U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE OFFICE OF THE SPOKESMAN DAILY PRESS BRIEFING JANUARY 13, 1995 U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE DAILY PRESS BRIEFING I N D E X Friday, January 13, 1995 Briefer: David Johnson RUSSIA Chechnya Conflict OSCE Rapporteur Mission to Grozny ..............1-3 Status of Conflict .............................4 NORTH KOREA KEDO Talks .......................................3-4,6 Easing of Trade/Investment Restrictions ..........12 Reports of Arms Firing in Pyongyang ..............11 TURKEY U.S. Definition of Kurdish People ................4,13 BOSNIA/CROATIA U.S. Position on UNPROFOR Mission in Croatia .....4-5 Upcoming Discussions--Christopher/Hurd/Kozyrev ...5 MIDDLE EAST Peace Process ....................................6 ALGERIA St. Egidio Conference Announcement of Program to End Crisis ..........11-12 HAITI Incident at Checkpoint ...........................6 HUMAN RIGHTS Development of Business Human Rights Standards ...7 CHINA Intellectual Property Issue ......................8 Assistant Secretary Shattuck's Trip to Region ....8-9 Bilateral Human Rights Dialogue ..................8 U.S. Reaction to Arrest of Tong Yi ...............9 Deterioration of Human Rights Situation ..........10 Possible Implications for Trade Relationship .....10
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE DAILY PRESS BRIEFING
FRIDAY, JANUARY 13, 1995, 1:02 P.M. (ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED)
MR. JOHNSON: Good afternoon. My name is David Johnson. I'm pleased to be here this afternoon. I'll be pleased to take any questions and do my best to answer them.
Q Let's start with (inaudible) how first the admonition and then the State Department's observation that the Russians are cooperating on Chechnya seems to have gone awry in Moscow. You're getting a lot of criticism -- the Administration is -- "inappropriate and hasty Western criticism", "military operations"; and they don't seem to be willing to cooperate with that security group. So what gives? Is your message not getting across?
MR. JOHNSON: I would make a couple of observations about that: that an OSCE rapporteur mission will depart for Moscow and then on to Grozny as early as this weekend; that the Russians have invited this group to investigate the situation in Chechnya to see how the OSCE can best contribute to resolving the Chechen crisis, address human rights concerns, and expedite the delivery of humanitarian relief; that this mission will consist of the Hungarian Ambassador representing the Chair, as well as others, including a military expert and a human rights expert; and it will report its findings and recommendations in Vienna after its return.
With respect to the reference you made to a Russian statement concerning Western criticism, that statement appeared to be directed specifically at the EU decision to postpone the implementation of a trade agreement and the Council of Europe's decision to postpone consideration of Russian membership.
But I'd also note that from the Secretary's statements, mostly recently last night and the President's remarks as late as today, we've made our views quite clear, both publicly and privately.
Q Check on one little thing, will you? The first part of your statement speaks of their willingness to participate in the relief mission. Do you know if that group will have any authority to check on the U.S.'s number one complaint, which is that the movement of troops and tanks violated the Helsinki, Budapest, and Vienna Accords? Are their minds open on that?
MR. JOHNSON: That's a rapporteur mission. They'll be there to observe -- I note there is a military expert among the delegation who should certainly in a position to look at issues such as that.
As a rapporteur mission, it will then return to Vienna and report back as to how a monitoring or observer mission might do some effective things with respect to Chechnya.
Q David, as the Russians seem about to declare victory over Chechnya, does the United States have any particular observations or recommendations about how Moscow should go about trying to restore some sort of political equanimity with Chechnya? Do you think that Moscow -- if Moscow were to just sort of install some sort of titular head of government in Chechnya, would that be satisfactory? Or do you think that there is some obligation on Moscow's part to try to involve the Chechen leadership in some sort of political deal?
MR. JOHNSON: I would not want to get into the realm of offering advice in that respect or to engage in any sort of a hypothetical "if, then what happens." But I would say that the OSCE mission, which should be going rather shortly, I think offers the best hope for providing some international input into that process.
Q Will the OSCE mission speak to those kinds of issues?
MR. JOHNSON: As I noted before, it's a rapporteur mission. It's going to go there and observe and then come back and be able to report back to the Permanent Council in Vienna about how best to proceed.
