US Department of State Daily Briefing #103: Monday, 7/13/92

Tutwiler Source: State Department Spokesman Margaret Tutwiler Description: Washington, DC Date: Jul, 13 19927/13/92 Category: Briefings Region: E/C Europe, MidEast/North Africa, Subsaharan Africa Country: Yugoslavia (former), Bosnia-Herzegovina, Serbia-Montenegro, USSR (former), Iraq, Israel, Namibia, Somalia Subject: Regional/Civil Unrest, Military Affairs, Development/Relief Aid, United Nations, Democratization, State Department, Nuclear Nonproliferation 12:12 P.M. (ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED) MS. TUTWILER: Can I do two housekeeping matters, and then I want to do an overall situation update on Yugoslavia. Housekeeping: One, our Monday weekly CIS update, I'm going to post today. Instead, we have it in the Press Room for you.

[Announcement: Presidential Initiative on Non-Proliferation]

Two: The White House is announcing today a Presidential initiative on non-proliferation. The White House Press Office will release the text of the announcement and a fact sheet. We will make these available to you as soon as we have them. I think Marlin was planning on doing that at noon. In addition, we will hold a Background briefing on the initiative at 2:30 p.m. here at the State Department in this briefing room. Thirdly, we are very pleased to welcome a new permanent press assistant, Sandy Brown. Prior to this assignment, Sandy worked for Foreign Buildings Operations in the Office of Construction Security Management. She is also a graduate from Bowie State University where she majored in broadcast journalism. We're pleased to have Sandy with us.

[Former Yugoslavia: Update]

Yugoslavia: I'll give you an update on the fighting and on convoys and where we are on that situation. Over the weekend and last night, Serbian forces continued their heavy shelling of Sarajevo and its suburbs. This morning, some Serbian shelling and fighting continues. The airport remains open, but the situation there is quite fragile. We are concerned about reports that over the weekend at the airport bullets struck two aircraft carrying aid -- one French, one British. Serbian shelling and fighting continues in the suburb of Dobrinja which, as you know, is adjacent to the airport. On Sunday, a U.N. peacekeeping convoy brought over 100 tons of aid into Dobrinja. Our reports indicate, however, that many residents were unable to get to the aid because of the fighting. Offensives by Serbian forces are underway in three areas: In the north-central Bosnian corridor linking Serbia and Serb-controlled areas in Croatia; on the eastern front along the Drina River, including the town of Gorazde, and in Hercegovina. In Gorazde, some 60,000 people, mainly Muslims, have been cut off from the rest of Bosnia for months by Serbian forces which have now launched fierce shelling attacks with tank, artillery, and multiple rocket fire. We are particularly concerned about reports we have heard that Serbian units from Serbia are participating in the assault on Gorazde. We remain concerned that Serbian forces are increasing their campaign of forced expulsions of non-Serbs from many areas of Bosnia. We condemn the intensified attacks by Serbian forces in Bosnia. We are also concerned by reports of increased fighting in the Dobrovnik region. In particular, we are concerned by reports of continued shelling of Dubrovnik by Serbian forces. Elsewhere in Croatia, the situation is relatively quiet. On convoys: Since the United Nations coordinated airlift began on July 3, 14 countries have flown over 1,700 metric tons of relief supplies into Sarajevo. Of the 150 total flights, the United States flew in 19 carrying food, medicine, fuel, and equipment -- forklifts predominantly, that were used to off-lift our pallets. There were security concerns over the weekend which prevented the delivery of supplies from the airport to distribution centers in Sarajevo. That was basically a one-day disruption. Distribution has resumed today. In fact, a convoy was able to deliver 100 metric tons of relief supplies into the suburb of Dobrinja. UNHCR and ICRC continue to explore the possibilities of mounting land convoys throughout Bosnia-Hercegovina. A UNHCR convoy on July 10 successfully delivered relief supplies to a city that's pronounced, I believe, Bihac. On July 12, a nine-truck ICRC convoy departed for another city with food and other supplies. A number of convoys are scheduled for July 15. UNHCR plans a 25-truck convoy from Split to Sarajevo while ICRC plans one convoy to Mostar and other nearby towns. Both of these convoys will leave from Split. We have mentioned to you before an organization called Doctors Without Borders. They are in Zagreb, and they plan to deliver two field hospitals to two cities in Bosnia. It's my understanding that these types of hospitals can take care of up to 10,000 people for approximately 90 days. Q Margaret, I guess it was in Helsinki, when our President met with the President of Bosnia, the Secretary said that the President had taken under consideration and hadn't taken a decision on the Bosnians' appeal for help with this artillery. Now, the artillery, again, is very significant and very vital in the hammering of Bosnia. Could you tell us if there's been any decision now on whether the United States will use its air power against Serbian -- which is really left-over Yugoslav artillery? MS. TUTWILER: I'm not aware of any such decision like that, Barry. I'm not aware that the President