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                       DEPARTMENT OF STATE
                       DAILY PRESS BRIEFING

                            I N D E X 

                    Friday, February 18, 1994

                                      Briefer:  Michael McCurry

SUBECT                                           PAGE

    US-Russian Joint Commission on US POWs/MIAs in
      Vietnam .......................................  1-2

    Russian Proposal for International Conference ...  2-3
    US Contacts with Russia/Others ..................  2,5-6
    Ambassador Redman's Meetings in Athens/Meetings
      with Parties ..................................  3,8
    Ban on Heavy Weapons around Sarajevo ............  3-5
    Deployment of Russian Troops/Contacts with US ...  5-6
    Vitaly Churkin's  Statement re:  Airstrikes .....  7-8
    UN Report re: Croatian Military Activities ......  7

    Reported Restriction of Trade with FYR of
      Macedonia/US Concern ..........................  8-10

    Aristide's Meeting with Parliament Delegation ...  10
    Parliament Delegation's Plan ....................  10-11,13
    Discussions at UN re:  Expanding Sanctions ......  12-13
    US Commercial Trade/Humanitarian Assistance .....  13-14

    Deputy Foreign Minister's Meeting with Secretary   14-15

    Secretary's Contacts with Counterparts ..........  15
    Ambassador Pelletreau To Be Sworn in Today as
      Assistant Secretary of Near Eastern Affairs ...  15-16
    Secretary's Advisors ............................  15

    Reported Request to US for Military Aid .........  16

    Proposal of de Clerk/Mandela/Inkatha Reaction ...  16-17


DPC # 30


MR. McCURRY: Good afternoon, everybody. No prepared statements, so your questions are very much in order.

Q Do you have anything to say about the story -- which questions whether the Administration has been jealously pursuing all information available about MIAs and POWs from Vietnam?

MR. McCURRY: I saw that, and I think in the context of that story itself, you saw the remarks that Assistant Secretary Winston Lord had made, and I also believe Ambassador Pickering confirmed. And it is not an accurate characterization of the policy that we've been pursuing.

They've reiterated our policy itself through the U.S.-Russian Joint Commission on POW and MIAs, and in our bilateral contact we have consistently underscored to the Russians that a free flow of information is essential to the success of the work of the Joint Commission. This is the commission that really has been doing the heavy lifting in getting the fullest possible accounting of POW/MIA issues in the context of exploring what information the Russians have available.

At every opportunity, we have urged them to provide any documents and information they might have on U.S. prisoners of war from the Vietnam war.

Back in October -- October 20 and 21 -- Assistant Secretary Lord was in Moscow. He had consultations at that time with officials in the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and he expressed his appreciation at that time for the cooperation that we had been getting from the Russians. He urged them to continue to cooperate, and in particular he requested the Russians to provide any additional information they might have on U.S. POW/MIAs from the Vietnam war.

So I think there's also, I think, a letter to the Russian co-chair of the Joint Commission -- this is Volkogonov -- at a December 1993 Joint Commission meeting in Moscow. That was then Ambassador Malcolm Toon at that meeting reiterated the importance of getting a free flow of information unimpeded from Russia and expressed appreciation

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for receiving the document that, as you know, was under review that had some information that we were exploring.

In sum, we have explored every piece of information avilable, used every opportunity to gain the fullest possible accounting of POW/MIAs, and that especially includes the contacts that we've had with the Russians who have had some critical information that they've made available to us that we've been able to analyze.

Q Can we move on to another Russian issue, and that's their call for an international conference on Bosnia. What's your view on that?

MR. McCURRY: The Secretary had a very good conversation yesterday with Foreign Minister Kozyrev. Foreign Minister Kozyrev and the Geman Foreign Minister, Klaus Kinkel, actually got on the phone together with the Secretary. They were both in Athens for the EU Presidency troika meeting.

In that conversation they explored the idea of getting together and remaining in closer contact on what steps can now be taken in Bosnia. They agreed that there should be follow-up conversations next week. In fact, I believe that Secretary Christopher plans to talk to Foreign Minister Kozyrev againa over the weekend.

I very much suspect that there will be some dialogue at a level that is yet to be determined next week between our major partners in Europe and obviously including the Russians as well to talk about how we can now take advantage of any opportunity that develops to, as we have said all along, invigorate the search for peace in Bosnia.

