US DEPARTMENT OF STATE OFFICE OF THE SPOKESMAN DAILY PRESS BRIEFING WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 16, 1994 DEPARTMENT OF STATE DAILY PRESS BRIEFING I N D E X Wednesday, February 16, 1994 Briefers: Dan Kurtzer Christine Shelly SUBJECT PAGE MIDDLE EAST PEACE PROCESS Opening Remarks by Asst. Secretary Kurtzer ...... 1-4 Business Roundtable/Other Business Meetings ..... 4-9 Multilateral Talks/Participants ................. 5-7 -- Syria/Lebanon ............................... 5-7 Arms Control/Regional Security .................. 7 Refugees ........................................ 7,9-10 Economic Development ............................ 10-11 Bilateral Talks/Satisfaction with Format ........ 11-12 HAITI Parliament Delegation's Meeting at Department.... 12-13 Proposal by Parliament Delegation ............... 13-17 -- Statement by Aristide Yesterday ............. 13-15,18-19 Draft Resolution on Expanded Sanctions .......... 17 NORTH KOREA Meeting with US in New York Yesterday ........... 19-21 Agreement re: IAEA Inspections .................. 20 SOUTH KOREA Foreign Minister's Visit to US .................. 21 GREECE Reported Closing of Border with FYR of Macedonia 21-22 Demonstration Yesterday ......................... 22 CHINA Arrest of Americans/Other Foreigners for Religious Activities/US Reaction .............. 23-24 FORMER YUGOSLAVIA Ban on Heavy Weapons around Sarajevo ............ 25-26 NATO/UNPROFOR Cooperation ....................... 25-26 UN Commander's Request for Additional Troops .... 26,28 Conditions for US Troop Participation ........... 26-27
DEPARTMENT OF STATE DAILY PRESS BRIEFING DPC #28
WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 16, 1994, 1:16 P. M . (ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED)
MS. SHELLY: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. To begin today's briefing, I'm pleased to introduce Dan Kurtzer, the Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs.
As Mike mentioned yesterday, Dan is here to brief you on the multilateral discussions of the Middle East peace talks. I can see that's obviously stimulated a good attendance for today.
As you know, these have been taking place in a number of capitals, and he will be happy to take your questions on this. He will follow the usual format. He'll open with a short statement and then move on to the questions.
Also, as Mike mentioned yesterday, Dan is not able to address the bilateral talks, because as we usually and customarily do on these, we are leaving the discussions of those and characterizations of them to the parties themselves.
Without any further ado, I will pass the floor to Dan and let him begin with his remarks.
DEPUTY ASSISTANT SECRETARY KURTZER: It's a rare moment when those of us involved in the peace process can step from behind the closed doors and share with you a little of the excitement that we enjoy behind those doors. But since the multilateral process is embarking now on a new phase which will be to the immediate benefit of peoples in the region, we thought it would be useful to share with you a little more prospective on the content and direction of the multilateral negotiations.
By way of background, you recall that in the runup to the Madrid Peace Conference in 1991, we envisaged two sets of negotiations: (1) the bilateral negotiations involving Israel, Lebanon, Syria, Palestinians and Jordan that would be directed at the core issues of the Arab-Israeli
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conflict. Those issues related to Resolution 242, territory, peace and security, and there was a complementary set of negotiations which was intended to address issues that had not been discussed by the regional parties for over four decades, and to which the regional parties, we felt, needed to address themselves in order to begin correcting some problems that have beset this region for much too long.
At the earliest phases of the multilateral process, which was launched in fact in early 1992 in Moscow -- in the earliest phases of the process, there was a great deal of getting to know one another. There were seminars that were conducted. There was a process of mutual familiarization. It was also a process of educating the parties as to the depth and scope of the problems which they had agreed to address.
What buoyed us in this earliest phase is the fact that even as the bilateral negotiations went through their ups and downs, as they were bound to do, 11,12, sometimes 13 Arab parties joined together with Israel and a number of extra-regional parties in trying to address problems in five discrete areas -- areas related to regional economic developments, refugees, arms control and regional security, environment and water.
The multilateral process is, of course, amenable to the inclusion of additional issues, but it was these issues on which the parties embarked in an effort to try to come to grips with how they could fix some of these problems.
After this period of familiarization, the sharing of ideas and some education, during the last year we've seen an increasing pace and scope of activity in the process in which the regional parties themselve have begun to insist that more concreteness be included in the discussions and more visible activity be undertaken which would address specific problems and begin to be seen by the peoples in the region as meeting their concerns.
We saw this quite directly in the last round of working group meetings that were held in October and November of '93 when several of the working groups actually formulated and began implementing concrete projects: A rainwater catchment project in Gaza; a mutual declaration on arms control and regional security; environmental issues, waste water treatment, desertification.
In other words, each of the groups began to focus in on one or two specific projects that could be seen by peoples in the region and show them that there could potentially be fruits of peace that would come at a time when the core issues of the conflict were also being addressed.
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To reflect this increased urgency which was adduced by us from the parties in the region, the multilateral steering group decided to hold an extraordinary session last week in Ottawa. I headed the United States delegation, and that group decided on three issues which in fact are designed to give even more impetus to this process.
Number one, at the urging of the regional parties in the multilateral steering group, the steering group will now take a much more active role in trying to increase the pace and the scope of the work of the working groups. In other words, to bring even more concreteness to the activities that the five working groups have thus far been engaged in.
Secondly, we had a very useful discussion on relations among peoples in the region, and this was stimulated by a discussion we had started in Tokyo which asked the question, "Is this region going to be ready for peace when peace breaks out?" And since there is a great deal of optimism -- again notwithstanding the ups and downs of the bilateral talks -- but since there's a great deal of optimism that there will be agreements signed between Israel and the Arabs and that those agreements will be implemented over the course of the next several years, has the region really begun to grapple with some of the issues that will perhaps retard economic development if they're not addressed even now.
So the multilateral steering group decided to try to formulate some guidelines that perhaps the working groups could begin working on in order to bring about an environment that would be conducive to the implementation of agreements as they are reached in the bilaterals.
