930208 Daily Press Briefing  Return to: Index of 1993 Daily Briefings || Electronic Research Collections Index || ERC Homepage

Note: This Electronic Research Collection is an archive site. For the most current information, please visit the US State Department Homepage.
2/8/92 Boucher
Source: State Department Spokesman Richard Boucher
Description: Washington, DC
Category: Briefings

                         DEPARTMENT OF STATE
                         DAILY PRESS BRIEFING

                                                      DPC #20

                 MONDAY, FEBRUARY 8, 1993, 12:42 P.M.

         MR. SNYDER:  Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen.  I don't 
have any announcements, and so I would be quite happy to take whatever 
questions you might have.

         Q    Is there anything you can say about the progress being 
made toward reaching some conclusions on a policy toward Bosnia?

         MR. SNYDER:  I can tell you a little bit about what's going on 
in New York.  Vance and Owen -- former Secretary Vance and Lord Owen -- 
continued their meetings over the weekend with representatives of the 
various parties that were involved in the Geneva negotiations.  They are 
to brief the Security Council today at 4:30 p.m. on the details of their 
peace plan.  There are no other meetings scheduled for today in New York 
on Bosnia, and there are presently no draft resolutions being circulated 
to the Council.

         As the President said on Friday, he and his advisors are giving 
the Bosnia situation their urgent consideration.  That process is on-
going.  The principals have held several meetings and continue to review 
their options.

         We support the effort that Vance and Owen are engaged in to try 
to get an agreement among the parties, but the agreement must be fair 
and it must be workable.

         Those are the key questions.  We're discussing them with Vance 
and Owen, and keeping in touch with other allies, the Russians, and 
other Security Council members.

         As the President said, when he's made decisions, we will 
announce them clearly and forcefully and follow through as strongly as 
we can.

         Q    (Inaudible)

         MR. SNYDER:  Pardon me?

         Q    The agreement must be fair to whom?

         MR. SNYDER:  It must be fair to everyone who is involved.

         Q    Can you tell us anything about the Administration's plans 
this week to deal with that issue?  Not the U.N.'s plan but the 
Administration's plan.

         MR. SNYDER:  I don't have anything specific.  The review is 
underway, and I don't have any timetable.  The President said it would 
be within a few days.

         Q    Do you expect Mr. Christopher to be the one to enunciate 
the U.S.'s Bosnia policy?  And is there a forum of some sort pending 
this week for that?

         MR. SNYDER:  There's nothing scheduled.

         Q    Does this Administration think the agreement is unfair in 
some way?

         MR. SNYDER:  Well, there isn't an agreement.

         Q    His proposed agreement?

         MR. SNYDER:  What we have said is, if there's an agreement that 
all the parties can agree to, then we would support it.  At this point 
there isn't an agreement.

         Q    Did you see any progress being made this weekend at all?  
Do you see any optimism that such an agreement can actually come 

         MR. SNYDER:  I don't want to really characterize what's 
happened.  We're continuing our review.  When we're finished, we'll have 
something to say.

         Q    Joe, at this point, the principal parties involved in the 
negotiations aren't meeting any more.  Vance and Owen have moved on to 
the Security Council, and the parties aren't apparently going to meet 
any more for the time being.  Everyone is basically waiting to hear what 
the Administration has to say.

         Do you believe the parties should go on -- should hold further 
meetings, or should the whole process, as such, come to a halt, awaiting 
word from here or from the White House?

         MR. SNYDER:  We think that the people who are involved, 
certainly, should continue working on the problem.  There are lots of 
problems involved and lots of issues to be discussed.  We think that 
process should continue, yes.

         Q    Is the U.S. concerned that they're not, that they are 
waiting for Washington to make its statement and therefore they aren't 

         MR. SNYDER:  I don't know that -- we're doing our review.  We 
think the parties involved should also continue working on it.  I think 
that's pretty obvious.  The meeting at the U.N. is work that's 
continuing.  Certainly, Vance and Owen have talked with the parties over 
the weekend, and that process should go on.

