US DEPARTMENT OF STATE OFFICE OF THE SPOKESMAN DAILY PRESS BRIEFING TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 15, 1994 DEPARTMENT OF STATE DAILY PRESS BRIEFING I N D E X Tuesday, February 15, 1994 Briefer: Michael McCurry SUBJECT PAGE MIDDLE EAST PEACE Briefing Tomorrow by Dan Kurtzer ................ 1 Bilateral Talks ................................. 21 NORTH KOREA Acceptance of IAEA Safeguards ................... 1-9 -- Impact on Congressman Dellums Visit ......... 6 Contacts with US ................................ 2,6 Upcoming IAEA Inspection ........................ 2-3,5 Conditions for Dialogue with US ................. 2-5,7-8 FORMER YUGOSLAVIA Ban on Heavy Weapons around Sarajevo ............ 9-15 NATO/UNPROFOR Cooperation ....................... 10-11 Conditions for Airstrikes ....................... 10-12 Hungary's Statement re: AWACS if NATO Launches Airstrikes .................................... 12-13 Diplomatic Activities of Ambassador Redman ...... 14 Humanitarian Aid ................................ HAITI Parliament Delegation Plan to Restore Democracy . 15-21 -- Meeting with Aristide ....................... 16 -- Meetings with US Officials .................. 19-20 Draft Resolution on Expanded Sanctions .......... 18-20 INDIA Reported Statement on Kashmir by Pakistani Ambassador .................................... 22 IRAN Statement re: Mr. Rushdie ...................... 22-23
DEPARTMENT OF STATE DAILY PRESS BRIEFING
TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 15, 1994, 1:17 P.M. (ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED)
MR. McCURRY: Good afternoon everybody. Let me start just with a note for tomorrow. I won't be here, but Ms. Shelly will be conducting the briefing. And as a guest attraction, she has asked Dan Kurtzer, who is the Deputy Assistant Secretary in the NEA Bureau to give you something that many of you have asked for, which is sort of a sense of where the multilateral discussions are in the Middle East peace process. We're happy to do that.
I'd caution that Dan can really give you -- he's been very active in the multilateral tracks and can spell out some of the discussions that are under way on that score. He cannot give you a complete readout on the bilateral discussions here in Washington, because as we usually and customarily do, we leave the discussion of that to the parties themselves. So that will be an added attraction tomorrow.
With that, why I don't I just go straight to any --
Q On the record?
MR. McCURRY: On the record; yes. With that, any breaking news?
Q (Inaudible) whether the IAEA and North Korea did today? And is it suitable? I have a follow up.
MR. McCURRY: And you have a follow up. Do we have to announce follow-ups now?
Q What is the IAEA? (Laughter) It's an old Flora Lewis --
MR. McCURRY: The IAEA, I think just moments ago, announced that following their discussions with North Korea, they have announced that North Korean authorities have accepted the inspection activities which have been requested by the IAEA in the seven declared nuclear facilities in North Korea.
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The aim of those inspection activities is to verify that nuclear material in the facilities has not been diverted since their earlier inspections, or the last inspections. In addition, the inspectors will take certain measures such reloading of cameras and changing of seals to facilitate future verification.
The North Korean representatives conveyed their authorities acceptance following the explanations and clarifications that the agency had provided during the discussions.
I want to make it clear, I am just reading to you from the press release that I believe had just been released by the IAEA. They have already made this formal announcement in Vienna and said, in doing so, "That the agency welcomes that development." I would say on behalf of the United States, we also welcome the agreement and we look forward to the beginning of these inspections as soon as possible.
As we've said often, these inspection activities are critical to maintaining the continuity of IAEA safeguards on the North's nuclear facilities. It is a necessary step for the agency to be able to reassure the international community and that there has been no diversion of nuclear material from that facility. And, of course, satisfactory completion of the inspection at the earliest possible date and resumption of the North-South dialogue on denuclearization will pave the way for the next round of U.S.-North Korea talks.
Q How about the informal talks? Are they about this week maybe?
MR. McCURRY: I think that a meeting is likely. I don't have anything further on time and place, but I think that --
Q In New York?
MR. McCURRY: We have customarily met with them in New York; I believe at the United Nations.
Q Is it your understanding this is a one-shot inspection, or that this agreement covers an ongoing inspection regime with future subsequent inspections, as called for normally by the IAEA?
MR. McCURRY: I indicated from their release they've got additional follow-up inspection activities that they have announced in Vienna today. But I think it's certainly our view that for the United States-North Korea dialogue to continue, the North will have to conduct those inspections
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that the IAEA deems necessary to maintain the continuity of safeguards. So there is an issue about maintaining the continuity of safeguards. That's, of course, something that the agency itself has been addressing in these discussions.
Q I believe the press release came out -- maybe they've elaborated on it in Vienna -- but the press release itself does not make clear whether there will be -- they made provisions for subsequent -- loading the film and other things -- made provisions for subsequent inspections. It does not say whether or not North Korea has agreed to onward subsequent inspections and a regular regime of inspections, as is supposed to be the case.
