U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE OFFICE OF THE SPOKESMAN DAILY PRESS BRIEFING OCTOBER 28, 1994 U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE DAILY PRESS BRIEFING I N D E X FRIDAY, OCTOBER 28, 1994 Briefer: David Johnson GAMBIA Seating of Civilian Government Postponed/US Cuts Off Aid .......................................1-2 BOSNIA UN Resolution to Lift Arms Embargo ..............2,5-7 Military Action .................................2-5 UN/NATO Procedure for Airstrike Response to Exclusion Zone Violations .....................4-5 NATO/CFCE US Policy .......................................8-10
DEPARTMENT OF STATE DAILY PRESS BRIEFING
FRIDAY, OCTOBER 28, 1994, 1:20 P. M. (ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED)
MR. JOHNSON: Good afternoon. I've got one statement to begin with and then we'll get into your questions.
On October 24 the Gambian Armed Forces Provisional Ruling Council announced a timetable for restoring democracy which delays the seating of a civilian government until December 1998. The United States is deeply disappointed with this plan.
Young military officers overthrew the duly elected government of President Jawara three months ago. The Gambia had enjoyed 29 years of uninterrupted democratic rule. The country's constitution guaranteed the rule of law and basic human rights for all Gambians.
Given the historical strengths of the Gambian political system, the AFPRC's plan to delay seating power until 1998 is wholly unreasonable. We call upon them to reconsider their proposed timetable and to work with the Gambian people to restore democracy within 12 months.
The United States Government will provide no economic or security assistance to the Gambian military government.
Q What's in the pipeline right now that we are cutting off?
MR. JOHNSON: U. S. bilateral assistance for The Gambia, including $100,000 in security assistance, amounted to about $10.9 million in Fiscal Year 1994.
Q $100,000 is what you are cutting off?
MR. JOHNSON: It's likely in excess of that, because this also includes economic stabilization. What is not being cut is humanitarian assistance, but I don't have a breakdown for you for that.
Q Do you have a total on the humanitarian?
MR. JOHNSON: I do not.
Q $10.9 is the total?
MR. JOHNSON: $10.9 is the total in FY '94.
Q Including humanitarian?
MR. JOHNSON: Including all U.S. bilateral assistance.
Q Do you have any suggestion or are you making a suggestion that any other country was involved in the coup?
MR. JOHNSON: No. I don't have anything in my guidance which indicates that we are suspicious of that. I believe our concerns are about a domestic military operation.
Q Do we de marche the Gambians on this?
MR. JOHNSON: We've been speaking to them rather frequently on it.
Q On another subject, Ambassador Albright said that the Bosnian arms embargo resolution will be introduced this afternoon in the Security Council. Do you have the basic elements of that?
MR. JOHNSON: What I can tell you is that we are going to propose to the Security Council a resolution that would lift the U.N. arms embargo as it applies to Bosnia-Herzegovina and that we are taking this as a consequence of the Bosnian Serbs refusal to accept the Contact Group peace plan and map; that the Contact Group agreed to ratchet up pressure on parties to the Bosnian conflict that do not accept its proposals, and our view is that this step is an important part of that approach. But the details of the resolution are not going to be available until they are actually introduced by Ambassador Albright later this afternoon in New York.
Q But there will be an arms firm, hard --
MR. JOHNSON: The so-called hard trigger will be part of the resolution; that is, that the resolution will lift the embargo six months from its state of enactment.
Q Okay, on Bosnia. I know it is sort of a tricky question, legally speaking, but can you get us an answer today as to whether we support the Bosnian Government's recent offensive, and do we consider it an act of self-defense or an act of aggression?
MR. JOHNSON: The United States wants the parties to the Bosnian conflict to settle their differences peacefully. We believe a negotiated settlement is the only hope for long-term stability in the region.
To that end, we've been instrumental in developing the Contact Group peace plan and map for Bosnia and in other diplomatic efforts, to achieve a settlement in recent years.
We strongly support the Contact Group proposal and expect it to be the basis for an eventual settlement. At present, however, the plan and the map are still rejected by the Bosnian Serbs, the aggressors in this conflict.
The Bosnian Federation, which represents the principal victims of Serb aggression, has understandably decided to exercise its right to defend itself by force of arms.
We regret that fighting has become necessary and that there will be more casualties in an area that has already seen more than its share of conflict and suffering.