had a meeting with Prime Minister Panic. I thought that was Secretary of State Baker. Q No, no. With Bosnia. MS. TUTWILER: Oh, the Bosnians. Sorry. Q With Bosnia. MS. TUTWILER: I'm not aware. If there's been such a decision, I have no knowledge of it. It has not been discussed here this morning, so I'll be happy to take your question and I'll -- Q To be really honest about it -- MS. TUTWILER: I am being honest. Q No, no. In this end, we don't know if the Secretary was just being polite about a request from a foreign leader or if, indeed, there is some serious consideration being given to using U.S. air power to -- I don't know how the folks in the Pentagon say it -- take out, or however war is described over the -- MS. TUTWILER: The only thing that I know of -- Q To take out the artillery? MS. TUTWILER: The only thing that I know to refer you to is the President's last words on this subject. It's my understanding it was on -- I believe he did an interview on the MacNeil/Lehrer Newshour -- Q We don't want to get bogged down. MS. TUTWILER: -- prior to leaving Europe. I'm not aware that the President has said anything new this weekend -- over the weekend -- or today. So I'm just not your best source on this. Q Focused on -- well, the President has been focused on ground forces; not getting bogged down, in what the Secretary has often called a quagmire. But what they left open, if they're taken literally, is doing something about the artillery. I'm just trying to find out -- I'm liable to ask everyday, until it's put aside, as an academic courtesy of the Secretary -- MS. TUTWILER: That's okay. You were on the trip. I was not. I know that the President, the Secretary of State, the National Security Advisor, any number of officials who were out there held, I think basically, a daily press conference on this. I don't remember any of those officials -- those who were on the record and those on background -- ever discussing such -- Q They did. They did. MS. TUTWILER: Then I'm just out of it, and I'll be happy to -- Q It's all right. There's a lot -- MS. TUTWILER: If there's such a Presidential determination or even recommendation, I will be happy to inquire about it for you. Q Margaret, is there any plan to try to get relief, or humanitarian supplies into Gorazde? MS. TUTWILER: I would have to refer you to the United Nations. The United Nations is coordinating where the relief goes and how it gets there. My understanding, John, is that the United Nations -- again, I have to defer to their operation -- is very interested in helping other communities and areas within Bosnia that are in need. I just can't answer for you if a definite U.N. decision has been made to try to get humanitarian relief into Gorazde. Q And a follow-up question on the convoy that is supposed to go to Sarajevo from Split on the 15th of July. Will that be an armed convoy? Will they have armored personnel carriers -- MS. TUTWILER: That's a very good question. I don't know. Q -- or anything to help them get through? MS. TUTWILER: I don't know. I'll ask the U.N. people for you and see if I can get a definitive answer for you. Q If you don't mind, while you're asking, could you ask if the U.S. will provide air cover for that convoy? MS. TUTWILER: Yes. Q Margaret, just to follow up on Barry's question a little bit. Do you feel discouraged that after all the action that was taken last week at the Group of Seven at the CSCE, all the strong words, all the new actions taken in an attempt to discourage the Serbs, that what we're seeing here is what you described as fierce fighting on many fronts, and there seems to be absolutely no let up in the Serbian military campaign? I guess that's in the context of, are there other options now being considered since the Serbs seemed to be -- is it fair to say, do you think, that the Serbs seem to be ignoring the latest steps that the international community has taken to discourage them? MS. TUTWILER: I think it's a fair characterization, certainly, to say that some Serbs over the weekend -- I can't say that all, I don't know. I'm not there -- are not taking seriously the situation. But I would tell you, whether you had had meetings in Europe last week or not, that the entire situation has been discouraging for not only weeks but for months. Why would any neighbors continue to put other neighbors in the types of situations that we have continuously day after day after day observed? But that does not mean that over the weekend, that I have any knowledge that our policy has changed. I do not feel that it has. I have no knowledge of it. And I don't know, because you have continuous shelling, etc., that that would necessarily, one follow the other, you've got to change your policy. The policy, obviously, I subscribe to is a correct one. It is one being followed by any number of nations, and we will continue to do what we can, as the Secretary and the President said, in the economic area, in the political area. The U.N. is obviously trying very, very hard to get humanitarian relief to these people. Q Are there any consultations going on now that you know of -- the President or the Secretary of State -- with allies about, "Gee, look, we did these things, and the fighting is still continuing. Maybe we have to look at other things to do." MS. TUTWILER: I can only speak of knowledge to the Secretary of State over the weekend this morning. No, there are not. You'd have to ask your colleagues who are up in Kennebunkport to inquire of the