Return to: Index of 1994 Daily Briefings || Electronic Research Collections Index || ERC Homepage

Wednesday, March 16, 1994

                                                           BRIEFER:  Michael McCurry

US Welcomes Agreement to Withdraw Russian Troops .......1

IAEA Statement on Inspections ......................................................1-3
Meeting with South on Envoy Exchange .......................................2
Prospects for Talks with US ...........................................................2-3
Possible Sanctions/View of China/Japan .................................3

US Support for Counter-Narcotics Programs ..........................4
--  Amnesty International Charges Irregularities ...............4

Ambassador Flynn's Schedule in US .............................................4-6

Secretary's Trip to China .................................................................6-8
--  Reaction of Former Secretaries of State ..........................6-8
--  Accomplishments .........................................................................7,9-10
Human Rights/MFN Status ................................................................8-9

Bosnian-Croat Agreement ...............................................................10-11
--  Status of Krajina .........................................................................10-11



DPC #42


MR. McCURRY: Good afternoon everybody. I'd like to start with a short statement and then I'll take your questions.

The United States Government welcomes the agreements that were reached on March 14 between Russian and Latvian negotiators on the withdrawal of Russian troops from Latvia by August 31, 1994. We believe that represents a major contribution to regional harmony and stability. We congratulate both sides for their dedication and determination in reaching this point.

We are very hopeful that this breakthrough will pave the way for agreement soon between Russia and Estonia for the withdrawal of Russian forces from Estonia by August 31, 1994. The United States has consistently and actively supported the full, prompt, and unconditional withdrawal of Russian forces from Baltic soil.

We will continue to work with all the parties concerned as partners to contribute to the smooth implementation of withdrawal agreements and the development of constructive, harmonious bilateral relations for the future.

Do you have a question? No question.

Q North Korea?

MR. McCURRY: North Korea. I think you all have seen the statement, I assume, that the IAEA has put out following their informal briefing today indicating that the Board of Governors of the IAEA will meet on Monday, March 21. The IAEA indicated in their statement today that they had to brief the Board that the Agency was not in a position at this point to verify that there had been no diversion of nuclear material at the facility where the relevant measures were rejected. These are the measures that had been agreed upon between North Korea and the IAEA on February 15 governing the full range of inspection activities that was to occur.

Clearly, we will have to await the verdict of the Board of Governors on Monday as to whether or not this has been a successfully implemented inspection. But word on that result will then affect our determination to proceed to a third round.

As you know, the third round had been scheduled for Monday. In light of this announcement from the IAEA, it would appear that that meeting on Monday is now doubtful.

Q How can it possibly go forward on Monday?

MR. McCURRY: It could go forward on Monday only if there's a determination by the Board of Governors on Monday that this has been has a successfully implemented inspection, which seems doubtful at this point in light of their comments today and also if there had been progress between the North and the South at the working level on establishing an exchange of envoys related to the North-South denuclearization talks.

I think, as you know, they met today at the working level and the meeting was inconclusive, but they do plan to meet again, I believe, on Saturday.

Q So where do you go from here?

MR. McCURRY: Where we go from here will be determined in large part by what the Board of Governors does at their meeting on Monday. They've indicated in the past that they might have to refer the matter back to the Security Council at the U.N. I think that that would be the next venue for action.

Q Is either the United States or North Korea seeking another meeting between now and Monday?

MR. McCURRY: Will the United States and North Korea?

Q Has North Korea, or is the United States seeking another meeting -- a bilateral meeting -- in New York between now and Monday?

MR. McCURRY: Not that I'm aware of, no.

Q At what level are these high-level talks supposed to be?

MR. McCURRY: They were going to be held by Assistant Secretary Gallucci, similar to the previous two rounds of discussions between North Korea and the United States.

Q Has a venue been chosen for those meetings?

MR. McCURRY: If I'm not mistaken, they would meet on March 21 in Geneva, I think.

Q Will Gallucci be in Geneva?

MR. McCURRY: He's not there now. He's upstairs at the moment, so I don't know if he plans to depart.

Q How concerned are you by the irregularities in - -

MR. McCURRY: I don't want to try to characterize the inspections or the inability to conduct the full range of inspection activities that the IAEA was attempting in North Korea, and I think it would be proper to kind of wait for them to issue their analysis of the inspections themselves. There's a lot -- I think the IAEA will be in the best position to say about what they've been able to look at and what kind of questions remain as a result of the inspections that they have conducted.

Q If there is no continuity in inspections, is there any doubt that the United States will then take this to the Security Council and call for some sort of economic sanctions?

