U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE OFFICE OF THE SPOKESMAN DAILY PRESS BRIEFING JANUARY 18, 1995 U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE DAILY PRESS BRIEFING I N D E X Wednesday, January 18, 1995 Briefer: Christine Shelly JAPAN Update on Earthquake Offer of U.S. Assistance .......................1 Death of U.S. Citizen ..........................1 Status of U.S. Diplomatic Personnel/Property ...2 Status of Assistance to U.S. Citizens ..........1-2,12 Military Training/Operations in Okinawa ..........12 TERRORISM Threat to Airline Flights in East Asia Region ....3 SINGAPORE Reaction to International Herald Tribune, Lingle, et al. Verdict .................................3-4 TURKEY Report of Missing U.S. Airman ....................4 MIDDLE EAST PEACE Israeli Settlements ..............................4-5 Congressional Support for Middle East Policy .....8 Location of U.S. Embassy in Israel .............9 Syria-Turkey Deal: PKK Member for Water Agreement ......................................8-9 HAITI Determination of Safe/Secure Environment .........5-7 Transition from MNF to UNMIH .....................5-7 Elections Draft Electoral Law Submitted to Parliament ....6-7 NORTH KOREA Status of Liaison Office .........................7 Easing of Trade/Commercial Regulations ...........7,10 ACDA/DOE Team of Experts in Region ...............7-8,10 Heavy Oil Deliveries .............................8 KEDO Talks .......................................9-10,11 Light Water Reactors .............................11-12 BOSNIA/CROATIA British FM Hurd Discussions on Capitol Hill ......13 Opposition to Unilateral Lifting of Sanctions ..13 Expiration of UNPROFOR Mandate in Croatia ......13-14
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE DAILY PRESS BRIEFING
WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 18, 1995, 1:04 P.M. (ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED)
MS. SHELLY: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. Let me begin with a short update on the latest developments regarding the earthquake in Japan.
As I think you're all aware, on January l7, the President offered to send a team of experts to assist the Japanese Government's relief efforts. He also offered the assistance of U.S. military forces in Japan.
We are waiting for the Japanese Government to respond to our offer and then we'll announce further details.
At their request, we have provided the Japanese Foreign Ministry a list of military support which we could provide Japan if requested. We anticipate hearing from the Japanese Government in the next few days regarding their transportation and other needs.
At this time, there is one reported death of an American citizen, Voni Lynn Wong, a teacher from California. We offer our condolences to the family and will continue to assist them.
We estimate there are several thousand private U.S. citizens in the Osaka-Kobe district affected by the earthquake.
The American Embassy in Tokyo is sending a group of Embassy employees to the Kobe district to assist consular employees there with their efforts to locate members of the American community.
Consulate personnel are contacting hospitals, schools and universities known to employ or teach Americans, large American businesses and individual American business people, large hotels in the Kobe area and local police and emergency assistance operations.
We have been in contact with a number of American companies. Companies, as well as any private citizen, can inquire about the welfare of any private citizen in the Kobe district by calling the Working Group at the State Department at 202-647-0900. Those calling about members of the U.S. military should call the Department of Defense.
The U.S. Consulate and the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo are continuing to monitor the situation and will provide the Department with updated information on the welfare of American citizens in the Osaka-Kobe district.
We also had a question about the status of U.S. diplomatic personnel and property. I have a short update on that.
The earthquake damaged the U.S. Consulate General building in Osaka. The 11-story office building apparently sustained some structural damage, but all utilities have been restored and the building is secure. The Consulate General building is now operating, and some staff members have been able to get to the office despite the disruption of local vehicular and train travel.
The Consul General's residence sustained substantial damage, while other staff housing received minor damage.
No American employees or dependents were injured.
I'll be happy to take your questions on this or any other topic.
Q Are there any Americans unaccounted for that you're aware of?
MS. SHELLY: I don't know if we're in a position to answer that yet. One of the things, of course, that American personnel down in the region will be trying to do is to certainly look through the Americans that they know who work in those different establishments or that are known to live in the district there. We'll be trying to make contact with them.
As you know, there were some initial difficulties reported in telephonic contact and the transportation arteries, of course -- those that are still operative -- are very congested. So I don't know if we're in a position yet to make the determination that everyone has been accounted for, but that's certainly what they're in the process of doing.
Q I want to stay in the region, but I don't have Japan, if everybody is finished. Anymore on Japan?
I see your posting on what I asked about the Pacific area airplane threats. Did you have any more details on that or how much longer the security precautions will be in effect?
