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 10, 1994 U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE DAILY PRESS BRIEFING I N D E X Wednesday, August, 10 1994 Briefers: George Moose Michael McCurry AFRICA Opening Remarks of Asst. Secretary Moose ........1-4 Genocide/Discussions on Prosecution .............4-5 Stability of Burundi Government/Tribal Rivalry ..5-6 Aid for Refugees/Development ....................6-9 Situation in Nigeria ............................9 CUBA Boatpeople in US Custody/Reported Hijackings ....10-13 In-Country Processing for Emigres to US .........12-15 Economic/Political Conditions ...................15-17 Report of Plane Landing in US ...................29 HAITI US View of Military Leaders' Departure ..........18 PAKISTAN Discussions with US on F-16 Sales ...............18-21 ARGENTINA Reported Intention to Expel Iranian Terrorists ..20-21 BOSNIA Serbia's Closing of Border with Bosnia ..........21,23 Congressional Vote on Lifting Sanctions on Bosnia ........................................21-22 Fighting ........................................22 Contact Group's Peace Plan/Sanctions ............23-25 TAIWAN US Review of Relations ..........................25-27 NORTH KOREA Talks in Geneva .................................27-28 (###)
DEPARTMENT OF STATE DAILY PRESS BRIEFING
WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 10, 1994, 12:53 P.M. (ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED)
MR. McCURRY: Good afternoon everybody. Since this is my first day back, I've decided I would bring in a guest star so I can ease into the briefing process a little bit. But I did want to have Assistant Secretary for African Affairs, George Moose, tell you about a trip he just concluded to Africa.
He went out with Defense Secretary Perry on July 30. He visited Rwanda and Burundi and then continued to consult with key officials in Rwanda, Burundi, and elsewhere in the region. The itinerary included, I think, if I'm not mistaken, Zaire, Tanzania, Kenya, and Uganda. So I thought it would be a good idea for him to talk a little bit about some of the humanitarian relief efforts underway there. He's prepared to take some questions on subjects related to the trip and the region, generally.
So we'll start with what I think will be a very welcome addition to our normal routine here. Assistant Secretary George Moose.
ASSISTANT SECRETARY MOOSE: Thanks very much, Mike. As Mike indicated, I just returned Monday evening from what was about an eight-day trip to the region. I went out with Secretary Perry.
One of our first priorities, of course, was to confirm that the humanitarian relief operation was, in fact, getting up and running as we had hoped and wished and, indeed, that our support for that operation was effective.
I think the answers to those questions were both affirmative. We are all aware that there remain tremendous problems on the relief side. Even now, we are still confronting challenges with regard to both the delivery of food and medicines and of water. Medical officials in the camps are facing a variety of medical challenges.
But I think in terms of the response on the part of the international community, generally, and in terms of the unique capacities which our own military provided, that we have reason to be very satisfied with both the rapidity of that response and the effectiveness of that response.
I stayed in the region primarily, however, to look at the next phase in this operation. I don't think it's -- "operation" -- I don't mean by that military, but the next phase in the developments in the region. I don't think it is too early to begin to look at that. There are two fundamental dimensions to that. One is, what will be required in order to encourage the earliest possible return of refugees to Rwanda.
And, second, and very much related to that is the question of what is needed to begin to establish a basis for long-term social and political reconciliation in Rwanda.
I had an opportunity to meet with senior officials of the new government in Rwanda. Frankly, we were encouraged by those conversations -- encouraged to believe that the government is, indeed, sensitive to and responsive to a whole range of issues which we believe will be critical to creating the conditions inside of Rwanda that will encourage a return and a process of reconciliation. That includes questions of cooperation with the international agencies, particularly with UNAMIR.
Already there is the beginning of joint patrols with UNAMIR and the Rwandan government forces. It includes their willingness to see deployed quickly human rights monitors to help bring a sense of security to the interior of the country. It includes our discussions, which are continuing, about their support for an international judicial process; to bring those responsible for the genocide to account.
In fact, I will simply mention here that my colleague John Shattuck of our Human Rights Bureau has been in the region in Kigali over the weekend and has had further discussions with senior officials of the government on those issues.
With all of those good intentions, however, I think it is fair to say that the government faces enormous challenges in actually creating those conditions, not least because all of the normal instrumentalities of government -- civil service, police force, local administration, not to mention services like telephone, electricity, etc. -- are all gone.
Many of the senior administrators were killed during the genocide. Many others are outside of the country.
So with the best of will and intent, it is going to take an awful lot of effort to, indeed, concretize the policies that the new government says it intends to put in place, and that, in turn, is going to require a fair amount of effort on the part of U.N. agencies and the international community, generally.
There is a further dimension to this, as you are all aware, and that is the situation that prevails in the refugee camps outside the country. We have been made all too well aware of the fact that in those camps the efforts at intimidation and propagandizing continue. Such as even with a significant improvement in the situation within Rwanda, it remains questionable how quickly those obstacles to the return of refugees can be overcome.
That constitutes yet another dimension to this problem which will require efforts on the part of neighboring states and the support of the international community.
Let me just mention quickly, too, there is an immediate problem in the so-called safe humanitarian zone which the French and their allied forces have been occupying in the southwest of Rwanda. That transition from the French force -- the French-led force -- to UNAMIR is already underway with deployment of Ghanaian troops and others into that area. It is critically important that transition take place in an orderly fashion so as not to precipitate a further refugee exodus into Zaire or into Burundi.
Therefore, we have been working in close contact with the United Nations and with other countries to help facilitate the most rapid possible deployment of the UNAMIR force.
Lastly, let me just touch on my visit to Burundi. Clearly, the tensions that the violence that has taken place in Rwanda over the last four months have greatly exacerbated an already tense political situation in Burundi.
There are now some 200,000 Rwandan refugees in Burundi, many of whom, of course, are highly traumatized, highly politicized, and who have, therefore, injected that element into Burundi's already tense political environment.
