U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE OFFICE OF THE SPOKESMAN DAILY PRESS BRIEFING JANUARY 19, 1995 U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE DAILY PRESS BRIEFING I N D E X Thursday, January 19, 1995 Briefer: Christine Shelly ANNOUNCEMENTS Secretary Christopher Address/Q&A at JFK School of Gov't. in Cambridge on 1/20/95 ..............1,3 Release of Global Landmine Report to Congress ....1-2 JAPAN Osaka/Kobe Earthquake--Situation Update U.S. Citizen Casualties ........................2,4-5 U.S. Embassy/Consulate Contacts ................2-3 Japan's Response to U.S. Offers of Assistance ..4 Number of U.S. Citizens Sheltered at Consulate .4 CUBA Migration Talks in New York ......................3-4 Report of Cuban Boatpeople Arriving in U.S. ......5 LEGAL Extradition Agreements/Fugitives .................5 TURKEY Update on Missing U.S. Air Force Officer, Son ....6 SIERRA LEONE Report of Kidnapping of American .................7 HAITI Review of UN Secretary General's Report on UNMIH .7 Report of Draft Resolution on MNF/UNMIH Transition .....................................8 NORTH KOREA Lifting of Trade Restrictions ....................8
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE DAILY PRESS BRIEFING
THURSDAY, JANUARY 19, 1995, 1:12 P. M. (ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED)
MS. SHELLY: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. I have several announcements, or at least a few, to begin with.
First, let me remind you that tomorrow at noon, Secretary Christopher will deliver a foreign policy address at the John F. Kennedy School of Government in Cambridge, Massachusetts. He will also participate in a question-and- answer session with the audience following his address.
Barring any technical difficulties, both the Secretary's address and the question-and-answer session will be piped into the State Department press briefing room live beginning at noon.
Because of this event -- I'm trying not to smile when I say this -- I'll not plan to hold the regular daily press briefing tomorrow. The Press Office will be available to answer your questions on the usual basis.
That's the first one. The second one is I have a short announcement regarding the release of the Global Landmine Report to Congress entitled, "Hidden Killers: The Global Landmine Crisis." On Friday, January 27, the Department of State will release its second report to Congress on the global landmine situation. We will also have an event at the Department on that day. I'll give you a few details of this, but we'll also be posting an announcement to this effect. In connection with the report's release, we will be having a program in the Dean Acheson Auditorium of the Department of State. It will be held from 10 to 11 o'clock in the morning.
Secretary of State Warren Christopher will speak on U.S. Strategies for Demining and Landmine Control, including the international meeting on mine clearance in Geneva this spring. The Honorable Patrick Leahy, Senator from Vermont, will also speak.
The U.S. has a strong non-proliferation and humanitarian interest in curbing the worldwide spread of the scourge of anti-personnel landmines. Landmines often remain from long forgotten wars, claiming innocent victims, often children, and causing tremendous economic and social disruption.
In addition to the release of our report on this issue, our program, I should also note, will feature displays of various types of landmines and current landmine clearing technology.
I draw this very interesting program to your attention and hope that many of you can attend.
Let me also give you an update, picking up where we left off yesterday, on the situation in Japan. We now have a total of two confirmed American citizen casualties. We have spoken with both families and will continue to offer our assistance to them.
While telephone service is improving, it is still unreliable. U.S. Consulate employees, as well as a group of employees from the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo, continue to contact hospitals, schools, American companies, hotels, local police and the emergency assistance operations. These calls so far have not revealed any further reports of American citizen casualties.
As a result of the calls, many of the hotels are posting the U.S. Embassy and Consulate contact information. This information is also being broadcast by local TV stations in Japanese and English.
Several hotels, as well as American companies, are attempting to create lists of American citizens present and/or accounted for in their establishments and will fax these lists to the consulate. They will assist us in responding to inquiries from American citizens who may wish to find out about family and loved ones.
The Kobe Consulate housing compound has taken in some of the local Americans who have lost their housing. The Department has issued a public announcement on the earthquake which provides information to the American traveling public.
The U.S. Consulate General in Osaka/Kobe is providing emergency services only. U.S. Consular Officers in the Osaka/Kobe district are working to assist private American citizens and companies.
The Osaka/Kobe Earthquake Working Group at the State Department stands ready to assist with requests for information about private American citizens. Let me just repeat the number: It's 202-647-0900. Over 6,000 calls have been placed to that number so far. More than half of the callers requested direct assistance. The Working Group is operational around the clock.
