US Department of State Daily Briefing #89: Friday, 6/5/92

Snyder Source: State Department Acting Deputy Spokesman Joseph Snyder Description: Washington, DC Date: Jun, 5 19926/5/92 Category: Briefings Region: E/C Europe, MidEast/North Africa, Caribbean, Europe, East Asia Country: Yugoslavia (former), Bosnia-Herzegovina, Serbia-Montenegro, USSR (former), Kuwait, Haiti, Iraq, Israel, China, Japan, Russia, United Kingdom Subject: Regional/Civil Unrest, Military Affairs, Development/Relief Aid, United Nations, Immigration, Nuclear Nonproliferation, OAS, Human Rights, State Department, Refugees 12:38 P. M. (ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED)

[Former Yugoslavia: Update]

MR. SNYDER: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. I'd like to begin, if I could, with a report on the situation in Bosnia and other parts of former Yugoslavia. Last night Serb forces pounded Sarajevo in a heavy shelling attack which caused fires and severe damage in several neighborhoods. Throughout the day today, Serb forces have continued to shell the city at the rate of about one round every five minutes. Street fighting continues in several neighborhoods. We note that U.N. Special Representative Thornberry told UPI that Sarajevo is closer to starvation. We understand that Sarajevo authorities are beginning to organize the rationing of remaining food supplies. The small supply of vegetables produced in private gardens is dwindling. In areas which remain blocked off by Serb forces, the food situation is desperate. The immediate problem remains distribution, which is dangerous and often uncertain or impossible. The ICRC has been holding meetings in Geneva this week with donors, international organizations and representatives of the Bosnian parties, which includes Serbs, to determine how best to resume aid deliveries to Bosnia. We understand that UNHCR and other international organizations are waiting for the ICRC to make progress before resuming their deliveries. For details I refer you to the UNHCR and the ICRC. Serbian forces continue to control Sarajevo Airport which remains closed. Elsewhere in Bosnia, sometimes heavy Serbian shelling and fighting continues in many other towns. Last night Serbian forces again heavily shelled Tuzla, north of Sarajevo. We are seriously concerned that shells have fallen less than one kilometer from a particularly dangerous chemical factory. We are also concerned by reports that Serbian leaders in Banja Luka plan to forcibly expel large numbers of non-Serb residents from that area in another so-called "ethnic cleansing" operation. We reiterate that such actions are totally unacceptable to the international community. U.N. Special Representative Thornberry remains in Sarajevo today to discuss with the parties in Bosnia the U.N. Security Council's demand that all parties create immediately the conditions for safe delivery of humanitarian relief, including the establishment of a security zone around Sarajevo and its airport. We understand Thornberry plans to return to Belgrade later this evening. I'll be happy to take your questions. Q Do you have any response to the U.N. report which suggests that Belgrade really doesn't have that much control over the local Serb militias in Bosnia? MR. SNYDER: Well, we certainly don't agree with the report's implication that Belgrade has little, if any, control over the Serbian irregular forces inside Bosnia. Richard [Boucher] outlined our reasons for this on Wednesday. I'd be happy to run through some of them again. The reality on the ground in Bosnia-Hercegovina is that this independent state is being ravaged by Serbian armed forces which were established and equipped by Belgrade and which continue to be materially and politically supported from Belgrade. All of the weaponry, including mortars and heavy artillery, which is being used to shell civilian populations, has come from the armories of the JNA, as has the ammunition for those weapons. Only the JNA can be held responsible for the aerial bombing that continues to take place inside Bosnian territory. We in the international community will continue to hold the Serbian regime in Belgrade accountable for the actions of Serbian armed forces in Bosnia. I should also add the report itself states that it's based on the limited information that the U.N. peacekeepers could gather from their fixed locations and upon statements by Serbian officials to the U.N. force. Q Joe, can you give us any background on our concern about this chemical factory -- what kind of factory it is and -- MR. SNYDER: No. I don't have any further information here. I'll be happy to see if I can get something for you. Q This information here that the Foreign Minister of Bosnia is asking for a CSCE and NATO peacekeeping force or appeal to the CSCE for a NATO peacekeeping force -- do we have any position on that? Is the State Department saying whether they would go for that or not? MR. SNYDER: At this moment our position on military force has not changed. As you know, of course, yesterday NATO took certain steps. CSCE is meeting right now to look into the possibility of its own actions on peacekeeping, but our position on the use of force in Bosnia has not changed. Q When you say the CSCE is looking into its own actions on peacekeeping, are you suggesting the CSCE is looking into its own actions on peacekeeping in former Yugoslavia, or is it looking into it in the same way that NATO looked into it earlier this week? MR. SNYDER: My understanding is that it's in a more general sense. Yes. Q Does the U.S. think that CSCE or NAC-C or NATO ought to look at it in a more specific sense and begin a discussion, a concrete discussion, of how to engage in peacekeeping in former Yugoslavia? MR. SNYDER: Well, certainly our position -- our own position on the use of force hasn't changed there. Let me get you something specifically on that.

