June, 1992

US Department of State Daily Briefing #86: Monday, 6/1/92

Tutwiler Source: State Department Spokesman Margaret Tutwiler Description: Washington, DC Date: Jun, 1 19926/1/92 Category: Briefings Region: E/C Europe, MidEast/North Africa, Caribbean Country: Bosnia-Herzegovina, Serbia-Montenegro, Yugoslavia (former), USSR (former), Russia, Haiti Subject: Regional/Civil Unrest, Military Affairs, Development/Relief Aid, United Nations, Cultural Exchange, Refugees, State Department, Narcotics, Trade/Economics, Science/Technology 12:14 P.M. (ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED) MS. TUTWILER: Can I start with a brief update -- of course, we'll have the fill-in for you in the Press Office should you be interested -- on our updates that we do every Monday concerning assistance to the former Soviet Union.

[Former Soviet Union: Operation Provide Hope Assistance]

In the area of humanitarian assistance, on May 21, Operation Provide Hope II delivered 38 rail cars of surplus, Department of Defense food supplies to the formerly closed Russian city of Severodvinsk. The shipment was valued at $2.6 million. A U.S. military team monitored the delivery of the food to local kindergartens, schools, and hospitals. In the area of economic relations: Bell Laboratories has contracted with the Physics Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences for the services of 100 scientists and technicians. The scientists will work on fiber-optics development. Over the past week, USIA awarded a grant to bring up to 100 students from the New Independent States to the United States for 6-month internships in a variety of fields. The first group is expected to arrive in Washington in mid-August.

[Former Yugoslavia: Update]

