US Department of State Daily Briefing #81: Friday, 5/22/92

Boucher Source: State Department Deputy Spokesman Richard Boucher Description: Washington, DC Date: May, 22 19925/22/92 Category: Briefings Region: MidEast/North Africa, Eurasia, Caribbean, E/C Europe, East Asia Country: Israel, USSR (former), Haiti, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Italy, China, Lebanon, Japan, Iraq, Syria, South Korea Subject: Mideast Peace Process, Development/Relief Aid, Trade/Economics, Regional/Civil Unrest, Refugees, Immigration, Military Affairs, EC, Media/Telecommunications, Nuclear Nonproliferation l2:29 P.M. (ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED) MR. BOUCHER: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. I don't have statements or announcements, so I'd be glad to take your questions.

[Haiti: US Policy Issues/Coast Guard Criteria for Picking up Boatpeople]

Q Are you prepared to answer questions on the policy toward Haitian boat people? The announcement yesterday -- is that just temporary or is that long-term? MR. BOUCHER: The announcement yesterday by the Coast Guard was what we understood reflected an operational decision by the Coast Guard. It doesn't reflect any change in our basic policies. As we've said over the past few days, given the numbers of people that are coming out and the danger of additional drownings, we are actively considering options. We'll keep you posted on those. I don't have any announcements. My understanding is that the Haitians presently on-+oard cutters will remain there until space becomes available at Guantanamo, as others from Guantanamo are either flown to the United States or repatriated to Port-au-Prince. And I think the Coast Guard made clear in their own statement that they will continue to take steps to save human lives and to save people who are in danger of drowning at sea. The Voice of America's Creole Service is broadcasting the Coast Guard announcement. That announcement also urges Haitians not to attempt to put out to sea in unsafe vessels. As I said, this decision was made by the Coast Guard. It's an operational decision that they made. And you can check with them for more information on it. Q Doesn't that reflect a change in U.S. policy towards the boat people? MR. BOUCHER: No, it doesn't, Sid. Q Could you just state the policy succinctly? MR. BOUCHER: As I did yesterday, and as we have many times on previous occasions, our first goal in this is to try to prevent people from drowning at sea. That, first of all, means trying to encourage people not to leave Haiti; and, second of all, to try to pick those up that we can who are in danger of that. The people that we do pick up, we carefully screen to determine those who have plausible fear of persecution, a plausible claim to refugee status, and those people are then processed and brought to the United States. The people who don't have that plausible claim are then repatriated back to Haiti. Q Richard, by discriminating, in choosing those that you will actually pick up in the sea to those that are unsafe -- in unsafe boats -- are you not perhaps inciting those Haitians to take up in unsafe boats so that they actually get picked up and get sent to Guantanamo Bay? MR. BOUCHER: I wouldn't draw that conclusion. I think the first thing that we're trying to do, and the Coast Guard is trying to do, through the announcement that we're making over VOA and through the efforts that we're making otherwise, is to discourage people from trying it, to begin with, because it's a very, very dangerous thing. I wouldn't draw any conclusion that we're encouraging people to go in unsafe boats or encouraging people to go in safe boats. You could make the other argument that they're being encouraged to go in safe boats because they're less likely to be stopped by the Coast Guard. So that's not the point of all this. The point of all this is to make sure that we're able to pick up people who are in danger of drowning. Q Richard, also on Haiti, the OAS meeting in the Caribbean someplace -- Paradise Island, I guess -- appears to have made -- MR. BOUCHER: It was in the Bahamas, Jim. Q Yes. MR. BOUCHER: Nassau. Q O.K. Well, wherever -- appears to have made a subtle change, and I wonder if the United States goes along with that -- which is that they no longer insist that Aristide be allowed to return to reassume the presidency as part of the process of return to participatory democracy. Is that indeed the case with the U.S. policy as well, that the United States does not insist on Aristide being returned? MR. BOUCHER: Jim, I didn't notice something like that in the OAS statement. What the OAS statement did, in my recollection, was that they reiterated the position that we had taken before -- that the OAS had taken before. And that is that the agreements reached in February in Washington -- agreements