US Department of State Daily Briefing #130: Thursday, 9/17/92

Boucher Source: State Department Spokesman Richard Boucher Description: Washington, DC Date: Sep, 17 19929/17/92 Category: Briefings Region: Subsaharan Africa, E/C Europe, East Asia, Southeast Asia, MidEast/North Africa Country: Yugoslavia (former), Bosnia-Herzegovina, Serbia-Montenegro, Macedonia, Somalia, Russia, North Korea, Vietnam, Sudan Subject: Regional/Civil Unrest, Military Affairs, Development/Relief Aid, United Nations, Arms Control, Nuclear Nonproliferation, Refugees, CSCE 12:00 P. M. (ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED) MR. BOUCHER: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. I've got two updates. One is the Yugoslav update and one is the Somalia update, and then I'd be glad to take your questions.

[Former Yugoslavia Update]

The humanitarian airlift into Sarajevo, as you know, remains suspended. The temporary airlift into Split that was undertaken to build up stockpiles for land convoy deliveries was ended yesterday. There were 74 flights that delivered over 900 metric tons of relief goods. The airlift was considered a temporary measure. Warehouses reportedly are now at capacity. The High Commissioner for Refugees reports that daily deliveries via land convoy to Sarajevo are increasing. The average daily delivery now exceeds 100 metric tons and on some days has reached 150 metric tons. The High Commissioner hopes to reach 250 metric tons per day by the end of September. That's the amount that's equivalent to the maximum daily delivery of the airlift. Convoys scheduled for today also include 40 metric tons to Mostar and 96 metric tons to Vitez. Tomorrow the High Commissioner plans a 40 metric ton convoy to Grude. On the International Committee of the Red Cross, they now have 8,416 prisoners registered in 21 camps in Bosnia-Hercegovina. Of these, 913 are in Croatian hands, 854 of them in Muslim hands, and 6,649 are in Serbian hands. The Red Cross is not able to estimate the overall number of people being detained since it's not been given lists either of all detainees nor the location of all the places of detention, and it's continuing to pursue that kind of information. The Red Cross has also provided badly needed relief supplies to certain facilities where conditions of detention have been particularly severe.

[Prague meetings of the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe: US Activities]

