930428 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.
                         DEPARTMENT OF STATE
                         DAILY PRESS BRIEFING

                                                      DPC #61

                WEDNESDAY, APRIL 28, 1993, 12:42 P. M.

         MR. BOUCHER:  Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen.  If I can 
start out with two small announcements, one on Eritrea and one on Haiti:

         On April 27 the Eritrean authorities announced that the 
Eritrean people had voted overwhelmingly for independence from Ethiopia 
in their April 23-25 referendum and that Eritrea was a sovereign country 
as of April 27. 

         After this announcement, our Consulate in Asmara informed the 
authorities that we recognized Eritrea as an independent state.  The 
formal steps to establish diplomatic relations with Eritrea are in 

         We congratulate the Eritrean Referendum Commission for the 
excellent job it did in conducting such a well-organized and open 
referendum.  The United Nations referendum observer mission issued a 
statement that the referendum was free and fair.

         We welcome Eritrea into the family of nations, and we look 
forward to its continued progress in developing democratic forms of 

         That's it for Eritrea.

         Having dealt with all the follow-up questions, we'll go on to 

         Q    A round of applause.  (Laughter)

         Q    A round of champagne.

         MR. BOUCHER:  We have instructed our Embassy in Haiti to 
protest in the strongest terms the statement that was issued Monday by 
the Haitian armed forces concerning the dispatches of a New York Times 
reporter who covers Haitian affairs.  The Haitian armed forces have 
every right to deny or criticize reports that they consider incorrect.  
It is not acceptable to seek to intimidate reporters.  So we've asked 
our Embassy to go in and protest that in the strongest terms.

         Q    Was the reporter Howard French, and how did they 
intimidate him?

         MR. BOUCHER:  This is Howard French, and it was a statement on 
Monday that talked about measures that could be taken to stop this kind 
of reporting, or words like that, that we felt were intimidating and 
threatening to the American involved.

         And with that, I'd be glad to take your questions.

         Q    Could you give us an idea -- we have some idea what the 
President's been doing so far as consulting with the allies.  Has the 
Secretary been on the phone, talking to Foreign Ministers, having any 
exchanges with them about Bosnia that you could tell us about?

         MR. BOUCHER:  We have had exchanges with the allies at various 
levels.  I can't think of any very recent phone calls with the allies.  
He talked to Foreign Minister Hurd and Foreign Minister Juppe last 
Friday about sanctions enforcement principally.

         I don't know of any since then, but we've been in touch with 
allies at the United Nations.  We've been talking to people here in 
Washington, consultations at NATO, in capitals with others, including 
the European Community and Russia, obviously, about the general 
situation in Yugoslavia.  So we've been keeping in close touch with 

         Q    I know the Russian was here -- yesterday, I guess -- for 
the peace talks.  He's a Middle East expert.  But was that an occasion 
to talk to the Russians about Bosnia?

         MR. BOUCHER:  I don't know that that's within the gentleman's 
brief.  He's here for the peace talks.

         Q    Well, what else -- if I can just follow for a second more, 
it seems that the President may have interrupted this consultation, at 
least with the French, figuring that we wanted to think it through again 
before getting on the phone with these leaders.

         MR. BOUCHER:  I don't know why you assume that.

         Q    Well, it's an account in the New York Times.

         MR. BOUCHER:  Well, I still don't know why you would assume 
it's true, but anyway --

         Q    Do you want to send him to jail?  (Laughter)

         MR. BOUCHER:  No.

         Q    I just wondered if there is some sort of a suspension -- 
not necessarily a reconsideration, but for deeper consideration of what 
the Administration may finally do before picking up the phone again.

         MR. BOUCHER:  Barry, I'll leave it to the White House to 
describe the status of the President's conversations with other leaders.  
I think he has been trying to connect with Mitterrand.  He's talked to a 
couple others.  They had an extensive discussion at the White House 
yesterday with members of Congress and a consultation with them over 

         So, you know, we are discussing -- obviously, we are concerned 
from our level, at different levels, with the situation in Yugoslavia.  
We've been in close touch with other members of the international 
community, and many of them are considering some of the same issues that 
we're currently considering.  But the President is reviewing his 
options.  He's consulting.  We're hearing the views not only of foreign 
governments, but also he's consulting with the Congress.  There are 
various options being looked at, and I think the White House made very 
clear at this point there aren't any decisions.