I'd like to do, before I take your questions, an overall update on the situation in Yugoslavia, if that's okay. With the passage of United Nations Security Council Resolution 757 last weekend, the international community has 0made clear that it is united in opposition to Serbian aggression. It has also made clear that there will be an increasingly severe cost for Serbia if that aggression continues. It is noteworthy that voices are emerging in Serbia to question the dead-end policies of the Serbian leadership. The Serbian orthodox church has been critical of the government, and there have been anti-government demonstrations in Belgrade. We hope the Serbian leadership will come to its senses and stop its aggression. Continuing down that path will lead only to isolation and economic disaster for Serbia. On our overall update for Bosnia: Fighting continues in Sarajevo, though at reduced levels. Serb forces are sporadically shelling the city; street-to-street fighting continues. A cease-fire mediated by U.N. officials in Sarajevo is scheduled to go into effect at noon, Washington time today. Our reports indicate that the food situation remains very grave. The situation is particularly difficult because distribution of available food is often uncertain or impossible. On Friday, May 22, UNHCR suspended all convoys to Bosnia because of Serbian refusal to allow deliveries through Serb-controlled areas. Serbian forces continue to control Sarajevo's airport, which remains closed. We have only scant information about the rest of Bosnia because most telephone lines are down. We understand that sometimes severe fighting continues in many other towns, causing many thousands of additional displaced persons. We understand that in Banja Luka, in northwest Bosnia and one of the most populous Bosnian districts, Serb forces continue to expel non-Serbs in a declared "ethnic purification" campaign. We are concerned about continuing reports of Serb massacres of Bosnian Muslims, but we cannot independently confirm these reports through neutral international observers. We strongly condemn Serb use of terror tactics to force non-Serbs out of Serb controlled areas. The United States will refuse to recognize such changes in population and control of territory through the use of force and intimidation. In Croatia, we understand that the cease-fire in Dubrovnik held overnight. We have, however, reports of continued Serbian shelling of Dubrovnik this morning by Serbian irregulars. On refugees: Our numbers have not changed since the numbers we gave you on Friday. Overall, we have an estimate from the International Red Cross and the United Nations of about 1.3 million displaced persons, but we'd like you to bear in mind that these are only estimates and that no one really knows how many displaced persons there are. I think most of you are aware that elections were held on May 31, which was yesterday. Serbian and Montenegro held elections which was May 31 for local officials and for representatives to the new assembly of the so-called "Federal Republic of Yugoslavia." The United States agrees with the assessment of the CSCE's Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights -- and with Serb and Montenegrin opposition parties -- that these elections were organized in a non-democratic fashion. The government allowed only a very short period to organize these elections; opposition parties do not have equal access to the media; and government forces openly intimidate and threaten vocal members of the opposition. The United States view is that these elections were neither free nor fair nor legitimate. That's my update on Yugoslavia. Q Margaret, that's about the kind of report you would have given us before the sanctions went into effect. So are the sanctions having any positive impact that you can tell? MS. TUTWILER: Barry, I don't know that anyone in the world could judge that for you. These sanctions went into effect late Friday night. That's a little over 48 hours ago. I think you've seen the press reports that I've seen, that our Embassy has confirmed that approximately 50,000 people -- it's my understanding -- were demonstrating in downtown Belgrade yesterday in opposition, it's my understanding, of the policies being pursued by this leadership. I don't know why those people are out in the streets. Go interview them. Many of your colleagues are. But many people that I saw over the weekend expressed very much concern -- normal citizens -- about what this was going to do to their livelihood. Q Margaret, I wasn't really asking about the merits of whether the Serbs are nice or not nice. I just wondered, because the point of the sanctions was to change behavior, to cause the Serbs to do something. Have they responded in any way that you can tell, to the sanctions? You're giving us -- maybe the people on the streets find that the sanctions echo their complaints, but -- MS. TUTWILER: Barry, I don't -- Q -- has anything happened? Have they had any positive effect? MS. TUTWILER: I don't think that we nor the United Nations were naive enough to think, after the many, many months of EC-mediated talks of the Special Envoy of the Secretary General -- former Secretary of State Cyrus Vance -- of the untold efforts that have been made by any number of individuals in other countries that anyone expected, in 48 hours, a reversal of a pattern of behavior that the world is condemning. Q Margaret, has the United States frozen the assets yet? MS. TUTWILER: Yes. The White House put out a statement. It's about a 2-page statement, I believe, on