U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE OFFICE OF THE SPOKESMAN DAILY PRESS BRIEFING APRIL 11, 1995 U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE DAILY PRESS BRIEFING I N D E X Tuesday, April 11, 1995 Briefer: Nicholas Burns DEPARTMENT/STATEMENTS Remarks by Nicholas Burns, State Department Spokesman ..1 UN Appointment of Carol Bellamy, Ex. Dir., UNICEF ......2 MIDDLE EAST PEACE PROCESS Occupied Territories/Gaza Strip --Terrorism--Palestinian Authority Efforts to Address Security Concerns .......................2-3 --U.S. Discussions with Chairman Arafat ..............3 --Investigation of most recent Gaza Bombings .........2-3,5-6 --Human/Civil Rights Issues ............................3,5 --Israeli Settlements ..................................4 Ambassador Ross' Trip to Region ........................6 TURKEY D/S Talbott and A/S Holbrooke Mtgs. in Ankara ..........6 Kurds in Turkey ........................................7 IRAQ Kurds in Northern Iraq .................................7 IAEA Report on Biological Weapons ......................8-10 Operation Provide Comfort ..............................7,10-11 Polish Authority Visit w/Detained Americans ............11-12 HOLLAND Report of Establishment of PKK Parliament in Exile .....11 RUSSIA Chechnya--Situation Update .............................12-15 Approval of Mandate for OSCE Assistance Group ..........13 Report of Involvement in Tajikistan Border Fighting ....15 Possibility of Christopher/Kozyrev Ministerial Mtgs ....16 BULGARIA Report of Weapons Shipment to Ecuador ..................16 PAKISTAN Sale of U.S. F-16s .....................................16-17 Prime Minister Bhutto Mtgs. w/U.S. Officials ...........16-18 Investigation of Karachi Bombing .......................19 NORTH KOREA Framework Agreement Talks in Berlin ....................17 CHINA U/S Tarnoff Mtg. w/Vice Foreign Minister ...............18
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
DAILY PRESS BRIEFING
TUESDAY, APRIL 11, 1995, 1:08 P.M.
(ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED)
MR. BURNS: Good afternoon. Nice to see you all here today. Welcome to the State Department briefing.
I thought I'd start, before we get to one brief official announcement and your questions, with a few personal comments from me.
First, I would like to thank Secretary of State Warren Christopher for having appointed me as State Department Spokesman to replace my good friend Mike McCurry.
It is, Mike tells me from his previous experience with you, a terrific job. I'm very grateful to the Secretary for having made me part of his team and for having given me the opportunity to serve him and the Department of State.
In fact, I feel personally it's a particular honor for me to work for him, because I have the greatest respect and the greatest admiration for him.
After having spent the last five years at the White House, I am very pleased to have returned to the State Department. As you all know, this position has not always been occupied by a career Foreign Service Officer. I thus appreciate very much the confidence that the Secretary has shown in me and in the Foreign Service by this appointment.
Finally, I know many of you already, and to those of you I do not know, I look forward to meeting you soon. I will try to be as open and direct and constructive as I can, as will the other members of the Bureau of Public Affairs. Together, we in the State Department and the U.S. Government and all of you in the Press Corps share a responsibility to communicate American foreign policy to the American people and to others around the world. I'm anxious to work with all of you to bring this about and to have, at least on some days, some fun in the process.
That is the extent of my personal remarks. Let me begin with a short statement.
We are pleased to announce that the Secretary General of the United Nations has appointed Carol Bellamy, currently Director of the U.S. Peace Corps, to be the next Executive Director of UNICEF. We are confident that she will continue the tradition of strong leadership that characterized UNICEF for so many years under her predecessor, the late Jim Grant.
UNICEF has always had a special place in the hearts and minds of Americans because of its work in support of children and child survival around the world. America is, and has always been, UNICEF's largest contributor and supporter.
Ms. Bellamy comes to her new post after a distinguished career in public service and the law, including as President of the New York City Council and five years in the New York State Senate. She is also a former Peace Corps volunteer.
The Administration looks forward to working with her, with the United Nations, and with other member states to help UNICEF continue its important and necessary work.
