U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE 95/04/13 DAILY PRESS BRIEFING OFFICE OF THE SPOKESMAN U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE DAILY PRESS BRIEFING I N D E X Thursday, April 13, 1995 Briefer: Nicholas Burns John Holum ARMS CONTROL Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference ............1-10 --Secretary Christopher Opening Remarks/Bilateral Mtgs ..............................................1 --Mexican/Egyptian/Chinese Views on Indefinite Extension .........................................6-7,9 Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban ........................2-4 --Chinese Position ....................................7-8,9 NORTH KOREA Framework Talks in Berlin/Recess ......................10-12 --Report of North Korean Threat to End Nuclear Freeze .11-12 CHINA U/S Tarnoff Discussions with Vice FM ..................12 --Human Rights Cases i.e., Wei ........................13 --Spratly Islands Issue ...............................13 Secretary Christopher Bilateral Mtg. w/Chinese FM .....17 FORMER YUGOSLAVIA Report of War Crimes Evidence Against Milosevic .......14-15 Milosevic Response to Contact Group Proposal ..........16 Plan for Contact Group Mtg. w/Bosnian Gov't. ..........16 MEXICO Secretary Christopher Bilateral Mtg. w/Mexican FM .....18 RUSSIA Plans for Secretary Christopher Meeting w/FM Kozyrev ..18 TURKEY Readout on D/S Talbott Trip to Region .................18-19 Report of Turkish Proposal on Nagorno-Karabakh ........22 Upcoming PM Ciller Visit to U.S. ......................23 PHILIPPINES Report of Arrest of Yousef Accomplice .................19 ISRAEL Report of Jonathan Pollard Spy Exchange ...............19-20 HAITI U.S. Policy on Communication of Information to Gov't. re: Security Threats ................................20-21 IRAQ Wives of Detained Americans' Apply for Visas ..........21-22 CUBA U.S. Expulsion of Two Diplomats .......................22-23 Report of Threat in Response to Helms Legislation .....23
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
DAILY PRESS BRIEFING
THURSDAY, APRIL 13, 1995, 12:52 P.M.
(ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED)
MR. BURNS: Good afternoon. Welcome to the State Department.
I'm pleased to introduce today John Holum, Director of the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency.
Director Holum, along with Secretary Christopher and Under Secretary Lynn Davis, have worked tirelessly over the past year to secure the indefinite and unconditional extension of the Non- Proliferation Treaty.
As you know, the President mentioned in his State of the Union Address in January that the indefinite extension of the NPT is a major foreign policy priority for this Administration.
As part of this commitment, Secretary Christopher will travel next week to the United Nations to make the opening remarks at the NPT Review Conference.
That conference begins on Monday, April 17, and will last four weeks, ending on May 12.
While in New York, Secretary Christopher will hold a series of bilateral meetings with Foreign Minister Qian of China, Foreign Minister Gurria of Mexico, and representatives from the ASEAN countries, from the countries of Southern Africa, and countries from the Middle East.
We're going to post a schedule for the Secretary's trip to New York in the Press Office after this briefing.
So now to Director Holum, and after his presentation and questions we'll resume the Press Briefing.
MR. HOLUM: Thank you very much, Nick.
As Nick has mentioned, this conference begins next week in New York, and I'd just like to make in opening remarks three points about it.
The first one is that this is a fundamentally historic decision. The NPT is the centerpiece of all of our post-Cold War arms control efforts. As non-proliferation has become increasingly a matter of concern, the NPT has loomed ever more important. If you want to think about how important it is, think of what the Gulf War would have been like if Iraq had acquired nuclear weapons prior to that conflict, or think of what New York would have looked like if the World Trade Center bombers had managed to acquire even primitive nuclear devices before they engaged in that assault.
In addition to its impact on making nuclear weapons harder to acquire for anyone, the NPT forms the framework for the reductions in nuclear weapons that are now underway between the United States and the former Soviet Union -- really dramatic reductions already approaching 60 percent, in our case, of the Cold War high nuclear arsenal.
So this may be the most fateful decision that the delegates to this conference will ever be called upon to make -- practically speaking, the only chance available under the terms of the treaty to make it permanent by a simple majority vote. This chance will never come again.
The second point I'd like to make is that President Clinton has made the key decisions leading up to this decision in New York that make a favorable outcome possible. As Nick mentioned, he has made the Non- Proliferation Treaty central to our diplomacy over the last year or so. Last year he named Tom Graham, my predecessor at the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency, as a special representative for Non-Proliferation, Arms Control and Disarmament, to pursue votes globally. Tom has been traveling extensively; but it's also grown into a Government-wide effort involving the Department of State, the President, the Secretary of Defense, and other national leaders. It's truly been a comprehensive effort.
The President has also made important policy decisions that make a favorable outcome possible, including -- most importantly -- the decision in l993 to pursue negotiations for a Comprehensive Test Ban, and also negotiations to pursue a cutoff in the production of fissile material for weapons. Both of those were subjects that the negotiators of the Non-Proliferation Treaty had in mind in l968 when they negotiated the Article VI obligation in the treaty calling for the nuclear weapon states to pursue good-faith negotiations toward disarmament.
