U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE OFFICE OF THE SPOKESMAN DAILY PRESS BRIEFING JULY 27, 1994 U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE DAILY PRESS BRIEFING I N D E X Wednesday, July 27, 1994 Briefer: Michael McCurry ANNOUNCEMENTS Secretary to Testify before HFAC Tomorrow/No Daily Press Briefing on that Day ..............1 BOSNIA Secretary's Meeting with Counterparts in Geneva .1 Contact Group Proposal/Serb Rejection ...........1-5 -- Discussions with Parties/among Participants .4-5 UNPROFOR Injuries/Reported Request of Air Support2-4 Fighting/UN Peacekeepers ........................3 HAITI Security Council Discussions ...................5-6 ALGERIA US Travel Advisory ..............................6 NORTH KOREA Defector's Claim re: Nuclear Bomb Program ......6-7 Asst. Secretary Gullucci's Trip to Asia .........7 CANADA Two American Fishing Vessels Detained ...........7 COLOMBIA Meetings of Ministers-Designate in Washington ...9-10 ISRAEL Cultural Center Bombed in London ................10-12
DEPARTMENT OF STATE DAILY PRESS BRIEFING
WEDNESDAY, JULY 27, 1994, l2:59 P.M. (ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED)
MR. McCURRY: Good afternoon everybody. I've got two quick announcements to start with today.
First, the Secretary of State will testify, as many of you know, tomorrow before the House Foreign Affairs Committee. That will occur at 9:30 a.m. at 2172 Rayburn House Office Building. That will be a general overview of U.S. foreign policy, although I can expect with all the items in the news over the last several days many questions that you're interested in he will be addressing.
Second, Secretary of State Christopher, I think as most of you know, will travel to Geneva for a Ministerial Meeting of the International Contact Group on the conflict in former Yugoslavia on Saturday. The meeting will occur Saturday, July 30th. The Secretary plans to depart Friday morning for that meeting, and we expect to return to Washington Saturday night. I imagine because that is a quick out-and-back trip that a lot of your news organizations will staff that out of Europe. But if not, and if you're interested in traveling with the Secretary, we'll have a sign-up sheet in the Press Office. We'll have to close that off pretty quickly, so it will be taken down today at 5 p.m. So if you're interested in traveling as part of the Secretary's delegation, let us know today.
Those are my items. Where are your items?
Q Well, we'll be hearing more, I'm sure, during the day from Ambassador Redman; but could you give us State's side of the Yugoslavia -- I almost want to say "debacle" -- resumption of fighting, holding the line?
MR. McCURRY: Well, there's a great deal happening on the ground in Bosnia now that is consistent with what I think most of you know to be the state of play. The Bosnian Government accepted the proposal put forward to them by the Contact Group without conditions and the Bosnian Serbs did not.
Now, what you're seeing on the ground today across the former Yugoslavia and Bosnia is a pattern of behavior consistent with the Serbs' rejection of the Contact Group proposal.
The consequences for that is something, clearly, the Ministers will address in their meeting on Saturday. I don't want to preempt their discussion, but from the very beginning there has been some clear indication from the Ministers themselves that should one party -- and in this case the Serbs -- refuse to accept the Contact Group proposal, there would be consequences for that and they would be addressed deliberately and sequentially by the Contact Group.
Q You remember, there was a notion that there was a two-week period for then the parties to decide? And, reasonably enough, it takes a while for Ministers to assemble. Would you attach the word "imminent," for instance, to the imposition of these penalties or will there be some stretched-out procedure that gives the Serbs more wriggle room?
MR. McCURRY: I think those rules are exactly the issues that will be taken up by the Ministers on Saturday.
Q So you're acknowledging that there's still a great question as to whether or not this group, or this Contact Group in the Foreign Ministers, will impose penalties on the Serbs.
MR. McCURRY: They have addressed the types of consequences that would arise in the event of one party refusing to accept the proposal. They've indicated they are prepared to move forward with that, and the Contact Group has and continues to operate with a great deal of unity. But, as I say, the Ministers will be exploring the questions of how those consequences arise when they meet on Saturday; and I think it best for me to leave it to that discussion before we address those types of consequences.
Q There is a report out of the Pentagon that General Rose is asking for some kind of air support in response to attacks on British troops. Is the resolve there to continue to do this; will we respond?
