U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE DAILY PRESS BRIEFING Wednesday, April 13, 1994 Briefer: Michael McCurry FORMER YUGOSLAVIA Suppression of Media Coverage/US Reaction ....... 1-2 Churkin's Discussions with Serbs/Statement re: Lifting Sanctions ............................. 2 Situation Update/Fighting/Diplomacy ............. 2-4,12-16 Harassment of UN Personnel/UN Envoy's Activities 3,5 US-Russian Working Relationship ................. 14-15 US Warning of Increased Hazards at Gorazde ...... 15-16 MIDDLE EAST PEACE PROCESS Terrorist Attack on Israelis/Responsibility ..... 5-11 -- US Reaction ................................. 5-6 -- Arafat Reaction/Letter to President Clinton . 7,10 Implementing the Declaration of Principles ...... 7-10 Israeli Ambassador's Meeting at Department/ White House ................................... 8 Jordan's Participation/Aqaba Sanctions .......... 9 SINGAPORE Prospects for Caning of American ................ 11-12 RWANDA Update .......................................... 13 DEPARTMENT Strobe Talbott's Meetings/Speeches on Trip ...... 13-14 SOUTH AFRICA Mediation between Parties ....................... 16 CHINA Joint Commission on Science and Technology Meeting in US ................................. 17 -- Secretary's Meeting with Delegation Head .. 17-18 -- Human Rights as Agenda Item ........... 17 Asst. Secretary Gallucci's Visit ................ 17-18 MFN ............................................. 19 (###)
DEPARTMENT OF STATE DAILY PRESS BRIEFING
WEDNESDAY, APRIL 13, 1994, 1:20 P.M. (ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED)
MR. McCURRY: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. I know I'm a little bit late, but I know a lot of you wanted to watch the President as he went through that very stimulating questioning by many of your bosses over at the American Society of Newspaper Editors. I apologize for being a little bit late.
I'd like to start with a statement. We've learned this morning that the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia -- that's Serbia-Montenegro -- has revoked press credentials for CNN and AFP. In addition, we understand that a Washington Post reporter has been denied a visa to enter Serbia. There's no technical misunderstanding, apparently, about the issues involved here. These are premeditated actions to suppress the flow of information from Serbia to the rest of the world.
Our view of this, in short, is that this stinks. We deplore the Belgrade's regimes disregard for the most basic internationally agreed principles protecting free speech and freedom of the press. It's bad enough that Belgrade chooses through its state-run media monopoly to distort and misrepresent the on-going events in the former Yugoslavia to its own people. It is even worse to obstruct private news agencies as they go about their business in Serbia seeking the truth.
We call upon the Belgrade regime to restore CNN's and AFP's press credentials and to provide the Post reporters a visa to travel to Serbia.
Q Did you raise it with them directly, and did they offer a rationale for doing it?
MR. McCURRY: I believe that they've been demarched on the subject. I haven't been advised of their response. I think that might be the reference to a technical misunderstanding. They are perhaps alleging that, but I'll double-check if that's, in fact, the response.
Q Would there be any consideration of tit-for-tat expulsions?
MR. McCURRY: I don't have quick answer to that, but that's not the way we believe that you respond to this. Obstructing other journalists in the conduct of their job, getting information, that inhibits further the flow of information. That doesn't serve the a useful purpose.
These universally recognized rights; the right of societies to free information. We just believe that the Government of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia should acknowledge that.
Q On the substance of Bosnia, Vitaly Churkin is being quoted today as suggesting that sanctions ought to be lifted against Serbia or the rump Yugoslavia as a way of speeding peace efforts. Is this something that the United States looks favorably on?
MR. McCURRY: Alan, I just saw his remarks reported on the wire. There's a lot going on in the dialogue that Deputy Foreign Minister Churkin is having with the Serbs. I read his remarks as being something to the effect that the ultimate goal of the activity that he's engaged in is to have a political settlement which should not be an impossible target to attain if all the sides exercise restraint.
