US Department of State Daily Briefing #131: Friday, 9/18/92

Boucher Source: State Department Spokesman Richard Boucher Description: Washington, DC Date: Sep, 18 19929/18/92 Category: Briefings Region: Subsaharan Africa, E/C Europe, East Asia, MidEast/North Africa Country: Yugoslavia (former), Bosnia-Herzegovina, Serbia-Montenegro, Somalia Subject: Regional/Civil Unrest, Military Affairs, Development/Relief Aid, United Nations 12:05 P.M. (ON THE RECOND UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED) MR. BOUCHER: Those of you who are here will be happy to hear my first administrative announcement, that there will be no briefing here on Monday. In view of the events in New York and the President's speech, we decided it was not necessary to brief down here so we won't. Joe will be with you on the other days of next week, unless we do something that causes him to cancel a briefing. I'll leave the schedule for next week to him; but you can expect to see Joe Snyder briefing from here on Tuesday.

[Update on Yugoslavia and on Somalia]

. Now, I'd like to do a brief update on Yugoslavia and on Somalia. As you know, the Sarajevo airlift of humanitarian supplies remains suspended. The convoys for today: The U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees has convoys out of Split, carrying 40 tons to Mostar, 96 tons to Vitez, and a convoy of at least 100 tons to Sarajevo. Planned Saturday's convoys are to Grude and Sarajevo. I don't think there are any convoys on Sunday. There are convoys out of [agreb that are run by the High Commissioner. They're on a regularly weekly schedule. Next week the convoys will be sent to Kladusa on Monday, Banja Luka on Tuesday, Knin on Wednesday, and Kladusa on Friday. The cycle begins again on the 29th with another convoy to Kladusa. In Prague, the final plenary session of the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe is in session at this time. We understand that the plenary has approved all the working group recommendations related to the Yugoslav crisis. These have to do with placing monitors in hot spots; placing monitors in neighboring areas and countries like sanctions monitors in Romania, Bulgaria and Hungary; the long-term missions to Macedonia as well. We expect to receive copies of these decision documents soon, and we'll make them available in the Press Office. I think yesterday I outlined for you some of the contributions in terms of personnel that the U.S. expects to make to those missions. And then finally, on Somalia, the relief flights yesterday: There were a total of nine flights, two destinations. They delivered 102 metric tons of humanitarian aid. The breakdowns are four flights to Baidoa with 55 metric tons; five flights to Belet Weyne carrying approximately 47 metric tons. Yesterday, there weren't any flights inside Kenya. That is all I have in the way of updates, so I'd be glad to take your questions. Q Well, what about the plane that went down this morning? Do you have anything on that? MR. BOUCHER: I assume you've heard from the Defense Department on that. My understanding is that they suspended relief flights to Belet Weyne today after an incident in which a U.S. military C-130 was struck by gunfire from the ground. None of the crew was injured, and the aircraft was not really endangered. One bullet struck the aircraft. Further details you have to get from Defense. So today they're flying relief flights to Baidoa and Wajir but not to Belet Weyne. Q What does this say to you about the ability to have future flights to Somalia and safety? MR. BOUCHER: Well, they'll investigate this incident and figure out what it means, and the military people on the ground will make the decisions on where they can safely deliver relief supplies. What it tells us is what we know, and that is that it's a dangerous place, it's a difficult situation, and these guys are making courageous efforts to get the stuff in. Q Do you think there's any likelihood that future flights will be stopped? MR. BOUCHER: We'll have to see. That's a decision for the folks on the ground to make. Q This may be a question for Defense, but did they return fire and did the Marine amphibious group on the coast get involved? MR. BOUCHER: No. Q No and no? MR. BOUCHER: None of the above, as far as I know. You can check with Defense, but I don't have any information that either of those things happened. Q What can you tell us about how the relief supply effort is going? Is the U.S. and its allies having success in getting food to people who need it? MR. BOUCHER: It's an important program. It's a useful program. The flights started -- let's see -- to northern Kenya on August 22 and in Somalia on the 28th. This is the most effective means to deliver food quickly where the need is greatest. It's directly supporting the feeding kitchens that are keeping hundreds of thousands of Somalis alive. The airlift is also necessary -- it's necessary to do it in this fashion because of the difficult security situation. But it is part of a larger program and a larger plan that we and the United Nations are entering into -- have been working on and are carrying out I should say, in order to provide some real relief to the people out there who need it. Howard. Q Richard, the larger plan, as I guess you've made clear from the podium, and as relief groups certainly have made clear, will depend on getting supplies in by sea. Where do things stand as far as the Pakistani guards in Mogadishu? Are they getting set up? Are they in business? MR. BOUCHER: The advance group for the Pakistanis, we flew them in over the course of last week or so. They've got 63 people on the ground, and they'll have the rest of the 500-man contingent there by the end of the month. Q Are the 63 actually doing anything at this point? MR. BOUCHER: I don't know how to describe their activities. I assume they're setting up for the arrival of the others and carrying out whatever plans they can. Q Is there any reason for any optimism about political progress there that would make the effort to deliver supplies more effective? MR. BOUCHER: There are people working on the political problems out there. I don't know of any particular new developments in that respect. But the U.N. envoy, Mr. Sahnoun, has been out there recently. You might get some update from the U.N. Q Has looting been a problem with the relief supplies that have been airlifted in over the past three weeks? MR. BOUCHER: That's something I'd have to check on, George. Not that I've heard of, but I'm not sure that means no. They try to do this -- they scope out the situation; they work with non-governmental organizations; they have people on the ground to take the stuff and put it in warehouses and distribute it for them. So it's all carefully planned in order to specifically try to avoid that problem. You know as well that other parts of the program, like putting food into the markets so that market prices go down, are intended to minimize the attractiveness of looting. Q Another subject, Yugoslavia: Has there been agreement on the U.N. seat? MR. BOUCHER: On the U.N. seat, no, at this point the Security Council, as a whole, has not yet met on the question. We continue to be in touch with other Security Council members. I understand there was a Perm Five meeting that was going to be held this morning. I think our position is very clear. Serbia and Montenegro are not the continuation of the former Yugoslavia, and they should reapply for membership. Q But apart from a formal meeting and a formal vote, is the United States now confident that it's got some sort of compromise, or a proposal that can fly on this subject? MR. BOUCHER: We try not to predict things and express confidence in advance. We're still working on it. We're working towards the achievement of our goal, and that's to get a resolution that reflects our position. Certainly, there are others working on it as well. Q Are you still working on the question of a "no-fly" zone or a cap over Yugoslavia? MR. BOUCHER: That's something that's still under discussion. I don't have any news on that. Q Has that advanced any more since the last time we talked about it? MR. BOUCHER: Not in any formal way, in terms of putting paper on the table, or something like that; no.

