U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE OFFICE OF THE SPOKESMAN DAILY PRESS BRIEFING DECEMBER 7, 1994 U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE DAILY PRESS BRIEFING I N D E X Wednesday, December 7, 1994 Briefer: Christine Shelly SUMMIT OF THE AMERICAS White House Briefing Today .........................1 ARMS CONTROL Under Secretary Davis' Speech to Atlantic Council ..1 BOSNIA UN Withdrawal of Troops from Bihac .................1-5,9 Contingency Planning for Troop Withdrawal ..........2-3 No-Fly Zone/Enforcement ............................3-4 Contact Group Proposal .............................5-6 -- Prospects for Renewed Negotiations .............5 Humanitarian Aid ...................................7-9 NORTH KOREA Expert-Level Meetings with US ......................9 ALGERIA U.S. Policy ........................................9 JAPAN US Stamp Featuring Atomic Bomb Explosion ...........10-11
DEPARTMENT OF STATE DAILY PRESS BRIEFING
WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 7, 1994, 12:56 P.M. (ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED)
MS. SHELLY: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. I have two short announcements, and then I'll go directly to your questions.
First of all, as I think you may be aware, for the Summit of the Americas, there is a White House briefing at 1:30 this afternoon. That's an On-the-Record briefing. The Administration speakers with be Treasury Secretary Bentsen, Commerce Secretary Brown, U.S. Trade Representative Kantor, and Under Secretary of State Joan Spero.
The second announcement: I just want to draw your attention to a speech which will be given by Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security Affairs, Lynn Davis. She's going to be addressing the Atlantic Council of the United States on non-proliferation. This will take place on Thursday, December 8, at 4:00 p.m. at the Council headquarters in Washington. For more information concerning coverage of the event, I encourage you to contact the Atlantic Council at (202)778-4945. We'll also post an announcement with that same information.
MS. SHELLY: Topic? Non-proliferation.
Q In general?
MS. SHELLY: Generally. Questions?
Q There was a bulletin before we came in. Anyhow, it's been widely rumored for a day and a half now that the U.N. is going to start pulling out some of the Bangladeshi in Bihac. They're calling it temporary and a redeployment. Is that a fair description? Are they ever going to go back?
MS. SHELLY: I would have to generally refer you to the U.N. on that. I just know that they have announced that they're withdrawing half of their contingent from the Bihac pocket beginning today if the circumstances on the ground permitted them to do so.
We do understand that the Bangladeshi unit in Velika Kladusa will be redeployed elsewhere in Bosnia.
UNPROFOR, I understand, has also restated that it has no plans to withdraw from other locations in Bosnia-Herzegovina. So I think as to what that means, I don't have a lot to say on that score. I think it's a clear reflection of what the security situation is in the Bihac pocket and probably a perception that those troops can probably be more effectively utilized in another location.
Q Christine, however, the French have said today that they want the United Nations to begin immediately to do some contingency planning for the withdrawal of UNPROFOR. Does the United States think that such contingency planning is a wise and prudent thing to do?
MS. SHELLY: Barrie, I think as you know, the subject generally of the continued viability of the UNPROFOR mission is very much on the minds of everyone these days. Certainly, the French, the British, the Russians as well, have indicated that they're also taking a hard look at this.
I think we continue to believe that UNPROFOR performs a very valid function in Bosnia against a backdrop of very, very difficult circumstances. Nonetheless, with events as they are with UNPROFOR peacekeepers continuing to be held hostage and with the type of harassment which is continuing against the delivery of humanitarian goods, for example, I think it's only prudent for all of those who are participants in the operation to take a good, hard look at it. And if the circumstances were to evolve that any of the nations that were participating would decide to withdraw, it's clear that they would need to rely on the contingency planning being done by the United Nations or by NATO or by any of the national governments so concerned.
I think the overwhelming share of contingency planning at this point is being done under NATO auspices, and we, of course, are also participating in that planning. But I don't have a lot else to tell you.
We certainly continue to support UNPROFOR's presence there and believe that it is performing a valuable function. We hope that the situation on the ground and the incidents of harassment and hostage-taking could be significantly diminished, if not eliminated all together, so that UNPROFOR could get on with its most important tasks, which are clearly trying to provide a stabilizing presence in Bosnia and also trying to make sure that the humanitarian goods reach the individuals and areas in question which truly need it.
Q You aren't confirming that NATO is currently engaged in real-time contingency planning for withdrawal of UNPROFOR?
MS. SHELLY: Yes. I don't believe that that's anything new. I think we have said that and other officials have said that before -- that NATO has been engaged in that and we have been engaged through NATO and also participating in that planning.
Q Might U.S. assets be used in any pullout in bringing these people out of the Bihac pocket?
