US DEPARTMENT OF STATE OFFICE OF THE SPOKESMAN DAILY PRESS BRIEFING
DEPARTMENT OF STATE DAILY PRESS BRIEFING
I N D E X
Monday, February 28, 1994
Briefers: Michael McCurry Thomas Hubbard
ANNOUNCEMENTS Secretary`s Budget Testimony 3/1 and 3/2 1 Hubbard Briefing 1
NORTH KOREA IAEA Nuclear Inspections 1-5 Third Round of Talks with U.S., Team Spirit South-North Talks 2-5
MIDDLE EAST PEACE TALKS Status of Talks, Conditions for Resumption 5-10,13-14 Settlements, Agenda 5-7 Secretary, Ross, Pelletreau Contacts 5-7,9 Israeli Cabinet Statement 6,10 PLO Special Envoy 7,9,11-12
UN Security Council Resolution, Observers 7-8,10,13 Realities on the Ground 11 Russia Co-Sponsorship, Involvement 11-12 Bombing in Lebanon Church 14
RUSSIA Firing of Counter-Intelligence Chief 14,17 Expulsion of U.S. Embassy Officer 14-16 Ames Espionage Case 15,17 FonMin Kozyrev Visit 16 Pickering, Other Contacts re Bosnia-Herzegovina 16-18
BOSNIA-HERZEGOVINA NATO Shootdown of Bosnian Serb Aircraft, No-Fly Violation 17-18,20-21
Bonsian-Croat Talks in Washington 18-19 Fighting, Military Activity on the Ground 19-20 Opening Tuzla Airport 21-22
DEPARTMENT No Photo Ops: Swearing-In Ceremony for Deputy Secretary Talbott 22
DEPARTMENT OF STATE DAILY PRESS BRIEFING
MONDAY, FEBRUARY 28, 1994, 1:10 P. M. (ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED)
MR. McCURRY: Good afternoon, everybody. I`ve got two announcements about our schedule this week. First, Secretary Christopher will testify, I think as many of you know, tomorrow, March 1, before the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Foreign Operations. That will be Room 2360 of the Rayburn Building at 10:00 a.m.
He will then testify again on Wednesday, March 2, before the Senate Appropriations Subcomittee on Foreign Operations, and that will be held in Room 216 of the Hart Building, again at 10:00 a.m.
Because of those appearances by the Secretary, in which he will not only discuss the Department`s FY-95 Budget request but presumably a great deal other subjects in the news, there will be no regular daily briefing here on either of those days -- Tuesday or Wednesday. We`ll be back with you on Thursday.
Next, I thought it would be useful today -- I think many of you know or are at least up to speed on our discussions with North Korea. I think, as you know, the inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency departed Vienna yesterday and are expected to arrive in North Korea early Tuesday.
During the course of last week, late last week we had discussions with North Korea in New York, and I thought it might be useful for one of the participants in those discussions to take a few questions from you.
I`d like to introduce Deputy Assistant Secretary for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Tom Hubbard, aka mid-level working official, who`s been in New York during many of the exchanges we`ve had with North Korea. He`s on kind of a tight time frame right now, but I know there are other subjects in the news as well, so we`ll try to keep these questions down to the few minutes or so that he can report to you on some of the events involving North Korea.
I`ll turn it over to Tom. Tom`s got some of the other members of the team that have been working on this with him, and we`ll just open it up for a few questions.
Deputy Assistant Secretary Hubbard.
DEPUTY ASSISTANT SECRETARY HUBBARD: Thank you. Let me just say that I have two of the other members of my team with me -- Gary Seymour from the Political-Military Bureau and Ken Quinones, the North Korean Desk Officer who works in my Bureau.
As Mike has said, we did finally reach an agreement with the North Koreans at nearly midnight, Friday night, the 25th, which in fact will allow the inspections to begin on March 1. The inspectors received their visas, departed. They`re expected in Pyongyang late Tuesday afternoon, Pyongyang time.
These are the inspections required by the IAEA to maintain continuity of safeguards and to ensure that no diversion of nuclear material at North Korea`s seven declared nuclear facilities has occurred since earlier inspections. The IAEA tells us that we can expect completion of these inspections in about two weeks.
We reached a number of other understandings during these discussions that concluded last week. Among other things, we and the DPRK agreed that the date for holding a third round of formal talks between the U.S. and the DPRK in Geneva will be officially announced when the IAEA inspections begin on March 1.
When the inspections begin on March 1, announcements also will be made concerning plans for the U.S.-ROK military exercise, Team Spirit `94. Also on the same day, South-North working level talks will resume in Panmunjom to arrange for a South-North dialogue on intra-Korean issues, including the nuclear issue, through an exchange of special envoys.
We, of course, welcome the resumption of South-North dialogue. We also welcome the offer by President Kim Yong-sam of the Republic of Korea that he is prepared to meet with President Kim Il-song of the DPRK if it will help to resolve the nuclear and other bilateral issues. An exchange of special envoys between South and North could pave the way for such a South-North summit.
