U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE OFFICE OF THE SPOKESMAN DAILY PRESS BRIEFING JANUARY 12, 1995 U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE DAILY PRESS BRIEFING I N D E X Thursday, January 12, 1995 Briefer: Christine Shelly PANAMA U.S. Officials in Region .........................1-4 Expiration of U.S./Panama Agreement re: Safehaven Facilities for Cuban Migrants ....2 Transfer of Cuban Migrants to Guantanamo .......2-3 Possibility of Third Country Transfers .........2 Numbers of Cuban Migrants in Panama/Guantanamo .2 RUSSIA Chechnya Conflict OSCE Permanent Council Meeting .................4 Approval of Chairman's Statement ...............4 OSCE Delegation to Grozny.......................4 Fighting in Grozny .............................4-5 U.S. Discussions in Vienna .....................5 Deputy Secretary Talbott Remarks/Discussions ...5-6 NORTH KOREA KEDO Working Level Talks .........................6-7 BOSNIA/CROATIA Expiration of UNPROFOR Mandate in Croatia ........7-8 State Department/Croatian Representatives Meeting ........................................8-9 Secretary Christopher/German FM Kinkel Discussion .....................................8 GREECE/TURKEY U.S. Position on Establishment of Kurdish State ..9 Undersecretary Tarnoff Remarks to Foreign Press ..9-11 CANADA U.S./Canadian Relations ..........................11 ARMS CONTROL Start II--Prospects for 1995 Legislative Action ..11-12 ABM Treaty--U.S. Intent to Conduct Development Tests ..............................12-13 LEGISLATIVE AFFAIRS Secretary Christopher contacts with Congress .....13-14
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE DAILY PRESS BRIEFING
THURSDAY, JANUARY 12, 1995, 1:11 P. M. (ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED)
MS. SHELLY: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. Welcome to the briefing. Who would like to begin?
Q Why is a senior State Department official in Panama? Is he delivering a message to the Cubans there?
MS. SHELLY: I can confirm the report that there are some U.S. officials who are down in Panama. As you know, the agreement between the Governments of Panama and the U.S. to provide for safehaven facilities for the Cuban migrants expires on March 6, 1995.
We intend to honor our commitment and to ensure that the safehaven camps in Panama are closed by that date. We are deeply grateful for the cooperation and assistance provided to this humanitarian effort by the Panamanian authorities during the past several months.
As a consequence of the impending deadline, beginning shortly, Cubans currently in safehavens in Panama will be transferred to safehavens in Guantanamo. This information was communicated to the leaders of the safehaven camps in Panama and to the Panamanian Government earlier today.
Every effort will be made to ensure that this transfer is accomplished in a safe and orderly manner. To this end, additional forces will be deployed to Panama to maintain a secure atmosphere for U.S. military personnel conducting the transfer and for the Cuban migrants themselves.
We will also strive to make the transfer as smooth as possible for the migrants. To the extent possible, facilities available in Panama will be duplicated in Guantanamo, and programs in which Cubans are enrolled in Panama will be continued in Guantanamo. We will continue to improve the living conditions for migrants in safehaven.
Q What kinds of troops? How many?
MS. SHELLY: I don't have the details on that. I think that the precise details about the transfer itself and specifically about the troops will be made available by the Pentagon, probably fairly soon.
Q What officials are in Panama?
MS. SHELLY: I don't have the names of them, but let me see if I can get them. I'm pretty sure I can get that for you for this afternoon. My understanding is it's a combined NSC, DoD, State Department team, but let me see if I can get the names for you right after the briefing.
Q If they choose not to go back to Cuba, where are they going to go ultimately?
MS. SHELLY: As you know, there were possibilities for third- country transfers, like we've mentioned before in the case of Spain where some of the Cubans joined some of the relatives.
I checked on the point about Venezuela, which I think was raised by George a couple of days ago. I think that this has been a possibility, but I'm not aware that any Cubans from Panama have actually moved to Venezuela as of this point. I wouldn't rule that out for the future, but I don't have any information on that. That is still a possibility that there may be some other locations.
With the exception of those who will qualify to come to the U.S. under the humanitarian parole programs -- and you know those are those who specifically qualify under the guidelines which were announced October 14 and then amplified on December 1 -- those people, of course, are the ones who would have the possibility of coming to the States, and the other ones will return to Guantanamo.
Q And what is the total population that we're talking about here?
MS. SHELLY: I can give you that. The total population in Panama is 7,977, and the current population at Guantanamo is 21,168. These are all Cuban migrants.
Q When will the transfers to Guantanamo begin?