MS. SHELLY: I certainly would expect that if such a decision were made that the U.S. would participate. The exact form of that participation, should that become necessary -- and, again, let me stress that this is very hypothetical as no such request has been received -- the U.S. would certainly expect to participate, although the exact form in which we would participate has not yet been decided.
Q Christine, in the withdrawal of the Bangladeshi -- just to bring down to what's going on today -- does the Administration support the use of NATO airpower to protect that withdrawal?
MS. SHELLY: If NATO airpower were called in, in support of any of the activity that was affecting UNPROFOR forces, that's something that we have supported, and I would expect that we would continue to support that.
Q So we would reverse what we've been saying the last week -- that NATO airpower can do no good in Bosnia?
MS. SHELLY: I don't think that I have heard one U.S. official say that NATO airpower can do no good in Bosnia.
Q Then why did they stop flying air patrols?
MS. SHELLY: It's not my understanding that they have stopped flying air patrols. There was some discussion during a brief interval about the mechanics of that. There was some exchange between NATO and the U.N. on that. But after, I think, some initial confusion about the status of "no-fly" zone activities and NATO's participation in that, I believe that Secretary Christopher responded very clearly that he had some discussions on this. His understanding was that NATO's participation in the "no-fly" zone was still continuing.
Q Right. But when the Serbs activated those 30-or- so surface-to-air missile sites, NATO dropped off its activity to almost nothing except for AWACS activity monitoring the "no- fly" zone. Are you saying now that the United States is willing to risk those surface-to-air missile strikes in protecting the Bangladeshi withdrawal?
MS. SHELLY: Sid, first of all, when planes have been in the air -- this has never been a very simple operation. I'm not a military planner, and I'm not the place to look to for the details on this and we wouldn't put it out anyway. But when planes have been in the air, there usually has been a fairly large number that have been involved in a number of different activities, including also watching very carefully what's happening on the ground to be sure that planes that were performing certain missions also had coverage from a safety point of view for those who were engaging in the exact mission themselves.
It's not just a question of a single plane or two that's up flying around. There's also the whole question of protection.
How NATO's planes are actually being used at any given moment, whether it's closed air support or enforcement of a "no-fly" zone, those are really operational details that I'm not privy to on a real-time basis. Again, the right place to direct that question is not toward me. It's toward those who are involved in making those operational decisions out in the field.
Q On the Bangladeshi -- one more question. It's been speculated, or fears have been expressed that in any evacuation of U.N. troops, they might come under attack from one or both sides to the conflict, is this a (inaudible) test of the ability to pull troops out peacefully?
MS. SHELLY: I'm simply not in a position to make that judgment. The concerns that you mentioned, certainly, are real concerns. They're the kind of things that weigh on the mind of contingency planners. But I don't think I would draw too much of an inference from this particular movement. They clearly, again, feel the need to do this and feel that those troops can be better utilized if they can be moved to another location.
So I think the facts relating to this particular movement probably relate to that and not to something from which you should necessarily make a broad generalization.
Q Christine, to just go back to your previous statement. Secretary Perry, just about an hour ago, said in an interview with the wire services that air strikes would not be useful. He didn't perceive a use of air power over Bosnia until all the peacekeepers were withdrawn. How does that jive with what your saying, that the U.S. would support the use of NATO airpower to withdraw the peacekeepers, if necessary?
MS. SHELLY: I'm not going to specifically respond to the Perry statement. As I understood that this interview -- his interview -- with the wires was essentially terminating less than an hour ago. I haven't had a chance to see the remarks, and so therefore I cannot look at something he said and then try to necessarily track it or square it with something specific I've said.
But I think NATO has always been very clear that it has been willing to do those things which the U.N. has asked of it. We have also made it very clear that the United States has continued to give full support to NATO's support for the U.N. operation. But I can't key off specific things that Perry said because I haven't had a chance to see what he said.
Q Mr. Karadzic has said today that he is interested now in resuming discussions with the Contact Group, evidently because of the information that has recently been conveyed to President Milosevic in Belgrade. That seems to imply that the Contact Group has signaled a willingness to make some kind of concessions. What might they be?
MS. SHELLY: Again, there was a Contact Group ministerial, and there was a declaration that came out of that, and I think that that speaks for itself. There have been some public statements, I think -- and I haven't had a chance to study all of them -- but some public statements which suggest that perhaps Mr. Karadzic is rethinking their position which, as you know, in the most recent time frame has not been to sit down at the negotiating table. It's rather been to continue to wage war.
I think that the specific point that you mentioned is very clearly addressed in the context of the Contact Group communique, which is simply that once the Bosnian Serbs were to accept the Contact Group Plan and Map, that the territorial issues and also the constitutional arrangements are something that at that point can be on the table and can be worked out between the parties.
