US DEPARTMENT OF STATE OFFICE OF THE SPOKESMAN DAILY PRESS BRIEFING Thursday, January 13, 1994 BRIEFER: Christine Shelly Subject Page HAITI Conference of Parties in Miami ................. 1-2 -- US Representative .......................... 1-2 Fuel Tanker Scheduled to Arrive This Week ...... 2 CHINA US Licenses for Satellite Parts ................ 2-3 Status of Red Cross Visits to Prisons .......... 3-4 Prospects for Secretary Meeting with Foreign Minister ..................................... 3 IRAN Report Mehdi Debadj Sentenced to Death ......... 4 Trade with US .................................. 4 SYRIA Safe Havens for Terrorist Groups ............... 5 Presence of Nazi War Criminal Alois Brunner .... 5 MIDDLE EAST PEACE PROCESS Bilateral Talks/Timing ......................... 5 Amb. Ross to Join President for Meeting with Syrian President ............................. 6-7 NORTH KOREA Talks with IAEA in Geneva ...................... 6
DEPARTMENT OF STATE DAILY PRESS BRIEFING
THURSDAY, JANUARY 13, 1994, 12:47 P.M. (ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED)
MS. SHELLY: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. I don't have any announcements, so I'd be pleased to proceed directly to your questions.
Q The Haitians said this morning that Ambassador Pezzullo will attend the Miami Conference. Can you confirm that? And, if so, could you explain what was behind that decision?
MS. SHELLY: I think I have laid out earlier this week the rationale that we felt would be necessary to be met before we would decide on our own participation. We have decided that we will send a representative to this conference. I'm not in a position to confirm right now whether or not it is Ambassador Pezzullo, but I'm hoping that I will have something to post on this exactly, with a little bit more detail of our representative and any other insight we can offer on the modalities of our participation.
Q Does it mean that you are confident enough that the military will participate in the conference?
MS. SHELLY: I'm not sure that they have pronounced themselves definitively on that. It's still certainly is very much our hope that they will participate, and we were assured that they were invited in a meaningful way.
I'm not sure, again as I said, that they have said anything yet. We're hopeful they will be there, and it may also be something I can address a little more fully in something this afternoon; but I've been told that, hopefully, I'll have some more details to offer you later.
Q So you're hopeful but not confident?
MS. SHELLY: I think I've said what I have to say.
Q You don't want to say why a representative from this Administration is going?
MS. SHELLY: We're going because we feel that the conference can be a useful vehicle in terms of trying to get the political process back on track. As you know, we worked with Aristide and his representatives to try to shape the agenda, to try to make sure that the conference would address the issues in a way which we felt was meaningful and which would have the possibility of trying to get the political process back on track, to try to get closer to the implementation of the commitments that were undertaken in the context of the Governor's Island Accord.
I think we have felt that, as this process has unfolded throughout the course of this week, it has developed, has evolved in a way that gets us closer to that. So I believe it's our determination now to participate and to try to help and shape that process through our presence at it and hope that we may get somewhere closer to achieving the broader political goals.
Q Can you tell us about the tanker?
MS. SHELLY: I don't have a lot to add to what I said on this yesterday. I've checked on this a little bit more to try to find out if there was any problem in connection with the sailing and the arrival in Port-au-Prince. I'm assured that there isn't a problem on this.
The tanker is a commercial vessel which is apparently circulating throughout a number of ports in the Caribbean. It's picking up and delivering fuel. It is still scheduled to arrive in Haiti later this week. As I said, I think it's still a question of -- it might be today, it could be tomorrow. I think it's supposed to be quite soon. When we can be more specific about the arrival date, I would be very happy to share that information with you at that time.
Q Christine, on a different subject. Where is the State Department on approving -- granting licenses for parts of the Hughes Aircraft Company's satellites that the Commerce Department has approved to be launched on Chinese rockets?
MS. SHELLY: I don't have anything with me on that today. I can say that I understood that there were seven licenses pending -- as I recall from previous guidance that we've done on this, there were seven licenses pending for satellite sales. Four of them fell under the authority of the State Department, and three of them fell under the authority of the Department of Commerce.
