Return to: Index of 1994 Daily Briefings || Electronic Research Collections Index || ERC Homepage


FEBRUARY 21, 1995

                  U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
                    DAILY PRESS BRIEFING
                          I N D E X
                 Tuesday, February 21, 1995

                                       Briefer:  Christine Shelly

   Report of German Mediators Working to Release
     Detained Americans .............................1
   Report of U.S. Policy Review on Purchase of
     Iranian Oil ....................................10

   Contract Group Proposal re Temporary Lifting of
    -- Milosevic's Reported Rejection ...............2-7
    -- Kozyrev Remarks/Role
    -- Contact Group Meeting with Milosevic .........2,4-5)
    -- Issue of FRY Recognition of other Republics ..2-5,6-7
    -- Holbrooke Contact with Milosevic .............5,7

   Holbrooke's Discussions/Travel in Region .........5,7

   Report Alleging 24,000 Civilians Killed in
     Grozny .........................................7
   Consultations on Russia/NATO Relationship ........8-9
   Deputy Secretary Talbott Discussions w/Deputy
     Minister of Defense ............................9
   Cuban Refugees in Guantanamo--Report of
     Possibility of Family Visits ...................7-8

   Border Dispute
     U.S. Participation in Border Monitoring
       Mission ......................................9-10
     Reconnaissance Mission Sent to Region ..........10
     Reports of Violation of Ceasefire ..............10

   Reports of Biological/Chemical Warfare
     Capability .....................................10-11
   Compliance with UN Security Council Resolutions ..10-11

   Request for Activation of Arab League Defense
     Pact against Israel ............................11

   State of US Relations with Arab League on Peace
     Process, NPT, Etc. .............................11-12

   Report of Cyprus Coordinator Williams'
     Trip to Moscow/Russian Role in Peace Effort ....12

   Death Sentences to Christians Charged w/
     Blasphemy ......................................12

   Ambassador Gallucci's Travel/Discussions .........12
   Date of Next Round of KEDO Talks .................12
   Reports of Diversion of US Heavy Oil for
     Military Purposes ..............................13-14


DPC #25


MS. SHELLY: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. Welcome to the State Department briefing. I don't have any announcements to lead with, so I'll be happy to go directly to your questions.

Q Do you have anything in German mediators trying to win the release of Americans detained in Iran?

MS. SHELLY: No. I missed that one.

Q How about Israelis?

Q How about Arad?

MS. SHELLY: No, I don't have anything in my book on that one either. It sounds to me like we're heavily into taken questions in the first second of the briefing.

Q You really have nothing at all on this story in the Frankfurt newspaper about Israel?

MS. SHELLY: That is absolutely correct. I have absolutely nothing in my book. I'm caught.

Q Wing it.

MS. SHELLY: Wing it? I think I'm going to duck. (Laughter)

Q Is that because you don't have anything or because you hadn't heard of the story?

MS. SHELLY: I confess that on that particular one I'm not familiar with the story nor did anyone in this building draw this one to my attention. So I'm caught.

Q On another subject.

MS. SHELLY: Yes, let's try something else and see if I can have a better hit record.

Q Have you seen, and do you accept, the interpretation that Milosevic has turned down the new offer to lift the sanctions in return for recognition of borders?

MS. SHELLY: We've certainly seen the remarks attributed to him. I have also seen the remarks attributed to the Russian Foreign Minister along a similar vein.

We continue to believe that the Contact Group approach, which we described in perhaps painful detail last week, has merit and that it could be further explored. However, at this point, I don't much further to say on that, except to say that the Contact Group partners are still out there in the region. I understand they will be visiting Milosevic later this week and I believe will be continuing their discussions of the issue.

Q Without Milosevic the plan and their new variation goes nowhere; right?

MS. SHELLY: The issue of recognition, of course, is very key. It's obviously very key in terms of being able to bring the crisis in Bosnia to an end. This also goes back to the French proposal, as you know, to host an international conference.

One of the major ideas that was being bandied about in connection with that conference, which, as you know, we said needed to be extremely well prepared so that there could be a concrete result to point to -- this is something that is still out there.

I think it still is a way in which the process toward political reconciliation could be given a surge forward if recognition by all of the parties could be obtained. So that still is certainly very much a goal of ours and something which we believe will be an essential part of the process.

Certainly today, I don't have good news to report on that score. But it is going to be an important element in bringing peace to the region, and we certainly are not going to desist in our efforts to try to get the parties to cross- recognize.

