US DEPARTMENT OF STATE DAILY PRESS BRIEFING Wednesday, February 2, 1994 BRIEFER: Michael McCurry Subject Page ANNOUNCEMENTS Secretary to Open Briefing by Brian Atwood/ Richard Moose on Foreign Assistance Budget Tomorrow .............................. 1 Brian Atwood/Richard Moose to Testify at HFAC Tomorrow ..................................... 1 Background Briefing on Budget Expected on Saturday ..................................... 2-3 Secretary to Open Briefing by Lynn Davis/ Ambassador Johnston on Budget ................ 2 UK/IRELAND Joint Declaration of Principles/US Role ........ 3-4 US Visit by Gerry Adams/UK Reaction/US Relations 4-5 VIETNAM Prospects for Lifting Embargo/POWs/MIAs ........ 5-7 Secretary's Contacts with Counterpart .......... 8 CAMBODIA US Visa for Sin Song ........................... 8-9 NORTH KOREA Talks with IAEA re: Inspections................. 9-13 US Contacts .................................... 12 UKRAINE Trilateral Statement/Ratification of NPT/START I 13-14 FORMER YUGOSLAVIA Secretary's Meeting with Chancellor Kohl ....... 14-15 Secretary's Meeting with UK Foreign Secretary .. 15-17 Fighting/Reports of Serbian/Croatian Regulars... 16 Possible Sanctions Against Croatia ............. 16 US Support for Arms Embargo .................... 18-19 CHILE Compensation Talks with US re: Poison Grapes ... 19 MIDDLE EAST PEACE PROCESS Secretary's Meeting with Israeli FM ............ 19-20 Palestinians' Objectives re: State ............. 19-20 Jordan's Offer to Host Economic Talks .......... 21 SAUDI ARABIA Status of US Ambassador ........................ 22 DEPARTMENT Justice Will Not Prosecute Two Employees Who Read Bush Administration Personnel Files ..... 22-25 ADDITION Statement by Michael McCurry Clarifying Two Points from Today's Briefing ........................ 26 (###)
DEPARTMENT OF STATE DAILY PRESS BRIEFING
WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 2, 1994, 1:17 P. M. (ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED)
MR. McCURRY: Good afternoon, everybody. I'd like to start with one or two housekeeping announcements related to the budget and the briefing thereof, since this is budget time. But, more importantly, with the overall question of how you approach the restructuring of our foreign assistance programs, tomorrow, Secretary Christopher will be here just to start the briefing with a very short statement, and then turn the briefing over to AID Administrator Brian Atwood and Under Secretary for Management Dick Moose, so that they can walk through our formal submission of the Foreign Assistance Act rewrite, which will take place tomorrow.
Both Under Secretary Moose and AID Administrator Atwood will testify earlier in the morning tomorrow up on the Hill on that bill when it goes up formally tomorrow. But we did want them to be here and be available for you so you could follow up with some questions, if you had any.
Q Will they be ON THE RECORD?
MR. McCURRY: Yes.
Q What time is this?
MR. McCURRY: We'll do that at the time of our Daily Briefing.
Q And does this absolve you of the heavy responsibility of taking questions from the press?
MR. McCURRY: No. You know, I always take questions from the press all the time. We'll do this at 12:30 tomorrow. So we'll do it earlier than the normal Daily Briefing.
The hearing I mentioned will be before the House Foreign Affairs Committee tomorrow. The two of them will be testifying at 10:00 a.m. in Room 2172 of the Rayburn House Office Building, if anyone's interested in that.
Then over the course of the following days, we'll make available to you information about the FY-95 State Department budget. We're going to follow a practice consistent with other Departments. On Saturday we'll provide an embargoed briefing with some of the State Department numbers which you can then use in connection with stories on Monday at the time of the public release. We will follow the same rules on embargo that all the other federal agencies are following in connection with their briefings.
Then on Monday, February 7, the Secretary will be here to make a short statement at 12:30 again, to discuss our federal budget submission. He'll then be followed by Under Secretary Lynn Davis and Ambassador Larry Craig Johnston to talk about some of the aspects of our budget submission.
Q Is that an embargoed transmission?
MR. McCURRY: I'm not sure. I'll check with the White House to see what type of wire transmission embargo they've asked of Cabinet agencies for the Saturday briefings that are being conducted.
Why don't I propose this. This is not something customarily that the State Department does. We will post a signup sheet in the Press Office for that Saturday briefing, and, if there's not a sufficient interest on the part of the State Department press corps to have a formal briefing, I think what we'll do is make those folks available informally, so there won't be any obligatory sense of attending. But I think some people who have to file things in connection with the roundup on budget numbers on this coming Monday would at least appreciate an opportunity to go through some of the State Department numbers. So we'll try to make that available.
Q At what time on Saturday were you considering a briefing?
MR. McCURRY: Our plan right now is to do that at 10:00 a.m. if there's sufficient interest. And then, as I say, we'll post a signup sheet and depending on the numbers -- if there's a small number of people who are interested, we'll just try to handle it one on one through phone calls and run through some of the numbers.
Q Will Secretary Christopher take questions at either of his appearances on tomorrow or Monday?
MR. McCURRY: We'll see. I think in both cases he's actually squeezing this into the schedule in advance of other things that he's scheduled to do at 12:30. He's going to come here first, so he'll be on short -- he'll have a short amount of time in both cases. So I'm not sure he'll be able to take questions.
Q And I guess just for the record I ought to ask, is there any reason why -- if the material is going to be embargoed until Monday, why it couldn't be made available under those same conditions on Friday afternoon?
MR. McCURRY: My understanding is it will be ready and available Saturday morning. They're still working to put all that together. We'll see. Actually, if we have a way of making that available on Friday afternoon while people are still here, we can dispense with having people come in on Saturday.