MS. SHELLY: I don't have exact details on that. I think they're expected to begin some time within the next couple of weeks. It will take, as you can expect, some weeks to effect that transfer. But, as I mentioned already, the plan is to be sure that they have been moved by the date of expiration of the agreement with Panama which is March 6.
Q Are they moving into the sites vacated by Haitians?
MS. SHELLY: I don't have details on that. That certainly would be a theoretical possibility, but probably a kind of detail that would more likely come out of the Pentagon.
Q What's the maximum that Guantanamo can accommodate at this point?
MS. SHELLY: I would have to go back and check on that, so if you'll let me take that question.
Q Have you had any reaction from Russia yet on your statement yesterday, if I can ask?
Q Go ahead, sure.
Q Why are you announcing this so early?
MS. SHELLY: I think we're announcing it at this point precisely because it will take some weeks to make all of the arrangements and effect the transfers, and this is obviously not something that we feel would be wise to wait until the very last minute.
As I mentioned, we want it to be accomplished in a safe and orderly way. Simply by the sheer magnitude of people in question who have to be moved, it's obviously a rather daunting logistical task as well. It simply is important in the context of the expiration, which comes up after another eight weeks or so, that all of those preparations and plans be made in a timely way, including, obviously, notification of the Cubans in the safehavens.
Q You haven't notified them yet?
MS. SHELLY: We have notified them.
Q And they're receiving it warmly?
MS. SHELLY: They were briefed this morning is what I'm told. I have been trying to find out if there's been any particular reaction so far, because, as you know, this is a sensitive issue for the Cubans. There have been disturbances in the camps in the past, but I don't have any indications so far that there have been any problems yet this morning. But I think that probably on that, the Defense Department would have more details, perhaps even today. Since today is a briefing day for them, they may have some more up-to-date details on how the news was actually received.
Q Is there any reaction from the Russians that you can tell us about to your statement yesterday that their troop movements conflicted with the Vienna, Helsinki and Budapest agreement?
MS. SHELLY: I don't have any specific reaction to report. I can give you a little bit of information about today's OCSE Permanent Council meeting, if you'd like.
MS. SHELLY: The OSCE Permanent Council approved by consensus a Chairman's statement on Chechnya. The statement, which was explicitly endorsed by the Russian Ambassador, recognizes an OSCE role in the crisis and provides for an early mission to Chechnya by OSCE representatives.
The Chairman's statement noted violations of human rights and international humanitarian law. It urged respect for the territorial integrity of the Russian Federation and noted the readiness of Russia to cooperate with the OSCE.
We welcome Russia's constructive approach. The Permanent Council meeting was cooperative, not confrontational in tone. An OSCE delegation, I am told, could depart from Moscow and then go on to Grozny as early as this weekend.
The delegation will consist of Hungarian Ambassador Istvan Gyarmati, representing the OSCE Chair; Ambassador Audrey Glover, Director of the OSCE's Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights; a military expert; and a representative of the OSCE Secretary General.
Q Did the question of monitors come up, or is that one of the things this group is to look at?
MS. SHELLY: Let me check on that. I don't have specific information on monitors.
Q Christine, how really cooperative -- how can you possibly say that Russia's role is so cooperative when, in fact, they are continuing to bomb Grozny? I mean, it seems that the facts on the ground are once again at odds with the rhetoric.
MS. SHELLY: Again, I wouldn't draw a specific linkage on that. The fierce fighting certainly continues in Grozny today. That's certainly the information that we have as well, including heavy shelling continuing in the campaign.
But I think that the general feeling -- I simply got a readout on the meeting and including on the tenor and also on the involvement of the Russian participant at that meeting, and certainly, as you know, one of the elements that we had been encouraging was a possible OSCE role. The fact that this delegation will be traveling down there now, with obvious Russian concurrence in the context of this meeting, I think is a development which, given the interest within the OSCE, is a positive development.
Q Christine, Ambassador Brown was supposed to inform the Russians that they had violated the agreements. Did he do that? You said he was going to do that. Did he do that, and did the Russians also receive that in the same manner as they received the other?
MS. SHELLY: I can't give you a lot of detail on that, Sid. I can say that we are discussing and have been discussing the matter with the Russians and the other OSCE participating states in Vienna. That's the forum where these exchanges have been taking place. But at this point we are not going to get into the details of those exchanges.
Q Can you say if Ambassador Brown did express that, as you said he would yesterday?
MS. SHELLY: I said that --
Q You said he would do it today.
MS. SHELLY: I don't remember that I explicitly said that --
Q January 12.