We continue to believe that the moderate elements in the government, in the military, and in society in Burundi can overcome the current political impasse in Burundi. But we are concerned by the presence of extremists groups and elements who seem intent on blocking a resolution of the current Presidential succession crisis.
Over the last week or so, we have seen some encouraging signs that those who are in positions of responsibility and authority are beginning to deal effectively with the more disruptive elements. For our part, and I think on the part of the international community, it's extremely important that we continue both to support those moderate elements and to underscore the unacceptability of a few extremists blocking the transition and thereby fueling the already tense political environment in Burundi.
I will close simply by saying I also spent time talking with a number of regional leaders -- President Mwinyi of Tanzania who has shown great leadership in the past in terms of a regional process of political reconciliation and who shows great willingness to assume that responsibility again in the future.
I also had a chance in the course of this trip to travel to South Africa where I met at the President's request with President Mandela, simply to brief him on the situation in the region and to seek his thoughts and his advice.
I think this is an area where African leadership is going to be critical; that President Mwinyi with the support of people like President Mandela will have a major role to play in trying to establish a process for reconciliation in the future.
Let me end my comments there, and I will be happy to take your questions.
Q Secretary Moose, what would this government propose to do about the agitators and intimidators in the refugee camps in Burundi and in Zaire?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY MOOSE: I think, generally speaking, there needs to be a mandate and authority for the arrest and detention and prosecution of those people who are suspected of instigating, directing and organizing the violence.
We have said all along that we believe that that should be done in the context of an international tribunal. We believe that authority needs to be given to neighboring states to arrest -- detain those people who are so suspected.
I know my colleague, John Shattuck, who has been in the region has been talking specifically to those issues. I expect him to be back here on Thursday, and, when he returns, we will have a clearer idea of exactly how that can be done.
But clearly there has to be a process laid out that will allow neighboring states to exercise authority to detain people and then a procedure worked out for what happens to those people pending the actual functioning of the proposed tribunal.
Q Does this have to come from the U.N.?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY MOOSE: I believe it would. I believe it would require a decision probably by the Security Council to establish such a body.
Q And we will seek that soon?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY MOOSE: That discussion in fact is already underway and formal consultations are taking place in New York.
Q You said the violence has been in Burundi the last few days, and what can be done to prevent that situation from falling apart?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY MOOSE: There have been a series of strikes and demonstrations in Bujumbura itself over the last few days, although the situation there today is considerably calmer precisely because again elements of the government and the military have taken decisive action to put an end to some of those strikes.
I think the situation is most troublesome and most worrying in the countryside, partly again because of the arrival of these refugees. But there we do have evidence that over the last week or so there have been confrontations. It's not entirely clear who's responsible for those, but it is a situation which, if not gotten under control quickly, could be explosive.
I think the most immediate problem, as I said earlier, is the resolution of the Presidential succession issue, because in effect at the moment there is not a government in place in Burundi -- or not a functioning one. And until and unless that issue is addressed, the questions of effective security activities and effective governance will not be resolved.
Q Secretary Moose, is the Burundi instability primarily a function of ethnic Hutu and Tutsi rivalries as it is in Rwanda, and is that rivalry spilling over to the refugees? Is that the sentiment that's stirring up the trouble, and is that rivalry also dangerous to other countries around Rwanda?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY MOOSE: As you know, the same ethnic mix that existed in Rwanda is mirrored in Burundi, and I think it's quite clear there are certainly other elements in this equation. There are some very clearly political elements. There was an election last fall, last October, as many of you may recall.
There was an attempt after that election to overthrow the new government in which the newly elected President was assassinated. There are political dimensions to this, but there is also, I think, quite clearly an ethnic dimension which is important, and that ethnic dimension has been exacerbated by the violence that we have seen most recently in Rwanda.
There are potential impacts as well for other countries. Clearly, the influx of already more than one million refugees into eastern Zaire has created problems of security and instability in that part of the region as well.
Q Is this phrase "tribal difficulties" in Zaire as well?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY MOOSE: There is a certain presence, yes, of the same ethnic groups in Zaire, but less so. It's not a dominant factor in the Zaire situation.
Q I recall reading a couple of weeks ago that some of the aid money used to help Rwandans was reprogrammed away from Sudan and Angola, and obviously the needs in those two countries are great; and what has happened, if those reports are true, to these people? Were they left high and dry, or are other actions being taken?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY MOOSE: What was done -- and this was done primarily by the international relief agencies, World Food Program in particular -- diverted, borrowed, if you will, resources that were destined for Angola and for Sudan and perhaps for other countries in order to meet the immediate requirements in Zaire, with the understanding and the pledge that those supplies would be replenished within a period of a month to two months.
I don't have the current update on what the status of that replenishment is, but we were assured that the letter of that and the spirit of that commitment would be honored.
Q On a slightly larger issue, with the foreign aid bill about or nearing final passage -- it just passed the House -- is the amount of money appropriated or to be spent on Africa -- in view of what has happened and what is going to happen on the continent, is the amount of money set aside for development in Africa anywhere near the amount of money that's necessary?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY MOOSE: I think that we have in our budget and collectively in international budgets sums of money which would allow us to address the major problems, developmental problems as well as security problems, in Africa. I think, as I said before, to Congress on many occasions as well, clearly this is an area where the development challenges are such that if we had more money available to us, we could find effective ways to spend it.
I think all of the events of the last year, and particularly this one, cause us to reflect on what we require in the way of additional capacity -- international organizations and others -- as well as additional resources if we are to try to have a chance, an opportunity to avert some of these crises in the future.
Q So what --
ASSISTANT SECRETARY MOOSE: That reflection, at least on my part, has been --
Q Do you see the amount of money sharply going up in subsequent years to address the problems like those in Rwanda and those and Nigeria, Zaire and elsewhere?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY MOOSE: Obviously, I can't speculate. This is a process that involves not only this Department or this Administration but also the Congress. I do think, though, in my contacts with other people in the Congress and in the public there is a growing -- I would simply refer to Brian Atwood's recent initiative in the Horn, his proposals for how we avert another major food catastrophe, to begin with, in that area.