Finally, let me add that the undertakings of the United States regarding Team Spirit `94 and a third round of U.S.-DPRK talks are based on the premise that the IAEA inspections will be fully implemented, and that the South-North nuclear dialogue will resume through the exchange of special envoys.
I think that`s all I have to say. As I`ve noted, there will be some further announcements tomorrow.
Q At what level are the third round of talks going to be conducted -- at Gallucci`s level?
DEPUTY ASSISTANT SECRETARY HUBBARD: Yes. We would anticipate again that our delegation will be led by Assistant Secretary Gallucci, and that the DPRK delegation will be led by their First Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs, Kang Sok Ju.
Q And how long do you expect them to last?
DEPUTY ASSISTANT SECRETARY HUBBARD: It`s hard to say. We would hope to have this round as quickly as possible.
Q Would you dispute that the third round would begin on or about March 21?
DEPUTY ASSISTANT SECRETARY HUBBARD: No, I wouldn`t dispute that.
Q What if they find that the continuity of safeguards has been broken? What happens then?
DEPUTY ASSISTANT SECRETARY HUBBARD: Well, the IAEA will go in, they will complete their inspections, and then the results of course -- there will have to be a number of tests based on the inspections that take place. If we find that continuity has been broken through the inspections and the resulting tests, then we`ll, of course, have to reconsider whether dialogue is the appropriate way of dealing with this issue.
Q What about the suspected two nuclear waste sites? Will they be included in the inspections?
DEPUTY ASSISTANT SECRETARY HUBBARD: They will not be included in these inspections. Our basic position remains that we`re seeking a full resolution of the nuclear issue. Full resolution of this issue entails: full North Korean membership in the NPT; full North Korean acceptance of their safeguards obligations with the International Atomic Energy Agency, including the special inspections; and, finally, implementation of the South-North denuclearization declaration which provides for inspections in a regime between North and South.
That`s required for a resolution of the nuclear issue. Resolution of the nuclear issue remains our primary objective, and certainly the two sites would be very high on our high list of priorities if and when we go into a third round.
Q In other words, you think that these inspections of these remaining two sites will be accomplished but later on.
DEPUTY ASSISTANT SECRETARY HUBBARD: Yes, certainly. Our whole policy aims at the accomplishment of those, but we do not require that in advance of the third round.
Q Have the North Koreans accepted more than one inspection of their seven declared sites or only one inspection?
DEPUTY ASSISTANT SECRETARY HUBBARD: That`s never really been an issue. During the course of all of our talks, North Korean representatives have acknowledged the need for periodic inspections. They have simply challenged the scope of those inspections. Obviously, continuity of safeguards is an ongoing concept. Right now what is required for continuity of safeguards is an inspection of seven sites. Sometime later, obviously, there will be further inspections required.
Q What`s your analysis of why these talks have been on and off again? Do you feel that`s the North Korean tactic, or do you think that it reflects some conflict within the leadership or both or some other explanation?
DEPUTY ASSISTANT SECRETARY HUBBARD: It`s awfully hard to understand what goes on in North Korea. Clearly, these are complex issues that pose a lot of complex challenges to North Korea and the regime, and I`ve come to learn that in dealing with the North Koreans, everything takes more time than you expect.
Q Have any arrangements been worked out for refueling the North Korean reactor?
DEPUTY ASSISTANT SECRETARY HUBBARD: No.
Q Could you tell me if the United States has made any agreement as to what is going to be the objective and what -- on the agenda rather -- for the March 21 talks, for the Geneva talks?
DEPUTY ASSISTANT SECRETARY HUBBARD: We haven`t worked out any specific agenda, as I said earlier. We have indicated from the outset that our principal objective is a resolution of the nuclear issue along the lines that I have just defined. We have indicated that if we go into a third round, we will adopt a thorough and broad approach to the problems that divide North Korea from ourselves and the rest of the international community.
Certainly, as we resolve the nuclear issue, we have indicated we are prepared to talk about many of the other political and economic issues that divide us.
Q But there`s nothing more specific than that so far, at least as far as the North Koreans understand?
DEPUTY ASSISTANT SECRETARY HUBBARD: No.
Q With whom does the Secretary plan to discuss the North Korean nuclear issue on his upcoming Asia trip? Is there any chance at all of the possibility of a detour on the trip to go to Korea?
DEPUTY ASSISTANT SECRETARY HUBBARD: No. I think the Secretary has already indicated his plans for the trip, and I`m not aware of any other plans. I would anticipate that he will talk about the North Korean nuclear issue with most of his interlocutors on this trip. Certainly, it`s of great importance to Australia, of great importance to Japan, and of great importance to China.
MR. McCURRY: Okay. Other places, other faces.
Q Mike, on the Middle East talks, what is the American impression now as to how much of a walk out the Arabs are conducting? Demands are being made -- at least in TV interviews -- that the agenda be changed so that at least settlements could be placed on the table. Does the U.S. have a position whether the agenda is immutable, or are you encouraging change -- are you supporting change?
