U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE OFFICE OF THE SPOKESMAN DAILY PRESS BRIEFING MARCH 10, 1995 U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE DAILY PRESS BRIEFING I N D E X Friday, March 10, 1995 Briefer: Winston Lord Christine Shelly EAST ASIA AND PACIFIC REGION A/S Winston Lord's Remarks on Trip to Region 2/22-3/7 --Countries Visited/Travelling Party .................1-4 --Broad Goals of Trip/Discussions ....................1-2 --Continued Engagement in Region .....................2 --DOD Release of East Asian Security Review ..........1 --APEC, ASIAN, NEA Security Dialogue, NPT Extension ..2 NORTH/SOUTH KOREA --U.S./North Korean Nuclear Accord ...................10 --South Korean LWater Reactor Model Issue ............11,13 --KEDO Contributions .................................11-12 JAPAN --U.S./Japan Relations, Trade ........................3-4 CHINA --China/U.S. Relations ...............................7 --Defense Budget/Possible Submarine Purchases ........4-6 --Leadership/Transition/Stability ....................6,12 --Discussions on Taiwan/Visit of President to U.S. ...6-7,8-9 --EU Resolution on Human Rights ......................7-8 --Tibet ..............................................12 INDONESIA --UN Resolutions re: Iraqi Sanctions/APEC ............4 CAMBODIA --Status of Khmer Rouge ..............................9-10 --Upcoming Paris Meeting on Support for Cambodia .....10 DEPARTMENT ANNOUNCEMENT Return of Victims of Karachi Attack ..................14 EUROPE Assistant Secretary Holbrooke Travel to Region .......15 RUSSIA Secretary Christopher/FM Kozyrev Meeting Planned .....16 IRAN Conoco Agreement: --Meeting with Conoco Officials re: Negotiations w/Iran ...........................................16 --Secretary Christopher's Remarks ....................16-17 --Senator D'Amato's Proposed Legislation .............17,19- 20 GUATEMALA U.S. Attempts to Resolve Harbury Case ................17-18 CANADA Seizure of Spanish Fishing Boat ......................18-19 AFGHANISTAN Civil War --Update on Fighting .................................20-21 --U.S. Support for UN Peace Initiative ...............21 PAKISTAN Violence in Karachi ..................................21-22 --Deaths of Amers./Arrival of FBI Agents/Security ....14-15
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
DAILY PRESS BRIEFING
FRIDAY, MARCH 10, 1995, 12:55 P.M.
(ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED)
MS. SHELLY: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. Welcome to the last briefing of the week at the State Department. Don't worry, we'll have more next week.
As you all know, since we put out an announcement on this, we are beginning today's briefing with a guest, Assistant Secretary of State Winston Lord, who has just returned within the last couple of days from travel out to his region. I think you're all aware of the details of that. We put out a little announcement on that before he left.
He very kindly has agreed to come and tell you a little bit about his trip and give you the opportunity to ask him some questions about issues in his region. So without any further ado, I will pass the microphone to him. After, we'll follow the usual format and I'll do questions on other subjects. Thank you very much.
ASSISTANT SECRETARY LORD: Thank you, Christine, and good afternoon. Let me make some informal opening remarks describing the trip, and then I'll be glad to take your questions either on those issues or related ones.
From February 22 to March 7, I went to South Korea, Mongolia, China, Japan, and Indonesia to cover a full range of bilateral, regional, and global issues.
I had with me in Korea an interagency team from the White House, Mr. Suettinger and from Defense, Mr. Wiedemann and Ms. Scroggs, and Director Brown of the Korea Desk with me from the State Department; and my Special Assistant and the White House/NSC Suettinger were with me for the rest of trip. Mr. Suettinger, dropping off before we got to Indonesia.
The broad goals were to underscore our continued commitment to remain engaged in the region. I might say, as we were travelling, the Defense Department issued its most recent strategy for the region -- the East Asian Security Review -- which reaffirmed our staying on in the region, including the roughly 100,000 military personnel that we have in the region. So that was very concrete evidence of that theme, indeed.
The U.S.-North Korean nuclear accord was a major subject in most of my stops, of course. We were demonstrating our determination to see its implementation, including the need for North-South dialogue.
There was some discussion, particularly in Japan, about commemorating the end of the Pacific War, and World War II in general.
We consulted on almost every stop on issues of regional significance, whether in the economic side like APEC -- and Japan is the Chairman this year -- or whether on the security side like the ASEAN Regional Forum and Northeast Asia Security Dialogue.
Then, there were some specific themes on specific topics and specific stops. In South Korea, I'm leading, as part of an ongoing process, interagency discussions with the South Koreans on a range of issues, but particularly the North- South dialogue and the future of the Peninsula. This was my fourth visit either alone or with others since October to South Korea. We see this process continuing demonstrating our solidarity with our ally in close consultations.
In addition to that particular subject, which of course was the central one, we did talk about other issues -- economic issues between us, APEC, regional security, and our joint expectation of the Non- Proliferation Treaty would be extended indefinitely.
