U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE OFFICE OF THE SPOKESMAN DAILY PRESS BRIEFING MARCH 31, 1995 U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE DAILY PRESS BRIEFING I N D E X Friday, March 31, 1995 Briefer: Richard Holbrooke Christine Shelly EUROPEAN AFFAIRS TURKEY Conclusion of U.S./Turkish Joint Economic Commission ...1-9 --Initialing of Globe Agreement; Signing of ............1-2 Cooperative Finance Agreement; Taxation Treaty .....1-2 --Oil Pipeline Issue ...................................2-3,8 U.S./EUR Strategic Interests in Turkey/U.S. Support ....2-3 Recent/Upcoming U.S./Turkish/European Contacts .........4-5,7 --Military Operation in Northern Iraq ..................3,17 --Scope and Duration ...................................4-5 --Work of Joint Economic Commission ....................4-5 --Human Rights Issues ..................................3 --Turkish/Greek Differences re: Cyprus Issue ...........8-9 D/S Talbott/A/S Holbrooke Travel to Region .............4-5,6 GREECE Assistant Secretary Holbrooke's Trip to Region .........4-5,6 DEPARTMENT--ANNOUNCEMENTS Introduction of Lyndsay Hall, Press Office Intern ......9 Conference on Human Rights Policy--Post-Cold War Era ...9-10 U.S. Presentation to UN Human Rights Committee .........10-11 IRAQ Report of Baghdad Forces Attacking Kurdish Territory ...11 U.S. Detainees--Visit of Polish Authorities ............15-16 GUATEMALA Bamaca/Devine Case --Secretary Christopher's Congressional Testimony ......11 --President Clinton's Request for Gov't.-Wide Review ...11-12 NORTH KOREA Framework Agreement--Resumption of Talks ...............12 Japan/North Korea--Normalization Talks .................14 MIDDLE EAST PEACE PROCESS Secretary Christopher Mtg. w/Israeli/Syrian Reps .......12-13 Ambassador Ross' Next Trip to Region ...................13 LEBANON Reports of Fighting in Southern Lebanon ................13-14 INDIA Nine Americans Arrested/Detained .......................14-15 ALGERIA Cycle of Violence/Violations of Human Rights ...........16 --Reported Remarks by Algerian Ambassador re: Islamic Fundamentalists ............................16-17 CANADA U/S Wirth's Meeting w/Premier Wells of Newfoundland ....17 --Possible Discussion of Canada/Spain Fishing Dispute ..17 INTERNATIONAL NARCOTICS/LAW ENFORCEMENT Coast Guard Interception of Fishing Vessel Fang Ming ...18-19 EGYPT Status of Egyptian Position on Indefinite Extension of NPT ..........................20-21 CHINA Report of Visit of Intelligence Chief of Army ..........21 COUNTERTERRORISM Reward for Pan Am 103 Terrorists .......................21-22
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
DAILY PRESS BRIEFING
FRIDAY, MARCH 31, 1995, 12:41 P.M.
(ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED)
MS. SHELLY: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. Welcome to the State Department Press Briefing. We're going to begin our press briefing today with a special guest appearance by Assistant Secretary for European Affairs Richard Holbrooke. He's going to kick off with a rundown on the recently concluded meeting of the U.S.-Turkey Joint Economic Commission, and then he'll be happy to take a few of your questions. He doesn't have a lot of time to be with us today because he has a pressing luncheon engagement, but I'm very happy to have him here and I'll let him take over from this point, and then I'll follow the usual format.
ASSISTANT SECRETARY HOLBROOKE: Thank you, Christine.
We've just concluded a two-day session of the U.S.- Turkish Joint Economic Commission, co-chaired by Dr. Emre Gonensay, Advisor to the Prime Minister of Turkey, and myself. We're distributing this document in the hope that although I know your questions are going to be directed elsewhere, you will pay some attention to what we've done.
We signed several agreements, and we came very close to final signature on another one.
We initialed the so-called GLOBE Agreement -- GLOBE stands for "Global Learning and Observation to Benefit the Environment." That Agreement will be signed by the Vice President or the President when the Prime Minister comes here in mid-April.
We signed a Cooperative Financing Agreement between the ExIm Bank of the United States and the ExIm Bank of Turkey, and we came down to the final yard lines on a taxation treaty. The U.S. Treasury Department needs to work out some final things on our side, and we have some work to do in Ankara, but we're almost there.
As we speak, the Turkish-American Business Council is meeting at the Willard Hotel to discuss what really matters on this front, which is American investment in the region.
This is a very important part of our relations with Turkey, and I will use it to back into the larger strategic issues because business relations are increasingly important.
The Commerce Department and the State Department have designated Turkey one of their so-called BEMs -- Big Emerging Markets. Only two of their 10 big emerging markets are in Europe: Poland and Turkey. The others are all in the developing world: China, Indonesia, Mexico, and so on. This is another indication of the importance of Turkey.
