US DEPARTMENT OF STATE DAILY PRESS BRIEFING Tuesday February 8, 1994 BRIEFERS: Michael McCurry Subject Page ANNOUNCEMENTS Secretary to Host Discussion on New Drug Control Strategy Tomorrow ......................1-2 Asst. Secretary for International Narcotics Matters to Open Daily Press Briefing Tomorrow ..1 HAITI US Condemns Attempt by Illegitimate Senators to Take Control of Parliament ..................2 Haitian Parliament Members Visit to Washington/ Visit with Aristide.............................2-3 Prospects for Naming Prime Minister ............2-3 Status of Sanction ............................3-4 FORMER YUGOSLAVIA Prospects for US Recognition of Macedonia ......4-5,16 US Consultations with Other Governments ........5-7 Secretary's Contacts ...........................5-6 Statements by Russian Officials ................6-7 Peace Talks/US Role ............................8-9 Possible NATO Military Action ..................9-11 Update on Fighting .............................10 DEPARTMENT Secretary's Meeting with Ambassador Zimmermann .10-11 LEBANON Hezbollah Attack on Israeli Forces/Possible Role of Syria ..................................11-12 MEXICO Foreign Minister's Meeting with Secretary ......12 SYRIA US Pressure re: Terrorism ......................12-13 NATO Membership of Partners for Peace ...............13-14 Discussions with Russia ........................14 EGYPT Extremists Pledge to Attack Foreigners .........15-16 SOMALIA Ambassador Oakley's Activities .................16-17 (###)
DEPARTMENT OF STATE DAILY PRESS BRIEFING
TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 8, 1994, 1:14 P. M. (ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED)
MR. McCURRY: Good afternoon, everybody. I'd like to start with just one housekeeping matter. Tomorrow at 3:30, the Secretary will host a discussion of the Administration's new drug control strategy which the Administration will be laying out tomorrow. But our piece of this will be to talk about some of what we're doing internationally on drug control.
The Secretary's invited a group of Ambassadors and others from drug-producing, transit and consuming countries as well as some members of Congress and officials from international financial institutions and other U.S. Government agencies here to the Department for a briefing.
That will be tomorrow afternoon, as I say, at 3:30. There will be open press coverage of the Secretary's opening remarks to this group. They'll then continue closed press coverage with a briefing and a discussion.
But I thought it might be useful in light of the Administration announcing that tomorrow to ask our Assistant Secretary for International Narcotics Matters, Bob Gelbard, to be here to do a briefing for you on the international aspects of the Administration's drug control strategy, and he will join me here at the podium tomorrow during the regular afternoon briefing. We'll also have copies available of the overall Administration strategy that will be here, that will supplement what we've got going on.
Q: Where is the Christopher -- Loy Henderson?
MR. McCURRY: It doesn't say. (TO STAFF) Let's find out just where this is so I can read that into the record.
STAFF: Eighth Floor.
MR. McCURRY: It will be on the 8th Floor, and we'll let you know about pickup time and escort.
Q: Do you have a list of the Ambassadors who are being invited?
MR. McCURRY: I've got some of them, but we don't have a complete list, so let me get a complete list of those we expect to attend. We'll have that available tomorrow, too.
Next I'd like to read a statement on Haiti. On February 7, the Haitian Senate leaderships' offices were forcibly occupied by a group of Haitian Senators who were elected in January of 1992 through elections which the international community views as illegitimate.
The attempt by the so-called "senators" to wrest control over the Haitian Senate is a blatant violation of the New York Pact signed in July 1993 by Haitian parliamentarians. In the New York Pact, the Haitian parliamentarians agreed that the Senators elected in the disputed elections of 1992 would refrain from participating in parliament until the new constitutional government of President Aristide could rule on their status.
The U.S. Government condemns this latest attempt by these individuals to gain control over the Haitian Parliament. These individuals, who we do not recognize as legitimate senators, have taken advantage of the Senate President's absence from the country -- that's President Firmin Jean-Louis. They've taken advantage of his absence from the country to try to usurp his power. Such actions will only prolong the crisis situation now existing in Haiti. We will hold these individuals to the agreement they signed in New York and expect them to vacate the Senate leadership offices.
Q: How will you hold them to it? In what way will you hold them to it?
MR. McCURRY: By agreeing, they've made certain stipulations in the July 1993 agreement, saying that they will vacate. We will continue to press the matter as we discuss with them, with the group of parliamentary leaders who are here today, the necessity of them honoring the commitments that they have made.
