U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE DAILY PRESS BRIEFING Tuesday, June 14, 1994 I N D E X Briefer: Michael McCurry ANNOUNCEMENT Introduction of Summer Intern Sunny Kim .........1 NORTH KOREA Secretary's Telephone Call to Russian FM ........1,5 Secretary's Telephone Call to Japanese FM .......1 Withdrawal from IAEA ............................2-4 US Discussions on Sanctions .....................2 Proposed International Conference ...............3 Amb. Albright's Consultations in Washington/at UN ..............................4-5 President Carter's Visit to Region ..............5-7 RUSSIA Prospects for Partnership for Peace Membership ..1-2 HAITI Refugee Processing/Timing .......................7 THE CZECH REPUBLIC Interior Minister's Meetings at Department ......8-9 SAUDI ARABIA Reported Request for Asylum in US by Saudi Diplomat ......................................9 Report of Funding for Hamas .....................9 DEPARTMENT Prospects for Nomination of Amb. Holbrook for Asst. Secretary of European/Canadian Affairs ..9 New Post for Asst. Secretary Oxman ..............9-11 (###)
DEPARTMENT OF STATE DAILY PRESS BRIEFING
TUESDAY, JUNE 14, 1994, 1:10 P. M. (ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED)
MR. McCURRY: Good afternoon, everybody. I'd like to start with an introduction, one that I'm happy to make. Sunny Kim, stand up, front and center. Sunny is a new Press Office summer intern and will be helping many of you out and tracking things down for you. She's a senior at Wellesley College majoring in French and political science, and she's worked in previous summers at the Hopkins School of Public Health and spent a summer in Seoul, Korea, where she studied the history of Korean international relations. Sunny, it's all yours, come on up. (Laughter) Thanks. We're very glad to have her with us this summer.
I'm a little bit late because I wanted to tell you about a phone call the Secretary has just concluded a short while ago with Foreign Minister Kozyrev of Russia. They spoke to follow up on the phone call I think many of you know about that occurred between Presidents Clinton and Yeltsin last night. The White House has provided some information about that call, but the two Foreign Ministers, at the instructions of the presidents, followed up on that conversation today.
They obviously discussed Korea at some length and particularly the announcement by North Korea yesterday concerning its status in the International Atomic Energy Agency. Both Secretary Christopher and Foreign Minister Kozyrev agreed that that announcement was most serious, and they agreed that they would continue their very close consultations on addressing this issue through our representatives at the United Nations.
They also discussed the Partnership for Peace and Russia's impending decision or agreement to joint the Partnership for Peace and followed up on some matters that they had discussed in Istanbul. And then finally the Secretary and the Foreign Minister discussed Bosnia and the work of the Contact Group which I believe resumes tomorrow -- Thursday. I'm sorry. Thursday, that's correct.
I also would just let you know that the Secretary did discuss the North Korea issue last night in a phone call with Foreign Minister Kakizawa of Japan. We're continuing our very close consultations, and we believe very productive consultations with the Government of Japan on the issue.
And with that as a starter, anything else you're interested in?
Q On this subject still, Yeltsin is saying that the Secretary and Kozyrev are to meet in Brussels. Is that happening this week or next week?
MR. McCURRY: They did discuss some timing for further deliberations on Partnership for Peace, but I'm not aware that they agreed to any date, and I don't think the Secretary can make a trip to Brussels this week. Certainly they agreed in Istanbul and I believe they had some discussion today about when they could both reconvene in Brussels to review the status of Russia's partnership agreement.
Q Do you know if the United States or the IAEA has been formally notified that North Korea is pulling out?
MR. McCURRY: No. My understanding is that the International Atomic Energy Agency at this point has not received formal word that North Korea has withdrawn from the IAEA.
Just a little technical matter which is of some interest, under the IAEA statute, states may withdraw from the IAEA by actually notifying the United States Government, because the United States Government is the depository state for instruments of IAEA membership. We have also similarly not received any formal written notification from the DPRK, as would be required by the international statute, informing us or the IAEA of North Korea's intentions with regard to membership.
Q Did you seek clarification?
MR. McCURRY: North Korea's made public statements, and we have no reason to doubt that those statements represent the intention of North Korea. But again it doesn't really affect in any substantial way the path that we are now pursuing. We are pursuing the option of sanctions at the United Nations Security Council and will begin informally circulating a draft resolution in the next day or so in New York, addressing the situation.
Q So your answer is no, you did not seek clarification.
MR. McCURRY: We have not had a working level contact with the DPRK in which we could seek clarification.
