US DEPARTMENT OF STATE DAILY PRESS BRIEFING Friday, January 14, 1994 BRIEFER: Christine Shelly SUBJECT PAGE CHINA Secretary Will Meet with Foreign Minister on January 24 in Paris .......................... 1 George Bush Visit .............................. 1-2 Human Rights/Number of Political Prisoners ..... 2,5 -- Release of Two Tibetan Political Prisoners . 2,5 -- US Call for Release of Political/Religious Prisoners ................................ 2 Amb. Roy's Interview with The New York Times ... 2-4,12 Talks with US on Textiles Quotas ............... 5 Discussions with US re: North Korean Nuclear Issues ....................................... 6 FRANCE Secretary Will Meet with French Officials on January 24-25 Visit to Paris ................. 1 Release of Two Suspected Iranian Terrorists .... 11 SYRIA Status of Travel Documents for Jewish Residents 5-6 NORTH KOREA US Discussions with China re: Nuclear Issues ... 6 Talks with IAEA in Geneva ...................... 7 FORMER YUGOSLAVIA Update on Fighting/Flights/Investigation ....... 7-10 HAITI Fuel Tanker Arrived Today ...................... 10 Conference of Parties in Miami/Participants .... 10-11 -- US Observers............................... 10-11 GABON Opposition Leaders Prevented from Departing the Country A Third Time ......................... 11-12 OAS Upcoming Elections/US Position ................. 12 (###)
DEPARTMENT OF STATE DAILY PRESS BRIEFING
FRIDAY, JANUARY 14, 1994, 12:53 P. M. (ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED)
MS. SHELLY: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. I'm pleased to announce that I can confirm that Secretary Christopher will be traveling to Paris for meetings on January 24 and 25. He will meet with the Chinese Vice Premier and Foreign Minister Qian in Paris on Monday, January 24.
They will discuss a full range of issues, including international questions requiring joint cooperation and bilateral issues that affect our relations. The latter includes human rights, non- proliferation and trade.
The Secretary will also meet with French officials during his visit to Paris. In the meetings, the Secretary will discuss President Clinton's meetings in Prague, Kiev, Moscow, Minsk and Geneva, and will address a wide range of subject of mutual concern.
I'd be pleased to take your questions.
Q On that, will he also be going to the Holst funeral?
MS. SHELLY: I don't have anything on that yet. It's under consideration. I hope to have something on that soon, but I don't have anything yet.
Q How do you feel about former President Bush going to China at this time and being given what is called a "hero's welcome" by Chinese officials? Is this an inappropriate time for a former President to be visiting China?
MS. SHELLY: No, I don't think that's our reaction at all. He is traveling to China, as you know, as a private citizen at the invitation of the Chinese Government. He had discussed his trip and the timing with us before it took place.
Officials of the National Security Council and the State Department briefed him on the current state of U.S.-China relations prior to his departure. He's not carrying any particular message, or he doesn't have a diplomatic mission that's been ascribed to him for this, but we certainly will be very interested in hearing back from him after he returns about what was discussed in his meetings with the Chinese officials.
Q So you support his trip? You think it's a good idea that he's going at this time?
MS. SHELLY: We have no problem with the trip at this time.
Q Can you fill in any of the blanks about China's human rights record that you left earlier in the week when we were asking questions and you didn't have much in the way of responses?
MS. SHELLY: I thought my responses were better than that, but let me take a crack at it again. As you know, we'd mentioned that human rights is very much of the agenda, and, of course, will be discussed by the Secretary. Of course, we reviewed earlier in the week about the specific connection of the human rights issue to MFN.
I have been trying to get some more precise information on this to share, and I would like to add that there's been a new development within the last 24 hours or so. I understand that the Chinese have released two Tibetan political prisoners, and the release of Gendun Rinchen and Lobsang Yonten is definitely a step in the right direction on the part of the Chinese authorities. This is the type of thing, of course -- concrete thing -- that we're looking for.
I'd like to note that this is the first time that Tibetans accused of political crimes have been released without a prison sentence after a long investigation and detention. There are, of course, hundreds of other Tibetans in jails or prisons who are accused similar offenses. We hope that there will be more releases of this kind in the near future.
The detention last May of Rinchen -- who as a tour guide had met thousands of visitors from outside China -- when that occurred, it resulted in a rather considerable degree of high-level international attention.
