US DEPARTMENT OF STATE DAILY PRESS BRIEFING Friday, February 4, 1994 BRIEFERS: Michael McCurry Subject Page The following subjects were covered in today's press briefing: ANNOUNCEMENTS PM-Martha Harris Briefing at Commerce on Review of Encryption Technology Export Policy .....................1 Embargoed Budget Materials Available Saturday ..............1-2 White House Statement on Ukraine Rada's Decision on START I and NPT .......................................2-3 DEPARTMENT Secretary's Testimony on the Hill Next Week ................3 Strobe Talbott Meeting with U.S. Jewish Organization Members/Writings/Duties as Deputy Secretary ..............11-14 Secretary's Participation in that Meeting ..................12,14-15 Further Discussions ........................ ........15 Secretary's Activities --Budget, Bosnia, Middle East, Haiti......................15 VIETNAM Opening of Liaison Office/Normalization ....................3-5,8-9 Distinction Between Gradations of Representation ...........4,8 Human Rights Talks with U.S. ...............................5 Secretary Travel to Hanoi ..................................5 Assistance to U.S. Business Activity .......................5-6 U.S. Restrictions on Export Items ..........................6-7 MFN Eligibility ............................................7 Restrictions on use of U.S. Passports/U.S. Visas ...........7-8,11 Status of Vietnam Embassy Building in D.C ..................8-9 Notification of U.S. Decision ..............................9,11 UKRAINE Change in Rada View Re NPT & START I Approval ..............9-11 CROATIA Army Troops In Bosnia-Herzegovina ..........................16 UN Statement on Withdrawal/U.S. Input ......................16-17 U.S. Discussion with Germany Chancellor Kohl ...............16-17 Sanctions ..................................................17 BOSNIA-HERZEGOVINA Continuing Violence/Security for Civilians .................17 Johnson Report .............................................18-19 Phone Call with UK Fon Sec Hurd re Bosnia ..................21 SOMALIA Oakley Activities: Aideed Meeting in Kenya, Travel to Uganda .........................................19-20 U.S. Troop Withdrawal ......................................20 CHINA Release of Three Political Prisoners .......................20 NORTH KOREA Response to President Clinton Oral Message to President ................................................20 HAITI Four Friends Request for Sanctions .........................22 (###)
DEPARTMENT OF STATE DAILY PRESS BRIEFING
FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 4, 1994, 12:59 P. M. (ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE AUTHORIZED)
MR. McCURRY: Good afternoon, everybody. I've got three things that I want to tell you at the outset.
One, Dr. Martha Harris, who is our Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Export Control Policy in the Bureau of Political/Military Affairs is one of several Administration folks participating in a briefing today at 3:00 p.m. at the U.S. Department of Commerce. This is to report on a review of federal policies and procedures for encryption and telecommunications security related products and technologies.
We'll have a text of Dr. Harris' remarks here, but I think to get the full package from all the other agencies as well, anyone interested should attend that briefing at Commerce at 3:00 p.m. That will be in Room 4830 of the Commerce Department. And we've got in the Press Office a contact number if anyone wants to follow up on that.
Item the second: By popular demand, there will be no formal briefing at the State Department, but we will have some written materials available. We don't think we can make them available until some time over the weekend, hopefully tomorrow before 1:00 o'clock. So please check with the Press Office tomorrow for those of you who would like to have some written materials about the budget.
I would note that these materials will be strictly embargoed until 1:30 p.m. Monday, following all embargoes and wire embargoes consistent with those that have been ordered by OMB for all matters relating to the 1995 federal budget submission of the President.
Q Will it be possible to have that stuff picked up by messenger or other --
MR. McCURRY: I'll go out on a limb and say that we can probably do that through the Press Office here by 1:00 o'clock tomorrow, if they're available by then. If not, we'll figure out a way to have it available by fax -- if you'd like to have something faxed to an office.
Q You said over the weekend --
MR. McCURRY: Right.
Q I mean, if you're going to make them available --
MR. McCURRY: We'll try to make it available --
Q -- then there ought to be somebody here to make them available from.
MR. McCURRY: We'll try to make it available here at the Department by 1:00 o'clock tomorrow -- sometime between 9:00 and 1:00 tomorrow when the Press Office is open.
Q Will these documents be country-specific, do you know?
MR. McCURRY: No. I think it will be an overview. It will consist of tables and charts to help you understand more about the Department's request. I don't know how specific it is. I haven't seen the material yet. I think they're still working on it.
Q It's embargoed for Tuesday --
MR. McCURRY: It's embargoed until 1:30 p.m. Monday, consistent with all the other embargoes that are placed on budget material you get from the Administration over the weekend.
Q This is one embargo you're not going to lift, right?
MR. McCURRY: We can't lift this embargo, but we're going to establish a liaison office, as I indicated. (Laughter)
Q Mike, the papers that you're talking about are the Department of State budgets. Will that include AID as well?
