U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE DAILY PRESS BRIEFING Wednesday, April 6, 1994 Briefers: Michael McCurry STATEMENT Car Bombing in Israel ...........................1-3 US/UN Consultations .............................3 MIDDLE EAST PEACE PROCESS Implementation of Declaration of Principles .....1-3 US Contacts with Parties ........................2 FORMER YUGOSLAVIA General Rose's Consultations ....................3-4,12-13 Fighting in Gorazde .............................4-5,11-12 Prospect of Bosnian-Serb Ceasefire Negotiations..4,13 U.S. Position on Gorazde ........................5,7-8,11,13 Reports of Yugoslav Army Units in Bosnia ........6-7 U.S. Airlift of UNPROFOR Units ..................9 Ambassador Redman's Schedule ....................9 Secretary Christopher's Discussions with Russian FM Kozyrev and Manfred Woerner ...9-11,13 RUSSIA Participation in Partnership for Peace ..........13-14 SOUTH AFRICA US Support for Four-way Meeting of Parties.......14-15 US Delegations to Observe Elections/Inauguration.15 CHINA US Concern for Status of Mr. Wei ................15 MFN..............................................16,17 Reports of Chinese Smugglers ....................16 (###)
DEPARTMENT OF STATE DAILY PRESS BRIEFING
WEDNESDAY, APRIL 6, 1994, 12:49 P.M. (ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED)
MR. McCURRY: I do have a very serious matter. I do want to begin with a statement, and it concerns the car- bombing today in Israel.
We condemn in the strongest possible terms this abhorrent act of terrorism in Afula this morning. We extend our deepest condolences and sympathies to the families of those killed and our sincere hopes for the quick recovery of those injured.
The Israeli people have lived with the scourge of terrorism for decades. We stand together with them in this difficult hour, committed to Israel's security, to fighting terrorism, and to pushing forward on the Arab-Israeli peace process.
This extremist violence has one aim -- to stop the momentum towards peace. We can't allow the enemies of peace to prevail. The best answer to this type of violence is the change that will be introduced by the full implementation of the Declaration of Principles. We call upon all those who are committed to the peace process to redouble their efforts to move ahead on peace, to stop the violence, and to condemn acts of terrorism -- all acts of terrorism.
With that statement, any questions?
Q Who did it?
MR. McCURRY: We do not know who did it. I think you've all seen the news accounts from various organizations claiming credit, including Hamas.
Q Have you seen the statement out of Damascus about the bombing?
MR. McCURRY: I have not seen those or not analyzed them at this point.
Q You couple this stuff with extremism. No question that these are extremists. And then, of course you always put a plug in for the Mideast peace process. Will the Mideast peace process provide more security than Israel now has, so that in some way they couldn't expect further car- bombings as they give up territory?
MR. McCURRY: There will never be an end to violence when the enemies of peace believe they can advance their own aims and objectives through that technique. But what they will face, when the Declaration of Principles is fully implemented, is a united citizenry of both Israel and the territories, seeing the changes that are occurring that can lead to a better quality of life. That's the purpose of the declaration; it's the purpose of the peace process, and it's the best antidote to the type of violence that those enemies of peace have visited upon the region.
Q Has the Secretary of State spoken to Prime Minister Rabin, or has anybody in the U.S. Government spoken to anybody in the Israeli Government?
MR. McCURRY: There have been contacts with the Government of Israel, yes, and I believe also with the PLO. I wouldn't say they were solely directed towards this incident today because there have been on-going contacts with both parties as the talks continue in Cairo aimed at exactly the purpose of the peace process and fully implementing the declaration.
Q Mike, on February 24, when the Hebron massacre occurred, Mr. Rabin was very swift, indeed, to condemn it as an abhorrent act. Is it now very important for Mr. Arafat to step forward and condemn this in the same kind of strong and decisive language?
MR. McCURRY: We certainly hope that Chairman Arafat would condemn this act of violence.
Q In the same kind of strong and decisive language and the same kind of rapidity?
MR. McCURRY: The language would be of the Chairman's choosing, but it would be helpful if he expressed himself on this incident, yes.
