Wednesday, 7/6/94 U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE DAILY PRESS BRIEFING JULY 6, 1994 U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE DAILY PRESS BRIEFING I N D E X Wednesday, July 6, 1994 Briefers: David Colson Christine Shelly US OCEANS POLICY Opening Remarks by Ambassador David Colson ..... 1-4 Manganese Nodules ............................... 4-5 Deep Sea Mining/Environmental Issues ............ 5-6 Financing ....................................... 6-7 Salmon Treaty ................................... 7-9 Conservation of Fisheries ....................... 9-10 HAITI Safe Havens/Time Limit ..........................11,14,17-24 Boatpeople Interdicted/Processed/Refugee Status . 12-16,20 Funding of Migrant Activities ................... 16-17 Sanctions/Impact ................................ 18-19 US Broadcasts ................................... 19-22 Safety of Americans ............................. 22-23 GREECE Assassination of Turkish Diplomat ............... 24 NORTH KOREA Third Round of Talks with US .................... 24-26 Reports of Efforts to Buy Nuclear Technology from Russia ........................................ 26-27 RUSSIA Security of Nuclear Weapons/Technology .......... 27 Organized Crime/FBI Director's Visit ............ 27-28 BOSNIA Contact Group Meeting in Geneva .................. 28-30
DEPARTMENT OF STATE DAILY PRESS BRIEFING
WEDNESDAY, JULY 6, 1994, 1:10 P. M. (ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED)
MS. SHELLY: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. I'm pleased to introduce Ambassador David Colson who is here today to speak with you about the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea and the resumption of talks with the Canadian Government concerning the U.S.-Canada Pacific Salmon Treaty.
Ambassador Colson has worked for the State Department since 1975 when he began in the Legal Adviser's Office as an Attorney-Adviser, specializing in environmental, scientific and ocean issues.
During his career, he has been both a participant and head of delegation to numerous bilateral and multilateral ocean and fisheries negotiations, including Law of the Sea Conference and the Antarctic Treaty meetings.
He has been a member of the United States side of the Pacific Salmon Commission since 1986.
Since 1990, he has been Deputy Assistant Secretary for Oceans and Fisheries, and he holds the rank of Ambassador for Oceans in the Bureau of Oceans, International Environmental and Scientific Affairs.
I'd also like to note the presence in the room with us today of Wes Scholz over here against the wall, the Department's negotiator on seabed mining.
Ambassador Colson will make some brief opening remarks, after which he will take your questions on the Law of the Sea, Pacific Salmon or any other topics that fall within his portfolio.
Following our usual practice, I will take questions on other subjects following Ambassador Colson. Thank you very much.
AMBASSADOR COLSON: Thank you. I appreciate the opportunity to talk to you about some issues of interest to me, really the Department's role in the implementation of the United States' oceans policy.
Later this month, on the 29th of July, at a resumed session of the General Assembly in New York, there will be signed something that is entitled the "Agreement Relating to the Implementation of Part 11 of the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea." Part 11 of the Law of the Sea Convention is the part of the convention that relates to deep seabed mining, and by deep seabed mining, we're talking about the mining of minerals resources on the seabed beyond national jurisdiction.
The Secretary last week announced that the United States will sign this agreement which opens the way for the United States to consider in the Senate the complete Law of the Sea Convention, including that part which is unrelated to seabed mining and this part that has been fixed in most recent negotiations.
The United States has had since the 60s, really, an objective of having a widely ratified Law of the Sea Convention that the United States could support. We have always sought to have a constitution for the oceans that governed really all aspects of oceans use that would be widely shared around the world to basically set the framework and the guidelines and the ground rules for the way that the international community deals with oceans issues.
In the third United Nations Conference on the Law of the Sea which began during the Nixon Administration, we set out upon this task, and the result was a 320-article, nine annex treaty. It is undoubtedly the most complex international instrument that has ever been negotiated that basically governs how states act in the oceans.
During that negotiation, one part of that negotiating process got off track, and that was the part that related to the mining of the mineral resources of the deep seabed. It was that part of the convention that at the end of the Carter Administration then-Ambassador Eliot Richardson in his final report to Congress indicated that that part of the convention as it then stood was unacceptable to the United States. The Reagan Administration made clear it was unacceptable to the United States, and President Reagan decided that we would not sign the convention which was concluded over the vote of the United States. We voted against the conclusion of those negotiations, because this seabed mining provision had not been fixed.
In 1983, President Reagan decided that the United States as a policy matter would support all of the other parts of the Law of the Sea Convention, and we would continue to work to try to fix that part of the Convention relating to deep seabed mining. Over the course of the last ten years, really, there has been an ongoing effort to see if some reform of Part 11 could be made.
This effort began to grow in strength around 1990, with the Secretary General, then Perez de Cuellar, taking the issue on in New York, bringing a small group of negotiators together to begin to see if the waning of the Cold War, the turn to free- market principles by a number of developing countries, created the conditions under which they would be willing to consider changes in Part 11. Those negotiations have continued growing in strength, involving more and more parties, until just a few weeks ago there was a conclusion to those negotiations and one which the Administration has found to be acceptable.
I'd like to remind you of the many kinds of provisions that are contained in the Convention that are of benefit to the United States. You can basically consider any aspect of ocean use, whether it is the use of the oceans for garbage disposal to fishing practices in the ocean to the way that telephone cables might be laid on the seabed, to the way that we navigate submarines through straits. All of these are contained -- all of the rules and the framework for dealing with these issues are all laid out in the Convention; and generally, as I said, even in 1982, we determined that all of those provisions except for seabed mining were acceptable to the United States, and we would act in a manner consistent with them, without even at that time being party to the Convention.
But more recently, we did say then that we would not abide by the deep seabed mining part. All of the rest of the industrialized world stayed with us on that. There is no industrialized country that is a party to the Convention at the present time, and now we do believe that it has been fixed -- this Part 11.
Let me just mention a few of the details -- I don't want to go into a large number of them -- but the standards that we objected to in '82 related to the -- we thought that the way the mining regime was structured in this part that it would deter the development of mineral resources. We thought that the decision-making structure that was created for making decisions about mining operations did not give us the kind of voice that we thought we were entitled to. We thought that the structure would allow amendments to the regime that could be implemented and bind the United States over our objections. There were mandatory provisions for technology transfer that we objected to, and many elements of that character.
