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

DEPARTMENT OF STATE DAILY PRESS BRIEFING

DPC #68

THURSDAY, APRIL 28, 1994, 1:10 P.M. (ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED)

MS. SHELLY: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. As you know, today is the second annual "Take Our Daughters to Work Day." You will see throughout the building, I think today, a number of daughters of State Department employees -- and I understand that some of you in our Press Corps and some of those who operate cameras and other equipment -- have brought your daughters, and we welcome them not only to the State Department today but also for those of you who have endured the wait and who are here with us at the briefing today.

"Take Our Daughters to Work Day" is designed to focus attention on young women ages 9 through 15. The State Department is very pleased to join the White House, other government agencies, and thousands of private entities throughout the country in this important endeavor.

Here at the Department, daughters will be offered special tours of the Diplomatic Reception Rooms, the Department Library, which, of course, is the oldest Federal Library, and of course will be joining their parents in respective offices.

In addition, this afternoon, here in the Briefing Room, we will also be giving a brief overview of the function of the Press Office and explaining how important you are to us at the State Department.

So we take a tribute to the day. We welcome you here, and we hope that you have an enjoyable pre-professional experience that might influence your eventual selections as either employees of the Department of State or of the Press Corps.

On a more serious note, a memorial service will be held at the Washington National Cathedral for FSO Barbara Schell on Monday, May 2, at 10:00 a.m. to honor our Foreign Service colleague who died in the tragic downing of the Black Hawk helicopter accident over northern Iraq on April 14. There are some additional details of this in the Press Office about buses and transportation which will be provided for those who might like to attend; and also information on expressions of condolences and to whom they may be directed.

So, again, I refer you to the Press Office for a few more details on this.

I also have a statement I would like to make on Rwanda.

The United States strongly condemns the massacres that have left at least 100,000 civilians dead since the violence began in Rwanda on April 7. We call on the government and the military leaders in Rwanda to do everything in their power to bring an immediate end to these savage acts. The Government must make it clear to all Rwandans that attacks on civilians are unacceptable and will not be tolerated.

At the same time, we strongly urge the government and the Rwandan Patriotic Front -- the RPF -- to agree immediately on a cease-fire in-place and a return to negotiations on implementing the Arusha peace accord. We call on all parties to guarantee the protection of displaced persons and refugees inside Rwanda and to assure safe passage for humanitarian assistance.

The United States supports the efforts of the Organization of African Unity -- the OAU -- as well as those of the Government of Tanzania as facilitator of the Arusha negotiations to end the bloodshed in Rwanda and to restore the peace process. We are working with the OAU and with African governments to bring both sides to the negotiating table. We are in contact with all sides in the conflict and are urging them to end the civilian killings, to re- establish a cease-fire and to also return to the negotiations.

I'll be happy to take your questions on this or any other topics.

Q Did you say that these attacks are unacceptable and won't be tolerated?

MS. SHELLY: We have condemned the kind of massacres which have taken place, and we have, as you know, been active through the United Nations mechanism, in particular, to also pass resolutions; and we are calling upon all of those in the government and military to bring these kind of savage acts to an end.

Q Are you threatening any measures? When you say that those savage acts or those massacres will not be tolerated, what do you mean exactly? Is there a threat there?

MS. SHELLY: We have pronounced our position on this quite clearly. We are certainly intensifying efforts within the international community to assess the situation, to be sure that we know, as best as we can, exactly what the facts are and then to try to determine what are the best ways in which the international community can try to bring their influence to bear on those on the ground who are perpetrating these acts.

Q You seem to be indicating that it is the government, in particular, and the military that you are addressing your concerns to. Is that because they appear to be the overwhelming perpetrators of the savage slaughter of civilians that you describe?

MS. SHELLY: I'm not sure I'm in a position to ascribe a particular set of blame. I think we have pretty solid information that there are savage acts being undertaken by a variety of different parties there.

There's some press reports on these as well which seek to identify particular perpetrators. Clearly, there is violence which is going on among different groups and factions. It's not one simple perpetrator against another.

For all of those who are engaged in these types of acts and retaliations of similar kind, we want to get all of those actions to stop.