The U.S. Embassy in Tokyo and the Consulate in Osaka/Kobe continue to monitor the situation and provide us with updated information.
With that, I'll be happy to take your questions on this or any other subject.
Q On the Secretary's speech, will advance copies be made available, and do you have a subject matter for the speech?
MS. SHELLY: It's a general foreign policy address. On the advance-text issue, we're working on that. We will try to provide you with an advance copy of the text, but check with the Press Office tomorrow morning regarding its availability.
Q Christine, just a technical matter. I thought Mr. McNamara was going to come down and talk about NPT.
MS. SHELLY: Yes, he was going to. Actually, in fact it was going to be a kind of dual briefing with both Ted McNamara and also Tom Graham from ACDA who is the head of the interagency delegation. I did not know at the time we put out the first announcement that Tom Graham was actually out of town.
So we're still going to see if we can provide -- I have to check on his travel schedule, but I have to check and see if we can still do that. If we can't do it prior to the commencement of the prepcon, we'll try to do a briefing at the end.
Q Do you have anything on Cuban migration, the meeting in New York?
MS. SHELLY: Yes, I've got a little bit on that. The delegations so far have had serious and constructive dialogue. The topics have included U.S. progress to meet our commitment to authorize 20,000 Cuban migrants for travel to the U.S. this year; the Special Cuban Migration Program - - that's the SCMP -- my guidance says, "Do not, repeat not, say 'lottery'," so I'm drawing this new phraseology to your attention --; timely issuance of exit visas by the Cuban Government; the rate of voluntary return from Guantanamo and Panama; provision of information on U.S. humanitarian parole process; administrative and personnel issues at the U.S. Interests Section in Havana; and the fees being charged Cuban migrants for air travel to the United States.
The talks are progressing well, I'm told, and are expected to conclude today.
Q On the earthquake, how has Japan responded to U.S. offers of assistance? Have there been any requests?
MS. SHELLY: What's happened so far, as I think you're probably aware, is that the Department of Defense is right now providing 57,000 blankets to those in need. That's the first thing. The second thing that's happened is that the Ambassador has utilized his $25,000 in the discretionary funds that he has available for emergencies. I believe that he has directed that to an appeal from the Japanese Red Cross.
As you know, because we've mentioned before, the Japanese Government has agreed to the visit of the experts team headed by the FEMA Director Witt; and we're working up the details of that timing of that visit so that it enhances the recovery effort.
You know there's an offer, of course, that General Shalikashvili made when he was out there, indicating that the American forces stand ready to help in any way that the Japanese Government believes they can be of assistance. I think that's about all I've got right now so far in terms of the specific requests received and things we're doing.
Q You mentioned that a number of Americans had taken shelter in the Consulate facilities. Do you have a figure as to how many?
MS. SHELLY: I don't. I'll see if I can get one, but I don't have one with me.
Q The second American citizen killed there, is that the person who was named in The New York Times this morning?
MS. SHELLY: Actually, it isn't. That, in fact, was not the second name and picture. It was actually a Ghanaian citizen, not an American citizen. There is another one. We go through a formal notification of next-of-kin process. Those contacts are underway, but they're not completed yet; therefore I'm not in a position to confirm the identity of the second individual.
Q On the extradition issue. How much priority does the State Department place on bringing fugitives back to America to face justice?
MS. SHELLY: The extradition issue is one which we do attach a considerable amount of importance too. I think the reflection of that, generally, as a policy, is evident by the fact that we do have extradition agreements -- that are actually in force -- with over 100 countries. Certainly, as a general policy, it's something which we attach a great deal of importance.
Q Just to follow, how vigorous is the effort by the United States to get those other countries to comply with the spirit and letter of sending wanted fugitives back to the U.S.?
MS. SHELLY: They're not just agreements that are in force in name, they're also agreements in force in practice. We certainly, in individual cases -- although I'm not in a position at this point to go into discussion of specific cases -- rigorously pursue that aspect of those agreements.
Q On traffic in the other direction, do you have information on a boatload of Cubans that apparently arrived in the U.S. today?
MS. SHELLY: All I have seen so far is the wire service report. I was checking to try to see if we could confirm that through official sources. I'm not in a position to do so yet, but I don't have any reason to question the accuracy of the information based on what I know.