MR. McCURRY: I believe it will. I don't know. As I say, I haven't seen the material yet, but I believe it will include some of their numbers.
Okay, the third item I have is I just want to call your attention -- White House will be issuing a statement as a result of the decision by the Supreme Rada of Ukraine concerning their votes related to ratification without conditions of START I and the Lisbon Protocols, and the strong indications from the Rada that they intend to accede to the Non-Proliferation Treaty in the shortest possible time. I encourage you to get a hold of their statement, and it should be available, and obviously we'll welcome this decision by the Rada and also compliment President Kravchuk on what is a very important and impressive victory.
So, with those openers, I'll take any questions.
Q Could you tell us (inaudible) possible schedule, if I can ask you. Can you tell us yet whether the Secretary is testifying next week, if he is?
MR. McCURRY: Whether he's testifying on budget issues next week?
Q On whatever.
MR. McCURRY: I don't know. [TO STAFF] Have you got -- we might have Week Ahead over there. Do you have Week Ahead?
I don't have them. Obviously, we have Strobe Talbott's confirmation hearing. I think Assistant Secretary Pelletreau's confirmation hearing is scheduled for next week. Those are the appearances I am aware of.
The Secretary is scheduled to be in front of Congress numerous times in coming weeks in connection with the budget submission. As soon as we have those exact times and places, we'll either post them or announce them here.
Q Thank you.
Q There was a news conference in Hanoi today, and the Vietnamese are looking at the opening of the Liaison Office as a prelude to normalization of relations. Do you have anything to add to what the President said yesterday?
MR. McCURRY: No, I don't at all. I would re-emphasize again what the President said yesterday, that the actions that he took yesterday do not constitute a normalization of relations. Before that happens, we have to have more progress, more cooperation, and we hope more answers related to POWs and MIAs. But I think that there are clearly issues that will be available to be discussed by the offices and the liaison offices -- human rights among others.
But Vietnam will choose to characterize that office as they see fit. We have to still have negotiations with them over what the size of this office will be, what the parameters of activities will be that will be allowed in the liaison office. I think as a lot of folks indicated yesterday in connection with the President's decision, it's our intent to use the liaison office in Hanoi to further the work of those who are working on the Joint Defense Task Force on POW/MIA accounting; and then increasingly now there will be American citizens in Vietnam in connection with commercial activities by the businesses who will be there who will need assistance. So our view is that this liaison office is a way to help Americans who are in Vietnam.
Q Mike, has the Vietnamese Government requested or have you reached an agreement with the Vietnamese Government on Vietnam opening a liaison office in the United States?
MR. McCURRY: No. There is no agreement on that. That is something that they are going to have to discuss with Hanoi. All the issues related to that office are something that will be in discussion between the United States and Vietnam.
Q Wait a minute. I'm talking about the Vietnam office in Washington?
MR. McCURRY: The office here. That's correct. This will be a reciprocal arrangement. They will be permitted to open an office here as a result of our ability to open an office there. We have personnel there, as you know, already, but they do not work out of an office.
Q How does a liaison office differ from an Embassy? I know you won't have an Ambassador. What's the highest ranking diplomat who will be there? What's he called? Do you fly a flag?
MR. McCURRY: None of that has been decided yet: flags, rank, level, scope of activity. All of that is to be negotiated with Vietnam. This was as the President indicated yesterday, one step at a time. This step was involving the agreement to lift the embargo and the agreement to establish liaison offices in both places.
Q Is the new liaison office a completely different structure as the office you have now, the small liaison --
MR. McCURRY: Make it clear: We do not have an office now. We have a Joint Task Force from the Defense Department that works on the accounting for POWs and MIAs. I think we have three temporary duty State Department folks who are there, mostly to help the work of that Joint Task Force, but they don't have any type of office or liaison office open at present. That is something that will be opened probably in coming weeks as we negotiate the details with the Vietnamese.
Q Yesterday, you said the U.S. does have a liaison office in Vietnam.
MR. McCURRY: That was incorrect. I should have put out one of my clarifications on that.
Q Do they work out of a hotel or barracks?
MR. McCURRY: My understanding is they work out of their hotel offices, and I'm not sure where this joint accounting team has -- I don't know whether they have a headquarters or some place they operate out of. But I think that they're in close contact as they work together.
Q Is it the United States Government's desire to have a liaison office in Vietnam that does not fly the flag of the United States of America?
MR. McCURRY: It's our desire to fly the flag of the United States of America at every opportunity we can, but that is a diplomatic question that will have to be resolved in discussions with Vietnam.
Q When do these discussions begin? Do you have any --
MR. McCURRY: We don't have any word on who will conduct the discussions or when they will begin, but we expect them to begin shortly.
Q Do you have anything on the human rights talks with the Vietnamese?
MR. McCURRY: No, I didn't. I meant to check on that, because the question came up yesterday. We expect to engage those issues as soon as we can. That obviously would be very high on our agenda of things that we would like to see pursued by that liaison office. But that again is something that has to be worked out as we arrange the details for this diplomatic presence.