Q But, Christine, is it the Administration's understanding that Milosevic has rejected this offer? You're talking as if he has, but at the beginning you said you've seen reports. Have we talked to Milosevic? Has Kozyrev reported to the Secretary? What do we conclude is Milosevic's reaction to the offer?

MS. SHELLY: We have been in touch with him. I'm not going to put out a lot of detail about the ways in which we have communicated with him.

There often at times is perhaps a somewhat different position which is conveyed privately than that which is conveyed publicly. I think it's an issue which is on his mind. He has also given some indication about the sequencing of events that he might like to see happen. He obviously would like sanctions relief. He obviously would like that sooner rather than later.

Nonetheless, we believe that that is something that would need to be linked very specifically to recognition in the way which we described last week.

Is the issue completely closed? No, I don't think that in our view it is completely closed. We still would very much like to find a way that would be certainly acceptable to Bosnia -- also acceptable to Croatia -- and certainly to those who have put a lot of effort into trying to bring this process farther along on the negotiating track so that Milosevic could recognize both Croatia and Bosnia.

Q Just to follow up. Then it's correct to say that we are looking for ways to make the deal agreeable to him, and one of the things under consideration is simultaneous recognition in lifting of the sanctions?

MS. SHELLY: I didn't say that.

Q I'm asking you.

MS. SHELLY: I know. But we laid out what the elements of a proposal were on this last week. That's what the proposal is. There had been some public comments by Milosevic on this; but, as I mentioned, there still are Contact Group partners that are out in the region that we expect will be continuing these discussions with Milosevic later in the week.

I realize that doesn't satisfy you in terms of how concrete we can be, but it does, I think, accurately --

Q It doesn't have to do with me personally.

MS. SHELLY: I know that.

Q We're talking about the world that is hanging on your every word.

Is there flexibility in the offer?

MS. SHELLY: There's not flexibility that I'm in a position to provide details on.

Q Who are the Contact Group members who are out there?

Q (Inaudible)

MS. SHELLY: I'm not trying to be eliptical on this.

Q But what do you mean that there's not flexibility that you're unable to provide details on? Is there flexibility or isn't there flexibility?

MS. SHELLY: We laid out last week what our proposal was in this score. Okay? There have been some expressions from Milosevic on this idea. As I said, I don't think we consider for our side the issue to be closed.

I cannot predict at this point the way that every issue will be treated and discussed in subsequent conversations. I'm not trying to signal anything in particular, other than simply acknowledging what the current state of play is, which is that that proposal has not yet been embraced by Milosevic. I don't think I can go beyond at this point what the description is of where we stand.

Q Are you not ruling out flexibility?

MS. SHELLY: I'm not either ruling it in or ruling it out.

Q Are you suggesting that privately Milosevic has made a counter-offer or told Kozyrev something?

MS. SHELLY: No. I'm not suggesting that.

Q But you said Christine, sometimes what people say in private is different from what they say in public.

MS. SHELLY: That's certainly been --

Q What does that statement mean? Why do you chose to use it in this context?

MS. SHELLY: I'm using it in this context only illustratively. As I mentioned, there are still Contact Group partners out there in the region, expected to have meetings later. I can't predict at this point how those meetings might come out. It is an issue in which we, as a member of the Contact Group, and others are actively engaged. As soon as we can give you some additional detail on that, we certainly will.


Q Why did Kozyrev carry this message rather than the Contact Group more largely, the representatives from the five countries? Do you know?

MS. SHELLY: Kozyrev was going -- my understanding -- in his national context, not as a specific message-carrier for the Contact Group. We certainly hoped the way that his discussions went would certainly be in a way which would be re-enforcing of that. Russia, of course, is represented with its own member in the Contact Group.

But he was there, obviously, in the effort to see what kind of a position and responsiveness there would be on Milosevic's part. Other than noting the statements that he has made publicly, I think the overall issue of his objectives for and how he would characterize his exchanges on that are questions you would need to put to him.

Q Can you bring us up to date on Assistant Secretary Holbrooke's whereabouts; and also, specifically, can you tell us if he's had any contact with Milosevic?

MS. SHELLY: I don't have an update on that. I gave out where he was going to be going last week, and I don't have a sort of day-by-day on it, but let me check and see what details I can get.

Q The specific question as to whether or not he's had any contact with Milosevic?

MS. SHELLY: I don't have any information on that, but I'll check.

Q Do you who will be going -- what members of the Contact Group will be going to visit with Milosevic and when?

MS. SHELLY: No, but I'll check on that also. I just know later in the week.

