930830 Daily Press Briefing  Return to: Index of 1993 Daily Briefings || Electronic Research Collections Index || ERC Homepage

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                                           BRIEFER:  Michael McCurry

Subject                                                             Page

Progress on Declaration of Principles .......................1-10,15-16
--Funding of Agreemen..............................................9,17
Oslo Meeting between Israeli/PLO Representatives...............1-2,7,14
--  US Knowledge ...................................................1-2
Secretary's Meeting with Foreign Minister Peres/
     Contacts with Other Foreign Officials .................1-4,6-11,15
Bilateral Talks/Resumption ...................................2-5,11-12
--  US Role .....................................................2-4,11
US Policy on Contacts with PLO ..................................3-5,10
Israeli Contacts with PLO ........................................3-6  
Meetings at Department with Parties Today ............................5
Possible Opening Ceremony ...........................................15

Special Forces Cordon and Search Operation ....................12-13,15
Reported Interception of Arms Shipments .............................12
US Contacts with Aideed .............................................13

UN/OAS Lift Embargo .................................................13

Chief Abiola's Meeting with Asst. Sec. Moose ........................14
Status of Government Transition ..................................18-19
--  Relations with US ............................................18-19

Proposed Peace Agreement .........................................16-17

Inspection of Ship Suspected of Carrying CW
     Precursors .....................................................17

Status of Former President Elchibey .................................18
Conflict in Nagorno-Karabak/US Concern for
     Human Rights/US Role in CSCE ...................................18


                           DEPARTMENT OF STATE
                           DAILY PRESS BRIEFING

                                                      DPC #121

                   MONDAY, AUGUST 30, 1993, l2:33 P. M. 

          MR. McCURRY:  Good afternoon, everybody.  I'd like to start 
today with a statement on the Middle East.

          Substantial progress has been made on a declaration of 
principles between the Israelis and Palestinians.  The progress emerged 
from direct discussions between Israeli and Palestinian representatives 
and drew on the draft declaration of principles presented by the United 
States.  Norway has played an important, facilitating and supportive 
role in the direct discussions between the Israelis and Palestinians 
with the knowledge and support of the United States.  We hope and expect 
that this progress will now be reflected in the next negotiating round 
beginning tomorrow and will lead to an early agreement on the 
declaration of principles.

          With that statement, I'll take any questions that you might 

          Q    What knowledge did they have of the Oslo meetings, in 

          MR. McCURRY:  What -- say that again?

          Q    What knowledge -- yes -- did they have of these -- 

          MR. McCURRY:  Did the United States have?

          Q    Yes.

          MR. McCURRY:  We were aware of that channel and have had 
discussions with the parties on that channel.

          Q    Can you tell us about the meeting that the Secretary had 
with the various representatives in California?

          MR. McCURRY:  The Secretary, I think, as you know -- we issued 
a statement on Saturday confirming that the Secretary of State met for 
approximately four hours on Friday at Point  Mugu Naval Air Station near 
Oxnard, California, close to where the Secretary was vacationing.  He 
met with Israeli Foreign Shimon Peres, also the Norwegian Foreign 
Minister Holst, and several other members I think that were staff 
people.  Ambassador Ross was there as well, I believe.

          They talked for, as I say, four hours.  We didn't provide any 
details nor will we provide any details about the specific discussions 
that are undergoing, and of course the statement we made today gives you 
some indication of the subject matter that was addressed.

          Q    Mike, once you have the declaration of principles, what 
do you have then -- just the basis for beginning negotiations?

          MR. McCURRY:  Well, I think you have a lot of hard work ahead 
by the parties and by those who are trying to help the parties.  I think 
that we will see how these negotiations develop over the next several 
days.  The parties are expected to resume their direct negotiations 

          But even as they make progress and even as there do appear to 
be reasons now to be optimistic, it's quite clear that a lot of very 
hard work lies ahead by the parties themselves as they address the 
issues that would be covered under any declaration of principles.

          Q    So, Mike, this basically was an Israeli-Palestinian deal 
that was worked out and brought to the Americans for ratification, 
approval, comment?

          MR. McCURRY:  I think that it clearly is a result of direct 
discussions between the parties; and, as I say, we certainly were aware 
of the discussions that were taking place and, indeed, we're encouraging 
those discussions.

          I think as the Secretary has often said, the parties 
themselves have to be actively engaged in this dialogue for there to be 
progress.  We certainly encouraged and supported direct discussions 
between the parties themselves.

          Q    (Inaudible) the case.  The United States for three years 
now has been pushing the parties to get together, and ultimately when 
they get together the United States is a bystander?

