U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE 95/04/21 DAILY PRESS BRIEFING OFFICE OF THE SPOKESMAN U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE DAILY PRESS BRIEFING I N D E X Friday, April 21, 1995 Briefer: Robert Gallucci Nick Burns NORTH KOREA Agreed Framework Talks in Berlin ........................1-11 U.S. Proposal for Geneva Mtg. re: LW Reactor Project ....1,6-10 U.S. Consultations w/South Korea/Japan/China ............1-2,5-6, 10-11 South Korean LW Reactor Model ...........................1-8 KEDO Program Coordinator Functions ......................6-7 Maintenance/Verification of Nuclear Freeze ..............8-10 FORMER YUGOSLAVIA Akashi Discussions in Sarajevo ..........................11 SAUDI ARABIA Level of Cooperation in Capturing Bombing Suspect .......11-13 --U.S. Demarche to Saudi Government .....................11-13 LIBYA Libyan Pilgrims' Flight from Tripoli to Jeddah ..........11-13 --Egyptian Denial of Overflight Clearance ...............12,14 --Arrival, Servicing, and Departure in Saudi Arabia .....11-13 --Upcoming UN Sanctions Committee Mtg. ..................12-13 COMMONWEALTH OF INDEPENDENT STATES Territorial Integrity/Rights of Ethnic Minorities .......16-17 --Remarks by Russian FM Kozyrev .........................17 Tajikistan/Afghanistan Border Fighting ..................18 Chechnya --Fred Cuny Disappearance ...............................23-24 --U.S. Efforts to Locate ..............................23-24 --Secretary Christopher/Hungarian FM Mtg. .............23 Prime Minister Chernomyrdin Announcement re: Interest in Ceasefire, Political Discusssions w/Opposition .....25 Military Activity .......................................25 ARMS CONTROL NPT Conference in New York ..............................19 --Egyptian FM Moussa's Speech ...........................19 --Report of Upcoming Non-Aligned Movement Mtg, Jakarta ..20-22 IRAN State Department Position on Strengthening of Sanctions .21-22 MIDDLE EAST Gaza Strip --Report of Palestinian Refusal to Allow FBI Agents Independent Investigation ...........................22-23 MISCELLANEOUS Oklahoma Bombing ........................................23 IRAQ Status of Detained Americans ............................26 --Status of Wives' Visa Applications ....................26 --Denial of Access by Polish Diplomat ...................27
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
DAILY PRESS BRIEFING
FRIDAY, APRIL 21, 1995, 12:52 P. M.
(ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED)
MR. BURNS: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. Welcome to the State Department briefing. I know there's a lot of interest in the North Korea issue today, so we have with us Ambassador Robert Gallucci, Ambassador at Large, the senior American official dealing with this issue. After Bob concludes his remarks and you've exhausted your questions, we'll continue with the Daily Press Briefing. Bob.
AMBASSADOR GALLUCCI: Good afternoon, folks. I'd like to begin by just reading a brief statement, and then we can take questions.
I understand the North Korean delegation has left Berlin to return to Pyongyang after declaring that the talks in Berlin have broken off. I can also confirm that the talks in Berlin this week were difficult and did not produce much progress.
In response to these developments, we have proposed to the North Koreans that we meet in Geneva soon to discuss problems that we have failed to resolve in Berlin that are related to the light-water reactor issue.
We've told the DPRK that we are prepared to meet in Geneva so long as they continue to adhere to the terms of the Agreed Framework. Most importantly, that means that the North Koreans need to maintain the freeze on their nuclear facilities.
We have been in close and continuous communication with our South Korean and Japanese allies on this issue, and we will, of course, continue that process of close consultation.
Q In the last few days, we haven't heard the flacked statement that they have to accept South Korean reactors. Is that still the case, or are you now thinking of some variation that might push this deal over -- you know, an American subcontractor like Westinghouse or a larger Russian role?
Is the U.S. demand still as clean and clear as that? Take the South Korean models or else?
AMBASSADOR GALLUCCI: I would like to apologize on behalf of the Administration if we have let a day go by without saying that what we seek here, and have always sought, is the implementation of the Agreed Framework. That would mean, with respect to the portion of the Framework which refers to the provision of a light-water reactor project, that the Republic of Korea would play a central role in the design, manufacture, construction and financing of the project.
In less contorted language, we are looking for an outcome in which essentially what the South Koreans call the "Korean standard reactor" or the model Ulchin 34 is the basis for the reactor that is constructed in the DPRK.
Q Could I follow up? Would you like to see the South Korean Government be more flexible in considering the arrangements under which a South Korean reactor is provided?
AMBASSADOR GALLUCCI: I said in the opening comment that we have consulted closely with the South Koreans and the Japanese. We have, and we are very satisfied that consultation has produced a position that we have taken in Berlin which is the right position.
In terms of the substance of this, I just will be unwilling, and it's unwise, to go into the real details of the negotiations, because it is our hope that we're going to continue this discussion in another venue.
I will say that what I described as our outcome here that we are seeking is, as I said, the outcome that we believed we had negotiated in Geneva in October last. We are open to language that describes this and are not committed to particular words that describe this arrangement; but there is, I would say, no change. There has never been a suggestion of change in what the outcome is to be. If there is to be a light-water reactor project in North Korea, then it will be, I believe, of the kind I just described to you. That has been a consistent position of the United States Government in coordination with our allies in Japan and South Korea.
Q Can I follow up. Not to nit-pick, but "central" doesn't mean "only." Presumably, there's still some --
AMBASSADOR GALLUCCI: That's correct.
Q -- room for compromise here that would allow something politically palatable for the North Koreans along the lines that Barry was asking about.