that were reached among Aristide, his nominee, and the leaders of the national legislature -- were the best way to end the crisis, and that those agreements, as I said, which involved Aristide, were the constitutional means for resolving the crisis. Well, however, from this podium the U.S. position has been stated to be that Aristide should be brought back and permitted to reassume power as part of the process of restoration of democracy. Are you now removing that condition and saying, "However it is done, the participatory democracy process is more important than the return of the man who was elected"? MR. BOUCHER: Jim, I'm not changing U.S. policy and I'm not aware that the OAS meeting, in fact, in any way changed it. Our policy has been to support the agreements that were reached by President Aristide, with the others involved in the crisis down there -- to support those as being the best way to resolve the crisis -- that the OAS has done that, the OAS has reiterated that. We have always supported the return of President Aristide's constitutional government, and that remains our policy. Q Is the U.S. trying to find a third country again to accept some of the refugees? MR. BOUCHER: As I said, we're actively considering options, but I'm not in a position at this point to discuss what the options might be. Q Are we discussing anything with other countries? MR. BOUCHER: At this point I'm not in a position to discuss what the options might be. Howard? Q Richard, has one reason for the buildup in Guantanamo, the outflow from Haiti being faster and larger than the repatriation -- been the slowdown in the screening procedure? Are there enough people screening these would-be refugees? MR. BOUCHER: Let me try to answer that in sort of three different ways. One is the screening process. Two is what the reason might be for the buildup. And, three, I wanted to provide you with some information on the humanitarian situation in Haiti as well. Somewhere I'll find it. I'll start out with screenings, because that's where I said I would start out. Give me a little time here. O.K. First of all, the question of screening is first a question for the Justice Department. Medical clearance and sponsorship in the United States are factors involved in that. The Justice Department has a Community Relations Service that can provide you with further information on this. The screened-out Haitians are being repatriated as soon as there are enough to put on a cutter. I do understand that INS has sent more personnel to Guantanamo in order to increase its interview rate. On the reasons for why people are leaving, I don't have a grand analysis of that. In recent weeks the weather has been good and the seas have been calm. That's probably a factor. We note that about 70 percent of the Haitians who went to save havens in other countries decided to return to Haiti voluntarily. There have been no significant numbers of Haitians that have crossed the open land border with the Dominican Republic; and so while there are some Haitians that are obviously leaving because of a well-founded fear of persecution, many are leaving simply to get to the United States. As far as the situation in Haiti, I would point out some things that we are doing in order to make life better there for people who may be in need. The Agency for International Development estimates that about l5 percent of Haiti's annual food production may be lost this year, but at least half of this loss is due to an early drought. We have U.S.-funded food distribution programs which operate through private voluntary agencies. They're now reaching between 380,000 and 390,000 people in Haiti. And this program is being expanded to reach 500,000 beneficiaries -- mostly young children, pregnant and lactating mothers, and the elderly and disabled. We expect to distribute about $l6.8 million worth of food this fiscal year. We're also supporting health programs administered by private voluntary organizations. These concentrate in the areas of immunization, disease control, vitamin supplements, family-planning programs that expect to reach about l.9 million Haitians -- about a third of the population. Q Richard, do you have any kind of an assessment of the impact of the embargo, economic sanctions, on the willingness of the de facto government to, you know, come to terms with what the U.S. is asking from them? MR. BOUCHER: Well, the sanctions have shown some results. The de facto government, the coup-makers, have not been able to consolidate their position. They haven't been able to schedule new elections. Instead, they've been maneuvering to create a new de facto government that would negotiate with the international community to lift the sanctions. We are, as I said, continuing to support the agreements reached in Washington last February. Those agreements have not been