U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE OFFICE OF THE SPOKESMAN DAILY PRESS BRIEFING JANUARY 27, 1995 U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE DAILY PRESS BRIEFING I N D E X Friday, January 27, 1995 Briefers: Thomas McNamara Christine Shelly POLITICO-MILITARY AFFAIRS Release of Second Report to Congress on Landmines ..1 A/S Politico-Military Affairs McNamara Remarks ...1-7 U.S. Export of Landmines .........................4 Casualties from Landmines ........................5 Status of Demining of Malvinas/Falkland Islands ..6-7 Guantanamo 'Barrier Minefield' ...................7 Convention on Conventional Weapons Status of Protocol on Blinding Lasers ............5-6 VIETNAM Announcement on Opening of Liaison Offices in Washington and Hanoi/Signing of Agreement Resolving Diplomatic Property Issue ..............7-8 POWs/MIAs--Congressional Consultation ............8-9 TERRORISM Executive Order Blocking Assets ....................10-12 Messages to U.S. Embassies .........................10-11 Possibility of Expanding List of Terrorists ........13 DEPARTMENT U.S./EU Ministerial Consultations ..................10,22- 23 Secretary Christopher/FM Juppe Bilateral ...........10- 11,22-23 BOSNIA/CROATIA Violations of Cessation of Hostilities in Sarajevo .13- 16,19 UNPROFOR Reporting on Fighting .....................14-16 Contact Group Members Leave Sarajevo for Capitals ..14,17- 19 PERU/ECUADOR Incidents along Border .............................19-20 U.S. Contacts with Governments .....................20 GREECE U.S. Reaction to Sentencing of Turkish Religious Leader .................................20 CYPRUS Travel of Presidential Envoy Beattie ...............20 RUSSIA Chechnya--Human Rights State Department Meeting with Mr. Yusuf ..........21-22 U.S. Contacts with Russia on Meeting .............21-22
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE DAILY PRESS BRIEFING
FRIDAY, JANUARY 27, 1995, 12:51 P.M. (ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED)
MS. SHELLY: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. We'll be opening our briefing today with Assistant Secretary for Political-Military Affairs, Thomas McNamara, who will talk to you about our strategies for demining and landmining control, and will answer questions on this topic.
As you are aware, we had an event this morning in the Dean Acheson Auditorium in which the Secretary participated in connection with the release of the State Department's Second Report to Congress on Landmines entitled "Hidden Killers: The Global Landmine Crisis."
Copies of that report are available in the Press Office. Our regular briefing will begin at the conclusion of Mr. McNamara's presentation.
ASSISTANT SECRETARY McNAMARA Thanks, Chris. I thought I would start with a few remarks that will try and summarize, to some extent, what was said in the event this morning in the auditorium and also put a little perspective on the landmine problem.
Earlier this morning, in the auditorium, Secretary of State Christopher joined by Senator Patrick Leahy of Vermont, Representative Lane Evans of Illinois and other U.S. Government officials, presided over the release of our Second Report to the Congress on Landmines, as Christine said: "Hidden Killers: The Global Landmine Crisis."
The report is, by now in its second printing, considered as a basic-reference document on the landmine problem and is used around the world. We find it quoted, and the statistics in it, are those that are most frequently used as we try to encapsulate the degree of this staggering problem of unexploded landmines.
It reports that somewhere between -- our best estimate -- between 80 and 110 million of these mines are scattered in about 64 countries; that they maim or kill about 500 people per week. The vast majority of them are innocent civilians.
Despite efforts by the U.S. and others, the landmine problem is getting worse. We have not yet brought it to either equilibrium or begun to reduce it.
As was mentioned this morning, there were about 80,000 landmines that we have been able to count that were removed from the ground in various countries around the world in the last year. There were approximately two-plus million that were laid. Therefore, there are -- we are confident -- more landmines, at least in order of magnitude, if not more -- at the end of 1994 than there was at the end of 1993.
Let me try to put a little perspective on the landmine problem. It's something that has grown in about the last 15 to 20 years. The two most significant events that appeared to have triggered the crisis is in the late 1970's -- to use that comment from the movie, "The Graduate," plastics.
In the late 1970's, the industry moved towards plastic encasement of mine devices. And that meant no longer would they simply deteriorate, rust, and become inactive and inoperable. Indeed, the plastics will last for generations so that 15 or 20 years from now, a mine that's laid in the ground will be just about as deadly as it was the day it was laid.
The second problem was the outgrowth of civil conflict, particularly 1980s. If there was a first Killing Field for landmines, it was Afghanistan. Afghanistan taught many countries and many guerrilla groups around the world how deadly, devastating, and effective landmines can be when indiscriminately laid in large numbers.
For humanitarian reasons -- economic, political, and social -- the United States has a very strong interest in curbing the worldwide spread of this scourge. The threat to civilians impedes the return of refugees to their homes. It prevents and delays humanitarian assistance in countries where landmines are a major problem. It prevents the reconstruction of national economies throughout the developed world. It contributes to disruption, disorder, and instability.
