US DEPARTMENT OF STATE OFFICE OF THE SPOKESMAN DAILY PRESS BRIEFING MONDAY, FEBRUARY 14, 1994 DPARTMENT OF STATE DAILY PRESS BRIEFING I N D E X Monday, February 14, 1994 Briefer: Michael McCurry SUBJECT PAGE CUBA Rumor re: US Passports ......................... 1 US Contengency Plans re: Possible Boat Lift .... 14 FORMER YUGOSLAVIA Ban on Heavy Weapons around Sarajevo ............ 1-3,8-9 Humanitarian Aid ................................ 3 Prospects for Opening Tuzla Airport ............. 3-4 NATO/UNPROFOR/Coordination/Airstrikes ........... 4-5,9 Belgrade/Evacuation of Dependents of US Diplomats 5 Diplomatic Activities of Ambassador Redman ...... 5-7,10 Secretary's Contacts with Russia/Others ......... 7-8 War Crimes Tribunal/Extradition Procedure ....... 8 HAITI Draft Resolution on Sanctions ................... 11 Four Friends Ultimatum .......................... 11-12 NORTH KOREA Discussions with IAEA ........................... 12-15 US Consultation with South Korea/Positions ...... 12-13 Contacts with US ................................ 13-14 Discussions at UN ............................... 15 JAPAN Relations/Trade with US ......................... 16 MIDDLE EAST PEACE Bilateral Talks ................................. 16 Implementation of Declaration of Principles ..... 17 EGYPT US Embassy's Meeting re: Security of Americans .. 17-18 Updated US Consular Information Sheet ........... 18-19 Extremists' Threats against Foreigners .......... 18
DEPARTMENT OF STATE DAILY PRESS BRIEFING
MONDAY, FEBRUARY 14, 1994, 1:00 P.M. (ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED)
MR. McCURRY: Good afternoon everybody. There's no prepared announcements that I'm aware of on behalf of the U.S. State Department today, so we will proceed to your questions. All right, don't have any.
Q What happened in Havana Friday, and what's the position of the United States?
Q And a follow-up. (Laughter)
MR. McCURRY: Mr. Schweid will follow up. I've got some very limited information that relates to a rumor that has circulated in Havana over the weekend that led to some people incorrectly believing that there were visas that might be available.
Our Embassy down there has discussed that -- not our Embassy, excuse me. The Interests Section has discussed that.
MR. McCURRY: That's right (inaudible). The Interests Section had some discussions with local media down there. We can get additional information for you, but I think that they've straighten out what was clearly just a response to rumor that circulated in Havana that was incorrect.
Q Where do the negotiations now stand, or where does the implementation of the artillery free-zone stand now in Bosnia?
MR. McCURRY: It stands exactly where NATO left it -- where the North Atlantic Council left it. The North Atlantic Council gave the Bosnian Serbs, as you know, until February 21 to remove their heavy weapons from a 20-kilometer radius from the center of Sarajevo or to put those weapons under the control of UNPROFOR. That ultimatum stands. It has not been changed in any way, and the Bosnian
Serbs know what they have to do to comply with that ultimatum.
There has been some evidence that they're beginning to place weapons under UNPROFOR control, and we will certainly be watching that very, very carefully as this week proceeds.
Q Is that UNPROFOR control if the U.N. monitors or unarmed -- basically, standing around of the Serb positions?
MR. McCURRY: The NATO communique is very clear in saying UNPROFOR control. I'd leave that up to UNPROFOR commanders on the ground as to what constitutes control. But I would say that thus far there has been very close working coordination between UNPROFOR and NATO commanders. We expect there will continue to be close coordination and there won't be any issues in which there are discrepancies in the views of either the United Nations or NATO.
Q Are you satisfied with the pace of the implementation? The end of the ten-days period is only a week down the road and there are very pieces of artillery placed under the control of the U.N., or removed from the zone.
MR. McCURRY: I don't want to comment at the pace at which they are moving to place heavy artillery under UNPROFOR control or, alternatively, as you know, they can also remove the weaponry from this 20-kilometer area. But the obligations that the Bosnian Serbs have are quite clear and what is expected of them by NATO is quite clear and the consequences for not doing so is equally clear.
