U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE OFFICE OF THE SPOKESMAN DAILY PRESS BRIEFING JANUARY 11, 1995 U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE DAILY PRESS BRIEFING I N D E X Wednesday, January 11, 1995 Briefer: Christine Shelly NORTH KOREA KEDO Talks .......................................1-3 Framework Agreement Lifting of Trade Restrictions ..................2-3 Possible Restriction of Arms Exports ...........3 RUSSIA Chechnya Conflict ................................4-8 U.S. Review of 1994 Vienna Document/ OSCE Code of Conduct .........................4-8 1/12 Meeting of OSCE Permanent Council .........5-6 Deputy Secretary Talbott Discussions in Brussels .5,7-8 GREAT BRITAIN Secretary Christopher/Foreign Secretary Hurd Mtg .8 BOSNIA/CROATIA UNPROFOR Mandate in Croatia ......................9-11 Contact Group Travel to Region ...................11 RWANDA Regional Refugee Conference ......................11-12 HAITI Status of Transition from MNF ....................12-13 CUBA Status of Cubans in Panama .......................13 TAJIKISTAN Clashes along Afghan Border ......................13-14 ALGERIA Report of Settlement among Parties of Conflict ...14
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE DAILY PRESS BRIEFING
WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 11, 1995, 1:01 P.M. (ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED)
MS. SHELLY: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. Welcome to the State Department briefing. I have no announcements today, so we'll begin with your questions.
Q What can you tell us about the KEDO talks?
MS. SHELLY: They're still going on. That's what I can tell you.
Q -- report that South Korea -- of a rift over the terms of the aid package to North Korea?
MS. SHELLY: We've seen the reports, but because the meetings went on into the evening yesterday and decided to resume today, I'm not going to be able to get into a discussion of what's happened so far, although I will say that I'm not aware of any particularly serious rift. I mean, obviously, they have a lot to discuss.
As I said before, we'll also try to get you a readout by someone involved in those talks as soon as they conclude. My guess at this point is that readout will probably be tomorrow. We'll try to do that - - kick off with a briefer at the beginning of tomorrow's press briefing. Since I have not been in on those talks, it's very difficult for me to do that. So I'll use my best efforts to get you a good briefer on that at the beginning of tomorrow's briefing.
Q But they did extend it for a day?
MS. SHELLY: Yes, that's right.
MS. SHELLY: I don't have an official reason to put forward on that. I think they just have a lot to discuss. Without getting into the substance of those talks and, as you know, since I haven't been a participant in them, I don't feel well-equipped to get into the substance of what's been going on. But it's obviously a process and there's a lot of important information that is being vetted in that grouping.
I think the fact that they wanted to go on for another day is also an indication that there are serious exchanges.
Q Your initial comment, though, sort of begs the question. You said there is obviously not a serious rift. So you're acknowledging that there is a rift, that there is some disagreement --
MS. SHELLY: No, I'm not acknowledging that there is a rift, but I'm simply saying that knowing how things work in this building, that those involved in these talks would be seriously remiss if they had not drawn to the attention of the State Department briefer, who gets to stand up here and answer questions on these things even ahead of when we're ready to give you a readout -- that if there were serious problems I would like to think at least that they would been drawn to my attention.
As that has not occurred, I will infer from that that nothing is going on that is not insurmountable in terms of their exchanges. But I'm not signaling anything; we've decided not to put it out on a kind of hour-by-hour or day- by-day basis. We will give a readout on this hopefully tomorrow.
Q Do you expect that they will wrap up today, though? Is there any expectation they'd be carried over again?
MS. SHELLY: I have not heard anything to suggest that they won't finish up today. So, at least as of this point, that's my expectation.
Q Is there any new development on when the United States would move on its easing of economic barriers to --
MS. SHELLY: Yes. I don't have anything new to announce on that. As I think you know, in the agreement, the date by which those measures were supposed to be indicated was the 21st of January, and I think that we're still working on our side of that.
