U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE OFFICE OF THE SPOKESMAN DAILY PRESS BRIEFING NOVEMBER 7, 1994 U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE DAILY PRESS BRIEFING I N D E X Monday, November 7, 1994 Briefer: Christine Shelly MIDDLE EAST PEACE PROCESS Israeli-Syrian Talks on Golan/US Participation ..1-2 BOSNIA UN Discussions on Lifting Sanctions .............2-3 Fighting/UN Protest/Embargo on Bosnians .........3-6 Peace Plan Discussions by Contact Group .........3-5 NATO Membership/Partners for Peace ...................6-7 CUBA Refugees/Voluntary Returns ......................7-8 HAITI Refugees ........................................8-9 RUSSIA Zhirinovsky Visit to US .........................10
DEPARTMENT OF STATE DAILY PRESS BRIEFING
MONDAY, NOVEMBER 7, 1994, 1:10 P. M. (ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED)
MS. SHELLY: Welcome to the State Department, ladies and gentlemen. I don't have any opening statements to read, so I'll be happy to go directly to your questions.
Q There's a report from Cairo quoting Farouk al- Shara, the Syrian Foreign Minister, as saying that there might be direct talks between Syria and Israel following the Secretary of State's next trip to the region. Do you have anything directly from the Syrians that would suggest that might be the case?
MS. SHELLY: We are, of course, watching that track with great interest, but, as I think you know, our policy here is that we leave it up to the parties to make announcements of that kind. So we will wait for the parties to do that and take that as the definitive announcement.
Q I have a follow-up. (Inaudible) direct talks? Don't you want to encourage such a thing? I think your policy is to mediate if they won't talk to each other, but you'd rather they talk to each, wouldn't you?
MS. SHELLY: Barry, I'm not sure that I need to get into a new characterization of the U.S. role. We certainly --
MS. SHELLY: I'm not sure that covering old ground is necessary either, but you know we are, of course, very interested in seeing progress on that track, as most recently evidenced by the visit to the region of the President.
Again, certainly we'd like to see progress, and whenever we can see a role which is useful for us to play, we certainly try to do that. But as to announcements about talks, new formats, new participation, things like that, we do leave it up to them to make those announcements.
Q I was going to ask you, Christine, could you tell us whether the President or the Presidential party was asked about the possible American role, military role or peacekeeping role on Golan, and whether generally what was repeated was what we know the policy to be and that is that the United States stands ready to participate if the parties want the United States to do that?
MS. SHELLY: The first part of your question about questions raised with the Presidential party, you'd have to direct that to the White House. But to my knowledge --
Q (Inaudible) the Presidential party was the Secretary of State.
MS. SHELLY: Okay. But again the Secretary has taken that question on several occasions, and to my knowledge there is no change in the position.
Q That would have been the position that -- if it was discussed, that would have been the position in the meeting with Assad? I mean, it hasn't changed, has it?
MS. SHELLY: No, the U.S. position has not changed. The Secretary did address that, I think, on several recent occasions, which is that if the parties requested the U.S. to participate in some kind of an arrangement, that subject to the conditions -- and obviously consultations with the U.S. Congress -- that the U.S. would certainly be willing to consider that type of participation.
Q Is it possible -- and I know this is terribly hypothetical -- but would the United States -- the possibility that the Senate might change leadership, couldn't that put a terrible crimp in the American promise to participate in such a line?
MS. SHELLY: That is so hypothetical that I am absolutely going to duck.
Other questions. Other subjects.
Q Christine, what is the program this week -- or indeed is it this week -- regarding the U.N. Security Council resolution on the arms embargo in Bosnia?
MS. SHELLY: As I think you know, Ambassador Albright circulated our draft resolution in the Council on October 28. What we've had so far have been a series of informal discussions on the draft. Discussion of the resolution and other matters concerning the overall situation in Bosnia is scheduled to resume tomorrow when the Council has planned actually an open debate on Bosnia.
An open debate in the Council provides an opportunity for all U.N. members -- not just the Security Council members -- to participate in the discussions. So we will have that discussion beginning tomorrow and then see where we go from there.
Q I noticed that Mr. Akashi today had some interesting remarks regarding his reading of the latest offensive of the Bosnian Government, suggesting that perhaps it would have some positive consequences in terms of forcing the Serbs to re-look at their position.
