U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE OFFICE OF THE SPOKESMAN DAILY PRESS BRIEFING OCTOBER 13, 1994 U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE DAILY PRESS BRIEFING I N D E X Thursday, October 13, 1994 Briefer: Christine Shelly HAITI Cedras/Biamby Departures -- Statement re Overnight Departures to Panama and the US ..................................1 -- Individuals Paroled into the US ...............1-4 -- Unfreezing of Cedras/Biamby Assets in US ......4-5 -- US Rental of Cedras Properties ................5-8 October 15 Return of President Aristide: -- Security Arrangements .........................1-2 -- US Delegation .................................8-10 Situation on the Ground in Port-au-Prince .........1-2 Reported US Contracting of Private Body Guards for Aristide ....................................2 IRAQ Reports Troops Massing on the Northern Border .....10 Turkish Cooperation in Current Crisis .............10 French Defense Minister Leotard's Comment re US Policy/Non-Violation of UN Sanctions ............10-12 French Economic Designs ...........................12 List of Existing UN Sanctions .....................13-14 Possible Visit to the UN in New York by Russian Foreign Minister Kosyrev ........................14 Reported Boarding of Liberian-Flag Vessel in the Gulf ............................................14 CUBA Disposition of Pregnant Women and Children in Guantanamo ......................................14-15
DEPARTMENT OF STATE DAILY PRESS BRIEFING
THURSDAY, OCTOBER 13, 1994, 1:22 P. M. (ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED)
MS. SHELLY: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. Welcome to the State Department briefing. I just want to begin with a short statement on Haiti which was issued by our Embassy this morning in Port-au-Prince.
Raoul Cedras, Philippe Biamby, members of their families and close associates left Haiti in the early morning hours of October 13. Cedras and Biamby, accompanied by four family members and one associate, were flown aboard a charter aircraft to Panama. Twenty-three other relatives and associates of Cedras and Biamby were flown aboard another charter aircraft to Miami, Florida. After a review by the Departments of State and Justice, they were paroled into the United States by the Attorney General.
The departure of the two remaining coup leaders, coming after that of Michel Francois earlier in the month, marks a historic moment in the effort to restore democracy in Haiti. It also clears the way for the return to Haiti on October 15 of Haiti's elected President, Jean-Bertrand Aristide, for the full restoration of democracy and for a bright new future for the Haitian people.
I'd be happy to take your questions.
Q Do you have anything on what the United States is doing to ensure that President Aristide has adequate protection on his return? There was a newspaper account this morning on the subject.
MS. SHELLY: Yes. We have been working very hard, of course, out on the ground -- General Shelton and all of the representatives of the U.S. Government who are there to support him -- to work out precisely the details of the security arrangements. And as that's something that's being handled in Port-au-Prince, I'm not really going to comment on that specifically here.
I understand from my most recent report from the State Department's correspondent in Haiti, David Johnson, that things are calm in Port-au-Prince. Normal activities appear to be resuming. There does appear to be a significant military presence there, which is, of course, there for the purpose of maintaining civil order; and the government continues to proceed to move into the offices which were vacated earlier this week in the National Palace and to resume their functions.
So my understanding is that all arrangements there are proceeding smoothly. I think Ambassador Swing is also scheduled to meet with the U.S. wardens representing the American community down in Haiti later today, for him to explain what the various events are which will be occurring in the next couple of days, so that the American community there will be fully informed.
But more specifically on the security point, I think I have to duck that here, because the arrangements are being made there.
Q We're talking about the training of Haitian bodyguards, involving them in state security, and the hiring of a private firm by the U.S. Government to take part in this process, and the size of the contract given to that firm. It's all these kinds of questions.
MS. SHELLY: Is this in the context of the police force, the multi --
Q No, no. We're talking about his personal bodyguards.
MS. SHELLY: His personal security.
MS. SHELLY: I don't have information with me on that, and I will check and see.
Q In the Boston Globe.
