U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE _________________________________________________________ The State Department does not guarantee the authenticity of documents on the Internet. If for legal or other reasons you require the original version of a document in hard copy, please contact the Office of Public Communication, Bureau of Public Affairs. Note that State Department information is not copyrighted unless indicated and can be reproduced without consent. Citation of source is appreciated. Permission to reproduce any copyrighted material (including photos or graphics) must be obtained from the original source. _________________________________________________________ U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE OFFICE OF THE SPOKESMAN DAILY PRESS BRIEFING AUGUST 3, 1994 U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE DAILY PRESS BRIEFING I N D E X Wednesday, August 3, 1994 Briefers: Lynn Davis Michael McCurry NON-PROLIFERATION/UKRAINE Opening Remarks by Under Secretary Davis . 1-3 US Aid to Ukraine ........................ 3-4,10-11 Prospects for Ukraine Signing NPT ........ 4-5 US Conventional Arms Sales ............... 5-7 Talks in Europe re: Security Threats ..... 7-8 Smuggled Plutonium Confiscated in Germany 8-9 HAITI Incidents of Violence .................... 11-12 Departure of Haitians Certified by US as Refugees ............................ 12 Safe Havens/Interdictions/Returnees/ Processing ............................ 12-16,18-19 DOMINICAN REPUBLIC Call for New Elections/US Support ....... 16-18 MIDDLE EAST PEACE Implementing the Declaration of Principles ............................ 19-22,25-27 -- US/Other Aid/Accounting of Expenditures .......................... 19-22,25-27 GERMANY LaBelle Bombing Suspect in Lebanon ...... 22-23 JORDAN Custody of Abequa/Abbasi Children ....... 23-25 BOSNIA Contact Group Peace Proposal ............ 27-28 -- Prospects for Lifting Arms Embargo .. 27-28
DEPARTMENT OF STATE DAILY PRESS BRIEFING
WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 3, 1994, 12:45 P.M. (ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED)
MR. McCURRY: Good afternoon everybody. I've got a special treat to start with today because I've got Under Secretary of State Lynn Davis here. She is now, for those of you who have not noted the new title, the Under Secretary for Arms Control and International Security Affairs. She's here principally to talk about the Ukraine, although I just advised her that if she wanted to take any other question on any other subject in the world, I'd be more than happy to defer to her. But she has just concluded a trip to European capitals on a range of non-proliferation issues. But among those that I think are most interesting are the continuing progress towards de-nuclearization in Ukraine. She's worked up a little update for you on that subject and it's one that I think is very important and one I think you might not necessarily find breaking news but nonetheless news- worthy.
So I will turn the podium over to Under Secretary Davis. It's always a pleasure to welcome her to the briefing room.
UNDER SECRETARY DAVIS: What I've done is put together a package of materials that you can pick up at the end. Some of you, when we've been talking about this subject, have said, "Why don't you pull it all together in one place and help us understand what's been happening." So that's what we've done.
I think most of you know as well that Vice President Gore stopped over in Kiev yesterday and sought to begin to build a relationship with the new leaders of Ukraine, and at the end of that visit yesterday, announced that President Kuchma will be coming to the United State at the end of November to visit the President and all of us.
So it was an important step to once again show our determination to help Ukraine make the transition to a market economy as well as to carry out the full range of non-proliferation goals that I'd like to bring you up to date with.
So let me just begin by saying that we were very pleased that President Kuchma has stated that Ukraine will honor its international commitments, including the Trilateral Statement in which Ukraine agreed to transfer all nuclear weapons on its territory to Russia for dismantling.
As of today, about 300 warheads have already been transferred from Ukraine to Russia for dismantling, and we have already passed the goal of 200 warheads by November which was established in the Trilateral Statement, and more than half of the SS-24 ICBMs located on the territory of Ukraine have been deactivated.
In the Trilateral Statement, Russia agreed to provide reactor fuel to Ukraine as compensation for the value of the highly-enriched Uranium, and two shipments have already been delivered by Russia to Ukraine.
On our part, the United States has provided $60 million as an advance payment on the U.S.-Russia highly- enriched uranium contract to help finance these initial deliveries of reactor fuel to Ukraine. This advance payment on the part of the United States will be repaid through deliveries of low-enriched uranium to the U.S. under that HEU contract.
In addition, the U.S. has committed $350 million in Nunn-Lugar assistance for dismantling strategic forces and other non-proliferation related projects. We are also pursuing a broader international effort involving 13 other countries, all of which have announced their intention to provide Ukraine with dismantlement and related non-proliferation assistance.
I think, as you know -- and it's been reported in the press -- that we face some difficulties in getting the Nunn-Lugar assistance up and running. In the package of materials we've outlined our goals and obligations for these projects, but we're taking steps to fix the problems and we'll be sending a team out to Kiev next week in order to get on with the promises made in terms of this assistance.
Another important part of our efforts with respect to Ukraine is assistance to facilitate the closure of the Chernobyl nuclear power station. The G-7 countries in Naples committed $200 million in grants to Ukraine to launch a program to address both nuclear safety and energy supplies into the next century. The G-7 team will present our plan to Ukrainians in early September.
Then we're also working with Ukraine on the overall non-proliferation agenda of the Clinton Administration. The next key step is for Ukraine to accede to the Non- Proliferation Treaty.
Once that happens, we can bring into force the START I Treaty and their accession will also open the way for Ukraine to participate in all the other non-proliferation regimes to which they have begun to become interested in, carrying out the steps necessary to become partners.
In May, we were able to sign a Memorandum of Understanding with Ukraine by which they committed to respect the guidelines of the MTCR. This opens the way for space cooperation between the United States and Ukraine.
We also look to Ukraine, once it has joined the NPT, to become a partner in the regime that succeeds COCOM.
So looking back to January, when Russia, Ukraine, and the United States agreed to the steps to remove nuclear weapons from Ukraine and to provide compensation to Ukraine for those nuclear weapons, we launched a process to achieve this very important non-proliferation goal.