President. I don't know of any. Q Margaret, over the weekend there were news reports to the effect that two-thirds of Bosnia is now under Serb control, and I was just wondering, is the United States prepared to live with a Bosnia that is totally controlled by Serbia, which seems to be what's happening. MS. TUTWILER: That's a question that the Secretary got on a number of occasions at his press conference -- his various press conferences in Europe -- and I'll just refer you to the answers that he gave there -- to that record. There's been no change on our view of that. As you know, that really is a, "Are we prepared to get ourselves involved in the political side of this, what we describe as a nightmare in Europe," and the answer always has been, "No, we are not." We are interested in the humanitarian side of this, as is the United Nations and other nations. Q Do you think it's -- does the United States think it's now time for the U.N. to move forward with the resolution that you've spoken of previously, calling for "all necessary means to deliver humanitarian aid"? MS. TUTWILER: I have not heard someone in our government suggest that over this weekend nor this morning since I've been at work. Q Are you aware of any further consultations on that issue? MS. TUTWILER: No. Q You have a situation in which aid is still getting through, but the fighting is fierce, planes have been hit, convoys have been fired on, and so forth. Have we simply -- we and the other nations supplying this aid -- simply decided that we can live with the situation as it is, that it is not intense enough at this point to have to go to the United Nations and seek a resolution allowing the use of force? MS. TUTWILER: I can only report to you the facts as I know them. Over this weekend, when you say "two planes hit," that was two bullets, and we do not know -- I don't yet -- that those were actually fired at those airplanes, and were they ina cross-fire, etc. So we have to be careful here of what is going on. I have stated today 150 flights have gotten in there. I have stated 1700 metric tons of medicine and supplies. So we are making progress. I cannot stand here and do a hypothesis for you that, "Now is the time you cannot take this anymore, etc." I can only tell you the situation as I know it since the President returned Friday night. So we've had two days -- Saturday, Sunday -- and this morning. It's now 12:30. I'm not aware, certainly from our government's point of view, of our government sending instructions to New York, "Now is the moment to move on a use-of-force resolution." Other governments may be interested in such a thing. If they are, I have not yet heard about it this morning. Q Margaret, the Secretary -- MS. TUTWILER: Excuse me. We've always said, though, as you know, and the Secretary and the President said last week, should it come to that, the United States position, we're on the record of we would support it. Q Well, what you have just said, without saying it in so many words, is that we can live with the situation as it now exists. MS. TUTWILER: Well, that is your -- you're asking me to do future tense. What I would say in my characterization of it, to use your phraseology, is for two days and a half -- two and a half days we have to my knowledge, our government, not gone to the United Nations. Based on what is happening on the ground in those two and a half days since you all last talked to the President has not gone to the United Nations on a use-of-force resolution. The United Nations is meeting today in informal session. Maybe some other nation may be bringing this up or maybe the situation may get better or turn worse. As you know, the Secretary General is prepared today to request additional support in Sarajevo -- U.N. peacekeepers. It's something the United States supports, if indeed that's what he is going to recommend to the Security Council. So there is a step that the U.N. thinks is warranted in these two and a half days, and we support that. Q Margaret, the Secretary sent Mr. Panic back to Belgrade with some very specific demands, and I wondered if you've heard from Belgrade on them yet. MS. TUTWILER: Not yet. Q You know, withdraw, etc. Cut it out. You know. MS. TUTWILER: Right. Not that I know of, Barry. It's my understanding that he is supposed to be sworn in as their Prime Minister on Tuesday, but I know of nothing new on that front. Q Margaret, on another area. Speaking of areas, the Israeli Government has now been formed, and I was wondering if you might be willing to speak to that area now that there is a government there, and if you have anything to say about the new government or about Mr. Rabin's offer to go talk Arab leaders? MS. TUTWILER: My understanding, Mary, is that the Knesset right now is in a meeting that they convened this morning at 9:00 a.m., and that that debate could take -- it's my understanding it's referred to as a debate -- can take many hours. And that President Herzog presides over the swearing in when they get to that point in their process of 120 members of the Knesset. And that, no, I will not, other than to say what we have been saying -- the President issued a statement, and we have, that we obviously look forward to working with the new government, but there is not, it's my understanding, formally, officially sworn in, a new Israeli Government, and that will probably be some time late this afternoon, U.S. time. Q Margaret, what about Prime Minister Rabin's offer to go to the different