Q: Could you say what those parliamentarians are doing here? I understand Ambassador Swing is with them here as well.
MR. McCURRY: Yes, Ambassador Swing is here. My understanding is that the Washington-based Center for Democracy invited six prominent leaders of the Haitian Parliament to attend some briefings or a seminar discussion here, I believe.
We understand that President Aristide has also agreed to meet with members of the group during their stay here. We certainly hope that will further the process of naming a new Prime Minister.
I think as many of you know, there has been great concern that the political vacuum caused by the resignation of Prime Minister Malval may in fact compound Haiti's political crisis. We think under a parliamentary system like Haiti's, the President is obligated to name a Prime Minister who is charged with forming a government that must be ratified by Parliament, and in that context we believe it would be an act of political wisdom for President Aristide to fill the political vacuum that now exists.
That's why we've urged him to name a leader who can form a strong, broad-based political coalition that can be easily confirmed by the Haitian Parliament, and that can effect completion of the unfinished steps of the Governor's Island Accord and that can pass the necessary legislation envisioned in that agreement.
So the meetings are being held with these parliamentary leaders today, and we understand the meetings that they will have with President Aristide are again part of the effort to get a political process back on track that will deal with Haiti's political crisis.
Q: Mike, when did you last urge President Aristide to choose a Prime Minister that meets the requirements you just --
MR. McCURRY: We've had regular diplomatic contact with him through members of our Haiti Working Group, including Ambassador Pezzullo.
Q: Are there any indications in this resolution that is being prepared will come up before the Security Council?
MR. McCURRY: The discussions continue. I think it's at this point imminent, but I hesitate to say. Since we've been thinking that it would occur any day, I hesitate to say it will be on a date certain. But we do believe it's imminent.
Q: Why is it taking this long?
MR. McCURRY: I think that there's a desire on our part to make sure that everyone that we're asking to deal with some of the expanded aspects of these sanctions agrees with the general thrust. We want the sanctions to be effective, and I think we've taken the time necessary to consult and to ensure that others will join in making these sanctions broader based, so that they can bring the pressure to bear on those people who we hold responsible for derailing the Governor's Island process.
Q: Are there any efforts that you're aware of to try to revive the idea of a national conference?
MR. McCURRY: I am not aware of any. I can check on that, but I haven't heard that discussed recently.
Q: Can you tell us some of the elements that are going to be in that resolution?
MR. McCURRY: As I've said in the past, we'll follow some of those things that we suggested at the end of December that might be useful in bringing more pressure to bear. I would hesitate to specify which of those things that we've discussed in the past -- whether we're talking about air traffic, whether we're talking about expanding the assets freeze -- which of these, in addition to some of the other economic trade sanctions, might be brought to bear. Let's just wait and see how the draft resolution develops at the U.N.
New subject, in the back.
Q: Could you confirm that the positive diplomatic recognition of Skopje by your government is imminent and unconditional, and what about the name?
MR. McCURRY: I think if there's anything to say about recognition by the United States Government of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, that that might likely be done by the White House and could be done soon. I think you used the word "imminent." I wouldn't dispute that characterization. I think that we've had many concerns that we've raised with the Government of Macedonia in our meetings with them in the past -- the Government of the FYROM, I should say, in the past -- and I would dispute any contention that there is conditionality or non-conditionality. I think I would just wait and see what type of statement is issued when the White House addresses this matter.
Q: Are there any other concerned governments in the area? Are there concerned governments in the area, and do they remain concerned?
MR. McCURRY: The other concerned government in the area on some specific issue is obviously Greece, and Greece and Macedonia through the Owen-Stoltenberg process have been attempting to resolve some of those issues. We've encouraged them to do so. We think that both can address these issues in good faith.
Q: Do you think Greece can live with your decision?
MR. McCURRY: It wouldn't be for me to comment on the reaction of the Government of Greece.
Q: Mike, the other day the Secretary met -- it may be more than just the other day; I've forgotten exactly when it was -- he met with the Greek Foreign Minister here in the Foreign Minister's role as President of the EU. But in the Photo Op Q&A session with the Secretary, Secretary Christopher used the word "Skopje" when responding to a question about Macedonia.
Should we read that as his and the Administration's view of the name of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia?