Q But you don't really advocate the EU gathering in Athens of some ministers besides the London Conference?

MR. McCURRY: I'm not sure that that is Foreign Minister Kozyrev's proposal. I've seen several wire accounts that indicate that he would like to see a gathering of the European countries -- the United States and Russia -- next week, and there are various suggestions on how it might occur or at what level that might occur.

I think I'll reflect Secretary Christopher's view that, as you move up the level of meeting, it should be properly previewed and there should be good agreement in advance on what should occur. So I think that there will be conversations next week aimed at that purpose, which is how can we continue the very active work that we've been doing to consult with our close allies, with the Russians and with others, on the crisis in Bosnia and how to proceed.


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Q You said -- I don't know if you meant it literally -- that Christopher said that they should be getting together. You don't mean personally. You mean eventually at some point but at an earlier stage there should be working-level talks to prepare the way for the Foreign Ministers?

MR. McCURRY: I think that's an accurate reflection. I think a lot of work goes into any type of meeting at a ministerial level, and I think that we certainly have got a lot of work to do ahead on the question of Bosnia.

Q By the way, confusion out of the Athens reports about who exactly would be included. Do you know who would be -- which countries?

MR. McCURRY: I do not know. I've seen suggestions in a couple of wire accounts that I've seen so far that it would include those who have been participating in UNPROFOR actively, and that would include, obviously, Russia and the United States. We've got a role that we've been playing very actively in the "no-fly" zone enforcement and other aspects involving NATO air power. But I've seen different groupings of who it would include.

Q Mike, I think any such meeting would be improved if there was actual plan to discuss. Can you just update us on where Redman is in formulating?

MR. McCURRY: That's what I suggest, and there's a lot of work that needs to go into this. By the way, I think Ambassador Redman, who was also in Athens to brief the EU troika yesterday -- I think that happened yesterday - did have a good opportunity to meet with one of Foreign Minister Kozyrev's top lieutenants there and discuss further the efforts that he has been making and make sure that we are in very close coordination with the Russians as we begin to explore what avenues are available for a peace settlement.

Ambassador Redman, in addition to the session that he had with Foreign Minister Kozyrev's aide, he also briefed the EU Presidency troika. He then went on to Frankfurt. He expects to have some meetings, I believe, this weekend with at least the Bosnian parties and the Croatian parties, and then he will continue probably next week discussions with others about the efforts they are currently making in tandem with the EU to reach a political settlement.

Q But is he briefing them? I mean, has he established the so-called "Bosnian bottom line," or is he still in the process of consulting with them to discover what that is?

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MR. McCURRY: He's actively exploring ideas, he's got a good handle on the ideas that the parties themselves have, and I think he's working to bring them together.

Q Mike, now that these artillery units are leaving the Sarajevo environs, is the United States monitoring where they're going and -- well, let me just leave --

MR. McCURRY: We obviously have different ways of gaining information. Weather has been a factor today in our ability to gather information. We rely very closely on the reports we get from UNPROFOR. We will be watching very closely this weekend what the Serbs are doing to comply, because they know exactly what they have to do. They know what will happen if they don't comply. There's been no change in the NATO ultimatum at all, and the important thing at this point is to see actions from the Serbs because, as you know, in the past we've seen plenty of words.

Q What would be the attitude of the United States where they could take their heavy artillery to some other concentration of civilians and bomb them instead?

MR. McCURRY: There's no change in the NATO ultimatum as it was developed by the Alliance itself.

Q So that would be okay.

MR. McCURRY: Killing innocent civilians with artillery is not okay under any circumstances anywhere, any time. But you're asking me a specific question, and the specific answer is that there's no change in the terms that NATO has spelled out for the withdrawal of the artillery from the area around Sarajevo or the placement under UNPROFOR control.

Q So they could take them to Goradze, to throw out one random example, and start shelling people and killing them there. That would not be a violation of the NATO ultimatum.

MR. McCURRY: The NATO ultimatum clearly does not address the redeployment of that artillery to other places within Bosnia. That is precisely the reason why we have said the effort to curb the shelling in Sarajevo has to be married to an intense effort now to bring this war to a conclusion, because there does arise the possibility that fighting can continue elsewhere, as fighting has continued in recent days in Bihac and Vitez and other places within Bosnia.