I had the honor of seeing President Kim and the Foreign Minister and many others.
I went to Mongolia to demonstrate our strong commitment to its rather valiant struggle to achieve democracy and a free market. We do this not only out of friendship for Mongolia, but in our own national interest. It's sandwiched out there between two giants -- Russia and China. We think a secure and prosperous and democratic Mongolia is a factor for stability in the area, and frankly an example to the world that political and economic freedom and reform can be pursued at the same time, simultaneously.
Again, I was honored to meet with senior leaders from the President and the Prime Minister and the Foreign Minister on down. I must say, a particular personal highlight was a tour of the Gobi Desert by helicopter, which was really quite dramatic. It underlined both the historic beauty of Mongolia, but also the difficult lives that they lead in that country.
I then went on to China to take stock of where we are in our relationship. Obviously, some problems have converged in recent months. This is to be expected in this complex and comprehensive relationship. It has happened before in that relationship. But there are many ongoing areas of cooperation as well, and I went there to express our continuing commitment to a constructive relationship, a stable and secure and prosperous and open China, but also, frankly, to discuss some areas of difference and to seek out where we can go from here in a positive way.
This reflects the President's comprehensive strategy of dealing with China across a broad front, so that if we run into some rough patches in certain areas, we can still maintain a momentum overall.
I met with the Vice Premier and Foreign Minister and Vice Ministers, and other members of the Foreign Ministry as well as some private American and Chinese citizens.
The timing was somewhat fortuitous because just before I got there was a very successful trip by Energy Secretary O'Leary, as well as a very major and positive intellectual property rights agreement. We went over a whole range of bilateral, regional and global issues, including various economic ones, security, human rights, Taiwan, Hong Kong, APEC, regional security dialogues, Korea, Cambodia, South China Sea, etc.
I outlined what I thought could be a positive agenda for our relationship and a process to carry it forward. I think we had rather sober discussions but constructive ones, and I had some ideas that I carried back and have reported to Secretary Christopher and others on.
We went on to Japan. Almost anytime we go to Asia, we want to stop in Japan. It's our closest partner and ally out there. It's essential to achieving most of our major goals, not only bilaterally, but also regionally and globally. So we're continuing close consultations on a wide range of issues. And in this 50th anniversary year of the end of the Pacific, and indeed World War II, in general, it's particular important to focus how far we've come with Japan and reconciliation and also the future prospects for our relationship and for the region.
The year began with the Prime Minister and the President meeting here in January. It will close with the President going to Osaka, not only for APEC but for a bilateral meeting. In the course of this year, we will, if anything, intensify our discussion on such issues as security, as well as the common agenda on environmental and other issues -- Korea, Cambodia, etc.
However, as I told our Japanese friends, even though we can highlight these many positive aspects of our partnership, it does not mean that we are finished by any means with the trade agenda. We've reached some good agreements in recent months. There's a lot of unfinished business. So even as we highlight the positive, we've got to keep after these difficult trade problems, particularly in automobiles, deregulation, and implementing agreements already reached.
Again, I had a chance to meet with a wide range of Japanese officials, as well as private Japanese business people and politicians and parliamentarians, foreign policy experts, and academics.
My final stop was Indonesia, where I was sent as a Presidential envoy to underline our determination that Iraq live up to the United Nations resolutions resulting from its invasion of Kuwait before sanctions are eased or lifted. I had the honor of meeting with President Soeharto and saw Foreign Minister Alatas and other government and private sector leaders.
Beyond that issue, I had a chance to discuss many other questions with our Indonesian friends. They were the Chair of APEC last year, so we want to talk about following up on that. South China Sea, they've had a major diplomatic role, of course; other regional security issues; human rights, particularly in East Timor; the Non-Proliferation Treaty; Cambodia and Korea.
So that's a brief overview of the trip. I'll be glad to take questions on those subjects or anything related.
Q Mr. Secretary, with regard to China, and the issue (1) with the Philippines over the Spratlys, and specifically regarding the acquisition, or the contract to acquire 21 subs from the Russians, they're increasing their defense spending about 21 percent, I believe was the figure. How is that playing in the Philippines? And (b), secondly, the matter with regard to Japan and Korea about a missile shield for those two countries. That's way off in the future, but something that the Chinese -- the PRC, that is -- has objected to.
Did you get into those subjects with the Chinese?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY LORD: The first subject, as I mentioned, I didn't actually get to the Philippines. But I can say, as I think is known, they and the Chinese will be meeting shortly to discuss the South China Sea. We welcome any contacts between these countries to settle any of these issues peacefully.
The Chinese have been building up their defense budget, but that's from a rather low base in terms of technology and in terms of defense spending in past years. So it was hard to know exactly how much they're spending in terms of figuring out the budget.
We're obviously going to watch this. It's not of immediate danger to the United States, certainly, given their general level of defense abilities. But the countries of the region are watching it even more closely than we are, particularly when coupled with some of these other statements and incidents. But we don't see any immediate reason for attention or concern by any means.