MS. SHELLY: In terms of how much longer, I think we're still where we were yesterday on that, which is simply they will remain in place as long as we think that it's prudent to do so. And, yes, I did put up an answer to your question saying that it was the region.
Q This means any airplanes that fly into American airports have to go through these extra security procedures.
MS. SHELLY: That's my understanding.
Q And did you have the Strobe Talbott itinerary today?
MS. SHELLY: I'm told that we will be in a position to provide the details of the itinerary tomorrow.
Q Thank you so much.
MS. SHELLY: Our normal practice is not to put it out more than one or two working days before the trip actually begins. I understand he's scheduled to depart on Monday. Very often some of the details related to the trip are not actually finalized with the governments in question until somewhat closer to the time. But I'm told that tomorrow we should be able to give you the details of his itinerary.
Q Will he speak to us, or will we get a chance to speak to him before he goes?
MS. SHELLY: I don't know. I'll check.
Q Thank you.
Q The same region. I wonder, since I guess you've addressed the issue before, whether you have any reaction to the convictions in this implicit slander situation -- I guess, for lack of a better term -- in Singapore?
MS. SHELLY: A Singapore court yesterday found The International Herald-Tribune and Professor Christopher Lingle, as well as Michael Richardson, The International Herald-Tribune's publisher for Asia, Richard McLean, the IHT's publisher, and Singapore Press Holdings, the local printer for the IHT, guilty of contempt of court. All of the defendants were fined.
The decision is unfortunate. We believe that freedom of expression is a universal right of all people, regardless of their nationality or culture.
Q Do you have any reaction to reports that a group called the Lebanon Freedom Fighters is holding a U.S. airman and his son? They've been reported missing in Turkey.
MS. SHELLY: I'm going to have to check. I don't have any information on that.
Q Yesterday, in the briefing, somebody described the Republican leadership as an attempt -- because of Mr. Gingrich's statement about having reservations on deployment of U.S. troops on the Golan -- the Republican leadership was described as making an attempt to scuttle, postpone, delay or even sabotage the peace process.
MS. SHELLY: That was one of the questioners. It wasn't the briefer.
Q But my question is: Does the State Department think that the Republican leadership is trying to do that?
MS. SHELLY: No, it does not.
Q It does not. Good.
The other question is on the question of settlements. It's true, isn't it, that the building of settlements is not illegal but an obstacle? But that doesn't mean that some people moving into the settlements or building a road to ease their way to a capital city like Jerusalem -- is that an infraction of the peace process?
MS. SHELLY: On settlements, our position is well known and unchanged, and I simply don't have anything else on that issue that I wish to offer.
Q Well, I mean -- I understand that. The position is, as Mr. McCurry said I think on his penultimate briefing here in December or January, that settlements are not illegal but they're an obstacle to peace.
Well, the question is: From the Israeli point of view it's not the same thing. It may be -- they're not illegal, but they may be an obstacle to peace to some -- to the United States but not necessarily to Israel. Is that right?
MS. SHELLY: As to precise questions about the Israeli position, they are appropriately directed to the Israeli Government. It is simply not an issue in which we are inclined to go into a lot of detail on commenting from the podium, and I'm certain that that is likely to remain our position.
Q There was something about, we were going to get an answer -- let's see, I've forgotten where it was -- about Syria? Is the Syrian Ambassador and the Israeli Ambassador engaged in meeting here somewhere?
MS. SHELLY: Let me be careful on that, because actually in response to an acknowledgement of a question yesterday, I understand that was interpreted as my having given an affirmative response. What I said in response to this yesterday was, as you know, we do facilitate contacts between the parties in a way which we deem can be useful, and that the parties do, but we simply do decline publicly to either confirm or deny or characterize the nature of those, including when they might take place and at what level.
We simply feel that being quiet about the diplomacy underway is also the way to be most effective in the role that we play. So therefore unless there is a specific point that we and the parties agree we should make publicly, we will certainly continue, in all probability, to decline to give the details of these talks.
Q Are there any Syrian-Israeli contacts going on?
MS. SHELLY: I refer you to the Syrians and Israelis to make that characterization.
Q Does the U.S. Government agree with Boutros Ghali's assessment that March 31 is the date for turning over peacekeeping responsibilities to the United Nations? Is the situation stable enough now?
MS. SHELLY: There have been some developments on this within the last couple of days. First of all, I understand that today the U.N. Secretary General did release his own assessment of the situation in Haiti. This is an assessment which he has directed to the Security Council.
