US Department of State Daily Briefing #63: Monday, 4/27/92

Tutwiler Source: State Department Spokesman Margaret Tutwiler Description: Washington, DC Date: Apr, 27 19924/27/92 Category: Briefings Region: MidEast/North Africa, Eurasia Country: Israel, USSR (former), Syria, China, Germany, Peru, Afghanistan, Serbia-Montenegro, Iraq Subject: Mideast Peace Process, Development/Relief Aid, Trade/Economics, Travel, Human Rights, Security Assistance and Sales, Terrorism, Refugees, State Department l2:l8 P.M. (ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED) MS. TUTWILER: I have, and I ask your patience, a number of things I'd like to do. Some are housekeeping matters; some are updates; some are announcements. So I guess, as we've done in the past, if it suits you all, after each subject we can stop and I'll try to answer your questions and then go on to the next, knowing that I have statements in almost every area today. Housekeeping: This Thursday, April 30, Secretary Baker will testify before the House Foreign Affairs Committee. The testimony will be at l0:OO a.m. I do not yet have the room number for you. We'll post it as soon as we get it. The subject of his testimony will be the Freedom Support Act; and, as you know, we will not have a briefing here at the State Department.

[Former Soviet Union: Update on Assistance]

Okay. My next update, which I'll be brief -- we have a very long statement for you, two, as a matter of fact -- is my weekly update on assistance to the former Soviet Union. I have a six-page update statement. It has a great deal of detail covering a lot of the different baskets that we're involved in. I also have available for you this weekend's Group of Seven statement that was issued yesterday. As you know, that concerns the former Soviet Union also. In the economic area, briefly, Assistant Secretary McAllister is leading a delegation to discuss bilateral investment treaties with Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Armenia. Treasury is also leading a separate team to discuss tax treaties with Ukraine, Kazakhstan and Russia. As you know, many of these treaties the Secretary of State has personally discussed. Alan, I think you were on the trip when he went through the former Central Asian Republics. You weren't there; it was Carol? These are the follow-ups to those things that the Secretary personally did when he was there. We also have a quite lengthy statement for you that Ambassador Armitage's office has prepared for us concerning where we are with various donor groups. It identifies what is needed and the areas where it is needed. Ambassador Armitage is testifying this afternoon before the House Select Committee on Hunger. I do not have the room number or the specific time, but his office will have that for you. And we have other areas that were covered in our six-page statement.

[Middle East Peace Process: Opening of Bilateral Talks] ]

On the bilateral talks that began here today, this morning, as you know -- and I don't have the literal, specific times -- the Syrians and the Israelis began, the Palestinians and the Israelis, and the Lebanese and the Israelis. The Jordanians and the Israelis are beginning this afternoon. It is my understanding that the following groups are having press conferences: The Palestinians at l:30 p.m., the Syrians at 2:00, the Jordanians at 2:30. Those, it's my understanding, are all at the Grand Hotel. And the Israelis' is at 3:00 p.m. at the Mayflower. Each time that these groups meet you all ask me who all Ed Djerejian is meeting with or met with. Ambassador Djerejian met last night with Eli Rubinstein. He spoke by phone with Ambassador Shoval. He met with the Palestinians this morning. He does not, as of this briefing, have any other meetings scheduled today, but that does not mean that they won't occur. And throughout the time that the groups are in town, he will continue, as he has in the past, to meet with them. On the beginning of this fifth round, I'd like to make three points: First, it's important to take a step back and keep what's occurring in perspective. With the opening of the fifth round of bilaterals, direct Arab-Israeli negotiations are becoming a normal part of the landscape. That's a remarkable development, and it's the first condition for substantive progress. Secondly, as we've said all along, this is going to be a hard step-by-step process. No one should expect immediate breakthroughs. And, thirdly, what's important to keep in mind is that all of the parties are showing seriousness and a willingness to begin to engage in substance. We'll be encouraging them to continue to do so during the current round and to begin to narrow their differences on substantive issues. Many of you had asked me about the [invitations to] multilaterals, and I had said that I believed they were going out over the weekend to be delivered early this week. That's, indeed, what has happened. All invitations are out, and they will be delivered verbally today in the various capitals. Q Could we have a copy of the invitations and see if you've changed the terms of reference for Palestinian participation? MS. TUTWILER: We have not changed the terms