Friday, 6/24/94 U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE DAILY PRESS BRIEFING JUNE 24, 1994 U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE DAILY PRESS BRIEFING I N D E X Friday, June 24, 1994 Briefer: Michael McCurry NORTH KOREA Remarks by ACDA Director John Holland on Nuclear Program ............................. 1 Third Round of Talks ............................. 2-5,23 --U.S./DPRK Meeting in New York .................. 4-5 Update on Assistant Secretary Gallucci's Meetings. 4 SOUTH AFRICA Report on Revival of Nuclear Program ............. 6 FORMER YUGOSLAVIA Arms Embargo ..................................... 6-8 Reports of Iranian/Malaysian Arms to Region ...... 7-8 Contact Group .................................... 7-8 COLOMBIA/PERU Allegations of Drug Cartel Involvement in Presidential Campaign .......................... 9 U.S. Ambassador Busby/President-Elect Sampas Mtg. 9 Discussions on Intelligence Sharing .............. 21-23 HAITI Discussions on Proposed Radio Broadcasts to Haiti 10 Sanctions Enforcement ............................ 10,13 Update on Processing of Refugees ................. 11-16 Reports of Drug Trans-shipments .................. 13-14 REFUGEES U.S. Assessment of Amnesty International Report .. 13 YEMEN U.S. Discussions/Bilateral Consultations on Conflict .................................... 17 CYPRUS U.S. Position on Confidence-Building Measures .... 17 MIDDLE EAST PEACE U.S./PLO Meetings on International Funding........ 18 Release of U.S. Donor Funding .................... 19 ALGERIA Christopher/Pelletreau/FM Dembri Discussions ..... 20-21 Reports of Violence .............................. 21
DEPARTMENT OF STATE DAILY PRESS BRIEFING
FRIDAY, JUNE 24, 1994, 1:05 P. M. (ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED)
MR. McCURRY: Good afternoon, everybody. I'd like to start with something and pick up from yesterday's briefing a little bit, because I got a question yesterday about some remarks that John Holland, the Director of the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency had made. Unfortunately I described the interpretation of his remarks as being "curious", and after talking to John, I am now certain that it is curious.
He, I think, was characterized in some news accounts as having suggested that the Administration is more interested in freezing the program than in going back and looking at the history of that program, and I have looked carefully at the transcript of what he said, and I am satisfied, based on what he said, that in several places he indicated in his remarks and his discussion with some Defense writers that the United States is unwilling to dismiss the past as water under the bridge, that we are going to have to resolve the discrepancies that have existed in the program in the past, and, looking at what he said, I think he made it pretty clear, and he did say, obviously, that right now the past is not going to change, as we prepare for this third round of discussions, so of immediate concern to us is making sure that the freeze that has been offered in major elements of the program of the DPRK remains in place. He did say that, but I would not want anyone to suggest from those remarks that somehow or other we don't attach great importance to resolving some of the outstanding questions that we have about the history of North Korea's nuclear program.
Q Mike, while you bring it up, when they mixed the rods in, and when they denied access to the waste sites, it was said -- and obviously you've got to leave a little room for hyperbole -- but it was said that they had pretty well destroyed or blocked or prevented the accumulation of the evidence of reconstructing that past.
Now, Mr. Gallucci has said there were other opportunities, but I don't think I have ever heard what those opportunities are.
Do you happen to be able at this point to tell us what resources remain and whether the monitors are getting there or will be able to get to them?
MR. McCURRY: I don't want to tread too directly into an area that is within the technical competence of the International Atomic Energy Agency, because they are the ones that determine that what we had lost when the reactor was defueled was irretrievable, that the ability to reconstruct certain aspects of the operating history had been lost. But they did suggest that there are other methods of determining things about the history of the program, and they pointed specifically to some suspect nuclear waste sites, as I believe many of you know. They also indicated that there are things you could do in reconstructing records about the history of the program. There may be other issues, as well, but that is within the technical competence of the IAEA to suggest, and they are the ones that we look to, being the international agency that monitors this type of activity, to provide answers to those very technical types of questions.
Certainly if there are any other ways in which one could explore the questions of what is the history of that reactor, especially in the critical period in 1989 when it was defueled, it would be advisable, and indeed we would consider it important to explore those types of questions.
That's the type of thing now that -- type of issue that can be raised during the course of a third round of talks.
Q Mike, I went over the communiques from the last two sessions in June and July of last year, and the United States and North Korea agreed to discuss such things as a light water reactor and economic assistance, and all of those things that the United States is again prepared to talk about.
Can you tell me why this -- these sets of talks should succeed, where the other set -- where the other sets of talks about these issues did not succeed?
MR. McCURRY: Well, they were -- no, my understanding, my recollection of the first two rounds of high level talks is that they engaged on a variety of issues, and within the context of the second round of high level talks, they more or less established an agenda that would be available, could both sides reach an understanding that a third round of high level talks would be -- that there would be a premise for a third round of high level talks.