Q And what about the message --
MR. McCURRY: I think we have just indicated that we've called upon the parties in each and every act of terrorism of this nature to condemn it, and that's certainly true of this incident as well.
Q Is it not time also for Syria, which is a part of the peace process, to do something about the rejectionist groups which operate from its capital?
MR. McCURRY: We have suggested that to them on many occasions. And, yes, it is proper for them to use the influence they do have with these groups to get the enemies of peace to cease and desist.
Q By last account -- I know it's unsettling -- you say you don't know who did it. It's an Iranian-backed group. How do you reach -- even if you get your goal met and you get this comprehensive agreement where Israel retreats on all borders and some security measures are undertaken, how does that in any way have to do with an extremist group that may be an Iranian-sponsored group? What does that got to do with the quality of life?
MR. McCURRY: This sponsorship and support for those types of groups, we would hope to see evaporate as the conditions change resulting from implementing the agreements reached between the PLO and Israel. There can be a demonstrable change in the quality of life as a result of peace. That's what the vast majority of citizens of the region are waiting for anxiously. That can, we believe, over time erode the type of support that sometimes these groups get from average citizens who are looking for change.
Q Mike, when the Hebron massacre occurred, the United States found it necessary to concur in a United Nations Security Council resolution, condemning the violence. For the sake of symmetry and to preserve its role as an honest broker and an even-handed mediator, would it be appropriate now for the Security Council to condemn this act?
MR. McCURRY: We believe it would be appropriate when there are acts of terrorism of this nature for those acts to be condemned by the international community, and we certainly will consult with our colleagues and the world community, and specifically with other members of the United Nations on what is the best way to condemn this particular act.
Q So would we want to switch to Bosnia?
MR. McCURRY: Bosnia.
Q I'm not sure whether General Rose is getting there or not. In fact, I'm not sure if he's supposed to be going there or going to negotiations elsewhere. Can you straighten us out on that? And while you're at it, is the U.S. going to undertake airlifting the Ukrainian peacekeepers in there?
MR. McCURRY: At the moment, I'm about where you are. I, as you did, saw General Rose interviewed a short while ago. We've had sort of two conflicting reports. One, that he was scheduled, of course, to go to Gorazde today to investigate the situation there. It's my understanding, or at least my understanding from some of the news accounts we've seen in the region, that some of his parties -- some of his military attaches -- have gone to Gorazde to assess the situation.
General Rose, I believe, was remaining in Pale for discussions that were occurring today relating to a cease- fire in Bosnia and in Gorazde.
Q They said you cannot go; it's too dangerous.
MR. McCURRY: He was on his way to Gorazde. Citing security reasons unspecified, Jack, he alone went back to Pale, and we do understand that there were some discussions underway related to a cease-fire there.
But the General is the one who I think is going to have to clarify his own plans. I think we certainly feel it's very important to get a first-hand account from the UNPROFOR commander on the conditions in Gorazde and understand exactly what type of fighting has occurred, what the current lines are between the Serb forces and the Bosnian Government defenders.
Obviously, it goes without saying, as we've said the last two days, continue to assess the situation in Gorazde and what is a proper response on behalf of the international community.
Q Mike, Rose aside, is it the Administration's understanding that the Bosnians and Serbs are involved in cease-fire negotiations relating to Gorazde?
MR. McCURRY: It's our understanding, and we've seen both news accounts and had some contact indicating that they are either planning such negotiations or may be already conducting those negotiations at the level of the ground commander. There's also some suggestion from President Izetbegovic that they will be conducting those at a higher level.
Q The Administration's view as to UNPROFOR's knowledge of who fomented the most recent round of fighting in Gorazde?
MR. McCURRY: We've got various assessments. There's fighting in many different theatres. I haven't seen anything about Gorazde that suggests anything other than a Serbian artillery offensive that was aimed at strengthening their positions along the lines of encounter that currently surround Gorazde.
Q There was a suggestion that perhaps the Muslims had begun this?
MR. McCURRY: There have been indications that some fighting has been instigated by the Bosnian Government in other areas. I don't know about Gorazde, in particular.
Q Mike, there's been some news accounts today that rather pointedly drew attention to the fact that the Serbs seem to be breaking through the lines in that area and that that happened two days after Secretary of Defense Perry basically said we wouldn't do anything to intervene.
