September, 1992

US Department of State Daily Briefing #120: Wednesday, 9/1/92

Boucher Source: State Department Spokesman Richard Boucher Description: Washington, DC Date: Sep, 1 19929/1/92 Category: Briefings Region: Subsaharan Africa, E/C Europe, MidEast/North Africa, Central America, East Asia Country: Yugoslavia (former), Bosnia-Herzegovina, Serbia-Montenegro, Somalia, Nicaragua, Israel, Syria, Kuwait, Lebanon, China Subject: Regional/Civil Unrest, Military Affairs, Development/Relief Aid, United Nations, EC, Human Rights, Refugees, State Department, Mideast Peace Process, Democratization 12:35 P. M. (ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED) MR. BOUCHER: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. I'd like to start out with a statement and then a few updates on Yugoslavia. I'll give you a bit of information on Somalia, although I think you're all aware that we have a briefing this afternoon at 2:30 by Mr. Natsios who's just returned from Somalia. And then after that I'd be glad to take your questions.

[Former Yugoslavia: Ambassador Zimmerman Appointed US Coordinator]

First on the statement, I'd like to announce the appointment of our coordinator and our representative at the Steering Committee. In order to follow up quickly on the results of the London Conference on former Yugoslavia and to participate actively in the Geneva talks which begin on September 3, Acting Secretary Eagleburger has appointed Ambassador Warren Zimmermann as U.S. Coordinator and as the U.S. representative on the Steering Committee of the conference. Ambassador Zimmermann's new designation underlines the importance the United States attributes to the obligations of the London Conference on all participants and the active role the United States will continue to play to encourage a just and peaceful outcome to the Yugoslav crisis. Ambassador Zimmermann, who has extensive experience both with Yugoslavia and the CSCE, will be devoting his full-time efforts to ensuring the follow-up to the London Conference. He will retain his position as Director of the Bureau of Refugee Programs. However, during his tenure as Coordinator, Priscilla Clapp, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary, will be in charge of the Bureau. A few more updates on things that are new on flights. On August 31, yesterday, we had six countries which flew 21 flights into Sarajevo. They delivered 254.8 metric tons of relief goods. Four U.S. flights carried 50 metric tons of MREs and bulk food, and one metric ton of detergent. There are 18 flights scheduled for today. On convoys: The UNHCR has scheduled a five-truck convoy from Split to Sarajevo for today and another one for tomorrow. These convoys to Sarajevo now run on an almost daily basis. Local convoys are picking up relief supplies from Split almost every day. These local convoys are for the most part private trucks sent by municipal relief coordinating councils. UNHCR Split is working toward establishing an alternate highway and rail corridor to Polce, Mostar, Jablanica and Sarajevo. A trial run along this route, using 20-ton trucks, is being planned for Thursday or Friday. And the ICRC plans to send one convoy to Banja Luka and one to Bihac today. Tomorrow the ICRC plans two convoys each to Bihac, Banja Luka and Bosanski Brod. Each of these convoys carries between 15 and 20 metric tons. And, finally, we have some new information on ICRC access to camps. Last week the ICRC visited two additional detention centers, one in a place called Tomislavgrad, a Croat facility that has 49 prisoners, and one is the Bileca Police Station that's a Serb facility with 144 prisoners. The ICRC has now visited 19 places of detention. As of yesterday, the ICRC has registered 11,704 prisoners. Of these, 954 were in Croat hands, 902 in Muslim hands, and 9,848 in Serb hands. Yesterday I think we spoke about a small convoy that was going to Sokolac, about 30 kilometers northeast of Sarajevo. The ICRC in Geneva tells us that the ICRC delegates were looking for a reported detention camp in that city, but they, in the event, were unable to locate any prisoners there yesterday. On Somalia, the airlift into Belet Weyne continued yesterday and today. Yesterday and today there were a total of ten flights to deliver 92 metric tons of humanitarian assistance. We've now made 21 flights into Belet Weyne without incident since the airlift began on Friday. More than 191 metric tons of relief supplies have been turned over to the International Committee of the Red Cross for distribution in its feeding centers in the Belet Weyne area. And then we'll have further information for you at the briefing this afternoon. And with those updates, I'd be glad to take your questions. Q Richard, can I try a couple of questions on this statement about Nicaragua. MR. BOUCHER: Sure. Q First, it follows a report, and I wondered, does the State Department at this point have a view on the report's allegations that essentially Mrs. Chamorro is a figurehead, and that the Sandinistas are really running the country through her? MR. BOUCHER: I think our views on that, Barry, are adequately stated in the statement. We have been concerned about the kind of things that are brought out in the report. Some of the issues identified are issues that we have in fact raised with Mrs. Chamorro's government. At the same time, I think there's a paragraph in the statement that points out some of the many positive things -- Q It does. MR. BOUCHER: -- that have occurred. Q No. I read the statement. MR. BOUCHER: I don't have a judgment like that for you. I think our view is more balanced than is expressed in this statement. Q All right. Let me try one more thing, and then I'll defer to John [Goshko] who knows a lot more about this than I do.

