Return to: Index of 1994 Daily Briefings || Electronic Research Collections Index || ERC Homepage

.
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE 
OFFICE OF THE SPOKESMAN 
DAILY PRESS BRIEFING 
OCTOBER 31, 1994 
 
 
 
                      U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE 
                        DAILY PRESS BRIEFING 
 
                             I N D E X 
 
                       Monday, October 31, 1994 
 
 
                               Briefers:  George Moose 
                                          Christine Shelly 
 
 
AFRICA 
   Opening Remarks by Asst. Secretary Moose ........1-4 
   Civil Order in Liberia ..........................5 
   Angola Peace Keeping ...........................5-6 
   Zaire/Government Stability ......................6 
   US Aircraft Transfers to South Africa ...........7 
   Rwanda/Refugees..................................7-8 
 
BOSNIA 
   Military Action by Bosnian Muslims ..............9-12 
   UN Resolution to Lift Arms Embargo ..............12-13 
 
NORTH KOREA 
   Implementing Agreement with US ..................13-14 
 
HAITI 
   Boatpeople in Safehavens/Repatriation ...........14-15 
   Civil Order .....................................15-17 
 
INDIA 
   Reported Kidnapping of American .................17 
 
CHINA 
   ACDA Delegation's Visit re: Arms Control Talks ..17-18 
 
GREECE/TURKEY 
   Territorial Waters Dispute ......................19 
 
 

DEPARTMENT OF STATE DAILY PRESS BRIEFING

DPC #155

MONDAY, OCTOBER 31, 1994, 1:56 P.M. (ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED)

MISS SHELLY: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. Welcome to the State Department's Daily Briefing. Today, we are pleased to have Assistant Secretary George Moose with us to talk about the Deputy Secretary's recently concluded trip to Africa. In his remarks, Assistant Secretary Moose will also address the election in Mozambique after which he'll be happy to take your questions.

Following this, I will be happy to take your questions on non-African subjects. So without any further ado, let me pass the floor and microphone to Assistant Secretary Moose.

ASSISTANT SECRETARY MOOSE: Good afternoon. I think as most of you know, Deputy Secretary Talbott returned to Washington last Thursday following a roughly week-long visit to Africa. I accompanied him on that trip as did Assistant Secretary for International Organization Affairs Doug Bennet, and AID's Assistant Administrator for Africa, John Hicks

The purpose of the visit was twofold. The first being to reiterate our support for democratic transitions, of which there are many taking place on the African continent; and the second was to examine with African leaders and organizations what the U.S. and others could do to support African efforts to address conflict resolution, conflict prevention and peacekeeping.

The principal stops on the trip were chosen with those two principal things in mind. We stopped very briefly in Burundi as part of our continuing effort to encourage the parties there to sustain Burundi's very fragile transition to democracy and thereby avert the eruption of broader violence.

We had a very substantive stop in Zimbabwe, speaking with the Zimbabwean leadership about the growing regional context for conflict resolution and conflict prevention, as most recently evidenced by the frontline states enlarged grouping with respect to Lesotho and with respect to Mozambique. We can come back to Mozambique in just a minute.

And, moreover, in the course of that stop, we talked about the very explicit linkage which the member states of SADCC draw between their regional peacekeeping initiatives and the defense and protection of democracy throughout that sub-region.

Appropriately, I think as well, we stopped in Malawi, a country that has just come through its first multiparty elections and which, at the same time, is indicating its willingness to assume a role in regional and sub-regional peacekeeping, most notably by its participation in the UNAMIR peacekeeping operation in Rwanda.

We made a very brief stop in Kinshasa and met at the airport with Zairean Prime Minister Kengo. That was the continuation of conversations which we had with Prime Minister Kengo when he was here a few weeks ago in New York where he met with the Deputy Secretary and here in Washington where he met with others.

The purpose of that visit, that stop, being, again, to encourage the efforts being undertaken by the Zairean Government to end the political impasse that has paralyzed that country for the last three years and to show our support for the plans that have been outlined by the Prime Minister which aim at reform both in the economic and political sphere, with a view to ending Zaire's two to three-year slide into a very difficult situation.

We went on from Zaire to Ghana. We had meetings, again, with very senior Ghanian officials. President Rawlings is now, since September, the Chairman of ECOWAS -- the West African community -- and in that capacity is leading the effort to restore an agreement with respect to the solution of the problem in Liberia, and has been a leading force not only for sub-regional peacekeeping initiatives and conflict resolution but Ghana has been a major participant in international peacekeeping around the world.

