August, 1992

US Department of State Daily Briefing #112 Monday, 8/3/92

Boucher Source: State Department Deputy Spokesman Richard Boucher Description: Washington, DC Date: Aug, 3 19928/3/92 Category: Briefings Region: E/C Europe, Eurasia, MidEast/North Africa, Caribbean Country: Yugoslavia (former), Bosnia-Herzegovina, Serbia-Montenegro, USSR (former), Iraq, Russia, Haiti Subject: Regional/Civil Unrest, Military Affairs, Development/Relief Aid, United Nations, Refugees, Democratization, State Department, International Law 12:20 P.M. (ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED) MR. BOUCHER: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. If I can start, I'd like to do a couple of housekeeping things and then give you the update on assistance to the former areas of the Soviet Union -- on the New Independent States, we call them now.

[Department: Briefing Update and Summer Schedule]

First of all, a reminder: There will be a briefing in this room at 2:00 p.m. this afternoon on the situation in Somalia. It will be On the Record, and the briefer will be James Kunder, the Director of the Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance. I think you know from the statement last week, he has recently visited Mogadishu. He'll be back to tell you all about it. The second is the August briefing schedule. We will plan on briefing in this room on Mondays and Thursdays during the month of August -- actually, through Labor Day. We'll, of course, have answers available from Press Officers to your questions on other days. And should there be a need in terms of the news or something happening, we'll be glad to schedule other briefings. But I think for all of us, that's a little easier schedule and an easier tempo to keep during the month of August. Q Through Labor Day? MR. BOUCHER: Through Labor Day. Q As of today? MR. BOUCHER: As of today. Today is Monday. Q Just for the record, I'd like to go on record, for what it's worth, saying that I'm sorry that you decided to do that. MR. BOUCHER: I think -- you know, the variety of needs and views among the people in the Press Corps, we'll try to help out everybody as best we can; and we will have, as I said, answers available to your questions on the other days. Q The other problem that I see in it is that for those of who are not here with the same regularity that the wires are here will be missing things that might be disseminated from the Press Office or from informal chats with reporters who happen to be here. MR. BOUCHER: Just pick up the phone and give us a call. We're available in the office or on the phone. Q I know, but you never know what specifically to ask if somebody is coming around talking to the reporters who happen to be here. MR. BOUCHER: Just give us a call, Saul, and ask anything on your mind. Q But that's one of the dangers -- that's one of the problems of infrequent briefings. MR. BOUCHER: I guess I understand that. I think there's also not necessarily a need to do this absolutely every day, and we thought we'd cut it down. But feel free to pick up the phone and ask us what's happening, and we'll try to fill you in what we have. Q For the record, UPI regrets the new schedule as well. MR. BOUCHER: Okay. Q The 8th is when you start the regular briefings, then -- the 8th of September? MR. BOUCHER: Yes. This is more or less, as you know, the same schedule that we followed in previous years. It seemed to have worked okay, in the absence of invasions and coups when we did schedule further briefings that were necessary. Q What is the main reason you are cutting down the frequency of the press briefings? MR. BOUCHER: We have less staff around. There's not necessarily as much to talk about during the month, and we just thought it would be easier for everybody to schedule their vacations and things like that if we did less frequent briefings in this room. Q Secretary Eagleburger agree? MR. BOUCHER: You can ask him some day. I don't think he has any problem with it. Deputy Secretary Eagleburger, I think you said. Q I guess there's no need to remind that August is always seen as the quiet month. It isn't. MR. BOUCHER: It is also the cruelest month in terms of past history, and we're very glad to put on briefings as necessary, as I said, as we did in previous years.

[Former Soviet Union: Update on the New Independent States]

Okay, if I can give you the highlights of significant events with regards to assistance to the New Independent States. Of course, we'll have a longer written statement available for you after the briefing. I think we put up a notice last week about the U.S. and Israel agreeing on a joint program to provide technical assistance to the five central Asian states. It's something of note. The Chairman of the IFC of the World Bank announced on July 29 at Volgograd, Russia will be the site of a second IFC-sponsored privatization auction to sell small state-owned enterprises to private bidders. I understand the U.S. is assisting with this, and there's an additional team that's begun preparations for another auction in L'vov, Ukraine. On humanitarian assistance, there was an emergency medical assistance shipment delivered to Dushanbe, Tajikistan on July 23. The shipment included 7,600 vials of high value medicines, antibiotics, IV solution, and other medical supplies. We've got a more complete report for you available in the Press Office. With that, I'd be glad to take your questions.

