US DEPARTMENT OF STATE DAILY PRESS BRIEFING Thursday, February 3, 1994 BRIEFERS: Secretary Christopher Brian Atwood Richard Moose Michael McCurry Subject Page NEW FOREIGN ASSISTANCE ACT ......................... 1-12 Secretary's Remarks ............................ 1-3 AID Administrator's Opening Remarks ............ 3-4 Under Secretary for Management's Opening Remarks 4-5 Middle East .................................... 5-6,10 Eastern Europe ................................. 6 Africa ......................................... 7 Pressler Amendment/Glenn-Symington Amendment ... 7-8 Military Assistance ............................ 8 Narcotics ...................................... 8-9 Population Growth .............................. 9-10 Earmarks ....................................... 10-11 Latin America .................................. 11 MIDDLE EAST PEACE PROCESS Bilateral Talks Resume on February 15 .......... 12-14 FORMER YUGOSLAVIA Possible Sanctions .....................................14-15 Possible Genocide ......................................14-18 Secretary's Discussions with Staff .....................16 Responsibility for Atrocities ..........................16-17 US Reporting on Atrocities .............................17 Situation at Tuzla Airport .............................19-21 Convoys/Reported "Taxes" ...............................20 NORTH KOREA Billy Graham Delivered Message from President Clinton to President of North Korea ....................21-22 UKRAINE Parliament's Discussion of NPT/START I ................22-23 VIETNAM US Diplomatic Personnel in Country .....................23-24 Reported Request to Establish Office in US .............24 Prospects for Lifting the Trade Embargo ................24-25 (###)
US DEPARTMENT OF STATE DAILY PRESS BRIEFING DPC 19
THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 3, 1994, 12:37 p.m. (On the record unless otherwise noted)
SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER: Good afternoon. I'm pleased to be here with Brian Atwood and Dick Moose to introduce the Peace, Prosperity, and Democracy Act of 1994.
I'll say a few words about the Act and then turn the rostrum over to Brian and Dick.
The Act was submitted to Congress yesterday. It's the result of intensive interagency processes and extensive discussions with members of the Congress and their staffs that began about three months ago. We've also consulted very widely with interested non-governmental organizations.
The Clinton Administration is the first to be elected since the Cold War ended. We have the opportunity and the responsibility to adapt our foreign policy to a world no longer dominated by superpower confrontation.
Next Monday, I'll be talking about the first truly post-Cold War Foreign Affairs Budget. Today, let me describe how this new statutory proposal also reflects our new foreign policy priorities.
We are still operating under the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961. That Act is a relic of the Cold War, passed a few weeks after the Berlin Wall went up and geared to our global strategy of containment. On a purely practical basis, some of its provisions are obviously out of date.
But foreign assistance itself is not out of date. Our assistance program can help to achieve the fundamental purposes of our our foreign policy, enhancing the security and well-being of the American people. Sharply focused aid helps to support democracy and free market institutions. It bolsters preventative diplomacy as we face global problems by narcotics trafficking and environmental degradation.
Foreign assistance can give us great economic opportunities. For example, every year we get back and in sales to Korea triple the amount of assistance we provided over a decade to Seoul. Interestingly enough, Seoul now has a foreign assistance program of its own to aid others.
If our foreign assistance is to serve our interests effectively, it must be targeted on our foreign policy priorities. The new Act established a framework that does just exactly that. It seeks to encourage sustainable development, to build democracy, to promote peace, to provide humanitarian assistance, and to promote economic growth through trade and investment.
The new Act will aggressively promote U.S. economic interests, one of our highest foreign policy priorities. Through the Act, we will encourage broad-based economic growth, creating dynamic markets for U.S. exports in the developing world where, by the year 2000, four out of five consumers in the world will live.
To take another example, all Americans have a stake in the success of political and economic reform in Russia and the New Independent States. The new Act enables the President to assist nations that are seeking to join the community of democratic states not only in Central and Eastern Europe and the New Independent States, but in Africa, Asia, and Latin America as well.
This Administration is committed to helping achieve a comprehensive peace in the Middle East. The new Act will help to achieve that goal through programs to bring economic growth to Gaza and the West Bank and through our continued military and economic assistance for Israel and Egypt.
We have also moved global issues into the mainstream of American foreign policy. The core goals of the new Act include the protection of the environment and the stabilization of population growth. These core goals -- these core global goals -- also include human rights.
As you know, this week, in another important release, we released our 1993 Human Rights Report. I've been involved in these human rights reports ever since the first one in 1977. I must say, I'm very proud that the State Department is prepared to take -- and the United States Government is prepared to take -- the courageous and quite extraordinary step of releasing a human rights report on 193 countries. I also want to thank you for the extensive coverage you've given to this important document which I think provides a baseline for measuring performance and progress around the world.
I believe that this new Act is a sound investment for America. Assistance to the priorities that I've outlined today is highly cost-effective. For example, compare the cost of the infrastructure improvements in Gaza and Jericho with the cost of continued conflict in the Middle East. Compare the cost of support for reform in Russia to the necessary defense expenditures -- the necessary increases in defense expenditures -- that would be necessary if Russia were to revert to dictatorship. Compare the price of population programs with the scourge of starvation.
If we ignore these issues -- the kind of issues that I've mentioned here today -- they will return compounded, more costly, and sometimes deeply threatening to our security.