Q How will the negotiations for the setting up of the liaison offices be conducted?
MR. McCURRY: I don't know. I just don't know at this point. I think it will probably be -- we've got people who within the -- people who have been working on the accounting issue who have good contact with them. Deputy Assistant Secretary Ken Quinn has been very involved in a lot of discussions of this nature. I expect he would be a natural point of leadership on this. But I, at this point, can't tell you with certainty who will do it.
Q Is it now more likely the Secretary will go to Hanoi during his Asia trip?
MR. McCURRY: It would be real premature at this point. Obviously, we are still at the beginning of a discussion with the Vietnamese about how we will work these two offices, what their duties and their parameters will be, and for that reason, obviously, it's very premature to speculate about any travel by any other senior officials in the government.
Q Before the opening of the liaison office in Hanoi, what kind of assistance or support an American businessman can expect from the government if he wants to start in business in Vietnam?
MR. McCURRY: I think that there are, as you know, as a result of the President's prior decision, there was no bar on U.S. commercial entities or businesses setting up offices in Hanoi. Many of them have done so. I'm sure you've seen reports today that we've got Pepsi cans flying around Hanoi already. We've got American Express cards ready to be used. "Don't leave home without it." There are a number of other commercial activities that are underway.
We would expect that people who work in -- we've got some sense of the sectors in which we've already seen an interest on the part of U.S. businesses. That includes construction and capital goods equipment, telecommunications, energy and natural resources, transportation, banking, power systems, legal services and obviously tourism.
In all of those sectors we've seen an indication of interest on the part of U.S. businesses, and they'll be prepared to do that. Although I would want to stress something that the President indicated yesterday -- I'm sure you heard him say this -- that the possibility of this commercial activity, the possible impact to the United States in increased jobs and export activity, is not something that factored into his decision.
He made this decision solely on the merits of the progress on the POW/MIA accounting issue, as he indicated yesterday.
Q Now that the embargo has been lifted --
Q Mike, do happen to have that list handy?
MR. McCURRY: Actually, I asked. I want to make it clear I asked for that, because I said the President didn't address that yesterday, but I think that's obviously where the interest turns now is, what type of possibilities will arise as a result of the President's decision which he reached yesterday? So I wanted to try to give you that indication.
Q Now that the embargo has been lifted, is there anything, any restrictions at all on what can be sold? Can we start selling them tanks and airplanes and guns and --
MR. McCURRY: That I don't know. I saw the text of the memorandum that the President issued yesterday, and it was more an instruction to Cabinet agencies to look at all of these relevant issues with a desire to lift all of those barriers to trade that exist. Now, how that will be affected by existing export control restrictions, how that is impacted by other statutes that are on the books in the United States is something I think that each Cabinet agency is now going to have to examine as they move into this new era of commercial activity.
Q Technically, one would think, given the body of law, there are certain things -- obviously, you wouldn't sell them nuclear -- certain types of nuclear stuff.
MR. McCURRY: Right.
Q But if there isn't a prohibition on weapons, one would think that technically you could sell them weapons. Would you take that question?
MR. McCURRY: I'll see if there's any better answer than this. The President yesterday instructed his relevant Cabinet agencies to look at that issue and to determine what type of export activity would be allowed, given a decision on his part to lift the existing embargo, which he had the authority to do.
That's obviously a question that will be under examination, but what type of restrictions might exist on export activity within the Export Control Act and its current regulations -- Commerce and State and what we regulate on the munitions list and on the CCL at Commerce -- I expect all of that obviously applies, existing statutes apply.
But each agency is really going to have to look at that question specifically.
Q Is Vietnam eligible to MFN status?
MR. McCURRY: I don't know the answer to that.
Q It came up at the briefing at the White House yesterday, and the briefer said they had to have a trade agreement with us first.
MR. McCURRY: Yes.
Q And what about --
MR. McCURRY: And they would be subject to Jackson-Vanek restrictions, too, I would think. I don't know. The answer, Jacques, -- don't know.
Q What about restrictions on use of U.S. passports to travel to Vietnam? Have all those been lifted?
MR. McCURRY: I haven't seen anything specific on that question. That would be something that I think will now be part of the discussion that goes on as they establish these liaison offices, because there will have to be some agreement on what type of visa traffic will be allowed and issues like that.
Q So the announcement yesterday does not change in any way existing restrictions on use of U.S. passports to travel to Vietnam?
MR. McCURRY: I'll take that question and get the exact answer to it. I mean, clearly it's our intent and desire to have people take advantage of that activity, and there will have to be a way for that to happen.
Q And are there restrictions on Vietnamese getting visas to come and visit the United States?
MR. McCURRY: I'll see if we can work that out. That would be reciprocal. The nature of the discussion on the liaison office is reciprocity.
