U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE OFFICE OF THE SPOKESMAN DAILY PRESS BRIEFING APRIL 3, 1995 U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE DAILY PRESS BRIEFING I N D E X Monday, April 3, 1995 Briefer: Christine Shelly EGYPT President Hosni Mubarak Mtg. w/Secretary Christopher ..1-3 --Middle East Peace Process ...........................2 --Progress of Joint Economic Commission ...............2 --Extension of Non-Proliferation Treaty ...............2,3 ISRAEL Prospects of Becoming NPT Signatory/Possibility of Egypt/Israeli Framework for Discussion of Issue .....3 GREAT BRITAIN U.S. Visit of Prime Minister Major --Meeting w/Secretary Christopher .....................4 --Possibility of Discussion of Nick Ingram ............4 Northern Iraq .....................................4 --Discussion of Bosnia, Russia, NATO Expansion, Counter-Proliferation, Northern Ireland ...........4 --Meetings w/Other U.S. Gov't. Officials ..............4 FORMER YUGOSLAVIA Ceasefire Violations ..................................5 Departure of U.S. Ambassador Jackovich ................19-20 Report of Weapons Shipments through Albania ...........21 DEPARTMENT Secretary Christopher's Luncheon w/North Dakota Congressional Delegation ............................6,7 RUSSIA Secretary Perry's Trip to Region ......................7 Russia/Iran Nuclear Plant Contracts ...................8 --Possibility of U.S. Incentives/Disincentives ........8,9 --Secretary Christopher/FM Kozyrev Talks in Geneva ....8,10 --U.S. Information re: Iranian Nuclear Intentions .....10 --Establishment of Working Group ......................10 --Possible Russian Participation in Agreed Framework w/North Korea .....................................13 MIDDLE EAST PEACE PROCESS Report of Breakthrough in Israel-Syrian Talks .........11 NORTH KOREA Framework Agreement--Recess in Berlin Talks ...........12-13 Status of Future North Korean Liaison Office --DPRK Team Visit to Washington .......................14 Reported South Korean/KEDO Mtg. in New York ...........15 BURUNDI Update on Violence ....................................16 --UN Security Council Discussions/Consideration of Options/Secretary General Proposal ................16-17 --U.S. Attempts to Encourage Stabilization ............17 --Report of Massacre ..................................17 IRAQ Detention of American Citizens ........................16-18 TURKEY Incursion into Iraq ...................................18-19 VIETNAM Report of Former President Bush Trip to Region ........19
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
DAILY PRESS BRIEFING
MONDAY, APRIL 3, 1995, 1:19 P. M.
(ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED)
MS. SHELLY: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. I apologize for the delay in getting the briefing started. But actually according to that clock, it's only 12:15, so I think I'm actually slightly ahead of schedule.
MS. SHELLY: You want me to do that, Barry? I'm willing. I hate to start a precedent now. It would be a new model to which we would have to aspire.
I open the floor to your questions.
Q Mubarak is here. What is the U.S. prescription for his problems with fundamentalists?
MS. SHELLY: First of all, I don't think I would like to try to get too much into the subjects that he'll be discussing here. I'm sure as the visit unfolds, we'll be able to give you more information.
We, of course, have seen the New York Times article on discontent and some of the economic problems in Egypt. I think I can formulate, perhaps somewhat, a general response to your question. Then, as President Mubarbak's visit unfolds, we'll certainly try to share as many details about the specific discussions as we can.
Certainly, the key to solving many of Egypt's problems remains reviving the country's economy. The Egyptian Government is certainly very well aware of this, and they have been trying to do this through the introduction of a number of economic reforms, particularly since 1991.
In support of these efforts, the U.S. and Egypt recently inaugurated a partnership for economic growth and development which is designed to foster job creation and job-creating growth by enhancing the role of the private sector in Egypt's economy.
The Secretary, as you know, met with President Mubarak earlier today. They talked about the peace process. They had a good discussion.
Q The Secretary?
MS. SHELLY: Didn't I say the Secretary? The Secretary met with President Mubarak earlier today. They discussed the peace process and certainly a number of economic issues and the progress of the Joint Economic Commission. I can't give you a lot of other details on that, though. As I'm sure you're aware, this was principally with a view to preparing for the meeting which President Clinton and President Mubarak will have later this week. Certainly, you'll be hearing more about that from the White House.
