US DEPARTMENT OF STATE DAILY PRESS BRIEFING JUNE 1, 1994 U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE DAILY PRESS BRIEFING I N D E X Wednesday, June 1, 1994 Briefer: Christine Shelly ANNOUNCEMENTS Press Briefing Schedule During Secretary's Trip . 1 Introduction of Intern Stephanie Jackson ........ 1 HAITI Boatpeople/Processing for Asylum/Jamaica ........ 1-3,6 -- Role of UNHCR ............................... 2-3 Dominican Republic/Sanctions Enforcement/Election 13-15 US Humanitarian Aid/Freeze on US Funds in Haiti . 15-16 CUBA Citizens Seek Asylum at Belgian Embassy ......... 3-4 -- US Immigration Policy ....................... 4 CAMBODIA Efforts at Ceasefire ............................ 4-5 THAILAND US Concerns re: Support for Khmer Rouge ........ 5-6 NARCOTICS US Suspension of Intelligence Sharing in Peru/ Colombia/US Policy Review ..................... 6-8 NORTH KOREA Defueling Reactor ............................... 8,11-13 UN Discussions on Sanctions/UN Statement ........ 9-10,13 Contact with US ................................. 9-10 Missile Test/Exports ............................ 10-11 China's View of Nuclear Program ................. 12
DEPARTMENT OF STATE DAILY PRESS BRIEFING
WEDNESDAY, JUNE 1, 1994, 12:45 P.M. (ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED)
MS. SHELLY: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. I have two short announcements before we begin with your questions. A housekeeping item: We will be on an alternate briefing schedule for the duration of the Secretary's travel this week and next. That means we will brief on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, unless circumstances and events dictate otherwise. As usual, our Press Officers will be available on all of our normally scheduled working days, Saturday, and all that, to respond to any questions that you may have.
My second announcement is, I'd like to introduce Stephanie Jackson, one of our summer interns. Stephanie, will you please stand up. She's a senior at Towson State University, double-majoring in International Studies and Political Science. This is her fourth year working at the State Department as a summer intern. One of her internships was in the Bureau of Public Affairs' Office of the Historian, so that actually makes her a multiple offender in the Bureau of Public Affairs. We're very pleased to have her with us, and I know you'll all join me in welcoming her to the Press Office.
Q Do you have anything on Jamaica serving as a processing point for Haitian refugees?
MS. SHELLY: I'm afraid that the stories may have gotten slightly ahead of exactly where we are factually on this. The United States and the Government of Jamaica are working to reach an agreement on an arrangement which would offer Haitians interdicted on the high seas an opportunity to have their claims for refugee status processed.
The United States is encouraged by the constructive and responsible approach which has been taken by the Jamaican Government in these discussions.
As you are aware, Special Advisor William Gray has been in Jamaica since yesterday.
Deputy Secretary Strobe Talbott is leaving for Jamaica today and will be following up on these discussions.
The modalities of a possible Memorandum of Understanding were discussed over the weekend between officials of the Government of Jamaica and the U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary Brunson McKinley led the U.S. Government team to these talks.
The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees has agreed, in principle, to participate in such an operation. This is an important guarantee of fairness and objectivity. If that agreement is reached, it will take some time before all of the elements necessary to process Haitian boat people can be put in place. In the meantime, I would note that all Haitians interdicted at sea will continue to be repatriated to Haiti.
That's pretty much what I can tell you at this point. When there is something more formal in the way of announcement, I think you'll be hearing about that from us and certainly from the Jamaicans.
Q Did Bill Gray say last Friday that as an interim step the refugees would be interviewed on board ships? I thought he said that. Until you get the land processing set up, you were going to do the ship board interviews?
MS. SHELLY: Ship board interviews are certainly a possibility. The exact modalities for how this is going to work with Jamaica have not yet been completely sorted out. So this is still very much a possibility.
Q Do you know anything about similar talks with the British in Barbados?
MS. SHELLY: I understand that the talks with the British regarding Turks and Cacios are still continuing, and I don't have anything further on the Barbados question.
As you know, from earlier briefings, we have had discussions with Barbados on this possibility, but at this point I don't have anything to report.
Q Christine, was the Prime Minister of Jamaica here yesterday, last night, at some point in these discussions?
MS. SHELLY: I don't have any information on that, that he was here or is here. I think as far as --
Q There's a report to that effect, and I just wonder if that was --
MS. SHELLY: As far as I know, he is in Jamaica at this time, and he has been there also in connection with having meetings with our senior officials down there. I will check into that just to make sure that I'm not misinformed. But as far as I know, he's in Jamaica.