Q On the withdrawal notice, is there a mandatory delay period before it becomes effective?
MR. McCURRY: I'm not aware of any time limits or conditions on IAEA membership. There is a provision within the Non-Proliferation Treaty, a three-month provision, on withdrawing from the Non-Proliferation Treaty, but I'm not aware that that applies under the IAEA statute.
Q Michael, how does this affect, if at all, the idea of an international conference? Does this have any impact on it?
MR. McCURRY: The idea of a conference is one that we've said in the past is useful, but we've all told the Russians and have told you that we think the first focus needs to be on pursuing sanctions at the Security Council, and that's the path that we are now on, although the idea of a conference is one that we continue to discuss with the Russians, how it would work, and what issues could be addressed.
But that type of conference would in our view work only if the DPRK was taking steps to honor its obligations to the world community and to the IAEA.
Q Has the United States accepted the concept the Russians seem to be advocating of a linkage between the conference and their support for sanctions in the United Nations?
MR. McCURRY: Our view is that an international conference could be useful at some point, but our first focus is on pursuing sanctions.
Q Has the United States decided on the kind of sanctions it's going to ask for?
MR. McCURRY: Our approach will be as Ambassador Gallucci indicated to you and as we've said. It will be a phased-in approach, working step-by-step to attempt to resolve the North Korea situation. It would address not only the past actions and behavior of the DPRK, but it would also be designed to provide leverage for future possible actions by the North, and clearly an announcement that the inspectors now in North Korea would be forced to leave would be the type of further action that would have to be addressed in a draft resolution.
Q So, Mike, their decision -- if they follow up on their decision to withdraw from the IAEA and kick out the inspectors, that would have an impact, as Bob Gallucci said yesterday, on the sanctions discussions?
MR. McCURRY: As we have said, that would make a very serious situation worse, and that would require us to address that type of action in a draft resolution at the United Nations Security Council.
Q Ambassador Albright is down from New York, I believe, yesterday and today. Did she bring the draft resolution of the North Korean sanctions with her, and who has she been in discussions with on this situation?
MR. McCURRY: She's had since very early today extensive discussions with the Secretary and others here in the building, although I believe she is addressing a wide variety of issues in addition to the North Korea matter.
I don't know that it would be accurate to say that she brought with her the text. She has been in extensive discussions within our government with other principals about the text of such a resolution. So she's indeed working on it while she's here in Washington.
Q Anything new on how China is reacting to the draft resolution?
MR. McCURRY: Nothing new or different than what we've said over the last several days.
Q And no particularly new contacts or specific new contacts about the resolution?
MR. McCURRY: There has been diplomatic contact with China to review our understanding of the announcement by the DPRK yesterday, and there will continue to be very close consultations with them at the United Nations in the context of developing a resolution.
Q At what level?
MR. McCURRY: I believe I saw something on it through the Embassy. I can double-check that. It was at an Embassy level.
Q The resolution that you present, or that you circulate -- I'm sorry -- in a day or so, will that represent also the joint position of the United States, South Korea and Japan after the lengthy talks that you've had with those countries?
MR. McCURRY: We have addressed that issue in trilateral sessions with the Government of Japan and the Government of South Korea, and I think that our approach on this resolution would reflect the thinking of the Government of Japan and the Republic of Korea, yes.
Q Can we do Haiti?
MR. McCURRY: Haiti.
Q Any update on --
MR. McCURRY: One other, just as an FYI, the Secretary did call President Carter who, as you know, is over in the region now. He called him last night just to make sure that the former President was aware of some of the developments yesterday, as indeed the former President was. Consistent with our desire to keep former President Carter briefed on his current mission, we did contact him.
Q Is he carrying any message?
MR. McCURRY: No. He's not carrying. As the White House has indicated and as we have indicated, he is not carrying any formal message from the United States.
MR. McCURRY: He had had productive meetings, I believe, in South Korea as of the time of the Secretary's call, but I didn't have a detailed readout on that.
Q Korea again. You said that the Secretary and Kozyrev had plans at some unknown future date to continue working on the Partnership for Peace, but you didn't address the statement by Yeltsin, as reported by the Russian media, that they would also meet at a very specific time, like tomorrow or the next day, on Korea in Brussels.
MR. McCURRY: They do plan to meet soon but not that soon. I think the Secretary -- they discussed timing, and I believe the Secretary indicated that that was not going to work out. But I do believe that they intend to meet soon in Brussels to review the partnership program.
Q And Korea? The Korea issue as well?
MR. McCURRY: Their phone call today was to follow up on the discussion that President Yeltsin had with President Clinton yesterday.
