US Department of State Daily Briefing #62: Friday, 4/24/92

Tutwiler Source: State Department Spokesman Margaret Tutwiler Description: Washington, DC Date: Apr, 24 19924/24/92 Category: Briefings Region: MidEast/North Africa, Eurasia, E/C Europe, Southeast Asia Country: Israel, USSR (former), Bosnia-Herzegovina, Serbia-Montenegro, Yugoslavia (former), Syria, Burma, Afghanistan Subject: Mideast Peace Process, Development/Relief Aid, Military Affairs, Security Assistance and Sales, Terrorism, Travel, Human Rights 12:00 P. M. (ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED)

[Discussion of Procedures for Background Briefings]

MS. TUTWILER: Okay, I have one housekeeping matter which is for your information only, not for camera or on the record, a background briefing will take place here at 2 o'clock today on the subject of Yugoslavia. Q Just on a technical point, when you get back to this Catch 22 business, that if we should ask you about what was said here at 2 o'clock on Monday or some other date, you respond that you can't answer questions about statements made by nameless officials. Why does he have to be on background? MS. TUTWILER: Because that's what you requested and that's what we agreed with. Q Well, background can be used several different ways. Background doesn't necessarily have to mean anonymous. MS. TUTWILER: It normally does. In my 12-year experience here in Washington, when someone does a background briefing that's on background, it's on background. My understanding is that a number of your colleagues requested, not only this backgrounder, but a number of them, and we are trying to arrange them for you. So when your request comes forward, if it comes forward as "on background," that's what we honor. If you want to talk with your colleagues and change your request -- not for the one today -- then just send them forward in the way that all of you all unanimously agree, and we'll try to honor those. Q Margaret, can we on this occasion, ask for - MS. TUTWILER: Sure, Barry. Q -- an on-the-record news conference from the Secretary of State. You know, we had an experience -- I can't name -- MS. TUTWILER: From who? Q I can't name the senior official because we play by the rules, but we were taken upstairs -- about 25 of us -- and given a background session and we were barely down in the news room when that same official was on the MacNeil/Lehrer saying everything on the record -- MS. TUTWILER: I believe that -- Q -- precisely the same stuff. And it wasn't hot secret stuff. MS. TUTWILER: Right. Q So, you know, this is the first Secretary of State in my memory, which is 19 years, who hasn't, you know, had regular -- I don't say frequent, but at least regular news conferences. He has them overseas. Why not here? Is there -- MS. TUTWILER: Well, I believe that the same exact senior official that you are discussing had a press conference that was 45 minutes in length, prior to any senior official backgrounders that were held here on the same day at the Department. I will acknowledge to you that, yes, the Secretary does, from time to time, do broadcasts. He will continue to do so. I personally think that he has -- I know we walk in different moccasins -- an excellent record of accessibility to you all; has done more press since he has been Secretary of State than in any other job he has had in Government. I will see -- if you have a specific request for him to do another press conference this week -- I think he just did one -- when was it? -- last week. I'll see if he would like to do one next week. Q That would be nice. MS. TUTWILER: Okay. Q Can we ask you on Yugoslavia, since you are on the record and you are Margaret Tutwiler -- MS. TUTWILER: On the record, unfortunately. Q -- does the United States support sending UN peacekeepers to Bosnia? MS. TUTWILER: That is something that we have been deferring, as you know, Alan, to the United Nations, to their judgment. I believe that there are observers -- in fact, I believe the UN Headquarters is in Sarajevo. I believe there are observers that are already there operating, and I'm not sure that the United Nations itself supports at this time sending peacekeepers. As you know, there is a distinction in their minds -- and we agree with them -- over peacekeepers and peacemakers. The United Nations personnel, who are peacekeepers, are not to be sent in -- in any situation in the world -- where there is an active, ongoing battle that is in process. And so I'm not aware that the Secretary General or the Security Council is in disagreement with that longstanding policy. Q Well, the truce apparently has broken down already. MS. TUTWILER: I've seen two reports, to be honest with you. How we have it this morning, when we were preparing and pulling together all of our information, is that there was calm there. I have since seen, in the last l5 minutes, two different wire stories, one of which says that battles are raging; another says things are calm. So I think it is hard for us to stay on top of it. We will grant you