US DEPARTMENT OF STATE DAILY PRESS BRIEFING MAY 25, 1994 U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE DAILY PRESS BRIEFING I N D E X Wednesday, May 25, 1994 Briefer: Michael McCurry ANNOUNCEMENT Introduction of Press Office Intern Erik Bringard 1 Deputy Secretary to Visit Latin American Countries/Attend OAS General Assembly ......... 1-4,8-9 Information on Department Available by FAX ...... 2-3 HAITI Deputy Secretary to Visit Latin American Countries ..................................... 1-4,8-9 List of Persons Covered by Sanctions ............ 4-6 UN Sanctions/Shipping ........................... 6-9 William Gray to Visit Dominican Republic ........ 7,9 Boatpeople/Implementing US Policy/Discussions re: Land-Based Processing Centers ................. 10-12 Congressional Resolution re: US Military Action . 10-13 NORTH KOREA Meeting in New York with Ambassador Gallucci .... 14 Conditions for Third Round of Talks with US ..... 13-14 ALBANIA Arrest of American/Greek-Albanians for Spying ... 14,18 RWANDA UN Envoy's Statement on Prospects for Ceasefire . 15 YEMEN US Efforts to Resolve Conflict .................. 15 ISRAEL Foreign Minister's Meeting with Secretary/Agenda 16 Implementation of Declaration of Principles ..... 16-17 BOSNIA Negotiations Among Parties on 51/49 Percent Plan 18-19 Meeting of Contact Group in France .............. 19-20
DEPARTMENT OF STATE DAILY PRESS BRIEFING
WEDNESDAY, MAY 25, 1994, 1:14 P. M. (ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED)
MR. McCURRY: Good afternoon, everybody. I'd like to start with an introduction today. We're delighted to introduce to you Erik Bringard. Erik, why don't you stand up and make yourself known. Erik is the new summer intern in the Press Office; a native of California, born in Santa Monica and raised in Santa Barbara, and he is a 1992 graduate of UVA. He was a major in English literature, so he might be of some service to some of you writers here.
Erik, after he graduated, spent a lot of time traveling around the world, and I note from the description of his travels, he's probably been to more foreign capitals than Secretary Christopher, although under somewhat less remarkable circumstances.
But, Erik, we welcome you here, and I'm sure as you get to know him, you'll be working with him during the summer. Thanks a lot.
Second, Deputy Secretary Talbott is going to make a trip to Latin America. As some of you know, he'll travel to El Salvador, Jamaica, Venezuela and Brazil, leaving May 31 and returning June 7. He'll head a ten-member U.S. Presidential delegation to the inauguration of President-elect Armando Calderon Sol of El Salvador and to the 24th OAS General Assembly in Brazil.
During the trip, Deputy Secretary Talbott will consult with senior officials in each country and at the OAS General Assembly on bilateral, regional and international issues. These will include discussions of our joint efforts to restore democracy in Haiti, focusing on specific actions which should be taken. He will also discuss plans for the December Summit of the Americas in Miami and the growing importance of the OAS in the Inter-American system.
In addition, Deputy Secretary Talbott will be accompanied on the trip to Latin America and the Caribbean by Under Secretary for Economic and Business Affairs Joan Spero; U.S. Permanent Representative to the OAS, Ambassador Harriet Babbitt; and Assistant Secretary of State for Inter-American Affairs Alexander Watson.
My last announcement: a new roadstop on the information superhighway. Now we have available for you fax on demand at the Bureau of Public Affairs at the State Department. If you dial the following number -- 202-736-7720 -- on any given day, you can get a wide assortment of choices, voice- activated. I've got the list here, so you can see how extensive it is, and it ranges from everything -- it includes major speeches by the Secretary, the Deputy Secretary, other senior Department officials, recent press releases and taken questions, a full transcript of the always illuminating Daily Department Briefing here at the State Department, Background Notes and fact sheets. Even selected bios of key Departmental officials.
I know you will all applaud instantly this major breakthrough in technology which we are bringing to you.
MR. McCURRY: You pay for the call, however.
Q What's the number?
MR. McCURRY: The number again is 202-736-7720.