We call upon the Chinese Government to release all individuals in Tibet and elsewhere in China who are imprisoned for the peaceful expression of their views or of other political or religious views.
I was asked earlier in the week about the U.S. Ambassador to China, J. Stapleton Roy's interview in The New York Times. There's been some continued treatment of that, and I'd like to address a specific point on that.
It's been reported in the last few days in several articles about some alleged divergence in the views by Ambassador Roy that were expressed in that interview and the general position of the Administration on human rights.
Ambassador Roy is one of our most senior and experienced and respected career diplomats. He certainly enjoys the full confidence, and his policy analysis, his policy recommendations to us, do carry particular weight.
We have gone back over the interview, the entire transcript of what he said, and I think that we really don't agree with the assertions that there is a space here between what he said and what the U.S. Administration's position is.
The interview was a very lengthy one. The Ambassador, who, as you know, was born and raised in China, was asked to comment on a wide range of subjects. He was addressing generally the contemporary change which he had perceived in Chinese society. On that, he noted, I think correctly and appropriately, that there had been profound change for the better in the quality of life and the economic opportunity for the average Chinese.
But he was, I think, reflecting a lot of his impressions based on his longstanding interest in this, and he made the remarks in that context. I think that his remarks in the total interview definitely should be taken as a whole. He stated very clearly that human rights abuses continue to be a very serious problem in China, and an equation of the economic development or the economic liberalization aspects of this with the political reform and progress I think is just simply wrong.
Ambassador Roy is as involved as any U.S. official is in reminding the Chinese Government of what are our core beliefs. I think Ambassador Roy certainly is fully supportive of what the U.S. Administration's human rights goals and objectives are in China. I just don't really think that there is an issue out there.
Q Why has it taken the State Department so long to give this kind of thorough reaction to the Ambassador's interview which occurred -- ran publicly at least eight or nine days ago, if not more?
MS. SHELLY: At the time that the interview came out, there were certain statements and phrases in it that were picked up, and it took us a little bit of time to get the entire transcript of the interview. It wasn't just a question of whipping through the transcript. It was also a question of really looking at it, I think, very carefully.
I think that we just didn't think that it was a big story. Then as this issue continued to come up, I think then there was a feeling that it was time to state very clearly that no one in this building thought that there was daylight between the totality of what he had said about the whole picture of human rights, economic liberalization, trade and all the other issues; that there was not somehow his view and the Administration's view on this. I think that people in this building felt that it was time to actually say something on this.
Q He did use the word "dramatic" to describe the improvement in the situation in China, and that certainly does not equate with what you were saying about two days ago on the same subject.
MS. SHELLY: When I was asked about it, it was something that we had commented on. I was not the first Administration official to comment on it. It had been asked about and commented on a couple of days before that.
Perhaps if I contributed in any way to creating that impression, it certainly was not my intention to do so. But the issue has been looked at and examined pretty thoroughly by people in this building, and there was simply a feeling that it was time to set the record straight on exactly where we were and our position on the interview.
Q So the Administration also thinks there's been dramatic improvements in the quality of life for average Chinese?
MS. SHELLY: Two days ago when I addressed this, I think I stated very clearly what the Administration's position is on the human rights issue -- which is, some progress, but not the kind of progress that we're looking for in terms of conditions that have been set for renewal of MFN. It's an issue which is very much on the bilateral agenda. As I just mentioned, Secretary Christopher will be discussing this with Chinese officials, and it's clear that there's still a long way to go.
Q But you just associated the State Department with the comment -- with your Ambassador's comment that there have been dramatic improvements in the quality of life for the average Chinese.
MS. SHELLY: No. I have not disassociated the State Department with the totality --
Q No, I said "associated."
MS. SHELLY: -- of the interview. An interview has to be look at in its totality. I'm not going to get dragged into a word-by-word dissection of what the Ambassador said.
Q This information on the two Tibetans, was this communicated directly to the United States Government, or have they made a public statement about it recently?
MS. SHELLY: I think that there has been some kind of an announcement of this locally. I don't know whether it was conveyed to us in a separate diplomatic track. I don't have information on that, but I'd be happy to check and see.
Q Do you have estimates of how many political prisoners are either in Tibet -- you said hundreds of people who had spoken out and are therefore thrown in jail, and do you have a similar estimate for all of China?
MS. SHELLY: No, I don't have those numbers. I'll be happy to see if we have something that we might --
Q If there's a ball park range --
MS. SHELLY: I'm sure we probably have an idea -- whether or not we would actually say what we think those numbers are publicly, I don't know. I'll be happy to check.