MR. McCURRY: No. I think the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia is the designation we use for discussing that former constituent Republic of Macedonia, and we'll wait and see whether that might in fact be the way that recognition occurs. Some different governments have addressed that issue in different ways, I think as you know.
Q: Does he have any -- what was the explanation for his use of the word "Skopje" then? Was he being polite to the Greek Foreign Minister?
MR. McCURRY: It was a shorthand use in the way sometimes you say, well, Washington may say something when you are talking about the United States Government. I think it was just a shorthand way of referring to things.
Q: (Inaudible) -- when you refer to Tel Aviv, for instance. (Laughter) Is it still a fact that the Secretary doesn't plan to go to Brussels and Bob Hunter will be in charge of the presentations?
MR. McCURRY: I'm not aware of any plans by the Secretary to travel to Brussels.
Q: Can you shed any light on what the timing or procedures are going to be for letting the rest of the world know what it is the U.S. is secretively proceeding on its whatever --
Q: Determined course.
Q: Determined course, right.
MR. McCURRY: I think that we are pursuing a very determined and deliberate course with our allies. We have been in very close contact with them. They certainly know fully our intentions. We certainly know their views.
Q: They know our intentions?
MR. McCURRY: And I think that we will be in a position to discuss publicly aspects of our approach on these questions later this week.
Q: Was he on the phone again today -- the Secretary?
MR. McCURRY: He's been on the phone.
Q: Can you give us any Ministers he's talked to?
MR. McCURRY: He's talked to, among others, Foreign Secretary Hurd again, Foreign Secretary Juppe again, and Foreign Minister Kinkel, among others.
Q: Don't you have a (inaudible) problem with the Russians?
MR. McCURRY: He's been in discussion with Foreign Minister Kozyrev. Ambassador Jim Collins from our NIS shop is in Moscow, has met, I believe, today with officials at the Russian Foreign Ministry.
Q: Mike, since this war began, which predates the Administration, obviously, the question of what to do has been discussed at countless NATO summits and Foreign Ministers' meetings, CSCE summits and G-7 summits. What makes this round of consultation different from those?
MR. McCURRY: Consultations are consultations, and you're correct that there have been many. I think what makes this different is that an awful lot of history has transpired and an awful lot of dying has occurred.
Q: So in some sense, Saturday's tragic events meant some kind of line was crossed? I'm just groping for --
MR. McCURRY: I wouldn't characterize it as that. I think there have been deaths. The deaths of 68 people in the open air market on Saturday was a tragedy, but it is no more horrible or less horrible than the deaths of each and every one of the people, the innocent civilians who have been killed in Bosnia during the course of this long war.
Q: But you just said in response to my previous question that there have been many consultations. But you seem to suggest that a cumulated weight of history or the cumulated weight of the tragedy has made this set of consultations qualitatively different from past ones.
MR. McCURRY: I just said that what made them different is that time has passed, the events on the ground are not the same as they have been in the past, and that's the easiest way to describe how the consultations are different in response to your question.
Q: Can you return a moment to Russia. There have been all sorts of interesting and somewhat provocative statements out of various Ministers, one of them saying that if the West decides to bomb, it will lead to World War III.
How seriously is the U.S. taking Russian opposition, and is it regarded as a block?
MR. McCURRY: I'm not familiar with the statement you've just referred to, but I do know that the Russian Foreign Ministry issued a statement of February 6, the day after the attack Saturday in the market, saying that Russia was indignant at the terrorist attack committed in Sarajevo and emphasizing the need to carry out a speedy and impartial inquiry.
Those guilty of the crime, the Russian Foreign Ministry statement said, should be severely punished. We have, as I've mentioned to you many times, had direct contact with Foreign Minister Kozyrev through Secretary Christopher, and our NIS Coordinator Collins, as I said, has now traveled to Moscow for additional consultations with the Russian Government.
The statements that you refer to, I think that we have a very clear view of thinking within the Russian Government based on the discussions that we've been having, and I'm not sure that that represents our understanding of their thinking.
Q: Deputy Foreign Minister Churkin says, and I quote, that if NATO bombs, it will "cast a very dark shadow on our relationship" to Western Europe.
Do you regard the Russians as saying don't bomb; don't do this?
MR. McCURRY: His remark was entirely speculative, obviously, and, as I just described to you, the discussions that we're having with them -- I don't know that Vitaly Churkin's remark reflects our full understanding the views of the Russian Government.
Q: But do you have the sense that their public remarks are different from what they're telling you in private?
