US DEPARTMENT OF STATE DAILY PRESS BRIEFING INDEX Tuesday, March 22, 1994 BRIEFER: Michael McCurry CHINA / NORTH KOREA Chinese Objection to Sanctions .............................................1-2 UNSC Resolutions, Other Actions / Timing .......................1,2 China Efforts with North Korea on Nuclear Issue ...........2 U.S. Contacts with Chinese on North Korea ........................2-3 MFN Connection with Sanctions Vote ...................................3 Northern Objections to Team Spirit '94, Patriots to South Korea ...............................................................................3-4 SOUTH KOREA U.S. Contacts: Patriots, Team Spirit '94 ..............................3-5 MIDDLE EAST U.S. Policy on Jerusalem ...............................................................5 Peace Talks / Ross Activities ....................................................5-8 HAITI Status of Crisis Resolution Effort ............................................8 UN Resolution ......................................................................................8 U.S. Contacts with Government Officials ...............................10-11 INDIA/PAKISTAN Raphel Connecting w/ Talbott Trip ............................................8 U.S. Ambassador to India .................................................................8 THAILAND Attempted Bombing of Israeli Embassy ...................................9 U.S.Thai Extradition Treaty ............................................................9 BOSNIA-HERZEGOVINA Bosnian Serb Weapons Cache in Sarajevo Exclusion Zone .........................................................................................................9-10 Bosnian Serb Position on Participation in Bosnian-Croat Agreement/Redman ..........................................10 RUSSIA Duties on U.S. Wheat Seed to Armenia .......................................10 CROATIA - SERBIA Russian Efforts to Resolve Krajina Region Dispute .............11 DEPARTMENT Secretary Christopher Op-Ed re China Trip ..............................11 CHINA WSJ Article re U.S. China Policy Confusion ..............................11-12 (###)
DEPARTMENT OF STATE DAILY PRESS BRIEFING
TUESDAY, MARCH 22, 1994, 12:33 P.M. (ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED)
MR. McCURRY: Good afternoon everybody. I don't have any formal prepared statements today, so I'd be happy to take any questions you might have.
Q The Chinese are indicating opposition to the notion of sanctions against North Korea. Do you have any comment?
MR. McCURRY: I think the Chinese, in their discussions with us, have indicated that they have objections to sanctions; but they've also indicated that they want to, in a constructive way, work with us as we attempt to address this issue. I think that's why you've heard United States officials say over the last several days fairly consistently that we will be very patient, very careful in working on the diplomacy; and we do expect that we will continue to have the cooperation that we've enjoyed from the Chinese Government as we work this issue.
Q The sanctions question: Is the United States working on a second resolution now to back up this first sort of warning resolution should North Korea not heed it?
MR. McCURRY: I think you've heard the Secretary and Ambassador Albright both say that we are looking at a series of measures that we might take in the appropriate fora, including the United Nations, to continue to address the North Korean issue. That might take any variety of--it might result in a variety of measures. It could result in additional resolutions. But the thing immediately before the United Nations will be the resolution that was described by Ambassador Albright yesterday.
Q You were quoted on a network news show this morning saying that the U.S. could be prepared to go with the second resolution by the end of this week. Is that an accurate statement?
MR. McCURRY: Not on a second resolution. I think that was referring to the resolution we were discussing here yesterday, which is the warning resolution that Ambassador Albright described yesterday.
Q Don't you think the first one will be ready to go late this week?
MR. McCURRY: It may be. The draft may be circulating by the end of the week, but I don't want to predict that there would be action definitively on any resolution within any set timeframe.
Q Do you anticipate that China will not stand in the way of the first resolution? Are they indicating that they're supportive of --
MR. McCURRY: I do not want to predict what actions they will take. I will note that it's interesting, for example, yesterday when the IAEA Board of Governors met that they abstained on that issue when in the past they have opposed or voted against resolutions of the IAEA Board of Governors on matters relating to North Korea. So I don't want to predict at this point what position they will take.
They have indicated, as I say, a desire to work constructively as we in the world community address this issue.
Saul and then Betsy.
Q Could you tell us what the Chinese have done so far over this last year or so to convince North Korea to back away from its original position?
MR. McCURRY: I can't detail for you the conversations they've had with North Korea, but they have had diplomatic dialogue with North Korea on that issue. I'd really leave it up to the Government of China to describe that, but we believe that they have attempted to be helpful.
