U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE OFFICE OF THE SPOKESMAN DAILY PRESS BRIEFING SEPTEMBER 16, 1994 U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE DAILY PRESS BRIEFING I N D E X Friday, September, 16 1994 Briefer: Michael McCurry POW/MIAs Observance of National POW/MIA Recognition Day ..1 HAITI US Travel Advisory ..............................1 Americans in Country/Protective Measures ........1-2,8-12 Department Establishes Task Force ...............2 Departure of Military Leaders/US Channels of Communications ................................2-8 Human Rights Violations .........................6 Multinational Force/Countries Participating .....7-8,16-18 Departure of US-Approved Refugees ...............9-10 Deployment of Multinational Force/US View .......10 -- Statements by Former Administration Officials .....................................10,12 Effectiveness of Sanctions ......................11 Restoration of Democracy/Aristide's Government ..12-15 SOMALIA UN Request for Aid in Troop Departure ...........18
DEPARTMENT OF STATE DAILY PRESS BRIEFING
FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 16, 1994, l:57 P.M. (ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED)
MR. McCURRY: This is the Daily Briefing of the United States Department, and I have a couple of things that I'd like to begin with today.
Some of you may have noticed that there is a black and white flag that is flying out in front of the State Department -- that is the flag of the National League of POW/MIA families -- in recognition of the fact that today is National POW/MIA Recognition Day.
The President directed that the banner be flown today over the White House, the Capitol, the Departments of State, Defense, Veterans Affairs, the Selective Service System Headquarters, the Vietnam Memorial, and in national cemeteries across the country; and it's obviously a very powerful reminder to everyone, everywhere of this nation's very firm commitment to resolve and achieve the fullest possible accounting of every member of the United States Armed Forces.
Two items on Haiti.
Late yesterday, we updated our existing travel warning on Haiti. Back on August 3, we had advised Americans against all travel to Haiti. We updated that information yesterday to take note of the fact that a multinational force has been created to use all necessary means, including armed intervention, to restore the legitimate Government of Haiti.
Departure from Haiti, via the land border with the Dominican Republic, is now discouraged because the border is, for all practical purposes, closed. Any U.S. citizens remaining in Haiti are urged to seek instruction from the U.S. Embassy, to maintain contact with their U.S. citizen wardens, and to maintain a low profile. If an armed intervention occurs, U.S. citizens should remain in their homes until otherwise instructed by the United States Embassy or by appropriate authorities of the multinational forces. The Voice of America will be broadcasting in both English and Creole and should be relied upon if other methods of communication fail.
The second item: At noon today, the Secretary of State directed that a Task Force on the situation of Haiti be established. That is now up and running and is under the direction of Phil McLean of the ARA Bureau, who has been most recently serving with the Haiti Working Group. I urge all members of the press to continue referring their press inquiries to those of us in the Press Office who respond and afterwards to our Press Duty Officers.
Q There will be a press person up in Task Force?
MR. McCURRY: We'll have contact up there, but we'd prefer to hand the volume of the requests in the Press Office as we have in the past; but we'll have direct liaison with the Task Force so that we can try to get the answers quickly.
Q What are they doing now?
MR. McCURRY: They're getting up and running and setting out some initial advisories on telephone numbers and things like this so everyone can remain in very close contact. They're also letting the rest of U.S. Department personnel around the world know of their existence so that they can provide constant updates to our Embassies abroad so that they can keep in contact with their host governments.
Q Mike, is it an established fact that Ambassador Swing has delivered a final warning, or the Charge? Is there such a step? Has it been confirmed?
MR. McCURRY: It's not an established fact that they have as an established fact that the President of the United States did so last night on television, and we have done so repeatedly in recent days.
Q Would you say that takes care of that and that's the end of things. I just remember there were options and there was the possibility of emissaries -- from Duvalier to Rudolf Hess; I don't know. (Laughter)
MR. McCURRY: The Secretary of State has made clear, and the President has made clear too, that we will leave no stone unturned in keeping open avenues and channels for communication, if the de facto leaders wish to come to us and indicate that they are prepared to leave.
Q If they come to you.
MR. McCURRY: We have ways of communicating with them. There are channels of communication that are open, and suffice it to say that they will not fail to leave because there has been a failure to communicate.
