US Department of State Daily Briefing #133: Wednesday, 9/23/92

snyder Source: State Department Deputy Spokesman Joseph Snyder Description: Washington, DC Date: Sep, 23 19929/23/92 Category: Briefings Region: Subsaharan Africa, E/C Europe, MidEast/North Africa, Southeast Asia Country: Yugoslavia (former), Bosnia-Herzegovina, Serbia-Montenegro, Somalia, Thailand, Russia, Sudan, Cuba, Subject: Regional/Civil Unrest, Military Affairs, Development/Relief Aid, United Nations, POW/MIA Issues, Arms Control, Democratization 1:0l P.M. (ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED) MR. SNYDER: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. I apologize for my tardiness today.

[US-Russian Talks on Global Protection System]

Let me start off with several things. First of all, we will be -- I wanted to announce that on Monday and Tuesday, high-level U.S. and Russian delegations, headed by Assistant to the President Dennis Ross, Under Secretary Wisner, and Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Mamedov met here to continue discussions on a global protection system. We had a productive exchange of views on the threats posed by the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and their delivery systems, on how a global protection system would contribute to our mutual security, and on how we might cooperate to make the benefits of improved defense technologies available to both nations and other interested countries. A joint statement was issued and copies are available in the Press Office.


On Sudan: We've talked about this for the last several days, and I wanted to give you a little bit more on that situation. Over the past several weeks, our Ambassador in Khartoum has protested repeatedly to Sudanese officials, including directly to President Bashir, demanding information about Mr. Andrew Tombe and our other local employees in Juba. We've also called in the Sudanese Ambassador in Washington. The Sudanese Government first responded with evasions and lies, and now is taking the position that our concern about our employees constitutes -- I quote -- "interference in Sudan's internal affairs." We categorically reject this argument. Deputy Assistant Secretary Houdek is meeting today with a Sudanese delegation led by Finance Minister Hamdi. Mr. Houdek will express our outrage at the killing of our local employees and reiterate our demand that the Sudanese Government provide a full accounting. He will also demand that the Sudanese Government permit one of our embassy officers to travel to Juba to check on the welfare of our remaining local employees. Q Joe, on that one, do you have confirmation of the reported execution of the second? MR. SNYDER: No, nothing further than we had yesterday. We still have a strong suspicion, but we do not have confirmation yet. Q And they've given you no information on that second case? MR. SNYDER: They've given us no information, no. Q How about the other missing people? You said there were a dozen or so, associated -- your U.N. people? MR. SNYDER: I've got something on that, yes. Just a second. We've had reports that there are United Nations and European Community organization employees missing in southern Sudan. The UNDP Officer in Charge -- U.N. Development Program Officer in Charge has been missing for two and a half months. He disappeared the end of July or in early August, and a UNICEF driver [dis:appeared July 6. An EC radio operator has been missing since mid-August. Some Sudanese employees of GT[, a German Relief Agency, were arrested in mid-August but have since been freed. I should add, these are all Sudanese nationals. So this is the further information we had to yesterday's statement. Q Did you say the UNICEF driver appeared or disappeared? MR. SNYDER: Disappeared. I may have said "appeared." I should have said "disappeared," if I didn't. Q Could we get a readout on the meeting with Mr. Houdek and the Sudanese this afternoon? MR. SNYDER: Yes. We'll have a readout for you. Q When you say "missing," you don't believe they're executed also, do you? MR. SNYDER: They have not turned up. We don't know where they are. We don't have any further information on them. Q Are there any plans to withdraw the U.S. Embassy staff or the U.S. AID mission staff? MR. SNYDER: Not that I know of; no. Q How about the embassy -- closed down? MR. SNYDER: The embassy is not in Juba. The embassy is open in Khartoum, I believe. Q I don't think so. MR. SNYDER: Khartoum is in Sudan. Q You're right. I'm getting confused with Somalia. MR. SNYDER: The AID office was basically the people that I mentioned yesterday -- the two who are missing plus a number of guards and drivers, and so forth. They were basically caretakers for the office down there. Q Are there any American nationals down there in Juba? MR. SNYDER: Not stationed down there, no. Not government employees. I don't specifically know whether there are American nationals of international organizations, or other agencies. I could check, if you'd like.