[Department: Status of Richard Clarke/IG Investigation]

r Q Richard, what's the status -- I'm sorry. Do you have something? I didn't mean to jump in if you have -- okay. What is the status of Richard Clarke? When did he change positions at the State Department, and what is his new position? MR. BOUCHER: I don't know, Ralph. I have to check. Q Can you take the question, please? MR. BOUCHER: Yes. I have to check. I think we announced Bob Gallucci swearing-in. When was it? -- about two weeks ago or something like that. I'll check on Dick Clarke, if there's anything to say. Q Well, there ought to be something to say. He has left his position. He was under investigation, an investigation that the podium commented on in the past. So if you'd take the question on that, please, and perhaps -- MR. BOUCHER: I'll see if there's anything to say. But we wouldn't necessarily be in a position to announce new assignments for him. Q Okay. Well, in that case, I'll ask you to take another question which is, has Clarke been asked to leave his position as a result of the investigation that we all know about? Maybe that would be prompt an answer. MR. BOUCHER: I think, first of all, Ralph, where we last left this was with a recommendation from the Inspector General, that the Inspector General talked about in his report that was given to personnel. I'm not sure after that point that we were in any position to comment on what's essentially a private matter involving his personnel records. At the same time, we did make clear, I think originally, that there would be normal rotations of positions. My understanding is that is what the appointment of Mr. Gallucci involves. Q I'm interested in the status of the -- I think there's a clock running on that personnel process. MR. BOUCHER: I'll see if there's anything we can say to you about it. Q There are reports today that Russia is about to move its ships to the Gulf. Have you seen those reports? If so, what is your comment? MR. BOUCHER: I have not seen those reports. I don't have any comment.

[Former Yugoslavia: Update on Fighting]