And, third, the steering group has given urgency to the formulation of a set of regional developmental priorities, much akin to what was undertaken about a year and a half ago with regard specifically to the West Bank and Gaza.
As you recall, at that time a study was commissioned on the development priorities for the territories which proved to be very useful right after September 13 when an international effort was mobilized to bring about the support for the Palestinian-Israeli agreement.
We've decided to do the same thing now on a region-wide basis in order to stimulate economic development and again more concrete projects on the part of the working groups.
So I wanted to convey to you in these few opening remarks a sense of movement on the part of the multilateral process. I also don't want to convey to you a sense of over-optimism about the prospects for the multilateral
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process outstripping the pace of the bilaterals. After all, the bilateral negotiations remain at the core of resolving the Arab-Israeli dispute. All the parties in the Middle East -- Israel and the Arabs -- all insist that the core issues of this conflict be addressed before a more normal relationship develops among them. But as that relationship develops as a result of successes in the bilaterals, I think the multilaterals have now begun to move further and faster to begin addressing some of these concrete problems and again to create an environment in which implementation of agreements will make much more sense.
I'd be happy now to take specific questions from you.
Q After all the icebreaking, there comes along a little test case in the form of a concert of businessmen that was supposed to convene here in Washington. And as far as I understand, those businessmen from the Arab world never showed up. So I'm trying to put into perspective this icebreaking factor when it comes to the real test of just doing business and not continuing of these multilateral talks.
DEPUTY ASSISTANT SECRETARY KURTZER: Sure. As part of the work of the regional economic development group, the United States did offer to host a business roundtable in Washington, and we decided several weeks before it was to be convened to postpone it. The reason for that is that we heard from a number of parties in the region that they were being inundated by meetings.
In fact, one of the functions of the steering group -- and it was one of the main discussions we had last week in Canada -- was how to rationalize the meeting schedule of the multilateral process where many governments with relatively few people involved in the peace process find themselves inundated by invitations to meetings and business roundtables and who knows what.
So as one of our tasks, we are now advising the working groups to try to cluster many of these activities together so as to minimize the time required by people to participate and maximize their effectiveness.
It was in this regard that we decided to postpone the business roundtable in order to try to maximize participation. We did find, however, in subsequent discussions, once we had taken the decision to postpone, that there is significant interest even in the private sector in the region to participate in these kinds of activities. I think there's also one scheduled in London next month and there may be one in Rhodes a month later.
So there's a succession of these business activities designed to stimulate interaction among business people in
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the region, and we're hopeful that when ours is rescheduled, it will enjoy relatively good success.
Q Could I do a follow-up to that, please? Would you be able to tell us who was invited or specifically or from what country or give us an idea? A lot of us have never heard of business people looking to make money who find their schedule too busy to show up.
DEPUTY ASSISTANT SECRETARY KURTZER: We had been in touch with our missions and embassies in the Middle East, and over a period of time we've tried to develop a list of invitees, both from public sectors and private sectors in the region. We have been in the process of contacting many of these people, and again, even though business people may find it a little bit less onerous to travel where they see business opportunities, since there are now a number of such business roundtables being organized to complement the multilateral process, we found ourselves in competition with ourselves.
So what we're trying to do is simply rationalize the schedule of delivery of such meetings and to focus in very much on the business people who actually now do believe there is business to be done in the region.
Q If I recollect correctly, you have not been able yet to overcome the reticence of Syria to participate to the multilateral.
DEPUTY ASSISTANT SECRETARY KURTZER: That's correct.
Q So what do you make of this? Have you tried more? Are you trying to get them on board, talking to them on their participation and their lack of it?
DEPUTY ASSISTANT SECRETARY KURTZER: Since before the Madrid process began, both Syria and Lebanon had indicated reservations about their own participation in the process, even though they accepted an invitation to a process which included multilateral negotiations as one of its components.
For that reason, the invitation to Madrid left it optional to those regional parties which wished to participate, these negotiations would be open to them. The co-sponsors of this process -- the United States and Russia -- have consistently over the past two years kept the Syrian and Lebanese Governments very closely informed of what we're doing in the multilaterals, and we have used every opportunity to try to encourage their participation.
One way of doing this is to reduce the concerns that we have heard from Syria and Lebanon that the multilaterals may in fact precede a resolution of the core issues in bringing about progress.
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Our view, as it has been since the beginning of this process, is that the multilaterals complement and act as a catalyst to the bilaterals, but the parties still have an obligation to confront the core issues of territory, peace and security. Nothwithstanding that obligation, we feel it is also useful to try to bring Syria and Lebanon into this process in order to try to bring about planning for that period when peace is actually implemented.
Q Now, on specific issues like water, for example, or a community development where Lebanon and Syria are central, how can you hope to make any progress without those two main actors?
DEPUTY ASSISTANT SECRETARY KURTZER: We have found in each group that where there is an overall regional development plan being formulated, obviously the views, interests, concerns of Syria and Lebanon have to be factored in, and that certainly is an inhibiting factor in trying to develop broad-scale regional planning.
However, what we've also found is that there are enough projects involving several countries which can be undertaken either together or in parallel that don't need to await the participation of all parties in the Middle East.
For example, the rainwater catchment project which has begun in Gaza. There may be parallel projects in other places in the Middle East. The lessons that we derive from that project can be applied by Syria and Lebanon at some future point, but we don't have to await Syrian and Lebanese participation in order to begin implementation of the project itself.
Q Are you making any -- sorry, the last follow-up. Are you making any effort to delink the Lebanese and Syrian concerns when it comes to the multilateral? We all understand that on that bilateral issue, it's extremely difficult for Lebanon not to follow the lead of Syria. But on issues like water, for example, it might be easier for them to being taken away from their Syrian "masters." Have you tried any -- attempted to --
DEPUTY ASSISTANT SECRETARY KURTZER: There's no plan to formally delink any of these issues in the way you were suggesting. What we're trying to do is to make it attractive to Syria and Lebanon to participate where they see their own interests affected. There's no requirement that any party participate in all of the multilaterals. They can pick and choose. There may be points in this process at which both Syria and Lebanon decide that they wish to participate in part of the process and not other parts. That's also an acceptable outcome.