Since January, we've made significant progress towards that goal in implementing the Trilateral Statement, and we're counting on the new administration to take the next important step, and that is, to adhere to the Non-Proliferation Treaty.
We hope that that important step will be taken in the coming months leading up to the time in which President Kuchma will visit the United States.
That's a fairly quick rendition of where we were and where we wish to be. And as I say, we have a package of materials that goes into considerable detail in each and all of those.
Q Did President Kuchma let you know that he -- indicate that he plan to announce their adherence to the NPT when he visits Washington?
UNDER SECRETARY DAVIS: No. He didn't make any specific promises, but he took very seriously Vice President Gore's call for such adherence and to open up this full set of non-proliferation partnerships that I described earlier. So we'll be working with Ukraine and the new parliament to make that happen in the coming few months.
Q (Inaudible) no specific assurances?
UNDER SECRETARY DAVIS: At this point, no specific promises. But at the same time, a clear understanding on the part of the new government as to how important it is, both for their overall non-proliferation goals as well as building a partnership with Ukraine across the economic and political side as well.
Q Kuchma was quoted today by Interfax as complaining that Ukraine had only received about $6 million of a promised $350 million in aid. How does that factor into your assessment? You mentioned the $60 million advance payment for the HEU contract. Is he not counting that?
UNDER SECRETARY DAVIS: What he's talking about is, of the $350 million that we've allocated in the Nunn- Lugar funding, only a small amount so far has actually turned into on-the-ground real projects. But in this package of materials, again, we've laid out what the goals are in that assistance. We've actually concluded specific implementing agreements with Ukraine for $277 million, at this point, of the $350 million.
We were slow getting underway because it took some time for Ukraine to sign the agreements -- first the umbrella agreement and the specific agreements -- for these individual projects. So those were all completed early in this year. So at that point, we then began the sort of contracting-out and making possible these particular steps, which cover not only dismantlement assistance but nuclear reactor safety assistance, a science and technology center, and ways of helping them with their export controls.
So I've laid out to you what the projects are. We'll be sending out this team in order to demonstrate to the new government that we've obligated this money and here are the steps that Ukraine has to take in order to actually get this money delivered to Ukraine and real projects underway.
So we would hope in another couple of months that that $6 million would go a long way toward the $277 million that we've already worked out with Ukraine.
Q But the HEU advance payment, they already have that?
UNDER SECRETARY DAVIS: The advance payment has been made to Russia. That's separate. When people talk about dismantlement assistance, they tend to focus on the Nunn- Lugar projects specifically.
Q What is your assessment of whether Kuchma -- or what are the factors -- domestic, political, or relations vis-a-vis Russia -- that are giving him hesitancy about the NPT? Are these things that the Administration understands is a problem and would see that he might not be able to, for his own reasons, support the NPT for a given amount of time? Can you just sort of evaluate, based on your talks with him and other people in the region, what's his thinking?
UNDER SECRETARY DAVIS: Of course, it was the Vice President yesterday who had the most recent conversation and was able not only to indicate the importance here and what opens up from taking that step, but also to hear from the Parliament what it was that was on the minds of the Parliament as they think about their own support for this very importance step.
You recall that part of the Trilateral Statement includes security assurances on the part of the three depository powers in the Non-Proliferation Treaty -- that is, the U.K., Russia, and the United States. So Gore was able to describe that very important step that is associated with their adherence to the NPT.
In a sense, we again have to make the case to the new parliament, and to the new government the importance of this. That's a very high priority test that we'll have in the coming few weeks.
Q On conventional arms, in general, I wonder if you've seen the CRS report, which was issued I think the day before yesterday, which says, in effect, that the United States is far and away the largest sales organ for conventional arms, particularly to volatile regions such as the Middle East.
One: Your reaction to that? Two: This administration has been in office now for 18 months and has been promising a conventional arms policy statement. It still hasn't come. What's the problem?
UNDER SECRETARY DAVIS: Actually, the report which you have in front of you is a report that I would commend to all of you because it is, in many ways, one of the best, fair and sort of balanced statements of what's actually happening out there.
I'd like to make clarifications on that report just to help you understand what's going on with respect to conventional arms transfers. The first is that it's a report about conventional arms transfers to the third world. Their definitiona of the "third world" may not be the definition that immediately comes to your mind.
Their definition of the "third world" is everything but the United States, Russia, Europe, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. So the third world is all other countries out there to which these suppliers would make these kinds of transfers; and in many ways a very old think-way of categorizing arms transfers, because it includes the Persian Gulf. It includes the Asian countries.
It's important, I think, to differentiate, if you can, that overall set of sales to look at precisely what's been happening. If you look at what precisely has been happening in terms of U.S. sales, the sales here -- let's take 1994: roughly $14.8 billion in U.S. sales. Eighty percent of those sales -- I'm sorry, that's 1993. Eighty percent of those sales were to two countries: Saudi Arabia and Kuwait.
So I think it's very important as you read this study which has the aggregate data, that you think about precisely what it is that's behind some of these overall numbers.
The second important part is that they make the case that the U.S. share is going up. Since the end of the Cold War, what's actually happened is that the Russians used to have 40 percent of that arms market. They were the largest supplier. That has now decreased to nine percent.
So what's happened is that U.S. sales haven't changed very much over this time, but as a proportion of the overall market, ours has now become the highest. But again our overall sales, roughly $14 billion over the last couple of years, and estimated to be about the same in the coming year.
Anyway, I guess the bottom line is that I think it's an important study, and it does help you understand what's going on out there. But I think just to pick up on the one issue, which you did, the American share, doesn't understand fully the dynamics of what actually has been happening.
Q Could I just follow up on that single point. When you include the developed world, the track remains just about the same, but the numbers go way up, something in the order of $30 billion if you include sales to Europe, Japan and other places.
In other words, whether you count only the Third World or you count the entire world, the United States remains number one by a long shot.
UNDER SECRETARY DAVIS: That's true. But our overall sales have not changed in terms of the overall amounts, and so the reason that we are the leading share is that the Russians have dropped out of this particular market for reasons that go with the end of the Cold War and the breakup of the Soviet Union and so forth.
