U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE OFFICE OF THE SPOKESMAN DAILY PRESS BRIEFING NOVEMBER 16, 1994 U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE DAILY PRESS BRIEFING I N D E X Wednesday, November 16, 1994 Briefer: Christine Shelly ANGOLA Truce Agreement .................................1 Cease-fire Agreement Due November 20 ............1 UN/US Assistance ................................1-2 UKRAINE Vote on NPT .....................................2-3 DEPARTMENT Prospects for Foreign Aid in Coming Years .......3-4 TRADE Prospects for Passing GATT ......................4-5 CUBA US Review of Safehaven Policy ...................5-6 US Visa for Ricardo Alarcon .....................5-6 BOSNIA Fighting/UN Exclusion Zones .....................6-10
DEPARTMENT OF STATE DAILY PRESS BRIEFING
WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 16, 1994, 1:08 P.M. (ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED)
MS. SHELLY: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. Welcome to the State Department briefing.
I'd like to begin with a statement on Angola. The United States is encouraged by the announcement of a truce between the Angolan Government and UNITA which is scheduled to take effect this afternoon Washington time.
The Truce will be in effect until the more formal cease- fire agreement outlined in the Lusaka Protocol takes hold. Signature of the Lusaka Protocol on November 20 will mark the beginning of a new future for the Angolan people.
The Angolan leaders, now obligated to converting a cease-fire into a durable peace, must fulfill their commitments under the Protocol. The international community and the Angolan people will accept no less.
The United States stands ready to join with the international community to provide the vital support needed to make the Angolan peace process a success.
I'll be pleased to take your questions on this or any other subject.
Q Can you elaborate on what type of support you're talking about?
MS. SHELLY: As you know, we are particularly interested in the context of the implementation, we have already voted in the U.N. Security Council to support the immediate deployment of additional U.N. monitors upon the initialing of the Lusaka Protocol. Once an effective cease-fire is in place, we can now go on to consider a decision on whether the United Nations peacekeeping force for Angola should now be authorized.
We also have lent a great deal of political support to this exercise. As you know, we've had Assistant Secretary Moose in Luanda and Lusaka over the past few days. He has also been involved in our effort to try to facilitate a cease-fire and to facilitate the actual signature on the Lusaka Protocol.
He's been working very closely in conjunction with the efforts of the U.N. Special Representative Beye, with other observer delegation of the U.S., Russia and Portugal, and numerous African national leaders.
Assistant Secretary Moose has had, as we mentioned I think on Monday, an extended meeting with Angolan President dos Santos. He stressed the importance of an immediate cease-fire and the signing of the Lusaka Protocol. He's also had a number of bilateral contacts with other of the leaders who have been in the region.
So we hope that the combined efforts of all of the parties to this and all of those who have tried to facilitate the signing of the Protocol, and of course its implementation, that these will result in steps well along the way toward implementation of a peace settlement in Angola.
Q Can I ask you about something else -- about Ukraine's parliament finally approving the Non-Proliferation Treaty?
The stories in Kiev say that just before the approval -- the legislators have been quoted as saying -- the Clinton Administration gave them some new security assurances, which came as a surprise. I remember the January assurances. Have there been new assurances to Ukraine? It's unfortunately not spelled out in the story.
MS. SHELLY: I don't have a lot of details on this. As I think you know, the U.S., together with Russia, had been prepared to offer Ukraine security guarantees that the Rada wanted. The U.S. takes a strong interest in Ukraine's independence, it's sovereignty, and its existing borders. (Inaudible) depository nation under the NPT.
We're prepared to offer security assurances to Ukraine once it has acceded to the treaty.
I should step back to your first point even though that wasn't posed in the form of a question. We've seen the reports this morning that the Ukranian Rada has voted on NPT accession. We haven't yet had the opportunity to review the text of that resolution.
We have, of course, very strongly supported and encouraged Ukraine's accession to the NPT as a non-nuclear weapons state and the fulfillment of Ukraine's prior commitments under the Lisbon Protocol and an important contribution to our shared objectives on arms control and non-proliferation.
So we applaud the leadership exhibited by President Kuchma in bringing this very important treaty before the Rada.