The kind of result that we have achieved is really, I think, far-reaching and particularly for those of us that spend a lot of time in negotiations, you often end up with a lot of sort of fuzzy finesses when you get into difficult situations like this.
I think if anybody takes the time to look at this new agreement, you will see that there are very clean solutions to a lot of very difficult, intractable problems. There are solutions that simply say that this provision no longer exists. No production limitations. Production limitations on deep seabed mining had been a problem. There are no production limits anymore.
There had been an annual fee that miners had to pay that related to even during the exploration stage. That is gone.
The bureaucracy is going to be kept small that will regulate deep seabed mining, basically because the United States will participate in the committee that will control the decision-making about the financing of this operation.
The United States is given a seat on what's called the Council, the executive body which we did not have before. We will be able, together with our allies, to control the decision-making process. The technology transfer provisions have been removed or made otherwise acceptable to us, and our firms that do have mining licenses with the United States have been grandfathered in, and their interests will be protected under this new arrangement.
So we look forward to signing it at the end of the month and to submitting it early to the Senate for advice and consent. We would expect to try to get it up to the Senate before they go out this year for early consideration next year.
I'd be happy to answer any other questions on this or any other oceans related topic.
Q Thank you, Ambassador. Could you review for us, what has been done since the treaties of the Seventies since the Nixon years? There was in the early Seventies a great interest in mining manganese nodules. Have there been any efforts to prove the economics of this deep-sea mining up to this point, or are they still waiting for this Clause 11 to be negotiated?
Also, has it proven to be an economic venture? And what else besides manganese nodules is now currently of interest in the deep sea?
AMBASSADOR COLSON: As often as the case, there was a lot of enthusiasm in the Sixties and early Seventies about these manganese nodules and there were many people that thought that if the wealth associated with the development of those resources could be shared around the world, everybody would become wealthy. That, of course, was an unrealistic expectation at the time.
Also, another thing that occurred about the time during the negotiations, the price of the metals that are in these manganese nodules -- there essentially four key metals -- began to drop. There is still a very large supply of these metals from land-based sources. The need to develop minerals from the deep- sea bed began to decline. The market wasn't there and the cost of production was very high.
Technology has continued to develop in this area, but the metals market is such that no one is predicting an early commercial exploitation stage. There's still some exploratory work going on in this area, but there isn't really a substantial expectation that within the next 10 or 15 years there will be any sort of commercial recovery off of the deep-sea bed of these minerals.
Q I see. Then there hasn't been any pilot work done that has proven economic at a certain threshold?
AMBASSADOR COLSON: I would have to take the specific question. There has been early exploration done and there has been a lot of studies. Exactly the way you pose the question, I can't answer that.
Q Are there any environmental safeguards in place as part of this, without production limits or fees to miners or a big bureaucracy? Are we going to plunder our seabed and wreck the ecology down there?
AMBASSADOR COLSON: That's a very real concern. First, we have our own national law that relates to U.S. companies that might engage in deep-sea bed mining and there are stringent environment rules associated with that activity.
We have also, in the context of working out what we call reciprocal arrangements -- reciprocal recognition arrangements with other countries that also have mining interest -- require them, in the course of those negotiations, to adopt essentially the same environmental rules and standards that we have in our national law.
Finally, during the course of the initial negotiation of Part Eleven which occurred back in the Seventies, I think it's fair to say that environmental issues weren't necessarily the focus of what governments were negotiating at that time.
During the course of this most recent initiative there have been a substantial number of environmental provisions which have been put into this new agreement which will be implemented if there is ever any operation toward commercial recovery under the new Law of the Sea Agreement.
Q A bureaucracy question. Will the headquarters be in Kingston, Jamaica, as once was planned?
AMBASSADOR COLSON: Yes.
Q In that building on the sea front?
AMBASSADOR COLSON: I assume so. They built it for that purpose, and I assume they will use it and it will be in Jamaica.
Q One more detail: Who will sign for the United States?
AMBASSADOR COLSON: At the present time, it is anticipated that Ambassador Albright will sign, but that could change.
Q The earlier version had a number of income transfer kinds of provisions -- north/south related elements to it. That's my recollection. Is that correct? And have those, basically, now been washed out, or is there some form of royalty that would be spread out beyond the initial producing country or company?
AMBASSADOR COLSON: I think the key for us is that almost all of the vestiges of that north/south ideology that went into the negotiation in the Seventies have been washed away.
They're certainly -- like any sort of mining operation, there will be a royalty system that will remain to be developed. It will be developed at the point that commercial recovery begins to be a reality, and it will be developed in the context of an institutional structure where the United States will have a very large voice, one that we believe is commensurate with our interest in this to ensure that there is the right kind of royalty system.
The only other fee that is associated with the process is a $250,000 sort of application fee for initial registry of a mining license with the international authority.
Q How does that compare -- what were the income transfer elements in there before --
AMBASSADOR COLSON: Besides the royalty fees, which would have been quite difficult to deal with, there was a one million dollar annual fee that had to be paid by a miner, even during the exploration stage which was one of the key provisions that we objected to because we thought it would be a substantial deterrent to early exploration.
Q Are the mining companies happy?
AMBASSADOR COLSON: The U.S. consortia -- most of these mining operations, there three that hold U.S. licenses. There are a number that hold licenses from other industrialized countries.
I think it's fair to say that those U.S. companies that are part of the consortia that hold U.S. licenses at this point would prefer to see no regulation, no international regulation of this process. They would prefer not to be brought into an international system of any sort and simply have the United States Government regulate them on the seabed. So they have not come out in support of this, but we're still talking to them.
Q My questions regard the 1985 salmon treaty being negotiated. I wanted to know, what's the U.S. prepared to give Canada -- it's kind of a 2-part question -- in terms of equity? The Canadians claim U.S. authorities intercept far more Canadian fishermen than vice versa and this needs to be changed or reversed.
The second topic is conservation. What is the U.S. willing to do to help preserve fisheries?
AMBASSADOR COLSON: The U.S.-Canada salmon relationship is a very complex relationship. Unfortunately, the salmon that return to U.S. rivers and the salmon that return to Canadian rivers don't come straight in off the ocean and go right to those rivers. They tend to go along the other country's coast and they get mixed up in that country's fisheries.
