U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE 95/04/24 DAILY PRESS BRIEFING OFFICE OF THE SPOKESMAN U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE DAILY PRESS BRIEFING I N D E X Monday, April 24, 1995 Briefer: Nicholas Burns RWANDA Recent Violence: A/S Moose Sent to Region; U.S. Amb. Contacts w/Gov't.; U.S. Aid to Region; Estimates on Number of People Killed/Wounded ..................1-3 IRAQ Detained Americans: Polish Gov't. Requests to Visit ...4 --Applications for Wives' Visas Approved ..............4-6 FORMER YUGOSLAVIA International Criminal Tribunal--Prosecutor's Request .6 --U.S. Assistance/Commitment to Tribunal ..............7 Possibility of Contact Group Mtg. @ Ministerial Level .8 Secretary Christopher Mtg. w/Ambassador Frasure .......8 Number of Deaths in War ...............................9,12 Status of Sarajevo Airport ............................10 Status of Extension of Ceasefire ......................11-12 --Report of French FM Juppe Threat to W/Draw Troops ...14 NORTH KOREA U.S. Proposal to North Korea for Higher-Level Talks ...14 SAUDI ARABIA U.S. Protests to Saudi Gov't. re: Failure to Apprehend Terrorists .................15 LIBYA Unauthorized Air Flight to Jedda ......................16 NON-PROLIFERATION Report of Agreement between U.S./Russia re: ABM Treaty ..............................................16
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
DAILY PRESS BRIEFING
MONDAY, APRIL 24, 1995, 1:13 P.M.
(ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTE)
MR. BURNS: Good afternoon. Welcome to the State Department briefing. I'd like to give a special welcome today to a number of European journalists who are here with us from NATO countries. I believe they're seated in this section. Welcome to you. I don't have any prepared announcements so I'll be glad to go directly to your questions.
Q Do you have anything to say about the events in Rwanda over the weekend?
MR. BURNS: I do have something to say about that. First, many of you might have seen the statements from the White House. There were two statements this weekend. The second was a statement from the President.
The United States is obviously appalled at the horrific violence in Rwanda over the last several days.
The Secretary has sent Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs George Moose, along with other U.S. officials, to Kigali. He will arrive today. He will have meetings with the Rwandan Government leadership. His mission, obviously, is to press for an understanding as to what happened, as to who is responsible for what happened, and for what the international community, including the United States, might be able to do to try to help redress the problem.
On Saturday, April 22, the American Ambassador to Rwanda, David Rawson, was in touch with senior advisors to the President in Kigali and urged immediate action at the highest level to stop the violence and to save lives.
Q Any news on the wives of the Americans in Iraq?
MR. BURNS: Yes, I have something on that.
Q Let's stay on Rwanda for a second.
MR. BURNS: Do you want to stay with Rwanda? Okay. We'll go back.
Q You say we addressed the problem. I didn't understanding what you were referring to.
MR. BURNS: Obviously, there's been a major humanitarian catastrophe in Rwanda. The people who have responsibility for this are obviously the people in the region themselves, but the international community has a long-standing interest in this region; certainly, going back a number of years. But, certainly, also stemming from the violence last year in which so many hundreds of thousands of people lost their lives.
During the last year, the United States, I think, has been the largest humanitarian aid donor to Rwanda and Burundi. The level of our aid is approximately $400 million. We've recently contributed $25 million to buttress U.N. food assistance efforts. We have a basic interest in trying to stabilize the condition of the refugees and the displaced people in Rwanda and Burundi and for those who are across the border -- I think nearly two million in Zaire and Tanzania and other countries.
We also have an interest in trying to help the Rwandan and Burundian Governments as best we can, working with other countries, to try to help them build a system based on the rule of law.
Obviously, again, these are major problems, complex problems. The international community cannot resolve these problems alone. They're primarily the problems of a local people, but we do have an interest -- it's a humanitarian interest -- and we want to do as much as possible to help the Rwandans and the Burundians sort them out.
Q But isn't this government responsibility what's happened there -- the latest violence?