So with that, I'll be glad to go to your questions.
Q We thought we'd start you off easily by giving you a choice. You can either tell us if you think the Red Sox have the pitching, or you could appraise for us the PLO's arrests and speeches and sentences - - and tell us -- you may choose the Red Sox --
MR. BURNS: Thank you, Barry.
Q -- if the Administration, you know, thinks that they're pretty much doing their best now to rout out and prevent terrorism?
MR. BURNS: Just a word on the Red Sox, Barry, because you and I agree on that. I think they don't have the pitching but they might just win this year.
Q And about the PLO, it seems to be winning as well.
MR. BURNS: As you know, we have called upon the Palestinian Authority to take concrete steps to effectively pre-empt and to prevent terrorist attacks by arresting, trying and prosecuting those who advocate and practice violence. The Palestinian Authority obviously has taken action over the last 24 hours to do that.
Chairman Arafat has expressed his commitment to addressing the security concerns of Israel and we very much expect and hope that the Palestinian Authority will continue these efforts.
I would just note that I think there have been over 150 arrests during the last 24 hours in Gaza. There have been two sentencings -- one yesterday for 15 years, one today to life -- for people convicted of having aided and abetted terrorism or directed it.
I would also note that both the Secretary of State, in his March meeting with Chairman Arafat in Gaza, and the Vice President, in his subsequent meeting with Arafat in Jericho, also made a very strong case to Chairman Arafat that the Palestinian Authority had to take tough measures against terrorism.
The Secretary followed up last Sunday, directly after the two bombings, by calling Chairman Arafat and re-enforcing that point.
Q Do you have any misgivings that there might also be involved in this some abuse of human rights of people who are political opponents rather than advocates of violence?
MR. BURNS: Obviously the establishment of the rule of law, including respect for human rights, is a very important element in the development of Palestinian self-rule in Gaza and in Jericho, and in fact, in the creation of Palestinian institutions.
We know that Chairman Arafat and the Palestinian authorities are grappling with these issues. They're very complex. We hope very much that they will pay, of course, great attention to human and civil rights of the Palestinian population in Gaza as well as making a strong commitment to deal with the problem of terrorism.
Q Is there any concern at all within the Administration as to the possibility of civil war in Gaza?
MR. BURNS: Obviously Gaza is a very complicated place these days. That's for everyone to see. I don't believe we would characterize it as such.
We certainly have faith that Chairman Arafat understands the problem at issue. He understands that if the peace process is to go forward successfully, those who control Palestinian institutions in Gaza and Jericho have to have a commitment to the rule of law and to stopping the terrorism that has been so prevalent of late.
Q Nick, the Israelis yesterday were vowing to settle in the very two locations where these suicide attacks were carried out, apparently signaling an unwillingness to collapse the 5,000-person Jewish presence in Gaza.
Does the Administration have a view, even as it encourages Palestinian self-rule, does it have a view whether it's wise -- I'm not going to ask about legalisms, we know where you stand on that -- but is it wise for Israeli Jews to move into those territories?
MR. BURNS: Barry, I think we've said many times that this is a highly complex issue. It's obviously a central issue. We've also said the settlements are a problem, a problem for the peace process. But it's certainly a problem that the Palestinians and Israelis have to deal with together under the Declaration of Principles, and I think I'd prefer to leave it there.
Q Are settlements an obstacle to peace?
MR. BURNS: I've just said I think the settlements are a problem in the peace process. That's obvious. I think I'd prefer to state it as such.
Q -- words then, though? You're specifically saying "problem," not obstacle?
MR. BURNS: I'm not changing words. I'm just saying that they're obviously a problem. They have been a problem for a very long time between Israel and the Palestinians, in fact for several decades. That remains the case.
Under the Declaration of Principles, there is a provision for this problem to be worked out between the Palestinians and the Israelis. I don't think it's probably wise for me to give it much more detail than that.
Q Nick, in the way of talking about the settlements, my colleague asked if the Israelis will move into these territories where the bombing. On the other hand, the Israeli Minister of Environment -- I think Yosi Sarid -- was calling for the dismantling of that problematic settlement in the Gaza area. I think he has some followers, although it's very controversial.
