U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE 95/04/20 DAILY PRESS BRIEFING OFFICE OF THE SPOKESMAN U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE DAILY PRESS BRIEFING I N D E X Thursday, April 20, 1995 Briefer: Nicholas Burns Joan Spero David Ruth ECONOMIC, BUSINESS, AND AGRICULTURAL AFFAIRS Introduction of Joan Spero, Under Secretary for Economic, Business, and Agricultural Affairs, and David Ruth, Senior Coordinator for Business Affairs . (1) State Department's Business Outreach Efforts .......... (2-11) --Promotion of Economic Security --Economic Architecture for Post-Cold War World-- Work with U.S. Business: APEC, 2020, Indo-U.S. Econ. Commercial Sub-Comm., Gore-Mubarak Initiative (2-3) --Promotion of Peace & Democracy ...................... (3) --Economic Support of Middle East Peace Process-- Middle East Development Bank ...................... (3) --The America Desk .................................... (3-4) Intellectual Property Legislation ................... (4) Bilateral Investment Treaties ....................... (4) Corruption .......................................... (4) Role of Coordinator for Business Affairs .............. (5-11) MISCELLANEOUS Oklahoma Bombing--Report of Arrests of Suspects ....... (11,13,15) --Offers of Foreign Government Assistance to U.S. ..... (13-15) --Security Profile at State Dept. Facilities .......... (15-18) --DS Agent from Dallas Office to Assist FBI ........... (16) --Possibility of Advance Warnings Given to State Dept. (17) --Dept. Cable to Diplomatic Posts re Security ......... (18) IRAQ Detained Americans--Polish Diplomat Visit Attempt ..... (12-13) --Status of Visa Applications of Wives ................ (12-13) NORTH KOREA Framework Agreement Talks in Berlin ................... (19-21, 24-25) IAEA Inspection of Nuclear Sites ...................... (20) EAST ASIA AND PACIFIC REGION Spratly Islands Dispute ............................... (22) IRAN Report of Americans Convicted of Espionage ............ (22) LIBYA Report of Libyan Aircraft Landing in Saudi Arabia ..... (11-12, 22-23) RUSSIA Secretary Christopher/FM Kozyrev Meeting Plans ........ (23-24) BOSNIA-HERZEGOVINA Ambassador Jackovich in Vienna ........................ (26)
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
DAILY PRESS BRIEFING
THURSDAY, APRIL 20, 1995, 12:54 P.M.
(ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED)
MR. JOHNSON: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. We're going to begin today's briefing with a special briefing by Under Secretary of State for Economic, Business, and Agricultural Affairs Joan Spero, and the newly designated Senior Coordinator for Business Affairs, David Ruth. They're going to talk about the State Department's business outreach efforts -- that is, our efforts to better assist U.S. companies doing business abroad and to consult with business on a more systematic basis in order to ensure that the views and the concerns of the American business community are heard and fully taken into account in the Department's policy-making process.
The Secretary's decision to establish the position of Senior Coordinator for Business Affairs reflects his personal commitment to giving U.S. economic interests and support of U.S. business top priority in the formulation of our foreign policy.
David Ruth recently came to the Department from American Express to serve as Senior Coordinator for Business Affairs, and we welcome him.
Under Secretary Spero and David will be glad to answer your questions at the conclusion of their remarks.
UNDER SECRETARY SPERO: Thank you. Good afternoon. I'll start off with some general comments about what we're doing in support of our economic mission here at the State Department, and then I'll turn it over to David, who will go into more detail about some of the specific work that we're doing for U.S. companies. Then we'll be happy to take your questions.
Secretary Christopher has said that the promotion of economic security is one of his highest priorities, and we're trying to carry out that mission and those priorities in three principal ways.
First of all, we're working to build and modernize what we call the economic architecture for the post-Cold War world. Many of you are familiar with the preparations that we're now going through for the G-7 Summit in Halifax. We are doing this not only in a multilateral way, but regionally and bilaterally. All of this is with a view to creating an international system that is more open, more market-oriented, and that is better for world prosperity, and we believe better for world peace.
In doing all of that, we are increasingly working here with U.S. business. Let me just give you a couple of quick examples. One is APEC, the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum. The purpose of APEC is to foster open trade and investment in the region.
In my view, APEC is an example of what I would call a modern, international organization in that it integrates business directly into its activities. Business sits at the table in the APEC working groups; they roll up their sleeves; they deal with very practical problems like telecommunications or energy or transportation. So they are part of the process.
Business also plays a very important formal and informal advisory role at the policy level. In fact, business was quite important in developing the agreement in Bogor last November which called for the achievement of free trade and investment in the region by 2020, and we continue to work very closely with the business community as we are trying to figure out how to get from here to 2020.
Another couple of examples of the role of business in this new post- Cold War architecture. I've just come back from India where we re- launched after five years the Indo-U.S. Economic Commercial Sub- Commission. I co-chair that with the Deputy Finance Minister of India.
We and our Indian counterparts agreed to focus in this coming year on the issue of developing India's infrastructure. That's a subject that's of great interest to U.S. business. In fact, we work very closely with U.S. and Indian businesses as we develop the agenda for the meeting, and in fact, we will have a working group of this sub-commission composed exclusively of Indian and U.S. companies. That's a model that we are applying elsewhere.
We have established the so-called Gore-Mubarak initiative -- the U.S.-Egypt partnership for economic growth and development. I traveled with the Vice President to Egypt to have the first meeting of that commission within the last month.