If I'm not mistaken, he cast normalcy and relative stability, as he said it, in the future. He tied that to the lifting of sanctions.
If his view is that once there is a peace settlement that is being fully implemented by the parties, you can begin to look at the question of relaxing sanctions. That's not a view that's inconsistent with the view of the United States. But I will have to find out more about exactly what he said.
I think it's more important that he has had some discussions today with the Serbs in Pale. Ambassador Redman, of course, is in Sarajevo. I think the U.N. Special Representative Akashi is also going to have discussions in Pale with the Serbs. They're working towards the goals that the international community here, which are, (1) to bring about a cessation of the shelling around Gorazde; (2) to pull back -- have the Serbs pull back -- so that they can no longer continue the point-blank shelling of Gorazde; and then (3) move onto discussions about an overall cessation of hostilities.
It's very clear that the Bosnian Government wants there to be a stop to the shelling and a pullback in order to continue with long-term discussions. But I think the first step perhaps will be to see if we can some additional U.N. personnel within Gorazde to monitor the situation there. There have been, I understand, some fairly productive discussions today on that.
Q Are they also discussing the release of the U.N. hostages?
MR. McCURRY: I'm not sure you would say "hostages." They're U.N. military observers who are being harassed and intimidated in various ways by the Serbs and, in some cases, local Serb police as they clearly express some opposition to the recent air strikes. But I believe that Special Representative Akashi has been in discussion with the Bosnian Serbs, and I think he plans also a discussion with Serbian leader Milosevic about that situation. They're attempting to address it.
Q There are roads and bridges by which the Bosnian Serbs get most of their military equipment -- fair game for U.N. -- NATO -- U.S. air attacks on the proposition that, after all, that military equipment getting to the Serbs is then used to shell and to put U.N. peacekeepers in danger?
And, secondly, if you have it -- an update -- what the on-the-ground situation is in Bihac? Let me call them the Walker-Harris group. It's talking about 1,500 troops coming in since April, 20; tanks; a new Serb push on that enclave?
MR. McCURRY: On the first question, I'm not going to get into a discussion of targeting here for obvious reasons.
On the second, on the situation in Bihac, that's been a situation around the Krajina portion of Western Bosnia in which the Bosnian Serbs and the Croatians have had disputed territory. There's also sort of an independence movement addressing that pocket.
I did not have a report of any fighting or increased military activity around that safe area, but I will certainly check into that.
Q A buildup --
MR. McCURRY: A buildup is being --
Q And from Krajina exactly, from their buddies across the line.
MR. McCURRY: There have been, I think as you know, discussions, again, that Churkin has been mediating in Zagreb between the Croats and the Serbs on the resolution of the Krajina issue, and those have been sort of progressing at various stages in the last several weeks.
Q There's a wire report that Churkin has been able to arrange a cease-fire in Gorazde. Do we have any information about that?
MR. McCURRY: We're in very close contact with Churkin. While he's negotiating, Redman has been talking directly to the Bosnian Government and there's been a lot of back and forth there. I think at this point, I'd just like to hold off and wait and see how things develop there.
It's been relatively quiet in Gorazde today. There have been some sporadic reports of artillery fire, but certainly nothing like the offensive that we witnessed over the weekend.
Q Has Redman met with any Serbs today?
MR. McCURRY: No, he had not met directly with the Serbs, to my knowledge. They cancelled the meeting that was scheduled for yesterday and they've not reinitiated contact, but they are having some contact now with Churkin. They have now, I believe, indicated an interest in meeting with Akashi. So we're looking for those discussions to continue; probably during the course of tomorrow.
Q Apart from the cessation of the shelling, are the Serbs forces remaining in place or is there any sign that they are sort of advancing?
MR. McCURRY: There's been some skirmishes in some of the hillside surrounding Gorazde and some movements in that area. We are most concerned about offensive advances directly into Gorazde, and we haven't seen evidence of that.
Q You haven't seen any forward movement of troops or materiel?
MR. McCURRY: There's been movement but not the type of persistent onslaught that we were seeing over the weekend.