I think the discussion of the things that are there and available for discussion, such as light water reactor technology, in the communique at the end of the second round, were suggested as avenues that could be explored in the future, based on some of the continuing dialogue.
But there were some aspects, there were certain things that had to happen, certain understandings that we had to have in order for that type of dialogue to continue, and resolving those has been very much a part of the discussion around this issue over the past several months.
Q Well, some people like Donald Gregg, even James Lilley and others, have suggested that the United States should be more specific and more forthcoming rather than general in stating to the North Koreans publicly, perhaps, what they might expect as a result of their cooperation and ending their nuclear program and coming clean on other things.
Is the United States prepared to do that?
MR. McCURRY: I'm not prepared, here and now to outline in the presentation we will make to the DPRK in a third round of talks, no. But I think we are well aware of the advice of the two people you mentioned. In fact, if I am not mistaken, I believe that at least one of them has had an opportunity to sit with the President of the United States and talk about exactly that kind of issue. Sid.
Q Does the Administration now think there is a new political will at the highest levels of the Pyongyang Government to resolve these issues?
MR. McCURRY: That is unknown. That's the type of -- that will be explored and determined in the course of the coming discussions.
Q If I could follow up, so we are entering these talks even though we don't see signs? We aren't sure whether there are signs that Pyongyang is willing to actually settle the issue?
MR. McCURRY: No. We are entering these talks based on some very specific assurances that have been communicated to us by the DPRK, including our understanding that they would be willing to discuss fully implementing the requirements of the Non-Proliferation Treaty and their existing safeguards agreement with the International Atomic Energy Agency.
Those are very important understandings that serve as a premise for a talk, as well as their specific indications to us that they would freeze major elements of their program.
Q Can you tell us about the meeting in New York today?
MR. McCURRY: I can. It's not entirely conclusive, but it should be very shortly. At the working level in our New York channel, the United States met today with the DPRK. They discussed logistical arrangements for the coming third round of high level talks, which we expect to be held in early July. We expect some further -- some follow-up conversations after the meeting today, probably by telephone, and we expect that both governments very shortly in each capital will announce the formal date of the high level talks.
Q Does "logistical arrangements" mean an agenda as well? That sounds like agreement on what should be --
MR. McCURRY: My understanding is that there was no extensive discussion of agenda, because I think both sides are in large agreement already on the nature of the agenda. We have suggested that there should be a broad and thorough dialogue. The DPRK has suggested that they are interested in what they often term a "package solution." I think both sides have a common understanding of the elements that could be included in that type of dialogue.
Q Where is Bob Gallucci, and what has he reported?
MR. McCURRY: He is returning now from Vienna. He had very productive meetings at the International Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna, consulted with IAEA officials, including Director General Blix, on aspects of the current effort by the IAEA to assure continuity of safeguards at the Yongbyon facility, and he also had a chance to explore with IAEA officials aspects of the coming third round of high level talks.
Q On the logistics side, it seems unlikely that all these issues can be worked out in a very short period of time. Are you expecting that there will be a series of meetings? And how long is Gallucci going to go and meet for in this first meeting?
MR. McCURRY: I think he is willing to tack for an extended stay in.
Q Is the idea to try to do it all in one negotiation, or to start a process where he would come back here?
MR. McCURRY: It is not known. I think that they will, as they have in the past, set out the arrangements for the first sessions, and then they will see during the course of those first sessions where the dialogue goes.
Q Is there any thought being given to bringing in at some point representatives of other interested governments into the talks? Are these going to be strictly bilateral?
MR. McCURRY: I haven't heard anything of that nature. This is a bilateral discussion, as I understand it, but I haven't seen a complete report on how the dialogue might proceed. But, as I say, I understand that the discussion today was logistic and was very positive and didn't seem to be very complicated. They were just working out procedural matters so that they could formally announce the date of the third round very shortly.
Q Will it include anybody else on Gallucci's rank or higher?
MR. McCURRY: He has been our lead negotiator --
MR. McCURRY: -- and my understanding is that he would be expected to be the head of the U.S. delegation.
Q Will anybody else from the U.S. Government of an equal rank or higher take part at any point that you know?
MR. McCURRY: Not that I understand at this point, no.
Q So you're expecting an announcement today?
MR. McCURRY: It depends on how -- both sides are checking back on just some purely logistical things. It's not too complicated, and in fact it's as mundane as questions like, "Since they might meet over a weekend, which side stays open over a weekend?" It's that type of question, so I think that they're going to get into who gets to pay overtime, I guess. But that type of thing, they need to check back and forth, and if they can be in a position to announce that today, they will, but the announcement will coincide in both capitals.
