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

APRIL 22, 1994

                    U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
                      DAILY PRESS BRIEFING

                         I N D E X

                    Friday, April 22, 1994

                                     Briefer:  Michael McCurry

   Briefing Schedule for Week of March 23-27 .......   1
   Secretary Christopher's Itinerary--
     Trip to London, Middle East ...................   1

   Secretary's Visit to Region                         
     Incentive for Completion of Gaza-Jericho Accords   2
     Discussions with Leaders in Region ............   2
     U.S. Policy toward Iraq .......................   2

   NATO Ultimatum ..................................   
     End to Attacks Against Gorazde ................   3
     Deadline for Bosnian-Serb Forces to Pull Back .   3-5,7
     Entry of UN Forces/Humanitarian Relief, etc. ..    3,8-9,13-14
      Airstrike Authorization .......................   3,5,7-12,16
     Offensive Military Action by Bosnia-Hercegovina    14-16
   Initiatives Relating to Targeting and Safe Areas.    5-7,10
   Consultations with Russia .......................   6-7
   UN Communication with Bosnian-Serb Authorities ..   5,10-11,15
   Situation Report from Gorzde ....................   11-12
   Under Secretary Tarnoff call to PM Silajdzic ....    14
   Security of UNPROFOR Troops .....................   14
   U.S. Ground Troop Option Ruled Out...............   26

   Lake/Talbott/Aristide Meeting--U.S. Policy Review    
     Enforcement of Embargo ........................    17-22
     Human Rights Monitors/Humanitarian Aid Efforts.    17,21-22
     UN Military and Police Mission ................   17      Status 
of Military Authorities ................    17-18
     Dialogue with Dominican Republic ..............    17,22
   Status of Ships Interdicted by Coast Guard--4/21.   18-19,22-23
   Briefing of U.S. Congressmen ....................    22

   IAEA Inspections                                     
     Continuity of Safeguards at Seven Sites........    23
     Unloading and Storage of Spent Fuel ...........    24-25
     Suspected Nuclear Waste Sites .................    24

     Selection of Foreign Minister Hata--PM Candidate   25-26


DPC #65


MR. McCURRY: Good afternoon everybody. Two quick announcements. First, as you know, Secretary Christopher will be leaving Sunday night. And while he's gone, Christine Shelly, our Deputy Spokesman, will be conducting the briefings next week.

We've done some checking around. When the Secretary is on travel, we think we can reduce the Daily Briefing schedule here subject to the flow of news. Obviously, if there's breaking news, we'll have to be careful. But her plan would be brief Monday, Wednesday, and Friday next week. Obviously, we'll adjust that as necessary.

Second, with the Secretary leaving on Sunday, I haven't been able to tell you much about the itinerary. I'll tell you as much as I can at this point.

He will depart Sunday night, go to London. He'll meet with Prime Minister Major, Foreign Secretary Hurd, and then he will meet with King Hussein, as we've indicated earlier, while he's in London.

His plan, on Tuesday, is to proceed to the Middle East. The first stop in the Middle East will be in Riyadh where we'll be covering a wide range of topics with King Fahd, including Iraq and security in the Gulf, the peace process, and bilateral commercial relations.

After that, we'll go to Cairo for meetings with President Mubarak and the Egyptian leadership, probably Wednesday. At that point, the schedule gets somewhat murky, so you're going to bear with us.

As you know, the leaders in the region themselves are moving around. There have been a number of meetings underway, as you're aware of. So we're going to have an interesting week, I'm sure.

As to the trip itself, my intent is, as soon as we wrap up here on the record on your questions, to have an official who can help you out a little bit on Background. So we'll go straight into that at the conclusion of this briefing.

But I'd like to say a couple of things about the trip and what the Secretary anticipates coming out of this trip. First, we're going to encourage the parties to come to closure on implementation of the Gaza-Jericho accords. They are, as you know, making considerable progress as they have reported publicly in the implementation discussions.

We believe the Secretary's presence in the region can help be a spur and incentive for them to really complete the work on the document necessary to fully implement the declaration.

Second: We will do what we can, while we're in the region, to lay a stronger substantive basis for progress in all the tracks so that when the negotiations resume here in Washington following the Secretary's trip, they'll be in a position to advance the dialogue even further. I think the Secretary is convinced that touching base at a senior political level with leaders in the region will help really, again, invigorate the process underway here in Washington.

And then, third, I think the Secretary feels that it is very important to demonstrate the United States' staying course on our policy with respect to Iraq; that both our humanitarian efforts in northern Iraq and our effort to contain Saddam Husayn's aggression need to be underscored and need to be made clear. I think a lot of his discussions, while in the region, will focus on that aspect of our policy.

With that, I think, I will let just a little brief intro to the trip. And, as I say, there will be a lot of questions, I know, for someone who can help you out later on on just sort of the context that we are now in on the trip.


Q I'll wait for (inaudible) put it in context.

MR. McCURRY: The context? Okay. Onto other questions you might have.

Q You want to talk about deadlines in Bosnia?

MR. McCURRY: I can tell you, I know some of you were hoping to see Manfred Woerner from Brussels give a description of the decision that has now been taken by the North Atlantic Council. I'd like to say a couple of things about that. Because, as you know, the decision that was taken at NATO just a short while ago is the result of an initiative put forth by President Clinton. I believe the President himself will be addressing this matter very shortly.