Q Mike, does the Administration have any comment on the Bosnian Serbs military commanders' demand that the Bosnian army should withdraw all its infantry or the Serbs will not hand over their artillery?
MR. McCURRY: Our reaction to that comment is quite clear from the communique of NATO itself. There's nothing in the NATO communique or the NATO ultimatum that refers to the withdrawal of troops. It deals with the withdrawal of heavy weaponry or, alternatively, placing heavy weaponry under the control of UNPROFOR. I think that our views have been made quite clear, and so we reject any suggestion that these are somehow conditional upon a withdrawal of troops.
Q Two U.N. commanders say, however, that that's a valid demand?
MR. McCURRY: The views of NATO, I think, have been made very, very clear as a result of the meeting in
Brussels. The consequences for not meeting the stipulations set forth by NATO are, as I say, equally clear.
Q Mike, can you summarize how this period has affected the relief situation?
MR. McCURRY: I can give you some information. There's been a movement of convoy traffic. I think there was sort of a pause after the decision by NATO last week in which people assessed where things are. But UNHCR reports that eight convoys are scheduled to arrive in Sarajevo, I guess, today, according to my information, by crossing the Unity Bridge. That would be the first time since the beginning of the war that U.N. personnel have crossed that bridge. The bridge was open by General Rose over the weekend.
The UNHCR had a problem with some of their relief workers, I think as you know, that were detained. I had mentioned last week that they had evacuated some of their personnel Banja Luka and other places.
In general, I guess to summarize, a lot of information which I have more of it if you want it, there is convoy traffic that is moving over the course of the last week in Banja Luka, Mostar -- both east and west -- Sarajevo, Srebrenica, Tuzla, and Zenica. There were convoys that made it in and out. Obviously, the airlifts and airdrop operations continue to run at the strength that they had before.
But the humanitarian situation, certainly, will be eased considerable if there is an end to the shelling which has threatened innocent civilian lives in Sarajevo.
Q Mike, what's the situation at Tuzla airport? There's a report on the radio this morning that the U.N. has worked out final plans for opening the Tuzla airport. Have those been worked out with the Serb commanders? What is the --
MR. McCURRY: I think, as you know, I've said several times in recent weeks the United Nations had been negotiating with local Serb commanders to try to work out some arrangement by which they can open the airport.
I'm aware of that report. We are trying to check and see whether they have finalized those arrangements, but we would expect to hear more from the U.N. about the status of their negotiations. We just don't have it at this point, but we will be checking throughout the day to see if, in fact, they've got some negotiation.
Remember, it's been our view for some time that we would prefer to see that airport open through cooperative
means worked out between the Bosnian Serbs and U.N. relief workers, because that makes it much more likely that you can have traffic in and out of there that will do some humanitarian good which is the purpose in opening the airport.
Q I'm not clear. I know it's been made very, very clear by NATO at Brussels what would happen with the Serbs. But do the Serbs have it clear from the U.N., or does the U.N. have it clear? I'm not sure what it is the U.N. people are negotiating with the Serbs. Can you clear it up? There appears to be contradictions.
MR. McCURRY: I'm not aware of any contradictions. This has been under discussion at the United Nations today; the statements by U.N. officials have been clear. The discussion within the Security Council itself has been very clear. Everything we hear about the cooperation that exists between the NATO and UNPROFOR commanders indicates to us that there is a high degree of cooperation and coordination going on within Sarajevo, within Bosnia, and within the former Yugoslavia, generally, associated with UNPROFOR activities. So I'm not clear as to why there would be any confusion on anyone's part.
The type of cooperation we're seeing on the ground and that we see in the military chain of command between UNPROFOR and NATO is satisfactory.
Q Is UNPROFOR negotiating in any way with the Bosnian Serbs on anything?
MR. McCURRY: General Rose has helped monitor and implement the cease-fire that's currently underway there, and they are the ones obviously that are taking custody of the weapons that are turned in. So they do have discussions on the ground, but we're not aware of any mixed messages that are being sent in connection with it.
Q One more thing on this. Last August, when there was a similar situation, one problem that confronted the NATO people is that U.N. people were sort of interspersed among the Bosnia Serbs who might become targets. I wonder whether that presents a problem?
MR. McCURRY: One the reasons why there has been an intense effort on the part of NATO to coordinate with the United Nations is for that reason, among other reasons.