MR. McCURRY: There are firm decisions taken by the North Atlantic Council that would allow the use of NATO air power, subject to requests from UNPROFOR units on the ground; and there has been an incident today in Bosnia involving some British UNPROFOR units, in which there have been at least two injuries. And the question of close air support is something I'm not in the best position to address. I'll leave that to the UNPROFOR and NATO Commanders, who would carry out and fulfill any such requests.
Q Mike, besides Russian waffling, which is obvious, there's been some slight British waffling, at least. Does the U.S. have a commitment from the British to keep their peacekeepers in Yugoslavia?
MR. McCURRY: The importance of UNPROFOR's activities in Bosnia is something that I think has been acknowledged by the world community, by the United Nations, and certainly by those participating. But yet you've also heard troop-contributing countries within UNPROFOR express some of the concerns they have about operating with a force that is not equipped to handle combat situations, and those concerns certainly seem to us to be very reasonable.
Q Could you talk a little bit about U.S. reaction to Boutros-Ghali's letter and his suggestion about removing UNPROFOR and NATO peacekeeping?
MR. McCURRY: Carol, the letter in itself was in a sense hypothetical because it addresses the question of what happens once the Contact Group winds up its work on a proposal. If you're in a situation where one party has refused to accept the proposal, how do you then proceed?
I think it was an effort by the Secretary General to plan ahead for the future of UNPROFOR in Bosnia should certain things arise.
I would just prefer at this point, as I said earlier, to wait and see what arises on Saturday as a result of the Contact Group discussion, because that's the context in which the Secretary General's letter is properly evaluated.
Q It's been some time since we've had one of these close air-support requests. Could you just refresh our memories as to what has to happen? I thought it was sort of an automatic thing by now, that it had been streamlined and so on.
MR. McCURRY: It goes up through a dual chain of command, UNPROFOR and NATO, and the response is delivered after close coordination between UNPROFOR and NATO, which occurs in the theater amongst the commanders who are on the ground assessing the situation. That's why it's best for me not to try to figure out exactly what has been requested of whom at this moment, since the situation is developing as we speak.
Q Do you have anything about Russian Defense Secretary Grachev's visit to Belgrade? There are signals coming from Belgrade that he offered some concessions and guarantees and the Serbs are considering to restart debate about it. This is about a resumption of the peace plan.
MR. McCURRY: There has been very close coordination amongst the members of the Contact Group; and, as you know, the Russian Defense Minister, and also Ambassador Churkin, have both been in Belgrade for meetings with both the Serbians and the Bosnian Serbs. I would leave it to the Russians to describe the context of those discussions. But as Foreign Minister Kozyrev indicated to Secretary Christopher, they did plan to continue to press the Bosnian Serbs for acceptance of the Contact Group proposal; and it's our understanding that these meetings have been in furtherance of that objective. But I will leave it to the Russians to really spell out exactly what happened in their diplomatic contacts.
Q Has the Secretary talked on Bosnia with Kozyrev?
MR. McCURRY: Well, the Secretary talked to him on that subject, Barry, on the way home from Damascus, on the way back from Damascus, on Friday. There was a follow-up contact that Foreign Minister Kozyrev had with Deputy Secretary Talbott in Bangkok. Kozyrev went on to Bangkok for the ASEAN post-Ministerial meetings and met with Strobe then.
The Secretary has since had a subsequent conversation with Foreign Minister Kozyrev. That occurred yesterday, but frankly I don't know whether the subject of Bosnia came up in that call. The call was for the purpose of briefing the Secretary on the very encouraging news concerning the Russian troop withdrawal from Estonia, and that occurred yesterday. I don't know whether they had a chance to review Bosnia or not.
Q Tony Lake said last week that while the United States could accept the parties tinkering with the map -- that's been proposed as part of this peace plan -- Kozyrev could not agree with efforts to try to change constitutional principles, including the issue of secession. Is that still the U.S. position?
MR. McCURRY: No. That's a less formal way of saying what was agreed to by the Ministers, Carol. The Ministers agreed, in the context of the work of the Contact Group that mutually agreed amendments to the Contact Group proposal, developed and accepted by the parties, is something that the Contact Group itself would have no problems with. So the idea of tinkering with them -- actually going back and then trying to redo this negotiation -- is not something envisioned by the Contact Group.
What was envisioned was a situation where the parties themselves might have some amendments that they would suggest to the Contact Group proposal.