The basic theory of the U.S.-Canada salmon relationship is to try to bring some balance into that so that the fish that are returning through Canadian fisheries that would go into U.S. waters and into U.S. rivers ultimately that Canada catches, that there is some balance in the fish of Canadian origin that the United States catches. The theory of salmon being that you -- they're different from other fish, you must understand. You produce them in your rivers, you make economic choices about the way that you use your rivers. You clean your rivers up and you use those rivers for salmon production, and you want to get the salmon back. If you make those economic choices in the way your state and Federal governments -- if we're spending taxpayer dollars, to build a hatchery, we would like the return on that investment.
Canada has the opportunity simply because of the way the fish work to catch a lot of fish that the United States produces and vice versa. We want to have some balance here.
The Canadians are asserting that we ought to be looking at this in terms of simply absolute numbers of fish. We don't look at it that way. We talk about basically the benefits associated with the fisheries. This relates to the simple proposition that there are five different kinds of salmon. There are pink salmon, Chum salmon, Sockeye salmon, Chinook salmon, and Coho salmon.
Anybody that's caught a 50-pound Chinook salmon out in a sports fishery knows that that's a very different fish than a 2-pound pink salmon that goes into a can.
The U.S.-Canada relationship here is not just counting up the number of fish, it's counting up the kinds of fish and what kinds of fisheries those fish would be going into. That's been sort of the nature of the debate that has led us to the impasse that we had which led to Canada's imposition of this fee which they have now removed.
The issues that we have been working on are very complicated. We have 24 treaty tribes that the United States has a treaty relationship with that are involved in this. We've got three state governments. This is an area that the Federal Government does not have the normal regulatory jurisdiction. All of these fisheries take place in state waters so the states have to be involved, and then we have our Endangered Species Act that is creating a lot of pressures in the Colombia River system about how we manage and regulate salmon coming out of the Colombia.
It's a very complicated issue for us right now. We certainly recognize that the relationship with Canada is essential. We must work together for the benefit of both of us. That's what we're going to be doing now, is rededicating ourselves to the proposition of getting these issues sorted out in some way and seeing if we can't structure a long-term relationship that makes some sense for both countries.
Q What's the give-and-take?
AMBASSADOR COLSON: I don't think that it would be appropriate for me to get up here and talk about what our negotiating position and let the Canadians know where I might have some flexibility.
Q What about fisheries, specifically?
AMBASSADOR COLSON: I think that there are lots of very specific fisheries up and down the coast. It's, again, a very complicated thing, from southeast Alaska down to the California border. You've just got all kinds of different fisheries that are catching each other's fish.
What we have to do is get our people back to the negotiating table. We don't have all of the expertise here in the State Department or at the Commerce Department. The expertise is out on the West Coast amongst our fishery managers, and we need to get them back to the table and get them sitting down and trying to work out some reasonable rules for the fisheries both in '94 and beyond.
We need to focus initially on the specific stocks of salmon that have some conservation problems and try to sit down and think about ways that we can mutually manage our fishery to try to do the best we can to protect those stocks.
Q When do they --
AMBASSADOR COLSON: There will be an initial meeting tomorrow. It will simply be a framework discussion, a process discussion about how we are going to move into a more complex negotiation.
AMBASSADOR COLSON: Yes, it will be over at the Department of Commerce tomorrow.
Q Mr. Ambassador, one of the preconditions for Canada coming to the table included the U.S. offering a unified plan -- that is, a plan that Oregon, Washington State, Alaska, and the Indian tribes all bought into. Is the U.S. prepared at this point to present a unified plan and use it as a basis for continuing the talks?
AMBASSADOR COLSON: There were a lot of preconditions, at least, that were presented in the Canadian press as necessary to get back to the negotiating table. I think at the end the Canadian Government simply took the assures of the Vice President that he would stay actively involved in this and work and help to try to get a solution on a very complex set of issues.
We will not be presenting any sort of comprehensive plan that solves all of these problems tomorrow.
Q Then, from what basis does the U.S. begin renegotiations, or new negotiations, if you have no new plan?
AMBASSADOR COLSON: Like I said, it's a very complicated thing. We've got to start getting a group of people to talk about how one deals with a run of fish called the (inaudible) that the Canadians are concerned about. We're going to jerking the United States economy around because of the fish called the snake river fall Chinook that comes out of Idaho. It's now on the U.S. endangered species list. We've got a lot of concerns about how Canada is catching those fish in their fisheries.
Thirty-two percent of the harvest impact on this stock that is listed under the Endangered Species Act is caught in Canadian fisheries. That fish is going to cause a lot of problems in the hydro system and the agricultural system in Washington State. There are other stocks that we want to focus on first that are in conservation need. We'll focus on the Canadian stocks that have some conservation needs. That's where we want to place the focus and bring all of these issues together; stop linking them ups as much as we're doing and start working on specific solutions to specific problems.
Q Just a quick one. What's the economic value of these fish, the salmon we're talking about? How much a worth a year of salmon are we talking about at stake here?
AMBASSADOR COLSON: That's a very complicated question. I wouldn't want to give you a dollar value. When you start putting in the tribal perspectives on these fish, the ceremonial and subsistence values, the recreational values of these fish, it's one of the issues that really is a source of difference between us and the Canadians right now. They tend to value the fish simply by what a fisherman gets for them off a commercial fishing boat.
Q One more on the Law of the Sea. With the changes you've negotiated, do you expect this is going to be an easy sell in Congress? For years, conservatives have made Law of the Sea -- it sort of packed a lot political baggage onto that, hinging on sovereignty and other kinds of issues. Is that still going to hold us back, or do you believe that this is going to be a pretty easy deal to get through Congress?
AMBASSADOR COLSON: From my experience, nothing is really easy to get through Congress. The key here is for the people that have been detractors of the Convention in the past to give it an honest look and to see if the solution that has emerged really can be held up against the criteria that were laid out in '82.
I was involved in that time. I wrote much of what the Administration said about the Law of the Sea in '82. I think the solution that we've got today, given a fair analysis, can be held up against what the Reagan Administration said was needed, and you'll see it was achieved.
MS. SHELLY: Thank you very much.
(Following the above briefing on Law of the Sea, Spokesman Christine Shelly continued the regular Daily Briefing at 1:35 p.m.)