With respect to the submarines, I've seen various estimates of how many they may be buying. We're talking, I think, kilo-class, diesel submarines; but I'm not sure the figure you have is accurate. It seems a little on the large size to me.
But, in any event, you're right, they're building up their defense, but, as I say, from a low base. I don't think there's any reason for concern.
Q Are we willing to acquiesce to the Chinese build- up without protest, and how do our allies feel about what the Chinese are doing militarily in their naval build-up?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY LORD: Every country has a right to build up legitimate self-defense. As I said, we will watch this closely as we go on from year to year. But the Chinese are starting from a low technological base; for example, in submarines, which are mostly 1950s- type technology of what they already have.
So, obviously, our neighbors who are closer and aren't as military powerful as we are may have concerns earlier or more sharply than we do. Again, I think all countries have an interest in maintaining a stable environment.
It's one reason that we've been enthusiastic about these regional security dialogues, like the ASEAN Regional Forum and others. On top of our bases, on top of our foreign military presence, on top of our commitments out there and alliances, we've entered into these dialogues precisely so that countries can discuss their intentions, whether it's military budgets or territorial claims, and try to ease tensions and build confidence over time. So we think that's a useful forum to discuss issues.
I'm not saying this particular one will come up in that forum. It's quite sensitive immediately, but it's the kind of issue that over the years that forum could usefully address or other regional security dialogues.
Q Did you talk to the Chinese about the missile --
ASSISTANT SECRETARY LORD: The missile thing? No, we did not get into that on my trip.
Q How much do you think Jiang Zemin has consolidated his power in Beijing? And to what extent did the Chinese officials you spoke with seemed concerned about any form of a power shakeup post-Deng?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY LORD: First, you will understand that I'll be a little cautious about commenting on domestic/political developments in any country, including China. Jiang Zemin does a lot of the titles -- it's a collective government by his own admission at this point. He has been designated by Deng Xiaoping to sort of lead this collective government. In effect, the transition has been sort of in place for some time. Deng has not been involved in day-to-day decisions for some time or have any titles.
So there's nothing to suggest other than the current government remaining in place as we go through this succession period.
The Chinese, both private citizens and government officials, generally stressed stability and continuity, as one would expect them to do. I have no reason to judge or to challenge their conviction on this, but that is the line that I got, that what you see is what you get, and it's a stable situation. We'll just have to wait and see. We have no reason to believe otherwise.
Q Mr. Ambassador, could you elaborate on what you talk about Taiwan and which side raised these issues first, and what's your response?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY LORD: Both sides discussed it. Obviously, the Chinese have made clear that they don't like everything we're doing with Taiwan, and we've made very clear that we have very strong, however unofficial, and friendly ties with Taiwan; that we've made some adjustments in our policy, but totally within the framework of unofficial ties with Taiwan, adhering to the three communiques.
So there were considerable discussions on this, and we explained our purposes and our rationale, and it's fair to say that we don't agree in every instance with our Beijing colleagues.
Q Can you talk about the possible visit to the United States by President Li of Taiwan?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY LORD: The Chinese have raised this, along with other aspects which they oppose, so that -- again that did come up, yes.
Q Mr. Secretary, you were in China at a very interesting time, as you have mentioned. What were the major accomplishments of your visit? First question.
Second question: The Chinese Foreign Ministry's spokesman said yesterday that -- well, actually he has asked the U.S. to abandon its confrontational tactics on human rights issues. Would you have any response to that? And also the Senate -- while 36 Senators have jointly introduced a resolution urging the Administration to allow President Li Teng-hui to come to this country, what is your response?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY LORD: You got in three questions there. First, I was only in China for a little more than a day. I mean, I had a day of meetings. And there was no expectation or possibility there would be major concrete accomplishments.
Having said that, I thought it was a very productive visit, and I did give a press conference in Beijing afterwards I would refer you to, in the sense that each side had a chance not only to discuss areas of difference, but areas of cooperation; and each side could affirm that despite these differences, that we want to continue to go ahead and maintain momentum in our relationship, and we talked about a process of doing that in terms of future meetings and future opportunities.
So I think that clearing of the air, coming on the heels of the IPR agreement and the O'Leary visit, discussing where we might go in the future in terms of process and some of the substantive opportunities, and a mutual commitment to seek out area of agreement and maintain momentum despite our problems, I think all that adds up to a successful visit, considering I only had a day's worth of meetings there.
I've seen the Chinese comments, and we've seen them for some time, about human rights debate and resolution in Geneva. Let me first say that we're very pleased that for the first time we won on the procedural motion, so that it was agreed that this was a legitimate item for discussion, and we only lost the follow-on resolution by one vote.
I would point out that we believe it was a moderate resolution that was fair, that indicated where the Chinese had made progress, as well as where we think more progress needs to be made, and this is by no means a U.S.-only effort, whatever the Chinese friends say.