That commission also has a joint private sector commission that will work in very practical ways to foster the growth of the private sector in Egypt and to foster greater U.S.-Egyptian trade and investment.
The second thing we're doing on the economic front is using economic policy to support peace and democracy, the more traditional missions of this Department.
I personally have been very much involved in the economic side of the Middle East peace process, and again here, the private sector is playing a very important role. There was a meeting, some of you were there, in Casablanca last October. There will be a follow-up meeting in Amman this October.
Those meetings involve not only government leaders but business people, and they were designed to foster economic cooperation among businesses in the region, designed to support not only prosperity but also the peace process.
We are working now on a Middle East Development Bank. Again, that Development Bank will be heavily focused on lending to -- should it actually be agreed and implemented -- will focus heavily on lending to the private sector.
We're doing similar things in Russia and the Newly Independent States, Haiti, and South Africa -- involving the business community directly in our activities.
Finally, we are -- and this is really what we want to focus on today -- we also work on a very practical level to ensure that American workers and American business can compete in the global economy. That's what we call the "America Desk." The message has gone out in the Department and abroad that economic policy matters and that looking out for U.S. business matters.
The embassies, we believe, are absolutely critical in this effort. From my ex-business perspective, I see the embassies as a distribution channel, a delivery service for a lot of the products and services that the Department offers to business. We do a couple of things primarily.
First, we support U.S. business in its efforts to export and invest in a variety of countries around the world. We work closely with our colleagues in the foreign commercial service, and where there is no foreign commercial service, we do it ourselves.
Increasingly, we're finding that the leadership of the ambassador and the expertise, knowledge, and contacts of the economic and political officers in the embassies are very important tools for supporting business.
There's another thing we do, and I don't think this is recognized or understood enough, and that is problem-solving on behalf of U.S. businesses.
One of the biggest problems we deal with on a day-to-day basis, that our businesses face as they operate abroad, is intellectual property. We're constantly working with governments abroad to urge them to develop, to pass, to implement, to enforce intellectual property legislation.
Another area: We've negotiated bilateral investment treaties around the world that provide fair treatment for our businesses, and we work with local governments to make sure that those treaties are implemented.
Another long-term example that I'll cite briefly is dealing with the problem of corruption. One of the major issues facing our companies around the world -- I hear from them constantly when I travel -- is the practice of bribery, which is prohibited by U.S. law but is fair game in a lot of countries.
We've pressed hard with other developed countries through the OECD, and we've successfully concluded a code on bribery. That's just a first step. We're now pushing the other developed countries to develop and implement things -- things that we would take for granted here, like you can't deduct bribes from your tax return. (Laughter) You can in some countries. We think that's kind of basic.
We're also taking the show on the road to developing countries. At the Summit of the Americas, for example, last December, one of the initiatives that we agreed on was expanding the work on combatting corruption, which is increasingly seen as undermining democracies around the world.
We've been working hard for the last couple of years. I think we've been able to bring about a dramatic change in the way the embassies do business. Business people, whom I've known for many years, tell me that whereas before they never would have thought of going to the U.S. embassy, now it's their first port of call when they go to do business abroad.
Our goal for the next two years is to try to bring that same perspective to Washington, to bring business closer to the Department itself. To explain some of that, I'm going to turn the podium over to David Ruth.
MR. RUTH: I have some of my own private sector experience with government to draw on, but I've talked to a number of companies over the past month or two to see what it is they want from State and what it is they feel they get and where we need to do better.
First of all -- and Joan has described much of this -- they want advice and orientation as they're planning strategies for a market. They want to know who's who, what's the politics, what's the economic policy, what's the current state of relations with the United States, and where are some of the leverage points.
Second, they want assistance with business problems, either in policy or sometimes very practical things like making sure that they can get in the door to make a bid. In some instances, they want advocacy, which is to say, a visible expression of U.S. official interest, which, coming from an ambassador or a senior official here at the Department of State, can often be extremely effective in supporting a business deal, particularly when there's government support for our competition.
In the past, State wasn't always seen as ready or willing to use those assets and exercise our influence. Frankly, this was often frustrating for a business, especially when other governments were acting on behalf of their companies' own interests. That has changed over the last few years, particularly in the embassies.
However, companies still tell us that it's difficult for them here in Washington; it's difficult to find their way around this building; it's difficult to get a fast response sometimes. What is more, they don't always feel as though their views are as fully integrated into the policymaking process as they should be, which is the point of my office, which is the point of the creation of the role of the Coordinator for Business Affairs.
Our role has three separate parts. The first is to be a service center for business, a first point of contact for companies, to help them tap into the resources of the Department. And part of that is really speed. When a company is trying to make a deal, sometimes being able to move fast, get a fast word of support, some fast information, will make all the difference between them getting it or somebody else getting it -- a foreign competitor getting it.
Part of our service is going to be to keep track of companies more closely so we're not just giving them one-shot advice, but we're following them through the building and helping them to make sure we've got effective follow-up and effective action.
Another extremely important part of this, from my own experience, is that we are now coordinating much more with other federal agencies -- the Department of Commerce, the Export-Import Bank, the Treasury Department, a whole range of other agencies that are involved in trade promotion work. And we coordinate among ourselves more than used to be the case. It used to be you'd have to go door-to-door and make sure that Commerce was talking to State was talking to Treasury. We now can bring that all together.