[Nicaragua: Human Rights]

The second thing is, there is a statement here deploring murder and harassment in Nicaragua. I'm sure you deplore murder and harassment in D.C. too. The question is, is there any linkage in the State Department's view between the government and murder and harassment? This sentence seems to stand naked, and I don't know if this is an allegation you're making against Managua. MR. BOUCHER: Let me try to amplify on that to some extent. There are respected Nicaraguan human rights organizations that have reported over 100 former members of the Nicaraguan Resistance have been victims of politically motivated killings since Mrs. Chamorro's inauguration. We are aware of no individual arrests or prosecutions in any of these cases. These and the other cases give the appearance that the murderers enjoy impunity for political crimes. The situation is completely unacceptable, and we have made that clear to the Nicaraguan Government. I think that democracy demands the rule of law, and we've urged the Nicaraguan Government to enforce the law against apparently political crimes. We are working with human rights organizations and the Nicaraguan Government to reform Nicaragua's police and judiciary. We think such reforms are essential to establishing the rule of law. We are also working to extend the mandate of the OAS's International Commission for Support and Verification into June of next year. This organization is making enormous contributions to the resettlement and protection of ex-Contras. We believe that these are the best ways to address this and other human rights issues. Q Following that same thing, I've read the statement, and it seems to veer -- MR. BOUCHER: It seems to what? Q It seems to veer in a way that you're trying to cover both ends of the spectrum and have it both ways on this thing. So the question I have coming out of this is, do we consider -- MR. BOUCHER: John, you wouldn't make the assumption that perhaps the situation is a little bit complicated? Q Two years ago, following the election, the U.S. Government -- still in office -- the Administration still in office -- hailed Mrs. Chamorro's victory as a triumph for democracy. Do we still regard the situation in Nicaragua as a triumph for democracy, and do we indeed think that Nicaragua is operating under adequate democratic government? MR. BOUCHER: John, the fact that an election occurred in a country that was subject to war, that was subject to Sandinista mismanagement and brutality, the fact that there was a free election in that country and that a democratic election could be held and Mrs. Chamorro could be elected is indeed a victory for democracy. At the same time, her government has faced a lot of problems, both economic ones and political ones, with the structures of government, and with things that the Sandinistas had done in the past; and, as we say in our statements, many of these things have been resolved and gotten better. At the same time, there are more things that can be done, and we're working, as I just said, in areas of human rights and areas of reconstruction to try to help the Nicaraguan Government do those things that remain to be done. Q Two practical questions on this thing: One, the freeze on aid, which is not instituted by Congress. Despite what some officials here say, Congress appropriated the money and doesn't have the power to freeze the aid. It was done by the State Department. Is that going to continue, or is any of this going to be released? MR. BOUCHER: At this point, John, Senator Helms raised objections to $100 million worth of ESF funds and $4 million in project funds for Nicaragua. We'll continue to consult with the Congress and the Government of Nicaragua about future assistance. Q Well, I mean, does that mean you're allowing Senator Helms to determine whether the aid is going to be -- any of this $100 million is going to be disbursed or -- MR. BOUCHER: That means we feel we have to consult with the Congress before we disburse it. We have obligated, in fact, $614.3 million in assistance to Nicaragua since the beginning of the program in 1990. Q Yes. But most of this year's has been held up. MR. BOUCHER: I don't think it's most. I don't have the exact figures for this year, but it's $100 million in ESF and $4 million in project aid. Q O.K. And who is the -- who is going to be the delegation, and when is it going? MR. BOUCHER: The delegation is going in the next few days. It's headed by a Deputy Assistant Secretary in the ARA Bureau, and I don't have the names with me now. I think it's Maisto. Q Yugoslavia? MR. BOUCHER: Yugoslavia.

