US Department of State Daily Briefing #179: Thursday, 12/10/92

Snyder Source: State Department Deputy Spokesman Joseph Snyder Description: Washington, DC Date: Dec, 10 199212/10/92 Category: Briefings Region: Subsaharan Africa, E/C Europe, MidEast/North Africa, Eurasia, East Asia Country: Bosnia-Herzegovina, Serbia-Montenegro, Somalia, Slovak Republic, Czechoslovakia (former), Macedonia, Syria, China, Iran, Angola Subject: Regional/Civil Unrest, Military Affairs, Development/Relief Aid, United Nations, State Department, Democratization, Security Assistance and Sales, Trade/Economics 12:41 P. M. (ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED) MR. SNYDER: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. I would like, if I could, just to begin with a little update on what Ambassador Oakley is doing, and then I'll be happy to take your questions.

[Somalia: Ambassador Oakley's Diplomatic Mission]

As you know, Ambassador Oakley is in frequent contact with U.N. Special Representative for Somalia, Ismat Kittani, and he is actively coordinating with representatives of private relief agencies in Mogadishu and with the U.S. military. He continues to meet with a broad spectrum of Somali leaders, and he will tomorrow participate in a meeting with General Aideed, Ali Mahdi, and U.N. Envoy Ismat Kittani. I would like to point out it is not a political meeting at all, according to Ambassador Oakley, but a meeting to discuss security and relief issues. To quote from him this morning, "This is not a political meeting at all. It is a get acquainted meeting to discuss some of these security-related issues. I promise you the United States Government is not going to get into drawing the possible political architecture for the future of Somalia. The U.N. has this mission, and we will do what we can to help the Secretary General's Special Representative." So, I'll be happy to take your questions. Q Could I ask you about that, Joe? MR. SNYDER: Sure. Q Joe, now that's very careful -- that speaks of the meeting to take place. But what about his continuing to meet with the broad spectrum of Somali whatever? Have those been political meetings? He is disavowing that that other meeting has any political connotation. But that doesn't cover the other meetings. MR. SNYDER: Well, Richard discussed this yesterday. Q I know. MR. SNYDER: He has sort of three specific issues that he is addressing: the need for all the parties to cooperate in the deployment of the U.N. coalition forces; the absolute necessity for Somali cooperation with the delivery of humanitarian assistance; and working with the U.N. on rebuilding Somalia's administrative structures by initiating rehabilitation programs throughout the country. But, as Richard said yesterday, he is also involved in getting the parties together and urging them obviously to do what they can to get a more stable situation and a long-term solution to Somalia's problems. Q Well, isn't that political, though, by nature? MR. SNYDER: First of all, we are talking specifically about tomorrow's meeting, which is focussed on relief efforts. But there is no secret that obviously we want to see the leaders get together and solve their own political problems. But this is -- again, Richard touched on all that yesterday. Q Joe, has Ambassador Oakley been meeting with leaders of northern Somalia -- I mean, the so-called Somaliland, which has declared independence a few months ago? MR. SNYDER: I don't know. He is certainly just in Mogadishu. I'm not aware that he has traveled outside the city since he arrived -- what? -- two days ago. I don't know whether other leaders have sent representatives to Mogadishu or not. I just don't know the answer to the question. Q Can you give us an update on what's going on? Can you give us an on the ground kind of update, shooting? Can you confirm the French skirmish? MR. SNYDER: In Mogadishu, I would like to leave the details of sort of what's going on in Mogadishu, where our forces are, to the Pentagon. But outside, I note that Ambassador Oakley said outside of the city that it's business as usual, with periodic flare-ups of violence, fights among sub-clans, and bouts of looting. In Baidoa and Kismayo, the situation is tense with outbreaks of violence. But in terms of describing the situation in the city, I think DoD is in a lot better position than I am. Q Relief flights? MR. SNYDER: I don't have anything on relief flights today. We'll try to get something tomorrow. Q Joe, I understand that Oakley himself described his role as that of "honest broker." Is that a correct quote? That's what I have just read or heard. MR. SNYDER: Not a quote I've seen. Q We described him as that yesterday. MR. SNYDER: That was a quote from yesterday's briefing, as I recall. Q I understand why the United States doesn't want to be seen as setting up -- imposing or setting up a government, but why so cautious about describing his role as political? MR. SNYDER: Well, again, he was talking specifically about the meeting tomorrow. Q Well, security means that they have to figure out how to stop fighting and live with one another in order for there to be security. I suppose that's a political decision that each of those men have to make. I mean, why are we splitting hairs about this? MR. SNYDER: The point, again, I'm not talking with him directly. We got the quote that was made through the media. My understanding is and, to a certain extent, my guess is he was trying to describe the parameters of tomorrow's meeting, specifically of tomorrow's meeting. It's early. That's a task that needs to be done right now -- to get the food in, get the place stabilized, get the food in, get people fed. That's what's important, and that's what he is doing tomorrow. Q I suppose we'll be at this for some weeks. I wonder if we could -- this is early in the