931210 Daily Press Briefing  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.
US DEPARTMENT OF STATE
DAILY PRESS BRIEFING
FRIDAY, DECEMBER 10, 1993

                                                      BRIEFER:  
Christine Shelly


Subject                                                                  
Page

HUMAN RIGHTS DAY
Asst. Secretary Shattuck's Statement .......................1-11
--  UN High Commissioner for Human Rights ...........2-3
--  Human Rights Watch Report on US Immigration
      Policy 
........................................................................
.........3-4
--  Freedom of Speech/Free Press in Russia ...........4,10
--  Human Rights Watch Report on Greece ................5
--  US Human Rights Report Due in January .............5
--  Human Rights Watch Statements about US ........5-7
--  Former Yugoslavia 
.........................................................6
--  Human Rights in Middle East/Syria/Israel/
      Egypt 
........................................................................
..........6-8
--  Changes in Human Rights Around the World ......8-9
--  China 
........................................................................
...........9-11
--  Cuba 
........................................................................
............10
--  North Korea 
.....................................................................11

NORTH KOREA
US Delivered Proposal in New York .............................11-12

RUSSIA
Elections/US Monitoring/Private Observers............12-13

GREECE
Deputy FM Papandreou's Meeting with Acting 
  Secretary Today 
................................................................13
Macedonia/US Position 
.....................................................13

MIDDLE EAST PEACE
Secretary's Trip/Return 
...................................................13
Resumption of Bilateral Talks in Washington ........15

ALGERIA
Departure of Americans Recommended/Drawdown of
  US Embassy Staff 
..............................................................13-15

FORMER YUGOSLAVIA
Peace Talks to Resume in Geneva on December .....15
Update on Fighting/Humanitarian Relief ..................15-17

UKRAINE
Pledge to Resubmit START I Treaty/US Aid ............17-19

(###)



                       DEPARTMENT OF STATE
                       DAILY PRESS BRIEFING

                                                      DPC #162

              FRIDAY, DECEMBER 10, 1993, 1:00 P. M.
              (ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED)


         MS. SHELLY:  Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen.  It is with 
great pleasure that I introduce today, on Human Rights Day, Mr. John 
Shattuck, our Assistant Secretary for Human Rights and Humanitarian 
Affairs.

          Mr. Shattuck was sworn in in this position on June 2, 1993.  
Prior to this, Mr. Shattuck was Vice President of Harvard University, 
where he also taught human rights and civil liberties law.

          I would also note that as a long-time advocate of human 
rights, Mr. Shattuck served as the Executive Director of the American 
Civil Liberties Union, the Washington office, from 1976-84, where he was 
in charge of directing relations with the United States Congress and 
Executive Branch agencies.

          He will open with a statement and then will be happy to take 
your questions and answers.  Following this, I will also take any 
remaining questions that you might have on other subjects.  Assistant 
Secretary Shattuck, please.

          ASSISTANT SECRETARY SHATTUCK:  Thank you very much.

          I want to welcome you all to the celebration of the 
International Human Rights Day today, the 45th anniversary of the 
adoption by the U.N. of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.  When 
Eleanor Roosevelt and her colleagues drafted this document in 1948, they 
left the world an important and enduring legacy.  The Universal 
Declaration is in its own words a common standard of achievement for all 
peoples and all nations.  That Declaration, which was reaffirmed this 
year in Vienna at the World Conference on Human Rights, honors the 
integrity of every human being.  It fosters respect for civil liberties, 
including freedom of speech, freedom of the press, freedom of assembly 
and association, freedom to practice any religion and freedom to move 
within one's own country.  The Declaration insists on the right of every 
person to be free from torture, arbitrary arrest or exile for political 
reasons.

          Today we celebrate the grass roots movement for human rights 
and freedom and democracy that is active all over the world and reflects 
the courage and commitment of millions of women and men who are pressing 
their governments and the international community to live up to the 
principles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

          This Administration has from the outset signaled its 
determination to address human rights and democracy as a central 
component of U.S. foreign policy.  At the World Conference on Human 
Rights the U.S. presented an ambitious human rights action plan.  
Working with non-governmental organizations and like-minded governments, 
we achieved an outcome far more positive than most thought possible.

          The World Conference reaffirmed, and I quote, "The solemn 
commitment of all states to fulfill their obligations to promote 
universal respect for an observance and protection of all human rights 
and fundamental freedoms."  It also agreed, and I quote, "That the 
universal nature of these rights and freedoms is beyond question."  

          The principle of universality is the cornerstone of what we 
celebrate on Human Rights Day.  While we respect the cultural and 
historical differences that make each country unique, we also reaffirm 
that no matter what race or religion people are, no matter what 
geographic location they come from, people all over the world are 
entitled to enjoy the same basic human rights and fundamental freedoms.

          One of the key results of the World Conference on Human Rights 
was a recommendation, strongly advanced by the United States and other 
countries, to establish a United Nations High Commissioner for Human 
Rights.  Just as the international community has a voice and an 
effective champion to address the problems of refugees in the person of 
the High Commissioner for Refugees, the world needs a champion in the 
area of human rights.

