US DEPARTMENT OF STATE OFFICE OF THE SPOKESMAN DAILY PRESS BRIEFING DEPARTMENT OF STATE DAILY PRESS BRIEFING I N D E X Friday, February 25, 1994 Briefer: Michael McCurry RUSSIA US Support for Democratic Reform ................ 1,4 US Declares Russian Diplomat Persona Non Grata .. 1-8 -- Russian Reaction ............................ 2-4,8 Secretary's Future Meeting with Counterpart ..... 6-7 Deputy Foreign Minister's Meetings at Department 7-9 MIDDLE EAST PEACE PROCESS Massacre of Palestinians in Hebron .............. 9-17 -- Secretary's Contacts with Parties ........... 9-15 -- US Plan to Convene Talks re:Implementing the Declaration of Principles Next Week ....... 9-13 -- Reaction of Parties ................... 9 -- Israeli Statement ........................... 15 FORMER YUGOSLAVIA Croatian-Bosnian Discussions at Department ...... 10 CHINA Asst. Secretary Shattuck's Trip to China ........ 17-18 Discussions with Red Cross re: Visits to Detention Camps ............................... 18 NORTH KOREA Meetings with US in New York .................... 18 Speech by National Security Advisor Lake ........ 19 Prospects for IAEA Inspections .................. 19-21
DEPARTMENT OF STATE DAILY PRESS BRIEFING
FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 25, 1994, 3:43 P.M. (ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED)
MR. McCURRY: Good afternoon, everybody. I've got an opening statement that I'm going to start with.
I think that you've all heard the President say today, and the Secretary of State say over the last two days in Congressional testimony, that the United States strongly supports political and economic reform in Russia; and we believe that that is just as important today as it has been for months. Reform in Russia is in the interests of the United States. It helps lower the danger posed by nuclear weapons; it helps nurture a transformation in Russia that will promote democracy, market economics, and peaceful relations with Russia's neighbors. But we said all along that reform will not always be easy; there will be setbacks along the way. And we know that there are forces at work in Russia which are inconsistent with reform.
We have to be realistic in our expectations, steady in our support for reform, and unequivocal in our opposition to those who are enemies of reform.
In this context of U.S. policy, we take the developments, like those in the Ames espionage case, very seriously. And we have discussed our concerns directly with the Russian Government in recent days. I think you know the Secretary took the unusual step of calling in the Russian Charge to register our strongest protest.
Today at l:45, Jim Collins, our Senior Coordinator for the Newly Independent States, called the Russian Embassy's Charge d'Affaires, Vladimir Chkhikvishivili, to the State Department. At this meeting, Mr. Collins informed the Russian Charge that the United States of America has declared a Counselor in the Russian Embassy to be persona non grata. We ask that this individual leave the United States within seven days.
The individual in question is the chief Russian intelligence official here in Washington, the so-called Rezident of the SVRR.
Clearly, the United States believes that this individual is in a position to be responsible for the activities associated with the Ames espionage case. And for that reason we insisted to the Russian Government that he be held accountable.
Mr. Collins also indicated today that we do not rule out taking additional action against any other Russian diplomats who are subsequently implicated in the Ames affair.
With that official statement, I will take any questions.
Q Mike, does the United States know any more now about the fate of the people who may have been betrayed by the alleged spy?
MR. McCURRY: Barry, that is the subject that I am not going to get into. In fact, all aspects of the case that relates to Mr. Ames -- I think as you heard the President indicate today -- are something that we will not comment on officially because it might prejudice the investigation and the subsequent prosecution itself.
Q Well, I'd settle for some sense of the depths of it. This is to understand how serious this situation is and how serious the United States Government takes it.
MR. McCURRY: I think you've heard us say repeatedly that we take it very seriously. I think you heard the President say today that it was a very consequential case and something that we have acted on accordingly.
Q Has the Russian Government officially replied to any of the protests that we've launched?
MR. McCURRY: Well, we've been in conversation with them over the last several days. The Russian Charge did officially protest the action that we declared to them today. But there have been discussions and those discussions, for the most part, I will keep as private diplomatic exchanges.
I know that the President has been expecting some sort of reply to it. Has there been no reply at all from the Foreign Minister, from President Yeltsin? Is there no official reply, or are they simply ignoring us?
MR. McCURRY: I think our official reply, as someone just indicated, based on the conversations that we've had with the Russian Government in --
Q No. Their official reply.
MR. McCURRY: Well, their official reply you can take in light of the announcement that I've just made.
Q Mike, what about the name of the diplomat expelled?