Q Can I ask the second question: What about the conventional arms sales policy?
UNDER SECRETARY DAVIS: I've actually been making predictions for some number of months as to when we're actually going to complete this study, and I've learned the lesson of not to be very precise in my predictions. But I hope in the coming month or so, that we'll be able to share with you not only the policy but a presentation that gets behind a lot of these numbers and helps you understand what it is we're doing and why we're doing what we're doing.
Q What is the problem? Is there a difference of philosophy between you and the Commerce Department, for example?
UNDER SECRETARY DAVIS: No, it's not as much a difference of philosophy as just, quite frankly, other things have somehow come a little bit higher on our agenda. But I'm making it a pretty high priority now so that I can answer your question differently the next time.
Q I'm not going to ask you about Chinese missiles today and their targeting.
UNDER SECRETARY DAVIS: Gee! (Laughter)
Q On your trip to Europe, did you have any discussions with any governments concerning the sale of dual-use items to Iran? Did you have any discussions on international terrorism, and generally what are your concerns in those areas?
UNDER SECRETARY DAVIS: I've spent a fair amount of my trip working on gaining a consensus for a new regime to follow on from the old export regime known as COCOM, and this will be a new regime that will focus on the new security threats as we see them, away from an East-West way of thinking about security to a more global approach; but then focusing in on individual regions where the possibility of conflicts could arise.
So, yes, that was a high priority, and in that context looking to gain consensus with respect to the ways we see our trade with Iran, Iraq, Libya, North Korea, the rogue countries as we describe them, whose behavior is clearly inconsistent with that which we would wish to see, both in terms of support for terrorism but generally in seeking to acquire weapons of mass destruction and other dangerous arms.
We're particularly concerned that we develop this common approach, and that we bring Russia into such a common approach with respect to trade to Iran.
Q As a follow-up, I note you mention four countries which are on the terrorist list. You failed to mention Syria. Any reason?
UNDER SECRETARY DAVIS: Actually, when we focused on those four countries, we've been looking at a behavior that includes how they conduct themselves with respect to terrorism, but not only that. I added, if you will, the need to look at their behavior with respect to acquiring weapons of mass destruction and other dangerous arms. So at this point we focused on those four.
Q Madam Secretary, concerning the proliferation of fissile material and specifically regarding a story that broke over two weeks ago about the German Government seeking to recover or seeking quite a large quantity of plutonium that was allegedly on the black market, this Department has responded several times to this issue that there is no known -- this material is not yet known to exist, basically, and Mr. Gallucci told us all yesterday that he did not ask the Russians. This topic did not come up when he was there.
In your negotiation or your meetings with the Russians, has the topic of this alleged Russian source, black-marketing -- the plutonium being black-marketed in Europe, apparently sought by Iraqi agents, according to reports last week here in Washington -- in a Washington newspaper?
Can you categorically state yet that there is or there isn't a problem with plutonium being on the black market, the bomb grade plutonium being on the black market in sufficient quantities to make at least a bomb? Or can you say that this appears that it is not in fact happening, this is not a real problem? Can you state, ma'am, that you will be able to tell us when it is learned? Can you tell us when it is learned definitely what the truth of the matter is?
UNDER SECRETARY DAVIS: We're certainly looking into this particular case and have provided you what we know so far, and we're still working with the German authorities and raising it with the Russians as well to understand whether this very small amount -- some six grams of material -- is a single event or whether it could be the beginning of something more.
At this point all we can say is that we look at these cases each time they arise; that so far the cases have not involved weapons or material of such quantity and type needed to actually produce a weapon, but that's not to say that we're not on our guard.
Let me just describe to you the various parts of the approach to responding to the possibility even before we have information that suggests it's actually started to happen. And that is we have been providing assistance to the Russians and the other NIS states to help them in controlling, accounting and protecting their nuclear materials; that I mentioned earlier we have this contract for 500 tons of highly enriched uranium, which is to get it out, turn it into reactor fuel, so it's no longer a proliferation hazard.
We're providing under the Nunn-Lugar fundings export assistance to these countries. We've been able to gain Russian agreement to end the production of plutonium and their reactors by the year 2000. We have set up science and technology centers, whereby scientists are directed in their activities to other kinds of work, rather than selling their nuclear secrets to countries so that others might be able to acquire this knowledge and therefore weapons.
We also have among the G-7 stated, now, agreement to begin cooperating on the issues of nuclear smuggling. And then, of course, the head of our FBI was in Moscow setting up an office whereby we'll begin to cooperate in the enforcement kinds of activities.
So this is a multifaceted approach to the very problem that you raise. So while we don't have direct evidence that it's actually out there at the moment, it doesn't mean that our guard isn't up in case something like this were to happen.
Q Have you asked the Russians directly if they're missing any plutonium?
UNDER SECRETARY DAVIS: We talk to the Russians about this all the time, and that is one of the other pieces. It's not only assistance, but this is now an active cooperation that we have, to work with them.
Q Are they sure they still have all their plutonium, or do they know?
UNDER SECRETARY DAVIS: We hope to help them be sure that they do.
Q Can you tell us a little bit about where you are on the CTBT? A lot of the arms control advocates are very concerned that this process isn't moving fast enough, that a deadline hasn't been set, and that the moment will slip away, and it will affect the NPT. Where do you stand now on that?
UNDER SECRETARY DAVIS: The moment is not slipping away, and I think we've made, actually, rather considerable progress. We spent the last few months working on the highly technical details of the verification regime that will be necessary to put in place for this treaty. They only took a week and a half holiday, and now they're back in Geneva during August, continuing to work on this, then they'll all move into New York and the U.N. General Assembly session and continue to work on these issues in the committees there.
So I would take some exception to those who think that we're not making good progress. That's not to say that I will ever be satisfied until we actually have a treaty, and we will be giving it energy and all the work that we can.
I raised this issue in the consultations that I had, because key to this, of course, will be the other nuclear weapons states and their willingness to commit. So I use the term "as soon as possible" and all the energy that we can put to it.