Q So far as any new guarantees, are you aware of new guarantees?
MS. SHELLY: I'm not aware of any new guarantees. I will look into that and see if we have anything else that we can say in response to those reports.
I would just also draw your attention to the fact that President Kuchma of Ukraine will also be making a State visit here from February 21-23.
Q Something else, please. A lot of this -- let me put it this way. U.S. policy is not only one of pledges but of aid, assistance -- Nunn-Lugar money, aid, increased aid to Ukraine. Does the Administration anticipate any difficulty in seeing this aid through with the accession of the Republicans, and most particularly Jesse Helms, as Chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee?
You may have noticed that the GATT agreement now is -- he's urging that the review be slowed down. I wonder if aid to Ukraine would be affected by the rise of the Republican Right in Congress?
MS. SHELLY: Barry, I think overall our policy toward Russia, toward Ukraine, I think that those are both policies which have enjoyed a very broad measure of bipartisan support. I'm not aware of the election result having changed that. So I can't, at this point, think of any particular way that we expect that there would be a change.
Q Would you say the same would follow for the other states in the NIS?
MS. SHELLY: I'm sorry?
Q Would you say the same applies to the rest of our aid program to the NIS?
MS. SHELLY: I think that we're all aware of some of the points that were put out by Senator Helms in the last couple of days. He did raise some questions about foreign assistance, generally. I don't want to go beyond that.
Certainly, we'll be working very closely with Senator Helms on the aid issues, and certainly we'll try to respond to the concerns that he has raised. I would certainly not wish to make a sweeping generalization at this point. He has concerns. We're aware of them, and we're committed to working with him as positively as we can.
Q I haven't checked. I should have. I haven't checked it, but there was a reaction from the traveling White House to what the Senator has said about wanting a thorough review of free trade agreements.
Let me ask here if there's a State Department reaction. Do you welcome the chance to have prolonged debate over fair trade and free trade which used to be considered a Republican doctrine, but apparently not Jesse Helms' doctrine?
MS. SHELLY: Okay. Are you talking specifically about GATT?
Q Very specifically. Yes, ma'am.
MS. SHELLY: Our view on the possibility of delaying a vote on GATT, we believe that it's really out of the question to delay a vote on the Uruguay Round Agreement. We believe that to delay it could potentially be the same thing as killing the agreement.
The fast-track authority under which this bill will be considered expires this year. A delay until next year could mean that the bill would be open to further delay and possibly amendments which could have the effect of killing the agreement. It could also potentially lead to a situation where other countries might follow our lead. They might also refuse to ratify the Uruguay Round results.
The U.S. would possibly be blamed for having caused the collapse of what we consider to be the most far-reaching trade agreement in history. It also contains the biggest tax cut in history through the substantially lower tariffs.
That's our position on that, and we certainly hope there will be a vote very quickly.
Q There's nothing ambiguous about that statement. You may have noticed the Senator proffering a deal if the Administration would agree to delaying action on this, then maybe he would look more favorably on other aspects of American foreign policy -- a request of Congress. Does that kind of a deal appeal to the State Department?
MS. SHELLY: I don't want to comment specifically on the prospect of dealing. I just want to reiterate the point, and President Clinton also said in his recent speech before Georgetown University, "We shouldn't delay GATT." That's certainly the position of the President and that's certainly the very strong position of the State Department as well.
So I would certainly be very hesitant to make any kind of linkage between a vote on that and any other issue. GATT stands on its own merits, and we'd like there to be the vote this year.
Q On Cuba and the Cuban refugees. I have different questions. First, whether the Administration is considering new steps to allow Cubans in Guantanamo to come into the United States? Then, if you have information about some Cubans being in prison in Panama facilities because they took part in violence, and whether any of these issues is being discussed with Mr. Alarcon who is visiting Washington?
MS. SHELLY: Your second question, I'm going to have to check on that. I don't have any information about the possibility of Cubans being incarcerated as a consequence of their participation in riots. So I'll do that as a taken question.
There have been a number of news reports, as you're aware, about the possibility of paroling-in children out of Guantanamo in Panama safehavens.