MR. McCURRY: Well, it would be referred to the U.N. by the IAEA. There are a range of things the United States might consider doing at that point. I just don't want to speculate at this point on what we might do.

Q During the Secretary's trip, his visits in Japan and in China -- I assume this topic came up -- did we hear any words of support towards economic sanctions against North Korea?

MR. McCURRY: We received encouragement in both China and Japan about the diplomatic path that the United States was pursuing. I cannot say in either location there was enthusiasm about sanctions.

Q The United States has now spent hours in negotiations with Korea, painstakingly trying to reach agreement on all these issues. What's your analysis of why they seem to have stiffed the IAEA? I mean have you reached some conclusion now about it?

MR. McCURRY: I don't believe we've reached any conclusion as to the motive that North Korea might have in not complying fully with the agreed-upon program of inspections or that the IAEA and North Korea had negotiated. I'm not sure that we have an adequate explanation of the motive. But there are consequences, obviously.

Q Can we go to Colombia? An Amnesty International representative suggested there might be a link between human rights violations in Colombia and the U.S. Government.

MR. McCURRY: My understanding is that the folks who have got the Amnesty International report have not had an opportunity to make a fuller study of it, but I can say that our counter-narcotics program for the Colombian National Police and the Armed Forces provides training and equipment that enable them to carry out their counter-narcotics efforts. For example, the training and equipment for the air force is to improve that branch's ability to provide airlift support to the National Police and other units which go out on counter-narcotics missions.

Amnesty also said the United States had known about the possible diversion of funds that they described in their report. Is there any truth to that assertion? No. We are constantly improving our monitoring, especially in light of the GAO's findings in August l993, to ensure that our assistance is not being diverted for purposes for which it's not intended.

Q What can you tell us about Ambassador Flynn's travel schedule?

MR. McCURRY: Ambassador Flynn: He is here in Washington. He is, I think, going to be at the White House tomorrow for an event. He will then go to New York for meetings with Haitian groups. I think as many of you know, he just had a very interesting mission to Haiti; so he'll be briefing some groups in New York on that subject.

Now, while he's in New York, he's also, I am told, planning to attend a dinner of the Friendly Sons of St. Patrick -- that being an appropriate thing to do on St. Patrick's Day.

Q Is this the usual sort of schedule for an Ambassador to do that?

MR. McCURRY: This is an unusual Ambassador to the Vatican, obviously, because he's got a special portfolio so designated by the President. And I'd say Ambassadors that travel in the United States frequently do a variety of speaking engagements. In fact, we encourage them to do that; and they do a variety of appearances. And I think these stops are certainly consistent with the Ambassador's portfolio, which involves many things other than his discussions with officials at the Vatican.

Q Is he going to be allowed to serve as Grand Marshal at a St. Patrick's Day parade on Saturday in Providence, Rhode Island?

MR. McCURRY: In Providence? I don't know -- I don't have anything on a schedule in Providence. I can check into that.

Q There is a concerted effort, sort of to free the Ambassador, going on right now. The Mayor of Providence, as you know, has started the campaign. He's enlisted the help of Senator Pell. Senator Pell, apparently, has written a letter here to the State Department in which he says he deplores the decision to reign in the Ambassador's travel schedule. Do you have a response to that?

MR. McCURRY: Knowing the Ambassador, he's not the type of Ambassador that is easily reigned in. I think that the only thing that the Department has done is to provide some guidance to him on what the applicability of current law and regulation might be as to his travels if he is in fact contemplating, as he has in the past, a political campaign. that does raise a unique set of issues that apply to him in his travel in and around an area in which he might seek elective office.

Now, I'm not, you know, certain that there's been any final decision on a trip to Providence. I understand a couple of folks in the Department are looking at to see how that squares with the applicable regulations and guidelines to this. If I can get an answer for you, I'll let you know.

Q Did you mean what you said --

MR. McCURRY: And it's certainly understandable to us that Chairman Pell and the Mayor and others in Providence would want to have the attendance of the Ambassador at an important local function like that.

Q Can you be more specific about what the rules are governing the activities of Ambassadors?

MR. McCURRY: My understanding is that you did some of that last week. While we were off in Asia, some of this came up last week and they ran through some of the applicable interpretations of the Hatch Act and how they might apply.

Q Would you like the American taxpayers paying if his jaunts are political and don't relate to his service as an Ambassador?

MR. McCURRY: They pay for his work and his functions while he is traveling in his official capacity as Ambassador -- for example, when he's briefing the groups on his trip to Haiti, when he's participating in meetings at the White House. But Ambassadors, as they often do, do not travel at taxpayer expense when they're doing speaking engagements or participating in other functions.

