US DEPARTMENT OF STATE DAILY PRESS BRIEFING MAY 12, 1994 U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE DAILY PRESS BRIEFING I N D E X Thursday, May 12, 1994 Briefer: Michael McCurry ANNOUNCEMENT Secretary's Statement on Death of UK Labor Party Leader John Smith .............................1 HAITI Election of New President by Rump Group .........1-2 -- Deputy Secretary's Address to OAS Yesterday .1 Military Training Assistance Under UN Resolution 2 Status of Human Rights Monitors .................3 In Country Processing for Asylum ................3-4 Repatriation Treaty with US .....................4 CHINA Statement by National Security Advisor on MFN ...5-8 FORMER YUGOSLAVIA Senate Debate on Lifting Embargo ................8-9 MIDDLE EAST PEACE PROCESS Implementing Declaration of Principles/US Aid ...10-11
DEPARTMENT OF STATE DAILY PRESS BRIEFING
THURSDAY, MAY 12, 1994, 12:40 P. M. (ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED)
MR. McCURRY: Good afternoon, everybody. I'd like to start with a statement on behalf of the Secretary. Secretary of State Christopher was deeply saddened by the untimely death of John Smith, the leader of the British Labor Party. Mr. Smith throughout his distinguished career in government and in opposition left a profound impression on the history of his party and his country. Secretary Christopher extends his deepest condolences to Mrs. Smith and to the Smith children.
Any questions? George.
Q We heard your reaction yesterday to the events in Haiti yesterday afternoon. Is there anything you could add to that in terms of a response other than a rhetorical response?
MR. McCURRY: To the events yesterday?
MR. McCURRY: I would direct you to Deputy Secretary Talbott's presentation at the OAS last night. I think he made a very extensive comment on what was clearly an illegitimate act by this rump group in Haiti. I think more importantly the strong declaration which was issued last night by the OAS, which condemns the action yesterday, is a united statement on behalf of the hemisphere, which categorically rejects the actions that have been taken by this rump group in attempting to install an illegitimate provisional president in Haiti.
But I think that Deputy Secretary Talbott's statement was very eloquent, as was the statement by the U.N. OAS representative, Dante Caputo.
Q Mike, whether this so-called government is bogus or not, does it complicate things legally as far as resolving the situation in Haiti?
MR. McCURRY: No, not at all. I think the standing of the U.N. Security Council resolutions in effect, including the most recent resolution 917, stand in effect regardless of any steps that have been taken which may or may not be consistent with the terms of Haiti's constitution.
It's clear that the purpose of the world community is to restore President Aristide and restore democracy to Haiti. That's the purpose of the sanctions that have been in place and that are now going to be put in place in an even stronger fashion, and that is directed towards reconstituting a legitimate popularly elected government in Haiti.
So the maneuverings and shenanigans by a rump group in Haiti does not deter the world community from pressing forward on what is the constitutional and democratically elected outcome that is foreseen both by the Governors Island accords and by the election held in Haiti itself.
Q So the 15-day clock is still running?
MR. McCURRY: The sanctions would go into effect May 21, and there are provisions thereafter -- the ones that are outlined in the resolution, yes.
Q Mike, can you just clarify for us what the U.S. Government understands it to be authorized to do in terms of U.N. resolutions in the placement of military observers or advisers into Haiti? What are the conditions required to undertake that?
MR. McCURRY: I don't have anything newer than what has been said in the past about the provisions that exist within the Governors Island agreement about a U.N. mission or an international mission in Haiti. I think our understanding is that the desirability of that mission to both train and professionalize the Haitian military and police and then also to help assist the transition that occurs as those steps begin to unfold, leading to the restoration of democracy and the return of President Aristide, are the ones that we have envisioned, dating back to the time of Governors Island. I'm not aware of any change in that.
Q But, I mean, the point being that the transition has to start occurring for that mission to kick in.
MR. McCURRY: That's the way it's always been envisioned.
Q Okay, just because I was confused by the reporting yesterday.
MR. McCURRY: There were some confusing reports. I acknowledge that.
Q Are you aware of anyone recognizing this government?
MR. McCURRY: I am not aware. In fact, I think they specifically indicated through the OAS last night that that was not foreseen.
Q The new self-styled president has indicated that the U.N. rights monitors -- I believe there are about 100 in Haiti -- will be asked to leave. Do you have any comment on that?
MR. McCURRY: The unanimous view of the world community is exactly the opposite, that there needs to be an increase in the number of monitors there who can fully document the instances of human rights abuses that are so appalling. If anything, as President Clinton has indicated, we need to increase the number of monitors who are there through the international civilian monitoring program; and in fact our policy and I believe the view of the OAS last night is that we should take steps to increase the number of monitors who are present.