MS. SHELLY: Okay, I will check on that.
Q What can you tell us about these associates of the dictators who were paroled into the U.S.? Who are they, and why, and what are the terms?
MS. SHELLY: Basically the issues related to their coming in are essentially issues that were settled by INS. I don't have a lot of details for you on that, but I do have a few.
Basically, when we began the process or the discussions last week, as you know, to facilitate the departure of General Cedras and Biamby, the discussions involved not only facilitating their departure but also their families, close associates and domestic employees, all of which we hoped would occur prior to the return of President Aristide.
As to the parole part, we were informed by the INS that all of the Haitians associated with the de facto regime which were on this second plane were either admitted or paroled into the United States last night.
The decision to grant parole is one which is made at the discretion of the Attorney General. Parole is not regarded as admission for purposes of immigration. Once the parole is no longer necessary, individuals will be treated as any other alien in applying for permanent entry into the United States.
Q How long is it contemplated that the parole would be necessary?
MS. SHELLY: They've been paroled in for six months is my understanding.
Q Is the underlying thought that they would be in danger in Haiti if they were to remain?
MS. SHELLY: I don't know. I'm not fully, I think, informed on all of the factors that went into the decision. I know in the discussions, of course, we had had discussions with other countries about accepting Cedras and Biamby, as you know, and those discussions also did include Panama.
We also, of course, very, very much appreciate their offer to facilitate this. Certainly, we were trying to work within all of the existing legal constraints. We also wanted to try to accommodate the preferences of the people in question to the extent possible.
We're told that Cedras and Biamby wanted to go to Panama and fortunately that's what was able to be worked out. President Perez Balladares told us that he wanted to make a contribution to the process of reconciliation, and so therefore it was in that context that he offered a place of residence for Cedras and Biamby.
Of course, as I mentioned, we had discussions with the Panamanians some days back about this possibility, and at that time the Panamanian President said that he would consider the request, and ultimately he granted permission for their entry.
We certainly very, very much applaud the action of the Panamanian President in taking this decision. We believe he deserves the support and the gratitude of the international community for making this contribution to the resolution of the crisis in Haiti.
The departure of the generals prior to the arrival of Aristide will, of course, lower tensions in Haiti, and we believe advance the process of reconciliation.
Q Did he refuse to take these -- what is it? -- 23 or 25 who came to the United States? Did the Panamanian President refuse to take these, or did they show a preference for the United States rather than Panama? In other words, what's different about the ones who came here than the ones who went to Panama?
MS. SHELLY: The group that went to Panama specifically wanted to go to Panama, and some of the others did not. Some of the others asked for entry into the United States, and I believe that among that group of 23 who came to the United States, in fact some of them were eligible for admission anyway, because I think at least a few of them had green cards.
I don't have the exact information on a person-by-person basis, but the categories of people in question are the ones that I've just referenced. And some of them, simply their very strong preference was to come to the United States on this basis to be paroled in for a six-month period, so that's how that transpired.
Q Did Cedras agree to leave in exchange for the unfreezing of his assets? Was there a quid pro quo?
MS. SHELLY: I think that the unfreezing of the assets was always anticipated as a possibility, and in fact a probability, once the military leaders and their close associates or supporters step down. And, as they have stepped down, it certainly is our expectation that those sanctions, frozen assets and things, would be lifted in short order.
I'm actually told that the White House addressed this this morning already, indicating that once -- since they have now left, that they would expect that the freezing of those assets would be lifted very shortly.
Q Is it absolutely certain that there were assets belonging to General Cedras and General Biamby, and so on, being held in this country? I mean, is that an assumption that we're making that's based on some fact or not?
MS. SHELLY: Barrie, I don't have a list, person-by- person, but, yes, there were assets held in the United States. And, as you know, we had revised the list of people who had been on that list. We had updated it as additional information became available. I think at the end there were several hundred people whose names were on that list whose assets were frozen. But I don't have a dollar figure for you.
Q (Inaudible) General Cedras?
