U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE DAILY PRESS BRIEFING Friday, April 8, 1994 Briefer: Prudence Bushnell Michael McCurry RWANDA Situation Update on Civil Unrest ................ 1-8 -- Safety of Americans/Prospects for Departure . 1-8,17-18 -- Truce Efforts by UN Commander/Status of UN Force .................................. 3,5,17-18 -- Reports re: Death of Prime Minister ........ 4 -- Embassy Security ............................ 4-5,7,19 BURUNDI Situation Update ................................ 7 DEPARTMENT Statement re: "Schindler's List" ............... 9-10 MIDDLE EAST PEACE Violence in Afula, Ashdod, Gaza, Hebron ......... 10 -- Statements by PLO, Arab Leaders.............. 10-12 Implementation of Declaration of Principles ..... 11-12 Talks in Washington/The Region .................. 11-13 JAPAN Resignation of Prime Minister ................... 13-15 Economic/Other Relations with US ................ 13-15 COLOMBIA Relations with US/Corruption re: Narcotics ..... 15- 16,18,20-21 MEXICO Assassination, Election Reform, Chiapas Talks.... 18-19 FORMER YUGOSLAVIA Status of Peacekeepers to Gorazde ............... 19 -- Prospects for US Airlift of Peacekeepers .... 19-20 Use of Force/Chain of Command ................... 20-22 RUSSIA Status of Biological/Chemical Weapons Program ... 22-24 -- US/UK Efforts to Assist in Compliance ....... 22 LEBANON/JORDAN Banning of Schindler's List ..................... 19 IRAQ Attacks on UN Peacekeepers and Journalists ....... 21 Security of Americans ............................ 21 NORTH KOREA Establishment of Senior Policy Steering Group .... 22-23 Assistant Secretary of Defense Carter's Remarks .. 23,25 Gallucci Travel to Region ........................ 23 US Diplomatic Contacts ........................... 23 FORMER YUGOSLAVIA Bosnian Serb/Government Discussions in Sarajevo .. 27 Ambassador Redman's Consultations ................ 27-29 Status of Peacekeepers to Gorazde ................ 28-29 NATO Air Support ................................. 28-29 CHINA Status of Mr. Wei ................................ 30 MFN .............................................. 30 TURKEY Possible Military Activity Against PKK ........... 31 (###)
DEPARTMENT OF STATE DAILY PRESS BRIEFING
FRIDAY, APRIL 8, 1994, 12:41 P.M. (ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED)
MR. McCURRY: Good afternoon everybody. I wanted to start with the situation in Rwanda. The President called the Secretary of State this morning to express the President's concern about the safety of Americans in Rwanda in light of the deteriorating situation there, and also just concern about the general status of fighting and the status of U.N. personnel and others, not to mention the hostilities going on involving the citizens of Rwanda.
The Secretary assured the President that the Department and the Pentagon have been working very closely together to assure the safety of Americans in Rwanda and to get the best available information about the conditions that do exist there.
I thought, because this situation is certainly evolving quickly, it would be good to have someone who has been very directly involved with the working group that we have established here on Rwanda to give you some up-to- date information to start off the briefing today. So I've asked Prudence Bushnell, who is currently the Acting Assistant Secretary for African Affairs. George Moose is in the region travelling. She is here, and I think would be a good person to direct questions to. She's very familiar with Africa, having served, I think at one point, as DCM in Dakar.
In addition to that -- and, in fact, very interestingly two weeks ago, was in Rwanda and Burundi and met with both President Habyarimana and President Ntaryamira. So she has had recent visits with both the Presidents who died in the crash just two days ago.
So with that introduction, I'd like to turn it over to Acting Assistant Secretary Bushnell. She obviously has to get back very quickly to the working group, and then we'll continue with the briefing on other questions.
ACTING ASSISTANT SECRETARY BUSHNELL: Good morning. What I'd like to do is just give you a very brief sitreport and then take a few questions.
I want to put this in context, and I want you to think of this as I answer your questions. There is a very unstable situation on the ground that is unfolding very quickly.
Americans are not being targeted. I have one objective in mind as I guide people through this, and that is the safety of American citizens. So everything that I am doing and saying to you and to other people, and as I organize this, is around the issue of keeping Americans safe and keeping on top of the situation.
Having said that, let me give you a sense of what is going on as of 11:30 when we last had a fairly long conversation with our consular officer. Our information is coming from open telephone line to the Embassy with our consular officer, and we have a couple of other Embassy officers.
The information is also coming from our Ambassador, David Rawson, who is at his residence, who has a radio and is in radio contact with the Embassy because his telephone is not working.
What these two individuals are reporting to us is that there is fighting that has moved from the center of town toward the residential areas, between the RPF -- which is the Rwandan Patriotic Front -- and military forces. There are as of the time we spoke to the Embassy about 200 Rwandan citizens who came to the Ambassador's residence to seek refuge. They are there now.
Outside of the compound -- and, again, this was at around 11:30 -- there was a firefight that was going on between the military and I believe the RPF. There were five UNAMIR troops in the compound to protect the Ambassador and the people who were there.