Saturday, concerning the United States figure. The Treasury Department is right now pulling that together for public release. They said it may take them, for the actual number, about another week. But you're safe to report that it is somewhere in the neighborhood of $200 million in the United States. Q To follow that quickly, please. No, very quickly, because with that freezing of $220 million, there's a report that over a billion has been shifted. Do you know if that's a credible report? MS. TUTWILER: We don't know if that's a credible report or not. But I would remind you, the reports that I have seen say that it's $1.5 billion and that it was shifted to Cyprus; and I would remind you that everyone that I'm aware of is abiding by the United Nations resolutions. So whether it is in Cyprus or it's in any other country in the world, it's frozen. Q Margaret, in the statement, the President said, in notifying Congress that he was freezing the assets, that Serbia's actions represented a risk to United States national security interests. I'm wondering how that squares with your hesitancy two weeks ago to say that? Has something changed? Has Serbia's behavior escalated to the point where it is now a risk, where it might not have been two weeks ago? MS. TUTWILER: I'll be honest with you, I have not this morning read the 2-page statement from the White House. I'm not doubting that it says that. So, obviously, I will follow the White House's lead, if that is indeed what is in the Presidential statement of Saturday. Q Margaret, does the United States support the right of return of these Bosnian refugees? MS. TUTWILER: I don't know, Alan, because I know that that will immediately lead me into probably some other area that you'd like to discuss. It has never come up. I know that there are 1.3 million displaced persons, and I will be more than happy to ask. But I know that whether you support their -- to use your phraseology, not mine -- right of return, we certainly want whatever it is that can possibly be done to stop any more individuals being displaced through shelling and bombing, and for these humanitarian convoys to be able to get through to these people and the airports opened. Q Margaret, that's a strangely kind of evasive answer, since the 1.3 million people -- MS. TUTWILER: Well, it's an interesting question that you ask. Q Without connection to any other conflict anywhere in the world, people have been chased from their homes in the last three months or so. Should they be able to go home? There's been "ethnic cleansing" and whole communities have been driven out of towns, out of neighborhoods. Should that ethnic cleansing stand, or should these people be allowed to go back? MS. TUTWILER: Obviously, Alan, we have been horrified by the terms that have been used: "ethnic cleansing." I have seen other terms that have been used which are horrifying to us and to the world. Whether people should go home or not, I can't stand here and judge for you. I don't know where all of these people are right now. I don't know what individual decisions would be made by individuals whose homes -- many of whom have no home to return to; it's been blown to smithereens. So it's a hypothetical question for me and something that once there is safety in these cities, in this area, for individuals themselves to determine. I can't answer for you on a total hypothetical what people are going to determine based on when they learn what is the individual situation concerning their former home. Q The implication of your answer is that the United States supports splitting Bosnia into ethnic cantons -- one for the Serb community, on for the Crotian community, one for the Muslim community. MS. TUTWILER: I don't know how you could possibly get that deduction from anything I've said. Q Well, I tell you one deduction that could be drawn from your statement -- because it sounds like echoes of another conflict, of your wrestling, and unsuccessfully, with Saddam Husayn. Your reference to the people in the streets and the complaints about the elections, is the State Department or is the Administration hoping that somehow the people will take matters into their own hands and get rid of Milosevic? Is that your kind of veiled message here? MS. TUTWILER: Our message here is no different than in any other country. It obviously is for the people of any nation to determine what their leadership is. What we are in a position today and have been consistently is calling on the Serbian leadership, who in most people's view have it within their means or can certainly use their influence to get the Sarajevo Airport opened for humanitarian relief flights and to let Red Cross convoys and other international humanitarian relief organizations -- let humanitarian relief convoys on the roads get through. Q I mean, you lost -- obviously, early on you lost hope that Saddam Husayn could be rehabilitated. But you think this government is a government that the U.S. could still work with? It can turn around and do the right thing, is that what you're saying? MS. TUTWILER: I'm not aware that the United States Government has said that they cannot work with the Serbian Government. As you know, we still have a presence there. We still -- even though it's not Yugoslavia as we all know it, etc., we have not, as you know, broken diplomatic relations. So again, the United States and other nations are calling on the leadership in Belgrade to use whatever influence that the majority of people in the world believe they have to alleviate this humanitarian situation.

