US Department of State Daily Briefing #110 Tuesday, 7/28/92

Boucher Source: State Department Deputy Spokesman Richard Boucher Description: Washington, DC Date: Jul, 28 19927/28/92 Category: Briefings Region: E/C Europe, MidEast/North Africa Country: Iraq, North Korea, Yugoslavia (former), Bosnia-Herzegovina, Serbia-Montenegro Subject: Regional/Civil Unrest, Military Affairs, Development/Relief Aid, United Nations, Cultural Exchange, Mideast Peace Process, Arms Control 12:17 P. M. (ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED) MR. BOUCHER: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. I don't have any statements or announcements for you this morning, or this afternoon, excuse me, so I'll be glad to take your questions.

[Iraq: UN Inspections for Weapons of Mass Destruction]

Q Could you say whether the Administration wants the U.N. to accelerate its inspections for weapons in Iraq? MR. BOUCHER: George, I'm afraid that the answers on future inspections is something that you are going to have to get from the U.N. Special Commission. I don't think they have been in the habit of announcing some of their inspections before they actually take place. So what specifically they have planned and how they are going to do it, I would leave to them. Nor do I have a firm answer for you on the issue of "accelerate." As you know, there have been forty inspections so far. They have been taking place on a regular basis, and they have gotten into both identifying facilities and going in to destroy things like chemical weapons. On the general subject, though, I would just say that the President has pledged our full support for the Special Commission and the IAEA. In upcoming inspections, he said that we will be watching to ensure that the Iraqi government grants unconditional and unimpeded access to inspection teams, and we hold regular consultations with Ekeus to work -- on the work of this Special Commission. Chairman Ekeus decides the schedule and the plan of work. So I think I will leave it at that for the moment. Q Richard, you say you are going to insist on unconditional access. The arrangements in the Agriculture Ministry is not unconditional though, is it? MR. BOUCHER: These arrangements are made by the Special Commission and Chairman Ekeus. We think he has worked out arrangements that get the U.N. team into the building, and that's certainly an area where, as the President has pointed out, that Saddam Husayn has caved. The inspection is being conducted today by highly competent and experienced professionals that were chosen by the U.N. Special Commission. The team was selected by UNSCOM Chairman Ekeus. It includes recognized experts in the field of detection of weapons of mass destruction and related materials, and any materials found in the building will be analyzed by the entire team. Q Richard, why is the Administration compromising at all with Iraq? MR. BOUCHER: Sid, I would say that Iraq has been -- once again, has accepted something that it didn't want to accept, and that was the right of the team to inspect this building on its own terms and with its own inspectors. The team has been composed by Ekeus. We think it is a good team. It is a competent team. There are two Americans on the team, although I understand they won't enter the building initially, but, as the President said the other day, we support Dr. Ekeus and the arrangements that he is making. Q Richard, in future inspections, will Iraq be allowed to choose the make-up of the team, or at least eliminate members of certain nationalities? MR. BOUCHER: As I understand it, the modalities or the arrangements for this particular inspection apply to this particular inspection and that we still maintain the principle that the team is selected by the U.N. Special Commission, and that Iraq is required, as you all know, clearly under U.N. resolutions to permit unimpeded -- let me start over, to permit -- (laughter) -- full and complete and immediate access by the U.N. Special Commission teams. We do expect full Iraqi compliance with all the relevant Security Council resolutions and we are still consulting with allies about what are the best ways of obtaining this compliance. Q In other