But it is manifestly clear that the civilians of Gorazde have been subjected to murderous attacks day after day by the Bosnian Serbs. Those attacks have no military justification whatsoever. The Serbs have repeatedly broken their own promises to end the assault on Gorazde; and the situation, in the view of the North Atlantic Council, and certainly the view of the United States, is an emergency which needs to be addressed immediately.

Therefore, we organized an initiative that we put before the North Atlantic Council today after very close consultations both within and outside of NATO. The North Atlantic Council has now responded to this crisis by declaring that the situation in Goradze is consistent with the description of safe areas contained in the August 2-9 communique, to say precisely that Goradze is clearly in a situation in which it is being strangled. That leads NATO to issue the following ultimatum.

They insist first that Bosnian Serb attacks against Gorazde immediately cease. That's not just shelling but all attacks against Gorazde.

Two, that Bosnian Serb forces pull back three kilometers from the center of the city by midnight tomorrow night, Greenwich Mean Time.

And, third, that United Nations forces, humanitarian relief convoys and medical assistance teams be allowed to enter Gorazde unimpeded, and that medical evacuations be permitted.

In the event that those conditions are not satisfied, then the North Atlantic Council has authorized CINCSOUTH to work with UNPROFOR in conducting air strikes that would compel Serb compliance with the ultimatum as stated.

That decision, I think, is now being reviewed by Secretary General Woerner after a long meeting this morning in which Ambassador Robert Hunter put forward, I think, in an extraordinarily short period of time a very successful effort by the United States to see this decision taken by NATO.

There's a pause so they can announce this decision. There was a view in the United States Government that we needed to treat the situation in Gorazde as an emergency, so they proceeded first with these emergency provisions related to Gorazde.

They are now going to resume work on a larger set of initiatives that relate to all the safe areas that would establish exclusion zones around them, 20-kilometer exclusion zones, first with Goraze and then with the understanding that in the case of the other four safe areas, the exclusion zones would not be established at this time. But, if there is any firing of heavy weapons against those safe areas, or if NATO and U.N. military commanders judge that a threat is imminent to those areas, then they could be immediately designated individually or collectively as military exclusion zones.

So in other words, they established the exclusion zone for Gorazde now. They say in the case of the other four safe areas, that if they see concentrated activity or heavy weaponry within the 20-kilometer distance of each of those safe areas, then they would proceed to immediately activate the airstrike threats with respect to the other four safe areas. That would be Tuzla, Srebrenica, Zepa and Bihac.

Q (Inaudible) exclusion zone?

MR. McCURRY: Twenty kilometers.

Q (Inaudible) three kilometers?

MR. McCURRY: That is related to the emergency ultimatum effective as of midnight tomorrow night. In other words, midnight tomorrow night, Bosnian Serb positions must be withdrawn three kilometers from the center of Gorazde.

Q What was the reason for only three kilometers?

MR. McCURRY: That is a short fuse until midnight tomorrow night provision. It's to get them back. We recognize that over a period of days you have to withdraw to the 20-kilometer distance, but we want them back away from the center of the city immediately.

Q How long do they have to go 20?

MR. McCURRY: That aspect of this decision now NATO is taking up this afternoon. They will be meeting well into the evening. They were making good progress today on the initial decision, and there was a view of the Ambassadors present that they wanted to continue discussing that. They will decide what period of days would be involved in forcing Serb withdrawal the full 20-kilometer distance.

Q Is that A.M. local time, Mike, just to be certain?

MR. McCURRY: Whatever is the -- with daylight savings, I'm not sure. What is it, 7:00 p.m. tomorrow night, Eastern time?

Q Why are you saying eight?

MR. McCURRY: Well, whatever. It is midnight Greenwich Mean Time, whatever that is locally here.


Q Mike, NATO as of right now can stage airstrikes at Serbs around Gorazde.

MR. McCURRY: Say again.

Q So Mike, NATO as of right now can stage airstrikes against Serbs around Gorazde?

MR. McCURRY: As of the point that Secretary General Woerner informs U.N. Secretary General Boutros-Ghali who can then so inform the Government of Serbia-Montenegro. That is an ultimatum that would be delivered and communicated formally to the Serb Government.

Q Do they have the authority to hit --

MR. McCURRY: And to Bosnian Serbs.

Q Do they have the authority to hit an expanded target package, i.e., that they could -- if shelling continues in Gorazde, they could hit associated command posts, ammunition dumps?

MR. McCURRY: They have the target sets and target packages that are viewed in the communique. My understanding is -- and there will be more briefing, I think, in Brussels either by NATO military authorities or by Ambassador Hunter on behalf of the U.S. Representative there -- but they envision the target sets that they talked about in the August 2 and 9 communique.

I don't want to get too deeply into targeting, but there are different categories of targets, and they have a set of targets that extends beyond just the weapon that is indicated firing and in violation of the ultimatum.

Q Can you explain the rationale for not making the other four safe areas under this ultimatum now rather than waiting for the approach of troops -- the potential approach of troops?

MR. McCURRY: I think that they -- you know, you've heard the President say very often and you've heard others say, we are tasking NATO with those things that they can perform. There's a very keen sense on the part of the political leadership of the North Atlantic Alliance to task to NATO military authorities precisely the job that they want them to do and in an orderly way can do. And I think that they're defining the mission very carefully so that the NATO military planners can act accordingly.

They are making it clear -- and there should be no question -- the Serbs should have no doubt that activity around the other four safe areas would result in activation of the provisions that are under consideration now in Brussels.


