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Michael McCurry


Security Council Discussions re: Moratorium on
  Export of Antipersonnel Mines 

--  Current/Future US Aid 

Asst. Secretary Shattuck's Concern re: Adequacy  
  of Refugee Processing Centers in Country .................5-6
--  Amnesty International Letter .....................................5-
Resignation of Prime Minister 
Prospects for Conference on Reconciliation ...............6
Four Friends Communique/Sanctions Enforcement ...6-7,9-10
--  Proposed Meeting with Military .................................6-7
Sanctions/Impact on Citizens 
Efforts at National Reconciliation ...................................8-

Impact of New EPA Standards on Oil Imports .............11

Hamilton Mission to Bekaa Valley ....................................11

Declaration of Principles/Implementation ..................12-14
Bilateral Talks/Timing 

Secretary's Contacts with Admiral Inman ...................14-15


                       DEPARTMENT OF STATE
                       DAILY PRESS BRIEFING

                                                      DPC #166

             THURSDAY, DECEMBER 16, 1993, 12:45 P. M.

          MR. McCURRY:  Good afternoon, everybody.  I am delighted to be 
here right on time at l2:45.  (Laughter)

          Q    Sixteen minutes late.

          MR. McCURRY:  Right on time, l2:45, fifteen minutes early; for 
Mr. Dancy, fifteen minutes late.

          Q    Congratulations on beginning the briefing only twelve 
minutes late today.

          MR. McCURRY:  No, fifteen minutes.  Right at l2:45.  We're 
splitting the difference:  l2:45.

          I've got one thing I would like to draw your attention to.  
Some of you might remember that when we were in Moscow, I had Under 
Secretary Davis do a little briefing for you on some of the efforts we 
are making on demining.  We did it that day because there actually had 
been some success in working with the Russians on some cooperative 
efforts that would help use some of their technology, which is 
innovative and, frankly, in some cases better than some of the things we 
have for demining.

          They talked about that cooperation; but I do, in continuing 
that story, want to call your attention to the fact that today the U.N. 
General Assembly is expected to approve a resolution by consensus that 
will call on U.N. member states to agree to a moratorium on the export 
of antipersonnel land mines.  That resolution was cosponsored by the 
United States and 65 other countries.

          We welcome this important first step toward more permanent 
international controls on these very brutal and crippling weapons.

          We have discussed it.  I think some of you are familiar with 
our report that we put out last summer called "Hidden Killers" that 
notes that between 85 and ll0 million  unexploded landmines are still 
buried in 62 countries, causing l50 civilian casualties each week.  Half 
of these casualties occur in two countries, Afghanistan and Cambodia.  
Largely because of that, according to one U.N. estimate, one of every 
236 Cambodians is an amputee.

          The U.S. has a landmine moratorium that has been in effect 
since October l992.  It was recently extended until l996, and we will be 
urging our allies to observe similar moratoria in accordance with this 
new U.N. resolution.  Again, as I say, we will be seeking to pursue more 
permanent controls as well.

          We have also made available $l2.5 million for education and 
landmine removal training programs to lessen the threat landmines pose 
to people around the world.

          I think it is a very important initiative by the United 
States, and I want to call that to your attention.

          I also will say, if any of you are interested in that, the 
principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State in the Political-Military 
Affairs Bureau, Ted McNamara, is going to have a group over late this 
afternoon, at 4:45, just to kind of go through that and provide some 
additional background.  If anyone is interested, they can call the PM 
Bureau at 647-l027.

          Q    That will be on the record?

          MR. McCURRY:  Yes.  And with that, any questions?

          Q    Now that you have a clearer idea of the outcome in the 
Russian elections over the weekend, do you have more to say about your 

          MR. McCURRY:  I don't.  I think that many of you have seen the 
reports today that kind of bring more of these election results into 
focus.  I think, as I have been suggesting the last several days, and as 
others have suggested, that we are getting a better picture of what the 
composition of the Duma will now look like.

          We still don't know that much about the upper house, the 
Federal Council.  Those results have been slower in coming in.

