U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE OFFICE OF THE SPOKESMAN DAILY PRESS BRIEFING NOVEMBER 3, 1994 U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE DAILY PRESS BRIEFING I N D E X Thursday, November 3, 1994 Briefers: Winston Lord Joan Spero Michael McCurry ASIA/VISIT BY PRESIDENT/SECRETARY Opening Remarks by Asst. Secretary Lord .........1-5 Opening Remarks by Under Secretary Spero ........6-9 International Trade/APEC/Japan/Others ...........9,14 Thailand Denies US Prepositioning of Military Equipment .....................................9-10 US Contacts with China/Security .................11-12 China/Hong Kong/Taiwan ..........................12 Regional Security/US Role .......................12-13 North Korean Nuclear Issues .....................15 Indonesia/Human Rights/Relations with US ........15-17 Vietnam's Cooperation with US ...................17
DEPARTMENT OF STATE DAILY PRESS BRIEFING
THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 3, 1994, 12:58 P.M. (ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED)
MR. McCURRY: Good afternoon everybody. By popular demand, given your urgent request yesterday for a briefing on the Secretary's upcoming trip, which is also part of the President's trip to APEC, I've got two special-guest briefers today -- two not one; two. I'm going to actually call upon them out of protocol order because I think it would be helpful to have Assistant Secretary Lord first talk about the Secretary's trip which includes two stops -- Korea and Thailand -- which are not part of the President's itinerary, but Under Secretary for Economic Affairs, Joan Spero, who has been working very closely with the President's economic team, can tell you a lot more about APEC and some of the dynamics we expect both out of the APEC Ministerial meeting that Secretary Christopher will attend and then the Leaders Meeting which President Clinton will attend.
I'll call upon first our Assistant Secretary for East Asian and Pacific Affairs, Winston Lord, who can give you some of the overall context of the trip.
ASSISTANT SECRETARY LORD: Thank you, Mike, and thank you, Mrs. Under Secretary for the graciousness of letting me go first.
Let me give you the overview of both the President's and the Secretary's schedule. Of course, on the President's trip, the White House will be giving you further and most of the details. It is an integrated operation here. Then some of the objectives and themes of this trip, and then I'll turn it over to Joan to give you a more in- depth treatment of the economic and APEC issues.
In brush strokes, the Secretary will be leaving Monday morning, November 7, heading out to Korea as the first stop. He gets in Tuesday night, the 8th. We'll stay there until Thursday morning, November 10. Then he goes to Indonesia as the Ministerial representative for the U.S. at APEC as well as having some bilaterals in Indonesia from November 10- 12. That evening of November 12, he'll join the President for the President's State visit to the Philippines. They'll be there until the 13th, Sunday. Then the President and the Secretary go to Indonesia for several days for the Leaders Meeting in Bogor, as well as the President's bilateral visit to Indonesia in Jakarta. There will be other meetings around the edges of the APEC sessions, through November 16.
Then, as the President heads homeward, the Secretary goes on his own to Thailand, getting in the evening of November 16; staying there about a day, and then coming back to the U.S. by November 18.
We feel that these trips come at a very auspicious time, frankly, in U.S. foreign policy. We believe there's considerable momentum, generally in foreign policy -- Haiti, Kuwait, the Middle East, generally; even a supporting role in northern Ireland, and the agreement on nuclear issues with North Korea -- which we believe strengthens the President's hand, generally, as he goes on this very important trip to East Asia and Pacific.
We happen to think, of course, that we've been pursuing a brilliant policy from the very beginning. But some of these issues require patient diplomacy over time. Many of these successes have come to a head at the same time. Of course, we've got remaining problems as well.
Secondly, in Asia, more specifically, in addition to the North Korean nuclear agreement, you have our recent trade agreement with Japan; a more positive although still challenging relationship with China; moving ahead with Vietnam on the MIA question and opening up liaison offices in the near future; and many other areas, including on the security side -- to complement the President's Pacific Community concept to APEC on the economic side -- the Bangkok initial meeting of the ASEAN Regional Forum, bringing all the top nations of Asia-Pacific together for the first time for a security dialogue.
