U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE OFFICE OF THE SPOKESMAN DAILY PRESS BRIEFING DECEMBER 5, 1994 U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE DAILY PRESS BRIEFING I N D E X Monday, December 5, 1994 Briefer: Christine Shelly ARMS CONTROL US/Ukraine/Russia re: NPT/START I ..............1 HAITI Deputy Secretary's Visit ........................1 Elections .......................................1-3 Transition to UN Peacekeepers ...................3-4 US/UN Conference on Conditions in Country .......3-4 TURKEY US Concern re: Trials of Kurdish MPs ...........4-6 DEPARTMENT Investigation of Bush Administration Officials Who Searched Passport Files ...................7 JAPAN US Stamp Featuring Atomic Bomb Explosion ........7-10 MIDDLE EAST PEACE PROCESS Secretary's Visit to Region/Meetings ............11-12 Declaration of Principles .......................11-12 NORTH KOREA Expert-Level Meetings with US Begin Tomorrow ....13
DEPARTMENT OF STATE DAILY PRESS BRIEFING
MONDAY, DECEMBER 5, 1994, 1:03 P. M. (ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED)
MS. SHELLY: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. Welcome to the State Department briefing. I have one short announcement. I'm just drawing your attention, in case you haven't seen it, that there's a background briefing taking place over at the White House this afternoon at 2:00 o'clock. It's basically going to be on an aspect of the developments that did take place in Budapest earlier today. It will be on the trilateral signing ceremony -- U.S., Ukraine and Russia -- and basically talk a little bit about the implications of the NPT accession and the entry into force of START I. So that starts at 2:00 o'clock this afternoon for those of you who might be interested in attending.
Without any further ado, I'd be happy to take your questions on any subject.
Q Can you tell us why Strobe Talbott is going to Haiti this afternoon?
MS. SHELLY: Deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbott, Deputy National Security Adviser Sandy Berger, Deputy Secretary of Defense John Deutch will visit Haiti this afternoon and tomorrow. This is the Acting Secretary's second trip to Haiti since the arrival of the multinational force in September.
The visit will give them an opportunity to gauge progress toward establishing a secure and stable situation, rebuilding Haiti's institutions and reviving the country's economy. In particular, they plan to meet with President Aristide on the progress his government has made in restoring democracy and constitutional order to Haiti and also to consult with leading parliamentarians on when we can expect the upcoming legislative and local elections to take place.
Following their meetings in Haiti, they will travel to Guantanamo for a briefing and tour of camp facilities.
Q Are they going to encourage the government and other interested parties to ensure that the elections take place expeditiously?
MS. SHELLY: I think that all of the international community has an interest in having these elections take place as soon as possible, and certainly President Aristide has also signaled that.
But we understand that there is a certain constitutional process that has to be gone through, including the creation of the electoral council. There is progress which has been recorded toward that end, but based on some remarks last week by the Haitian Prime Minister, it appeared that the elections were not going to be able to be held in the time frame originally signaled, I think, by President Aristide in terms of possibility for elections in December.
So I think it's actually, juridically speaking, up to the electoral council once it's formed to actually designate what the date of elections will be. But I think that all of the parties involved are certainly behind the notion that elections should be held as soon as they're able. But the key point, of course, is having them prepared in a way so that when the elections take place, they can be declared free and fair.
Q But your understanding aside, are you concerned that maybe the process is not moving quite as speedily as it should, as it needs to be?
MS. SHELLY: I think that we also recognize that it's only been approximately six weeks since President Aristide has returned. Haiti has had an enormous number of issues to deal with, and certainly getting the process heading towards elections underway has been a very key point, both for the Haitian Government as well as for the members of the multinational community who are participating in Haiti's stabilization effort.
But we have not put an exact time frame of our own on it by which we felt elections had to take place. We certainly want to help and look to the U.N. to give all of the help that it can to the Haitian Government, to try to have those elections as soon as possible. But, nonetheless, we recognize that the process that Haiti has to go through has suggested that there will be at least somewhat of a short delay.
Q Why are these elections so important?
MS. SHELLY: It's important because they're constitutionally mandated, and they're but another indication that Haiti has returned to democracy.
Q Is this visit in any way related to the prospective hand-off by the multinational force to the U.N. peacekeepers and nation-builders, and so forth?