MR. McCURRY: Hold on for a second.
Q We'll need spellings.
MR. McCURRY: Spellings.
Q Can you name names?
MR. McCURRY: Of the Chkhikovishivili?
Q No. The man who was expelled.
MR. McCURRY: In my official statement you will note I did not use the name. His name -- the previously declared individual -- is Aleksandr Iosifovich Lysenko.
Q Will you spell it, please?
MR. McCURRY: O.K. I can transliterate it for you.
Aleksandr Iosifovich Lysenko.
Q Mike, you indicated that you don't rule out further actions against other individuals implicated. Under what conditions might you take that further action? Are you waiting for the Russians to respond in some way, or --
MR. McCURRY: We don't indicate anything about that in the statement that I've just read. Obviously, the case will be prosecuted in a U.S. court of law. The investigation itself will be discussed by those who are doing the prosecution. And, as I say, we don't rule out any subsequent action, but we're not declaring any today.
Q Just to be perfectly clear, the U.S. had asked the Russians to voluntarily withdraw this individual today?
MR. McCURRY: I think we indicated over the last several days that we believed there were steps that Russia might want to consider that would respond appropriately to the very strong concerns and protests that we registered. And I think that we indicated over the last several days that if there were no forthcoming responses to those requests for voluntary action we would have no choice but to take further action, and that's obviously the further action we're not discussing.
Q Mike, did the Administration consider the ramifications in Russia of this move -- I mean fueling the nationalist sentiment towards the United States, sort of withdrawal from the path the United States would like the Russians to be taking in reform and democratization?
MR. McCURRY: As I indicated, our very strong support for reform continues; and we certainly understand there are internal discussions within Russia related to reform. But this is an action that we felt appropriate under the circumstances, one that we certainly take with knowledge that it will have reverberations within Russia; but it is, nonetheless, action which is very consistent with the strong view we hold on the case itself.
Q Mike, you said the Charge protested back to this action. Do you get a sense that the Russians are going to let the matter drop at this point, or are you expecting something more from Moscow in response?
MR. McCURRY: Well, that's really not for me to speculate on. It will be up to the Russian Government to indicate what type of response they might make.
I think they did not indicate in the meeting today what the response would be, other than to say that they officially protested the decision that we had reached and declared to them. And I believe that the Charge did indicate that he would communicate the diplomatic note which was formally conveyed by Jim Collins to the Charge back to his government.
Q Mike, are there some further actions that you would like to see the Russian Government take?
MR. McCURRY: I think that there are further steps that, certainly, can be taken, but they're suggesting nurturing the bilateral relationship we have with Russia, continuing to work together on many of the subjects that we have in common that we work on, whether it ranges from the current crisis in Bosnia to support for the emergence of democracy in Russia itself. There are just a number of steps in which we will be having bilateral conversations with them and continue to work. It's a relationship that's very, very important to the United States.
Q I guess what I'm asking is whether this ends the affair?
MR. McCURRY: It remains to be seen. We have taken a step. The Russian Government will respond however the Russian Government chooses to respond.
Q Mike, indeed, you've taken a step and it looks like a limited steps. The one thing it implies that this huge spy case had only one Russian handler, for instance.
MR. McCURRY: You're using terms, you note, that I did not use.
Q I know you didn't, but I'm just saying, I've in the seen the past much less important cases results in PNGing several Russian diplomats. Are you trying to limit the fallout -- is the U.S. Government trying to limit the fallout from this for the sake of a good relationship?
MR. McCURRY: I wouldn't describe it as that. I think we've taken the appropriate action suggested by the circumstances itself.
Now, you're referring -- I think the last time we had a major public instance of a persona non grata declaration, it was 1986 in which there were a large number of -- I believe 55 -- Russian diplomats expelled. That's a much different --
Q It also exceeded the limit at that time.
MR. McCURRY: That was a much different time, too. It was a time of the adversarial relationship we had with the then Soviet Union and the Cold War. This is a much different era, I think, as you all know.
Q Being appropriate to the circumstances, this is a case which has had immense repercussions for our intelligence apparatus, the deaths of agents, and that sort of thing. How do you rationalize it? (Inaudible) PNG?
MR. McCURRY: I described to you the individual in question as the senior intelligence official here in Washington, resident within the Embassy. I think that is a level that demonstrates and suggests the seriousness with which we attach to this case and its outcome.
Q You said that they protested the action. What was the basis of their protest? Did they say it was unfair action?
MR. McCURRY: I'm not aware of whether or not they indicated a protest -- or whether they indicated the basis for the protest. I believe they indicated they just formally protested the decision.