So that is what is happening in Kigali. We have fighting that has gone from the central city out toward the residential areas. One of those residential areas is where our residence is -- people inside. A firefight was going on. Five UNAMIR troops protecting them.
Outside in the countryside, what we are keeping a close eye on is what is happening in a mission school in the town of Mudende near Mutare. There is a mob of Rwandan civilians that came into the school. We have 21 American citizens on the compound, and I think 15 -- I'm not sure about that number -- but some ex-pats.
The school is run by Seventh Day Adventists, so these are the teachers and some of their dependents. They are negotiating with the crowd. They were negotiating as of 11:30. So what we are particularly vigilant to is what is happening there and what is happening at the residence.
Q Where was that firefight? The residence and the Embassy are not on the same street, are they?
ACTING ASSISTANT SECRETARY BUSHNELL: No. The Embassy is downtown, and the residence is more in a residential district.
Q And who are -- you use initials.
ACTING ASSISTANT SECRETARY BUSHNELL: I'm sorry.
Q I don't follow Rwanda from day to day. Where is the fighting going on -- outside the Ambassador's home?
ACTING ASSISTANT SECRETARY BUSHNELL: There is a firefight. What you have in the city --
Q You said compound. Do you mean his residence?
ACTING ASSISTANT SECRETARY BUSHNELL: Yes. By "compound," I mean the house, and then there is a fairly good sized --
Q Because "compound" usually means the Embassy.
ACTING ASSISTANT SECRETARY BUSHNELL: -- fairly good- sized garden and a wall, and that's what I mean by the residential compound.
Q Residential compound. You know, who are these five? What are they? You used four names.
ACTING ASSISTANT SECRETARY BUSHNELL: UNAMIR. UNAMIR is the United Missions -- the acronym for the United Missions Peacekeeping Force that is in Rwanda at this time.
Q Have any Americans been hurt, to the best of your knowledge?
ACTING ASSISTANT SECRETARY BUSHNELL: No Americans have been hurt, to the best of my knowledge.
Q And you do not believe they are being targeted in any way?
ACTING ASSISTANT SECRETARY BUSHNELL: We do not believe they are being targeted.
Q And what kind of -- these 200 people who have sought refugee in the Ambassador's residence are from which political persuasion?
ACTING ASSISTANT SECRETARY BUSHNELL: I don't know, because nobody asked.
Q What would you --
ACTING ASSISTANT SECRETARY BUSHNELL: I honestly don't know. The fighting that is going on is between two ethnic groups, Hutus and Rawandans. The government military, who are predominantly Hutus, over the past couple of days have been killing Tutsis. Tutsis make up the Rwandan Patriotic Force, so that is where the clash is coming from.
I have no idea whether these 200 people are individuals who were in the area and are escaping the firefight. I don't know if they are Tutsis, and I don't know if they are Hutus, and frankly I would rather not want to know, because I don't want to get into the business of saying, "What ethnic group are you?"
Q Well, the question is, is the compound in danger of being stormed by someone who would like to get those people, whatever persuasion they are?
ACTING ASSISTANT SECRETARY BUSHNELL: It is the responsibility of the host government to provide protection. The Ambassador called the Minister of Defense who responded affirmatively that he was going to do what he could to provide the protection to that compound and to the Ambassador.
Q Do you have information that the Prime Minister and other government officials have been massacred?
ACTING ASSISTANT SECRETARY BUSHNELL: I don't want to say that we have confirmation, because in this setting, ever since this began, people have been hunkered down in their homes. So we have not -- confirmation in terms of somebody going and seeing the body, no. Confirmation in terms of numbers of reports, yes.
Q What are you telling American citizens or any international in Kigali or anywhere in the country about what they ought to do at this point -- stay at home, hunker down, keep the lights off, keep a gun handy? I mean, what are you saying when they say, "Should we come to the Embassy?" You say no?
ACTING ASSISTANT SECRETARY BUSHNELL: Everything is organized through a warden system, and the word has gone out through the warden system for everyone to stay in their homes. We did this for the past 24 hours, and this morning the Ambassador got on the warden net and said, "Stay home. Stay low."
Q Are there any Marine guards at the Embassy compound?
ACTING ASSISTANT SECRETARY BUSHNELL: No, we have no Marine guards.
Q So there's really nothing you can do for the safety of Americans except rely on the government to provide what forces they can to defend American citizens there or protect them?
ACTING ASSISTANT SECRETARY BUSHNELL: There is discussion going on at the United Nations to expand the mandate of the United Nations troops that are there to provide protection.
Q What are the U.N. peacekeepers, the 2500, doing? Are they in barracks? Are they hunkered down as well?
ACTING ASSISTANT SECRETARY BUSHNELL: That is unclear, because I'm not sure, as I say, our communication is through the telephone and then radios. I understood that, but I cannot confirm that as of this morning General Dallaire, who is the commander of the U.N. forces, was doing his best to negotiate a truce between the Rwandan Patriotic Front and the military forces.
I frankly do not know where the UNAMIR troops are. I suspect that as of right now, since their mandate is only to shoot if they are in personal defense, that they would be behind a wall. That's certainly where I would be.
Q Do you have some idea of how many -- how large the international community is there? Take the 2500 peacekeepers away. Are there roughly 2500 Americans, Belgians, French? How many people are there that would want to get out?