One of the most interesting subjects we discussed was the oil pipeline issue, which I'm willing to answer questions on if you're interested in it. This is potentially one of the largest projects in the world today. There's an interesting article on it in the current issue of The Economist, and we will be taking it up further in the next month when -- as I will get to in a minute -- Strobe Talbott and I go separately into the region and meet in Kiev and Ankara.
Now, to turn to what I think is probably the area of your primary concern, the entire area of Southeastern Europe has become increasingly, in the last few years, an area of tension, conflict, open warfare, unresolved issues left over from the past.
In that region, which I would roughly define as the lower right-hand corner of the map, if you put your finger on Vienna and divide Europe into four squares, in that lower right-hand quarter of the map you have two United States NATO allies -- Greece and Turkey -- which themselves have had a troubled relationship, constrained by their mutual adherence to the NATO Treaty and by American relations with each country.
We have focused increasingly on that area, and in that area it is not an exaggeration to say that Turkey -- while it was already a front-line state during the Cold War, in the sense that there was a common Turkish-Soviet border -- has increasingly become the front-line state for the United States.
During the Cold War, most people looked at Germany as the front line; and NATO's planning was primarily addressing a Soviet thrust through Central Europe at the Fulda Gap. Well, there's no Red Army anymore. There's no Fulda Gap. Germany is united. Turkey has increasingly become the centerpiece for American strategic interests of a very dangerous neighborhood.
Look at the issues of the region and consider how many of them impact directly on Turkey and on whom Turkey impacts directly.
In rough clockwise order, Nagorno-Karabakh, Chechnya, Iran, Iraq, Cyprus, problems in the Aegean, Bosnia, all have a direct effect on Turkey, for reasons you're all familiar with.
And, in addition, there are other tensions in the area which do not directly involve Turkey but can affect them -- Greece-Albanian relations, relations between Athens and Skopje, and the situation between Russia and Ukraine because of the Crimea.
The oil pipeline issue I mentioned earlier is a unique situation because everything comes together on that issue -- business, environment, oil policies stretching as far as Kazakhstan, and political issues.
In any case, this is a dangerous neighborhood; and Turkey is critical to the security and stability of Europe -- and when I say "stability and security of Europe," I include our own stability and security, because we are a European power and it matters to us.
Of course, we have had our differences with Turkey over the years, as we have had with many other allies. These include the area of human rights, which you're all familiar with. We believe that it is entirely legitimate for us to stand up for universal principles of human rights with allies and friends, and we've spoken frankly to the Turks many times about these areas.
But we believe firmly that the PKK is a terrorist organization, and we have supported Turkish efforts -- while not always agreeing with each method -- to deal with this problem.
Currently, the Turks have launched a military operation in northern Iraq inside the "no-fly" zone.
We believe that their efforts to deal with the PKK are legitimate and their territorial integrity is critically important not only to them but all of Europe, because I can tell you clearly that if the territorial integrity of the current boundaries of Europe -- no matter what historical accidents created them -- is changed, it will lead to chaos throughout the region; and I've been told that flatly, for example, by President Berisha in Tirana, President Gligorov in Skopje, and throughout the region.
At the same time, we have expressed our concern that these operations be limited in scope and duration. The Turkish Government, for its part, has assured us that they will be limited in scope and duration.
During the last two days, Dr. Gonensay has spoken with a large number of senior American officials, including our Secretary of Treasury, and most importantly, Secretary Christopher. Last night, Dr. Gonensay met with Secretary Christopher and Tom Donilon and Strobe Talbott and myself, to discuss the Joint Economic Commission's work. The Secretary began by congratulating Dr. Gonensay on the work of the Commission, and then we turned to the issue at hand.
The Secretary also asked Assistant Secretary Shattuck to meet separately with Ambassador Kandemir and Dr. Gonensay, and that meeting also took place, to discuss other human rights issues.
In regard to the Secretary's meeting with Dr. Gonensay last night, the Secretary expressed support for Turkey's territorial integrity, appreciation of the Joint Economic Commission's work, mentioned the human rights issues in ways that you're all familiar with, and expressed his hope that the previous Turkish Government statements about the operation being limited in scope and duration would still apply.
Dr. Gonensay said they certainly did, and he carried personal comments from the Turkish Government to the Secretary to that effect.
The Secretary of State said that these were important assurances, and we are in continuing dialogue with the Turkish Government.
Prior to the beginning of this military operation, the Secretary of State had asked Strobe Talbott to go to Moscow, Kiev, and Ankara; and I was going to go with them, but I can't get to Moscow because I have another commitment. So I was going to meet Strobe in Kiev and go on to Ankara with him, where we will be -- and there will also be a high- ranking Defense Department official with us.