Q Aristide's people here in town are concerned about the fate of some of the cabinet -- of the Aristide cabinet members who remain in Haiti. Is there going to be any effort by this country to get these people out or to help Haitian- Americans to get out?
MR. McCURRY: The effort that we have underway to identify those who have a well-founded fear of persecution, to process them so they can claim status to come here to the United States, are very well known in Haiti. In fact, the Embassy and the Ambassador have taken steps to readvertise the availability of that type of processing. The importance of that is that's the legal process by which those who find themselves in a position where they do fear for their lives or fear persecution can make a legitimate application to the United States Government and seek to emigrate.
We feel very strongly that that's obviously preferable to attempting to emigrate illegally by boat in a situation in which people are very often put at grave risk and mortal danger. So the answer is whether it's a member of the cabinet or whether it's someone who is a political activist or someone who does have a well-founded fear of persecution, we are trying to make it clear that the process is available through the processing centers we run in-country through additional steps that we will take to monitor those who might be at some type of risk to address folks who find themselves in that type of situation.
So if President Aristide or any of his supporters are concerned about that, it's a concern that we certainly share.
Q Do we consider the agreement under which we have been authorized to intercept the refugee boats to have been terminated and therefore subject to this six-month clock that was part of the agreement? Or after six months, will we stop intercepting refugees if there are still refugees coming out of Haiti?
MR. McCURRY: Our intent is to continue the policy, and certainly our hope is that within six months, this matter would be resolved and President Aristide would be rightfully returned to Haiti.
Q But do we accept Aristide's right to say this agreement is --
MR. McCURRY: The Government of Haiti has under the treaty a right to terminate, subject to this six-month provision -- I have not talked to any of the international lawyers who have looked at that question recently. I think there were some in the Department who were evaluating what legal effect the letter that we received from President Aristide would carry.
I can check further for you on that and see if they've got any type of sort of an international legal opinion on what the effect is. But the practical effect is that President Aristide indicated in his letter that they intended to withdraw from that treaty as they are allowed to do under the provisions of the treaty within the six-month period indicated.
Q Switch to a different subject?
Q One more on Haiti, please. A lot of these refugees who don't come to the United States or who aren't picked up at sea wind up in other places like the Bahamas. Does the U.S. Government supply any kind of financial support for their care?
MR. McCURRY: I don't know the answer to that, Jim. I'd have to check to be absolutely sure. I'm not aware that we do. We do have ongoing conversations with the Government of the Bahamas about that problem, and they have addressed the needs that arise when they feel there's going to be an out- migration or an exodus of folks from Haiti, because they in a sense catch much of the burden of that.
We've got economic assistance programs, I think, that are run for the Bahamas. I don't know to what degree they are directed to refugees from Haiti, but I can look into that and see if I can find that out.
Q Amnesty International has held a news conference, saying that torture in China and especially Tibet is widespread and practices relentlessly, and that the U.S. shouldn't pretend otherwise. I guess my question is whether anyone in the Administration is pretending otherwise.
MR. McCURRY: We're not, and I think we have addressed that most recently in our human rights report on China.
Q Tony Lake said today that he's not pessimistic about renewal of MFN. Can you add to that or elaborate?
MR. McCURRY: I can't elaborate on that. In the discussion of where we are on the MFN decision, I think as you know, later this month the Secretary will prepare a recommendation that goes to the President. He's already in the active process of shaping that decision and has had numerous meetings with folks here at the Department, commissioned some study papers on various aspects of the decision and the recommendation he will make. And, of course, we continue to have discussions both in Beijing and here in Washington about the seven criteria that are outlined in the President's Executive Order -- Most-Favored-Nation status -- and there have been some steps.
Obviously, the release of Yu Haocheng earlier this week was an important step because he is one of the prisoners in the Freedom of Immigration category, which those of you who follow the technical aspects of the Executive Order, know that that's one of the mandatory provisions in which there must be progress prior to the decision to renew. So there have been some things happening that I would characterize -- I wouldn't want to inflate the importance of them, but there have been some steps that you could characterize as progress.
There have been some ongoing discussions with the Chinese Government about various aspects of the Executive Order, but we are very much now in a period in which the Secretary, as I say, is shaping the decision and the recommendation that he will present to the President, and that will happen, I suspect, probably sometime by the end of the month.
Q Do you have anything to say about The Washington Post report this morning, suggesting that the Administration is seeking a middle ground solution under which the President would reaffirm his -- or reassert his interest in protecting human rights in China while doing nothing to harm two-way trade?
MR. McCURRY: Yes. They must employ mind readers at The Washington Post these day, because I know that the person responsible for making the decision and making the recommendation to the President has been keeping very close counsel on what direction he is likely to go, and I think other than Secretary Christopher's direction to his staff and to numerous officials here at the Department to prepare various options, scenarios or various discussion papers, it would be very difficult for me or for anyone to really have a good sense of which way that direction is going. So The Washington Post must have access to a very unusual source of information to be able to report so categorically.