ACTING ASSISTANT SECRETARY BUSHNELL: I don't know. I know that there are 255 Americans.
Q Are there plans to evacuate those Americans now, realizing that it's difficult to move around? Is there a plan in progress?
ACTING ASSISTANT SECRETARY BUSHNELL: We issued an ordered departure. What that means is that we are going to be looking at plans to take out the Americans -- the official Americans and their dependents and American citizens, and there is planning going on as to how that can be done.
Q At that point then the Embassy would be closed, or is there --
ACTING ASSISTANT SECRETARY BUSHNELL: The Embassy will be temporarily unstaffed, but it --
ACTING ASSISTANT SECRETARY BUSHNELL: I do not know. Again, let me put this in context. There is fighting and there is chaos. There is no date, there is no time. We're looking to see how best we can do this, again in order to ensure the safety of all American citizens.
You had a question, in the back there.
Q I realize your first caution about what you're going to say, but where do you think the danger is greatest for the Americans? Is it with the church, negotiating with the crowd or is it just in general? Is there any immediate threat to Americans at this point? I mean, where is it greatest -- the church or in the city or --
ACTING ASSISTANT SECRETARY BUSHNELL: I would say that the greatest threat to the American citizen is anyone who is foolish enough to go outside the house into the street. I think that Americans who are heeding our advice to stay in their homes and to stay low are in safety.
Q Are you anticipating a U.S. military evacuation and, if so, wouldn't that pose some risk as far as trying to find appropriate airfields or protected airfields?
ACTING ASSISTANT SECRETARY BUSHNELL: There are a number of plans in the works about evacuation, and I don't want to comment on any of them.
Q Could you spell the Ambassador's name?
ACTING ASSISTANT SECRETARY BUSHNELL: His name is David Rawson -- R-a- w-s-o-n. I will say that he is the child of a missionary who was raised in Burundi, so he knows that area of the world very well; and if there is anybody I would want there at this time, it is Ambassador Rawson.
Q Is he a professional -- he's a Foreign Service Officer?
ACTING ASSISTANT SECRETARY BUSHNELL: Yes, he is.
Q He's not a political -- I guess you don't give people Rwanda as a political plum.
ACTING ASSISTANT SECRETARY BUSHNELL: All Ambassadors are political appointees.
Q No, but you know what I mean. It's not a rich man looking for a soft job. That's what I mean.
ACTING ASSISTANT SECRETARY BUSHNELL: He comes out of the diplomatic service.
Q Can you just qualify the situation at the school? What's under negotiation? I mean, why is the crowd a threat to the school?
ACTING ASSISTANT SECRETARY BUSHNELL: As I understand it, these people came onto the school compound and began looting. On the compound are Americans and ex-pats. I mean, it is clear if you have a mob that is looting on your compound, the first thing you're going to want to do is to try and get them off your compound. So those kinds of discussions are going on. What they're saying, I have no idea. Okay?
Q Are you satisfied with the protection that the Rwandan military is giving to U.S. citizens so far?
ACTING ASSISTANT SECRETARY BUSHNELL: The Rwandan military is in the process of engaging itself in firefights with the Rwandan Patriotic Front. I think that the protection -- they have a couple of things to do. They have to stop the fighting that's going on in the streets, and they have to reorganize themselves. Their chief of staff was murdered -- I'm sorry -- was in the airplane crash. So that the protection of American citizens is not the first on their list.
Q Do we know if the plane was shot down?
ACTING ASSISTANT SECRETARY BUSHNELL: We do not know that the plane was shot down, and I think we need to be very clear about that. There were reports, but we have no confirmation, and no one other than Rwandan military have gone to the site crash.
Q Are there any problems yet in Burundi?
ACTING ASSISTANT SECRETARY BUSHNELL: There are no problems yet in Burundi. I think that the new President of Burundi has done an absolutely wonderful job of forming a crisis committee that includes the military, of going out into the city and the countryside and talking to people to tell them to stay calm.
Q Those 21 Americans at the missionary school, are they missioners, teachers? What are they?
ACTING ASSISTANT SECRETARY BUSHNELL: My understanding is that they are Seventh Day Adventist teachers.
Q Do you know much about the agenda of the RPF and who supplies them and what sort of training they've had?
ACTING ASSISTANT SECRETARY BUSHNELL: I don't know who supplies them. I don't know what kind of training they have. I do know that since August, when the Arusha Peace Accords were signed, they and the government were negotiating how to put in place a transition government which would lead to democratic elections. That transition government was to have been put in place at the end of December. The negotiations had continued and were continuing as to who would be members of the National Assembly, who would be government ministers in this transition government at the time of the airplane crash.
Q Is there any information on security at the airport? In case somebody wanted to land aircraft there, is it accessible?
ACTING ASSISTANT SECRETARY BUSHNELL: I would not advise anybody to land aircraft at the airport at this time. I wouldn't advise anybody to Kigali at this time.
Q I'm asking whether it's accessible if the United States or anybody else wanted to do an airlift to get people out?
ACTING ASSISTANT SECRETARY BUSHNELL: I understand that the Rwandan military is in the area of the airport. They are not on our radio-net so we do not have information about what is going on in that area.