Q The State Department budget is not traditionally a big newsmaker, but --
MR. McCURRY: I'm well aware of that.
Q Maybe it could be available on Friday afternoon.
MR. McCURRY: If we can make it available on Friday to what sounds like a very limited number of you who are interested in how we're spending the taxpayers' money, we will see if we can handle it on a one-on-one basis.
Q I think there are a lot of us, since you put that in the record, who would be interested if the State Department were planning to spend its money differently, but --
MR. McCURRY: Well, we are.
Q -- over the years the money is spent exactly the same way.
MR. McCURRY: That will be exactly the purpose of our briefing tomorrow is to tell you exactly how we are going to take the resources available to us and apply them to new priorities. So indeed the spending is very different than it has been in the past.
Okay, let's go on. Any questions that you'd like about events of today?
Q Well, I would like to ask about Adams and whether -- tell us, to the extent you can, how deeply or, if you want to get involved at all, the U.S. intends to be in the Irish question?
MR. McCURRY: I think that we intend to be fully supportive of the Governments of Great Britain and Ireland, which are attempting to address this question through the joint declaration of principles that the two Prime Ministers signed on December 15. We have told both governments and certainly reiterated to them on every occasion that we've had that we want to be fully supportive of the process that they have underway, and we've reiterated even yesterday in the Secretary's meeting with the Foreign Secretary our willingness to play any part that the parties deem to be to be helpful.
Q Well, that's not just a throw-away line, is it? I mean, would the U.S. be prepared to appoint a special mediator -- a special representative or even an ordinary representative?
MR. McCURRY: There's nothing new on that. The President has said before that the concept of a U.S. Special Envoy remains under consideration. That idea has been raised in the past, and we stand ready to contribute in that way if that is appropriate. But we at the moment are standing foursquare with the two parties who have signed this declaration and are attempting to move that process forward.
Q Mike, how do you assess the visit itself and the statements that Mr. Adams made during the visit in the light of the expectation that you, yourself, raised in advance?
MR. McCURRY: He's had many opportunities to speak to the American public. I'm not sure that I've had an opportunity to monitor all of them. I'm aware of some of his media appearances, certainly, and I've seen some press accounts of his remarks yesterday; and I think, as the White House indicated yesterday in the statement that they put out, we are now interested -- in addition to his words, interested in the deeds that will follow these words that will reflect a commitment on Mr. Adams' part to promote peace and to bring a troublesome era to an end.
He indicated that he has interest in that, and I think that we are interested now to see if he translates the words and the thoughts that he has expressed on his visit here in the United States into concrete action when he returns home.
Q Mike, I went back and looked at the statement that you issued on Thursday night, and you said in that statement -- and I'm quoting -- "after consulting with the Irish and British Governments, we have instructed our Embassy in Dublin to determine whether he will publicly renounce violence and support the joint declaration of peace in Northern Ireland."
In your view, were those two criteria met during this visit?
MR. McCURRY: I haven't looked at the entire bulk of what Mr. Adams has said. I've seen some of the accounts as reported. I know that there will be a transcript of the conference that he attended that will be available, and we'll certain look at that. But, as I would like to stress, we'll look at not only the words he's uttered upon his visit here but also in fact as importantly, his actions upon his return home.
Q Mike, it has been widely reported, particularly in Great Britain, that the British Government was furious, was very angry, and some British journalists are reporting that this is the end of the special relationship.
Would you care to give us an assessment as to the potential damage this has done to U.S.-British relations? I understand, for example, that Ambassador Seitz in London has been called in to the Foreign Office for some reason. There's some suggestion that it was for a protest. Can you tell us about that, too?
MR. McCURRY: I was not aware of that. I'll see what the British have to say about the purpose of that summons. But I think the gloomy assessment that you've heard from some sources in the British media is not an accurate characterization of the relationship. The relationship, I think, was accurately characterized by the Secretary of State yesterday with the obvious approval of the Foreign Secretary as being a special relationship that reflects the very unique understanding that these two countries have of each other, reflecting also the cooperation that we have on so many issues of importance globally.
I think it would not be satisfactory to suggest there was not concern raised by the British Government about the issuance of this visa, but I believe that was discussed in an atmosphere that reflects the warm relations we have with the Government of Britain.
Q Mike, has the United States decided to lift the trade embargo against Vietnam?
MR. McCURRY: The President of the United States answered that question this morning and said he has not made a decision, so that's the best answer you could possibly have.
Q And Secretary of State Christopher's recommendation.
MR. McCURRY: We don't normally discuss his recommendation, but I think it's clear that we feel that we have made some progress in moving towards the fullest possible accounting on the POW/MIA issue. I think that you've heard folks here in the Department since the return of Assistant Secretary Winston Lord from Vietnam to describe some of the progress that we feel has been made on that issue, and I think that our review of that issue is certainly consistent with the report that we had from Assistant Secretary Lord.
Q What are the prospects for opening any kind of an office beyond the one that already exists in Hanoi with three U.S. officials?
MR. McCURRY: The only question I'm aware that's being addressed at the moment is the issue of the trade embargo. I haven't seen anything that indicates to me that they're looking at other issues. This may be my own ignorance.
Q Does Secretary Christopher now plan to include Vietnam in the itinerary for his Far East trip?
MR. McCURRY: I don't think we've announced any trip to the Far East.
Q Does he plan to include Vietnam in his planned trip to the Far East?
MR. McCURRY: If he plans to go? I don't know. I don't know the answer to that. We'll let you know details on his travel schedule as we have them and as we can make them available.
Q Mike, I mean, if you're not considering restoring full diplomatic relations with Vietnam at this time, at what point in the future might you move in that direction? I mean, you must have some idea how long it would take to get there.
