US DEPARTMENT OF STATE OFFICE OF THE SPOKESMAN DAILY PRESS BRIEFING DEPARTMENT OF STATE DAILY PRESS BRIEFING I N D E X Thursday, March 3, 1994 Briefers: Michael McCurry Winston Lord ANNOUNCEMENTS One-year Anniversary of Operation Provide Promise in Bosnia-Herzegovina, UNHCR Washington Contact 1 Asst Sec Lord Briefing on Secretary's Asia Trip . 1 SECRETARY'S TRIP 1,2 Schedule ........................................ 2 Emphasis, U.S. Interests in Region .............. 2 ASEAN Regional Forum ........................... 2 Meeting with CINCPAC, POW/MIA Accounting in Hawaii 2,3 Vietnam Contacts: -- Human Rights, Claims, Liaison Offices ........ 3 Australia: -- Joint State-Defense Talks .................... 3 -- Cooperation in Bilateral Relationship ........ 3 Japan: --Security, Political, Global Partnership........ 3,4 -- Economic Relationship, Trade Talks............ 4 Cambodia: -- ICORC (Int'l Committee on Reconstruction in Cambodia Meeting in Japan), Meetings....... 4,5 China: -- Relationship with U.S: Areas for Progress. 5 North Korea:...................................... 5 Russia: Kozyrev Meeting in Vladivostok........... 5 CHINA Measurements of Progress.......................... 5,6 -- Prison Access, Dissidents/Political Prisoners.. 13,14,15 Requirements/Conditions for MFN Renewal........... 6-7, 13-15 -- Immigration (Jackson-Vanik).................... 6,8 -- Prison Labor................................... 6 Tibet............................................. 8,9 Possible Extension of E.O......................... 8,10 Secretary's Meetings ............................. 13 MTCR Accession.................................... 14 NEW ZEALAND High-Level Contacts, Exchange of Military Info, Alliance ......................................... 9-10 NORTH KOREA Third Round of U.S. Talks on March 21............. 10-11 IAEA Inspections.................................. 10-11 South-North Talks, Team Spirit '94................ 11,14 JAPAN Measurable Target Trade Goals, Framework Agreement 11-12 Secretary's Role, Purpose of Trip................. 12-13 MIDDLE EAST PEACE TALKS Resumption, Secretary's Contacts.................. 15-16 PLO Rep Nabil Shaath Arrival/Meetings............. 15-16 Israeli Cabinet Statement......................... 16 Agenda, Sequencing................................ 16-17 Palestinian Security Requirements................. 16-17, 19 Settlements....................................... 16, 17 UNSC Resolution on Status of Jerusalem............ 18 Violence in the West Bank......................... 19-20 SYRIA Threat Against Jews in Syria...................... 17-18 NEW INDEPENDENT STATES/RUSSIA Focus of U.S. Policy ............................. 20-21 UKRAINE U.S. Position on Status of Crimea................. 21 BOSNIA-HERZEGOVINA U.S. Troops, Peacekeeping Force................... 21-22 Redman Activities................................. 21-22 Bosnia-Croatia Confederation...................... 22 Airstrikes, Sarajevo; Gen Rose Decision........... 23 RUSSIA Secretary's Vladivostok Mtg w/ Kozyrev............ 23 Charge of U.S. Espionage.......................... 23-24
DEPARTMENT OF STATE DAILY PRESS BRIEFING
THURSDAY, MARCH 3, 1994, 1:06 P.M. (ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED)
MR. McCURRY: Good afternoon everybody. I just have a very quick announcement before I introduce our guest. I just wanted to point out that February 28 was the one-year anniversary of Operation Provide Promise, which is the airdrop effort over Bosnia, as many of you know.
Since the beginning of Operation Provide Promise, transport aircraft from the United States, France, and Germany have dropped over 17,000 tons of food, medical supplies, and winterization equipment into various enclaves in Bosnia-Herzegovina. That support has obviously done much to relieve the suffering of those who have been affected by the tragic conflict in the region.
Another note: I think many of you know that we very often pass on to you some statistics that we get from UNHCR on various relief activities in Bosnia-Herzegovina. I understand that much of that relief activity is, of course, on-going. But it would be very helpful for you to have a good contact person at the UNHCR office here in Washington. So if you don't know Barbara Francis, she's a very good source of information. Much of the information that we pass along to you comes from that source. Her phone number is (202) 387-8546.
With that, I'd like to turn the podium over to Assistant Secretary Winston Lord for East Asia and Pacific Affairs. Winston is going to be able to give you a sketch of what the Secretary will be doing on his upcoming trip to Asia. There's a great deal in the news even today that I think reflects the importance of the Secretary's coming trip. And for a good overview of the trip itself, I'll turn it over to Assistant Secretary Lord.
ASSISTANT SECRETARY LORD: Thank you, Mike. Good afternoon. Let me sort of give you some of the main themes of this trip, and then we can go to your questions. With regard to the specific schedule, I understand that the staff will be giving you a rundown after this, so I won't give you every last hour and stop on the trip. But, basically, we're leaving tomorrow, as I think you know, and we'll back probably late on March 14.
We'll start out in Hawaii, go on to Australia, then Japan, then China and then a brief stop at Vladivostok.
This is the Secretary's fourth trip to the Asia Pacific region. I think that underlines once again, as this Administration has from the outset, the importance of this region to American interests. With this group, I've rehearsed that many times, so I won't take up your time now in terms of the shifting trade flows, the relationship to our domestic economy or security interests, and many others.