Q Are you getting any objections from the Russians to handling these other four areas as they're now being discussed?

MR. McCURRY: There have been very extensive consultations with the Government of Russia -- in fact, consultations that a Russian diplomat here in Washington described himself as being very satisfied with yesterday -- that reviewed both the decisions with respect to Gorazde that have already been taken, and then also the package of measures under consideration for the other safe areas.

There has been dialogue about that. I can't speak for the Government of Russia, but I feel that they certainly are well aware of and understand the steps that are being taken by NATO.

Q Could I follow up? At any rate, Russia is not an obstacle at this point to NATO moving forward with these four areas?

MR. McCURRY: NATO is moving forward, as I just said.

Q Just on the other safe areas, once they set this deadline for the exclusion zone, is that a deadline for the Serbs to withdraw all weapons that are in the exclusion zone, or do they have to actually fire a weapon and then have NATO decide that that safe area is being strangled and then the exclusion zone kicks in?

MR. McCURRY: As far as the other safe areas?

Q Yes. I mean, once the exclusion zone is set, I mean, is that just a requirement on the part of NATO that all weapons around a safe area have to be removed or do they actually have to fire the weapon to trigger the strangulation designation?

MR. McCURRY: It would apply to, I believe -- let me get the exact wording. The exact wording, frankly, they are working on that now. They were going to reconvene in Brussels, I think, within about an hour from now. But the exact wording -- the wording that is my understanding will be under consideration is that, if there is any firing of heavy weapons against those safe areas, or if NATO and U.N. military commanders judge that a threat is imminent to those areas -- either collectively if there are multiple safe areas involved, or individually if you're talking about a particular case -- that could be immediately designated as military exclusion zones.

Q Could we go back to the issue of who is calling the shots here and how quickly something could happen? You've set a deadline, so it appears that there won't be airstrikes until the deadline is passed, or is that incorrect?

MR. McCURRY: No. The deadline of midnight tomorrow night refers to the requirement that Bosnian Serb forces pull three kilometers from the center of the city. The ultimatum also specifically says that if Bosnian Serb attacks against the safe area of Gorazde continue -- and that's as of the proper notification of competent authority, by the United Nations -- then they are subject to airstrikes. So that is in effect immediately, for all practical purposes.

Q Boutros-Ghali doesn't need to -- he needs to be informed. He doesn't need to say yes or no. This is becoming automatic.

MR. McCURRY: You go back to the August 2 and 9 strangulation of Sarajevo communique. The provisions established at that point called for very close coordination between CINCSOUTH and UNPROFOR because of our concern and NATO's concern about UNPROFOR's troop presence on the ground. There was widespread agreement that there had to be very close coordination between military commanders in the field because UNPROFOR is, of course, responsible for the people on the ground.

The chain of command operates -- in the case of NATO the chain of command has been delegated to CINCSOUTH by the decision taken today. In the case of the United Nations, I really can't speak for them. It would be up to Secretary General Boutros-Ghali to indicate how they would delegate to the field, whether it would be Akashi or General Rose. But there has, suffice to say, been very close discussions between NATO and UNPROFOR already, and we're not aware of any disagreement that would arise in the event that airstrikes are called for.

Q There would have to be a call for airstrikes from the ground in order to trigger this?

MR. McCURRY: The airstrikes can be initiated either by NATO or by UNPROFOR upon request from the commanders who are on the ground, judging whether or not the terms of the ultimatum have been complied with.

Q Did the Greeks sign off on this? They've been partial to the Serbs.

MR. McCURRY: I haven't seen a decision sheet, but NATO operates, as you know, by consensus, so this is an announced decision by NATO.

Q On the convoys, as you know, some of them have been blocked by staged demonstrations by women and kids. Would that count as a block?

MR. McCURRY: I'm sorry?

Q Would that count as a blocking -- blockade of the U.N. humanitarian convoys?

MR. McCURRY: You're referring to a U.N. convoy that I think was blocked before it approached the center of Gorazde. The terms of this ultimatum refer to the ability of the United Nations to get humanitarian relief convoys and medical assistance teams into Gorazde. So the blocking that's occurred -- that convoy, my understanding, has now turned and gone back to Sarajevo, is the latest information I have.

But the ability of any convoy -- the ability of U.N. personnel to get into Gorazde to carry out relief activities and medical evacuations is what's referred to here.

Q But that would be a violation, though, if women and children are standing in the road. It would be a violation.

MR. McCURRY: That's not the violation, Jack. The question is can any U.N. -- can another convoy get into Gorazde? The point is U.N. personnel that are there to provide relief and medical evacuation have to get into Gorazde. They have to be allowed entry into Gorazde. It's not --

Q But would the project have to be militarily (inaudible) or could it be --

MR. McCURRY: You're asking about things that would happen to convoys that are not -- those are not violations that trigger a response. It's the ability of U.N. personnel to get into Gorazde. If all convoys and all relief activity is being blocked, that's a violation of this ultimatum, yes.


Q Mike, just to clarify. So NATO by itself can call airstrikes.

MR. McCURRY: NATO can initiate airstrikes, yes.

Q Just after a call from the ground. They don't have to go to the U.N. They don't have to --

MR. McCURRY: They can initiate airstrikes based on their judgment of whether or not the terms of the ultimatum have been complied with, but they have to be in close coordination with UNPROFOR; and, indeed, that's exactly the way that we would expect them to proceed, given UNPROFOR's presence on the ground, both in the safe areas and within Gorazde.

