US Department of State Daily Briefing #71: Friday, 5/8/92

Tutwiler Source: State Department Spokesman Margaret Tutwiler Description: Washington, DC Date: May, 8 19925/8/92 Category: Briefings Region: MidEast/North Africa, Eurasia, East Asia, E/C Europe Country: Israel, USSR (former), Iran, Lebanon, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia, Tajikistan, Serbia-Montenegro Subject: Mideast Peace Process, Development/Relief Aid, Arms Control, Regional/Civil Unrest, Terrorism, Security Assistance and Sales, CSCE, United Nations 12:02 P.M. (ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED) MS. TUTWILER: I only have two things. One, a number of you all earlier this week were asking about Under Secretary Kanter's trip in China. We're posting for you -- I've just gotten a transcript -- of his press conference, concluding press conference he's held there where he answers a number of questions. We have also been giving out to you who he has met with, and we have that available afterwards. I think his press conference is the best way to answer -- since he was in the meetings; I wasn't -- exactly what went on there. Other than to say, in his own press conference, he characterized his discussions with the Chinese officials as having been wide-ranging and very useful.

[Middle East Peace Process]

On the Middle East multilaterals, I said yesterday that I would try to provide you with some additional details on the multilateral working group meeting on arms control and regional security, which the United States and Russian co-sponsors will co-chair starting here at the State Department on Monday, May 11 and running through May 14. First of all, I would like to put these multilateral talks in context. The multilateral negotiations are an important part of the Arab-Israeli peace process started in Madrid. They are designed to complement and act as a catalyst to progress in the bilateral negotiations. The bilateral talks, as you all know, have been underway since last November. The arms control talks, as I said, will be held here in the Department of State. More than 20 delegations are planning on attending. Thirteen will come from the Middle East region: Algeria, Bahrain, Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Kuwait, Morocco, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, the UAE and Yemen. Additionally, the European Community will have representatives, Canada, China, India, Japan, Turkey and Ukraine. The meeting will be held in the Loy Henderson Auditorium and will start at 2:00 p.m. on Monday afternoon. The working group meeting will be conducted in seminar format, as we've told you before, and will include presentations anddiscussions on the methods and concepts of arms control, the evolution of the confidence and security-building process, and the history of the U.S.-Soviet hotline agreement, the Incidents at Sea and Dangerous Military Activities agreements. With regard to the agenda, generally speaking, of the other working groups, the refugee working group is designed to examine the scope of the problem of refugee and displaced persons and discuss data needs and the practical ideas. The economic development working group will discuss possibilities for regional economic cooperation in a manner that complements the bilateral talks, for example, in the area of trade, investment and infrastructure. The water group will discuss problems associated, obviously, with water in the Middle East. The environment working group will discuss follow up to the recent Japanese mission that examined acute environmental problems in the Middle East. As I announced yesterday, Ambassador Dennis Ross and Assistant Secretary Richard Clarke will be representing and heading the U.S. delegation to the arms control working group here. I can only announce for you today the heads of the United States delegations. I don't have for you all the other various delegation heads. We will try, if we can, to get those for you, but I'm not sure that I can get them all for you. Bill Burns, Deputy Director of the Policy Planning Staff, will head the U.S. delegation to the environmental working group in Tokyo. The dates of that, you know, are May 18-19. Dan Kurtzer, Deputy Assistant Secretary for NEA, will head the delegation to the refugee working group in Ottawa. Those dates, as you know, are May 13-14. Allan Keiswetter, Director of the Office of Regional Affairs in NEA, will lead the delegation on water to Austria, May 13-15. Sandra O'Leary, Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Economics Bureau, will lead the delegation to the working group on economic development in Brussels. Those dates, as you know, are May 11-12. Q Margaret, roughly speaking, were there any countries that would not be eligible to participate in the arms discussions here? I'm just wondering, because some of the major players in the proliferation problem -- you know, countries like North Korea are not countries that the U.S. is particularly friendly to. But was this open to just about anybody who would attend, or did you ask a certain number of countries and a certain number said we'll be there? MS. TUTWILER: It's a fair question. It's one -- I know it sounds strange -- I never thought to ask Ed Djerejian or Dennis Ross, or any of the experts. I'll be happy to take your question. I don't know, Barry, what went through their thinking processes. The experts are managing this process, and I honestly just don't