Q One last question. Contacts with other governments: Can you elaborate on what's going on in terms of trying to plan an evacuation or how to proceed together?
ACTING ASSISTANT SECRETARY BUSHNELL: Whenever something like this happens at an overseas post, we are always in touch with people. People call us, we call them; how many people do you have, what are you thinking about, what are you doing? That kind of thing is going on. Again, I really don't want to comment anymore than that.
Q Thank you.
Q Mike, can you release a picture of our Ambassador there?
MR. McCURRY: Of Rawson? Yes, I'll see if we can do that. I'll see if we can get it.
I want to thank Acting Assistant Secretary Bushnell for that. That was helpful.
Before we go onto other questions, I want to return to something we've talked about the last several days, which is "Schindler's List." I've got a short statement.
The Department of State regrets efforts by some foreign governments to prevent the showing of the Oscar award winning Steven Spielberg film on the Nazi Holocaust, "Schindler's List." This film movingly portrays, in a way that is accessible to all cultures, the Twentieth Century's most horrible catastrophe. And it shows that even in the midst of genocide, one individual can make a difference.
The Department believes that this film should be available to people worldwide. The most effective way to avoid the recurrence of genocidal tragedy is to ensure that past acts of genocide are never forgotten.
Q Can you run over the countries again?
MR. McCURRY: David Johnson and I had some conversations yesterday with folks from Amblin Entertainment which is Mr. Spielberg's company. They've had extensive conversations, country-by-country. We've seen a lot of different reporting. I don't frankly have details on the different reactions each individual government has to the movie or what posture they're taking. We felt that a general statement that was non-country specific might be useful in expressing the views of the United States as they attempt to distribute the movie worldwide.
Q Was that the position Amblin Entertainment took, that they would like you to make a general statement?
MR. McCURRY: We contacted them, just asked if it would be helpful. They thought it might.
Q Did you discuss talking to the governments themselves, or have you talked to the governments themselves?
MR. McCURRY: I think a lot of our Embassies both in Asia and in the Arab world have been monitoring the movie as it's discussed by local governments and reporting back to us. So we've have had people who are following the issue.
Certainly, the statement that we've made today will be distributed to our diplomatic posts and they can use it as they see fit with foreign host governments.
Q Do you know if it's the content of the movie or the fact that the producer is Jewish that is causing this boycott? People from Elizabeth Taylor to Paul Newman have been boycotted in Arab countries regularly. Is it the subject or is it the Jewish fingerprints on it?
MR. McCURRY: Do not know. I don't know what would motivate people to object to the showing of this movie.
Q Can we ask about today's more current problems in that area? You've issued your public appeal; the Secretary of State went over to MacNeil/Lehrer yesterday and publicly urged the PLO and Arafat to say something -- more than it's a sorrowful event. I can't detect any response. Has there been any?
MR. McCURRY: Not that I'm aware of, no.
Q Isn't your relationship with the PLO based on their renunciation of terrorism? Does that cause any concern on your part whether you're dealing with a group that you ought to be dealing with, or not?
MR. McCURRY: I think that they did renounce terrorism. You're aware of the statements that Chairman Arafat made in September. I think I addressed the subject yesterday of the types of statements we would wish to see.
We would wish to see a condemnation of specific acts of violence that are clearly designed to derail the peace process.
Q You haven't got them. Does that mean case closed? Move onto the next subject?
MR. McCURRY: No.
Q What do you do about it now?
Q Wait a minute, Jim. Can I push it a little bit? Do you mind?
MR. McCURRY: Jim.
Q Has the State Department seen the actual PLO statement as issued, or just these reports you talked about?
MR. McCURRY: I don't know. When we discussed this issue here yesterday, at that time we had only seen news reports. I'll be honest, I forgot to check today whether we had actually seen the exact text. I know they were attempting to get it yesterday, and I'll check and see if we've seen the full text of what was issued.
Q What does the lack of a condemnation by Arafat do to the process which the United States is trying to nurture and push along here?
MR. McCURRY: I don't have an assessment of that. It's difficult to say. The talks are scheduled to reconvene on Sunday. That would be the best point at which we would have any sense of what impact it's had on the talks themselves.
Q Is silence helping them?
MR. McCURRY: I don't think it helps, no.
Q Last night on TV the Secretary said he was confident that the talks would resume; it would be a done deal in two weeks, although it's not clear where the two weeks fell. Whether he's confident it will resume in two weeks or it will be all finished in two weeks. Is that based on some private assurances you're getting from the Palestinians, that indeed they're going to move ahead and get their self-rule?
MR. McCURRY: I think it's our general assessment of where the parties are, that they remain fully engaged on implementing the Declaration. In the other tracks, the parties do wish to proceed with their discussions that we expect to resume here in Washington sometime this month.
Q I just wonder if you could be more specific than the Secretary was last night on exactly what you're doing to try and get Arafat and other Arab leaders to condemn this violence in the way you want it to. I don't understand why - - the Secretary said he's been known to talk to Arafat. Did he talk to him about this?
On what level is this being raised in Arab capitals, and by whom?