The purpose there, again, was to solicit African views about what the United States and other partners might do to strengthen the capacity of African institutions and organizations in dealing with conflict resolution and peacekeeping.

And, finally, in Abidjan, where the theme was very similar, to touch on the kind of cooperation which is already taking place within the sub-region, and the additional kinds of collaboration that might take place in the future not only with respect to Liberia, although that remains the issue of greatest immediacy, but to talk broadly about the kind of cooperation that is taking place and is possible in the future in dealing with the regional and sub-regional conflicts.

I guess some general conclusions from our visit. The first is a very obvious one. Indeed, it was part of the underlying decision to go, and that is that there is a strong commitment on the part of African states to assume greater responsibility for conflict prevention and conflict management on the continent. That was evident in every stop that we made. Most of the countries that we visited are already active participants in various forms of regional peace-making and peacekeeping.

The conversations which we had reaffirmed their desire to play a greater role in these areas.

Secondly, we discovered in all of our stops strong support for the efforts to enhance the capacity of the premier regional organization -- the Organization of African Unity -- in developing its capabilities to play a greater role in peace- making and peacekeeping.

At the same time, recognition that that effort to strengthen the regional organization needs to be complimented by a greater willingness of sub-regional institutions and organizations to become involved, to wit, ECOWAS in west Africa, SADCC in southern Africa.

There was, in addition, as you might imagine, a clear African consensus that in order to be successful, African states require a greater understanding and support of their international partners in helping them to develop their institutions and strengthen the capacity of their organizations.

I prefer to say that in all of these visits we obviously encountered problems and obstacles that exists to the current effort to develop these capacities. I think that's understandable. But in certain respects, what is happening in Africa parallels in certain ways, maybe a bit in advance, of things that we see are taking place in other parts of the world, whether it is in Latin America or in Asia. There are discussions underway there about a security dimension to Asian cooperation, or in Europe with CSCE and other institutions which are evolving in their roles.

So what we see, I think in the African context, is very much a part of a larger evolution of assumption by regions of greater responsibility for dealing with the problems in their respective areas.

That evolution, though, is not contrary, or not in contradiction to, I think, an assumption that all of this must be done within a broader international context, i.e., within the terms and provisions of the U.N. Charter, as a necessary way of insuring that actions taken by regional or sub-regional organizations are in conformity with established international practice and principle and that it doesn't lead inadvertently to eroding the basis of international cooperation.

There are a number of following actions we will be taking. Many of those involve further consultations with our friends and allies. You will recall that Foreign Secretary Hurd, in his speech to the U.N. General Assembly, also set out some notions for how we and others might work more cooperatively with African organizations to strengthen their capacities in these areas.

There will be, I think, more extensive consultations with other partners as well, including the European Union, which is looking at this issue very actively. I will be in Europe -- in Brussels -- the first of December, and we expect that this whole issue of African regional initiatives and peacekeeping and peace-making will be on that agenda and what our support could be.

And finally, and not least, is discussions with U.N. officials and others about how the evolving collaboration between the United Nations and these regional organizations might proceed over the next several months.

Turning very briefly to Mozambique, let me just simply say that we are, indeed, very pleased and encouraged by the results of the voting that ended on Saturday -- on the 29th. We were also admiring of the initiatives that were taken by regional leaders -- SADCC -- and in particular the meeting that took place on the 25th of October in Harare with a view to encouraging that process.

The initial indications are that the turnout has been between 80 and 90 percent. I think that's remarkable considering the difficulties that people faced in going to the polls. I think it's also a very clear indication of the strong desire on the part of the Mozambicans to put the past -- the most recent 10 to 15 years of Mozambican history -- behind them.

The results, of course, will not be known probably before another week to two weeks. The counting is now taking place. It is, of course, to the U.N. Special Representative and his team also to certify the results of those elections. Certainly, the initial indications are that the elections were held in a very commendable fashion, and again we were encouraged that this is part of the basis for peace and a return to prosperity in Mozambique, with implications for it throughout the region.

I think I'll end my initial opening comments there and then throw the floor open to your questions.