There's an Advocacy Center that works interagency in a trade promotion coordinating committee, that is also an interagency body that allows us to talk to each other, and that works a lot better than it used to.
So this kind of service is really -- it works for a big company like my former company, but it also is particularly useful for the smaller and the medium-size companies that don't have the Washington resources, don't know their way around the building, and need a first-point of contact and some additional assistance.
The second part of our role will be to encourage outreach to the business community to make sure we're consulting business as we make policies that affect their interests. A lot of this happens as a daily matter here and has for years. People talk to business about things like civil aviation, commodities policy, telecommunications policy, a whole range of things where business has a direct interest and where State has a lead negotiating role.
And as Joan has outlined, there's a number of new policy initiatives in APEC, in India, in the Middle East, where business is now being brought into the process more closely and earlier and more intensely to make sure the outcome reflects their economic interests.
We'll also be helping the Secretary and other senior policy-makers get the benefit of hearing business views, and the Secretary is already doing a lot of this. We have a lot more planned to really bring people through the door so that on a regular basis we're getting private sector advice.
I should hasten to point out that business is not always going to be happy with the policies we decide on in the end. The Department has responsibility for a wide range of cross-cutting interests, everything from human rights and national security matters and environmental issues. These are not always going to work in favor, in support of what business would have us do.
However, even in these areas, we have a particular responsibility to make sure that we hear business concerns about them, understand the economic costs, the economic impact, and weigh those concerns in the process.
Finally, the last piece is really making all this permanent. We will be working to integrate support for business as a permanent part of the State Department culture. We're already involved heavily in training. We're training people when they come into the Foreign Service for the first time. We're training Desk Officers. We're training DCMs, talking to the Ambassadors as they go out the door, and a lot of that is already having its effect.
So I'll conclude. The three pieces that we're doing are -- in fulfilling this mission to use the State Department's assets more effectively for business really are direct assistance to companies, greater outreach on policy issues, and making this a permanent part of the culture. Thank you.
Q I'd be curious, how do you prevent individuals in embassies who are out there now charged with this new intensity mission to help business to treat all companies fairly? You know, I could see where a company would go to a political officer and say, "You know, if you ask the Ambassador to make this a high priority issue, if you leave the Foreign Service in five years or so, you can be assured of a job." How do you make sure that there's a --
MR. RUTH: There's clear ethical guidelines that apply to all Foreign Service Officers, and every year -- I've just been through it for my first time -- every officer must go through a briefing that spells out in great detail exactly what one can talk to a company about, especially if a company might be a potential employer. So there's very clear guidelines on that front.
The other probably more common issue is what do you do when two American companies, both of whom are going to be exporting products from the United States, come to the embassy and are involved in the same bid? There we're committed to give them exactly equal treatment. Before we do any advocacy, we do a due diligence process, which we ask the company to tell us a number of things about what they're going to do, how much they're going to export, who their partners are, and if they know of any other American competitors; also, what other foreign government involvement there is.
Based on that, if there is more than one American competitor, the Ambassador, who's the ultimate arbiter of this, goes in and really speaks on behalf of all of the American bidders. If it comes then down in a re- bid where there's just one American company, the advocacy will go directly to that point.
Q Mr. Ruth, on your last point involving competing points of view, a lot of people -- a very robust part of the American economy is the export of conventional arms, aircraft, armored vehicles. A lot of people, some of them in this building, think that one of the problems in the world is that there are too many arms awash in the world, particularly in places like south Asia.
Given that an arms manufacturer comes to you, what is the philosophy that the State Department uses? On whom is the burden of the proof to -- in other words, if there is no compelling reason not to sell, then will you promote the sale of arms? Or is there a different process or mechanism working here?
MR. RUTH: It's a fairly clear standard where our foreign policy interests will determine how much we would support a defense sale like that. Commercial considerations will be there, but the security and foreign policy considerations weigh in quite highly. Our challenge really is to make sure that they don't weigh in -- that we are making that we're up to date on what the technology is. Is the technology still defense-oriented? Is it defense consistent? But where there's a foreign policy concern about those exports, that will weigh out.
Q And that would prevail over a company saying that if we don't do it, the British or the Germans or the French will do it?
MR. RUTH: It may, although the availability of the product elsewhere will be weighed into the decision, too, and sometimes that would be compelling. But our export controls policies would be driven by our foreign policy objectives.
Q So are you saying that ultimately, when push comes to shove, the State Department still puts a priority on foreign policy, as opposed to deals?
MR. RUTH: There are a number of competing priorities here, and what's happening now is business and economic interests are higher on the list than they used to be. The Department still has to weigh a whole range of other considerations, and the challenge is to make sure that we don't completely ignore and don't push the economic issues off the table when, in fact, those are real, vital American interests.
It's not when push comes to shove. There's more of a discussion now and more of a review of economic impact before you make a policy decision, and that's really the objective. But ultimately foreign policy objectives on security matters, on a range of other things might well weigh out if they're vital U.S. interests.
Q How long have you been on the job?
MR. RUTH: Just about two months.
Q Would the State Department refuse to help a company if there was a problem -- like with FDA -- or if there were health issues involved? For instance, if a tobacco company wanted to dump cigarettes on a foreign market, would the State Department help them further that project?
MR. RUTH: For legal products, we would assist companies. We do ask questions about environmental impact and things like that. Those come into the due diligence process as we're asking companies the information we need before we go in and support them or advocate on their behalf.