Q I wanted to ask you what will be the position of the United States about the South African nuclear program, because the new government is saying that they are going to compete with other countries as far as weapons are concerned. Now, if they revive their nuclear program, what are you going to --
MR. McCURRY: I'm sorry. Whose program?
Q The South African.
MR. McCURRY: Everything I've seen would indicate that that's contrary to the position that they have taken in discussions, and there have been certain representations they've made to the world community regarding that program. This dates to the prior government, of course, but I'm not aware that they have made any indications of that kind. I would have to go back and see specifically what you're referring to.
Q Mike, as you probably know, the Vice President of Bosnia is in town and testified yesterday before the Armed Services Committee. He's lobbying essentially for a lifting of the arms embargo. Two questions: I understand the past U.S. policy. Does it remain that the United States would oppose lifting of the embargo under any foreseeable circumstances?
MR. McCURRY: We would oppose --
Q You would oppose the lifting of the embargo, the arms embargo for Bosnia or Yugoslavia?
MR. McCURRY: No, I don't believe that's been our position. The United States has taken a view that there have been negative consequences as a result of the United Nations arms embargo on the former Yugoslavia that have affected most specifically the Bosnian Government, and our position on that is, I think, very well known.
But in the context of where we are now, as the Contact Group moves towards a settlement and as the Contact Group considers what type of consequences might arise if either side does not agree to a reasonable political settlement that had been proposed by the Contact Group, I wouldn't want to state flat out that the arms embargo is something that wouldn't be in the picture in that type of discussion.
Q At this delicate point in the proceedings, do you consider it helpful of him to come to Washington to lobby?
MR. McCURRY: Our discussions with the Bosnian Government are going to be directed via the work that the Contact Group has been doing. They meet again in Paris next week. That is the path -- I went through a lot of this yesterday -- that's the path that's available that could bring an end to the war in Bosnia and can bring about a peace settlement.
And, as I said yesterday, there are aspects of raising or lifting the arms embargo that move in exactly the opposite direction, move towards greater fighting, greater confrontation on the ground, and move away from any likelihood that this war would come to an end. I mean, that's where matters stand.
Q Could you confirm another story in the Washington Times that Iran is sending arms to the region through Croatia?
MR. McCURRY: No, I can't.
Q Can you say it's not so?
MR. McCURRY: No, I can't.
Q A statement two weeks ago in a similar story appeared. It said, yes, arms were going from Iran and from Malaysia and possibly another country, but that there was no particular increase in it; that there had been some deliveries in the past, and Mr. Ganic today said the borders are guarded and the NATO planes are overhead, and they pick up some Yugoslav weapons, but they don't get these weapons. I don't know, do you? I mean, has it changed since two weeks ago?
MR. McCURRY: No.
Q Do you know of any new deliveries? Is the U.S. aware of new deliveries to the Bosnian Government -- Croatia or not Croatia as the vehicle?
MR. McCURRY: I would have to check.
Q One of the things you seem to be sort of inadvertently and very indirectly confirming is another part of that story, and that is that the United States knows it's going on but it's winking at it.
MR. McCURRY: I did not do that. Did you see me go like that (wink)? (Laughter) I didn't go like that.
MR. McCURRY: Listen, it's the policy of the United States to respect the U.N. arms embargo that's in place on the former Yugoslavia. We believe that the U.N. Security Council embargo is important, and that it should be fully respected.
Q Can you then deny the story, Mr. Gertz's story, that tacit approval --
MR. McCURRY: Anybody have a copy? I didn't look at it that carefully, to be honest with you.
Q Can we put this thing to rest some way?
MR. McCURRY: There have been press accounts. This is only the most recent press account about arms transfers that have occurred into Bosnia. What we know about them frequently comes from sources that I can't describe to you here because they involve intelligence matters that we are not allowed to discuss in public.
Q On that same subject but slightly different, the Serbs have published the alleged map that is going to be presented to both sides by the Contact Group.
MR. McCURRY: They've published a map that is going to be presented that they might get at some point.
Q They've published a map that they say is the plan that's going to be presented.
MR. McCURRY: It's their guess at what the proposal might look like?
Q And most of the people I've talked to said, yes, it's about right. I mean, the people on the Muslim side say it's about right, and I understand that you all have a copy of that map, and I wish I had it here to show. But it really shows a very, very chopped up country, and I'm just wondering if the United States, taking a look at that map, and is really genuinely -- genuinely believes that a country like that can continue to be viable.
MR. McCURRY: We genuinely believe that the work of the Contact Group can lead to a peace agreement that will allow reconciliation and reconstruction in Bosnia, and we genuinely believe that in the absence of that type of settlement the war is likely to get worse and more people are going to die, and the fighting will continue. That's what we believe.
Q The U.S. is still committed to sending the troops necessary to enforce, or at least -- that agreement?
MR. McCURRY: There has not been a change of our view that the United States would be willing to participate in the implementation of a settlement that both parties in good faith are implementing.