know. Q And a little bit more substantively, after the President announced about the dangers of proliferation in the Middle East, there was a rush of U.S. arm sales, a lot of them associated with the war, but they went on afterwards, and the U.S. has been pumping billions of dollars of weapons into the region. Do you have a general statement about the U.S's own behavior so far as proliferation of dangerous weapons in the Middle East is concerned, as you go into this working group or working -- MS. TUTWILER: Today, for you, no, I do not. It's my understanding that Ambassador Ross will be making the opening statement for the United States at the meeting at 2:00 on Monday. I do not believe that the various presentations are going to be made available to the press. I'll re-ask, but I don't have one for you today. I would refer you -- the President has spoken out on this, as has the Secretary of State. We have said, as you know, that proliferation of course is, obviously, an issue of great concern to us. But we also recognize -- and I think that the Secretary has said this a number of times -- that, yes, we are one of the largest suppliers. I believe it is the President's initiative that Reggie Bartholomew has been having a number of meetings on, as I recall, on this issue with the Permanent Five of the Security Council, if I'm not mistaken. No, I just don't have one overall new additional statement today. Q Margaret, can I come back to my question of yesterday? MS. TUTWILER: Which was it? Q Resolution 194 of the General Assembly, which talks about the right of return for Palestinians and the right of compensation. Does the United States recognize and support that resolution? MS. TUTWILER: Right, you did ask me that yesterday and I don't have an answer for you today. I'll see if we can get one by the end of today. Q Is that a complicated question? MS. TUTWILER: It must be because I don't have an answer for you. Q You asked for an answer and you weren't able to come up with one within the 24 hours? MS. TUTWILER: Many times that happens to us, and this is one of those examples and one of those times that that is the case. Q Is this the opportunity to go on with Middle East questions -- I came in a minute late. Do you have other announcements? MS. TUTWILER: I did it before you got here. Arnie Kanter has just concluded a press conference in China. We had faxed to us that transcript, which we'll make available to you as soon as the briefing is over. Then I went into all the details I promised that I would on this. Q Let me ask, please, about the bombing of the Israeli Embassy in Buenos Aires. You remember yesterday you made a statement. Subsequently, the State Department distributed a little statement implicating Iran. Is that the extent of what you can tell us? Was Syria in any way involved, or is there evidence to that effect? MS. TUTWILER: I don't know whether there is or is not. As you know, what prompted this yesterday was an interview that was done by a senior unnamed State Department official. We, in turn -- the Secretary of State has answered the question, as I have. From the very beginning, Barry, you'll recall, that Hizballah or Islamic Jihad the very first day put out, I believe, a radio statement claiming responsibility. We, at that point, said we've just seen this one radio report. The next day, we said that, yes, indeed, they were a likely suspect, and our views have not changed since then on the ongoing investigation that we have been assisting in. But I don't have any specific, additional details for you. Q I almost hesitate to ask it because this is so picayune. You probably don't know it off the top of your head, but was it, indeed, a radio report? I think it was otherwise. And, secondly -- and this is a more serious question -- does the State Department consider Hizballah and Islamic Jihad interchangeable or do they see them as distinct groups? Because Hizballah evidently has denied implication -- involvement. MS. TUTWILER: My understanding is that Islamic Jihad is a cover name for Hizballah. That is how we report it in our terrorism report. As I quoted yesterday, from our 1991 terrorism report, which we just released two weeks ago, we again, restate that. As far as the radio report, that's how I remember it. My memory could be faulty. Q In that same report, in that same paragraph, there's somewhat of a disclaimer. It says that certain splinter groups of Hizballah have operated without -- conducted rogue operations without Iran's direction. Certain State Department officials have said that they have no -- even the current investigation -- has no specific, direct evidence that goes back to Iran. MS. TUTWILER: That's correct. That's what our statement said yesterday that we did on the record and we've done again today. Q So the only two things that lead you to believe this are the link between Hizballah -- past links between Hizballah and Iran and their statements in Argentina that they were responsible for it? MS. TUTWILER: I didn't say that either. I said that we have not changed our view since their original claim of responsibility. Indeed, if you recall, several days later, I believe, they put out a videotape of the Israeli Embassy in Argentina, which is normally their modus operandi, as we said yesterday, for authenticating their responsibility. I don't believe there's any secret that Hizballah or Islamic Jihad is very, very close with Iran. So we said yesterday, on