Does the U.S. know whether they have agreed to future inspections?
MR. McCURRY: The press release that I have -- the statement I have -- and the clarification I've been able to get so far doesn't make that entirely clear. I can make clear our view, as I just did. I'll leave it to the IAEA to discuss any discussions they've had with North Korea on subsequent discussions.
Q One more. How can you applaud an agreement that you don't know the content of?
MR. McCURRY: We know the content from the discussions that we've had with the IAEA subsequent to their announcement and our understanding of those discussions. I didn't applaud. I just said that we welcome it, and we certainly hope that the inspections, as they've been outlined by the IAEA, commence right away.
Q Do you know if these inspections will include the seven sites that had already been talked about? And do they include the two waste sites which have not been inspected so far?
MR. McCURRY: They don't make reference to those two sites. The statement from the IAEA does refer to the seven declared facilities that they were seeking inspections at in their most recent discussions.
Mark and then back here.
Q Are you making a condition of having a third round with the North Koreans that they agree to an ongoing series of inspections or not?
MR. McCURRY: We've said all along that we have to be satisfied that they are maintaining those safeguards, and we would certainly hope and expect now that North Korea
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would enter into the type of inspections that would allow the continuity of safeguards to be assured. But, again, that is something that the North Koreans discussed directly with the IAEA.
Our conditions on a third round of high-level talks have been the same ones that we've said prior, that they need to move ahead with these inspections necessary to establish continuity and that they also need to resume and implement the North-South dialogue on denuclearization. No change there.
Q So no indication from them is necessary on the question of ongoing inspections before you have a third round?
MR. McCURRY: As I indicated earlier, it's certainly our view that for our dialogue to continue that the North will have to continue those inspections that are necessary to maintain the continuity.
Q What's your analysis of why the North Koreans, after a number of weeks of deadlock, have finally, seemed to have finally agreed to what you all you said you agreed over a month ago?
MR. McCURRY: It would be impossible for me to speculate on their motives. But it's clear that on our part, we have indicated over and over again that for them to have that type of dialogue, for them to have those types of discussions that could lead to a more normal political and economic relationship between the United States and North Korea, they would have to satisfy the international community as to their own nuclear program and satisfy IAEA inspectors on the non-diversion of nuclear material. That may suggest a rationale but, obviously, it would be up to North Korea to specify that.
Q Mike, (inaudible) any worries about North Korea's program have to do with their obtaining fissile material outside of the whole safeguards regime. This is only applying to known material they have under safeguards and does not even apply to these dumps, I guess. So what questions does this remain -- what questions remain that this will not answer as far as the U.S. Governments goes?
MR. McCURRY: I am not an authority on the IAEA's program of full-scope safeguards and what's necessary to establish that as would be required of any adherent to the nuclear non-proliferation treaty. I'd really leave it up to the IAEA to give you the expert commentary on that.
But we do acknowledge, certainly, that there are additional things that would be necessary to establish the full-scope of IAEA safeguards against proliferation, and
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that those are, hopefully, something that can be discussed soon between North Korea and the IAEA.
Again, these are inspection activities that deal with the continuity of safeguards, in the first instance.
Q Mike, just to clarify. The United States will not resume the full-scale dialogue with North Korea until they exchange envoys with South Korea, but we're likely to resume the low-level negotiations?
MR. McCURRY: I'm not placing any new conditions on what we've said in the past on our willingness to engage in a third round. A third round is available for the discussion of normal economic relationships and other aspects of our bilateral relationship. But it does depend on the ability of the IAEA to assure the continuity of the safeguards and for the North and the South to resume the denuclearization dialogue.
Q (Inaudible) will meet in a lower --
MR. McCURRY: We are willing to continue to have those types of contacts that we've had with them in recent weeks, yes.
Q Who requested the meeting, or the likely meeting at the end of this weekend? What's on the agenda? Will you discuss or focus on the speedy implementation of this existing agreement or will you be looking ahead to the normalization of economic contacts?
MR. McCURRY: I'm not entirely certain how this meeting was scheduled. I believe it probably was at the United States' urging, but I'm not clear on that. Clearly, the agenda will be how these inspections can occur promptly and the interest we have in assuring ourselves in the world community that the continuity of safeguards has been maintained and that there's been no diversion of material. I'm sure that will be one subject among many.
Q Do we feel that these inspections should occur before we start looking at other alternatives again?
MR. McCURRY: The IAEA's announcement today indicates that a team of inspectors will go to North Korea as soon as the necessary formalities for entry have been arranged, which implies that it would be very, very shortly. I think that that certainly would be our expectation as well.
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Q Would these sudden statements by the IAEA change the focus of Congressman Dellums' trip to Pyongyang? And, in fact, what can you tell us about that trip?