Q Richard, on the situation in Yugoslavia, there are continuing reports of atrocities -- children being killed and separated according to ethnic background. Is any of this causing the United States to look again at its policy and try to do something to halt this? MR. BOUCHER: Carol, I guess what I would say is that, first of all, we have the same information that you do on happened to the convoy of children who were attacked by sniper fire, and two children were killed. And now we have reports that several of the children were taken off the bus on its way to Split. It's a horrible tragedy. I think it just -- if anybody needs a reminder of how senseless the violence there is, it's to be found in what has happened to these poor children. It's hard to imagine how anybody can continue the violence -- continue to support the violence -- when it's reached this state. Our efforts, as you know, have been devoted to, first of all, urging all parties to stop the violence, to stop the attacks; second of all, to making sure that our support for the negotiated process and the processes available for a peaceful solution was made clear; and, third of all, to support the humanitarian efforts that are trying to take care of people in Sarajevo and elsewhere who are suffering from this violence. We've continued to fly flights. On Sunday, the five hundreth flight of relief supplies went into Sarajevo. We've continued to do our part to support that effort as to support efforts to reach a political solution. Q But your support for a negotiated solution has failed. There is no peace there. MR. BOUCHER: There is no peace there. At the same time, our support for the humanitarian efforts has met with some success. We've been able to get flights in. We've managed to support the U.N., I think, very heavily. I can give you the specific rundown on flights and tons, and things like that. There has been a negotiating process that resumed a week or so ago. I think they're in recess now until later this month, but they did agree to form some kind of working group to work on immediate problems. So it's not over. It hasn't succeeded yet. Certainly, our support for that is very strong and it continues. You remember from the G-7, the G-7, in their statement, made very clear that if there were going to be a need for further measures, that the G-7 would support further measures to ensure that the humanitarian relief got in. And, indeed, we've seen the convoys have met with difficulties on the roads of Bosnia, on the road into Sarajevo, although one convoy got in. We're in touch with our allies to see that we all do everything we can to make sure that this humanitarian effort succeeds. Q Richard, everything you've talked about just now has been in the context of the humanitarian relief effort -- flights and tons and use of additional measures, if necessary, to see that the humanitarian effort proceeds. But there's a moral issue here that's being raised increasingly in recent weeks as reports begin to filter out about concentration camps, the details of what has been referred to previously as "ethnic cleansing." Presumably, this has been going on for some time, but now we're beginning to get some more detail about it. What steps is the U.S. taking to see that this moral problem is brought to an end? MR. BOUCHER: First of all, Ralph, I think what we are doing is addressing the moral problem. We've always addressed this in terms of the humanitarian needs of people who are there on the ground. We have addressed the political questions in terms of the negotiations, and we've made very clear our view, both publicly and directly, with the parties involved that the violence was senseless and it should cease. We have made, I think, very concerted efforts, together with others in the international community, to make sure that the humanitarian aid reaches the people that need it. We have consistently condemned the forced expulsion of non-Serbs from Serbian areas. We've made this an issue that I think we have raised many, many times in public fora to get some attention to it. We're deeply concerned about the reports that are coming out, continuing reports that Serbian forces are holding Croatian and Muslim non-combatants in what are called "detention centers." We've received continuing reports of abuses, torture, and killings in these Serbian camps. The International Committee of the Red Cross has had difficulty getting access to these camps and is still trying to gain access to some of these camps. That's something that we wholeheartedly support. I should also note that we have reports that Bosnians and Croatians also maintain detention centers, but we do not have similar allegations of mistreatment at those. Our view is that all parties must allow international authorities immediate and unhindered access to all the detention centers. Q When Iraq invaded Kuwait, this Administration began a very loud and constant drumbeat about that kind of aggression and that kind of untenable behavior. And yet, this situation is going on in Yugoslavia. Everyday we seem to be getting more and more sort of distressing news about it and, really, the Administration -- I wouldn't say silent but it is more silent than not? MR. BOUCHER: First of all, Carol, I can't accept any "silence." We have spoken out loudly and publicly. It got to the point where we would give you the Yugoslav update everyday and you all would roll your eyeballs. Q But we haven't seen you for a long time. MR. BOUCHER: We have, I think, spoken very regularly on these issues, and we have had what I think are credible and strenuous efforts to get the relief flights in, to make the supplies available, to meet with the parties to bring these issues up at the United Nations and elsewhere to try to keep the negotiating track open, as have others like Lord Carrington and Cyrus Vance and the U.N. Secretary General, as well as strenuous efforts to make sure that whatever relief could be provided was being provided. We're continuing to do that, and we're continuing to talk to allies and others about what is the best way to ensure that that continues. Q Richard, you said you were deeply concerned about reports about the detention camps. Does the United States have any independent confirmation that, in fact, these Muslims are being loaded onto sealed boxcars and taken to detention camps? MR. BOUCHER: I don't know if I can confirm it in those specific terms -- in sealed boxcars, and those sort of things. We do know from our own reports of information, similar to the press reports, that the Serbian forces are maintaining what they call "detention centers" for Croatians and Muslims. We do have our own reports, similar to the reports that you've seen in the press, that there have been abuses and torture and killings taking place in those areas. For that reason, we've strongly supported, and we do support, the efforts of the International Red Cross to get in there and to try to stop it. Q To follow that up, don't you think in that context, then, that the words "deeply concerned" are a shade weak? MR. BOUCHER: I wouldn't focus on the exact words, Mark. The depth of our concern, I don't think I can give you some kind of particular reading of the depth of our concern about any individual atrocity or some of the horrible reports that are coming out about this. We have made absolutely clear our condemnation of this practice of "ethnic cleansing," and I would make absolutely clear our condemnation of these kinds of abuses that are being reported in these camps. It's just horrible. Q But as of now, you see nothing beyond condemnation? You see