US DEPARTMENT OF STATE DAILY PRESS BRIEFING MAY 10, 1994 U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE DAILY PRESS BRIEFING I N D E X Tuesday, May 10, 1994 Briefer: Michael McCurry SAUDI ARABIA AT&T Awarded Contract/US Government Role ........ 1-2 Mistreatment of Americans/Canadians by Religious Police/US Response ............................ 2 INDIA Prime Minister's Meeting with the President ..... 3-4 Diplomatic Relations with US/US Ambassador ...... 4 SOUTH AFRICA US Delegation ................................... 4-5 FORMER YUGOSLAVIA Arms Embargo/Senate Debate ...................... 5-9 Violations of Gorazde/Sarajevo Exclusion Zones .. 5-6 Foreign Ministers Meeting on Friday ............. 6-9 -- Contact Group Recommendations ............... 7-9 Ambassador Redman's Meetings with Bosnians/Croats 7 Relief Workers Held/French Protest .............. 8 Status of Fighting .............................. 8 Military Activities at Brcko .................... 8-10 HUNGARY First Round of Elections Appear Free and Fair ... 10-11 SINGAPORE Condition of Michael Fay/Impact on US Relations . 11-13 HAITI Sanctions ....................................... 13 Boatpeople/Processing for Asylum ................ 14-15 US Embassy Reporting on Human Rights Abuses ..... 16
DEPARTMENT OF STATE DAILY PRESS BRIEFING
TUESDAY, MAY 10, 1994, 12:56 P.M. (ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED)
MR. McCURRY: Hi, everybody. I'm back after a while on the road, so I'll start with some good news.
Most of you, I think, saw the news announced out of New Jersey last night by AT&T that the Saudi Arabian Ministry of Post and Telecommunications had decided to award to AT&T a very large contract for a telephone expansion project in Saudi Arabia. It's an estimated $4 billion project total over the coming years. It involves, I think, l.5 million digital lines.
There is a lot of interesting detail I think you can get from AT&T about the project itself, but our interest in this is that this is a project that, of course, Secretary Christopher personally raised during his most recent trip to Riyadh, and raised in fact on his very first trip to Riyadh in February of 1993. And along with many others in the U.S. Government, from the President on down, Secretary Brown at the Commerce Department and others, there has been a concerted effort on the part of the Clinton Administration to raise the merits of the AT&T bid on this project to the attention of the Saudi Government.
Robert Allen, the Chairman and CEO of AT&T, yesterday acknowledged the support of the entire Clinton Administration and said that they appreciated it and said it's another example of the positive results of the partnership between the public and private sectors. I think it is also an indication of the determination this Administration has in putting economic interests at the center of a lot of our foreign policy work in diplomacy abroad.
Obviously the United States welcomes this decision by the Government of Saudi Arabia, and certainly thinks that they have made more than a suitable choice.
Q Can I follow that up?
MR. McCURRY: Sure. Connie.
Q (Inaudible) What effect will this have on their deal, if any? Does it affect AT&T?
MR. McCURRY: None that I'm aware of.
Q Is this a good chance to call for them to end the boycott?
MR. McCURRY: Well, we raised that issue in our recent discussions and continue to raise it in meetings that we have with both the Gulf Cooperation Council and it is also an issue that is being discussed within the context of the Arab League discussions on the boycott, too.
Q Also on Saudi Arabia?
MR. McCURRY: Yes.
Q I hate to rain on your parade, but has the United States joined with Canada in a protest about the mistreatment of some American and Canadian citizens by the Saudi religious police?
MR. McCURRY: Yes. Our Embassy in Riyadh raised the case with the Saudi Government and plans to protest the mistreatment and the arrest. This involves an incident on May 3 in which Saudi religious police seized a group of 19 ex-patriots who were leaving a private party in Riyadh. The foreigners, including five U.S. citizens, were suspected of violating Saudi Arabia's prohibition on alcohol.