Let me make just one final point about the new Act. The Agency for International Development was one of the first laboratories for reinventing government. The Vice President's National Performance Review identified reform of foreign assistance as one of the most critical actions in the field of foreign affairs. The new Act responds by making foreign assistance programs more efficient and more responsive.
The President and I view passage of this bill as an important step for our foreign policy. We look forward to working with Congress in the spirit of bipartisanship as it debates the Peace, Prosperity, and Democracy Act.
Now, I would like to bring on Brian Atwood and Dick Moose to talk in more detail about the Act and to answer questions that you may well have about the Act which had gone up to the Hill yesterday and which will be the subject of debate up there over the next several months.
Q Could you stay and take a few questions, Mr. Secretary?
SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER: Not today. I'm sorry. I've got a luncheon date and need to get upstairs. Thank you.
MR. ATWOOD: Let me just say that we had a discussion with the leadership on Capitol Hill in September wherein we made a commitment to move the interagency progress along so that we could get this bill to the Congress. I think that we did it in record speed.
The Secretary personally played a role there in pushing this through the interagency process. I'm delighted that we were able today to actually introduce the bill formally after an extensive period of consultations with members of Congress.
The Secretary has really said it all. I'll just say a couple of words about the hearing we just attended. This hearing really began a process not only of looking at legislation that we have submitted. What it also did was to begin the process of creating a new political rationale in our country for our foreign assistance programs.
We had the opportunity in this hearing to make the case that investments in foreign assistance are not only investments in foreign policy -- in particular, in crisis prevention -- but we were also able to make the case that the initiatives that we're undertaking in the fields of environment, population, economic growth, democracy, peacekeeping, non-proliferation, have a direct impact on our domestic interests.
In this increasingly interdependent global economy, these interests are well served by these programs, including the fact that we are able to find various cost benefits as a result.
In looking at the old 1991 Act, at the beginning of the hearing I held up this very thick document that's about six inches thick at this point, and I said, what has happened as a result of this proliferation of amendments since the 1961 Act, this is it; this is the one that's been used by our lawyer, Bob Lester, extensively.
The point I made was that in essence this Act has made legal advisors as important as policymakers in the Executive Branch. It has seriously complicated Congress' oversight role in the sense that all of these mandates are blurred. We are now saying through this new legislation that what we're doing is asking you to hold us accountable on the achievement of results.
We have often been, as the remaining superpower, unable to respond rapidly to changing events in the world. This Act and all of its amendments force us to think narrowly about funding sources as opposed to thinking strategically about foreign policy.
And, finally, it's convinced too many of our people that our foreign assistance programs are designed mainly as international welfare programs that benefit others rather than benefit us. So we tried to make that case today, I think with some degree of success. We hope to proceed now to the Senate and see both the House and Senate adopt this legislation.
UNDER SECRETARY MOOSE: I had been asked by Secretary Christopher to preside over the final stages of the drawing-together of the legislation which has now been proposed to the Congress. My presence there today was to underscore the role of the Secretary of State as the overall coordinator of all of the functions that fall within the international affairs chapter of the budget, and then to make the point that the five -- six objectives, priority objectives, of the Secretary, as they will be reflected in the budget submission this coming week, the same six priorities that are reflected in this legislation.
They perform a unifying function that flows down from our policy as enunciated by the President, the Secretary, as reflected in the budget and now in this bill provides a charter and provides new criteria to replace the old single one which guided the old foreign aid policy in so much of our previous foreign policy -- that is, the containment opposition to the Soviet Union now replaced by these six objectives of sustainable development, democracy, peace, humanitarian assistance, trade and investment, prosperity and the advancement of democracy.
We were there in a mode indicating that this is not just another foreign aid bill. It is a foreign policy bill as well because the functions of the bill is to support and to further the objectives of our diplomacy and these tie back, in so many instances, in the various chapters of the bill to the well-being of the people of our own country. So I think that's about all I would add.
Q Can you provide us with an illustration, since you have come up with a new set of rationales? How, for example, with your net set of rationales, this changes funding to Israel and Egypt? How do you -- is that altered in any way, shape or form by your new rationale?
MR. ATWOOD: This new framework, obviously, is something that we hope will hold for many years to come. Our commitment to Israel and Egypt is maintained in this bill under Title III. It is the title that is called "Promoting Peace." There is a reference to the Middle East peace process. There is a direct reference to Israel as well as to the Palestinian people, and we believe that this framework will be perfectly appropriate for continuing our commitment to the region in the Camp David Accords.
Q So the rationale has changed, but the dollar figures have not changed one penny.
MR. ATWOOD: The budget will be submitted next week, and you will see that that is absolutely accurate. Our commitment to this region, I think, is paying off as the peace process proceeds.
Q So that's $3 billion or $3.5 billion? Can you put it in figures now?
MR. ATWOOD: You'll see that next week when the budget is submitted, but it is going to maintain the status quo.
Q Could I ask the question of why -- if you're bothering to change the rationale, why is there no change in the output? And, if there isn't any difference, what difference does it make changing the rationale?
MR. ATWOOD: I think that this is a perfect example of what we're trying to achieve in terms of preventive diplomacy. This investment that we have made has helped us avoid war in this region for many years to come. It also now has us on the verge of seeing a breakthrough in negotiations in this region and I think that's very significant. It's very important for us to remain steady at this time.
Q Mr. Atwood, under that funding rationale, then, if Israel and its Arab partners are successful in negotiating peace, it would follow that the level of funding for their aid package would also be reduced. Is that correct?