passed, but we continue to support those. The OAS does. And we continue to believe that they and their acceptance by the de facto government could lead to a resolution of the conflict and, of course, at that time, a lifting of the embargo. Q Richard, can we go to Yugoslavia? MR. BOUCHER: Sure. Q I think it was Margaret who suggested the other day that you were in consultation with the European allies or the EC on the possibility of additional measures on top of the unilateral measure that was announced, I believe, on Wednesday or so. MR. BOUCHER: Yes. Q And there are reports in Europe about expulsions of Military Attaches from Yugoslavia, Yugoslav Embassies. Do you have anything this morning? MR. BOUCHER: You might understand that I'm not about to confirm some lists that I've seen in the press that are sourced to unnamed European officials. As you point out, Margaret said two days ago that we were considering other concrete measures we could take alone or in concert with our allies. Yesterday I said we were talking to them about a broad range of measures. I think you know the EC, the European -- what is it called? -- the European Political Committee -- the EC political directors are meeting today to consider their desire to institute further measures; and I'm sure the Secretary will be talking about these with other Foreign Ministers during the course of his trip. The bottom line is I don't have anything new to announce for you right now. Q Richard, can you say straight out that the United States has not made any decisions about other steps? MR. BOUCHER: No, I can't say that, because I haven't been on the airplane. Who knows? They may be talking about it out there. Q Did you mean -- MR. BOUCHER: We've been talking to the allies about things that we would like to do. I don't have anything to announce for you about that. Q Well, are you aware of the United States telling Serbia that it was prepared, or intended to take certain steps -- certain other steps -- that haven't been -- MR. BOUCHER: You mean in the way Warren Zimmerman did last Saturday with the Yugoslav -- Q Right. MR. BOUCHER: -- Airline? Not that I'm aware of, no. Q Richard, do you have anything on the letter from, I think it was, the Italian President to Secretary Baker and back? The Italians with the President -- his proposal was to set up a refugee haven just outside Bosnia? And the Secretary of State said he thought it was a creative and an interesting idea? MR. BOUCHER: I don't have anything on that, Sid. As I understood the press reports, it was purportedly a letter from President Bush. Q I'm sorry. MR. BOUCHER: So you might check with the White House. Q But you don't have anything? MR. BOUCHER: I don't have anything on that at this point. Q There's a report out of Brussels, Richard, that the United States is about to expel Yugoslav military attaches and close some facilities. I'm sorry -- didn't you ask that specifically? MR. BOUCHER: That's what he was -- Q I'm sorry. MR. BOUCHER: -- generally referring to when I said I wasn't going to confirm any specific list. Q Well, I thought the question before was this list of things that we were talking about with the Europeans. These seem to be unilateral actions, and I just wonder whether you could speak about that. MR. BOUCHER: No. In either case I don't have anything or announcement at this point.

[Russia: Transfer of Crimea]

Q Richard, do you have any comment on the potentially nasty situation developing between Russia and Ukraine over Crimea? The Russian Parliament yesterday voted to declare illegal a l954 transfer of Crimea. That's a step that comes fairly close to changing existing borders, one of the U.S. principles of good relations with the new republics. MR. BOUCHER: Well, as I understand it, what the Russian Parliament passed was a two-part statement, the first part of which said that the l954 transfer of Crimea was without juridical force. The second part stated that, in accordance with their treaties signed in l990 and l99l, Russia was making no territorial claims on Ukraine and that any change in the legal status of Crimea could be achieved only through negotiations. Our view is one that we have made clear, and that's that the issues involved are matters that must be resolved by the parties involved. Our interest, along with the interests of the rest of the international community, is in seeing that these issues be addressed in the spirit of the Helsinki Accords -- in a peaceful, consensual manner, and in full accordance with key CSCE principles, including the inviolability of borders and respect for human rights of individuals, including members of minorities. We are continuing to encourage Russia and Ukraine to seek negotiated solutions to the bilateral differences, and to refrain from disruptive unilateral actions. Q Is it a topic that's likely to come up in the