US Department of State Daily Briefing #78: Tuesday, 5/19/92

Tutwiler Source: State Department Spokesman Margaret Tutwiler Description: Washington, DC Date: May, 19 19925/19/92 Category: Briefings Region: MidEast/North Africa, Eurasia, E/C Europe, Southeast Asia Country: Israel, USSR (former), Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Serbia-Montenegro, Thailand Subject: Mideast Peace Process, Development/Relief Aid, Regional/Civil Unrest, Military Affairs, Narcotics, Arms Control, United Nations, Refugees, Human Rights, CSCE 12:45 P.M. (ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED)

[Former Soviet Union: Condemnation of Escalation in Fighting in Nagorno-Karabakh]

MS. TUTWILER: Sorry it took me so long to get here. There's just a lot going on. I have two statements I'd like to make. The first statement has to do with the situation in Nagorno-Karabakh. The second has to do with the situation in Thailand. The first statement: The United States strongly condemns the recent escalation of the fighting in Nagorno-Karabakh and in Nakhichevan. We are concerned that these military actions threaten to undermine the prospects for good faith negotiations to resolve the conflict and dangerously increase instability throughout the region. The United States Government will not accept unilateral changes in the status of Nagorno-Karabakh, Nakhichevan, or any other territory on the basis of military actions or violence. The only way to achieve a lasting solution to this conflict is through good faith negotiations based on CSCE principles. We call upon all sides to end the violence, re-commit themselves to the CSCE mediation effort, and take immediate steps to de-escalate the conflict and create an environment in which good faith negotiations can begin. The United States Government has repeatedly stated that the quality and character of its relationship with both Armenia and Azerbaijan will depend on their demonstrated commitment to CSCE principles, including the peaceful settlement of disputes. Q Just one question on that. MS. TUTWILER: Yes. Q When you talk about the latest escalation, I think most of us are aware that the escalation has been prompted by Armenian moves. Why were you unable in your statement to single out the party that you think is to blame or, in your view, are both of them equally to blame? MS. TUTWILER: Let me give you what we have as the current situation there on the ground and our update. The Government of Armenia denies that it has sent its forces across its border into the Azerbaijani region of Nakhichevan. The Armenian Government claims that it has responded to cross-border shelling from the Azerbaijani side with counter-shelling and has forced Azerbaijani forces back across the border, but Armenian forces remain in positions inside Armenian territory. The Government of Nakhichevan charges that Armenian forces are shelling the region and are attacking the city of Sadarak, site of a bridge between Turkey and Nakhichevan. The United States Government has been in contact with parties in the region about the fighting in Nakhichevan and in Nagorno-Karabakh. We are deeply concerned about this fighting and the risk of a dangerous escalation of this conflict. So, as you can see, there are -- and we are, obviously, in contact with both parties -- different versions of what is going on, Alan and we're not here to mediate that or decide that. What we are very concerned about is that this is, in our opinion, escalating. It is a dangerous escalation for the region, and that's why we're calling equally on both parties to please get back to what was, as you know, an effort -- a CSCE mediation effort. Q Do we accept Armenia's explanation for this, that they remain inside their borders? Do we reject it, or do we just don't know? MS. TUTWILER: It's a case of -- I'm not sure, to be honest with you, John, how much on the ground information we actually have at this time other than we are aware that overall this is, in our view, escalating. We, obviously, are getting information from our embassies in both capitals, and we will continue to assess this as we go along. Q Margaret, your statement says that the United States will not accept a change in the status of Nagorno-Karabakh by military means. Who is trying to make that change? Who's trying to change the status of the enclave? MS. TUTWILER: In our opinion, I don't, again, want to name names or call names. There are those who obviously are interested in changing the status. We are stating categorically, on behalf of the United States Government, we will not accept that type of change. Q The status is that Nagorno-Karabakh is part of Azerbaijan. The Azeris are presumably not trying to change that status. Is it right, by the process of elimination, to assume it must be the Armenians? MS. TUTWILER: There are, that I'm personally aware of -- and I think you would agree -- a number of views on this situation. There are a number of very strongly-held views of long standing on this situation. Our point today, to be quite honest with you, is not to debate that issue but to bring to your attention, if you were not already aware, that in our view the situation is escalating and, in some instances, I think you're aware, beyond the Nagorno-Karabakh area and that that is of great concern to us. Q Could I follow-up on that a little bit, please. One of the first things that the Armenian forces have done today is to send a convoy with relief supplies to some of the villages that have been blocked off for months, if not longer. In fact, the Armenian view is that they simply wish to open the highway to send these supplies in -- one of the views. Would humanitarian considerations justify some of the military actions taken in these last few days? MS. TUTWILER: I'm not in a position to make that judgment for you. I'm aware of the view that you have just expressed, and I'm going to continue today to express a United States concern over what we view as an escalation of this situation that we, in