the record, that nothing has changed our initial view, once we came out with an initial view, of their being a likely suspect in the information on this ongoing investigation, much of which is classified. I think what Barry was asking me today was, "Do I have some more specifics that we can divulge to the public?" The answer is, no, I cannot. Q Margaret, there was a long investigation on the Lockerbie affair which eventually led to indictments being handed down for individuals. When Libya refused to respond to those indictments, resolutions were passed at the United Nations. MS. TUTWILER: Right. Q Now, I know that this is somewhat hypothetical, but there is a principle involved here which maybe you could address. Should investigation on this affair also lead to indictments, would the United States view be that the matter be handled, in principle, in the same way as the Lockerbie incident was? MS. TUTWILER: It is a hypothetical for me. As you know, the Argentine Government is the lead investigating entity concerning this. The United States Government is assisting the Argentine Government. So it would be inappropriate for me, to be honest with you, to voice what United States opinion was. Obviously, generically speaking, whoever did this cowardly, awful thing, obviously should be found and justice should be applied. I can't tell you what the Argentine Government -- what works in their government, I guess is what I'm trying to say. Q No. I understand that, but I'm talking about the general principle of the United Nations being brought in -- MS. TUTWILER: I understand. Q -- to punish a state sponsor of terrorism, should proof be -- MS. TUTWILER: But no -- Q I understand that it's hypothetical, but I'm asking -- MS. TUTWILER: And no two cases are alike. Q I'm asking about the principle -- MS. TUTWILER: Right. Q -- if a terrorist incident takes place, and if an investigation finds evidence linking a particular state to that investigation and that state refuses to respond, in the case of Lockerbie the United States supported U.N. resolutions, actually sponsored U.N. resolutions -- MS. TUTWILER: Correct. Q -- to require compliance. And I presume that that principle would also apply equally to other terrorist incidents of the same kind. MS. TUTWILER: Well, then what I don't do, as you know, is comparisons, and that would presume that the two people or six people or one person or 25 people who did this are no longer in Argentina; that they're somewhere else that would require us to go the route that you did in the Pan Am 103 case. So I just think it's too hypothetical for me to deal with. This is an ongoing investigation. We have been cooperating and assisting -- offering our assistance from the very first day. I just can't answer for you what -- where that investigation will lead. Q Well, presumably the fact that Americans were killed in Pan Am 103 and the fact that Argentinian and Israeli nationals were killed in this incident would not on the face of it lead to a difference in the attitude that the United States has to the two incidents and the necessity to punish those responsible? MS. TUTWILER: I stated that earlier. Q Margaret, if the United States is convinced that Iran is behind this, then why did we approve the sale of jet engines to Iran? MS. TUTWILER: I said that indicates Iranian involvement in the attack. Q Even if it just indicates it, why are we -- why do we let them go forward with that purchase? MS. TUTWILER: It's a question I'll be happy to ask the experts who did that and if they took a look at this. I don't know. Q Have we approached Iran through third parties to ask for explanations? MS. TUTWILER: I don't know. Q Do you think that Hizballah -- you haven't changed your opinion in that Hizballah/Islamic Jihad is still a likely suspect? Do you have any other likely suspects? MS. TUTWILER: None that I am at liberty to get into, that I even know of, of my own knowledge, because I haven't asked, because this is so highly classified. Q Could we go on to Yugoslavia? Q This is the last question on Iran: There was -- a decision was taken in The Hague, and the United States has to repay some money to Iran. Do you have any comment on that? MS. TUTWILER: I have something for you after the briefing. The Legal Office brought this to me, and I just didn't have a chance, to be honest with you, in trying to make your 12:00 o'clock deadline, to digest it. So, yes, we have a response for you, and I'll be happy to give it to you the minute the briefing's over. Q I've got something else: There's a report that U.S. Ambassador Crocker -- U.S. Ambassador to Lebanon -- has suggested that aid to Lebanon, any assistance to Lebanon be withheld until the last two Western hostages -- they being Germans -- are released. Is there any -- can you substantiate that? MS. TUTWILER: I haven't heard about that. Q I know it's another one that, I suppose, is -- MS. TUTWILER: I haven't heard about that. I'll be happy to ask the Bureau to look at it for you. Q And, obviously, what aid is there to Lebanon? Could you find that out, too? MS. TUTWILER: We've done that previously, so that's in the record. I'll be happy to. Q Is that it? Q No. Yugoslavia. Q I have a quick one on that. There's also been a -- there was a request a few weeks back by a Lebanese official for the United States to sell military equipment to them -- replenishment type stuff. Can you see if that would fall under this thing? MS. TUTWILER: Yes.