that this morning -- excuse me, Barry -- the cease-fire is extremely shaky. Q Well, the version I saw is that the leaders are still supporting a truce, but people are breaking away, which, you know, is not a surprise given the chaotic situation. MS. TUTWILER: Uh-hum. Q I guess what Alan and all of us are driving at is whether the United States has any plan of action particularly in this area. I mean, we know there is a distinction between peacemakers and peacekeepers, but the Secretary just made a speech ticking off, you know, a dozen or so active US accomplishments in the foreign field and taken a couple of bows for it. What about Yugoslavia? What is the U.S. -- can you give us now, or at some point, some game plan -- what is the U.S. diplomatic approach -- obviously it is not military -- approach is to Yugoslavia? MS. TUTWILER: Well, I can repeat for you the game plan -- your characterization -- that we announced last week. It had three parts, one of which has already been adopted, which was calling for an emergency meeting at the experts level of the CSCE on April 29 -- that is five days from now, Wednesday. We also announced -- and then a resolution was passed within 24 hours, as I recall, unanimously by over 40 nations that were there, to support our suggestion that they would at that time consider suspending Yugoslav's membership in the CSCE. We said that we would also look at admitting, on an emergency basis, Bosnia. Now I said yesterday, and nothing has changed overnight, there is nothing additional that I know of that the United States has to announce at this time. Q The United Nations Security Council had an informal discussion on Yugoslavia yesterday, I believe. MS. TUTWILER: Correct. Q Can you give us a flavor? MS. TUTWILER: No, because they are still continuing those discussions. Yesterday, I think it was Barry or Patrick who asked me about Germany and the Netherlands, they had heard had asked for an emergency meeting. My understanding is that that is still just there -- that they decided instead, it is my understanding, for the Security Council to have informal consultations which are continuing today. But I don't have anything specific out of them. Q Would the United States support some kind of resolution to the Security Council on the situation in Bosnia? MS. TUTWILER: It is just too speculative for me. As you know, the United States, in the person of the Secretary of State, has attended one Security Council meeting at a Ministerial level. I don't know, Alan. I don't want to just freelance on what they may or may not come up with at the UN. I just don't know. Q Well, it is not just a question of them coming up with things. Does the United States -- MS. TUTWILER: The language, as you know, is important to each nation. I just don't know what the text would say. I cannot stand here and on behalf of our Government or the White House say yes, whatever they pass, we'd say yes, we endorse it -- whatever they table, or what the draft would be. I can't do that. Q Margaret, have the peace regional talk invitations gone out yet? MS. TUTWILER: No, they have not. I checked for you, and they will be oral presentations by our staff on the ground, and they will probably -- those oral invitations -- will probably start happening at the first of next week, the week coming up. Q Will there be -- I hesitate to use the word "script" coming from the business I'm in -- but will there be some scripted language that deals with the issue of representation, or will that be a matter that might be up for some misconstruction, perhaps by people in the field? MS. TUTWILER: No, I don't think we would leave any room for misconstruction. As we have for many of the bilaterals, these are obviously instructions to post from headquarters, from the State Department, and obviously there is specific language in your instructions. These are then delivered. Some ambassadors, to be perfectly literal with you, leave points; some ambassadors don't. Some ambassadors just do the whole thing verbally; some don't. It is really kind of up to post. But, overall, it is to handle it exactly as we did the bilaterals, which were oral presentations. Q Margaret, are the invitations to all five working groups going out at the first of next week? MS. TUTWILER: My understanding is that that has not been resolved yet. Q And which -- MS. TUTWILER: And there is a possibility that they would not be. Q Is it the case that it is possible that the invitations to the working group in Washington on arms control will be delayed because there is dispute over who to invite between the United States and Israel? MS. TUTWILER: That's one of the possibilities that I've heard about, but my understanding is there is no final decision concerning that. Q So when you say the invitations will go out the first of next week, you must have an idea in your mind of the working groups to which you are certain the invitations will go out. Maybe you could share that with us? MS. TUTWILER: I could tell you that I don't, because I didn't