MR. McCURRY: I don't have any idea.
Q I mean, are there specific criteria for moving to that point as you had for lifting the embargo?
MR. McCURRY: I think the only question I'm aware of that's under consideration and discussion now and that the President indicated he's reviewing is the question of the trade embargo itself. Future questions about normalizing relations or moving to some different configuration for offices, as Ralph's question suggests, is something I just don't think they're at a point where they're considering those issues yet.
I will check and see if my understanding is incorrect, but I think the question they've been focused on is a question of the embargo and whether or not there's been progress on the issue of accounting for POWs and MIAs that would warrant some new step. And, as I say, I think that you're all aware of the criteria that the President has set down on the POW/MIA issue relating to four areas and specifically where we wanted to see progress, and I think we are satisfied that we've made some concrete progress in each of those four areas over the past year.
Q Can I just follow up. As you explore that issue of diplomatic relations, though, or go and try to seek the answers, would you look to what, if any, specific criteria the United States would establish to get to that point?
MR. McCURRY: As I say, I am not aware that any specific criteria has been established. I don't think that's a question that anyone has examined. They have looked at the issue of the trade embargo. They've thought through what are some of the other questions that might be addressed, but I'm not aware that they've addressed those in any specificity.
Q Could you give us an idea about the thinking, and so forth, on holding back on diplomatic relations? And in other areas like between Syria and Israel, when you talk about normal relations, everybody's talking about business, exchange of embassies, etc. Are you holding this back as a last point of leverage, or what's the thinking? Why are normal relations something that they can't have now?
MR. McCURRY: I think you're trying to jump ahead. You've sort of satisfied yourself one story's over, so you're moving on to the next story.
Q No, but (inaudible).
MR. McCURRY: One story's not over yet. The President hasn't made a decision about lifting an arms embargo, which is the only question pending at the moment.
Q Trade embargo.
MR. McCURRY: Trade embargo.
Q So why are they being dealt with separately? I don't understand.
MR. McCURRY: Because the issue that's before the United States Government that's been under review involves the trade embargo. It's not the question of normalizing relations.
Q Mike, when the United States set out a policy toward Cambodia, there was a roadmap, a very specific delineated roadmap, that made it possible for everyone to judge progress, including the country that was being most affected.
It seems unusual that serious policymakers who presumably look at a total context of a policy would only sort of look at Vietnam up to the point of lifting the trade embargo and not consider total relations.
MR. McCURRY: You're misinterpreting what I said. It's not that we have not looked at those questions and thought about them; it's that we have not set forth specific criteria -- that was your question earlier -- about how you would judge progress towards normalizing relations.
I think what we are looking at right now is a very specific question involving first and foremost what type of progress has there been on the POW/MIA issue, and then is this a time the arguments warrant lifting a trade embargo. And those are questions that the President is examining now. I'm not aware that he's examining any other recommendations that have been put before him.
Now, do policymakers think through other types of issues? Well, of course. I mean, that's what they do.
Q Has that recommendation been put before him?
MR. McCURRY: The recommendation concerning the trade embargo?
Q To normalize relations.
MR. McCURRY: Not that I'm aware of. I think he indicated today he's looking at the question of the trade embargo and expects to make a decision in several days, I believe he said. The President was pretty clear on that.
Q Has the Secretary been in touch recently with his Vietnamese counterpart? When was the last time the Secretary --
MR. McCURRY: I don't know.
Q Could you take that question, please?
MR. McCURRY: I'll see the last time, if any, that the Secretary has had any contact at that level.
Q Mr. McCurry, my question doesn't concern Vietnam but concerns Cambodia. Are you or someone on your staff aware of the Sin Song affair?
MR. McCURRY: I saw a little bit about that today --
Q In the Post this morning?
MR. McCURRY: -- and have looked into it today.
Q Yes. The Spokesman for Senator Heflin who ostensibly invited the ex-National Security Minister -- he said that their office had put in a request with the State Department asking that a visa be granted. Would there have been any reason to deny Mr. Sin Song a visa?
MR. McCURRY: Why don't I review what happened. Sin Song was issued a B-1 temporary visa --
Q What's that mean?
MR. McCURRY: It's a temporary --
Q Forty-eight hours?
MR. McCURRY: I think it's a one-entry visa -- it's standard practice. I think it's valid for one entry. I'm not sure what type of duration it has. But in any event it's reciprocal and reflects a similar type of visa extended by Cambodia to Americans.
His request was reviewed very, very carefully by the Department in consultation with other interested agencies in the federal government. The Department determined that based on all the available evidence, Sin Song did not fall under any of the visa ineligibilities set forth in our immigration law.
Q Despite his record on human rights?
MR. McCURRY: He said the available evidence -- a question that they looked at very carefully. They have to make these judgment based on evidentiary standards under U.S. law, but based on available evidence there were no grounds upon which the United States could declare him ineligible for a visa.
Q Finally, did Heflin's office make that request with the State Department? Can you confirm that?
MR. McCURRY: My understanding is that Senator Heflin did not call personally, but I believe that a member of his staff did make an inquiry on behalf of the organizers of the National Prayer Breakfast. We made sure, of course, that the National Prayer Breakfast organizers were aware of some of the issues that you suggest in your question concerning human rights and other issues, and they indicated that they were aware of those allegations.
Q Mike, still on Asia, do you have anything to say about North Korea's flurry of protest in recent days over the Patriot shipment issue or on the current status of talks with the IAEA -- progress, if any?
MR. McCURRY: Let me review just a little bit where we are in those discussions. I think both President Clinton and President Kim have made it clear that North Korea must accept IAEA inspections that are necessary at this point to determine whether there's been a continuity of safeguards. They also continue to say that they must open talks with South Korea on the nuclear issue more broadly defined.