of reference for participation. As you know, the terms of reference laid out in the negotiated document for Madrid -- which all parties went to -- dealt with Madrid, bilaterals and the organizational meeting of the multilaterals. One of the issues to be discussed at that organizational meeting in Moscow was to determine what the participation would be in any follow-on meetings that happened. And, no, we're not going to make public our invitations. This is not something that was negotiated as the other was. It is being handled the same way that our proposals for the bilaterals have been, and that's being handled by our Ambassadors in capitals verbally. Q So can you, at least, make public how you are phrasing the issue of Palestinian representation -- which is different, by all predictions, from what approach you used in Madrid? MS. TUTWILER: It's being phrased exactly as the Secretary of State phrased it to you in Moscow any number of times. Q Can you give us a list of who's been invited, or provide one for us after the briefing? MS. TUTWILER: I'll see. Sure. Q For the arms control meeting, specifically, here in Washington -- MS. TUTWILER: Yes. Q -- am I right in assuming that, at least, all the parties who were in Moscow have been invited to that? MS. TUTWILER: I don't know. I am not in that level of detail to tell you which list for every single different one that's going out. I don't know. Q Are they different? Are the invitations to different groups being addressed to different parties, or is that kind of an inclusive thing -- you're invited to all five? MS. TUTWILER: I don't know. I'll be happy to check for you. Q Margaret, on the -- Q Is this (inaudible) to ask you about the talks? Go ahead. Q Yes. Back on the bilaterals, are you disappointed that all the parties have scheduled press conferences, given that -- MS. TUTWILER: No. They have one every day when they're here -- in the past. Q Well, I know that, but Mr. Djerejian last night made a sort of public appeal to hold down the rhetoric; and here they are, Day l, having as many press conferences as ever. MS. TUTWILER: Well, rhetoric is -- we have a daily briefing here and sometimes I can come out and use rhetoric, or we can come out and just do a normal briefing. So I don't think the two are exclusive of the other. And so -- Q Tell us which one you're doing. (Laughter) MS. TUTWILER: What am I doing today? Today I'm just -- Q Just give us a signal. (Laughter) MS. TUTWILER: I'm just informational today. Q Things are just normal. MS. TUTWILER: So I mean this is what they've all along. I'm not aware that Ed or anybody else has ever suggested -- Q Or expressions -- MS. TUTWILER: -- don't have your daily or weekly, or every morning or afternoon -- or whatever you want -- press conferences. But that's quite different than using rhetoric at those opportunities versus, you know, just a different approach. Q Well, here's a rhetorical opportunity -- MS. TUTWILER: I have another statement. Remember. Q -- The Israelis are saying, in Finland and other places, that they're ready to put on the table an election plan -- a plan for municipal elections to further autonomy. Is that something the United States welcomes? MS. TUTWILER: I don't have anything new for you today on the various plans that may or may not be put on the table. I addressed it, I think, almost every day last week; and the statements are the same. We're just not going to enjoin in that right now. Q Well, Mr. Djerejian says that it's time to get on with it and to narrow differences -- MS. TUTWILER: That's what I just said. Q -- autonomy is the issue on that front, and the Israelis are proposing elections. Isn't that the sort of thing Baker and Djerejian and everybody else has in mind? MS. TUTWILER: I'll say what I said to you on Friday, and I said generically speaking -- I believe it was you who was asking me -- Q Yes. MS. TUTWILER: -- I will say the same thing again on Monday that I told you on Friday: Generically speaking, generally speaking, does the United States support elections? Of course. But I also said, as I recall, that we were not going to get involved in the specific proposals that may or may not be being proposed. That was for the parties themselves to determine and to discuss, and the appropriate avenue or venue for that was at the negotiating table. Q Margaret, is it your understanding that these talks will only go four days, this round? MS. TUTWILER: I don't have any understanding like that. I've seen various rumors, as we have, at each one of the beginnings of these meetings; and so far the actual length of time, to my knowledge -- quickly running through it in my mind -- has never come out to be what the rumors are. So I don't know. There's no agreement that I know of. Q Margaret, since this is the last session in Washington before going to Rome, Italy, can we ask that maybe after the conclusion that the Secretary of State will have a news conference to address these main issues and give an assessment of the achievements so far in the peace process or the peace talks? MS. TUTWILER: I'll ask him. Q Thank you. MS. TUTWILER: May I do a statement I have on Syria? We are very pleased to have