You know how this region has been highlighted by this Administration, whether it's the Leaders Meeting at APEC or the President's first trip overseas being to to Asia; and the fact, as I say, this will be the fourth trip for the Secretary of State and many other people going out there; the fact that our force presence in Asia is not being cut even as we reduce our defense budget, and we'll soon have as many forces in Asia as we do in Europe, which is a dramatic transformation.
The new regional emphasis on top of our bilateral alliances which are extremely important and other important bilateral relations, but whether it's through APEC on economics or through the ASEAN Regional Forum on security, there is an effort here to build this specific community. Indeed, this July, the Secretary will be going back again to Bangkok, in this case, for the first meeting of the ASEAN Regional Forum, which is an extension of the ASEAN post-Ministerial Conference that many of you have attended. This will mean the inclusion this summer, for the first time, of Vietnam, China, Russia, Laos, and Papua New Guinea.
So there's a lot going on in the region. We think it's a hopeful and dynamic region, although it has its share of problems. And, of course, we believe this trip is particularly timely and important.
The first stop is Hawaii. The Secretary will meet with CINCPAC, Admiral Chuck Larsen. The focus here will be not only a briefing for him of an overview of the region but a first-hand look at our POW/MIA accounting process in Hawaii. The Joint Task Force, General Needham is there, of course, and also the Central Identification Laboratory of the Army which does the forensic examination of remains.
So the press will have a chance to hear of this briefing and see what's going on.
This will underline, I think, both the progress that has been made but also the process in which we carry forward the very important priority of accounting for missing Americans. We do believe that 1993 was the most productive year since the war. You know the rationale for the lifting of the embargo and the establishment of liaison offices that the President announced on February 3.
I might note in passing that we've had two engagements with the Vietnamese recently at the working level in New York: a human rights discussion that Deputy Assistant Secretary for Humanitarian Affairs Nancy Ely-Raphel carried on on February 28. We felt that was a productive discussion, and those discussions will continue -- a regular dialogue on human rights.
Even as we speak, there's been a delegation in Hanoi headed by the Country Director for Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia Affairs, Mr. Hall, and also Mr. Bettauer, Assistant Legal Advisor, and others, discussing the claims issue and discussing the opening of liaison offices. Again, I think progress was made on both of these issues. Indeed, Mr. Hall is staying on to continue talks on the liaison office; and talks on both claims and the liaison office will continue back here. But we think some progress was made in these areas.
After Hawaii, the Secretary goes to Australia. He'll be accompanied by Under Secretary of Defense Frank Wisner. These are the regular every-year-or-two talks, joint State/Defense talks with our Australian friends. We have an extraordinary relationship with Australia. It's very difficult to find any problems at all.
These talks are the centerpiece of our alliance. They'll discuss a broad range of global and regional issues, whether it's as allies through many wars and continuing that alliance; the access to military facilities; growing economic ties; our common views on many arms control missions and issues; the leadership of Australia on regional organizations that I've mentioned (Prime Minister Keating is very important in the APEC process; he visited the President here, and the President certainly benefited from the views on that as well as regional security, the Forum that I mentioned); close cooperation on Cambodia, which has been a major success with both democracies.
So, therefore, this is really just a reaffirmation of our very solid and important bilateral relationship.
From there, the Secretary will go Japan. Again, Under Secretary Wisner will accompany him there as well. He will carry two basic messages to Japan. On the one hand, we have a very broad and productive partnership -- perhaps our most important in the world -- involving security, political, global issues, as well as economics. Indeed, he and Under Secretary Wisner will meet with their counterparts in the first ever sort of joint security consultations at this level to underline the security dimensions of our relationship, as well as meeting, of course, many other Japanese officials -- the Prime Minister and the Foreign Minister, and so on -- during the course of this trip.
We reached a very successful global agenda agreement that Under Secretary Wirth spearheaded. This was lost sight of because of the breakdown of the framework talks but occurred at the same time. We have close cooperation on issues like Korea, Cambodia, etc.
So one message the Secretary will be taking is that this is a very important and broad partnership, most of whose components are in very good shape and its solid.
However, the equally important message he will carry is that the economic dimension of the relationship needs serious attention, which has been clear for some time now and, of course, was made amply clear by the fact that the framework talks did not succeed.
So he will be speaking on behalf of the President. Perhaps by being Secretary of State and emphasizing the economic dimension, he will make even more emphatic our message that we've got to open up the Japanese market and we've got to get at these global imbalances. It's not just a problem with us but with the world in general.
The Secretary will be making a major speech directly to the Japanese audience to get across our point of view to stress these two themes: that the alliance is crucial to us and we have many positive dimensions and we will continue those and that they're not linked to the economic dispute, but that the economic problems are very serious. We've got to move urgently on them. We're willing to listen to the Japanese ideas. We have to fix this part of the relationship. Otherwise, over time, it could infect other parts of the relationship.
While in Japan the Secretary will attend also the International Committee on the Reconstruction of Cambodia; it's called ICORC. It's a meeting of all the national and multinational donors to Cambodia. This will underline, on the one hand, the stunning success of the U.N. operation and above all the courage of the Cambodian people in having free elections, a new constitution, new government, violence down, outside interference down, refugees return to Cambodia -- a major success story -- but, on the other hand, underlining the need for continued international support so that we can continue the Cambodians' heroic efforts toward democracy and prosperity and stability. So the Secretary will be attending that and underlining these themes.
He will also be meeting with the co-Prime Ministers of Cambodia. Indeed, when he goes on to China -- his last stop except for Vladivostok -- he hopes to see King Sihanouk who is not well, as you know, but has made an offer to try to meet with him. We don't know whether that can be worked out or not.