Q It's been reported that the U.S. Government -- in the Miami Herald -- that the U.S. Government has confirmed that the Cali Cartel contributed to the campaign of the President-elect of Colombia, and, if so, if that is the case, what is the position of the U.S. on that?
MR. McCURRY: It's not my understanding that we have confirmed that in any sense, because I believe that that's something that were looking into, that we are investigating, and the Government of Colombia itself is investigating those allegations, and we expect that there should be a full and prompt investigation of those types of allegations that can lead to some understanding of what the truth is.
Q If I may follow up, there was a meeting between the U.S. Ambassador to Colombia and the President-elect. Do you know what came out of that meeting?
MR. McCURRY: Yes. They met, I believe, at President- elect Sampas' request. The President-elect outlined policies he hopes to pursue as President. The issue of the taped conversations that you just made a reference to and allegations of some links between his presidential campaign and drug trafficking organizations were discussed during the course of the meeting.
Ambassador Busby reiterated that the United States remains seriously concerned over these alleged links, and that we consider continued close counter-narcotics cooperation between our two countries to be essential in combating the drug trafficking and addressing problems that have been created by that type of narco-trafficking.
Q And if these allegations are true, will the U.S. press for the President-elect to resign?
MR. McCURRY: Let's find out whether they're true first.
Q Can we do Haiti?
MR. McCURRY: Go.
Q There have been stories about the U.S.-sponsored broadcasts to the Haitian people. Could you tell us what your understanding is about that situation?
MR. McCURRY: George, I don't have anything new on that. They've never, to my knowledge, said yes, we're going to do these broadcasts. What they have said is what we have said is that we are responding to a request from President Aristide to provide assistance, so that he can establish direct communications with the citizens of Haiti, and we've continued those discussions with President Aristide about how we can cooperate to institute some type of radio broadcasting to the Haitian people through a means that would not be subject to the editorial control of the de facto regime.
Q Mike, are the reports true in the paper this morning that Aristide asked you not to broadcast the message that people shouldn't flee the island, and that we have agreed not to do that from a psychological operations assets but to do it through other means?
MR. McCURRY: I don't know what type of discussions that they've had specifically on that. I know that they just have not reached any final agreement on if and how they will actually do those radio broadcasts.
Q Has there been some improvement in the border control?
MR. McCURRY: There has been some improvement, but it's still not sufficient, and there needs to be some work done to address the question of how you tighten up those sanctions. As you all know, this is the end of the period in which some of the new sanctions were held in abeyance to see if there had been any response from the military leadership in Haiti. There has not been, so we expect tonight a ban on regularly scheduled passenger flights to take effect, and there is ongoing work to tighten up the sanctions enforcement along the border. We covered some of that, I believe, yesterday. There are steps that we believe can be taken to assist the Dominican Republic in better and more effectively monitoring that.
There's work that can be done, too, to address some of the issues about out-migration of population. On the radio broadcasting, there was one aspect of that -- we have been -- not through the proposed radio broadcasts involving President Aristide -- but we have been seeking to communicate more effectively to the people of Haiti that there are ways in which they can seek to immigrate to the United States, using the facilities that exist within their country; and there has been a marked increase in the percentage of people who have been successfully applying for refugee status through our in-country processing centers in Haiti. I think that significance probably is a result of a lot of work that is going on between human rights organizations, non-governmental organizations and the people who are doing the processing on the ground.
But our message has been, I think, very clear, that it's far preferable to use that avenue that's available for immigration than to seek the dangerous means of going out to sea and winding up having to be processed through the facilities that we've arranged in Jamaica and elsewhere.
Q How marked is the increase?
MR. McCURRY: How marked is the increase?
MR. McCURRY: Let's see. Prior to March, roughly the rate of people coming in, the number who were getting approval for refugee status, was roughly six to seven percent, and in March it rose to about 11 percent; in April it went to 19 percent, and in recent weeks the approval rate has risen to over 30 percent. That approval rate is obviously much higher than what we've seen so far in coming off the ship, coming off the Comfort.
We attribute the increase, as I said, to our efforts to work more closely with human rights groups and others. We suspect, too, that the Haitian people themselves understand what the requirements are, and that those who feel that they face some real danger are the ones that are most determined to take the opportunity to go into the in-processing -- in- country processing centers that exist.
So we think there has probably been some self-selection as well that might account for the increase.
Q (Inaudible) same types of percentages from the (inaudible)?
MR. McCURRY: I don't have percentages. I've got the total numbers as of the date. By the way, I'll do the total numbers on the in-country program. Since it began in February 1992, they've received approximately 58,400 preliminary questionnaires -- 58,400. Obviously, it has been the case, most of the people do not meet even the preliminary requirements, so they're screened out of the program. But the INS then goes on and interviews those who are determined to be priority cases, where they feel there might be a reasonable expectation that the standard of well-founded fear of persecution exists, and they have interviewed of that total number approximately 17,000. Then from those priority cases that they've looked at, of the 17,000, 3,827 have been approved for refugee status, to date 2,751 of whom have already arrived here in the United States. Twelve thousand nine hundred persons have been denied refugee status.