MR. McCURRY: We are talking to them. That would be the way it is. I'm not sure in each individual Arab capital at what level we're talking to them. I know in the case of the PLO, we have discussions at a fairly high level with them. They're often conducted by Ambassador Ross.
Q Has the U.S. raised with countries who are at least reputed to be financing Hamas that issue of late?
MR. McCURRY: The issue, generally, of their support of rejectionist elements that are opposed to the peace process? Yes, definitely.
Q On a related matter. Has the Department seen the comments from President Assad during his press availability with a senior Iranian official in which he talks about Syria not being committed to the peace process; about the Zionist plot, etc., etc. -- Zionist entity and how the peace process has gotten Syria no where and they're not about to concede anything to the Zionist state?
MR. McCURRY: We had something on that yesterday, Sid. I don't have that with me today. My impression of the thrust of it is that we were aware of the remarks and it did not square with the information that we have gotten in our contacts with Syrian Government officials.
Q Do you have any comment on the resignation in Japan that threatens to --
Q I guess most of these deadlines are flexible, but April 13 is approaching. Is it now clear to the State Department that there will not be an implementation of the Declaration of Principles by that date?
MR. McCURRY: I'm not certain that the Declaration of Principles calls for full implementation as of April 13. That's the date by which things are set in motion, and I wouldn't at this point rule out the possibility that they might make considerable progress in the days between now and then.
I think the parties themselves have said that they are closing fast on the very difficult issues that they've been addressing in their discussions, but there is an enormous amount of technical work that needs to be done to complete any agreement that would lead to the Declaration. This will likely be a fairly voluminous agreement between the parties and that might take some time. I think the parties have said that.
We acknowledge that. Our stress has been, it's important to do it right but it's important to do it quickly.
Q And are you still pinning your hopes on a Cabinet-level -- high- level talks -- here in Washington to tie down these final details?
MR. McCURRY: Not necessarily. The important thing is to continue the type of dialogue they've had in Cairo which has been productive in resolving issues and move that ahead so that they can conclude the implementation.
Q Are those talks in Cairo then seen by the State Department as a substitute for the proposed Washington talks?
MR. McCURRY: I don't think we have focused so much in recent days on the venue as we have on the content of the discussions. I think we're more interested in making sure that they are addressing the issues, resolving the issues and reaching some agreement on the Declaration itself. But, obviously, if there's any way in which it would help to conclude this agreement to have the parties here in Washington, we certainly would welcome the opportunity to be helpful in that respect.
They have made progress when they have talked face to face in the Cairo setting. That venue is sufficient.
Q To change the topic. An article from --
MR. McCURRY: If we're going to change the topic, I think he's got the next question, and then we'll come back. Jack.
Q The resignation in Tokyo with Japan -- the affect on the United States?
MR. McCURRY: Just a couple of things, to catch you up if you're not aware. The President had a good conversation, I understand, with Prime Minister Hosokawa at 9:40 this morning. The White House has put out some information on that call. The President told the Prime Minister that he was confident that the Prime Minister himself would be viewed as a historic figure. It's worth dwelling on a little bit.
Prime Minister Hosokawa's government realized many achievements during his tenure in office. His government passed historic political reform legislation that will have long range effects on Japan's political organization. His Administration made important contributions to bringing the Uruguay Round to a successful conclusion, including the opening of Japan's rice market. The Hosokawa government also helped improve U.S. access to Japan's construction and cellular phone markets.
The President, I think, as you know, met with Prime Minister Hosokawa on three occasions. The Prime Minister also had a good telephone conversation with Ambassador Mondale shortly after announcing his resignation last night. Without getting into too many of the details, he simply underscored the strength of the ties that do exist between the United States and Japan.
As to your question, Jack, we anticipate that the Prime Minister's successor in the new government will continue our strong and cooperative working relationship on a number of shared priorities, including among them our very strong security partnership on issues of both a regional and global nature, our very close cooperation on political issues and diplomatic issues in which we have worked in very close concert with the Government of Japan; and, of course, we will need to proceed with steps to address the imbalances that do exist in our economic relationship.
The United States continues to attach great importance to the commitments that were made by both sides under the U.S.- Japan framework, and we continue to look for meaningful steps by Japan to reduce its current account surprise and address market access barriers.
Q When you say you anticipate that the successor will continue this strong partnership, what you mean is, you hope, you pray, but you have no idea?
MR. McCURRY: If you can tell me who the Prime Minister is, it would be easier to answer.
Q It's part of the problem.
MR. McCURRY: Sid.
Q Mike, what is the practical effect on the framework (inaudible). Are they going to have to go on hold for a while? What does it actually mean?
MR. McCURRY: We'll have to see. We'll have to see what the disposition is of the next government. I'd remind you that the framework was established not with the Hosokawa government but with its predecessor. We're able to continue discussions under the framework with the succeeding government. We suspect, certainly, we will continue discussions on the framework with the next government.
Q But you have no guarantees that they will continue discussions on the framework?
MR. McCURRY: I don't think, when it comes to the framework, there have been any guarantees.
Q You're talking about broad goals. By any stretch of the imagination, do you have any commitments as to the details? For instance, that package which most people thought was not too fine anyhow?
