US Department of State Daily Briefing #69: Wednesday, 5/6/92

Boucher Source: State Department Deputy Spokesman Richard Boucher Description: Washington, DC Date: May, 6 19925/6/92 Category: Briefings Region: MidEast/North Africa, Eurasia, Southeast Asia, E/C Europe, South America, South Asia, East Asia Country: Israel, USSR (former), Thailand, Bangladesh, Burma, China, Serbia-Montenegro, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Afghanistan, Argentina, Lebanon, Chile, Peru, Uzbekistan, Ukraine, Russia, India Subject: Mideast Peace Process, Development/Relief Aid, Arms Control, Security Assistance and Sales, Trade/Economics, Regional/Civil Unrest, Refugees, State Department 12:24 P.M. (ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED) MR. BOUCHER: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. I won't read you the whole statement, but I'll be putting up later a little more information than what I'm about to tell you, and that's the oil well in Uzbekistan has been successfully capped. We've talked about it before. It was capped on Sunday, and we'll give you a statement that gives you a little more detail about the efforts of the Government of Uzbekistan and the American company and the Environmental Protection Agency. After noting that, I'd be glad to take your questions. Q Richard, yesterday when there was a discussion of Under Secretary Kanter's trip to Asia, we neglected to ask about the Thailand stop. Given the protests and the political instability still going on there, what can you tell us about what he will tell the Thai Government about the U.S. policy toward Thailand and, specifically, on the question of aid? MR. BOUCHER: Much as you did, I also neglected to ask about the Thailand stop. I don't have any specific agenda for you that Under Secretary Kanter will raise there. I'll see if I can get something for you. The question of aid, in general, I believe we said before that once a new government was formed, we would look into adjusting our relationship, including the question of aid. That's a process that is going on internally within the government and within our building at this point. There's been no decision. Q What are you waiting for specifically? MR. BOUCHER: I'm not sure that we're waiting for something specifically. It's just a process that's underway, and no decision has been taken at this point. Q Richard, in another part of the world, there was a report yesterday by Asia Watch about some new atrocities committed by the Burmese military government. Have you seen that? Does the U.S. take any position on whether this Moslem minority in northwestern Burma should be allowed to return from Bangladesh or do you believe it's not safe for them to do so? MR. BOUCHER: Jim, I think we've talked about that before, and we've supported the efforts of, I think it's the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees who's involved in the situation there and trying to make arrangements for their return. Certainly, we support their return under safe conditions. Q And have you seen the Asia Watch report? MR. BOUCHER: I haven't seen the Asia Watch report, so I don't really have anything on that. I'll see if we can find out something for you. Q Richard, there is a report saying that the Ukraine has moved all their tactical weapons to Russia. Do you have any information on that report? MR. BOUCHER: I don't have any information at this point that would confirm that or contradict that. I think, in general, on Ukrainian matters, I'd better note that they're over at the White House now meeting and discussing these issues and that there will be questions answered on Ukrainian issues this afternoon over at the White House. So, in general, I'd just have to leave it to them. They may have more information. Q What about Kazakh issues? Any comments on the Post report this morning about Nazarbayev and the conditions that he wants? MR. BOUCHER: I believe that report raised, again, the question of guarantees for security, which is a question that the Secretary answered about two weeks ago and that we provided you with an answer outlining the commitments that we made in 1968 in connection with the Non-Proliferation Treaty, outlining our view that the security is best found in being part of the arrangements for a peaceful and stable Europe. Q Well, to what do you account Nazarbayev's inability to accept the Secretary's guarantees? MR. BOUCHER: I don't think that was indicated in the article nor do I have an indication that that's the case. Q Richard, do you have anything new on the technology transfer issue between Russia and India? MR. BOUCHER: No, I don't. Margaret said the other day we'd probably make some decisions soon. We're aware of the public statements that the various people have been making, but at this point I don't have any decisions for you. Q Do you know when the decision might be coming? How imminent is it? MR. BOUCHER: Soon. Q Well, Richard, have you finally gotten formal notification from Russia on what the Deputy Prime Minister said would be its decision to go through with that contract? MR. BOUCHER: No. At this point, neither side has told us in any official manner of their intentions to go ahead. But, as I said, we've seen their public statement; we're looking at the issue, and we expect we'll be making some decisions soon.