MS. SHELLY: General Cedras himself, I'd have to check. I mean, I don't know if I'm going to be in a position to give you a person-by-person, but it's my understanding that among the coup leaders, the top echelons of the military and their supporters, that there were certainly a significant number of assets held in the States.
Q Would it be possible to find out what assets were actually frozen?
MS. SHELLY: I don't think that we would be in a position to give out that information anyway. It would be under the jurisdiction of the Treasury Department, so you might be able to get a specific answer there.
Q Can you tell us what is the disposition of Cedras' property in Haiti, and is it true that we have agreed to rent at least one of his two homes in the country?
MS. SHELLY: In the context of our discussions with General Cedras about his departure, there were discussions about property and particularly three private residences. In order to facilitate his early departure, the U.S. Government did agree to discuss the possibility of renting these three properties from General Cedras, and these discussions were underway and were unfolding even through late yesterday.
After that, an agreement in principle was reached to lease these three properties to the United States after the United States Government would undertake all appropriate reviews regarding the circumstances in which we could do that.
As I mentioned, there has been an agreement in principle to do that, and should the agreement become more formal or finalized, the rental arrangement would have to reflect a fair market value for the properties being leased, and they could only be leased for use by diplomatic and consular employees or personnel or uses of the United States Government.
Q Is there any (inaudible).
MS. SHELLY: I don't know. Don't have that information.
Q What are we talking about in terms of money, though? You say fair market value. We must have some idea what that value is.
MS. SHELLY: That's not a value that we would be able to put a number on here. That's a value that presumably in Port- au-Prince they would be able to determine -- the particular size of how a certain number of bedrooms and that kind of thing about what that type of a property would rent for.
So that's actually a determination that is made by people who are involved in our U.S. Government rentals of various kinds of properties. So it's not just, "Gee, let's pick an amount and decide that that's the fair market value." It doesn't work that way. There is a whole process involved in determining what is fair market rental.
Q Are you saying that the United States agreed to this in principle without knowing what the outside limit is? I mean, it could be $1 million a year.
MS. SHELLY: There were intense discussions on this that also involved all of the different people in the U.S. Government -- and in the State Department -- who are involved in regulations that fall under the Foreign Services Building Act and other provisions that we operate under that are obviously consistent with U.S. law. Because this was also extremely important that this whole thing unfold; and, as the possibility developed, that this be handled in a way which was, obviously, completely lawful and consistent with our regulations.
So the people who are involved in this kind of thing also got involved and looked into this possibility and looked into this issue, and will be continuing to do it. This is, as I said, not a final agreement. There's a review process involved in this. There are regulations and, of course, the Department's established practice.
Now, whether a dollar amount has been assigned to this yet, I don't know. I don't have that information. But, as I said, the agreement at this point is in principle, subject to all of the appropriate U.S. Government reviews.
Q Can you get that information so that the American taxpayer knows what the outside liability is?
MS. SHELLY: I will do my best.
Q Is there anything in the agreement that gives sort of an outside time limit on the rental of these? Do they eventually come back and claim these properties?
MS. SHELLY: My understanding is that the agreement in principle is for a one-year rental, a one-year lease.
Q We know of a mansion in Port-au-Prince, we know of a beachside reside in Miragoane. What's the third property? And also, secondarily, is the United States now providing security for those three properties?
MS. SHELLY: I don't have the answer to your last question. I think the third property in question was the house in which General Cedras' mother resided.
Q What about the perception --
MS. SHELLY: My understanding is, yes.
Q What about the perception that this agreement is allowing a man who was once described by the President as a virtual criminal of human rights abuses, terrorizing the citizens, now to escape to a relatively comfortable life in exile?
MS. SHELLY: Because it goes back to what we believe was necessary to have them leave and the fact that the departure of Cedras and Biamby from Haiti was also believed as something that would contribute to a much better and more stable environment which would also encourage the restoration of democracy, and certainly an easier return by President Aristide to Haiti.