But for a product that's legally available, yes; we do support a whole range of products.
Q How are you getting the word out to American companies about all these new services and new philosophy? Are you being proactive in approaching smaller-sized American companies, saying "We can offer you these services overseas"?
MR. RUTH: Yes. Mostly we've been talking to Washington-based associations and getting the word out through them and through a lot of those larger companies. But we've started a process -- it's harder to reach small business to make this available, but I met this morning, actually, with the National Association of State Development Agencies, which is the state-level people involved in economic development. Those are a good distribution network for small business. They're talking to small business all the time. Small business is more likely to come to the city or the state level for help.
So once we connect with them and get our phone number and services out to them, that will be a channel to come back. But there's a lot more to do. I've started traveling around the country to sort of talk about this, too, and to make sure that smaller business-level people have access.
Q I just missed something in the preceding question. You said that if a product was legally available, you'd essentially go to bat for that company. Does that mean legally available in the U.S., or -- for instance, a pesticide that's banned in the U.S. but is available in other countries? Would you --
MR. RUTH: I don't know the answer to that question. I'll have to look into it and get back to you. I don't know exactly how far we would go and how much we would look at it. I know on environmental issues it weighs into the consideration, but whether the standard would be U.S. legal, international legal -- what standard, I'm just not sure. So I'd have to get back to you on that one.
Q How much of the business service offering advice you give here -- how does that duplicate what's already on offer at the Commerce Department, and why would a company come to you rather than -- come here rather than go to the Commerce Department?
MR. RUTH: Commerce and State have different but complementary functions. The Commerce Department, which has got a very active export promotion function, particularly in the last couple of years, can be very single-minded in its pursuit of business and can be much more focused and single-minded.
They come to State because partly sometimes policy will affect them constructively where we're leading policy efforts, as Joan talked about. Sometimes it cuts the other way on things like export control. So they come to talk to us about that because they need to work through the process.
But they also come to us to access the system. The people here -- the embassy network and the State Department people in the embassies -- tend to be people who have more policy-level contacts with the government, whereas the Commerce Department's commercial service person is setting up trade shows, really meat-and-potatoes contacts, person-to- person trade leads, information sharing.
The State Department person has a complementary function which is more insight into what's going on in policy. They're more likely to be the ones involved in trade negotiations so the company can feed into that. They'll have policy-level advice.
So that's one of the differences, and the other difference is some of the resources here at State. A lot of what companies come to meet for now is, as they're thinking about a region, they want a briefing from people who are sort of looking at the overall politics, economics, security issues in the region and help them make a decision about where to go, what to do, and what to do when they get there.
So it's different levels of advice, but it's complementary.
Q Thank you.
MR. RUTH: Thanks.
(The briefing by Under Secretary Spero and Mr. Ruth concluded at 1:18 p.m., after which Mr. Burns began the Daily Press Briefing.)
MR. BURNS: Good afternoon. I don't have any specific opening statement to make. I would like to thank Joan Spero and David Ruth for their presentation. I'll be glad to go right to your questions.
Q The Home Office in Britain has announced that they have returned a possible suspect arrested at Heathrow this morning to the United States. Can you give us anything on that?
MR. BURNS: I can't. I haven't seen that report. I've not seen any report like that, Andrea. I think, in general, obviously, all of us as Americans are outraged at what happened yesterday. It's not going to be productive or possible for me to speculate on the bombing, the aspect of who might have been responsible for this horrific bombing.
At this point, we have no information on a foreign link to the bombing of the building Oklahoma City. There is an investigation underway. It's being led by the FBI, and I'd refer you to the FBI for comment.
Q Nick, does the State Department have a view of Libyan pilgrams going to Mecca? Is that in violation of the sanctions, flying to Mecca, or flying to Saudi Arabia?
MR. BURNS: We addressed this yesterday. I'd be glad to do it again today.
Q (Inaudible) not doing it again. We're not talking about via Egypt. We're talking about Libya, and Libyan airplanes.
MR. BURNS: We certainly have a view of Libyan pilgrams going to Saudi Arabia via Libyan aircraft. It's a violation of the U.N. sanctions. We think those sanctions should be upheld, so we therefore oppose this type of action.
We understand that yesterday a Libyan aircraft took off from Libya with Libyan pilgrims aboard, that apparently it landed in Saudi Arabia, and we believe, although we don't have final confirmation, that this aircraft may have returned to Libya. If that is the case, we will certainly want to talk to the Saudi authorities about this action because, as you know, U.N. member states have a responsibility to uphold U.N. sanctions. Part of the sanctions regime in place is that if Libyan aircraft do fly to other country's air space or land in other countries, the receiving countries -- in this case, Saudi Arabia -- is not to service the aircraft or aid and assist the air crew in any way. The obligation is to impound the aircraft.
So we have made some inquiries this morning at the United Nations in the Sanctions Committee. We're concerned about this. We're looking into, and I may have something more to say about it at a later time.
Q Did you try again to have the Polish diplomat see the Americans in Iraq?
MR. BURNS: Yes, we have. Mr. Krystosik -- Ryszard Krystosik -- the Polish diplomat who represents our interests in Baghdad, tried again this morning to see Mr. Daliberti and Mr. Barloon, the two detained Americans. He was not allowed to do so.