          I would say that we will be making efforts with our European 
allies to attempt to understand better what type of political 
composition there will be in this new legislature, what type of 
coalitions might be formed between the relative party blocs within the 
Duma; and we will certainly be looking hard to understand better the new 
political dynamic that exists as a result of the newly elected 

          I don't think at this point anybody, including the Russians 
themselves, has a good sense of what's going to happen.  I would say and 
make one general observation that the election results in Russia do seem 
to have had the effect of being a wake-up call to the reformers; and you 
are seeing now reports from Russia indicating that the reformers 
themselves are beginning to work more cohesively and certainly that 
would be -- given our own strong interest in promoting and encouraging 
reform in Russia, that would be an interesting and timely development.  

          Q    Like you say, it's a wake-up call.  Is it a wake-up call 
that maybe they are moving too fast and relying too much on the United 
States?  Or is it a wake-up call that they should move more quickly and 
rely more on the United States?

          MR. McCURRY:  No.  I think it's a reminder to them that they 
need to work better amongst themselves in promoting the agenda of reform 
that they all clearly deeply believe in.  I think those who have made 
comments -- you have seen some resignations in the last two days by 
senior officials close to President Yeltsin, who are making exactly that 
point, that they need to do a better job of promulgating and 
articulating their program.  I think that's the sense, that they are 
going to draw together, work more cohesively in advancing their common 

          Q    Is it a wake-up call to the United States and its Western 
allies in any way?

          MR. McCURRY:  Well, I think we have been assessing the results 
all along.  As we have been in a lot of the bilateral contacts we have 
been having the last several days -- the two that you know the Secretary 
has done, but additional conversations we've had as well -- we are 
discussing with our allies what the impact of the election will be and 
what our understanding is.

          I think some things seem to be pretty fundamental.  You have 
all seen Foreign Minister Kozyrev's statements at this point that they 
will remain -- you know, the fundamental direction of Russian foreign 
policy will remain unchanged and that President Yeltsin is the guarantor 
of that.  Those are important statements, of course; but I think as we 
try to understand more of what the political dynamic will be in Russia 
as it relates to economic reform and political reform, we certainly will 
be working closely with our allies.  Jim.

          Q    Have you seen the reports or do you have any indications 
from the Americans, non-official Americans, who are monitoring the 
elections?  Do you have any reports of any irregularities in the actual 
voting practices?

          MR. McCURRY:  We have not.  We are not aware of any credible 
reports of irregularities in the voting itself, and we have not heard of 
any reports of irregularities in vote counting.

          I will say it is clear that the vote counting is proceeding 
slowly by Western standards, but the Russians don't have the advantage 
of having computerized tabulation equipment and some of the things that 
we use that produce almost instantaneous results on an election night.

          And, again, the results that did come in early were 
principally based on exit polling information that, you know -- it is 
not clear what the reliability of that information has been.

          The official observer of the election -- there are many 
international observers who were invited by the Russians to be there and 
to witness the election, including a number of American groups that have 
been there for some time working in Russia, but the official observer 
was the CSCE.  I understand that they are actually assessing the conduct 
of the election and will have some type of formal report next week.  

          Q    At the White House yesterday a senior administration 
official said that the President, in a letter Gore handed to Yeltsin, 
the United States promised to reinvigorate its support for Russia and 
the reform movement.

          Can you tell us specifically what that means?

          MR. McCURRY:  Well, I think the President, in fact, said that 
publicly yesterday.  As well, he said that we would certainly be 
redoubling our efforts.  I don't know if that takes on any tangible 
quantitative formula at this point, but Imy understanding is that we are 
working, as I said yesterday, more aggressively to figure out the ways 
that you can move this money into that pipeline, both the bilateral 
assistance we are providing and then the work we do through some of the 
multilateral lending institutions.

          Q    Did you discuss yesterday --  

          MR. McCURRY:  Oh, and one -- I would also say obviously this 
has been a discussion that Vice President Gore has had while he has been 
in Moscow, too.  So we certainly will hear back from the Vice 
President's delegation upon his return about some ideas that they may 
have explored there.  That will be an important contribution to our 
understanding what we can do best to nurture the process of reform.

          Q    Did you explore yesterday how much of the $2.9 billion 
has gone?

          MR. McCURRY:  We did.  I think we posted a TQ, if I am not 
mistaken, last night that actually traced through the FY '93 money and 
how we are looking now at the FY '94 package.  I don't have that in 
front of me right now, but I would direct you to that.  It wasn't that 
detailed but at least gave some idea of how the money was moving in the 

          Q    Another subject?

          MR. McCURRY:  Another subject.