Q Mike, I think part of the confusion may come from a statement that was made by the UNPROFOR Spokesman yesterday in which he said this was a NATO ultimatum, not a
U.N. ultimatum, and that it would be General Rose who decided if and when there would be airstrikes.
MR. McCURRY: Under the NATO document, issued in Brussels, General Rose is in a position to request, up through the U.N. chair of command, airstrikes for attacks on artillery shelling of civilian positions in Sarajevo. But that's by no means the only way in which a NATO airstrike could be initiated.
Q Why was it decided to draw down the embassy in Belgrade and remove U.S. dependents? Was this just a prudent precaution, or was it in response to some specific threat?
MR. McCURRY: It was in connection with our desire to be prudent and cautious always when we're dealing with the lives of American citizens abroad. That's why we issue travel information to American citizens when they are in places that we deem to have a heighten security risk, but it's also why we take good care of dependents of U.S. personnel abroad as well.
There clearly has been a heighten tension as we assess the prospects of NATO airstrikes. That is one factor, among many factors, that we felt prudent to take into consideration.
Q Mike, should that be attached to the President's admonition last week that no operation like this is entirely risk free? Because the U.S. put its own people under some peril for a larger good reason.
MR. McCURRY: The United States has to make decisions about matters of policy and matters of interest. Those who work for the United States Government in diplomatic positions know that there are sometimes consequences for that. But --
Q Can you tell us anything about -- I'm sorry.
MR. McCURRY: I guess that's the answer.
Q Because I want to ask you something else. I want to also ask you about the official government people there in Belgrade. Anything on them? The dependents are coming out, but what about non-essential personnel?
MR. McCURRY: We don't have anything beyond just what we put out over the weekend involving the ordered departure of dependents. But, obviously, we will continue to assess that situation as we go through the week.
Q Can you give us the details of the mission of Ambassador Redman in Sarajevo?
MR. McCURRY: I can tell you just a little bit, to catch up with Ambassador Redman. He consulted with all the key allies last week, and then went on to Geneva where he met extensively with the parties to the conflict, as they held their negotiations.
They made clear to him this weekend that they welcomed a more active U.S. engagement in the search for a negotiated solution. Ambassador Redman then went on to Sarajevo where he is now for discussions with the Bosnian Government in the hopes of clarifying some of the objectives that the Bosnian Government will have when negotiations resume later this month.
He'll go to Zagreb later this week for discussions with Croatian authorities. It's not really possible for me to characterize what he's hearing nor would we want to do so as a matter of negotiating principle.
Q But he is in a listening mode or active type of mode? Is he proposing anything?
MR. McCURRY: I think consistent with our view that there is now a more active U.S. role, I think he's thoroughly engaged with them in exploring ideas. He may be offering ideas of his own, he may be commenting, suggesting things; he might be sometimes listening to their thoughts. But the goal is to -- as he said, at the time that he met with Prime Minister Silajdzic on Friday, he said his goal is to present the best possible case that the Bosnian Government wishes to forward as they look ahead.
Q Is he travelling with a map or not?
MR. McCURRY: "Travelling with a map" is a code phrase that says he's got some type of nicely ordered, final position sketched out. That's not true. But the reality is, this is a highly complex peace negotiation in which you are talking about terrain. So I'm sure that they use maps from time to time, but that wouldn't be a surprise to anyone, I think.
Q The Secretary Friday night -- maybe I took him too literally. I got the impression that he would talk to the Bosnians -- I assume he was talking about Redman -- and get their position and then he would try to, frankly, persuade the two other groups to engage on that.
Now, I'm getting the impression that he's going to do a little more floating before the Bosnian position is crystalized. Is that correct? He's sort of going to work all three groups for a while?
MR. McCURRY: I would actually leave it up to him to describe. He's gotten over there; he's begun his discussions with the parties. He's certainly working closely with the Bosnian Government. Whether he then tests some ideas out or discusses some things informally with the other parties is something we certainly will leave to his best judgment as he explores the possibilities. I wouldn't want to suggest any more formal process than that.
I think he's about the work of a delicate and diplomatic negotiation.
Q What role does that leave Owen and Stoltenberg with right now?