          MR. McCURRY:  Well, I think "bystander" would be a very 
inappropriate characterization of the role that the Secretary of State 
has played and that others have played in this process.  There have been 
many people who have assisted the parties themselves in moving these 
discussions forward.  I think the Secretary would pay a special tribute 
to Norway, which played a very important role.

          But, again, they're at a process now where they need to move 
this discussion forward; and there will be a great deal of work that 
will continue to be on the table for the United States and for the 
parties themselves in the weeks ahead.

          Q    Mike, is Prime Minister Rabin coming here this Sunday?

          MR. McCURRY:  I'm not aware of any plans on behalf of the 
Prime Minister to come here.  I do know that the Secretary, over the 
weekend, talked to Prime Minister Rabin.  I think he also was in 
telephone contact with Foreign Minister Moussa, Foreign Minister Shara, 
and he also had a conversation with King Hussein.  I believe today he 
plans to be in contact with Foreign Minister Kozyrev of Russia.  As you 
know, the Russians are co-sponsors with us of the dialogue that 
continues here tomorrow.

          So I'd say, all in all, the Secretary probably could have 
written a pretty interesting essay on how he spent his summer vacation.

          Q    Now that Israel has been holding extensive discussions 
with PLO officials, is the U.S. reconsidering its willingness to hold 
discussions with the PLO?

          MR. McCURRY:  No change in our policy.

          Q    Well, let's back up before that.  Did the U.S. 
participate in or hold talks of its own with the PLO during this 

          MR. McCURRY:  No.

          Q    It did not?

          MR. McCURRY:  The statement that I just read refers to direct 
discussions between the Israeli and Palestinian representatives that 
they held on their end.

          Q    Well, there could be direct discussions between the 
Israeli and Palestinian representatives and you could be talking to the 
PLO or auditing the talks -- just as the Norwegian audited your talks 
with the Israelis on Friday.

          MR. McCURRY:  We do not have such a dialogue with the PLO.

          Q    Well, neither did Israel.

          Q    Is that policy now under review?

          MR. McCURRY:  Is that policy under review?  No, there's no 
change in our policy.

          Q    Mike, neither did Israel, and of course there have been 
some 20 meetings while they had a policy not to talk to the PLO.

          The AFP news agency says that Rabin will be here Sunday.  
Could it be he's coming without the U.S. knowing it?  

          MR. McCURRY:  I think that it would be up to the Prime 
Minister and the Prime Minister's staff to announce any travel that he 
might be taking.  Again, I would caution you that there's work that lies 
ahead as the parties themselves address some of the issues that would 
likely be contained in a declaration of principles.  We've got the 
parties arriving for talks tomorrow and we'll see how the talks go.

          Q    Mike, you're saying that again after a question about 
Rabin which makes me wonder if you think that this has to be capped or 
is likely to be capped -- this process -- by Rabin and Clinton and 
Christopher -- you know, the big guys jumping into this thing.  Is that 
what you mean when you say there's work?  I know there's work that lies 

          MR. McCURRY:  I think if there was going to be a celebratory 
gathering of leaders that would have to come after a lot of hard work.  
And, as I say, hard work lies ahead.  So we'll see where things go after 
the negotiators meet.

          Q    Mike, do you have any concern whatsoever that these 
negotiations will get going?  There's obviously turmoil within the 
Israeli delegation, questions on whether Mr. Rubinstein will actually 

          MR. McCURRY:  As I say, there's a lot of hard work that lies 
ahead for the parties; and the parties themselves, you know, can best 
address questions like the one you pose about the composition of their 
own delegations.  

          But I would say we've acknowledged all along that there are 
very tough choices and difficult choices associated  with moving this 
process forward, and it is those difficult types of decisions that are 
now being addressed.

          Q    Mike, I'm still trying to get a sense of -- do you have 
any concern whatsoever, whoever represents them, that you will, in fact, 
get under way tomorrow?

          MR. McCURRY:  Well, I think that the delegations, as we talk 
now, are gathering in Washington.  I don't have a detail on how their 
discussions will occur over the next several days.  I think as you know, 
we often meet at the beginning of a round informally with the parties 
prior to the discussions actually beginning.

          But, again, I would say -- to sort of put some cautionary note 
on this -- that agreements are done when all the parties agree and when 
they sign; and we've still got a lot of work ahead.

          Q    Mike, can I ask you why the U.S. isn't talking to the 
PLO?  What is behind that?

          MR. McCURRY:  Well, I think our policy on that question we've 
covered often here; and I think you're all well aware of that.

          Q    Well, the situation has changed rather radically. 