Q A British aid agency, OXFAM, today described what is happening there as genocide. Does the State Department have a comment on that or a view as to whether or not what is happening could be genocide?

MS. SHELLY: As I think you know, the use of the term "genocide" has a very precise legal meaning although it's not strictly a legal determination. There are other factors in there as well.

In looking at a situation, to make a determination about that, before we begin to use that term, we have to know as much as possible about the facts of the situation, particularly about the intentions of those who are committing the crimes before we could actually make that determination.

I'm not an expert in this area; but, generally speaking, my understanding is that there are three types of elements that we look at in order to make that kind of a determination. One is to look at the types of actions which are being undertaken -- the kind of brutality killings, things like this.

We also have to look at who is committing the acts and who they are committing them against. Whether these are particular groups -- social groups, ethnic groups, religious groups -- to see exactly what is the type of action being committed and against whom.

There also is the need to examine extremely carefully the intent of the eliminating group. Is it an effort to eliminate groups in whole, in part? And this one is one which we have to undertake a very careful study before we can make a final kind of determination.

Certainly, in those elements there are actions which have occurred which would fit the first types of those categories. It appears that much of this is directed toward particular ethnic groups. Certainly, the types of actions being committed and the extent of the killings also would suggest that this type of activity is taking place.

The intentions -- the precise intentions -- and whether or not these are just directed episodically or with the intention of actually eliminating groups in whole or in part, this is a more complicated issue to address, and we're certainly looking into this extremely carefully right now. But I'm not able to look at all of those criteria at this moment and say, "yes/no." It's something that requires very careful study before we can make a final determination.

Q Does determining that genocide has or has not happened, does that also require the U.S. Government to do certain things, like to try to stop it? Is that also -- in the case of Bosnia, there was great reluctance on the part of our government to find a determination of genocide because it connoted the U.S. would have to take certain sets of actions.

Do you know what it would require the U.S. Government to do?

MS. SHELLY: Again, my understanding of the issue is whereas there is not an absolute requirement if a determination on genocide is made to intervene directly in the particular crisis under international law -- and particularly under the 1948 Genocide Convention -- there are several ways which are outlined -- several avenues which are outlined -- in that for proceeding under international law to investigate and ultimately take actions related to the crime of genocide.

The first one is using the means available for criminal prosecution in the area, or in the country or countries in which those actions are taking place.

The second area is recourse to international criminal court. That would be the creation -- where persons accused would be tried through an international penal tribunal that would have jurisdiction with respect to the contracting parties which would have accepted the jurisdiction.

The third area is referral to the United Nations, and specifically calling upon all competent organs of the United Nations to take actions under the U.N. Charter; and, finally, to refer disputes to the International Court of Justice for proceedings.

Q Christine, you said that you're in touch with all sides. Can you tell us, who specifically is in touch with whom and where?

MS. SHELLY: I can't get into the whom and where and exactly when. We are in contact with people here from the Washington end. As you know, we have pulled our embassy out so we don't have official American personnel who are still there. But we have been able to maintain contacts with all of the parties, and we have also had contacts with others who had been -- such as the U.N. presence which is still left there which are also in contact with the parties.

So our own contacts as well as our contacts with the United Nations, we have been able to maintain exchanges and to record our views with them very strongly.

Q But the U.N. has the primary function in trying to negotiate a cease-fire; is that not correct? You're not trying to suggest that the United States is getting in there as a mediator of some kind, are you? My understanding is the U.N. is doing most of the leg work and the U.S. is adding its voice and supporting and taking a supporting role.

MS. SHELLY: The United States, as a nation individually, has pronounced itself quite clearly on the conflict and the crisis. Certainly, the United Nations has the lead, and we are working very intensively through the U.N. Security Council mechanism to try and see what other measures the international community might be able to take.

Since the plane crash on the 7th of April, the Security Council has had nearly daily contacts of one kind or another on the Rwandan issue, and they issued a statement, as you know, on the 22nd of April. I also understand that they're meeting again this afternoon to review the latest developments.

Certainly, we are investigating things that we might be able to do nationally to try to get the situation there quieted down and get the parties back to the negotiating table. But also we'll be working very strongly through the United Nations.