talks between the Secretary and Kozyrev on Sunday? MR. BOUCHER: I couldn't really predict at this point. It may, but I wouldn't predict specifically. Q When you say "We continue to urge," was any communication passed on this between this building and the Russian Embassy here or to Moscow? MR. BOUCHER: I know we have Embassies in both places, and we've discussed the Crimea issue before. I don't know if we've done it specifically since the vote yesterday, but it's an issue that we've discussed in both places before. Q Richard, do you have anything new on the Chinese explosion? You said yesterday there would be some contacts with China about this matter. MR. BOUCHER: Yes, and we have had some discussions in Beijing. We expressed our concerns along the lines of the way I expressed them yesterday. I think some people were interested in the possibility of radiation leakage. At this point, I don't have any information for you on that. Q Richard, what is the United States position on a total test ban? MR. BOUCHER: The U.S. position on nuclear testing has been that -- and it's a longstanding position -- testing is necessary to maintain the safety and security of weapons, simply put. There's a much longer explanation. It's the formal policy position, but that's the basics. Q On your contact with the Chinese, what did they say? MR. BOUCHER: I'm not going to try to characterize their response. They've issued a public statement. I'll leave it at that. Q Richard, what's your sort of assessment now of why they conducted this test at this level at this time? MR. BOUCHER: I don't really have a full assessment for you on that, Carol. It's, again, a question that's, as I said yesterday, I think best asked of the Chinese. Nuclear tests above -- well, let's put it this way: The limits that we adhere to with the Russians on nuclear testing are in part designed to help prevent the development of new high-yield nuclear warheads. Our main concern about the test and the size of the test is that the greater the test, the larger the size the of test, the greater the possibility of radiation leaks. But we think that it's appropriate to maintain restraint on the level that the United States, Russia, and others have maintained; and that's what we said. Q But there are other ways to sort of look at this. I mean you could conclude that it was that the Chinese just aren't sophisticated enough to always conduct the size of tests that they need, for whatever purpose their research requires. On the other hand, you could also conclude that they are trying to, you know, improve or heighten the capability of their nuclear forces. I mean it would be different, you know, if -- MR. BOUCHER: Those are all very good questions, Carol, but they're not questions for me. They're questions that you can ask the Chinese. If you want to know about why they're conducting these tests and what their purpose is, you'd have to ask them. Q Richard, you said yesterday that you didn't know whether there was any venting in that test. Do you know now? MR. BOUCHER: I'm sorry. (Laughter) You can back up and start again, Chris. (Laughter) No. We're unable to make an assessment at this time whether radiation was released into the atmosphere. Q On that, why is that -- because the prevailing winds haven't reached your monitors or that -- MR. BOUCHER: I don't know the technical aspects, Jim. I just asked our people if we were able to make an assessment, and they said, "No, we don't -- we're not able to do that at this point." Q Richard, I'd like to go back to Russia for a minute. The -- Q Could I -- Q Oh, I'm sorry. Go ahead. Q I have one more question on this. A lot of experts have suggested that the U.S. is being rather hypocritical in raising this issue in such a way as to call for Chinese restraint on nuclear testing when the United States is a very -- has been a very aggressive tester, even though you plan to have a slower pace this year. And I just wondered how you responded to that criticism. MR. BOUCHER: I would just say that we're not asking the Chinese to do anything that we don't do ourselves. We're asking them to exercise similar restraint to what we, Russians and others exercise. Q Well, the Chinese apparently conduct fewer tests -- far fewer tests than the United States. MR. BOUCHER: We limit ourselves and others limit themselves over the size of the tests, and that's the limit that we would like to see others adhere to. Q Richard, apparently the Russian Parliament decided to -- said that Russia should review its compliance with a U.N. sanction against Libya. Have you -- MR. BOUCHER: I had not seen anything like that. I haven't heard about it. Q Apparently the Russian Parliament voted that decision yesterday -- decided about it yesterday. Is that so? Do we have any comment on it? MR. BOUCHER: I'll have to check and see. I wasn't aware of that.