         Q    What is the Secretary doing today?

         MR. BOUCHER:  What is the Secretary doing today?

         Q    Yes.  As far as I can tell --

         MR. BOUCHER:  Right now he's over at the White House.  He's had 
some meetings this morning and --

         Q    At the White House?

         MR. BOUCHER:  He was over at the White House for the Drug Czar 
announcement and has constant touch with people over there.

         Q    What's he doing in the next week or so?  Does he have any 
plans to go get in touch with people personally?

         MR. BOUCHER:  Still the same place we were on travel.  No 
decisions on any travel plans at this point.

         Q    Is there anything more you can tell us about the 
consultative process or the review process at least from the State 
Department point of view -- what's going on here, if anything?

         MR. BOUCHER:  No, I really can't, Saul.  This is a process 
that's underway.  It's a process that the Secretary has, I think, made 
clear in a number of public statements that involves a lot of careful 
consideration of some very difficult choices and options that have to be 
looked at.  It's a process that's underway.

         Q    Richard, what can you tell us about what's happening on 
the ground?  Are you alarmed by the new Serb offensives that were 
launched yesterday, and what do you think all of this says about any 
hope for the Vance-Owen Accord?

         MR. BOUCHER:  Let me try to address those separately.  The 
fighting has continued.  The new sanctions have gone into effect, and we 
certainly hope that they will have an effect in changing Serbian 
attitudes and particularly Serbian behavior on the ground, but the 
fighting has continued -- different places, different kinds of things 
going on, some similar to what we've seen in the past.  

         Sarajevo was relatively quiet last night.  There has been some 
fighting outside of Srebrenica yesterday, but the cease-fire in that 
area is holding generally.  Bosnian Serb and Bosnian Government forces 
were reported to be fighting near Gradacac, Brcko, Zvornik in northeast 
Bosnia; near Goradze in eastern Bosnia, and near Maglaj in north-central 
Bosnia.  Those have all been places where fighting has gone on before.

         The cease-fire between the Bosnian Government and the Bosnian 
Croats appears to be holding in the Mostar area, but the fighting has 
diminished around Zenica and Travnik in central Bosnia.  However, around 
Busovaca, Vitez and Kiseljak in central Bosnia and Jablanica in western 
Bosnia, there has been fighting again between those forces.

         Croatia -- there are still some artillery exchanges going on in 
a couple of places on the coast in Croatia.  So there's still fighting 
going on in various places.  

         As far as the Vance-Owen process goes, obviously with the 
rejection of the revised Vance-Owen package for a peace settlement -- 
rejection by the Bosnian Serb parliament -- the U.N. sanctions 
resolution went into effect.  That resolution will bring additional 
pressure to bear on the Bosnian Serbs and their backers in Serbia-

         We are considering further options.  The European Community is 
as well.  But we're continuing to work the peace process; and Ambassador 
Bartholomew has been in touch with Lord Owen, with U.N. officials, and 
with our allies regarding the peace process.

         Q    Richard, there are a number of reports out of Belgrade in 
the last day or so expressing alleged disillusionment on the part of the 
Belgrade Government with the Bosnian Serbs and their actions.  What 
level of credibility do you give to the split between Belgrade and the 
Bosnian Muslims -- or the Bosnian Serbs, rather?

         MR. BOUCHER:  We've seen the reports, Barrie.  Rather than 
offer some kind of analysis, I think you just have to say that the 
credibility is determined by events on the ground.  We've always said 
it's within the power of the Serbian Government to pull the plug, to 
make the fighting end, to use their influence to make the fighting end, 
and to end their support for the fighting that's going on inside Bosnia.  
Until we see that kind of effect, I think it's hard to do any analysis 
or draw any conclusions.

         Q    Just related to pulling the plug, do we have evidence that 
there are still supplies flowing from Serbia into Bosnia across the 
Drina River bridges?