MS. SHELLY: Questions on other subjects?
Q On Haiti, Bill Gray suggested this morning that there has to be a resolution of the Haiti crises before the limit established by the Panamanians for Haitian refugees to be sent home. Could you elaborate on that at all?
MS. SHELLY: I'd have to go back and check the text of his remarks. The plan, I think -- there has been some press reports that there was a 6-month limit. I don't think that's correct. I think, in fact, that was erroneously reported. The timeframe that was indicated on this by the Panamanian side was 12 months rather than 6 months.
We have not put any kind of artificial deadline by when certain things have to have occurred. So this is something that we are proceeding on in a pragmatic kind of way.
Mr. Gray himself has indicated that we want the military leadership to go and we want them to go as soon as possible. I don't think in terms that there is a precise time horizon by which any particular things have to take place. But on the refugee question and on those who are in need of protection, I think if we reach the expiration period for any other governments in question who are willing to provide safe havens, if we reach that where there were still a large number of migrants out there needing protection, I think we would continue to work with other governments in the region to make sure that those migrants who needed protection would continue to have it.
Q Do you have any (inaudible) on how many have been picked up since the figure you gave yesterday?
MS. SHELLY: Yes. The Coast Guard picked up some 2,900 Haitians in 46 boats yesterday. I don't have the exact figure because I understand there was a slight discrepancy between numbers that the Coast Guard and perhaps the Pentagon had. It's within just a few persons of that number, so 2,900 yesterday. That brings the total number of Haitians picked up since the processing facility on the Comfort began its operations on June 15 to almost 14,000.
Q And do you know how many died --
MS. SHELLY: You want me to go through the rest of the numbers about completed processing, and all that? Do we want me go through that? Okay.
Refugee adjudication for resettlement in the U.S. ended aboard the Comfort yesterday with the announcement of the new policy. Prior to the announcement of the policy yesterday, 1,791 Haitians had completed refugee processing. Of these, 542 have been approved for refugee status; 1,249 have been denied. This is still running at the same approval rate -- 30 percent, which we indicated over the last few days.
There are 414 approved refugees who have been flown to Guantanamo Navel Base to await the completion of final resettlement arrangements. The first eight of these who have approved, I understand, are expected to actually arrive in the United States today. Eight Hundred Forty-two of those who have been denied refugee status have already been repatriated to Port-au-Prince.
MS. SHELLY: Were the eight being repatriated -- brought into? I don't know. I'll have to check on that. I don't have that location.
Q Do you know how many Haitians died when this boat overturned next to the U.S. Navy vessel?
MS. SHELLY: I don't have a precise comment. I'm not sure that anybody, really, has been able to get -- what I've seen, some estimates, it was approximately 100 and another estimate that it was as high as 150.
I'm not sure -- until such point as any or all of the bodies may have been recovered, if we would be in a position to be anymore precise than that. But I know that's the range.
Q If processing has ended aboard the Comfort, where is it being carried on now?
MS. SHELLY: What is happening at this particular point, as I mentioned yesterday, the details of how screening and interviewing and processing, how that is going to unfold, the details of that are being worked out exactly as we speak with the UNHCR. This is obviously a very urgent consideration for us. We have been having nearly continuous discussions with them so that I hope within the next day or two we will be in a position to indicate that the modalities relating to interviews, screening, processing -- those kind of things -- we'll be in a position to clarify exactly what's happening on that score.
The plan at this point, in terms of those who have been -- the migrants who have been picked up at sea is that they continue to be collected by the cutters. Virtually all of them are being taken to Guantanamo. There are still some who are still on board the Comfort. There are those who have already been brought to Guantanamo.
Of those who have been interdicted by the Coast Guard, the figure was up to something like 7,500 on Guantanamo. The capacity right now is around 9,000, with the expectation within a couple of days it will be up to around 12,000. Then there are also some of the Coast Guard cutters who are circling and who will be eventually also off-lifting the migrants that they have picked up.
So they are at this point being brought to Guantanamo. Until such time as the precise arrangements relating to who would go onto Panama or other countries in the region under the safehaven determination, that process at the moment is still being worked out.
Q (Inaudible) Comfort now?
MS. SHELLY: That's a question which is also being settled at this point. It's still available, certainly, as a place where migrants can be held. It's a full-functioning hospital ship, as you know. The only thing that has been stopped is actually the screening process on board the Comfort, but the ship is still there. The facility is still available.
If Guantanamo surpasses at some point its capacity to handle those who have been picked up, it certainly could continue to be used, but it's in a kind of -- there are still refugees, or there are some migrants there. Anything beyond it being used to continue to hold those people, it's still not yet been determined.
Q Christine, tell us again, how many total will be allowed to come to the USA, and where will they be going?
MS. SHELLY: We have assigned a number -- on what was announced yesterday by Bill Gray at the White House was that those who wish to come to the United States will have to apply in-country.
Q I understood. To follow that, the ones that are going to Panama, Dominica, and Guantanamo, they're basically going to camp there until conditions are such that they can be returned home; is that correct?
MS. SHELLY: Guantanamo is -- I don't know what's the best way to describe. But at this point it's a holding point for either decisions on repatriating boat people back to Haiti or for onward disposition to Panama or the other locations that we've mentioned as also possible sites for safehavens.
Q But the 500 reported to have been approved, to be permitted to come to the United States?
MS. SHELLY: That's correct.
Q First, could you take the question that George raised originally about how long the Panama arrangement, after the six months or year, because I believe Mr. Gray said six months at the briefing --
MS. SHELLY: I was told right before coming out to the briefing that it was -- I think it was 12 months rather than six. If you'll give me one second, I'll look at -- I have the statement from the President-elect.
I'll take that to be sure. I think it's 12 months and not six. I'm sorry. There was this statement, the communique from the President-elect, Ernesto Perez Balladares. He said in that statement that -- he talked about the Haitians being able to stay for one year, starting from the date of their arrival in Panama.
Q Another question. Is it correct the U.S. position at this point is that the people picked up at sea will continue to be screened, and those with legitimate cause for refugee status -- in fear of persecution -- would be sent to the refugee camps and those who did not would be sent back -- that's what the U.S. is talking about, it's my understanding.