So the Cambodian issue will be underlined on this trip as well, as will the Korean issue, which he'll discuss with our Japanese friends and on his final stop -- namely, China. That will be an important area for discussion there as well.
With China, he will also be carrying the two messages that the President has been signaling to Beijing from the outset of his Administration. Number one, the China-U.S. relationship is extremely important and, as we look ahead over coming decades, increasingly important; that we wish to have constructive relations with a stable and prosperous China. That remains the clear intent and hope of the President.
But the other message, clearly, is that we've got to make progress on some difficult bilateral issues so that we can realize the potential of this relationship. This includes trade issues and non-proliferation, but it also, of course, includes human rights and the need to make more progress on fulfilling the criteria on the President's Executive Order on MFN issued last Spring.
We, in addition, have many international and regional issues to discuss -- and I mentioned Korea for one -- which we will do; but the primary focus of the Secretary's trip -- and it is an urgent task now -- is to make more progress, particularly on the human rights front, so that we can build a more constructive relationship with China.
The final stop is in Vladivostok. I don't know whether you've (to Spokesman) given them any details on that, but it is to meet with the Foreign Minister, as I understand it. Then we'll be back home, I believe, late on March 14.
So with that introduction, I'll be glad to go to your questions.
Q Mr. Secretary, a senior official, who briefed reporters in Beijing yesterday, said that Beijing may be able to show some of the human rights progress needed through pledges rather than specific actions.
The U.S., ever since the President's Executive Order, has said that they had to show overall significant progress, which is defined by Webster as "important, momentous movement forward, including everything." How do pledges fill that definition?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY LORD: First of all, we're looking for actions and not just pledges. I'm not going to get into a scorecard and a checklist of what might be done in what area. There may be some areas where firm intent or firm commitments are very helpful and important. But, obviously, there's going to have to be specific actions. There already has been some progress in recent months. There's got to be more, and this is going to have to involve actions as well as pledges.
Obviously, this was done on a BACKGROUND basis. I suspect that a few illustrations of things which might be helpful have been sort of turned into a suggestion that that's all that's needed or that this is a full menu. I would guard you against such an interpretation. So we are certainly looking for more than pledges. No question about it.
Q The Secretary, in a couple of testimonies on the Hill, has talked about two things that must be done and then five things in which progress must be shown. Can you explain perhaps on the two things, which I think are Jackson-Vanik requirements, whether pledges are enough or whether, in fact, something concrete has to be done?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY LORD: First, if this gets a little arcane, we can give you the text of the Executive Order; but reporters are well informed, as always. There are two absolute conditions and five where there's overall significant progress required.
You'll understand why I don't want to get into a specific negotiating scorecard in public about "here's the bottom line, here's what they have to do, here's what we have to do," and so on. I have to obviously be careful of that so we can try to make the kind of progress and maintain confidence on it.
It's fair to say that the first absolute condition is immigration. For many years now this has come up, as you know, under Jackson-Vanik, even well before 1989. Generally, it was passed through before '89 rather routinely because the Chinese, on the whole, have been meeting the immigration requirement.
There are still some specific cases that we're discussing that we think must be resolved, but I don't want to go into greater detail than that. We're talking about more than pledges, obviously. We're talking about actions.
And then the other absolute condition is the prison labor. As you know, during Secretary Bentsen's trip, there was progress made on that. More visits have taken place or are authorized, and we are in the process of trying to update the Memo of Understanding to make even clearer the direction we're headed.
But in both cases, we're talking about actions and not just pledges.
Q Mr. Secretary, the last time we heard the Secretary testify on this about a week or so ago, he said that at this point he could not recommend that they're in compliance with the Executive Order on these two and then five points. There are just three months to go before the Secretary has to make his recommendation on May 28 or June 3 or something like that.
Is it possible that the Chinese can make real significant progress to satisfy the Executive Order in just these three months, after looking back on the period of several years?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY LORD: The answer is, yes, it is possible; and that's why the Secretary is going to Beijing: to try to make it a reality -- although I would caution you against the outcome of any particular trip. This is a process; it has been intensified since September under the President's comprehensive engagement strategy. We've had many high-level meetings and negotiations. We have made some progress, but there have also been some setbacks which we're concerned about. But there has been some progress as a result of this process; and therefore I would caution you against, as I say, looking at each meeting or each trip and seeing immediately what happens right then and what the scorecard is.
If there's going to be progress, it often will come out over time, in a period after a particular meeting. I think that's important to keep in mind. I'll get to your question.
The answer is, yes, it is possible. What you've got to keep in mind is that everyone is clear, including the most ardent human rights activists in Congress, to recognize that we're not going to transform Chinese society in a matter of a year or a few months. What we're all looking for is a trend, a positive trend.
There have been some positive moves, but also, as I say, there have been some isolated setbacks. There has got to be more progress made. Can it be made in the next three months? Yes. Will it be made? I can't tell you. That's going to be up to the Chinese to respond.
We believe through the strategy of engagement and by setting forth illustratively what needs to be done that we've tried to take Chinese sensitivities into account and it is politically possible for them to do what we've suggested.
They know what has to be done. Mr. Shattuck has just been there for intensive talks and has spelled this out in great detail. So we think it's possible, and we think it's in the Chinese interest to meet us part way here so that we can make the kind of progress required and we can build this kind of relationship I talked about.
Q Can I just follow up?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY LORD: Yes.