[Lebanon: Israeli Attacks in the Bekaa Valley]

Q Richard, there seems to be a fairly large sized Israeli operation in southern Lebanon. Have you been watching that? Do you have any comment? MR. BOUCHER: Jim, I can give you an overall comment on the attacks and the air strikes that have taken place over the past few days. I'm not exactly sure what you're referring to in terms of a large-sized operation. I don't have any confirmation of anything like that. I'd just say we're deeply concerned about the recurrence of violence in southern Lebanon. That includes a Hizballah raid on May 20 and the Israeli air strikes which followed the next day -- yesterday. This remains a turbulent and dangerous area that is continually and tragically gripped by violence. We've urged key parties to exercise maximum restraint in order to bring the violence to an end. Q Was the American Ambassador called in to talk to the Prime Ministry? MR. BOUCHER: Yes. He was called in, I think, to see the Lebanese Foreign Minister. Ambassador Crocker made clear our concerns that the cycle of violence be brought to an end, and that all the militias be disarmed. As you know, our basic policy is that the peace that's desired by the Israelis and the Lebanese is going to be achieved or must be achieved through a peace process, through some sort of just and lasting peace. We've supported the Taif Accords, including the disbanding of all the militias and the withdrawal of all non-Lebanese forces, and we think that that remains the path to go. In that regard, we're particularly concerned that Hizballah remains armed, and we believe that if the Central Government is going to establish that control and carry out the Taif Accords, that all militias, including Hizballah, must not be allowed to keep their weaponry. Q Was the Ambassador given any message by the Lebanese authorities? MR. BOUCHER: I think the Lebanese issued some kind of public statement about it, so I'll just leave it at that. I don't want to try to describe it for them, but they asked our Ambassador to come over to talk about the situation. Q Richard, it seems that you do not make a distinction between attacks by Hizballah on pro-Israeli forces within the Lebanese territory. I mean, those attacks that you referred to occurred within Lebanese territory, regardless of what the Israelis say about south Lebanon, and the Israeli attacks -- or what they call "retaliations" -- are certainly disproportionate to the violence in the south. MR. BOUCHER: I don't -- Q I'm not talking about attacks on Israel proper here. MR. BOUCHER: This is a cycle of violence that we've seen before. We've seen a recent escalation of that, including the Hizballah attacks. Our basic position has always been to support the Taif Accords, and the Taif Accords call for the disbanding of militias within Lebanese territory, and for them to turn over their weaponry. And that's something that we've always supported -- the extension of the legitimate authority of the Lebanese Government within its own territory. Q Did the Lebanese Foreign Minister respond to that point (inaudible) -- MR. BOUCHER: I wasn't there, Howard. I'm sorry. I don't know every word that was said. I've given you the basic outlines of the conversation. If you want to know more about what the Lebanese said, you'll have to ask them. Q Well, I mean, it's a key point of what you're saying now -- MR. BOUCHER: I'm not saying that everything that I've said here today was in fact said by Ambassador Crocker. I don't know every word that he said either. I've given you the basic outlines of the conversation, and that's where I'm going to stop. Q Were there any diplomatic messages or meetings with the Syrians at all? MR. BOUCHER: We've been in touch with the Israelis, with the Lebanese, as I said, and with the Syrians on the latest escalation. And, once again, we've reiterated the need for all parties to exercise maximum restraint. Q Richard -- MR. BOUCHER: Let's go over here. Q Green Peace International and Nuclear Research Institute based in Washington, D.C., started an international initiative to stop Japanese import of the large quantity of plutonium by sending protesters to 80 countries, possibly including the State Department, I think. And they insist that Japan already violated the '87 and the '88 agreement with the United States by not making a (inaudible) port call to the sea route -- possible sea route, and also they are using an unproved safety casket that will carry the plutonium. So I wonder if you have any comment (inaudible) -- MR. BOUCHER: I'm not aware of such a letter. I think we've spoken before about this process. We said that we're satisfied that the work that Japan is doing and that we're working with Japan on is in accordance with the agreements that we have with them, and we'll continue to work with them to see its safe implementation. I believe in a fact sheet that we gave you some time ago, we addressed both the kinds of casks that would be used and their safety, as well as the route of the ship, and I think I'll just leave it at that. Q So do you have any comment about the Hawaiian Senator (inaudible) -- what is that? -- Colombian law amendment that determined that the shipment of the plutonium might violate the '87 and '88 agreement with the United States? MR. BOUCHER: I don't know anything about that. I'm sorry. Q Richard, I'd like to go back to Lebanon for just one question: You mentioned the Taif Agreement, and the Taif Agreement calls for the withdrawal of Syrian troops from Beirut to Bekaa in September. Do you foresee any change in the (inaudible) that provision, and do you foresee -- do you have any indication that could be delayed because of the internal security problems in Lebanon right now? MR. BOUCHER: I don't have any prognosis for you. I'd just say that we continue to support the Taif Accords, including all its parts. Q Richard, Secretary Djerejian was supposed to meet with the