          The U.S., as I understood it, didn't talk to the PLO to sort 
of just support Israel, which sort of considered the PLO at one point a 
terrorist organization that goes out and kills Israelis.  Now Israel, 
apparently, is -- not apparently, Israel is talking to the PLO.  So why 
would the U.S. -- why would you have a different policy from the people 
directly involved with the PLO?

          MR. McCURRY:  We have made our concerns about the PLO well 
known and our policy -- which is based on concerns we have raised here, 
as I say -- has not changed.  

          Q    (Inaudible)

          MR. McCURRY:  No.

          Q    In your statement, I don't believe you said anything 
laudatory about the agreement.  Does the United States welcome the 
agreement?  Are you pleased with it?  Do you think it's a good 

          MR. McCURRY:  Well, as I say, there's substantial progress 
that's been made at this point, but I don't want to characterize any 
agreement when the parties themselves still have to face these issues 
and discuss many of the questions that would be raised in the context of 
coming together on a declaration of principles.  I think this is a point 
at which you can certainly welcome the substantial progress that's been 

          I think, frankly, modesty would suggest that the United States 
shouldn't try to take too much credit for this because there have been a 
number of people involved.

          Q    Does the United States now take a position either as a 
matter of tactics or a matter of substance on the concept known as "Gaza 

          MR. McCURRY:  Well, we have got ideas related to those 
suggestions that we share with the parties; but I just, as we often do, 
don't share those with you here publicly as the negotiations themselves 
are under way.

          Q    There's sort of a contradiction in something you said.  
You say that the United States encourages, supports contacts with the 
parties, but you also make it well known your concerns about the PLO.  
Does the United States encourage Israel to talk to the PLO?

          MR. McCURRY:  No, we didn't encourage or discourage any 
contact that Israel may or may not have had with Palestinian 
representatives.  I think that's really a question that is up to the 
parties to make decisions of that nature, and our goal and our role has 
been to support the dialogue that they do have and to try to help them 
make progress.

          Q    Mike, prior to the Secretary's meeting with Shimon Peres, 
did the Secretary speak at all with Prime Minister Rabin as to the 
purposes of that meeting and set any groundwork?

          MR. McCURRY:  I'd have to go back and check when he talked -- 
I think he has had contact with him.  I think we had indicated last week 
or early last week that he had had contact with both Foreign Minister 
Shara and also Prime Minister Rabin, but that would have been prior to 
the Friday.

          Q    I don't know, and I'm not saying there's any purpose in 
your giving those two names in tandem, but that sort of suggested that 
the conversations were about Syria -- and, of course, Syria is not 
unrelated to the situation.  But could you roll back on this and see if 
the Secretary's conversation with Rabin dealt in any substantive way 
with this PLO deal?

          MR. McCURRY:  I believe it did, but I also would indicate that 
all these bilateral tracks do, of course, have -- they are 
interdependent in many ways.  The focus I think in the news today is on 
one particular track, but I think you're all aware that all four of 
those tracks are very important.  Indeed, in indicating some of the 
contacts the Secretary had over the weekend is by way of suggesting that 
he feels it is important to make sure all these tracks remain 

          Q    Mike, you said "bystander" was not a good 
characterization for the role played by the United States in those Oslo 
meetings.  Could you be more precise and give us some sense and details 
of the implication of the U.S. Government in those meetings?

          MR. McCURRY:  I really don't -- I think as the statement I 
read indicates, there's been progress as a result of direct discussions 
between the Israeli and Palestinian representatives.  I really suggest, 
if you're interested in that particular subject or those particular 
meetings -- if, indeed, those meetings occur -- that you address those 
questions to the parties.

          Q    Today you said you were not "bystanders."  So it means 
that you have some measure of input in those meetings.

          MR. McCURRY:  No.  I would say that we've been aware of the 
conversations they're having and we understand how some of this dialogue 
has occurred.  By saying that I think I'd restate that, as you know, we 
are a full partner in this process and that we contribute ideas often in 
a variety of ways.

          Q    Mike, do you expect substantial progress, parallel 
progress, to the Palestinian-Israeli track on the Syrian-Israeli track?

          MR. McCURRY:  I wouldn't want to speculate on whether there 
would be progress on any other track.  I think that they are 
interdependent, and I think you all are aware of the efforts the 
Secretary made during this recent trip to try to move that track forward 
as well.  We'll have to see how the negotiations go this week.

          Q    Could you explain a little bit more of the way the Gaza-
Jericho idea relates to the joint declaration of principles?  There was 
the idea of early empowerment out there and a joint declaration that 
dealt with overall.

          MR. McCURRY:  I really would prefer not to do that.  You've 
seen, I think, from the region a lot of speculation on how these ideas 
work and what the nature of any progress might be that we're talking 
about today.