          Q    Was John Shattuck taken to the woodshed by Peter Tarnoff 
as a result of his comments on Haiti?

          MR. McCURRY:  He was not, and I was a little distressed to see 
that reported today.  I was, frankly, in the meetings, in both meetings 
that he had with Under Secretary Tarnoff.  Assistant Secretary Shattuck 
made his own views very clear, and I think there was an understanding by 
the Under Secretary of what had happened there.  We had some comments 
that -- we have seen the excerpts of the comments he made in Port-au-
Prince, and it was pretty clear that Assistant Secretary Shattuck was 
describing exactly what I referred to yesterday:  the policy that 
relates to refugees and our work at these in-country processing centers 
within Haiti, to make sure that we have got facilities available to 
handle any valid claim to refugee status.

          So I can't frankly tell you where that came from.  I was in 
both of those meetings myself, and nothing of that nature occurred.

          Q    So does Shattuck still retain the full confidence of the 
Secretary and the Under Secretary?

          MR. McCURRY:  He absolutely does.  He is doing a superb job.

          Q    So, Mike, you would say that the report -- I believe it 
was in The Times today -- and a letter from Amnesty International to 
Warren Christopher, criticizing him for criticizing Shattuck, are not 
based in reality?

          MR. McCURRY:  Yes.  I wish Amnesty International had tried to 
determine the facts before being critical of something that did not 
occur.  It would have been nice.  They could have called anyone who was 
participating in that meeting and gotten a straight story, I think.

          Q    Also on Haiti, you put out a statement --

          MR. McCURRY:  By the way, I think that we have since made 
available to Amnesty the text of our briefing here yesterday which -- 
the authoritative account of what happened  didn't make it into the news 
article unfortunately; but that is what happened and is the way I 
described it to you yesterday.  We have made that available, as well as 
the transcript of what the Assistant Secretary said down in Port-au-
Prince, too.  We have made that available to Amnesty, so they understand 
what happened.  They don't have to rely on an account that was not 

          Q    You put out a statement yesterday expressing regret at 
Mr. Malval's resignation.  It was our understanding when he was here 
though that he would remain on as acting.  Is that no longer the case?

          MR. McCURRY:  Well, it was our understanding, if I am not 
mistaken, because some of that did occur while we were -- while I was 
out of the country, that he was staying on in a role as Acting Prime 
Minister to facilitate this conference that he was attempting to 
organize.  As he indicated yesterday, it doesn't appear that there is 
much likelihood that will happen.

          As our statement indicated, we certainly hope he will continue 
to work to put that together, and it may be possible to revive that 
concept; but his resignation was effective, as you know, on the 15th.  
His agreement to continue in an acting capacity was based on his 
willingness to work on this conference.

          Q    Well, when he was here, he didn't link his capacity as 
Acting Prime Minister with the conference.  He said that he 
constitutionally would remain until someone else was appointed or 
elected by parliament.

          MR. McCURRY:  Then my understanding of that -- if that's the 
case, my understanding is wrong, then, because I understood that he had 
agreed to continue in that capacity while they were working on this 
conference.  I'll check into it and try to clarify that.  My 
understanding is that the resignation was effective yesterday.  He, as 
you know, left the airport pretty abruptly yesterday with no indication 
of what his plans were.

          Q    Since the conference is not going to take place, do you 
have any new ideas?

          MR. McCURRY:  Well, the new ideas are the ones -- I don't know 
how many of you have seen the communique that the Four Friends issued 
after the meeting in Paris -- we've got copies available in the Press 
Office -- but they outline pretty clearly what the next steps are going 
to be at this point.  There is a military delegation, as I indicated 
yesterday, that will go and meet with the Haitian military authorities 
and make it very clear to them that the sanctions are going to remain in 
place and be enforced unless the provisions that are  articulated in the 
communique -- which are very close to the Governor's Island process 
provisions -- are fully implemented and that the only way that those 
sanctions are going to be lifted is if those parties live up to their 
obligations.  I think that is made pretty clear in the communique that 
the Four Friends issued.

          They also suggest that if there is not a willingness on the 
part of the Haitian military authorities to carry out those provisions, 
there is a likelihood that there will be a request for additional and 
tougher sanctions.

          Q    So it's fair to say that U.S. policy now is totally 
focused and hinges only on the sanctions.