Q At the hearing just this week the Secretary and members of Congress opened the possibility that if they do meet the requirements this time that a multi-year MFN or Executive Order could replace the year-to-year Executive Order. The Secretary said such things are possible. Is that something that might be offered to the Chinese?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY LORD: There are a lot of things that have to be answered here. Number one, of course, first we've got to make significant progress in the amount that we have not seen yet.
Number two, anything we'd want to do in this area -- if we wanted to do it -- we would closely work with Congress and make sure there's a joint approach. That has been our hallmark of trying to have unity.
Number three: very frankly, it seems to me you're probably going to have Jackson-Vanik every year no matter what. I don't believe there's a mood in the Congress -- I can't speak for the President at this point -- but I don't believe there's a mood in the Congress to try to remove Jackson-Vanik.
Even if there was tremendous progress, what you would have every year would be an annual review under Jackson-Vanik, which, as I said, before '89 was routine but is anything but routine in recent years since the Tiananmen massacre in 1989.
The issue here is whether we can, as we've indicated we would like to do, move MFN out of the center of debate by making this annual review less contentious and less central to U.S.-Chinese relations. But how specifically that would be done depends, of course, on how far the Chinese come and what the mood of the Congress and the President is.
Q I have another country. Are you still on China? Okay, I'll ask later.
Q What's your reading of the situation in Tibet? Human rights groups are saying that the situation there is worsening. Do you have any --
ASSISTANT SECRETARY LORD: Tibet is a serious situation. It's also difficult to get information there. We do our very best, of course, but it is a more remote area. It is still an unpleasant and an unacceptable situation. It is one of the conditions in the Executive Order, to try to protect the religious and cultural heritage -- I don't have the exact wording.
The Chinese did release two very prominent Tibetan dissidents, which was a positive move. They would point to other things they're doing to try to protect religious culture and heritage. We, of course, don't think that's sufficient. So it remains a serious situation, and we need to see more progress on it.
Q You said you would take questions on other areas in the region, so I would like to ask you about the new U.S.-New Zealand relationship. How has that been implemented since your statement of a few weeks ago? Will top-level New Zealand officials be coming here, or American officials going there? And will New Zealand still have to get its military information through the Australians, as it has been the last few years?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY LORD: We immediately initiated it because the official conveying of the new policy was done by Under Secretary for Political Affairs, Peter Tarnoff, to the New Zealand Ambassador. So by the very fact that we met at that level, we've already implemented the policy in that sense.
The answer is, yes, I would envisage in both directions there will now be people above the "lowly" level of Assistant Secretary who will be talking to the New Zealanders on political and security issues -- that includes military officials as well as civilian officials.
I don't know of any specific trips that are planned at this point, but we envisage this process intensifying.
When we announced this policy, as you know, we made it very clear that this did not signify a return to the Alliance. We would welcome that, but that requires action by New Zealand. We hope that the more intensive discussions and the greater exposure to our political and security perspectives that this new contact policy will entail would help us to make progress with New Zealand on that issue. But everyone is familiar -- and I know you are -- with what has to be done before we can have New Zealand participate in any Alliance-related activities.
As far as military information -- again, we're not going back to anything that they would have gotten under the Alliance unless they can fulfill the Alliance responsibilities. I'm not sure they get all their information from the Australians, but we would not change the sharing of information beyond what it was before.
Q Was any consideration given by Secretary Christopher to visit New Zealand on this trip?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY LORD: No. But it's something that might well be considered in the future. This trip has been in the works for some time. He's got to be back here when he's getting back here. There just isn't time on this trip. I certainly wouldn't rule it out in the future.
In any event, we're very pleased with this step forward. We think New Zealand is a very good friend. We have this particular problem in the Alliance, and that's why we're not touching any Alliance relationships. But we are pleased to conduct these higher-level exchanges with them on these issues. We hope we'll make progress, therefore, on the core issue that remains.
Q Mr. Secretary, is the possibility of extending the Executive Order for another year if China makes some progress but not enough...
ASSISTANT SECRETARY LORD: These are good questions, and you have sympathy for poor answers, I hope. We don't want to get into a scorecard. Frankly, we don't know where we're going to be by May or June. It's very important we make more progress. That's a sine qua non for any kind of reasonably attractive outcome -- that we've got to make more progress.
What we'll be able to do depends on how much progress we make. That's about all I can say.
Q Mr. Secretary, could you discuss the significance of today's events with North Korea and what this portends for the future?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY LORD: What is happening is that we're now -- assuming two things happen -- it looks like we're going to get to a third round on March 21 of the more formal talks with the North Koreans. We've had working-level talks. That does not mean we've gotten at the core problem which still remains -- the two undeclared sites and the other issues that you're familiar with. But it gets the process going again.
The reason we're able to do that is as a result of these inspections -- which the North Koreans have agreed to of the seven declared sites -- we would expect and hope to make sure there's continuity of safeguards -- namely, that there hasn't been diversion and that we can continue to talk to North Korea without any slippage back -- because the whole principle here is you practice patient diplomacy but you don't do it if the North Koreans are taking advantage of it to advance their nuclear program. That's why the continuity of safeguards is very important.
These inspections have to be successfully carried out. We imagine they're supposed to take a couple of weeks, according to the IAEA. If that happens, and if the North-South envoy exchange happens, then we will go to a third round, and then the Team Spirit decision will kick in.
So it's a positive step. I understand the talks between South and North were not exactly a love fest today, but they usually aren't. They'll meet again, I believe, next week, and they'll have to keep discussing that issue.
This is potentially a positive day, but I don't want to inflate its significance. We're just talking about getting the process of negotiations back on track. Even that's going to require all these pieces falling into place in the next few weeks.