         MR. BOUCHER:  I don't think I've been able to get into that 
level of detail, as far as specific bridges, in the past; but we 
continue to believe that they provide supplies and support for the 
Bosnian Serbs.

         Q    Well, if you feel that way, can you -- I mean, this may 
not be the place to ask; maybe the White House is -- but if you feel 
that way, could you say whether one of the options under consideration 
is using force against Serbia as well as against Bosnian Serbs?

         The reason -- George Shultz, for instance, told several us the 
other day that indeed the United States should do something, it should 
do it all the way back to Serbia -- hit supply lines, hit ammunition 
depots, etc.  Is that under consideration -- a broader military action 
than just in Bosnia?

         MR. BOUCHER:  Barry, I'm not in a position to define the 
options any further than we have so far.

         Q    Richard, doesn't one of the provisions of the latest 
sanctions call for stopping the passage of things over the borders of 
Bosnia-Herzegovina and Serbia and Serbian-controlled parts of the 
latter?  I think that's called for in the sanctions.

         MR. BOUCHER:  That's right.  The new resolution requires that 
any shipments into any part of Bosnia that's controlled by the Serbs 
must be specifically authorized by the Bosnian Government in Sarajevo.  
It's obviously too early to determine the effect that those measures 
would have on the Bosnian Serbs.

         Q    But what I'm saying is that if that's in -- if there are 
shipments in violation of that, doesn't the sanctions resolution call 
for action, necessary action, to stop that?

         MR. BOUCHER:  Chris, I think you can look at the resolution 
yourself, and otherwise I'm not going to lead you any further in your 

         Q    But it's not speculation.  These are supply lines which 
exist.  The sanctions seem to say you can't use those supply lines, so 
what are you going to do about it if they do use the supply lines?

         MR. BOUCHER:  Once again, Chris, it's not for me to define the 
options any further than they've been defined.  Obviously we're looking 
at various options.  The President and the Secretary have made that 
clear.  Whatever it says in the sanctions resolution itself you can find 
as well as I can, but I don't want to lead you beyond that into 
speculation on what specific options might be under consideration.

         Q    Richard, if you can, tell us the options.  Can you clearly 
state the objective that all the options would be in support of?

         MR. BOUCHER:  The President has clearly stated the objectives 
that he has considered to be the principal objective, the primary goals; 
and that's to stop the fighting and to bring about a negotiated 

         Q    How, can I ask, does the view of the "Dirty Dozen," if you 
want to put it that way, or the "Dissident 12," get into the mix over at 
the White House?  Could you tell us when the Secretary goes there and, 
you know, gives them the State Department view, as the President hears 
from Aspin and others at the Pentagon, can we be confident that the 
argument is made that those 12 folks and maybe others like them would 
make if they were there -- the reasons for strong action?

         MR. BOUCHER:  Barry, I'm not going to get into what the 
Secretary says to the President or to the other principals in the course 
of these discussions, so I really can't try to answer your question for 
you about what he says.

         Clearly the Secretary, when he heard their views, saw their 
views in the letter, he wanted to hear them directly himself.  He asked 
to meet with them.  He met with them on Monday, talked to these people 
about their views; and he has a clear understanding of their views, both 
in writing and through his discussions with them.  But how he factors 
that into the mix of his discussions with others, I have to leave to 

         Q    But the views are on a piece of paper, for instance.  
Would that piece of paper end up in the President's stack?

         MR. BOUCHER:  I don't know.

         Q    Richard, I'm wondering, when the policy was first unveiled 
on February 10 and since then, it has been stated repeatedly by 
Administration officials, including Secretary Christopher and the 
President, that the United States would get involved militarily on the 
ground only as part of a peacekeeping force, and that that would happen 
only if the parties reached agreement in good faith among them.

         Now you're talking about coercing one of the parties -- the 
Serbs -- into signing this accord.  Does that affect the policy on U.S. 
involvement?  Is the U.S. still prepared to get involved in a 
peacekeeping force if the Serbs have been dragged or bombed to the 

         MR. BOUCHER:  Mary, at this point that would be speculative on 
my part as well to try to deal with that.  I think we've made clear -- 
the Secretary has made clear in recent days; the President has as well 
-- that various options are being considered and that they're looking at 
options that might previously have been considered unacceptable.  