Q Christine, what kind of leverage does the U.S. or the international community have on those people to induce them to stop fighting?

MS. SHELLY: I think certainly the humanitarian requirements for the country are extremely strong. One of the emphasis -- one of the key goals for the international community -- will certainly be to try to get humanitarian assistance to those who are most needy in as fast a way as possible. This, obviously, as practical matter, is going to be very, very difficult with the continuation of the situation on the ground as it is now.

This is also the degree to which the country can have outside contacts, it can have normal relations with neighboring countries as well as with other countries in the international community. That is also the type of thing -- this hopefully not a situation which will go on at great length. Hopefully, those who are the parties to the conflict will realize that this is not the kind of behavior which will be acceptable in the short term much less over the long term to other governments if wish to have normal relations with surrounding states and also occupy some kind of standing within the international community with a view to getting embassies back, having more normal relations, being able to have those governments bring their influence to bear on the humanitarian relief situation and to have the country itself be able to return to some kind of normal domestic, economic, and political life.

Q But do you have any indication that people who have been fighting each other, with such a degree of violence, are responding to those arguments?

MS. SHELLY: It is certainly our hope that they will respond to those arguments. The situation there is certainly extremely dismal. The kind of reports of violence by one group against another are extremely disturbing.

I think you have seen an acceleration in the pace of attention which is being given to the crisis there within the international community, and specifically within the Security Council. Hopefully, they will be able to exercise political pressure and also a kind of moral persuasion to try and get an end to what's going on there right now.

Q (Inaudible) the people with whom you are in touch in Rwanda to give us an idea of the depth of the United States involvement in bringing an end to the violence?

MS. SHELLY: I will be happy to see if I can provide some more concrete indication. Coming up here as the briefer, we don't necessarily come in with every record of every telephone call and message that has been sent.

Q I'm not asking you that. You know that.

MS. SHELLY: Yes. I know we have had direct contacts with the parties out there, and I'll see what more I can add on this. It'll be a little more specific on this this afternoon.

Q Christine, you mentioned one of the recourses would be to prevent -- or to restrict humanitarian aid in the case of government actions which we consider intolerable.

Wouldn't that amount to simply further punishing the victims of this whole tragedy?

MS. SHELLY: I didn't couch it in terms of restricting humanitarian aid. I talked about it in terms of the ability of the international community through its own programs, as well as the degree to which NGOs and other voluntary organizations are able to operate in the country.

Unless the situation settles down, it is very clear that the NGOs and the other organizations are going to be very limited in their ability to try to meet some of those requirements. And, certainly, in terms of any multilateral or bilateral aid programs that would also address the humanitarian requirements, those are clearly going to be extremely limited until such time as the situation settles down politically.

The kind of dislocations which have occurred internally, reports of the deaths that we're getting, the total magnitude of the refugee situation in the country, obviously, it is not anywhere near a normal domestic, economic situation in which at least some of the basic human needs of the people can be met.

So there are very, very clear, gigantic relief requirements which are necessary. And until the situation settles down and the fighting on this kind of magnitude stops, it's going to be very difficult for the international community to try to deal with some of the consequences that the fighting has created; and, particularly, the refugee situation inside the country.

Q I guess I still don't understand what you meant when you said at the beginning that the United States would not tolerate this --

Q (Inaudible)

MS. SHELLY: I think that the type of actions which have been undertaken are unacceptable, and the international community needs to send a very clear signal that this type of action cannot continue.

Q Christine, when was the last high level contact between the United States, the French, and Belgium on the situation in Rwanda?

MS. SHELLY: We have had high level exchanges with them diplomatically, via the various diplomatic channels. As you know, Secretary Christopher met with the French Foreign Minister this week already in Europe. I know we have also had high level exchanges with the Belgians, although I don't have the information with me about exactly what that is. But we have been in continuous contact with both the French and the Belgians about the situation. And, also, obviously up in New York through the Security Council, we had very intensive exchanges with the Permanent Members of the Security Council which, of course, would include France.

Q You said earlier that some of the actions which are apparently happening in Rwanda do fit some of the definitions for genocide. Are you saying that our government is collecting information now, working to come to such a finding? Or are you just commenting that some things fit certain slots in that definition?