Is there any reading that you have of Akashi's remarks, and do they by any chance reflect maybe new thinking in the Security Council of people who previously had opposed the notion of lifting the embargo might be changing their ideas?
MS. SHELLY: I confess, I have not seen Mr. Akashi's remarks, but certainly the increased fighting going on in Bosnia is a source of concern to everyone -- certainly to the members of the Contact Group and certainly to other Security Council and U.N. members.
As you know, the fighting got so bad over the course of the weekend -- and in response to cries from UNPROFOR or protests to both of the parties to stop their actions -- the U.N. General requested a NATO show of force -- the close air support -- and two NATO aircraft flew over the region on Saturday night and on Sunday morning, although they didn't fire any weapons.
The Contact Group, of course, is also the place where a lead role in the diplomacy is still underway. The Contact Group met in Zagreb over the weekend to discuss the peace process. Those discussions will continue. There's not any particular change. Despite some reports to the contrary in the discussions which are underway, the plan is not at this point to consider things like reopening the map. That is not on the agenda.
The Contact Group territorial proposal is not subject to change, and once the Bosnian Serbs accept it -- if they would accept it, as we have said on many occasions before, adjustments to it could be made as the result of the mutual agreement among all of the Bosnian parties.
There is one report that referenced the acceptance of the territorial proposal by the Bosnian Serbs as a kind of starting point. It's the starting point only insofar as it could be a beginning to look at some of the other issues, such as constitutional arrangements. But again the first step in that direction is acceptance of the map, and acceptance of the map is a mandatory requirement before any further negotiations on any other types of issues can proceed.
So I think that's what the situation is regarding the map, and certainly there doesn't appear to be any increased willingness that we've seen so far on the part of the Bosnian Serbs to accept that plan; and the Bosnian Government's acceptance of that plan, of course, still remains in place.
Q What Akashi said or at least is reported as having said is that there conceivably could be some positive consequences which could flow from the success of the Bosnian Government's latest offensives. Setting aside what he said, does the United States Government think that there could be some positive consequences which could flow from the success of this new offensive?
MS. SHELLY: The U.S. Government's view, of course, is still that real gains are not likely to be those recorded on the battlefield; that those are going to have to be ones that are made at the negotiating table. If the fighting in some way directly or indirectly leads the parties to a situation where they come back to the table and specifically where the Bosnian Serbs decide that they are ready to accept the Contact Group plan, I think in that sense it would be positive. But I'm not sure that we've seen any specific evidence which would suggest that the Bosnian Serbs are responding in that way on the diplomatic front to the latest military gains by the Bosnian Government forces.
Q One of the things I see, though -- I understand what the United States is saying -- but apparently when reporters go visit people at UNPROFOR, they seem to be advising Mladic and the Serbs not to accept this map, because it's terribly unfair. I mean, I've seen them quoted as saying the map is unfair to the Serbs, and therefore they understand why the Serbs are not accepting it, and that seems to me to be encouragement to the Serbs not to accept it. I wonder whether the United States has taken any position in the United Nations or with the United Nations to tell the UNPROFOR people that it's none of their business?
MS. SHELLY: I can't, certainly, address every single remark, offhand or other, that might be made by someone out in the area. But it certainly is our view that the map is fair, and it represented a very strong consensus within the Contact Group when it was presented. It's also been endorsed at the ministerial level on several occasions.
We still believe that that represents the best way ahead in terms of a peaceful solution to the conflict. Again, notwithstanding the possibility of there being some minor adjustments to it -- assuming that all of the parties to the agreement were willing to make those adjustments -- we believe that the map and the plan represent the best of all of the possible alternatives, and we still strongly call upon the Bosnian Serbs to accept that plan.
Q Changing subjects?
Q No, I have another one. It would seem, given the success of the Bosnian Government, that somehow they are having some access to additional weapons which they didn't have before. Does the United States know if indeed they are getting heavy weapons in spite of the embargo? Are we contributing to that in any sense or turning a blind eye to the weapons coming in?
MS. SHELLY: Barrie, we're certainly not contributing to it, and we certainly are not turning a blind eye. We have been a major participant, as you know, in the enforcement of all of the different U.N. Security Council resolutions which have been passed in the past.