         At the same time, they've made clear that, apart from the use 
of U.S. forces to help implement a viable agreement, one that the 
parties can accept and can live with, they're not contemplating the use 
of ground forces.

         Q    But, Richard, at this point would you concede that the 
Serbs have said that they don't find the Vance-Owen plan viable or one 
they can agree to live with?

         MR. BOUCHER:  Yes.  They've rejected it, basically, even in its 
revised form.

         Q    So doesn't that mean that the U.S. can't get involved in a 
peacekeeping force if Vance-Owen is eventually imposed?

         MR. BOUCHER:  People can always change their minds.

         Q    Richard, does the United States still take the position 
that it would not impose a settlement on any of the parties?

         MR. BOUCHER:  Again, Mark, I think I just said that the one 
thing that the President and Secretary have said is not being 
contemplated right now, among all the options that they're looking at, 
is the use of U.S. ground forces or U.S. military -- U.S. ground forces 
to impose a settlement outside of a -- you know, implementing an 

         Q    But that was the context in which President Clinton said 
he did not want to impose a settlement on any of the parties.  It now 
seems clear that the United States wants to impose a settlement on the 

         MR. BOUCHER:  It now seems clear that the U.S. has continued to 
bring pressure on the Serbs so that they can understand that it's very 
much in their interests to reach a negotiated settlement to this 

         Q    But not necessarily the formula that's on the table?

         MR. BOUCHER:  Once again, the Secretary has stressed that 
numerous times --

         Q    Indeed, he has, yes, but has he changed his mind?

         MR. BOUCHER:  -- to say that we were not imposing a specific 
formula.  We were trying to make it in their interests, make them 
understand that it was in their interest to enter in good faith into a 
negotiation or reach a solution.

         Q    That goes back to Vancouver time.  I just wondered if it 
still stood.  It's been three weeks.

         MR. BOUCHER:  Well, it was much before that as well.

         Q    Richard, there are those who suggest that perhaps the 
difficulties arise from the fact that the objective is limited and may 
be more dangerous than something more fundamental.  That is, the 
objective, as you stated it, is to stop the fighting and bring about a 
negotiated solution a la Vance-Owen or any other acceptable solution.  
There are others, though, who suggest that the more fundamental 
objective might be to roll back -- stop Serbian aggression -- stop it 
and roll back Serbian aggression.  Because, as the Administration has 
said, aggression should not be rewarded.

         Is that among the objectives being considered in this debate 
that's going on in the Administration, as far as you know?  Or is the 
objective pretty well set?  That is, to stop the fighting -- that is, a 
limited one -- to stop the fighting and get them to the peace table?

         MR. BOUCHER:  Saul, I'm not sure there's such a stark contrast 
between the things that you say.  But rather than going into any further 
analysis of the options at this point, I will stick to the principal 
position I've taken, that I'm not in a position to define the options 
any further for you at this point.

         Q    I was going to ask you about -- if I could switch the 
subject -- this Iraqi statement yesterday about war crimes, which came 
sort of -- a little bit out of the blue.  There was a report recently 
about Iraqi repression in Kuwait.  As with the Serbs, when that idea 
surfaced, will there be some -- is there some follow-up documentation 
we're going to see?  And/or I suppose you would give it to the U.N. -- 
evidently, it seems, as the statement was worded, that the U.S. will 
take the lead in making this proposal?

         MR. BOUCHER:  Yes.  We've begun consultations with our 
coalition allies at the United Nations on our proposal to establish a 
war crimes commission to investigate crimes -- crimes against humanity, 
war crimes and genocide in Iraq in the war there.

         We transmitted our report on Iraqi war crimes to the United 
Nations on March 19.  We're consulting with allies up there.  Obviously, 
all along we've been very concerned about the human rights situation in 

         We've been strong supporters of the efforts that have been made 
the U.N. rapporteur Max Van der Stoel and the reports that he's done and 
his proposals to put human rights monitors in Iraq.  We've strongly 
supported the U.N. resolutions that call on Iraq to cease the repression 
of its own people.  And with this body of evidence, the body of 
information that's been gathered and now submitted to the United Nations 
on March 19, we think it's appropriate to go ahead and establish a war 
crimes commission to investigate these crimes.

