US Department of State Daily Briefing #107: Monday, 7/20/92

Snyder Source: State Department Acting Deputy Spokesman Joseph Snyder Description: Washington, DC Date: Jul, 20 19927/20/92 Category: Briefings Region: E/C Europe, MidEast/North Africa, Subsaharan Africa, Europe, North America Country: Yugoslavia (former), Bosnia-Herzegovina, Serbia-Montenegro, USSR (former), Iraq, Czechoslovakia (former), Uganda, Rwanda, Somalia, Italy, Canada Subject: Regional/Civil Unrest, Military Affairs, Development/Relief Aid, United Nations, Immigration, Narcotics, Democratization, Science/Technology, Cultural Exchange 12:25 P.M. (ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED)

[Former Soviet Union: Updates on Humanitarian Aid, Technical Assistance, USIA/Russian Exchanges]

MR. SNYDER: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. I'd like to begin, if I could -- because this is Monday and we haven't done this in several weeks -- with an update on our relations with the New Independent States of the former Soviet Union. Over 200 metric tons of medicines and medical supplies, valued at over $3 million, were delivered to six Russian cities last week under Operation Provide Hope II. Six C-141 aircraft will deliver 100 tons of USDA -- Department of Agriculture -- powdered milk to Tbilisi later this week. In the area of technical assistance, the Citizens Democracy Corps is negotiating this week to send U.S. business executives as volunteers to the New Independent States. Some executives would work with Aeroflot and Russian railways. Other CDC volunteers would serve as entrepreneurs-in-residence in various cities. Concerning other exchanges: Six members of the Russian Parliament attended the Democratic Convention under a program administered by USIA. As always, details on these and other initiatives are available from the Press Office after the briefing.

[Former Yugoslavia: Bosnia Update]

If I could, I'd also like to do an update on Bosnia, as we have been generally doing. As you know, in London, on Friday, in Lord Carrington's EC talks on Bosnia, the Bosnian parties agreed to a two-week cease-fire covering all of Bosnia to begin on July 19. The cease-fire never took hold in Sarajevo or elsewhere. Over the weekend, fighting was heavy in Sarajevo. Yesterday, about 10 mortar rounds fell outside the U.N. Protective Force Headquarters. Last night, Serbian forces launched intense shelling attacks against many areas of the city. Serbian shelling and fighting continues this morning. Artillery duels in areas near the airport have sent stray shells onto the airport runway. Some shells have hit the UNHCR hangar. Because of the fighting, UNHCR and the U.N. force cancelled relief flights for today. The U.S. calls on all sides to respect the cease-fire. There's a U.N. angle to this I'd also like to go into. In a statement on Friday, the President of the Security Council asked the Secretary General to submit to the Council today a report on the proposed role of the U.N. in implementing the cease-fire agreement which was signed in London. We expect the Secretary General will submit that report to the Council this afternoon. However, the failure of the cease-fire has made it impossible to implement the agreement among the Bosnian parties. Indeed, with the closing of the Sarajevo Airport, the situation inside Bosnia has clearly worsened rather than improved. We firmly believe that the Serbian side, which launched a war of expansion against Bosnia and has engaged in the despicable practice of "ethnic cleansing," bears the lion's share of the blame for the current sad situation there. The Security Council will have to take these changed circumstances into consideration. Most urgently, it will have to examine ways to resume humanitarian shipments to the suffering people of Bosnia. I'd like to run through as well what happened before the airport was closed. It was just closed today. It was open over the weekend in spite of the fighting that was going on. On Friday, there were 17 flights carrying 210 metric tons of relief supplies into Sarajevo. There were three U.S. flights which brought in bulk food, medicine, and MREs. Over the weekend, on Saturday and Sunday, there were 42 flights into Sarajevo carrying a total of 501.6 metric tons of food and medicine. The U.S. had five flights on July 18 and three on July 19. The U.S. flights carried about 40 metric tons of MREs, approximately 59,000 meals; 63.9 metric tons of bulk food; 2.3 metric tons of medicine. We also flew in a forklift for use in the airlift operation in Zagreb. On land convoys: The ICRC in Zagreb reported that its convoy to U.N. Protection Area South -- that is, in Croatia but right on the Bosnian border -- returned safely to Zagreb on July 18, and its convoy to Mostar/Livno and Zenica returned to Split on July 19 after successfully delivering relief supplies. A small joint ICRC/UNHCR convoy from Zagreb delivered MREs and medicines to Slavonski Brod on July 18. Finally, Equilibre, a French humanitarian organization, sent a convoy from Split to Sarajevo on July 16. The convoy delivered 120 tons of medicines, flour, milk, and high protein foods to refugee camps and hospitals in Sarajevo. I'll be happy to take your questions.