MR. McCURRY: Our efforts, as we've said before, are designed to compliment the EU/UN-sponsored effort, and by no means do we wish to supplant that process. I think, as you know, when they met in Geneva, it was very much in the EU format with the United States and Russia participating sort of adjacent to the table, I would say.
Q It sounds now that Redman is doing more mediating and shuttling back and forth between the parties than Owen and Stoltenberg?
MR. Mr. McCURRY: That's up to the parties, if they wish him to play that role. I think the Bosnian Government has made it clear that they welcome our participation and welcome our assistance in the negotiations. But they still will remain in a format in which their discussions are scheduled to recommence later this month in Geneva.
Q Mr. Tarnoff mentioned last week that the Russians would perhaps be assisting in talking to the Serbs on this. Can you tell us anything about that? And, also, what if anything the Germans are doing with the Croatians?
MR. McCURRY: Well, we are in very close contact with both. I'll tell you that the Secretary had a very good conversation with Foreign Minister Kozyrev on Saturday. I think he also talked to the Spanish Foreign Minister and the Italian Foreign Minister as well.
I think it's clear from those discussions, without getting into any detail, that the Russians agree with the main objectives of the NATO decision and they share the fundamental goals we have on resolving the Bosnia crisis; principally, that there needs to be a negotiated settlement that will end the fighting so that the parties can get on with the process of reconciliation.
Q Mike, there's been no question that the Russians want -- I mean, there hasn't been the challenge to the Russians' overall objective; it's the way of getting it.
Have they now abandoned the idea of -- first of all, abandoned the premise that there has to be a Council meeting to abandon the idea of their approach, which is very different -- demilitarizing and putting Sarajevo under its national control?
MR. McCURRY: I would check very carefully with what they say at the Council meeting that is, in fact, occurring today. It did not take place Friday, I think, because of the weather largely. But it's taking place today, and I don't know that I would characterize their approach as radically different from the approach of NATO.
Q Michael, a Serb, I believe to be a war criminal, was arrested over the weekend in Germany. He's the first Serb, in that case, sought for war crimes in Bosnia to be arrested. What is your understanding of what should be the process to bringing him in front of the Tribunal?
MR. McCURRY: I don't know the answer to that. I don't know what procedures they've worked out or whether there's anything formally like extradition associated with the War Crimes Tribunal. But I'll check further and see if they've established that and in establishing procedures for the Tribunal itself.
Q Can you (inaudible) sort of what should be done with him and what the U.S.Government believes should be done with him?
MR. McCURRY: I will, whether we've communicated any views one way or another. I'll see if we can suggest something.
Q I mean, is this sort of a test run of this whole system?
MR. McCURRY: I'm not suggesting it is. I'm not familiar enough with the case to know.
Q On the matter of control -- UNPROFOR control -- over pieces of artillery, are they all then parked in a single place and therefore immune to aerial strikes should that become necessary, or are they given some visual marking? What does it mean?
MR. McCURRY: I don't know the answer to that. They can canton weaponry that is turned over to UNPROFOR in a variety of ways. That's a local decision that, I think, the military folks will work on. I don't have anything specific on how they're going to do that.
Q Is there any discrepancy between the word "control" and the word "monitor?"
MR. McCURRY: No, no --
Q There were reports --
MR. McCURRY: -- because there is not any discrepancy in the way that we are approaching this with UNPROFOR.
Q Correct me if I'm wrong, but the last time that heavy weapons were monitored, it turned out that UNPROFOR stood by and watched as the Serbs resumed shelling?
MR. McCURRY: If they resumed shelling with -- whether it's monitoring or control, if they have taken these weapons and turned them over to the custody of UNPROFOR and then in any way they are then used, they are in violation of the terms of the NATO ultimatum and the consequences are spelled out quite precisely.
Q Will the UNPROFOR commanders on the ground be the ones to decide whether the Serbs have met NATO's conditions?
MR. McCURRY: The North Atlantic Council will have to decide whether the conditions of the North Atlantic Council have been met, which means that's a NATO decision. As the NATO communique makes clear, it's working cooperatively with UNPROFOR on the ground to carry out things like the cantoning of weapons that have been turned over by the warring parties. So we'll work closely with them. Certainly, they will have information available although it won't be the only information available on whether or not the terms of the NATO communique have been abided by.
