US Department of State Daily Briefing #114 Thursday, 8/6/92

Boucher Source: State Department Deputy Spokesman Richard Boucher Description: Washington, DC Date: Aug, 6 19928/6/92 Category: Briefings Region: E/C Europe, MidEast/North Africa, Subsaharan Africa Country: Yugoslavia (former), Bosnia-Herzegovina, Serbia-Montenegro, USSR (former), Iraq, South Africa, Japan Subject: Regional/Civil Unrest, Military Affairs, Development/Relief Aid, United Nations, Mideast Peace Process, Democratization, Human Rights 12:58 P.M. (ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED) MR. BOUCHER: Thank you all for waiting. I hope we got word to you in time for some of you to grab a bite to eat, or whatever you wanted to do while waiting.

[Former Yugoslavia: Reports of Detentioon Centers/Atrocities and Update on the Situation]

I thought what I'd do today is go through the various areas that we outlined in our statement yesterday and try to give you developments that have occurred overnight. Yesterday, in our statement, we listed a number of actions that we will pursue in international arenas. We're consulting closely with our allies and we're determined to pursue this issue seriously and vigorously to ensure that international observers, particularly the ICRC, get the access they need to help people who are being detained. First of all, we'll pursue in Belgrade, Zagreb, and Sarajevo the promises that Mr. Panic, President Tudjman, and President Izetbegovic made, to allow inspectors access to inspection centers. I do note that we understand that Serbian leaders in Bosnia have taken some journalists already to sites in northeastern and northwestern Bosnia today. Obviously, we welcome any and all information on these detention centers, but I need to stress once again the importance of continuous and unimpeded access by the ICRC. As far as the U.N. Human Rights Commission, we are aggressively lobbying a wide range of countries about our proposal in Washington and Geneva and in capitals. The initial reaction to our proposal for a special session has been overwhelmingly positive, and no one has yet expressed any opposition to this special session. We think this reflects that other countries share the United States' strong concern over the human rights situation in what used to be Yugoslavia. At our urging, Under Secretary General Antoine Blanca has notified the members of the Commission of the U.S. request and asked for a response as quickly as possible, within 72 hours. We don't yet know how many formal responses have been received by Under Secretary General Blanca. But if we can get the responses early, as we are trying to do, the meeting could take place as early as next week. In terms of talking to the United Kingdom, which is the Presidency country of the EC, and what the EC has done, you may have seen by now, an EC statement that was issued by the United Kingdom on behalf of the entire EC that wholeheartedly endorses the U.N. Security Council statement of August 4 and which insists that the authorities in Belgrade use their influence with the Serbs in Bosnia-Hercegovina to allow international observers immediate and unconditional access to the sites of all detention centers. We'll continue our close consultations to press forward with international coordination to address the human rights situation in Bosnia. At the CSCE, we're today instructing our CSCE delegation to make the proposal to hold a meeting with senior officials to invoke further steps of the human dimension mechanism. Our delegation in Vienna is already in touch with other delegations to ensure that we get maximum support when we make the formal proposal, and that will probably be at a meeting tomorrow. On the war crimes resolution that I said that we are developing, not a whole lot of news on that except we expect shortly to be able to share a draft resolution with other members of the Security Council. And, finally, on the resolution that we are pushing for that would authorize the use of all necessary means to ensure the delivery of humanitarian supplies, the Acting U.S. Permanent Representative, Alexander Watson, met today with the Secretary General -- that was this morning -- to discuss our draft resolution. We continue to push for a resolution which would authorize all necessary means to ensure the delivery of humanitarian assistance throughout Bosnia-Hercegovina. We're working with our key allies, and we want to see the resolution move swiftly. With that update, I'd be glad to take your questions. Q Richard, does the State Department have a position whether these U.N. folks should be armed? MR. BOUCHER: What U.N. folks? Q Well, there are two kinds of U.N. folks --- the ones that you would like to -- MR. BOUCHER: Inspectors -- Q Well, inspectors -- MR. BOUCHER: Peace-keeping troops? Q Yeah. Well, inspectors, too. Should U.N. people -- should their attempt to get unimpeded access be reinforced with some sort of show of force or some threat of force? Should there be an armed contingent with them to help them get their access? MR. BOUCHER: Barry, it's an international obligation that parties to conflicts have to allow access by the ICRC. We are pursuing that. We are pursuing getting that in a whole host of ways that we've outlined for you. All I can say at this point is, if that doesn't work out, we'll have to look for other ways of ensuring that people gain access. Q Richard, did I understand you to say that you are getting cooperation on the matter of access to the camps? MR. BOUCHER: No. There's been no -- I don't think I said that. I