Q So if you key in Haiti, what does it show you? Our policy remains the same? (Laughter)
MR. McCURRY: You get --
Q Or is it under review?
MR. McCURRY: All of the wide range of gibberish that comes from this podium on a daily basis, you can then have sent to you not only courtesy of C-Span -- we always appreciate the presence of C-Span cameras here so you can watch it -- you can now actually read these words on your very own fax machine at home. A technological marvel.
Q Are we going to have a tape recorder on the podium in the future? Do you foresee that?
MR. McCURRY: I actually foresee the day in which we frankly will no longer have to do a briefing here at the State Department, because you can just dial the number. We'll put a little sign up here with the number. You can dial it, and we'll just send you in writing all the things that I would otherwise say.
Q No charge other than the number and fax paper, right?
MR. McCURRY: That's right. Fax paper and the charge of the telephone call itself. You bear the cost and the risk, depending on the length, and sometimes you know we can be very lengthy.
Q You're not a 900 number, so, if it's a local call, it's a local call, right?
MR. McCURRY: We're not a 900 number. Not nearly as interesting as that, no. (Laughter)
Q Do you have a contract with Gennifer Flowers (inaudible).
Q If I wanted to know whether the subject of Haitian processing in terms of asylum requests, do I dial that number or do we ask you now?
MR. McCURRY: No, no. You dial. You dial the number. (Laughter) You dial the number. What you would get in that case -- I'm looking for it here. What you get is a voice prompt, and you can go to an index that will give you a listing of what the most recent offerings are. You would probably in that case get -- if you want the latest briefing in which that subject came up or the most recent congressional testimony by a Departmental official on that subject, you'd probably have to have some sense that Secretary so-and-so or Under Secretary so-and-so addressed that issue on this given day, and what's the day, and what's the right prompt code for the testimony I'm looking for.
Q You said that you kind of group it around, you know, policy stances. Dial 1 for (inaudible) -- (laughter).
MR. McCURRY: Let's play with the system for a while. Those of you who use it, we'll welcome any suggestions you have, if you find any difficulty in using it. And I think it frankly will be useful to some people who are looking for the exact phrasing of something that occurred in the past. If you're using it and you see that we could improve the way we present it, let us know, and we'll be happy to make changes accordingly.
Q Back on Secretary Talbott's trip, I see he's going to Jamaica. Will the question of processing of Haitians be raised there?
MR. McCURRY: I think the full range of our policy regarding Haiti will be raised. I wouldn't be surprised if that subject does come up as well.
Q What can you tell us that's new on that subject?
MR. McCURRY: On the general subject of where we are on that?
MR. McCURRY: I don't have a lot new on it, to be candid about it. I've got a couple things. There's one issue I want to address, because it's come up a couple of times. I think it came up in context of Mr. Robinson's remarks recently, and that's the issue of adding certain prominent Haitian families to the list of those who are affected by the visas and assets freeze sanctions. There are a couple of things I want to say about that.
First, the U.S. Executive Order and Presidential Proclamation that President Clinton signed on May 8 describes the categories of people who are affected by these sanctions. These are our implementation of sanctions as ordered by the United Nations.
The three categories -- and you'll see in a minute why I think it's important to remember the categories -- they are first all officers of the Haitian military, including the police and their immediate families; the major participants in the 1991 coup in Haiti; and the illegal governments that have developed since the coup and the immediate families of participants in those governments; and, three, those employed by or acting on behalf of the Haitian military and their immediate families.
That third category -- keep in mind, as I go through the following -- it's relatively easy, as you can imagine, to establish the identity of the people in the first two categories -- they're known people -- and those who have been added to the list maintained by the Treasury Department thus far has fallen into those categories.
But under our law and under our legal system, to place people in that third category on this list requires more than just merely a suspicion that they are acting on behalf of the military and their immediate families. And we require more than that -- the Treasury Department requires more than that to be officially listed and to be identified as a targeted individual under the sanctions regime.
That's not to say we're (inaudible) going to do that. And contrary to some press reports, Ambassador Swing, among others, has strongly recommended that renewed efforts be made to determine whether we do have sufficient information to warrant placing some names of certain businessmen on that list.