Q Just a technical question. When the Secretary addressed this yesterday, he seemed to use "monitors" and "this group" interchangeably. These are not monitors. This is the beginning of a process that could lead to the stationing of monitors there?
MR. JOHNSON: Right. This is the beginning. It could lead to monitoring; it could lead to an observer mission. It's the first step.
Q You regard this as a good sign, David? I mean, this tiny little step in this direction or do you not?
MR. JOHNSON: I wouldn't want to characterize it using words of comparative or superior nature. I would just say that we're pleased that it's going to take place.
Q Do you welcome this step?
MR. JOHNSON: We're pleased that it's going to take place.
Q Okay, thank you.
Q A change of subject. Has the interminable KEDO meeting terminated?
MR. JOHNSON: The meeting that would not end. Yes. Just a moment, please. Experts from the United States, Japan, and the Republic of Korea met in Washington from January 9 through January 12 to discuss technical issues related to the establishment of the Korean Energy Development Organization and the provision of light-water reactors to the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.
They made significant progress in resolving a number of technical issues. As these were technical expert-level talks and as the experts from the other side have not yet arrived home to report the results back to their governments, we agreed with them not to discuss the details of the talks publicly until they had an opportunity to do so.
Q Without getting into the details, did they decide on the type and design of the light-water reactors?
MR. JOHNSON: I don't have anything specific to that. I think we've made some statements before about this reactor being of a Korean design, but nothing beyond that.
Q But they agreed at this meeting?
MR. JOHNSON: I'll look into that. I don't have anything that specifically addresses the point because, as I said before, we wanted to give these delegations a chance to get back home and have some discussions with their own governments before we had a public statement on exactly what they had agreed to.
Q Were there any agreements on the financing?
MR. JOHNSON: That's not something I'm willing to get into right now. In addition to the discussions that need to take place with the other partners in KEDO with their own governments, we also have some work to do here in consultation with our Congress on that issue before we're in a position to address that specifically.
Q Back on Chechnya for a minute. Is that okay? There was a wire story shortly before coming in here of the Russian, I think, Defense Ministry said that they had succeeded in taking the Presidential Palace, or the building that they were trying to take, and, in effect, trying to declare victory.
Do we have any verification that this, in fact, has happened?
MR. JOHNSON: I do not. I was, unfortunately, unaware of the report when I walked out and don't have any confirmation of any of the military activities that have taken place.
MR. JOHNSON: Are we Chechnyaed-out?
Q I was going to ask on a different topic.
MR. JOHNSON: Okay. Surely.
Q In the Washington Times today, there's a story. It says "U.S. Stand on Kurds Likely to Irk Ankara." It's about what Christine (Shelly) said the other day about the U.S. recognizing Kurds as a distinct people. This seems to have raised different interpretations back in Ankara as to if the United States recognizes the Kurds like they recognize the Palestinians, and so forth. Could you elaborate on that?
MR. JOHNSON: I'd prefer to stay with exactly what she said yesterday. I think we made a statement about territorial integrity. We stand by that.
I saw the story that you see, but I don't see the area of ambiguity which they have parsed.
Are we still on Kurds?
Q Back on Croatia. President Clinton sent a letter to President Tudjman. Tudjman responded this week. Tudjman has responded, saying he's not going to reconsider his decision not to renew the mandate for the peacekeepers in Krajina. Do you have any comment on that?
MR. JOHNSON: On --
Q Specifically, on Tudjman's apparent rebuff?
MR. JOHNSON: Just to reiterate what we've said before, that we'll be taking additional steps in the days ahead concerning the Croatian decision to end UNPROFOR's mission in Croatia; that it remains our view that this decision is not conducive to peace in Croatia, and we would continue to believe that it should be reversed.
We're going to work with Croatia as well as others to minimize that decision's negative implications should it stand both within Croatia and in the neighboring Republics.
I'd note that Tudjman's envoys have indicated that the decision is not intended to affect UNPROFOR's mission in Bosnia nor its headquarters in Zagreb. We're going to be working hard to preserve both of these aspects of UNPROFOR's mission.