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Q Dan, you said the United States uses every opportunity to request that Syria does participate. Did President Clinton, in his summit with Assad, raise the issue? Did he get any -- obviously, he didn't get anywhere, but was he led to believe that he might get somewhere on this?
DEPUTY ASSISTANT SECRETARY KURTZER: I just don't know if he was. I can check into that. I know it was on the President's agenda. I can't state specifically if --
Q It was one of his talking points when he went in?
DEPUTY ASSISTANT SECRETARY KURTZER: (Inaudible).
Q In the discussions concerning security and arms control -- in the multis -- have you at all dealt with the possibility of peacekeeping troops in the region -- specifically, either U.N. troops or United States forces, whether under the United States flag or some other flag?
DEPUTY ASSISTANT SECRETARY KURTZER: That has not come up. In the group on arms control and regional security. The group has decided to divide its efforts into what they call operational and conceptual baskets. They have been focusing more on region-wide activities that are applicable across a broader spectrum than simply a peacekeeping function in one or two places. So it has not yet come up, but it could be an appropriate issue at some future time.
Q I have two questions. The first one is about the refugees problem. There was any progress on it in the multilateral? That's the first question. And, second, I want to go back on the business issues. There is any change in the position of Jordan about the big event they were suppose to have in Amman?
DEPUTY ASSISTANT SECRETARY KURTZER: On the refugee working group, as you know, the refugee issue is perhaps one of the most sensitive political issues in the entire process and yet that group has found a way to develop an agenda which has seven action items on it, one of which is called "family reunification," which all sides recognize as a means of beginning to address the aspirations of some Palestinians to travel back or return to homes that they may have left for whatever reasons.
The group itself has made some very concrete progress; both in terms of its study mission, a very good study was undertaken on health and social conditions of refugees.
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The United States, which is shepherding the issue of training in both the refugee group and the economic development group, has already conducted a number of training missions for refugees -- specifically, with Palestinians more broadly -- and we're also trying to train trainers. In other words, to make these self-sustaining programs in business administration and financial management and the like.
The United States also, at the last meeting of the refugee working group, for example, responding to an appeal by the U.N. Relief and Works Agency, gave a special contribution for the rehabilitation of some refugee housing and camps in Lebanon.
So the group itself has found a way to identify ways in which it can address some of the more pressing social and economic problems affecting refugees without prejudice or prejudging the way in which the political issues involved in the refugee problem will be addressed.
Q What are the numbers, really, in the different categories? I understand that there are three categories.
DEPUTY ASSISTANT SECRETARY KURTZER: Numbers have been an interesting issue, and it has come up at every meeting of the refugee working group. There has been a consensus so far that we would put off trying to formalize numbering refugees.
What we have begun to do in that group is to try to divide the issue into some manageable proportions -- refugees from 1947-49; displaced persons or refugees from 1967, and those who have been displaced from their homes for other reasons as a result of the Arab-Israeli conflict. So while we have not attached numbers, we've tried to disaggregate the larger problem into smaller manageable proportions.
The second question, I forget. I'm sorry.
Q The second question was about the economical event in Amman.
DEPUTY ASSISTANT SECRETARY KURTZER: There is a proposal on the table to hold a rather large and ambitious business conference in Amman which would attract not only business people from the region but from outside the region and to try to effect as many contacts and specific projects as possible.
We have not yet determined a date for it, but we continue in our discussions with the Jordanians and others with regard to trying to finalize some of the plans on that.
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Q I understand there's a Jordanian rejection of the idea?
DEPUTY ASSISTANT SECRETARY KURTZER: No. The Jordanians have not rejected it. We have not yet concretized the date or any of the planning, but it has not been rejected by any party yet.
Q Back on the refugees. How do you define a "refugee?" How is it defined in the working groups?
DEPUTY ASSISTANT SECRETARY KURTZER: The working groups' definition decided at its first meeting in '92 was, anybody displaced as a result of the Arab-Israeli conflict. This avoided trying to define some of the issues which only the parties, in their final status of negotiations, will have to address as they solve the refugee problem. But it allowed us to try to deal with the problems that beset people whose lives have been affected the Arab-Israeli conflict in a negative way. So that's the working definition that that working group has used.
Q And does it then deal with the single issue of repatriation?
DEPUTY ASSISTANT SECRETARY KURTZER: I'm sorry?
Q Does it deal with the issue of repatriation?
DEPUTY ASSISTANT SECRETARY KURTZER: No. The working group itself, in fact, has decided that issues relating to repatriation are more appropriately going to be handled in the discussions on final status. It's the objective of the working group to try to deal with some of the consequences of the refugee issue. But, again, with prejudice or without prejudging the way in which the problem may be decided politically.
To give you a concrete example, when an outside party like the United States responds to an appeal by UNRWA for funds to rehabilitate refugee housing, this is done not in an effort to resettle refugees in situ, but rather to suggest that people don't have to live in the squalid conditions that they're living now in order to maintain whatever hopes and aspirations they may have in this process.
It's toward that objective that the refugee working group has directed its efforts in health areas, social welfare, education, and housing, for example.
Q A follow-up to that, please?
Q Is that definition of "refugee" applicable only to Palestinians or are other people in the --
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DEPUTY ASSISTANT SECRETARY KURTZER: It speaks for itself. It was discussed at the first meeting that it was not going to be limited to one particular group of people.
Q So it is applicable also to the --
DEPUTY ASSISTANT SECRETARY KURTZER: It could be.
Q -- of south Lebanon, the Shia in south Lebanon, or even the Chistians in the --
DEPUTY ASSISTANT SECRETARY KURTZER: It could be; that's correct.
Q A follow-up, please. Does the United States Government consider Jews from Arab countries, such Morocco, etc., refugees?
DEPUTY ASSISTANT SECRETARY KURTZER: In the first meeting of the refugee working group, as I responded in answer to the previous question, any people in the Middle East who have been displaced as a result of the Arab-Israeli conflict fit into the proper work of this working group.