said we were getting a lot of support on the call for the U.N. Human Rights Commission resolution. Q I understand that. MR. BOUCHER: As far as the ICRC getting into camps that they haven't visited so far, I don't have any news on that. I haven't heard that they've gotten -- Q There was a report out of Geneva from the ICRC. MR. BOUCHER: I haven't heard that they've gotten into any new places. Q Yeah. There was a report out of Geneva from the ICRC that they were not getting any cooperation from anybody, including the Bosnians or the Croatians or the Serbians. MR. BOUCHER: As we said yesterday, we've got these promises. We're going to be following up on these promises that we got from various leaders out there. We've seen public statements by the Serbian leaders in Bosnia and others. The promises are welcomed, but what we need is real action. We will be following up. The important thing is that they do, in fact, carry out those promises by letting the ICRC have the access they need. Q On the war crimes issue, maybe your lawyers can figure an answer out if you don't have one. Doesn't the term "war crimes" by itself require a declared state of war? In other words, an atrocity, if it's committed outside of that framework, is murder which would be handled by the sovereign authority in that place. MR. BOUCHER: Jim, I'm not a lawyer. I can't answer a question like that for you. I think those kinds of details of applicability and the exact wording will have to be worked out as we prepare the resolution. Q You said you were consulting with the close allies again. Do you have the answer to the question from yesterday about whether the U.S., in its many conversations with Russia about the situation in the Balkans, has discussed the question of this resolution for use of force? And is consultation going on with them -- MR. BOUCHER: I'm afraid that's not a question I can give you an answer to, Ralph. Q Richard, can you describe Russia's position, generally? Because there's some suggestion that maybe Russia isn't totally in agreement with the U.S. MR. BOUCHER: I'd let Russia describe its own position. Q Why can't you give an answer to that? MR. BOUCHER: I think normally, Ralph, we've not tried to specify exactly who we're talking to when -- Q You just say "key allies." MR. BOUCHER: -- other than to do it in general terms. Q Well, is Russia considered one of the key allies? MR. BOUCHER: I've never heard them described that way. Q So it's fair for us to conclude that the U.S. has not consulted on that subject? MR. BOUCHER: I don't want to get into specifying exactly who we have talked to and who we haven't at any given point. Q Richard, if I heard you correctly, you said "We're continuing to push for the resolution authorizing all necessary means." MR. BOUCHER: Yes. Q When did we start pushing? MR. BOUCHER: We've, of course, supported such a resolution for some time. We feel that the events of the last few days have given it a new urgency, particularly the suspension of the airport. We've had close consultations with various allies for several weeks. I can't give you a sort of specific acceleration date, but I would say in the last few days our consultations have accelerated. We've made it very clear that we want to proceed forthwith. Q Is the outlook better than it -- MR. BOUCHER: I can't do a prediction at this point, Mark. Q Can you say what the Administration would want of Congress, if anything? Do you have a position on, you know, resolutions? MR. BOUCHER: At this point, I'm not aware that we've asked for anything particular of the Congress. There was a resolution that the Senate had yesterday that I think they sent back to the Foreign Relations Committee. There may be other committees interested. I just saw a wire that said the Foreign Relations Committee has something. But until we know what the final text is, I don't think I'll be able to comment. Q Richard, the first reports of these camps came out maybe a month ago or so. Why did the United States wait a month to take this sort of diplomatic action? Wasn't even a hint of that type of activity enough to call for this level of involvement? MR. BOUCHER: Sid, that's a question, really, sort of "What information have we had and why has it led to this point where we are at this week," that we addressed yesterday. I think I described the increasing number and definition of reports and charges that have come out in the last week, including those reports and statements by the parties themselves. As you know, the ICRC, since July 7, has been trying to get into camps and has gotten into some camps. But through a variety of reasons, their access has been blocked. So I think it's a combination of their not being able to get in, and the more specific information about what might be occurring in those places. Q Was the U.S. aware, prior to today or yesterday, about the Human Rights Commission's report, that the Human Rights Commission representative in New York has just publicly confirmed today the report that they say they issued on July 3 and circulated to the ICRC and other international organizations? Was the U.S. aware of that in which it detailed conditions, at least, since some -- MR. BOUCHER: I hadn't seen that confirmed, that they had a report to something of July 3, or something like that. Q -- just did a news conference at the U.N. a short while ago. MR. BOUCHER: I wasn't there. I was somewhere else. Q I understand that. Was the U.S. aware of that report? MR. BOUCHER: I'm not aware of an early July report. I've checked around a little bit because there was