US DEPARTMENT OF STATE DAILY PRESS BRIEFING Wednesday February 9, 1994 BRIEFERS: Michael McCurry Subject Page FORMER YUGOSLAVIA NATO Meeting Today re: Heavy Weapons Ban around Sarajevo ..................................................................1-19 US/Secretary's Diplomatic Efforts ..............................1-7,18 US Consultations with Other Governments ........................1-7,18 Report of Ceasefire by Military Commanders .......................2,12 European Trip of Peter Tarnoff/Charles Redman .....................3-4 Commitment to Protect UNPROFOR ......................................4 HAITI Aristide's Statement on US Immigration Policy ......................19 US Immigration Policy/Agreement with GoH ........................19-20 US Recommends Naming Prime Minister/ Broadening Coalition .................................................................19-20 FORMER YUGOSLAV REPUBLIC OF MACEDONIA US Recognition ....................................................................20 SOUTH KOREA Visit to US by Delegation ....................................................................20 (###)
DEPARTMENT OF STATE DAILY PRESS BRIEFING
WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 9, 1994, 1:15 P.M. (ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED)
MR. McCURRY: Good afternoon everybody. I will explain in a moment my tardiness today, but I'd also like to say that I expect at some point towards the end of the briefing to be joined by Assistant Secretary for International Narcotics matters, Bob Gelbard, who is going to tell you a little bit about the event the Secretary is having later today and also brief a little bit about our role in the Administration's Drug Control Strategy which is being announced today. I'll think he'll be here around 2:00 because he's out in Prince Georges County with the President now. I will defer to him when he arrives.
I also was delaying so that I could get our latest report from Brussels and let you know what we know of the work that's being done by Permanent Representatives at NATO today. We understand that the discussions are going very well. I believe that the representatives themselves are sort of holding back a public discussion of their decisions until they complete their work today.
There are conversations going on. I think many of the principals in the United States Government have been reviewing many of the questions arising out of the discussion today, but we're encouraged by what we're hearing and think that they are making very good progress on a U.S.-French initiative that was presented today by Ambassador Hunter and others.
So, with that, I expect that as the day goes on, anything I tell you now will probably be overtaken by things that others might say within our government. We remain hopeful that there will be an affirmative decision on the presentation that the United States has made today in Brussels.
With that just as an opening, why don't I take some questions.
Q Would you care to (inaudible) the presentation?
MR. McCURRY: I don't want to get too elaborately into detail because I think there are many things that are still under discussion that are being reviewed by the Permanent Representatives today. It grows out of Secretary Christopher's sense, beginning well over a week go, that the Europeans were basically coming to us and saying that we need the United States of America. We made clear -- began to think about ways in which we could enter into this process to move closer to our overall objective, and I think the objective of the world community, to bring an end to the fighting and the hostilities in Bosnia.
So I think the Secretary began work on an initiative that would address both the need to move forward with diplomacy aimed at a negotiated settlement, but also simultaneously to address the horrible siege of Sarajevo which we've seen repeatedly over many months and which we certainly saw dramatically in the slaughter this past weekend.
The general thrust of the presentation, I think you've seen a lot described in news accounts today that I don't dispute. It involves making sure that Bosnian Serb artillery can no longer rain terror on the innocent civilians of Sarajevo. It's designed to exclude from the zone around Sarajevo the type of heavy weaponry that can inflict the damage we saw this past weekend.
Q Michael, what do you know about the cease-fire agreement signed in Sarajevo? And what impact that type of agreement made on the ground can have on the discussions in Brussels?
MR. McCURRY: We've obviously have seen some of the reports from General Rose, the UNPROFOR commander in Sarajevo, that they have -- apparently with the local Bosnian Serb and Bosnian Muslim commanders -- worked out some type of cease-fire. We will learn more about that, but that can conceivably contribute to the type of decision that NATO is making today. It would certainly not be a substitute for it because, as everyone here knows, we've seen cease-fires repeatedly in Bosnia that have then be abrogated.
I think the importance of the work going on today at NATO is to ensure that any agreement to withdraw heavy weaponry from around Sarajevo would be enforced by the alliance. That's the discussion they have underway today.
So it could very well end up complementing the decision today, since the decision they're working on at NATO involves the voluntary withdrawal by the Bosnian Serbs of their heavy weaponry beyond the limit. Obviously, the decision under discussion in Brussels also involves an enforcement mechanism which would be the threat of NATO airstrikes.
Q Michael, you mentioned that Secretary Christopher has started thinking about how the U.S. can contribute to the diplomatic effort. Since that's not under negotiation at Brussels now, can you tell us a little bit more about what ideas he has about moving the negotiations forward?