Recently, the President has also decided to extend the moratorium on United States nuclear tests until the test ban negotiations are completed -- assuming they're completed by next September. What that means, in practical terms, is that the United States is prepared for a conclusion that we have already conducted our last nuclear test.
That's a powerful message to the delegates to the NPT Conference in New York.
Finally, I'd just like to say that the immediate run-up to the NPT Conference has been favorable. We believe that the non-nuclear countries are recognizing their enormous security stake in this treaty, that it is fundamental to their security, and they are treating it with a seriousness it deserves.
In addition, last week in Geneva, four of the five nuclear weapon states confirmed their support for a test ban in a joint statement and also for the fissile cutoff, and affirmed solemnly that their ultimate goal is nuclear disarmament.
Yesterday, in addition, the United Nations Security Council approved a resolution reflecting for the first time a common approach among the nuclear weapon states -- all five -- on security assurances to non-nuclear weapon states.
All of this leads to the conclusion that if the vote were held today -- and this is based on extensive discussions globally -- we believe we would have the necessary majority for indefinite extension.
That doesn't mean that the outcome is assured. A great deal can happen between now and probably the second week in May, when the voting will occur. This is a long and arduous conference ahead. A great deal of bilateral diplomacy is yet to be undertaken. So we're not counting on anything. But we believe the outlook, as we go into the conference, is quite favorable.
I'd be happy to take your questions.
Q As we all know, the NPT doesn't exist in a vacuum; and you've mentioned two of the steps the President has taken that I suppose would be assuring to other countries. Let me ask you about two other things, please.
Is there an Administration policy that the elimination of nuclear weapons should be a goal of the United States?
And, secondly, on testing, is there an Administration policy that a certain range of tests in the laboratory or whatever should be permitted?
MR. HOLUM: On the former, the statement that I referred to -- the P4 statement in Geneva -- confirmed nuclear disarmament as our ultimate goal. For the United States, that was really repeating a commitment that President Clinton had made last May in a joint statement with Prime Minister Rao of India. So that is our policy.
In terms of the experiments that will be conducted, or the activities that will be conducted within a test ban, we have a policy decision. I can't tell you specifically how that translates into activities, but the policy decision is that the United States must be able to maintain the safety and reliability of our stockpile under a test ban, and we will --
Q (Inaudible) test ban kind of?
MR. HOLUM: No --
Q In other words, it's not really a test ban; it's a ban on the kind of tests that the world has been familiar with, but you'll keep testing in the laboratory up to a certain range with the same excuse the previous Administrations have used to make sure the weapons are up-to- date and they don't turn moldy and all that kind of stuff.
If that's true, how is that supposed to inspire other countries to support you on NPT?
MR. HOLUM: No, this is not a threshold test ban. What we are proposing is a comprehensive test ban. Within the terms of a comprehensive test ban, we will continue activities that are necessary to assure the safety and reliability of the stockpile.
We expect other nuclear weapon states will do the same thing.
This is not a determination, and no one regards it as a determination in itself to abolish nuclear weapons. So safety and reliability remain important.
At the same time, this test ban will not permit activities that would allow the development of new weapons. So it is a tangible, positive step toward arms control.
Q What do you mean "activities," sir? What do you mean activities?
MR. HOLUM: There are a whole variety of things that will be done. The Department of Energy can give you a comprehensive set, but examples would include taking weapons apart and putting them back together again to make sure that the parts aren't corroding or that the materials aren't degrading.
There would be activities such as hydrodynamic testing, which is setting off the part of the explosion that doesn't involve nuclear materials but is rather the conventional explosions to make sure that the process is still effective -- that kind of activity, of laboratory or computer simulations -- that kind of activity.
Q There have been a couple of other ideas floating around the Preparation Conference in New York. One of them, I guess from Venezuela, is proposing a 25-year extension rather than an indefinite one -- another one, by some other Latin Americans, about a l0-year exit window. Would the United States be prepared to sign on to either of those ideas if it meant a difference between extending it or not?
MR. HOLUM: I don't think we'll have to face that question, and we are not looking at those kinds of fallbacks. The reason is that those are not just one step back from an indefinite extension. They are dramatically different.
As I indicated in my statement, this is the one opportunity we have to make the treaty permanent without going to national legislatures. This chance will not come again. If we adopted either of those alternatives, that opportunity would be gone forever.
A 25-year extension might seem like a long period. Twenty-five years with a decision at the end to extend again may seem like a fairly reassuring environment. But, first of all, in comparison to indefinite or permanence, even 25 years is not very long -- especially given the way countries plan their national security.
In addition to that, we believe we need to take advantage of this one chance to make it permanent.
Q In other words, you would vote against a treaty amended in those words?
MR. HOLUM: Our position -- and we are not looking at compromises - - is for an indefinite, unconditional extension of the treaty, and we are not looking at alternatives.
I'm convinced that that issue won't come up. The greatest number of votes, clearly now, are in favor of indefinite extension. These other alternatives have less support than the outcome we prefer.