words, this is not a precedent. MR. BOUCHER: As I understand it, these arrangements apply to only this inspection. Q Richard, what do you have about the troop movements in the north? There are reports that the Iraqis have moved large numbers of troops to the north and are blocking roads. MR. BOUCHER: I don't have anything new on troop movements in the north other than that the Iraqis continue their pressure on that area. I don't have anything specific and new on that. Q Do you have any reports of further sorties against the the Shi'a in the south? MR. BOUCHER: No. My understanding is that we don't see any change in Iraqi attitude or policy towards the Shi'as in the south. Iraqi forces remained poised in the marsh areas in the south and in the Kurdish areas in the north. Once again, we say that the Iraqi regime must end its bloody repression of its people and assure that political and human rights of the Iraqi people are respected. That is what is required under U.N. Security Council Resolution 688. Q Are they poised or are they attacking? MR. BOUCHER: They continue to maintain their pressure. I don't have any specific updates on skirmishes or fighting for the last few days. Q Have there been any instances of fixed-wing aircraft being used in the last day or so? MR. BOUCHER: I don't have anything new on that, Terry. Q Richard, you may have answered this while I was gone, but how does the State Department read Turkey's refusal to allow us to fly strikes into Iraq from Incirlik? MR. BOUCHER: I don't know what you are talking about, Sid. Q Turkey. MR. BOUCHER: Has the Turkish Government announced something that I didn't see? Q There was a little blib I saw in the International Herald Tribune a couple days ago. MR. BOUCHER: Okay. I'll look back and see how we dealt with it at the time. I'm afraid I wasn't here last week. Q Has Mr. Baker met with Iraqi opposition or the Kurdish leadership, or is he about to meet with them? MR. BOUCHER: The meeting with the Iraqi opposition is going to be tomorrow. The Secretary -- let me get back to this. I think Joe went through the members of the Iraqi opposition that will be here. The Secretary will meet with them tomorrow afternoon at 4:30 p.m. As we said yesterday, we strongly support the Iraqi opposition's call for elections throughout Iraq so that the Iraqi people can freely choose their representatives and a government that reflects the pluralistic nature of Iraqi society. Q Is this the Iraqi opposition or the Kurdish leaders, Talabani and Barzani? MR. BOUCHER: It's those two gentlemen, plus several others. Joe read off the list yesterday, and I assume he pronounced the names correctly. So before I head into it, let me just defer to him. But there are Shi'a representatives, Sunni nationalists, a former prime minister, an air force commander, along with two prominent Kurdish leaders. This is a unified, high level delegation of Iraqi opposition figures. Q You say the delegation which used to be in Vienna that held a conference just recently? MR. BOUCHER: I'm not sure if all these people were in Vienna, but I think this is the kind of unified approach of groups that resulted from the Vienna meeting. Q Richard, is this the first time that Kurdish leaders have seen Baker? MR. BOUCHER: The Secretary met with a group of Iraqi intellectuals and opposition figures when he was at the border with Turkey. I think it was last April. Since then, we have had a number of meetings that I think we have talked to you about both in Washington and in the field with various Iraqi opposition figures. Usually those were representatives of groups at lower levels. As I said, this is a unified and a high level delegation that is coming to visit Washington this time, and so we are seeing them at a higher level and the Secretary will be seeing this group. Q Everyone talks about the United States might be granting sort of a diplomatic recognition of these people as possibly the ad hoc committee to rule Iraq in the interim of the removal of Saddam Husayn. Can you comment on this? MR. BOUCHER: I haven't seen anything like that, and I don't think I want to comment on the meeting until it takes place. We'll try to give you a read-out afterwards.