Q Is that a link to another trip perhaps next week?
MR. McCURRY: I think the Secretary, knowing a little bit about his predilections on travel, would prefer to do fewer numbers of trips and try to fit things together so itineraries work smoothly. But going off to Brussels two days from now didn't seem to quite fit with that.
Q Mike, just on this Carter issue, is Carter carrying an informal message of -- a package of things that North Korea could expect?
MR. McCURRY: No, no. In fact, the former President issued a statement himself and made very clear he was not acting in an envoy capacity; that he's there at a private invitation from North Korea. But as he does frequently when he travels throughout the world, he did receive briefings from the United States Government on the United States' views on issues that the former President might confront when he's traveling.
Q Do you think Carter's presence in North Korea has any possibility at all of defusing this situation?
MR. McCURRY: At this point it is entirely up to North Korea to defuse this situation, and that North Korea is well aware of the steps that they would need to take at this point to head off the determined and resolved will of the international community.
Q Carter is traveling to North Korea in a private function. Is he being accompanied by any State Department official?
MR. McCURRY: I believe he does have two career Foreign Service people -- I'm sorry, correct that -- he has two staff people from his own center, the Carter Center in Atlanta, and I believe he is accompanied by a career Foreign Service Officer who's there as a courtesy and to help facilitate the former President's travel.
Q But no messages through that channel.
MR. McCURRY: No. The Foreign Service Officer accompanying the President is there to assist the former President and not acting in a diplomatic capacity.
Q You don't think he would participate in any of these meetings with, say, the President of North Korea, or sitting in on it?
MR. McCURRY: It is someone who could be helpful to the former President. It's up to President Carter, since it's his trip and his own private travel. It's up to the President to include in meetings whoever the President chooses.
Q Do you know if anybody in the Department has talked to Selig Harrison who just had a long interview with Kim il-Sung?
MR. McCURRY: I believe someone has, Jim, but I don't know. I've heard about that visit, but I don't know who got a full readout on that. I'd have to check on that further.
Q Can we do Haiti?
MR. McCURRY: Yes.
Q There are those in the building who think that the refugee processing system will start up today, and there are others who say no, it won't. Could you give us the latest?
MR. McCURRY: I don't know. Myself, I'm not certain when it will happen.
Q You have no idea --
MR. McCURRY: I believe, as we said on Saturday, following very productive meetings we had with the UNHCR, that we have procedures in place, but I do not know for a fact when that processing would begin.
Q (Inaudible) reports of U.S. helicopters on their way to enforce the sanctions? Do you know anything about that?
MR. McCURRY: I don't know anything about that. I'd have to check on that. What was this, a wire report or --
Q CNN report -- that CNN has learned.
MR. McCURRY: CNN has learned. CNN, come in, come in. He doesn't have it. We'll check. We'll check and see, or perhaps it might arise at the Pentagon briefing today, too. But I'll check into it and see if there's anything that we found on it.
Q Still on the Caribbean. Do you have any comment on the remarks of President Salinas concerning the U.S. embargo against Cuba, and also on this big investment that some Mexican firms are making --
MR. McCURRY: In telecommunications?
MR. McCURRY: I haven't seen those remarks. I believe if the public remarks are as you describe, they're not inconsistent with some views that are shared by others in the hemisphere and that they've expressed to us privately and sometimes publicly.
Q That's your only comment?
MR. McCURRY: Let me check and get a full description of what he has said and see if we can work up a more formal response.
We have from time to time -- many leaders in the region have made that point. I believe President Salinas made that point publicly, if I'm not mistaken, just within the last day or so.
This was in Cartagena at the Ibero-American summit meeting?
Q He went to Havana and he said the embargo should be lifted and he also talked about the investment the telephone folks are making in Mexico.
MR. McCURRY: As I say, I think those -- views like that have been expressed in the past by leaders in the region. I don't know that we have commented on that before, but I'll check and see if we've got anything further to say on that.
Q The Minister of Interior from the Czech Republic is in the building today. Can you say anything about his talks? Is there any connection with the problem of Russian criminal groups extending here into the West?
MR. McCURRY: I'll have to check on his schedule today. I do know that he was here and that he was planning some meetings today. They were following up on some conversations that we've had at a somewhat different level over the last several weeks.
On the specific issue of whether or not they're going to discuss crime issues, I'm not aware that that was part of the planned agenda, but I'll check further and see if we can post something on it.
Q On another subject, Michael. Do you have anything to say about this Saudi Arabian diplomat seeking asylum and claiming that the Saudis are monitoring Jewish-American groups?
