US Department of State Daily Briefing #119 Monday, 8/31/92

Boucher Source: State Department Deputy Spokesman Richard Boucher Description: Washington, DC Date: Aug, 31 19928/31/92 Category: Briefings Region: E/C Europe, MidEast/North Africa Country: Yugoslavia (former), Bosnia-Herzegovina, Serbia-Montenegro, USSR (former), Iraq, Somalia, Lebanon Subject: Regional/Civil Unrest, Military Affairs, Development/Relief Aid, United Nations, Mideast Peace Process, Immigration, CSCE, State Department, Arms Control l2:40 P.M. (ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED) MR. BOUCHER: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. I'd like to start out, if I can, with a few announcements and then run through an update on former Yugoslavia and then do a brief update on Somalia and then take your question. The first is -- what we call "housekeeping" -- we'll be resuming our schedule of regular daily midday briefings here this week; so you can expect briefings this week on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday -- and I think we'll cancel it on Friday in view of the long weekend. But, basically, we're going to go back to the regular schedule since August is almost over -- Q The noon briefing? MR. BOUCHER: -- unless enough of you ask otherwise that we change our minds. I'm always happy to change my mind on that point. Q This is the noon briefing, we call it. MR. BOUCHER: This is the noon brief. Q The midday, as we call it. MR. BOUCHER: As we call it, the "noon" briefing. (Laughter) Second of all, we have the weekly update on assistance effort for the New Independent States, we'll do that one in writing this week and you can get it in the Press Office after here.

[Former Yugoslavia: Situation Update]

Now, if I can, let me run through various updates on former Yugoslavia, trying to hit high points of where we are and the various initiatives that we launched over the past several weeks and a few things about the London Conference that I'd like to mention. First, as far as fighting goes, we understand that Sarajevo was quiet on Monday morning after heavy fighting over the weekend. It's based on press reports. There was a French soldier killed in a mortar attack on an UNPROFOR facility in Sarajevo on August 28th. According to UNPROFOR, three additional French peacekeepers were injured on on August 29th. Despite the fighting, the airlift proceeded over the weekend -- l8 flights on Saturday, August 29th; and l6 flights on August 30th. There are 20 flights that are scheduled for today. We don't have any reports of clashes in Croatia today. On convoys, our Embassy in Zagreb reports a convoy of 5 trucks left Zagreb today for Bihac. The convoy scheduled to depart today for Gorazde has been delayed until Wednesday. I think you're aware of the press reports that that is because of fighting around Gorazde. The London Conference, just to review briefly: The Steering Committee was established by the London Conference. They will meet in Geneva on September 3rd. We anticipate that the Steering Committee, in which the U.S. will participate, will establish in more detail the program of work for the Working Groups. The London Conference established 6 Working Groups, which are to meet in continuous session -- one on Bosnia-Herzegovina, one on Humanitarian Issues, one on Ethnic and National Communities and Minorities, one on Succession Issues, one on Economic Issues, and one on Confidence and Security-Building and Verification Measures. the Working Groups will consist of representatives of the United Nations, the EC, and the parties to the conflict. And I won't, at this point, review all the other results of the London Conference because I think Acting Secretary Eagleburger did that in various appearances in London and over the weekend. On one issue of the heavy-weapons identification and monitoring, there's a senior U.N. official -- Marrack Goulding -- who's traveling to Sarajevo. He's supposed to be there by September 3rd, and he'll be addressing that issue more directly with the parties. He's going to seek their agreement on steps to implement the conference decisions, to identify within 96 hours the heavy weapons, and to disengage them from the battlefront. Q Richard, just a clarification on that one single point. When does this 96-hour countdown begin? MR. BOUCHER: Let me tell you that the London Conference gave the forces under the command of Bosnian-Serb leader Karadzic 96 hours to notify the U.N. of the mortars and heavy weapons. These forces have 7 days to group the weapons around 4 places: Sarajevo, Bihac, Jajce, and Gorazde. And in response to the question -- you asked the question about when does the 96 hours begin -- that's something that has to be determined by the United Nations, and you'll have to ask them. Q Richard -- MR. BOUCHER: I can't give you that. Q Wait a minute. So then the 96 hours hasn't begun. It was our impression at the conference that it began as of the declaration. MR. BOUCHER: I know the question was asked at the conference, Alan. I am not in a position to answer it for you today. I don't know exactly when it begins, and that's something that the U.N. has to determine. Q But it has not begun. That much you do know, right? MR. BOUCHER: Again, Ralph, you have to ask the U.N. that. I'm sorry, but it's -- Q Not only do you not know when it begins; you don't know whether -- it may already be running, is that what you're saying? MR. BOUCHER: The answer, Ralph, is I don't have the answer for you. I'm sorry, but we just don't have it. You'll have to get it from the U.N. Whether they believe it's already started with the arrangements that were agreed to in London, or whether they believe that further arrangements are required before they can start the clock, is something they'll have to identify. And, as I said, the U.N. -- Q What is the U.S. view of that issue? MR. BOUCHER: The U.S. view is that that's something that the United Nations has to determine. Q Well, O.K., but -- MR. BOUCHER: Can I finish the sentence, please? The other part of this is that the U.N. is actively following up on this point. There were many other important points at the London Conference which are being followed as well in Geneva, but the U.N. is actively following up on this point by sending Marrack Goulding to Sarajevo to pin down the arrangements for this. Q Was there to be an arrangement for border surveillance to -- MR. BOUCHER: There were a whole number of arrangements that came out of the London Conference -- Q I know there were others as well. MR. BOUCHER: -- and, as you know, the point of the London conference was to get a permanent process that will focus attention and focus pressure on seeing things happen; and there were a number of specific arrangements on tightening sanctions, on sending border monitors and monitors to hot spots, on getting negotiations going again, and a whole host of other areas -- which I can review for you, if you want me to. Q The Bosnians were very eager to have border surveillance, also get some weapons; but has the surveillance begun? MR. BOUCHER: I don't believe that any monitors have been sent to the border areas as of yet. That is something that the Geneva