The North Koreans, obviously, gave some indication of movement on their own side prior to that date, but we just are not at a point yet where we're announcing anything.
Q Yesterday, though, you said you still hadn't seen details. Have you now seen details?
MS. SHELLY: Not yet.
Q Why not?
MS. SHELLY: Well, I guess they're remiss in their obligations to keep the briefer informed.
Q Well, no. I would assume that in a matter of this certainly high profile -- and it seems to be of great importance to both governments -- on which you've had very close communications over the last couple of, well, certainly the last few months since the agreement was signed -- that you might have gotten details by now.
MS. SHELLY: O.K. I will note your point, pass it on to those involved in the exchanges on this and tell them you're getting antsy for details.
Q Could you pass on to them also the question of whether or not North Korea has to do anything with respect to arms exports in exchange for improved relations with the United States?
MS. SHELLY: I will check on that.
Q I'm a little confused. The KEDO will finish today, is that correct?
MS. SHELLY: I did not say KEDO will finish today. I signaled my expectation that the talks would conclude today. There's a difference.
Q Well, okay. You mentioned something about an extra day added.
MS. SHELLY: Originally, we said that the talks would take place for two days, and they have carried over into a third day, which is today.
Q But when we get a briefing tomorrow about this, it will be complete for the talks that have been concluded some time today or tomorrow morning? I guess the question is: We're going to get a briefing complete on the KEDO talks?
MS. SHELLY: I don't know if you guys have ever considered that a briefing that we gave was complete. I don't think there is any such thing. As I said, I will endeavor to provide one of those who is involved in the talks to come at the beginning of tomorrow's briefing.
Since I've now said this and it's part of the official transcript, maybe it will even happen.
Q I asked a question the other day about whether the Russians have violated CSCE principles, and I didn't see a posted response. I wonder if you have a response now.
MS. SHELLY: I think we did put up a short response to your question, but I assure you that I have had our people in the building vigorously pursuing this to see what we could say. It may come somewhat as a surprise to you that, in fact, I do have a fair amount of guidance worked up on this for today. So let me take a moment here.
This is a complicated issue because it involves review of several different documents. So let me take a minute and give a little bit of the background on this, specifically on the Vienna Document versus Code of Conduct, and then I'll be happy to share the results of our review so far.
As you know, the U.S. Government has been in frequent contact with the Russians, the European Union, our NATO allies, and the representative of the OSCE Chairman-in-Office concerning respect for international commitments and standards in Chechnya.
The specific OSCE documents which seem most directly involved are the l994 Vienna Document and the Code of Conduct. The Vienna Document l994 establishes a regime of confidence and security building measures. Among other things, the Vienna Document l994 calls for the prior notification of certain military activities. The Code of Conduct, an OSCE document signed last month at the Budapest Summit, sets standards for the use and conduct of the armed forces of all OSCE states.
While these documents are not treaties or legally binding documents, all OSCE states have made a political commitment to conduct themselves according to these standards. In the case of Vienna Document l994, we believe Russia should have given prior notification of certain aspects of its military activity under the provisions of paragraph 38(3).
The Code of Conduct calls on OSCE states, among other things, to facilitate the cessation of hostilities, to seek to create favorable conditions for political solutions to conflicts, and to cooperate in support of humanitarian assistance to alleviate suffering among the civilian population.
Ambassador Gyamarti, the representative of the OSCE Chairman-in- Office, met in Moscow, as you know, on Monday and Tuesday with Russian representatives to stress the importance of the standards and obligations undertaken by the OSCE states and to discuss a possible role for the OSCE in this crisis.
We are encouraged by the preliminary reports that the Russians responded positively to the suggestions of OSCE involvement.
After considerable review of the information available to date, we have concluded that Russia has not fulfilled all of its commitments under the OSCE and the Helsinki Final Act. This issue will be discussed at a January l2 meeting of the OSCE Permanent Council.