          MR. McCURRY:  I'd say it's fair to say that at the moment the 
point of pressure that we have to bear is the sanctions regime as 
adopted by the United Nations -- that's correct -- absent a 
reinvigorated diplomatic track which, of course, we would welcome and 
would encourage and we are encouraging in our contacts with the parties.  
But the best prospect for that type of dialogue appeared to be the idea 
that had been advanced by Prime Minister Malval.

          Q    What is your assessment of the potential physical damage 
the sanctions are doing to the poor end of the population, which I know 
you've always had a concern about, but now apparently it's become acute 
in some of the not-so-well-off neighborhoods.

          MR. McCURRY:  As we indicated in this statement last night, we 
continue to do everything we can to render humanitarian assistance to 
lessen the impact of sanctions on the most vulnerable citizens in Haiti.  
There was an effort in constructing the sanctions regime itself to try 
to ameliorate the effects of sanctions on the poor citizens of Haiti by 
allowing things like cooking oil, heating oil to be exempted from the 
oil provisions of the embargo.

          We do have fairly extensive work that we do through non-
government organizations to provide humanitarian efforts, and we 
obviously are very keen on making sure that that type of assistance 
continues.  But it's important to say -- and to say it again and again 
-- the effect of those sanctions on the citizens of Haiti are the 
responsibility of the parties that refuse to live up to their 

          Q    Well, some of these humanitarian supplies can't reach the 
people because there's no fuel for the trucks.  Do you have any ideas 
about how to resolve that one?

          MR. McCURRY:  I have seen from time to time that some of the 
groups have looked into ways in which they can use some of the dwindling 
oil supplies that are available to ensure the delivery of humanitarian 
relief.  I don't have with me right  now an immediate update on what 
they're trying to do to get that through.  But they recognize that as a 
problem.  I know they are attempting to address it.

          Q    Do you have anything to say about President Aristide's 
supposed role in sabotaging the conference idea?

          MR. McCURRY:  No, I don't.  Those are questions you'll have to 
address to President Aristide.

          Q    Mike, it's been just about a year, I think, almost 
exactly a year since President-elect Clinton reversed himself on the 
Haitian refugee policy and made the announcement about the in-processing 
centers, and so on.

          Did Secretary Christopher ever imagine that it would be a full 
year -- a full year would go by and there would have been no progress 
towards democratization in Haiti, and, in fact, actually a deterioration 
of the prospects for democracy in Haiti and a deterioration of the 
physical and economic status of the people of Haiti?

          MR. McCURRY:  Looking back a year ago, I think that you 
remember that this Administration came to office with a very dire 
situation, the prospect of an immediate out-migration of boat people 
from Haiti, and worked diligently to address that -- the Governor's 
Island process, the Governor's Island accord were all very hopeful 
developments.  They certainly stemmed any significant out-migration of 
folks from Haiti in the intervening time, and they worked to at least 
create some type of diplomatic process that might lead to a national 

          That process has not reached the conclusion that was 
designated in Governor's Island.  They have not moved ahead with the 
commitments and the provisions, and that is obviously disappointing to 
us.  Looking back a year ago, given the enormous complexity of the 
problem and the situation that existed at the time that this 
Administration took office, I don't think there was a great deal of hope 
that anything could have been done at that point.  That's why getting 
the diplomatic effort invigorated and getting the Governor's Island 
accord were at least some signs of hope, and hopefully maybe that type 
of effort, that type of willingness on the parties to address the 
issues, might be reinvigorated.

          Q    I'm not sure I understand why we continue to stay with 
sanctions that are hurting people instead of taking another possible 
route, and that is dealing directly with Cedras as the de facto head of 
the government and the person who is sort of in charge.  Can you tell me 
what the reasons for that --

          MR. McCURRY:  Yes.  It's very obviously that our goal has been 
a restoration of democracy in Haiti.  That was the goal of the 
Governor's Island process.  I think to indicate that anything other than 
the return of the democratically-elected president as a premise of U.S. 
policy would be to negate one of the fundamentals of the policy towards 
Haiti, which is that they need to see a restoration to democracy.  
That's what the purpose of the pressure of the sanctions is about.

          Q    Why not deal with him since the Governor's Island accords 
now for all intents and purposes are dormant if not dead.  Why not deal 
with him as, let us say, we are dealing with Aideed in Somalia?