MR. McCURRY: I'll be limited in describing that because, as some of you know, Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs, Peter Tarnoff, departed with Ambassador Charles Redman, our Special Envoy, to major European capitals last night to really work with them on ideas that we have developed and that we want to share with them on invigorating the diplomatic dialogue.
I think they will, at a proper time, set forth some of the premise of that effort. But I think for me, right now, to do so would be a little premature because it's still very much discussion with our European allies.
Q Mike, would it be fair to say that Tarnoff and Redman actually don't have any new ideas; they're going out and talk to the Europeans, and they're going to come up with some new ideas once they engage in those consultations?
MR. McCURRY: I got a double negative in there. What was the question? It would be fair to say what?
Q They actually don't have any firm, new ideas --
MR. McCURRY: No, I don't think --
Q -- that they're going to come up with them in consultations?
MR. McCURRY: I think that would be incorrect. I think they're presenting some new U.S. thinking on the questions to our Europeans. And, clearly, there have been many discussions. As I think you know, the Secretary was in Paris and met with the French. He then met with Foreign Secretary Douglas Hurd of Great Britain. So I think he's got a sense of some of the thinking of the allies already, and that went into the formulation of some of the ideas that we are now sharing.
But I think nothing changes the description that the Secretary has given you of our approach in that effort to reinvigorate the dialogue; that we see a need at this point to encourage movement by all three parties towards a solution. But we will not allow the net result of that process to be imposing on the Muslims, the aggrieved party, something that is unacceptable to them.
Q Mike, how can you get to the point in Paris, where officials are talking France's strange moral calculus, to the position today where you're actually uniting around a joint proposal? What was the chain of events that brought --
MR. McCURRY: I think quiet diplomacy as opposed to public diplomacy. I think that there was an effort to really work with the French and the British and then with others within Europe that we have worked with on Bosnia to begin to address a serious effort that makes sense from our perspective. That is to say, it would be an effort that would represent an agreement by the parties that could be implemented in good faith and did not require extraordinary concessions by the Muslims that they are not in a position to make.
Q If this turns out to be put U.N. peacekeepers in danger or taken hostage or fired at, or whatever, is there a NATO or U.S. commitment to come to their aid?
MR. McCURRY: There was a NATO and U.S. commitment to come to the aid of UNPROFOR ground troops under attack prior to any decision that was discussed in Brussels today. So that was in effect and was long-standing. But I would say that in working through the decisions that are under discussion and coming up with the initiative that the United States has presented along with France, we certainly were well aware of the concerns of those nations that had troops on the ground and took them very much into consideration in fashioning the initiative.
Saul, this time.
Q Two questions. First, I'd like to know what capitals, if you know them, Tarnoff and Redman are going to? And, second, would it fair to say that --
MR. McCURRY: One at a time. London, Paris, and Bonn are the stops that Under Secretary Tarnoff will make.
Q In that order?
MR. McCURRY: It may have been Bonn, London, and Paris. Some combination of the three. They left last night, and were moving pretty quickly. I'm not sure exactly in what order. Their intent was to conclude the round of discussions, I guess, today because Ambassador Redman's plans are to be in Geneva when the parties reconvene for discussions tomorrow.
Q Will Tarnoff go, too?
MR. McCURRY: No. Under Secretary Tarnoff will return here. He was just present along with Ambassador Redman for these consultations in the three capitals.
Q The other thing that I wanted to ask is --
MR. McCURRY: There will be, by the way, additional consultations not only with our allies but obviously serious and substantive consultations with members of Congress as well.
Q Since we seem to be on two tracks, as some people in the White House have described them -- one, military track, which is now in cooperation with France on what seem to us to be a French proposal at first, and now I wonder whether in the diplomatic track the United States is going to try to work more closely with France than it was, say, three weeks ago?
MR. McCURRY: I think we will work very closely with the Government of France and with other European Governments. I'm not singling out France; but I think it's clear that in working together on some of the proposals in Brussels, we've had a very cooperative and good working relationship in trying to address the situation. We certainly hope that continues as we look at ways in which we might reinvigorate the diplomatic process.
Q Does this mean that the United States, rather than, in a sense, standing to the side as the French try to grapple with this diplomatically, that the United States is going to be now more closely involved with the Europeans in grappling with this diplomatically?
MR. McCURRY: That's a qualitative judgment that I would have to make to answer the question. But I think, as a fact, that we have been very intensely involved with the Europeans both at the North Atlantic Council today and we will be as we begin to look at the prospects for a political settlement. I think that does represent some change from the position that we've been in. I don't deny that for a moment.
Q Michael, have you been able to steer the French away from what you presented at one point as their desire or their willingness to put pressure on the Muslims?