I think as we think our way through those issues, we may indeed come up with some new ideas and new proposals to discuss with the Congress.
Q (Inaudible) the budget for the State Department has been increasingly directed towards Africa, and what I would like to know is this: That the aid to refugees seems primarily based on donations to the HCR which are based in part and congressional approval for budgets which seem to be driven by media coverage, and, if not media coverage, then in our country driven by our connections with Vietnamese or Cubans or Soviet Jews or other personal considerations that our country has.
Is there any thought to liberate -- and this is a long-term policy consideration -- to liberate refugee aid from these sort of constraints, from waiting until a catastrophe develops so that the purse strings are loosened or directing it according to our old buddies -- you know --
ASSISTANT SECRETARY MOOSE: I think I'm really going to have to refer your question to my colleague, Phyllis Oakley. Let me simply say that for our part, as we, the Africa Bureau, have sought to assist both AID and our Refugee Bureau in thinking ahead about problems, we have sought not to be driven exclusively or even primarily by media coverage, but rather by what we understand the need to be -- whether it's in an Angola or a Sudan.
I do think that we have over the last several years, because of the authority granted by Congress -- have had greater flexibility and greater capacity to respond to crises when they arise. But when you have a crisis like Rwanda, which totally overwhelms either our expectations or our resources, it's clear that some additional authority and resources are needed.
Q Then follow up one question: Do you have an estimate of the total cost of the Rwanda -- of all the aid to Rwanda for the United States at this point?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY MOOSE: All I can cite to you is an indication of what we are providing is the request of the Administration sent to Congress for its emergency supplemental, and that figure was $320 million. Whether that will be the final figure, I think at this point we really don't know.
Q How much danger do you think there is about wider regional conflict developing in central Africa if the Zairian Army were to help the former Rwandan Army rearm the Ugandans helping the RPF? Is that something which you're assessing seriously?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY MOOSE: I don't think that's really the problem. I think the problem is one in which we now have more than a million and a half refugees outside of Rwanda. I think under the best of circumstances we are likely to see a number of them -- a substantial number of them remain outside of Rwanda.
The concern that I have is that if those people cannot -- if conditions can't be created in Rwanda which encourages their return in a reasonably short period of time, then one has the seeds of a repetition of the same cycle of violence that we've seen; that these are people who will nurture, clearly, their own grievances and can be expected to try to plot their own return.
Therefore, I think it is incumbent, it is imperative, that we begin now to try to defuse that situation before it produces that outcome. I do think that in the current circumstances we have an opportunity to do that, based in part on the willingness of the new government to respond to international concerns, and also in fact that in the light of this crisis, there is tremendous mobilization interests/desire on the part of the international community to do whatever it can to try to prevent another turn in the cycle.
Q Just one more briefly on Nigeria. What have you learned from Reverend Jackson and from your own travels about the Nigerian -- potential Nigerian -- or the potential in Nigeria for civil war?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY MOOSE: I think there certainly is a potential in Nigeria for greater strife if in fact our efforts and the efforts of others to influence the current course of the current government are not successful. We have been saying for some time that the path on which the government had embarked was not in our view one that would lead either to social peace or to a resolution of the constitutional crisis.
The reaction of arresting democracy leaders, including people like Chief Abiola, has only contributed to a crisis of political confidence in Nigeria. The constitutional conference, we have said all along, would not be credible if it did not deal with the issues of the June 12 election and resolve them.
So our hope is that -- and I believe that this is till possible -- I think the Reverend Jackson's trip demonstrated that in fact there are people who understand the depth of that crisis, and our hope is that they will prevail in the current debate, current discussions on Nigeria.
(Assistant Secretary Moose concluded his briefing at 1:15 p.m.)
MR. McCURRY: Thank you, Assistant Secretary Moose. Other questions, other places?
MR. McCURRY: Cuba. I'll go with Mr. Gedda. Do you want to have a start on Cuba?
Q Yes. What do you know about the hijacked vessel which apparently turned up this morning in Key West?
MR. McCURRY: Let me run through what we know, beginning yesterday at around 4:15. The U.S. Coast Guard cutter Monhegan arrived alongside a 50-foot Cuban Government boat in international waters about 60 miles southwest of Key West, Florida, 4:15 p.m. yesterday. I understand it was a cement boat, apparently.
Twenty-six people aboard were transferred to the Coast Guard cutter since the vessel was taking on water and was judged to be in difficulty. No one aboard was injured. No one was in uniform and no weapons were found on the Cuban vessel. The Cuban vessel sank later that evening. That would be last evening.
The vessel is believed to be one in which Cuban border guards reported as being hijacked near the port of Mariel sometime on August 8.
The 26 Cubans who were originally taken on the Monhegan were transferred to the Coast Guard cutter Courageous. The Courageous has now docked at Key West, and those 26 Cubans are being interviewed by U.S. Justice Department personnel to determine what exactly did and did not happen as the vessel attempted to leave port from Cuba.
At the moment, we don't have any independent confirmation of a Cuban Government claim dating back to yesterday that a Cuban naval officer was killed in the incident and that several persons were thrown overboard when the vessel left Mariel on August 8.
I understand within the last two hours or so, the Cuban Interests Section here may have had a press conference of some type in which they've provided additional information. In any event, it seems that more work will need to be done by U.S. authorities down in Florida before we know exactly the circumstances that led the departure of the craft and the difficulty that arose as the 26 clearly faced danger.
Q Do you know enough to know whether a crime was committed?
MR. McCURRY: At this point, as I say, we have no independent confirmation of the Cuban Government's claim that a Cuban naval officer was killed in the incident.
Q But what about hijacking the boat? Isn't that a crime?