Certainly, I think there are indications that the Bosnian Government forces are better supplied. But I know we have also seen a lot of reports to the effect that they are also a lot better trained than they were at the beginning of the war. So we're still certainly committed at this point to the enforcement of the arms embargo, but, as you know, with our draft resolution on the table at this point in the Security Council, that may change.
But we will have to see what happens on this score. Whereas there is indication, I think, of some increased arms flow -- which it means that there are some violations of the arms embargo -- nonetheless, we are always constrained from talking about what we know in specificity because most of our information on that does come from intelligence sources.
Q Are you monitoring Croatia, too, as you're trying to make sure that the embargo is maintained, or do you just monitor Bosnia?
MS. SHELLY: I think that the resolution relates to all of the former republics, or republics of the former Yugoslavia. So I'm not aware that there's any separate regime in place regarding Croatia.
Q Because one of the strong reports is that Iranian arms are coming into the Muslims through Croatia -- Croatia, being this year, I guess -- the Muslims friend. God knows what the lineup will be next year. But right now they're fighting side by side.
There's a very strong report that Iran is shipping a lot of weapons in to Croatia, and from Croatia they're getting to the Muslims. Do you know anything about that?
MS. SHELLY: Barry, we've certainly also seen those reports. But, again, I can't comment on them in specificity.
Q Why would that be?
MS. SHELLY: Because information that we would have on that would, in all probably, come from intelligence sources.
Q If the Iranians are sending them arms, they know it; if the Muslims are receiving it, they know it. So who is the secrecy protecting?
You don't have to lay out how you know these things. But has Iran provided weapons -- I mean, you're supposed to have a campaign against Iran. You're trying to isolate Iran -- the U.S. is. Can you say whether Iran is providing arms to the Muslims in Bosnia?
MS. SHELLY: No, I cannot comment on that in specificity.
Q That's because why? Because that would reveal how you got the information?
MS. SHELLY: Because, Barry, information -- most of it, if not all of the information that we have on violations of the arms embargo, do come from intelligence sources.
Q I read in a report lately in the press about the expansion of NATO and about the U.S. role in it -- namely, about precepts of the United States for new membership. I wonder if you could be more specific about this process of the talks the allies are now in for prospective new potential members?
MS. SHELLY: I don't have anything with me on that today. I'll see if we can work up something on that for a little bit later in the week. I know we have had some internal U.S. Government deliberations on this, and we have had some preliminary contacts with our allies in NATO in the context of both embarking upon the Partnership for Peace and also the general path, as we've said many times, in connection with P-for-P, that it might lead to a NATO membership. So how that would be done, the process by which that might happen over the longer term is something, of course, we would have to discuss and work out our thinking and the procedures on that with NATO allies.
I don't have anything more specific than that today, but we'll see if we can work up something for the next few days to give you a little bit more insight into our thinking on that.
Q And when will these talks with the allies begin?
MS. SHELLY: I think that we have had talks about that in a general way, really for some time. It's a subject which comes up periodically, and it certainly came up in the context of some of the last ministerial meetings and also, of course, the last NATO summit about the whole membership question and how the way ahead would be agreed among the allies.
I'm not sure that it's a subject that has ever been totally off the agenda. It's in the context of meetings which come up. As you know, in December, there will be the NATO ministerials again. So I would expect that there would be a certain amount of refinement and thinking both within our own government and also in the context of NATO discussions leading up to the ministerial. So there might be further decisions at that point.
Q A different subject?
MS. SHELLY: Sure.
Q Can you please update the number of Haitians and Cubans in Guantanamo and Panama? And what is the situation in the camps Guantanamo?
MS. SHELLY: Sure. Do you want to do Cuba first or do you want to do Haiti first? I have them done separately.
MS. SHELLY: Cuba? Okay. I'll give you the information that I have on this. As you know, on Thursday, November 3, the U.S. Court of Appeals in Atlanta lifted the injunction on voluntary return of Cubans from Guantanamo. That permitted the return on Saturday of 22 Cubans who had asked to go home and who had received authorization to do so from the Government of Cuba.
Sixty-four Cubans have now returned voluntarily through official channels. Those dates were October 7, October 17, and then this past Saturday.
This does not include numbers of those who have left the camps spontaneously.
Approximately 1,000 others at Guantanamo have asked about voluntary return. Now that the injunction of October 25 has been lifted, we hope we will receive authorization from Cuban authorities to return Cubans at a faster pace.
