U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE DAILY PRESS BRIEFING SEPTEMBER 30, 1994 U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE DAILY PRESS BRIEFING I N D E X Friday, September 30, 1994 Briefer: Christine Shelly HAITI Deployment of International Police Monitors ..... 1-2 BOSNIA Reports of Leakage in Embargo/Observers ......... 2-3 Exclusions Zones/Enforcement .................... 9-11 COLOMBIA Unauthorized Interview by DEA Country Attache ... 3-6 CUBA US Processing of Migrants/Refugees .............. 7-9 US Policy ....................................... 17 MIDDLE EAST PEACE PROCESS Prospects for US Troops on Golan Heights ........ 12-13 Secretary to Visit Region ....................... 12 IRELAND Gerry Adams' Visit to US/Official Meetings ..... 13 CHINA Officials' Visit to US Next Week ................ 14 NORTH KOREA Talks with US in Geneva Resume on Wednesday ..... 14-17
DEPARTMENT OF STATE DAILY PRESS BRIEFING
FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 30, 1994, 12:45 P.M. (ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED)
MS. SHELLY: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. I have no announcements, so I'll be happy to go directly to your questions.
Q Anything about arriving multinationals in Haiti?
MS. SHELLY: Well, not much beyond what we had to say on this yesterday. I think Bob Gelbard, when he was giving his briefing, indicated that there would be deployments -- certainly, some advance parties -- and then further deployments coming in the next few days. I don't have numbers and nationalities on that. I think that's more on the operational side. But since the Pentagon's not briefing on camera today, I'll be happy to see if we can post something on this shortly after the briefing.
Q While we're on Haiti, there are reports abroad that Francois is getting ready to head to the Dominican Republic, that his children are already there. Have you heard this reports? Can you confirm them? Have you got any information on his whereabouts?
MS. SHELLY: Again, that's something that they've been tracking more down there. We have, certainly, also heard those reports. That general impression is consistent with our understanding. But as to his precise whereabouts and whether or not he's actually left, I don't have anything on that.
Q There's also been some reports that the United States is making plans to send many more troops than they represented they were going to send -- numbers in the range of 50,000. The situation is just not tenable the way it is. Can you comment on that?
MS. SHELLY: Sid, that's absolutely not the State Department's role in that. That's strictly operational stuff, and I'd have to refer you to the Pentagon for our troop numbers and what they feel their requirements are.
I know Dennis Boxx went into the numbers question and what the mission and requirements were yesterday at the Pentagon briefing, but I don't have anything to add. That's not really State Department jurisdiction.
Q Doesn't it branch into policy when it starts dealing with pledges the President has made to the American people?
MS. SHELLY: Well, the policy question certainly relates to -- the policy issues here are what, of course, the mission is and how that mission is affected, and, particularly, what the troop requirements are as determined by those commanders there on the ground. That crosses over into the operational domain which belongs to the Pentagon, as you know.
Q Another subject? Secretary Perry said in Madrid this morning that the Serbs are not living up to their promise to close the borders to supplies going to the Bosnian Serbs. Could you elaborate on that? Can you tell us what information the State Department has along those lines?
MS. SHELLY: I can't really elaborate on that. Secretary Perry is in Spain today. He has been today and yesterday for a NATO Defense Ministers Meeting. One of the key topics of discussion, as you're aware, has been Bosnia. But as to specifically what he said and the context in which he said it, I think I would have to refer you to the Pentagon on that.
We certainly are very concerned about some continued reports of leakage that we do get. But, again, we've been waiting for some reports from those who have been there in an observer capacity. I don't know if we've received those reports yet, and I don't know specifically on what information precisely Secretary Perry was making his remarks.
We certainly are aware of the remarks and of the general problem, but I can't be more specific than that.
Q Could you tell us what kind of observers? Are these United Nations observers, or does the United States have any observers up near the border?
MS. SHELLY: On the U.S. participation, I'll have to check. I think these were observers whose presence were worked out in the U.N. context, but I'll check on that. I don't have the information with me.