          Although the U.N. currently considers human rights issues for 
a few weeks during the General Assembly and at the annual meetings of 
the U.N. Human Rights Commission in Geneva, there is no single 
international focus for human rights concerns at all times.

          A High Commissioner would be able to spotlight human rights 
issues around the world throughout the year.  It would ensure the full 
implementation of U.N. human rights decisions, and it would supervise 
all U.N. human rights programs and would coordinate assistance to 
countries seeking to improve their human rights records.

          The High Commissioner would also be responsible for global 
human rights issues in the areas of peacekeeping, peacemaking and 
humanitarian assistance.

          In the months since the World Conference and particularly in 
recent weeks, the United States, with the support from many other 
countries, has made every effort to ensure that such a position be 
established before the General Assembly goes out of session later this 
month.  In his address to the General Assembly in September, President 
Clinton called the creation of a High Commissioner on Human Rights the 
top U.S. priority in the U.N. this year.  Creation of a High 
Commissioner will not solve all the human rights problems of the world, 
but it will strengthen the international commitment to the principles of 
the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

          In this 45th anniversary of the Declaration, the United States 
calls for the establishment of this important position now.

          I'd be happy to take your questions.

          Q    Mr. Shattuck, Human Rights Watch this week, together with 
your former organization, the ACLU, have come out with a report; and, 
among other things, speaking of the United States, it says that the U.S. 
forcible repatriation of Haitians is in violation of the International 
Covenant on Civil and Political Rights which the United States signed in 
September a year ago.

          Do you agree, and do you have any comment?

          ASSISTANT SECRETARY SHATTUCK:  The answer to the human rights 
catastrophe in Haiti -- and it is a catastrophe, and I would say at this 
briefing that I will be going to Haiti on Monday for a trip -- a very 
special human rights trip to give an award -- a posthumous award to the 
family of former assassinated Justice Minister Guy Mallary -- a Human 
Rights Day special commitment that the United States wants to show to 
the need for addressing the terrible violence and the circumstances 
affecting the human rights of millions of Haitians.

          The answer to the catastrophe is to bring democracy back to 
Haiti, and to do so has been the challenge that this Administration has 
faced for many months now.  There certainly have been setbacks.  The 
issue of asylum applications and the adjudication of asylum and the 
consideration of asylum applications is being addressed by a 
considerably stepped-up in-country processing system, which has resulted 
in some 1,800 applications having recently been granted and those 
individuals having come to the United States.

          The tragedy of refugees worldwide in circumstances affecting 
where human rights abuses occur is one of the great challenges of our 
period.

          Q    Well, on the specific issue, though, whatever the 
justification, would you agree that the U.S. forcible repatriation is 
against either the spirit or the letter of the International Covenant?

          ASSISTANT SECRETARY SHATTUCK:  The U.S. is committed to 
considering the asylum applications of all who make them in Haiti, and 
to the extent that that commitment is fulfilled -- and I believe it is 
-- then the United States is acting consistent with the Covenant in 
question.  But this is not an easy issue, and it is not an issue that 
will be resolved until democracy returns to Haiti.

          Q    Mr. Shattuck, to follow up, is it the view that those 
that are picked up at sea are being treated in accordance with this 
Covenant as well?

          ASSISTANT SECRETARY SHATTUCK:  Those who were picked up at sea 
and who were then -- yes, Haitians -- and who then have an opportunity 
to make asylum applications and come within the circumstances and the 
criteria that are set for granting asylum are certainly being treated in 
that fashion in accordance with the Covenant.

          Q    But is it not true that most of those who are picked up 
at sea aren't allowed to make a asylum application, are just returned?

          ASSISTANT SECRETARY SHATTUCK:  They can certainly make an 
application upon their return.

          Q    So those who are picked up at sea and then return and 
then go to a processing center are being treated in accordance with the 
Covenant but no one else?

          ASSISTANT SECRETARY SHATTUCK:  To the extent that they have 
claims of asylum which are given serious consideration, they are being 
treated consistent with the Covenant.  That's correct.

          Q    Are you satisfied that freedoms of expression and 
assembly and so forth have been properly exercised in Russia in the 
election campaign that culminates on Sunday?

          ASSISTANT SECRETARY SHATTUCK:  We have certainly followed very 
closely the issues of freedom of speech and freedom of assembly in 
Russia.  I attended a session very recently at the Commission on 
Security and Cooperation in Europe on free media in Warsaw.  The issue 
of freedom of the press in Russia was very much a consideration that was 
brought to that body, and the United States registered its concerns 
about issues of free press in Russia.

          I think in the context of these elections, there have been 
improvements since the attempted coup in early October where there were 
some suspensions of freedom of the press and where the U.S. clearly 
registered its concern about that suspension.

          Q    Have you seen also the latest report of Helsinki Watch?  
In the part here for Greece they said human rights abuses in Greece 
involved the freedom of speech, discrimination against minorities, 
physical abuse of detainees and prisoners and violations of religious 
freedom.

