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

Note: This Electronic Research Collection (ERC) is an archive site. For the most current information, please visit the US State Department homepage.

Tuesday, September 14, 1993

                                 BRIEFER:  Michael McCurry

SUBJECT                                         PAGE 

Department Sponsors Town Meeting in Dallas 9/16
  Counselor Wirth to Keynote ...................1
Secretary to Testify on NAFTA before Senate
  Finance Committee Tomorrow ...................1
No Regular Press Briefing Tomorrow .............1

Amnesty International Report on Human Rights ...2

Israeli Diplomacy with Arab Governments/US Role 2-3
--  Recognition by Arab Governments ............2-3
Bilateral Negotiations/Role of PLO/Venue .......3
Implementation of Declaration of Principles ....3,5-8
--  Funding/US Efforts .........................5-7
Ambassador Ross' Meetings with Parties .........3
US Relations with PLO/US Visa Restrictions .....4-5,12
--  Travel to UN ...............................12

President's Remark re:  Peacekeeping Troops
  in Somalia/Bosnia ............................8-9

President's Remark re:  US Peacekeeping Troops 
  in Somalia/Bosnia ............................8-9

US/UN Efforts to Restore Civil Order ...........9
Status of Police Chief .........................9

US Eases Restrictions on American Companies ....10

Wai Jingsheng Released from Detention ..........10
US Conditions for Continuing MFN ...............10-11

US Conditions for Resuming Dialogue ............11-12


                       DEPARTMENT OF STATE
                       DAILY PRESS BRIEFING

                                                      DPC #128

             TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 14, 1993, 12:46 P.M.

         MR. McCURRY:  Good afternoon, everybody.  I have just two very 
brief housekeeping announcements to begin with.  First, again the 
Department is sponsoring with a local Council on World Affairs, in this 
case the Dallas Council on World Affairs, a town meeting, and again part 
of our effort to bring a discussion of foreign policy before the 
American people.  In this case, it will be Thursday, September l6th.  
This session in Dallas will feature a keynote address by Counselor 
Timothy Wirth, from the Department, on global issues, including a 
discussion of NAFTA.  There will also be briefings on economic 
development in East Asia and the Pacific region; a briefing on Russian 
aid; and a briefing on terrorism.  We've got more information on that 
session in the Press Office.

          And then, secondly, as some of you I think know, Secretary 
Christopher, Treasury Secretary Bentsen, and Special Trade 
Representative Kantor will be appearing in an open session before the 
Senate Finance Committee tomorrow to testify on NAFTA.  The hearing will 
be held in Room 215 of the Dirksen Senate Office Building at 10:00 a.m.

          Because of that testimony, the Secretary being on the Hill, 
there will not be a regular briefing here at the Department tomorrow.

          With those two housekeeping announcements, I'll take any 
questions you have.

          Q    Are the hearings on NAFTA?

          MR. McCURRY:  The hearings?

          Q    The hearing tomorrow is NAFTA.

          MR. McCURRY:  Is NAFTA, yes, yes.  The three of them 
testifying together.  Again, obviously, this is part -- I think you all 
know, the Secretary was at the White House today for the kick-off of the 
Administration's effort to gain approval of NAFTA, and the Secretary was 
quite enthusiastic about the President's remarks today.  Surprise, 
surprise.  (Laughter)

          Q    Do you have any comment on the Amnesty International 
report about persecutions of Shiites and Christians in Saudi Arabia?

          MR. McCURRY:  I don't -- we are aware of the report itself, 
and as we frequently do, we take the information that we get from 
Amnesty International and use that along with material we develop from 
other sources and other organizations that look at these questions when 
we evaluate these human rights issues on our own.

          I will say that we, of course, support religious freedom.  Our 
most recent human rights report contains substantial coverage of the 
situation in Saudi Arabia, and we have made our views and our concerns 
known about this at the highest levels within the Saudi Government.

          Q    Have things -- in the Department's opinion since the 
human rights report was released some months ago -- have things gotten 
better or worse in Saudi Arabia?