Q Mike, some of the other places the Serbs might like to bomb were already covered as safe areas in previous U.N. resolutions. General Rose has talked about if things

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work out in Sarajevo, expanding the approach to Mostar and other areas, and do we have a position on whether we're interested in doing that or considering that?

MR. McCURRY: We are very much aware of General Rose's comments. He is certainly to be commended for the work that he's been doing. He's really used UNPROFOR effectively in recent days, and he's got some ideas on how they might use them in the future.

But I make very, very clear, the mission defined by NATO in its ultimatum was tasked to NATO military commanders and to UNPROFOR military commanders, and that's the mission we're deling with. We're not expanding that mission beyond the one defined and outlined by the North Atlantic Council.

Q (Inaudible) that mission?

MR. McCURRY: I think that we certainly are aware that General Rose is now going to explore additional ways that they can continue to bring fighting to an end; continue to try to keep humanitarian relief moving throughout Bosnia, and certainly we'll be following that very, very closely in the context of working on an overall political settlement that will bring the fighting to an end.

Q Do you think that the Russians sending 400 peacekeepers was helpful? Do you think that their participation, first, was helpful; and, second, at what point did they inform the United States of their initiative?

MR. McCURRY: I think that the Russian deployment, as I understand it, was in response to a request from the UNPROFOR Commander, General Rose. I think that the General has defined pretty well publicly what the need is for additional UNPROFOR troops in Sarajevo, and I think the United States certainly welcomes and applauds the response of the Russians to the call by UNPROFOR.

It's up to General Rose, of course, to determine how those troops will be deployed and those troops will be under his command.

Q And at what point in this process was the United States informed of the Russian intentions?

MR. McCURRY: I think the White House has confirmed that President Yeltsin and President Clinton had a telephone conversation at one point. I think the general approach that the Russians have been taking has been something that we have been well briefed on, just as we have attempted to do everything possible to brief the Russians on the efforts that we had underway through the presence of Ambassador Collins in Moscow, through conversations that Ambassador Pickering has had with officials in Moscow, and I believe

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that there was at least some sense that the Russians were hopeful that they might be getting some response to efforts that they were leading within the last day or so.

Yesterday, as I say, I understand from others in the U.S. Government that there were some calls placed by senior Russian officials to their counterparts here in the United States, and then I have told you that Secretary Christopher had a good conversation with Foreign Minister Kozyrev, I guess, yesterday afternoon about 2:00, which they walked -- at that point, of course, the news had broken from Deputy Foreign Minister Churkin about the success that he believed they had achieved with the Serbian party, and I think that was an opportunity for Foreign Minister Kozyrev to walk through that a little more in detail and to suggest some next steps, as I've already defined.

So I think during the day yesterday there was good consultation and contact between the Russian Government and the U.S. Government to keep both sides apprised of developments, and that certainly is a working relationship that we feel needs to continue as we continue to address the political effort in Bosnia.

Q Mike, you said a moment ago that you rely on what UNPROFOR says in terms of the artillery withdrawn from the --

MR. McCURRY: Not entirely. In part we rely.

Q Are you trying, however, to assess independently the accuracy of the reports by UNPROFOR?

MR. McCURRY: As I say, we have other means of gathering information, and we do so.

Q Do you have reason to believe that those reports are not entirely correct?

MR. McCURRY: We have no reason to believe that anything that we've seen from UNPROFOR reported directly to us is inaccurate, and in general I would say that it doesn't seem to be too dissimilar from what you seem to be hearing yourselves from UNPROFOR officials on the ground in Sarajevo.

Q There are reports out of Sarajevo playing down a little bit, but Bill Exon, the spokesperon for UNPROFOR, said a couple of days ago, especially on the scope of the withdrawal by the Serbs -- he talked about the convoys and apparently there were only 15 -- one, five -- trucks driving away from the "no-artillery" zone. And also, there was no way to say, you know, definitely what was in those trucks because they were covered, and the UNPROFOR observers were not allowed to look into those trucks.

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MR. McCURRY: That all could be entirely accurate. That's why we have reiterated and again state that the Serbs know what they have to do to comply. They know what will happen if by Sunday night they have not complied, and that's why we will be watching very closely what actually happens in real on the ground.

Q Can we quantify, I mean even roughtly, how many --

MR. McCURRY: No. I'm not going to attempt to quantify. I mean, we are not on the ground in Sarajevo, as you know. So we rely on those who are on the ground and on our other means of understanding what's going on there, and there are aspects of that, as you know full well, I can't discuss here.