MR. McCURRY: Let me go through where things stand after a very active weekend of diplomacy by the Secretary and others.
I think you`re aware that the situation right now is fairly fluid. We are having frequent contacts with the parties. I`ll make one thing very clear, though: In all of our discussions this weekend, all of the parties indicated a continuing commitment to negotiations. I think in the past we`ve experienced events that have threatened the process, and in each and every one of those cases we`ve said that extremists would attempt to derail the process, and we`ve gone back to the parties and encouraged them to continue the hard work of building peace.
The terrible attack on Friday, I think, needs to be seen in that light. We cannot allow extremism to set the agenda for these discussion.
Now, the bilateral negotiations that were going on here in Washington, the four tracks that were talking last week, I think, as you know, the parties thought it best to forego the talks that they had scheduled for the next three days. Wednesday was to be the day in which the current round of discussions concluded.
But they made it clear to us, as their authorities have made it clear in their capitals, that they remain committed to the process. For example, I think a Syrian spokesman said today in Damascus that their decision applies only to this session of the negotiations. Secretary Christopher has a very good call earlier today with Foreign Minister Shara of Syria, in which the Foreign Minister said that this current break in the talks represents "a pause, not a retreat." I`m quoting the Foreign Minister.
On the agenda, I would say that the agenda for the talks, particularly that relate to the PLO and Israel, is very much the agenda that is set forth in the Declaration. It is the implementation of the Declaration of Principles that the parties have been discussing bilaterally. It is our hope that when they gather here in Washington to continue their discussions, they will be able to finalize agreements on how they can go about implementing the Declaration.
I think as you know, the question of settlements -- one of the things that would conceivably be addressed beyond the Declaration itself. That`s the way the parties themselves have framed the discussion. I think it`s even more significant on that question the actions that were taken by the Israeli Cabinet yesterday -- you`ve all seen the statement that we put out on that. As we said, we consider the measures announced by the Israeli Cabinet an important step toward assuring the security of Palestinians and preventing the recurrence of the type of horrific acts that we witnessed on Friday.
I`d call particular attention to the commission on inquiry that was established with a very broad mandate. The Government of Israel through announcing the creation of that commission has expressed its determination to investigate the tragedy and the factors that led to it and to control and disarm Israeli settler extremists. That was a very significant and important statement by the Cabinet.
Q Can you clarify what you mean when you say settlements -- one of the things that conceivably could be added? Do you mean in the talks that the President has invited the PLO in Israel to?
MR. McCURRY: No. I think the parties themselves have indicated how they wished those issues to be addressed and the sequence in which they see them addressed in the context of the Declaration. They clearly may or may not wish to bring that subject up. As you know, the PLO has indicated they will send a special envoy here, and we`re not aware as to the identity or timing of a visit by an envoy, but we`ll have to see what other subjects they want to raise --
Q Well, let me try one more time, in a different way then. Does the U.S. have a position on whether the agenda can be changed? And whether, as it seems to be the case, the PLO is setting a precondition for coming here -- that settlements be put on the agenda?
MR. McCURRY: The agenda is the Declaration of Principles and how it can be implemented, and the full range of issues associated with the Declaration. That has been the agenda and will likely remain the agenda. It must remain the agenda for them to move ahead in the process.
Q Mike, the Administration is saying that it does not think the agreement should be opened back up to include settlements?
MR. McCURRY: I think it`s very clear in the discussions we`ve had with the parties that the progress they`ve made so far in both Paris and Cairo should not be revisited. They ought to look forward, push ahead, to finalize the agreements they`ve made, not to go back and re-open issues upon which the parties are already in agreement.
Q Well, you have a PLO spokesman for Arafat laying down all kinds of conditions today that seem to go against what you are saying?
MR. McCURRY: I think as you know, the Secretary has had discussions with Chairman Arafat, so have others on our peace team, including Assistant Secretary Pelletreau and others, I believe. I think that what we again would re-emphasize is that implementing the Declaration of Principles is the path that the parties themselves have chosen to advance the peace process, and that`s the path in which we believe we can be supportive and helpful when the talks convene here in Washington.
Let me get to Mark and then Alan.
Q Mike, can you tell us what the Secretary and others in this building have done yesterday and today to advance the U.S. draft Security Council resolution that seems to open up the possibility of an international presence?
MR. McCURRY: There`s been discussions up in New York principally on that. They have been very closely monitored by the peace team here in Washington, including the Secretary and Ambassador Ross. On Friday and Saturday, the Security Council held informal discussions on a resolution to address the events in Hebron and elsewhere. By Saturday evening, we understand members of the Security Council had not reached agreement on the text of a resolution. They adjourned their discussion, and we understand that discussions will resume today.
The United States would support an appropriate U.N. Security Council resolution on the events of February 25.
Q What`s an appropriate resolution?