[Somalia Update]

If I can move on to Somalia, I'd like to give you an update on the relief operation there. Yesterday, there were no U.S. military relief flights into Somalia but two missions were flown to Wajir, Kenya to deliver 14 tons of humanitarian assistance. The totals, to date, are: The Department of Defense has flown 292 missions into Somalia and Kenya, delivering a total of approximately 3,695 metric tons of humanitarian assistance. In Oddur, bad weather yesterday and today resulted in the cancellation of DoD relief flights. Heavy rains have left the airstrip there, which is not paved, in poor condition. Relief flights to Oddur will resume when the rains abate and the condition of the runway improves. In Baidoa, we noted that the security situation has improved, but bad weather also forced the cancellation of 10 of 11 U.S.military relief flights scheduled for Baidoa today. We will resume the flights when weather conditions improve. In Belet Weyne, which is the other place where we had stopped flying, all of the ICRC -- the International Red Cross -- warehouses in Belet Weyne were completely emptied out by armed bandits the night of September 20. Due to the rapidly deteriorating security situation in Belet Weyne, the Red Cross has cancelled all flights into that city. The Department of Defense flights are also still suspended there. On the Pakistan -- the airlift of the Pakistani guards -- the flights of C-141s from Pakistan to Somalia are continuing as scheduled, at a rate of three per day. Not counting today's flights, for which figures are not yet available, a total of 173 Pakistani food guards are in Somalia, including the 60 brought in in the advance party last week. There have been no incidents connected with the arrival of these flights, which are also carrying some vehicles and support equipment. The flights will continue until all 500 of the Pakistani troops are in Somalia.

[Former Yugoslavia: Update]

And then finally a brief update on the situation in Bosnia. It was a night of heavy shelling in Sarajevo last night with attacks on many sections of the city. Bosnian Serb artillery rounds struck Stari Grad, Centar, Novo Sarajevo, and Dobrinja. Novo Sarajevo and Dobrinja also received tank fire. Shelling has come from both U.N.-monitored and from undeclared Serbian artillery sites. It's clear that the Bosnian Serbs have not concentrated all their heavy weapons despite their commitment to do so. They've continued their destructive and unjustified shelling of Sarajevo and other cities. The U.N. humanitarian assistance airlift to Sarajevo remains suspended. The U.N. High Commissioner for Refugee convoys, which are scheduled for today out of Split, include 40 metric tons to Citluk and 96 metric tons to Vitez. There's also an 86-ton convoy to Knin scheduled to leave [agreb today. Convoys scheduled for tomorrow include 40 metric tons to Ljubuski and 100-plus tons to Sarajevo. And on the diplomatic side of things, in Geneva, the working group on confidence-building, which is the first group that met several weeks ago, and had been meeting, met again today to discuss a number of issues, including questions involving the resumption of the airlift. That's all I have. I'd be happy to take your questions. Q On Yugoslavia, in the list of things that the United States was going to do to become more actively involved was to pursue evidence of war crimes. Specifically, is the United States looking into these reports that 200 Muslims were massacred by Serb militias? MR. SNYDER: Yes, Jim, we are. Last night, in New York, we put out a statement saying that we had turned over to the U.N. a rather extensive report on evidence of war crimes -- a very extensive, detailed report on a number of incidents. The massacre of the 200 is something which we learned about after we sent our report in. We are still investigating that, but we don't have anything further. Q How precisely do you go about investigating it? MR. SNYDER: It's done in a number of ways. We have our own people talking to refugees who have left the areas. There have been Congressional delegations who have gone in. We have also included in our report press reports which reflect first-person accounts -- press reports, when a reporter has talked to someone who was present at a particular atrocity. So there are a number of criteria that we use for putting these together. If you get our statement, which is available in the Press Office, and a copy of our report to the U.N., it goes in more detail into our criteria. Q And it's turned over to the United Nations, for what purpose? What would they do about it? MR. SNYDER: Once again, that's in the report. Let me get this out for you. As we said in the statement yesterday, we are calling on other people -- other countries -- to turn in similar reports, as we are all requested to do by Security Council Resolution 771; and we are now working actively with others on a resolution to create a U.N. commission to look into these charges, to establish the facts and to prepare for possible prosecution of individuals found guilty of those crimes. Q On the Middle East peace talks, are we leaving it up to the participants to decide when they want to come back again after tomorrow, or are we encouraging them to get going again after this break? MR. SNYDER: Basically, without getting into sort of how we're talking to them, all I can say is that no decisions have been made about when they're going to return. We've got nothing to announce. Q Are we trying to play a role or just leaving it to them? MR. SNYDER: Well, we've certainly been playing a very active role all along in the arrangements for the talks, but I just don't want to get specifically into that issue. Q Joe, back to Yugoslavia? MR. SNYDER: Yes. Q What's the status of the heavy weapons monitoring? MR. SNYDER: Just one second. This is part of the expanded UNPROFOR mandate. There have been a number of meetings take place in the last week with the participating countries, the contributor countries. They've had discussions. There is going to be -- on-the-ground safety and security assessments are going to be made into potential areas of troop deployments September 23-25. The U.K., France, Canada, and Spain will be sending in teams for this purpose. Q Troop deployments? MR. SNYDER: This is for the -- the deployments that were talked about in the expanded UNPROFOR mandate. Q Here it is a couple weeks past the deadline, and I noted that you said shelling occurred from undeclared weapons. What are we doing to put some bite into our -- MR. SNYDER: We and the U.N. are working with the various responsible parties urging them to continue moving, to fulfill their commitments to put the heavy weapons together. We've got our sanctions program. We've got the decision by the General Assembly last night that Serbia and Montenegro's participation should be suspended. There are a number of things we're doing to try to encourage the parties to comply with the requirements of the London Conference and to do the right thing. Q Along those lines, what's the status of the "no fly" -- MR. SNYDER: Consultations are continuing. We've got nothing to report right now. Q On Cuba, please. Carlos Aldana, one of the most prominent and influential members of the Communist Party in Cuba, has been dismissed. Do you have something -- a reaction, comment? MR. SNYDER: I'm sorry, I don't have anything on that. I'll see if I can get something for you. Q A second part, please? MR. SNYDER: Yes. Q Last week, the Inter-American Dialogue, a group of former presidents and U.S. personalities, released a report asking the United States to ease the embargo against Cuba. Do you have something? MR. SNYDER: We had something on that last week when the report was issued. I'm sorry, I don't have it here. But if you check with the Press Office, they can get you something on that specifically. I'm sorry, I just don't remember the details of it. We're looking carefully at the report. If you check with the Press Office, we can have a little bit more for you. Q Okay, thank you. Q The Russians said today that an investigation disclosed that two American civilians had been executed 50 years ago and they had only last names and they had no other details. Do you have anything like first names or hometowns, or anything like that? MR. SNYDER: George, no, we don't. We did a very quick check. We saw the reports just this morning as you did -- results of meetings that are going on right now. We don't have anything specifically now. The talks between Ambassador Toon and his counterpart in Moscow are going on. They will be for another day. We're going to try to get a readout for you on the results of those talks, and particularly try to get more details on some of the reports that we've seen. Q Joe, speaking of Russia, on this global protection system -- first, is that what used to be called G-Plan, or -- MR. SNYDER: GPALS was the acronym we were using. Q But now it's Global -- MR. SNYDER: Global Protection System.