It happens that until now most of our work has been directed at trying to ameliorate living conditions for Palestinians, but that's not to the exclusion of the possibility of dealing with problems associated with other groups as well.
Q Well, more specifically, again -- yes or no -- does the United States consider Jews who left Arab countries, such as Morocco or Yemen, refugees?
DEPUTY ASSISTANT SECRETARY KURTZER: I think the answer has been clear by virtue of our policies over the years. Yes, they are refugees; and, yes, they have been rehabilitated and resettled in many places, including in Israel. But, again, I'm now referring to the work of the refugee working group and the way in which those people displaced as a result of this conflict, whose lives have been affected by it, qualify for the kind of activities that we're engaged in.
Q What is the relationship between the group on development and the World Bank's own planning? Can you explain a little bit about how that works?
DEPUTY ASSISTANT SECRETARY KURTZER: Until September, when there was a relatively clear bifurcation of responsibility, there was considerable overlap between what the regional economic development working group was engaged in and World Bank efforts to try to forecast regional development priorities and needs.
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Since September, when the multilateral steering group created, basically, two mechanisms to coordinate the delivery of assistance to Palestinians; on the one hand, a World Bank consultative group that operates on a day-to-day basis, to try to coordinate donor efforts; and on the other hand, an ad hoc group composed of the major donors to try to ensure that donor efforts are coordinated in their delivery.
Since that time, there has been a clearer distinction between what the World Bank has been engaged in, which is primarily now devoted to the implementation of assistance to the West Bank and Gaza, as opposed to what the regional economic development group is doing, which is now primarily devoted to regional economic development.
In fact, at its last meeting in October the economic development working group put forward an action plan which was quite ambitious, dealing with transportation, tourism, economic development, communications, agricultural priorities. It is now that action plan which has become very much the focal point of that group's efforts.
Q If I could ask you to sort of step back a little bit and assess the impact of President Assad's son, Basil -- his death -- on the multilateral talks, and, really, sort of an overall peace process. There's been some pretty inflammatory rhetoric coming out of Damascus -- in the government press, at least.
DEPUTY ASSISTANT SECRETARY KURTZER: As Christine Shelly suggested at the beginning, I'm going to focus primarily on the multilaterals.
The effect of President Assad's son death on the multilaterals, I think, is basically negligible. Each of the parties to the multilateral process has expressed condolence to President Assad.
Since Syria is not a party to the multilaterals, however, the process continued unaffected by it.
Just one sentence on the other half of your question, which is probably the real part of your question, I think the fact that the heads of delegations negotiations began in Washington a couple of weeks ago and then resumed yesterday, is a testament to the commitment of Syria and the other parties to continue this process of negotiations.
Q Can I ask just one more very general question on the bilaterals? And that is to say, whether the new format of keeping them out of sight has yielded anymore positive results than sort of the old format?
DEPUTY ASSISTANT SECRETARY KURTZER: This is really a perfect question to answer the usual answer which is, you
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have to ask them. The parties themselves are satisfied with the more streamline version of negotiations. But I would let them comment on the substantive outcomes.
Q I'm asking you whether the United States is satisfied?
DEPUTY ASSISTANT SECRETARY KURTZER: We are also satisfied, and that's why it's continuing this week.
MS. SHELLY: Any other questions?
Q So far as I know, Israel cannot hold a seat on the Security Council of the United Nations. In any of your working groups, has this been discussed -- Israel's role in the United Nations?
DEPUTY ASSISTANT SECRETARY KURTZER: That issue has not come up in the working groups. We are dealing separately with the issue of Israel's inclusion in regional groupings under the United Nations, not without some success, but not specifically with any success with regard to the question you pose.
MS. SHELLY: Thanks, Dan. Any other questions? Any other topics?
Q Do you have a readout on the meeting on Haiti with Mr. Tarnoff today?
MS. SHELLY: I've got a bit of a one for you. Under Secretary Tarnoff, as you know, met with the delegation of Haitian parliamentarians this morning. He had asked to meet with them to discuss their proposals that they've been working -- while they're here -- for their country's political crisis.
In addition to Under Secretary Tarnoff, other participants included Assistant Secretary Watson, Ambassador Swing, and the Secretary's Special Envoy on Haiti, Ambassador Pezzullo. They met this morning for about an hour and a half. I understand it was a very good meeting.
The U.S. side heard the concerns from the parliamentarians about the situation in Haiti and, in particular, their interest in working with President Aristide to develop a political coalition to try and break the impasse, and to also restore democracy to Haiti and try to return President Aristide to his duly elected position.
As I understand it, the proposal that they have been discussing on the way ahead, it grows out of President Aristide's own initiative taken at a conference which he called in mid-January which included naming a new Prime Minister who could build a broad-base political coalition
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government. These were the ideas that were discussed and were -- there was a general exchange of views on these in the meeting this morning.
Q But President Aristide, yesterday, put out a statement saying that he would not appoint a Prime Minister until the military leaders of Haiti had stepped aside and been replaced by, I think what he termed, was leaders responsive to democratic control, or something of that nature.
My question is, do you have any reaction to President Aristide's statement? And doesn't this leave the United States and Aristide very far apart?
MS. SHELLY: I don't have a particular reaction to it. We, certainly, of course, have seen it. I think the point we would want to emphasize is that we think that the proposal that has been put forward by the parliamentarians in the aftermath of the January conference is one which has a lot of very positive elements in it.
We certainly would still like to see the Haitian parliamentarians actually sit down in a face-to-face meeting with President Aristide. We think that there are a lot of good recommendations in this and that it would be perhaps a lot easier for them to try to reach a kind of mutual agreement on the way ahead, if they could sit down and go over this in a face-to-face way.
I think there is still ample possibility for that to take place. That's certainly what we would like to see happen.
Q President Aristide, in his statement, said that the President of the Haitian Senate, who had been brought up here as part of the delegation, left on Monday denouncing this entire process, saying that he did not consider himself to be negotiating any kind of new proposal or plan. Was he present in today's meeting -- the Senate president?
MS. SHELLY: There was a list. I don't have the names of all the parliamentarians who were present. I think it was the group of those who were still here at this point.