Q When you say you don't rule out any further actions against anyone else implicated in the case, do you mean that as the trial proceeds, if other Russians -- it becomes clear that other Russians were involved, we will PNG them? Or are you saying that we know of others who are already implicated but we're holding off, thereby leaving some Russians who were involved in spying on the U.S. still in Washington?
MR. McCURRY: I'm not commenting at all on the case itself or the material that's developed by the prosecutors. That's really within their providence. I've suggested that we have taken the step today that certainly is warranted given the facts that are available to the President, to the Secretary, and to others.
Q Are you saying that the U.S. knows of others in the Russian Embassy who were involved in this already and are not PNGing them, or are you just --
MR. McCURRY: I just decline to get into that because it really materially relates to the case against Mr. Ames and his wife.
Q Does the Administration think that there should be no spying at all in the world today? Does the United States do any kind of this activity in Russia?
MR. McCURRY: I think you heard the Secretary say yesterday we have no illusions about what goes on in the world. As to the second question, that's not one that I can answer here at the podium, as you know, because we don't customarily discuss intelligence activities. But I don't think it's widely known that the United States gathers information and seeks to understand events in the world. I'm not going to comment about intelligence-gathering, per se, here.
Q Let me just follow up. Are there still CIA personnel attached to the U.S. Embassy in Moscow?
MR. McCURRY: I have no way of answering that question here.
Q Mike, Mr. Kozyrev is quoted as saying today that he's been invited to meet with Mr. Christopher. Can you give us details of anything that's been worked out or is in the process of being worked out on that end?
MR. McCURRY: I really don't have any details on that. I think, as many of you know -- I believe it was last weekend -- Secretary Christopher invited his counterpart, the Russian Foreign Minister, to come here for discussions; we had hoped sometime by the end of the month. I don't believe that they have set a date or place for that meeting. I'll check further on that.
I think the Secretary indicated at the time he extended the invitation to the Foreign Minister that there are many important things that we have and we need to discuss with the Russian Government.
I think, as many of you know, Mr. Kozyrev's Deputy, Georgiy Mamedov, was here in the building today for discussions that ranged across a wide variety, from Bosnia to Latin America, Mamedov having just returned from Latin America to arms control issues and other issues.
There are many aspects to the bilateral relationship with Russia that are extremely important to the United States and reflect our interests.
I think, as the Secretary, the President, and others have others have suggested, the policies we pursue in support of reform in Russia are manifestly in the interests of the United States.
Q Can you give us a readout, Mike, on the morning meeting, if there was one, with the Deputy Foreign Minister of Russia?
MR. McCURRY: With Mamedov?
MR. McCURRY: I don't. He's had, as I suggested, a number of meetings today that cover a range of subjects. I believe he was meeting with Under Secretary Tarnoff in relation to Bosnia. I think he had planned meetings with Under Secretary Davis in connection with proliferation issues, arms control issues, broadly.
As I said, he has just returned from Latin America so I think he planned to meet with Alex Watson in the Bureau of Inter-American Affairs. I believe he also met with Mr. Carlin and with Strobe Talbott, the Deputy Secretary who still keeps a very close eye on policy related to Russia, too.
All of these meetings, I would suggest, covered a wide range of aspects of our bilateral relationship.
Q Including this affair?
MR. McCURRY: I think this subject certainly came up. Because, I think, as Mr. Mamedov indicated to you all as he came into the building today, it's certainly one that he sees has had some impact on that bilateral relationship.
Q Have the Russians conveyed any sort of apology at all -- sorry, that this happened, that they regret that it happened?
MR. McCURRY: They have communicated both their views to us privately and to you publicly. Those are not dissimilar views.
Q Can you take a minute and give us the basic schedule? For one thing, when do you think the Middle East -- I mean the Palestinians and the Israelis -- can get here and get to work, and will it be at the State Department?
MR. McCURRY: Anyone want to -- before we sort of glide into another issue here. In the back.
Q You said that Lysenko should be held accountable. Are you saying that he's the one that recruited Ames or --
MR. McCURRY: I didn't suggest anything about the facts related to the Ames case itself. I said that he was the individual that we deemed to be in a position to be held accountable and responsible for activities associated with the Ames case.
Q Were the Russians given a specific deadline to withdraw their own agents? And were they told ahead of time that it would be Lysenko that would be removed?
MR. McCURRY: I think that we made very clear what we wish to see happen and made clear the timeframe in which we wish to see it happen, and it was a matter of days; that's correct.