The demining assistance programs that the United States has tries to provide training, equipment, and funding to support mine-awareness programs, training of mine clearance teams, and actually clearing the mines. We do all three.
I can, if you want, tell you some of the countries -- Afghanistan, Cambodia, Ethiopia, Mozambique, and others. The Department of State and Department of Defense are those taking the lead in this effort.
In the current fiscal year, we have about $25 million devoted to the landmine programs. That specifically includes those landmine programs that are identifiable. I would point out that as a result of this scourge most, I'm told -- I'm not an expert in this area -- but most humanitarian assistance programs in certain countries have, up front, a demining element in them. The United States contributes to refugee relief, returning refugees back to their home countries, emergency food assistance -- for example, in Rwanda or Mozambique.
All of these programs, in order to get underway, have to do some demining. Where that's the case, we've been unable to break it out. It's simply part of the humanitarian assistance programs. It is becoming increasingly a kind of standard, or a very likely element, to be found in humanitarian assistance programs. Twenty- five million does not include those.
We're also leading the effort to have moratoria declared by mine-producing and mine-exporting countries. Thus far, there are 18 countries that have proclaimed a moratorium. There are three or four others who have asserted that they have, in place, export controls that are tantamount to a moratorium.
The last two areas in which we have been making a major effort: One is to strengthen the Convention on conventional weapons -- the CCW -- which is a law of war or rules of war, or a type of convention. There are several of them. One of them is a protocol which specifically limits the use of landmines and certain parameters for how landmines, if they are to be used, should and ought to be used.
There are about 40 to 50 members now signed up to that. We have signed it, and we are awaiting Senate ratification.
The final step -- the final element in the overall strategy is to adopt a landmine control regime which would be internationally adhered to by as many states as we can get to do that -- primarily producer and exporter states -- in which they would agree over a long term -- not just for a short period of a moratorium but indefinitely into the future -- to control and to restrict their production and their stockpiling in their export of landmines; anti- personnel landmines, primarily.
We're consulting bilaterally and multilaterally on this. We thus far have been receiving a generally favorable response.
We will continue along this line. We're looking for some successful advance in 1995, particularly with respect to strengthening the CCW. Because in September of this year, the review conference for the CCW, 15 years after it's coming into force, is going to be conducted in Geneva. We hope during the course of this year to make substantial advances towards the landmine control regime.
With that, I'm open to questions.
Q Do you have an idea how many of these 80 to 110 million landmines were manufactured in the USA?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY McNAMARA Relatively few. The United States -- first of all, for the last several years, we've exported none of them. We have exported relatively few to those countries that are now plagued by the landmine problem.
At no time did the United States produce and export more than about eight to ten -- maybe 11 to 12 percent -- of the worldwide estimated production of landmines.
The vast majority of our exports went to countries such as NATO countries and those in an alliance relationship with the United States. Finally, the United States landmines are expensive. We don't produce the "Saturday-night Specials" which run for three to five dollars per landmine. We do not produce landmines now, for example, that are not self- deactivating and self-neutralizing.
The anti-personnel landmines that are the problem are these very, very cheap, very inexpensive ones that can be made by the millions and sold for a very, very small cost and in-placed very, very easily by guerrilla and other irregular forces as well as by relatively ill-equipped armed forces.
Q For example, in Afghanistan, do you think a substantial proportion of the mines there came from the United States?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY McNAMARA The vast majority of the mines in Afghanistan are of Soviet manufacture; Czechoslovakia and Chinese.
Q Do you have any breakdown, by region, of casualties over, say, the last few decades of -- I'm particularly in Central America?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY McNAMARA I'd have to refer to the "Hidden Killers." I think the casualties -- it's not broken down by region. I can try and find that.
I don't know if it's actually available. The casualties are something that people have been counting in recent years. It's not something that we have an historical, documented record on.
Q You mentioned the CCW. Why was it that the U.S. didn't move to ratify that treaty throughout -- after the U.S. signed it in 1981? Throughout the 80s when there was the greatest proliferation and I guess this Administration didn't send it up to the Hill until it was required to by legislation.
ASSISTANT SECRETARY McNAMARA: That's not right.
Q It was not sent to the Hill until a year ago, so it was not ratified during this period of proliferation. Was there a fundamental problem with it at that point? And let me ask a related question to that convention but not dealing with landmines, which is in preparation for this review conference, the Europeans, Russians and others are supporting a new protocol to that convention which would prohibit blinding laser weapons from being developed and being used. And the U.S., I gather, is opposing that initiative. Can you discuss whether that is being reconsidered as you approach this conference?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY McNAMARA: On the CCW, it was not sent up for ratification because of difficulties having to do with a separate protocol that has to do with incendiary devices. The previous Administrations chose not to send -- what you have is a convention and then you have a series of protocols that are added to it.