I would like to stress that this is not a narrowly focused group that was here. This is a parliamentry group which really spans the entire political spectrum. It includes certainly several of Aristide supporters but it also includes some of his critics as well.
I think the fact that this has been a very broad-based group which has been involved in trying to broker the current impasse, this is a very positive development, even within this group which I said also represents a broad political spectrum, including some of
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Aristide's critics. They were unanimous, I understand, in what they conveyed to U.S. officials this morning in their commitment to President Aristide's return. I think this is a very positive factor and certainly one that we would want to stress.
But as to engaging, really, anymore specifically on items that Aristide had said, I just don't feel I'm really in a position to do that.
Q Can you take the question as to whether the Senate president took part in this meeting, or whether he went home in order not to take part in the meeting?
MS. SHELLY: I'll look into it.
Q I don't think you answered, or at least I didn't understand your answer to the previous question. Do you consider Aristide's statement of yesterday to be a rejection of the plan as put forward by this government?
MS. SHELLY: I think President Aristide certainly stated his views on where he is on this current proposal. I think we've also stated what our views are on this.
Certainly, we would like to see the distance between President Aristide and the proposal being put forward by the parliamentarians, we'd certainly like to see that narrowed.
Q It doesn't sound like it is being narrowed. It sounds to the contrary, in fact; that he wants, at least the order changed; that he wants to return and then -- or the military removed, he wants to return, and then he'll talk about appointing a Prime Minister and a government.
That seems to be quite a fundamental difference in approach?
MS. SHELLY: I don't think there are differences in elements. As to the precise political sequencing of which exact item happens first and by what date, I just don't think it's very useful for me to get into that here.
The whole sequence of this, how this would happen, what the elements are, including the whole situation with respect to President Aristide's return, those are obviously the elements which are all on the table and are all under discussion.
But I think the positive point here is that this is a group which built on President Aristide's own initiative. In terms of the positions that they expressed to U.S. officials this morning, they were unanimous in their view that part of the way ahead included the return of President Aristide. And, as I mentioned, they were unanimous on that point. I
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think, for that reason, we feel that this is a very positive proposal that should get serious consideration. We certainly hope that before the parliamentarians would leave, that they will have the opportunity to sit down directly with President Aristide and try to sort out what their differences are.
Q If you have read, as you say, President Aristide's statement yesterday, it's pretty clear that he has given it consideration and has just about rejected it out of hand. Why are you now standing there, as a representative of the U.S. Government, saying that you still see positive elements, and that it's not necessary to get into the question of the sequence since U.S. officials, who talked to some reporters earlier this week, really described the sequencing as the core and the real importance of the whole thing? Aren't you just talking totally past what Aristide said yesterday?
MS. SHELLY: No, I think he said what he had to say on this yesterday, and I think we've said what we have to say on this today.
Q Where do you go from there?
MS. SHELLY: I don't have a crystal ball on that. We just said the most immediate thing which we would like to see happen is to have Aristide meet with this group while they're still in town. That's what we would like to see happen next.
MS. SHELLY: There still is an opportunity for him to do that.
Q Is it your understanding that he has steadfastly refused to meet with this delegation since the meetings he had with them early last week?
MS. SHELLY: It's my understanding that -- on that particular point, I'll have to check. My understanding is that he has rejected their plan. He has not met with them since they fully developed their recommendations which emerged from the conference, and that's what we would like to see them do.
Q Christine, which U.S. official -- let me rephrase the question before I get any further. Has he also been refusing to talk to U.S. officials, or could you tell us of any contacts there have been with him in, let's say, the past three or four days, since the plan emerged over the weekend?
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MS. SHELLY: I just don't have any information on that. I don't know.
Q Could you take the question?
MS. SHELLY: I'll look into it.
Q Are we talking about telephone conversations with Ambassador Pezzullo or with other officials --
MS. SHELLY: When we get down to telephone contacts and things like that, we don't get into that kind of thing from here.
Q The question goes to whether he is also refusing to talk to U.S. officials --
MS. SHELLY: I think I understand the general thrust of your question, and I will look into it and see if we have anything we would like to say on that.
Q You're presenting this as a plan of the Haitian parliamentarians, but the United States did have an advisory and an encouraging role in the preparation and the advancing of this plan. That, everybody knows, so the United States is something of a party to the thing. I think it's rather important, to know whether we are in contact --
MS. SHELLY: Clearly, the United States is very interested in this. We've been engaged. We have a Special Representative who -- a Special Envoy -- on Haiti. Of course, we're interested in this. We're also part of the Four Friends mechanism which has worked in the U.N. context as well. And, yes, of course, we're interested and of course we've been working with them to try to come up with some kind of a solution that will break the political impasse.
Q My point was, that therefore -- I'm just trying to reinforce the idea that it is rather important to know whether or not we are having any contact with him.
MS. SHELLY: Another question?
Q Can you release the plan?
MS. SHELLY: I don't know whether it's ours to release. I'll look into it.
Q Did the parliamentarians raise any points on the impact of the sanctions and the potential impact of further sanctions, and what is the U.S. reaction?
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MS. SHELLY: I may not have a total readout on the meeting. But what I understand on the sanctions point is that it didn't come up; it wasn't discussed in the meeting.
Q Is there a link between the disposition of the United States to go ahead with U.N. Security Council sanctions while this plan is being considered?
MS. SHELLY: I think with respect to the possibility of the U.N. Security Council sanctions and the resolution, we continue to discuss the resolution and the form in which it might take with the Four Friends. We're continuing our discussion with key members of the Security Council as well. So those talks are continuing.
Q I thought there was a resolution? Didn't Mr. McCurry say a couple of days ago that there was now an agreed resolution?
MS. SHELLY: A resolution has not been agreed by the Security Council. The Four Friends have been working together to sort out the text of a resolution on this. I'm not sure it's an agreed text. I think there's a draft text that has been worked on by the Four Friends and is circulating, or being used, shall I say, as a basis for discussion with other members of the Security Council. But I don't have anything more precise on that.
Q Those consultations in New York are going ahead irrespective of what is happening here with respect to the proposal?
MS. SHELLY: That is my understanding.