MS. SHELLY: I wouldn't link it specifically to that. Certainly, issues related to the hand-off are likely to come up in the context of their discussions. But I wouldn't link it specifically to that. Obviously, we're interested and we're concerned, but I think that we feel that the -- we've mentioned many times that we'd like to see a smooth and almost seamless transition from the multinational force to UNMIH. And I think that we are confident that we have very good mechanisms in place which will facilitate making that happen.
I might also just mention on this subject that there is a conference which is going on today at Jackson Place Blair House. The U.S. is using this conference center to discuss the situation on the ground in Haiti and how the current multinational force structure will hand off its responsibilities to UNMIH.
At the conference they plan to discuss civilian and military structures of UNMIH, the structure of the interim police and training forces for the Haitian permanent police force. They'll also discuss other issues such as the election process and the work towards Haiti's economic recovery.
I would note that Acting Secretary Strobe Talbott is also participating in those meetings as are other officials from the Department. The U.N. also has officials participating such as the Defense Department and I think some other parts of the U.S. Government that are involved in Haiti's reconstruction effort.
Representing the U.N. will be Ibrahim Brahimi who, I think you know, is the Special Representative to the Secretary General for Haiti. This is just a one-day conference, I understand. But, as you know, also on the hand-off point, we have a mechanism in place for consultations with the United Nations regarding the issues related to the hand-off, and we continue to hold those discussions on a regular basis. To the best of my knowledge, the preparations are proceeding well.
Q Are Haitian officials at this conference as well?
MS. SHELLY: I'm going to have to check on that. I don't have specific details about Haitian participation, but I'll check and see if I can't get that.
Q Do you have a date yet for the hand-off?
MS. SHELLY: No. The date is not fixed in terms of a day or a week or a month at this point.
Q Do you have a target date yourself?
MS. SHELLY: There may have been various dates talked about as target dates. I'm not aware that there's any particular one that's been decided on. But I think it really relates most specifically to what's laid out in U.N. Security Council resolution, I believe 940, which is that a safe and stable environment can be declared, and that all of the different parties that have been involved in this can report to the Security Council, and then the Security Council can make that determination that the transfer can formally take place.
As you know also, I think last week the Security Council approved a rather sizable increase in the advance team for UNMIH, which is in various stages of deployment down to Port- au-Prince. So certainly the preparations for that are well underway.
Q A Kurdish member of Turkey's parliament wrote a rather impassioned op-ed piece in today's Washington Post about a case that involves herself and seven others, and for which apparently they're facing the death penalty, which she says is just trying to speak out for Kurdish interests in Turkey. And I was wondering if the United States was monitoring this case at all, and what your assessment was.
MS. SHELLY: I have some details on this, but I don't have a lot. So if what I have doesn't answer your specific question, I'll try to get more after the briefing. This is generally on the issue of the parliamentarians who are on trial.
On August 3, a Turkish State Security Court started the trial of six MPs for allegedly advocating a separate Kurdish state, a crime which could result in the death penalty. Five of the MPs are from the now outlawed pro-Kurdish Democracy Party -- the DEP -- and one is an independent. Some are also charged with collusion with the terrorist Kurdistan Workers Party.
We have repeatedly expressed to the Turkish Government our deep concern over the trials and their implications for democracy and freedom of expression in Turkey. It's difficult for most foreign observers to understand how MPs could be stripped of their immunity and put on trial for expressing their thoughts, including in some instances thoughts expressed before the Helsinki Commission of the U.S. Congress and the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.
A verdict is expected on Thursday, December 8. Our policy is not to comment on any possible verdict, of course, before one would be delivered.
Q If you're so concerned about this, how come there hasn't been a public expression about concern before this?
MS. SHELLY: I think that this issue has been one that we've discussed in diplomatic channels, and that we don't always deem that it is the most effective way to have an influence on the issue by making public the details of our exchange.
Q And what's been the response from Turkey so far?
MS. SHELLY: I don't have specific information on that, but I'm not going to promise that we're going to provide one either. I think this is something that we felt a quieter approach was one that was most likely to result in what we hoped would be another look at the issue.
Q Do you think that Turkey's handling of the Kurdish issue is becoming more repressive, less democratic?
MS. SHELLY: I'm not an analyst of this. Let me look into that and see if there's anything else we'd want to say. Certainly the issue generally is one that we are concerned about and we do watch closely, but let me see if we want to say anything more specific.