Q Does the Embassy in Croatia or in Sarajevo have any information about that?
MS. SHELLY: I'll have to check.
Q My name is Santa LaMaurice. I am the correspondent of CMI-TV from Colombia. My question is about Mr. Joe Toft, who until yesterday was the Director of the DEA Office in Colombia and who had an American passport -- Diplomatic Passport?
According to my information, before leaving Colombia, Mr. Toft told the press that Colombia is a narco-democracy and that the cartels supported some Samper's Presidential campaign. Is Mr. Joe Toft an American diplomat? What is your reaction about this statement?
MS. SHELLY: Well, as I think you're probably also aware, the U.S. Ambassador to Colombia, Miles Frechette, addressed this issue publicly in Colombia. I would have to refer you to his statement.
For those of you who may not have seen that, the incident in question is that the departing DEA Country Attache, who served in Bogota for the last six years, gave an interview which I believe appeared on Colombian television last night, which I would note was an unauthorized interview.
The Ambassador made a statement last evening, which I believe was also televised. He indicated that Mr. Joseph Toft had given an interview to QAP-TV. He stressed in the strongest terms that the views that he expressed did not in any way represent the views of the U.S. Government or of the Drug Enforcement Administration itself.
The Government of the United States has cooperated in the fight against narcotics with the Gaviria administration and is now working very closely with the administration of President Samper.
I would note that Mr. Toft no longer works for the U.S. Government and that he has returned to the United States.
Q Back on the same subject. Did you say this was a non-authorized interview?
MS. SHELLY: That's correct.
Q What's your view on the fact that he did grant that interview to the Colombian press? Why did he do that?
MS. SHELLY: Other than acknowledging the fact that did give that interview and pointing to what the official reaction to that is of our U.S. Ambassador there, I don't think there's really anything that I could say beyond that. As to why he felt moved to do that immediately prior to his departure, frankly, I have no way of knowing. I can't get into his head. I don't know why he did that.
Q Let me follow up. Did you say he is no longer a member of the U.S. Government?
MS. SHELLY: That is correct.
Q O.K., thank you.
Q What's going to happen to him? I mean is there any sanction for what he said?
MS. SHELLY: No. My understanding is that yesterday was his last day in official U.S. Government employment and that he had decided to leave his position and to retire. So my understanding is that as of today he is no longer working for the U.S. Government.
As to the consequences from his interview, if there are any, I'm simply not in a position to know what those might be at this point.
Q May I ask another question? You said that you are still collaborating with the Government of Colombia but so far the two programs that you have with Colombia -- the rum-base raiders and the sharing of judicial evidence hasn't started so far? What's happening?
MS. SHELLY: I think you're aware some of the programs are put on hold some weeks back when there were some problems associated with them. I don't know what the exact status of those programs are at this point, but I'll see if we can say something a little more specifically about the current status of our cooperation program. But it certainly is still very much our intention to continue to work closely with the Colombian Government.
Q Excuse me. About the same question. Do you know if he send before yesterday any complaint to this government about the problem they're having in Colombia? Or do you know if he has any problem with somebody here in the main office?
MS. SHELLY: Are you referring specifically --
Q I'm talking Mr. Toft?
MS. SHELLY: Did he make any complaints --
Q Any complaint before?
MS. SHELLY: -- to the Colombian Government? Is that what you're asking me?
MS. SHELLY: I don't have that information. I'm not in a position to know that. I will check and see if he has relayed views that were similar to those he expressed on a personal basis. I'll check and see if I can find that information out; and, if so, if there's something that we would like to say on that. But I don't have that information with me.
Q One more question on that subject, from my side anyway. Were there any previous friction between him and the U.S. Government -- the DEA or the State Department -- Mr. Toft?
MS. SHELLY: Not that I specifically am informed on, on this point. I think he certainly was expressing his personal views and obviously they represented a degree of personal frustration on his part.
But I have been here and he has been there. I don't have any other information as to exactly what the nature of his personal activities and his interpersonal relationships may have been.