Do you see any correlation or connection here between what's happening now in Gorazde and the U.S. position?
MR. McCURRY: The offensive underway in Gorazde was underway long before this past weekend, and there's been fighting in and around that enclave and some of the other enclaves in recent weeks. That's been, among other things, one of the things that stimulated our desire to really push hard at this point to get the Serbs into the peace process that's now successfully begun between the Croats and the Muslims.
Q Michael, the quote from one of the U.N. people on the ground today was that the Serbs "are going for it," and that that seems to be just in the last couple of days. Do you think there could be any connection?
MR. McCURRY: I think General Rose will give us the best assessment of both the objectives of the Bosnian Serb attackers and also the assessment of the defenders.
We understand, or from seeing some accounts today, they indicate that the fighting in and around Gorazde has subsided somewhat today. But it's by no means a tranquil position that they're occupying today, and it's certainly one that causes us great concern.
Q Is American policy -- does the United States favor keeping Gorazde and Srebrencia, Zepa, and other areas of eastern Bosnia in Muslim hands pending any cease-fire and peace agreement?
MR. McCURRY: The status of our diplomacy has not changed. Ambassador Redman continues to be engaged both with the Serbs and the Bosnian Government and attempting to get those two parties together on a peace settlement.
As we've said often in the past, we believe that the Bosnian Government has certain reasonable requirements that they had made as part of the peace negotiations that have been underway. I'm not aware of any plan put forward in any of the discussions to date in which those eastern enclaves are not considered vitally important by the Bosnian Government. But I don't want to comment substantively about where they are in these negotiations.
Q I know what the Bosnian Government thinks about -- I'm asking about whether the United States thinks they should remain in Muslim hands?
MR. McCURRY: The United States has expressed a view on the eastern enclaves as a member of the United Nations Security Council. Those statements are very, very clear.
I'm not going to comment on where the dialogue is between the parties or take a view on positions that are being put forward in negotiations between the parties because, frankly, we are mediating, and it doesn't serve any useful role for us at this point for us to comment on our own independent views of issues that the parties themselves are going to have to resolve.
Q But the United States has said that it's sort of on the side of the Bosnian Muslims as the victims of this. You had Izetbegovic here and others here, and the Serbs are supposedly the aggressors. I just wonder why the United States can't say that Gorazde and those other enclaves should remain Muslim at least until a peace agreement is worked out?
MR. McCURRY: The views of the United States are consistent with those views expressed by the United Nations on exactly those issues, and they couldn't be any clearer. They say very clearly the obligations that the Serbs have connected to those safe areas and the territorial claim that the Bosnian Government has to each of those enclaves. I think that's all a matter of record and there's nothing about our posture in these negotiations that would change that view on the record as taken by our vote at the United Nations.
Q A final thing: Do you have any information that any Yugoslav army people are involved in Gorazde in supplying or supporting --
MR. McCURRY: Thanks for asking this, it goes back to Jack's question a couple of days ago. We've checked on it, and the answer I got back was the one that we have given in the past, which is that from time to time we do have credible reports that regular Yugoslav army units are operating inside the boundaries of Bosnia, although the report I got back cautioned that we don't have any new information available to us that indicates that they are directly assisting the current offensive in Gorazde or elsewhere. But there has been a pattern from time to time of units showing up sometimes. The suggestion is these units are on weekend holiday or that they are not operating as part of regular units under the command of the army. That's been the situation for many months.
Q A holiday trip into Bosnia, to the front lines?
MR. McCURRY: That is what they claim. Serbian military commanders claim that they are units out of solidarity with Bosnian Serbs decide on their own -- volunteer on their off time to go fight into Bosnia.
You can take that report with whatever credibility you wish to attach to it.
Q You said that the Bosnian Government has certain reasonable requirements, and you also say they consider the eastern enclaves to be vital. Is the Bosnian Government's claim to the eastern enclaves a reasonable requirement, in the American view?
MR. McCURRY: That's a good attempt to get me to comment on the substance of the dialogue between the parties which I just said a moment ago I wouldn't do.