[Former Yugoslavia: Secret Meeting between Bosnian Serbs and Croats/ Status/US Recognition/Update on Civil Strife]

Q Do you have any knowledge of an alleged secret deal between Croatia and Serbia to carve up Bosnia? MS. TUTWILER: On May 7, leaders of Bosnian Serb and Bosnian Croatian political parties announced a cease-fire and agreement on the outlines of Serb and Croat regions within Bosnia-Hercegovina. Bosnian Muslims were not party to this "agreement." According to the agreed division, however, Bosnian Muslims -- 44 percent of the population -- would receive approximately 15 percent of the land. The United States view is that no agreement is possible at the expense of the Muslims in Bosnia or the legitimate, democratically-elected government. We note that some 64 percent of the Bosnian electorate voted for an independent, unified Bosnia in the referendum that was held late in February. We believe the EC-mediated talks with all three parties is the proper forum for the resolution of the Bosnian crisis. The United States continues, as you know, to strongly support the EC talks. I'd like to point out also that the CSCE talks at the senior expert level in a very bureaucratic -- if you'd have -- unusual move are still meeting. We cannot find a record of an emergency meeting that's ever gone more than 48 hours, and this one is still going. Also, I'd like to point out -- and we will give it to you afterwards -- that we have a very detailed update concerning the very serious and grave situation in Sarajevo, in Bosnia, and we've specifically addressed ourselves to the food shortage that is critical and the overall situation there that continues, as you know, to deteriorate. Q Just to follow that up, the United States has not recognized yet Serbia or the new Yugoslavia -- it's been somewhere in limbo -- but you have recognized Croatia, and here's the Croatian -- MS. TUTWILER: And Bosnia and Slovenia. Q Yes. My question goes to Croatia. Here you have Croatia, a country which you've recognized, a country which you are going to be setting up an embassy in, carving up another country or helping to carve up another country. MS. TUTWILER: It's my understanding, Alan, they were Bosnian Croats and Bosnian Serbs who went to this secret meeting. Q So the Croatian Government and the Serbian Government were not involved in it? MS. TUTWILER: To our knowledge. This is a secret meeting. This is all we really know about this this morning. I asked that very question myself. That's why I was careful to say Bosnian Serbs and Bosnia Croats. If others were there, I don't have that information right now. Q Do you have any words that could reassure Bosnians that their country is not actually becoming victim to exactly what happened to Czechoslovakia in 1938 while the international community looks on? What are you going to do to ensure the territorial integrity of this state which you also recognize? MS. TUTWILER: We're going to continue to do exactly what we have been doing. We're going to continue to work very closely with our allies. We are going to continue to point out, as we do almost daily here, the seriousness of this situation. I've just mentioned to you that a meeting of the CSCE is continuing concerning this situation. The EC, I believe, yesterday at a Ministerial level had another meeting in Brussels, and the United States is going to continue to do whatever we can to try to bring international pressure on those who are not doing what they can to stop the loss of innocent lives and to continue to call for a cease-fire that holds, that works, and that this is stopped. Q Well, it's just one meeting after another, and the fact that the CSCE is now in its fourth day, I don't think is going to produce much comfort to Bosnians who are seeing their country ripped apart and seeing their physical existence endangered. Aren't we beyond meetings? Isn't it at a point where there should be some action? MS. TUTWILER: We have taken action -- the United States has -- and we have chosen to, as you know, use the CSCE emergency meeting. This is the second one that's been held, I think in -- what -- two weeks, and our official there, the other day, stated very strongly and laid out in very strong language what the United States position is concerning this. Q Iraq: The Iraqis have announced that they plan to forcibly relocate the 4,000 marsh Arabs that live in the area around Basra. These are the same that have been fighting against Saddam Husayn's troops. First of all, does the U.S. have any -- well, does the U.S. have any comment on it? MS. TUTWILER: I haven't heard about it. Q I mean, it seems to be a forcible movement of the population from one area to somewhere completely different, removing them from their cultural roots and everything else. MS. TUTWILER: I'll look into it. I haven't heard about it.