Q Do you know how long Lysenko has been in the Embassy here, accredited?
MR. McCURRY: I do not know that, no. Saul.
Q I'm still puzzled about the Russian reply. In the press in Russia, there's generally been a hostile reply -- that is, a hardline reply that this is nothing, that the United States is making too much of it. Is that the message you're talking about, that the United States has gotten probably as well?
MR. McCURRY: I think the message -- I'm referring to the public comments they made -- I guess I would quote what Deputy Foreign Minister Mamedov himself said as he came into the building today. He said that "We take seriously any damage done to the Russian-American partnership. At the same time, we believe we have already accumulated enough trust and momentum in this relationship to sustain any problems." I think many of you heard him say that on the way in.
I think that's certainly his effort to characterize what he thinks is the nature of the relationship as what we clearly acknowledge as a setback in that relationship as a result of this case.
Q But no apology, if there is one, and no regrets about the incident itself?
MR. McCURRY: I did not hear them publicly indicate an apology, no.
Q Okay. Moving to the Middle East -- the Palestinians and Israelis might be --
MR. McCURRY: Move on to the Middle East. I think, as you know, from the Secretary's work this morning over at the White House and from the announcement the President made today about the talks here in Washington, there's been substantial contact with the parties already, including the Secretary's calls to Chairman Arafat to Prime Minister Rabin and to Egyptian Foreign Minister Amre Moussa. I believe all of those calls are aimed at trying to work with the parties to develop some good ideas on how we can proceed next week.
Now, it is the intention of the United States to convene the parties here in Washington early next week. At this point, I don't have any indication of a timetable or when and how they might gather. I think, as you know, we have been in a period in the talks here in Washington, in which there has been more informality and a more streamline nature to the discussions, and by reconvening, in a sense, grouping all of the discussions related to the Israeli-PLO track here in Washington, they'll probably have to be some informality as we work out details.
Q Then I gather, neither Arafat nor Rabin said, "Great idea, they're catching the next plane."
MR. McCURRY: I think they were both, as the President indicated, were supportive of the idea of regrouping the talks that have been going on here in Washington, so that the process itself could be accelerated.
Q You don't have anybody yet saying, "I'll see you Monday, or I'll see you Tuesday."
MR. McCURRY: I think there's been substantial work going on already with the parties to work out those kinds of arrangements.
Q And while we're at it, I just want to get the schedule straight. The weekend, on the Bosnian talks -- what, tomorrow here at the State Department?
MR. McCURRY: I think Barry Schweid's trying to figure out if he's going to be working all weekend.
Q No, no. We're just, some of us are trying to cover the news.
MR. McCURRY: Okay, covering the news. I don't believe that in the case of the Croatian/Bosnian discussions that we'll convene here at the State Department over the weekend. I don't think there will be much news over the weekend, and, after talking to Ambassador Redman and getting his sense of where he thinks the parties are, I think it's likely that they will be in discussion throughout this weekend, working through the very complicated elements of an agreement between the Bosnian Muslims -- the Bosnian Government, that is, and the Bosnian Croats and the Croatian Government.
That's going to take some time, and I suspect it's going to take much longer than the weekend. I doubt very much we'll be in a position to at least give the U.S. perspective on these talks much before Monday at the earliest, if not well into next week.
Q Will it be in this building, do you think?
MR. McCURRY: I think they plan to convene here tomorrow. I don't rule out the possibility that they will meet outside of the building. We've certainly said we would make our facilities available for this very important discussion, but things like the arrangements the parties want to make to meet with all of you and things like that, I will certainly leave to them.
But, as I say, from our perspective we doubt there will be much to report publicly much before early next week.
Q Can you give us any guidance on what time tomorrow they might gather here?
MR. McCURRY: I'll see if I can do that. I think that they were still making some arrangements, but we'll see if that's possible.
Q Going back to the Middle East, do you know who is going to head the delegations when they come here?
MR. McCURRY: No, I don't have any information at this point about the composition of the delegations that the PLO and Israel would like to send here. I think, as the President indicated, and certainly this is consistent with Secretary Christopher's understanding, they will likely send those who have been most directly involved with the talks that have been going on in Paris related to economic aspects of the implementation of the Declaration of Principles and to those who have been meeting in Cairo and Taba related to a lot of the other issues -- the political issues, the formulation of a final text, the working talks that have gone on there.
So we expect that many of the same negotiators who have been working in those two separate venues would be now reconvening here in Washington.