MR. McCURRY: Congressman Dellums -- I don't know whether or not today's announcement will affect his agenda or itinerary. He had received an invitation from North Korea private channels some time ago, independent of the State Department, and as is customary, Chairman Dellums consulted the State Department before his possible travel.
Our understanding is that arrangements for his travel are not complete. Maybe the Congressman would have more word or more detail on that. But, of course, if he does go, we would want to be in a position to make sure that he was thoroughly familiar with our view of this ongoing dialogue and our view of North Korea's nuclear program. We have taken steps to make sure that's fully briefed on our view.
Q And would he actually be travelling with a Foreign Service officer who is familiar with our position on Korea. Is he carrying any messages from the United States?
MR. McCURRY: I think it is true that he will have an North Korean affairs officer to accompany him as an interpreter is my understanding. That's customary on visits like this.
He is travelling in his Congressional capacity. He is not travelling as a negotiator for the Administration. But as I emphasized before, we certainly would want to make sure he understands exactly our view of the discussions that North Korea has had with the IAEA and our overall view on what steps are necessary to ensure that the international community that there hasn't been diversion of nuclear material in the context of North Korea's ongoing program.
Q How will the United States react if the IAEA concludes that material has been diverted?
MR. McCURRY: I don't want to speculate on that. Predictably, but I don't want to speculate.
Q How critical are these two undeclared waste sites to our goal of proving that North Korea is a nuclear weapons-free state?
MR. McCURRY: I think they are important. This is not an announcement that deals with those inspections today, as I understand it. I want to learn more about that in
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order to give you a full assessment. I'm not sure that I fully understand exactly what you can and cannot learn by looking at those waste facilities.
Q Could you make available a briefer on that one, or other unanswerable questions?
MR. McCURRY: In coming days, we might be able to do that. I would stress that today's announcement comes out of Vienna because it's an announcement of the international agency. They are in the best position today to comment on what type of results they've had in their discussions with North Korea. We'll look into that as a possibility for down the road.
Q I just wanted to ask was, is there still a crucial piece of the puzzle missing?
MR. McCURRY: The IAEA established for itself what was necessary to assure that there has not been diversion of material. It was up to them to say, what is sufficient for us to understand whether there has been non-diversion of nuclear material since they last inspected. That's the problem they've been working on.
Now, there are a lot of other questions, a lot of other things to know about North Korea's nuclear program, but that's not the nature of the issue that has been under discussion most recently between North Korea and the IAEA. That has been simply the question of, can you establish continuity; and we would acknowledge that's just one among many questions that could be posed about North Korea's program.
Q Two quick questions. Do the inspectors have to return and give a clean bill of health on the seven sites they've inspected before you proceed to a third round?
MR. McCURRY: I don't know the answer to that. Probably before there could be any discussion of a third round, as a practical matter, there would probably be at least some preliminary information from the inspections. But I think that we certainly will be anxious to hear what the IAEA concludes as a result of these inspections.
Q Another quick one. Are discussions in New York about possible sanctions against North Korea now off for at least the time being?
MR. McCURRY: I don't know that they were on. I think that the most recent discussions we've had in New York were on sort of a review of where things stand and what steps might be considered down the road. That was to
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preview what we think would be conclusions reached at the time of the IAEA's Board of Governors meeting next week.
Q Mike, when you say you don't know what our reaction would be, or what our position is regarding whether the inspectors have to give a clean bill of health, is that because you don't know or because it's not decided yet?
MR. McCURRY: Because I don't know. I don't know whether that's been discussed within our government at this point.
Q Michael, how much credit would you give for this decision by the North Koreans to the different meetings held recently here in Washington between you and the South Koreans and the Japanese? Did you establish any relations?
MR. McCURRY: I think it's impossible for me to answer that. What would motivate the North Korean delegation to satisfactorily conclude arrangements with the IAEA is something that, really, they would have to address themselves. Certainly, we do know that all of the events on this subject are followed enormously closely by the North Koreans. So perhaps the discussions involving Japan and South Korea have had some impact. It's just that it would speculative on our part to suggest that.
Q New topic?
MR. McCURRY: New topic? A little more on this? Yes.
Q You've suggested in the past that the Chinese have been very positive in this. Would you describe their involvement in this as active? Is this going to be on the agenda when Mr. Tarnoff meets with the Chinese Ambassador this afternoon?
MR. McCURRY: They have in the past indicated that they raised this issue bilaterally, and I guess I would leave it to the Chinese to describe the nature of their contact. But we've always believed that they've been very helpful in addressing this matter within the context of what the world community has done to try to advance the non-proliferation objectives of the world community.
Q Mike, what today's announcement mean for "Team Spirit?"
MR. McCURRY: I don't have any further information on "Team Spirit" at this moment. The planning for "Team Spirit" had been underway but there had been no final
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decision made on commencing that exercise. I suspect that is true at this moment.
Q Are we considering delivering Patriots to the South Koreans?