Q Michael, is there a difference of views between the State Department and the Pentagon over Gorazde and what the U.S. should be saying about Gorazde publicly and what it should be doing about Gorazde?
MR. McCURRY: No.
Q Mike, just following that up. As a diplomat, you're very aware that words have to be carefully weighed and they can be interpreted --
MR. McCURRY: I'm aware of that, and I try to do so often. I don't always succeed.
Q Can I continue the question?
MR. McCURRY: Yes, you may.
Q You misinterpreted. In retrospect, would you say that Perry's words may have been misinterpreted by the Bosnian Serbs to intensify their offensive at Gorazde? And it is a fact that they have overrun several villages since those words were spoken, set them on fire, made refugees out of many people --
MR. McCURRY: We know, Alan. The answer is, no, I don't think they misinterpreted his words. I think, as I said before, the offensive was underway already.
And what do I think about the characterization? I think, in some respects, what both General Shalikashvili and the Secretary said on Sunday have been, frankly, under- reported or misreported in some cases. I think they've been very clear about what the U.S. posture is as to Gorazde and the things that we're looking at, the conditions under which you could conceive of some action by the West in connection to Gorazde. Frankly, I don't think some of what they said was adequately reported.
Q Because of this confusion, do you think it would be appropriate for the Secretary of State, from whom we haven't heard since this whole thing blew up, to make his opinion heard?
MR. McCURRY: I think that he's made his opinion known on these issues in the past, and there's not a change in our view. There are NATO communiques dating back to August 2 and 9 that address the situation there. There are decisions taken by the NATO leadership at the summit in January that touch on exactly these issues, and there's very active work that we are doing diplomatically connected with trying to bring about a peace settlement of which the Secretary has spoken often.
Q But he has not spoken on the issue of whether or not now is a time to consider air strikes in Gorazde, and whether or not there is a slight and subtle difference of opinion at the State Department and the Pentagon?
MR. McCURRY: I don't think there is a slight and subtle difference, but I'll ask the Secretary if he would like to set forth on that issue. I think very likely he might want to do that.
Q Would you agree with the statement -- on Gorazde -- whether it stands or falls, its final status is still going to have to be negotiated between the Serbs and Bosnians?
MR. McCURRY: The status of Gorazde was already under negotiation between the parties, under all the permutations of peace discussions that have been held between the parties in conflict because it is now an isolated enclave that has got a designation by the United Nations. It has been, to my knowledge, the subject of most all of the discussions that have been held between the Bosnian Serbs and the Bosnian Government to date. So it would, one way or another, be an item for negotiation because it already is in a status in which it's going to have to be addressed in any settlement in a very special way.
Q I'm sorry. Did you answer the other part of Barry's question about airlifting Ukrainian peacekeepers? I don't remember hearing an answer to that.
MR. McCURRY: That's a good question. We have, in the past, offered to provide airlift to the theater on behalf of UNPROFOR units that are moving. I certainly will check that. I know of no reason why we would not. That would be consistent with the offer we've made in the past, but I'll double-check and see whether we've extended a specific offer to UNPROFOR to provide that airlift capacity. We have done it in a general way, so I assume it's available to any UNROFOR units from Ukraine that General Rose is deploying to Gorazde or elsewhere.
Q Mike, just the airlift --
MR. McCURRY: Just the airlift capacity to the region; not to specific points of conflict, but to the region so that they can be deployed on the ground as the UNPROFOR commander sees fit.
Q Mike, if the Ukrainians are sent to Gorazde, would the United States support having NATO provide close air support?
MR. McCURRY: We would, and we already do.
Q When Redman going, and how does this affect his return trip?
MR. McCURRY: He's leaving this evening for the region. I think he told he plans to go to Zagreb first and probably make his way to Sarajevo by Friday or Saturday. I think he plans discussions with all the parties while he's there, and they will relate both to the current status of fighting since he needs to know if there is a cease-fire discussion underway, what is the context of that discussion. And, secondly, it will be more largely, more generally focused on the overall search for a political settlement.
By the way, on that point, the Secretary had a good conversation yesterday with Foreign Minister Kozyrev of Russia to alert him to Ambassador Redman's travel plans, to also talk about some of the things that Deputy Foreign Minister Churkin has been pursuing in recent days. They had a good, overall discussion, the Secretary tells me, of the situation in Bosnia. They discussed the situation in Gorazde, in particular.