          Furthermore, they say also that the Macedonian minority was 
not recognized as a minority.  They continue, in its 1992 country 
report, the State Department listed a series of human rights abuses in 
Greece -- the same.  However, the Clinton Administration has made no 
public effort to pressure the Greek Government to change its practices.

          Furthermore, the Clinton Administration kind of gives support 
of this Greek (inaudible).  I think that this is the best answer why 
Greek -- is against international recognition of Republic of Macedonia; 
but I'm interested, what is your comment on this report and also how 
long could the United States will support this Greek (inaudible).

          ASSISTANT SECRETARY SHATTUCK:  Let me say first that I look 
forward to reading that report, and I want to also endorse the whole 
process of human rights reporting.  That is one of the basic elements of 
human rights in this period in the end of the 20th Century.  The number 
of human rights reports that are gathered by non-governmental 
organizations -- and Human Rights Watch is a very distinguished one of 
those organizations -- is essential to the advancement of human rights 
in this period.

          We, too, in the Department of State will be issuing our Human 
Rights Report, which will cover in considerable detail the issues that 
you're discussing in Greece.  We'll be issuing that report at the end of 
January.

          In the meanwhile, I can assure you that the United States and 
the Clinton Administration takes very seriously in all of its bilateral 
relations issues of human rights, and they are raised.  They are raised 
consistently by the Secretary of State, by Assistant Secretaries of 
State, and in bilateral discussions that the President may have.  
Sometimes those discussions are not publicized, but they are consistent 
and regular parts of the Clinton Administration's foreign policy 
discussions with other governments.

          Q    I wonder if you would address the overall conclusion 
reached by the Human Rights Watch about the Clinton Administration's 
performance, in which -- I'll read it briefly:  "President Clinton 
brought a heightened emphasis to human rights in U.S. policy, but the 
Administration has failed to provide consistent leadership, jettisoning 
human rights when the going gets rough."  Is this fair criticism?

          ASSISTANT SECRETARY SHATTUCK:  I obviously wouldn't agree with 
that position.  I think one has to look at the range of activities in 
which the Clinton Administration has been involved in the human rights 
field, and I would also emphasize the leadership that the President has 
shown in bringing together the field of human rights advocacy and the 
process of building new democracies in the post-Cold War era.

          I think if you look at the situation around the world in the 
post-Cold War era, it is one of considerable change and a lot of human 
rights -- new forms of human rights abuse are emerging.  Governments in 
many parts of the world are weaker or are changing.  Human rights abuses 
are virtually universal in all parts of the globe.

          We have been consistent, I would say, in the application of 
standards of human rights in all those areas.  We've been particularly 
strong, I think, in our advocacy with respect to Asia and China on a 
very high-profile set of issues around the Most-Favored-Nation status 
question in China.  

          We have been seeking throughout Eastern Europe to anticipate 
the kind of terrible human rights abuse that has occurred in the former 
Yugoslavia and to work through organizations like the Commission on 
Security and Cooperation in Europe to develop a preventive diplomacy 
method for anticipating these crises and dealing with them before they 
occur.  In the Baltic states, in particular, I think there's been a 
great deal of emphasis by the U.S. on dealing with the issue of near-
abroad Russians and their problems in the Baltic states and the 
possibility that that could become a more serious conflict.

          Again, I think you can cover the globe.  The commitments that 
we've made in Latin America to the new democracies and to preventing the 
undermining of democracies, the work to head off the coup that was 
attempted in Guatemala, to support the process of democratization in the 
elections that recently took place in Venezuela.  Again, I think around 
the world there are human rights challenges, and we've sought to meet 
them in a consistent and evenhanded way.

          Q    Mr. Shattuck, were you or your Bureau given an 
opportunity to weigh in on President Clinton's planned meeting with 
President Assad of Syria, and do you think that, in the American push 
for a Middle East peace accord, the whole issue of human rights 
practices in Syria could get short shrift?

          ASSISTANT SECRETARY SHATTUCK:  Let me say that I was last week 
in the Middle East -- I was in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and Cairo -- 
consistently raising issues of human rights in the region and indicating 
that the Administration holds great promise in the Declaration of 
Principles and the peace process  that is unfolding in the Middle East 
in terms of improvements of human rights.

          I think the connection and the peacemaking process vis-a-vis 
Israel and its near neighbors is an essential part of that set of 
improvements; b t I can also tell you that Secretary Christopher has 
repeatedly brought up the issue of human rights, even most recently in 
his discussions with President Assad in Syria.  So the consistent 
application of human rights standards to our bilateral discussions in 
the region is quite clear.

          Q    Did you or your Bureau weigh in on the question of the 
two Presidents meeting, and can you tell us what your advice was?

          ASSISTANT SECRETARY SHATTUCK:  I think I'm not going to get 
into the details of meetings that were set up while Secretary 
Christopher was on his trip.  He will have an opportunity to talk with 
you about that when he returns.