          It's really up to the parties themselves who are working 
together on exactly this question to talk a little more about the nature 
of the conversations that they're having.  So I'd refer back to them.  I 
mean you've seen a fair amount of coverage now about what the parties, 
themselves, are saying about how these ideas fit, how they relate, what 
some of the question marks are that still are out there.  I just 
wouldn't want to get into the substance of those discussions because we 
rarely do that.

          Q    Mike, I'm just curious again as to the timing of all of 
this.  Peres or somebody calls up Christopher and said, "Hey, I'd like 
to fly all the way from Israel to Santa Barbara to see you and lay out 
this great deal that we've got with the Palestinians." 

          What was Christopher's reaction?  Did he say "huh" or what?

          MR. McCURRY:  No, I don't know that that came as any great 
surprise to him.  I think that from the time that we were in the region, 
we have discussed with the parties -- and obviously with the Israeli 
side, but with the Palestinian side as well -- the types of discussions 
that they were having and the types of progress that they might be able 
to make.

          So I think it did not catch him by surprise, but he was 
certainly more than happy to have such a meeting.

          Q    But when Peres finally got there and they sat down and 
talked about this, was the Secretary surprised by what he heard, or did 
he know?  Had the Israelis kept us apprised of what was going on?

          MR. McCURRY:  I think we had good information and good 
substantive knowledge about how the talks were proceeding.  We have been 
very supportive, and I think that the purpose of the meeting was not to 
review what had happened, but really to talk about what needed to happen 

          Q    Mike, you said that in this declaration of principles, 
which may or may not be agreed to this week, it drew heavily on an 
American draft proposal.

          Without getting into the substance, was the idea of "Gaza 
first" in the American draft?

          MR. McCURRY:  I don't want to answer that question without 
checking.  I'll check and see if there is an answer that we can provide 
on that.

          Q    A question again on that meeting.  Would the Secretary 
have met with Shimon Peres -- who is the Foreign Minister not the Prime 
Minister -- would he have met without first speaking to the Israeli 
Prime Minister?  In other words, would he have received the Israeli 
Foreign Minister without clearing it?

          MR. McCURRY:  Well, that gets into a hypothetical question I 
really just don't want to answer.

          Q    Then let me rephrase it.  Did the Secretary meet with Mr. 
Peres without first clearing it with Prime Minister Rabin?

          MR. McCURRY:  I'm not going to get into who cleared meetings.  
I mean, we met, and I think I indicated to you that he had had contact 
with the Prime Minister, and he met with the Foreign Minister, and I 
think that's about all I need to say on it.  

          Q    Is it rather unusual to have the heads of delegations, 
both for the Palestinian and for the Israeli delegation to the 
Palestinian talks, to both be in opposition to this deal?

          MR. McCURRY:  You're asking me to characterize the viewpoints 
of individual delegation members, and I wouldn't want to do that.

          Q    Mike, does the Administration have any ideas for how the 
Palestinians are going to fund this concept?  I mean, Mubarak came up 
with an idea in Egypt -- going to ask the Saudis and others to help with 

          MR. McCURRY:  We do have ideas and we share our ideas with 
some of our partners in this dialogue, but I really don't want to get 
into any of the detail of that type of conversation here.

          Q    Mike, can I just ask you if you foresee a chance of a 
three-way meeting this week on the draft of the declaration of 
principles, of the U. S., Palestinians and Israelis sitting together on 
this?  Because there has been speculation about that in the region.

          MR. McCURRY:  There has been speculation on that in the 
region.  I don't have anything for you on that today.

          Q    Mike, can I ask you if...  You wouldn't state the U. S. 
policy on the PLO before.  Would you state the U. S. policy on a 
Palestinian state for us today?

          MR. McCURRY:  No, I'm not going to go back through things that 
we have covered here very, very often.

          Q    No, it's not exactly -- I'm not plucking something, you 
know, from Mars, here.  There are people, very serious people, who 
think, incredibly enough, that this could be the precursor of a 
Palestinian state, which the U. S. has objected to through succeeding 
administrations.  I wonder if you have swung into neutral on that 

          MR. McCURRY:  No, no, and my only reluctance to restate our 
well-known policy on those questions is that I might inadvertently get 
it wrong here, and I wouldn't want to dare do that.

          Q    All right, so I'll settle for a yes or a no or a maybe.  
Is the U. S. still opposed to a Palestinian state on the West Bank?

          MR. McCURRY:  Our policy on questions of that nature hasn't 

          Q    And if you think that's a laugher, how about if there's 
any U.S. -- is there any reason, legal or otherwise, that Yasser Arafat 
could not be here as part of a tripartite arrangement to formalize this 
agreement?  Is there any barrier to his presence that you know of?