And while Strobe is in Moscow, I will go to Athens to meet with Mr. Papandreou and members of his government and then join up with Strobe in Kiev.
The purpose of all these trips goes way beyond the issue we're discussing right now -- and I want to stress that with the exception of the added stop in Athens, all of this was planned well before the military operation began. But, of course, it will be a part of our discussions in each spot.
In addition, the Turkish Foreign Minister -- Mr. Inonu -- will be here next week to discuss the situation with Secretary Christopher. And then in mid-April, Prime Minister Ciller will be here and will meet with the President and other Government officials.
All of this, I want to stress, is within the context of our belief that Turkey's stability, integrity, and security are essential to stability and security throughout Southeastern Europe.
We've also been in close contact with our European allies.
I'd be happy to answer some questions.
Q As of now, have the Turkish officials informed you about the possible local solution to address Turkey's concerns about the security in northern Iraq -- a solution possibly involving an agreement with the two main Kurdish parties in the region?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY HOLBROOKE: We've discussed this in general terms, but I think you'd have to address to the Turkish Government what their position is on that. That's not for us to say.
Q What's your current understanding of what "limited scope and duration" means? Are we talking weeks or months?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY HOLBROOKE: No specific date certain has been given for the end of the operation. Indeed, it's quite possible the operation would have different phases geographically or in terms of objectives. So I don't have a clear answer to your question at this point, but it's not going to be a matter of months.
Q If all these stops were planned ahead of time before the operation began --
ASSISTANT SECRETARY HOLBROOKE: Except Athens.
Q -- except Athens -- why was Athens added on after the operation began?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY HOLBROOKE: For various reasons. One was just logistical. I found I had some extra time and I couldn't get to Moscow.
The other was this will be my second trip to Turkey in two months, and I'd like to keep a rough parity.
The third is Greece is the other NATO ally, as I said earlier.
The fourth is that there's a great deal of bilateral U.S.-Greek issues that do not relate to Turkey, such as the dramatically improving situation between Greece and Albania -- which we are very heavily involved in, that we want to talk to the Greeks about.
The fifth issue is Cyprus. We want to talk about Cyprus.
But underlying all of this is the point that I want to stress, which is Greece is a very important NATO ally. And when its neighborhood has also become -- after all, they're between Bosnia and this situation; and they have their own problems with Skopje. There's just a lot to talk about. And I had not met with Mr. Papandreou on my last trip because he had been out of the country. So when he said he could see me, we changed the schedule around.
Q You made a very strong case for Turkey's importance, but last year when the Administration was running short on money, Turkey lost a good chunk of its assistance program. It was $20 million-plus. Do you have any way of getting that money back through a supplemental or something?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY HOLBROOKE: I don't know. I've got to look into it. I wasn't here at that time.
Q Would you have recommended against reprogramming away from Turkey if you had been here?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY HOLBROOKE: Of course. Of course. No question -- I'm not sure my recommendation would have been accepted, but we all make recommendations all the time on resource allocation which get overruled. This is not clientelistic in the most obvious sense, but it goes without saying that Turkey's strategic importance to the United States requires a concommitant commitment of resources.
But we have a genuine resource crunch, and it is being exacerbated by some very shortsighted thinking coming from people on the Hill who keep asking us to "rob Peter to pay Paul," and it's a very tricky situation. But let there be no misunderstanding about it, in the European theater, Turkey is on the front line, for all the reasons we've discussed and others, and we want to support Turkey even when we have frank differences with them, as we have quite often.
Q At a time when much of your closest -- many of your closest allies in Europe -- France and Germany -- are cutting off aid to Turkey and condemning this operation, the United States is forging ahead with economic cooperation and you're standing up here and explaining their strategic importance.
Why is it that there's such sharp differences on this issue between the United States and Europe, and is there any -- has it been pointed out to the Turks that there is a threshold of our tolerance for this?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY HOLBROOKE: On the first part of your question, there is less of a difference between us and the Europeans than may appear on the surface, although I fully understand why you phrase the question the way you do.
In the last 72 hours, we have been in touch with almost every one of our European allies. The Secretary State and I have directly talked to the Danes, the Luxembourgers, the Germans -- I'm trying to remember -- the British and several others who happened to be in town. It was the number one subject. There may have been other contacts I'm unaware of.
Everyone -- every one of our European allies shares the view I articulated about Turkey's strategic importance. But each country has its own special interaction with the problem, most notably the Germans who have two and a half million Turks in Germany, and which have been very well reported in The Washington Post and The New York Times lately, have many of the problems in Turkey, including the PKK problem, exported to their countries.
So they will deal with it their way. We will deal with it our way. We have the same strategic objective, the same importance to Turkey, and I want to stress that it was the European Union with strong American support that on March 6 took the historic step of agreeing to the Turkish Customs Union with the EU, which, however, has to be ratified by the European Parliament in October.