Q You said last month -- early March -- at the White House that you were looking for an overwhelming majority and you thought you could put one together. Today, you say you think -- if a vote happened today -- you think you'd have the necessary majority. Have you abandoned the idea of an overwhelming majority?
MR. HOLUM: I don't think I ever said an "overwhelming majority." If I did, I'd take it back. Because our position has always been that a simple majority is sufficient, and that we shouldn't up an artificial barrier that calls for more than a simple majority.
At the same time, you may have heard me say that I believe that as we get past a simple majority, additional countries will join the consensus, or a larger majority. But I don't think we should set a standard higher than that established in the treaty itself.
Q Speaking of certain countries, will Mexico vote with the United States?
MR. HOLUM: That's uncertain. Mexico has raised concerns about the indefinite extension question. They've had a lot of activity over the years in disarmament conferences. It's unclear how Mexico will vote at this point.
Q In an article in the Washington Times today, Larry Pressler is quoted as having been briefed by Central Intelligence that convinced him that Pakistan has more than a nuclear capability. He says five nuclear weapons, he estimates; India has, he thinks, about 10 nuclear weapons.
With regard to that region, what has been done? What will be done to get both of these countries to roll back their nuclear programs and their delivery capabilities, especially fearing -- the Indians fearing that China -- they need a deterrent to the Chinese?
MR. HOLUM: The first thing I'd like to emphasize is that the situation in South Asia underscores the importance of the Non- Proliferation Treaty, because it demonstrates the precarious circumstances and complicated existence that countries outside the NPT get into in coming to terms with these systems and weapons. So it's an object lesson in the importance of the NPT.
In terms of what we can do specifically, I personally think the most hopeful enterprise underway is the negotiation to put a cap on the production of fissile material for weapons; we just have a negotiating mandate in Geneva for that effort. That is the one way to at least put a lid on the Indian and Pakistan potential weapons programs. After that, the next step would be to roll back those programs through a variety of diplomatic methods.
I'm not saying -- there's early promise in the broader effort, but it's something we need to stay at.
Q Has this process begun? I believe Secretary Perry was working specifically on setting up a framework for talks.
MR. HOLUM: We have a continuous dialogue with both countries, and we have pursued as well regional efforts to address the nuclear danger and also the missile danger, because if the nuclear potential of either of countries, or both, were married with a missile technology, there would be a very high risk of conflict.
Q John, two of the countries whose votes you don't seem to be sure of -- Mexico and Egypt -- are rather substantial recipients of American aid. Are there any penalties for voting against the United States at this conference?
MR. HOLUM: Notwithstanding my single-minded interest in the Non- Proliferation Treaty, I've not been in favor of linking assistance -- explicitly linking assistance to the vote on the NPT, in the main part because our assistance to those countries wouldn't be in place if it weren't in our interest in other respects. So we would be punishing ourselves as we punish them.
In addition, I tend to think that kind of explicit pressure would tend to be counterproductive. The main burden of our message throughout this process -- and I think it's why we are approaching success -- is that the countries who are members of the Non-Proliferation Treaty need it for their own security. It protects them against regional nuclear dangers and the potential for an arms race.
Q In your discussions with the Chinese, have they indicated their support for the NPT extension? If they have, what kind of a stand have they indicated to you on the test ban?
MR. HOLUM: As Nick indicated, I guess yesterday in his briefing, I was one of the officials who met with the Vice Foreign Minister. I met with him this morning.
Their position is that they have favored a smooth extension of the Non-Proliferation Treaty. We don't have anything beyond that. At least, I don't at this stage. Their Foreign Minister will be speaking to the NPT Conference next Tuesday, I believe, and we'll expect more at that time.
Q On the test ban?
MR. HOLUM: They're engaged in the negotiations in Geneva. They have some positions that we find problematic. In the meantime, I don't see any indication that their test program is going to end prior to completion of the test ban.
Q Some of us were told this morning that the official French position on this conference is, extend the treaty indefinitely; that's it. Accomplish that. A great accomplishment. That should be the business of this conference.
I'm trying to figure out if the U.S. sees more that might be done at this conference? For instance, are you happy -- are you going to try to make some changes in the inspection provisions, bearing such things as North Korea and Iraq, those examples in mind?
Does the U.S. have a larger program, a larger agenda for New York than the British and French, for instance?
MR. HOLUM: I don't want to comment on theirs, because I wouldn't characterize it that way. But I certainly would characterize ours as being quite broad. The most important decision, obviously, is the decision on extension. But this is both a review and an extension conference. All aspects of the treaty should and will be reviewed.
There will be an examination, for example, of technical cooperation with non-nuclear weapon states parties to the treaty in the areas of agriculture, health, and nuclear energy, and so on. That is a contentious issue, in some quarters.
There will be a review of progress on disarmament, the Article VI obligation, and we expect to be very forthcoming in our discussion of those issues.
Q How about safeguards?