Q Ambassador Moose, you didn't stop in Nigeria, and given the fact that Nigeria is going to be reducing the number of troops that they have in Liberia -- in fact there are very serious consequences for what's happening there -- what is the Administration planning to do with regard to Liberia, vis-a-vis the Nigerian troops? Are we talking about any more subsidies to help keep ECOMOG in operation?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY MOOSE: One of the whole purposes of this was to talk generally about ECOMOG and what the United States could do to help sustain this effort which we believe has made a major contribution to keeping violence -- reducing violence and mayhem in Liberia and is the key to the efforts to achieve a political settlement.

Our views on this, really, are going to be guided by the discussions we have been having, will continue to have, with first and foremost the Chairman of ECOWAS, President Rawlings, and others. We have made it clear we have made an effort over the last year to help underwrite, help support the ECOMOG/ECOWAS initiative.

There are some factors that are changing in the Liberian situation. There has been some serious deterioration in terms of both security and in terms of the adherence of the parties, the factions, to the agreement.

We would hope that President Rawlings' initiative will help to reverse that slide. If it does, then we will have to look at, as will others, I think, the question of what will be required to continue to sustain that effort over the next several months or so.

Q The decision by the Nigerians to cut the number of troops that they have in Liberia, do we see that as a serious problem?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY MOOSE: It is a decision that, as we understand it as of now, is a decision to reduce the presence but not to eliminate that presence totally. I think frankly in the current circumstances, it is understandable that a certain reduction might be taking place at a time when the security environment is very difficult.

Q Okay, just on one other issue. In Angola, it looks like we may have the initialing of an agreement for peace there. Both sides -- both the MPLA and UNITA have called for the United States to take a much larger role as far as peacekeeping is concerned.

Is sending U.S. troops to Angola as part of the U.N. force something that the Administration is considering?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY MOOSE: Sending U.S. troops to Angola is not an option that is currently under consideration. We have played, I think, a very active role in the whole mediation effort -- the assignment of Paul Hare as our Special Envoy to the talks. Key to that, his continuing involvement, and there are a variety of other ways in which we are prepared to be helpful, but the consideration of U.S. troops is not among the options currently being considered.

Q On Zaire, is it your view now that the crisis can be solved so long as President Mobutu remains in office?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY MOOSE: The political agreement that was reached among the political actors in Zaire calls for in essence a tripartite arrangement -- a parliament, high council, which is in place and functioning; a prime minister who has now designated his new cabinet, his new government, which is to operate in the manner that -- that is where the responsibility for administration of the country's affairs is to reside; and then the President, who has certain responsibilities, too, within the context of this new agreement.

Our view is that if all of the players respect their respective obligations and responsibilities under that agreement, it is indeed possible to resolve the impasse that Zaire has known over the last two years. That is what we have said to all the players. We hope and expect that they will indeed observe the terms of that agreement; and, to the extent that that is happening, we will be prepared to look at ways to be more supportive of the implementation of that agreement.

Q The basic problem appears to have been for the past two or three years that Mobutu does not respect the agreement. Every time some progress is made, he appears to undercut the prime minister of the week and take power again. What gives you hope that that could change?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY MOOSE: Only that I think there is a recognition -- and I will not disagree with your basic premise here -- with the problem that we have encountered over the last couple of years. There's indeed a reluctance on the part of some of the actors, including President Mobutu, to fully respect their obligations.

I do think that there is a recognition that the situation in Zaire simply can't continue as it has over the last two years; that all of the various players stand to lose substantially if this latest agreement is not put into place, and we hope that that's sufficient along with the encouragement and advice of other friends to sustain the implementation of the current agreement.

Q On South Africa, what has happened to President Mandela's request to purchase C-130s and P-3s?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY MOOSE: You have asked a question which I don't know the current answer to. There has been some discussion of providing that equipment. My understanding is that there still is discussion between our military and South Africa about what in fact is available and reaching an agreement that in fact the South Africans feel they could use what it is that might be made available to them.

Q And is that package designed to let South Africa take a larger role in reaching peacekeeping?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY MOOSE: It certainly would be consistent with our desire, our hope, our expectation, that over time South Africa will play a role. And in that regard let me simply say South Africans have made it clear that they are prepared to play a role, but they do intend to do that in a regional context.

It comes back to the discussion that has been taking place within SADCC about how the regional organization itself will be, if you will, sort of the determiner of what kind of responsibilities, what kind of role the member states will assume.