no further U.S. action being contemplated? MR. BOUCHER: I guess what I would say is a number of your questions are sort of going to the issue of military action, and these are questions that have been asked of the President and the Secretary before. Our position on that has not changed. But I would remind you that our position was the one that we took with the G-7 that said that if there needed to be other means, including military means, to make sure that the humanitarian assistance was delivered and provided, that we would be willing to support that. We are continuing our consultations with allies about seeing what is the best way we can to make sure that this assistance is effectively provided. Q Is humanitarian assistance and efforts specifically and narrowly defined as getting aid from the airport to people in Sarajevo or to other places? Or is humanitarian assistance not protecting convoys of children trying to get out of there? MR. BOUCHER: Saul, you will remember, I think, the G-7 statement also included the statement for the need to open land convoys. There have been various attempts to open land convoys, and some of them have succeeded and some of them haven't. Q But most of them have failed, have they not? MR. BOUCHER: Many of them -- well, it depends on what area you're talking about. Let me try to go through what we have, the latest on convoys and get some better picture for what works and what doesn't out there. There were two small UNHCR convoys in the lower reaches of the west central area of Bosnia-Hercegovina that are planned for this week, and there's a larger convoy planned from Split to Sarajevo on August 9 by the UNHCR. A French NGO called Equilibre has postponed a Split-Sarajevo convoy until August 19. It was originally planning to carry about 50 metric tons of MREs from Split on August 9. UNHCR/Split reports that the railway link from Ploce to Mostar to Sarajevo has been severely damaged and will not be easily reparable. This effectively eliminates the rail route as an alternative to the difficult Split-Sarajevo route. Bridges along the road which runs parallel to the railway are also reported damaged but possibly not irretrievably so. UNHCR/Split is continuing its assessment of this and other possible routes between the Adriatic and the Sarajevo area. Q So there are no land convoys that have really made it in any large extent. Yet, there -- MR. BOUCHER: There was one convoy that made it last week to Sarajevo. And, as you know, there have been continuing convoys to various other cities around Bosnia. Q Has the United States yet committed any aircraft to protect these convoys as well as convoys of children trying to get out of some of the dangered areas? MR. BOUCHER: Saul, at this point I think I have to stick with reminding you what was in the G-7 statement and with what I've said already. It's clear that humanitarian deliveries have faced difficulties on the roads in Bosnia in getting to Sarajevo and other areas -- Gorazde, you will remember - and we are continuing our consultations with our allies as to how best we can assist U.N. efforts to provide the vital aid. Q I'm asking whether humanitarian assistance simply is narrowly defined as getting aid -- specific aid to places or is humanitarian assistance not going to the relief of people who may be in concentration camps or children and others trying to evacuate and being set upon by snipers? MR. BOUCHER: Saul, the humanitarian assistance efforts, if you remember from the G-7, they made specific mention of land convoys. Our efforts have included the flights in, have included support for the land convoys. They've included support for -- Q I'm not asking -- MR. BOUCHER: -- people like the ICRC to get them in there to do something about the camps. Q I'm asking as Spokesman for the United States Government. What is the United States -- MR. BOUCHER: It has included a large variety of activities to support the helping of people who need the help. Q Richard, what's the U.S. response to the statement by some Bosnian leaders that humanitarian assistance, although welcomed, is only keeping people alive a little longer so that they can eventually be killed by the same guns that are raining on them now? These people are saying that what has to be done is to quiet the guns, not just bring in some food. MR. BOUCHER: Norm, I guess I would say our response is no different than when those things were said and raised before. You remember the readout the Secretary gave after meetings in Helsinki -- when the President met with Izetbegogiv there -- where those kind of statements were made. I guess our response would remain that we are also making efforts on the political front together with the Europeans to make sure that there are negotiations available and to encourage the parties to negotiate the political solution to this that ultimately has to take place if we're going to settle this peacefully and let people back to their homes. Q Richard, does the United States Government believe that humanitarian assistance should include the liberation of the camps that you referred to, the detention centers that you said you're deeply concerned about? MR. BOUCHER: Ralph, you're talking about military action, I take it? Q I didn't use the phrase "military action." I asked about -- MR. BOUCHER: What does the phrase "Liberation" mean. We don't think people should be held in camps. We think people should be let out and should be allowed to go back to their homes. Q But the United States is not doing anything or even considering any way in which -- MR. BOUCHER: Are we going to drop paratroops on it? I'm not going to say anything new about military action. You're sort of asking me -- Q We didn't ask about paratroops. MR. BOUCHER: That seems to be the strong implication. In that case, I don't understand the question. Q You talked about helping the ICRC, for example. What steps is the U.S. doing to help the ICRC get to the camps to inspect conditions at the camps and ensure the lack of abuses or absence of abuses at the camps where you are deeply concerned? MR. BOUCHER: Well, I guess I would say that we've stated our support for their efforts. I'm not sure that they've asked us for any specific logistical help at this point. I can check and see if they have. Q Richard, Mr. Panic, last week when he was in Geneva, he mentioned that the United States and other members of the U.N. Security Council were discussing the resolution that has been raised here previously that would provide all necessary means to support the humanitarian effort, can you give us the status of those discussions? MR. BOUCHER: I don't have anything new on those discussions, Mark, other that they are continuing. Q Can you take the question and see if we may be seeing a resolution any time soon? MR. BOUCHER: I don't have anything that leads me to expect -- I don't think we have any particular draft in play at this moment. Q Do you have anything further on Mr. Panic's efforts? He seems to be going around assuring everybody that he's making efforts, but I wonder whether he has made any progress and whether you can report that he's made any progress in his efforts? MR. BOUCHER: Well, I think it's for him to report whatever progress he thinks he's made. I don't have anything particularly new that would say that he's achieved anything in terms of silencing the guns and withdrawing the equipment and the various other standards that we laid out as being the things that were most important to accomplish. Q So he has not achieved any of the things he said he was going to achieve when he met with the Secretary? Where