          MR. McCURRY:  I don't have an update.  I can't answer that 
question.  I don't have any current information.  That is something that 
we do look at, and if there is interest in that I'll see if we have 
developed any further information on that.

          Q    Mike, do you know the list of countries planning to 
recognize Israel now that the Palestinian agreement has been signed, and 
have you been kept informed by the Israeli Government of this?

          MR. McCURRY:  We have had good discussions with the Israelis 
on their interest in seeking additional recognition within the Arab 
world.  I don't have any list.  I know that we are in close contact with 
the Israeli Government about some of their diplomatic efforts, but I 
don't have any specific information I can share with you about who they 
are looking to to develop these types of diplomatic contacts.

          Q    Well, given the fact that we were kind of blind-sided by 
the agreement, I just wonder if we are going to be blind-sided by each 
of these announcements as they come, or do you actually know who they 
are discussing this with?

          MR. McCURRY:  I don't think that's a fair characterization.  I 
mean, I think governments that are dealing with other governments and 
discussing matters such as diplomatic relations or recognition, have a 
perfect right to conduct those discussions themselves, and announcements 
that they make about this and information they provide about those 
contacts, properly, as we often say here, comes directly from them, not 
from us.

          Q    My question was, do you know who they are talking to?  Do 
you know who the announcements are expected to be from?

          MR. McCURRY:  On the second question, no, I don't know what 
announcements are planned.  We have had some discussions with them about 
their diplomatic efforts on that front.

          Q    Is the United States joining in those diplomatic efforts, 
particularly with the North African and Gulf countries?

          MR. McCURRY:  I don't know the answer to that, Mark.  I'll 
take that question because I think that we are, but I don't know for a 
fact that we are, and let me just double-check that and make sure.

          Q    Another topic?

          Q    One more on this.  Has the PLO officially become the 
Palestinian delegation in the Madrid conference in its aftermath?

          MR. McCURRY:  I don't believe that question has been answered 
yet.  I think that what is important is, because of the agreement signed 
yesterday, there are some formal committees that now need to be 
established, and certainly a lot of the action will shift to that front 
in looking at how you create those committees that are called for in the 
declaration itself, and how you carry forward the effort to build the 
institutions that are necessary to carry out a lot of the commitments 
made in the declaration.

          That was a subject in the meeting that Ambassador Ross had 
today with members of the PLO delegation, three who visited here this 
morning, and that's the kind of thing we will certainly be working on in 
the weeks ahead.

          Q    Would you expect that those committees would meet in 
Washington or in the region, and that the existing delegation would 
continue to meet in Washington?

          MR. McCURRY:  I don't think the venue has been determined yet.  
I think you heard the delegations and the parties themselves suggest 
this morning that they might, in fact, have direct negotiations in the 
region.  That certainly is not something that we would discourage.  
That's necessary, in fact, if they are going to move forward and help to 
implement the agreements called for.

          What is clear is that in all the meetings that we held 
yesterday with the PLO delegation and the Israeli delegation, there was 
strong interest on the part of both sides to see that we would 
participate with them in building the structures and the institutions 
and the procedures necessary to make sure that this agreement is a 

          Q    Mike, now that we have resumed a dialogue with the PLO, 
is it the U.S.'s intention to lift the travel restrictions on members of 
the PLO?

          MR. McCURRY:  They are -- in fact, we have to lift them.  I 
was curious about this myself, so I inquired.  The PLO party that 
visited here for the signing ceremony yesterday had temporary business 
visas, so-called B-l visas.  They were granted.  There are restrictions 
on their travel and we were -- I'm sorry, there were no travel 
restrictions on those visas when they were issued, but they did have to 
be granted waivers of the ineligibility provisions that refer to 
officials of the PLO.  

          PLO officials, under current Congressional restrictions, are 
ineligible for temporary business visas.  That can be waived under 
certain circumstances, as they were for Chairman Arafat and his party.

          But that is the kind of question, I think, as you know, that 
we are now looking at very actively to determine how you sort out some 
of the legal restrictions that do exist.

          Q    I'm sorry, you said in the beginning, "we have to lift 
the travel restrictions."  I'm not sure what you mean.

