US DEPARTMENT OF STATE OFFICE OF THE SPOKESMAN DAILY PRESS BRIEFING DEPARTMENT OF STATE DAILY PRESS BRIEFING I N D E X Monday, March 7, 1994 Briefer: Christine Shelly CHINA Secretary's Visit to China ...................... 1 Detentions/Releases ............................. 1-2 MIDDLE EAST PEACE PROCESS Implementation of Declaration of Principles ..... 2 -- International Security Force in Occupied Territories/US Position .................. 2 -- Discussions at U.N/in Cairo .......... 3-5 -- Israeli Pledge of Security for Palestinians . 5-6 FORMER YUGOSLAVIA UN Military Personnel/US Assistance ............. 6-7 Peace Talks ..................................... 7 -- Bosnian/Croat Federation Talks .............. 7 -- Amb. Redman's to Visit Belgrade ............. 7-9 Update on Fighting .............................. 7-8 HAITI Four Friends Draft Text before Security Council . 9 Aristide Rejects UN Offer of Cooperation ........ 9 Parliamentary Delegation's Peace Plan ........... 9-10 NORTH KOREA IAEA Inspections ................................ 10-11 VIETNAM US Asks Hong Kong to Postpone Repatriation of Four Vietnamese in Response to Law Suit ....... 11-12 INDIA President Clinton's Letter To Congressman Blute . 12-13
DEPARTMENT OF STATE DAILY PRESS BRIEFING
MONDAY, MARCH 7, 1994, 1:17 P.M. (ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED)
MS. SHELLY: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. I have no announcements, so we'll go directly to your questions.
Q Could we ask you about China and the continuing suppression of dissidents? Specifically, will the Secretary of State meet with dissidents when he goes to China?
MS. SHELLY: I can't shed a lot of light on that at this point. The Secretary is certainly watching very, very closely what happens with respect to the dissidents and the detentions. I think that he will factor in what he will be doing in China. He will take all of this into account and decide what is really the best thing for him to do in terms of treatment of the issues and all of the contacts that he has.
As you know, when the Secretary is on the road and there are issues that are being worked by him, both in the stops which precede the visit as well as the visit itself, I'm not able to really touch on the policy questions at stake. On that particular one, as to who he meets with and the nature of his deliberations, I'm really not in a position to get into any detail on that.
What I can do is just try to bring you up to a date a little bit factually on where we are, or what we know about the detentions.
What I understand to be the case is that within the last week, at least 14 political activists have been detained in China. And by our most recent count, all but four have been released.
We've been informed by the Chinese Government that three of these four may face criminal charges. I've got some information about the names of the individuals in question; and I think if you have some specific questions on those, what we know about who has been detained and who has been released, I can either take those questions now or else you can refer them to the Press Office after the briefing.
I would just note in closing, we call upon the Chinese Government to release those who are still detained and who, to the best of our knowledge, the only crimes that they have committed is they have made use of their universally recognized rights to freedom of speech and assembly in carrying their peaceful political activities.
Q The stop is still on, though, as far as you know? He is going to China?
MS. SHELLY: As far as I know.
Q The Greek Government declared that we will continue with the strict embargo imposed three weeks ago against the Republic of Macedonia. Your Administration expressed a big concern about this step. Do you have any estimation how long the Macedonian feeble economy can support this special war without a result in the destabilization not only of the country but in the whole region?
MS. SHELLY: I don't have anything for you on that. I'll look into the issue that you've raised and see if there's anything we might like to say on that later.
Q Do you have any comment about a Russian tendency to have more impact on the Macedonia (inaudible).
MS. SHELLY: No, I don't have anything on that either. I'll also look into that.
Q Christine, on the Middle East, the Israeli Minister of Assimilation -- I think the Minister of Immigration, effectively -- made a couple of statements recently where he said he was putting pressure on Washington to help stop the immigration of members of Jewish extremist groups like the JDL. He indicated also that there was not much collaboration on this issue.
What have the Israelis asked that the United States do, and what is the level of cooperation on that?
MS. SHELLY: I don't have any information on that. I'll have to look into it.
Q Also on the Middle East. Can you tell us where the United States stands on the idea of participation in the multinational force such as the one proposed now by the European Union for the occupied territories?
MS. SHELLY: I don't have anything new for you on that. Are you talking in the context -- are you asking about the international presence issue. What's the context of your question?