[Kuwait: Speaker of National Council's Comments re: US Role in Gulf War]

Q Another subject? Did you see the report in The Washington Post from Cairo this morning about recounting an interview with a senior Kuwaiti parliamentarian -- Chairman of the Parliamentary Council I think was his title -- sort of reviewing matters with regard to the Gulf war last year against Iraq? He seemed to suggest that the United States played a rather small role in restoring Kuwait to its territory, and he seemed to be complaining about the U.S. Ambassador in Kuwait meddling in Kuwaiti politics. Do you have any comment on his remarks? MR. SNYDER: Yes, I do. As soon as we learned of these remarks, we instructed our Ambassador, Skip Gnehm, to raise the matter at the highest level of the Kuwaiti Government. We were told categorically that the Speaker of the National Council's views -- and I quote -- "do not represent those of the Government of Kuwait." Q Is the U.S. going to make any effort to -- will the U.S. Ambassador perhaps try to talk with the individual involved and discover whether it represents the views of the Council or others, other than the Government of Kuwait -- maybe the people of Kuwait? MR. SNYDER: I think we are satisfied with the answer we got from the Government of Kuwait. I think it's also very clear the promotion of democracy is a fundamental tenet of U.S. foreign policy throughout the world. Assistant Secretary Djerejian made this very point in a speech early this week at Meridian House, and we are pleased to say that Ambassador Gnehm enjoys the same sort of access to all parts of Kuwaiti society that Kuwait's Ambassador enjoys in the U.S. As for the remarks on the contribution of the United States to the war, I think our position is quite clear, and I think the world understands what our position was and our contribution to that effort was. Q What was -- I mean people could look back and see pictures of Kuwaitis holding up signs of gratitude, I recall, at the time, for example. I mean, has something changed in the last year in the assessment of the GCC's participation or Saudi Arabia's participation vis-a-vis the U.S. participation in Kuwait's restoration of its territory? MR. SNYDER: Not that I'm aware of. As I said, I think the Government of Kuwait's position is quite clear. Q And do you have anything to say about Gnehm's role in promoting democracy within Kuwait? You sort of touched on it a minute ago, I think, but will he continue to, as he has in the past, actively recommend and speak about the benefits of democracy as they might be applied in Kuwaiti society? MR. SNYDER: Yes, he will. We think the promotion of democracy is a fundamental tenet of our foreign policy anywhere in the world, and he will continue to do that. Q If you think that the position of the Kuwaiti Government is quite clear, are you expecting some sort of formal statement from the government per se to correct the record on this official's comments? MR. SNYDER: I don't know that that's necessary. They've made it clear to us that these do not represent the views of the Government of Kuwait. Q And that -- MR. SNYDER: I'm not expecting anything further. Q So that basically the public record will stand with this official -- this Kuwaiti official making these comments about the U.S. role, and that's where the public record will stand. The U.S. will say that it's satisfied with the private assurances it got, but there's no need -- in your view there's no need to have -- as distinct from not expecting one, you don't think there's any need for one. MR. SNYDER: I think that's really a question for the Government of Kuwait itself. We've explained our position on the record on this. Q Yes. But is there no desire on the part of this Government to see a statement from the Government of Kuwait of gratitude and recognition for the U.S. role? MR. SNYDER: I think that the public statement of the Government of Kuwait on gratitude and recognition of the U.S. role is quite clear, and it's longstanding. Q Joe, also on the Middle East, have you seen this statement by Congressman Dingell's Committee and by him and his staff that Israel is stonewalling in the investigation of the alleged fraud in the sale of U.S. aircraft engines to Israel? MR. SNYDER: No. I haven't seen it. Q According to him, the State Department is involved in this. Can you find out in fact if the State Department is dealing with the Israelis on this issue? MR. SNYDER: I'll see if we have something to say. Q Also on the Middle East, there are some reports in the Israeli press that Vienna officials confiscated uranium en route to an Arab country. Do you have any information on that? MR. SNYDER: No, I don't. Sorry. Q Could you check into it? MR. SNYDER: Yes. Q Thank you. MR. SNYDER: We'll see if we have something.