AMBASSADOR GALLUCCI: Let me say that you're quite correct. "Central" does not mean "only," and, when we say it is essentially South Korean reactors that would be the reactors or the type of reactor built in North Korea, we don't mean that no other company would be involved in sub-contracting. We're not excluding German, French, American, Japanese, or anybody else's companies from participating in the project.
I think that those of you who are familiar with projects of this magnitude -- light-water reactor projects like this -- are aware that there can be a large number of sub-contractors from any number of governments; and it is not for me to describe which governments, which countries these firms would come from.
But there is a fundamental, or crux, of the issue here that I wouldn't want you to miss, and that is that the South Koreans have said their willingness to play this role in financing turns on them also playing that comparable role in the design, manufacture and construction. We are completely in agreement with them in that, as are the Japanese.
Q Can I follow?
AMBASSADOR GALLUCCI: Yes, you may.
Q Did the North Koreans say "no central role for South Korea," period, or are they -- are we arguing -- are you and the North Koreans arguing about the dimension of what "central" means?
AMBASSADOR GALLUCCI: As is often the case in a negotiation, one cannot be certain what exactly one is arguing over. That can be true when you're purchasing a house or you're working out arrangements for a $4.5 billion light-water reactor.
There may be more or less than meets the eye in the course of the negotiations in Berlin. I really don't know. I do know that as we understand the issue, this is a solvable issue. In other words, there should be a way to capture in language the role that the Republic of Korea and its entities would play, provided, of course, that the DPRK is prepared to implement the Agreed Framework as we negotiated it in October.
Q Can I just ask why you think that would be a solution to the problem? I mean, presumably the DPRK is less concerned about the words on the paper than they are about South Koreans constructing facilities on their territory.
AMBASSADOR GALLUCCI: You certainly can ask the question. The problem is the answer, as I described before, is that I cannot tell you the full dimension of what's at issue here. In other words, if it is a matter of finding language that is acceptable to both sides, then with a bit of good will we should be able to do that, provided fundamentally the DPRK is prepared to implement the agreement as we negotiated it.
Q But we don't know whether that -- finding a solution to the language is actually a solution to the problem, because we don't understand the North Korean difficulty clearly?
AMBASSADOR GALLUCCI: We may or may not. I mean, what I am going to avoid doing with you today is trying to tell you or convince you that I understand all North Korean calculations. I have tried to be very careful about that in the past. We have an Agreed Framework with the North Koreans that protects us in a situation in which we are going to look at what North Koreans do rather than what they say, and that's how we are proceeding.
Q Mr. Secretary, excuse us, but we're going to take a filing break here. Your remarks are so captivating we want to transmit them around the world. Thank you.
Q Just one final question, is --
AMBASSADOR GALLUCCI: I can continue. I'm not taking a filing break.
Q Is finance the only reason that we believe the South Koreans should play the central role? I mean, is it simply a question of finance, or are there other reasons that we believe South Korea should play that role?
AMBASSADOR GALLUCCI: Initially, when we were crafting our negotiating position in Geneva in the summer of last year and before, when it appeared as though the North Koreans were interested in an arrangement in which they would give up the gas graphite program for a light-water reactor program, we not only discussed this with the South Koreans, we also discussed it with the Japanese, the Russians and others to see what other projects might be put together. At the time we said, I think quite reasonably, that there were three criteria that a project design had to meet: technical, political and financial viability. The South Korean project concept is the only one that met all three, and that's the best way I can answer that.
Q This is a "yes" or "no" question.
AMBASSADOR GALLUCCI: Promise?
Q Yes. Have the two sides reached an impasse?
AMBASSADOR GALLUCCI: In the past, Elaine, you've always told me the truth, and I'm most disappointed today (laughter). We certainly --
Q I said "yes" or "no."
AMBASSADOR GALLUCCI: And that's what I meant, of course, you didn't ask me a question that could be so answered. The situation right now is that the talks in Berlin have broken down. As I told you, we have offered, as we indicated we would way back in October, if there was a problem in the implementation of the Agreed Framework, to resume discussion in Geneva. That's what we have proposed. How one characterizes this I think I will leave to you.
You have a follow-up.
Q Why in your negotiating did you not specifically get in writing all of the requirements for North Korea using South Korean reactors?
AMBASSADOR GALLUCCI: When we were negotiating the Agreed Framework, we were aware that the North Koreans were -- and as I've said this before -- unhappy about the prospect of having South Korean reactors built in North Korea. And as I've said before, they had a preference; they preferred Russian reactors, they preferred French reactors and German reactors and American reactors -- any reactors other than South Korean reactors.
We understood, in other words, that this was politically difficult for the DPRK. It was partly with that in mind that the Agreed Framework was crafted to include a commitment on our part to try to establish an international consortium that would be in the role of the supplier of the light-water reactor project. And we went and did that, and we did that when we created with the Japanese and South Koreans the Korean Peninsula Energy Development Organization or KEDO, to which other countries have since joined.
So the point here is that the political difficulty that the North Koreans we anticipated would experience with the South Korean reactor -- being aware of that led us to what I think was the right conclusion: that the North Koreans needed to understand what it is we had in mind, and I am absolutely confident that they did understand what we had in mind. But there was no need to make it impossible to reach an agreement by specifying it in a way that would be difficult for them to accept politically when we were in fact crafting language to create an organization that would be in the position of the project supplier exactly because we wanted to make it politically more palatable.
Q Bob, would you be leading the delegation to Geneva --
AMBASSADOR GALLUCCI: Would you say it one more time, please?
Q Will you be leading the delegation in Geneva if these are talks occur?
AMBASSADOR GALLUCCI: If there are such talks, yes.
Q And by doing that, are you -- by upgrading the contacts -- are you basically giving them a reward for obstruction?