game -- but I wonder if we could ask, and maybe hear back, whether in talking to these various clan leaders if the U.S. -- as the U.S. representative, he is impressing them with our interest in a democratic form of government? In other words, is he making any assertions about the type of democracy, of all things, that he might like to see emerge in Somalia? MR. SNYDER: We're not getting involved in dictating to the Somali people how they ought to organize themselves. I don't know specifically what he is saying to them. Q Except for the Japanese in '45, we never dictate, we just suggest. And I wondered if he is suggesting that they hold elections? MR. SNYDER: Well, I don't know specifically. Q Stop assassinating people. MR. SNYDER: He is urging them to get together to work on solving their problems. I don't know specifically what terms he is using. Q If he ever finds out that it is solvable, will you let us know? Q Isn't it a tenet of our policy that we support democracy and free and fair elections in every country? MR. SNYDER: Of course we do. Q So, therefore, we would support that eventually in Somalia? MR. SNYDER: Yes, we would support that eventually in Somalia, but in terms of, you know, sort of charging right in and two days after arrival -- are we laying out plans for how to do it? Q In the future, isn't that what you'd like to see? MR. SNYDER: Of course in the future we would like to see democracy established in Somalia. Q When Ambassador Oakley was brought back and sent out there, did he have a State Department team that went with him, or is he a lone wolf in terms of -- MR. SNYDER: He's got a small inter-agency team with representatives from AID and -- we described it the other day. I can't remember -- State and AID representatives on the team. It's a small group. Q A follow-up question. What's the relationship of General Colin Powell to all of this, and how is the coordination with Powell and Eagleburger going? I mean, what is the way in which -- does Eagleburger just call Powell up and say, "I think this is a great idea, this meeting tomorrow, and this is a political part of our joint effort." Or is the Pentagon just off by itself and running everything? MR. SNYDER: Ambassador Oakley is working very closely with the commander on the ground, as we have said, as we have described in the last couple of days. Q How about back here? MR. SNYDER: He is reporting back on what he is doing. Specifically how is all of this getting coordinated, I'm not sure exactly. I mean, it is a highly tactical situation and they are working closely together back there, or out there in Mogadishu. Q Do you have anything on Assistant Secretary Cohen's meetings in Kenya and about where else he is going in the region? MR. SNYDER: No, I don't have anything. Sorry. Q The French have appointed their own special representative in Somalia. Is there any meeting between those two teams, I mean those two -- Oakley and the French? MR. SNYDER: I haven't heard specifically about a meeting between them. I certainly can imagine, since there is going to be a coordination of the entire U.N. effort, that there will be meetings, but I haven't heard specifically. Q Joe? MR. SNYDER: Yes, Sonia.

[Slovakia: Listening Devices in US Consulate]

Q There have been some new disclosures about the bugs at the Bratislava Consulate which shows that they were of recent vintage and active until the moment they were discovered in late November. Do you have any further comment on that beyond the fact that this is not helpful to the relationship? And then I have a follow-up question on the relationship. MR. SNYDER: At this point, we are waiting for officials of the Federal and Slovak governments to complete their investigations of the incident. I've nothing further to add to what Embassy Prague and we have already said. Q Let me ask you about relations as they will be three weeks from now when Slovakia becomes independent. Does the United States plan to recognize it immediately as an independent country? Will there be some waiting period to see how Slovakia fits into the community of nations in view of what is now a pattern of violations of human rights? MR. SNYDER: I don't know exactly how it's going to happen. Obviously we have said we're going to respect the will of the Czech and Slovak peoples and how they want to organize themselves politically. How we're going to deal with it juridically and the timing, I don't know specifically. I'll see if I can get something for you. Q From a number of different venues in Europe today, there are more government officials -- and, in fact, there's a NATO meeting underway -- indicating that perhaps some type of military action is going to be required in Bosnia-Herzegovina. Do you have any further words from this podium on U.S. intent in that direction to seek further resolutions in the United Nations -- enforcement resolution on "no-fly" or any other aspect? MR. SNYDER: John, no, I don't have anything specific. Obviously, as Richard mentioned yesterday, next week's meetings are important, next week's meetings in Europe are important. We're looking at various measures we can take on dealing with the situation in the former Yugoslavia. We're working with other governments, with the U.N., with the CSCE, NATO, and particularly with Mr. Vance and Lord Owen. These meetings provide an opportunity to review where we are, to offer guidance to Vance and Owen as they pursue their efforts, and to take further steps. But, again, as Richard said, at this point we can't forecast any specific steps. We are, of course, looking at all the possible options, and we'll be talking with others next week about how to proceed. Q Have you got any recommendations yet from Mr. Vance? Do they come here or to the White House or the NSC, or have there been any? Does it wait for their meeting next