To date on the Comfort, I think there were five small boats interdicted yesterday, so that we've added some. These are higher numbers than, I think, what we went through yesterday, but there are now a total 363 Haitians who have been interdicted and 289 of those have now been taken to the Comfort for processing. Of that 289, 194 have completed processing; 52 have been approved for refugee status, and 142 have been denied.
Thirty-three of the approved refugees have been flown to Guantanamo Naval Base for final processing, and most of those who have been denied have been repatriated or are awaiting repatriation.
Q Do you have any idea what's happening to people who are being returned? Reports that not just the organizers are being hassled.
MR. McCURRY: My understanding is we've attempted through the Embassy in Port-au-Prince to make sure we do some follow-up on those cases. We're not aware of problems that people have encountered upon return, but we are, I think, working with some of the human rights groups to make sure that those who are returned have not encountered any difficulty; and clearly we would follow up on any reports that someone had faced any type of difficulty upon return.
Q Mike, a quick follow-up on numbers.
MR. McCURRY: Maybe we can do something to kind of run through these or post these so that they're available.
Q Okay. There was just one discrepancy. You said 363 Haitians have been interdicted since the Comfort has been up and running.
MR. McCURRY: Right.
Q And only 289 have been taken to the Comfort.
MR. McCURRY: Right.
Q What happened to the others?
MR. McCURRY: I think the remainder are awaiting transfer, too.
Q I mean, everybody's going to the Comfort, right?
MR. McCURRY: They're all going eventually. Remember, there were 74 more who were added yesterday, so some of these maybe just haven't been calculated in on the Comfort total.
Q That's 74 --
MR. McCURRY: But they will all be taken to the Comfort.
Q Do you have anything on four Dominican military officers being stripped of their U.S. visas because of -- I don't know -- complicity with smuggling or something like that?
MR. McCURRY: No, I don't. I have not heard about that.
Q Mike, the State Department is going to have an instant reaction to the Amnesty report, saying they had to study it. Has State had a chance now over the last two or three days to come up with some --
MR. McCURRY: Barry, you know, they did, and I had something on it yesterday and didn't bring it in with me today. We can have someone get it for you. It was a fairly general, not a very specific, assessment.
Q Can I go to Haiti? President Aristide said last night that 46 to 48 tons of cocaine have been transshipped via Haiti since the coup. Does that square with anything you have?
MR. McCURRY: I can't confirm that number, George, but we have in the past -- you've heard the President and others say that our concerns about drug trafficking and the involvement of the Haitian military leadership, or alleged involvement, is something that is of great concern to us and represents one of our significant interests at stake in addressing this problem.
Q Do you know if that is true, I mean, how that compares to, say, how much comes through Colombia or other transshipment points?
MR. McCURRY: Don't know.
Q I mean, the point has often been made that Haiti is not a major transshipment point.
MR. McCURRY: I think it is accurate to say compared to other sources of trafficking and other avenues, it is not proportionately as significant. I think we would acknowledge that. But in that number, I'm not sure how that number compares to total volume of traffic, but it would be good to check with some of the folks up in Gelbard's shop and see if they can give you any more detail on that.
I'll give Charlie a chance and then we'll work over here. Charlie.
Q Back to Haiti and the numbers, first of all, has anything started on the Turks and Caicos? Have you had a date when that might be up?
MR. McCURRY: I haven't. They were working out some details on that and Representative Gray was pursuing some other discussions, too, within the region, but I can't remember. We had something indicated that they were nearing some final agreement on how they were going to do the work in Turks and Caicos Island. I don't have that here, but we've got an answer to that fishing around somewhere.
Q And, secondly, in terms of follow-up on the numbers, generally speaking, that are coming to the Comfort, are they perceived to be smaller than expected, and is there any talk about the need for a second ship?
MR. McCURRY: I don't really have an assessment of whether that volume represents what we had expected. We are clearly, as you may have gathered, from what I was saying earlier, trying to do things to discourage any increase in that traffic.
Q Mike, while (inaudible) are continuing and people coming in, being admitted, do you expect that trend line -- it looks like (inaudible).
MR. McCURRY: We would hope that the trend line would be down. Obviously, we would hope that people would understand that the best avenue that's available is the avenue that we've established within the country, because it's the safest way and the surest way of getting an expedited review. Going out into a boat and putting yourself at great risk might be a good way not getting to the destination you seek.
Q Mike, but the fact that 30 percent now are being admitted for -- or given refugee status, and that is growing, isn't that encouragement enough to sort of -- for people to - - for an increase in the flow of refugees or boat people?