We have always known that there could be incidents -- successful travel of this kind. But I think overall, insofar as it touches on the commitments which the Cuban authorities have made to police their borders and try to stop the flow. I think that they have been certainly rigorous in their efforts to implement their commitments in this; and I think it's actually the first time that that's happened in quite some time, certainly, at least a few months.
Q Do you have anything on the oil delivery to North Korea?
MS. SHELLY: I don't have anything beyond what I said yesterday.
Q Do you have an update on the American officer missing in Turkey?
MS. SHELLY: I have just a little bit more on that. As you know, late yesterday, in response to a question at the Press Briefing, we confirmed that on January 15 a U.S. Air Force Officer, assigned to the U.S. Office of Defense Cooperation, in Ankara, Lt. Colonel Michael Couillard, disappeared with his young son, while on a skiing trip. An extensive well-publicized search has been mounted.
We also, late yesterday, said that there had been an anonymous caller to Turkish news organizations claiming that he was being held by a previously unknown group identified as the Lebanese Freedom Fighters, which had threatened to kill them unless certain demands were met.
There had been several more telephone calls in Turkey today repeating the earlier claim that the two Americans are being detained and will be killed if Haji Ali Durani is not released. The call appears to be from persons representing the same group which telephoned yesterday.
We are still unable to determine the validity of these claims. In the meantime, the search for the missing Americans continues around the ski slopes where they disappeared.
Q Are you taking the phone threats seriously? Are you treating them as a possible terror incident?
MS. SHELLY: Certainly we take the reports and the calls very seriously, particularly when there are Americans who are missing. It is an issue which is of great concern for us.
However, before we make that determination, it involves a full evaluation of all of the information that we have and a study of exactly what the information is, the way that it came in. It's a process that we are certainly in the early stages. We're very careful about what we say publicly, because our evaluation also includes the use of all available intelligence assets for us to make the determination that the claim which is being made is, in fact, actually true.
So it may be we'll be able to provide you with better information throughout the course of the day on this, but at this point, our evaluative process is not yet sufficiently complete that I think we can actually make that call.
Q What were these people doing when they disappeared? Were they out on an outing -- an Embassy outing? I've seen different reports. Were they just skiing?
MS. SHELLY: I know they were out skiing. It may have been -- I saw one report myself that said it was in connection with a Boy Scout function. I myself don't know if that is the case or not. I'll try to get some more information on what they were doing, but I don't have any more with me right now.
Q There was also a report of an American having been kidnapped in Sierra Leone. Do you have anything?
MS. SHELLY: No. I haven't seen that yet. Let me check.
Q Is it true that Russia is holding up the transfer of authority to UNMIH in Haiti because it's upset with U.S. criticism or comments on the situation in Chechnya?
MS. SHELLY: What I can tell you about what the Russians have done in the Security Council -- let me just stick to the factual part. The Russians have told the Security Council, in New York ,that they would like five additional days to consider the Secretary General's report on the U.N. Mission in Haiti.
The Security Council, as I think we mentioned earlier in the week, needs to take action on UNMIH's mandate because it expires on the 31st of January. We would like the Russian Government to review the report expeditiously, as we are doing, and to work constructively in the Council toward a vote on this issue. That's what I understand the case is, and if there is any other motive involved or linkage that the Russians might be making, you would have to direct that question to them for an answer.
Q What is the state of play in terms of the U.S. submitting a resolution to the Security Council to make the turnover from the MNF to UNMIH?
MS. SHELLY: I mentioned yesterday that there would have to be a resolution that would have to extend, of course the mandate. That's something that we expect to happen. Because the current mandate expires on January 31, there needs to be some kind of action on this anyway.
You're staring at me in confusion?
Q I'm sorry. There have been reports that yesterday the U.S. began circulating a draft resolution on the turnover to UNMIH. I would think there's two different things: One, you've got to renew UNMIH, and (2) you've got to make the turnover; right?
MS. SHELLY: Right. They're the two issues. They're not delinked from each other. They're obviously both related to the same subject.
Q What's the state of these resolutions? Can you confirm that, in fact, the U.S. is circulating a turnover resolution at the moment?
MS. SHELLY: I'll check. I don't have information on drafts at this point, but I'll check and see.
One more question. Chris.
Q Back to North Korea for a second. Anything more on any U.S. moves to relax the Trading-with-the-Enemy Act, or something like that?
MS. SHELLY: I've been checking everyday. I'm told that there will be an announcement on this but it's not ready yet. I know we're getting close. Anything else?
(Press briefing concluded at 1:30 p.m.
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