As I think you know, Security Council Resolution 940 stipulates that UNMIH will assume the full range of its functions when a secure and stable environment has been established and UNMIH has the adequate force capability and structure to assume the full range of its functions.
According to the MNF commander, a stable and secure environment exists in Haiti. We anticipate that later this week the MNF member states will also recommend, in their own report to the Security Council, that the transition from MNF to UNMIH should be authorized.
The current UNMIH mandate -- or the current MNF mandate actually expires at the end of this month. I think it's on the 31st. What we are expecting to happen next is that there will be a new resolution which will be adopted by the Security Council, which will make that formal determination based on these inputs from the commander, from the MNF participants, and also reflecting the Secretary General's assessment. Then that determination of safe and secure environment can then be made.
The U.N., in conjunction with the U.S. and other troop- contributing nations, has finalized the broad force structure for UNMIH. The U.N. has also confirmed U.S. Major General Joseph Kinzer to head UNMIH.
We understand that most of the troops participating now in the MNF will continue on with UNMIH, which will help lower the costs of the operation and build on the MNF's experience.
As you know, the U.S. will provide no more than half of UNMIH's force after the transition.
I have one other piece of information that I just want to draw to your attention because the issue regarding the hand-off also frequently raises the issue of elections and how the Haitians are coming on this.
We have talked before about the need, kind of the trigger to get the process started, the necessity of having the draft electoral law developed by the Executive and then submitted to the Parliament.
The draft electoral law was actually submitted to the Haitian Parliament on January 16. This provides the means for organizing the parliamentary and local elections in the Spring. The draft law covers election administration. For example: the establishment of departmental and communal electoral councils; the delineation of electoral districts; the eligibility and registration of candidates; the establishment of registration offices and polling places; and the eligibility and registration of voters.
Once the law is approved by Parliament and promulgated, a date for the elections can be set and then will be announced by the now- functioning provisional electoral council.
Q You talked a lot about the first of the two conditions -- a secure and stable environment, and then touched on UNMIH's readiness, talking about what parts of the MNF would continue, and so on. Can you address that second part more frontally? What is the status of UNMIH in regards to whether it's ready to go?
MS. SHELLY: What will happen, or we are expecting to happen, is that this determination will be made by the Security Council. Then the clock will start ticking, I think, for the final transitional arrangements. We're talking in terms of the formal transition, I guess, from MNF to UNMIH taking place in March. I think it's the timeframe. I think this has also been signaled by the Pentagon in its recent statements on Haiti. They're talking about toward the later half of March.
But then once the determination is made, then the rest of the arrangements for that transfer will then be underway. So that's the timeframe that we're talking of for the hand- off.
Q Do you have anything new on the opening of a Liaison Office in Hanoi, or on the easing of trade and investment restrictions with North Korea?
MS. SHELLY: No, nothing new today. I have a few little details, if you want, on North Korean things. Why don't I just take a second and go through those.
MS. SHELLY: This on Korea, on the Korean nuclear arrangement. George was asking specifically about the loosening of the trade and commercial regulations, which you know are expected to be announced by the -- did I miss something here?
Q (Inaudible) George's question.
MS. SHELLY: It was a twofer, definitely. There was a question before about the team going to Pyongyang to discuss the removal and storage of the spent fuel rods. I just have a little bit of additional information on that.
An ACDA-DOE team of experts arrived in the DPRK this week and will probably remain there for about one week. They're there to conduct technical-level discussions with the North Koreans on the storage and disposition of the spent fuel rods.
This is a follow-on visit to the talks which were held on this issue in November. We understand that the team intends to issue a statement at the end of its discussions.
Since I know you're interested in updates on all aspects of the agreement -- and I'm putting the question daily even if we don't have a lot -- on the heavy oil deliveries, the deliveries of the heavy oil are on-going at this time. I understand that a first ship arrived and began off-loading yesterday.
As I think you know, the Department of Defense is the contracting agent for the shipment of heavy oil under the Agreed Framework, so the Pentagon may have some additional details that they can provide to you regarding the delivery.
Q Going back to this matter about the Golan and Mr. Gingrich. Is it fair to say that the State Department will make no commitment on the deployment of troops on the Golan, even when requested by either Syria or Israel or both, until after there has been a discussion about it in the Congress?
MS. SHELLY: I don't have a lot that I can say on that, and I think you know that. First of all, the issue itself has not come up in any formal kind of way, so we have not been asked and therefore it remains hypothetical at this point.