Q What's the protocol in terms of liaison offices in terms of flags flying? Is there --
MR. McCURRY: I asked about that this morning. I said is that an official rank level, and when you describe diplomatic relations and full diplomatic relations, what's half full diplomatic relations, and there's no answer to that. This is something that is negotiated in agreements bilaterally between each individual country, and in this case what the parameter and scope of a liaison office, what they will actually do and what they are allowed to do is something that will have to be agreed to by both Vietnam and the United States.
Q Is there another country in the world that the United States has a liaison office with?
MR. McCURRY: Many. Somalia -- we've got a liaison office there, I think. We've had liaison offices in a number of other places where we lack full diplomatic relations. We had a liaison office in China after 1972 for a period. That's another example.
Q Are flags flying at these other offices?
MR. McCURRY: That's an issue that usually is discussed and then resolved. Sometimes not. Sometimes it's not a facility that flies -- flying the flag is a question of diplomatic presence, and that's not something that arises in this case because it's not an issue that -- that's an implication that there's been a move towards normalization of relations which, as the President indicated yesterday, is not immediately an item on the agenda.
Q New subject?
Q No, wait. Could you take the question as to whether the U.S. is operating under the assumption that the Vietnamese will set up shop in the old Vietnamese Embassy here in Washington?
MR. McCURRY: Yes, that's a good question. I'll find that out.
Q And the status of that Embassy, which has not been occupied for almost 20 years, and who's been responsible for maintaining it all these years, and so forth?
MR. McCURRY: George, I'll be glad to find that out, just for those who watch this. This came up recently when we re-established relations with Cambodia, and it turned out that their old chancery was still available. In fact, someone here at the Department, as you might recall, had actually kept the brass plaque, name plaque, that had been on the front. Obviously, we're a long ways away from having that type of relationship in the case of Vietnam, but they do keep track of the facilities and the property that was owned by the entity of Vietnam -- North Vietnam prior.
Q New subject.
MR. McCURRY: Saul first. One more on that?
Q Just Vietnam. Has the President's position been formally communicated to the Vietnamese Government?
MR. McCURRY: Yes, it was. I'm not sure how that happened, but it happened yesterday, I think prior to the announcement of the decision. It was formally communicated. I don't know how that occurred, though. I just saw that it had happened.
Q I think the liaison office and those three employees --
MR. McCURRY: Went and knocked on a door somewhere at the Ministry.
Q Or at the U.N.
MR. McCURRY: It would have been. When we have had contact with them before, it has been through New York, through the United Nations, so my guess is that was the channel. In fact, why don't I just state that and, if that turns out not to have been the case, we will post a correction or a clarification or an update or an addendum. A pocket part. Whatever they call it. (Laughter)
Q On Ukraine, I wonder if you could give us some indications of what changed in Ukraine, please, between the time that some of us were there with the President and lots of people were saying there might be some difficulties with the Rada and now, and is there an expectation that the NPT vote will be favorable for the United States and come relatively soon?
MR. McCURRY: There are a couple of questions there. What changed. I think what changed is, as a result of the trilateral statement that was signed in Moscow consisting of the security guarantees that are included within that document -- the compensation that exists for the highly enriched uranium in the warheads; some of the technical and financial assistance that's available for dismantling the nuclear forces; that as a result of the pledge by the United States to be of assistance, to provide economic assistance to Ukraine -- I think there was a new understanding of the importance of both the agreement and the arrangements that had been made, and that probably an appreciation within the Rada itself that this was an agreement that would be in the best national security interests of Ukraine.
I think that what we saw within the Rada was expressions by a lot of the leaders who had been negatively inclined towards the discussions prior, that there really had been a change of heart based on both their perception of what President Kravchuk had been able to negotiate and also what it would mean in terms of the action they took on November 18 last year -- that they really did satisfy those conditions.
So I think the clearest answer in that case was, there was more knowledge that became available about the benefits that would arrive to Ukraine by fulfilling the obligations that they made to move ahead on START I ratification and to the benefits that would arrive in Ukraine as a result of the trilateral agreement.
Q It just seems like a sudden change of heart.
MR. McCURRY: There may have been other factors. I'm not a parliamentarian in the Rada in Kiev, so I can't get in that frame of mind and describe to you. There may have been other issues. Certainly, there are other things that have happened in --
Q What about the NPT?
MR. McCURRY: On the NPT, by ratifying the Lisbon Protocol, Ukraine makes a formal commitment to accede to the NPT in the shortest possible time. They are now in a situation not unlike Kazakhstan was in for some time, in which they had ratified START, were awaiting ratification of the NPT. But certainly our understanding and based on the comments that we've seen in Kiev, that they intend to do so and probably do so very soon.
Q Before the elections? Before the new Rada?
MR. McCURRY: I don't know before the elections next month. It's not clear that it would occur in that time frame. But I think one thing that is very, very important is that by completing that last measure, which is ratifying the NPT, the types of security guarantees that are outlined in both the trilateral statements, generally available under the NPT, then become available. And that is something I think then that will be very important in the debate within Ukraine. That has been a key feature, one of the key conditions that they laid down in November, was the concern about the types of security guarantees that were available, and I think making clear now that those become available as the NPT is ratified is probably another incentive for the Rada to act favorably as soon as possible.