MR. McCURRY: Is that --
Q It seems to me that that itself would encourage folks --
MR. McCURRY: We hope it will encourage people to use the facilities available in the country at Les Cayes and Cap Hatien, because the record now that they're developing at that site is something that I think would suggest to people who are interested in exploring the prospects of applying for refugee status, that they might have better opportunities if they used the facilities that exist in-country rather than trying to take off in a boat.
Q Mike, just on the question of the trend line, you mentioned that one of the theories you all have for why the percentage for getting accepted is going up is that you're working better with human rights groups. Do you mean that you're working better with human rights groups and now you better understand the dangers that they're in, or you're working with human rights groups and they're helping you make the Haitians understand what they need to --
MR. McCURRY: I think they're in a position to help counsel those who feel they might have a well-founded fear of persecution and helping in a sense to -- our assumption is in many cases they're telling folks, "Listen, if you're immigrating for economic reasons, you're not going to present a viable case. But based on what you're telling us, it sounds like you are the type of person who might qualify for refugee status," and I think that's helping to in a sense self-select those who might have a better chance of making it through the application process.
Q But, I mean, they presumably have been in that position all along.
MR. McCURRY: I don't know. I think that we've done a better job working with them so that they understand what the criteria is, too. I think the INS looks at this in a very straightforward manner and evaluates the facts that exist in each individual case.
Q On another subject --
MR. McCURRY: Let me go back to Turks and Caicos. We do anticipate that the processing center on Grand Turk and the Turks and Caicos Island won't be operational in early July, but we don't have a firm date. But they are proceeding as rapidly as they can to establish a processing center, and they've got folks from the Defense Department who are on the ground now working on the construction of the center that they're going to use at Turks and Caicos.
Q Mike, for those who follow your advice and stay on the island and apply for refugee status and who are ultimately granted that status, how are you going to get them off after (inaudible).
MR. McCURRY: The responsibility to take those who are granted refugee status within those centers and then take them off is something that falls within the purview of the International Organization on Migration, and they will organize whatever activity they feel best. I mean, I suspect they could put together a charter or whatever they would do, but the IOM is the group that we work with in that case to help transship folks who have been approved for refugee status.
Q What if the Haitian Government doesn't allow flights in?
MR. McCURRY: Well, they would --
Q Or has that come up yet even?
MR. McCURRY: That's a bigger world to hurt than the one they already face.
Q Yemen. You heard a statement hours ago, you know, you're at the brink of asking for U.N. action if the fighting continues. Any change in that status?
MR. McCURRY: No. We put that out earlier. We remain very concerned about the situation around Aden.
Q Actually, I have a question about Yemen. The statement that came out yesterday was the strongest -- came out from the State Department -- asking north Yemen to hold attacks on Aden. Is the Administration concerned that Aden might fall?
MR. McCURRY: I think the statement is a reflection of how serious the situation is and how serious we take it, yes.
Q You're coming down pretty hard on one side. Is it because of the attack on civilians, or has State made a judgment that the northerners are the Serbs of Yemen, or something?
MR. McCURRY: No, I wouldn't suggest that we have come down on one side, because I think that we do recognize that this has to be addressed by both sides working to achieve the cease-fire that's called for in the U.N. Security Council resolution. But it's clear what the pattern of fighting is and the danger that does exist now to civilians in Aden.
Q What would be the next step if they don't hold the attacks on Aden?
MR. McCURRY: As our statement indicates, we believe it would require urgent Security Council consideration, and certainly that would be the next place we would go.
Q Besides this statement, what is the U.S. doing to help the situation? You've sort of described calls that Christopher made. National Security Council people were over here to have a meeting today.
MR. McCURRY: There have been a lot of discussions within the government between the NSC and the State Department. There have been bilateral consultations with other governments in the region as well, and again I would say they reflect the seriousness and urgency of the matter.
Q Mike, on the Cyprus issue, all the Western countries blame the Turkish Cypriot leader, Mr. Denktash, about his approach to bilateral meetings. But this time he said that he is ready to sign the U.N. confidence-building measures. On the contrary, the Greek side is (inaudible). They don't want to sign this agreement. The last time the U.S. put a lot of pressure on Mr. Denktash, and what is now the position of the U.S. Government?
MR. McCURRY: Our position is the one that the Secretary stated when he had an opportunity to address it publicly in Istanbul, but we think the confidence-building measures could be enormously useful in advancing the dialogue, and we have urged both parties to proceed with those confidence-building measures.
Q I believe PLO officials are either having talks today or scheduled to have talks at the World Bank on the subject of freeing up some of the aid that has been promised, actually getting that money into their hands.
Are there talks along those same lines with PLO officials either taking place here or planned for here, and what is your view at this point in terms of making more of the money actually available to the PLO?