In the course of the incident, the religious police reportedly beat on the cars, smashed the windows. There was one American hospitalized from injuries suffered during the arrest.
We can't provide any details on who was involved because of the Privacy Act considerations, but it is something that causes us great concern and we have raised it appropriately with the government in Riyadh.
Q (Inaudible) the Saudis?
MR. McCURRY: We raised it and made a protest (inaudible).
Q I know you don't do comparisons, but I'm struck by the fact that when we were in China the head of AT&T in China made a very careful presentation about how lost business could actually endanger the whole existence of that company in the future if MFN were withdrawn in China. And here you have Saudi Arabia with possibly even more egregious abuses of civil rights, of human rights. The Department pays a lot of attention now to women's rights. And I note that women in Saudi Arabia are not allowed to drive, which they are in China.
So, I mean, how do you balance human rights vis-a-vis trade in the case of Saudi Arabia?
MR. McCURRY: As effectively as possible.
Q Do you consider that an answer?
MR. McCURRY: Yes.
Q An answer that might be satisfactory to anybody in this room?
MR. McCURRY: I didn't consider it to be a question, to be honest with you.
Q I want to ask about Mr. Rao's visit. There was a story in the Post yesterday which indicated that Mr. Rao would like that the non-proliferation issues not raised during his talks with Mr. Clinton. And, of course, in the background are some talks in London that the U.S. officials had. Kind of a two-fold question.
Do you think that the U.S. will accommodate Mr. Rao's wishes by not raising the non-proliferation issue or has it been thrashed out in London so that there is no need to raise it here?
MR. McCURRY: I think there have been discussions about it, but I need to check a little bit further and get a more proper accounting for you on exactly how the issues will be raised. Certainly non-proliferation in that region remains one of our great concerns. It has been something that has been raised by the Deputy Secretary in his recent travels, and I don't have much to add to what he has already said publicly in some of his --
Q Should I check with you later, or -- ?
MR. McCURRY: We'll see if we can get anything further.
Q But you can say for the record that it will be raised.
MR. McCURRY: It remains one of our concerns and we continue to raise it appropriately and in a variety of contacts that we have.
Q Michael --
MR. McCURRY: I don't want to say specifically. I'm not sure about that meeting without checking.
Q Something related in that area.
MR. McCURRY: Yes.
Q Is it the Department's understanding that India has delayed deployment of their Prithvi medium-range missile?
MR. McCURRY: I'd have to check on that. I don't know.
Q Could you take that question?
MR. McCURRY: I'll take it.
Q: While we are on India, could I ask you a question about -- a more general question about relations with India? The fact that the U.S. has not had an Ambassador there for the best part of a year, how important does the U.S. consider its relations with India?
MR. McCURRY: Well, it's a very, very important bilateral relationship as reflected in the trip that the Deputy Secretary recently took, and I think as a result of that trip, and several of the discussions that have occurred in the aftermath, I'd characterize the relations as positive.
There is a concern about the presence of an Ambassador, and that's something that I think the United States is well aware of, and there is a history to that question that I think the government of India is well aware of, but it was certainly a matter that was discussed with Deputy Secretary Talbott. I think that there was satisfaction on both sides that that should not be an impediment to a very close working relationship with the world's largest democracy.
Q To go to another subject, do you have anything on the South African inauguration or president?
MR. McCURRY: I don't. I think that other than, you know, the remarkable nature of the occasion, the presence of a very able delegation in South Africa led by the Vice President and the First Lady among many, many others has been certainly a reflection of our own belief in the importance transforming moment in the history of South Africa.
But there has been a good deal of commentary by those who are members of the delegation, and I won't add anything to what many of them have already said.
Q Mike, as you know, the Senate is currently debating a resolution calling for the lifting of the arms embargo on Bosnia.
Assuming that a resolution is passed along those lines, what if anything will be the impact on U.S. policy in that regard?