week? MR. SNYDER: Well, Mr. Vance has certainly made recommendations to the United Nations. Q Well, I mean along the lines of the question that Jack has -- I mean, military measures? MR. SNYDER: I am not aware of any specifically here. Q Joe, do we have something we'd like to see come out of this meeting -- out of these meetings with the CSCE, Geneva, and NATO, when Eagleburger -- MR. SNYDER: What we'd like to see is an amelioration of the situation in Bosnia and the rest of the former Yugoslavia. Q That's not going to happen as a result -- that's not going to happen at these meetings. What's going to happen at these meetings, I assume, is that the group of people are either going to agree on steps or not agree on steps that would be aimed at ameliorating the situation. What I want to know is, do we know what we want out of these meetings in the way of further steps? MR. SNYDER: I've certainly got nothing to announce on what we want out of these meetings. We are engaging -- Q Do we know what we want, or are we just going there to explore what might be possible; is that what it is? MR. SNYDER: Certainly, we have ideas of what we want out of the meetings. We're going with an agenda. But what emerges from the meetings is obviously going to be something that's going to be decided by all the participants in the meetings. Q Is one of the options the lifting of the arms embargo? MR. SNYDER: There are a lot of different things. The arms embargo is a subject that's come up quite frequently. That's one of the topics under discussion, as is enforcement of the "no-fly" zone -- the new resolution on enforcement of the "no-fly" zone. Those are ideas that are being pursued. I'm not necessarily saying those are our goals, but those are certainly ideas that are going to be under discussion. Q The existing U.S. policy is that there should be an arms embargo. MR. SNYDER: Exactly. Q But what you're saying now is that there is a possibility that this policy might change? MR. SNYDER: It's one of the ideas that arises. It has arisen continuously. It's an idea that we're going to want to talk about next week. Q But, Joe, can't you say specifically at this point whether or not the United States has any idea at all as to what it wants to come out of these meetings? Are you just going in there sort of ready to sit around and just schmooze about these issues, or do you have an agenda? MR. SNYDER: I said the United States does have some ideas about what it wants to come out, but I'm not going to discuss what specifically those goals are. Q When you say the United States has ideas, would you say there's a unified position in the Administration at this point on what to do? Or is there still some dickering or debate within the Administration? MR. SNYDER: Well, we haven't announced any changes lately. Q You could have a decision and not be ready to make it public. MR. SNYDER: I don't really want to go into sort of inter-agency discussions on these issues. Q How about this agency? MR. SNYDER: We'll be approaching -- we're going to be approaching the meetings as a single government next week, certainly. Q Do you have any new numbers on how many planes have violated the "no-fly" zone? Do you have any further enlightenment? MR. SNYDER: As a matter of fact, the Secretary General issued his fifth letter to the Security Council yesterday. He reported a total of 57 flights between November 27 and December 3, which are apparent violations of the U.N. ban on military flights. The five reports now that he's issued describe over 200 flights through early December. Many of these flights were observed landing or taking off by U.N. observers stationed at airfields. We continue to discuss the reports of these flights with the U.N. and our allies. I would note the U.N. has protested to the parties flights that have not been authorized by the U.N. Q So in other words, the frequency of these flights is picking up? MR. SNYDER: I don't have the earlier totals here. Q All of November was 175. MR. SNYDER: Fifty-seven for -- Q They have 57 just over six days, from November 27. MR. SNYDER: I don't like to do math from the podium. Q So do you think that your policy has been pretty effective so far? MR. SNYDER: We're looking at the policy. And, as we said, we're looking at what we're going to do. Q Maybe -- it isn't obvious to me -- the U.N. has protested. Have they protested saying, you guys have violated something? MR. SNYDER: They have protested -- Q What do you protest if you haven't had a finding -- I don't mean you -- what does the U.N. protest if it doesn't have a finding? MR. SNYDER: They have protested flights which were not authorized by the U.N. There are sort of two elements of the resolution. One was a ban on military flights, and there was something about flights not specifically authorized by the U.N. Q Of course, (inaudible) violate a U.N. resolution. MR. SNYDER: The ones that they have protested to the parties -- it says here and it says in the resolution, which I glanced at -- in the report, which I glanced at briefly, that the U.N. has protested those which have not been authorized by the U.N. Q Do you happen to know if any of these flights have impeded relief efforts? MR. SNYDER: I'm not aware that any of them have, no. And I would note that the Secretary General says in his letter, "It should be noted at this point there is no information available to UNPROFOR which would indicate that any of the flights has been involved in combat missions." Q There's no information -- I'm sorry. What was the word? There is no -- MR. SNYDER: No information available to UNPROFOR, which would indicate that any of the flights has been involved in combat missions. Q That's the 200 or any of the 57 in the last few days? MR. SNYDER: I think this specifically refers to these, but I think the same sort of language has been