[More on Global Protection System]

Q Were these talks just in general, or is there an actual swap of technology, or talk about actual things that go up in the air? MR. SNYDER: This is a process that's going on. It's a process that began at the -- just a moment. Let me get the exact details for you. These consultations grew out of agreement concerning the Global Protection System that was reached between Presidents Bush and Yeltsin at the June 1992 summit. The two Presidents agreed the two countries must work together with allies and other interested states to develop a concept for a global defense system as part of a general strategy to address the proliferation of ballistic missiles and weapons of mass destruction. The Presidents agreed to establish a high-level group to address these issues on a priority basis. The first meeting of this high-level group was in Moscow in July of 1992, and this was the second meeting. What they are going to do next is, they have set up three working groups. One to work on the global protection system concept; one to work on sharing of technology, and a third to work on non-proliferation. These working groups will be meeting next month. After they begin their work, we'll set the date for the next meeting of the high-level group. In other words, we've set a process in train, and the next step is to get down to work, at the working level, with these working groups. Q So far, are there any other countries involved in this? MR. SNYDER: So far, there are not. Well, not in these meetings, no. But we have generally invited other states to participate in this whole program. You'll see in the statement, there's a little bit more on that. Q Joe, back to an old topic -- Thailand? MR. SNYDER: Yes. Q They have a Prime Minister now. They appear to have a government. Is it a government the United States feels is freely and fairly elected, one that we can work with, and one which we can aid financially? MR. SNYDER: Sid, I don't know where they stand in their constitutional process of forming the government. We said that we would take a look at the government when it was established and look at our criteria, and I don't know where it stands. I'll look into it for you. Q Thank you. (Press briefing concluded at 1:19 p.m.)