So that's the general framework for this trip which, as we say, we think is quite auspicious. The President is going out to this dynamic region to continue working with our friends out there to build this Pacific Community. The Secretary will be playing, of course, a very important supportive role to him.
I would say that at the most general level the themes of these trips once again underline the importance of this region for the United States; above all, for the U.S. economy, exports, and jobs, given the fact that this is the most dynamic region in the world in those respects. But also in security and promoting freedom, the environment, and many other issues. Underlining this for the American audience, but also at the same time another theme -- once again underlining our commitment and engagement to the Asia-Pacific region in our self- interest. Throughout this is going to be an America's Desk theme, as the Secretary has mentioned, of promoting jobs and exports and investments in this dynamic region.
More specifically, as you know from past pronouncements by the President and others, there are three essential pillars in this Pacific Community: Promoting security; promoting economic prosperity; and promoting political freedom, democracy and human rights. Those will be constant themes on his trip.
The first stop of the Secretary is Korea, where non- proliferation and security, both bilateral and regional, will be highlighted. The Indonesian stop will have a heavy economic dose, of course, as well as attention to human rights and other issues, both the APEC meetings and our bilateral relationship with a very dynamic economy in Indonesia. A constant motif throughout this trip is the fact that he is promoting freedom as well, which we think is important for both security and prosperity.
I would note that Korea, the Philippines, and Thailand -- three stops for the Secretary -- in addition to being treaty allies are also democracies. So that theme will be very evident in those countries as well as promoting it elsewhere in Asia.
Let me give you just a little bit more detail on each of those stops, and then I'll turn it over to Joan. I think I cleverly left my outline. I can remember it.
With respect to Korea, we will reinforce what we believe are the virtues of the nuclear agreement with North Korea, not only to the leaders we meet with, but also to the body politic and the National Assembly there. We think it's an excellent agreement for reasons you've heard before, and I won't go into it now.
We think it serves South Korea's interest. This will underline the fact that we have closely consulted throughout this process, and we will work just as closely with Korea, as well as Japan and others, on the implementation of this agreement -- which will be, in many ways, as challenging as the negotiation.
We will also reaffirm our vigilance, our readiness, our force levels, the fact that there is still a major conventional threat there. This is the point that Secretary Perry made on a trip that I accompanied him with -- that's bad grammar, but you know what I'm saying -- ten days ago, two weeks ago. We're not reducing our force levels. This is a residual security problem that requires vigilance as well as implementing the nuclear agreement. Even as we would hope to reduce tensions on the peninsula and work in conjunction with the South, let's try to do that.
We're also underlining the importance of the South/North dialogue to determining the future of that peninsula.
We would expect the Secretary to make a major speech on these issues in Korea while he's there. Again, heavy emphasis on this stop on security. But, of course, this is also a country that has moved toward democracy and we have a very strong economic interest -- both ratification of the Uruguay Round as well as bilateral interest with Korea.
In the Philippines, the President will be underlining the commemoration of World War II in some moving ceremonies. There will be a whole series of these commemorative acts over the coming year, and there will be two themes. One, paying tribute to the veterans and to those who fell in battle, but also pointing how far this region has come in the last 50 years and how now we have a great opportunity in the future. The second thing will be the future prospects in the region, working with former enemies as friends and making sure their current friends don't become enemies as we move forward for greater peace and prosperity in the region.
Also in the Philippines, we will be highlighting the fact that under President Ramos' dynamic leadership, that that economy has really begun to take off. For many years, it was considered the weak partner in ASEAN. But now it is growing at four percent. It is attracting investment. We will highlight the investment opportunities there. We'll also underline the fact that you have a democracy. And, as a model for Asian countries, the fact is that political freedom and economic growth can, and should, and do go hand-in-hand.