So it was always anticipated, even in the context of previous agreements such as the Governor's Island Accord, that they would step aside and the expectation was, at that time, that they would choose to leave the country. They did decide, after they had considerable opportunity to reflect upon that, that they would be more comfortable out of Haiti, and those were simply the arrangements that were made. That's what their decisions were.
And we always said, in the context of that, that if they choose to leave the country prior to President Aristide's return, we would facilitate their transportation.
Q The fact that Cedras still owns his property suggest he might go back some day?
MS. SHELLY: I'm not in a position to speculate on that. He has been offered a place to live by the Panamanians. It is certainly our expectation that he will continue to reside there.
The issue of these properties came up in these final days and hours prior to his departure. We felt that it was important to address this in some kind of way so that this would not become a sticking point which would therefore either delay or even prevent Cedras from departing.
Q (inaudible) suggested that he's only to be there temporarily. Does the presence of his family and associates here mean that the U.S. would contemplate letting him be paroled into this country?
MS. SHELLY: I'm not aware of the fact that the Panamanians have said anything regarding the length of his stay. It's certainly not my impression, from what I know, that this is a kind of temporary thing. I believe that he has offered them a possibility of taking up permanent residence.
The second part of your question about what that might mean in the longer term, I don't have an answer to that. But I'm not in any way signaling that there is something else which is planned farther down the road. Our expectation is that they have gone to Panama to reside there permanently.
Q Was there any quid pro quo in Panama taking Biamby and Cedras? Are we offering them anything in terms of aid or anything else?
MS. SHELLY: No. This was an offer which was made -- as I mentioned, we had talked with the President of Panama about this possibility, but it was an offer that he made freely.
Q Do you have any details on the trip on Saturday?
MS. SHELLY: Well, I'd like to have more details than I do. We still have not had the formal announcement on this from the White House. It's possible, now as the White House briefing is unfolding, that that may have been addressed even by now.
Secretary Christopher will lead a Presidential delegation to Haiti on Saturday. The delegation will be accompanying President Aristide on his return to Haiti. Members of the Presidential delegation will participate in the events marking the return of President Aristide.
The trip underscores the importance that President Clinton attaches to the restoration of President Aristide and a democratic government to Haiti.
With the return of the duly elected President, now the process of reconciliation reform and renewal can begin.
I don't have a lot of other details for you on that. It is expected to be a one-day trip.
The Secretary and the other members of the Presidential delegation will return to Washington on the evening of the 15th.
Q What time will he leave there?
MS. SHELLY: It was wheels-up somewhere in the range of 8:00 to 9:00. I think we'll have that a little later today.
Q Do you know if the Secretary and Aristide will be on the same plane?
MS. SHELLY: I don't have that information yet. As far as I know, there are two planes that are going to be departing, and I haven't seen rosters or anything like that. So I just don't have that yet.
Q You said he would accompany Aristide, didn't you?
MS. SHELLY: Yes.
Q Doesn't that mean they're on the same plane?
MS. SHELLY: That's what my guidance says. That certainly is a possibility, and it's certainly a reasonable reading of that. But as I don't actually have the manifest to see who is on which plane -- and I'm not in any way attempting to signal something in this --I just don't have that, and so I don't want to give a categoric answer without having that in front of me.
Q So you don't know the size of the U.S. delegation as opposed to the Haitian delegation?
MS. SHELLY: I don't have that yet. I don't have that yet. It's still being worked on today.
MS. SHELLY: Iraq. Did you want the first question?
Q Yes. (Inaudible) in the northern part of the country, nearby the Kurdish border. They are making military exercises. Do you have any information about that?
MS. SHELLY: No, I do not, actually. I have not seen that. I know that in the context of some of the troop withdrawals from the south that we did not have final information or conclusive information about what the ultimate destination of some of those troops are, but I'm going to check on that. If there is a concentration in another location, that obviously would be -- rather than simply a redeployment to where they originated -- that would be something we would want to check on.
