US DEPARTMENT OF STATE DAILY PRESS BRIEFING MONDAY, JANUARY 10, 1994 BRIEFER: Christine Shelly Subject Page ANNOUNCEMENT Counselor Wirth to Brief Press Tomorrow on Global Issues..............................................1 President's Press Conference Today/Secretary Will Speak Afterward and Take Questions ...................1 VIETNAM Conditions for US Normalizing Relations ...................1-3 Bilateral Human Rights Dialogue with US ...................2-4 Number of US POW/MIA Remains Returned .......................3 LAOS Report on US POWs/MIAs ...................................4,13 FRANCE Response to US Demarche re: Repatriation of Two Iranians Arrested for Murder ..........................4 TURKEY Reported Assassination Attempt of Prime Minister ..................................................4 MIDDLE EAST PEACE Congressional Fact-Finding Mission in Lebanon/ Syria .....................................................5 ANGOLA Status of Peace Talks .......................................5 HAITI Conference of Parties in Miami ............................5-6 -- Report Aristide to Invite Military ......................6 NORTH KOREA Discussions with IAEA re: Inspections ...................6-11 North-South Dialogue on Nuclear Issues ....................7,9 Commitment to IAEA Inspections ..............................8 Status of Team Spirit .......................................9 Prospects for Meetings with US in New York ..............11-12 ISRAEL/OCCUPIED TERRITORIES Violence ................................................12-13 Status of US Vehicles for Palestinians .....................13 INDIA Reported Letter from President Clinton to Kashimiri Leader .........................................13 (###)
DEPARTMENT OF STATE DAILY PRESS BRIEFING
MONDAY, JANUARY 10, 1994, 12:48 P.M. (ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED)
MS. SHELLY: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. Before we get started, I want to make two brief housekeeping announcements.
First of all, I'm pleased to announce that we will open tomorrow's briefing with a special briefing by the Department's Counselor, Tim Wirth. Counselor Wirth will discuss the Administration's policy on global issues, such as population, environment, refugees and terrorism.
Counselor Wirth will begin with an opening statement and then will be glad to take your questions.
Following his briefing, I will then take questions on other subjects. Tomorrow's briefing will begin at 12:45.
Second, as many of you know from your colleagues in the traveling party with the President, the President is holding a press conference -- perhaps even as we speak -- and after a brief pause, Secretary Christopher will also be speaking and will be taking some questions and answers.
Because of this, I have been asked not to take questions at today's press briefing on the NATO summit, on the Partnership for Peace proposal, on Bosnia, Russia or Ukraine. I ask for your understanding in that situation.
I'd be pleased now to take any questions that you may have on any other topic.
Q Can we do Vietnam?
MS. SHELLY: Sure.
Q Five Senators are in Hanoi, I believe, and they are calling for a quick normalization of relations with Vietnam. Do you have any observations on that?
MS. SHELLY: As you know, the President has linked further progress in our relations with Vietnam to achieving the fullest possible accounting on the POW/MIA issue. The President has taken two steps this year with Vietnam which recognize the progress which has been made in this issue. The first, as you know, was in July when we lifted out objections to Vietnam's access to lending from the international financial institutions.
The second step, announced in September, when we renewed the embargo, it included an adjustment which actually permitted U.S. firms to participate in development projects in Vietnam funded by the international financial institutions.
Vietnamese efforts generally to contribute toward progress in this accounting -- the POW/MIA accounting -- has been under constant review. At this particular point in time, no decision has been made on the further steps.
I would also add in context of our own measures that about ten days ago or so, the Treasury Department issued implementing regulations which govern the participation in projects by U.S. companies of the international financial institutions.
Q Christine, I understand that Vietnam has now agreed to participate in talks with the United States on its human rights record and situation. What can you tell us about that in terms of how important that is as another factor in the movement toward normalization?
MS. SHELLY: Secretary Christopher raised the human rights issue during his October meeting with the Deputy Prime Minister, Phan Van Khai, and I would also note that Ambassador Lord raised the human rights issue during his December trip -- the recent one -- to Vietnam.