[Serbia/Bosnia: US CSCE Statement re: Suspension of Serbia]

Q Richard, the Bosnians are not finding particular comfort and security in their relationships in Europe these days. Could you give us any new information about American policy on this subject? MR. BOUCHER: One thing that I will give you immediately after this is the statement that our representative, Ambassador Kornblum, has made at the CSCE meeting in Helsinki. We have the full text of that. I'll review some of the highlights. At the CSCE plenary session this morning, representative John Kornblum noted the primary responsibility of the Serbian authorities and the JNA for the fighting and called upon all CSCE states to impress upon the responsible parties their collective determination to bring the aggression and the killing to a halt. In his statement, he also called for the suspension from all CSCE activities of representatives of the new "Yugoslav" state until their behavior meets CSCE norms. He called for an immediate end to the violence and respect for the ceasefires by all parties; called for withdrawal of the JNA from Bosnia or submission of the JNA to legitimate Bosnian authority; called for an immediate end to support for all paramilitary forces, and called for honest participation in the EC peace process and cooperation with the U.N. and EC missions. That was in a CSCE plenary session held this morning. This afternoon, at 5:00 p.m., Helsinki time, which is 10:00 a.m., our time, the Committee of Senior Officials began meeting to consider these questions and these proposals by the United States. Q Do you have any sense as to how much support there is for the proposals made by Mr. Kornblum? MR. BOUCHER: At this point, since they're in the process of meeting, I don't think I can give you a judgment on that. It's something that we've been working very actively, that we've been talking to other governments about. We certainly hope that these proposals will find support. Q Do you expect a vote today? MR. BOUCHER: The CSCE operates on the basis of consensus. So it's really a question of whether they can reach consensus. As I said, he called for these things, and we were urging people to do them right away. Q Would the consensus have to include the Milosevic government representatives at the CSCE? MR. BOUCHER: The Belgrade representatives? I assume that in a case like this, it probably wouldn't, Ralph. I haven't checked the rules or procedures, or anything. Q I think even if you did, you might find that they aren't very helpful on resolving that question. What is the purpose of throwing Yugoslavia out of the CSCE? What effect would that have on Yugoslavia, for example, in that government's relationship with the United States? MR. BOUCHER: As you know, I think, from the President's announcement when he announced our recognition policy, we did not at that time recognize any "Yugoslav" state. We said we were aware of the desire of Serbia-Montenegro to become a successor and that we were willing to discuss that, but that our questions of future relationship between us and Serbia-Montenegro would depend on their behavior. The kind of adherence to CSCE principles and norms that we were hoping to see has certainly not occurred. They've been responsible for the majority of the problems and the fighting which have killed many, many innocent people. So we're now proceeding to this step in the CSCE, which, as you have often quoted back to us, really makes them a pariah among the nations in Europe who are trying to live by certain basic principles of civilized behavior. Q Richard, one of the proposals the New York Times raises today is to keep Serbia from taking the mantle, if you will, of the former Yugoslav state and, presumably, all the properties and assets and so on. Have you, or are you considering doing something along those lines? MR. BOUCHER: At this point, I'm not aware of any steps that have been taken. I don't want to try to forecast any specific options, so I really don't think I can get into that. Q Can the United States continue to have diplomatic representation in a country that is not a member of the CSCE, or has been expelled from the CSCE? MR. BOUCHER: I'm not sure that's a question we've asked ourselves, Ralph. As I think we pointed out to you before, we have representatives in Belgrade at our Embassy there who are performing the job. We're trying to urge people to reduce the violence, of trying to see that the killing stops, and the people that need help get the help. We have relations with countries throughout the world who are not members of the CSCE, so I don't think there's a question that applies here. Q Do we have any relations with any members who have been expelled from the CSCE? MR. BOUCHER: I don't think anybody has been suspended from the CSCE before. Q So that answer is irrelevant to the question that was asked. MR. BOUCHER: The question is not relevant to the situation, I guess is what I would say. The suspension of