MR. McCURRY: I think we've got a lot in common in the way that we approach. We'll certainly have to see what kind of reaction they have to some of the ideas that we share. But as I said before, we certainly feel comfortable that there has not been a change in our overall view that you cannot impose a settlement upon the Muslims that's unacceptable. I don't think that our views on that are well-known and well understood at this point.
Q Do you have any reaction to Russia's apparent discomfort or to the bombing ultimatum?
MR. McCURRY: There have been a variety of statements publicly. I hesitate to summarize them because they really need to speak for themselves. But the thrust of them was, they didn't want to see a premature reprisal for the attack on Saturday. Certainly, the plan of action that is being developed at NATO today is consistent with the view that there should not be some spasmodic response; that there needs to be a sustained effort to ensure that that type of atrocity does not happen again.
Q But can you say (inaudible) the details of some of the evidence of whether or not he at least tested the waters on the arms embargo while he was --
MR. McCURRY: I really do not want to get into any of the substance. They're clearly meeting today, and we'll be discussing things in the days ahead. The point at which we can begin to get more publicly into that dialogue, we'll certainly do it.
I think that they are looking at ways -- there have been various points in this dialogue within the peace process between the three parties, as sponsored by the European Union and the United Nations, there have been points at which the parties were very close to agreement, in which the Muslims found themselves seeing something that would be acceptable. The question is: What additional things are necessary to make sure that they get a deal that they are, in fact, comfortable and that they think will be effective in restoring Bosnia and seeing both reconciliation and reconstruction and some type of rebuilding of their shattered nation.
Q You've said several different times now that you cannot impose a settlement on the Muslims that is unacceptable to them. On the other hand, you can start talking to them with a different tone, which is not to ask them to accept something but to remind them that this war in the long run is probably not going to go in their favor.
Are you having tough-love talks with the Muslims now that perhaps you weren't?
MR. McCURRY: That's a cute phrase that will go over well on television but not a formal briefing at the U.S. State Department.
Q Are you starting to talk to the Muslims?
MR. McCURRY: I think there has to be discussions about the reality of the situation on the ground -- what can be done to improve the quality of the territory that can become Bosnia -- that it becomes a viable entity. Those are serious discussions. Are they tough discussions? I think we would hope that they would be good discussions, but I don't want to characterize discussions that haven't started to occur yet.
Q How much opposition are you getting from the allies -- from Canada, Greece, the U.S. --
MR. McCURRY: I think I have to leave it to individual governments to reflect their own views on the proposal that was discussed today at NATO. I think that we worked very aggressively to try to bring those views into consideration as we address and develop our own package. I think the President himself was involved extensively in phone calls with some of his counterparts. I think all of you know how much the Secretary was involved back and forth with the various Foreign Ministers to try to take into account some of the concerns that we did hear expressed.
I think there's been a good discussion today. Obviously, it's a little premature at this point to say that all those concerns have been resolved because we don't have a final decision yet.
Q To what extent does the plan that is now being formed involve a timeline or a deadline?
MR. McCURRY: It was very important to the United States that there be a date certain by which things had to occur. That's very much a part of the discussions underway today in Brussels.
Q Is there agreement now on what that date certain will be?
MR. McCURRY: I can't say that, Jim. I know you may have seen on the wires that there are some sources in Brussels, suggesting that they've got that agreement, but I can't say that here and now. We don't know that.
Q Mike, you said in your opening statement that Secretary Christopher began to look at this situation a week ago. Are you saying that --
MR. McCURRY: He's been looking at the problem of Bosnia for some time. I think his sense that there needed to be an assertive U.S. role in trying to, as we say, reinvigorate the diplomatic process aimed at a negotiated settlement, that really began to take shape a week and a half ago following his meetings with Alan Juppe in Paris, and then sort of reinforced by his conversations with Douglas Hurd of Great Britain. It was really a sense on the Secretary's part that the United States just really needed to be in the picture.
Q Okay. So what you're saying is that the diplomatic end of this package predates the attack on Saturday.
MR. McCURRY: Yes. Absolutely. In the sense that, remember we had an incident several weeks ago in which children sledding in Sarajevo were slaughtered. These horrible incidents over the weekend, as dramatic as they were and as the pictures as grizzly as they were, was not the incentive to go and do something. It was the sense that really the United States was needed by the European Community which has been attempting to address this issue now for 22 months.
Q If indeed this package at NATO passes the joint U.S.-French proposal, as you hope it does, and if the Serbs either renege on their promise to withdraw artillery or engage in shelling against the citizens of Sarajevo, would that bring an immediate NATO military response?
MR. McCURRY: I'm sorry. I lost track of that question.