MR. McCURRY: An appropriate resolution. We`ll know it when we see it.
Q What do you mean -- you don`t have a position?
MR. McCURRY: We are negotiating a text of that resolution and discussing it with other members of the Security Council in New York.
Q Well, do you think there should be international inspectors sent to the West Bank?
MR. McCURRY: I think that the issue -- there`s language already in the Declaration of Principles about a temporary international or foreign presence, as agreed upon by the parties. That is language that the PLO and Israel have already agreed to, and it`s in the Declaration.
Q So that`s okay with you.
MR. McCURRY: It`s a subject for the Israelis and the PLO to deal with in the context of their discussions on implementing the Declaration of Principles.
Q Yes, but you`re in the Security Council. You`re going to have to take a position on it.
MR. McCURRY: It`s our view that that`s an issue that the parties themselves are addressing in the context of their own negotiation, and we think that`s a good place for that issue to be addressed.
Q Mike, when President Clinton appeared on Friday, he said he had the agreement of both parties to attend talks, and officials afterwards briefed reporters and said that they would begin the first part of this week. What, if anything, has the PLO told you since then -- told you, as opposed to telling the media -- since then about their party`s --
MR. McCURRY: I think, as I just indicated, they agree in principle that they will reconvene here. They`re discussing when that will happen.
Q I mean, they`ve given the impression that they`re also discussing additional conditions. What have they told you that they would like as conditions for returning to those talks?
MR. McCURRY: I don`t want to get into the substance of those discussions. I think I`d just addressed that in addressing Barry`s question earlier.
Q Can you tell us any more about this special envoy mission?
MR. McCURRY: I don`t -- we`ve heard that they intend to send one. We`re not sure as to who and when.
Q Have they contacted you in any way to tell you sepcifically what is true about their position, as opposed to what is in the media?
MR. McCURRY: As I say, we`ve had good discussions with Chairman Arafat. Those have been helpful, and we remain in close contact with the delegations and following it carefully.
Q I mean, when was the last time you talked to Arafat?
MR. McCURRY: I`d have to check on that. I think I might have it somewhere. Go on, Sid, I`ll keep looking while you ask a question.
Q Just to clarify on the --
MR. McCURRY: Actually, let me go through -- I think I do have it right here. I think you know about our contacts over the weekend. I think I told some of you that the Secretary also talked to Foreign Minister Moussa on Saturday. Some of you may not have had that.
Special Middle East Coordinator Ross and Assistant Secretary Pelletreau also spoke to Chairman Arafat over the weekend, and Ambassador McCarthy met with Chairman Arafat in Tunis. I believe that was over the weekend as well. In addition, there have been numerous contacts by our peace team with various people involved in the negotiations.
Q But there`s been no discussion -- direct talks with the PLO since the meeting of the PLO Executive Council?
MR. McCURRY: I wouldn`t say that. I don`t have any update on contacts today at this point.
Q Just to clarify the international observers, the Administration`s position is it`s provided for in the agreement. Once the agreement is implemented, they can work it out. It shouldn`t be done until the agreement is finished?
MR. McCURRY: No, I said it`s in the Declaration and it`s in the context of implementing the Declaration that they ought to have discussions about that mutually agreed upon presence.
Q But not before?
MR. McCURRY: It needs to be addressed by the parties as they attempt to achieve agreement on the documents that will actually implement the Declaration.
Q Is that why you want the Security Council resolution to say?
MR. McCURRY: I don`t have the latest drafts or the latest thinking on what`s in the Security Council resolution.
Q Do you know if --
MR. McCURRY: We would certainly like to see language that would be consistent with that view that I just articulated.
Q Also, what is the U.S. position on the call by PLO officials, including Yasser Abed Rabbo this morning, on the settlers having to be disarmed -- or an agreement has to be reached on disarming the settlers as a precondition for the Palestinians to return to the talks? Is that a realistic position from the U.S. point of view?
MR. McCURRY: I wouldn`t say anything beyond the statement that we issued yesterday in response to the Israeli Cabinet decision. I think that there were a number of unprecedented decisions taken by the Cabinet with respect to settler violence. We certainly commended that action and indicated our own belief that the Israeli Government should continue to move quickly and effectively to implement those decisions that they outlined yesterday.
Q Mike, the State Department put out a statement yesterday and urged the sides -- you know, the traditional request to exercise maximum restraint. It was one of those wonderful State Department phrases -- almost as wonderful as "appropriate."
The statement promised the Palestinians that if they come to the talks, that would be an opportunity to "change the realities on the ground." Does the State Department have any idea what "realities on the ground" the U.S. will help change? Do you mean settlements, for one thing?
MR. McCURRY: I think that implementing this agreement and demonstrating to both communities, the Israelis and the Palestinians, that there are tangible benefits to peace is exactly what we mean by saying that there are changes in the realities on the ground. And that`s what both communities need to see in order for them to have confidence that the commitments made by the PLO and Israel will bear fruit --
Q In the Middle East, "realities" means something else usually. What the Palestinians have been complaining about -- give me a half a second -- what they`ve been complaining about is as the time goes on and as settlements are dug in and as Jerusalem expands, there`s a new reality on the ground that will be impossible to unscramble.