turn, think can have a very dangerous effect throughout the region. I am well aware of your question, of a view that is being expressed. I am going to be disciplined and refrain from either subscribing to that view or saying we don't believe that view or taking an opinion on that view or other views. Q So the situation is that the United States simply will not take a position on who is the aggressor and who is the victim in this situation? MS. TUTWILER: Right. Q Well, Margaret, on that, those two statements, as you read them, aren't necessarily contradictory. In other words, the Armenians could be shelling across the border without actually sending their forces physically across that border; is that not the case? MS. TUTWILER: I'm not exactly sure, Jim, what your question is. I'm very sure about -- John's question to me is, we, I think very clearly, have called on both governments to get back to the road they were on, which was a mediation effort through the CSCE process. As you know, that meeting has not yet been called. As you know, the United States has said we would be sending a representative. We have not determined at what level. That is what we are overall calling for. What I'm not in a position to do is to do anymore detail on who's shelling who, or who is not shelling who. I've given you what both sides are saying is the case there on the ground. We are not taking a position on which side has it right or doesn't. Q In your statement, you said the United States is not going to accept unilateral changes in the geographic control. But what does that mean? You're not going to continue diplomatic recognition of them, or what? MS. TUTWILER: We use this phrase, Jim, in any number of instances. In fact, you'll find me using it when I get to my Thailand statement concerning the Thai situation. It is a standard phrase that we use here. I can't explain to you why they do it. It's been used for years. "We will not accept" is a standard United States position -- policy -- we take in situations like this. Q It also normally precedes some strong action by the United States Government. As you will recall, you used the statement "will not accept" just before we went into Panama with military forces as well. Are we prepared to and about to take some further strong action in this situation? MS. TUTWILER: Not to my knowledge. If you're referring to military action, none that I have any knowledge of at all. Q Margaret, has the United States consulted with the Russian Government about this issue? And what is the position in the United Nations about this, if any? MS. TUTWILER: You would have to check with the United Nations office to see what their position is. Concerning the Russian Government, there's been any number of conversations throughout this with officials of our government and their government. Q What is the Russian Government telling you? MS. TUTWILER: I would check with their embassy here. Q I mean, they've told you something. What have they said? MS. TUTWILER: They have -- I think they are best capable of speaking for themselves, to be quite frank. They have spoken out any number of times on this on the record, and I would refer you to either their embassy or to their record. They have been very supportive, generally speaking, sir. Q Let me put it this way -- MS. TUTWILER: Can I finish? -- of trying to find a peaceful resolution to this situation. Q Well, let me put this way: Is our position consonant with the Russian position on this matter? MS. TUTWILER: I'm not aware of a great deal of divergence, sir. But if you want to know if they're absolutely, positively matched, it's something I haven't done. Q Margaret, the European Community put out a similar statement of condemnation today. Did the United States consult and coordinate the position with the European Community -- that's number one. And number two, the Helsinki spokesman says the peace conference on the Nagorno-Karabakh region will now have to be broadened to include a much broader piece of territory. Do you subscribe to that concept? MS. TUTWILER: I'm not aware of the statement in your second question. And your first question -- I can't remember. What was it? Q Whether the positions between the European Community and the United States are -- MS. TUTWILER: Were coordinated? I don't know. I honestly do not know. I know that from the very earliest hours this morning, it's a statement that the United States Government intended to make. I don't know if it was coordinated. I, for instance, was unaware that the EC has made a similar statement today. Q Did the Secretary get in touch with the Turkish Foreign Minister by telephone about this particular issue? MS. TUTWILER: He's been in touch with him a number of times. Mostly recently, I believe the Turkish Foreign Minister phoned him yesterday. Q Did they discuss the possibility of Turkish unilateral military action there? MS. TUTWILER: Not that I'm aware of. But, George, I haven't, to be honest with you, asked him. I just know in passing -- not even from him, to be honest with you -- from officials that that phone conversation took place yesterday. The Turkish Foreign Minister, the Secretary most recently met with on this subject, you will recall, as he did the Armenian Foreign Minister when we were at the NAC-C meeting, and he's had any number of phone conversations, to be quite honest with you, from not only the Turkish Foreign Minister, the Armenian Foreign Minister, and I believe the Azerbaijani Foreign Minister since that date. Q Do you have any response to the proposal by the Turkish Prime Minister for a U.N. military role in helping to resolve this dispute? MS. TUTWILER: I haven't seen that proposal either. I don't know if that's something, indeed, the U.N. is looking at. Q What is the U.S. reaction to the Turkish air embargo against the Armenians? MS. TUTWILER: We have called for any number of weeks for both of these embargoes to be lifted. As you're aware, there are two, and we have called publicly for both of them to be lifted.