That does not seem to be the situation here, as far as I know.
Q Wait a minute. Let me make sure I understand. When you talk about amendments, are you talking about territorial amendments, or did they not specify what kind of amendments?
MR. McCURRY: I believe the communique that the ministers issued just referred to mutually agreed modifications to the plan. The idea was that they would be territorial. If there was something about the map itself, that both parties agreed would work to their interests and would make it easier for them to accept the proposal, that's something the Contact Group clearly didn't want to stand in the way of -- that type of modification.
I would make it very clear, that's not the situation we're in here. There's not been that type of discussion underway.
Q Is there no discussion of any sort of compromise?
MR. McCURRY: There's been discussions within the Contact Group and with the parties, but not something that would represent, I believe, a compromise.
Q On another subject. Where do you stand now on these Haiti resolutions in the Security Council?
MR. McCURRY: They have had good conversations about that today. My understanding from New York is that the Security Council will meet at least informally later today to take that up, and they continue to work on a text consulting with other members of the Council.
Q So there is now a draft piece of paper that they're working on?
MR. McCURRY: There have been draft pieces of paper circulating already. I don't know whether they've got something that they say in U.N. parlance, "has gone blue" yet or not. I think that that's what they're working towards as the week goes on.
Q And is there a time period set in the draft resolution? In other words, do they have any grace period?
MR. McCURRY: There was not a time period set in the resolution nor, to my knowledge, has any member suggested one to this point.
Q What's the situation with regards to Nigeria? And is there an official U.S. position towards the situation in Nigeria right now? What about visas of Nigeria to support the government, and also the visit of Jesse Jackson?
MR. McCURRY: A lot of that was covered. You may have missed it. The White House issued a statement on Reverend Jackson's trip last night that addressed a lot of those points. I'd refer you over there. We've got a copy of it here if you don't want the trip over, but they did put out something last night on that.
Q Have you got anything more you can tell us about the statement you put out this morning on Algeria? I know you can't talk about intelligence reports. But have there been any specific written or verbal threats?
MR. McCURRY: The statement itself indicating that we assessed a higher risk than that, we had already assessed. Remember, Algeria is already a subject of a strong travel warning from the United States. Clearly, the statement we issued today was based on information that we felt obliged to share with the public. I can't describe for you the source of that.
But the fact that the United States Government did elect to make that information public is something that indicates we consider it credible information and that it would be important for the safety of Americans who remain in Algeria.
Q Can you comment on the status of the Korean defector and information he is putting out?
MR. McCURRY: No, I can't, because we don't know. We've asked South Korea to do so since he is currently in contact with South Korean officials.
I would say that he's made some statements about the North Korean nuclear program that are not consistent with information within our own intelligence community.
You know that there is a debate within our own intelligence community about the exact parameters of the North Korean nuclear program. But the information provided by this defector falls well beyond and well outside of those parameters. So the reliability of the information is something that, frankly, we're not certain we can assess at this point. But we have asked South Korea to see if they could assist us in evaluating the quality of the information.
Q Have they established his identity at all yet?
MR. McCURRY: He is referred to as the son-in-law of the North Korean Prime Minister. He is said to be that. I don't know that we have verified that that is the identity of the individual.
Q Would the United States like to talk to him themselves?
MR. McCURRY: It depends on whether there is any reason to believe his information is credible.
Q So if the information is seen to have at least sort of basic credibility, we would want to talk to him?
MR. McCURRY: We'd certainly want whatever important information that he had access to. But given our close working relationship with South Korea on this, I don't think that would arise as an issue.
Q Supposedly, the defector had defected in May -- two months ago. Why does the U.S. Government think that South Korea kind of kept him hiding as well as -- what he said, is that going to change anything occurring in the third round talks?
MR. McCURRY: The first question first. Refer that to the Republic of Korea. There's no way we can answer that question -- the timing of the release of information about his views on these issues.
The second question: This information, as we say, is not consistent with our current assessment of the North Korea nuclear program. But, again, the purpose of the high-level conversations we're having with North Korea is to get at some of those types of questions.
The best way to resolve these types of questions, as to the scope and size and direction of the North Korean program, is to engage them in dialogue, which is what we will do again, resuming on August 5.
Q Where is Assistant Secretary Gallucci now?