obtained official confirmation from the Syrian Government of the lifting of discriminatory restrictions on travel and disposition of property for the Syrian Jewish community. As you may know, the status of Syria's Jewish community has been a part of our dialogue with the Syrian leadership. President Bush discussed Syrian Jewry with President Assad in their meeting in Geneva in November l990, and Secretary Baker has raised this issue on several occasions with President Assad in Damascus. Indeed, during the course of one of Secretary Baker's eight visits to Damascus to discuss the peace process and other issues, he discussed the status of Syrian Jewry for over one hour with President Assad. These discussions have focused on the release of the Soued brothers, granting exit visas for unmarried Jewish women, and reuniting divided families. Further, Ambassador Ed Djerejian and his successor, Chris Ross, have continued this dialogue. Following President Assad's recent meeting with the leaders of the Syrian Jewish community, including Rabbi Hamra and Dr. Hasbani, the Soued brothers were released from prison; and in the case of travel, all members of the Syrian Jewish community will now be accorded the same rights as those afforded to all other Syrian citizens. This means that Syrian Jews will now be allowed to travel abroad as a family, on business and for vacations. Further, the Syrian Government has removed difficulties encountered by its Jewish citizens with regard to the sale and purchase of property in Syria. We have been told by the Syrian Government that these measures have already been put into effect. We welcome this policy decision by President Assad and his government. Further, we are pleased that our high-level dialogue with Syria has contributed, not only to the Syrian decision to join the peace negotiations, but also to this decision on the rights of Syrian Jews, and we look forward to its full implementation. I forgot to point out at the beginning: Marlin will be making a very similar statement on Air Force One. They are en route to Florida -- Florida, I think Marlin said -- and so there's a White House statement that's going out simultaneously -- as I was here. Q Margaret, beyond this, would we like to see free emigration rights for Syrian Jews? MS. TUTWILER: We would like to see free emigration for everyone. We are, today, welcoming and acknowledging what we were told -- finally confirmed this morning and told over the weekend was a new policy by President Assad. We recognize that it does not cover what you have just asked me about. As we understand it, Syria's Jewish community will now be accorded the same rights as those enjoyed by other Syrian citizens, i.e., as I said, they're free to travel and return to Syria. Syrian Jews will be treated no differently than all other Syrian citizens. This means the total freedom of travel. However, Syrian law continues to prohibit travel to Israel. Q Is there a quid pro quo on this? Did the United States give Syria anything in return? MS. TUTWILER: No. Q Did Israel, as far as you know? MS. TUTWILER: Not that I know of. Q Do you know, generally speaking -- MS. TUTWILER: I'm not aware, John, that this has been public until Marlin's (Fitzwater) release on Air Force I and my own. Q Do you know if Syrians, generally, have a right to travel freely? You're saying the community is going to get the same rights as most Syrians -- MS. TUTWILER: Let me put it to you this way: It's my understanding that the last time President Assad met with the Rabbi and the heads of the Syrian Jewish community was in 1976. I believe -- and maybe I'm incorrect -- but the experts here in this building see this as a substantial step that we are pleased with, we have welcomed. We want to, obviously, see its full implementation, and that this is something that the President of the United States and the Secretary of State have spent quite a bit of time on in their meetings with President Assad. Q I get the drift. I'm just trying to see if the State Department has any appraisal of the rights of Syrians -- all Syrians to travel? Do they have an unfettered right to travel -- Syrians? MS. TUTWILER: Maybe that's in our human rights report that I don't have at my fingertips. Q We'll look it up. MS. TUTWILER: I'm sure that if that is the case, Barry, that that is addressed there. But I do believe you'll acknowledge that this was a situation that did exist concerning Syrian Jews. Q We're taking a filing break. We'll make it easier for Marlin. Q One question: You said Syrian Jews are free to travel but not to Israel? MS. TUTWILER: Correct. Q Margaret, does this fulfill the requests made by the President and the Secretary in their meetings with Assad? MS. TUTWILER: On this specific matter, concerning the Soued brothers, on unmarried Jewish women, and on the rights -- for the lifting of Syrian Jews to be able to travel, yes. Q And there's nothing outstanding as far as the issues taken up on this matter between the United States and President Assad; is that right? MS. TUTWILER: Not that I am aware of, or that has been pointed out to me, Mark. On these specific issues that were raised in our meetings, this