[Former Yugoslavia: Update]

Q Do you have anything on Yugoslavia worth repeating? MR. BOUCHER: Well, George, I don't really want to be the judge of whether it's worth repeating or not. I can tell you what the situation is as regards fighting and flights and convoys. You may know some of this from the news reports from the region. Fighting in Sarajevo continued last night. There was sometimes intense Serbian shelling and fighting in Sarajevo. Tank and sniper fire continues this morning. The airport is open and it's operational. In most of the contested areas outside Sarajevo fighting and Serbian shelling continues. Serbian forces continue to consolidate their control over north-central Bosnia. Serbians continue to forcibly expel non-Serbs from contested areas, and non-Serb refugees continue to flee in significant numbers from northern Bosnia. We do not have any current information on the situation in Gorazde. Serbian offensive operations continue in Hercegovina. In Croatia, there's fighting in the Dubrovnik region. We're particularly concerned by continued Serbian shelling of Dubrovnik. Elsewhere in Croatia the situation is relatively quiet. We've also seen the press reports, as I think you have, that Serb and Croat leaders will hold talks aboard a British warship in the Adriatic, but for details of that I have to refer you to the British Government. And then in terms of possible efforts to bring peace to the area, Lord Carrington and the Portuguese Ambassador Cutileiro resumed the EC-mediated intra-Bosnian talks in London yesterday. All three sides are represented. The talks are continuing today, and, of course, we would urge people to negotiate in good faith to bring a political and peaceful solution to the tragic conflict. And that's about the update on the political situation. As far as flights go, yesterday there were 20 relief flights into Sarajevo. They carried 268.2 metric tons of food and medicine. There were three U.S. Government flights as part of this. They carried 40 metric tons of MREs and bulk food. There are 20 flights scheduled for today. Convoys: There's a UNHCR convoy that left from Split bound for Sarajevo today. UNHCR also expects to send another convoy to as yet undetermined sites in Bosnia-Hercegovina by the end of the week. And we understand that UNHCR plans to distribute the Gorazde relief supplies to villages near Gorazde since it hasn't been possible for them to enter the city of Gorazde itself. We don't yet have confirmation that that's taken place. Q Do you want air dropping of supplies to Gorazde? MR. BOUCHER: At this point all we really know is that the U.N. is contemplating such a step. I think you're aware of the obvious need, but there are also some obvious difficulties with that, and we'll leave the U.N. to sort them out. Q Richard, do you have any comment or reaction to stories from Israel that the August 28th has been set as the deadline, or rather the opening of the bilateral talks here in Washington, and that will extend beyond the end of September? MR. BOUCHER: I don't -- certainly I don't have anything on the extent of talks. I think you're aware from Secretary Baker's discussions in the region that he talked with a number of parties about the prospects of making the talks continuous, without the kind of periodic interruptions that we've had in the past. So that's a distinct possibility. There's been no firm date set yet, although, as I think the Secretary said in Manila, we've heard from all the parties of their desire to resume the talks as soon as possible. We'll be consulting with the parties on the date for resuming the talks. I believe you're aware that Deputy Secretary Eagleburger said on Sunday that we expect it to be in the latter part of August. As far as Washington goes, Secretary Baker has been in touch with the Italian Foreign Minister to explain that during his recent trip to the Middle East, it became clear that all the parties preferred to return to Washington for the next round of negotiations. This was due to their sense of urgency and their desire to work in close proximity with the co-sponsors. Secretary Baker expressed great appreciation for the efforts the Italians have expended to prepare for negotiations in Rome. We deeply appreciate the willingness of the Italian Government to host the peace talks. The Italians have made a tremendous effort, and their site and logistics preparations were superb. Q Well, that means that this thing in Rome will be put on hold or after the round here in Washington? MR. BOUCHER: I think that's something that we'll try to define more specifically for you as we go forward. What I'm saying today is that during the Secretary's trip to the Middle East it became clear that all parties preferred to return to Washington for the next round. As the Secretary, I think, made pretty clear during the course of his trip, the location of any round of talks or any future talks depends on the parties. Q Do you have any dates, Richard? MR. BOUCHER: No, I don't, as I said. We'll be consulting, it looks like the latter part of August. Q Do you know if it will be at the Foreign Minister's level, at least initially? Have there been any decisions on that? MR. BOUCHER: I had not heard any discussion of that. Q How does the United States feel about some changes that the Palestinian delegation would like to enter into its roster of negotiators? They want to do some changes in the delegation structure. Israel -- Mr. Rabin -- opposed that, and Hanan Ashrawi made the statement a couple of days ago, saying that, "Nobody's allowed to interfere in the composition and structure of our delegation." MR. BOUCHER: I really don't know exactly what you're referring to, and I don't have any comment on it. Q These are the personnel I'm talking about. MR. BOUCHER: Yes. I don't know what you're referring to. I'm sorry. I just don't have anything. Q Richard, just to go back, it's definitely -- the next round is definitely in Washington? MR. BOUCHER: Well, I guess the way I would put it, until we announce the precise date and location of the talks, it's not definite. We expect it to be in the latter part of August, and I'm reporting to you today that it's become clear that all the parties want to have the next round in Washington. Q What was the change of heart with the Israelis, because they have always wanted to move back to the region with their -- MR. BOUCHER: I think that's something you'll have to ask the Israelis. Our understanding is that they wanted to be in Washington, as the other parties did, because of the urgency of getting the next round going, and because of their desire to be in close touch with the co-sponsors. Q And, Richard, you also said that there was discussion occurring on making this -- instead of a round, making this the beginning of continuous talks? MR. BOUCHER: That was the discussion that occurred while the Secretary was in the region, and he in his press conferences spoke several times of the opinions that he had gotten on that subject, and I think had welcomed the desire of various parties to get into continuous negotiations. Q Was there a consensus on that? MR. BOUCHER: I'd have to look back and see where the Secretary left it when he last addressed it. I think there were some pretty strong indications from some of the parties that that was what they want. One more? Q You have issued one travel advisory concerning North Korea on the date of July 27th, and the content seems to be well known for a couple of years that U.S. passport is valid for travel to North Korea; however, it is traveler's responsibility to apply for the visa -- something like that. Do you have any specific reason why you issued this travel advisory again in this time? MR. BOUCHER: Was that an update, Joe? MR. SNYDER: It's an update or a renewal. MR. BOUCHER: It was a renewal. If you look at the last paragraph of that travel advisory, as most of them do, it should describe exactly what is new and why this was put out. Sometimes we just renew the same advisory when they expire. Q Thank you. MR. BOUCHER: Thank you. (The briefing concluded at 12:34 p.m.)