AMBASSADOR GALLUCCI: I'll answer that with a yes or no. No, we're not. We're not in the reward/penalty business here. We're trying to solve a problem that exists between our two governments in the implementation of an agreement. It's very important to our security and that of our allies in the world, so I don't want to talk in terms of rewards or punishments. We're trying to solve a problem.
Q First of all, this week, the United States proposed that a U.S. firm sort of be overall coordinator for this in an attempt to make the idea of a prime contractor from South Korea be more palatable. Exactly how would that relationship work? How did you explain it? How would it work out according to the way you explain it to them?
AMBASSADOR GALLUCCI: Can I take that before I forget it? In the charter of the Korean Peninsula Energy Development Organization, or KEDO, you'll find reference to a program coordinator. There are a number of functions for the Program Coordinator in a general way, and then over time, of course, KEDO may define that with a lot more technical detail. But, principally, the Program Coordinator would assist the Executive Director of KEDO in assuring that the contracts negotiated are, in fact, implemented consistent with the contract.
In other words, as we would plan if KEDO negotiates in the first instance a contract with the DPRK entity and then in the second instance negotiates a contract with the South Korean entity, which we expect would be KEPCO, as the Executive Director of KEDO authorizes payments under the contracts, he would need technical advice to assure that the contracts were, in fact, being performed. He would look to an architect, an engineering-type firm most likely, to assist in that technical role.
The Program Coordinator could also facilitate contacts between utilities and vendors as necessary. It's a technical function that would be available to the Executive Director so that he could do his job.
There's a second part of the question from Jeff, and then I'll come over here.
Q I'm just wondering if you haven't in retrospect thought about the possibility that the premise of the deal itself was flawed insofar as it was basically based on the expectation that the North could be persuaded to accept from the South reactor technology and assistance of the sort that would, to them, confer an image of differing status between the two countries; and whether you have thought in retrospect that some of other kind of deal or some other basic structure to the deal might have been more appropriate?
AMBASSADOR GALLUCCI: I, of course, Jeff, constantly engage in self-examination and critique. But after having done that, I remain convinced that the structure of the Agreed Framework is a viable one and a reasonable one. It turns on the DPRK's interest in opening up economic contacts with the United States and the rest of the world. It turns on their being ready to open themselves up to negotiations with the Republic of Korea. It turns on the willingness of the rest of us to provide assistance in the form of heavy fuel oil during an interim period; our willingness to support politically and financially a very large light-water reactor project.
In other words, there are interests and equities on both sides. I believe it's balanced and fundamentally in the interests of all of those involved, even certainly the DPRK.
There are elements of this that are politically difficult. We never anticipated that this would be a smooth road. This is an agreement, or an Agreed Framework with North Korea. I just need to keep reminding people of that and that anybody who expected that this was going to be easy hasn't been paying attention for the last 50 years.
Q When the talks ended, what was our understanding from the North Koreans as to their willingness to maintain the freeze? And what is our level of confidence that we would know were they not maintaining a freeze?
AMBASSADOR GALLUCCI: The talks ended, you mean in Berlin?
AMBASSADOR GALLUCCI: As you know -- and I believe the North Korean negotiator in Berlin today at a press conference made reference to appropriate steps -- we don't know exactly, of course, what the DPRK will do next. They have made reference in the past to the significance of April 21 as for them a deadline.
We have made clear that if you look at the language of the Agreed Framework, it is a target date for the resolution of the -- literally, it says "target date" -- for the resolution of the issues surrounding the light-water reactor contract. We have showed, I think, good faith in trying to resolve those issues.
I can't predict to you what the DPRK will do next. I can tell you that inviting the DPRK to join us in Geneva to try to resolve these issues, it was said that this is something we think would be appropriate and useful at this point, and something we're prepared to do just so long as the freeze remains in place.
With respect to the question of verification, if I can put it that way, "How will we know if the freeze is not in place?" As I think you're aware, there has been now for over a year in continuous presence International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors who are at a relatively small nuclear facility and will know immediately -- I think I speak pretty accurately when I use the word "immediately" -- if there is a move to break the freeze, for example by refueling the 5-megawatt reactor.
So I don't think there's any question about whether we'll know about it. I can't predict whether they'll do it or not. We certainly hope they do not. We do think this is a solvable problem if they will show good faith and if we can continue to discuss it.
Q Let me follow up on that.
AMBASSADOR GALLUCCI: Please.
Q In the talks -- the most recent talks, what did they say they would do if nothing were resolved by April 21? Did they say that they viewed the Framework as invalid and that the freeze would not necessarily have to be maintained?
AMBASSADOR GALLUCCI: I think if you want to know the DPRK's position, you ought to ask the DPRK. I will tell you that at various times they have said that they might take some steps. They have referred to the possibility of refueling the 5-megawatt reactor.
I am not predicting what they're going to do. All I am telling you is that, certainly, they have allowed as that's a possibility. We have said we would prefer to keep talking, and this time at Geneva.
Q Who did propose the high-level talks to? Was it Kim Jong U in Berlin or someone in Pyongyang? And has there been any reaction?
AMBASSADOR GALLUCCI: We didn't propose these talks until the talks in Berlin were declared by Kim Jong U to have broken down. That didn't happen until yesterday, so it was only yesterday or last night that we sent a message through the usual channel -- through the New York channel -- proposing Geneva.
Q Let me follow on Andrea's question. There were reports in the press -- several -- that on the 21st the North Koreans were setting that as a deadline to take some kind of action to defrost their program. You just stated that they had said something to this effect. Did they say it officially to the delegation? Did they say it indirectly? Do you believe, in fact, this is a real problem?
And then, secondly, I noticed in the latest wires the U.N. inspectors have seen no unusual activity.
AMBASSADOR GALLUCCI: What the North Koreans have said to us privately I will leave private. What they've said publicly is available on the record and you can look at it. What I'm trying to tell you is that I do not know what they're going to do. We hope that we can continue talking rather than face a situation --
Q (Multiple questions.)