Q The difference between this and close air support being that in certain occasions NATO might go to UNPROFOR and say, "We'd like to hit these guys. Is that all right?"

MR. McCURRY: I would describe the chain of command procedures here as being more flexible than those that have existed, and certainly one of the things the United States was very keen on, as the Secretary has indicated, is avoiding some of the questions that arose over the course of the last week and a half.

Q Can other Serb targets now be hit under this, not just Gorazde? If there is firing in Gorazde, can -- under this -- other targets be hit?

MR. McCURRY: The decision taken so far -- and again remember that they are going to continue into session and begin dealing with the larger question of safe areas -- and there are aspects of that that do affect targeting -- but the decision taken now authorizes NATO through CINCSOUTH to conduct airstrikes against Bosnia Serb heavy weapons and other military targets within a 20-kilometer radius of the center of Gorazde.

Q Just Gorazde.

MR. McCURRY: Of just Gorazde at this point. But we do expect -- and based on the decision taken already, we expect further action concerning the other safe areas very shortly.

Q Does formally notifying the government of --

MR. McCURRY: Three kilometers is the distance that Bosnian Serb forces have to withdraw from Gorazde. NATO is authorized to strike heavy weapons and other military targets in a 20-kilometer zone around Gorazde.

Q By midnight (inaudible).

MR. McCURRY: Beginning effective immediately if Bosnian Serb attacks continue on Gorazde.

Q Is formally notifying the Government of Serbia meant in any way as a signal that targets within Serbia could be considered, or is it more the expectation that Milosevic still has some degree of leverage?

MR. McCURRY: It's communicating as best as possible with Bosnian Serb authorities who are responsible for the current offensive. Obviously, every attempt will also be made to communicate to Bosnian Serb authorities, too.

Q Are they still not talking to the United States? Are they refusing to talk to Redman and others there?

MR. McCURRY: Redman is not there.

Q U.N. --

MR. McCURRY: I'm not aware of any contacts that they've had with U.S. personnel, but this would be a communication that would -- since NATO is acting in furtherance of United Nations Security Council resolutions, this would be a communication that would come from the United Nations.


Q Mike, my mind goes back to a briefing given by General Shalikashvili when he returned from Sarajevo with Ambassador Albright, in which he explained why it wasn't practical to conduct airstrikes against Gorazde and why the Sarajevo pattern wasn't applicable in this case.

So what really has changed to prompt you to take this step?

MR. McCURRY: I can't speak for General Shalikashvili, but he did indicate in that briefing, in my recollection, that conditions might change, that might change the assessment of the utility of airstrikes. Clearly, this situation has deteriorated, and there's been a horrible offensive conducted by the Bosnian Serbs.

Q What is your understanding of what is left of Gorazde at this point? Is there house-to-house fighting downtown, which would indicate that there is almost nothing left to save at this point?

MR. McCURRY: Jack, there are a lot of people alive there, among other things. I think I saw somewhere an estimate that maybe 60 percent of the physical infrastructure had been damaged. I would want to double-check that, but I believe I've seen that somewhere.

Let me just tell you a little bit about our situation in a report from Gorazde as we understand it. These are reports from the U.N. military observers there on the scene.

They report that tank artillery and antiaircraft artillery continue to drop as of this morning on the city of Gorazde. U.N. sources reported that there had been 30 impacts since 5:30 a.m., Gorazde-time this morning. The building where the U.N. military observers are staying was hit. Several rounds also dropped near the headquarters of UNHCR.

According to the United Nations, the Gorazde Hospital has been targeted for direct attack and is now unusable. The patients are all packed into the ground floor and basement. Local news reports indicated that 97 were killed and 263 wounded in the fighting yesterday. That was the worst single day of fighting since the fighting began in Gorazde.

There also have been repeated reports of infantry assaults continuing on the left bank of the Drina.

I think that is all an indication, among other things, of the urgency with which NATO acted today and the reason why, in addressing the situation, we're concerned obviously about all the safe areas. But it's also the reason why, on an emergency basis, they established special provisions related to Gorazde.


Q Mike, is NATO limited to aircraft-based attacks under this initiative?

MR. McCURRY: I'm sorry, say again?

Q Is NATO limited to dropping bombs from aircraft for this initiative?

Q In other words, could ground forces go in --

Q No, not ground forces, but other -- ground forces or other --

MR. McCURRY: These are air strikes. This is an air strike authorization.

Q From aircraft?


Q Allow me to interpret, my friend.

Q Ballistic missiles.

MR. McCURRY: They were talking about air strikes. I think you've heard briefings several times from the military folks about the type of aircraft they have deployed in the region. They're carrying out their enforcement of everything they've done with close air support missions and others in connection with the presence they already have there.

Q They haven't ruled out cruise missiles. If they want to use a cruise missile, they can use --

MR. McCURRY: If you'll allow me. This press corps and this briefer are not the ones that are best equipped to handle questions like that.

Q Mike, just to clarify somewhat. Talking about, again, the women who block the roads, and you said something about, "as long as someone gets in there." But if these women block the roads and two other medical people get in there, that's okay as far as we're concerned?

MR. McCURRY: You're trying to focus, because you've seen the pictures of the women who were out there stopping this convoy. That is not going to trigger an air strike. It is the ability of the United Nations to get in and do the necessary humanitarian and relief activity.