some vague references to things this morning in the press that we were trying to check out, and I couldn't find anybody that said they had a copy of it. But I think I better check more, if we know exactly what it is now. Q And can you tell us a little bit more, now that you've had a chance to look back over this in the last few days, at what level the reporting has been from U.S. personnel in Zagreb and in Belgrade, for example, to the State Department? How early did those officials convey to the U.S. -- to the State Department -- information of any kind about places that have been subsequently called "concentration camps?" Niles referred to them as "death camps" the other day on the Hill. How soon did that reporting begin here? MR. BOUCHER: Ralph, since the fighting started in Bosnia, or erupted in Bosnia, which was -- what -- about April, maybe March, we've been regularly reporting -- both our foreign service posts have reported and we have reported to you -- on the fighting, on activities such as "ethnic cleansing," on the forcing of people out of their homes, on the holding of people hostage, and a lot of other horrors that have gone on. Specific references to things like concentration camps, I don't know exactly when those first charges were made by any of the parties. But I think the thing that is noteworthy is that those charges and counter-charges have been made. But there is also other information being made available, as I said, by journalists, sometimes by the parties, and other groups, much more recently, that gives some definition to this. There are, I think, always people being detained. I think if you look back earlier to what the ICRC was able to accomplish early in the beginning, they found groups of people that were being held hostage and they were able to get them released or arrange swaps, and things like that. I think there have always been people caught up in the fighting or detained in one way or the other. The question that's facing us now is what's going on in specific detention centers that are being operated. Q How do you respond to the notion that is circulating in the last couple of days that the United States Government and the United Nations, for that matter, has reacted slowly to these reports? As you said a moment ago, wouldn't you have wanted to react at even the first hint of these kinds of activities? MR. BOUCHER: Ralph, I think we have reacted strongly. We have reacted consistently, and we have reacted for some time to these kinds of atrocities, violence, reports of various horrors that have come out of the fighting in Bosnia. I think we have reminded people in the press very frequently about the practice of "ethnic cleansing" and all the things that have gone with that, in terms of trying to expel people from villages and detaining people because of their ethnic origin, and things like that. I do have to say again that I'm not aware that before recent days that there were very specific allegations of what may be occurring in some of these detention centers. Q Richard, to follow that up, could you take the question of what knowledge existed in this building about detention camps as far back as early July, and try to come forward with as complete an account as possible? MR. BOUCHER: I think I have tried to answer that question three times today, two times in yesterday's briefing, and at least once or twice the day before. I really don't see how I can get any more for you, Mark. Q Just to follow that up. Would we be likely to get a more complete accounting through a written FOI request, do you think? MR. BOUCHER: I don't know, Mark. Q The question is, if -- MR. BOUCHER: I'll see if there's anything more that we can do. There have been a variety of charges and counter-charges made by various parties throughout this conflict. There has not necessarily always been substantiated information of things. I don't know when the various parties started referring to places of detention as concentration camps, or exactly when people started trying to give more definition to what may be going on there. But, certainly, we've been aware of the variety of charges and counter-charges that have been made, and we've been aware of many of the very abhorrent practices that have been taking place. We've condemned them, and we've taken action to try to help people that are in need and to try to bring pressure on the parties that are perpetrating violence and perpetrating the horrors to try to make them stop it. Q Richard, from our perspective, we had yesterday the U.S. Government calling on the U.N. Human Rights Commission to engage in some special activity in this situation. Obviously, the United States Government places some considerable weight in the U.N. Human Rights Commission's activities and its responsibility in this matter. It now appears that that same Commission issued some sort of -- compiled some sort of a report on this very subject and made it available to several international organizations on July 3. From our perspective, it looks like, well, wait a minute, the U.S. is waiting from July 3 -- there was this first report; maybe the U.S. didn't know about it. That's what we're asking. MR. BOUCHER: Again, I said I will check and see if we have some specific July 3 report from the U.N. Human Rights Commission on this subject of detention centers. Q I just wonder whether the U.S. knew of that report. If the U.S. knew of that report, whether it had it or not. MR. BOUCHER: The question is also, Ralph, what's in that report? That, I think, you'll have to get from the U.N. -- did