Q I know it's hard to judge, but will President Tudjman's refusal to go along with President Clinton affect relations between Croatia and the United States in any small or large way?
MR. JOHNSON: I'm not in a position to speculate on that. I wouldn't observe it as positive. I would not declare any positive thing to have happened.
Q If I may follow. Yesterday, in testimony on the Hill, former Secretary of State James Baker, I believe said in very strong terms that this move of removing UNPROFOR from Croatia would be a preparation for major military activity on the part of Zagreb against, I think, the Serb- held areas. This would inflame the whole area. Have you any comment or observations on that?
MR. JOHNSON: Not directly to that, but only to repeat what I've said before that it remains our view that this decision is not conducive to peace in Croatia, and we continue to believe that it should be reversed.
Q What are these additional steps you'll be taking in the next few days?
MR. JOHNSON: We're going to be working with people in the Contact Group. The Secretary will be seeing Foreign Secretary Hurd on Monday and Foreign Minister Kozyrev next week. We expect to discuss with them our concerns about the decision and the implications that it has.
Q Back on Korea, you had said earlier in the week that we could expect a briefing once the talks ended, and apparently that's not in the cards. You said that the parties have to consult first with their governments and so forth. When that process takes place, could we expect a briefing next week?
MR. JOHNSON: I hesitate to make a promise without consulting with someone who would actually stand up here in front of you, but I'll look into it for you.
Q I believe a Lebanese delegation visited Washington, and terrorism issues were taken up with the delegation. I wonder if PKK was among the topics discussed?
MR. JOHNSON: I'm unaware that that meeting has taken place. I know that such a meeting was agreed to when Ambassador Pelletreau was last in the region, but the last information I had was that the meeting was yet to be scheduled. It was agreed to in principle, but the meeting had not yet taken place. I do not believe that a full agenda has been agreed either, so I don't think I can tell you about what might have been talked about.
Q Still on the same region. The Syrians on their own and a few others have been making some statements about the Israelis refusing to resume the Ambassadorial-level talks here. Is that the Administration's understanding, that Israel is stymieing the process?
MR. JOHNSON: Our understanding is that as a sponsor of the Madrid process, we facilitate talks between the parties, but we don't engage in discussion and speculation about what their discussions might be or any hindrances to them.
Q Can you at least say if you expect them to continue in the future?
MR. JOHNSON: No, I can only say what I've already said.
Q Is there anything going on already in another venue that we're not aware of? Sort of like Stockholm or Helsinki?
MR. JOHNSON: I don't have anything for you on any talks that may or may not be going on.
Q David, can I ask you about Haiti in the wake of the death yesterday? There was a suggestion by the Embassy there that this may have been criminal activity. Can you comment on that sort of activity in general -- how the situation in Haiti is going?
MR. JOHNSON: I think that the wording we're using is that we don't have any evidence to indicate that the incident was premeditated. It was just something that happened because of the circumstances at hand.
We believe that the level of violence in Haiti has certainly gone down in a great way since the deployment of the MNF last fall, and I've no indication of any spike or any real change in that situation.
Q This may not be the building to ask the question, but let me try. Maybe you'll direct me to Commerce or the White House. Is the Administration about to impose new human rights standards for companies doing business overseas? Have I missed something? It's in the Los Angeles Times. I don't think I've seen it any place else, which is not surprising.
MR. JOHNSON: I have a little for you on that. As part of the human rights strategy that President Clinton announced when he extended MFN to China, the Administration has asked American business leaders to work with the Administration to develop a voluntary set of principles to advance human rights in China and elsewhere in the world.
We've not yet set a date for releasing any principles. We're continuing to consult with business, Congress, human rights and labor groups as part of this ongoing process, and we don't plan to discuss the details until we're ready to make an announcement to release them.
I'd comment that more generally we believe our economic interests and our human rights goals can be mutually reinforcing and trade ties can open closed societies and economic development and political stability are more likely in societies that respect human rights and the rule of law.
Q And you'll be asking companies to adhere to, or how would it --
MR. JOHNSON: This is something that we're developing in conjunction with a range of groups, including business, that we would look to companies to subscribe to as a matter of good business practice.
Q Have you offered, or it seems like -- I mean, Clinton said you were going to do that.