         Q    Joe, in that connection, is the Bosnian-Serbian leader's 
travel permission -- will it be extended to permit him to continue 
working on these matters?

         MR. SNYDER:  Ralph, I don't know.  Let me check and see.  I 
don't know what the status of that is.

         Q    The status is that it was designated to be a one-week 
event.  That would expire, I think, on either Tuesday night or Wednesday 
night.  If the Administration wants the parties to continue working on 
it --

         MR. SNYDER:  Let me check and see where that stands.  I just 
don't know.

         Q    Joe, what does the Administration have to say about what 
appears to be new rounds of ethnic cleansing in this sort of interim 
period while the world waits for Bill Clinton to make a decision?

         MR. SNYDER:  We've seen some reports that the Bosnian Serbs are 
carrying out further ethnic cleansing in the Trebinje area in the West 
and in Eastern Bosnia.

         Our embassies in Belgrade and Zagreb are both looking into 
these reports.

         I've repeated here:  We've said repeatedly that ethnic 
cleansing is despicable and unacceptable, and we've called on those who 
practice it to stop.

         Q    Is there a sense this vacuum, as it were, this period of 
abeyance, and the sense that the Administration is thinking and making 
up its mind but in the meantime there's a vacuum out there that's 
actually exacerbating the situation?

         MR. SNYDER:  I don't know that there's a vacuum out there.  
There are humanitarian deliveries being made; UNPROFOR is on the ground 
there.  We do not think that kind of ethnic cleansing, or actions which 
could be perceived as ethnic cleansing, should be going on.

         Q    Yeah, but it's widely interpreted that because the United 
States can't make up its mind the various factions are grabbing, or 
attempting to grab new territory during the period when the U.S. is 
sitting on his hands trying to figure out what to do.  Therefore, the 
U.S. is somehow responsible for this.

         MR. SNYDER:  We don't think the fighting should be going on.  
We've said that consistently.  We've deplored the practice of ethnic 
cleansing.  We do not believe it should be going on.  Whether or not 
we're working on our policy, it still shouldn't be going on.

         Q    Joe, was Secretary Aspin's -- the reports from Secretary 
Aspin's trip suggested that he was briefing allies and perhaps others in 
Munich on the outlines of the Clinton Administration's policy.  But your 
comments this morning suggest that the policy is still under review and 
is not at the point where it could be briefed yet.

         What is the state of consultation by the U.S. with its allies 
on the policy?

         MR. SNYDER:  Ralph, I'll let the Defense Department speak for 
Secretary Aspin.  He was in Munich over the weekend for discussions with 
our NATO counterparts.

         Our review is underway, and I really don't want to comment on 
any of the specifics right now.

         Q    Is Secretary Christopher meeting Secretary Aspin, or 
consulting with him in the next couple of days, to your knowledge?

         MR. SNYDER:  To my specific knowledge, no, but I can certainly 
check and find out.  I just don't have his schedule in my head.

         Q    President Clinton, on Friday, stressed the importance of 
bringing Yeltsin into this process.  Has the Secretary, subsequent to 
that, been in touch with Mr. Kozyrev, either directly by phone or --

         MR. SNYDER:  No, I don't believe he has; not since Friday.

         Q    Will Ambassador Albright be representing the United States 
at the Security Council this afternoon?

         MR. SNYDER:  I didn't specifically ask, but my presumption is, 
she's up there and that's where she works, so I would assume so.  If 
it's anything different, we'll let you know.

         Q    Do you know if Secretary Christopher has met or talked to 
James Baker at all since Baker left office?

         MR. SNYDER:  I don't know specifically.

         Q    Could you take that question?

         MR. SNYDER:  Sure.  I'll find out.

         Q    Joe, what can you tell us about the bugging of the Embassy 
in Kiev?

         MR. SNYDER:  We have a long-standing policy of not commenting 
on the substance of allegations involving security or intelligence 
matters.  I'm sure that doesn't surprise you.

         We take the security of our missions very seriously and we take 
all necessary steps to maintain a secure working environment.