Arab capitals or have the Arab leaders come to Jerusalem? Do you have any reaction on that? MS. TUTWILER: It's something that I was briefly told about right before I came to the podium. No, I don't. Q Margaret, did you mean to -- are you saying that no calls have gone of congratulations because this swearing in is not yet official? MS. TUTWILER: That's correct. They have not. Q Margaret, is the Secretary going to the ASEAN meeting or any place else while -- as part of that trip? MS. TUTWILER: I don't have any scheduling announcements to make at this time. Q Well, I understand that. That's usually what you say when I ask a question like that. MS. TUTWILER: No. Sometimes I come back here and tell -- Q So would it be fair to say the Secretary hasn't made his mind up yet whether to go to the ASEAN meeting? Is that why, or is it because it may be a more elaborate trip? MS. TUTWILER: My response will continue to be the same, is that I just do not have any official scheduling announcements to make as of this time. I am aware there is an ASEAN meeting, and I am aware that we have not officially said yet, Barry, whether the Secretary will or will not be attending it. Q Is the ASEAN -- MS. TUTWILER: I should be able to do that shortly for you. Q Shortly. Q Margaret, on the Secretary's -- MS. TUTWILER: Very shortly. Q On the Secretary's comments downstairs on southern Africa, he said that they discussed the hope the parties can get together. Is the U.S. taking any further steps to try to bring the parties in South Africa together? MS. TUTWILER: Not that I'm aware of. You know our policy. Our policy is well known, and there's nothing that's happened over the last weekend. Q And is there any readout on the meeting with the Namibian Prime Minister? Why was he here? Downstairs they just talked very briefly. MS. TUTWILER: The Secretary has given you a brief readout. I have been downstairs preparing for this briefing, so I don't have one. I'll be happy to ask the Bureau if they can produce one for you. Q Margaret, in Somalia, where the humanitarian situation is every bit as difficult as in Bosnia, are we contemplating -- probably more difficult -- are we contemplating stepping up our relief effort there? Is there -- MS. TUTWILER: I don't know. I'll be happy to check with -- you are correct. It is a very serious situation. It's one that the Secretary's expressed his concern about a number of times. I will just check with Hank Cohen for you. I'm not aware of an increase in the United Nations' stepped-up efforts there. I don't know. I'll be happy to find out for you. Q And, if you haven't -- MS. TUTWILER: Try to find out. Q Sure. Can we get a read on how much has gone? MS. TUTWILER: Sure. We've done that before. I just don't have it at my fingertips. Q I have a housekeeping thing I wanted to raise if -- this at the risk of landing you into William Safire's language column. I am told that when you first took office, Margaret, you expressed a preference for the title, "Spokesman." My copy editor now informs me that that is grammatically incorrect, and that he is going to have to change you to "Spokeswoman," unless I can produce evidence that this is part of your official, formal title. So I wanted to give you a chance to speak to this again. MS. TUTWILER: It is correct when I was asked. I think it's a generic, neuter term, and it's one that I have used. It is the official one that's used here at the State Department, and it's the one -- I mean, he can use whatever he wants, but it's the one that the majority of people do use, and I think it's appropriate. Q Thank you. Q Spokesman or Spokeswoman? MS. TUTWILER: Spokesman. Q Margaret, do you have reaction to the elections in Mexico? MS. TUTWILER: No, I don't. Q Margaret, do you know of any plans by senior Department officials to go to Israel to prepare the way for a Rabin visit to this country? MS. TUTWILER: There are any number of options and scenarios that have been discussed over the last many months. There are no firm answers or firm decisions on any of that. Q Well, how about the option Mark suggests? MS. TUTWILER: It's an option, but there's zero decision. Q Well, what are some of the others then? MS. TUTWILER: Well, I don't want to preview for you all of our internal thinking. In this situation, as in many situations, Barry, it is a natural that an Administration has any number of options of things that you look at. One of them is what Mark is suggesting, but I am telling you -- and I am very up to speed on this -- that there is absolutely a zero decision on anyone going in advance of -- any staff person going in advance of whenever should the Prime Minister come here, which is a White House invitation. So that is something that obviously will be decided by the White House and the Prime Minister's office. Q Well, which should come first? Should Rabin talk to the Arabs first? MS. TUTWILER: Well, it's also hypothetical. I'd just -- Q No. It's policy. MS. TUTWILER: I just wouldn't be qualified to venture a guess on that. That's all too hypothetical. Q Well, let me try -- everything's hypothetical, but should the -- until it's announced -- but should the -- is it the U.S. -- does the U.S. think it would be better if Rabin talked to Arab leaders first or come to Washington first? MS. TUTWILER: That is way too hypothetical for me. Q Is it a little political too? MS. TUTWILER: It's just too hypothetical. (Laughter) Q Thank you. MS. TUTWILER: Thank you all. (The briefing concluded at 12:33 p.m.)