Does the State Department -- the U.S. Government -- have any thought about this idea for dismantling a settlement which is so problematic that it is a hotbed for more activities and more violence there?
MR. BURNS: I've seen Mr. Sarid's comments, and we know there is a debate underway in Israel and in Gaza on this. I think I don't want to extend my comments any further. I think that my previous answer probably answered your question.
Q A second thing. In the way that -- since this is not a complete authority which has not been taking other parts of the West Bank and all the other West Bank; it is not well-established authority. Will there be any understanding of trying to give a leverage or a leeway of dealing with these emergency laws to try to cross that threshold of - - I know that the media is concerned about human rights and everything.
Will there be any stipulation of finding some period of time that - - if not cooling off, or not to be concerned very much about immediate human rights violations -- that let them pass that through and the emergency laws could take place?
MR. BURNS: I regret that I'm going to have to take issue with the basic point that you seem to be making through your question. The Palestinian Authority is established. It is the party that has responsibility for life, for politics, and for security in Gaza and in Jericho. The Palestinian Authority is therefore responsible for what happens on its territory and therefore has a responsibility to investigate promptly and seriously any violations of the law, including the very tragic and terrible bombings that took place a couple of days ago in Gaza.
I think the Palestinian Authority also recognizes that it has that responsibility.
Q Excuse me, I'm not trying to be controversial about this. I know that it's an established authority. I accept what you are saying. But in many cases, which I was in this room several times, the U.S. Government looked at some stipulation, some understanding that if there are some emergency laws to be taken and to be controlling an area which is a hotbed for violence from the people who bombed and killed other people, is there any understanding that this could be understandable if there will be some stepping on the toes of some people in human rights and other things?
MR. BURNS: I really think my previous answer answered your question.
Q Just off the wall, an American woman was killed. Is there any consideration being given to some U.S. legal action, extradition, etc.? Are the Americans trying to somehow get their hands on whoever did this?
MR. BURNS: A young American woman was killed quite tragically, Alisa Flatow. We extended yesterday and we'd like to extend again to her family our sincere condolences.
We're going to rely on the Palestinian Authority to investigate the attack on the bus, indeed, to investigate both bombings. We will rely on Chairman Arafat and the other Palestinian officials responsible to make every effort to bring the people responsible for these attacks to justice.
Q Do you have anything on Dennis' (Ross) visit to the region?
MR. BURNS: I don't have a lot of specific information, I know this will shock you, about Dennis' discussions in the Middle East. He is on his way back to Washington. He has completed his talks. We'll have a chance to talk to him tomorrow.
I think at some point, on Wednesday or Thursday, we'll be in a position to give you perhaps some more detail on what he thinks he accomplished and where we think things are headed.
Q But on the script, we all know what the script called for. The next stage was to bring military commanders here. Is that going to flow from his trip?
MR. BURNS: I just don't have any comment for you. He was quite reluctant to get into these details during the trip with journalists in the field. I have not had a chance to talk to him. He's not back in the Department, so I think I'll have to leave it there, Barry.
Q How does the Administration evaluate the recent visit of Strobe Talbott and Holbrooke to Ankara, Turkey?
MR. BURNS: You're right that Deputy Secretary Talbott and Assistant Secretary Dick Holbrooke are in Ankara today. They've had meetings with the Turkish Foreign Minister and with other officials. Those meetings are on-going. They're taking place as we are meeting here, and so I don't have anything to give you on that.
They will be coming back, I believe, late tomorrow night, so I hope, also later in the week you'll have an opportunity to speak to some of those people on the trip directly.
Q I would like to clarify yesterday's words from the Spokeswoman, that Shelly (Christine) said.
Yesterday there was some journalist asking here about Iraqi-Kurdish autonomy. She answered that autonomy is something that has to be worked out in the context of the regions where there are the Kurdish population, in the context of the states involved, borders they fall, and within their territorial integrity.
My question is: This solution includes Turkey also? They made some confusion in the country, which Holbrooke's still in Ankara right now.