         I can tell you, however, that we have no reason to approach the 
Ukrainian Government on anything like this.

         Q    Or any other government?

         MR. SNYDER:  Or any other government.

         Q    Can I follow up on this?  This is the second such 
incident.  There was widespread bugging of the Slovak Embassy discovered 
last December, I think.

         Is there any thought being given to a broader review of the new 
embassies established over the past year in the new democracies?

         MR. SNYDER:  Not that I'm aware of.  I would repeat that we 
take the security of these missions very seriously, and we do take all 
necessary steps to make sure that we have a secure working environment; 
but I'm not aware of any particular review.

         Q    When you say there's a long-standing policy of not 
commenting, there was a comment on the bugging at the Slovak Embassy, or 
Consular Office, I guess, in Bratislava, and I just don't see how you 
can say there's a policy of "no commenting" when, in fact, you did 
comment a month ago. Or is this the new Administration's long-standing 

         MR. SNYDER:  Come on, George, you know it's a long-standing 
policy.  We don't normally comment on these things.

         Q    You commented on the Embassy in Moscow.

         (Multiple questions)

         Q    -- $270 million worth of reconstruction, a big debate with 
the Hill.  Forget about --

         MR. SNYDER:  It's not universal, but it is long-standing and it 
is very general.

         Q    Very selectively long-standing.

         Q    You say that you have no reason to approach the Ukrainian 
Government on that.  Does that mean -- do you mean to say that you 
checked this wiring inside the embassy and...?

         MR. SNYDER:  I'm not going to go into any detail on this.  I'll 
repeat for you -- I can tell you that we have had no reason to approach 
the Ukrainian Government or any other government on anything like this.

         Q    The case is closed, in other words.

         Q    A different subject?

         MR. SNYDER:  I'll just let my words stand.

         Q    Joe.

         MR. SNYDER:  Yes, back here.

         Q    There's still no one in place as the Assistant Secretary 
for Inter-American Affairs.  I'm wondering what impact that's having on 
development of policies for Latin America, Cuba, Haiti?

         MR. SNYDER:  The Secretary -- the President, indeed -- have 
been very actively involved, for instance, in our Haiti policy.  The 
policy-making is going on.

         Q    Why shouldn't there be at least a public perception that 
our policies there could be somewhat adrift with no one in that critical 

         Let's take Haiti for instance.  Is it likely there would be a 
new initiative of any kind until that post is filled?

         MR. SNYDER:  I don't know that there's any particular reason to 
tie the two together, no.  We will be announcing someone for that 
position soon, but we're not ready to do it yet.  I don't know.

         Q    Isn't Aronson still in that job?

         MR. SNYDER:  That's right.  Of course, Aronson.  Thank you very 
much.  I appreciate that.  Yes, Aronson is still in that job.  The job 
is not empty.

         Q    But that's a Bush appointee.

         MR. SNYDER:  He was specifically reappointed by the Transition 
Team for a temporary period.

         Q    Joe, do you have a comment or reaction to the Israeli 
reaction on your protest over the weekend over the detention of U.S.-
Arab citizens in Israel?

         MR. SNYDER:  Let me tell you a little bit about that.  We have 
a strong interest in seeing that American citizens receive fair and 
proper treatment anywhere in the world, and are accorded due process 
under the laws of the country where they are present.

         On February 5, we delivered a written protest to the Israeli 
Government against the delays in consular access to the three American 
detainees.  Previously, we had protested orally.

         Our position around the world -- and in this situation, too -- 
is that if someone is suspected of having committed a crime, charges 
should be brought, access to legal counsel assured, and a public trial 
held, and we will continue to monitor these cases closely.

         Q    Do you have any comment on them extending their stay for 
two weeks, or rather detention for two weeks without leveling any 
charges, presenting any charges?

         MR. SNYDER:  We think that people who are being held in such a 
situation should have charges presented to them.  I don't have any 
specific comment on "two weeks," but we think they should be charged.

         Q    Will that issue be raised when the new Israeli Ambassador 
delivers his credentials to the State Department today?  Is it an issue 
of that moment?