We've made it clear to North Korea that it is the IAEA that decides that inspections are necessary to maintain the continuity of safeguards, and that is an issue that is now between North Korea and the IAEA. We have been absolutely consistent in stating that it is only the IAEA that can determine the necessary scope of inspections. That is not within the purview of the United States Government.
The North Koreans and the IAEA, I think, as you know have been discussing the scope of inspections since early January. The recent statements by North Korea, charging that we are somehow using the nuclear issue as a pretext to crush North Korea is just frankly ridiculous.
On the contrary, we are willing to enter into broad and thorough talks with North Korea to resolve the nuclear issue and establish the basis for improved economic and political relations. North Korea can participate more fully in the international community if it resolves the nuclear issue. That would suggest, of course, that we cannot begin a third round of talks with North Korea until the IAEA is assured that the continuity of safeguards has not been broken in North Korea and until North Korea is engaged in serious discussions with the South on the nuclear issue.
Q What is your understanding of the status of the talks? Are they reaching agreement on the kind of inspections?
MR. McCURRY: I am not aware of anything contrary to what I think I've seen Mr. Kidd of the IAEA say publicly in recent days but they are not making much progress in those discussions.
Q Mike, what has gone wrong with North Korea since Lynn Davis stood up there and told us that she had firm reason to believe that North Korea had agreed to the inspections of the seven declared sites?
MR. McCURRY: They have not resolved the question of how to conduct the inspections with the IAEA.
Q And what's the status of the exercises -- U.S.-South Korean military exercises?
MR. McCURRY: There has been no final decision on that. Planning continues concerning the exercise.
Q When would the planning stop and the exercises begin or are you saying that the dates of the exercises have been put off indefinitely, pending the outcome of these negotiations?
MR. McCURRY: No. I frankly don't know at what point they would normally schedule the exercise. I can check with the Pentagon on that, but at some point obviously the planning ends and they begin preparing for the exercise itself. I don't know at what point this calendar year that would occur.
Q The North Koreans seem to suggest in their statement that they want the United States to get involved in follow-on discussions, assuming that they're able to work out the continuity of safeguards in follow-on discussions as to what sort of continuing inspections will take place. Is the United States willing to do that?
MR. McCURRY: That's why we've maintained over and over again and tried to make abundantly clear that the IAEA is the agency responsible for determining the necessary inspections for both continuity of safeguards and then beyond that for assuring full-scope safeguards, as they are with every other country in the world. There's nothing unique about this situation. It happens to be the requirements of the agency itself, and it's the requirements that we abide by as the United States.
Q So the United States does not feel called upon to get involved in discussions for full-scope safeguards?
MR. McCURRY: At the moment that's not the issue, Bud. The issue is the continuity of safeguards and what inspections are required by the IAEA to satisfy that there has been continuity of safeguards, and that is not an issue of which we have either the technical expertise or the authority to enter into those discussions. Those are discussions that must occur between an adherent country and the agency itself. We have no part to play in that discussion.
Q But doesn't the U.S. have a part to play, for example, in the same sort of discussions between Iraq and the IAEA over the extent of inspections in Iraq on both nuclear and other mass destruction weapons?
MR. McCURRY: We've discussed it in the context of other U.N. Security Council members but not the technical requirements necessary by the IAEA. That's one of the reasons why the agency itself handles those questions, it's my understanding.
Q Mike, you sort of give the throw-away answer and then shuffle it all off to the IAEA, but at least in my mind there's serious credibility questions here. I'm just not sure whether it's Lynn Davis' in the State Department or whether it's North Korea's.
Does the Administration feel that it was misled -- that Lynn Davis was misled by the North Koreans, or is she misleading us?
MR. McCURRY: I think I find the question objectionable. The Under Secretary was very clear in stating when she was here at this podium that our understanding that there has been an agreement in principle on behalf of North Korea to satisfactorily resolve the question of inspections, and it is surprising that it has taken this long to resolve those questions.
Q Mike, in this interim period, have there been any contacts between the United States and North Korea on any level?
MR. McCURRY: Not that I am aware of. I'll see if I can find out if there have been contacts. I assume you mean similar to those contacts we've had recently --
Q On any level actually. At the U.N. or anywhere.
MR. McCURRY: I will check further on that.
Q And one more on that. Do you find Pyongyang's statements about -- re-statements about pulling out of the NPT any more ominous? There are some people who seem to feel that they're increasingly ominous.
MR. McCURRY: I didn't characterize them that way, but they are provocative, obviously.
Q Mike, the question of continuity of safeguards, it seems to me, is becoming a flexible concept. In fact, it's a very definite concept. We heard six months ago that there were problems about batteries running out, about tapes being exchanged. Could you get for us some guidance as to the situation of that monitoring, because it seems to me that you can't stand there and remain ambiguous about whether this continuity --
MR. McCURRY: I'm not ambiguous in any event. I'm telling you that the judgment of how safeguards are protected and what the level of continuity is and whether there's been damage to the safeguards is something that is a technical judgment made by the IAEA. That is not a thing for me to stand here and proclaim. That is a thing for you to go ask the IAEA to give you an opinion, so I'd refer you to them.
Q It seems to me that the North Koreans are strongly threatening once again to pull out of the NPT, which prompted the United States a year ago to begin to talk to the North Koreans in the hopes that they could be talked back into the organization or into being signatory.
Is it our intention now simply to wait until the IAEA holds its meeting, which I think is the 22nd of February, and to decide whether or not safeguards are or are not still effective? Or are we planning to do some other thing, such as try to conduct another meeting or whatever?