Q (Inaudible) necessary humanitarian and relief activity?

MR. McCURRY: Right. But they are not -- there are other convoy routes; there are other relief activities that might be undertaken. UNPROFOR has the ability, if there's compliance with the terms of this ultimatum, to move people in. The point is, they can't be prevented from entering Gorazde to conduct the activity that is specified here.

Q What's the status of --

MR. McCURRY: I'm not trying to split a hair here. If you have all of the convoy activity being halted, then that is a violation of the terms of this ultimatum.

Q They very effectively use civilian populations to stand in roads and block things for days, weeks, and months.

MR. McCURRY: That's correct, Jack, and that's why this specific point is addressed in this ultimatum.

Q But you're also saying you won't call an air strike on them, necessarily, because of that.

MR. McCURRY: There are targets within a 20-kilometer zone, and there are military targets -- heavy weapons and other military targets within the 20-kilometer zone.

A group of women and children blocking a convoy is not a military target.

Q So while they block, you would hit military targets in the zone, hypothetically?

MR. McCURRY: That's a hypothetical question. I indicated what the hypothetical answer would be.

Q You're saying you wouldn't strike women and children?

MR. McCURRY: Of course not.

Q Mike, what's the --

MR. McCURRY: Let me add one other thing that I think is important to note, in terms of this, too, because there is a provision here directed against the Bosnian Government as well.

In taking this decision, the North Atlantic Council also calls upon the Government of Bosnia-Herzegovina not to undertake offensive military action from within the safe area of Gorazde. In other words, not to take the advantage of the period, in which the ultimatum is in effect and hopefully enforced, to launch any offensive of its own.

I'd like to pass on one thing. At the request of Secretary Christopher, who is over at the White House for the meeting that's underway now, Under Secretary Peter Tarnoff has just within the last hour called Prime Minister Silajdzic to brief him on the decision that's been taken by NATO. Prime Minister Silajdzic, on behalf of himself and President Izetbegovic, has expressed thanks to the United States for launching this initiative. He did indicate that the Bosnian Government would make sure that Bosnian Government forces exercised restraint.

Q Mike, were there any U.N. personnel still under control of Bosnian Serb forces? And have any of our allies indicated that they will alter the deployment of their troops in UNPROFOR?

MR. McCURRY: I'm sorry, the first part of that question again?

Q Were there any U.N. personnel under control of Serb forces anymore? Have they released all of the potential hostages? And have any of our NATO allies indicated that they might change their deployment or the way they operate within UNPROFOR to protect themselves against that happening again?

MR. McCURRY: The initiative launched by the United States was taken with a great deal of concern about UNPROFOR troops on the ground. I think there are discussions underway about enhancing the security of UNPROFOR within Bosnia. The latest update I have on the status of those being detained is not clear.

Those who are really being physically restrained and held had been released but I think there are others who are either being harassed or being prevented from conducting their activities. I'd have to check further on exactly the status of other U.N. personnel in Bosnia.

Q (Inaudible) protective, their ability to protect themselves if there are no volunteers coming forth to provide more troops? That has been a hangup, has it not?

MR. McCURRY: I don't want to get into what UNPROFOR will do to enhance the security of UNPROFOR units, but there are steps they can take on the ground, clearly.

Q Mike, do you have any idea how long it might take for the U.N. to find somebody that can inform of this decision to the Bosnian Serbs?

MR. McCURRY: I assume that it's already been done. That would be handled by -- the United Nations is doing that. I think CNN does a pretty good job of delivering ultimatums.

Q Are you saying CNN is an official now?

MR. McCURRY: No, no. That's why I said, there has to be an official notification. I doubt very much that the Bosnian Serbs are unaware of the decision that's been taken by NATO.

Q Would the Bosnian Government likewise be called upon, if the other four safe areas were designated exclusion zones, likewise to restrain itself? Is that a --

MR. McCURRY: I think as a general proposition, yes. This is not, as we say repeatedly, a moment in which there is anymore to be gained on the battlefield. It's a time for both parties to go to the negotiating table to reach an agreement that will end this war.

Indeed, part of the U.S. initiative, as you know, in addition to the air strikes and in addition to the tighter sanctions on Serbia, is a determined, united diplomatic effort on behalf of the European Union, the Government of Russia, the United States, and the United Nations to bring about a political settlement that can end this war.

There will certainly be much to say about that in the days ahead. Right now, we are concentrating on our diplomacy, on the work that's gone in to getting this very quick and necessary decision by NATO.

Q Is the United States understanding of this communique that the air strikes will be the pin prick strikes of two weeks ago, or as Secretary Perry said --

MR. McCURRY: I think Secretary Christopher addressed himself to that last night in an interview. He said that we are not talking about pin pricks -- we're not talking about demonstration, use of force, as an ultimatum that requires a careful response and a significant response. There would be a high price to pay on the part of the Bosnian Serbs if they do not comply with this ultimatum.

Q And NATO has signed off on that approach?

MR. McCURRY: The decision of NATO is very clear. Part of their deliberations will continue on other questions involving both targeting and safe areas.

Q How does this not constitute getting involved in the war and taking sides? I'm just trying to sort out the neutrality role here.

MR. McCURRY: That's very specifically why I, just a moment ago, called attention to the provision here that says -- also a very firm declaration on the part of the North Atlantic Council that the Bosnian Government should not take advantage of the steps ordered by NATO today for the purpose of relieving horrendous and unconscionable aggression against the citizens of Gorazde.