Q Mike, the picture seems to be developing that Churkin talks to the Serbs and that Redman talks to the Muslims. Are you worried at all that we're getting the picture here of the Russians are the mentors of the Serbs, in a sense, and the United States are the mentors of the Muslim government and therefore it's difficult to pursue an effective mediation here with both big powers associated with one side of the conflict?
MR. McCURRY: No, I'm not worried about that. Although, obviously, at some point they all need to talk to each other if there will be a resolution.
What the discussions are aiming towards, obviously, from our point of view, is to get them back to the point they were at prior to last weekend where they were having some useful discussions about both a cessation of hostilities around Bosnia and then also moving forward on discussions about a long-term settlement.
Q If I may ask a question about the Middle East. Today --
MR. McCURRY: Just hold on. We've got some more on Bosnia.
Q You seem to be indicating that the U.S. is not sure what Vitaly Churkin has or hasn't gotten from the Serbs. Is that a correct assessment, or --
MR. McCURRY: No. I think we have good conversations. I'm just not saying much publicly about it.
Q Is there one or more than one U.N. observer who has disappeared and is believed to be held by Serbs?
MR. McCURRY: There was one case that they were looking at that they frankly did not have complete information on.
I'll have to check and see. I had seen an update on that earlier today. Let me just check further on it, Mark. I believe there was something to that account.
Q There's somebody with a satellite problem. Besides, there was a great expectation the President would have something to say about the continuing terrorism in Israel.
Can we go back to Bosnia in a bit and help this fellow out here?
MR. McCURRY: Sure. I understand the problem. As you all know, there's been yet another act of terrorism directed against innocent victims in the Middle East by those who oppose any reconciliation among the Israeli and Palestinian people. We condemn the second of terror directed against Israeli citizens in the last week and extend our condolences and our sympathy to the victims of this brutality.
The purpose of the these recent attacks against Israelis as well as acts of terror directed against innocent Palestinians is very, very clear. The enemies of peace are attacking not only innocent civilians but also the only process through which peace can be achieved in the Middle East.
Israelis and Palestinians alike suffer the consequences of the acts of these few fanatics who are committed only to violence.
In the last week, Israeli and Palestinian negotiators have made substantial progress towards finalizing arrangements for implementation of the Declaration of Principles. The tragedy today re-enforces the urgency of coming to closure now on implementation.
Once again, we call on all of those who would make peace to reject the violence by rededicating themselves to achieving agreements which will improve the lives of the peoples of the region. Those who use violence and terror must not be allowed to achieve their ends.
Q Mike, I don't know if you noted it, but the call to responsibility for this latest attack was made in Jordan, not in the occupied territories as it has been. A certain embassy in town here is making a big deal out of that. Do you all note that? And does that say anything to about --
MR. McCURRY: We noted it, although I believe the reports we've seen indicated that Hamas was the organization claiming responsibility.
Q Not Jordan? What does that say to you? Is Jordan (inaudible) Hamas?
MR. McCURRY: Hamas operates in the region. Hamas operates extensively in the territories and claims credit for the prior terrorist attack as well.
Q Can we broaden that question?
MR. McCURRY: Yes.
Q Were any of the Arab countries, Jordan included -- that you're urging Israel to come to terms with and, indeed, to give up land to -- are any of them supporting Hamas in any way that the U.S. has been able to determine?
MR. McCURRY: I'd want to get a very precise answer on that. I think in some cases we address those issues in our reports on terrorist organizations and terrorist activities. But, in this case, I will go back and update any information that we've got on that.
Q Are you happy with Arafat's statement at this time?
MR. McCURRY: As you know, he gave a speech in Strasbourg today and apparently departed from his prepared remarks, indicating that this was an attack on innocent Israeli civilians and it strikes at the heart of the peace process. I believe he said that he rejected these regrettable actions by extremists.
I would also note that Chairman Arafat has sent a letter to President Clinton, which was received at the White House today. The Chairman said, "That he regretted and strongly rejected such actions because they are directed against innocent people and claim to strike against the peace process and destroy it."