[Haiti: Update]

Q A new area, if it's O.K. On Haiti: Do you have any update on that, particularly on the processing of boat people who have been returned who may have applied for asylum to the United States? Has anybody had a bona fide claim that's been accepted? MR. SNYDER: Sure. Let me give you that specifically. According to the latest Embassy reports, phone calls requesting information have been running at over 200 a day. Applications have been received from 721 individuals to date. Embassy Consular officials have interviewed 453 of these, and they have referred 149 to INS for final decision. INS has approved 45 of these. Nine of them have already arrived in the United States. Eighty-seven have been denied refugee status. Q So -- I'm sorry, 87 denied? MR. SNYDER: Denied. Q So the others are still pending, as it were? MR. SNYDER: Well, the 87 is 149 minus 45. Q O.K. Q Just to -- MR. SNYDER: I think. Actually I didn't do that right. No, it's not. It's approximate. Q They must be pending, right? MR. SNYDER: Oh, 132. I'm sorry. The others haven't -- they're still under adjudication, right. Q The bottom line on that -- I'm sorry, just one more -- then is that these numbers apply only to the 721 who applied in connection with this new procedure, right? MR. SNYDER: Right. Q Do you happen to have the figure for the number of Haitians who have arrived in the U.S. whose applications have been approved -- I guess comparable numbers to the 45 and the nine? MR. SNYDER: No. You should check with INS on that. We have these numbers, because they take place at the Embassy. The others happen in the United States, and we just don't have those figures. Q So it wouldn't be right -- it wouldn't be accurate to say that of the however many thousands who have claimed -- I've forgotten what the figure is -- 10,000 or 11,000, or whatever it is -- MR. SNYDER: 10,723. Q Yes. It wouldn't be accurate to say that of those 10,700, nine have arrived -- have been granted asylum in the United States? MR. SNYDER: I really have no idea what the INS has done with the people they have interviewed in the United States. Q Do you have any fresh numbers on boat people? MR. SNYDER: Sure. There were no Haitians picked up yesterday. Since the Executive Order came into effect, 2,877 have been picked up; 2,875 of these have been returned directly to Haiti. There were 248 returned on Wednesday and one returned yesterday. I understand that's someone who was transferred to Guantanamo -- a boat bound from Guantanamo to Haiti. Four hundred ninety-three screened-out Haitians were repatriated to Haiti from Guanatanamo yesterday, bringing the total repatriated from Guantanamo to 17,497. Q Seventeen thousand? MR. SNYDER: -- 497. Q I don't think so. MR. SNYDER: Total number there -- the same number is in two different places. The total number in Guantanamo is 8,590. Q Can you give a comment or reaction for Mr. Aristide insistence that the United States should intervene with direct forces like a naval blockade rather than waiting for a domestic proceeding? MR. SNYDER: We share President Aristide's concern that the embargo has not stopped all non-humanitarian trade with Haiti. We have acted to tighten the embargo. On May 17, the OAS Foreign Ministers called on member states to bar from their ports any ships that violate the embargo. The OAS will also do more to collect information on violations and to press governments to enforce the embargo. The OAS is preparing, we understand, to convene a meeting of officials from throughout the hemisphere involved in enforcing the embargo to discuss more effective enforcement. On May 28, President Bush announced that U.S. ports will be closed to ships that trade with Haiti in violation of the embargo. We are urging all OAS members to take similar measures. If fully implemented by all OAS members, this would prevent ships that violate the embargo from calling not just in U.S. ports but virtually anywhere in the hemisphere. In addition, we are working with the Customs Service to monitor more closely shipments from the United States to ensure that exports, in violation of the embargo, do not occur. I would refer you to the Treasury Department for details on enforcement procedures and actions, to date. Q Have we barred any ships over the last week from our ports? MR. SNYDER: I am not aware that we have. Q Do you know when this meeting is going to be convened? MR. SNYDER: I don't know. You might check with the OAS. Q Are you encouraged that there seems to have been a significant drop in the number of Haitian refugees over the last few days? MR. SNYDER: Every time we're asked that question, cyclically -- it's difficult to answer. We see cycles going up and down, one way or the other. We've seen now two days with low numbers; I think with no numbers. It wasn't long ago that the numbers were relatively high. I think it's still too early to draw conclusions. Q Joe, the day before yesterday we were told that we would receive a list of the countries that we were discussing, taking refugees. We still haven't received that list. MR. SNYDER: You were told we would look into it, and -- Q No, we were told we would receive a list, right from that podium. MR. SNYDER: Well, unfortunately, we're not able to make that list available. Q And why is that? MR. SNYDER: Because we're engaged in diplomatic negotiations and we would prefer -- Q The day before yesterday you said it was no problem to make that list available -- not you, but this podium. MR. SNYDER: Well, unfortunately, it is a problem to make the list available. Q Because it's too sensitive? MR. SNYDER: Because we are engaged in negotiations with these countries and we do not have the results of the negotiations, and we would prefer to keep that process quiet. Q Has anyone offered to assist in this connection? MR. SNYDER: Three countries have, of course, at an earlier stage. I don't have anything further right now that I'm prepared to talk about. Q On the numbers referred to the INS -- the 149 referred to the INS -- 45 -- were the 45 given plausible -- that step -- or were they, was it farther than that -- I just missed that? Q He said INS approved -- Q Approved. Was that for plausible claim, or was that just shipping them up to Miami to be -- MR. SNYDER: No. Roughly analogous. It's rough, because the legal procedures relating to asylum and refugees are different. But those who have been approved by the Embassy and referred to INS -- the 149 -- there's a rough analogy to those who are found to have a plausible claim; and the ones who have been approved by INS have formal, official status in the United States as refugees. Q That was 45; and 9 have already come? MR. SNYDER: Forty-five have been approved; nine have been moved.