Q Would what you said at the beginning be your answer to the question, "What case can the Administration make before a budget-cutting Congress for sustaining Egypt's aid at $2.2 billion a year, they having received $30 billion since agreeing to go to sign a peace treaty with Israel?" Is that why aid should be kept to that level?
MS. SHELLY: Barry, certainly, the Administration will continue to very strongly press the case for aid for Egypt with the Congress. We believe that our assistance plays a very valuable role in terms of trying to achieve some of those goals that I've just referred to. Specifically, they're the economic reform goals that the Egyptians themselves have indicated they would like to take.
Q You didn't the mention the question of the Non-Proliferation Treaty?
MS. SHELLY: Yes, it was discussed.
Q Although it's been said before, could you state the Clinton Administration's position on Israel signing the NPT?
MS. SHELLY: We support the broadest possible number of signatories to the NPT. We support the unlimited and indefinite, unconditional extension of the NPT.
Q Just a follow-up. The Secretary said in Cairo that Israel didn't have to do it until there was comprehensive peace in the Middle East. I don't guess there's been a change in that position, has there?
MS. SHELLY: I'm not going to change anything that the Secretary has done on this issue. We recognize that there are factors which affect the Israeli decision in terms of their decision to sign. We certainly look forward to the day when Israel is free from threats from all weapons of mass destruction and hope that day will come and that Israel will feel that it can then move ahead with becoming an NPT signatory.
Q Christine, what has Mubarak told the United States that Egypt will do vis-a-vis the NPT Review Conference? Is Egypt going to support indefinite extension?
MS. SHELLY: I did a variant of this question on Friday, and I don't have anything new to add to that. Because of the form in which the Secretary's meeting with President Mubarak took place today -- which is basically as a preparatory meeting for Wednesday's meeting -- I don't think the Secretary believes that it's a useful exercise to get into the specific substance of what was discussed except to talk about the topics.
Q It's useful for us to see how far we can get an answer. After the Secretary saw Mubarak, Israel's Foreign Minister and Deputy Foreign Minister made trips to Cairo -- apparently, the idea is to set up some framework for discussing eventual entry into the NPT by Israel. Is there, from the U.S. view, an agreement now between Israel and Egypt on such a framework to discuss the issue?
MS. SHELLY: Barry, I don't have anything for you on that. I certainly am not going to take issue with anything that the Israelis or the Egyptians might have said on this or indicated on this publicly. I simply don't have anything that I'm in a position to confirm that with.
Q So you wouldn't be able to say whether the United States is trying to broker some arrangement because they seem predisposed but they might not have the arrangement. Is this something the U.S. is trying to bridge?
MS. SHELLY: No, I'm not in a position to get into details on that.
Q In principle, then, would the U.S. support talks between Israel and Egypt on this disagreement they're having?
MS. SHELLY: We've always supported direct talks between Egypt and Israel on this issue. We acknowledge that there was a difference of opinion. We also indicated that we felt that direct talks between the two of them was the best way in which they could try to solve their differences. I think that's certainly where we still are.
Q Is that an opinion the Secretary has passed onto to Mubarak in their various meetings over the last few months?
MS. SHELLY: In terms of the last few months, I'd have to go back and check the record on that one. As I said, I decline to get into the specific of today's meetings.
Q Another subject?
MS. SHELLY: Sure.
Q Prime Minister John Major meeting today with officials.-- has the subject of Nick Ingram and his imminent execution in Georgia been discussed at all? And, if so, what can you tell us about that?
MS. SHELLY: I don't have any specific information on that point. I'll be happy to check and see if there is anything that I can either find out or that we would want to say on that.
The Secretary did have breakfast, as you know, with Prime Minister Major. Their discussion, generally, focused on such issues as Bosnia, Russia, NATO expansion, and countering proliferation.
Prime Minister Major is also meeting with the President, the Vice President, the Deputy Defense Secretary, JCS Chairman, and a number of economic policymakers, including Secretaries Brown and Rubin, Federal Reserve Chairman Greenspan, and Trade Representative Kantor.
