US Department of State Daily Briefing #93: Thursday, 6/11/92

Boucher Source: State Department Deputy Spokesman Richard Boucher Description: Washington, DC Date: Jun, 11 19926/11/92 Category: Briefings Region: E/C Europe, MidEast/North Africa, Southeast Asia Country: Russia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Serbia-Montenegro, Libya, Cambodia, Czechoslovakia (former) Subject: Regional/Civil Unrest, Military Affairs, United Nations, Arms Control, Terrorism 12:14 P.M. (ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED) MR. BOUCHER: I have two things to tell you in the beginning. The first is in the nature of "here today, gone today;" and the other is in the nature of Yugoslavia.

[Russia: Secretary of State's Conversation with Russian Foreign Minister/Meetings Planned for London/Arms Control]

So let me tell you first, the Secretary of State had another conversation at 11:45 a.m. today with Foreign Minister Kozyrev. They will meet tomorrow at 3:30 p.m. in London at the Russian Embassy. We have very few seats available for the press on this trip because of our need to take the arms control staff. At the conclusion of this briefing, we need to have the names of any press wishing to travel with the Secretary, and we need to have those names by 1:00 p.m. Q What time will he leave? MR. BOUCHER: We will be leaving tonight at 10:00 p.m. The return is not set at this time. It's a 10:00 p.m. departure from Andrews. It's my understanding that vans will leave here at 8:30. Those going to Andrews to check in will have to check in down there by 9:00. Q Is that the only thing -- the only stop? MR. BOUCHER: That's the only stop; yes. Q Does he expect to be at the summit? MR. BOUCHER: Yes. They both, I'm sure, expect to be back for the summit. Q Since we're on this subject, is the United States still insisting that all -- that the Soviets or the Russians eliminate all ballistic MIRV missiles? MR. BOUCHER: Carol, I'm not in a position to get into the substance of the discussions at this point. The Secretary discussed this issue when he finished meeting with Minister Kozyrev the other day, and I'm sure that any questions you have on these subjects can be asked by your colleagues on this trip, or by you on this trip, whoever goes. Q Why is he going to see Kozyrev? MR. BOUCHER: He's going to continue their discussions on arms control. Q Does he think they're going to have an agreement? MR. BOUCHER: And I assume other things in preparation for the summit. I can't speculate or predict what they might be able to do. Q How long will he be there? Q When was the decision made to go? MR. BOUCHER: Let's do one question at a time. Mike, you want to get the first one? Q Yes. How long will Secretary Baker be in London for these talks? MR. BOUCHER: The return is not set at this time. Q But they will be back for the summit, you say? MR. BOUCHER: We expect them to be back for the summit, yes. Barrie? Q Richard, do you have any reaction to the statement which came out of Moscow yesterday that President Yeltsin is suggesting that the United States was trying to gain a strategic advantage in these negotiations? Does that set off any alarm bells here? MR. BOUCHER: No, I don't have any particular reaction, Barrie. Q There are anonymous officials -- I wonder if you could verify that there's a feeling in high circles here that Yeltsin is posturing? A leading newspaper quotes Administration officials -- and I assume they must be high-level officials, because they're the only ones who will talk to reporters -- that Yeltsin is posturing? MR. BOUCHER: Barry, that has not been my experience, actually. And, no, I'm not going to try to confirm things that unnamed officials might have said. Q Well, let me try you on this: The U.S. proposal is that the Russians get rid of all their land-based multiple warhead missiles and the U.S. -- which comprises 60 percent of their force in that category. It's only about a quarter of the U.S. force. On the other hand, the U.S. is unwilling to part with two-thirds of its sea-based missiles. Yeltsin objects to that. He calls it "one-sided." Is that a fair characterization, or is he just posturing? MR. BOUCHER: Barry, Barrie just just asked me if I had anything to say about President Yeltsin's comments, and I said I'd decline to give you any reaction when he asked. I will stick to the same thing: I'm not going to try to describe the status of these discussions at this point nor do I want to try to characterize the other side's views. Q Would you say the U.S. has made a balanced proposal to the Russians? MR. BOUCHER: I'm not going to try to characterize our proposal any more than the President did in announcing it and that the Secretary and the President have subsequently. Q Can we have a filing break? MR. BOUCHER: Sure. Q When was the decision made to go? MR. BOUCHER: During his phone call. Q When was that phone call? MR. BOUCHER: 11:45 this morning. Q Is anyone left? MR. BOUCHER: Somebody has to stay and say "thank you." That's all I care about.