used in all of the reports, as I recall. Q In this definition, do you know whether combat missions means actual firing, or can it mean carrying troops and supplies; is that a combat mission? MR. SNYDER: You have to ask the Secretary General to define his own language. Q But we don't know? MR. SNYDER: Ask him to -- I'm not going to define what he said. Q As I understand it, most of the helicopter flights were to -- while they were not combat missions specifically shooting at people, they were carrying troops and supplies. Troops can shoot at people. MR. SNYDER: Check with the Secretary General of the U.N. on what he meant specifically. Q Would we be correct to say that the Administration in talks next week is going to look at ways to refine its policy to make it more effective? MR. SNYDER: We're going to look at ways to try to help resolve some of the problems that exist now in Bosnia-Herzegovina which are obvious to everybody. We want to try to do -- the entire international community is going to try to do a better job. We obviously haven't done everything we wanted to do. Q So a little refitting of the policy is what we'd like to make it more effective? MR. SNYDER: We're looking at, yes, at ways of -- sure, of having the entire international effort be more effective. Q I noticed that the four points that Richard made yesterday as to what our goals are, the first one was to prevent the spread of fighting. I did not see among the four the specific reversal of the ground taken of -- to save Bosnia. That is to say, to bring back Bosnia that was before the Serbian invasion. MR. SNYDER: We've spoken I think many times and very clearly in the past of our abhorrence of the whole program of ethnic cleansing and our determination not to let the policy -- the results of the policy stand. We've said that many times, and that hasn't changed. Q But, I mean, is this what we're going -- or what the Secretary is going on next week -- is that aimed more towards preventing the spread of the fighting or towards getting Bosnia its country back? MR. SNYDER: I wouldn't want to say which one it's aimed more at. Those are both goals that we have. Q Are you aware -- on a completely different subject. MR. SNYDER: Are there any more on this subject? Q Yes. The United States and the President in particular has spoken out often and very loudly about the need to maintain the integrity of U.N. resolutions and has said repeatedly that any violation of resolutions pertaining to Iraq would be responded to very quickly. Why does the United States then tolerate flaunting of this resolution -- "no-fly" resolution on Bosnia? MR. SNYDER: Well, first of all, I'm not so sure we're talking about flaunting of the resolution. We have been looking carefully at what's been going on. We are consulting about the best way to approach dealing with the situation. Q You, yourself, have said that it's a violation, repeated violations. MR. SNYDER: We are looking at the most effective way of trying to have the resolution complied with, and that's precisely the direction we're moving in. We are not going to let -- we intend to see the terms of the resolution are honored, and we're moving in that direction. We're moving to see that that is done. Q If Saddam Husayn, though, had flown over 200 flights, military flights, would we still be studying the issue? MR. SNYDER: Well, that's a hypothetical question and a comparison. It violates two of our principles in one. Q Joe, one more on the same subject. What's the status of the relief operation to Sarajevo? Are the U.N. planes still honoring the "no-fly" zone? MR. SNYDER: The airlift remains suspended. The U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees airlift cell in Zagreb reports they're evaluating the situation carefully and are prepared to resume the airlift as soon as the situation improves. I've got nothing specifically new on convoys today. Q Can you say what would constitute an improvement in this situation? MR. SNYDER: That's something that the U.N., is on the ground and in the best position to judge. Q Joe, does the United States support the proposal to send a detachment of 700 to Macedonia -- U.N. detachment? MR. SNYDER: We're examining the Secretary General's report on making that proposal to see what would be appropriate. But I can say that we do believe the establishment of a small peacekeeping force in Macedonia could help to stabilize the situation in that volatile region. Q So you're studying it, but it looks good on the face of it? MR. SNYDER: In principle, the establishment of a small peacekeeping force in Macedonia would be a good thing. Q What's the problem in Macedonia? Is it spillover, or is it internal, or is it Greece/Macedonia? What's the problem? MR. SNYDER: I mean, it's -- what we have there has been described as a spillover mission in the past, and obviously the tensions that are in the rest of the former Yugoslavia could have echoes in Macedonia that could be bad. Q What about Kosovo? Is there an immediate danger to Kosovo? MR. SNYDER: We are very concerned about what's going on in Kosovo. We've been describing that. We're watching it closely. Q And Greece itself? Greece? MR. SNYDER: What . . . Greece? Q Well, Greece seems to be the third -- it may be a little more remote -- but there are reports that Greece may be in danger of the spillover? MR. SNYDER: I don't know exactly how you mean that. Q I don't know how it would happen, but, well, wars in the Balkans have a way of reaching all the way to the United States. I just wondered if Greece is -- if the U.S. is concerned that somehow this might destabilize Greece? MR. SNYDER: We are concerned about the general effects of the -- destabilizing effects in the entire region. Q Are you aware of any reports or rumors today that there may have been a coup in Russia? MR. SNYDER: No.