We are instructing our representative to the OSCE to voice the strongest U.S. concern that Russia has not fulfilled all of its OSCE commitments and strong support for the involvement of the OSCE in finding a solution to this crisis.
Q Why did it take until just now to complete this review, because most of the events have been clear for weeks on end, both in the Code of Conduct and in the advance notification?
MS. SHELLY: Because we take time before we make judgments or evaluations of that kind. We have had, as you know, concerns that we have expressed from the time when this crisis first began to emerge. We have also raised those concerns at the highest levels, including by the Secretary in his conversations with Foreign Minister Kozyrev and, of course, most recently by the Deputy Secretary in his discussions with senior Russian officials in Brussels, which took place yesterday.
Looking at the documents and also making sure that we have the best and most accurate and up-to-date information available on the issue or the crisis at hand, that is something that we review very carefully. It may be that other governments are able to move more quickly in making that kind of a call. But we are careful in that kind of evaluation and we looked at it very, very thoroughly. I indicated what we had concluded on the basis of that review.
Q In the case of the non-notification of the troop movements, can you say just what are the movements, as you have determined them, that exceed or violate the principles as stated by the CSCE?
MS. SHELLY: I can't give you detailed information on that. What I can tell you is that, under this Paragraph 38(3), it calls for, among other things, prior notification of concentrations of forces involving: at least 9,000 troops -- and that would include support troops --, at least 250 battle tanks or at least 500 armored combat vehicles or at least 250 self-propelled and towed artillery pieces, mortars, and multiple rocket launchers -- if these are organized into a divisional structure or at least two brigades and regiments.
The reporting that we have so far suggests that troop levels in Chechnya have exceeded this threshold.
Q Can you say when?
MS. SHELLY: No. I don't have that information.
Q Sam Brown is the OSCE?
MS. SHELLY: Right.
Q When will he raise that?
MS. SHELLY: The meeting is taking place on January 12.
Q He will raise it with the Russians prior to that in some fashion?
MS. SHELLY: I don't know whether he specifically would be doing that. We might be doing that through bilateral channels.
Q Let me try to understand one point. So documents that Yeltsin signed at the CSCE Summit just past are among those which they're violating?
MS. SHELLY: Correct.
Q Which ones specifically? Both?
MS. SHELLY: I specifically mentioned the Code of Conduct as the OSCE document which was signed last month at the Budapest Summit.
Q So what does this tell you about Russia's commitments in signing on the dotted line?
MS. SHELLY: Carol, I don't know if it's really time yet to get into the longer term implication of this. Precisely, I think Russia itself has signaled its interest in being a full participant in the range of activities that have been developed governing behavior and norms in Europe.
The fact that they have participated in these, they have been a party to them -- I think they themselves know what their commitments are on this score. I think that they are certainly aware of the fact that by several different governments there has been public concern and discussion raised about the degree to which those commitments have been observed.
The Russians are certainly mindful of those obligations and commitments, and they're aware of the fact that the international community is aware that they may not have met them certainly in their entirety.
The situation is still in evolution. I think that there is a fairly frank characterization by the Russians that there have been difficulties in managing this crisis, but we haven't reached the end of it yet. To do a kind of longer term analysis of what this all means is probably something that is appropriate for farther down the road, not necessarily for today.
Q Can you say anything about Strobe Talbott's talks over the last couple of days?
MS. SHELLY: Let's see if I've got some more on that. I have just a little bit more. I don't have a lot more.
As you know, in Brussels, the Deputy Secretary also met with Central and Eastern European Ambassadors and separately with the Russian Deputy Foreign Minister. As I think you are aware, Chechnya was not the reason for his trip to Brussels. It was, as I said yesterday, a regularly scheduled meeting to prepare for the Secretary's meetings with Foreign Minister Kozyrev next week.
Chechnya did come up, of course. The Deputy Secretary reiterated the U.S. hope for a political resolution as early as possible. He emphasized our view that human rights must be guaranteed and that civilian casualties must be minimized. They also discussed what the OSCE can do to improve the situation in Chechnya.