[Thailand: Statement on Violence during Anti-Government Demonstrations]

Okay. Thailand. I'll begin with my statement and then try to answer some of your questions. We condemn the violence and loss of life in Bangkok. We are sadden by these events. As a long-time friend of the Thai people, we have made it clear that we cannot accept the use of deadly force as a means of resolving the issues that divide the opposition and the government. We have met with Thai leaders, including Prime Minister Suchinda to condemn the violence and the loss of life and urge strongly that the Thai Government refrain from the use of deadly force. We have also raised our concerns with the opposition. In view of the continuing violence in Bangkok, we have put resumption of economic and military assistance on hold and suspended all combat elements of the military exercise Cobra Gold. It is clear that a normal relationship with the Thai Government under current conditions will be impossible. Q Margaret, these things -- I'm sorry, are you through? MS. TUTWILER: Yes. Q These things, Cobra Gold and suspension of military elements, this stuff is weeks old. This isn't anything -- MS. TUTWILER: Cobra Gold is certainly not. Q I'm told that weeks ago that was decided prior to Kanter's visit. MS. TUTWILER: Well, Sid, I hate to confuse you, but you've got some misinformation. Q Okay. Beyond this, are we going to put anymore teeth into what we're saying to them? And what are we saying to the opposition people? MS. TUTWILER: The same message we're giving to the opposition we are giving to the leadership of whatever your views may be, please get back to a peaceful dialogue; or, at least, if you cannot at this moment do that, do something to influence your people wherever you can to stop this violence. You say this doesn't have teeth. You can, I guess, go and ask the Thai Embassy if United States assistance is important or is not. Cobra Gold is a massive program. Pete Williams right now is either briefing or has concluded his briefing, giving you the details. It is thousands of U.S. American troops that were there. We, as Pete explained today, will continue with the humanitarian aspect of this with such things as, it's my understanding, hospitals, drilling wells, some types of dental exercises, dental work. That is not being stopped. It is purely humanitarian. But the military portion of this -- and I have the breakdown of all the numbers for you -- Pete, more appropriately, has done a thorough briefing on this today. Q Margaret, why does the statement limit the use of force to "deadly force?" Do you accept that a certain amount of non-lethal force is necessary for the government to restore order? MS. TUTWILER: No, John. What we're concerned with right now was loss of life. For instance, right now, the estimates that we have, which we cannot confirm or deny, are anywhere from 19 to over 100 dead. That's deadly force, in our opinion. We obviously condemn that. We would like to obviously do whatever we can to see that stopped. The Secretary, last night, instructed our Ambassador to go in and meet with the Prime Minister this morning. That meeting took place. He expressed -- the Ambassador, on behalf of our government -- our deep concerns about the on-going violence in Thailand. He urged the Thai Government to return to a policy of restraint and deplored the sustained use of deadly force on Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday. The Ambassador urged the government to take measures to heal Thailand's domestic wounds. And, as I said, this meeting took place this morning. Q Margaret, what was the response from the Prime Minister? MS. TUTWILER: I don't have a characterization for you from the Prime Minister. He, obviously, took note of our message. This was not something to be -- I can't characterize his reaction, but this is something that we have been consistent in saying privately and publicly. So I don't think the Secretary's message on behalf of our government had anything new that he wasn't expecting. Q That sort of goes to my second question. Only this week did you disclose that when Under Secretary Kanter was in Thailand last week that he had urged the government to handle the situation -- MS. TUTWILER: Use restraint. Q -- in a very sort of restrained way. I just wonder, did you not expect this kind of violence to evolve? Did you not think that a loud and clear U.S. warning ahead of time -- a public warning ahead of time -- might have been effective, because you've used a public warning in advance in other situations. MS. TUTWILER: I could play the flip side of that for you. If you are not a hundred percent ironclad sure that over 200 thousand people are going to take to the streets on a Sunday night, you can have the reverse effect, in my personal opinion, of enormous criticism not only from that country -- from that area of the world. Or, "What in the world are you saying that 'X' is going to happen when it doesn't?" So, yes, we did not, that I recall, make a secret of parts of Arnie Kanter's agenda when he was there -- the Under Secretary. We've obviously been watching this situation very closely since the coup in February '91; since the elections, you're aware of, in March of this year. So we have been aware. I would say that there was potential for this type of eruption, but I can't say that we have crystal balls that would tell us on this particular weekend, or that, indeed, it was going to happen. To be fair to the Government of Thailand, why Arnie Kanter chose his words the way he did at that time, which was about ten days ago, is [because] the government was at that time using restraint. Q Margaret, what assistance have you suspended, then? Because I thought aid was suspended after the coup in '91. MS. TUTWILER: Right. I've got it all for you. I'm not going to go through every specific of our aid. I'll post it for you. It's a lot of detail. The February 1991 military coup in Thailand triggered a cut-off of most bilateral assistance as required by Section 513 of the Foreign Operations Appropriations Act. Affected was over $60 million in a number of programs, all of which I'll give you. As you know, yesterday, I said that we were continuing