was it? In Helsinki? MR. BOUCHER: I haven't gone through the full list of things that we said were important to achieve, but I think you would find that few of those have been achieved at this point. Q What does this then do to his status as an American citizen or a representative of Yugoslavia? Do you know? MR. BOUCHER: At this point, I don't think there's been any change. Q Richard, you mentioned a few minutes ago that Croatians and Bosnians were also putting Serbians in detention camps. In the last couple of days I've been seeing some advertising in some national newspapers saying how one-sided the reporting and the focus of this has been. Are there corresponding atrocities on both sides of this issue, or is this an isolated thing? Could you elaborate -- MR. BOUCHER: With regard to that, I think I also said at the same time that we were aware that there were Bosnians and Croatians that maintained detention centers; that we noted that we do not have similar allegations of mistreatment at those centers. Q But the detention centers -- the U.S. is opposed to the whole idea of a detention center? MR. BOUCHER: We're opposed to the fighting, we're opposed to the detention of innocent people, we're opposed to the forcible expulsion of people from their homes, and we think it ought to stop and people ought to be able to go home and live in peace. How much more simply can I say it? Q Nobody is free of blame in this conflict? MR. BOUCHER: I think we've made clear right from the beginning of this that there were various parties involved in the fighting; that there were people on all sides -- I can't even say both sides -- on all sides that were doing bad things. At the same time, we've also pointed the finger very particularly and very specifically at the actions of the Serbian forces and the government in Belgrade in unleashing many of the attacks. We've reported to you both in specific terms and in terms of the overall policy viewpoint, that they bore the overwhelming burden of responsibility for the violence that's going on. Q Richard, can we go to South Africa, please? Do you have anything -- Q One further thing. Are there any plans to hold military exercises, like the ones you're holding in Kuwait, close to or in the vicinity of Yugoslavia? MR. BOUCHER: It's a question you'll have to ask the Pentagon, Saul. Q But you know of -- MR. BOUCHER: You are aware that we have ships in the Adriatic. Q You know of any such action -- MR. BOUCHER: We have ships in the Adriatic now, right? Q I understand you have ships. But do you have any military -- MR. BOUCHER: It's a question you'll have to ask the Pentagon, Saul. Q Are there any consultations underway or about to begin on the specific subject of these atrocities that you referred to earlier -- about the detention centers -- or the consultations that are underway among the U.S. and its allies related to the humanitarian delivery operation? MR. BOUCHER: Ralph, I'm not aware of any specific round of consultations on these reports. I'm sure that when we discuss this issue with allies, that anything that's important like this would be discussed. But I'm not aware of any specific consultations with some particular goal. Q Richard, the United States continues to support Lord Carrington's efforts to mediate a solution, is that right? MR. BOUCHER: Yes. Q Does that support extend to what seems to be Lord Carrington's recent impatience with the Bosnians for being unwilling to surrender any territory in a settlement? MR. BOUCHER: I really don't know exactly what you're referring to. Maybe I missed something that Lord Carrington said. Our support for his efforts includes the view that all the parties should negotiate seriously and try to solve the differences at the negotiating table. Q One more on Panic: Wasn't there a 30-day clock running on his visa or his travel -- or the lifting of the sanctions that applied to his travel to and from? I'm not sure exactly what the technicality is, but -- MR. BOUCHER: Yes. We put up an answer a couple of weeks ago on exactly what it was. It was the license for him to engage in transactions related to his going over there, and I think the 30 days started on the day that he left or something. I'm not sure it was the date he left the States or the day he arrived out there. Q Not knowing when that was, in my head, is the U.S. -- what's the U.S. view about whether that just continues indefinitely or is there an extension underway, a proposal for any extension? MR. BOUCHER: Not knowing exactly when that was in my head either, I'll have to check and see if we're coming up on a renewal of some sort. Q Has any U.S. official considered the legality of the reported contract on the side of Bobby Fischer to play in Yugoslavia? MR. BOUCHER: I'm sorry. The contract on what? Q Bobby Fischer's contract -- reported contract, chess, to play a match with Spassky in Yugoslavia? MR. BOUCHER: I hadn't really focused on it. I don't know where the match is to be held. Q Can you check that, please? MR. BOUCHER: Where is the match supposed to be? Q In Montenegro. Q Did we give him a visa? Q As beginning of September 1. MR. BOUCHER: Did he have to get a Treasury license to be able to do that? I assume so. You might check with Treasury on how it affects -- Q Well, it's a transaction, Richard, too. I mean -- MR. BOUCHER: Yes. Well, and Treasury administers the licenses. Q What is your -- what is U.S. position of the Yugoslavia situation? For example, does the U.S. still think that the turmoil in Yugoslavia is a kind of domestic or internal matter that should be solved by themselves, or it is international matter that international organizations like United Nations or other international organizations can [be] involved here. MR. BOUCHER: Well, without giving a full treatise on the developments and the various aspects of this conflict, I think we've made very clear that it's inter-ethnic fighting inside an area, which has a direct effect on neighbors and the international community, and for that reason the international community has been involved. The European Community, the United States, NATO, the U.N. Security Council, have also been involved, because it has very important international dimensions. Q Do you mean when Secretary Baker said that Yugoslavian situation should be solved by themselves with -- through peaceful communication, that position has been changed you mean? MR. BOUCHER: No. That position remains, and Secretary Baker has often said that the solution has to come from the parties, and it was up to -- that we fully supported the efforts of Lord Carrington, the United Nations and others to try to help them reach that peaceful solution. Q Do you think that that kind of comment instigates the Serbian Government to impose the attack to the Bosnian and Hercegovina -- MR. BOUCHER: I don't know exactly what comment you're referring to, but the offensives by the Serbians has been going on for quite some time. Q Richard, a follow-up on my question, please, did your answer mean that the State Department is not considering Fischer's playing or not playing as an issue to be concerned with in the State Department at all? MR. BOUCHER: My answer means I don't know what specifically is going on in the State Department about this, but that licensing of any transactions or engagements or travel and things like that related to going to Serbia and Montenegro, places under sanctions, is something that's done at the Treasury Department, and they would have to explain the regulations to you as to how it might affect any particular instance. Q Richard, can I now do this? MR. BOUCHER: Sure.