Q Are the French going along with that?
UNDER SECRETARY DAVIS: The French are working very hard with us in Geneva on the details and the elements. They've been working out on the verification side. So I can't give a view from France as to precisely how they see it, but they're doing what's necessary to get the elements of the treaty in place.
MR. McCURRY: Last question.
Q Dr. Davis, back on the NPT question with Ukraine. You said that in the next couple of weeks you'll be working with them to help to convince them to sign it. How exactly will you be doing that? Will you be going back, or how are you going to be working over the next couple of weeks?
UNDER SECRETARY DAVIS: The first step was the visit of Vice President Gore, and the second step is the team to demonstrate that the assistance that's part of our commitment to make it possible for them to take this step is in place and actually happening. At that point I'm sure that the Secretary will look forward to meeting the new Foreign Minister, when the Foreign Minister is announced during the U.N., if he comes to the United Nations.
So we'll be taking every opportunity that we can in order to lay the basis for that adherence.
Q But no specific steps other than a happenstance meeting.
UNDER SECRETARY DAVIS: Not happenstance meetings. As many meetings as necessary to get what's necessary for them to understand its importance. So it may be meetings, it may be actual steps on the ground to show them the value of their moving in this direction.
Q Thank you.
(Under Secretary Davis concluded her briefing at 1:10 p.m.)
MR. McCURRY: Thanks to Dr. Davis for that good briefing. Other places, other faces, other questions. Rita.
Q In Haiti, there's been another two people shot today following on yesterday's shooting of Mr. Georges and the roughing up of the people in the asylum line. What's your -- does it appear that while the United States would like the U.N. resolution to be the added pressure that might force Cedras and the leadership out, that perhaps the opposite, that they're digging in, becoming more belligerent?
MR. McCURRY: The shootings that have occurred -- shooting of Senator Georges yesterday and the incidents that we're aware of today -- are certainly very troubling, and we condemn that type of violence, and that type of violence points precisely to the remedy that the United Nations has now adopted in the U.N. Security Council Resolution 940.
The United States continues to work to consult with other countries in the hemisphere about the multinational force that is authorized in the U.N. Resolution, and that will remain an option that is available to the United States and to the world community as we address the conditions that underline this type of violence in Haiti.
Q When you say that it points precisely to the U.N. remedy, are you saying that any more of this type of activity will trigger an invasion?
MR. McCURRY: No. It points to the nature of a de facto regime that the world community has denounced and has now authorized means for its removal. As I answered the question on time table on Monday, that's the way I'm going to answer it continuously, so it's not useful to pursue it.
Q Going back to the original question, though, doesn't this seem like a sign that they're digging in rather than caving in?
MR. McCURRY: It is hard to know what motivates the de facto regime at this point. The necessity of them leaving is now clear in many ways, and the certainty of them leaving is now clear by the expressed will of the United Nations. So why they would continue to acquiesce or even sponsor the harassment of their own citizens is just further evidence that the action taken by the world community has been most warranted.
Q What about this story in the Times, I guess it is, about your decision not to transfer boat people to third countries?
MR. McCURRY: There's no decision not to transfer them. We're trying to work to get them out. So far we haven't had any cooperation from the de facto regime in getting them out in a way that is now allowed. You'll recall that there is a ban on air traffic in and out of Haiti, so in order for there to be charter flights or other ways of getting individual people out who have been approved for refugee status, we go to the United Nations and get a sanctions waiver so that we can move people in and out of the country.
We have not gotten cooperation from the de facto regime in arranging for those types of flights. We are going to have to look -- or we can look, perhaps, at other ways of getting people in or out by land or sea, but we will continue to work to provide access for departure to those who are called "travel ready refugees" -- those who have been approved for refugee status who under our law have a right to seek refuge in the United States.
Q (Inaudible) you all decided -- the Administration had decided to sort of junk the safe haven idea for the time being and try to keep them at Guantanamo. Is that correct?
MR. McCURRY: No, that is not correct. It's still very much our intention to move forward with the establishment of safe haven facilities and other countries. We, for example, have continued to work with the countries that we were talking to. Suriname signed a memorandum of understanding with us on Monday, and obviously how we pursue our safe haven options depends on what's actually happening with the outflow of migrants, and the numbers have been down.
For instance, there were, to my knowledge, no one intercepted or interdicted yesterday. But we will continue to assess what the need is and continue to look at the possibility for safe havens as we move forward in the good discussions we're having with countries in the region.
Q Senators McCain and Dole once again today on the floor expressed vehement opposition to an invasion, and I think Senator Dole even went so far as to say there is no emergency now. I don't know whether they're looking at anything beyond the numbers themselves, but has the emergency abated?
MR. McCURRY: The emergency that exists is the deplorable conditions that exist in Haiti -- the suffering of the people of Haiti who have been denied democracy. There is a persistence of human rights abuses, including the incidents of shooting that we were just discussing earlier. So I'm not quite certain why one would feel there's not at least a crisis on Haiti that compels the world community to respond as the world community has responded.
Perhaps the Senators were referring to just the question of migrants seeking to leave Haiti, and indeed those numbers are down, but that could be for a variety of reasons. It does appear that part of it is the understanding that now exists in Haiti of what our country's policy is on safe havens and on repatriation. But setting that aside, there's no doubt that the conditions in Haiti themselves suggest the type of response that the United Nations has now authorized.
Q Do you have the recent numbers? You had an update on Friday. I don't know --
MR. McCURRY: Yes. I've got them. As I say, there were no interdictions yesterday. Numbers have been lower, I think, over the weekend. The total number that have been picked up since shipboard processing began back in June is now approximately 21,150. Obviously, a significant curtailment of the numbers that we were seeing fairly recently.
Q Given what -- this increase in human rights violations and shootings and things like that, is the United States continuing its repatriation program from Guantanamo?