they have kind of specific information that we've seen emerge more recently? At this point, I haven't seen it so I don't know. Q Speaking of the United Nations, I think you said the Acting U.S. Representative. Where is Ambassador Perkins? MR. BOUCHER: My understanding is he's on official travel. He's visiting various capitals in what is normally scheduled at this time of year, and that's consultations with other governments about the upcoming U.N. General Assembly sessions. Q It's not related to the Yugoslavian situation? MR. BOUCHER: I expect he is discussing Yugoslavia as one of the issues before the U.N., but that's a regular annual consultation that our U.N. Ambassador normally does. Q Richard, on the use-of-force resolution, what kind of activity does the United States foresee itself doing under that resolution? MR. BOUCHER: It's not a question that I can answer at this point. It's not a question that I will eventually answer. It's a question the President will have to decide. He has already spoken of his willingness to use naval and air assets to support the -- to help ensure the delivery of humanitarian supplies, if that's appropriate and helpful. Q If we've exhausted Yugoslavia, could we move on to Iraq? Q Not quite. Barry raised the question yesterday of broadening the definition of "humanitarian relief." As the resolution on the use of force moves forward, is that being considered, and can you say anything about that? MR. BOUCHER: I'm not aware that the resolution has changed in any essential terms at this point. I can't exactly predict how it will turn out in the end, but at this point it's a resolution that has to do with ensuring the delivery of humanitarian relief supplies, which is a very, very important thing, and that there are many people that need these supplies. We've been delivering tons and tons through the airport. The airport's now closed for 72 hours. Q I don't suppose you would want to share with us the U.S. view of what the draft resolution ought to -- what the resolution ought to say, and would you -- MR. BOUCHER: No. Not right now. Q What is the situation on the ground in Yugoslavia, especially around Sarajevo? MR. BOUCHER: Media reports indicate that Serbian and Bosnian sides have engaged in simultaneous offensives around Sarajevo over the past few days. These media reports also indicate that Serbian forces are using heavy artillery, tank cannon, multiple rocket launchers, heavy mortars and anti-aircraft guns to fire into the city, and that shelling was very heavy overnight. The Sarajevo water supply system is not in operation. Water has not been available to most of the city for two days. Water trucks are bringing supplies to some key facilities such as hospitals. On Tuesday, the U.N. Protective Force closed the airport for 72 hours because of the heavy fighting. It's not clear when the airport will be able to reopen. We also understand that yesterday the U.N. Protective Force stopped a land convoy outside of Sarajevo because of security reasons -- safety reasons. Elsewhere in Bosnia, we have periodic intense shelling and fighting that continues in many areas outside of Sarajevo. Fighting is particularly heavy in the north-central area and in the southernmost part of Bosnia near Croatia. Serbian forces continue to attack Bosnian and Croatian positions along the north-central corridor that links Serbian-controlled areas of Croatia and Serbia. Western media sources on the ground have told Embassy officers in Belgrade that Serbian aircraft have repeatedly flown bombing missions against civilian targets in Bosnia over the last several days. We condemn and deplore such attacks. Serbian civilian and military authorities should ensure that no offensive air operations take place in Bosnia. And just because I made reference to it, let me give you sort of where we stood on the flights and were we stand on the convoys at this moment. As you know, the airlift was suspended August 5. Prior to that suspension the airlift had completed 523 flights over a 32-day period. 6,490 metric tons of food and medicines have been delivered to date. Of course, that's not the end of it. We hope to be able to recommence that. On convoys, the U.N. and its humanitarian agencies have committed themselves to make every effort to deliver relief supplies to Sarajevo by land. UNHCR and Split reports that they are planning to resume convoys to Sarajevo and to Mostar. Convoys were postponed yesterday because of the security situation. The road to Dubrovnik has been reopened to relief shipments as well, and UNHCR Zagreb is planning a convoy to Bihac on Saturday, August 8. That convoy will carry 12 tons of bulk food and one-and-a-half truckloads of medical supplies. That's the basic update. Q The report on these bombing raids would pretty well destroy the cover story that the fighting is being carried out by partisan guerrillas and not by the Yugoslavian Army. Is that not the case? MR. BOUCHER: Well, not many people out there have aircraft. These are Serbian aircraft that are conducting bombing missions, and it's well within the power of Belgrade to control and stop it. Q Richard, you said yesterday that one of the measures we were taking was to try to tighten up the embargo. MR. BOUCHER: Yes. Q You said we would be sending -- it wasn't clear to me -- you said we would be sending people to Romania or -- MR. BOUCHER: I think I mentioned yesterday that the Romanians have -- first of all, we have been working with the Romanians, with our allies, with the U.N., all around to tighten sanctions compliance. As