He's also having a number of meetings up on the Hill with Congressional leaders: Senator Majority Leader Dole, Senate Minority Leader Daschle, Senator Helms, Speaker Gingrich, and Representative Gilman.
Q You mean to say that the Irish question did not come up in their talks this morning?
MS. SHELLY: I'm told that they had a amicable discussion of the Northern Ireland peace process. I was trying to list the topics. It was not anything intentional.
Q To follow up, if I could, Christine, on Prime Minister Major's visit. He was asked at the Pentagon -- just about two hours ago -- about Bosnia, about the Bosnian offensive and the effects that would have. He said that what was going on was a relatively minor matter and that there would continue to be an effort to re-establish the cease-fire. Those were his remarks.
On Friday, Mr. Karadzic promised a counter-offensive, threatening to take Sarajevo if the Bosnian Government troops pushed on. Mr. Silajdzic -- Bosnian Prime Minister Silajdzic said the U.N. is keeping a peace which doesn't exist. Could you tell --
MS. SHELLY: What's the question?
Q The question is coming. With that in mind, can you tell us, where our State Department now stands on this matter of the Bosnian offensive that is threatening the stability again in the area?
And with regard to Mr. Major's point, is it a minor incident that's going on now around Tuzla and the other places where the Bosnians are on the offensive?
MS. SHELLY: I think the short answer to your second question is, it's up to the British authorities to interpret or characterize in some way Mr. Major's comments.
On the first point, any breakdowns in the cease-fire are obviously a point of concern to us. It's something we watch extremely closely, and we hope that all of the parties will do their absolute utmost to try to observe the cessation of hostilities which was agreed before. It's also -- with the past history of incidents of violence and the cycle of violence, with retaliation and then counter-retaliation.-- it also threatens to renew the level of conflict that the region has experienced before.
Certainly, in terms of the current moment, it's not our understanding that it is a major escalation, but certainly a lot of worrisome signs that the cease-fire and its adherence to it remains tenuous.
Q You don't take seriously this threat of retaliation on the part of the Serbs to take Sarajevo?
MS. SHELLY: We hear lots of comments coming out of Bosnia and coming out of Sarajevo, and from the Bosnian Serbs. We listen to them and we do not overreact to any particular comment.
Q You might not want to overact to an event, but could you tell us about the Secretary's meeting with a North Dakota Congressional sequel today. Is he intending to go home to North Dakota at some point? When was he last in the state? What was the purpose? People don't go home again when they come from cold climates, I don't suspect.
MS. SHELLY: Barry, I really appreciate --
Q What is it all about?
MS. SHELLY: I appreciate --
Q You barred the press from it. It must be a big meeting. I wonder if you could fill us in on it a little bit.
MS. SHELLY: I really appreciate your giving me the opportunity to discuss this, because I can in fact --
Q There are a lot of people out there that want to know.
MS. SHELLY: I can in fact confirm that Secretary of State Warren Christopher is hosting a luncheon today for the --
Q We know he is.
MS. SHELLY: As we speak it is underway. It's for the North Dakota congressional delegation. They are here. Attending are Senator Kent Conrad, Senator Byron Dorgan, Representative Earl Pomeroy, and also in attendance is Admiral William Owens who is Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
As you know, the Secretary was born in North Dakota --
Q Norfolk --
MS. SHELLY: No, I think it's --
MS. SHELLY: Scranton. You've been outdone by your AP colleague. (Laughter)
Q I was thinking of a smaller --
MS. SHELLY: It was Scranton, and he lived there until he was 13. Now, who knows where Admiral Owens was born in North Dakota?
Q Grand Forks.
MS. SHELLY: Bingo! Who said it? Bismarck. All right, yes.
Q Who's been in North Dakota more recently, Admiral Owens or the Secretary of State?
MS. SHELLY: That's a good question. I'm going to do that as a taken question, Barry, because I think that's pretty important to know.
Q Because this is tax time. We just wonder how often he goes back.
MS. SHELLY: Admiral Owens, interestingly, lived there until he entered the U.S. Naval Academy in 1958, although I trust since there's not a Pentagon briefing, that no one at the Pentagon will be upset that I put that information out today.
Anyway, they're going to discuss recent developments --
Q If he can get an appointment for North Dakota --
MS. SHELLY: -- in foreign and defense policies and, if there's anything more that we can say about this luncheon after it finished, I'll certainly be happy to do so.