MR. McCURRY: I think what we've indicated to you is that the IAEA is the one that judges continuity of safeguards. They can declare at any point. If they feel there's been a break in that continuity, they can so declare, and then there are things that we have suggested at that point that we would do.
Separately from that, there is a diplomatic path that we're obviously pursuing here, but that is not an endless path. I wouldn't want to suggest at this point what might happen if we decided we've reached the end of that diplomatic path.
Q Mike, there was a report today -- I forget which paper -- that said that the commander in the theater had also requested some Apache attack helicopters in South Korea.
MR. McCURRY: That General Luck had requested that? I'm not aware of that. I'd suggest you check at the Pentagon on that.
Q That gives a segue, Barrie, thank you very much. Speaking of pulling out of the NPT, do you have any comments about the suggestions from Ukraine that perhaps Ukraine's commitment on complying with the NPT might be delayed pending election of the new Rada?
MR. McCURRY: I think what I have sort of contrary to that, there have been frankly some encouraging reports from Ukraine from parliamentary leaders that they see a growing support within the Rada itself for approval of the trilateral statement and eventually ratification of both the NPT and the START I agreement.
I think that we're encouraged by those reports. We think that many of the things that are being said by some of the parliamentary leaders reflect some level of approval of the documents that were negotiated in Moscow, which is important
But, obviously, the sooner that those documents are ratified, the better. If that has to await the elections next month, that's a judgment, of course, that the parliamentary leaders themselves will make.
Q But I thought that at the time the President signed the agreement with the Presidents of Ukraine and Russia, that the U.S. was assuming there was no relation, no connection, to ratification or anything of that sort; that they were taking it on Kravchuk's word that he was able to make that commitment.
MR. McCURRY: Oh, that is absolutely true, but obviously it would be even more positive if they went through and did an unconditional ratification of both documents. I mean, they have ratified it. It was on the basis of their earlier ratification in November of the NPT that this agreement moved ahead, and that the President of Ukraine negotiated on behalf of Ukraine a deal which we think really is in the best interests of Ukraine, let alone the rest of the world community. Now, how they move through a process of ratifying NPT unconditionally is an issue that clearly this Rada has been addressing and it looks like it might be addressed by the next Rada.
I would direct you to some fairly encouraging things that some of the parliamentary leaders that Secretary Christopher met with in Kiev, for example, have said in recent days on that exact issue.
Q Have the talks in the past couple of days with Foreign Secretary Hurd and Chancellor Kohl advanced the cause of the common purpose of the NATO countries in terms of Bosnia at all?
MR. McCURRY: Yes.
MR. McCURRY: By advancing the sense that there should be a common purpose as we attempt to address this issue. I would say also, as the Secretary said yesterday, clearly a common view -- a common understanding, I think, of three important things:
One, that the solution to this crisis will not be found on the battlefield; it will be found at the negotiating table. It's something where I think there is broad agreement.
Two, that there does need to be close cooperation between allies, as we look at the diplomatic efforts that have been underway, and that we do need to work to reinvigorate the diplomatic dialogue that has occurred.
And, three, that you cannot impose settlements on warring parties absent their assent.
I think on three of those points there has been a convergence of views that's been very helpful in recent days.
Q Could I just follow? Isn't there a contradiction or an inherent contradiction between point number one and point number three -- that if a solution can't be imposed on the parties, but it has to be done at the negotiating table rather than the battlefield, if the warring parties don't want to come to the negotiating table, they're going to settle it out on the battlefield, isn't the only alternative for the outside world to try to impose, or at least bring pressure?
MR. McCURRY: No, that's not the only alternative. I can think of a number of other alternatives, but the best alternative is to have the parties agree among themselves that they need to implement an agreement and have that be the result of negotiations between them, assisted by the international community.
Q Well, specifically, then, is the United States moving closer toward the idea of some sort of Foreign Ministers conference which would set a pattern for that?
MR. McCURRY: Well, I'm not aware of that. The Secretary indicated yesterday, following his discussions with the Foreign Secretary, that it was important to stay in close contact with the British, and obviously others as well, as we talk about reinvigorating the diplomatic process. I think that they, frankly, haven't settled on what is the best way to do that, but I think they agreed that there did need to be an effort to look at where we are in trying to achieve a political settlement and what can be done to try to stimulate that process. That's certainly discussions they will have over the next several days, I think.
Q Could you try to clear up a point for us? Foreign Secretary Hurd, when he was here yesterday, in answer to a question, seemed to be under the apprehension or perhaps misapprehension that the French had never suggested imposing a solution on the situation in Bosnia. Yet ten days ago, when we were in Paris, the Secretary used the phrase "impose." A State Department official, who briefed reporters, used the phrase "impose" at least a dozen times in describing what the French wanted.
Who has been misled here -- the Foreign Secretary or the press?
MR. McCURRY: I don't know, but I can tell you that we wouldn't change a thing that we said in the context of the briefing on the meetings that we had in Paris. I don't want to go over ground that we've covered before. There's really nothing new.
Q I realize you're not the Foreign Secretary's spokesman, but why do you suppose Mr. Hurd feels that there was no attempt to impose a solution?
MR. McCURRY: I have no idea.
Q Mike, a moment ago you said that they'll be talking over the several days about how to invigorate -- how to reinvigorate the diplomatic process. They've obviously had a series of talks now. They've talked -- the French, the British, the Germans have all talked about this now.
Can't we conclude now that they've had their talks and have been unable to find a way to reinvigorate the diplomatic process, or are you telling us that despite being unable to find one, they're going to keep trying and they just don't have any ideas?
MR. McCURRY: I'd put it in the "still looking" department; still seeking.
Q Still looking while still fighting?
MR. McCURRY: Still seeking.
Q Do you have any update on incursions by JNA or regular Croat forces into Bosnia?