          MR. McCURRY:  I would have to check and see what type of 
restrictions there are on travel that might be proposed; but in saying 
that, I wouldn't want to indicate that there is anything other than a 
great deal of hypothetical quality associated with the question.  Yes?

          Q    Mike, that would be a question worth taking, if you 
could, to see if, you know, to see if he can get in.

          MR. McCURRY:  All right.

          Q    Also, you talk about the lack of surprise that the 
Secretary had when Peres notified him that he had had a meeting.  Was 
there any sort of deadline set in the last contacts that Rabin and 
Christopher had when he was in the region?

          MR. McCURRY:  I don't think there was any deadline beyond the 
one that we have informally suggested in the past, that this is a year 
that there really could be and should be progress in these talks, and 
that every effort should be made to obtain that progress; but I think 
this is -- these developments are certainly consistent with that view of 
the calendar.

          Q    This is the first round of talks since the U. S. sort of 
changed its characterization of its own role to becoming a full partner.  
How do you see that playing out?  How will the U. S. role be different 
this time than in previous rounds?

          MR. McCURRY:  Well, there was actually an interesting question 
earlier about how would the structure of the talks themselves be 
affected; and I just don't want to speculate on that.  

          The parties are gathering.  They are going to look at what 
needs to happen to make progress.  I think you are seeing some evidence 
-- through the Secretary's meetings, through his aggressive work on this 
issue, and through some of his travel in the region -- that the role of 
full partner begins to take on different types of meanings depending on 
the track and depending on where the conversation stands at any 
particular moment; but I wouldn't want to suggest any specific things 
that are going to change other than the fact that as the parties 
themselves become more directly engaged and involved in the tough 
decision-making that lies ahead, so, too, will the United States be more 
directly and closely involved with the parties as we play our role as a 
full partner.

          Q    Michael, I find myself a little bit confused about the 
fact that Secretary Christopher was in the area after the events of 
South Lebanon, and most of his efforts -- I don't want to say all of his 
efforts -- were concentrated on Syria-Lebanon-fundamentalist axis or, 
let us say, track; and all of a sudden, we are out of this.  I ask you 
about the Syrian track and you say you don't want to speculate.

          How come the Secretary put his effort on that track, and now 
we are putting emphasis on a completely different track?  What did 
happen in the middle of that?

          MR. McCURRY:  I don't think anything necessarily different 
happened, but I would refer you back to what I said earlier.  These 
tracks are, in fact, interrelated, interdependent, and they do affect 
one another.  Throughout his recent trip in the region the Secretary was 
very actively engaged in all the tracks simultaneously; and I think 
there has just been public speculation, today particularly, on one of 
the tracks.  That's not to say that there haven't been conversations 
that are important on some of the other tracks, as well.

          Q    Mike, do you think that the apparent agreement on the 
Palestinian track will -- what sort of effect do you think  that will 
have on the Syrian track?

          MR. McCURRY:  I'm reluctant to speculate on how one track 
affects another track.  I think all of you have seen speculation on how 
those are related, or how developments in one track affect another.  I 
leave that for analysts wiser than me.

          Q    Mike, a follow up.  Do you see that the Syrians are 
positive with regard to the new developments between the Israelis and 
the Palestinians?

          MR. McCURRY:  I'm sorry, what's the question again?

          Q    Do you see the Syrians as positive in their position vis-
a-vis the new developments between the Israelis and the Palestinians?

          MR. McCURRY:  It would be incorrect for me to try to 
characterize a Syrian reaction to a development in one of the other 
tracks.  I would best leave that to them directly.

          Q    Can we go to Somalia for a second?  

          MR. McCURRY:  Yes.

          Q    What was the object of -- your understanding of the 
objective of last night's military action there?

          MR. McCURRY:  All that I know is that it was a cordon- and-
search operation.  The goals, the objectives, how the operation itself 
was carried out is best described by the Pentagon, which, I think, has 
provided some details on it today.

          Q    Mike, have there been any arms shipments for Somalia 
intercepted in recent days that you are aware of?

          MR. McCURRY:  I have to take the question.  I'm aware of some 
news speculation to that effect; but I just personally don't have the 
detail here on any of that, on any of those news accounts.  I can check 
for you.  I know the stories that you are referring to, and I'll see if 
I can get you something on that.

          Q    Mike, I thought the cargo turned out to be sugar.  Is 
that right?

          MR. McCURRY:  As I indicated, I'll have to check further.