[North Korea]

Q Richard, there was an interview in The New York Times today with the President of South Korea that suggested that North Korea's nuclear program was less of a threat than the United States and others had represented it to be. Does that reflect the U.S. view? Have you modified your view? MR. BOUCHER: I also saw in the interview that he stressed the importance of concluding the second mutual inspection agreement between the North and South. And certainly our view is the one that I expressed the other day, that it's welcome that they've accepted the IAEA safeguards, and that those safeguards programs have started. We also think it's very important that they conclude the mutual inspections that they've been discussing with the South Koreans, and it's only when those things take place that we'll be able to get a clearer picture and a firmer idea. Q But that was not the question. Last November, the United States -- senior U.S. officials -- MR. BOUCHER: No, I mean, you're saying were we estimating that they were going to get to a bomb too fast or were we overly concerned about the program. And what I'm saying is we need this program of inspections to really establish what exactly it was that they were up to, and then we can answer those kinds of questions. Q So you haven't come to -- you haven't modified your view at all that? I mean, there were some very strong statements made at the time that North Korea was on the verge of a bomb; it was the greatest threat to the region. I'd have to go back and dig them out, but are you pulling back from that kind of very strong, very sort of urgent assessment? From the tone of that interview, it sounded as if Western concerns were overblown. MR. BOUCHER: The acquisition of a bomb by North Korea, the development of a bomb by North Korea, work towards the development of a bomb by North Korea, is a grave concern. The program that we have outlined to try to stop that and make sure it does not occur is one of getting both the IAEA inspections in there and, second of all, of having these North-South mutual inspections, and that's something that we've strongly supported. Until the results of those inspections are in and until that process is established, (a) we won't be satisfied, and (b) I don't think we'd revise our opinion of potential dangers. Q Richard, would the State Department be hosting any arms control -- any U.S.-Mideast talks before Monday? Any weekend activity that you anticipate? MR. BOUCHER: I didn't check. I don't know. Q Does the peace process need saving? Is it in danger? MR. BOUCHER: I guess our view is that there have been ups and downs, but the parties -- all the parties continue to demonstrate a commitment to addressing the core issues -- the core issues being land, peace and security. Q What about the call for the U.S. to intervene? MR. BOUCHER: Well, we're playing our role, the role that we've played before -- honest broker, catalyst, driving force -- and continue to do so. Assistant Secretary Djerejian and our peace process team have met with Syrian, Lebanese, Jordanian, Palestinian and Israeli representatives throughout the week. They've been in close contact. They've had numerous telephone conversations with all the parties, and they expect to remain in that kind of contact. Q Any meetings since the Syrians came out complaining about what they describe as Israeli intransigence? In other words, any meetings since yesterday? MR. BOUCHER: There are meetings and contacts all the time. I would expect so, Barry, but I'm not in a position to give you a list. Q Well, contacts are hard to keep track of but -- MR. BOUCHER: Well, telephone calls. I mean, people talk to each other in different ways. Q No, I didn't expect you to have a log of telephone calls, but more high profile as when Djerejian -- MR. BOUCHER: But if I tell you that there wasn't a meeting, then you'd conclude there wasn't any, you know, discussion. Q No, I won't. MR. BOUCHER: We have telephone contacts and phone calls and meetings all the time. It's a regular process. It's not something I find it easy to report on. Q No, I promise I won't hold you aloof from the Mideast negotiations, but it would be significant if Djerejian or Eagleburger saw either the Syrians, the Israelis or both in the