ask or delve into that level of detail this morning. I just didn't get into it. I mean, I'll be happy to ask the experts. I am aware of a situation that you have pointed out. I am aware of, through unnamed and named various officials, that the Israelis have a view on certain things about this. I've told you we do not have an official Israeli Government response. We still don't. So I'm hesitant to -- to be honest with you, until you are dealing with something that is real -- delve into this level of detail. Q Just to paraphrase your answer to Ralph's question, what you actually meant to say was that the invitations to some of the working groups, but possibly not to all of them, will go out next week. MS. TUTWILER: Well, since I know, to my knowledge, there are no final decisions, Alan, that could be construed as starting a problem that I'm not positive exists right now. I am aware that those conversations are going on. I'm personally not aware that there's a final determination that, indeed, what you have painted will happen early next week. If it does, then obviously I would be out here saying three sets of invitations went, four didn't, five did. I would be totally straightforward about it. I just am not sure that that final determination has been made. Q Margaret, what is the U.S. position on the participation by the United Nations in each of the five types of talks? MS. TUTWILER: To be honest with you, it's again a level of detail I have not gotten into. I'm aware that there are various different views on it, and in each of the different five working groups, we have an entire set of experts who work this full time. That's what they're doing, and it's their job. It's not my job. And I'll be happy to take your questions on it. Q Margaret, did the Secretary of State write to Israel recently, trying to persuade them once more to attend the working groups on refugees and economic development? MS. TUTWILER: I honestly don't know. I'll check for you. Q He almost pre-empted my question, but the Palestinians would like to have that working group on refugees, and my understanding is that Israel objected to the idea of having refugees discussed in any of these working groups. What's the State Department's position on that? MS. TUTWILER: I'm not aware that Israel has objected to having a working group on refugees, if that's your question to me. If your question is, "Has Israel officially objected to diaspora refugees in this meeting," I will say again today, as I have every day this week, we have no official Israeli Government decision on that. We are well aware of Israel's concerns about this, but they have not given us an official decision. Q Maybe another similar area: Hanan Ashrawi said over the last couple of days that the Palestinians from the diaspora will be taking part in the bilateral talks, either here or possibly in Rome. What was the position -- or what is the position of the State Department? MS. TUTWILER: I haven't seen a statement by Hanan [Ashrawi] to that effect, and the bilateral talks -- the terms of agreement have not changed at all. Q And the last one on this: Early this week you made the statement about Rome being the venue for the sixth round. MS. TUTWILER: Last week, I think. Q Yes. Last week. Do you have a date for that? MS. TUTWILER: No. When we made that announcement in our statement, and in questions here, we have said that timing of that, a date for that, is still being reviewed and discussed. Q Margaret, are there any waivers in the works for this current round? MS. TUTWILER: Yes. The same ones that have attended the previous rounds -- it's the same universe -- and it is four people. They're the same exact four, it's my understanding, who attended round four. Two of them, as you know, have attended all rounds, and three of them, I think, have attended three rounds. Right now, authorization for a waiver of those visas is en route to post. Q The four people. MS. TUTWILER: The same four people who were here for round four. Q For convenience, could someone give us the names? MS. TUTWILER: I'll be happy to. I have them all with me. Q And I'm trying to remember what the -- you need a reason, don't you? I mean, I think you used a speech or something as a reason. MS. TUTWILER: I don't know what the individual determinations are that will be made at the post, but I know that authorization for the waiver has gone. Q Have you been only asked for four? I mean, are there -- were there -- MS. TUTWILER: To my knowledge, yes. Q So you didn't find yourself rejecting any request? Whatever they asked for, you gave them. Q Let me restate this, so that the record reflects it. Two of these individuals have been at all previous four rounds. One of the individuals has been at all previous three rounds. One of the other individuals was at round four. So these are not new names, Barry. These are not people who have not been here, and I assume -- I didn't check what each person's waiver request was -- they will be granted it for the same reasons they were previously over