MR. McCURRY: The decision on deploying Patriots was something that was under review and under consideration, although we've always made it very clear that that is an issue related to the security of South Korea and the regional security within the region itself. We've not indicated that there is a direct link between that and our understanding or attempt to learn more about North Korea's nuclear program.
Q This morning, Dee Dee Myers -- it was down in Ohio -- said ON-THE-RECORD that the U.S. might be willing to consider softening the NATO threat about the heavy weapons?
MR. McCURRY: Before we turn to that, anymore on North Korea?
Q Filing break.
MR. McCURRY: Yes. Filing break requested? Filing break is granted. New subject: NATO.
Q Dee Dee Myers saying the NATO threat can be solved?
MR. McCURRY: I am not aware. I talked to Dee Dee just a little while ago. I'm not aware that she said anything of the sort.
Q It's all over the wires.
MR. McCURRY: I'll have to go check and see. I talked to her earlier and didn't hear anything like that.
Q Let me just put (inaudible) in. Can there be any flexibility in how Serb heavy weapons are handled by the U.N.?
MR. McCURRY: No. I think, as the U.N. commander in Bosnia -- I will quote him because I think he put that most clearly himself -- "Any heavy weapons will either be under U.N. control or subject of an air attack." He said that ON-THE-RECORD very clearly yesterday.
MR. McCURRY: What is your understanding?
Q Our understanding of U.N. control is?
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MR. McCURRY: "U.N. control" means that the U.N. has got those weapons. They've got the weapons in a condition and under status in which they can't be used to shell Sarajevo, which is the purpose of the NATO ultimatum.
Q Physical control, not surveillance?
MR. McCURRY: I'd say no operational capability, or no operational configuration that's capable of shelling Sarajevo; and UNPROFOR has to be in a position to have a degree of control sufficient to ensure that they're not put back into any type of tactical configuration capable of firing on Sarajevo.
Q Is that your understanding?
MR. McCURRY: What I said is what I just said.
Q Is that your understanding of what their understanding is?
MR. McCURRY: I think that if the Serbs have any illusions about the determination of NATO to carry out the ultimatum, that they were seriously misguided.
Q What about the U.N.? It doesn't seem clear from what's coming out of Sarajevo that that's the understanding of Michael Rose.
MR. McCURRY: I dispute that hotly. I don't think that General Rose could have been any clearer yesterday in saying that NATO and the United Nations are completely alligned. We've confirmed that in our discussions in New York with high-level U.N. officials. Ambassador Redman talked to General Rose yesterday and understood very clearly what General Rose's practical plan is for making sure that the NATO ultimatum is carried through.
I think we have a high degree of satisfaction with the plans that they've got underway.
Q Can you follow us, or can you walk us through, once again, the steps that would trigger an airstrike? What needs to happen; when and if the deadline runs out; if there is a single weapon out of place, is an airstrike automatic? Does the commander on the ground have to ask for permission to --
MR. McCURRY: This subject has been briefed and briefed and briefed now for the past week, and I don't know of anything different that I will tell you. It has not changed one iota in the last week.
Airstrikes -- I'm just going to repeat what's been said at some of the briefings that you've had both here and
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at the Pentagon earlier. They can occur in two contexts in response. One, to a request by the United Nations to launch airstrikes against artillery or mortar positions which are determined by UNPROFOR to be responsible for attacks on civilian targets; and then, two, at NATO's initiative, in response to any use of artillery against Sarajevo or irrespective of the nature of the target. That would be in coordination with the United Nations.
Q What about M-3 -- any weapons left in the exclusion zone --
MR. McCURRY: Weapons that left in the exclusion zone at the end of the 10-day period that are not regrouped under UNPROFOR control or not withdrawn outside the exclusion zone.
Q But it still requires an icebreaker decision by the Secretary General -- all of these contingencies?
MR. McCURRY: The Secretary General has addressed a letter to the subject of the first two, which are things that are happening in the next 10-day period or in the event of shelling that's determined by UNPROFOR. He actually actively requested the authority to direct attacks in the case of shelling of civilians. But, secondly, he does retain an icebreaker in the case of airstrikes that begin at the conclusion of the 10-day period if heavy weaponry is still involved.
As I would say, we've had very close, good conversations with the Secretary General, and are certain that we are of like mind on that issue.
Q So I make sure this is absolutely clear, the Secretary General has icebreaker capability and a third contingency if weapons are still in the exclusion zone? Because Manfred Worner, at the news conference last Wednesday, said quite clearly -- he didn't say that Boutros Ghali didn't have icebreaker capability but he said, "All NATO has to do is be in close consultation with the Secretary General."
MR. McCURRY: I would describe that, certainly, as the practical effect of what's going to happen. We'll be in very close contact throughout this period and beyond the ten days with the Secretary General on that subject. And, as I say, based on our discussions, we don't imagine there's a situation in which we would be working at cross purposes.