people will be working on and seeing that implemented as soon as possible. Q Well, just coming back to this 96 hours -- MR. BOUCHER: Yes. Q -- since it was hailed by Mr. Major as one of the biggest achievements of the conference and since Secretary Eagleburger said in his press conference that that was the one element that gave hope to the people of Sarajevo and other towns, that their sufferings would be eased, if the 96 hours had begun as of Major's appearance it would be up in about 2 hours from now, I believe. So could we take it as read that the 96 hours hasn't begun? MR. BOUCHER: Again, Alan, you can take it that you've got to check with the United Nations on it. As I said, there was agreement to an arrangement in London -- there was an agreement to the process that involves following up and keeping people's feet to the fire to make sure they do the things that they committed to. The United Nations is following up by sending somebody out to work on the precise arrangements; but whether they think that they can invoke the clock at this point or at some point at London where the basic arrangement was agreed to, or whether they think that they have to get more detailed arrangements worked out before they can start the clock, is a question that they have to answer. Q And would you say that you're encouraged by developments since the conference or not encouraged by it? MR. BOUCHER: I would say that we're encouraged by the results of the conference. We're encouraged by the determination by the conference participants to continue working on this and set up a process that focuses pressure; and I would say that we're, you know, encouraged by the fact that the parties agreed to these various measures in London. But one of the key elements of London was not just to take another ceasefire declaration or another declaration of some other rights and everybody holds their hands and goes home; but it was, rather, to get a process that will bring the pressure on the parties to fulfill these commitments. Q Well, since the conference there have been two particularly bloodthirsty attacks on civilians in Sarajevo with great loss of life. Have you nothing to say about those, in light of the conference? MR. BOUCHER: I think we think those attacks are horrible. I think we have commented in the past, and certainly these kind of attacks are horrible. But I invite you to see what Secretary Eagleburger and Brent Scowcroft said over the weekend and what they said during the conference. We're not able to promise that that conference would solve all the problems. Q I was going to ask you that. MR. BOUCHER: We didn't going into that conference thinking that the problems would be able to be solved overnight. We went into that conference thinking that we needed to get something that would continue to bring pressure, that would focus the energies of the outside world as well as the energies of the parties to doing the kind of things that are necessary to alleviate the suffering. And so we got results from the conference that establish a permanent process. We got agreement to things like monitors, sanctions enforcement, an expanded role of humanitarian deliveries, and a permanent process to see that those things happen, and to see that we can effectively keep people's feet to the fire. Q A somewhat different version of Alan's question: Have you seen anything -- any change in Serbian behavior since these measures were approved? MR. BOUCHER: You know, there are reports from the Bosnian Serbs that they have withdrawn from around Gorazde. There are also reports from the Bosnian Government side that say that broke through. We're not, at this point, able to confirm any of that. Q O.K. MR. BOUCHER: And I can't tell you -- I don't think we've seen any change in the status of heavy weapons. Can I finish the update on some of the other subjects we had floating? Q Sure. MR. BOUCHER: On access by the International Red Cross -- International Committee of the Red Cross -- to detention centers, we understand that there's a small assistance convoy with ICRC delegates that will be visiting a detention center at Sokolac, about 30 kilometers northeast of Sarajevo, today. We also understand that the ICRC will meet with Serb forces on Tuesday to to negotiate the release of prisoners in the Manjaca Detention Center. As you know, one of the mandates of the London Conference was to work urgently on the closing of the camps. The UNHRC -- the U.N. Human Rights Commission Rapporteur -- presented a 20-page report to the members of the U.N. Human Rights Commission. He circulated that report, and we're examining the report in detail. We applaud the Special Rapporteur, Mr. Mazowiecki, for reacting to the urgency of the situation by producing this substantive report so quickly, as was requested by the Special Session. The Special Rapporteur reached several important conclusions based on his team's fact-finding mission to the region August 2l to 26: -- first of all, that there have been massive violations of human rights throughout the territory of Bosnia-Herzegovina. -- second, that there are perpetrators and victims on all sides, but the situation of the Muslim population is particularly tragic. -- third, that the rule of law no longer exists in Bosnia-Herzegovina, since acts of violence are tolerated and often even encouraged by responsible authorities. He had several recommendations. As I said, we're taking a close look at those. Among the recommendations are the immediate neutralization of all heavy weapons on the territory of Bosnia-Herzegovina, under the supervision of UNPROFOR if necessary; and increasing the size of the UNPROFOR contingent and expanding its mandate. He also noted his intention to make further visits to the former Yugoslavia, to places that he could not reach during his short initial visit, as well as to sites in Bosnia-Herzegovina which require follow-up investigation. The CSCE Rapporteur mission on detention camps is headed by Sir John Thompson. They flew from London to Zagreb on August 29th. The mission is operating in two groups and visiting camps in the former Yugoslavia. Both groups will have completed their visits and return by September 4 to London, where they will prepare their report. Two U.S. representatives are participating in the mission: Ambassador Kenneth Blackwell, and Mr. John Zerolis. On the long-term monitoring in Macedonia, on August 28th we advised the CSCE Steering Group that Ambassador Robert Frowick will head this CSCE monitoring mission. He will put together a multinational CSCE team for the mission and proceed to Skopje in early September. On the long-term missions to Kosovo, Vojvodina, and Sandzak, the Norwegian Ambassador -- Tore Bogh -- will head the long-term missions. He is consulting with the CSCE Steering Group in Vienna on September 3rd, and he will go on to Belgrade shortly thereafter -- immediately thereafter -- and we do plan to participate in these missions as well. The CSCE will oversee these missions through the Steering Group that they have set up. Now, that's the update on Yugoslavia; and I can go into Somalia right away, if you want me to, and then we'll move on to any questions you might have.