last, you know, 24, 36 hours. MR. BOUCHER: Again, Barry, he has different kinds of contact and frequent contact, and I just don't have a catalogue for you. Q Do you have anything on the Libyan defector who has been helping the United States concerning the Pan Am Flight 103? MR. BOUCHER: Obviously not. Q Back on North Korea: There was a report in Seoul, I think, that the United States has modified its position on the mutual inspection itself, and now the U.S. is ready to raise the level of the contact with North Korea if North Korea accepts model inspection on one civilian and one military site. Can you confirm that? MR. BOUCHER: I don't -- I haven't seen that report, so I really don't have any way of commenting on it. I discussed our relationship with North Korea yesterday, I think it was, and I'd refer you back to that for our basic position. Q Richard, can you tell us anything about China's purchase of air-to-air refueling technology from Iran and, going back the other way, China's supplying Iran with nuclear technology? MR. BOUCHER: We talked about the Chinese nuclear sale, the power plant sale the other day, so I really don't have anything to add to that. And, no, I don't have anything on the other question. Q Richard, just because the air-to-air technology may be of American origin, can you look into that? MR. BOUCHER: O.K. I'll look into it. If there's some specific report that's been out there, I haven't seen it. I'd appreciate knowing about that, too. Q Well, I think it's a reasonable assumption that if Iran's air force was by and large supplied and trained by the U.S. Air Force, that that technology may be of U.S. origin. MR. BOUCHER: I'll see if we have anything on that subject that we might say to you. I kind of doubt it, but I'll see. Q It is, I'm told, it is U.S. technology sold to Iran in the late 70s. MR. BOUCHER: Sid, I can find people to tell you anything around here, but I'm not sure I'll be able to. Q Richard, have you gone through Yugoslavia? MR. BOUCHER: To some extent, yes. The update on the flights and convoys, and things like that. Q What are you saying about the fighting yesterday that was perhaps harsher than had been seen in some days, and do you have an assessment of the U.N.'s effort to assemble and control the weaponry? MR. BOUCHER: The fighting yesterday I think is similar to what I'm about to report to you for today. I think we have yesterday's update available in the Press Office if you want that. But today Sarajevo continued to suffer heavy shelling. Serbian forces began shelling in the early hours of the morning, hitting both the center of the city and the suburb of Dobrinja. Shelling is taking place from both monitored and undeclared sites. There was sporadic small arms fire in Dobrinja and in Stup today. It's clear to us that the Serbs have not concentrated all their heavy weapons, despite their commitment to do so, and they, in fact, have increased their indiscriminate, unjustified shelling of Sarajevo. Elsewhere in Bosnia-Hercegovina, there was continued fighting around Bihac, Brcko and Gorazde. In Croatia, we have nothing new. Q Are there any plans to bring additional pressure on the Serbs to concentrate their heavy weapons? MR. BOUCHER: There are -- that was one of the things that was agreed to in London and, like all the other things that people agreed to in London, there are plans to carry out steps to impose -- well, should I say to tighten up the sanctions, to introduce monitors, and take a variety of other steps to keep the focus on and keep the pressure on them. Q But on the decision taken in London to concentrate the heavy weapons, can you say whether it has been a success? MR. BOUCHER: Well, obviously, at this point, Mark, it hasn't, but that doesn't mean you just drop it and forget it. Q Richard, I know former Secretary of State Baker has addressed this in the Philippines, but if you can just jog my memory. What is the United States position on possession of the Spratly and the Paracel Islands? MR. BOUCHER: The position is whatever Secretary Baker last said in the Philippines, and I'll be glad to look it up for you. Q Is it something like settled? MR. BOUCHER: It's not something I'm going to do off the top of my head. Q Thank you.(###) (The briefing concluded at 1:22 p.m.)