MR. McCURRY: There are talks. It's Abu Allah who has been here, and he has met with a whole range of people in our government. His office here has got a better sense of his schedule, but he has met with, among others, Under Secretary Spero, Ambassador Ross, Assistant Secretary Pelletreau. He's met with some other folks from our Economic Bureau, from AID, from Treasury. In fact, most of the morning and probably early again next week, we'll have discussions with him, and all of them are aimed at the same thing -- (1) how to make more effective the flow of international assistance to the Palestinians as they begin the serious work of implementing aspects of the Declaration; and then (2) how to accelerate some of the funds coming from the donor community to take care of the most urgent needs.
So there's been a lot of costs involved with starting up the operation that exists in Gaza and Jericho, and in fact the fund that was established -- the whole fund that was established to actually address some of those startup costs is something that we've encouraged countries to contribute to on an expedited basis and take some of their pledges that grew out of the October 1993 Donor Conference here and shift them into something that can be expedited towards delivery.
So we are addressing that. But again I would stress that we've made it clear to the Palestinians that they have responsibilities, too, in terms of providing the right types of structures and the right type of organizational efficiency that can use these funds effectively.
Q Where will the U.S. AID office be set up to regulate or to control the flow of assistance?
MR. McCURRY: I don't have any different answer than the one I gave last week.
Q Did you give one last week?
MR. McCURRY: Yes.
Q You hadn't decided last week?
MR. McCURRY: They were still working out administrative details. AID was still discussing that.
Q When you do this, will you take into account the Congressmen who don't want you to set up in East Jerusalem?
MR. McCURRY: We'll take into account a wide variety of factors.
Q (Inaudible) East Jerusalem -- is that still an option?
MR. McCURRY: I went through this all last week, Barry.
Q A quick one on that. Prime Minister Rabin also (inaudible) publicly asked -- he said donors should not set up donor offices in East Jerusalem, sort of is that going to be ground --
MR. McCURRY: I got tortured on this last week. We're not going to do it again.
Q Okay. And here's the main question. (Inaudible) So the bottom line is the U.S. is not prepared to release any of its donor money yet to the PLO.
MR. McCURRY: No, that's not true at all. In fact, through the Holst Fund, we have already released, I think, at least -- I mean, we've done the numbers on this, Sid, several times. We reoriented $10 million out of our overall commitment of $100 million to the Holst Fund. I'm sorry. That's an additional $10 million on top of the $10 million that we had already put into the Holst Fund.
I don't have all the rundown now, but a lot of the funding -- some of the funding -- we went through some of the funding numbers, I think, a while back, but I know NEA has got them, and you can get them from them. But we've already put money in for some of the startup processes.
Q Well, that's why -- you know, that's why the question is coming up, because everything you've said suggests let's get on with it, let's everybody get on with it. Let the (inaudible), let the donations, let the World Bank, let the U.S. all get their act together, there is a serious problem here, and yet you don't, (inaudible) doesn't know where it's office is going -- where AID's office is going to be.
MR. McCURRY: I guess my point is --
Q Where do they get the money?
MR. McCURRY: -- the work is going on, and the people are in place who are helping out. You know, where we are going to sign a lease for an office building where some people can work there. You know, they are working on that. They are working on that. That has not interfered with out ability to move the assistance to where it's needed.
Q Mike, a question on Algeria. The Algerian Foreign Minister was in town this week. Can you tell me what discussions the Administration had with him, specifically on the point of the possibility of Islamic groups playing a part in the government?
MR. McCURRY: This is the Algerian Foreign Minister Dembri. He met with both Secretary Christopher and Assistant Secretary for Near Eastern Affairs, Robert Pelletreau. They had very good discussions in which the Secretary was able to express the concern that we have over ongoing violence in Algeria.
We reiterated our abhorrence of the atrocities and human rights abuses which have been committed there in recent months, and we also discussed in detail with the Foreign Minister our view that the best chance for achieving stability in a more democratic system in Algeria lies in broadening the base of the government, through a policy of inclusion and dialogue with all elements willing to eschew violence and terrorism.
Q Can you tell me what his response was? I mean, are the Algerians looking hard at the possibility of bringing in Islamic groups to play some sort of governing role?
MR. McCURRY: There was discussion on the point. I would let the government of Algeria to characterize its views on that. I would say that they did describe for us a program of economic reform that they believe will be, will help enhance the economic and political rights of the people of Algeria. But I would leave it to them to characterize how they responded to our view that in the context of political reform broadening the base of participation would be an important step.
Q But you would not -- the U.S. would exclude, or would have excluded from the government groups that are associated with this violence, which is -- I was going to also ask you about the toll, which is extraordinary.
MR. McCURRY: I would make it clear that our problems are with extremism and terrorism, not with Islamic fundamentalism, and that those who are committed to a course of violence and terrorism have no part in the political dialogue and in broadening that political dialogue.