Q Do you know if they have described that to anybody, what China has told North Korea or what position it takes publicly on North Korea's position?
MR. McCURRY: I don't know whether they have so publicly, Saul. In some of their private diplomatic exchanges they've indicated certain things.
Q Have we met here with the Chinese on this matter or have contacts been primarily in China?
MR. McCURRY: I think up until now most of the contacts have been in New York at the United Nations and in Beijing through the embassy.
Q Is that going to change?
MR. McCURRY: I don't want to predict how we might continue that dialogue. I think we feel it important to continue that dialogue if we move it to a higher level. That would be befitting the importance and seriousness of the issue.
Q Have we spoken to Foreign Minister Qian Qichen?
MR. McCURRY: No, we have not. Saul.
Q How long is this process, the process after the warning resolution which may be ready by the end of this week? How long does the process go on before the next step is taken, and that is, putting teeth in the warning?
MR. McCURRY: I don't want to predict. It will happen in due course, and it will happen as a result of the diplomatic effort we will expend both in the United Nations and in some of our other contacts.
Q Weeks, months?
MR. McCURRY: I don't want to predict. I don't want to predict. Obviously, a lot of that depends also on what types of choices North Korea makes.
Q The other question is this: I know that there is no link between MFN and China's help on this. But as a practical matter, wouldn't it be much more difficult in this country to renew MFN if China vetoed a resolution for economic sanctions against North Korea?
MR. McCURRY: That would ask me to prejudge a decision that the President would have to make based on a recommendation from the Secretary. The criteria for that decision is pretty well spelled out in the President's Executive Order, and it doesn't make reference to actions that China takes in other international organizations.
But one thing I would make clear -- and I think we said this at the time of the Secretary's trip to China -- we do seek a broad relationship with China and a positive relationship. We have had, even amidst some of our disagreements on human rights, an ability to work with them constructively on a variety of issues that the world community faces, including the regional security issues in Asia.
Q Have you gotten any reaction, or do have a reaction to the type of statements which have been coming out of North Korea concerning attempts to start up the joint military exercises again by the U.S. and the South and the Patriot missiles?
MR. McCURRY: There have been a variety of comments and statements from North Korea that fit their past practice. We indicate that none of those statements intimidates the United States, and we remain committed to fulfill our solemn treaty obligations to South Korea and to protect those U.S. service personnel stationed abroad.
Q So you don't really buy their threat that what you're doing is something akin to a declaration of war if you follow through on these different actions? Do you think that's baloney?
MR. McCURRY: Through the contact we've had with them, they know exactly the nature of the exercise that we were willing to suspend. They also know the nature of the defensive system, the Patriot, that is about to be deployed. There are no grounds for the substanceless charges that North Korea has made concerning our intentions and motives.
Our intentions and motives have always been aimed at peace on the Korean Peninsula, an absence of threatening nuclear weapons, and a return to the obligations that North Korea has made to the world community through the Non- Proliferation Treaty.
Q Mike, a hypothetical question. If suddenly the North should turn around again and open for inspections and the inspections are satisfactory, would the United States then think again about cancelling the "Team Spirit" games and perhaps turn the ship around carrying the Patriots? What would happen to all of that?
MR. McCURRY: There have been no change -- the Patriots is a separate issue, I think, as you know; but there has been no change in what we have offered to North Korea in the past: our willingness to proceed to a third round of high-level talks would follow from an exchange of special envoys to discuss the North/South denuclearization issues and a successful completion of those inspections that the IAEA and North Korea negotiated on February 15. That has been an open door that remains open.
Q Do you have anything you can tell us about the meetings this morning in Seoul on scheduling of "Team Spirit?"
MR. McCURRY: I've got a little bit on that that's not unpredictable. I think that General Luck and Ambassador Laney did meet with their counterparts today. There was an agreement to deploy Patriot missiles to the Republic of Korea. That agreement was confirmed, and the status of "Team Spirit '94" was discussed in light of the current impasse that exists on the nuclear issue. They did not, to my knowledge, set a date that they are announcing publicly, but they did obviously discuss timing and discuss the exercise itself.
Q Is it accurate to say that because the crops have already been planted, the timing of an exercise would most likely be in the Fall after harvest?
MR. McCURRY: I don't want to get into that. There are a variety of scenarios that I understand they've discussed at the Pentagon. It's probably more appropriate to address that question to them over there. They know best what's needed to have an effective and useful exercise.