Q Is that the same as condemning things? His regret -- "so sorry" the same as condemning?
MR. McCURRY: It's clear from his statements that the Chairman recognizes these acts for what they are, and he strongly rejects them.
Obviously, we think that all parties should condemn violent acts against innocent people in the strongest possible terms. It goes without saying, a stronger statement than the one that the Chairman made last week.
Q The Palestinians have asked the Americans to step into the Gaza-Jericho negotiations because they are claiming the Israelis are being extremely difficult and hard, and progress is not really obtained.
Is there any change in the American position? With all this vicious violence coming up in the region, is there any attempt to changing the American position?
MR. McCURRY: We have been in very close contact with the parties, I would say on an almost constant basis. Our view remains the same.
Let me step back a second and put it in that context. You've got an agreement -- a Declaration of Principles -- that the Israelis and the PLO, in fact, negotiated themselves with assistance with the Norwegians, but they did this face to face directly.
It is very important for them, as they implement this agreement, having negotiated it themselves, for them to come to common understandings about what the Declaration itself means and then build the confidence and trust in each other necessary to carry it out. They have to carry out this agreement once they reach the understandings on implementation itself.
We can be there to assist, as we can. We can be there to offer suggestions. But ultimately the work of getting this implementation agreement concluded is going to have to be done directly between the parties themselves. Because they have been making progress in the talks that have been occurring in Cairo, it is, I think, important for the United States to support the work that they're doing.
Q On a tactical level entirely, you must have noted that they solved the police problem, apparently, but have agreed that if there are details that can't be resolved, they should be kicked down the road and get started with basically an agreement on most issues. Is that a strategy the U.S. supports?
MR. McCURRY: We support what the parties agree to between themselves to move the process forward. We think full implementation of the Declaration is what the objective needs to be and they need to do that as quickly as possible; that they need to take the steps that will begin to put the peace process in motion. I think that's what they're attempting to do in some of the discussions that they've had.
They will resume their talks again on Sunday. They've taken a short break for the holidays in Israel. That work, we think, is very important for them to continue. The reason, of course, is because it is, exactly as we say over and over again, that is exactly the type of thing that will make a difference, we believe, when we see acts of violence like the ones that we've witnessed today.
Q Mike, I understand that the Israeli Ambassador either spoke with or met with an official here and an official at the White House today to discuss their concern about the continued, what they call terrorist attacks. Can you say who he met with?
MR. McCURRY: Who Itamar (Rabinovich) met? I don't know. I'll find out.
Q You'll take that?
MR. McCURRY: I'll take the question. We have such frequent contact with them, I wouldn't see that as unusual, but I'll find out.
Q When you say "complete and implement as soon as possible," you're talking in the framework of various deadlines that are missed and then new deadlines are set, and Peres set one at the end of the month and then Rabin suggested it might have to be mid-May.
From your discussions with both sides, what is an achievable and appropriate target date?
MR. McCURRY: There's different timelines associated with all the different complicated parts of the Declaration. There was one deadline which, clearly, was this week and the parties have discussed that themselves. But there is a staged implementation of many things, ranging from the economic issues; they're associated with the Palestinian Economic Commission on Development and Reconstruction, all the way over to the security issues. They're related to withdrawal.
So, in a sense, the timing originally in the Declaration sort of flowed. I think the issue that the parties face now is how they can continue to make sure they're making progress forward on a variety of these things as quickly as possible.
I guess the stress would be getting the implementation started as quickly as possible and then having the parties seeing that they complete the things they commit to as they move through the months ahead.
It's not an easy answer. There's no exact target date other than to say that they need to move quickly to begin implementing the agreement they reached.
Q Hussein came out publicly and said that he will not come back to the peace talks unless the U.S. would lift the embargo on the Aqaba. Has there been any talk about this?