He's travelling back today and is hopefully, I think, due back in the building later this afternoon. I'll see if we can get a more detailed readout either later today or by tomorrow.
Q Have you informed the Russians about the determination of the CSCE violations?
MS. SHELLY: I'm sorry?
Q Did he inform his Russian counterpart about what you just now told us about the OSCE violations?
MS. SHELLY: They discussed the OSCE potential involvement. I simply don't wish to go into further details about their exchange on that.
Q Can you (inaudible) what specifically are the violations of the Code of Conduct? I think it calls proportionality in the use of force.
MS. SHELLY: I'm not prepared to go into any greater detail than what I've just said.
Q (Inaudible) NATO had to say?
MS. SHELLY: I don't have anything on that.
Q Christine, there were television reports yesterday that the fighters in central Grozny proper were retreating to the outskirts and that their plan -- at least avowed plan -- was to go into a guerrilla- style of warfare against the Russians. Have you any information or confirmation or otherwise about this particular tactic?
MS. SHELLY: No, I don't. I think it's impossible for us to get into speculation or even discussion of what their intentions might be.
We certainly are aware of the fact that fighting is continuing in the city. We are trying to track this as well as what the humanitarian situation is there, and certainly also get the best estimates -- information -- that we can on the fighting. I think it's not very productive or necessarily even accurate for us to try to get into reading what the intentions of the parties are at this point.
Q Christine, why is the Secretary meeting with Foreign Secretary Hurd on Monday?
MS. SHELLY: I would assume that they are meeting in the context of their continued discussions and dialogue. They often get together throughout the course of the year. I don't have anything in particular on the visit although I'll try to work something up for either tomorrow or Friday as a kind of scene-setter for that.
I would just view this in the context of part of the Secretary's continuing dialogue and exchanges, including visits, to respective capitals with his major European counterparts.
Q Can we move to Bosnia?
MS. SHELLY: Sure.
Q Apparently, the Croats have decided to expel the U.N. peacekeepers by the end of March because they consider that they are not doing their job properly. Do you have any reaction to that?
MS. SHELLY: I've got a little bit on that for you. We have seen the reports and are very concerned by them that Croatia will ask UNPROFOR to leave Croatia when it's U.N. Security Council mandate expires at the end of March. We believe that UNPROFOR makes an essential contribution to the stability in the Balkans.
It's patrol of the buffer zone between Croatian Government and rebel Serb forces prevents clashes that could otherwise escalate into a renewed Serbo-Croat war.
UNPROFOR's role in Bosnia of protecting relief convoys and mediating arrangements among the parties provides vital protection for communities under siege from Serb forces. Croatia's decision, as we understand it, would not affect UNPROFOR's operations until the end of March and would apply only to its mission in Croatia and not to its support functions for activity in Bosnia and Macedonia.
We will explore these issues in the visit to Washington this week of Croatian Special Envoys, Miomir Zuzul and Miroslav Tudjman. We believe it is very important for Croatia to continue to cooperate with the U.N. Security Council and with international efforts to pursue peace in the Balkans.
Q When are those envoys coming?
MS. SHELLY: I think they are traveling tomorrow. I'll check on that.
Q How do you spell the names?
MS. SHELLY: Do you want me to spell it right this very second?
Q Okay, afterwards is fine.
MS. SHELLY: How about afterwards.
Q Do you know the substance of the Croatian reasons? I mean, I think they said they wanted to have their routes open, linking the two parts of the country, the Adriatic coast and the inland, and that hasn't happened.
MS. SHELLY: So it will be up to the Croatian Government to characterize publicly their reasons.
Q Do you have any comment on whether they're justified in wanting those routes to be opened?
MS. SHELLY: No, I don't have any comment on that.
Q Did they tell you -- didn't they explain to you why they're taking this stuff?
MS. SHELLY: We have had discussions with them prior to their taking their decisions on this.