Now, is the State Department telegraphing the Palestinians that we`ll help you unscramble those realities, or is that a reach?
MR. McCURRY: I think you`re being too far exegetical. I think you just need to read the statement for what it says: Peace can produce benefits. Among the benefits are changes in the conditions that people see in their daily lives that are advanced by the peace process itself.
Q Mike, Russia was initially a co-sponsor of the Mideast Peace Process. Has that role ended? Is there expected to be a Russian representative present at the Washington talks? What sort of consultations are going on?
MR. McCURRY: The Russians are a valued co-sponsor of the peace process and remain so. I think the Secretary is attempting to discuss this issue, among others, with Foreign Minister Kozyrev at some point today, and I think that they will continue to play the role that they`ve played in the discussions here in Washington.
Q Just to clear up a point: If the PLO is coming here later this week, do you have a similar promise or pledge from the Israelis? Are they coming, do you know?
MR. McCURRY: I think they`ve already indicated publicly their willingness.
Q I know that they said they would, but are they -- when are they going to -- do you know when?
MR. McCURRY: We don`t have times. I think, as I indicated, we don`t have any view from the parties yet as to timing and when they might be here.
Q A follow-up: Are you meaning to say that the Secretary is telephoning Kozyrev today, and is he going to request that the Russian Government use its influence with the PLO or others there to resume the talks as quickly as possible?
MR. McCURRY: If I`m not mistaken, I think Foreign Minister Kozyrev already indicated that yesterday in a U.S. television appearance. But I think the Foreign Minister had called the Secretary earlier, and among the things that the Secretary wanted to discuss in that telephone call -- which actually may have occurred by now -- is the status of the Middle East negotiations.
Q Mike, if there is a temporary international presence in the West Bank or Gaza, would the United States participate in any way, or have the Russians indicated whether they would participate?
MR. McCURRY: That`s not a question that I`m aware either the United States or Russia has addressed yet.
Q I believe Kozyrev raised the possibility yesterday in his TV interview that both the United States and Russia could participate in such a thing. Do you have any response to that?
MR. McCURRY: I think he referred to an international presence, and that`s the one that I cited earlier as contained currently in the Declaration. I`m not aware, as I just said, that either the United States or Russia has made any firm commitments in connection with participating in an international presence.
Frankly, that`s not something that could be addressed, until the parties themselves address this in the context of implementing the Declaration.
Q Maybe you could explain, how would this temporary international presence be different from what is already there in the form of the United Nations?
MR. McCURRY: Do you mean like the UNRWA presence and things?
MR. McCURRY: I don`t know. It is a one-line reference that is currently in the Declaration; as I indicated, something that would be subject to subsequent negotiations between the parties. So I sort of would have to leave it to them to address that issue in their own bilateral discussions on implementing the Declaration.
Q Is the United States interpreting Yeltsin`s firing of his counter-intelligence chief as being related to the Ames case?
MR. McCURRY: Let`s hold on for a second. Saul.
Q I know what your statement said yesterday, Mike, but does the United States have a view on the Israeli use -- continued Israeli use of live ammunition in subduing unarmed rioters?
MR. McCURRY: We have discussed issues related to violence in the territories with the Israeli Government. I`m not going to answer your question specifically. I don`t have details that would allow me to do that.
Q I have another question on the side-tracked tracks. This round is over; is that true, and when would the talks -- you say they have a commitment to the process. Does the sponsor, you folks, have an idea when they`ll be back at it? In April or March or what?
MR. McCURRY: We don`t have an indication exactly when. We would obviously encourage the parties to continue to make progress, and that would be consistent with wanting to see them back at work as soon as they can realistically do so.
Q So to sum up, basically despite all the reports out of Tunis about reopening the negotiations or different conditions upon reopening the Israeli/PLO negotiations, the State Department feels that despite the massacre, the negotiations are going to move forward?
MR. McCURRY: I said that we certainly expressed our expectation, based on our conversations with the parties, that they would go forward, yes.
Q Except you don`t know at this point when --
MR. McCURRY: We cannot tell you when --
Q -- any of these negotiations will continue.
MR. McCURRY: We cannot tell you when, and we cannot tell you what type of conditions the various parties might seek on those negotiations; but again, I would emphasize our view is they have made progress in their bilateral talks on implementing the declaration. They need to move forward, not backward; and they need to look ahead to how they can make progress in the coming discussions on implementing the Declaration, because that is the process by which the changes will come about that the Palestinians, especially, are looking for in the quality of life in the territories.
Q Mike, do you establish any kind of relation between what happened in Iran and what happened in this church in Lebanon? Do you see any connection there?