[South Africa: Update on Strike/ Demonstrations Generally Peaceful]

Q What do you have on the strikes in South Africa? Do you have anything on the Washington Post reporter who was wounded? MR. BOUCHER: O.K. Two things, unrelated. Q Unrelated. MR. BOUCHER: The strikes: There is a general strike underway in South Africa. Reports are insufficient at this time to characterize overall the level of participation on a nationwide scale. Compliance with the ANC strike call varies from region to region, with participation very high in some areas of the Eastern Cape. Johannesburg and Pretoria also appear to be heavily affected. The strike and the related demonstrations have been generally peaceful but with some violent incidents reported. Ten United Nations observers, sent by the U.N. Secretary General using his good offices role, arrived in South Africa yesterday to look at the situation. We don't have any specific information on where they are and what they're doing. We urge all parties in South Africa, both those who take part in mass action and those who oppose it, to exercise restraint during the strike. We continue to believe that the negotiating process offers the best and only hope for a peaceful transition to democracy inside South Africa. Q Do you know if the strike is having any impact on the rail shipment of food supplies to the rest of southern Africa which has been so -- hit so hard by the drought? MR. BOUCHER: I don't know, Jim. I'll check and see if we have anything on that. Q Do you have anything more on the Post reporter? MR. BOUCHER: You wanted to ask about the Post reporter. Q Yes. MR. BOUCHER: Paul Taylor, who's an American journalist for the Washington Post, and Phillip van Niekerk, a South African journalist, were shot this morning during a car hijacking in the Johannesburg-area township of Sebokeng. Paul Taylor suffered a superficial wound in his left shoulder and is expected to be released from the hospital in a few days. Mr. Van Niekerk suffered a fractured jaw. The American consul has visited Mr. Taylor at the clinic where he's being treated, and of course we're trying to stay in close touch with him to make sure he receives all the assistance that we can provide. Q Two other things: What is Herman Cohen doing? Is he in South Africa? And, secondly, in the Mandela interview yesterday, there was talk about some suggestions by President Bush. Do you have anything on either of those two questions? MR. BOUCHER: I'll check on Hank Cohen, and I really don't know what you're referring to about President Bush, but you can ask the White House. Q You have nothing on it. O.K. Thank you.