Q I'm not sure of the technicalities, but my agency carried a story out of Kiev today that the accession vote failed by two votes in the Rada. I don't know; maybe it can be brought up again. But there was a vote and it fell short.
MR. McCURRY: They took a vote. It didn't fall short. They had a majority in favor. They lacked a quorum, is our understanding of what happened. They lacked a quorum on that action, and the significance of that is something that our Embassy is still attempting to determine. But the important thing is that they haven't taken that vote. They pushed that decision off in the future with a lot of commentary during the debate that indicated that that was something that they intended to do and certainly something we expect them to do.
Q New subject?
MR. McCURRY: Let me do two corrections on Vietnam with my helpers, my listeners out there.
The Vietnamese were notified here at the State Department yesterday about the decision. I don't know what diplomat we informed, but they were notified here at the State Department.
Q Which one -- Vietnam's Ambassador to Washington --
MR. McCURRY: And the other note I have is that there have been no retrictions on the use of U.S. passports for travel to Vietnam since the 1970s. Obviously, people have been there.
Q New subject.
MR. McCURRY: Thank EAP.
Q Thanks Ken -- Ken Bailes, who is listening.
MR. McCURRY: It's Ken Bailes and others who are listening religiously.
Q Can you tell us, please, what the -- tell us about the meeting Strobe Talbott had with representatives of major American Jewish organizations yesterday? Who initiated that meeting, and for what purpose was it held?
MR. McCURRY: Unless I'm mistaken, he met with Lester Pollock and Malcolm Hoenlein. The two of them -- they're with the Conference of Major Organizational Presidents. I think I've got the name wrong. But, in any event, they're certainly very well known, very active and prestigious leaders within the Jewish community.
They happen to be two people that we have a great deal contact with. The Secretary was up and met and briefed their group recently in New York after, I guess, one of his recent trips to the Middle East. He talks on a regular basis with them and has a very close working relationship with both the Conference and with a number of people within the organization. This is an umbrella organization that has representation from, I'd say, most if not all of the major Jewish organizations in America -- probably because we've had close contact with them when the subject came up recently.
There have been some news accounts discussing previous columns that were written by Strobe. There was a comment by a member of Congress, so this issue I think had surfaced in recent days. I'm not sure exactly how the discussion grew, but probably in one of the regular contacts we have with these two leaders it was agreed -- I have to put it passively -- it was agreed that they would get together and just talk about it.
They met for about 90 minutes yesterday with Strobe and had a good discussion with him. They issued a statement, so I won't attempt to characterize their feelings following the meeting. But they made that clear in a statement that they issued. And then because they were here, they happened to drop by and say hello to the Secretary and talked to him.
They talked about their meeting they had just had with the Deputy Secretary-designate, but I think they also had an opportunity to talk about other issues; got a briefing some of the sessions that had been going on here for the last two weeks -- where things stand now, I think the Secretary's assessment, and where things stand in the discussions between the PLO and Israel.
They talked a little bit about the FAA rewrite, the Peace, Prosperity, and Democracy Act that we briefed on here yesterday. So they had an opportunity to cover other issues as well.
Q Does Strobe stand by all of his writings --
MR. McCURRY: I don't want to speak for him. I think he's going to have an opportunity to address those issues, I would assume, when he testifies before the U.S. Senate on Tuesday in connection with his confirmation proceedings.
Obviously, he was a provocative and interesting commentator and pundit prior to becoming a government official. But he now has the responsibility to fulfill policies that represent the policies of this Administration. It goes without saying that the President would not have nominated Strobe Talbott, and the Secretary would not be so strongly supporting this nomination, if it was not absolutely certain that Ambassador Talbott would support and execute exactly those policies that won the United States praise throughout the Middle East, especially in Israel.
Q Mike, I was trying to get at -- you kept talking about "They discussed this issue." What was the issue that they discussed in the meeting with Talbott?
MR. McCURRY: I'm not sure of all of the issues they discussed. I think they discussed things that Strobe had written.
Q Did Ambassador Talbott feel it was important to invite these Jewish leaders to speak with him to explain his positions on Israel or on the Middle East? Or did they request a meeting with him to ask him to explain himself?
MR. McCURRY: As I say, I think the meeting grew out of the on-going dialogue we have with Jewish community leaders. I think just on both sides it was agreed that it would be useful to have a chance to get together and discuss some of the issues that have arisen in the past several days.
Q Do you know if they discussed the specific writings of Mr. Talbott? For example, did he offer to explain what he meant by certain things, or did he suggest that his views may have changed or something of that sort?
MR. McCURRY: I don't know in what detail they got into that. I presume that they had discussed some of those.
Q But 90 minutes.