Q I'm puzzled why you or any member of the Contact Group should think that the man who invented ethnic cleansing, who probably incited this whole thing, should settle for half a loaf now. What is it in the current situation that gives you any hope at all?

MS. SHELLY: One factor which has given us some hope is the fact that by and large there has been a fairly effective implementation of commitments to keep the border which had been a resupply route for the Bosnian Serbs, to keep that closed.

We've acknowledged that there has been some leakage in that, and we are certainly still continuing our efforts to step up compliance with that; and also certainly various conversations, statements in public; and also conversations in private that have suggested that he is certainly looking at formulas whereby he might be able to get some relief from the economic sanctions which are in place and that there may be a greater willingness now than there was sometime in the past to try to find a peaceful solution to the crisis.

I can't get in his head at this point. I cannot tell you what it is that motivates him. But the fighting picture overall and the measure of compliance that we've been able to monitor of the border closure are probably the best examples of those kinds of indications.


Q Until this latest proposal was put, did lifting of the sanctions, as they were imposed, depend upon Milosevic recognizing the four former republics; do you know?

MS. SHELLY: My understanding is that in exchange for recognition of those four and other measures that we had articulated last week, then there could be the two-month temporary --

Q I'm talking about the sanctions as imposed -- when they were originally imposed -- were they imposed because he did not recognize those four republics, or is this a new wrinkle that he has to contend with in order to get sanctions lifted?

MS. SHELLY: No, I don't think that they were put in place specifically because of that. But in terms of getting relief from those sanctions, that is an approach that the Contact Group had embraced.

Q So it could be seen as a new hurdle he has to leap in order to get sanctions relief -- I mean, if you were looking at it from his point of view, perhaps.

MS. SHELLY: I don't think that it's my role to look at it from his point of view. He has indicated that he would like to find a way to get out from underneath the burdens that the economic sanctions have imposed, and those involved in the international efforts to try to bring this crisis to an end looked at the possibility and also in connection with the French proposal for the conference to see whether the recognition factor could be -- that this obstacle could be overcome in that context.

Q Christine, just to clarify one thing, back to the Kozyrev issue. So Kozyrev was not traveling there as the representative of the Contact Group?

MS. SHELLY: Correct.

Q Has this plan been formally presented, in whatever form, whatever sort of conversations, by the Contact Group to Milosevic?

MS. SHELLY: My understanding -- and I will check on that to make sure that this is correct -- but I believe that there had been Contact Group exchanges with Milosevic on the proposal.

Q Different subject?


Q Do you have any reaction to the report out of Moscow today about a document alleging over 24,000 civilians killed in Grozny by the Russian human rights activist, Mr. Kovalev?

MS. SHELLY: No, I haven't seen that report, but I'll check.

Q There were reports in Turkey that the Ambassador would be making a stopover in Belgrade after he leaves Istanbul tomorrow. Could you check on that, please?

MS. SHELLY: I'll check on that in connection with the general subject of his travel.


Q There were reports over the weekend that there might be plans for Cuban-Americans in this country to visit relatives who are currently in GTMO (Guantanamo). Do you know if there are any plans to do this?

MS. SHELLY: I saw the report, and I checked on that this morning. What I am told is that because of the jurisdictional question emanating from Guantanamo being a military base and access to its facilities being controlled by the Department of Defense, I have to refer that question over to the Pentagon for a reply.

Q Do you know if it's on a list of options being considered?

MS. SHELLY: I honestly don't know.

Q (Inaudible) Russia and NATO. Are we making any headway on this sort of side agreement that President Clinton was going to provide to President Yeltsin that would have allowed him to go forward and sign the documents, and so forth, for the Partnership for Peace?

MS. SHELLY: I think you're talking about a letter that was alleged to have been written by the President to President Yeltsin. First of all, let me just say that a letter has not been sent. What we have been talking about with our NATO allies is about the elements of a U.S. position in bilateral communications with the Russians.

As you're certainly aware, and you referenced, the North Atlantic Council called for an enhanced NATO-Russia dialogue -- it did that in its December 1994 communique -- but the nature of that relationship, the NATO-Russia relationship, that's for all 16 NATO members to decide. It's not a question of the U.S. making a unilateral offer on behalf of the Alliance.

The issue of Russia's relationship with NATO, of course, was something that did come up in the last bilateral meeting that the Secretary had with Foreign Minister Kozyrev. They talked about it at that time, and at that time also the Secretary signaled that this is an issue on which we would be consulting with our NATO allies.