MR. McCURRY: From Guantanamo. For those who are voluntarily seeking to return -- and there have been a number -- in fact, interestingly, some of those who you remember initially -- for those who were intercepted at sea, they could either choose direct return to Haiti or temporary status at Guantanamo.
Some of those -- in fact, a substantial number of those who elected in the initial case to go to Guantanamo have now told us that they would prefer to return to Haiti. So there have been people returned. Again, that is voluntary return. They have that option, and we are taking them there.
Q And how are they returning, a Coast Guard cutter?
MR. McCURRY: A Coast Guard cutter, I believe.
Q Can't this Coast Guard cutter then just onload those who have been accepted for political asylum at the same time?
MR. McCURRY: That indeed is a possibility, but I'm not aware that there is any decision to do precisely that.
Q Has there been a significant or prolonged increase in the number of people applying at the in- country centers? I mean, are you able to now conclude that the policy was successful to keep people off the boats and to get them into the in-country centers?
MR. McCURRY: There has been on in-country processing as of July 29 over 61,000 preliminary questionnaires completed, and, yes, there has been an increase in the number of applicants applying for refugee processing through that process. In fact, INS has sent six more interviewers to Port-au-Prince to help process some of the increase that they've seen in the case list.
Q What's the approval rate?
MR. McCURRY: We start with the universe of 61,000 preliminary questionnaires. Remember, we've gone through this before. A lot of those applicants don't initially meet any test that suggests that they've got a valid claim, so that they try to squeeze the number down that they can process that look like they've got a valid claim for refugee status.
So INS now has interviewed of that total universe nearly 17,900 people, and that's a total number for all three of the processing centers that they've got. And of that number, 4,621 have been approved by INS for admission to the United States as refugees. That's approximately 26 percent.
Some 13,200 have been determined not to be refugees. The remainder are pending evaluation.
Q Those 4600 are eligible. Now they need transport, is that right?
MR. McCURRY: I don't have the numbers of those. I think that is an inclusive number, and some of those had departed prior. We've got people who are awaiting transfer onward to the United States who have been approved in that category who we were just discussing earlier have got the problem of making the arrangements for the flights.
By the way, we work very closely with the International Organization of Migration on that. It's actually the IOM that does the chartering of those flights -- or had done them in the past, but we'll continue to work to see how we can address the needs of those who have been approved for refugee status.
Q Mike, of the people who are approved at the in-country processing centers, while they are awaiting transport are they just going back home and waiting there, and have there been any incidents of harassment of these people?
MR. McCURRY: I believe there have been some instances of harassment. Those obviously trouble us a great deal, but we try to work with human rights organizations and with others who can monitor those cases and help us keep track of them. A lot of them are in contact with some of the non-governmental organizations and private organizations that are operating and continue to operate in Haiti -- very courageous work being done by many of those organizations.
But we also through the work that's being done out of the Embassy do try to track those cases so that we can become aware of any trouble that those people are encountering. But, yes, there have been some instances where those people have been harassed.
Q Has anyone been killed, and has the number of people applying for in-country processing dropped off as they realize they can't actually get out of the country, and they become identified as people who want to leave?
MR. McCURRY: I will take the question on whether or not anyone who's been approved for refugee status has subsequently been murdered or killed. I don't know the answer to that.
Q The Argentine Foreign Minister says that the United States has agreed to provide his government with naval equipment. Apparently in contravention or at least in a loosening of the Falklands war arms embargo. Is this true, and, if so, why?
MR. McCURRY: Don't have anything on it. I'll have to check into it.
Q Mike, could I follow up that one, dealing with Argentina?
MR. McCURRY: You want to tack something onto the TQ. Go.
Q Okay. The Argentine Ambassador to the United States testified up on the Hill the other day, and there was some question about concerns on the border between Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay in terms of access across the country. Are we dealing with the Argentine Government on that as well, in addition to -- is this part and parcel?
MR. McCURRY: That's tangentially related to that question by being in the same vicinity, but --
Q It's not targeting of Chinese missiles.
MR. McCURRY: -- but let's see what we can do on both of those -- see if there's anything to say.
Q Mike, can I ask you --
MR. McCURRY: It's the kind of question that typically we don't say a whole lot about, but I'll see what we've got. Yes, George.
Q Can I ask you about the Dominican Republic, which is in the neighborhood of Haiti?
MR. McCURRY: Absolutely. (Laughter) We'll do this geographically today. That would be very interesting.
Q A few hours after a memorandum of understanding was signed, calling for the beefing up of the border area between the Dominican Republic and Haiti, the Dominican electoral board declared Ballaguer the winner, and of course this is not what the Administration has been recommending.
The Secretary called for new elections, I believe, about a week ago, and I notice you issued a statement last night. Is there anything beyond the statement that you're planning to do to nudge the Dominicans?
MR. McCURRY: The first important point to make is that we do not connect these two separate issues in our discussions with the Dominican Republic, and that is precisely why last night we issued a statement indicating we're very disappointed by that decision and reiterating our call for new elections which we suggest would be a good idea. It's an idea that originates within the Dominican Republic, but we see that as a good idea and a way for the Dominican Republic and the citizens of the Dominican Republic to have some confidence in their electoral process.
They've had an election in which international observers have been able to document irregularities and disenfranchisement that is greater than the number of votes by which the election was allegedly settled. For that reason, those who are calling for new elections seem to us to have a very good and 16rong argument, and we have raised that issue in our diplomatic contacts with the Dominican Republic, including with President Balaguer, and we will continue to press the issue.
But we will also continue to expect and seek the cooperation of the Dominican Republic as we address border enforcement issues. That is the Dominican Republic's solemn obligation as a member of the world community.
Q Will there be any consequences for the Dominican Republic in terms of their relationship with the United States if they go ahead and inaugurate Ballaguer?
MR. McCURRY: Will there be consequences? I can't say if there will be consequences, but it certainly would be a factor in our bilateral relations, and it would be a detrimental factor in our bilateral relations, having raised this issue and having suggested that the status of the Dominican Republic's democracy is of concern to us as an important leader in the region and in the hemisphere.
