US Department of State Daily Briefing #128: Tuesday, 9/15/92

Boucher Source: State Department Spokesman Richard Boucher Description: Washington, DC Date: Sep, 15 19929/15/92 Category: Briefings Region: Subsaharan Africa, E/C Europe, MidEast/North Africa Country: Yugoslavia (former), Bosnia-Herzegovina, Serbia-Montenegro, Somalia, Israel, Lebanon, Syria, China Subject: Regional/Civil Unrest, Military Affairs, Development/Relief Aid, United Nations, Mideast Peace Process, State Department, Security Assistance and Sales 12:29 P. M. (ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED) MR. BOUCHER: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. At the top I'd like to do two things. One, I'd like to introduce Bernie Kaufhold, a new intern in the Press Office. He joined the Press Office today as a Fall intern. He'll be in the office until mid-November. He was born in Shakopee, Minnesota. He's a junior at Southwestern State University in Marshall, Minnesota, majoring in history with a possible minor in political science. I know you'll all make him feel welcome, and we're glad to have him here to help us out.

[Former Yugoslavia: Update

The other is to do brief updates on some of the Yugoslavian and Somalia issues. As far as the airlift into Yugoslavia, into Sarajevo, that remains suspended. There have been 14 flights that delivered humanitarian assistance to Split yesterday for forwarding to Sarajevo by land convoy, and there are 14 additional flights scheduled for today. The U.N. High Commissioner on Refugees plans a 100 metric ton convoy to Sarajevo today. Tomorrow's schedule calls for a 40 metric ton convoy to Capljina, 85 metric tons to Sarajevo and 96 metric tons to Vitez. On camp access, sadly and very tragically one of the original 69 people to be evacuated from Banja Luka died last night, but the air evacuation of the 68 other sick and wounded detainees from Banja Luka is taking place today. The International Committee of the Red Cross is meeting in Zagreb today to discuss plans including housing, food, medical care and security for a land convoy evacuation of other released detainees from Bosnia-Hercegovina. This is in conjunction with their efforts to seek closure of the detention centers. At this point a date for the first evacuations has not been set. Q Where are they taking these people, Richard? MR. BOUCHER: That's what they're discussing today. Q What about the 69 that just -- MR. BOUCHER: 69? On their way to Great Britain for medical assistance. Q Do we know what the 69th died of? Did he die of wounds inflicted during his -- or illnesses contracted during his detention? MR. BOUCHER: I don't know, Ralph. Somebody closer to the scene might be able to tell you. Q I'm trying to determine whether the death would be attributable to his presence in the camp or whether -- MR. BOUCHER: His detention or not. Q Yes. MR. BOUCHER: I don't know. Q Richard, just one more thing on that: Is the United States considering taking in any of these refugees? MR. BOUCHER: We've addressed the global question of refugees before. In most cases, these refugees in general -- these people are displaced and the United States is making every effort to see that they're able to return to their homes. So that's been our basic approach to this. Q Have any people asked to come here, Richard? MR. BOUCHER: I don't know. Q Can we find out if people want to come here? MR. BOUCHER: Well, I think by and large our assumption has been that they are people that want to return to their homes. I'm not aware that there's been any flood of requests. I don't know if there are a few here and there or not. Q Can you find out -- MR. BOUCHER: I'll try to find out for you if I can. Q -- if people have been asking, and what the percentages vis-a-vis how many are normally let in from that area, and whether because it's split into so many different countries, you've had to change it. MR. BOUCHER: We've gone round and round on the numbers before, Jan, and I'm not going to get back into the numbers again. There's been no change in the numbers. I think we're currently actually in the period of consulting on refugee numbers for next year, and I don't think there's been any special allocations for this. The approach that we've taken in this -- and it's the approach that the people do take -- they've been forced out of their homes; they want to go back; they want to be able to live in peace in their houses. And that's the approach that we've taken to this crisis, and we've done everything possible to try to bring that about and not to move them off into foreign countries.