Q In other words, if they don't pull back the heavy artillery -- if this thing passes, they don't pull back the heavy artillery, or if they shell again after the proposal passes -- I believe there's a component in there that addresses that -- would it bring an immediate NATO military response?
MR. McCURRY: That's the nature of the discussion they're having today in Brussels. That's certainly the general thrust and broad outline of the initiative presented by the United States today, yes.
Q Mike, can you just say from the U.S. point of view, is any civilian shelling in Sarajevo something that would trigger a response, or is it like a strangulation where, I'd say, it was, you know, a group of ten or 68. There are different degrees of --
MR. McCURRY: You'll learn more about the decision as you hear more from Brussels today, but the intent of the proposal that's under discussion there today is to in effect create a no-artillery zone around Sarajevo. They're discussing the questions of how long do you give the parties to voluntarily create that zone, and then how wide is the zone itself. Those are the types of details that I believe are still under consideration. There's some back and forth going on right now between governments.
The intent is to turn that into a zone in which there is no artillery allowed. Mortars are highly mobile. People can move in and out -- the so-called "scoot and shoot" types of systems that might be there. What we're trying to do is in effect create a zone in which we don't allow it and we hit and strike it when we see it and certainly when it's used.
Q And that includes the Bosnian Government.
MR. McCURRY: The Bosnian Government for all practical purposes has very limited weaponry of this nature available to it in Sarajevo. The discussion that's underway now is their way of creating some type of UNPROFOR monitoring of those weapons so that they will be placed in effect under UNPROFOR custody.
But it's not as significant issue, obviously, as the Bosnian Serb artillery, which is responsible certainly for the event on Friday and for previous events in which UNPROFOR has been able to assign responsibility.
Q Does the United States favor demilitarizing Sarajevo by either control -- bringing under control the Muslim guns or taking them away from them?
MR. McCURRY: The discussion --
Q That was part of the French proposal.
MR. McCURRY: The discussion underway today, my understanding is that it deals with tanks, artillery and mortars.
Q Do you mean Muslim tanks, artillery and mortars?
MR. McCURRY: Serbs. In that case, Serbs. It deals with the heavy weaponry described in the decision sheet under discussion is --
Q Okay. But part of the French proposal is that once they are removed, the next thing to do is to bring Sarajevo under United Nations UNPROFOR administration and which was meant relieving the Muslims of control of their weapons. Does the United States favor that?
MR. McCURRY: That's an issue that is still being discussed today. The French proposal that I think you're referring to has been overtaken by events. There's now a proposal that the United States has fashioned, working with France. The question of Sarajevo's status in the long haul is an issue that I think is really something for the political discussions. It's been suggested in the past that there would be U.N. administration of Sarajevo as part of an overall settlement. This is something that the parties themselves had discussed, and then the French concept of demilitarizing that U.N.-administered area is something that has been discussed as part of the peace process in the past.
Q Then it's not part of anything under discussion today for the --
MR. McCURRY: A question of how you take this heavy weaponry and cease to make it useful to both parties, I guess I would outline as --
Q So that this would also still or control the weapons of the Muslims as well. Is that --
MR. McCURRY: It was the purpose of our initiative as it went into the discussions today to create, as I say, in effect a no-artillery zone. You wouldn't have heavy weaponry available to either side.
Q Anywhere inside --
Q (Multiple questions)
Q Do you intend to have the Muslims rely on UNPROFOR or NATO for their defense and safety.
MR. McCURRY: That's correct. With the understanding that you silence the heavy weaponry of the Serbs.
Q On both sides.
MR. McCURRY: Yes, both sides.
Q You silence the heavy weaponry on both sides, but the mortars would continue -- the Serbian mortars would continue to be there.
MR. McCURRY: No, no, no. You remove them from this zone, take them out of the zone. They're in effect not allowed in the zone. They have to be removed. If they're not removed, they face NATO air power.
Q Can you put Bosnian weapons --
MR. McCURRY: Obviously, the Bosnian weapons have nowhere to go. They're encircled. The Bosnian Government's weaponry is encircled. They can't withdraw to some other place, so they need to go into the custody of UNPROFOR.
Q That's what I was asking.
MR. McCURRY: I had said that earlier. I'm sorry.
Q Whether the Bosnians -- whether the Muslims are going to be disarmed.
MR. McCURRY: All heavy weaponry will be silenced, yes.
Q The Serbs will continue to have control over their weapons as long as they are outside a certain perimeter.
MR. McCURRY: Right
Q The Muslim weapons, because they cannot leave, will then come under UNPROFOR control. Is that correct?
MR. McCURRY: Within this zone. Obviously, the Bosnians, just like the Bosnian Government's weaponry outside Sarajevo, is not affected by this decision.