Q Can I ask George's question just a little differently? Will there be sanctions? Has the United States told the Dominican Republic that we would move to impose sanctions in some way?
MR. McCURRY: I'm not aware that we have connected sanctions. You mean like economic sanctions imposed by the United Nations?
Q Similar to that.
MR. McCURRY: I'm not aware we've had a discussion like that in connection with the election results. We've tried to use the persuasion that we can use through our diplomatic contacts to suggest that they need to address the validity of the election, and they need to restore confidence in the people of the Dominican Republic that their will in a free and open election will be exercised and honored.
Q Let me take you to another part of the world. Do you --
MR. McCURRY: Anyone else? We're moving regionally here.
Q One more on Haiti. Are there any plans for anyone senior in the Administration to travel to some of those countries in the region such as Mexico who have made it known that they do oppose the use of force in Haiti, or are there any other contacts with those countries in terms of --
MR. McCURRY: We've had a number of high-level diplomatic contacts. I think as many of you know, Under Secretary Tarnoff traveled recently. I do know that we are continuing very active diplomatic dialogue, but I'm not sure if that includes visits by high-level officials. I wouldn't rule that out, because I think we're working that issue aggressively and would expect that type of contact. But we'll let you know if we can point you to any particular visits that our folks are going to plan to make.
Q You were talking about the safe haven countries earlier. Did you mean to say that the 16,000 or so people that are at Guantanamo Bay -- they will definitely be transferring out to Suriname or another safe haven country, or will it depend on if there's another influx more than just a trickle?
MR. McCURRY: No, I didn't want to predict how we will process those cases. I think that we need to really wait and see how things develop in terms of overall numbers of migrants that are seeking to leave. Then also looking at logistical questions about -- depending on what type of numbers and what type of refugee flow you have. How many centers and how many operations does it make sense to run?
So part of this is logistic and part of it is trying to assess what other scenarios develop. But they're actively looking at all those issues now, and for the moment, the situation is well in hand because we're within the capacity of the facilities we've got, but we do want to make sure that we've got facilities available for contingencies.
Q Mike, does the United States favor an early negotiation between the PLO and Israel over the status of Jerusalem, as Yasser Arafat has been requesting recently, knowing that in the Declaration of Principles they said that negotiating over Jerusalem will begin as soon as possible, but not later than 1996, and if not, why your position will be --
MR. McCURRY: We favor the dialogue that is recommended between the parties within the Declaration of Principles. That is an issue that the parties themselves have identified for discussion within the Declaration. We think the Declaration remains a very valid framework for their future deliberations.
Q Another question on the area. Yasser Arafat this morning was interviewed by Ha'aretz daily newspaper in Tel Aviv, and he voiced a lot of unhappiness, almost to the point of desperation, because of the fact that the money was not coming, was not flowing to try to activate the Administration and everything.
Will the United States Administration do something to allay the fears or possibly push these things forward?
MR. McCURRY: I tell you, we certainly would. We understand his frustrations, and we hope as a result of the Secretary's recent trip to Gaza that the PLO understands some of our frustrations. There's money available, pledged right here in this building by the International Donor Community, that is available to the PLO as they begin to take on the responsibility of transforming the Gaza and Jericho territories, as they begin to move to their own self-governing responsibilities.
But they also take on the responsibilities to do that job effectively and to meet certain stipulations of the world community as the donor aid is provided. The Secretary met with Chairman Arafat in Gaza. We left behind our top specialist, Under Secretary of State for Economic Affairs Joan Spero to work very closely with the Chairman and the Chairman's folks on how you do simple things like accounting and keeping receipts and keeping payroll records and doing the things that would give the international community confidence that this money will be well spent.
I think the Secretary made it very clear and certainly made it very clear in a press conference after his meeting with the Chairman that the United States expects these types of standards to be met. We're not just sending this money out with no sense of wanting to know how the money will be spent. It's very important that we have the types of safeguards that will assure the donor community and assure -- not to mention the U.S. taxpayer -- that this money is going to be well spent for projects that will transform the life of the Palestinian people in Gaza and Jericho.
Q What Arafat also said was that he's fed up with the peace process. Is that a helpful comment coming from a new partner?
MR. McCURRY: The peace process is long and slow and difficult, as we all know, and I think all of us from time to time probably get frustrated with it, especially those of us who have to depart on a weekend to make another trip in that direction. That's one of the prices that you pay for addressing very, very tough issues very, very directly. It's frustrating and it's tough because they're dealing with central, substantive concerns. It's far better that they be in that kind of frustrating dialogue than to be in a position where no such dialogue is taking place.
Q Mike, is there anything new with the Bosnian Serbs?
MR. McCURRY: The Middle East. Go, Betsy.
Q In the Secretary's testimony he talked about a contract, which would be the first contract that would be let on cleaning up Gaza. All they were waiting for were the documents from the Palestinians. Do you know if those documents have been forthcoming?
MR. McCURRY: I don't know. That was flagged for attention when we were there. I suspect that everyone has moved quickly to get that documentation together. I know that Under Secretary Spero's discussions were to go through exactly some of those contracts. I don't believe the contract has been let yet. That was one of many that are ready to go if they can the paperwork together.
Again, it's not so often the case it's bureaucratic delays on our end. This is a case where we are just looking to get some fundamental structures in place so we would be assured that the PLO would be able to spend the money effectively. That continues to be something that we're going wrestle with, but we're going to stay at it.
Q Regarding the Secretary's trip this week to the Middle East, two things. What does he hope to accomplish vis-a-vis the Syrians? And, Number 2, insofar as the whole issue of terrorism is concerned, will terrorism be treated also during the Secretary's talks with Assad as a bilateral issue, given the fact that the United States now -- your boss -- had increased security; American Jews have undergone increased security?
MR. McCURRY: Terrorism is a subject of global concern. But we raise it when we are in discussions with them in what we call the bilateral forums that we have, simply to separate it from the multilateral nature of the peace process. But by no means does that change the significance or the importance that we attach to the world community's interest in the problem of terrorism.