Q However you describe it. It would be an international presence. Some call it MNF, some call it a U.N. peacekeeping force and other formulas as well.
What I was trying to find out is where the United States stands; would it be willing to see something like that; and would it be willing to participate?
MS. SHELLY: There are a couple of aspects here. I'll share with you what I've got. First of all, on the question of the international monitors or some of these other ideas that have been talked about, the U.S. position on this is exactly that which the Secretary has stated on several recent previous occasions. That is, that we still consider that this is a matter viewed in the context of the Declaration of Principles which contains the provision regarding the temporary international or foreign presence, as agreed on by the parties. Again, I underscore the "as agreed on by the parties."
The Secretary had said in his testimony last week that if there was something that we can do along these lines to be helpful, we certainly will. The subjects have been in discussion with the Israelis, with the Palestinians. We've made very clear what our position is in our conversation with both; basically, our position remains as it was.
I think you're referring to some discussions and some ideas that have been put forward in the context of Security Council deliberation on a resolution. And on this, there's not, I think, a lot that I can say.
There have been discussions up in New York. There is no agreement among the parties on the text of a Security Council resolution at this point. The resolution certainly remains very much on the Council agenda, and the negotiations are continuing.
But as to the specific issues, the language, the issues, as these discussions are on and these are something which is being worked really very actively, I'm not in a position today to get into details on the specific contents.
Q I realize that discussions are going on in New York, but there are discussions also going on in Cairo with the current President of the European Commission bringing an idea for a international force. Has the United States taken part in that discussion?
MS. SHELLY: The United States maintains a dialogue on the Middle Eastern issues and does consult with the European Union members.
As to your specific question about this proposal and what's happening in Cairo, I'll have to look into that. I don't have anything specific on that.
Q You referred to this as "in discussion." That's an odd structure. Can you say straight out whether the United States has discussed with Israel the idea of an international presence?
MS. SHELLY: I think that the United States has discussed exactly what the whole question of some of these proposals are -- the proposals for international monitors, and things like that. The Israelis know that the United States is certainly very interested in being helpful in terms of addressing this issue. But the U.S. position on this is what I described, which is the support for a presence in the context of the Declaration of Principles.
Q And which you know -- although you haven't said -- is limited to Gaza and Jericho. The Israelis don't seem to appreciate discussion of this. They're against the proposal. So the fact -- I'm trying to figure out if the U.S. discussing it with the Israelis, which begins to suggest maybe the United States is pushing it a little bit with the Israelis.
So let me try again. Let me put it a different way. Is the United States talking with the Israelis the idea of expanding the concept that's in the declaration for a very limited civilian presence to oversee the self-rule operation, once it begins, to the entirely different expanded view of having international security forces on the West Bank, throughout the West Bank, and in Gaza, as Nabil Sha'at last Friday said he has U.S. support for, but maybe he doesn't?
MS. SHELLY: The latter part of your point about the comments, I actually went over the transcript of what he did say pretty carefully. I think that there was perhaps a little bit of a jumping-to-conclusion. I think we also said very clearly, when we checked on this point and came back to it somewhat later in the day, that our position on the presence was exactly as we had describe it before.
As to getting into a more detailed discussion or presentation or articulation of what has been discussed between us and the Israelis, I'm not prepared to get into it at this point.
Q Can we take another tack on that? If the parties agreed to an international force, would the United States be willing to participate -- after the answer to that question -- or does the United States have any sort of position if there's an international force on what countries should participate in this force?
MS. SHELLY: Again, you're getting way out in front. Some of which you're asking is certainly very hypothetical. I've gone as far as I'm going to go on this one.
Q Do you have anything more to say on the State Department request of the Justice Department and maybe other agencies to look into American support -- the legality of American support, for Kach and other Jewish extremist organizations, or such extremist organizations?
And, further, could you tell me whether there is any consideration that Kach could be named as a terrorist organization? And if not, why not?
MS. SHELLY: I addressed this on Friday, and I don't have anything to add to what I said on this on Friday.
Q You said you'd have more to say in a few days?
MS. SHELLY: I said I expected, in due course, to have more to say. I didn't say I would have more on Monday.
Q Is there nothing further?
MS. SHELLY: No, nothing since last Friday.
Q How about the issue of the terrorism report which is now being drafted and to be released next month? Is there any consideration being given as to putting Kach or any such organization under the listing as terrorist organizations?