The list is now under review. It is being expanded as we gather more information. We continue to work with the Treasury Department to define criteria for putting business executives who fall into the category of supporting the regime onto the assets freeze list. The number of people now targeted on that list exceeds 600, and the names could include members of the business community as information on their activities accumulates.
So I do want to make clear that contrary to some press accounts, there is not any effort on the part of the United States Government to restrict the application of these sanctions to individuals who we believe are in a position to be influential on the Haitian military and on General Cedras, among others, to encourage their departure as required by the world community.
Q Will there be any extension given to members of the business community who may have been under the employ of the United States at one time or another?
MR. McCURRY: The criteria, as they are developed by the Treasury Department in consultation with us, will determine whether they fit -- as I identified those three criteria -- whether they fit and whether they are properly under U.S. law included under the sanctions regime. I don't want to specify the full range of things, but I'm not aware of anything that would restrict individuals of that nature from being considered for application.
Q Mike, in that third category of individuals employed by or acting on behalf of the Haitian military, I mean, some people would argue that the Haitian military is employed by or acting on behalf of these wealthy families. So they're not going to fit into that category too well.
MR. McCURRY: That may be a little tautological, but I think that you could easily identify those prominent family members who are supportive of the Haitian military authority and consider them for targeting on the assets freeze list.
Q I agree you could easily identify them, but they wouldn't fall into the category of "employed by or acting on behalf of," probably.
MR. McCURRY: Acting on behalf of is a subjective criteria.
Q Mike, was that number 600 --
MR. McCURRY: It's a subject criteria, Chris, but one that does require legal substantiation, which is part of the issue.
Q The number 600 applies to Category III or for the entire group?
MR. McCURRY: I think that's the entire group. That would be the number of targeted individuals in which they can examine the cases on a case-by-case basis and look at the activities of an individual and then substantiate to the satisfaction of our law that it's an individual that can properly be placed on the list.
Q Have visas been -- U.S. visas been withdrawn from these individuals and their families? Have they been placed on U.S. watch lists?
MR. McCURRY: The ones that we are examining now to see whether they should be included? I don't believe so, but there have been other named individuals who are included under that.
Q So what about Cedras' wife, for instance, who's been reported doing some of her shopping in Miami?
MR. McCURRY: I don't think I've ever taken that question. There have been these persistent, as far as we know, rumors that General Cedras' wife shows up in Miami from time to time to shop. We have no information available to us that indicates that's true. The only way that I know of and that I've been told that it would be possible for her to make such a trip would be if she were traveling under fraudulent documentation. But we don't have any information available to us that indicates that that is true.
Q Mike, on a wider point, in the discussion of the effectiveness of the sanctions, you and others, I think, distinguish between the seaborne embargo, on the one hand, and the border with the Dominican Republic on the other.
You have argued that the flotilla of ships offshore, the seaborne embargo at least has been proven fairly effective. But information is coming to light that several ships have succeeded in docking and unloading. Do you have anything to say about that?
MR. McCURRY: I think that we have to make that maritime interception, interdiction force more effective. I think you're right. Broadly speaking, ships have been diverted. I think I covered some of the numbers. I know yesterday at the briefing over at the Pentagon, they had all the latest numbers, but it was in the range of 1000 ships that had been diverted. Less than that that had actually been interdicted, but more than a thousand had been diverted as a result of the enforcement of sanctions.
We do have reports, and we have seen some of them today, of ships that have made it through, and I described an incident yesterday in which we saw a ship that clearly ran the blockade and was able to port. For many different reasons, we believe you have to take steps to enhance the enforcement of that maritime interdiction force, and over at the Pentagon yesterday I believe they described some of what they're doing related to certain types of vessels that they're now deploying in the theater to try to accomplish that.
But I would acknowledge that there's more to be done to make that more effective, and in that respect the other side of your question which has to do with material coming through the Dominican Republic/Haitian border, I think I'd like to note that Bill Gray, who is the President's and the Secretary's Special Adviser on Haiti will be down in the Dominican Republic tonight to meet with President Balaguer, to talk about ways in which we can enhance sanctions enforcement along that border.