As I think you also know, there has been traditionally a broad base of support, bipartisan support, for our policy in the Middle East, for the peace process; and that is certainly something that we expect to continue with the new Congress.
It's only natural, as the new Congress is getting started and as they are beginning to have hearings on the wide range of foreign policy issues, issues such as the one that you mentioned will come up and will certainly be discussed. But I have no reason to believe that in the context of the evolution of these discussions we will not continue to be able to work very effectively with the Congress to maintain the bipartisan support for our Middle East policy.
Q Just one more question, if I may, please. There was a question asked about Syria making some kind of a deal with Turkey on water. It's in the transcript here somewhere. Here: "Last weekend, they offered a PKK leader for one water agreement with Turkey." The Syrian Government offering some kind of an agreement. Do you have you anything on that by chance?
MS. SHELLY: I'm looking into that but I don't have anything on that.
Q On Congress and the Middle East policy. Would the State Department be bound to follow the orders of Congress if Congress ordered the U.S. Embassy in Israel to be moved from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem? In other words, is that within the purview of Congress to dictate such a move?
MS. SHELLY: I think that's a legal question, or at least I would want to consult the Department's Legal Advisor before I would answer that. I will check on that.
Q Christine, I got lost somewhere between Hanoi and Pyongyang.
MS. SHELLY: George, give him a map. (Laughter)
Q Did you mention anything about KEDO? We were supposed to hear something about KEDO after everyone went home and got a chance to evaluate it. Have we got anything?
MS. SHELLY: Well, I checked on that point, too...
Q Oh, you did?
MS. SHELLY: ...and I had so little on that point that I decided I would not embarrass myself by offering it. So now that you've caught me, I will read my guidance which says, "We remain in contact with the ROK and Japan and expect to renew direct, trilateral contacts in the near future." I asked them to decipher that for me: "Does that mean they've gone back to their governments and we now have something more we'd like to say on this?" The answer is no; nothing more we want to say on this at this point.
Q What time is the briefing that we were supposed to have?
MS. SHELLY: I know. My credibility was called into question; my ability to deliver high-level State Department briefers. It's a painful subject for me, George.
Q Can we assume that this was the high-level briefing?
MS. SHELLY: No. We definitely cannot assume that. Chris.
Q What were they doing for four days?
MS. SHELLY: Meeting, talking.
Q Right, but were they schmoozing or were they actually talking about something substantive?
MS. SHELLY: I don't know. Is "schmoozing" a new word in our diplomatic parlance now? Do we need to --
Q It's a low-level demarche.
MS. SHELLY: A low-level demarche? I could say that they were serious and businesslike, but then you would think I was talking about what was happening up in New York. (Laughter)
Q I'll get to that in a minute.
MS. SHELLY: I just wanted to give somebody an opening. I was waiting for --
Q Going back to the ACDA-DOE team in North Korea, you said that they're looking at both the storage and the disposition of the spent fuel. How soon would you expect that stuff to be moved? Or are they just really looking at how it's keeping?
MS. SHELLY: I think it's more in the category of the latter, but let me check on that before I make any definitive statement in that regard. I think that the issue of moving it is still rather considerably down the road. This is something, obviously, they will have periodic discussions on, and certainly and looking and seeing how things are going out there. It obviously is necessary to have teams out there from time to time to take a look.
Q On the other issue of the North Koreans and the United States lifting some restrictions on commercial and other kinds of contacts, obviously they've announced some things and they've done some things. I think some outside companies are looking at places in North Korea.
You said the United States, as we get closer to that January 21 date, was looking at things. Do you have anything to tell us about yet, or are we going to wait until the last minute?
MS. SHELLY: That's what George asked me, when we did the quick switch from Hanoi to Pyongyang?
Q I missed the whole second part of it.
Q I'm sorry I asked that question. (Laughter)
Q Back to the KEDO question. You mentioned, Christine, they're going to get together again. Do you have any more information about that?
MS. SHELLY: On KEDO?
Q Yeah, on KEDO? On KEDO.
MS. SHELLY: No.
MS. SHELLY: No. I gave you my one sentence.
Q You have nothing. You gave me everything?
MS. SHELLY: Yes.
Q You basically told me we don't know anything more than we did about those meetings last week?
MS. SHELLY: I told you that they would get back together again.