MS. SHELLY: Again, I was trying to get the point across, that in order to actually attach the genocide label to actions which are going on, that this is a process that involves looking at several categories of actions. As I've said, certain of the actions very clearly fall into some of the categories that I've mentioned.

But whether you can wrap this all up in a way that then brings you to that conclusion, I'm simply not in a position to make that judgment now. We're looking at the actions and what we know very, very carefully to try to determine exactly what is the extent of what's going on and then determine, in response to that, what are the best avenues for us in terms of addressing some of the actions through the particular four channels that I identified.

Q Another subject?

MS. SHELLY: New subject.

Q It's not a new subject.

MS. SHELLY: It's not a new subject or it is?

Q It's a new subject.

MS. SHELLY: Okay. But he asked first for a new subject. Alan.

Q Go ahead.

Q First, there has been some reaction in Colombia to U.S. note concerning (inaudible), a suspect in the bombing of an Avianca plane. Can you tell us, what was the U.S. complaint about?

MS. SHELLY: I don't have any information on that with me. I'll take the question and see if we can post something this afternoon.

Q Why did the United States grant a visa to another senior official from the Sinn Fein?

MS. SHELLY: I think the answer to that is relatively simple. Membership in Sinn Fein by itself does not constitute grounds for denying a visa. It is membership coupled with determination which might be made about whether or not the particular applicant in question might have engaged in terrorist activity.

So when we get applications for visas from members of Sinn Fein, there is a very careful vetting process that goes on within our own government, by those agencies involved in looks at terrorism and terrorist activity. If it is determined that the applicant in question has been, or there is reasonable indication that the person has been involved in some kind of terrorist activity, then that is grounds for determining that that person is not eligible.

In the specific case of the application in question by Mr. Mitchell McLaughlin, we did very carefully review that application according to those procedures and determined that he was not ineligible to receive a visa as it is determined by the Immigration and Nationality Act, and we issued the visa on Monday, April 25.

Q When the visa was issued for Gerry Adams -- I think it was late January -- the United States at that time expressed a hope that the Sinn Fein -- and the IRA as well -- would get behind the Ango- Irish Declaration and that he would renounce the use of violence.

Are you disappointed that those things have not happened?

MS. SHELLY: I don't really have -- we certainly laid out at the time that this came up what kind of response we were looking for. We certainly still hope that there is going to be that kind of positive response. Certainly, at the time that the incident came up, Gerry Adams himself made some remarks that indicated that there was movement in that direction. But I think we would certainly like to see more, and believe that the framework still exists for there to be more on this score and would hope that that still will happen.

Q Did you consult with the British Government concerning the visa application from Mitchell McLaughlin?

MS. SHELLY: I'll have to take that question. I'll post the answer.

Q Could you say whether they raised any objections?

MS. SHELLY: I'll check on that.

Q Christine, the British Embassy is saying that there was such consultation. And also --

MS. SHELLY: Okay. I refer you to the British Embassy.

Q It would be nice to see whether you concur with that.

MS. SHELLY: My understanding is, on these normally, there is consultation. So I would guess that that is the case. Let me guess also -- speculate also -- that it did occur in this case. If that is not correct, I will correct the record on that. But that is normally the procedure that we follow.

Q There also seems to be some confusion over whether he was the first Sinn Fein leader to be granted a visa since Adams, or whether another man, Shawn McMannus, has actually been granted a visa since? Are you able to clear that up?

MS. SHELLY: I don't have that information with me. I'll check.

Q I have a question on Vietnamese asylum seekers in Hong Kong. On April 7, the Hong Kong Government used more than 1,200 police and prison officers to carry out an unannounced relocation of 1,500 Vietnamese asylum seekers from one detention center to another.

Most of the refugees apparently did not know what was happening. In the day-long operation, the Hong Kong security forces fired over 500 cannisters of tear gas and injured 250 refugees. The United States has remained silent on this incident. Does this mean the Clinton Administration is condoning the Hong Kong Government's inhumane treatment of the Vietnamese refugees?