[Former Yugoslavia: Update]

Q You haven't even hit Yugoslavia yet, Richard. You promised. MR. BOUCHER: Okay. I'll be glad to do Yugoslavia for the rest of you. Today the phone lines are down between Belgrade and Sarajevo, so we have information only from Sarajevo radio reports. These reports indicate that Serbs hit the city with shells last night and again this morning. Sarajevo radio also reports that the entire city is without electricity and almost all of the city is without water. Food supplies continue to be critically short. Serbian forces continue to control Sarajevo airport, which remains closed. We continue to have reports of heavy fighting and Serbian shelling in many other Bosnian towns. Serb forces continue to expel non-Serbs from Serb-controlled areas, and we estimate that close to a million Bosnians are now displaced by the fighting. In some areas, counter-offensives are being mounted against Serbian forces. At this point, we don't have any information on the fighting around the Tuzla area. As you know, that's where the chemical plant is located. In terms of what's going on in Belgrade, we note continued reports of panic buying of food and fuel in Belgrade. The Serbian regime introduced gasoline rationing the day before yesterday. We understand that now virtually all gas stations in the city are refusing to pump gasoline until rationing coupons are available. We also note that Belgrade newspapers are speculating that the regime will soon issue coupons for basic foodstuffs. Yesterday, in Belgrade, several thousand students demonstrated in protest against the government's policies. And in Croatia, the cease-fire continues to be under stress from violations by both sides; but today Dubrovnik is quiet. Q Where does the thinking stand about the possible use of external force? MR. BOUCHER: In terms of the U.S. thinking on that, Margaret has told you over the last few days that what we're looking at is ways to support the U.N. effort. We have supported such efforts in the past. The U.N. effort, as you know, is predicated upon the achievements of a cease-fire in order to be able to deliver humanitarian supplies, and we're actively looking at ways that we can help them achieve that. In terms of our overall view of the use of military force, it stands exactly where the President said it was this morning when he commented in answer to a question like that. Q Richard, I understand that Senator Biden is going to propose a resolution today which would authorize the United States to use force in connection with a United Nations operation. It's evidently going to be structured much like the Gulf resolution. What is the Administration's reaction to that proposal? MR. BOUCHER: I'm not familiar with the Biden proposal. Q He's going to make it this afternoon. MR. BOUCHER: In that case, I'm even less familiar with it. Q You can trust me; that's what it's going to be. MR. BOUCHER: Well, Barrie, I always trust you, but I think we have seen -- we have seen comments, for example, by Senator Lugar. I think Senator Levin has offered some ideas, maybe a resolution. Certainly we respect these people. We respect their ideas. We share the concern that Congress has, that many in Congress have, about the events in Yugoslavia and particularly the tragedy that has been occurring in Bosnia. As I just said, we are actively looking for ways of supporting the United Nations effort, the United Nations humanitarian effort; and the United Nations is itself actively working on the ground to establish a cease-fire which would make it possible for us to accomplish these goals that we all share, of getting humanitarian relief to the people who need it. Q Richard, you are really sidestepping the question here. They are not talking about humanitarian relief. They are talking about a use of force. Senator Lugar drew a direct parallel to Operation Desert Storm and said that a line should be drawn here and that the Serbs should be given a deadline as Iraq was given; and if it doesn't comply with the cease-fire by that deadline, then he said that all necessary force should be used to stop the fighting. That's very different from what you are talking about, so we are asking you for a reaction to that. MR. BOUCHER: Mary, we have seen their statements. I have described to you what we are doing, the course that we have been pursuing, that we are actively pursuing, that the U.N. is actively pursuing and we are supporting. But if you want to come down to the basic attitude towards the use of military force, I'll stick with what the President said this morning. Q Do you have any additional words to offer us about this spate of articles in the Libyan press? MR. BOUCHER: No. As we said yesterday, we have seen the reports. We find the attacks on Gadhafi interesting, but we are not in a position to provide you with an analysis. Q Have you had a read-out from the British on the quality of the information that the Libyans gave them on the IRA? MR. BOUCHER: I don't know, Alan. I'd have to check, but I'd suggest that you might also address that question to the British. Q Could we go back to Yugoslavia for a minute? You didn't say what the status is of the convoy that was trying to get through. As I understood it last night, it