Q Are they going to pay for him to go to Providence for this parade?

MR. McCURRY: I don't know whether he's going to Providence.

Q Let me ask a more generic question about the Ambassador. Is his nature as a more unusual type of Ambassador, such as he is with his larger portfolio, and his desire to do more with it, causing some heartache here?

MR. McCURRY: Not among those who know and respect well his fine service and ability as an Ambassador. He's an interesting, capable advocate of many different positions; and those of us who know him well admire and appreciate his service. He's been very effective. In fact, I think Assistant Secretary Oxman, who not long ago was in Boston, commented on exactly that -- the effective job he's doing.

He does have an unusual portfolio. That's clear. But that is at the direction of the President of the United States, who I think fully supports the Ambassador's work to highlight special attention on a variety of humanitarian and other issues that Ambassador Flynn has been pursuing. He's been doing a very effective job, I think.

Q To change subjects, there's been some criticism from former Secretaries of State, among others, about our China policy. Can you elaborate?

MR. McCURRY: Yes, a couple of points on that, because I think that's disturbing. One, those former Secretaries, I think, would have greatly benefitted from the presence of Winston Lord on the panel.

Winston Lord, our Assistant Secretary for East Asian and Pacific Affairs, had been invited to participate in this session and then was disinvited on the ground that the Council on Foreign Relations the sponsoring entity did not want to have an Administration official participate.

I think if Ambassador Lord had been present, the former Secretaries might have learned a great deal more about the Secretary's trip to China, and I think then would have been in a better position to comment knowledgeably about the Secretary's trip. To my knowledge, none of the three of them had taken the time to really get a full briefing on what had happened on the trip, and certainly Ambassador Lord would have been in a position to give him that type of information.

In fact, I think those former Secretaries probably don't know that there was airing of differences at the conclusion of the Secretary's trip to China; that we had reached some cooperation on the implementation of a Memorandum of Understanding on prison labor issues; that we had been able to resolve, or at least get a commitment to resolve, a few outstanding immigration cases; to continue expert-level talks with the International Red Cross on prison visits; to provide more accounting on 235 prisoners in China as well as a pledge to provide information on 106 prisoners in Tibet; to agree to get more technical data on VOA broadcast into China.

If the former Secretaries had been aware of that, if the former Secretaries had had an opportunity to know that the Secretary of State very forcefully and directly delivered a very strong message to the top Chinese leadership at the highest level about the commitment the United States has to pursue the policy on human rights and Most Favored Nation that has been embraced by the President and by the Congress with the strong support of the American people, I think they might have had a very different analysis of the trip the Secretary has just made.

So I think probably, in retrospect, the Council, as the sponsoring organization might have wanted to include someone who could bring a little more knowledge and light to the discussions.

Q So can I just make sure I'm clear on this? They had initially invited Assistant Secretary Lord and then they said "forget it?"


Q Had he accepted?

MR. McCURRY: He had accepted and was looking forward to participating as someone who is not only a former official of the Council itself but as someone who was present for the opening of China, who has worked on Sino-American relations for 25 years. He could have contributed a great deal to the discussions of this particular panel.

Q And what was the explanation for why --

MR. McCURRY: My understanding is -- you'll have to ask the Council. My understanding is that the Council preferred to have a discussion that excluded representatives of the Administration. A rather curious point of view, I think, if they're trying to comment on current Administration policy.

Q Former Secretaries appear to be commenting on not so much the results of this trip, but on the overall posture of this Administration. That is what they are criticizing; not the specifics of this trip.

MR. McCURRY: They are criticizing the direct linkage of human rights issues to trade status. We hear that argument frequently. In fact, we heard in Beijing from members of the American business community in Beijing.

We understand that criticism. The problem happens to be that that is a policy set by the President that reflects the strong support of the United States Congress. Two-thirds of the United States Senate, over half of the House of Representatives, are insisting that the President follow through on the policy he articulated in his May 1993 Executive Order.

The reason for that is that they had intended to be even much stricter in their application of a linkage between human rights and Most Favored Nations status, and most likely would have done so statutorily had not the Administration worked to try to devise an instrument that would be a little more flexible.

So I think the Secretaries need to understand that the Administration's policy is being pursued in the context of a Congress that is adamant about tougher, direct linkages between trade issues and the pursuit of our human rights objectives, and that we are trying to do so with some flexibility that preserves multiple goals that we have when we conduct our policy towards China and the region.

Q What happens now? I mean, are you -- are there any plans for any other high-level talks between the United States and China, or are you just leaving the dialogue between the Embassies?