Q Maybe the ports have only limited capacity, but the stories suggest that they have all the business they can handle now -- the ships that are getting through. It doesn't seem to be --
MR. McCURRY: The story said that it was a small, under- used port facility, and it's gotten more business than it's had in the past. I don't quantitatively know what that means. But, as I just said, I don't deny that we need to improve the enforcement and restrict all the contraband material that might try to elude the sanctions enforcement effort and see how we can make the sanctions enforcement effective.
Q Mike, most newspapers in the country and television outlets have shown in the last few days pictures of small boats with containers full of gasoline being unloaded on every beach in the country. Does the maritime interdiction force have the authority to go within territorial waters of the Dominican Republic and Haiti to deal with that sort of coastal traffic, or is it simply ships on the high seas?
MR. McCURRY: I believe they do have the authority to enter territorial waters. That's one reason, among many, why I think we are now deploying shallow-draft vessels that can actually do more patrolling along the coastline. Some of these boats, as you know, as I described yesterday, hug the coastline as they look for a place to port, and we do think that we need to find better ways of monitoring that type of maritime traffic.
Q Does the U.S. have any assessment, for instance, of the amount of fuel that the military has stockpiled in Haiti? If, for instance, the embargo is to be completely effective tomorrow, how long could they continue?
MR. McCURRY: Howard, I have seen information like that in the past. I don't have anything that reflects that today, but I do know they've made assessments of that in the past, and, if there's a way of getting that, that I can share here, I'll do that.
Q Mike, when you're describing Strobe Talbott's trip, you said that he would be focusing on -- in the discussion about Haiti, he would be focusing on specific actions which these countries should take. What actions are you talking about?
MR. McCURRY: Specific things that we would see with governments in the region that can be pursued to make the sanctions enforcement effort more effective. Then, as you know, we have had some discussions in the region, and within the OAS -- and I think since he'll be attending the OAS meeting, there will be an opportunity for those types of discussions with other governments related to our policies on interdiction and on Haitian migrants, and I think he'll want to discuss some very specific points on that.
I don't want to get into the substance of the dialogue he's going to have in advance of his trip, but those are points that are suggested, given what we've been saying about the new policy that we're implementing.
Q What about use of force?
MR. McCURRY: Those governments are well aware, given the President's own comments publicly, about our view on the use of force, and I don't know that there's anything new
beyond what the President has said on that already that the Deputy Secretary would share. What we're pursuing now is both the diplomatic effort and a tightened sanctions enforcement regime designed to build pressure on the Haitian military to force them to live up to the agreements they've made in the past.
Q The visit by Gray to Santo Domingo, is this of a confrontational nature? Is he going armed with a letter from the President? They have been systematically ignoring the embargo for seven months or whenever it was reimposed.
MR. McCURRY: George, they don't take that attitude. They take quite the contrary attitude. They say that they are willing to explore steps to increase and enhance the sanctions enforcement, and they certainly are willing to discuss the assessment that the U.N. sanctions team made when they were there visiting -- you know, you've heard me describe that the last several days. This is the team that went down to review the status of sanctions enforcement. They're willing to discuss some of the preliminary results of that assessment, which I think is going to be delivered in the United Nations very shortly.
So they're willing to engage on that issue. I don't know that I'd describe it as a meeting which starts from the premise that there's no useful or productive dialogue that can occur.
Q Has there been a determination as to who is actually president of that country?
MR. McCURRY: The term of office of the current president, President Balaguer, runs through, I believe it's September, and they've had an election and there is a controversy surrounding that election that frankly we are also having dialogue with the Dominican Republic about. But that's not related to the constitutional duties of the current government, and the duties of the current government to enforce the U.N. Security Council resolution as required of any member nation of the United Nations.
Q Mike, in your statement a second ago that U.S. policy is now a diplomatic effort and the sanctions enforcement effort, did you mean to leave that open to the interpretation that the military threat has now been dropped?
MR. McCURRY: No. You know what the President has said on that, and that stands.
Q Do you have anything more on this possible use of the Turks and Caicos Islands as a land-based place for processing?
MR. McCURRY: They have had over the course of the last several days some dialogue with the United Kingdom and the TCI, as someone insists on calling it, and there have been actually some good -- we've advanced a proposal for them on things that we would like to see happen. They have that under active consideration. I don't think there's anything beyond that to report at this point.