Q Do you have any credible figures? Does State happen to have -- you know, per day there is just an extraordinary number of assassinations of lawyers, doctors, to try to eliminate the middle class.
MR. McCURRY: We are well aware of those reports. I know that we have -- I don't know that we've got specific numbers, but we certainly are very, very concerned about the reports we heard of the violence and the abuses taking place.
Q I have a question that would apply to this subject, for example. Who involved in the terrorism and the violence cannot enter the political dialogue in Turkey?
MR. McCURRY: Well, I think in the case of whatever government we are dealing with when we have contacts with those who are in political life, the dialogue occurs on a case-by-case basis. In many cases, it's the individual people who we can talk to and reach out to and establish contact with, and individual people who can then participate in a broader political dialogue. And the important thing is, what is the disposition of those individuals and are they part of activity that is terroristic or violent in its nature.
Q So the Administration is not going to heed the French request passed mostly to the President Clinton by President Mitterrand to stop meddling in Algeria.
MR. McCURRY: Well, the two Presidents discussed that. They addressed that, and I think we share some common objectives about what's going on in Algeria, and both Presidents had a lot to say on that issue.
Q Yes, but this meeting took place since that meeting when Mitterrand asked President Clinton specifically to stop meddling with Algeria. Now, I guess it is your response that you are not going to heed the French call?
MR. McCURRY: I don't describe the meeting we held as meddling.
Q Could I ask a question about drug trafficking? There was one report earlier this week that said that the President is seeking legislation to resolve this problem about tracking northbound drug trafficking flights, and there was another report this morning which said it is a done deal, and legislation is not to pass.
MR. McCURRY: It's not a done deal in the sense that the legislation has passed or any sense like that. I mean, there are -- we are seeking two things. We are seeking interim agreements with the governments of Colombia and Peru that would address the concerns that do exist within domestic and international law that would allow us to permit -- would allow us to resume some of the counter-narcotics cooperation that we have. But then the second issue is, what can we achieve as a legislative remedy in Congress that would allow us to permit some intelligence sharing and assistance to Colombia and Peru, and we hope that Congress will act on that legislation as soon as possible.
We have sent that to Congress earlier this week, I believe, if I am not mistaken. And we do believe that the approach together or work with the governments in question and the legislative remedy that we need would allow us to cooperate closely with both countries to stop drug smuggling twice and permit a very limited exception to the principle that we acknowledge is absolutely just protection for civil aviation.
Q But could we have gone back and just started doing it prior to Congress's answer?
MR. McCURRY: No.
Q You know, decided to do it, whatever Congress says it has decided to do.
MR. McCURRY: No. It's discontinued and the intelligence-sharing and the assistance that we are providing was discontinued, and we are trying to work with both governments to determine, you know, what they can do with us that would allow, you know, some type of cooperation to continue.
But that would have to be done entirely consistent with existing national and international law.
Q In the interim?
MR. McCURRY: In the interim.
Q You referred to this interim agreement. What would be made of -- what would be the subject of the interim agreement? Would it be an assurance they would not use this information, to be shut down.'
MR. McCURRY: It depends on how the discussions go with each country. They would have to have some very specific understanding about what type of cooperation would be consistent with existing U.S. law? And I know that Assistant Secretary Gelbard was down there recently, has had some discussions with them. I don't think that they have hammered out any type of final agreement on that, but we are interested in pursuing that.
Q So this is being done under your interpretation of the law. What assurances do you understand that you will need from them in order to be able to resume the intelligence- sharing?
MR. McCURRY: Very precise ones.
Q What means -- saying what substantively?
MR. McCURRY: Well, I don't want to -- I am not going to go through the negotiation right here. They have to be precise, but less precise than I'm going to be here.
Q There's a question back there he's been trying to get in.
MR. McCURRY: Yes.
Q Quickly on Korea --
MR. McCURRY: Thank you, Barry.
Q -- I have been waiting for a long time. Judging from your remarks in the opening, could we interpret that this Administration is placing exactly the equal importance on the past as the placing on the future and the present? That means that both of these are conditional on the overall resolution of (inaudible)?
I ask this because if North Korea tries to put these two things on the trade-off situations, what should be the United States' position?
MR. McCURRY: It's an interesting question, but it takes you straight into the type of dialogue that might occur in the third round, which I can't do and won't do. But there is something behind the question, I think, which I can address.
Our goal has been and will remain a non-nuclear Korean peninsula. And I think in achieving that goal, understanding the past history of the program, and making good on the commitments that the DPRK has given us for a basis for the current dialogue, are both important in reaching that goal.
So I guess the best way to say it is that you, in resolving those questions in the past, is certainly the only way we can know that we have achieved our goal for a non- nuclear peninsula.
Q Thank you.,
MR. McCURRY: You're welcome.
(The briefing concluded at l:55 p.m.)
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