          Q    The State Department report for last year made plain -- 
you went through the statistics -- that Israel was a major violator of 
human rights, particularly in the area of habeas corpus for prisoners.  
Over 4,000 of them were still not even brought before the secret courts.

          Has Secretary Christopher made apparent that the U.S. 
Administration intends to use human rights as a bellwether for U.S. aid, 
and would you comment on that with regard not just to Israel but 
worldwide and whether the Fourth Geneva Convention is also a part of 
this.  You've only made reference to the Universal Declaration.

          ASSISTANT SECRETARY SHATTUCK:  Let me again be very clear that 
the Administration believes that the historic process of peacemaking 
that began a long time ago but was best symbolized by the handshake on 
the White House lawn four months ago holds great promise for human 
rights in the region, and indeed in other parts of the world, too, in 
that it holds promise for the resolution of a longstanding, deep-seated 
conflict that has led to human rights abuses.

          In my trip to Israel and Egypt last week, I had candid and 
clear discussions about human rights issues.  I think there have been 
some signs certainly of improvement in the human rights situation since 
the Declaration of Principles in the beginning of the release of 
prisoners from Israeli prisons, the beginning of some reunification of 
families -- and the process that I think got underway in September has 
led to some improvement.

          There have obviously also been some setbacks; but the overall 
principle of improvement, I think, is the one that we are serving.  We 
have made very clear for many years that we believe the Fourth Geneva 
Convention applies to Israel and the occupied territories, and we have 
so reported in our Human Rights Report and we'll continue to do so.

          But the over-arching need to secure peace in the region and 
thereby to improve the human rights situation is very important.

          I might just also add that I raised the same set of issues and 
concerns when I visited Egypt, particularly focusing on the issue of 
torture in Egypt.

          Q    In a general sense, how much do you think the collapse of 
the Soviet empire has contributed to enhance the human rights in that 
area?

          ASSISTANT SECRETARY SHATTUCK:  I think what we've seen in the 
last four or five years is a dramatic, now worldwide movement for human 
rights and democracy that certainly is most dramatically symbolized in 
the collapse of the former Soviet Union and the changes that have 
occurred in Eastern Europe.

          But there are other changes elsewhere in the world where this 
movement has had an impact, and it's the people who have made this 
movement possible whose work we're celebrating today.  I would say in 
South Africa, where some dramatic changes are occurring.  In Cambodia, 
where people risk their lives to go to the polls to vote in the first 
free election in many years in Cambodia.

          The changes, I think, have had a very positive impact on 
freedom.  Nonetheless, there remain some very serious human rights 
abuses; and I think the emergence of a very serious ethnic, racial and 
religious conflict and sometimes the use by governments of those 
conflicts to advance their own interests in violation of human rights is 
the set of challenges that we face today.

          Q    I'm sorry, but in Asian countries, in South African 
countries, actually the problems like freedom from poverty or freedom 
from dictatorship or freedom from social turmoil, something more 
(inaudible) for the people.  So after the Cold War collapse, do you -- 
how can I say? -- the scale to evaluate human rights situations should 
be changed in a certain amount to measure the real pain that human 
rights is suffering.  So do you think that only the traditional scale to 
evaluate human rights, such as freedom of press, freedom of religion, 
freedom of moving are the most prominent factor, should remain as the 
prominent factor to evaluate human rights situation worldwide, do you 
think?

          ASSISTANT SECRETARY SHATTUCK:  No person is born to be 
tortured.  No person is born to be thrown in jail for expression of 
their views.  These are fundamental rights that resonate throughout the 
world, and the movement for human rights, I think, reflects the 
expectation that these rights will be honored by governments around the 
world.

          By the same token, there are rights relating to economic, 
social and cultural issues in countries; and the Clinton Administration 
has been very clear in seeing that the Universal Declaration of Human 
Rights, which we celebrate today, has political, civil, economic, social 
and cultural rights.

          But the most fundamental of all rights are the rights not to 
be born to be tortured or to be born to be executed without any judicial 
process or to be made to disappear in the middle of the night.

          Q    Are you seeing any progress at all with China?  Have they 
been taking any steps, and how far away are they from being in a 
position where you could recommend that MFN could be extended?

          ASSISTANT SECRETARY SHATTUCK:  As you know, we have a very 
intensive and broad-ranging dialogue with China on a wide range of 
issues that President Clinton initiated back in September.  I have made 
a ten-day trip to China and made the first trip ever by a U.S. human 
rights official to Tibet.  I've also had over 20 hours of discussions 
with Chinese officials, and President Clinton has met, as you know, with 
President Jiang Zemin, and Secretary Christopher three times with the 
Foreign Minister of China, Qian Qichen.

          In all of those discussions the issue of the President's 
Executive Order on MFN has been discussed in detail and in depth; and I 
believe that we are beginning to see some indications of the kind of 
progress that is called for by that Executive Order, but by no means 
enough to warrant at this point an extension of MFN, were it to come up 
today.