Q What's the advantage of this? I mean, if they're in Cairo and Taba and they need to consult with principals, it's a very simple matter to go back to wherever it is they need to get to very quickly and continue the talks. Whereas if they're in Washington and they need to consult with principals, they're going to have to take a three or four day break.
MR. McCURRY: There will be a very intense period of work ahead. I don't want to speculate on what the parties will need by way of consultations with their home offices. But I think, as the President indicated, and certainly this is Secretary Christopher's thinking too, that having them here, having the United States serving to help stimulate the talks and help do everything possible to move them forward with suggestions, with any assistance that we can provide, might change a bit of the dynamics.
It's very, very important to remember that the Palestinians and the Israelis were very close to agreements that would help formally implement the historic Declaration of Principles that Chairman Arafat and Prime Minister Rabin signed on the White House lawn.
They've got that framework of an agreement within their grasp. They've made enormous progress in the talks they've had to date, and I think the purpose of convening here in Washington is to accelerate that process to see if they can't finish the work on this final text sooner rather than later.
Q I have a technical question.
MR. McCURRY: John Goshko has a technical question. John.
Q Part of the technical arrangements. You already have a Palestinian and an Israeli delegation here as part of the four tracks that is supposed to end, I guess, on Wednesday. Now, what's going to happen to that particular --
MR. McCURRY: Remember, to sort this out a little bit: The bilateral talks that have been underway in both Paris and then in Cairo are related to implementing the Declaration of Principles signed by Chairman Arafat and Prime Minister Rabin. That's been a bilateral discussion between the parties, and the United States has felt all along that it be a bilateral discussion face-to-face with the parties because they are the ones that negotiated this historic arrangement themselves, the ones best in a position to understand the agreement and to go about the work of implementing the agreement.
Now, even during those bilateral discussions as part of the Middle East peace process here in Washington, Israeli negotiators and PLO negotiators continued their work on all the many issues that will continue to be before the parties as you move beyond the Declaration, as the Declaration itself is formally implemented. So that work has actually continued here in Washington. They are dealing with issues that go beyond the scope of the Declaration itself, and they will likely continue to do that work while they are here in Washington.
That frankly, though, is one thing that will have to be discussed with the parties as we look ahead to next week.
Q How much more is the United States going to be involved? I think I overheard Secretary Christopher mentioning having a broker role at times. Isn't that what he didn't want to do or what the Palestinians wanted him to do or didn't want him to do in the past?
MR. McCURRY: I think that we had always indicated publicly that if the parties felt -- if both the parties felt it would be useful for the United States to enter the picture in their direct discussions on the Declaration of Principles, that we would stand ready to assist and help in any way that we could.
In essence, because of the tragedy in Hebron today, that is what has happened. The parties have in discussion with us agreed that it would be helpful to move these discussions here; for the United States to play a role that I admit is as yet at this point somewhat undefined, but at least to use our offices and our facilities here to try to help the parties make progress. And given the enormous tragedy today, the loss of life, the fact that those who are enemies of the peace process have been able to, in the past, thwart and disrupt the process itself, it was extremely important in the eyes of the United States to take the step to do everything we could to try to move this process forward. And that's the reason why the President took the steps that he did today.
Q I don't want to split hairs, Mike, but the President said that we had invited the parties to do this. Are you saying now that the parties requested that we do this?
MR. McCURRY: No. The President was correct, of course, that we did invite the parties, but this was after substantial discussion with the parties during the morning involving the Secretary of State, as you know.
Q In which they said it would be helpful if you all would get involved, and we could do it in Washington.
MR. McCURRY: I think in which the role the United States could play was certainly discussed.
Q Could you go into in a little more detail the communications that the Secretary had this morning? The order. He spoke to Arafat twice?
MR. McCURRY: Yes, he did. He talked this morning. I believe he said at 7:00. I think it may have been a little closer to 7:30. He spoke by phone this morning with Chairman Arafat, mostly in the first instance to express his condolences and those of the United States Government for the grievous loss of live in Hebron.
I think he asked Chairman Arafat to use his enormous stature as a leader to help bring about calm and peace in a time that was obviously going to be very troubled, and he also discussed with Chairman Arafat the importance to move ahead in the peace process; to re-emphasize once again that this is a peace process, in building on the ground, a demonstration that the peace process produces results that will really change the public attitudes of the Israelis and the Palestinians as they begin to see things happen connected with the peace process.
So they had that conversation at 7:30. And then I think while the Secretary was at the White House later in the morning with the President and others, he actually was interrupting some work they were doing on Russia to take a call from the Prime Minister and then I think to make another call to Chairman Arafat. That was, as the Secretary indicated, between 9:00 and 10:00, and then I think, as I say, later in the morning I believe he did have a good conversation with the Egyptian Foreign Minister, Amre Moussa.