Q So you've got no doubt that when this clock runs out that if those big guns are not under sufficient NATO or U.N. control that there will be airstrikes? You have no doubt about that?
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MR. McCURRY: I'd say, after the 10-day period, any weapons found within the 20-kilometer exclusion zone, not under U.N. control, are subject to NATO air strikes whether or not those weapons are actively firing on Sarajevo.
Q They are subject to immediate airstrikes?
MR. McCURRY: Subject to NATO airstrikes, correct.
Q On Friday, there was a Hungarian statement banning AWACS flights in case of NATO airstrikes against Bosnian targets. Do you have any comment on it?
MR. McCURRY: To restate, I think, some of what you indicated, the Government of Hungary did indicate to NATO that NATO should withdraw AWACS from the Hungarian airspace if NATO airstrikes are launched in Bosnia. NATO AWACS have been overflying Hungary as part of NATO's operation to enforce the "no-fly" zone. We understand that that will continue. Their allowing overflights, in connection with "no-fly," will not affected.
That situation, contrary to some indications elsewhere, will not have any direct bearing on Hungary's participation in the Partnership for Peace nor on the question of possible future Hungarian membership in NATO.
Hungary's action would not impair NATO from launching airstrikes in Bosnia, if that becomes necessary, under the terms of the February 9 North Atlantic Council decision; however, with any regard to technical questions or how that affects the operational capabilities, I think the Defense Department is in a better place to respond on that.
Q Mike, Austria also permits overflights of AWACS. Have they given a similar notification to the United States?
MR. McCURRY: Not that I'm aware.
Q Is Hungary's attitude on this appropriate for a member of Partnership for Peace that wants to join NATO?
MR. McCURRY: They have very strong views given the proximity of Serbia to their own borders. And to the degree that we can be sympathetic, we are sympathetic. But to the degree that we try to understand more about their views, we can discuss further with them the basis for this particular decision. I'm sure we will be in discussion with them.
Q I'm sorry for returning to Hungary. In which level, how much the United States -- or the State Department -- understands the Hungarian special interests regarding Serbian politics?
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MR. McCURRY: We have a very good understanding. We do everything we can through our Embassy there and through the work that's done here in the building to understand the sensitivities they have as they address the crisis in the former Yugoslavia.
Q Mike, General Rose has indicated that he would like U.S.-made countertarget batteries. Your briefers last week said that we have the best ones but we weren't going to be sending our own or our own personnel. Has he requested, subsequent to that briefing, that we provide them or he's just looking for U.S.-made countertarget batteries from other countries?
MR. McCURRY: I don't know. I'd have to check with the Pentagon and find out whether they've made any specific requests for target-acquisition batteries. I think there have been good discussions between NATO and UNPROFOR on the types of materiel and the types of technology that would be available because, as I say, they are working closely in coordination with each other.
So either NATO or the Defense Department would be the right place to go for hardware questions.
Q I guess I missed the direct response as to whether electronic surveillance of a Serb artillery piece is acceptable?
MR. McCURRY: I just am not equipped to answer that. I don't know the answer to that. That's a military question.
Q You provided an answer five minutes ago. You said that heavy weapons had to be under physical control of U.N. forces, and "physical control," meaning capable of preventing them from firing on Sarajevo. (Inaudible)
MR. McCURRY: I said that they have to be under -- the weapons have to have an operational configuration to make them incapable of shelling Sarajevo.
Q Which electronic surveillance, presumably, doesn't?
MR. McCURRY: I am not the expert on electronic surveillance capabilities.
It can certainly --
Q (Inaudible) away from Sarajevo and then still have that operational configuration and still be able to shell?
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MR. McCURRY: I don't think that's the interpretation they have in mind.
Q So you're saying they can be disabled as an alternative -- the weapons firing can take --
MR. McCURRY: I said exactly what I said. They have an operational configuration that makes them incapable of shelling Sarajevo.
Q Could you explain that?
MR. McCURRY: No I can't. I'm not going to try to explain it, because I think that's something that military commanders and military people who know exactly what they need to have to satisfy themselves can work out. It's not a point of diplomacy. I will refer that question to the Pentagon. I'm not going to take it.
Q Mike, that sounds like new that language. Did that just develop this morning?
MR. McCURRY: That's, in my urgent plea, to give me something that would fend off the wolves. I say, give me some language that you're going to use over there that you're going to be capable of discussing in greater detail, which I assume they will today.
Q Can we turn to something maybe you're more familiar with -- the diplomatic front and what Redman has been doing in Sarajevo and --
MR. McCURRY: Let's go to diplomacy, since I'm clearly much better at that than I am military hardware.
Q In your read-out any -- something to report?
MR. McCURRY: What I want to tell you about Redman's activities are the following: I think, as you know, as I said yesterday he's been in Sarajevo. He had good discussions yesterday with President Izetbegovic, with Prime Minister Silajdzic and with Vice President Ganic. He also met, as I indicated earlier, with Commander Rose yesterday to discuss what type of progress they're seeing on the withdrawal of Serb artillery and what steps will be taken as we move ahead.