MR. BURNS: I think Christine went through this with you yesterday. There's been no change in our policy. You asked a specific question on Turkish Kurds?
Q Turkish Kurds.
MR. BURNS: We do not support autonomy for Turkish Kurds within Turkey. That's a very specific question, so I've given you that specific response.
However, the Kurds represent a sizeable percentage -- I believe upwards of ten percent of the Turkish population -- and so we do have a very great interest, as does the Turkish Government, in making sure that the human and civil rights of the Kurds are protected and, indeed, advanced.
Q Does the U.S. support autonomy for Iraqi Kurds?
MR. BURNS: I think Christine covered that yesterday. The Iraqi Kurds are in a precarious situation and a very unusual situation. We recognize, of course, the protective zone in northern Iraq to be part of Iraq's territorial integrity, but we obviously for the last four years have not recognized Iraq's right to enforce its rule in northern Iraq. That's why we established "Operation Provide Comfort", and that's why it's so important that "Provide Comfort" continue, so that the Kurdish population might be protected.
Q When you said you did not support autonomy for the Turkish Kurds in Turkey, is it a new position of the Administration, or is it --
MR. BURNS: I don't believe so. I think it's a longly-held position of this Administration and previous Administrations.
Q On Iraq, I guess you all saw the interview with the Information Minister this morning and his explanation for the whereabouts of the biological agents. Do you have any comment on that?
MR. BURNS: This gets to the issue that Mr. Ekeus has brought to the United Nations. I understand that his report is going to be discussed tomorrow, April 12, in the Security Council. I'd prefer to hold our detailed comments on his report until after the Security Council has discussed it.
But let me just say, I think, from what we understand of his report, it is consistent with our long-held view that Iraq was developing, before the Persian Gulf War, a biological weapons program, and we believe that Iraq is capable of restarting that program should sanctions be lifted. That is just one of the reasons why we feel it's so important that the sanctions should be maintained on Iraq.
Q Excuse me. The space between "capable of" and "are they at it" -- you remember last week, a little tangling about various U.S. officials who got slightly tangled. You're not saying that Iraq is actually developing biological offensive weapons, are you?
MR. BURNS: As we understand Mr. Ekeus' report -- and we've not had an opportunity to look at it in detail at the United Nations -- there are problems associated with Iraq's past development of biological weapons, specifically in the unexplained absence of many tons of growth material. That certainly would indicate to us, and we believe that Iraq was developing at a certain point in time, a biological weapons program.
We assume because they seem to have had the capability in the past, that if sanctions were lifted, they would probably have the capability as a country to restart an effort like that. Again, I'd like just to re-enforce the point: That is just one of the many reasons we believe that sanctions against Iraq ought to remain in place.
Q Why do you think that they would have an early capability to begin again?
MR. BURNS: Because there's a lot of evidence, we believe, that they had the capability in the recent past, up until the beginning of the Gulf War in 1991. A lot of this has to do with human know-how, intelligence; what you can produce because you have certain people in the country who are smart enough to produce it.
Q Their capability was not destroyed in the war?
MR. BURNS: I can't answer that question specifically as to what part of their weapons installations or labs were or were not destroyed. I remember that some of them were targeted, but I can't give you a specific answer on that.
Q Just to clarify, Nick, you are not saying that they are developing biological weapons; you're saying they could do it?
MR. BURNS: I'm saying two things. This is exactly consistent with what we said last week, and that is that we believe that they did have a program until the outbreak of the Persian Gulf War, and we believe that they have the capacity to restart it. I don't think those things are inconsistent. In fact, I think they're probably complimentary.
Q Do you believe there's an on-going program now to develop biological weapons?
MR. BURNS: I have no information to that effect. That question is probably better directed to Mr. Ekeus, who has had an opportunity in recent weeks and months to actually inspect some of the Iraqi facilities for UNSCOM.
Q On the question of sanctions, that seems to me the formulation is rather open-ended. You say that Iraq has the intellectual capability of producing biological weapons. It's almost calling upon Iraq to prove the negative in this case.
What do they have to do on this score to get sanctions lifted?