MR. McCURRY: Only the one that the President himself suggested yesterday when he condemned this attack in the strongest possible terms. He suggested that the extremists in both cases have a common purpose to promote division, strife and war, and they must not and will not be allowed to succeed, quoting the President.
Q New subject: Bosnia peace talks.
MR. McCURRY: Bosnia peace talks. We had a vote for Russia earlier. Do you want to do --
Q Can we do my Russian question? Is the United States interpreting Yeltsin`s firing of his counter- intelligence chief as being related to the Ames case?
MR. McCURRY: We have no interpretation of that, because we frankly don`t know.
On the firing of Nikolai Golushko, he, I think as you all know, was removed from his post by Presidential decree without explanation. We do not know why President Yeltsin dropped Golushko. The only thing we know about him is that he was appointed last September as Minister of National Security and then head of Counter-Intelligence in December when the National Security Ministry was abolished.
Q Are you seeking some kind of explanation?
MR. McCURRY: Not that I`m aware of, no.
Q Mike, I understood that he was in charge of domestic counter-intelligence and that it may not have anything to do with anything. Is that correct?
MR. McCURRY: That could very well be true. I don`t have that here, but that could very well be true.
Q Do you accept the Russian reasons for expelling the American Counselor from the Embassy?
MR. McCURRY: No. We have protested in the strongest possible terms the expulsion from Russia of a U.S. Embassy officer. The expulsion of the Russia Rezident from the United States on Friday was an entirely justified action in light of the involvement of the Russian Intelligence Service in the Ames espionage case.
By contrast, the expulsion of the U.S. diplomat from Moscow is purely an act of unjustified retaliation.
Q Even so, do you want to see it end, or is there a likelihood of retaliation? Is this enough?
MR. McCURRY: I don`t want to speculate on what other actions might take place. I think the only thing that we have suggested, as we suggested on Friday, is that we reserve the right to take further action if there are others who are implicated in connection with the Ames case; and we`ll continue to assess, as that investigation and prosecution develops, what further measures might be necessary.
Q That`s the point. In fact, indeed, you`re saying "only if"? Only if you find a connection to the Ames case? You`re not going to throw out a body to equal this body, are you?
MR. McCURRY: I said I don`t have any indication that we`re going to do so. But, as I said earlier, we reserve the right to take further action in connection with information developed as a result of the Ames episode.
Q Mike, there`s some confusion over this man`s identity, if you can give us that, or even his job. What did you with at the Embassy?
MR. McCURRY: I cannot identify him. I think the Russian Government has attempted to identify him in public comments that they have made.
I would note that as best as we can determine, this is not an official at the Embassy that works for AID by a similar name, if that helps. (Laughter)
Q Can you tell us what his job was or his title?
MR. McCURRY: He was an Embassy officer.
Q How long had he been in Moscow?
MR. McCURRY: I don`t have any information on that.
Q Can you say if Tass is carrying his correct name?
MR. McCURRY: I haven`t seen a Tass account.
MR. McCURRY: I believe that that`s correct.
Q Morris, not Norris?
MR. McCURRY: I don`t have any reason to dispute that. To my knowledge, their action does not relate to an official in the Embassy by the name of John -- James Norris, N-O-R-R-I-S, who is there in his capacity as, I believe, Director of AID programs at the Embassy.
Q Can you give us the Bosnian --
Q Wait. Another question. Has the Secretary made good on his invitation to meet with Mr. Kozyrev? Have they set up a time?
MR. McCURRY: No. As I indicated -- they may have talked by phone now. I don`t know whether they were going to get into that subject. They had not scheduled a date as of this morning -- a time or a place for their visit. They were trying to see if they could work out a convenient time or place.
Q Did the United States discuss the Bosnia military action today with the Russians before it happened?
MR. McCURRY: They did. In fact -- a little more on that. Ambassador Pickering was in to see some Russian officials this morning, as you may have gathered. But I think he also took the opportunity to address to Russian Foreign Ministry officials what we knew about the action in Bosnia. I am told that the Russian Government appreciated the information that we were able to provide based on the action by NATO.
Q Can I follow up on that? Mr. Kozyrev complained in his TV interview that Russia hadn`t been sufficiently consulted on the Bosnia issue. Do you accept that, and is this -- today`s action -- an attempt to remedy that?
MR. McCURRY: I don`t have anything newer than that. In the past I`ve described the fairly extensive consultations and discussions we`ve had with a variety of Russian officials on the subject of Bosnia. I`ll tell you, for example, Ambassador Redman just earlier today was able to give Vitaly Churkin, the Deputy Foreign Minister of Russia, a good sense of how things are going in the talks between the Bosnians and Croats going on here.
But, as I say, in the past we`ve described for you some of the extensive contacts that we`ve had with the Russian Government on the subject of Bosnia. Those did occur; they will occur and will continue to occur.
Q Mike, were the Russians informed in advance that a plane was about to be shot down?