AMBASSADOR GALLUCCI: Excuse me, excuse me. -- rather than face a situation in which they take a step which makes it impossible for us to continue talking at Geneva.
Q Did they say anything to lead you to believe that, in fact, these talks have broken down and they were going to take some actions to defrost?
AMBASSADOR GALLUCCI: I say again, I do not know what the DPRK will do next.
Q Another yes or no question. Do you take seriously the North Korean threat to refuel its 5-megawatt reactor?
AMBASSADOR GALLUCCI: When the DPRK speaks officially, we certainly listen to what they have to say. I don't know what they're going to do. I just would prefer to say that we will wait and see what they do; and as we have in the past, we'll respond to what they do.
MR. BURNS: One more question, please.
Q Mr. Ambassador, when you proposed to the North Koreans further meetings in Geneva, are you putting anything new on the table, anything that is different from what you put on the table in Berlin? First question.
Second question: Have you spoken to the Chinese about getting their assistance in this?
AMBASSADOR GALLUCCI: On the first question, I may soon end up being the negotiator again in Geneva, and I don't think it makes a lot of sense for me to talk about what I'm going to do as a negotiator other than to describe to you what I did in the beginning, which I suspect you don't need to hear again, in terms of what our objectives are, which is --
AMBASSADOR GALLUCCI: Excuse me. -- which is to seek to get the Agreed Framework implemented.
The second part of your question was China. As you may know, the Secretary had discussions with Qian Qichen in New York. This issue did come up, and it was discussed. We've been in contact with the Chinese about it. We, of course, hope that they will be helpful in resolving the issue.
(The briefing by Ambassador Gallucci concluded at 1:17 p.m., after which Mr. Burns began the Daily Press Briefing.)
MR. BURNS: I will be glad to take any questions on subjects other than the North Korea discussion -- happily for me.
Q Have you seen reports that Akashi couldn't leave Sarajevo? Do you have a comment on how difficult it is to fly out of Bosnia these days?
MR. BURNS: I do. I have seen those reports. I understand that Akashi is in Sarajevo today, that he had discussions with a number of groups, in fact during the last 24 hours, on the Bosnia situation.
Q What about, though, that apparently he wasn't given permission to leave?
MR. BURNS: I have not seen reports that he wasn't given permission to leave. I know that there's a lot of activity at Sarajevo Airport today. He is there. We are in touch with him there, but I don't believe there's a problem in him leaving.
Q How have we expressed our concerns to the Saudis about their failure to cooperate in the attempt to capture a suspected bomber?
MR. BURNS: We have been in touch with the Saudi Government today. As the Secretary said this morning, we have protested to the Saudi Government the fact that we did not receive the cooperation we had hoped for. We're very disappointed.
I don't care to go into the details of the event for obvious reasons, but we're disappointed. We've made that clear as recently as this morning to the Saudi Government.
Q That was here in Washington?
MR. BURNS: That was here in Washington.
Q Was he called in?
MR. BURNS: I don't want to go into the nature of the diplomatic contact. But just rest assured that we called in -- it wasn't the Ambassador; I don't believe he's at the Embassy -- but it was the Charge of the Saudi Embassy and made our views very clear to the Saudi Government.
Q Did you also discuss the question of the Libyan pilgrims?
MR. BURNS: Let me get into that a little bit, Andrea.
Yesterday, we talked a little bit about the events concerning the Libyan flight from Tripoli to Jeddah. As a result of further discussions that we have had at the United Nations and also bilaterally with Egypt, I can say that the Egyptian Government denied overflight clearances to the Libyan aircraft and informed us of that action yesterday.
The Libyan aircraft chose to ignore the denial of Egyptian overflight clearance. Egypt, therefore, did not violate the U.N. sanctions. We will work with the Egyptian Government to prevent Libyan violations in the future.
Let me just note something that I said yesterday. Egypt acted properly this week by taking their concern about the rights of Libyan pilgrims -- religious pilgrims -- to the U.N. Sanctions Committee, formally asking for an exception to those sanctions; and, of course, that was granted.
We have discussed this issue with the Saudi Government. We've expressed to the Saudis our very strong position that their actions were contrary to the sanctions regime and should not recur -- their action in receiving the Libyan aircraft in Jeddah, in servicing it and allowing it to take off again for Libya.
The action from hereon in is with the Sanctions Committee, which did not meet today but which will meet soon under the Chairmanship of the Czech Government. Rest assured, we'll be very active in that Committee.
Q Was there any response from the Saudis on either of these issues? Any explanation?
MR. BURNS: On either issue? I don't have any detail on the Saudi response. I just know what the United States has communicated to the Saudi Government on both these issues.
Q You say you discussed it with them. Would you characterize the second case also? Was it a protest about their behavior on the flights?
MR. BURNS: I didn't use the word "protest" in the first instance. I know that we've communicated our very strong position that U.N. member states have a responsibility to adhere to U.N. sanctions regimes. In this case, the Saudi Government had an opportunity to do so and chose not to do so. Of course, we're very displeased by that, and so we've communicated that to the Saudi Government.
Q Are you saying that you (Inaudible) the word "protest?"
MR. BURNS: Since I was not in the room, I don't know which word was used, so I'm going to be very reluctant to get into giving you a definitive statement on which words were used. But I'm very glad to openly tell you what the nature of that communication was.
Q Where was this suspected terrorist allowed to proceed to? Do U.S. authorities have some way of apprehending him there? Or was this really the only chance to get this guy?
MR. BURNS: I'm sorry, I can't go into the details of that event. I've really given you as much as I can give you on that, for obvious reasons.
Q Can you identify him by name?
MR. BURNS: I cannot, no. I can't go into the details at all on that.
Q What recourse do you have in the Sanctions Committee?