MR. McCURRY: We're working very directly with other governments on the question of Bosnia, and we consider authoritative those things that they tell us in direct diplomatic exchanges. There's a lot of public commentary by various officials, but what we have to rely upon are those things that we are told in direct response to diplomatic discussions.
Q: And they're saying military action is okay?
MR. McCURRY: I didn't characterize their views on the subject one way or another.
Q: Mike, is the Administration --
Q: Let him finish the sentence. You were about to say?
MR. McCURRY: No. I said I didn't characterize the views of the Russian Government one way or another. They would really speak for themselves publicly, and we are aware that there are some comments by various people within the Russian Government -- somewhat conflicting remarks from different ministries, as you indicated in your question.
Q: Is our uncertainty about Russia's position on airstrikes the reason that we don't want this issue to go back before the Security Council?
MR. McCURRY: I don't know that we've ever said we don't want it to. I just think as a practical matter under Security Council Resolution 836 and 844, the procedure for actions that we are in discussion with our allies about now is clear. There is not a need under those resolutions to return a matter to the Security Council.
Q: But the Russians think it should go back before the Security Council, and we are telling them we don't. I mean, the Russians have lawyers, too.
MR. McCURRY: That's I guess a question of I'm not familiar with how they interpret the resolution, but I can offer you our interpretation. I think I have. It is that we don't view some of the things we've discussed in recent days as requiring a return to the Security Council for further Security Council action. We think 836 and 844 are pretty clear in that respect.
Q: Would you characterize the United States' role in this Bosnian problem as a more aggressive, more leading role? Has the general view been that last year you looked to the Europeans to play the primary role -- U.S. humanitarian, etc. Is the U.S. now getting into the leadership of this alliance on this issue?
MR. McCURRY: I think it's pretty obvious that we are, but I'd leave it to others to characterized that.
Q: Do you intend to participate in a different way to the Geneva talks which start tomorrow?
MR. McCURRY: I think that remains to be seen.
Q: Is it conceivable, or is it under consideration that Ambassador Redman would actually be sitting in the room now rather than just being an observer?
MR. McCURRY: I wouldn't rule that out, but by not ruling that out, I wouldn't suggest that that's anything different than what's happened in the past. He has on occasion, I think, sat and observed the discussions in the past. I don't know that that would be something that --
Q: But him doing that again is now under consideration?
MR. McCURRY: Let's just wait and see.
Q: When you say it's pretty obvious that we are -- meaning that the U.S. is getting into the leadership here --
MR. McCURRY: I think it's pretty obvious that we are engaged very directly with our allies in fashioning a response not only to the recent events but to the long history of efforts to obtain a political settlement through negotiation. The level of activity that we've described for you would suggest that the United States is heavily involved in seeking a solution, of course.
Q: It seems to imply that the U.S. has not been in the leadership on this issue in the months preceding this breakpoint or whatever you'd care to describe this current --
MR. McCURRY: That would be an interpretation that you'd have to make. I'm not in a position to comment.
Q: Mike, can I ask a couple questions about the Secretary's remarks a few minutes ago, one in particular? He talked about the -- in response to a question about whether the diplomatic reinvigoration could forestall the need for military action. He said that one of those tracks -- the diplomatic track he called it -- would not take the place of the other; that they were interlocked.
Does that mean that even if there's a reinvigoration of the diplomatic track, that it is now the U.S. view that something has to actually occur on the military track as well; that one would not take the place of the other?
MR. McCURRY: I wouldn't want you to read too much into this, but I think that we have always said in the past -- and I think it is true -- that a use of force or threat of force should be designed to contribute to an overall strategy that would lead to a conclusion of the hostilities.
So I think the Secretary is suggesting that the two are related, that you don't use military force in any situation without some sense of what the purpose is and what the objective is.
Q: You just now said "Use of force or a threat of force." The question that he answered was about military action. He said, "One doesn't take the place of the other." Is it the U.S. view now that some military action as distinct from what you describe as a "threat of force" is required as part of this dual-track approach the Bosnia problem?
MR. McCURRY: Is military action required?
Q: He said, "One doesn't take the place of the other." The question wasn't about a threat; a threat is not military action.
MR. McCURRY: I think any military action or military threats contemplated under the work that NATO might be doing would be something that I have to leave to be addressed later in the week.
Q: Mike, Secretary General Boutros-Ghali's letter, which President Clinton welcomed, spoke about a response to future Serb attacks on Sarajevo. Is that your understanding, too, that you would have to wait for another atrocity in order to react?