MR. McCURRY: I have no information of that. I was told that after the action Ambassador Pickering was in a position to provide some details, as they were available to him, to the Russian Government.
Q Mike, did you say this contact with Kozyrev and the Secretary was initiated by Kozyrev?
MR. McCURRY: I think he called. They had planned to talk early in the week, in any event, because they had a lot of things on their calendar; and of course, as I indicated to Carol, they needed to discuss what possibilities they had of getting together in the near future.
Q But you don`t know if the issue of the Ames case came up between the two of them during the talk?
MR. McCURRY: They haven`t connected yet. I don`t think they connected yet. I don`t think they`ve had their conversation yet.
Q Mike, does the sacking of the counter- intelligence chief in Russia dispel doubt about whether President Yeltsin, in fact, is in charge of the intelligence services there?
MR. McCURRY: I don`t have a way of knowing the authority that President Yeltsin had or does have based on the one personnel action that was announced today.
Q Mike, what can you tell us about -- you said Pickering told the Russians what we know. Can you tell us what we know, just in terms of -- there is a question as to what airspace the escaping planes flew over, as well as what`s our proof that they are, in fact, Serbian planes?
MR. McCURRY: The information that is available to me is the readout that Admiral Mike Boorda gave at his press conference today. I think that`s the most authoritative account that the United States has by way of our commander who is there in his NATO capacity. So I rely on that as the most authoritative account that we have. I`m not aware of any information different.
Q Can we get a readout on the Bosnia talks, to get kind of a feel like Mr. Churkin got?
MR. McCURRY: Yes.
Q A good readout.
Q Before you go on with that, one more on Russia. Mr. Karadzic is in Moscow today. Is this telephone conversation expected to be a brief on what`s going on there?
MR. McCURRY: I don`t have any clue what Foreign Minister Kozyrev has on his talking points.
Q Will the Secretary request some information about that?
MR. McCURRY: I think they`ll discuss the subject of Bosnia and how things are going; certainly.
Q We had a big buildup Friday, with a new U.S. proposal, or at least a recycled, newly-put U.S. proposal; three days of talks; the Bosnians said this is the end of this phase. How did you do?
MR. McCURRY: How did we do?
MR. McCURRY: We`re still doing. They have had productive talks over the weekend. I think most of you know that the Secretary met with both the Bosnian Prime Minister and the Croatian Foreign Minister on Saturday. He`s been closely monitoring the discussions since then with a view of entering into the picture at any point that he could profitably contribute to their discussions.
I will tell you that the talks are continuing longer than we expected today. I think that certainly Ambassador Redman views that as an encouraging sign.
Our latest understanding is that both Prime Minister Silajdzic and Foreign Minister Granic will likely remain here in Washington overnight so that they can continue discussions and perhaps meet tomorrow.
Beyond that, I don`t want to speculate on what type of progress they`re making other than to say that there are very difficult both political issues and territorial issues associated with the enormously complex discussion they`ve been having these last couple of days and that they`re doing everything they can to make progress on it.
Q But is the focus still on that proposition, the merger proposition, etc.?
MR. McCURRY: I think the focus of these discussions continues to be the suggestion that the Bosnian Croats and the Bosnian Government work together to form some type of what`s being called a bi-communal entity -- for lack of better phrasing -- and that the discussions also involve then the relationship of that bi-communal entity to the Government of Croatia. That remains the centerpiece of their discussions, as I understand it.
Q Mike, the parties did not meet with the Secretary yesterday, and what`s the expectation for today?
MR. McCURRY: It depends on how discussions go this afternoon. The Secretary has indicated that if they reach a point where he could enter the picture, he`s on standby and willing to do so. I have not heard as of now that he is needed for that role, but I would say that he has been getting regular reports from Ambassador Redman on the status of the negotiations and has been contributing some ideas and some suggestions on how they might proceed.
Q Is Ambassador Redman still -- is the State Department still hopeful that the talks could be concluded successfully before they leave tomorrow? Or are we -- after having addressed the issues, we`re in the midst of sort of a long negotiation in which they`ll go back, consult, and maybe come back here?
MR. McCURRY: I think, as you`ve heard other Administration briefers say, there is a sequencing here that involves the discussions between the Bosnian delegation and the Croatian delegation, and then another stage later on in which they would bring the Bosnian Serbs into active discussion. I see that continuing over some time.
Now, we`re not speculating at this point on whether or not there is at least a foundation to move ahead to that next stage. We`ll just have to see how the discussions go today.
Q But any sense of how close we are? Is this first phase going to go on for weeks or end tomorrow?
MR. McCURRY: We`ll have to wait and see. Certainly, Ambassador Redman was encouraged by the progress that they were able to make over the weekend, but I just don`t want to speculate on when they might be able to wrap something up.
Q Can you tell us what`s going on on the ground, speaking of the Bosnian Serbs? There are some reports that since the shootdown there`s been an increase in Serb activity on the ground in various places. Is that true?