Q The issue of whether is interview is authorized/unauthorized, that it was his personal view or the view of the Government of the United States aside, there was some, to put it charitably, questions raised about the President-elect of Colombia and the campaign contributions he may have received from the Cali Cartel. Those were raised with him in New York by the State Department. He made certain pledges to (inaudible) there.
Since then, has Colombia's cooperation in counter-narcotics been everything we had hoped it would be? Have we put both allegations -- if you want to call them allegations -- to rest? Are we completely satisfied that President Samper is independent of the cocaine cartel?
MS. SHELLY: Sid, I'm just not going to get back into the substance on this one. The issue here is the interview that took place. I don't want to use the vehicle of an interview which was personal and unauthorized to reopen those questions except to say simply what I've said, which is that we're continuing our cooperation.
Q One more, I swear. Do you know if there's -- there have been some rumors that Mr. Tony Seneca, I believe is the name, will be the next head of the DEA in Colombia. Do you have anything on that?
MS. SHELLY: That would be a question you would have to refer to DEA. I wouldn't have that information here.
Q May we switch to another part of the world?
MS. SHELLY: Sure.
Q I have some questions concerning the U.S. and the Golan Heights. I'll throw them all out at once.
First, has the Secretary, during his trip to New York, been speaking to other U.N. delegations about participating in a multinational force on the Golan Heights?
Secondly, if the United States decides to commit U.S. forces to a peacekeeping role on the Golan, will the Administration go to the Congress for prior approval?
Finally, who is going to explain this to the American public and when? Will the American public receive an explanation before final decisions are made?
MS. SHELLY: The first question: the Secretary is still up in New York and engaged very deeply in conversations with his counterparts and other countries in the context of the UNGA meetings. I'm simply not in a position to get into that from here.
So I think in light of that, I simply am going to have to duck your follow-up questions because it would obviously touch on the substance of what he's working on, Middle Eastern issues up in New York.
Q Can I give you a phone number so Mike (McCurry) can call me up?
MS. SHELLY: Yes.
Q Do you have any response to the Amnesty International report suggesting that there are genuine refugee cases there in Guantanamo and that these people should not be confined there?
MS. SHELLY: We certainly have seen the report. We are concerned about the human rights situation in Cuba. For that reason, we authorized our Interests Section in Havana to process Cubans for refugee status there. This is under our in-country processing program. You know that we have that in only four countries in the world.
In the past several years, several thousands of Cubans have entered the United States through this program. We have encouraged all Cubans, including those who are at Guantanamo who feel that they have a claim to refugee status, to apply for that status at the Interests Section.
As you know, with respect to our policy regarding those Cubans who are at Guantanamo, it is our policy not to force anyone to return to Cuba against his or her will. They can remain in Guantanamo or Panama in the safehaven if they so chose.
But as we have stated before, they will not be processed for migration to the United States from either of those two locations.
Q Have you received assurances from the Cuban authorities that these people will not be mistreated if they do, indeed, return to Cuba Proper?
MS. SHELLY: As you are aware, there are some who have expressed an interest in returning. This is also not a new possibility. There have been Cubans who have left who from time to time have asked to return and have done so. This has usually been done via Guantanamo when it has occurred in the past.
My understanding is that this process of seeking permission to return is something that always does take some time. That has not actually happened yet for those who have been seeking to return from Guantanamo. But my understanding from the past, from those who have returned on previous occasions, there has not been any concrete evidence that we've had that as a consequence of their return they have been mistreated. I will check with our Interests Section and see if I can't reconfirm that understanding.
But I remember that we looked into that issue at the time the talks were going on, and I know that's what the information as that we had then.
Q Christine, is there anything new that you can report on the apparatus working or being set up to work on that target of 20,000 refugees a year -- the deal "Stop the rafters and we'll let 20,000 in a year?"
MS. SHELLY: Yes. That's actually a question that I got at yesterday's press briefing. I answered it then, but I'd be happy to just repeat it.
There was a report -- I'm sure you're aware -- in yesterday's paper about the possibility of there being a kind of lottery for Cubans who might be interested in migrating. This really relates to the parole issue.