The President announced on October 14 that the situation of children at the safehavens would be reviewed. That review is not yet completed. So I can't tell you a lot on that today.
I can tell you that the presence of children in the safehavens raises a lot of very important humanitarian concerns. They are being taken into account as part of the review process.
The review process is on-going. There's not a deadline at this point for this kind of a decision to be put into effect. But it's been very, very clear that for all of those who are affected, they're not able to be in school, they're not able to continue their education. The situation is obviously gone on for some time now. It is a point which is of great concern for us.
In the context of your last question about the visit of Ricardo Alarcon, the head of Cuba's delegation to our recent migration talks, he's in Washington at the moment to attend a Pan American Health Organization meeting. The U.S., as you know, is the host nation for PAHO, as it's called, and regularly admits delegations to attend meetings here just as we do for U.N. delegations.
He's here in Washington. His visa restricts his travel to a 25- mile radius of Washington, subject to the normal kind of conditions that we put on the visas. I'm not aware, specifically, of meetings scheduled with government officials, but I think I can say that if a meeting is scheduled, we will certainly say so. But if there is any kind of a meeting, it would be for the purposes of discussing migration issues and not broader issues at this point.
Q New subject. A group has filed suit in a Washington court, challenging the legitimacy of the immigration agreement with Cuba, saying it sets up sort of a separate immigration operation under the Attorney General. Anyway, have you seen that? This happened today.
MS. SHELLY: No, I haven't seen that. But in all probability, that would be something that the Justice Department would be commenting on and not necessarily something we'd be commenting on here. But I'll certainly look into it and see if there's anything we might want to say later. But in all probability, it would be Justice Department.
Q Bosnia. Reports that the Serbs are beginning to overrun the Bihac pocket. Do you have any kind of update?
MS. SHELLY: Yes. Pale Serbs are continuing to push back the government forces in the western Bosnian enclave of Bihac. UNPROFOR reports that the Serbs are advancing at about one kilometer per day and are now within five kilometers of Bihac town. It's unclear who controls the Grabez Plateau which is to the east of Bihac. However, the resistance provided by what I understand to be isolated pockets of government forces, are not considered militarily significant by UNPROFOR. Serb shelling of civilian areas in the enclave continued throughout yesterday.
Fikret Abdic, the former leader of the rebel forces in Bihac, is organizing a force of rebel Muslims, reportedly up to 5,000-men strong, to fight along side the Pale Serbs in their Bihac offensive.
As you know, the North Atlantic Council yesterday discussed the possibility of declaring an exclusion zone around Bihac in order to protect the civilian population, but no decision has been finalized. We got our report just a very short while ago that President Izetbegovic had called our Ambassador in New York -- the U.N. Ambassador, Madeleine Albright -- in her capacity as President of the U.N. Security Council.
He reports that a major attack is under way across what he says is a 100-kilometer front. He says that there are a large number of tanks and heavy weapons which are being pulled from U.N.-protected areas -- the UNPAs in Croatia -- and he's asked Ambassador Albright in her capacity as President of the Security Council to seek U.N. Security Council action.
I don't have any further details at this point, and I don't have the response to this yet. As I said, this happened just a very short while before coming here.
I think President Izetbegovic has also made some statements today in Bosnia, generally describing the offensive which is under way.
Q Can we deal with some other fundamentals here, I mean, from the U.S. policy standpoint? What is the U.S. position on unilateral assistance to this besieged town? No dice? Whatever is done will be done through the U.N., and we know where the U.N. stands basically?
MS. SHELLY: Barry, we are certainly opposed to the kind of cross- border attacks which are under way. We have been in contact with all of the parties as the situation two/three days ago was certainly very, very worrisome. We were urging all of the parties in the region to exercise restraint so that it would reduce the possibility of a wider escalation of the conflict around the Bihac area.
We're obviously very, very concerned about the overall trend. We still feel very strongly that a solution to the problems is not on the battlefield, but it's at the negotiating table. I don't know what else I can tell you at this point. It is obviously a very, very worrisome situation right now and one in which we will be monitoring very, very closely to see what response will be appropriate.