[Somalia: Update]

On Somalia, yesterday there were eight U.S. military relief flights to four destinations. The total was 82 metric tons of humanitarian aid. The breakdown is as follows: four flights to Belet Weyne with 38 metric tons, two flights to Baidoa with 24 metric tons, one flight to Oddur with nine tons, and one flight to Wajir, Kenya, delivering 11 tons. Two of the flights to Baidoa did not take place because the C-130s were instead used to support the airlift of U.N. food security guards from Djibouti to Mogadishu. And today they have projected four flights to Baidoa and three flights to Belet Weyne. Some of the airplanes are also moving security guards and equipment to Mogadishu today. And with those updates, I'd be glad to take your questions. Q Richard, you had said earlier that the teams were scouting other sites for food to be flown into Somalia. Are you waiting for military troops to protect sites? Have sites been chosen? MR. BOUCHER: Well, when we said that, that was before we added the town of Oddur in Somalia. So we've added one in recent -- in about the last week, and I think the teams are still looking at other places they might go to. But it's a matter more of finding places where we can land and distribute supplies efficiently to people that need it. Q When are the rest of the Pakistani troops due to be there? MR. BOUCHER: There are -- let's see -- the remaining 20 of the advance party -- the advance party was supposed to be 60. There were 40 that I reported on yesterday. There were additional flights that arrived today, bringing the remaining 20, together with more of their equipment; and we're still working with the U.N. and the Government of Pakistan on arrangements to transport the additional troops to bring the total up to 500. Q Richard, on Yugoslavia, is the United States disappointed that the U.N. so far has been unable to act on the "no-fly" zone? MR. BOUCHER: The "no-fly" zone is an idea that, as I think we said last week, is being looked at, is under consideration. It's something that we're looking at and that we're discussing with allies. As you know, all the parties at the London Conference agreed on a ban on military flights in Bosnia-Hercegovina, and we've been talking within the U.S. Government and with allies on how best to bring that ban into effect. The resolution that we passed last night -- 776 -- stresses the importance of air measures such as the flight ban whose rapid implementation could reinforce humanitarian relief activities in Bosnia-Hercegovina. At this point we ourselves haven't made any decisions, either by ourselves or along with allies, on what will be the best way to implement that ban on flights. I'd point out that in addition at the London Conference they established mechanisms to pursue all the agreements that were reached in London, including the agreement on the ban on military flights, and that indeed the Confidence Building Measures Working Group in Geneva has been meeting to discuss the security of relief flights, including implementation of the ban; and the Yugoslav parties are part of that. Q But why haven't you made a decision? I mean, is it because you just as your -- you seem to be very casual about it, and yet a senior U.S. official who talked about it on background last week said the United States was looking hard and actively at it and seemed to be -- you know, give the impression that there was a little more compelling atmosphere. MR. BOUCHER: I would say, Carol, without getting into unnamed officials, that we are indeed looking at it. We're looking at it actively. We're discussing it with some of our allies. I believe Secretary Cheney indicated -- at least from what I've read in the press, he indicated that he was going to be discussing it with some of the European allies in the next couple days. What we have been doing over the last several days is to secure the resolution that will implement what is obviously the first priority right now, and that's to implement the expanded U.N. relief operation that was recommended by the Secretary General -- the beefing up of UNPROFOR to ensure that humanitarian supplies reach the people who needed them. And so that was something that we were working on that we got passage of a resolution on last night. Q Do you find, though, that the United States perhaps has less clout in this, at this point in time, on Yugoslavia because it's not committing ground troops to this expanded peacekeeping effort? MR. BOUCHER: I don't think I'd describe it that way. We've played an active role. We've played a very active role in London, working with the U.K. and the EC and the others, and we'll continue to play an active role. We've appointed Ambassador Zimmermann. We have people on the ground in Geneva, and we're working very hard on all these things. Q Richard, do any of our allies still support the idea of the air cap or "no-fly" zone? MR. BOUCHER: You'd have to ask them. Q You said a couple moments ago that no decision had been made on how to implement that ban, meaning the