MS. SHELLY: Again, any pending reports that we might have in preparation, we certainly don't show our hand in indicating what's likely to be on it or not.
Q You did with the Sudan?
MS. SHELLY: I'll look into this. If there's any light we can shed on this particular point later this afternoon --
Q As to whether Kach comes under the definition of "terrorist organizations."
MS. SHELLY: I will look into it. I'm not formally taking the question.
Q On Bosnia: Any concern --
Q Just one more. The Secretary took the opportunity a couple of times after the Hebron killings to praise Prime Minister Rabin's stand as magnificent, but he kind of urged him to follow through on the security steps that Israel said it was going to take.
How does the U.S. assess the status of those measures now? Only a couple of these extremists have been found and arrested and only a few have been disarmed.
MS. SHELLY: I think it's probably still a little bit early to give a full assessment of that. We made it clear when the tragedy occurred that it was our expectation that Prime Minister Rabin would carry out the commitments that the Government of Israel made to curb the activities of the militant settlers and to improve security for the Palestinians.
We think, certainly, it's very important that prompt and effective action be taken. I don't think it's an issue that is appropriate to get into a kind of scorecard of discussion of specific measures. Clearly, the overall issue of providing adequate security for Palestinians and for Israelis to work toward a peaceful resolution of their differences is extremely important, and we remain in very close consultation with the parties on the issue.
Q On Bosnia, where there seems to be -- also some terrible things are going on, like certain renewed Serbs attacks, pressure on Tuzla, but you have U.N. commanders stretched by not having sufficient forces on the ground. The U.S., of course, says it's exempted, it's excluded. Does the Administration have a view where these people are supposed to come from, or does it think the U.N. has enough peacekeeping forces out there to get the job done?
MS. SHELLY: I think, again, the subject of how many troops are needed and exactly what the tasks are for these troops and how any internal adjustments to this might be made, I really think that that's much more appropriately a question for UNPROFOR rather than it is for the United States.
The United States position on the troop question, I think, is extremely well known. Our position remains unchanged. That is certainly not to suggest that we are indifferent or not engaged.
Certainly, we are exercising very strong engagement and certainly leadership in this, as I think was evidenced last week by the signing of the agreement that took place in Washington and the continuation of the peace talks in Vienna.
I would also note, certainly, that the United States has been an extremely active participant through NATO in a lot of the U.N. resolutions which have sought to bring an end to the crisis; certainly, to try to bring about a cease-fire and stop the fighting; U.S. participation in the maritime monitoring in the Adriatic, U.S. participation in the enforcement of the "no-fly" zone.
There has been a lot of participation and certainly a lot of political engagement with a view to trying to find a solution to the problem. But as to the position of the U.S. ground troops in Bosnia at this point, the position remains unchanged.
Q To carry that further, are there any new concerns about reports in the last few days that the peace process on the ground, at least, seems to be losing momentum?
MS. SHELLY: First of all, the atmosphere for the current round of talks in Vienna, which I think is a good indication of where things are, the atmosphere on those is very positive. Both of the sides on this are working very hard, and we hope that we will be able to come up with a text of the constitution for Bosnia and a preliminary agreement between Bosnia and Croatia to be completed over the next several days.
We also are continuing our work with the Bosnian Government with a view to defining what their reasonable requirements are for a settlement in the context of the federation between the Bosnians and the Croatians. We're not at a stage in this initiative yet where we're in tandem with some of the others -- with the Russians and with the European Union -- where we would actually be presenting these requirements to the Serbs. But we certainly do intend to keep the Serbs informed of the progress in our discussions.
I would also note that Ambassador Redman will be in Belgrade for preliminary consultations on this issue on Tuesday. Again, this is in the context of the federation between the Bosnians and the Croatians that was agreed to last week.
As to the situation in fighting, if I can take a minute to bring you up to date on that. We continue to receive reports that the Bosnian Serbs are shelling the north central enclave of Maglaj, which is in defiance of the cease-fire agreement. We saw some reports that Maglaj had been bombed by Serbian aircraft over the weekend. In the checking of those reports, we've not been able to confirm them and they do not appear to be accurate.
Serb attacks, though, do continue in the southern area of the western enclave of Bihac. Bosnian Croat and Bosnian Government forces have apparently withdrawn much of their heavy weaponry from along the confrontation line in central Bosnia. There was a self-imposed deadline of, I think it was noon today, for the withdrawal of these forces.