          MR. McCURRY:  I hate to say it's an analogous situation, but 
that is in fact what we have done by incorporating Cedras and the other 
Haitian military authorities into the discussions that have been 
underway, post Governor's Island.

          That's why the military delegation from the Four Friends will 
meet with Cedras, and that's one of the reasons why that dialogue has 
been continued.  I mean, we do deal with him.  In no way do we accept 
the premise that he represents the legitimate governing authority.

          Q    Okay.  But can you accept the premise that Cedras and 
company would have a role to play in the setting up of any future 
government, any future elections, in that he has as legitimate a role to 
play as other people we've been dealing with in other parts of the world 
under similar circumstances?

          MR. McCURRY:  The obligations of the general and the Haitian 
military authorities as they're spelled out in even this most recent 
communique of the Four Friends are very clear, and they don't lead to 
that type of involvement.

          Q    Mike, your comment about the Four Friends meeting with 
him as a reflection of bringing Cedras somehow into the process makes me 
ask, is this meeting with the military delegation a one-shot, message-
sending opportunity from the Four Friends?  Or are you suggesting that 
what is being done now is the establishment of a military-to-military 
negotiating operation in which this delegation will meet with him once, 
perhaps conduct a whole series of meetings, and work out some process 
for the future of Haiti?

          MR. McCURRY:  No.  It's very, very clear that the delegation 
is delivering a message.  If that message then leads to a willingness on 
the parties to enter into discussions, that would be encouraging.  But 
the initial purpose is simply to deliver the message.

          Q    But you're not setting up the beginning of a military-to-
military negotiating situation?

          MR. McCURRY:  No.  That's not my understanding of what was 
agreed to in Paris.

          Q    (Inaudible) to that meeting?

          MR. McCURRY:  I don't believe so.  Actually, I frankly don't 
know.  We expect to have the meeting early next week.  Each country will 
send diplomats and military officers.  In addition to the military 
officers, there will be some folks represented.  I don't know whether, 
for example, Special Envoy Caputo will be included or not.

          Q    What does it say, though, about your U.S. guy, basically 
Aristide, if he in fact was an obstacle to this sort of last-ditch 
diplomatic effort?

          MR. McCURRY:  I didn't comment on that yesterday, and I'm not 
willing to comment on that today.  I think his posture toward Prime 
Minister Malval's initiative is something that he really needs to 
address himself.

          Q    Does the United States still support Aristide and believe 
that he is a credible leader for Haiti?

          MR. McCURRY:  We still support a process that leads to the 
return of the democratically-elected president of Haiti, yes.

          Q    You don't necessarily support President Aristide?

          MR. McCURRY:  The Governor's Island process calls for the 
return of the democratically-elected -- I'm quoting from the communique 
-- the communique calls for the return of the democratically-elected 
President of Haiti.

          Q    That sounds like a less than enthusiastic endorsement.

          MR. McCURRY:  Does it?  We have been supportive.

          Q    That reminds me, I may be wrong about this, but didn't he 
announce yesterday the appointment of a new defense minister?  He fired 
Cedras, I think, and --

          MR. McCURRY:  I saw a news account of that, and I don't 
believe that we have been able to confirm that, to my knowledge.  It was 
suggested in a news account that he was carrying a letter that was 
intended for delivery to Cedras, but I don't have any details on that.

          Q    So presumably it would be hypothetical to ask the U.S. 
whether the U.S. would support the establishment of a broader government 
based in Washington -- a government-in-exile based in Washington, 
including cabinet ministers and so on.

          MR. McCURRY:  I think that's a hypothetical question, yes.

          Other subjects.

          Q    Yesterday, the EPA announced new rules on reformulated 
gasoline which are going to effectively exclude 50,000 barrels a day 
from Venezuela, and a first-class row is developing over that.  Do you 
have any comments?

          MR. McCURRY:  I'll look into that.  I was aware that they had 
issued those new standards and knew a little bit about their effect here 
in the United States, but not how they might impact on our trading 
relations with other oil exporting nations.  But I'll see if I can get 
anything on that for you.

          Q    Don't you think it's a little bit ironical that on the 
very date on which GATT is finalized for freer trade, that this kind of 
restriction is being imposed?

          MR. McCURRY:  The international trade agreements that have 
been developed take into account the work that individual nations are 
doing to curb pollution, and in this case emissions of things that 
contribute to acid rain and contribute to poisons in the air, in 
violation of the Clean Air Act in the United States; and I think that 
those international trade agreements do account for domestic programs 
that are aimed at pollution control.