[More on Yugoslavia]

Q Have you managed to get any clarification from the U.N. about how this process is going to work -- the process that was set up in London -- and specifically the 96-hour period in which the Serbs were supposed to group their heavy weapons in four sites? MR. BOUCHER: Essentially, Alan, you're asking two questions. One is about how the process is going to work, and that was spelled out in London. The process is going to work under the authority of Cyrus Vance and David Owen. It will work in Geneva with the Steering Committee and with the Sub-groups, and they will work to implement the various decisions that were taken in London to tighten sanctions, station monitors, expand the provision of humanitarian relief. And they will work to ensure that the goals of the London Conference and the decisions of the London Conference are in fact reached. As for the specific issue of the 96 hours, as I said yesterday, that's a question that the United Nations is going to have to answer; that the Conference is going to have to answer. I think the important point for us is that there are things underway to see these agreements implemented, to bring the pressures necessary to see them implemented. In the case of the heavy weapons, Under Secretary Goulding is in Yugoslavia, former Yugoslavia. He's looking at the situation on the ground. His intention is to report back in the very near future to the Steering Committee. He's in Bosnia now to report on the heavy weapons situation. He will present a number of recommendations to the Steering Committee on what steps will be necessary to implement the London Conference arrangement. Q Richard, standing back from London a little bit, it seems to me that two kinds of decisions were reached there. One kind were decisions made by what you could call the international community, such as strengthening sanctions, putting monitors into various places, setting up this mechanism; and the other were documents which were signed by the Serbs. Now, if you take the second of those alone, do the events that have happened since last Thursday give you any confidence that those documents are worth anything? MR. BOUCHER: Well, Alan, I think the whole point of the London Conference and the approach that we took there, the approach that the other governments took there, was that you can't take the second of those alone. The whole point of the London Conference was not just to end up with some new declarations which may or may not be met by the parties. We've seen declarations of ceasefires before. We've seen declarations on heavy weapons before. The point of the London Conference was to have that interplay, was to have that situation where the parties agreed to do certain things, and where the other people who were involved and concerned about the situation have a means to follow up, have the mechanisms and the tools and the pressures and the focus to try to see that they do do these things. And that was the whole point of London. Q Richard, still on Yugoslavia -- are you finished with your line for a second? Q Coming back to your report on the -- both the aid shipments as well as the ICRC camp reviews, and so on. First on the camps: Would you say that at this point the international community has a good picture, a fairly thorough picture, do you think, by now of the number of prisoners and the distribution and their condition, and so on? Has that picture cleared up since three, four weeks ago when it was obviously very unclear? MR. BOUCHER: I think that's a better question to ask the ICRC. I don't think I can give you a very good answer, but let me try. Certainly, the situation in some particular camps and the welfare of some 11,700 prisoners has cleared up, and certainly that's a definite benefit, both to our knowledge but more importantly to the people that are in detention centers. Overall, I think there have been vastly larger numbers reported by one side against the other about the numbers of people that might be detained. And so there are additional places, presumably, that the ICRC will have to visit to get a better overall picture. There were some conclusions by the ICRC, I think, that they reported a week or so ago about the general conditions. But I don't want to try to say that we have a thorough picture at this point -- the words that you used. Q And on the aid availability, you made a note of pointing out that land convoys are taking place on an almost daily basis, and you talked about the number of metric tons of assistance that are now being flown in on a regular basis as well. Does the U.S. believe at this point that the aid picture has changed to the point where an adequate amount or perhaps sufficient amount of assistance has actually reached the people who need it in the area? What I'm getting at, if you're dealing with the prisoners and you're dealing with the aid, this last question, I guess would be -- and you may want to take this on board before you answer -- are those two ways of getting additional pressure to now settle down and solve the political problem which obviously hasn't been dealt with at all? MR. BOUCHER: Well, on the aid, let me point out a couple things. There are parts of Bosnia where we have gotten things in regularly. There are other places where very little has gone. I think there's been one convoy into Goradze. The one planned for this week they had to postpone. I believe it's planned for Wednesday, but I don't have an update on that. So there are different places around Bosnia, some of which are getting a regular provision of food and medical supplies, and others of which we haven't gotten into yet. And the second thing is one of the important issues that we've identified with others in the international community, and that Acting Secretary Eagleburger talked about in London, was the coming winter and the problems that will be faced by people who've been displaced from their homes, first of all in getting through the winter and second of all eventually in going back to their homes and rebuilding. And so there is that effort still underway. I think the Donors Conference was going to be coming up shortly in early September, and Acting Secretary Eagleburger already identified in London $40 million of resources that the United States would contribute to that further effort, with more money to come after the new fiscal year starts in October. Q Will both of these things, both the prisoner access issue and the aid access issue reflect, in the U.S. view, the control, the de facto control, the Serbians now have over so much of what was Bosnia Hercegovina? MR. BOUCHER: I don't think -- I haven't heard that expressed, no. Q I mean, the fact that they are willing to allow, or have allowed, aid to get into certain places but not into a few, wouldn't that suggest that the Serbians have consolidated their control over large portions? MR. BOUCHER: I haven't tried to sit down with a map and identify the cities where we are getting aid into versus the areas where the Serbs have established control, but I am not aware that there is any correlation.