Q There are two threats there, and you're talking about the NATO thing. But if they start shelling, the U.N. man on the ground can order an attack, can't he?
MR. McCURRY: Sure. The UNPROFOR person -- the UNPROFOR commander, in response to an attack upon civilian positions can order an attack, but NATO can also initiates attacks through two separate chains of command.
Q Mike, if at the end of the day, finally when this is all over, what happens with these weapons that the U.N. is cantoning or monitoring?
MR. McCURRY: I don't know what the ultimate resolution will be. Perhaps they'll get melted down and used to rebuild Sarajevo some day. I don't think that's been decided.
Q Can I ask a follow-up on the diplomatic track? Is Germany playing any special role with Croatia given its relationship there? Are we asking the Germans to help out with the seaport negotiations or something?
MR. McCURRY: I believe that the German Government has indicated in the past that they do maintain a dialogue with the parties, but I'd leave it up to the German Government to describe the nature of those contacts.
Q Yes. Just curious. Are there any plans to upgrade our representation in these talks besides Chuck Redman?
MR. McCURRY: I'm not aware of any plans.
Q So that the upgraded involvement would be not a matter of who but a matter of what's going on?
MR. McCURRY: I think the representation -- the level of activity has already been upgraded, I would say. But I don't have anything on upping it beyond that level.
Q Would the Secretary at all -- how will the Secretary become involved in this?
MR. McCURRY: You can tell from the work he did over this weekend he will remain very closely involved and very active.
Q Mike, a new subject?
MR. McCURRY: Just one more on Bosnia.
Q You said that Redman had had extensive consultations with the parties in Geneva. Does that imply that he met with the Serbs and the Croats as well?
MR. McCURRY: I believe he did. I'll check and see how -- I think he met more extensively with the Bosnian Government representatives, but I think he did have contact with the other parties as well. I'm not sure how extensive that was, but it was extensive work. What I meant to imply was more with the Bosnian Government.
Q A couple of questions. One, why is it taking so long to tighten -- to get a resolution to tighten the sanctions? And, two, how tight are the sanctions in view of the reports that they're actually very leaky?
MR. McCURRY: I'm sorry. I assume you're asking about Haiti. I missed the first part.
Q Haiti, Haiti.
MR. McCURRY: They have been working on developing a draft resolution, which I believe the Four Friends have now completed, which is now circulating at the U.N. as Ambassador Albright indicated yesterday.
I think on the embargo itself, we think that the embargo has been successful in preventing significant shipments of new petroleum supplies into Haiti. Fuel is not available by and large through commercial outlets. Stockpiling by individuals provides a basis for blackmarket activity. The military also controls the reserve of fuel.
But wholesale breaking of the embargo, which would require either by sea or by land, does not appear to us at this point to be something that's taking place. Obviously, there's been cooperation from the Government of the Dominican Republic which is obligated to respect the U.N. embargo. They've stated several times their willingness to do so, and all of our information indicates that no substantial supplies of petroleum are crossing that border.
Q Is that a legal term, "wholesale breaking of the embargo?" How do you determine when enough has happened to take action?
MR. McCURRY: I think that there can be leakage. We've acknowledged that there might be leakage here and there, particularly either at the border with the Dominican Republic or through other maritime sources. But we've not seen, as I say, any evidence that there's been a wholesale, or significant shipments of new petroleum supplies into Haiti.
Q Mike, the Four Friends ultimatum to General Cedras expired exactly 30 days ago today. Why has it taken so long to take the step that was promised for January 15?
MR. McCURRY: Among other things, there have been discussions, I think I detailed for you in the course of last week, involving President Aristide and others. I think there has been some work in different aspects of dealing with Haiti. And, of course, there has been a desire on our part to make sure that any embargo that the United States pursues at the United Nations would be effective by having the support of the international community, which we have been working to develop. So that takes some time. It appears that we're at the end of the time that it will take because the resolution now looks like it will move forward shortly.
Q Have there been deep differences among the Four Friends about how to proceed?
MR. McCURRY: No. I'm not aware of any deep differences; no.
Q Michael, do you have any interesting details to share with us on the cause of the explosion of Saturday?
MR. McCURRY: No. Don't have any information that hadn't been provided already through the Embassy down there.
Q Mike, can we try a new area, please?