          Q    That may be true but a double standard is being applied 
to Venezuela, Mike.  They're two different base lines being used.

          MR. McCURRY:  I said I'd look into it.  I will.

          Q    How is planning going along for Lee Hamilton's staff's 
mission into the Bekaa Valley?

          MR. McCURRY:  There's a fair amount of planning.  I've seen 
information back and forth on the delegation and arrangements that are 
being made.  I don't have anything with me right now.  But I do think 
that they're pulling together an itinerary and that planning is moving 
ahead for admission, I believe early next year.

          Q    Hezbollah has said that they will not meet with any 
Americans on this issue.  It's been a week or so since they said that.

          Has the Administration perceived any change in that position?  
Do we see that as an obstacle?

          MR. McCURRY:  I don't have the latest on that.  I think we are 
hoping that those who can be persuasive and influential might encourage 
them to be cooperative with this very important delegation.

          Q    Who would that be?

          MR. McCURRY:  Their friends.

          Q    On the question -- on the Middle East -- when Secretary 
Christopher was in Cairo, he said the United States could live with a 
small delay in the implementation of the Declaration of Principles.

          Sunday, Prime Minister Rabin and Arafat met, came to no 
conclusion, put off their next meeting for at least ten days.  Press 
reports say that there aren't really many prospects that it's going to 
be concluded at that time.  Do you have a reaction to this?  Does that 
square with the Secretary's desire for a delay of only a few days?

          MR. McCURRY:  It doesn't square with the information we have.  
The Israelis and the PLO have continued to meet.  They've just finished, 
I think -- or they're either having or are conducting some fairly 
encouraging talks in Paris on the economic aspects of implementing the 
Declaration of Principles.  They clearly are engaged in discussions that 
will help lead to the effective implementation of the declaration.

          I think both Prime Minister Rabin and Chairman Arafat have 
said publicly that they will continue to remain in dialogue to resolve 
the final issues.  I don't know that things are as bleak as you suggest.

          They clearly have very difficult issues that they are 
addressing, and they clearly are going to have to get very serious if 
they want to remove those obstacles that exist to the implementation of 
the declaration.  But what's going on at the working level, where you 
see the delegations engaged, is very encouraging and positive work 
towards the full implementation of the declaration.

          Q    Do you have any indication that they will complete the 
task before their next meeting, which was to be ten days after the last 

          MR. McCURRY:  I am not certain.  The only thing I've seen 
reported on the wire -- I'm not basing this on an independent assessment 
-- but I did see on the wire that Prime Minister Rabin made a reference 
to 10 to 21 days, or something like that.  I can't recall exactly what 
he said.

          It was clear that it was in the context of expecting there to 
be continuing dialogue, and that certainly reflects what our 
understanding of the situation is.

          Q    You say you're encouraged by the level of work at the 
sub-level, the working level.  What about at the highest levels?  Is 
there anything that the upper leadership on either side can do 

          MR. McCURRY:  The highest levels are highest levels and 
probably best not commented upon.  What we can talk about is the work 
that is going on in Paris both bilaterally between Israel and the PLO, 
and then the presentation that the PLO has made, I think, yesterday in 
Paris to the multilateral donors which was very persuasive and 
encouraging and demonstrated a great deal of thought about the 
structures necessary for implementing the declaration.

          With that type of work going on, that suggests that there is a 
climate in which there could be progress.  At the highest levels, the 
highest levels will do their work.

          Q    So you're confident that both Rabin and Arafat are doing 
all they can at this point to move this forward?

          MR. McCURRY:  We have monitored their progress and know of 
their discussions, and I just don't want to characterize the work that 
they're doing.

          Q    What about the general work pattern of half of the 
highest level -- Mr. Arafat, who, peripatetically, gets on airplanes 
when some people feel that he might be better paying attention to the 
detailed work of trying to make his organization into a governmental 
structure?  Is that a distraction?

          MR. McCURRY:  I wouldn't want to say that.  Again, I would 
point you toward the work that has been going on by those who are 
delegated, presumably, by the Chairman, or at least by the PLO with some 
responsibility for doing detail work of these negotiations.  And as I 
say, our reports are that that work is proceeding and is looking good.