         Q    Richard, speaking of war crimes, do you now know more 
about an alleged attempt by Iraqi agents to assassinate the former 

         MR. BOUCHER:  Not a lot more, John.  At this point, we still 
only have preliminary reports on the investigation in Kuwait into an 
alleged assassination plot against former President George Bush.  It is 
an extremely serious matter and one that we think needs to be 
investigated thoroughly.  The Kuwaitis are doing that.

         We're in touch with the Kuwaiti authorities, and we're 
evaluating the information they've provided thus far.

         Q    Are we taking part in the investigation?

         MR. BOUCHER:  Our Embassy is in close contact with the 
Kuwaitis.  I'm not sure I should say formally that they're taking part.

         Q    Richard, how much credibility do you give to this 
allegation that it was an attempt against Bush?

         MR. BOUCHER:  At this point, I can't really give you an 
assessment.  As I said, we only have preliminary information and we're 
evaluating that.

         Q    Richard, just to go back to Bosnia for a minute.  
President Yeltsin's statements yesterday, the Secretary welcomed them.  
Do you see it as Yeltsin giving a green light to the West to take 
military action against the Serbs, if necessary?

         MR. BOUCHER:  I'll leave it to the Russians to explain their 
own statement in that regard, Mary.  I think they've already dealt with 
those questions themselves.  But the way that we see it is distinctly 
the way the Secretary said yesterday.  He made very clear that the 
Russian view -- that President Yeltsin's view -- was that the Serbs, if 
they continue thwart the peace process, could not expect to get the 
support of Russia.

         Q    I also had another one on Bosnia.  The Secretary's 
testimony yesterday -- specifically, the four barometers that he laid 
out for action -- had he discussed those with Secretary Aspin, for 

         MR. BOUCHER:  I don't know in particular, Johanna.  He has --

         Q    Whether he was speaking for himself, whether this is a 
White House view, a Pentagon view, a State Department view, or none of 
the -- I mean, is he just speaking for himself in outlining those four 
criteria --

         MR. BOUCHER:  Johanna, he and others have talked about these 
kinds of criteria before.  I think the Secretary has made very clear 
that any new options at this point need to be very, very carefully 
considered.  He said that to you all about a week ago.  In addition, he 
laid out yesterday some of the key factors in examining any possible 
military actions.  So he's made clear that any possible military action 
is something that needs to be very carefully looked at, and gave you the 
criteria by which he'd have to judge it.

         Q    Does the President share the view that those are the four 
criteria by which the President will judge any --

         MR. BOUCHER:  That's a question you'd have to ask the 

         Q    Well, let me turn that question around.  Is that U.S. 
policy?  Is the Secretary's statement a personal reflection or U.S. 

         MR. BOUCHER:  Carol, I guess my answer is I don't quite 
understand the question.  U.S. policy is a particular policy on things 
that happen elsewhere in the world.  What he's describing is the 
thinking process, it's the criteria by which he evaluates any potential 
military actions.  Whether those are the same thoughts and criteria in 
other's minds in the Administration, I can't speak for the whole 
Administration on that because I'm just here at the State Department.

         Q    Richard, perhaps I can help.  Four of those -- I mean, 
those four were among seven sort of criteria laid out by Cap Weinberger 
during the Reagan Administration and then by (General) Powell during the 
Bush Administration --

         MR. BOUCHER:  And I think by the Secretary at his confirmation 
hearing as well.

         Q    -- and I wonder whether this is now -- and that was the 
policy of both those Administrations.  They included -- the others were 
the use of overwhelming military force and victory.

         I'm just wondering, therefore, what the Secretary has done is 
simply adopt what had been and has been the policy of the Bush and 
Reagan Administration's on the use of force?  That's what it seems.