Q Back in Moscow, Churkin is talking about there can be negotiations or there can be airstrikes, but airstrikes would mean all-out war, and he's warning against that -- warning NATO against that. Any reaction?

MR. McCURRY: I can only comment on the very positive and useful conversations we've had directly with senior Russian officials, and I would say the tone of those have been workmanlike in addressing the real issues that are at hand. I don't think the prospect of world war is one that they've been dealing with.

Q The third leg of the triangle here is the Croatians. The Secretary General last night submitted his report to the Security Council in which he basically said that he couldn't verify that any -- or many regular Croatian troops were being withdrawn from Bosnia.

When the Security Council commissioned that report, they threatened sanctions and other, I guess, options. What's the U.S. intending to do now that these reports --

MR. McCURRY: The United States has been reviewing that report with other members of the Security Council and with the Secretary General, and we expect that next week we will address both the report and the further actions that are necessary.

Q Mike, going back to the previous question about Mr. Churkin and the statement on all-out war, I understand what you just said, but is there any room in between all-out -- have there been any discussions between Secretary Christopher or any other U.S. officials and the Russians that would lead us to think that there would be a problem if airstrikes occur?

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MR. McCURRY: I think it's accurate to say, as the Russians have said publicly, that they are not sympathetic to the idea of airstrikes.

Q Michael, on a different subject --

MR. McCURRY: Different subject.

Q One more on Bosnia, just to clarify on Redman, Mike. You said he's got weekend meetings in Frankfurt with Bosnian and Croatian parties. Is this more Bosnian Government types and is it Croatian Government or Bosnian-Croat and --

MR. McCURRY: If I'm not mistaken, he's planning to meet with Prime Minister Siladjic of the Bosnian Government and Foreign Minister Granic of the Croatian Government. I would hesitate to say that's all he will do, because he's been very active; and, frankly, I talked to him earlier today, he sounded like his schedule might be flexible. So he's been very active in doing a lot of this with last-minute scheduling. So that's a general plan that he has.

By the way, he then does plan to return. His current plan is to come back to Washington to be here the next couple of days and to caucus here with senior U.S. officials before he goes out again to the region.

Q It sounds like he's getting ready or they're getting to table this proposal. Is his return to Washington for the last-minute minute consultation here before they launch the diplomatic offensive to bring the parties together?

MR. McCURRY: He described it to me as being (inaudible) a very active diplomat over the course of the last several days. I think it is partly a desire just to get home for a short period before he goes back in to what will likely be another intense period of discussions. But I think he also wanted to take the opportunity to be back here to review things with the Secretary and with others in the U.S. Government.

Q And is it fair to say that we probably, say by the end of next week, will be looking at some sort of proposal or --

MR. McCURRY: I would hesitate to be so speculative. I think we'll just have to see how things develop. It's clear that they are working ideas, they're trying to put ideas together, and he's doing that work the best he can.

Q Mike, the Greek Government, the Foreign Minister's put out a statement saying that they're going to

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keep that embargo on the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia until the Former Republic changes its current name. Do you have any reaction?

MR. McCURRY: I think, as you know, yesterday we expressed very deep concern about the restriction at those two custom points of trade between the two countries. We don't think it's in the interests of either country to try to resolve their differences through trade restrictions or embargoes. We think that negotiations between the two of them which have occurred and have occurred with some success in the past under auspices of the Owen-Stoltenberg process is the way that they will be able to resolve their differences over names, over other symbols of nationality and statehood.

So I think our view is that there's a preferred path, and that's negotiation, and that's the one that we're urging on both governments.

Q But aren't you first urging the Greeks to return the situation to where it was, say, this time last week, because they have actually precipitated this crisis by doing something. When you say "urge both sides," it seems like you're equating both sides, whereas --

MR. McCURRY: No, no I think that we have -- as you know, we have very strongly expressed our deep concern to the Greek Government specifically for the action they've taken, but I think we have stressed to both parties that they need to negotiate these issues.

Q Does the United States have a special role in this? After all, it was the U.S. recognition of the Former Republic of Macedonia that sparked this. I mean, it didn't happen when the Europeans recognized it, and it didn't happen when the Macedonians declared independence. It happened after the United States recognized it. So do you feel a special responsibility?