The UNHCR, I think, is under the impression that they think that everyone who arrives on boats should have the opportunity to go to a refugee camp if they don't want to go back regardless of any adjudication of the individual claims. Is that correct, that there is this difference between the U.S. and the UNHCR at this point on whether there should be an adjudication essentially of the claims of each boat person picked up?
MS. SHELLY: This is exactly what is under discussion right now. In terms of the announcement that we made yesterday, that related specifically to Haitian boat people not being able to come to the United States. And only those who applied to the in- country refugee processing program, they would have the potential for being granted refugee status in the U.S.
As to the Haitians interdicted at sea, we're trying to be sure that we can identify those -- have a way, an effective way fair transparent and certainly effective of identifying those who are truly in need of protection -- that they would be offered the opportunity to go to a temporary safehaven in the region until such time as it's safe for them to return.
Obviously, there may be many who, for their own reasons, once they find out what their options are, that they may not wish to go onto a safehaven and they may choose to return to Haiti. It's my understanding -- again, referring back to the Panamanian announcements on this that this is also what they had in mind, just trying to ascertain that those who are brought there are those who are in need of protection. But how exactly that determination would be made and what the criteria for that would be, including who that would be actually administered by, and the final decisions on disposition of boat people. I can't say that it's one way or another.
The UNHCR is obviously a very key player in this and how this would work in terms of the fairness and transparency proceedings. I simply can't tell you very much more than what I've told you so far.
Q Has the UNHCR proposed to the U.S. that either it stop this sorting process and simply move all the boat people who are picked up to the camps; or (b) adopt a much more liberal process in the screenings or threshold for being eligible to go to a safehaven would be not as high as it has been --
MS. SHELLY: I'm not under the impression, based on my reading on this issue, that the UNHCR has taken a categoric position that every migrant picked up must be brought to Panama or to another safehaven. There are different thresholds. I think there are different options within the scenario for how you would identify, and also letting people elect to make the choices for those who may have thought that they had a real possibility to get refugee status in the United States. They're faced with the option of going to another safehaven.
The UNHCR, of course, doesn't want to be in a position of setting up a procedure where people who would want to return to Haiti would not be doing so because it would be in a kind of automatic pilot, going to some other third location.
So I think what they're trying to do is get a system in place which is certainly fair, that is certainly credible, and that certainly will identify those who are in need of the protection and those who clearly want to have the protection, that it is also sufficiently flexible to take into account those who may wish to return.
As I said, I don't think there's any -- I know there have been some reports that there is this split on this. I think that's a little bit too simplified. The different ways, the options, and the procedures by which the individual boat people would be looked at, it's still very much under discussion and to be worked out with the UNHCR.
Certainly, all those countries who have indicated a willingness to participate as safehavens, those countries which we have mentioned as of yesterday, they're also very keenly interested in having the UNHCR continue to be engaged in this and to have there be a system whereby those who are most needy are able to be identified and then move to those places.
Q Can you tell us what aid assistance -- direct payments are going to the countries that are going to accept these people?
MS. SHELLY: I can't be very specific on that score. I've got some stuff I can tell you on that because that obviously is an issue which is out there. Let me just get what I've got.
There are a couple of things that happened on this. The first is that the White House has put out -- they put out a statement on this which you may have seen. It's a White House press release. It's a memorandum for the Secretary of State. It's a determination pursuant to Section 2 of the Migration Refugee Assistance Act. I won't read this for you. You can get this from the White House.
But in that particular determination, the President said that it had been determined in the national interest that $7 million would be made available from the U.S. Emergency Refugee and Migration Assistance Fund to meet urgent and unexpected needs of Haitian migrants and that these funds are to be used for refugee processing, repatriation, resettlement, assistance activities as well as related Department of State expenses.
It says here that part of the funds may be contributed bilaterally to the governments in whose countries related operations are being conducted. The funds may be contributed to foreign governments, international organizations, governmental or non- governmental agencies. This will also be published in the Federal Register.
I may have -- let me see what I've got. Other, really, than that, I would just say that there have been, as you know, in connection with some of the MOUs that have been signed and other announcements with respect to specific facilities that not all of the places that have been willing to participate in establishing facilities for safehavens or for holding areas for processing, not all of them had facilities that were really appropriate and needed to be upgraded before that could be done. We talked a little bit about the work that needed to be done on Turks and Cacios.
As this is a very country-specific requirement that responds to the degree to which they either have things like airfields and other infrastructural arrangements, these are all things that we're having to work out on a case-by-case basis.
So we're trying to cooperate and to identify what the specific requirements are. Certainly, a large portion of this will be picked up by the United States, but certainly not exclusively. Other nations are joining in this and will also incur expenses because they also realize that it's in their interest and their interest in the region to try to help share the financial burdens on this and not let them fall on the United States.
So a lot of it is simply country-specific. It's being worked out right now. We may be in a position in a few days to have a little bit more detail for you, but I don't really have anything beyond that right now.
Q Seven million is a drop in the bucket, probably?
MS. SHELLY: It's not a large sum. It's at least setting up some monies that can begin to get rolling in order to try to respond to the contingencies which have arisen.
Q There was one report I saw, and I just lay it out for your response. We agreed to pay something about the national debt of Antigua?
MS. SHELLY: I haven't even -- that report may be out there. I've not seen anything to that effect.
Q Antigua officials reported on it in an AP story, saying the U.S. was prepared to take over a substantial share of the country's $80 million debt. If you don't have an answer specifically to that question, can you take the question as to what specific financial commitments are to be made to Antigua?
MS. SHELLY: I'll look into that. I haven't seen anything to that effect, but I'll certainly look into it.
Q Two brief questions. Are there any other countries that have agreed to take refugees since yesterday? And, secondly, the Panamanian statement seemed to indicate that the camps would be supervised by -- they said U.S. blue helmets. That would seem to indicate there would be U.S. troops wearing blue helmets. Do you have any information on that?
MS. SHELLY: I don't have a lot of details for you on that. I'm not quite sure what that refers to. There is an interim procedure which is going to involve using some of the U.S. Government military facilities which exist down in Panama with a view to there then being camps that would be established and actually run by UNHCR. Those camps don't exist yet.
So having an interim location in Panama in order to be able to bring some of the migrants to, that's where they get into, particularly, the arrangements. These were arrangements that were also worked out in concert with UNHCR. So they're U.S. military facilities that have the capacity to bring some people on board. I checked with the Pentagon this morning to see if there were any precise numbers on what the existing capacity is. I haven't been able to get that yet, but that's what they're talking about on that score.