Q The former Jamaican Prime Minister, Edward Seaga says that he was contacted by the Administration about this -- what you call about contacting the de facto leaders, and said he was told by the Administration, "It's an appropriate step at this time" -- quote, unquote. Can you describe what his role is vis-a-vis us, and is he an emissary? Have we contacted one? Is he one of these channels?
MR. McCURRY: I've seen him, I think just recently, on CNN; and I've seen him say some things on the wires. I don't think you characterized what he said correctly. Maybe I am wrong, but I believe he said that he had been contacted by an intermediary who had been in contact with General Cedras and that they were interested in having a discussion.
We were aware of those things that he has now made public. He did pass them on through our Embassy in Kingston, and that may or may not be a channel that proves productive.
What I would like to caution you about and suggest to you now is that in the course of the coming days there will be flurry of reports and any number of people who suggest that they have got entree to the General or to the Chief of Police or to the Army Chief of Staff and who suggest that they are in a position to provide a deal.
We have our ears open to each and every one of those contacts; but again I would say, as the Secretary said today, that we have a very experienced, capable Ambassador -- Bill Swing -- in Port-au-Prince. He's there; he's available. They can pick up the phone and call, and arrangements can be made.
Q Mike, have any of those channels that you talked about earlier been used -- the channels of communication that are open?
MR. McCURRY: There have been over time channels of communication open that have been used, yes.
Q Have any of them been used since the President's speech?
MR. McCURRY: I'm not in a position to say.
Q Are you saying that you will only consider a contact between one of the three leaders themselves and Swing as the authoritative channel?
MR. McCURRY: No, I'm not describing what is an authoritative channel or non-authoritative channel. I'm saying that there are likely to be many. Some of them are going to be fictional, and some of them might be real, but it will be impossible for us to provide any detail to you because any of them that prove to be worthy, we will most likely not be discussing publicly.
Q Mike, are you saying that the Administration has decided that there is no need for Ambassador Swing or any other representative to at this point seek out the de facto leaders and deliver the same message that's been made publicly and in private terms but, rather, that Ambassador Swing should in effect stay in his office and wait by the phone?
MR. McCURRY: We are confident that they've gotten the message.
Q It was brought out earlier today that Duvalier was not being used as part of that network of communications. Can you confirm that?
MR. McCURRY: I can't confirm or deny anybody who's being used -- not so far as I am aware. But, as I say, there are likely to be many, many rumors swirling and some of them might amount to something and others might not.
I would just stress again what the Secretary has said and that there are ways to make arrangements. We've got an Ambassador who's available and if there's a desire to have those discussions, they can proceed.
I would also reiterate what the Secretary has said earlier today. We have absolutely no reliable indication that there's a desire on the part of the leaders to depart.
Q Can you talk about inducements for Cedras and his friends to leave?
MR. McCURRY: No. The inducement is that they can leave and get out of the way so that democracy can be restored, or they might face the types of consequences that others have described often in the last several days.
Q Does the United States want the de facto leaders to leave Haiti? Is that the only way to prevent Phase I? Or if they step down, just merely step down, will that prevent the muscular --
MR. McCURRY: The Secretary has made clear, they could conceivably step down and remain in Haiti, but they would likely then be apprehended and delivered over to the duly elected government for whatever law enforcement purposes --
Q Just stepping down will not satisfy the ultimatum?
MR. McCURRY: They need to depart so that democracy can be restored. Departure most likely means departing Haiti altogether.
Q You say "most likely," but in other words --
MR. McCURRY: They could stay but they then would be subject to apprehension if we find them.
Q But stepping down could potentially thwart the invasion?
MR. McCURRY: No. I didn't say that. As you've heard the Secretary of State of others indicate, the multinational force will be going to Haiti one way or another. The issue is whether they will go into a permissive environment or what is likely to be a more hostile environment, or perhaps something in between.
Q The composition and the mission of the force will be different if they're not there?
MR. McCURRY: The composition and mission of the force will depend on what the commanders assess the situation on the ground to be. It would likely be very different if they go into a situation in which the leadership of the military and the police is absent. That, in effect, would have been the removal of whatever form of authority that currently exists in Haiti. It could likely be a very dangerous situation, so it doesn't resolve the problem.
There is still a need then for the multinational force to go in and to create the conditions in which President Aristide and democracy can then return.
Q But if they leave, they're still going to be thousands of Haitians on the ground who are still willing to fight?
MR. McCURRY: That could very likely be true. That is correct.