ban on flights. MR. BOUCHER: Yes. Q Does that mean that the U.S. view now is that a new U.N. resolution might not be necessary in order to implement that ban -- that is, that you could, in consultation with our allies, if you and allies decided on it, take that measure to implement the ban without a U.N. resolution? MR. BOUCHER: I don't think I ever said that there would be a U.N. resolution necessary to implement this. This is something that the parties agreed to in London, that they agreed to do. I suppose there are some things that might require a resolution and others that might not. I don't know at this point. But, as I said, we haven't made a decision on how best to achieve the ban on military flights that the parties agreed to in London. Q Your view is that implementing that ban would not constitute an expansion, in your words, of the UNPROFOR force, right? MR. BOUCHER: It depends on how it was done, Ralph. I can't say at this point exactly what it would require. Q You said to ask the allies what their position is with regard to having this kind of air ban and policing it. So far you've very carefully not said what the U.S. position is with regard to it. In these consultations, is the U.S. (a) favoring an air ban? Is the U.S. willing to play a role in enforcing the "no-fly" zone? You must in the course of consultations be able to state the U.S. has a position. Or does the U.S. not have a position and really doesn't know where it stands on this particular issue? MR. BOUCHER: Well, Terry, those aren't exactly the two alternatives that I would choose from. Let me try to explain it to you as follows. First of all, the U.N. Security Council, including ourselves, stressed in the resolution last night, whose main purpose was to implement the expanded UNPROFOR -- the expanded provisions, measures, necessary to provide the relief to people who need it. In that resolution we also agreed on the importance of the flight ban that was agreed to in London. That's something which would help from the standpoint of the relief supplies and might have other beneficial effects as well if that were implemented. It's being discussed in the Confidence Building Group. It's an example of the kind of thing that might be useful. Second of all, I think I told you very clearly that we are discussing this, that we're actively considering it, that we're discussing it within the U.S. Government as well as with other allies. We know from Secretary Cheney that he's discussing it. But I also said that at this point we haven't made a firm decision on what's the best way to implement this ban to ensure that it comes into effect. So that's what I said. Q Richard, does the U.S. think that ground monitoring would be at all effective? Is that in -- MR. BOUCHER: I'm not in a position at this point to get into any particular option. Q Richard, is the U.S. satisfied with the attitude or the level of support that the allies are getting in the Security Council from China? Apparently there was a long recess last night at the U.N. and a discussion or dispute between China and the U.S. on the resolution and the wording of the resolution. So what happened? MR. BOUCHER: I didn't follow the play-by-play last night, so I don't know exactly what happened in our discussions of this particular resolution. So I can't comment on that. Q But would you say that you characterize the Chinese attitude as being constructive? MR. BOUCHER: Again, I don't know the particular positions that individual countries have taken on this resolution, so I couldn't try to characterize it. Q Richard, has there been any resolution to the investigation into the downing of the Italian cargo plane? MR. BOUCHER: Not that we know of, no. Q There were some reports yesterday that the culprit was a -- the weapon used was a U.S.-made Stinger. Do you have any comment on that? MR. BOUCHER: There were some charges and statements like that a week or so ago. We are still awaiting the official reports of the United Nations and the Italian Government on the plane incident. Q Did that come from Iran via Afghanistan? MR. BOUCHER: Howard, let's not speculate until we know what the people who know something about this establish as a cause. Q Richard, do you have any reaction to the renewed shelling of Sarajevo apparently by artilleries both monitored and not monitored by the U.N.? MR. BOUCHER: Yes. Maybe I should give you the overall, and then we'll talk about heavy weapons and what's going on with them. Overall, Sarajevo suffered heavy shelling overnight. The Parliament building and the Holiday Inn hotel were among the sites that were hit by Serbian fire. The U.N. Protective Forces reported that some shelling took place from both monitored artillery sites and from undeclared artillery weapons. UNPROFOR has also reported that water and power were restored to some parts of Sarajevo. The humanitarian airlift, as I mentioned, remains suspended. Elsewhere in Bosnia-Hercegovina this morning attacks from Serbian forces were reported against the cities of Bihac, Brcko, Jajce, Gorazde. Tuzla