I mentioned yesterday that we're considering a variety of mechanisms through which we can meet the commitment under the migration agreement with Cuba. That's the agreement to issue 20,000 travel documents per year to Cuban nationals. A lottery is one of those possibilities.
We are close to a public announcement of our plan. No final decisions have yet been made. I would hope that within a week or so we would be in a position to announce something.
But whatever the final details of the plan, a guiding principle for us is that we're trying to make migration to the U.S. possible for those Cubans who have not had any opportunity to migrate to the U.S. in the past.
Q Christine, I'm puzzled. If Amnesty International says that if some of the people at Guantanamo have genuine reason to fear and therefore have genuine refugee status or claims to something like asylum, and these people have to go back, aren't we putting a little bit too much faith in the ability, in the will of the Cuban Government to treat them right?
MS. SHELLY: I think it's certainly a difficult issue to deal with. I think, on the other hand, we do have in-country processing, specifically to deal with those who do qualify for the refugee status. We're not able at this point to do the kind of interviewing and processing and investigations that are required in order to be able to make that determination.
As you know, certainly from our experiences in other places, there is a process that has to be gone through. In cases where there appear to be dire circumstances involved, we certainly try to expedite the process.
In Guantanamo, we're simply not in a position to be able to go through the whole process from start to finish which would be required, and as a result the in-country processing for Cubans to make that refugee determination, it's something that we need to do in-country.
Q So that these people -- supposing, let us say, that sometime before the United States announced their policy, people at Guantanamo are not going to get asylum or refugee status and somebody defected from Cuba and decided to take a risk, a chance, knowing that if he or she were caught or have to go back, there would be a problem; then they end up in Guantanamo, and then you get a new United States policy and there they are, being forced, as Amnesty International suggests, to go back in spite of the fact that they deserve asylum and would risk their lives going back. Are we still going to insist that they have to go back?
MS. SHELLY: In order to qualify for refugee status, yes, they have to go back and be processed in-country.
Q A Bosnia question?
MS. SHELLY: Sure.
Q General Rose's spokesman this morning pointed out that regardless of what NATO says in Seville, that the decision of when to call in air strikes remains with the U.N. commanders on the ground, and that their position still is that they will use force proportionate to what they feel is appropriate. Currently, their feeling is that a more extensive use of force would be counterproductive.
Given that nothing has changed in the chain of command, with the U.N. commanders still having authority, doesn't this mean that whatever tougher statements come out of NATO are inconsequential?
MS. SHELLY: No. I don't think that I would agree with that assessment at all. The whole issue of enforcement of existing U.N. resolutions and of exclusion zones, for example, is something which has been worked very actively up in New York this past week as well.
There also has been the meeting of the NATO Defense Ministers, which you referenced, which took up as their first order of business the whole situation in Bosnia. I think particularly the concerns that had been expressed, and certainly were expressed by Secretary Perry, about the degree to which UNPROFOR has been involved in enforcement of those decisions.
It's my understanding from the information that I've received that there was a consensus within that body that the NATO Council should look much more vigorously into the whole enforcement question; I think, specifically, to be sure that there is a very clear set of understandings about the standards that would be used to determine what constitutes a provocation.
I think once those discussions are held, and presumably the consensus that then would emerge out of the NATO discussions, they would be communicated to the United Nations. Usually, when there are discussions and understandings of this kind, they're communicated by the Secretary General or the Acting General of NATO to the Secretary General of the United Nations. Then, presumably, the United Nations, in the form of communication from the U.N. Secretary General to the UNPROFOR commanders, that there would be or could be additional clarity in the guidance or instructions that would be given to the field commanders.
The way the process was set up from the beginning was the way in which air power would be used to enforce those decisions was always to be a product of both the UNPROFOR chain of command as well as the NATO chain of command. Against the general backdrop of wishing to see a tougher enforcement of the existing decisions -- particularly on exclusion zones -- we expect that they can work out the understandings on this in a way which would permit improved enforcement.