MR. McCURRY: I presume they discussed some of those things. There's a lot of territory to cover. I think they were very interested in a lot of other things in their discussions with Strobe, too. They talked about everything. They've talked about a lot of things that Strobe has had some immediate involvement with here in the Department -- Russia policy, Mr. Zhirinovskiy. They had a very interesting discussion that covered a wide range of areas, as I indicated.
Q There's no concern on the part of the Department about his past writings, about comparing Saddam Husayn's acquisitive attitude toward Kuwait to those of some Israeli leaders and the West Bank?
MR. McCURRY: There's nothing secret about what he's written. He put it right in the pages of Time Magazine. What he had written was available to the public, generally. As I say, his role as a journalist and as a commentator was to be provocative and to be thoughtful. His role as a government official is to execute the policies of the United States Government, and those are two different things.
Q Do you know if he will be dealing with Middle East policy in his new role as Deputy Secretary?
MR. McCURRY: As the Deputy Secretary, he will be covering a wide range of things and will have no limit to the portfolio. It will be subject to the Secretary himself.
Q But will he --
MR. McCURRY: He very like could. He very likely could, although that's clearly an area that the Secretary himself is directly involved in and engaged with. I don't want to suggest what the division of labors will be because the Secretary and the Deputy Secretary-designate will have to work that out upon the Deputy Secretary's confirmation.
Q Mike, I think I understand on the basis of your explanation why Talbott would have met with these leaders -- to discuss Talbott's past writing and his opinions of issues on the Middle East. I'm not quite sure I understand why the Secretary of State felt it necessary to discuss those issues with the Jewish leaders?
MR. McCURRY: He took advantage of the fact they were here, just to say hello to them and talk about --
Q So he did not discuss those issues with him?
MR. McCURRY: I think they said, we just had a good meeting with -- I'm sure they started the meeting and that they indicated they started the meeting by saying, "We've had a good conversation with Strobe; we covered some things," but I think they quickly moved into some other areas as well.
Q I'm trying to get at whether the Secretary -- you speak for the Secretary of State. Does the Secretary of State -- did he wake up and discover these concerns in some parts of the Jewish community and say, "I guess I better talk with some leaders of the community and see how serious a problem this is, if it is serious, or gauge the temperature of it, to put it more neutrally? Or did he not really --
MR. McCURRY: You phrased the question the wrong way. As I've indicated, we have discussions with them all the time. So I think we were aware that there were concerns, so we wanted to address those straight up.
Q When did the Secretary first become aware of those concerns?
MR. McCURRY: I think within the past several days. This issue has surfaced publicly within the last several days. I'm not sure if he had any knowledge prior to that.
Q I guess what I'm trying to get at is, did the Secretary become aware of these concerns because he read about them in various media reports? Or has he, in the course of what you say are regular consultations with leaders of major Jewish organizations, has he been told by them, "Look, we understand you're nominating Strobe Talbott, here are some concerns we have?"
MR. McCURRY: The exact timing, I don't know. I think the concern expressed was raised after a couple of news organizations looked into this and wrote about it, and I believe after the Congressman from New Jersey made some remarks towards the end of last week. I'm not aware that there was any concern raised prior to that.
Q Does the Secretary think, having had this meeting now -- first of all, does he plan to have any further consultations with Jewish leaders on this subject? I know he certainly plans to talk with them about Middle East policy in general. Does he think any further discussion on this subject is necessary, and is he worried about Talbott's nomination?
MR. McCURRY: No. We've got a lot of confidence that the Senate will greet the nomination favorably. In fact, probably a majority of the Senate has already indicated that they've greeted this nomination very favorably.
On the first point, I think the Secretary has always got an open door and is willing to discuss concerns. And if this remains a concern, clearly, he would be willing to discuss it. But there's no indication that that would be necessary.
Q I know you weren't around then, but could you remind me, I think the Secretary also had some shimmers of such problems and discussed them before his nomination/confirmation hearings with the same people, didn't he?
MR. McCURRY: I think it is now a fact of life that every nominee for every high office in this government will face intense questioning by members of the public and members of the Congress. That's how this system works.
Q Did he meet specifically with --
MR. McCURRY: He's met with all these same groups, but it was in his connection with is desire to maintain a very close working relationship with them.
Q On another subject, Mike?
MR. McCURRY: Another subject.
Q Does this government have any new or firmer evidence that Croatia is sending troops systematically into Bosnian-held --
MR. McCURRY: We have relied upon the evaluation of the United Nations in coming to the agreement that was announced by the Security Council and the Presidential statement last night, which I'm sure you're aware of, requesting the Secretary General report within two weeks on the progress towards a full and complete withdrawal of Croatian army units that are in Bosnia back to Croatia.
The Council also made it clear in that statement that it would consider serious measures if the republic of Croatia failed to put an immediate end to all forms of interference in the republic of Bosnia-Herzgovina.
Q Did the United States contribute to the United Nations pool of information?