Q Since we're going to be doing a story on it, it would be interesting when the Secretary of State, who's a resident, I think, of sunny California, was last in North Dakota, for any purpose.
MS. SHELLY: I will endeavor to find that out.
Q Can we take up (inaudible) again.
Q Wait a minute (inaudible) -- (laughter).
Q Are there any members of the North Dakota World Affairs Council at this luncheon?
MS. SHELLY: Not specifically that I have information on.
Q Can you tell me whether you're disappointed at the way Secretary Perry's talks have been going in Moscow, specifically at Russian intransigence over the reactor sales -- nuclear reactor sales to Iran? And also Defense Minister Grachev's renewed threat today not to comply with arms control treaties if NATO expansion goes ahead. Can you give me a comment on those two?
MS. SHELLY: I haven't seen the last set of remarks, and we're always very cautious about commenting on them until we've had a chance to see the exact text.
The issues that Secretary Perry is raising and discussing are obviously very important to us, and we will certainly wait with great interest to hear for a readout from him on those talks. But I think as a matter of policy, it's completely inappropriate for me to ascribe a value judgment to those talks while they are underway.
Q Same subject but different approach. Can you shed some light on what Secretary Christopher told Kozyrev in Geneva on Iran's nuclear ambitions?
MS. SHELLY: What I can tell you, I think, is not dissimilar from what the Secretary has already told you, which is that when he did meet with Foreign Minister Kozyrev in Geneva, he did pass to him some information that we had regarding Iranian nuclear intentions.
This is obviously particularly relevant in terms of all of the discussions that we have been having with the Russians about the viability of their contracts that they have signed with Iran regarding the construction of foreign nuclear plants.
This is an issue which we consider to be of utmost importance to us, and it is our hope that after the Russians have an opportunity to fully evaluate this information, that they might take a different position.
Q I understand, as you do, Russia's economic problems. Did the Secretary -- I'm not going to ask you about Perry, because he's on his own trip -- did the Secretary offer any sort of -- and don't hold me literally to the word "compensation," but any sort of offset to the Russians if they pull out of this deal?
MS. SHELLY: This is, of course, a version of events which was reported in a newspaper article this morning, and I certainly would like to comment very specifically on that, because basically the story on this is not right.
Q I didn't read the story --
MS. SHELLY: We have been discussing the reactor sale issue with Russia in considerable detail, and obviously we'll continue to do so. We believe that Iran is embarked upon a nuclear weapons program and such weapons in the possession of Iran would be a much greater direct threat to Russia than to the U.S.
I think there are aspects of this. There are a couple of issues on this. One is that there is a report that somehow the Russians, if they didn't go through with the Iranian transaction, that they might get something special with respect to the North Korean light-water reactor project.
On that, that particular report is just not correct. As you know, the decisions regarding the light-water reactor project are going to be made by the Korean Peninsula Energy Development Organization or KEDO. They will be responsible for concluding sub-contracts with North Korea and with private firms concerning this project.
As you know, we expect that South Korea will be the contractor, but that there would be portions of this contract, once implemented, that could be sub-contracted out to other countries.
At this point it would certainly be very premature to speculate as to what contracts might go to which firms and from what countries.
We have made clear to Russia that we would welcome their participation in implementing the Agreed Framework, but again as to specifically what form that participation would take, it's certainly way too early to get into that.
There are reports of other types of incentives or programs, and it's certainly not my understanding that there is any substance to that. There are some programs that do exist with Russia, such as the nuclear cleanup program, and I'm told that the value of that program is potentially in the range of about $100 million. This is not anything that's being offered as an incentive; it's a program that exists right now.
MS. SHELLY: Exactly. Although there have been some comments emanating from the Hill, as you know, that if Russia went forward with this, that they might take a look at some of the other programs that exist for Russia now. Of course, it is not our view to make any linkage between this particular deal and other types of programs we have for Russia. That's certainly the Administration's view. But, on the other hand, I'm not here to speak for what congressional action might be taken farther down the road if the Russia/Iran deal goes through.
Q Christine, one of the other things that the Russians and the U.S. did in Geneva was to set up this working group that is supposed to sort of be the panacea for solving this issue. Whatever happened to it?
