US Department of State Daily Briefing #184: Monday, 12/28/92

Snyder Source: State Department Spokesman Joseph Snyder Description: Washington, DC Date: Dec, 28 199212/28/92 Category: Briefings Region: Subsaharan Africa, E/C Europe, Eurasia, East Asia Country: Bosnia-Herzegovina, Serbia-Montenegro, Somalia, Israel, Lebanon, Haiti, Russia, China, Iraq, North Korea Subject: Regional/Civil Unrest, Military Affairs, Development/Relief Aid, United Nations, Mideast Peace Process, Trade/Economics, POW/MIA Issues, NATO 12:42 P.M. (ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED) MR. JOE SNYDER: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. I don't have anything for you. I'll be happy to take whatever questions you might have.

[Bosnia: NATO Views]

Q There's an interesting story in the Times today about what the United States might do if the Serbs take aggressive action against Kosovo. Do you have anything on this? MR. SNYDER: George, that was a reference to a message by the President. As you know, we don't comment on Presidential correspondence. However, I can say we're deeply concerned about the situation in Kosovo. We have discussed this with other governments, and our concerns are widely shared in the international community. We're watching and will continue to watch Serb actions in Kosovo carefully. There should be no doubt that the United States would take very seriously destabilizing acts by Serbia in Kosovo. Let me repeat for you what NATO said on this subject on December 17. I'm quoting from the NATO communique: "We are deeply concerned about possible spillover of the conflict in Bosnia and about the situation in Kosovo. We call urgently on all parties to act with restraint and moderation. Serious negotiations on the restoration of autonomy to Kosovo within Serbia and the guarantee of full human rights should begin immediately under the international conference on the former Yugoslavia. "We are in favor of a U.N. preventive presence in Kosovo. An explosion of violence in Kosovo could, by spreading the conflict, constitute a serious threat to international peace and security and would require an appropriate response by the international community." Q Precisely what is it that the Serbs are doing that is causing deep concern? MR. SNYDER: There's a general litany which we've gone through before about their suspending the autonomy of the province, educational policies and other things. I don't have a laundry list right here. Q Joe, has any directive gone out from the United States that Americans should be out of Bosnia within the next two weeks? MR. SNYDER: Not that I'm aware of. We have a travel advisory on urging Americans not to travel to Bosnia. In that sense, there's a long-standing directive that there shouldn't be any Americans there at all. But I'm not aware of anything new that's gone out. Q Joe, is the U.S. prepared to act unilaterally if this conflict should spread beyond Bosnia and into Kosovo, or anywhere else? MR. SNYDER: I really don't want to have any further comment on this article, which I presume is what your reference is to. Q Is there any further signs or any indications of stepped-up Iraqi aggression anywhere else? CIA Director Gates said there's been a long pattern of it. But in the last 24 hours since the incident, has there been any other indications anywhere, either in the air, or the ground, or any Iraqi movements or pronouncements that -- MR. SNYDER: Specifically in the last 24 hours I'm not aware of anything. But we do see this flight of the Iraqi plane into the "no-fly" zone as part of a pattern of an Iraqi challenge to the United States and the U.N. Iraq has continued to engage in a pattern of harassment against various U.N. operations in Iraq, against UNSCOM inspectors in the south, and against humanitarian operations in the north of Iraq. These actions appear aimed at testing the resolve of U.N. officials as well as the U.S. and coalition allies in enforcing U.N. Security Council resolutions on Iraq. This testing continued yesterday with their deliberate intrusion into the "no-fly" zone established by coalition forces to facilitate monitoring of Iraqi compliance with U.N. Security Council Resolution 688. U.S. and allied forces remain on alert and capable of enforcing relevant U.N. resolutions. We are closely monitoring the situation and are prepared to respond as necessary to further harassments of U.N. operations. Q Joe, is the U.S. moving another warship closer to the area? MR. SNYDER: Well, that would be a question for the Pentagon. Q You have nothing on it? MR. SNYDER: The Pentagon is not going to comment on future movements. Q Present movements? Fait accompli? MR. SNYDER: Ask the Pentagon. Q OK. Q Joe, since the plane was shot down there's been no further evidence of Iraqi sorties? MR. SNYDER: I'm certainly not aware of any evidence of sorties or of any other specific actions. That's part of the pattern which has been going on. This is -- what? -- 48 hours old. Q Anything new on southern Africa or ... Q Wait, let me just take you back to the question that Pam asked you before about whether the United States was prepared to take unilateral action. You left -- you basically didn't answer that question, leaving the distinct possibility that the United States could take unilateral action. Is that the impression you want to leave? MR. SNYDER: Well, we've been working closely with the United Nations, as you know, all the way through the entire situation in the former Yugoslavia. We will obviously continue to work closely with the United Nations. I just don't want to -- as we have many times in the past, we don't rule out any specific action; don't necessarily rule it in. Our pattern has been to work closely with the U.N., and it's important to us that we continue to work with the U.N. Q Do you have anything new on the general situation in southern Africa -- South Africa or Angola? MR. SNYDER: Nothing especially, no. Q Back to Iraq, Joe. What about a situation update on northern Iraq, the sabotage of relief efforts you all were talking about a week or so ago? Are the trucks moving again? If not, why not? MR. SNYDER: As you alluded to, the humanitarian relief convoys have been suspended since a large number of trucks were damaged or destroyed by Iraqi-planted bombs several weeks ago. We understand that the United Nations is seeking to organize a relief convoy to northern Iraq today. I don't know the results yet, but there are continuing concerns on the part of Turkish truck drivers regarding security for these convoys, so we'll have to see what happens. Q Anything new on the Palestinian deportations? MR. SNYDER: We remain very disturbed by the situation. There's an immediate humanitarian need that must be addressed. We've been in touch with both Israel and Lebanon about both sides' permitting international relief agencies to provide the deportees with food, water, and medical supplies. Q Any comments on why no other countries would take them in? MR. SNYDER: No. We don't comment on what other countries do or don't do. It's up to them to comment. Q Sometimes you do. Q What about the United Nations role in this? Is there anything you can tell us off the record or on the record about negotiations in ... MR. SNYDER: No, I've got nothing to say about the U.N. Q ...Tel Aviv? Q Do you have anything on Haitian migrants -- boat people? MR. SNDYER: I've got nothing specific, but do you have a specific question? Q Well, the continuing flow of the boat people, whether there's any policy changes planned? MR. SNYDER: There are no policy changes planned as far as I know in the next three weeks, which is all I can talk about. Q Right. Q Thank you. MR. SNYDER: Thank you. (Press briefing concluded 12:51 p.m.)