MR. McCURRY: In recent days, you heard Ambassador Kantor address where they are on that. It's different within each of the five baskets. There have been some different discussions that have occurred. Not being the expert on that within our government, I wouldn't try to go through all of that. But I would say the importance of making good on these commitments and changing the status quo.
I think the Government of Japan on various occasions, as well as the United States Government, have acknowledged that these persistent trade imbalances do not best serve the world economy. It's not only the interests of the United States here, it's in the interest of global economic growth in which we pursue these discussions with Japan within the context of the framework.
Q Do you accept any responsibility for his political demise in the sense that he used up so much of his political capital in pushing through initiatives that were pressured on him by the U.S. Government?
MR. McCURRY: No. I don't accept that interpretation. If any student of Japan that has looked at a number of domestic political factors there would suggest that there was a very complicated situation involved with the Prime Minister's resignation. I don't think that's a readily available explanation.
Q Have the Japanese put any meat on the proposal on the framework a couple of weeks ago. Since they presented the proposal, have they gotten back to you with some of the - -
MR. McCURRY: Since February -- since the time of the summit?
Q Yes, right.
MR. McCURRY: There's been on-going discussion. Of course, I think as you know, there's been a macroeconomic package last month that was unveiled by the Japanese Government. Ambassador Kantor, I think you know, reacted on behalf of that. I'm not aware that there have been subsequent conversations since then in any detail, but I would want to double-check that with USTR and others to be absolutely sure.
Q Was the State Department notified -- prior to when Prime Minister Hosokawa announced his resignation, was the State Department notified prior to that?
MR. McCURRY: We've been assessing the political situation in Japan and had a good understanding of the events that led the Prime Minister to feel that he would resign. I think I'll leave it at that.
Q An article published in the Washington Post from Senator John Kerry about the drug trade in Colombia has caused much debate between the political figures in Colombia and the government, in general. He classifies Colombia as a democracy. He also said that Gustavo DeGrieff, the Attorney General, has seek a negotiation with the Cali cartel and have neglected to inform U.S. diplomats. Will you comment on that, please?
MR. McCURRY: I'd prefer not to try to trace back through the Senator's remarks and his discussion. I do have some things on the relationship between the United States and Colombia.
Our two countries have enjoyed a long-standing, close collaborative relationship, especially when it comes to the counternarcotics issue. But it is no secret that narco- corruption does exist in Colombia and impedes our government's mutual goal of dismantling the drug cartels. It's not a problem that's unique to Colombia by any stretch of the imagination. Drugs corrupt people and institutions worldwide.
I think we certainly talked about that earlier this week upon the release of our international narcotics report. Much of our counternarcotics assistance to Colombia is directed to exactly the kind of the institution- building within Colombia that would help combat the narco-corrupt elements.
I will say that in recent months our bilateral efforts have been damaged by lenient interpretation of legislative revisions of the Criminal Code and questionable actions by the Prosecutor General, Gustavo DeGrieff, who is using the Code to allow even major traffickers to walk away from crimes with lenient sentences.
We're also appalled that family members of witnesses who have provided secret testimony in the United States have been murdered. During this period no major trafficker has been prosecuted nor his assets forfeited despite United States Government-provided evidence to the Prosecutor's office.
As a result -- I think, as you know, we've talked about this before -- the United States Government halted evidence-sharing in some new cases with the office of the Prosecutor General.
I would make clear that we will continue to work with President Gaviria and are hopeful that his government and the government which succeeds it this August, after the elections, will take measures to help restore our bilateral judicial cooperation and the programs that have been designed to combat narco- corruption.
Q Mike, can you tell us a little more about what's going on at the U.N.? Is there anything that will stop the mandate from troops Rwanda being expanded? Also, have we made any request to the Rwandan Government to be allowed to come into that airfield and let people out, or are we still just monitoring the situation and waiting to see?
MR. McCURRY: On Rwanda, I don't have a lot to add to what Pru Bushnell said. I think my understanding of the discussions in the United Nations is that they're still going on. There are not decisions about how they would handle the mission. The mission of the UNAMIR currently is a fairly limited one. It's an observer mission. It does not have the authority under its existing mission mandate to protect foreign nationals from actions by the government. I think they are addressing those kinds of issues today in New York.
I don't have an update on where they are with that. The airport situation, I think she addressed in her last question. It's not a situation in which an airlift is possible at the moment.
Q But we haven't made a formal request. We would like to get in as soon as we can or whenever an airlift would be possible?
MR. McCURRY: We're exploring all of those issues and we're certainly discussing them at the United Nations. I think the Ambassador has had discussions with the defense minister, but I don't know whether he's had discussions or some type of contact with the defense minister, given that he's doing a lot of his contact by radio. But I just don't want to get into what type of steps we will take regarding the order of departure that Pru Bushnell told you about.
Q In the light of the start of your comments, you did say that the Secretary had assured the President that State and Pentagon are working together to assure the safety of the Americans, and she did talk about a departure order has been issued.
MR. McCURRY: Right.
Q What connection would the Pentagon have for that departure order?
MR. McCURRY: They're very good at moving people around the world.
Q That's what we're trying to find out. While discussing things with the United Nations and other nations, we're not ruling out unilateral action to take people out or to protect them as necessary?