Q Is Churkin joining Redman?
MR. McCURRY: I don't know the answer to that, Betsy. They tend to be in close contact while they're there, but they're sometimes doing different things in different places. Churkin has most recently been addressing the Krajina issue and has been located in Zagreb. I don't know whether they plan to meet face to face, but they certainly have been in contact.
Q Did he talk to Woerner, too, yesterday?
MR. McCURRY: He also talked to Manfred Woerner yesterday about the situation in Gorazde and the status of the fighting in Bosnia and the current readiness of NATO, and the current operations of NATO as they relate to various efforts underway in the former Yugoslavia.
Q Does that in any way reinforce the August -- no, that would be U.N., wouldn't it? But does that reinforce in any way NATO's willingness to go in and at least threaten airpower -- the Sarajevo-type ultimatum?
MR. McCURRY: NATO has a commitment, long-standing, that I referred to earlier to provide close air support to UNPROFOR units that are operating in a variety of capacities within Bosnia. I think they did discuss that offer of close air support yesterday and the status of readiness concerning that.
Q One of the rationales advanced by Shalikashvili and the Secretary of Defense for not using air at this point in Gorazde is that it is not a similar artillery kind of situation that we saw around Sarajevo. Yet, repeatedly, today, in your statements, you've talked about the artillery barrages and the artillery and tank attacks on Gorazde.
Has something changed? Suddenly, there is now artillery and tanks?
MR. McCURRY: My recollection is that the General is referring to the nature of small arms units operating in and around Gorazde yesterday. Let me go back a sentence in answering that. What we have said, in the past, is that extending the Sarajevo model case by case throughout Bosnia is very difficult to do because each case is very different. They've got different forces arrayed, they've got different geography, they have different consequences for collateral damage to civilians. There are all sorts of different issues involved.
I think the General was suggesting -- and I would suggest today -- that each of these have to be examined case by case and looked at separately.
Now, the issue of what type of heavy weaponry exists in and around Gorazde is one that I think General Rose is in a much better position to comment on. I believe he was doing so today, if I didn't misunderstand him earlier. I think he's got the best on-the-ground assessment of what's going on there.
Q Mike, as a result of the conversation with Kozyrev yesterday, did the Secretary have any inkling that the Serbs were going to be talking about the truce and the cease-fire in general today? In other words, is there some sort of Russian/Churkin hand at work here?
MR. McCURRY: I apologize. I didn't get into any of that level of detail with him. I don't know whether he had a preview from Kozyrev on Serbian intentions -- or Bosnian Serb intentions in the discussions. I don't believe so, but I don't know for a fact that he didn't.
Q Shalikashvili also said yesterday as a reason for not using force at Gorazde is that it would damage U.S. credibility because we would then become involved in the war between one side or on one side or another. I wonder if you can explain that, since, as we noted earlier, the United States has generally condemned the Serbs for aggression and, as far as I know, the United States has not been treating it as a symmetrical kind of thing.
MR. McCURRY: I'd have to go back and review exactly what the General said, but I believe, if I understand correctly, he was making an overall point, which is that our use of air power and/or NATO's use of air power ought to be consistent with the overall search for a peace settlement in Bosnia; that this is not aimed at changing the equation on behalf of a belligerent, but it ought to be done in furtherance of the peace process. And I think he was careful to say that that would certainly have to be one of the things that would underpin any role that the United States and/or NATO took militarily in Bosnia, and the State Department certainly shares that assessment.
Q Is that what happened in Sarajevo?
MR. McCURRY: Absolutely.
MR. McCURRY: As we indicated at the time, that nothing that we wanted to do or would do could jeopardize or interfere with the peace process. The point --
Q I guess if the point is pursued, I ought to pursue it at the Pentagon. We all know what the General said, and you didn't get the Serb -- you lifted the siege of Sarajevo -- the U.S. did, and it didn't bring the Serbs into the talks. But I had the impression that helping civilians who were about to be killed was an end in itself, and the Pentagon is talking about, "We help civilians only if it furthers the peace process." So I can't ask you to defend what he's --
MR. McCURRY: In the case of Sarajevo, neither did the Bosnian Government then reoccupy portions of territory that had been either abandoned or were no longer areas in which the Bosnian Serbs had heavy weaponry deployed. So there are -- these are designed, as you correctly suggest, to protect innocent civilians and not to advance the aims or objectives of one or the other of the warring sides.