MR. McCURRY: The Secretary of State in the most direct and candid way imaginable told the Chinese what is at stake and what is on the line, as we go into these final two and a half months. There can be absolutely no doubt in their minds about the kind of overall significant progress they are going to have to make on human rights questions if they want to continue to have privileged trade relations with the United States of America.

If they decide to balk at that need for overall progress, they are going to lose a surplus of $20 billion a year in our account balance in trade, and that's going to cost them and their citizens dearly.

They, in a sense, have the ability now to either make the type of progress that will allow the Secretary to recommend an extension of Most Favored Nation status or continue to conduct themselves in a way that would lead the Administration to conclude that there has not been overall significant progress, with all the consequences that that implies.

Q Well, are you suggesting then that the Secretary has done his job, and you're now waiting for any sort of response from China?

MR. McCURRY: We had some response, as I indicated. There was some narrowing of differences. There were certain steps that the Chinese took at the conclusion of our talks that I think, frankly, were a little under-reported because they occurred at the end of a news cycle here in the United States.

But, as is frequently the case, sometimes things begin to happen in the aftermath of a visit by the Secretary. So I would say for those who rushed to judgment on what happened on this recent trip, it might be several weeks before we have a clearer picture.

Q Has anything begun to happen yet?

MR. McCURRY: There have been some things, yes.

Q Since the trip there's been some things?


Q Such as?

MR. McCURRY: Such as the announcements yesterday in China about releases.

Q Did you say the Chinese were going to lose $20 billion in exports?

MR. McCURRY: No, I think that's the trade surplus -- the estimated trade surplus currently credited to the Chinese- U.S. trade relationship.

Q Mike, while you are on China, according to the answer posted yesterday, the U.S. is exporting some prison labor-produced products. I'm a little confused by that. So do you regard the Chinese exports of prison labor-produced products as a matter of U.S. domestic law enforcement, or is it a human rights issue?

MR. McCURRY: I don't have anything beyond the answer that we put out yesterday. I think that answer was pretty clear in talking about the types of circumstances in which there is export of material and how that is regulated -- most importantly how that is regulated by U.S. law and applicable state law.

It doesn't bear any relationship to the discussion we have concerning human rights in Chinese prisons.

Q Mike, just to go back, I didn't -- excuse me, but I didn't see anything about releases in China. Can you - -

MR. McCURRY: I don't have --

Q Is that something we applaud? I mean, do we have anything to say about those releases?

MR. McCURRY: I don't have the announcement that they made yesterday in front of me, Sid, but I can get it for you. There was something on the wires yesterday about it.

Q Are we happy about it, sad about it? Is it positive progress?

MR. McCURRY: As we frequently say, we don't denigrate the progress that we see; we don't inflate it either. There are important steps that need to be taken, and we expect to see more.

Q But you consider it progress?

MR. McCURRY: I think that there have been some narrowing of differences and, as I indicated, that there are some things that might provide a foundation in the coming two and a half months for progress.

Q No, but were these releases yesterday progress?

MR. McCURRY: They were steps forward. I'm avoiding using the word "progress," because progress now is a word that has very clear meaning within the context of the Executive Order, and that's something that the Secretary will have to evaluate, given a whole range of things. Certainly, two releases by themselves don't constitute significant overall progress.

Other questions?

Q Thank you.

Q Wait. I wanted to ask a question. As you look toward the signing of this Bosnian agreement on Friday, has the United States promised Croatia that the Krajina would be returned to Croatia?


Q There's been any representations?


Q Have we promised that the U.N. mandate regarding Croatia, which I think comes up for renewal soon, would be strengthened in that regard?

MR. McCURRY: There are a variety of things that we've indicated to Croatia would be helpful to them as they re- emerge and enter the community of nations in Europe, a variety of things as they sort of turn to the West and embrace the West, as they launch on the process of peace with the Bosnian Government or the new Bosnian Communal Federation.

Addressing the situation of the Krajina is one thing that will have to happen. The status of the U.N. mandate is another. But there are a whole range of things that will be explored once they begin implementing the accord that they've reached.

Q But you haven't gotten into any specific representations?

MR. McCURRY: There have been discussions with Croatia, but none that I think have gotten any definitive program of action attached to it at this point.

Q Are we going to announce the opening of a U.S. Embassy in Sarajevo on Friday in connection with the signing of these agreements?

MR. McCURRY: I don't know.

Q Thank you.

MR. McCURRY: You're welcome.

(The briefing concluded at 1:04 p.m.)


To the top of this page