[Somalia: Update]

Q Yes. Why don't you go on to Somalia? MR. BOUCHER: O.K. In Somalia, the U.S. military airlift of emergency food supplies into Somalia began on Friday, August 28th. Between August 28th and August 30th, there were ll flights into Belet Weyne, Somalia, to deliver nearly l00 metric tons of relief supplies. The summary of the airlift operations is as follows: -- On Friday, there were 4 flights and 34 metric tons delivered. -- On Saturday, there were 3 flights and 26.5 metric tons delivered. -- and Sunday there were 4 flights and 39 metric tons delivered. -- Defense Department is projecting a total of 5 flights into Belet Weyne today, but the actual schedule is not available at this moment. U.S. airlift operations between the Kenyan port of Mombasa and the relief staging base at Wajir, Kenya, were suspended after yesterday's flights because the the stocks in Wajir are sufficient. The flights will resume when refugee food stocks at Wajir need to be replenished. Since August 2l, a total of 88 flights have been made from Mombasa to Wajir and more than l567 metric tons of relief supplies have been stockpiled at the Wajir site. The amount of food in the pipeline is presently sufficient. And those are the updates, and now I'll be glad to take any other questions you have. Q You have another difficult area: Iraq. I just wondered if you detected any action on the ground since the "no-fly zone" went into effect? Are the Iraqis behaving? MR. BOUCHER: I don't have anything new on the ground. I think General Scowcroft addressed it to some extent yesterday. He said there was no activity which could be taken as opposition. I'm not aware of any offensive movements of troops by the Iraqis at this point. Q Do you have any comment on the statements made by or made for President Saddam Husayn yesterday challenging the measures? MR. BOUCHER: No, not really. Q Richard, do you share the idea that there is a kind of duality of reaction from Iraq -- verbal reaction, and real reaction of not challenging the orders of the Alliance? MR. BOUCHER: I'm not going to try to do any grand analysis of this. at this point. The "no-fly zone" was announced on Thursday. Certainly, Iraq has made a number of threats; and, certainly, I believe our people are prepared for whatever might happen. But I think it's a little early to try to do any analysis.

[Iraq: Reported Clashes between PKK and Turkish Troops]

Q What happened while things are so nice and quiet down in the south? Things up in the north are not quiet at all; people are getting killed, people are getting bombed with cross-border fighting. Does the State Department have a view of what's going on between Turkey and Kurdish rebels as they're described? MR. BOUCHER: I think, certainly, Barry, you're familiar with our views on the PKK. It's a terrorist organization. We've spoken of it before. And since l983 we have discussed the PKK in our Annual Report on Terrorism. There are, indeed, reports of fighting between the PKK rebels and Turkish troops near the town of Semdinli, near the border with Iran. As you know, we've consistently expressed our condemnation of terrorist groups like the PKK. We've urged the Turkish Government to continue efforts to improve its human rights record and to find a solution to the problems in southeast Turkey based on security and political elements. But at this point I don't have any further information about the specific attack. Q Was there a bombing raid? MR. BOUCHER: Yes. I've also heard that there were wire reports this morning of Turkish bombing raids. Q Does the U.S. have a position? I mean sometimes -- MR. BOUCHER: We've expressed our position on that before. It's similar to what I just told you about, certainly, we have no truck with the PKK. They are a terrorist group, as far as we're concerned. In the case of Turkish efforts, we've always said that we thought that any raids should be conducted as quickly as possible and that they should take all due concern for possible loss of innocent life. Q What is the Federal position on cross-border raids by northern terrorists? MR. BOUCHER: We've been through this before, Barry. Q No -- in that area. Oh, it was this area that's done this -- this area -- because it's not a consistent position on this. MR. BOUCHER: Well, I think it is because it's always what we've said before and I'm dredging it up out of memory. Q No -- in this area, this particular border is. Q There were reports from Baghdad over the weekend that on Thursday, the day after the imposition of the "no-fly zone," that the U.N. detected in it an attempt to attach a bomb to the bottom of a Land Rover carrying three U.N. guards in (inaudible) What does the United States propose to do about that? MR. BOUCHER: I guess what I can tell you is that we hold the Government of Iraq responsible for the security of all U.N. workers operating in Iraq under Security Council resolutions. Discovery of the bomb which you talk about was really just the latest in a series of violent attacks against U.N. personnel. We understand the United Nations has protested to the Iraqis. We hope the United Nations will release full details on this and other attacks in New York, and we count on the international community to join us in expressing revulsion over these events. Q But as for doing more than talking about it, expressing revulsion, you don't propose to attack it in any way? MR. BOUCHER: Well, I think if you look at the U.N. resolutions, that Iraq is accountable for these things. Certainly, we hold them responsible for the safety of all U.N. personnel. Q You were speaking of which allies are the new delegation that, I believe, arrived there today. Is the U.S. satisfied with the way that delegation is being received and the access it is being granted? MR. BOUCHER: I don't think I have any early reports from that team at this point. It's the l4th IAEA Inspection Team that entered Iraq today. It's the 43rd Inspection Team from UNSCOM or the IEA to visit Iraq. This team will inspect nuclear weapons-related facilities. They'll