Q To follow that, last night Mr. Cedras made it very clear that he would die to oppose an American invasion. He did challenge the validity of human rights abuse charges and some of the other things that Mr. Clinton had to say. How does the Administration respond to him?
MR. McCURRY: We obviously are aware of what he said last night in an interview with Dan Rather on CBS. We are also, as you've seen and, as you know, the President has shared with certain news organizations photographic proof of the type of human rights abuses that the de facto regime is guilty of. There's absolutely no question about their record.
This is exactly the reason why this regime expelled international human rights observers, so that they would not be there to document the types of abuses that they are clearly committing and acquiescing in.
Q Mike, can I come back for a minute again, maybe just trying to draw too fine a distinction of things you're saying. But you talked about, "They need to depart to allow democracy to take hold." But then you said, "If they choose to stay, if the United States finds them, they would be subject to prosecution."
Is that a carefully constructed scenario under which -- we heard the Secretary say we're not involved in a manhunt.
MR. McCURRY: That's correct.
Q Is this the scenario in which you're telling the leaders, "Look, if you guys want to stay, you take the risk of being prosecuted but the United States isn't going to come looking for you?"
MR. McCURRY: I'm not aware there's been that type of exchange with them. I think they know what the consequences of staying would be. They know what the consequences of continuing to try to hold power would be, and they know what the availability of other arrangements would be if they chose to depart.
I don't think there's any doubt in -- there could not be any doubt -- in the minds of the de facto leaders what the options are and what awaits them if they remain in power or remain in Haiti.
Q Has there been any change in the last day or so in the arrangements that have been offered, if you will, or made known to them?
MR. McCURRY: Arrangements can be made, and I'm not going to discuss any specifics about the arrangements.
Q I wasn't asking about specifics. I was asking whether they've changed at all? In other words, has the U.S. sweeten the pot?
MR. McCURRY: You can't describe how they have changed if you're not describing specifics.
Q But you can say whether they have or not?
MR. McCURRY: I can say arrangements can be made. To my knowledge, there hasn't been any discussion of arrangements that would lead to the prompt departure of the de facto regime. As the Secretary indicated, there's been nothing reliable to indicate that they have any interest in leaving.
Q Why are you and others going, as Ralph alluded to, to great lengths to say flatly we're not going looking for them; that's not part of the mission?
MR. McCURRY: Because it's not part of the mission. It's very important to us and very important to the President, and we make very clear, the limited, precise and specific goals for the military mission if and when an intervention force goes to Haiti. That is not among the mission priorities.
Q Could you tell us at what point in this whole scenario you would expect the Jordanians and the Israelis to actually bring manpower onto the island?
MR. McCURRY: I will leave that to later on today. There will be some participation by members of the multinational force in the event at the White House to begin shortly.
At whatever point other members of the multinational force participate will be consistent with what the mission plan is as developed by the military commanders. They will be participating in the initial phase of the operation but not necessarily in the first hours or minutes of the operation.
As we've said, it's clear -- especially in the very early phases of any projected action -- it will be dominated U.S. military personnel. At the appropriate point, those contributors in the multinational force will be offering their expertise, their personnel, and in some cases their troops; in other cases, their police experts, police trainers, in some cases police personnel.
It's an elaborate plan, and I think it will be appropriate at the point -- at which it makes a difference -- for those who are more familiar with the plan to brief you on it.
Q I think he's asking, how did you convince them to participate?
MR. McCURRY: How do we convince them? I think many nations came forward willingly at the call of the United Nations, consistent with U.N. Security Council Resolution 940. We had important bilateral conversations with many nations that did wish to participate, to help build this multinational force because the United States is leading this force. Many countries did come forward and volunteer their expertise because of the importance of restoring democracy in Haiti.
Q (Inaudible) Jordan to volunteer?
MR. McCURRY: I'd leave it up to those governments to indicate how and why they chose to participate.
Q Has an effort been made to find a country for Cedras and his friends from which they need not fear extradition?
MR. McCURRY: Again, George, as much as I can say is that arrangements can be made, and that would be central to the arrangements. So you can surmise that the answer is yes. But I'm not, for obvious reasons, going to get into any of the details of that.
Q An updating on the American total in Haiti? Is it still 3,000 or 3,500, or are people beginning to leave? How did they get out?
MR. McCURRY: As I just indicated, at this point it would be very hard to get out. There's no commercial air traffic, there's no charter air traffic. The border is going to be very difficult to transgress. That's why, as we just indicated in the travel warning, we're encouraging people to stay put.