MR. HOLUM: And safeguards as well. The International Atomic Energy Agency is in the process of advancing a comprehensive program called "Ninety-Three Plus Two" that expands the use of sensors, for example, and other methods to detect violations of safeguards agreements. That also will be part of the discussion. So there will be a range of things on the table.
Q How do you this when you can't amend the treaty?
MR. HOLUM: None of those areas require amendment. All of those provisions are in the treaty.
Q (Inaudible) interpretation of an provision; right?
MR. HOLUM: Right. And reporting and review of progress on where we stand.
Q If I could just go back to your discussions with the Chinese. You say you find some of their -- on the test ban -- you find some of their positions problematic. If you could expand on that a little bit? I take it that their -- I mean, they have committed to a test ban but they want to test some more before the negotiations will be complete? And why? Why do they want to test some more?
MR. HOLUM: I'd refer you to them for their reasoning.
Q What they said to you.
MR. HOLUM: I don't want to report on the specific content of the discussions. I can respond on positions they've taken publicly that we find problematic. One is that they believe there should be a right for peaceful nuclear explosions under a test ban.
I don't see any -- and we haven't been able to discern any way to tell the difference between a peaceful explosion and an explosion that gives you military benefits. Also, I don't think that position is negotiable; not only because we would oppose it but because I think most countries in the Conference on Disarmament would oppose it. So that's an example of positions that we have concerns with.
Q The non-aligned countries will be meeting right on the eve of the conference, or even I guess after --
MR. HOLUM: Yesterday and today.
Q -- it starts, the Foreign Ministers, Indonesia. China is a member of that. Do you have an sense that they will be helpful or, in fact, otherwise to trying to persuade members to vote for indefinite extension?
MR. HOLUM: I don't have any sense of that, of what specific role they're likely to play.
China is in an interesting position, in terms of their evolution on arms control and non-proliferation issues. They joined the Non- Proliferation Treaty in 1992. Up until that time, they tended to remain apart from global regimes. I think that was an important step forward. They've made some progress in the test ban negotiations in the sense that they are for negotiations and expect to have it concluded in 1996.
We've recently made some progress with them -- although we still have more to do -- in the Missile Technology Control Regime area; but we also have a great problems with it -- also, in the missile technology area, in the testing area, and in some others.
I would call this an evolving relationship, and it's evolving in an encouraging way.
Q Do you have any word on how the talks in Berlin went with the North Koreans?
MR. HOLUM: This is a good segue into Nick. (Laughter) I believe he had some points on that.
MR. BURNS: Thank you, John.
(Following the conclusion of the above briefing, Spokesman Nick Burns resumed the Daily Briefing at 1:14 p.m.)
MR. BURNS: Let me just start by reminding you that we're not planning a regular press briefing tomorrow, Friday, April 14. The Press Office will be open, of course, and I will be here and available to respond to any questions you might have, but there will not be a formal briefing.
Would you like to take that first question on North Korea? Okay.
As you know, the third round of our discussions with the North Koreans began yesterday in Berlin, and today the United States and North Korea agreed mutually to another recess in those talks. I understand that our negotiating team, led by Dr. Gary Samore, is on its way back to Washington for consultations. The talks will resume again in Berlin on Tuesday, April 18, so Dr. Samore and his delegation will be heading back on Monday.
Q Is that good or bad?
MR. BURNS: This is really the only information we have from our team. There's no reason to think it's bad. It's consistent, in fact, with what happened during the last round of talks. We had a very good and full exchange with the North Koreans. It was felt by both sides and agreed by both sides this time that there was need for another recess so that the two sides could have consultations in capitals. That's why they're returning. It is a recess. It's not a cancellation of the talks.
Q (Inaudible) at the working level in Berlin, even in this brief period you're referring to yesterday?
MR. BURNS: Yes. As I understand it, after an initial plenary meeting, the delegations decided to form small groups, and they did meet in small groups over the last two days. There are a number of meetings that took place -- technical groups.
Q Doesn't that imply that no decisions were taken? Presumably, they will be taken at a higher level.
MR. BURNS: As I said, there's a recess in the talks for consultations, and the consultations normally occur at a higher level.
Q Okay, did they go there, knowing that they were going to be there just for a day and come back?
MR. BURNS: No. I know that our delegation went, planning on a couple of days of talks. They had a couple of days of talks, two days of talks, and they're on their way back now.
Q One last thing, please. Is there a threat -- anonymous diplomats -- you've had to deal with this before on this subject -- anonymous diplomats reported to be saying that there's a North Korean threat now to reopen the graphite -- to get the graphite reactor going again. Has North Korea threatened to back away from the freeze?
MR. BURNS: I have no indication that in the two days of talks just concluded there was any kind of threat made to our delegation along those lines. I have seen various press reports that you have, too, but I have no indication that that kind of assertion was made privately to us.
Q Can I follow up on that?
MR. BURNS: Sure, Charlie.
Q Because you very narrowly focused it on no indication from the two days of talks. Is there any indication elsewhere from IAEA inspectors or in any other way -- just to lay it all out there -- that they might wish to back away?
MR. BURNS: No, I'm not aware of any indications whatsoever about that.
Q Nick, who requested the recess?