Q Do you have anything on the rumors last week about the exchanges on the visa procedures and the problems in front of the Interests Section?
MR. McCURRY: I have a little bit on that that we can post afterwards. We got a question at the beginning. We'll develop a little more on that.
Q On Korea?
MR. McCURRY: Yes.
Q The basic question is whether there's a decision yet to go for sanctions if North Korea -- that makes it a hypothetical, I guess -- but if North Korea does not live up to IAEA standards. I ask for two reasons. The reports from South Korea -- they're apprehensive; and some of us heard a senior U.S. official the other day, who is in favor of it, I take it, but saying it could cause conflict on the Korean Peninsula -- the lesser of two evils, I guess?
MR. McCURRY: I think we have stated pretty clearly -- I'd continue to state -- that any declaration by the IAEA that there's a break in the continuity of safeguards would require the matter to be referred back to the Security Council. Now, how the Security Council would then proceed is something that -- there have been preliminary discussions about that. There have been suggestions on the part of the United States that economic sanctions might be something that can be pursued. But it's premature at this point to speculate what the response will be to something that, one way or another, is a very short distance away.
Q Do you have a readout of the meeting that the Secretary had with the South Korean Foreign Minister Friday afternoon?
MR. McCURRY: I'm not sure if we -- did we provide any formal readout on Friday? The Secretary indicated to me that it was a very positive meeting, devoted almost entirely -- in fact, if not entirely -- to the subject of North Korea; that there was close harmony in the views of the South Korean Government and the United States Government.
Both sides pledged that they would continue to work closely, as they have been, in addressing this subject of major regional concern.
The Secretary said that he found the discussions both positive and useful in attempting to plan how to proceed as we deal with this very troublesome issue.
Q Plan how to proceed -- can you be a little bit more specific --
MR. McCURRY: No.
Q No, wait a minute. Did South Korea climb aboard? I'm referring -- not saying what you'd do at the U.N., but taking it to the U.N. Is South Korea there with the U.S. on that?
Mr. McCURRY: I could in no way speak for the South Korean Government on a subject of that importance. They would have to do so for themselves, but I think we feel very good that there is a common view on how to proceed and how to address any eventualities as we look ahead.
Q The South Korean indicated that he would be back again this week for additional consultations, given the fact that the IAEA meeting is imminent?
MR. McCURRY: George, I do not know that. I can check on that. If they so indicated, I'm sure it's true, but I just don't have that here.
Q Mike, the head of the Russian National Security and Strategy Research Institute in Moscow has quoted Mr. Vladimir Kumachek -- that we all know -- is quoted as saying that North Korea already has nuclear warheads and means of delivering those nuclear warhead; and he said also that the Russians should know because they helped the North Koreans developing this capacity. Can you corroborate this information, or are you in touch with the Russians to try to find out more about it?
MR. McCURRY: I can't comment on that statement by a Russian official, but I think you've heard the United States' assessment as it's been reflected many times by various U.S. officials. I don't have anything to add beyond the accounts that have been given by U.S. officials.
Q Mike, does the State Department have any plans to get its working level talks going again with the North Koreans? Are we just staying out of it, letting the IAEA negotiate with them and waiting for the IAEA report?
MR. McCURRY: I wouldn't say that we are staying out of this, because it's a matter in which we have been given a
fair amount of responsibility by the international community to address this issue, so staying out of it wouldn't be the proper barometer of our involvement.
Now onto the question of inspections and what is required of the IAEA to address their concerns about continuity of safeguards, that is something that we have to rely upon the judgment of the IAEA which has the technical expertise to make those judgments.
We've outlined here before what our understanding of the agreement in principle is that has been reached by North Korea, and that's not different from what you've heard us describe in the past.
Q Can I just follow on that? Are we having any kind of direct contact with the North Koreans? I mean, not on the technical question of what inspections are required but --
MR. McCURRY: You asked about the type of contact we've had from time to time at New York. There's not been that type of contact in recent days.
Q Coming out of the talks with the South Korean, is there anything further that the United States and South Korea intend to say to the North Koreans, or, as Tim has asked, are we simply going to let -- wait for the IAEA Board of Governors meeting?