Q Speaking of splitting hairs, can I pick up on this?
MR. McCURRY: Split a hair for me.
Q Okay, I want to split two hairs with you.
MR. McCURRY: Two. All right.
Q He called Arafat twice. He doesn't call the Israeli leader. And he calls Arafat, and you'd wonder, wouldn't he want to find out exactly what happened? Was this guy operating on his own? Is this a sane individual? What is the Israeli Government doing about it? Where is he gathering this information? Why wouldn't he call, if this isn't too formal a question -- why didn't he call the Israeli Prime Minister about the same time and find out the Israeli side of the situation?
MR. McCURRY: Oh, he very clearly did. He was in contact with Prime Minister -- I mean, if I've got that out of sequence -- he called Prime Minister Rabin at about 9:00 o'clock after going over to the White House.
Q You didn't just say that. You said Rabin called him.
MR. McCURRY: Oh, I'm sorry. I misindicated. He did place a call to Prime Minister Rabin, and there, of course, have been numerous discussions throughout the morning between the United States and the Israeli Government. In fact, I believe that more like at 2:00 or 3:00 this morning, we had at a fairly senior level contacts with the Israeli Government to determine the facts as they exist and as they were known at that point. So I'm making that very, very clear.
Q Did he have two calls with Rabin? I'm a little confused.
MR. McCURRY: No. My understanding is he had one call at the White House with Prime Minister Rabin.
Q In other words, Rabin did not call him. He called --
MR. McCURRY: He placed the call, but there have been numerous contacts throughout the morning with senior Israeli officials to determine other information.
Q You said that the Secretary had asked Arafat to calm the situation and use his influence. I wonder, did he make any requests for any special things from the Israelis on this? One of the things that the Palestinians have asked for is that the Israelis disarm the settlers or take some action to at least keep arms from the settlers. Does the U.S. have any view on this issue?
MR. McCURRY: I think the United States has a view that the statement made by the Government of Israel today on that is very, very forthcoming and directly on that point. In fact, I think the Secretary was aware that the Israeli Cabinet would be issuing a statement that, among other things, would call for various possible measures of handling radical Israeli elements, their instigating elements in the territories. The Government of Israel believes that these elements gravely and dangerously violate public order, and that every legal measure should be adopted to curb and restrain them.
That's a statement issued today in Israel. Very, very tough and very forthcoming about the steps that the Israeli Government will now consider to curb this type of violence by Israeli extremists, and we consider that a very significant pronouncement by the Cabinet.
Q More specifically, do you think it would be a wise thing for the Israelis to try to disarm the settlers?
MR. McCURRY: We think it's a very wise thing that the Israeli Government is exploring these measures, as they have indicated today that they will do. We applaud them, and we will certainly be following their consideration of those issues in the coming days.
Q What is the U.S. position on Arafat and other PLO leaders' call for U.S. and U.N. troops to be put in the territories?
MR. McCURRY: I'm not aware in the calls that he had with Chairman Arafat today that the Secretary was asked to supply U.S. troops. I believe that the Chairman did indicate, as he as indicated to you publicly, that he believes some type of international presence might be helpful in the territories. That's certainly something that the United States will -- I mean, it's not something that instantly raises the issue of U.S. troops, but it's something that in the case of international presence, since there is some international presence via the United Nations there already, it's something that we will review in the context of looking at the overall issue.
Q Mike, say Arafat out in the front (inaudible) call directly for U.S. troops and U.S. help. How does the Administration feel about answering that call?
MR. McCURRY: As I say, to my knowledge that was not reflected in the call that Secretary Christopher had with the Chairman, and I think I'll leave it at that. I'm not aware of the statement you're indicating that was made earlier.
Q Mike, did Arafat indicate his concern that the assassin is a sympathizer or believes to have been a sympathizer of a Brooklyn-based extremist group?
MR. McCURRY: Not that I'm aware of, no.
Q Has that come up before the support of U.S.-based groups for extremists in Israel?
MR. McCURRY: I'm not aware that that has come up before, no.
Q Mike, is the Secretary planning in any way to alter his own schedule in order to be on hand for these talks?
MR. McCURRY: I think he answered that question earlier when he was upstairs. He indicated his plans are still to depart for Asia next Friday, a week from today. Certainly there's a lot going on here, and he indicated that he serves in his role as Secretary at the instruction and guidance of the President, and I'm sure he'll be in contact with the President and the White House about all the many things that are developing here under our roof.