MR. McCURRY: I think that the Secretary assured the President today that we would take the steps necessary to protect the safety of Americans. I don't want to go beyond that.
Q Could we talk about your Colombia statement for a second. You said that secret witnesses who have testified here in the United States have been killed in Colombia. I guess they're not so secret. Do you have any idea where the security breach was or whoever got information?
MR. McCURRY: No. My understanding is that I do believe we looked at that question in the past. I think that law enforcement officials are looking at that, and I've withheld prior comment on that before, because it is being investigated by law enforcement officials.
Q Do you have anything more to add to the Mexican story, the assassination of the political candidate?
MR. McCURRY: Not a lot. I'd say in general we've been following it closely over the last couple of days. It's clearly been a difficult period for Mexico, but I think in every instance in which Mexico has faced enormous challenges internally, the country has confronted those challenges with very reasoned responses.
I think in the wake of the tragic assassination of Presidential candidate Colosio, a new Presidential candidate, I think as you know, has been chosen to lead the PRI. The campaigning has resumed. I believe Zedillo had a rally in Tijuana yesterday where Colosio was assassinated.
The Mexican Government and Mexico's political parties are addressing concerns for greater transparency in the political system, with the expectation that significant reforms to the country's electoral system will be implemented.
I think you all know that peace talks with the rebel forces in Chiapas may also resume shortly, and that certainly would be positive.
Q Have they asked for any help from this government in solving the assassination dilemma?
MR. McCURRY: There have been contacts between U.S. law enforcement officials and Mexican law enforcement officials. I'd just prefer not to comment on that. You can go try to get some information at the FBI. I doubt very much that they're going to want to say much about that contact either.
Q Back to Rwanda for a minute. Why aren't there any military guards there?
MR. McCURRY: Why aren't there -- do you mean --
Q U.S. military guards.
MR. McCURRY: Marine guards there.
Q Marines or anybody else.
MR. McCURRY: I don't know. I'll take the question.
Q Cost-cutting measure?
MR. McCURRY: I'll take the question and find out.
Q Is it a matter of money?
MR. McCURRY: I have no idea. I don't know.
Q Has there been any response to the U.S. call for quick deployment of peacekeepers to Gorazde? Has there been any firm position on that?
MR. McCURRY: Not that I'm aware of, no. I think there's been a request from the United Nations for us to look into the question of whether or not we could airlift the Ukrainian UNPROFOR unit from Kiev to Bosnia quickly, and I think we are in discussions with the Pentagon right now on that, with the intent of trying to move ahead very quickly with that, since that's something that we have acknowledged that we would be willing to do.
Q Well, the Secretary said last night on MacNeil/Lehrer that it might not be the Ukrainians. It could be the British or the French, somebody who's in-country already and closer at hand.
MR. McCURRY: That would be something I think General Rose would have to decide on. He knows his deployments better than the United States, to be sure, but that is something that I think General Rose is taking up.
Q Has Ukraine said, "Come get us," yet? I mean, I understood that they weren't really prepared to ship any troops out for a little while.
MR. McCURRY: I think we've been asked only to look into whether we could provide it. I don't think there has been a request that has been directed to going and picking up individual units and transporting them to the region.
Q Is this on the fast-track, or isn't it on a fast- track?
MR. McCURRY: We would like it to be on a fast-track, and I think that's the United Nations' determination ultimately.
Q Mike, is the administration's sort of rejiggering of its position on use of force in Bosnia, in Gorazde, related at all to reports yesterday that the United Nations has suppressed information about the degree of attacks on Gorazde. Were you all aware of the actual situation going on there with the shelling, or were you also being misled by the United Nations?
MR. McCURRY: That question is loaded up so high. Why don't we just ask a simple question: Have we rejiggered our efforts related to Bosnia? No. There hasn't been anything different about what we've told you since last Sunday, as we keep trying to tell you over and over again, but some people can't seem to quite grasp that point.
Q Mike, to what extent was the Secretary and the State Department in general involved in Lake's speech yesterday? How much coordination went into that address?
MR. McCURRY: The same as we usually do with a speech -- an important speech given by one of the principal officers. I think the draft circulates and people comment and the speech is given.
Q Was there a perceived need to clarify the various statements that have come from senior administration officials this week about the use of force?
MR. McCURRY: Not in the view of Secretary Christopher.
Q Mike, back to Colombia. And we know you're speaking from (inaudible) of evidence. Are you speaking for the new elections, the new government or the government in general?
MR. McCURRY: I don't know the answer to that. I'll have to look into that. We'll find that out.
Q Mike, there's 15 U.N. peacekeepers in Gorazde right now. Is that situation imperiled to the extent that you would ask NATO to exercise its threat to attack Serb positions?
MR. McCURRY: It is a good question. They are UNPROFOR units, and they can make a request if under attack for NATO close air support. To my knowledge, the situation in Gorazde is there's been some sporadic fighting, and we get mixed reports. In fact, we get mixed reports. We were getting mixed reports, and one of the reasons why Rose wanted more people to go in, Sid, is to get more and more reliable information about how the forces were arrayed.
Q So if they came under attack, then, the whole issue of air cover for them is operational -- where they go. You could go bomb them conceivably.