Q What kind of role is the U.N. Refugee Commissioner supposed to play?
MS. SHELLY: Other than having the one thing that I addressed particularly, which is trying to make sure that as these interviews would be held for those who might qualify for refugee status legitimately, we have been very concerned that the process would unfold in a way that would have adequate fairness and objectivity. So it was in that context that we had the discussions with the High Commissioner for Refugees. And, of course, we are very pleased that they indicated their agreement in principle to participate.
Other than that, I don't really have any further details on that aspect.
Q Christine, the agreement with Jamaica that you're working on, does that include any processing of people ashore, or is this almost limited to ships?
MS. SHELLY: The modalities of exactly how this will be done is what still is being sorted out. I think I just can't really speculate at this point because I don't know how, ultimately, that will be settled. The possibility of doing this on ships, certainly, as Mr. Gray said on Friday, is very much a possibility. But whether there would be other ways in which this would be done, I don't know ultimately where this will come out.
Q Do you have any sense of a timetable on this, when something will be worked out?
MS. SHELLY: I do not. You mean in terms of an announcement, when that might be coming? I think we're fairly close. I would expect sometime within the next couple of days.
Q Last week, over a hundred Cubans took shelter in the Belgian Embassy in Havana of which the Cuban Government immediately blamed the United States immigration policy. Do you have anything on this?
MS. SHELLY: Yes. I've got a little bit on that. I was looking into that before coming down here.
What we know about this so far is that over 100 Cubans had been seeking asylum at the residence of the Belgian Ambassador in Havana. We understand that the Belgian and Cuban Governments have been discussing this matter, and it's certainly our hope that a peaceful resolution of this situation will be found.
I'm sorry, the second part of your question?
Q The Cuban Government immediately accused the United States immigration policy for this because the United States is not granting enough visas to the people who leave and open the gates for anyone who comes here as an illegal immigrant.
MS. SHELLY: Okay. That part of the question. This is not an issue, I think, which is completely new to us. We certainly don't share and agree with any kind of accusations that U.S. immigration policies are responsible for this.
Our view is that it's the lack of political and economic reform in Cuba which creates an environment which can be conducive to the kind of attempts that this represents to try to find a way to flee Cuba.
The Cuban Government, of course, by this time, after this many years, is very well versed in U.S. immigration law. They're very well aware of exactly what the requirements are for Cuban nationals to immigrate to the United States.
There's a 1984 Bilateral Migration Agreement which we believe is working quite well and which does satisfy the interests of both countries. Under the provisions of this law, over 33,000 refugees, immigrants and parolees have been admitted to the United States from Cuba since the accord was signed. In Fiscal Year '93, for example, over 4,800 Cubans were admitted, while in Fiscal 1992, that compared to roughly 4,700 Cubans being admitted.
Only those who qualify under the appropriate provisions of U.S. Immigration law, of course, may be admitted.
Q Shifting to another part of the world. In Cambodia, a former State Department intelligence chief and ambassador, in an article Sunday, in The Post, suggested that Thailand is cooperating, is supporting Pol Pot, the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia -- the government -- which the U.S. had a role in putting together, is faltering and that the U.S. -- Christopher, especially, at ASEAN -- should try to rally Asian nations to stop Thailand from meddling.
Does the U.S. have such an appraisal of the situation in Cambodia?
MS. SHELLY: I think there are a couple of things that are going on. We also saw the article and had looked at what we might want to say in response to that.
First of all, as you know, there were some recent peace talks which had occurred in Pyongyang. We understand that the talks between the Royal Cambodian Government leaders and the Khmer Rouge, that occurred May 27 and May 28 in Pyongyang, that they failed to reach agreement on a cease-fire. They are scheduled to resume, I understand, in Phnom Penh with the focus on potential Cambodian cease-fire commission.
The United States, as you know, is not directly involved in these talks. We support the freely elected Royal Cambodian Government and commend the Royal Cambodian Government for its attempts to bring about a cease-fire in Cambodia.
As to the issue of the Thai military and their support for the Khmer Rouge and the general U.S. position on this, I would note that the Thai Government, including the military, has a clearly enunciated policy of non-support for the Khmer Rouge. Questions have certainly arisen, however, over the implementation of this policy.
We have raised this matter with the Thai Government and military officials, and we have strongly urged that every effort be made to ensure that all support for and contact with the Khmer Rouge would be cut off. We will certainly continue to urge that this be the case.