Q And one more thing: What would happen if Turkey actually executed eight people for basically speaking out in carrying our their political task? MS. SHELLY: That's a strict hypothetical. I'm not going to answer that one.
Q (Inaudible) since you, yourself, say that that's what they're facing.
MS. SHELLY: Right. But since that hasn't happened yet, I don't want to get into the what-if.
Q At what level were our concerns expressed?
MS. SHELLY: I don't have the details on that here.
Q Christine, on another subject. Last week, the Special Prosecutor in the Clinton passport case indicated that there would be no prosecutions. However, in the course of it he was very critical of the former Inspector General Sherman Funk, saying that he appeared to be acting under political considerations. Do you have any reaction to that.
MS. SHELLY: Actually, we had some guidance on that on Friday, and I don't have that with me now. (TO STAFF) Can we get that? Can we come back to that in a couple minutes?
Q With NATO having had encountered such strains over Yugoslavia, it's that much more important to get NATO policy in central Europe right. In that context, I wonder how you view the question of an enlargement of NATO membership? Is it part of the solution, potentially? Is it part of the problem? How does it fit in?
MS. SHELLY: I don't think that it's very appropriate for me to get into that because that's what has been handled at the end of last week out in Brussels. There continues to be overall diplomacy out in Europe -- in Budapest -- with respect to the architecture of Europe questions and which institutions ought to be doing what.
There really is no additional light that I can shed in the last, say, 24 to 36 hours other than to simply point you to a wide extent of comments -- public comments -- that Secretary Christopher has made, And also, of course, today the President, in his participation in the CSCE summit. Since the diplomacy is in Europe at this point which, obviously, touches on Bosnia, it touches on the role of all of the different European institutions and, certainly, also the transatlantic alliance, I'm just really a bit limited in terms of getting to that one at this point.
Q I take it that would apply also for the comments made yesterday by Mr. Dole and Mr. Gingrich in the network news programs in the morning? Specifically, Christine, with regard to Mr. Dole saying: Well, once U.N. forces are out, something about a vigorous bombing campaign being employed?
Mr. Gingrich was saying that warnings would be given to the Serbs; that anything was fair game; that any of their military assets would be fair game. Is there any response the Department would have for --
MS. SHELLY: Before you go much farther on that, the Secretary himself has specifically responded already to the Republican points. There's sort of a three-point plan for Bosnia, and I think I'd just have to refer you to the Press Office to get transcripts of his comments on that.
Q Let me go back to the one point about -- there's a lot of talk now about U.N. withdrawal, to get the U.N. hostages out of the way, U.N. troops out of the way there. Does this look fairly likely according to what the Secretary has said, or what you know?
MS. SHELLY: Again, I don't have anything beyond what the Secretary has said on that. You need to really look through his transcripts. Because, again, I don't want to touch on the policy issues that they may be working on in some way.
Let me just take one second to go back to your question. This is the Department's reaction to the decision -- well, let me just say one thing.
I've got a comment on the general issue. I don't have a comment specifically on the Inspector General himself. I can just tell you, in terms of our decision to the -- our reaction to the decision on not to bring charges against former Bush Administration officials in the case involving the passport files.
The Department is pleased that the investigation is finally over. However, as noted in the press, the report is not yet completed and so therefore we don't have any further comments we wish to make at this time.
Q Do you have anything on the flap over the atomic bomb stamp?
MS. SHELLY: Yes. What specifically would you like to ask me?
Q What is the United States telling the Japanese about this in response to their complaints?
MS. SHELLY: First, in terms of background for those who may not be following this issue closely, we understand that the Postal Service has announced plans to issue in 1995 a sheet of ten stamps commemorating World War II events from 1945. The sheet is part of a five-year series with a total of 50 different commemorative stamps. Four sheets have already been issued covering the events from 1941 to 1944.
The stamps are not intended for the general public but rather for philatelists. One of the ten stamps in the 1995 sheet portrays a photograph of a nuclear explosion with the caption "Atomic Bombs Hasten Wars End: August 1945."
The Japanese Government has been in contact with us here and in Tokyo to express its concerns regarding the planned commemorative stamp. The Japanese were informed that the State Department had already been in discussion on the issue with the U.S. Postal Service.
I understand that no final decision on the issue of the stamp has yet been made and that the matter is still under consideration.