MR. McCURRY: There's been a great deal of discussion on that issue. I think that at the time that he indicated that -- I guess that was several weeks ago -- we said that this is something that we had been addressing. We were exploring ideas that we felt would be useful in resolving some of the concerns that the Government of Jordan has and the King has about the economic impact of sanctions enforcement and the multinational interdiction force. We think that those discussions seem to be proceeding to a point where it looks like they might make some progress, but we'll have to wait and see how things go.
Q Mike, it's still a question of not lifting the embargo but of changing the way it's enforced?
MR. McCURRY: That is correct. It is adjusting the way that you do the interdictions and making some alterations in the way the sanctions regime itself is enforced that relieve some of the economic burden on Jordan. That's the issue.
Q The Jordanians say there will be talks on that next week in this town. Can you confirm that?
MR. McCURRY: I can't confirm that. I didn't know that. I'll check and see. There have been a variety of discussions at different levels. I'll find out more about what they're referring to. I was not aware of that.
Q Mike, could we go back to Arafat's letter to the President? Is there anymore you can tell us about it? When it was received; was it in response to a communication that was sent?
MR. McCURRY: I can't. The information I have is that it was a letter that was dispatched to us in advance by our post with the suggestion that the copy itself would arrive overnight.
The word that I had of it was from our Embassy in Tunis.
Q Today's dispatch?
MR. McCURRY: This was received today.
Q Before today's attack. I mean, it was sent before today's attack?
MR. McCURRY: I will double-check that. I think it was sent after. I'll check.
Q It didn't deal with anything other than the terrorism issue? Were there other points in there?
MR. McCURRY: It addressed the peace process. It certainly called on the United States to do what it could to help advance the peace process.
Q Mike, to be awfully picky, you called this the second. This is really picky. It's not the second attack. You used the word "terrorism" which is something we note -- some of us -- as significant. When you discover terrorism, the State Department concludes an attack is an act of terrorism. Some people think it's an act of political something or other.
Only two? Did you mean, really, that you've concluded that two of these -- what? -- four attacks were terrorist attacks and the other two were something else? Or were you just talking about the two biggies?
MR. McCURRY: I wasn't drawing any distinction on any act of violence that is engaged in by enemies of the peace process. They're all condemnable, and we do condemn them.
Q But you called them "terrorist attacks." You mean that, don't you?
MR. McCURRY: When we call something a terrorist attack, we mean it; yes.
Q And you (inaudible).
MR. McCURRY: There have been a variety of attacks. We said these two are clearly terrorist attacks. There have been acts of violence, acts of terrorism directed against the peace process for some time.
Q (inaudible) a pregnant woman by a settler yesterday -- is that in this same category?
MR. McCURRY: I think it's in the category of acts of violence on the ground that are initiated by those who are trying to kill not only human beings but the peace process itself.
Q Can we take a filing break?
MR. McCURRY: Filing break for all those who need a filing break.
Q Could you bring us up to date on the Singapore?
MR. McCURRY: Singapore? I really didn't have much new on it.
Q Mr. Lee has spoken out on the subject. Any reaction to his comments?
MR. McCURRY: I think that we are still hoping for favorable consideration of Mr. Fay's appeal for clemency. I don't have anything new on that to add.
Senior Minister Lee expressed his own views, and we obviously don't share those views. But I don't have anything further on that.
Q Mike, following on that --
MR. McCURRY: Yes. Mark.
Q Does the United States and this Department feel that they have done everything possible to prevent the caning?
MR. McCURRY: Yes.
Q Judging from what Secretary Christopher said on Sunday, apart from whatever effect it may have on private American tourism or visits to Singapore, there is no other change in the relationship that would result from the caning actually taking place, right? It won't bring any change in the relationship?
MR. McCURRY: It is like any other issue that we deal with bilaterally as we've dealt with in this issue. It is a factor as we examine the bilateral relationship. The one thing I think might be significant, I think as the Secretary is suggesting, is that there are some American corporations doing business in Singapore that might decide for themselves whether they consider it appropriate to make their own appeals for clemency or to express themselves on the issue.