MR. BURNS: That is, at this point, a rather complex situation. If you'd like, I can go into what we think might have happened over the weekend, if there's interest in that.
We have been watching this situation closely since last Tuesday, April 18, when the Rwandan Patriotic Army began efforts to close down the camp that was affected, citing it as a security risk. The army surrounded the camp and began registering camp residents to return them to their home areas. These are all people who were displaced in the fighting, as you remember, last April -- 12 months ago.
On Saturday, April 22, apparently, after several days of increasing tension, during which conditions in the camp had deteriorated to a very great extent, a large number of the displaced people from last year who had been residing in the camp attempted to break through the cordon that had been established by the Rwandan army.
Soldiers of this army fired into the rushing crowd, and some elements in the camp may have fired also on the army itself. It is unclear, as best as we can determine, who fired the first shot. But what is clear is that a considerable number of people perished in the ensuing the chaos.
I understand it was raining heavily and night was falling when the greatest number of people were killed. There was a great deal of confusion. Some people may have been killed by bullets from the army, others by machetes wielded by camp residents, and a considerable number of people may have been caught in the stampede that resulted.
There have been wildly varying estimates of how many people died over the weekend. We don't have a figure, I think, that can be relied upon. The estimates that we have seen and have been told about from the United Nations, from the Rwandan Government, vary from 300 killed to 2,000 killed, which is the current U.N. figure.
You have seen higher figures in the press. I'm giving you a Rwandan Government figure, as low as 300 and a current U.N. figure of 2,000. Hundreds more people were wounded in the fighting. Again, I do want to stress that we do not yet have a reliable figure.
Q But we hold the government responsible for what happens in a camp when they are moving to close a camp down?
MR. BURNS: I think that remains to be seen. Assistant Secretary Moose is on the ground. He's going to be having meetings with the government, in part, to ascertain what happened. We're also in contact with the United Nations which has had people on the ground during the weekend. We sent staffers from our Embassy -- officials from our Embassy in Kigali -- down to the camps as well over the weekend.
The most direct thing I can say to that question is, we're attempting to figure that out. But we also, obviously, have an interest in trying to work through some of the political problems that now result from this terrible tragedy.
MR. BURNS: The question was, do we have an update on the situation of Mr. Daliberti and Mr. Barloon, the two Americans who have been imprisoned since late March in Baghdad.
I regret to say that the Iraqi Government has not yet responded to the Polish Government's repeated request to resume the visits to the Americans in Baghdad.
Mr. Krystosik, who is the very fine Polish diplomat who represents American interests in Iraq, has tried to see these two individuals every day. He has been denied. We hope very much that the Iraqi Government will relent and allow him to see these two as soon as possible.
There is some action on the question of the visa applications for Mrs. Daliberti and Mrs. Barloon. We were informed on Saturday, April 22, our Embassy in Amman, Jordan, was informed by the Iraqi Embassy in Amman that the applications for the visitors visas had been approved for Mrs. Daliberti and Mrs. Barloon. This would allow them to visit their husbands.
The Department was in contact with both of these women over the weekend. I believe Mrs. Daliberti is in Florida and Mrs. Barloon is in Kuwait City.
The Iraqi Embassy in Amman indicated that it is prepared to issue the visas as soon as they receive the passports of the two women. We've informed the two women that as soon as they can get to Amman with their passports, we will get the visas to put in the passports for them. We will then have our Polish Interests Section in Baghdad come down to meet them in Amman, escort them up to Baghdad and offer them all necessary assistance, including offering them, I think, residence in the old U.S. Embassy which is now the U.S. Interests Section in Baghdad.
This is obviously a hopeful sign that the Iraqi Government has decided to let these two women visit. It certainly responds to the repeated demands we have made to allow this to happen on a humanitarian basis.
But I would also like to say that there is a humanitarian interest that the Iraqi Government should take to release the two men as soon as possible for health reasons, because Mr. Daliberti has been experiencing chest pains and also for the fact that these two men are innocent of the charges and they should be released as soon as it is possible.
Q Are the Iraqis still pleading technical difficulties, or don't they bother with that anymore?