The Protocol 2 (*), I believe -- if my enumerating is correct -- is the landmine one. Protocol 3(*) has to do with incendiary devices. Previous Administrations chose to hold up the entire package pending a solution to our difficulty with Protocol 3 on incendiary devices.
This Administration reversed that position and decided to send it up, withholding the protocol that we had the difficulty with. That explains why it was in the limbo it was in.
______________ * Reflects appropriate changes made to ratify incorrect statement. ______________
Q But pending ratification without the napalm protocol, is that right?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY McNAMARA: That's the way it is up there now, correct. And it was sent up without any -- there was no compulsion to send it up. The Administration decided to do it, and it did it.
With respect to the suggested protocol on blinding lasers, at the recent preparatory meeting in Geneva, the United States did raise questions about the feasibility and the appropriateness of such a separate protocol. We have not yet adopted a position opposing it.
We do have some problems with it, however. To give you just one example, there are no such devices in existence. There are, however, a number of very important laser devices that are used in command and control and battlefield situations. The possibility of even confusion or deliberately accusing a country of employing any kind of a laser device, in violation of such a protocol, has to be addressed, and we are attempting to address those issues.
Q Given that this is the first time that there is a formal movement by governments, supported by the Europeans and by the Russians, for instance, to effect -- have a protocol to bar these weapons, will the Administration be having a major review of this question in advance of the fall?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY McNAMARA: Certainly, we will. I would question, however -- there was an assumption there that all of Europe is in favor of the protocol. I think it's more accurate to say that none of the European countries spoke out in this preparatory meeting. But where they ultimately come down on this one, it's in effect a new issue -- a little too early to make that kind of judgment.
Q I believe that you (inaudible) supported on block.
ASSISTANT SECRETARY McNAMARA: I did not oppose on block.
Q Are you working in any way to clean mines in the Malvinas-Falkland Islands? And also this question: Is it true that the mines around Guantanamo base is the biggest live minefield of the world?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY McNAMARA: The answer to the first is yes, we are working with the Argentine and the United Kingdom to work out an arrangement where by those two countries will be able to undertake effective demining of the islands. We're involved in that, but we, ourselves, do not propose as a government to undertake that project.
Q Have you choose the company already that will do the preliminary investigation of the mines?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY McNAMARA: No, I don't believe so. I don't believe we've gotten that far yet. And the second question, with respect to Guantanamo, it is not -- indeed, I am not sure I know what the largest so-called barrier minefield is. There are a number of countries around the world that use barrier minefields on their borders, and, if one looks at Russia and China, I'm sure that we can find barrier minefields along those borders that greatly exceed, by probably thousands of kilometers, what is in Guantanamo.
But I don't know where the largest barrier minefield in the world is, but Guantanamo certainly is not it.
MS. SHELLY: Thank you very much.
ASSISTANT SECRETARY McNAMARA: Thank you.
(Assistant Secretary McNamara concluded his briefing at 1:08 p.m., after which Ms. Shelly immediately commenced her briefing.)
MS. SHELLY: I'm going to begin with an announcement on Vietnam. As the President indicated on February 3, 1994, when he announced the lifting of the embargo against Vietnam, achieving the fullest possible accounting for our prisoners of war and missing in action will remain our highest priority in our relations with Vietnam.
At that time he also announced our intention to open a liaison office in Hanoi in order to promote further progress on the POW/MIA issues, to provide services for Americans there, and to help us pursue a human rights dialogue with Vietnam.
Prior to opening a liaison office, we needed to reach an agreement to return each country's diplomatic properties. On December 9, as many of you know, after several months of negotiation, our representatives in Hanoi initialed an agreement on diplomatic properties.
On January 28, 1995, in Hanoi, the Government of the United States and the Government of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam will sign an agreement resolving the diplomatic property issue, thereby clearing the way for opening liaison offices in Washington and Hanoi.
In addition, the two governments will sign an agreement settling outstanding claims between the two countries.
As of January 28, 1995, the United States will therefore open its liaison office in Hanoi. A reciprocal Vietnamese liaison office will open in Washington, D.C. These offices will operate within the framework of the 1963 Vienna Convention on Consular Relations and will not constitute establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries.
Consistent with the President's announcement last Friday, any decision on the establishment of diplomatic relations with Vietnam will depend on further progress on POW/MIA accounting from the Vietnam war.
I know you have a lot of interest in this subject matter, including some of the rather technical areas related to the signing of the claims agreement, so a few minutes immediately following the closing of this briefing, we will go into a BACKGROUND briefing in which you can be permitted to ask the range of questions that you may have.
Q Can we at least attempt to ask a few questions at this time?
MS. SHELLY: Sure.
Q First of all, can you tell us what time this will take place in theory, both Vietnamese time and local Washington time? Will there be a ceremony or a signing here in Washington as well as in Hanoi? And where was the Vietnam Embassy in former days here, and are they reopening their office or another one in another location?