I said, we've been recently working closely with the Government of Romania. I mentioned yesterday that the Romanians in fact came forth to the NAC-C for a -- with a request about providing monitors to help them in ensuring compliance and enforcement of the sanctions from Romania. The Government of Romania has made this invitation to international monitors. Various countries, we understand, are in touch with the Romanians about providing monitors, and we expect -- we hope to bring it all together in a meeting of the NAC-C in about ten days. Q So it's fair to assume that the Romanian border has not been as tight as everyone would like it to be? MR. BOUCHER: Let's just say that it's fair to assume that it could be tighter. We want to ensure it's as tight as possible. If you look back at Tom Niles' testimony on Tuesday, I think he reported that due to the efforts that we've made this month, the shipments that were going up the Danube and through that part were down considerably. The Romanian Government has taken important steps to enforce the sanctions and has asked that they get some more help in making them as tight as possible, and that's something we certainly want to see happen. Q All right. You were asked about the Danube some weeks ago, and I believe the question was taken. In any case, there was no response, so we don't know anything about illegal shipments up the Danube River. Now, obviously, we do know something about it. When did we start -- when did we become aware of that, and what -- who's doing it, and what's going up or down river? MR. BOUCHER: Well, I think I'd refer you to Niles' testimony on Tuesday. I think he went through that at some extent in front of the Congress. Q One little detail on -- Q (Inaudible) Q I'm sorry. Go ahead. Q Do you have a situationer on Kosovo? MR. BOUCHER: No. I don't have anything new on Kosovo. Q O.K. The other thing I was curious about is whether you have any comment on the Russians recognizing Macedonia. MR. BOUCHER: The Russians have told us that they intend to do this, but our positions remain the same. Q I believe that you had -- that you let them know that it was not your preference. MR. BOUCHER: Well, I mean, I think they're aware of our position. I don't know if we repeated it to them or not. But, as I said, the Russians have informed us, I guess, that they have recognized Macedonia. So I'm not sure it was in advance. Our position is that we support the EC in its effort to resolve Macedonia recognition issues between Greece and Macedonia. We take Greece's concerns seriously and are prepared to support any solution which is acceptable to both the EC and Macedonia. That's where we stand. Q A detail on the collection of war crimes information. How is the U.S. going to handle that? Will the State Department compile that stuff, or will DoD do it, or do you know? MR. BOUCHER: I don't know at this point. Let's go to the back. Q Richard, what's the U.S. position on establishing a security zone in Bosnia-Herzegovina? MR. BOUCHER: I'm not quite sure what you're referring to as a "security zone." Q Like -- for instance, like you have in northern Iraq. Does the U.S. have a position on that? MR. BOUCHER: I'm not aware of any proposal like that, so I'm not sure we've taken any position. Q That wouldn't be a subject on the 26th in London? MR. BOUCHER: You might ask the hosts of the conference if they intend to propose something like that. I'm not aware that anybody has proposed that at this point. Q Maybe this has been covered in the last few days. I don't know if it has. Is there a U.S. position on force -- whether U.S. force would be applied only multilaterally? Is that the U.S. position? MR. BOUCHER: The U.S. position on force is the position that the President has expressed several times in the last few days, and I think most recently yesterday morning. Q Well, I don't have a copy of USA Today, and I was out of town. Q I'll get you one! (Laughter) MR. BOUCHER: Maybe one of your colleagues can help or maybe C-Span will re-run it. Q What is this -- I mean, is there a position on -- as in Iraq where multilateral -- is it the same position? MR. BOUCHER: Barry, I'm going to leave it to the President to -- Q Or is he just not ruling things out today? MR. BOUCHER: Barry, I will leave this to the President to express. I don't think it's for me to go and get a copy of USA Today for you, but I'm sure somebody else will be glad to. Q Well, if he hasn't said it, is there a position on a cease-fire? Is the U.S. in -- is the State Department in favor of a cease-fire in Bosnia? MR. BOUCHER: In Bosnia? Q Yes. MR. BOUCHER: Absolutely. I mean, we've been -- Q You are. Well, if you're in favor of a cease-fire in Bosnia -- MR. BOUCHER: I mean, any end to the violence and cease-fires. Q Well, wouldn't that lock in Serbian control of some large proportion of the country? Wouldn't it lock the situation in place? MR. BOUCHER: Barry, we are in favor of a cease-fire and a political solution that's negotiated peacefully by the parties. Q Well, let's see if we can go beyond that. Various commentators, writing in various publications, you know -- I don't know what their source is, or sources are -- but they're suspicious of the U.S. position, suggesting that the U.S. ultimately will be for the cantonization of Bosnia; that the U.S. has given up on the notion of Bosnia recovering all its territory; and that a cease-fire -- supporting a cease-fire in effect supports the ground gains that the Serbians have made; that the Bosnians will end up with something less than the country that they