Q Can we move to Haiti?

MR. McCURRY: Ready to move on? Okay. Fire away.

Q Anything to the reports about broader sanctions?

MR. McCURRY: Let me walk through a little bit. I think there's been some reporting -- some that you're aware of, just to bring you up to date.

National Security Advisor Tony Lake and Deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbott met with President Aristide yesterday afternoon to inform him of the status of the policy review I've been telling you about related to Haiti and to reaffirm the commitment of the United States to do what we can to restore democracy and President Aristide to Haiti.

The meeting was described as a positive one. The details and timing of some of the things we presented, I can't provide you a lot of information about. But I would say, in broad outline, some of the things that the Deputy Secretary and the National Security Advisor discussed with President Aristide include the following:

First, a commitment to push for a new United Nations resolution, tightening the embargo. That's something I can't tell you much about now, but it will be under discussion in New York perhaps as early as next week. I'm sorry, it's been under discussion, or some of the preliminary ways has been under discussion. It would be, perhaps, under consideration for action as early as next week;

Increased multilateral efforts to enforce the embargo, including closer cooperation with the Dominican Republic;

They'll also attempt to increase the number of international civilian human rights monitors in Haiti;

They're going to augment humanitarian aid efforts in Haiti. There's already an extensive relief program -- feeding centers and efforts to help people in Haiti. They're going to see what they can do to augment that;

They will also look at the question that arose as part of the Governor's Island process of whether or not a multilateral United Nations military and police mission could be dispatched to Haiti, when conditions are appropriate, to help in the transformation of the military and the police.

There are also a number of things connected to all the same issues that arose out of Governor's Island; the status of General Cedras who we would hope would be in retirement soon; the status of other military authorities in Haiti. Those are all part of the discussions that have been underway.

But I would say that we've given the deteriorating situation in Haiti. We see a need to move somewhat beyond the package that was outlined in Governor's Island.

Q What happens to the -- what brought up this police situation again? We backed away in a very public way. What is there about the situation now that makes you think that --

MR. McCURRY: There's nothing about the situation now. I said very clearly, when conditions are appropriate. They certainly are not appropriate at the moment.

Q Is Francois also under discussion? You said military leaders. Is he possibly also someone who also has to step down?

MR. McCURRY: He is.

Q In terms of the sanctions, what sort of things are being discussed?

MR. McCURRY: We've talked from time to time about the kinds of steps they would take related to air flights, related to expanding some of the OAS-ordered sanction provisions to make them broader through United Nations enforcement. Those are still very much the types of things that are under consideration. I want to see how that develops in discussions that they have further next week.

Q Mike, what is the status of the ship that was intercepted yesterday? I understand it's been brought to Miami. And, if so, does that signal any change in the forcible repatriation --

MR. McCURRY: Absolutely no change at all, John. The Coast Guard interdicted two vessels yesterday. They interdicted a 65-foot coastal freighter that had 411 migrants on board off the coast of Florida.

The ship was severely overcrowded. Many of the migrants were in poor physical condition. The vessel itself didn't have the proper safety equipment to protect the lives of those on board. All the migrants in that case were believed to Haitian.

The Coast Guard will be transporting the migrants to shore, if they haven't already. They will be provided medical screening there and other processing by agents of the Immigration and Naturalization Service.

These were extraordinary circumstances that led them to do this. Among other things, the vessel was drifting close to the territory of the United States; about 4.3 miles offshore from the mainland. While the Coast Guard was attending to the safety and welfare of people on board -- providing water and other necessary amenities -- they received reports that members of the crew might have abused some of the passengers, and bringing them here to the United States is a way that they could look into those reports and find out more about them. They could also look into the possibility of prosecuting those for alien smuggling.

At the same time that this ship was interdicted, the Coast cutter Forward interdicted a vessel with 15 migrants in the Winward Passage. That happened last night. Those will be directly returned to Haiti consistent with our policy of direct return.

I'll make it clear again for the umpteenth time: there will be no change in the policy of direct return because that's the policy that saves the lives of those who would get on these unseaworthy vessels; and at great personal danger to themselves, attempt to make a trip that many of these vessels cannot make.

Our belief is that we've got to return the people that are interdicted on the high seas, as a message to those who would consider leaving, that it's not safe to make this passage in the circumstances that often criminal figures suggest to those who are attempting to leave Haiti. There is a proper way, in a process that we've established through centers that exist within Haiti to apply for status of refugee to come to the United States.

Q I know you can't give specific details on the increased sanctions. But it sounded from your general description that you're not aiming for a full commercial ban? You're going to fiddle around with air flights and other stuff.

MR. McCURRY: Tim, I don't want to suggest how extensive this package of sanctions will be at this point. I haven't had a chance to go in and look and see exactly what they have under discussion. Certainly, they're going to have to develop that at the United Nations anyhow. But with other things going on this morning, I just haven't had a chance to catch up with what type of sanctions --

Q You're not necessarily aiming for something less than --

MR. McCURRY: I'm not necessarily ruling out any type of approach on sanctions. It's something that we'll have to discuss with others at the United Nations.


Q When you say "they're discussing," are you saying that these are all the items that the U.S. review has produced and they're now taking them to the U.N.?