So we make it clear that that is a subject we continue to press. And as the President himself has done, we will continue to press our concerns about terrorism and the recent terrorist activity that we've seen, which seeks to undermine the peace process.
As we get closer to Friday and the Secretary's departure, we might have a little more to say on the trip. This is not a trip -- it's of short duration, as you know. We will be returning early next week. It is a trip in which I believe the Secretary wants to touch base with the parties following some of the recent events in the region; to assess where things are; to see if there's anything we can do in our role as an mediary to move the process forward. But it is not a trip where we expect dramatic breakthroughs, by any means.
Q As a follow-up, has the United States given, or does the United States intend to give, any message to Syria for the delivery to Hezbollah, basically saying "Keep out of our country?"
I mean it as a very serious question.
MR. McCURRY: We have delivered very serious messages to the government of Syria on matters related to that general area. But I would decline to be completely specific about what we're doing in connection with that. Suffice to say, it is a subject of great concern to us. It is something that the Secretary has had dialogue with the Government of Syria about, and we will continue so to do.
Q To follow that, Mike, what is the United States role at present in countering the Hezbollah organization and their sponsors in the Middle East, especially the Iranians? Are we engaged?
MR. McCURRY: Very much so. As the Secretary himself indicated in his testimony last week, it is a subject that compels urgent attention by the United States. That is the level of attention that the problem is receiving.
Q Do you know anything about this case in which the Lebanese have had to release a prisoner in the LaBelle disco bombing because the United States failed to present some evidence required to hold him?
MR. McCURRY: I've got some on that. Certainly, it is not the case. We've been working with the German Government for some time, exchanging a lot of information with them about the LaBelle bombing case. The purpose of the exchange is in order to ensure the successful prosecution of Mr. Sharadi, who is the suspect that had been in Lebanese custody.
The problems in moving the information back and forth arise because of the quality and nature of the information. It is sensitive information, and it is being transferred in this case from one government to another. So there are reasons why that becomes a delicate and somewhat complicated transfer of information.
But the key thing is that this information is being transferred to the German Government for use in the eventual prosecution of Mr. Sharadi. It is not in connection with any request to transfer custody of the suspect from Lebanon to Germany, or in connection with what we would call an extradition request, although I don't believe that Lebanon and Germany have an extradition treaty.
So the notion that this material delayed somehow or other the departure of the suspect from Lebanon to Germany is inaccurate. It is information that we are working on to eventually succeed in prosecuting the suspect.
Q So in the meantime --
MR. McCURRY: He is no longer in direct custody. We find the fact that he has been released by Lebanese authorities to be both inexplicable and inexcusable. But, at the same time, we have had a variety of ways that we've suggested to the Government of Lebanon that it would be well within their interest to make sure that they know something about the whereabouts of the suspect.
Q I thought the Germans need our information to make a strong extradition case, however? Although our information is not directly related to the extradition. Don't they want it to help convince the Government of Lebanon to make the extradition?
MR. McCURRY: The information I have is that the information the Germans were seeking was in connection with the prosecution, not with extradition -- not with an extradition request.
Q But wouldn't those be the same --
MR. McCURRY: But in any event, the information has transferred as of June and is available to the German Government.
My understanding is that the information was being worked up in connection with the case they want to build against the suspect.
Q Vaguely the Middle East. A question from one of your bureaus about this American woman whose child, she claims, is being held as a kidnap victim in Amman; further claims of a contact here now has D'Amato writing letters. Have you got anything on that?
MR. McCURRY: I do. There are two cases that have been much in the news recently. I wouldn't want people to be confused. We have been simultaneousy working on a case that's gotten a lot of attention, especially in the New York area, on the Abequa case. This is the suspect who fled New Jersey after allegedly committing a murder against his wife, and the custody of the children is one of the issues there.
The case you're asking about is involving a woman named Mary Abbasi and her child. She left Jordan late last year and her husband. When she left, it's a case of marital difficulty. Her husband refused to allow their child to depart with her. She's been awarded custody by a New York court.
What we've been doing about it, we've been in touch with her and with her attorney and have offered to do what we do in cases like this. I'd like to run through it a little bit because it's actually one of the services that the people of the United States get from their government that I think it's important to know about.
There are about a 1,000 open cases of child custody around the world. Twenty of them are in Jordan. So this is one of the open cases that we're dealing with in Jordan.
As we do in these cases, the United States Government can't go in and tell foreign governments to release children to the custody of a U.S. parent simply because they've got in their hand a court order awarding custody.
What we do is, we try to work with the parent who has got a valid claim to custody and work with them to understand what the domestic law is in the country we're talking about -- in this case, Jordan -- so that they can seek through the local law the proper legal remedy and gain custody. It's exactly what we've offered to do in the case of the Abbasi child. We'll continue to be available to them to do the things that we do.
What can we do? We can help locate the child. Through our consular activity, we can make a request to see the child. That's within the proper function of a U.S. diplomat. That's important because that means we can check on the condition of a child. So if anyone is suffering abuse or if they're not being well taken care of, in a case when they're not being granted to the U.S. parent as requested, there's something we can do about it.
We then can follow up with the host government if we see anything wrong in the way the child is being treated. If we see that there is something happening to the child that would put the child in danger or at some risk, we can then go to the government and say, "Look, we want something to be done about this."
We can do as we have done in the case of the Abequa children and as we're willing to do in the case of the Abbasi children, we can go into the host government and say to them, "This is a matter of concern to us and we want you to ensure that the rights of our U.S. citizen is fully protected as this case is adjudicated through your domestic courts or your domestic legal proceedings. That very often does help ensure that the individual cases are successfully resolved.
We think in the case of the Abequa case, there's been very good progress very recently as a result of some of the contacts we've had through the Embassy. Then we can also do things like help a U.S. citizen going, in this case, to Jordan who might not have any idea of how to find a lawyer to go out and work through the local law that is going to grant custody.
So those are the kinds of things we do. And, as I say, we handle -- we handled about 800 such cases last year. We've got about 1,000 open cases on the book that our consular affairs section are actively working. They do, I think, a very good job in trying to resolve these matters.