MR. BURNS: I'm not even sure we're getting many explanations anymore as to why the Polish diplomat is not allowed to visit.
Now, last week we saw press reports from Baghdad that instead of weekly visits, which they had promised, they would go back to visits every two weeks. Mr. Krystosik, the Polish diplomat, has not been in -- if my numbers are correct -- for 12 days to see the two Americans. So we hope very much that there might be a visit this week.
Q Insofar as the wives' visit, has the Iraqi Government said anything about the duration or the frequency?
MR. BURNS: No. As far as I know, Barry, we didn't get any details from the Iraqi Embassy in Amman as to the conditions for the visit, how long they might be allowed to stay, who they might be allowed to see. Obviously, their interest is to see their husbands and to visit them, and we would press for that; but we're going to give all the assistance that we can.
Q But there will be no Americans traveling with them, no State Department representation?
MR. BURNS: There will be no American Government officials traveling with them. Our interests in Baghdad are handled solely by the Polish Government. So the Polish diplomats will come to Amman, meet them, and bring them back up to Baghdad.
Q We have no fears for their safety in Iraq?
MR. BURNS: We certainly would hold the Iraqi Government responsible for the safety of these two women when they visit Baghdad. Obviously, it is not a hospitable environment. That is why we've asked the Polish Government to be sure that they are with these two women throughout the duration of their stay. That is why we have offered them residence in our old Embassy, now our Interests Section in Baghdad.
Q Have you heard from these two women?
MR. BURNS: Excuse me?
Q Have you heard from these two women when they plan to visit?
MR. BURNS: Yes. The State Department was in contact with them on Saturday when we first received word from the Iraqi Government that these visas would be issued. I understand that both women are now making plans to go to Amman. Neither has indicated what their specific plans are -- for instance, what day they would be arriving in Jordan. But when they make those plans and they're ready to talk about it publicly, then we'd be glad to help you with that.
Q The Tribunal in The Hague today issued various statements relating to the leadership of the Bosnian Serbs. Do you have any comment on them, and also what are the implications for the negotiating process?
MR. BURNS: I do have a comment, a rather long comment, if you'll bear with me, but I think it's worth going through.
We understand the Mr. Richard Goldstone who is the prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia has today formally asked the Tribunal to request that the Bosnian Government defer to the Tribunal on the investigation of various war crimes, allegations, and possible prosecution of those responsible.
These allegations, as you know, concern the possible involvement of the Bosnian Serb leadership in a wide range of alleged war crimes and genocide, and alleged crimes by Bosnian Croats against Muslims in central Bosnia between September 1992 and June 1993.
Assuming that the Bosnian authorities comply, this means that they would yield to the international investigation and would provide the Tribunal with the results of its investigations to date. The prosecutor's request specifically names three Bosnian Serb leaders as the focus for the ongoing Tribunal investigations: Mr. Karadzic, who is the head of the Bosnian Serb administration; Mr. Mladic, who is the commander of Bosnian Serb armed forces; and Mr. Stanisic, the Bosnian Serb official in charge of the Bosnian Serb police force.
The prosecutor's request focuses on the possible responsibility of these persons for a variety of crimes by reason of their positions of authority over the forces alleged to have committed these acts. The acts mentioned include alleged genocide, war crimes against the civilian population and destruction of cultural and historical monuments, murder, rape, mistreatment of civilians, torture and other offenses arising from the operation of detention camps, and from attacks on unarmed civilians, unlawful shelling and sniping of civilians and unlawful attacks on U.N. peacekeeping forces and humanitarian operations.
The prosecutor's request does not amount to a finding of guilt on the part of the persons mentioned, but an indication that the prosecutor considers these people to be suspects and wants to assume sole responsibility for further investigation and possible future prosecutions.
I don't have a specific comment on the cases or the individuals under investigation by the Tribunal -- we talked about this, I think, last week -- because this is an ongoing investigation and because the locus of this investigation is with the Tribunal.