Q So that's still under consideration and in fact there's nothing to keep it from going forward as you know it?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY MOOSE: I had just gotten off the plane and this was not one of the issues that I've dealt with in the last two weeks, but as far as I'm aware, there is no obstacle to that going forward.

Q Could you update us on -- and I realize you weren't there -- but what's the current status in Algeria?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY MOOSE: I am going to decline to answer, because that is outside -- fortunately outside my purview of events. That, as you know, is part of our Near Eastern and Middle Eastern --

Q That is (inaudible). Then how about Rwanda? What is the current status, the refugee status there?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY MOOSE: The refugee situation remains pretty much as it has been for the last several months. There are still some two million refugees outside of Rwanda. Most of them are in Zaire, eastern Zaire, but there are, in addition, about 500,000 who are in western Tanzania and about 200,000 who are in Burundi.

Our Bureau of Refugee Programs, which is no longer Refugee Programs, has just announced, I think, today an additional grant to the UNHCR and World Food Program to continue our support for the refugee program.

In the meantime, however, we are continuing to work with the U.N. and others on the whole question of dealing first and foremost with a scheme for ensuring conditions that will permit the return of refugees as well as for dealing with the problems of insecurity in the refugee camps which continues to be a major problem.

Q What are the rebels saying about repatriation back into Rwanda?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY MOOSE: I think they've been very consistent on this point. What they are saying to us is they would like to see those conditions created sooner rather than later to permit the return of the maximum possible number of refugees. They have continued to collaborate, as far as we are aware, fully with UNHCR, with the UNAMIR command, to ensure the deployment of UNAMIR as well as deployment of the monitors which we believe are two of the key elements to encouraging that return. But there are obviously a lot of problems which remain to be resolved.

MS. SHELLY: One last question.

Q There was a very long story in The New York Times today -- I'm sure you saw it or were briefed on it -- about the fact that Hutu troops were holding aid hostage in the refugee camps; that they were still in control; that they were using their old harassment tactics. Is there any truth to that? Do you see that problem?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY MOOSE: There's certainly great evidence of insecurity in the refugee camps. I think there are a variety of sources for that insecurity. Some of it indeed is private militias that were formed inside Rwanda which are now present and active in the camps. There is general insecurity in the absence of any real policing taking place in the camps.

As you may know, the U.N. recently sent a mission to look into the situation in the camps. That mission has now returned. We expect that in the course of this week, we will be invited, along with others, to consult with the U.N. about what the next steps are -- how one deals with that very difficult problem.

MS. SHELLY: One last question in the back.

Q Ambassador Moose, do you have any problem with France's effort to maintain its political and economic influence in trying to (inaudible) Africa? Are there any areas of friction?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY MOOSE: We consult regularly and rather fulsomely with the French and others on Africa. What I believe is that there is a recognition that given the problems confronted by Africa, there is a need for all of us to be more actively consulting and cooperating wherever possible in responding to those problems.

I think that's the general approach that I have sensed from the French in our conversations. That doesn't mean that we are in full agreement on each and every issue that comes down the pike, but I certainly cannot fault the willingness of my counterparts in France to engage us in a discussion about how best we can address those problems.

MS. SHELLY: Thank you very much.

(Asst. Secretary Moose concluded his briefing at 1:20 p.m., after which Ms. Shelly commenced her daily briefing.)

MS. SHELLY: Other questions, other subjects.

Q Christine, on Bosnia, are you -- is the United States Government trying to do anything to make the Bosnian Muslims adhere to the cease-fire in the various exclusionary zones?

MS. SHELLY: We, of course, would like to see the exclusion zones respected; but, on the other hand, it's also, I think, an indication of their frustration on the part of the Bosnian Government that the Bosnian Serbs have not accepted the Contact Group's plan and map. Certainly, it's an indication that in the absence of this, they have chosen to express their frustration by proceeding with some military objectives of their own.

So we certainly recognize that that's going on. I can give you a kind of detailed update, if you want, on the fighting situation. But we would, of course, like to see first and foremost the acceptance of the Contact Group plan and the map by the Bosnian Serbs as a basis for going forward.

As a general policy statement we'd like to see the parties to the Bosnian conflict settle their differences peacefully. We believe that the negotiated settlement is certainly by far the one which holds the most potential for long-term stability in the region.