Q Do you have anything on the legislation approved by the House yesterday or last night concerning possible use of this island off the Haitian coast for reprocessing?
MR. McCURRY: I don't, George. I'm sorry, that one I didn't know about. I know there was a Goss amendment. That was a sense of Congress resolution about the use of force on the mainland.
Q I think there were other aspects of it as well.
MR. McCURRY: If you can bear with me a second. Let me look through what I've got.
No. Most of what I had was the Administration's views on the amendment itself as it related to certain restrictions the amendment would have put on the President's prerogatives concerning use of force in Haiti. I didn't see it in reference to that, but I can look into that for you.
Q What are your thoughts on restrictions on the use of force?
MR. McCURRY: Let's run through first, for those of you who didn't follow the debate in the House on the DoD authorization bill, what they voted for. They voted to support a non-binding resolution expressing the sense of Congress that the United States should not undertake any military action against the mainland of Haiti unless the President first certifies to Congress that a clear and present danger to citizens of the United States or United States' interests requires such action.
The resolution expressed the sense of Congress that the United States should work within the OAS and the United Nations to establish a temporary safe -- oh, here it is -- to establish a temporary safe haven on the Haitian island of Isle de Gonave.
Q Something like that.
MR. McCURRY: Something like that. Close enough? While the resolution is non-binding, the Administration opposed it as unnecessary and potentially counterproductive. The President would not contemplate the use of armed forces of the United States of America unless he determined that a danger to United States' citizens did exist or a danger to United States' interest required such use of force. Creating the perception on the part of the Haitian military of a restriction on the President's authority to use force risks a dangerous miscalculation on their part, considering the United States' resolve.
This is among many reasons why the Administration forcefully opposed the amendment. Among other things, on the question of reprocessing, we are -- I think as you know, just to cover what we said in the past, we are working to refine the processing process -- the application process that individual Haitian migrants would use when they went to a center.
The other thing I would note is we have worked with the U.N. High Commissioner on Refugees to see if we can't perfect and fine tune some of the procedures that would be in place to address the problem of Haitian migrants. So I think a lot of these things in the context of our dialogue with the UNHCR we are already pursuing, and in the case of restrictions on the use of force, there are things there that we see as potentially damaging to the prerogatives of the President and the ability to carry out an effective policy as it relates to Haiti. So we did oppose the amendment.
Q I listened to some of that debate in the House, and a number of Congressmen and people like Randall Robinson, and so on -- what they're after is a safe haven, more than just a land-based reprocessing center, but a place that Haitians who do not want to be in Haiti can stay, short of coming to the United States, until conditions change. Is that something that you are looking to provide?
MR. McCURRY: It has been our concern that the creation of a so-called safe haven might encourage people to use very unsafe means of migration to try to arrive at a safe haven. Our preference, clearly from the President's policy, is to establish a procedure that can be used effectively and legally by those who wish to migrate from Haiti to explore the possibilities under U.S. law for migration, either by doing so within the processing centers that are established in Haiti or to do it in one of the other platforms offshore or in a third country as you're familiar with.
So we are exploring those possibilities. That is certainly preferable, we think, because it provides an orderly way that you can actually consider effectively and fairly the case that an individual would make that there's a well-founded fear of persecution.
Q Mike, you say that you don't -- the Administration doesn't want to limit the President's ability to use force in this case, and yet on Bosnia President Clinton consistently used Congress as his foil to quash any -- certain types of military action. How do you explain the double-standard?
MR. McCURRY: I don't understand the question. What is it?
Q It appears the Administration uses Congress conveniently when it either wants to consider military force --
MR. McCURRY: Oh, that we could.
Q -- or not. I mean, in this case you're saying Congress would be -- to rely on Congress' approval would be limiting the President's authority, whereas in Bosnia you relied on Congress for its approval for certain kinds of military action.
MR. McCURRY: The co-equal branch expresses itself in foreign policy as it sees fit, in ways in which we sometimes object, in ways that we sometimes applaud. Each and every case is different. It depends on our judgment and our policy as we assess the individual case there. I think in the case of Congress we had a full debate on the issue of Bosnia as it relates to the arms embargo, under consideration of the same DoD authorization bill last night, and we opposed an amendment for consideration there too.