MR. BURNS: We'll have to wait until tomorrow to see what the full extent of Ekeus' report is, but if it turns out that there is a very large amount of growth material missing, that is certainly something that the Iraqis have to answer for.
Q Can I follow up?
MR. BURNS: Let's stay with Judd.
Q If it turns out that that's not the case, they'll still have the capability to go the people who worked on the project in 1989, who are still around.
MR. BURNS: Countries have to submit themselves to safeguards, and that is one of the reasons why Mr. Ekeus has been in Iraq. It's one of the reasons why he's presenting his report tomorrow, so I think that's probably the answer for you.
Q Nick, can we to back to "Provide" --
Q Can we continue --
MR. BURNS: Sure.
Q You say that this biological question is only one of the many reasons for maintaining sanctions. As I understand Ekeus' report, they have generally cooperated with the other inspections in terms of missiles, the nuclear programs, and chemical programs. What are those other many reasons that you referred to?
MR. BURNS: Without going into a long list, it's our belief that Iraq is still in violation of all the relevant U.N. Security Council resolutions dating from the Persian Gulf war. They have not faithfully implemented them, we believe.
I would also note that they've never given a full accounting of what happened to a significant number of Kuwaitis who were taken prisoner during the Iraqi occupation of Kuwait. That is an issue that the world cannot forget and should not forget, and that this government -- our government -- has not forgotten.
Q How many people are we talking about?
MR. BURNS: I don't have an exact number for you, Carol. I'm sure we can get an estimate for you, but I don't have one in my head.
Q Can I go back to my question about the "Provide Comfort" area? Is this the setup that you are talking about? Is this a permanent setup or will it end sometime -- the "Provide Comfort" -- when the security situation will be different from what it is now -- possibly a change in the regime, or something like that?
MR. BURNS: As you remember from the Spring of 1991, "Provide Comfort" was established because of the brutal Iraqi attacks on the Kurdish population of northern Iraq. Because we believe that Iraq has still now found itself to be in compliance with the Security Council resolutions that emanate from that war, "Operation Provide Comfort" must and will continue; the humanitarian provision of supplies to the Kurds and the "no-fly" zone.
Q I'm going back also to what you said about the possibility that this is going to be sort of a permanent setup in northern Iraq?
MR. BURNS: I don't believe I said it was a permanent setup. I think I described the reasons why it was set up. At this point, we don't have a sunset provision on "Operation Provide Comfort." It will be there, and the international community has an obligation to be there until the Kurdish population can be protected from the current Iraqi regime.
Q You said that "Operation Provide Comfort" will continue. Have you received so far any guarantees from the Turkish Government that the Parliament will pass -- will vote for the extension of the mandate?
MR. BURNS: The Turkish Foreign Minister was here last week. He had a good meeting with Secretary Christopher and gave us every indication that the Turkish Government supports "Operation Provide Comfort" and will continue to participate in it. We have no doubts about that.
Q The PKK leader, Mr. Ocalan, announced yesterday they will establish a parliament in exile tomorrow in Holland. I know the U.S. Government position on this subject.
My question is, under your policy direction on this subject, do you or did you contact the Dutch Government to stop these kind of events?
MR. BURNS: I don't know actually if we've been in contact with the Dutch Government on this issue. Let me look into that and see what we have on it for you.
Q Can we talk a little bit about Chechnya?
MR. BURNS: Sure.
Q Can we stay on Iraq for a moment? Did you get a report from the Polish diplomat who visited the two men today?
MR. BURNS: Yes, we did, and let me go through that with you. We did receive -- we understand -- excuse me -- that the Polish diplomats from the U.S. Interests Section in Baghdad were able to visit Mr. Barloon and Daliberti this morning at the Abu Gharaib Prison in downtown Baghdad. They were able to deliver some food items to them, a small refrigerator -- which is important because it's getting hot there. They need to preserve their food.
We are awaiting a complete report from the senior Polish diplomat on the scene. Those reports come via our Embassy in Warsaw.
I think all of you probably saw the very good CNN report from Baghdad this morning. A CNN reporter was also allowed in. What we heard from the CNN reporter's description of his visit with the two Americans is consistent with the last report that we had received last week from the Polish diplomat.