[Middle East Peace Process: Bilateral Meetings and Other]

Q Richard, on another subject, have you been tracking the Middle East talks taking place in this building, your people? MR. BOUCHER: Absolutely, Jim. Q Okay. Are you familiar with the assessment yesterday by the Palestinian spokeswoman saying that the situation is at a deadlock, and they are looking for impasse-removing devices? Would you agree with that assessment? MR. BOUCHER: I'm aware of the statement, but, again, I'm not going to get into the habit of offering commentary on the views of the various parties about the talks. I think we have expressed our views on how the first week went, and we posted that again last night for you so you could see how we felt the first week went. We were satisfied with the way it went. We think there is interesting interaction; that there has been a positive atmosphere; that the Israelis have taken steps on the ground to help foster a good atmosphere, and that we have seen new substantive proposals. At the same time, we are realistic about the complexities, and for our part, that's our view, and we'll leave it to others to express their views. I'm not going to start commenting on every comment. Q Have you been informed that any of the delegations will be going back for consultations with their various governments this weekend? MR. BOUCHER: That's something that I haven't checked on, but I think that is something better to check with the delegations. Q Richard, do you have an answer to yesterday's question about White House Chief of Staff Baker's involvement? MR. BOUCHER: Yes. Assistant Secretary Djerejian has kept both Acting Secretary Eagleburger and White House Chief of Staff Baker informed of the daily progress in the talks. Meetings between the delegations and Acting Secretary Eagleburger and White House Chief of Staff Baker at some point during this round are also under active consideration by the Department. Q Richard, I want to follow up on your statement yesterday about Lebanon in which, as in the past, you have endorsed the Taif Agreements. In your understanding, what exactly is incumbent on Syria to do according to those agreements, because I understand that a deadline is coming up this month? MR. BOUCHER: Alan, I am not the expert on the Taif Agreement, but I believe that, if you are asking about this specific issue of the withdrawal back to the Bekaa Valley, you'll see in the statement that we made, as the Secretary went into Lebanon -- I guess it was in Lebanon -- Secretary Baker went in -- addressed that issue, and there was a statement, I believe a couple days before that by the Lebanese Government giving their views. And as far as I know, that remains our view. Q Just for the sake of those of us who were not privileged to be on that trip, what did Secretary Baker say? MR. BOUCHER: Well, I was among those who were not on that trip, Alan, and I would hesitate to try to recreate it for you, but I'd be glad to get you a copy after the briefing. Q Well, I just want to pursue this one more, because I looked up the Accord, the text, and it says that the two governments are supposed to decide on the redeployment of Syrian forces in the Bekaa Valley, also seek to agree on the size of the Syrian contingent to remain in the Bekaa, and the duration of its stay. And this was supposed to happen two years after the ratification of the charter. Is that your understanding also? MR. BOUCHER: That is what the Taif Accord says, and that was discussed in some detail, I think, during the Secretary's visit to Lebanon, and you'll see that reflected in the statement. Q Do you have a -- go ahead. Q How concerned is the Administration about the progress, or lack of progress on the elections in Lebanon? MR. BOUCHER: I'll stick with the statement that we made yesterday. Q Another thing the Taif calls for -- I realize you are not an expert -- but it calls for consensus, government by consensus, and there is a major boycott of elections in Lebanon. How do we coincide between government by consensus and, you know, holding elections despite the overwhelming opposition to elections? MR. BOUCHER: Once again, I said yesterday that we would wait until after the elections were concluded. We have had two rounds. There is one more round to come on September 6th, and we'll wait until after that to try to comment on some of these issues. Q Richard, can one assume that the same criteria that have been applied to the freeness and fairness of elections elsewhere in places as diverse, let's say, as Nicaragua and Romania and Namibia and Angola, would also apply to the case of Lebanon? MR. BOUCHER: Alan, I'm not aware that we have a check list of free and fair elections, but I think the same kind of issues that have been raised in other cases would apply to any set of elections around the world. Q So you will not be applying some form of double standard, heaven forbid, because Lebanon and Syria happen to be key partners in the Middle East. MR. BOUCHER: Alan, we never do that sort of thing. Johanna? Q On Iraq, do you have an answer to the question posed yesterday about who our military coalition partners are? MR. BOUCHER: We posted it yesterday afternoon. Q You did? Okay. Q Richard, would you clarify what you said about a meeting between Baker, Eagleburger and the delegations being under active consideration? Is that altogether or separately, or --? MR. BOUCHER: At this point, I don't think I can specify. I don't know. Potentially, some of each. We'll see how it goes. Q Would this be this week, or not likely, or --? MR. BOUCHER: During this round, which could extend for some time. So there is nothing specific scheduled at this point. It is just something that we are considering doing during the round. Q What's the reason? MR. BOUCHER: As you know, in past rounds the Secretary, Secretary Baker, has met from time to time with the various delegations to talk to them about progress and see where they stand. Obviously the Acting Secretary, with his new role, is going to be playing a part in this as well, and he has been kept up to date by Assistant Secretary Djerejian. So I would describe the meetings in the same sort of vein. Q But it would be escalated to the White House level if this meeting that you talk about comes to pass. Is there something that has occurred that leads the Administration to believe that having these delegation meetings at the White House level, which would be unprecedented so far in this session of the talks anyway, in these talks? MR. BOUCHER: I'm not aware of anything specific that has occurred, Ralph. I think we have said quite some time ago that Secretary Baker was going to maintain his interest in this process. And certainly the White House has been interested all along. But I will just sort of leave it at that. Q Do you envision that this will physically be at the White House? MR. BOUCHER: Again, maybe I shouldn't have mentioned it, because I don't have the details for you, but at this point we just wanted to cite that as one of the possibilities we were asked if Secretary Baker is being kept informed, and we answered, yes, indeed, he and Acting Secretary Eagleburger are being kept closely informed of this, and that they may indeed have meetings with the parties. Q Will you leave this issue of the venue up to the parties? (Laughter.) Q Would you just sort of, you know, correct us if we are wrong about -- maybe we don't know about a previous White House Chief of Staff's meeting with delegation heads, or anything in the peace talks. It is possible it has occurred, and maybe you could let us know if it has, so that we -- . MR. BOUCHER: I'll double-check. I don't remember. Q Maybe Sununu flew over to the State Department, or something, to have a meeting. MR. BOUCHER: I'm sure you can check the record on that one, Ralph. Q Only if they are public. There are some things we can't check, if there is no record, you know. Q Might these come before the break, the Labor Day break? MR. BOUCHER: Again, I don't have any scheduling. We just mentioned this as one possibility. People are asking about the involvement of Secretary Baker and how he is being kept informed, and we thought it was fair to mention to you that some time during the course of this round, we are considering setting up meetings with the delegations, and not only Acting Secretary Eagleburger but also with the White House Chief of Staff. Q Did any of the delegations ask for this, or is this your initiative? MR. BOUCHER: You can ask them, Ruth. I don't know. Q Richard, what could the White House Chief of Staff possibly do that this Acting Secretary of State could not? MR. BOUCHER: Sid, you are all aware -- Q It's a serious question. MR. BOUCHER: I mean, it's a serious question, except you are putting this in an institutional roles, and to some extent that has always existed. The White House is obviously interested in the Middle East peace talks. It has been a major item on our foreign policy agenda for some time, and one that has been quite successful. The obvious interest of Secretary Baker in this process, I think, goes without saying. And since he is interested in this, remains interested in this, it's logical that he should consider meeting with the delegations. Q How do you -- forgive me if I missed this -- but what is your title? MR. BOUCHER: You can call me what you have always called me, Johanna. Q Richard the -- . (Laughter) Q No, no. That wasn't my question. MR. BOUCHER: You can't say it on the record. It's Spokesman, Acting Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs. Q It isn't up on the picture board downstairs. MR. BOUCHER: No, but it's in the announcement that was issued a week ago Monday. Q But for the record, Johanna, your organization doesn't have to worry about the distinction between Spokeswoman and Spokesman at the moment. Q Could I ask you about the timing of the revelation to Congress about what was discussed at Kennebunkport between Mr. Bush and Mr. Rabin concerning the loan guarantees? MR. BOUCHER: I'm sorry, I haven't had any revelations at this point. (Laughter.) I think shortly after the Kennebunkport meeting, we said that we had begun discussions with Congress on the subject, and didn't expect to have anything more to say until those discussions were complete. Q Are you continuing -- as a follow-up -- are you continuing the discussions in the absence of Congress with the staff up there? MR. BOUCHER: I don't know exactly what discussions are going on day-by-day or week-by-week, but I know that I don't have anything more to say because those discussions are not complete. Q Just one more on the Baker involvement and information thing, you talked about him being kept informed. Is there anything going the other direction? That is to say, is Mr. Eagleburger, or perhaps Mr. Djerejian, being kept informed of directives or policy instructions coming the other way, or are they simply receiving information about how things are going at this end? MR. BOUCHER: I guess I don't know of any specific instances, but I think it was always expected that if Secretary Baker or others had views on this, that they would communicate them to us. Q Can you say, Richard, where those -- if they were to meet, would the meetings be held in the White House? MR. BOUCHER: I was asked fourteen times and I said I just don't know. It's not scheduled. It's not set up yet. It's a possibility that we're considering, and we're trying to tell you about it now. Q Thank you. Q Can I have a question on China? MR. BOUCHER: I guess we have one more back there.