Lebanese Minister of Economics today. Did he meet with him, as far as you can tell? MR. BOUCHER: I think he did, yes. I didn't get any kind of readout. Q You don't know whether the situation -- the security situation was raised? MR. BOUCHER: I don't know. Q Richard, Under Secretary -- Deputy Secretary Eagleburger's meeting with the Russian Ambassador this afternoon -- can we get a readout, and can you tell us what it's about? Why he's meeting? MR. BOUCHER: I'll have to check on it and see if we can get you a readout. Q Richard, do you have anything new on the Kurdish elections? MR. BOUCHER: No. Q Do we know whether they've taken place, if (inaudible) -- MR. BOUCHER: They took place on Tuesday. I think I said yesterday that most of the reports said that they were basically peaceful. I said yesterday I hadn't checked if there were any results, but I didn't check again yesterday. I'll check for you and see if there's anything more to say. Q Richard, a question on Europe: There were conflicting statements, one by Dick Cheney and the other one by the Ambassador -- the American Ambassador to NATO about the American view on the Euro-Corps and the European-German-French Corps, whatever they call it? MR. BOUCHER: I wasn't aware of statements by others, but I'll be glad to tell you what we think about it. The issue is the question of the Franco-German Corps. This is a proposal that goes back to October of 1991 when it was proposed by President Mitterrand and Chancellor Kohl. In November of 1991, President Bush, President Mitterrand, Chancellor Kohl and the other NATO heads of state met in Rome. They affirmed the alliances strong support for a European security and defense identity that strengthens NATO. The United States strongly supports the development of a European security and defense identity within the framework established by the Rome and Maastricht Summit. Viewed in that context, we believe it's important that further development of the Franco-German Corps, which we understand that Chancellor Kohl and President Mitterrand are discussing today at their summit meeting, proceed in a fashion that's compatible and supportive of NATO. We understand, for example, that the German forces in the corps will maintain their NATO assignments. In this context, we believe, as we said last week, that the proposals recently put forward by the U.K. Defense Secretary on the development of the West European Union are also a positive contribution to the ongoing dialogue on the development of the European security and defense identity. Q Do you have any misgivings [that] this corps or even WEU could eventually displace NATO? MR. BOUCHER: Jim, the point I'm making is that we have been strong supporters of the European security and defense identity; that we have agreement in NATO. Indeed, all of NATO is on record at the summit level of supporting that, and that in its implementation it should be done in a way that strengthens NATO, that's compatible with NATO, and that's supportive of NATO. So that's -- when we talk to our allies, we talk about the various aspects of their plans along those lines. Q And would the United States command in NATO have any jurisdiction or any say over what assignments this corps would have? For example, out of theater, as the phrase goes? MR. BOUCHER: Jim, those are sort of logistical and technical questions that have to be made, depending on the forces involved, the forces that are contributed to this corps. I said that one aspect of this is that the German forces that they're discussing in the corps would maintain NATO assignments. So those logistical compatibilities have to be worked out. Q Richard, the two Soviet planes -- two Antonovs -- that are being detained in Charleston that Peru leased from Ukraine some months back -- why hasn't the State Department made some kind of ruling on whether those planes can continue down to Peru? MR. BOUCHER: I'll have to check on them. I heard about them a couple of weeks ago. I didn't realize that we were in a position of having to make a ruling on them, so I'll check. Q And there was a license -- the appropriate license was submitted by the Peruvians about April 3. MR. BOUCHER: I'll have to check. I hadn't gotten an update on it. Q Richard, there are reports that the Syrian Jews have begun leaving Syria now, and that a number have come to the United States. Is that so, and under what provisions are they coming here -- as tourists, permanent residents? MR. BOUCHER: That's something I'll have to try and check on for you. I don't know.

[Former Soviet Union: Update on Nagorno-Karabakh]

Q Richard, anything new to say today about Armenia and Azerbaijan? MR. BOUCHER: The situation is that the fighting appears to have diminished quite a bit. Reports of fighting in and around Nagorno-Karabakh and on the border of Nakhichevan indicate that the fighting has diminished. There have been no new charges by either side of shelling along the Nakhichevan border. No new attacks in the area have been reported, and there's no more fighting reported in Lachin. We note that the Nakhichevan leader has issued a statement yesterday, saying there was no need for Turkish intervention in Nakhichevan. As far as our policy goes, we'd also note that the five-person U.N. fact-finding team arrived in the region today. That team is in Yerevan today and will be talking to Armenian officials. The Chairman of the CSCE Conference on Nagorno-Karabakh is continuing his work on making arrangements for the conference. We continue to believe that this CSCE conference offers the best chance for resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh dispute. We strongly urge all parties involved to cease the violence and cooperate in the effort to move peace forward. And I think, as I mentioned yesterday, the Secretary expects to have meetings with the Armenians, the Azerbaijanis and the Turks -- separate meetings -- during the course of his visit to Lisbon.