MR. McCURRY: That's correct. Our review has produced certain ideas. We'll begin by discussing these with the Four Friends -- Canada, France, and Venezuela -- who we work with cooperatively on and with whom we've already had discussions concerning sanctions. We will also broaden the dialogue to include other members of the OAS. We're interested in making this a multinational effort to seek the return of President Aristide and democracy to Haiti.

Q You used the phrase, "this is the way to save lives." How do you respond to the charges made by President Aristide yesterday that many of the people being returned are in grave risk of their lives; indeed, that some have been murdered, and he used some very graphic language -- words like holocaust, bodies being eaten by pigs everyday, things like that. What is the response of the U.S. Government to that?

MR. McCURRY: Our response is -- leaving aside the intemperate rhetoric -- we are focused on trying to make sure that those who are returned have access to our facilities for proper application for refugee status. We are working with human rights organizations to follow up on those cases.

We have not been aware of widespread instance of anything like that suggested by President Aristide. As we've indicated, the effectiveness of these processing centers in Haiti to take a look at those who have well-founded fears of persecution is something that we will certainly examine. Anything that needs to be done to improve the effectiveness of that process, or steps that will be taken, of course, that's something that INS would look at. But it's certainly something that our embassy will be looking at as well.


Q Some of the congressional critics feel that the President, if he really wanted to show moral leadership for Haiti, in addition to waiting to see what the U.N. might say about our ideas, could take an Executive Order and make a much stronger U.S. sanctions on Haiti. If the President now recognizes that the policy has not worked out, why not take some unilateral action instead of waiting for the international body to all come on board?

MR. McCURRY: We have taken in the past some unilateral action with respect to sanctions, but it is clear we are talking about a sanctions regime here, and it's very clear in our experience with sanctions which are not always -- not a completely reliable instrument of diplomacy in any event, because it just can't be -- that's the nature of sanctions -- but they are certainly much more effective if they can be made multilateral or multinational. And I think that's why we want to work in that direction.

Q It appears the Administration's relationship with Aristide has deteriorated somewhat. How is that going to affect a resolution of this problem?

MR. McCURRY: It doesn't affect the goals and the central thrust of the policy of the United States Government. We seek his return as the duly elected President to Haiti, and we seek a democratic Haiti. The positive meeting that was held yesterday with President Aristide was in furtherance of those objectives.

Q Mike, is the idea for additional human rights monitors intended to help the U.S. and the U.N. keep track of the fate of some of these people who are repatriated? And the other thing is, I assume, do they have to be invited in or welcomed in by the junta?

MR. McCURRY: Provisions have to be made for their orderly work in Haiti, and that is going to require attention to what situation they will face when they were there. But the answer to your first question, yes, that is exactly the way you can monitor the types of abuses that have been reported, and that we've expressed great concern about, and that we've condemned in no uncertain terms.

Q Korea?

Q How about one more question on --

MR. McCURRY: One more on Haiti.

Q You mentioned increasing the border protection with the Dominican Republic. Are you thinking about some kind of a multilateral force to keep the sieve from increasing any more?

MR. McCURRY: I am not sure how they're pursuing that. I know they've had some dialogue with the Government of the Dominican Republic about steps they could take to more effectively patrol that border to try to reduce the instances of people running gasoline across the border, smuggling across the border. I can check a little further into that, but they've involved ways that you could beef up the enforcement of that. And then also the offshore activity, ways in which you could look at boats that might be running the blockade in that fashion.

Q Half a dozen Democratic congressmen, members of the President's own party, were arrested outside the White House, protesting the Haiti policy. Is there concern here about erosion of congressional support from his own party?

MR. McCURRY: We had the opportunity -- some of them were released after their stay in whatever facility they were taken to, and we've had an opportunity to contact some of them and brief them in more detail about the administration's policy. And I'll leave it up to them to comment on their view of the administration's direction, as we've outlined to them prior to their arrest.

Q Mike, sanctions are a very slow-moving kind of weaponry. They haven't succeeded in Iraq in four years nearly, and in Serbia. Although they do inflict economic damage, it's very, very slow to get the political aims that are encompassed in them, and in the meantime ordinary people suffer a great deal.

Are you also going to be stepping up humanitarian aid to help the poor people of Haiti, and how fast -- is there any kind of assessment of how fast these might work?

MR. McCURRY: Several things, Alan. Yes, we already have a considerable humanitarian effort in Haiti. I think almost a million people a day are fed through a variety of activities sponsored by non-governmental organizations and others, so we are attempting to address the humanitarian situation there.

Sanctions do take time to work, but remember there have been through both the OAS and the measures that have been authorized so far -- the hemispheric sanctions -- there have been considerable sanctions in place already that have been taking a very real toll and we believe bringing pressure to bear on Haitian military authorities who are responsible for these conditions.

They are the ones that we are attempting to pressure with these sanctions and tightening these sanctions further we do think will be a way to pressure them further to make good on the commitments they have made to the world community to allow the restoration of democracy.

Q Do you have anything on the nature of the abuse on board the Miami ship?

MR. McCURRY: No. They are looking into the reports. The Coast Guard will be looking into those reports, or I assume proper law enforcement officials, once they port in Florida, will look at that.

Q But was it like physical or they took their money or what kind of things?

MR. McCURRY: All I had is this statement that I indicated earlier. I don't have a report on what type of abuse they were describing.


Q There have been some reports from Seoul that the North Koreans have either sent or faxed a letter to Mr. Gallucci or his office earlier this week, and there are also reports that the North Koreans have proposed an unofficial meeting to prepare for the third round of talks with the United States. Do you have any comment on either one?