MS. SHELLY: I don't have answers to all of your questions, but let me take a crack at what I have. There will not be any ceremony taking place in Washington. The signing will be taking place out in Hanoi. I believe that it's scheduled to take place at 10 o'clock in the morning, Hanoi time. Does anyone know exactly what -- is it 12 hours difference? We'll have to check. Let me get that to you after the briefing if that's okay.
What were the other questions?
Q The location here. Are they reopening their old embassy, though it wouldn't be an embassy now, or are they opening something new?
MS. SHELLY: We'll have to address that one in the BACKGROUND briefing.
Q Can you address the letter which Congressmen and Senators of all major foreign policy committees signed and sent to the President at the end of January, asking that this not happen until this government had given them a complete list of POWs and MIAs?
MS. SHELLY: The letter to which you refer, I believe, was addressed to the President. The White House might like to respond more specifically to your question.
I have, I think, a general answer, but again you might want to check with the White House. Obtaining the fullest possible accounting for our prisoners of war and missing in action remains our highest priority with respect to Vietnam. The Administration believes that by opening liaison offices, we will enhance our ability to make progress toward that goal.
We also have had intensive congressional consultation on this issue, including over the last couple of days on this. Again, I think as to any further specific questions that you might have on congressional views, I think you would probably want to direct them to the members of Congress in question.
Q How was this announcement received by the people that you talked to?
MS. SHELLY: I think that the Secretary in his testimony had also addressed this and had also indicated that we felt that as a political matter, that the most effective approach in terms of meeting what is certainly very much our mutually shared goal for the maximum accounting on the POW/MIA issue. We felt that by getting the liaison office open and also by directing one official who will be at that liaison office to work on this issue on a full-time basis, that that was also a way that we could even increase our ability to achieve the kind of accounting that we mutually desire.
I think there was certainly an understanding that that was our position and recognition that that could help achieve the greater accounting.
Q This letter also seemed to indicate that help by the Vietnamese seems to have fallen off somewhat; that they have not been very helpful recently in turning over some archival material, and that there seems to be stalling on their --
MS. SHELLY: Betsy, that is not my impression of the issue. I think we have been fully satisfied with the most recent time frame and the cooperation on the part of the Vietnamese Government. So I'm not aware of there being any unhappiness over any possible stalling on their part. I don't think that's the case.
I've just been passed a note that the 10 o'clock a.m. time tomorrow morning in Vietnam is 10 o'clock p.m. this evening, Washington, D.C., time.
Q Could we go to other subjects?
MS. SHELLY: Okay. As I said, immediately after this we'll have a short break, and then we'll go into the backgrounder briefing on this subject.
Q I was told yesterday by the French Foreign Minister and the President of the Council of the European Union that there was no mention at the two-day ministerial meeting of the President's emergency order dealing with the terrorist efforts by 12 organizations which were named.
I'm wondering why the United States didn't take the opportunity in line with the President's own statement in his State of the Union address that he would call upon our allies to assist in this effort? Here was the opportunity. Why didn't we do something about it? There wasn't a peep.
MS. SHELLY: First of all, let me go back to the point of the meeting. The Foreign Minister was here in his capacity as French Presidency of the European Union, and he also had European Union officials with him for what is part of our normal semi-annual ministerial level consultations on a very broad range of issues.
He also then after that had a short bilateral meeting with the Secretary in which they touched on a number of issues that related uniquely to French-U.S. exchanges.
We did say at an earlier briefing in connection with this issue that this was an issue that we were taking up very energetically with fellow governments around the world. We simply didn't use this particular channel to do it due to a time constraint. We sent messages out to the field, instructing our Ambassadors to go in and share the details of the Executive Order with host governments at a high level. That certainly would have been done in Paris much earlier in the week.
But as I think you also know, the Secretary also had a very, very full schedule yesterday. He had two major congressional testimonies, and the time for the U.S.-EU ministerial simply got squeezed, and they also had a very broad agenda. So I would certainly not read anything particular into the absence of that in the context of yesterday's meeting.
Q Without casting any aspersions on your statement, on you personally, this reminds me of what was going on 52 years ago. The United States couldn't spare a bomber to bomb the tracks at Auschwitz. Look at the pictures that I've brought with me to show.
Will the State Department now come out with a statement and say, "We're very sorry about the action we took -- didn't take." And here is it again. Time constraints to -- couldn't bring about a statement from the State Department that the European Union or at this meeting yesterday -- ten minutes of talk. This is what they've done officially. It's on the record. We appreciate if you'll do it -- cooperate with us.
Why can't the State Department act promptly and forcefully in actions when it affects Jews in Israel?
MS. SHELLY: The State Department did act promptly with respect to the issuance of the Executive Order. I've answered that.