There's a bad snowstorm in Sarajevo today so he was either going to leave later today or perhaps tomorrow to go to Zagreb. I believe that beyond that, other than what we've told you all along about the purpose of his diplomacy, there's not a lot new to add.
He continues to explore with the Bosnian Government various ideas that they have and various positions that they have taken and could conceivably take in the future in connection with the talks in Geneva.
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Q Is he better informed now about what are the reasonable requests of the Bosnian Government?
MR. McCURRY: I think he's getting a good idea, yes.
Q Michael, on Haiti --
Q Could I have one more on this?
MR. McCURRY: One more on that.
Q General Rose has also indicated that if things work out well in Sarajevo, he might be interested in doing the same sort of thing in Mostar. Is that something the U.S. Government has any interest in supporting?
MR. McCURRY: We'll have to look -- I saw some reference to that in the paper today, and we'll have to look at that when the time comes. The time, as far as I can determine today, has not yet come yet, within our government at least.
Q On Haiti, would the Administration like to see President Aristide meet with the Parliament -- consider the plan that the Parliamentarians here have, and is our patience wearing a bit thin with him at this point over that and his refusal to name a new Prime Minister?
MR. McCURRY: Question number one, yes. Question number two, duck!
Q Come on, Mike. (Laughter)
MR. McCURRY: Let me go through what we would like to have happen -- would hope would happen. A little bit, first of all, on the delegation. We've talked, I think, in recent days about the delegation of leading parliamentarians and others that have been here in Washington.
They have outlined for us and for the other Four Friends a plan that they have developed which would implement a proposal that was originally launched at that conference that was held in Miami back in January -- January 14, 15 and 16, I think.
Under the plan, the essential elements of the plan, they would include naming a new Prime Minister, replacing the current military leadership, passage of certain legislation and the ratification of the Prime Minister by the Parliament, and I think that those are steps that would then be taken, sanctions would be suspended, and finally terminated once President Aristide returns as a result of those steps.
We think that plan is consistent with the principles that were outlined at Governors Island, and that, as we did with the Miami Conference itself, we've been supportive.
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President Aristide, it's our understanding, did meet with the delegation last week. He advised the delegation that he supported the plan that was prepared during the conference that he sponsored in Miami in January, and he asked the delegation to come up exactly with what they've done -- some single recommended plan of action. This delegation worked hard, reached agreement on a plan similar to the Miami plan, but to our knowledge at this point President Aristide has not met with the delegation.
The United States certainly hopes that President Aristide would meet promptly with the delegation of democratically elected Haitian officials and enter substantive discussions with them on what is clearly a concrete and serious proposal.
Q Mike, until this proposal is at least considered, will the Administration press for tougher sanctions?
MR. McCURRY: We are pressing forward with gaining support within the United Nations for the draft resolution on expanded sanctions. I don't want to speculate on what it would take to actually get that resolution before the United Nations for a vote, but we obviously have got comprehensive sanctions in place ourselves, and we believe that they will be more effective when sanctions are accompanied by a serious political effort to move the process forward.
Q Mike, does President Aristide appear to lack the flexibility necessary to reach some kind of agreement to put him back in office?
MR. McCURRY: I didn't say that.
Q Would you?
MR. McCURRY: No, not now.
MR. McCURRY: We'll see. No, again, our hope is that they can work to get a political plan which clearly has some merit under discussion, under review, and hopefully into place.
Q Can you put out a copy of the plan? Can you make it available to us?
MR. McCURRY: We are not the custodians of this plan. This plan has really been developed, as I suggested, by the parliamentary delegation that is here, so they would be the more appropriate people to do so. I'll see whether that has been made available. If it's been made available publicly in any other setting, I will certainly see if I can provide copies here.
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Q But specifically with respect to the removal of the military leadership, a copy of the plan faxed to me, the alleged plan, and it only mentioned the Commander of the army, General Cedras.
Can you cite a specific provision of the plan as drafted which calls for the removal of the military leadership?
MR. McCURRY: I can. I gave you what's my understanding of the broad outline of the plan.
Q Does the fact that we're not custodians of the plan reflect a sort of stepping back of the U.S. role in trying to mediate this or --
MR. McCURRY: No. I think our view consistently has been that there needs to be a broad-based government formed within Haiti that is capable of winning support, especially within the parliament, as required in a parliamentary system, and the work by this delegation, I think, clearly reflects an effort of that nature that we want to be supportive of. We're clearly not in a position to write the plan ourselves.
Q One of Aristide's problems, apparently, with the plan is there's no date certain for his return. Does the U.S. believe that this plan should or should not have a date certain for his return?
MR. McCURRY: We subscribe to the broad principles of the Governors Island process.
Q Who exactly would name the Prime Minister under this plan?
MR. McCURRY: The President. The President names, and then it's ratified, I think, by both houses of the parliament.