We understand that the Bosnian Government and the Bosnian Croat forces have agreed to maintain a certain number of active zones along the confrontation line, although the number and location of the zones is still in dispute. What we mean by that, these so-called active areas are areas that are still contested by the Croat and the Bosnian Government forces.
While there is no fighting actually going on in these areas, the parties have yet to actually agree on their status. So that's why they remain in a sort of active mode.
Then, I think, with respect to Sarajevo, the cease-fire in and around Sarajevo continues to hold. There have been some reports of mortar explosions as well as some incidents of small-arms fire.
As to the general picture of compliance with the withdrawal of the weapons, the U.N. has indicated that it's satisfied that they have complied effectively with the ultimatum to remove these weapons. It doesn't mean that absolutely every single weapon is necessarily under control but UNPROFOR is still working extremely hard to locate and bring under its control any remaining weapons.
I think whereas there certainly are still some indications of fighting, the general picture over several weeks ago is certainly one in which there is a considerable degree of improvement. I think, certainly, there is progress on the political track which gives the hope that we can build on the agreement which was made with a view to trying to come up with a more comprehensive approach and solution for Bosnia. Q On that last one, before when you said Redman will be in Belgrade, in context with the agreement between the Bosnian Muslims and Croats, do you have a little more on that? Will he be talking to the Yugoslav Government? Will he see Bosnian Serbs there? Is he still trying to sell the plan, you know, to the third group, the idea of making a two-republic country, or is it kind of early for that?
MS. SHELLY: I think my understanding is that since we have not had -- since the signing of the agreement last week, we have not had direct contacts with Belgrade over the agreement, although they certainly had the text of the agreement, and they've certainly had a chance to look at it. But these are basically preliminary consultations on the agreement itself and the issues which have been raised and what was agreed last week.
But as we mentioned, this process now in Vienna, which is the fleshing out of this, the development of the constitution and some other ideas on the way ahead, we're not quite at the moment where I think we're putting a formal thing before Belgrade to get them to sign on. I think what's happening tomorrow is still in the nature of preliminary consultations.
Q Can we do Haiti? Do you have anything on either sanctions or the meeting that President Aristide apparently had over the weekend with Boutros Boutros-Ghali.
MS. SHELLY: I have a little bit on that. As you know, the Four Friends have been engaged in discussions on a draft text for a Security Council resolution, and they circulated the latest version of their draft text on Friday evening; and Security Council members have referred the text back to their capitals. They've continued the discussions among themselves up in New York.
We will work with other Council members to try and reach a final agreement on the text with a view to hopefully achieving an early adoption.
On your question about the meeting with -- over the weekend in New York with Boutros-Ghali, we think it's most unfortunate that President Aristide has rejected the offer of cooperation which came from the United Nations Secretary General.
We continue to urge President Aristide and all of the Haitians parties to try to seize on the opportunities that sanctions and international diplomacy are creating with a view to trying to bring an end to the country's crisis; and we're hopeful that by doing so, that this will enable the restoration of democratic government headed by the country's freely elected President.
Q Can that be done without Aristide, do you think?
MS. SHELLY: I'm not in a position to offer a view on that. Certainly, our commitment to Aristide and his return is very well known, and our policy on that has not changed.
But whether I could speculate on the ability to achieve something like that without him, I really just don't have an answer for you.
Q Christine, are you keeping contact with IAEA inspection team in North Korea and --
MS. SHELLY: Were there other questions? Before we go to Korea, if we can --
Q He's charged -- that is, Aristide -- that this plan that came out of the Washington discussions was not consistent with Governors Island, in that it didn't set a date certain, and that it had no role for an international training force, technical force, and that it didn't mention anything about the police chief. Do you have any rebuttal to that critique?
MS. SHELLY: I think that it is our view that the plan which had been developed by the Haitian Parliamentary delegation that in fact it did address the key elements and contain the key elements that were part of the Governors Island accord and process.
There was the 11-point plan which was part of that, and my understanding of the plan is that it certainly did address the question of the police chief and the other elements, and it did also include the return of Aristide to Haiti.
So we're aware of what President Aristide's criticisms of the plan have been, but it's still our view that it still offers the best chance at a way forward to end the political impasse.
Q What's the news about North Korea?
MS. SHELLY: Give me a little help. What's the subset of questions?
Q Are you keeping contact with the inspection team in North Korea?