So I don't think the difference is quite as critical as it would seem.
Q Mr. Secretary, can I follow Sid's question. The Danes told us here earlier this week that they thought that the incursion was illegal, against international law. What are the ramifications for unity in NATO, and what do the other major NATO partners think about the legality of --
ASSISTANT SECRETARY HOLBROOKE: The Danes didn't say that to us. They may have said it to you. In any case, that's not what I am led to understand. I would ask Christine, perhaps, to help you after this conference on what our legal people think about this issue.
MS. SHELLY: Last question.
Q Did you discuss with the Turkish officials the Greek-Turkish differences, in particular Cyprus?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY HOLBROOKE: On this trip --
ASSISTANT SECRETARY HOLBROOKE: -- Cyprus did not really come up, because we've done a lot of other things, and we will return to that issue next week.
We'll take one more, I think, if it's all right with you, Christine?
Q So what is your preference for the pipeline project? Which country do you --
ASSISTANT SECRETARY HOLBROOKE: The United States has made a -- I think you know we've made a major statement that the pipeline should go through Turkey.
Q No, before Turkey, which countries --
ASSISTANT SECRETARY HOLBROOKE: That's the $800 billion question. That is about as big an economic business question as there could be, and there are so many factors -- political, environmental, logistical, whether you go through the mountains, do you go through Georgia, or how do you handle the Nagorno-Karabakh issue.
It is going to take a lot of study. The Turkish delegation here, which was 44 people, included environmentalists, business people, and so on, and we talked this at great length. We had two sub-groups on it. We're just starting this issue, and it is a very -- I think it's one of the most interesting issues we're dealing with, but I can't possibly answer it yet. We have a long way to go.
Q Iran is definitely out of the question, right?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY HOLBROOKE: We are opposed to a pipeline through Iran. That is clear, and that was a major decision and one which I think you all are aware of and you understand the reasons for it.
May I say one last thing, Christine. In our public statement at the Willard Hotel, which I think only one person in this room attended, Dr. Gonensay in response to the same question -- and here I'm only quoting him for your own guidance -- said that the Turkish Government favored two pipelines, one through Russia, and you might want to get his statement on that.
MS. SHELLY: Thank you very much.
(Assistant Secretary Holbrooke concluded his briefing at 1:01 p.m., after which Ms. Shelly began the regular Daily Press Briefing.)
MS. SHELLY: I'm sorry. I really have to respect the time constraints that Assistant Secretary Holbrooke is under. Thank you.
Let me begin with a couple of announcements. The first is that the Press Office is pleased to introduce to you our spring intern, Lyndsay Hall. Lyndsay, would you like to stand up for a second.
She arrived in the Press Office on Monday and will be with us until June 2. Her internship with the Press Office is in conjunction with a scholarship through the University of Minnesota. Lyndsay is from St. Paul. She's a junior at the University of Minnesota, majoring in political science. She has just completed a three-month internship with the Minnesota House of Representatives.
Welcome, Lyndsay, and we're happy to have you with us, and I'm sure that our press corps will show you all the usual courtesy that they show the rest of the members of our staff.
MS. SHELLY: George Gedda -- tsk, tsk. Okay, next announcement.
Monday, April 3: The State Department's Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor and the Carnegie Corporation will be hosting a conference on "Human Rights Policy in the Post-Cold War Era: from Early Warning to Rebuilding."
The conference will take place in the Dean Acheson Auditorium from 10:00 a.m. to 5:15 p.m. and will focus on early warning and preventive diplomacy, conflict resolution and peacekeeping, accountability and rebuilding conflict-torn societies.
Among the speakers will be Secretary Christopher, Ambassador Albright, Under Secretary Wirth, Brian Atwood and a number of other officials, experts and members of the NGO community. Copies of the conference agenda are available through the Press Office. This event -- this day of activities -- is open to the press and, if you would like further information or details, I encourage you to contact the DRL Public Affairs Adviser Yehudah Mirsky at 647-1403.
Q When is this again?
MS. SHELLY: Monday, April 3.
Q Filing break?
MS. SHELLY: Filing break, just because we're having a conference on Monday?
Q No --
MS. SHELLY: Filing break. Okay.
Let me just give you an update on one other issue which came up earlier this week and that is, as I've mentioned to you before, this week we have had taking place up in New York the delegation of U.S. officials making their presentations to the U.N. Human Rights Committee in New York on U.S. compliance with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
The second session of these two sessions, as I mentioned, is taking place this morning. The Covenant is an essential document of the International Law of Human Rights and was ratified by the U.S., as I said earlier this week, in 1992.
Under its provisions, every country which is a signatory must report periodically on its implementation of the Covenant's provisions. Our initial report, which is the subject of this week's hearing, was submitted to the Human Rights Committee last July.