But, as I said, we're now awaiting a further report based on today's meeting from that Polish diplomat.
I would just like to take this opportunity to reaffirm our basic position on this issue. That is, that Iraq should release these two individuals immediately. There is absolutely no justification whatsoever for Iraq to hold them. They strayed innocently across the border. The fact that they received such a long sentence for this transgression is absolutely unjustifiable.
Q They offered some hope on two fronts. The Information Minister said they might allow the family members to visit and they also referred to precedents -- just the two men who were held before and released after a relatively short period of time. Is the U.S. heartened by that at all?
MR. BURNS: We have seen so many conflicting public statements out of Baghdad that I don't think it's possible to be heartened by them. There's only one outcome that's going to be satisfactory to the United States, and that is a release -- an unconditional release -- of these two innocent individuals.
Q There has been some reporting out of Chechnya that the Russians are trying to aggressively mop up in Chechnya so that Yeltsin can tell Clinton that the incursion is over. I was wondering what the U.S. assessment is at this time.
MR. BURNS: Of the situation in Chechnya?
Q Yes. Do you think they're trying to aggressively have it over by the time of the summit, and is this satisfactory to you since there seems to be reports now of massacres?
MR. BURNS: I don't know what Russian military plans are in Chechnya regarding their timetable and whether that meets up with the summit, but let me say this: We continue to be very deeply disturbed by the reports of continued large-scale bombing in the south of Chechnya and of the intensive fighting in and around Samashki, which is west of Grozny. We're also disturbed by reports, which we have now been able to substantiate, of alleged Russian atrocities against Chechen civilians.
We have seen reports that fighting continues near the Chechen border with Ingushetia.
I think the President and Secretary Christopher have stressed repeatedly for many, many months our position on this, and that is that the fighting must stop; that there ought to be a cease-fire; there ought to be a political reconciliation between the Chechens and the Russians, and they ought to try to resolve their problems peacefully.
This conflict is having a corrosive effect on the development of Russian democratic institutions and Russian democracy, and it's having a negative effect on U.S.-Russian relations. It's a very important item on our agenda. Deputy Secretary Strobe Talbott, who was in Moscow over the weekend, stressed this point in his meetings with his Russian interlocutors.
Q Did he get any information during those talks that made you think any more positively about when this might be finished?
MR. BURNS: I can't say. I have not had an opportunity to discuss Strobe's visit to Moscow with him. I think we remain very much concerned that the military efforts are continuing. There doesn't seem to be an effort to promote any kind of political reconciliation or political dialogue.
I would note that today in Vienna the OSCE Permanent Council approved a mandate for the OSCE Assistance Group in Chechnya. You remember this has been under discussion for a number of months. There have been many visits by Mr. Gyarmati, the Hungarian Foreign Minister to Moscow, on this issue, including meetings with Foreign Minister Kozyrev. Most recently, in the last couple of weeks, there has been a question about whether or not Russia could say yes to the mandate, and Russia has now agreed to the mandate, and we understand that the OSCE will be able, we hope, to get a group into Chechnya fairly soon -- in a matter of weeks.
Q You know, you're suggesting that Strobe's message didn't get through. With the weekend, this is Tuesday. These are very flat statements you're making here about no effort for a political settlement, massive assaults, fighting, etc.
Would you like to take the leap with us and suggest that they have rebuffed Strobe's message?
MR. BURNS: You'll have to ask the Russian Government how it wants to characterize its views.
Q Do the facts on the ground suggest that, or does it take some time to get the gears working properly?
MR. BURNS: I think the facts on the ground for many months now has suggested that the Russian Government is intent upon prosecuting a military solution to the war in Chechnya, and here we have a disagreement with them.
It's our very strongly held view that a military solution is not possible in Chechnya, given the terrain and given the nature of Chechnya and the Chechen people themselves. And so our strong advice, since before Christmas, since the third week in December, has been to the Russian Government: Try to seek a political settlement of this issue, and that remains our advice, and that's the gist of what I've given you today.
Q I know you said Chechen people. A lot of these victims are Russian ethnics, aren't they? I mean, they're killing their own people, aren't they?