determine more specifically the role that these facilities played in the Iraqi nuclear program. The team will continue to observe the destruction of some sites and equipment, and they will assess which other items must be destroyed or rendered harmless. Q I'm sorry. I'm not sure I understood the distinction you made there. It's the l4th -- what's the difference between the l4th team and the 43rd team? MR. BOUCHER: This is the l4th nuclear team -- Q A-hh, O.K. MR. BOUCHER: -- with the IAEA -- Q Thank you. MR. BOUCHER: -- involved in it. It's the 43rd overall team. That would include ballistic, biological, chemical, and nuclear overall. Q Richard, the general commanding Operation No-Fly -- or whatever it's called -- alluded to -- Q Southern Watch. Q -- alluded to a number -- Q Whatever. Q -- alluded to a number of Allies beyond the U.S., Britain, and France, involved in this operation. But for some reason he refused to name them. Wouldn't you care to go beyond that and -- MR. BOUCHER: No. Q -- and praise their participation? MR. BOUCHER: No, I wouldn't but we praise all those who participate. Q Well, Richard, let me beat on that a little bit because -- I'll explain why. First of all, I think you ought to be able to say who's in the coalition. The U.S. Government should be able to say that; I don't know why you're keeping it a secret. But the explanation that has been given out consistently for "Why now and not last year protect the Shiites?" is that last year, we -- the coalition -- wasn't ready; this year it was. This explanation for the change in U.S. action or strategy is explained that way. It's very hard to keep repeating this by quoting U.S. officials without being able to say, "What was the coalition last year, and what's the coalition this year?" MR. BOUCHER: Well, Barry, I'm sorry that you have this problem, but it's not one that I can solve for you. Q It's not really my problem; it's more of a little bit of candor by the U.S. Government. MR. BOUCHER: Let me -- Q It's hard to believe the U.S. Government without it giving examples of who is in the coalition; that's all. MR. BOUCHER: My turn? Q Yes, sir. MR. BOUCHER: As I remember it, going all the way back in this effort, we have left it to individual nations to identify what they were prepared to do. I'm sure you're aware of the statements by the British Government and the French Government. I'm not sure what other governments have made statements about their participation in this effort, but I think that's always been our practice. Second of all, it's always been my practice to leave operational questions regarding these sorts of operations to the Pentagon. They're the ones that are carrying them out. And if you want to ask that question of the Pentagon, you can go ahead and ask them. But as far as I'm concerned, the questions of whose aircraft and other assets are participating in this is one for the Pentagon to answer. Q I'm not asking you whose aircrafts are participating. The U.S. Government expects the American public to accept, as a matter of faith, that there wasn't a coalition last year and there is one now. But the U.S. Government won't back that up by saying who is in this year that wasn't in last year. Now, if you want to talk about statements in your absence, the Syrians here for the Peace Talks raised some questions about the "no-fly zone" operation. They didn't say they were opposed to it, but they had some concerns about it -- I think in terms of Iraq's territorial integrity. Syria was in the war coalition. Is Syria in this coalition? MR. BOUCHER: That's a question you could ask the Syrians. As I just said, I think it's for each of the countries involved to specify the nature and the extent of their participation. Q Just -- before we -- MR. BOUCHER: I'm aware of public statements by the United States Government, by the British Government and the French Government. Q But you understand that just -- I'm not asking you who's flying which missions, which normally is a military matter. I'm asking you, the same State Department which proudly announced the war coalition and how everybody's aboard, is now in an election year explaining why they're protecting the Shi'ites and didn't last year by saying we now have a coalition we didn't have last year; and asked to say, "What do you mean, who is in this coalition?" they say, "It's a state secret." MR. BOUCHER: Barry, I didn't say it was a state secret. I said what our past practice has been. I'll be glad to check and see if we're aware of further announcements or further things that we can tell you about this, about the countries that are participating in this. I drew your attention to some countries which I know have already identified themselves publicly as part of this, and certainly it's something that's not a state secret but, as I said, the practice that we've engaged in in the past has been to let countries identify, first of all, for themselves. Q Can you identify any countries, Richard? MR. BOUCHER: Again, I'll see if there's more information we can provide. Q Can you characterize these other states who are cooperating are Arabs or non-Arabs? MR. BOUCHER: I'll try to take those questions and see what we can do for you. Q Further, I wonder whether you could characterize what is the exact, precise legal basis for our "no-fly zone." Does it found itself on Chapter VII of the U.N. Charter? Is it only 688, or does it also go back to 678? What is the exact, precise legal basis for us flying these missions over there? MR. BOUCHER: I don't have a legal brief in front of me here. I think we've stated all along that we felt that the United Nations resolutions, including 688, provided the basis for this, so I'll just stick with that. Q Well, 688 makes no reference to the Shi'ites. MR. BOUCHER: 688 refers to the entire Iraqi population, as I remember it. Q Yes. MR. BOUCHER: Of which the Shi'ites are a part. Q Is this action under Chapter VII? MR. BOUCHER: Again, I don't have a legalistic explanation for you. Q Could you take the question? MR. BOUCHER: We've