MR. McCURRY: His letter discussed ways in which you might deter the type of violence that we've seen in Sarajevo in recent days, in my reading of the letter.
Q: So it was a threat, as a deterrence, to future attacks rather than a reaction or punishment of the past atrocities?
MR. McCURRY: I think that's a correct reading of the letter. Yes. But, for clarification, you might want to ask the United Nations that.
Q: Well, then just very briefly, does the United States endorse that approach?
MR. McCURRY: I'm not going to comment on that.
Q: Can we turn to a hypothetical military action to what's actually happening in Tuzla -- tanks, anything?
MR. McCURRY: I asked to check into that. We're aware of some fighting near Tuzla in north-central Bosnia. It appears to be of limited scope. Contrary to some reports, we don't have any reliable evidence that tanks are actively engaged there.
Q: The U.S. is reporting heavy shelling on Bihac. Do you have anything on that? And do you see it as a new challenge by the Serbs?
MR. McCURRY: We've got reports of sporadic shelling by Krajina Serb forces on several villages in the region of Zadar, which, I think, is along the Dalmatian Coast. I don't know about anything around the Bihac pocket.
On and off, there continues to be sporadic fighting throughout all of eastern and central Bosnia.
Q: But this morning, apparently -- and it might be interesting for you to check -- the U.N. is reporting heavy shelling, which is not exactly sporadic fighting.
MR. McCURRY: My fighting update does not indicate that, but we'll certainly check that out.
Q: As part of these consultations, has the Secretary met with Ambassador Zimmermann?
MR. McCURRY: I don't know. I know that they had intended to get together when the Secretary returned. I don't know whether that's happened or not. I can check on that.
Q: Mike, is there a message, other than the ones you've already said, for Belgrade in all of these threats? Is there some way this threat is going to somehow include -- the threat of airstrikes somehow include Belgrade or abutting areas to it?
MR. McCURRY: I'm not aware that we've described any threat. I don't know what you're talking about.
Q: The threat of airstrikes?
MR. McCURRY: The threat of airstrikes that currently exists are those that date back to the NATO communiques and the reaffirmation of those communiques in January. If there's more to say on that subject, there might be more to say on that later in the week, as I suggested.
Q: Can we ask you about southern Lebanon?
Q: A couple more here. Is there anything about the Administration's consideration of a policy on Bosnia now that would change the Secretary's public statements -- I think just two weeks ago -- about continuing the U.S. position of not being prepared to put ground forces in Bosnia, number one; and not being prepared to impose a settlement on the Bosnian Muslims?
MR. McCURRY: I'm not aware of anything that we are discussing within the United States Government or with our allies that would change either one of those statements.
Q: Southern Lebanon: Do you have any analysis of how the Syrians are dealing with the radical groups in southern Lebanon after now the President's use of praise in the Geneva meetings being terribly peace-minded?
MR. McCURRY: You're referring to the attack on Israeli forces by Hezbollah, which we think is part of a declared campaign that is designed to sabotage the peace process itself. We continue to believe strongly that the answer to that type of violence and that type of campaign is for a demonstrated progress in the peace process itself. That's what our efforts are working on.
Q: Do you agree with Rabin's assessment that Syria could stop it -- the (inaudible) of Hezbollah?
MR. McCURRY: We think that they can have some influence on that, and we regularly and strongly urge them to use that influence.
Q: Are they using it? Would there have been eight people killed if you didn't have a Geneva meeting?
MR. McCURRY: That's not a question that is easy to answer.
Q: It's hard to trace, but bases aren't hard to trace. Syria's control of Lebanon isn't very hard to detect.
MR. McCURRY: As I say, we regularly and often encourage Syria to use its influence to try to end the campaign of sabotage against the peace process itself. I think we stressed that in the very meeting in Geneva that you're referring to.
Q: But if one refuses to use their influence to -- their obvious influence -- to control events, what does it say about the one who's there --
MR. McCURRY: The premise of your question is that they've refused to use their influence. I can't take that premise.
Q: It's only being an accessory to the crime, I guess.
MR. McCURRY: I can't take that premise of that question. Another question.
Q: Are you still seeing evidence of Katyusha rockets coming through Syria's main airports and airfields to the Hezbollah?
MR. McCURRY: I have not looked at that question recently enough to be able to answer. I don't have an answer.