So there isn't any change in that point. What it is that may have led Mr. Karadzic to perhaps soften his position on re- engaging with the Contact Group, it's hard for me to know what moves him. But if that is an indication of an increased willingness to sit down and try to find a more permanent solution to the problem and to re-engage in a constructive way -- which would from our view still include acceptance of the Contact Group Map and Plan -- that, of course, would be a positive development.
Q Is that what he may have meant by "new interpretation"?
MS. SHELLY: Again, I think that's the same question, just simply in a shorter way posed by Barrie, so --
Q I know, but I just wanted to clarify, because that's what he's quoted on the wires as saying, that you and he had new interpretations from Milosevic.
MS. SHELLY: I think the Contact Group's proposal has been stated pretty clearly. He may have some new interpretation of something. It's hard for me to know what his previous interpretation was; so, therefore, it's also hard for me to bounce off what the new one may be. But again if it's some kind of an indication that he's thinking about returning to negotiations, that could be a positive development.
Q Yesterday a positive development -- thought to be a positive development in the Serbs' willingness to swap out the ill Jordanian peacekeeper for two other hostages. What do you think about their disingenuousness in taking the two hostages and keeping the Jordanian, and in light of that how can you have any confidence whatsoever in anything that Karadzic or any of these people say to you?
MS. SHELLY: I wouldn't offer the view that this one particular statement is changing our view about confidence in the motives or the genuineness of Bosnian Serb motives at this point. I think that there is a systematic pattern of harassment, of convoys. Any number of hostages taken, not just one who happens to be sick -- but any hostage taken is one too many, and each of these promises that the Bosnian Serbs have made to release UNPROFOR hostages -- they have not been met.
There's been nothing more than handfuls of UNPROFOR troops released, and then it seems that each time there is a development in that regard, it's countered by a new collection or some other new kind of offensive activity. So actions clearly speak louder than words, and thus far the actions do not seem to support a more specific approach to dealing with the crisis.
Q Would you be so flexible with the Bosnian Serbs if those were U.S. soldiers they were holding?
MS. SHELLY: Sid, that's hypothetical question, and I certainly can't answer that. Despite the fact that we do not have American troops on the ground there, we have expressed, I think, on repeated occasions a sensitivity for the plight of the countries whose soldiers are participating in UNPROFOR, and a hostage is a hostage; and it's not more acceptable for hostages of one nationality to be taken than it is of another.
Q Pakistani President Farooq Leghari, who is currently in China -- he said that Pakistan has not bought any M-11 ballistic missiles, and that the two countries have not violated the MTCR. Do you have a reaction to that or comment?
MS. SHELLY: I can probably get a reaction to that. I don't have any specific new information on that today, and I was not aware of the travel, but our position on this is, I think, well known, and I'll be happy to restate that publicly this afternoon in our taken question format.
Q Go back to Bosnia for a second. You said that you think UNPROFOR has been performing valuable services. In the last several years as winter is coming on, fighting has tended to stop and the humanitarian issues have gotten much more serious in the winters. What do you think about the need to have UNPROFOR forces there during the winter or get them out before it?
MS. SHELLY: I think in the winter their presence there is probably more important than ever. I know there's been a lot of interest in the humanitarian situation. So if I may take a minute or so to kind of do a review of that -- it's not a long one, but it's a quick review of where things are in central Bosnia and the enclaves, and let me just sort of quickly go through that.
The situation in central Bosnia -- and of course I'm referring to the contiguous Federation territory of Bosnia- Herzegovina -- that situation is relatively stable. UNHCR was able this winter to preposition the winterization materials throughout the spring and the early fall, so that situation, I think, is better than it has been in some previous winters. Also, the spring and fall harvests were good and commercial traffic has been able to operate relatively normally.
The situation, as you certainly know, has been much worse, however, for Sarajevo, for Bihac and for the other enclaves, as well as for those near the front lines, the recently displaced, and the minorities, of course, in the Bosnian Serb controlled areas.
In Sarajevo, where there's an estimated population of somewhere between 280-300,000, they are very, very dependent on relief deliveries. The last convoy reaching Sarajevo was November 19, and the last UNHCR airlift was November 21. UNHCR intends to try to make a regular food distribution on December 12.
In Bihac, the estimated population for the enclave is somewhere in the range of 180-200,000. That includes a population of about 70,000 in Bihac town, of which about 20,000 are displaced persons.
The last convoy to reach the pocket was September 29. The last convoys to reach Bihac town and Cazin were May 16. Today the Krajina Serbs gave clearance for a ten-truck convoy for Cazin, which, as you know, is in the middle of the pocket where there are many displaced persons, and the UNHCR plans to get those convoys moving tomorrow.
In Srebrenica there's an estimated population of about 45,000. The last convoy there was November 16. Three convoys arrived yesterday, and I'm told one arrived today.
In Gorazde, where there's an estimated population of 60- 65,000, the last convoy arrived November 17, and one convoy arrived today.