Q Could it not be that the advances by the Muslim forces, for the first time really, could be an incentive for the Bosnian Serbs to finally accept the map and the plan?

MS. SHELLY: It certainly could possibly work in that direction. I think the Bosnian Federation certainly has been the principal victim of the Serb aggression. They are exercising their right to defend themselves by force of arms. That is certainly a factor there, and if the results that they have scored in this last week or so have the effect of bringing some additional pressure on the Bosnian Serbs to sit down and start talking peace, certainly that would be movement in the right direction.

Barrie.

Q Christine, from what you have just said, you were clearly expressing a degree of sympathy or understanding for the actions that are being taken by the Bosnian Muslims. At the same time, it would seem that the United Nations forces -- General Rose and others -- appear to be much less understanding, and they over the weekend were making threats again to use NATO airpower against the Bosnian Muslims.

How would the United States, given the rather wimpy attitude that these people have had toward the Bosnian Serbs, how would the United States feel about UNPROFOR and NATO striking Bosnian Muslims at this time?

MS. SHELLY: Certainly, the U.S. fully supports the very difficult and certainly very dangerous mission which is being undertaken by UNPROFOR in Bosnia, and certainly the agreement between NATO and the U.N. to try to enforce the resolutions.

However, again we're back to the point where the overwhelming majority of aggression has been undertaken by the Bosnian Serbs. It is certainly a very frustrating situation for the Bosnian Muslims. Whereas I think the resolutions themselves are phrased in a way that makes attacks on UNPROFOR by any party or retaliation for that theoretically possible, nonetheless that puts us into a hypothetical situation.

UNPROFOR has not asked for any kind of action. I'm certainly aware of the fact that there have been some threats out there, but UNPROFOR hasn't asked for action; and, as we have often said before, it's I think hard to imagine the U.S. participating in that kind of an action against Bosnian Government forces when they clearly have been the overwhelming victim in the aggression by the Bosnian Serb forces.

Q Just pin that down -- in other words, if UNPROFOR should, as they implied they might, call in for close air support on the Bosnian Muslims, the United States would not agree to participate in such an action?

MS. SHELLY: What I'm saying is that at this point it's a hypothetical situation, so therefore I'm not going to respond to the second question.

Q It's very hard to imagine that we would do it?

MS. SHELLY: Yes. I did say it was hard to imagine.

Q Have we conveyed that directly to UNPROFOR, that it would be hard to imagine?

MS. SHELLY: We have discussions with UNPROFOR all the time, but I'm not going to get into a detailed characterization of those exchanges.

Mark.

Q Christine, is there any kind of military assessment that you can share with us as to whether the gains that the Bosnian Government made last week amount to a major turning point in the war?

MS. SHELLY: I don't have that kind of assessment with me, and I don't know whether, if we made that kind of assessment, we would want to get in there and talk about it publicly anyway. So I'd hate to hold out a promise that we would offer something on that unless we were likely to deliver.

I'll look and see if for later in the week we want to work up something on that -- I'll check and see. But I'm not at all optimistic that that's something that we're prepared to get into quite yet.

Q Christine, to follow on this topic, how can we be credible brokers of peace while we wink at the offensive of the Bosnian Government? Shouldn't we simply ask both sides to stand down and enforce that?

MS. SHELLY: We certainly regret that the fighting which has been going on recently has become a necessity, and undoubtedly there will be casualties as a consequence of the increased fighting in an area which has clearly already seen more than its share of conflict and suffering.

But again, I'd have to go back to the point I've already made which is the Bosnian Federation has been the principal victim of Serbian aggression, and it has understandably decided to exercise its right to defend itself by force of arms, and we do have, as I said, a certain understanding for the position that they're in.

We would like to see the Bosnian Serbs decide that fighting is not the way to go; that it's time to sit down and talk seriously with the Contact Group with a view to accepting the plan and also the map.

Sid.

Q So if the Bosnian Serbs counterattack, on Sarajevo for instance, in response to this offensive, are they exercising legitimate rights to defend themselves, or are they then violating the ground rules and would be open to airstrikes and so forth, unlike the Bosnian Muslims?

MS. SHELLY: The theoretical question is perhaps slightly too complicated for me. They are shelling Sarajevo, as you know. That is in clear violation of Sarajevo as an exclusion zone, and the consequence of that is that UNPROFOR can decide to call in action against those who violate the exclusion zones.