As also you mentioned, Barry, the Secretary is slated to attend the post-Ministerial Conference of the Association of South East Asian nations -- ASEAN -- and the inaugural session of the Asian Regional Forum in Bangkok in July where regional security issues, including Cambodia, will be discussed. So I would expect that that would present another opportunity at a very senior level in our government for us to express those concerns.
Q One quick follow. Does the U.S. know whether the Thais, or the Thai military, are providing arms to the Khmer Rouge?
MS. SHELLY: I'm going to take that question. I want to make sure that I can give an accurate response to that.
Q I would like to ask you about the radars in Colombia. Are you coming here with the (inaudible).
MS. SHELLY: Wait, before switching subjects.
Q When did we express our concerns to the Thais?
MS. SHELLY: We have had fairly consistent exchanges with them, expressing those concerns. As to the latest time we had an exchange on this, I'll check on that for you.
I have an update here, before we switch over to your topic. The Prime Minister of Jamaica is in Jamaica. He has not visited the United States in the recent past.
Late breaking news, and thank you to my Press Office for the update.
You wanted to switch to --
Q Colombia. The problem with the radars in Colombia. Suddenly, the U.S. stopped the program without any explanation to the Government of Colombia. The government don't understand why.
MS. SHELLY: Mike McCurry addressed this at yesterday's briefing. Let me just come back to this if I can briefly. What is at issue is that of suspending the sharing of real time radar intelligence which puts the Governments of Peru and Colombia at a disadvantage in interdicting air shipments of cocaine to the United States which we have placed an estimate of approximately 600 metric tons in 1993.
On this issue, U.S. Government agencies are reviewing the issue of radar intelligence-sharing in an effort to try to resolve some potential problems which have emerged because we would like to maintain the strongest possible drug interdiction programs in Peru and in Colombia, consistent with U.S. and international law.
As you know, there's a very long history to this, and these are very, very serious discussions and exchanges that we've had. We, of course, have tried to render as much as assistance as we've been able to.
The real-time radar intelligence-sharing program has been in existence for four years. The program was suspended, as you know, by the Department of Defense on May 1. However, there is an interagency review of the intelligence-sharing policy which is underway. The review has not yet been completed. I think until that review is completed and some of these other issues that have emerged have been addressed, this is about all I can tell you at this point.
If you didn't see the remarks on this yesterday by the briefer, you might get a copy of that from the Press Office.
Q Do you think that in the future Colombia, Peru, and (inaudible) of the United States may have this problem again?
MS. SHELLY: It's just too early for me to speculate on that. We are very concerned with having the strongest possible drug interdiction programs. We know that the real-time radar intelligence-sharing has been of substantial benefit to the governments in question in order to be able to police the kind of actions that are going on. I'm just really restrained at this point by the interagency process on this and the fact that it's underway to be able to then take this a step further and tell you what's going to happen in the future.
Q Is it possible to have an answer more specific about why the U.S. stopped the program in Colombia, because there are a lot of versions in the newspapers?
MS. SHELLY: I will check and see if there is more that we can say specifically on that. I know your interest is on Colombia. I'll check into that and see if we might be able to say more on this later this afternoon in a printed way, in a written form. Otherwise, we can try to come back to it at another briefing.
Is this still on the same topic?
Q This is another question about the same topic. How many agencies are working -- reviewing this program from Colombia for here?
MS. SHELLY: In the interagency review process? Or are you talking about agency presence in those countries?
Q No, in this country. How many agencies are working now, reviewing?
MS. SHELLY: In the interagency review?
MS. SHELLY: I'm going to have to check on that. I don't want to give false information. I'm going to check.
Q Different subject?
MS. SHELLY: Same subject? Sid.
Q Any comment on retaliatory steps that Peru and Colombia took banning all overflights of surveillance aircraft and what effect that has on the U.S. interdiction efforts in South America?
MS. SHELLY: I don't have any immediate comment on that. I'll look into that one as well.
Q Moving next door to Panama?
MS. SHELLY: I think you're not next in line. Charlie, I think you were next. It was a good effort, but you're going to have to wait. Charlie.
Q Not next door but across town. Anything new, generally speaking, on North Korea, and specifically anything on a report of a meeting Friday between Mr. Gallucci and a South Korean special envoy?
MS. SHELLY: That is pretty far across town. On this one, I don't have anything on the meeting of Bob Gallucci that you've mentioned. I'll check and see if we can post something on that later.