is what has been decided by President Assad and the Syrian Government. Q Margaret, in your formulation, you said that they would be free to travel for business and for vacation. MS. TUTWILER: As a family. Q As a family -- right -- which was not the case before. MS. TUTWILER: Correct. Q Should they not return, would this prejudice that right or the current situation for other Syrian Jews who may want to leave afterwards? What about -- MS. TUTWILER: That's a speculative question for me. I don't have an answer for you. Maybe you're answer could be addressed to the Syrian Government. That's purely speculative for me. I'm merely stating what we have officially been told, what we understand it to mean, and that is a total hypothetical for me: Should someone leave and they not return, does it then harm others who may wish to leave? I can't deal with that. Q As a matter of policy, does the U.S. Government support the right of Syrian Jews to decide whether they want to stay or go after they travel abroad? MS. TUTWILER: What I'm really going to do today is not hypothesize with you. I'm going to stick -- Q No. I'm asking about U.S. policy. MS. TUTWILER: I understand that, but that's hypothetical for me. I don't know that a Syrian Jew would make such a decision. So when you have a specific case, I'll give you a specific policy. I don't have a case this morning. Q What about freedom to emigrate? Q (Inaudible) MS. TUTWILER: I understand that. I have been forward-leaning on this and said, honestly, that Syrian law has not changed concerning -- they are still, under Syrian law, prohibited to travel to Israel. Q Margaret, as you acknowledge, the Secretary and the President have worked with Syria for some time on this. What's your assessment as to why they're making this move now? MS. TUTWILER: I'm not sure, Carol, that we are the best people to do this assessment. We took a look at that this morning. It's our view that the Syrian decision came in the aftermath of President Assad's meeting with the leaders of the Syrian Jewish community, the first, as I said, since 1976. We think that it would be irresponsible to speculate on motivation, except to say that it should improve the general atmosphere and build confidence in the Middle East. As I've said here today, the President, Secretary Baker, and other members of the Administration have long encouraged the Syrian Government to take such steps. We believe our ongoing dialogue with the Syrian Government was helpful, and we also see the ongoing peace process as creating a climate which encourages such gestures. Q Margaret, let me ask you, do you know if the invitation was the initiative of President Assad or did the Jewish community leaders request a meeting with President Assad? MS. TUTWILER: I don't know. You'd have to ask the Syrians. Q Can I get a copy of that statement, please? MS. TUTWILER: Sure. Q Is this the kind of confidence -- would you go so far as to say that this is the kind of confidence-building measure that the United States has been looking for from both sides? MS. TUTWILER: I don't know whether you would call it a confidence-building measure or not. I'll leave that to you. But this is specifically -- in our U.S.-Syrian dialogue -- specifics that we have been asking for quite a while; on something for the Syrian Government to re-evaluate, review, and, hopefully, make a different decision. They indeed have. Q But this is the kind of thing you have been urging both sides to show flexibility on some of the issues -- MS. TUTWILER: Well, sure. Q So this is a confidence-building step? MS. TUTWILER: I'm going to leave the adjectives -- whether it's confidence-building or not -- up to you all. That's not my job. You all can decide that, if you think it is or is not. What I'm dealing with is something that we have been in discussions about, had a long dialogue about. We were informed officially -- Saturday, I believe it was; late Saturday -- that this, indeed, is an official decision by the Syrian Government. Q If I can just clarify Mark's question. The issue of emigration was not then on the agenda? MS. TUTWILER: I didn't say these are the only things that Secretary Baker and President Bush have ever discussed. I'm sure, as you know, in any of our bilateral relations, there are a whole host of issues. On these specific ones, we are pleased about how the Syrian Government has resolved these. That does not mean -- I don't think I said out here -- there are not other issues in our dialogue with the Syrian Government that we still continue to press on. Q Then is it fair to say that emigration is one of those that you still continue to press on? MS. TUTWILER: It is fair to say that, today, we are very pleased with the results that have -- that we were informed of by the Syrian Government concerning specifics that we have discussed. I have said that this does not change the Syrian law concerning travel to Israel. That is obviously something that we would like for them to address. Q Margaret, what issues of concern to Syria has the U.S. discussed with the Government of Israel in the same way that freedom of travel for Syrian Jews was an issue of concern to Israel that the