         MR. SNYDER:  Ralph, I don't know.  That is -- the meeting today 
is a largely ceremonial meeting.  All new Ambassadors come to the 
Department before they present their credentials at the White House, and 
I don't know if there's anything beyond the ceremonial on the schedule.

         Q    Joe, did the Administration consider this a violation of 
the U.S.-Israeli Consular Agreement?

         MR. SNYDER:  I don't know specifically.  It certainly is a -- 
well, there are certain international obligations.  We are concerned 
about the conditions of the arrest and detention of these men.  Our 
efforts to monitor those conditions are hindered when consular access is 
         Despite our protests, our most recent requests for access were 
met with similar delays, in some cases several days.  We have now seen 
all of these men.

         Q    Have you seen them a second time?  The first time that you 
saw them was somewhere around January 29 to 31, if I'm not mistaken.

         MR. SNYDER  I believe we've seen some of them a second time.  
I'm not sure of the details.  Let me try and find that out.

         Q    These men have now fallen victim to the Israeli emergency 
regulations which were brought in under the British, I believe, and 
gives the authorities the right to hold people without trial, without 
charges, and without access to an attorney.  And over the years 
hundreds, if not thousands of Palestinians -- thousands, I'm sure -- 
have been held under these conditions.

         In the view of the United States, are these regulations 
consistent with a democratic system?

         MR. SNYDER:  Well, without answering the question directly, I 
think -- I would just like to state that our position -- our general 
position anywhere is that people who are suspected of having committed a 
crime should have charges brought against them, they should have legal 
counsel, and there should be a public trial.  And we have gone in to the 
Israeli Government on that basis because they are American citizens.

         Q    I might take you on this point, Joe.  Mr. Rabin yesterday 
on ABC said that the expulsion of the 400 Palestinians was emanating 
from an emergency law of 1945 that Alan alluded to.

         And, you know, they have not been charged with anything yet, 
and they have been expelled from the country.  And based on 1945 
emergency laws which were put by the Mandate to defend or to rather 
prosecute Jews inside Palestine before the creation of the State of 
Israel.  Do you have any comment on such outdated laws -- emergency laws 
that have been used in Palestine before the State of Israel that Israel 
is using now?

         MR. SNYDER:  No, I really don't have any particular comment.

         Q    Joe, could you describe to me what exactly are the 
functions and the role of Strobe Talbott?  Would it be correct to say 
that he is about to become the Russian Czar of the Clinton 
         And, if so, what, for example, will there be left for the 
Assistant Secretary of State in charge of European and Canadian Affairs 
to do, and what will be the role in this setup for Ambassador Pickering 
in Moscow?

         MR. SNYDER:  Well, I don't want to -- first of all, I certainly 
don't want to ascribe to the use of the term "Russian Czar."  I think 
that's probably not exactly appropriate.

         But the Deputy Secretary, I think, described in some detail the 
role that Strobe Talbott is going to play and his relationship with the 
European Bureau when he made the announcement about reorganization on 
Friday, and I think I'll let that stand.

         Q    Joe, on Saturday there have been reports of an explosion 
in the northern Iraqi town -- Kurdish town of Irbil, I believe, in which 
five people are reported dead.  Are you aware of this event?

         MR. SNYDER:  No, I'm not, but I'll certainly look into it.

         Q    On January 22 in the same town there was an explosion in 
which 12 people were killed and 120 were injured, and up til now the 
State Department has had no public comment on that either.  Could you 
tell us if you have one today?

         MR. SNYDER:  I don't have one today, but I'll see if we can 
have something to say about it.

         Q    Joe, how are we to interpret the fact that on the face of 
it these are totally egregious violations of U.N. Security Council 
resolutions, and the United States has -- the Spokesman of the State 
Department is unaware of them, and the United States has no comment on 

         MR. SNYDER:  Alan, since I didn't know about them before I came 
in, it's going to be a little hard for me to explain why I don't have 
any comment.  I wasn't aware of them.  We'll look into them, and we'll 
see what we can say.