Q: Do you have anything on the meeting with the Mexican Foreign Secretary?
MR. McCURRY: No. I think the lunch was underway. They had just gotten together moments before the briefing. The Secretary, in his statement, outlined the subjects that I know that he intended to cover. They will probably will also -- certainly, the Secretary was determined to hear more about the government's efforts to bring about political reconciliation in Chiapas. I think he was also going to reiterate the importance we placed on the investigation of possible human rights abuses in Chiapas.
Q: Returning to Syria for just one more. Is it fair to say that the U.S. Government is satisfied with Syria's continued restraint on the issue of supporting certain terrorists groups?
MR. McCURRY: To say we're satisfied would indicate that we are not continuing to press that matter. I think you can judge from my previous answer that we continue to press them on that question.
Q: I wish I can recall the recent statements. They're all muddled in my mind now. But I thought I had been reading about how over the last several years the U.S. has found a sharp change in Syria's connection to terrorism. I think they're not directly involved anymore.
Q: Less supportive.
Q: Less supportive. I think we've been hearing the "less supportive." So I guess the direct question is, is Syria still supporting Hezbollah, and what does the U.S. Government think about that?
MR. McCURRY: I think they continue to provide comfort and hospitality, in a sense, in Damascus to groups that are associated with campaigns to sabotage the peace process. That continues to be a source of very real concern to us, and it continues to account for their listing on the U.S. Government's terrorism list.
Q: Mike, do you have a list of the countries that have applied for partnership for peace, or could you get one?
MR. McCURRY: We can get that. As you know, I believe Hungary today has joined as a partner. There's another country joining today, too. Ukraine has joined it as well today, but we can get a list for you.
I know that the Pentagon has also been working on the Partnership agreements and keeping track of them. We'll certainly post the list for you here as well.
Q: The intent of the question is this: When it was announced, it was announced as a way of not dividing Europe again -- of not drawing new lines for Europe. I so far haven't detected any application from Russia -- maybe I'm wrong about that -- but are you concerned that inadvertently or willy-nilly the fact is that a lot of countries have applied and Russia hasn't; the line is being drawn?
MR. McCURRY: I wouldn't suggest that. There are individual countries that are making their own determinations about when to formally join as a Partner for Peace, and then also making their own individual judgments on how to structure their partnership agreement with NATO and how they will carry out their role as a Partner for Peace. I think it differs in each and every case.
I think you've heard us say over and over again, from the beginning of our work on this, that there is no intent in fashioning the Partnership for Peace to draw any new dividing lines through Europe nor is this some policy of containment. This is a way to bring the security interests of Europe together and to equip NATO to deal with the security challenges that will exist in the future, into the next century.
I think the fact that so many of the East European countries are joining with enthusiasm as partners is something that is obviously gratifying to us and it shows that our initial concept in designing the Partnership for Peace is proving to be an effective one.
Q: Still on that. Beyond the discussions that were held during the Clinton summit -- and probably in a day or so, or right after that in Moscow -- have there been any further discussions with Russia about its joining Partnership for Peace? For example, in all the talks the Secretary has had with Mr. Kozyrev in the last few days, has there been any discussion of that?
MR. McCURRY: As you well know, the conversations of the last several days have not been on a full range of bilateral matters. They've been on the crisis in Bosnia, so you wouldn't expect there to be a full discussion of Partnership for Peace. There has been on-going dialogue with Russia about how to participate as a partner. The Russian representatives in Brussels, who have attended some of the NACC discussions there, have expressed enthusiasm for the Partnership concept.
I remember as recently as two or three weeks ago, they actually had a meeting of NACC Ambassadors there in which the Russian representative was very enthusiastic about the Partnership concept and indicated that they were, within his government, reviewing ways in which they might participate.
Q: I'm just trying to get at, there are a number of countries that have moved very promptly to work on agreements, including some that have actually joined. Has Russia done anything like moving promptly on working out an agreement that they've joined?
MR. McCURRY: They've moved promptly to explore ways in which they might participate with NATO, but I don't know that they've worked to conclude any type of Partnership agreement.
Q: Mike, sort of related to that -- the Collins thing. Didn't Jim Collins go to Russia primarily for Bosnia?
MR. McCURRY: He'll cover a range of things. But his presence there makes it an effective link to discuss Bosnia with the Russian Government.
Q: When did he go?
MR. McCURRY: I believe he went -- I don't know the answer to that. I believe he went last night; sometime yesterday.
