U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE OFFICE OF THE SPOKESMAN DAILY PRESS BRIEFING DECEMBER 15, 1994 U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE DAILY PRESS BRIEFING I N D E X Thursday, December 15, 1994 Briefer: Michael McCurry ANNOUNCEMENTS New Assistance to Palestinian Refugees ..........1 US Efforts to Curb Terrorist Fund Raising in US .1 Secretary's Year End Review on Tuesday ..........2 BOSNIA Former President Carter's Efforts to End Conflict ......................................2-10 -- Discussions with President/Secretary ........2-3,11 -- USG Briefings/Assistance ....................4,7-8 Karadzic Proposal vs. Contact Group Proposal ....3-7,10-11 -- Bosnian Response ............................6-7 Secretary's Contacts with UN/Allies .............4-6
DEPARTMENT OF STATE DAILY PRESS BRIEFING
THURSDAY, DECEMBER 15, 1994, 12:43 P.M. (ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED)
MR. McCURRY: I'm glad that you're all here. Welcome to the State Department. This is our Daily Briefing. I have only one or two things to call attention to at the start.
We're going to be posting a statement later in the afternoon on some new assistance to Palestinian refugees. This grows out of the work of the Refugee Working Group which Canada chairs. They've been meeting in Turkey over the past several days and have put out a statement, but we've got some of our own projects that we'll be putting some specific attention to; and a statement, I think, will be ready early this afternoon -- maybe l:30 or so. Maybe even just after the briefing.
Also on the follow-up on yesterday, we had a question on where we stand in our review of the legislative changes that might be recommended to figure out ways that we can curb financial contributions to terrorist groups coming from the United States. I'm told that there's an intensive inter- agency review of that under way now by looking at sort of existing counter-terrorism statutes, related laws.
They're looking at how they might expand and strengthen the enforcement of those statutes. They've got some very specific proposals they're beginning to discuss within the U.S. Government to deal with the problem of terrorist fund- raising in the United States, as well as the broader problem generally of international terrorism.
They've got representatives from State, Justice, Defense, Treasury, NSC, and the intelligence community; they've been meeting over the past several months, and those meetings will continue.
I think that's something that might be interesting to continue to check in on.
We had one taken question from yesterday that we didn't post, but I can post it. It was a question that came up in a Washington Times story about Cyprus. I guess I didn't bring that with me. Did I not bring it?
Well, it's done. It wasn't posted yesterday, but it's done and available in the Press Office.
One last housekeeping matter. We had a discussion at the end of the briefing yesterday about the Secretary doing some type of end-of- the-year review session with all of you before he leaves, and we are going to try to schedule that on a limited space- available basis -- probably for Tuesday afternoon, for your planning purposes. That will be a good excuse not to have to do a briefing that day.
Q Do you have a rough time in mind?
MR. McCURRY: I was thinking around 4:00. I know that's late.
MR. McCURRY: We're not looking at spot news so much. This is sort of a year-end thing for people who are working on that sort of deal.
Andrea Mitchell shakes her head, so that means we'll probably have to do it earlier. (Laughter)
Q No. It's up to you, Mike.
MR. McCURRY: All right. We'll do it earlier.
I see where that's going! (Laughter) I'll cave now while I'm ahead of the game.
Q So it's 2:30, right? (Laughter)
MR. McCURRY: Is that the time -- 2:30? We'll look. Actually, we have to adjust the Secretary's schedule a little bit, so we will let you know further. This is just an advance billing.
With all of those chores done, we turn to Mr. Gedda for his breathless questioning of the State Department Spokesman. (Laughter)
Q What do you have on the conversation that the Secretary had with Jimmy Carter on Bosnia?
MR. McCURRY: I have whatever you want to know about it, I guess.
Let me go back a little bit and just review. This happened fairly late. It became public fairly late in the day after both Radovan Karadzic and Jimmy Carter conducted interviews with Cable News Network exclusively -- rubbing it in.
The White House, as you know, said last night that President Clinton and other Administration officials had been briefed by President Carter on the initiatives that Karadzic outlined to President Carter. As you know, we said and we remain skeptical about the intentions of the Bosnian Serbs only because we have seen so many promises and so many initiatives fail in the past because of Bosnian Serb refusal to make good on the promises they've made to the international community.