Q There's no linkage of any kind at this point between this proposal here that's being considered and the call for sanctions in New York; is that correct?
MS. SHELLY: It's all part of dealing with the problem and the impasse. I'm not going to say that there is absolutely nothing because they all relate to the general political situation. I'm not going to draw any kind of specific linkage between the two. No, I'm not going to do that. Q Do you know whether the plan includes any provision for the dispatch of U.N. or OAS observers and U.N. military trainers to Haiti as included in the Governors Island Accord?
MS. SHELLY: I don't know. I don't have any information on that.
Q Would you take the question?
MS. SHELLY: I'll look into that.
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Q (Multiple questions)
MS. SHELLY: Anything else on Haiti?
Q Yes, one last question. Do you have any response to the specific concerns outlined by President Aristide? He appointed a Prime Minister last summer before the military stepped down, and the result was disaster. He now says this is an invitation to a second disaster. Can you respond to that?
MS. SHELLY: I can respond to that. I don't think I have anything magical to say on that. Obviously, there are risks to engagement in the process, but I don't think that's really up to us to make a pronouncement or to decide. I think that's really up to the Haitians themselves, and, if they are engaged in this process and they believe that appointment of a Prime Minister, and there is agreement on who that should be and that person himself or herself is willing, I think that's a question which is really strictly up to those involved to decide.
I don't think it's really anything in which we can provide any kind of magical pronouncement from here.
Q But realistically speaking, wouldn't the appointment of a Prime Minister put off a decision by the Four Friends or the United States on sanctions?
MS. SHELLY: I don't think it's really quite that cut and dried. That is certainly an element of the plan which has been under discussion; that this is an element in terms of breaking out of the current impasse. But I don't want to draw the specific linkage between that and what's happening on the sanctions front.
Q Drawing a linkage in the sense that perhaps you're not telling Aristide that there is any linkage, but practically speaking, politically speaking, if there is an appointment of a Prime Minister and therefore things seem to be on track towards something, wouldn't that put off the imposition of the tougher sanctions?
MS. SHELLY: Again, you're moving into the hypothetical domain insofar as the Prime Minister has not yet been appointed, and I just don't want to take it any further.
Q Wouldn't that also give the military government more breathing room?
MS. SHELLY: I don't have an answer for that.
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Q Wouldn't that be a possibility that Aristide has opposition to it and have you inquired of him to see if that is so?
MS. SHELLY: I will look into this to see if anyone here would like to say anything further on this this afternoon. I don't have anything further on this now.
Q Has the Administration been consulting with members of Congress, and specifically have you been consulting with Charles Rangel, and what are his views on this?
MS. SHELLY: As to the specific consultation, I'm not going to get into that. We do consult regularly with interested members of Congress on this subject.
Q Filing break. Just because we started late, not because there's anything superbly urgent. Does anyone object?
MS. SHELLY: Filing break.
Q Have you scheduled --
MS. SHELLY: We're not stopping the briefing.
Q Can you talk to us about the meeting last night in New York?
MS. SHELLY: Sure. U.S. and North Korean officials met yesterday in New York at the usual level. The U.S. requested the meeting. We welcomed yesterday's agreement in Vienna between the International Atomic Energy Agency, IAEA, and the North Koreans on the inspections necessary to maintain the continuity of safeguards at the North's declared nuclear sites.
We urged at that meeting that the North allow the inspections to begin promptly. We reiterated that satisfactory completion of the inspections at the earliest possible date and the North's entry into the dialogue with South Korea would open the way for a third round of the formal U.S.-North Korean talks. No further meetings in New York are planned at this time.
Q Did you get any response from the North Koreans to your specific request on moving quickly on the inspections and North-South dialogue?
MS. SHELLY: I don't have a lot on the nature of their response. This meeting followed its usual pattern. There usually isn't a response or a definitive response on the spot. So therefore I need to let that happen before I can characterize what their reaction to that was.
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Q Christine, did the United States convey to the North Koreans our intentin to pospone of cancel Team Spirit? If not, what is the status of those exercises?
MS. SHELLY: I'm not aware that Team Spirit specifically came up, but the status of Team Spirit is exactly as it has been, which is that the planning continues and no final decision has been made.
Q Even North Korea did not raise that question in yesterday's meeting?
MS. SHELLY: Again, they may have raised it. I don't have a complete readout on the meeting. I've been able to get what I've conveyed to you so far. It's certainly possible that they did. But, as I mentioned, the meeting took place at U.S. request, and those are the things which we conveyed, and I'm not really in a position to characterize what happened from the other side.
Q It's been widely reported that there's no funding for Team Spirit. Do you have anything to say about that?
MS. SHELLY: I've seen the report.
MS. SHELLY: I don't have anything. It's clearly a Pentagon question. It's not one for here.
Q From your analysis of the IAEA-North Korea agreement on the inspection procedures, do you get any sense that the IAEA has softened its requirements in North Korea?
MS. SHELLY: No, I don't. I think I know what you're referring to -- some reports of some statements about this -- and it's our understanding basically that the IAEA indicated what its conditions were and that there were a lot of exchanges on this and explanations on things, but I'm not aware that the IAEA had to "soften" its position in order for some kind of agreement to be reached.
Q What was the urgency to meet with the North Koreans just a few hours after the announcement by the agency in Vienna? Why so soon? Were there any special messages that you wanted to deliver to the North Koreans?
MS. SHELLY: I don't know. There may be a good answer to that. I'm not sure that I have one. I think there was a general feeling that with the time pressure that was on and particularly, obviously, the Board of Governors meeting which was coming up that it was important to try to
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move this ahead; also underscore the need to get the inspections started as soon as possible.
I think the board meeting is scheduled for the 22nd which I think is next Tuesday, and I understand that there were still some -- they had to work out some of the modalities related to the travel arrangements and things like that. So I think that we wanted to underscore the need particularly to get the inspections started as fast as possible. And obviously also then deal in a general sense with some of the other issues that are related.
Q Who initiated yesterday's meeting with North Korea, and where it took place?