The talks went well, and you know that. We said that they had four days of discussions. They were very productive. The fact that they went on as long as they did was an indication of the fact that they were making good progress and no one felt the need to cut off after one day or two days or three days. They simply let the talks unfold in a way until they reached the point where they felt they were ready to refer things back to their respective capitals for discussion.
This is not a formal point I'm making but certainly, the Japanese Government, for all its obvious interest in this issue and time for reflection, also have another very major issue that they're dealing with right now. If it takes a little bit more time before we might want to come back with more news on KEDO, I think that's certainly something we will be respectful of.
Q The U.S. Government position on those reactors has always been, as I understood it, that basically South Korea would provide the bulk of those two reactors; they would be South Korean designs, and so on. You repeated that yesterday, that the contract would refer to the South Korean designs. Those are, of course, designed by an American company, I think -- Combustion Engineering. So are you saying that the reactors would only be that design? It would not be actually built by the South Koreans?
MS. SHELLY: I don't have any further details to offer on that at this time. I'll check and see. We'll say something more when we can, but I don't have anything more on that.
Q I don't want to overload the system on Japan here, but one more question. I don't remember it coming up at the Clinton-Murayama news conference, but the Japanese press have been quite excited about what they say is an agreement by the United States to cut back on military training and operations in Okinawa. Was that agreed specifically, explicitly, by the United States during the January 11 meeting?
MS. SHELLY: I don't have any details on that here. But given the fact that it was a Summit taking place, the right place to direct that is either the White House or possibly the Pentagon. It's not something that State would have the lead on in answering anyway.
Q According to the Japanese press, State does have the lead in the form of Ambassador Mondale, who's been delegated to take charge of that cutback.
MS. SHELLY: Okay.
Q So maybe you could check with your people.
MS. SHELLY: I will check on that.
Q One question about the Japanese catastrophe.
MS. SHELLY: Sure.
Q Apart from the intergovernmental process that's taking place, Americans have a great many friends in Japan and vice versa, and they're very worried about the condition of many people in Japan as a result of this earthquake. Is there some way that the Government of the United States can tell the American people: "If you have friends and you want to send food or blankets or whatever medicines, that this can be expedited in some way to these people in Japan"?
MS. SHELLY: The State Department does have a Working Group which was formed on this the day before yesterday in the evening, and yesterday at the briefing I did announce how we had structured ourselves to deal with public inquiries and also gave a telephone number.
Q Christine, if I could move to the subject of Croatia and Bosnia -- the former Yugoslavia -- Sir Douglas Hurd was heard on the Hill to speak in opposition to unilateral lift. There are news reports in our local papers to say that he had some success. Could you amplify anything about that or confirm regarding Mr. Hurd's lobbying?
MS. SHELLY: Mr. Hurd was up there in his own capacity, and I think the measure of success is perhaps something that you should refer to the British Embassy here in Washington; and I don't speak as the Spokesman for the U.S. Congress.
The British national position on this has been one of opposition to unilateral lift, as I think you know. Of course, the fact that he went up and had discussions with members of Congress -- which is something that Foreign Ministers frequently do, and it's certainly something that we encourage because we think it's part of our process whereby a broad range of views can be heard and should be heard by members of our Congress -- it certainly didn't come as a surprise to us that he went up to the Hill and he had appointments with key members of Congress and that he made his case.
Regarding some of the risks associated with unilateral lift, those are of course risks and concerns that this Administration also shares.
Q He mentioned, in response to a question on Monday night, Christine, that he would be going to Tudjman -- to the Croatians -- regarding the UNPROFOR withdrawal from there. Do you have any further information about what he will be doing, or -- I probably shouldn't be asking you this, but what will we, our State Department, be doing to convince the Croatians to keep the troops?
MS. SHELLY: On the first part of that, I really do have to refer you to the British Embassy or to British official sources on that because it's up to them to remark on what his itinerary might be.
On the second point, we said in a briefing last week that we had expressed our very strong concern, and in fact our disagreement with that decision; but we also said that we would be continuing to work very closely with the Croatian Government in an effort to mitigate any adverse effects of that decision, if the Croatian authorities do proceed as they have said they will to set the stage for an eventual UNPROFOR withdrawal.
Q Yes. And, finally, Mr. Hurd said that if this UNPROFOR did withdraw from Croatia, there would be an upsurge in fighting there, which he himself thought would be very dangerous and very uncertain about its outcome. Do we share that view?
MS. SHELLY: We certainly believe that there are very real concerns about possible escalation in fighting should that occur.
Q Thank you kindly.
(The briefing concluded at l:3l p.m.)
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