MS. SHELLY: -- he, personally, would be doing that today, but I indicated that we would be conveying those views; and, as I said, those discussions have taken place in Vienna.
Q Can you say anything more about Strobe Talbott's consultations --
MS. SHELLY: I don't have a lot more in the way of details on that. I think we talked yesterday about the elements of his trip and the meetings that he had, so I think --
MS. SHELLY: I also mentioned that Chechnya was not the reason for his trip but that it did come up, and that he had reiterated that the U.S. hoped for the political resolution as early as possible. He emphasized the view that human rights should be guaranteed, and that civilian casualties must be minimized. They also discussed what the OSCE can do to improve the situation in Chechnya.
Q What is the OSCE mission going to do in Chechnya when it gets there?
MS. SHELLY: I don't have further details on it at this point, except to give you what I had on the readout of the meeting.
Q But what is its mandate or its instructions?
MS. SHELLY: Again, I think you might want to put that question to the OSCE Secretariat. I don't have more details than I've shared with you at this point.
Q How are you doing on the Korean Energy Development Organization briefing?
MS. SHELLY: Did you have one last one on that?
Q No, but on Croatia, the envoys here, and who are they seeing?
MS. SHELLY: Okay. Why don't I take Jim's question and then we'll come to Croatia.
Q If you want to go to Asia, go to Asia.
MS. SHELLY: Okay. On KEDO, it will perhaps come as a surprise to some of you and perhaps not to others that the talks have now gone over into a fourth day, despite my prediction from yesterday. This is because the participants felt that additional time was needed to deal with the details of the technical questions which are under discussion.
The talks are making good progress. I hesitate to say this, but my guidance says that I may say that we expect them to wrap it up today. There isn't any problem in the talks. They were extended out of the mutual desire by all of the participants to complete what is a very complex and technical job.
I am still at this point not in a position to get into the substance of those talks, as they are still underway.
If I can just -- I know there's a tremendous amount of press interest in them. I have certainly also conveyed that to those who are participating; also given the number of calls I got on this yesterday afternoon.
If I can just make sort of a simple reminder that they are working- level talks. The issues that are under discussion -- they're searching for answers to what they characterize as mundane and nuts-and-bolts technical questions which will then be used in ongoing higher-level exchanges.
So I'm still going to do my best to get you a readout by one of the participants at the beginning of tomorrow's briefing. But as of this juncture, they haven't concluded yet.
Q The Japanese are saying that the KEDO organization -- or the headquarters, whatever -- will be based in New York with an American chairman, or Secretary General -- whatever they're going to call it. Is that how it's working out?
MS. SHELLY: We said a couple of days ago that it had been generally agreed that the headquarters would be in New York. I don't have any further details at this point about who would be the head of the organization.
Q Chairman Helms, I gather, said yesterday --
MS. SHELLY: Is this on KEDO?
Q No. I'm sorry.
MS. SHELLY: Can I make you next in line after that? Croatia.
Q So who are they meeting with, and have they met yet?
MS. SHELLY: Let me give you some details on that. Croatian representatives met yesterday with State Department officials. As far as I know those meetings are continuing today.
They explained President Tudjman's intention not to agree to an extension of the UNPROFOR mandate in Croatia after March 31. UNPROFOR elements would be permitted to stay in Croatia for as much as three months after this date to effect their withdrawal and to support activities for UNPROFOR activities in Bosnia and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia which would not be affected.
The U.S. has expressed its profound disagreement with the Croatian position, which could produce renewed conflict between the Republic of Croatia and Krajina Serb forces.
We will be working with Croatia in the next days and weeks in an effort to restrict the adverse effects of this decision, both within Croatia and in neighboring republics.
I can also inform you that the Secretary spoke with German Foreign Minister Kinkel on this subject this morning; and told him that we associate ourselves fully with Bonn's strong view that the UNPROFOR mandate should be renewed.
Q How is the United States going to try to mitigate the adverse effects of this decision?
MS. SHELLY: Carol, as we mentioned, I think, it's obviously, our concern if UNPROFOR ultimately is withdrawn, that it not lead to a deterioration in the security situation and a resumption of the fighting. So, I think in the larger sense that will be something which is foremost in our minds.
But also, as I mentioned yesterday, there still is a process underway which is designed to address Croatia's problems through the Zagreb-4 process. That's also something which we will be continuing to work.
Q Do you think at all that you have the possibility of reversing this decision?
MS. SHELLY: We've certainly conveyed our views, and I think several other governments have done so as well. We do expect the Contact Group to also go to Zagreb, and I expect that they will be making their own positions known to President Tudjman when they visit Zagreb later.