MR. BURNS: Certainly, the Sanctions Committee is the primary body responsible for enforcing the sanctions and for working with those countries that may be in violation of the sanctions. The recourse we have is to bring this up officially now in the United Nations on a multilateral level, already having done so on a bilateral level. We will be very active in doing that along with other countries, I'm sure.
Q Why the protest to the Saudis made today on the first case? I mean, it was just written about in the newspaper today. Is there a coincidence?
MR. BURNS: I know that a protest was made today. There may have been other communications previous to today with the Saudi Government, but I can't give you any detail on that. I did inquire about the conversation this morning.
Q It did occur a couple of weeks ago?
MR. BURNS: the incident occurred some time ago, yes.
Q Do these two actions by the Saudi Government reflect, from what you can see, the strong pressure that King Fahd has come under from religious conservatives in Saudi Arabia? Do you draw anything from that about the stability of the Saudi regime?
MR. BURNS: I'm going to leave to the Saudi Government to characterize their position on this and their reaction to it.
I would just note that Egypt had a concern. I think that was shared throughout the Arab world this week, that Libyan pilgrims ought not to pay for the mistakes and irresponsibility of the Libyan Government over the past decade, on the issue of international terrorism.
Making the pilgrimage -- the Hajj -- to Mecca is one of the five responsibilities of any Muslim. We had sympathy with that. That is why we agreed to the action of the U.N. Sanctions Committee to grant an exception. It provides for 6,000 Libyan pilgrims to travel via EgyptAir on 45 flights during the Hajj season.
We thought that was a rational response to a humanitarian need. We thought it was a proper action of the United Nations. I think that all the governments in the region ought to understand that there is a proper way to go about getting these things done and there are improper ways.
Q How would they have gone to Saudi Arabia except by overflying Egypt?
MR. BURNS: As I understand it, according to the Egyptian Government -- and you should check with the Egyptian Government directly on this -- the Egyptian Government denied an overflight clearance to the Libyan aircraft. The Libyan aircraft chose to override the denial and proceeded to Jeddah. Therefore, it was in violation of the sanctions regime and also in violation of international air agreements, I'm sure, between Egypt and Libya.
Q I'm asking the question, how would they get there without flying over Egypt?
MR. BURNS: Again, the United Nations this week provided a way for the Libyan pilgrims to get to Saudi Arabia, and that is via EgyptAir flights that were granted as an exception by the U.N. Sanctions Committee. So the international community acted this week to provide Libyan pilgrims a chance to go to Mecca.
Q To fly to Cairo and then take Egyptian aircraft to Saudi Arabia?
MR. BURNS: No. The exception this week -- and I'll be glad perhaps after the briefing we can give you more detail on this -- the exception this week permits EgyptAir, which is the national airlines of Egypt, to run 45 flights to Jeddah and then to return to Libya. From Libya to Jeddah, to transport 6,000 Libyan pilgrims. So there is a way for Libyan pilgrims to get to Mecca this year, and the United States supported this decision.
Q I'm sorry if you covered this. You said that the demarche filed today was about the FBI situation on April 7?
MR. BURNS: I took an earlier question on this. Let me just recover for you, because I know that some of you were out of the room.
Q We can read the transcript if you answered this.
MR. BURNS: Fine. We launched a very strong protest this morning with the Saudi Government.
Q Over . . .?
MR. BURNS: Over their inability to help us on a very important issue concerning international terrorism.
Secondly, we have had some discussions with them as well, about the incident of the Libyan overflight of Egypt this week to Jeddah.
Q Will the United States now take the position in the Sanctions Committee that this exception is null and void and that the rest of the flights will not be allowed to proceed?
MR. BURNS: No, we will not take that action. We continue to believe that it makes sense, from a humanitarian point of view, for EgyptAir to be given the opportunity to transport these people to Mecca. We will not interfere with that. We will not try to counteract it. We believe it's a good decision, and we will continue to support it.
Q Is there any penalty that Qadhafi now faces having basically tried to cheat the Sanctions Committee?
MR. BURNS: As Ambassador Albright said at the United Nations yesterday, this strengthens our belief that we ought to tighten international sanctions on Libya, and they certainly, at a minimum, ought to be maintained. Libya has proven once again this week that it has no regard for U.N. resolutions, and Libya ought to pay the price for that. Paying the price will be the continuation of those sanctions.
The United States has a very direct interest in this. We believe that Libya is responsible for the bombing of Pan Am 103, in which a considerable number of American citizens perished. We're not going to support any move to loosen the sanctions on Libya until the people who perpetrated that injustice many years ago are brought to justice.
Q To change the subject, could you respond to Russian Foreign Minister Kozyrev's comments about threatening to use Russian military force to defend ethnic Russians in some of the former Soviet republics?
MR. BURNS: I think you're referring to the speech that Foreign Minister Kozyrev made several days ago. I just have very brief comments. They are, first, that we have made it abundantly clear to the Russian Government during the last three and a half years of that government's existence, that its respect for the territorial integrity, the sovereignty, and the independence of its neighbors is a first-order concern of the United States and, indeed, of all the international community.
That position -- our strongly-held position -- has been made clear at the Presidential level, at the Foreign Minister level, and at every other level of our discussions. I think there's no mistaking that.
We have also made clear to all of Russia's neighbors that given the fact that there are 25 million ethnic Russians who reside in Eurasia -- beyond Russia's borders -- is also very important that those governments adhere to international principles on the rights of ethnic minorities. I'm happy to say that in most instances -- in fact, nearly all - that is the case.
Let me just point out an example. The example is Estonia and Latvia. Both of those countries received -- then CSCE -- now OSCE Missions; they both have passed international tests, if you will, on the issue of citizenship, and we believe that they have treated their Russian minorities fairly.