Q Did they inform the Contact Group yesterday that they were going to do this?
MS. SHELLY: They have had discussions with the members of the Contact Group, I think, over the last several days; and, of course, this is an issue that has come up before about when the issue of the renewal has been topical. There have also been discussions at that time as well. So it's not a brand new issue out there. But in terms of the shaping up of the Croatian Government decision on this, there have been diplomatic exchanges on this over the last several days.
Q But it's your understanding it's an official decision that's now been made. There's no going back.
MS. SHELLY: Whether or not there's any going back on that, I mean, that's up to the Croatian Government, I think, to characterize that. I can't say very much, and I think that the appropriate authority to express the view on why they feel that this is the right thing to do at present is obviously in the hands of the Croatian authorities.
But I think we certainly can acknowledge that they have expressed frustrations about the slow pace toward a political settlement in Croatia, and we, as you know, have been involved in a diplomatic track with Russia and with the European Union in this Zagreb Four process to try to pursue a negotiated solution to the problem of the Serb-occupied Croatia.
We certainly believe that a settlement there is essential for regional peace, and we hope and expect that Zagreb's actions will continue to contribute to that overall goal.
Q Do you think it signals a greater involvement in the war by the Croats?
MS. SHELLY: I'm not going to read what I think it signals or doesn't, because that gets into the speculative domain. From what we understand, as I mentioned about the decision, it doesn't affect their desire to play a useful role, a support role in terms of UNPROFOR's operations elsewhere. But I think the decisions on why they feel that it may be necessary to terminate UNPROFOR's withdrawal are ones which relate to assessments of their own regarding what's happening in Croatia.
Q If you remove the buffer force, which is in a sense protecting the U.N. zones, doesn't it automatically raise the prospects of war?
MS. SHELLY: I addressed that in the first part of my comment on that. I said it increases the possibility that there could be some renewed fighting.
Q Not just some renewed fighting but basically the entire war.
MS. SHELLY: No, I'm not going to take it that far.
Q (Inaudible; concerns Contact Group)
MS. SHELLY: They met in Paris, as you know, and they also decided that they would travel to the region for discussions with the parties. I checked today to see whether we had any detailed information on the itinerary and dates. We don't have that yet. We may have it later today, which case, if we get it, we'll put it up in the form of a taken question.
But other than being able to tell you that they will travel to the region to pursue some of their latest ideas and also try to build on the cessation of hostilities which still appears to be holding, with the exception of some continued problems in the Bihac pocket, that's what they're up to.
MS. SHELLY: I don't have an answer on that yet.
Q Can I take you to Rwanda?
MS. SHELLY: Sure.
Q I understand that this morning radio reports are saying that the war has started again, and the troops are coming now. The troops of the former government have come from the town of Bukavu in Zaire. They have attacked Rwanda this morning. What do you know about that?
MS. SHELLY: I personally have not seen that report, and I'll check on that to see if there's anything new. I know that there were some meetings earlier in the week regarding the refugees. There was a regional refugee conference which was hosted by President Moi on January 7 with the Presidents of Rwanda, Burundi, Uganda, Tanzania and Zambia. So there are some efforts on that track to try to deal with the refugee situation again.
We had seen some reports last weekend about some additional incidents of violence in the camps. But as to the specific report that you mentioned, I'm going to check on that and see what information we have.
Q On Haiti, has -- can you tell us anything about discussions you've been having with the U.N. about the transfer of authority in Haiti? Has a definite date now been set?
MS. SHELLY: A definite date has not been set. At least that's my understanding, although I understand at the Pentagon yesterday the Pentagon briefer indicated that there had been some progress on this score in terms of the MNF commander and his -- I believe in some form he has conveyed the idea that he thinks that progress has been made toward a safe and secure environment.
I know that there are a number of different steps that have to fall in place at the same time, so that the Security Council can make that final determination that the hand-off can occur.
As far as I know, everything is proceeding well and in that direction, but I don't have any formal announcements on that for today.