To update you on the Prague meetings of the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe, the meeting of the Senior Officials is now in the second day in Prague. Most of the work is now being done in working groups -- small issues-oriented working groups. They have groups on: -- Implementation of the report of the humanitarian mission to the detention camps. I think we gave you a copy yesterday of Ambassador Blackwell's statement and copies of that full report are available. They've visited quite a few places, and they have a lot of stories to tell. -- The composition and mandate of long-duration missions to Macedonia and to Kosovo, Sandjak and Vojvodina; and -- The arrangements for the sanctions monitoring missions in Romania, Bulgaria and Hungary. Just to tell you a little more about the long-term monitoring missions, Ambassador Frowick and Norwegian Ambassador Tore Bogh both briefed the Committee of Senior Officials on the findings of their initial visits to the regions. Working groups are now meeting to determine the mandate and composition of each mission, and the United States has offered two officers for each of the missions. Ambassador Bogh expects to lead a preparatory contingent of his mission to the region, perhaps as early as this weekend. Ambassador Frowick expects to return to Macedonia around September 23. On sanctions monitoring, the U.S. and the European Community put forth a comprehensive sanctions monitoring plan for Hungary, Bulgaria and Romania. It's now being finalized in one of the working groups. The United States has offered to contribute nine U.S. customs officers for the start-up of the mission. Also, the European Community and a number of Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe member states have offered to provide monitors as well. The plan anticipates having initial teams on the ground in the next week or ten days. As I think I mentioned yesterday, the U.S. and the U.K. are sending a fact-finding team to Macedonia September 29 to talk about tightened sanctions enforcement. In Geneva, September 18 we expect to see talks between the leaders of the three groups in Bosnia-Hercegovina. This would be the first meeting of the working group on Bosnia-Hercegovina. This is the third working group to begin its work. The working groups on confidence-building measures and on minorities have already begun. And with that on Yugoslavia, let me turn to Somalia. On flights yesterday, we had six U.S. military relief flights, two destinations, and a total of 63 metric tons of aid. The breakdown is as follows: There were four flights to Baidoa, two flights to Belet Weyne. There weren't any relief flights inside Kenya yesterday. There are currently 11 Department of Defense aircraft available for relief missions to Somalia and inside Kenya when necessary. Two additional aircraft are scheduled to rejoin the flight rotation later today. These aircraft have completed their assignment. It related to the deployment of the 60-man advance unit of the U.N. food guards from Djibouti, and in order to fill the temporary gap in Defense Department relief flights, the U.S. Agency for International Development's Disaster Assistance Response Team contracted a Southern Air Transport C-130 for the next several days. Southern Air will make two flights daily to Belet Weyne and carry up to 17.5 metric tons of cargo. So that's what we're doing with airplanes in Somalia. And that's all the updates I have. I'd be glad to take your questions. Q When you mentioned Mostar, it reminded me that the U.S. focus on Bosnia has been to speak negatively of the Serbian designs on the country. But the Croats have established their own enclave in Mostar, and it seems they're trying very hard to suppress Muslim culture there and to reinforce a Croatian hold. Bosnia is falling into several hands all at once. I just wondered, does the State Department have a position on the division of Bosnia now by -- I think I know your position on Serbians, but what about Croatians? MR. BOUCHER: Barry, first of all let me absolutely reject your characterization of positions that we've taken. I've just reported to you on who's holding what prisoners. When we report on fighting, we report -- we call them the way we see it. We've told you that there's enough blame to go around for everybody on the things that are happening -- on the persecutions, on the violence, on the fighting -- although we've maintained and continue to maintain a view that the preponderance of the blame falls on the Serbian shoulders because of what they're doing and particularly with regard to their practice of ethnic cleansing and the sieges. So we call them the way we see them. And, yes, on the issue of dividing up Bosnia, we've very clearly stated our views. If you look at Acting Secretary Eagleburger's remarks at the London Conference and other things that we've said around that time and since that time, we've made very clear our view that we do not support the "cantonization" of Bosnia. We reject that idea. That idea was, in fact, rejected by the participants in the London Conference as a whole, and one of the things that we wanted the London Conference to focus on, which it indeed did focus on, are the provisions that we can all make in terms of humanitarian relief and other arrangements so that people from whatever ethnic group involved are free to go back to their homes. Q That answers it. Q Richard, just a technical question: What is Southern Air Transport? MR. BOUCHER: It's a charter airline company. Q Is it owned by the United States? MR. BOUCHER: Sid, I have no idea who owns it. You can check. Q Richard, there's a new report out today by a panel of experts from the Inter-American Dialogue, calling for a major expansion in U.S. communications with Cuba, essentially people-to-people programs. They call for regular air service, direct mail links, exchanges of scholars, etc. Do you have any comment? MR. BOUCHER: No. I hadn't seen the report, and I really don't have any comment, George. Q Richard, what's the status of the START Treaty? MR. BOUCHER: Status of the START Treaty? Q Yes. I mean, as near as you know, is it moving along? Is it -- MR. BOUCHER: It's up on the Hill. I mean, we sent it up to the Hill. We've urged ratification. I don't know exactly where it stands up there. Q Are you expecting action any time soon? MR. BOUCHER: I don't know. Q What about the other -- the four former Soviet republics who are part of this? Are you persuaded that they're still abiding by the commitments that they've made and that they're actively moving forward on ratification? MR. BOUCHER: I don't know the status of ratification in each of the places. I'm afraid I'm not completely up to date on where it stands in the U.S. Congress, but we have sent it up. We have urged ratification of the START Treaty as soon as possible. We don't think it needs to be held, and we've urged the others to ratify it as well. Q Well, I ask the question because there are some Ukraine officials who are at a conference in Washington this week, and apparently they made some fairly strong statements that have led people to believe that, in fact, Ukraine may be hedging again on its commitments to become non-nuclear and to give up the weapons on its territory. I was wondering if the United States had gotten any sign of that from Kiev? MR. BOUCHER: Carol, I would have to check where things stand. I can't deal with unnamed Ukraine officials saying something. I don't know who they are or what they said -- Q I can give you the names. MR. BOUCHER: -- so I can't tell you whether it's meaningful or not what they said. I think the point is that we've all agreed to this START agreement and the other arrangements that were made around it, and we think they're important. We think we should all pursue it; and I'll try to check for you on where it stands. I'm not sure anybody has ratified it yet. Q Maybe the question could be having a little amendment. The question I would have in mind is, has the Ukrainian Government notified Washington that it has changed its mind since it told Secretary of State James Baker that it would adhere to the START Treaty? MR. BOUCHER: Barry, I'd say that's a good question to ask the Ukrainian Government, but I'll try to check on where we are on the status. Q (Inaudible) the Ukrainians are saying here in Washington. They're saying they changed their mind, and I'm saying, are they just blowing smoke or did they tell the U.S. Government this? MR. BOUCHER: I don't know if these are official spokesmen for the Ukrainian Government or if these are some academic types, if these are journalists. I don't know anything about this thing that you're telling me or you're asking me to react to. If you want to know the position of the Ukrainian Government, I'd suggest it's better to ask the Ukrainian Government. If we have anything we can share with you, I'll be glad to check and see. Okay? Q No, it's not okay, because Baker and his people spent an enormous amount of time on this very, very, very important treaty. MR. BOUCHER: He certainly did, and it remains important. Q And it remains important, and he nailed it down. It was a triumphant -- it was considered a triumphant accomplishment to do this, and there was always some wavering by a couple of those nuclear states. Now, I would think the U.S. Government has already heard enough -- just here in this room -- to check with Ukraine and say, "Are you folks changing your mind about the treaty?" That's all we're asking. Have they notified the U.S. that they are reneging on their commitment? MR. BOUCHER: Barry, I'll check and see if we can get you that information, but you might also want to go closer to the source of these supposed views and asked the Ukrainians themselves. Q Sure. We'll do that. Thank you. Q Richard, just to follow up on Carol, the -- there were two members of the Ukrainian Parliament that made this statement this week in a public forum, at a conference. We have texts of what they said, and they say very clearly that they aren't sure whether they want to (a) ratify START, (b) sign onto the nuclear non-proliferation agreement. What would the United States response be to that? What would be the implications on not only START, but on the historic agreement between the two Presidents, Yeltsin and Bush, a couple of months ago? Because we were told that without the START verification regimes, the second treaty can't go through. It can't be completed or carried out. MR. BOUCHER: Sid, I'll be glad to check and see if we can update you on the progress of the treaty in the Ukraine. There are a wide variety of views, I'm sure, within any parliament around the world. I'm sure they are different views in our Congress on these things that have been expressed by different people. There's no way I can react at this moment to something that you're telling me.