However, the United States strongly supports vigorous action by the prosecutor and the Tribunal to investigate and prosecute those responsible for genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity that occurred in the former Yugoslavia. We believe the Tribunal should follow wherever the evidence of such crimes leads, regardless of the position or ethnic identity of the perpetrators.
The United States has played a leading role in supporting the Tribunal in its work. We have, among other things, furnished at our expense over 20 prosecutors, investigators, and other experts to the Tribunal. We've made a voluntary contribution of $3 million to support its operations, in addition to our assessed share of the Tribunal's regular budget; and we have provided extensive information to the prosecutor.
Establishing the truth about what happened in Bosnia and Croatia is essential, not only to justice but it's essential to peace, and responsibility for the atrocities committed does not rest with the Serbs or any other people as a group. It rests with the individuals who ordered and committed the crimes.
Q Is it possible for Mr. Karadzic, since he's been named, to be part of a peace negotiation and will American officials be calling on him in Pale or inviting him to meet them elsewhere in the context of the Contact Group?
MR. BURNS: I think that's an obvious question to ask. It's also getting a little bit ahead of where the Tribunal is. These people, including Mr. Karadzic, are suspects. They have not yet been found guilty by the Tribunal, and it's therefore a preliminary phase.
Q Just to follow on this point, the fact that they are suspects does not change any U.S. policy with regards to talking to them and trying to resolve the political side of the difficulty?
MR. BURNS: Not at this point, because they are suspects and they have not been found to be guilty of the crimes that they allegedly committed. I would just note, though, that we believe that the prosecution of these war crimes is in the long-term interest of achieving peace in the region, and we also believe that people responsible for such crimes must assume full responsibility for their actions regardless of their position or their rank.
And we have emphasized to the Contact Group, to our friends in the Contact Group, that nothing should be done to affect our commitment to the Tribunal, and that all parties involved -- international parties -- should cooperate in its efforts. In particular, we would call upon the Serbs not to interfere with the operations of the Tribunal, and they should not expect to fully rejoin the international community until they fully comply with the Tribunal's requests.
Q Nick, why should the United States continue meeting and negotiating with individuals suspected of genocide?
MR. BURNS: As I said, these individuals have been declared to be suspects, but they have not yet been found guilty by the sole international body that is responsible to find them guilty; and that's why we supported this Tribunal, because we want to get to the bottom of these questions. So in essence, your question is a somewhat hypothetical question. At this point they are suspects. We will continue whatever diplomatic dealings with have with these people for the time being.
Q Do you foresee a Contact Group Foreign Ministers' meeting before the Moscow Summit?
MR. BURNS: There is no decision at this point on whether or not the Contact Group will meet at Ministerial level. It met last week at representative level. The United States believes that for such a meeting to take place, it's got to be very well prepared, and there have to be some reasons to think that this meeting could produce something concrete beyond what the Contact Group representatives have already accomplished.
Right now Ambassador Frasure -- our Contact Group representative -- is back in Washington. He's just returned from the region. After a very interesting visit to the Sarajevo airport, he consulted with Secretary Christopher this morning. So at this point we don't really have an answer to that question.
Q George Kenny has a piece in the Sunday Times yesterday in which he said that the death toll over the past three years in Bosnia has been grossly exaggerated, and he believes it's only about a tenth as much as is widely believed. Did you see that article, and do you have any evaluation?
MR. BURNS: I don't have a specific comment on George Kenny's article, no, and I don't have any specific figures to give to you today. I think the second part is something that we could look into, George.
Q Well, you must have some number.
MR. BURNS: I don't have any numbers in my head right now, but we can certainly look into it for you.
Q I have two questions about the Korean issue.
MR. BURNS: Let's stay with Bosnia for a minute, and then I'll be glad to go to the Korean issue.
Q You said that Serbia should not fully rejoin the international community until they cooperate with the Tribunal. Does this have an implication on the sanctions? Are you saying that sanctions will not be lifted until they fully cooperate?
MR. BURNS: No. My statement just referred to the activities of the Tribunal.
Q But Serbia is under sanctions now -- international sanctions.