MR. McCURRY: It contributed in a sense that we debated this, to what degree we share information that we might have had available with the other members of the Security Council. I just don't know. I think that there was a report that was prepared that represented a consensus evaluation that the Secretary General issued publicly. We certainly contributed to the formation of that understanding, as articulated by the Secretary General.
Q I've heard the figure of 20,000 new troops being infiltrated or being marched in. Does that coincide with what the U.S. Government feels is --
MR. McCURRY: No, it does not. I can't, from the podium, go through all of our evaluation of that, but certainly not a number that high. Our estimates are much more closely in line with what the Secretary General has indicated publicly.
Q Mike, did this issue come up when President Kohl was here, given the historic relationship between Germany and Croatia which reached its full fruition in the years 1939-45?
MR. McCURRY: Alan, save your history lessons. Just give me a question and you'll get an answer. Okay? The subject did come up when Kohl was here, and I think they did discuss Croatia. Croatia obviously does have ties to Germany, and they discussed this issue and what the other measures would be that might be considered.
Q Did Chancellor Kohl indicate that Germany would be willing to exert either unofficial pressure or to consider sanctions, if this is proven?
MR. McCURRY: It would be best for me not to answer that question. That would be a good question to direct to the German Government. I think they would be prepared to answer that.
Q If Croatia does not abide by the U.N. Presidential declaration, then what?
MR. McCURRY: The President's statement last night suggests that serious measures await them, and I think it's very clear that serious measures would include economic sanctions.
Q And the U.S. would support that?
MR. McCURRY: Yes.
Q Mike, do you have any reaction to the latest incident in Sarajevo where people were killed waiting for food?
MR. McCURRY: Obviously, part of the on-going tragedy that is Bosnia. It's something that not only we condemn and deplore but we are working with our partners in the international community to address as best we can.
Q Is there anything that can be done to protect people who are waiting for humanitarian aid which the international community is providing for them?
MR. McCURRY: Yes; encourage those who are warring, to cease their hostilities and cease their killing, which has been the purpose of the efforts by the international community to attempt to bring pressure on the warring parties to stop their hostilities.
Q Is there anything further that the United States is proposing to make that safe area safe -- safer?
MR. McCURRY: The safe areas, under U.N. Security Council Resolution 836, or the effort to secure and keep them safe would be something that would be addressed by UNPROFOR, and I think it would be proper to ask UNPROFOR, especially in light of the new commanders on the ground in Bosnia, to investigate what steps can be taken to secure safe areas.
Q UNPROFOR answers to the Security Council, and the United States is a member of the Security Council. You know that. I don't have to tell you that.
MR. McCURRY: They're in New York, and the folks on the ground who have got troops in safe areas.
Q I'm asking whether the United States, which is one of the people that voted for the safe areas bill, and we had a big conference here in Washington to proclaim these areas safe, I'm wondering if there's anything that the United States is proposing -- not UNPROFOR -- anything the United States is proposing to make that safe area safer? The answer is no,no.
MR. McCURRY: The United States is proposing, as we've said in the last several days, to work closely with our other partners in the international community to attempt to bring about a political settlement. That continues to be the path that we are working on.
Q But the U.S. position also continues to be that the U.S. does not have an interest in trying to exert political pressure on any of the parties at the negotiating table; right?
MR. McCURRY: The United States position is that you cannot impose, against their will, a political settlement on parties that are engaged in hostilities; it's also ultimately the position of the United States that you cannot send a massive deployment of U.S. ground troops to Bosnia to get them to stop fighting, which is ultimately the only way you can get people to stop killing each other.
Q Let me ask you this -- put it this way. What was adopted here at the Washington meeting, and which was adopted by the United Nations, is that the United States would come to the aid of UNPROFOR forces if they are threatened in the safe areas and are asked for such --
MR. McCURRY: No, incorrect. If they are under attack and if there is a request for assistance.
Q Is there any consideration being given to broadening that, since the President, in Brussels, suggested that possibility -- broadening that to afford greater protection to the people -- to the children -- of Sarajevo who are under fire?
MR. McCURRY: I'm not aware of any effort to broaden the terms of either U.N. Security Council Resolution 836 or the steps taken in the joint action plan in May.
Q New subject?
MR. McCURRY: New subject.
Q Somalia -- I'm sorry, go ahead.
Q Have you had a chance to examine a report by a mid-level State Department official charging that State Department officials essentially covered up the work of several State Department lawyers last year to define actions in Bosnia as "genocide?"
MR. McCURRY: No, I haven't.
Q You haven't seen the report?
MR. McCURRY: I've seen it, but I haven't had time to look at it.
Q Has the Secretary looked at it?
MR. McCURRY: Not that I'm aware of, no.
Q Is anybody bringing it to his attention, or is it not worth bringing it to anybody's attention?
MR. McCURRY: First of all, it's not a State Department document, as you know. It's a term paper --
Q The State Department examines a lot of things that are not its own documents.
MR. McCURRY: This is described as a term paper by a mid-level State Department employee. I don't know that the Secretary has had time to review it.
