U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE 95/04/25 DAILY PRESS BRIEFING OFFICE OF THE SPOKESMAN U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE DAILY PRESS BRIEFING I N D E X Tuesday, April 25, 1995 Briefer: Nicholas Burns NORTH KOREA Agreed Framework: Status of U.S. Proposal to Resume Discussions .......1-3 Status of Nuclear Freeze ............................2-3 U.S. Contacts with South Korea and Japan ............3 TURKEY Announcement of Withdrawal of Troops from Northern Iraq ................................................4 U.S. Position on Pipeline from Caspian Sea Area .......4-6 EQUATORIAL GUINEA Opposition Leader Sentenced to Jail ...................6 IRAQ Detained Americans: Polish Diplomat Denied Access .....6-8 --Discussions w/Wives re: Travel Plans ................7,8-9 --Physical & Living Conditions of Detainees ...........8 FORMER YUGOSLAVIA Serbian Violations of Diplomatic Access/ Cooperation in War Crimes Investigation .............9-10 VIETNAM Possibility of Resumption of Human Rights Dialogue ....10
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
DAILY PRESS BRIEFING
TUESDAY, APRIL 25, 1995, 1:11 P. M.
(ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED)
MR. BURNS: Good afternoon. Welcome to the State Department briefing. Nice to see you all today. I'm ready to go directly to whatever questions you have.
Q Nick, there have been a series of inaccurate South Korean reports on the nuclear talks, maybe today they hit it right. They say the U.S. has been told North Korea's ready to resume the talks. I'm hearing otherwise. What do you know?
MR. BURNS: What I know is the following, Barry. Yesterday Ambassador Bob Gallucci received a letter from his counterpart, the First Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs Kang Sok Ju. This is the First Vice Foreign Minister of North Korea. I'm not going to go into the contents of that letter, other than to say that it neither accepted nor rejected the proposal -- our proposal made last week to resume discussions in Geneva. But the letter did ask for further details on the U.S. position.
Ambassador Gallucci will be responding to the Vice Minister in the near future. As we made clear to the North Koreans last week, we remain ready to resume discussions as long as the North Koreans continue to abide by the provisions of the Agreed Framework, specifically and in particular its pledge to maintain a freeze on its existing nuclear program.
Q You remember, both the Secretary and Mr. Gallucci were somewhat baffled as to what North Korea's questions are. In other words, why the talks broke down. Is it any clearer now what it is that caused them to break down -- suspend these talks?
MR. BURNS: As I said, the letter I think did go into, in some detail, to the position of the North Koreans, but I'm not in a position to go into the details of the letter, so I really can't help you with that.
Q (Inaudible) That's all right. But do you know have a clear idea of what it is that they were objecting to?
MR. BURNS: I think that's a question that will become more clear in the future. At this point -- I'm not trying to be evasive, I'm just trying to give you a direct answer. We have a letter in. We're looking at it. We're going to respond to that letter, and we hope that the result of all this will be that the North Koreans agree that it's in our mutual best interests to get back to the negotiating table -- in this case to Geneva -- at a higher level.
But I'm not at liberty to go into our impressions of that letter at this point, Barry.
Q When was it received?
MR. BURNS: The letter was received yesterday afternoon, as I understand it.
Q After the Secretary spoke?
MR. BURNS: That's right. The Secretary spoke, I believe, on the record about 10:30, before his meeting with the Polish Foreign Minister, and at that time we had not received the letter. The letter came in subsequent to that briefing.
Q Faxed or can you say?
MR. BURNS: I don't know how it was delivered to us. If you're really interested, I bet I can get an answer to that question. I didn't ask that question.
Q The South Koreans are saying that the North "can consider senior-level talks if the United States respected its existing position." Is that what you're hearing, and what does that mean?
MR. BURNS: I can't tell you what that means. I've seen the same reports that you have. But what I can tell you is that we think the Agreed Framework ought to be fully implemented. We think it is a deal - - an arrangement that is in the best interests of both countries and in the best interests of the Republic of Korea and of many other countries around the world.
We think this is a good agreement. As we've mentioned a couple of times, it's an agreement that's not based on trust, and it ought not to be based on trust. It's based on verification. There is a continuous IAEA monitoring team of two individuals at the nuclear plant that is the subject of the Agreed Framework, and there are no indications that we have to date, today, that this freeze has been broken. It continues to be honored. That is a primary interest of ours.