U.S. discussed with Syria? MS. TUTWILER: I don't know. I'll have to check. Q I believe I know your answer to this, Margaret, but is there any connection between this move by Syria and the lifting of the travel -- MS. TUTWILER: Travel advisory. Zero. Since we were officially informed this weekend, we did not know this was coming. As you know, the specific travel advisory you're speaking to, that review has been in the process for weeks. So there's no way the two are connected at all. John. Q Margaret, Syria does remain on the terrorism list; is that correct? MS. TUTWILER: Yes. Q Is that under review at all? MS. TUTWILER: No. Q Their membership on that is not under review? MS. TUTWILER: No. Q Would it be fair to call this a modest thaw? Would it be fair to -- MS. TUTWILER: I've got to leave the adjectives up to you. Q Margaret, under the Taif agreements, Syria is due to withdraw its troops to the Bekaa Valley in Lebanon in September. Do you think Syria should stick to that schedule, or is there some leeway? MS. TUTWILER: I don't remember, Patrick, to be honest with you. The schedule, I remember -- the substance of the Taif Agreement. We have called for all of those -- and I believe that Syria was a party to Taif -- to implement what they agreed to. But I just don't remember the specific schedule. Q So there's no give there? That could be one concession you could make to Syria in order to obtain this -- MS. TUTWILER: It's something I have not asked this morning. I'm not aware of any change in our policy concerning Taif. Ralph, on your question, I'll be happy to ask. I just don't have it in front of me. I don't know. Q I'm sure there are some issues that -- I mean, Baker himself has spoken many times, for example, of discussing a cessation of settlements; he's talked about something to do with the Arab boycott, and he has spoken many times about who has accepted what. But I wondered whether there were any issues with regard to Syria, specifically, that he discussed with the Israelis? MS. TUTWILER: I'm sure there are. I just don't have them at my fingertips, and my memory is failing me. Q New subject? MS. TUTWILER: Suits me. Q Was the United States aware that, in the months immediately preceding the war, Iraq may have been diverting money for food into arms? MS. TUTWILER: This is the bank question? Q Well, it gets to that. MS. TUTWILER: This is something that I don't have anything for you on. It's something that we have just referred you to the record on. The only part of the story that I'm personally aware of, the Secretary has addressed many times. This one this morning is the agricultural part of it, as I recall -- the Secretary calling -- Q Yes. The question is whether he called Secretary Yeutter? MS. TUTWILER: And he himself has said many times that he has. So there's nothing new I have to add to this. This is -- if you're speaking about -- I believe it's the Los Angeles Times is doing a really long -- it has been doing a long series on this. Q There are several pieces out there; yeah. MS. TUTWILER: I have nothing on it, really. Q Well, the question, of course, is that after he meet with Tariq Aziz -- the Secretary -- in May '89, and Aziz complained, then the Secretary is supposed to have gone to see Secretary Yeutter and ask him -- MS. TUTWILER: Called him. Q Called him and asked him to -- MS. TUTWILER: It's all out there. Q -- and asked him to continue aid -- the agricultural credits -- to Iraq. MS. TUTWILER: To be honest with you, I did not refresh my memory this morning with the Secretary's own statements on this subject. They're all out there. If you don't have them, I'll try to get the Press Office to be helpful and get them for you. Q It would helpful. Thanks. MS. TUTWILER: They're out there. Q Maybe I don't remember all of his statements either -- MS. TUTWILER: It's hard. Q -- but I think the nub issue on Baker at this point is whether, having been fully informed at an interagency meeting of the diversion of U.S. food aid for purchase -- in exchange for arms purchased by Iraq, having been informed of that, did the Secretary turn around almost immediately and urge additional food assistance to Iraq? MS. TUTWILER: Without agreeing to your question -- which I don't -- all I'm going to do is continue, honestly, to refer you to his own statements concerning his involvement. I believe it was a CCC credit. I believe that he has said in public testimony -- it's all part of the record, etc., -- that, yes, he called Clayton Yeutter, but does not describe it exactly as your question comes. So it's just something that I don't have anything to add to. He has answered this question himself, and so I really don't have anything on it today. Q But the revelation of facts in terms of the time line is what makes that question more interesting. He confirmed that he asked for more food aid. Did he do so in the immediate aftermath of having been informed of this diversion? MS. TUTWILER: I have no idea. Honestly, I didn't ask this morning. Q Would you restate for the record his reason for going back to Secretary Yeutter? MS. TUTWILER: No, because I did not even bring it with me. I would rather -- since you have so much interest in