So, for us, the important thing now is to see that these initiatives advanced by the Bosnian Serbs turn into concrete steps on the ground that can alleviate the suffering that the citizens of Bosnia are enduring because of this conflict and see steps that can ease tensions between the parties and see those things happen which can create a climate for a continuation of the diplomatic effort to bring this conflict to an end.
Now, all of these things are not bad things that Karadzic has outlined. They, indeed, would be good things for the people of Bosnia; but they must be followed by a determined effort to reach a cease-fire, a country-wide cessation of hostilities, and a renewed effort to negotiate a settlement to this conflict based on the premises set forth in the Contact Group's proposal. That is, the existing international proposal that would bring this conflict to an end. That is the starting point for a discussion about bringing the conflict to an end, and it will remain so.
I believe President Carter, to my understanding, shares that view.
Secretary Christopher -- George, to your specific question -- had a very good conversation, a very cordial conversation, with former President Carter this morning. They talked at some length about the current situation on the ground.
One of the things that the Secretary offered to do is to keep the former President advised as to whether or not those things that Karadzic stipulated are being honored on the ground, and at the moment we have a very mixed picture of that. There are some reports that convoy traffic is moving, but there have been no reports of release of prisoners under age l9 or any substantial departure in the Bosnian Serbs view of human rights. These are among the things that Karadzic has pledged.
We will remain in contact with former President Carter, providing him information about our assessment of what's going on on the ground.
I suspect he'll get a visit down in Plains from U.S. Government folks. Probably Ambassador Bob Frasier, who has been working closely with the Contact Group out of European Bureau, and Sandy Vershbow over at the NSC. They'll probably go down and continue some briefings that we've already started for the former President.
Ambassador Charlie Thomas, who is our Contact Group liaison -- the expert who is our representative to the Contact Group -- has been in close touch with Harry Barnes who works for former President Carter out of the Carter Center. I think Mr. Barnes, in fact, is here in the building today, meeting with others and gathering information about the situation in Bosnia.
Again, the former President has made quite clear he does not intend to travel unless he sees that those steps promised by the Bosnian Serbs are carried forth, and we believe that's very prudent on his part. We certainly think that's the right posture.
Beyond that, let me use a couple of other things that the Secretary has been doing.
He did have two conversations last night with Secretary General Boutros-Ghali so that the Secretary General would be aware of the approach that Karadzic made to former President Carter.
He has also talked to Foreign Minister Juppe of France -- that was yesterday earlier in the day -- and Foreign Secretary Hurd, who he talked to today, just to sound them out both on their assessment of the approach that Karadzic has now made to former President Carter, and then also to preview the meeting coming up in The Hague on Monday of the Chiefs of Defense, which General Shalikashvili will attend representing the United States.
So I believe that is a fairly thorough rundown of where things are at this moment.
I guess I'd just summarize by saying, we continue to feel the conflict will be resolved when the parties themselves -- that is, when the Bosnian Government and the Bosnian Serbs -- sit down, using the Contact Group proposal as their basis for a settlement, and negotiate an end to this conflict.
That is likely not to happen as a result of anything that Karadzic has proposed because those steps are, indeed, things that he should be doing anyhow under U.N. resolutions; but perhaps they will create that type of climate that can lead to that type of negotiation.
If so, that would be positive, but we will certainly have to wait and see how that develops.
Q Doesn't this, though, become an end-run around the contact of negotiations and undercut that process?
MR. McCURRY: No, not at all. Former President Carter made clear - - in fact, he said so publicly last night -- he does not intend to negotiate an end to this conflict. If things go forward and the Bosnian Serbs follow through on their promises and he's in a position to help nurture a climate in which there can be a negotiation, that would be useful.
But I think he made quite clear that he doesn't intend to become a negotiator in the sense of someone who is going to bring these parties to the table to resolve the conflict once and for all.
The parties themselves ultimately have to do that. The United States is not a party to that negotiation. We have advanced ideas through the Contact Group. One of the things that Secretary Christopher suggested to the former President today is that anything he could do to sort of remove the Bosnian Serbs towards the approach that had been outlined by the Contact Group would be helpful.
Q Karadzic, in his comments last night on CNN, was describing something very different from the Contact Group proposal. I particularly wanted to ask your response to his comments about the constitutional issue of two states?
MR. McCURRY: He outlined the view of constitutional arrangements and a configuration of territory that is vastly at odds with the Contact Group proposal.