MS. SHELLY: It hasn't yet been activated. I expect that we're going to have some news on this fairly shortly, but I don't have anything to announce yet.
Q Different topic?
MS. SHELLY: Charlie.
Q Christine, you and the Secretary before you have been very careful to use the word "information" that the Secretary gave to Mr. Kozyrev, and I'd just like to know if you might be able to confirm that the information was in fact intelligence information or U.S. intelligence and -- not asking you to go into it, because I know you don't comment on that -- but was it intelligence information, and if so, how often has that been shared with the Russians before?
MS. SHELLY: I kind of had a suspicion that I was going to get asked that. However, I'm afraid I'm not going to be able to give you the specific answer that you want. I, of course, have seen exactly what words Secretary Perry has used to characterize this.
I simply don't think it's a very productive exercise for me to get into the nature of the information that we passed, one way or the other. I simply don't view that as an appropriate role for me.
The Secretary himself said that we passed information that we had regarding Iranian nuclear intentions. That may have come from a number of different sources. I'm simply not in a position to confirm whether it's intelligence one way or the other.
Q Is it just intentions, or was it information about the state of their nuclear program?
MS. SHELLY: I think it's very hard to completely disconnect those two things, because where their program stands right now is also a reflection of a variety of things that they have done to get it to that point. And also, as you know, with respect to training that they're seeking or visits by scientists, and things like that, there are a lot of other things out there that they might be able to justify -- or they think they can justify on the basis of existing programs, that on the other hand we know that over the longer term could also represent the ability to gain different and added capabilities beyond that which they have now, which then, of course, could have a direct application for weapons production.
Q Christine, could I just try to get something clear in my mind? The Secretary gave Kozyrev some information in Geneva. Has there been other information given from Russia since then related to the same subject?
MS. SHELLY: We have had so many discussions with them, at which we have discussed this issue, that I certainly would expect that information that we have had or certainly information reflecting our views on this issue has been shared with the Russians. Whether it has been shared in the same way that this information was in Geneva, I'm honestly not in a position to know. I wouldn't rule it out.
Q You said we would welcome their participation and that KEDO would make the decisions. Does that mean that it's possible that Russian equipment could be used in the construction of the two light-water reactors in North Korea?
MS. SHELLY: Only insofar as -- it's a hypothetical possibility only insofar as it might represent a sub-contracting arrangement, as decided on by KEDO.
Q The reason I'm asking is because my understanding was that up to now the line had been it will definitely be South Korean reactors, and that there was no --
MS. SHELLY: South Korean models, that's right, with South Korea expected to be the principal contractor. That's right. But no one -- we never -- as this project has unfolded, I don't think anybody ever outruled the possibility that there might be some sub-contracting arrangements that would beyond South Korea.
Sid, you've been trying to get your non-Iran question in.
Q On the topic of erroneous newspaper reports, any comment on the reported breakthrough in the Israel/Syrian talks?
MS. SHELLY: I don't have anything on that.
Q Could you go back to what you just said that everybody knew but I don't think anybody from that podium has gone that far to suggest others than South Korea could have a major role in providing the reactors.
MS. SHELLY: I'm not suggesting a major role.
Q I mean, Japanese cars are made in this country. You know, they carry a Japanese brand name, but they're made in Tennessee, and they're called the Saturn.
MS. SHELLY: Barry, it's not my intention from this podium today to sort of somehow shift or signal or send some kind of nuance on this. As I said, we have every expectation that the South Korea reactor model will be used, and South Korea will be the principal contractor for this.
Q You're faced with a deadline. The talks didn't do well in Berlin, was it, and you have less than two weeks, I believe, and is the United States Government now saying that if another country adopts the South Korea model, that would satisfy -- by the way, it isn't even in the agreement -- that that would satisfy the agreement with North Korea?
MS. SHELLY: Barry, I'm perfectly happy to answer that question, but out of fairness, Sid was trying to -- you are switching subjects.
Q (Inaudible) in Korea. I think we all are.
MS. SHELLY: Sid, are you interested in Korea?
MS. SHELLY: Can I answer Barry's question? I hate to violate the point of procedure.