Q Doesn't the Haitian constitution, which used to be the basic ground rules, say that the parliament should elect a new Prime Minister to replace Malval?
MR. McCURRY: Yes, the parliament does have to approve the Prime Minister named by the President. That is correct. In fact, one of our concerns is that there has to be a figure appointed as Prime Minister that can gain the support of parliament itself under that constitution, that's correct.
Q I'm sorry, I don't think you answered the question on whether the United States would prefer that the plan include a date certain for Aristide's return.
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MR. McCURRY: We would prefer that there be an immediate return of President Aristide to Haiti, yes.
Q But are we willing -- I mean, when you say "we subscribe to the principles of the Governors Island conference," do those principles include a date certain for his return beyond which we may move with additional sanctions or other measures or --
MR. McCURRY: I'll say what I said before, that we support the immediate return of President Aristide and the restoration of democracy, and we're looking for any plan that can advance those goals expeditiously.
Q Mike, could we have a question on South Asia, please?
Q I have one more on Haiti. At what point precisely are sanctions to be suspended under the plan? At what precise point?
MR. McCURRY: I'm not familiar. You sound like you're more familiar with the plan than I am, so I don't want to hazard a guess without having the text of the document in front of me. My understanding is that it's the point at which -- I think, as I indicated earlier, sanctions would be suspended and finally terminated upon President Aristide's return, but that would occur once those steps that I outlined had been completed; that there had been a new Prime Minister named; that you had replaced the current military leadership; the passage of certain legislation; and the ratification of the Prime Minister by the parliament, going back to Jim's question.
Q At that point it would be suspended or terminated?
MR. McCURRY: They would say, once these steps are completed, sanctions would be suspended and finally terminated upon President Aristide's return.
Q Is the delegation still here? Are they still trying to meet with Aristide?
MR. McCURRY: They are still here. That's my understanding, correct.
Q Mike, do you understand that to mean that the sanctions would not be suspended until Aristide was back in Haiti, or might there be a preliminary or an intermediate stage as there was on Governors Island?
MR. McCURRY: The implication of that wording is that there's an intermediate phase, but I want to check further to make absolutely sure of that.
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Q Does the United States support that, having tried it once before?
MR. McCURRY: I just told you what we support. We support this plan that the Haitian parliamentarians are trying to develop.
Q I'm not clear what the connection is between proceeding at the U.N. with additional sanctions and this political debate that's going on here. Are they on two separate tracks? Are you holding off in New York on sanctions until you see how this political process plays out?
MR. McCURRY: I think as a practical matter they are related. They are on two tracks, because they're workng in two venues. They're working here with the delegation and then attempting to arrange meetings with President Aristide.
I think, by the way, that Under Secretary Tarnoff plans to see the delegation tomorrow, I believe. But then they are also working at the United Nations separately on the draft resolution on sanctions.
As a practical matter, I think what's happening in their effort to get a dialogue that might prove conducive to solving Haiti's political crisis is, in fact, related to what steps they take on sanctions. But I don't know that there's a one-for-one correlation.
Q Is there a feeling in terms of getting this to a vote in the Security Council, either among the Four Friends or among other members of the Council, that -- misgivings that the sanctions now will only worsen the harship for the ordinary people or poor people in Haiti who are already suffering under the sanctions, and therefore you don't -- you have misgivings about going ahead with sanctions because of their social impact.
MR. McCURRY: We have acknowledged all along that these sanctions do have an impact, and that the responsibility for that impact lies on the Haitian military authorities that have consistently stood in the way of implementing a plan to restore democracy and restore the duly elected President.
But we are concerned about those effects. That's why we've labored, as I've indicated on many occasions, to try to address the humanitarian effects of these sanctions by making provisions necessary for the delivery of fuel to humanitarian organizations and those who are attempting to feed the poor, and we participate and help fund programs that are attempting to get food and medicine to those who are affected.
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Q Do you have an understanding as to who in the military would have to step down for this plan to fly?
MR. McCURRY: No. The wording I have is "current military leadership," and I think that affects more than one individual, more than one faction. It affects people who are sometimes now increasingly at odds with each other.
Q Do we know if it includes police leadership?
MR. McCURRY: I know specifically what you are asking, and I'm practically sure that it does, but I'll double-check and see. If there's any reason that it doesn't for some reason, we'll post a correction.
Q Mike, when you say that they are related -- the sanctions and the forwarding of this new political formula plan -- does this mean that -- I don't understand just how you say what the relationship is. Does this mean we do not intend to go forward with attempting to get the new sanctions adopted by the Security Council?
MR. McCURRY: No, I didn't say that, John. I said as a practical matter, they're related and principally because you've got the same people who are working the issue are involved in both efforts. For example, Ambassador Pezzullo is, I think, meeting in New York. He's in New York today to continue to work on sanctions, but he's obviously been participating very closely in some of the discussions related to the parliamentary delegations. I think as a practical effect, the actions affect each other.