In the U.S.'s initial appearance on Wednesday, the Committee generally praised our report for its thoroughness, accuracy and detail. As per U.N. procedures, the Committee offered a number of specific comments, questions and recommendations, to which our delegation is responding today.
Among the topics in which the Committee expressed interest were the relationship between international and domestic law in the U.S., the death penalty and race relations.
The U.S. ratified the Covenant in order to further demonstrate our commitment to these principles and to underscore our belief in their universality. This review of our implementation of the Covenant allows us to educate others about how we have guaranteed these rights for our citizens. It also allows us to demonstrate how a free and open discourse can contribute to the protection of fundamental rights and freedoms.
I'll be happy to take your questions.
Q I really meant to ask this question to Ambassador Holbrooke, but I hope you can comment on it. There are reports that the Baghdad forces are now attacking the Kurdish territory in Iraq. How would you evaluate that in relation to the ongoing incursion?
MS. SHELLY: We have also seen some press reports to that effect. We have been trying to find out if there was any other hard evidence to support that yet. I do not have that evidence yet, and so I'm not in a position to make a comment on that.
Q Can you take the question?
MS. SHELLY: I'll look and see. I'm not going to formally take it, no.
Q On Guatemala. Two years ago I believe the Secretary ordered declassification of lots of documents concerning abuses at the time of the civil war in El Salvador, and yesterday in discussing Guatemala the Secretary alluded to that. I just wonder whether there is any similar plan concerning Guatemala as it relates to abuses that may have been committed there?
MS. SHELLY: I'm not aware of anything specifically beyond that. We, of course, as a rule do seek to declassify as many documents as possible, and we constantly also have Freedom of Information requests which we are processing and also seek to put out as much information through that channel as we possibly can.
The Secretary also testified yesterday afternoon, as you know, and made several remarks regarding the whole situation involving Guatemala. I certainly would not outrule the possibility that there may be additional information which will come out, but at this particular moment I think the focus is on responding to the President's announcement and his decision to ask the Intelligence Oversight Board to conduct the government-wide review of any and all aspects surrounding the allegations in the developments related to Michael Devine and Efraim Bamaca Velasquez in Guatemala.
So, I think certainly our very strong focus at this point is on complying in full measure with all of the efforts of the Oversight Board, to come up with a full picture on this issue. And I think there may be other information that will come out. The Secretary himself, of course, indicated in his testimony that he felt it was extremely important that all of the facts of this come out, and that it was necessary once the records are reviewed and this investigation is underway, that at the end of this process, we need to provide the American people with as much information as possible. That certainly will be our overriding consideration.
Q When the talks with North Korea will resume?
MS. SHELLY: We don't have a date yet. My expectation is that that will be sometime in the not-too-distant future, but we don't have a date to announce yet.
MS. SHELLY: I'm sorry?
Q The same place?
MS. SHELLY: I have no reason to believe that it would be any place else except Berlin, because, as you know, this particular round of talks was not really formally concluded. They met for a couple of days and then decided to have consultations. So my guess is that that is where they would resume.
Q It was reported recently that Secretary Christopher attended a meeting with the two Ambassadors of Syria and Israel to sort of push forward the Syrian-Israeli track, and I was just wondering whether in this meeting the Secretary submitted any new American ideas to the talks or he just was helping them along as he used to do in the past?
MS. SHELLY: As the Secretary has said when he announced the resumption of the Israeli-Syrian talks in Washington -- which, of course, was during his most recent trip to the region -- he said that the talks would be held here under the auspices of the United States. And that we would be involved in all of those discussions.
He, of course, did confirm that he met with the Israeli and Syrian representatives on Monday, and then signaled that he would continue to meet with them periodically. But, as I think you're also aware, we have made it clear all along that we were not going to get into a detailed discussion of those talks, or to characterize them, or to really discuss exactly what role we were playing or the degree to which we were engaged in putting ideas on the table.
We still think that for us to maintain that posture is still the way that we can be the most effective in working this channel. So if I have information to share with you on this that we wish to put out, I'll certainly be happy to do so, but this is still where we are regarding the level of detail.
Q The two Ambassadors have indicated that there has been some progress. Are you able to at least describe what kind of progress has been made?
MS. SHELLY: We certainly are aware of what they've said publicly, but again we think it's most appropriate for them to characterize the nature of their talks and the degree to which progress has been made. I think that we feel that they are the appropriate sources to put that out.
Q What about Ambassador Dennis Ross' trip? The Israeli Ambassador said that he's going there to discuss widening the scope of the discussion; that the military experts will be coming back and will be joining the two Ambassadors in the next phase. How accurate is this?