MR. McCURRY: Well, that's an issue that is of great concern to the Administration and the affect of unilateral calls for unilateral action to lift a U.N. ordered arms embargo is something that causes the Administration great concern. That's an issue that we have raised on Capital Hill, and I wouldn't want at this point to assume that that is necessarily the action that Congress will take.
I think the President himself has addressed the question of how important it is to keep multilateral support for a U.N.-ordered action such as an arms embargo that now exists on the former Yugoslavia, and we would certainly hope that, cognizant of those views, the Congress would think about that step.
Q But, effectively, will the Congress' decision -- or the Senate's decision -- have any impact whatsoever --
MR. McCURRY: Depending.
Q -- or would you just go ahead and do whatever you want to do?
MR. McCURRY: It depends on how it is -- it depends on what the statutory effect the amendment has if it's passed and adopted by Congress. It depends on what the nature of the amendment might be, and that's, as far as I understand, not clear at this point.
Q Have the Serbs brought heavy weapons back into the off-limits area of Gorazde?
MR. McCURRY: There have been some reported -- you've seen reported some violations around the exclusion zones in both Sarajevo and Gorazde. They have been characterized by UNPROFOR and NATO officials who are more familiar with the exact nature of those. We believe that all provisions of U.N. resolutions that established the exclusions zones must be complied with and enforced. NATO remains ready to carry out air strikes in response to violations that do occur.
We have not had requests for air strikes in connection with any violations around the exclusion zones, but we certainly ask for and receive frequently, from UNPROFOR and NATO military officials, information on their understanding of what's happening on the ground.
Q Do you want air strikes to be requested?
MR. McCURRY: I don't want to speculate on that.
Q The British commander said, apparently, the area is so wooded in the exclusion zone and so difficult to travel and that the U.N. troops are not even allowed in there by the Serbs, so it's practically impossible to say that the Serbs are complying. In fact, he said they're probably not because of the fact the Serbs are keeping the U.N. troops out of there. Where do the air strikes fit into that?
MR. McCURRY: I don't have any reason to dispute that characterization. The air strikes in that equation are just as I described.
Q Mike, on Sunday, the Hungarian Socialist (inaudible) victory in the elections. Do you have any comment on it? And will it or will it not modify the U.S. policy to Hungary and the Visograd countries?
MR. McCURRY: That's a good question, and we'll come to that. Alan, did you have another one on Bosnia?
Q Yes. I just wondered if you had any word to say about what you hope to accomplish at this Foreign Ministers meeting on Friday?
MR. McCURRY: They are still doing some work in advance of that meeting with contacts that are going on between some of the governments.
I'd say our overall objective is, obviously, to provide some renewed impetus to the effort to achieve a cessation of hostilities in Bosnia, throughout Bosnia, and to do what can be done at this point to get the parties to refocus their own efforts in an effort to achieve a political settlement.
How that would happen and what steps the Ministers might outline themselves is something I really don't want to speculate on this much in advance.
I'd say the overall purpose that I think Secretary Christopher has in mind is advancing the effort on the ground now to get the parties to stop fighting so that they can get on with the business of drawing up an effective settlement.
Q How has Mr. Redman been doing in his talks with the parties?
MR. McCURRY: As a participant in the Contact Group discussions, he's met with both parties. They've met collectively with both sides in the conflict.
One of the purposes of this Ministerial meeting on Friday will be to hear a report back from the Contact Group on their assessment of where things stand now and what further steps might be taken as we look ahead.
You'll recall that when the Contact Group itself was formally established, they were given a rough period of two weeks by the Ministers to really address the question or determine the posture of the parties at this point. I think it's a good time, given that period, to take another assessment, look at where things might go next.
Ambassador Redman, in the last several days, has really been working on a separate issue. He's been over in Vienna mediating some of the talks between the Bosnian Croatians and the Bosnian Muslims on formally establishing some of the precise elements of the Federation Agreement that was signed here earlier this year.