the CSCE doesn't necessarily imply anything on diplomatic recognition that I'm aware of. Q And is Ambassador Zimmerman still there? MR. BOUCHER: Yes, he is. Q Richard, does Serbia have any requests, or Serbia, acting as Yugoslavia, have any requests before the IMF or any of the other international financial institutions for aid or loans? MR. BOUCHER: I don't know, Carol. I don't know. Q Would we oppose them if they did? MR. BOUCHER: It's something I'd have to check on. I'm not sure what our current policy is. Q Richard, there was some discussion a few weeks ago about reducing the American diplomatic staff in Belgrade for perhaps no other reason than to redistribute those diplomats among the other new republics. What's the status of that now? MR. BOUCHER: I'll give you the same answer I gave to the question over there about other suggestions. There was some discussion, you're right, in the newspapers based on unnamed officials. I don't think we ever proposed that as any specific option or list of options. At this point, I'm not really prepared to get into further measures. This measure taken today, in terms of suspension -- U.S. proposal for the suspension of their participation at the CSCE because they haven't been abiding by their norms -- is something that we forecast; it's something that we proposed back in the middle of April; it's something that was discussed on April 29, and something that we think is appropriate at this point. If you look at Ambassador Kornblum's statement, you'll see that he said our review should continue both at the follow-up meeting and at the meeting of this Committee of Senior Officials that are scheduled to take place before May 18. So there will be further meetings and discussions. He said if matters improve, we should say so; and if they do not, we should consider even more drastic action. So at this point, that's where we are. Q Does the U.S. proposal for dealing with suspension of the CSCE have any impact on Yugoslavia's relationship in other international organizations -- at least, in the U.S. view? Should Yugoslavia -- should the same standards of international behavior and criteria that you just outlined a moment ago apply in other international organizations, or is it only limited to the CSCE? MR. BOUCHER: I don't think I have a general rule on that, Ralph. Q What sort of "drastic actions" does the United States have in mind if this doesn't work? MR. BOUCHER: Again, I don't want to get into trying to forecast any specific options that remain. Certainly, we're all hopeful that Serbia and Montenegro will get the message and that they'll cooperate with the peace process. The European Community-sponsored talks, that take place in Brussels, have started again today. I believe all the parties have representatives there, and we certainly hope that people will cooperate. Q Richard, have there been any attacks or protests directed at U.S. personnel or facilities in Belgrade? MR. BOUCHER: There are none that I'm aware of directed at U.S. personnel or facilities, at least, that I can remember from recent days. As you know, the U.N. Secretary General's envoy has encountered a good deal of trouble. There's now wire reports, at least, that say that there might have been sniper fire on their cars today. The United Nations Security Council President yesterday expressed the concern of the Security Council about what was happening there. Q As a follow-up, once the CSCE action plays out, will there be additional security concerns for U.S. personnel there? Will there be any change in the way we're doing business there, more guards? MR. BOUCHER: I don't think, Sid, we would talk about precise security arrangements. The situation is a difficult one for everybody there, be they government people or foreign diplomats or ordinary people who live in these places. So I'm sure that our embassies will maintain an appropriate level of security. Q Richard, do you have anything to say about Belgrade saying the Yugoslav army in Bosnia is now on its own? MR. BOUCHER: Yes. Q Could you tell us what that is? MR. BOUCHER: Yes. What's happened, in our understanding, is that the Serbian rump Presidency has called for Yugoslav Serbs in the Yugoslav National Army to return to Serbia within 15 days. The rump Presidency also stated that Bosnian Serbs in the Yugoslav National Army may remain in Bosnia. In our view, the Yugoslav National Army is not an independent actor. It remains at this point under the control and the responsibility of the authorities in Belgrade, and we continue to hold them strictly accountable for the actions of the JNA. Our consistent view is that JNA forces in Bosnia- Hercegovina should respect the will of the Bosnian- Hercegovinian Government. Ambassador Kornblum re-enforced this view today at the CSCE meeting in Helsinki when he called for a CSCE statement which demands the immediate withdrawal from Bosnia-Hercegovina or submission to the legitimate Bosnian government authority.