Q Now, wait a minute. There's another question. We're pouring out money to the Palestine Liberation Organization and three factions of the PLO which were named in the Executive Order apparently are getting assistance from the PLO. They're part of the PLO organization. Aren't we in effect giving money to the terrorists when we're saying we're going to freeze your assets in the United States?
MS. SHELLY: I just have to disagree completely with that linkage that you're drawing.
Q (Inaudible) How can you disagree with it? I mean, the three organizations are here. I'll name them to you. The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, the Popular Front for --
MS. SHELLY: I know what the names of the organizations are which are on that list. We're providing assistance to the Palestinian authority for very specific undertakings. We have tried to help equip them, get their police function up and running so that they, themselves, could exercise the security functions within their own territory. We have also been involved in trying to promote economic development within the area so that it would be a very tangible way in which the residents in the area can see benefits of peace.
Those are the contexts in which we are providing that kind of assistance. The reasons for our Executive Order were made very, very clear by the President's statement on this and by the Executive Order itself, and that is an issue that has been under discussion for quite some time. It's been worked very carefully through the interagency process. We knew that the issue of getting at financial flows to potential terrorist organizations -- we knew that was a problem, and that's exactly why we put out the Executive Order when we did.
Q Christine, could I --
Q What I'm asking is whether or not the State Department will ask the PLO or indeed demand on the PLO that before you get any more money, you expel these organizations from the PLO. Isn't that a fair statement, fair question?
MS. SHELLY: I think what's a fair statement is also that the United States has made its views known regarding the activities of these organizations very clearly with the PLO.
Q You say they've made their views known. I'm asking you to do something tangible so that the world will know that the United States has called on the PLO about these three specific organizations -- issue a demand on the PLO, "throw them out."
MS. SHELLY: We put out an Executive Order that I think makes the United States' position on those groups very, very clear.
Q Christine, could I ask a question about Bosnia. Where do we stand now with the Contact Group?
Q On the same subject of terrorism, can I ask?
MS. SHELLY: Not unless it's directly -- or else I can come back to it.
Q The terrorism list for the --
MS. SHELLY: We normally try to --- Jim, if you don't mind, let me try to get like-category questions. I don't mind returning to it later in the briefing.
Q On the 12 Middle East terrorist groups and 18 individuals that you freezed the assets in the United States, I have a question. That is the most violent terrorist organization in the Middle East, the PKK, isn't inside of this list. What was the reason? Do you see any - - are you planning to issue any new list about this terrorist organization?
MS. SHELLY: The Executive Order was specifically addressing the issue of those who presented a direct threat to the success of the peace process in the Middle East. We've identified the PKK as a terrorist organization before, but it was simply in this context, which is why it focused on the particular groups and individuals identified.
Q Do you have any plan to extend this list?
MS. SHELLY: I'm sorry.
Q Do you have any plan to extend those lists?
MS. SHELLY: To extend the list.
MS. SHELLY: I'm certainly not going to rule that out. I don't have any announcements on that at this point; but certainly the issue of identifying groups or individuals is one which will remain under constant review, and the possibility of extending that certainly is a very real one.
Q Christine, I wonder if the Secretary yesterday found time with the two European delegates to talk about European contributions -- assistance to the Korean Energy Development Organization?
MS. SHELLY: I have a readout on the meeting that I can share with you, but let me do Jim's question first, because that's really shifting subjects.
Jim. You wanted to talk about Bosnia.
Q Yes. Where do we stand now with the Contact Group? Are they finished, suspended, or what?
MS. SHELLY: Let me just give you my update on that.
First of all, as you know, there have been several incidents of fighting in the last 24 hours around Sarajevo. Our Embassy has reported on three separate episodes yesterday. They all began with firing of RPGs from Bosnian Serb territory. Bosnian Government forces returned fire with the third episode.
We don't have an accurate count of the number of detonations, but we believe it was substantially more than the 12 reported by UNPROFOR. We're trying to get some additional information on this in order to be able to correlate the UNPROFOR reports.
We don't know what the Serb motivation was for initiating what is a very serious violation of the cessation of hostilities, and we deplore those violations.
The Contact Group members who had remained in the area -- they had continued to be engaged up until that point regarding Pale's acceptance of the Contact Group Plan. As you know, that still remains the key sticking point in renewing the peace negotiations.
Ambassador Thomas and his French and British colleagues will be departing Sarajevo for consultations in their respective capitals.
The three Contact Group representatives had continued to act on behalf of the entire Contact Group. They spoke by phone yesterday from UNPROFOR headquarters, and this morning with Karadzic. When it became clear that the Bosnian Serbs were not prepared to make progress on the talks, the group decided to return to their capitals.
We deeply regret that Karadzic was not prepared to move forward to negotiations by accepting the plan. And, as I've mentioned, we also deplore the violations of the cease-fire in Sarajevo which were initiated by the Serb side.
Q If Karadzic and his people are not prepared to accept the plan, is there any point in continuing these negotiations after the various representatives come back from their capitals?