I saw a press report just before I came out here from Baghdad saying that they have now reversed themselves -- the Iraqis --, that they will not permit weekly visits. They will only permit visits once every two weeks. I can't corroborate that or substantiate it because it's just a press report. I thought I'd mention it because it's another indication, if it is true, of the unjustifiable nature of the detention of these two individuals; and we would call upon the Iraqi Government to release them expeditiously.
Q Do you know anything about the progress on visa applications? What the status is?
MR. BURNS: I know that the applications have been given to the Iraqi Government by our Embassy in Amman. The Iraqi Government has not yet responded to those applications. Again, we hope that the Iraqi Government will agree that these two women have a right to see their husbands and visit them in Baghdad.
Q When you say the Polish diplomats tried to see the Americans, did they go to the gate or was it a telephone call?
MR. BURNS: I don't believe that they went to the gate of the Abu Gharaib Prison. I believe that Mr. Krystosik phoned his contacts in the Iraqi Ministry of Foreign Affairs. He was told this morning that it would not be possible -- once again, the third day in a row -- to see them.
Q When we get word -- how does our government get word about the visa being approved? Would it be to our people in Amman or would it be through the Polish connection?
MR. BURNS: I would conceive of two ways. The Iraqis could either contact our Embassy in Amman. That was the place where the applications were submitted. Or I think it's probably more predictable that the Iraqis would inform the Polish diplomats at the U.S. Interests Section in Baghdad. We don't have diplomats in Baghdad so we work through the Poles.
Q Bouncing back to the Oklahoma situation. Prime Minister Major was on the air just a while ago saying Britain had offered assistance and it would be manifest in a few hours. Is this a place -- are you in a position, or could someone, maybe by paper, give us some notion of the foreign assistance being pledged and being provided regarding the terrorists?
MR. BURNS: I can tell you, Barry, there has been a tremendous response from all around the world, from governments all around the world, both expressing condolences to the American people and to the U.S. Government about this atrocious, horrific act.
I can also tell you that a number of governments have offered assistance to the United States to help in the aftermath, to help the people of Oklahoma City deal with this crisis.
I don't have a complete account for you of how many governments have responded, have called or written us; but I do know it's been a very large number of countries that have communicated with us.
Q (Inaudible) particularly with all those people buried beneath rubble? Do you happen to know about that?
MR. BURNS: Excuse me. I didn't hear the beginning of your question.
Q Various countries, such as Israel, have had experience with terrorism themselves and often provide dog teams, all sorts of equipment. Do you have anything in that field?
MR. BURNS: I know that the Israeli leadership has been in touch with us to express their condolences. I think we've have letters from a number of senior Israeli Government officials. We've also had an offer of assistance from the Israeli Government.
At this point, I think that's a decision for the authorities in Oklahoma to make, and it's for FEMA to make as to whether or not we want to accept assistance from foreign countries.
Q But the Israeli Government offered their rescue team that had worked successfully in Buenos Aires. Is there any diplomatic reason not to accept such assistance? So far, it has not been accepted.
MR. BURNS: There is certainly no diplomatic reason not to. I think at this point, it's not going to be the decision of the State Department as to whether or not we should accept offers of assistance. It has to be the authorities on the ground, both the Federal authorities through FEMA and the local authorities in Oklahoma. They're in the best position to make the decision as to whether or not they would, indeed, be helped at this point by foreign assistance.
So we're not saying we're closed to it, but I am saying it's really the proper decision of the people on the ground in Oklahoma City.
Q Is the State Department coordinating these offers? FEMA may only know that the offers are out there without knowing the specifics. How's that being bridged.
MR. BURNS: We're paying careful attention to the offers of assistance that come in. We're communicating them to FEMA.
As you know, the White House has taken the lead. There's an interagency group that is meeting to coordinate what the Federal Government can do to assist the people of Oklahoma, and the State Department is participating in that.
Obviously, our people are passing all this information on to the proper authorities.
Q Can you get us a listing at some point today of who has offered what?
MR. BURNS: I'd be glad to attempt to do that. We are receiving most of this information via cable from our embassies. Some of it has come in independent of our embassies, but I'd be glad to try to give you a summary. I'm not sure I'll be able to give you a complete list.
Q Nick, we are told -- along the line of questions you probably can't answer but compelled to ask -- that within the last two hours a man was arrested in Italy, an alleged suspect who was carrying timing devices with him. Can you tell us anything about that?
MR. BURNS: I can't, Steve. I have not seen that report, so therefore I can't comment in any way on it.
Q Nick, have U.S. posts abroad have been asked to step up security in any way?
MR. BURNS: Yes. In general, let me tell you what steps the Department has taken in the last 24 hours about security.
The Bureau of Diplomatic Security, which is responsible for the security of our installations here and overseas, has taken measures to upgrade security here at the State Department building in Washington and our facilities in New York and New Hampshire. The majority of these measures were implemented late in the afternoon April 19 -- yesterday.
For obvious reasons, I'm not going to discuss the specifics of what we are doing, but these security measures will be in place indefinitely.
Furthermore, our U.S. diplomatic missions -- a considerable number of them, of course; over 150 overseas -- have been informed of the bombing. Each will review their respective security situations. The Ambassador or the Chief of Mission in each of them will take any additional steps necessary to protect our personnel and our facilities worldwide.
Q Can you explain why New York and New Hampshire? Were there particular threats in any place, or is this --
MR. BURNS: No. I'm talking about the three major facilities that the State Department manages in the United States: of course, this building; we also have a building in New York; and we have a visa processing facility in New Hampshire. Those are the three buildings that we have responsibility for.