Q Even over General Rose's objections? Is there anything in this that would put additional pressure on him to call in air strikes when he feels that they aren't justified, or that he would prefer not to do them?
MS. SHELLY: As a practical matter, it would be very difficult for General Rose to completely disregard what appeared to be the sentiments expressed in a consensus sort of way coming from a NATO Defense Minister's meeting.
But, again, I think there's a process in which that sentiment has to pass through now before there might be some further guidelines given to General Rose in the context of his own chain of command.
So it's not something that I would expect to see an immediate change. But given the involvement of NATO and also the chain of command of UNPROFOR, it certainly was the hope of the Defense Ministers, I think, that steps will be taken to toughen the enforcement of the exclusion zones.
Q Those restrictions -- I may be using the wrong word - - but those same restraints on Rose, would that also apply to Mr. Akashi who also, as you know, on several occasions, virtually vetoed air strikes when some commanders on the ground thought they were necessary?
MS. SHELLY: As you know, Akashi is the kind of UNPROFOR political authority there, whereas General Rose is the military commander. They have always, of course, had to track their actions with each other.
But, again, assuming that this does follow through a process, it would certainly also be a set of consultations or guidelines, or whatever, that Akashi would be involved in as well.
Q I'd like to get back to Syria and attack it a different way this time, and put it into some context. Okay? You may be --
MS. SHELLY: You're absolutely more than welcome to ask the questions, but I can tell you, I don't have any particular instructions myself or guidance on the Syria points. So before you get started on this, I can tell you that the best I'm going to be able to do is to take your question. It may be that I will have to duck completely.
Q I'm accustomed to it. And I say it --
MS. SHELLY: I'm accustomed to it also, so go ahead. (Laughter)
Q (Inaudible) You may be aware that there's some concern in Congress right now over the possibility the United States may get involved in a peacekeeping function. Some questions have been raised about prior American concerns with the Israeli Government. So maybe you can take these questions.
Is the United States Government satisfied with the Syrians in terms of their counterfeiting of U.S. currencies, the problems of drug trafficking, the Taif Agreement, what's happening in Lebanon, possible strategic cooperation with Iran, and weapons of mass destruction?
MS. SHELLY: Anybody else want to add anything to the Syrian -- terrorism?
Q And my deadline is, seriously --
MS. SHELLY: Your deadline is 2:00 this afternoon?
Q Four o'clock is okay. Quite seriously --
MS. SHELLY: I think you may have some holes in your story.
Q I would love for those to be pointed out so I can go back to members of Congress and indicate to them that the State Department feels that maybe there are holes in the story?
MS. SHELLY: I think the first point that you raised is, we are not at that point in the road yet regarding commitments on U.S. troops, and we do continue to have consultations with the Congress on where we are on the status of the peace negotiations, including where we are on the Syrian track.
As you are also aware, the Secretary does plan to travel to the region in the month of October to continue that dialogue and to see if we can advance the Israeli-Syrian track still further.
Some of the issues that you've touched upon, though, are not issues that we're working in the multilateral context. They're issues that we're working in the context of our bilateral dialogue with Syria. I will be happy to look into it to see if there's something that we'd like to say on any of those issues. But, again, I'm not committing myself formally to it in the form of a taken question for today.
Q As a follow-up to that, when you say "We are dealing with this in a bilateral fashion," this gets to the concern apparently of some critics of a possible U.S. role in a peacekeeping thing. How can the United States simply on a bilateral, between the United States and Syria?
Basically, one person said today, almost, "Wipe the slate clean," insofar as Syria is concerned, just to promote the peace process.
MS. SHELLY: In any set of relationships that we have with a country, they are influenced by a multiplicity of factors. Certainly, the peace process and the desire to have progress on the Israeli-Syrian track is a very important element in our objectives and in our dialogue with Syria. But we also have the capacity to work the bilateral issues, the ones to which you referred, on their own track. We do that through our contacts with them here in Washington and certainly through our Embassy in Damascus.