said before and the President said before that we have the right to do this under U.N. resolutions. Q I have another one on the "no-fly zone." I kind of understand how we got into it, but I don't see exactly how we're going to get out of it. What would be a signal coming from Baghdad or coming from Iraq to, you know, lead us to decide to stop the "no-fly zone." MR. BOUCHER: I don't know. At this point that's hypothetical. I don't think we've seen any signals that Iraq has changed its behavior or changed its attitude. Q Yes. But what would be a signal which shows enough change in -- MR. BOUCHER: I don't -- I'm not in a position to speculate on that, Jaques. I don't know. Q Richard, there were questions in regard to the coalition. Maybe you could at least take the question of -- if you can describe whether there are any nations inside the Persian Gulf region or in the Middle East more generally -- MR. BOUCHER: I think I was asked that, more or less, before. Q Well, you were asked whether there are any -- MR. BOUCHER: I was asked who, how many, Arabs, Persian Gulf, other Middle East. O.K. We'll check on all those. Q Can you take the legal question? MR. BOUCHER: I don't want to get into trying to do legal explanations from here. You can find legal scholars elsewhere. Q All this has to do with the new world order, and, you know, who's running it and so on. MR. BOUCHER: I know. And I understand why you're interested in whose in it and what they're doing, and that sort of thing. I'm sorry I can't help you right away on that, but I'll see if I can. Q Do you have any observations about the festival of democracy that's been taking place in Lebanon this weekend? (Laughter) MR. BOUCHER: Alan, you're asking for what we have to say about the Lebanese elections, I take it. Q Correct. Q Non-election. Q Festival of democracy. Q Did you send observers? MR. BOUCHER: The elections in Lebanon are part of an ongoing process. Sunday's round of elections was the second round of this process. The third round is scheduled for September 6. We will decline to comment until the voting has been completed, to review our position, though we have made it clear that in our view elections should be free and fair, devoid of coercion and intimidation. We've conveyed our view that elections should be the form for national reconciliation and not national division. Our position on the holding of elections remains consistent. The timing and the modalities of elections are decisions for the Government of Lebanon alone. Q Why this coyness? I mean, I recall during the runup to the Nicaraguan elections, before voting had even taken place, the United States was not shy in coming forward and pointing to election irregularities, unfairness, intimidation, all of which have been reported in the first two rounds in Lebanon. Why this coyness in coming forward? MR. BOUCHER: Alan, I don't want to get involved in comparisons of the thousands of elections that take place around the world and the various things that we've had to say about them. I think our position has been consistent. We've stated this position before, and I'll just stick with it. Q Under the Taif Agreements, the Syrians have to be out of the Bekaa Valley by September 23. Do you expect them to fulfill that? MR. BOUCHER: Alan, we continue to support the Taif Agreements. We support the unity, sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of Lebanon. We believe that full implementation of the Taif Agreement in letter and in spirit offers the best possible means of achieving these goals. Q Can elections be "a priori" free and fair if one whole segment of the population is boycotting them? MR. BOUCHER: Again, Johanna, at this point I'm not going to try to make a comment about how the elections have proceeded. We're in the second round. There's a third round on September 6. Q Did you ask for U.S. observers to go to Lebanon? MR. BOUCHER: I don't think so. No. Q Are we accepting the Syrians as proxy observers? MR. BOUCHER: I wouldn't put it that way, Howard. Q Have you sent congratulations to President Assad on his election last year, a similar festival of democracy? MR. BOUCHER: I don't know, Alan. Q The Mideast talks are going on, believe it or not. MR. BOUCHER: The Middle East peace talks are going on. Do you want your update? Q And you can tell about the fervent pace, because we're a half hour into the briefing, and I suppose -- MR. BOUCHER: The Israelis and Palestinians met this morning. The Israelis and Jordanians and the Israelis and Syrians will meet this afternoon. As far as the Israelis and the Lebanese go, they agreed last week not to meet on Monday. They're scheduled to meet again tomorrow. Ambassador Djerejian continues his meetings with delegations. He met with Palestinians on Sunday at their request, and he's also meeting with Israeli officials this afternoon to discuss bilateral issues. Q Anything about this? Shall we try to see, for instance, if the State Department -- you were just asked about occupation. The Lebanese say the Israelis won't agree to a timetable for withdrawal, and that's created an impasse. Does the U.S. have a view whether the Israelis should be considering a timetable for withdrawal from Lebanon now? MR. BOUCHER: As we have in the past, Barry, I'm going to leave the substance of the negotiations and the various positions of the different parties for them to discuss. Q Well, let me ask you then in a general sense, and then I'll drop it. Djerejian has now had several meetings, so a lot of us are interested in what the U.S. role is at this point -- if it's sort of still waiting, you know, for something to germinate that they could jump in and help on? MR. BOUCHER: I wouldn't describe it that way. Q Well, I don't get the feeling that they're involved over their ears. MR. BOUCHER: I think we've always described our role as -- Q Catalyst. MR. BOUCHER: -- a driving force, a catalyst, an honest broker, and that continues to be our role. That was our role in previous rounds, and that's our role now. Q It's been described in various