MR. ATWOOD: No, that's not necessarily correct. There clearly will be different needs in the region. We not only could fund those needs through Title III but we can use sustainable development money to promote development in the region as well, especially in some of the countries that are now actively engaged in the peace process that are not obviously entitled to that sort of consideration under current laws and because of the circumstances of the diplomacy of the region.
Q You talked about prohibitions on terrorist countries. Could you please define "terrorist countries," and can you also explain the Presidential waiver, and can this at all impact on aid to Syria?
UNDER SECRETARY MOOSE: There isn't anything in this Act which would affect our previous definition of "terrorist countries," as far as that goes. Insofar as this new Act deals with that, it involves restatement of previously existing policy.
Q Could you make clear to us what a Presidential waiver constitutes, how that works, and could Syria be a beneficiary of assistance under this with a Presidential waiver?
UNDER SECRETARY MOOSE: I don't see how they could, but I don't want to anticipate a future decision that the Department might make. But there's nothing in this that is designed to have that effect, to make it any easier than it would have been before.
Q Mr. Atwood, does your rationale of the new Act change assistance for Russia and Eastern Europe and the other countries of the former Soviet Union, and what will its practical impact be?
MR. ATWOOD: The Freedom Support Act and the Support for Eastern European Democracy Act were very recently adopted. What we have done since they were recently adopted and remain the policy of this Administration and the Congress and it's a bipartisan policy, we have simply retained those two acts. So there would be no change in the way we run those programs.
Q This cutting back of welfare, which is what it seems to me, for certain parts of the world. Mr. Moose, since you've served that part of the world once, I wonder whether you could tell me whether the continent of Africa and other developing countries aren't being short-changed or being cut in favor of promoting democracy and our larger national interest.
UNDER SECRETARY MOOSE: No. I want to be careful not to associate myself with the premise of the question, that the --
Q That aid is not being cut back.
UNDER SECRETARY MOOSE: No, that aid constitutes welfare.
Q Since we're changing from an international welfare program to something that more serves our interest, it seems to me, having seen the Secretary of State define what our interest -- Africa was well down the line, and since they are apparently the welfare recipients, I'm wondering what it's been doing to stop that.
UNDER SECRETARY MOOSE: The bill reaffirms in the first chapter the Administration's support for sustainable development in Africa. It is not a money bill, and so there are not amounts in here. But in the hortatory provisions of the act, we refer to our continued support for the African development funds, for the multilateral banks.
Under the chapter for the promotion of democracy and for countries in transition, there is certainly adequate provision in there to enable us to assist a variety of African countries and a variety of situations, and of course the sustainable development chapter has immediate applicability to Africa.
Brian has just come back from Africa and might want to add a word on that.
Q Can you tell us whether the amount for Africa, without revealing what it's going to be, is going to be sort of an increase -- since we're for sustainable development -- when we see it on Monday?
MR. ATWOOD: I think in the particular budget environment we are in, maintaining support for development in Africa at levels equal to last year or even a slight increase will be a quite dramatic indication of the Administration's commitment. And that's what I think you will see, but you'll have to wait for the budget to be revealed.
Q Mr. Atwood, I don't know whether this question came up on the Hill, but last year when you were here with Ms. Lynn Davis and you all were briefing us on the discussion draft, one of the things that was going to be -- you all were seeking a repeal of country-specific language, like the Pressler Amendment, for example.
But there was a hue and cry by Senator Pressler, Senator Glenn and others. Is it correct that the Pressler Amendment has been put back in the bill and would not be repealed? You all will not seek a repeal of the country-specific Pressler Amendment?
MR. ATWOOD: That is correct.
Q Could you elaborate? Was that due to the --
MS: We said at the time that when Lynn Davis and I were here -- and we've said it many other times -- that our policy would not change, even though we were trying to take out country-specific references in the bill, country-specific prohibitions.
We heard the Congress loudly and clearly on that, not simply through the press but in our consultations, and we've decided to retain the Pressler Amendment as well as the Glenn-Symington Amendment which is prohibition against countries that are proliferators of nuclear weapons.
Q After consulting with Congress, you decided to retain country-specific language in the bill, and are there any other examples of major changes in the bill from those that -- from the time that it was presented to us in December?
MR. ATWOOD: Yes. We have not included, I don't believe, any other country-specific language, but funds for Title I, sustainable development, have now been walled off. As you recall, there was in the draft bill the provision that allowed us to transfer money among accounts. We have now retained current law that protects the sustainable development.
Military assistance is capped at the level authorized by Congress. Policy language has been redrafted and strengthened, particularly a lot of language in the introduction of the bill that relates to various activities that are undertaken by private voluntary organizations with AID.
Annual authorization provisions have been dropped to focus more clearly on this bill as a charter for the future. That's very significant. I'm not sure how the Congress will decide to handle the authorization of appropriations. What we've asked for is that they adopt this as a charter piece of legislation.
Authority to withhold assistance to countries not fully cooperating with U.S. counter-narcotic efforts has also been included as a result -- this is all the result of the consultations that we held.
Q Concerning the population control aspects of this bill, isn't there a problem there possibly with regard to the notion of human rights as well as certain moral aspects; that you want to reduce the world population to a certain amount and will use foreign aid in order to force other countries who might see otherwise in this to reduce their population as a precondition for receiving aid?