MR. McCURRY: I think that we have accepted that responsibility and the work that we've done diplomatically even prior to our recognition of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, to urge that they attempt to resolve these issues in dialogue between the two governments; and that is a role that we played before and a role that we will continue to play, because we think that's the best way to resolve these outstanding issues.

It serves no purpose for either country to engage in that type of activity, specifically the activity taken by the Greek Government.

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Q But does Ambassdor Niles' statement that we're not going to pressure anybody accurately reflect our approach?

MR. McCURRY: I think it accurately reflects our approach that those issues that are in contention between the two governments need to be resolved in the course of a dialogue.

Q But in the meantime, one of the parties is suffering active damage as a result of an action which was taken by the United States.

MR. McCURRY: I have not heard the Government of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia say that they were damaged by our decision to recognize that government.

Q They were damaged by the Greek reaction to that decision.

MR. McCURRY: That's an issue that then they have with the Greek Government that needs resolution, isn't it?

Anything else? Tim.

Q Aristide and parliamentarians have been meeting endlessly. Has the U.S. Government been informed of any potential progress out of those talks?

MR. McCURRY: To the contrary. I think that the results of the meeting that the Haitian parliamentarians had with President Aristide have been described to me as being rather inconclusive.

Q I would use a different adjective. The statement by Aristide's people says that his view about the sequence that should be followed "remains unchanged." It's more than inconclusive. It's intransigent, apparently, on that issue. Is that your reading as well?

MR. McCURRY: That's close to our reading, yes.

Q What does this government then plan to do next?

MR. McCURRY: I think you know we had endorsed and supported the concept brought forth by the Haitian parliamentarians because it built exactly on the model and the suggestions that grew out of the conference that President Aristide himself sponsored in Miami. So the lack of enthusiasm by President Aristide for this plan, which grows out of a conference that he initiated, is to us surprising.

Q Do you detect a loss of patience on the part of the U.S. Government?

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MR. McCURRY: No, just a surprise over a lack of enthusiasm.

Q Are you encouraged at least by their agreement to carry on talking?

MR. McCURRY: We are encouraged that -- I believe the statement issued on behalf of President Aristide indicated they would keep open lines of communication and certainly that's -- I don't know if it's encouraging, but at least it's one avenue by which a dialogue can continue, because surely it must. There has to be a resolution to the political crisis in Haiti, because sanctions which have been the tool that the international community has attempted to use in this case -- sanctions themselves will not bring an end to this crisis if there's not some avenue available for a political settlement. And that's what we've been attempting to open up -- an avenue by which there can be a dialogue on how to resolve the political crisis, and there doesn't seem to be much progress on that.

Q Does that mean it's pointless to add additional sanctions until that avenue opens up?

MR. McCURRY: I didn't say that. We will address that question and look at the resolution that's been circulating in New York in due course.

Q Can you now release the plan, since the Center for Democracy even says they don't even know about a plan?

MR. McCURRY: I can't release it. I have not seen it to this day. I understand the Haitian parliamentarians are the ones who actually have had it and tried to share it, so it's not in my custody.

Q Can you for example detail any specific provisions and sequencing in the plans so that we can understand the positions of the two sides a little better? For example, is there any --

MR. McCURRY: No, I can't.

Q You can't.

MR. McCURRY: I'll have to leave that to the parties to address. I'm sorry.

Q Mike, in response to a taken question yesterday, for which I'm grateful, you indicated that Aristide had in fact been unreachable for one reason or another up to that point. Is that still the case?

MR. McCURRY: I don't know whether it's still the case or not.

Q Is this a shortcoming in modern telecommunciations when you're in Washington and he's in Washington?

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MR. McCURRY: I think that maybe was a technical difficulty or -- (laughter). Maybe we have to examine the phone lines. We'll call Ma Bell and find out what the problem is.

Q We're very heartened by the success of the First Lady in getting a hold of Dan Jansen from a plane over North Dakota, so maybe we ought to be looking at the super highway down here in DC.

Q Do I detect a lack of urgency about this process up at the U.N. which really seems to be dragging on interminably?

MR. McCURRY: There's no lack of urgency in our sense that we must address this crisis and must do something to try to break the impasse. We feel very strongly about that, and that's what we've been doing. If expanding the sanctions is a way to break that impasse, then certainly we will address that with some urgency. But that's something that we have been, as you know, consulting with our other partners about.