In December, during that time, Hanoi agreed to begin a bilateral human rights dialogue with us. We intend to begin this process in the very near future, although no precise date has been set.
Although there have been questions about the mechanism by which this would be done, particularly as to who Ambassador Lord would meet with, and particularly whether or not this would be done with Vietnam's U.N. Ambassador, and on that particular point I would note that a meeting between Ambassador Lord and Ambassador Le Bang is not scheduled at this time, but we would expect them to meet again soon.
Q Is the State Department in touch with these five Senators who are in Vietnam?
MS. SHELLY: I don't have anything specific for you on that. I would expect that we would be hearing from them upon completion of their travel. That's usually the way it works.
Q In other words, you say no decision -- no final decision has been made. Will that decision be made on the basis of what they bring back?
MS. SHELLY: I think I'd like to emphasize the point more about no decision -- about the issue being under constant review. This is something that has come up. It's definitely on the agenda. It's looked at with regularity, and certainly the report of those senators and what their recommendation is -- this is certainly something that we would look at in the context of our ongoing deliberations on that issue.
But as to whether or not we are on the verge of that or we have something ready to announce, we're not at that point yet.
Q Is there any evaluation that you have of the degree of cooperation that you've been getting from the Vietnamese on this issue?
MS. SHELLY: I think that we've indicated, when we've addressed that question in the past recently, that, in fact, overall we have been satisfied with the degree of cooperation which they have been giving; and I have no information that suggests that our feeling about that has changed.
Q Do you have the numbers -- remains returned?
MS. SHELLY: I'll be happy to check that. I'll see if we can post something this afternoon.
Q Can we assume that this decision would not be made while the President was abroad dealing with other important issues? In other words, this is not imminent, something that's going to happen in the next few days?
MS. SHELLY: I think that the policy and the facts and the developments are certainly something that will continue to be reviewed while the President is on his trip. But this is an important decision. It's something that the President has taken a very strong interest in, and he has been involved in the decisions which I specifically referred to -- the changes that were made in the course of the last year -- and so I certainly would expect that when the next major decision or change is announced, that that is something that he would be directly involved in.
Q Christine, is human rights somehow linked to his decision?
MS. SHELLY: Which --
Q Are Vietnamese human rights practices somehow linked to President Clinton's decision to normalize relations with Vietnam?
MS. SHELLY: I think when the President makes decisions, he looks at the entire broad range of issues affecting the particular issue in question, and I think that he has pronounced himself quite clearly in the commitment which he has given to the full accountability.
But I certainly, personally, would not draw any specific linkage between the progress right at this point in time on the human rights. Certainly, the human rights question is a part of the overall relationship and the considerations that we're looking at. But as to the next stage on this and the resumption of the bilateral dialogue, I wouldn't draw specific linkage between the two.
Q Christine, this human rights dialogue, was it announced at the time Lord was there -- I don't recall -- or is this something new?
MS. SHELLY: I'll go back and check this point to be sure, but I believe that when the decision was made in December that when Hanoi agreed to begin the bilateral dialogue with us, I believe that there was public mention made of that. But I'll be happy to check that point.
Q On a parallel subject, did you see the reports last week based on documents newly uncovered that a few or as many as several score American POWs were left in Laos at the time the Paris agreements were signed, and that some of them presumably were alive and still in captivity?
MS. SHELLY: I remember at the time that that came up, we had some specific guidance on that point. I don't have that with me right now, but we did guidance, and I'd refer you to the Press Office on that, because we did do up some specific guidance at that time.
Q New subject? Have you had a response to the demarche that was delivered to the French on the release or the repatriation of two Iranians last week?
MS. SHELLY: I don't have anything with me on that. I'll have to take the question and see if we can post something.
Q Do you have anything on reports in Turkey and in Brussels that the CIA tipped off Turkish security agents that there was an assassination plot in Brussels against Prime Minister Ciller's life?
MS. SHELLY: I don't have anything on that.