But it's obviously a further interest of ours to see that we continue the negotiations, complete them, and that the agreement be fully implemented, and that is our objective, and that will remain our objective.
Q Is the United States prepared to call off joint military exercises with South Korea in the interests of holding these talks in Geneva, as one of the North Koreans has said?
MR. BURNS: I believe we have some -- a limited military exercise is underway currently with the Republic of Korea, and I'll refer you to the Defense Department on the specifics of those exercises, but there is certainly at this point no reason to alter them, and they're continuing and they're going ahead.
Q Nick, did the Administration talk to the South Koreans since receiving the letter?
MR. BURNS: Yes. After we received the letter yesterday afternoon, we were in touch with both the Republic of Korea and Japan, as has been our custom. All along the way throughout these negotiations, we have been in continuous contact with both of those countries because they are members of KEDO -- they are major supporters -- and in the case of the Republic of Korea, of course, will be a major contributor under the Agreed Framework. So, yes, we talked to both of them.
Q It would be safe to assume then that the South Korean Foreign Minister was not talking out of his hat this morning; that he did have some unique insight into the communication?
MR. BURNS: All I can tell you is that we've been in touch. I don't want to characterize his remarks. I'd direct you to that government for an analysis of his remarks.
Q Just to follow-up, a South Korean newspaper report stated that in the letter North Korea demanded that U.S. and South Korea drop the South Korean model of the light-water reactor. How do you respond to that?
MR. BURNS: As I said in response to the first question that Barry asked, I'm not going to get into the details of our diplomatic exchanges over the last couple of days or even the last 24 hours.
Q Do you have any comment on the European Council decision about Turkey? They are asking Turkey to withdraw from Iraq in two months and make changes in the constitution and make some democratic reforms, etc. Do you have any comment?
And connected to that, do you have any comment on 20,000 more troops withdrawn from Iraq yesterday?
MR. BURNS: Yes, we understand that the Turkish Government has announced the withdrawal of five brigades of their military forces in northern Iraq. That's approximately 20,000 men. In addition to the withdrawal of 3,500 men on April 8, this would bring their forces in northern Iraq by our estimates to around 12,000. This is obviously a positive development.
It is consistent with the assurances given to the President and the Secretary of State last week by Prime Minister Ciller that Turkey would meet its commitment that this incursion would be limited in time and in scope -- in scope and duration, as we've been saying. That's a very important assurance, and we fully expect that this will be fully implemented in the near future.
Q What about the European Council decision?
MR. BURNS: I don't have a specific comment on that. I think our position is well-known. We have a very close strategic relationship with Turkey which we highly value, and that sentiment was expressed best by the President and the Secretary last week.
We believe that Turkey has a right to try to cope with a very serious problem of terrorism that has emanated not only from northern Iraq, but from within Turkey's own borders; in the southeast region of its country, and we support them in that effort.
But, as you know, we've believed that their incursion in northern Iraq ought to have an end date. We're very encouraged to see that the Turkish civilian and military authorities are acting on their commitments to us; that this will, in fact, be limited.
Q Last week -- last Sunday, the President issued a statement about the 18th anniversary of the Armenian genocide, and he said, the same statement, the pipeline from the Caucausus, they are coming all the way through Armenia to Turkey. Does that mean that the U.S. has made up its mind on the pipeline's way, instead of Georgia to Armenia?
MR. BURNS: You're correct. The White House issued a statement on the anniversary of the deaths in Armenia a long time ago, at the end of the Ottoman era. And in that statement the President and the White House noted some of the positive developments that have occurred just over the last couple of months.
We talked last week about the fact that Turkey has agreed to open an air corridor to Armenia. That's very important for Armenia which has been isolated over the last couple of years.
There is also, I think, renewed cooperation within the OSCE to provide an OSCE monitoring force in Nagorno-Karabakh and to step up international efforts to try to end the war in Nagorno-Karabakh to deal with the problem -- the massive problem that Azerbaijan has had with refugees inside its own country.
We do have a position on the pipeline from the Caspian. We think it should be built through the Caucausus to Turkey, and this is not a new announcement. We've talked about that before.
Q From Baku to Turkey are two countries that have a probability -- one is Georgia, the other one is Armenia. Yesterday's statement shows that the U.S. Government supported all the pipeline to pass through Armenia instead of Georgia, I mean.