MS. SHELLY: I think that's obviously an issue that they will want to be consulting on, both in their capitals and obviously resumed in the context of the Contact Group. This last effort was certainly a very intensive one on their part, trying to find the right formulation to get the Contact Group Plan accepted by the Bosnian Serbs who, as you know, continue to refuse to accept it.
This didn't happen. We are, of course, very disappointed that that didn't happen. That's particularly the reason why I think all of those involved in the Contact Group effort feel the need to have a pause and to have some consultations before determining what it is that is best to try to do next.
Q Do you have any suspicion that their former evident interest was a ruse just to keep fighting down while they resupplied their forces?
MS. SHELLY: I don't think it's our feeling that there was any direct evidence to that effect. I think they felt at some point throughout the last week that they were making some progress; but obviously the developments of the last 24 hours -- which were both the lack of any progress and lack of any willingness on the part of Pale to engage in this or take this next step forward, but also obviously the cease- fire violations -- certainly very much spoiled the atmosphere for progress on the political side.
Q Ms. Shelly, will the record show, please, that the Senate by a vote of 96 to zero called on President Assad and Yasser Arafat to speak out publicly and forcefully about the terrorism issue? And may I ask also, do you have a statement on the division between the Government of Poland and the head of the United States delegation and others regarding a program at Auschwitz?
MS. SHELLY: No, on your latter point, I don't have any statement on that. As to what the Senate does, I assume that their decisions are reflected in the record of the Senate. And things that are said at the State Department press briefing are also included in the verbatim transcript.
Q I just want to go back to Bosnia for a second. There seems to be a sense -- you point to UNPROFOR's under- reporting of the Serb firings yesterday. Can you flesh that out a little bit?
MS. SHELLY: I can't, Sid, except to tell you that I've talked with people in the building who had some direct telephone conversations with our officials out there, including Charley Thomas, and certainly it was there aural, as relates to hearing, impression that the number of detonations was simply a lot higher than the 12 which UNPROFOR reported.
Q How can you resolve that dispute? I mean --
MS. SHELLY: It's not up to us nationally to resolve that. We try to maintain as accurate a picture as we can, based on both UNPROFOR reports and also obviously our own sources of information on that, about what the fighting picture looks like, because it's important for us to know that and to know whether or not commitments to maintain the cessation of hostilities are being met.
But we do not try to keep an absolute current running log of exactly the number of either violations or of detonations. It simply, I think, was the impression of those who are out there that the number was higher.
MS. SHELLY: Why are you making that point?
Q I'm making that point because of our concern about all of the episodes that took place and the fact that there were very serious violations of the cease-fire.
Q Are violations of the -- of Sarajevo, military violations still open to NATO air strikes.
MS. SHELLY: That is a decision which has not been rescinded.
Q Is there something there -- is it the old dispute between NATO and UNPROFOR about when to employ air strikes? Would we have wanted to call in air strikes yesterday?
MS. SHELLY: Sid, again, we got out of the business of trying to second guess UNPROFOR a long time ago. The decision still stands, that's still a possibility; but as to questions on UNPROFOR's response, I think that as to specific responses you've really got to put those to UNPROFOR.
Q Christine, you said that you're not sure what the motive for the serious violation of the cease-fire around Sarajevo is. But since it has coincided with the total stonewalling by Karadzic back in Pale, do you not see any connection between those two events?
MS. SHELLY: Certainly the possibility of there being a connection is something which is in people's minds. But I'm not aware that the Bosnian Serbs themselves have made any particular connection. But I think the kind of message that it sends and the resumption of use of military force is not one which is conducive to progress on the political side.
Q Does it follow at this point, given the latest round of lack of success on the part of the Contact Group that the Contact Group is basically a failure in trying to bring peace?
MS. SHELLY: No. I would not jump to that kind of conclusion. Certainly the Contact Group has been the group that has been most meaningfully engaged in the efforts to bring the parties to a solution on the political side through negotiations. I think that their role and certainly the difficulty of that role has been reflected in Security Council resolutions. Whereas there are others who have conversations and have meetings with parties involved, I think there is certainly broad international recognition, given the countries and the groups that the Contact Group represents, that this has been a very powerful influence in terms of trying to bring the process closer to agreement on the negotiation.
But certainly there is disappointment -- we are, I think, not in any way trying to masquerade that -- that when they appeared to have been making progress, as they were last week, they were not able to bring this to closure by getting the Bosnian Serbs to agree to accept the Contact Group Plan and Map.
Q I understand that. I'm not saying anything about the attempts of the Contact Group in their efforts or their lack of effort. I'm saying at this point, is it time for something else?
MS. SHELLY: I don't know how many other viable and potentially effective alternatives there really are. This is a very, very difficult assignment. Certainly the governments which have been represented in the Contact Group have committed an enormous amount of personnel hours and resources to the effort of the group, and I don't see any indication that the international community has concluded that this is now not a way where progress can be made.