Q And the Muslims weapons will be under the control of and collected by and under the control of --
MR. McCURRY: I guess the way to say it, they would be under UNPROFOR monitoring.
Q What's the Bosnian weaponry? You said they don't have heavy artillery. So what's going to be under UNPROFOR's monitoring?
MR. McCURRY: I don't have an exact order. They have some weaponry of this nature -- some 122 millimeter shells and some 122 millimeter weapons systems, and then other devices. I don't have an exact readout.
Q Mike, given the very poor precedent established by the Mount Igman pullback this summer, what kind of monitoring measures do you advocate to make sure that the Serbs are really pulling back and not coming back?
MR. McCURRY: The decision, as it develops today, is that what previous agreements like that one lacked was a follow-up enforcement mechanism with the use of force. What they face now is the threat of NATO airstrikes on those artillery pieces if they're not removed from this area.
Q And NATO is going to do the monitoring of the --
MR. McCURRY: The enforcement.
MR. McCURRY: Yes. In the sense that by air power they are not going to allow that artillery to be either used or present in that zone.
Q Is there any thought of putting drones around all the civilian concentrations of Bosnians, like Srebrenica or Mostar, where people have also been shelled?
MR. McCURRY: Yes. This is a decision that relates solely to Sarajevo. There's no change in the status of the other safe areas from where we were on August 2 at NATO that they are mentioned.
Q Why focus only on Sarajevo?
MR. McCURRY: That's where the preponderant shelling of innocent civilians has occurred as a device being used by the Serbs, not to say that there have not been other attacks upon innocent civilians elsewhere.
Q Mike, have the Bosnians indicated at all to you that they don't want to participate in such a swap? I mean, Alan mentioned Srebrenica. They did the same thing around Srebrenica, and the Bosnians decided it was a pretty bad deal, because they surrendered all their weapons and the Serbs continued to fire into the town.
MR. McCURRY: NATO had to reach this decision. Certainly, some of it has been previewed with the Bosnian Government. We'll see what their reaction is.
Q So far you don't have the (inaudible) the only thing that they've initiated a policy.
MR. McCURRY: The only thing we've seen so far is the news that they may have, through UNPROFOR, reached a voluntary cease-fire agreement that would in effect withdraw these weapons earlier today.
Q If the Muslims give up their weapons to UNPROFOR control and mortars continue to stay hidden in the hills around Sarajevo and they open fire one day, what protection do the Muslims, the military people, have or the civilians have against these attacks?
MR. McCURRY: NATO air power, augmented by -- in an effort to make sure that we can locate and destroy mortar positions firing on Sarajevo from within that zone.
Q So far what we have -- I want to see what's different -- so far what we have is the U.N. Secretary General saying that NATO would authorize and he would then decide whether to fire if these mortars are found responsible for firing -- those mortars that are found responsible for firing on civilian targets. I'm talking about Serb mortars that may fire on a military target.
MR. McCURRY: You're quoting from a letter from the U.N. Secretary General that had a specific purpose of deterring the type of attack we saw this past weekend. I would suggest to you that the decision that NATO has under consideration goes well beyond that and affects the ability of any artillery of that nature -- or weaponry of that nature, including the mortars, to operate within that zone. So it really is much more extensive than that.
Q Any mortar or artillery piece -- I presume sniper rifle -- that fires --
MR. McCURRY: This does not address sniper rifles.
Q (Inaudible) does not affect snipers. But any mortar that fires from the hills would immediately be retaliated against?
MR. McCURRY: They are driving towards a decision that tries to address that type of eventuality, yes.
Q Mike, will the retaliation solely be against these artillery pieces within the zone, or would NATO feel free to retaliate against Bosnian Serb forces in general?
MR. McCURRY: My understanding is there's a decision sheet developing that affects operations within the zone. It also affects other artillery pieces that could be directed at innocent civilians outside the zone, longer-range artillery, and that clearly would not be the intent of NATO to allow longer distance weapons systems to fire on Sarajevo from outside the circle.
Q And just to follow on that, if an artillery piece or a mortar piece fires, does NATO only feel free to target that specific mortar, or can they target other Serb mortars by way of reprisal?
MR. McCURRY: Because of sometimes the impossibility of locating the precise mortar location doesn't restrict the ability to try to strike against what are perceived to be locations or units that might be firing mortars.
Q What about Serb strategic targets which have been spoken to -- bridges --
MR. McCURRY: I'm not aware that NATO is addressing strategic targets today.
Q Mike, you just said that the NATO plans go well beyond the request of the Secretary General of the U.N. So where does that leave whatever the new NATO decision may be in terms of the very complex relationship between NATO and the U.N. and the Secretary General, and who has the power to decide to do what to whom when?