reportedly was attacked also by Serbian artillery. As we said yesterday, the process of grouping heavy weapons so that the U.N. can monitor them is underway. Not all the weapons subject to this grouping have yet been concentrated. We're very disturbed by the continued shelling, and we're also disturbed to learn that some artillery has not been declared in accordance with the agreements made in London. The continued shelling will only undermine this opportunity to stop the killing. It's important to remember that the U.N. does not have physical control of the weapons even when they are grouped; and even when grouped, there's no guarantee that the weapons cannot be fired. We also have reports this morning that Bosnian Government forces have launched counter-attacks and have begun shelling points where heavy weapons are concentrated. Once again, we call on all the parties to cooperate fully with the implementation of the agreements that they made in London in order to put an end to the fighting; and we believe that putting an end to the fighting is, of course, in the interests of all the parties. Q When you say that some of the shelling came from monitored positions or monitored sites, I guess I'm not familiar enough with what the situation is on the ground. But does that mean that at places where UNPROFOR monitors are present -- essentially, under the auspices of UNPROFOR -- shelling is taking place of Sarajevo? MR. BOUCHER: I wouldn't say that the shelling is under the auspices of UNPROFOR. But I think you've seen the wire reports and the other reports of people talking to the U.N. people. They're not in a position to prevent it, even at the sites where the equipment has been grouped. The idea, of course, as we talked about yesterday, is that the heavy weapons that are concentrated and monitored would not be used. Certainly, even, I think, all the parties -- but at least the Bosnian Serbs -- agreed in London that they would not initiate fire from these positions. But I've described the situation to you today; and unfortunately it contains elements of violence and shelling from these weapons that are under monitoring as well as weapons that haven't been declared and put under monitoring, as well as now reports of attacks being launched, shelling, by the Bosnian Government side against the concentrations of heavy weapons. Q Pardon me for asking a fairly obvious question, then, but -- Q (Inaudible) MR. BOUCHER: Bosnian Serb. Q -- that pretty clearly indicates that the monitoring doesn't actually prevent violence, so of what use is it? What's the point? MR. BOUCHER: The point is that it is a step that's designed to make it less likely that these weapons are fired and hopefully to put an end to this kind of firing. It provides some kind of assurance to the parties that they know where they are and hopefully some kind of assurance that they might not be used. But it's a step that's not complete yet. It's a step that's underway, and it's a process that we're continuing our efforts and especially the U.N. is continuing their efforts to see completed. Q Correct me if I'm wrong, but I thought that the deal was that these weapons would only fire if fired upon. There was no deal that they weren't going to fire at all. MR. BOUCHER: I think there was. If you look back at the letter that Karadzic signed in London, it said that he would immediately not initiate fire from these weapons, and then had the four-day/seven-day deadlines for the grouping and the U.N. supervision of them. Indeed, I think after that he said that he wouldn't fire them unless he was fired upon. Of course, one guy's idea of what's fired upon and the other guy's idea of what's fired upon may be quite a bit different, so I really have to leave it to the U.N. to kind of arbitrate this, but, moreover, leave it to the U.N. to keep pursuing the goal of grouping these weapons, monitoring these weapons and seeing happen what we all want to see happen, and that's to see them stop killing people. Q Richard, do you have any indication of provocative actions by the Muslim Bosnians -- the Muslims in Bosnia? You were referring -- MR. BOUCHER: I don't know if you're asking a more general question. I reported today on some of their counter-attacks and the fact that they appear to be shelling some of these areas where the weapons are grouped. I don't have any broader list of actions that they're taking today. Q Richard, where do the Bosnians get their artillery? MR. BOUCHER: This is sort of general Bosnians? I mean, there were tons of -- Q Bosnian Muslims, the ones that you say are firing on Bosnian Serbs? MR. BOUCHER: Oh, I don't know. You'd have to ask them. There are plenty of weapons out there to go around. I've never doubted that anybody can get their hands on a couple mortars. Q But a couple of months ago Haris Silajdzic was calling on the U.S. to give him artillery and the EC to give him artillery because they didn't have any. So it would appear in the last two months that somehow they've come up with it. MR. BOUCHER: I don't know exactly. All we know is that shells are falling. I didn't say exactly where they came from, whether they're mortars or some specific kind of artillery. I don't know. Q The Russians said today that they think that excluding the former Yugoslavia from international organizations would be counterproductive. How much of an obstacle is that to your efforts to do that? MR. BOUCHER: I hadn't seen that Russian statement so I don't know how to evaluate it at this point. Of course, you know our position, and that's that they don't -- the so-called FRY, the Federated Republic of Yugoslavia -- does not deserve recognition as a continuation state. It should apply for membership to any organizations that it wants to be a member of and meet the criteria for doing that. I haven't seen the Russian statement, so I really don't know how to evaluate it. Q Do you have anything further on the Iranian shipment of weapons into the region? Any additional shipments the U.S. is prepared to disclose at this point? MR. BOUCHER: No, nothing new that I'm aware of. Q Anything you're aware of about an Iranian response to the U.N. letter? MR. BOUCHER: Not that I've heard of. It's something I'd have to check on. Q Another subject? Q Is China boycotting the Mideast arms talks? MR. BOUCHER: Again, we've addressed that before. We've seen their public statements that say that they would find it difficult to participate, but you'll have to ask China for what it's intentions are. Q But the Mideast arms talks are starting today. MR. BOUCHER: Oh, the Mideast arms talks. I thought you were talking about the arms control in the Middle East thing. Q No. The multilaterals in Moscow that opened today. MR. BOUCHER: I don't know. I'd have to check. Q You did that yesterday. Or you said yesterday that we would have a list of the other participants. MR. BOUCHER: I said yesterday I'd get you a list of the participants in the water talks, and I think I did. Nobody seemed to want the list of the participants in the Moscow talks, and I didn't bring it with me today. So I don't know if they -- Q Can you make it available in the Press Office? Can we have -- I think -- well, the record will show whatever was said yesterday, but I think what was said yesterday was that the list of participants in all the multilats there taking place would be made available. MR. BOUCHER: Well, I don't think so, Ralph, but I'd be glad to make available to you -- Q Whatever the record says -- MR. BOUCHER: -- our best list of who's in Moscow for these talks. Q And you don't know whether China is in them or not. You didn't look at the list? MR. BOUCHER: I don't know whether China is there or not. I don't remember. Q Richard, I believe you'll find that China is boycotting or has told the United States that it is boycotting, and so could you get a response from the U.S. Government? MR. BOUCHER: I'll find out if we have anything.

[Middle East Peace Process

Q Also on the general topic, do you have anything you'd care to say about the reports today and previous days about U.S. negotiations with Israel on weapon supplies and pre-positioning, and so on and so forth? MR. BOUCHER: I'm afraid only in the most general sense, to point out that we have a close and on-going military relationship with Israel. The President has made clear, including in recent days, that we will help maintain Israel's qualitative edge. The White House, in announcing the sale of F-15s to Saudi Arabia, stated that we are consulting closely with the Government of Israel to ensure that steps are taken to provide for the maintenance of Israel's qualitative edge. And in this connection, we are exploring a number of areas where enhanced cooperation would be in our mutual interest. But I don't have any more specifics or details that I can offer you at this point. Q You can't tell us even how that exploration is taking place? MR. BOUCHER: No, I'm afraid I can't. Q Would that be through the usual State Department channels? MR. BOUCHER: I'm afraid I'm not in a position to explain how it's taking place. Q Richard, back on the multilaterals. Do you have anything to say on the Syrian and Lebanese boycott of all the multilateral rounds? MR. BOUCHER: Their non-attendance at these meetings is a matter of record that we've gone into before. The situation hasn't changed. We continue to stress that they're open to all the parties, that we've encouraged all the parties to participate, as I said yesterday, as a complement but not a substitute for the bilateral talks. We certainly encourage all parties to attend. Q Speaking of Syria, did you ever take a look at the fact that Syria and Lebanon apparently have postponed talks on withdrawal of troops? MR. BOUCHER: Well, mine sort of puts it the other way around. Maybe it's the same event, looked through in different eyes. Lebanese President Hrawi and Syrian President Assad have taken the first step by meeting to discuss the issue. We anticipate further consultations between Lebanon and Syria in preparation for a decision on the pullback of Syrian