MR. McCURRY: This has been an area of very active diplomacy on the part of many governments, and I wouldn't want to suggest that everyone just wait, letting the matter drop until the IAEA Board of Governors meets. But beyond that I just don't have any full accounting of what's been going on.
Q Mike, but how the U.S. will deal with another Mariel boat lift?
MR. McCURRY: I don't know that we anticipate another Mariel boat lift. I think from time to time -- in fact, not too long ago the Department had a meeting here to review its contingency planning, and there is an annual plan that is updated by a wide variety of U.S. Government agencies, and we will continue to look at those plans to make sure that we plan for any contingency. That's not to indicate that we expect any type of exodus, but it has been prudent in the past for us to address that question through a detailed plan, which we have done.
Q Mike, with President Nazarbayev in town, is the United States still counseling him to forget about running
the Caspian pipeline project through Iran and in fact telling him that we will take a dim view of any international lending for that project?
MR. McCURRY: I really don't, Sid -- apologize if I don't get into it. I think the President is scheduled to have a press conference very shortly, and it really wouldn't be proper for me to address that question right now here while they may very well be discussing that for all I know over there.
Q One more on North Korea, Mike. Was there an American effort at the U.N. last week to organize either a Security Council or Perm Five warning to North Korea, and was the plan abandoned because of China's objections?
MR. McCURRY: I would say there was not an American effort to organize such an approach. There was probably a discussion of such an approach, and my understanding is that the individual governments agreed that they should continue to press when in many cases there are common objectives through bilateral discussions.
Q Mike, specifically on North Korea, is the United States planning to intervene in this standoff between the IAEA and North Korea to try to bring about some satisfactory resolution before the February 21 meeting of the Board of Governors of IAEA?
MR. McCURRY: We are not in a position to tell the IAEA how to secure and conduct inspections that are necessary for the continuity of safeguards. That is something that we have made clear repeatedly to the Government of North Korea in our exchanges. That's something that we believe the IAEA has also made clear. We are not in a position to bargain or negotiate the terms of those inspections.
Q If I could just follow up, with all due deference to your answer, it was unresponsive to my question, which is, is the United States specifically trying to intervene either with the IAEA or with North Korea to bring about some satisfactory resolution?
MR. McCURRY: Those are two radically separate questions. One, as I just indicated, we do not go to the IAEA and tell them what they need to do in order to establish the continuity of safeguards. Have we stressed to the Government of North Korea that it is necessary for them to continue those discussions with the IAEA and to satisfy the concerns about inspections that can establish the continuity of safeguards? Yes, we have made that point, made it repeatedly and made it here publicly on numerous occasions. So in that sense, yes, we intervened.
Q On a related subject to that, Mike, I'm aware of what President Clinton and Prime Minister Hosokawa said about the mature relationship, but does the State Department have any concern that the fallout from the trade dispute, and possibly including sanctions, could spill over into such areas as Asian security and how to deal with North Korea, breaking up the smooth tandem relationship which has gone so far?
MR. McCURRY: No, we saw no indication in the discussions we've just had with the Japanese Government between the Prime Minister and the President or in any of the other discussions that we held around the margins of that meeting that they tie the progress in the economic talks to the work we do together on security and political issues.
If anything, the strong cooperation that we enjoy there is something that we would like to see emulated in the economic sphere, and so far that has been impossible, and that's something that I think, as President Clinton indicated, is a source of disappointment, because we can't continue to tolerate a status quo in our relationships on the economic side. We have seen no evidence that that would jeopardize the strength of the bilateral relationship in the security issues or in any of the political issues that we cooperate with the Government of Japan on a global basis.
Q Mike, the peace talks -- the Middle East peace talks will start tomorrow? Any words of encouragement for the --
MR. McCURRY: They start tomorrow, and we give them words of encouragement.
Q Could I try you quickly, just in case you're ready for this one? The security issues have been pretty much resolved now between Israel and the PLO. Mr. Peres has now said that maybe some of the settlements ought to be abandoned if it would be (inaudible) would take too much of Israel's resources to protect. Is that something that has NEA cheering?
MR. McCURRY: I have got no views to express on that.
Q I mean, I'm almost tempted to ask you if there's a new U.S. view on settlements. Apparently, it's growing on its own.
MR. McCURRY: That's not new. The premise of your question started that all of the security issues have been resolved.