Now, the U.S. Declaration of Independence declares that every individual has the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Should that not also be reflected to some extent in our foreign policy by allowing these nations, some of which probably think they're under-populated, to pursue the type of policy that they feel is in their national interest? Do we have a right to put these kind of stringent conditions on foreign aid? Isn't there a human rights aspect to this thing which is avoided in the legislation?
MR. ATWOOD: There has been strong bipartisan support for a number of years for the notion that our foreign aid dollars ought to be used to try to stabilize population growth. Indeed, countries have pledged to do this under the United Nations, a particular resolution that was adopted at the United Nations.
The United Nations and the world community will come together in Cairo in September of this year to reaffirm our commitment, and the United States is going to be a leader in this regard. You will see this reflected again in the President's budget when it is submitted. We believe that we should be providing family planning services and an array of other services and programs that will help people to control the size of their families.
This is also what I would call a human right; that they have a right to be able to space their children and a right to determine the size of the family so that they will have enough food on the table to feed them.
There is a very serious problem that is on the horizon here with respect to food security. We are now seeing the leveling of food production in the world as the population increases. This is contributing to instability. It's a major part of our foreign policy to try to encourage stability, and that means that we have to deal with this population growth problem.
Q Family planning is one thing, but isn't it another thing in restricting arbitrarily the growth of a population in particular nations which, perhaps, like in Africa are relatively underpopulated compared to, say, the United States?
MR. ATWOOD: I just do not accept the word "arbitrarily." Our programs are based on volunteerism, based on the concept of choice of people. There is a tremendous unmet need for family planning services in the world that implies that people voluntarily wish to participate in our programs.
Q Much of that will be announced next week. You indicated that there will be no change in the aid going to Egypt and Israel. What about after l995? According to this new direction, are you going to see any change in that down the line?
MR. ATWOOD: There is no change in the policy of the United States from the way we implemented that policy under the old act. We will look at the situation and we, I believe, will maintain our commitment. I hope that there's a comprehensive peace in the Middle East so that we can see how we can more effectively expend our development assistance in the region.
Q Can you give an example of how the new budget approach will affect a region or a type of country to either get more money or less money from the United States than the old budget approach? I mean, give us something --
MR. ATWOOD: I think the most significant thing that is reflected here is that there is a requirement that we look at whether or not recipient nations are good partners of the United States in the development process.
There was a major reform already announced when we announced the closure of 2l of our field missions. A good percentage of those 2l missions were in countries that were not good partners of the United States in the development process. They were not performing; their per capita incomes were going down -- and primarily as a result of human rights abuses, a lack of interest in democracy, and most importantly a lack of interest in allowing your own people to participate in the development process.
That philosophy that was expressed as we closed the missions is reflected as well in this bill; and it will mean, if we get this approved by Congress, that Congress and the Executive agree on that approach to foreign aid.
Q Is there any more indication in this bill that earmarking will not continue? Is there any prohibition against earmarking in this bill? Won't it continue as a practical matter?
MR. ATWOOD: We're not going to set a standard for ourselves that we will not have succeeded if we don't get all the earmarks out. That is too high a standard. It's quite clear that there would be an interest, in some cases, in earmarking. We think that, especially in bad budget times, it forces us to take actions that are not necessarily in our foreign policy interests. It is not the right way to do development. And we've tried to make a case that an integrated strategic approach to development makes more sense than earmarking.
We'll see whether we succeed in that. I expect there will be a few earmarks, but we will fight against each of them.
Q Clearly essential, South America will be hardest hit -- or hit hard -- by the new aid bill. What do you tell those countries to explain why they're being cut so much?
MR. ATWOOD: Well, this is precisely inaccurate in the sense that while Latin America as a whole may be cut, we're going to be able to focus our resources a lot better; and certainly Central America continues to be a very high priority.
We're also moving our aid program from a concessional grant program to a credit and loan program and into a trade relationship that we think will help the development process in the region.
Q Given the number of --
Q One last question --
Q Given the number of modifications that have been made so far since the original idea and since you came to office, how closely does this bill reflect your original goals for AID, and how do you rate the chances of it succeeding in Congress without major changes that would modify your original goals?
MR. ATWOOD: Well, we started the process with a draft bill that was probably a little unrealistic, but this is part of a negotiating process.
We feel very good about the bill that we presented today. We got some indications of concern about certain provisions. We're prepared with the Congress on this.
The most important thing this bill does is to change the relationship that the Executive Branch has with the Congress on development programs. Instead of giving us 75 different mandates downtown, we're asking them to fund these 6 provisions plus, within sustainable development, 4 major goals. We're asking them to hold us accountable on the basis of results as opposed to the input of resources into various things -- summarized best, perhaps, by saying that at the end of the year, instead of asking us how much money we spent on child survival, they will ask us how many children did we save.
That is what is crucial about this bill and what it does to the Congressional-Executive relationship.
Q Thank you.
MR. McCURRY: All right. I want to thank Under Secretary for Management Dick Moose and AID Administrator Brian Atwood for that briefing. I've got -- available for some other questions, but I need to start with a little bit -- just a brief announcement on the schedule for the Middle East bilaterals.
The co-sponsors of the talks, after consultation with the parties, have suggested a short break in the talks in order to give some time to the parties to consult with their authorities at home. The co-sponsors have suggested, and the parties have agreed, that the talks will resume here in Washington on February l5th in much the same format that they've been using so far -- the more informal, streamlined format.
So I wanted to alert you to that.
Q Any progress report to offer on the basis of the new streamlined format of the last two weeks?