As you know, North Korea has been on the verge of defueling its reactor in a manner which may block the opportunity of the IAEA to analyze the fuel and determine what happened in the past with respect to this reactor -- as you know, how much plutonium North Korea has separated.
I understand that North Korea is continuing to discharge fuel from its reactor at a rapid rate. IAEA inspectors are still observing the discharge.
So far, the IAEA has not informed us that it would be impossible to carry out analysis of the fuel to determine the reactor's operating history, although the continuing fuel discharge, at the pace that we've described, is certainly jeopardizing that ability.
As I think you know, in the aftermath of the United Nations Security Council statement, which was issued on Monday evening, IAEA Director General Hans Blix sent a Telex to the North Koreans urging agreement as soon as possible on the methods acceptable to the IAEA to carry out the necessary analysis of the spent fuel.
My understanding is that there has been no response from North Korea to this message which was sent last night.
Q I would like to ask a question about a Washington Post article. Last night, did your --
MS. SHELLY: Is this on Korea, still?
Q Yes. Last night, did your Administration decide to seek punitive economic sanctions against North Korea?
MS. SHELLY: In terms of what the U.S. has been considering and talking about doing in terms of its next steps, I think you know there continue to be U.S. Government meetings on this. They have reviewed all of the latest developments, including what's happened in the Security Council as a result of Mr. Blix's message to the Security Council at the end of last week.
At this point, there has not been any U.S. decision taken about those next steps, because we want to work in tandem with the international community on this and hear back from the IAEA about what it has been told and what its eventual determination is going to be on this. Then, I think, in the context of that, we will then be able to make a decision about what is the appropriate U.S. response. But there has not been a decision taken at this juncture about some kind of steps along the lines that you've described.
Q This morning, the North Koreans responded to the Security Council's statement. Do you have any response to that? It's different from the Blix letter.
MS. SHELLY: I haven't seen that. I'm sorry. I'll check and see if we have anything else we want to say on that. I wasn't aware that there had been a reaction to the Security Council statement, so I'm going to have to take that.
Q On Friday, there's supposed to be a meeting up in New York with Assistant Secretary Gallucci and some others from Japan and South Korea. Do you have anything on what this meeting will be for, what topics they're going to --
MS. SHELLY: I think, as you know, also from what Mike mentioned yesterday, we have been having pretty continuous contacts with the other countries that have a very direct interest in this. Those contacts are continuing. There have been telephone calls. There have been messages sent.
We don't usually talk very much about the contacts that we're having before they actually take place, except, certainly, I can say that we're in nearly daily exchange with the other interested parties to this. So there may be some contacts of this nature that are scheduled for New York on Friday. I don't have the details of that, but it certainly wouldn't be inconsistent with the kind of contacts we've been having.
Q One more question. Do you have any statistics on North Korean trade with other countries? And if you've done an analysis on how --
MS. SHELLY: Like which other countries?
Q Any kind of analysis on what kind of impact any type of sanctions would have?
MS. SHELLY: I would doubt very much if we have that kind of an assessment. I will see what kind of factual information we have that might be available. Trade statistics are usually something that come out of the Commerce Department and not necessarily the State Department. But I'll check and see what we have and see if we can develop some kind of response to your question.
Carol had her hand up for about half an hour. Carol.
Q Christine, short of any formal decision by this government on what to do about sanctions, has the Administration started to seriously look in a more serious way than it had before at the specifics of a sanctions resolution?
MS. SHELLY: The sanctions possibility has always been out there, as you know, from various statements that we've made. The issue of sanctions really arises at the time that the IAEA makes a determination that it can no longer throw light on what the history of that reactor is.
Certainly, we have looked into the issue and what kind of form that might take. We're not at that point yet. There is not a text floating around on anything. We're really waiting to hear from the IAEA, and certainly there has been internal thinking about that issue.
Since we're not ready to actually move to the issue of sanctions yet, what we need to do first, if that kind of determination is made, is to have the issue come back through the Security Council and then work in the context of the Security Council about what the appropriate international response would be.
Q How does the U.S. feel about the missile test, North Korean missile test?
MS. SHELLY: I was trying to get some information on that to see if we had very much we would want to say. Our information is that the North Koreans tested an anti-ship missile on May 30 in the Sea of Japan. I don't have a lot of other details for you on that.
As you do know, we do follow the North Korea missile developments very closely. We've repeatedly warned of the potential implications for regional stability of North Korea's separate ballistic missile program.
Our general view on the test is, of course, that it can only add to the tensions which already exist in the region.
Q How about their willingness to export those kinds of missiles to the Middle East?