Q There's nothing the U.S. would do on it own? I mean, you're worried, and you're trying to move the U.N., but we know how the U.N. responds to such action, with, you know, great deliberation. You say they're five kilometers away. Is there anything the U.S. can do on its own to help this besieged town?
MS. SHELLY: I think that we will be working very, very actively on the diplomatic front, but, as you know, we are still involved in the participation of the arms embargo. As you know, there was the change regarding our participation in the enforcement. But our participation vis-a-vis the provision of arms or some kind of military support, as you know, is still prohibited under U.N. resolutions that are also factored into the Nunn-Mitchell commitment.
So we are engaged in a very active diplomacy on this, and certainly we'll work both through NATO and through the U.N. Security Council to try to develop an expeditious and appropriate response.
Q What is the U.S. position on the exclusion zone proposal?
MS. SHELLY: The United States, I think generally speaking, believes that this is certainly a possibility that can be considered, but it's also one that would have to have the support first of NATO, so that it can be implemented on the ground, and also something that certainly needs to have the support of UNPROFOR as well.
So it's not simply a straight political declaration. It is also being able to implement the change in practice. As you know, Bihac was declared a safe area by the U.N. Security Council in, I think, the middle of last year -- either April or May of last year. It changes the status, and it also changes the possible obligations to move it to an exclusion zone, but I think that's certainly a very live possibility and one that merits very serious consideration at this point, but one that has obvious consequences for both UNPROFOR's activities and also NATO's role.
Q We say it's a live possibility, but is it a practical possibility? You say you need NATO. If they go at a pace of a kilometer a day, you have five days to bring this about. Does the State Department think that NATO and the U.N. Security Council could all adopt such a policy and implement it within five days?
MS. SHELLY: Barry, I talked about what the movement had represented and the pace of that, and I don't know what the pace today, tomorrow or the next day is going to be. So I'm not going to just simply extrapolate based on the last couple of days.
But we took this issue to the NATO Council yesterday. It was referred for urgent attention to the NATO military authorities. That is an essential step before there can be a kind of action on the ground with respect to UNPROFOR and NATO. So it takes a couple of days for the requirements of that to be evaluated and passed back to the Council, and the NATO Council, of course, then needs to take its decision and also consult with the U.N.
So I certainly wouldn't rule out the possibility of that happening in the next couple of days, but it's not something -- it requires some careful study and planning, and it's not the sort of decision that I think can be undertaken without factoring in the realities on the ground.
Q Do you know if Secretary Christopher has been working the phones on this?
MS. SHELLY: Again, I'm --
Q We could ask out there, of course.
MS. SHELLY: Yes. The Secretary has been very involved in this issue. I can't shed light on the specifics of his exchanges, but it is something that he's well informed of and certainly actively working from the party.
Q To go back to the reference you made to the phone call from President Izetbegovic to Madeleine Albright, did you say that he reported that tanks had been pulled out of U.N. controlled areas for that?
MS. SHELLY: That's my understanding of what he reported to her -- U.N. protected areas.
Q And isn't there cause for NATO airstrikes against those tanks without any other considerations if that's true?
MS. SHELLY: I would have to check on that. We have tried in the past to be completely up on all of the implications of that, and we've found that it's often very difficult to stay completely up on a current basis. And I want to check that. In fact, it may be a question that you're going to have to get from UNPROFOR.
Safe areas had certain consequences to them as to the exclusion zones and also the protected areas, and it's very complicated about all of the regimes that involve simply calls for ceasing hostilities versus areas where heavy weapons are prescribed and where NATO air support or actions, airstrikes, can be called in.
So I want to check on that point to make sure that I don't give a misleading answer.
Q Will you check and get it?
MS. SHELLY: Yes, I'll do my best to get you a written response this afternoon.
Is that it?
Q I wonder if you could tell us what the status of the bilateral talks going on this week with the Japanese and South Koreans on KEDO, the Korean Energy Development Organization, is, and whether there has been any overall monetary goals set for providing the light- water reactors in North Korea?
MS. SHELLY: I don't have any information with me on that right now, but I'll check and see what we can say.
Q Thanks very much.
MS. SHELLY: Thanks.
(The briefing concluded at 1:31 p.m.)
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