Q Does that mean that you're asking them not to issue the stamp?
SC: I don't want to, at this point, indicate specifically what we've said to the Postal Service. We certainly are very well aware of the Japanese sensitivities in this regard. I think that that has certainly been one of the things that we have been discussing with the Postal Service.
But as to exactly the nature of our exchange with them, I think at this point I don't want to get into a public discussion of our exchanges with them.
Q But to make sure I understand. Did you say that you actually went to the Postal Service before you heard from the Japanese or after you heard from the Japanese?
MS. SHELLY: Before. We had already been in discussion with them before.
Q So, clearly, you wouldn't be talking with them if you liked it? I mean, there wouldn't be any reason to sort of talk with them if you really liked it.
MS. SHELLY: I think that when we became aware of the plans and this particular stamp is part of the series, we certainly anticipated that there was likely to be a lot of sensitivity. When the Japanese came in to discuss with us, what they conveyed to us expressed sentiment exactly along the lines that we had anticipated.
Q When was the last time the State Department discussed stamps with the Postal Service?
MS. SHELLY: When was the last time?
MS. SHELLY: At least as recently as last Friday and possibly today as well.
Q I meant before this stamp became an issue. Was there a previous stamp that was an issue that was of concern to the State Department?
MS. SHELLY: That is really a tough one for me to answer. Thinking back on my -- I think this is the part where I'm supposed to tell you that I'm not a philatelist in the State Department mode.
I'll try to check and see if we have had similar issues come up in the past. I'm not specifically aware of any.
Q What is there about Japanese sensitivities not historical -- inaccuracies in the stamp, or something like that?
MS. SHELLY: No. I think the issue is simply -- one is, the Postal Service is obviously free to make decisions regarding their commemorative stamp selection. But, on the other hand, the degree to which there might be issues that would touch on exchanges that we might have or our relationships with other countries, obviously, the State Department would have an interest in that.
I'm not expressing a kind of generic policy on this. I think the issue is one that we anticipated was going to arouse some concern.
Q Has the House Committee on Postal Service been consulted about this?
MS. SHELLY: Has the committee?
Q The committee of the House that deals with the Postal Services and stamps.
MS. SHELLY: The committee of the House? You're talking about the Congress -- the House of Representatives? I don't know. I don't have detailed information on that.
Q The State Department hasn't consulted with the House committee on this?
MS. SHELLY: I don't know. I wouldn't specifically rule out that we have, but I don't have information with me that suggests that we have.
Q The committee passes on new stamps, and I was just wondering whether or not this wouldn't be the way to go -- whether this was the way the State Department is proceeding, if it wants to eliminate this stamp from the series -- is to go through the Congressional authority that deals with stamps except on its own policy of commemoratives, which is something else?
MS. SHELLY: I'll check on that point. Sid.
Q Christine, as a result of these discussions, the Post Service is rethinking --
MS. SHELLY: I'm not going to get into characterizing what the Postal Service's position is.
Q Nothing had been decided?
MS. SHELLY: Yes.
Q They had planned to issue this stamp. You all talked to them, and now you're saying, nothing final has been decided?
MS. SHELLY: What I said is, the matter is still under consideration, and no final decision has been made.
Q Consideration by whom?
MS. SHELLY: By presumably the Postal Service.
Q The Syrian Foreign Minister over the weekend blamed the stalled peace talks on the failure of Bill Clinton's meeting. I was wondering if you shared the opinion that the U.S. at least shoulders some blame for the lack of progress on that track?
MS. SHELLY: First of all, I'm not sure that we would characterize the nature of the diplomacy at this point or of the contacts as "no progress." Secretary Christopher has said many, many times that progress will be incremental, and so therefore we should not have exaggerated expectations about how quickly things will move.
This is a process that we're committed to over the longer term, and we will, of course, be involved in our own diplomacy whenever it appears that we can advance progress between the parties.
But as the Secretary, as you know, is about to go off to Damascus tomorrow and to engage in another round of diplomacy in the region, I think it would not be an appropriate subject for me, really, to get into in any depth.
Q Can I ask a follow to that if, in hindsight, you feel that the meeting between the President and Assad was wise?
MS. SHELLY: I think that specific characterizations regarding President Clinton's meetings are most appropriately posed at the White House.
MS. SHELLY: The Secretary's schedule?