MS. SHELLY: I'm sure that you could probably figure out that is not something that we would be very -- it's my feeling that we would not be terribly favorably disposed toward that. As to exactly what -- if we've made a statement on that, I'll check and see if we might want to say something more.
Q Two questions on Korea.
MS. SHELLY: Korea?
Q Yes, ma'am. First, is there -- does the Department see -- does the Clinton Administration see any other deduction, any other possibility, to explain the Korean behavior, except the one that's obvious and logical for all of us, that Korea is hiding a nuclear program, that they're building bombs, they're taking plutonium from these rods? Is there any other possibility? That's my first question.
MS. SHELLY: Okay. Again, it's absolutely impossible for us to know what the North Korean motives are in the game of brinkmanship that they have been playing. They, themselves, have said that there were compelling technical reasons why the discharge of the fuel rods had to proceed at this accelerated pace.
It's my understanding that the IAEA has not been of the same view; that they have not seen the need for this discharge at the accelerated pace. But again I'm not a mind reader here. I think it's very, very hard to know exactly what it is that the North Koreans are up to in the management of the game from their side. But I think that the key point here is to try to get them back into the serious discussions with the IAEA and to reach agreement on the remaining discharge of the reactor which is underway.
You had a second question?
Q Yes. And the second question is: Does this Department believe that it is possible that North Korea would play this brinkmanship game, whatever their objective, without some approval somewhere in the Chinese Government? And just to follow a little bit, is it possible that North Korea could indeed proceed with a nuclear program on their own without some guidance from the Chinese military or some other elements in China?
MS. SHELLY: I think China's position on this is well known. China has indicated repeatedly its commitment to a denuclearized Korean peninsula. We take that commitment at its face value and have no reason to question it.
Q Christine, just to ask this again, because in much of the reporting it is not clear. In the present process of removing the 8000 fuel rods from the reactor, is any of this -- or do we know whether any of this might be being diverted to additional use for -- additional plutonium extraction?
MS. SHELLY: Barrie, I think that is really an IAEA determination. There may be intelligence analysts or Korea watchers who have a view on that. I don't know whether that's the case, but I think that we would really have to get the technical findings of the inspectors before, at least we'd be ready to say something about what we think is going on.
Q So that answer is not quite the same as the one that actually Mike gave yesterday. He said we were confident that nothing was being diverted at this time; so we're not confident of that at all then?
MS. SHELLY: I think the degree to which the inspectors -- the knowledge that they had up to a certain point -- I think that they were confident that no diversion had been going on. In terms of the latest findings that they may have had, I don't know. I am not in any way trying to deliberately contradict what was said yesterday, but I think I'm going to check on that point and get you an answer after the briefing.
Q To put it a slightly different way, are you concerned about the past and the fact that they are doing things which will make it impossible to determine what they did in 1988 or '89 when they last refueled this reactor, and can you be confident that they aren't doing -- at least proceeding with new material to reprocess -- the new material? Which is the issue? The past or the future?
MS. SHELLY: In terms of those rods which have been withdrawn under this defueling operation, I don't think there is any indication -- maybe, Barrie, this is the answer to your question -- I don't think there is any indication of any diversion of this particular fuel, but the withdrawal process only just started.
My understanding is that what we're getting at is the defueling of the reactor in a way which does not block the opportunity of the IAEA to analyze the fuel and determine what did happen in 1989 when they did defuel the reactor, and there have been various statements by North Korea regarding how much plutonium they separated at this time.
I think that this is the key information that we're trying to get at now, so that we don't block and lose the opportunity to find out exactly what the history of the reactor was in that regard.
Q I think the timing of economic sanctions against North Korea must be significant. What is your position? The sooner the better or the later the better?
MS. SHELLY: Again, since sanction is not at a point -- where we are at this point, the IAEA has not informed us that North Korea has actually crossed the line of no return, and that is the point where the sanctions issue arises. I just will have to decline to speculate where our view is on sanctions.
Sanctions have always been a possibility if we felt that there was not a possibility to make a safeguards determination. But this is not where we are right now, so I just don't think it would be helpful to the exchanges on this for me to offer a view on that.
Is that Korea or another topic?
Q Another topic.
MS. SHELLY: Any other? Okay.
Q I just want to go back to Haiti for a moment. Do you have anything on the Dominican Republic's efforts to seal off the border?
MS. SHELLY: Yes. I've got a bit of an update on that. As you know, President Balaguer announced some recent measures and indicated that there would be a tightening in the sanctions enforcement along the borders. The information we have is that the Dominican Republic has taken several concrete steps toward enhanced enforcement.