thought they were declaring independent and that the U.S. supported. That's a lot to say all at once, but I'm trying to do it piecemeal. If you're in favor of a cease-fire, that doesn't mean you're in favor of the status quo? MR. BOUCHER: Barry, as I just said, we are in favor of a cease-fire and a political solution that is negotiated peacefully by the parties themselves. Q Well, how can the Bosnians negotiate a peaceful solution when the other guys have all the clubs? What does that mean? MR. BOUCHER: Barry, it means that the solution has to be negotiated peacefully, and I'm not here to impose any particular solution on anyone. Q Well, that's like saying the Sudeten should have been -- you know, resolved by the Germans and the Czechs, or whatever, peacefully. I mean, I'm not saying it's the same thing, but these are not equally -- MR. BOUCHER: Barry, I'm not going to start engaging through you in a debate -- Q No, no. Richard, I'm not arguing with you. I'm asking the State Department -- you're the standard for the State Department. I'm trying to figure out what the State Department stands for, and the only thing I can figure out that they stand for is access to see what types of atrocities -- reported atrocities are going on. But I'm trying to figure out what their political solution is. MR. BOUCHER: Barry, let me put it this way. Q Do they have a position? MR. BOUCHER: The position is the one that I've stated, that we have stated consistently, that's been stated by people much senior and more important than me. I think the alternative to supporting a cease-fire is to support the continuation of further violence, and I think we've made it very clear that we do not support the continuation of further violence. Q Well, there's a cease-fire/withdrawal, there's cease-fire/get the trucks out, there's cease-fire/get your artillery out, there's cease-fire/stop providing the gasoline that supports this war. A cease-fire is only -- sometimes is only part of this -- MR. BOUCHER: There's a cease-fire to stop killing people, and that's what we've been in favor of. Q Exactly, but there are other things. Sometimes there are other demands that are made. Stop killing people is usually a beginning, but it sometimes seals the fate of a doomed people to also stop killing them, and that's the end of it, and they're dead. MR. BOUCHER: Barry, I'm sorry. I just really don't have anything more to say on that. Q Can I ask you in a different way? Do we support the withdrawal of all non-foreign forces from Bosnia, as we do from (inaudible)? Some people are (inaudible). MR. BOUCHER: We have consistently expressed our view, I think, that all forces in Bosnia should be under the legitimate authority of the Bosnia Government and should do what the Bosnian Government asks them to do, whatever that is. Q Richard, has there been any consideration given to lifting the arms embargo on the Bosnians if we aren't willing to provide them with military assistance, perhaps in terms of our own soldiers, perhaps we could give their soldiers some additional firepower? Has that been considered? MR. BOUCHER: I know that idea is out there. I think there have been statements, requests, by the Bosnians about that. Our position is that we don't want to do anything that would only lead to more violence and bloodshed. Q Now may I ask my two quickies: First of all, did you have anything now that the demonstrations or strikes are over in South Africa or on De Klerk's proposal to meet with Mandela again? MR. BOUCHER: No, I don't. I can give you a copy of the press conference that Hank Cohen did a day or so ago when he left South Africa after consulting with the parties. I think our support for the resumption of the talks is clear. In his discussions, as he said, he found that there was indeed support by the parties for the idea of resuming the talks, although at this point we can't say when that might happen. Q I see. Anything new on Iraq? They've again threatened today to give the U.N. inspectors a difficult time going into government ministry buildings. Q Yes. They actually said they can't go in government ministry buildings. MR. BOUCHER: I would say we saw that report shortly before I came down this morning. If that does turn out to be their intention, that would clearly create a very serious situation. That would be unacceptable under the U.N. resolutions. The U.N. resolutions, as you know, provide that the inspectors should be able to determine what sites they need to inspect -- any time, any place. Q Have you communicated that officially to them -- to their government? MR. BOUCHER: I think we've said it so many times they're very familiar with that, including the fact that that is what is in U.N. resolutions that they previously accepted, so I don't know that we've made any new communications in some statement they may have made a couple of hours ago. No. Q Do you have any theory why they're taking that stand again now? MR. BOUCHER: You'll have to ask them. Q Richard, do you happen to know if indeed any ministries are on the list for inspection. It may well be they aren't. MR. BOUCHER: That would be something for the inspectors to answer. Q Another topic: The Freedom Support Act is apparently going to come up for a vote in the House today, and maybe at this time. Can you comment on reports that the Administration made some deals on domestic matters, to move forward in certain domestic things in order to unlock the bill and get it moved to the floor? MR. BOUCHER: I hadn't heard any such reports. I'd suggest you might check with the White House.