Q I mean if the parliamentary plan does not go forward, do we intend to continue pressing for adoption of the new sanctions?
MR. McCURRY: If that does not go forward -- I mean, it's our hope that the plan would go forward. Whether or not that would affect our determination to move ahead on sanctions is something we'll just have to see, if and when the plan does not move forward.
Q I have one last question on that. I'm sorry. In December, as I recall, the United States joined with three other countries that formed the so-called Four Friends to say that if the military did not meet the requirements of the Governors Island agreement and make plans to step down by the 15th of January, then a move would be made to impose additional sanctions. Are you now reconsidering this possibly in light of what you just said?
MR. McCURRY: No. We're not reconsidering that.
Q Do you consider this plan to be modifiable at all? That is, if President Aristide meets with the delegation and has some reservations about points of it, can
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the plan be changed and still secure the backing of the United States, or is this now a plan favored by the United States?
MR. McCURRY: It would be a different plan at that point. We'd have to see what type of modifications are being suggested.
Q New subject.
MR. McCURRY: New subject.
Q Middle East.
MR. McCURRY: Middle East. Middle East peace talks.
Q They've restarted here in Washington, and meanwhile --
MR. McCURRY: With the exception of the Jordanian track, because I think the Jordanian delegation ran into some airplane problems, but otherwise yes.
Q Meanwhile in Damascus, the official press is launching a very strong attack against Israel and using words and rhetoric which have not been used for weeks and months. Are you concerned that maybe the Syrians are dragging their feet and that the high-level meeting, the summit in Geneva, didn't really bear the fruit that you were expecting?
MR. McCURRY: I'm not thoroughly familiar with those comments. We have said to all of the parties in the past that we would hope through their rhetoric and their actions that they would continue to help nurture the peace process and not stand in its way, and I think that would apply in this case as well.
Q Are you saying it's only rhetoric, Mike? I mean, it's a pretty strong statement, accusing Israel of aspiring to holler it's a "Greater Israel," saying that nothing will be d ne here. I mean, isn't that a direct slap in the face to the President of the United States who's meeting paved the way for --
MR. McCURRY: The parties throughout this long process have often said many things about each other, and we've refrained from each and every opportunity to comment. What we continue to do is urge the parties to moderate both their behavior and their rhetoric in a way that helps nurture the search for a comprehensive and just peace.
Q Mike, if I remember correctly, you've always asked the Syrians to try to rein in the activities of Hizbollah and other groups in south Lebanon, and today again
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the press is mentioning the right of those people to fight the Israeli occupation and seeing that they're not doing anything to stop that. How can you square that with what you said about --
MR. McCURRY: We have raised in the past Syrian support for organizations or entities that are enemies of the peace process, continue to be concerned about it, and we will see whether there's any activity that changes as a result of the statements you're referring to.
Q Mike, is the Administration so concerned about the current jam between Syria and Israel that the Secretary is preparing to travel to the Middle East at the end of March?
MR. McCURRY: I'm not aware of any plans for the Secretary to travel to the Middle East in March.
Q Mike, I have a question on South Asia, please. The Pakistan Ambassador, Dr. Maleeha Lodhi, presented her credentials yesterday, and in her speech she referred to torture and oppression of the people of Kashmir by half a million security forces, apparently of India. And the President then met long and shared her concerns for human rights violations in Kashmir.
Now, my two questions: Isn't there some sort of a convention that an Ambassador is not supposed to criticize a third country in public official pronouncements in the country to which he or she is accredited?
And, secondly, the reaction in India to the President's statement is sort of, "Well, there he goes again," because previously there has been a furor over similar statements and letters by the President for Kashmir. And the feeling is that to make another statement now, especially at the credential ceremony of the Pakistan Ambassador, displays a lack of political and diplomatic sensitivity. Would you comment on that?
MR. McCURRY: I will check with our Office of Protocol to see if they can advise me on the first half of your question. On the second half of your question, I'll see if there's any rection that the United States has had to the remarks you referred to. I don't have anything prepared.
Q Iran today restated some of its ominous remarks about Rushdie, and I think it's the fifth anniversary of the Fatwa, and I wondered if you had anything to say about that and the lack of progress.
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MR. McCURRY: As we have said in regard to Mr. Rushdie in the past, freedom of speech is a fundamental human right and we condemn both the death threat against Mr. Rushdie and the bounty offered by Iran as incompatible with basic standards of international conduct, and we call upon the Government of Iran to repeal them.
Q Do you have any reaction to the anti-American demonstration in Salonika this morning -- Greece?
MR. McCURRY: No, I don't. I will find out more about that. I actually had not heard about that.
Q A huge demonstration, tens of thousands of people demonstrating against the recognition by the American Administration of Macedonia.
MR. McCURRY: I'll find out more about it.
Q Thank you.
MR. McCURRY: You're welcome.
(The briefing concluded at 2:05 p.m.) (###)To the top of this page