The State Department also has offices in other Federal buildings around the country, but we are not primarily responsible, as I understand it, for those particular offices. We are responsible for these three offices, and that's why I mention the three.
Q Have there been any threats to State Department employees or facilities?
MR. BURNS: I checked a couple of times this morning on that. As of about 15 minutes ago, there have been no threats against the Main State Department building here in Washington since the bombing yesterday. I am not aware of any threats against U.S. diplomatic installations overseas that are connected to the bombing in Oklahoma City.
Q Is there consideration being given for some sort of warning to Americans abroad -- private citizens?
MR. BURNS: I'm not aware of any specific warnings that we've given to private citizens abroad because of the bombing of the building in Oklahoma City yesterday.
Q A diplomatic security agent was sent from Dallas to assist in Oklahoma, primarily, I've been told, with helping in tracing passports in case that's necessary. Do you know if this person has been utilized at all by the operation there?
MR. BURNS: Obviously, the Department will do what we are asked to do by the main agencies responsible to help with the investigation. I can confirm that a diplomatic security agent of the State Department -- Diplomatic Security agent from our office in Dallas -- travelled yesterday to Oklahoma City to assist the FBI in this investigation.
Q Is he the only State Department employee there?
MR. BURNS: He's the only one that I am aware of. The question was, "Is he the only one who is in Oklahoma?" The only one that I'm aware of. Yes, Judd.
Q Going back to the question, just before this one, when you were asked about threats. I believe you answered, as regards U.S. missions overseas, that there have been no threats connected to the Oklahoma City bombing. Have there been other threats of late that are not connected to the Oklahoma City bombing, or did I misunderstand you?
MR. BURNS: I don't think you misunderstood. I think you restated my answer correctly. I have no information about any other threats that may have been made against our diplomatic installations over the course of the last 24 hours.
It is, of course, a fact of life that American diplomats overseas have to live periodically, especially in some regions, with threats to their security. There have been threats over the years, any number of threats against U.S. installations. But as far as we know, there have been no threats to U.S. diplomatic missions during the last 24 hours that are related to Oklahoma City.
Q Let me follow, and related to Steve's question yesterday to the Secretary, Nick. Were there in the -- warnings given in advance of some terrorist attack coming against U.S., either abroad or here -- can you confirm there were or were not warnings given in advance?
MR. BURNS: I am not aware of any warnings prior to the attack yesterday in Oklahoma City. I'm not aware of any warnings that the State Department may have had about that attack.
Q There was a newspaper report that Israel had warned the United States of some imminent attack?
MR. BURNS: I'm not aware of any such warning. I have no information to share with you on that.
Q If there had been a serious warning, would you have been aware?
MR. BURNS: I think it's fair to say, if there had been a serious warning, yes. I am simply not aware of any such warning to the U.S. Government in recent days about the attack that resulted, unfortunately, yesterday in Oklahoma City.
Q In terms of the Libyan pilgrims, do you --
Q Can we stay on this until --
MR. BURNS: Why don't we stay on this subject. I'll be glad to go back to Libya.
Q I just wanted to ask if there's been any request to review or to tighten up visa requirements in the wake of this?
MR. BURNS: I'm not aware of any. I've not been informed of any action to tighten up visa requirements, no. We pay a lot of attention to the threat of terrorism against the United States. We have a very active program worldwide, an anti-terrorism program, in which we're cooperating with a great number of countries.
Certainly, the visa process is one way by which the United States Government -- and specifically the Department of State -- can be helpful to the American people in protecting this country against terrorist threats. But I'm not aware of any specific change in our policy over the last 24 hours because of the Oklahoma City bombing.
Q You said that no warnings or no plans to issue any warnings for unofficial Americans -- but official Americans overseas, have they been told to lay low, to keep a low profile, stay in doors, anything like that? Or is this being left to the embassies' discretion?
MR. BURNS: The Department sent a cable to all of our diplomatic and consular posts last evening apprising them of the bombing and the severity of the bombing, and asking each of those diplomatic installations to undertake a review of their security measures and to make whatever enhancements that may be necessary. These decisions will be made by the Chiefs of Mission -- the Ambassadors, or the other Chiefs of Mission -- in each of these countries.
Q My question would have been, there's -- a Mr. Cannistraro, the former counter-terror chief for CIA, told Mr. Gertz that this bombing looks like a job coming out of the Middle East, possibly a group related to the Rahman people on trial in New York. They I think announced this morning definitely that the bomb was a fertilizer and oil bomb which, of course, was what was used in the Trade Center. Have you any comments on -- and a lot of other people have been saying, "Hey, this looks like the pattern, the style of a Middle East bombing, especially Hizbollah or the Jihad people." Do you have any comment at all about the type of bombs, particularly?
MR. BURNS: Again, it would be irresponsible of me and unproductive to speculate on the source of this bombing.
Let me reiterate a point I made at the beginning of the briefing. At this point, we have no information on a foreign link to the bombing.
Q On another subject. There's been a report out of Berlin that the North Korea talks have broken off. Is it as bad as all that, or is there some sort of silver lining that we're not aware of?
MR. BURNS: I wish I could say there was a silver lining. It's true that from our vantage point the United States and North Korea had an unproductive meeting today in Berlin, and we have not made the progress in this latest round in Berlin that we had hoped to make.