MR. McCURRY: I don`t have anything other than what are described to me as being press accounts at this point. There have been reports of shelling around Tuzla. There have been earlier reports prior to the incident over the air; there have been reports of fighting elsewhere in Bosnia and shelling that was taking place in Maglaj and other locations. I don`t have any indication here that is authoritative on whether or not any of that activity is related to the incident.
Q Do you have any information on whether tanks are being pulled away from the Sarajevo area and being sent elsewhere?
MR. McCURRY: We`ve been back and forth this morning on the question of the tanks and General Rose`s enforcement of the Sarajevo ultimatum. The information that we have that is sourced to NATO dated today is that seven T-55 tanks were removed from a repair facility near Sarajevo. Once they were removed, they were placed under UNPROFOR control where they now remain. That`s a subject that you`ll also see that Admiral Boorda, as well, addressed in his conference earlier today.
Q Mike, do you have any analysis on why the Bosnian Serbs at this point would send a fixed-wing aircraft on bombing runs?
MR. McCURRY: We do not have a complete analysis that would suggest a motive for doing so. What we do have is a very clear demonstration on the part of NATO that they intend to enforce the "no-fly" zone resolution of the United Nations Security Council. It`s obvious that they did so very effectively.
Q Why, after all this time and all these violations of the "no-fly" zone, did they decide to enforce it today?
MR. McCURRY: As Admiral Boorda indicated today, this was a different type of incident. This involved fixed (wing) aircraft in which the pilots that were flying the NATO sortie indicated they saw ordnance being dropped. That`s a different type of incident than what we`ve seen in the past.
As the President said earlier today, "By and large the bulk of the violations of `no-fly` that have occurred to date have been helicopter flights." So this is unusual in the fact that it was both fixed-wing aircraft and in an apparent military capacity where those planes were being used.
Q Have they confirmed that in fact they dropped bombs? And have they been able to determine what their targets were?
MR. McCURRY: I don`t have anything beyond what Admiral Boorda said earlier.
Q Do you see this as an attempt to test the U.S. and NATO will? And, secondly, could the Serbs be trying to exploit the current U.S.-Russian tensions?
MR. McCURRY: If this was a test, I think NATO just scored an A+.
Q What about the Russian part?
MR. McCURRY: What?
Q What about the possibility -- you know, there have been current tensions between the U.S. and Russia over the spy incident. Do you think that perhaps the Bosnian Serbs were trying to exploit that tension?
MR. McCURRY: It is very difficult for me to speculate on what the motives of the Bosnian Serbs might be.
Q How does it affect the dynamic of the peace talks ongoing right now? Is it focusing --
MR. McCURRY: It has not had a negative impact on the discussions underway here in Washington. If anything, I think that the demonstration that NATO and UNPROFOR together are determined and resolved to carry forward the resolutions enacted by the United Nations is a signal to the parties that the alliance and the West and the international community at large intends to act to move the political dialogue forward and to bring this crisis to an end.
Q Mike, at the NATO summit in January, NATO asked the U.N. to take a look at opening the airport at Tuzla. The U.N. representative there, Akashi, came up with a proposal to try to open it by March 7. NATO planes are authorized to provide close air support if the U.N. requests them.
Are we in consultation with the U.N. on opening the airport now? Do we support this idea of doing it by March 7?
MR. McCURRY: We have been in close consultation with both NATO and the United Nations on the subject of opening Tuzla airport.
As you`ll recall, in January NATO heads of state requested NATO to urgently prepare plans for doing so. That has been a subject of numerous discussions both at the United Nations and within the alliance. I think that the President and others -- and the Secretary himself on the Hill last week -- addressed the question of how you could begin to use the projection of NATO or UNPROFOR force to accomplish those aims. I don`t have anything to add beyond what they said.
Q But is it still the NATO-U.N. plan to do this by March 7?
MR. McCURRY: I think that they`ve so indicated. My understanding is the United Nations has so indicated as well their intent to try to open the airport for humanitarian purposes. We haven`t heard anything differently.
Q This is a totally different question. Why is there to be no photo-op of Strobe Talbott`s swearing-in?
MR. McCURRY: Because we customarily have not had photo-opportunities for officials of the Department who were sworn in. These are by and large family gatherings, and they tend to be nice occasions for the benefit of people who are there. We don`t see them as news-making occasions.
Q You did for James Jones and for Mondale.
MR. McCURRY: I will check and see whether that was a request. We generally leave it up to the person being sworn in to use whatever procedure they prefer.
But, as I say, these are mostly family occasions. They are not occasions in which there`s a great deal of news-making.
Q And while we`re on the subject, why was there no photo-opportunity with the Secretary and the Bosnian peace negotiators this weekend? The United States assigned a rather important priority to getting these peace talks underway. It was unusual that there wouldn`t be a photo-op.
MR. McCURRY: We reserve the right to have photo-opportunities when we want to make those opportunities available. In this case, we chose not to.
Q Thank you.
(Press briefing concluded at 2:05 p.m.)
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