Q But if you already crossed that bridge -- you had said way back when, that sanctions are needed to bring pressure to bear on the Haitian military. But now you're saying "if we feel that" --

MR. McCURRY: No. Sanctions are necessary to bring pressure to bear on the Haitian military authorities, and that remains true; and how to increase that pressure remains something that we are very anxious to determine in consultation with our other allies at the United Nations in New York, in consultation with the other Four Friends.

But as I suggested earlier, in order to make that pressure effective on the military authorities, there has to be some viable idea of how the political dialogue is going to continue and work and unfold and lead to a solution. That's what we apparently have not been able to get any type of consensus on it at this point.

Q But despite the comments that George alluded to, it's true, is it not, that there is no positive determination within the Clinton Administration to move forward with the additional sanctions? It's not that they've decided to and that consultations are holding us up; it's that that decision seems to be in abeyance pending analysis of this ongoing dialogue between Aristide and others?

MR. McCURRY: I think that takes it a little farther than where it is at the moment.

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Q Do you have anything to say about the story that there was a boom in trade between the United States and Haiti in 1993 despite --

MR. McCURRY: Someone was kind enough to work up for me some -- this is apparently a statistician's game because it depends on where you start -- you look at the statistics. I'll run through it for you, if you don't mind.

The overall trade with Haiti since the September 1991 coup has, in fact, declined. This is data that comes, by the way, courtesy of the U.S. Department of Commerce, and we thank them for that.

U.S. exports to Haiti declined 45 percent, and U.S. imports from Haiti declined 63 percent, from 1991 to 1992. What happened then, there was a brief -- you will recall -- a brief suspension of the OAS trade embargo and the U.N. sanctions in the period August to October 1993. It's suggested here that that may account for a slight improvement in the figures just for 1993.

So if you look at the range of pictures, there might have been an anomaly in the '93 statistics because of that brief period in which the Governor's Island process had been initiated and signed, and there was a lifting of the embargo and a fairly healthy dose of commerce in that period.

It also does not -- the data, apparently, does not differentiate between humanitarian assistance and commercial trade. So the rise in exports to Haiti in 1993 also reflects the very significant increase in humanitarian assistance through the efforts that we are making to feed, I think, over half a million people a day, or something like that, in Haiti. That's considerable expense, and those figures do reflect that type of assistance.

Q Still on Haiti. The Boston Globe, the Miami Herald, have both come out, as well as some lawmakers, and said that -- have described this plan as naive simply because it repeats more or less a similar sequence from Governor's Island.

I know you don't have a copy of the plan in front of you. But can you tell us why you believe that this plan would succeed when Governor's Island didn't?

MR. McCURRY: It's a plan that is out there that has got the democratically elected people, at least, engaged. I'm not aware that there is another plan out that's better. I'm not aware that there's even any discussion out there that's more viable than the one that has been presented coming out of the Miami conference and coming through the work of these parliamentarians.

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Maybe it's naive to assume that this crisis can be solved. Maybe that's the point the editorial writers are making. I hope that's not the point they're trying to emphasize. Because we are determined to try to put our best good faith effort into resolving the crisis, returning democracy to Haiti, and eventually returning the President.

Q Could I just follow? On January 15, in Paris, the Four Friends issued what was widely construed as an ultimatum, that they would go ahead with comprehensive sanctions by February 15, which has now passed.

I don't recall any statement within that statement issued by the Four Friends or any reservation by the United States to that statement, which said that they required a political plan to go forward before sanctions can be applied. Was there any such reservation, or is there anything in that statement indicating that?

MR. McCURRY: At the time they issued that statement, they had some sense because of the efforts that then Prime Minister Malval had undertaken, some sense there would be conferences, there would be a political dialogue that might result in some type of agreement on how to proceed. There was at least the prospect at that point that there could be some type of initiative, some type of conference. At that time, you recall, that we almost daily were calling upon the parties engaged to attempt to have some type of meeting, conference, or gathering that would address the outstanding issues.

I think that that then, over time, seemed to evaporate.

Q Can we switch to another issue?


Q The Middle East, please.

MR. McCURRY: The Middle East.

Q A few questions. Can you add anything further concerning the Secretary's meeting with Yossi Beilin yesterday?