Q Could you see if you can dig something up on that?
MS. SHELLY: I'll be happy to check.
Q This group that's been looking into the fate of the Israeli MIAs in Lebanon apparently spent four hours in eastern Lebanon and went back to Damascus. Do you know what their future plans are?
MS. SHELLY: As you know, the staff delegation is from the House Foreign Affairs Committee, and probably the Committee is the best place to respond to specific questions. We, of course, have been assisting the team in the region through our diplomatic missions there, and we understand that they have received very good cooperation from the Israeli, Syrian and Lebanese Governments.
As that is still going on, as the delegation is still proceeding with its mission, I don't have anything more precise that I can add on that. But I'll be happy to see and, if we have anything more later this afternoon or maybe we can come back to it tomorrow, I'll see if we can add something.
Q So the Administration is satisfied that Syria and Lebanon are -- Syria specifically is living up to its obligation made to Secretary Christopher when he was in Damascus to help get them into the Bekaa Valley and search for the remains or the missing Israeli servicemen?
MS. SHELLY: From what I understand, the delegation, and as I said, with the support through our Embassies out there, they, of course, have been in touch as the meetings have progressed. I have every reason to believe that they have been very satisfied with the cooperation by Syria and by the others involved.
Q Christine, do you have something on Angola and the efforts currently deployed by a delegation of Congress to try to reach an agreement between the government and UNITA?
MS. SHELLY: We had some guidance on this, I think, last week, but I don't think the question came up, so I'll be happy to revisit that. I'll take the question. We can post something this afternoon.
Q Over the weekend, I read somewhere that the Aristide camp has agreed to allow military participation in the Miami conference due to start at the end of the week. Do you have anything on that?
MS. SHELLY: As I think you know, on the conference, in particular, we have been working with all of the interested parties on this to try to shape this conference in a way that we feel would be a positive initiative that would engage all of the parties -- and that means specifically the military. As we mentioned within the last couple of weeks, it was certainly our hope that in order for the conference to lead to something which could get the political process back on track, that full participation, including by the military, would be an essential ingredient in that.
So we understand that there is now some prospect for that, and we hope that that is exactly what will come to pass; that the conference will include participation by all parties, including the military.
Q What do you base that statement on? Has Aristide indicated to you that he would allow the military to participate?
MS. SHELLY: I understand that actually the Haitian Minister of Information, Herve Denis, said that the Defense Minister had received instructions from President Aristide to contact the army, to study with it in particular the composition of the delegation which might attend the conference. I don't know if we have any information yet indicating how that discussion has gone or specifically whether or not the military will attend. But that's what we understand to be the case, and certainly it is very much our hope that the military would attend.
Q Christine, do you have any developments in North Korea nuclear issue?
MS. SHELLY: As you know, the North Koreans indicated some days back a willingness to accept the IAEA inspections required for the continuity of safeguards at their declared nuclear sites. They are now, as you know, engaged in discussions with the IAEA precisely on the details of those inspections.
I think I'd have to -- as to how the talks with the IAEA are going, I understand that the IAEA spokesman made a brief statement this morning in Vienna, and he indicated that those talks are continuing. So I don't think they've reached closure yet on the details.
Our position, generally speaking, remains unchanged. We'd like North Korea to allow the inspections to begin as soon as possible, so that they can maintain the continuity. The inspections, of course, would give the international community the assurance that the North is not conducting reprocessing or any other activities related to the nuclear weapons program at its declared facilities.
Q Are you satisfied with the speed of the discussions between the North Koreans and the agency in Vienna?
MS. SHELLY: I think it's not easy to say yes or no. The talks began the end of last week. The early reports that we got indicated that they were entered into with seriousness. They are complicated issues, however. The IAEA certainly wants to be very careful in terms of spelling out exactly what the conditions are that they believe necessary in order for the inspections to begin.
So I think that this was not a question that we were anticipating would be settled in just a very kind of brief session. I think it was our feeling that this was going to take a little bit of time. As long as the talks are continuing and we have indications that they're being approached very seriously, I think that since that's moving in the direction that is necessary for the next steps, I think we're satisfied with that.