Finally, it will signal a more mature relationship with the Philippines -- post-semi-colonial period, post-bases, replaced by an effective defense relationship but of a different nature, and one that's increasingly dependent on trade and investment, not on foreign aid.
On into Indonesia, where the Secretary will have been, and now with the President. Again, the details will be given by Joan Spero. I would just say that if last year at Seattle the President generated a great momentum at APEC by having the first Leaders Meeting for APEC -- there was a vision -- this year we would hope to see a goal. And then that goal of freeing up as much as we can, trade and investment, eliminating barriers to these over the coming years, we'll try to have a blueprint for that in the coming year after that. So this is an on-going process.
We also have important economic interests with Indonesia. It's a very dynamic and large economy. I would expect some contract signings there. I should point out that Ambassador Kantor and Secretary Ron Brown will also be on this trip. They'll have an important part and it will be an integral team working together, including on the economic side. So that will be a heavy emphasis.
We will also deal very frankly with our Indonesian hosts on the human rights question. We've been doing that for a couple of years. This is not something we've discovered. This is going to be a long-term prospect and issue.
We have many positive elements in our relations with Indonesia. So those should be kept in mind: economic security, diplomatic. But we also talk as friends, frankly, about some of the human rights concerns which we do have. That will certainly be on our agenda.
Finally, the last stop for the Secretary will be Thailand. Here, all the themes come together. It's a democracy. It's one of our most important security allies, and it's got a very dynamic economy. So I would expect sort of a summing-up there of the entire trip.
Last point: We would hope as a result of this trip to achieve the objectives I outlined at the beginning and, more specifically, if possible, to repeat the so-called triple play type international economic initiative and achievement that was achieved last fall -- with NAFTA, the APEC Leaders Meeting and the Uruguay Round -- this year with an APEC leaders' meeting that sets forth a bold political vision, followed by ratification of Uruguay Round legislation and a successful Summit of the Americas.
Without further ado, let me turn this over to Under Secretary Spero.
UNDER SECRETARY SPERO: Thank you. I'll try to give you a very brief overview of some of the key economic issues that will come up at the APEC Ministerial and leaders' meetings. I gave a speech a couple of weeks ago on this issue to a business audience and will make that speech available. It may be useful for you.
Let me summarize quickly. I'll start off by trying to put this set of meetings in context, and that is that they are a key part of our overall strategy of global engagement and of opening markets, spurring growth and promoting jobs at home. I think you need to understand the APEC efforts in that context.
As Winston talked a bit about the triple play, I would describe it to say, first of all, the overarching setting for all of this is the Uruguay Round, the implementation, the passage of the Uruguay Round agreement. We're committed to achieving that and having that in place by the beginning of December.
So our multilateral strategy then is the Uruguay Round. We also have a very active bilateral strategy throughout the world but most specifically in Asia to open markets, to create rules for fair trade and to promote U.S. exports. Many of you are familiar with our bilateral talks with Japan. We are heavily engaged in bilateral talks with China. I think with virtually every Asian country and every member of APEC, we are engaged on a day-to-day basis in a whole variety of market opening activities.
And then third, we also use our regional strategy -- a regional strategy including APEC, including the Summit of the Americas as two key examples coming up this fall.
With that overall context then -- multilateral, regional and bilateral approaches to opening markets -- let me just mention some of the key economic issues that will be on the agenda in Jakarta and in Bogor.
As you know, Indonesia is the chair of APEC this year. They've identified four key themes for the meetings, issues that they want to discuss and that have been agreed by the other APEC members. One is increasing the role of the private sector and increasing the role of small and medium- size enterprises within the APEC region.
Another one is addressing the region's tremendous infrastructure needs - the development of infrastructure. And then finally human resource development.
One of the major focuses, and the final one that I want to mention, that Indonesia has put squarely on the agenda is the efforts to promote increased trade and investment within APEC.
The theme of promoting trade and investment is going to be one of the key themes, both at the Ministerial meeting and at the leaders' meeting. And as I see it -- and I think the best way to describe it is to think of this promotion of trade and investment in two parts.