Now, part two of the question: The Vietnamese asylum seekers in Hong Kong have threatened that on April 30 -- only two days from now -- they will commit suicide in groups, either by setting themselves on fire or cutting open their abdomens to protest the forceful repatriation by the Hong Kong Government.

The threat appears real, considering the fact that a number of refugees have already taken their own lives. Does the United States have a plan to act as a mediator to prevent an imminent tragedy either by persuading the Hong Kong Government to abandon its forcible repatriation or by convincing the refugees that they can probably have a better life now under a communist regime than under Hong Kong's democratic government?

MS. SHELLY: That's kind of a loaded question. If I were completely prepared to answer that question in all of its aspects, I'm sure it would be somewhat of a surprise.

Frankly, I don't have anything with me on this, and it's obviously a very complicated situation that involves a range of policy issues and human rights considerations. Frankly, I'm just going to have to take your question and post an answer to that this afternoon. I don't have anything with me on which I can work on that. I'll take the question.

Q Apparently, the Serbs and the Muslims are moving into a new area now, an area of conflict near the town of Brcko, if that's how you say it.

MS. SHELLY: Brcko.

Q Okay, thank you. Can you enlighten us on that - - what the new conflict is? Can you confirm that they're moving in that area; that the weapons around Gorazde have moved toward that area, and what the U.S. and the United Nations and NATO would do about it?

MS. SHELLY: I don't have a lot for you on this. We have seen some of the reports also to that effect, and I've been checking on this this morning.

We've been trying to determine, as best as we can, exactly what is happening to the heavy weapons which are being removed from Gorazde; and obviously whether or not they would be concentrated in other locations with a view to being used there, is a source of great potential concern for us.

We have seen the reports indicating that the Bosnian Serbs are moving weapons and troops into the Brcko area. We do not know whether the weapons are -- we cannot tell whether all of the weapons or most of the weapons going to this area are actually coming from Gorazde.

As I said, it's something we're watching very carefully. We're trying to determine exactly what is happening there. Beyond that, beyond being able to let you know that we've seen these things -- and we're also consulting with UNPROFOR -- I can't really go beyond that at this point.

Q Can I just ask you if it does come to a battle, since that is not a declared safe haven and there's no mandate to deal with the situation in that area, what would be the -- how would it be handled? Would you just let them fight?

MS. SHELLY: This is something that we're actually looking into, the question of the areas that fall outside of safe havens, out of the specific enclaves that have been declared for that category. That is something that is of great concern. We don't consider that this is just a license to conduct actions in areas which are not covered by specific -- either U.N. resolutions or NATO decisions.

As you can certainly understand, this is a very complicated situation. We need to be sure of what the factual situation is on the ground and with a view to seeing what we might be able to do that would be of a more, shall we say, preventative nature. That's something we're looking into.

Q Is there any mandate now, currently, to deal with that kind of situation?

MS. SHELLY: I don't believe that there is. I think there are some general formulations on this that relate to some of the decisions of last year that refer to other areas. But I'm not sure that they have ever specifically been put in a kind of concrete form in the way that the safe areas or safe havens have been.

Q Christine, still on Bosnia. I was not here yesterday. I don't know whether the question was addressed or not.

MS. SHELLY: We didn't have a briefing yesterday.

Q Oh, that's right. Does this Administration agree with the opinion expressed by General Rose that the Muslims have been trying to drive the U.N. into the war?

MS. SHELLY: I've seen some reports of that statement today, but I have not actually seen a full text of his statement. Without having that text, I would really hesitate to comment on that.

One thing I think we have learned in this crisis is, we have to be very careful about responding to every report that we hear that one particular player has said one thing or said something else.

Since what I've seen on that was sketchy, I'm going to decline to react to it.

Q One more on Bosnia?

MS. SHELLY: Yes.

Q Can you tell us anything about Serb compliance with the requirement to withdraw their weapons from the safe areas apart from Gorazde and Sarajevo?

MS. SHELLY: The Sarajevo decision, of course, stands on its own. I think we've reported on the compliance on that --

Q Apart from Gorazde and Sarajevo. There are four other areas.

MS. SHELLY: The four other areas do not require the weapons to actually be withdrawn until such time as they might be declared by the military commanders as being threatened in some way, in which case then they become military exclusion zones.