ways. At the ready, if called upon, to help mediate a dispute, disagreement. Am I correct that things haven't reached that pregnant point yet where the U.S. is about to be the -- what - Q Stronger catalyst. Q Midwife. MR. BOUCHER: I'll have to check on the midwife, Barry. Q I'm just picturing you as -- MR. BOUCHER: We describe our role the way we've always described it. We're a driving force. We're an honest broker. We're a catalyst. We meet with the parties. We try to discuss things with them and try to encourage them to reach the agreements that are necessary to bring this process to fruition. Q If you're the driving force, the speed limit must be down to 20 miles an hour. MR. BOUCHER: Barry -- Q I mean, there's no action now. You know, the question is, is the U.S. going to jump in at some point? MR. BOUCHER: If you want to characterize the position of the parties, Barry, you can go ahead and do that. They have made numerous public statements. They're having more press conferences today. The Palestinians, I understand are at 2:00 p.m. at the Grand Hotel. The Israelis, 3:00 p.m. at the Mayflower. And if you want to ask them whether there's any action now or not, you can do that there. Q Well, I'm trying to get a notion of the U.S. attitude -- for instance, the U.S. wants, you know, an autonomy plan on the West Bank. They want elections. The Israelis have made a proposal. The two sides are talking about it. Is this an opportune time to ask the U.S. if the U.S. thinks the Palestinians ought to pick up on the proposal and abandon, you know, hopes for a legislature and the trappings of statehood? I mean, are these the kinds of things the U.S. is prepared to come down on? I don't want to say one side or the other, but come down with a position? MR. BOUCHER: Barry, at this point I'm not going to try to characterize our views on the substantive issues and substantive views of the various parties. Q Richard, has Mr. Djerejian discussed the peace process with former Secretary of State Baker, and have any of the delegations requested a meeting with Baker? MR. BOUCHER: I don't know. I'll have to check on that. Q Richard, an unidentified official characterized the first week of the peace talks as a waste of time, especially if they will repeat in the next week and third week like that. Do you share the same kind of reservation? MR. BOUCHER: I don't do unidentified officials, whether they're yours or anybody else's. Certainly, that's not the characterization that I think Joe [Snyder] used on Friday in the guidance that we had, to characterize the first week of talks, and I'll be glad to post that again. Q Richard, back to Yugoslavia for a little while, since it was such an absorbing subject for all of us last week. Who is going to represent the United States in Geneva? MR. BOUCHER: At the steering group? Q Yes. MR. BOUCHER: I don't have a name for you yet. Q Will it be at Assistant Secretary level or something higher, something lower? MR. BOUCHER: I don't know. At this point I'm told we were preparing to put forth our candidate. I don't know who it is yet.

[Former Yugoslavia: Relief for Sarajevo]

Q I just want to come back to this very central point that you had a conference which wound up on Thursday night with an impressive number of conclusions and agreements, and then on Friday and over the weekend Sarajevo got pounded again. Do you have any message for people in Sarajevo? Is the message stay put, keep calm because this process really holds hope? I mean, Karadjic was at the conference. He put his name to a number of agreements, so far none of which have been fulfilled even in the sense of gestures of good will. Do you have any message for those people? MR. BOUCHER: Alan, I think you'll remember from everything that we said around the conference and everything that Acting Secretary Eagleburger has said about this, that we didn't promise relief overnight. We didn't promise that we could stop the fighting in a day. We didn't promise that there was any specific measures of doing what we all want to see happen, and that's stop the killing, to stop the fighting. And, obviously, it continues to be very tragic, the kind of violence that occurs. We've seen repetition of some of the same kinds of horrible incidents that we've seen in the past. But at the same time we didn't go to London to get empty declarations that wouldn't be followed up on. What we established in London was a permanent process, a comprehensive and effective way of keeping people's feet to the fire until the things that we described in London were going to happen. There were decisions reached in London to beef up UNPROFOR and the U.N. humanitarian assistance effort. There were decisions to expand the assistance for the coming winter, and you'll remember Acting Secretary Eagleburger said we had $40 million to chip in to that, with more coming in October. There were decisions reached to tighten sanctions. There were decisions reached to put monitors on borders and in hot spots; decisions reached about identifying and disengaging heavy weapons from the conflict, and above all the decision to establish a permanent group that will see to these things on a daily basis, on a full-time basis, from Geneva and keep the parties there to negotiate. So the process established in London offers the prospect of bringing the right kind of pressure on the parties who were engaged in the fighting, of bringing an expanded relief effort to the people who are suffering because of it, and it offers us, I think, more of a prospect of achieving the kinds of goals that we've always wanted. Q On Mr. Kenney there was just one little step that still had to be taken for him to be separated from the State Department. I've forgotten -- a letter has been received -- MR. BOUCHER: Oh, yes. We had to reply to his letter of resignation. Q Is he gone? MR. BOUCHER: I didn't check on that this morning. I'll have to check. Q Richard, on another subject, does the United States believe that the Soviet Union is cheating on its reports about germ warfare?