it -- refer you literally to his exact words. Since this was -- what? -- 1989 -- and today is April 1992, I do not have that memorized myself. So I'll produce it. Q New subject? MS. TUTWILER: Yes. Q Do you have anything on the Chinese deliveries of arms to Libya? MS. TUTWILER: Not a lot. We are aware of these reports, and we have raised them directly with the Chinese. The Chinese Government has assured us that they will comply with sanctions imposed under U.N. Security Council Resolution 748. Q Why did you raise it with the Chinese? MS. TUTWILER: Why? Why wouldn't you? Q What was the occasion upon which you took up the subject with them? Did you have information to that effect? MS. TUTWILER: Well, if we didn't have our own information, we'd certainly have it through news reports. When we see things all the time, we raise them with various governments. Why wouldn't you? Q Well, since these are U.N. sanctions, in what capacity is the United States raising this issue with them? MS. TUTWILER: I didn't ask. I don't know. We raised it. What prohibits us from doing so? Q Could you take the question: For what reason did the United States consider itself, in effect, the policeman on this issue? MS. TUTWILER: I didn't say that we were acting as a policeman. Q I know you didn't, but you raised it. So the question is, why would the U.S. raise this issue? It's a U.N. sanction. Q Does the Administration accept the explanation that the ship was within Libyan territorial waters -- MS. TUTWILER: What I'm not going to do is be able to get into any types of specifics concerning our conversations with the Chinese about this situation. Q To your knowledge, are there other ships en route that might present a violation? MS. TUTWILER: Not to my knowledge. But I can assure you if I did have any knowledge of it, I'm sure it would be a classified matter that I couldn't comment on. Q Can I just follow? Is there any need, do you see, for a multinational naval force in the Med to monitor this sort of thing? MS. TUTWILER: That would be something that would be a decision for the Security Council and for the United States' vote. That would be a decision for President Bush, not for me to freelance on. Q Do you have -- on Genscher's announcement today that he would be resigning, did the Secretary call him and do you have any -- MS. TUTWILER: Foreign Minister Genscher called Secretary Baker yesterday morning at Secretary Baker's residence. The Secretary basically expressed his sorrow that his friend would be no longer the Dean of the Foreign Ministers' corps, that he would miss him, how much he respected his decision, and that he looked forward to seeing him on Wednesday. As you know, Foreign Minister Genscher will be here. Q Margaret, has the Administration certified Russia, Ukraine and Byelarus for aid? MS. TUTWILER: Yes. Q And what's happened with Kazakhstan? MS. TUTWILER: Well, we have about a five- or six-page, single-spaced statement that we put in. It was an old story, so I don't understand why it was there, to be honest with you. We put out this statement on April 10 and, remember, the Secretary had said in his testimony before the Senate that he thought they were signed and going up that day. So I was a little confused this morning, because it's all out there. Nothing has changed since we issued this lengthy statement concerning the situation. Q The story suggested this certification had gone up to the Hill on Friday night. MS. TUTWILER: When I checked with the Secretary and the Deputy Secretary this morning -- because I asked the very question, "Why is this here?" -- I was told that it had gone. So maybe there was a busted signal at a lower staff level. If there is, they didn't know about it, because I asked. Q Has there been any movement on the START -- MS. TUTWILER: Over the weekend? Q Yes. MS. TUTWILER: No. Q Margaret, do you have any comment on an appeal presented over the weekend by Palestinian women in East Jerusalem to the U.S. Consulate and European Consulates about the activities of so-called "hit squads," "Jewish hit squads," which eliminated, according to the reports, over 30 Palestinians in the last two months? MS. TUTWILER: I haven't seen that report. Q Can you look into this, please? MS. TUTWILER: Yes. Q Margaret, back on Genscher for a moment -- MS. TUTWILER: Genscher. Yes. Q Did he explain to Baker why he was announcing his resignation? MS. TUTWILER: Yes. It's no different than his public statements, which his Foreign Ministry has made and he himself has made. Q Margaret, do you have anything new on the Air Force plane gunned down in Peru? Anything new on it? MS. TUTWILER: Anything new? No. Q What's the status of U.S. and Peruvian diplomatic exchanges on that subject? MS. TUTWILER: I don't really have anything new to add to it. As I believe you all know, our Ambassador spoke immediately after this with President Fujimori. The Pentagon is doing, it's my understanding, a briefing on this today. We -- the United States -- are conducting our own investigation of this. This is something that, obviously, we're very concerned about, but we do not have any definitive statements to make until our own investigation is concluded.