Q It seems to be the shipping crate could be different. Now the material can be different.
MS. SHELLY: Again, Barry, I'm just talking about the hypothetical possibility of sub-contracting arrangements. Okay. I haven't shifted that at all. If you want to sort of shift gears and go over to where are we in terms of Berlin talks and all that, I'll be happy to give you the update I had on that.
Q Has Russia shown any interest in entering into some sub- contracting arrangements?
MS. SHELLY: Yes, I think Russia has signaled that it would be interested in a share of that business if that were a possibility, but I think other countries are also interested in that as a possibility as well.
I don't have much new for you, Barry, on the whole LWR supply contract. As you know, the talks were held in Berlin the 25th through the 27th. Both sides agreed to the recess. The U.S. is consulting further with our South Korean and Japanese Governments. We do expect to resume this session of the talks shortly. Still don't have a date.
Q Move from a break. There was a break, now it's a recess, right? They came back --
MS. SHELLY: I never called it a "break."
Q You called it a pause.
MS. SHELLY: I called it a pause. Thank you, Judd Ginsberg.
Q A pause. A recess is a little longer than a pause. You haven't reached the impasse stage yet, but --
MS. SHELLY: No, I would not characterize it as having reached the impasse stage.
Q But this was what? This was about five days ago, they quite two days earlier. Maybe it's a week ago.
MS. SHELLY: 27th of March. Let's see. That's about six days ago.
Q No, they worked that weekend --
MS. SHELLY: Seven days. Thank you. I'm having trouble with my math.
Q The deadline doesn't bear down on you at all? You're not feeling the heat of the deadline?
MS. SHELLY: I guess that you're asking me this in a provocative way, so that I can reiterate that April 21st is not a deadline.
Q I just want you to (inaudible) on how many problems -- on the extent of your problems with North Korea which you folks have been dancing around as if it's a pause in, you know, happy discussions.
MS. SHELLY: Okay, what's the --
Q You evidently have problems, and at some point I expect you'll admit it.
MS. SHELLY: Barry, there were some issues that we wanted to discuss. How's that for coming clean?
Q That's half way. (Laughter)
MS. SHELLY: Half way. How about --
Q And the Russians can take up part of the business, and it's a recess now instead of a pause.
MS. SHELLY: How about if --
Q When is the next meeting going to be held?
MS. SHELLY: How about if from April 5 through 7, a small DPRK team will visit Washington to look at properties for the future North Korean Liaison Office. Is that news?
Q That's useful, yes. That suggests --
Q That suggests there's give on our end. How about their end?
MS. SHELLY: I'm not going to do that one in terms of give on whose end. We always try to have an update on the basic elements in the agreement available if we're asked on that, and if the freeze is in place, yes. Does it continue to be monitored by the IAEA inspectors, yes. And, as I'd mentioned, we have the small team visiting Washington this week to look at properties for the future Liaison Office.
Q Properties in Washington.
MS. SHELLY: Properties in Washington. We've also had a counterpart visit to that which already took place where we went out and also did the same thing.
Q Do American companies also compete for this KEDO business now as well?
MS. SHELLY: I'm not aware that KEDO has taken a position. This is still fairly far down the road. I don't think KEDO has specifically ruled in or ruled out any other possibilities. It still remains, I think, at this point somewhat theoretical.
Q The South Koreans are saying there's a KEDO meeting at a high level on Friday in New York. Do you have any information on that?
MS. SHELLY: I don't, but I'll be happy to check. It's possible that somebody just failed to stick that in my book, but I'll be happy to check.
Let me try to get somebody who's not asked so far.
Q During this pause or recess period, any chance to get Gallucci or Seymour in here for a briefing?
MS. SHELLY: I'll be happy to pass on the request, but, quite frankly, I wouldn't hold out the big prospect of that. I think at this point we're focusing on our own consultations with the governments involved, and it's probably not terribly likely we want to up the level of public discussion of this, even though I know there's a lot of interest.
Q Can you tell us who are coming to Washington from North Korea?
MS. SHELLY: For the team that will come here?
MS. SHELLY: I'll check and see if I can get that information. I don't have it with me.
I'm just trying to be equitable. You haven't had a question yet.
Q This morning at the breakfast that the Secretary and John Major -- did they discuss the Turkish operation in northern Iraq?