As you know, our Interests Section in Havana is working with the Government of Cuba on this. It remains our policy not to force or encourage Cubans to return to Cuba. Those who do not wish to return may remain in safehaven status in Guantanamo or elsewhere.
The numbers that you've asked for, as to those who are in safehaven status in Panama, it's 8,665. Those who are still at Guantanamo is 23,094. So those are the numbers for Guantanamo for Cubans.
Q (Inaudible) spontaneously left over the weekend?
MS. SHELLY: Fifty-seven Cuban migrants, all residents of the camp housing those who have stated their desire to return, voluntarily repatriated themselves by leaving the camp and swimming to territory under the jurisdiction of the Government of Cuba. A number of others from that same camp were intercepted and prevented from undertaking the risky swim.
Q There was a report that they had stomped down a fence as well. Have you put the fence back up, or are you just going to leave it down?
MS. SHELLY: I don't have that detail, Barrie. I assume that fence has probably been resurrected or put back together in some way.
Q The Haitians?
MS. SHELLY: The Haitians. The total population of Haitians at Guantanamo is 5,987. Of total repatriations, that was 15,224. I have just a little bit of additional information on that here.
A group of 38 Haitians with medical conditions, who asked to return voluntarily to Haiti, left Guantanamo on Thursday by Coast Guard cutter and arrived in Haiti on Friday. There were some other Haitians who were scheduled to return at the same time but they were barred from returning home by Judge Atkins, following his provisional granting of the Haitian Refugee Center request to intervene in the lawsuit concerning the Cubans at Guantanamo.
We are asking Judge Atkins to revise his injunction on the return of Haitians from Guantanamo given the Court of Appeals ruling on Friday which lifted the ban on the return of Cubans.
As you know, the Justice Department has the lead in this on our side.
We acknowledged last week that the number of Haitians requesting voluntary return has slowed as a result of the lawsuit. So other than the ones that I mentioned where there were medical cases involved, we're still waiting for the lawsuit to be settled in one way or another so that the voluntary repatriations can resume.
Q I have a follow-up. Among these 5,900 (inaudible) in Guantanamo, what will happen to those who refuse to be repatriated -- who don't want to return?
MS. SHELLY: I'm not aware that there have been any specific refusals. Because what's happened is, we've continued to canvas the camps asking for volunteers, and up until the time when the injunction went into effect, there was no shortage of volunteers. So, as I said, that had slowed when the news spread and some of those at the camp felt that maybe there would be an opening for them to come to the United States if the lawsuit were settled in their favor.
But at this point, we have not been faced with the refusal by some. The number, I think, will continue to diminish. What happens ultimately, if there's a group left, that's a hypothetical at this point. So I don't have an answer for that.
Q When President Yeltsin was here, he agreed to not permit any new contracts with Iran for weapons. We asked -- and he was going to fulfill existing contracts. We asked, what is this delivery? What's in the pipeline? The answer was, "We don't know at this point but we'll find out and let you know."
I try to ask every now and then. Do we know? Because we're talking about submarines. We're not talking about little incidental things. It's baffling that the U.S. Government wouldn't know what Russia is providing Iran with. Is there a scorecard yet, a score sheet as to what Iran will receive from Russia with U.S. approval?
MS. SHELLY: Barry, I don't know. I'll have to check on that and see if we've had any recent communication from them with some more details.
Q The idea was to get it from Russia.
MS. SHELLY: Right.
Q Is Zhirinovsky coming Washington, by the way?
MS. SHELLY: I know he's out in San Francisco for the first leg of his trip. He's expected to be in the states for about a week, but I don't have any specific information on his itinerary.
Q Has he requested to see any part of official U.S. Government --
MS. SHELLY: Not that I'm aware of, but I'll be happy to check on that.
Q (Inaudible) of Korean broadcasting system. Can you confirm the schedule on the U.S.-North Korean expert talks which will be opened this week?
MS. SHELLY: I saw that press report right before coming in to do the briefing. I don't have any information to confirm that from our side at this point.
I'll check on that later today. But it's also possible that if we have a similar announcement to make, it could well come from the Secretary's party since he's in the region, although I would assume that we would be in a position to put out the same information here at more or less the same time. So let me check and see what the status of that is, and I'll give you an answer as soon as we can.
Q Thank you.
MS. SHELLY: Thanks.
(Press briefing concluded at 1:34 p.m.)
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