          MR. McCURRY:  Well, there were no travel restrictions on these 
particular visas.  At the time the visa was issued, they didn't place 
any restrictions on where the individuals could travel within the 
country.  I misspoke.  I was referring to the fact that there is an 
ineligibility provision that relates to PLO officials that had to be 

          Q    So you are now looking at lifting the travel restrictions 
entirely on them?

          MR. McCURRY:  Well, I think that that's a question that 
applies to the granting of individual visas.  If I'm not mistaken, I 
think you attach the travel restrictions at the time the visa itself is 
issued, and there were not any restrictions placed on these visas that 
were granted.

          Q    Mike, aren't there restrictions in law on officials of 
the PLO coming here, traveling, getting visas?

          MR. McCURRY:  We went through a list the other day of some of 
the things.  I mean, there were a number of Congressionally imposed 
restrictions, but I'm not sure that those were among the restrictions, 
because there is a general prohibition and ineligibility for visas 
applying to PLO officials across the board that has to be waived.  So 
they don't address the question of travel restrictions in connection 
with the visas, since the visas under the restriction can't be issued.

          Q    (Inaudible)

           MR. McCURRY:  Unless it's waived.

          Q    I don't think I want to pursue this any further.  

          Q    I think we are all pretty confused now.

          MR. McCURRY:  Thank you.  (Laughter) 

          Q    As long as this legislation stands then, you are going to 
have to go through this same process --

          MR. McCURRY:  Yes.  

          Q    -- when a PLO official applies for a visa, like saying, 
"Okay, we waive the PLO language in your visa."

          MR. McCURRY:  There is a carefully done but cumbersome 
procedure that is necessary to allow a delegation to come visit, and 
that's among the existing restrictions that we are now examining, are 
exactly those that refer to travel by PLO officials.

          Q    Mike, you mentioned the interest on both sides in the U. 
S. helping ensure the success of the agreement.  Can you explain what 
the format for U.S. efforts will take on the money side?  Is there talk 
of a pledging conference, a G-7 meeting, or will the U. S. just continue 
to work bilaterally with its partners?

          MR. McCURRY:  What we have done up to this date has been 
largely bilateral, although has been done sometimes in the context of 
gatherings like the G-7 Summit in Tokyo.

          I'll tell you that this is a question that is being looked at 
now.  They really don't know the best way to pursue the effort to 
attract international financial support for this agreement.

          The Secretary and the U. S. peace team discussed this issue 
with both delegations yesterday, and I think there will be some more 
thinking on how best to establish the multilateral financial support 
effort that will be necessary if this agreement is to be a success.

          There is strong interest in making sure that you build 
institutions in the region that are going to be effective.  I think as 
some of you know, it is not so much a question of the money itself being 
raised, because there does seem to be generous support that is possible 
from the international community if this agreement does proceed, or if 
it proceeds to be implemented.  But what is necessary is to ensure that 
the right types of institutions and the right people are there on  the 
ground who can make sure that the assistance effort is effective.  I 
think that that's -- there is a lot of discussion now about how to do 
that, what the best venue is, what the best international financial 
institutions are that could participate; and the answers are just not 
clear at this point.

          Q    Along those lines of on the ground and building the 
institutions there, what has the U.S. said it will or won't be willing 
to do in terms of building institutions?  Is there any thought to be 
given to police force training, observers, peacekeepers?  What sorts of 
possibilities exist out there?

          MR. McCURRY:  Those are issues that -- in the first instance, 
where we are now, the agreement having been signed, they establish the 
committees that will actually begin to work on exactly those types of 
issues.  It will be up to the parties themselves to request that type of 
assistance from the world community if they do s; but we're at a point 
now -- that's why I keep stressing that the next step immediately after 
the signing yesterday is to begin to work on building these committees 
that will become a formal way of handling questions exactly like that.

          Q    Have we ruled anything in or out in terms of U.S. people 
on the ground?

          MR. McCURRY:  Of course we haven't ruled anything in or out 
because we've made it very clear to the parties that we want to work 
closely with them and do what we can do to be effective; but by 
answering that way, I don't want to imply that we've thought through any 
specific requests that we might get because there haven't been any, to 
my knowledge.