[Department: Reports Secretary Baker/Under Secretary Zoellick to Resign]

Q Another subject? Margaret, is Secretary Baker planning to step down as Secretary of State and run the Bush campaign? MS. TUTWILER: No. Q Has he been asked by the President to do this? MS. TUTWILER: No, he has not. And I'm aware, as I'm sure a number of you are, that there were a number of purely speculative stories over this past weekend. The President and the Secretary of State have never had a conversation about the possibility of the Secretary of State resigning. The President himself this weekend in California answered this question to a number of your colleagues. I can give you and supply the White House transcript. Marlin [Fitzwater] responded after the President spoke, further elaborating on this subject, and beyond the facts that I've stated and the President has stated and Marlin has elaborated on it, there's absolutely nothing here to talk about. Q Can I just follow up? Is Mr. Zoellick planning to leave the State Department to in some capacity run either the White House staff or the campaign? MS. TUTWILER: That has been either intertwined [with] or one of the stand-alone speculative stories that I've seen, and just as I have used all the discipline that I have for three and a half years not to engage on foreign policy speculative stories that appear from time to time in the press, I'm not going to start today on engaging in political speculative, hypothetical stories that from time to time that -- as well meaning as I'm sure they all are -- appear in the press. Q So you're denying the Baker story, and you're not dealing with the Zoellick story. MS. TUTWILER: I will be more than glad to deny the Zoellick story for you. Q No. I just wondered. But let me ask you to fill out the bay because -- Q (Multiple questions) Q -- there's more interest in -- Q Why don't you do that? MS. TUTWILER: I will be happy to deny for you -- what is your question? "Is Under Secretary of State Robert Zoellick resigning to go to the campaign?" The answer is no. Q And is there any consideration that he ought to? MS. TUTWILER: There are, as you're aware, any number of unnamed officials, especially throughout this weekend, who have suggested a number of things, one of which is that the Under Secretary should resign, another was the Secretary of State himself should maybe entertain the thought of resigning. There are other individuals that have also been mentioned. I would state again -- by unnamed officials. So what you're really asking me -- and that's why I answered it -- is all purely speculative. There is -- when I was asked, I've now answered it for Barry -- "Is Under Secretary of State Robert Zoellick resigning?" The answer is no. Why am I saying no? The Under Secretary of State -- it has never come up. He has not been asked. It is in the exact same category as the purely speculative, hypothetical, you know, stories about other individuals who work at the State Department, including the Secretary of State. It's all in the same category. There is nothing factual to any of these stories. As entertaining, as much fun as they are to read, there's just nothing to them. Q Margaret, can you turn the Baker coin over. You've certainly handled the question of whether he's resigning. But can you talk about his staying on? I mean -- [Laughter] Q I mean, in this respect. Presumably, he's staying because he has reasons to stay. I mean, he would like to help Bush, I'm sure, but he must have things on his plate here. What are the things that are keeping him at State? What are the main unfinished business of foreign policy that he hopes, you know, within the year or before January 20, to make some headway on? What are his driving goals here at State right now? The peace talks, we don't hear anything about right now. Yugoslavia's a mess. But could you tell us what it is that he hopes to get done in the next eight, ten months that keeps him upstairs? MS. TUTWILER: No. Because I have never from the first day here, nor has he, going to set out for you a -- Q Priorities. MS. TUTWILER: Correct. Or must-do events and then for whatever reason things change on the ground in X country and you don't get there. So that's why I'm refraining from answering that type of question. I will answer broadly, generally, you know, I think, as well as anybody in this room because you cover us so thoroughly and you travel with us -- the Secretary of State has not changed one iota the number of hours he works here, the number of different policy matters that he is involved in personally. There are a number of important issues before him as Secretary of State, and he will continue to work full time at this job on what I believe are -- and I think you would agree -- important matters. Q I wanted to give you a chance to answer that. MS. TUTWILER: Thank you very much. I appreciate that. Q Margaret, can you give us the state of play on the consultations with the Caribbean nations regarding expanded use of military forces in the drug war? MS. TUTWILER: Yes. We have under review a variety of proposals to enhance counter drug cooperation in the Caribbean and Central America, and until there are any types of final decisions, I will not be able to discuss the details of these plans or the reports of these plans. Q Have you talked to those countries? MS. TUTWILER: That's another one that they would rather not discuss at this time. I would point out that in the countries that I saw mentioned this morning, we do have ongoing programs, but they just do not at this time, since it's under review, want to do any details. Q Also on the Caribbean, do you have any response to a GAO report on the violations of the embargo against Haiti? MS. TUTWILER: I haven't heard about that. I'm sorry. I'll look into it. I hadn't heard about it. Q Going back to the helicopters, Margaret -- MS. TUTWILER: To what? Q To the helicopter question. Do you confirm that it is Guatemala, the Dominican Republic and Jamaica that we're talking about? MS. TUTWILER: Those are the countries that were mentioned in this morning's article. I can cite for you, or I can give you afterwards, we have ongoing programs in those three countries. Q And is there a decision already made to send -- MS. TUTWILER: Not to my knowledge. My understanding is that this is still in the interagency process within our government. There are no decisions. Q Margaret, in the Philippines, General Ramos said he's won the election. A number of authorities there have said they agree with him. What is the U.S. position on this? MS. TUTWILER: Our position is the same it's been throughout, which is that the Philippine Congress is in the process of tabulating the final results of the Presidential election. We understand that it may take another week or two before a winner is declared, and we will have no comment on the results of the election until that is officially done. Q Margaret, do you know if any number of Yugoslav refugees have sought admission into this country, and whether those displaced in Bosnia would qualify as political refugees? MS. TUTWILER: I don't know. I haven't heard, Mark -- and I think that I've done a fairly good job of staying up on the Yugoslav situation -- I have not heard that raised in any meeting I've been in or in any briefing that I've had, but I'll be happy to ask. Q Margaret, to quote your words of a few moments ago, "The Secretary of State has not changed one iota the number of hours he has worked, so on and so forth. He will continue to work full-time as Secretary of State." MS. TUTWILER: Right. Q Wouldn't that sentence end with the following caveat, "until the President calls him and says, 'Come over,'" and then, of course, he's gone, right? MS. TUTWILER: Well, that's a hypothetical. And, as I said, I am not going to -- whether it is in the political arena or any other arena, to be honest with you -- handle this any differently than I do hypothetical, speculative questions that you ask me concerning foreign policy. I just won't deal with it. Q So your statement doesn't necessarily connote permanence. It just is a status report, a snapshot of today. MS. TUTWILER: I understand that it would really be probably fun for you if I let go of my discipline. But I can assure you it would not be fun for me -- [laughter] -- and I am going to look after myself in this case, and I am not going to take the bait. Q Could you just note for the record -- MS. TUTWILER: I was waiting for you to come in. I knew you couldn't resist. [Laughter] Q Could you just note for the record that at some point in the future the Secretary of State will step down from this job? MS. TUTWILER: That is totally hypothetical and totally speculative. [Laughter] Q Is he going to stay forever? Q Would he work for Perot? Q (Multiple questions) Q Would Secretary Baker work for Perot if called? MS. TUTWILER: No. I answered Johanna's question. Q Would not work for Perot? Huh. Q The balcony has a question. Q Just on this same vein. What if the Secretary did not resign? You have answered the question that he is not planning to resign. But what if he were just to go on detail over to do some other responsibilities while keeping his present job and then returning to it later? MS. TUTWILER: That's really just another version, in my interpretation, of your ABC colleague John McWethy's question, and I honestly and truly am not going to engage in pure hypotheticals and speculate with you. Q You're not even willing to admit that at some point or another he has to leave this job? [Laughter] Q Like at the end of the term. MS. TUTWILER: If a Democrat is elected, it would be my assumption that he would not ask the current Secretary of State to continue in his job; that he would appoint a Democrat. Does that help you? Q Thanks. [Laughter] Q Wouldn't he work for Democrats? Q Bernie Aronson's here. MS. TUTWILER: I think in his early life, yes. Q I don't know if there are any more questions. I want to go out and file this while it's still solid. [Laughter] MS. TUTWILER: Burn up the wires with it, right? Q Margaret, one last question: Do you have anything on Yasser Arafat's condition? MS. TUTWILER: No. Q Thank you. (The briefing concluded at 12:37 p.m.)