[Iraq: Continued Blocking of UN Inspection Team]

Q Anything on the stand-off in Baghdad between the U.N. inspectors and the Iraqis? MR. SNYDER: Yes. As you know from the news reporting, members of a U.N. Special Commission inspection team continue to monitor the entrances to a Ministry of Agriculture building in Baghdad. U.N. Special Commission Chairman Rolf Ekeus met with senior Iraqi Government officials, including Foreign Minister Ahmed Hussein and Deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz, in Baghdad on Friday and Saturday. Ambassador Ekeus is due back in New York today, and will report to the Council later today or tomorrow on the substance of his talks in Iraq. The U.S. is determined to see that Iraq meet all its international obligations under Security Council resolutions. We hold Iraq responsible for the safety of all U.N. personnel in Iraq. We are consulting with key coalition partners on steps to ensure Iraqi compliance with Security Council resolutions. Q What kind of steps? MR. SNYDER: We are going to work closely with the U.N. The next step is, of course, Ambassador Ekeus' report on his conversations in Baghdad. We will then, in consultation with the members of the Security Council and with other coalition partners, decide what we will do next. Q Do you believe under existing Security Council resolutions that the United Nations has the authority to act with force? MR. SNYDER: Let me take that question. Q Back on Yugoslavia: You talked about meetings at the U.N. to examine ways to ensure that humanitarian relief supplies reach Bosnia. Does the U.S. have any ideas on how this might be accomplished? MR. SNYDER: The U.N. has been successful in the past in arranging cease-fires, at least on a short term. We are hopeful that they will be able to show the same kind of success. We think the U.N. has done a remarkable job. Of course, it has not been totally successful, but I think there's some hope in the fact that they have been able to arrange cease-fires in the past, and we'll continue working with the U.N. Q Joe, do you know how successful food distribution has been? You've got all this food coming in. With the increased volume of shelling, do you know how distribution has been going? MR. SNYDER: I don't know, in the last few days. Certainly, there was fighting and shelling in the past, and the U.N. was successful in moving a good part of that food from the airport into town. The last few days, I don't have an update on that. Q Is there any way to find out how many people are able to get food from this operation? Any sort of estimate? MR. SNYDER: I haven't seen specific numbers, but my understanding was that, in the last two weeks or so, that the U.N. was relatively successful in getting food to the people who needed it. Again, I don't know about the last few days. Q Joe, do you have anything at all on lifting of the travel restrictions for the Russian officials here in the States and for the American officials in Moscow? MR. SNYDER: No. I'm sorry, I don't. We were working on the Open Lands Agreement with the Russians during the summit. As I understand, that has not yet been implemented. Q There was an exchange of notes last week. MR. SNYDER: I don't know. I'll see what I can get for you. Q Back on Yugoslavia: Does the U.S. Government have any ideas or preferences on what to do beyond the humanitarian operation -- in other words, how to suppress the artillery fire that's killing Sarajevo? MR. SNYDER: Do we have any ideas on how to do it? Q Yes. MR. SNYDER: We are working, again, closely with the U.N. We're working with other interested parties, but for the moment we're focused on getting those convoys in, and we're focused on negotiations to do that. That's where we stand now. Q Well, one of the problems in getting the convoys in is that they're being shelled. MR. SNYDER: Exactly. Q So what do you do about the root problem? MR. SNYDER: Well, in the past we have been able to -- the U.N. has been able to get people to limit their military operations so that relief supplies could get in, both by land and by air; and we're hopeful that they're going to be able to do that again. That's where we are at the moment. Q What gives you grounds for hope? MR. SNYDER: Because of success in the past. I mean, that speaks for itself. There has been a successful airlift, and there have been a number of convoys which have gotten in, and people are saying the right things, and we expect them to start doing the right things as well.