The first part is what I would call the "vision thing." The vision thing is how we can advance trade and investment in the region; whether we can make a political commitment to eliminate barriers to trade and investment in the region by a date certain.
So a political commitment, if and when it takes place, will take place at the leaders' meeting, the Bogor meeting, and that really is under the leadership of President Soeharto. He believes that it is possible to make a political commitment to removing trade and investment barriers in the region by a date certain.
The second piece of that overall trade and investment strategy is what I would call the practical side, and the practical side is the following: Two parts.
First of all, after this political commitment, which I think you should see as far-reaching but, as I say, more of a vision than something concrete. The first point is how can we work after Bogor on the road to Tokyo -- which is where the next meeting will take place -- to come up with a blueprint for what that really means. What does achieving freer trade in the region, removing these barriers -- what does that really mean and how can we develop a blueprint in the coming year to make that a reality. And that we expect also will come out of the leaders' meeting.
We anticipate -- we can't say for certain -- that there will be a call for freer trade in the region and a call upon the ministers to work in the coming years to come up with an actual blueprint for how to make that happen.
Secondly, on the practical side, I want to emphasize that there is a lot of very real, practical, nitty-gritty stuff going on in APEC all the time that is also about opening markets and removing barriers and promoting exports. And this is in addition to the bilateral efforts that the U.S. is doing. I'm talking about multilateral work within APEC.
I think too few people realize that there is a lot of work -- as I say, technical, nitty--gritty stuff -- not the stuff, unfortunately, of headlines and of sound bites -- that goes on in APEC all the time.
Let me just try to give you a couple of examples to make that real and then I'll stop talking. Last year APEC created a Committee on Trade and Investment. That committee has been examining a program for how to facilitate trade and investment throughout the region. Its goals are to simplify and harmonize customs procedures and standards to identify and begin to address administrative barriers to trade, to develop a set of non-binding investment principles, and to work to harmonize Uruguay Round implementation among the APEC member economies.
So this is not just removing barriers; it's saying how can we harmonize customs and standards. How can we remove administrative barriers. How can we work together so that as we implement the Uruguay Round, we do it on a common enough basis that it will facilitate trade amongst the APEC members.
In addition to this work in the Committee on Trade and Investment, APEC has a whole series of working groups. I often think of APEC as sort of the policy level, the committee level, and then the very nitty- gritty working level, working groups, in a whole variety of areas.
These working groups are interesting and in my view unique, because they include not only government officials but also private sector people. Our companies very often sit at the table working with government officials on these various committees.
Again, let me give you just a little taste of some of the things these committees have been doing. APEC has launched an EDI -- electronic date interchange pilot project -- that is intended to reduce air cargo clearances from days to hours or minutes. If you come from business, you understand that time is money and access to markets has a lot to do with clearing customs as it does with trade barriers.
Another example: In telecommunications -- a very active working area of APEC again with private sector participation -- APEC members have committed to work together to harmonize equipment approval processes. They've agreed to work on region-wide principles to make it easier to operate value- added telecommunications services. That means things like E- Mail or on-line data bases or computer processing networks throughout the region. That is expected to provide real, tangible benefits for our companies.
These are just a couple of examples of the kind of nitty-gritty work that's going on. So removal of barriers, facilitation, common standards and development.
I want to stress that all of this, in my view, is very much oriented towards business. It is the role of APEC in these economic issues to get government out of the way. Business is already creating APEC. It is already creating an Asia-Pacific region, and those working on the economic side of APEC see that it is their role to try to facilitate that process that is already taking place in the market place.
So if you do look at my speech, you will see there's a great emphasis to say that the business of APEC is business, and the business of APEC on the economic side is getting governments out of the way and letting business do their thing in the region. I will stop there.
Q Under Secretary or Mr. Lord -- either one -- do you think that the freer trade and investment trend in APEC is driving a stake through the heart of the Asian Free Trade Area? And, if so, was that one of the intentions of the United States in raising the profile of APEC?