Indeed, it was a European Union resolution that we supported. Japan joined in sponsoring that, as did many others, so this is a very widespread concern. We are hardly following confrontational tactics. Indeed, at Chinese urging, we delinked MFN from human rights issues last year. We were told by the Chinese this would make for further progress in human rights.
The President, himself, at the time made clear that this would continue to be an important issue for us, and that one of the ways we would pursue it, unless there was marked improvement in Chinese performance, would be at Geneva by approaching this problem multilaterally to show that this is a universal or widespread concern around the world and not just United States' concern.
So we have done that. We've done it, we think, in a constructive way. We're not out there to attack China. We're out there to note where they've made progress and where they've made and where they should be living up to universal obligations under the U.N. and other obligations they've undertaken.
We will continue to pursue this through constructive dialogue and through many other ways that the President outlined last spring, and we hardly think it's confrontational, and the best way to make sure it isn't confrontational is for China to make greater progress in human rights than they've been making.
With respect to the Senate resolution, we've made it very clear our position on this. We have great admiration for Taiwan and for Mr. Li and their movement toward democracy and human rights, as well as their great economic success.
We've indicated as part of Taiwan policy adjustments, that we would contemplate for security and convenience and comfort reasons an extended transit visit, but not the kind of visit that is outlined in that resolution which we believe is inconsistent with our unofficial relations with Taiwan. So our position has not changed on that.
Q You mentioned Cambodia -- that you discussed Cambodia with a number of these countries. Can you tell me how they feel about any progress that's been made in Cambodia, and how does this government feel about recent gains by the Khmer Rouge recently?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY LORD: Let me take your last point first. I know the Khmer Rouge are posing a threat in the Battambang Province, and that is something we'll have to watch closely and is of some concern.
But on the whole I wouldn't say there have been recent gains by the Khmer Rouge. I would say there have been recent losses by the Khmer Rouge. There have been very large-scale defections, and in many cases they've brought their families with them, which suggests they're not just coming over to infiltrate the society, they genuinely are leaving.
We are providing assistance to try to help them have a better life. Several thousand have defected, which is a very significant number. The Khmer Rouge is resorting once again to violence and terror, which looks like an act of desperation of a group that is not winning on other fronts.
The Chinese have cut off aid to the Khmer Rouge. The Vietnamese are not in there, so there's no pretext for Khmer Rouge anti-Vietnamese actions. The Thai are cracking down more fully than ever along the border with respect to aid to the Khmer Rouge.
So on that aspect of the situation, although you can never be complacent about the Khmer Rouge threat, given the tragic history, I think it's fair to say that the Khmer Rouge are in trouble, and we welcome that. Building Cambodia's economy, as well as providing for its security, and working diplomatically with these other countries is part of our overall strategy to help secure Cambodia's security.
When you look at Cambodia, it's always a question of half full or half empty is the glass. And if you look at where they've come from the "Killing Fields," you have to see the glass as half full. Not only has all outside interference been removed, as I've suggested, the level of violence, despite the Khmer Rouge, is way down, obviously, compared to previous recent periods in Cambodia history.
They've made some progress in the economy, despite huge challenges. I've mentioned the Khmer Rouge defections. They're beginning to reform their military. There's much more work to be done there, and the coalition is working together despite past animosity.
You had a free election. You had a successful U.N. operation. Everyone likes to beat up on the U.N. They forget how successful it was in Cambodia. So all of this I think is room for some encouragement.
Having said that, of course, huge problems remain -- economically. There's still the Khmer Rouge threat. They need reforms in the military. There is evidence of corruption. There has been some intimidation of parliamentarians and of the press. And we've pointed out to our Cambodian friends, including the very important and meaningful trip that Deputy Secretary Talbott took, and I accompanied him, a few weeks ago, that we continue to support them, but that they've got to make sure that some of these tendencies towards corruption and intimidation be snuffed out before they become dangerous and undercut support for them.
In the next couple of days, there will be an American delegation heading off to Paris for another ICOR, they call it, in terms of support for Cambodia. We're maintaining our levels of assistance, economic and humanitarian. We're providing non-lethal military assistance, but it's conditioned, of course, on continued progress toward reform.
So it's a mixed situation, but I think there's no room for pessimism. There's certainly no room for complacency, and they've made rather remarkable progress in recent years, and we hope that that will continue.
Q The North Koreans have said a couple times this week that forcing them to accept these South Korean reactors actually violates the Framework, and that they're perfectly willing to walk away. The U.S. attitude has been that they have no alternative. Do you take the North Korean rhetoric seriously?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY LORD: First, Ambassador Gallucci yesterday in a press conference and last night on television addressed this issue in some detail, and it's very hard to improve on his articulate presentation. But I will at least try to equal them. (Laughter)
Obviously, you have to take serious rhetoric as well as possible actions. This is a very important and complex issue, and one cannot be complacent. Frankly, we never expected the implementation to be easy. The negotiations are very tough. The implementation is clearly going to be tough. What is important is solidarity, particularly with our South Korean and Japanese friends, and that was one of the main purposes of my trip. And we will maintain that solidarity, including on the reactor issue.