Q But we thought, or at least I did, that most of the work had been done during negotiations between the U.S. and North Korea in New York. So I understand the details might be difficult to solve, but how difficult are these to solve?
MS. SHELLY: I don't think I really would agree with that. We have made it very clear what the position was on the need to get to the table and the need to reach agreement on the details surrounding the inspections for the declared facilities. But it really has not been the U.S.'s position that the details surrounding those inspections were really for the U.S. and for North Korea to decide.
Our position has always been and we have always said that, in fact, the precise details or the modalities relating to how the inspections would take place, that those would really have to be hammered out between the IAEA and North Korea directly. So that's really what we're waiting for. We're obviously interested in how they come out, but the details were not pre-negotiated with the United States. This is really between the IAEA and North Korea.
Q But isn't the IAEA essentially negotiating to go back to, if not square one, something -- a place where it's already been? It's already conducted inspections in the past. What's to negotiate?
MS. SHELLY: This is a problem that has been with us now for about six months, when the North Korean Government said that it was going to withdraw from the NPT. What we have certainly been trying to do is to get them back into a position -- into a regime of inspections and to overcome this first step to get the inspections back on track so that the continuity of safeguards can be maintained; and then the idea, of course, is to move onto the second point, which is to ensure full compliance with the NPT Treaty and particularly to try to get the broader aim of the denuclearized Korean peninsula implemented, which, of course, was in the agreement that the North Koreans themselves had signed on to in December 1991.
Q But the bottom line is that North Korea has added conditions which make going back to the pattern of previous inspections still impossible?
MS. SHELLY: Again, the pattern of the additional inspections -- the special inspections -- it's still on the agenda for the next round of talks. The important thing now is to get the agreement on the declared facilities and on the conditions for getting the inspections going and then to move on to address that part of the issue.
Q When Under Secretary Davis made her announcement last week to us here, did the Administration not have a firm commitment -- 100 percent commitment -- from North Korea that they would agree to inspections at the declared sites?
MS. SHELLY: It's my understanding that that is what the North Koreans have indicated.
Q A firm, 100 percent commitment -- indicated it's not the same as a firm commitment?
MS. SHELLY: I don't want to get into the nuances of the language. From everything that we have been told in the discussions, the North Koreans have said that they will accept the IAEA inspections required for their declared nuclear sites. It's a commitment. We take it as a commitment, and that's what they've offered.
Q Since they've been doing that for a year or so -- a number of years -- what's there to work out? Why don't they just go back to doing what they were doing?
MS. SHELLY: Because what they are trying to do is to get agreement on the range of elements which enables them to address the entire issue and to also be able to move on. They, of course, would like to move on to the third round of talks which, of course, we have said is contingent on their maintaining the continuity of the safeguards and, of course, engaging with the South on the nuclear issue.
The idea, of course, is to try to approach this, reaching agreement on all of these different elements so that then all of these things can move forward.
Q But I thought the strategy was to separate the two -- the two types of inspections: the agreement on the first and then go on to the second. At least, that's what Dr. Davis said.
MS. SHELLY: I think that they are separate issues, but they've also been discussed -- all of these different issues have been discussed in the same sets of meetings.
Q Isn't there also disagreement on the two undeclared sites -- the waste sites?
MS. SHELLY: What do you mean? In what respect?
Q They've accepted the IAEA inspections on the seven declared sites. But since then the international inspectors now think there are two other undeclared waste sites. Is that question settled?
MS. SHELLY: My understanding is that basically this has been broken down into -- that is certainly very much an aim, to settle the question of the special inspections. Those would, of course, affect these additional sites. But that is not what is at issue right now. That is something which has been identified as needing to be addressed and solved. The issue which is the immediate issue in order to then move on with some of these other things is, of course, establishing the continuity of safeguards on the seven declared facilities.