Q Can we go to the Middle East? There have been some suggestions in some quarters that the U.S. has shifted its position on the question of Jerusalem. Could you tell us what that policy is?
MR. McCURRY: I can tell you, by way of denying any such suggestion, that there has been no change in our position on Jerusalem. I think there's been, perhaps, an erroneous press account in the region that fueled some speculation. I can say categorically that the only public statement that President Clinton has made recently about the status of Jerusalem was during his press conference that I think some of you attended on March 16 with Prime Minister Rabin.
He said, in response to a question on Jerusalem, "In terms of the resolution of Jerusalem, the position of the United States has not changed, but that is a matter for the parties to decide in accord with the declaration. It is something to be ultimately decided at a later point. That's what we think should be done."
I think the only thing that's been said by the President is that statement that I just quoted. Any news accounts or suggestions that he said something else are just flat wrong.
Q Mike, are you disappointed that since the United Nations resolution passed, the parties aren't back at the table?
MR. McCURRY: We're not at all disappointed about the discussions that are now underway in Tunis.
Q What's needed now? They got their resolution.
MR. McCURRY: I think you know Ambassador Ross, who is there, who has been meeting with the parties, indicated yesterday that they've got a lot of hard work ahead but they are making progress. The parties themselves will address themselves to questions about what kind of progress.
Q What exactly is Ross doing? Is he trying to shuttle between the parties and orchestrate more Israeli concessions?
MR. McCURRY: I think he is doing the work that he's been doing for some time, to continue to urge both parties to move forward on implementing the Declaration of Principles; to proceed to resolve those questions that need to be resolved so that they can move on with implementation; and, as I say, I think they're encouraged by the discussions that the parties have had face to face on exactly those issues.
Q Why are they encouraged?
MR. McCURRY: Because they're encouraged.
Q Oh, come on.
MR. McCURRY: The parties themselves will be able to tell you more about what kind of progress they're making and what types of -- how they're attempting to resolve these issues so they can move forward. Clearly, there's a great deal of hard work diplomatically that's going into that effort.
Q But why is the Ross party encouraged?
MR. McCURRY: They're encouraged because of their sense of the direction of the meetings and discussions that are taking place.
Q Is the objective --
MR. McCURRY: Howard.
Q You said he's urging both parties to move forward with implementation. One party has made it quite clear they're ready to resume the implementation talks. I don't quite figure out your statement there?
MR. McCURRY: Both parties have indicated a willingness to move on to discussions that could lead to a formal resumption of negotiations. It's a question of how they do that and when they do that. I think that those are exactly the questions that Ambassador Ross and the team are addressing now.
Q Is the President's invitation to -- when they resume the talks, if they resume the talks on implementing -- is the venue still Washington on the table?
MR. McCURRY: It could be. But, clearly, we'll have to see what kind of progress the parties make in their discussions. Certainly, our invitation stands, and our willingness to convene around-the-clock negotiations to move forward with the implementation stands. There's a great deal of work that's been done now between Israel and the PLO directly that's gone into the meetings that are now occurring.
Ambassador Ross, also, by the way, will be moving on, I believe, to Cairo and on to Damascus at some point today. So there will be some additional exchanges he'll have related to the other tracks, and not to forget those. We do detect some discernible movement forward.
Q Mike, I don't understand actually what's happening here. The day of the Hebron massacre the President stood up and said that Rabin and Arafat had promised to come to Washington the following week and resume talks to close this deal quickly. They didn't come, and we were told that the problem was getting a U.N. resolution. Now you've got a U.N. resolution and they're involved in talks about the terms of resuming talks with the U.S. playing the role of a go- between.
What actually are they talking about? What do you need to negotiate at this point?
MR. McCURRY: There are a full range of issues associated with implementing the Declaration.
Q So they're actually talking about the declaration? They're not talking about resuming talks about the resolution?
MR. McCURRY: There are talks about resuming talks, and then there are talks about the substance in discussion between the parties as well.
Q What you're saying is, within the talks about resuming talks --
MR. McCURRY: I'm saying there's a lot going on. There's a lot going on.
Q No, but it's important, Mike. Dennis is also brokering the implementation of the Declaration of Principles between the parties as well as trying to get them to --
MR. McCURRY: They are having a full range of discussions associated with the Declaration and also the resumption of talks on implementation. That's about, as you can tell, as much as you're going to get out of me right now. Let's move on.