[China: US Reaction to Detention of Shen Tong/Ross Terrill]

Q Yes. Can you give us your response about the arrest of the Chinese student, Shen Tong, in Beijing yesterday? MR. BOUCHER: Yes. I'll be glad to give you this to you. Chinese dissident Shen Tong was detained today -- Beijing time today -- by Chinese security officials. Our Embassy in Beijing has expressed its deep concern to the Chinese Government about Shen's detention and asked that he be released immediately. Ross Terrill was also detained today in his hotel room by hotel security officers for allegedly attempting to arrange a press conference for Shen Tong. Embassy officers went to Terrill's hotel. They discussed the situation with the hotel's management and representatives of the Beijing city government as well as with Mr. Terrill. Following these discussions, it was agreed that Mr. Terrill could come and go freely from the hotel, and that he was under no constraints. The Embassy has protested Terrill's treatment to the Chinese Foreign Minister. Q Who is Ross Terrill? MR. BOUCHER: He's an American academic and journalist, I guess. Q How do you spell that? MR. BOUCHER: T-e-r-r-i-l-l. Q Are all other U.S. contacts with the Chinese Government, trade missions, shipping talks, things of that sort that are going on -- they're unaffected by these developments. Is that correct? MR. BOUCHER: You seem to imply that there's some sort of business as usual, and that hasn't been the situation for many years now, Ralph. We have had contacts and continue to have contacts with the Chinese Government on issues of mutual interest, things that we think are important to us. Q Have any of those contacts that you just referred to been adjusted, changed, stopped, postponed? Has anything been done to change the situation as a result of the dissidents you were talking about? MR. BOUCHER: The only change in the situation as regards contacts, since these incidents occurred early this morning Beijing time, is that we have added specific contacts with the Foreign Ministry to protest these and to express our concerns about what was going on. Q Thank you. (The briefing concluded at 1:06 p.m.)