our counter-narcotics program, which is approximately $4 million a year. I have announced this morning, or the Pentagon has, the cancellation of the military aspects of Cobra Gold. We will keep the humanitarian part. Jim Anderson asked me yesterday about assistance for the refugees. It's my understanding, Jim, that this does not go to Thailand; that this is earmarked and is simply for the refugee operations there on the border, and I have all the actual data for you concerning those funds. Our whole assistance package, it's my understanding, that's the way that we break all this down. Q So almost most of it was already cancelled. The only thing you've done is kill the military program, it sounds like. That's the absolutely -- there's no other economic aid which has been cut -- MS. TUTWILER: Today? Q -- in response to the recent violence? You've basically cut that a year ago. What you've done is suspend the military exercise, period? MS. TUTWILER: The military exercise, it's my understanding, as I said, is a quite large exercise. I'm sure from your Pentagon experience, you know this. Maybe everybody doesn't. Cobra Gold is an annual joint exercise with Thai troops which this year includes about 10,000 United States troops, 4,000 of which are on land, most in northeastern Thailand, and 5,400 embarked on ships in the Gulf of Thailand. While troops began arriving for the exercise in late April, most of the activities of the exercise were scheduled for the period May 18-27. Plans for the exercise included air, land, and amphibious operations with the Thai -- none, however, in the Bangkok area -- some of which involved construction activities and humanitarian and civic action for the Thai people, such as -- which I mentioned -- digging wells, building schools, and medical treatment of the Thai people. Then, as I've said, we have cancelled all of our military parts of this. Pete (Williams) has, and I don't have for you, exactly when these people -- our troops will actually --- it's my understanding -- be departing; those who were part of this. That is what we've done. Q The drug interdiction program does continue, as you said yesterday; is that correct? MS. TUTWILER: Counter-narcotics program -- yes. It is FY-91, as I recall, $4 million. We requested the same for '92. Q Margaret, is any thought being given to the Secretary cancelling his ASEAN trip this summer where he would meet with the Thai Government? MS. TUTWILER: No one has raised that yet, John, that I've heard of. Q Has the Administration suspended approval on all foreign military sales to Thailand? You may not know that. MS. TUTWILER: To be honest with you, I can't remember. I'll find out for you. Q You will take that question? MS. TUTWILER: Yeah, I'll look at it. Q Did the Ambassador suggest that one way to heal the wounds would be for the Prime Minister to step down? MS. TUTWILER: Not to my knowledge, Jim.

[Former Yugoslavia: US/Others Efforts to End Violence/US National Security Interests/ Update on ICRC/Int'l Relief Convoys]

Q New subject? MS. TUTWILER: Yes. Q Is Mr. Baker planning to meet the Foreign Minister of Bosnia who is in town today? MS. TUTWILER: I checked on that right before I came to the briefing, and no one here has a request from the Foreign Minister to meet with any official at the State Department on this particular visit while he's here in town. I checked with a number of logical offices where that request may have been. He has not. I have learned myself, through one of your colleagues, that he, indeed, is in town. That's how I found out. I will certainly make officials here aware of that; but he has not requested, on this particular trip, to see anyone at the State Department. Q -- He made an eloquent plea for the United States or the Security Council, or anybody -- but I'll direct this to the United States -- to at least consider providing armed escort to the humanitarian convoys which are not making it to the people who he claims are starving? Is the U.S. giving any consideration to helping on that front? MS. TUTWILER: Militarily? Q Well, armed escort does connote military; yes. MS. TUTWILER: To my knowledge, our policy concerning United States, or American forces being committed to Yugoslavia, I'm unaware of any change in our policy. As you know, we have stated many times that our view is that, as a bilateral issue, we should not commit American forces to this conflict. May I take the opportunity, though, to be in total agreement with you. He is a very eloquent and powerful spokesman on behalf of his country. He had the same powerful message that many of you saw when he was here and did request to see the Secretary of State. He is an excellent spokesman -- for lack of a better word which doesn't adequately describe his impact on people -- for Bosnia. I will continue to say, which is true, that the United States Government is deeply concerned about the continued violence and human suffering in Bosnia. We are actively considering further concrete measures, either alone or in concert with our allies, aimed at stopping aggression that, in turn, could hopefully ease the dire humanitarian situation. Q Well, do those measures which you are considering include some form of air cover, which has been widely suggested in recent days? MS. TUTWILER: Not to my knowledge. That falls into, in my mind, the category of American forces, and the answer remains the same on that. Q It wouldn't necessarily have to be American. You say in conjunction with others, as well. It could be NATO. MS. TUTWILER: I'm not aware of a current suggestion along those lines. Q Margaret, "concrete measures" do not go beyond talking at this point, is that correct? The things that you are contemplating, actively considering -- additional concrete measures -- do not include any aspect of a military component, is that correct?0 MS. TUTWILER: Correct. Q Why is that? MS. TUTWILER: That, John, is a decision that this Administration, this Presidency, has determined, and I don't want to -- nor do I think it would be appropriate -- to try to analyze this decision, Presidential decision, or other decisions. I'm not aware of anyone that I'm aware of that is not deeply touched by the situation, that