I certainly would not draw a formal kind of linkage between progress on the one and progress on the other. We would like to have the best possible relationship with Syria that we can. Those are all issues which we have previously identified as being of concern to us either in the peace process or bilateral context. They certainly will remain so.
Q Can we move to another area?
MS. SHELLY: Sure.
Q Gerry Adams: Who is he meeting with? Where is he meeting? Are we trying to placate the British Government by having him meet with somebody low? What's his program?
MS. SHELLY: I don't have the precise details of his program yet. I know that comes as an enormous shock to you.
No official meetings here have been scheduled as of yet. I am tracking this one, asking the question on a daily basis. I think you are aware that we indicated last week that we expected that he would have contacts with the State Department. I think we said at that time at the working or office-Director level.
I'm not aware that there is any change in that. But I've been told this morning that no meetings at this point had been scheduled although I certainly would expect something along the lines that we indicated to be scheduled, but they're not scheduled yet.
Q So far, you don't know anything about a possible meeting with Tony Lake, for example?
MS. SHELLY: That wouldn't be for me to answer. That's definitely an NSC answer.
Q When is he --
MS. SHELLY: I think he's supposed to be here next week. I think it's the first part of next week. I don't know how long at this point he's supposed to be in Washington.
Q While we're in that part of the world -- and this is, I believe, just a housekeeping matter -- what can you tell us about coverage for Dick Spring tomorrow in his meetings with Christopher?
MS. SHELLY: We'll do that a little bit later. Sid.
Q On China. Lynn Davis met with Liu Huaqiu this morning at 10:00. Do you have anything? They were to discuss the missile transfers to Pakistan -- nuclear transfers to Pakistan. Any readout on that?
MS. SHELLY: I don't have a readout on that yet. I'll check and see if we can get one. As you know, there also are meetings the beginning of next week here in Washington. The Chinese Prime Minister and Foreign Minister will be here at the beginning of the week, and we'll have consultations with the officials.
I don't know if we will want to say something in a readout on the meeting with Under Secretary Davis. I'll check and see. It may be that we will lump that into a broader readout that we would be doing next week. I'll check and see if we can get something.
Q A U.S. official said that the meeting today was specifically designed to talk about that one issue, to sort of keep it from shading the rest of the events next week. If we could get something on it today.
MS. SHELLY: I will do my best.
Q Perhaps giving a Background briefing on the great foreign policy success?
MS. SHELLY: I'll see what we can do.
Q Is Ambassador Gallucci back in Washington?
MS. SHELLY: He's on his way back.
Q He's on his way back?
MS. SHELLY: Yes. He's due back today, I understand.
Q Do you have any readout on the end of the talks in Geneva?
MS. SHELLY: I think you're probably aware, he gave a very short press conference before he left to come back here. I don't have really anything to say beyond that. He didn't say a lot in the way of substance except to simply say that it was a good substantive exchange and that he was returning for consultations for a period of a few days.
As I said yesterday, we did expect him to be back here. My understanding now is that he'll be returning to Geneva to resume negotiations on Wednesday of next week. He's due back sometime today. I don't have the time or flight information on that, but my expectation is, in the next few days he'll be pursuing consultations within our government.
We always do try to get him out and provide more details on that. But at this point, until he's had a chance to have those consultations, I don't have anything else beyond what I said yesterday that I can share.
Q Did the talks start Wednesday, or does he go back Wednesday and then the talks would start the next day?
MS. SHELLY: My guidance says, he will return to Geneva to resume negotiations on Wednesday.
Q I wonder, these negotiations were touched off, of course, by President Carter's trip to North Korea. Now they've apparently reached somewhat of an impasse. When President Carter went there, we were prepared to go to the United Nations for sanctions if nothing happened. Is the United States considering the possibility of renewing its quest for sanctions in the United Nations if there is no further progress in negotiations if they remain at an impasse.
MS. SHELLY: It's just premature for me to answer that specific question until we have an opportunity to hear what Bob has to say about how far they got.
We are not characterizing the talks as an impasse, although we have acknowledged that the progress has been limited.