I saw Stan Schrager earlier today, and I'll have to check with him later. He indicated that there were some 3,700 American citizens registered with the U.S. Embassy. I believe there's an additional number outside of Port-au-Prince who are registered with our Embassy. These are people who are -- a lot of them are NGOs. Some of them are, in fact, long-time citizens of Haiti who, in some cases, have Haitian spouses or Haitian relatives.
But, in any event, the number, I think, is somewhere between 3,500 and 5,000, but we'll specify that with greater detail as we can do so.
Q I don't know if you answered this yesterday, but isn't it about time for the weekly departure of the transit- ready Haitians?
MR. McCURRY: We did. I think 96 departed through the Dominican Republic yesterday. Let me double-check the number. I'm sorry, 95 -- 95 approved refugees crossed the border into the Dominican Republic and have now been flown to the United States.
The total of the approved refugees who have left since August 31 is now 398.
Q Is Ambassador Swing still planning to conduct what you earlier this week described as a "Town Meeting" with the Americans who are still in Port-au-Prince?
MR. McCURRY: Stan Schrager briefed some of your colleagues down in Port-au-Prince earlier today on that. I think he's meeting with the wardens later today. Those are the people who one of your reports refer to it as "warren." It's "warden" -- W-A-R-D-E-N. They are the ones who are activated, or more or less a telephone tree.
What we do is to try to keep people in contact with each other by having one person call two, have those two call two more, so that it very quickly spreads the word about conditions that exist through out Haiti. I believe the Ambassador plans to meet with those who are sort of the warden captains later on today to brief them on what arrangements will be made if there is a need to activate the warden system and to quickly transfer information to American citizens.
Q Excuse me. Is this in place of the Town Meeting that you had described?
MR. McCURRY: Did anyone here -- (TO STAFF) Julie, did you hear all of his briefing? I'll have to check and see. I think they were also planning a meeting with U.S. citizens in the sort of American community in Haiti just to give them an update, as we can, on we understand the situation to be.
Q Mike, on the refugees, for just a second. Will those departures continue kind of on a regular basis? However it's being done, will they continue through the duration of this period when you have just told American citizens not to make that crossing?
MR. McCURRY: It is my understanding, for very obvious reasons, we'll probably not try to effect that type of departure any time soon. But our hope is to very quickly return to the procedures by which we can help people exit, and it might be possible very soon to do that in a much simpler fashion.
Q A number of critical luminaries is growing -- Mr. Baker, Mr. Bush, even General Schwartzkof. Did the Administration make an effort, or the Secretary, to try to talk to people like that before this got to this point? Is there a disappointment here?
I forget who -- maybe the President. Mr. Bush said something like, of course, if he takes that action, we'll support the President. You're getting that kind of -- it reflects a patriotism. But when Bush calls all this mind- boggling, I wonder if that stings a little bit?
MR. McCURRY: It does, in light of President Bush's statement -- from his own position in September 1992, that the coup poses an exceptional threat to the national security, foreign policy, and economy of the United States of America.
Former Secretary Baker, himself, said that "The coup cannot be allowed to succeed." President Clinton, consistent with the view of the immediate past American President agrees that we cannot allow the results of this coup to succeed; and we have patiently, beginning with President Bush -- continuing with President Clinton -- exhausted every means of diplomacy to do what President Bush indicated we would do.
President Bush indicated in 1992 that he hoped that this could be resolved without force, but he certainly suggested that force would be there as an option.
Q You know, Mr. Baker, in his criticism -- it seems to be a practical argument that he's making. He says that the sanctions have been tightened only recently and that there should be more time to use economic pressures.
I mention this because you say --
MR. McCURRY: "Sanctions," I think as President Bush knows --
Q Baker, I'm talking about. I'm sorry.
MR. McCURRY: As former Secretary Baker knows, President Bush is the one who put in place the first economic sanctions. So suffice to say, they've had quite some time to work. They've been tightened. We've even tried to take steps to enhance the enforcement of the sanctions that do exist.
U.S. military personnel have done a very good job with the naval maritime aspects of sanctions enforcement, but there have been ways that it has leaked. It has an effect. It is clearly -- the pressure that we hoped would build on the Haitian military authorities as a result of the sanctions has existed.
We know that there has been pressure on them, but it clearly has not been sufficient to effect their removal. That's the position that we're now in.