Q: Is the U.S. concerned that the Bosnia issue could have some sort of repercussion for Yeltsin domestically with some of the constituent groups that have caused him trouble before? Is that part of your calculation as you address Russia on this issue?
MR. McCURRY: We always take a range of considerations into mind when we fashion an approach on an important international crisis.
Q: On Egypt, do you have --
Q: Is that "yes?"
MR. McCURRY: It's as close to "yes" as I'm going to get.
Q: On Egypt, do you have anything to say about the extremist campaign to expel foreigners?
MR. McCURRY: Yes, I do, to just kind of reiterate what they have done so far. They've issued two statements yesterday that reiterate the previous threats that they made against foreign tourism and investment in Egypt.
The statements say, the extremist will attack foreign tourism and investment for supporting the Egyptian Government, and they call on all consultates to advise their citizens to leave Egypt.
Everyone should know our Embassy in Cairo takes these threats seriously. It has informed Americans in Egypt of the latest threats, and has consulted with Egyptian security officials, U.S. business groups, and hotels about appropriate security measures.
The threat and the level of the threat, as it's reflected by these recent statements, is covered in our most recent consular information sheet which discusses the nature of threats to foreigners in Egypt.
Q: So tourists can still free to go to Egypt; just be careful?
MR. McCURRY: We provide some very direct information there about what types of precautions need to be taken. It notes that there have been no threats specifically against Americans or U.S. businesses in Egypt. But our bottom line is that extremist violence is possible anywhere in the country. I think that remains an accurate assessment given the statements of the last several days.
Q: So the only thing that would trigger a change in that statement -- or maybe not the only thing, but one thing that would trigger a change in that interpretation is if the next statement by a group in Egypt didn't just say, "foreigners and advising foreign consulates," but if it said "foreigners, including American," then you would have to change that to say that there have been specific threats against Americans?
MR. McCURRY: That is trying to make light of a very serious situation, Ralph. Whenever there is a threat of this nature, we review the language in the information sheet to ensure that it accurately reflects the current situation. I think they review it constantly. They're reviewing the nature of the threat and the language in the information sheet now. But I don't think we should make light of something that's obviously -- something we want people to take seriously.
Q: I don't think so either.
MR. McCURRY: Right back there. Yes, a question back there.
Q: Over Macedonia --
Q: Can I follow up on Egypt for just a second? I think American businesses and tourists would be interested in knowing what the State Department -- the U.S. Government's advice is, best advice of what to do; not about whether it's an --
MR. McCURRY: You're absolutely correct, and it's exactly why we, on January 5, updated our consular information sheet for Egypt.
Q: And those two statements don't change that?
MR. McCURRY: We assess those things -- they look at it very carefully. Everything that is precise about the threats that exists is currently reflected in that consular information sheet.
Q: Considering the recognition of Macedonia last week, State Secretary Christopher, in answering a question, mentioned very clearly the name "Macedonia." So, would you like to explain this use of name?
MR. McCURRY: He was using a shorthand reference to the former Yugoslav republic of Macedonia.
Q: Not at least what we got here?
MR. McCURRY: I'm sorry?
Q: What we got here, it was the name of "Macedonia."
MR. McCURRY: He was referring in a shorthand way to the former Yugoslav republic of Macedonia, much as people very often say the United States is a shorthand way of referring to the United States of America.
Q: Somalia: Has the building had a chance -- have the people in the building had a chance to digest what Ambassador Oakley has been doing over there? Is he back yet?
How do you assess Aideed and the rest of the clans towards peace at this time?
MR. McCURRY: I don't have an assessment today on what he has been doing. If I recall correctly from yesterday, he had some on-going discussions with members of other factions within Mogadishu planned. He continues to report back on the progress that is possible towards achieving national reconciliation. I think it would be too much to characterize those reports as encouraging, but he continues to work on the question of how you create better security situations within Somalia and how do you address the on-going need to build a civil structure that will allow humanitarian efforts and political reconstruction efforts to continue.
Q: The guy back there has been trying to get --
MR. McCURRY: He's been trying to ask the last question for some time. In the back.
Q: It's apparently been reported in South Korea that the Foreign Minister might bring his visit forward to Washington and might even be arriving within the next few days. Can you confirm --
MR. McCURRY: I don't discount that possibility, but I don't have any details on that or any confirmation of that.
Q: Thank you.
MR. McCURRY: You're welcome.
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