MS. SHELLY: I think on the inspections, I can't shed very much light on that. The inspections are under way, and they're expected to take about two weeks to complete. I think we've gotten some preliminary indications from that that the inspections are proceeding, but I think that for a little more detailed readout, you would need to consult the IAEA.
Q Any hindrance, did you find, by the North Korean people for the inspection team?
MS. SHELLY: I'm sorry?
Q Any hindrance taking place by the North Korean officials for the IAEA inspection team?
MS. SHELLY: Any hint?
MS. SHELLY: Hindrance. Not that I'm aware of.
Q So far, so good, huh?
MS. SHELLY: I don't know whether I'd want to go quite that far, but I think that the last reading we had on that was last Friday; and, as far as I know, that there had not been any obstacles raised to the continuation of the work of the team. I know they had quite few sites they had to visit, and it's also a very technical thing. But so far I'm not aware of any significant problems. Put it that way.
Q Do you have anything by chance on the court ruling of the Vietnamese in Hong Kong now? You know, Justice could have asked for a delay, for all I know, for a rehearing, but the court ruled they have to be processed -- would-be immigrants. This is just a shot in the dark.
MS. SHELLY: You're talking about the Vietnam decision.
Q Because there are all sorts of legal things that could stand in the way, but by chance are you doing -- is State doing anything?
MS. SHELLY: What I can tell you so far is that this is a lawsuit on visa reprocessing on Vietnam; that on March 6 the U.S. Court of Appeals enjoined the Department of State to take all necessary and proper action regarding the series of Vietnamese who are presently in camps in Hong Kong who have been unable to pursue U.S. immigrant visas with the U.S. Consulate General in Hong Kong. This is what the lawsuit is about.
What the State Department did pursuant to that was that we asked the Hong Kong Government to postpone the repatriation of the four Vietnamese with immigration petitions who were scheduled to depart on a flight which was actually going to leave tomorrow to take them home.
As to the kind of the merits of the case and the issue, basically our position on the lawsuit is that we felt that it basically has no merit, despite the fact that we took those actions, because basically our feeling is not whether or not the immigrant visa applicants should be processed but where they should be processed.
The lawsuit basically addresses a situation which no longer exists. The Department has decided that Vietnamese in camps who are not granted refugee status in Southeast Asia but who are beneficiaries of current approved U.S. Immigration visa petitions should have their visa applications processed when possible by the U.S. Embassy or Consulates in the countries where they are presently located.
So it means that we will accept the applications of those with approved current immigrant visa petitions, and, of course, in order to have an action on an immigrant visa application, the eligibility has to be determined on the basis of an interview with a Consular Officer.
But, in any case, in order to ward off the repatriation of the four in question, we did ask them to postpone the repatriation.
Q You might know if that's because the stay is pending or being worked up, do you know?
MS. SHELLY: On that particular thing, I'd have to check.
Q We could check, too. It would be a Justice thing.
Thank you. Is that it?
MS. SHELLY: There was one more question.
Q Christine, on January 24, India's Ambassador had met with Assistant Secretary Robin Raphel with regard to a letter from Congressman Gary Condit to President Clinton, charging suppression of -- called the Sikh nation of Punjab, Khalistan.
In his reply, the President didn't mention Khalistan, but he did say that human rights violations in Punjab was one of the Administration's concerns.
Now, there have been other letters like that earlier, and I believe Assistant Secretary Raphel assured the Ambassador that such letters would no longer go forth from the White House. And the letter to Gary Condit was the last horse to bolt out of the barn.
But on February 9, Congressman Peter Blute sent a similar letter to the President and received a similar reply.
Now, what happened, and how many horses will bolt before the barn doors are finally locked? And, while we're on the subject, could you give us a clear enunciation of the Administration's policy on the demand for Khalistan?
MS. SHELLY: What I can tell you specifically about President Clinton's letter to Congressman Blute on the rights of Sikh's in India, in responding to the Congressman's concerns to him, which were sent in a separate letter, the President said that we believe there has been important progress on human rights in Punjab in the last 18 months; that these include restoration of the local government through elections and a decline in violence.
It's important to note, I think, in this case that the Congressman expressed his concerns about human rights for Sikhs as Indians. This is also the context in which the President responded. The President's letter should not be in any way construed as support for an independent Sikh state of Khalistan. The United States has never supported such an idea.
Q Thank you.
MS. SHELLY: Thank you.
(The briefing concluded at 1:46 p.m.)
(###)To the top of this page