[Former Soviet Union: Conformance with Biological Weapons Convention]

MR. BOUCHER: Do you want me to do that now, or do you want one more on Yugoslavia? O.K. We'll do biological war, if I can find it. First of all, I need to make clear that the United States Government takes very seriously all indications of non-compliance with arms control agreements. In particular, we have actively pressed Soviet and Russian leaders to terminate biological warfare programs. President Yeltsin has acknowledged, including in statements to the press, the existence of a Soviet offensive biological weapons program. We think this acknowledgement is important, and that it demonstrates President Yeltsin's commitment to see this problem resolved. For some time we and the U.K. have been pursuing discussions at high levels and among experts to pursue this subject with the Russians. Our objective is that Russia take concrete steps to demonstrate that the former Soviet offensive biological weapons program has been terminated. Russian acknowledgement of the full size, scope and maturity of the former Soviet Union's program in its declaration to the U.N. would contribute to this objective, and we're prepared to work closely with Russia on its efforts to show that the former Soviet biological weapons program has been ended. There are a range of potential approaches which Russia could or would need to take to ensure that its biological weapons facilities are in compliance with the biological weapons convention, and we also -- we and the U.K. will remain closely involved in discussions with Russia on this issue. Q From your statement it's not clear. Do you have positive information that there is something out there that they haven't reported, or is it a lack of specific information in what they have given you that has raised these concerns? MR. BOUCHER: The Soviet violations of the biological weapons convention have been reported by the United States in successive annual compliance reports based on the evidence that accumulated from many sources over a long period of time. The additional evidence we have received further corroborates those assessments. Obviously, I can't go into specific sources. The current overall status of the illegal offensive weapons program remains unclear. To date, we do not have the kind of concrete actions that would indicate that the Russian Government has effectively terminated the illegal Soviet offensive biological weapons program. Q Did Eagleburger bring it up with Russia? MR. BOUCHER: Excuse me? Q Did Eagleburger in London bring it up? MR. BOUCHER: It was discussed by Eagleburger and Kozyrev, yes, in London. Q Do you have any feel whether the corroborating evidence gave you a notion of a larger violation, or is it just -- does it sort of reinforce what you knew already? MR. BOUCHER: Well, I think if you look at our arms control compliance reports, you'll see that we've made a regular theme of this; that we've discussed this frequently. We discussed it at what I'm told was a public biological weapons convention review conference that was held last September. At that point we gave the longstanding judgment that we've had about the Soviet non-compliance. We didn't make specific evidence available because we didn't feel it was appropriate at that time. My understanding is that further evidence that we've collected corroborates the kind of assertions and information that we had before. Q You said you were prepared to work with the Russians to help them come clean, what is it that you're prepared to help them with? What's -- MR. BOUCHER: At this point I don't think I can go into any more detail other than to say that we and the U.K. have tried to work with the Russians to resolve the matter. Q But the further evidence that you make reference to, is this evidence of continuing production or a continuing program, or is this further evidence about the violations that the U.S. reported in the past? In other words, I may have missed it in your statement -- MR. BOUCHER: It's further evidence to corroborate the assessments that we made in the past that the Soviet Government conducted an offensive biological weapons program. As I said, the exact status at this point is unclear, and I think the point in our objective is to see the kind of concrete steps that demonstrate that this former Soviet offensive program has been terminated. Q So what you're missing at this point is concrete information that the program has been ended. You don't have concrete information either that it's continuing. You basically don't know. MR. BOUCHER: That's right. Q You said the status is unclear. MR. BOUCHER: The status is unclear, and we don't have the concrete information to show that it's been terminated. Q So you're not accusing the Russians of continuing a program. MR. BOUCHER: No, I'm not. Q You're accusing them at this point of failing to give you whatever information you feel would be adequate to determine its status. Is that correct? MR. BOUCHER: Well, without using the word "accusing," then, yes, that's essentially correct. Q Asking them, whatever. Q On the U.S. (inaudible), can you go a little bit further, if you know, when you say they like to cooperate, like to help in other areas of arms. This means technology, helping the Russians do what they intend to do anyhow but don't have the wherewithal. Is that -- you know, is it sort of detection or is it destruction or -- MR. BOUCHER: No. I can't at this point go into any more detail. I've said two things: One, we're prepared to work with Russia on efforts to show that the former Soviet program has been terminated; and, second of all, there are various other approaches that they could take to ensure that the facilities are in compliance with the biological weapons convention, and we'd certainly be prepared to work with them on that as well. Q Richard, when was the agreement struck between the U.S. and Russia, and for how many years have they been in violation of it? MR. BOUCHER: This is not a U.S.