The number of troops along the border, I understand, has been increased from about 10,000 to 15,000. In addition to this, most of the troops that were previously stationed along the border have been replaced to actually try to cut down on the corruption and the collusion of the troops which were close to the border that was clearly going on.
I understand that the troops that are there now have been searching private property along the border for fuel deposits there. The Dominican fuel refinery is limiting supplies of gasoline and diesel to levels that had been supplied before the fuel embargo went into effect.
We have had some observers from the U.S. Embassy who have been along the border area. They have also reported a drop in border crossings, particularly during the day. We understand that the traffic across the border after dark does remain somewhat of a problem. We're hoping that a strengthened enforcement effort will also apply to this period of time in the day as well.
As you know, we in the international community are prepared to try to assist in this in any way that we can, but we're still waiting for the U.N. -- the results of the report of the U.N. survey team which, once fully analyzed, will come up with the concrete recommendations about what other types of assistance the international community might be able to offer.
Q Do you have an explanation as to why the Dominican Republic seems to be doing, if not a turnabout, at least to tighten up the border?
MS. SHELLY: I think that they felt that -- they knew that the enforcement was lax. They perhaps needed a stronger pronouncement by the international community to take the steps which were clearly necessary from a domestic point of view to toughen up their enforcement.
Why this was the case, as it was before, I don't know. I can't really speculate very much on that. But I think the important thing is that they have made good on the assurances that they have given the international community about this and about tightening up the enforcement, and I think that we want to deal in the present on this, and they have taken a lot of steps.
Q Did the U.S. apply pressure on the Dominican Republic in order to step this up?
MS. SHELLY: We have certainly had bilateral contacts with them about this, but the United Nations has also been very active there, as you know, in sending the survey team down with a view to trying to determine how the sanctions enforcement might be toughened up.
So certainly we worked with them pursuant to our interests to see this sanctions enforcement toughened, but this was also an expression of the international community as well, and I think I'd like to couch it more in that context rather than in a kind of bilateral pressure mode.
Q What's your reaction to the allegations that there was a quid pro quo, and that the United States has agreed not to contest the results of the election -- an election which has been widely reported as having many irregularities?
MS. SHELLY: I've seen those reports also, and I can categorically state that the issues related to the Dominican Republic elections are not tied in any way to the sanctions enforcement. The U.S. believes that free elections are essential to the orderly development of the hemisphere, and we certainly support a full investigation of the reported irregularities that were noted in the context of the May 16 elections.
Our support for a democratic practice, whether it's Haiti, whether it's Dominican Republic or elsewhere is constant. We support the continued presence of the OAS election observers. We expect that they will make their final report which addresses the charges of irregularities, and we will look forward to receiving that report in due course.
Q Have you heard anything about the Haitian military authorities freezing some of the assets of these private humanitarian groups?
MS. SHELLY: There was a report this morning on this. There were some reports about the freezing of millions of dollars in U.S. foreign aid that had been on deposit at the Haitian Central Bank and what the impact of that might be on the U.S. assistance programs.
The Haitian Central Bank, at the direction of the Haitian military, blocked an account which contains approximately $12 million dollars in Haitian-government owned gourdes -- that's the Haitian currency -- and these were being used for the USAID humanitarian feeding program and to job activities that were designed to assist Haiti's most vulnerable people.
We're taking steps to try to protect the integrity of our humanitarian programs there, and our food and emergency jobs programs will continue as before. The de facto regime, with its military backers, have demonstrated once again their willingness to inflict suffering on their own people and to try to advance their own interests.
The local currency funds are actually owned by the legitimate government of President Aristide and, as I mentioned, on deposit in the Haitian Central Bank. After the de facto regime installed itself, we consulted with the legitimate government and then moved to terminate the program.
We requested transfer of these funds from the Central Bank to a private bank in Port-au-Prince, in Haiti. It was a this time that the de facto government moved illegally to freeze these funds.
Q Thank you.
MS. SHELLY: All right, one quick question on Russia.
Q A question on Russia. I'll be brief. Good news coming with the Partnership for Peace progress, with the joint exercises to be held in July, now not knowing where we're going to have those exercises. Also, the detargeting that was completed on the 30th. Could you characterize the atmosphere of the relations of the United States and Russia at the present time?
MS. SHELLY: Yes. I characterize them as very good. Thank you.
(The briefing concluded at 1:23 p.m.) (###)
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