Q Can you give us an update on where Haiti stands and where our efforts to try and resolve that problem stand?
MR. McCURRY: I can tell you that we continue to work with those who are trying to advance the concept put forward most recently by the Haitian parliamentarians. We continue to believe that was a useful formula for resolving the political crisis in Haiti. Our discussions on the formula that's laid out in that proposal continue with the parties. There will be additional meetings within the United States Government on how best to pursue.
Q Is that the parliamentarians plan that was in place before we left for Asia?
MR. McCURRY: That would be that same plan; correct.
Q The old U.N. resolution that standing by is kind of getting moldy on the backburner, or have you put it in the refrigerator?
MR. McCURRY: I don't know how long it takes a U.N. resolution to get moldy, but it has certainly been on the shelf; that's correct.
MR. McCURRY: Yes.
Q Mike, Robin Raphel is already in the region. Will she be joining Mr. Talbott when he's in India and Pakistan? Is she staying back and joining them?
MR. McCURRY: I don't believe so. I believe she proceeds to a separate schedule, and that Deputy Secretary Talbott then travels separately. I can double-check that and see if there's any change in that and let you know. Obviously, there will be a lot of contact between the Deputy Secretary and Assistant Secretary Raphel in advance of Strobe Talbott's visit to the region.
Q And just to follow up, do you think there might be an Ambassador going with him, or is that --
MR. McCURRY: Knowing the way the Ambassadorial appointment and confirmation process works, I highly suspect not. It just probably couldn't work fast enough to have a fully confirmed Ambassador travel with Deputy Secretary Talbott.
Q Yes. I asked yesterday about this thing in Thailand, an attempted bombing apparently of the Israeli Embassy. The Thai police are now saying that Ramzi Yousef they think is tied to that and still in Thailand. They're also saying that the CIA and Mossad have shown up to look for him. I wonder if you have any comment on any of that, if you know anything about a heightened security? And, beyond that, do we have -- does the United States have an extradition treaty with Thailand, should he be captured?
MR. McCURRY: I don't know. I'll have to take all that. I do know I looked into it. You know, we've got a formal rewards program, and we've said a lot of things publicly about what we're doing to try to investigate the World Trade Center bombing case and also the case involving the shooting at the CIA that have involved the rewards program that we administer here.
I'm not sure about those reports from Thailand or what the police are saying there. Obviously, it sounds like some of that is widely speculative, but I'll look into it further.
Q Bosnia. Can you comment since I think we forgot to ask you yesterday about little pockets of hidden guns and whether you feel that the Serbs are cooperating?
MR. McCURRY: I don't know that I would say that they're cooperating. They clearly have a different interpretation of what constitutes the exclusion zone. They're claiming that this cache of weapons lay outside the U.N.-ordered distance. The United Nations thinks otherwise. My understanding is that some of General Rose's representatives are in discussion with either Karadzic or some of Karadzic's representatives on what constitutes the center of Sarajevo and how you measure the radius of 20 kilometers. But there are negotiations apparently that started yesterday that are continuing today.
Q But it's okay with the United States Government if they just go ahead and withdraw those weapons?
MR. McCURRY: It's not okay that there's not full compliance with the ultimatum that NATO issued. On the other hand, these weapons are allegedly not deployed in an offensive posture. They clearly have not been used to shell any innocent civilians in Sarajevo, which is ultimately the purpose of the NATO ultimatum. But we do believe that there should be continuing discussions between UNPROFOR and the Bosnian Serb commanders to resolve those issues and to remove those weapons from the exclusion zone.
Q The guns have to go, period, as far as you're concerned.
MR. McCURRY: They have to go or they have to be under the -- I can't remember how we described it -- the operational control, one way or another, of UNPROFOR. They have to meet those same tests that were established at the time of the ultimatum itself.
Q Is there anything new on the attempts to get the Serbs to sign on to the federation?
MR. McCURRY: I didn't see anything new. I think they're continuing discussions, and Ambassador Redman has been doing some diplomacy by long distance.
Q Is he here?
MR. McCURRY: Yes, he's still here in Washington. As far as we know, there hasn't been any official reaction; but they are continuing to press the case, and we do obviously acknowledge that there have been some discussions between the Russian Federation and Bosnian Serbs and Serbian representatives that are important in this respect as well.