The consultations continue within NATO on that and also within the U.S. Government regarding the overall issue of the Alliance's relationship and the evolution of it with Russia, and discussions, of course, also continue between Russia and other NATO allies.

So that's the state of play on the issue, and I think that's about as much as I can say on it at this point.

Q What reassurances is the United States going to supply about Russia's special role in NATO?

MS. SHELLY: I don't think that that's the specific issue at this point. I mean, we've got consultations, as I'd mentioned, that are underway, and how that relationship will evolve and how we will develop our own inputs to it, that's the process that we're in now. But since we have not reached closure on that, I think I'm really not in a position to get more specific on that point.

Q Can you give us any details? They seem to be leaking stuff on background out of Brussels -- the U.S. -- United States' diplomats.

MS. SHELLY: I'm on record, and I don't think that it's a very productive exercise for me to get into this speculative domain.

Q Did this come up with Strobe Talbott's meeting with Mr. Kokoshin, the Deputy Russian Defense Minister today. I mean, in general do you have anything on that meeting?

MS. SHELLY: I don't have anything on that meeting, but I will check and see if there's anything we might want to say on that one.

Q Are they close to closure?

MS. SHELLY: It's been under discussion. It's hard for me to tell at this point how close they may be.

Q According to reports, Clinton is writing a letter as we speak. Are you denying that Clinton's preparing a letter for President Yeltsin? Would you prefer I ask the White House?

MS. SHELLY: Do you expect me to answer that question?

Q You have plenty of other stuff there.

MS. SHELLY: I know, but you also have a correspondent over at the White House to ask that question. That's absolutely White House jurisdiction and not my own, so ask my former eminent colleague, Mike McCurry, at the White House briefing.


Q Do you have anything about U.S. participants in the Ecuador-Peru border commission, or whatever it's being called?

MS. SHELLY: I have a little bit of an update on that for you. As you know, the peace declaration signed last week calls on the four guarantor countries to provide an observer mission to verify the cease-fire, separation of forces and demilitarization of the conflict zone.

The observer mission provides confidence to the two parties that both sides are honoring the agreement. As one of the guarantors, the U.S. has agreed in principle to participate in this observer mission.

Today, the guarantors actually sent the reconnaissance mission to Ecuador and Peru to begin on-site preparations regarding the deployment of the observer mission.

There have been a couple of press reports, I know, of violations of the cease-fire. I don't have information that confirms those, but I certainly will be checking. The guarantors are firmly agreed and the reconnaissance team now visiting Ecuador and Peru will emphasize, of course, to both of the parties that scrupulous observance of the cease-fire and immediate steps toward the separation of the forces are important prerequisites for deployment.

Q How long do you expect this phase to last?

MS. SHELLY: I'm not sure that a time frame specifically has been put on it. I think they will be there as long as it takes to get the information that they need, so that then they can organize and deploy the observer mission; and obviously, also in the context of the work of the mission and our discussions, we'll have to determine what we believe is appropriate burden-sharing.

Q Can I go back to Iran?

MS. SHELLY: George. Iran? Back to Iran? Did we do Iran already?

Q Yes. The first question -- the first two questions.

MS. SHELLY: Okay, that's right.

Q And we'll try a third. There was a report in the Post over the weekend suggesting that the United States is reassessing its policy of allowing oil companies to purchase Iranian oil. Do you have anything on that?

MS. SHELLY: I do not. I've also seen the same report that you have, and I have not been able to ascertain that we have a review underway on that score. But let me check again and see if I can produce anything more concrete.

Q One of Iran's former next-door neighbors, this Iraqi defector, apparently a top former general, has made statements to the effect that Saddam still has missiles, biological and chemical warfare capability. I'm wondering whether you have any reaction.

MS. SHELLY: I haven't seen the report, but the general subject matter is one which continues to give us concern. The Security Council, as you know, at its last review of Iraq voted to maintain the sanctions regime without change. The types of issues that you've touched upon are ones which we continue to monitor very closely, and we still do not see the evidence of full compliance with the Security Council resolutions.

So we get reports from time to time of this type, and we certainly study them very carefully, but it also tracks with our own assessments that full compliance still has not been achieved.

Q The Libyans have apparently -- want to activate an Arab League defense agreement to combat Israel. I think there may have been a Libyan in Lebanon today, saying he would help fight them in the south. Do you have anything to say about Libya's call to activate this joint Arab League defense pact?