Q By the way, as far as the Middle East goes --
MS. SHELLY: No, I don't have it.
Q But he goes to Damascus first?
MS. SHELLY: As far as I know, he goes to Damascus first and then on for discussions with Israeli officials, and then after that I'm not sure that the schedule is locked in concrete at this point.
Q The same day he goes then on to Israel?
MS. SHELLY: The schedule has been in some flux, as is often the case in the region. There may be a schedule that's fixed at this point, but I don't have the details of that.
Q Do you have something to say about the debate in the Israeli Cabinet about amending the Declaration of Principles, and then we'll go later on to the Compliance Report that you put out on Friday (inaudible).
MS. SHELLY: Certainly we're aware of the fact that the debate has been taking place, and just generally our policy is to support the agreements that are arrived at by the parties, and to note that as the parties are actively discussing this matter, I think it's inappropriate for us to comment further at this point.
Q You mean inappropriate to comment publicly? Is anything being done privately?
MS. SHELLY: Of course we are interested in this. We are following this, and I gave you our general position with respect to the agreement. But I don't think that we feel it would be helpful at this point for us to insert ourselves into the middle of this discussion.
Q So what you're saying, Christine, is that you think that Israeli troops should go ahead and withdraw, and they should hold the elections as scheduled?
MS. SHELLY: Sid, I'm not going to get trapped by questions of that type.
Q Well, you said you supported the agreement.
MS. SHELLY: We support the agreements arrived at by the parties.
Q That's the agreement. Why can't you say that?
MS. SHELLY: Because I've said what I'd like to say on it, and I don't want to start down the slope.
Q That's what Dennis would like you to say.
MS. SHELLY: That's what a good briefer does. They use the guidances they're given.
Q On the Compliance Report that was put out on Friday, did the State Department consult with the Senate and House members who voted for the amendment or who led it in the formation of the amendment that a foreign aid bill eliminating the national interests loophole in the Compliance Report that is in the report?.
MS. SHELLY: As to the exact nature of any congressional briefings or contacts that we've had on this, I'm going to have to check. I don't have the details of that with me.
Q There's an interesting point here that the United States in the Compliance Report -- I think it's on Page 11 -- says to the effect that it's imperative for the peace process - - doesn't fail. No matter what is happening, if it doesn't fail, does Arafat have to be the leader of the Palestinian movement all the way through on this?
MS. SHELLY: Again, I'm just not going to get into questions of that type. It is not helpful for me to kind of start an independent stream of remarks and opinions on things at a time when the Secretary is just about to leave for the region. So I'd like to help you, but I don't think that's a productive direction.
Q Can you tell us whether or not the Secretary will meet with Mr. Arafat on his visit to the Middle East?
MS. SHELLY: I don't have the exact details on this. As far as I know, the Secretary would expect to do that during this trip, but again I'm not announcing it. I'm not giving a formal signal. But I would guess that a meeting of that kind certainly could well take place.
Q Can you tell us what the position of the United States is regarding the agreement that apparently has been made between the PLO and the Kingdom of Jordan on Jerusalem?
MS. SHELLY: I don't have any comment on that.
Q Well, the United States is a full partner in these proceedings. Doesn't it have some sort of a position as to Jordan and the PLO deciding what is in -- what the future of Jerusalem should be?
MS. SHELLY: Our position on Jerusalem remains unchanged since the last time and the previous time and all of the other times that we have articulated it. I don't have anything to announce on that score today, and I would say as a general matter we have found that when we do wish to offer views, that they are best offered in private with the parties and not from this podium.
Q Just one more brief one, if I could. Have the talks begun with the North Korean experts, and do you have any progress to report on that, Christine?
MS. SHELLY: I put out a press release on that late on Friday afternoon, indicating that the talks were going to be starting today. I think it's today, or is it tomorrow?
MS. SHELLY: They start tomorrow on the 6th.
Q Oh, it's tomorrow.
MS. SHELLY: Yes. They start tomorrow on the 6th. They run through the 9th, and we will not be providing a kind of day-by-day rundown on them, but we will provide a briefing at the end.
Q A briefing at the end on the 10th?
MS. SHELLY: I'm not going to say which day. I don't know at this point.
Q But you'll let us know as soon as you can?
MS. SHELLY: Yes. I'll let you know as soon as I can.
Q Thank you.
(The briefing concluded at 1:31 p.m.)
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