As Ambassador Gallucci said yesterday, in the course of the negotiations, we made it very clear that the only alternative was South Korean model reactors, and there's no way that North Korea could not have understood this when they made the deal in the Agreed Framework.
We did agree to establish with our South Korean, Japanese and other friends -- and we just did yesterday -- the KEDO -- the Korean Energy Development Organization -- to help manage this process, not only in reactors but alternative fuel and taking care of spent fuel, and so on.
We're going to have to solve this problem, and the North Koreans are going to have to accept South Korean reactors. How we get from here to there, we'll just have to see. I think it's a time for steadiness. There's no question about what the Framework entailed, and the North Koreans are just trying to push the envelope here, and they're just going to have to figure out a way to work with us to implement this agreement.
Meanwhile, we'll work very closely and stand solidly with our South Korean and Japanese and other friends on this issue.
Q Are you satisfied --
ASSISTANT SECRETARY LORD: Let me just point out that there is no alternative to South Korean model reactors. I mean, this is an expensive project, so financially it's just not feasible to do it any other way. The South Koreans are playing a central role. That goes for the Japanese as well who will play a significant role, and there are technical and political reasons why it has to be a South Korean reactor. So that's just an issue where we're just going to have to reach agreement, and the North Koreans are going to have to adhere to what they clearly understand has to be the case.
Q Are you satisfied with the level of cooperation from countries -- other countries from which funds have been sought for KEDO?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY LORD: So far we think it's quite encouraging. South Korea will play a central role. Japan is playing a significant role. Australia, New Zealand have announced specific contributions. Canada said it will contribute. We have indications from others that they will come through. So we think we can be encouraged about the financial aspects.
The fact that we established KEDO, that we've worked very hard to line up participation and financial support is evidence of our good faith in implementing the Agreed Framework. We're going ahead. We told North Korea we would set up this organization. We've done it. We're in a position now to supply them the alternative fuel, and thus we would hope they would implement the agreement even as we have.
I might add that so far they've implemented other parts of the agreement in terms of freezing their nuclear program, but they have not agreed yet to North-South dialogue which remains absolutely crucial, and they are making noise on the reactor question, as we've just discussed.
Q To follow up --
ASSISTANT SECRETARY LORD: Maybe I ought to have someone else who hasn't had a question.
Q I have two questions. One is that how do you look at the political stability of China. Then number two: During your discussions, did the question of Tibet and Dalai Lama come up?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY LORD: On the second question, on almost every occasion we do raise this issue, and I did raise the question of Tibet again, urging the Chinese to talk directly to the Dalai Lama who has courageously dropped the one precondition that the Chinese insisted on, namely, that independence be on the agenda. He's willing to talk without that being on the agenda and yet the Chinese still won't talk to him. So we would very much want to see that happen, and I did raise that issue.
With respect to stability, we talked about that a little bit before. The Chinese and other diplomats in Beijing have indicated that they see a stable situation. It's very hard to quarrel with that, and I can't predict what's going to happen.
The Chinese leaders, including the Premier in speeches to the National People's Congress have frankly admitted, however, problems, including corruption and inflation. So they, themselves, would, I think, acknowledge that there are elements of instability which they must address. But beyond that I'm not going to comment on the Chinese domestic scene.
MS. SHELLY: Last question.
ASSISTANT SECRETARY LORD: There are only two hands. Let's take them both. We'll take you and then we'll come back to you.
Q Korean Broadcasting System. If North Korea even tried to counter the Agreed Framework and (inaudible) the reactors and the processing, are you willing to ask the U.N. Security Council to impose sanctions against North Korea?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY LORD: If they break the freeze in reprocessing and reactors? The first thing we'd do in that -- let's hope we don't reach that point. That's the first thing, and we don't think that's in North Korea's interest and it's certainly no one else's interest. So I hope this is a hypothetical question only.
Exactly, the first thing we'd do is sit down in particular with our South Korean and Japanese friends and decide on next steps. I'm not going to start previewing what we would do, but certainly we would consider all options, and one of those would be a return to the United Nations Security Council.
But, as I say, we very much hope we won't reach that point.
MS. SHELLY: Last question.
Q On that issue, is it accurate to say that currently South Korea, the United States and Japan are getting the better part of this deal in that North Korea remains frozen basically for oil. That's all they're getting out of the deal is oil. They're not taking advantage at the moment of the reactor deal.
And a second adjunct to that would be how long can this go on in this particular status quo without coming to crisis? Bob Gallucci said there was no crisis impending.
ASSISTANT SECRETARY LORD: We think the overall Agreed Framework is a win-win situation. You don't have a deal on issues of great national security and moment unless both sides feel it's in their self-interest. Of course, as we made clear, we think it's very much in the international community's interest and our national interest to implement this Framework Agreement, both in terms of non-proliferation and in terms of stability in the area.
Hopefully, North-South dialogue and reconciliation, so that we can have the future of the Peninsula resolved in a peaceful and constructive way. But for North Korea, it gives them a chance to get economic assistance and break out of their diplomatic isolation and get alternative energy as well.