MR. McCURRY: It's not clear. Our lawyers at the question of what international law arises in a case like this. I haven't had any good answers from them yet. I think they're looking at case law precedent and international law to determine what exactly are the international legal circumstances that arises as a result of this.
Q The United States might have to return people if they committed a crime?
MR. McCURRY: There are no plans at present that I'm aware of to return any of these 26 to Cuba.
Q We're into hypothetics, but you're willing go into them. Even if it turns out they committed murder, you would still not send them back; right?
MR. McCURRY: I'm aware of no plans at the present to return them, and we have not established that any capital crime was committed.
Q Three passenger boats last week -- not this week -- also used weapons, took two passengers as hostages and had taken one policeman. This (inaudible) will be investigated? Are they detained for investigation?
MR. McCURRY: My understanding is those individuals are still in U.S. custody and are being interviewed.
Q Mike, will these people be tried in U.S. courts if they are found to have committed crimes?
MR. McCURRY: That has not been determined. The incident itself, if there was an incident, occurred in Cuba. It's not clear what the applicability of U.S. law would be in those circumstances.
Q In the description this morning, they say they are open to dialogue; that they want to negotiate with the United States and they kind of demanded that the United States doesn't tell (Inaudible), the Chief of the Cuban-American Foundation have a voice.
MR. McCURRY: They need not make demands. We have had, since 1984, an arrangement by which we discuss these issues through our Cuban Interests Section, and we continue to do that and will continue to do that to resolve these issues.
We believe that migration from Cuba should occur in a legal manner, safe and orderly way to protect the rights and, indeed, the safety of those individuals who are interested and desire to leave Cuba.
Q How many visas have been extended by the U.S. Interests Section in Havana this year -- so far this year -- compared to how many last year?
MR. McCURRY: That is a request that we're working up as a result of a question that my able colleague David Johnson got on Monday concerning in-country processing. We've been looking into that. It turns out that those numbers are not easy to assemble, but we do have people through the regional INS office in Mexico City working on some numbers. It will include, I think -- in answer to that question, we'll make that available as we can make it available, probably sometime later this week.
Q For information, does the protocols regarding airplane hijacking and the return of the planes and the people who do this hijacking, is that different? Is there anything similar on, I guess, what could be called piracy or the same thing happening at sea?
MR. McCURRY: Some of the experts I talked with this morning, Saul, tell me that there are some differences. In the case of aircraft, there are piracy statutes involved; questions arise when the aircraft is a non-U.S. aircraft. There is different law applicable of air hijacking or air piracy versus acts on the seas. So the answer is, there are differences. But in this case, we are still looking at the legal implications of the incident we're talking about -- the one in Cuba.
Q When did they arrive at Key West?
MR. McCURRY: My understanding was that the ship was due at port at around 11:00 a.m. this morning. (TO STAFF) Have had confirmation that it's arrived? I think I've seen a news ticker saying that it has arrived, but we have not heard further from INS officials on the results of the discussions that we plan to have with those who are on board.
Why don't we work our way back. Steve.
Q Mike, two things. Can you say anything about the reports that there was a high-level defector in that group of 26 people?
MR. McCURRY: I heard a story, too, that the Miami Herald saying that we have no information, absolutely no information available to us right now that I'm aware of that suggests that's true.
Q Secondly, to that, can you talk about reports of fairly extensive plans in place to blockade the straits should a Mariel II start?
MR. McCURRY: That was a bit of an exaggeration over something I think we've talked about here in the past. There is contingency planning that the United States Government has done for very good reasons, since the Mariel incident in 1980.
We look at contingencies that involve scenarios in which there is a prospective mass exodus from Cuba. We frankly do that type of work and update those contingency plans on a regular basis. There are a lot of U.S. authorities involved, various U.S. agencies that work closely with state, local, and community leaders to develop the necessary plans. But those are all options that then are available to U.S. decision-makers.
How we handle various situations or how we would deal with various scenarios is something for good reason we don't discuss publicly because we don't want those measures to be defeated easily. There is contingency planning going underway.
I imagine that the article is relating to some of the options or contingencies that might arise in that evidence.
Again, I would stress, it's our hope that we can take steps in the dialogue that we do have through our Cuban Interests Section and also in the things that we have said publicly -- even here from the State Department podium -- to encourage all parties to avoid violence and to proceed with migration that is safe, legal, and orderly.
Q On that very point, you talk about the need for safe and orderly migration. It's anything but safe and orderly now. You have an average of about 20 people a day, this year, arriving on these rafts. That seems to be very unsafe and disorderly. Isn't there anything the United States can do to resolve that problem?
MR. McCURRY: What we can do is to discourage those who would seek to add substantial risk to themselves to attempt to emigrate in that fashion; and to remind people that there are ways through the in-country processing that is available in Cuba to process a valid claim for migration to the United States. We have done that with some success in the case of Haiti.
In the case of Cuba, we do understand there are different circumstances that apply, but there is long- standing policy that provides for that type of legal, safe, and orderly departure.
Q Excuse me. Same sort of question. You made reference to what is being said at the podium. Are there any public means being used to tell the Cuban people not to commit crimes -- just piracy and murder -- in order to get out of the country? Because, after all, there's great propaganda value to the United States when people try to leave the country that you consider a dictatorship.
MR. McCURRY: We have, Barry, here and then locally in the Miami area on numerous occasions reminded the public of the U.S. law that applies to the use of violence in connection of illegal immigration. We will continue to press that case.
We, in a very public way, suggested there are consequences for the use of force in connection with illegal migration. We'll continue to do so.
At the same time, the purpose of facilities like Radio Marti, for instances, is to provide accurate and truthful information on conditions that exists in Cuba and to remind people of the merits and value of democracy and the need to protect human rights.
Q Thank you, Mike. As of several years ago -- and I expect that it is the same way now -- the American Interests Section in Havana is surrounded by Cuban police. For example, if an American citizen were to visit the Interests Section, he might draw the interest of the Secret Police for some time as to what his activities were. I expect it must be much the same with Cuban citizens, or much worse with Cuban citizens who can only expect a long drawn out process of screening and visa application who will then take to the boats to get a sure landing ticket, a landing card to come to this country.