Q At what level will the talks that go forward on March 21 be at?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY LORD: I believe Mr. Gallucci will again head it; and my Deputy, Mr. Hubbard, will be the Deputy on that.
Q On the same subject. Have you had any read on today's visit by the IAEA inspectors?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY LORD: The only reading I've got is that they visited the two most important of the seven sites, and I've heard of nothing that's gone wrong. But it's very sketchy. As far as I know, they're off to a practical start, but I can't confirm that. I got this verbally, and I'd rather not mislead you with imprecise information. I've not heard of any hitches so far; but, of course, we're just starting out.
Q Win, could I ask you a question about Japan -- on the second, more difficult area? Has the United States position on statistical targets, goals, or whatever, of objective criteria, weakened at all? Or is that dialogue still stuck on whether the Japanese will accept what they consider to be targets?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY LORD: The dialogue is still stuck. We're willing to listen to Japanese ideas and proposals, as will Secretary Christopher when he goes there.
Our position has not weakened. Our position, perhaps, has at times has been either innocently misunderstood or willfully distorted -- take your pick -- depending on who we're talking about.
The fact is, we're not talking quotas; we're not talking automatic semiconductor-like agreements; we're not talking firm numerical targets. We're talking about what's in the Framework Agreement which the Japanese agreed to, which is objective criteria.
What this means -- and what the Japanese agreed to -- is that we can no longer rely, as we have for ten years through 30-plus agreements, on adjectives. We've got to have some way to measure results. We're looking for results. We indicated before the breakdown of the talks that we're willing to be flexible on what kind of criteria and how many are used. But we do insist, and we continue to insist, that we have some way of judging whether an agreement is being successful or not. That is a lot different than managed trade, quotas, and many other things that one hears about.
So our position has been steady all along. Unfortunately, what was agreed to at the Framework, the Japanese weren't prepared to fulfill. We hope to make progress on it. We are willing to listen to the Japanese on it, but we haven't made progress since then.
We have great respect -- I want to make this clear, as the President did in his press conference -- for Prime Minister Hosokawa. He is clearly trying to move Japan in the right direction, whether it's political reform or deregulation. He has taken -- and his government -- some courageous decisions, like on rice and the construction industry. But none of this can allow us to put off what is a serious problem on the economic front, which we want to fix for the global economy -- not just for bilateral relations -- and for our overall partnership with Japan.
Q Can I just follow-up? Is Christopher going there as a negotiator or is he just delivering these messages that you talk about, and the negotiation is still in the hands of Kantor and --
ASSISTANT SECRETARY LORD: Obviously, the Secretary of State would be pleased to hear any ideas, but he's not going as a negotiator because there's nothing to negotiate about at this point. We both agreed -- as part of a more mature relationship, by the way -- not to paper over our disagreements, to recognize that we didn't have a success here -- and we weren't close to one, by the way.
So we've made it clear that we're willing to listen to Japanese proposals. The Secretary will be carrying good will, but he won't be carrying any specific proposals that I'm aware of.
He is going for a variety of reasons, which I think I already mentioned -- to highlight the other parts of our relationship, including the security dimension; to talk directly to the Japanese audiences, which don't always get our point of view as cogently and clearly as we would hope; as well as to carry the President's and the Administration's message on the economic front along the lines that I've mentioned -- and there's the Cambodian dimension as well.
So there are many reasons to go, including discussions on North Korea and Cambodia and some of these other issues.
Q Back on China, if I may. You have said a couple of times here that there has been some progress in recent months. Could you tell us what that progress is?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY LORD: When there is progress, we neither want to inflate its significance nor denigrate it. If the Chinese make a step, you want to acknowledge it so that there's encouragement for further steps. We've reported to Congress so that they understand, as we go along, what progress is being made. We don't suddenly go up in May and say, "By the way, we forgot to tell you about progress in February." But we also don't want to exaggerate its significance.
I can't give you a full list because some of these are in sort of an ambiguous formulation stage that holds promise, but is yet to be directly translated into action.
You're familiar with their agreement to hold discussions with the Red Cross about visits to prisons. They've had some serious discussions with the Red Cross. We want to see further specific movement on that front; but that's a step forward and potentially a very important one.
There has been some movement on immigration cases, but others remain, as I mentioned earlier. They have released some dissidents. On the other hand, they've also apparently arrested some. So we're making it very clear that in addition to the need for more progress, we cannot afford to see slippage in other areas.
The prison labor issue got positive treatment during Secretary Bentsen's trip. So these are some of the areas of progress in recent months, but it's clearly not enough yet. But it does suggest that the present engagement strategy has shown some dividends.
Q Will he be meeting with any dissidents when he's in China?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY LORD: We don't have the full schedule worked out. As you know, Assistant Secretary Shattuck did when he was there. I'm sure he'll be meeting with various sectors of Chinese society; but I don't have his full schedule.
Q Can you shed any light on the report that the Chinese may be about to change their law on counter-revolutionary activity? And would you expect that that would occasion a release of prisoners that have been jailed under the old law?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY LORD: I saw that story. I find it very interesting. Frankly, I have no independent suggestions that that's going to happen. It would obviously be very positive if it did happen. It would be even more positive if that meant people being released. We feel very strongly that -- it's universal legal standards -- that people that are imprisoned just for their beliefs shouldn't be called counter-revolutionaries. They shouldn't be in prison.
Q Do you have any indication that the Chinese are ready to join the NPT, that they might do it soon?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY LORD: They are in the NPT.