MS. SHELLY: I don't have anything specific to say on it. It certainly is not inconsistent with types of positions which Libya has taken in the past, and that's one of the reasons that they remain ostracized within the international community.

Q But that on top of -- I mean, the whole -- everything the Arab League has been doing for the last month or so relating to the NPT and so forth and the peace talks seemed to indicate a strengthening of that body, you know, against the West, perhaps against Israel. Do you have anything to say as far as relations between the West and the Arab League and the impact on the peace process and arms control?

MS. SHELLY: It's kind of a broad-brush question. Certainly, the Arab League mechanisms have been certainly reasonably active in the recent time frame, and they've looked at issues related to the NPT and other non- proliferation concerns that certain of its members have.

I certainly would not want to put on a par much of what the Arab League has done with the type of report that might come out of Libya and their efforts to get the Arab League to embrace a particular policy of one type or another.

There are lots of meetings which occur in the Middle East in the context of efforts to get increased stability and peace to the region. I think the NPT issue is one which is well known, and we talked about that a few days ago.

Certainly, I think we all hope that a day will come when all of the countries in the region will be free from threats from weapons of mass destruction, so I think their efforts to come to grips with that problem certainly are not unwelcome in the global context.

But I think it's very difficult, without getting heavily into the analytical side, to try to draw a kind of bottom-line conclusion, except to note that there have been meetings and the meetings represent various initiatives by various countries trying to grapple with some of the problems in the region.

Q According to wire reports, Cyprus coordinator, Mr. Williams, this weekend he is going to go to Moscow to meet or brief his Russian counterpart about the Cyprus issue. What is the Russian role in this crisis? Are they the active part of the solution or are you just sharing the mediation role?

MS. SHELLY: We have consultations with Russia on a very wide range of issues. I don't have any specific details related to that trip, and I'll be happy to check and see if there's anything further we want to say. But I assume that it's one of a number of issues of concern to us and of concern very possibly to the Russians as well. But I'm not in a position to characterize this as giving the Russians any particular role except, I think, in the context of their interest as a Security Council member.

Q Pakistan. Any reaction to the death sentences of these Christians for alleged blasphemy?

MS. SHELLY: I haven't seen that one. I'll check.

Q On the North Korean Framework Accord, have you got a readout on Ambassador Gallucci's trip to Europe last week? And also can you confirm Japanese press reports that the first KEDO conference is set now for March 7 in New York?

MS. SHELLY: I don't have any announcement on the KEDO meeting. That could be the case. Let me check and see on that one.

I don't have a formal readout on Ambassador Gallucci's travels. As you know, he was travelling to several different areas of the world in an effort to enlist the support of other countries to participate in KEDO.

As far as I know, his talks went well. We will, as we get closer to the time of the meeting, have more to say about the commitments of other countries; but I don't have really much more to share with you on that one today.

Q On this subject, do you give credence to the report that the North Koreans are siphoning off some of this heavy oil for military purposes?

MS. SHELLY: I think that you had comments by Administration officials on this the end of last week which said, specifically, that we did not believe that they were siphoning off any oil toward military purposes.

There was Congressional testimony, as you know, also last week. The issue of a possible diversion came up. In the context of that exchange, we expressed some concern about the possibility of a very small portion of the heavy fuel oil that we had shipped for heating and power- generating purposes, about what might have happened to that. But we did not have any concern that the oil had been -- the general issue of whether or not we would have concern, of course, is there. But we have no concern that this particular oil in question had been used to power the North Korean military machinery in any way.

One of the reasons the type of oil had been chosen, in fact, was that it was the type of oil that couldn't be used in military planes and vehicles.

We have raised this issue with North Korea. We have told them that we expect them to comply fully with the terms of the Framework Agreement. I think that's about what we can say at this score.

Q I didn't read the full testimony, but I read the news reports about General Luck's testimony. He seemed to think it was more than a potential error, or a possible diversion. He thought there was evidence that it had taken place. You don't believe that?

MS. SHELLY: No. I think he said that there was a concern. I don't think he said anything suggesting that there was evidence that such a thing had actually taken place.

Q He said that oil an be used for diesel generators; right? That's what its intended use is?

MS. SHELLY: I'm not an expert on grades of fuel oil. I'm simply told that the heavy fuel oil was selected precisely because it could not be used to power their military machinery.

Q But it can be used to power diesel generators which can then in turn power military installations, for example.

MS. SHELLY: The oil equivalent of the money is a fungible argument.


(Press briefing concluded at 1:34 p.m.)


To the top of this page