So the other four areas have not been declared as military exclusion zones. Whether or not they would be so depends on what the situation is on the ground.

My understanding is that there have not been violations of the type that might trigger consideration of making that declaration. I think that the situation has been relatively quiet.

I'm certainly not going to rule out that there may have been some small arms fire -- sporadic sniper fire, things like that. But, basically, my understanding is that it's been relatively quiet throughout all of Bosnia today with the exception of some sniper fire. We don't have any reports of fighting, or of significant fighting elsewhere in Bosnia at this time.

Q North Korea.

MS. SHELLY: Okay. North Korea.

Q There are some reports that the United States is meeting with a North Korea delegation up in New York today. Can you confirm those reports?

MS. SHELLY: What I can tell you is that we have not had any recent meetings with the North Koreans in New York, but we do expect to meet with them very soon.

Q What's "very soon?"

MS. SHELLY: "Very soon" is when I can confirm for you that such a meeting is taking place.

Q At what level? Is this Gallucci's --

MS. SHELLY: At what level is a meeting of which I'm not in a position to confirm that it's taking place? I can't tell you that one either. It's a trap.

Q Do you have any comment on the latest North Korean statements on what they will and will not allow the IAEA inspectors to do?

MS. SHELLY: I've seen some of those. Again, I don't have a full text in front of me. My understanding is that the IAEA and the North Koreans are still sorting out exactly what the arrangements would be for the agency to monitor the refueling of their five megawatt reactor.

As those discussions are still going on, some the exchanges of which are going on in the public domain, I would have to decline to comment on them since the action is between the IAEA and the North Koreans.

I would just note in passing that we -- the United States -- have made it clear to North Korea that the IAEA must be present to monitor refueling in order for our dialogue with them to continue.

As we mentioned -- I think at Tuesday's briefing -- we still very much hope that the IAEA inspectors would also be able to complete at the earliest possible opportunity those remaining elements in the March inspections which they were not able to complete at that time.

Q Christine, a couple of Haiti --

Q No, North Korea.

MS. SHELLY: North Korea.

Q Do you have any reaction to the call by North Korea to open negotiations with the United States and a peace agreement?

MS. SHELLY: Is that the --

Q It's a report out of Tokyo, quoting the official news agency of North Korea, stating that North Korea has asked to open negotiations with Washington on a peace agreement?

MS. SHELLY: My understanding is that those remarks were made in the context of a North Korean announcement that they would no longer participate in meetings of the military armistice commission. They announced that they had moved to disband the neutral nations supervisory commission and had asked at least one of the nations that participates in that to return home.

What they had said, linked to that announcement, was that they intend henceforth to engage U.S. army personnel directly rather than the representatives of the NAC, the Military Armistice Commission.

As far as we're concerned, the armistice remains in full effect and all practical arrangements that would keep open the lines of communication between the U.N. command and the North Korean military still are in place.

We see no change in terms of any other sort of activities that suggests some change in their posture. We see no change in the disposition of North Korea's military forces. The United States and the Republic of Korea forces are also maintaining their defensive posture, their normal alert status, and are continuing to closely monitor the situation around the DMZ.

As to the particular reaction to their announcement, the particular announcement on the Military Armistice Commission is not something that we welcome. But I think until we have an opportunity to study fully their announcement and to consider what the full consequences of that might be, I would refrain from any further characterization.

I think we've made very clear, in terms of our own position, about our talks with them and what would be necessary for the third round of talks that have to do with the bilateral relationship and some of the issues included. We've been very clear on that in addressing that in the context of the Korean nuclear issue, but we do not see any connection between the armistice agreement and their announcement on that and the nuclear issue.

Q Also on North Korea, you said that it is clear that the IAEA representatives will have to be present when that fuel is unloaded or reloaded. Presumably, this Government wants more than just a presence. And, in other words, standing around and looking at it is not sufficient; is that correct?

MS. SHELLY: Well, that's why the IAEA and the North Koreans are in negotiation. It's precisely the terms and the understandings and the activities, specifically, that the IAEA would undertake in order to be able to make the kind of safeguards determinations that they would make in the case when refueling actually takes place. So it's much more than a simple physical presence of the IAEA; it is also the activities that they would undertake in connection with the refueling.