[Japan: Northern Territories Dispute with Russia]

Q Richard, has the United States been asked to participate as a mediator or in some other way in the discussions between Russia and Japan over what the Japanese call the Northern Territories? MR. BOUCHER: We have, I think, previously expressed our strong support for the Japanese position. They have just completed another round of discussions in Tokyo, and obviously this is a territorial dispute that we see as a very important problem, and we'd like to see it resolved. I'm not aware that we've been asked to mediate in some way. There was, I think, a news conference by the Deputy Prime Minister of Russia. We don't have the text of that yet, but certainly our position has been that what President Bush, I think, said in Moscow last year, that we support the Japanese position on the Northern Territories, and we want to help both sides resolve it. Q But so far all you know about whatever the Russians are proposing is what was said at this news conference. MR. BOUCHER: Press reports of the news conference that we haven't seen a text of yet. As far as I know, that's all we know. Q Have you had responses from the Arabs and the Israelis on the peace talks? MR. BOUCHER: We don't have all the responses yet. Q Do you have a date yet for that discussion or the talks? MR. BOUCHER: What we've proposed about a week ago was that they convene in Washington on August 24. We don't have all the responses yet, although I think you've seen that some of the parties have already made public statements. Q Has the United States supported Israel's idea of having the talks continuous? MR. BOUCHER: I think the Secretary said a number of times he thought that was a good idea. Q Did the invitation to the current round include that? MR. BOUCHER: I don't know. At this point I've been asked not to go into any more detail until we get the acceptances, and then we'll tell you a little more about the questions like that. Q Do you think the doors will remain open? MR. BOUCHER: Certainly, I would say we'd never put a closing bookend on it. Remember? We have not in past rounds ever told the parties that, "Your time's up; it's time to go home." So I can't imagine that we would do that. Q Do you have any comment on Ann Devroy's piece in the Post today, suggesting that Mr. Baker plans to empty the offices of his closest advisers and take them elsewhere outside the State Department? MR. BOUCHER: I actually haven't read it, so, no, I don't, and -- Q You'll find it amusing. You should read it. MR. BOUCHER: I'll find it amusing. Well, thank you, Ralph, I'm looking for amusement. Q And Mr. Baker out on the ranch -- what's his input, if any -- Q Fish count. Q -- to this evolving dynamic policy? MR. BOUCHER: No fish count, and no specifics on our discussions or anyone's discussions with the Secretary at this point. Q I mean, he's not in touch with anybody -- any of these foreign dignitaries on these various consensus things you're trying to do. He doesn't make phone calls to call friends while -- MR. BOUCHER: I'm not aware he's made any phone calls. Q Then what about Mr. Eagleburger? MR. BOUCHER: I'm sure he's in touch with Eagleburger all the time, but I'd leave it to them. I think their conversations, as far as I'm concerned, are private. Q Can you tell us anything about Eagleburger's activities on this subject? Has he been in touch with any officials of other governments or anything to request action? MR. BOUCHER: I didn't ask him this morning. I asked him yesterday afternoon, and the answer was, no, not at that point. I don't think so is my answer at this point. Q Thank you. (The briefing concluded at 1:35 p.m.)