UNDER SECRETARY SPERO: Absolutely not. The AFTA, really, is among the ASEAN countries. It's not among all the Asian countries. So it's the ASEAN Free Trade Area, and it is very, very compatible with the kinds of things that are going in APEC, and very compatible again. I can't stress enough this overarching importance of the Uruguay Round.
You can have regional agreements and regional liberalization be most effective if it takes place in the context of an overall multilateral system. So AFTA is a gradual process that is actually picking up some momentum. We find in a lot of these things that sometimes you set a target of a certain date and in fact you achieve it long before you ever expect.
I don't remember the exact dates, but the AFTA members have just speeded up the date for which they plan to complete their liberalization, and they see it as very much compatible with whatever comes into play within APEC.
Remember, what is going to come into play in APEC still has to be decided.
Q Ambassador Lord, I understand that the United States is attempting to find a spot in Asia to pre-place military equipment. The Thais said last week that they would not permit that. Could you talk a little bit about that and how it will play in these security discussions here?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY LORD: Okay, first, I want to be clear that APEC itself, of course, only discussed economic issues. But we'll have various bilateral meetings in Indonesia, as well as these trips to various countries where we'll be getting into other issues.
It is correct, we were informed by the Thais a few days ago that they didn't wish to accept this pre-positioning.
I should stress that we have a very good security relationship with Thailand, exercises, etc., but they chose not to go for this particular arrangement. We have other options. We are looking at those now. We have other countries that we think might be receptive to this, but I don't want to prejudge what the Pentagon may decide is the next best place or an equally good place.
I want to stress what this is involving is civilian ships off shore with prepositioned equipment that would help not only in regional contingencies but also in the Middle East and around the world, and it would also help in areas like disaster relief of an absolutely peaceful nature.
We saw in the recent Kuwait deployments the advantages of prepositioning, where we got significant numbers of forces and equipment in there within a matter of days rather than weeks during the Bush Administration. So prepositioning serves the cause of peacekeeping. We are disappointed, but we have a terrific security relationship with Thailand generally, and we just didn't have a meeting of minds in this particular one.
Q With regard to the Middle East, we know you have Iraq as a threat, but what is the threat that causes you to want to preposition in Asia?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY LORD: Well, number one, I said it also serves contingencies like natural disaster relief as well as security problems.
Number two, the best way to deter threats or not to have them is to be ready for them and hope you don't have to use this kind of equipment.
Thirdly, it serves other regions besides Asia.
But your premise is a good one -- namely, that the Asia- Pacific region now, although it has obvious security problems -- the most significant one being the Korean nuclear one, which we just think we made a major advance on -- on the whole, has a more stable relationship among powers than we've seen in most of this century. We think it's a very good time to launch these security dialogues, take advantage of this atmosphere. And these dialogues, unlike the former alliances and dialogues in Europe, for example, are not against the common enemy. They're not with stripped border lines down the middle. This is a no- threat, no-enemy arrangement where you have potential antagonists, given historical tensions, talking to each other directly about their intentions -- whether it's military budgets or territorial claims -- to try to build confidence, reduce tensions, and make sure that the region stays as relatively stable as it is right now.
Q With reference to the security pillar -- and also referring to your trip to the PRC, Korea, and Japan with Secretary Perry -- I take it there will be ongoing security bilaterals on the subjects addressed to the five, I believe, subjects that were addressed with the PLA; and could you give us your impression of the results of those negotiations, and will the PRC be involved in any other bilaterals associated with APEC?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY LORD: The last question first. The President will be seeing President Jiang Zemin in Indonesia, along with some other bilaterals there, and also the Secretary will be seeing his counterpart in Indonesia as well.
Diplomats always say trips are a great success, but I just want someone to say they're a disaster. (Laughter)
This was a great success. (Laughter)
Now, you ought to keep in mind that it's part of an overall process with the Chinese of comprehensive engagement -- whether it's security, or promoting rights, or economics, or political or diplomatic dimensions -- continual high-level and working-level visits advance a broad agenda so that if have problems in certain areas, hopefully we can encase them in progress in other areas and keep up a general momentum. So it should be seen as part of that process. It should also be seen as part of an incremental process in the military area per se.