          But the recent indication that the Chinese would give positive 
consideration to having the International Committee for the Red Cross 
visit their prisons, as they do prisons in 60 other countries, including 
the United States; the indication that the Chinese are willing to allow 
some families of dissidents to emigrate from China, which they've been 
unwilling to do before; and their willingness to further open prisons in 
China to visitation by the U.S. Customs Bureau in connection with the 
prison labor and the possible production of goods for export overseas in 
China by prison labor -- all of these are indications of possible 
progress.

          The dialogue continues, and I think it is very much in the 
stage of early consideration by the United States and China  of these 
issues; but we will continue the dialogue very intensively.

          Q    Have those prison visits actually taken place?

          ASSISTANT SECRETARY SHATTUCK:  The discussions between, as we 
understand it -- and, of course, we're not party to discussions between 
the International Committee for the Red Cross and China -- are to set 
the terms and conditions for such visits to take place.  But they have 
not yet taken place, no.

          Q    What about the --

          ASSISTANT SECRETARY SHATTUCK:  Can I just go to someone who 
hasn't --

          Q    I just want to switch gears and go back to Russia, if 
that's okay.  You mentioned that there have been improvements since 
October.  Is the U.S. satisfied with the level of those improvements?  
Do they measure up to what we expect?  And also, in advance of the 
actual balloting, what sense or confidence do you have at this point 
that the election campaign has been free and fair?

          ASSISTANT SECRETARY SHATTUCK:  Russia is in an extraordinary 
period of transformation into a democracy, and there are tumultuous 
circumstances that face any country that is truly trying to transform 
itself into a democracy.

          I think the early signs with respect to the constitution and 
the bill of rights that's being promulgated in the context of the 
constitution is a very positive sign.

          Certainly some of the issues regarding freedom of the press 
that I mentioned before are matters of concern; but the basic movement 
toward democracy and the leadership of President Yeltsin in that 
context, I think, is a very positive development for both democracy and 
human rights in Russia.  Of course, the United States has a very large 
stake in that because we are very deeply engaged in supporting 
democratization in Russia, including through some of the work that my 
Bureau does and other parts of the government's assistance in the area 
of justice, institutions, assistance to courts, to the building of a new 
court system, and ultimately to the establishment of a democratic rule 
of law in which human rights can be well respected.

          Q    Do you have any comment or evaluation about the human 
rights situation in Cuba?  What is your view and its development?

          ASSISTANT SECRETARY SHATTUCK:  The situation in Cuba remains 
one of considerable amount of political and civil rights denial, and 
that, of course, will be reflected in our report when it is issued at 
the end of next month.

          MS. SHELLY:  One more question.

          Q    On the Chinese prisons and the U.S. Customs -- where does 
that stand?  Has there been any concrete follow-up by the Chinese?

          ASSISTANT SECRETARY SHATTUCK:  The Chinese have essentially 
agreed to allow further inspections of more prisons when the United 
States either closes or asks for more information in some of the pending 
cases, and the Customs Bureau is preparing to either close or ask for 
more information in the pending cases.  But there is an agreement in 
principle on that subject.

          Q    Would you give one comment concerning North Korean 
situation, please?

          ASSISTANT SECRETARY SHATTUCK:  I don't have any particular 
comment on the North Korean situation, except that I will say that the 
human rights record of North Korea is probably one of the worst in the 
world.

          MS. SHELLY:  Thank you very much, Assistant Secretary 
Shattuck.

          I'd be pleased to take the rest of your questions.  No 
questions?

          Q    Do you have anything on a meeting today between the 
United States and North Korea?

          MS. SHELLY:  Yes.  I can confirm that State Department 
officials met today in New York with representatives of North Korea's 
U.N. Mission.  The meeting took place at the usual level.  This was our 
response to their proposal back to us of one week ago today, and I 
really don't have any additional details to offer on the meeting.

          Q    You don't know how long it was, or how our proposal was 
received?

          MS. SHELLY:  I don't have any details.

          Q    Well, did you hand over the U.S. position on the nuclear 
inspections?

          MS. SHELLY:  I'm sorry.  Did we hand over --

          Q    Yes.

          MS. SHELLY:  Yes, we responded in full to their proposal to us 
with a proposal of our own.

          Q    And so now the ball is in their court?

          MS. SHELLY:  Right.  Exactly.

          Q    The last meeting was initiated by North Korea.  That's 
why, we understand, that the meeting was held at the North Korean 
Mission at the United Nations.  This time who initiated the meeting, and 
why was the meeting taking place in the North Korean part?

          MS. SHELLY:  Today's meeting was at U.S. initiative.

          Q    I understand, however, the meeting was held in the North 
Korean Mission, you said.

          MS. SHELLY:  The meeting was held in New York.  I don't have 
the exact information on where it was held in New York, but it was 
clearly at the U.S. initiative.

          Q    Is the United States sending monitors for the Russian 
vote on Sunday?

          MS. SHELLY:  Are we sending monitors --

          Q    For the Russian elections on Sunday.