MR. BURNS: That's right.
Q Will the sanctions be lifted if Serbia does not cooperate? I mean, there's been a threat of this outstanding for some time that they will not be fully re-integrated until they cooperate fully.
MR. BURNS: I think the Serbs understand fully that it's not only their activities on this question but the question of recognition of other states in the region, including Bosnia. These are factors that will affect whether or not the West is amenable to sanctions relief.
Q It's been suggested that this move by the Tribunal might deal a death blow to the already faltering efforts of the Contact Group, and that what little cooperation there was from the Serbs will now evaporate altogether. Do you have any comment on that?
MR. BURNS: We're going to continue the activities of the Contact Group. We think it's an important forum and is an important objective for the international community and for all the parties to this conflict, and that is an extension of the current cease-fire.
However imperfect that cease-fire has been, especially over the last couple of weeks -- and it's been highly imperfect over the last couple of weeks -- that remains a primary objective of the United States in this process. There is a tremendous amount of fighting going on in Bosnia these days. We would like to avoid the expansion of this fighting into a larger war in the region.
Q How do they even carry on their negotiations if they can't go to Sarajevo? And I see that Karadzic is now saying that he's going to probably close the airport for future visits by the Contact Group.
MR. BURNS: That's a very good question, and we're not prepared to give in to Bosnian Serb demands to change the procedures at Sarajevo airport. These demands represent an attempt by the Serbs unilaterally to redefine the airport's status. Also their attempts to dictate the ground rules for the conduct of legitimate diplomatic business is a serious breach of U.N. agreements.
Specifically on Friday and Saturday, when Ambassador Frasure was in Sarajevo airport with Mr. Steiner, his German colleague in the Contact Group, the Serbs attempted to put a time limitation on Ambassador Frasure's and Mr. Steiner's activities in Sarajevo. They also insisted that in addition to a meeting with the Bosnian Government, Ambassador Frasure and Mr. Steiner meet with the Serb forces in the area.
The United States is not prepared to permit the Serbs to dictate the activities of our diplomats. We understand the United Nations intends to stick firmly to all relevant agreements governing the airport and especially agreements governing the activities of diplomats in the area. Secretary Christopher has asked Ambassador Albright to raise all of these issues with the United Nations in New York. In the meantime, we expect the airport to remain open for the unimpeded delivery of humanitarian aid to Sarajevo under the existing U.N. agreements.
Q Nick, if I could follow, did Mr. Frasure and Mr. Steiner -- did they have to leave? Are they -- where are they now?
MR. BURNS: They chose to leave.
Q They chose to leave?
MR. BURNS: As you remember, they arrived in Sarajevo on Friday, fully expecting that they would be permitted to travel into Sarajevo for meetings with the Bosnian Government.
Q They were Contact Group representatives going to the Bosnians to talk about extending the cease-fire?
MR. BURNS: Yes. As you remember, the week before when the Contact Group had tried to get into Sarajevo, they could not get into Sarajevo; we said at the time that we would like for the first available opportunity to have some of our people brief the Bosnian Government on the meeting with Mr. Milosevic that had taken place the week prior to that.
That was the reason for Ambassador Frasure's travel. When he arrived at the airport, he was informed that there were going to be constraints placed on his activities, the specific ones that I've just mentioned. He was not detained at the airport. I guess in theory he could have gone into Sarajevo but operating under Serb restrictions, and he chose and Mr. Steiner chose to leave on Saturday with Mr. Akashi, because we were not willing to subject our diplomats -- in this case a U.S. and German diplomat -- to unwarranted restrictions on their activities.
Q What were those unwarranted restrictions?
MR. BURNS: I just mentioned them. I'll do it one more time. The Serbs were insisting that there be a specific time limitation on Ambassador Frasure's and Mr. Steiner's activities. They were also insisting that they wanted to have their own meeting with Frasure and Steiner in addition to the meeting that had been scheduled with the Bosnian Government. These two conditions were unacceptable to the United States, and that's why Ambassador Frasure left Sarajevo on Saturday.