Q Are you happy that the transfer might take place before elections in Haiti? Originally, I believe the idea was that the election would happen first before the transfer.
MS. SHELLY: That was, I think, based on the premise -- there was never any formal linkage, but it was based on the premise that elections would be held before the end of the year in '94, and, of course, as you know, that did not happen. So there was never a kind of formal linkage to that and, for a variety of reasons, as you know, when it took longer for the elections and the electoral machinery to get underway, I think that what had perhaps been a kind of notional idea that the MNF hand-off might take place -- or might wait until after the elections, that we indicated at that time that with the delay in elections, that that might take place prior to elections.
I think that's the general direction. But again, since many of the countries that are participating in UNMIH, in fact are participating in the MNF as well, and the fact that the preparations and the advance work by UNMIH has been underway for such a long time, we are still of the belief that the transition actually formally from MNF to UNMIH will in fact be one which is very smooth and nearly seamless.
Q You said the other day that you were searching for other places for Cubans who are currently in Panama to go after they leave that country. Has there been any success in finding some place else besides Guantanamo?
MS. SHELLY: I don't know if I was quite that explicit. I think I said that we kept open the possibility in the event that we did have to move the Cubans from Panama, of third- country relocation, and so I think that's still where we are.
I don't think there's anything new on this today, although there may be something more to say on this in the next few days. But I don't have any new announcements on this one.
Q Are we trying -- are we seeking permission from the Panamanian Government to keep them there longer than the six months they had originally agreed to were that necessary?
MS. SHELLY: I don't think that this possibility is completely ruled out at this point, but I think our planning is going on the basis that when the March 6 date comes, that the agreement which they made, which was for a six-month period, that that agreement will expire. But I certainly would not categorically rule out some difference from that.
Q Haven't Spain and Venezuela agreed to or already accepted Cubans from Panama?
MS. SHELLY: Spain has. I don't know whether Venezuela has or not. I'll check on that point.
Q The statement that was issued late yesterday on Tajikistan, I was just wondering whether the nature and the intensity of your concern about what's going on there is exacerbated by Chechnya and the Russian behavior there.
MS. SHELLY: No, I wouldn't draw any specific linkage between those two issues, although I was certain that one of you was likely to do so. The situation in Tajikistan, I think, is different in that there is the basis for -- the Russian presence, as you know, is linked to an invitation by the Tajikistan Government. There are 20,000 Russian forces in Tajikistan, as I mentioned, at the invitation of the Tajikistan Government, and they include border guards who control the frontier with Afghanistan and members of the 201st Motorized Division.
As you know, there has been a cease-fire there, but in late December and early January there began to be a number of clashes that took place along the border between the Russian border guards and forces of the Tajikistan opposition. According to what we believe are credible reports, there were Russian aircraft which bombed or strafed the Tajik opposition camps on at least two occasions last week, and on January 2, as I think you may be aware from some reporting, Tajik opposition forces had ambushed a Russian border patrol, killing nine Russian forces in an extremely brutal way. The bodies were subsequently mutilated apparently by the opposition combatants.
I think there have been several other clashes and exchanges along the border as well. We don't know exactly what the reasons are for the sudden increase in incidents which appears to have started this latest round of attacks, although the pattern, I think, suggests that there's an element of retribution in there. We are concerned about the possible spiraling of these exchanges, and that's one of the reasons that in our statement we called upon all sides to exercise restraint.
Q Is that it?
Q One more on Algeria.
MS. SHELLY: One more? Or has it been declared over?
Q I've been waiting. Is it declared over?
MS. SHELLY: He said he's been waiting. Okay, one more.
Q It's very simple. I understand there's some good news coming out of Italy on a settlement among the various parties in the Algerian conflict. Can you tell us any more about when this might come to pass? It was supposed to be within a day or two.
MS. SHELLY: I'll have to check. I don't have anything with me on that. Thank you.
(The briefing concluded at 1:33 p.m.)
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