I'm sorry, I just don't have anything new for you since that discussion last week. I think Margaret made clear that both in the discussions that our team had -- the Presidential mission had in Ukraine and in the discussions that the Secretary had with Kozyrev, the issue of START was discussed. The Secretary was working the issue then, and that remains the case now. Q So do you have any response to the repudiation of arms control agreements by -- I guess it was the Russian Parliament about Friday or so? MR. BOUCHER: I forgot to look into that this morning. That was something that on Friday, based on the press reports that we'd seen, was somewhat unclear as to exactly what the vote entailed. I'll see if we have any more information at this point on it. Q Richard, on the same subject, has the State Department or the Administration notified that Congress that the successors to the Soviet Union are in violation of the 1972 ABM Treaty? MR. BOUCHER: I have no idea, Jim. I don't know. Q Well, according to Paul Nitze there was a notification to that effect on April 9. MR. BOUCHER: Isn't there a regular arms control compliance report that deals with that? Q Yes. MR. BOUCHER: I forget if we send that up or ACDA does, but that's, I guess, what we would have sent. I'll check on it. Q Richard, I don't know if you mentioned it -- it might have gone by me today -- but Croatian activity in Bosnia. Any update on that? MR. BOUCHER: No. I didn't have anything new on that.

[Lithuania: Senator Kerry Injured in Auto Accident]

Q Richard, Senator Kerry of Nebraska was injured in a car accident in -- I believe in one of the Baltic states. Do you have anything on that? MR. BOUCHER: That was in Vilnius yesterday. [TO STAFF] Do you remember Cynthia? MS. WHITTLESEY: Saturday. MR. BOUCHER: Saturday. There was a Congressional delegation, including Senator Kerry of Nebraska. He was in a van along with some of our people. There was an accident that occurred with a taxicab, apparently, that was trying to pass somebody. He was injured, and they went back to the airport and flew him out to Frankfurt where he remains under medical treatment along with some of the other people. Q How seriously was he injured? MR. BOUCHER: I don't know the exactly medical characterization, but apparently he's doing O.K. Q Back to Libya: Apparently over the weekend, a British lawyer for the two Libyan suspects indicated that he wouldn't have a problem with them being tried in the U.S. or Britain. Do you see that as a hopeful sign that this confrontation might -- MR. BOUCHER: We wouldn't have a problem with them being tried in the U.S. or Britain either. Q Well, I know, but, I mean -- MR. BOUCHER: I think we've made that clear. Q Is any progress being made -- MR. BOUCHER: And I think we've made very clear that we want to see it happen. So far we've seen various ideas floated, most of which have not turned into serious courses of action, and I guess we'll just have to wait and see if they actually show up for trial. Q The fifth round of the Middle East peace talks are due to begin in a week on April 27, and you've announced previously that the location of the sixth round would be announced before the fifth round begins. So do you have the location, and, if you don't have the location, do you know when it will be announced? MR. BOUCHER: Some time before the fifth round begins, which is still a week away. Nothing for you today. Q Thank you. (The briefing concluded at 1:22 p.m.)