the last four or five months. Q Margaret, another subject -- Q (Multiple questions) MS. TUTWILER: Excuse me. When I asked this -- Q Why don't you go ahead and give us the names since -- MS. TUTWILER: I'll post it, if you don't mind. Q All right. MS. TUTWILER: I can't pronounce each of the names. I'll be happy to spell them individually, if you'd like. Q That's all right. No. I think it's important that the United States Government make that announcement rather than having us -- MS. TUTWILER: It's not a secret. It's just the lack of my correct pronounciation of all of these names. I'll be happy to -- they are the same names that have been every single time, and I'll be happy to -- Barry, I was going to tell you something else. When I asked this morning your question on, "Are there additional requests," we know of no additional requests. So there aren't any, as of today, that I know anything about or that the Bureau does. Q Margaret, Afghanistan? Q Still on this subject: Why is it necessary that the invitations for the regional talks go out through the posts, if you're going to have all the key players, and certainly the ones who would have objections, present in Washington, potentially for a very high-level discussion of these issues? MS. TUTWILER: The Madrid invitations went out to capitals. Q But they were written. MS. TUTWILER: The bilaterals went to capitals. And the multilaterals are going to capitals. If nothing more, I would assume, for a courtesy. These people who are here are delegates. They're not head of their governments. Q Will these invitations have new -- I know -- you say they're going to be orally or verbally delivered? Are they going to have new terms of reference, different from Madrid? MS. TUTWILER: Not that I know of. I'll be happy to ask. Q Please. Q Margaret, do you have any comment -- the United States Government have any comment on Israeli proposal for municipal elections in the territories -- MS. TUTWILER: I did that yesterday. I'm so sorry you weren't here. That was Mr. Dancy's question. And, basically, I said that in principle, of course, we agree with elections, but that specifically we're not going to interject ourselves at this time into various proposals that are being floated around -- Q Margaret, but the Palestinians rejected -- MS. TUTWILER: By anybody. Q The Palestinians rejected the proposal today. MS. TUTWILER: On any proposals, we're not going to specifically get ourselves into. Q Margaret, on the same subject, just in case this person is on your list of waivers, there's a report that Mohammed Hourani has been stopped by the Israelis, prevented to go to Jordan and then on to Washington. MS. TUTWILER: He's not on my list, and we saw that this morning, and our Embassy can get absolutely no information about it, so we don't know if it's true or false. We looked into it. We had zero on it. Q There are press reports in the Middle East and in Europe about growing strains in Syrian-American relations, and the Syrians did contact the American side and express their concerns and dismay for what they see as inspired leaks that would point the finger at their involvement in the Pan Am 103. Can you confirm these contacts? Can you confirm what -- MS. TUTWILER: I haven't heard about the press reports you're commenting on to me. I don't know of any contact at the State Department to express concerns, and so it's a subject I have no knowledge of. Q Were you asked about this -- I was out this week -- were you asked to comment on the Time magazine's report about the possible involvement of -- MS. TUTWILER: No, I was not. Q Well, can I ask you about that? MS. TUTWILER: I don't normally -- Q Do you have anything to say about -- because DEA was dragged into this thing as part of the scheme. I mean, the Pan Am bombing was part of a DEA scheme, in which a Syrian citizen was allegedly involved. I mean, can you comment on this on the record? MS. TUTWILER: Number one, I haven't read the article. Number two, I am vaguely familiar with the contents of it from others here in the building. Number three, we make it a policy not to specifically comment on either columnists or specific articles. And, number four, I would refer you to extensive briefings our Government has had on the record, on camera, when all of this information was made [available]. Nothing has changed concerning our views about our extensive investigation and our conclusions, and that's really all I have on that. Q Margaret, the Syrian Ambassador was -- I'm sorry. Q Same thing. He was here yesterday -- the Syrian Ambassador. MS. TUTWILER: Well I'm sorry, Jan, I didn't know. Q Anyway that we could get whether or not -- MS. TUTWILER: Who did he see? I don't know. Q Well, would you ask Mr. Djerejian if he would let us know if this came up in his conversation with the Syrian Ambassador? MS. TUTWILER: I'll be happy to ask him. Q In a related thing, is the United States considering lifting travel restrictions to Syria as part of -- MS. TUTWILER: My understanding is that travel advisories are -- there's a certain process here. They're reviewed, I believe, every three months or six months, and at the end of a year, some are pulled or changed. I believe the one on Syria has -- the current one that is in place -- has been up for a year, and in that review -- I believe it was put up for a specific reason. I can't remember what it is. The specific reason has expired or has gone away, and so I believe that is exactly what the Consular Affairs people have determined to do. Q Couldn't the specific reason be that Syria is on the terrorism list and -- MS. TUTWILER: No. It wasn't. Q What was the specific answer? A little tiny incident -- that was your reason for discouraging Americans? MS. TUTWILER: I can't remember, Barry. There are over 90 travel advisories that are up right now. I'm not intimately familiar, obviously, with each one of them. You had asked this question, I believe, this morning of one of my colleagues. I literally learned in 60 seconds walking down the hall what was going on, and that's the limits of what I know. I'll be happy to have Consular Affairs give you a specific. My understanding is that it is nothing more than a routine matter. Q Margaret, do you have a response to the appointment of the head of the ruling military council as -- MS. TUTWILER: Of the what? Q The head of the ruling military council has been appointed Prime Minister in Burma. Do you have any comment on that? MS. TUTWILER: I'm not familiar with that, Jan. Q They've also said that they are proposing to release some political prisoners. Could you check into this? MS. TUTWILER: I'll look at what's going on in Burma. Q Apparently, there's even word that Aung San Suu Kyi might be one of them. MS. TUTWILER: I don't know. I haven't checked on Burma in a while. Q Does the State Department have a view on the developments in Afghanistan in the last 24 to 48 hours? Apparently, a council is in the making. MS. TUTWILER: Correct. Q What is the view of the U.S. Government? MS. TUTWILER: We have reports that some sort of agreement has been reached among resistance parties and commanders on forming a government. Whatever agreement that is arrived at peacefully, we would obviously strongly welcome. The U.N. Secretary General's Special Representative, Mr. Sevan, is in Peshawar meeting with resistance leaders. We applaud his efforts, and we have very few details on this agreement. To be quite honest with you, this morning, the first that had seen of this was when it was flashed across the wires. We hope that it is true. We applaud the efforts of any people who are trying to contribute to this. We just don't have a lot of details right now. Q Apparently, one major figure left out of that meeting was Hekmatyar, the fundamentalist leader. Is that all right with the U.S. Government? Is the U.S. Government -- there are more questions to ask you about him as well. He apparently is the only one who hasn't agreed not to march into Kabul and also there's apprehension that the dam that controls electricity to the city, which has never been affected during the long war, may be in danger now. Can you address any of those questions? You evidently have contact with various factions, including him. MS. TUTWILER: We do. Your information is news to me. It is also quite different, Barry, than what I have seen of Mr. Hekmatyar -- quoted by your colleagues and news organizations over there within the last two days -- saying. So I don't have the characterization that you have. Q About the capital or about the council? MS. TUTWILER: About what his intentions are, what he is going to do, etc. So I don't have that characterization that you have. It doesn't mean it may not come true, but I don't have that right now. Your other thing about the dam -- I have seen nothing this morning on the dam. I'll be happy to ask. Q If you can ask -- in this area generally -- a question I wish you would try to get an answer to is whether, in your request for a broad-based government -- or your support for a broad-based -- you think his group should be part of that broad-based government? And are you seeking a commitment from him to not cause any problems in Kabul? MS. TUTWILER: We're seeking commitments from everyone not to cause problems in Kabul, if you're talking about resolving this transition in a peaceful way. We've said that every day. As far as whether or not our Embassy personnel speak to his representatives, my understanding is that we're speaking to everyone -- for everyone to use any influence that they have to try to manage this situation in a peaceful way. Q Yesterday, you said it would be prudent of the U.S. Government to remove certain American-made weapon systems from Afghanistan. Why would it be prudent to remove them? Are you afraid that the folks will use them on each other, or what? MS. TUTWILER: Well, I don't have a much fuller explanation today for you than I had yesterday. But it is our view that limiting or removing weapon systems that can cause large-scale destruction is a natural outgrowth of our objective. Our