It's also a major issue in the Russia-Ukraine relationship where there are upwards of 12 million ethnic Russians living in Ukraine. So I think this issue has to be treated rather carefully.
We, as a government, have taken the position, that the Russian Government has certain responsibilities but neighboring governments have responsibilities towards ethnic Russians as well.
Q (Inaudible) that's your policy and that's well known, but what do you think of Kozyrev's speech? Is it ominous?
MR. BURNS: It was a very long speech. (Laughter) It involved a lot of different issues. If you look at the speech, he had a number of comments to make on this issue; not just the comments that were reported in the Western press. So I have given you a response to that speech which I think is considered and which represents the views of this government.
Q Are you saying, though, that the Western press just sort of seized on one little small element and blew it out of proportion and therefore the United States doesn't really think this is much of anything?
MR. BURNS: I would say this, Carol: I wouldn't use the word "ominous." I wouldn't use it for this reason. These views have been expressed by Russian Government leaders for the past three and a half years. It's nothing new in their discourse with their neighbors.
But I started my response today by saying how important it is that Russia live up to its international obligations to respect borders and the independence of its neighbors. That is very important.
In commenting on the Foreign Minister's speech this week, I wanted to make sure that thought was transmitted.
Q Can I just follow up one more time? Russia may have said this in varying degrees over the course of the past few years. But, certainly, since December we've seen a new aggressiveness in Russia's use of armed force to put down difficulties in Chechnya. I would acknowledge that's an internal problem, not the same thing as going across an international border.
It has also been waging more and more aggressively with Tajikistan -- the Tajikistan situation. Do you not see that as perhaps a different context in which to weigh his remarks?
MR. BURNS: The nature of the area that comprises the former Soviet Union is that it's highly unstable. It's obviously a situation where all these countries are in a transitional phase of their development, and they have been over the last couple of years.
Therefore, we take very seriously the actions of the Russian military that takes place beyond Russia's borders, which excludes the example of Chechnya.
In the case of Tajikistan, I would just note that the Government of Tajikistan has invited not only the Russian Government but the Uzbek, Kyrgiz and Kazakh Governments to place troops upwards of, I think, 25,000 troops on the Tajik-Afghan border to deal with the instability and the guerrilla warfare in that area.
We have in the past, of course, taken the main comments about other Russian military activities. specifically in the case of Georgia in the fall of 1993. I think the record here is somewhat of a mixed record.
On the whole, the Russian Government, I think, has placed as a primary concern in its foreign policy its relations with its neighbors, and it has tried to work out for the most part, but not in all examples, international arrangements in placing its troops beyond Russia's borders. That was true in the case of Tajkikstan. It was not true in the case of Georgia in the fall of 1993.
So given this situation and given the obvious concern that a lot of the area governments have about Russian intentions because of the past, we have made it a cornerstone of our policy of Russia to have a very active discussion with them in these issues and to be active in international fora.
Let me provide another example, in the case of Nagorno-Karabakh where Russia last year had an intention to use its military forces to intervene in the conflict between Azeris and Armenians. President Clinton and Secretary Christopher took the initiative to bring that to the OSCE, and it was agreed at the Budapest Conference that instead of an introduction of Russian military forces, the OSCE would provide a monitoring mission.
So in cases where we think the international community can step between parties and resolve international problems, we'll be glad to work on that. In other cases, of course, where there are Russian troops left over from the Cold War period, the United States has taken the lead in trying to convince the Russian Government to withdraw them. That was the case last summer when President Clinton and Secretary Christopher worked so hard in their personal diplomacy to convince Boris Yeltsin and Andrey Kozyrev to withdraw the troops from Estonia and Latvia, and that happened.
So I think the United States has taken a leadership position on this. I think we've had great effect on this issue, and we'll continue to have it as an issue that's high on our agenda.
Q Nick, do you have any reaction to the Egyptian Foreign Minister's speech on the NPT yesterday, and do you still think you have the votes for an indefinite extension?
MR. BURNS: Naturally, we're very disappointed by Foreign Minister Moussa's speech. We're disappointed by the fact that he did not choose to support an indefinite and unconditional extension of the NPT. The Egyptian Government had assured us that it would not campaign against the indefinite extension of the NPT, and we expect Egypt to honor that assurance.
Over the next couple of weeks, as we proceed through the review process up in New York at the NPT Conference, we're looking forward to working with Egypt and other interested states to promote the one outcome that we believe best assures our interests and the international community's interests, and that is an indefinite and unconditional extension of the NPT.
We remain confident that we will have the votes at the end of the day during the second week of May to assure that.
Q Nick, what is a major speech, strong speech, early in the NPT Conference if not part of a campaign?
MR. BURNS: If I were you, I would direct that to the Egyptian Government. All I can tell you is that we had assurances from the Egyptian Government that it would not lead a campaign against the indefinite extension of the NPT, and we will take the trouble to remind Egypt of those assurances. We expect Egypt to honor that assurance, and we'll use the review process, as a number of people indicated on the margins of the Secretary's meetings in New York earlier in the week, to work with these countries; to convince them that those countries that support an indefinite extension have the votes to prevail in the end; that it's in the best interests of all to agree that an indefinite extension is the best way, as we approach the next century, to assure stability among nuclear states and non-nuclear states.
That was certainly the impression we had when the Secretary left his meeting with the Mexican Foreign Minister and with the Chinese Foreign Minister on Monday. Countries make opening statements, and we think by the end of the day we'll be in a successful and positive position.
Q Nick, what happens if -- well, two things -- do I -- am I mistaken or did Moussa not also say something about trying to push the non-aligned or there's some meeting of the non-aligned in the next week or so, and he was going to make a case for Egypt's position there?
And the other thing is, what if Egypt persists in waging a kind of campaign for its position? What consequences are there?