On use of force, that goes to the heart of deep constitutional questions in which, frankly, there is a dispute between the Executive and Legislative Branches and has been a dispute over the course of several Administrations. We have been working to address that dispute and to resolve it in a way that preserves the President's constitutional prerogatives but also acknowledges the reality that in our system, close consultation with Congress and bipartisan agreement is the best way to proceed, especially when the Commander-in-Chief is placing the lives of young Americans in harm's way.
Q New subject. Do you have a readout on Mr. Gallucci --
MR. McCURRY: That's good; that was a great answer. I bored you right out of that subject, didn't I?
Q Do you have a readout on Mr. Gallucci's talks yesterday in the U.N., and is the U.S. ready to announce a third round of talks with the North Koreans?
MR. McCURRY: The answer is no on announcing the third round, and on Gallucci -- Ambassador Gallucci met yesterday in New York with South Korean and Japanese officials to discuss the North Korean issue in efforts to resolve it. He had what are described as very productive meetings. There was broad agreement yesterday on the approach to the issue, that we hope will resolve the issue, which is the diplomatic path we are pursuing. There was also agreement that frankly if certain things do not work on the diplomatic track, that Security Council action, if necessary, should be pursued.
Assistant Secretary Gallucci, by the way, also briefed members of the U.N. Security Council on the issue to provide our thinking on the issue itself.
Q Have we talked to the Chinese specifically in relation to next steps, and what is their response?
MR. McCURRY: We have been in close contact with them, not during Ambassador Gallucci's trip yesterday, but we have had contact recently with them on that issue, and there's no change in the views as I've described them previously.
Q Do certain things have to work or else you'll go to the Security Council?
MR. McCURRY: You have to maintain the continuity of safeguards; that you have to ensure that there has been no diversion of nuclear material, and that especially during this period in which the DPRK is refueling its five megawatt reactor, there can't be any steps taken that preclude future analysis of the spent fuel rods. Those conditions on the resumption of a high level round of dialogue are known to the DPRK and are presumably under consideration.
Q Do you know how talks are going with the DPRK and the IAEA?
MR. McCURRY: I don't know. As of right now they are supposed to be talking, but I do not have a report available from the IAEA on the outcome of those discussions.
Q What is the United States position if the IAEA and North Korea do not reach any agreement, will the third round talks not take place?
MR. McCURRY: Well, not necessarily. We will proceed to the third round. Again, going through it again, the continuity of safeguards has to be maintained. That requires, in effect, certain agreements between the IAEA and the DPRK automatically. There must be no diversion of nuclear material and there must be no impediment that precludes future, what is called "non-destructive" analysis of some of the material from the reactor.
Those are elements of our willingness to participate in a third round of high level talks.
Q In your yesterday's statement for the Greek- Albanian relations, you mentioned, inter alia, that a U.S. citizen was involved in the incident of April 10 in the Albanian territory. Could you please, for the record, identify his full name, personal and professional data?
MR. McCURRY: I am precluded from doing so by Privacy Act considerations. I cannot. I can say that we have had consular contact with this individual. If that individual signs a waiver form, we could then provide his name and make his identity known. But I am restricted by U.S. law from doing so.
Q And also, could you please confirm the dispatch from Athens that the Greek Ambassador today protested to the U.S. Government for your yesterday's statements on the Greek- Albanian relations? And also, may we know your response to this protest?
MR. McCURRY: If there was offense taken to what I said here yesterday, I was not aware of that. I would have to find out further whether there's been an official protest by the government. I can look into that.
Q On Rwanda, Mr. Boutros Ghali said at the U.N. today that the international community has totally failed in this situation, and he's described what's happening there has genocide. Has the Administration yet come to any decision on whether it can be described as genocide?
MR. McCURRY: I'll have to confess, I don't know the answer to that. I know that the issue was under very active consideration. I think there was a strong disposition within the Department here to view what has happened there; certainly, constituting acts of genocide that have occurred. I would have to go back and see where that is -- the determination process within the government. We maybe have already instructed various U.S. diplomats participating in international gatherings to take that view. But I'll get an answer to that.