[North Korea]

Q North Korea is reported to have sent a letter to you proposing enhancement of the bilateral relations between North Korea and America. Have you sent a reply, in a written form, about that letter? MR. BOUCHER: I'm not in a position to get into specific letters or replies. You know that we periodically have meetings with the North Koreans in Beijing. I checked and the most recent meetings were September 8 and September 14, for the 25th and the 26th times. These meetings began in early 1989. North Korea has expressed its interest in improving relations with us both publicly and privately. In January 1992, Under Secretary Kanter, in a meeting with Kim Young Sun, the Party Secretary for Foreign Affairs, laid out the U.S. conditions for improving relations. We've used our meetings in Beijing to reinforce that message. Just to review, our basic position is that improvement in relations will require that North Korea satisfactorily address the following: First of all, the nuclear issue: We've welcomed North Korea's ratification of the International Atomic Energy Agency Safeguards Agreement. At the same time, we've also continued to urge them to follow through and promptly agree to a credible North/South Korean nuclear inspection regime. Also, there must be substantive progress towards the regularization of the return of Korean War MIA remains, an end to North Korea's exports of ballistic missiles and missile technology, and increased respect for human rights. And, of course, we've coordinated closely with our South Korean allies on all these questions. Q And you mean you replied that kind of answer to North Korea immediately at the session or later? MR. BOUCHER: I'm afraid we never have, and we won't start now, getting into immediately what happened at any of these sessions that we've had at these discussions, so I'm just not going to get into any particular meeting or any particular discussion. I think you're well aware that North Korea has sought to improve the relations between the United States and North Korea. These are the positions that the United States Government has always taken, and these are the positions that we use the meetings in Beijing to reinforce. Q Did you say that the North Korean official with whom Kanter met was Kim Il-song? MR. BOUCHER: No. Kim Young Sun. Q What? MR. BOUCHER: Kim Young Sun. Q Oh. Kim Young Sun. Q Yesterday, you were in the position of having to respond to reports that the Chinese were pulling out of the U.N.-sponsored -- you know, the Big Five arms control talks. Do you have anything further on the subject, now that it seems to be more than a report but a fact? Anything to add? MR. BOUCHER: No. Q Have you heard anything from them? MR. BOUCHER: No. Q You told them, "We regret, we hope you change your mind?" They haven't come back and said, you're right, huh? MR. BOUCHER: I haven't heard that they have expressed any change in their opinions. Q There was a report yesterday in the Moscow news about Russian chemical weapons tests? MR. BOUCHER: We don't have anything to confirm it. We don't have anything to confirm those reports from Moscow. We have been working with a large number of countries to have the U.N. endorse and open for signature the landmark Chemicals Weapons Convention, which was completed this year in Geneva. That will result in the total destruction of chemical weapons stockpiles over ten years, as the U.S. and Russia have also agreed separately. The Convention would prohibit the development, production, acquisition, stockpiling, transfer, and use of chemical weapons. Q Do you have anything on yesterday's meeting between Mr. Clark and the Vietnamese Ambassador to the U.N.? MR. BOUCHER: We put out a statement yesterday afternoon about -- one of the things that he was informed of was the allocation of some $2 million to help returnees, people who returned voluntarily to Vietnam. That also contains some words about the meeting, in general, so I'd leave it at that. Q Any new pitches to the Sudanese Government that you can tell us about, about relief efforts in the south and how they're blocking them and trying to exterminate some non-Arab group in the north? MR. BOUCHER: No new pitches that I would cite today. It's something that has been of concern to us, that we have pursued often with the Sudanese Government -- the problems of the relief efforts as well as human rights violations and other problems have been things that we've pursued. The humanitarian organizations have been flying food into Juba. We've been supporting that with a lot of food, and I think the Press Office has the numbers on what we've given. We've urged both the government and the rebel group that operates down there not to block these shipments and to facilitate the delivery of relief because there are a lot of people -- I think it's over a million people -- who are at risk. Q Thanks. MR. BOUCHER: Thank you. (Press briefing concluded at 12:18 p.m.)