Q So this recent offensive is considered self-defense? You've got sort of self-defense?
MR. JOHNSON: We're understanding of their decision to exercise their right to defend themselves by force of arms.
Q Okay, and how would you answer people who say it's an offensive action, not a defensive action, which would abrogate their U.N. rights to defend themselves?
MR. JOHNSON: Take that one more time so that I can be clear about your question.
Q Under the U.N., every country has a right to -- however, there are those who say this is an offensive action, not a defensive action, so that they're not actually defending themselves there.
MR. JOHNSON: I think my words indicate that we understand their right to defend themselves by force of arms.
Q Okay, so it's fair to say we support this -- what they're doing?
MR. JOHNSON: It's fair to say that we understand this.
Q Do you have an update on the situation on the ground? Have they made further gains in the last 24 hours?
MR. JOHNSON: They have established control of 40 to 60 square miles of territory outside the Bihac area of northwestern Bosnia, formerly held by the Bosnian Serbs. Our preliminary assessment is that the FRY embargo of the Bosnian Serbs was not a significant factor in the Serb defeat, although we do understand that the Bosnian Serbs' fuel supply has been reduced by the sealing off of the border.
Q Were the details of the NATO-U.N. agreement reached yesterday on Bosnia?
MR. JOHNSON: What I do know is that the U.N. and NATO reached ad referendum agreement on a set of operating procedures to permit stricter, swifter, more effective airstrikes in response to exclusion zone violations yesterday. And courtesy of one of your colleagues who is not here represented, I'm given to understand by press reports that NATO Ambassadors have formally endorsed that plan. I'll see if I can get you a confirmation outside of press channels for that.
The NATO-U.N. agreement notes that NATO airstrikes will be conducted in general without advance warning and in close coordination with UNPROFOR. The agreement is based on the strict enforcement standards recently worked out by NATO Defense Ministers at their meeting in Seville.
Those standards respond to Contact Group foreign ministers' calls for strict enforcement of the exclusion zones as a means to bring the Bosnian Serbs to accept the Contact Group peace plan.
Q And the practical effect of this is that NATO pilots will be controlling and can pick off targets of opportunity without getting U.N. approval?
MR. JOHNSON: No. I would say that the so-called dual key system will remain part of the procedure.
Q The U.N. will still have the trigger authority.
MR. JOHNSON: The U.N. will still be the ones who will be requesting NATO to exercise airstrikes.
Q So how does this change things?
MR. JOHNSON: Because it drops the notice -- the advance warning.
Q You just won't call the Bosnian Serbs and give them a heads up before you do it, is that right?
MR. JOHNSON: I wouldn't characterize it with those words.
Q But that sentiment --
MR. JOHNSON: I'd say that we're going to be able to conduct them without advance warning and consistent with the principles laid out by the NATO Defense Ministers a few weeks ago in Seville.
Q Can I just follow. Has there been advance warning on all previous strikes?
MR. JOHNSON: I would hesitate to say on every one without checking, but I know that that's been the general practice.
Q David, is there not the reasonable expectation that this offensive on the part of the Bosnian Government will provoke the Serbs -- the Bosnian Serbs and will cause destabilization militarily throughout Bosnia-Herzegovina? Isn't there that possibility?
MR. JOHNSON: I would say that the Bosnian Serbs have been behaving in the past in ways which are inimicable to stability by not accepting the Contact Group peace plan. I'm not going to speculate on what this action might have on their activities. You'd have to talk to them about that.
Q You would agree that this does change the status quo and possibly in a dangerous way?
MR. JOHNSON: Any move changes the status quo. That's a fair assessment, yes.
Q About this Bosnian resolution, in view of the circumstances, a lot of countries like French, British, Russians are against it, and so it seems that there will be almost no possibility that it will be smoothly adopted by the Security Council. What is the U.S. Government's position on that? Are you going to show them and just ask them to vote on it, or do you have some new ways to negotiate or an amendment?
MR. JOHNSON: Without trying to answer each and every clause in your question, I would say that we plan to introduce this resolution this afternoon. We plan to consult broadly with other members of the Security Council, and we plan to pursue vigorously the adoption of this resolution. And we plan to push for its adoption among our allies and among other members of the Security Council as well.
Q How long will it take for consultations?
MR. JOHNSON: I wouldn't be able to estimate that for you.
Q Will you?