          Q    No, no.  Wait.  Let me take up these two Somalia 
questions.  Sounds like the gang that couldn't shoot straight.  They 
attacked a U. N. building instead of an Aideed headquarters and they 
found sugar instead of weapons.  Is that an unfair -- you know, we've 
been asked if there was some intelligence.

          MR. McCURRY:  It's a very unfair characterization.  They 
didn't attack a building.  They clearly were on a mission, they were on 
a cordon-and-search operation, and they searched a building and they 
found some people, and they inadvertently detained and then immediately 
released eight people in particular.

          I mean, you are just characterizing it the wrong way.

          Q    Some of the non-governmental organizations are beginning 
to complain that operations like this and -- it's the heavy hand of the 
U. S. and other nations' militaries there that's really impeding 

          MR. McCURRY:  Well, I think some of those -- I mean, those 
types of questions I think were addressed very clearly by Secretary 
Aspin when he spoke on the overall questions on Friday, and I'd refer 
you back to some of his remarks.  

          The types of operations that we are involved in as part of 
UNOSOM and the work that we do together with the NGO's, I think he 
defined pretty carefully and clearly how we view that type of operation, 
why we see necessary some of the steps that we have been taking, and 
indeed what the future for the mission itself looks like.  So I would 
refer you back to that.

          Q    Let's do Haiti.  Do you have any observations on the 
swearing-in this morning, or the installation of a new prime minister, 
and whatever you may have on the sanctions also would be welcome.

          MR. McCURRY:  I'll do the sanctions question first.  I think 
there was a fairly complete statement put out from the White House, I 
believe on Friday, that addressed the U. S. view on the lifting of 
sanctions, both the United Nations sanctions and the OAS sanctions, 
which I believe were lifted on Friday when the Secretary General 
announced that the OAS was also suspending its own sanctions.

          The White House statement, I think, also talked about the view 
the United States takes towards the swearing in of a new prime minister 
and why that's a positive step forward in the implementation of the 
Governor's Island Accords and how we will now stand ready to work with 
the new government and meeting some of the other obligations and 
commitments that were made at the time of the Governor's Island Accord.

          Q    Back to Somalia.  Has Mr. Gosende been in touch with any 
of Aideed's people any time recently, or is that totally out of his -- 
off his screen now?

          MR. McCURRY:  I don't know the answer to that.

          Q    What is Mr. Gosende doing now?

          MR. McCURRY:  I don't know.  I'll have to check.

          Q    Could I ask you about Nigeria?  The man whom you 
described several weeks ago as President-elect, Chief Abiola, was in 
Washington this morning; and he is urging the United States to impose 
strict economic sanctions as well as withdrawing diplomatic recognition 
of the -- quote -- interim civilian regime.  Does the United States 
agree with either of those positions?

          MR. McCURRY:  I don't want to characterize any of -- you are 
talking about the visit by Chief Abiola.  He is meeting this afternoon 
with Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs George Moose; and 
because that meeting is actually occurring this afternoon, I don't want 
to speculate on what issues he is going to raise or what suggestions he 
is going to make.  He did not inform us in advance of the subjects he 
plans to raise, but we would certainly be expecting to discuss with him 
recent developments in Nigeria.

          Q    Can we have a readout of that meeting?

          MR. McCURRY:  Yes.  We'll try to find out.  I think they're 
meeting -- I forgot to check and see exactly what time.  I think it was 
around 3:00, but I can double-check that and see if we can get some more 

          Q    Mike, could I go back and just clear up a question on the 
Israeli-Palestinian agreement?  You said that we had good information 
and good substantive knowledge of what was being discussed in Oslo.

          It occurs to me that that is not the same as being consulted.  
Were we in fact consulted on what was taking place there and the 

          MR. McCURRY:  I want to choose my words carefully, just 
because I think that it goes back to the question of being a full 
partner.  We have played our full-partner role.  We know the ideas that 
are at stake in this dialogue.  We've worked very closely with the 
parties themselves on the issues at stake; and the types of decisions, 
the types of hard choices that the parties themselves have to make are 
not unlike those that have been addressed in some of the direct 
discussions that have now been held between Israeli and Palestinian 

          So in the larger sense of what are the issues -- I mean, the 
issues haven't changed just because there's a change in location of 
where the dialogue is taking place.  The issues are very much the same 
ones that remain before the parties.  We contribute ideas.  We've talked 
to them.  We know the types of choices that they are making.  We've had 
contact as recently as, you know, the Secretary's trips and then follow-
up calls with the parties.

          Q    But trying to nail it down, there were -- what I think 
you are saying is that there were not a series of phone calls back and 
forth from Oslo to Santa Barbara or to the State Department here to 
bounce ideas off you as these negotiations went forward?