MR. McCURRY: I'd say a couple of things. The other news, too, that you didn't mention is the report that North Korea has indicated that they might be willing in connection with refueling their reactor, when they have to do that at some point in the coming weeks -- willing to do that under the auspices or with the inspection by the IAEA.

I'd say on all those things, that there are some steps that could be taken that would move the United States into a position in which we could conduct a third round. Those center on the successful completion of the IAEA inspections of the seven stated facilities in North Korea and also a resumption of the North-South dialogue.

But let me walk through, I think, some of the issues that are regarding the IAEA inspections, because they're all the focus of any type of prospective discussion would have to center on some of the things that the IAEA has been looking at.

First, they need to be able to maintain the continuity of safeguards at the seven declared sites that they attempted to examine and in most cases successfully examined pursuant to their agreement February 15.

We have been working for some time for full completion of all the inspection activities of those facilities, and we said we can only move to a third round of high-level talks with North Korea after that agreement is implemented.

There's a second issue that arises with respect to the IAEA, and that's the one that has come up in the news in the last couple of days. That's involving the spent fuel that is to be unloaded from the 25 megawatt reactor. IAEA inspectors must be present to monitor the unloading and storage of this spent fuel. We've made it clear from the very beginning that if the IAEA is not allowed to do this, we would have no choice but to end our dialogue with North Korea and return the issue to the Security Council.

We understand -- you might want to check with the IAEA - - we understand that they have had some discussions with North Korea on this. I think you've seen some remarks Secretary Perry made, I guess on his last day of his most current trip, but that certainly would be welcome if arrangements could be made regarding the unloading of fuel that would allow for the IAEA to be satisfied with the process used to unload the fuel.

The third issue is the one that we've talked about from time to time. That's the two suspected nuclear waste sites and all other North Korea nuclear facilities. Those are the issues that we would like to see addressed and resolved in the context of a broad and thorough resolution of the nuclear issue, and that's why we would like to proceed to the third round to have that discussion.

Q Have you looked into a possible unofficial meeting?

MR. McCURRY: I'm not going to speculate on unofficial meetings or exchange of letters or anything of that nature. I think we're trying to spell out very clearly the type of dialogue and the type of resolution of certain issues that would allow us to proceed to the third round, which is the real question.


Q I have a procedural question. When you finish, are you going immediately into the background briefing and, if so, could we have a quick -- could we have a filing break before then?

MR. McCURRY: There will be a very brief pause, and we can then bring our special guest on. But it would be brief, and there would be a filing break. We will declare an end to this briefing and then move into a backgrounder.

Q Mike, a point to the IAEA being -- has to be there when they exchange the rods. What about tracking the spent rods? Isn't that really the issue here, not the actual changing --

MR. McCURRY: That's right. It's not only the unloading, it's not only observing or inspecting the unloading but also storage. And those are questions that exhaust my technical expertise on how they do that and what type of seals and things like that are not properly my questions in any event. Those should be directed to the IAEA.

Q (Inaudible)

MR. McCURRY: Japan.

Q Real quickly. The coalition party has selected Mr. Hata as their prime minister candidate. He's familiar here at the State Department. Do you have a comment?

MR. McCURRY: He's indeed well known to Secretary Christopher and many officials of the United States Government who have had very cordial meetings with him. He's a very graceful and skilled diplomat, among other things, and he's certainly a key figure in the Hosokawa Government. He played an important part in its many achievements, passage of political reform legislation, concluding the Uruguay Round, opening Japan's rice market, helping improve our access -- that is, United States access -- to Japan's construction and cellular phone markets.

In his most recent meeting with Secretary Christopher, he said it is the responsibility of Foreign Ministers and Secretaries of State to manage the large range of issues that exist between great countries like Japan and the United States. So he's clearly someone who takes responsibility for all aspects of U.S.-Japanese relations, both the economic and trade issues that have been in dispute and that need to change, but also the very positive work that we've done together on global issues and some of the political issues that we've advanced together on the world scene, and then also those issues like the security issue we were just talking about -- Korea -- in which we work very cooperatively.

We anticipate that Foreign Minister Hata and his new government will continue our strong and cooperative working relationship on a number of these shared priorities, and that we will look forward, among other things, to continued and, we hope, successful discussions related to the economic issues in which we've had a dialogue in the context of the framework.

Q Does the Clinton Administration see him as a proponent of open markets and fair trade?

MR. McCURRY: His posture, the policies of his government, is something that they've been addressing in the context of picking a successor to Prime Minister Hosokawa, and it will be up to them, of course, now to indicate what type of policies they would wish to follow.

We do hope to continue our efforts on exactly that point, to seek and open markets, a reduction of persistent trade imbalances, and to address those issues that are defined in the context of the framework.

Q Just quickly back to Yugoslavia, does the President's tough new policy in the air suggest that there's going to be any change in the U.S. position about sending troops on the ground, or are you still waiting for (inaudible).

MR. McCURRY: I want to make it very clear that in the context of this policy review, Secretary Christopher, President Clinton and others have made it very clear that there's no change in our view that ground troops from the United States are not -- they are not to play a role in the initiatives that we have taken as part of this. That option is specifically ruled out.

Q Thank you.

MR. McCURRY: Okay, thank you.

(The briefing concluded at 2:04 p.m.) (###)

To the top of this page