MS. SHELLY: I do not know. I don't have specific information on that.
Q Can you take the question?
MS. SHELLY: I'll be happy to see if that can be added to our list of subjects.
Q I want to ask two totally unrelated questions, so I don't have to fight my way --
Q Why are you hogging the briefing. (Laughter)
Q The Secretary --
MS. SHELLY: Do you want to give me general areas of the world so I can have the right part of my book open?
Q All right, Burundi and Iraq. The Secretary said this morning --
MS. SHELLY: Burundi and Iraq. They're at opposite ends of my book. (Laughter)
Q You can have no comment on both just as easily. (Laughter)
MS. SHELLY: That's what I like --
Q You don't have to turn a page.
MS. SHELLY: -- when one AP helps out with the answer of the question from another.
Q "We have nothing for you."
Q The Secretary said the United States was looking for ways to help Burundi during the current trauma, and do you have anything on the appeal situation of the two Americans in Iraq?
MS. SHELLY: On Burundi, we have been tracking the situation very closely. I think the most recent information is that Bujumbura is reported to be mainly calm over the last couple of days, although there was some isolated incidents of grenade blasts north of the city. I'm told the central market was open for business as usual today.
As to activities of the United States and also in context of the actions by the international community, we, of course, continue to be involved in all of the international efforts to try to get a stable democratic government in Burundi with full respect for human rights of all Burundians.
There have been discussions in the Security Council about the growing violence in Burundi. The Secretary General has proposed that a small international force might go to Bujumbura if the violence worsens. I'm told the Security Council is considering several options.
We're also considering the Secretary General's proposal and other options to respond to the crisis, although to my knowledge no decisions have been reached yet. There had been a couple of days ago a Security Council Presidential statement that we had co-sponsored with the French. The text of that, I think, is also available in the Press Office.
We do continue to support the efforts of U.N. Special Representative Ahmedou Abdallah who has been instrumental in helping Burundi work through its political crisis. We've sent frequent high-level missions to Burundi to try to show support for their fragile democracy and to reassure moderate elements that the world is watching.
We've also issued regular public statements and appeals. In mid-February, President Clinton issued a radio message in Burundi which urged the Burundi people to reject the efforts of extremists to reverse progress toward peace and democracy.
We've also helped fund the activities of the U.N. Human Rights Center in Burundi -- that's been a $300,000 contribution -- and the Organization for African Unity's Monitoring Force there. That's another $250,000. We're also providing a number of different types of economic support funds.
Certainly, we want to keep as much support as we can for Burundi through all of the different humanitarian channels, but will also continue to work, as we can, bilaterally and also through the International Community to try to get a more stable situation there domestically.
On your second question --
Q Before I came out, I noticed there was a report about a massacre there. So could you take a look at that, will you?
MS. SHELLY: I will. I also saw that on the wires right before coming out. I hadn't had a chance to get anything, but I'll be happy to check on that.
Regarding Iraq's continued detention of the two American citizens: The Polish authorities, who are our protecting power, as you know, they've requested another visit to meet with the detained American citizens. It has not yet been granted. We hope one will take place shortly.
As you know, the issue of the appeal has also come up. They still are expected to file their appeal within the one-month date they have to initiate this following the court verdict.
I'm not aware of any other specific news coming with respect to the two detainees.
Q Are you using an Iraqi lawyer for that appeal?
MS. SHELLY: I do not know. What I know about the Iraqi legal system, I think they have to have an Iraqi lawyer.
Q How do you know they're still planning to appeal it? Nobody has seen them since Thursday, or whenever it was.
MS. SHELLY: Because that was only a couple of days ago. I think it's expected that they will appeal their sentences, but we're still also hoping that the Iraqis will use their so-called humanitarian release provision and that they will be released.
Q But with 100 percent certainty, can you even say they're alive?
MS. SHELLY: Sid, we have a protecting power arrangement. The Poles go in there. There's absolutely no information to suggest that anything is different from what their situation had been a couple of days ago when we reported that they were in good health.
Q Christine, could I go back to the Turkey thing? I hope only briefly. I hope I'll only take you back there briefly.
Q Can we stay on this for a second?
Q Oh, sure. I'm sorry.