At this point, it's difficult to say. The Croatian Government has indicated what it's position is, but there still is a fair amount of time between now and when the withdrawal might actually begin; so I'm simply not in a position to predict at this point, ultimately, what will happen.
Q What was the highest level at this government which an appeal was made? For instance, did President Clinton communicate directly with President Tudjman on it?
MS. SHELLY: Carol, the Presidential level is something that you've got to ask at the White House. It's up to the White House to characterize that. But I can certainly confirm that we have raised this at senior levels within this Administration.
Q Can you say who the Croatian officials were and the U.S. officials who received them? Also, did the Croats given any hint that they might go back on this decision later if X, Y, and Z conditions were met?
MS. SHELLY: I gave yesterday who the officials were on the Croatian side. Let me see if I can get the participants from the U.S. side and put that up this afternoon.
Again, I gave, a reasonably full readout and don't have additional details that we wish to go into at this point.
Q The Turkish Government yesterday, said that they asked its Western allies to block any attempt to form a Kurdish parliament in exile on their soil. The Turkish Foreign Minister's spokesman yesterday, he announced that they made a demarche with all Western European countries, including the United States. Do you have any reaction? Do you have any answer on this subject?
MS. SHELLY: The United States does not recognize a Kurdish state. We support the territorial integrity of Turkey and other countries having Kurdish populations. We've seen reports that the terrorists -- Kurdistan Worker's Party, the PKK -- is backing the establishment of a government in exile. As a terrorist organization, the PKK has no political legitimacy and neither would any government that it attempts to establish.
Q Yesterday, Assistant Secretary Tarnoff at the Foreign Press Center briefing, he advised the Turkish Government that it has to open a dialogue with the responsible members of the Kurdish community, but he didn't elaborate on it. Can you describe who are the responsible members of the Kurdish community?
MS. SHELLY: I haven't seen a full text of Under Secretary Tarnoff's statement, so I would like to look at them in context.
Let me see if I can get a text and also see if there's anything beyond his remarks from yesterday that we'd like to say.
Q Christine, you say you don't recognize the Turkish state. There isn't a Turkish state.
MS. SHELLY: I said a Kurdish state.
Q I mean Kurdish -- of course, there's not Kurdish. Do you recognize that there are people called "Kurds?"
MS. SHELLY: I don't know if you're trying to make a distinction with a difference, or what?
Q You don't know the difference between a state and people who want to have a state?
MS. SHELLY: Yes. What's the point of the question, though, Barry?
Q The point of the question is -- you beg the question when you say you don't recognize a Kurdish state. There is no Kurdish state. Do you recognize the Kurdish people as an identifiable people who have national aspirations, as for instance you recognize the Palestinians but not the Chechens, for instance?
MS. SHELLY: Barry, this perhaps gets us into a debate on peoples verses stations. They're clearly, a group, within Turkey and Iraq and other locations. There certainly are Kurdish --
MS. SHELLY: People. Thank you for helping me out.
Q You said the word people.
MS. SHELLY: But, again, the question posed to me, in particular, was the point on the government in exile.
Q No. I realize that, and you obviously can't associate yourself with any terrorist statement. But there's a larger question -- whether the Kurds are entitled to a state. The U.S. Government seems to support other groups that say they are a nation. You sort of encourage them to go ahead and try to establish a state. But the Kurds were not a small group exactly, but many millions of people are entitled to statehood. You won't say they are, but will you say, are they a people -- an identifiable people?
MS. SHELLY: Barry, I feel this is getting into the people comparison or country comparison or whatever. I wouldn't want to get into a situation of trying to characterize the peoples within one area versus another.
As a theoretical question, I will certainly look into it and see if we have some fancy linguistic description regarding peoples and their aspirations that we would like to say, but I simply don't have anything more that I want to say on it right now.
Q While I await your artful ambiguity, could you tell me if Mr. Tarnoff's -- I say, Mr. Tarnoff -- was on track or missed the guidance when he told the foreign press yesterday, in regard to Quebec, "As you know, we are very strong supporters of one Canada." Probably not every Canadian was happy with that statement. Is there some reformulation you would like to contribute?
MS. SHELLY: If you're asking me if the Administration position on separatist Quebec is shifting, the answer is no. We repeat our long- standing position that we enjoy excellent relations with a strong and united Canada.
Canada's political future, naturally, is for Canadians to decide.
Under Secretary Tarnoff's reference to one Canada did not indicate a shift in U.S. policy, and it remains exactly as I've said it. We enjoy excellent relations with a strong and united Canada, and their political future is for Canadians to decide.
Q Thank you.