On the first point, I'm not aware of the remarks you're citing from Boutros Ghali. I don't know how that adds up with another piece of information.
His envoy, Mr. Riza, has been in Kigali for meetings today and has reported in some news accounts I've seen, saying some hopeful things about the prospect for a cease- fire in Rwanda. I'll go back and look at the Secretary General's remarks and see if we have any reaction.
Q Mike, on Yemen, is the United States active in diplomacy at all to try and bring the fighting there to an end? Can you give us any kind of update information?
MR. McCURRY: Our diplomacy has been active both in the region and through the presence of Assistant Secretary Pelletreau who was there not long ago and through continued discussions that we've had here.
We continue to be in contact with Northern and Southern leaders urging an immediate cessation of hostilities and a resumption of political dialogue. We've also been in contact with Arab nations in the region who are working to achieve some type of peaceful solution. I believe both the Arab League and the Gulf Cooperation Council have been intensely involved.
There's not much progress that you can report on the efforts to date, clearly. The fighting has continued and there does seem to be -- there have been some reports of northern forces making certain gains. There have been some rocket attacks on Sana'a and Aden today. But there's not been much progress in the effort to bring peace.
Q Mike, have you a readout on the meeting between Christopher and Peres?
MR. McCURRY: A brief one. Frankly, they covered in their photo opportunity, when they were upstairs, a large part of what they actually did in the meeting. But I am told that they had an extensive review of the state of play on all four of the tracks of the Middle East peace process. They reviewed the implementation of the Gaza-Jericho agreement; they discussed some of the multilateral negotiations.
I think as some of you know, Foreign Minister Peres has been especially prominent, within the Government of Israel, of guiding their work on the multilateral tracks.
The Secretary met with the Foreign Minister for about 45/50 minutes, I think. And then Foreign Minister Peres was going to a working lunch with Under Secretary Tarnoff and some others. They were going to cover, among other subjects, a range of global issues -- democratization efforts around the world, U.N. peacekeeping, and some aspects of the new U.S. criteria and participation in U.N. peacekeeping, non- proliferation. They're also going to discuss East Asia as a region and some efforts that we both have in common as we pursue interests in east Asia.
Q Do the non-proliferation discussions relate to east Asia in any way?
MR. McCURRY: It would be hard to imagine that they wouldn't.
Q Can you say how?
MR. McCURRY: No.
Q The Secretary indicated generally what he thought of statements recently made by Chairman Arafat. Again, what is the U.S. position on the decree that post-'67 laws or regulations no longer apply?
MR. McCURRY: Several things. The view of the United States is that the parties themselves in the Gaza-Jericho agreement came to some understandings about the applicability of law and how to resolve questions exactly like the ones that are posed by your question.
The important thing at this juncture, in our view, is that the parties need to talk to each other and not surprise each other when it comes to implementation of agreements on the ground. They need to keep the commitments that they have made to each other and they need to use the devices that they have established. For example, the consultative mechanism that is within the Gaza-Jericho agreement itself to resolve any questions or ambiguities that arise.
But, again, the important thing is for the parties to stay in dialogue. What we've urged upon them throughout this whole process is that they have made an agreement -- they have made a historic agreement -- and they will continue to make history as they implement the agreement.
What they need to do in order to do that is to continue the very close dialogue that has helped produce the achievements that they've reached today.
Q Is the statement by Arafat, does that fall into the category of unwelcome surprise?
MR. McCURRY: I'm sure the Government of Israel would characterize it as that. I don't think we would dispute that characterization.
Q Michael, earlier in the morning the Foreign Minister said that Syria has no desire to have Israelis open embassies in Damascus, which directly contradicts what President Clinton said after his meeting with Assad. Have negotiations with Syria gone backwards since the President --
MR. McCURRY: I'm sorry, Sid, I'm not familiar with what he said on that. I'd want to look at that pretty carefully.
Q Well, President Clinton, after he met in Geneva with --
MR. McCURRY: No, no, no, no. I know what President Clinton said. I'm not familiar with the remarks you're attributing to Foreign Minister Peres.
Q At the Middle East inside breakfast. He said very clearly that Syria was not interested in having Israeli embassies in Damascus.