Q To the extent that this U.S. Government would have any influence, would it insist, as well as it could, that the core rods be sampled in order to determine what use they've been put to?

MS. SHELLY: Yes. That's a technical question, and I think it starts us a little bit down the slippery slope. Those exact kind of questions I would really have to duck. How, exactly what they do, and the way in which they would conduct the inspection while this would be going on, is really something that the IAEA either will or won't pronounce itself on. It's their determination.

We, of course, through our participation in the Board of Governors, are generally kept informed on this; but it's not a discussion and it is a set of understandings in which we insert ourselves directly.

Q Christine --

MS. SHELLY: Anything else on North Korea?

Q If I may switch --

MS. SHELLY: Yes.

Q -- just a little bit further.

Apparently the North Koreans are saying that the United States has broken the arms just by moving, or planning to move in, the Patriot missiles and that that's not maintaining the arms agreement by non-introduction of any operational material from abroad. Why?

MS. SHELLY: Well, that is certainly not our view. We've made it clear, and certainly the North Koreans know extremely well, that that is a strictly defensive system and it's not anything that has any offensive operational capability, so that is absolutely not the United States' view.

Q I have two questions on Haiti.

The first: Have your intrepid Embassy people reached the site of the alleged massacre, and do you have any information that you can give us on that event?

MS. SHELLY: Yes. I have a bit of an update on that.

The Embassy team has been to the site and has confirmed that the raid certainly did occur. There are two women in the Gonaives Hospital with bullet wounds to the legs as a result of this police action. It is certain our Embassy has been able to ascertain that local military personnel violently conducted a kind of search-and- sweep operation against unarmed Haitian civilians in Rabato, which is a Gonaives slum, early in the morning of April 22nd as residents were fleeing from the attacking forces scattering in the direction of a nearby beach. Soldiers opened fire. The firing was very wide and very extensive.

The women I referred to who were shot in the legs were not even on the beach. They were actually in a small boat which was approaching the beach.

Several witnesses have said that they saw shooting victims fall into the water and actually go under.

Now, local police authorities have claimed that the operation was an anti-terrorist sweep made necessary by a shooting attack on an area army post. The U.S. Embassy team found no evidence of such an attack on the military, such as bullet holes or any kind of damage to the army post in question.

Furthermore, residents of the area have told Embassy personnel that they heard no disturbance of any kind in the neighborhood prior to the military raid.

We will be in a better position to know the exact number of deaths in the next few days as the families continue to report to those who are missing. The reports at this point range from between 5 and 20 people who were killed in the attack, but there may have been some additional bodies which were carried out to sea; and the numbers then would have to reflect those families who have reported those missing who might have been in the area.

The U.S. Ambassador to Haiti -- Ambassador Swing -- based on the information acquired on the visit by the Embassy team to Gonaives is sending an urgent communication to Army Commander- in-Chief Cedras to vehemently protest the police violence, to express outrage at the deaths and the injuries, and to strongly urge that Cedras appoint a commission of inquiry immediately to investigate the military's role in this incident and to bring to justice the perpetrators.

As you know also, I just might mention the general situation on violence on the part of the military. I would refer you back to our statement of April lst on the violence in Haiti, in which we condemn the increasing violence and intimidation -- the level of which has clearly been rising since the start of l994.

In that statement, we demanded an end to the cycle of violence on the part of the military and other parties. And, certainly, the most recent events in Gonaives underscore the complete absence of police and military respect for basic human rights in the lives of Haitian citizens -- which continue to be a very profound concern for the United States.

Q Has that statement gotten you a real strong response? Do you see that the Government of Haiti, as it is currently constituted, is in fact cutting back on the violence -- or are they thumbing their nose at you, saying: "Mind your own business" and the violence continues?

MS. SHELLY: Well, as to whether or not there's a discernible trend in actions upward or downward, I'm really not in a position to make that assessment. I think the military and the police have gotten the message loud and clear.

The United States is not the only country which has pronounced itself on this type of incident; and whether or not the military and police have chosen to respond to that, I think this episode in question certainly suggests that they have not completely gotten the message.