Q Christine, speaking of Mr. Tarnoff, he was up on the Hill today. There's a couple of closed door briefings with some Pentagon officials. Can you shed any light at all on what he was talking about?
MS. SHELLY: I can't, not at this point.
Q Not even the general topics?
MS. SHELLY: No, I can't. It's not part of any intention to be secretive on that. I know he was up on the Hill and was having some testimony, discussions, and meetings up there, but I'll be happy to check and see if we'd like to say something about it. I simply don't have anything with me.
Q Jesse Helms yesterday indicated that it would be unlikely that there would be quick action on START II this year. My understanding was the Administration was looking for quick action. Do you have any reaction to that?
MS. SHELLY: Let me take that one also. I believe it certainly was our intention to move forward on that, but let me check the latest reading.
Q This is Lee Chong (inaudible) Korean Broadcasting System. Do you have any information on the report on the exchange of gunfire, according to Pyongyang last night between the pro-Kim Jong-Il forces and anti-Kim Jong-Il forces?
MS. SHELLY: Exchange of gunfire that took place today?
Q It was reported, yes.
MS. SHELLY: I don't have anything with me on that. Let me check.
Q What can you tell us about communications with the Russians about wanting to carry out ABM tests?
MS. SHELLY: I had something on that yesterday. I have a little bit on this. As you know, for those who are following the issue of the testing, the U.S. intends to conduct development-related tests of an interceptor; however, there has been no official announcement so far of such a test.
Since we have not had an official announcement on this, the issue of notifying the Russians at this point, to my understanding, has not yet come up. There are a number of issues that relate to the conducting of tests generally that we do discuss. We discuss what we call the so- called "Dividing Line" issues with Russians and others as good faith confidence building measure, and to demonstrate that the U.S. maintains its commitment to the integrity of the ABM Treaty.
Q Is that in conformity with the ABM Treaty?
MS. SHELLY: That's my understanding, but no announcement has been made yet.
Q You just made it. So you're saying that the U.S. is going to test the theater high altitude --
MS. SHELLY: I said that as a general notion, we do intend to conduct tests which are part of the development- related process of an interceptor. That's the general statement. I'm not making an official announcement on A test per se.
Q Would that be a ground-based interceptor, or would that be this chemical laser prototype?
MS. SHELLY: Let me check on that.
Q All right. Well, I was going to ask, but let me try. Because of Mr. Helms' emergence in recent days as a strong spokesman on foreign affairs, there was a time we were asking -- I guess on the holiday time, people were away -- the Secretary's contact with the various people on the Hill, the new Republicans. Is this an opportunity for you to tell us if he's been in touch, and how extensively, with the new Chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee?
MS. SHELLY: In fact, he did have a meeting with Senator Helms quite recently. I think it was just a couple of days ago. The Secretary has had intensive congressional contacts in these days, since the beginning of the year.
I don't have a total listing of the number of people that he has seen, and he has met over this time with the leadership also of the various committees. So, the dialogue is certainly well underway, and the Secretary continues to work the wide range of issues on this with his interlocutors. My understanding of this is that the Secretary has so far been quite pleased with how those conversations have gone.
Q You know, it was -- Helms in particular I was interested in because somehow I don't think they were both in town at the same time for the holiday period, so "they hadn't talked" was what State was saying. But they have talked a few days ago --
MS. SHELLY: They had talked prior to the holiday period. They had had some telephone conversations, but, as I said, they also had a meeting earlier this week, and let me see if I can get -- I think I may have even in fact had some guidance on that a couple of days ago and then the question didn't come up. So let me see if maybe that I can give you a more detailed readout on that.
Q Well, I won't go through a whole, you know, list of things to ask you whether they came up, but I would ask about aid to Russia. I assume the Secretary still thinks Russian aid is essential?
MS. SHELLY: The Secretary still believes very firmly that Russian aid is a very important part of our relationship.
Q Do you think he told Mr. Helms this?
MS. SHELLY: Barry, let me check and see what else we want to say. Certainly the issue of Russia came up in their discussions, and let me see what I can say.
Q All right. But let me simplify my question, because I haven't done a very good job of that. Did the Secretary of State make a case for aid to Russia in his meeting with Jesse Helms?
MS. SHELLY: Let me check.
Q Thank you.
Q One last quick one on a lot less loftier subject.
MS. SHELLY: Yes.
Q Do you have anything to say about the possible appointment of Nick Burns to be the spokesman at the State Department?
MS. SHELLY: I have nothing to say on that whatsoever. (Laughter)
Q Thank you.
(The briefing concluded at 1:40 p.m.)
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