And I note that the President of the American Chamber of Commerce in Singapore issued a statement in early March relating to the Michael Fay case. He said he was shaken by what they had seen there, and I think that that type of action does probably have some impact on the Government of Singapore.
Q Go back to Bosnia. There was a report in The New York Times today that the Administration and the U.N. are considering more aggressive use of airstrikes if the Serbs don't retreat and don't go back to the negotiating table. Can you talk a little bit about that?
MR. McCURRY: No.
Q Is that accurate?
MR. McCURRY: We are discussing with our allies and others at the Security Council and UNPROFOR troop contributing nations, clearly the Government of Russia, clearly others in Europe, how we can best deal with the situation in Bosnia and how we can advance the diplomacy. There's already been use of force in assistance of the diplomatic objectives that we have in Bosnia, and we discuss the status of that diplomacy and the status of the military action there, at this point, almost on an hourly basis.
Q Is it fair to say, though, that at this point in time you don't have a clear agreed-upon plan for how you're going to proceed?
MR. McCURRY: I think there are a lot of ideas that are being shared amongst those who are addressing this in a very determined way, and I think that there is a fair amount of consensus on how to proceed. But I'm not going to declare that from this podium.
Q Has there been any movement in the past couple of days toward a formal exclusion zone in Gorazde a la Sarajevo?
MR. McCURRY: There have been discussions of that idea, but I wouldn't suggest that there has been any formal proposal at either the United Nations or the North Atlantic Council to put that idea before the respective memberships of those.
Q Do you have anything more on the situation in Rwanda, and can you tell me --
Q Wait -- I'm sorry. Okay, go ahead.
Q -- if you've talked to the Rwandan --
MR. McCURRY: That's okay. I can bounce around.
Q -- the Rwandan Patriotic Front.
MR. McCURRY: I checked into that Betsy. I'm not aware that we have had any discussions with the Rwandan Patriotic Front. At this point our diplomatic presence in Rwanda no longer exists. The Embassy itself has suspended operations. The Ambassador has been in Bujumbura and is getting ready to come back here to the United States, so we wouldn't have had an avenue to have contact with them.
So I'm not aware of any contact. There are one or two Americans who remain at their own choice at various points, some of them associated, I believe, with international relief organizations. But I don't think there's been much contact with the RFP.
Q Have we gotten any information about Strobe Talbott's trip?
MR. McCURRY: Yes. I got a little bit about where he's been. The Deputy Secretary, I think as you know, visited Poland, Slovakia and Belgium, April 10-13. He was in Warsaw from the evening of April 10 to the morning of April 12.
He met with President Walesa, Prime Minister Pawlak, Foreign Minister Olechowski, foreign policy intellectuals, members of the American business community and, of course, members of the press.
The Deputy Secretary discussed the Partnership for Peace initiative, security issues and our bilateral agenda with the Polish Government.
The Secretary visited Bratislava on April 12. He met there with President Kovac, Prime Minister Moravcik, Foreign Minister Kukan, a cross-section of the Slovak political spectrum and members of the media.
The Deputy Secretary underscored our desire to pursue an effective and close working relationship with the new Slovak Government. Today, April 13, the Deputy Secretary is in Belgium where he briefed NATO allies, met with EU and Belgian officials, and addressed the opening session of the Joint Europe/New Independent States' Chiefs of Mission Conference that the United States has underway now in Brussels.
The Deputy Secretary does plan to return home late tomorrow, and we are contacting the party to see if he might want to give you a little trip report.
Q Appropos of his talks in Brussels, what came out of it vis-a-vis the relationship between the United States and Russia and the Alliance and Russia, given the troubles of the last couple of days?
MR. McCURRY: I have not had a full readout. I haven't seen any reporting cable on the trip yet. I've seen some press accounts, so he may have had a little session and addressed that issue with some reporters in Brussels. But I just haven't seen a full account myself of his discussions today.
Q How about the assessment here? Once again the Russians have made a pretty strong statement about feeling the airstrikes have worsened the situation in Bosnia. Yeltsin made some remarks that suggest that he may be second- guessing again the Partnership for Peace. I mean, the tone seems to be ominous.