In Zepa, where there's an estimated population of 15,000, they are very, very dependent on relief deliveries. The last convoy was November 16, and one convoy arrived today. This week the Bosnian Serbs allowed heating fuel into the eastern enclaves for the first time in a long time.
We're not going to be in a position to, sort of, do this day-by-day, which I'm sure those of you who are not riveted by this, will be relieved to know, but there is the UNHCR Public Information Office in Washington. Their number is 296-5191, and they in fact do have pretty detailed information on this on a daily basis.
But your point, I think, which was perhaps not designed to elicit a lot of specific information, but I think probably looked for an assessment point -- I think overall the number of Bosnians cut off from humanitarian deliveries is less; and perhaps, I think, the estimate is less than half of the situation compared to last winter.
But the suffering in many of the areas depends on the amount of relief which the Pale Serbs allow to pass through the territory which they happen to control.
Q What happened to the idea of air drops?
MS. SHELLY: Air drops, I think, at the moment -- let me just check on that. I had some guidance on this. Air drops to Sarajevo have been temporarily suspended as an assessment has been made regarding the SAM missile sites. I don't know about air drops in other parts of Bosnia, and I'd have to check on that point.
Q North Korean's delegation is here in Washington right now for establishment of their liaison office. Can you give us some more detailed information about North Korean- U.S. talks?
MS. SHELLY: I really can't. We're not going to do a kind of day-by-day rundown on this. We're going to provide a briefing the day after tomorrow in connection with the Daily Press Briefing. So I'm not really in a position to give a kind of day-by-day readout. I checked on how the talks went yesterday, and I think that they are proceeding normally. I think that's about as far as I can go on a characterization. But they're continuing today, tomorrow and expected to conclude on Friday, and we will then give a rundown at that time.
Q Could I just go back to the hostage question again? You said a lot of things, but you didn't call on them to release the hostages. Do we want them to release the hostages?
MS. SHELLY: I think I made it pretty clear when I said even one hostage is one too many. Yes, of course, we call on them to release the hostages and to meet the commitments that they, themselves, have made regarding the release of hostages to UNPROFOR within the last week.
My not saying that specifically did not imply that that was not our position.
Q I'd like to ask you about another area -- Algeria. What does the U.S. do to influence the situation in Algeria, because it is understood that you are talking to both sides. There are some (inaudible) representatives here, and you're also talking to the Government. Journalists are being killed all the time in Algeria, and the State Department doesn't make any statement to condemn or say something about what's going on there.
MS. SHELLY: The United States has made -- the State Department has made statements and issued statements formally on many occasions in the past in connection with the Algeria crisis. We do continue to have dialogue with all of the parties concerned.
We continue to counsel reconciliation and dialogue. We would like to see an end to the kind of terror and killings which have continued. I don't have a specific formal statement on that today. You might also check with our Press Office after the briefing because there have been many times when Algeria stories have been, I think, more prominent than they are necessarily at this exact moment. We have had a lot of guidance which has gone into considerable detail about the U.S. position, as well as on the recent exchanges which we have had with the Algerian Government and others in our efforts to try to bring our influence to bear.
Q One quick question.
MS. SHELLY: About Bosnia again, by any chance?
Q On Jordan. You probably don't have it but you can get something later -- where Jordan's request to buy offensive weapons from the United States currently stands?
MS. SHELLY: Yes. I don't have an answer on that. I'm not even going to promise formally an answer on this while the Secretary is travelling in the region, but let me see what I can work up on that.
Q Perry went on about it a little bit so --
MS. SHELLY: It's not my jurisdiction over here.
Q Christine, do you have anything more today on the stamp controversy? Has anything happened or going to happen?
MS. SHELLY: I'm told that the issue is under consideration. So there's nothing new on this beyond what we've reported over the last couple of days.
Q And can you tell me who is going to make the decision on the final -- whether to print or not to print?
MS. SHELLY: I can't specifically identify the individual in question. The issue, of course, has been looked at, certainly, here. It's also been looked at, again I think, by the U.S. Postal Service and also the White House has also looked into the issue as well, given the public controversy that it has created.
So I don't have anything more to tell you beyond the fact that it's under consideration now and that no final decision regarding the publication of the stamp has yet been taken.
Q Do you have any idea when a final decision will be taken?
MS. SHELLY: No, I don't have any information on that.
Q Has (inaudible) spoken with the Japanese or with the Postal Service since last Friday?
MS. SHELLY: Yes, we have had discussions with both of them since last Friday.
Q What more did you have to say to them? What more do you have to say to the Postal Service?
MS. SHELLY: I don't have anything more to say publicly about the nature of those exchanges except to simply say that we continue to have discussions on it.
Q (Press briefing concluded at 1:23 p.m.)
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