Is there any way, or shouldn't be talking to Castro about changing that situation?
MR. McCURRY: I think we should be suggesting that peaceful change in Cuba and the promotion of democracy is something that gets at the core of why people would seek to leave Cuba. It is a totalitarian state in which the conditions that arise in a totalitarian state do lead people to believe that they should attempt to flea. That's something that the United States has understood for some time, and our long-standing policy is based on the premise that peaceful change in Cuba is the way in which to resolve the problems that would lead to the conditions we're discussing.
Q Mike, I'd like to take you back to the incident itself. I think a Coast Guard officer said last night that it was possible that one of the members of the crew, or the people who were on board, was in fact the lieutenant who supposedly was killed. I understand from eyewitnesses that there was a person among that 26 that got off the boat this morning that was dressed, at least, partially in military uniform and had some kind of officer's flaps on his shirt.
Is there anything in that information that sounds correct to you? And is that what's leading you to suggest that you have no information to support the Cuban contention that somebody was killed?
MR. McCURRY: That is, in part, why I haven't suggested that there's no information to corroborate those claims that initiated in Cuba yesterday. I do believe that there may have been some preliminary information provided last night, in the course of last night. One of the problems in providing preliminary information is, you're not always sure it's entirely buttoned up.
What they're doing right now is making sure that they've got the best information from those who are on the boat as to what occurred when the boat was in port in Cuba. As I say, we don't have at this point a good, thorough assessment of what actually did happen.
There are conflicting accounts that come from Cuba that apparently have been suggested by some of the people who were on the vessel. So we're sorting it out now; as we speak and as we can provide factual information that is accurate, we will do so.
Q Mike, can you speak to the more general situation in Cuba -- the political situation and what current assessment of the Department is as to how fragile or how firm it is? What we think?
MR. McCURRY: Our general assessment is that the conditions in Cuba are not satisfactory, and they arise because of the nature of the regime itself. That's why change in the regime itself is, how to get at the fundamental problem that does arise for the citizens of Cuba. In so many obvious ways, the citizens of Cuba yearn for democracy and for a peaceful change in the nature of their political system.
I think the conditions that arise as a result of the deprivation and the economic hardship faced by the people of Cuba are those that lead to some of the incidents that we have seen in recent days. Our assessment is that those conditions deteriorate because over time, the conditions in totalitarian societies of that nature do tend to deteriorate.
Q Firm that up that a little bit, then, with --
MR. McCURRY: No.
Q -- by asking you where things are now? How unstable do you think things are given actions in recent days? Or do you think the lid is back on?
MR. McCURRY: You want me to bring out the national intelligence estimate and read it for all of you? I can't do that.
Q How about something in between?
MR. McCURRY: I think I did a pretty good job of what's in between just a little bit ago.
Q I'm sorry to go back to the hijackers last week. You said they were under U.S. custody and they were being investigated.
Also, the Cuban Government says that some of these individuals may have criminal records. In this investigation, you are expecting or requesting Cuban cooperation?
MR. McCURRY: I don't know the answer to that. I'll have to find out whether, based on our interviews with any of those who we currently are talking to from the incidents last week, we requested any clarification from the Cuban Government. I'm not aware that we have done so. But if we have, we will post that in the Press Office later.
Q (Inaudible) newspaper story. The same story says that the United States Interests Section in Havana has been given assurances by the Cuban Government that they are preparing another Mariel. Is this true?
MR. McCURRY: I believe that Fidel Castro said so publicly, or may have said something to suggest that.
We have not heard anything in our dialogue with them that would suggest that they are attempting to do that. But, as I believe we suggested in a Department statement earlier this week or late last week, we don't leave it up to Fidel Castro to dictate U.S. immigration policy. We will not be subject to any ply or any scheme similar to the Mariel boat lift incident of 1980.
Q You mentioned the unsatisfactory conditions in Cuba. You didn't mention one factor which the Cubans always mention which is the economic embargo by the United States. To what extent do you think those unsatisfactory conditions in Cuba have been caused or contributed to (inaudible) the embargo?
MR. McCURRY: There are steps in place to pressure the Government of Cuba to change. But there are also, as I suggested earlier, things about the nature of the regime that are endemic to the types of frustrations faced by the Cuban people and the type of economic hardship that you see in Cuba. How those two sort out, I'm not expert enough to answer.
Q Mike, do you all have any reports of disturbances -- other disturbances -- last night in Havana or in other parts of Cuba?
MR. McCURRY: I don't believe so, Betsy. I haven't heard of anything. I think, as you know, we may have discussed some disturbances at the end of last week, but I have not heard of anything newer in recent days.
There have been some signs of growing frustration with the economic situation in Cuba, and that there have been signs of protest in recent days. I'm not certain at this point how widespread those incidents are.
Q How many people are being held as a result of last week's three boats being picked up?
MR. McCURRY: This is the three boats we were discussing earlier. I do not have account. I can try to find out more about that.
Since I was out of the country, it may have been dealt with. (TO STAFF) Did you deal with any of that? We'll see if we can get some more on that.
Q Can we switch subjects?
MR. McCURRY: Sure.
Q The Secretary's statement yesterday on the airplane was given at least two interpretations. The one that seems to be on print is that the U.S. is sort of lax about threatening invasion, sort of giving Cedras a lot of room. I didn't happen to get that impression.
You want to try it one more time and tell us why failure to issue an ultimatum somehow suggests that the United States is not adamant about Cedras' departure?
MR. McCURRY: I believe the United States has been more than adamant about the need for the Haitian military leaders to depart.
I will say what I said some time ago here, and it would be my standard answer to a question on deadlines or timetable: We don't intend to get into that because we are not going to telegraph any punch that we might deliver at any point. That was my story then and I'll stick with it.