MR. McCURRY: I don't detect anything ominous in the tone of the working relationship we have with the Russians as it relates to Bosnia, and we are still getting a full transcript of President Yeltsin's speech yesterday in Spain so that we'll be able to comment on it further.
But we continue to believe Russia's active participation in the Partnership for Peace will be to the mutual benefit of both Russia and NATO.
Q Do you think these comments are just for public consumption, domestic consumption?
MR. McCURRY: I'd say we have a good, strong working relationship with Russia on matters related to Bosnia.
Q But do you think the Partnership for Peace plan will go ahead as scheduled the 21st of April?
MR. McCURRY: I'm not aware of any change in plans for Foreign Minister Kozyrev to be in Brussels April 21.
Q Forgive me if you addressed this while I was gone, but if the conditions could be prepared around Gorazde, would the United States support at the U.N. a Sarajevo-type exclusion zone?
MR. McCURRY: I don't want to speculate at this point about what steps they can take to try to effect an end to the shelling of Gorazde. The simplest and best way for the shelling of Gorazde to stop is for the Serbs themselves to just stop it. That's the first and best way. That might be attainable, based on some of the discussions that are about to happen, because that's, after all, the goal. The goal is to get them to stop the offensive and to stop the shelling of Gorazde proper.
But at this point I don't want to speculate about what is the best way to make that happen, because in fact the Serbs have it in their power to do it.
Q This statement that you put out last night, advising organizations with Americans in Bosnia to take precautions seemed somewhat vague. Can you elaborate or explain that a bit better?
MR. McCURRY: I've got a copy of it here. I don't know that it was vague. It accompanies what is already a standing travel warning that is in place, because there's been a travel warning in effect for Bosnia since October of 1992.
But the statement itself is pretty clear: It said, "Recent U.N. military action intended to halt attacks on the U.N. safe area of Gorazde may heighten the danger to international relief workers and other foreign nationals, including Americans in Bosnia-Herzegovina. There are some reports that Bosnian Serb forces may have detained some French employees of one non-governmental organization near Sarajevo."
This is the matter we talked about yesterday, I think.
"The situation is fluid and warrants close monitoring, and organizations with American employees in Bosnia may wish to evaluate carefully the security situation of those employees and consider implementing contingency plans to assure their safety."
We put this issue out to advise private organizations and other organizations any time we tell much the same thing to U.S. personnel in these places, and it's obvious that we've been discussing the security situation with some of our personnel in Bosnia.
Q What sort of precautions might they consider?
MR. McCURRY: If they have any questions about that, we'd be happy to help them talk to the security people, but I don't discuss security arrangements openly.
Q Is the U.S. involved in any way in the negotiations in South Africa now or are you just leaving it to the outside mediators?
MR. McCURRY: We have been monitoring it very carefully. I think Ambassador Lyman has talked to the parties, as I've indicated, on a lot of occasions. We help by encouraging them to try to hold the types of meetings that would lead to some forward movement on the scope and coverage of the election itself.
But I think you're aware that they have brought in Dr. Kissinger and some others now on a separate effort of mediation, and certainly we watch to see what type of progress they can make.
Q Mike, a question from our New York Bureau. They note a report in the South China Morning Post that suggests a State Department team of immigration officials are in Beijing now, talking about differences on what to do with these asylum seekers who don't get asylum. Have you got any elaboration, or do you know anything about it?
MR. McCURRY: I don't. I can check into that. I was not aware of that myself.
Q Would you, please?
MR. McCURRY: Yes.
Q How about the meeting this afternoon that the Secretary is having with this Chinese official. Do you know anything about that?
MR. McCURRY: Yes. I do have something on that. I went back after the question yesterday to get clear on the delegations that are here from China. There are two of them. One is here for a meeting of the U.S.-China Joint Commission on Science and Technology, and then the second delegation is the Joint Commission on Commerce and Trade.