          MS. SHELLY:  On that I would just comment that, as you note, 
the elections are Sunday, December 12, and the election is voting on a 
new constitution as well as electing members to both chambers of a new 
National Parliament.

          The United States is not sending an official delegation of 
observers to Russia to monitor the elections.  We are monitoring the 
conduct of the elections through our embassies and consulates.  I 
understand, however, that many individual Americans will be present as 
observers under various sponsoring organizations, such as the 
International Republican Institute, the National Democratic Institute, 
the International Federation of Electoral Systems, and the Commission on 
Security and Cooperation in Europe.

          Q    Could I follow up on this?  So you're following this 
mainly through your embassy personnel.  Will they be traveling outside 
Moscow a little bit to observe how the voting is proceeding in the 
hinterland of Russia?

          MS. SHELLY:  I don't have exact information on that for you.  
I don't know what the details are.

          Q    Do you have any sense of how widespread these unofficial 
observers are going to be?

          MS. SHELLY:  I'm aware of the fact that there are some rather 
heavy-weight delegations from the organizations that I mentioned, so 
there are quite a few people there who are there for the purpose of 
observing the elections.

          As to exactly what their movements are, where they're going, 
how extensively they will be covering it, I just don't have any more 
information.

          Q    Do you have something today about the visit of the Greek 
Deputy Foreign Minister?

          MS. SHELLY:  Yes, I have some information on that today.

          I can confirm that the Deputy Foreign Minister, Mr. 
Papandreou, did meet this morning with Acting Secretary Tarnoff. They 
discussed a wide range of bilateral and multilateral issues, including 
the continuing conflict in the Balkans and Cyprus.

          Acting Secretary Tarnoff said that we look forward to working 
closely with Greece when it assumes the E.C. Presidency next month.  
They also briefly discussed a prospective meeting between President 
Clinton and Prime Minister Papandreou next year.

          Q    Can I ask you on the Middle East?

          MS. SHELLY:   You can ask.  I think you know what my problem 
is.

          Q    Tell me, how far do you feel that the trip of Secretary 
Warren Christopher was a success?  And do you expect that he can stay in 
the area until the 13th, or does he have to come back on the 11th?

          MS. SHELLY:  Well, I certainly think that, from here today, I 
would certainly characterize it as a success.  As you know, on any 
questions that touch on any of the issues that were raised or may have 
been raised in Secretary Christopher's various stops, I'm simply not in 
a position to get into details on that.

          As to his exact travel schedule, as far as I know he still 
intends to return from the region tomorrow.

          Q    Excuse me.  I have an additional question on the [meeting 
with the Greek Deputy Foreign Minister].  Was there some discussion 
about Macedonian-Greek relations? 

          MS. SHELLY:  Yes.  I understand that the former Yugoslav 
Republic of Macedonia was discussed.  The United States reiterated that 
we had not changed our position on recognition and encouraged dialogue 
between the two countries to arrive at a solution on this issue.

          Q    Do you have anything else about the situation in Algeria?

          MS. SHELLY:  Yes, I've got a bit on that for you.

          As I think you are aware, we announced yesterday that we were 
reducing our Embassy staff.  The Embassy has also reenforced its 
security precautions on the ground.

          I would also note that last year our Embassy ordered the 
departure of all minor dependents.

          As to the non-official Americans in Algeria, we are telling 
them that unless there are compelling reasons to stay, American 
residents in Algeria should depart.  We are keeping in very close 
contact with the community of approximately 440 non-official Americans 
living in Algeria and have encouraged them to review and enhance their 
own security precautions as well.

          There is an obvious increase in the danger to foreign 
residents.  Since December 1, when the ultimatum issued by an Islamic 
militant group expired, four foreigners have been killed.  The 
assailants have killed a Spanish businessman, a Russian woman married to 
an Algerian, a French resident, and most recently a British employee of 
an American firm.

          We deplore these incidents.  We issued yesterday a warning to 
Americans specifically to avoid travel to Algeria.

          Q    So this is a follow up on the...  Yesterday it was a 
warning not to travel there; today you're urging people who are there to 
leave.

          MS. SHELLY:  Well, just to go back a little bit, on October 28 
we also issued a warning on Algeria at that time.  We basically at that 
time warned U.S. citizens to avoid non-essential travel.  We indicated 
that a state of emergency had been in effect since early 1992 and talked 
about the late-night curfews, kidnappings, murders, threats against 
foreigners, in that context. 

          What we did yesterday in a new warning is we warned U.S. 
citizens to avoid travel, suggested that American citizens already in 
Algeria depart the country unless they had compelling reasons to stay.  
We indicated in that warning that the U.S. Embassy in Algiers had begun 
to reduce the number of U.S. Government personnel in Algeria.  We also 
discussed the recent murders of foreigners, the ultimatum by the 
terrorists to foreigners that they leave or be killed, and we also 
called upon the U.S. citizens in Algeria to contact the U.S. Embassy in 
Algiers where detailed security information would be available.