         Q    Can you tell us anything about today's meeting with Hanan 
Ashrawi?  What's the purpose of that meeting?  What's the goal Mr. 
Djerejian seeks to achieve with it?

         MR. SNYDER:  Hanan Ashrawi is in Washington and has requested 
meetings with Administration officials.  She'll be meeting with 
Assistant Secretary Djerejian at 1:15 today, along with Deputy Assistant 
Secretary Dan Kurtzer and the NSC Director for Near Eastern and South 
Asian Affairs Martin Indyk.  She will also be meeting separately with 
Policy Planning Director Ambassador Samuel Lewis, with Dennis Ross, and 
with Policy Planning staff member Aaron Miller.

         We will, of course, be reviewing the Middle East peace process 
with her.

         Q    Joe, I spoke with her this morning.  She said one of the 
things that she will be asking for is re-engagement of the United States 
in a PLO dialogue.  Any chance of that happening under this 

         MR. SNYDER:  Our policy remains the same with the PLO.

         Q    Do you have any comment on the Washington Times' story 
that a close aide to Yasser Arafat, Nabil Sha'ath, said that the 
Palestinians will accept the proposal by Mr. Rabin on condition that the 
rest of the expellees will be returned?

         MR. SNYDER:  No, not -- I don't have any particular comment on 

         Q    Can you look into this, please?  There was, you know, I 
think, an important item and if you might want to comment on this 

         MR. SNYDER:  We think that the deportees should -- a process 
has been set in place, and we think that all those who are involved 
should participate in this process.  Beyond that, I don't have any 
particular comment.

         Q    Joe, coming back to Strobe Talbott, do you have any idea 
when he will be presented for nomination -- I mean, for confirmation 
hearings on the Hill?

         MR. SNYDER:  No, I don't have a timetable on that.  I mean, the 
President makes nominations for Ambassadorial positions, and so that 
announcement will come out of the White House.  But I don't have any 
timing here.

         Q    Joe, back on Bosnia, I think you said that the 
humanitarian flights have continued, but for a while over the weekend 
they were stopped when an airplane -- relief airplane was hit.  Does the 
U.S. Government have any information about who shot at that plane and 

         MR. SNYDER:  No, we don't.  I can go over that incident a 
little bit.  U.S. flights from Rhein-Main and French flights from Split 
resumed to Sarajevo today.  Zagreb-based flights have not been resumed.

         The airlift was interrupted Saturday afternoon when a German 
relief flight was hit by anti-aircraft fire following takeoff from 
Zagregb.  A German crew member was injured in the attack.  Reportedly he 
was treated successfully at Zagreb.

         We deplore this act of barbarism that threatened not only the 
crew of the German humanitarian relief flight but the continued delivery 
of relief supplies to tens of thousands of people in desperate need.

         The aircraft was just south of Karlovac, an area near the line 
demarcating Croatian-controlled and Serbian-held areas, when it was hit.

         We can't confirm any of the reports on the source of the fire.  
We do not know who shot at the aircraft and would suggest you check with 
the U.N., which is investigating.

         Q    The Serbian military have put out a statement saying that 
it was off the normal humanitarian relief route and was flying closer to 
where the planes flying ammunition and arms to the Bosnian Muslims.  Do 
you have any reason to believe that allegation?

         MR. SNYDER:  I don't really have any more details on where the 
flight was.  I've given you what I've got here.

         Q    Joe, I'm afraid I must ask the question on the moral 
dilemma of the Clinton Administration today.  Does the Secretary have 
any problem with employing people and not paying their Social Security 

         MR. SNYDER:  Secretary and Mrs. Christopher have lived alone as 
a couple in Los Angeles.  Their youngest child is 29 years old, so 
they've lived without their children and therefore, obviously, there was 
no child care for years.  They also have no regular housekeeper.

         Q    What does that mean, "no regular housekeeper"?  (Laughter)  
That means she comes every other week as opposed to every week, or ---

         MR. SNYDER:  No.  I understand they occasionally will employ 
persons for parties, that sort of thing.