[Former Yugoslavia: Ethnic Cleansing/Update]

Q Richard, one more on Yugoslavia: There are reports which seem to be very well founded that the Serbians in Bosnia are going through and systematically expelling the Muslim population in a campaign. I think they call it "ethnic purification," or whatever. MR. BOUCHER: They call it "cleansing." I think Margaret used the term last week and said that that's what they called it and explained it later. Q Yes. Well, anyway, is this still going on, and do you have any way of stopping it? MR. BOUCHER: I haven't seen any change in this situation, so I believe it is still going on. I don't think that kind of activity is mentioned in the update that I have today. It's not mentioned, but -- well, yes. To some extent the fact that there is fighting and Serbian shelling that continues in other towns outside of Sarajevo, that this is causing many thousands of additional displaced persons. That's the kind of activity that we were reporting on before. I'll give you the overall update. The situation, unfortunately, continues to worsen. There is sporadic Serbian shelling, sniper fire and fighting that continues in Sarajevo. Electricity is still out in about one-third of the city. A substantial portion of Sarajevo is also without water, including the center of the city. The food situation in Sarajevo is becoming very critical. We're beginning to see reports of hunger-related deaths, particularly among the elderly, in those districts which have been cut off for several weeks. Medical supplies are gone. We understand that about 35,000 diabetics are without insulin, and that there's over 6,000 pregnant women and newborn babies who have no medicine. Serbian forces continue to control Sarajevo airport -- it remains closed -- and they've continued to cut off the neighborhood by the airport. Q These refugee figures that you've given out in the past -- 700,000 or up to a million according to the U.N. -- are they essentially the Muslim population? MR. BOUCHER: You can probably get better information from the U.N. My understanding is that members of all the groups have been displaced by the fighting and displaced by the -- well, displaced by the fighting there. Q What's the convoy situation? MR. BOUCHER: The convoy situation is that the -- as I think I said yesterday, the UNHCR has no plans for when the convoys that were planned for today might in fact leave. They do intend to continue their relief efforts in other parts of Bosnia. We're in close touch with them as regards their planning for the convoys. As you know, we've contributed food to them that's already arrived in Zagreb, but they're unable to bring it into Sarajevo. The European Community announced yesterday that it will create a road bridge of convoys with emergency aid to people in need. We understand that some trucks are already enroute from EC countries to staging areas in Zagreb and Belgrade, but, of course, that effort also faces the same difficulty that we have faced with the UNHCR, and that's getting in from Zagreb and Belgrade to Sarajevo. Q What's been happening with these mini-convoys? Are any of them making headway? MR. BOUCHER: I think I told you yesterday that two out of three during the course of the week had been able to deliver their supplies. I understand that remains the situation today. Q Well, two out of three isn't too bad an average, I guess, considering what's gone on before, but weren't they supposed to be, in essence, a trial run -- pave the way for the bigger convoys? What's the holdup with the big convoys? MR. BOUCHER: They've been able to deliver the supplies to other parts of Bosnia. The bigger convoys were supposed to stop along the way but go to Sarajevo, and so the problem's been making it as far as Sarajevo. Q Thank you. Q Do you have -- MR. BOUCHER: I guess there's one more, George. Q Do you have any comment on the military clash between South and North Korea? MR. BOUCHER: Yes. I'll give you the rundown on that, and then we'll take George's thank you. We understand that a violation of the DMZ occurred during daylight hours, about 11:30 a.m. in Seoul, on May 22. Apparently a small number of armed North Korean troops on patrol confronted South Korean troops in an area south of the DMZ. Three North Korean troops were shot and killed. One South Korean soldier was wounded. There were no U.S. troops involved. The incident is now being investigated by a joint U.N. command team, and we are awaiting the results. (The briefing concluded at 1:08 p.m.)