Our goals have remained steady. That still very much remains one of the U.S. objectives in dealing with the problem. But the first phase of this -- our immediate aim is the inspection regime related to the seven declared sites.
Q Have you gotten any word or news, information from North Korea, about how soon they are going to reopen the North/South dialogue?
MS. SHELLY: No, I don't have any new information on the timing of that.
Q Do you have anything on "Team Spirit?" I thought Dr. Davis said last week it was up in the air. Subsequent to that I read that there will, in fact, not be any "Team Spirit" exercises this year.
MS. SHELLY: I haven't read anything that suggests that any final decision has been made. It certainly has been discussed and that is certainly an issue which North Korea has identified as something that they would like to see pass.
But as to the status of "Team Spirit" for '94, we're still in exactly the same position that we had been for some weeks, and that is that no final decision has been made. Secretary Aspin addressed this over the weekend, but I don't have anything further to add on that. No final decision has been taken.
Q Christine, back to Haiti for a second. Will the United States be sending a representative to this conference, and who will that be?
MS. SHELLY: I don't have any precise information on that. If the conference between now and the end of the week evolves in a way that we do think that the conference can become an effort and a means for promoting dialogue between all of the parties and help to break the political impasse, I think it is quite likely that we would attend. But a final decision on that has not been taken yet, and so therefore I can't tell you who would be participating.
Q Back on North Korea. Your diplomatic negotiation with North Korea to solve the nuclear problem is supposedly based on the condition that North Korea has not yet procured a nuclear device. So if you concluded that they already procured the nuclear bomb, as the Pentagon and the CIA Director have strongly suggested, this kind of negotiation could be continued or not? Your style should be changed?
MS. SHELLY: I think a lot of others have gotten into the debate quite freely about bombs and devices. There is nothing new that's occurred on this in terms of information coming to our attention that has changed that. These involve assessments based on a number of factors, and there are differing views on this within the U.S. Government.
I don't think it would be very useful or productive of me to get into that debate from here. The key thing here is not to get dragged into discussions of bombs and devices. The key thing here is to try to get the process back on track and to try to get North Korea to live up to commitments itself made in signing the denuclearization agreement in December 1991. That's what we're trying to achieve.
Q So even though you could conclude -- your Department concludes that North Korea already has procured the nuclear device, this kind of negotiation could be continued, do you say?
MS. SHELLY: Again, I'm not going to accept the premise of your question because I just don't think that it's productive for me to get drawn into that debate.
I think what we have concluded is that moving the process forward and staying in discussions, trying to get the continuity of safeguards back on track and also to get North/South dialogue going and the other things that we've identified, these are the things that we are productively engaged in. We're not focusing on the bomb and device question.
Q When Dr. Davis announced here that there was an agreement in principle for starting again the discussion in Vienna, she said they would start shortly and it did start rapidly in Vienna. She never said how long those negotiations could be. Do you have any timeframe there? How long can you be patient about it?
MS. SHELLY: My understanding is that the talks began last Friday morning. I think they broke for the weekend. I don't think that they did meet on Saturday and Sunday, and so they are only resuming again today on the second day of talks. I think it's very hard to say how long it's going to take them. I don't think we view this as a long, dragged-out process, but I think that we were not expecting that there would be a very quick, immediate kind of fix on it. But as to being able to characterize whether this was a question of a day or two days or three days, I don't think that we really had an idea in mind that the talks should be wrapped up by a certain time, and if not, then to draw some consequences from there.
Certainly, we're letting these discussions take their course. It's our view that both parties are working very hard to try to sort out the details related to the inspections. If it's finished today or tomorrow, certainly, we'll have -- actually, the announcement on that, of course, will not come from us. That will come from the IAEA. I think it is something that we would hope would wrap up fairly soon.
Q You said it should not be a lengthy process. How long is "lengthy?"
MS. SHELLY: I don't want to get pinned down on days or weeks or hours on that. I don't have anything further to add.
Q A different area -- do you have any --
Q Just one more. Could you say that there will be not a New York working-level meeting until there's full cooperation between the IAEA and North Korea?