MR. JOHNSON: I can't give you a number without having something here to work from.
Q David, if and when it doesn't pass, are we going at it unilaterally then or --
MR. JOHNSON: I'd say without getting into the hypothetical of something not passing that we plan to pursue vigorously -- and we very much hope will pass -- that our strong preference remains to have a multilateral lifting of the arms embargo; that if this is not possible, the President will enter into consultations with Congress on the possibility of unilateral lift.
We have long maintained that the arms embargo is unjust, and our primary concern is allowing the Bosnian Federation to defend itself. We will work extremely closely with Congress, should this become necessary -- that is, unilateral lift -- to identify both the benefits and disadvantages of unilateral lift.
Q Wasn't that (inaudible) President Clinton's letter to Sam Nunn in which he said he would press the -- he would unilaterally lift if the Security Council didn't pass it?
MR. JOHNSON: I think that everything we're doing right now is completely consistent with the President's assurances to the Congress, and right now we're focusing on working in the Security Council for a multilateral lift.
Q Would it be fair to say, with all this flurry of military and diplomatic activity, that the United States has dropped its pretense and, NATO as well, is now entering the war on the side of the Bosnian Government?
MR. JOHNSON: I would not assess it in that fashion.
Q How could you rebut that?
MR. JOHNSON: I would say that as our commitment to Congress, the President's commitment to Congress stands, we are pursuing a lifting of the arms embargo against the Bosnians whom we have always felt were the aggrieved party in this, and we're allowing them to defend themselves. That is quite distinct from us acting on their behalf.
Q What are we doing to -- have we dropped the peace plan now?
MR. JOHNSON: Not at all. Our goal in pursuing this multilateral lift is also to bring pressure on the Bosnian Serbs to adopt the peace plan. As I made very clear in the opening remarks I made in responding to your first question, we believe a negotiated settlement is the only stable solution to this conflict, and we believe the Contact Group's plan and its map represent the best hope for that.
Q Is Charlie Thomas up in New York for this, or is he in the former Yugoslavia or where?
MR. JOHNSON: I don't know his location.
Q Different topics.
MR. JOHNSON: If you wish.
Q What's Dante Caputo doing here today?
MR. JOHNSON: He doesn't have an appointment with me. I didn't know he was here.
Q I saw him in the lobby smoking a butt. Can you take that question?
MR. JOHNSON: I'll look into it, but without being able to call every extension in the phone book, I can't give you a -- but I will look into his appearance here.
Q Generally when someone like that comes down here, it's on the public schedule, but it --
MR. JOHNSON: It depends on the person with whom he's meeting.
Q I would like to ask about Iraq. I understand Ambassador Gallucci has met with Rolf Ekeus concerning the Iraqi weapons program that allegedly has gone into tunnels deep underground. Dave, have you any news at all about that meeting or about that particular issue, of Iraq saying they expect they can get more from the civilized world by being intransigent like North Korea? Have you any comment at all on that meeting?
MR. JOHNSON: I don't have any direct comment on any meeting Mr. Ekeus and Ambassador Gallucci may have had, but with respect to the question of Iraq's motives, I'd say we would not speculate on their motives for threatening Kuwait except to note that Saddam Husayn has tried every gambit to secure the lifting of sanctions except for full compliance with all relevant Security Council resolutions.
I'd also note that Iraq invaded Kuwait in 1990, well before the U.S.-North Korean talks began; that they misjudged U.S. and Western resolve in 1990 and again in 1992, and likewise they may have misjudged or chosen to misunderstand the U.S.-North Korean framework and what it has accomplished.
Q What's the United States' position on the successor at OECD? Is that obscure enough for you? (Laughter)
MR. JOHNSON: That's fairly obscure. I know just enough about that to get myself in a lot of trouble, so I will endeavor to define how things stand at the moment. I understand the genesis of your question, but I also know that this is something that is under consideration, so I'm not going to venture a response off the cuff.
Q And specifically, though, is the United States blocking some sort of a compromise between France and Canada on this particular question -- burning question?
MR. JOHNSON: Okay.
Q Do you have anything on the Cubans that broke out of the detention facility in Panama?
MR. JOHNSON: I was unaware of such an outbreak.
MR. JOHNSON: And they broke out of it into where?
Q Into the jungles surrounding the camp. I think three have trickled back, but there are still 17 that are on the run.