I want to make very clear, as Perry did on his trip, that when we're not talking about military sales or provisional military technology. That's number one.
He did outline a six-part agenda, actually including defense conversion and transparency and a lot of other things. I won't go into detail now. There will be an ongoing agenda.
We think it's in our interest to exchange with the Chinese military. They're important in the nonproliferation area; and we recently had a good agreement with China in that area, and we think that was partly because we opened up the dialogue with the military, and Secretary Perry played an important role in that; and we will promote other interests.
But the overall pace and scope of our military exchanges will depend on the overall progress in our relationship, including on issues like human rights and nonproliferation; and Secretary Perry made that clear.
We think these exchanges are also important to be in touch with an important segment of Chinese society, and also to try to engage both bilaterally -- as well as in this ASEAN regional forum multilaterally -- in a process of greater transparency; and I would envisage a senior American defense official going shortly to Beijing to brief about our strategic defense plans and budgets and strategies; and they would come in this direction as well, as one of one of the results of the Perry trip -- trying to make the Chinese intentions more transparent with the world, as well as with us.
Q This has triggered a bit by your statement yesterday on Taiwan. What is the U.S. --
ASSISTANT SECRETARY LORD: What are China's relations with New Zealand? Is that the --? (Laughter)
Q No, no, no. I'm not going to ask about New Zealand. You were very kind to me yesterday, and I appreciate that. (Laughter)
I'm serious. I've just always wondered what America's concept of the one-China policy is. Does the U.S. envision that at one point Taiwan and, for that matter, Hong Kong, will be marching lockstep under Beijing's direction; and, if so, when?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY LORD: We don't envision anything, except at being arrived at peacefully. It is up to the people and leaders in China and Taiwan and Hong Kong -- including, particularly in this transition phase with the British -- and the peoples of these places to determine that future. So, I think, they're going to have to work this out among themselves.
We welcome any progress achieved peacefully between these various parties; but we're not going to prescribe, we're not going to mediate, we're not going to speculate. The only point we would make is that it should be peaceful.
Q Winston, I have two questions, and they're not completely related.
One is: When you testified before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in your confirmation hearings, you sketched out the basic architecture of a whole new security structure for Asia. In the last two years there has been little, concrete, that the United States has done to promote this dynamic idea. Whatever happened to this idea?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY LORD: You'll not be surprised if I say that I flatly disagree with you. I think we have promoted it with subtlety, brilliance, and in a spirit of consensus with our Asian partners (laughter); and I also think we've made considerable success, and I actually am being serious here -- and I'll say this behind your back as well as right to you (laughter) on public affairs.
First of all, on the regional security dialogue, that is based, above all, on maintaining our force levels; and this the very concrete evidence of our force levels being maintained, where they'll be about as large as they are in Europe very shortly. It goes beyond just beyond rhetoric and travels and speeches to prove that we're going to stay engaged -- because it's in our self-interest and because the nations of the region want us to stay engaged -- and at a time of budget deficit and other pressures on the financial resources of the United States, that's no mean feat. But it reflects the President's and Secretary Perry's and the Chairman's and Secretary Christopher's determination to show we're engaged. So that's a part of our security strategy, and we've maintained that; and as Perry said in Korea just a couple of weeks ago, we're going to maintain our forces there because we still have this conventional threat even though we've made progress on the nuclear threat.
Secondly, it's based on our alliances, and we've maintained those. We're visiting several on this trip. We've reached many access agreements to compensate for withdrawal from the Philippines.
Then on top of these foundations, we have these regional security dialogues. You're well familiar that in Bangkok we have this historic inaugural meeting, getting all these nations together in one place -- bringing Russia, Vietnam, and China into this dialogue.
On top of that, we have the North Korea nuclear agreement. On top of that, a recent two agreements with China. First of all, cut-off of fissile materials and movement on the M-11 MTCR question.