Q Mike, the premise of many of our questions today is that Gorazde is about to fall. What is your assessment of that question?
MR. McCURRY: Not entirely that. I don't think that we share that assessment fully. We're not certain that we know exactly what the intentions are of those Bosnian Serb units that have made incursions along the Drina River. We're not entirely sure that we know the strength and capacity of the Bosnian Government defenders.
There does seem to be something of a standoff today as reported -- or the initial reports are coming in from UNPROFOR. But I think that's why we would again put a stress on the importance of the assessment that we get from General Rose. He, after all, as the Commander for the U.N. forces in Bosnia, will be in the best position to tell us what's going on.
Q But he is not going.
MR. McCURRY: That's not clear that he's not going.
MR. McCURRY: In any event, some of his people are going or some of his people, if not there -- maybe they are.
Q Then what he is doing in Pale is talking about a cease-fire for Gorazde?
MR. McCURRY: We have frankly two reports. There's one report that they're talking specifically about fighting in and around Gorazde, and then another is for a Bosnia-wide cease-fire. We just frankly are waiting to hear more about where things are.
Q Reports from where, Mike?
MR. McCURRY: Both from news accounts coming out of the region and then also from some things that we've heard from the parties, as relayed through U.N. sources.
Q You mentioned Izetbegovic earlier. Is that one of the sources?
MR. McCURRY: I don't believe this came up in the Secretary's call with Izetbegovic yesterday.
Q Did you say he said that negotiations are at the military commander level and Izetbegovic said they may go higher?
MR. McCURRY: That was based on a news account quoting Izetbegovic that's, I think, out on the wire as of a while ago.
Q But he didn't say that.
MR. McCURRY: No, this did not come yesterday. I'd make that clear. It did not come up yesterday.
Q Can we have another subject?
MR. McCURRY: One more. Barrie, in the back.
Q In connection with the Secretary's discussions with Mr. Kozyrev, did Kozyrev confirm that Russia is definitely going to join the partnership for peace, and that he's going to Brussels to sign an agreement soon?
MR. McCURRY: I don't think they talked about that, because that's to our interest been resolved satisfactorily several days ago. I think, obviously, President Yeltsin said in January that Russia intended to participate actively in Partnership for Peace, and it's been our understanding for a while that Foreign Minister Kozyrev will go to Brussels on April 21 to sign the Partnership for Peace framework agreement. And I think Kozyrev has said that directly the last several days, and I think, if not Churkin, someone from the Russian Foreign Ministry.
Q Churkin said it yesterday. But, I mean, you're certain now that this is going to happen, because there had been some mixed signals.
MR. McCURRY: We have no reason to think other than a signing in Brussels on April 21.
Q Secretary Christopher will not be present for that.
MR. McCURRY: No. He has not been present as the individual countries conclude their agreements, although this is a particularly significant one, obviously, because it involves Russia, and it's an agreement that will certainly reflect the unique capabilities, interests, of Russia and the unique importance of Russia.
Q Michael, just a quick housekeeping question on the subject of travel. Will Secretary Christopher be in the large U.S. delegation that plans to go to South Africa for the inauguration, the expected inauguration of Nelson Mandela next month?
MR. McCURRY: I don't know that a decision has been made on that. There has been some discussion about that, but I don't know if a final decision has been made.
Q While Mary asked about that, can I ask a South African question --
MR. McCURRY: Sure.
Q This ruling that the homelands are not safe for a democratic vote, does the U.S. have any comment on that South African decision? Apparently the vote will go ahead anyway.
MR. McCURRY: I believe it's the independent electoral commission yesterday declared that because of the climate in KwaZulu that a free and fair election could not occur in that part of the country. That is apparently, as my understanding, part of an interim report on the status of election preparations that's been made. This electoral commission has made clear that it's not a recommendation to cancel or postpone the vote in KwaZulu.