MR. JOHNSON: Okay. Just to make sure my nomenclature is correct, you're talking about the safehaven facility, or you're talking about something distinct from that?
Q The safehavens.
MR. JOHNSON: Okay. I'm unaware of their departure or the return of the three. I'll see what I can find out about their whereabouts.
Q Do you want to take up the question of NATO expansion we looked at it yesterday? Would the United States as a sort of temporary alternative to early membership into NATO for the East Bloc -- would they like to see the CSCE become more of a NATO-like organization in hopes of satisfying those countries for a while?
MR. JOHNSON: I wouldn't choose those words to describe it, but I would say that we are pursuing a strengthened CSCE in recognition of the unique importance it has as Europe's all- inclusive security structure.
But we believe that Partnership for Peace is a permanent and central feature of the Atlantic security system, and we're also pursuing it for those states who have chosen to sign a partnership agreement with NATO and to work with the Alliance.
Q Wasn't this a little schizophrenic? I mean, on the one hand you say Partnership for Peace is your sort of way of drawing the Visegrad countries and other countries into the NATO, sort of security umbrella, and yet now you are going ahead and you are going to sort of strengthen CSCE and its security role. I mean, why do both? Why the dual effort?
MR. JOHNSON: Because each one has unique applications, and is able to accomplish unique goals. Partnership for Peace is the way for some states who wish to eventually join NATO to begin to learn its habits and practices and work with NATO forces a while. As I said, CSCE has the unique situation of being the only institution which encompasses the entire European continent, both those who have chosen to join as partners and those who have declined.
Q So it's a way to appease Russia?
MR. JOHNSON: I wouldn't adopt that remark.
Q Well, how do you propose to strengthen CSCE, practically speaking? What are the steps?
MR. JOHNSON: I know that a number of considerations or possible proposals are under consideration in advance of the Budapest summit, but I don't have a detail for you here.
Q Is the President going to that summit?
MR. JOHNSON: I would encourage you to ask the White House questions about the President's schedule.
Q Since we're on the subject of Russia, is it true, as numerous Eastern European diplomats in Washington have said in recent days, that this idea for the CSCE actually came from Moscow?
MR. JOHNSON: The idea for strengthening CSCE?
Q As a foil to people who want to join NATO?
MR. JOHNSON: I would not say that at all. There have been ideas about how to strengthen CSCE; what to do to strengthen CSCE; the various options for doing it, that have been working their way through this building for many years. So I think it would probably be inaccurate to say that they sprang from one particular spot or another.
Q But we have discussed this with Russia?
MR. JOHNSON: I wouldn't exclude it, but I don't know that we have.
Q David, I have a question on the Middle East, and since everything is happening there now, you might have the opportunity to punt on this one, but I think it is an important question.
The Israelis and the Arab countries in the discussions in Cairo, prior to the upcoming Casablanca Conference, put forward a proposal for the establishment of a regional development bank which would be under the control of the countries in the region for financing the kind of development projects connected to the peace process.
As I understand it, the United States has been opposed to such a bank, wanting instead to have it under the control of the World Bank.
Why is there opposition to this type of an idea, and is there still opposition to the idea after the last, latest developments in the Middle East?
MR. JOHNSON: You were quite correct in your first clause. With hundreds of your colleagues and most of the government senior officials in that region, I'm not going to respond to a question like that.
Q Has there been opposition -- put it this way -- has there been opposition to a regional development bank on the part of the United States?
MR. JOHNSON: I repeat my first answer. I'm not going to get into that region of the world with so many opportunities to fall down.
Q Can we try one that has not been answered by the horde of spin meisters over there? (Laughter.)
MR. JOHNSON: You can try anything you like, Sid.
Q Did President Clinton raise the issue of the captured Israeli service man believed held in South Lebanon. Ron Arad?
MR. HOUSTON: Nice try. I'm just -- I don't have any information on what the President has been working there, so I'm not going to delve into those subjects.
Q I'd like to make a brief on-the-record request. We have had no follow-up as of yet by the Defense Department on the Perry trip, and I was wondering if Winston Lord could be called upon to tell us about human rights negotiations with the PRC?
MR. JOHNSON: I will look into it, but I know from previous meetings this morning that Mr. Lord has laryngitis, so it won't be any time soon.
Q Thank you.
MR. JOHNSON: Thank you.
(The briefing concluded at 1:43 p.m.)
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