[Afghanistan: Situation Update]

Q How about the situation in Afghanistan? Is the United States satisfied with the level of calm in Kabul right now? MS. TUTWILER: May I do one thing? I have a statement on Afghanistan, and I believe this is something, John, you asked me about previously. It concerns the United States' contribution to repatriation of Afghan refugees. The United States will make an initial contribution of $2 million to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in support of the repatriation program for Afghan refugees in Pakistan in 1992. Through this contribution, the United States will assist in the voluntary repatriation of those Afghan refugees in Pakistan who wish to return home. Approximately 300,000 refugees have participated in this program since its inception in 1990. It's my understanding that in 1991, the United States contributed $3.6 million to that program. One of our principal goals for Afghanistan continues to be the return of the refugees in safety and dignity. Concerning the overall situation -- for John McWethy -- our reporting out of Afghanistan is incomplete and sometimes contradictory. Our assessment is that the former regime has completely collapsed with Mujahidin forces having infiltrated Kabul. It appears that a coalition of resistance and militia groups headed by Mr. Masood now controls most installations and has the dominant position in Kabul. There was fighting around government installations in Kabul over the weekend between Masood's coalition and forces associated with Hekmatyar. At this point, Hekmatyar seems outclassed militarily and isolated politically. Major commanders belonging to his own Pushtoon ethnic group are now part of the coalition against him. Resistance party leaders in Peshawar, in consultation with Masood and other commanders around Kabul, have chosen a council, headed by Professor Mojaddedi to temporarily take power in Kabul. The professor and a group of Afghans are en route by road to Kabul. Our understanding is that they expect to take over the administration of Kabul once they arrive. We have seen announcements of a cease-fire. We hope that they are true, that fighting stops immediately, and that the Afghans proceed with a political resolution based on a broad-based transition mechanism in which the major Afghan groups are represented. Q At what level, or if at all, is the United States represented to any of these groups at this time? MS. TUTWILER: I'm not sure I know what you mean. Q Either on the Pakistani border prior to them leaving to go back to Kabul, or what sort of U.S. representation is there in Kabul? MS. TUTWILER: In Kabul, to my knowledge, zero. Q And on the border -- MS. TUTWILER: Since we pulled them down. Q -- has the U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan been operating with these potential leaders -- MS. TUTWILER: At the border? I haven't read that or been told. I don't know. I don't think that he is at the border. And let me ask -- Q Is he out of the United States? MS. TUTWILER: Our Ambassador to Pakistan? Q To Afghanistan. MS. TUTWILER: Last week, Peter Thompson was here. (TO STAFF) Richard [Boucher], do you know if he has gone again? I don't know. MR. BOUCHER: I don't think so. MS. TUTWILER: He was in this building in Washington, D.C., last week. He obviously last week was talking with various people by phone. I don't know. I'll check if he's planning on going back over there this week.

[Former Yugoslavia: Federation of Serbia-Montenegro Announced]

Q Margaret, how about Yugoslavia? Serbia and Montenegro apparently have formed their own republic. MS. TUTWILER: That's correct. It's our understanding that on April 24, the Serbian and Montenegrin Assemblies approved a constitution of a "Federal Republic of Yugoslavia," consisting of both those republics. Later this afternoon, local time, Serbia and Montenegro will issue a political statement on their new constitution. We understand this statement will address issues relating to the territorial integrity of Bosnia-Hercegovina. We have previously stated our readiness to discuss with Serbia and Montenegro their plans to have a common state. The question of our relationship with them remains under review and will be fully coordinated with our EC partners. As we have explained to the Serbian leadership, the U.S. attitude about future relations with Serbia and Montenegro will be framed by their demonstrative respect for the territorial integrity of the other former Yugoslav republics and for the rights of minorities on their territory. We look for their willingness to negotiate all related issues at the EC Conference, led by Lord Carrington, on the basis of mutual agreement with the other four republics. The role of Serbia in the current violence in Bosnia-Hercegovina will be a major consideration as we review this question. So there's no answer today. Q So the United States is withholding recognition? MS. TUTWILER: Well, number one, it's my understanding that the parliaments have voted on this, but they, themselves, say they're supposed to issue some statement concerning some new constitution. Yes, we're aware that they have a new name, that they are going to call themselves the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. And, yes, today, the United States, concerning recognition has no "yes" or "no" answer for you. Q Where does this leave Macdeonia -- out of any state? MS. TUTWILER: No. As you know, Macedonia is something that on April 6, when the EC met and the United States agreed, we said this was something that we would continue to work on, and we would be looking towards a definitive decision on that shortly. Q Will this new development fasten this up? MS. TUTWILER: Fasten it up? Q Yes. MS. TUTWILER: Not that I've heard. Q Margaret, can I come back to Peru for just one second? MS. TUTWILER: Peru? Q Yes. I guess I don't really understand what's going on here with these various investigations, but there are a lot of other countries in the world which, if they shot down a U.S. plane and killed a U.S. uniformed officer, I think the United States would be pretty upset about it. I detect that the United States is not upset in this case. MS. TUTWILER: That's an incorrect detection. What I'm not going to do is go into these literal specifics that our investigation -- our own -- is finding out for us about the events that took place. I said that we are very concerned. Our officials all weekend, Ralph -- this happened on Friday -- our officials all weekend have expressed our sympathy, obviously, for the United States serviceman's family. We have had any number of officials speaking out all weekend. So I didn't think it was necessary to repeat that. But until we -- the United States Government -- have all these facts and details that are in, we are not going to have a definitive statement for you on the circumstances concerning this. But that is not a lack of sympathy or compassion, obviously, for United States servicemen. Q No one's suggested there would be any lack of sympathy or compassion for any U.S. servicemen. MS. TUTWILER: You said I didn't say anything. Q I said it didn't seem as though the U.S. was very upset at the Peruvian Government, and that still seems to be the case. The question is, has the U.S. grounded all further drug -- narcotics control program operations pending the outcome of this investigation? MS. TUTWILER: It's not my understanding. As you know, throughout this we have done a number of things, one of which was suspend all aid that was in the pipeline basically, as you know, which included -- I believe you kept asking me -- future aid. Q Yes. MS. TUTWILER: We said at the time that our counter-narcotics programs were under review. The Pentagon has since announced the Green Berets that were there as trainers are out. I cannot give you any numbers of DEA officials that are still there, for obvious security reasons. There are some DEA programs that are continuing. Those that are even continuing are under review. The reason they're continuing is obviously because of our strong concern for drug traffic, and I don't know what eventually will happen to all those programs. But DEA personnel are still there on the ground and, yes, some of their programs are continuing. Q What about flights of the sort that got shot down? MS. TUTWILER: I don't know. I didn't ask. Q Forced down. I'm sorry. Q Can I follow up on this? It appears then -- you may correct me on this -- that the level of protest against this incident has not been as forceful as in other instances. Is there a reason for that? MS. TUTWILER: Our Ambassador, who is there on the ground, immediately called the President of the country. The President of the country, it's my understanding, issued immediately an expression of regret and promised a prompt investigation. That is a Peruvian investigation. I have tried to explain as well as I can that we, the United States Government, are conducting our own investigation concerning specifically, literally the events and details surrounding this tragedy -- this incident -- where a U.S. serviceman lost his life. Until that is concluded and in, I cannot speculate with you, comment on, what may or may not have happened that specifically triggered this event. That's where I am. Q I did not necessarily ask about the occurrences. I'm only saying about the reaction of the U.S. Would you characterize the reaction of your government as being similar or equal to any of these kinds in the past in other circumstances? MS. TUTWILER: No two incidents are the same. I don't do comparisons. We have expressed our obvious sympathy about an incident that cost the life of an American serviceman. We have expressed to the highest level of the Peruvian Government -- immediately -- in the form of our Ambassador, our concern. And I've told you what the President of Peru has done and why we right now, or I, am prohibited from going into details that, it's my understanding, they have not concluded gathering -- our government -- on exactly what happened. That's all I'm saying here. Q Could you take the question of whether operations such as the one that involved that flight have been halted? MS. TUTWILER: Sure. And I doubt they'll tell you, if they're intelligence operations. Q Margaret -- MS. TUTWILER: I'll take the question. Q You don't need to tell me what they are. All they need to do is say whether they are continuing or not -- whether they've been stopped as a result of that. MS. TUTWILER: I understand. But breaking down what I've said, which is some DEA programs are continuing, and getting more specific -- whether they include airplanes or helicopters or cars -- is a specific in an intelligence matter that I'm not positive that they'll break down for you. Q Margaret, back to Iraq for a moment. MS. TUTWILER: Iraq? Q Yes. Do you have any reports that there's been fighting in the south of Iraq down by the Basra area? Apparently there are press reports that there's been considerable shelling of Shi'ite towns and villages. MS. TUTWILER: I don't have considerable shelling, but I have there are some indications of increased fighting in southern Iraq. We are concerned by these reports, and we obviously think that Iraq should abide by the United Nations resolution which takes this type of thing into account. Q Margaret, back on Syrian Jews for just a second, could you get for us a statement or an affirmation of whether the United States indeed seeks the right of emigration for all Syrian Jews as opposed to the specific issue of family unification or unmarried women being able to travel abroad? MS. TUTWILER: Yes. Q Margaret, on Peru for just a second. Without pre-empting the results of the investigation, can you say that the American plane was marked and flying in international airspace in broad daylight with clear visibility? Q Thank you. MS. TUTWILER: I haven't answered him. [Laughter] Q We're all restless. MS. TUTWILER: No problem. To be honest with you, my understanding is the Pentagon is doing this briefing this afternoon, so they can probably -- I don't have whether it was marked or not. It's my understanding that a C-130 was fired upon by one of two Peruvian air force aircraft using machine guns. At the time the C-130 was fired upon, it was 60 miles off the coast of Peru. So ask the Pentagon about it, Mark. I don't know. Now, Carol. Q Thank you. (The briefing concluded at 1:02 p.m.)