As to our reaction, the vast majority of South Africans of all races wish to participate in the country's first non-racial election. We recognize the democratic right of individuals of groups not to participate in the election process. That's the choice that they can freely make.
However, we strongly and unequivocally affirm our view that intimidation and violence by opponents to democratic change cannot be permitted to interfere with the election process. We also reaffirm our support for efforts by the various parties, including, I believe, the four-way meeting that is scheduled now for Friday involving President De Klerk, ANC President Mandela, Chief Minister Buthelezi and Zulu King Zwelithini to curtail the violence and to ensure free political activity.
Q Another follow-on to Mary's question: Do you have any more details about that delegation? How many people and when they're going to go?
MR. McCURRY: No. I think it will be a large delegation and an impressive one, but it would be up, I think, probably to the White House or the protocol people to announce that when they're ready to announce it.
Q Is it before the election or after the election? To oversee the voting or --
MR. McCURRY: There will be two rather important delegations, one to be participating as part of the international effort to observe the elections and then a second when the newly elected President is actually inaugurated.
Q Mike, on China, Mr. Wei's secretary has now disappeared and feared arrested. Do you have any information, and any views to share with us about that?
MR. McCURRY: We don't have any new information on either Wei or the accounts or reports coming that perhaps the Secretary has also been detained. As I said yesterday, we'd certainly very much regret the action of the Chinese authorities in connection with the interrogation and detention of Mr. Wei, and we remain very seriously concerned about his status and about the status of all those who merely wish to exercise their universally acknowledged right to freedom of expression and freedom of speech.
Q Do you acknowledge that he has a special -- I mean, his arrest is important in and of itself, but do you also acknowledge he has a special status as a symbol for democratic rights and democratic campaign?
MR. McCURRY: That's a judgment I cannot make. His stature and his status is something that the people of China would have to declare or would recognize themselves. I mean, they would be the ones who would know what weight his opinion has. Merely as an individual a right to freely express himself on his views is something important, as was his incarceration for fourteen and a half years.
He, in the view of the United States, had very material information about conditions that exist within Chinese prisons, which I think, as you all know, is a very specific condition, criteria, listed by the President in the President's Executive Order.
Q Anything on that roundup of smugglers? Does the State Department have anything on that, or is that INS?
MR. McCURRY: Roundup? I'm not aware of that, Connie.
Q Chinese smugglers. There was a big roundup about two hours ago. Do you have anything, or is that --
MR. McCURRY: I haven't had a chance to check into that, but I'll look and see if we do have anything on that.
Q On the question of MFN, as far as the State Department is concerned and in invoking the Executive Order, is MFN divisible? In other words, would you invoke part of MFN for some products and not others?
MR. McCURRY: I think I answered this question some while ago by saying it might be, but it's awfully hard to know how you would do it, and I guess that would remain my assessment.
Q So at this point if the chopper comes down at the end of May, it would come down 100 percent.
MR. McCURRY: I wouldn't necessarily say that. I just said that it's not clear how you would apply Most-Favored- Nation status partially or in a targeted fashion to specific enterprises or specific state-backed enterprises. It's not clear how you can do that and how easily that is done. But that's not to rule out the fact that it might be looked at by people who are looking at this general issue.
I'm certainly not aware that there's been anything approaching a recommendation, or I'm not aware that anything of that nature is on a decision path at this point. This is all something that will be looked at in the context of the Secretary's review of the Executive Order and its criteria as the Secretary prepares a recommendation for action by the President, no later than June 3.
Q Mike, what weight will the Chinese treatment of Wei carry with Secretary Christopher when he makes his recommendation to the President?
MR. McCURRY: There are aspects of Mr. Wei's case that relate to the criteria established by the President in the Executive Order but in no way would I want to say that that is exclusively a determinative criteria as the Secretary evaluates the Executive Order.
Q Would it be possible for them to get MFN if he faces another long-term incarceration?
MR. McCURRY: I don't now the answer to that. That's something that will be assessed by the Secretary as the Secretary makes the recommendation.
Q Thank you.
MR. McCURRY: Thank you, Barry.
(The briefing concluded at 1:25 p.m.)
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