          Q    Mike, does the Administration -- it may be a little 
early, but does the Administration think that Israel itself should 
contribute to this fund for Palestinian development?  Have you discussed 
it with Israel?  Have they indicated one way or the other?  And if not, 
is the Administration just sort of saying -- is Israel just saying, 
we're washing our hands of it; it's you-all's problem now?

          MR. McCURRY:  Anything but that.  Their attitude as they met 
with officials here at the Department yesterday is very much to the 
contrary.  They recognize that they, too, have a stake in the success of 
the arrangements that have been made as part of this agreement.  In 
fact, they expressed to the United States yesterday their own strong 
feelings that we needed to ensure that this agreement is an economic 
success because they recognize then there would be a greater prospect 
that it would be a political success.

          They clearly understand that there will need to be a great 
deal of hard work ahead to figure out how you handle the question of 
developing the resources necessary to carry out these agreements; and I 
think they are prepared to work with the United States, and of course 
they will be working directly  with the Palestinians through the 
committee structure in addressing those questions.

          Q    But have they said they're prepared to fork over money?

          MR. McCURRY:  I would leave it up to them to describe that.

          Q    Do we think they should?  Does the Administration think 
they should participate financially in this fund?

          MR. McCURRY:  I don't know that we have expressed any view on 
that at this point.  I'll pass it.

          Q    The agreement has a fairly tight timeframe in terms of --

          MR. McCURRY:  Actually, Sid, let me come back to it because it 
is -- thinking about that for a second.  There are risks associated that 
Israel is taking on in connection with making this agreement.  There are 
requirements that they will have financially associated with their own 
commitments and obligations under the Declaration itself.  They have, of 
course, discussed those risks and their needs in that context, so I 
don't want to lead anyone to think that they are in a position where 
they suddenly have something that they can freely depart with.

          Q    There is a time factor in all of this in terms of getting 
resources together and beginning to channel them.  In what sense is the 
U.S. and the world community under the gun in coming up with a format?

          MR. McCURRY:  I'd say a large part of the discussions held 
privately yesterday with both delegations involve that point exactly:  
the urgency of seeing that this agreement translates as soon as possible 
into improvements on the ground, what will it require, how can they go 
about ensuring that that happens?  Certainly, both parties are very 
sensitive to the importance of that because they know that improvements 
have to be seen on the street for the agreement to have been seen 
universally as being a successful one.

          Q    The leaders involved are going to be in New York at the 
end of the month.  Is that perhaps a time when we might see some public 
announcements on amounts of funds or which international institutions 
you're going to use?

          MR. McCURRY:  It's just too early to know that.  It would be 
speculative to say there would be any announcements; but because of the 
excitement and the interest generated by the signing yesterday, it 
surely will be a subject of discussion  when the world leaders gather at 
the U.N. at the end of the month.

          Q    Is there any other role the U.N. might play?  Is this 
anything that the Security Council will take up to endorse the peace?  
Is there any thought at all or request for U.N. participation somehow?

          MR. McCURRY:  I don't know that there's any answer to that.  
There may be, but those are the types of things that are being discussed 
now.  I don't think there's anything we can say definitively about that.

          Q    Can you say anything about what sorts of options are 
being considered?

          MR. McCURRY:  I'd prefer not to.  There are a number of 
options that can be looked at, but that's all being sorted out now.

          Q    New subject?

          MR. McCURRY:  New subject.

          Q    The President gave an interview over the weekend in which 
he said that if the United States were to get involved in policing a 
peace agreement in Bosnia, "then we need to have a time certain for 
withdrawal of our forces from Somalia.  If the United Nations is going 
to continue in the work of nation-building, it might be well for others 
to be involved."

          Is the Secretary and this Department operating under the 
assumption that that is now United States policy?

          MR. McCURRY:  Obviously, they've had many conversations about 
both Bosnia and Somalia.  I don't know that the President's remarks were 
reflecting, in a sense, a new policy established by the Administration 
as opposed to just understanding or reflecting the reality of what the 
situation is; but I'll ask the Secretary and others further to see if 
there has been some new effort to link those two in the way you suggest 
with your question.