MR. BURNS: I just got this information just before coming out here, and I understand it was mutually agreed upon. We had a telephone call from our delegation in Berlin. I did not take the call, but that's how it was described to me. It was a mutual decision. So I can't say whether they had a spontaneous agreement or whether one side raised it and the other agreed to it. So that's a mutual agreement.
Q Are the North Koreans still counting on an April 21 deadline for having this question resolved?
MR. BURNS: I don't know what they have said to our delegation on that over the last two days. You know our position on that. We believe that we have long considered April 21 to be a target date. We have not considered it to be a date by which everything must be resolved. It's a target date. It's a date by which we would like to have things done, but, if it's not, we'll continue talking.
Q In the brief time they met, did you hear anything to indicate a willingness -- a new willingness on the part of the North Koreans to accept South Korean reactors?
MR. BURNS: I'm sorry. I am handicapped by the fact that I don't have -- I don't believe most people here have a detailed readout of the specific conversations, certainly those that took place today, and the sketchy readout of the conversations that took place yesterday. So I don't have any for you on that, Barry.
Q How much time have they spent, total?
MR. BURNS: They started the talks at 8:00 a.m. yesterday morning in Berlin. They met in plenary session and then in individual groups, smaller technical groups, throughout much of the day, and they also met today. I don't know how many hours they met today. So it was roughly two days of discussions.
Q Nick, on China, I had a question from yesterday. In any of the meetings, did the Administration ask China to release Wei?
MR. BURNS: Yes, Sid. In fact, you asked two questions, I think. I have two responses for you. Under Secretary Tarnoff continued his discussions with the Vice Foreign Minister yesterday. I'd just note that the Vice Foreign Minister is still here. He'll be meeting Deputy Secretary Talbott later on this afternoon.
In the course of the conversations yesterday, Under Secretary Tarnoff raised a number of human rights cases with the Vice Foreign Minister, including the case that you referred to yesterday of Wei Jingsheng. That case was raised specifically by Under Secretary Tarnoff.
In addition to that, I think you asked yesterday about the Spratly Islands, or someone -- maybe it was Barry. I forget. Someone asked about the Spratly Islands.
MR. BURNS: George asked about the Spratly Islands. We also raised the issue of the Spratly Islands, as I had anticipated, and just to follow up on that, over the last couple of weeks we've had a series of discussions with all six of the claimants on the Spratly Islands issue.
Q You say it was raised -- the question of Wei's release -- the question of Wei's detention. Just to get it as narrow as possible, did Under Secretary Tarnoff request his release?
MR. BURNS: I do not know the specific language that was used. I simply sought to ascertain that we had raised the issue. And, as you know, we have a very active discussion with the Chinese on human rights issues. Assistant Secretary Shattuck, I think, has had seven discussions with the Chinese leadership during the last year on human rights issues alone. This was a major part of the meetings, and there was a discussion. But I can't tell you the formulation that was used.
Q Let me (inaudible). Does the Administration think Wei should be released?
MR. BURNS: It's certainly our view that people who have been detained for expressions of their political views ought not to be imprisoned. Yes, I can tell you that very certainly, because human rights is important to this Administration, and there are universal standards of human rights that ought to be met.
I just can't tell you the specific language used in this particular case yesterday, because I wasn't in the meeting.
Q Nick, do you have any assessment of the report in The New York Times today by the former Serbian intelligence officer of evidence that Milosevic was directly involved in war crimes?
MR. BURNS: I have a few things to say on that. This issue of war crimes is an issue for consideration by the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, and the Clinton Administration believes that people should be held responsible for atrocities, and they should be held individually accountable for atrocities regardless of their rank.
You asked about Mr. Milosevic. I can't speculate on whether or not the Tribunal might implicate President Milosevic. The Tribunal has responsibility to investigate war crimes, and it's up to them to make that determination. It's not up to the United States to make that determination.
Q How do you feel about dealing with someone who directly, I mean, in trying to reach peace in that area that is accused of these kinds of crimes?
MR. BURNS: By "dealing with them," as you put it, by talking to them, by in some cases negotiating with them. We are in no way endorsing him or Serbian policies -- Serbian policies now or in the past. We are simply trying to obtain in our current discussions Serbian compliance with Security Council resolutions, and we certainly hope to achieve Serbia's agreement on the major issues that confront the problems in Bosnia -- the cease-fire, the fact that there is no mutual recognition of the state in the former Yugoslavia. But by dealing with him, we are by no means endorsing him.
Q Nick, has the State Department had a chance to examine these documents which are quoted and reprinted in The New York Times? Do you think they are authentic?
MR. BURNS: I don't know the specific answer to your question. I don't know what kind of access we have to the documents that have been given to the Tribunal. But that's certainly something that I think I can probably get back to you on.
Q I don't think the Tribunal and I would imagine the United States has been aware of these documents because they were just discovered publicly, but they weren't just discovered by the international community. Was the Clinton Administration aware of these allegations? Were they made aware of the allegations in the last few months, you know, prior to their big diplomatic push with Mr. Milosevic?