Q Mike, do we at least leave open the possibility that he might cancel or delay that trip?
MR. McCURRY: I thought he was real clear in answering that question. He said it was going to be something they'd have to assess and that he was willing to do the right thing -- or willing to do the thing consistent with whatever -- do whatever the President felt would be best. I think we'll have to just see how these discussions develop next week. At this point there's no way of telling on both two separate major issues -- the Middle East and Bosnia -- how this discussion will unfold.
Q The President indicated this morning that you were asking the parties to convene and stay here until they reached agreement. Are those the terms that they accepted?
MR. McCURRY: I think that they were well aware that that's the way we would publicly announce the willingness of the parties to come here, yes.
Q Could we do China?
MR. McCURRY: Want to move on? Anyone more on the Middle East? One in the back.
Q Is the theory still that this man acted alone, or is there any evidence to suggest that others acted with him?
MR. McCURRY: We have not developed any independent information of our own. We've relied on the reports that we've gotten from the region and what we've been told by the parties as we've been in discussion with them. I'm not aware of anything that we know that contradicts any information that we've heard publicly or from the Government of Israel.
Q (Inaudible) on the part of Israeli security?
MR. McCURRY: I don't have an assessment of that issue.
Q Do you have anything on what Assistant Secretary Shattuck might have said, had he appeared as scheduled today?
MR. McCURRY: I do, and I apologize for those of you who may had even hoped that you would catch him. He was going to be here earlier, but because we've had to delay things today, he couldn't say much about his coming trip to China. But let me cover some of that.
Assistant Secretary Shattuck will leave today for China -- later today. He'll be there for a week. In Beijing he will meet with Government officials. He will then go to Shanghai where he will meet with both the government officials and with those outside the government including people involved in legal reform.
The purpose of Mr. Shattuck's trip is to continue the constructive discussions with the Chinese Government held over the past six months over internationally recognized basic human rights standards and to pave the way for a successful visit by the Secretary to China in mid-March.
Mr. Shattuck will emphasize the President's policy of linking improvements in U.S-China relations, including trade relations, to progress on human rights. He will take up each of the issues that are covered in the President's Executive Order on Most-Favored-Nation status.
On some of these issues, there's been progress. I think as many of you know, on others there has been no progress. In fact, we would even say some slippage. Mr. Shattuck will point out to the Chinese that more progress is certainly going to be needed for the President to be able to renew MFN, and that nothing has changed in our determination to follow the criteria established in the Executive Order as we look at that very important decision.
The American people, the Congress and the President have made very clear over the last five years that they want a cornerstone of our relations with China to be a clear and steady improvement in human rights and a commitment by China to observe the basic international human rights standards that are endorsed by the overwhelming majority of nations as set out in the Universal Declaration on Human Rights.
My apologies to Assistant Secretary Shattuck. I think he probably would have covered that a lot more eloquently and probably been able to take some of your questions on his forthcoming trip, had he been here.
Q Do you happen to have any Q&As, for example, on the slippage which you referred to?
MR. McCURRY: On slippage, I mean, in the past days I think we've covered some of this last week in a taken question we took. I think some of you are aware of the actions of the Chinese Government related to religious worshippers has been a source of very grave concern to us. There are some American citizens involved. We believe, among other things, that a treaty that we have that covers arrangements that are to be made in terms of notification when an American citizen is held in detention were not entirely applied in that instance.
I think we covered some of that, as I suggested, in a statement we had last week. You might go back and look at that.
Q Do you know if the Red Cross has been able to visit the camps that they were going to be allowed to visit, or detention centers, I believe?
MR. McCURRY: I don't know whether they've actually had the visits. I know that they have begun discussions with the Government of China about how those visits might occur, but I'm not aware that they've actually scheduled any visits to date.
Q Anything more on North Korea? IAEA.
MR. McCURRY: Yes. Let me do a couple others. Most of you know that North Korea, after we suspended our discussions last night and had our negotiators return home, the North Koreans decided today that they would accept -- we decided we would accept their request. They requested another meeting for this afternoon. That meeting began just over an hour ago and it's expected to last most of the day.
We don't expect, frankly, any resolution of the issues that are being discussed in that meeting tonight. We suspect that this could either go on for some time or be in a position where we would have to tell the IAEA, as we have been telling them, the results of those discussions for a decision that the IAEA will have to make on Monday, as they've already indicated.