MR. BURNS: I saw the same reference you did to some international meeting of the Non-Aligned Movement next week. We're simply going to work with the Egyptian Government and other governments to encourage them to in the end work with us toward an indefinite extension. On your second question, Carol, I really don't want to get ahead of our negotiators in New York and try to look down the road too far and say what we'd do in a certain situation.
We remain confident that we have got a position that makes sense for all countries -- non-nuclear and nuclear -- and we remain confident that at the end of the day in New York it will be a positive outcome for us.
Q Would you expect your efforts to lobby in favor of Egypt's $3 billion or so annual aid package on the Hill to become more difficult now?
MR. BURNS: Sid, I'd just remind you that we're at the beginning of a conference; we're not at the end. And I think let's see where we are at the end of the conference. Certainly, our assistance to Egypt is of primary importance to the United States, and that was made abundantly clear when President Mubarak was here meeting with President Clinton.
Q Are you saying, Nick, that if it sails through, you don't care what Egypt did?
MR. BURNS: No, I'm not saying that at all. We care very much about what Egypt says and what Egypt does, and I said at the beginning here when I took the first question that we're disappointed by the Foreign Minister's speech. And we will obviously take the initiative to express this disappointment in more detailed fashion that I am doing here publicly.
I'm also saying that we have a very mature relationship with Egypt. It's a very important relationship to us. Egypt is a bedrock of stability in many ways in the Middle East and the Arab world, and we're going to pursue a close relationship with the Egyptian Government.
When you have differences with a friendly country, you try to resist arguing about those differences in too detailed a fashion in public, so I think we'll just be content at this point to work closely with them over the next couple of weeks with a view towards a productive outcome.
Q Nick, have you dealt with the Saudi issue yet?
MR. BURNS: I have.
Q They're your other bedrock. I wondered what you thought of their back-to-back lack of cooperation with the U.S.
MR. BURNS: Barry, I can go over it again. I've dealt with two Saudi issues and --
Q No, no, don't go over again, if you've dealt with them in the bedrock. Egypt is a bedrock. That's enough bedrocks for me for one day.
MR. BURNS: Thanks, Barry.
Q On Iran sanctions, what is your response to those, including those and other parts of this government who believe that unilateral sanctions are a mistake and simply hurt American business, without having any real effect on Iran.
MR. BURNS: This is on Iran sanctions.
MR. BURNS: I think you know very well the position of the State Department and Secretary Christopher, and it is that the sanctions regime against Iran should be strengthened, and he has said that publicly. That is our position. As you know, there is an active discussion underway in the U.S. Government, and, as you also know, I'm going to be unwilling to go into much detail about that discussion.
Q (Inaudible) point of why unilateral sanctions can work in the absence of any kind of international support?
MR. BURNS: As you know, in light of our very great concern about Iran's activities in the nuclear sphere, and in other spheres -- its support for international terrorism -- we have undertaken a review of our policy towards Iran and that review is ongoing, and it would be unwise for me to get ahead of that in public.
Q The point on the Mubarak issue regarding the NPT is the question of credibility. Mubarak tells the President of the United States one thing. Its Foreign Minister said something else to the United Nations. And you called Egypt a "bedrock of stability." It leaves me wondering as to where is the bedrock? What kind of rock is it?
MR. BURNS: Egypt is a very close friend of the United States, and we have ongoing interests in our relationship which demand close cooperation, and that will continue. I think we've gone around this issue a couple of times. Let me just be content to say that we'll be in close contact with Egypt on the NPT issue. We've expressed our disappointment, and now the emphasis is going to be on working with them towards a successful outcome in New York.
Q And now there's a question about Syria also opposing the extension of the treaty, and there's going to be a meeting of the non- aligned in Indonesia in which Egypt apparently is a leader. How do you propose to deal with that?
MR. BURNS: We're obviously not happy about the prospect of further meetings to argue against an indefinite extension of the NPT. I don't have to tell you how important that is for our foreign policy, and I think I've really probably said as much as I want to say. I think we've answered this question a couple of times -- I have in the last half hour.
Q I have a question about the Palestinians refusing FBI agents to enter Gaza. Has that been answered here before?
MR. BURNS: The question hasn't been asked. I'm unaware of that situation. We had FBI agents in Gaza working with the Palestinian Authority and the Israeli Government looking into the death of a young American citizens. I'm not aware that there's been any interference in the work of the FBI.
Q Not any interference, but the Palestinians in Gaza told the FBI, "You'll have to accept the police report, the Palestinian police report and stop there." That's the way I understand it.
MR. BURNS: I don't have any information for you on that. I've not heard that report.
Q Will you look into it?
MR. BURNS: We'll be glad to look into it, but I've not heard anything to date on that.
Q I was hoping to ask you the Iran question, but I'm left with the inevitable, "Can you provide us any information the State Department may know about the ongoing investigation of the bombing in Oklahoma City?"
MR. BURNS: I really can't. As you know, the Justice Department and the FBI are in the lead on the investigation. The State Department is cooperating with that. We're very actively involved here in Washington and out in Oklahoma, but we're not taking the lead. The Justice Department and FBI are.
Q Nick, do you have an update on Fred Cuny and the search for his whereabouts?
MR. BURNS: I have a little bit of an update on that from yesterday. We got into this a little bit yesterday. We continue to be very concerned about the fact that Fred Cuny is missing in Chechnya, and over the last 24 hours we have decided to send two officers from our Embassy in Moscow -- a political officer and a consular officer -- to Chechnya to look for him.
We've asked the Russian Government to give assistance to our delegation and protection for them while they're in Chechnya.
Secretary Christopher met with the Hungarian Foreign Minister last evening, and asked him as Chair of the OSCE Monitoring Mission in Chechnya, to have the OSCE team get involved in this issue once that team arrives in Chechnya, which should be next Tuesday, April 25.