MR. McCURRY: I don't want to characterize progress, but I would say that the new format has been conducive to productive, interesting exchanges between the parties. They've been able to try new ideas in a more informal, relaxed format; and we think that that ultimately will help contribute to forward movement in the talks. But it would be premature to suggest any dramatic breakthroughs in the talks they've had so far.
Q Why did the co-sponsors suggest a break? I mean enough progress to warrant consulting, or not enough progress?
MR. McCURRY: I think they felt it was a good opportunity for the parties to take a breather and consult with their governments and their authorities in their respective locations and that it was a good point to maybe take a break. And they've been going for almost two weeks solid and it's a good point to take a break, and then come back again.
Q Did they agree to come back?
MR. McCURRY: Yes, yes. They've agreed to come back; they will resume, as I said, on February l5th here.
Q The Israelis complain that the Syrians did not come, and this time it was in a new language or in a new position. And Mr. Peres was very frustrated yesterday, and he said that if the situation continued like this, Israel would not make any compromises. Is this --
MR. McCURRY: I like to refrain. I know that the parties sometimes make comments on how they view the progress in the talks. I don't like to comment on their comments.
I'm aware that he said that. That statement speaks for itself, and I --
Q At what level will the talks resume, Mike, the same level?
MR. McCURRY: Same format and my understanding is, same level, including the heads of delegation and those who have been participating.
Q There won't be any Foreign Ministers participating in the talks on February l5th?
MR. McCURRY: Not that I'm aware of, no.
Q I'm just wondering whether the request to suspend the talks came from the Israeli side.
MR. McCURRY: No, no, no. It was at the suggestion of the co-sponsors themselves. Our assessment, in our meetings with them -- we, you know, take the temperature of the parties. We make suggestions from time to time on how we feel the pace of the negotiations are going, and we felt that it was appropriate at this point to take this break.
Q Is the U.S. goal the same on all tracks, or is there some difference that you can tell us about?
MR. McCURRY: Well, each track has its own different dynamic, so I wouldn't suggest that U.S. role is the same in every track, no.
Q Does the Secretary of State see any value in paying a visit to the region during the break to try to see if there could be anything done next time?
MR. McCURRY: Let the record show that CNN can't wait to travel again to the Middle East. But I'm not aware of any plans for the Secretary to make such a journey.
Q The record can't show that because that wasn't the question. (Laughter)
MR. McCURRY: That's right.
Q Did Israel make any request to upgrade the level of the talks on the same track?
MR. McCURRY: I don't know the answer to that. If there's a way for me to answer that, I will.
Q New subject?
MR. McCURRY: New subject.
Q Mike, has the Secretary of State seen the latest draft by Richard Johnson at the War College on Bosnia?
MR. McCURRY: No, I don't know that he's aware of it. I haven't seen it either.
Q So you don't have any comment on it, presumably?
MR. McCURRY: I don't know what you're talking about.
Q What about a comment on the premise which says, from the paper which is contained in Reuters, "Senior U.S. Government officials know that Serb leaders are waging genocide in Bosnia and will not say so in plain English because this would raise the pressure for U.S. action." Again, quoting, "The mood in the building is one of depression, resignation, and hopelessness. No one believes we have a sound, constructive policy on the Balkans or a moral policy."
MR. McCURRY: I think that's not the mood in the building, as I see it, walking around the building.
Q Is there any change in the United States attitude toward recognition of the Republic of Macedonia?
MR. McCURRY: No, there's no change. I think, as the Secretary indicated, that is a subject that we have been discussing and looking at, but there's no change in the policy.
Q Back to sanctions against Croatia. Where does -- it may be taken up by the Security Council, I guess, today; I'm not sure if they have already this morning. But what is the Administration's view in terms of the timing of possible sanctions, whether they should be given a week to withdraw their troops or do you want to go with sanctions sooner?
MR. McCURRY: I'm not aware that the Security Council plans to take up the issue of sanctions. I know that they have been discussing the report of the U.N. Secretary General as it related to the presence of Croatian regular army units -- the HVO -- inside Bosnia. That was a subject that I believe they plan to discuss today. But action on sanctions would obviously depend on the determination of the Security Council to move ahead.
We have indicated in the past that this is a very troubling account. It's one that we are continuing to examine in concert with other Security Council members. We have suggested that sanctions are something that could be considered, but I'm not aware that they're at a point at the Security Council that they're beginning that process. I understand they are to look at the issue.
Q (Inaudible) last night at drafting a Presidential statement which would not immediately call for sanctions, but rather would give about a week to the Croatians to withdraw their troops. Does the U.S. believe that there should be a warning period involved before the Council --
MR. McCURRY: Let's wait and see. The Security Council will address the question. I know Ambassador Albright will be available to discuss that question afterwards.
Q Mike, back to this Johnson paper, he suggests that the United States simply -- that the Administration will not accede to the fact that what's going on in Bosnia is genocide. I notice that the human rights report refers to acts of genocide being committed by the Serbs.
Is there a legal or policy reason why the United States simply doesn't declare that ethnic cleansing and other such things is genocide?
MR. McCURRY: It's a specific legal question. It's one that we've addressed here before. I don't have anything different to tell you about our view on that question. I think you're correct, that the human rights country report issued just three days ago did refer to acts of genocide, but it is a legal determination under the International Convention. I don't have any new interpretation to make available.
Q Could you just remind me why the United States legally is not calling it "genocide?"