MS. SHELLY: About the New York meeting, the bilateral meeting?
MS. SHELLY: There hasn't been another meeting scheduled at this point. We would expect to have further contacts up in New York after the IAEA and North Korea have worked out the details of the inspections. But nothing has been scheduled at this point, but we would wait for the results of the IAEA and North Korea talks. Then, presumably, there would be another meeting.
Q Who is to decide whether full cooperation has been accomplished between the IAEA and North Korea? Until the IAEA declares that all problems have been settled, then you can re-open the New York working-level meeting? Or by your own decision, you can open the New York working-level meeting?
MS. SHELLY: I said what I had to say on that. We expect that when the details are worked out -- and presumably both the IAEA and North Korea would indicate that agreement had been reached on that -- that that is when we would expect to have another meeting.
Q Would the purpose of the New York working-level meeting be to schedule subsequent contacts between Mr. Gallucci and his counterparts and North Korea?
MS. SHELLY: I think it would be generally to determine what are the next steps in the way ahead. But I don't want to get into specifically what we would expect to be announced or not announced.
Q I thought Under Secretary Davis said last week that there wouldn't be another New York meeting until inspections actually happened?
MS. SHELLY: I'd have to go back and check her transcript on that. I don't have anything further to add.
Q Back to my different area. Do you have any comment or reaction to this human rights report on the killings of Palestinians by Palestinians?
MS. SHELLY: We've seen the same reports that you have, but we have not actually seen the report in question. We've only seen references to it.
We're certainly aware, generally speaking, of the situation. As you know, from our own human rights report, we have documented killings by Palestinians of other Palestinians alleged to have collaborated with the Israeli security forces, as well as killings related to disputes between political factions, or street gangs, and personal feuds.
Clearly, we are very concerned about violence in the occupied territories. That's why we believe that the implementation of the Declaration of Principles remains a crucial step in terms of dealing with the violence.
Q Israel has been criticized this time and before for co- opting some of these individuals and otherwise allowing this situation to happen. What concerns do you have about a wave of retribution when the Palestinians eventually take over running their own affairs?
MS. SHELLY: We have said that moving along with the peace process and the Declaration of Principles -- that that still is the overall best approach to trying to deal with the problems of violence. That's the key point here, not to focus on any of the individual incidents that take place but, basically, to try to stay the course and get the Declaration of Principles implemented and then to move on from there.
Q I think that question goes to the point that once it is implemented, there will be a number of people who are in personal danger. Although it may not be the key point for you, it might be very important for them.
Would there be concern about protecting specific individuals whose existence would be put at risk once an Israeli occupation took place?
MS. SHELLY: I'm sure that is a concern that is widely shared by all of the parties involved in the effort to try to seek the implementation of the Declaration, and more fundamentally, to establish more peace and stability in the region. I don't have specific information for you today on how they're looking into that. Presumably, those kinds of issues are being addressed between the parties themselves.
Q Christine, have the military vehicles that the Secretary promised to the Palestinian police force, when he was in Amman, been delivered?
MS. SHELLY: I'll have to take the question. I don't have that information with me.
Q And the details of how many and what kind, and so forth?
MS. SHELLY: Sure. I'll look into it.
Q One more on Indochina. One of the Senators, I believe, while praising Vietnam, said that Laos has not been doing all it could in cooperating on the MIA issue. Is that also the view of the State Department?
MS. SHELLY: I think that we did address the cooperation by the Laotian Government at the time when we were talking about Secretary Lord's travel to the region. I don't have anything with me on that today, so I'll look into that and see if we have anything we might say on that this afternoon.
Q Just one quick one. Has the Indian Government asked for clarification of a letter that President Clinton sent to a Kashmiri leader here in Washington last week?
MS. SHELLY: I don't have any information on that.
Q Can you see?
MS. SHELLY: Sure. I'll look into.
Q Thank you.
MS. SHELLY: Thank you.
(Press briefing concluded at 1:22 p.m)
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