Q Is Johnson's status as a paid employee of the State Department being reviewed?
MR. McCURRY: Not that I'm aware of, no.
Q Somalia, briefly? Do you have any kind of update of what Oakley's up to, or where things stand on the negotiations?
MR. McCURRY: He was there. I don't know if we covered it on Wednesday. He met with Aideed.
MR. McCURRY: Aideed was already in Nairobi and Oakley was there for the Donor's Conference that was occurring in Kenya.
Oakley stressed the importance to all those that he had met and will meet the importance the United States attached to continued dialogue among the Somali factions, to continue its effort to try to get some agreement on national reconciliation.
He, I think yesterday, was due to go to -- Ambassador Oakley was due to go to Uganda yesterday to meet with President Museveni, and then he was planning to go to Mogadishu, I believe, either today or over the weekend. His purpose in Mogadishu would be to meet with other factional leaders and begin to test that, where things stand in the dialogue that the Somali parties themselves began and kind of solidified around the around the work of the Imam of Herab, who convened a dialogue between the factions within the last several weeks, I believe.
There are some things there that Ambassador Oakley feels could be built upon as we look ahead to the withdrawal of U.S. troops at the end of March.
Q In light of Ambassador Oakley's efforts, has there been any change or modification in the U.S. withdrawal program planned?
MR. McCURRY: No.
Q No change?
MR. McCURRY: No. We are proceeding with the President's order as given to withdraw on that date certain.
Q Michael, on China, any reaction to the release by the Chinese of three political prisoners?
MR. McCURRY: One of our on-going points of dialogue with China is over the release of prisoners. It's one of the things that is covered. We are attempting to learn more about that release and to confirm that those releases have occurred.
Obviously, the release of any of those who are held on those circumstances would be encouraging news, but it is encouraging news that must be followed by more encouraging news.
Q Do you have anything on Reverend Billy Graham delivering a letter concerning North Korea to the President today?
MR. McCURRY: I don't have anything more than -- I don't have much more than what we covered yesterday. There was an oral message that Reverend Graham had carried to North Korea with him from the President. There was then a response. The response, I think, was delivered by an aide to Billy Graham, but I'm not familiar with the contents of the response.
Q Delivered in person to the President or to aides?
MR. McCURRY: I don't believe so. I don't know the answer to that. I think it was delivered to an aide. I'm not aware that it was delivered directly to the President. I think the President -- I'd check with the White House for exactly, but I believe it was delivered to an aide.
Q Mike, what is the Secretary up to? We haven't seen him in a while.
MR. McCURRY: He's been pretty busy.
Q He's been pretty busy. Did he work a long time on that statement yesterday on the rewrite of the aid bill?
MR. McCURRY: There's been a lot on budget issues, because this is a budget period. But I would say he's been mostly engaged in -- obviously, he's very much engaged on the question of Bosnia. As I indicated to you the last several days, he intends to follow up on the discussions that he had with Foreign Secretary Hurd earlier this week.
Q Has he been in touch with any of his counterparts since --
MR. McCURRY: He has not been -- I don't believe he has been, but he plans to very shortly. He has been working on that problem. And I think, as you know, on the Middle East, the delegations have been here and I think the Secretary has from time to time --
Q (Inaudible) or did he?
MR. McCURRY: From time to time, during this informal session, he's had some meetings I think with some of the heads of delegations. I'm not sure how many.
Q And you say he plans to be in touch on Bosnia. Does he have a suggestion to make about how to reinvigorate the diplomatic process?
MR. McCURRY: He's got a reason to want to have a discussion with some of his -- Foreign Secretary Hurd; I'll leave it at that.
Q Do you anticipate a new approach to Bosnia as a result of these discussions?
MR. McCURRY: I anticipate a call between the two Ministers.
Q When do you think that might happen?
MR. McCURRY: Soon.
MR. McCURRY: I don't know.
Q Anything else on his agenda? He spent a long time on the budget, I guess, because a lot of things are changing in the budget this year?
MR. McCURRY: He's got a lot, as we briefed to you yesterday. We had, actually, most of the time -- most of the time he spent on the budget, he spent earlier --
MR. McCURRY: -- because we're at the point, it's kind of the end of the process, not the beginning of the process. But he spent a lot of time on it, and we'll anxiously await the official word of the outcome, which will happen n Monday.
Q It's pretty much just Bosnia this week, I guess?
MR. McCURRY: As the Secretary of State, I'd say he's been working on a very wide range of matters, including ones that you haven't chosen to ask about here today.
Q What we're asking about -- I'm here. I'm asking about what he's been working on.
MR. McCURRY: He's been working on Haiti. There's a lot going on on Haiti.
Q What have you got on Haiti?
MR. McCURRY: Nothing. (Laughter)
Q Any idea when the Four Friends are going to ask for sanctions?
MR. McCURRY: The Four Friends put out a statement last night saying that they were prepared to move ahead with consultations and bring to the Security Council next week a measure on expanded sanctions.
Q Thank you.
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