Q On the stiffer sanctions which the United States says it's going to put a resolution to the United Nations on, when are you going to put that resolution to the Security Council?

MS. SHELLY: Well, we're already consulting at the United Nations on a new Security Council resolution which would introduce the tougher sanctions on Haiti. Discussion with the Haitian's Friends Group and other key countries are continuing today.

As you know, there are three tiers of sanctions on Haiti -- right now, the sanctions on petroleum products and weapons; the OAS comprehensive commercial sanctions; and the unilateral U.S. travel and financial sanctions, which seek to target the Haitian military regime supporters.

What we're seeking is a U.N. Security Council resolution that would elevate the last two categories of these sanctions to the level of U.N. sanctions.

We're also taking up at the U.N., specifically, the renewal of the mandate of the International Civilian Mission -- or the ICM. The function of the ICM is to monitor the human rights situation in Haiti.

President Aristide has asked the U.N. for this renewal, which we will vigorously support.

We will also press for the speedy deployment of more human rights observers in Haiti.

I understand that OAS monitors in Haiti are being increased, but we believe that both more OAS and U.N. monitors really will be necessary.

Q I understand the President has sent a letter to the President of the Dominican Republic. Can you tell us anything about that?

MS. SHELLY: Presidential correspondence? You'd have to go to the White House.

Q Well, one of the problems has been -- you talk about it -- an oil embargo which exists. But one also hears that millions of barrels of gasoline come across that border. So what is the United States going to do to stop that leakage of sanctions, which actually already exist?

MS. SHELLY: Well, I think you know, in the context of the various elements in the framework for pressing our policy objectives at this point, we've identified six of those. And one of those is strengthening the enforcement of existing U.N. sanctions, especially on the fuel imports and implementation of adequate and effective enforcement measures on any new sanctions which might be agreed.

We're working very closely with the Dominican Republic to make sure that that leakage stops, and we will try to do as much as we can to encourage that government to tighten things up.

Q Have you figured out a way to make it easier for Haitians who feel persecuted to take advantage of in-country processing, now that political repression is on the increase?

MS. SHELLY: Well, as you know, we've reported on this in detail in the past about how this in-country processing system works and our procedures for following up on repatriates and the steps that the INS is taking to screen applicants.

We continue to work very actively with the human rights groups, with the NGOs and others, to identify and try to reach those Haitians who are most in need of resettlement.

Recent statistics, I understand, show a slightly higher refugee approval rate than had been the case some months ago. We still continue to support the policy of direct return because of our desire to not have the Haitians undertake the extremely precarious journey across the sea.

We hope that with the in-country refugee processing program and the possibilities for resettlement that that offers that that is the safe path which Haitians will pursue who might wish to leave and, of course, who would qualify for resettlement through that end.

Q I don't support you could document the increased approval rate.

MS. SHELLY: Let me see what I can do. We had some numbers on this a couple of days ago, and let me see what I can post on that. I don't have that with me.

Q Christine, a question of detente -- China. The Chinese have expressed some dissatisfaction at the meeting scheduled between Vice President Al Gore and the Dalai Lama. Do you have any reaction to their dissatisfaction -- anything to tell them?

MS. SHELLY: No, I don't. I'll have to check and see what we can say. I don't have anything on that.

Q Also on China, they've announced that they're going to resume underground nuclear tests. Do you have any response?

MS. SHELLY: I was looking into that just before coming out here. I haven't seen yet the actual text of their announcement so I'm doing this on the basis somewhat of a scanty picture, I think. The subject has come up on a couple of previous occasions.

The Chinese so far have not joined, as you know, the moratorium on nuclear testing which is being observed by the other nuclear powers.

Following China's nuclear tests of October 5th last year, we stated that we deeply regretted their action. We have continually urged China -- and this is at the highest levels -- to refrain from further tests and to join the global moratorium.

China has committed itself to the goal of negotiating a Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, but we would certainly hope that in the interim that observance of the moratorium by all of the nuclear powers -- including China -- would contribute to the achievement of the goal of completing the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty at the earliest possible time.

Q Thank you.

MS. SHELLY: Thank you.

(Press briefing concluded at 2:00 p.m.)

(###)

To the top of this page