MR. BURNS: It's an ironic tragedy, particularly the bombing in Grozny in December and January, that a very high proportion of the people who have been affected were ethnic Russians who had no place to go, no villages to go. A lot of the Chechens who lived in Grozny had relatives in the surrounding countryside, and they could flee Grozny. That was not the case for a lot of ethnic Russians.
Q Have you seen any serious attempt by Moscow to try to deal politically with this?
MR. BURNS: I think that this has been a defining issue in the Russian body politic now for a good four or five months, and it's been debated in the Duma, and it's being debated within the Russian Government. So I think serious attention is being given to the conflict, and we've seen statements from Russian politicians on both sides of this issue.
Q But that's not -- what I meant was have you seen any -- I mean, Chernomyrdin seemed to be the one who was cast with trying to move toward some sort of reconciliation with -- not Dudayev, but his rebel forces, and I wonder whether you have seen any convincing effort by the Yeltsin Government to actually try to do what you said, which is to say to try to reach some political reconciliation?
MR. BURNS: I think the Russian Government wants to end the war. They want to end the war. They want to resolve the conflict. It's our view that the way to do that is to engage in political talks -- in political reconciliation talks.
I would add, however, that this is a two-way street. It's up to the Chechens to also show a willingness to negotiate an outcome, as well as it is being up to the Russians.
Q So are you saying that the Russians have shown an interest and the Chechens have not? Is that where you're putting the onus?
MR. BURNS: No, I'm not saying that at all. I'm just saying that if this conflict is going to be brought to an end, it's going to take both sides to want to end it, and both sides are going to have to agree that the way to end it is by sitting around a table and discussing the issues and not fighting on the battlefield or in the streets of Chechen towns. We would simply call upon both sides to pursue that solution.
Q There have been some reports in recent days that the Russians have also become more involved in the border fighting in Tajikistan, and I wondered how much concern there is here that Moscow may be dragged into yet another fight with another -- well, this would be slightly different, but another fight with Islamic forces?
MR. BURNS: I think I wouldn't easily compare the conflict in Chechnya, which is part of Russia, to the conflict on the Tajik-Afghan border which is an international conflict. Russian troops, Kazakh troops, Uzbek troops, Kirgyz troops have been on the Tajik-Afghan border for a number of years at the invitation of the Tajik Government.
It's quite a different, separate conflict from the conflict in Chechnya.
Q Can you tell us when the Secretary and Kozyrev will be meeting again to talk not only about Chechnya but things leading up to the summit? We were expecting that that would happen in New York, and there's nothing scheduled so far.
MR. BURNS: The Secretary does want to have another ministerial meeting with Foreign Minister Kozyrev before the May 9 and 10 meetings in Moscow, before he and the President go to Moscow. You remember a couple of weeks ago when we were in Geneva, the Secretary said that he wanted to have such a meeting in the United States. We're trying to schedule that meeting right now. Whether it's in New York or Washington, I simply don't know at this point. But I think it's safe to say we're going to find a time to have the two of them get together.
Q Do you think one will do it? I think he, himself, said one or more. Too early to know if one would do it?
MR. BURNS: I don't know. I think it's too early to know at this point. At this point I believe we're thinking about one meeting, but obviously we can hold a variety of options open.
Q Nick, just to go back to Strobe's visit in Moscow, would it be fair to assume that the points you raise and the same type of language you raise were the ones that he brought to Moscow with him, among the other items of business?
MR. BURNS: I don't know the specific language that Deputy Secretary Talbott used. But obviously the views that I've expressed today are the views of this Administration, and obviously those views were expressed by Strobe and others over the weekend, yes.
Q There is a plane load of 100 tons of weapons from Bulgaria headed for Ecuador. The plane has been released out of Cape Verde to fly to Ecuador. Do you all know about this? Does this concern you, given the recent history of fighting between Ecuador and Peru?
MR. BURNS: I'm afraid to say I haven't heard about this. I don't have anything for you on it today. We can look into it for you, though.