MR. BURNS: That's correct. If you read the White House statement, it talks about our support for a pipeline from the Caspian Sea area to Turkey, and that, of course, will have to transit through the Caucausus.
I'd remind you of one important fact. The U.S. Government is not going to build this pipeline. I believe the pipeline will be built primarily by private companies. They are looking to us for advice, as they are to a number of governments in the area, and we have given them our advice that we think this pipeline should go through the Caucausus to Turkey and not through another neighboring country, with which you are very familiar.
Q There won't be U.S. loan guarantees involved in the transaction?
MR. BURNS: It's hard to say, Sid. Right now, as you know, there's a Western oil consortium in the Caspian Sea area that was announced several months ago. I think there are three or four American companies taking part in that. This is one of the most important oil development areas in the world, and it represents a major future share of the world's production if it is fully realized.
So we have great hope for this project, not only for the fact that it would benefit our companies, it would also be of great help to Azerbaijan and to a number of other countries in the region. Right now they're beginning to prospect for oil. They're beginning to set up their consortium, and they have not, as far as I know, made detailed plans for the pipeline that would ask governments like ours to make decisions now about loan guarantees, so that's getting ahead of the game a little bit. But certainly we'd be amenable to further discussions with the companies about this pipeline. I think we're talking now about developments over a number of years.
Q If I may switch areas. I believe that you are aware that Severo Moto, who is the opposition leader in Equatorial Guinea, and was sentenced to 28 years in jail. Do you have any comment on this? And do you know if the United States plans to take any measures to press for further democracy in that area?
MR. BURNS: I don't have a specific comment for you, but I'm sure I can get an official government reaction shortly.
Q Can we ask about Bosnia?
Q Actually, I had a question about the Americans in Iraq. Press reports that the Polish diplomat was denied access to them again.
MR. BURNS: I'm sorry to say that those press reports are accurate. Sorry to say because it represents the continued refusal of the Iraqi Government to meet a rational test -- a rational humanitarian test.
Mr. Krystosik tried again today to see the Americans and was rebuffed. He has not been given an adequate or proper explanation of why this is so. He has delivered a formal written demarche to the Iraqi Government -- a formal protest -- asserting that he is the protective power of the United States and has a right to see these individuals.
So no good news, once again. I believe it's been now two weeks since he has been able to see the two individuals. I will repeat today what I said yesterday, and that is that one of them has health problems; and on health grounds alone, they should be released. They should also be released because through no fault of their own they found themselves across the border.
The only positive news -- and I say that in the hope that this will turn out to be positive -- is, as you know, the Government of Iraq has decided to grant visas to their wives. We still don't have specific travel plans that have been communicated to us by Mrs. Daliberti and Mrs. Barloon. We are working with them. There were a number of discussions with them yesterday, and we are ready to help them as they make their preparations for this trip.
Q How many times does the Polish diplomat have to be rebuffed before the United States chooses to take some other kind of action? I know you've talked about diplomatic action being the first choice. But this has gone on for quite a while now.
MR. BURNS: It's gone on for two weeks since he's had access to them; you're quite right.
We're going to retain a focus in this short term on diplomacy. That, we think, is the best way to resolve this problem. There is historical precedent -- recent historical precedent -- here in 1993 when Mr. Beaty was held by the Iraqis for a number of months -- many months. His situation was resolved through diplomacy, and so we'll maintain that.
I would remind you that we have said a number of times that we reserve the right to retain a number of options, and we'll keep those options in mind as we proceed.
Q He doesn't seem to know why he's being turned back. I thought Iraq said that the visits will be cut back to once every two weeks. That may be totally unacceptable. What is the great perplexity? He keeps showing up. They said, "Don't bother coming around for a week or so." I don't get it.
Or is it not their position -- is it inaccurately reported that they have notified the diplomat that they were only going to permit visits every two weeks?
MR. BURNS: It's absolutely unacceptable.
Q I know it's unacceptable. But why -- they have given you a reason.
MR. BURNS: All we have is a press report issued last week from someone in Baghdad -- you're never quite sure who is talking there -- that they would no longer honor the agreement to give access to the Polish diplomat once per week. That would be once every two weeks, but that was a press report.
When he is asked, he's been told it's not possible to see them for technical reasons. Now, what does that mean? That's what we've asked, and we haven't had an adequate answer from the Iraqi Government.