MR. McCURRY: Nothing new. I saw -- many of you may have seen Tony Lake's interview on CNN where I think he commented at some length on that. I don't have anything newer than the information he gave in that interview -- that we do have some evidence of operation by HVO units. What it means and what is the significance of the deployment is still something that we're trying to understand more about.
Q Is the United States prepared to follow up on Ambassador Albright's threat and seek sanctions against Croatia?
MR. McCURRY: Yes. We are prepared to follow up. We are trying to find out more. I wouldn't want to suggest that's something that she's in the process of doing today. But we are prepared to follow through on the things that she indicated to President Tudjman. I don't want to speculate on when.
I would say that one thing we're trying to do is understand more about the operation of those units inside Bosnia.
Q To get back to the diplomatic discussion -- if I missed this, I apologize -- there was reporting today to the extent that the United States in its conversations with Hurd yesterday, rebuffed a British effort to try to get the United States directly involved in the negotiations. Is this accurate?
MR. McCURRY: No.
Q Which part of it is inaccurate?
MR. McCURRY: The word "rebuff."
Q The British asked --
MR. McCURRY: I just went through this whole thing at some length. I just characterized for you where we are on that.
Q I'm sorry, can I just follow up on this? Excuse me. Did the British ask the United States to get more actively, directly involved in the negotiations?
MR. McCURRY: I have just gone through at great length describing to you where things stand on that. I don't have anything more to add.
Q I don't think you answered that specific question, though.
MR. McCURRY: I think I did. I just covered all that.
Q No, I don't think you did, Mike. The transcript will show what you covered and what you didn't cover.
MR. McCURRY: What's the question?
Q The question is: Did the British ask the United States to become directly involved in the negotiation process on Bosnia? You talked about --
MR. McCURRY: I think they talked --
Q -- looking over the next few days for ways to reinvigorate the process. That's not the same question.
MR. McCURRY: They discussed ways in which the United States might be involved in helping to reinvigorate the discussion, yes.
Q What's the status of the U.S. envoy?
MR. McCURRY: I'm sorry, what's the question?
Q What's the status of the U.S. envoy to those negotiations?
MR. McCURRY: Ambassador Redman has been there as an observer in each of the sessions that they've had recently and will be there again on February 10, when I believe they resume.
Q Hurd said that -- he said on the record -- he asked the United States to play an active role. I know of at least two news organizations that are totally contrary assessments of what the U.S.'s answer is.
The U.S. said we will keep in touch. I take that to mean you are entertaining it. The Washington Post takes it as a rebuff, as a throwaway line -- "we'll keep in touch; see you later, alligator." That's what Carol is driving at.
Is the U.S. weighing the possibility of assuming an active role instead of looking to the Europeans to take the lead?
MR. McCURRY: I vote for your interpretation, Barry.
Q Thank you.
MR. McCURRY: You're welcome.
Q Along those same lines, but on a parallel path, there was a demonstration yesterday at the White House, which included one of your illustrious predecessors --
MR. McCURRY: I saw him interviewed.
Q -- plus a couple members of Congress. They suggest that one way to do it, to back up the talk, would be to lift the arms embargo. Are there any second thoughts about that in this government?
MR. McCURRY: I think there have been many second thoughts about that. Whether, at this point last May, that path, which was our preferred option, had prevailed, what difference that might have made in the situation we're in today in Bosnia? But, frankly, that's just kind of a devil's exercise to speculate on what might have been different. I don't think it's useful to engage in "what have beens" at this point.
Q Mike, it's actually being widely reported that the Muslims have somehow managed to get a new infusion of weapons. First of all, does the United States have any hard evidence to that effect? Secondly, has the United States either directly or indirectly encouraged anyone else to help the Muslims out with additional armaments?
MR. McCURRY: This question got addressed at some length at the Pentagon briefing yesterday. I looked at the transcript of that. I frankly don't have anything to add to what Kathleen (DeLaski) said yesterday. That's pretty much what our understanding is. I will try to get some more information on what we think is the current level.
She suggested, for those of you who didn't see her remarks, that there's a great deal of weaponry that was available within the former Yugoslavia upon the break-up of the former Yugoslavia, and that that accounts for some high proportion of the munitions that are available to the warring parties.
Q Serbia got most of those. The Muslims, evidently, have a new infusion of weapons.
MR. McCURRY: I just don't have anything on that that I'm prepared to share.
Q Mike, can you deny, though, that the United States has played -- answering the second part of Barrie's question --
MR. McCURRY: On the second part of the question, yes, I can certainly deny -- we are acting consistent with the U.N.-ordered arms embargo.
Q The United States has not encouraged anyone else to supply weapons --
MR. McCURRY: That would be contrary to an existing United Nations Security Council resolution. It goes without saying that the United States would not take action contrary to a resolution of the U.N.
Q You know, United States history demonstrates that it doesn't necessarily go without saying, so we have to ask those questions.
MR. McCURRY: If I needed to say it, I've now said it.
Q A brief question on Latin America. Yesterday, there was a (inaudible) meeting between the two group negotiations from the U.S. and Chile to settle the case of the poison grapes. I understand the negotiations are pretty close to being closed.
I would like to know what kind of compensation is planning for the U.S. to give to Chile? And if that kind of compensation in any degree assess any kind of responsibility from the U.S. Government in the case?
MR. McCURRY: I am a total blank slate on that question, so I'll have to check further and see if we can find something out. I follow a lot of things but I have not followed that issue. We'll try to find some more and we'll take the question and see if we can prepare some answer for you.
Q On a different topic -- the Middle East?
MR. McCURRY: Yes.