          MR. McCURRY:  Well, I don't know the answer to whether there 
were transatlantic calls from Oslo.  I know that we've remained in very 
close contact with the parties as the discussions have moved forward.

          Q    Mike, can you tell us where Mr. Djerejian has been in the 
last week or two?

          MR. McCURRY:  I believe here, but I would have to check and 
see precisely where he's been.

          Q    Any overnight trips?

          MR. McCURRY:  I don't know the answer.

          Q    One detail on that:  Will there be some sort of inaugural 
gathering tomorrow with Christopher when the parties meet here?

          MR. McCURRY:  I'm going to check and see.  I think customarily 
we do some type of opening or something, and I asked that question 
earlier.  I just don't have an answer to it yet.

          Q    On Somalia again, what's the building's reaction to the 
outcome of the search and seizure?  Is there any type of governmental 

          MR. McCURRY:  The only information we have available on it is 
what came, I think, from Major Stockwell down in Mogadishu.  He's the 
one who knows more about how the response has gone today down there, and 
my understanding is he has conducted a fairly lengthy briefing today on 

          Q    But any governmental response from the seat of 
government, not from a Major in the Army.

          MR. McCURRY:  I haven't seen anything beyond the remarks that 
he made.

          Q    Anything planned at all?

          MR. McCURRY:  Well, they're following up with UNOSOM.  They've 
been in contact with -- maybe I stated that incorrectly.  I think 
there's been follow-up contact with UNOSOM today, but I don't have any 
of the detail on that.  I just know that they've been in contact with 
UNOSOM Headquarters in Mogadishu today.

          Q    Mike, is it fair to say that the U.S. expects a 
declaration of principles between Israelis and Palestinians this week, 
this round? 

          MR. McCURRY:  No.  I would say we hope and expect that the 
progress will be reflected in this round.  I'm way too cautious to 
suggest that there will be some document that will be forthcoming as a 
result specifically of these discussions.  Clearly, we would hope that 
there would be; but I don't want to predict that there definitely will 

          Q    Michael, I have a question that I hope you will not take 
as a hypothetical.  It's only theoretical.


          MR. McCURRY:  I'm allowed to take theoretical questions, not 
hypothetical questions.  All right, try me.

          Q    As a full partner, does the United States have the right 
to reject what is acceptable to both parties, or reject or accept 
something that is accepted by both?

          MR. McCURRY:  It's an interesting theoretical question.  
(Laughter)  I won't answer the theoretical question, because it 
mischaracterizes the nature of this dialogue.  The notion that there are 
positions advanced that then have to have an agreement from all three is 
just an incorrect characterization.  

          You know how we have often described these talks.  We've said 
that the parties themselves have to want peace; that we can't make it 
for them; that we can help them come to their own agreements; and 
certainly our view would be consistent with that:  that the parties 
themselves have to best address these questions that must be answered as 
they search themselves for peace and that we are there to help move them 
forward, to stimulate their dialogue, and to make progress obtainable.

          Q    Mike, if I could go to Bosnia for a second.  Does the 
Administration think that -- how does the Administration feel about 
reopening negotiations on the accord, and has the Secretary been in 
touch with any of those new principals about negotiations in recent 
days, expressing his opinion on the vote, say yesterday and --

          MR. McCURRY:  I don't know if the Secretary has been in 
contact with the parties.  I know we have had close contact with -- 
certainly, with President Izetbegovic.  I'm not sure about the Croats or 
the Serb parties to the negotiations.  I think we are aware that there 
are concerns.  I mean, clearly, we're aware of the decision by the 
Bosnian Muslims over the weekend to look for additional changes in the 
nature of the settlement; and we understand that, and we will certainly 
watch to see how the discussions proceed in Geneva.

          Q    Do we think those requests are justified?

          MR. McCURRY:  I don't want to take a position on the requests, 
because I don't know -- I haven't had a chance to talk to Ambassador 
Redman and find out exactly what they might be looking for as they 
examine the proposed settlement and what additional requests they might 
be asking for.

          Q    Mike, on the West Bank and Gaza, are there discussions, 
maybe even promises, of U.S. financial contributions?  With these new 
arrangements, obviously, there will be new problems and --

          MR. McCURRY:  I don't want to get into -- there have been 
discussions generally in the past about a fund that would help empower 
some of the transfer of functions, but I don't want to link that 
directly to anything forthcoming in the talks.

          Q    Well, have the Israelis asked for contributions or at 
least that you consider it and -- apparently they're going to go to the 
Japanese, too.

          MR. McCURRY:  I don't know the answer to that question, and I 
have no reason to doubt that that's true; but I'd want to check to be 
absolutely sure.