-Russian agreement; this is the biological weapons convention which I think dates from 1925, if my recollection is correct. Q And Russia's a signatory. MR. BOUCHER: And Russia's a signatory of that. Q And so -- MR. BOUCHER: Soviet Union, or whatever. Q And the second part of the question: How many years has Russian been out of compliance? MR. BOUCHER: I don't think I can go into the details on that. I'm sorry. Q Can you say more than one year? MR. BOUCHER: Well, the Soviet Union [Russia] hasn't been in existence for more than one year. You will find, perhaps, some of that information in the Arms Control Compliance Reports that we put out. Q Richard, the fact that you're raising it with the Russians rather than the Georgians or the Ukrainians, does that mean it all centers on this site in Sverdlovsk where the mishap occurred? MR. BOUCHER: I know Yeltsin has talked publicly about that incident at the site in Sverdlovsk. I don't think I'm in a position to go into any more detail as to whether that's the only site or whether there may be others. I don't know if there are, frankly, but I don't think I'd be able to say it if I did. Q But you think what is there is in Russia rather than in one of the other republics? MR. BOUCHER: I think our discussions at this point have been focused -- have been with Russia. Yes. Q Richard, I just want to -- MR. BOUCHER: Betsy had a question over here. Q Richard, can you say at all what Eagleburger asked of Kozyrev? Are we attempting still to get very basic information? Are we setting any kind of a timetable for obtaining assurances? MR. BOUCHER: I can't say in any detail what Eagleburger asked of Kozyrev. I mean, our basic position I think I've described to you -- that we wanted them to take concrete steps to demonstrate that the former Soviet offensive program has been terminated. We think that a declaration of the full size and scope and maturity of the former Soviet Union's program to the United Nations would contribute to this objective. And I forget -- what's the other thing you asked? Q Do we have a timetable in mind? MR. BOUCHER: I don't know. I'll see if there's anything we can say on that. Q The U.S. has lots of military inspectors and some civilian inspectors in various stages of verification programs in Russia and elsewhere in the former Soviet Union. Has the U.S. requested that any of those verifiers be permitted to visit the site that the U.S. suspects or that Yeltsin has spoken about? MR. BOUCHER: I don't know, Ralph. At this point I don't think I'm prepared to go into that kind of detail in any case. Q And is the U.S. raising this issue because it fears that there's some kind of threat as a result of the existence of this program, or is this a compliance kind of issue? Is there a danger either to Russian citizens or to anyone else that the U.S. perceives, or is it a legal compliance issue at this point? MR. BOUCHER: I don't think I could specify the one or the other, Ralph. I mean, these programs aren't supposed to exist, and so it's important that they be terminated; that the world see evidence of the termination. Certainly, the accident that Yeltsin has talked about -- which was '79 in Sverdlovsk, I think -- certainly that would raise safety concerns, but I can't give you anything in more detail as to the safety factors that might be in play at this point. Q Richard, in the Middle East there's a situation in Amman where two leading Jordanian journalists -- Fuad Hussein and Sami Haddad -- were seeking visas to the United States. One of them, Mr. Haddad, has been in the United States several times to attend a human rights conference, and they've been consistently refused visas. Does that indicate any shift of policy toward Jordan, especially because these two individuals were highly critical of the U.S. operations against Iraq? Is that still in place, the -- some kind of sanctions or seeing Jordan as an ally of Iraq, and is that appropriate now when Jordan is now an important part of the Middle East peace talks to conduct this -- MR. BOUCHER: Well, I don't want to accept your characterization of our attitude towards Jordan. I'd refer you back to perhaps what the Secretary said when he was last in Jordan. But as far as the visa cases of these two gentlemen, I'd have to check on that. Q Back to Yugoslavia, I haven't heard you talk from this podium about Bobby Fischer and the prospect that he plans to hold a huge chess tournament in what's left of the former Yugoslavia. And I just wondered what the State Department is prepared to do by way of penalties? Is this -- does this break the sanctions? Would he be liable to what? MR. BOUCHER: I guess you weren't here the one day many weeks ago when this came up, where I think we decided that questions of the applicability of the embargo and the sanctions on Bobby Fischer and chess tournaments would be left to the Treasury Department. So, no, I don't have that information for you. Q Checkmate. We have to go now. Q Wait a minute. Is that also of the case with regard to Milan Panic? MR. BOUCHER: We have addressed Panic's case before. I think we decided that it was involved in part of the diplomatic and political complex of these issues, and therefore we should make more of an effort to address them. Q Thank you. We've got another briefing. MR. BOUCHER: O.K. (The briefing concluded at 1:28 p.m.)