MS. SHELLY: I think the Secretary himself also indicated again when he made this last trip, that he did expect to send Ambassador Ross out to the region soon. I still don't have a date for you on that. I think the expectations it would be within the next couple of weeks, and we'll certainly give you a date once one has been fixed.
Q Is it true that the military experts will be joining again?
MS. SHELLY: I don't have the details on that.
Q Do you have any information about what's going on along the Israeli-Lebanon border?
MS. SHELLY: I don't. I've seen some information or some reports on that this morning. We've just seen some of the reports about continued fighting in southern Lebanon, and we are, of course, continuing to monitor the situation closely. There had been one report about the death of one of the Hizbollah guerrilla leaders. I don't have anything specifically on that.
Just as a general comment on that, I can just say that such events underscore the need to prevent the enemies of peace from thwarting the peace process, and we urge all of those involved to exercise all possible restraint to avoid an escalation in the violence.
Q Relating to North Korea, do you have any further comment on the decision that Japan and the North Korean Government decided formally to resume normalization talks? I ask this because I remember you have commented last week, but there is some small concern on the part of Japan that the fact that they decide to resume normalization talks would in any way affect the ongoing U.S. and North Korean talks on the light-water reactors?
MS. SHELLY: You did ask me about that earlier in the week, and I took a stab at it based on what I presumed to be the case. I did ask our originators of guidance to see if there was anything else I thought we might like to say. I just checked to make sure I didn't have a piece of paper tucked in here somewhere that I'd missed, but I think that we're comfortable with where I was earlier in the week, and are not inclined to make a particular comment on that.
I would just note, however, though that again it is the -- I think given the role that Japan is expected to play in KEDO, which, of course, is a very major role, that some progress in the normalization of the North Korean and Japanese relationship, is something which we would consider to be a natural development.
Q Christine, do you have anything on the U.S. Government response to that group of evangelists from the United States who are charged with attempted murder of a policeman in India?
MS. SHELLY: Yes, I've got a little bit of information on that. I was trying to check on that right before the briefing.
We're told that nine American members of the Gospel of Unreached Millions were arrested this week in a remote tribal area of Orissa, India. The Americans are charged with unlawful assembly, being armed with a deadly weapon, rioting, and causing hurt to deter a public servant from his duty.
The Americans are being held in a prison in the town of Brahmapur. We understand the a court appearance is scheduled for early next week. Consular officials from Calcutta are traveling to this remote area to visit the detained Americans and to offer them consular assistance.
We do not have Privacy Act waivers, so at this point we're not in a position to provide names or really any other details related to their arrest.
Q Christine, apparently diplomats in the Polish Embassy have visited the Americans who are being held in Iraq. Do you have any update on their condition and the status of their appeal? Have they formally appealed?
MS. SHELLY: Some of you, I think, already have the readout that we had on the most recent visit yesterday. But since we didn't do a formal briefing, let me just take a minute to walk through that again.
There was a visit which took place on March 29, when the Polish authorities visited Mr. Barloon and Mr. Daliberti in the Abu Gharaib Prison in Baghdad, where they are now being held since being moved on March 28.
As you know, a CNN correspondent and three Iraqi officials were there during the visit. Mr. Daliberti and Mr. Barloon share a cell. They have been promised that a private shower will be installed soon. They do have adequate beds, access to a kitchenette, and they are permitted to walk outdoors during a few hours freely, but within the prison limits.
Mr. Daliberti talked of the chest pains that he had experienced last Saturday after being returned to his cell following the trial. After trying for several hours, Mr. Barloon was finally able to get the attention of a guard, so that Mr. Daliberti could be given an EKG and medication for his heart.
Although understandably upset by their circumstances, both do appear to be holding up fairly well. Both men have been given messages from their families and have been able to relay messages back. Another visit by the Poles has not yet been authorized. We're continuing to press for their immediate release.
As I mentioned, since this visit took place a couple of days ago, we are trying to get back in and have not received a response to that.
I also would like to draw your attention to a very short statement that we issued earlier this morning, which is also praising Poland for the very, very helpful role that they have played in providing the Consular services to Mr. Daliberti and Mr. Barloon. Particularly the very high regard in which we hold their performance of all of the functions associated with the protecting power relationship.
Q Do you know what the status of their appeal is? Have they formally appealed?
MS. SHELLY: To my knowledge a formal appeal has not yet been lodged, but I think there's still some additional time to elapse before the deadline would take place. I'll be happy to check and see if we can update on that. If not today, then maybe early next week.
Q The Algerian Ambassador yesterday apparently criticized the approach that the Americans are adapting on maintaining or opening the dialogue with the Islamic Fundamentalists -- between the Islamic Fundamentalists and the government, and you are saying that this approach strengthens the Fundamentalists? Do you have any comment on this?
MS. SHELLY: I don't have really a specific comment on that point. Certainly, the situation in Algeria continues to be of great concern to us. The Secretary has also recently at a photo opportunity expressed his particular views on the situation, and, of course, his concern with the continued cycle of violence.