Q Have you all had a chance to digest Shimon Peres' comments this morning that Israel --
MR. McCURRY: I've had a kind of truncated account of what he said. Everyone said it sounds very much like what -- the sentiments that he expressed are almost identical to the sentiments that he shared with the Secretary yesterday. But if you've got a specific point --
Q That's my question. Did he also tell the Secretary yesterday that the PLO Chairman no longer wants a Palestinian state but a confederation with Jordan as the final solution to --
MR. McCURRY: I don't want to get into -- that's, clearly, a question that's at the heart of the discussion going on between the PLO and Israel at this moment. I'm refraining from commenting on that. I'll just suggest, in a general way, that the sentiments he shared with you publicly are very similar to what he and the Secretary have covered.
Obviously when the two Ministers meet, they talk of things in much greater detail than that. There's much of that that I'm not in a position to share.
Q Since you had the dialogue with the PLO, has the U.S., as the co-sponsor and for other reasons -- interest in peace and all these other things you're interested in -- has the U.S. approached the PLO to ask them if they've suddenly abandoned their interest in a state, which is rather hard to believe?
MR. McCURRY: There's nothing to change what we've suggested in the past -- our view and our attitude toward the discussions underway directly between the PLO and Israel on implementing the declaration. I don't have anything new.
Q So the U.S. isn't -- actually, what Peres said is -- he quoted them as not wanting a separate state. That's a little cute. That doesn't eliminate the possibility of a state in confederation with Jordon.
The U.S. isn't trying to find out what Arafat has in mind?
MR. McCURRY: I don't wish to try to interpolate his remarks.
Q I really wouldn't ask you to. It's trouble enough. We couldn't get it and there are too many retired scholars around. I thought the U.S. --
MR. McCURRY: Too many current learned experts.
Q Yes, very learned. Some make speeches. But the point is that the U.S., as a co-sponsor, I would think would want to at least know what the objective of the various parties are. So I'm asking if the U.S. knows whether Arafat no longer wants a Palestinian state?
MR. McCURRY: I think those are two different questions. Do we know what the objectives of the parties are as they engage in the discussions? I think we do have a good understanding of that because we meet with them regularly. We understand where they are in the process. We understand the issues that they're dealing with.
The second question is: Whether we would understand exactly what is on the Chairman's mind? I don't know that I'd want to suggest that.
Q On another matter that Peres spoke about -- I think one of the other things he said was that Jordan had offered to host a meeting of the economic commission or committee -- whatever they call it -- which was a trilateral thing, as I recall. Has the United States received an offer from Jordon to host a three-way economic commission meeting with Israel?
MR. McCURRY: Ralph, I don't know that. I know that we have participated in formal trilateral economic committee sessions with both Israel and Jordan in the past. I think that's obviously encouraging, if they've indicated they want to host. I'll check further on that.
Q It would be encouraging. The question is: Has the United States received such an offer from Jordan?
MR. McCURRY: I'll have to check on that.
Q Can I raise another question here? Does the State Department have any reaction to the reports that the Justice Department has decided not to prosecute the two State Department officials who were fired for looking at former Bush State Department employee files?
MR. McCURRY: I've got a little --
Q Also, additional reports that the Inspector General, Mr. Funk, is very unhappy at the Justice Department for having come to this conclusion?
MR. McCURRY: Let me get into that in a second. Was there any more on the Middle East?
Q A quick one. A report shortly before briefing time --
MR. McCURRY: On Egypt?
Q -- an Islamic group in Cairo?
MR. McCURRY: We saw that report. Our understanding is that our Bureau of Consular Affairs is examining that to see if that raises issues that we ought to immediately direct to the American community in Egypt. We are already under a fairly extensive series of warnings and advisories to that community. So I think they're well aware of the threats that do exist.
I will certainly keep you posted and keep the public posted if there's any change in our assessments based on the statement by the Islamic group today.
Q Another one on the Middle East?
MR. McCURRY: Yes.
Q The Washington Post today reported that Saudi Arabia turned down the request by the United States to appoint Ambassador Edward Gnehm as a new Ambassador because of his pro-democracy and human rights position in Kuwait. Would you care to comment?
MR. McCURRY: I really don't have anything for you on that. I've seen that report. There's obviously been some discussion about the status of the Ambassador. It's important to fill that post as it is many posts. This one is a sensitive and key post in the region. Much of that is in the province of the White House because it is the President who appoints Ambassadors. I don't have anything new from the White House that I can share on that.
Q Can you just confirm that they turned down Ambassador Gnehm?
MR. McCURRY: I can't. I don't know that that is, in fact, the case.
Q The State Department receives the agrement, I think, doesn't it?
MR. McCURRY: Right. That's why I'm saying --
Q So it's not a White House matter at that level?
MR. McCURRY: I don't know for a fact that agrement was denied by the Saudi Government.
Q Could you take that question?
MR. McCURRY: I will take it. I doubt -- I'll take it. I'll take it and we'll try our best to get an answer. I wouldn't be totally hopeful that we would get an answer.
Q He's a very upbeat guy -- Skip Gnehm.
MR. McCURRY: He's a very good guy; a skilled diplomat.
Let's go on the other issue. Barrie, back to your question?
Q I wanted, first of all, to know if you had any reaction to these reports that the Justice Department is not going to prosecute these two gentlemen who were fired?
MR. McCURRY: I believe that is a fact. The Department of Justice so informed the Inspector General of that by letter on January 28.
Q What about the reports that Inspector General Funk is very unhappy with this conclusion?
MR. McCURRY: I would suggest you call the Inspector General and ask him that. He will tell you as he told me this morning that he hotly disputes that contention. He told me he was not surprised. He's obviously been in close contact with the Justice Department on this matter since it was referred.
Q What does he dispute? The contention that he's upset?
MR. McCURRY: That he was surprised, or that he was upset.
Q He doesn't hotly dispute the Justice Department's determination?