MR. McCURRY: I don't know that I've ever addressed that. It's a legal issue. I'm not lawyer, so I probably shouldn't just try to wing an answer to that.
Q (inaudible) points -- I don't know whether he made it in this paper, but he's made it in the past when he worked for Congressman McClosky is that the lawyers in this building have concluded that it's genocide but that the policymakers have decided -- have not accepted that recommendation, partly because of the obligations under the Genocide conventions. And I wonder if that's the case?
MR. McCURRY: I'm not familiar enough with the views of "lawyers" in the building to be able to respond authoritatively to that.
Q When you say that you didn't notice the mood in the building that way, it's interesting to me -- to all of us -- to hear what your observations are. But of greater interest would be know what the observations are of the people who make the policy for the Clinton Administration.
Does the Secretary of State continue to meet regularly with those in the building who disagree with the Administration's policy on Bosnia? Has he had any opportunity to smell the mood in the building or to sense the mood in the building? And, if so, how and what way does he do that?
MR. McCURRY: I think he does. I'm not aware of how recently he has done that, but I think he does both through discussions in the dissent channel and through other meetings that he has. He has an opportunity regularly to hear dissident voices and those who are concerned with the direction of policy. I think he feels it's important to do so. I don't know how recently he's had a formal session like that.
Q Do you know if he's talked with Johnson at all?
MR. McCURRY: I don't know if he knows Johnson. I understand he used to be a Yugoslav desk officer.
Q After all this time and all of the exposure he's received and others like him have received, the Secretary hasn't reached out to find out what his views are?
MR. McCURRY: He hasn't been here at the Department in the time that the Secretary has been serving. I believe he worked for Congressman McClosky, and then he's currently at the War College. So I don't know that he's been around here at the Department. He has met on occasion in the past, as you know, with those who do have contrary points of view and they've had good discussions that frankly are not unlike the discussions the Secretary has with his senior policy advisors on this question. It's a difficult issue.
Most of the conversations about the policy itself are difficult because there are no easy answers.
Q One of the points that's also made in this critique is a new tendency on the part of this Administration to view all parties in the Yugoslav conflict as relatively equal in terms of the egregious acts that they have performed.
At the beginning, this Administration --
MR. McCURRY: Let me correct that before we go on. We've never --
Q Okay. At the beginning of this Administration, almost always said that most of the acts were being perpetrated by the Bosnian Serbs --
MR. McCURRY: Most acts of violence and aggression that have occurred in Bosnia had been committed by the Bosnian Serbs. We have said that repeatedly. That remains our view.
Q When was the last time the current Administration issued a report, as the United States had been issuing on a regular basis, on atrocities in Bosnia -- aside from the human rights report which comes out once a year?
MR. McCURRY: We did those reports on a regular basis up to the point that the War Crimes Tribunal was established. We have now turned that material over, and my understanding is we continue to work with those who are constituting the War Crimes Tribunal. The venue now has -- aside from us putting out the material for public examination, it's now moved into what is, in effect, a court of law. So we can take the material that we have developed in the past and provide it to those who ultimately adjudicate the matter and try to hold those responsible before the bar of justice. We've continued to do that.
We continue to take reports, as we collect them through our diplomatic presence and through our inquiries, and provide that material now directly to those who will hopefully be prosecuting these crimes.
Q But you're no longer making it public?
MR. McCURRY: I don't know that we've stopped making it public. Ralph, I'll check; but I do believe we stopped making it public because we're now transferring it directly to those who are going to prosecute crimes before an international tribunal. So some of that material now becomes evidentiary, so we can't make it public.
Back to Alan.
Q What's your view of an employee of the State Department, who is receiving a salary from the State Department, writing and circulating such a report?
MR. McCURRY: We have established procedures under the Foreign Affairs Manual by which employees of the State Department can do exactly that. I'm not aware of whether or not -- we have not seen this report. I'm not familiar with this report, so I can't -- I don't know whether regular procedure was followed here or not. There is an established procedure within the Department by which people can write and circulate papers, especially if they are on a sabbatical or teaching at the War College or involved somehow or other in activity like that.
You're asking me a lot about a report, frankly, I haven't seen. It's clearly not a Departmental document, as near as I can determine. It's a term paper for a college, I guess.
Q Mike, the Ukrainian parliament today --
Q Sorry. Still on this. Could you take this question, because I don't think you have an answer.
MR. McCURRY: What is the question?
Q The question is, he states that he was present at a lunch given by Under Secretary Tarnoff and Counselor Wirth last April for Eli Wiesel, the Nobel Peace Prize winner, which Wirth is quoted as saying that -- something to the effect that there were high moral stakes in Bosnia but there was a higher moral imperative in preserving the fragile Presidency.
I would like to know if that remark was actually --
MR. McCURRY: Alan, I'm very reluctant to take a question and try to get to a luncheon conversation and recall what people said. That's going to take a lot of time by me interrogating people who may have been present at a luncheon. I'm not sure that's a useful endeavor.
Apparently, there is a paper circulating -- and we don't have a copy of the paper -- and you're asking me to comment on a thing that I can't comment on because I haven't seen it. I don't know what you're talking about.
Q It shouldn't be too difficult to --
MR. McCURRY: He works for us but, as you know, he's not here in the building. He's currently on loan or on detail, or something, at the War College.
Q (Inaudible) his phone number?
MR. McCURRY: What do you want me to do? Call him up?
Q If you think it's worth it. It's your decision whether you want to read the paper or get the thing. I don't have anything to say.