Q No, no. I didn't say -- a lot of them.
MR. McCURRY: Some of them have been. I think the central ones in their dialogue, and they continue. They're going to have a great deal of work ahead, and we certainly encourage that work, but I don't have any new pronouncements on settlements or otherwise.
Q Do you have something to say on what the Syrian press is -- the way the Syrian press is talking about the last PLO-Israeli agreement in Cairo. The official press is calling this agreement a new catastrophe. So I understand that you might not share the same view, but do you think that this kind of comment constructive and might help the peace process?
MR. McCURRY: We've urged the Government of Syria to be supportive of the peace process, including the declaration itself, because we think that is a useful step towards a comprehensive and lasting peace for the entire region -- a peace that Syria itself could one day participate in. But we don't respond to every characterization they have of the progress being made in some other track.
Q (Inaudible) some details. Are you calling this the 13th round of peace talks, continuation --
MR. McCURRY: No. These are streamlined, informal discussions which now no longer carry numbers, Roman, Arabic or otherwise.
Q How long do you expect them to go on?
MR. McCURRY: We don't know. We'll see how they make -- one virtue of the new format is that they can go at a pace that is of their own making. We would hope the pace would be due and deliberate and that there would be progress in this next round of discussions.
Q It would be the same format.
MR. McCURRY: Same format, same press arrangements, which is to say no press arrangements.
Q Over on 2400 M?
MR. McCURRY: Right.
Q I gather there was a meeting at the Embassy in Cairo the other day in which representatives of the American community were told about the Islamic threat. Do you have any details on that?
MR. McCURRY: Yes. It's one of several over a period of time that the Embassy has held for American citizens in Egypt, not unlike we do at diplomatic posts around the world in which we anticipate American citizens being at some risk. The purpose of the meeting was to inform American citizens in Egypt of the current security situation, to answer questions that they might have.
It was an off-the-record session so that people could feel free to ask any questions that they might have personally about their own situations or generally about the security situations and the Embassy seeks opportunities to have these kinds of meetings, because they help American citizens understand what risks they are at and what precautions they might want to take.
Q So what risk are they at and what precautions should they take?
MR. McCURRY: Those are addressed in detail in the Consular Information Sheet that we have for Egypt, including the update to that Consular Information Sheet which has been issued today which reflects some of the concerns developed this month as a result of the claims by extremists that they will escalate their anti-government terrorist campaign. So there's been an update of that information sheet that's now available to American citizens.
Q Can you summarize that update?
MR. McCURRY: Yes. It actually refers to the threats that I think some of you are aware of, by radical extremists, that they intend to escalate anti-government terrorist activities. These extremists declared that foreign investors and tourists would be targets of this stepped-up campaign and called on foreigners to leave Egypt.
There have been no specific threats singling out American citizens or businesses in Egypt. Nevertheless, incidents of extremist violence are possible anywhere in the country. The American Embassy in Cairo has recommended that Americans traveling to or residing in Egypt heighten their security awareness, maintain a low profile, and avoid calling undue attention to themselves and their activities.
Q Have you issued a travel advisory?
MR. McCURRY: We now have what are called Consular Information Sheets that are made available and are updated on a regular basis, so that is in effect the travel information that we are providing officially on behalf of the government.
Q So this meeting --
Q Are you saying that travel advisories don't exist any more?
MR. McCURRY: They don't exist. From time to time the United States Government will issue travel warnings. Travel avisories, I think, no longer exist, and what they have now are Consular Information Sheets, similar to this one, that are made available to American citizens who inquire about conditions in a particular country.
Q There's no warnings about travel to Egypt.
MR. McCURRY: There's not been a warning issued. There's been an update to the Consular Information Sheet.
Q This session you had in Cairo with American citizens was tied specifically to this threat information that you'd received?
MR. McCURRY: That was among subjects that they discussed. I think they also discussed a wide range of security issues and what the current situations are in Cairo, elsewhere in Egypt, and, as I say, it was opportunity for U.S. officials to answer questions that American citizens might have.
Q Is Mr. Nazarbayev going to get more money?
MR. McCURRY: Yes.
Q How much?
MR. McCURRY: They'll tell you at the White House in two minutes. Go watch the President.
(The briefing concluded at 1:43 p.m.)
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