There has been a report in the last 24 hours or so that the leader of one of the militant factions has called for a dialogue with the government and has denounced the abuses that are being committed by the Islamic group.
As a general position, we have long advocated political dialogue among all of the parties who are prepared to renounce violence as the best hope for restoring peace to Algeria. We believe it's the only effective means of marginalizing those who are dedicated to a violent solution to the crisis.
We have welcomed past openings of this type, such as that which arose from the Rome platform of Algerian opposition parties meeting under the auspices of the Sant' Egidio Society. We believe that that remains a significant document that could be used to facilitate the kind of political dialogue which we think is needed to end the crisis.
We, of course, continue to deplore the cycle of violence which is occurring in Algeria, and we condemn the violations of basic human rights which certainly have been committed by all sides.
Q On Wednesday, Under Secretary Wirth met with Clyde Wells, who's the Premier of the Canadian Province of Newfoundland, and they spoke about the situation between Canada and Spanish fishing trawlers off the -- in the international waters outside of Newfoundland. What is the U.S. position on that? Canada's view is that this is a situation in which it is entitled to act outside the letter of international law. Does the U.S. support that view, and what does it think about the possibility of Canada repeating those types of actions in the future?
MS. SHELLY: I don't have a lot of details I can share with you at this point. I can confirm that Under Secretary Wirth met on March 29 with Premier Wells of Newfoundland. He was in the U.S. on issues related to investment in Newfoundland and talks at the U.N. in New York on preserving fish stocks.
They exchanged views on the environment, on Newfoundland's economy and issues related to the dwindling fish stocks in the North Atlantic.
As to the issue of any possible discussion of the dispute, I don't have any particular details on that score to report. I certainly expect that the general issue did come up. But I think that both sides in this dispute are well aware of our longstanding position on this subject and the issues simply that are raised.
Many of the issues in this particular dispute are very complicated. I'm not sure that we feel that we have all of the facts involved in the Spain-Canada dispute, and we certainly have not been a party to the EU-Canada discussion on this. But we are confident that the parties can work out their differences through good-faith negotiations.
Q Would the phrase "a couple of months" -- I'm going back to Iraq now -- would the phrase "a couple of months" accurately describe the time period that the Administration has in mind during which they would expect Turkey to pull out from northern Iraq?
MS. SHELLY: The Administration does not have its own time frame in mind on this point. The Administration has articulated over and over again our view that Turkey should withdraw its troops as soon as possible.
Q On Turkey --
MS. SHELLY: Yes, but I'm not going to do a lot of Turkey. (Laughter) I think we kind of covered Turkey.
Q One matter --
MS. SHELLY: I'm signaling my inclination to begin to wind down the Turkey interest here. You're welcome to ask your question.
Q Here's a clarification -- first a clarification. This was the point that I raised with the Secretary a few moments ago, and the Foreign Minister --
MS. SHELLY: It was the Assistant Secretary, technically.
Q Excuse me. The fine gentleman, Mr. Holbrooke. The Danish Foreign Minister Petersen said in a photo op on Monday, very clearly in the presence of our Secretary of State, "Well, on Turkey it's the view of the Danish Government that the Turkish action is a violation of the foreign -- territorial integrity of a foreign state, and therefore we find that unacceptable." Then he goes on to state that Turkey should retreat. Was Mr. Holbrooke in error?
MS. SHELLY: I don't know. I think that he certainly is correct in terms of referring you to Danish authorities to articulate their positions. It's possible that he had not seen the transcript of the photo opportunity at which that comment was made, and I will certainly be happy to draw it to his attention.
Q Thank you, Christine, and to follow, are there any other NATO allies that are of a like mind with regard to this incursion?
MS. SHELLY: I think you'll have to ask the other 15 members -- or 14, as the case may be -- (laughter) -- individually or collectively.
Q In the Pacific for about a week the Coast Guard's been sitting on a group of 95 Chinese refugees. Has the United States decided what to do about them?
MS. SHELLY: I have been trying to extract some information on this case for a couple of days now. I think you know -- or at least my point of departure is the announcement put out by the Coast Guard on March 24, indicating that they had intercepted and boarded a 127-foot fishing vessel which was 600 miles south of San Diego, suspected of attempting to smuggle illegal migrants into North America.
There's a bit of additional information in that release, but for those of you who have not seen it, the master confirmed that there were 95 suspected illegal migrants -- 88 men and seven women -- in addition to 11 crew members on board.
We are awaiting the results of the Coast Guard and the INS investigation on board the Fang Ming before taking further action. In the meantime, we are beginning informal consultations with other governments concerning the repatriations of the migrants.