Q The MTCR. I'm sorry.
ASSISTANT SECRETARY LORD: The MTCR. We are carrying on negotiations. They did agree to negotiate on the issue of non-proliferation, including the question of the M-11 sanctions and the MTCR. There were some discussions here in Washington. We didn't make much progress, but we laid out our positions.
Secretary Christopher will be discussing this in Beijing. The present plans are to have Under Secretary Davis with him as well as other experts on this issue. The Chinese have agreed, in principle, to further talks; and we hope to have that fixed so that the experts can meet as well.
So these negotiations are continuing, but I can't say there's been any concrete progress yet.
Q On the Team Spirit exercise, there have been various accounts coming out of Korea, but the final decision on that will depend on what -- the conclusion of this round of inspections?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY LORD: Satisfactory completion of the inspections and the exchange of envoys between North and South.
Q Let me just squeeze one in. Before the Seattle meeting, there was this kind of diplomatic dance. The Chinese talked about ICRC if we came up with the computer. We're now in March on the ICRC. I mean, you know, what you just said is what they said before in Seattle.
ASSISTANT SECRETARY LORD: It's something we've pointed out to the Chinese. Since then they have had some discussions with the Red Cross, and I think you have to understand the process here. One reason the Red Cross is so effective and so credible around the world is that it jealously guards its negotiations with individual countries. There's obviously sensitivities involved.
They have very strict criteria. They will not visit countries if they think it's just going to be a bunch of Potemkin villages or they're going to be circumscribed. So often their talks with a country will take a considerable amount of time because their conditions are very strict. That's why when they do get in there, it's very significant.
Therefore, I don't think it's surprising. We want to see faster progress. We want to see some concrete movement. But it is not surprising that it's taking some time between the Chinese and the Red Cross to work out the specific modalities.
They have had concrete discussions. But, again, it's hard to get a full reading of those for the reasons I've mentioned. They're kept quite confidential. We are told that there are still problems, obviously, but some progress has been made. But I agree with you. We think that this was a very significant move when it was suggested many months ago; but at least publicly there hasn't been much further movement, and we would encourage and urge the Chinese in this important area to show us more concrete movement.
Q Thank you.
MR. McCURRY: I thank Assistant Secretary Lord, since he did, I hope, 90 percent of the briefing -- 99 percent of the briefing. (Laughter) Anything else?
Q What can you tell us about the Secretary's current conversations about getting the peace talks back on schedule? When do you expect Nabil Sha'ath to come in for his meeting?
MR. McCURRY: The Secretary, as you know, has been in very close and direct contact with the parties over the last several days. I think you're aware of his conversations with Prime Minister Rabin and Chairman Arafat on Tuesday.
I believe he also had a conversation with Ambassador Rabinovich this morning, and I think he plans to speak to Prime Minister Rabin again -- in fact, may have already done so.
In addition to that, I believe the White House has indicated the President talked to King Hussein yesterday. There have been a variety of contacts by individual members of our peace team as well. All of those conversations in one way or another have been focused on taking the steps necessary to get the discussions back on track.
Nabil Sha'ath arrives late today and will probably meet with our U.S. peace team tonight. He's scheduled to meet with the Secretary tomorrow morning. I think there will probably be some additional sessions with our peace team tomorrow as well.
So that's where things stand. Obviously, we don't have a lot of information at this point about the presentation that we expect from the PLO, but we certainly will be willing to engage them. Much of our thinking and views on how the United States views the discussions and the need to get the peace talks back on track were reflected in the comments that the Secretary has made the last two days on the Hill. So I don't have a lot more to add to the testimony that he gave you the last two days.
Q With all those conversations with Arafat, you have a pretty good idea, don't you, what the PLO wants? There seem to be two main things -- you know, disarm the settlers and send international observers. Could you give us some idea if the Administration is open to such suggestions?
MR. McCURRY: The Secretary, if I'm not mistaken, testified yesterday that it's certainly our expectation that Prime Minister Rabin will carry out the commitments the Government of Israel has made to improve security for the Palestinians, and we certainly believe that it's important that prompt and effective action in that regard be taken.
But we'll wait to hear the envoy's direct presentation. We certainly will be watching closely and seeing what type of progress Israel makes as it addresses the measures that were adopted by the Cabinet over this past weekend.
Q Yesterday the Secretary was asked about the Palestinian demand that the settlements and Jerusalem be moved up to -- up the agenda to be taken up immediately. The Secretary answered that Jerusalem is a matter for the final stage of the negotiations.
He didn't say anything about possibly moving the settlements up the list. What is the current position on that?
MR. McCURRY: I don't think there's any different view than the one that we've had -- reflected often here -- about the sequence in which the issues are addressed. They are very carefully addressed in the Declaration itself, and I'm not aware of any change in our views on the importance of following through on the implementation of the Declaration, following the agenda specified by the Declaration.
Q Michael, the Secretary said also yesterday and the day before yesterday that the Palestinians need more security, more guarantees. Does this mean additional steps taken by Israel now, or does it mean a system which would provide more security in the future?
MR. McCURRY: There are two answers to that. There needs to be prompt and effective action now to prevent innocent Palestinian civilians from being attacked and murdered by extremist settlers. I think the Secretary was very clear on that.
But then in the larger sense, there needs to be long-lasting improvements in the security situation of the Palestinians, and the best way to achieve that is by fully implementing the Declaration and getting on with the process of bringing peace to the territories.
Q If I may follow up: Is it your understanding that the Israelis have not made enough now to guarantee proper and effective -- that the actions taken so far by Israel are not proper and effective?