Q May I ask one question about the Turkish Government's behavior? Do you have anything today?
MS. SHELLY: I have very little on that. I did check on that yesterday, in response to your interest, and thought that you might want to come back in and see if we had anything to say on that today.
What I can tell you is that President Clinton spoke with Prime Minister Ciller on October 10 and was assured that Turkey will continue to support the international measures against Iraq.
Turkey has remained a loyal and supportive ally, and the cost of that has involved a rather considerable economic hardship for Turkey. We are certainly grateful for this help.
Q Did they talk about Turkish preparation in "Provide Comfort?"
MS. SHELLY: I don't have any other details on that conversation.
Q Christine, are we going to leave it Madeleine Albright to beat up on the French, or do you have a few licks you'd like to get in, too?
MS. SHELLY: Do you want be more specific in this or are you just --
Q A little more diplomatic?
MS. SHELLY: -- sort of fishing for general comments, and see if I want to engage in any --
Q No. I would like to know what the United States Government's official reaction is to the remarks made by Defense Minister Leotard, and also maybe you can tell us where we stand at the U.N.?
MS. SHELLY: Okay. As to a reaction to the French Defense Minister's remarks, and I assume you're zeroing in on the ones related to domestic politics -- is that the one?
Q Also the fact that their assessment was that the Iraqis were not breaking any U.N. law?
MS. SHELLY: Just a couple of things on that. Secretary Perry has noted that Iraq's recent deployments are nearly identical to those which preceded the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait. And given Iraq's recent history of aggression, it would have been foolhardy not to have taken the Iraqi deployments very seriously and to, of course, have responded appropriately.
In response to what we believe was a very clear and immediate threat, both the U.S. and France have placed their troops on alert in the region. We have been working very hard with France in the context of bilateral exchanges and also discussions in the U.N. Security Council with a view to developing a common frame of mind on a resolution.
The specific point on domestic politics, we believe that President Clinton acted in a way which is based on our national interests. The specific point about domestic politics, I think it's hard to know exactly what Defense Minister Leotard was thinking and "if" on that particular remark.
As to the comments about whether or not there were any violations of existing U.N. Security Council resolutions, sanctions were imposed on Iraq to deter precisely the sort of aggressive military behavior that we've seen. Iraqi military actions along the Kuwait border clearly threaten international stability. It goes against the very spirit of the United Nations resolutions. We continue to work with France and with all of the allies at the U.N. to try to halt the Iraqi acts of aggression which we believe do threaten the peace and security in the region.
Is there a rift with France? No. We believe that the French Government has strongly condemned the Iraqi deployments, and we believe that France shares our view that the U.N. must respond promptly to Iraq's aggressive moves.
We will continue to work closely with them in the Security Council context.
I've seen Madeleline Albright's remark and certainly note them. I'm certainly not going to dispute them, but I don't want to step up the heat any further than that.
More specifically, on what's happening in the U.N. and in the Security Council on the resolution, as you know, we have tabled a resolution. We are involved in consultations with U.N. Security Council members on appropriate next-steps concerning the threat which Iraq presents to Kuwait and also to try to address specifically what can be done to ensure that Iraq cannot again put Kuwait at risk.
I'm not going to get involved in specific discussion on proposals and on elements in the resolution. But we, of course, clearly still want to see the troops return to their previous positions. We want to make sure that they're not deployed in a way which will threaten Kuwait.
We are expecting that the Security Council will take action at some point soon, but I don't believe that we're making a prediction at this point about when a resolution might be adopted.
Q If I could just ask about one element of what Madeleine Albright said today. She strongly implied that the French may have been motivated by contracts which several French companies evidently have for the reconstruction of the Iraqi oil industry.
Does the United States Government, as a government, think that might have been their motivation?
MS. SHELLY: It's very hard to know about what that motivation might be. We certainly are aware of the fact that there are many commercial interests in France which are anxious to do business with Iraq. So therefore, if that has been some kind of a driving factor behind some of the remarks made by French officials, so be it.