MR. McCURRY: I don't know.
Q Or the L.A. Times?
MR. McCURRY: I usually kind of flip to the comic pages for the horoscope when I want to get that kind of information.
Q Mike, what is the current thinking on -- you know, whatever the decision on MFN is -- on the granting of perhaps partial MFN or sectoral MFN, or is it still viewed as an all- or-nothing case here?
MR. McCURRY: That leads me into sort of defining for you what the Secretary might be looking at or what direction he might be heading in his own thinking. And I think at this point we just will refrain from commenting on that. The Secretary is in the final weeks of shaping a decision -- that recommendation that he will send to the President, and by suggesting one sort of option I might be ruling out another sort of option. I just don't think that's wise to do at this point.
Q Is there an interagency process that feeds into his recommendation, or does his recommendation feed into an interagency process?
MR. McCURRY: Probably it's a symbiotic relationship, but there is an interagency working group that Ambassador Lord shares that has been working up various aspects of this. And there's very good input from other relevant agencies within the government, and there's been frankly a very good discussion back and forth with a lot of those cabinet agencies about the decision that's pending. I'd say that that consultation and back-and-forth dialogue will continue as we continue to analyze what's actually happened in the last year since the signing of the Executive Order; and, of course, there are several weeks left here before the clock runs out on the evaluation itself on whether or not there's been significant overall progress.
Q Mike, I'd like to -- I'm sorry.
MR. McCURRY: Yes. Tim.
Q One more. The Secretary's recommendation then will represent his view rather than the view of the agencies --
MR. McCURRY: It will be a very well informed view that reflects the thinking broadly throughout the government by those who have been participating in the dialogue on the issue.
Q Mike, I'd like to go back to one of your earlier answers, when you speak of options, when it comes to renewal of Most-Favored-Nation or not, does that mean that there could well be a decision which is not black or white, either extending, renewing Most-Favored-Nation or not renewing that? But there could be several shades of differences in that policy.
MR. McCURRY: Logic would suggest that. I don't want to say that's the direction necessarily that Secretary Christopher would go, but there are different -- it's not a thumbs-up, thumbs-down type of decision necessarily. There are different ways that you can analyze the progress that's occurred. The Executive Order itself has got seven different categories of issues. It's got implications suggested by each of those seven categories, and there's been different types of progress and different types of developments within those criteria. So I think it will likely be a textured decision. (Laughter)
Q A shaded type?
MR. McCURRY: Is there anyone here who knows that might mean? (Laughter) It sounded good.
Q The other mandatory provision in the Executive Order is the exporting of enforced prison labor products. Has the Customs Service been granted access to these state enterprises in China?
MR. McCURRY: Jim, I'll have to check on that. I think you may recall when the Secretary was in Beijing, they completed a memorandum of understanding on how they would carry out some of those inspections and the procedures that would follow, applicable to both governments as they examine the question of prison labor, and I haven't recently checked in on what steps they've taken since then. It's a good question, though, and I'll talk to some folks and see if I can get more on that.
Q Mike, a new subject --
Q One more on China?
MR. McCURRY: Sure.
Q Related to what Jim just asked, the Freedom of Immigration question, as I remember from the Secretary's trip, there were only about eight or nine names on the list that was out --
MR. McCURRY: Yes, if that many. It might have been less than a half a dozen in fact.
Q Can you say whether all of those cases have now been dealt with?
MR. McCURRY: I can't say whether all of them have been or not. Obviously, Yu Haocheng was one of those pending cases, and he was issued a passport that permits him to leave China to become a visiting scholar at Columbia University. That occurred earlier this week.
I think there are some outstanding cases that do remain, but we would continue to address these and part of this dialogue that I suggest that we continue to have with China on these issues
Q Could you take the question, Mike, as to whether - -
MR. McCURRY: To find out a status on each of those?
MR. McCURRY: I will. That's actually a good question. I'll see if I can get anything more on that.
Q On Bosnia: The Senate is debating whether or not to have the unilateral lifting of the arms embargo. How will its action or the debate itself impact the Secretary's upcoming Foreign Ministers meeting in Geneva?
MR. McCURRY: It will be taken note of one way or another, I'm sure. The Senate is in the process of debating that resolution, or that amendment, I believe it is, right now. I'm a little reluctant to comment prior to any vote. I think they do expect a vote, if I'm not mistaken, later today.
But the signal sent by the United States Congress will be one that will be received not only by the parties in Bosnia but by those who are participating in the effort in Geneva to keep a political settlement on track.
Q Is that a signal you're happy to have sent?