          Q    Mike, has the Secretary and other senior members of this 
Administration expressed frustration with the Israelis and the 
Palestinians for coming up with an agreement that is so non-specific and 
open-ended that it welcomes this sort of delay in working out the 

          MR. McCURRY:  I don't think we've expressed frustration, no.

          Q    Is that a hindrance to implementing it?  That it is so 
general and so non-legalistic?

          MR. McCURRY:  I can't answer that because we are not a 
participant in their direct talks, so we're not in a good position to 
comment on what are the obstacles of the negotiating points between the 
two parties as they address the elements of the declaration.  It 
wouldn't be right to comment on that.

          Q    Does the Secretary consider it a good contract?

          MR. McCURRY:  I think the Secretary considers it a good 
Declaration of Principles that can lead to a peace process that would be 
advantageous to both parties.  He's a lawyer, so I wouldn't dare comment 
on his ability to read a contract without talking to him.

          Q    He has commented publicly on that very subject.  You're 
not suggesting any change in that view in which he described the 
agreement as one that has "some ambiguity?"

          MR. McCURRY:  He has described that agreement as one that has 
some ambiguity, but he has not suggested that that represents a problem.

          Q    A question on -- just to clarify something that was 
announced in Damascus, I guess -- where do we stand with the heads of 
delegation talks?  Is that scheduled for January 18 now?

          MR. McCURRY:  I've heard 18-19-20.  I don't think that has 
been entirely pinned down yet.

          Q    That's the head of delegation thing, not --

          MR. McCURRY:  That would precede a formal resumption of the 

          Q    That has not been agreed to yet by anybody; right?

          MR. McCURRY:  The intent would be for the heads of delegation 
to meet, discuss issues, and then to proceed to the round.  I don't 
think that has been laid out.  They would have to agree to that at the 
time that they gather here in Washington.

          Q    And if I could -- stop me if you've already dealt with 
this earlier because I came in late -- could you tell us anything about 
what contact the Secretary had with Aspin, either yesterday before the 
resignation or perhaps afterwards?  Did he call him?  Or have they met 
or had a conversation of any kind?

          MR. McCURRY:  I don't know the answer to that.  I know that 
the Secretary was at the White House yesterday and he may have had 
contact with Les.  I just don't know the answer to that.

          I do know that after the President and the Secretary of 
Defense concluded their meeting yesterday, the President and the 
Secretary talked.  I don't know whether the Secretary talked to 
Secretary Aspin.  Of course, you know from the statement the Secretary 
issued last night, he had very strong feelings that he communicated.  
I'm sure he'll do so privately to the Secretary as well.

          Q    And has Secretary Christopher -- tell us something about 
his relationship with Bobby Inman?

          MR. McCURRY:  He -- you almost got me!  Why are you asking 
that question?  (Laughter)

          Q    I'm the one who asks the questions here.  You give the 
answers.  (Laughter)

          MR. McCURRY:  Oh, I have to give the answers.

          Admiral Robert Inman is someone that the Secretary knows very, 
very well.  He has, I think, worked with him in a couple of capacities 
in the past.  My understanding is they may -- I'll double-check it -- I 
think that they first worked together at the time of the Moscow Embassy 
fire in 1979.

          I will tell you that at the request of the White House the 
Secretary has spent some time, in the past several days leading up to 
yesterday's announcement, with the President's candidate for Secretary 
of Defense.

          I think that Secretary Christopher is confident the nominee 
will be someone that will be a very effective member of the President's 
foreign policy team and someone that he will be able to work with very 

          How is that for artful construction?

          Q    You made the announcement.  That's all I needed.

          MR. McCURRY:  No, I did not.

          Q    You said, "the President's candidate."

          MR. McCURRY:  I said the President's candidate.  I didn't say 
who he met with.

          Q    It was in answer to a question about Bobby Inman.

          MR. McCURRY:  No, those are two separate questions.  You just 
asked me out of the clear blue about Admiral Inman.  He's a very nice 
fellow.  I asked you why you asked that question.

          Q    Are you saying, at the request of the White House, the 
Secretary spent time with --

          MR. McCURRY:  The President's candidate.

          Q    The President's candidate.

          MR. McCURRY:  Yes.

          Q    Over the last few days, did you say?

          MR. McCURRY:  I said in the days leading up to the 
announcement yesterday.

          Q    Thank you.

          (Press briefing concluded at 1:22 p.m.)

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