[Argentina/Chile: US Discussions on Aircraft Sales]

Q Richard, was there ever a response to a question about the U.S. sending or selling planes to Argentina? MR. BOUCHER: There was, and I just got it this morning, so I'm going to give it to you now. Q Great. MR. BOUCHER: We are consulting with the Governments of Argentina and Chile on modernization of their fighter aircraft inventories. Our goal is to help maintain the military balance in the region and facilitate efforts by both countries to take measured and reasonable steps to make badly needed improvements to their aircraft inventories. No specific aircraft packages have been agreed upon for either country. We will consult with the Congress, as has been our practice, depending upon the type of agreement reached. Q If we could go back to the issue of rocket technology for a minute, it's a very big issue in India and parliament is up in arms about it. Now the Indian Government says it doesn't have any military application. Do you -- or can you give us any evidence as to why you believe that is not the case? MR. BOUCHER: I'm not a technical expert. I would refer you to the answers that we've given over the past few days and the answer that we put up yesterday when we were asked a question about the refueling time. It's the clear guidelines of the Missile Technology Control Regime that we all follow, that missiles of a certain capability are covered and major sub-systems of them are covered as well. Those guidelines are technical ones that I can't analyze for you against some other rocket engine that I don't know the capabilities of. I would just say it's clearly our view, and I think it's the view of other MTCR members, that this sale of this engine is covered. Q The government has also said that it's a domestic law in the U.S., I mean, are countries all over the world forced to abide by all U.S. domestic laws now? MR. BOUCHER: The Missile Technology Control Regime is an international arrangement that we have with other countries. There are many countries that are members and other countries that have agreed to abide by its guidelines. It's based on the interests that we all have in reducing and hopefully stopping the proliferation of ballistic missiles, and it's something that's done internationally. We have domestic law about our dealings with people who don't respect those guidelines and parameters. That's what our law affects. Q Richard, if I could just go back to Argentina for a second. So what you're saying is the United States is discussing with those two countries the sale of some kind of jet fighter aircraft? MR. BOUCHER: Yes. No specific packages have been agreed, at this point, with either country. Q And you mentioned something about our efforts to maintain a balance of power. MR. BOUCHER: Military balance in the region. Q Can you expand on that a little bit? MR. BOUCHER: I don't think I can at this point. Both countries have, we think, a need to make improvements in their aircraft inventories, and, obviously, as we consider that, we'll want to consider the regional military balance as we do in all arms sales. Q Well, is it our policy to determine, select -- what select countries need to upgrade their military systems and then guide them through that process? And, if so, why? MR. BOUCHER: Well, I think if you look at our policy and our law on arms sales, you'll see a number of criteria that we follow. Those include supporting defense needs of friends that we have around the world, and doing that in a manner which doesn't create an unstable situation. Those are sort of the basic principles that we have always followed. And I think if you look at the guidelines for responsible conventional arms transfers that were agreed by the group of five countries that were working on arms control in the Middle East in particular, you'll see those same kinds of principles embodied. Q Are we acting to preempt any other would-be suppliers there? A former Soviet arsenal looking to be transferred, perhaps, to those two countries? MR. BOUCHER: Not that I've heard of, Howard. Q Richard, didn't the United States halt arms sales to Argentina during or after the -- yes -- during the Falklands conflict? And, if so, when were they resumed? Have there been any other arms sales or proposed arms sales to Argentina from the United States since the Falklands? MR. BOUCHER: I don't know. Q Could you find out? MR. BOUCHER: I'll try to find out. Q Richard, on another subject, have you seen the announcement that the Israelis are going to boycott the multilateral talks? MR. BOUCHER: I've seen a wire service story, I think, ten minutes before I came down here, or 15 minutes before I came down here, that quoted Israeli officials as saying that. We tried to call a few of the U.S. officials who would know if we'd gotten any official word and unfortunately weren't able to reach them. Q Well, assume for a moment it's true, does that mean that the talks between the United States and Israel over the issue of diaspora Palestinians did not