MR. McCURRY: I'm not characterizing the action they've taken so far as being effective or ineffective. I'm saying that certainly there are measures that were outlined by the Israeli Cabinet that can be taken, and the United States believes they should be taken.
Q Mike, does this Administration perhaps think that some of the -- quote, "some" of what Rabin has called the political settlements might be an obstacle to resuming the negotiations?
MR. McCURRY: We have, I think, addressed ourselves to the question of settlements generally in the past and the obstacles they do present to peace, but I don't have anything newer than that. I think that it's clear that both parties are attempting to address the issue of settlements now. We wish they would address those issues within the context of the discussions on implementing the Declaration.
Q Mike, what do you know about a threat against Jews in Syria?
MR. McCURRY: I am aware that a pamphlet has been circulated, and I understand that the Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations has released what I think is a translation of this pamphlet, which has clearly got a great deal of inflammatory and despicable language.
However, we are looking into that now through the Embassy and trying to find out more about the authenticity of the document. I just don't have anything at this point on that. If we get something on that later today, we'll certainly post it, but they are checking that out.
Q Yes, but you said -- there is a pamphlet?
MR. McCURRY: There's a release --
Q There's a report of a pamphlet.
MR. McCURRY: There's a report of a pamphlet from the Conference of Presidents, and I'd suggest that they are certainly very often a reliable source of information. You can check further with them, but we are trying to independently verify that and see if we can find out anything at all about the group that is referenced in the translation that we see.
Q I mean, I've spent hours on this already today, so I understand what they are saying, but I thought the State Department can't verify there is such a -- ever heard of such a group nor knows such a pamphlet exists on its own. You're not saying you know that, do you?
MR. McCURRY: I'm not saying that we know that or know that such a pamphlet exists. I said that we're looking into it, and we will post something further if we get it. We are certainly aware of the press release the conference has put out.
Q In the past, the United States has gone along with language in U.N. resolutions that includes East Jerusalem in the occupied territories. What's the Clinton Administration position on that?
MR. McCURRY: Our position on the general issue is unchanged, and our work on the text of the pending resolution continues. At this time I don't think there's an agreement among the Security Council members on the text of a resolution, and I think they're going to continue formal sessions -- it looks like they had a formal session last night. They will probably have additional sessions coming up on the text of the resolution they are attempting to draft.
Q But is it the position of the United States now that resolutions dealing with the occupied territories not include East Jerusalem?
MR. McCURRY: We don't have any change at the moment from the positions that we have reflected in most recent debates on that question. Those are still authoritative views expressed on those questions.
Q I thought the Secretary told Senator Mack the other day that the U.S. is working against any such language -- language including Jerusalem.
MR. McCURRY: We have done so in the past, that's why I'm saying --
Q I think he meant now.
MR. McCURRY: -- there's no change from the position we've taken in the past in light of the peace process itself, and our views on those resolutions follow consistently the views that we've taken in the past when these same issues have arisen before the U.N.
Q Do you know if he discussed the resolution with Arafat, as we are hearing?
MR. McCURRY: Earlier in the week when they talked?
Q They haven't talked in the last couple of days, so it would be earlier.
MR. McCURRY: I believe they did. I think Chairman Arafat raised it, if I'm not mistaken, saying that they were looking to get a favorable resolution.
Q On a different subject, there were --
Q No, no. Same subject, please. Mike, you had mentioned that the Israelis need to take action to prevent innocent Palestinians from radical Israeli settlers. What does the United States Government feel in terms of -- we can say that the bulk of Israelis living in the West Bank and Gaza are law abiding citizens. What actions is the Israeli Government allowed to take to protect innocent Israelis living in the West Bank and Gaza?
MR. McCURRY: To take proper law enforcement measures that are taken by any government protecting the safety and welfare of its citizens, but that goes without saying. The United States, of course, has on numerous occasions indicated that we call on all sides to exercise moderation and restraint, to give the peace process itself a chance.
Q A follow-up to that: Based on what we see on TV, can you say that the Palestinians are exercising any sort of restraint in the streets right now?
MR. McCURRY: It's hard to say that many of the parties are exercising restraint. There's a great deal of violence on the part of both sides, including settlers and including Palestinian residents, and that has got to stop. Ending that cycle of violence is precisely what the discussions here in Washington are about.
Q Has the United States encouraged Israel not to use live ammunition?
MR. McCURRY: I don't know the answer to that. I'll try to find out.
Q Last one on what the Israelis have done or not done. So far I guess the Israeli authorities have arrested two extremist settlers. Are you urging the Israeli Government to do more in that respect?
MR. McCURRY: I think I addressed that earlier.
Q You've got a couple of leaders from the newer republics coming in to visit in the next few days. Can you say whether that -- how that relationship will play out? If there is a change in the focus from Russia to broaden it to some of the republics?
MR. McCURRY: No, I wouldn't say that at all. In fact, I think even on the President's most recent trip to Russia, he's made stops in the region. Certainly, the Secretary, when he's traveled, has made stops. We discuss often the emergence of democracy and market economics broadly in the Newly Independent States of the former Soviet Union. They each have their own political dynamic. They each have their own security issues.
Certainly there's a difference between Ukraine and Georgia, for example, as you measure the dynamic that both Chairman Shevardnadze and President Kravchuk must deal with. So there is really an enormous complexity as we watch this transformation take place, and a very important need for the United States to consistently ally itself with those who are seeking to reform and to bring about democracy and market economics.
Q But does the fact of their visit increase the significance in how we consider them?