That said, we are prepared to continue meeting to discuss these issues if the North Korean delegation is willing. Our delegation will remain in Berlin until at least the weekend. We have been in close touch with the Republic of Korea, the South Korean Government, in Berlin, in Washington and in Seoul today.
Q Have you had any indication from the North Koreans that they're willing to come back to the table or of any steps they might take?
MR. BURNS: I received these reports just before coming out here, and I've had a quick conversation with some of our senior people who have responsibility for this issue. At this point I don't have any details on the substance of what the North Koreans told us or what we may have told them at the conclusion of the talks this afternoon. They did not meet this morning; they met this afternoon. They concluded the talks just before I came out here. There is a public comment from the North Korean negotiator that Reuters has carried, and I have that to go on; but that's about all I've got to go on.
But I want to be very clear about our position here. We remain interested in continuing discussions with the North Korean delegation. We are going to keep our delegation, headed by Dr. Gary Samore, in Berlin; and we hope very much that we can continue the discussions.
Q Has North Korea told the United States that it will begin to refuel?
MR. BURNS: I'm not aware that they have told us that. Again, I don't have any details on the substance of the discussions, but I know that there was a quick phone call from our delegation to Washington. I have a summary of that, and I have no information that they have said that they will in any way break the freeze.
Q (Inaudible) -- the Secretary had already talked to China about this issue earlier in the week. Have there been any conversations or contacts with the Chinese on this matter today since this development?
MR. BURNS: I'm not aware of any conversations today. But you're correct that in his meeting with the Chinese Foreign Minister in New York on Monday, Secretary Christopher had an extensive discussion of this issue. We, of course, would appreciate it if the Chinese Government or any other government could use influence on North Korea to convince them that the implementation of the Agreed Framework is in North Korea's interest, as well as the interests of the United States, the Republic of Korea, Japan and the international community.
Q The IAEA is the monitor of the Korean reactor. It's germane now, I think, to ask how and when they do a check, and does the U.S. -- in light of how badly negotiations are going, does the U.S. say to them, "Hey, keep a close eye. Would you mind going over there next Thursday?" How is this monitoring mechanism going to operate now?
MR. BURNS: Certainly, this agreement, of course, is not going to be based solely on trust. It's going to be based on verification, and there are verification measures in place. Certainly we are in continuous touch with the IAEA and other international authorities on this issue.
We hope very much that the North Koreans will decide that it's in their best interest to maintain the freeze.
Q Do you happen to know the last time the IAEA did an inspection or when they might be doing another one?
MR. BURNS: I don't know that specifically, Barry, but I think it's a question we certainly should be able to get you an answer on.
Q Is it time to go back to the Security Council now on this issue?
MR. BURNS: We've made clear that we want to continue these talks in Berlin, that both the United States and the North Koreans and all the other parties involved, including the Republic of Korea, have an interest in that, in implementing the Agreed Framework.
We have also made clear that if North Korea breaks the freeze on its nuclear program, we would consult with our allies about returning this issue to the U.N. Security Council, including the possibility of seeking sanctions. That is, if North Korea breaks the freeze. I have no indication today that North Korea has taken that decision.
Q Nick, if they don't -- if they decide not to resume the talks but they maintain the freeze, then the situation stays where it is.
MR. BURNS: We certainly hope that the North Koreans will choose to maintain the freeze. That is an issue of first priority for us.
Q But if they -- I know we've been over this ground, but if they maintain the freeze and they don't want to talk any more about the reactors, then that's fine with the United States?
MR. BURNS: It's not fine with the United States. Maintaining the freeze is of paramount importance. What is also of paramount importance is to implement the Agreed Framework. That is the purpose of the negotiations, and we remain willing to negotiate along those lines.
Q Do we know if the North Koreans are still in Berlin?
MR. BURNS: Excuse me?
Q Do we know if the North Koreans are still in Berlin?
MR. BURNS: I believe the North Koreans are still in Berlin. Yes.
Q Just to put a final dot over the "i," does the United States consider the North Koreans have walked out of the talks at this point?
MR. BURNS: It's unclear to me, to be direct with you. We just have a sketchy report, a summary report from our delegation in Berlin. If you look at the press reports and what the North Korean negotiator apparently has said to the press in Berlin, you might draw that conclusion.
We are hoping that's not the case, and that's why we're going to keep our delegation in Berlin. We remain interested in discussing this.
Q Another subject. You said last week that you had been in contact -- the Department had been in contact
with all six claimants to the Spratly Islands. Can you tell us to what end those contacts have accrued at this point? Are you looking toward a conference or some sort of settlement of that issue?
MR. BURNS: I did say last week, and I think I repeated again yesterday, that we have been involved in a number of discussions with the claimants to the Spratly Islands. We take no legal view on the differing claims. The most recent substantive discussion was in New York three days ago when Secretary Christopher discussed this in some detail with the Chinese Foreign Minister.
But certainly in the course of our official and unofficial contacts with the claimants, we have had discussions about the Spratlys.
Q Filing break.
Q Is there some effort being made to put together a formal body for dealing with it?
MR. BURNS: I'm not aware of any effort to put together a formal body.
Q Have you been able to clarify the report from Iran about three Americans convicted of espionage?
MR. BURNS: We have not. We have asked the Swiss Government, which is our protective power in Tehran, to inquire with the Iranian authorities about this press report that three Americans may have been convicted of espionage.
Since the report did not reveal the names of the individuals, it's very difficult for us to have any further comment on this. But we have asked the Swiss Government to make inquiries and to report back to us.