MR. McCURRY: Gallucci, in his travels, is now around about Moscow, I believe. He's been in Seoul, Tokyo, Beijing, where he had very productive and useful discussions about the North Korea issue. He is now in Moscow and planning to return here for several days prior to returning to Geneva for the resumption of the discussions August 5.
Q When is he due back?
MR. McCURRY: Back here?
MR. McCURRY: Over the weekend, I believe. Anybody know differently on that? I think that's right.
Q Can you bring us up to date on the situation involving the two U.S. fishing vessels off of Newfoundland and their seizure by the Canadian Government?
MR. McCURRY: In Canada -- the fishing vessels. There were two vessels fishing for Icelandic scallops in international waters. The United States Government does not accept the Canadian contention that the Law of the Sea Treaty gives Canada the right to exercise management outside of the exclusive economic zone -- the EEZ -- established under the Law of the Sea Treaty for this species of mollusk.
The issue arises, is this a sedentary species or a mobile species? Our view is that this scallop -- first of all, we call this a "fishing vessel." But as you certainly know, these are mollusks that we are --
Q Have they individual names? (Laughter) Sam and Bill--
MR. McCURRY: Being that these are mollusks, we sort of believe that -- as you probably know, mollusks can swim. They swim by rapidly clapping their fluted bi-valve shells together as they propel themselves through the water. For that reason, they are not, in our view, sedentary.
Q Have you gone on the record on any of this? Is this a serious concern?
MR. McCURRY: It's a very serious issue. Under Secretary Tim Wirth took the occasion of a visit here to the Department by a Canadian diplomat yesterday to express some very strong concerns we had about it -- what is a serious issue of the seizing of two mollusk vessels -- mollusk fishing vessels.
MR. McCURRY: We could. We would be happy to arrange -- in any event, our hope is that the protest -- we had raised the issue and had been in dialogue with the Government of Canada about this prior to this incident, and we're hoping that we would find a way that we could resolve the issue diplomatically before Canada would resort to this type of action which, of course, we consider unwarranted. We do demand that they release both the vessels and the fishermen without any fine or penalty.
Q The Canadian Embassy said today that the Ambassador is willing to drop everything and come over here at a moment's notice to discuss this if he's invited. Is he going to be invited?
MR. McCURRY: I do know that we will want to work very quickly with the Government of Canada to resolve this issue. We believe it can be resolved through dialogue and not through provocative action by one side or the other.
Q There's a Colombian radio report that says that talks here at the State Department -- it's a rather optimistic report that says a lot of problems have been resolved. Do you have any kind of a readout on this meeting?
MR. McCURRY: I do.
Q The Foreign Minister-designate.
MR. McCURRY: These are three of President-elect Samper's ministers-designate. They are, just for the record, Rodrigo Pardo, who is the Minister-designate for Foreign Affairs; Fernando Botero, who is the Minister- designate for Defense; and Nestor Martinez, who is the Justice Minister-designate. They have been meeting with a variety of senior U.S. officials -- NSC, at State, at the Defense Department, Treasury, Commerce, Justice, U.S. Trade Representative, AID. So they've been making the rounds.
The round of meetings have been an excellent initiation to our relationship with the incoming Samper Administration. We covered a range of issues in these discussions on the bilateral agenda, including human rights, trade.
Obviously, the central theme of a lot of these meetings have been stressing the importance of our cooperation on counter-narcotics and combating narco- trafficking.
Our discussions on the counter-narcotics issues have been both frank and productive. The Ministers-designate indicated to us that their administration will be absolutely committed to fighting narcotics trafficking and bringing traffickers to justice.
Q Different subject?
Q No, no. I have another one on Colombia. Were delegations against Mr. Samper discussed in this meeting?
MR. McCURRY: In these meetings, we were looking ahead to the future of our relationship, not dwelling on past allegations.
Q Is that what the United States position is on all of this now?
MR. McCURRY: There are proceedings underway to get at the truth of the allegations. Those are underway in Colombia.
Q You mean that's --
MR. McCURRY: We're clearly moving ahead here in dialogue that points towards what we hope will be productive and cooperative relationships with the Government of Colombia, especially on counter-narcotics issues.
Q On these charges, don't they sort of cloud the relationship somewhat?
MR. McCURRY: We've addressed all that. I don't think we have anything new on that.
Q Do you have anything new on the London bombing and on the bombing this morning?
MR. McCURRY: No, I don't. Nothing that constitutes hard information. We've got only the same information that I believe you all know. Fourteen persons were injured in the attack outside a Jewish cultural and fund- raising center in north London earlier today.