Q Exactly which Foreign Ministers are going to be at this meeting?
MR. McCURRY: I don't know that. The contacts that we've had have been with the other Contact Group Foreign Ministers. I'm not certain who all will be at the meeting at this point. We'll try to get you something on that either tomorrow or the next day.
Q (Inaudible) the French and the British at this point?
MR. McCURRY: I'm fairly certain that they are participating. Of course, Foreign Minister Juppe will be here, I believe, tomorrow for a working lunch he's having with the Secretary tomorrow. So we'll see him in advance of the meeting over in Europe.
Q Speaking of the French Foreign Minister, he's has apparently protested to the Bosnian Serbs who are holding these relief workers, apparently to stand trial for alleged arms smuggling. Do you have any comment on that?
MR. McCURRY: We are certainly aware of their protest and very supportive of the concern that they have expressed about the status of those workers.
Q Is that an ominous sign that these people are being held for a trial?
MR. McCURRY: It's a source of concern to us that they're being held. It's something that we've talked about here in recent weeks. It fits a pattern of harassment that we've seen on the part of the Bosnian Serbs that's certainly not welcome.
Q When you examine the events on the ground in the last couple of weeks, do you discern any encouraging signs that would lead you to suggest that the parties are actually ready to seek a peace agreement? Or would you say that they're still interested in pursuing the war?
MR. McCURRY: I think they're very mixed reports. You can see evidence in some cases that they continue to build forces -- both sides continue to build forces that would suggest some military options that they have in mind. But you also see a general pattern of reduced fighting. Certainly, there are far fewer instances of attacks upon civilian populations, and that's encouraging. That can contribute to an environment in which peace discussions become possible, but it is certainly a mixed report, as you look across Bosnia.
Q Have the Serbs continued to build up around Brcko? Do we continue to be concerned about that?
MR. McCURRY: We are concerned about that. UNPROFOR reports to us that there is a continuing buildup. The pace of that buildup seems to have slowed somewhat in recent days, but we don't see specific numbers on what types of weapons they're talking about.
It is true that now at this time of year it is hard to track that type of weaponry because of the nature of the vegetation. But the United Nations assessment given to us is that they do not believe that fighting is imminent around Brcko.
Q Mike, on the matter of the Contact Group reporting, in addition to the report, do you also expect them to make recommendations as to the course of action, or will that be left up to the Foreign Ministers?
MR. McCURRY: They will probably give their assessment of where they think the discussions stand. I don't know whether they're going to have any formal recommendations or not. But I certainly think they will leave that for the Foreign Ministers to address.
Q Mike, could I follow up on Bosnia? In the context of the Senate resolution that is being ruled on, some Senators have raised the point that the U.N. Charter gives every nation the right to defend itself against aggression. Now, how do you reconcile the U.S. and other allies' position of imposing an arms embargo on a nation that is under attack?
MR. McCURRY: That is a question of international law that's a lot more complicated than saying that an Article 51 right to self-defense supersedes other actions. It's pretty clear when you examine the Charter that decisions by the Security Council, particularly a decision enforcing an arms embargo that's restated and reaffirmed in subsequent resolutions, has a weight that does challenge or at least needs to be balanced with the presumed right to self-defense under Article 51. That's a question of international law that, frankly, I'm not the best person to address.
But those who have looked at that question say it's by no means certain that an Article 51 assertion for a right to self-defense by a nation facing aggression can supersede decisions taken by the Security Council.
Q Back to Brcko. That buildup you described, is that just on the (inaudible) side or is it also among the Bosnian Government --
MR. McCURRY: It's a reported buildup of government and Bosnian Serb forces.
Q Can I go just one more? There was the idea of interposing U.N. peacekeepers there. I guess there are a couple dozen or something who are there. Is there any plan to do more?