On top of that, we have been defending and encouraging and supporting Cambodia's road toward prosperity and helping its security, including considering with our friends the provision of military aid.
On top of that, we have other regional security dialogues. We have trilateral ones just completed in Hawaii with Japan and South Korea, and we have a mixed government/academic one in Northeast Asia, the two Koreas, Japan, South Korea, the United States and Russia, and those are moving ahead; in Northeast Asia, somewhat slowly with our agreement until this nuclear crisis is eased. Now that it's eased, we hope it could pick up momentum.
So I'm delighted you asked that question. It gives me a chance to give you just a slight evidence. I could go on much longer of all the brilliant things we have done to implement this strategy we set out a year and a half ago.
Q Okay, second question. After two years of intense focus on the Japan trade issues, is this Administration now focusing on the rest of Asia much more?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY LORD: First of all, even with Japan we have not just focused on trade. That's been very important, because it's one part of the relationship that needed fixing. We've insulated the rest - - the security, the common agenda items, peacekeeping, regional conflicts -- from that, and it's very healthy there, and we'll continue to give great emphasis to that.
We have never neglected the rest of Asia that I've noticed, and I think this trip again shows how we're paying attention to all the aspects -- security, economic and promoting freedom.
UNDER SECRETARY SPERO: Let me just add a footnote to that, because I hope it's very clear that while we've had an emphasis on the economic side, an important emphasis on Japan, that that has not stopped us from having an important emphasis in a number of other areas.
Bilaterally with Korea, for example, we've had significant negotiations on market opening; China is another example; Thailand and Malaysia. You name it. So we've had a very aggressive policy in the rest of the region, and I think APEC is just one piece of that overarching policy, whether it's bilateral negotiations, multilaterally working together within APEC.
Remember, last year one of the major successes of the APEC meeting was that there was an agreement to advance market opening among the APEC members which was a real spur and I would say a competitive spur to some of our colleagues in the rest of the world to completing the Uruguay Round. So it has been a very intense and uniform policy.
Q Where do talks about implementing the North Korea accord fit on the agenda in the bilaterals you'll be having with the Chinese and the Japanese? And, secondly, is there some hope or possibility that simply having this security item so high on the agenda will create some sort of a -- lay some sort of a ground work for an Asia-wide security arrangement?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY LORD: First, it will be very high on the agenda on this trip. Above all, of course, in South Korea, but also in the bilaterals with China and Japan. They'll both have important roles to play. I've already indicated this is going to be a very challenging, complex implementation. We're determined to see that North Korea lives up to its obligations. We're determined to see that North-South dialogue takes place. So we will be watching this implementation and working with our friends.
Next to Korea, Japan is the one most interested. Along with Korea, it's indicated financial and other support for the substitute light- water reactors, etc. And China, if any country, has influence with North Korea -- they were helpful in the negotiating process. They weighed in with North Korea to be reasonable, even as they weighed in with us to be patient. They will be important in the implementation phase, and we want to fully engage them.
So I would expect further bilateral consultations just on these issues with China and Japan, as well as the broader bilateral discussions in Indonesia. Then in terms of setting the framework, over time we think the future of the peninsula itself is going to have be settled between South and North Korea.
But the nations around that -- and in particular Russia, China, ourselves and Japan -- can help provide an atmosphere that's conducive to that of providing a framework of stability and encouraging the parties to deal with each other.
So we do think reaching this accord -- and with all the caveats about a lot of difficult implementation ahead -- should ease the way toward more meaningful dialogue in northeast Asia, and we plan to pursue that.
Q The Indonesian Ambassador this morning at a breakfast claimed that his country has recently made some improvements in worker rights. Do you agree with that, and what is your current assessment about Indonesia's behavior in East Timor?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY LORD: As I've said earlier in my presentation on other occasions, we have a very wide, diverse and generally very positive relationship with Indonesia. I keep repeating this, because we consider the human rights problems very important, and they're always on our agenda. But we cannot lose sight of our overall relations with this very important country. It's the world's largest Moslem country -- and, by the way, I would point out that it has consistently opposed extremism in religion and has been tolerant of its communities. It is an important player in ASEAN. It is the host to APEC. It has been a moderate leader of the non-aligned movement.