MR. McCURRY: Oh, I think any visit by a head of state or head of government, meeting with the President certainly raises the significance. In the case of Ukraine, it's a very important visit. It comes at a moment in which we're working on the denuclearization issues. In the case of Georgia, it's a moment in which that country has been ravaged by internal violence and fighting.
So I think in both cases it certainly elevates the importance we attach to the transformation taking place in the Newly Independent States.
Q Mike, does the United States have a position on the current dispute in Crimea as to who the Crimea belongs to?
MR. McCURRY: We do, and that will be reflected -- I think I'd like to leave that for the discussions that will come up in the next couple of days. We certainly recognize the territorial integrity of Ukraine, particularly as it relates to Crimea, but I think that will be a subject that I know President Clinton and President Kravchuk will most likely address.
Q Mike, on Bosnia, there have been some fresh criticism today by Akashi and Cot on the failure of the United States to provide some peacekeeping troops in Bosnia, given the fact that now there's this newly energized effort towards peace. How do you respond to that?
MR. McCURRY: I don't have any different view than the one that's been expressed very often, including yesterday by the Secretary. We have a very determined view about the role that we can play. We are playing a very effective role diplomatically, and we've indicated militarily we've done enormous amounts through NATO and through the provision of humanitarian aid.
But I think the United Nations and other partners that we have in the world community are well aware of our views on the use of U.S. ground forces. The President has been clear on that. The Secretary has been clear on that. And the fact that we are more engaged in the diplomatic effort doesn't change those views.
Q Can you bring us up to date on Ambassador Redman? Is he going to be going to Vienna tomorrow?
MR. McCURRY: He has actually departed today, I believe, for Vienna, and he -- that's why he's not returning your calls, right?
Q He's out of the office.
MR. McCURRY: He's out of the country.
Q Will he be leading those efforts -- that transitional committee?
MR. McCURRY: He will be very intensely involved in it. It will be more directly between the Croatian and Bosnian Government parties themselves. But they will start meeting tomorrow in Vienna. They're going to work, I think as he has indicated before, very rapidly on trying to complete a text of the confederation agreement that was signed here in principle earlier in the week and trying to get those documents done by mid-March.
They will also, while they are there, convene the first meeting of the military transition group, which the U.S. will also participate in. That's working with the military commanders of the Bosnians, the Bosnian Croats and the Croatians, along with the United Nations to develop plans for the disengagement of military forces and the eventual integration of the two armed forces. That's obviously further down the road. The immediate task is to get about the military planning that would effectively result in the disengagement of the two sides that have been fighting very recently.
Q Back to the peacekeeping problem, if the United States does not wish to send peacekeeping troops but the Russians are now there and they're long-time friends with the Serbs, does the United States have any objection to the Islamic countries and Turkey sending troops there, as they have proposed but have been sort of refused partly because of American objections?
MR. McCURRY: That is not a determination the United States makes. It's really a United Nations issue. The United Nations has addressed the need for additional peacekeepers and has determined criteria in which contributing nations can do the most. It would probably not be --
Q Is that something that the United States has raised objections to -- sending Islamic troops? Does the United States have any objections if the United Nations want to?
MR. McCURRY: I do not know for a fact that the United States has raised objections to participation by Islamic nations. I believe that's something that the United Nations itself has determined. We do recognize the need for additional peacekeepers consistent with the call of Commander Rose who's on the ground there, and we certainly applaud those steps that are taken by troop-contributing nations.
Q The Ames case is still making waves. There's now a Russian --
Q Wait a minute, on Bosnia. Are you in concert with General Rose's position not to call air strikes following the shelling of Sarajevo or those mortar attacks?
MR. McCURRY: We have to rely on the accounts that we get from the ground, based on what we hear from UNPROFOR and from their evaluation of the situation. For example, there was a flurry of reports, I think earlier today or last night, that there was shelling -- mortar shelling in Sarajevo that turned out to be RPGs -- rocket propelled grenades -- so we do look to the commanders who are there on the ground to assess what the situation is and to report back to both the United Nations and to NATO on what measures can be taken in furtherance of the NATO objectives and the United Nations objectives.
Q So you're not uncomfortable with this decision?
MR. McCURRY: We're not uncomfortable with the performance of General Rose in the least. He's been doing a very brave and effective job.
Q On the question of Bosnia also, is the meeting with Kozyrev in Vladivostok concerning Bosnia, and can you give us any details as to what he and the Secretary are going to discuss?
MR. McCURRY: I suspect -- I mean, we're at a moment where there's a great deal to discuss with Russia. We have a number of issues in which we are working with them closely. The Middle East is certainly one. Ambassador Redman has been in discussions with Deputy Foreign Minister Churkin about the Bosnian peace process. That's another one that I'm sure will come up.
When Secretary Christopher and Foreign Minister Kozyrev meet, they usually have a very broad range of issues on their agenda, and they discuss them very directly.
Q Can I ask about the Ames aftermath? Now there's an account, a report, an accusation by Russia, an American diplomatic tried to enlist the help of two Russians.
MR. McCURRY: I saw the report, but I don't have any --
Q I'll settle for the name.
MR. McCURRY: Don't have anything on it.
Q Because there's no such person listed, apparently. Kelly Ann Hamilton. Is there someone in the State Department named Kelly Ann Hamilton?
MR. McCURRY: Don't have anything on that.
Q Can't identify the --
MR. McCURRY: Don't know. I'll check.
MR. McCURRY: And then bury the question somewhere.
Q Thank you.
(The briefing concluded at 1:59 p.m.)
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