[Russia: US Supports Democartic/Economic Reform/ Debt Rescheduling]

Q What is your understanding of the current stability of the Russian Government and the status of Mr. Yeltsin and Mr. Gaidar? MR. SNYDER: Without any reference to a report on the coup, which I haven't seen, the Russian Congress of People's Deputies continues its deliberations today. We don't intend to comment on every new development as the process unfolds. It's changing all the time. I can say in general, however, that we strongly support the efforts of the Russian people to determine their future through open and democratic processes. We will continue to follow these events in Russia closely. The United States has firmly supported these processes and worked closely with President Yeltsin and Acting Prime Minister Gaidar in their efforts to lead Russian's transition to democracy and a market economy. The President continues to have great faith and trust in the U.S.-Russia partnership that he's built with President Yeltsin. The United States will continue to strengthen that partnership through such steps as our economic assistance programs, our support for a generous debt re-scheduling for Russia, and for progress in arms reductions. Q Is it still your understanding that Mr. Kozyrev will be available to meet with Mr. Eagleburger in Stockholm next week? MR. SNYDER: I've not heard anything to the contrary. Q Will he be the Foreign Minister, though? Q He could be a special arms negotiator, I suppose. Q Did we ever get -- talk to the Russians about Gaidar's announcement of a $3-4 billion arms package to Syria, China and Iran? MR. SNYDER: I think we posted something on that last week or early this week. Q No, you said you hadn't -- you'd only seen the reports and in principle we -- Q (Inaudible). Q Yes, I know, but that wasn't specific at all. It was just -- MR. SNYDER: Sid, I can't remember exactly what we put out. If there's anything more to say, I'll check. Q Thank you. Q One more: Can you say anything about the Secretary's schedule in Stockholm, other bi-lats? MR. SNYDER: Not yet. No, we don't have anything on that. Q Joe, one more on Angola. Savimbi now says that he would take part in a provisional coalition government. Is that a good thing? MR. SNYDER: We welcome the announced decision by UNITA and hope that the Government of the Republic of Angola will move expeditiously to create the conditions to ensure UNITA's participation. This positive step should be quickly followed by additional concrete measures by both UNITA and the government to establish a minimum of mutual confidence and renew constructive negotiations. In addition, we urge both sides to hold a second negotiating session to expand upon the progress made at the November 26 meeting. This should occur as soon as possible. Q And have the violations of the cease-fire ceased? MR. SNYDER: We are encouraged by UNITA's apparent withdrawal from a town called Uige and another town called Negage, and we hope that the U.N. will re-establish its presence there as soon as possible. Additional confidence-building measures, such as UNITA's withdrawal from the two provincial capitals it is occupying, would help create a positive atmosphere in which constructive dialogue between the government and UNITA could resume. For its part, the government should also consider taking reciprocal measures, such as the exchange of detainees, cooperation with the United Nations to ensure the security of UNITA personnel willing to return to Luanda, and broaden the participation of UNITA throughout the government. Q And has this change of heart been accompanied by any contacts from the United States with Savimbi? MR. SNYDER: I don't want to discuss any specific details of our diplomatic exchanges. However, we have already said that we have conveyed our strong concerns over UNITA's recent military actions. We've also urged the government and UNITA not to give up on finding a solution to the current crisis through negotiation and dialogue. Q On that inspirational note, thank you. (The briefing concluded at 1:09 p.m.)