MR. McCURRY: It will be sent. I think the Administration's views on a unilateral lifting of the arms embargo are pretty well known, and it is problematic.
I think our general view on the problems associated with the arms embargo itself and why it has been unnecessarily a negative factor in the tragedy of Bosnia, largely defined, is something that's also well known and dates back to efforts we've made for over a year to address that.
Q Other governments argue that by continuing to raise the question of the arms embargo, we only encourage the Bosnians to hold out longer. At this point, where there's a lot of pressure, or at least a lot of governments want to try to settle this conflict, is that maybe a signal that we should tone down a little bit or are we --
MR. McCURRY: You're asking me about signals being sent by the United States Congress which, as an Executive Branch employee, I really don't have a lot of control over. But for those of you who follow the debate in the Senate, that argument has, in fact, been made by some Senators who have spoken in opposition to the Dole Amendment. So I think that possibility, as a factor, is something that the Senators themselves have been considering as they debate this amendment.
Q There are a lot of credible reports that the Bosnian Government is now getting a lot of arms from various benefactors and that it sort of makes a lot of this thing moot. Does the U.S. Government believe that the Bosnian Government is better equipped than it was a few months ago?
MR. McCURRY: I'm not in a position to judge whether they are better equipped or less well equipped. The Bosnian Government indicated at the time of the Bosnian Serb siege of Gorazde that one reason why their defensive perimeter collapsed around Gorazde is that they lacked ammunition.
I'm not providing any independent commentary on whether that might be true or not other than to note the fact. But you're probably correct in suggesting that there have been efforts to supply arms to the Bosnians. By whom, how many, that sort thing -- we've got very sketchy information about.
Q Has the United States agreed to support a rescheduling of Algeria's debt? Juppe, in a breakfast today, said that this is one of the issues he discussed yesterday with the Secretary and that the United States had agreed to go along.
MR. McCURRY: I saw that issue on the list of things that were likely to be discussed by the Secretary. I don't know if, in fact, they did discuss it. I wouldn't dispute Foreign Minister Juppe's suggestion that they did discuss that. I think the Secretary did intend to discuss the overall situation in Algeria, not necessarily just the questions related to debt but also the nature of the political opposition there and finding those who might be in opposition to terrorism.
I would have to check and see if they had any specific discussion on that. I don't know that they did.
Q On another subject. Does the State Department have any current assessment of how the process of transition to Palestinian self-government is going?
MR. McCURRY: It's in its very early stages, Jim. It's hard to provide any definitive assessment there. The encouraging thing is that there is a very close working relationship now on the ground between Israeli authorities and the emerging Palestinian authorities to address some of the obvious problems that will arise as they implement the declaration.
We've seen some evidence that things are not going entirely smoothly. Frankly, no one expected that they would go entirely smoothly. But I think it would be far too early to say that there's any definitive judgment on how things are going.
It's important for the world community, on its behalf, to do everything it can to nurture and support the transition that's taking place. That's what we have done.
There's work on the refugee issue, for example, underway in Cairo today as part of the multilateral discussions. There have been continuing efforts on our part to provide some of the funding necessary so that the Palestinians can absorb their new responsibilities and carry them out effectively. We continue to work at that level.
But I think it will be some time before we know how successful the transition is. The important thing is to keep it moving forward and to do what we can as supporters of the peace process to ensure that it's a smooth and orderly transition.
Q One of the problems, apparently, is that the PLO doesn't have the cash to pay its uniformed police. Is that anything that the United States could or would help out with?
MR. McCURRY: It is something that we are doing something about. We are actually trying to speed up the arrival of some of the money that can actually help with that transition. I know at the signing ceremony in Cairo, Secretary Christopher told Chairman Arafat that the United States would provide $5 million quickly for some of the start-up costs associated with establishing the Palestinian police force. They can use that for such things as transportation of police units to Gaza and Jericho from outside the area; salaries; temporary lodging; even fuel for some of the vehicles.
We've also, I think, as some of you know who were on the trip, we've independently provided some excess defense equipment in the form of vehicles -- utility vehicles -- that are being used by the police force on the ground. That's just one part of our overall contribution.
We've got a large dollar commitment, but that's the type of money that we want to see flow quickly to the Palestinians so that they an use it for the cost that they are now absorbing as they begin to get into the business of administering their own affairs.
It's part of the problem, as I suggested yesterday. We just had the signing of the implementation agreement in Cairo. They're still finalizing some of the structures necessary for us to effectively provide funding. We've encouraged the Palestinians on numerous occasions to finalize the arrangements for a lot of their institutions on the ground so that international aid can be more effective and can go into the types of programs and projects that are envisioned by the Declaration of Principles itself.
Q Thank you.
MR. McCURRY: You're welcome.
(Press briefing concluded at 1:07 p.m.)
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