          Q    Can I follow up?  Is it the reality of the situation that 
United States forces can't begin implementing a peace accord in Bosnia 
until there is a date certain for withdrawal from Somalia?

          MR. McCURRY:  I don't think that has been established with 
certainty, but there are some practical effects associated with 
participation and peacekeeping:  the numbers of people available, the 
funding that's available.  You're heard people in the Administration 
suggest one of the reasons we consult closely with Congress is because 
they have great concerns about how resources are being developed for 
these U.N.-sponsored peacekeeping missions.

          So I think the President was reflecting what is, in fact, 
going on, that there is close consultation with Congress on how these 
matters will be addressed; but I'll refer you over to the White House 
for further elaboration on the President's remarks in that interview.

          Q    Another topic.  Is there anything new on the situation in 
Haiti that's developed over the weekend?

          MR. McCURRY:  I think, as you know from our statements over 
the weekend, we have been following the situation very carefully because 
of the massacre in the church, which was abhorrent and which we 
condemned with very strong language.

          Ambassador Pezzullo has been there working with the UNOAS 
Special Envoy Dante Caputo to address the violence, to make it clear 
that we believe that there's a need now to go forward with the 
Governor's Island accords to separate the police from the military, to 
create a new police force and to provide training to the military 
itself.  That's essential to supporting the new constitutional 
government of Prime Minister Malval as it works to protect human rights 
and establish the rule of law.

          I think, as some of you know, there is a team from the United 
Nations that is now in Haiti working to assess what are the requirements 
going to be for an international presence in Haiti.  One thing that is 
happening, that the U.N. has directed to have happen, is that they make 
a very careful assessment of how the international participation would 
be conducted, what the requirements would be and how individual nations 
could support the effort.  So we will clearly be working with that U.N. 
preparation team as it's in Haiti, looking at what recommendations they 
make to the United Nations on how to structure the international 
presence in Haiti.

          Q    Does the U.S. support Aristide's call for the resignation 
of the police chief and police leadership?

          MR. McCURRY:  It's part of the Governor's Island accords that 
they will be leaving office, and we support the Government of Haiti and, 
as I say, Special Envoy Caputo as they work to achieve full 
implementation of the accords.

          Q    But Aristide seemed to be implying that he wanted them to 
resign before he returned, which is different, I think, than what the 
accords call for.

          MR. McCURRY:  That is different, but I'd just fall back and 
say that we expect the accords to be fully implemented, and the accords 
themselves do call for those officers to leave office.

          Q    On Vietnam, the announcement by the White House 
yesterday.  Do you have anything on the kinds of projects that American 
firms might be able to compete for? 

          MR. McCURRY:  I don't.  I'd have to direct you to those who 
are more knowledgeable about some of the projects that are envisioned 
under the international financial institutions that would be allowed to 
participate as a result of the U.S. decision to drop its objection to 
that kind of lending.

          It has been described in various accounts -- I think you've 
seen -- as being public works type efforts, infrastructure development.  
That certainly would be consistent with what we would see; but I just am 
not knowledgeable enough about the specific types of projects that 
international institutions might consider for funding.  There are a lot 
of good places to check that would have that kind of information.

          Q    On China, any reaction to the release of one of the best 
known dissidents whose name I cannot pronounce.

          MR. McCURRY:  Wei Jingsheng.  

          Q    Whatever.  (Laughter)

          MR. McCURRY:  We welcome the announcement that Wei Jingsheng 
has finally been released after serving more than 14 years of a 15-year 
sentence.  The U.S. has long called upon China to release all persons 
like Wei, imprisoned solely for the peaceful expression of their 
political views.  Other dissidents in China, however, continue to be 
detained and sentenced for the same reason as Wei -- their non-violent 
expression of personal opinions and beliefs -- and clearly that is a 
question that the United States will continue to watch carefully as it 
examines a host of issues regarding our bilateral relationship with 

          Q    So is this going to be a positive check mark on the 
credit side of the MFN credit/debit sheet?