MS. SHELLY: Where did it take place? I'm not aware, let me put it this way, of any deviation from the usual routine. As far as I know, it was in New York and it was at the U.N. I think it was done in the usual way and, as I did mention in the beginning, it was a meeting which took place at the U.S. request.
Q Who requested that meeting?
MS. SHELLY: The U.S. requested the meeting.
Q The request was made prior to the announcement that the North Koreans had agreed to the inspections.
MS. SHELLY: I need to check on that.
Q Do you have anything on the impending visit of the South Korean Foreign Minister?
MS. SHELLY: I don't really have much. I think he's coming back here in connection with a commission --
Q (Inaudible) a few days ago.
MS. SHELLY: Yes, that's it. Good. Help me out here. 21st Century what?
Q Economic Conference on the 21st Century.
MS. SHELLY: We had some guidance on this a couple of days ago. I just don't have it with me. But he is coming back in connection with that, and I think he'll also be having some talks with U.S. officials as well while he's here. But again probably when the meetings actually take place we'll have a little more for you and also after.
Q Christine, there's a report on the wires that Greece has closed the border between Greece and Macedonia, or the Former Republic of Macedonia. I'm sorry -- the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.
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MS. SHELLY: The FYROM.
Q This certainly seems to have ratcheted things up a bit. It also means that it makes it increasingly difficult for them to get fuel since the shortest way for them to get supplies and fuel is through that border.
MS. SHELLY: So what's the question?
Q How do we feel about this? Have we talked to the Greeks about this?
MS. SHELLY: We have also heard the reports to this effect, and we're looking into it, and I don't really have anything concrete for you on this. Certainly, I think I can say generally speaking that constructive relations between Greece and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia are certainly essential to regional stability, and we would certainly hope that every effort could be made to try to avoid any particular actions which might aggravate the situation or lead to some kind of an increase in tension.
So we may have something more on that, but that's really all I have at the moment.
Q Do you have an answer for the question asked yesterday about anti-American demonstrations in Salonika?
MS. SHELLY: Yes. I think we've put up an answer to this question. We posted an answer to this yesterday.
Q Okay, I'm sorry.
MS. SHELLY: Basically what it said was that there was a demonstration and a march opposing recognition of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia in front of the U.S. Consulate General yesterday, and there were something like 50,000 people who participated. There are a few more details in that statement, but if I can refer you to the Press Office on that.
Q Have we talked to the Macedonians about this?
MS. SHELLY: About the demonstration?
Q No, about the --
MS. SHELLY: About the border.
Q -- border.
MS. SHELLY: I don't know. I'll have to check on that. I'll see if I can post something on that this afternoon.
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Q Has the Macedonian Government requested the right of entry into the Partnership for Peace this morning? Do you have any remark on that?
MS. SHELLY: No, I don't. I'll have to look into that and see if -- but again it's certainly a legitimate question. I'll look into it and see if we can post something.
Q Speaking of demonstrations, do you know anything about planned nationalist demonstrations in Moscow and perhaps fears that these will be anti-American in nature, and has the U.S. Embassy in Moscow advised staffers to take any special precautions in the coming days?
MS. SHELLY: I haven't seen anything. I'll look into that and see what we have, what we know, and what we might want to say.
Q Do you have anything on the arrests of foreign missionaries by the Chinese?
MS. SHELLY: Yes, I've got a bit on that. What we understand is that there were seven foreigners who were arrested on February 11 by Chinese authorities on charges of violating regulations on religious activities. I understand that there were three American clergymen who were part of that group.
The first one's name was Daughin Chan. You can get spellings from the Press Office later. Dennis Balcombe and a third American was within the group. I can't confirm the name of the third one who has not waived his right under the Privacy Act. As you know, we are restrained in naming names on that kind of thing unless we have a waiver under the Privacy Act.
The three Americans were released on February 15. I understand that one was actually expelled from China and that the other two actually left the same day. We learned of the arrests on February 14 from a relative of one of the detainees.
I understand that the Embassy immediately contacted Chinese officials who then confirmed their arrest to us. Our concern is that Chinese officials did not promptly notify the Embassy about the detention of the U.S. citizens, and that we had to learn about it from outside sources. We have brought this issue to the attention of Chinese authorities.
Q How about the arrests themselves? Was that a good thing or a bad thing?
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Q (Inaudible) headed toward better human rights in China?
MS. SHELLY: I think to get into the broader question, as we pointed out in our most recent human rights report on China, religious freedom is subject to restrictions of varying severity. Local Chinese Government attitudes toward religion, however, do vary from province to province, and we also noted in our report that authorities in many areas do tolerate the existence of unofficial Catholic and Protestant churches as long as they remain small and discreet.
On the other hand, in some localities, officials harass independent religious activity by this kind of thing: detaining of laymen, priests, ministers. Usually this is for short periods of time. We're certainly following the continued reports of detentions of religious practitioners very closely, and this is something which will certainly be taken into account. It will certainly be one of the considerations that we look at when a decision on MFN is looked at later this year.
Q But you view this very much in a local context, not in an overall Chinese Government context?
MS. SHELLY: I've tried to shed some light on what we understand to be the case vis-a-vis the particular category of people involved in the arrests. I'm not in any way trying to minimize the event or our concern over it. Maybe I went too far in detail in simply trying to put it in the context as it relates to specifically what has been happening and obviously continues to happen on religious leaders.
Certainly, it is a point of concern to us. It's something that we do identify in the human rights report, and human rights generally speaking is a very, very important factor in our dialogue with China, and it continues to come up at I think virtually every meeting that we have with Chinese officials. So I don't want to underplay it or to minimize it and, if I suggested that by directing it to the religious leader context, I didn't mean to do that.
Q But really the question is whether this incident takes China back a yard or two or more to MFN renewal.
MS. SHELLY: I certainly wouldn't characterize it as a step forward.
Q Let me ask a question on Russia. Do you have any fresh information about any concerns about President Yeltsin's health or --
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MS. SHELLY: I don't have anything on that.
Q Could you tell me when Ambassador Collins was there recently to talk to President Yeltsin about Bosnia, did he get in to see him?
MS. SHELLY: I'll have to check on that.
Q Could you, please?