objective that was stated on September 13 was to further a political settlement in Afghanistan and stop the bloodshed. Q And can you tell us today if you're succeeding in this -- MS. TUTWILER: No. No, we don't have another sentence today. We struck out. Q Margaret, not too long ago Najibullah, to the U.S., was a despot, a tyrant and what have you. The U.S. was quite irritated when India gave him the red carpet treatment. How will the U.S. feel, since his family is in India -- how will the U.S. feel if India affords him asylum and he goes to India? MS. TUTWILER: I'm not going to comment on possible asylum concerning him. We said many days ago that we are aware that a number of countries have expressed an interest or are willing for him to come there, and we refused to say which countries they were or a further characterization. Q Did he apply to the U.S. for asylum, by any chance? MS. TUTWILER: Excuse me? Q Has he applied to the U.S. for asylum, by any chance? MS. TUTWILER: Not that I know of. Q You were unwilling the other day also to say whether you agree with all the factions he should be brought to trial. You called it a "sensitive matter." MS. TUTWILER: We answered that later in the day for you. Q You did say whether you're in favor of having him tried or not? MS. TUTWILER: No. We answered it by saying that would be up for the Afghan people to determine. Q Most everything is. Q Margaret, this September 13 agreement, there's a certain implication when you say that it was agreed to retrieve these major weapons systems. The implication is that these major weapons systems were supplied, in the first place. Are you confirming, or can you confirm now that, in fact, was the case? MS. TUTWILER: No. I can't do anymore than what the Secretary of State has done and other government officials throughout this, in my discussions of it. Again, I have also said that this is something that we discussed with the Russians. So you may be just focused on American, but there is also Russian, which are, I believe, also well-known major weapons systems that were supplied there. Q Margaret, any progress in getting the American Government to acknowledge how much it spent in providing and arming the mujahideen over the course of the 14 years that we supported them? MS. TUTWILER: Any progress, since the answer that we gave after one of the briefings this week? None that I know of. Q There's yet to be a dollar figure? That's what I'm looking for. MS. TUTWILER: I know that. I believe that we gave you the -- after one of the briefings this week; I can't remember which -- our rationale for that, and the policy just hasn't changed. Q Margaret, in the interest of openness and the accountability to the American taxpayer, of whom I am one, although I don't hold your citizenship -- MS. TUTWILER: I'm one, too, Alan. Q There was a laugh the last time I mentioned "the taxpayer" because of my accent, but I resent very deeply -- MS. TUTWILER: Come on, you all. Q Okay. My question is this: Do you accept the principle that at some point you should reveal, disclose, what was spent on arming the mujahideen on a policy which ultimately proved to be successful, which was driving the Soviets out of Afghanistan and getting rid of the communist government? MS. TUTWILER: That would be a decision, in my mind, that the American taxpayers, who elect our President and vote for him, that's a decision that he would make; not me. I don't know what his view is concerning that specific and literal question. But maybe your colleague could ask Marlin (Fitzwater) over at the White House. I just don't know. But that, in my mind, is clearly a Presidential determinate as the person who sets our country's foreign policy. Q Margaret, some of the groups, as well as the U.N. Secretary General's representative, have said that Najibullah's fate and survival seems to be getting in the way of this political solution. Would the U.S. look favorably upon a quick exit wherever he decides to go so that it can expedite the political process? MS. TUTWILER: I really don't have anything to add to this subject other than what I've said all week long concerning it, which has been very little. Q Is he still in Kabul? MS. TUTWILER: To my knowledge, yes. Q Margaret, can I take you back to Yugoslavia? Maybe you have something on the decision by Serbia and Montenegro to proclaim themselves as a new federation -- a Yugoslav federation? MS. TUTWILER: I didn't know they had done that. I know that's what they were considering and what they have said publicly they were doing. They did this this morning? Q (Inaudible) MS. TUTWILER: Sorry. No, I wasn't aware that they had. Q Could you take the question whether the United States acknowledges Serbia and Montenegro as the successor to the old Yugoslavia which naturally takes over their membership of international organizations and their assets as well. Could you take that question? MS. TUTWILER: Yes. Q Thank you. MS. TUTWILER: Thank you all. Have a nice weekend. (Press briefing concluded at 12:28 p.m.)