As you know, we believe the Contact Group proposal is the basis for a settlement of this conflict; although we acknowledge that the parties themselves, if they can negotiate together and come to agreement, could make adjustments. They would start, if that is the position of the Bosnian Serbs as represented by Karadzic, at a very far distance apart. So there doesn't seem to be much basis there for optimism in thinking that they would use that as a formula for ending the war.
Again, we will have to wait and see. It's all, in some sense, speculative until we know whether or not they are going to move on the first things they've promised. They've already promised to do six very specific things, and it will be easy to know whether or not they mean it within the next day or so. So we'll have to watch that first and foremost, I think.
Q Have you had any communication with the Bosnian Government since this came out -- your response? The second part of that: was the Juppe discussion before the Karadzic proposal became known?
MR. McCURRY: Yes.
Q And what did Hurd say? Three questions, I guess.
MR. McCURRY: Let me take them in reverse order. Secretary Christopher did review with Foreign Secretary Hurd the Carter exchange with Karadzic. I should leave it really to the British to characterize Foreign Secretary Hurd's view. Although I would say that we heard nothing that would indicate they are any less skeptical than we are about whether or not this initiative by Karadzic, or these measures advanced by Karadzic will add up to anything. They shared an assessment of that.
But as I said earlier, Steve, they spent a lot of time reviewing the meeting that is going to be held in The Hague on Monday.
The Secretary did speak with Foreign Minister Juppe prior to the public discussion of the Karadzic measures yesterday. That was, again, a phone call that reviewed the meeting of Chiefs of Defense that is scheduled for Monday.
Number Three -- I went in reverse order -- Steve, what was the other part of that question?
Q What did the Bosnian Serb Government say?
MR. McCURRY: First of all, we've encouraged former President Carter, if he goes, to remain in close contact with the Bosnian Government. As you know, we said last night that the Contact Group proposal must be the basis for a settlement because it recognizes the territorial integrity of Bosnia- Herzegovina and it also, we believe, holds the best hope of a viable future for Bosnia-Herzegovina.
The Contact Group is now, I believe, in Zagreb. The Contact Group does plan to meet with Prime Minister Silajdzic later today. In fact, that meeting may have occurred already. They'll be talking about ways that they could continue to press for a cease-fire, a cessation of hostilities and for renewed negotiations.
They'll also be discussing these contacts that the Bosnian Serbs have now initiated with former President Carter.
Q But has the Bosnian Government expressed an opinion about this to the State Department?
MR. McCURRY: Not one that I've seen reported back to us yet, although I think some of you may have seen President Izetbegovic react out of the OIC Conference to these developments. I would say he is as skeptical as we are. He has reacted now publicly to that.
Q Mike, will there be any State Department Foreign Service Officer accompanying former President Carter, as I think someone did in Korea? I can't remember if someone did in Haiti or not.
MR. McCURRY: I know that we have offered to help facilitate his transportation and some of his logistics. I assume that we would do that out of personnel that we have in both Zagreb and in Sarajevo.
But as I said earlier, it's really the briefing that Ambassador Frasier and Sandy Vershbow will offer up that would help provide some of the logistical and sort of the context for former President Carter's trip, if in fact he makes that trip.
We would certainly be willing to help facilitate former President Carter's contacts with the parties and would have people who would be around to do that. I'm not aware that we would have anyone accompanying him either to Pale or to Sarajevo, although we obviously do have people in Sarajevo that he would see. We would expect, since the Contact Group is in the area, that we would have the Contact Group getting apprised on some regular basis of any contacts that the former President makes.
Q Where, in fact, is the Contact Group at the moment?
MR. McCURRY: They are in Zagreb, I believe. (TO STAFF) Is that right -- they're in Zagreb?
Q Aren't you worried by deviationism by Jimmy Carter? He's done this in the past, in Haiti. Suppose he comes and says, "Well, I don't think Bosnia is a sacred entity, and we think that we should redraw the map"?
MR. McCURRY: Under Secretary Tarnoff, Sandy Berger, had a good conversation with former President Carter last night. Secretary Christopher did today. We certainly haven't heard anything from the former President that indicates that he's not aware of the importance of the territorial integrity of Bosnia and the importance of the Contact Group proposal as a starting point for any discussions that would help renew a negotiated settlement.
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