MR. McCURRY: It would be our hope that UNPROFOR could be in a position to insert troops that would help mediate some agreed ceasefire or some agreed neutrality zone between the parties along the line of confrontation. But that's something that has been under discussion with the United Nations, and it will probably be under discussion by the Foreign Ministers when they meet on Friday. I don't know for a fact that they will address that issue at this point, but it's likely that that would be the kind of thing they would get into.
Q Do you have anything to announce about the Secretary's travel after Geneva?
MR. McCURRY: No. I hear around and about he might be going back to the Middle East; I think he actually said that he does expect to return to the Middle East in mid-May, and I'm not aware of anything that would change that general theory. We haven't worked out timing or questions like that, but I wouldn't be surprised if he makes another quick run down to the region.
Q Without coming back to the United States first?
MR. McCURRY: Without coming back, yes.
Q Can we move on to Hungary now?
MR. McCURRY: Any more on Bosnia, and we'll go back to your good question then.
Q Could you comment more broadly on the regional pattern after the election? The Czech Republic is practically the only country in the region which doesn't have communists in government. Do you see anything ominous in that?
MR. McCURRY: Let me just work through what we've got. We're somewhat handicapped because we're in between two rounds of elections, and I think it's our general posture that we'd prefer not to comment on the elections in Hungary until the conclusion of the second round. But they did, I think as you know, on May 8 have the first round of the multi-party parliamentary elections. These are the second elections since the collapse of communism. They were monitored by representatives of interested political parties and international observers. The Ambassador and other officials from the United States were at the Embassy in Budapest and kept contact during the voting period itself.
We understand from reports that the first round of elections was free and fair. We're also pleased -- the report we have at this point is that nearly 70 percent voted in the first round, which is encouraging. This round, I believe, filled about a third of the 386 seats, and the second round that will occur May 29 will then begin to round out the composition of the parliament.
We can't comment on the election results at this point, because they are sort of within the process and facing another round of elections. But we do look forward to working with the democratically elected leaders of Hungary. The question about the presence of communists or former communists or reformed communists or unreformed communists in any of these governments -- it is a changing situation and a changing political dynamic, reflecting the changing politics of each of these countries.
In many cases, those who have been associated with past regimes have adopted new policies, new programs and frankly new political attitudes as they've contested for political power. Obviously, our concern would be a return to anything that suggests the totalitarian past -- these countries -- but that's certainly not the story as you look across central and eastern Europe where you see transformation towards democracy, towards free markets and towards freedom of expression.
Q Can I ask you about the aftermath --
MR. McCURRY: Sure.
Q Does the United States plan any high-level contact with the new government in the near future?
MR. McCURRY: I'd have to check on that. I wouldn't be surprised, but not any that I am aware of at this point. I'll check and see if there is any plan.
Q A follow-up question: How the United States thinks the future of Visograd countries, which was very supportive from Washington, if former or reformed or unreformed of any kind of communist are taking over?
MR. McCURRY: I think that our views towards each of those governments would depend on the policies that they'd pursue, the personalities involved. They might have pasts, but they have futures, and their futures will suggest the policies they will pursue in office, and that's the thing that we will be most keenly interested in seeing.
MR. McCURRY: Yes, or Alan.
Q I had one about the aftermath of the caning affair. There have been disputes between accounts that were offered by U.S. diplomats, on the one hand, and Singaporean officials on the other as to the condition of Michael Fay. In fact, he was quoted by Singaporean officials as laughing and joking with people who beat him and sitting down and generally being hunky-dory. His family gives a very different picture.
So I wondered if you could shed any light on the true nature of the injuries that he incurred.
MR. McCURRY: I can't, and it's frustrating for us to be in that position, but it goes to the very heart of the way we do Consular work abroad. We have to operate overseas when we do work, as we frequently do, with Americans who are facing incarceration or face some type of punishment in foreign legal systems, we work through our Consular operations to try to determine their status, to get information that we can provide to relatives and to others, but we do so within the strictures of both U.S. law, the Privacy Act, and then the work that we do within those governments.