succeed in reaching a consensus? MR. BOUCHER: Jim, let me check and find out if the reports that you're referring are, in fact, true, and in the process see if we have any further comment on the suggested approach that the Israelis provided. Q Richard, if I could just go back one more time to Argentina: Did we consult with Great Britain on this deal that we're cooking up? MR. BOUCHER: We're talking with nations that have security interests in the region. Q Richard, back to the Indian rocket, Margaret on Monday, I believe, said that a decision was imminent or would be very soon on -- I guess on whether the United States would have to take measures penalizing trade in different ways. MR. BOUCHER: About 15 minutes ago I said it would be soon. Q You said it would be soon. MR. BOUCHER: Yes. Q What's the status of a U.S. diplomatic presence in Afghanistan now? Is that review still continuing, or have any decisions been made about that? MR. BOUCHER: No. As far as I'm aware, there have been no decisions made. I think you're aware that we have an Embassy there that -- and some foreign service nationals who stayed on the payroll to maintain it and watch over it. We don't have any American personnel there. Q And is there an active review to decide whether or when to send U.S. diplomatic personnel to Kabul? MR. BOUCHER: As far as I know, it's one of the questions that we keep in mind as we consider the developing situation there. I think we'll be guided primarily by the security situation. Q Do you have any progress on the Stinger front? MR. BOUCHER: Nothing that I have to report. Q Richard, would you say that Afghan women are better off now that the Mujahidin, which the United States supported, have taken power and banned them from any participation in public life and enforced various strict codes of dress which were not the case two weeks ago? MR. BOUCHER: Alan, I have no idea how to answer that question. I have not done an analysis of the situation of Afghan women. Q Well, does the United States -- MR. BOUCHER: We're at the beginning of a political process in Afghanistan. A goal of that process is for the Afghans to decide their own future and form a broad-based government. Q Would you say that they are deciding their own future right now? MR. BOUCHER: I'd say that they're at the beginning of a process. The Afghans, themselves, have described the interim council as a first step, and we think the important thing now is to continue moving towards a broad-based government that's representative of the Afghan people. Q Would the United States welcome the emergence of a strict Islamic state in Afghanistan as far as the United States having achieved a goal -- a major policy goal of ten years of arms supplies and backing for the Mujahidin? MR. BOUCHER: Alan, it depends what you're implying by a "strict Islamic state." As we've said before, we have good relationships with many governments that consider themselves to be following strictly the tenets of Islam. We support a democratic, peaceful Afghanistan -- one that the people are allowed to decide what sort of government they want and who they want in their government. Q Richard, did you give a readout on Kanter's talks in Beijing? If so, I haven't seen it. MR. BOUCHER: Well, no, because he has not talked yet. He arrived in Beijing at 8:20 Wednesday evening their time. When I was last updated, he was believed to be asleep. There have been no additional activities so far on his schedule. We expect him to be meeting with Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Liu Huaqiu, among other officials. Q Richard, do you have any reaction to the announcement by the Government of Lebanon that they will step aside? MR. BOUCHER: This is clearly an internal process in Lebanon. I can, I think, describe for you a little bit about how we understand it works. The Lebanese Prime Minister announced his resignation in Beirut this morning. Once the President of the Republic accepts the resignation, the next step would be for the President and the Speaker of the Parliament to consult on the appointment of a new Prime Minister. We do not know whether the resignation has been accepted yet by the President. Q Richard, what are the arrangements, if you can tell us yet, for next week's U.S.-hosted portion or section of the Middle East regional talks on arms control? Are there -- where will they be held, in what auspices, and what are the press arrangements for those talks? MR. BOUCHER: I don't have the full details for you. I think we'll probably get you a little more as time approaches. These are experts level discussions in a seminar format. They'll be held in this building, and there will be really no special press arrangements that I'm aware of at this point. Q The seminar -- you're calling it a "seminar" -- MR. BOUCHER: It's the way we've described it consistently since Moscow, I think. Q Right. So you wouldn't call it negotiations or talks, I suppose. A seminar would -- any reason why a seminar couldn't be open to anyone who wanted to