we see nightly or read about every morning and afternoon in our newspapers and in our magazines of the unbelievable suffering and tragedy that we are all seeing in Bosnia. It is heart-wrenching, but that is quite different than a Presidential decision to commit American forces to whether it is Bosnia or it is other areas of the world which have had equally tragic situations that are there on the ground. And I answered, when asked, very straightforwardly the other day about America's national security interests, and I answered that for you. And I also don't know, to be quite honest, and this is with all due respect to everyone who is suffering in Bosnia, where the United States, it is written is the, you know, military policeman of the world. Q No, but -- Q Margaret, what do you say to the argument that he makes that Bosnia-Hercegovina, followed all the international requirements that were set out -- MS. TUTWILER: That's correct, they did. Q -- and met the international requirements of the CSCE, of the United States, of the European Community, of everyone else. It has been recognized by the United States. Surely the world community, since it has followed all these rules, owes it some protection. MS. TUTWILER: Well, that is not -- the last time the Foreign Minister was here and met with the Secretary of State -- I attended that meeting -- that is not the analysis he drew for the Secretary of State. If he is doing so today for you all, I'm unaware of it. Q Well, I mean -- MS. TUTWILER: I am -- Q With respect to the last time he met the Secretary of State, there were several thousand dead and seven hundred thousand homeless -- MS. TUTWILER: And it was just as tragic. Q No. I mean, since he last met with the Secretary of State, we have had several thousand dead and seven hundred thousand people made homeless. Maybe the situation has changed. Don't these people deserve some kind of protection from somebody, given that there is a new world order which has been declared by the President of the United States. MS. TUTWILER: The only honest answer I have to you, Alan, is one that happens to be a fact. Where is it written that the United States Government, whether it is this administration or other administrations who came before us, who will come after us, is the military policeman of the world. This is heart-wrenching. We have stood out here, and Secretary Baker, the President, I have, Marlin, have acknowledged, you are right, they did everything exactly the way they were asked to do it. That makes it doubly tragic, doubly. It is heart-wrenching, as I said. They have ascribed to every single solitary thing that were asked to do. They had a referendum that was judged free and fair. They ascribed to everything the international community asked them to do. But the fundamental question comes back down to committing American forces. It's a bilateral issue. Our policy, whether you agree with it or not -- and I understand how hard it is to see this tragedy going on -- is we should not. Q Well, the United States did lead an international coalition to protect a small nation -- Kuwait. MS. TUTWILER: That's correct. Q The United States did lead an international coaliton that protected the Kurds. Why are Kuwait and the Kurds different form the population of Bosnia Hercegovina? What makes them different? MS. TUTWILER: To be honest with you, I don't think that it helps anyone on the ground to do that type of comparison. These are human beings that are suffering. The other day when I asked -- was asked by one of your colleagues here, "What is the difference?" I recall that at the time concerning the invasion of Kuwait, the President of the United States said that it was in the United States' national security interest. I am not aware of a statement or a view held by our government that the situation in Bosnia is a similar type of situation. That does not alleviate that our government has spent any number of hours at all levels of our government, closely coordinating with our allies, discussing this with our allies. You know of the many, many efforts of the U.N. Special Representative, former Secretary of State Vance. You know of the EC mission with Mr. Carrington. There is not just the United States who has tried in this effort, and it has been a number of other governments who have also tried very hard to prevent and are continuing to prevent -- for instance, how do you explain or rationalize a Red Cross convoy, an official of the ICRC, who has died, trying to deliver 400 tons of medicine to this area? How can you explain that it was fired upon -- our information from a journalist -- for over one hour. That was humanitarian assistance. So, I mean, at some point it seems to me that the people there in the region also need to maybe step back and ask themselves the question, "What in the world are we doing?" Q Margaret, you talked about bilateral assistance. You were certainly ruling out as a bilateral issue. What does that mean -- that you're ruling out any -- MS. TUTWILER: I can only speak for the United States. Q -- American forces as a bilateral issue. Does that mean that it could be -- that American forces could become part of another coalition? MS. TUTWILER: I'm not trying to lead you -- no -- along that line. I'm not aware of any request right now for any type of coalition. Q Well, we -- MS. TUTWILER: I can only speak for United States forces, and that's why I'm very careful to say "as a bilateral issue." I'm not aware that we have been asked by any consortium or any ideas that people have had to commit American forces to any type of group. I'm not aware of any country that's committed forces. Q But when you ask, "Where is it written that we're the world's policemen?" Colin Powell, I think, has written that in saying that we're the only superpower, and we should hang out the shingle that says, "Superpower Lives Here." What we did in the Persian Gulf is lead the coalition. We were not asked to join any coalition except by the democrats of Kuwait, but we did lead a coalition to do something about the people in Kuwait. Why are we so hesitant at building some sort of coalition which would protect the Red Cross convoy that you're angry about? MS. TUTWILER: I have explained that in the only honest and candid way that I know how. As you know, I do not do comparisons, and in this particular instance I think that it is certainly not going to help anyone there on the ground to try to do a comparison. The situation in Kuwait, in our view of this policy, is a totally different situation. Q Margaret, was Panama also totally different? MS. TUTWILER: Yes. Every situation is unique unto itself, Saul, and this is a particular situation where our policy is as I have stated it. And I would argue with you that I'm not aware that Colin Powell has ever said that we are the policemen of the world. Q But isn't this the perfect case for CSCE coalition leadership as a military force, or some sort of security force to simply at least cordon off the area? MS. TUTWILER: Saul, without going over the line here, CSCE, as you recall, 51 nations, I believe, are now members of CSCE that operate by consensus. They spent, as I recall, a number of days, making a -- working on a consensus communique -- and, as you know, any of these big international organizations, it is very difficult to achieve consensus sometimes on what appear to be the simplest things. So I'm not aware that it's ever been raised at CSCE, to be honest with you, any type of use of other nations' troops. I'm not aware of it. Q Well, does the United States have any plans at all to raise it as a possibility? MS. TUTWILER: Us? Q Yes. MS. TUTWILER: Not that I'm aware of. Q To lead, I think, is what Saul is asking -- in the Security Council, in NATO, in the CSCE -- in any of these bodies to lead the rest of the world, which George Bush says that should be the role of the United States. MS. TUTWILER: And, as you know, concerning the Yugoslav situation, the United States' policy has been to work extremely closely with the EC, and in many instances -- almost all instances that I can think of -- after close consultation and coordination, to follow the European lead in this particular situation. Q And they're not leading. MS. TUTWILER: Well, they also -- I cannot stand here and criticize the European Community. They also are wrestling with this very complex, very difficult -- but now, as all of you point out and have been for days -- extremely, again, heart-wrenching situation there on the ground. I have said for at least four days here there is no baby formula, there is no baby milk. One-third of the city does not have electricity. The downtown area of Sarajevo does not even have water. I said the other day that people now are resorting to burying their dead in the city park. I mean, I don't know -- and you all as a group, the media, are exposing all of our publics to this situation in Bosnia, which is making everyone aware of this. But again I'm not aware of -- take our own country -- a human cry for committing American forces -- in our own country. Q Margaret, I guess -- Q It sort of comes from the White House. The White House educates the public; the White House leads rather than having the public swell up and tell the President, necessarily, what to do. It's the chicken-and-the-egg -- MS. TUTWILER: But I get back to: Why is this a United States responsibility? We have been very concerned about this situation. We have, in my personal opinion -- at either the Secretary of State level or other levels -- worked very hard within our policy to do what we can. Yes, this tragedy is happening daily in Bosnia now. But, again, I would also ask those who are either directing individuals to attack a Red Cross convoy or individuals who are deciding to do that on their own. I can't believe that they, too, should not be questioned of what they are inflicting on their fellow citizens, in all candor. Q What some of us are wondering is when the United States and other concerned nations in Europe are going to offer more than condolences here? MS. TUTWILER: We have offered, to use your phrase, more than condolences. If you recall, the United Nations has offered 14,000 peacekeeping troops, 8,200 of which are in Croatia, 350 of which were in Sarajevo, 200 of which had to evacuate because they cannot even do their peacekeeping work, 41 of which I believe are still out in the Bosnia area, and about 100 are still there in Sarajevo. But they cannot even do their work for the amount of shelling and fighting that is going on there. We have -- the United Nations has sent 14,000 peacekeeping troops. That's something. The United Nations Secretary General appointed a former Secretary of State who has made any number of missions there; has met with these leaders -- all of them -- any number of times. The EC has had Lord Carrington. They've had any number of meetings, talking with these people. But, again, I'm not trying to be cute by half. It's like other situations. You cannot force or dictate that people must choose the peaceful route. Obviously, someone is not, and innocent people in this area are suffering greatly. Q Margaret, maybe the bottom line here is that there is no threat to any U.S. interest in the area. MS. TUTWILER: I've answered the question on national security grounds twice here today. Q Margaret, could we ask a little bit for you to elaborate just slightly on your answer on national security grounds? You've said that the President determined it was not in the national interest of the United States to become involved in this -- MS. TUTWILER: I didn't say it quite that frankly. Q Well, can we infer that a decision is made that it is not in the national interest of the United States to prevent the dismemberment of a small country or only the dismemberment of this small country? MS. TUTWILER: I can only restate for you what United States policy is concerning this situation. So I cannot hypothesize with you concerning broad statements that you may draw, but I have not stated. I have stated as clearly and humanely as I know how about a situation that all of us view -- no matter what side of the aisle we're on, no matter what line of work we're in -- is a heart-wrenching situation. I have stated to you what United States policy is concerning commitment of American forces. That does not mean that the United States is not continuing to work to do whatever we can to