We have very large economic interests with it. We have military access interests. It has been a leader in trying to solve the Spratly South China Sea issue. It was a leader in solving the Cambodian problem.
We're going to talk about these elements, and they're all very important and have to be kept in mind.
Having said that, we have serious concerns about East Timor labor rights, closing down recently of magazines, possible pressures on the operations of NGOs. We have been very open.
Because we have such a good overall relationship, we can speak very candidly with our Indonesian friends. I want to stress a couple of points here, in addition to the overall relationship.
We have been working at this problem throughout this Administration. We haven't just discovered there's a human rights problem in Indonesia because the President is going there. We devised, with the cooperation of the Congress, but I must say also with the agreement of the Indonesians, a new arms sales policy which restricts any arms that might possibly be used for insurgencies -- it partly gets to your East Timor question -- while allowing us to sell other arms in legitimate self-defense.
In every meeting that I've been at, from the President on down, questions such as the one you mentioned, have been raised along with the positive elements that I've mentioned. We will continue to do that, and it will happen during the proceedings.
But this is a long-term problem. One cannot expect breakthroughs or instant success in the next couple of weeks. We hope Indonesia will show its best face. It's got a lot of tremendous achievements, including in the economic area, to show off to the world. It's got a great opportunity here. As a friend, we've encouraged them to be enlightened on some of these issues so they can take advantage of this opportunity.
Obviously, we think some more progress is needed, including in areas that you've mentioned. But we will pay attention to the positive aspects of our relations as well as the problems.
Q Ambassador Lord, can you bring us up to date on the -- if there's a date on the opening of liaison offices with Vietnam, and where that stands?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY LORD: There's no fixed date. We're moving in that direction. As you know, the President agreed to this in February. Since then, we've been negotiating on property and claims. Both have gone very well. As always in these negotiations, there's some significant details left. So I don't want to put a timeframe on it. We're certainly talking months, not years. We would hope it would be in the relatively near future but we do have to come to closure on these property and claims negotiations which, on the whole, are going very well indeed.
Meanwhile, the cooperation on MIAs continues. It's the President's highest priority, and the Vietnamese are showing continued cooperation since his decision last February.
Q Thank you.
(Following the briefing on Asia, Spokesman McCurry continued with the regular Daily Briefing at 1:38 p.m.)
MR. McCURRY: Did you guys have any other -- okay, that's it then.
Q Wait a minute.
MR. McCURRY: Let's do one or two real quick. Very quick.
Q Yes, very quick. Quick as I can. I'd appreciate your eyewitness and your personal gut feeling about the chances for an accord between Syria and Israel.
MR. McCURRY: Mine are pretty much exactly the same as the ones that the President and the Secretary reflected on in their trip. They're making progress but they've got a lot more progress to make. But not being an expert on it, I don't know that my personal observations would add much to what the policymakers have already done.
Q What is the status of this problem with Mexico regarding the note that they presented complaining about this operation at the border -- safeguards and guarding? Have you --
MR. McCURRY: We've received more than several diplomatic notes and they are under study. If you check with our Press Office, we had an answer prepared for that yesterday. I don't have that with me today. They are under consideration by our government.
Q Mike, I know you talked about Bosnia at some length yesterday. But having read the transcript -- I wasn't here -- I didn't a phrase or really an idea that had previously been expressed by Christine on the question of whether or not the United States would participate in any bombing actions against the Bosnian Muslims?
MR. McCURRY: No change from what Christine has said. I believe the Pentagon --
Q Her line was -- she said she found it hard to imagine that the United States would participate in any such operations. I just wonder if --
MR. McCURRY: So do I.
Anything else? Okay. Thanks.
(Press briefing concluded at 1:40 p.m.)
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