But again I don't want to do the "if and then." You know what the U.N. resolutions state, and you know what the theoretical possibilities are.

Q What is the status of the resolution in New York?

MS. SHELLY: I don't have a lot of additional details on that for you. As you know, a text of a resolution was tabled up in New York on Friday. We're going to be having discussions up in New York this week, continuing with the members of the Security Council.

As I think you probably also know, the United States assumes the Presidency of the Security Council beginning tomorrow, so Ambassador Albright will move into the Presidency seat in her capacity as the U.S. Ambassador.

Usually each new Presidency begins the month with a round of consultations with various groups that are not aligned, Islamic Conference -- and I expect that she will be following that pattern up in New York and will be holding consultations on the range of issues facing the Security Council this month, including the resolution which we tabled last Friday.

So I expect that as the discussion continues this week, we'll probably have some more to say, but we don't expect a lot for the next day or two or three as the consultations unfold.

Q When would you like to have a vote, during this month?

MS. SHELLY: We're certainly expecting that that would happen. I think it's more a question of looking for something in, probably more or less the first half of the month but probably more toward the latter part of that time frame. But no date has been fixed so far for an actual vote.

Q Can I switch subjects?

MS. SHELLY: Sure.

Q Last Friday the Government of Mexico filed two diplomatic notes to the State Department, expressing its concern about what they call an anti-Mexican climate created in the U.S. border by the operations gatekeeper and safeguards and also by Proposition 187? I would like to know if there has been any response to that or shall we expect one in the next couple of days?

MS. SHELLY: I don't have any information on that. Let me take the question and see if we can either put something up this afternoon or, if not, we'll try to come back to it later in the week. I don't have any instructions on that for today.

Q What's the status of the North Korean agreement?

MS. SHELLY: No change.

Q Nothing on the ground? We haven't seen Pyongyang moving toward implement what it has promised to do -- board up the reactor, do this, do that?

MS. SHELLY: I'm not aware that there are any specific Korea nuclear issue developments over the last three or four days. I'll be happy to check and see if we see anything on that or to see if we can prepare for tomorrow or Wednesday, the kind of 'what happens next' on this.

Q (inaudible) the United States and North Korea were supposed to have meetings on the fuel rods, was one issue. Have any of those been set up?

MS. SHELLY: Not that I'm aware of, but let me also check on that.

Q What's the State Department's reaction on the talks now initiated between North and South Korea?

MS. SHELLY: I don't have any information on that one either, so I'm going to have to check on that.

Q Do we still think the agreement is holding together?

MS. SHELLY: Yes, as far as I know.

Q Then how do you explain the North Korean refusal to even sit down and discuss implementing this?

MS. SHELLY: I don't think that there is a refusal to sit down and discuss implementing. That is not consistent with my understanding.

Q (Inaudible)

MS. SHELLY: I don't know, Sid. As I said, I'm not aware that there has been -- I inquired this morning if there had been any new developments on this and was told that since last Thursday or Friday there had not been, but I will check on where we are in terms of scheduling the next meetings on this.

Q Wasn't Gallucci -- I mean, in spite of his assertions that the questions were silly, he asserted last week that it was critical that they sit down and discuss the fuel rods, but he said he made nothing of it, and here it is a week later and you still haven't sat down. I mean, you all keep saying there's no problems, but you're not making any headway.

MS. SHELLY: Okay. As I said, I'm going to check and see where we are on scheduling meetings on the way ahead.

Q Haiti?

MS. SHELLY: Sure.

Q Do you have any response to -- some of the Haitian refugee groups have been complaining that Haitians at Guantanamo have come under pressure from U.S. forces there to go back, and I think that there may even be a suit being filed to this effect, saying that the conditions in Haiti are not yet secure enough to warrant people going back without fear, and that there shouldn't be any pressure on them in Guantanamo to go back. Are you familiar with these charges and have any response to them?

MS. SHELLY: I don't know if there are formal charges to that effect. I'm not aware of any suit having been filed. I know that the Pentagon in their briefing last Thursday addressed the issue of the repatriations, and I'm not sure -- since they are more directly involved in this than we are here -- I'm not sure that I would have anything to add to that.