MR. McCURRY: I get the drift of the paper. I'm not sure I've got anything to add to what we've said of the general subject from your questions, I gather. I don't think I have anything new on that subject to provide.
Q It would be, at least for me, it would be worth knowing if a senior official like Mr. Wirth did make the comment that the Presidency was -- protecting the Presidency was a higher moral imperative than protecting the Muslims in Bosnia?
MR. McCURRY: I'm familiar with Counselor Wirth's thinking on that subject. I don't think that reflects his views, as I understand them. I'll see if he has any comment on that allegation.
Q Mike, can we talk about the situation in Tuzla for a minute? What is missing there exactly to start operating the airport?
MR. McCURRY: My understanding of the logistical, technical equipment, some communications material that was needed there. But also, at the moment, the understanding is they can operate the airport safely. They are attempting through discussions with Bosnian Serbs to see if they can get an agreement to operate the airport for humanitarian purposes because they would be concerned about the security of those coming in and out of the airport, absent an agreement that the airport could be run.
Q Who's conducting these dialogues with the Bosnian Serbs in order to get agreement?
MR. McCURRY: My understanding is UNPROFOR officials in Bosnia are conducting those discussions. I don't know at what level or who within UNPROFOR is conducting that dialogue. But that is my understanding, that it is UNPROFOR that's talking to Bosnian Serbs about the possibility of opening the airport and under what conditions they could open the airport.
Q Is UNPROFOR or the U.N. or the U.S. Administration trying to enrole the support of other parties like Belgrade, for example -- the Government of Belgrade or the Russian Government?
MR. McCURRY: I don't know the answer. In either case, I think we have raised the subject of the importance of Tuzla and the provision of humanitarian aid with the Serbian officials, but I'm not sure if that subject has been raised with the Russian Government. I believe it may have been, but I would have to check more carefully to make sure that it had been.
Q Do you have a comment on the Belgrade Government's imposition of a 90 percent tax on all fuel which is being used by the U.N. people in their efforts to bring in food, and it has apparently brought to a screeching halt convoys and food efforts?
MR. McCURRY: I'll find out more about it. Today I don't have a report on convoy traffic. They have from time to time used through a variety of bureaucratic means and through taxes or levies attempted to influence the provision of humanitarian aid by convoy route.
I don't have a report today on how many convoys are getting through. There has been sort of a steady flow of convoy aid in recent weeks, but I haven't checked in recent days on convoy traffic. I'll do so and get something for you tomorrow.
Q More the tactic on the part the Belgrade Government to levy the tax which has the effect of stopping all the things the U.N. is trying to do.
MR. McCURRY: I think, as you probably saw from reports that the U.N. has made available in recent days, that there are a variety of means. They do extract a price for the effort of the international community to provide humanitarian aid in a variety of ways. I think that's true.
Obviously, nothing about this situation is okay. We've been trying to provide humanitarian aid. We find ourselves hindered on many occasions by a variety of local officials -- some cases bandits, not always people that look like they're tethered to any leadership structure.
It's very, very difficult circumstances, and I think you've heard UNHCR officials often describe the conditions by which they get aid through. The fact that aid gets through at all in some cases is probably miraculous, and it's also due to the heroism of those relief workers and military units from other governments that are present on the ground in Bosnia.
Q On North Korea, are you in a position to --
Q Wait, one more question on Bosnia. Tuzla again, just for clarification. The Serbs are apparently asking to control whatever flights into Tuzla when it's open. Would it be okay with the U.S. Administration to have this kind of Serb control on whatever comes in in Tuzla?
MR. McCURRY: I don't understand what you mean by "Serb control."
Q Yes. The Serbs say, okay, we've agreed to let the Tuzla airport operate, but we want to control what is getting in.
MR. McCURRY: Frankly, I don't know how that would work. I think what they would want -- they want a situation more akin to what happens at Sarajevo airport where they are able to run flights in and out. I think that's the model that they're looking at.
You might be referring to the desire by the Serbs to monitor the traffic in and out to assure themselves that there is not arms traffic going in and out, and I don't want to say anything is particularly more legitimate than another issue, but that might be an area in which there would be some willingness on the international community to assure the Serbs that there is not arms traffic coming in and out; that it's strictly humanitarian. That's an aspect of the discussion that I think is going on between UNPROFOR and the Bosnian Serbs and Serbs at the moment.
Q Has there been any movement in your efforts to "reinvigorate" the diplomatic process?
MR. McCURRY: There have been discussions. I wouldn't describe it as movement at this point.
Q And are we any closer to taking military action to relieve sieges, strangulation, suffocations in Srebrenica or anything --
MR. McCURRY: I'm not the right person to ask how close we are.
Q On North Korea, are you in any position to shed any light on these reports of Billy Graham, since he's carried a message from the Administration to the North Korean President?
MR. McCURRY: I can confirm it. I can't describe the nature of the content, but I do know that he did carry a message from President Clinton to President Kim Il Sung. I decline to describe the contents of the message.
Q Was the message drafted by the Secretary of State?
MR. McCURRY: It was the President's message.
Q When did that happen?
MR. McCURRY: When did it happen?
MR. McCURRY: I believe Reverend Graham indicated it was in the last several days. He's just exited from North Korea, and is now in Hong Kong, or was in Hong Kong earlier today.
Q Has the President been in touch with him to receive a response, or has there been a response?