A couple of things on that. Among other things I would like to call your attention, I think there was a very interesting speech that the National Security Advisor, Tony Lake, gave up at Yale University last night. I'd commend that to your attention. You might want to try to get a hold of that. He made some good points on where we are with Korea. I'd like to quote him by way of enunicating a little bit of our policy.
"We must remain focused on a long-term," Tony Lake said. "While we have made some progress, North Korea's pattern over the years has been one of intermittent cooperation and unpredictable hostility. This problem is not likely to disappear even if it disappears from the front pages. Even if the North agrees tomorrow to the terms of IAEA inspections, we cannot simply breath a collective sigh of relief and move on. We'll have to move to the next round of talks. North Korea will continue to probe and to try to divide the United States from its allies, so we must remain viligant, patient, resolute. As events unfold, we must resist the tendency to lurch from panic to exultation. There is security and steadiness."
Given the discussions that we've now had over many days with the North Koreans, that's a sober and wise analysis.
Q You don't regard Monday as the deadline day for this to be resolved in terms of the visas for the IAEA inspectors or us?
MR. McCURRY: I have now learned that you never set deadlines in this discussion. I can tell you that on Monday the Chairman of the IAEA Board of Governors has indicated that had the inspections not commenced by Monday, he will have no choice but to call an emergency meeting of the IAEA Board of Governors. It's our understanding that that meeting would most likely be set, if called, for sometime late next week. Perhaps Thursday.
So the prospects of discussions, perhaps, will go on. I can't indicate to you anything other than the fact that our negotiators today, in their discussions, are hoping that they will have some answers to issues that we place before North Korea earlier in the week. Those answers would make it possible, we believe, for the inspections to commence no later than Monday, certainly, and that would then enable us to get on with discussions of other aspects of our attempt to deal with the North Korean nuclear issue.
Q You said (inaudible) you don't expect a resolution of the visa issue of these meetings this afternoon.
MR. McCURRY: Right.
Q And you indicated something to the contrary just now when you --
MR. McCURRY: They have it within their ability to satisfy us on the points that we've raised with them. That could clear the way for -- it's our understanding, it could clear the way for the visas to be issued and for the inspectors to depart over the weekend for Korea.
Whether that will happen over the weekend or not is something that's entirely impossible to predict.
Q Are these points such as sequencing -- is that what you're working on? Who says what to whom, when, as this process gets underway? When would "Team Spirit" be suspended; who would say what?
MR. McCURRY: I would go, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. We don't talk about diplomatic conversations underway. But, yes, that's basically it.
Q Mike (inaudible) Tuesday, Wednesday, and I believe again yesterday, the Secretary said he was not aware of problems with the issuance of the visas. You've clearly shifted to a slightly different position?
MR. McCURRY: No, the Secretary is exactly right on that point. Let me address that for a minute. There is no problem with the visas. In fact, North Korea, among other things, has suggested they would welcome visa applications on behalf of the IAEA inspectors. The IAEA has so indicated publicly. They say there are not issues outstanding that we are aware of in our discussions with North Korea, because they have raised everything they have to raise the subject, scope, and coverage of the inspections themselves.
North Korea has indicated that there are matters that they wish to resolve in discussions with the United States before they proceed to issue those visas. So we are now attempting to address those issues.
But the visas, per se, are not the issue. There are other issues that have been under discussion at these working-level talks in New York.
Q I just listened carefully to that answer, and I'm sorry, I just completely fail to understand it. In the transcript, obviously, the logic will then shine through.
MR. McCURRY: It will be artful and logical and completely incomprehensible when you look at the transcript.
Q You said something to the effect that there was no problem with the visa except for the problems?
MR. McCURRY: The visas would be issued to IAEA inspectors would who then go and commence inspections. There were issues that the IAEA and North Korea had under discussion that presented a problem to the issuance of those visas.
As indicated publicly, I think, on February 5, those issues have now been resolved. The issues that are now under discussion are other issues that weren't connected originally to the discussion that the IAEA was having with North Korea.
Q As of this point, North Korea --
MR. McCURRY: And those other issues were . . . take it away, Terry.
Q At this point, though, North Korea is not willing to issue the visas or not willing to go ahead with the inspections? You agree that the distinction that matters.
MR. McCURRY: They are attempting to resolve issues with the United States relating to a variety of things that we've had under discussions with them connected to the North Korea issue, some of which you referenced earlier in your question.
Q And they can't issue the visas until such time as those are resolved?
MR. McCURRY: The inspectors themselves probably will not be in a position to depart until those issues are resolved. I'm not sure, actually, that that's entirely a visa question, but it may be something else.
Q Thank you.
(Press briefing concluded at 4:25 p.m.)
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