[Czechoslovakia: President Havel Resigns]

Q Czechoslovakia is today without a President. Mr. Havel resigned. Do you have any comment on this? MR. SNYDER: Yes. As you know, President Havel announced his resignation on Friday. It would be effective today. I just noticed on the wire before I walked in that the resignation did become effective. President Havel is one of the outstanding statesmen of his time. He has come to symbolize the peaceful transition from communism to democracy and a free-market economy in most states in Eastern Europe. The powers of the President now, as I understand it, revert to the Federal Assembly* until a new Federal President is chosen under the Czechoslovak constitution. The next round of voting in the Federal Assembly for the President will take place by the end of this month. At this point there are no candidates for this position. Q On another part of the world, another violent situation: Are you keeping up with the conflict between Uganda and Rwanda? MR. SNYDER: I'm sure there are people in the building keeping up with that conflict. Unfortunately, I personally am not, and I don't have anything. Do you have a specific question? Q Yes. Just a situation -- the reports from the border area say that it's heated up considerably in the past 24 hours. MR. SNYDER: I'll see what we can do, what we can come up with. I'm sorry. I just don't have anything right now.

[Somalia: Senator Kassenbaum/OFDA Visits]

Q Somewhat further to the east, Senator Kassebaum, along with some AID officials, were supposed to fly into Mogadishu, Somalia, yesterday, and it was postponed for security reasons. Do you have anything on that? MR. SNYDER: Yes, I do. Senator Nancy Kassebaum is accompanying a mission by the Director of the Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance, OFDA, Mr. James Kunder. Senator Kassebaum visited Khartoum briefly before arriving in Kenya. She visited refugee camps in Kenya near the Somali border yesterday, July 19, and traveled to a place called Belet Weyne in central Somalia today. ____________________________ * Correction: to the Federal Assembly and to the Prime Minister and Government. ____________________________ There were repeated incidents and fighting in Mogadishu late last week. Based on this information, we, the State Department, determined the situation was too risky for the OFDA team to go in, and we recommended to the Senator that she cancel plans to visit Mogadishu. Q Do we know if she is going to abide by your request? MR. SNYDER: I understand she did not go. She did go into Somalia today, not to the capital but to another part of the country, and has returned to Kenya, I believe. Q Same subject: There was some speculation that the OFDA had -- Mr. Kunder might go in later this week, and that it was somewhat more dangerous going with Senator Kassebaum because she's a high profile -- higher profile type figure, and that it might be safer for him to go in. And I was wondering if he was planning to go in later in the week. MR. SNYDER: Our recommendation was that the team not go in. That current recommendation stands. I don't know specifically whether he's going to stay in the area, and I don't know if we're looking to the situation to change. But the recommendation was that the team not go in. Q I apologize if you've already talked about this. I haven't been to all the briefings lately. But in our city there is a -- some sort of legal proceeding -- an Italian legal proceeding going on at the courthouse. Do you know about this Mafia-related thing? Do you know anything about this? MR. SNYDER: At the courthouse in Washington? Q Yes. Apparently there is an Italian legal proceeding taking place down at the Federal Courthouse here on Pennsylvania or Constitution Avenue; and it's a very unusual thing in that Italian, I think, judges, jurors, witnesses, and so on, have been brought into the United States to -- do you know anything about this? MR. SNYDER: I don't know a thing about it. Q I presume it would have to be, obviously, arranged through some treaty with Italy on law enforcement. I just wondered whether you knew anything about it. MR. SNYDER: Possibly. I would recommend that you probably talk to the Justice Department if it's a legal matter like that. I mean, I'll check and see if we've got anything on it, but it hasn't come to my attention. I have no idea what it is. Q As you know, there was just another bombing -- there's another assassination of an Italian judge, and apparently this has something to do with, the reason that they're holding this proceeding here is the danger to all, and there's just massive security down there every day now. MR. SNYDER: I'll look into it. Sorry. Q Has the United States Government given any assurance to Canada that it will not conduct any kidnapping in the Canadian territory? MR. SNYDER: I think we've said in general terms that -- well, I don't have the exact language, but in the past, in commenting on this whole subject, we've said that this is not going to be a usual practice. I don't know specifically if there are individual assurances given to any countries. Q The Canadian Embassy here made a demarche to seek such an assurance. MR. SNYDER: I'm sorry. I don't know anything about it. Q Thank you. MR. SNYDER: Thank you. (The briefing concluded at 12:41 p.m.)