When the Cuban suit was filed in Miami court, it did have certainly, I think, an effect on the Haitian communities at Guantanamo who were obviously interested to see how that was going to play itself out, because certainly whereas many of the Haitians who were fleeing Haiti at the time that they did were leaving a regime where there was very clear repression, many of them were, of course, also attracted by the notion of getting to the United States.

So I think there has been some impact on the numbers of people coming forward under the Voluntary Repatriation Program. But I think that -- I'm sorry?

Q (Inaudible)

MS. SHELLY: Yes. The Pentagon also said that last Thursday, that the number of volunteers who had been coming up each day in response to their queries had declined since the lawsuit was -- or since the injunction, the restraining order, went into effect.

First of all, I should state very clearly that the Cuban action has no effect or no applicability to the Haitian situation on Guantanamo, and even after it did go into effect, we continue to have volunteers and did continue to affect the repatriations.

But I think there was some confusion and certainly, also, some interest in whether or not this might provide a kind of vehicle for gaining entry to the United States. But, nonetheless, in the conduct of their activities, I think that those involved in working with the Haitian refugee communities have been very, very careful not to put pressure on those communities to go back. I think there has been, certainly, a very, very strong groundswell of interest in returning.

The numbers of Haitians at Guantanamo certainly are way, way down. I think probably less than a quarter at this point of the total number who were picked up.

So where that actually stands and the kind of temporary effect of the Cuban injunction, I think it's out there but I don't think that it really will have a significant effect on the Haitian population and repatriation.

Q But is it your judgment that the conditions do warrant the safe return at this point in Haiti?

MS. SHELLY: I think that we have continued to acknowledge that there still are incidents of violence in Haiti. But I think that if you look at the picture now -- even factoring-in the individual incidents that do occur, and often there is bloodshed -- I think there is no question that there is an overwhelming improvement in the security situation on the ground. I think the vast numbers of Haitians at Guantanamo who have opted to return to Haiti, even knowing that there had been some incidents, is certainly an indication that the environment is completely changed from that which it was before and the kind of repression that they knew under the de facto regime is certainly very rapidly becoming a thing of the past.

Q Christine, again, in the New York Times today there's a story that sort of rebuts exactly what you're saying. In many of the outlying areas, the regional "attache" is still as repressive and as powerful as they ever were.

I guess the question is, the secure situation in Haiti and Cap Haitien and so forth may be getting better, but what about in the outlying areas? Does the Administration plan to send its troops into these small villages to impose justice on these people as they have in some of the larger places?

MS. SHELLY: Deployment to some of the outlying areas, of course, is something which is underway. The first deployment, of course, was very heavily concentrated in Port-au-Prince. Then there have been subsequent deployments to Cap Haitien. There have been a number of other places out in the countryside where there have been members of the multinational force or police monitors deployed. In those places where there have been deployments, I think there has been a very quick and visible improvement in the security environment.

The issue that you've raised touches on the so-called section chiefs who are a kind of holdover from the previous regime which certainly, for the last several years, was under a kind of control of a very repressive force.

Certainly, we support the efforts by the Government of President Aristide to be sure that those section chiefs, who remain in place, don't abuse that authority. But, ultimately, it's up to the Haitian Government to define what is an appropriate structure for local law enforcement.

We, of course, are working very, very closely with the Haitian Government to try to ensure that the Haitian law enforcement officers are trained properly in a way that they can perform their duties in accordance with the highest standards.

It's also, as you know, the presence of an extremely large number of international monitors; there are trainers who are there; there are monitors who are there. There will be as much oversight as possible to make sure that as events and incidents unfold, that the policing or the authority can be exercised in a way which contributes overall to our goal, which is that of the establishment of a safe and secure environment in Haiti.

Certainly, there will continue to be incidents of this kind. But I think that in the areas where there had been deployment so far, and as of news of deployments is coming, there is a very identifiable improvement in some of the application of force and repression of this type.

Q Do you have any update, Christine, on the Western hostage situation in India?

MS. SHELLY: I have a little bit of information on that. I don't have a lot. It's something that we are obviously tracking very closely.

There was a report of a kidnapping of an American citizen in India. News organizations report being contacted by a little-known militant group, claiming that it had kidnapped one American and three British citizens in Delhi.

The group threatened to harm them unless the Indian Government released a group of detained militants.

Indian authorities subsequently informed our Embassy in New Delhi that an American citizen who claimed to have been kidnapped had been located and appeared to be unharmed. Our Embassy in Delhi plans to be in contact with this American very shortly.