          Q    A follow-up on the same.  Does the United States have 
contact with countries from the area or other countries from outside the 
area to find out ways of assisting the Palestinians financially?

          MR. McCURRY:  Well, I think we do.  We do have substantial 
contact with other parties within the region and outside the region 
about how to help move the process forward; but I think I would leave it 
at that without characterizing the specific ideas exchanged.

          Q    Mike, whatever happened to the good ship "Yin He"?

          MR. McCURRY:  I believe the "Yin He" is still in Dammam being 
inspected.  I don't have anything new for you.

          Q    How long has that been going on?

          MR. McCURRY:  I'm not sure exactly when they began the 
inspection itself.  I think it was supposed to have started over the 
weekend, and frankly I just don't know how long it would take.  It's a 
large cargo container vessel, and I'd have to check further to see how 
long the inspection itself might take.

          Q    Sir, if you do find those kind of chemicals in the ship, 
what will you do?  Are you contemplating new sanctions against China?

          MR. McCURRY:  I don't want to speculate on what might happen 
as they continue the inspection.  It wouldn't be right to do that.

          Q    Michael, do you have anything to say on the referendum in 
Azerbaijan, and do we still consider Elchibey as the sole, unique 
President of Azerbaijan?

          MR. McCURRY:  Yes.  Mr. Elchibey remains the legal President 
of Azerbaijan.  The official results of the referendum are not expected 
for several days.  We understand the difficult political and military 
situation in which Azerbaijan finds itself since the events of June.  We 
have consistently urged the Azerbaijani Government to take steps to 
restore Azerbaijan to a democratic path.  A referendum might be a useful 
instrument by which people could express their will in that type of 
regard; however, we've been concerned about conditions under which the 
referendum itself was held.

          We continue to watch events in Azerbaijan closely and remind 
the Azerbaijani Government that we expect it to demonstrate its express 
commitment to democracy through free elections, freedom of speech and 
the press, and an end to arrest and detention of individuals for their 
political beliefs.  We urge the Azerbaijani Government to protect the 
rights of all citizens, and we will continue to stress the importance of 
human rights issues in our relations with Azerbaijan.

          Q    Are you going to -- are you trying to work out a 
compromise between Elchibey and Aliyev?  Are you being more deeply 

          MR. McCURRY:  Well, we have been pressing for an acceptance of 
a proposal by the neutral members of the CSCE-sponsored Minsk Group.  
They've been working on a proposal for a temporary cease-fire withdrawal 
from recently occupied territories, deployment of international monitors 
and resumption of negotiations.

          We have been actively engaged in that peace process.  Our 
negotiator, Ambassador John J. Maresca -- Jack Maresca -- is in Moscow 
and Ankara this week for consultations with other Minsk Group members.  
So we are involved in those CSCE-sponsored negotiations.

          Q    One more on Nigeria:  Since we talked to you last, this 
interim civilian regime has taken over.  Does the question of U.S. 
recognition arise with this new government?  In other words, does the 
United States still diplomatically recognize what is now called the 
government there?

          MR. McCURRY:  Well, we applaud the decision by General 
Babangida to step down as Head of State; but there are answers to 
questions that we need to know that are essential to determine whether 
or not Nigeria has now an unhindered civilian government.  We have been 
anxious to know whether or not this transfer of power would occur to a 
civilian government that then could operate, as we say, unhindered; and 
there's a great  deal more that we would have to know to our 
satisfaction before we could proceed in any diplomatic way on Nigeria.

          Q    So for the moment the relations between the United States 
and Nigeria continue as they were?

          MR. McCURRY:  Yes.  For the moment the steps that we had taken 
remain in effect.  We had brought pressure on the Government of Nigeria, 
and I don't believe there's any plan to change those measures in the 
foreseeable future.

          Q    Military spokesmen say that this operation in Somalia 
went off without a hitch, and it was very successful. Do you hold the 
same view?

          MR. McCURRY:  I will let the Pentagon speak for the Pentagon 
on that issue.  

          Q    Mike, do you have anything on the murder of Mr. Woodruff 
in Georgia last month, the investigation of that?

          MR. McCURRY:  I don't.  I am checking further on that because, 
as you know, we had a team that was over there from August 12; and they 
were looking at some of the evidence that they had been able to analyze.  
I have asked that as soon as they've got something we can share publicly 
on that, that we be allowed to do so.  I haven't gotten anything back 
yet, but, on the other hand, I forgot to check today; but I will check 
to see if we have anything new.

          Q    Thank you.

          MR. McCURRY:  Goodbye.  Farewell.

          (The briefing concluded at 1:14 p.m.)


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