[China: US Protests re: Mistratment of Journalists/US Ambassador Summoned to US by Secretary]

Q Joe, on another subject. The Secretary was seeing, I think, the Chinese Ambassador today. Is he protesting the harassment of the Western newsmen in Tiananmen the other day? MR. SNYDER: We take this -- let me preface this by saying -- we take this whole matter of the journalists in Tiananmen Square in the last few days very seriously. Secretary Baker called in Chinese Ambassador Zhu Qizhen yesterday to protest strongly the police treatment of journalists in Beijing, including the beating of ABC Bureau Chief Todd Carrell the previous day. The Secretary also expressed his concern about the mistreatment of other foreign journalists by the Chinese security services. Earlier today, in Beijing, Ambassador Stapleton Roy met with Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Liu Huaqiu to deliver a strong protest about the incident in Tiananmen Square. On a number of occasions on June 3, our Embassy expressed our strong concerns at both the Foreign Ministry and Public Security Bureau about the excessive force employed by the security forces and to deplore such actions. Q Have we received any kind of response? MR. SNYDER: The Chinese made a public statement yesterday, and they have said essentially the same thing to us privately in Beijing. Q Which is? MR. SNYDER: What was in their public statement, I'll refer you to them for what they've said. I'm not going to rehearse it for you. Q Is there anything the U.S. thinks it ought to do as a result of feeling so strongly about it that it would protest vigorously here and issue a strong protest in Beijing? MR. SNYDER: We are continuing -- and this is a standard matter in our dialogue with the Chinese -- to deal with human rights questions, and the question of freedom of the press is something that we will continue to pursue vigorously. At the moment, I don't have anything further on this particular incident. Q Are there any U.S. programs, vis-a-vis China, under review as a result of this incident -- for example, maybe journalism exchange programs or things of that sort? I wouldn't want to limit it to that particular thing, but is that sort of thing under review as a result of this incident? MR. SNYDER: I'm not aware that any of the programs are under review. Q Given the case of the Washington Post reporter a couple of weeks ago, do you see any pattern here? MR. SNYDER: China's attitude towards freedom of the press, I think, has been reasonably consistent over a long period of time. I don't know whether I necessarily see a new recent pattern.