I think people need to understand, as the President explained very clearly last night, that there has been a long and very patient period of diplomacy prior to reaching the point in which the Commander-in-Chief judges that the use of force is now necessary.
Q Mike, just for the record, what is the rationale for being secretive about the arrangements that would be made? What's the rationale for not spelling them out to the American people?
MR. McCURRY: Because we would like them to work; that's why. And talking about them might inhibit the ability of these arrangements to facilitate the removal of these leaders.
We would clearly prefer to have them voluntarily depart Haiti, because that is infinitely preferable to the use of force and putting young American lives in harms way. But we have had no reliable indication from the Haitian military leaders that they desire to have a serious conversation along those lines.
If they want to have a serious conversation, there are channels of communication available. We have an Ambassador there who is more than willing to talk. And, as I say again, arrangements can be made.
Q Why wouldn't they work if they were made public?
MR. McCURRY: Because, Ralph -- and you know this well enough to not even ask the question -- there are sensitive aspects of making those types of arrangements that would require very careful and delicate diplomacy.
Q Would another country perhaps be embarrassed if they were made public if they were going to take them?
MR. McCURRY: You know the answer to that. Bill.
Q Thank you, Mike. To follow Barry's question on the political fall-out here, Mr. Quayle, I believe yesterday, speaking in Chicago, said that Mr. Clinton is responding to a very narrow interest group within the Congress -- primarily the Congressional Black Caucus. It appears that would only be -- the Caucus, that is, to the left politically that is pushing for this invasion. Mr. Dellums and Mr. Mfume, I believe, both have said that they oppose military action. I may be incorrect about this.
MR. McCURRY: It's maybe a reflection of his commanding understanding of U.S. politics that he would portray the Congressional Black Caucus in that fashion. I think if you'll check with him, you'll find out there's considerable division of opinion within the Congressional Black Caucus.
Q That's what I was alluding to. The black caucus itself is divided with two of its leaders opposed.
The question I have -- this is --
MR. McCURRY: It's an important question. At the moment this government, following the work of the previous Administration -- President Bush, Secretary Baker, and others - - is trying to send a very clear and unmistakable signal to General Cedras and others that it is time for them depart.
Clearly, the support that we get in helping to underscore that message is very much appreciated. You can assume that the reverse of that is also true.
Q How do you respond to the right-wing allegation -- this was what I was coming to, if I could -- that -- if I might, please, Mike -- that Mr. Aristide was being supported primarily by the political left? That was the push here -- was from the left -- and the political right calls him a Marxist?
MR. McCURRY: I'm not into politics. I don't even think the conservative hardline right-wing is that nonsensical. They know that (Laughter).
There is a correspondent in the room who disputes that apparently. They know, and they know the history here. They had a free and open election in Haiti in 1990. An astounding number -- I think the turnout -- Mr. Gedda, correct me if I'm wrong -- was 95 percent, maybe, of the duly registered voters in Haiti turned out to vote and nearly 70 percent of them voted for President Aristide. That is called an "election." It was called a "democratic election" and declared a democratic election. The results of that election and the democracy and freedom that the people of Haiti enjoyed was stolen by the de facto regime.
That doesn't have anything to do with right, left, center, rainbow, or anything else. It has to do with our interests in the advancement and promotion of democracy in a hemisphere in which democracy is often fragile and in which we have to make it clear that we will support, nurture, and help democracies and mean it when we say that we will stand for democracy both in the hemisphere and elsewhere in the world.
Q Just looking ahead a little bit -- maybe a very little bit -- after these leaders are gone and Aristide is back in, what plans do we have to sort of pump him up and support and nurture democracy? Do you see the people happy?
MR. McCURRY: I'll take a second to run through that. There is a lot of focus, and there will be probably non-stop focus in coming days on the military plans that have been made very, very effectively by the Pentagon, by the military planners, led by General Shalikashvili and shared with the Commander-in-Chief.
I'd note parenthetically on that, that the State Department has had senior people from the Secretary, the Deputy Secretary, and others participating in those sessions. They are all, to a person coming back from those type of sessions, saying how well done the planning has been by the senior military commanders of our government and how impressed they are with the work that has -- and the thinking -- gone into some of this work. It is really a remarkable testimony to the ability of the Pentagon to address these types of questions.
Given that you all write so many stories about interagency friction between the State Department and the Pentagon, I think it's worth noting it.