Simply, the group wants to break up and go back to their national capitals, so that they can have consultations with their government and then to try to see what it is that they think they most appropriately can do next. But I certainly think it is way too early to conclude that the process of the Contact Group is finished.
Q But isn't that the rub? I mean, are you saying in effect that you won't -- in answer to Charlie's question that the Contact Group isn't a failure because you have no other alternative? There's no place else to go.
MS. SHELLY: We believe it has been a very useful structure and format to try to achieve results. It certainly is disappointing that they have not succeeded in the key result, which is obviously to get the Bosnian Serbs to agree to accept the Contact Group plan. But I don't think it's a process which is finished. I think there's simply going to be a pause now for consultations, for reflection, for discussion with a view to seeing what ought to happen next on the diplomatic front.
Q Is Thomas coming back here?
MS. SHELLY: As far as I know, he's expected to come back over the weekend.
Q Another subject, in Chechnya.
MS. SHELLY: I think there are still questions on Bosnia.
Q Yesterday, Foreign Minister Juppe at a Press Conference was asked about the Contact Group, and he said, "Well, we have to try and try again." He seemed to not want to give up at all or allow that even a pause might be necessary. Is there a difference of opinion between France and the United States or any of its other allies on this issue? Are you now in accord?
MS. SHELLY: No, I don't really think there is a difference. There have been reports of differences. Certainly, the story that the breakup of the Contact Group was imminent. Those stories have circulated a lot, and the news of its demise, I think, has always been premature.
There are certainly some differences of opinion, I think, on tactics. It's only natural. These are very complicated issues, but I think that there's never been any difference of opinion on the overall strategy and what the objectives of the Contact Group were.
At the time when the meetings were actually taking place between the U.S. and the EU yesterday, we obviously did not have the news of the military exchange, the breakdown in the cease-fire. That obviously was a very critical development, and it certainly wasn't going to do anything to improve the atmosphere out in Sarajevo or Pale in terms of the political process.
That certainly was an aggravating factor, but again I think it's simply something that happened. They obviously have to deal with it, and the environment right at this very moment is one in which I think they feel that they each should return for a period of reflection and consultation.
Q When was this decision made? Was it made this morning? Was it made overnight?
MS. SHELLY: That they could come back to their respective capitals?
Q That this pause would occur.
MS. SHELLY: I think that the decision on that was made early this morning their time, immediately in the aftermath of the incidents.
Q Christine, you used the word "pause." Would you take exception to the word "suspended"?
MS. SHELLY: I think that's probably more formal than what's actually transpired. The Contact Group itself decided that it was not going to be productive for them to remain there, and they therefore took the decision to return to their capitals.
Q Did they ask for an explanation of why this had happened, and did they receive any kind of an explanation?
MS. SHELLY: All I know is that there were the telephonic contacts with that. I think the actions of the Bosnian Serbs speak pretty loudly for themselves.
Certainly, no one wanted the breakdown and (wanted) the cease-fire to continue. But as a consequence of the conversations, they felt they should return to their capitals and not stay.
Q Christine, is the Contact Group united in the belief that it is the Bosnian Serbs who are responsible for the failure to restart negotiations?
MS. SHELLY: I don't know if I can be a spokesman for the Contact Group in this. I'm not aware that there is any particular difference of opinion regarding what the sticking point in the negotiation is. I think there is unity within the Contact Group that the obstacle is Pale's lack of acceptance of the Contact Group Plan. That's the issue that they've been working on and that they have been trying to overcome.
Q Another issue. Do you have any comments about the military confrontation between Ecuador and Peru yesterday?
Q Filing break.
MS. SHELLY: Again? OK. In the next ten minutes or so I'll try not to make any news.
Yes, I've got a little bit of information on that. There have been some reports of several recent incidents along the common frontier between Peru and Ecuador. We understand that isolated fighting took place last night and also today.
We don't have a lot of details at this point. We haven't received any casualty reports.
The developments are of deep concern to us, and we believe to others in the hemisphere. Well-established mechanisms do exist for reducing tensions. We call upon both sides to put an immediate end to the localized flare- ups and to initiate a dialogue to resolve their differences.
As I think you're aware, the guarantors of the Rio Protocol, which dates to 1942 -- those are Argentina, Brazil, Chile, and the United States -- met on January 25 in Brasilia and issued a statement calling for dialogue.
In the interest of preserving continental peace and principles of friendly inter-American relations, the guarantors renewed their offer of assistance to try and expedite a solution.
Q Have you called any of the two countries to talk to the leaders to see if they can resolve the issue peacefully?
MS. SHELLY: I'll have to check on that. This is simply the information that I have as of this point. So let me check on that point.
Q Greece sentenced the religious leader of the Turkish minority in Greece to 10 years in jail. I think a second trial is also pending. How does the Administration view this development?