          Q    Was there any specific threat that you are aware of 
against Americans per se, or was it the threat against foreigners as a 
group that compelled this?

          MS. SHELLY:  My understanding is it's the latter.

          Q    How many people are left in the Embassy?

          MS. SHELLY:  I'm not able to give you precise numbers on that.  
It's considered that for security reasons we shouldn't get into the 
precise number of people.

          Q    Have there been any reports of any incidents involving 
Americans, even if they haven't been injured?  Any type of harassment or 
anything like that?

          MS. SHELLY:  I don't have any information suggesting that 
Americans in particular have been targeted on this or that there have 
been major incidents involving Americans.

          Q    Has there been any invitations being sent or that are 
going to be sent later on to the Arab and Israeli parties to join the 
talks in Washington?

          MS. SHELLY:  To join the talks in Washington?

          Q    Yes.

          MS. SHELLY:  The only thing I can say on that is simply to 
point to what Secretary Christopher said in his press conference in 
Damascus on this.  He indicated at that time that the parties had agreed 
to resume formal negotiations in Washington.  He said he had invited 
Lebanon and Syria to send heads of their delegations to Washington in 
early January for preparatory consultations with the U.S. on some of the 
key substantive issues.

          Following these consultations, he also announced that all 
delegation heads would come to Washington on or about the 18th of 
January to meet with their counterparts for what we hope will be 
simplified and streamlined talks.  It is expected that the heads of 
delegation, in consultation with the co-sponsors, will recommend that 
the formal negotiations resume at the end of the month -- that's January 
or early in February.

          Q    If I could move to Bosnia...  The situation there seems 
to have deteriorated some: the increase in number of attacks in 
Sarajevo, the peace talks have been postponed.  What's the U.S. 
assessment right now of what's going on there?

          MS. SHELLY:  The United Nations has announced that the parties 
will resume peace talks in Geneva on December 21.  I know there were 
reports of some other talks that were scheduled for Sunday that have now 
been reported as having been cancelled; but I'm not aware of the details 
related to those talks, so I can't really give you any further details 
on that.

          As to the fighting situation in Bosnia, I would note that some 
of the press reports have indicated that Sarajevo was shelled north of 
the city center and in the residential areas.   I understand that quite 
a few people were wounded.  Other reports have also said that Maglaj and 
Olovo were also shelled by Bosnian Serb artillery.

          I understand that shelling was also exchanged in Mostar.  
Fighting was also reported in the Gornji Vakuf area and around the front 
lines east of Tuzla.

          According to the U.N., the Bihac pocket was quiet, but I 
understand that there was a TV crew that was there that also reported on 
heavy fighting in the region.

          Q    Is it affecting convoys delivering humanitarian aid over 
there?

          MS. SHELLY:  I have some very detailed information about 
specific convoys.  I'm not sure that it really -- what I can do is maybe 
post the information we have on convoys because it's quite long and 
detailed.

          Basically, as best I can determine, there have been some 
problems with getting some of these clearances through.  Also, the UNHCR 
has protested some of the actions that have led to the refusal to clear 
getting some of these materials through and particularly winterization 
materials, for example.

          But I think rather than go into it kind of convoy-by-convoy, 
it would be better for me to post the information that I have on that, 
and then you can take a look at it.

          Q    It sounds like the fighting hasn't inhibited any 
deliveries right now.

          MS. SHELLY:  I think that there have been some hold-ups on 
some of the clearances.  You know, there was the meeting on this 
earlier, and there had been some agreement.  Hopefully, a lot of this 
stopping, checking clearances, paperwork procedures -- that was going to 
be reduced.  Yet the picture earlier in the week and the end of last 
week was certainly one of a very improved picture for convoys.

          I think it was last Thursday the UNHCR reported that they had 
had the best day that they'd had so far on being able to get convoys 
through.  So I think in terms of the recent time frame, the picture has 
been quite positive; but I think since some of the reports of fighting 
and shelling have picked up, and there have been some reports of some of 
the problems with the clearances, I think perhaps in the last 24 hours, 
something like that, it has not gone quite as smoothly it had been at 
the end of last week and the first part of this week.

          Q    Are the flights affected -- the humanitarian flights into 
the Sarajevo airport?

          MS. SHELLY:  Not that I'm aware of.  I haven't seen anything 
indicating that they'd been.

          Q    Have the shelling and attacks on Sarajevo reached the 
point of strangulation that would prompt further NATO action?

          MS. SHELLY:  I don't have any information on that.  I mean, 
obviously there has been a little bit of a pickup in the last day or so, 
but this is a very up-and-down-again kind of thing.  The situation on 
the violence and the shelling had been improved.  It seems that in the 
last 24 hours there has been a bit of a deterioration again, but I'm not 
aware that anyone is leaping in to look into the strangulation question 
in connection with this latest round.

          Q    Did you encourage both the PLO and Israelis to implement 
the agreement on December 13, as it has been prepared to be --

          MS. SHELLY:  As that relates specifically to what Secretary 
Christopher is doing out in the region, I can't comment on that.