attend? It's just an educational experience? Q Can I come? MR. BOUCHER: We'll take note of your interest, Ralph, and we have always said that our guidelines on participation were designed to make it inclusive rather than exclusive. Q That's right. MR. BOUCHER: But we looked forward to people attending who had a contribution to make based on their experience and their expertise -- countries who could help contribute to the understanding of the issues for the parties in the region. That's the way we decided on participation. Q Richard, to follow up on that, since the U.S. is hosting this, can you tell us a little bit about your agenda, what you want to -- what you're sort of aiming for? Or is there some way we can get -- MR. BOUCHER: I'll have to see as it approaches to what extent we can give you the agenda. Q Well, is there -- what's the chance -- Q It's less than a week away. It's not like -- MR. BOUCHER: No. It is. It is. We usually do these things at the last minute, so -- Q I know. MR. BOUCHER: -- why should we change it. Q Well, what are the chances of getting a briefing by somebody who's actually sort of dealing with this firsthand? MR. BOUCHER: Again, I'll take the request. We'll see if we can do that for you. Q Are the EC members participating in the seminar? MR. BOUCHER: We won't do the list of participants for these and the other talks until we get closer to the time, and that's not going to be today. Q So that means if we're invited, we won't know until the -- MR. BOUCHER: People who are invited know. Q Oh, I see. (Laughter) So if I haven't gotten my invitation -- MR. BOUCHER: You're not coming. Q -- I'm not going to be able to stay in the seminar? MR. BOUCHER: That's right. Q Bummer. (Laughter) Q Anything new on Peru? MR. BOUCHER: On Peru, no, not really. The investigation of the C-130 incident continues. I believe the Pentagon spoke yesterday about extra precautionary measures about painting flags on airplanes. As far as I'm aware, there's nothing else new to say. Q But the flights remain suspended? MR. BOUCHER: The flights remain suspended, yes. Q Will they resume as soon as they put the flags on the planes? MR. BOUCHER: I have no indication of that at this point. Q And what flights are those? MR. BOUCHER: These are the flights of -- I have to remember how we described them. The flights that are properly described the way we described them the other day. [Laughter] I'm sorry. The drug-related flights -- Q Counter-narcotics. Q Drug-related flights. Yes. Hopefully without drug-related pilots. MR. BOUCHER: Counter-narcotics flights. Q Wasn't there an announcement at the end of last week that they were, in fact, being resumed? MR. BOUCHER: No. The investigation continues and flights remain suspended. Q Has there been any exchange -- I know initially after the incident the Peruvian Government contacted the United States to express regrets about this. Has the United States expressed any kind of regret about its apparent failure to identify the aircraft properly, or its apparent failure to respond to oral requests for identification? MR. BOUCHER: First of all, the Pentagon, I think, did a briefing yesterday about the new markings, and I don't want, in any way, to let go the prospect that there was fault accepted for not identifying airplanes properly because they've taken this extra precautionary measure, and the Pentagon explained that, I think, in more detail yesterday. Second of all, the investigation continues. We have raised -- discussed the issue again. Aronson discussed the issue -- he raised the issue with President Fujimori on May 1, and Fujimori again expressed his regrets; promised to cooperate closely in the investigations. Both sides agreed to review procedures for counter-narcotics air activity to assure that there will be no repetition of the incident with the tragic loss of life that occurred. Q Richard, other than having expressed regret on more than one occasion, has Fujimori actually apologized to the United States for this incident? MR. BOUCHER: You'd have to ask them what words they used to characterize their view. Q Well, does the United States understand expressions of regret to be an apology? MR. BOUCHER: My understanding is that they have expressed their regrets. Just leave it at that. Q And the way you left the business about the markings, is that the U.S. is doing this as an extra precautionary measure and not in any way to imply that the previous markings were somehow inadequate? MR. BOUCHER: That's right. Q Richard, does the State Department have any views about the speech yesterday by German Chancellor Kohl about aid to the former Soviet Union? MR. BOUCHER: I haven't read the full speech. I've seen some of the reports on it. We've expressed previously our appreciation for the efforts that various countries were making, and particularly noting the German efforts to assist the New Independent States, and we've just said that we welcome what everybody does. I'll leave it at that. Q Thank you. (The briefing concluded at 12:55 p.m.)