And also Richard Beattie, President Clinton's Special Envoy to Cyprus -- I understand he didn't go to Ankara after his contacts in Cyprus. What happened?
MS. SHELLY: On your first point, I have not seen that report, so I don't have any information on it. Let me check.
We had updates earlier in the week on the Presidential Emissary, Beattie's travel. I was not aware that there was a change in his expected itinerary, so I'm going to also have to check on that.
Q Why didn't he go on to Ankara --
MS. SHELLY: I don't know. I don't know. I simply don't that information with me. I'm going to check.
Q Yesterday, at the Carnegie Endowment, the Chechen Foreign Minister Shamsheddin, he said that he will meet this morning with some low-level State Department officials. Do you have any -- who is there and what is the readout? Do you have any readout about this?
MS. SHELLY: I've got some information on that meeting. Mr. Yusuf, who is a private Russian citizen, is in Washington. Yesterday the State Department received a phone call from his party requesting a meeting. Contrary to other reports, yesterday's phone call was the first request which was made to us.
He met with members of Congress at the Carnegie Endowment. He appeared on CNN. Given our interest in the humanitarian concerns related to Chechnya, we wanted to hear what he had to say directly.
He was received at the State Department this morning in the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, at the office-director level.
I do have a short readout on this that I just got right before coming down here. He was received by the Office Director for this office within the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, Mr. Steven Coffey. He explained to his guest the role of the Human Rights Bureau, in particular, its role in preparing accurate and complete human rights reports.
Mr. Yusuf and his colleagues provided their assessment of the situation in Chechnya and appealed for U.S. support for improved human rights conditions. Mr. Coffey explained that we supported the peaceful resolution of this crisis with full respect for human rights and norms within the territorial integrity of Russia.
He also emphasized our full support for the OSCE mission as the best avenue for the international community to help the parties to find a peaceful resolution to this crisis.
Q The Russians apparently have protested to our Ambassador in Moscow over this meeting that took place. Do you have any response to the Russians about that?
MS. SHELLY: The Russians have initiated contacts with us about the meeting.
Q And your response?
MS. SHELLY: We indicated to them why we were having this meeting, which was our interest in hearing from him as a private Russian citizen and to hear about the situation in Chechnya. That's about all I can say on the details of that exchange.
Q Yesterday he said that he's carrying a Soviet passport, he's not carrying a Russian passport. What kind of visa did he get?
MS. SHELLY: He received a B-1 visa which entitles a visitor to a temporary state to conduct business affairs. It's not a diplomatic or a governmental visa.
His visa was placed in his Soviet passport. That is correct. I'm told by our people involved in visas and passports that many of the citizens of the former Soviet Union do continue to travel on travel documents which were issued when the Soviet Union was still in existence. So they are still Soviet passports. This is not anything unusual. I'm told there are literally thousands of this type of travel documents still in effect. We put visas in them and issue visas to people with those passports all the time. It's nothing unusual.
Q Are they internationally recognized, those passports, still?
MS. SHELLY: I can't speak for other countries, but they still continue to be valid for travel to the United States.
Q Could we have the readout on the Secretary's meetings with Juppe and Brittan yesterday, particularly if the issue of KEDO came up?
MS. SHELLY: Let me see what I've got on that. As to the Secretary's meeting with French Foreign Minister Juppe and European Commissioner Brittan, as I mentioned, the two officials were meeting with Secretary Christopher in their capacity as representatives of the European Union. As you know, France currently holds the six-month rotating Presidency. It was part of our regular periodic exchange meeting between the Secretary and his EU Presidency and Commission counterparts.
Their working lunch covered a variety of issues. These included France's goals for its EU Presidency; ways to enhance the U.S.-EU relationship and prepare for the U.S.-EU summit which will take place in June; the EU's pre-accession strategy for Central Europe; and the development of European security architecture, such as the WEU and NATO, were also discussed.
The Ministers reviewed the situation in Chechnya and its implications for Russian reform, and agreed on the importance of continuing to support the Middle East peace process at this critical time.
Following the EU meeting, the Secretary had a brief separate meeting with French Foreign Minister Juppe to discuss issues of bilateral importance.
We understand Foreign Minister Juppe and Commissioner Brittan also planned to meet with other officials while in Washington. The details of those would be available at the French Embassy and the European Commission Delegation.
I don't have anything specific on the issue (of KEDO). I'll try to check and see whether that came up in any passing kind of way. I'll check and see.
Q Have they talked about the Algerian situation?
MS. SHELLY: It was expected to come up, I think, in the bilateral context; but let me check on that one also.
Q At what level would the summit be? Presidential?
MS. SHELLY: Presidential. But you know announcements on Presidential travel come from the White House. There's no announcement. Please let the record show to Mr. McCurry, my former colleague, that I did not make an announcement.
Q Thank you.
MS. SHELLY: Thanks.
(Press briefing concluded at 1:47 p.m.)
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