MR. McCURRY: It doesn't change the relational authorities under UN. Security Council Resolution 836. But I think that as a practical matter, you've seen an indication of the sentiment of the United Nations reflected in the Secretary General's letter, as a practical matter.
You've got NATO and the United Nations working much more closely, as they would have to this situation, to address issues like command and control and how you synchronize any decision that would be taken.
Q But will whatever decision is made in Brussels today still require Boutros Ghali's stamp of approval before any actions could be taken?
MR. McCURRY: It would require action consistent with 836, which is the icebreaker authority of the Secretary General. But I think his sentiments on that issue are pretty clear now as a result of the letter that he sent.
Q Michael, some analysts here and some more people on the Hill are starting to worry that this would put NATO planes in a situation where they're running around -- flying around chasing artillery pieces in a sort of tit-for-tat bout. Would that be the effect of implementing this plan?
MR. McCURRY: I have no idea. If the Serbs comply and remove their artillery, no, it wouldn't.
Q Boutros (Ghali) said this was a prelude of the parties. I don't understand what pitch we made to the Muslims to convince them to foreswear their own meager defense ability and rely on the allies when the track record is clear.
MR. McCURRY: The argument, I think, is pretty obvious, that we've determined that we will use NATO airpower to do something about the dreadful events like those that occurred this past weekend. I think that's a pretty powerful argument.
Q Michael, could you explain to us how the thinking of this Administration went from being a strong advocate of lifting the arms embargo to allow the Bosnians to defend themselves, and now to plan a way to deprive them to this capacity?
MR. McCURRY: That's not an apt comparison. We're talking, in the case of Sarajevo, about -- this is not going to stop the war in Bosnia, obviously. It's the political discussions and negotiated settlement that will stop the war. The Bosnian Government is fighting elsewhere.
We're talking about trying to protect innocent civilians inside of Sarajevo with this decision. The larger strategic purpose of the initiative, "Lift-and-Strike," was designed to do something -- it was our way of trying to bring pressure to bear to change the dynamic of the political dialogue so you could get a settlement.
I'd separate that type of discussion and the types of discussions we will now have over the next several days on a negotiated settlement to bring the war to an end from the effort to try to do something about the siege of Sarajevo.
Q This idea of the artillery free-zone, it seems like it would have been a great idea weeks, months ago, because the shelling has been going on and civilians have been getting hurt.
Did anybody bring this up at the NATO summit? And was it for one or another reason not accepted? What since then has brought this about?
MR. McCURRY: This concept did not come up at the NATO summit. The only new ideas introduced by the NATO leaders at the summit were the rotation of the UNPROFOR units at Srebrenica and the opening of the airport at Tuzla.
Q Then, what's the change in it? Why are we having it now instead of then? Why didn't the U.S. think --
MR. McCURRY: I don't have an answer on that. We addressed the situation in August.
Q In some of the earlier attempts at making peace, there was an agreement; the Serbs made an agreement to allow their heavy weapons to be under U.N. control and the Muslims would be under control of Srebrenica, and then, of course, the Muslims were disarmed and the Serbs weren't and we know what happened since then.
Why now is the United States supporting a proposal that would disarm the victims and allow the war criminals -- by our definition -- to remain with all their arms intact rather than putting them as well under U.N. control?
MR. McCURRY: Saul, I think you're missing a key part of this here. It would not be an effective approach to end the siege of Sarajevo to remove, or remove by military force, the Bosnian Serb artillery pieces from the hills around Sarajevo and then allow the Bosnian Government to continue to use their artillery pieces offensively against Bosnian Serb positions. You know what would happen. The Bosnian Serbs would return right back and would not try to comply in keeping that zone free.
What they're trying to do is address effectively some way in which they can keep this city, filled with innocent civilians, free from the kind of shelling rained down on this past weekend.
Q But if you're going to negotiate a cease-fire, why in that cease-fire does one group -- the aggressors -- get to keep their weapons and the other group -- the victims -- not?
MR. McCURRY: Within this area that we're talking about, neither side gets to keep weapons. That's what I keep trying to explain. I think you missed the point.
Q I said the Serbs get to keep their weapons. They just can't keep them there?
MR. McCURRY: If they want to turn them over to UNPROFOR, they can do so, but it's not likely it's going to happen.
Q They're not required to?
MR. McCURRY: The demilitarization of the safe areas is -- I think you're correct -- something that's required by the safe area resolutions. Theoretically, philosophically, from a just war perspective, should they be doing that? Yes. We're looking at a practical way; and, admittedly, a limited way but a practical way to try to end the siege of Sarajevo. I don't want to try to claim that this is something that it's not. It's a way to try to keep innocent lives from being lost. It does so, we think, in a way, that also contributes to the overall search for a political settlement that will bring the entire war to an end, which, you have to remember, is the ultimate objective here.