The Hungarian Foreign Minister said that the Hungarian Government has already taken steps to bring this issue to the attention of the Russian Government.
Our Charge d'Affaires in Moscow, Dick Miles, has been in touch with Foreign Minister Kozyrev and other senior officials in both the Kremlin and in the Russian Foreign Ministry on this.
We're very concerned about his situation and about the situation of the four or five Russians who are with him. At this point we have no leads.
MR. BURNS: We have nothing. We have no leads on what might have happened to him.
Q He just disappeared?
MR. BURNS: We are pulsing the Russian Government through the Defense Ministry, the Foreign Ministry and the Interior Ministry every day about this. We're sending our Embassy officers there, and I would just note we have not sent American diplomats to Chechnya since December 11, the first day of the Russian military incursion, and we've chosen to do so now because of our concern for him. He's an American citizen. He's done tremendously important work for the United States over the last decade or so in all of the most difficult parts of the world in Bosnia and Somalia and now in Chechnya.
Q How soon do you expect them to travel, do you know?
MR. BURNS: We were waiting this morning for word back from the Russians on what kind of services -- what kind of assistance the Russians could give us for this mission. But I think the intention is to get them on the ground very quickly.
I can tell you, we've also been in touch with the non-governmental organization community. A lot of them are on the ground in Chechnya. A lot of them have very good experience in maneuvering in a very difficult, warlike situation -- wartime situation, and we've asked them as well to give us any assistance they can or advice on how to go about reaching him.
Q What if the Russians -- excuse me, could you tell us if the Russians share the concern? Mr. Cuny, of course, was vehement in his condemnation of the Russians' hammering and the killing really of Russian ethnics in Chechnya. Are the Russians as concerned or at least do you see any concern on their part what might have happened to this heroic person?
MR. BURNS: Yes. I think that the Russians have expressed their concern to us and expressed their interest in helping us. I know that the Russian Deputy Foreign Minister has expressed that concern, and I understood, as I told you, that yesterday our Charge was in touch with Foreign Minister Kozyrev and with President Yeltsin's foreign policy assistance in the Kremlin; and the Russian Government has given us assistance. They have told us at least three of their ministries are active in this, and now we're asking them to accompany our delegation down to Chechnya to work with us.
It doesn't make sense to work separately from them, because of the wartime conditions in Chechnya. I would just note, since we're talking about Chechnya, we think the Russian Government took a good first step today in the announcement by Prime Minister Chernomyrdin that the Russian Government might be interested in a cease-fire and in political discussions with the Chechen population and the Chechen opposition.
It's a good first step. I would also note that military activity continued today around the town of Bamut, and that is not a good step. Our position has been that there should be a cease-fire and political discussions leading to a political resolution of the problems.
Q Don't you think it's a little disingenuous now that the Russians have pounded the Chechens senseless that they're offering this gracious first step to talk to them about peace?
MR. BURNS: Any time a government offers to stop firing guns and cease bloodshed and cease the killing and wounding of people, I think you have to say that's a good first step. I also said -- I also noted that military activity continues today, and we don't support that.
Q Are there any left to kill and wound in Chechnya?
MR. BURNS: Do you want to answer your question?
MR. BURNS: We have said since the beginning of this conflict that what troubles us is the indiscriminate use of military force against civilians. We have consistently said that, and we've made that clear to the Russians bilaterally. We pushed for the OSCE mission to receive a mandate, an international mandate to take its place in Chechnya, which it will next week, to look into the issue of human rights violations, and we have taken that very seriously, and we've been a leader in that.
Q Anything new from Baghdad or Amman on the visa applications?
MR. BURNS: Unfortunately, no. There's no good news. In fact, there's no news at all. Mr. Krystosik tried again today, for the fifth consecutive day, to see Mr. Daliberti and Mr. Barloon, the two imprisoned Americans, and he was not allowed to see them.
There is no further movement on the issue of the attempt by the wives of both these gentlemen to visit them -- to get Iraqi visas to visit them. As you know, the United States has applied on their behalf through our Embassy in Jordan for visas, and we are quite willing to give them any assistance we can to visit their husband once they receive those visas, but there hasn't been any Iraqi action.
Let me just take the opportunity, since we're at the end of the week, to repeat what I've said every day, and that is that the Iraqi position is baseless. There are no grounds upon which to hold these people, and their actions are inhumane and they're contrary to the wishes of the international community.
Q Nick, do you know at least whether Mr. Daliberti is continuing to be seen by a cardiologist? Do they at least tell you that?
MR. BURNS: Sid, all we can go on right now is the report by Mr. Krystosik, the Polish diplomat, of a week ago Wednesday, I believe -- I might be one or two days off -- that was the last time he saw them. At that time he was told by Mr. Daliberti and Mr. Barloon that Mr. Daliberti had seen a series of Iraqi cardiologists; that he had received a lot of medical attention.
What of course we can't be sure of is quality of that medical attention, and it's our position that on humanitarian health grounds alone, he and Mr. Barloon should be released so that he can come back to the United States and receive the best professional attention in the world which exists here in this country.
Q The Iraqis are not giving you information about -- I mean, they're not letting you see them, not letting the Poles see them, but are they giving you information about them?
MR. BURNS: As far as I know, Sid, the last information that we have is based upon the last visit of the Polish diplomat, and that was eight or nine days ago. It's a very disturbing situation, yes.
Q New subject. Do you think the change of the U.S. and North Korea liaison office will be delayed until the nuclear talks settled?
MR. BURNS: I'm going to have to apologize on this issue. You've just received a pretty full briefing from our senior negotiator who is far more expert than I am on this. I'm going to let Bob Gallucci's briefing stand on its own terms.
Q Thank you.
MR. BURNS: Thanks.
(The briefing concluded at 1:51 p.m.)
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