[Japan: Diet Discussions on Military Participation in Peacekeeping Activities]

Q Do you have any comment for the Japanese PKO [peacekeeping] role passage -- that was passed by the Special Committee [inaudible] of the House yesterday? MR. SNYDER: The U.S. Government welcomes expanded Japanese participation in international activities that promote peace and other humanitarian causes, including peacekeeping activities. We think it's up to the Japanese Government and people to decide how best to contribute in this area, and it really would not be appropriate to comment on the on-going legislative process in Japan's Diet. Q And how do you understand the sensitivity that Asian neighbors are having for the possible expansion of the Japanese military overseas operation? MR. SNYDER: I think that other Asian countries have expressed their own concerns on the subject of Japanese military force. I don't really have any particular comment. Q Did the attitude of your support for the bill has been -- from the first, you supported that kind of movement or this is your first comment for that law? MR. SNYDER: I believe -- I'm not absolutely sure -- but I believe we have, in the past, expressed support for the general principle of expanded Japanese participation in international activities. I should add, we're not commenting on any particular bill. We have a position, in principle, that I expressed. Q Joe, on a different topic. Yesterday, Israel protested very strongly that the arms sale to Saudi Arabia -- specifically, in broader terms, the new policy that Ambassador Djerejian discussed in his speech earlier this week of arming -- of big arm sales to all of the GCC and the sort of the defense arrangements we're negotiating now -- do you have any comment on that? MR. SNYDER: No, I don't. Q Is the State Department going to be making public, issuing the documents that it has declassified with regard to U.S. policy on Iraq prior to the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait? MR. SNYDER: Those documents are unclassified now. Let me check with Janet Mullins' office to see if they've been delivered to the Hill. I think we can probably get them for you. Q You'd be able to make them available here if they've been delivered to the Hill? MR. SNYDER: We'll try to do that. Q We can assure you they've been delivered to the Hill. Will they all be made available -- all those that have been delivered to the Hill? MR. SNYDER: I didn't ask, specifically. I presume so, but I don't know. I haven't seen what has been delivered to the Hill. Q -- that question in the bag for that thing? A Sure. Q Another subject. Has the State Department recommended that U.S. satellites be allowed to be launched on Russian rocket launchers? MR. SNYDER: I can't answer that directly. I can say that a Russian firm has made a proposal in the International Maritime Satellite Organization to launch one of its future satellites, and we are studying that proposal. Q You're studying it? MR. SNYDER: We're studying it. Q You haven't come to any conclusion? MR. SNYDER: We have not. We are studying it. We have not made any decisions. Q Then reports to the contrary are wrong? MR. SNYDER: We are studying the proposal. We haven't made any decisions, as far as I know. Q Are you expecting to have something to announce when President Yeltsin comes here on the 16th? MR. SNYDER: I don't know. Q Do you have anything to add about what the Secretary and Kozyrev will talk about on Monday? MR. SNYDER: No. Q As far as the meeting with John Major this weekend at Camp David, the first question is, will the Secretary be participating in those meetings? And the second question is, do you expect Yugoslavia to be on the agenda? MR. SNYDER: I'm not going to talk about the agenda. It's basically a White House meeting. As far as the Secretary participating, I don't know the answer to that but let me check. Q Where is the Secretary? MR. SNYDER: The Secretary is out of town on a private trip. He has gone to Princeton for his class reunion. Q Did he fly commercially? MR. SNYDER: No. Q Did he take the Metroliner? (Laughter) Q He did not fly commercially? MR. SNYDER: I'm sorry. He went commercially. He did not take a military airplane. The question came at me in a way I wasn't expecting. I'm sorry. Q Did he take U.S. Government transportation? MR. SNYDER: No. He moved commercially. Q Has the Secretary now set plans to testify about START? Is that arranged? MR. SNYDER: There was a report that he is to be testifying, I think, on June 23. Yes. Q That's accurate? MR. SNYDER: That is accurate; yes. Q Joe, is there any movement in our policy on a nuclear test ban since the action by the House yesterday? MR. SNYDER: No. The position on that bill is quite clear. The Department of Defense has really been taking the lead on it, so I refer you to them. Q Thank you. MR. SNYDER: Thank you. (Briefing concluded at 1:05 p.m.)