[Iraq: Reports Profiteers Executed]

Q Richard, Do you have any idea what's going on in Iraq, particularly in regard to the executions of merchants in -- MR. BOUCHER: The executions. We understand that some Iraqi merchants were executed by the Baghdad regime on charges of profiteering and price gouging. We don't have any details or specific numbers for you. These executions sparked mass demonstrations in several Iraqi cities that were brutally put down by Saddam's forces. To us, this is another indication that the Baghdad regime considers clinging to power more important than individual human life and the well-being of the Iraqi people. Executing these people in the Iraqi private sector who have been importing food and goods into the country will only exacerbate the suffering of the Iraqi people in Baghdad as well as elsewhere. The fact that Saddam is cracking down on these merchants who had been working with the regime, shows that Saddam continues to narrow his base of support. Q Some of the reports had said that these executions followed earlier demonstrations -- popular demonstrations -- apparently food riots and such. Do you know about those? MR. BOUCHER: I don't know about earlier demonstrations. I do know that after the executions that there were mass demonstrations that were subsequently brutally repressed. Q Do you know which cities? MR. BOUCHER: I don't have that for you. I'll see if we can provide that. Q Richard, when you say "brutally put down," I mean, did that involve deaths, troops opening fire, that sort of thing? MR. BOUCHER: I don't think I have that sort of detail at this point, Howard. Q Over the weekend, Iraq reasserted its claim to Kuwait as the 19th province of Iraq. Do you have any reprise of old guidance, perhaps, on that score? MR. BOUCHER: Well, first of all, I'd say that the reassertion by Iraq once again proves the correctness of the international community's stance against Iraq. We see that Iraq has not changed its aggressive posture toward Kuwait. Fortunately, after Desert Storm and with the U.N. sanctions regime in place, the international community is in a position to insure that these threats don't materialize. Q Richard, Rolf Ekeus is on the schedule as seeing Under Secretary Kanter today. Can you tell us anything about that meeting and who asked for it? MR. BOUCHER: I don't know specifically who asked for it. It's one in a series of periodic meetings that we have with Ambassador Ekeus as part of his meetings and consultations with members of the U.N. Security Council. We expect that he'll be talking with the Under Secretary about his trip to Baghdad in connection with the most recent inspection of the Agriculture Ministry. Q Can we get a readout afterwards? MR. BOUCHER: I'll see what we can get you on that. Q Still on that subject, has there been any suggestion from the U.N. or from Ekeus perhaps individually -- any concern expressed about the conduct of the U.S. Marine exercises in Kuwait as exacerbating or in some way interfering with the U.N.'s ability to do its job inside Iraq? MR. BOUCHER: Not that I've heard of. Q Ambassador Perkins, testifying last week, said that in the next week -- meaning about now -- he expected to introduce in the Security Council an enforcement resolution to make Iraqi violations of Resolution 688 subject to possible use of military force by the coalition. Do you know anything about how that is progressing? MR. BOUCHER: No, I don't. I'm not really aware of anything in play at this point. I'll see if there's anything we can get you. Let's go to the back. Q Richard, two quick questions, one on the Israel technical assistance to Central Asia. I notice that Azerbaijan is not included. Is there any particular significance to that? And, secondly, could we have a copy of any of the announcements -- the official announcements of this, exchange of letters, that sort of thing? MR. BOUCHER: I think we did an official announcement last week of it and put that out. I don't know what more you're asking for. Q But you didn't have the actual agreements between the -- MR. BOUCHER: The actual agreements? Q Yes. MR. BOUCHER: I'll see what form they're in and whether there's something that we can provide, certainly. Q And what -- MR. BOUCHER: I don't know why Azerbaijan is not included. This is where -- these are the five states. Q What's the source -- Q Excuse me. What's the source of funding on that? Is that U.S. aid? MR. BOUCHER: I'd have to double-check. If it wasn't in the announcement, I don't know -- I mean, I don't know most of what was in the announcement either, but I'm falling back on it now. Q Richard, what is the latest on the Freedom Support Act? Will it be taken up by the House this week? MR. BOUCHER: We hope so. That's a matter of congressional scheduling. I don't think it's firmly scheduled, but there's an expectation that the House would vote on it this week, and, of course, our strong, firm, complete, total support for it remains as it was. Q Richard, anything new on the hunt for Escobar? MR. BOUCHER: Escobar? No. Q Richard, anything new on the deployment of to troops to Kuwait beyond what the Pentagon's been saying? MR. BOUCHER: No.