The Joint Commission on Science and Technology they call the JCM for reasons that you would find surprising. But they call it the JCM. They met April 12 for a one-day session to review bilateral science and technology cooperation and discuss opportunities for expanded cooperation in the areas of health, the environment, energy and advanced materials -- for electronic materials, the automotive industry and highway infrastructure.
The head of that delegation is Dr. Song Jian, who is a senior ranking member of the Chinese Government. He's a State Councillor and Minister in Charge of the State Science and Technology Commission. He has been conducting most of the meetings on behalf of the Chinese delegation with the leader of the U.S. delegation who's the President's science adviser, Dr. Jack Gibbons.
But Dr. Song is meeting today with Secretary Christopher and one purpose of that meeting is for the Secretary to reaffirm our human rights concerns at the meeting. We have been doing that in virtually, I think, all of the high-level meetings that have been occurring with leaders from the People's Republic of China this week.
Q Can you give us a readout on that meeting after it takes place?
MR. McCURRY: I can.
Q What are the other purposes? You said one purpose is to --
MR. McCURRY: The Secretary will express that message and then review some of the issues that have been under discussion in these meetings along the lines of the agenda that I outlined.
Q Have you gotten any readout yet from Gallucci's talks in Beijing?
MR. McCURRY: I have not. At least I haven't seen one myself. The information I got from the Bureau said that -- it just says that he has been consulting with Chinese officials. They don't have a readout here yet either.
Q And have you --
MR. McCURRY: He's in Beijing now. He plans to travel to Seoul and consult further with South Korean officials there, and then he'll join the -- linkup, as I said earlier, with Secretary Perry.
Q Have there been any indications or any information from China in the last, say, couple of weeks that you could sort of write down as additional progress toward the conditions on MFN?
MR. McCURRY: There have been some discussions and some matters related to that, but at this point I'm not any longer going to sort of characterize where we are on progress, because I think, as the Secretary said, he's moving now into an evaluation period in which he, himself, will make a recommendation to the President on that.
It just doesn't serve any purpose for me to speculate how the Secretary is going to make that evaluation. But there have been some matters related to human rights and to some of the issues covered in the Executive Order.
Q And in his talks today, does he intend to just specifically raise the issue of the dissidents who have recently been detained or otherwise rounded up?
MR. McCURRY: He will. I mean, I think as you know, Xu Wenli was released, I believe, yesterday in China. He probably should not have ever been detained in the first place, but he was released, and they will perhaps discuss that. But certainly we will be stressing among our concerns about human rights the need to detain any of those who have been detained in connection with Secretary Christopher's visit, in connection with Prime Minister Balladur's visit, or all those who are being detained merely for expressing their universally recognized freedom to express themselves and to engage in free speech.
Q Mike, practically speaking, when does the Secretary stop collecting information and assessing? When does he start recommending? I mean, there's got to be a --
MR. McCURRY: You know what the timing is.
Q No, but he needs some period of time to analyze and make a recommendation.
MR. McCURRY: The evaluation has already started, but, obviously, the Chinese might conceivably take steps that might be related to the Executive Order, and that would be factored in as it happens. The decision is due under the Executive Order by June 3, as you know.
Q Without getting into the decision on MFN, a prominent Chinese dissident here in the United States has come out in support of a partial MFN sectoral approach. Without getting into your decision, a few weeks ago you said that wasn't really seriously being looked at. Has anything changed on that?
MR. McCURRY: I don't think I ever said that. I said that it was being looked at. It was just not clear how you would do it, and they're looking at it.
Q You are looking at it?
MR. McCURRY: I don't have any --
Q Is it clearer?
MR. McCURRY: Is it clearer? I have seen some analysis of how you would do it, yes.
Q Did you ever comment on Secretary Baker's OpEd piece the other day in which basically he --
MR. McCURRY: No. It kind of sounded nostalgic, like here's the decision the Secretary of State is going to have to make. So maybe he was exercising a little nostalgia. He probably misses the State Department. I can easily understand why.
Q Thank you.
MR. McCURRY: You're welcome.
(The briefing concluded at 2:00 p.m.)
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