So that basic deal is I'm not going to claim that we get more out of it than they do, but I'd certainly claim it very strongly in the American national interest and international interests.
You can make the case, as you have, that if they've frozen their program and they refuse to accept alternative energy, we're not losing any ground, and that's true. We would much prefer, however, to go ahead with the Framework so that both sides can move ahead, and we think that would be a more stable situation.
But if they don't want to take alternative energy, if they maintain the freeze at the same time, certainly we're not losing anything. But the preferred position is to go ahead on all fronts, including the provision of alternative energy. And I agree with Ambassador Gallucci, obviously, we're watching the situation with concern. We've noted the North Korean rhetoric.
April 21 is not a fixed date to resolve this issue, but it is a target date, and let us hope we can make progress before then, in any event.
Q Will the status quo remain as is without crisis indefinitely?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY LORD: I'd rather not -- let's just hope it won't remain as is. I think we'd much rather resolve this issue, even if we're not losing any ground while this situation exists. But beyond that I'm not prepared to comment.
MS. SHELLY: Thank you very much.
ASSISTANT SECRETARY LORD: Thank you.
(Assistant Secretary Lord concluded his briefing at 1:27 p.m., after which Ms. Shelly immediately began her briefing)
MS. SHELLY: Let me begin with an announcement which I know is of interest to all of you. This is regarding the return of the victims of the Karachi attack. A United States military aircraft will return the remains of Foreign Service employees Jacqueline Van Landingham and Gary Durrell to the U.S. on Sunday morning.
The plane will arrive at Andrews Air Force Base at 10:00 a.m. Mr. Mark McCloy, who was injured in the attack, will also be on the aircraft, as will members of all of the victims' families.
Acting Secretary Talbott, other senior U.S. Government officials and colleagues will take part in an arrival ceremony in which the Acting Secretary will make brief remarks.
The press may cover the ceremony, but there will be no opportunity for interviews. Mr. McCloy and members of the victims' families have expressed their hope that the press will understand their need for privacy and forego any requests for interviews at this time.
The press center at Andrews Air Force Base is scheduled to open at 8:30 a.m. on Sunday. The telephone number for the Base Public Affairs Office is 301-981-4511.
I'll be happy to take your questions.
Q Will you talk about Mr. Holbrooke's schedule this weekend?
MS. SHELLY: Why? You think he's going on some trip?
MS. SHELLY: I don't have a lot of details on that. He did mention travel to his region in testimony yesterday, and that's what I think created a lot of speculation about where he might be going.
What I can tell you at this point is that he will be traveling to Denmark and to Estonia this weekend with Vice President Gore's party. Let me just add in response to that, because I've gotten several questions already on this, he does not have plans to return to Croatia at this time.
Q (Inaudible) at the summit?
MS. SHELLY: My understanding is that he -- and I'm not making travel announcements on President Tudjman, but it's my understanding that he does expect to be in Denmark this weekend.
Q So that's the subject of Mr. Holbrooke's visit to Denmark, right?
MS. SHELLY: As I mentioned, Mr. Holbrooke is going to be both in Denmark and also in Estonia with the Vice President's party.
Q One more scheduling matter. The Secretary is meeting Kozyrev in Geneva, we think. Do you know that for sure, and do you know when?
MS. SHELLY: I'm not making any announcement on that. I'm not going to rule out the location that you've described, because they have met there in the past.
The Secretary himself in the Middle East, in Cairo yesterday, indicated that he expected to be meeting with Mr. Kozyrev in about two weeks, which would make that the week after next. We are in discussions with the Russians right now about the exact dates for that meeting, including also where exactly that meeting would take place.
So this is not a formal announcement at this point, but simply confirming what the Secretary has already indicated informally yesterday in Cairo.
Q Do you have a readout on the CONOCO meeting yesterday?
MS. SHELLY: I've got a little bit on that. CONOCO representatives met at their request with officials in the Department's Near Eastern Bureau and in the Office of International Energy Policy in the Bureau of Economic and Business Affairs.
CONOCO provided details on their negotiations with Iran and the agreement they have reached regarding plans to develop the Sirri oil field. Department officials expressed our view that this type of agreement is inconsistent with the objectives of our policy of containment toward Iran.
I'd also like to draw your attention to remarks which the Secretary made yesterday regarding this proposed deal. The text is available in the Press Office. Just in short, the Secretary reiterated our view that Iran is an outlaw nation; that they have projected terror throughout the region; and they have sought to undermine the peace process.
He reiterated the fact that the focus of our policy is to prevent Iran from getting weapons of mass destruction; to prevent them from getting armaments; and to prevent them from having credit concessions, as those types of concessions give them extra funds to increase their projection of terror.
He also said that we feel it is inconsistent with the containment policy that we have carried forward; that the proposed transaction with CONOCO is inconsistent with the containment policy we have, and it's something that we will be working on over the next several days and weeks.
Q So are you all thinking of proposing legislation or somehow making it illegal for U.S. "countries" to deal with Iran?