Q (Inaudible) Mike, still about non- proliferation? And the F-16s to Pakistan, have you officially conveyed that the proposal has been shelved to the Government of Pakistan?
MR. McCURRY: Let me back up and give a little bit of detail because this arose over the course of the last two days. I don't believe David had a chance to brief on it.
The Pakistani Government, as some of you know, has paid a total of $658 million to the Peacegate Four program which involved providing 60 F-16 aircraft to Pakistan.
When the President was unable to certify in 1990 that Pakistan did not possess a nuclear weapon under the conditions of the Pressler Amendment -- the Pressler Amendment is the governing act here that we've discussed very often here -- the aircraft came under sanctions specified by law and, thus, they could not be delivered to Pakistan.
About a year ago Pakistan requested a restructuring of the contract to produce only 17 aircraft of the 60 that originally had been ordered. We've had on-going discussions with the Government of Pakistan on the disposition of these aircraft but no final decisions have been made.
Of course, there are a lot of possibilities that arise. Among the possibilities is a Pakistani decision to meet some of our non-proliferation concerns in a way that would make it possible to deliver the aircraft, or for Pakistan to take delivery of the aircraft. But those are matters that we continue to hold in discussion with the Pakistani Government and as of today are not resolved.
Q Mr. Wisner said that it had been shelved. (Inaudible)
MR. McCURRY: I don't believe there's been any forward progress in those discussions for some time. I don't know that I would dispute Ambassador Wisner's account, but I'm not aware of any forward progress in those discussions.
But as I just suggested, it is within the realm of the possible that we could see some forward progress on our non-proliferation concerns that would allow Pakistan to take delivery of the aircraft in question.
Q The Pakistani Government this morning raised another possibility, which is that they want their money back now. What about it? You do have the money?
MR. McCURRY: We have talked to the Government of Pakistan about it. My impression is, they're more interested in the aircraft than they are the money, but Pakistan will receive money to which it is entitled.
Q Does that mean they're going to get --
Q Another country --
MR. McCURRY: Hold on. Hold on. George.
Q But you owe them for 43 planes. Can they expect that money?
MR. McCURRY: I guess --
Q Can they expect that money?
MR. McCURRY: They've indicated now that they want either the money or the aircraft. We've indicated that we're discussing it with them and that they will receive money if it is money to which they are entitled as against to aircraft to which they want.
Q In discussing with people in this Department on the causes of what's going on in Africa, everybody seems to agree that too many developing countries have spent too much money on arms and the United States has been among those that should cut it out. Here we are with Pakistan, one of those countries in great danger, according to all the experts in this building, why shouldn't we want to insist that they buy the aircraft if they want the money? Wouldn't it be better public policy for Pakistan to get the money back?
MR. McCURRY: Saul, that question is an interesting question, but it's based on the premise that the Government of Pakistan would, in fact, prefer to have the money than the aircraft. That's something apparently that may have been said by the government this morning, so I'd really want to step back on this.
Q But it's part of the United States policy, Mike, not to transfer conventional arms to the third world, or to try to do it as little possible.
MR. McCURRY: We pursue our non-proliferation concerns in both conventional and weapons of mass destruction areas very deliberately. We just had a briefing on that fairly recently.
We also understand that there are areas of conflict in the world in which we can play a useful role and which U.S. arm sales are sometimes both in our interest and in the interest of the host government. We do pursue those sales and we do so under strict criteria that meets our values and our concerns as a country. I think that's an important stipulation from the outset.
It's one thing to talk about arms transfers that occur by those who do not have the same consistent approach to questions of conventional armaments and balance and proliferation that the United States of America does. There's a qualitative difference.
Q But one of those concerns is the economy and the future of Pakistan as a state?
MR. McCURRY: We have great concern for the future of both the political and economic future of Pakistan. It's one of the reasons why we pursue a very active bilateral relationship with the government of Pakistan.
Q An Argentine judge has named members of the Iranian Embassy in connection with the Argentine bombing. I understand the President of Argentina has suggested that the Iranian Ambassador be expelled. I know this is a domestic issue for Argentina, but I understand the United States has had people assisting in the investigation. So could you give us some sense of our reaction to these developments?
MR. McCURRY: I don't have any information on any specific help that we rendered law enforcement officials in Argentina as they investigated the question. But I would say you have heard us suggest that there are those who foment and sponsor terrorism around the world. So the involvement or the alleged involvement of Iran comes as absolutely no surprise to the United States.
This is a subject that we track diligently, and it's one that is very much part of our approach to counter- terrorism worldwide.
Q Mike, did you say you have concern about Pakistan's future, you have interest in Pakistan's future?
MR. McCURRY: We are both concerned and have interest in the future of Pakistan's economy and political system, among many reasons -- as we do with a country that we have close and good relations -- we pursue an active dialogue with them on subjects of mutual concern.
Q On Bosnia, do you have anything new on how, number one, the U.S. -- the Administration will proceed with Congress on lifting the embargo? And, secondly, have you been able to authenticate, beyond yesterday, that Serbia is indeed closing its border to the Bosnian Serbs?
MR. McCURRY: We are continuing to see things that suggest that Serbia is serious about its effort to close that border. Among other things, there is an account somewhere in the papers today about having trouble getting U.N. relief supplies through, and our understanding is that that apparently is a bureaucratic and administrative issue and not something that results from their policy. But I think it is an indicator that they are being pretty thorough as they attempt to address the closing of the border.
But, as Secretary Christopher suggested to some of you yesterday, by no means are we satisfied until we see that there is a continued and persistent effort to stop this shipment of arms and materiel across that border and to the Bosnian Serbs.
On the first part of your question, Barry, there's been a very active dialogue up on the Hill with Congressional leaders on language that I believe is going to be -- it's language that arises in the context of the defense authorization bill, and I think they're going to attach it, as I understand it, to the defense appropriations bill. And I would leave it up to the Hill leaders to describe that.