[Tajikistan: Mass Government Resignations]

Q Margaret, do you have something on Tajikistan, the Muslim turn in that country? MS. TUTWILER: Yes. The supporters of Nabiyev's government, who is the President, and members of the opposition have signed an agreement which includes the resignation of all senior government officials except the President. It appears that the fighting is over, and that a new government is being put into place. Our Embassy reports that demonstrators have dispersed. However, supporters of the opposition have vowed to remain encamped in the downtown area until the new government has been put in place. Our Embassy has been in contact with both the government and the opposition. It's my understanding, Barry, that we have approximately 13 people there. Q Is it a democratic government? MS. TUTWILER: We are hopeful that we can continue good relations with the new government on the basis of the five principles enunciated by Secretary Baker, the Helsinki Final Act, and the Charter of Paris which Tajikistan pledged to implement when it entered into the CSCE. Q Isn't that sort of the cart before the horse? MS. TUTWILER: Isn't what? Q Well, you'd like to continue -- of course, you would -- but I thought the understanding at the very beginning of the CIS, from a very senior official in Brussels, was that the U.S. would like to have relations with all these countries, but the extent of the relationship would be, you know -- MS. TUTWILER: Would be determined. Right. Q What is the word -- would be proportional to their commitment to democracy. MS. TUTWILER: Correct. Q So I thought you have to make a judgment what kind of a government that is, and then decide, you know, whether it's a government you want to have good relations with or nominal relations with. MS. TUTWILER: What the size of your embassy would be, what the size of your aid would be, what the size of your support -- Q So is there at least -- it's early -- MS. TUTWILER: It's early. Q but does the U.S. -- do the U.S. folks there have any kind of a handle of whether these folks are Jeffersonian democrats or something reasonably close to that? MS. TUTWILER: Not this morning. As you so rightly point out, it's early. We are very pleased, so far, that this has not exploded. Yes, there has been some loss of life which we regret, but for right now, it seems to be under control and being moved peacefully. But, yes, you are absolutely right -- and the Secretary has pointed out that a number of times, both to you and your colleagues and to the public -- that that will be our guide in determining our relationship with these new states. Q Margaret, we would be lax if we didn't ask you officially, have you heard from the Israelis that they are not going to attend those two meetings of multilaterals. MS. TUTWILER: We have not. I checked this morning. Q Margaret, a last question on Iran -- Q You know the Canadians have announced that the Israelis won't be there. Q Have you heard through the Canadians that the Israelis are not going to be -- MS. TUTWILER: I didn't ask the Canadian question this morning. I did yesterday. But I did ask had we heard and the answer -- officially heard, and the answer was no. Q The Canadians have been officially -- MS. TUTWILER: O.K. Q To get really technical on that thing again: So far as Palestinian representation, it's been put two slightly different ways. One is that the U.S. -- MS. TUTWILER: Where are you? Q -- supports the Palestinian exiles in the refugee and economic working groups. MS. TUTWILER: In refugee -- Q It's also been put in those two and maybe others or, you know, possibly others. How does it stand right now? Is the U.S. supporting broad Palestinian representation only in those two working groups? MS. TUTWILER: Correct. That's been our position since day one. It has not changed. Q There's been a suggestion maybe in another one or two, but all right. MS. TUTWILER: The co-sponsors' position has never changed on that -- that I'm aware of. Q Margaret, Iran is playing an active role in Nagorno-Karabakh and apparently has been successful in brokering a cease-fire. Do you see that growing influence of Iran as a threat, or is it a concern of yours? MS. TUTWILER: Number one, we cannot confirm that there is indeed a cease-fire. We've only seen press reports this morning, and we have said previously -- whether it was Iran or anyone else -- anyone that could use whatever influence they may or may not have to cease the tragic violence there, we have said, obviously, we would support those efforts. That's it? Q I think so. MS. TUTWILER: Have a nice weekend. (The briefing concluded at 12:27 p.m.)