Q Could you give us the spellings of those names, please?
MS. SHELLY: Yes. In my guidance it has Gendun as the first name -- G-e-n-d-u-n -- and Rinchen is the second name -- R-i-n-c-h-e-n. Lobsang Yonten is two words: L-o-b-s-a-n-g. Y-o-n-t-e-n. The one who I mentioned specifically who is the tour guide where there had been a lot of attention to that, that was the first one.
Q What's the status of the decision to cut China's textile quota?
MS. SHELLY: This is not an issue on which the State Department has the lead, so I would have to refer you to the other Departments that are involved in that. If I can post something on that this afternoon, I'll be happy to try.
Q (Inaudible) as far as you know, there had been talk of squeezing in more negotiations before the deadline.
MS. SHELLY: The talks have continued on the issue, but my understanding is that there has not been a resolution of the problem. So we're still where we are whenever this was -- a week or ten days ago when the announcement was made.
Q Christine, as long as you're on the topic of people being held against their will, has the State Department determined whether the Syrian President has issued exit visas to all the Jews who want to leave there -- two days before he meets with the President?
MS. SHELLY: I'm not in a very strong position to comment on that, because mostly I have been asked to defer specific questions on Syria, since the meeting is just about to take place.
I can, I think, refer back to earlier guidance that we had a few days ago, and that is that we certainly had seen a lot of progress on it, and the progress was continuing. The United States had a commitment from the Syrian Government to issue exit visas to any Syrian Jew who desired a permit. It's our belief that the Syrian Government has been acting on that commitment, and we expect that it would be fulfilled in the days ahead.
I don't have numbers with me. I'd be happy to check. I don't think it's terribly likely, really, that I'm going to be able to get any more into it than that. Obviously, it's an issue of concern to us, and with the President's meeting with President Assad coming up just in a day or so, I'm not real optimistic I'm going to be able to say much more.
Q But it doesn't sound as if all the visas have been issued.
MS. SHELLY: I think that the process is still underway.
Q Because Mike McCurry, before the 1st of the year, said the exact same thing -- they expected all the requests to be fulfilled in the days ahead, and here it is two weeks or so later you're saying the same thing.
Q In his Paris meeting with Chinese Foreign Minister, Christopher will discuss North Korean problem with him, do you think?
MS. SHELLY: I certainly wouldn't rule it out. The information that I have about the bilateral topics didn't specifically mention that, but, as you know, that's a subject that we discuss pretty regularly with the Chinese. So I wouldn't be surprised if that was discussed.
Q Could you elaborate, what do you mean when you said that you have regular contact with Chinese people concerning North Korean nuclear matter?
MS. SHELLY: What we have said is that China has been one of the countries with which we have had discussions on this issue; and, as this issue has unfolded particularly over the last few months, China is certainly an interested country in this. They've also expressed their willingness to be involved in this in a positive way. So they have been one of the countries with which we have discussed the evolution of events over the last few weeks and months before that actually.
Q And one more: This morning a Korean high-ranking official said that IAEA and North Korea will agree very soon for the inspection of seven declared nuclear sites. What kind of information do you have?
MS. SHELLY: I don't have anything new on that. The state of play, really, all week has been that the discussions in Vienna between North Korea and the IAEA have been continuing. I know they've been back and forth several times. My latest information on this is that they still have not reached agreement on all of the details. I haven't seen this particular statement that you referred to, but certainly we hope that they will agree to reach agreement on all of the details very shortly. So if this is, in fact, the case, this would be a very welcome development.
Q Do you have any deadline in mind until that time the issue has been solved between IAEA and North Korea?
MS. SHELLY: We haven't set any kind of deadline on this. We just hope it happens in the very near future.
Q So you're still confident that you have a deal with North Korea?
MS. SHELLY: I don't think anything has happened in the last few days that suggests that there's been any backing away from the commitment that the North Koreans made and have confirmed themselves about the efforts to establish continuity of safeguards. I don't think there's been any erosion in what's been agreed so far. But, as you know, this is still in the stage that right now -- the point in the phase of the discussions is the talks with the IAEA. But we have no reason to believe that there's been any erosion in the North Korean commitments in this regard.
Q Apparently 150 rounds, new rounds, were fired by the Bosnian Serbs on Sarajevo overnight. I was wondering if the United States felt that this proved the success of NATO's latest warning.