         MR. BOUCHER:  Once again, Saul, the Secretary described 
yesterday the factors, the issues, the policy point of view that he 
takes in order to approach these questions.  These are, as I said, 
questions of military action that have been discussed by many others 
before.  If you want to do a poll of everybody in the Administration, 
you can go ahead and do that, but I'm just constrained.

         Q    Were the Secretary's remarks yesterday vetted at the White 
House before he issued them?

         MR. BOUCHER:  I don't know, Johanna.

         Q    Maybe "policy" is the wrong word, because the policy is 
under review.  Can I try "standards?"  Will these be the standards for 
any -- will these be the standards that will govern any new strategy the 
U.S. might adopt?

         MR. BOUCHER:  Again, Barry, the Secretary told you very clearly 
yesterday, these are the standards by which he judges military action 

         Q    Maybe he means it universally, because I think he's said 
this before.

         Q    By which "he" judges military.  You said that three times 
now, Richard.

         MR. BOUCHER:  I'm not trying to send any big signal.  I 
personally don't know who he talked to before he discussed these things 
on the Hill.  There are things that he has discussed before.  There are 
things which U.S. policymakers in various positions have been discussed 

         I'm just standing here at the State Department not in a 
position to speak for everybody else in the Administration.  First of 
all, because I don't know that these are, indeed, standards that they 
have used inside their meetings or something to evaluate each option.  
And I don't know that I can speak for everybody else.  But standing here 
at the State Department, these are clearly the things that the Secretary 
has laid out as the key standards and factors in his mind to evaluate 
military action.

         Q    Richard, this is not a strange or off-the-wall kind of 
question to be asking you.  And I guess what we're sort of left with, 
will you go back and come back and let us know whether this is an 
Administration statement of policy?

         MR. BOUCHER:  I'm sort of left with saying that if you want to 
know what the President thinks, you ought to ask over at the White 

         Q    No, I'm asking what the Administration --

         Q    Richard, can't you take the question of what the U.S. 
policy is?  I mean, that's hardly a bizarre thing for us to be asking.

         MR. BOUCHER:  Mary, I'll see if there's any more I can do to 
apply these standards universally in the Administration.

         Q    Richard, is there any of those questions that the 
Secretary would answer positively in connection with Bosnia?

         MR. BOUCHER:  Mark, at this point, we are prepared to give you 
the questions.  We're not prepared to give you the answers yet.  Those 
will be discussed inside the Administration.

         Q    How did the meeting with Elie Wiesel come about?  And can 
you tell us anything about how Secretary Christopher received him and 
his views on Bosnia?

         MR. BOUCHER:  At this point, no, I don't have a readout of the 
meeting.  I'll try to get you one.  Elie Wiesel was here talking to the 
Open Forum today.

         Q    Whose open --

         MR. BOUCHER:  The forum open to employees for a private and 
confidential discussion of issues that are of concern to them.  He was 
invited by the Secretary's Open Forum to come and speak.  Whether that 
coincided with another meeting that they were going to have or whether 
the Secretary took advantage of his presence to talk to him, I don't 
know.  But, in any case, Elie Wiesel was here today and met with the 
Secretary, and we'll try to get you a readout later.

         Q    A couple of quickies on the Middle East.  Do you know -- I 
mean, does the State Department know whether this round is a two-week 
round or it could go longer?  Maybe even be sort of a continuum?

         MR. BOUCHER:  First, on that, no, I don't have any information 
on that at this point.

         Q    Are the parties being sounded out?

         MR. BOUCHER:  We were discussing the issue of continuous, or 
more or less continuous negotiations with the parties.  At this point, I 
don't have any views back yet.  Obviously, our position has been that we 
think that the more they stay in touch, the more they stay in 
negotiations, the better.

         Q    And the Secretary -- excuse me -- what he said was an 
unprecedented session, which it was, as far as I know, yesterday.

         MR. BOUCHER:  A very good session.

         Q    Will he -- can you look down the road and tell us if he's 
going to play an active role like that?

         MR. BOUCHER:  Well, certainly the United States will play an 
active role.  The Secretary has already played an active role in getting 
this round back together and -- through his trips and through his other 
conversations and preparing as best we can to help the parties make 
substantive progress.