Q You know of one person there who's been charged with espionage. It's the other two that you're not clear on. Is that right?
MR. BURNS: Yes. We do know that in 1992, I believe, a Mr. Meier was arrested and convicted of espionage, and he is presently incarcerated in Iran.
Q On the question of the Libyan pilgrims, do you have any view on Egypt allowing the plane to fly over its territory? Is that a breaking of sanctions in your view, and have you made representations to the Egyptians?
MR. BURNS: It's not at all clear that the Egyptian Government gave overflight permission to this particular aircraft yesterday. That's obviously something that is of interest to the U.N. Sanctions Committee, but I don't want to confirm the allegation that the Egyptian Government was complicit in this violation of the sanctions.
I would note that the Egyptian Government has played a very constructive role throughout the past couple of days. The Egyptian Government went through the normal procedure of asking the Sanctions Committee for a formal exception; and it was on that basis that the United States decided, after having consulted with Egypt and a number of other countries, that it was really the proper and right thing to do to allow Libyan pilgrims to fulfill one of their obligations under Islam, which is during the course of one's lifetime to make a pilgrimage to Mecca.
We did not think that on humanitarian grounds these individuals -- Libyan citizens -- ought to be penalized for the enormous mistakes that the Qadhafi Government has made over the years, particularly in this case the fact that we believe that the Qadhafi Government is implicated in the bombing of Pan Am 103.
Q Do you mean the plane took off without Egyptian (inaudible)?
MR. BURNS: I think that's really a question that you should direct to the Egyptian Government. I'm just saying that I don't want to confirm that the Egyptian Government had knowledge of this overflight, because I simply don't know if that's the case or not.
Q Do you have a date yet for the Kozyrev visit?
MR. BURNS: No, I don't. I don't have a date for the --
Q What accounts for the problem or the delay apparently in scheduling this? Is there a substantive reason for this?
MR. BURNS: Secretary Christopher very much wants to have a meeting with Foreign Minister Kozyrev prior to the Secretary's and the President's trip to Moscow on May 9, 10 and 11. We're trying to work out a mutually convenient date and time for the meeting.
Q Does there seem to be a problem -- a substantive problem in doing that, or some resistance or delay on the part of the Russians to setting this up?
MR. BURNS: I would point you towards the time honored problem of scheduling difficulties as the primary cause of this.
Q Two clarifications, if I could, please, Nick. One, on Korea. I take it the talks are suspended. The North Koreans have said something about suspending this process. Is that correct? Did I get the correct impression about that?
MR. BURNS: I'm not willing to use that word. As I said, our negotiating team is going to stay in Berlin. We remain interested in talks with the North Koreans on this issue. It's a vitally important issue for the North Koreans as it is for us. So I'm not willing to say that we've suspended the talks. I don't believe we've taken that action.
MR. BURNS: The talks concluded today. They were not satisfactory talks. We are not pleased with the results of the talks. We remain interested in a continuation of the talks.
Q That's a key point, because tomorrow is the 21st.
MR. BURNS: That's right.
Q So they concluded as scheduled, right?
MR. BURNS: As you know, Judd, we've never seen the 21st as a date by which the negotiations, the talks, had to be concluded. We saw them - - and we have been very consistent about this -- as a target date. So we're quite willing to talk, to have discussions, to have meetings beyond the 21st, if necessary, so long as the freeze is implemented.
Q I understand that. The point that I was raising is that this is quantitatively -- qualitatively different from previous recess and the words that we used to that effect. Is that a fair characterization, since you are up against the 21st?
MR. BURNS: I don't agree, I guess, with the basis of the question, or maybe I don't understand it. We've just been consistent all along in saying that we're interested in implementing the Agreed Framework, and we will do whatever it takes. We will meet wherever we have to meet to get the Agreed Framework implemented.
I don't believe that in what I've said today we've somehow changed our tune on that.
Q No, I'm not saying you've changed your tune. Previously the two sides have met two or three times in Berlin. Each time there was a recess with an agreement to come back to the table later on -- a period of -- a relatively short period of time. That is not the case this time, is that correct?
MR. BURNS: It's a little unclear. What we have is a press report with some comments from the North Korean negotiator. We also have, as I told you before, a quick phone call from our negotiating team; and I think it would be inaccurate for me to say that there's a suspension or there's a pause. I'm not sure which word to use.
So I'd prefer to say what we believe should happen now, and that is the negotiations should continue. Will they continue tomorrow? At this point, I don't know. I don't know if there will be negotiations tomorrow, but I know that our team will be in Berlin to have those negotiations if there is interest on the other side.
Q They were going to stay on the scene and remain available?
MR. BURNS: We are going to stay on the scene and remain available. That's right.
Q Whatever is going on.
MR. BURNS: Well put.
Q Anything on Bosnia?
MR. BURNS: There's always something to say, but unless you have something more specific -- do you have a question on Bosnia?
Q No, no, just -- I mean, any --
MR. BURNS: No, I don't have anything to offer on Bosnia.
Q The U.N. in recent days --
MR. BURNS: Excuse me?
Q A lot is going on at the U.N. in recent days regarding the --
MR. BURNS: That's true.
Q Do you have anything more on the Jackovich -- the circumstances under which he was forced to go by road?
MR. BURNS: He is happily in Vienna and is planning to come back to the United States very soon; and he's safe, which is our primary concern here.
(The briefing concluded at 1:49 p.m.)
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