In this case we have -- I think everyone is well aware that we've had contact with Mr. Fay following the administration of the punishment. Our Vice Consul briefed Mr. Fay's family and his attorney, as we normally would do, but we just cannot comment in public on either his condition or on the briefing that we've provided to the family.
You certainly have heard from the family their own concern as they've stated it, and I think they are in the position to be able to provide you whatever detail that can be made available about our own report on his condition. But it's just one of those cases in which, to effectively do our diplomatic work overseas, we have to respect some of the confidentiality required by U.S. law and by the nature of the contact we have with the host government.
Q Another one. The U.S. Trade Representative, Mickey Kantor, made a statement in which he said the United States does not support Singapore hosting the first meeting of the World Trade Organization, which is a successor organization to GATT. Is that position in any way connected to this caning affair?
MR. McCURRY: He did not indicate so, as far as I understand from seeing the wire account I saw on his remarks. But that question is one -- the question of who hosts those meetings is one that's decided within the consensus proceedings of the WTO itself.
Q Well, is the U.S. position that Singapore should not host that meeting and, if so, why?
MR. McCURRY: I don't believe that we have taken a position on who should host that. I think the Ambassador certainly reflected his view on that question. I don't have anything to add to that.
Q So he was expressing a personal view?
MR. McCURRY: I think he was expressing his view.
Q One more on Singapore. Now that the punishment's over, do you think there has been any lasting impact on U.S.-Singaporean relations?
MR. McCURRY: That's hard to tell. It depends on what type of reaction individual Americans or individual American enterprises might have or what types of contacts people will pursue or not pursue based on their own understanding of the facts.
Q Are you, the government, making any recommendations about Americans traveling there, Americans doing business there?
MR. McCURRY: I'm not aware of any change in the Consular information sheet that we've issued in the past. We did make some changes indicating that these types of punishments can be expected in cases where local laws are violated, alerted Americans to that fact. I'm not aware of any change since I think our most recent change in the information sheet.
MR. McCURRY: Oh, yesterday. So there was one newer than I was aware of.
Q -- at the time of the caning late last week that there was going to be a change. It would just simply inform Americans of the possibility of harsh punishment.
MR. McCURRY: I think that that change has been reflected, but we can get you a copy of the latest information sheet.
Q Haiti. Do you have anything new today?
MR. McCURRY: Any?
Q Do you have any statement or is there any update on third countries?
MR. McCURRY: No. They continue to work it. I checked earlier today -- said what can we say at this point about the responses or the contacts we've had? There's not much we can report at this point. We're still in the process of working both through the OAS and then bilaterally through some of our contacts at the United Nations, contacts that Ambassador Albright has had and then others that we will have here, building support for the President's policy, working to address this with cohesion within the hemisphere. At this point, I can't give you a full report about how we're doing on that, but we'll continue that work. As we can provide you more detail, we will.
Q Can you give us a sense of -- after the initial interviews are done on board these ships, where people who pass that first hurdle -- where they would go after that? Would they stay on the ships? Would they go to Guantanamo? Would they go to -- there are no third countries yet. Where would they go?
MR. McCURRY: I don't know that it's been determined. In any event, I don't have the answer. As we can get more on how that process will work, we will let you know. I think some of that is still being developed, working through -- we've got several agencies involved. Obviously, INS has got the lead on a question like that, and we will work with them. But as we examine the possibilities of third countries or other offshore processing, we'll see if we can't work up a little more detail on how the whole process will work. I just don't have it at this point.
Steve and then Rita.
Q Mike, in his press conference yesterday, the Secretary left me with the impression that it might be the case that it would either be on ship or in third countries. One or the other but not both. Is that the case? Is that --
MR. McCURRY: I don't think that's been determined. I think there was a suggestion it could be either way or some combination of both, but I think it would depend on what type of reaction we do get as we approach other governments. We just don't have that at this point.