So he's back here now to take stock of where we are and to talk with those who are involved in the decision-making process on Korea. I think after he's had a chance to do that, we might be in a better position to answer that, but we're not there now.
Q The Secretary said only two days ago there was no progress. You're saying now that there was limited progress. Did something happen between Wednesday and Thursday?
MS. SHELLY: No. I think the Secretary had acknowledged that there was little progress. I think that was the phrase that he used.
So, no, I'm not shading here between what we may have said before and what I'm saying now and what the Secretary said.
Q You probably don't have anything on it, but what would be your assessment, the Administration's assessment, as to why North Korea has gone back to a more hard-line position in these negotiations? Is it a reflection of something in the leadership or disagreement in the leadership, or waiting for Kim Jong-Il to be officially install.
MS. SHELLY: Bob actually got very into that question when he did his press conference yesterday. He said, in response to that, that he didn't have any knowledge that suggested that that had some influence to bear on where we are now. So I can only refer to that and his remarks out in Geneva at the press conference yesterday.
Q One of the assessments that apparently came out of backgrounders there -- at least, according to the Washington Post -- is the feeling that the North Koreans are just pushing for the sake of stalling until something gets done in their internal politics, or just maybe pushing for the sake of because they can.
I'm just wondering what leverage the United States has, if you don't sort of consider perhaps going back to the United Nations for sanctions -- what leverage the United States has in these talks?
MS. SHELLY: Well, I think it's not so much a question of formal leverage, but it's a question of what each of the two parties would like to get out of the exchanges. They have some interest in having a broader relationship with us, which has other elements of discussion in it besides just the nuclear issue. We, obviously, would like to see a resolution of the nuclear issue.
So they have some things that they are interested in; and we, I think, have signaled publicly on many occasions what we're interested in. If we cannot reach common understanding on how best to go forward, then obviously there are other policy choices or avenues which are available.
But I think it's just premature at this time to go any further down that track to suggest that we might do this or that. He's our negotiator on this and he will clearly need to consult with senior levels in this government before deciding the next steps.
Q I was going to go back to Cuba, so if you've got Korea go ahead.
Q On North Korea for just a second. There's also been a lot of negative media coming out of the official Korean outlets in the last couple of days. Do you have any comment on blaming the United States, or accusing the United States of threatening the world with nuclear strikes, arming Japan with nuclear weapons -- things along that line?
MS. SHELLY: We're certainly aware of the statements that they have made. We do watch them. We certainly read them with interest and we certainly try to get some kind of a feeling about what they might mean or how to interpret them. But I think we have acknowledged many times that it's often very hard to come up with a particular interpretation for one set of remarks.
At times when there are talks underway, we have often seen that pattern in the public remarks coming from the North Korean side. I don't know if they are using this as a way to kind of bring pressure behind their side in the negotiations or they feel that they're responding to some kind of pressure that they receive coming from the U.S. side.
I think it's very, very hard to know exactly what are the driving forces behind some of the statements that they make. So we hear them, we know what they are; but I think that we always concentrate on what occurs in the official exchanges that we have with them and that we don't engage particularly on any single statement that they might make in the public domain.
Q Yes. This is from our Miami bureau -- a fairly good question, and probably I know the answer, but I'll put it for them.
Given the ability of the United States and Cuba to talk about this whole issue of rafters and given some minor changes that the Cubans are making or in the process of making domestically, has any of that prompted, in the State Department or in the Administration, a re-look at the United States policy toward Cuba? Is there anything afoot there?
MS. SHELLY: Not specifically that I would point to. As you know, the talks were held in which we were dealing with the migration issue. As to our general policy toward Cuba and what we would like to see, which are steps toward liberalization and democratization within Cuba, I think those are certainly very key elements of what we're looking for in the way of change or changes that we would like to see Fidel Castro undertake. But we're watching those events to see if anything might occur in that regard, and I'm not aware of anything specifically that has changed the picture on that score.
Q Thank you.
MS. SHELLY: Thanks.
(The briefing concluded at l:23 p.m.)
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