[Haiti: Supreme Court Injunction Stay Allows US to Return Boatpeople]

Q Haitian -- anything new there? MR. BOUCHER: I can review for you the Supreme Court decision and what it means, but that's about all there is that's new. August 1, 7 to 2 ruling, the Supreme Court stayed the injunction on the return of people. It allows the government to continue its repatriation policy. The Supreme Court must now decide whether it will take the case on the merits of the legality of the President's direct repatriation policy. It set a briefing schedule. The government's position is due on August 24. The Haitian Center's response, September 8. And then a decision on whether or not to hear the case is not expected from the Supreme Court until the fall. If the Court decides to take the case, the stay will remain in effect until the merits of the case are resolved. If it decides not to take the case, the stay will terminate immediately. In the meantime, the government will continue to return any Haitians picked up at sea directly to Haiti. They will not be screened or taken to Guantanamo or to the United States. We continue to urge Haitians not to go to sea in an attempt to reach the United States. The voyage is long and dangerous and many have lost their lives at sea. We urge any Haitians who believe they may qualify for refugee status to go to the United States Embassy in Port-au-Prince for consideration. In terms of what's happening, according to the latest information from the Coast Guard this morning, there have been no Haitian vessels sighted or interdicted since the Court injunction. Q One little housekeeping thing relative to -- you know, related to Baker's vacationing and so on. You -- the State Department routinely puts on its public schedule his -- what it calls his regular weekly meetings with the President on Wednesdays and Fridays, and it often answers questions about whether the Secretary of State has had contact with other Foreign Ministers. Can we expect that sort of information flow to continue during the course of his vacation if he speaks with -- what -- just to pick a name out of the hat -- a Russian Foreign Minister or something like that, could we expect a report on it here, or how would we be kept apprised of those regular contacts of that sort? MR. BOUCHER: I'm not sure we have reported on every phone conversation the Secretary has had, but when he's had significant phone conversations -- whether he was in Washington or elsewhere -- that related to something we were telling you about, then we have always mentioned them, and we expect to continue to do that. Q What about the political phone conversations now? MR. BOUCHER: I don't know what you're talking about. I do foreign policy. Q With Fred Malek or people of that sort. Q Does he have any plans to be regularly in touch with President Bush while he's on vacation? MR. BOUCHER: I'm sure he will, Ralph. He's always in touch with the President. Q Richard, can I ask one final one -- one anyway on Yugoslavia. In view of the fact that the United States is now confirming that there are such things a detention camps and torture going on at the hands of the Serbs, does the United States intend to bring this matter to the Security Council's attention so as to perhaps relieve some of the pressure on the people in those camps? MR. BOUCHER: Saul, I think Ralph asked before if there were any specific consultations going on with a view to a course of action on this. I'll have to check and see if there is anything specific like that underway. At this point I said it was an issue of deep concern to us. I'm sure it's of deep concern to many other countries, and we consult regularly with other members of the Security Council and allies about the situation. I can't imagine that we would not try to do whatever we could to relieve the pressure on the people in these camps. Q I wondered if you might take some special action, like issuing a special warning to Belgrade or trying to be a little bit more forceful than you have been from this podium on this particular issue since you're now confirming the stories that there are concentration camps. I assume the United States does not want to be put in the position that it was after the Holocaust of wondering whether it could have done more. MR. BOUCHER: Saul, if there's a failure to be forceful, ascribe it to myself. But I said we were deeply concerned about this. I said we wanted to see the ICRC get in there and take care of these people. I think we've made clear in no uncertain terms our intent to see that humanitarian problems are relieved, and that people get the help they need. Q But we do know that the ICRC -- MR. BOUCHER: If there is anything further to tell you on a specific course of action, other than our support for the ICRC getting in there, I'll try to get you something later. Q The ICRC was getting into concentration camps inside Germany and seeing what they wished to show the ICRC representatives. I'm asking if the United States Government as a matter of policy, aside from G-7, and because of what has happened in the past, is going to take some sort of action -- not military action, but at least diplomatic or political action of some force to give some comfort and support to the people inside these concentration camps. MR. BOUCHER: Saul, I will see if there's any specific list of measures I can give you. I would remind you that we have taken very forceful diplomatic and economic sanctions against the regime in Belgrade, and that we've worked over weeks and months to make sure that those are very tightly enforced. Q Richard, I was looking at this announcement you have about France and the NPT. What is the status of France and nuclear testing? Have they stopped now their testing in the Pacific? MR. BOUCHER: Better go ask the French. Q You don't -- do you remember, off the top of your head? MR. BOUCHER: Not off the top of my head. Someone say thank you? (No response) (The briefing concluded at 1:05 p.m.)