MR. BURNS: I don't know if we were aware of the specific documents that this newspaper report refers to. I do know, however, that we have turned over to the Tribunal, I think, around 700 accounts -- firsthand accounts of atrocities that were committed -- I believe to have been committed in Bosnia a number of years ago.
We also have a Foreign Service Officer who works full time in this building responding to requests for information from the Tribunal. So we are in touch with the Tribunal. We're working with it, and we support it. Whether or not we had knowledge of these documents or saw these documents until this week, I don't know.
Q Do you think any of the documents that you've turned over to the Tribunal implicate Milosevic in any way?
MR. BURNS: Not that I'm aware of.
Q Can you check on that when you're checking it?
MR. BURNS: I think we can probably check on that, but not that I'm aware of.
Q Nick, does this Administration agree with former Secretary Eagleburger that a number of political leaders, including Milosevic and Karadzic, should be put on trial?
MR. BURNS: As I said at the beginning, Norm, that is a decision that the International Tribunal has to make. We supported the creation of the Tribunal. We were one of the leading forces -- leading countries to create the Tribunal. We support its activities. We want it to succeed. We have people working with it. We're turning over information to it. But it's really the judgment of the Tribunal that has to, I think, take primary place here.
Q During -- to come back to China -- during --
Q Can I ask one more, please?
MR. BURNS: Let's stay on this subject, and then we'll go to China.
Q Without reference to these specific documents, is the State Department aware of any trail of evidence -- paper or otherwise -- which would link these concentration camps to the leadership of the former Yugoslavia in Belgrade?
MR. BURNS: Again, I think that our position on that would be we supported the creation of this Tribunal to answer such questions -- that question and a lot of other questions -- pertaining to the atrocities that were committed -- that have been committed throughout the war but certainly those that were committed at the beginning of the war three and four years ago. So I think I'd rather leave that answer right there.
I think we want to go to China.
Q One more on this.
MR. BURNS: One more on this?
Q Just a quick one. Yesterday you talked -- you mentioned the fact there was no reason for optimism with the Contact Group and Milosevic's rejection of the plan again. Correct me if I'm wrong, but my recollection was that this proposal called for tightening sanctions if he didn't accept it. Is that correct? Is that what you -- is that next step?
MR. BURNS: I think yesterday I remember saying that there was no reason -- that our representative did not leave with a great deal of optimism regarding discussions in Belgrade with Mr. Milosevic.
As I understand it, having read the account of that meeting, we don't have a final answer from Mr. Milosevic on the Contact Group offer. It is our assumption that he's not interested in it. It's our assumption that it's not going to go anywhere. This, of course, is the offer of limited sanctions relief in return for the recognition of Bosnia.
But I believe we are waiting for a definitive response from Milosevic.
Q And, if he does give you a definitive rejection, isn't the planned next step to tighten -- to go to tightening sanctions? Sticks rather than carrots.
MR. BURNS: I'd just prefer to say I think if that does happen, obviously the Contact Group will have to meet and assess the situation. I'm sure that will take place, but I don't care to go beyond that at this point.
We had a question on China.
Q Thank you for coming back. During his exchange with Under Secretary Tarnoff, was the Chinese Vice Foreign Minister receptive to the U.S. concerns on human rights and particularly the case of Wei Jingsheng? That's the first question.
The second question: Is the Chinese Foreign Minister coming to D.C. for more talks with U.S. officials after the U.N. meeting?
MR. BURNS: Second question first: I'm only aware of the meeting in New York -- on a Monday meeting between the Secretary and the Chinese Foreign Minister. I'm not aware that he intends to travel to Washington. I've not heard anything about that. He is going to be addressing the NPT Conference.
On the first question, I think you should direct your question to the Chinese leadership and to the Vice Foreign Minister. I don't think it's appropriate for me to characterize his views. It's also not our normal practice to get into the details -- to give you a summary even of the details of sensitive issues like this. But I'm quite willing to say this was a major issue on our agenda this week, as it will be next week on Monday when the Secretary has his meeting with the Foreign Minister.
Q How do you characterize the atmosphere of the meeting? Was it contentious or cordial?
MR. BURNS: I would not characterize this series of meetings -- and now we're into, I think, the third day of meetings this week with the Chinese Vice Foreign Minister. I would not characterize those meetings as contentious. I think they've been constructive and certainly very full, because, as I mentioned yesterday, there is an exceedingly broad agenda here that has been addressed by Peter Tarnoff, by John Holum, by Tony Lake, our National Security Adviser, by Secretary Perry and today by Strobe Talbott.
Lots of different issues being raised by both sides and, of course, the Secretary is looking forward to another opportunity to meet his counterpart, the Chinese Foreign Minister, on Monday.
Q The other bilateral you made a point of was the Mexican.
MR. BURNS: That's right.
Q Is that NPT mostly, or is it just coincidental because Mexico, South Africa and a handful of countries are key to your hopes for the NPT.