I went parethentically there and lost my train of thought. (Laughter) What were we talking about? Where were you in the world?
Q We've been (inaudible) Haiti to get --
MR. McCURRY: Back on track. In addition to these military plans, impressive as they are, there's also, coordinated with those military plans, a political plan that involves the work that our Ambassador is going to do to consult with President Aristide upon his return to measure the progress being made in reconstituting those existing democratic institutions in Haiti.
Remember that Haiti had a democracy. They not only had an election, they also had a constitution, a parliament. They had institutions of government that can be reactivated. They will work at that political level to see what kind of support can be held. There will be elections that will occur, as President Aristide has indicated, at the end of 1995. There will likely be parliamentary elections before then.
The United States, as it does through some of our non- governmental organizations, can help nurture, protect, and advance those political parties contesting for political power in Haiti. I expect they'll be that type of activity.
I think coordinated with the sort of political element of this effort will be an economic effort which I think some of you had the opportunity to hear a briefing about from the Agency for International Development. Working with other nations in the world community through the World Bank, through international lending institutions, there will be an effort to help the economic institutions of Haiti rebuild themselves so that Haitians can begin earning a living, supporting themselves, and getting on with reconstituting their own lives.
That's all work that the United States of America does very often in other places of the world. It's not central to the military mission, but it is important for Americans to know that one way in which the military mission can come to a quick end is because all these other efforts will be made to get the political and economic institutions of Haiti going again.
Will it be successful? Will it work? That's really up to the people of Haiti and their elected leaders. We can't do for them what they must do for themselves, but at least we can create for them the conditions in which that type of work can be possible.
Q If I can just go back briefly to facilitating the departure of the de facto leaders. Does that also include their families?
MR. McCURRY: Their families? Would they depart? It would depend on what type of arrangements were made.
Q I want to say, like the kids with (inaudible). Is that something that we would also facilitate?
MR. McCURRY: Again, I'm not going to get into the specifics of those types of arrangements. It might very well be that any one of the three might have interest in getting their children out. I'm just am not in a position to provide any details on that.
Q Mike, on the political plan you just ran through, one of the first things Aristide has to do is appoint a Prime Minister and get a Cabinet in place. Has the Administration advised him on that?
In the past, the Administration had urged him to broaden his base and reach out toward what we could loosely call the political center in Haiti. Is that still a piece of good advice today?
MR. McCURRY: Let me be somewhat elliptical about it. It's up to, obviously, first of all, to President Aristide to make his own decisions about how he constitutes his government and choice of Prime Minister. It will be a very key and central decision that he would make.
Do we encourage him to broaden his coalition? Do we encourage him to be inclusive? Do we encourage him to return to Haiti in the spirit of national reconciliation? Of course, we do. But I think President Aristide has already indicated himself that that's exactly his intent. I believe you'll most likely hear from him later today, that his intent is one of reconciliation, of rebuilding democracy.
As he has told Special Advisor Gray and as he has told others, his measure of the success of democracy's return to Haiti will be his own departure from office when the first election is followed by the second free election for President in Haiti's history, electing his successor.
That's a very powerful testament to what we would hope to see as democracy is returned to Haiti.
Q Has Secretary Christopher met with Aristide at all, or recently?
MR. McCURRY: I don't know the answer to that. I'll check and see. I think most of the contacts that we've had with President Aristide have been principally through Special Advisor Gray and some of the people working with him. I think there have been others who have met with him from time to time. Deputy Secretary Talbott and National Security Advisor Tony Lake met with him some while ago, and I believe others from the U.S. Government have met with him to discuss certain subjects; but I'm not sure if the Secretary has seen him recently. I can check on that.
Q I'd like to go back to the question I really did ask the other day concerning again Jordan and Israel and how they got involved in this. I'd like to quote two people.
The Israeli Foreign Minister, Shimon Peres, said the other day: "Seeing as the U.S. has acceded to so many of our requests, we are obliged to agree when Washington is on the asking side for a change."
And then also the Israeli Justice Minister said, "If the U.S. asks an ally like Israel to help it restore democracy to a nearby country, we should adopt a positive attitude in principle on condition" -- so forth and so on.
If they're saying it, why are you so reluctant to tell us how Israel and Jordan got involved in this?
MR. McCURRY: Well, because those two statements you just read are so powerful they speak for themselves. I don't need to add anything to them.