         The President's decision was that we should be a full partner 
and play an active role in the negotiations.  The Secretary has been 
carrying that out.  Ed Djerejian and his peace team will have frequent 
and I think pretty much constant contacts, an active schedule of 
meetings with the parties and that will continue.

         The meeting yesterday, as the Secretary said, was a good one.  
The Secretary and the Russian co-sponsor took the opportunity yesterday 
to welcome the parties as the talks resumed.

         The Secretary noted the talks were at a critical period.  
There's an opportunity to make real progress towards the shared goal of 
a peaceful resolution of the Arab-Israeli dispute.  He called on all the 
parties to focus on the substance of the negotiations, to avoid 
procedural wrangling, to work to shape the environment on the ground and 
at the table which would be conducive to rapid progress.

         The parties all expressed their gratitude for the efforts that 
Secretary Christopher has made to assure the resumption of the talks.

         Q    Richard, do you have any reaction to the package of 
proposals that the Israelis laid out at yesterday's session?

         MR. BOUCHER:  No, I don't.  As you know, our policy has been 
and will continue to be to be very active behind the scenes in our 
contacts with the parties but not to get into the practice of commenting 
on a daily basis on the status of their discussions and the ideas that 
they put forward.

         Q    Since the United States is active and trying to get these 
proposals formulated and presented to the Palestinians, doesn't it 
behoove you to somehow endorse them or say something about them?

         MR. BOUCHER:  It behooves us to talk to the parties in private 
and to try to help them achieve what progress they're prepared to make 
in these talks.  We don't think it behooves us any more this time than 
it has in past rounds to start commenting on the proposals put forward 
by the different parties to a negotiation.

         Q    How about commenting on, after only one day, not so veiled 
threats by the Palestinians to walk out again? They're terribly 
frustrated.  They accuse Israel of increasing repression, blah, blah, 
blah, and they're raising the prospect now of leaving if they don't hear 
something new, as they put it.

         That could be procedural wrangling, I suppose.  But having 
worked so hard to get the folks here, does the U.S. have  a view whether 
they should keep going or what?

         MR. BOUCHER:  Barry, I think we've frequently expressed our 
view of the importance of the talks and the need to continue them, our 
desire to see them continue discussions and have useful discussions to 
move forward.  But, again, there are going to be a lot of statements 
made by different statements made by different parties to these 
negotiations during the course of the talks, and we're going to avoid 
trying to comment on each and every one of them.

         Q    Forgive me if someone's already asked this, but the 
Secretary, before the talks began, said it was his personal view that it 
would be good if they just ran continuously instead of breaking every 
few weeks.  Is there any agreement yet on how long this round will be?

         MR. BOUCHER:  Didn't I just answer that question?

         Q    I'm sorry.

         MR. BOUCHER:  I said we thought that was a good idea, but I 
didn't have responses at this point.


         Q    Just as a matter of logistics, how do you know from day to 
day that it's going well or not going well?  Does somebody in there 
report to somebody specific in one of the -- among the -- or do you just 
call people on the telephone, "How is it going?"  How is that done?

         MR. BOUCHER:  We talk to the parties in meetings, in telephone 
calls, and in a lot of different ways.  We have people that are in close 
touch with the parties.  Ed Djerejian and his peace team which is, 
indeed, a fairly large group of people that help facilitate these talks 
and keep in close touch with the parties.  Through our contacts with the 
parties and what they want to tell us, we have a pretty good idea of 
what's going on.

         Q    These people get a daily readout from the people in the 

         MR. BOUCHER:  I don't want to make it sound like we call them 
all together and debrief every afternoon, but we do have frequent 
contacts with the parties and we keep in touch with them.  We want to 
play an active role.  We're going to be a full partner, as you know --

         Q    And an honest broker?

         MR. BOUCHER:  -- a catalyst and an honest broker.

         Q    And not a potted plant, as Dennis Ross used to say.

         MR. BOUCHER:  We'll reserve that for some later date, Mary.

         Q    Could we have a filing break for that?

         Q    How about just a break, period.

         Q    Thank you.

         (Press briefing concluded at 1:15 p.m.) 


To the top of this page