Q Follow-up on the question about where they would go. Are you saying then it's not assumed that they'll go to Florida if they are approved for asylum instead of being sent back to Haiti? They could go to other states?
MR. McCURRY: I just don't know what type of processing they will use. In the case where they've done screening or an initial processing and they've determined that there's a well-founded fear of persecution, and they need to then process that individual further, I don't know what steps they will take at this point.
Q Do you know how soon the shipboard interviews will start, just the general timeframe?
MR. McCURRY: I don't. We were talking to some Pentagon folks earlier, and they were looking at that question over there. I'm not sure they had an answer, but they were thinking about that same question. So they might be saying some more about that over there today.
Q It will definitely be then military ships, or would you contract with some kind of private ships?
MR. McCURRY: I think the assumption has been it would be military, but I don't have the answer to that. We'll have to look into that further.
Q Have any boats been intercepted?
MR. McCURRY: I'm told there haven't been any interdictions since the ones that we reported a week ago or so -- fairly recently.
Q When the President gave his press conference on -- or actually spoke about it several times over the weekend, it sounded as if he was saying that the underlying political situation in Haiti had changed sufficiently; that that was one of the reasons he changed the policy; that there was sort of more of a general fear of persecution, and in fact that has been reflected in recent weeks in how many people have qualified -- the percentage has gone up. Has the bar changed?
MR. McCURRY: No. There's not been any change in the criteria. There's been a change in the situation on the ground as it's understood by those who do the evaluations.
Q In Mexico yesterday, the Secretary talked about sounding out nations in the hemisphere about a peacekeeping force. Is that just a concept now, or is there a national blueprint of how that would work and when?
MR. McCURRY: He was referring to the idea of a U.N. mission that has been talked about before. I think it was envisioned within the Governors Island accord itself, and then later embraced by the United Nations in their own resolution on the subject.
What the Secretary is currently instructing a variety of people to do is explore within the region, certainly within the hemisphere, what type of support there could exist for a U.N. mission that would be there to carry out many of the same things described in the Governors Island process itself -- professionalization of existing security forces once some of the transformations have taken place that are envisioned both by the accords and by the process that's underway.
Q Do you have any preliminary soundings?
MR. McCURRY: Nothing that I can share at this point.
Q There was a cable a couple of weeks that came from the Embassy in Port-au-Prince. It was pretty critical of Aristide himself. Does the Administration share those criticisms? And is there, in light of all these changes, any re-evaluation of the basic relationship and basic motivation for putting him back in power without any reconciliation?
MR. McCURRY: Rita, I think that's a real overstatement. If you're referring to a cable that was reporting an assessment of human rights situations on the ground, it was a fairly routine cable that comes from the post now on a very regular basis, assessing different types of reports of human rights abuses, motivations, the best assessment that the Embassy staff can get of what's actually happening on the ground. I think it's unfortunate that some aspects of one particular recent cable were taken somewhat out of context.
There's been a very full and balanced spectrum of reporting by our Embassy staff. It is doing a very good job down there and often in dangerous circumstances. I think the reporting that they have done has gone into the thinking that you've now seen reflected in the decisions taken by the President and announced accordingly.
Q Do you share the cable's statement that Aristide has blown out of proportion the extent of the military abuses for his own political gain?
MR. McCURRY: I think that the Embassy staff does good reporting from that post. They do a very wide variety of reports, and I wouldn't want to single out one particular element of one particular cable and try to draw a large policy conclusion from that. I think you need to look -- if you had seen the full balance of reporting which, in a sense, you have because that goes into our policy-making and what we've said publicly of the human rights conditions in Haiti, you would have a very good sense of the type of reporting you've seen and that we've seen.
Q Just a general question on Aristide, then. Is there any change in the underlying ties to him of how he should be returned, if he should be returned?
MR. McCURRY: The President couldn't have been clearer on that subject Sunday.
Q Thank you.
MR. McCURRY: Thank you.
(Press briefing concluded at 1:31 p.m.)
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