Q Yes, but don't they kind of contradict perhaps what you'd been suggesting here and implying that they did it on their own? Why --
MR. McCURRY: Well, they clearly indicated in those two statements you just read that they had good reasons for making any voluntary choice to participate.
Q Then who asked? Did the State Department ask; did Dennis Ross ask; did somebody from the NSC ask?
MR. McCURRY: I have no idea, and I'm not going to bother to try to find out.
Q Why not?
MR. McCURRY: Because I think each of these countries -- if you want to ask the Government of Israel what was influential in making a decision to participate and support a U.N. Security Council resolution, you can direct that question to the Government of Israel. They'd be happy to deal with it, I think. I think they would indicate to you, as those two statements indicate very clearly in plain English, that they had good reasons to participate -- that they knew that this was important to the United States of America, and they've heard the President of the United States say so, and they responded accordingly. It makes a lot of sense.
Q Did it imply, in fact, that they had good reasons?
MR. McCURRY: Yes.
Q Does this imply, in fact, that they had good reasons? Does it imply that the United States has suggested it might do or not do certain things in the peace process in the Middle East?
MR. McCURRY: No. You're stretching so hard to find any type of angle that we should probably move on.
Q No. It's just basically that my readership would be interested that if an Israeli civilian or military personnel dies in Haiti, it should be carrying no more and no less weight than if an American citizen dies.
MR. McCURRY: That's exactly correct. That is the way the United Nations approves multinational force functions. It's one of the reasons why the President of the United States right now, in meeting with representatives of the 2l nations -- and probably more who will participate in this multinational force -- to express gratitude of the United States to each and every one of those nations who are willing to participate in what is fundamentally a very important effort by the world community to stand for democracy in Haiti.
Q Shouldn't it have been Boutros Boutros-Ghali who should have asked them rather than somebody in the United States Government?
MR. McCURRY: The United States is leading the multinational force constituted, consistent with U.N. Security Council Resolution 940 - Phase I.
Q What is your latest count on the number of countries contributing?
MR. McCURRY: Twenty-one. The two new that we have publicly are Poland, which the President mentioned last night, and Jordan -- which was previously known.
There are others. The count that I believe that we feel comfortable with right now is 24, although we can publicly identify 2l because that's where their own countries are in the discussion with their own citizens about their participation.
Again, the total size of those contributions from other forces is in the neighborhood of 2,000 -- probably exceeding 2,000 now -- but in many cases we have commitments that vary from country to country. They depend on what type of operating units you need. We've got between 700 and ll00 people who are available, depending on the needs and how it fits and integrates with other elements of the force, so those numbers fluctuate a little bit. It depends on what type of judgments are made by the military planners who are looking at constituting the force.
Q Mike, I don't have my list with me, but are the Saudis and the Kuwaitis on the publicly announced list yet?
Q No. (Laughter)
Q I just remember how strongly --
MR. McCURRY: I don't see them here.
Q I just remember how strongly the United States was involved in restoring democracy to Kuwait, but they're not on the list. O.K., sorry.
Q Have you asked those two countries?
MR. McCURRY: We've broadly encouraged countries who could help participate to participate, but I'm not going to get into specific conversations that we've had.
Q Are you disappointed that they haven't come forward?
MR. McCURRY: I'm not going to get into specific contributions. We're grateful for those who are contributing.
Q Can I mention another multinational effort: Somalia? The question of U.S. troops being asked to go back there to rescue.
MR. McCURRY: Yes. The United Nations has requested withdrawal assistance at this point from several countries. They've made specific requests to France, Britain, India, Pakistan, and the United States; and at this time we've not reached a decision. We're reviewing the matter within our own Government, and we expect a decision soon. When I've got one I can share I will share it.
Q To Cuba, briefly?
MR. McCURRY: Yes.
Q George McGovern is back with some interesting news. Has he been here? Will he be coming here to meet the Secretary?
MR. McCURRY: What did he --
Q He came back from Cuba, after talking to Castro -- George McGovern.
MR. McCURRY: Former Senator George McGovern?
Q Yes. He had apparently quite a talk with Mr. Castro and brought back his Jimmy Carter report.
MR. McCURRY: I'll have to check and see if he shared the results of his trip with anyone here. Not that I'm aware of, but I'll see if I can find out.
Q Thank you.
MR. McCURRY: You're welcome.
(The briefing concluded at l:36 p.m.)
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