Q Nick, I realize that you have certain problems in talking about Pakistan relations when Prime Minister Bhutto's at the White House, but a factual question. This government has now been talking about 28 F-16s at issue. Looking back through my notes, I saw that the number of F-16s started out at 60 and then dropped to 38 and now we're down to 28. Are they evaporating or what? (Laughter)
MR. BURNS: You're very right. You saved me a line there. The President is meeting with the Prime Minister now.
Q That's the word.
MR. BURNS: I think they're going to be having a press opportunity about this time, so I'm going to be reluctant to say much about the meetings that have been underway this morning and over the past couple of days with Prime Minister Bhutto. I believe we're talking about 28 fighter aircraft. I haven't seen any other number, and I can't really account for earlier numbers going back a number of years. But if you're interested in this, I'm sure it's something we can pursue for you.
Q Could you?
MR. BURNS: Yes.
Q What's the early morning line, please, if there is one, on the Korean-U.S. talks in Berlin tomorrow? Remember, they came home to look at some ideas. Now they're going back. It's, what, 16 days later? So why would they solve it now? What are the Americans going back with that will make it soluble?
MR. BURNS: As you know, there was a pause in the talks in Berlin. I believe Christine announced that the meetings would be resume tomorrow in Berlin. Our delegation is going to be led by Dr. Gary Seymour, and obviously our objective here is to bring about an understanding between North Korea and the United States on a number of issues having to do with the Agreed Framework, but more specifically the provision of South Korean light-water reactors as part of this Framework. So that's the objective.
I don't have a lot to give you on this, because when we head into the negotiations, it's not our normal practice to discuss the details in public.
Q Nick, can I go back to Pakistan, and this is another factual question. First, the Prime Minister of Pakistan is here in I think six years or so. Why is the Secretary of State not here to meet with her?
MR. BURNS: Under Secretary Tarnoff, the Acting Secretary, is participating in the meetings today with the President and Prime Minister Bhutto, and the Secretary's schedule just didn't make it possible for him to be here.
Q She's not important enough to be here?
MR. BURNS: Pakistan is an exceedingly important country to the United States, and we have the greatest respect for the Prime Minister, and we're glad she's here. The President is seeing her today. They are having a lunch. The Vice President is having a dinner for her. She is seeing all the senior government officials in town, so I don't believe we have a problem on that score.
Q Nick, Under Secretary Tarnoff is meeting with the Chinese Vice Foreign Minister this afternoon. Can you give us a sense of what our message will be to the Chinese?
MR. BURNS: You're right. I believe they saw each other last night. There's a meeting mid-afternoon here in the Department. This is part of a regular series of contacts that we have with the Vice Minister. I think, obviously, Under Secretary Tarnoff will be addressing the full range of issues on the U.S.-Chinese agenda.
Q There's nothing that stands out more than the others this time?
MR. BURNS: There are a lot of important issues on the agenda. I don't know specifically which of them will be raised first, but obviously we have a very important, very complex relationship. Economic issues, political, security -- I'm sure they'll all be on the agenda for the U.S.-Chinese talks.
Q Can we get a readout?
MR. BURNS: I will try to get you something later on today, if I can, from those talks, yes.
Q If we can go back to Pakistan for just a second. Leaving aside issues of law, how -- or is there a response from the United States Government to Prime Minister Bhutto's very strong statement that the United States is effectively turning its back on a long-time, stalwart ally who stood with the United States through thick and thin and is now not willing to stand with it today?
MR. BURNS: I'm really going to leave the public articulation of this policy to the President, and I believe that's probably happening right now.
Q Thank you.
MR. BURNS: Thank you.
Q Nick --
MR. BURNS: I'm sorry, Betsy. You have one more.
Q Do you have anything more -- do you have any readout at all on the investigation into the Americans -- the bombing that killed several government workers in Karachi?
MR. BURNS: I don't have anything specific for you. As you know, there is a Pakistani investigation underway into the killing of the two Americans.
Q FBI team.
MR. BURNS: And there's an FBI team there, and we're trying to work very closely with the Pakistani Government to try to bring these individuals, whoever they are, to justice. But I don't have any specific information for you.
(The briefing concluded at 1:46 p.m.)
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