Q Mike, there's a story in The Washington Post -- I think it was the Post -- about wheat -- U.S. wheat seeds that were bound for Armenia and were being held up by Russia and, if they didn't arrive soon, it would be too late to plant them. Could you talk about that if you have any information to share?
MR. McCURRY: Yes, I did try to get a little bit on that if you can hold on for a second.
Apparently there have been Russian authorities that have tried to impose export duties on Russian seed wheat which the United States purchased for Armenia. We have a bilateral assistance agreement dating back to April 1992 with Russia in which Russia agrees that commodities utilized in connection with U.S. assistance programs may be exported from Russia free from any tariffs, dues, custom duties, import taxes and other similar taxes and charges.
We've already informed the Russians that we consider the imposition of these charges a violation of that agreement; and we've been pressing the Government of Russia at a senior level to resolve the issue expeditiously, given the time sensitivity involved, because the shipment itself of seed wheat is perishable, obviously.
Q Could we go back to Haiti for just a second. You said there were talks between Haitians and U.S. Government officials. Could you be more specific?
MR. McCURRY: I can't, George, because I would probably only partially recount what I know is out there. Let me try to do more of a workup on what type of conversations have actually occurred on that. I wouldn't want to leave out any of the work that's being done on it by giving you a partial listing, but I can go back into it.
Q I'm Stephane Bentura from Agence France Presse - -
MR. McCURRY: Hello.
Q -- a newcomer.
MR. McCURRY: Welcome.
Q Are you in touch with the Russians about the negotiations in Zagreb they are having with the Croats and the Serbs?
MR. McCURRY: These are the discussions that relate to the Krajina. We are in discussion with them. I think Deputy Foreign Minister Churkin, who has been mediating those discussions on behalf of the Russian Federation, and Ambassador Redman have been in very close contact about their efforts. They are working that particular problem involving the Krajina region, and obviously we encourage any effort that can result in an agreement between Croatia and the Serbs over that disputed territory.
Q Mike, I noted the Secretary's commentary in The Washington Post this morning. I was just curious. Is that something that he would run by the President before he sends in to the Post? Is that something the White House was aware of before it happened? Why did he feel the need to publicly defend himself in that manner?
MR. McCURRY: The Washington Post has had a lot of commentary on that page about the Secretary's trip, and my understanding is that they invited the Secretary to make a contribution. That is something that we would routinely run by the White House. I think the Secretary has talked to the President about his trip to China, but I don't know that they discussed the contents of an OpEd piece. But I do believe that we touch base with the White House before filing, as our correspondent did.
Q Do you agree with the premise in a leader in the Wall Street Journal this morning that the Administration is a little confused about what it's real policy is towards China and Most-Favored-Nation, and that we send so many mixed signals that the Chinese have some right to not exactly understand where our government stands?
MR. McCURRY: No.
Q You don't agree with that?
MR. McCURRY: Look, I speak for the State Department. I know absolutely for certain that there's no confusion here, and I know how strongly the Secretary represented the views of the United States Government in a way that the Chinese could not have any doubt about the thrust and goals of U.S. policy. So mixed signals require -- they can be sent, but they also have to be received; and I'm sure on the side of those receiving signals, there's no doubt as to the United States' goals and objectives under the President's Executive Order because the Secretary of State made that abundantly clear to the highest-most leaders of the Chinese Government.
Q Even when they hear the Treasury Secretary saying, "Well, maybe it's not that serious, and not quite that important."
MR. McCURRY: The Chinese can read, and they've read the Executive Order, and they know under the Executive Order that the Secretary of State is the one who will recommend a course of action to the President of the United States, and they heard from the Secretary's own mouth a very clear and accurate description of what would constitute progress on the question of human rights sufficient to extend Most-Favored- Nation status. It is inconceivable to me that they could have received any mixed signals.
Q And yet just last week the Secretary said one of the reasons he decided to go through with his trip to China was that there had been mixed signals and that he wanted to go and talk directly to clear up that problem.
MR. McCURRY: Right. Mission accomplished.
Q Thank you.
MR. McCURRY: Lee Katz. One more?
MR. McCURRY: Is it important?
MR. McCURRY: Is it important?
Q It's critical to the future of the free world.
MR. McCURRY: All right.
Q Forgive me if this has been asked before, but on China, Premier Li Peng today indicated that China is not in favor of sanctions against North Korea for its nuclear program.
MR. McCURRY: Asked and answered.
Q All right.
(The briefing concluded at 12:59 p.m.)
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