I can't offer an identity for this person because, as you know, with private American citizens, we have to have a Privacy Waiver on this. We don't have one at this juncture.

We don't have much in the way of first-hand information on the case, including on any further kind of details on any of the other possible kidnapped victims, but we'll continue to follow developments closely and provide updates when we can.

Q By saying that he "claimed to be kidnapped," are you suggesting that you're not quite sure whether he was or not?

MS. SHELLY: We're aware of the reports of the four having been kidnapped. This is just simply the information that I have, and I don't have any other details on this. It's not a particular selection in wording that is designed to convey something other than the little bit that we know at this point on the facts.

Q (Inaudible) same question?

MS. SHELLY: I don't know. I don't have that information either, but I'll check.

Q What can you tell us about the arms control talks in China with Holum?

MS. SHELLY: I've got a little bit on that. As you know, early in October the Chinese Vice Premier and Foreign Minister Qian Qichen was here in Washington meeting with the Secretary of State. The two signed joint statements on Missile Non- Proliferation and to promote a ban on the production of fissile materials for nuclear weapons and other nuclear explosive devices.

The particular trip underway is the Director of U.S. Arms Control and Disarmament Agency, John Holum, and a delegation which is composed of other members from ACDA. They're visiting China from the 26th of October through the 31st. So their visit will be ending today.

I understand that his delegation did not include other U.S. Government agencies.

I don't have a lot of details on this. I can say that Director Holum discussed general arms control issues, including the possible resumption of bilateral arms control talks, which I think you know had been initiated actually in the 1980's between ACDA and relevant Chinese officials.

The U.S. and China have regularly engaged in broader consultations on arms control and non-proliferation issues since the beginning of this Administration.

That's about all I have at this point.

Q So he's not negotiating now? He's just trying to get these talks restarted?

MS. SHELLY: He's just there for some talks; right.

Q Christine, there was also mention this morning that there were talks about China abandoning their testing program - - their nuclear testing program. Did you see anything about that?

MS. SHELLY: I haven't seen those specific reports. But I think we've pronounced ourselves on that several times in the past, not the least of which was when they did their last nuclear test, which is that we would like to see them stop their testing and get on with the ending of the tests and signing the Test Ban Treaty as rapidly as possible.

Q Amen.

Q How about Hubbard's trip to Burma?

MS. SHELLY: I don't have guidance on that, so let me take that. I'm aware of the fact that he's there, but let me see what I can get in the way of details on that. Other subjects? Yes, Mark.

Q Do you have anything new on tension between Greece and Turkey? And can you tell us about American efforts to prevent that from getting worse?

MS. SHELLY: I don't have a lot to say. I looked into that a little bit earlier to see if there was much that we would want to share in the way of our concerns about what is, I think, an apparent escalation in tensions.

As a general matter, when we see indications of that, which obviously we do from time to time, we try to have quiet talks with both governments concerned, to counsel them to exercise restraint and to settle the problems or frictions which emerge through dialogue, and not through provocative acts.

I've been told from the party this morning that the Secretary had a bilateral with the Turkish Prime Minister on this, I think earlier today, and they discussed some of the recent rise in tensions on that. So I don't have a full readout on that except to know that there was a bilateral and that some of those issues were discussed.

It's something that we're aware of, and we're working through our channels with both governments. Here in Washington, we've had some exchanges in the capitals. And, as I said, Secretary Christopher also had a bilateral on the margins at the Casablanca summit. So we have conveyed our concerns in a number of locations.

Q (Inaudible) Christopher?

MS. SHELLY: The Secretary returns tomorrow.

Q Is he coming right back from Casablanca?

MS. SHELLY: Yes. I'm not aware of any other planned diversions in travel at this point. I think they get back sometime in the early afternoon tomorrow.

Q On Greece and Turkey, last week the Turks announced a general mobilization and a high alert because the Greeks were thinking of extending their territorial limits to 12 rather than current six miles. I asked you then if the United States takes any position on that. I haven't seen an answer?

MS. SHELLY: As I said, this has been one of the issues which has created tensions between the two. I'm just not aware of the fact that we have anything in particular that we want to say publicly on that.

Q Thank you.

(Press briefing concluded at 1:44 p.m.)

(###)

To the top of this page