troops. The long-standing U.S. policy on this issue, I think, is well known, but nonetheless I'll repeat it for you. We support the full implementation of both the letter and the spirit of the Taif Accord and the withdrawal of all non-Lebanese forces from Lebanon. We've repeatedly made this clear to all the concerned parties. We believe that the Taif Accord requires coordination now by the governments of Lebanon and Syria on the decision to redeploy troops to the western entrances of the Bekaa Valley. In our view, that decision should be taken by both governments this month, with redeployment occurring shortly thereafter and as soon as possible. We also urge the completion of the process of disarming all militias, particularly Hizballah. We believe that full adherence and compliance of the parties to the Taif Agreement will offer the best chance of restoring the unity, independence, sovereignty, and territorial integrity of Lebanon. Q Richard, you seem to want to put the best face on it, but are you really satisfied with what essentially was a meeting that produced nothing else -- a postponement of any real action? MR. BOUCHER: Carol, I think the characterization that we see is that they've taken a first step. We've stressed, moreover, that they need to take further steps, that they need to make the decisions now, and that they need to do the redeployment soon after. "Satisfied" comes at that point. But we've urged them to continue this course that they've now started upon, having a meeting to make these decisions. We anticipate that they will have further meetings. Q Richard, have U.S. officials met with Syrian officials here in Washington in the last, say, few days or so. They've been meeting with several of the other participants in the peace talks. MR. BOUCHER: I'm not aware of anything overnight, but I think we've reported to you that Djerejian has had meetings, I think, by now with all the delegations. But I'll double-check on that. Q For about 12-13 years you talked about the need for the withdrawal of all foreign forces from Lebanon. Lately, you talk about the need for the withdrawal of non-Lebanese forces from Lebanon. Is there any particular significance to this switch? MR. BOUCHER: I don't think so. I hadn't even noticed it, so I didn't do it on purpose. Q Richard, the head of the Israeli delegation, Elyakim Rubinstein, requested a meeting with Acting Secretary of State Lawrence Eagleburger. Is the meeting -- what's the status of that? And is the meeting between Kanter and another Israeli delegate, is that designed to -- is that supposed to be in place of that? MR. BOUCHER: I thought I said yesterday that Eagleburger and Rubinstein were meeting yesterday afternoon. I understand that they, in fact, did. The meeting today between Director General Ivry of the Israeli Foreign Ministry* and Kanter is one of the fairly frequent series of meetings that they have together. This is Kanter's counterpart in the Israeli Government. They meet whenever they can to go over a whole host of things. Q Richard, were you told by the French that Dumas was going to go to Damascus and talk to the Syrians? What do you think of that initiative? Do you think it's misguided energy, or do you think it can be useful in the current bilaterals? MR. BOUCHER: I don't really have any particular comment on it. I think various parties and interested parties have meetings all the time. We don't comment on everybody else's bilateral meetings. Q Do you see a need for a larger European role in the Mideast peace talks, though, which is something the Israelis and others apparently are calling for? MR. BOUCHER: I think that's a question I'd rather take and get you a proper answer. * CORRECTION: The meeting was between Deputy Foreign Minister Yossi Beilin and Under Secretary Kanter Q On Somalia, do you have any consideration of helping African agricultural innovation programs on a long-term basis to increase the crops substantially rather than to give just short-term relief aid? MR. BOUCHER: Well, in fact, since you ask, let me tell you about what the United Nations announced on September 12. They announced a far-reaching program of humanitarian action for Somalia through which U.N. agencies will help to fill the void caused by the lack of many basic services. They have an action program that's outlined in their statement. It includes free food delivery and supplementary feedings, provision of shelter materials -- blankets and clothes -- urgent provision of adequate clean water supplies, basic health services, including vaccinations and then things like projects to create employment opportunities and the rebuilding of agriculture and livestock sectors. Further details on these are all available from the United Nations. Q And yesterday, the New York Times, in an article, criticized IMF not to give enough funds to renovate the African agriculture situation in a general sense. Are you agreeing to the plan? MR. BOUCHER: I hadn't seen that, so I don't know. Q Thank you. (Press briefing concluded at 12:56 p.m.)