The expectation is, eventually there would be UNHCR-run camps.
Q The President said this morning there are signs that the sanctions are beginning to have an effect. Do you have anything more concrete than that?
MS. SHELLY: There are signs. We get asked that question virtually every day. I think that there are indications of pressure building up within the country. There certainly are things that we watch, conversations that we have with people. We do obviously also pick up a lot that is anecdotal evidence as well.
But other than seeing some signs of that, has the military come in and said, "Yeah, we're ready to step down?" No, that certainly hasn't happened. We feel that as a consequence of the sanctions and as a consequence of the drawing together of the international community, with respect to all of the different aspects, whether it's establishment of safehavens or working through the U.N. to try to develop and approve the mandate for the UNMIH down there, I think it's very clear to the military leadership that the international community is together on this and is proceeding forward with their united strategy.
The military certainly have not said that they're ready to step down but I think they're feeling the heat. I think it's just not the sort of thing that we're going to get into a lot of specificity about the signs that we're reading.
Q Do you have any examples of these signs? Can you relay some of the anecdotal evidence?
MS. SHELLY: No. I just don't think that we feel that it's productive to get into that. I think there are signs there. I think certainly the media also reports on some of those signs and conversations and anecdotes that they pick up, but I don't really see the utility of getting terribly specific on that.
Q What's happening with Radio Democracy? How far down the road are you on that?
MS. SHELLY: I think I've got something on that. What I can tell you on this is we have completed arrangements with President Aristide for a system of direct broadcasting to Haiti. We feel that the capacity to communicate directly with the Haitian people without the risk of censorship by the Haitian military authorities is very crucial.
The United States has already begun preparing tapes for broadcast. It's our expectation that actual broadcasting to Haiti would begin some time soon. I can't really be any more specific than that. I think President Aristide for his side will shortly begin preparing tapes of messages that -- of his statements to the Haitian people. I think within the next couple of days we'll have more of the operational details to share with you.
As you know, it's going to be a joint collaborative effort by the Governments of the U.S. and Haiti to broadcast messages of democracy to the Haitian people, to try to give them access to voices of their own elected leaders and, of course, of American policy spokesmen.
Q On the issue of international solidarity, Aristide's people put out a press release yesterday, saying that this organization that is backing the military known by the French acronym FRAP has set up five offices in the United States to propagandize for the military leadership anti and against Aristide.
Does the State Department have any problem with that?
MS. SHELLY: I haven't seen the communique, and so I haven't looked into it, but I will.
Q Also, on the reports that you mentioned yesterday where corpses are turning up with their hands tied behind their backs, in view of that, do you still think that it is a good idea to repatriate people?
MS. SHELLY: As you know, one of the things that we have done with our Embassy staff and certainly in terms of getting reports from others who are involved in the human rights monitoring effort, we have tried to devote quite a number of resources to tracking what happens to the boat people after they're repatriated.
This is an issue we got into in rather considerable detail, I think, about a month ago. Certainly, we have not been able to track every single person who has been returned, but we have been able to get in touch, I think, with a significant number.
As you know, the pattern of this has been that very often a handful have been detained. They've normally been held for a few hours and then normally released. We were, I believe, after a rather extensive search and researching of this by our Embassy staff, I think at the time we checked on this we were only able to identify about a handful of cases where those who had been returned had actually been subjected to some kind of retaliatory action, police brutality or harassment of any kind.
This is still something that we are trying to track as closely as we can, and it is my understanding that there has not been any, at this point, identifiable change in that pattern. But again, it's something we're watching extremely closely.
Q That six-month figure came yesterday from Gray, and Gray said it came from the Panamanian Government. Today you're saying the government is saying that they can stay for as long as a year. Where did that confusion come from, do you know?
MS. SHELLY: I don't know, but I've said as much as I have to say on that at this point.
Q A follow-up on Panama. You said that U.S. military facilities are being considered as a short- term, interim facility in Panama. Interim between what and what, and what exactly have the Panamanians -- what facilities have the Panamanians agreed to provide, or is it simply U.S. bases in Panama?
MS. SHELLY: I don't know what the precise location is going to be. Interim in the sense until such time as the camps, which would be established --
MS. SHELLY: I don't have the where. I don't know. I don't know if the Panamanians themselves have a specific location in mind. But the idea was that certainly it was going to take probably a few weeks for the infrastructure to get in place for the camps to be able to be up and running; and, obviously, the UNHCR is going to need to get a significant number of personnel down there in order to manage these.
So the expectation was that at the point that migrants began to move out of Guantanamo and to Panama, it was not likely that the camps would be up and functioning at that point. Therefore, they needed a location where boat people could be placed until such time as the camps are up and running.
Q Can I ask you two things: One on the Radio Democracy. You mentioned that these tapes are being prepared. Can you tell us what sorts of messages we're putting on those tapes, (a); and (b) this umbrella pro-Aristide, pro-Democracy group that was formed Friday -- K-16 -- are we supporting them in any way, through words or through actions?
MS. SHELLY: Okay. K-16: I don't have anything on that, so I'm going to look into that and see if we can post something.
The purposes of the broadcasts generally are, as you know, to try to provide President Aristide with an opportunity to present his message -- a message of reconciliation -- and for him to be able to outline what his plans are upon return with regard to the military, with regard to the economy, with regard to restoring political stability, so that the country can move forward.
We believe it's extremely important to provide him with this opportunity. He has not had direct opportunities to speak to his people for over two years. The people of Haiti have received a pretty steady diet of disinformation and misinformation from the military regime and its supporters. These broadcasts will allow him to articulate his views without interference.
I'm sure your follow-up question is the one we keep getting asked about whether or not we're going to use these to dissuade people from fleeing Haiti. No, we're not. It's not our intention to use these broadcasts to do that. We are basically already getting the message out on this through radio spots that are playing on local radio stations throughout Haiti. Our Embassy has prepared a series of programs to address this specific issue. These radio spots encourage those seeking refugee status to use the three in-country refugee processing centers and to try to discourage Haitians from risking their lives at sea when we believe that they can assert their claims much more safely at one of the three in- country refugee processing centers.