There are commercial concerns, I think, in many countries that over the longer term would have an interest in seeing the sanctions against Iraq lifted. But I think what's important -- in the French case and in the case of other allies -- is that the French Government certainly shares our view that Iraq must fully comply with all U.N. resolutions.
Q To present the other side of that coin, it's also been suggested that the United States particularly has done rather well commercially with its arms sales, particularly to Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states, and the French have been pretty much frozen out of that.
Are we willing to share a little bit of that wealth with the French to get their views shaped a little closer to ours?
MS. SHELLY: It's not up to the United States to simply divide up the world's arms market. The countries in the region certainly saw in the aftermath of the invasion, the 1990 invasion of Kuwait, that they had certainly very legitimate security concerns and certainly felt a need to respond to those in the way that they proceeded with their defense plans and armaments.
However, it is a sovereign decision by each of those nations in question as to which particular system or piece of equipment or types of military hardware that they wished to purchase. So the United States is not doing anything with a view to excluding France from that market. They have an opportunity to bid on contracts as well.
But our approach to this crisis is not being motivated by strict commercial interests here. We're being motivated by what's in our national interest, and I think the President, when he addressed the Kuwait situation several nights ago, laid out very clear what those interests were.
Q On the point of the U.N. Security Council resolutions and Iraq's compliance or non-compliance, did you ever produce your famous list of issues in which you alleged that Iraq is in violation?
MS. SHELLY: Short answer: No, not yet. Still working on it. Next time I have guidance that says we're going produce something, I'm going to actually have the drafter of that guidance come up and use that, so that someone else will be on the hook.
We are still working on that. We did have a sheet which gave a kind of summary of resolutions, and what the key elements were, including votes and what the specific sanctions things were.
When we went to begin the process of updating that to include the last few resolutions, I'm told that our lawyers also wanted to have a look at that, and that there were some things in our earlier version of this which needed some correction apparently.
So everybody wants to be sure that what we put out is factually accurate, and I'm still pressuring our people to produce that, and I'm confident that we will. But I'm not going to stand up here any more days and say, "It's coming imminently." But we are working on updating an earlier chronology of U.N. Security Council resolutions on this.
Q Earlier you said that Iraq's actions were against the spirit of these resolutions. Are you deliberately not saying that Iraq's actions were against the letter?
MS. SHELLY: No. I think it's certainly been our very strong view that Iraq has been in consistent violation of U.N. Security Council resolutions.
Q Christine, the Russian Foreign Minister apparently is going to be in New York at the U.N. on Monday. Are there any plans for the Secretary to meet him either here or there?
MS. SHELLY: I have just learned this myself this morning that his travel plans may include a swing, after he visits Baghdad and possibly has some other travel in the region -- that there's a good possibility that he may be coming to New York and even meeting with the Security Council.
And as the Secretary is out of the country at the moment, I think that they're aware of the fact that Kozyrev's plans may include a visit to New York. So I think that certainly would be a possibility, but I don't have anything firm on it.
Q What information do you have about this tanker that was boarded today?
MS. SHELLY: I don't have information on that. Where was that?
Q In the Gulf, apparently a Liberian-flagged, Greek- owned tanker that had oil which apparently came from Iraq.
MS. SHELLY: Okay. I'm going to have to check on that. I don't have any information on that. Anything else?
Q Thank you.
Q Do you have anything on Guantanamo Bay?
MS. SHELLY: I'm sorry.
Q The Cubans in Guantanamo Bay -- there are 250 pregnant women and several children without their parents. What is the State Department going to do about that?
MS. SHELLY: I don't know. I don't have information on that. I'll check.
Q Have you considered -- are you considering taking them to Puerto Rico as it was discussed previously?
MS. SHELLY: I know that there are some reports out there about that as a possibility. I don't have any hard information on that, so let me check on that and see if we can post an answer.
(The briefing concluded at 1:53 p.m.)
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