Q Do you know what consular access was like for Mr. Beaty. Were there similar denials of access?
MR. BURNS: I don't know specifically what access the Poles had to Mr. Beaty. It's something I can certainly look into.
Q The absence of this access for the last two weeks, you have no indication and no way of knowing what their condition is like since they were last seen?
MR. BURNS: No, we don't. You're quite right, we do not, and that is part of our concern. During the last visit, Mr. Daliberti told our Polish diplomat -- our representative there -- that he had seen a number of Iraqi cardiologists; that he had medical attention. It's our view that he would be better off if he were home seeing his own doctors.
Q Is there any ambiguity that you or the people who work this problem can detect in their permission for the wives to visit? Is there any trickery here or potential trickery? Is it a straight out commitment that they can have visas and they can go on and they can go to the prison?
MR. BURNS: Barry, at this point, what I understand from our Embassy in Amman, which is where our officials are who have had contact with the Iraqis, the Iraqi Government has agreed to give them visas. I don't believe they've made any specific commitments -- although I can check on this -- that they will be able to stay for any length of time, if there are limitations on the length of their stay, or if they are guaranteed certain meetings.
Our obvious interest here is to ensure that if they do go -- and we hope that they will be able to go -- that their safety is taken care of and provided for by the Iraqi Government and that they're able to visit the prison and see their husbands. That seems to be a minimal standard that would have to be met.
But we don't have any specific commitments along those lines as far as I know from the Iraqi authorities. They remain to be worked out.
Q I can understand why you said before, Iraq has said they will grant them visas to visit their husbands. But, literally, Iraq hasn't said that they will be permitted to make those visits. All Iraq has said is, "You can come on to Iraq", is that correct?
MR. BURNS: I believe that is the case. I will be glad to check to see if we have anything more specific. But I've looked into this on a daily basis. I think I've got all the information that we have here.
Q Are Daliberti and Barloon being kept both together in a eight by six cell without sanitary facilities?
MR. BURNS: They're being kept together in an eight by six cell. I believe that there are minimal, inadequate sanitary facilities. They do have some outlet to recreation. They are allowed to move out of the cell, I believe, on a daily basis. But, again, this is two-week old information now.
We were able to get to them some sporting equipment, including a baseball bat and a glove and a ball. They are living under very unfortunate and difficult conditions in this particular prison and we're concerned about it.
Q Nick, going back to yesterday's discussion on Bosnia, it's my impression that the Serbs, who are preventing the free movement of Mr. Steiner and Mr. Frasure, diverted Mr. Jackovich, are, in fact, impeding those who would be speaking to the Bosnian Government about extending -- or re-establishing, in fact -- the cease-fire in Bosnia, and thereby -- by doing so, would be working against their own best interests, seeing as the Bosnian Muslims are on the offensive.
Is this a correct impression, that the Serbs are shooting themselves in the foot?
MR. BURNS: The Serb authorities are certainly working against their own best interests when they violate U.N. resolutions and they violate standard international procedures for free access for diplomats.
If the Serbs have an interest in integrating at some point in the future with the rest of the international community, their performance these days -- now -- will have an affect on the attitude of the international community.
I would even make that argument concerning another issue we talked about yesterday, which is the issue of war crimes. Their inclination to cooperate with that investigation will also determine in the future the attitude of the international community about them.
Q Nick, do you mean to say the Bosnian Serbs or the Serb leadership in Belgrade?
MR. BURNS: In answering the specific question about access to Sarajevo, I was referring to the Bosnian Serb leadership.
Q You mean the Serbs now. Do you mean -- does that apply to all Serbs?
MR. BURNS: I think if you look back to the beginning of the war and you try to answer the question, "Who is responsible for the war?" The Serbs, in general, are responsible for this war and responsible for a number of the atrocities committed in this war. So I wouldn't mind expanding that comment.
Q One more. Is the United States ready to resume a human rights dialogue with Vietnam next month?
MR. BURNS: We have a continuing dialogue -- we have a liaison office there -- a continuing dialogue with them on the issue of POWs and MIAs. That remains our central concern in our discussions with the Vietnamese.
Q A different dialogue -- more on, I guess, specific human rights cases; that we're sending somebody to Vietnam next month, I believe.
MR. BURNS: Let me check into that.
Q Could you?
MR. BURNS: Yes. Thank you.
(Press briefing concluded at 1:33 p.m.)
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