MR. BURNS: I'll get to that. The regional group meetings are designed to talk about the NPT issue. The bilateral with the Mexican Foreign Minister will be much broader gauged. It will be obviously a discussion of the NPT, because we would very much like to have Mexico's support on that question. But I think that the meeting will be broader gauged. It will deal with all the issues on the U.S.-Mexican agenda.
Q I think you didn't mention Kozyrev in New York. Does that mean that --
MR. BURNS: I did not mention Foreign Minister Kozyrev, no, because the Secretary will not be seeing him in New York on this trip on Monday and Tuesday. However, as you know, and as the Secretary said in Geneva a couple of weeks ago, he very much would like to meet Foreign Minister Kozyrev before the May 9th and 10th meetings.
Foreign Minister Kozyrev, I believe, arrives in New York in about a week or so, and so we are now trying to arrange a meeting between the Secretary and Foreign Minister Kozyrev for some time in the latter part of April. I don't know whether that meeting will be in Washington or New York, and obviously as soon as we schedule it, I'll communicate that to you.
Q On Tuesday you said you didn't have much to report on Talbott and Holbrooke's visit to Turkey. Do you have anything more today? What was accomplished?
MR. BURNS: You know that Deputy Secretary Talbott gave a press conference in Ankara yesterday, in which he reviewed the accomplishments of his visit. He met with the Prime Minister. He met with the Foreign Minister. He met with a wide range of leaders, including people in the human rights community; other people from the Foreign Ministry.
The discussion was quite broad. They talked about the situation in Russia. They talked about the problems in Nagorno-Karabakh, other issues pertaining to U.S. and Turkish interests in the Caucasus and Central Asia. They talked about the situation in Bosnia and the Balkans in general.
There was, I know, a good exchange on the problems in Cyprus and also a good exchange about bilateral issues. Obviously, there was also a very heavy concentration on the issue of the Turkish incursion into northern Iraq, and I think Deputy Secretary Talbott has characterized how those discussions went with both the Prime Minister and the Foreign Minister.
Q Do you have anything to add to --
MR. BURNS: Nothing new really. He received again the assurances of the Prime Minister, Mrs. Ciller, and the Foreign Minister that this operation would be limited in time and limited in scope. And that's a very important concern of ours, as you know.
There was also a discussion of the problem of PKK terrorism which Turkey has a great concern about, and we share Turkey's concern about that problem.
Q Do you have anything on "Open Skies" negotiations with Europe?
MR. BURNS: I'm sorry, I don't, no. Nothing today. What are you interested in particularly?
Q My colleague asked a question yesterday and he was supposed to get an answer today.
MR. BURNS: I was not asked about "Open Skies" yesterday, I'm sorry. But I'll be glad -- if you have a particular interest, maybe we can talk after the briefing.
Q Do you have anything on a man who was brought to this country overnight from the Philippines -- Abdul Hakim Marad (?) -- and who was charged this morning with Yousef on various bomb counts?
MR. BURNS: I have nothing for you on that, no.
Q You don't know about it, or you don't have anything?
MR. BURNS: I have nothing for you on that.
Q Do you have anything on a possible spy deal where Jonathan Pollard would be released in exchange for other releases?
MR. BURNS: I saw a press report about this issue just before coming to see you today. I checked with a number of senior officials here in the building and elsewhere in Washington. None of us has ever heard of this possible spy swap. We don't know of any approach to the U.S. Government at any level about this deal.
Q What is the position? Does the position of the U.S. Government on Pollard remain the same -- no deals, no swaps?
MR. BURNS: I have no reason to believe that that position has changed whatsoever.
Q So it's reasonable to assume that if there were a proposal out there, and the Israelis are always asking for him back, that's no secret, that it would fall on deaf ears.
MR. BURNS: The Israelis have raised the issue of Jonathan Pollard regularly with us for a number of years, but I have no indications that U.S. policy has changed whatsoever on that particular issue and on the specific issue that Betsy asked about -- this press report of a spy swap. Absolutely no indication from anybody in our government at senior levels or mid-levels -- and I've talked to a lot of people -- of any knowledge of this story. This is the first we've heard of it.
Q Just to follow up. Do those include officials in the Justice Department?
MR. BURNS: We made a broad sweep here. None of us have heard anything about this.
Q Could I ask you another question about Marad(?) Was this building involved at all in the investigation. There were warnings last summer that people should be concerned about flying on U.S. carriers in south Asia and no reasons were given, and finally this whole thing came out of Yousef being in the Philippines, and now there's been other arrest. Was diplomatic security at all involved. Is there nothing you can say?
MR. BURNS: Betsy, I have nothing to say on that issue.
Q On Haiti: A high-ranking Justice Department official today said that the people that had been on the hit list at the Defense Department had been turned over to State, I believe, were going to be notified -- the people in Haiti -- that might be in danger of assassination; were definitely going to be notified but would not be protected by any U.S. agencies. That would be UNMIH's duty is what the official said. Can you confirm that these people are being notified?
MR. BURNS: Are you referring to Haitian Justice Ministry official or are a U.S. Justice Ministry official?
Q No, no, I'm sorry, a U.S. Justice did confirm?
MR. BURNS: I have not seen any public comments by Justice Department officials this morning on this issue. But let me just tell you what our policy is.