Q That speaks to my questions: (1) Are they getting the message? Is there any indication from Port-au-Prince, from our Embassy people, that the Haitian people themselves are changing their minds about taking to sea? And then a second question would be, are our people at the Embassy and American citizens still safe in Port-au-Prince?
MS. SHELLY: On the first part of your question, I think it's really too early to tell. The numbers that I gave you at the very beginning about how many were picked up yesterday clearly would have reflected the situation as it was prior to the announcement of the change about where boat people would be taken. As we have engaged since late yesterday afternoon in a rather massive public affairs campaign in Haiti to try to make sure that those who might be contemplating an imminent departure would know what the situation was, I think that certainly yesterday's figures could not possibly have reflected that. I don't have figures for today because we basically collect them on a 24-hour basis. As we brief here each day, whether it's on camera or off, we will continue to have updated numbers on this every day, so this will always be available either through the briefer or at the Press Office.
I think it's just simply too early to tell. There is nothing that I can tell you about what's happened today.
As to the second part of your question about "are Americans safe", Bill Gray addressed this yesterday. I addressed this a little bit as well. We certainly watch the safety factor for the Americans in-country very, very closely. We feel that it's extremely important to take all precautionary measures with a view to there being a deterioration in the situation which would have a specific impact on Americans in Haiti.
That being said, I'm not aware that there have been specific threats against Americans or where Americans have been singled out or even dual nationals have been singled out for any kind of specific acts of harassment or targeting. It's something we're obviously continuing to watch very closely. The general security situation in the country we think continues to deteriorate; therefore, there is always the possibility that there could be something. We would simply want to make sure that we had done all of the necessary planning to be prepared for any contingency.
Sid, you've been trying to ask a question.
Q It's okay. I forgot it.
MS. SHELLY: Okay.
Q Turks and Caicos?
MS. SHELLY: Turks and Caicos.
Q Is it ready -- the facility?
MS. SHELLY: Not yet.
MS. SHELLY: My understanding is sometime within the next few days or within the next week or so, but I still don't have an exact date.
Q How many will it hold?
MS. SHELLY: I think that we announced some days back when we talked about that, that we're talking about approximately 2,000 for Turks and Caicos. I don't have any different number on that.
Q Different subject.
MS. SHELLY: Okay.
Q In Athens two days ago, I believe, the Greek terrorist organization, they killed one of the Turkish diplomats. What is the U.S. reaction? And the second part of the question: the Greek terrorist organization, when they sent some kind of newsletter -- the news organization -- they said that they are in solidarity with the Kurdish terrorist organization, with the PKK. Several Turkish officials recently, they urged the Greek Government at Athens -- they said stop supporting the Kurdish terrorist organization, stop the financing, stop training.
Did you in the past -- was there any kind of connection with the Greek Government, urging the Greek Government to stop this kind of behavior?
MS. SHELLY: The second part of your question I'm going to have to take, because it's going to require, obviously, some looking into before I would say anything.
On the first part, we certainly learned with regret of the assassination of the Turkish diplomat on July 4. We understand that the terrorist group, November 17, claimed credit for the murder, and the United States Government condemns this brutal terrorist act.
Q Another subject. Do you have any light to shed on upcoming meetings in Geneva between U.S. and North Korean officials? Can you give us any idea of the scope of the meeting, just in general what's on the table, even such logistical things as when and where?
MS. SHELLY: Okay. I don't have a lot of additional details. I do have more than I had on this yesterday.
First, as you know, the talks are scheduled to begin on the 8th; and we're expecting that they will run over, certainly, on the 9th and then probably they'll break over the weekend. There isn't any fixed schedule or any time limit. We're talking here about the initial phase of what we're calling the third round.
Certainly, we're making the arrangements with the expectation that there probably would be some resumption of that at the beginning of the following week, and after that I really don't have anything. This is only a very general indication. It's just in terms of our own expectations on this.
As to the U.S. objectives for the third round, I think we've laid out the general areas on this before, but I'll be happy to go through that again. During what we would expect would be broad and thorough discussions with North Korea, we do expect to talk about security issues, including North Korea's compliance with its international non- proliferation commitments. We intend to talk about diplomatic and economic relations and North Korea's stated desire to convert to light-water reactors. I think you're familiar with that one on the table.
Our overall objectives remain the same. We wish to uphold the global non-proliferation regime, to ensure a Korean peninsula which is free of nuclear weapons, and to support peace and stability in northeast Asia through a reduction of tensions on the peninsula.
Resolution of the nuclear issue requires an unambiguous commitment by North Korea to the Non- Proliferation Treaty and full-scope International Atomic Energy Agency safeguards, and also the implementation of the 1991 North-South Denuclearization Declaration. This provides for an intra-Korean inspection regime and commits both North and South Korea not to separate plutonium or enrich uranium.
As you know, we have been very concerned about the situation on the ground regarding the spent fuel and the reactors. It's our understanding that the North Koreans have kept these assurances, there has been no fuel reprocessing underway, and that the five megawatt reactor has not been reloaded. These were the basis for our dialogue going forward with North Korea, so as far as I know, we're satisfied with what has happened on that score.
As to the stories out there about the light- water reactor, the only additional information I have on that is that we have had discussions, as you know, about the possibility of providing light-water reactors to North Korea with several countries, including South Korea. Those discussions are still very preliminary; and as this is a matter that will be discussed in Geneva, I don't have any further details on that at this point.
Q There's no time limit on this initial session, so it could conceivably go on for a year or so, as long as they maintain the freeze is my first question. My second question --
MS. SHELLY: My first answer is there is no time limit.
Q Okay. I understand that we were in contact with the Chinese yesterday about the run-up to the talks. Did we discuss with them the situation with the 8,000 fuel rods, perhaps they'd be willing to take them and store them? Have we talked about that with Great Britain, France or other countries?
MS. SHELLY: Certainly the disposition of those rods is something which is of concern to us, but I would not get into any kind of indication of what contacts we may have had with others. I'm just not going to get into that.
We have had contacts with the Chinese, and we have continued to have discussions with our key allies on this issue in the period of time leading up to the commencement of the initial phase of the third round; but at this point I just can't get into any further detail.
Q Is it correct to say that in the beginning stages of this session we'd like to see those rods be shipped to another country, or at all? Would that be a reasonable solution as far as we're concerned?
MS. SHELLY: I just don't have an answer on that.