Q Finally, on this subject then, no officials of the Contact Group then have been able to get to talk to the Bosnian Government. As of now the matter of an extended cease-fire has not yet been raised -- the Milosevic meeting has not been conveyed. Is that correct?
MR. BURNS: We do have American diplomats in Sarajevo, so there has been ongoing contact with the Bosnian Government. But you're correct to say the Contact Group representatives have not been able to get in twice now.
Q This activity at the airport was a breach of agreements with the United Nations? What -- simply that the airport be kept open?
MR. BURNS: Yes. There are existing U.N. resolutions that give very specific regulations for what one can and cannot do, both the local forces on the ground, but also what rights do international diplomats, in this case American and German diplomats and U.N. representatives, have in terms of where they can go and who they can see.
For the first time on Friday and Saturday, the Bosnian Serbs attempted to put their own constraints unilaterally on the activities of these two diplomats, and we found that was unacceptable.
Q Does this call for a military retaliation by NATO as an arm of the U.N.?
MR. BURNS: It calls certainly for the United Nations to stick firmly to the agreements that have already been established. That is why Secretary Christopher has asked Ambassador Albright to have serious discussions with the United Nations, to encourage the United Nations to adhere to these resolutions and to ask others to adhere to these resolutions.
Q Nick, do the resolutions call for military action by NATO in this case?
MR. BURNS: I don't know the answer to that specific question, Sid, but I think certainly I can tell you where we're going with this. What we're going to try to do is see if working through the United Nations, we can recreate the conditions on the ground in Sarajevo that would allow not only United States American diplomats but diplomats from all the Contact Group countries to do their job.
Q Has the Bosnian Government given us an answer about extending the cease-fire or is this --
MR. BURNS: The Bosnian Government?
Q -- whole rigamarole delaying those negotiations?
MR. BURNS: I think you saw late last week some public statements from Bosnian Government officials on this. We obviously would like to continue talking to them to encourage the cease-fire which expires, I believe, next Sunday.
Q If these Ambassadors couldn't go about their business, then in what way is the United Nations holding up its regime, its agreements? I mean, the diplomats by leaving, haven't they all most confirmed the breach of the agreement?
MR. BURNS: We left because we were unwilling to operate under Serb restrictions.
Q But they could have gone into Sarajevo.
MR. BURNS: They could have gone into Sarajevo operating under Serb restrictions. Our diplomats would have been giving in to the Serb restrictions.
Q I don't understand. If they go into Sarajevo, how is that operating under Serb restrictions? If they go, they stay as long as they want to and then they attempt to leave and (inaudible).
MR. BURNS: As you know very well, Sarajevo is an exceedingly dangerous place and has been so for a long time but especially during the last three weeks. There have been several deaths, including two U.N. French peacekeepers. We obviously want to be able to provide adequate safety conditions for our diplomats as they go into Sarajevo.
We could not assure ourselves that there was adequate safety. We could not assure ourselves -- let me put it in the conditional -- if we chose to defy openly the unilateral restrictions that had been put upon Ambassador Frasure and Mr. Steiner. So we weren't willing to go in under those two conditions.
Q The United States interpreted what the Bosnian Serbs were saying as constituting a threat to the lives of American diplomats?
MR. BURNS: I don't know if I'd want to be that explicit about it. We took the obvious precautions on the issue of safety. We made the right decision in not giving into demands that would violate our freedom of action; the freedom of action of our diplomats.
Q How do you restore their freedom of action? I don't understand that.
MR. BURNS: I think that the action now must be directed to discussions in the United Nations, to convince the United Nations to stick very firmly to all the relevant agreements. Also, to ask the United Nations to work with the Bosnian Serbs so that the status quo that had existed might resume.
Q French Minister Alain Juppe has threatened to withdraw all the French peacekeepers if the cease-fire is not renewed at some stage after the first of May. Are you concerned about that? Have you conveyed all your concerns to the French Government?
MR. BURNS: We've had on-going discussions, daily discussions with the French Government on this issue. France is the largest troop contributor to UNPROFOR. France has a very highly effective troop contingent, and we value very much French participation. We hope very much that through the activities of the Contact Group and discussions at the U.N. we'll have with the parties on the ground, that it will not be necessary for that to take place.