Q Christine, are you aware of any other efforts besides working with the Poles to try and gain their release?
MS. SHELLY: I don't have anything new on that for you. There are, of course, a number of different governments that we have either approached regarding asking them to help or other ones who signaled their willingness to try to help. So there certainly are other efforts out there. We hope that one or more of these will result in the release of the two Americans.
Q Do you know any better now than you knew Friday when the Turkish forces will be withdrawn from northern Iraq?
MS. SHELLY: I do not. I have anything new on that score.
Q Would you still say there's no dispute, no disagreement, between the U.S. and, let's say, Germany, France, and other allies over this intervention?
MS. SHELLY: Well, Barry --
Q Since they assured you they'd be out soon -- and I think you said it will be weeks, not months -- is that satisfactory for everybody involved?
MS. SHELLY: We have not put a timeframe on what is an acceptable length of stay. Our position has been and continues to be that we would like the Turkish troops to withdraw as soon as possible. That is still very definitely our position on that.
The Europeans -- I think it's up to them to articulate their own views on that. I would not, in the broader sense, characterize that as a rift. We certainly want the Turks to keep to the assurances that they gave us, which is that the operation will be limited in scope and duration. I think that certainly is not inconsistent with the views that the Europeans have expressed.
Q Christine, former President Bush apparently is going to Vietnam. I was wondering your reaction to that, and whether or not this opens the door for the Secretary to go?
MS. SHELLY: I'm not aware of former President Bush's travel plans, but let me check and see what we can say on that visit. I think certainly the possibility of the Secretary making a visit there at some point is one that's out there. To my knowledge, he does not have any current plans to visit Asia in the next few weeks or so. I don't think it's really academic -- I think it is sort of academic at this point. Always a possibility but nothing to announce.
Q Back to Bosnia for a moment, Christine. There's a report on the wires -- the latest wires -- that Ambassador Jakovich, the Ambassador to Bosnia, is resigning from his post. There are some who say -- one, I believe, an employee of the Embassy there in Sarajevo -- says that he's leaving because of his strong support for the Bosnian Muslim government which apparently is coming in conflict with the White House.
Can you make an statement whatsoever about his departure or who will follow up?
MS. SHELLY: This is not particularly a new story. We've been through this once before, I think a couple of months back. Ambassador Jackovich is ending his tour as Chief of Mission when he leaves Sarajevo on April 19. No successor has been announced by the White House yet. His stay there has been certainly a very distinguished one. He said when he was back some weeks back -- I can't remember the timeframe for that. He indicated when he was last in Washington that he had engaged in discussions about onward assignment plans. That is, of course, a natural thing for him to do, and it was at that point in time.
As a general policy regarding tours of duty, Sarajevo -- sometime back -- was put into the same category as Beirut, which is basically to have shorter tours than the normal very frequently unaccompanied, and the kind of pressures and constraints that the staff is under normally does not permit all of the people there to have full tours of duty.
His departure is not the result of a policy dispute. It is a normal rotation, and his next assignment will be announced in due course.
Q Do you remember --
MS. SHELLY: I think he was there for about two years.
Q Is he going to Slovenia?
MS. SHELLY: I have nothing to announce on that.
Q He it also normal rotation that about three or four other Embassy personnel are leaving with him?
MS. SHELLY: Most of the Embassy there is operating on a short tour, if not all of the Embassy, actually, on a short-tour basis.
For those who are out there without their families, it's not at all unusual for there to be one-year rotations in the assignments. In some cases, they have stayed longer. I don't think there is an absolute limit on exactly how long any individual people would stay.
The notion that there is somehow a complete sweep in the staff taking place at this time, that's just not correct. I certainly am acknowledging that there are shorter than normal duties out there which I think are perfectly logical under the circumstances that they have to work.
Q I think there's a report over the weekend about weapons getting in through Albania -- massive weapon shipments. Anything on that?
MS. SHELLY: I don't have anything on that.
Q You have nothing about Albania violating the embargo?
MS. SHELLY: No. I don't have anything on that.
Q Is that because you don't know or you just didn't ask?
MS. SHELLY: I didn't see the report. I'll be happy to check on it.
Q Thank you.
(Press briefing concluded at 1:57 p.m.)To the top of this page