help in this situation. Q Could we go to another subject? Q No. Margaret, this Sunday the people of Kosovo are going to try -- MS. TUTWILER: Correct. Q -- and have an election to determine -- MS. TUTWILER: It's a referendum. Q -- a referendum -- an unofficial referendum -- MS. TUTWILER: On May 24. Q Does the United States have a position on this? Are you sending monitors? Are you concerned that the Serbians will not honor the results? Is this the next Bosnia? MS. TUTWILER: I don't want to freelance with you on those types of scenarios. I think it would be irresponsible. We're obviously well aware that there is a referendum -- it's my understanding on May 24. I do not believe, Johanna, that we have sent observers to the other referendums, for instance, in Bosnia or Macedonia, etc. I'll have to check that fact for you. Q Margaret, what's the -- MS. TUTWILER: We obviously -- without making predictions, obviously hope that whatever the results of that referendum is, that it does not precipitate any type of violence. Q Well, the earlier statement that you made about Nagorno-Karabakh -- MS. TUTWILER: Correct. Q -- about not accepting unilateral changes on the basis -- or borders on the basis of -- would that apply in areas like Kosovo? MS. TUTWILER: Um hm Q What's the -- Q Is that a "yes"? MS. TUTWILER: Yes. Q Margaret, one question, please, on this -- on convoys which we've been trying to organize. What's the latest status, especially given the fact that this Red Cross one was shot up? MS. TUTWILER: Right. The latest information is what's going to be attempted now are what are being called "mini-convoys." This one obviously was tragically stopped. And there is another one, it's my understanding, that's either going to attempt this today -- these are under the International Committee of the Red Cross, and they will try a number of these, it's my understanding, is the plan before the large convoys that we have mentioned that will be attempting this on Friday, if they deem that it is safe, that they can make it. And our contribution to this convoy is still the amount of food that I mentioned to you later yesterday, and that's really everything that I know about the convoys. One of them, as you know, is scheduled to go with 35 trucks on Friday. They will make a number of stops en route to Sarajevo is the plan, and another one is leaving from a different town with approximately 12 trucks on Friday, again making a number of stops on the way. Q Margaret, may I ask -- Q Margaret, do you have any information that the airport in Sarajevo has been mined? MS. TUTWILER: Have I heard that it's been mined? Q The Foreign Minister said he couldn't confirm it, but he -- MS. TUTWILER: That wouldn't come as a surprise to me. I have heard a number of things about that airport concerning what's been done to it. But what I do know is that it is closed, and we all know that when days ago forces that chose to have it open, for whatever reason, it managed to open and flights did land. And we obviously have been pressing very strongly in Belgrade for anyone who has any influence, for humanitarian flights, to let that airport operate and open up a corridor for humanitarian assistance. Q Margaret, I know yesterday you said you're not going to talk about this business of -- MS. TUTWILER: That's right. Q -- 194. However, on the basis of what was reported this morning, I must ask you for some clarifications, if nothing more. And that is the interpretations of what you said yesterday, plus what you said earlier -- or what you said last week seem to be beyond the -- going beyond the word "distortion." It seems like something else. So if I may ask you for a clarification. The Washington -- well, without naming the newspaper, you apparently said that the different interpretations of the Palestinian right of return means that the matter should be negotiated by Israelis and Palestinians in the final stages of the peace process. Well, that seems to be two errors right there. One, you said the issues are not -- that issue is not going to be part of this peace process, but apparently it's somewhere off in the future. The other thing is, is the issue really going to be decided by Palestinians and Israelis in the view of the State Department, or do other Arab nations that have held these people captive in camps for all these 44 years going to participate as well? What about the 800,000 Israelis who had to flee from Arab countries for safety, in what, the new State of Israel? You know, all this comes into this, plus, of course, the fact that you mentioned there are many other U.N. resolutions involved -- [Laughter] I hear laughter, but it's not a laughing matter to people who have to bear with this. Q Are you going to ask a question or not? Q I'm asking these questions. Q Well, ask one! Q Well, I've asked a half dozen already. MS. TUTWILER: I've got the gist of it, and I appreciate that you did take note that -- I know you weren't here yesterday -- that you did see that I said that I would not be commenting on these, and that's true. I did say that. And since you weren't here, I'll read for you the exact words that I said, because they apply to today as well. Henceforth, I am just not going to respond to every comment or question on the peace process or the Arab-Israeli conflict. Q Margaret, could you give us any information on the Secretary's meeting with President Nazarbayev of Kazakhstan? Where do we stand on the START protocol? MS. TUTWILER: I have a little bit for you, but I also am going to refer you to departure statements at the White House that are probably being made right about now. And I would tell you that the Secretary -- one of you asked me yesterday if he was going to take advantage of the ride in from the Pentagon and do any serious work, and I said I'd never known him not to. He extended that car ride for about an hour and stayed over at Blair House and continued -- [Laughter] Q Wait, wait. Do you mean he took Nazarbayev for a -- MS. TUTWILER: No. But the car ride meeting -- Q For a ride? [Laughter] MS. TUTWILER: -- continued the discussions for an hour at Blair House. Q Does he drive commercial? MS. TUTWILER: No. He -- Q In lieu of a sauna, wasn't