MR. McCURRY: Reverend Graham indicated today that there was a response, and that he preferred that it be provided directly to the President, and he indicated that he had dispatched an aide to deliver the message to the President. I'm not sure whether that has been delivered or not. You'd have to check at the White House further on that.
Q Why did he choose Reverend Billy Graham? Was it just a matter of his plane was going and --
MR. McCURRY: This has occurred in the past. I think the Reverend Graham on previous visits -- I believe in fact once prior -- carried a message from President Bush, if I'm not mistaken. So he has done that in the past.
Q And Clinton sought him out to do this?
MR. McCURRY: No. My understanding is the U.S. Government became aware of the fact that Reverend Graham planned to travel there, and there had been a Presidential message conveyed in the past. I'm not sure exactly how the delivery of the message actually occurred. I can try to find out more about it.
Q So the (inaudible) response in the past, that they might be expecting one now?
MR. McCURRY: I don't know whether on previous occasions when Reverend Graham has conveyed a message -- I don't know if there has always been a reply. I think there may have been, but I don't know that absolutely for a fact.
Q Can we go to Ukraine? The parliament in Kiev today removed the conditions it had attached last year to START I ratification, but it postponed any debate on the NPT. Are you disappointed?
MR. McCURRY: No, we're not disappointed by the flavor of the discussion. I think, as I indicated a couple days ago or maybe yesterday, there has been a new receptivity towards both the ratification issue and the trilateral agreement signed in Moscow within recent days within the Rada, and that surely is welcome.
Obviously, we still hope to see both documents ratified without conditions, but there has been more favorable commentary within the Rada on both the trilateral agreement signed in Moscow and the prospects of ratifying the NPT and START without condition, and we surely welcome that.
Q Can we switch to Vietnam?
MR. McCURRY: Yes.
Q Aside from the White House consideration of whether to lift the embargo or not, is there any discussion or preparation here at the State Department for increasing our diplomatic representation in Hanoi or in allowing the Vietnamese to set up a diplomatic office of some sort here in Washington?
MR. McCURRY: I don't know about the latter. The only other issue -- and I'm glad to get a chance to do this, because I think Ralph asked this question yesterday, and there was a little bit on that that I looked into yesterday.
As I think most of you know, there is an office -- I think we've called it a liaison office -- operating in Hanoi that helps the military officials and the delegation members that have been in Hanoi working on the accounting for POW/MIA cases. That has been present in the past. Whether or not the status of that facility would change, pending any decision by the President on lifting the Embargo, is something that I will leave for the President to address or that we can address more properly after the President has made a decision on the issue now pending before him.
Q Do you know of any staff people -- I mean, the level of staffing.
MR. McCURRY: I can't remember, Ralph. I think there were three or four that went before. I think they have rotated personnel in and out of there, but I'm pretty sure it's the same level of people. And again their purpose there was to assist those who are traveling to Vietnam on a regular basis in connection with our accounting effort on POWs and MIAs.
Q Are those personnel used by the Clinton Administration to convey messages from the United States to the Government of Vietnam about issues such as the trade embargo, and so on?
MR. McCURRY: Not that I'm aware of. My understanding is that their contact is in connection with issues arising from visiting delegations, visiting team members who are working on the accounting issues. I'll inquire further and see if there's anything more to add to that.
Q Reports in Hanoi have a diplomatic mission heading to Hanoi around Valentine's Day for talks with the Vietnamese. Have you heard anything about that?
MR. McCURRY: I haven't, no.
Q The Vietnamese Ambassador says he has requested the State Department permission to establish an office here in Washington. What was the response to that?
MR. McCURRY: I don't know that we've responded. I'll check in and see if we've received that request, and I don't believe we have responded if we have received it, but I'll learn more about it.
Q Well, are those kinds of issues also about to be decided by the President, or is he limiting his --
MR. McCURRY: I don't know. I don't know.
Q Can you give us an update on the human rights talks with Vietnam and also the claims talks?
MR. McCURRY: I can't. I've seen some information on both, but I'd like to go back, Steve, if I can and take that and see if we can work up more on what the latest contact has been on those issues.
Q Mike, coming back to the question to which you said you didn't know the answer, I would think that if the President is about to make a decision on some policy, probably a fairly major decision with regard to Vietnam, that you ought to know at least what the parameters of that decision are.
Is he considering a broader array of decisions than just --
MR. McCURRY: Ralph, you also understand if the President's about to make decision, usually the State Department flack is a little minimal in what he or she says about the issue.
Q Well, you may be minimal about what you say about it, but to say you don't know is a different question.
MR. McCURRY: There's not much I can say at this point on what's going into the decision.
Q You're leaving at this moment -- consciously leaving open the possibility that the President is considering a decision much broader than whether or not to lift the trade embargo against Vietnam. He could have been considering opening an office --
MR. McCURRY: I wouldn't --
Q Let me finish the question.
MR. McCURRY: I wouldn't leap to that conclusion. I wouldn't try to expand the parameters of what's under review by the President.
Q What are those parameters?
MR. McCURRY: I don't want to get into that right now.
Q Yesterday we had a discussion exactly on this point, you know, whether he was only talking about embargo and what the status of potential fuller diplomatic relations was. You seemed to indicate that that was not in the cards at this time.
MR. McCURRY: What I indicated was the thrust of this decision deals with the embargo. I'm just going to leave it at that for now.
Q Is that still the case, though?
MR. McCURRY: Yes. The rest of the decision is, as I understand it, deals with the embargo issues.
Q Thank you.a
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