          Q    Yesterday, the Ukrainian Ambassador said that their 
President -- that Kravchuk was going to resubmit the START I Treaty to 
the Rada when it reconvenes.  Is that good enough for us?  Is this going 
to address our concerns with the problem that we have with their 
controlling these nuclear weapons?

          MS. SHELLY:  We certainly have been encouraged by the 
assurances that we've been given by President Kravchuk on this.  I think 
his intention to resubmit this to the Rada after the elections in March 
is very clear, and there's absolutely no slippage in that whatsoever.

          So as far as we understand, it's still very much his intention 
to stay the course on that.  In the meantime, he's proceeding with 
dismantlement along the lines that he discussed in a statement earlier 
this week.

          Q    So are we just not going to pay much attention to the 
Treaty as it was passed by the Rada about a month ago with all of the 
caveats in it?

          MS. SHELLY:  I don't think it's really that.  This is a 
subject that remains under intense discussion between us and Ukraine.  
Obviously, the action on START and the Lisbon Protocol also remains 
under steady discussion between Ukraine and Russia.

          I think the important thing is -- and I think you are aware we 
did post a statement on this yesterday -- President Kravchuk made a 
public statement last week that said Ukraine would expand the 
deactivation of their strategic nuclear forces to include the SS-24 
missiles, which I understand are their most sophisticated ones.

          These are missiles which would have been deactivated under a 
full implementation of the START Treaty.  I think it indicates that in 
terms of their actions they are prepared to move ahead with START and 
with the Lisbon Protocol.  We are also very interested in helping them 
with the destruction and the dismantling.  The reason we posted the 
statement was particularly to reference an agreement which we had signed 
with Ukraine earlier in the week -- actually, this was, I think, last 
Sunday -- which was signing the implementing agreement which would allow 
us to actually provide the assistance to Ukraine under the Nunn-Lugar 
program which, once Ukraine brings the umbrella agreement -- which was 
signed between the U.S. and Ukraine when the Secretary was out there a 
few weeks ago on the safe and secure dismantlement, once that comes into 
force; and my understanding is that this is expected to come into force 
relatively shortly.

          Q    Does that mean that the Nunn-Lugar funds are now going to 
begin to flow, perhaps within a week or two?

          MS. SHELLY:  I think as soon as the agreement goes into force, 
as I've mentioned, that at any time after that the funds can start to 
flow.  That's my understanding.

          Q    Okay.  If I could stay on Ukraine but move to the 
economy.  The Ambassador also spoke about the very bad state of fuel and 
food supplies in Ukraine, partly because of a huge increase in prices 
that they have to pay for it from Russia.

          Are there discussions going on now to increase or to provide 
some humanitarian assistance from the United States to Ukraine?  What's 
the outlook there?

          MS. SHELLY:  We do have some other types of economic 
assistance which are underway with Ukraine.  To review a little bit on 
the economic situation, Ukraine is in the midst of a very severe 
economic crisis.  Inflation is running at something like more than 60 
percent per month.  We understand that production continues to fall as 
the industries are finding it increasingly difficult to actually source 
their inputs and to pay for the fuel.

          The government's fixed exchange rate policies have also scared 
off outside investors and have damaged trade.  They also are facing very 
serious fuel shortages this winter.  For the past year, I understand 
that Ukraine has been unable to pay much of its energy debt to Russia 
who, of course, is its principal supplier of oil and natural gas.

          In recent weeks, Russia has responded by slowing down 
deliveries and at times has even cut off some of the supplies.  We 
understand that power stations in Kiev, for example, at times have had 
to cut out power by as much as 30 percent.  I think one of the most 
important things here is to -- and what  we are doing is, we're working 
with the Government of Ukraine to work with the International Monetary 
Fund and the other international financial institutions to try to adopt 
a kind of reform program that is going to address the underlying causes 
of their economic crisis.  By undertaking the reforms, that is going to 
be the best prospect for them to try to get back on their feet and 
attract the necessary investment and then try to be able to get the 
economy going again.

          Q    The Ambassador suggested something like -- he said if an 
American tanker were to dock at Odessa and bring some fuel for the 
coming months, that would be a terrific gesture of support in 
recognition of Ukraine's importance in the world.  Is anything like that 
under consideration?

          MS. SHELLY:  I haven't had a chance to take a look at the 
Ambassador's remarks, so that's the first that I'm hearing of that 
particular thing.  I think that there couldn't be very much doubt about 
the importance that we put on Ukraine in our relations with it.  We have 
a tremendous amount of high-level attention.  We have the visits out 
there.  We have the discussions with them.  We're working the full range 
of bilateral issues, whether they're the issues related to the 
dismantlement and deactivation of the weapons, their economic problems, 
we have political consultations with them on a range of subjects.  So I 
really don't think there can be any doubt in Ukraine's mind about the 
importance which the United States attaches to it.

          Q    Thank you.

          MS. SHELLY:  Thank you.

          (The briefing concluded at 1:53 p.m.)

(###)

To the top of this page