MR. McCURRY: I don't have anything elaborate on that, mostly because it's an INS call on discussing asylum matters. And as a general practice, they don't.
Assistant Secretary Pelletreau, though, was testifying on the Hill today, as you might know, and I do believe he was asked some questions about this at his hearing, so you might want to check the transcript. I read that and didn't see much there other than to say that we have not had any type of formal request from this individual's lawyers. But if we did, we'd be constrained in what we could say because, as a general practice, publicly, we just don't discuss political asylum cases, consistent with the views of the Immigration and Naturalization Service which is the lead agency on that type of case.
Q Michael, what about -- separately, from that -- the issue of possible Saudi funding for Hamas in Jordan? Have you looked into that in the past? Have you talked to the Saudi Government about it?
MR. McCURRY: I believe they've looked into it in the past. It has been addressed in bilateral discussions in the past and some of the other issues that are alleged in this New York Times story today are, in fact, addressed in the Annual Human Rights Report that the Department issues covering Saudi Arabia.
Q Mike, does the Department plan to bring back Ambassador Holbrook from Germany?
MR. McCURRY: I believe that the intent of the President is to nominate Ambassador Holbrook to be Assistant Secretary for European and Canadian Affairs at whatever point Assistant Secretary Oxman is comfortable with his own future plans. The Secretary has had good discussions with Assistant Secretary Oxman on that point.
I think, as you know, Secretary Christopher has a great deal of respect -- I'd say enormous personal respect -- for Assistant Secretary Oxman. They've worked together going back to the Secretary's previous days here in the Department. I think that the Secretary is anxious to make sure that the best people available in the Department are deployed in a way that takes advantage of all their talents.
At whatever point Assistant Secretary Oxman does move into a new position, I do believe the President intends to nominate Ambassador Holbrook to fill that vacancy, yes.
Q Can you give us any -- shed any light on the timing? Eight months seems to be a short tenure for an overseas Embassy post.
MR. McCURRY: That's not unusual given past Administrations and the length of duration of some appointments. I can't shed any light on timing. That's something that the Secretary and Assistant Secretary Oxman will work out, I'm sure.
Q Why is Mr. Oxman being replaced?
MR. McCURRY: I think he's got some opportunities that I believe he's enthusiastic about -- to pursue some other opportunities. This is triggered by a story today which, as is often the case with stories about personnel matters, the facts are usually a little less dramatic than the way they get written.
Any Administration, as it goes through its work, makes changes as it goes along. That's part of the normal cycle in any Administration as it takes its best people and deploys them in a way that they can take advantage of challenges and interests and backgrounds that individual people have. I think in this case that's exactly the type of adjustment that we're making that is consistent with the interests and the backgrounds of some of the people involved.
Q So are you saying that Secretary Oxman is being promoted?
MR. McCURRY: I don't know what position he'll be filling. It may very well be. He'll stay in the Administration. Secretary Christopher's intent very much is that Assistant Secretary Oxman would stay in the Administration and continue to contribute to the Administration the same fine service he's offered already as head of the European Bureau.
The European Bureau has just been a major participant in a highly successful trip by the President of the United States to Europe, and I think that was a reflection on the superior work that has been done by the Assistant Secretary and his team.
Q Will Russia and the other former Soviet republics be dealt with separately in whatever realignment you come up with?
MR. McCURRY: I believe that's consistent with the organization structure that's been adopted by the Department. I'm not aware of any change in that.
Q Michael, you said on Oxman that he has an opportunity -- he has some opportunities he's interested in pursuing. But you're saying that he's being reassigned. Is this something Oxman initiated, to pursue other opportunities or is this something Christopher initiated to place him elsewhere?
MR. McCURRY: They discussed this -- the two of them -- as personnel matters are frequently resolved in private discussions between the two. I don't have any information that could shed any light on that question.
Q Was that a similar kind of discussion to the one that the Secretary had with Ambassador Pezzullo?
MR. McCURRY: I don't know what type of discussion he had.
Q It was one you characterized as a mutual agreement, but it later transpired that the mutual agreement was that Pezzullo was fired.
MR. McCURRY: I don't know how to compare personnel discussions between separate individuals.
Q On the subject of personnel changes, is Tom Simons being considered for an Ambassadorship?
MR. McCURRY: We covered that yesterday.
Q You didn't say anthing about that.
MR. McCURRY: I did it at the briefing yesterday. Anything else?
Q Thank you.
(Press briefing concluded at 1:30 p.m.) (###)To the top of this page