US DEPARTMENT OF STATE DAILY PRESS BRIEFING Wednesday, January 19, 1994 BRIEFER: Michael McCurry Subject Page RUSSIA Kozyrev Comments on Troop Withdrawals.............1 VIETNAM Cooperation with U.S., Upgrade in Relations, Lifting of Embargo..............................1-2,6 Resolution of POW/MIA Issue, Information..........2 BOSNIA-HERZEGOVINA Replacement of UNPROFOR Commander Gen. Cot........2 Lifting of Serbian Sanctions Contingent Upon Cooperation With War Crimes Tribunal...........3-4 Provision of Classified Reports to Tribunal.......4 Arms Fire at Relief Flight, Impact on U.S. Flights........................................4-5 HAITI Consultations of Four Friends.....................3 NORTH KOREA Status of Inspection Talks with IAEA..............3 U.S. Contacts.....................................3 SYRIA U.S. Talks on Support for Terrorism/PKK, Syrian Response................................5 TERRORISM U.S. List of Countries Supporting Terrorism.......5-6 (###)
DEPARTMENT OF STATE DAILY PRESS BRIEFING
WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 19, 1994, 12:39 P.M. (ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED)
MR. McCURRY: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. I don't have any major pronouncements to offer you today, so I'll take any questions you might have.
Q Have you gotten a clarification from the Russians about the comments yesterday of Mr. Kozyrev?
MR. McCURRY: We've heard from them, and think you probably have heard from them as well, that they believe that Foreign Minister Kozyrev's remarks were "distorted." That was a comment that was made today, I believe, by the Foreign Ministry press spokesman.
We welcome the clarification that they've given and the reaffirmation that Russia's policy toward the Baltic states remains unchanged. We, of course, will look at the full text of the remarks when we get them. I think we're attempting to get them, if we don't already have them. Again, I would stress that the Foreign Ministry is suggesting that the Minister's comments contained no shift in Russia's policy toward the Baltic states.
Q How do you expect to see the full text, or how are you finally going to make your analysis?
MR. McCURRY: I think that our Embassy has been in contact with the Foreign Ministry, and they're trying to get some additional information from senior Russian officials that will help us understand better exactly what the Foreign Minister said.
Q Another subject: There are increasing signals that the United States is about ready to move on Vietnam. Two questions: (1) Are you now satisfied with the cooperation you're getting from the Vietnamese Government; and (2) does it follow that the United States is now ready to upgrade relations?
MR. McCURRY: I'd start by stressing that there's been no decision on the question of the trade embargo. I think, as everyone knows, the President has stressed further progress in our bilateral relationship with Vietnam -- made that dependent on a full accounting of POW and MIA issues.
We would say that Vietnam has contributed to the progress that we made recently in attempting to understand and resolve cases. They have been cooperative when Assistant Secretary Lord was there most recently, and that is encouraging. But, again, I'd just say there's been no decision on the trade embargo, and obviously it's something that we'll continue to have under review.
Q You say a full clearing up of the MIA/POW. By its nature, if you're talking about some 2,000 cases listed potentially there, isn't that an impossibility?
MR. McCURRY: You have to be practical and realistic about that question. On the other hand, by continuing to hold to a very high standard the discussions we're having with Vietnam and the high standard that we, ourselves, use in the United States Government to evaluate the information we have, we can assure that everything possible will be done to achieve the most complete accounting that's humanly possible. I think that's certainly what the President's strongest interest is in.
We don't want to suggest that we'll just let some cases remain unresolved if there's anything humanly possible that can be done to resolve any of the cases that are still outstanding.
Q Have you gotten evidence to the contrary, in other words, from American veterans groups or other interested parties?
MR. McCURRY: I'm not sure what -- the team that's actually been working on these, I don't know what type of specific information they've gotten from some of the groups. I am aware of, and I think you're aware of, various statements they've made indicating that they believe that there might be more information that might be obtainable. Certainly we're interested, if there is that possibility, we're interested in pressing the Vietnamese as directly as we can to get the fullest possible accounting of the POWs and MIAs that are still outstanding.
Q Do you have anything on the replacement or removal of the UN commander in Bosnia?
MR. McCURRY: We don't. I believe I've seen a public statement from the Defense Ministry in France that suggests that when UNPROFOR is renewed at the end of March, it is their intention to replace General Cot with a French commander. I think that's all that we have seen on this at that point.
Q Do you have anything more on Haiti? Are consultations scheduled, and so forth?
MR. McCURRY: George, I checked to see have they scheduled a meeting of the Four Friends at this point, and I'm told as of the briefing time today, they have not. So we'll continue to check and see when they -- to recap where we were yesterday -- the Four Friends intend to meet to discuss how they will take the case for expanding sanctions to the United Nations. But that meeting apparently has not yet been scheduled yet, although it's expected to happen shortly.
Q How about on North Korea, any movement there?
MR. McCURRY: No. There continue to be talks -- discussions, I guess -- between the IAEA and the North Koreans on how to carry out the inspections, and we have obviously been watching that. But it's more appropriate, I think, for the IAEA to make commentary on how they're doing in those discussions.
Q Well, did you expect that it would sort of take this long to work out these details, or do you think that one party is obstructing the movement?
MR. McCURRY: No, I think given the difficulties that they've had in the past over inspections, the difficulties that occurred in August, it's not surprising that it's taken some time. But, of course, it can't take forever.
Q What do you mean by "forever"?