         Q    And do they pay Social Security taxes on all of those 

         MR. SNYDER:  Let me look into it, and let me see what I can 
find out on that specific --

         Q    They have no one help them clean the house?

         MR. SNYDER:  They have no one help them clean the house on a 
regular basis.  That's right.

         Q    Oops.  "Regular basis."

         Q    On a regular basis?

         Q    What about mowing the lawn?

         MR. SNYDER:  Well, maybe --


         Q    (Multiple comments)

         MR. SNYDER:  No.  They do not employ anyone as a housekeeper.

         Q    Would you please take the question on whether they hire 
housekeeping assistance of any sort; and, if so, are any of them 
potential immigrants to the United States; and, if so, do they have the 
appropriate credentials; and, if so or if not, have they paid the 
appropriate taxes as required by law?

         MR. SNYDER:  O.K.

         Q    Put all that in --

         MR. SNYDER:  Happy to do that.

         Q    Housekeeping includes other service such as yard work and 
things like that.  I understand under the law if you pay someone more 
than $50 a month, you have to --

         Q    That's right.  And, if you employ them for more than about 
three or four hours, you're above $50, depending on --

         Q    And everybody has a yard in California.

         Q    And who takes care of the 29-year-old?  (Laughter)

         Q    Do they employ anyone?  (Laughter)

         MR. SNYDER:  Any more questions on this subject?

         Q    No.

         MR. SNYDER:  O.K.

         Q    One guy of the Serb's leader or so-called leader, he was 
on "Sixty Minutes" last night -- the guy who $500 for an interview -- 
and he threatened the United States, and he made all kinds of charges 
against the United States.

         Is this the type of guy you're going to be dealing with in the 
political environment or diplomatic atmosphere to solve the issues 

         MR. SNYDER:  Who was it?  I don't -- I'm sorry, I didn't see 

         Q    Seselj.

         MR. SNYDER:  Seselj?

         Q    Seselj.

         Q    (Multiple comments)

         Q    The guy who carries the pistol all the time and threatens 

         MR. SNYDER:  I don't know.  We've already commented publicly 
about that particular individual.  We think he ought to be held 
accountable for the behavior of a number of people under his command.  
This Administration stands by that, even though it was said in the last 

         Q    What is the status of the human rights abuse reports?  Is 
there going to be another one shortly?  Or, I mean, they've been coming 
along --

         MR. SNYDER:  The last one about two weeks ago, I think.  I've 
not heard that they're not going to continue.  The interval has been 
about monthly, I think.

         Q    Any more details on the Secretary's trip?

         MR. SNYDER:  No.  We don't have anything more today.  I 
checked, and there's nothing more to announce today.

         Q    Joe, a last one on Bosnia.  A very large shipment of 
explosives was stopped in the Adriatic, and apparently there's an 
increasing flow of weapons towards former Yugoslavia or Bosnia or 
Croatia lately.

         Does this increase justify the call by the United States or 
could justify a call for the lifting of the embargo?

         MR. SNYDER:  Well, as I said, all of our policy options are 
under review, so I don't really want to discuss any particular one.  I 
mean, these several arms shipments have been stopped recently.  I think 
it's important to note that they've been stopped.  To that extent, the 
embargo is having some effect.

         Q    Joe, can I add one to the list of questions on the 
housekeeping thing?  Can you inquire as to whether that subject was a 
subject of discussion when Mr. Christopher was being reviewed by the 
President for a Cabinet position?

         MR. SNYDER:  I can, believe it or not, actually answer that.  
Like all other appointees, Secretary Christopher was asked to the best 
of his knowledge had he violated any law with the exception of traffic 
tickets, I gather was the way the question was put.  His answer to that 
was no.

         Q    Do you mean you'd take a dangerous driver as a Secretary 
of State?  (Laughter)

         Q    He doesn't have to drive.

         Q    Come on, George.

         Q    Thank you.

         MR. SNYDER:  Thank you.

         (The briefing concluded at 1:07 p.m.)  (###)

To the top of this page