MS. SHELLY: I would be happy to get into the situation related to the fighting. If you want me to address that factually, I'd be happy to do that. We've also seen some of the most recent reports about -- there was the UNPROFOR spokesman, for example, who mentioned that unidentified helicopters and jets were firing rockets on an area just north of Novi Travnik in central Bosnia.
I understand that Sarajevo Radio has reported that these helicopter and jet activities were Croatian, but we've been looking around on this since the reports of this came in. I'm not in a position to confirm the reports. We're checking on this -- the military on the ground, UNPROFOR -- they are looking into the details of the matter. But I would have to say, quite frankly, that on this particular episode there is some conflicting information. So I'm not going to be able to really take this particular thing any farther until there has been a full investigation and we can try to determine exactly what it was that happened.
The general fighting situation this week has been intense. Fighting in and around Sarajevo in particular has been intense. There have been numerous civilian deaths; more injuries due to Bosnian Serb shelling of civilian areas of Sarajevo.
Bosnian Serb forces continue to attack Bosnian Government positions around Tuzla, around northeastern Bosnia. They've also claimed that they've broken through government lines. The Bosnian Government has denied those claims.
Fighting between Bosnian Government and Bosnian Croat forces around Vitez in central Bosnia has also continued throughout the week. So it's certainly not the kind of picture that we would have hoped for.
I'm happy to try to address what we know about the factual situation on the ground. If you want to get into convoys and airlifts and airdrops, things like that, I have some information on that, or you could also get that from the Press Office.
I'm still in the position that the issue is still coming up. The President himself is still addressing questions on this. There is also the follow-up which is going on among the NATO governments about what happens next on this. As to going from the factual situation and then drawing some conclusions from that or making analyses from here about whether or not they've gotten the message, I'm just not in a position to do that today.
Q So even though the United States admits that the situation has not improved, there's no effort on the United States' part at this point to act on the latest warning that was reissued by NATO.
MS. SHELLY: I don't think I would put it in those terms. Since the summit, the discussions among the allies on this have been continuing, and they certainly have exchanged information about what the situation on the ground is. So I certainly can confirm -- I think NATO's own commanders themselves are also looking into the particular military aspects of the decisions that were taken.
Boutros-Ghali has also pronounced himself and indicated that they, too, were looking into the NATO decisions and their relationship to the U.N. So there certainly are activities which are going on on that. I'm just, I think, not in a position to get any more specific on your question.
Q How about the Canadians? Has there been any progress in relieving their situation in Srebrenica? Any progress in relieving the problem in Tuzla?
MS. SHELLY: I don't have precise information on that.
Q So both of the things that the NATO summit was looking at -- and there is no evidence that that situation has changed at all?
MS. SHELLY: I don't have any information that it's changed. I think it's still pretty much where it was.
Q Christine, without pointing any fingers, can you confirm that there were air strikes last night -- fixed-wing air strikes in Bosnia?
MS. SHELLY: No, I can't. Because, in fact, what exactly transpired -- there was military action certainly, but how exactly, where it came from, what the delivery vehicles were, where it landed, who the firers were, again I think to try to impart any kind of partial picture of this would just not be very responsible of me as a briefer. But we're looking into it very vigorously, and UNPROFOR is too, and we're trying to determine exactly what it was which transpired.
Q Do you think something flew? Is there evidence that something was in the air, because the Bosnians don't have anything to put in the air.
MS. SHELLY: A UNPROFOR spokesman who specifically made these remarks -- which of course have gotten everybody scrambling on this -- but then when it appeared that, in fact, at least some of these remarks, if not a large part of them, were actually based on some radio reports, that's not a very sound basis on which to start --
Q Nobody's seen it on a radar screen. I mean, those are the kinds of -- none of our military aircraft that supposedly patrol the airspace have seen moving blips on the radar screen?
MS. SHELLY: I just don't have that information. I mean, it might be that on this particular type of thing there might be some information on that that might reach the Pentagon before it would reach the State Department.
They've got the radar screens. There are a lot of things that happen on them. Sometimes it's very difficult to determine exactly what a particular blip on the screen is, and I'm sure that all of those who are involved in the UNPROFOR operation there are examining all this very carefully and any tracks particularly that they might be able to see on this with an attempt to then determine what it was which actually transpired.
But it's not just a quick look and a yes or no determination. It's been a more complicated process than that in order for them to responsibly be able to say what transpired.