MR. McCURRY: No, no, no. Absolutely not. The Justice Department has indicated to the Department in a letter that it does not intend to prosecute those two individuals.
I think as you know, we indicated at the time this matter was referred to the Justice Department that at any point they declined prosecution, we would then begin a series of public consultations on this. The Inspector General has been on the Hill today. As we said, he will first brief members of Congress and then brief members of the media.
I think that he has a fairly lengthy summary of the administrative report that he has now sent to the Secretary, which he will be making available to you -- it might even be available by now -- which we can make available through the Press Office. This would be his summary of his findings as reflected in the administrative report that he has sent to the Secretary.
Q I just want to clarify something, Mike. He is disputing the report that he is angry? Or he is disputing the report that he believes that there ought to have been prosecutions?
MR. McCURRY: The report was that he was surprised by the decision of the Justice Department. He said that wasn't true. He indicated to me there were a lot of other things in the Washington Times story that were not true. I think he is certainly clarifying his views up on the Hill today.
Q Setting this thing aside for the moment, the question of whether he's surprised or not, does he agree with the conclusion reached by the Justice Department?
MR. McCURRY: I don't know whether he agrees or disagrees, because I don't think he took a position on that. When he referred this for prosecutive review by the Department, he said here are facts that were determined in our review of this matter. He turned it to the Justice Department. I don't know that the Inspector General had a view one way or another on whether there should be prosecution.
Q (Inaudible) for prosecution? Isn't that the process?
MR. McCURRY: It was referred to prosecutive review. The Department of Justice makes the decision on whether or not there's prosecution.
Q Does this include -- does his report include other people who were not originally named as possible indictees, such as former Secretary Baker or Margaret Tutwiler or Mullins?
MR. McCURRY: Does his report cover those issues? No. The Inspector General's report covers those things related to the examination of certain files that had been in the possession of the White House Liaison Office here at the State Department. That's solely directed to those questions.
Q Does the Justice Department's decision in this matter, in the case of these two individuals, now come back to the Secretary of State for either additional action on his part or perhaps would he even consider, or would he be required to consider reversal of his decision to fire those two people?
MR. McCURRY: The matter would return -- remember what had happened. At the time that the Inspector General completed his report on this matter and forwarded it to the Department of Justice, the Inspector General did brief orally the Secretary. On the basis of that briefing, the Secretary lost confidence in two employees that he then dismissed.
The administrative report, which has now been given to the Secretary in writing, covers the full scope of the examination of this question by the Inspector General. It makes some recommendations administratively of things that should be done here at the Department in terms of management. I think it also makes some recommendations in terms of disciplinary action.
Because the same Privacy Act restrictions apply, I can't get into a lot of the discussion of who is covered by the report itself. I think some of that -- it becomes pretty clear if you look through the Executive Summary that the Inspector General will make available. But I will say that there is certainly nothing within the report itself of the Inspector General that contradicts the information that the Inspector General gave the Secretary when they reviewed this matter on November 9, that there was no senior official in the Department involved in any way in the episode.
Q You wouldn't expect it to contradict, because it's technically the same report. One was given orally and one was given in writing.
MR. McCURRY: True.
Q But what may be significant is the Justice Department having concluded that there's no enough evidence -- or for whatever reason -- not to prosecute these individuals, is the Secretary either required or voluntarily having any second thoughts? Now having read this report, is he saying to himself, "Gee, I lost confidence too quickly," or something like that? Is he reviewing the case with an eye to perhaps reinstating the individuals?
MR. McCURRY: I think, Ralph, that's a good question. The answer is, no, he's not having any second thoughts. He lost confidence in these two individuals not based solely on information that was then sent to the Justice Department.
His understanding of the facts as presented to him by the Inspector General caused him to lose confidence in these two individuals for a number of reasons. I don't think anything about the Justice Department review of the matter would have changed that decision one way or another.
Q In terms of a State Department administrative matter, as far as these two individuals go, it's over. Do they have any recourse?
MR. McCURRY: I don't know the answer to that. I don't believe that those two individuals disputed their dismissal. I'm not aware they disputed their dismissal. I can check on that and make sure that's true.
Q Is lack of confidence grounds for dismissal from the State Department?
MR. McCURRY: It is for Schedule C political appointees who must serve at the confidence of their superiors. It is grounds for dismissal under statute, yes.
Q Did the lengthy report, which the Secretary has either now read or will read shortly, implicate any others with whom he works in ways that he's now discovered that he didn't know about before, such as those who work very closely with the two individuals who were fired?
MR. McCURRY: I would say the answer, no, there was nothing in the document itself that would suggest -- again, to reiterate -- nothing that suggests that senior officials at the Department with whom the Secretary interacts most frequently on a daily basis were involved in this matter, as I think you will see is clear once you examine the report itself.
Q Thank you.
(Press briefing concluded at 2:10 p.m.)
ADDITION: The following is a statement by Michael D. McCurry clarifying two points from today's briefing:
1. When asked about the involvement of Senator Howell Heflin in the procurement of a visa for Cambodian citizen Sin Song, I stated that a member of Senator Heflin's staff had called the State Department to request a visa on behalf of Sin Song so that he could attend the National Prayer Breakfast on February 3. No member of Senator Heflin's staff called the State Department; a member of the organizing committee of the National Prayer Breakfast called the State Department in connection with Sin Song's visa.
2. I incorrectly reflected the views of Inspector General Sherman Funk about a story in today's edition of the Washington Times. Mr. Funk reported to me that he was not surprised by the reported decision of the Justice Department and that he and his staff did not intend to "raise hell" about the Department's decision. Those were the things in the Times account that Mr. Funk said were untrue; I should not have indicated that there were "other things" in the story that were not true.
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