As to where they are from, I'm told that the Coast Guard investigation has not yet determined that all of those on board are from China. However, based on limited conversations with some migrants and past experience in other similar types of alien smuggling cases, we do have reason to believe that they are Chinese nationals.
The Coast Guard has also received conflicting information regarding the nationality of the master and the crew, and at this time their nationality remains unknown.
The United States Government has declared the vessel stateless. Stateless vessels and their masters are subject to the laws of the arresting country. As to the condition of the migrants on board the ship, the migrants and crew are in good health. The Fang Ming does have a good supply of both food and fresh water on board. The Coast Guard has also provided supplies to be used if the Fang Ming's own supplies are depleted.
As you know, when we have incidents of this type and the vessels are intercepted, it does tend to take some time to actually investigate the cases. It's also a complex process that's involved. So the investigation should take some time to complete.
As I'd mentioned, I guess currently it's 500 miles off the coast of the U.S., and it does take some time to get the interpreters and the investigators out there and to be able to get the facts on the scene.
How's that? (Laughter) Is that all right? Everybody else is probably upset that you asked that question.
Q Can you confirm that AT&T has been authorized to provide trial telephone service to North Korea?
MS. SHELLY: I cannot, but I'll be happy to check on that and see. That's news to me, but let me check.
Q President Mubarak will be arriving on Saturday, and Vice President Al Gore was in Egypt. I'm wondering whether there has been any new development on the NPT situation.
MS. SHELLY: I just have a little bit on that. I don't have any new news, I think, on that score to announce. We've seen some reports earlier today, some press reports, suggesting that there might be some openness on the part of the Egyptians to supporting the extension.
Of course, if this did prove to be true, we would welcome an Egyptian decision to support indefinite unconditional extension of the NPT. However, of course, it's most appropriate for Egypt itself to address its own position on the NPT extension.
As a general rule, we do not believe that the question of indefinite NPT extension without conditions can be or should be linked to actions of states outside the NPT. We've repeatedly said that the value of the NPT stands on its own merits.
We maintain our full support for universal adherence to the NPT and for the establishment of a Middle East that is free of all weapons of mass destruction. Because the NPT promotes global stability and peace, a treaty of unlimited duration will better attract the adherence of states still outside the regime than would a treaty with a limited future.
Q (Inaudible) from Egypt and from the U.S., but what did Vice President Gore hear directly from President Mubarak in Egypt just a few days ago?
MS. SHELLY: That's not appropriately addressed to me. That's a question appropriately addressed over at the White House.
Q On the question of NPT, how many more countries are now supporting the U.S. stand on indefinite extension?
MS. SHELLY: I don't have a head count at this point. I checked on that a couple of days ago and was told that the progress on this was good. But, as you know, it's not just a question of having enough votes to get the extension in the way that we would like. It's trying to have as large a majority as possible because of the political message that that sends to those who are not part of the regime of those who do not support the unconditional, unlimited extension.
But I'm told that the progress on this is going well, and I suspect before too long we'll have some additional information to actually put out on this.
I think next week we're also likely to have some activities here at the State Department in connection with that, so we'll probably have more to say at that time.
Q Christine, did DOD pass anything on to you about the visit of the intelligence chief of the Chinese army -- the PLA's visit this past week? Have you anything?
MS. SHELLY: Did you instruct the Pentagon to pass me something on that? (Laughter)
Q No. I haven't been over there recently, so I can't --
MS. SHELLY: I find that hard to believe. I read those transcripts from the Pentagon briefings and I can recognize your questions.
Q Oh! (Laughter)
Q Thank you, Christine.
MS. SHELLY: Pride of authorship.
Q This has been released since I've been out, and I just wonder if you had any news on how that went.
MS. SHELLY: You know what I'm going to do?
Q Send me over there.
MS. SHELLY: No. I'm going to call Dennis Boxx and tell him that somehow he missed the instruction to pass me something on this. The bottom line is: No. I don't have anything on this.
Q I'll get to the second question.
MS. SHELLY: Oh, no. A follow-up question.
Q No follow-up, no follow-up -- just another issue I never have understood. On the PanAm rewards for the two Libyan agents -- that is strictly alive, not dead; right? The reward is for producing those people for trial -- living. Really, is that right?
MS. SHELLY: I would like to go back and check the exact wording on that, but I think that it is for information which leads to the arrest of the individuals in question. I think that's how it's phrased. But that's, I mean --
Q Arrest and conviction.
MS. SHELLY: Yes.
Q Not a bounty, I take it.
MS. SHELLY: I don't know.
Q For a body.
MS. SHELLY: That's certainly not the intention of the program. It is certainly very much our hope that people who have been identified under this program can be brought to trial. That is clearly the the best way that justice can be served.
Q Thank you, Christine.
MS. SHELLY: Thanks.
(The briefing concluded at l:30 p.m.)
(###)To the top of this page