MR. JOHNSON: As I said before, it's part of the strategy that President Clinton announced when he extended MFN to China, and that the program remains under development.
Q A follow-up on China, if I might. A couple of things, David. Can you update us on the -- I forget the envoy that's going from this Department over to China on the civil rights question. What is the current status of negotiations with them on that one?
Secondly, on the trademark and patent matter. Any progress there, or are we still at an impasse?
And, third, a comment made by former Secretary of State Baker yesterday was that he thought it very possible that when Deng goes, the PLA could come into power. Would you comment on that one?
MR. JOHNSON: Okay, I'll try to take those in some sort of order.
On the question of the intellectual property issue, I don't have anything to advance that story for you today beyond what we've said before.
With respect to John Shattuck's trip, he arrived in Beijing yesterday. In talks there today and on Saturday, he is continuing our bilateral human rights dialogue with China and reviewing points raised by President Clinton and Secretary Christopher with the Chinese Foreign Minister here in Washington last September, including the release of prisoners of conscience, medical parole cases, access to Chinese prisons for international humanitarian organizations, and direct negotiations with the Dalai Lama on Tibet issues.
He's also discussing issues of legal reform. Since he hasn't been there very long, I don't yet have a readout for you on any results of those discussions.
In terms of what sort of governmental changes might be in store should Mr. Deng pass -- and I would note that, as Assistant Secretary Lord said earlier in the week, we believe that's a matter for Mr. Deng's family to comment on and not for us -- I'd note that Mr. Deng's successors in senior government positions have been in office for some years, and the United States continues to conduct its bilateral relationship with this group of Chinese leaders.
We would hope a change in China's leadership would not have a significant impact on the steady development of our bilateral relationship, which reflects the national interests of both the United States and China.
Q Does that mean the State Department has come out with a view that the people who are now basically running things are apt to be running things after he goes, because just the other day the Secretary said -- in a VOA interview he went on at length how unwise it would be to speculate on who might be taking over. They're in a transition stage.
What you just read seems to suggest we think the people there will remain in power.
MR. JOHNSON: It only notes that they have been in power for some years.
Q And you're dealing with them.
MR. JOHNSON: We are.
Q But you're not forecasting their --
MR. JOHNSON: We are not.
Q David, can I follow up on the Shattuck visit?
MR. JOHNSON: Yes, you may.
Q In the wire report about the arrest or detention -- I'm not sure which is the correct word of the Secretary - - to Wei Jingsheng. (A) Have you seen it? (B) Do you draw any notion of coincidence to the presence of Mr. Shattuck and her arrest? And (C) have you done anything about it by way of protest, or do you intend to?
MR. JOHNSON: I must answer your second question that I did not observe that before I walked out here. I'll be pleased to look into that and see if I can get you a reaction.
Q You don't have any evaluation of the human rights situation in China since MFN was extended last spring, do you?
MR. JOHNSON: As I believe Assistant Secretary Lord said earlier in the week, we believe that frankly it has deteriorated since the MFN renewal last May. While China has recently hosted the U.N. rapporteur on religious intolerance and has released several dissidents, it has harassed and imposed harsh sentences on other dissidents and more generally done little that would demonstrate a more serious commitment to universally recognized human rights.
Q You're evading my question about what Secretary Baker said about the PLA. Would the United States -- let's say, what would be our feeling at this point about a PLA takeover of the government? Can you make any comment about the likelihood of that?
MR. JOHNSON: I'm not doing hypotheticals and already having spun this out as far as I can, I think I'll leave it where it is.
Q Going back to your statement about the deterioration of human rights, do you think then there is -- are you linking the two events -- the United States breaking the link between trade and human rights and the deterioration? In other words --
MR. JOHNSON: No, I'm simply making an observation in response to a question as to what has happened over a period of time and using that as a marker.
Q Well, you're not saying it began in May. You're saying that it is a process that is independent of the U.S. de-linking?
MR. JOHNSON: I'm not trying to draw either a linkage or a de-linkage. I'm just saying that since that time, we've noted a deterioration.
Q David, Ron Brown went over there with a briefcase full of money and all. You all seemed -- a new policy of economic relations over human rights has been going full bore in China. That doesn't seem to be working either. How would you respond to that?