Q In Taiwan there was a report that said you were changing the policy on certain types of diplomatic contacts with Taiwan. Is that correct? Is that in any way related to a congressional resolution passed on arms sales?
MS. SHELLY: I'm going to have to take that question. I don't have anything with me on Taiwan or any possible changes in our posture, so I'm going to have to take that one and post an answer.
Q On Korea, a very disturbing story yesterday in the Times by Warren Strobel, quoting Sergei Stepashin, head of -- I was told that you might be prepared for this -- have some guidance on this particular matter. But basically Sergei, head of Russia's counterintelligence service was speaking and witnessing that there had been at least three incidents of arrests of North Korean citizens in Russia trying to buy a missile and nuclear weapon technology. I would like to know what that guidance you might have on the subject is. And I have a follow-up with three other instances that I'd like to ask you about, if I could.
MS. SHELLY: I was prepared on that one yesterday, and I'm not prepared on that one today. We did have a little bit of guidance on it, and I'd refer you to the Press Office. I can tell you the gist of what we said was that we had seen the reports and certainly reports of that kind are of concern to us, and we very often will pursue them with a government in question that might be making that kind of a report or charge.
It is certainly our understanding, our belief, that the North Koreans have not been successful in any endeavors that they may have undertaken to try to obtain this type of technology and nuclear capability. It certainly is not our impression, having looked at that story and seen the charges, that they have been successful in that. But as to whether the particular details on questions which relate to the Russian arrests and their version of the story, I think I'd have to refer you to the Russians.
You can check the Press Office. There may have been a few additional details on that, but that's the gist of what we had to say.
Q And could I follow up briefly. Another story today about Director Freeh's visit to Interior Minister Viktor Yerin in Moscow. A very disturbing point here near the end of the article, he added that his Ministry was investigating around 50 cases involving theft of radioactive materials. Question one, do you know anything about that?
And then, secondly, there have been allegations coming out for several months about computer linkages between Russian scientists and North Korean scientists -- I mean, nuclear scientists; and then, finally, the Russian mob has been allegedly involved procuring various kinds of weaponry and technology and might be supplying North Korea.
Can you comment on any of those, especially this business of 50 thefts of nuclear material?
MS. SHELLY: No. I don't have any specific comment on that. I can just comment on two aspects very briefly. One is the crime problem, and secondly, I can just say a little bit about FBI Director Freeh's visit.
First, on the crime problem: Organized crime is certainly a very serious problem in Russia, as it is in many other countries. It's partially the result of the breakup of the old authoritarian system before new laws and enforcement mechanisms are in place.
Yeltsin himself declared in his state of the nation speech last February that fighting crime is one of his top domestic policy priorities. I would note that just quite recently, June 14, he actually issued an edict on crime which has received much attention in the press. Certainly, the details of that are available to you.
The fact that we are interested in this and certainly in expanding our cooperation with Russia in this area -- an expression of that was certainly the visit by FBI Director Freeh. He went to Russia to confer with Russian officials at the request of President Clinton.
At the request of the Russian Government, we initiated rule-of-law programs over a year ago through U.S. Government assistance programs. These programs aim to help the Russians develop a legal and judicial infrastructure which would protect human rights and with the capacity to deal with organized as well as economic and other types of crimes. We think this is certainly a necessary first step.
During Freeh's visit, he met with several top- level Russian officials, including the First Deputy Prime Minister Soskovets. He also met with Russia's top law enforcement official, Interior Minister Yerin, to whom you referred.
Basically, Director Freeh and the Interior Minister signed an agreed minutes of a working meeting between the two of them. They outlined five areas for cooperation: respect for sovereignty, exchange of information, availability of personnel through Embassies, requests for assistance, and, finally, channels for exchanging information.
As to the specific incidents that you've talked about, I just don't have any information on that, and, if I looked into it, I'm not sure that we'd have a lot more to say. You can also check with Director Freeh's office or the FBI Information Office and see if they have any other details.
Q Do you have anything on Bosnia?
MS. SHELLY: On Bosnia, yes. I have a bit on Bosnia. I assume you want a little bit on Geneva, Foreign Ministers' meeting and where we go from here? Is that right?
MS. SHELLY: At yesterday's meeting in Geneva, Foreign Ministers from the Contact Group nations welcomed the territorial proposal which had been developed by the Contact Group and directed the Group to present it to the Bosnian sides today.
The parties will have two weeks now to consider the proposal which preserves Bosnia as a single union within the internationally recognized borders and provides for constitutional arrangements that establish a relationship between the Bosniac-Croat Federation and the Bosnian-Serb entity.
Ministers noted that the Contact Group proposal represents an important opportunity for both sides and that failing to accept the proposal would have consequences. Incentives for the Bosnian Federation, should it accept the plan, would include international assistance with settlement implementation and help with reconstruction. Incentives for the Bosnian Serbs, should they accept the plan and agree to pull back to within 49 percent of Bosnian territory, includes the suspension of U.N. economic sanctions against Serbia.
If the sides don't agree to the map, they can certainly expect more international pressure and in particular existing U.N. Security Council resolutions concerning safe areas are likely to be rigorously enforced.
As a last resort, a decision by the Security Council to lift the arms embargo could become unavoidable. This would have consequences clearly for the presence of UNPROFOR.
Ministers agreed that they would meet again before the end of July once they have the responses from the parties in order to then determine what the next steps would be.
Q Thank you.
Q Is the U.S. optimistic that this plan will be accepted?
MS. SHELLY: As the plan was only formally being presented today, I think it's really not possible to predict exactly what the response would be. Both sides have made several public statements, but they also are not unfamiliar with the contents of the agreement. I think at this point we just want to let them come back to us with their response.
Q Has there been any contacts between the U.S. with the ministries and the sides in coming up with this agreement?
MS. SHELLY: Oh, yes, there have been a lot of contacts throughout the process.
Q Okay. And one final -- there is a lot of talk about penalties if neither side agrees. A lot of people I talked to this morning were very skeptical that the international community would actually go ahead with such sanctions. Is Washington confident that it can get the U.N. Security Council, for instance, to lift the embargo, get Western allies to move along in that direction?
MS. SHELLY: Washington is quite hopeful that the parties will agree.
MS. SHELLY: Thank you.
(The briefing concluded at 2:23 p.m.)
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