Tim, I'm sorry.
Q Just quickly on this. Can the Bosnians ask for their weapons back if they decide it was a bum deal?
MR. McCURRY: We'll address that when we get there.
Q It's clear that --
MR. McCURRY: We won't give them back, but we'll address them.
Q -- the threat of airstrikes, if the weapons are used, applies to the Serbs. But what if the Bosnian Muslims keep some of their artillery and decide to use it? What sort of retribution comes then, if any?
MR. McCURRY: I'm not going to suggest that there would be airstrikes against the Bosnian Government. You'll see the decision sheet later today. I'll let you judge that for yourself, looking at the decision sheet.
Q Could I ask a non-Bosnian question?
Q Could I have one Bosnia question? I've been trying for a while.
MR. McCURRY: Yes. Sit back there in the dark.
Q I know, I know. Last summer, the Western allies gathered here in this building and they declared seven safe areas. Now, of course, none of them have been safe except, for if you were a Serb gunner, since then.
Is it fair to characterize this proposal now as to finally put some teeth and actually create a safe area in Sarajevo?
MR. McCURRY: We hope this decision will make Sarajevo safer. Sarajevo is not going to be a pleasant place to be for those who are trapped there and who continue to suffer because they don't have the food, electricity, water, the lifestyle that they deserve.
What will bring that about -- and what will truly make Sarajevo safe -- is an end to this war. That's the purpose of our sort of second track, as it has been described, which is trying to achieve a political settlement.
Q A follow-up. I don't know whether my notes are correct, but if this proposal were to work, at various times you've said the Muslims in Sarajevo would depend on NATO air power for their defense, and I think at other times you've also said because UNPROFOR would have custody of their heavy weapons, in some sense that they would be depending upon the small contingent -- I think it's 3,000 UNPROFOR troops in Sarajevo. Is that going to be enough? Is that enough people on the ground to do that job?
MR. McCURRY: That's a question that they will certainly examine, look at as a result of this decision. But remember that the North Atlantic Council will give instructions to NATO's military committee which then get passed through NATO, and they will examine issues like the size of the ground element. They'll coordinate that closely with UNPROFOR, since that's an UNPROFOR deployment. But those are questions that they will need to look at as they implement the decision or whatever decision is taken in Brussels today.
Q Mike, how can you reconcile your desire not to put any pressure on the Bosnians and Muslims to getting to a (inaudible) equal deal, and this plan or this proposal which in fact curtails their capacity to fight, at least in Sarajevo.
MR. McCURRY: Because we're not talking about an overall -- same answer I gave earlier. We're not talking about an overall settlement to the war. We're talking about trying to do something within Sarajevo that stops the killing of innocent civilians in Sarajevo. This decision admittedly does not affect the capacity of the Bosnian Government to wage war elsewhere in Bosnia as they have been doing. It is designed in a very limited way to address the situation in Sarajevo and try to get the killing to stop there.
Q Couldn't they also just transfer their weapons out of Sarajevo rather than turning them over to the U.N.?
MR. McCURRY: They could. It's more difficult for them to do it because of the nature of the forces arrayed around Sarajevo. There might be a way they could do that. I honestly don't know that they would try to do that.
Q Mike, you referred to consultations with Congress. Is that ongoing today? Are you saying it's going to happen tomorrow?
MR. McCURRY: It's been underway for the last several days, I think. There have been individual phone calls. There probably will be some more. I think the President may be meeting with some leaders of Congress later. There will be a variety of ways in which the Administration will consult with Congress.
Q So I know what you said before. Boutros-Ghali has the right of refusal under any NATO airstrike or just close air support. What exactly is the authority of Boutros-Ghali under the NATO plan?
MR. McCURRY: Under the August 2nd ninth NATO communique, which I think will be reflected in today's decision sheet. He has what has been called the icebreaker authority which is to approve the first-time use of NATO air power in connection with either close air support for UNPROFOR, or in the case of the August communique strikes that were related to the strangulation of Sarajevo.
As I suggested, I think that you can tell from the tenor of the letter that you're aware that he sent that his thinking on that issue is crystalized and it makes it pretty obvious that UNPROFOR and NATO and the United Nations and NATO would work in harmony in trying to address any situation that develops.
Q So the icebreaker is gone. There is no icebreaker --
MR. McCURRY: I did not say that. I think that's an issue that as we get more information from Brussels on how they address that issue, we'll know more about that.
Q A big question on whether Boutros-Ghali has to still say "yes," pro forma or not, as you describe it, and this is just another warning, or action will be taken if the Bosnian Serb forces violate this NATO deadline and other NATO threats.