          MR. McCURRY:  Significant progress on human rights, including 
the release of political prisoners, is one of the criteria set forth by 
the President in his May 28 Executive Order on the question of Most-
Favored-Nation status; and I think that this announcement clearly is 
welcome.  It is after Wei Jingsheng has served 14 years of 15-year 
sentence, so we would note that accordingly.

          Q    And, Mike, is it the U.S.'s feeling that the Chinese are 
indeed making significant progress, such progress that it would qualify 
them to avoid the conditions on MFN?

          MR. McCURRY:  That is a decision that very clearly will be 
looked at next year based on the criteria that the President established 
in the Executive Order.

          Q    I understand, but you get periodic reports from the 
Embassy as to how they're doing.  You don't just wait until the end of 
the year and sum it all up.

          MR. McCURRY:  This would be one positive note, but we would 
want a much more complete report before we would provide that type of 

          Q    Mike, Assistant Secretary Gallucci has said that the 
North Koreans haven't met the requirements necessary to begin a new 
round of discussions.  I take it by that he meant that they need to 
cooperate with the IAEA on inspections of these suspected sites as 
opposed to other sites that we aren't so suspicious of; and if that's 
true, what are the next steps for the U.S. in trying to resolve this 

          MR. McCURRY:  Obviously, we do hope that North Korea will 
promptly move to resolve those types of issues with the IAEA and that 
they will also open the discussions with the Republic of Korea on the 
South-North issues that need to be discussed.

          The next steps, I guess, the International Atomic Energy 
Agency Board of Governors will meet in Vienna September 22; and it seems 
pretty clear that the North Korean nuclear issue will be on their agenda 
at that point.

          We remain hopeful.  I think you know of Assistant Secretary 
Gallucci's statements.  We remain hopeful that North Korea will continue 
its substantive consultations with the IAEA on the outstanding 
safeguards issues, the inspections issues that still remain in dispute, 
and of course that they will resume the dialogue with South Korea.  If 
that does not happen or if the dialogue fails due to a lack of progress 
toward a resolution of the nuclear issue, we expect the matter would 
have to be returned to the U.N. Security Council; and we have made that 
very clear to North Korea.

          Q    Any sort of timeframe or --

          MR. McCURRY:  We have not set any kind of deadline, but a 
determination to refer the matter back to the United Nations would have 
to be made after consulting with other interested nations.

          Q    But our bottom line is that they have to allow inspectors 
in to these suspicious sites before we resume a bilateral dialogue with 

          MR. McCURRY:  Our conditions are the same that we've stated 
all along:  that they have to be in substantive consultations with the 
IAEA that satisfy the IAEA, among others, and that they have to resume 
the South-North dialogue.

          Q    Mike, let's go back to the Arafat question -- Chairman 
Arafat question, the visa question.  Did he express an interest in 
coming to the U.N. General Assembly at the end of the month; and would 
you expect we would issue him a visa?  At that point would the 
restrictions be lifted?

          MR. McCURRY:  I'm not aware that he expressed any interest in 
that.  I wasn't in all the meetings that he was in yesterday, but I 
haven't heard that they expressed an interest in that.

          Q    Would the United States permit that to happen?

          MR. McCURRY:  We are in a position now where we have made 
visas available to him for travel here for the purposes of attending the 
ceremony yesterday, and I think it would be consistent with our desire 
to advance the process that we would seek to make opportunities 
available in which a dialogue can occur that would further the peace 
process.  We would, of course, have to examine any specific request, 
consistent with our law, on a case-by-case basis.

          Q    So once the law is lifted, there will be no restrictions.

          MR. McCURRY:  If and when there would be any change in the 
restrictions that now exist, imposed by Congress, then it would be a 
different type of question.

          Q    Was there a meeting with the Palestinians today in this 

          MR. McCURRY:  Yes, the one I mentioned earlier that Ambassador 
Ross had with Nabil Shaath, Faisal Husseini and Ahmed Khalidi.

          Q    Mike, Who was the last one you said?

          MR. McCURRY:  Ahmed Khalidi.

          Q    Thank you.

          MR. McCURRY:  You're welcome.

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


To the top of this page