MR. McCURRY: I don't want to say how "ever" is forever, but at some point the IAEA does have to have those clarifications so that they can go make the inspections that are anticipated, and obviously we are anxious to see them conclude those arrangements.
Q Has the United States been in touch with the North Koreans during this process, or have you left it all to the IAEA?
MR. McCURRY: I don't know if we've had any contact in this period. I can check that. I don't think that we have. But if we have, we'll let you know. I don't think there has been any contact, though.
Q Could we go back to Bosnia for a second, Mike? Has the United States specifically informed the authorities in Belgrade that we will not support any move to relax or lift the U.N. sanctions unless the Yugoslav authorities cooperate fully with the War Crimes Tribunal?
MR. McCURRY: We've stressed on various parties the need to meet the commitments under the War Crimes Tribunal resolution. I don't know to what degree we've tied sanctions questions to that. Most of the discussions that have occurred relating to sanctions or lifting of sanctions have been in the context of the European Union's action plan which was "commended" at the time of the recent NATO leaders' meeting.
I just can't recall, off the top of my head, whether or not the War Crimes Tribunal resolution, or the resolution of the United Nations Security Council that established the Tribunal, suggested that cooperation was some trigger on lifting or removing sanctions. I don't know the answer. I'll look into that, though, and see.
Q Could you, to find out whether there was a specific demarche to the Serbs?
MR. McCURRY: I'll look into that. We have stressed in a variety contacts, not only with the parties in the former Yugoslavia, but also with others who might be in a position to assist the work of the Tribunal, the degree to which the United States attaches great importance to that question.
I think many of you know that our U.N. Representative, Madeleine Albright, raised this in many of her travels recently throughout and Eastern and Central Europe, including in Croatia, when she was in Zagreb.
Q And could you confirm that we have, in fact, given the Tribunal the classified portions of those reports that we prepare on human rights abuses?
MR. McCURRY: That's a very good question. I actually had some information on that the other day that I had meant to work up into something that I could share with you. I just didn't get that done, but I will look into that. I think that is my understanding, but I'll see if I can get some clarification. These are the reports that we have been producing routinely that we have now turned over to the Tribunal, now that the Tribunal has established its procedures and is getting organized.
Q Also on Bosnia, the other day a German C-130 involved in the airdrops was hit by small arms fire. Does that have any impact on U.S. flights? The Germans apparently have suspended theirs.
MR. McCURRY: It could. I think at the time the UNHCR did suspend some of the flights into Sarajevo until they had some assurance that safety would permit a return to flights.
I think there have been sporadic small arms fire. In fact, that has continued even today. I believe I saw something on the wire earlier indicating that. It does periodically interrupt air flights that are going into Sarajevo. Now, they still are getting a considerable amount of material and humanitarian relief into Sarajevo as a result of the airport's use. But from time to time, they do close it temporarily until they can establish that their security allows flights to go in and out without fire.
I've got some information if anyone is interested. There have been flights in on the 15th, 16th, 17th, 18th, and various quantities of foodstuffs were delivered.
Yesterday, on the German flight that was hit, there was a fuel tank on the aircraft that was pierced. There were no injuries reported, and that flight returned to Ancona in Italy. But as a result of that, Germany did temporarily suspend flight operations, as UNHCR has done itself in the past as a result of fighting in and around the airport.
Q Another subject?
MR. McCURRY: Yes, another subject.
Q After the Geneva meeting, where both President Clinton and Secretary of State Christopher -- they made it public they discussed with the Syrian President PKK Kurdish terrorism and other Middle East terrorism subject, did the Syrian side respond properly to the U.S. concern about the PKK terrorism and other Middle Eastern terrorism?
MR. McCURRY: I don't know how they responded specifically to that. I think you heard the President indicate on Sunday that he raised the activities of a number of groups, including the PKK that operates with some safehaven support within Syria. Clearly, our position has been that Syria must discontinue its support and safehaven for those organizations. That's a principal cause for their listing on the U.S. terrorism list. Obviously, you heard nothing as a result of the meeting on Sunday indicating that the United States intended to change the status of Syria on that list; so I think you can judge accordingly. I don't have details of during the meeting whether or not there was a specific response to the activities of the PKK; but I think, in general, you got some sense by the fact that the issue was raised, it was discussed. It's one of those areas in which there is some disagreement between the United States and Syria.
Q When does that list go to the Hill?
MR. McCURRY: Oh, Jim, I can't remember. It's annually reviewed. I think it's early in the year, so I'll check and see.
Q Isn't it the 20th or 21st of this month?
MR. McCURRY: It is, tomorrow. It's reviewed on an annual basis. It's usually in January, but I'll check and see if it's going up tomorrow.
Q And you will make it public when it goes up to the Hill?
MR. McCURRY: I think we are required to by law, but I'll double-check that.
Q Mike, going back to Vietnam, you said that Mr. Lord was there recently. The Vietnamese were cooperative. Does the degree and the nature of that cooperation lead you to believe that -- or is it sufficient that it is likely that that trade embargo will be lifted if a decision was made on evidence available today?
MR. McCURRY: The decision would be made by senior policymakers, and ultimately, I would think, by the President. The criteria that they would use in evaluating that decision are pretty much what we have said publicly all along. It would be the degree to which we sense that there is cooperation in reaching the fullest possible accounting of the POW/MIA cases.
How that will be judged by those who will make that decision when the decision is made is something I really have to leave to them. I don't have any way of giving you a heads up on where it's likely to go.
Q Thank you.
MR. McCURRY: Thank you.
(Press briefing concluded at 12:53 p.m.)
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