Our policy is that when the United States Government -- our Embassy in Port-au-Prince, or our military officials connected with the U.N. Mission -- receive information about threats to Haitian individuals, of whatever political stripe, we pass that information on when we believe it's credible to the Haitian authorities.
We obviously believe that the Haitian authorities are responsible for security in Haiti, and that is the position of our government.
Q So would that be the position of the State Department, to pass on information of individuals only to the Government of Haiti?
MR. BURNS: I believe that our practice has been to pass on information directly to the government. It may be, in a number of cases, we've passed information directly to individuals as well. But I know that the practice has been generally to communicate with the government on this.
Q (Inaudible) on the status of travel of Mrs. Daliberti and Mrs. Barloon to Iraq?
MR. BURNS: I don't think I have a lot more than we discussed yesterday, but let me just see. They have applied for Iraqi visas through the United States Embassy in Amman, Jordan.
We have validated their passports for travel to Iraq. If they are granted the visas, they would then have to travel overland from Amman, where they will get the visa, to Baghdad. Of course, there haven't been international flights to Iraq in a number of years, going back to the Persian Gulf War. I believe that's about a 12-hour trip.
If they do get the visas, we would certainly be willing to accompany them to the border -- the Iraq-Jordanian border; U.S. officials from our Embassy in Jordan. At that point, we would ask our Polish protective power, individuals from the U.S. Interests Section in Baghdad, to meet them at the border to accompany them to Baghdad. I think our expectation would be that the Polish diplomats would be with them throughout their stay in Baghdad. They would help them arrange whatever appointments they want and need and would generally help them negotiate what will likely be a very difficult situation.
But I think that's all that I've got that's really in addition to what I said yesterday.
Q Have the Iraqis given any indication of why they would consider this visit? Is there some desire to show goodwill on Iraqi terms? What is this about?
MR. BURNS: As I understand it, Karen, Mrs. Barloon and Mrs. Daliberti have applied for the visas, but I don't know that the Iraqis have granted the visas. I believe that question is still up in the air.
Q Have any indications been given through diplomatic channels that they are willing to consider the request?
MR. BURNS: Not that I'm aware of. I don't know that we've even had any direct discussions with the Iraqis. As I understand it, both women are outside of Jordan. Our Embassy submitted visa applications to the Iraqi Embassy in Amman on their behalf. I don't know if there were specific discussions between our officials and Iraqi officials in that process, and I don't know if they've given us any indication of what they intend to do with this.
Q The Turkish Prime Minister, Mrs. Ciller, she was at Azerbaijan. When she met with the Azerbaijan leader, Mr. Aliyev, Mr. Aliyev asked to carry some message to the U.S. Government which, one of them, is giving some kind of self-determination in the Nagorno-Karabakh area to solve the Armenian and Azerbaijani conflict. How do you look for this kind of proposal?
MR. BURNS: I'm not aware of a specific proposal that was made. Of course, you're well aware of our position on Nagorno-Karabakh, but I'm not aware of any specific Turkish proposal on this.
Q Do you have anything on Cuba? New information on the expulsion of the two U.N. diplomats?
MR. BURNS: As you know, there was an announcement made last night from our Mission at the United Nations about this. I believe we actually put something out on paper.
Just briefly to summarize it, Cuba rejected the request of the United States that it waive diplomatic immunity for the two diplomats in question. Because of that, we have asked the two diplomats to leave the United States. They're required to leave the United States by midnight Sunday, April 16.
If they do not leave by that time, they will no longer have diplomatic status, or diplomatic immunity; and if they were to remain, they would be subject to arrest in New York.
Q (Inaudible) the Contact Group trying to get into Sarajevo; got the plane shot up. Did they ever get to Sarajevo? And did the Bosnians say, "Yes, we'll extend the cease-fire," or do you know yet?
MR. BURNS: As I mentioned yesterday, the Contact Group representatives were not able to land in Sarajevo because of a lack of assurance from the Serb authorities that their aircraft could land safely.
They went onto Zagreb, had a meeting with President Tudjman, and they have all returned to their capitals. What we hope to do is arrange a meeting with the Bosnian Government either in Sarajevo or outside of Sarajevo shortly, so that we might directly communicate to them our impressions of the discussions with Mr. Milosevic.
Q The Croatian (inaudible) agreement that it's going to be signed during Mrs. Ciller's visit to Washington next week?
MR. BURNS: I'm sorry I don't. But as we get closer to that, I'll be glad to talk more specifically about U.S.-Turkish relations and her visit.
Q Going back to Cuba, do you have any more information about a threat by Fidel Castro that if legislation proposed to tighten the trade ban on Cuba would go through, we would see another mass influx of Cuban refugees?
MR. BURNS: I spoke to this at great length yesterday. We have not received any warnings from the Cuban Government in our private, formal government-to-government discussions about any looming exodus; nothing at all whatsoever. Our migration talks begin again on Monday and Tuesday in New York. The migration agreement is in place. It is being enforced by both countries.
(Briefing concluded at 1:43)
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