Q Has there been a diplomatic effort to contact the leaders in Croatia and Serbia to find out -- to ask them if they conducted air strikes?
MS. SHELLY: I just don't have that information.
Q Could you take that, whether we --
MS. SHELLY: Sure, I'll be happy to --
Q -- have had diplomatic contacts on that point?
MS. SHELLY: I'll be happy to look into it.
Q The shipment of oil seems to have arrived in Haiti. I don't know that it's been off-loaded. Do you have any information about this?
MS. SHELLY: Yes. I have a little bit to update you on that. The tanker did arrive in Port-au-Prince during the early hours of this morning. Our Embassy down there reports that all appears to be proceeding smoothly with the off-loading of the fuel, which I understand was going to take a few more hours to complete.
We don't actually have monitors on the site, but we have been in very close contact with the Shell officials who have been involved in this.
Q Anything on the conference this weekend? I know you all sent out some information last night. Pezzullo is definitely going now?
MS. SHELLY: Yes, that's right. What I can just confirm is that Ambassador Pezzullo will travel to Miami today. He's representing the United States as one of the Four Friends. The Four Friends were asked to come down and to speak, to address the conference, and so he is addressing the conference -- I think it's on Saturday morning. Then after that he would be returning to Washington.
He'll be traveling with a couple of other U.S. officials, and the other members of the party who are traveling with him will actually remain down there for the rest of the conference as observers.
Q Is there anything you can say about army participation in this conference?
MS. SHELLY: I was hoping I might have something a little more definitive to say on that. We understand that in terms of the Haitian participation, that they've chartered an aircraft to bring participants from Haiti up to the conference. We still just don't have very much information about who exactly is attending, but we do understand that there are representatives from various institutions of the Haitian Government and from diverse political and social groups, as well as, I guess there's a good representation from the business community as well.
On the military, we're still kind of where we were yesterday, which is that, as you know, they were invited. They, I think, still have not pronounced themselves on their own plans for participation, so I don't have anything to add to that.
The Haitian Embassy might have more, might be able to give you a better indication. The only other information I really have on the participants is, as I mentioned, representatives from the Four Friends will attend, as well as representatives from the OAS and the United Nations.
Q Another subject: French Minister, Mr. Charles Pasqua, has rejected U.S. criticism over the release of two Iranians. He said, "I have no explanation to give the Americans." Do you have a reaction about this? And a second question: Pasqua said Washington has rejected French protest over the presence in the United States of an unnamed leader of Algeria's Islamic Salvation Front. Do you know who is this unnamed leader?
MS. SHELLY: I don't have any information on that with me. I'd be happy to take your question and see if we can post something on that.
Q Christine, in Gabon again yesterday there's reports that that same group of former presidential candidates were again blocked from boarding an Air France flight to come for consultations in Paris and Washington. Can you confirm that, and do you have any information or a statement on it?
MS. SHELLY: I don't have anything to add beyond what I had said before. You know that we issued a statement on this, and we said very clearly that we called upon the government to respect the provisions of their own constitution and to let the citizens in question leave.
I didn't have the information that this had happened a third time, so I'll be happy to --
MS. SHELLY: No. It happened on the 8th. It happened on the 11th. So yesterday, if it happened again, it was the third time. But I'll be happy to look into that and see if there's anything more to say.
Q Back on China, since Ambassador Roy's comments reflect Administration policy, would you be prepared to make available or make public a transcript of the interview?
MS. SHELLY: Sure, I'll look into that. I don't know what our policy is on that generally, but I'll be happy to see if we can do that.
Q The Yomiuri Shimbun newspaper in Japan reported yesterday that some Japanese companies may have violated the COCOM laws and exported -- sold some missile-related equipment to North Korea. Does the State Department have any information on that or reaction to that report?
MS. SHELLY: I haven't seen the report, so I'll be happy to look into it and see if we can give you something later this afternoon.
Q Thank you.
Q There's one in the back.
MS. SHELLY: Sorry.
Q The Organization of American States will elect their new Secretary General at the end of March. I would like to know what is the American position on the two main candidates, the Foreign Minister of Costa Rica and Foreign Minister of Venezuela? And my second question, is the U.S. behind efforts to recruit Colombian President to run as it's been reported?
MS. SHELLY: Also on that, I'm not instructed, so I'll take the question on that. I'm sure we can put something up this afternoon.
(###)To the top of this page