We believe the continuation of UNPROFOR in Bosnia is in the interest of France, the United States, and all parties concerned.
Q North Korea?
MR. BURNS: North Korea.
Q They're saying about the high-level talks, which was suggested by the United States, that North Korea's reaction is very positive but require preconditions. So would you term -- did you get any answer from North Korea, and what's the contents of the precondition?
Another question is, they're also saying about the date -- the high-level talks date -- would be held the first week of May. Can you tell me, is that correct?
MR. BURNS: Secretary Christopher spoke to this issue earlier today. He indicated that our proposal to the North Koreans is that we conduct talks at a higher level in Geneva. The U.S. side would be led by Ambassador Bob Gallucci and that this offer remains on the table. We have not yet had a response from the North Korean Government.
As Secretary Christopher said, we remain very much interested in discussions on this issue. We do not believe that this is an insoluable problem.
Q And on Korea, Secretary Perry spoke yesterday on "Meet the Press," saying -- what I want to ask, does this Department share the concern that Secretary Perry expressed about not only in terms of the security situation in Korea but the danger that some of the material -- the fissionable materials -- some of those bombs might get in the hands of terrorists, and concerned that North Korea might sell some of this material, or distribute it?
Is there any reason the State Department would share this concern?
MR. BURNS: As you know, the Agreed Framework is not based on trust. It's based on verification. There is continuous IAEA verification of a nuclear power plant in question in North Korea. We have no indications that the freeze has been broken. That is a fundamental condition, of course, for the continuation of the discussions from the viewpoint of the United States, that this freeze be maintained. That is our primary interest right now.
We obviously want to get to the point where we can implement fully the Agreed Framework so that the full effects, the positive effects for the United States and the international community, can be brought about. That's our objective in proposing this higher level of discussions in Geneva.
Q That's supposed to start to when, Nick?
MR. BURNS: We first need to get a positive response from the North Korean Government. When we do, then I suppose we will set up specific dates. I think it will be shortly, but I don't believe we've decided exactly which day it would be. But I think early May is a good place to shoot for.
Q Could I go to another subject?
MR. BURNS: Sure.
Q Have you had any response from the Government of Saudi Arabia to the protest last week?
MR. BURNS: I don't believe we have had a specific response. As you know, there was a diplomatic contact on Friday morning here in the Department. I could not, on Friday, characterize the Saudi response and still cannot. I would refer you to the Saudi Government for that.
I would note that shortly after the incident took place we made an immediate demarche to the Saudi Government in addition to the demarche that was made on Friday.
Q You mean, they were called in Friday? Was that the contact?
MR. BURNS: On Friday, I told you about a demarche that had been made by our diplomats here in the Department. But I checked over the weekend on this question and was told that immediately after the incident took place, we did make an immediate demarche to the Saudi Government. So Friday's was at least a second demarche, yes.
Q You also said you were going to do something in the Sanctions Committee. Any update on that?
MR. BURNS: That's a separate issue. The issue I think Tom was referring to was another issue.
Yes, the issue of the Libyan flight to Jeddah, the unauthorized flight, has been referred back to the Sanctions Committee in the U.N., which is a place where authority rests, and the United States will be active in looking into that incident.
Q Just one more, Nick. In the Washington Times this morning, an article about U.S. and Russia standing by the ABM Treaty. Basically, it appears an agreement has been worked out whereby we can continue our theater missile research and deployments, etc. Is this an accurate article? Has the controversy been worked out with the Russians?
MR. BURNS: We are having on-going talks with the Russians on this issue. In fact, Under Secretary of State Lynn Davis has had some meetings over the weekend in London on this and many other issues. So I'm not willing to go into the details of those discussions at this point.
Q Does it appear that this agreement will be ready for the summit?
MR. BURNS: I just can't comment right now. They are on-going negotiations happening far away from Washington, D.C.
(Press briefing concluded at 1:48 p.m.)
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