MR. McCURRY: That Israel is not interested in --
Q Syria. That despite what President Clinton said, after he met in Geneva, that now, or maybe the whole time, Syria is not interested in having Israeli embassies in Damascus.
MR. McCURRY: That is a remark that goes to the substance of the dialogue that is occurring now between the United States and Syria. I would just prefer not to get into the substance of their dialogue. We've made the reasons for that very clear.
The Secretary has said that his own role as a mediator in the process can't be effective if we comment on the positions the parties are taking themselves.
Q According to reliable sources, a meeting is taking place -- before yesterday -- here at the State Department between the Turkish Ambassador, Mr. Kandemer, and Assistant Secretary, Mr. Oxman, regarding the current situation in southeast Turkey. May we know exactly the context of their discussions since both Oxman and Kandemer, according to the sources, criticized the Greek Government for unknown reasons?
MR. McCURRY: To know exactly the content of that meeting?
MR. McCURRY: I would have to do a lot more checking. So I will do some checking and see what I can find.
Q The Turkish Ambassador attributed a lot to Mr. Oxman who has published already in the Turkish press. Since both criticized the Government of Greece, I would like to know exactly what was the reason?
MR. McCURRY: Let me look into that.
Q And also, Mike, since -- a follow-up on the previous discussion. Since a U.S. citizen participated in an act of terrorism in Albania, I wonder why his privacy should be protected by the U.S. Government?
MR. McCURRY: You're assuming that an allegation has been proven, and I don't think that's a warranted assumption.
Q Mike, I'm sure you've noticed it's been a while since we've done Bosnia. I wanted to ask whether, specifically, you had anything to say about the remarks attributed to Izetbegovic in the Post this morning regarding his desire for some U.S. assurances before he'll sign on to a 51/49 deal?
And then, secondly, whether you have anything to say about the apparent continued Serb defiance of the exclusion zones around both Sarajevo and Gorazda?
MR. McCURRY: Let me take the President's comments first. We have had a very important and we feel productive dialogue with President Izetbegovic and others within the Bosnian Government on all the subjects raised in his interview; specifically, the question of a 51/49 percent division as part of an overall settlement for the conflict in Bosnia and, specifically, the nature of the U.S. role in helping to implement that agreement.
I am fairly confident that the President is aware of our views. I'm fairly confident the American people are aware of what the President has said about our participation and about our commitments.
If the parties can reach this agreement -- which we are working very, very hard to help them try to reach -- if they can reach that agreement and if they are implementing in good faith, we will be there to help them. I think they know that, and they know that in pretty uncertain terms from the presentations they've had from the President, from the Secretary, and from others.
On the second part of your question, the on-going conflict in and around both Sarajevo and Gorazde, in which it's clear that in some cases both parties are testing the enforcement of the exclusion zone and the will of both UNPROFOR and NATO, is something that we have repeatedly addressed here. I don't know that there is anything new about it. But it is, as we have said many times before, a source of very great concern to us when you see anyone attempting to try to play games in and around the exclusion zone, as it's been defined.
I would refer you to UNPROFOR, which regularly comments on when and how they call for NATO's help in enforcing those exclusion zones. But the United States role, as you're well aware, is to provide the help through NATO and making sure that those exclusion zones are honored. We do that in cooperation with the United Nations. The United Nations, on several occasions, recently has made judgments about conditions on the ground, what they see happening on the ground, and they respond accordingly.
Q Have you had any sort of report -- a status report -- on these talks that were supposed to be taking place today outside of Geneva?
MR. McCURRY: Contact Group? Yes. The Contact Group is now meeting with the parties in Tailloires, France. I don't have any full readout on the discussions themselves. I can say, frankly, there was expected out of this meeting only an opportunity for both sides to explore where they are further discussions that would be needed, but I don't have a full readout on the meetings.
I think, if I'm not mistaken, they are going to continue tomorrow.
Q I was just going to ask you, 12 days ago, the Contact Group said in two weeks the parties should cease fighting for four months. Any hope that two days hence that that deadline is going to be met?
MR. McCURRY: There's hope.
MR. McCURRY: I would describe it as great hope.
MR. McCURRY: Not much evidence.
Q Thank you.
(Press briefing concluded at 1:56 p.m.)
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