MS. SHELLY: We, of course, constantly look at all of the means which we have at our disposal to try and attain more effectively our policy objectives. And, of course, we factor in any new elements into that process as it arrives.
There is some legislation which has been referred to already as possibly coming from Senator D'Amato. I don't have anything specific on that. But at this point, I would not rule anything out.
Q On a different subject?
MS. SHELLY: Sure.
MS. SHELLY: I'm sorry.
MS. SHELLY: Guatemala. Yes.
Q Mrs. Harbury has announced she will start a fast on Sunday outside the White House. I have two questions.
First, last November, you said that the U.S. Government believed that Mr. Bamaca was taken prisoner by the Guatemalan army, and the Administration has always worked on the assumption that he might alive. Do you have any current indication of whether he's dead or alive?
MS. SHELLY: I don't have anything new to add to that. We, of course, are aware of Ms. Harbury's announcement that she will go on a hunger strike beginning March 12.
We will continue to press the Guatemalan Government for a full accounting of what happened to her husband, Efrain Bamaca, as we have done repeatedly. We will continue to keep her informed of any progress in this case.
We certainly share her concern about the lack of progress in resolving the case and, as I said, we will continue to press Guatemalan authorities to give a full accounting.
We have continued, since we last talked about this, to raise the case at the highest levels of the Guatemalan Government, including the Solicitor and Prosecutor Generals, with the Minister of Defense, and with President de Leon.
State Department officials in Washington and Guatemala have met with Ms. Harbury on numerous occasions and most recently on February 8. Ambassador McAfee and Embassy officers visited her often during her hunger strike in Guatemala last fall, and have continued to provide her assistance on her several visits to Guatemala since then.
While we have no conclusive evidence based on all of the information available to us, it is our considered assessment that her husband died in military custody in 1992 after a short but indeterminate period of captivity and interrogation.
We have provided Ms. Harbury with authenticated copies of official spokesmen statements on this case. We and other Federal agencies, to whom Ms. Harbury has addressed Freedom of Information requests for documents -- we're all handling her request on an expedited basis.
Q I understand that this year's distinguished guest instructor at the School of the Americas is a Guatemalan officer, and that U.S. National Guard troops are going down to Guatemala in an army program to build roads. Does the Administration intend to use any of these associations to obtain from the Guatemalan army a determination of this case?
MS. SHELLY: I don't have any specific information on the proposed activities that you're referenced. So, let me check and see on that before I would answer the second part of your question.
Q A question from Canadian television: Are you aware of the so-called "fish war" going on off the grand banks of Newfoundland? And does the American Government agree with the European Union that the Canadian seizure of a Spanish trawler in international waters was "a lawless act of organized piracy?"
MS. SHELLY: We're certainly aware of the events and are trying to also collect any additional information which might be made available to us.
I don't have a lengthy comment at this point on it. All I can say at this juncture is that we hope that the parties involved will be able to negotiate a satisfactory solution.
Q Does the U.S. Government recognize Canadian jurisdiction in international waters off the nose and tail of the Grand Banks?
MS. SHELLY: I'm not an expert on this subject. So let me take that question and see if there's anything I can say specifically on that.
Q Do you think Canada should be arresting officers on this ship over this dispute of territorial waters? Is that taking it a little too far?
MS. SHELLY: What I said at the beginning, we're aware of the incident. We're trying to get as much information as we can. But I think at this point, it would be inappropriate for me to delve any further into the issue without knowing the full range of the facts involved.
Q Just one follow-up, if I may. And that is, in the past, I believe the United States has officially protested to Canada, over Canada's declaration of its jurisdiction, its passage of law declaring that it does have such jurisdiction outside its 200-mile limit. You have not repeated that today. Why not?
MS. SHELLY: I've told you what we have to say on it at this point. I certainly note your questions and your reflection of interest in other issues, which touch on the fishing issues. As to the specific thing, the specific issue regarding the Spanish fishing vessel, I've said what I have to say on that. I'll be happy to go back to my experts on this subject to reflect the nature of today's questioning and see if there's more we'd like to say.
Q Back to CONOCO. Is it fair to say, then, that the Administration is weighing measures to block the deal?
MS. SHELLY: That is not what I said. I've said what we have to say at this point about what we've conveyed to CONOCO, which is, we think that it is inconsistent with -- the proposed transaction is inconsistent with what our policy is, but I'm not going to take it beyond that at this point.
Q What's the Administration's position on the D'Amato bill?
MS. SHELLY: I didn't take a specific position on that.
Q Is there one?
MS. SHELLY: I don't know whether we have said anything on it publicly. As I said, we consider all possible avenues with respect to Iran in terms of trying to achieve our objectives with it. We keep them under review and then make decisions accordingly about what we think is most likely to be effective on that score; but I don't have a specific comment on the D'Amato bill.
Q Beyond what Ambassador Lord had to say about the North Korean situation, is there any today movement on the issue of the nuclear reactors?
MS. SHELLY: No. I have absolutely nothing new for today.