MR. McCURRY: You understand the purpose of this consultation with the United Nations. It's important because it relates to ground troops that are there and on the ground. But I think, as I would suggest, the thinking of the United Nations on the subject of air power in support of some of these objectives has, I'd suggest, crystalized as you can see in the Secretary General's letter. But they will certainly address that aspect later today as well, I'm sure.
Q Mike, just a clarification: By the end of the time of the ultimatum, do the Serbs have to have completed their withdrawal, their pullback, or to have started it?
MR. McCURRY: My understanding, completed it.
Q Can I dot a couple of I's on the diplomatic track. The new thinking that you referred to earlier, is that included in the presentation that was made in Brussels, and, secondly, is it correct to say that there were no consultations about that new thinking with the Bosnian Government?
MR. McCURRY: I wouldn't say there were formal consultations. I think there have been informal discussions. Many of our diplomats are in close contact at various places with the Bosnian Government, and we've had some discussions with them from time to time. It has been a formal consultation process.
Q In other words, was the new thinking on the diplomatic track included in the presentation that we made in Brussels?
MR. McCURRY: No. That wouldn't be accurate. I think they were dealing solely today in Brussels with the question surrounding Sarajevo. I think most of the permanent representatives in Brussels are aware through their own governments of some of the meetings that are occurring back in capitals. I think they have some sense of that, but I don't believe that entered in the picture, other than to say that I think a part of this -- I'd go back and re-emphasize this -- part of the discussion in Brussels today surely did emphasize the importance of making sure that anything done in connection with lifting the siege of Sarajevo tracks and fits with the overall effort to get a political settlement.
As you've heard the Secretary say, those are married, and those objectives have to be together.
Q Will the American ideas be unveiled at Geneva on the diplomatic track?
MR. McCURRY: I frankly don't know when and how we will begin to discuss those things publicly. We'll do so when we can.
Q On Haiti, I'd like to ask your response to President Aristide's statement yesterday, criticizing the United States for its refugee policy and threatening to withdraw from the refugee agreement.
MR. McCURRY: We have an agreement with the Government of Haiti on interdicting alien migrants and threatening to abrogate that agreement amounts in effect in encouraging people to leave Haiti in a way that could only result in deaths at sea, which is presumably something that President Aristide would wish to avoid. So we find his remarks quite mystifying.
Q Mike, do you have anything on the Sudanese offensive in the south?
MR. McCURRY: I had some yesterday, Alan. I want to go back, Steve, some more on Haiti. You may not have been here, I believe, yesterday or earlier in the week, but we have called upon President Aristide to move quickly to work with some of the legitimately elected members of Parliament and other democratic leaders to broaden the coalition that he's got and to end up with a Prime Minister who can work within the context of a parliamentary system in Haiti.
We obviously continue to abhor also the Haitian military's obstructive behavior and they need to comply with the commitments they've made in the Governor's Island process. But I want to make it clear that on the overall thrust of our policy, the prevention of drownings, such as those that did occur, is precisely the reason that our current policy is in place. We want to discourage people from attempting to enter the United States illegally and putting themselves at risk, because the only real solution to the type of suffering that causes people to want to leave Haiti under those circumstances is a resolution of the political crisis in Haiti, and that's what we think President Aristide should work together with us to address.
Q Do you have any response to allegations (inaudible) the Haitian policy is a violation of international law?
MR. McCURRY: Our policy is reflected in an alien migrant interdiction operation agreement that we have with their government. So it's a peculiar view that they have of the law in the circumstances, and of course we don't consider it.
Q (Inaudible) agreement is from when? Is that with the Duvalier Government?
MR. McCURRY: It's not dated, but it is one in which the government of President Aristide indicated that they support, and they have supported in the past.
Q Just on Macedonia, have you recognized, because the Macedonian President's office says that you have actually now recognized.
MR. McCURRY: They were right! Yes. Shortly before this briefing, the White House issued a statement announcing that the United States has recognized the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.
Q As what?
MR. McCURRY: As the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. (Laughter) You laugh. That is an important question.
Q That's the official name that the U.S. is going to refer to that entity from, from now until --
MR. McCURRY: We are referring to that nation in this statement of recognition as the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.
MR. McCURRY: The FYROM.
Q Michael, do you have details from the visit of the South Korean Finance Minister? What is he doing here? His program -- contacts he may have.
MR. McCURRY: I don't have complete details. I'll get some more. They have some discussions and meetings underway. I think we expect several high-level visitors from South Korea that will be addressing both economic issues that are of concern bilaterally but also importantly the nuclear issue on the peninsula.
Q Are you saying a trilateral meeting with the Japanese who is here also.
MR. McCURRY: Not that I'm aware of.
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