I've got sort of a cursory understanding of what it includes, but they were going to debate and vote the provision today, and it's one that I would say probably causes us some trouble. But in general, the approach that is recommended by the Hill leaders in the provision that I believe the Majority Leader and Senator Nunn are working on in the Senate does give us a way in which we can continue to press the Contact Group proposal and is consistent indeed with the formulation of the Contact Group ministers themselves who, suggested that a multilateral lifting of the arms embargo could be unavoidable as a last resort if the Bosnian Serbs do not accept the proposal put forward to them by the Contact Group.
Q How are things going in the Sarajevo exclusion zone? Any heavy weapons floating around?
MR. McCURRY: We had a report that General Rose had sent a letter to both sides to try to get them (1) to cease and desist in fighting in and around the exclusion zone; and then (2) to comply with the terms of the exclusion zone itself. We support that. Our latest update is that there does not appear to be any repeated violations today but there does appear to be -- there's testing and conflict and ground fighting in and around the exclusion zone itself.
Sarajevo itself was relatively quiet -- continued snipering but no serious injuries reported.
Q Is it contemplated at all that the Bosnian Government forces could be subjected to air action?
MR. McCURRY: It was contemplated in the original discussion of creating the exclusion zone back in February, but, as we indicated then, it was highly unlikely. I think it remains so today.
Q The Secretary mentioned yesterday that there is a possibility -- certain condition possibility -- for easing the sanctions against Yugoslavia. I wonder if you could be more specific? For example, is U.S. Government going to ask for deployment of U.N. monitors along the border with Bosnia or recognition -- diplomatic recognition of Bosnia?
MR. McCURRY: I guess I would stress in answering -- no, I can't be more specific. I'd stress that the Secretary himself was very circumspect about that proposition. He said he certainly and the United States certainly would not be the first to advocate any lessening of the sanctions on Serbia, and any step to do so would happen only after an extended period of time in which there was demonstration by President Milosevic and the Serbian leadership that they do intend to stop the support that they have given to the Bosnian Serbs, and that they did things on the ground consistent with that posture.
It will be some time, I think, before we see whether or not that is a promise that we can consider has been made good upon.
Q Does the United States, as a result of work with the Contact Group, have assurances from Moscow, as a member of that group, that it would support, if need be, a multilateral lifting of the arms embargo on the Bosnian Muslims?
MR. McCURRY: The Russian Federation through Minister Kozyrev has subscribed to the joint communiques that have been issued by the Contact Group which do refer to a lifting of the arms embargo as being an unavoidable step as a last resort, should there not be compliance with the Contact Group proposal by the Bosnian Serbs.
We know of no reason to doubt the word of the Russian Federation as reflected in those communiques.
Q Is there some sort of time limit on this? Is there some sort of time limit on the Serb side? I believe we gave -- the Contact Group gave --
MR. McCURRY: Within the discussions of the Contact Group, there have not been specific understandings reached as to timing. There is within this provision we were discussing just a short while ago that's now on the Hill, a sense of timing that kind of runs through the fall with some checkpoints along the way -- points at which we would hope to see a compliance by the Bosnian Serbs, or else other steps would then be initiated.
Q Having given ten days to the Muslims, why so much time to the Serbs?
MR. McCURRY: The Bosnian Serbs and the Bosnian Government were given the same ten days. The Bosnian Government complied. The Bosnian Serbs didn't. The Bosnian Serbs now face the consequences for not having a reply.
Q But in not facing the consequences until October or November 15th, in effect, gives them much more time.
MR. McCURRY: Saul, the consequences are now being pursued as the Contact Group indicated they would be. By no means are those easy steps for members of the Contact Group to take, but we are pursuing them and leading the Contact Group as we do pursue them and doing it diligently and consistent with our understanding of the positions of those other governments.
Q I'm always looking for a trap from Belgrade, as I'm sure you folks do too. The only thing you were moving on was the possibility of broadening the sanctions. Now we're talking about maybe easing the sanctions.
MR. McCURRY: No. We are --
Q I know, long range.
MR. McCURRY: I make it clear we are simultaneously talking about tightening those sanctions. There is a sanctions discussion underway at the U.N. that puts these two propositions together: tighter sanctions if there is no compliance with the Contact Group proposal; easing of the sanctions if, and only if, there is a pattern of compliance that is judged to be effective and demonstrated over time.
Q Let me just -- there's talk at the U.N. now, the U.S. is engaged currently in moves to tighten the sanctions, you're saying?
MR. McCURRY: They are continuing to work a draft resolution in New York, yes.
Q Do you know when it might come up, might be ready?
MR. McCURRY: I was talking to one of Madeleine Albright's people and they -- it just says they're continuing work on the draft resolution. I don't have a sense of timing.
One thing I will say is that the timing -- we have been moving this forward, but there has been something that we have to weigh in the balance now, which is a new posture on the part of the Government of Serbia. In fact, they do appear to be doing something to tighten enforcement of those restrictions on shipments to the Bosnian Serbs, and that becomes a factor as we work through the text of the resolution in New York. That's one reason why I can't be more specific, I think, because we are taking that into account.
I'm sorry, I've been holding you --
Q I have two questions for you on Taiwan, if I may.
MR. McCURRY: Okay, let's make sure before we switch. Are we ready?
Q Yes. Just when the Foreign Ministers were last in Geneva, the Secretary himself said that he expected that this tighter sanctions resolution would be moved within a week. It's now a couple of weeks, and I - -
MR. McCURRY: It moved within a week, but it didn't go to a final stage, in part because there have been some changes on the ground there. You've got to recognize that we do want to take into account things that do change, and among them are a new posture that the Government of Serbia is in; and they are very materially affected by a sanctions regime involving the former Yugoslavia. That's why that is one of the items under discussion even today, I believe, in New York.
I'm sorry, go ahead. Taiwan. Are we ready to go to Taiwan? Yes.
Q Can you confirm that the U.S. is planning to upgrade the level of its contacts with Taiwan, first of all?