it? [Laughter] MS. TUTWILER: Right. They did very serious work. They met again this morning for approximately about an hour and a half. The Secretary described for me these meetings as very good, constructive conversations, and he feels that they made some good progress. But as of today I would caution you and tell you that the whole matter is not put to bed with all four of the countries. There is more work that remains to be done. And on the specifics of the Kazakhstan statements that they will be making, I refer you to the White House for the departure statements. Q Well, Margaret, can you tell us anything about where the -- MS. TUTWILER: The various parties are? Q Yes. MS. TUTWILER: No. Q I mean, is Kazakhstan now on board, and you have problems with other countries, or do you still have some problems with Kazakhstan? MS. TUTWILER: Well, the Kazakhstan [situation] is kind of like the same day I came out here when the Ukrainian was with the President at the White House. I just waited until after they have done their statements. So I can't be any more specific today on Kazakhstan. I'll be happy to answer your questions after the two heads of state have made their statements. Q All right. What about the other countries? Are there problems with Russia and Byelarus and Ukraine? MS. TUTWILER: Well, I don't think that I would be saying that more work remains to be done and pointing out, as I did yesterday, that yesterday I said all three countries -- that we are continuing our conversations and work with those. That's true. And why I say all four today, just generically speaking, is, as you know, this has been a very technical, very tedious and very political situation. So each time you satisfy one nation's needs, you have to then make sure that it does not cause a problem in the corresponding other three countries. So the state of play is that the Secretary and other senior officials here are deeply immersed in trying to get this where you have four parties agreed to, and you can come out and say it's put to bed. We're not in that position today. Q Can you -- would it be fair to say that the Secretary is seeing whether the other three nations can sign off on the deal he struck with Nazarbayev? MS. TUTWILER: That's true in any one of these. Q But -- MS. TUTWILER: I mean, you have the same situation, and that's why we did not say it was a done deal when the Ukrainian official left here. In order -- whatever one nation may need to satisfy their needs -- their domestic needs, their political needs, their needs -- if you change, this is very similar to another process that the Secretary of State was involved in for many months. It is that detailed. It is that technical. Every word, every sentence, then has to be discussed with whatever the other three are. And that is why this has been an extremely long and somewhat tedious process. Q How is that being done, Margaret? Is that being done by phone calls, or does the Secretary expect to go see some of these people, or will he see them in Lisbon and try to put it to bed this weekend or -- MS. TUTWILER: To date, it's been by phone by the Secretary of State a majority of the time or a great deal of the time. Cables -- after a phone conversation you say, "All right, we'll, you know, cable this out." You've had the Ukrainian that was here. We have the Kazakhstans here. Yes, he plans to see these and other foreign ministers when he is in Lisbon, and it has always been an option that should there be a need in order to get this done, would he be willing to travel in addition to Lisbon, if that's what it required, yes, he would. He thinks this is very important. He is willing to do whatever it takes to get this done, if that is what the parties themselves want done -- they all say they do -- and so he is going to stay with it. Q Margaret, did he have any phone calls with any of these other governments today, can you tell us? MS. TUTWILER: There was discussion of another phone call. I do not believe it was completed by the time he went to the White House for the Kazakhstan meeting. I don't know if they sent a cable or if he will try to complete that call later this afternoon. Q Who was that with? MS. TUTWILER: Well, I just really don't want to, you know, be that specific right this second. Q Margaret, do you stand by the statement you made last week on this matter that I raised earlier? Let me read you from the transcript -- MS. TUTWILER: No. I really don't -- I don't need you to, honest. Let me read you what I said yesterday one more time. Q Well, no, I know what you said yesterday, and I read your transcript. MS. TUTWILER: O.K. Well, that will answer your question. Q No, it does not. MS. TUTWILER: Well, it's going to serve as my answer. Q Because comments were made by you last week which have not been clarified and which require clarification, including, as a matter of fact, a statement that the Secretary of State is very angry about what's being said in Israel. So I come back to this: You were asked whether -- that your interpretation -- your legitimate interpretation of 194 means that Palestinians can return to their homes, not just to the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, and you answer was, "Correct," quote. MS. TUTWILER: And I -- excuse me -- I was asked that question -- I know, I recognize you weren't here every day, I mean, yesterday -- Q I read the transcripts. MS. TUTWILER: Then you'll know that your good colleague Mr. Plante asked me that a number of times yesterday, and every time he asked me, I said, "Henceforth I'm just not going to respond to every comment or question on the peace process or the Arab-Israeli conflict." And the transcript from yesterday will show that to you. The record says that, so I have nothing to add today. Q Could I talk to you about Thailand one more time and just ask -- MS. TUTWILER: What are you on? Q I just want -- back to Thailand and ask you whether or not you've got -- the United States is contemplating any other actions, such as limited economic sanctions or -- and you have a very thriving trade with Thailand -- MS. TUTWILER: I don't know, Jan, at this point. Q Thank you. MS. TUTWILER: Thank you all. (The briefing concluded at 1:37 p.m.)