MR. McCURRY: Let me double-check this for the following reason. I believe that those units or observers there called U.N. Military Observers -- UNMOs -- I think they are attached to UNPROFOR, and I see no reason that I know of why they wouldn't be considered UNPROFOR units that could request assistance if they were under attack. I know of no reason why they wouldn't, but I think I ought to just make sure that that is in fact something that is within their rules of engagement or their orders, or whatever, that they do have a right to request.
Q More simply, the Secretary on television last night --
MR. McCURRY: But, clearly, I'd make the point that's obvious, having 15 there is a lot different from having, you know, a force of 800 or plus, which might be able to move around more effectively in a city now that has 65,000 people- plus trapped. I mean, it would be more effective to have additional units there, which is why we would like to see additional units there as soon as possible.
Q Right. While we're speaking about that, he said sending in those peacekeepers "gives us a military option." So, you know, does 15 give you a military option? I guess that's what's not clear.
MR. McCURRY: I would think so, yes. But to be absolutely sure, I'll double-check that.
Q Mike, just procedurally, if there are U.N. peacekeepers in Gorazde, they feel they're under attack, they request airstrikes, to who, and then what happens?
MR. McCURRY: If you've watched the Pentagon's briefings the last couple of days, they've gone extensively into the command and control chain in a request like that, so I won't attempt to do any better than they've done over there. But my understanding is that the request is relayed through the U.N. to NATO, because NATO would be -- is the provider of the close air support, and it then runs -- I believe that that's the sole chain of command. I don't think it's not a similar situation in which there is some type of icebreaker authority. That's my understanding. But I would advise you to check very carefully over at the Pentagon, because I think they've been going through this in some elaborate detail in recent days.
Q The Post had a story this morning on Russia and its chemical program. Do you have something to say about that?
MR. McCURRY: I do have a little bit about that. I think the United States has determined that the Russian offensive biological warfare program inherited from the Soviet Union violated the Biological Weapons Convention through at least March of 1992. The Soviet offensive program, I think as those of you who have followed this know, was a very massive program. It included production, weaponization and stockpiling.
The status of the program since that time, frankly, remains a little unclear. The U.S. remains concerned about the Russian biological weapons program. We have been engaged in an effort to work with the Russian leadership to ensure complete termination of the illegal program and to pursue a number of measures to build confidence in Russian compliance with the biological weapons convention.
We first raised the issue with the Russians at the highest level. After Russia admitted that the former Soviet Government had violated the BWC, President Yeltsin issued a decree in April of 1992 which prohibited such illegal activities. A September 1992 joint statement confirmed the commitment of the United States, United Kingdom and Russia to full compliance with the Biological Weapons Convention and contains several confidence-building measures.
Russia agreed that U.S. and U.K. experts could visit non-military biological sites in Russia, and we've conducted a number of such visits. Russian experts visit comparable facilities here in the United States as well.
I'd say in addition to that, I think you probably know that there have been some personnel changes in Russia which I can't comment on here, but the Russians have and it seemed to be related to this overall issue.
Q You said that basically, though, the status of the program to you is unclear.
MR. McCURRY: Right.
Q So you still think that they're producing?
MR. McCURRY: We are engaged in dialogue with them to find out answers to questions like that.
Q It would shake your confidence in the other programs, like their control over nuclear weapons?
MR. McCURRY: I think we have some confidence in -- actually have a great deal of confidence in President Yeltsin's personal commitment to end the program that was conducted by the former Soviet Government, and our discussions with them have been built off of some of the commitments that President Yeltsin has given to, among others, President Clinton.
Q The bottom line is, though, that even though you've had discussions with them, you have commitments with them, you do not have a straight answer as to whether they're continuing this program?
MR. McCURRY: We have discussions with them that would satisfy us in greater detail on that question.
Q That need to satisfy you or --
MR. McCURRY: That would satisfy us in greater detail. We are looking for more answers.
Q You are looking for more answers.
MR. McCURRY: Yes.
Q What about the chemical weapons, too. Strobe Talbott recently told the Senate that there was some concern about that.
MR. McCURRY: Carol, I didn't check on that. That's right. That as within his testimony. I'm not aware of anything new since his testimony, but I can go back and look at it.
Q You know, your reference to personal changes. When the Soviet Union disintegrated and when there was a question and concern with the Ukrainians or whoever get their hands on weapons, if I remember right, there was great confidence that there was this sort of -- what should I call it? -- you know, experienced, well regarded, well trained force that they had that had taken charge of nuclear weapons and would remain in charge -- sort of an elite corps that had not been disturbed by the disruption and the dissolution.
MR. McCURRY: We're talking about different -- these are two different programs.
Q I know they're different, but I would imagine there would be some sort of a -- you would hope for special care in all these programs, and I don't know that you can be confident of that anymore.
MR. McCURRY: I'm commenting on the biological weapons program. We do have an effort underway there, and I don't know that they handle those with the same personnel or with the same procedures. There are different safeguards that exist and obviously different international conventions that exist, and we're dealing here with biological weapons.
Q Thank you.
MR. McCURRY: You're welcome.
(The briefing concluded at 1:35 p.m.)
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