My understanding is that the Department of Commerce is going to issue the licenses for the three, for the applications that they had. We don't really get involved in giving you the specific information on each satellite because that's considered proprietary business information, but that's what I understand to be the case. If there's anything more that I can say on that, I'd be happy to post an answer this afternoon.
Q Three of the licenses are for parts that are in the satellites. The satellites can't go unless those parts are licensed, so the fact that Commerce has licensed the overall piece of technology does not allow the satellite sale to go through.
I'm told that State has to approve these licenses for these components before the sale can actually go through and that Under Secretary Davis is considering that or has made a decision on that. Can you elaborate at all?
MS. SHELLY: I don't have the information with me. I'll be happy to check. If I can come up with something more specific on the point about parts versus the licenses for the satellites themselves, I'll be happy to try to put something up.
Q Also on China, you were going to check yesterday whether the Chinese Government had actually done anything about the Red Cross prison visits. Did you find out anything?
MS. SHELLY: I haven't been able to get that information yet.
Q I have done something checking, too, and it appears that there have been no visits, although I think you and others have said that they would permit these visits. In fact, I looked back and what the Chinese Government said was that they would consider granting approval, which is slightly different and slightly less of a commitment.
Could you continue your investigation and see if your people in China have found any movement at all?
MS. SHELLY: Yes.
Q Do you have anything on a date for a meeting between the Secretary and the Chinese Foreign Minister?
MS. SHELLY: Today I'm not any further along on being able to confirm that than I was yesterday. As I said yesterday, as you know, the idea for a meeting between Secretary Christopher and his Chinese counterpart was under consideration, and we have been still engaged in sorting out the final details related to the date and the location. I expect to have an announcement on this tomorrow.
Q Can I add something to Jim's question on the Red Cross visits? As I recall from Seattle, the Chinese would actually have to invite the Red Cross to come to the prisons, and they clearly have not issued that invitation, have they?
MS. SHELLY: I don't know.
Q Could you add that to his?
MS. SHELLY: Sure.
Q Also in reference to something you said yesterday, apparently the Chinese are not pleased at what you said and they have come back with a rather pungent answer, saying that there shouldn't be any link between trade questions and human rights. Do you have any response to their response?
MS. SHELLY: I think they stated their position and we've stated ours.
Q Christine, you all distributed something -- a piece of paper yesterday that talked about an Iranian Christian who had been sentenced to death, and you said it might happen yesterday. Has he been executed?
MS. SHELLY: To the best of our knowledge -- this is the Reverend Debadj, who is referred to in this statement that we issued, as you're aware. The statement said -- for those of you who didn't see it -- that we had received information that an Iranian citizen, Mehdi Debadj, had been recently sentenced to death for his religious conversion which had occurred some 45 years ago.
To the best of our knowledge, he has not been executed. We're not aware of any response so far by the Iranian Government to our statement. Certainly, we hope that the statement, along with other expressions of concern by the international community, will cause the Government of Iran to halt the planned execution and to honor its commitment to respect the human rights of its citizens.
Q Still on Iran, there's a report in the Iranian press saying that the level of trade between Iran and the U.S., either directly or indirectly, has reached the level of $1 billion a year. Do you have any comment on that -- any remark on the amount of trade which is going on between Iran and the United States despite the embargo?
MS. SHELLY: I don't have any information on that. I think as to the keeper of numbers -- if there is officially reported trade in either direction, it is reported to the Department of Commerce; and they are the keeper of such numbers.
As to whether or not trade between Iran and the United States is going on in spite of the embargo and what level it might reach, I don't have anything on that.
Q Can you try to get something on that?
MS. SHELLY: I'll look into it and see what we can post.
Q On Syria, is it the view of the U.S. Government that Syria is still giving safe haven to terrorist groups?
MS. SHELLY: That Syria is still giving safe haven --
Q To terrorist groups -- groups involved in international terrorism?
MS. SHELLY: I'm not going to get into that question. As you know, the President is meeting very shortly with Syrian President Assad, and the whole subject of Syria and this general question is something that I would certainly expect to be covered in that meeting. I think it would be completely inappropriate of me to get into that subject at this precise moment.