MR. JOHNSON: I'd think that we're going to need a little more time to evaluate where we come from on that process. As I noted in response to an earlier question, on the question of a set of principles for businesses to follow, we believe that an open economic relationship can reinforce our goals on human rights.
Q (Multiple questions)
Q (Inaudible) deterioration in human rights indicate to you that there's going to be trouble in the trade relationship ahead, or is there any implication from what you and Winston Lord have been saying about the trend in human rights? Are there no implications for the trade relationship?
MR. JOHNSON: I wouldn't want to draw that conclusion for you without consulting with persons who are more expert than myself, so I'll see what I can find out.
Q David, will Shattuck be meeting with any dissidents as he did the last time?
MR. JOHNSON: I don't have anything for you on all of his appointments outside of government.
Q Have the Chinese asked you not to let him meet with dissidents?
MR. JOHNSON: I'm unaware of any requests that they've made.
Q Since there's a lot of interest in this subject, could you see if Shattuck could be made available to us?
MR. JOHNSON: I'll see when he's going to arrive back and see if he's interested in coming up.
Q Ms. Shelly took my question and promised to check the report on the exchange of gun fire in Pyongyang last night. Have you checked?
MR. JOHNSON: To the best of my knowledge, we didn't have anything to confirm it.
Q On Algeria, do you have anything on the meetings of the opposition groups and their efforts to draft some sort of common platform?
MR. JOHNSON: I'd say that the announcement by the major Algerian political parties, meeting this week in Rome under the auspices of the St. Egidio Society, that they have agreed on a common program for ending the crisis in Algeria is a significant event. The parties concerned represented over 80 percent of votes cast in Algeria's December 1991 national elections, and the results of the St. Egidio meeting appear to be a serious attempt to contribute to the establishment of a process that could lead to a non-violent solution to the Algerian crisis. We hope they will be followed by concrete steps by all concerned to lower the level of confrontation.
Q I have a follow-up on that. Since the Armed Islamic Group is not included, how far do you think these talks are going in actually finding a solution for Algeria?
MR. JOHNSON: I'm unwilling to make that type of evaluation. I'd just note that the parties concerned represented the vast majority of the people who cast ballots in the 1991 election.
Q Should the Armed Islamic Group be included in these talks?
MR. JOHNSON: I'd say that we have been willing to engage in a dialogue only with those who have renounced violence.
Q How does the U.S. Government justify giving money and oil to North Korea when the trade embargo is still in effect? Isn't this a violation of U.S. law?
MR. JOHNSON: I believe that all of the actions we're taking in furtherance of the agreements we've reached are fully consistent with U.S. law.
Q Do you have any announcement today on the easing -- the promised easing of trade and investment restrictions vis-a-vis North Korea?
MR. JOHNSON: I do not.
Q Back to Algeria for just a moment, David, if I could. The agreement in Rome includes about 80 percent of the vote -- or those represented by 80 percent of the vote, and what have they specifically agreed to do? I didn't catch the wording on it.
MR. JOHNSON: They've agreed on a common program for ending the crisis in Algeria.
Q I see. Are we, this government, involved in backing that -- brokering it or --
MR. JOHNSON: No, we were not involved as a sponsor or an organizer of this conference.
Q And how about France?
MR. JOHNSON: I'm unaware of any involvement by them, but I would direct your question to the Government of France.
Q Will you be asking the Algerian Government to take action on what's been agreed in Italy?
MR. JOHNSON: Only I'd say that we hope this agreement will be followed by concrete steps by all concerned to lower the level of confrontation.
Q (Inaudible) saying anything about the government?
MR. JOHNSON: I don't plan to right now, no.
Q There are no concrete steps that you are aware of?
MR. JOHNSON: I think that the agreement's just been reached, so I'm not sure that I would have expected any.
Q May I follow up on this Kurdish story here. Does the Administration think that Kurds in Turkey should be recognized by Turkey as a legal minority?
MR. JOHNSON: Let me look into that, because I'm afraid your question carries some legal implications that I'd prefer not to try to address without asking my lawyers for advice.
Q Thank you.
MR. JOHNSON: Thank you.
(The briefing concluded at 1:30 p.m.)
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