Q Christine, can you the State Department's assessment of the Taliban student militia in Afghanistan which sort of come out of nowhere in the last couple of months, and yesterday, also took over a part of Kabul?
MS. SHELLY: I'll be happy to give you what I've got on that. The United States continues to urge all sides to the on-going Afghan civil war, to cooperate fully with the U.N.'s effort to begin a peaceful transition process in Afghanistan.
We support no particular Afghan faction, movement, or party. The United States will work with whatever government emerges in Kabul, holding it accountable to international standards of conduct.
The Taliban's advance into southwestern Kabul, which I understand occurred on March 8, followed attacks by the pro- Rabbani elements of the Shi'a Hezb-I-Wahdat faction. The Taliban threatened to impose a cease- fire on the warring factions and then to occupy the positions that were held by the Hezb-I-Wahdat in Kabul and largely disarm that faction.
In the past two days, the fighting has not been intense as it had been earlier in the week.
I understand there has been a reference to the possibility of the Taliban establishing some kind of extremist Islamic regime in Afghanistan. As I indicated at the beginning, we will work with whatever government emerges in Kabul and hold it accountable to international standards of conduct.
The on-going civil war and the anarchy in Afghanistan -- largely the struggle for power of various fundamentalists factions -- it has enabled narcotics traffickers and radical militants to exploit Afghan soil, a situation that threatens regional stability and U.S. national interests.
The Taliban's stated aim is to rid Afghanistan of the warring factions and to institute a unified, functioning government based on Islamic law.
Q The U.N. peace initiative, though, was put together before the Taliban emerged virtually out of no where. It has now taken over a third of the country. Even some U.N. officials are admitting that the plan as it stands is virtually a non-starter now. The U.S. is now urging other countries and other factions to support it.
MS. SHELLY: We still believe that the United Nations effort can facilitate the peaceful transition process in Afghanistan. Certainly, we'll continue to work to support it in the effort to try to reach a more peaceful situation.
Q On Pakistan itself, do you have anymore about the shootings? Has anyone claimed responsibility for them? Has the investigation moved forward? Anything in that area?
MS. SHELLY: I don't have a lot to update you on today. As I think you know, the agents of the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation have arrived in Karachi to assist the Pakistani authorities in the investigation. There is still no information on the identity or on the motives of the attackers.
I understand that no one has claimed responsibility. So it's something that obviously we are going to watch extremely carefully. There have been some rumors out there about various theories and connections on this.
I don't think we feel at this point there's any hard evidence that would enable us to make judgments at this point about responsibility.
There was, of course, another incident of violence in Karachi earlier today. There was an explosion at a Shi'ite mosque which killed ten people and wounded several others. Just in this month alone, there have been already about 70 people who have been killed in the on-going violence.
The Pakistani Government has advised us of a number of steps it has taken to address the situation in Karachi. These include strengthening of law enforcement agencies, cracking on sectarian/religious extremists, and banning foreign funding of religious schools.
We deplore the prevailing lawlessness in Karachi and urge continuing efforts by the government to apprehend and prosecute those responsible for the turmoil and bloodshed.
Q On the consulate there, has that reopened or is it still closed? And are the security measures still pretty much in place -- the beefed-up security measures?
MS. SHELLY: Certainly, the heightened security measures, I think can be expected to remain in place for some time. I've not heard specifically that the consulate has reopened yet.
The movements of our people who do have to move about in connection with their official responsibilities, we're keeping those to a minimum and taking all appropriate security cautions when they do have to go from one place to another.
Q One of the Kurdish deputies, who escaped from Turkey last year after his party was banned and his immunity was lifted, is in the United States right now. I believe, actually, he's in Washington, D.C. He lost his Turkish citizenship also.
I wonder what kind of visa he's carrying? Second, you are very careful to issue a visa for the Sinn Fein. The Turkish Government is asking all of the European countries to extradite these guys to Turkey, and you are issuing a visa. This is the second time in a year they are visiting the United States. What's the reason?
MS. SHELLY: What is the question?
Q The first one is, what kind of visa you issued for them?
MS. SHELLY: Why don't you come up maybe after the briefing. You haven't even given me a name at this point. You've just given me a title for him. I don't know. I don't have any information on that with me, so I'm not in a position to answer the question.
Q Can you take the question?
MS. SHELLY: I don't know. I'll see. I don't know if that is something that I can expend a huge amount of effort to come up with a formal response. I'll be happy to look into it.
Q Christine, to follow up Karl's question on the Korean reactor issue. It was stated in an article --
MS. SHELLY: I'm not going to do anything more on the Korean issue.
Q That's right, you're unable.
MS. SHELLY: There was a press conference up in New York yesterday on KEDO as well as a couple of media appearances by Ambassador Gallucci. The transcript of that press event yesterday is available in Press Office. Winston Lord was also here for half an hour, so I'm just not doing any other Asian questions.
Q Thank you.
MS. SHELLY: Thanks.
(Press briefing concluded at 1:45 p.m.)
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