Q Christine, do you think that this meeting will also cover the issue of Alois Brunner, a Nazi war criminal who is supposed to live in Syria?
MS. SHELLY: I don't have information on that.
Q Christine, Reuters is running a story this morning that it has been decided to resume the bilateral Middle East discussions on the 24th of January. And my question is: Is that true or not?
MS. SHELLY: I've also seen reports that identify the 24th of January as the date. I know that they've cited some sources on this, but we've been involved in a lot of discussions with the parties about resuming the talks and exactly when this would occur. We don't have anything to announce at this point about the exact date. We've said before, in the last few days, that the talks are going to start again in the second half of January, and that is still certainly very much the time frame.
We're consulting with the parties on the modalities related to this and the timing. I can tell you that no formal invitations to the parties have gone out that also identify the date. So I think that it's a little bit premature to actually fix on that one, but I hope I'll have something for you fairly soon.
Q The story also suggests that these would be bilateral discussions with the various groups but probably not Israel-Palestinians. Is that the most likely way?
MS. SHELLY: My understanding is that all of the different delegations on all of the different tracks, that they're all coming. So I'm not aware of that particular piece of information. I'll check on that, but I don't think that's correct.
Q Let's go back to Jacques' question. Does the Administration believe that Alois Brunner is in Syria?
MS. SHELLY: I don't have any information on that.
Q Could you take that question, please?
MS. SHELLY: I'll check.
Q Do you have anything on the talks between the IAEA and North Korea in Vienna?
MS. SHELLY: I have very little to add on that to what I said earlier in the week. My understanding is that the talks in Vienna between North Korea and the International Atomic Energy Agency are still continuing. They're still meeting on the details of the inspections to ensure the continuity of safeguards at the declared nuclear sites.
We certainly urge the North Koreans to allow these inspections to take place as soon as possible. But as to the status of these talks and when they're expected to conclude, I'd have to refer you to the IAEA.
Q Do you think it takes some more time?
MS. SHELLY: As I said when we got into this discussion earlier in the week, the important thing was to get this right and to have complete agreement on the details, and I think this involves going back and forth, probably, between Vienna and also the North Korean capital for some consultation on this. But the talks are still certainly very much in session, and we hope that there will be agreement on this very shortly.
Q Is your understanding the same as Secretary Aspin's? He said Sunday on a talk show that these stories about a one time inspection of just seven sites are just wrong; and, if that was the most we could get we would have no agreement.
MS. SHELLY: That is correct. I would agree with that interpretation. We have never said that this was just a one-time thing on the declared sites. We have always said that inspections had to be periodic and continuing, so that the continuity could be maintained. So I agree with that absolutely. This is not a one-time question.
Q Christine, just to go back for one minute on the Middle East, the Israeli press is reporting that Dennis Ross will go to the region directly after the summit in Geneva. Can you confirm the trip, and what is the purpose of the trip?
MS. SHELLY: I don't have a lot for you on that. I was also checking that one myself. I understand that Ambassador Ross is actually going to be joining up with the President's party in Moscow. He's leaving today to catch up with them, and then, of course, he'll be proceeding with them on to the meeting in Geneva.
As to his onward travel, I'm not aware that any firm decision has been made on that, so I don't have any details for you.
Q Is it under consideration?
MS. SHELLY: I'm not really going to say whether it is or it isn't. I think if it's determined that that would be a useful thing for him to do, I'm sure he will go.
Q As long as we're on the Middle East, we haven't heard the State Department's assessment of the talks with Syria and Lebanon. Do you have anything on that -- late last week?
MS. SHELLY: I think I had some guidance on that. I was just checking to see if I had anything on that. I think a couple of days ago, in fact, we did have some prepared guidance on that, but I don't have that with me. So I'd ask you to check with the Press Office and get that. We had a short readout on what had transpired, but I think you can get that from the Press Office.
Q Thank you.
MS. SHELLY: Thank you.
(The briefing concluded at 1:03 p.m.)
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