You heard Prime Minister Rabin and President Clinton and King Hussein address acts of this nature yesterday -- acts that are motivated by those who are enemies of peace.
At this point, we don't know, given the chronology of the events today and in the last several days, the exact sponsorship of such attacks. But they are consistent with the pattern that we've seen in the past that point towards involvement by radical factions, including Hezbollah, with sponsorship and support by Iran. We have not established that in this case, but certainly the type and pattern of activity we're seeing are consistent with what we've seen and addressed in the past in our terrorism reports.
We will be working with the proper law enforcement officials and contributing our own expertise, as needed, to verify what we can find out about the exact nature of each of these attacks.
Q Has any been requested?
MR. McCURRY: We are providing some in the case of the recent attack in Argentina. I don't know in the two London attacks whether we have been providing assistance or not, but we have a very close working relationship with the United Kingdom on issues like this. If there hasn't been some level of sharing of information, there most likely will be.
I'll find out if we've dispatched a team. But this is something we work closely with the U.K. on.
Q One more question. The terrorism report says that the Hezbollah has an organization here in North America. Are we concerned about similar attacks in this country? Have there been any threats? Are we taking extra care of Jewish organizations?
MR. McCURRY: In the context of what's been going on in the last several days, there was, as you can well imagine, a very high degree of security here in Washington because of the visit of the Israeli Prime Minister as well as the Jordanian King. But we routinely review security issues any time there is a terrorist attack anywhere in the world and assess the level of threat that we think exists both at the consular and diplomatic installations here in the United States and then also at our own posts overseas. We make security adjustments as needed. They do that almost routinely.
They do it especially at a moment in which there is any sense that there is a heightened risk to American facilities or Americans abroad. That vigilance will lead them to take whatever security measures are warranted.
Q Prime Minister Rabin mentioned the incident in Panama. Does the United States agree now that that was connected with Middle East terrorism and not some other --
MR. McCURRY: Jim, we don't have, at this point, definitive information that establishes that there have been conflicting interpretations of what might have been the motive behind the bomb and in the case of the Panamanian aircraft. We have not established definitively what that sponsorship is.
I think in the case of the Argentina bombing and the London bombings, there's a pattern there that is easier for us to have suspicions about.
Q The Palestinians were really quite upset about the statement in the Washington declaration about Jerusalem. Why doesn't that statement circumscribe what was stated in the Declaration of Principles, namely, that Jerusalem would be subject to negotiations and final --
MR. McCURRY: That has been addressed by others over the course of the last two days. But I think the statement in the Washington declaration, as the Secretary himself indicated, is principally a religious statement and it's a recognition of the reality of Jordan's interest in and relationship with the Muslim holy places in Jerusalem.
But the status of Jerusalem is clearly within the Declaration of Principles, a final status issue that will be taken up in direct negotiations between the Government of Israel and the Palestinians, including the PLO.
Q What's the U.S. position on Jerusalem?
MR. McCURRY: It's well known.
Q I haven't heard anybody say it's indivisible lately.
MR. McCURRY: It's well known.
Q Is it the U.S. position that Jerusalem should never be divided again? I don't hear that too much anymore.
MR. McCURRY: The position is well know, Barry, and has not changed.
Q Why can't you say it?
MR. McCURRY: Because --
Q It only had two parts. It was a very short sentence: "We don't want to see the city divided again, and it's final status will be decided by the parties." Now we only hear the second part of that coming out of Mr. Christopher and other Administration officials.
I wonder if it's because they're short of time, or if U.S. policy is under some --
MR. McCURRY: Our position is well known. Since I don't have it exactly in front of me here, I wouldn't want to get it wrong by trying to restate it in shorthand.
Q Could you make it available to us later, though?
MR. McCURRY: I'll see if I can.
Q Some of us aren't even sure the position of the Israeli Government is that Jerusalem shouldn't be divided. I just wonder what the U.S. position is?
MR. McCURRY: That, you can't ask me that.
Q I can't ask you that, but it would be nice to have your position because they're talking now maybe of little administrative areas that will be turned over to the Palestinians. I didn't know if that squared with the U.S. position.
MR. McCURRY: I think that's a subject I really am not going to try to pursue right now.
Q Thank you.
(Press briefing concluded at 1:29 p.m.)
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