MS. SHELLY: Yes, I will.
Q On Bosnia, Christine, do we have any further --
MS. SHELLY: Gee, I wasn't going to Bosnia today. No such luck, huh?
Q -- any further definition, or what is today's definition of "control of Bosnian-Serbian artillery in the exclusionary zone"?
MS. SHELLY: I know that you would like me to stand up here and give you the absolute, final word and definitive pronouncement on that.
Q Except today's.
MS. SHELLY: Oh, you only want today's.
Q I'm satisfied with this afternoon's definition.
MS. SHELLY: There's an awful lot out there on this, and I'm not sure that I can really shed any -- add anything to this by going into great detail. I think that the NATO decision is very clear on this, and I think I would simply revert back to that.
It's very complicated. NATO military authorities are consulting very, very, very closely and carefully with UNPROFOR on all of the mechanics involved in implementing the decision, and this includes the mechanisms for ensuring that UNPROFOR control over the heavy weapons remaining in the exclusion zone will be absolutely sufficient to ensure that they are not used.
As the discussions are underway on this and a lot of different people have given their interpretation on this, I don't have something new or a new definition to offer you on this. But I think the key point here is that they need to be withdrawn, they need to be under U.N. control, and by that we mean that it needs to ensure absolutely that they're not put back into some kind of a situation or configuration in which they can be used to fire on Sarajevo again.
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Q Let me phrase the question this way, however. Evidently, General Rose has requested as many as 3,000 more troops to come to the Sarajevo area in order to deal with this paricular problem. Are we confident that there are sufficient number of forces there to be able to ensure that definition which you've just given us? I mean, are there enough troops there for them to put those guns under an adequate or satisfactory U.N. control?
MS. SHELLY: I certainly do understand. I've also heard the same thing that the U.N. has sought the request for the additional troops -- I think 2,000, 3,000 something like that -- so that's also my understanding is they've requested this. And I understand they've approached a variety of countries on this, but I'm really not in a position right now to shed any more further light on that.
The fact that they requested this, it's clear that they feel they need some more troops there. But as to whether or not they can find some way to effectively do this with what they have, I'm just not in a position to make that call.
Q Has the United States been approached, or has the United States volunteered its help in putting peacekeepers there to back up UNPROFOR's ability to control these weapons?
MS. SHELLY: My understanding is that the U.S. was among the group of countries which was approached by the U.N.
Q And its answer?
MS. SHELLY: I think the U.S. position on troops remains unchanged.
Q That means the U.S. refused.
MS. SHELLY: It's not a question of refuse. The U.S. and the President himself has laid down very clearly what the conditions for U.S. troop presence are, and I think that those -- my understanding is that is our position, and those are the circumstances under which we would put troops there.
Q But this is different. The President's decision, as I understand it, is that it would introduce troops as peacekeepers there only in the event that there's peace. But now this is a request for the United States and others to send forces there to help monitor or control these weapons that the United States, among others -- under a plan that the United States got NATO to adopt.
MS. SHELLY: I understand the context of the request, but what I'm saying back to you is that I don't have any
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information to suggest that our position on the U.S. troop presence has changed.
Q So we've declined.
MS. SHELLY: I can't say that.
Q We've not fulfilled the request.
MS. SHELLY: All I know is that the U.S. was among the group of countries approached, and the U.S. position on this, to my knoweldge, is unchanged.
Q Why are you unwilling to say that the U.S. has declined this request because it will put peacekeeping troops in --
MS. SHELLY: Because the actual state of play of the diplomacy in response to this request, I don't have that information. I don't know if we have gone back in some way to say what the answer is. I know it and you know well, we've restated this many times, what the position on the U.S. troop presence is. I'm not aware that there's been any change in the position, nor am I aware of any details relating to in what manner we may have gone back to the U.N. or not. So that's what I know. I've told you.
Q Can you find out whether we've given the U.N. an answer on this?
MS. SHELLY: I'll look into it, but I'm not going to promise a response.
Q Who approached the United States? You say the U.N. approached. Was it the Secretary General? Was it somebody else? Was it someone with the Secretary General's knowledge? And a follow-up: This week, how does the U.S. Government characterize the performance of the U.N. Secretary General?
MS. SHELLY: I'm not going to get into the latter question, and I don't have the answer to the first. I'll look into it, and, if there's something we can say this afteroon, I will.
Q Can you say, Christine, that the U.S. is considering the request?
MS. SHELLY: No, I'm not going to say that either. I'm not going to say that we're not; I'm not going to say that we are. I've said the two things I had to say, which is yes we were approached, and our position as to the troop presence, to my knowledge, is unchanged.
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Q Another subject --
Q Just one more. There's been a report that I think it was General Rose had requested a redeployment of some Russian forces that were in Croatia to come down to Sarajevo, and that this reuqest was specifically rejected by the Russians. I'm just wondering if you have any particular read on the meaning of that? Does this indicate an increased Russian antipathy for what we're doing in Sarajevo?
MS. SHELLY: Barrie, I'd love to help you on that, but I just don't have any information on it, and I think on that one I'd really specifically have to refer you to either the U.N. or UNPROFOR or the Russians.
Q Another subject: Can you confirm that Secretary Christopher sent messages to the Syrians, to the Lebanese and the Israelis to ask them to cool down the things in south Lebanon?
MS. SHELLY: Specifically in what context?
Q There was a report this morning in the Lebanese press saying that -- and the Foreign Minister of Lebanon said that the Lebanese Government has received a message from Secretary Christopher to try to ease up the violence and the tension in south Lebanon, and I was wondering whether you can confirm that report and also say whether that message went also to other capitals involved in the fighting in south Lebanon?
MS. SHELLY: I think we have made fairly continuous efforts to try to defuse the tensions in that area. I've seen the press reports on this also. I think this relates in fact to a message which was passed by our Ambassador in fact some days ago on this. I think in fact even a few days ago we had some guidance on this, so I don't have much more to add than that, but you might check with the Press Office and see, because I think a few days ago we had something on that one. Actually in fact it first got into the public domain.
Q Thank you.
(The briefing concluded at 2:23 p.m.)
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