MR. McCURRY: It was short, it was productive, and it was warm and friendly, as it always is. And as to substance, I think the Deputy Foreign Minister himself may have given you some sense -- I would describe it as being a courtesy call. The Secretary had a very specific reason that he wanted to see him, and it was unrelated to anything having to do with the peace process.

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Q Oh, really. Would you be able to tell us what that is?

MR. McCURRY: I don't think so. The call was personal. It much in line of being a personal exchange.

Q There was some mention made of the possibility of letters being sent to heads of government in the region, and you said you weren't sure. Can you tell us whether any letters were sent?

MR. McCURRY: I don't believe any formal letters were sent by the Secretary to his counterparts in the region. I think there were some diplomatic exchanges that involved the preparation of several points. But I'm not aware that there was any formal letter sent. I did not go back and check that yesterday. That was my understanding, and I will -- not having done that -- go back and check or ask some of my loyal checkers to check.

Q If I can, one or two more. You had mentioned that the Secretary was directly involved in the discussions that were going on. Who has been -- in the United States Government, who has been advising the Secretary before he, I guess, makes these phone calls, or whatever he does? And if you can tell us something, what exactly is Bob Pelletreau doing now and Ed Djerejian?

MR. McCURRY: Ambassador Djerejian is in Tel Aviv now as the U.S. Ambassador. Ambassador Pelletreau will be sworn in, in a scant two and a half hours today, as our Assistant Secretary for Near Eastern Affairs, and beginning to engage very fully in the work of the peace team. But, remember, he has a portfolio that expands well beyond the peace process itself.

As you know, we've got a peace team that works under the guidance of special Middle East coordinator Dennis Ross; he and that team, including Dan Kurtzer who was here earlier in the week to brief you on the multilateral process, are in very regular contact with the Secretary, advise him. The Secretary also reaches out to many of his ambassadors in the field at post for suggestions and ideas on the peace process itself.

But I would say the principal point of contact, in preparing for some of the exchanges he's had in the last several days, has obviously been Ambassador Ross, as the team leader for the Middle East effort.

Q Michael, just to make sure that we're not missing a story here, are the heads of delegation meeting again next week or --

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MR. McCURRY: I think yes. And my understanding is, they're taking a break for the long weekend and all four tracks will reconvene on Tuesday.

Q Do you have anything to say about their suddenly fruitful and interesting conversation this week?

MR. McCURRY: I think they had interesting conversations. Whether or not they were fruitful is for the parties to determine.

Q The appointment schedule didn't make it clear whether Pelletreau's swearing-in was open to the press. Do you know whether it is?

MR. McCURRY: I think it is. If you're interested -- apparently, it's going to be fairly cramped quarters, so we are asking if you're interested, to at least check in with us so we can get some type of a head count and see if we've got to make pool arrangements, given the size.

Q Would he be accepting questions at the swearing?

MR. McCURRY: No. It's just a nice ceremony at a swearing-in; the way we always do it.

Q On Liberia: A representative of the interim government of Liberia held a news conference this morning. He said that the State Department has not yet given the interim government an answer on their urgent request for logistical support for the ECOWAS military force. He says time is of the essence but there has been no permission by the United States to use some of the previous $30 million granted for this specific purpose, and time is running out. Can you look into that?

MR. McCURRY: Jim, I'll look into that. I don't have anything handy on that. I remember seeing something about two or three weeks ago addressing that issue, so I know that there's been some work on it here in the Department. We'll see if we can get some detail.

Q Since you put that out several weeks ago, he's been around here talking to the DoD and (inaudible) in this building. He says that he has not been able to get an answer.

MR. McCURRY: Get any -- okay. I understand. We'll check into it.

Q South Africa and the rejection?

MR. McCURRY: I've got some on it. I want to -- I forgot to check with the White House because I think the White House may have a little more later today on that subject as well.

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Essentially, what we have is pretty minimal. Just to recount, I think, as you already know, the initial reaction from the Inkatha Freedom Party sort of questioned whether the proposals that had been developed by Nelson Mandela and Mr. de Klerk really represent anything new on behalf of the South African Government. Our view is that we hope that a further discussion of that proposal will lead to the broadest possible participation in the transition process that's now underway in South Africa.

Q Thank you.

MR. McCURRY: You're welcome.

(Press briefing concluded at 1:35 p.m.) (###)

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