In the case of the Abbasi case, as I just said, we have indicated to Mrs. Abbasi and to her attorney that we're willing to assist with them in doing what we can do through our diplomacy, which is to help understand the condition of the child, help them work through the local courts, and help them fight for their claim through the domestic law of Jordan.
But as the United States Government, we can't go to the Government of Jordan and tell them that they have to abide by a U.S. court order. That's not something we can do under international law.
Q Has any of this whole thing -- this information that they are releasing -- this is very important if I can get a copy of all this --
MR. McCURRY: Of all this stuff?
MR. McCURRY: We can figure out some form in which I'll make that more available than me walking through it.
Q Could I ask two questions? One on the fact that Nabil Sha'ath says it isn't an accounting problem at al; it's a problem of control of finances, and therefore the control of the government of the Palestinian Authority.
He's a graduate of the Wharton School of Finance. He also went on to say that Coopers and Libran was in place and was working in conjunction, at least, with the disbursements from the United States. Do you have any comment on that?
MR. McCURRY: That may well be true. I'm telling you what is necessary for the donor community to feel that they're in a good position to begin to transmit the funds directly to those who will be using the funds.
For whatever reason, those safeguards have not been put in place to the satisfaction of those who are making the donations. That may very well be because of the problem you suggest, that there's some reason internally why the PLO can't structure that. I have to point you to them. You would have to ask the question of why they're having trouble structuring that.
Q As a follow-up, Rabin has said that he's very concerned about the slowness of the pace.
MR. McCURRY: Yes. Absolutely.
Q Could you arrange a briefing by Spero on this, by any chance?
MR. McCURRY: I could. I could ask her to do it. Those who travelled on the last trip got a rather full dose of this, because we spent a lot of time --
MR. McCURRY: The Secretary's travel to Gaza included this as a very important element. I will see if there's a way that those who have been working through this could make some additional information available. It is very important, and it's very important to us that the safeguards be taken so that the assistance can be provided.
We fully recognize the urgency of getting assistance to the territories now so that people will see that there is, in fact, a reward for taking the path of peace. We understand the importance of that. It's one of the reasons why we have worked so closely and directly with the PLO to try to get that done.
Q Mike, who puts the safeguards? Is it any differt from the safeguards that the World Bank has initiated?
MR. McCURRY: It is no different -- in fact, no different at all than what the World Bank and other international institutions expect of any grant recipient or donation recipient. They're not asking for anything more cumbersome or more elaborate than what they ask in virtually every other case in which there is a major lending effort underway by one of the international financial institutions.
In fact, they even understand -- given what we're talking about, we're not dealing with a government here; we're dealing with an entity that's been established as a result of an agreement between the PLO and Israel. They've taken that into account, and said we don't even necessarily need 100 percent of the accounting of what we would normally ask for. Let's start with 20 percent, and let's just work up from there.
They've actually made accommodations, understanding what the reality is, as the PLO gets up and running and starts to structure some type of authority for Gaza and Jericho. They've taken that into account, and yet there still seems to be a problem getting the structures together and to get them up and running.
Q New subject?
MR. McCURRY: New subject. Haven't I exhausted you. Are we going to stay here forever.
Q David, you're missing the sandwich line.
Q The Bosnian Serbs --
MR. McCURRY: For those of you watching at home, the cafeteria lines in the State Department closes in 10 minutes, so you only have to suffer through ten more minutes.
Q Do you expect to see any Bosnian Serbs in the cafeteria line? Any change in their position today? There's been some reports. Any change in the Secretary's plans to stop?
MR. McCURRY: If you come here long enough, I'll probably be able to get one. The Bosnian Serb so-called Assembly is meeting down in Pale now. They were going to decide whether or not to conduct some type of referendum on the Contact Group proposal, all of which was sort of beside the point because the important thing was for someone there to say yes to the proposal and to get on with the discussion.
I'm not sure we have much hope that that was going to be an outcome of this Assembly, but that's the thing today that we are waiting for, which is some type of reaction from the Serb Assembly to see if they've given any new thought to the work of the Contact Group. We were not hopeful that they would. As we continue to believe that they're in a posture of having rejected the Contact Group's proposal.
Q What's the story with the sanctions resolution? They're suppose to be --
MR. McCURRY: They're working text and concepts, and it's moving along.
Q Is it still going to be introduced this week?
MR. McCURRY: I would prefer to say it's going to be introduced when they've got it ready. They've got that on a short time span versus a long time span. Maybe this week.
Q It appears that the amendment to the DoD authorization bill calling for the lifting of the arms embargo is going to be watered down to the point where it urges the President to try to do it through the Security Council.
My question is, will the pressure to unilaterally lift the arms embargo still be irresistible if Congress does not impose --
MR. McCURRY: There are discussions underway between Congressional leaders and the Administration on this subject. But I think those discussions fully take into account the strong desire on the part of the Congress to see a lifting of the arms embargo.
We would hope, on the part of the Administration, they would also take into account our very strong desire to see any lifting of the arms embargo to be addressed in a multilateral setting, because that's important for reasons that we have gone through here many times in the past.
At the moment, we will be working on some type of language; or we would prefer to work on language that would address the need for a multilateral lifting of the arms embargo. It's just too early at this point to know what the resolution of that specific Congressional language will be.
Q Let me just rephrase my question. Does the Administration want to lift the arms embargo absent pressure from Congress?
MR. McCURRY: The Administration wants to pursue lifting the arms embargo as one of the consequences for the Bosnian Serbs refusal to adopt the Contact Group's proposal if, in fact, the Bosnian Serbs continue to refuse to accept the Contact Group's proposal.
Remember, though, consistent with the communique the United States accepted as a member of the Contact Group, the lifting of the arms embargo is seen as a last resort consequence after additional steps are taken in other areas, defined, as you all know, by the Ministers when they met last Saturday.
Q Thank you.
MR. McCURRY: Thank you.
(Press briefing concluded at 1:51 p.m.)To the top of this page