was hung up outside of Sarajevo at a barracks and the escort convoy that went out to meet it was fired upon and ran into mines. Has it made it through? Is it at the airport? MR. BOUCHER: That was our information as of early this morning, but right before I came out here I saw a press ticker that said it had gotten through to Sarajevo. So I can't confirm that at this point, but before that the convoy reached the outskirts of Sarajevo. This is the convoy that has some thirty military observers. There was another U.N. convoy that attempted to come out from the city to escort the new arrivals to the U.N. Protective Forces Headquarters in Sarajevo. That second convoy came under sniper fire and was forced back when it ran into barricades and mines on the road. There was reportedly one U.N. soldier injured in the incident. As I said, I just saw a press report that indicates that the convoy with the observers may have gotten into -- from the outskirts of town, but I can't confirm that at this point. Q May I just ask, back to the question of the use of force resolution, would such a resolution be helpful or hurtful for the Administration as it weighs its options in dealing with this crisis? MR. BOUCHER: I don't have any way of characterizing it at this point. I think our views have been expressed by the President on the question of military force. I don't want to freelance and lean one way or the other. It is not my decision to make. Q Richard, can you tell us, are the reports accurate that there is active discussion of use of force and options for use of force going on within the Administration, and that there are different views about the possibility of using force? There are press reports today along those lines. MR. BOUCHER: There are press reports today, I know, that say that one thing or the other is underway. What we are doing is what I have said we are doing, and that is that we are actively looking at ways that we can support the United Nations effort. The United Nations effort is a humanitarian one. It's devoted to getting humanitarian assistance in. It's predicated on, first, the achievement of a cease-fire. As you know from the United Nations report and the resolutions, there are military and security elements to what the U.N. is considering, but I just am not prepared -- at this point I am not going to speculate on how things might turn out for them. Q But at this point, you would say that nobody in the Administration is actively considering a scenario where you would end up helping those convoys fight their way in to provide humanitarian relief? MR. BOUCHER: Mary, I would say that what we are looking at is ways of supporting the U.N. in its humanitarian efforts, and that those efforts are predicated in the U.N. resolution and on the reports of the Secretary General, which made clear that there needs to be a cease-fire before the U.N. could consider -- before the U.N. thinks it could accomplish its goal of getting humanitarian assistance in. Q It is still very much peace-keeping and not peace-making. MR. BOUCHER: Yes. Q Richard, one technical detail. Has Kozyrev already left Washington? MR. BOUCHER: Yes, he left the other day. Q Okay. MR. BOUCHER: He left Tuesday. Q So the conversation he had this morning was by telephone? MR. BOUCHER: Yes, that's right. Q I see. Sorry. MR. BOUCHER: The conversation they had yesterday was by telephone, too. Q Do you have something to say about the -- on the Cambodian present situation? The Khmer Rouge has refused to disarm its forces, insisting that Vietnam forces located in Cambodia should be disarmed first. So I wonder if you have any comment? MR. BOUCHER: We had a comment on that yesterday afternoon. I think we put up an answer on the bulletin board, a taken question, expressing our concern about the situation there and saying that the U.N. Permanent Five and others were working to see that all the requirements of the U.N. forces were fulfilled. Q And could you tell me, what kind of promise you got when Assistant Secretary Solomon went to Vietnam last March concerning the withdrawal, their forces withdrawal from Cambodian territory? MR. BOUCHER: I really don't know. I think he gave a press conference at the time. I just don't remember if that was addressed or not. Q Richard, do you have any observations to make on the continued military activity in southern Lebanon? MR. BOUCHER: Nothing new, no. Q And do you have any observations to make about the continued at least partial isolation of Gaza? MR. BOUCHER: No. Q Do you have anything on Czechoslovakia? MR. BOUCHER: I'm not aware of anything new that has happened there. I think we have discussed the situation before -- Margaret has, from the terms of policy -- that we urge people to resolve the differences peacefully. The two leaders of the parties met earlier this week. They were to meet again today, and I think again on Sunday. Q There was a statement this morning by the Ukrainian President saying that Yeltsin, when coming here to Washington, will discuss only, will talk only, on behalf of Russia when it comes to disarmament. Have you heard of that report, and have you any comment on that? MR. BOUCHER: I haven't seen that report, no. Q Thank you. (The briefing concluded at 12:28 p.m.)