MR. McCURRY: No, I can't. I've got a bunch of mish-mash here that says, blah, blah, blah, blah. (Laughter) Even though there are others who have suggested that now ON BACKGROUND, I am told authoritatively that our review of Taiwan policy is underway, and we expect it to conclude shortly; that as the review is not complete, we cannot prejudge the final decisions.
Q How is this a new review?
MR. McCURRY: No, this is the review that's been underway for some time. In fact, quite some time, I do believe.
Q No, what I mean is was -- if the relationship isn't regularly reviewed and now there is a review, that at least suggests there's some contemplation of change.
MR. McCURRY: That's correct. There has been a Taiwan policy review, as we have been calling it, underway, I think, for, who knows, a year? Does that sound about right? I think for about a year.
Now let me back up. That was the disingenuous answer I got on paper here. I think a better answer was given -- (laughter) --
Q Use the answer on sanctions.
MR. McCURRY: I think a better answer was given by Assistant Secretary Lord in Hong Kong yesterday. Assistant Secretary Lord has been out in the region -- I think has had some meetings out there -- but he gave a press conference in Hong Kong yesterday, and he said a couple of things that I think are useful, and we've got a transcript you may want. He said it better than I will say it now.
But he said as to the general framework of our policy, it will remain the policy that is reflected in the three communiques in the Taiwan Relations Act, that has been a longstanding fundamental premise of our approach.'
He said that the Taiwan policy review is underway. We expect that it will conclude shortly, but it will be consistent with the basic tenets of our policy, even if there are some modest adjustments in our overall approach, consistent with the unofficial relationship we have with Taiwan.
So he suggested that there might be some modest adjustments in our approach, but it would be consistent with the general framework of our policy on China and also that it would reflect the very strong relationship we do now have informally and unofficially with Taiwan.
Q Does that mean there won't be an exchange of diplomats?
MR. McCURRY: I can't rule that out or rule that in, based on the review that's underway. That would be prejudging prematurely the conclusions of this review.
Q Well, I don't want you to prejudge the conclusions, because I know you're not going to do it, but is it under consideration?
MR. McCURRY: How they pursue diplomatic contact, you know, we currently have got -- Taiwan has a Coordination Council office here. We have an American Interests Section in Taipei, and those in both cases involve diplomats. The level at which those diplomats have exchanges is something that is part of this review.
But I have not heard anyone suggest anything that would be inconsistent with the three communiques in the Taiwan Relations Act. Let's put it that way.
Q Has the State Department, in fact, approved the sale of Stingers to Taiwan and possibly other Southeast Asian countries at this point?
MR. McCURRY: I have nothing on that. I'm not aware of that. Is someone telling you that we have?
Q Defense News is saying that you have.
MR. McCURRY: Defense News?
MR. McCURRY: Well, a reputable and authoritative document it is, so we'll check further on that.
MR. McCURRY: North Korea. Gallucci and his update. They had a long, long working lunch that concluded a short while ago. The talks described --
Q That was a seven o'clock dinner, about seven o'clock at night.
MR. McCURRY: It was a long lunch. (Laughter)
Q Did Gallucci have seconds?
MR. McCURRY: A long lunch. It went into --
Q (Multiple comments and laughter)
MR. McCURRY: A long lunch that ran right up to the cocktail hour, I guess. They met in the morning. They met around 11 their time in the morning. They had a long lunch. The upshot of the long lunch, however long it was, is that they are going to meet again on Friday.
So how are the talks? I said, well, how can you usefully characterize the talks. The answer comes back from Geneva, winging its way electronically through the sky, "Useful and intense." (Laughter)
Q Not constructive?
MR. McCURRY: Not positive, not constructive. "Useful and intense."
Q Is he saying that Friday will be the last day in this round?
MR. McCURRY: No, they did not. They said they would meet again on Friday. They didn't provide information on further discussions beyond that. They are into some meaty substance, I guess you could safely say. That means that they are getting at a lot of the very intricate issues that involve the five megawatt reactor, the North Korea program, and the provisional light-water reactors by -- somehow or other by suppliers in the world.
So the nature and technical nature of those discussions mean that they do continue to be at least intense and probably useful and certainly as substantive as you could imagine.
Q Are they still solely talking about nuclear issues, or have they broadened out to the other issues?
MR. McCURRY: It was our intent to seek a broad and thorough approach in this dialogue, so they have indeed gotten to issues beyond those that just involve the nuclear program. But I can't characterize it beyond that, other than to say that it was consistent with our desire to have a broad and thorough dialogue.
Q But there was progress?
MR. McCURRY: I have not heard the word "progress." No.
Q Is there any time limit on figuring out what to do with the spent fuel rods from the small reactor before they corrode dangerously?
MR. McCURRY: That has been a concern of ours, as we have suggested in the past, and that is an issue that they are addressing -- extending the life, somehow or other, of the rods.
Q Have you the impression -- have you talked to Bob Gallucci yourself, first? And, secondly, have you the impression that the North Koreans' intent is to seek settlement -- a serious intent to seek settlement?
MR. McCURRY: I don't want to describe the posture of the DPRK in the discussion underway. It's really more useful that they do that. I have not had a chance to talk to Ambassador Gallucci directly. I've talked to others here in the Department who have talked to him. He talked to the Secretary aboard the Secretary's aircraft yesterday, and the Secretary had a chance to brief some people afterwards on that. So he's been in very close contact with officials here in the Department, and I've been getting a lot of good information relayed through the people working with him here.
Q Thank you.
MR. McCURRY: Thank you.
MR. McCURRY: We have to do one last burning question on Cuba. I'll take it. What is it?
Q Do you have anything on the plane that landed this morning in Florida?
MR. McCURRY: No. We have seen press accounts that a Cuban crop duster apparently landed in the Keys somewhere with a dozen or 14 or so Cubans on board. We don't have any independent confirmation of that from U.S. authorities, although it's all over the wires at this point.
Thank you, good-bye.
(The briefing concluded at 1:57 p.m.)
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